We just returned from our Royal Caribbean cruise on Mariner of the Seas. It is our understanding that Mariner will be leaving Galveston and going to Asia in two weeks and Navigator will be replacing it in Galveston. This is going to be a good change, and there are so many things that are alike on both ships, that there will still be the same care and concern for its passengers.
We drove in from Oklahoma and arrived on Saturday evening staying at the Holiday Inn, Webster, Texas. This is a great location to the port. Just a short 30 minute drive the next morning. This hotel was excellent, in a great location for dinner and shopping. This suburb seems fairly new so there were several hotels here that we would use again. We ate breakfast at a local restaurant, then got last minute purchases (water, flea collar, cold medications at a local store before driving to the port.
We arrived at the Port about 10:30am. We use Indoor parking at Galveston Park-n-Cruise. This is very convenient. We actually go to the Strand and shop for a little bit at the quaint little shops before going back to our car, getting our luggage and walking the short distance to board our ship. We took our luggage to the appropriate area (not labeled very well). We then got in line for pre-boarding and paperwork. We had completed the Sea Pass info on line so it was just a matter of getting thru screening, and then another line to get our Sea Pass Cards. This was the only negative to our cruise. Lines were not very well labeled, or the attendant was not clear and we got in the wrong line. We are just gold members, but there is a line for us, and it would have been a lot less time. About a one hour wait before boarding the ship. Our first cruise was on Navigator, so Mariner was the same layout.
We headed to the Windjammer for a quick bite to eat. Excellent for Buffet style food. There was flavor in the food and several choices. It really wasnt over-crowded and there are plenty of great views. We then went to our room to unload our two carry-ons and ready to explore the ship. Our room was in the perfect location! We were 8601, back of the ship with an Atrium View. These are just a little more than an inside room but have windows to the promenade. This was an excellent location to go up 3 flights of stairs to the Windjammer for Breakfast, or down 3 flights for dining. Our first bag arrived about 5PM. After another hour our second bag had still not arrived but we had a note to check on Deck One. In reading cruisecritic.com, I understood that this meant that we might have had something in the suitcase that they didnt allow and we could not think of what it could be. My husbands scuba gear was all in this suitcase, so he was a little frantic! They were very courteous on Deck One. There were several bags and several people trying to bring liquor on board. We think that our culprit was our two cans of Pringles Potato Chips. (We bring these with BBQ/Chili Powder for motion sickness on the small dive boats; it is supposed to help) These cans are foil lined, so think that was our issue! So glad to get our suitcase all in one piece.
The shows all week were very good, especially the comedians. Ella Mae was the best, and was really hoping for a late night show!! I am hoping she will be on the comedy channel very soon. We are not into drinking, late night dancing or gambling. We enjoyed the solarium, the gym, the steam room and just spending time together and relaxing. This was a very quiet cruise with not very many kids or college age kids. Think this may be because it is so close to finals week and most parents dont want to take kids out of school this late in the year.
We were scheduled for my time dining. I did book a time each night for this on line, and that worked out very well. We sometimes ate by ourselves, and sometimes ate at the same table with a group of people. These were not people our age, so conversation was limited at times. In past cruises, we had early seating and most of our dinner table companions were of the same age. We also ate at the specialty restaurant, Chopps one night. This is an amazing meal and worth every penny. We request to sit by the window to see the sunset.
Our plan in cruising is for DH to dive on each port, and sometimes I go as a non-diver. I usually have to pay a little more to do this, but it is worth it to go along. DH had a head cold that was getting worse, so bad that his nose bled every day, several times a day. This meant that he would not be able to clear his ears, so the dive excursions were cancelled. He was disappointed, but this was definitely the best decision for us with full refunds for excursions.
Roatan was a beautiful place. We chose to take a Beach and Snorkel Excursion thru the ship. I think that this may be part of West Bay Beach. There was an air-conditioned bus that took us to the Resort location with a short drive through town. It was a wonderful Resort and Lunch was part of our excursion. This consisted of Hamburgers, Hot dogs, Cole Slaw, Beans, Watermelon, Mango, Water and Lemonade. All attendants or servers were very nice. Of course, there is a place to tip everyone, but we only tipped the security person that watched our things while we snorkeled. The snorkeling was the best we have ever seen. The water was extremely warm and clear and there were all kinds of fish. Attendants in kayaks were there to let you know when you were getting too close to the coral or riptides. There were plenty of palm trees, chairs and it was not too crowded at this facility. The scenery is very beautiful on the whole island so lots of great pictures. The bathroom facilities were very clean. There were buses that went back to port every 30 minutes. The beach was not too crowded and this was a very enjoyable time. We will do this excursion again.
Belize is a 45 minute Tender Ride each way and we just didnt see anything of interest to us in the list of excursions, so stayed on the ship and had it all to ourselves.
Cozumel-We had been to this port several times so just did a little shopping at the port. The other port, where Ron Jons is located is so much better for shopping. I think that Cozumel has the best prices for things and more of a variety. We would have liked to have gone to a beach but these are more crowded since there were five cruise ships here so again, went back to the ship and enjoyed the Solarium and pools by ourselves.
Overall, our cruise was wonderful. We just enjoyed spending time together. We love Royal Caribbean and feel they treat their guests very well. We will definitely cruise again.