Cruise Line: Royal Caribbean
Ship: Mariner of the Seas
Itinerary: Coco Cay, St. Thomas, St. Martin
Sailing Dates: 11/23/08 - 11/30/08
Departure City: Port Canaveral, Florida
Cabin Category: Balcony Cabin, Category 6A
Hometown: Morton Grove, IL
How I booked (directly or with a travel agent): Booked with local travel agent
Mariner of the Seas – Thanksgiving Cruise
November 23-30, 2008
Here’s my review of our recent cruise. Please note that the author (me) can at times be sarcastic, please take some of my comments with “tongue in cheek”.
Saturday, November 22, 2008
Our flight left Chicago O’Hare Airport on time and arrived early in Orlando. We picked up a rental car for a one-way rental from Avis and were on our way to Cocoa Beach by 10:30. We went for lunch at Sonny’s Pit Barbeque which was very good before going to our hotel. Ah the hotel. Based solely on the name my husband chose the Fawlty Tower Hotel, he’s a big fan of the television show. The hotel was fine for one night but I really don’t know if I would stay there again. Basil Fawlty however would be quite proud of this hotel. It is a typical old Florida hotel; there is a coffee pot in the room. However, the only other amenity provided is soap and a hairdryer so if you stay here bring your own shampoo. I will say the staff is extremely friendly and helpful and the location is good right next door to the Ron-Jon Surf shop and across the street from both a CVS and Walgreen’s (so you can buy some shampoo). The weather in Cocoa Beach was windy and according to those who live there cold. After reading a thermometer on our way to the airport that read 19 degrees, 60’s and windy felt downright balmy to us. After getting up at 4:30 in order to make our flight we both took long naps and then went to dinner after we woke up. We walked to the Florida Seafood Bar & Grill dinner and stopped at CVS on our way back to pick up some soda and water to bring onboard the ship (oh and shampoo).
Sunday, November 23, 2008
We returned our rental car to Avis and took their shuttle over to the pier. We were the only passengers on the shuttle. We arrived at the pier about 11:00 and checked in. Boarding had not yet started and there was about 100 people waiting to board. The representative directing us to wear to wait looked at our seapass started to send us one way and than said “Oh, you’re diamond go stand over there” I did tell her it didn’t matter however she insisted we go wait with what I assume were the other Diamond C & A members. Immediately after we got to where we were told to wait they started boarding and we ended up being some off the first onboard. So we were onboard about 11:30, had we gone and joined the “unwashed masses” aka non-diamond members we most likely would have been on board about 11:40.
Keeping in mind that we have never been on a ship larger than Radiance class, here’s what I have to say about the Mariner, THIS SHIP IS FREAKING HUGE. More about the ship later.
After wandering around for a bit we stopped at the Schooner Bar our first (of many) drink. After a couple of cocktails we decided we should probably eat something and went up to the Windjammer for lunch. To me there is nothing worse than the Windjammer for both the first lunch and last breakfast; it’s usually just mass confusion. It never seems quite so bad the rest of the week as everyone doesn’t all show up at the same time. It’s really best to wait until after 1:00 when everyone can get into their cabins and then go to the Windjammer.
After lunch we went up to our cabin and met our cabin steward, Phillip. We were in cabin 6614 a balcony cabin located on the “hump”. This is a typical RCI cabin plenty of storage and the usual tiny bathroom. Though the Mariner does have shower doors and not the clingy shower curtains found on some ships. What is different about the hump balcony cabins on Radiance class is the extra room afforded by the location is given to you on the balcony, on the Mariner it is inside the room. So we had about an extra 2 feet right before the balcony door. It was only good for the steward storing the big pillows and bed scarf when he turned down our bed in the evenings, I would have much rather had the extra space on the balcony.
We had early seating for dinner and after we saw how many children were waiting outside the dining room we were thrilled to meet our dining companions, three other couples traveling without children. Now I have nothing against children they have every right to cruise and since this was Thanksgiving week we expected there to be a lot of children onboard. I just really don’t want to have dinner with them unless I’m related to them.
There were over 800 passengers under 18 onboard this sailing and as far as we were concerned they were never a problem. Well there was my husband’s elevator incident. He was riding up when a boy about 12 got on with him and pressed all of the buttons. When they got to the next floor he asked the boy if he was getting out, the boy said “no this wasn’t the floor he wanted”. My husband insisted that since he had pressed the button he must want to get off on that floor and basically told him to get off the elevator and the boy got off. My husband saw him climbing the stairs when he got off at the next floor.
