First a little background.This is my first cruise on the Mariner of the Seas.It is my sixth with Royal Caribbean and my fourteenth overall.I will be on the Mariner OTS again in April 2011.I am in one of the two center "hump" balcony cabins on the port side, deck seven.
In the past people have asked for more details.To accommodate this request I type my reviews while on the ship, while the events are still fresh in my mind.I am sitting on my balcony as we head south toward Cabo.The sun has just gone down, but it will still be light outside for another thirty minutes.It is a little on the cool side, which is just how I like it.
This is the first time the Mariner has returned to Cabo since mid April because of the swine flu (I forget the PC name for the disease).Also on this cruise are friends from my prior cruise, though we booked this cruise first (more than two years ago).I can thank the online cruise forums for that.
Day one - embarkation
I live less than one hour from the port.So I got up today, packed, and picked up one of the people from the roll call before arriving at the port just a little after .The parking lot is pretty empty because this time of year this is the only ship leaving out of San Pedro.The NCL and Princess ships are in Alaska, the other Royal Caribbean ship for Miami (and was not replaced), and the Carnival ships dock in Long Beach (a next door neighbor, but still a different parking lot).
Though pier 93 is the preferred place to dock, the Mariner is too big for pier 93.In fact, the Mariner has to back up the channel to dock, as it is too big to fit under the bridge (the cruise ships normally go under the bridge to get into the turning basin to make the 180 degree turn).So, the Mariner is docked at piers 91 and 92.The gangplank is on temporary scaffolding.The procedure is, show your SetSailPass and go though security, then check in and get your Seapass card (room key and on board account card).Then board the ship where the security photo is taken, and finally the embarkation photo is also taken on board the ship.
The security line is no problem.I am platinum and get priority embarkation.Someone cut in line in front of me at the check in counter.I decide not to make a big deal out of it.There is a line and a wait to get on the ship.Things are being held up at the security photo.There is one line, but it looks like two.Naturally people get into the shorter line, which is actually cutting in front of those that have been in line for a while.Again, I decide to say nothing.When I see there is a line for the embarkation photo, I decide to skip it.However, later during my ship tour I walk by the embarkation photo area and there is no line, so I have the embarkation photo taken then.
Once on board I went to the cabin to drop off my carry on stuff.Though it was only a little after , since I have been on several ship tours, I know how to get past the closed doors.In fact, I had someone from security help me find my cabin steward.I always want the cabin steward to know that the stuff in the cabin is mine.He gives me the thumbs up sign.I drop my stuff off and tell him I put it in the closet so that it is out of his way.Again he gives me the thumbs up sign.
First thing I do is head to the Royal Promenade so I can get some good pictures.Since I am not flying I brought three cameras, including my new DSLR, my normal travel camera (which is a lot smaller than the DSLR) and an underwater camera.I will use the DSLR for most of my photographs.However, I'll use the travel camera for one long shore excursion where I don't want to haul around the DSLR and I'll use the underwater camera for one shore excursion that will involve swimming.
The other advantage of not flying, I am able to take one very large suitcase, because I don't have to worry about any weight restrictions (I'm sure the suitcase weighs more than 50 pounds).
After the pictures of the Royal Promenade I head to the Windjammer for lunch.It is before and the cabins are not open yet, so EVERYONE is there.No problem, I'll just eat by the pool.Oops, I'm told I cannot take food out to the pool.I say, "Since when?"However, I realize this person is not the person making the rule and I'm not going to argue with him.I find a stool and eat in the Windjammer.I later find out that this is a new local requirement because of fear of the fruit fly.
Then it is back out to the pool (with the food safely hidden in my stomach) to take some pictures.Then I notice one of my tablemates.I get his attention and then find out he is about to meet up with the rest of the gang in the Windjammer.Since I have already eaten and know it is crowded in there, I decide to take more pictures.However, a little after I go into the Windjammer and now there are plenty of places to eat.I find all my tablemates and we all say our hellos.
Then it is back out for more photos.By the time I am done taking photos, it is almost time for the muster drill.Back to the cabin to get the life jacket and then it is off to muster drill at .We leave at and Captain Johnny informs us that we will leave on time.Back to the cabin to put away the life jacket and get my camera, and then it is off to the bow (since my cabin is on the port side, and all the action is in the starboard since, I decide to head to the bow for the departure photos.As it turns out, so does one of my tablemates.
We have some people from the fire department on the cruise.Their names are Greg, Sidney and Mark.And how do I know this?Because the fire boat has a big sign wishing them a bon voyage, and a really powerful squirt gun to make sure everyone notices.
