1. Home
  2. Cruise Destinations
  3. Mexican Riviera Cruises
  4. Mexican Riviera Cruise Reviews

64 Mexican Riviera Singles Cruise Reviews

Good points: -Zaandam much better than the Oosterdam in decor, service and company response to problems. Had a bad leak in my suite ceiling that took days to correct, but received a very generous shipboard credit and a cookbook plus ... Read More
Good points: -Zaandam much better than the Oosterdam in decor, service and company response to problems. Had a bad leak in my suite ceiling that took days to correct, but received a very generous shipboard credit and a cookbook plus apology note as compensation. Compared to the Oosterdam, where I had worse problems with cabin and an injury caused by HAL and I got no compensation or apology. -Shore excursions were excellent -Food was pretty good, Pinnacle Grill filet was outstanding, La Cirque fantastic -Entertainment at times was excellent -Embarkation and disembarkation very smooth -Hotel the night before, booked through my travel agent, Sheraton Marina in San Diego very good (not necessarily affiliated with HAL.) -Although I had a very bad spa experience with a too-young and experienced staff person, the spa manager quickly refunded the hefty sum I had paid in advance. -LOVE the Thermal Suite on HAL, though this one was WAY small. Pool was the size of a hot tub. BUT there was rarely anyone in the room, and what a way to relax! -Explorations Cafe really spacious, comfortable, and service was good there. -HAL continues to have the best guest to tonnage ratio, with lots of space and non-crowded atmosphere. However, at times this could be a negative for a solo traveler! Not so good points: -Service was not up to par for the price and supposed reputation of HAL Dining room staff seemed worn out or overworked, repeated requests needed for simple items like iced tea, etc. Chaotic, unacceptable situation with dining room seating. Some sort of "reservations needed" policy we were never notified about- "on your own" dining turned out to receive annoyance from restaurant manager, no table or a very long wait, and never could figure out what kind of system or lack of they were using. Many people annoyed, very long lines. 75% of the time, service overall could not in any way be described as "luxury," "gracious," or "outstanding." -Even though the restaurant food was good, the room service food was HORRIBLE. Unacceptable, poorly presented, served with resentment, and hardly edible. -Cabin steward(s) just okay. Just doing their job, and since you pay $11.50 per day for tips overall, felt underwhelmed so didn't tip them more. Was slightly put off by Cruise Director's heavy pitch on the last day for tips to the staff, when indeed, no staff member stood out for doing anything other than their job. -Unavoidable but still annoying culture/ language gap makes trying to complain or explain needs met with blank looks, non-responsiveness, or incorrect/ poor resolution, if any. Tendency to insinuate blame on the guest and a constant theme of NOT showing the kind of gracious, over the top service HAL advertises. A big gap here! -Very unclear when formal nights were- advance notice was the typical 2, but turns out there were 3, with hardly any advance and not clear notice. How are you supposed to pack or plan for that? Lack of enforcement of dress code for formal nights. -For the price I paid for my verandah suite, it was a rip-off. Very small, the bathroom was tiny, and the "jetted" tub was a disgrace. Not big enough for an adult, and all the jets didn't work. -The Zaandam is looking a little shabby, and for the price of my cruise, would expect stain-free carpet and not to see taped-together wood in a couple places. -This is the nature of HAL, so is more a mis-match for me as a youthful solo traveler, but a total lack of fun atmosphere. No club to dance, people my age acting much older, grumpy (how can you be unhappy when you get to go on a cruise???) and not everyone was unfriendly, but almost everyone seemed confused why someone would cruise alone. -NO gathering for solo travelers as I had seen on the Oosterdam schedule!! Read Less
Sail Date December 2012
I excitedly boarded the Carnival Inspiration for a four-day cruise to Catalina Island and Ensenada in Baja Mexico. The majestic Fantasy-class ship, built in Finland, can carry up to 3,450 passengers. With a 9-hole mini golf course, ... Read More
I excitedly boarded the Carnival Inspiration for a four-day cruise to Catalina Island and Ensenada in Baja Mexico. The majestic Fantasy-class ship, built in Finland, can carry up to 3,450 passengers. With a 9-hole mini golf course, Carnival WaterWorks water park, and a tropical resort-style pool, guests were enjoying the outside entertainment as the ship set sail to Catalina Island. My interior cabin, without a window, can accommodate four guests, yet is cozy for two people. The bed was comfortable and the bath efficient. There are two main dining rooms on the cruise and a sushi bar. Up on the Lido deck is a Mongolian BBQ, New York style deli, pizzeria, and bountiful salad bar. I dined in the main dining room and met my table mates. The vegetarian dishes were terrific. I was having a great time on the Inspiration watching the entertainment and strolling the various decks, until I received a call from home. My daughter had recently been involved in an auto accident and my family needed me. Since our first port was Catalina Island, I took an early boat the next morning into the city of Avalon and walked to The Catalina Express ticket office to see how quickly I could return to Long Beach. It's about a one-hour boat ride to Long Beach. After purchasing a one-way ticket home, I hopped back onto a boat to the Inspiration. I needed to inform guest services of my predicament. To my shock, a guest service agent informed me that I was not allowed to disembark in an American port due to the Jones Act. I could leave the ship in Ensenada, Mexico, but not in Catalina, California. How would I get back to the Carnival cruise terminal in Long Beach from Ensenada? Take a taxi to an airport, purchase a ticket to fly to Long Beach or LAX, and then take a cab to the cruise terminal? Or I could hire a taxi or bus to the Mexican/California border, then catch a cab to Long Beach? Both made my head dizzy with fear and anxiety. The guest service agent gave me another option after seeing my face pale with worry. She could email a message to a Customs official about my dilemma. There was no guarantee that Customs would allow me to disembark in an American port, however, if they granted my permission, I would have to pay a $300 fine for leaving the cruise ship. $300? That is how much I paid for my share of the cruise. Instead of a $600 trip, it would now cost $900. The guest service agent asked if I would be waiting in my cabin until she received a reply from Customs. I asked if I could leave the ship to sightsee Catalina Island and then come back to hear my fate? She gave me a phone number to contact her and asked for my cell phone number. Jack and I didn't take any excursion in Catalina. I packed my bags, and we took a Shore boat into Avalon. Thoughts raced through my head as we tried to figure out my best strategy to get home. Could Carnival Cruise Lines and Customs force me to stay onboard until we arrived in Ensenada? You bet. What if I just stayed in Avalon until my Catalina Express boat set sail? That would probably bring on a whole new slew of problems. Just before noon, I couldn't wait any longer and called the phone number the guest service lady handed me. It was a ship-to-shore number. An