Getting to the just of this trip. We booked a 7 night cruise to the Mexican Riviera but the Swine Flu halted that one. RCCL was actually better to us than the cruises before and after us. They allowed us to cancel without penalty, or take a $250 OBC + a $250 FCC on our next Mex Riv cruise. Unfortunately for RCCL, they had to drop the room prices so drastically by giving Senior or Residency rates that we actually were above to save more than $500 by asking for a new rate. We already had a large OBC so we were in good shape. Packing was our only problem. Gone were the shorts and on came the sweaters.
We love the Mariner and this trip was no different. We were lucky enough to have Captain Johnny and Cruise Director Ken Rush on this cruise. Although the weather was cold the first 5 days, we still had a great time doing all the indoor things with the many friends we had made through the Mix and Mingle group we chatted with on the CC boards. Our group did a cabin crawl, a pub crawl along with a poker run, we had a pre boarding party at a nice land Restaurant in LA, we had a "get leid" party in Schooner's before the Muster and a nice Sail away party at the Sky Bar. We also had one great "Slot Pull" that had half the casino rooting for us. We doubled our money - that's $9 the hard way.
The food as always was great. We enjoyed breakfast, although a little more crowded than usual due to cool weather, in the Windjammer. We lunch and dinner every day in the dining room. We even cut our excursions short so we don't miss our early dinner time. I love to order a side of the daily pasta with marinara sauce with each dinner. I watched a couple of our table mates, all Cruise Critic M&M pals, order all appetizer dinners on one nite.
Our PR room was a lot smaller than I was ready for, being we had balcony rooms in the past. I loved the window seat and view of the promenade but having the bed in the middle of this room made it cramped. All in all, it was still a good value cabin for the money we spent and I'd do it again if I was on limited funds... especially if I had a warm weather destination. The PR became tight mostly because we spent more time in it due to unavailablity (or undesirability) of the pool area for lounging... even the library was full the first 5 days while sailing.
Now, 5/6 months before this cruise we cruised the Mariner out of Canaveral (nice port) and so we saw all the same RCCL shows we had before. But, we loved the shows which seemed to change based on the fact that we had Ken and now Drew this time (Drew is a very good Cruise Director, too.) The booked entertainers were different and that was enough to make the cruise different, not that it had to be.
We love meeting new friends and enjoying a nice time on board, dancing and listening to the music, relaxing and eating (IMHO) fine food. We didn't like having to go to the COLD Northwest but we still loved being onboard this ship.. she is glorious regardless of the destination.
Astoria, Oregon: RCCL and Astoria were not ready for this ship. One gang plank in the middle of the ship. It took hours to get everyone off. They had a nice little flea market just off ship. We disembarked last, did the flea market in the cold and rain and jumped back on before the lines to re-board got long. We watched those lines get long as we dined. I'm betting this was a nice pier, too.