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517 Royal Caribbean Mexican Riviera Cruise Reviews

We previously sailed on Royal’s Independence on the Seas. We enjoyed the cruise so much, we decided to try Liberty of the Seas, and booked while onboard. Overall, we had a wonderful trip, and this is a beautiful ship. I am a big fan of ... Read More
We previously sailed on Royal’s Independence on the Seas. We enjoyed the cruise so much, we decided to try Liberty of the Seas, and booked while onboard. Overall, we had a wonderful trip, and this is a beautiful ship. I am a big fan of the Freedom Class ships. My favorite part about the entire trip was our enormous balcony cabin. The service on this ship was also absolutely, positively, outstanding. They made us feel at home and that we were never a bother. We loved everyone we encountered on the ship. We enjoyed the venues, the food and the entertainment. Here is a breakdown: PRE-HOTEL STAY We arrived two days early and stayed at the now Residence Inn (formerly the ii Lugano) on the intercoastal. It is pricier than some of the standard hotels, but it was absolutely lovely, and I would highly recommend. The rooms were beautifully decorated, and offered a washer/dryer, kitchen and large spaces with a huge balcony. They also provided a hot breakfast in the morning. They do not offer free transportation, but the concierge will set up transport for you. We found the location to be excellent if you don’t mind being a bit away from the cruise port. It was next to a BoKampers, and there was a Walgreens nearby. There were several little restaurants nearby that you could walk to. The hotel also has a restaurant on site. EMBARKATION Embarkation was a lengthy process, filled with many lines. We didn’t experience this on Independence. It took about an hour and a half, but we were finally heading toward the ship. On Indy, there were no lines, we just walked up to the desk, which was amazing. Not so much this time. I wish they offered Faster to the Fun like Carnival. It is worth the extra cost to avoid lines. SODA/ALCOHOL PACKAGE We love that Royal allows you to choose from several different packages. EACH person gets to choose whether they want a package or not. It is NOT required that each guest in the same cabin purchase the same package as required on Carnival. I purchased the water package and the soda package. ENTERTAINMENT I loved the entertainment on Independence, it was a bit more fitting for what we prefer. It had more juggling/comedian and live musical entertainment. Liberty had Saturday Night Fever, a juggler, aerialists, and other singing/dancing, but quite as suited to our taste. Although it was very good, it wasn’t our preference. My entire family loved and just raved about the ice show. That was likely the favorite of all. This is amazing and a MUST do on any ship that provides the option. Don’t miss any ice show, it is just a wonderful experience. SHIP The ship is beautiful and does provide a WOW factor that Royal is known for. The promenade is gorgeous, and allows for many spots to sit and enjoy meeting others or people watching. We loved the solarium area, but when laying out, there isn’t much of a breeze, so we preferred to head up to the higher decks. I still love that they have swings that overlook the ocean. We never found a spot to sit there, but they were obviously well liked by many. The gym was very large and spacious, and they offer numerous classes to partake in for an extra fee. Since I was with family, I didn’t previously realize that if you bring young children, you can “sign out” toys to take to your cabin. This is wonderful because it could save you an extra bag of toys!! I was very impressed, as was my cousin. She did utilize the babysitting service one evening and said they were very good to her 18 month old. On Independence, I didn’t notice head pounding music, however, the music was blaringly loud on the lido deck for Liberty. It reminded me of being on Carnival, and that is one of the reasons I felt Royal superceded. It wasn’t the case this time around. The atmosphere wasn’t quite as nice as it was on Independence. STAFF The staff on this ship were superb, top notch and absolutely wonderful. I honestly cannot say enough about this crew. In fact, I would go as far to say that they were far superior to the staff on Independence. I was impressed with our wait staff, Robert and Lissette. I told them that they are the reason people cruise, they make you feel like family. They make you want to return to the dining room. Our stateroom attendant, Harrold, was wonderful, and everyone onboard was always offering a greeting to you to welcome you back. All of the stateroom attendants we saw were extremely friendly and welcoming. Part of my family were on a different side of the ship and their stateroom was tended by Warbert, and he was just wonderful also. He would let me know if they had left, or would leave a note in their room for me. He always went out of his way to assist. We were thoroughly pleased with the service and staff. I even commented to guest services that we had to get more cash because we ran out of tip money since everyone was so kind! CABIN We had an E1 cabin on the aft with an amazingly, huge deck. Our balcony made the trip. We came with a large family group, so it worked out perfectly. I don’t believe we had ever used our balcony as much as we did on this cruise. If you choose a cabin on the aft, do realize that you will walk farther to the elevators. I would not recommend if you have difficulty with knees, feet or hips. It is definitely a hike, but I felt it was well worth it! Our cabin was a bit tighter than my dad that was next door. We had a smaller couch, but it was fine for the two of us. POOLS/HOT TUBS The solarium pool was quite nice, as you could sit on the edge in water without getting in the actual pool. What I found odd is that the pool is 6 ft 11 inches deep. Most of the people were just there to cool off, and you couldn’t possibly swim laps, so I’m unsure why that depth was necessary. I love the splash area for the kids, and it’s obvious they do as well. The cantilevered hot tubs look amazing, although we never tried them. LOUNGE CHAIRS There seemed to be plenty of chairs available on sea days, which is sometimes problematic. We didn’t encounter this on the ship, so that was nice. The solarium is a great place to lay out if there is a breeze or the ship is moving. Otherwise, it doesn’t get a lot of air and becomes very hot. The cushions also get extremely hot in the sun. FOOD I always miss Carnival’s Guy’s Burger. We did go to Johnny Rockets, and it was much better on Liberty. Although, there is a $5.95 charge for it. It was well worth the cost, and I would highly recommend. Main dining room – great service, many options, great dessert options, and the food was very tasty. I primarily had baked potato and chicken. The food was very good, and they catered to my allergy issues. Even in the lido, you