Finally, about we are in the open ocean, so I head back to the cabin to unpack.Then it is time for dinner.I decide to go with the shrimp ravioli and as I suspected, because of the shrimp, the bowl is less than half full.No matter, between the hot and sour soup, the main dish and the chocolate ice cream, I am not hungry (of course the plate full of food I had for lunch might have helped).
After dinner I pick up my embarkation photo and then off to the cabin to see what is up.Too late for the show, so I head to the deck for sunset.Not much of a show there either.So it is back to the cabin to type this.I note that I have taken over three hundred photos (over one gigabyte worth).Fortunately I am using an 8 GB memory card, so I have no trouble taking all those photos.Also, I believe it is a new first day record for me.
As I set here typing I notice a ship on the port side several miles away.I wonder if it is the Carnival Splendor headed to PV.It will get there on Wednesday (we will get to Cabo on Tuesday).I also note it is fairly quiet.I say this because recently someone fell off a Carnival ship and one of the crew heard the splash.Several people on the cruise line forums don't believe this.However, I would have no trouble hearing someone hitting the water tonight.
Well, I'm going to do a little shopping and then look at my photos (another reason I like to bring my computer on the cruise with me).It is much easier to review the photos on the seventeen inch computer screen (yes, it is a big laptop) than it is on the 2.5 inch camera screen.
Day two - day at sea
Good morning everyone.We moved our clocks ahead one hour last night, so we lost an hour, and now it is one hour later than it seems.We are currently headed south (the course is 162 degrees) at a little over 21 knots (about 24 ½ MPH).The Captain said it is 819 nautical miles (about 942 land miles) from Los Angeles to Cabo.So, we need to average 21 knots to make it to Cabo on time.So far, at we are about 267 nautical miles closer than we were fourteen hours ago.The wind is coming from the NW at about seventeen miles per hour, so we are going to have a gentle breeze blowing across the deck.
It is supposed to be partly cloudy today.I don't know about the partly part, but it is definitely cloudy.Sunrise was supposed to be at .However, with all the cloud cover I don't know if the sun rose or not.So far my sunrise and sunset photo opportunities have been a complete bust.
Well, days at sea are supposed to be relaxing.So, even though I am obviously wide awake, I'm taking it easy.The Meet & Mingle is at , so I'm figuring I'll goof off or a while, get showered and dressed, then get breakfast and bring it back to the balcony to enjoy.
On my last several cruises I have remarked that the light switch for the bathroom was outside the bathroom on the hinge side of the door.This is a very poor placement, since most people are used to entering the bathroom to turn on the light.Once you realize the error it would be nice to just reach outside the door and turn on the light.But if the light switch is on the hinge side of the door, you can't do that, unless your arms are five feet long.I am pleasantly surprised to find the light switch in this cabin on the latch side of the door, which makes it an easy reach from inside the bathroom.
Well after a showering (the water was both hot and had plenty of pressure) I headed up to the Windjammer for a plate full of breakfast, a napkin and two cartons of milk and headed back to my balcony for breakfast.The room steward was busy cleaning the room, so by staying out on the balcony I was able to enjoy a nice breakfast in the open air and stay out of his way.
Since it was cloudy and since there was only about 90 minutes to the Meet & Mingle (or so I thought, turns out the M & M was 30 minutes later than I thought) I decided to take more pictures.I've got my new DSLR with me, and normally I will not take it flying, so I plan to make this the most photographed ship I've been on - and I'm well on my way to that goal.It is now Monday night and I've taken over 600 photographs taking about 2 ½ gigabytes of storage space.This time I went after the interesting art work on the forward stairs wells.It is strange, this ship has an automotive theme to much of its artwork, yet it is the only Voyager class (and possibly the only Voyager and Freedom class) ship without a car in the Royal Promenade.
I also took more pictures of the Royal Promenade.I keep thinking I've got some evening photos, I need some daytime photos.Then I remember, the Royal Promenade is inside and there is no natural light.So it really doesn't matter what time of the day it is.
The meet and mingle was not as good as the prior ones I attended.The Captain showed up, but only waived.He didn't take any questions or say anything.My friend's family won three of the door prizes.
Then I decided to head the shopping talk, though for the life of me I cannot figure out why.It is the same old talk I have heard several times before and quite frankly I got bored, but did stay for the entire talk.
It is still cloudy outside and I've got pictures of the pools, late enough in the morning that one would expect the pools to be full, and they are empty.Later on the clouds disappeared and the pools filled up.I wonder if there is a connection between the amount of clouds in the sky and the number of people in the pool.
