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of The Seas
May 4-11, 2008
by George Hall
Visiting: Labadee, Haiti; Jamaica; Grand Cayman; Cozumel, Mexico
We are cruiseaholics; fifty plus cruises. Traveling with good
friends whom we met cruising in 1992. Our ages range from mid
forties to late fifties. We sail two to three times a year,
We traveled a day in advance of sailing making arrangements to
stay at the Radisson At The Port, Port Canaveral. Booking online
and paying in advance we secured a rate of $99 for a double,
w/tax $109.89 This rate requires immediate charge at booking and
limited cancellation. Hotel was excellent location about 5
minutes from pier and provided FREE shuttle to ship. Pool area
was nice with bar and food available. Room was adequate, small
motel style, nothing fancy. It is a non-smoking hotel, however
plenty of opportunity to step outside room (motel style
entrances) or hang at pool bar area where smoking is permitted.
ORLANDO AIRPORT –
Our first time there, large but well organized. You shuttle via
smooth operating automated rail car from gate area to baggage,
main terminal area. Baggage area to rental cars and
transportation level require elevator to another level. Porters
are available and $3 self hand carts also readily available. The
self cart would be the option to use if renting a car as you
might be waiting in line for a while and therefore need second
porter. TRANSPORTATION to Hotel Pier area, about 50 miles or one
hour, can be arranged via various online services in area of
$100. RCI did not offer pre-day arrival transportation unless on
their packages, all which were theme park programs. We elected
to rent a car since we were also visiting friends in area for a
couple hours. Our friends arriving from different location and
time also rented a car, though going direct to hotel. We all
choose Budget based on rate which was in area of $61 W GPS for
under 24 hour rental. The Budget rental office is located less
than a quarter mile away from hotel and makes for an easy return
the next morning.
NOTE: To speed things up at Orland airport, sign up for
FASTBREAK or suffer the 30–40 minute line to do paperwork.
Budget is very popular, surely because of rates, and lines are
long. With fast break account number you can go right to car
area (which is at airport; no shuttle needed) and pick up keys
and car bypassing all the lines. HAD I ONLY KNOWN!
EMBARKATION – We
were shuttled over to pier from hotel, a short ride of 5 minutes
or so. Upon arrival porters took our luggage. Signs at pier
indicate that porters are salaried and tipping is not required.
A personal decision whether you wish to do so anyway.
It was a short walk to entrance to first check point. ID and
ticket check followed by X-ray and metal detector. We all know
the drill by now. Then up an escalator to check in areas. If you
completed your forms online and printed out your SeaPass forms
you have a special line and were handled very quickly. Merely ID
again, present credit card you indicated online, and boarding
pass is issued. Really does simplify process on all lines I have
used it on so far. This is where is became a LONG line,
boarding, mainly because ship had not yet started allowing
passengers on so there was a bit of a back log once they
commenced actual boarding. NOTE: Platinum and Diamond members
also have priority boarding and entered the long line to board
well ahead of many. Still they suffered line as well to some
degree. Also though we fit into Diamond category we did not
readily see that boarding area. You really have to look and ask
for priority boarding most places, this one included. I don’t go
nuts for it because I have found in previous years that such
priority boarding can be a plus or minus depending on how
staffed and such. NOTE: once on board you cannot get to cabin
areas until 1pm. They actually have the doors that close off the
corridors shut and locked.
CABIN – We were in
JR Suite 1650, our friend in 1652. These have an adjoining door
if you wish to have unlocked by the steward. I can’t say enough
about this category, we were extremely happy with the cabin size
and design! We have sailed the Grand Suite category on other
Voyager ships which is start of "real amenity" suite category
and I liked this cabin every bit as well. The walk in closet was
fantastic! Very, very convenient and very, very roomy! Plenty
drawers and even a laptop storage and use drawer. If you need
more space you definitely over packed!
A large safe with self programmable code and a mini bar
refrigerator also. Cabin space, balcony more than adequate with
couch, chair, and table. Location and deck, 10, good for buffet
and pool access and other areas of ship though a bit aft.