could find a chef that was willing to help you decide what you could/couldn’t have, based on allergies. We used room service for breakfast, and it was always very timely. We felt the options in the Windjammer on this cruise were a bit more limited, but the food was good. We also appreciated that there were wait staff around to help you if you needed anything. This was a nice touch. Sorrentos – I didn’t try it, but my dad said it was good. FOOD ALLERGIES - I suffer from nut/tree nut/sesame/coconut allergies/fish and shellfish, which can be deadly. Please contact your travel agent or the special needs department and they will assist you with these types of issues. Our head waiter would provide the menu each evening and then I would decide what I wanted the following day. They do a nice job of making certain that you are kept safe. ACTIVITIES This is what sets Royal apart. They have basketball, mini golf, shuffleboard, dodgeball, ice skating, pig pong, make your own rock video, flowrider, rock climbing, video arcades, splash pools, and all sorts of options to keep you busy. We absolutely loved watching people on the Flowrider. When they have the competitors, it is very entertaining. It’s hard to believe you are on a ship. SPA AAAAAHHHHHHHH need I say more? This was the highlight of my trip. I didn’t do a standard massage, rather a special they were offering with a facial, neck/shoulder massage, foot/calf massage, and some other offerings. It was A M A Z I N G. The knots were gone in my neck once I was finished. FROZEN YOGURT On Carnival, it’s offered 24 hrs a day, but on RCCL, only until 6:30 pm. It is YUMMY!! CASINO We only went to the casino once on this cruise, but it was very large and offered many slots, and other options. MEDICAL STAFF Unfortunately, my aunt had a swollen wrist the day after we boarded the ship and was in terrible pain. Fortunately, she purchased cruise care and will be reimbursed for the charges. PLEASE ALWAYS BUY insurance!! It is not worth the risk!! The staff were very helpful and x-rayed her and put her in a splint. I purchased some topical anti-inflammatory cream in Cozumel and that made her 100% better! DISEMBARKING Disembarking was rather terrible. We didn’t have an issue getting off the ship, but there were so many ships in port that it took an extremely long time to get through customs. It was line after line after line, and I was just thankful we made it to the airport in time. PORTS – Western Caribbean – Cozumel & Costa Maya Cozumel - We took a tour of the Mayan Ruins in Tulum. We had been before, but wanted to see it with our family. We took a ferry ride and then a bus over to Tulum. The prior tour was not crowded, but this one was. If you have any issues with walking, I would not recommend. I noticed some people were having a difficult time with all the walking. If you have never been, I would recommend. If you have, I would do something else to avoid the crowds. Costa Maya – there is a shopping area similar to Grand Turk once you get off the ship. There is a large pool and all sorts of little shops and a Carlos and Charlie’s. There is also a little trolley that shuttles people back and forth to/from the ship. We enjoyed the area tremendously. The people are very friendly. TIPS: Some of my family had never sailed on Royal previously. They were a bit confused by what all was included and what was not with regard to the pizza, café, ice cream, cupcakes, etc…I can see how this would happen. The signage and the touch screen computers are very helpful when navigating the ship. Be sure to utilize if you aren’t sure where to go. Happy sailing!! If I have missed anything and you have further questions, feel free to ask!!   Read Less
Sail Date January 2015
Enjoyed our cruise. A great getaway from the winter weather. Arrived at pier, but was lead onto an incorrect line. It was the entry line after you check your luggage. So we carried on our luggage all through the process and wondering why ... Read More
Enjoyed our cruise. A great getaway from the winter weather. Arrived at pier, but was lead onto an incorrect line. It was the entry line after you check your luggage. So we carried on our luggage all through the process and wondering why no one was taking our luggage. We find out later there was a different area for drop off of luggage. Even though we had to lug the luggage, it was ok because we were able to take it to our room, unpack and ready to enjoy ourselves. We had great dinner seating and the waiters were excellent. Could not please us enough. Went to Belize on tour, two city tour. The tour guides were also very good, explaining everything about the country and everything that we passed along the way. In Cozumel we went to Paradise Beach. Great place to spend the day at the beach and pool. Good for families and adults. A lot of water sports to do or just enjoy the pool. Very inexpensive. One little glitch was when we went to see about booking another cruise. We had some things and places in mind but the person there was not that helpful, She suggested when I return home to call. Did mention about the reduced deposit but I did not feel comfortable. So all in all it was a very good cruise and we are looking into something in the fall, besides two other cruised we have booked.   Read Less
Sail Date January 2015
Departed Nov 16th for the 7 night cruise, This was the one with the Roatan Honduras, Playa Maya and Cozumel itinerary. Embarkation and parking was a nightmare, worst I have ever seen. Clearly boarding 2 ships is more that Galveston can ... Read More
Departed Nov 16th for the 7 night cruise, This was the one with the Roatan Honduras, Playa Maya and Cozumel itinerary. Embarkation and parking was a nightmare, worst I have ever seen. Clearly boarding 2 ships is more that Galveston can handle. I used port parking and I had prepaid but it was still a traffic jam. I suggest using an off site parking lot, that transports you to the pier, they can get you in and out faster than the port lot. It was raining and we had to stand out in the rain waiting for a shuttle to take us to the ship. Once onboard the ship was nice, and the staff and passengers were friendly, but clearly RCI has cut back on crew and wait staff, getting a drink when we got onboard was impossible and we couldn't find a seat in the windjammer.. We booked this cruise only 1 week before sailing and since its only a 9 hour drive we set out Saturday drove to Houston and got at the port at noon on Sunday. We got our cruise for $298.00 each and had an outside room on Deck 3, We usually have a balcony room but for the price we thought we would "rough" it. The stateroom was of normal size, and layout and actually very convenient. Cant complain about the room or price. This was my first time out of Galveston but I have noticed the price of these cruises are very affordable. This was also my first time to use " my time dining", and I found it very convenient. we had the same waiter every night and seemed to get faster service than those with an assigned time. The food was good but nothing special for a cruise. Windjammer always very busy, and we dined one night in Chops, it was great but had to spring for another 30 bucks each. I would generally say food was a little below what I expected. My wife enjoyed a spa day, I visited the steam room daily, unfortunately it rained on our sea days and only had 2 generally nice days all week, Cant blame that on the cruise, but I heard those who bought balcony rooms complain they couldn't even go out (guess it made my cheap room an even better value.) We did have some extremely good staff at the Boleros Tequila Bar. The cruise directors staff were nice but not out of the ordinary and the entertainment below normal, the special entertainment was better than the onboard folks. Special mention does however go to the Ice Skating crew for a great show. The singer in Schooner bar was so bad I couldn't stand to get a drink there. Decent shopping, nice ship, but nothing special (except Boleros bar and ice skating)!   