After the shopping talk I check out the logo shop.There are three small kids I hope to see in a couple of weeks and I want to bring them something.I find something for the two girls, but I'll wait until Friday in case I find something better in the ports.For the boy I'll have to find something in the ports.
Then I run into my friends.I tell them about the pictures I've been taking and mention that all I need now is some cabins to photograph.My friends volunteer their cabin, so I get some good pictures of a rear facing junior suite to go along with my hump balcony cabin.
Now it is early afternoon.The clouds are gone and the pools are full.More photos and then it is time for some of the free soft serve ice cream (the ice cream on the pool deck is free - Ben & Jerry's in the Royal Promenade cost extra).Johnny Rockets has empty seats, but it is too close to diner for that, so I change into my bathing suit and take a quick dip.The deck patrol is out and has a good handle on the kids.Not perfect, but things are under control.However, as I am swimming I find that child has jumped in (or pushed - I not sure which) and almost landed on me.It was close enough that I felt the girls hand go down along the side of my face.I'm not hurt and decide not to say anything.However, had this happened two seconds later, it could have been a lot worse.
Tonight is formal night.There is also an ice show before dinner.So I change and then head to the ice show.There are no more ice show tickets, so it is first come first served.I get a center seat on the end so I can get some good photos, which I do.The show was good, but not as good as I have seen on my other Voyager and Freedom class cruises.
Then it is dinner, which is very good.After dinner I rush out so I can meet the Captain.Royal Caribbean doesn't want anyone shaking hands (to help prevent the spread of disease, so the Captain will not be shaking hands.I ask if he will answer any questions and I am told yes, if it is simple.It is.I want to know what happened to the car.This ship has no car in the Royal Promenade.Both ushers acknowledge this but also admit they didn't realize it.The Captain simply states that this ship never had a car.So I state that it has a motorcycle.He is confused by the statement until he realizes I am referring to his motorcycle.For those of you who do not know, Captain Johnny has his own motorcycle on board.
After that I head out onto deck four to check out the position of the sun.It is still up, but with no clouds in the sky there is not going to be much of a sunset, and there isn't.However, I do meet up with some friend, one of whom is in a wheelchair.Some how we begin to talk about the bow and I mention I know a way that they can get there.I then show them the secrete passage to the bow that even a wheel chair can use.
After that we get seats for the production show.I like high energy shows and for the most part this is.However, there are some slow parts too.Nonetheless, it is a good show.
By then it is and I'm getting tired.So I head back to the cabin to prepare for tomorrow, upload my photos and of course sit out on the balcony and work on this.So now that I'm done, it is time to say good night.See you in Cabo tomorrow.
Day three - Cabo San Lucas
Well it is a cloudy morning again, so no sunrise photos - again.I have my best camera with me and so far all I have is two photos of a setting sun that quite frankly are just taking up space on the hard drive.We are two hours and fifteen minutes from our scheduled arrival time, moving at about 20 knots (23 MPH) and we are about 34 nautical miles (about 39 miles) from Cabo.
The plan for this morning is to shower and get ready for the shore excursion that begins at .Then get breakfast and enjoy another breakfast out on the balcony.Then I'll wait until about 10:30am before grabbing a tender to shore.That will give me time to pick up a few trinkets and join my tour.There will not be much time for shopping after the tour.Then tonight I'm dining at Chops.
Well, it is , I am already to go and the sun is now coming out.We are still moving at more than 19 knots and we have about 13 nautical miles to go.I decide to go down to the guest relations and have my tips transferred to my on board account.SLAM!Oops, it is nice and cool outside and I left the balcony door open, which resulted in the entry door closing very rapidly behind me.
Well it is and it is too bright on the balcony for me to see my laptop's screen.We are now moving at just over 18 knots, and headed due west.So we are close.I note the wind has picked up a lot, from 14 MPH earlier this morning to 28 MPH now.The ship is handling it very well.I noted very little sloshing of the water in the pool yesterday, less than the other three ships (all Panamax ships) that I have been on on this route.I'm going to play Civilization (my favorite computer game) for a while, and then grab my camera and hope to get some good pictures of El Arco.Be back at you when I return from Cabo.
Well I'm back and the good people of Cabo were very happy to see us.We are the first ship to return to Cabo (the Carnival Splendor will arrive on Friday).As we pulled in I took several photographs of El Arco.Good thing I did, because the ship pulled so far forward that El Arch was no longer visible from the ship.This is my fourth time here via cruise ship and the first time I could not photograph El Arco from the ship once it stopped.
