We left Seatac and arrived the day before our cruise. Being new to this whole process I wanted to make sure that there were no delays getting to the ship. We arrived in Houston and stayed at the Holiday Inn near the airport. Nice hotel, staff were very friendly, the room had updated decor and was clean. There were a lot of people in the lobby that day because of a cruise line that was delayed because of fog. The next day we took the hotel shuttle back to the airport to baggage claim and caught the Royal Caribbean shuttle to the port. The employees working the check in at the airport were very friendly! One employee Angela even took me to the Starbucks at the airport so I could get a cup of coffee before the shuttle! The shuttle to the port was easy and uneventful. There were quite a few people at the port and traffic was heavy. I would recommend bringing along a light jacket or vest if you are cruising in January! It was unusually cold that day ( about 39-40 degrees and very More
windy) we did have to stand in line for about 15-20 min waiting to go through the screening process and it got quite chilly. Once inside my mom and I went to a separate area to get checked in. She is disabled and walks with a cane and so I arranged to have her get help to the ship. This process went smoothly and quickly. We were given our sea passes and wheeled on board! We were greeted warmly and told right away that our rooms were ready. We were a little confused about where to meet for the muster drill and had a hard time understanding the instructions on the loudspeakers. We did however figure it out and were able to get there in time.
We had a suite with a balcony on the 7th deck. Nicely appointed room with enough space for the both of us to move around in. Bathroom had enough space and the shower was easy to get in and out of. Ample closet space. The bed was a bit hard but nothing that was not corrected after the first night by an extra pad brought to us by our fabulous attendant Maximillian.
What can I say other than.. it was EVERYWHERE! We ate lunch at the windjammer when we first got on the ship. Nothing jumped out at me that said "fabulous" just the standard hamburgers, hot dogs, lunch meat, fruit etc. It did have a lot of variety though. Food in the windjammer is what I would call "cafeteria style" Not bad but not extraordinary either. We had the sandwiches and pizza in the Cafe Promenade which were great! I tried the empanadas and they were also very tasty. The hot dog stand was another good choice. Buns were soft- not dried out and any kind of hot dog you could think of with many different topping selections.
Main Dining room : EXCELLENT FOOD. never had a bad meal there. Our waiter was Melvin and he was amazing. his assistant had our "habits" down after the 2nd day on what we liked to drink ( coffee, tea) and had it to us right away. I really liked my dining room experience. We had the early seating for dinner @ 5:45 and if we needed to catch one of the shows at 7 or 7:15 he made sure to get us out in time.
I really enjoyed the ice show and the Texas Tenors were the headline show. Very nice! Variety show was good and the comedians were funny. I enjoyed also the poolside competitions that they held. "Sexiest man contest" and "Belly Flop Contest" were both very enjoyable to watch while laying in the sun. We played Bingo also. ( you pay an extra fee to buy the cards, but it was worth it)
One final warning to anyone that is again new to the cruise scene and may not know this. My mom bought cups and a cooler from one of the tables on the last day of the cruise ( they have pretty good deals towards the end of the week to get rid of extra merchandise) at the end of the receipt it said 15% gratuity. When I went back to the stand to ask why I am paying gratuity on cups and a cooler bag I was told "everyone charges that." ( I knew this was not correct) I went directly to guest services and I was told that because those items are "bar items" that a 15% gratuity is automatically added. so- beware of buying shot glasses or anything bar related. You will pay extra.
Overall I really enjoyed my experience with Royal. With the exception of the tender ticket issue and the bar charging 15 % gratuity on merchandise I really loved the cruise. I appreciated how hard the staff works to make our cruising experience enjoyable, sanitary and safe. The ship was beautiful and the food was really wonderful. I am looking forward to planning my next cruise. Less
Mariner of the Seas Cruises to the Eastern Caribbean
Cabin review: Deluxe Oceanview Stateroom with Balcony
We had a mini suite w/balcony. The balcony was nice and big enough for two people to sit comfortably w/the little table between us. Beautiful view! Shower was big enough to move around in and I did not feel claustrophobic in there. Closet space was ample. Bed was a little hard but nothing that was not fixed by asking for extra padding for the bed. Nice room.
Went cave tubing in Belize which was a really great experience! I went with Island Marketing Ltd. Our guide was funny, informative and we had a good time. If you go tubing make sure you ask for Super Mario to be your guide if you use this company. The bus that they used to transport us to the caves was a little sketchy- so if you can deal with that then I would recommend this tour.
I had only one issue with Royal when it came to this port. If you do NOT book an excursion through the ship then they make you stand in a huge line to get a "tender ticket" to get off the ship. When I went to guest services and advised them that I have an excursion booked, just not with their company I was told that is how it works. I absolutely disagree with this procedure. I told guest services that they were giving preferential treatment to the Royal customers and that was not fair. I was forced to wait in line with everyone else and get a tender ticket. Only by sheer luck was I able to get into group 1 leaving the ship. Since I was going on the excursion by myself that day the person handing out the tickets had 1 single ticket left for that group. The person handing out tickets said to me: "oh, you are lucky."
Good info to know I think if you are new to the cruising scene like me. Hope this helps others when making a decision on which excursions and which company to use.
I signed up for the Ultimate Island Buggy Tour with Island Marketing Ltd which was supposed to be a tour of the island in "funky colorful buggies" we were supposed to go snorkeling which did not happen ( not exactly sure why) maybe because it was a little windy that day. Also the " bug " that I ended up with was actually a Chev Aveo with the back cut off of it. Only VW bug on the tour was the one driven by the tour guide and one other family. We did go to El Cedral as it stated but it was more like a shopping plaza than a settlement as described. We did stop for lunch and our guide Mario was very nice. He did prepare a nice lunch for us of fresh guacamole and salsa and barbecue chicken and tortillas with rice. When we walked across the street to the beach a big NO SWIMMING sign was posted. I was disappointed overall in this excursion and thought the price was NOT worth what I actually ended up getting. I would NOT recommend this tour.
Roatan Island - Loved it! Easy access to the shops right off the ship- literally within steps. Good for anyone not wanting to go very far. I would recommend taking an excursion that stops there- We used Victor Bodden for a tour of the island- it cost $25.00 and for extra 10 dollars they drive you to Fosters Bay Resort. It was amazing! the 10 bucks gets you resort access to their beach, facilities and restaurant. Best chicken tacos I have ever eaten! I would recommend this to any new people. Our driver was Dolae. We enjoyed his information about the island.