Read Less
Sail Date November 2014
DW & I (late 50's) sailed RCL’s Vision of the Seas 4-day cruise, Port Everglades to Cozumel & back (2 sea days), over Memorial Day weekend 2014. I’ve never seen better cruising weather, 4 days of just blue skies, light ... Read More
DW & I (late 50's) sailed RCL’s Vision of the Seas 4-day cruise, Port Everglades to Cozumel & back (2 sea days), over Memorial Day weekend 2014. I’ve never seen better cruising weather, 4 days of just blue skies, light winds & calm seas. Even the Captain commented on his last noon Bridge Advisory. What a great start: Embarkation was the easiest ever. We were at the terminal 10:30 a.m. & right up to check-in. Done in 5 minutes & DW asks, when do we begin boarding? Answer: You can board now, cabins are not ready but the bars are & the Windjammer is open for lunch. And by 10:45 we were enjoying cocktails by the pool. Savvy thinking by RCL; more bar revenue, & everyone - staff & passengers - avoids the embarkation herd effect. The recently refurb’d VOS looks & feels brand new. Our outside cabin (Deck 2 Aft) was a bit small but certainly functional for 2 people, featuring wood, blue hues & colorful artwork. Very efficient cabin steward & the $5-spot assured we always had ice (signage on your vanity says ice must be requested). Engine noise & vibration were slightly noticeable especially when under way, but you’re just above the engines aft or thrusters forward on a low deck. New flat-screen cabin TV, but choices were, surprisingly, lousy. No interactive technology for tours or tab review, no movie rentals; just news, TNN & RCL informational loops. Dining was good, especially the first nite with Prime Rib & Escargots. We had 2 dining issues & I must say the RCL dining staff members I dealt with both “owned” the problem & resolved it to my satisfaction. Indeed, all ship staff to a one were professional & pleasant. The Drink Packages proved popular, as you could tell by the many folks who always had a drink in hand even early in the a.m. One foreseeable consequence though on the first nite was the worst bathroom throw-up scene I’ve ever encountered. No Pizza. What? Except for room service trays we saw in the hallway, no venues served pizza. We didn’t miss it. Outside Promenade was unusable for my daily, almost-exercise walkabout, as the bow was closed (permanently) & other sections often cordoned off for maintenance. But there were plentiful deck chairs & it was pleasant to just sit, relax, breathe the sea air & watch the ocean go by. Small, always crowded gym. The running track on top deck was pretty much impassable (crowded with sun-lovers & their chairs) on sea days. And Tip Envelopes are back; even if you pre-pay your gratuities (automatic $12.50 pp per day) you’re “reminded” that you can give something extra to that special staff member. We tried the self-help early disembarkation & learned if you do it, wait 20-30 minutes after it begins or you will hardly be able to get off an elevator & into the slow-moving line. Really can’t go wrong on RCL. Bons voyages always, extom. Read Less
Sail Date May 2014
We've never cruised before and didn't know what to expect. We wanted time away from work and the kids and were told that a cruise would be a good value. I booked through an ad with Intercontinental Hotels Group. We received and ... Read More
We've never cruised before and didn't know what to expect. We wanted time away from work and the kids and were told that a cruise would be a good value. I booked through an ad with Intercontinental Hotels Group. We received and upgrade to a balcony room and found that it was definitely worth it. We both had trouble getting a lot of time off of work, so we flew down from Newark to Ft. Lauderdale on Thursday morning, but arrived in plenty of time for the cruise. Day 1: Check-in took awhile but it wasn't bad. They kept everyone moving. They take your photo getting onto the boat, which seemed a bit ridiculous with us being all disheveled, schlepping our coats and carry-ons. We settled into our rooms, freshened up, and went to visit the Vitality Spa for the tour. It seemed nice and I had wanted to get the husband a massage as a late birthday present (the trip was his actual present). He seemed intrigued by the hot stone massage and suggested that for both of us. I booked it. I didn't get the name of the woman who did the booking, but she was a very pushy salesperson who really pissed me off. Honestly - she was the only real negative on the trip. I'll get to that later, but when she handed me the slips for the reservation, I said "we both wanted hot stone, you have me down for Swedish." She replied that she had to put it in that way in order to get the discount. I also told her that I wanted both charges to be billed to me, not just mine. Anyway, after making the reservations we left and went to lunch. The Windjammer was already hopping. Food was good. It wasn't gourmet, but I didn't expect that a buffet would be anything spectacular. It was good, though. We walked around after lunch, out on the deck, finally getting sun. BTW, my only minor food quibble: Jade is supposed to be Asian, right? Most of the food wasn't, and when it was, it was Indian. I really like Chinese, Japanese, Thai, Vietnamese, etc. A little more variety in the Asian department would have been nice. We were in cabin 1532, a balcony stateroom towards the front of the ship on deck 10. It was lovely. we had a queen couch which folded out (we didn't need that) and the two twin beds were pushed together into a king. The balcony made the vacation for us, because there were many times when we just needed to chill and watch the water. I think the stateroom attendant came in and cleaned the room every single time we left, haha. She was fantastic. Yes, the bathrooms are small, but they are efficient, clean and definitely not bad. The air return in them is good, too, so shower steam and bathroom odors are quickly