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Noreen Chin

Age: 38

Occupation:Human Resources - Vice President

Number of Cruises: 3

Cruise Line: Royal Caribbean

Ship: Mariner of the Seas

Sailing Date: March 5th, 2006

Itinerary: Eastern Caribbean

Noreen - 37 years old; First Vice President at an Investment Banking Firm in New York City. I will be the author of the report.

Cathy – 37 years old; Vice President at an Investment Banking Firm in New York City.


My husband Paul and I went on our first cruise in May 2003 on Royal Caribbean’s Voyager of the Seas. Prior to that, I was leery of cruises thinking I’d feel trapped on a boat and bored. I love to be busy all day and our trip on Voyager proved that there are tons of things to do on a cruise. We booked a balcony cabin for that cruise and upgraded at the pier to the owner’s suite. We had a great time and decided we definitely want to cruise again. In October 2003 Paul and I went on our second cruise on Royal Caribbean’s Serenade of the Seas. Once again, we had a great time and confirmed that we enjoyed cruising.

Paul bought a small business in early 2005. He expanded and took on a second place already. He works 7 days a week and hasn’t been able to take any time off. He doesn’t want me to miss out on taking vacations so I spent several vacations in 2005 going to Disney World with various friends and family members.

I’ve known Cathy since 1998. We used to work in the same department. We both have different jobs now but are still at the same company. Cathy is single and had a bunch of single friends that she used to travel with. Most of them recently either got married, found boyfriends, had kids, etc. When I was telling Cathy my saga of Paul never having any time off and me having to tag along on other people’s vacations, she mentioned she is looking for a travel buddy now too.

In January 2006 Cathy and I went out to dinner. We were talking in general about vacations and she mentioned that she was serious when she said she’d be happy to travel with me if I needed someone to go on vacation with. We realized we both had some vacation time we needed to use before the end of March. We started tossing around ideas about where to go and what we would like to do. Cathy is very laid back and is open to any ideas. She’s never been on a cruise before but wanted to try one. She mentioned wanting to see St. Thomas and St. Maarten and I know that means Eastern Caribbean. I’ve never been to either of those islands myself. My friend Kim (another friend from work who cruises several times a year and talked me into my first cruise back in 2003) just cruised on the Mariner of the Seas in January 2006 and said it was her best cruise yet.

I had a Disney trip planned for the end of January so Cathy and I figured we’d talk about a possible cruise when I got back.

Cathy and I talked the beginning of February and decided the Mariner of the Seas Eastern Caribbean cruise sounded like a great trip for us. We tossed around some dates and the week that worked out was March 5 – March 12. I was hoping to see those dates on a happy hour special but unfortunately, that week wasn’t one. If we could have gone two weeks later (leaving March 19) we could have saved several hundred dollars each.

Cathy knows I’m a type A hyper person who needs to be constantly busy. She already told me she needs some time for vegging at the pool. I told her that’s fine, I can amuse myself while she does that. I don’t want her to feel she has to run around with me constantly if she wants some time to relax.

The Cruise

The Mariner Itinerary is as follows:
Sunday – Leave from Port Canaveral Florida
Monday – At Sea
Tuesday – Puerto Rico
Wednesday – St Thomas
Thursday – St Maarten
Friday - At Sea
Saturday – At Sea
Sunday - Return to Port Canaveral

February 8, 2006 I called the travel agent I used for my last two cruises – Cathy from Captain’s Club Cruises who was able to give me the prices for the various types of cabins. She’s the one who suggested switching to March 19 to save some money due to that week being a Happy Hour special. Unfortunately, the week change didn’t work for Cathy (my travel buddy). I had prices for all types of room both with Cathy and I sharing a room as well as prices for us each getting our own room and paying the single supplement.

We decided to get our own rooms. Cathy wanted our rooms to be near each other. Cathy (the travel agent) was able to find us Promenade rooms that were midship and right next to each other but not connected. I’m in room 6581 and Cathy is in room 6579. The price was $1,399 each, but we added the insurance and our total was now $1,477.79 each. When we were thinking of sharing a room, we were going to go with a balcony room and that would have been $1169 each with taxes and port fees before insurance. For an extra $230 each, we were able to get our own cabins (yes we downgraded from a balcony to a promenade, but that’s OK). We booked it and since we are leaving in a few weeks had to pay the full amount immediately.

