Mariner of the Seas Cruise Review by Noreen411
- Sail Date: March 2009
- Destination: Mexican Riviera
WHO ARE WE?
Noreen - 40 years old; Senior Vice President at an Investment Banking Firm in New York City. I will be the author of the report.
Paul - my husband; 40 years old; former small Business Owner. Paul is currently managing a small business that someone else owns.
Kelly - A fellow Disney trip report writer. We became friends through email and were brought together because of our love of Disney. We met in person once before when our trips overlapped at Disney World in Florida. He lives in California
Samantha (Sam) - A childhood friend of Paul's from elementary school in Brooklyn, NY. She lives in California.
Scott - Sam's husband. The first time either of us will meet him.
Paul and I haven't been to Disney Land in California since 2002 and have been talking about making a trip out there. We have also been looking at the Mexican Riviera cruises. We were leery of taking one of the older Royal Caribbean ships that historically were doing that cruise, but when we heard that the Mariner of the Seas was going west and taking over the Mexican Riviera cruises we started to seriously look into it.
We figured we could combine Disney Land for a few days with the cruise.
Planning the Cruise:
We had a Next Cruise booking certificate so used this to book the Mariner cruise to the Mexican Riviera. I called on April 30, 2008 to book the cruise. I wanted to try a "hump" cabin this time. I also saw that there were Crown and Anchor Savings Certificates for the March 22, 2009 sailing. I didn't want to do the first sailing of this itinerary with the logic that if there were any kinks they would be worked out after a few runs. I booked cabin #7318 (an E2 balcony on the center of the hump). The cost was $1,049 per person. The person I spoke with was really good - he took care of applying both my Platinum balcony discount of $100 and the Crown and Anchor coupon of $150. Since we had already left a $200 deposit via Next Cruise, we had to leave the balance of the deposit $300 when we chose the ship. At the time of booking, I was platinum, but by the time we sail I will be Diamond so he said I can just call back and I will get the additional amount off.
On July 9, 2008 during my usual morning check of the prices at work, I noticed that the E2's have gone down to $959 a person. I tried calling but it was about 8am and I received a message that Royal Caribbean doesn't open until 10am. Of course, I am panicking thinking that the price will go up in the next two hours. But a co-worker of mine reassured me that they aren't open yet, who is going to update the prices? I called at 10am and spoke to a very helpful person at Royal Caribbean. I told him that I saw a lower price on line for my cabin category and he asked my booking number and said OK you are all set and I'll get a new confirmation in a few minutes. Wow, it was so quick and easy. A quick call and I saved $180 ($90 per person).
On September 26, 2008 during a price check, I noticed that the E2's have gone down again, now at $909 a person. I called and very quickly was given the new price. A quick call and I saved $100 ($50 per person).
On October 7, 2008 I called to have my balcony discount changed from Platinum ($100 off) to Diamond ($200 off)
On February 9, 2009 I received my cruise documents when I got home from work. It is very exciting to see that package in the mailbox.
Planning Disney Land:
We have been trying to figure out how best to spend our time at Disney Land. The original plan was to fly to California on Saturday 3/21 (the day before the cruise), cruise from Sunday 3/22 - Sunday 3/29, and then spend Sunday 3/29 - Friday 4/3 at Disney Land and other California attractions.
Paul is a bit worried about leaving the business for two weeks. One option is to keep our original plan but have him fly home a few days before me and I can spend the last few days at DisneyLand without him, hopefully if this ends up being the plan, Kelly will be able to spend some extra time with me. The other plan is to switch things around and fly to California on Wednesday 3/18, spend Wednesday 3/18 - Sunday 3/22 seeing Disney Land and other California attractions, then board the ship Sunday 3/22 - Sunday 3/29; flying home on Sunday 3/29. Aside from the work aspect, Paul also preferred this option, thinking that running around Disney Land and California would be tiring so it would be nice to get on the ship where you have those days at Sea where you don't have to do as much and he thought it would be more relaxing.
On February 4, 2009 while eating dinner we were talking about the dates again and realized it's not that far away. We really need to decide one way or the other so we can book the flights, hotel, etc. We decided to do the Disney Land portion of the trip first so on February 5, 2009 I got busy booking the hotel, flights, and buying Disney Land passes.
Our final itinerary is as follows:
Wednesday 3/18/09 - Fly to California; Disney Land; dinner with Kelly at Cafe Orleans
Thursday 3/19/09 - Disney Land/Other attractions; dinner with Sam and her husband in Santa Monica
Friday 3/20/09 - Disney Land/Other attractions
Saturday 3/21/09 - Disney Land /Other attractions
The Mariner Itinerary is as follows:
Sunday 3/22/09 - Leave from San Pedro (near Los Angeles)
Monday 3/23/09 - At Sea
Tuesday 3/24/09 - Cabo San Lucas
Wednesday 3/25/09 - Mazatlan
Thursday 3/26/09 - Puerto Vallarta
Friday 3/27/09 - At Sea
Saturday 3/28/09 - At Sea
Sunday 3/29/09 - Return to San Pedro and fly home from Los Angeles
Planning Dining (during the Disney Land portion):
On February 6, 2009 I booked dinner for 3/18 at Cafe Orleans at 7:30. They don't give you a confirmation number, we just check in with my name.
On February 24, 2009 I booked lunch for 3/19 at Carnation Cafe at 1:20pm.
We booked our flights on 2/5/09. We are flying on Continental Airlines out of Newark. Wednesday 3/18/09 leaving Newark at 8:40am and landing in LAX at 12:10pm. Coming home Sunday 9/29/09 leaving LAX at 1:05pm and landing in Newark at 9:32pm. It was $278 per person round trip. With tax it came to $598.40.
I booked a rental car for the one night pre-cruise. Pick up and drop off at LAX for about $40. I'm still debating if the rental car is needed for the one night. If we take a shuttle or cab to San Pedro and just need transportation to the pier in the morning, most of the hotels offer shuttles or we can take a cab. We like the flexibility of a car to just wander around and see what's there. I looked into rentals that were picked up in LAX and dropped off in San Pedro but that made the cost almost double. I'm thinking if we do rent the car for this one night, Paul can drop me off at the cruise terminal with the luggage, then he can drop the car back at LAX and take a SuperShuttle or Cab back. Or maybe I'll just take the ride with him.
I booked a rental car for our post cruise Disney Land trip. Pick up and drop off at LAX for about $200 for Sunday through Friday.
I booked a rental car for a pre-cruise Disney Land stay $240 for Wednesday 3/18 - Sunday 3/22 at LAX
I called Enterprise since they do one way rentals. Picking up at LAX and dropping off in San Pedro for a full size car is $335.27 including taxes, fees, and a $25 drop fee for a different location for the pre-cruise portion Wednesday 3/18 - Sunday 3/22. I made this reservation too. It's about $95 more than the rental out of and returning to LAX but it will save the shuttle fee (maybe $35) and the time spent going back and forth. So it will cost maybe $60 more. The rental office in San Pedro closes at noon on Sunday, but they have a drop box to leave the keys in and a place to park the car if you get there after noon.
Once our flights were booked and plans finalized, I cancelled the rental cars I would not need.
We will probably do either SuperShuttle or a cab back to the airport when we get off the ship and need to catch our flight home.
On 3/2/09 I booked a one way SuperShuttle trip for the two of us from the pier to LAX after the cruise. The cost normally is $34 (for 2 people) but I was told with AAA I get $4 off so a total of $30. We will pay cash when we get on the shuttle. They gave me a confirmation number and the woman said to just check in with the coordinator at the center island by the parking lot and they wear blue.
Lodging (other than the cruise)
When we were planning to do Disney Land after cruise, I was looking into a hotel for the pre-cruise night as well as a hotel for the Disney Land portion of the vacation. I was debating between Crowne Plaza and Double Tree in San Pedro for the pre cruise night. Now that we are doing Disney Land first, this isn't necessary.
For the Disney Land portion of the trip, I want to use some SPG (Starwood Preferred Guest) points that we have. If we are able to, we have enough points to cover our lodging for the nights I'm planning. The hotel choices in Anaheim are either the Sheraton Anaheim hotel or the Sheraton Park Hotel at Anaheim.