Bathroom has a bathtub. As a JR Suite you do not have true suite
amenities such as Concierge lounge use, DVD and such. The value
of those items is in the eye of the beholder. Diamond members
have lounge use no matter what accommodation taken. SMOKING is
allowed on balcony NOT in cabin. That was not a problem as
weather was perfect.
DINING/FOOD – We
were second seating table 532, I think it was, with Utou (sp?)
and Michele who were excellent. Food is always a personal
opinion, we were happy enough with it. Service was excellent and
we had no complaints. BUFFET area was excellent in our opinion
offering many choices, iced tea, lemonade, and water
complimentary and several locations makes for easy pickup. We
don’t use specialty restaurants so can offer no comment. Coffee
was decent and on the BLVD you can get excellent lattes and
such, but they are additional cost.
ENTERTAINMENT - The
Voyager class ships offer much in activity as large ships, mini
golf (we used it and it was fun), rock climbing wall, ice rink
and such. Two pools offer best of both worlds. Main pool noisy
and active with pool games and music. Second ADULT only pool
quiet and enjoyable, plenty of sun and shade areas for both.
Shows were entertaining enough for shipboard variety acts
featuring standard dancers and singers, but also some comedians
which we enjoy. Lounges had various music offerings. The ICE
SHOW remains a must see. Tickets are required for one of the
four shows as crowd control, there is no charge.
INTERNET – Both
internet lounge with terminals and wireless laptop connections
are available. As is usually the case on board a ship,
connections are like fast dialup, much slower than most of us
are used to. Charge is .55 a minute which is less expensive than
previous .75 a minute that has been the norm. They also offer
packages that bring down price per minute for purchasing a set
number of minutes. Wireless connect is limited to several areas
and lounges, mostly forward, and the internet café. Printing is
available in café and there is no extra charge, excellent for
printing out airline boarding passes and such at end of cruise.
I have taken to limiting my internet use onboard to a quick mail
download to laptop so appreciated a relatively reasonable minute
rate. Sign up is done at internet café terminal and is a
painless self process. Crown and Anchor members also receive
some free internet charge coupons. As Diamond we had $20 worth,
simply fill out and drop in box at Pursers desk and credited
against your usage.
ITINERARY - Having
sailed these islands many times we decided for most part to stay
onboard and enjoy pool facilities and such while all were almost
exclusively ours. So I leave island activity and review to
others. I will say we got off and took brief walk in Jamaica to
mall area near ship where Jimmy Buffet's is located. Souvenirs
were somewhat expensive there, Cozumel was a much better deal
for those T-shirts and like. Best cigarette price was on ship at
$86 for 5 cartons. Other prices in ship's store for clothes very
Done by color tags as usual. They do not allow you to wait in
your cabin nor do they offer room service that morning. They
repeatedly state they would like you out of your cabin by 8 am.
I am usually not happy about the hurry up get out and wait
system but on Mariner it is not as much of an inconvenience as
it is on some ships. Being so large there are many areas to get
comfortable while waiting your turn.
It seemed that Mariner gets disembarked quicker than most ships
we have sailed. Perhaps since airport is hour drive or maybe
just because the lines are after you walk down the gangway and
are off the ship. You present yourself to immigration and
customs at same time in an area of booths containing the
Officers and computers. After clearing through there you head
for your luggage. Again something a little different, a baggage
carousel like at airports. Much better than the pile of luggage
on the floor to search through. Porters were readily available
to transport your luggage to pick up areas.
We secured transportation to airport via bus at pursers desk
during the cruise. Bus to airport was convenient and comfortable
at $32 per person.
GENERAL COMMENT –
Mariner of Seas was a very nice ship, and being newer is in
great shape. Staff and crew friendly and helpful. Captain Johnny
from the bridge is a want-to-be comedian providing information
in a jovial way. He was often seen walking about the ship with
members of his staff. Overall the Mariner cruise was an
You can see a few pictures at
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Unfortunately, due to a personal customer service issue with
RCCL land operations and issues with smoking policies on RCCL’s
Celebrity brand, we are not planning to sail with RCCL or their
product lines in the future. However that is a personal decision
that in no way reflects on the cruise experience we had on board
Mariner of The Seas, which was excellent.
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