We originally chose the early dinner seating. Cathy (the travel agent) called back to say we were waitlisted for early as that was booked. Cathy (my travel buddy) said it’s fine, we can just keep late dinner so we don’t have to rush back from the ports. It’s noted in the reservation that I’m a vegetarian.

I live Northern New Jersey (Bergen County) and Cathy lives in New York City. We are going to fly Jet Blue to Orlando out of JFK. We were on the phone with each other and both went on and booked our flights at the same time. We had a bit of a scare when we both hit submit at the same time and mine came back confirmed and hers came back as the flight was full. She tried again and was able to get on the flight, but the price went up by $30 in those few seconds.

We’re on flight 1051 on Sunday 3/5 at 7am leaving from JFK and landing in Orlando at 9:50am.

Coming home we’re on flight 152 on Sunday 3/12 leaving Orlando at 1:30pm and landing in JFK at 3:55pm.

We debated flying down on Saturday instead of the morning of the cruise, but it didn’t work out.

We are trying to figure out the best way to get from the airport to the pier. We originally thought of renting a car and I found one-way prices that were very reasonable. Cathy suggested instead of renting a car, since we would have to go to the rental counter and wait there, get the car, stop at a store to pick up water, etc, drive to Port Canaveral, find the place to drop off the car, then take a shuttle to the ship – why not just take car service. So I started looking into car service and asked for suggestions on Cruise Critic. I received information on Happy Limo, Art’s Shuttle, and Ed Korgan. Since Cathy used to use Happy as her password all the time, she was partial to that one.

On 2/28/06 I called Happy Limo to book a towncar for our trip from airport to pier and back. I also requested a grocery stop.

We started reading about the excursions on line and have some ideas as to what we want to do. We’ve tossed around Parasailing, snorkeling, ziplining, shopping, sight seeing, etc. We are going to have some busy days in the ports. Cathy thought I was a bit nuts when my original idea for St Thomas had us on the Tram in the morning, a mid day excursion, then parasailing late afternoon. She said lets just book one excursion in advance for St. Thomas and one excursion in advance for St Maarten and play the rest by ear which would give us time to wander around and see the islands.

On 2/16/06 we booked two excursions:
St Thomas – Parasailing at 4pm for $79 per person. We chose 4pm which is the last available time slot because that gives us the whole day to do the Tram to Paradise Point, shop, go to a beach and still get to Parasail.

St Maarten – America’s Cup Sailing Regatta at 8:30am for $84 per person. I read very good feedback for this excursion so was happy to get it as I heard it sells out quickly.


The week before our trip
I was busy at work getting ready to be out of touch for a week. I also spent some time shopping for some new clothes/shoes for the cruise. I found two new outfits for the two formal nights, a new bathing suit, and a new outfit for one of the casual nights.

I reminded Cathy that we were on the 7am flight. She thought it was at 9am.

The day before our trip – Saturday 3/4/06
I had to pack. I’m not a good packer. I had a huge suitcase that weighed 62 pounds (luckily Jet Blue allows you 70 pounds per checked bag) as well as a rolling carry on. I’d rather take things and not wear them than not have them. I read advice about packing clothes in big Ziploc bags which I did, but I think that’s part of what took up so much room in the suitcase. This is the same bag that Paul and I used for both of our stuff for our last cruise; meanwhile, I filled it up with just my stuff. I guess having 8 pairs of shoes didn’t help. But I was OK with it since I started off with 10 pairs of shoes and cut it back to 8.

Sunday 3/5/06
The day started very early at 3:15am. I took Kiki (my dog) for a walk, showered, got dressed, and grabbed any last minute items I wanted to throw in my bag.

I was originally planning to leave the house at 4:30am, but ended up hanging out with Paul and Kiki for a little while before leaving.

