Find a Cruise

S. Shideler

Age: 51

Occupation:Manager

Number of Cruises: 2

Cruise Line: Royal Caribbean

Ship: Mariner of the Seas

Sailing Date: July 16th, 2006

Itinerary: Western Caribbean

This was my wife’s and my 2nd cruise and our first with our two sons ages 13 and 15.

Embarkation:

We stayed at the Radisson at the Port before leaving. Even without the Cruise & Park Package we were offered the free parking and shuttle to the Port. This worked out very well and saved some $$$ in parking at the port. This resort was nice and a great way to relax before leaving on the cruise. We got a whirlpool suite which was exceptional. At the hotel’s recommendation we took one of the later shuttles and this seemed to work out fine. The time from when we boarded the shuttle to when we were checking out our cabin was probably not much more than an hour. Our luggage arrived at the room in several deliveries over a period of time but all of it was there in time to dress for our 8:30 dinner. The port staff that we encountered were all pleasant and competent. You will get hit up for a tip from the porters but it wasn’t in any way harassing. Our first meal at sea was great and met what would turn out to be two exceptional waiters Henry and Luis.

The First Day at Sea:

We all had fun exploring the ship on the first day. Spent some time in the sun and got used to our new environs. The boys checked out the arcade and the kids clubs. Some of the things that I had been told to bring along were a power strip which proved useful due to the limited wall outlets also brought along a clock radio, and extra hangers. I had also thrown in my Magellan GPS which turned out to be a lot of fun following our course, seeing our speed etc. The ship’s TV has similar data on one of its channels too.

Labadee:

What a beautiful place. My youngest son went to the water park ($15/hour we signed up at the park). He had a good time. The day went quickly. The lunch was fine and we sampled a Labadoozie (medication for your vacation). Later we did some snorkeling and just walking around this very pretty peninsula. You can get some great pictures of the ship especially from on top of the hill behind the beaches if you don’t mind a little bushwhacking.

Jamaica:

In the morning we checked out the market and Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritavillle near the dock. Yes I’m a parrot head. Be careful when you exit the ship, we were misdirected by locals regarding the shopping area that is recommended but quickly realized that something wasn’t right when we started seeing the razor wire protecting the waking path. A friendly guard along the way got us pointed in the right direction. After shopping we boarded the bus for the horseback ride that we booked through RCI. There were all levels of experience in our group of about 20. All in our family had ridden before but we are far from experienced riders. The horses were gentle and I didn’t see anyone have trouble. They seemed to a good job of matching horse to rider and take extra time to keep families together for the ride. We had a nice day here. I liked seeing the sights on the bus ride to the ranch. They do some narration on the way. I did not bring enough money with us as I wanted to tip the bus staff and the trail guides. Also the pictures they take might be worth buying. We wore long pants over our swimsuits but if I were to do this again I would have worn shorts which most others did. They just laid their towels over the saddles to prevent pinches and rubs. There are nice restrooms and a place to change prior to the ocean ride. The run through the ocean was great fun. All in all it was interesting and fun.

Grand Cayman:

We chose to take the RCI booked bike ride here. We had a fairly short but exciting bus ride to a resort to meet our guides and get our bikes. Our bus driver was a bit aggressive to say the least but all seemed to enjoy the “brisk” trip to the resort. The two tour guides were interesting, fun, and willing to share things that interest me like what life is like on a small island. They had a support vehicle with water follow us on the 8-9 mile ride. We stopped at the Turtle Farm which we all enjoyed and got to hold some of the smaller Sea Turtles. This stop’s cost was included with our tour which was an unexpected bonus. Then a stop at the Tortuga Rum Shop, with free tasting for the adults. We bought a 3 bottle sampler of flavored rum which is delicious. Purportedly there is a one liter per adult limit for tax free import but we had no issues with the three liters we brought back. This was delivered to our room the last night on the ship. Our last stop was the town of Hell. Everyone got a big kick out of the multitude of puns related to this town’s name. It also turned out the owner’s wife is a West Virginian which got us a free post card from Ivan the devil. The bikes themselves were serviceable but not in the best shape but we all enjoyed this and would do it again. If you are looking for a way to see a bit of the island and get a little exercise I would recommend this. If you are a serious cyclist that wants a good workout this is not the best pick and likewise if you are not at least in average physical condition I would not suggest this.

Cozumel:

My youngest son and I booked the dolphin swim and my wife and older son wanted to do the Atlantis submarine. Each of us had a great outing despite this being the only rainy day on our whole cruise. The only negative for our dolphin swim was that they could not take the professional pictures and video but I had brought along a waterproof camera which they let us use. The time with the dolphins was too brief (about 30 mins.) but my son and I probably never could have gotten enough time with these incredible animals. What a treat to get to spend some time interacting with them. Riding on their bellies across the lagoon and holding them in our arms was wonderful. A nice lunch was included in this as well as free lockers. We also booked this through RCI. I understand it is cheaper if you book it independently and you get more time with the dolphins but this is a pretty tight schedule day and you have to take both a ferry to the mainland and a bus or taxi to the resort. For the peace of mind I preferred the RCI booking. My wife and other son said the sub was fun and interesting and they got some cool pictures.

Last day at sea:

Our last day at sea was spent playing some miniature golf, trying Johnny Rockets which was fun but not great, visiting the casino, and taking in some shows. The only negative for us was knowing that this was our last day on this great ship and saying good byes to our new friends Henry and Luis. Like another reviewer on here, Flash Gordon seemed to be everywhere but we had fun with his antics. All the shows we saw were fun and entertaining. What a beautiful ship and great crew.

Lastly, prior to our cruise I had read a lot of these reviews. Some of the things that concerned me never did materialize. You can feel the ship move but none of us ever felt sea sick. We brought along the usual remedies but never used them. None of us suffered any type of illness nor did we hear of any problems in that regard. We never did run into any significant harassment by merchants at the ports but in fairness we did very little shopping. Some were bothered by the musicians on Labadee but a few no thank you (s) were all it took. The Windjammer buffet food was good we ended up eating most breakfasts and lunches there due to schedule. The Promenade Café always provided a place to get a light snack or piece of pizza. We all bought the soft drink sticker. I am not sure if this is a money saver but it is a time saver for sure. The dinners were in my evaluation excellent. There was a wide selection and everything I had was great. Again, our waiters were excellent and made each day’s end a pleasure. Yes we would all do this again. PS the casino bar has the best margaritas tell Sheldon that I sent you! I hope this info helps.




Was this review helpful?

Yes No Email this review to a friend
 

Ask questions and get advice from other cruisers on our popular discussion board,