automated operator informed me that each minute would cost $9.75. Since I wasn't speaking to a live person, I could easily accumulate $100 worth of minutes, before my call was connected to a live voice. Instead, I boarded a Shore boat and returned to the Carnival Inspiration. Good News! The Custom official approved my disembarkation, the bad news, I would have to pay a $300 fine now. I was so relieved that I would now be home to my family within hours and not have to deal with trying to get home from Mexico, that I paid my fine and walked off the ship. When I returned home, I did my research about the Jones Act. President Woodrow Wilson signed the Jones Act in 1917. Also known as the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, it's intention was to ensure that the U.S. has a strong merchant marine during times of war. All goods that move between two domestic ports must do so on ships that are U.S. flagged and staffed. It prohibits foreign ships from touching two U.S. ports consecutively. I was considered "goods." Today only 1% of the large commercial vessels are built in the United States. Most of the ships are built in Italy and Finland and fly foreign flags to avoid paying higher taxes and wages to American employees. There is also a piece of U.S. legislation called the Passenger Vessel Services Act of 1886, which relates to cabotage. It states that "No foreign vessels shall transport passengers between ports or places in the United States, either directly or by way of a foreign port, under a penalty of $200 (now $300) for each passenger so transported and landed." Cruise ships pass the cost to passengers, however exemptions are available in case of a family emergency. To penalize a passenger who paid for a four-day cruise, yet needs to leave the cruise vacation early, is unfair. Read Less
Sail Date December 2012
I was extremely excited to cruise with a group of friends to Ensenada. School was out for the semester and we needed to get out of dodge! We were looking for relaxation and fun and Carnival delivered for the most part. I've cruised ... Read More
I was extremely excited to cruise with a group of friends to Ensenada. School was out for the semester and we needed to get out of dodge! We were looking for relaxation and fun and Carnival delivered for the most part. I've cruised Royal Caribbean twice before - once on a very comparable cruise to the Bahamas on the Majesty of the Seas (about the same size as the Inspiration). I was looking forward to giving Carnival a try - I'd heard good things from previous cruisers and was looking for an experience of my own. Boarding was great. We showed up at the port and headed to early check-in aboard the Queen Mary (pretty cool, actually). It took us a whopping three minutes to get checked in, so we got our boarding zone number (2) and headed off to tour the Queen Mary for a bit. Our zone was called just after eleven and we headed aboard - ready to start our vacation! When we walked into the atrium, I have to say the 1980's Vegas style didn't bug me like I thought it would. It was a little corny, but it was fun, and that's what we were there for. The cabin was a decent size and, like the rest of the ship, was very clean (if not a tiny bit outdated...the reading lamps were a little weird). It was a good size considering we had four guys sharing the interior room, and we had no problem unpacking all of our stuff for the four days (had we been girls...it probably wouldn't have been as easy). The food throughout the cruise was edible, but not very appetizing. While on Royal Caribbean there were always a number of choices that popped off the menu and stood out at the buffet, our whole group found ourselves asking just what we could stand that night. Definitely not how the menu on a cruise should be. The food itself was mostly poor, with a few exceptions (I'm looking at you, Chocolate Melting Cake...Yum!). Every beef dish seemed to have the exact same from-a-mix gravy. Each "different" bread was made with the same dough and had no variety. The mashed potatoes were more like paste than the fluff they should be. The desserts were okay and were usually the best part of the meal. I think you probably get the point. Edible...not great. The service was decent throughout the ship. I only met our steward once, but he seemed nice and always had our cabin clean and made-up. I had the "bottomless bubbles" package, and every time I went to a bar to get a Coke, the bartenders seemed very unhappy that they weren't serving a "paying" customer. Our dining room staff was ok. Ni, our waitress, had all of our names memorized by the end of the first night, but that was about the best of her service. The rest of the service was consistently slow; we were almost always the last out of the dining room, and not by choice. The cruise/entertainment staff was just fair as well. Our cruise director was very personable, but the activities were just...meh... You know you have a problem when the most exciting "Fun Ship" activity to a bunch of college kids was trivia (we did get a Ship on a Stick, though). The "parties" were fairly lame - even the midnight deck party/buffet that I was looking forward to most. The entertainment in the theater was very mediocre. The dancers were fantastic, but Carnival really needed more than two production singers in the show...they were always drowned out by the band, and they weren't great at all the genres they were supposed to sing. The one highlight was the kids from Camp Carnival singing in a special Christmas Show - way fun, and way Christmasy! Overall, our cruise was relaxing, and we made our own fun when the ship didn't have great things going on (which was most of the time). In fact, I think that's what most people did. I saw a lot of families playing card games, reading or just talking around the ship. Serenity deck was amazing - a great place to hot tub and read while overlooking the wake. My hot stone massage was great (except for the usual sales pitch afterward...but that's a given on a mass market cruise). Ensenada and La Bufadora were awesome (gotta love street fish tacos), but Catalina was canceled due to weather (not a problem - that's what we get for cruising in December). I may give Carnival one more shot on a newer, larger ship with a better itinerary. Maybe that will make a difference. But I never have to go on a Fantasy Class ship again... Read Less
Sail Date December 2012
This was my 3rd cruise and by far the worst. I'd go as far to say that it was one of the worst vacations I've ever been on. First off, the cruise ship is severely out-dated. Second of all, the food was terrible. You can order as ... Read More
This was my 3rd cruise and by far the worst. I'd go as far to say that it was one of the worst vacations I've ever been on. First off, the cruise ship is severely out-dated. Second of all, the food was terrible. You can order as much as you'd like, but one serving is plenty. You won't want to go back for more. By day 3, I had sharp stomach pains that lasted for over 12 hours. The ship is much smaller than the other 2 ships I've been on, so you could really feel the rocking of the boat. It took me 4 days to fully recover from the swaying motion and the other girls who I traveled with also experienced this. One particularly annoying aspect of the cruise was that they try to extort money out of you during the entire cruise - from sparkling water at dinner, to shots from the chef, to raffles where you have to purchase something to enter to classes at the fitness center. We even had to pay $2 to take a shuttle bus from the port to downtown Ensenada(which was a total tourist trap). Save your $400 and go elsewhere, unless you want to eat Sizzler style food every night and spend 8 hours in Ensenada where every shop sells the same junk. Read Less