I left at 5am to drive to JFK. There weren’t that many cars on the road at 5am Sunday morning going from New Jersey to Queens. I made good time and arrived at Avistar (where I was leaving my car for the week) without getting lost, got on the shuttle, and was on my way to the airport.

I was checking in at the Jet Blue counter by 6am. I checked my big giant suitcase. I quickly went through security and made my way to the gate. I didn’t see Cathy so stopped in the ladies room (I found Cathy in there).

We boarded the plan around 6:30am. It was smaller than the usual Jet Blue flights I’ve taken and only had 2 seats on each side of the plane. The flight was delayed a few minutes as a mechanic needed to fix the pilots seat. We left shortly after. I think I scared Cathy a bit because I was my usual perky, chipper self even at 6am. She didn’t have her coffee yet, so kept shushing me. I was chatting with everyone around us on the plane. I’m just a happy person.

At one point during the flight the pilot had to go to the bathroom. They block off the front bathroom from the passengers and he came out of the cockpit to go. From our seats we were able to see out the front cockpit window while flying. That was a first.

We landed on time at 9:50am. Once off the plane, we stopped at the ladies room and then went to get our luggage, which was already circling. Cathy laughed at the size of my giant suitcase. We called Happy Limo and they directed us to the pick up area. The driver, Robert, was very friendly. We were chatting the whole way. We stopped at a Winn Dixie near the pier to pick up bottled water, soda, and disposable cameras.

We were dropped off at the pier by 11am. We gave the porters our big suitcases to check. We each had one bag to check and each tipped the porter $5. I guess that’s a decent tip for 1 bag as they were very helpful as I tried to get my little duffle with the soda and water to close. I carried that little duffle on the ship along with my carryon bag.

We went through the pier security quickly and checked in with only one person ahead of us in line. We both did our set sail passes on line so that probably helped speed the process along. We were on the ship after the boarding photo.

Staterooms weren’t available until 1pm so we went to the Windjammer for some lunch. It was a little cumbersome with our carryons, jackets, etc, but we had our first meal on the ship.

We went out to the pool deck. Cathy lounged in the sun and kept an eye on the carryons while I wandered around taking pictures. My friend Kim (the one who talked me into my first cruise) lent me her digital camera as well as her underwater camera.

We were able to go to our staterooms to drop off our carryons at 1pm. The rooms are small, but very efficient. After seeing the size of the rooms, Cathy was glad I suggested we each get our own cabins. We are right next door to each other. The beds are set up as queens in each of our rooms.

Our excursion tickets were waiting in our room for us. The times have changed from what we originally booked. The parasailing is now scheduled for 2:45pm and the sailing regatta is now scheduled for 10:45am.

We spent some time exploring the ship. We went deck by deck exploring. The Royal Promenade had people promoting the various things they offer. Cathy is very interested in the art auction so we spent some time with the guy getting information about it.

Cathy was debating getting the wine package but the smallest one is 5 bottles and I don’t drink wine so she would have to drink it all herself. She decided to just order a bottle at a time at the table.

We saw the dining room and found where our table is. It’s a table for 6 – number 277. We met one of the couples that will be sharing the table with us.

We were back on deck 6 and saw that our luggage had arrived so we spent some time unpacking. We met Philip the cabin steward. We changed into shorts and went up to Sail away. We each had a Miami Vice drink (I think that’s what they were called) – it was a combination of Pina Colada and Strawberry Daiquiri. It was a bit chilly outside now that we were sailing but we stayed out for a while.

At 5:30pm we went to the gaming lessons in the Casino. We sat at the Black Jack table then the Let it Ride table so Cathy could learn the rules. They’ve added a new twist to the Let It Ride game – a 3 card bonus. The bonus is that the 3 cards in your hand are played like regular 3 card poker with it’s own payout schedule.

The casino opened so we each quickly lost $20 in slots.

At 6:45pm we went back to our rooms to shower and change.

We saw the Welcome Aboard show at 7:45pm. It was freezing it the theater. The cruise director is very energetic. His name is James. We saw a balancing act and than a comedian. The comedian was really funny.