On 2/5/09 I called SPG to book the Sheraton Anaheim hotel for Wednesday 3/18 - Sunday 3/22 using my SPG points. When the woman looked up my account number, we had a little scare in that she only saw 1,000 points versus the 35,000 I have. Turns out there are two accounts for me (not sure why) and the first one she pulled up only had the 1,000 points. She will combine them so I only have one account. She was able to book the hotel for me using the points at a rate of 7,000 points per night. That includes tax. All I will need to pay will be the $10 per night fee to park the rental car at the hotel.
On 2/5/09 I purchased Disney Land 4 day hopper passes online. There is a special where adults pay children's price so these were $164 each for a total of $328. I did the electronic version rather than paying a delivery fee for the tickets. I received the email with my electronic tickets minutes after finishing the transaction.
On 2/21/09 we booked the following excursions with Royal Caribbean online:
Cabo San Lucas - Deluxe Coastal Cruise and Seasonal Whale Watching. It's a 2 hour tour. There was only 1 time slot available at 2pm which I'm not crazy about, but booked it anyway. I would have preferred the tour in the morning and then have the afternoon free for our own exploring. It was $62 per person for a total of $124.
Mazatlan - Mexican Show, Sightseeing, and Shopping at 9:15am. There were no other time choices. This was $34 each for a total of $68.
Puerto Vallarta - Town, Country, and Tequila at 10am. We could have chosen either 9am or 10am. I debated but thought Paul may want to sleep a little later so chose the 10am tour. This was $38 each for a total of $76. After the tour, I'm hoping we have time to go to Pipi's for lunch. I'm also hoping we will have enough time to stop at Krystal resort for a massage.
DAY BY DAY
The week before our trip
We have a new structure at work so the week leading up to our trip was hectic. My boss decided to take a new position in another area so there is some confusion in our group as to who will be taking on what.
We set our DVR to record our favorite shows while we are gone. A new tip we learned is that the HD shows take up much more space on the DVR than the non HD shows. So we programmed our shows to tape non HD.
On Saturday 3/14/09 we bought a camcorder since our old one wasn't working well anymore so we haven't used it in ages. Paul also needed a new cell phone. His old one wasn't holding the battery charge. His new phone is very nice and includes free GPS and some other bells and whistles for a month. That GPS will probably come in handy when we are getting lost in California.
Most of our packing was done on Sunday 3/15/09. I would sneak things down to the basement to pack when Kiki (our dog) was asleep since she gets upset when she sees the suitcases come out.
I won't be using my favorite big grey suitcase. It has to be less than 62 linear inches (height + width + depth) or it has even more fees with Continental. I measured it and it is about 65 linear inches. So now we will have three bags to check. The first bag each costs $15 and a second bag costs $25 so our total luggage fees will be $55 each way. And they each have to weigh less than 50 pounds. I have a cute little portable luggage scale. The bags weighed from 35 - 45 pounds so we're good to go.
We did some extra house cleaning since we hate coming home to a mess.
I also found out that the Enterprise rental car with the drop off in San Pedro will change you for a full extra day if you drop the car off after they close at 12. They have a drop off place, but you'll be charged extra.
The day before our trip - Tuesday 3/17/09
I got to work about 7:15am and worked straight through the day barely stopping. I was there until about 10pm trying to get everything wrapped up before I leave.
I did my Continental online check in for our flight tomorrow.
On the way home, I stopped to fill the car up with gas. Even though it will just be driving to the airport tomorrow and then sit there for a while, I like knowing it's full.
It was a great feeling walking out of the office knowing that I will be off for almost two weeks.
I picked Paul up at the store so he can leave the company car there. He wasn't finished with his work so after going home, he went back to finish up. The business Paul is managing is right in our town so it was easy enough for him to go back and forth.
I played with Kiki, had some dinner, and then finished packing.
At approximately 12:30am I started watching the Biggest Loser (it was DVR'd). It finished around 2am. Paul came home just as it was ending. I went to sleep with the alarm set for 4am.
Paul just stayed up since he had some things to do on the computer.
Wednesday 3/18/09 - Fly to California/Disney Land
Being too excited to sleep, I was up before the alarm went off at 4am. I got ready, took Kiki (our dog) out, and then finished any last minute packing and straightening up.
We left around 5:45 and stopped at the bagel store to pick up bagels to eat on the plane and some juice.
Thursday 3/19/09 - Disney Land Paul and I went to breakfast at Denny's around 9am. This is one of our vacation rituals. It's not a high maintenance or expensive ritual, but we like it. We don't have a Denny's near us so like to have breakfast if we find one. I had Sprite and Paul had coffee. I had the Heartland scramble and Paul had a "Make your own Slam". We enjoyed our Denny's breakfast. It cost $23.22 and we left a $5 tip. While eating Paul received a call from work so while he took care of that business I left a message for Kelly to see when he wanted to get together.
We drove by the Anaheim Garden Walk but Paul received another call from work so spent some time on the phone and then we headed to Downtown Disney. Paul's friend Sam called and we made tentative plans to meet up tonight. Her husband is working late, but she was free.
At Downtown Disney parking is free for the first three hours. Then they charge you $6 per hour in 20 minute increments up to a certain maximum amount. We parked and wandered through some of the shops but didn't find anything to buy.
We went into California Adventure to go on Toy Story Mania. We waited on the Single Rider line for about 10 minutes and ended up sitting together after all. What a great ride. It was cute, interactive and we both really enjoyed it. Our scores weren't that great. I think Paul had 120,000 and I had about 95,000. When the screen showed the prizes we won, mine was a rabbit and Paul's was a beaver.
Paul went on the single rider line for California Screamin while I waited. I received a voice mail from Kelly. I spoke with a woman from Arizona while I waited. Her family also went on the single rider line for California Screamin. The woman from Arizona owns DVC (Disney Vacation Club) which is Disney's version of a timeshare, and was staying at the Grand Californian. Paul always laughs at me that I'll strike up conversations with complete strangers even though I'm normally shy.
Paul enjoyed his ride and once he returned we went on Monsters Inc. Before riding Monster's we ran into the one rude cast member at Disney Land. We stopped at one of the soda carts to buy a bottle of soda. They also sold egg rolls and some other stuff. The woman was fussing with some things so Paul went to bring a bottle of soda over to her to ring up and she yelled at him not to touch anything, she would get it for him but he needed to wait since the cart isn't open for 3 more minutes. So we waited and a line formed behind us. We got our soda but were still surprised by her tone. We went over to Monsters. It is a ride here versus the show at Disney World. It was cute but it seems like some of the new rides are pretty similar in their layout.
Tower of Terror had a short wait so we went on. This was a great ride. There were slight differences from the Disney World version.
Paul needed to go buy cigarettes. Terrible habit he has that I wish he would stop, but he's a very polite smoker and doesn't smoke that often or when we're with others. I didn't want to miss the Aladdin show which Paul didn't feel strongly about one way or the other. We killed two birds with one stone. Paul went to get his cigarettes and I stayed to watch the 1:50 Aladdin show. We made plans to meet at Disneyland by Peter Pan around 3:15. Paul was planning to drive off site to find a convenience store that sells cigarettes.
I spoke to Kelly while waiting for Aladdin. We made plans to meet up tomorrow evening. Then my office called and I spent about 15 minutes on the phone. After that call I ended up speaking with a couple from California. They asked me if I was from the East Coast since I spoke so fast on the phone. I asked if they were from California since they were wearing sweatshirts and long pants while I'm in shorts and a Tee shirt since it's about 80 degrees out. We laughed and spent a while chatting before being let in for the Aladdin show.
Oh My God - the Aladdin show was fantastic. I had a nice seat in the balcony section but the first row along the railing. This was probably the best Disney show in a theme park. It has replaced my prior favorite which was the Nemo show at Animal Kingdom in Florida.
On the way out of California Adventure I was stopped by a cast member to take a 3 minute survey.
I went over to Disney Land taking pictures on the way. Being used to the vast size of Disney World and the transportation needs there, it was a refreshing change to be able to easily stroll from one park to the other in California.
The line for Peter Pan was 30 minutes. I got in line and called Paul. He is on the phone with work and will be a little bit longer.