Sail Date August 2011
Queen Victoria Voyage 105, Los Angeles-Ensenada-Los Angeles, February 2011. This was a short 4 day sampler cruise, drawing many passengers from the US West Coast. This cruise was per day, the most expensive I have ever taken, and chosen ... Read More
Queen Victoria Voyage 105, Los Angeles-Ensenada-Los Angeles, February 2011. This was a short 4 day sampler cruise, drawing many passengers from the US West Coast. This cruise was per day, the most expensive I have ever taken, and chosen because of Cunard's brochure hype about dancing. I therefore applied high standards to the dance environment on the ship. I was able to obtain information from passengers who had been on the previous Hawaii cruise, and also from experienced Cunarders, to verify my observations. Music and Dancing. The Queens Room is a large, two-deck high area supposedly based on one of Queen Victoria's residences The extra height, opening into the next deck, seems to help air circulation when full. The dance floor is about 25' x 50'. It is the most attractive ballroom I have seen on a ship. Hemispheres is located on Deck 10, behind the Commodore Club. Although much small than the Queens Room, is is also an attractive dance venue. The dance floor is large enough for Latin but unfortunately, the floor while wooden, includes a metal inlay. As one might expect, the metal and wood are shrinking at different rates, resulting is some rather uncomfortable raised edges. The following is the text of a letter sent to Cunard regarding the music. I was recently on Queen Victoria V105, Ensenada. I chose this trip over Cunard's competitors (notably, Cunard's sister line Costa) based on the promise of good music and dancing. I am pleased to report the recorded music played between band sets was excellent. While the DJ was not a dancer and did not always get the mix quite right, it was among the best I have ever heard on a ship. Whoever is responsible deserves a good bonus. However, I am being generous to say the Queens Room Orchestra was a disappointment. What music was within British Dance Council tempo ranges, was often by accident, something else having been announced. The noise emanating from the wind section was inexplicable. Several bars into the music, one of the horns would start inane tootling, totally out of sync with the tempo. Almost all of the complaints I heard about off-tempo music actually originated there. Even experienced dancers found it difficult to follow, the drummer not being very strong either. The Orchestra also had the usual problem of playing on and on; one passenger timed an already too-fast cha-cha at 7 minutes. As a Carnival shareholder, I question what cost/benefit calculation is being done, to justify such mediocre music. I was told that voyage V104, passengers walked out in disgust, leaving the band to play to an empty room. I understand some easy-listening, non-dance music is required, but what is the demand for "bossas" and "shuffles", whatever they are? The band Changez was capable of decent Latin rhythms, even some nice ballroom, when they tried, although they often slipped into Caribbean-y mishmash for 20 or 30 minutes at a time. I like many things about the Queen Victoria, but with such unreliable music, I cannot recommend it to any of the dance groups I travel with. The Commodore Club is not a dance venue, although it is one of the most attractive lounges at sea. Food The menu and portion sizes are geared to British tastes. I was very satisfied with the food, but there were just a few too many not-quite-right issues to warrant an unqualified 5. Pub lunch is available in the Golden Lion, and is very popular. Cabins Cunard operates a three-class system. Each class has its own restaurant. Queens Grill and Princess Grill are open seating, Britannia is fixed dining. The Grills also have a (small) reserved lounge and deck area. Otherwise, the ship is open to all. I was traveling in Britannia class. I found my cabin to be nearly identical to most others I have traveled in, one notable item being a shortage of shelves in the bathroom. Dress Code- When Cunard says formal, they mean it: tuxedo, or a dark suit. Jackets required every night in the restaurant (not the buffet). For a short, US West Coast sailing, the dress code was well respected, I saw only one t-shirt/blue jeans. This is apparently better than a UK Bank Holiday cruise. Activities- As this was a very short cruise, only a few activities were scheduled. There were no Captain's receptions. Value For Money- Average, with the proviso that the live music did not live up to the brochure hype. For me, that meant the cruise was not worthwhile. Read Less
Sail Date February 2011
I had room 1083 right behind the big screen TV. I never heard a peep out of the big screen and I only hear one set of adults being loud in the corridor. It was extremely quite up there for a cruise ship and I was hugely pleased with the ... Read More
I had room 1083 right behind the big screen TV. I never heard a peep out of the big screen and I only hear one set of adults being loud in the corridor. It was extremely quite up there for a cruise ship and I was hugely pleased with the room. Very large and comfortable for a solo person. That was for a cruise I just finished last week. I have cabin number 1077 for this cruise in Oct of 2011. That (the cruise this thread is about) is exactly one year and one week from the one I just finished. That's about 355 days away. LOL. I'm an avid outdoors-man but I was still a little anxious to head out into the streets of Mexico on my own. I met a very young couple in Long Beach as they were getting off and I was just starting my cruise and they said that one of the best adventures they'd ever had was the Extreme Canopy in Puerto Vallarta. I remembered them saying that and I signed up on ship the night before that port on a whim. They met us with signs just as we stepped off the ship. We took a speed boat all the way across Banderas Bay. We went ashore at a tiny but absolutely charming and beautiful traditional sleepy spanish fishing village. We boarded WWII Mercedes troop carrier 4-wheel drive trucks and slogged up a very steep cobblestone road as far as the jeep/truck could carry us into the Sierra Madre Mountains then we saddled up on mules for as far as the mules could carry us then we hiked to the top of the mountain. That adventure was absolutely a blast....and then we did the zip line....or 10 zip lines and 2 rappels back down to the 4 wheel drive trucks then back down to the beach/fishing village where most drank as many iced down Coronas as they could down before the speed boat took us back to the ship. I can't wait to do the same next year. In Mazatlan I got braze and struck out on my own. I walked to the waterfront to the $2 water taxi based on directions I read on the Internet. Went over to the "Island" which isn't an island and walked over some rocks until the grass huts appeared where I found ATVs, restaurants with sand floors that served Coconut Shrimp, and Randi of Randis Happy Horses....who was telling her story of being an Expat and basically a bail-out from the hustle and bustle of American city life...for the price of an ice cold Margarita at 11AM. I ate my shrimp then rented an ATV and went south on the beach for at least 25 miles and never saw another human being. When I came back across the water taxi I asked a taxi driver if he had ever heard of the Huicholes Indians? He said but shop owner in Old Mazatlan had and pointed me to a small place that sold there art. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Huichol and I bought some of their wonderful art. Originally I had intended to watch the sunup and sun down on the ship everyday and just poke around town while in ports but the two grand adventures I stumbled upon in the previous ports lent to a search for a third in Cabo. And I found it. This is me doing that. Read Less
