We're unpacked and the laundry is being done so I thought I'd write a quick review of our recent trip. This was our fourth year of doing a late February seven day cruise out of Galveston to the Western Caribbean. This was our third year aboard the Mariner of the Seas.
Boarding this year was by far the easiest, smoothest boarding we've experienced. We didn't have to wait in line at all and were literally in our cabin thirty minutes after parking our car.
We booked cabin 7618, a balcony on the port hump. The room was very nice and we liked the flat-screen upgrade over last year's old TV. The flowers, cheese, fruit and wine we had ordered were waiting for us. Unpacked our suitcases, hung our RC fluffy robes on the bathroom door and we were set!
Sail-away was fun. We checked around the Sky bar but did not find any of the Mariner Marauders to meet so we enjoyed our first drink with our group of ten friends. We were on the early seating for dinner so we didn't linger long on deck.
This year we were able to get a dinner table next to the window on Deck 3. For us this was far superior to the other tables we had the previous three years. We rotated throughout the week so we all had a chance to sit facing the window with a full ocean view as we dined. This was the first week of the new menu. In our collective view, the menu was AWESOME and we enjoyed our meal every night. Our waiter, Heri, was the absolute best waiter we've ever had and he really contributed to our dining experience.
Monday morning was the cabin crawl. While my wife got her massage at the spa, I met with several other Mariner Marauders from Cruise Critic and took a tour of several different cabin categories. Thank you to all who allowed us to invade your cabins. I learned a lot. We saw a Junior Suite on the hump, a deluxe balcony and a Junior suite on the fantail, and a Grand Suite. WOW!!! Thanks again!
The Meet and Mingle was entertaining. It was nice to meet new folks, play "people bingo" and get a free gift! Then it was off to the slot pull where around fifteen of us proved why gambling on a cruise ship is probably the not the best way spend money? Thank you to cruisindawn for organizing the slot pull. Ten bucks is ten bucks!
We went to first production show and liked it. We also liked the comedian and one solo singer who did the Sammy Davis Jr. routine and I am sure someone here can actually remember their names. Our group is split on the second production show and the Unexpected Boys. The musicians spread throughout the ship were all outstanding. Now..the karoke...well...? We also spent a couple of late nights in the Dragons Lair. This was our first time in there and my wife loved the dancing. We also spent a good amount of time in the casino. For our group, the slots were tough, except one of us (not me!) did hit a $1300 jackpot. I enjoyed playing at the card tables for a little while which I had never done before. The dealers were very helpful to explain why I was losing!
In Roatan we booked our friend Alfonzo through Christopher tours to take us to the Extremely Extreme Zip-Line. He was waiting for us just outside the gate of the port with his air-conditioned van. 30 minutes later were getting our harnesses on. This was our second year Zip Linning but our first at this particular venue. It was AWESOME! Go! After our zip-line we headed to Half-Moon Bay to spend the rest of the day enjoying Honduran cigars, Monkey Lalas, blackened snapper and even a little snorkeling. Roatan is spectacular.
We look forward to our Belize excursion. We book a horse back trip with Santiago Juan from Hanna Stables (www.hannastables.com) Santiago is an extremely personable, well educated, eco-friendly rancher/farmer/horseman. His driver met as at the port and we took the long trip to San Ignacio. Santiago was waiting with our horsed ready to go. We rode with Santiago last year and were prepared for the stunning beauty of riding along the Mopal river, seeing Mayan ruins on the top of the hills, and enjoying a home cooked lunch of Belizean food so weren't taken by surprise. We would love to spend a week with Santiago riding. This is, in our opinion, an absolute must do excursion.
Cozumel was a bust for many of us on this cruise due to weather. We had booked a day-pass at Secrets Aura resort and were very disappointed. I had read several very positive reviews of this resort so my expectations were high. For the $100 per person, which includes all drinks, food and water activities, I also expected a little service. We paid $15 for a taxi to the resort, were shown to the desk when we arrived and they collected our money. There was not orientation, tour or even directions as to where to go and what was available. We never had a waiter ask us if we wanted a drink. The menu at the restaurant had a very limited number of choices for lunch and it still took 30 minutes to get our food after we ordered. The food was unimpressive. My wife and a friend did have a good experience at the spa getting a massage. Also, the resort seemed focused on it's week package clients who all appeared to be happy with the resort and the service. However, for our money, we won't be spending anymore time there.
The windy weather in Cozumel stayed with us as we headed back to Galveston. We didn't spend much time outside on the return trip but enjoyed doing some shopping on board and eating lunch in the dining room rather than Windjammers. Lunch in the dining room is great! Love the salad bar!
Ok..this was a bit longer than I anticipated. Our 2013 cruise was a huge success. We've put our deposit down for our next cruise and can hardly wait.