Monday, November 24, 2008 – Coco Cay
It was very windy, but because the ship is so big it blocked the wind enough so that the tenders were able to load and unload passengers. We did not get off the ship. We have been to Coco Cay and both other ports we were stopping at and had intended this to be an extremely lazy cruise and really weren’t planning on getting off the ship at all. After all the best days at the pool are the days when the ship is in port I generally avoid the pool on sea days. We did have lunch at Johnny Rockets, this was my husbands first time and only my second to eat at a Johnny Rockets, they don’t have them on the Radiance and Vision class ships we usually end up on.
This was the first formal night and it seemed as though everyone in the dining room followed the guidelines (OK rules). We spent the hour before dinner each night in the overflow concierge lounge in the Dragon’s Lair. On Monday there were about 4 other people down there with us, by the following Saturday there was a fairly good size crowd there. Most of them said they didn’t know there was an over flow lounge. All I can say is read the entire letter that comes with the key to the concierge lounge.
Tuesday, November 25, 2008 – At sea
I love, love, love sea days! My favorite thing to do is just sit and watch the sea pass by. OK I do hold a book in my lap so at least it appears that I’m doing something constructive, but really I’m just watching the sea go by. We had dinner at Chops today. The food and service was excellent.
Wednesday, November 26, 2008 – St. Thomas
Well we did get off the ship in St. Thomas. I needed to purchase a birthday gift for my sister in-laws 60th birthday and figured I would get a better price in St. Thomas than in St. Martin or at home. So we made a quick stop at one of the jewelry stores and then at a cosmetic shop for me and were back onboard in about an hour. Yes I most likely would have gotten a better price if we had gone into town, but the pool was calling my name. We attended the ice show after dinner it was fantastic and should not be missed.
Thursday, November 27, 2008 St. Martin and Thanksgiving
Another day spent onboard at the pool. For dinner they did have turkey and stuffing along with mashed potatoes and vegetables. The turkey was actually very good, moist not dry. Well my husband didn’t feel it could possibly be Thanksgiving if he couldn’t have a turkey sandwich later that night. After dinner he went up to the Windjammer and brought back a plate of turkey along with bread and mayonnaise, good thing I had extra Ziploc bags.
Friday, November 28, 2008 – At sea
Ah another sea day. Tonight was the second formal night and lobster night. We did go to the show after dinner to see Tribute to the Temptations, they were very good.
Saturday, November 29, 2008 – At sea
Yet another sea day (yeah). I hate packing to go home it means we’ll be leaving whatever ship we are on and that’s just depressing. We actually had most of our packing done early in the morning so I didn’t spend all day thinking “I have to pack”. We were just lazy for most of the day. Two of our tablemates were celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary tonight, we really did feel privileged to be spending such a special night with them. After dinner we went to the farewell show.
Sunday, November 30, 2008 – Port Canaveral
Disembarkation day, also known as “get off the ship we have new friends coming onboard day”. We had a very late flight home so we took the Kennedy Space Center Tour mainly to kill some time. My husband really enjoyed the tour, I wasn’t crazy about it. There was nothing wrong with the tour it just isn’t something that really interests me. The shuttle was scheduled to land while we were at the space center, unfortunately due to high winds it was diverted to California for landing. We arrived at the Orlando airport about 3:30 and finally got out on our delayed flight at 9:30. We arrived home to snow in Chicago which is what had caused the flight delays.
I went to the casino most nights onboard the ship and might have had better luck throwing my money overboard and trying to catch what was blown back in my face (translation loser in the casino).
We only attended two shows and none of the games; i.e. The Quest, Love and Marriage. After so many cruises on Royal Caribbean we’ve kind of “been there, done that” with many of the onboard activities.
The ship is lovely. However, it is just too darn big for us. What seemed to be lacking was the intimacy you find on smaller ships. On the smaller ships, it seems as if you run into the same passengers or your tablemates over and over and form friendships, sometimes just for a week and sometimes permanently. I would defiantly recommend this ship for anyone traveling with children there is plenty to keep them entertained on board. We won’t be booking another cruise on a Voyager class ship if we can help it and have no desire at all to go on a Freedom class ship or the Oasis. Unfortunately, it appears that Royal Caribbean is moving many of their smaller ships away from the US market.
All in all it was a good cruise. We had great weather, fabulous tablemates, and it was a very relaxing vacation. If anyone has any questions please let me know and if that was your child my husband told to get off the elevator I apologize but they really should only push the button for the floor they want.