Mariner of the Seas Cruise Review by Suedonim: First family cruise - Eastern Med and Holy Land
Overall Member Rating
First family cruise - Eastern Med and Holy Land
Destination: Europe - Eastern Mediterranean
Embarkation: Rome (Civitavecchia)
Travelling with my parents and children aged 8 & 10, we set off for our first cruise. My parents had booked separately from us so had different flights and did their own transfers (Romecabs - very smooth). We booked air with RCI and had flights with BA from London (very generous on hand luggage allowance - no weight restriction, 2 bags one of which is suit carrier sized, the other being a small rucksack plus 23kg check in luggage). Although there were plenty of RCI staff at the airport, the process of transferring to the coach and in particular waiting for everyone to produce their coach vouchers was a tedious one, and despite landing at the same time as my parents it took an extra hour to get to the port.
Check in at the port seemed very straightforward - small queue for the xray but plenty of check in staff so no queue there. The boys got wristbands as soon as they stepped on. We went for a quick explore of the ship, bumping into my parents. Rooms were quickly More available (about 1:30?), and we checked dining rooms etc out.
Pleased with the storage space in our stateroom. Downside of it being a connecting stateroom meant that there was no sofa, just a single chair, so seating was very limited. Our boys were in a PR across the corridor and they had a window seat and a sofa, so more seating! But less drawer space. Balcony was nice enough but probably unnecessary on this trip - too much time in port and it wasn't really warm enough to sit out in the evenings.
Kids: Only about 30 or so primary age kids on this cruise as it was early for most schools, but the boys loved Adventure Ocean. Sessions usually ran 9-12, 2-5 and 7-10 each day but on port days the club opened when the ship docked and stayed open until 5 or "All aboard" whichever was later. Although My family Time dining was advertised for this cruise, it was not available. We went for My Time Dining but in practice the maitre D was trying to get us to eat as early as possible (which in the end suited, but just to warn anyone else - no chance of say getting a 7:45 table each night). Nightly shows were 7:30 and 9:30 which meant that the only way to get in dinner and a show before the kids finished was to eat at 6 and try to get to the 7:30. The AO program seemed good, and both the boys declared this to be their best holiday ever. Even though AO was situated through the video arcade neither boys used more than $10 over the 13 nights. Under 11s are not allowed int he lifts without an adult so we did have to leave dinner to get them to club.
Food: The quality was OK rather than good. Chops and Portofinos were far better quality though our server in Portofinos seemed to want to choose our meal for us, and failed to inform us of the meals which were not available. Service in Main Dining room was great with nice attention to detail.
The Itinerary for this cruise is fantastic - so much to see and do. As it happens my children had an early Easter school holiday, but I wouldn't have had any qualms about taking the out of schools for this one!
The entertainment was good - we saw several of the shows, enjoyed the ice show, love and marriage and the Quest, as well as some of the trivia games.
We'd definitely cruise again, and would probably do so again with RCCL, though would budget for Chops and Portofinos next time.
Messina Sicily: Via our rollcall we did a tour to Etna and Taormina with Sicily Life. The drive to Etna was voer 2 hours along some fairly windy roads, with a comfort stop at a shop selling honey and olive oil (with loads of samples!) We didn't get right to the top of Etna but there was snow/ice on the ground! Then to Taormina where we stopped for Pizza and then went to see the Greek theatre - fabulously sited with great views. Only thing that I would have preferred to know is that we wouldn't stop for lunch until 2:30 (from an 8am start!)
Ashdod: We were with Moti Barness from Guided Tours Israel. Very entertaining guide he gave us plenty of history on our drive to Jerusalem. We saw the city formt he Mount of Olives and then drove thorough the Judean desert to the Dead Sea stopping to see St George's monastery and fitting in a camel ride. Very weird to float in the Dead Sea! Then back to Jerusalem for a walk through the Old City, including the Wailing Wall, the Via Dolorosa and of course the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.
Ephesus: Through our rollcall we shared a tour with Hello Ephesus taking in the Basilica, Temple of Artemis, The house of the Virgin Mary, the Museum and The terrace Houses. Our guide was very good. The tour did include a tour of a rug making co-operative including some heavy sell, but they still gave us lunch even though no-one purchased. We missed the terrace houses due to a torrential rainstorm. Although we brought Turkish Lira there seemed to be no problem in using Euros in most places that I saw. Less
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Cabin review: E17554 Deluxe Oceanview Stateroom with Balcony
Pleased with the storage space in our stateroom. Downside of it being a connecting stateroom meant that there was no sofa, just a single chair, so seating was very limited.Read All Deluxe Oceanview Stateroom with Balcony (E1) Reviews >>
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