absorbed. I am fanatical about that and brought a can of Febreeze air effects, which helped to freshen the entire cabin at times. I had ordered a bottled water package and the water was there, all ready for us, when we boarded. This was another thing I won't do, since we barely used what I ordered. I think we went through 4 bottles, max. DH had to bring his laptop for work and signed up for a wireless package. Work will reimburse him but damn, it's expensive and slow. We tried to make it up to the Sky Bar to meet up with other Cruise critic members but didn't quite make it before Muster. That was hilarious. A couple of seasoned cruisers were complaining mightily about being away from their drinks. There was so much to do, it was amazing. we showered before our massages, went upstairs, and waited. The husband was called in first. He thought we were doing this together and seemed a bit confused, but went off to have his massage. Then I was called and sure enough, it was for a Swedish massage. I didn't complain to the massage therapist. She was obviously young & in questioning her I found out she was new. I should have asked for the name of the person who had done the original booking, but I didn't. I did enjoy the massage and when it was over I met the husband outside. He was thrilled, felt relaxed and happy. We went back to the room to clean up & go to dinner. We had My Time reservations in the Botticelli dining room. Our waiter, Ionut, and our assistant waiter, Abraham, were attentive, kind and helpful. I'm allergic to crustaceans but not other seafood, and they adjusted some of the dishes accordingly. For the most part, I thought the food was excellent. I had a steak the first night, duck on the second, rack of lamb on the third, and cod & scallops on the 4th. All were perfectly prepared. The appetizers were great, too. Loved the escargot, the tapas plate and the scallops. Some of the desserts were great, others were good but not great, but that's fine, I shouldn't be eating dessert anyway, haha. We had the wine, beer and soft drink beverage package. I enjoyed a glass of wine with dinner each evening. I have no alcohol tolerance and I'm not a drinker, so I think we could have saved the cost of the package and ordered a la carte. I don't think the husband had more than 3 glasses of wine or a couple of beers on any given day. I did drink a lot of diet coke & sprite zero, but not enough to justify the package. My one guilty pleasure: the protein shakes on deck 11. I'd get a mango or strawberry shake with 70 grams of protein, perfect for someone who has had weight loss surgery. Even though we were tired, we wanted to participate and see what was going on. The 70s dance party on the Promenade was great! We really got into the energy of the evening and enjoyed dancing in the "street." The cruise director, Jerome, and his staff were all great and very high-energy. I think we fell into bed after midnight, very happy. Day 2: We were at sea all day. We had breakfast at the buffet, hung out a bit in the hot tub, and participated in some of the day's events. We attended a trivia game about movie characters in the Schooner bar. We went to the shopping talk by Kelvin (seemed a bit of a hard sell to certain very expensive, high-end stores). If you're looking for basic souvenirs, this is not the talk for you. If you're looking for expensive jewelry, watches, gemstones, etc, go for it.We walked around quite a bit, exploring the whole ship. We went to a bunch of different activities and I can't even remember them all! It was formal night and we dressed for dinner. It was great to see so many people dressed up. We weren't exactly formal (he wore slacks and a sport coat, I was in a cocktail dress, but we didn't seem out of line with anyone else. One thing I really enjoyed: we went out to watch The Hobbit on the big screen, sitting on the deck chairs. He gave me his sport coat (I was chilled) and we just had a great time. Day 3, Cozumel: We had tickets to Chankanaab for the Snorkel tour. Oscar, our guide, was very pleasant. I think we had a bit of a late start. Other than the one family with the extremely whiny kids, it was a very pleasant experience. I've never snorkeled before, and thought it was great. I loved seeing the fish, the lobster, the sea urchin and the other things under the water. After snorkeling we had lunch, and attended the tequila tasting (ick) and the Sea Lion Show (great). Then we went back to the pier, and headed out to the shops. Of course all the shops are very high pressure. I think the places recommended by the ship were out of our price range. The one we really liked was Alberto's, a silver place where the guy makes it himself, so it's not all the same stuff you see in the other jewelry shops. We picked up presents for the kids. On the way back, we were in one jewelry place and stopped to look at some stuff. Somehow he was talked into buying me a pair of Mexican Opal earrings. I can't complain about that, they are lovely and I was extremely touched that he did that. Money is tight right now and I thought that was out of our budget but he did it and I love them. Love him, too. OK, enough mushy stuff, lol. Back to the review. At the pier we bought a mug, a couple of t-shirts, a couple of bottles of tequila for friends, and we stopped at the Humane Society booth to make a donation. The adorable puppy up for adoption was soooo cute! She was an adorable terrier mix. Considering the amount of critters we already have, I wasn't adding another to the mix, but boy, was she cute. If anyone gives you change in pesos, consider putting that into the donation jar. The Love & Marriage game show in the evening was an absolute laugh riot. I haven't laughed so hard in ages. Day 4: At sea again all day. I got up extra early to get sunrise pictures, and I saw a dolphin! I was thrilled. We went to a lot of trivia games during the day, hit the pool & the hot tub, and had a blast. We went to the Encore! ice show, it was great. They have some really talented people there. By the end of the day I was dragging! At dinner we heard that we'd be going back to snow in NJ, so we weren't thrilled about that, haha. After dinner we went back to the casino for a bit. Then we went back to the room to get ready to go to Saturday Night Fever, and, well, I fell asleep. :( We missed the show. I'm disappointed about that but hey, reason to go back, right? Day 5: Got up early. We went to breakfast, packed and did a final walk-around. We opted for self-carry at 10 (but left at 9:30) because my Dad was picking us up. We left (well-deserved) tips for our waiters and our cabin attendant. Took a long time to get off the ship but once we were off it was fine. I have to say, I'm really glad we had a balcony. It made for some very nice quiet time, where we could sit, talk, watch the ocean and relax. We had so many special moments, it was truly a time for us to reconnect. We'd like to go back with the kids, but for now, we are glad that we had this interlude.   Read Less
