We had a good cruise on a fine ship. We have cruised on a number of ships on various companies, and would recommend this one, with a few cautions.
We booked as a part of a group of about 100 alumni from Mercy Ships. It was wonderful reconnecting with people we knew, and many new friends. We arrived with another couple I knew from Mercy Ships to the port of Galveston around 10 a.m. and boarding was to begin at 11:30, but it did not. People arriving at the curb were not instructed where to go or what to do, and the line turned into a disorganized crowd. No Royal Caribbean personnel were around. Apartently the problem began when an escalator in the terminal did not work, and not enough customs agents showed up to clear the crowd in a timely fashion. We joined the line at 11 and did not get inside the building to check in until 1:30.
After that it was easy, except my bag did not show up with the others. It had been confiscated because I had read I could bring two bottles More
of wine with me. At 9 p.m. when I did not find my bag at our cabin, I found a voice mail telling me to go to deck 2. When I got there there were over 100 bags in the area, and I found mine quickly, but then had to join a long line of people for a bag inspection. There were 20 people ahead of me, and the one inspector was overly zealous and took about five minutes for each bag. After waiting in that line for twenty minutes and advancing only three places, I complained to them in a loud voice, and told them I was taking my bag to my cabin, and if they wished to inspect it they were welcome to do it there, and that is what I did. They did not follow me or throw me in the brig, but I thought it was a foolish management decision to antagonize their customers in a silly attempt to maximize bar revenues. I am a licensed ship captain for vessels of this size and know the ISPS convention does not require this inspection.
After that problem, the rest of the trip went well. In Cozumel we visited two new theme parks and enjoyed them, a scale model of Mayan cities in one and a beach and sea lion/dolphin show in the other. In Georgetown, Cayman we went to 7 mile beach and took a boat back to the ship, and got to see the beautiful beach from the sea side. In Jamaica we visited a 1700 plantation house. All were worthwhile. The best thing of the trip was the ship itself, with a main street style mall and many fine activities for any taste. The crew were excellent, the Ice show should not be missed, and I enjoyed the Fleur de Lis classical violin and piano trio. There was a two day sail back to Galveston that allowed for some relaxation from the port activities. I could have done without two formal nights, but my wife loved it, but that requires a lot more packing!
The high points of the cruise were the ship itself which was the largest we had ever been on, with correspondingly better public areas, activities, and shows. The negatives were larger crowds and more difficulty in getting on and off. I think Galveston needs to improve its terminal to handle vessels of this size.
also there were too many public areas where smoking was allowed, like in most of the bars where there was entertainment. The cabin was very nice, with a lot of storage and very nice bedding. The meals in the Rapsody in Blue main dining room were very good, and appeared quicly and were warm and well prepared, no need to go to the specialty dining rooms. The staff (except for security as noted above) were excellent. Less
Mariner of the Seas Cruises to the Western Caribbean