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  #1 (permalink)  
Old 12-23-2004, 01:20 PM
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Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 12
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Hello all

My husband and I will be sailing on the Mariner of the Seas on February 13th. He has cruised (a long time ago) but I have never cruised. I will be turning 40 and he told me I could turn 40 anyplace in the world that I wanted and this is what I chose.

I have a question (ok, I have a million questions) about excursions. Specifically, I keep hearing about the stingrays in Grand Cayman. We had originally chosen the Catamaran & Snorkel tour, but I think we will be changing. Does anyone have an opinion one way or another. Also, there are 3 different stingray city tours... can anyone tell me the difference between them? One says "personalized" - what does that mean.

I'd love to hear opinions about how to celebrate my birthday onboard. We will probably have dinner in one of the specialty restaurants, not sure which one. Do people actually sit at the "captains table" and if so, how does that happen?

I am sure there will be more questions as the time gets closer.

Thanks!
  #2 (permalink)  
Old 12-23-2004, 01:20 PM
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Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 12
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Hello all

My husband and I will be sailing on the Mariner of the Seas on February 13th. He has cruised (a long time ago) but I have never cruised. I will be turning 40 and he told me I could turn 40 anyplace in the world that I wanted and this is what I chose.

I have a question (ok, I have a million questions) about excursions. Specifically, I keep hearing about the stingrays in Grand Cayman. We had originally chosen the Catamaran & Snorkel tour, but I think we will be changing. Does anyone have an opinion one way or another. Also, there are 3 different stingray city tours... can anyone tell me the difference between them? One says "personalized" - what does that mean.

I'd love to hear opinions about how to celebrate my birthday onboard. We will probably have dinner in one of the specialty restaurants, not sure which one. Do people actually sit at the "captains table" and if so, how does that happen?

I am sure there will be more questions as the time gets closer.

Thanks!
  #3 (permalink)  
Old 12-23-2004, 05:14 PM
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Once you have achieved Diamond status in the Crown & Anchor Club, your chances of seating with the Captain at dinner go up. Not a guarantee, as he chooses who dines with him. Also, booking the Owner's suite is almost a guarantee...
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Old 12-23-2004, 05:50 PM
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How do you receive an invitation? If I knew the precise answer, I’d be happy to share it. Unfortunately, while there are hundreds of passengers on every cruise who would no doubt enjoy dining with him, there is just one Captain. However, some factors can work in your favor when guest lists are drawn up. For instance, if you are a frequent repeater of the cruise line, you may be invited—and I’m not talking 2, 4, or even a dozen cruises. On the Zenith, one of the ladies at the Captain’s table was a repeater with 50-plus Celebrity cruises under her belt! Occupants of an Owner’s Suite, or other top category digs, are considered, but (speaking from personal experience) you can’t count on an invitation. If you’re from the Captain’s hometown or speak his native language, you may be a top candidate.
Truthfully, the criteria for being invited to dine with the captain is tricky. Lists of recommended onboard VIPs whiz through FAX machines from cruise line headquarters to ships. Honeymoon couples are sometimes selected at random, as are couples celebrating a golden wedding anniversary. Attractive unattached female passengers often round out an uneven number of guests. I’ve heard that requests made by travel agents on behalf of their clients sometimes do the trick.
While some cruise lines dictate guest lists from home port, on other lines the matter of selecting lively dinner partners for the captain is left up to the discretion of Hotel Managers and Social Hostesses. With economy of scale ruling today’s seas, the ratio of passengers to captain makes it an increasingly difficult task. The practice of dining with passengers at an “official” Captain’s Dinner differs among cruise lines as well. Some lines assign passengers for the duration of the voyage to tables presided over by the vessel’s master or other officers. If your “cruise” happens to be a “crossing” you may not see much of senior officers at dinner, though—their necessary presence on the bridge supercedes social obligations.
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Old 12-24-2004, 12:42 PM
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Location: TRENTON MI USA
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What is the fascination of dining with the Captain? I have only been on 7 cruises and don't remember seeing anyone dining with the captain or even seeing him in the dining room. I maybe wrong but I think it is something that Hollywood made up for Love Boat. On most cruises the only time I have seen him was at the Captain's reception or the Sunday service. Even at that I don't think I would want to have dinner with him. For the most part I would prefer a table for 2 and enjoy my wife's company especially if it was our honeymoon.

As far as options for celebrating your birthday. If you are thinking about getting some special treatment from the cruise line forget about it. Just about everyone on board is either celebrating a birthday, anniversary, honeymoon or just life in general. The cruise line may hang some balloons by your door and may sing happy birthday at dinner and present you with a small cake. Other than that you are on your own. Hate to sound like a pessimist but this is how it is.

A cruise is a great way to celebrate a special occassion and makes a good gift. Just don't be upset or worry about the small stuff. Enjoy your cruise and have a happy birthday.
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Old 12-24-2004, 03:42 PM
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Location: Valley Center, CA 92082
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I would suggest treating yourself to dinner at Chops Grill on the Mariner. It is the ship's alternative restaurant that serves excellent steaks (and other entrees, as well) Book it right when you get on the ship and let the Maitre d' know it is a special occasion. Pre order a bottle of good wine, and you are ready for a celebration.

Sting Ray City is an excellent shore excursion. You will take a motor coach to a bay, noard your boat and then cross a large bay to the barrier reef. There you will snorkel with a ton of passive sting rays. You can feed them squid and they will allow you to hold them. Don't worry about getting stung, as they are quite docile.

Many people book the excursion with the local operators you will find at the tender wharf (not the ship's shore excursion) as they tend to be smaller groups and thus, more intimate.

Have a great cruise!

Tom
  #7 (permalink)  
Old 12-25-2004, 04:45 PM
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Thanks to those of you who provided me with positive feedback and information. It's truly appreciated.

I'm so excited!!
  #8 (permalink)  
Old 12-26-2004, 03:57 PM
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I'd also suggest dining at one of the ships specialty restaurants. I went once with my father (a sweet sixteen present), and it was fabulous.

As for dining with the captain... my parents have gotten an invite to either that or a "captains cocktail gala" (usually they do something like that on carnival) each time we've cruised (Booking a Royal Suite on RCCL or Celebrity is a guaruntee). While honored each time, they go, but really only out of respect to the captain. They've always said they'd honestly have rather eaten with their children and their tablemates. Perhaps that's just their opinion, but I've also heard from others that its not as entirely fabulous as one might imagine it would be... So, dont worry about that, instead enjoy a nice evening with your loved one.

Also, like rigid said, generally a cruise line doesnt go out of its way all that much to celebrate each and every passanger aboard... unless of course you booked a top of the line room. To me, thats the best way to cruise... No matter what room you stay in, you will be treated well, but trust me... they WILL notice you shelled out a bit more, and they will treat you accordingly.
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