Sail Date October 2010
After all the planning, work outs, shopping, & anticipation, we finally met up by midnight at the LA hotel recommended by Tripadvisor & AAA. We might be 55 year olds but that night we were like college kids as we gathered & ... Read More
After all the planning, work outs, shopping, & anticipation, we finally met up by midnight at the LA hotel recommended by Tripadvisor & AAA. We might be 55 year olds but that night we were like college kids as we gathered & shared our excitement! We woke the day of departure; imagine our shock as we watched FOX News cover the tragedy of the Chilean earthquake. When they brought up the tsunami warning, we knew we were in for possible disappointment. This is when we knew we were right to buy trip insurance. I called Princess immediately & sat on hold until the rep told me that they had calls in to the authorities & would call us if the trip would be affected. We decided to hope for the best & go ahead with our embarkation plans. Our personal shuttle arrived at noon, graciously took us to our wine shop so we could stock up, & off we went to the LA Harbor. The baggage handlers along side the ship were so much fun -- thanks guys for your warm welcome! Our 3 first time cruisers were WOWED by their initial visual of the ship. The embarkation process was perfect, the best of the 3 cruise lines I've been on. In the waiting area, we watched the news as Princess made periodic announcements that the harbor was closed by the Coast Guard due to the tsunami. In my opinion, the waiting passengers handled the delay well. There may not have been enough seating for everyone but this never happened before so why would there be. We may have waited an hour before they made the happy announcement that the gangway had been lowered & embarkation had begun. The Sapphire Princess was the first ship out of the harbor once the Coast Guard made the decision. We 8 ladies went to the covered front of the ship to experience the trip out to open sea. We said a silent prayer for our neighbors in Chile. The remainder of the trip was a wonderfully normal cruise. The high points of the cruise were: 1. mini-suite balcony. We had two mini-suites & two interior cabins. It is worth the extra dollars to have the larger balcony when traveling with a group as we shared the space with our friends. If it were just my hubby & I, the regular balcony would be fine. 2. Princess allows celebratory wine/champagne to be brought on board. We were celebrating a pending retirement, a birthday & a graduation & Princess' understanding allowed us to celebrate together in our suite. This is why I recommend Princess above the other lines I've cruised. 3. The ship's size. Sapphire is the perfect size. Who wants to sail with 3000 passengers? We had no trouble finding deck chairs, outdoor seating for our Horizon Court breakfasts, lounge seats for the jewelry show, etc. I have zero desire to sail on any super sized cruise ships, even if the fare is less on them. 4. Our traditional dining experience. Traditional dining IS the cruise experience. You can go to a restaurant at home (freestyle dining), why would you do the same old thing on a cruise? I prefer the late seating because we have time to return from our excursions, get all gussied up, have a glass of wine & still make it to the table on time. We were blessed with the perfect waiters, Alan and Joel from the Philippines. (Alan is sacrificing time at home because he is putting his daughter through medical school). Every guest should get to know their waiters on a personal level; it so enhances the cruise experience! We know they see a new table of guests every week but the way they treated us made us feel like we were special every night. We tipped them very generously. Hello Alan and Joel! 5. Skywalker Lounge. We had along one daughter for whom this trip was her graduation gift She actually likes to be with us eve though some of us are old enough to be her grandma. We took her to the Skywalker Lounge every night so she could dance the night away &that she did. If some of the crew were up there they made it a point to dance with her a few times & we got out there to dance too.We helped her make wonderful life long memories. 6. Shipboard activities. Our group really enjoyed the dancing,exercising & entertainment opportunities on board the ship. We ended up in the ship's video more than once. The crew were full of energy, they appear everywhere &they work hard to make the days at sea fun. We really appreciated what they were doing for the passengers. If we suggested any improvements, they would be: A. the latte bar needs a selection of sugar free skinny latte choices. B. Revamp the nighttime entertainment. That's where we found fault. We thought the dance company costuming absolutely STUNK. Giant gold lame' stars on a man's shirt/pants? Come ON! Talk about emasculating a person. The costuming was circa 1970. The average age on the ship was 55. Hey, we're the baby boomers. The music too; how many years will we hear covers of 45 year old Neil Diamond songs? Let's get a little more current. They had talent but their creativity had been squashed. We stopped going to the shows because they were so sappy. The Island Princess (2008) had more current content. The ship group, the Babydolls, lead singer was not good either, but the thin singer was great. Loudness will not cover a substandard voice. We felt that the karaoke contests had much better voices so we went there whenever there was a performance. Read Less
Sail Date February 2010
My husband does not relax like "normal people" and, unless they would agree to let him work in the engine room for the duration, cruising doesn't appeal to him. I absolutely love it, so off I went on my own. Embarkation in ... Read More
My husband does not relax like "normal people" and, unless they would agree to let him work in the engine room for the duration, cruising doesn't appeal to him. I absolutely love it, so off I went on my own. Embarkation in LA was extremely efficient, no more than twenty minutes from curbside to stateroom. My stateroom was clean and comfortable. Odd duck that I am, I seem to be one of the few that has never had a complaint about Princess' mattresses. My only complaint about the ship was an occasional "funky" odor in the hallway and on the Promenade Deck. That and the fact that I did not do my homework well enough to realize that the Video Arcade was directly above my stateroom. Small inconveniences, not enough to obsess about. I opted for traditional dining at a table for ten, knowing that while I was not obligated to eat there every night my chair would be waiting for me without reservations should I choose to. My table-mates were varied and interesting. Overall the food was good, some of it excellent. While the service provided by my particular waiter was not as good as I had experienced in the past, it was by no means poor. The deck stewards and buffet stewards were wonderfully friendly and attentive. I liked the fact that the Sapphire has deck chairs on the Promenade Deck, great for reading or just watching the ocean go by. I took the