After Peter Pan I was hungry since I have not eaten since breakfast and it was already 3:30pm. I stopped at the Mint Julep bar and got a Mint Julep (cost $3.22). I was surprised that I had to ask them for a lid but once asked it was quickly supplied. I wanted a soft pretzel to go with my beverage so went to the Bengal BBQ and got the Mickey pretzel with cheese (cost $3.76). I sat on the River Belle Terrace patio to enjoy my snack. I spoke with Paul who is still dealing with work issues.
I went on the Jungle Cruise which had a short line.
Next I went to the Tiki Room. As we were about to go in, Paul called and said he's on his way and will meet me when I come out of the Tiki show. We made plans to meet near the entrance to Indiana Jones. The show was crowded. I was surprised since I'm used to the Tiki show being relatively empty. It was a nice change to see the original version here in California. Both are very cute.
Paul showed up with a Mickey Mouse pretzel with cheese since we were looking at them last night. He was surprised when I told him that's what I had just a little while ago. He also bought a spicy beef skewer from the Bengal BBQ.
The wait for Indiana Jones was about an hour so we decided to go on another time.
We left the park and went through Downtown Disney browsing in some of the shops. I was looking for an album and an ornament. I didn't want the big giant album, but the smaller ones that I buy yearly at Disney World. No luck finding either one in World of Disney.
We stopped at the Marceline Confectionery. I got a chocolate covered pretzel covered in toffee chips. Paul got a chocolate dipped rice krispie square.
We went back to the hotel, showered, changed, and then left for LA. We used Paul's phone's GPS to find Samantha's apartment. Sam needed to bring us a visitor pass for us to be able to park on her block without having the car towed. We hung out for a bit and then went out to dinner at a restaurant called Magnolia's. We sat at a table on the enclosed patio with heat lamps. It was very cozy.
We started with cocktails. I had a drink called a Black Raspberry. It had pureed raspberries, some type of liquor and a splash of soda. I don't like drinks that taste too strong - I like them fruity or frozen. Paul had a mojito and Sam had a Dirty Martini.
For dinner I had a Cobb Salad, Paul had a Turkey Burger and Sam had steak.
This was a very cute place. We sat there chatting and catching up for hours. We paid the bill for dinner and headed out.
Sam and I stopped in the ladies room and while in there overheard two women chatting about the St Patricks Day celebration in Hoboken, NJ and also talking about Brooklyn, NY. How funny that here we are in California, both of us originally from Brooklyn, and running into two ladies also from the East Coast. Of course, we started speaking with them about it too. It's a Small World after all.
We drove around and Sam pointed out some places nearby. She pointed out Canter's deli which is open 24 hours. Paul went in and bought some cookies and got a menu. We also stopped by Pinks which is a hot dog stand that we have seen on the Food Network. There was a huge line. Paul took a menu but decided not to wait.
We dropped Sam off at her apartment a little after midnight and then headed back to Anaheim.
Friday 3/20/09 - Disney Land We got a little bit of a later start today and didn't leave the hotel until about 10am. We stopped at the lobby computers to look for the nearest location of In & Out Burger since we wanted to go there for lunch. There is free internet access for hotel guests which is really convenient.
We parked at Downtown Disney again since we were hoping to grab a pastry from La Brea express for a quick breakfast and then just spend a few hours at Disney Land. The line at La Brea was huge and nothing really caught our eye so we went into Disney Land. The Main Street bakery was also packed so we skipped it.
Paul had some popcorn.
Indiana Jones had a one hour wait. We asked if there is a single rider line and were given little cards and sent through the exit. We were on in just under ten minutes and that time was mainly spent walking through the queue. We were in separate cars but it was well worth cutting 50 minutes off our wait time. We enjoyed the ride.
We headed over to Big Thunder Mountain but it was temporarily down. We decided to wait a bit to see if it reopened. We had a Mickey Pretzel and coke while waiting. We probably waited about 20 minutes. We were going to wait 10 more minutes then give up but luckily it reopened. We jumped in line and walked straight through to the trams. The line quickly built behind us. As we were walking through the queue, the woman in front of us was wearing heels. These weren't just shoes with a bit of a heel. These were black satin going out pumps. It was very odd for a theme park. She was with her husband and son (I'm assuming that was the relationship) and they were both dressed more appropriately in shorts, T shirts, and sneakers. We enjoyed our ride and our amusement at this woman's choice of footwear.
The park is packed. The Matterhorn does not have a single rider line and the wait is over one hour. There are wall to wall people. We decided to head out and have lunch. It was about 1:45 by now.
We usually avoid holiday periods because we do not like dealing with crowds. When I booked this trip I had no idea we would be right in the midst of spring break. It isn't Spring Break in New Jersey this week, but apparently anytime in March and April can be Spring Break for the different schools across the country.
We stopped at Ralph Brennan's Jazz express on the way to the car and bought an order of beignets. They were hot and fresh but very messy. We were both covered in powdered sugar. We each ate one of them and kept the rest for later. We didn't want to ruin our appetite.
Pulling out of the lot at Downtown Disney, we were a bit over the free 3 hours so paid $2 which is the fee for the first 20 minutes. It's $6 an hour in 20 minute increments after the first three hours which are free. I didn't write down the whole list of times, but think the maximum for the day is $32.
We found In & Out Burger for lunch. We had burgers, fries, soda and a vanilla shake. All of this food was only $10.15. The fries were especially tasty; they were nice and crispy. The burgers were pretty good. The place was crowded.
There was a small grocery store nearby so we bought some Arizona Mango juice on sale for $1.25 for a big bottle. I was looking for Snapple Apple but they only had 12 packs and I didn't want that many.
We drove around and ended up at a mall near the coast not far from a beach town. We wandered a bit through Best Buy, Harry & David's, etc. Our big purchase was Paul getting a cup of coffee at Starbucks.
We got back in the car around 4:45 to head back and got a little lost. I spoke to Kelly and we made plans to go to Knott's Chicken Restaurant for dinner.
Back at our hotel, we showered and changed. It's been hot midday, but very chilly at night.
Driving to Knott's we drove right past it so had to turn around. We met Kelly around 7pm. He was already on line holding a spot. It's amazing how someone I met in person only once before and usually speak to via email is like an old friend. We greeted each other with hugs like long lost friends. Kelly and I met because we both post Disney trip reports on Mouseplanet. We started emailing each other. Then a few years ago our trips were overlapping at Disney World in Florida so we met for dinner.
We talked a mile a minute catching up with each other. The line was long but with all our chatting it went quickly. We talked about fellow Disney trip report writers like we know them personally.
Once seated we ordered dinner. I had the fried chicken dinner which came with soup or rhubarb (I chose the soup), salad, biscuits, corn or cabbage (I chose the corn) and dessert of either boysenberry pie, apple pie, ice cream or sherbet (I chose the boysenberry pie). Kelly had the same. Paul had the ribs. His sides were the same, but he had the boysenberry sherbet for dessert. Paul and I had soda and Kelly had Boysenberry punch. Paul's sherbet was really good. Kelly chose the restaurant because he wanted to go somewhere that would be unique to California.
After dinner we headed to Disney Land. Kelly has an annual pass. I rode with Kelly and Paul followed. We got separated in the parking lot so waited for Paul at the World of Disney.
We got into the park around 9:30pm during the fireworks. It was so mobbed you could barely walk. Cast members were directing traffic.
We got in line for Buzz Lightyear. The wait was posted as 15 minutes but it was more like 25. While waiting we were talking about trip report writing. Kelly said my reports are very business like. And here I thought they were just my rambling scattered thoughts. Kelly said he liked how organized my reports are. I like putting the details in so I can remember what we did years later. While we were waiting Paul pointed out a famous boxer, Floyd Mayweather, who was on line too. Buzz Lightyear was fun. I liked that the guns are not attached to the car. I earned my usual measly type of score of about 17,000.
We walked over to Frontierland to watch Fantasmic at 10:30 arriving a few minutes before it started. We enjoyed the show. The big fire dragon didn't come out. The character before that scene (maybe Maleficient) was stuck. Kelly was surprised they continued and didn't end up canceling the show. We saw the famous boxer again.