Sail Date March 2014
I consider myself an experienced cruiser – not an aficionado by any means, but I’ve been on 6 or 7 over the years. Obviously I am a fan. Actually, about half of those have been on Royal Caribbean, with the last one about 4 years ago ... Read More
I consider myself an experienced cruiser – not an aficionado by any means, but I’ve been on 6 or 7 over the years. Obviously I am a fan. Actually, about half of those have been on Royal Caribbean, with the last one about 4 years ago giving me a pretty great experience (the other lines were Carnival and Celebrity if you are curious). However, this most recent experience was enough to make me say I’ll likely never book with Royal Caribbean again. I set sail on the Liberty of the Seas from Fort Lauderdale in late January. It was a family event – our group was about 70 people. We are a fun group that can roll with the punches and make the best of things – the only reason the vacation wasn’t a total bust. At first glance the Liberty looked like a great option, one of the largest in RC’s fleet I believe. Let’s start with the positive…the activities on board and the ship itself were great. The public areas were well designed with plenty of fun bars, shops and restaurants to hang out in (personal favs were Schooner Bar and the Hoof & Claw English Pub). The casino was very good with friendly dealers who willingly taught me the basics of craps. Yay! The pool area was awesome – if crowded –with plenty of hot tubs and a rock wall. The FloRider surfing set up was an absolute blast! Finally, some of my group utilized the child care services and reported excellent experiences on that front. Unfortunately, everything goes downhill from here. Upon closer examination, cleanliness was a huge issue on board. Despite the instructions in the form of verbal abuse from staffers to use the Purell stations prior to entry into dining areas. Upon checking into our staterooms my father found what looked like pubic hair inside some of the drawers. Over the 4 night cruise our stateroom was cleaned only twice. Another example, the first night at dinner there was a hair in my cheese plate. I’m relatively understanding …in a busy kitchen things happen, I called the waiter over to let him know about the issue and request a different dessert. He proceeded to imply that it was my hair that had fallen in (completely different colors by the way). I was not amused and told him so – after which he went around to the other side of the table and attempted to blame me again to my family members. It was an early indication of the atrocious customer service that was to come. With this level of apparent disregard for cleanliness on board it comes as no surprise that this line has been in the news recently for health related outbreaks. Thank goodness no one got sick in my group. Moving on…If you are like me, one of the things you look forward to most on a cruise is the food. Oh the food! Midnight buffets, burgers by the pool, main dining room smorgasbords and even the specialty restaurants…bring it on. Someone jokingly said if you don’t gain 2 pounds a day on a cruise you are doing it wrong. My past cruise experience led me to believe that I was in for a 4-day long amazing culinary adventure…I could not have been more wrong. The food on the Liberty of the Seas was TERRIBLE. To be fair, the casual buffet in the WindJammer for lunch and breakfast was good…your usual fare. The main dining room is where I had the majority of my problems. The seafood was fishy and rubbery across the board – it all tasted like it had been leftover from previous sailings. It was old and on the verge of going bad. To add insult to injury everything had that too hot, rubbery taste we all associate with excessive use of the microwave. OK, lesson learned – I’ll stick to land based cuisine…it didn’t help. Nothing was ever cooked to order properly. On multiple occasions my medium rare order came out charred and well done, while my neighbors well-done was close to bloody. Of the 4 nights we had dinner only the last had any actually tasty dishes. The last night…also known as tip night – call me cynical but I feel those 2 things may be related. I didn’t personally dine at Chops or Portofino (the specialty restaurants), but members of our group did and reported back that they were only marginally better. Now let’s talk about that terrible level of customer service I mentioned earlier. Again, based on prior cruises, I was expecting pretty good customer service. Maybe not Disney level, but it is a cornerstone of this industry and I would expect representatives of the cruise line to take it seriously. Nope, the staff of the Liberty of the Seas was not helpful or friendly…in fact they were downright combative at times. It started in the main dining room – I’m sensing a trend here. The wait staff was horrendous. Every single night at our table they either got an order incorrectly, didn’t bring someone’s order out, brought out random extra orders or forgot to take someone’s order entirely. They were also incredibly slow at filling water glasses or taking additional wine orders. Not to mention the hair incident. The beverage staff was equally awful at many of the on-board bars. They seemed to all be moving at the speed of sloth, it took a staggeringly long time to get a drink anywhere…even when we were the only people in the bar area. Bartenders will frequently roll their eyes at you, or condescendingly ask “what’s the magic word” when you order a drink. Side Note: I’m generally polite and a prior server – I tip well and always say please, which that guy would have heard if he bothered to pay attention to anything. Expect to be blamed for any problem you bring to someone’s attention – even at the guest relations desk. We had a small billing discrepancy I needed to clear up at the end of the journey. The rep behind the desk was completely rude and abrasive. I have never been so disappointed in a company. The level of quality for my experience as a whole was so far below my expectations it was shocking. I love going on cruises, I’m sure I’ll go on many more in my lifetime – they just won’t be with Royal Caribbean.   Read Less
Sail Date January 2014
2 hours plus to board... Not immigration fault too few RC check in staff No available food after boarding except Serrento's pizza with long lines.... 1st night bar = casino, club, everything shut down at 2am. Yes you heard me called ... Read More
2 hours plus to board... Not immigration fault too few RC check in staff No available food after boarding except Serrento's pizza with long lines.... 1st night bar = casino, club, everything shut down at 2am. Yes you heard me called concierge asked about food and bars... CLOSED. I show for 4 nights in main stage.... Comedian/magician 1 show at 7:30pm on last night Chops specialty restaurant sent back two veal chops which we couldn't cut.. chief came out he couldn't cut ... apologized nice guy but we had enough. Men's rooms all over ship smelled like urine ( I am not fussing about stuff like that but it was simply not clean. Golf simulator down entire trip. Ship beautiful and nice, well maintained Disappointed in RC and will not go on large ship out of Ft L again. Getting same problem staff didn't know which level to direct us to get off with bags ... Read Less