Ultimate Ship's Tour, offered on our last sea day. Although it was a tad pricey I felt it was worth every penny and would recommend it to anyone who's curiosity radar goes off when they see a "Crew Only" doorway. From what I understand a lottery is done on those who have signed up and only a small group is taken (there were eleven of us). Photos are not allowed, but we were accompanied by a member of the photography staff and the pictures she took, as well as a chef's coat and plush robe were delivered to our staterooms that evening. We toured the backstage areas of the Princess Theater with some of the performers, The Medical Center with the Doctor (who is an absolute hoot!), the Galley with the Executive Chef (who had a lovely snack waiting), The print shop, photo lab and laundry with the Purser, the Engine Control Room with the Chief Engineer, and we climbed up into the funnel with the Staff Captain. Last stop was the Bridge where the Captain posed for individual photos and presented each of us with a souvenir of our voyage. My advice to all cruisers, be it first-timers or seasoned, is that your trip is what you make of it. Treat your servers and stewards with respect and you will get wonderful service. When you have to wait for an elevator, look around, realize where you are and how lucky you are to be there. My cruise was not perfect, but it was wonderful. Read Less
Sail Date October 2009
Getting there and embarkation: For me getting to Long Beach was a simple ride of just over thirty minutes. Although I will admit there are times for other cruises I have spent the night at the Queen Mary in Long Beach just to watch my ... Read More
Getting there and embarkation: For me getting to Long Beach was a simple ride of just over thirty minutes. Although I will admit there are times for other cruises I have spent the night at the Queen Mary in Long Beach just to watch my "ship-come-in". A day or so before the cruise, Carnival called and requested that we not show up until 2pm on the date of departure. Since I usually get to Long Beach at around 11am and am having my first DOD by noon, I compromised and got there at around 12:30pm. Unlike my last cruise I ran into absolutely no lines during the check-in or embarkation. Well, there were about 20 people in front of me on the gangway, but that is because they stopped the line to move something around on the walkway. All-in-all it took me less than 25 minutes from arriving at Long Beach to get on the ship. There were people at the elevator directing people to go to the Lido deck to wait for their cabins, which they said would be ready by 2pm. Since I am so good at following directions I hustled up to the Lido deck for a DOD. The "Fun Ship", always one of my favorites! I grabbed some lunch, another DOD, wandered the Lido deck, and dang it wasn't 2pm yet. Headed toward my cabin anyway, and found that pesky sign hanging on the hallway doors saying that the cabins were not ready yet. So, I opened the door and walked through. Not a soul in sight. Opened the cabin door no problem, and looked around. The Cabin: I had booked a Category 11 suite. I was absolutely surprised. On the Paradise I get a Cat. 12 suite, which I typically never use the sitting area, and I swear this Cat.11 on the Splendor was so much more efficiently set up. Because of the proximity of the sitting area in this suite, it was actually used more! There were two closets, one in the dressing area before the bathroom, and one by the beds. Now, when you have multiple people in the cabin this is priceless. There also appeared to be larger drawer spaces. The balcony was of ample size it just seemed less deep than the Paradise. Unpacked, ready to go, I headed back toward the Lido deck where some nice folks from CruiseCritic.com, had planned on a Meet & Greet. Then off we go to the Muster Drill... After Muster drill I go back to the Lido deck for a bit of the Sail Away party, than back to the cabin to clean up for dinner. I spent a bit of time at the various game shows, and the like after dinner, than off to the Casino. The Ship: I have heard many complaints about the ship being too pink. Actually looks like a washed out mauve to me, but I found nothing distasteful or gaudy with it. Personally, I like pink polka dots! I found her easy to navigate. Being basically in the center of the ship had it's advantages. The Ports of Call, etc: Monday and Tuesday were sea days. They went by rather quickly. These days were spent eating, going to various ship activities, eating, gambling, drinking, and eating some more. Monday was the first cruise elegant night on the ship. So, before my (almost) last meal of the day, I got all dolled up and went to dinner. Where, yes I did order both the prime rib and lobster. On Tuesday, some of us from the CruiseCritic's group got together and did a cabin crawl and were able to see a variety of cabins across the ship. This was fun and useful, in helping me plan where I might want to be located next cruise. Wednesday, I was up early and watched us dock in Puerto Vallarta. By 9am it was already 90 plus degrees outside with 89% humidity. I had only one thing planned for PV, and that was a signature swim with the dolphins. I had breakfast and headed for my excursion. We were water taxied over to the swim sight. That took about 15 - 20 minutes. There was a 20 minute introduction to dolphins, and safety measures. After which we were herded off the dolphin pools (tanks). There was no "locker" as it stated in the brochure, you were given a cubby hole to put your belongings. They did provide towels at the end, so if you go, there is no need to lug the towel from the ship. Leave all your jewelry in the safe on the ship, because you cannot wear your watches and rings into the pool. They fit you with a life vest and you get in the water. You are in a group about 10 people, with 2 dolphins that are yours for the next hour. My dolphins were both 10 months pregnant. They were a mother and daughter. Every now and then the alpha male dolphin or one of the younger dolphins would start a ruckus on the other side of the pool, so we had to stop and go back to the edge of the pool. While you are in the water, there is nothing but the edge of the pool to hang on to. You cannot touch bottom. The dolphins swim in and around you, they take various pictures and the last thing you do is "ride" the dolphin back to the point were you get out of the pool. You can pay a reduced price for someone in your party to just observe and take pictures if you want. The pictures they take are pretty expensive. $99 for 8 pictures, and since they only really take 3 or 4 of you, you may wind up buying more than you need. It is a very nice efficient photo system. They put them on a computer and you chose the ones you want. They can print them or put them on a CD. They also feed you lunch, but I was told by some that ate it, it really was not very good. I had bottled water and a soda, both free. After taking the water taxi back to the ship, I decided it would be best to shower and put on fresh clothes before venturing back out into PV. Well, you know what they say about the best laid plans of mice and men (or apparently women on a cruise). When I got back to my stateroom, I went in to wash my hands, and there was no water. Nope none! Not a drop. I opened the stateroom door and there were some workers in the hallway which I apparently was oblivious to when I walked in 2 minutes prior. A pipe had burst leaving my cabin and 6 others without water. It would be about an hour before it was fixed. So, seeing how I already had my suit on, and it was hotter