The park was still crowded but not as bad as earlier where you couldn't even walk.
We got on line for the Matterhorn with about a 20 minutes wait. I started talking to a family in front of us from Texas. They drove here making various stops along the way.
We each rode in our own car. This was a cute ride. It looks a lot more intimidating than it really is. There are no real drops, just twists and turns.
We waited 20 minutes to ride Small World. Kelly explained how they had to make the ride deeper since people are heavier and the boats were dipping too much. They also have lighter weight boats now. The attraction was down being refurbished for about a year. Kelly pointed out some of the character dolls I missed the first time we rode.
The park was just about to close since it was almost midnight.
We got on line for Alice in Wonderland. There was no cast member there to close the queue. The poor cast member working the unload section kept looking back to see if it was closed yet. Paul ended up closing the queue for him.
This was a very cute ride and I'm glad we jumped in line. We wouldn't have waited if it was crowded.
Before riding Alice, I was thinking that in the one hour after Fantasmic from 11-12 we only rode 2 rides. At least now I can say we rode 3 rides in an hour.
Since we have ridden most of the attractions on our "must do" list we decided not to use our extra Magic Hour (or whatever the term is) on our passes to get in the park tomorrow at 7am. We'll come a little later.
We browsed through the Emporium on the way out. I still have these Disney Dollars burning a hole in my pocket since I forgot to use some when I bought the panties.
I have been looking for what I thought would be easy to find - an ornament and a photo album. I have only found big albums and the ornament is nowhere to be found.
We said our goodbyes to Kelly. What a great time we had. Our love of Disney is what made our paths cross and from there we have shared so much.
We drove back to our hotel. We stopped at the computers in the lobby to look for Alaska cruises on Royal Caribbean for next summer (since they were just released). I was disappointed to see only one older ship doing the round trip (Rhapsody) and the Radiance doing either North or South bound. I'm not sure what I want to do now so will hold off a bit. I was hoping for Roundtrip on the Serenade or the Jewel.
There were a few people having a very heated argument in the lobby. Security came to settle it down.
We went up to bed.
Saturday 3/21/09 - Disney Land I was up by 6:30 but Paul was still sleeping. Since we didn't plan on the extra magic hour today I didn't wake Paul yet. I showered, got dressed and grabbed a bag of dirty laundry to bring to the launderette by the pool. I stopped in the gift shop for a box of detergent. There are 3 washers and 4 dryers available. No one was there but me. I only needed one washer. Detergent $1.35, washer $1, dryer $1; clean clothes to pack for the cruise - priceless. I have been washing a few of the delicates in the sink with woolite and hanging them to dry in the room. It is kind of chilly out this morning.
We both spent some time on the phone with our respective offices.
We left the hotel and parked at Downtown Disney. The lines were huge to get though the bag check. The lines to enter the park were ridiculous. We decided against going in.
We stopped in a few stores at Downtown Disney. In Illuminations we bought a small candle jar on sale for $5. I wonder if this store was named after Illuminations - the nighttime fireworks display at Epcot in Disney World. Illuminations the candle store is going out of business so they were having a big sale.
We walked into the Grand Californian to look in the gift shop. They didn't have small photo albums either. The cast member suggested the Fantasia Gift shop at the Disney Land Hotel so we walked over there. They didn't have the album I wanted either - just big ones. They did have a really small odd design one that held about 48 pictures. I ended up getting this small album, an ornament (finally found it), a magnet, a postcard, etc. We spent approximately $35. Of course after we left I realized that I should have used my Disney Dollars, but forgot to.
We left at approximately 2pm. We were starving since we didn't have breakfast or lunch yet. We looked at a few of the menus but nothing jumped out at us.
We headed out of Downtown Disney thinking maybe we would go to Bubba Gump or PF Changs at the Anaheim Garden Walk. We ended up driving all the way down Katella Avenue, past Garden Walk and ended up at an El Pollo Loco. This is another place we don't have by us. It was crowded which is always a good sign. I had a taco bowl dish which had chicken, rice, lettuce, etc in a taco shell bowl. Paul had chicken. We had soda and shared a flan for dessert. It was really good and our whole meal was approximately $15.
We decided to look for Sees Candies. Paul's GPS in the phone gave us directions to the Santa Ana Westfield Mall. It was hard to find parking so I ran in. Luckily Sees was right there. They are so nice. They gave me samples to try. I didn't want to take too long so bought the pre made one pound box assortment for about $16.50. I went back out to meet Paul. He found a parking spot so we went back into the mall and walked around. Back at Sees we bought a box of Molasses chips, two chocolate bars, and a butterscotch lollipop for about $12.
Leaving the mall, there was a homeless man sitting there and everyone was just walking right past him. I gave him $1.
We headed back to the hotel around 4:45 to get ready to go out tonight to LA.
One of Paul's employees called and kept him on the phone for over an hour. I showered again and got ready to go out.
We left for LA about 6pm. There was a lot of traffic on the freeway so it took us a while to get there. We met Sam's husband Scott. They met on JDate.com which is an online dating site. They have been married for about 1 ½ years. We hung out in their apartment for a little while and then headed out for dinner.
We went to an Italian restaurant called Torrano's. The wait was about an hour. While waiting we walked a few blocks to check at another restaurant which was also crowded. We went back to Torrano's and waited at a table in the bar area. Paul, Sam, and Scott shared a bottle of wine. I had a mixed drink - Aperol & Orange. They had a limited mixed drink menu. My drink was pretty good.
We were seated and they brought us bread with olive oil. We ordered one of the daily special appetizers for the table - an eggplant rollatini type dish. I asked for a Sprite and they don't have Sprite. I ended up with Orange Sparkling soda. I forgot the brand but it came in a little bottle and was pretty good.
I ordered the gnocchi; Paul had short rib agnoletti; Sam had a pasta with seafood dish, and Scott had Lasagna. The food was delicious. Everyone enjoyed their dishes and the samples of each others dishes. For dessert Sam and Scott shared a flourless chocolate cake; Paul and I shared a coffee truffle. Scott picked up the bar bill so we picked up the dinner bill - about $150
After dinner we drove around with Sam and Scott pointing out various sights for us - Mann's Chinese Theater, Kodak Theater, Walk of Fame, etc. We took a few pictures from the car. It was too cold to walk around.
We went back to Sam and Scott's apartment and hung out for a while. We left around 12:30am.
Before leaving LA we stopped at Canter's Deli. Paul went in and ordered a few things to go. There was no parking so I waited in the car. We stopped for gas and then got on the freeway to go back to Anaheim.
We got back to the hotel around 2am. Walking in a young couple who were drunk asked for a cigarette. Paul gave them a few. They chatted with us for a while. They were very nice kids celebrating her 21st birthday but they were very drunk.
Once upstairs I organized some of our luggage for tomorrow - leaving for the cruise. Around 3am I decided to get some sleep and finish in the morning.
I feel like we have Vacation Part 1 - Disney Land and LA and then we have Vacation Part 2 - cruise to the Mexican Riviera.
Sunday 3/22/09 - Embark I was up before 8 so got ready and finished packing. The check out bill was under our door. The only charge on there was $10 per night for parking so a total of $40.
For breakfast we ate cookies from Canter's deli and ½ of Paul's sandwich from Canter's deli (corned beef and pastrami on rye) and Paul also ate some of the stuffed cabbage from Canters. He heated it up in the microwave in the shop in the lobby.
We left a tip for the maid and then brought the bags out to the car. We checked out around 10:45. Paul wanted to schedule an appointment for his car to go in for service when we get back so went to go online to do so. Since we had already checked out it didn't work. They had to un-check us out so Paul could log on for a few minutes and this was done quickly. The staff at this hotel are very helpful, polite, and friendly.
We liked the Sheraton Anaheim. The free internet was very useful and appreciated. The free shuttle to the park (even though we only used it once) is a great convenience. The rooms are a nice size and have a little refrigerator. Any problems we encountered (the drain and the temperature) were fixed very quickly. I would definitely recommend this hotel.
By the time we got in the car and were leaving it was after 11am. There was a big traffic delay on 91W. Once we passed that, we made pretty good time driving to San Pedro.