8:45pm we went to the dining room. Our tablemates were:
Christine and James – a couple on their honeymoon that live in Florida. This is the couple we met at the table during our earlier wandering around the ship.
Nick and Michelle – friends that are on Spring Break from college and live in North Carolina

Our waiter was Manoj; I can’t remember the assistant waiter’s name but she was very nice.

Cathy ordered a bottle of wine. I ordered a can of sprite for about $1.75.

My dinner choices were as follows:
Appetizer – Vidalia onion tart
Caesar salad
Entrée – Mediterranean Vegetable Quesadilla
Dessert – White chocolate fondue with berries

All the food was very good. The assistant waiter came by at the beginning of the meal with bread/rolls in a basket which we were served from.

We got along very well with our tablemates.

We were finished with dinner around 10:15pm. We walked through the shops on the promenade a little then went back to our rooms to get ready for bed. It was a very long day and we were exhausted.

At 10:45 the parade on the promenade was on. I appreciated my promenade room at this point, as I watched the parade in my PJ’s from my window seat. I got into bed right after and fell asleep. I’m usually a very light sleeper and it takes me a while to fall asleep; but with being up since 3:15am, I was exhausted and fell asleep quickly.

My phone rang at 12:15am. It was Cathy. Our rooms are right above the Wig and Gavel Pub and there is a singer playing and it’s very loud. We can hear every word he’s saying. Cathy already called to complain and was told he performs until 1am every night. Normally we would probably still be out at that time. Cathy is right above it; I’m one room over. It’s noisy in my room but not as bad as it seems to be in hers. Cathy said she’s going to ask about changing rooms in the morning and if they can’t accommodate her, she wants to get off the ship in Puerto Rico. She said she would probably sleep in tomorrow.

Monday 3/6/06
Day at Sea

Since Cathy wanted to sleep in today, I left a note on her door (I brought a sticky pad just for this purpose) telling her where I was going.

At 8:45 I went to get in line for the Ice Show tickets for us. There was a huge line. Ticket distribution started at 9. Once it started, the line moved quickly. I chatted with some of the people on line. One man was telling me that we’re the nuts that are standing here in line for this, but if we came by an hour later, we could just walk right up and get them. I guess I was being paranoid and wanted to make sure. I got us tickets for the Wednesday 7pm show (this was the recommended show for late seating).

I stopped in the Windjammer for some yogurt and granola since I was hungry and didn’t know when Cathy would be up.

I went to the Port and Shopping seminar at 10am in Studio B. The guy on line was correct. The tables handing out the ice show tickets were still there with absolutely no line. So many people bought the VIP shopping book that they were promoting at the seminar. I thought the woman giving the presentation was good. These people sitting behind me didn’t like her and kept complaining she was talking too fast and too much. I thought she gave out a lot of information, but it was basically a commercial to convince you to go to the shops they recommend.

I stopped back at the room to drop off the brochures I collected and saw a note from Cathy that she went to the Windjammer for breakfast. I went up to meet her and we hung out while she ate.

We went to the front desk so Cathy could ask about changing rooms. She explained the situation of how loud her room was and she wouldn’t be able to get any sleep at all. She was put off when the guy helping her said no one else has complained about that room before. The person helping her said he’d have to check as the ship was full. Cathy was very upset and already planning to get off in Puerto Rico. The guy came back a few minutes later with his supervisor and they found a new room for her just down the hall. They said she should call the room steward and they would help her get her stuff moved. We went up to the room and two stewards showed up to help her move. We got everything moved over pretty quickly. Her room is at the end of the promenade instead of in the middle and it’s set up with two twin beds instead of one queen.

I went to the Cruise Critic Meet and Mingle at 1pm. Cathy stayed to unpack, get settled in her new room, and then go to the pool. It was nice that prior to sailing we received an email confirming the time and location of the meet and mingle. We also received invitations in our stateroom. Our roll call board was not very active. There was a decent turn out and I spoke with several of the people there. We all received these lanyard type of things that you can wear around your neck that had a pad and pencil in it. I was surprised to see Christina and James there too. Someone from the cruise director’s staff was there, gave us a little information, and raffled off a few prizes. The prizes were a few pedometers and a Royal Caribbean mouse. It’s very nice that they give out anything as they don’t have to, but on our cruise on the Voyager of the Seas in 2003 the prizes raffled off were a lot nicer (dinner for two in Portofino’s, alcohol drink cards, etc). I’m not complaining just commenting on the lower budget items being used now.