The tendering process worked very well.Cabo brings in a floating dock and it allows two tenders to tie up at the same time.In addition one more tender can tie up at the forward tender platform, so three tenders can take people at one time.That took half of the pain out of tendering.I left my cabin at and made the tender.There are no tender tickets, you just get in line.
At any rate I left my cabin I arrived at the tender pier around .They were checking for food being taken off the ship and I saw that they had confiscated quite a bit.I only had my camera and water, both perfectly legal.
I did some quick souvenir shopping and then got in line for the Coastal Highlights Tour.
The first stop was a glass blowing factory.They made a turtle in about five minutes.Then we could buy any of the hand made items in the gift shop.I picked up a couple of martini glasses for my sister & brother-in-law for about $6.50 each.This stop was quite interesting (beat the ceramic tile shop in PV in 2008).Getting the martini glasses home will be no problem, I drove.However, I still have to figure out how to get the glasses to Texas, where my sister and brother-in-law are.The martini glasses are as fragile as glass and I am flying to Texas.
Next we drove north along the east coast of Baja California to the Sunset Da Giorgio Restaurant.The restaurant has some great views of the bay, El Arco and the ship.We were also able to get a cold drink, which was included in the cost of the tour.
Then we drove north some more to San Jose del Cabo, which is slightly smaller than Cabo San Lucas.This was our shopping stop.I picked a few trinkets and also picked up a heart attack.Though this is a coastal city, it was not receiving the same cooling breeze that Cabo San Lucas was receiving.As a result it was HOT.So I decided to have a milk shake.First they did not understand shake.However, they did understand milk shake.When I asked the price I was told $65.I asked if that was Pesos or dollars.With an exchange rate of 13 to one, that would come to $5.00, a fair price for a milk shake.No, it was dollars.I don't have $65 on me, and they don't take credit cards.Then I thought who pays $65 for a milk shake???Thinking they must mean Pesos I pull out a $5.00.It is not enough.I think about this for a couple of seconds and realize they must mean $6.50 (not $65.00).I'm hot and thirsty, but I'm not that hot and thirsty.So I pull out a $10.This works.They ring the $10 up as $100 and my change ends up being $35.They give me three US dollars and 5 Pesos (about 50¢).I tell the tour guide that she has to explain to these two girls that there is a big difference between $65.00 and $6.50.
Our last stop is Cacti Mundo, a cactus garden.It is not that interesting and it is hot.EVERYONE was back on the bus early.On the way back the driver stopped at a spot where we could get some more pictures of El Arco and the ship.
Once back I decide to head back to the ship.Once on board I decide to take a quick dip in the pool, then attend the Welcome Back party (for those who have cruised with Royal Caribbean before), and then end the day with a Chops dinner with friends.
The pool was very refreshing.However, there was one surprise.It has never happened to me before.Yesterday I almost got jumped on.Today I had some kid surface underneath me.Well, he tried to surface.Fortunately I was not kicking (I was only using my arms), so he didn't end up with a headache.I asked the boy (I would guess he was about nine or ten) if he was okay and he was fine.There was woman sitting on the edge who saw the whole thing, and her expression indicated that she did not approve of the boy's actions.However, she said nothing to the boy, so it wasn't her son.As I watched I saw that he was diving in.No wonder I never saw him.He was probably standing on the edge when I looked, and would have covered the distance to me in about two seconds.
Now cool and feeling much better, I got out and got ready for the welcome back party and then Chops.The most cruised person on the ship had 50 cruises, including the three original Royal Caribbean ships.
We got to ask questions and I asked the Captain why the Mariner never had a car.The Captain apparently didn't recognize me from the prior night with a similar question.Also, many didn't understand the question and the Captain had to explain the question.The bottom line is, he doesn't know.The Mariner got a wine press and the rest of the Voyager class ships got a car.
One person asked the Captain about the Mariner doing a few cruises to Canada during the summer in 2010.The Captain says that there is nothing official yet.The next person then goes into a long comment about not wanting to fly, and leading to the conclusion that the Mariner should try a few northern routes next year.The problem, this was a question and answer session and this person was not asking a question, but rather making a comment, which ended up taking up the rest of the Captain's time.That is what the comment cards are for.
After that it was time for dinner.As it turns out my tablemates and I independently book Chops on the same date and time, so we all shared a table.We had a waiter and a waitress.The waiter showed us examples of the steaks and said that they all come from the Midwest.The first cut was a New York strip.I said that New York was not in the Midwest.He started to explain that that was just the name of the cut when the others at the table told him to ignore me.We all had a good laugh and our waitress even remarked how much she enjoyed our sense of humor.
