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Age: 37

Occupation:Hospital Administration

Number of Cruises: 2

Cruise Line: Royal Caribbean

Ship: Mariner of the Seas

Sailing Date: September 11th, 2005

Itinerary: Western Caribbean

My husband and I just completed a 7 day Western Caribbean cruise on RC’s Mariner of the Seas.

This is our second cruise. Our first was to the Eastern Caribbean in 2003 on RC’s Navigator of the Seas.

We decided to get to Port Canaveral one day early so that we could be there and not feel rushed. We stayed at the Radisson at Port which was an OK hotel (Nothing to write home about).

Day 1- We Board
On Sunday morning, we took the complimentary shuttle provided by the hotel to the Port to board the ship. We were concerned that the check-in process would be like our first cruise (long lines and long waits to board the ship), but we were pleasantly surprised when we arrived at the terminal. RC has definitely streamlined the process for check in. From the time we left the shuttle, we were actually on the ship in 30 - 45 min. Although we were not allowed to go to our staterooms until 1 pm., we had lunch in the Windjammer Café and by the time we were done with lunch, it was time to go to our room. By 2 pm our luggage was delivered to our stateroom and we were able to unpack and get settled. We had the main seating for dinner and met two nice couples that we would be having dinner with for the next 6 nights. After dinner, we went to first production show in the Savoy theatre. It was far from amateur and the cruise director, James Andrews is a “ball of fire”. Very energetic, made you feel welcome and made you feel proud that you and selected RC and were on of the largest ships in the world.

Day 2 – At Sea
This is typically one of my favorite days on the ship. You can relax and do on-board activities with out the stress of having to be somewhere. The only draw back to “at sea” days, is that everyone is on board, so the pool is a little more crowded and the café is a little busier, but other than that, you hardly realize that there are 3,000+ people around you. Went to dinner and the show. Looking forward to tomorrow in Labadee.

Day 3 – Labadee
We rise for a late breakfast and then off to Labadee by tender. It is truly a beautiful island with beautiful beaches. We find a nice spot under a palm tree and just chill. There are some water activities you can choose to do, but we have been to Labadee before and just like to hang out at the beach. RC prepares lunch for you on the island. It’s a BBQ with burgers, hot dogs, ribs, cole slaw, etc. Local merchants are also selling their wares in a small market that is right by the beach. If you like to shop in peace, I suggest that you save your shopping for another port. The merchants are quite pushy – trying to get you to look at their merchandise (which, by the way looks just like the next merchant’s anyway). If you have the fortitude to stick it out, enjoy. Otherwise, avoid it.

Day 4 – Ochos Rios, Jamaica
We took the recommendation of other reviews and booked a private tour with PEAT TAYLOR. We were not disappointed. He met us at the port on time as promise and took us to Dunns River Falls (our admission to the falls was included in the price of the tour - $35.00). We were one of the first groups to arrive at the Falls and therefore were one of the first groups to make it up to the top. I would recommend that you bring a change of clothes. We changed into our bathing suits when we got to the Falls and then we changed back into our street clothes when we were done. That way you don’t have to be in wet clothes all day. I rented aqua shoes to climb the falls (my husband brought his from home). The shoes are $5 to rent. Our guide was very nice and comical and used our camera to take pictures of us going up the falls. It was an experience of a life time. If you can, do it. You may be sore for the next day or so, but the experience is soooo worth it. Be sure to get your Appleton Jamaican rum and the Jablum Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee (which runs over $30/lb. here in the states). Peat’s tour is a very interactive tour. You can sing, you can ask him questions, you can tell him where you want to go. The group decided that they wanted to go to the Ruins for lunch. This is a beautiful restaurant built around a water fall that is absolutely breathtaking. This tour also took us to Fern Gulley and to a local pre-school where we got to take pictures of the kids and stretch our legs. I recommend this private 100%. You get the more tour for less than what RC’s excursions cost.

Day 5 – Grand Cayman
We did not plan an excursion for this port. However, if we come back, we will definitely do Stingray City. Everyone says that it is unbelievable. We just did some shopping. It was hot at the blazes there so it made it a little uncomfortable walking around. Thank goodness for the stores with the super blowing air conditioners. Whenever you need a break from the heat – step into a store and cool off. If you are in the market for a timepiece or jewelry, this is a good place to look.

Day 6 – Cozumel, Mexico
We also did not plan an excursion for this port. We took a cab from the terminal into down town and did some shopping. The terminal was very crowded and it was a pain trying to get a cab. Initially we thought that that we would just walk it. But it was too far for us (some did tackle it). The cab dropped us at the Forum Shoppes in downtown and we worked our way through the different stores. There were also some shops in the terminal if you don’t want to stray too far from the ship. So much sterling silver, it is a bit overwhelming. The merchants here are also a challenge. I walked pass several stores because I did not want to deal with the “pressure” of the merchants. When we were done shopping we hailed a cab back to the ship.

Day 7 – At Sea
It’s nice to relax after 4 days of getting up and out early. We played some miniature golf and just relaxed. It’s our last dinner onboard and so we decided to make reservations for dinner Chops. The food and the atmosphere are first class. It’s worth the $20 per person surcharge. Be sure to book reservations in advance. The farewell production show at the end of the day was great!

It was a great cruising experience. Our Seapass account at the end of the cruise reflected correct charges, some folks did have a problem with being charged for things they didn’t purchase. Our stateroom attendant, Edna was the best. Our Waiter at dinner, Monica was also fabulous. We did not have a problem with service at all. I got a pedicure in the spa one day and it was a bit pricey ($61), but I was on vacation and didn’t mind paying the money. We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. The only thing that I did not like about this cruise was the loud music they played at the pool. The ship has its on band that plays Caribbean music by the pool, but the volume was so loud that it really detracted from the “mood”. We went and sat in the Solarium when it got to be too much. On our last cruise, there was also a band, but the volume was just perfect. I did make a note of this on the RC evaluation form we completed the final day.

Debarkation –
Our bags were outside our staterooms by midnight on Saturday night. Our bag color (Yellow 1 ) was called at 8:00 am. We were off the ship and on the shuttle in about an hour. The process was smooth and simple. Our shuttle back to the Orlando airport broke down 20 min. into the trip. So we had to wait for another bus to take us. Fortunately our flight was not until later, but we decided to take an early shuttle so that if anything went wrong (which it did), we would not miss our flight. The delay did cause some folks to miss their flights out. My advice is to get off the ship as early as possible, unless of course you have an evening flight. Everyone is off the ship by 10:30 anyway.

We are already planning our next cruising adventure. It is well worth the planning and the money. Enjoy!

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