Adventure of the Seas, France & Spain – Day 6 – Sea Day
Day 6 brought another lazy day at sea, a welcome break after three back to back port days. With no destination to visit we enjoyed a lie in and a room service breakfast. On our last cruise I’d massively over ordered so this time I erred on the side of caution, perhaps a little too cautious as the worlds smallest breakfast arrived. We let Finn have the full English on the balcony while we finished off the orange juice and a small selection of pastries.
The waves were calm and the sun was shining so I reclined on one of our loungers with my book until Finn demanded ‘we’ build the Lego we’d bought in Gijon. I wrestled with the bricks and stickers and with just a little help from Daddy built something resembling a Star Wars fighter plane with just a few pieces left over!
We went to the Vivaldi restaurant on deck 3 for the al a carte lunch beginning with a delicious build your own salad from the Tutti salad bar, freshly tossed to order and a meal in themselves. I then had burger and fries while Andy had the Vietnemese shrimp rice andFinn had sausage and chips. We didn’t manage a dessert instead opting for a Royal Fizz in the champagne bar on the Royal Promenade to finish the lunch in style.
The Royal Promenade although smaller than Independence still has a good choice of bars, the English style pub, The Duck and Dog, the Champagne Bar (our favourite), a Sports Bar filled with screens and brightly coloured furniture that we’ve not yet visited and the 24 hour Cafe Promenade, a bar and cafe that serves breakfast pastries in the morning and tasty sandwiches and cakes from lunchtime onwards. They also serve pizza as there is no Sorrentos on this ship and I’d say it’s actually better than the pizza on the Indy.
All afternoon the staff were decorating the ship for the Halloween celebrations this evening. There was ghost themed bunting, skeletons and cobwebs hung everywhere and fabulous displays of carved pumpkins outside all the restaurants.
Finn decided he wanted to go to kids club so I dropped him at Adventure Ocean pausing for a few games of air hockey in the very noisy arcade. We picked him up around 4.45pm, went for a quick glass of red in the Dog and Duck and spotted there was a Halloween Trivia in the Imperial Lounge. It was a multiple choice concerning Halloween traditions around the world, two of the answers being that it’s an English tradition to keep your cats locked in on Halloween and that Mischief Night is a more common name for the night in England! This didn’t go down well with the predominantly English crowd who mostly got these wrong resulting in much good natured booing and the top scoring team getting a rather poor 8 out of 15! The winners graciously and generously gave Finn their prizes of luggage tags and a highlighter having clearly won several other quizzes this week.
Tonight was the second formal night in the main restaurant but we’d booked a table at Giovanni’s. Formal night crossed with Halloween certainly made for some interesting sights on the Royal Promenade with equal measures of black tie, witches and zombies adding to the atmosphere.
Giovanni’s is located on deck 11 to the side of the Windjammer and is a sophisticated Italian restaurant where adults pay $20 to dine and there’s a kids menu at $8. The food is served family style with huge portions big enough to share if you want to and a varied choice of starters, pastas, soups and entrees followed by a dessert trolley. I enjoyed a prosciutto and mozzarella bake and then the filet mignon with a Barolo sauce and garlic fries. Andy had scallops, followed by a mushroom risotto and the filet mignon. The food was incredible, cooked to perfection and plentiful. For once we all managed dessert with me opting for a cannoli filled with cream, Finn a chocolate torte and Andy a mousse style thing with layers of black cherry sauce. It was the dining highlight of our week and well worth the small charge. If you do want to dine, booking is essential so book ahead and early to avoid disappointment.
Following dinner Andy headed to bed and Finn and I went to the Schooner Bar to watch a bit of surprisingly good karaoke before wandering the Royal Promenade to see all the people in costume, many of whom had made a real effort! We’d planned to stay up to watch the Rock Britannia / Halloween dance party but were too tired to make the 10.15pm start. My only criticism of Royal Caribbean is that much of the entertainment is on a little too late for families with young kids but I realise it is scheduled around dinner sittings and we’ve always found something to watch or do even if it’s not that evenings main attraction. All done, we made our way to bed for a big sleep ahead of our final day in Le Havre.
Adventure of the Seas, France & Spain – Day 7 – Le Havre
On the last day of our cruise the Adventure sailed into the French port of Le Havre which is heavily advertised as the gateway to Paris but a little like saying Liverpools the gateway to London. The various sightseeing excursions to the capital took at least ten hours, with around five of those spent on a coach and this was reflected in the considerable prices Royal Caribbean were charging for trips.