The only problem with dinner was that I could see out of the window, and there was a sunset worth taking pictures of.Unfortunately, I was eating.Even if I wanted to hop up and take a few pictures through the window I could not have.Between the repeater's party and dinner I stopped at the cabin to upload my pictures and forgot to put a memory card back in my travel camera (which is the one that fits in my pocket - still a good camera however) so I didn't have any film in the camera when the sun set.
After dinner I picked up my pictures from formal night and then it was out to the balcony to work on this.Unfortunately we are far enough south now that it is too warm to leave my balcony door open.
Well I have early tours the next two days, so it is time to hit the hay.Good night.See you tomorrow.
Day four - Mazatlan
Well I'm up in time.However, once again the cloud cover is too thick, so no sunrise pictures this morning.The ship's status channel (channel 40) only tells us the total distance traveled, but not how far we have to go.We are headed east at 14 knots and scheduled to arrive in about 75 minutes.So I can only assume we are on time.
Before I know it I see a pilot boat outside.We are rather early.The Carnival Splendor, if it went south this week, is in PV.So we are the first ship to come back to Mazatlan, and boy are they glad to see us.There is a huge WELCOME BACK sign and a Navy band.
I forgot something important about cameras stored in a cold cabin and humid climates.I like the room cold.I have the AC set as low as it will go.However, Mazatlan is warm and humid (even at ).The result is a fogged up lens, and my camera refuses to take a picture.So I have to grab my travel camera which is not as cold and apparently not as fussy.After a few minutes my DSLR is no longer fogged up and is now willing to record the pictures I want to take.
Mazatlan is a commercial container port.So the passengers take a little tram to the cruise ship terminal.These trams run all the time, so when one leaves the next one is already there to take its place.However, for my Stone Island Beach Getaway it is a short walk to the boat for a quick trip across the harbor to StoneIsland.
The trip across the harbor allows for some great photos of the ship.Unfortunately I am using my waterproof camera which while very good, is not as good as either my DSLR or my travel camera.However, since it is raining and I plan to take it into the water with me, it is my only sensible choice.
From there we board a trailer to be pulled by a tractor to the other side of the island were there is a restaurant and a very nice beach.The beach offers kayaking, ATVs, sand castle building, volleyball and banana boat rides.There are also plenty of places to sit in the shade or lay in the sun in a hammock (or in my case lay in the rain - I'm already wet, so I don't care).
Even though it was raining, the day was a lot of fun.The water was warm and once you are up to your waist in the ocean, who cares if it is raining?A lunch featuring chicken, fish, chips, meatless tacos and drinks is included.
After lunch there is a piñata for the kids, and then it is time to return.Since it is still raining and I am already soaked, I figure it would be better to get the necessary trinkets now (I've been to PV and Cabo three prior times, but this is only my second visit to Mazatlan).
Then it is back to the ship for a warm shower and I work on this.It is still before and I decide that I'll just rest until we are ready to leave.At five I look out the window and we have not moved.At I look out the window and where did the dock go?I thought I missed a warm good-bye, but my friends tell me I didn't.The Carnival Splendor should have been in PV today.However, my friends tell me it was unable to dock due to the weather.I guess all those people who moved from the earlier cruises to this one so that would not end up in rainy Seattle are really happy.We may end up being the first ship to return to PV also.I guess that would be a cruising hat trick.
After dinner I head up to deck twelve for some sunset photos.It looked promising, but it was not to be.Still, the sunset photos I got today are better than the sunset photos I got earlier in the week.Since I was out and about, and there was still some blue in the sky, I took several night scene photos of the ship with a nice deep blue sky in the background.So at least it was not a total loss.
There is an ice show today at .Apparently this is a very popular day and time, as there are two long lines 30 minutes before show time.I walked in on my ice show about twenty minutes prior to the show and ended up with a prime seat, as did many who came after me.
Well, it is time to upload the photos and then hit the hay.I've got an early and long shore excursion tomorrow.This is the reason I brought my travel camera, as I don't want to lug the big DSLR around all day tomorrow.
Day five – Puerto Vallarta
Well, today didn’t start out too well, but it got a lot better.First it was cloudy in the morning, so once again, no sunrise photos.So I head out to the bow to take some photos as we pull into PV.We pull straight into the port and docked, so the starboard side of the ship was against the dock.Still, I was on the best side two out of three times (I was facing El Arco in Cabo and I was facing the dock in Mazatlan).However, I think in the future Royal Caribbean is looking into turning the ship inside the Puerto Vallarta harbor prior to docking, as I’ll explain later.