I looked for our pictures in the photo area. I wasn’t thrilled with how the embarkation photos came out. I bought my little Mariner of the Seas photo album from one of the gift shops on board. I wasn’t getting any cell phone service at this point and wasn’t able to call Paul. I looked for Cathy but we kept missing each other. I stopped in the casino for a little while and played on the slot machine – unfortunately, just donating. I even went to the library and found a book that I borrowed.

I met up with Cathy around 4:30 and we headed to the windjammer for a snack. After snacking we went back to the Casino where Cathy found a slot machine she liked so played. We stopped at the Café Promenade and had mini éclairs and Cathy had some coffee.

We went back to our rooms to shower and dress for our first formal night.

We went down to the dining room at 8:30 for dinner. We feel like we’re old friends already with our tablemates. Whoever puts together the seating arrangements did a very good job.

After dinner we stopped back at our rooms to change back into our casual clothes. We received our first towel animal tonight.

We saw the 10:45 Pure Energy show with the Royal Caribbean singers and dancers. It was an OK show.

At 12:15 we saw the late night comedian that was the same guy from last night. He was hysterical. I don’t think we stopped laughing the whole time he was up there.

Tuesday 3/7/06
San Juan 4pm arrival

Cathy and I met to go to breakfast in the Windjammer around 10am. We stopped at the Shore Excursion desk to change the time of our Parasailing excursion. We originally booked 4pm, but it was changed to 3 and we had to meet at 2:45pm. We wanted to make it earlier so we could still have the rest of the day to run around without having to watch the time. We were able to switch to 9am and have to be on the pier at 8;45am.

We went to the casino for a little while and both lost. Cathy wanted to lie by the pool so we made plans to meet up a little later.

I went ice-skating around 12:30. I liked the rental skates they had. There are no laces; just clips like on rollerblades to keep them on. It was fun skating on the ship. The rink isn’t that big, but it was fun and there were about 10 people skating.

I went out to the pool deck to meet Cathy and thought I’d read my book for a little while. It was too hot and sunny (even though it was windy) for me so I went up to Ellingtons and sat on one of the couches with a great panoramic view to read for about 20 minutes.

We docked in Puerto Rico around 3pm which was a little earlier than the scheduled time of 4pm. I called Paul to say hi.

Cathy and I went up to the Windjammer around 4 to have a little snack before heading off the ship and into Puerto Rico.

We got off the ship around 4:30. It’s docked so it’s easy to just walk off without having to tender. We found a taxi van to take us to Old San Juan. It was a mini van and $5 per person. We were sitting with a family from Virginia. When we told them we were from NY/NJ they commented that the traffic must seem like nothing to us. There wasn’t any traffic to speak of. We were moving along smoothly so it was a strange comment from them. This comment was made while we were driving along the highway at maybe 40 miles an hour (not in the center of Old San Juan where there was more traffic and congestion). The only place where the traffic was bad was the area they were loading cabs right outside the ship and later in Old San Juan.

Unfortunately, it was raining out so we were getting wet. Neither of us brought an umbrella on the trip. It soon tapered to a drizzle so we started walking.

We stopped in a store selling linen like cotton clothes. The items were all very pretty, but I’m too messy to wear off-white.

Next we stopped in a linen store (linens like tablecloths as opposed to the clothes shop we stopped in where the clothes looked like linen). Cathy bought some hand towels and a unique and pretty little pocketbook.

I asked for directions to the Hard Rock Café which was our next stop. My friend Paula mentioned a shirt she saw in the Hard Rock when she was in Puerto Rico last year that she regrets not buying. I was hoping to find it for her. I didn’t see any shirts I could picture her wearing so I called her to ask her what the shirt looked like. They didn’t have anything she wanted but she was pleasantly surprised to hear from me. I bought a hat for Paul, one for our friend Peter, and a guitar pin.

