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Jennifer

Age: 27

Occupation:Banker

Number of Cruises: First Cruise

Cruise Line: Royal Caribbean

Ship: Mariner of the Seas

Sailing Date: June 11th, 2006

Itinerary: Western Caribbean

Well after months of planning and reading a bunch of Cruise Reviews, the time had arrived for me and my husband to board our very 1st cruise ship ever. Being that it was our 1st time it was definitely a learning experience and hopefully this review could help future "new" cruisers as well. We did book through Royal Caribbean so they made all the plane reservations. They flew us w/ Northwest and and we didn't have a very good experience going to or coming home with them. Only benefit was that if Northwest was delayed there were other fellow cruisers w/ you and they would most likely hold the ship until you arrive. If time does allow, we would book our own air next time for the day before the ship leaves and maybe even save a little cost wise too. Once we arrived at Port Canaveral we had to wait in line at customs and then a long line to check in and get our sea pass cards. That very 1st day is a long one so be ready to go to bed early so you get all rested up for the week. One piece of advice I will give is carry your camera w/ you as often as possible because there is always a photo-op somewhere. I got some awesome photos just because I had my camera at the right place at the right time. Also don't feel bad about sleeping - remember you are on vacation.

Coco Cay was our 1st port of call. Water was pretty but it is very rocky there especially at the bottom of the ocean so be careful not to cut your feet like I did. We did the jet ski excursion there and it was fun. Water was very choppy so I wouldn't go as fast as my husband did, plus you will get saltwater in your eyes so wear some sunglasses or goggles. There are other parts of the beach though if you want to just float, which was relaxing, or if you want to snorkel.

Next port of Call was St. Thomas. We opted to go to St. John because that came highly recommended by other cruise reviewers and also the RCCL staff. We went to Trunk Bay and it was amazing. Trunk Bay was actually voted one of the most beautiful beaches in the world and I believe it. The water temperature was great, crystal clear, and it was not overly crowded either which was nice. I think a lot of other cruisers stayed on St. Thomas and went to to the beaches there but nothing can compare to St. John. Only thing I will warn you is to get to St. John it was a little pricey. You had to take a cab to the ferry $6 per person each way, then the ferry $10 per person each way, then another cab to the beach $6 per person each way so all in all about $40 per person but it was well worth it. Almost the cost of an excursion anyway, and they only except cash so have that handy when you go. You can get some amazing photos there - don't forget your camera that day. We also rented some snorkel equipment there and had fun seeing all the colorful fish.

St. Maarten was our next port of call. We thought St. Maarten was even more beautiful than St. Thomas. We didn't do the beach that day - we opted for shopping which was a good call. Lots of shops, don't forget your guava berry rum to take home w/ you....mmmmmmmm. I will say though people told us shopping was great, "you get so many deals", honestly the prices on things we looked at were pretty much the same as the states they just don't charge tax. There is a great shop called Del Sol. Everything in there changes color in the sun (t-shirts, hats, keychains...ect) ...very fun souvenirs.

We got an inside cabin due to cost reasons. Even though you are not in your room very often it was very small when you are and we will definitely get a balcony next time just because of the size difference. There is a nice vanity area you to get ready, and there is a closet large enough to hang several items. Do bring an alarm clock, we assumed there would be one but there wasn't. You can however, get a wake up call for anytime if needed. In the shower, it was small, but there is a clothes line to hang your swimsuits up to dry and that worked well. Also if people say you won't feel the boat rock they are wrong! We felt it everyday, some days worse than others and worse in different areas of the ship. You can get sea sick pills in the general store or get the patch from your DR. before you leave.

Our stateroom attendant was great. She was always right there when we needed towels or dry cleaning and she deserved every tip she got. We would also get a towel animal every night with our turndown service. It was fun to guess what she made you each night.

The dining room food got better as the week went on. The dining room staff were very courteous and had good memories too. Don't be afraid to ask for more than one appetizer or entree. You paid for it so eat as much as you want!!! Our table all loved shrimp cocktail and we all got it every night even if it wasn't on the menu for that night. We had late seating which was nice. We never had to rush our days to get back, shower and get ready for dinner. If you have kids early dinner may be better but you can decide when you make your reservation. We also chose to do group seating so we could meet other people. We had a blast with the 2 other couples that sat w/ us. One couple was from a different country so that was neat to hear about their country and the other couple was around our age and we made great friends w/ them and hung out all through the week and plan to keep in touch. The Windjammer Cafe is a buffet style, food was ok nothing to rave about but it was great if you wanted something quick.

Didn't eat at Chops or Portofino's so I can't comment there but everyone says they are good. We also always had great service at Johnny Rockets. The alcoholic drinks are made strong so be prepared when you order that pina colada when lying out at the pool.

Now the entertainment on the boat was great... there was so much to do. You will get a list of activities the night before, but you won't be able to get to every single thing. Pick some things that interest you and enjoy yourself. They do have something for everyone. Whether you like bingo, art auctions, shopping and so much more. Whatever you do, don't miss The Quest (it's an adult scavenger hunt...its hysterical!!!), The Love & Marriage Game, Mr. Sexy Legs, Karaoke Idol, Battle of the Sexes, or the Ice Show. The variety shows are very good too. Becky our cruise director was a riot! She is great at what she does and has so much energy. She is very funny so if you are traveling on the Mariner you will love her.

The only complaint we would have is that it was very hard to ever find seats at any of the pools. The solarium was great because part of it was shaded and the chairs in there were more comfortable, but again you could enjoy it if you could ever find a seat.

Overall we enjoyed our cruise and plan to cruise again in the future maybe with a larger group. I hope this helps some of you out there getting ready for your own cruise vacation. I know I had a blast reading other reviews before our vacation. Have fun, and Bon Voyage !!!!!

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