Next I was five minutes early to the shore excursion.However, we left twenty minutes late.I don’t mind walking or sitting, but I don’t like standing, so I was not a happy camper.However, after that things started to improve.
We were headed to San Sebastian which was once a thriving silver mining town.That was when there were 28 working mines.Now there is only one, so it is now a small village out in the middle of nowhere.It takes an hour to get there.One of the nice things about it is that it has not been commercialized yet.For example, I could not find any key rings in any of the stores.Also, the people there are not as fluent in English as the people in the tourist areas of PV are.
First we visited a small working coffee plantation.I bought a couple of bags for my sister and brother-in-law.Then we spend 45 minutes touring the town, including the only silversmith (a small family owned business).Then we had a fairly good lunch at one of the local restaurants.The last stop was a tour of a small Tequila factory (which included free samples of course).Then it was time to return to the ship.
We still had more than 2 ½ hours until we had to be on board, and I knew from prior visits that there was a Del Sol store at the dock.I picked up some color changing shirts and nail polish (all gifts for the kids I'm going to visit soon) and a couple of belts and a hat for me.Then I headed back to the ship to drop everything off.I had my water bottle with me and security was very interested in it.I told them it was water and that they could spill it out in the plants if they wanted to.They went as far as to open it and smell it to make sure I was not trying to smuggle Tequila onto the ship (if I was going to try and smuggle Tequila, I would have put it in a Kahula bottle – ha ha).
I wanted to take some pictures of the ship, so I switched cameras and went back down.Photographing the ship was no problem, as long as I did so from outside the fence. Well, that put some trees between the ship and I, which resulted in a rather long walk (just for a picture) to get clear of the trees.Unlike yesterday, the sun was shinning, and I was hot (also I confirmed that the Carnival Splendor did in fact skip PV yesterday, which makes us the first ones back at all three ports).I was hot, and the bars in the fence were not wide enough for my camera lens.I could have gone back for my travel camera which has a smaller lens, but it was too hot and I was too tired to make another round trip.
Back it the cabin it was time to change into my bathing suit and hit the pool.The pool was a little warmer than last time because the water we are floating in is warmer.Still, it was refreshing, which is just what I needed.I am having dinner at Portofino tonight at , compliments of my agent, so I am in no rush.However, I do want to get some sunset pictures, so I have to be ready before sunset.
Well, Captain Johnny has a little surprise for us this evening.He is going to spin the ship in the harbor to see how things work out.Prior to this cruise it was always dark in the evening (the Mariner's first Mexican Riviera cruise was in February, and the last one prior to this was in early April), so they just backed the ship out.I can only assume that since the spin worked out so well, that in the future Royal Caribbean will bring the ship in as it normally does, and then spin it in the harbor (which it is still light outside), like Carnival, Princess and even Royal Caribbean did with the Vision of the Seas.Then, in the winter time they can just pull out going forward in the dark, instead of trying to back it up in the dark.
The Captain also informed us that it is 1,111 nautical miles (about 1,278 land miles) back to San Pedro, making the total trip length 2,312 nautical miles (about 2,659 land miles).
After that I was able to get some very good sunset photos and several night scenes with a deep blue, yellow and red sky.And thanks to the almost limitless film I have, along with a camera that recycles fast, I was able to take about 175 sunset & night scene photos (hey, if I had to wait five nights to get a good sunset, I was going to make sure I got it).
Then it was off to Portofino for a very good dinner (though I thought Chops was better).Apparently since it was complimentary, there was nothing for me to sign, and I didn’t have my wallet with me.So I went back to the cabin to get some cash to give the waitress as an extra tip (even though there is a tip included in the price of the meal).
Next I went over to the $10 table to see what was being offered.I figured for $10 how wrong could I go?I picked up a couple of belts and a watch for me and necklace & matching earnings for a young girl I hope to see when I visit my sister and brother-in-law soon.I also decided to pick up a liter of Kahula (for only $15) for yours truly.This may be the first time I have not bought any ship t-shirts (I have too many as it is).
Then I decided to try a glass of Johnny Walker Blue Label.There are a lot of firsts I have tried on different cruises.So I figured, why not one more.If you are not familiar with this whiskey, Johnny Walker Blue Label is very expensive.I’m not going to pay $300 to $400 for a bottle, so I thought I would try a glass (which was actually a double shot).That cost $21.75 plus tip (which is about what a bottle of Johnny Walker Red Label costs).A glass of Johnny Walker Black Label (which is better than the Red Label) is only $5.75 plus tip.
