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First impressions of Royal Caribbean, new port terminal

By John Toth

The Bulletin

First impression of Royal Caribbean Adventure of the Seas - I was impressed, but….

Parking was a breeze. We paid for on-site parking and got a spot that’s about a 2-minute walk from the terminal. The parking lot staffer was very helpful. She saw that someone pulled out and directed us to the parking place.

The terminal is amazing. I have seen videos of it on YouTube, but being there in person was a lot better. It just opened last year, is spacious, and even smells great. The staff is fantastic. My working vacation started right there.

Happy people were anxious to get on board but didn't mind the short wait. Little children were well-behaved. Bigger children were mostly absent since the following Monday was a school day.

Going through security was sort of easy. I set off the metal detector a half dozen times, taking more stuff out of my pockets as I tried again.

“Take off your belt,” suggested the polite clerk who worked the machine.

I did, and it worked. I lit up the green light as I went through the metal detector for the last time. Sharon, my co-worker, traveling editor, and fellow passenger, got the green light on the first try. The machine must like women more.

Other security checks took only a few minutes since we did all the paperwork online before boarding. We showed our boarding passes and passports; they took our photos, and we were done.

Our boarding for the Carnival Breeze last August went smoothly also, but the big difference is the magnificent terminal. Carnival uses existing buildings for its terminal. They’re adequate, but not special. The terminal is not going to make a difference in which ship I’ll book next time. But it’s a nice add-on.

One nice feature of this cruise was the price. I booked it during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend when Caribbean was running Black Friday sales. I booked an ocean-view stateroom. I like inside rooms because they cost less. Sharon doesn't like a room without windows. She also does not like balconies, so we settled for an ocean view room.

Royal Caribbean tried almost daily to upgrade us to a balcony room and even a suite (which was tempting), but I stuck to my guns and kept my first choice.

Once on board, the friendly staff directed us to the food - the buffet on Deck 11. Of course, we had to take the glass elevator to get up there. With my GoPro in hand, we made our way up to the food deck, which is also the pool deck - one of the fun decks.

The other cruisers in the elevator were curious about what the big deal is. I told them that I also did this on the Carnival Breeze. We live in Brazoria County, where there aren’t any elevators that go 14 floors up. The ship’s glass elevator was like an amusement park ride, for me at least.

I like to video as the elevator goes up, and I can get a bird's-eye view of the promenade. The other passengers just looked at me like I was crazy.

I also like to video as airplanes take off and land. I have done that since the advent of those bulky video camcorders that were supposed to be secured in the carry-on luggage under the seat or in the overhead compartments. I hoped that no one would snitch on me.

It’s easy now with smartphones, and I doubt the airlines care anymore.

Our first dining experience on Adventure was excellent. I ate way too much, including dessert.

What wasn’t excellent was that salespeople with specialty restaurants kept pushing reservations at a discount.

They were quite persistent. Between bites of my included meal, I tried to tell them that I had not decided yet on which specialty restaurants to frequent during the cruise. Royal may want to tone this down a little. I know that they have to make their commissions, but I’m not a fan of solicitations while I eat.

What I could not tell them is that the food included in the price of the cruise is good enough for me. I like the fancy main dining room and the buffet. I don’t pick a cruise line based on what specialty dining they offer. I may or may not go there - probably not.

We took this cruise at the end of January, at the peak of cold winter weather, and said goodbye to the big freeze, rain, tornadoes, and other cold, unpleasant winter events. It was a nice break from the season I liked the least.

My search for summer in January had ended. I think we’ll have to repeat this excursion next winter.


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