Number of Cruises: 2
Cruise Line: Royal Caribbean
Ship: Mariner of the Seas
Sailing Date: May 30th, 2004
Itinerary: Western Caribbean
Sailing Date: May 30th, 2004
I was so excited to hear that I was going on a Royal Caribbean cruise. I went straight to the computer to look up some fun shore excursions. I was very surprised at how easy this was to book. There were so many great options at each port!
We flew to Orlando, and were greeted by people from Royal Caribbean who somehow knew us by name as soon as we walked up. They led us directly to the bus where our luggage was put under the bus. We had a smooth and comfortable bus ride. The bus was clean, the seats were comfortable, and the heat was set to a good temperature so that we would not be sweltering from the Orlando heat.
We got off the bus at the port after having been greeted by a RCCL crewmember. There were long lines in the port, but we had made special arrangements to be in a special (and very short) line. I don’t know how we did this, but you should definitely find out how for your vacation. We got our cards, which acted as a room key and credit card (the credit card option can be removed for the younger children). We walked through the doors, and there was a photographer who could take your picture as you walked onto the boat.
We got on the boat, but didn’t have to worry about taking our luggage anywhere. It was taken up to the room by RCCL. We were not yet allowed up to the room because it was still being cleaned, so we decided to go to the Windjammer where lunch was being served. We had to wait a very long time at the entrance until opening (this was only on departure day), but we found that the food was very good. The Windjammer was a buffet that had everything…hamburgers and French fries, all different kinds of salads, meat carving stations, an Asian station, a beverage station, pasta, pizza, soup, yummy desserts, and many other great foods. We found that we enjoyed the Windjammer throughout our vacation.
We were upset that our luggage didn’t arrive to our room until about 6 o’clock at night, but we were so excited about our cruise that this didn’t even matter. We went to our room when it was ready, and it was beautiful. It was a Grand Suite with a balcony double the size of most others. The entire room was very spacious, including the big bathroom. We slept 4 people in this room without a problem. If you’re thinking about not getting a balcony because you “won’t really use it” think again. We thoroughly enjoyed our balcony, which gave so much more light and beauty to the room. Plus, we could always hear the sounds of the ocean and could see the sun rising and setting.
Dinner at the dining room was good, not great. There were many great choices, along with the “always on the menu” options for those picky eaters. One thing that disappointed me was that my dad tried to order shrimp cocktail on a night that it wasn’t on the menu. They should have been able to bring it to him, right? They firmly answered that they were unable to serve this to him. We also didn’t really like our waiter. He wasn’t as upbeat and friendly as the other waiters, and when he noticed that the waiter in the section next to us was doing a better job at connecting with his tables, he tried to do the same. He started calling the desserts “yummy yummies”, which didn’t impress us more. On our last cruise, we had really liked our waiter. He had such a great personality, and even though this wasn’t a RCCL cruise, we were still looking for that same service. We didn’t get that on the Mariner.
There were so many great activities on the ship, and we really enjoyed our shore excursions. One thing not to do is Dunn’s River Falls in Ocho Rios, Jamaica. Most people enjoy this trip, but I didn’t. This was because the guide claimed that we were a “special” tour, and decided to take us up the middle of the falls! The water was rushing at us, and I honestly felt unsafe. This was not very fun. We did a dolphin excursion in Cozumel which was fun, and my favorite excursion was in Grand Cayman where we went out on a nice, big boat to swim with the stingrays. Labadee was basically just a place to sit around on the beach, and there wasn’t much to do.
All of the activities on the ship were fun. Rock climbing, mini golfing, relaxing by the pool…the fun is endless! Everything on the ship was fun and exciting, even when the weather wasn’t so good.
We found out that since we had booked a suite, we were allowed in the Concierge Lounge. Here there was a free continental breakfast, free soda (there is NEVER any free soda anywhere else on the ship), and free appetizers before dinner. We met some nice people in this very relaxed, laid back atmosphere. There was a free concierge service, which even had videos that you could rent. This was nice, because not many people knew about this spot, and it was exclusively for people in suites. There was even a special key to get in! This was a really fun part of our cruise.
Departure went smoothly, although it was very long. We really enjoyed our cruise on the Mariner of the Seas, and were sad to go home.