We drove around looking for a gas station in San Pedro to fill up the car. We got to Enterprise around 2 minutes to 12. We just made it since they close at noon on Sunday. You can drop the car off after they close but you are charged for a whole extra day. We got onto the shuttle to the pier with all of our luggage. There was another couple who also just dropped off their rental car and were also going on the Mariner. We tipped the shuttle driver.
A porter at the pier quickly took our luggage. We gave him a nice tip to ensure our bags make it onto the ship. There was a big line but it was for people checking their own luggage or getting luggage tags.
We bypassed that line and went to the next building where there as a very short line through security and then we went right into the Diamond Line and directly to the counter. The other lines for the different decks were pretty empty too at this time.
We checked in quickly, took our boarding picture, our sea pass picture and were one the ship by about 12:25.
The cabins aren't ready until 1pm so we went up to the Windjammer for lunch. Paul bought his soda card and we went in for lunch. It was packed in there. We found a table near the back. Raphael was the waiter for the section and he got our beverages. We had some honey stung chicken. The first piece was dry and inedible. The second piece was very good. Paul spoke to his team at work for a little bit.
Cabins were ready now so we headed down to our room - #7318 - hump balcony cabin. On the desk was an envelope with the concierge key and welcome letter, an envelope with our excursion tickets, Meet and Mingle invitations, the compass, and our Diamond coupon books. I was surprised to see it was for Diamond and Diamond Plus. I unpacked the carry on. We spent a little time on the balcony but it was kind of chilly. It's nice having a balcony on the hump and sticking out from the rest of the ship. The location is great too being very close to the elevators and stairs. I liked how all these documents were ready and waiting for us when we got there.
We each received a Diamond/Diamond Plus coupon book and each one contained the following: 20% off spa or salon service Bingo credit - free strip of 3 jackpot bingo cards Bar credit - free cocktail in souvenir glass or soda or bottle of water Complimentary wine tasting Digital photo credit - 20% off (3 of these) Free Spin to Win (3 of these) $5 Match Play in the casino (3 of these) $10 Internet credit 10% off logo items in the gift shop 10% off perfume in the gift shop Bottle of wine - buy 1 get 20% off second under $50 Ben & Jerry's - free peace pop Seattle's Best - free coffee beverage Johnny Rockets - complimentary dining Temporary Tattoo - buy 1 get 1 free Vintages glass wine discount - buy 1 get 1 75% off Vintages wine flight discount - buy 1 get 1 20% off Dry Cleaning/Laundry - $5 off laundry charge of $25 or more Diamonds International - $150 off "Crown of Light" purchase
We went for a walk around the ship. The promenade was crowded but we tried some of the liquor samples. Absolut Mango and Amarula.
Up on the 10th deck Paul wanted to have a cigarette but couldn't find his lighter. He waited in the smoking section hoping someone would come by to light his cigarette. A nice guy came by and not only gave him a light but had an extra lighter that he gave him. We hung out for while with them. They are both big casino players so we will probably see them there.
The slot machines have tickets on some versus coins for redemption. Not all of them, but a few of them. There are also bill breaking machines around the casino. They have a program where you earn points for slot play and can redeem the points for various prizes and things.
Back at the cabin, we met our cabin steward, Golda. Our luggage hasn't arrived yet. She said that often when you get to the ship early the luggage is basically at the bottom of the pile and arrives late.
Muster drill was at 4:15. It was freezing outside. I was happy to be near the back of the row this time since there were people around to block the wind.
The captain announced that we will be leaving late - around 6pm instead of 5pm.
We went to the concierge lounge a little before 5pm and met Allan (the concierge) and the bartender. I picked up ice show tickets for Wednesday at 9pm and also made Chops reservations for Wednesday at 7pm.
The bartender came around to the tables asking what you wanted to drink and bringing it over. I had vodka with orange and pineapple juice. Paul had Jack and Coke. We snacked on some appetizers. A nice couple sat with us and we hung out until 6 when we left for dinner.
Whoever did the seating arrangement put us with an odd group of tablemates. We were at a table for 8 with 3 other couples but they are all much older than us. They are all very nice and we have nothing against seniors but we don't have that much in common with them other than being on the cruise together. One couple was the same couple from the Enterprise shuttle. He's a preacher from Iowa. Jim and Winnie. One couple was from California - Greg and Debbie. The other couple was from Texas (I think) - Loman and Pat
During the normal small talk while introducing ourselves everyone was mentioning what they did (or used to do) for a living. As soon as I mentioned my company, the man from Texas was very vocal about how taxpayers are paying us and we shouldn't have bonus' etc. I was a little annoyed since he has no clue about the industry and how people are paid or what they do. I was thinking to myself that we are going to have to request a new table. Luckily, Jim, the preacher from Iowa jumped in and talked about what he did. The preacher had us all hold hands and he said a prayer before we ate.
I had the Vidalia Onion Tart, Pork Medallions and the Peach and Blueberry crumble with vanilla ice cream. Paul had shrimp soup, Shrimp ravioli, and Lemon sherbet.
Before dessert Paul went to the bathroom but detoured through the casino. He won $50 on a slot machine.
Dinner was a little slow and we missed the Welcome Aboard show. We went to the casino to play some joker poker. Paul hit a Royal Flush (the jackpot) and won $1300. He was on a roll and hit 4 of a kind a few times after that.
We went upstairs for a little bit and did some unpacking now that our luggage has arrived. Paul went back to the casino while I finished getting things organized and then I went to meet him. Paul helped get everything taken out of the suitcases and put in piles as well as storing the luggage under the bed. However, when it comes time to find places for things and get it all put away, I like to do that and it's easier when Paul is off at the casino or outside on the balcony. It's a corny little routine but once I have everything put somewhere, I like to show him where everything is so when we come up later, I'll point out all the organizing I did. Right before I got to the casino he hit 4 Aces. My luck wasn't good tonight and I didn't win anything.
Around midnight I went upstairs. I stopped in the library to get a book. Paul came up a little later and had the tour of the unpacked items.
Monday 3/23/09 - At Sea We went for breakfast in the Windjammer around 9:45am. We had an assortment of breakfast foods.
We had no plans until 11:30 so we went to the casino. I put $40 in the machine and after playing a bit was dealt 4 3's - the last card was dealt as an 8 so I let the 8 go (holding the 4 3's) and got an Ace so had 4 3's with an Ace which pays out double 4 3's with an 8 so I won 800 quarters - $200. I cashed out at $240 and went up to get our invites for the Meet and Mingle.
The room steward left robes and a big giant bucket of ice.
The Meet & Mingle was at 11:30 in Ellington's Lounge. There was a nice turnout of people but the Royal Caribbean workers didn't help get the party going. They did the raffles and Paul won a baseball cap and the workers told people we will be done in time for the 12 noon Port and Shopping talk. I know they are just providing the venue and some snacks but it's nice when they help break the ice. I found Dawna to give our slot pull money to.
We left around 12 and I went to the Port and shopping talk. I mainly went because I wanted to get the maps. The talk itself was kind of boring. I stayed about 40 minutes and then left to meet Paul in the casino.
We went to get lunch around 1:40. Originally we were just going to get pizza at the promenade but they had a weird one - tuna pizza - yuck. I'm making a judgment on the pizza without actually seeing it. I don't like tuna fish and am imagining pizza with tuna fish on it so have no interest in it. However, if it is pieces of tuna steak on the pizza that would be a different story and something I would try. Not seeing it we went to the Windjammer and had bits of different things.
At 2:15 we went to the casino for the cruise critic slot pull. There were approximately 40 people. We played on one of the Wheel of Fortune $1 machines. Everyone took 4 spins. One lady did well and hit a combination of 7's for $100. The Wheel of Fortune spins didn't come up too often. After going through everyone, we would have each gotten back $9.33 so we let it ride and went through all the players again this time each taking 3 spins. When done we all should have gotten $5.80 back but since no one had coins we each took $5 back. This was a lot of fun and everyone was cheering and having a great time. Our initial buy in was $12 a person.
After the slot pull Paul and I went up to the card and games room and played Connect4. It's finally getting sunny and a little warmer out.