Sail Date December 2013
A group of 11 of us sailed the 4 night Liberty of the Seas from Fort Lauderdale to Cozumel, Mexico and back, to celebrate three birthdays. We had a blast but I have to say I was disappointed in the service on the Liberty. 10 of us had ... Read More
A group of 11 of us sailed the 4 night Liberty of the Seas from Fort Lauderdale to Cozumel, Mexico and back, to celebrate three birthdays. We had a blast but I have to say I was disappointed in the service on the Liberty. 10 of us had sailed the Liberty 3 years ago and the service has really gone down since that experience. Embarkation was painful. There was some issue getting the passengers off the ship, so we were held in the cruise terminal for 1.5 hours with no explanation. We finally got on the ship and went straight to the Windjammer for lunch. All was good there. Our cabins were great and we had 4 balconies in a row. Our cabin steward opened the dividers between all 4 with no issue, so we were able to enjoy one large balcony. The food in the dining room was excellent. All of us really enjoyed our dinner experience. Our head waiter was a little strange. We have friends with severe allergies, and I've found that RCI has always been extremely good and careful with this on every cruise. This cruise was okay but not the usual level of service. Maybe because it was a 4 nighter? Our main waiter warmed up over time, and our water boy was really fun and great (Victor). Food on the rest of the ship was fine and it was always nice to get sandwiches and cookies in the Cafe Promenade or pizza in Sorentos. YUM! Ice cream on the pool deck was delicious too. The Saturday Night Fever show was amazing. A must see for sure. Up In the Air was also good. You can't miss Quest. Such a laugh always. The 70s parade is fun, especially when you dress up yourself which some of us did. We used the gym every day and it's an amazing gym with wonderful ocean views. We had pre-booked an RCI jeep/snorkel excursion in Cozumel, and when we arrived to do the excursion we were told it had been changed to no snorkelling, no lunch and a shorter timeframe.... we were not informed of this by RCI. The excursion was disappointing and we would not have booked it had we known. It took us 3 different people to talk to at guest services before getting anywhere. The one guy was so rude and unhelpful when we explained the situation. At one point I said "you need to do the right thing here", and he asked me what that would be! HUH? Another guy came along and we all finally got a full refund on the excursion which made us feel better. I think the most disappointing part of this cruise for me was the amount of smoking on board, and all over the place. I have never noticed this before on an RCI cruise. I'm not sure why... again, maybe a 4 night long weekend clientele? But it was noticeable in many places on board. The casino was unbearable and so was the night club. It turned me off a 4 night cruise for sure. When we returned to FLL, we chose to carry our own luggage off at 8am and it was sheer chaos. No staff anywhere to direct people, and it was a huge crowd trying to get off and a riot almost broke out because people were butting in line. Craziness!!! All in all a very good time because of the group I was travelling with and the food. Have fun!! Read Less
Sail Date November 2013
An offer came in our email and the price was hard to beat, so we called RCI to book the March 7th cruise on Jewel of the seas. We decided to upgrade to a superior balcony, cabin 9254 and specifically asked if it was obstructed in any way ... Read More
An offer came in our email and the price was hard to beat, so we called RCI to book the March 7th cruise on Jewel of the seas. We decided to upgrade to a superior balcony, cabin 9254 and specifically asked if it was obstructed in any way and was told it was NOT... well they LIED!!!!! it is obstructed on not 1 or 2 but all 4 sides ( including up and down) so our views of the ocean were extremely limited! window washing equipment up and below us, a ladder for the window washer to the right and a hugeeeee i beam to the left!!!!! and for this view i paid MORE than a regular balcony!!!!! to say we were disappointed with our accommodations is an understatement! Boarding was a piece of cake, used capitol parking and we were at the terminal in less than 5 mins!, once inside, they do a great job of directing you to the proper lines and what information to have ready. check in was under 15 mins!, riht up to our stateroom to our major disappointment. went to guest services who told us that there was no place to move us, and that it was not a restricted view!!! i invited them up to the cabin to see for themselves!( nobody ever showed up) on to lunch at the windjammer... food was overcooked and mostly cold by the time that we got there! luckily we knew about the seaview cafe, best food on the ship! wonderful chili and fried fish! Meals in the tides were disgusting at best. Prime rib was raw, had to send it back 2x to get an edible piece, 2nd night the beef tenderloin was MOOING!!! the 2nd piece was so tough you could play hockey with it!, we skipped the 3rd night due to the poor performance... also rolls are COLD! i mean ICE COLD every night, bar service in the main dining room was a hit or miss, usually having to ask 4 or 5 times! no smiles on the waiters at table 144 must have been the end of their tour. another note was that there was NO escargot yet again ( have read this on other reviews) for the entire trip, they substituted with minuscule scallops in the escargot trays! Chops on the other hand was FABULOUS!!! of COURSE ITS A 39.00 UPCHARGE to go to that restaurant, steaks were cooked perfectly, service as it should have been and WARM rolls! everything of any quality has an UPCHARGE on this boat! you cant even get freshly squeezed orange juice without paying 2.50!!! coffee is starbucks and was delightful but again a 5.50 UPCHARGE for coffee!!! the most memorable person was the room service delivery guy he was FANTASTIC!!! as for our room steward, even though asked repeatedly every day, couldn't seem to remember to fill the ice bucket! but room service brought up the ice with a smile 2x a day!!! NOTE..... if you are a smoker..... there is NO smoking in the casino on formal night!!!!! no announcements made, but they not so politely tell you that when you light up on that night! casino was average for a cruise ship, saw people winning 5 and 6 hundred, so the slots were paying, even on the way back! NO free beverages in the casino, even though i had well over 1500 points! major disappointment! BINGO..... DONT Bother!!!!! $48 FOR 4 GAMES OF BINGO and the payouts were only $200 a game!!!!! majorrrrr rip off! Activities were varied and the staff was EXCELLENT!!! got people involved and made it fun to be by the pool! everything on RCI has turned into an " extra" getting your room is inexpensive, but the charges were MORE than the cruise, AND my husband and i DONT DRINK!!!!! all in all ill go back to carnival, where they do NOT nickel and dime you to death! Read Less