than heck. I headed toward the Lido deck, to get a nice cold DOD. (And, of course some food...) Probably would have showered in one of those showers near the pool area, but decided that taking my shampoo and room towel up there was probably not a good idea. Since I was already hot and sweaty and my cabin mate needed to get some closed toe shoes for our "Behind the Fun" tour of the ship on Saturday; we decided to walk over to Walmart. Yep, I just sailed for two and a half days to go shopping at Walmart! We stopped at the little flea market outside the area where the ship docked. There is also some shopping and places to eat after you enter the controlled area. When we got back to our room, our water was back on, and the shower felt terrific! The bad part about early dining is that if you really want to dine in the dining room, it is almost a rushed occurrence at the end of the day. Late dining is too late for me, and I know there is always the Lido deck. But I do like the sit-down thingy. I believe in January, the Splendor goes to the "anytime dining". Thursday we got to Mazatlan, where again it was painfully hot and humid. Heat index of about 112! I got off the ship long enough to take a ride around town and get back on to the comfort of my favorite Lido deck bar, and the DODs. Now, the ride through town lasted about 90 minutes and my cab driver gave quite a bit of history, and even stopped a few times for some photos. Total charge $20 plus tip! During dinner, the ship stopped for a medical emergency and took someone off the ship. Friday, we tendered into Cabo San Lucas, went to a beachy area, went to some shops, petted a baby tiger, and had some breakfast. Cabo is a quick stop, and we were lucky to get off the ship and back on during the time the wait for the tender was not long. Saturday, our last was our last sea day. I took the 3 ½ hour "Behind the Fun" tour. The cost was $95, but it was worth it. They must have given us over $50 of goodies after the tour. We got to go to the main galley, the Steak house galley, the laundry, the crews quarters and mess, the infirmary, the morgue, the "jail", behind the stage, the engine control room, the bridge, the bow of the ship by the ships bell (which is the crews deck area), the Captain's dining room, and the environmental area where they recycle everything. It was very informative, and the time passed rather quickly. (Files/Behind the Fun.pdf) The Food: Since I keep bringing up food... let me just say this.... There is NO food shortage on this ship. I was amazed at the variety. There is a Burrito Bar, Mongolian BBQ, a Sushi bar (hrs from about 5 to 8pm), a Rotisserie Chicken place, a nice deli, a grill, the pizzeria, and then the buffets. (and I think I forgot a couple of places!) Numerous drink and ice cream stations are located all over the place. The lemonade and icetea were better than most ships I have been on. Plus the glasses and coffee cups are larger than I have normally seen. If you want to spend the extra $30/person you can eat at the Pinnacle Steak Room. The folks that I talked to that went raved about the food. All I can say that anyone that goes on this ship and tells me they can't find anything that they can eat, needs to stop cruising! I found the quality and variety of food to be much better than on my July sailing on the Paradise. I was more than pleased with all the service on this ship. The crew was exceptional. From Goose the cruise director, Michael, and Leslie the asst. CD. My room steward Rio was absolutely the best. My wait staff, Richard and Mohammed were funny and efficient. My favorite bartender Yulia, served me on both the Lido deck and the aft lounge in the evenings. The Maitre d' Miguel was a sharp tongued witty person. So, in a nutshell here is what I enjoyed on this cruise: The service - from stem to stern was stellar The food - was good, some was terrific, didn't have anything bad The activities - plentiful My "Behind the Fun" tour and pictures with Captain Pagano (he is the one in the commercial that tells the kook that sounds the horn to get out!) I enjoyed not losing my butt in the Casino, and becoming an official members of the Player's club and enjoyed some free drinks there. Here is what I didn't enjoy::::: Hmm, well, actually, there was nothing that I didn't enjoy. The weather was not Carnival's doing, so I can't blame the heat and humidity on them. Although I know there are some out there that will try! Now, the broken water pipe, well although it was a minor inconvenience, I think it was handled in a timely efficient manner and really with little disruption. I was never worried, as I knew too many people on the ship that would have "loaned" me the use of their shower. The extras: We had a Captain's reception on the Promenade Deck where drinks were a dollar off. We had a past guest party with free drinks and snacks. Pins and invitations delivered to the room. We had a farewell party with free drinks. We had two cruise elegant nights, Monday and Friday. Monday was Lobster or Prime Rib. Friday was Prime Rib, and they had escargot for an appetizer. We were able to buy $100 certificates for the next cruise. It is a good deal, gives you $100 toward the down payment when you book and $100 on board credit (depending on cabin type). It is good for 5 years and if you can't use it, you just send it back and they send you your $100 back.(Files/Future Cruise.pdf) I hope if you go on this ship you have a Splendid time! Read Less
Sail Date September 2009
I don't want to get long winded on this one. Two of my friends have put up with me blabbing about cruising for years so they finally said let's go. With me and one friend in Dallas and the other in Phoenix, LA or San Diego ... Read More
I don't want to get long winded on this one. Two of my friends have put up with me blabbing about cruising for years so they finally said let's go. With me and one friend in Dallas and the other in Phoenix, LA or San Diego seemed the best choice for departure. I am a fan of the larger ships and now that Mariner is doing the Mexican Riveria, it was the most logical choice. Pricing on this cruise was incredible. We ended up in an Owner's Suite for about $1300 per person plus tax and tip. I have cruised in inside cabins, oceanview cabins and balconies but never a suite. You know the saying that once you have flown first class, it's hard to go back? Well, it's true. Our cabin had almost 700 s.f. The decor was much higher quality than a regular cabin and the balcony was huge. We did offer it up to the cabin crawl and I believe everyone else was quite impressed. I just hope to have the opportunity in the future to travel in this class of cabin again. We arrived in at LAX on Saturday and our friend from Phoenix picked us up. We drove straight to Long Beach and checked in to a brand new hotel called the AVIA-Long Beach. It is a very modern and boutique style hotel. I highly recommend it. We got at AAA rate for $105 for the night. The roof top pool was a great place to start our vacation overlooking the Queen Mary. Being located at an area called the Pike and just a short walk from Pine St. and the Shoreline Village, made this a great place to relax before embarking on Sunday. We enjoyed a late lunch on the water front and then just relaxed the rest of the evening at the hotel. On Sunday, we got up around 9 a.m. and walked down Pine St and had breakfast at a great little place called the Omlette Inn? Went back to the hotel, checked out and took the 10 minute drive to San Pedro. We unloaded our bags with a porter, went inside and checked in and we were on the ship in 15 minutes. This