First time cruise - think twice
I went on the Mexican Riviera Cruse (Mariner of the Sea) with my family of 5
(3 boys and two adults) and was hoping for a fun family vacation. An opportunity for us to all be together but have time to do our own thing too. A couple of observations I came away with:
1) Cruising is way more expensive than you think. Not only do you pay for all the up front charges but you aren't even on the ship for the days you are in port. This means you need to not only pay for excursions but also for food while in port.
2) The tipping situation is completely out of control. The expectation is that you will tip your head waiter, waiter, asst waiter, room attendant, asst room attendant and anyone that helps you with your luggage. IN addition, you tip your excursion guides and anyone you purchase any drinks or food from on the ship. Our room attendat stopped by our room 4 times on the last day looking for my husband so she could thank him???? I think she was wanting to ensure she got a tip. We generously tip her along with the asst room attendant and the waiter and asst waiter but never even saw the head waiter.
3) Food on the ship is marginal - really marginal. Everything is just a bit off. I've heard 15 years ago it was much better. I could not even walk in the Windjammer Cafe without my stomach churning.
4) Free coffee in the Promenade Cafe smelled very strange. I think it is made with salt water converted to fresh water and that process makes the coffee smell like cigarette smoke. Very weird but I was clearly not the only one to notice.
5) Hot tubs - forget getting space in one because the same people sit in them all day. Unless you want to be in a very small hot tub with 25 people.
6) The teen/kid activities were not inviting to any of my kids. They tried but really no one went.
7) The workout facility was mobbed the first day but after that everyone was either hung over or doing something else. The spa services were pushed really hard.
8) Internet service is really tough to get and the cost to use the RCL internet connection is outrageous. It was a per minute charge but it would take 7 min to connect to gmail. This put them in the dark ages.
8) Best part of the entire cruise was the ice show. Hard to believe but it was very professional.