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Patti McBee

Age: 50

Occupation:Retail Manager

Number of Cruises: 6

Cruise Line: Royal Caribbean

Ship: Mariner of the Seas

Sailing Date: September 17th, 2006

Itinerary: Eastern Caribbean

Just returned home from cruising on the Mariner of the Seas yesterday. I (50) sailed with my husband(52) and our best friends (both 48). We flew from LAX to Orlando on a Red Eye and arrived at Port Canaveral around 10:00 in the morning. My husband and I had sailed on the Explorer of the Seas a couple of years back so we expected the awesome sight when pulling into Port, however, our friends had not cruised since their honeymoon 25 years previous on the Love Boat). The Mariner was docked next to the Disney Wonder and Carnival's Sensation. Even though the Wonder is a beauty, the Mariner stood tall and regal next to both ships. Since we arrived early, the previous passengers were still getting off the ship so we had to wait about an hour to board. In the meantime, guests for two weddings taking place before we sailed off were boarding (most were there just for the wedding and leaving the ship by 4 pm.)

Once we received our stateroom key, we again waited to board the gangway about 20 minutes. The organization was not up to par that day and we were directed back and forth to different locations/lines before the crew got it together. We boarded about 11:30 and since our staterooms were not ready until 1 pm, we headed to the Windjammer to take in the views and of course, the first of many meals. The food in the Windjammer was okay to good in quality and very good in variety. The service was excellent...better than the other three RCCL(Explorer, Enchantment, Rhapsody) we had sailed previously. The excellent service would continue all week on all levels. I was glad to see that all passengers were required to use sanitizer before entering thru restaurants.

The ship is a beauty. The crew was extremely friendly and almost every crew member that passed us greeted us all week even the last morning believe it or not). Each public room was decorated so beautiful and each had a flavor of its own. The Royal Promenade was incredible and each shop/bar/cafe had exceptional service. I enjoyed Vintages, a wine bar, and chose one of the wine samplers how Merlot can you go) and received four different wines to sample. Excellent.

We were on deck eight, aft starboard balcony rooms #8650 and #8652. Our room steward, Allister, was friendly and attentive and always called us by name. We never had to ask for anything the whole week, it just happened. Loved the towel animals as always and being Crown and Anchor members, enjoyed the little extras throughout the week. The balcony, although small, is always a bonus. Time spent there is always peaceful and relaxing.

Most of the reviews I had read before we sailed had me a little worried about the dining room food. I have to say we were pleased every night. There were many different choices and they were good to excellent. My favorites included the onion tart, cod, shrimp. pork chop, sea bass and of course, the lobster. The desserts were really good, but not fantastic. Our waiter, Dorin, was from Romania and we just really enjoyed him. We sat with a family with two young children and he was great with these kids. The head waiter, Elana, was by our side every night...very unexpected for a head waiter...she was great. Now just in case you are wondering how two middle aged couples were seated with a couple with two small children let me be short and sweet about this. I asked to have our table changed so we can sit by the did they. The first night we were shocked when we walked up to our table and saw...KIDS. We took a deep breathe and decided to give it a go. The kids were 7 and 4(Sydney(g) and Carter)). To make a long story short....I fell in love with little Carter and if I could have taken him home, I would have. He even named a stuffed animal he bought at the Zoo in St. Thomas after me. When he told me the last night he was going to miss me, I couldn't help but cry...I'm crying now. What a beautiful family...We were blessed to have met them. The bottom line here is....You never know when love and friendship will come your way, keep your options open. Had either of us moved looked what we would have missed. (I miss you Carter.)

We tried one of the alternative dining options- PORTIFINOS- Oh my....this was fantastic, worth the extra $20 and service was incredible- don't think, just go. I chose to go on Wednesday as I had previously checked out the menus on line and this night looked like the night to skip the dining room. I made these reservations in person within 30 minutes of boarding and they were filling up fast- don't wait.

COCO CAY- RCCL has done a nice job fixing up this island since last time we were here. It was spotless, had nice facilities and the beach BBQ WAS YUMMY. Because of the tropical storms miles away we were lucky- great weather all week) there were hundreds of jelly fish in the Bay which put a damper on wading in the water. After all, the ocean is there home and they were there first, so most passengers were on the ship by early afternoon.

ST THOMAS- I love St Thomas. The shopping is just great. After a couple of years of wanting a piece of ammolite, my husband purchased a beautiful pendant for me at "Ammolite by the Sea." Ask for Harvey. This jewelry is very rare and an investment. It's not a bargain, but it is special. Use the guide the ship offers you for shops that are guaranteed. This way you know the shop is quality. The men went on a Scuba tour and thought it was pretty good.

ST MARTEEN- We had booked the America's Cup Sailing Regatta and knew it would be the highlight of our cruise. Well sad to say, it was cancelled due to lack of wind that day. (Bummer)...We rented a jeep instead to cruise the island. Trust me...there is no cruising here...the natives are maniacs on the road...most of the intersections do not have signals and it takes more energy than it is worth. There is no parking to be found...better off hiring a taxi.The Eastern cruise has three days at love . love.

The ships has many activities...partake or not. DO NOT MISS THE ADULT GAME SHOW "QUEST'...What a riot...very funny. The shows were good, but not great. I have enjoyed better in the past. The cruise director, Kirk, was good but not great...a little snooty.

The Captain, Johnny, was by far the best personality aboard any ship...anywhere...anytime. His daily greeting always started with "Good morning, Good morning, Good morning." He could make every day bright. Not only that but his crew could dock this 138,000 tons masterpiece on a dime. Docking of this ship in the ports is not to be missed. Obviously, I could ramble on and on about this ship, but I better conclude before I lose everyone. So here are the hits and misses about out cruise.

Hits- service, dining, Portifinos, Johnny Rockets, cleanliness, ports of call, shopping, activities.
Misses- Terminal organization, solarium pool did not have retractable roof like the Explorer), Main pool-did not like the decor- too retro for me.

Bottom line- Great cruise....already booking to take sons in March for their Spring Break. Vacations are what you make of them. I personally have never had a bad vacation...We make the best out of our time together and don't sweat the small stuff.

However, I miss my little Carter and hope to visit him someday before his 4 year old brain forgets about could he...he has a stuffed monkey named "Patti" and I bought him a towel monkey gift shop sells all the towels animals they put on your bed every night) named "Carter" so we will always be together....

Go on the Mariner...You will have a great vacation........

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