There was a Dodgeball game going on so we watched. I didn't know Paul was interested or we would have gone sooner so he could have joined a team.
We went back to our cabin around 5:15. There was a tray of petit fours (for Diamond members per the little letter left with them) including 2 cookies, 2 square pastry things and 2 chocolate covered strawberries. There were also notes left about onboard credit showing on our account by day 2 at noon and about the non refundable portion having no cash value. We have on board credits for using the Next Cruise and also for being Royal Caribbean stockholders.
We got dressed and ready for formal night dinner. Paul wanted to have a cigarette so I went in to the dining room. When he showed up he had a few $100 chips in his hand. He made a brief but profitable stop at the Blackjack table on the way to dinner after his cigarette.
For appetizers we both had escargot. Paul also had a shrimp cocktail. I had a Caesar salad. For our entrees I had the mushroom linguine. Paul had the duck and the sea bass. For dessert I had the Grand Marnier soufflé and Paul had the cherries jubilee. I always look forward to the soufflé and it wasn't cooked enough so I didn't really enjoy it.
After dinner we changed back to our casual clothes. At 9pm we saw the show in the theater called Front Row which was the Royal Caribbean Singers and Dancers performing. We didn't know much of the music until they got to the end of the show.
After the show we went to the casino and Paul played some poker.
At 12:15 we went to the late night comedy with Derrick Cameron which was just OK.
I went to bed and Paul went back to the casino.
I lost track of which day we received it, but our Crown & Anchor gift was tote bags.
Tuesday 3/24/09 - Cabo San Lucas We had breakfast in the Windjammer.
We had to take a tender to Cabo San Lucas. They have an interesting tender operation here. Our balcony faced the side where the tenders were so we watched the activity for a little while. Two floating docks are brought over to the ship and attached. Passengers are loaded to the tenders using these floating docks. It was very quick. The tenders were small so they filled up and left pretty fast.
We stopped in Diamonds International for the free charm. Then we walked around the town. We bought a postcard, a magnet, and an ornament. In Cabo Wabo Paul got a hat and a frozen Waborita on a stick. At Hard Rock Café I bought a pin and a shirt for John (my spinning teacher who asked for a gift).
We had lunch at The Shrimp Factory. This restaurant was on the list of restaurants in the map the ship handed out. Our soda was 7 Up served in the can. I had coconut shrimp and Paul had tempura shrimp. It was very good. Lunch was about $45.
We met back at the pier around 2:15 for our whale watching cruise. It was a nice big catamaran. They served soda, Margaritas, and Chips. We saw Los Arcos and took pictures. Then we searched for whales. We saw a few. The tour lasted about 2 hours. The tour operators also took pictures of you with the Arcos in the background and later sold them to you if you were interested. We bought our picture.
Back at the pier there was a long line for the tender so we browsed through some of the shops until the line went down. We were back on the ship around 5:30. We quickly got ready for dinner.
For appetizers we both had the scallop risotto. Paul had the garlic soup. For our entrees I had the garlic shrimp and Paul had the lamb shank. For dessert I had the angel food cake and Paul had the tiramisu. Paul was making fun of me for having Coconut shrimp for lunch and now garlic shrimp for dinner, but there wasn't anything else that sounded good.
The show at 9pm was The Magic and Grand Illusions of LaRaf. The show was pretty good.
Then we spent a little time in the casino before going to bed.
Wednesday 3/25/09 - Mazatlan We had breakfast in the Windjammer around 8:30.
We met our tour - Mexican Show, Highlights, and Shopping on the pier at 9am. We got onto a big air conditioned bus for the tour.
The first stop was a lookout for the light house. We took some pictures. Aggressive vendors tried to sell us all sorts of stuff. Paul bought a cute hat for $5.
Our next stop was a Cathedral. It was huge. The bus couldn't stay where it dropped us off so it had to circle. We wandered through the cathedral for a bit. Then we found a convenience store to buy some bottled water. We found the bus down the block from where it left us.
Our next stop was the Populare Theater to see a show that contained several different Mexican themed acts. The finale was the Paplanta Flyers. They served chips and dip which they kept refilling at the theater, however beverages you had to pay for. A can of soda was $3.
At the end of the show, the waiter came around looking for tips for the servers and the performers.
Our next stop was shopping in the Golden Zone. The bus dropped us off in front of Diamonds International and the tour guide gave us coupons for Diamonds International. I got my free charm in DI. Browsing around the Golden zone, I found a magnet, postcards and Paul bought another hat. We wandered through several shops and then onto the beach. The minute you stepped onto the beach the vendors swarmed around you trying to get you to purchase their items. It reminded me of the Mexico ride in Epcot how they depict the vendors all trying to get you to buy their stuff.
Our final stop was to watch the cliff diver (yes - singular) - one diver. Someone came around asking for tips for the diver. I expected the cliff diving to be more of an elaborate set up but it was basically on the side of the road.
The bus at the end of the tour dropped us off at the terminal shops so we browsed there.
The tour was listed as 4 hours but ended up lasting over 5 hours. Near the beginning of the tour the guide was a bit confused and gave us misinformation about the length of the tour, where it ends, etc. It all worked out in the end but was a bit confusing. A few people ended up leaving the tour early since they had other plans in the afternoon.
We took the little trolley back to the ship and had a late lunch at the Windjammer.
We wandered around the ship a bit and spent a little time at the pool deck. There were plenty of people there but it wasn't packed like it is on sea days since we were still in port.
We went back to our cabin and Paul took a nap while I showered and then read my book for a little while.
We went up to the concierge lounge a little after 6pm. The bartender made me a nice fruity drink. Paul had some snacks. I had one chocolate covered strawberry since I didn't want to ruin my appetite since we are going to Chops for dinner. We chatted with some cruise critic members in the lounge - Dawna and Peter and their respective spouses.
We went to Chops at 7pm and were seated at a table for two. It was not very crowded. The atmosphere is very nice and the wait staff team introduced themselves and made small talk. They brought us bread. Paul had a glass of wine. I just drank water.
For appetizers we shared the following - shrimp cocktail; crab and shrimp cake, and lobster carpaccio. I didn't like the lobster carpaccio although Paul thought it was very good.
For our entrees I had the filet mignon and Paul had the T Bone.
The sides were ordered to share - potatoes with prosciutto, crimini mushrooms in a cream sauce, and baby bok choy with shitake mushrooms. The potatoes were the best side of the three we ordered.
The food was really good but we couldn't finish. The wait staff was very attentive and would constantly refill our water glasses before we ever had to look for them.
The waitress offered to pack our steaks and sides for us. We were like what are we going to do with it without a microwave? She suggested that it makes a great midnight snack so we said OK, we'll take the steaks but don't need the sides (I didn't think they would be good cold). She said they would send it up to our room.
We then ordered dessert. I had the granny smith caramel apple slice with vanilla ice cream and Paul had the molton chocolate cake.
We thoroughly enjoyed our meal and highly recommend Chops. The menu was a little different than the one in the concierge lounge. I'm surprised it's not kept up to date a little better.
We finished a few minutes before 9pm so rushed down to Studio B for the ice show "Ice Under the Big Top". The show had various circus themed acts such as an animal trainer, clowning around, etc. There weren't many seats left by the time we arrived. Our seats were less than perfect but we were able to see most of what was happening. The show was very good. If I compare, I still prefer "Sprits of the Seasons" - the ice show on the Explorer of the Seas.
We stopped at the casino for a little while and then went to the Savoy Theater for Win a Cruise Bingo. The prices have gone up. One ticket was $22 for 1 small square. The strip with three squares was something like $50 and the handheld computerized with 6 games was close to $70. We just bought the 1 small ticket for $22. We also received a strip of pull tabs and won $5 on that. After my last win a cruise experience with a tie that I didn't end up winning, I wasn't that keen to play again.
When they went over the rules they kept saying in the unlikely event of a tie there is a playoff. They kept talking about how rare that is. It happened to me. They also went through all the normal rules and how you have to have the last number called to win.
The game is played and a lady calls Bingo. However, she called it too late as they had already called another number. She tried to argue but they just went on with the game and someone else won. They lady must have felt like a real idiot - she won and lost through no ones fault but her own.