Sail Date March 2013
Been on a few cruise with my kids and Jewel was just average. Not RCCL's most up to date ship with a very small pool area (and pool), and next to no deck chairs available if you don't reserve one before 08:30. Do this even ... Read More
Been on a few cruise with my kids and Jewel was just average. Not RCCL's most up to date ship with a very small pool area (and pool), and next to no deck chairs available if you don't reserve one before 08:30. Do this even though they say reserving is not allowed. Nobody pays attention. Unfortunately no pool side BBQ's, you have to hike somewhere to find food and bring it back to your deck chair. While the service and entertainment was great as per RCCL's standards, I found that family activities were sadly lacking. Parties in the bars were the main focus as this is a revenue generator for RCCL. Food on board was only average. While at the pool area on day 2, was sitting in the jacuzzi talking the previous nights dinner and most seemed to agree the prime rib didn't really taste like beef!!!!! While I would do RCCL again, I would steer clear from the smaller ships and go to the newer ones such as Oasis. They do tend to nickel and dime you as well. You must buy the soft drink package for the kids (free on Disney) and ship board drinks are extremely expensive, so smuggle if you can!!!! Disney allows you to bring a bottle or 2 of booze without smuggling, they just ask that put it in your checked baggage. They won't make you feel like a criminal and you won't get surprised by a two ton bar tab at the end of your trip!!! Happy cruising. Read Less
Sail Date March 2012
This was our First RC Cruise, but we have taken 3 cruises previously on Disney so most of the comparisons that I have are from sailing with Disney. We arrived at Orlando Airport and were promptly escorted to a bus and were in route to ... Read More
This was our First RC Cruise, but we have taken 3 cruises previously on Disney so most of the comparisons that I have are from sailing with Disney. We arrived at Orlando Airport and were promptly escorted to a bus and were in route to the cruise port. Embarking was fairly easy. The wait was about 10-15 minutes and the check in person was helpful. Once on the ship we had to wait until 1 PM for our room to be ready, which it was ready on time. The ship is beautiful. I was impressed with the size and space that it has for it's guests. One of the things that I liked most was the pool area. They had 3 large hot tubs and 2 small hot tubs in the kids area for use for kids and adults. Disney had one hot tub in the Adults Only area. Disney's pools are incredibly small. I had talked to someone on the staff at Disney about that and it is due to people's kids constantly going to the bathroom in the pools ( which is true, it happened to us three times in one day which was really gross ). Since RC is geared more to older kids ( I felt ) and they impose a 6 month age on kids using the pool areas, I felt that was controlled MUCH better. The pools were clean and large enough for my family to play in. This was one of our first stops on the cruise when we got on the boat was the pool area. I will also mention that the fitness area was great. Disneys gym as small and did not have sa selection of equiment that was good. This gym was large and clean and I really liked it. The next stop was the food -- the Windjammer is the primary buffet area on the ship. I have mixed feelings about the food on this boat. As I mentioned, I sailed with Disney before and the food was SUPERB. I have to say that I was honestly not that impressed with the food on RC. Granted, there was a large selection of food but most of it was not impressive. The eggs always had that powdered eggs look and feel to them, the food was very bland and tasteless. I tried to look at the positive in that I was avoiding gaining weight on the boat! Lol We had MyTime Dining reservations. I have to say that the wait staff was AWESOME. We had Allan and Albert as our waiters and Albert did magic tricks for my daughter which she really enjoyed. The food however was less memorable. The first night I got there I had the steak which was so thin and overcooked I did not eat there for nights 2 and 3 ( keeping in mind for MyTime Dining you have to prepay your dining gratuities that we were now not using due to the sub par food ). On nights 2 and 3 we went to Johney Rockets which has a $4.95 per person fee for dinner which was not too bad but that segways to my next topic. Nickel and Diming. That really doesn't usually grate on my nerves but on this boat there was SO much of it compared to Disney it was not what I had expected which I think caused the aggravation. On Disney, they have soda / water machines all over the boat and you can help yourself. On Royal Caribbean they wanted $4.95 a day for kids and $6.95 a day for adults to access the soda machines! Are you kidding me? You already have my $3000 + for a cruise and you are trying to rake in another $23.80 a day or $166 for a week for soda and water?? It is common knowledge that soda costs about 0.08 cents per gallon so would it really hurt to give your guests free beverages?? And, I would argue that they are not really "free" to give out since we have paid for the cruise! It went on for the entire cruise like that. We spent $12 for a floating mat at Haiti ( $6 on Disney ). I have too many examples to really list but it was pretty annoying to be shelling out $5 to ride a rollercoaster ( once ) at Haiti, $4 for a locker rental while you ride the $5 roller coaster at Haiti ,etc. The best one was the $25 fee they charge you per unreturned towel. Yes, you have to check your towels in and out on your vacation. If you need clean towels, you have to wait in the line as they keep track of how many towels you use and heaven forbid if you lose one or someone picks one up off your chair by accident, $25 is charged to your stateroom. Also, the Starbucks downstairs charges $4 for a medium coffee. They had a cupcake decorating class ( kids get to decorate ONE cupcake ) which was $15. It was really just too much. Also they have fitness classes - for $35 ( plus automatic 15% tip ) I did a half hour boot camp class which was fun, but not worth $35 for certain and most other cruises we have been on have free fitness classes. As for the ports: Haiti was beautiful. I was a bit concerned at first about it being Haiti but it is a private Island and when I say "private island" it is HUGE. Disney's private Island I can walk from