was about 11:30 and the cabins were not ready till 1:00 so I took them on a tour and then we had lunch at the Windjammer. Straight to the cabin right after at 1:00 and opened the door to our Owner's Suite (too bad we are not the actual owners...lol...I would never leave). After unpacking, we headed out to deck and started what would be a week of too much imbibing...4:00 came quickly and we headed to muster which is much better without life jackets....thanks to whomever allowed this to happen.. After muster,we went to the Sky Bar to meet up with fellow CC'rs and then to the Crown Lounge for my traditional Dirty Martini for sailaway. After this, the rest of the day is a little hazy on details...lol...but one thing that happened that was not so good was our luggage was still not at the room by 9 p.m. Our stateroom attendant was looking for it but did not know where it was. I finally called guest relations and was told it was being held by security. She said they left a message but there was not one on our phone. As this was my friend's first cruise and I had been bragging about RC and the service and especially since we were in a suite, I got a little angry at this point. We went down to deck one and they said there was a sharp instrument which turned out to be a cuticle trimmer. I was pissed...how do you high jack a cruise ship with "insert your own words here" cuticle cutter. Plus, why would you hold up 7 bags of luggage for one bag? I walked around the corner and there was the rest of our luggage. We all grabbed our bags and took them up to the room. I was suprised at this point that security had not had a word with me as I was being guite verbal....which goes back to the imbibing thing I mentioned earlier. I am not proud of it but this is what happened. I then headed to guest relations and kept up my angry demeanor. The GR agent was apologetic and asked what he could do. I told him whatever he thought was the right thing to do. We got a phone call and cheese tray....oh well....I know this sounds like a "prima donna" thing but as the instigator of my friends taking their first cruise, and paying extra for a suite, I was just embarrased and took it a little to personal. But, we all got over it quickly and enjoyed the evening. We ate in Chops, Portofino's, Main Dining, Johnny Rockets and room service during the week. Not any issues to talk about. The food was great and the service good. Being in a suite, we did use the concierge lounge and enjoyed the coffee, appetizers and "free" cocktails. Allen even let us take beers back to the cabin to watch the Cowboys game... Our fave bar was Ellington's in the Crown Lounge....Jose(?) was great to talk to and made some awesome drinks.... Second was the Schooner bar...great live music... The shows, not so good. Not for lack of trying....the performer's were great but the production was just lacking in imagination...the big exception being the Ice Show...we were WOW'd... How some good times and bad times in the Casino...did not care for all the smokers...really intense in that area... We did enjoy the pool quite a bit...it was crowded but always a seat to be found...well that's because they have a reserved area for suite guests...lol...no really, it never got crazy... The weather was varied...cool coming out of California, very hot in Cabo and Mazatlan, ok in Puerto Vallarta, good on the 1st sea day going back and then we hit a cool front on our last day at sea...there was some rocking of the ship but it did not affect us too much. I brought Ginger tablets and took twice a day. After using the patch which made me feel wierd, this was a better alternative. The Mariner of the Seas is overall a great ship...very clean, friendly staff, and great service. They were doing quite a bit of repair and maintenance during our cruise which I have never seen done before on the 7 other cruises I have taken. I understand the need but it did detract from the "vacation" feeling and being away from the real world. I am talking about carpet being replaced and stairways being closed, parts of the pool deck roped off while they dug out the grout, etc....replacing the jogging track which required sanders, etc...Maybe they decided this week was ok to do this because we all got such great cruise fares....lol... We did not do any RC excursions. I enjoy setting off on my own adventures which allows you to experience things at your own pace and price. Overall, this was a great cruise except for the few bumps I mentioned... Embarkation was easy as we walked off the ship with our luggage, jumped in the car and we were at LAX by 9:30 a.m..... But, my saying, well somebodies saying anyways is I would rather have a bad day on vacation than no vacation at all....Looking forward to the next one... Read Less
Sail Date September 2009
Ship Info: Carnival Elation Activities: Great activities for guests planned daily from hairy chest contest, guest talent show, karaoke, comedy shows, and live bands playing through out the ship. Service: Amazing service from the DJ, ... Read More
Ship Info: Carnival Elation Activities: Great activities for guests planned daily from hairy chest contest, guest talent show, karaoke, comedy shows, and live bands playing through out the ship. Service: Amazing service from the DJ, waiters, stewards staff. The entertainment staff was super friendly and professional. room service was always fast and very friendly. the photographers on the ship remembered teh guests and even said Hi when we saw them on their days off. Even the DJ, Dj Paul from Peru, at the Jekyll & Hyde night club was awesome and would play the best music to get everyone dancing. We would go to the club every night because the music he played was so good and he was not bad looking either ;) Port & Shore Excursions: Port and shore excursions were overpriced. Travel To Port of Embarkation: We live in San Diego so the port was minutes away and took less than 30 minutes to get on the ship. Stateroom: Riviera Dining: Imagination dining room was great we chose the "your time" and that worked out great. We never had to wait in line to be seated and we would go eat dinner whenever we wanted. We also got to be seated with random guests form the ship and we loved it because we got to meet new friends. Children's Clubs: N/A Entertainment: The entertainment on the Carnival Elation was great. Like I mentioned earlier the entertainment staff went out of their way to get everyone to dance, conga line, and they were all up beat and having a great time with the guests. Again I cant mention how amazing the DJ was, he knew exactly what to play and had the best personality and smile I've ever seen. Disembarkation: It did take a long time but it was pretty smooth once we got called off the ship. We actually didnt want to leave the ship since we had such a great experience. Read Less
Sail Date August 2009
Mariner of the Seas - June 21 - 28, 2009First 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.  ... Read More