After Bingo we stayed for the Love and Marriage show. This was very cute. Many of the same questions that we've seen before but the players are what make the show. This was a good group.
We went up to our cabin around midnight and had a message from room service to call them to bring up the steak when we're ready. Paul called and they brought it up. However, it wasn't just our leftovers, it was two brand new steaks. Paul snacked on them.
We filled out a room service form for breakfast. We haven't had room service breakfast in a long time.
Then we went to sleep.
Thursday 3/26/09 - Puerto Vallarta I got up and ready. We were able to cancel our pre-booked Town, Country, and Tequila tour. We really wanted to just head off on our own and not be part of a big tour.
Room service called to deliver our breakfast and showed up a few minutes later. We ate on the balcony.
We got off the ship around 9:30am. Our plan was to take a cab to the Malecon, have lunch at Pipis, come back to the ship for beach stuff and head to Krystal Resort hoping to have time for a massage (and availability on their part).
Our plans quickly changed when we got off the ship. We saw these little golf cart type things for rent - $55 for the day plus $5 for them to refill the gas so $60 in total for the day. These things were very cute but there was no top so even though it felt cool and breezy when moving the sun was beating down on us.
We drove first to the Malecon and parked across from Diamonds International. We walked around and bought a magnet and postcard. There are a lot of XOXO stores - it looks like their version of a 7-11. We bought some soda and Gatorade.
We drove all the way to Mismaloya Beach (not sure of the spelling) and walked around there since Loman raved about it. It was OK, but we aren't really beach people so just wandered a bit and then got back on our little Easy Go and continued our way around Puerto Vallarta.
We then went to Eden. There are ziplines, waterfalls, and the scenery from the movie Predator.
There was another cute place we stopped at with waterfalls, a restaurant and some shops. I found these cute sandals and the man originally asked for $28. I said we'd walk around some and that I didn't bring that much cash.
The bathrooms here were odd. There was no running water in the sink so an attendant poured water on your hands, you soaped up and then she poured more water to rinse the soap off then handed you paper towels. She was the first bathroom attendant who really earned her tip.
I ended up buying the cute little sandals for $15.
We drove back past the ship and stopped in Walmart just to walk around and see a Mexican Walmart. It isn't too different than the ones we've seen in Florida. We took a picture of the display of Kelloggs Frosted Flakes since it was the same tiger but the name of the cereal was in Spanish.
We drove to Krystal Resort and walked back towards the pool area by the beach. We found the massage Palapa and asked if they had any availability for massages. They would be able to take us then for a couples massage for $75 for the two of us. We were led to this outdoor tent like structure. It had four walls. I'm not sure what the walls were made of but they let in breezes and you heard the ocean. There were also overhead fans. There were two massage tables in the room. We undressed and each jumped onto a table.
This was the best massage I have ever had. I am not a massage expert and have not had that many, but this was great. It lasted over an hour. We gave them $100. It's not super fancy like when you have a massage in a spa or resort. There aren't showers with special sprays or robes and slippers to change into, but as long as you are not expecting that you will love it.
We stopped in the little store and bought some soda, Gatorade, cookies and chips. We skipped lunch and were hungry.
We drove back towards the pier and browsed the shops there. I bought this cute green Mexican style cotton shirt for $31. I probably could have bargained, but thought it was reasonably priced.
We were back on the ship around 5:15 to shower and get ready for dinner. I wore my new green shirt we got at the pier with black pants. I got a lot of compliments on my new shirt.
One couple didn't come to dinner for the 3rd time. The rest of us were there today. We enjoyed the following selections. A salad for the table was served. I had the crab cake appetizer while Paul had New England Clam chowder. For our entrée I had he panko crusted cod and Paul had the lamb shank. For dessert I had apple pie a la mode and Paul had white chocolate mousse.
After dinner we went to the casino and played poker slots for a little bit.
Paul was still hungry so we went up to the Windjammer and he had some sushi.
Back at the cabin we picked up the forms to drop off for gratuities and the airport valet. I filled them both out and dropped them off at guest relations. The airport valet cost $20 per person and our bags would be delivered directly to the airline and we would not need to handle them until we arrive back at the airport in NJ to get them off the luggage carousel.
Paul was tired and wanted to rest so I went to the show -Pure Energy myself. It was the Royal Caribbean Singers and Dancers performing. The show was good. It was a musical tribute to the 80's. After running around all day, I was getting tired too and I had trouble staying awake.
I came back to the cabin to wake Paul so we could go to the Quest in Studio B. We had front row seats. We were not team captains since we just wanted to watch and maybe provide items but not be the runners. However, we ended up very involved and on the floor many times. It was a lot of fun.
After the Quest we went up to the Solarium for the special nightclub they set up - they called it "Twenty". They put up special white drapes around the edges and were serving drinks in light up glasses. Staff members were checking ID's for those that looked young to ensure it was just adults. People started jumping in the pool pretty quickly.
We stopped for a slice of pizza in the promenade and then went up to the cabin to go to sleep around 2am.
Friday 3/27/09 - At Sea We slept later today than we have been. I guess all this vacationing is catching up to us.
Paul had some breakfast in the Windjammer. We wanted to have an early lunch at Johnny Rockets so I skipped breakfast.
The promenade was packed with various jewelry sales.
We went out to the pool deck. It's very windy and chilly even though it is sunny. Some people are out sunbathing in bathing suits while others are wrapped in towels and wearing jackets. Standing up by the sky bar the wind was blocked and it was very nice out there.
We went over to Johnny Rockets just before 12 and there was already a line that we joined. The line quickly grew behind us. Due to how chilly and windy it was, everyone was waiting for the indoor tables.
We were seated about 12:15 and had the fries and onion rings to start. We both had a St Louis burger, mine with the sauce on the side. We shared an Oreo sundae. The food was good and was a nice change from the Windjammer.
Paul was tired so we went up to the cabin and he took a nap. I read my book alternating between sitting on the balcony and sitting on the couch in the cabin. It would get a little chilly out on the balcony.
We went down to the casino for Paul to play in the blackjack tournament at 2pm. He used his slot credits for his entry. He was knocked out pretty quickly but bought another entry for $20. He was close to making the final table but lost the last hand so didn't make it.
We stopped at the logo shop and Paul got two Tshirts for $30. We were able to use our C&A coupon for 10% off.
We went to Bingo at 4pm and bought the regular pack that costs $37.
I was the Bingo Commissioner. The activities guy already released the balls into the machine so we had to put them all back in their numbered slots first. I was the hardest working Bingo commissioner. After putting them all back in I checked that they were all there. I was given a keychain, a Bingo TShirt and a drink of the day.
We didn't win anything at Bingo. There was a cute raffle for moving "Izzy" around each game. "Izzy" is one of the electronic Bingo machines. I guess if you win him in a raffle, the hope is that you will like it and next time buy the electronic machine rather than the paper.
After Bingo we went upstairs and Paul napped while I read. We got ready for formal night and were the first ones at dinner. Greg and Debbie didn't come again. A new couple joined us tonight, Dustin and Anise. They got engaged on the ship and were from Detroit (I think).
For our appetizers I had the roasted peach soup and Paul had the cream of asparagus soup. Paul had a house salad. We both had the fisherman's plate for our entrée which included a lobster tail and garlic shrimp. Paul had an extra lobster tail. We both had the trio sampler for dessert which had cheesecake, chocolate cake and savarin.
Winnie who is 59 years old told us a story of growing up on a farm in South Dakota with an outhouse. They didn't even have toilet paper. She said where she grew up is a generation behind the rest of the US. I was shocked by her story.
This was the night for the Platinum and Diamond party at 7:45 in the Lotus Lounge. We each had a chocolate covered strawberry. I had a Pina Colada and Paul had a rum punch. An officer came by to talk with us. It's nice that they do this for customers who are "loyal to royal". That expression was used several times at the party and they acknowledged that we can take our business elsewhere and they are thankful that we are here. You would think they should re-think their new not letting you combine benefits policy.
After the party we went back to the cabin to change out of our formal clothes.
We went to the show at 9 - Paul Boland - The Man of 1000 voices, singing Impressionist. It was a good show and we both enjoyed it. This was probably the best show in the theater the whole week. He was able to impersonate the voices of many famous people and incorporated them into songs.