Paris is an amazing city and well worth a visit but wed spent nine nights there last year so decided instead to see what Le Havre had to offer. We docked to sunshine however it soon clouded over and there was a distinct chill in the air in contrast to balmy Bilbao! Outside the terminal theres a land train into town at 10 euros return per person but I’d done a little research and discovered a taxi was around 8 for the three of us so we joined a short queue and were soon on our way. It wasnt actually that far and you could walk it in about twenty minutes and many of our fellow cruisers were doing just that.
The taxi dropped us at a rank in the town centre and although it was a French bank holiday and many of the shops were closed the bars and restaurants were open along with bakeries selling French loaves and Patisseries with windows full of cakes and pastries. We strolled through town to a windswept and stony beach fringed by a promenade with a skatepark and a play area. The sight of the residents with their bread sticks had made Finn hungry and he spotted a Subway near to the beach. Andy ordered a small ham and cheese sub in well remembered schoolboy French and the irony of visiting a sandwich chain in a town full of traditional bakeries wasnt lost on us.
We wandered back into the centre and stopped in a large square with Tricolore flags flapping in the wind and fabulous fountains before finding a pavement cafe for a quick glass of vin rouge before jumping a cab back to the ship which was noticeably quiet. I guess people were either on trips to Paris or just taking the opportunity to sample a bit of France with a wander around Le Havre. For once the Windjammer was quiet too and for lunch I had a delicious Lancashire hot pot, Andy had a curry and Finn (still full of Subway) had strawberries carefully picked from the fruit salad.
Following our bite to eat Finn went to Adventure Ocean where the kids have been voting all week to slime one particular member of staff and he was desperate to know which poor team member was about to be gunked!
We took advantage of a child free couple of hours to pack our cases and we chose the self assist departure which basically means you can keep your cases in your room over night providing you carry them off yourself anytime between 6.15am – 8.15am. If you don’t mind packing your cases and putting them outside your room by 11pm the night before you can choose a preferred departure time and porters will deliver your cases port side for you to collect at leisure which may be preferable for some.
With the packing done we headed to the champagne bar which was minus any bar staff so we grabbed two glasses of red from the Dog and Duck and sat in the more comfortable champagne bar to drink them. We checked the menu in the main dining room which was less than inspiring with a lamb shank and a few fish dishes I didn’t fancy so we took a family vote and agreed Johnny Rockets would be a good choice for our final meal aboard.
We’d already prepaid tips to secure my time dining so we could escape the main dining room without any guilt! We arrived at the diner around 5pm and proceeded to eat our body weight in burgers, fries and onion rings, I even tried a sundae but was defeated half way through. Following a carb overload, the adults needed a lie down but Finn was adamant he wanted to go to PJ movie night at Adventure Ocean so he changed into his pyjamas. The kids were all decorating pillowcases with fabric pens which they got to take home afterwards, a lovely memento at no extra charge. I returned to the cabin to try and stay awake till the session ended at 10pm!
A rather rocky night followed which Finn thankfully slept through and we docked around 5am. We were up early and phoned the valet parking arranging to meet at 6.45am, said goodbye to our room attendant Ezra who had taken good care of us all week and made our way to deck 1.
Unfortunately disembarkation was chaotic. We queued for around 40 minutes in the corridors near the lifts as the gangway wasn’t down for tidal reasons despite being told we could embark from 6.15am. This area got busier and busier as more passengers arrived with their cases and I feared we may end up with a crush situation.
To add to the confusion the ship docked at QE2 Terminal as Quantum was in our original berth at the city terminal. None of this was announced so I suspect there were many confused passengers having to board buses to their parking areas. Thankfully wed made our valet parking aware of the change and so after a very frustrating queue for 30 minutes made worse by crew pushing in front to disembark and no one managing the crowds or communicating the issues we finally disembarked to find our car waiting in the short stay car park. The valet parking worked brilliantly and ensured we were quickly on our way out of the port while many were still waiting for buses to retrieve their cars. A fairly painless 4 hour drive home and we were on our sofa ready to enjoy a Sunday roast by lunchtime.
All in all a very enjoyable and affordable half term break, another good Royal Caribbean experience only let down by the frustration of disembarkation. The ship, food and entertainment were all fantastic and were already thinking about Allure out of Barcelona in May! Watch this space…..