We did some more wandering around and I bought a magnet. We weren’t very impressed with what we saw of San Juan. The stores were starting to close. Having the ship arrive so late in the afternoon didn’t give us an opportunity to really see San Juan.

We took a mini van taxi back to the pier for $5 per person.

We hung out by the Café Promenade for a little while. Cathy wanted to take a nap before dinner so we agreed to meet around 8:30. I wandered around the ship. Since we were still in port, the stores and casino were closed.

We met at 8:30 for dinner. We ended up being the only ones at our table tonight. I had the following:
Appetizer – crab cake (one of the few non vegetarian items I’ll still attempt to eat even though I don’t eat chicken, meat or fish anymore)
Caesar Salad
Entrée – Risotto primavera
Dessert – Baked Alaska

I called Paul before the show.

We saw the show at 10:45pm which was an Australian singer/performer. It started out a little slow but got much better.

We were scheduled to leave at 11pm, but at 11:45 we were still docked. We went up to Deck 11 for the Sail away Party. We left Puerto Rico a little after midnight.

Wednesday 30/8/06
St. Thomas

We are scheduled for 9am Parasailing so need to be on the dock at 8:45am. Cathy ordered room service for breakfast. I didn’t put my tag out so ran up to the Windjammer quickly to get some yogurt, fruit, and granola for breakfast.

We headed out to the pier for our Parasailing excursion at 8:45 like we were told to. We waited for a while since two people were missing. Finally they told us to go to the end of the pier around the ships which is where the Parasailing boats go out from. When we got there one boat was about to leave with the people scheduled for the 10am Parasailing excursion. I’m not sure how they got ahead of us since we were the 9am excursion. They had room for a few more people so these other people that were complaining about having another excursion scheduled at noon went. We waited since they told us another boat would be by in 10 minutes. It was us and this nice couple from Pennsylvania (Annie & Bill).

Our boat showed up and the four of us get in. Due to the lack of wind, we each had to fly single. As we were driving (not sure if that’s the correct term for a boat) a call came on the radio that the other boat stalled, dropped two people in the water, and we had to pick them up.

We were already in our harnesses so got to Parasail before them. You sit on the back of the boat in your harness and you are just lifted right up. At first it was fun. Once I was up for a while I didn’t like it. I was hanging on so tightly and just kept imagining falling. When I wasn’t stressing about the rope breaking and plummeting to the water, the views were beautiful and it was very peaceful. I was very happy to be reeled back in. You land right back on the boat very smoothly.

We were back at the dock by 11:45am and went back on the ship to shower before heading out to shop. We grabbed a quick lunch in the Windjammer then took a cab to Downtown St. Thomas. Cathy wanted to buy a gold necklace. We went in tons of stores looking. At Diamonds International she found one that she really liked with a matching bracelet. She bargained them down to $2,000 but wanted to think about it a little more. We went to other stores comparison shopping, but none of them compared to the one she saw in Diamonds International. We bought a few other souvenirs along the way.

We went back to Diamonds International just as they were getting ready to close. There were matching earrings that we didn’t see before either. Cathy bought the whole set – necklace, bracelet, and earrings for $2,200. The stores were all closing so we jumped in a cab back to the ship.

We didn’t have time to take the Tram to the lookout.

4:30 We were back at the ship and went to the Windjammer for an afternoon snack of Nachos. We hung out for a while at the Windjammer.

We wanted to shower again before dinner so each went to our rooms to get ready.

6:45 We met to go to the 7pm Ice Under the Big Top show. It was very good. Some of the skaters fell a few times.

7:45 I went to the Crown and Anchor party in the Lotus Lounge. Cathy went to the Casino. I tried a rum punch (it was one of the drinks the waiter was passing out). Captain Johnny is very funny. There was a couple on board with 123 Royal Caribbean cruises. They talked about Freedom of the Seas (then Liberty, then the 3rd unnamed Freedom class ship). They also mentioned the Genesis class. The Captain answered questions that people asked.

