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Jim Tonda

Age: 68


Number of Cruises: 2

Cruise Line: Royal Caribbean

Ship: Mariner of the Seas

Sailing Date: January 28th, 2007

Itinerary: Western Caribbean

Driving to the terminal: We decided leave Tallahassee and drive to the terminal the on morning of the cruise. Helpful Hint, arrive the day before, stay in one of the local hotels that offer parking and a shuttle to and from the ship. The cost of parking at the terminal is about the same as staying at the hotel. Best of all a lot of stress about having car trouble on the way down is removed and it is a lot easier to process your luggage in the shuttle area. I would also recommend using Interstate 95 if you are coming in from the north. It will save you about $10.00 in turnpike fees and the travel distance and time are about the same.

Checking in: This turned out to be a nightmare. Somehow all the sea passes were accidentally thrown away. We had to wait in line for over three hours. People that had to use the restroom facilities lost their place in line and had to start over again. I can understand that there was an unexpected problem but nobody tried to explain why there was a delay and after we were on board there was never an apology for the inconvenience or recognition that it even took place.

Stateroom: we did not plan to leave the ship very often and found that having a balcony added greatly to our relaxation and enjoyment. We were able to use it for starting the day with room service coffee, comfortably stay out of each other’s way while we were getting dressed. It was also a nice quiet place to sit read a book and enjoy a glass of wine when we wanted to be away from people for a while. Our room attendant was excellent. He took care of any special requests and always had our room clean and fresh while we were away. He quickly learned our names and always had a friendly greeting when he saw us in the hallway.

Ship entertainment: The parades, ice show, production shows and daily entertainment specials are more than enough to occupy all your free time while on the ship. We especially enjoyed the show by the Nelsons. The Royal Caribbean singers and dancers extended a lot of energy but some of the vocal arrangements left a lot to be desired. Helpful Hint: The movie theatre is very small and hard to find. It is located on deck three under the Lotus Theatre. We noticed that there were many good movies during the cruise. The library is often overlooked. It has mini newspaper reports form all over the world, a daily trivia sheet and many good novels to read if you are looking to relax during the day instead of fighting the mobs in the curio shops. HELPFUL HINT: The Cruise Compass is very informative and a great tool in planning your day.

DINING: Each area that we used had special features. Portofino’s had to be one of the finest meals we enjoyed on the cruise. The service, presentation and quality of the food were well worth the extra $20.00. I promise you it will be one of your better memories of the cruise. The main dining room had good food, good service and a large enough selection to appeal to everyone at our table. The best part of the meal was getting to know our fellow travelers and share our time with them. We did not use the dining room for breakfast but found that the lunch selection was much better than the windjammer as far as quality of the food. We found that the windjammer worked out best for our breakfast meal. They always had a good variety of fruits and just about anything else you might want for your morning meal. HELPFUL HINT: the egg station in the rear of the Windjammer will cook your eggs to order. They make a great western omelet. I found that if I walked back to the station first I could order my omelet, pick up a dish instead of using a tray and then go back to the line to gather up my fruit, bacon and extras. By the time I got back to the station my eggs were ready and I was good to go. As good as the breakfast food was the afternoon meals in the Windjammer seemed to get progressively worse as the week went on. By Friday, it was better to either go to or order something to take out from the dining room. In our opinion, the best deserts had to come from the coffee shop on the promenade. Maybe it was just the casualness of the shop but it was very enjoyable to sit there sharing opinions and having a piece of double chocolate fudge cake and a cup of coffee.
I didn’t appreciate that we had to pay for ice cream. I find it hard to believe that it would incur that much of an additional cost. Especially since everyone was paying such exorbitant prices for water and soda. HELPFUL HINT: although it is not publicized very much, the soft ice cream machine is located outside the right entrance to the pool area on the Windjammer side of the ship.

EXCURSIONS: We did not intend to do much touring due the fact that I had just undergone a hip replacement in October. Labadee seemed to be a very nice island to enjoy water sports. We took the tender over to the island and enjoyed the beach facilities. The flea market was a little hectic and the sales people were very aggressive. I didn’t find that very pleasurable so I let my wife enjoy her shopping and I tried to enjoy the beauty of the Island.
In Georgetown we took the submarine tour and a trip to the butterfly farm. The underwater trip was very enjoyable. The trip to the butterfly farm left a little to be desired. The shops in Georgetown were nice and the people were very friendly. HELPFUL HINT: Pay attention to the Cruise Compass. When it says bring small bills to avoid any change problems they know what they are talking about. I now have a Cayman $10.00 bill that I have no idea what I am going to use it for. If you are going to be walking very much remember that the traffic flows opposite of what it is in the States. I went to cross a divided road, looked very carefully for oncoming traffic and started on my way. The screech I heard behind me gave me goose bumps. I had stepped right in front of a car coming from the opposite direction.

CONCLUSION: Aside from the first day, our cruise was everything we were trying to accomplish. We have not traveled on any cruise lines except Royal Caribbean so we really don’t know what to compare it to. We were well taken care of and look forward to our next adventure.

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