Mariner of the Seas - June 21 - 28, 2009First 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 11:00am.  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 Set Sail Pass 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 noon, 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 12:30 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 1:00pm 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 4:15.  We leave at 5:00pm 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 5:30 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 7:00am 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 6:46am.  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 11:00am, 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 10:00pm 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.    st1\:* { BEHAVIOR: url(#ieooui) } TABLE.ae_noborder { BORDER-BOTTOM: #cccccc 1px dashed; BORDER-LEFT: #cccccc 1px dashed; BORDER-COLLAPSE: collapse; BORDER-TOP: #cccccc 1px dashed; BORDER-RIGHT: #cccccc 1px dashed } TABLE.ae_noborder TR TD { BORDER-BOTTOM: #cccccc 1px dashed; BORDER-LEFT: #cccccc 1px dashed; BORDER-TOP: #cccccc 1px dashed; BORDER-RIGHT: #cccccc 1px dashed } 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 noon.  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 8:20am, 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 8:30am 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 10:30am and made the 10:45 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 11:00am.  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 7:30am).  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 Stone Island.  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 4:00 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 five twenty 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 9:00pm.  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.  st1\:* { BEHAVIOR: url(#ieooui) } TABLE.ae_noborder { BORDER-BOTTOM: #cccccc 1px dashed; BORDER-LEFT: #cccccc 1px dashed; BORDER-COLLAPSE: collapse; BORDER-TOP: #cccccc 1px dashed; BORDER-RIGHT: #cccccc 1px dashed } TABLE.ae_noborder TR TD { BORDER-BOTTOM: #cccccc 1px dashed; BORDER-LEFT: #cccccc 1px dashed; BORDER-TOP: #cccccc 1px dashed; BORDER-RIGHT: #cccccc 1px dashed } 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 8:30pm, 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 8:00am 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 11:30, so, instead of brunch, I’m going to have lunch.  I am surprised at how dead the ship is.  It is after 9:00am 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 10:00am 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 noon.  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 5:48am.  My watch said it was 6:20am.  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 6:30am, it was only 5:30am.  In case you are interested, the ship is pretty much dead at 5:30 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 noon 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 midnight, 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 7:20am 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 8:50am 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.  The link to the photo album is … http://travel.webshots.com/album/573273143cjeyif 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).  Read Less
Sail Date June 2009
It all started when a "rookie" Carnival Agent could not figure how to "check us in" at the Long Beach terminal. We waited, and waited, and waited for 30 minutes. She said she was in "training" and we had to ... Read More
It all started when a "rookie" Carnival Agent could not figure how to "check us in" at the Long Beach terminal. We waited, and waited, and waited for 30 minutes. She said she was in "training" and we had to be patient. ??? Then, when we went to receive Ship Identification Card, the woman handed us an envelope with the "wrong" cards! They couldn't locate my partner's, but another passenger came running back to the table yelling, "I'm not this person." Luckily for me, she had my card. The Carnival agents and staff made us feel like it was "our fault," that the cards couldn't be located. We were shuffled from one table to the next. We never received an apology and they never offered an explanation as to the whereabouts of our cards. We were told that once we got aboard, we would have to "stand in line" for a new one. At the check in point aboard ship, they asked for my partner's Card. We tried to explain to them what happened they were rude to us and treated us as though we were "inconveniencing" them and "holding" up the line of passengers. Once we got my partner's card, the purser informed us that we never checked in with our Credit Card for on-board purchases. Once again, we were treated as though it was our fault that the Carnival Agent was incompetent at the point of check in. When we arrived to our balcony room, it had not been thoroughly cleaned and there were hairpins, trash, and dirt on the counter along with plastic bags left from the previous guests in the drawers. The room had an odor, too. The worst part of the 7 day cruise was the number of children who monopolized the entire ship. We never had an opportunity to get into the pool, a jacuzzi or enjoy any of the ship activities because of the number of children and teenagers aboard. The parents of these children let them run rampant. We never dined on the Lido deck, as the children were a sea of gluttony. The fitness area was always packed and if we wanted to use the spa area, we had to pay $35 a day per person and even then, we were lucky if we could find a space to "sit." Carnival touts their Therapy pool in all of their ads, but if you want to use it, it will cost you $35 a day per person. We found the Spa staff to be unfriendly and unwilling to help us schedule appointments for treatment, as they said, "We're too busy with all of the guests." Why would be spend money to be treated like cattle at the spa? There is an adult "sun" deck, which just so happens to be located beneath the outdoor "miniature golf." Need I write any more about the experience. On the plus side, (thank goodness for something for our $2500 vacation) were the nights of excellent shows, food and moonlight views from our balcony. That's as good as it got. I will not book another cruise on the Carnival Splendor. Read Less
Sail Date April 2009
Got to the Spirit from Sacramento. Had a TERRIBLE embarkation - waited 3.5 hours before finally getting aboard. Nobody knew what they were doing - it was a bad joke. Got to my stateroom during the muster station drill. Went directly to ... Read More
Got to the Spirit from Sacramento. Had a TERRIBLE embarkation - waited 3.5 hours before finally getting aboard. Nobody knew what they were doing - it was a bad joke. Got to my stateroom during the muster station drill. Went directly to bed. I went on a "Singles Cruise" but found out that mostly the "singles" were men over 60. I'm a 44 year old guy. Ugh - very few women. Lotsa older people and families - not the "FUN" ship I imagined. My stateroom was nice and the staff was friendly. However, I will NEVER go on Carnival again unless they change their television situation. Not that I'm going on a cruise to watch TV, but I'm there to relax. I'm not going to "party all the time" and wanted to watch some of the NFL games and NBA games. All Carnival had was 3 Denver channel, CNN & TNT. Worse yet, the TNT was in spanish. Come on now, this is 2008!! - the last thing I want to watch is CNN with all the world troubles. The staff was oblivious to this problem and was verbally harassed by some mad football fans. Very disappointing. Acapulco was great - Ixtapa was a pain to get to with the tender boats and Manzanillo sucked. When I opened my balcony door, it was like we were docked at the Long Beach shipping yard. One nice thing was the spa - had a very nice seawood wrap and the staff was excellent. The room service was quite prompt, but the food stunk - ordered a ham sandwich - got the ham smashed between 2 pieces of Wonder Bread. Umm, fine cuisine!! All in all, a below average cruise. I would not recommend it. Read Less
Sail Date November 2008

Find a Cruise

Easily compare prices from multiple sites with one click