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Michele

Age: 29+ tax

Occupation:Broker

Number of Cruises: 1st

Cruise Line: Royal Caribbean

Ship: Mariner of the Seas

Sailing Date: July 3rd, 2005

Itinerary: Western Caribbean

I enjoyed myself so much and had so much fun, that I don't know where to begin. After perusing every cruise review website and reading almost every review on the Mariner, I couldn't wait to submit my own. I must apologize because this is a LONG, but informative review. This was our first cruise. I was traveling with my cousin Valerie, and my best friend of 20 years Tawanna. We decided to do a ladies trip and leave the men and children home this time. We flew down from New York (JFK) on that Sunday July 3rd-my birthday. After a few tense moments at the airport where we thought Valerie was going to miss the plane and me being apprehensive about flying we were off to an exciting start. Once landing at Orlando International we were able to find the representative from Royal Caribbean with a sign that read "Mariner of the Seas" with no problem. However, the gentleman was not the most friendliest or most helpful. But as we were led to the crew that would be checking our transfer vouchers and leading us to board the bus we found that his attitude was an isolated incident. The bus driver and other representative were very nice and very helpful. Off we were for the 45 minute ride to Port Canaveral arriving at 12:30 PM. The bus was very clean, comfortable and the temperature was at a good setting-not to hot, not to cold. Driving up and seeing the Mariner gave us goose bumps, as it was a beauty. We also saw the Disney Magic in port but it could not compare in size or in elegance. After getting off the bus we walked straight into the terminal where we had to go through metal detectors and then up the escalators where we encountered a long line to check in. However, the line moved very quickly, the check in process was really quick and painless. Next we were taking our welcome aboard photo. The whole process took about 20 minutes. When first boarding we were in awe. By now it was 1:00 and access to cabins were permitted so we dropped off our carry-ons and headed to the Windjammer for lunch. Let me just say when first entering our cabin we were shocked at the size as it was small. However the cabins are lovely and clean. There are so many storage compartments and the beds are the most comfortable. After the initial shock wears off, the cabin size is not bad at all. For our welcome aboard lunch this would be the first of many good lunches at the Windjammer. There was a variety of things: delicious hamburgers, hotdogs, and fries. As well several hot dishes of meats, veggies, potatoes, pizza, sandwiches, pasta, and an Asian food area (Jade). There were several drink stations also serving complimentary ice tea, lemonade, and water. Soda was also available to purchase. There were also waiters going back and forth selling the famous "welcome aboard" drinks for a $5.95 charge on your sea pass.

After lunch we went back to our cabins to see if our luggage had arrived and to prepare for the mandatory muster drill. The muster drill was hot, uncomfortable but necessary. After returning to the cabin from the muster drill we saw all of our luggage outside of the cabin, and with 3 women traveling there was a lot of luggage. We unpacked and got ready for dinner. It was now that we met our cabin steward Lloyd. He was professional and nice. He did his job very well. Now it was time for our first dinner. We had early sitting and were in the Rhapsody of Blue dining room on the first level. This in my opinion was the best one. It was the most spacious, and it was where Captain Johnny's table was located. In fact we were 2 tables away from Captain Johnny's. We met our head waiter Mario, and assistant waiter Melvin. Mario was efficient and funny, although there were just one or two things that could've been improved upon. But kudos to Melvin-he was exceptional. He remembered all of drink and bread preferences. I felt he should've gotten the majority amount of gratuities. With the food, it was hit or miss. I have to admit, this was the one area I was disappointed in. I won't go into everything that was served or consumed. But I will list what I found to be delicious and what I did not like from the dining room: a dessert-savarin was to die for!!! The banana cream pie was the best I've ever had!! Also good were the bananarama frozen soup, the ice cream and lady fingers, the steak and the jerk chicken. And the strawberry daiquiri (virgins of course) was the best I've ever had. Now for the not so good: the prime rib was nasty as was the watermelon gazzepo, and chicken soup. I didn't care for the other desserts either. We ate all dinners except 1 in the dining one, one night we ate at the Windjammer. We ate all lunches in the Windjammer and half of our breakfasts in the Windjammer and half in the dining room. Breakfast at both venues was okay. Again, I was a little disappointed. In the Windjammer the items that I enjoyed were the burgers, hot dogs and fries, a rum cake dessert, the pasta, bbq ribs and the honey fried chicken. And for breakfast the ham, grits, and french toast were good. Over all the food in the Windjammer was good although some items could have been served a little warmer and the eggs were too runny. Most of the servers were very friendly and very helpful. We never ate at Chops, Portofino's or Johnny Rockets. We just didn't find the point in paying extra for food when there was so much. One thing for sure, you will find something that you like. And I am a very picky eater, so don't fret. I should also mention that our sailing was the "Hurricane Dennis" cruise. More on that later. For our days at seas we kept ourselves busy with the different shows, people watching, strolling the Royal Promenade and shopping in the stores, and exploring different parts of the ship. We also hit the casino one day, we tried bingo one day ($35 a pop), and we were disappointed that we did not win the $13,000 jackpot. We saw the Ice Show but we weren't particularly interested in it although the performers were very talented. We liked the welcome aboard show with our cruise director: James Andrews. He was great, as was Captain Johnny Favelin. We loved the Quest and the farewell show. The love and marriage show was okay. But not as funny and ummm...raunchy as the ones they do in the Poconos, Penn.