8:35 I found Cathy in the Casino and we went to dinner. Our tablemates were all at dinner tonight.
I had the following:
Appetizer – Fruit Salad (mango, papaya, pineapple) and ½ spring roll
Caesar Salad
Entrée – Bami Goreng – a noodle dish
Dessert – Crème Brulee

10:30 We went to the Love and Marriage show. It was very funny. The show ended almost at midnight. We went back to the Casino for a little while. Cathy wanted to, but was afraid, to play blackjack so stuck to the slot machines.

1am We went up to our cabins to go to sleep. I received a RCCL tote bag as a Crown and Anchor gift.

Thursday 3/9/06
St Maarten

9:30 We met to have breakfast in the Windjammer. After breakfast we went back to our cabins to grab our stuff, then headed out to the pier to meet our sailing excursion.

Cathy was chosen as the captain for our team. We were racing on the Stars & Stripes yacht. We were all assigned duties. Cathy and I were both backstay grinders. The excursion was a lot of fun but more work than we expected. One guy who was the Main grinder got sick. We did not get soaking wet, just some spray. We raced against two other yachts – True North and True North IV. We came in 2nd place which was great since we had less people on our team than the other two yachts.

After the race, we were dropped at their gift shop. I bought the picture for $30.

We decided to wander the shops since we were already downtown. The downtown shopping area was very cute. After browsing through some shops, we stopped for lunch at Oualichi - a place on the beach and recommended by the cruise guide. We each had pizza. We thought they were personal size, but when they came out they were huge. I had the vegetarian one, and Cathy had the 3 cheese. We ran into Rick (one of our dinner tablemates) while eating so he helped eat some of the pizza.

We found the Belgian Chocolate Shop and bought some truffles there. We bought some other souvenirs. Cathy was debating over a Furla bag but decided against it since she really wanted black and they didn’t have the style she wanted in black.

We stopped at the Guavaberry Emporium. I bought a bottle for Kim and one for me. Cathy and I each had a Guavaberry Colada. They were very good.

After a little more wandering, we took the water taxi back to the ship around 5pm. All Aboard is at 5:30.

Cathy wanted to take a nap. I tried calling Paul but didn’t get reception on my phone. I wandered around the ship a bit but everything is closed since we’re still in port.

I went back to my cabin to shower and change.

7pm We went to the show which was a Beatles Tribute Band.

Cathy had some portraits done. Then we went to the casino and lost some money.

8:30 We went to dinner – everyone was there except for Michelle who was sick. I had the following:
Appetizer –fresh mozzarella and tomato
Mixed green salad
Entrée – I tried the vegetarian chili but it was too spicy so they brought me pasta with marinara sauce instead
Dessert – Tiramisu

10:30 We saw the Quest. This was hysterical
11:15 Win a Cruise Bingo. Unfortunately, we didn’t win – we didn’t even come close

Friday 3/10/06
Day At Sea

9am Cathy and I met for breakfast at the Windjammer.

After breakfast Cathy went to lie out by the pool. I went shopping for some souvenirs.

I went to the gym to work out. There was an issue with the locker key – no one knew where they were or how to get them to work. Finally this got straightened out. I went on the Elliptical Machine. The ship is rocking a lot today so it was difficult to do the machine while swaying.

I went out by the pool next. The water was flying out of the pool. It was like a wave pool. They ended up having to drain the pool. It was also very windy so I didn’t stay long.

I went in the Jacuzzi in the spa. It was very nice and pretty empty. I was having fun since the rocking was tossing me around even in the Jacuzzi.

I returned my library book.

1:30 I met Cathy at the art auction. She bought a few items.

2:45 We went to the Windjammer for some lunch. Next we went to the casino and lost a little more money.

5pm I went up to the Sports Deck to Rollerblade but it was closed for the day. Cathy went to sit out in the sun and read. I wandered around the ship some more.

7pm I went back to the cabin to shower and get ready for dinner It’s formal night. I was ready early so watched people on the promenade out the window.

8:30 We went down to dinner. Everyone was there. We took a few table pictures and exchanged addresses. Unfortunately, I forgot exactly what we had for dinner tonight. Everyone else at the table had Lobster (except me). I probably ordered the vegetarian entrée.