After that it was back to the cabin and out to the balcony to upload my pictures (already over 1500 and over 5.8 gigabytes) and work on this (I enjoy doing this on the balcony at night because it is so quiet and peaceful).Then next we have two days at sea, which means nothing but relaxing.So until tomorrow – good night.
Day six – day at sea
I woke up and looked outside and it looked overcast – again.Since I have to leave the cabin to get a sunrise photo (my cabin now faces west) I not going to do so unless there is a reasonable chance of getting the photo.So, I just stay in the cabin.
I don’t normally eat breakfast and since I forgot to eat at Johnny Rockets on the Voyager (about ten weeks ago) I’ve decided to skip breakfast and have brunch at Johnny Rockets.Then I realize I have to clear the cabin so the cabin steward can get his work done.So about I go out to see if I can see Cabo. I forgot what time the Captain said we would pass by Cabo (we passed Cabo a little after 11:00am).Next time I’m going to note Cabo’s latitude and longitude so I can look at the TV to tell when we are getting close.After an hour I give up and decide to take some more pictures.I also note that Johnny Rockets does not open until , so, instead of brunch, I’m going to have lunch.
I am surprised at how dead the ship is.It is after and the Royal Promenade is empty.The sundeck chairs are empty (only one is being saved).I head back to my cabin only to discover that the cabin steward is in it.Oh well, I already planned for this.I head out to the bow to see if I can find Cabo.On the way there and back I take more pictures.
So now it is close to when I return to the cabin.First I check the TV and we are on the same WNW course, so we have not reached Cabo yet.I figure most likely we will pass Cabo around .
So then it is out to the balcony to upload the photos and work on this.I’m not going to let some prime time shaded balcony time go to waste.For the rest of the day I plan to take photos at the open session of ice skating until lunch time.
In the afternoon I’ll swim (being a nice sunny sea day, I’ll probably be the only one in the pool) and then I’ll get ready for the second formal night.After that is the C&A platinum plus party.
Well, I got my open ice skating session pictures.Then I went to Johnny Rockets for lunch and was met by two surprises.First the nice sunny day had turned into a very cloudy day, something that can happen when you are changing your location at the constant rate of nineteen knots (about 22 MPH).Second, three of my friends had just walked out of Johnny Rockets.They are first in line for the next booth, and fortunately for me, the booths hold four people.
We shared the news of things we would have talked about had we had dinner together last night.Afterward swimming didn’t seem like such a hot idea any more, mainly because it was no longer hot outside.I had pushed myself fairly hard for the last two days, and had less than six hours of sleep.So a nice nap and entering the receipts into the computer seemed like better ideas than swimming (which I can do at home anytime I want).I use the information to one, make sure my on board account is correct and two, fill out the customs form on the last day.
Tonight’s dinner is the last formal night.We share some stories and enjoy a very good dinner.After dinner is the C&A platinum plus reception.Nothing really special, but it was nice.Nothing really exciting going on tonight, so I have my picture taken in front of a picture of the Mariner.Royal Caribbean is doing something interesting with the pictures.They scan the room key once, and then you can see all your pictures by swiping your room key.Since they only scan the card once, yet all the pictures show up, Royal Caribbean must be using face recognition software.
It was a very relaxing day at sea.I’ll see you tomorrow.
Day seven – day at sea
I woke up, looked outside and it was clear.Clear skies don’t make for the best of sunrise photos, but at least the sun is visible.I checked the Compass and it said sunrise was at .My watch said it was .However, even though my balcony now faces west, I could tell the sun had not risen yet.So I hurried up to deck twelve and waited, and waited, and waited.Something was not adding up.Then it occurred to me that this being the last day would require that we set out clocks back.So now, instead of it being , it was only .In case you are interested, the ship is pretty much dead at in the morning.Finally, and on time, the sun came up.I took about 60 pictures, as it might be the only sunrise I see on this trip.
Once the sun got high enough that it was no longer a sunrise, I when back to the cabin to shower and dress.I decided to eat breakfast in the dining room this morning so I could take pictures of the dining room.Then I went to the Windjammer to check for more photo opportunities.There were none, but I did run into a couple of friends and we talked until it was time for the Captain’s Corner.This is where five senior staff, including the Captain, are available to answer questions.
The Captain now had a stage (literally – the Captain’s Corner was held in The Savoy Theater) for showing off his wonderful sense of humor.One young boy, about sixteen years old, showed an interest in the technical aspects of the ship.The Captain met with him afterwards and put the boy in touch with one of the cadets on the ship.I must say, I have been very impressed with Captain Johnny.I asked the Captain about where the ship would be dry docked.He said that has not been decided yet.