Now for our port days...well Hurricane Dennis kind of put a damper on things. We originally scheduled to go to Labadee, Jamaica, the Cayman Islands and Cozumel, Mexico. We did get to go to Labadee and Jamaica. However due to the Hurricane, we missed the Cayman Islands and Mexico. RCI did substitute by taking us to Nassau, Bahamas instead. Labadee was a nice relaxing day on the beach, the floating mats are great. The bbq lunch was alright. However, the vendors at the outdoor markets were horrendous. I've never seen or experienced anything like that before. Jamaica was great!!! We did not book any tours with RCI. Instead we booked an independent tour with Peat Taylor Tours. In a word they were fabulous!!! The compliments and recommendations that I saw in different reviews for Peat Taylor were well deserved. He and his adorable son O'neal were great. They met us at the end of the pier and we went through several areas to Fern Gulley which was basically a "rain forest" with lots of greenery. We then headed over to Dunn's River Falls. Valerie climbed along with others, Tawanna and I however decided not too. Today in Jamaica was HOT!!! We did dip our toes into the water from the falls and it was FREEZING!!! We stayed at the falls for about 2 hours. While exiting we went the WRONG WAY and was hassled by vendors wanting to sell us "gifts". However a polite, but firm "no thank you" was all that we needed to say. From there Mr. Taylor dropped us off for lunch. Some chose to go to Margaritaville,we opted to go to the "Jerk Center" after reading some reviews. The food was fantastic. After lunch Mr. Taylor and that cute O'neal picked us up and dropped us off to shop at Island Village which was in walking distance (a hot 10-15 minute walk) of our ship. There I was able to do most of my souvenir shopping. There were great prices on spices, vanilla, alcohol (for those who desired) and tee-shirts. However, the Bob Marley tee-shirts were a bit over priced. It was a great day; we enjoyed Jamaica so much that I am thinking about going there next summer for a land vacation. It was that night that we received an announcement from Capt. Johnny that there would be a change in the itinerary. We therefore had the next 2 days at sea with plans to arrive in Nassau on Saturday. The next night as we passed the tip of Cuba the ship was really rocking and the waves were quite high, it was raining and thundering and lightning. It was quite scary; but it passed. In any event we arrived that Sat-(our last day) at Nassau, Bahamas as planned. Upon getting off of the ship Tawanna and I were a little disappointed with the Bahamas. We were not impressed at all. I don't think I'd ever go back there unless I was going to one of the nice resorts like Atlantis. We walked around for a little while and bought a few souvenirs and headed back to the ship. It is then that we began the sad task of packing up and preparing to disembark tomorrow. The disembarking process wasn't too bad, just a lot of waiting around. We had a 1:45 PM flight back to NYC and therefore our colored tags were for the later disembarkation. We were finally called at 10:30 AM although everyone had to clear out of their cabins by 8:00 AM. Clearing customs and everything else was really quick and painless. Embarkation and disembarkation was by far much easier and painless than I had anticipated. Next we were led into a warehouse to claim our luggage which is similar to the baggage claim procedures at airports. Next we were boarding our bus back to the airport. While we were very excited to get back home and see our children, there was a little bit of sadness. A vacation that we had planned and anticipated for, for so long was at an end. We are definitely planning to sail again, and only on Royal Caribbean. We are trying to go back on the Mariner next summer. I highly recommend the Mariner of the Seas. Feel free to email me with any questions.

Just some final thoughts and tips:
1. Add your gratuities to your sea pass (much more convenient.
2.) Definitely bring Dramamine or bonine or the sea bands.
3.) In the dining room try the savarin for dessert.
4.) Bring plenty of $1 bills.
5.) Definitely do not miss the Quest, welcome aboard or farewell shows.

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