10:45 We saw the show – it was OK

11:30 We went to the dining room for picture taking of the gala buffet

12:15 We were allowed in. We just wanted a few chocolate covered strawberries. They were a hot item and everyone was grabbing them. We sat to eat our strawberries.

We made another detour though the casino then went to our rooms.

Saturday 3/11/06
Day at Sea

9:15 We met for breakfast and went to the dining room for the first time. It took a while. I had granola with fruit and yogurt. I thought it would be different from the Windjammer but it wasn’t.

After breakfast Cathy went to lie in the sun. I went rollerblading, and then walked around the track a few times.

11:30 I went to the Screening Room and saw the movie In Her Shoes. It was very cute and 2 hours long

1:30 I met Cathy at the Art Auction

2:45 We went up to Johnny Rockets for lunch but it was really crowded so we went to the Windjammer instead for a late lunch.

Cathy went back out in the sun

3:30 I went to the final Bingo. I didn’t win anything

I started pulling out my suitcases for packing.

5:45 There was a parade on the Promenade which I watched out the window. I did most of the packing.

7pm We saw the Farewell Show. It was very well done. The cruise director spoke, the Captain came out on a scooter. We saw highlights from the cruise in review video. There was a balancing act and a comedian.

Cathy and I went to the Casino. Cathy finally won a little. She started with $10 and cashed out $75 in the slot machine she liked.

8;30 We went for our final dinner in the dining room and gave out our tip envelopes. I had the following:
Appetizer – chips with spinach dip
Caesar salad
Entrée – Vegetarian dish – this was horrible and in curry sauce (I don’t like curry) so ended up with pasta in marinara sauce instead again
Dessert – banana parfait

They need more vegetarian options

10:30 We watched the Karoke Idol finals

Midnight – I finished packing and put my bags out

Sunday 3/12/06
Debarkation and Going Home

7:45 We met for breakfast and went to the Windjammer. Our color was called at 8am while we were eating. Once finished we headed off. It didn’t take very long. Maybe ½ hour. We were off the ship by 8:45.

I called Happy Limo to let them know we were off, but got their answering machine which made me a bit nervous. I left Cathy with the luggage and walked over to where I saw people with signs. I saw a guy from Happy Limo with a sign with my name on it (that was a big relief). His name was Gary and he said “You girls are going in style”. We were in a huge white stretch Lincoln Navigator. It had 2 TV’s in it. We watched part of Madagascar on the ride back.

9:45 We were at the airport. My big suitcase still weighed less than Jet Blue’s limit of 70 pounds (not by much though). We asked about getting on an earlier flight since our scheduled one isn’t’ until 1:30. We went standby for 11:40am. Luckily we got on.

2:30 We were back at JFK and got our luggage. Cathy took a cab and I called the Avistar shuttle. I ended up waiting about 25 minutes. Once I arrived at Avistar people were yelling that they were there for over an hour and where is their car. One of the shuttles backed into a Mercedes. In the midst of all this commotion I saw my car come right out. I asked one of the guys to help lift my luggage into my car. I paid, got directions, and was on my way by about 3:15.

There was a lot of traffic and I didn’t get home until after 5pm to a husband and a dog who were both very happy to see me. I missed them too.

This was a great trip. The Mariner of the Seas is a beautiful ship. I was very impressed with how they were able to move Cathy when she was so upset with her first room due to the noise. It was weird being on a cruise without Paul and having times without cell phone service where I wasn’t able to get in touch with him. I enjoyed having my own cabin. My only complaint would be that there weren’t enough vegetarian options available. At dinner in the dining room, there was one choice and often it contained curry or was spicy (I don’t like curry or spicy foods). Although the alternative of pasta with marinara sauce is always available that’s pretty boring. A suggestion I would make is to have some sort of pasta dish like Mushroom Ravioli, Stuffed Shells, Gnocchi; some type of pasta other than plain pasta with marinara sauce. I also found a lack of vegetarian choices when we would stop at the Windjammer for lunch/a snack. They had burgers and hot dogs, but there were not any veggie burgers (only at Johnny Rockets I was told). Although I packed a lot, I wore just about everything I brought (except for 2 shirts). I’m looking forward to taking another cruise.

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