Meanwhile the clouds have moved in.It is cool enough for me to be sitting out on my balcony, working on this, with the balcony door open.The Captain just gave his time announcement.The sea temperature is 57 degrees, the air temperature is 64 degrees and the pool temperature is 75 degrees.
I haven’t decided what to do with the afternoon yet.If I go swimming then I’ll have to pack a wet bathing suit later today.So I’ll go up on deck, look around, and then decide.
Well, I decided on lunch on the balcony (from the Windjammer) followed by a short soak in the hot tub and then I’ll start packing.Thanks to the use synthetics and the in cabin hair dryer, I didn't have to pack a wet bathing suit.
That hour long soak in the warm tub felt good.I didn’t get too far into the packing when I suddenly noticed it was close to dinner time.I ran down to guest relations to get some tape so I could tape the room steward’s envelope to the mirror where I know he will see it.
Then it is off to dinner to say our good-byes.While the dining room staff attempts to make it an upbeat occasion, I never see it that way.After dinner I head back to my balcony in the hope that I’ll get a good sunset shot.It looks promising, as there are some clouds in the sky.But unfortunately there were many clouds on the horizon and the sunset was barely worth the space it is taking up on the hard drive.
Then it was time for the last show.It was upbeat up beat show, but when it was over I had to go back to my cabin and finish packing.I brought an extra bag in case I bought enough souvenirs that it would not fit in the one suitcase I brought with me.It turns out I need that extra bag.Good thing I’m not flying because I am sure my suitcase weighs more than fifty pounds.
Well, it is almost , and there is nothing good on TV, so it is off to bed.See you in the morning.
Day eight – disembarkation
Well, I slept with the balcony door open last night.Thus I was awakened by the barking of the seals just before we entered the harbor.Again we arrived right on time.Once inside the harbor we spun 180 degrees and backed up to the loading dock.Well, for us it is an unloading dock, but about six hours later it will become a loading dock.
I was up at the Windjammer about for a quick lunch.Then back to the cabin to get my camera for a few more pictures.I took over 1900 photographs which take up over 7GB of storage.Thus, thanks to my new camera, I took more photographs than I did on my two week Panama Canal cruise.
On the way back to my cabin I ran into two of my friends.I cruised with them for the first time on the Voyager of the Seas in April of this year and thus this is only my second cruise with them.I have two more cruises booked, in July 2010 on the Caribbean Princess and in April 2011 back on the Mariner of the Seas.I am sure we will plan other cruises together again.Unfortunately my friends are not on either of these two cruises.Perhaps in April 2011 I’ll bring a different toy with me (an underwater scooter - rather than the DSLR).
At any rate it was good to cruise with new friends and I really enjoyed this cruise.My hope is that by reading this review you will get some idea of what it is like to take a cruise on the Mariner of the Seas.Of course it is through the eyes of one person who you most likely have never met.Therefore, it is up to the you to decide how relevant my likes and tastes are to yours.
I hope that Royal Caribbean will consider offering cruises to San Francisco and Victoria during the summer in the future.It will not only offer an alternative route out of Los Angeles, it will also allow some people (perhaps including me) a chance to take a back to back cruise out of Los Angeles without repeating the same old three ports.
Well, it is and soon I will depart the ship.I decided to stay in my cabin and play on the computer until my color is called.It is a good plan because I can hear all the announcements through the room speaker (which is under the desk).However, around 9:45 I realize I have not heard any colors called.Then I heard an important announcement, through the speaker in the room.All the colors have been called, so everyone is expected to get off the ship.Okay, so my plan had one small problem with it, the colors are not announced through the room speaker (and neither are the daily announcements about where you can spend your money next).It is not really a big deal though, since I had the second to last color to be called. In fact, I made it home before 11:30am.
In one week I have a land vacation planned.Then it will be about one year until cruise number fifteen, my first on Princess.
I have taken a lot of pictures and it will take me months to put together a photo album with all the photos.I’ll get the photo album started before I submit the review, and post the photo album’s address below.However, don’t expect the photo album to be anywhere near complete until after Labor Day, 2009.However, I will be adding to the album constantly until finished.So you can keep checking back to see if there are any new pictures - if you are interested.I’ll probably work on one day at a time.I will not upload all 1900 photos, but I will try and give you a good idea of what the ship and ports look like.
As of noon on Sunday, June 28, 2009 there are two photos in the album.One of the Mariner docked in San Pedro and one of the Mariner headed down the channel to the open sea.I'll add more photographs as I have time, until I've posted all that I am going to post (a number which I suspect will exceed 200 out of the over 1900 I took).