After the show we went to the Lotus Lounge for Battle of the Sexes at 10:15. This was a fun game with lots of audience participation. Paul even participated in one of the games.
Staying in the Lotus Lounge, Karaoke started at 11. I was surprised Paul didn't get up to sing. There were very few decent singers. Most of them were drunk and having fun, but it wasn't that easy on the ears. It was very entertaining though.
After Karaoke we made a stop at the Promenade Café for some pizza then headed up to our cabin to go to sleep.
This was probably the first sea day that we did not spend time in the casino other than for the blackjack tournament.
Tomorrow is our last day at Sea before we are back in LA.
Saturday 3/28/09 - At Sea We were at the Windjammer having breakfast by 9am.
At 10am we went to the Captain's Corner in the Savoy Theater. Captain Per and the cruise director Abe were there to answer questions and show a clip of pictures of the Oasis.
At 11 we used our free bonus round Bingo coupons. They are for the jackpot game. We have never seen the jackpot go in the morning so figured we would buy the machine for the afternoon session. A man missed the jackpot by one number. He got Bingo after 52 balls instead of 51. Instead of the jackpot of a few thousand dollars he won a few hundred.
We stopped at the photo gallery and looked at our pictures. We may come back for the Boarding picture.
We decided to go to lunch in the dining room. We were seated at a table for six with a couple from Alaska and 2 women from California.
The menu was very nice and they had a salad bar where you can tell them what items to mix and you get a custom made salad - either appetizer or entrée size. I had an appetizer salad. I ordered the chicken teriyaki skewer. Paul ordered two entrees - Singapore noodles and lamb in a pita. For dessert I had an apple parcel and Paul had sherbet.
We had a nice time chatting with our tablemates. The couple from Alaska are on the cruise with a tour. They own a bed and breakfast and also a travel agency. They were on the cruise because he lost a lot of weight.
We started pulling the suitcases out to get them ready to get packed. Our stateroom attendant stopped by to drop off the guest satisfaction survey. Then she came back a little later with our luggage valet tags and information.
At 3:30 we went to the Final Bingo. The machines were all taken so we had to buy the paper pack for $53. The machines play 30 cards per game versus six games on the paper cards. I don't have how much the machines cost. Every game was won by someone on a machine. The jackpot was a little under $6,000 and was split by three people.
Before Bingo started the spa manager came out and was reducing the price of the Ultimate Spa Treatment. This is normally $240 and includes a massage, a facial, reflexology, and a scalp massage. She went down to $89. I guess the spa isn't booking up like it normally does.
We stopped back in our cabin and there was a notice about Paul's account being a cash account even thought it was a credit card account. We stopped at Guest Relations to fix this before dinner.
I did most of the packing before we went to dinner.
Dinner was nice and everyone was there. We were all chattering away like old friends by now. Loman, who I didn't think liked me at first, called me the "Bright Spot" of the table.
There were a few new items on the menu along with the standard ones. There was a Caesar salad for the table. I had the cold raspberry soup and Paul had French onion soup. Paul also had a shrimp cocktail.
I had the Mahi Mahi and Shrimp Tempura and asked for some white rice. In the past it's just been Mahi Mahi tempura, it was kind of nice also having the shrimp. Paul ordered a steak. I asked for a small sample of the Gnocchi (new item on the menu). The gnocchi was OK but it was in a cream sauce so a bit heavy. For dessert I had the banana parfait and Paul had Key Lime Pie.
After lingering we said our goodbyes. We finished packing, put our airline tags on our bags and left them out for pickup hoping to see then when we arrive in NJ tomorrow night.
We went to the Farewell show at 9. We missed the beginning but saw most of the juggler, Chuck Gunter and the comedian, Carlos Oscar. The comedian was very funny. He made a point to mention that he likes to be funny without cursing or being vulgar.
We went to the casino after the show.
Around 1am we stopped at the promenade café for a slice of pizza before going up to our cabin to go to bed.
Sunday 3/29/09 - Disembark, and fly home We were docked in San Pedro pretty early. We got ready, loaded up our carryons and went to the Windjammer for breakfast around 8am. We sat with a nice couple from Albany and had an enjoyable last meal on the ship.
We got off the ship and went over to Super Shuttle. It was very convenient not to have to deal with all of our luggage and just have our carryons.
The dispatcher was a little confused but the driver was very nice. We and another couple were going to LAX. The other 5 people in the van all live in the LA area and were being driven home. We dropped a family that lived near the airport first then went to LAX. It was $30 for both of us with the AAA discount. I tipped the driver $10.
We were through security and at our gate by around 10:30am. Unfortunately, our flight, scheduled for 1:05 is now delayed until 2:43 due to storms in NY.
I realized that we forgot to take our final bill from the door slot when we left. I'll call Royal Caribbean and see if they can fax or email me a copy.
An announcement was made that they were going to try to get us on the plane and going during this small window of opportunity that arose. This was around 1:30. So we got on the plane quickly. There was a bunch of seat juggling going on as the plane wasn't as full as originally expected. Standby people were even able to make it onto our flight so the plane was full by the time we took off.
We sat on the runway for a while. The stewardess even said she didn't know if we would be leaving anytime soon. She was surprised there was such a rush for us to get on the plane. We ended up leaving around 2ish. The flight was fine with a few bumpy patches. We were served a meal on the plan. We were given a fried chicken patty sandwich, salad, a little baggie of carrot sticks, a Pepperidge Farm Milano cookie and a little container of peppercorn ranch dressing. For airline food, it was decent. Even with the delays we still landed and were waiting for our luggage by 7pm. And then had to change our clocks because it wasn't 7, it was 10pm. It took a while for any luggage to come out. When it finally started ours took a while. I was getting worried that it didn't make it. Once I saw the first bag coming around, I felt better. Our bags all made it safe and sound.
We called Corporate Park to pick us up and they were there within about 10 minutes. At their lot, our car was pulled up to the front and waiting for us. I went in to pay while Paul and the shuttle driver loaded our luggage into the car.
We then headed for home. We were both hungry and were thinking about dinner. And then Paul says that it is after 11pm here not much is going to be open. We were still on California time. We ended up with one of the few night time options in the suburbs - McDonalds for dinner to go.
We got home and our dog, Kiki, was very excited to see us. I'm assuming she was excited to see us, not just the extra cheeseburger we brought her from McDonalds.
I started doing a bit of unpacking, going through the mail, and getting a load of laundry going. I still feel like it's a lot earlier than it really is.
FINAL THOUGHTS I really liked having a combination vacation of both Disney Land and the Cruise. I felt like we had Vacation Part 1 and Vacation Part 2. We did this because we were flying cross country and figured as long as we are flying that far we may as well spend some time in the area. We are probably going to do this again when we cruise on the Freedom in the fall out of Port Canaveral. Rather than spend a week in Disney in May or June and then go on the Freedom in the fall, we'll do another combination vacation.
We enjoyed Disney Land. The size of the park made it very manageable in a short amount of time. The ease of going from one park to the other was great. We enjoyed all the attractions and were noticing the differences on some of the attractions to the Disney World versions. Some we enjoyed more and some less, but either way, we had a great time in Disney Land. The only downside was the crowds. I didn't realize when we were booking our trip that we would be running into Spring Break crowds.
I think the Mariner of the Seas is a great ship. We have done several cruises on the Explorer so were very familiar with the layout. We had a great time on the cruise.
I have wanted to do a Mexican Riviera cruise for a long time, but didn't want to go on one of the smaller ships. This was the perfect opportunity to try it. Having now seen parts of the Mexican Riviera and parts of the Caribbean, my preference is the Caribbean. I missed seeing that beautiful turquoise water in the Caribbean. I also found the aggressive vendors to be a bit annoying. I expected it going in, but still was aggravated by the extent of it. My main reason for the preference is the ease of getting to the Caribbean versus the Mexican Riviera. Flying cross country with a time change is a lot more effort than a 2 ½ hour flight to Florida to board a ship, and way more effort than our easiest option of driving 45 minutes to Bayonne to get on a ship there.
- Read more Royal Caribbean Mariner of the Seas Reviews
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