one end to the other in about 15 minutes. This place needed a trolley to take people around. We did the aqua park that is there ( $29 per person for an hour ) which was nice but I felt expensive for what we got. The water was nice and warm though at about 75 degrees. We also did the Dragons Breath Roller coaster. That was fun. It is a smaller coaster that holds 2 people. But again, it was $5 a ride or $49 PER PERSON for a day pass. For a rollercoaster. Better yet was that if you have a camera or anything you don't want to get stolen you have to rent a locker for $4 for the time you are on the coaster. Again, I don't think it would kill them to offer free locker rentals for usage while you are PAYING to ride their coaster. Overall the beaches though were beautiful and we loved the port. The other thing to mention is that the water park, where we were stationed most of the day, has people selling stuff in the area. Every time we went to the bathroom or get lunch or just walking around, someone was yelling "Madam, or Sir, we want to show you something, come here!" I lost count at about 15 times of hearing this. I was surprised that RC does not regulate this better. They were really harassing people -- I get that at work, I really don't need it on vacation! The next port was Jamaica. Yuk Yuk and double Yuk is all I can really come up with for this. I am at a loss as to why this is a stop on the cruise. The island is really dirty ( burned out cars on the side of the road, boarded up windows, graffiti, wild animals running around the roads ). It really is a third world country and doesn't ring "tourist stop," on our meter. We would have been happy to stay on the boat in retrospect. We did the Dunns River Falls tour and the Dolphin Cove Tour. The Dunns River falls is nice. Again, bring money for water shoes ( $7 per person ) a locker ( $8 ) a guide ( $10 per person customary ) and to tip your driver and Dolphin Cove tour guide as well. The Falls are lovely. What I will say is that I felt it was misleading ( as a lot of the other parents I spoke with said ) in that it really is an activity for adults in good health, not elderly people or kids. I saw two older people fall and get nasty cuts on their legs as well as my having to spend the entire trip worried that my daughter might fall. Essentially you make a human chain up the falls which are slippery and I do feel that there is a good chance you could get hurt. It was very crowded the day that we went so it took us almost two hours to climb the area. Additionally, there are a lot of con artists in the part. For example, they would offer "free" beads to your child and when your child takes them and you walk away they follow you and start asking you why you can't "help a Jamaican man out." Most people get embarrassed and give them a few dollars. Another tactic was they would ask your name. When you respond they start carving it into a piece of wood so you feel obligated to buy it. It was just annoying and they were very loud and combative. Our next stop was Dolphin Cove, which is right across the street. One of the reasons that I say that Jamaica is not a tourist stop is this place. Compared to the other stops we had this was really not very nice. There were signs slintered off and broken, leaves matted all the paths, it was dirty and the staff was most unhelpful. We were told that we were getting a "delicious" buffet at Dolphin Cove and the food was Gross. And I mean gross. The hot dogs were some sort of bright red colored meat that was questionable and the hamburgers were grey and cold. The beverages consisted of a plastic cup with lukewarm soda. I was not impressed at all. After that we had a hour bus ride back to port where we bid Jamaica a final farewell. The next day was the Cayman Islands. I really cannot say enough positive things about this place. It was clean, very tourist friendly and we had a great time. We did the Turtle Farm which was amazing. As others mentioned it is smaller but it is clean and a lot of fun for the kids. The pool area was very nice and well kept and I felt we could have spent much more time there than we did. The staff was very helpful as well. We bought tickets online and when we got to port we were just told that the free transportation they provide had left so they put us on one of the other busses for free to get us there. When we were leaving, a nice man helped us find a "bus" ( essentially their public transportation ) for $2.50 per person to take us back to the cruise port. From there we did the Reef and Wreck Snorkel through RC. This was an AMAZING time. It was only $29 per person and we got to snorkel two points, a wreck that sank in the 1800's and Cheeseburger reef. The reef was amazing. Some of the best snorkeling we have been on. The staff was all very nice and helpful and the boat was also a glass bottomed boat. It was a lot of fun here and a great stop on our itenary. The next and final stop was Cozumel. We did the Xel-Ha excursion. Part of my frustration with this stop had to do with RC. We were only in port from 10-6:30, which sounds like a lot of time but instead of having the 500+ people who were on land excursions with them travel in groups, they decided it would be much wise to coral 500 people through the gangway at once. We were told to arrive at 9:45 at the Theater as a meeting point. Instead of having people arrive at 9:30 / 9:15 , etc and stagger getting them oriented and off the boat they instead had a massive inflow of people trying to exit the boat at one time. As a result we did not get off the boat until about 10:20. Then we had to take a ferry to the shore. We got on the ferry at 10:30 where we sat until 11:10 AM waiting for the stragglers!! Then it was 45 minutes on the ferry to the main land. From there we catch a bus to Xel --Ha ( now it is 12:15 when we arrive ) and we have until 4:30 to spend there!! This was our most expensive excursion and we thought the 10-6 time would actually be spent at the park ( crazy right? ) instead of waiting to get off the boat, waiting on the ferry, etc. Several other people on the tour complained about this as well. As for the park. WOW! It is amazing. If you get the chance to visit I would defiantly go ( and not book through Royal Caribean unless you like sitting for hours and waiting ). The park was BEAUTIFUL. It is big, about 3 miles long so there is a lot of space for people to walk around. The buffet and food was wonderful and I liked that it was all inclusive, which meant no fees for towels, snorkeling equipment, food, lockers, etc. It was a great value ( though expensive ) for what we got. The staff was all very nice, it was very clean and the kids area was amazing. They have a playground that is HUGE and an obstacle course for the kids. We enjoyed the zipline very much and all the other attractions. This is really a must see while in Cozumel!! Our last day was at sea which was nice. We did attend some of the entertainment which was good, but not phenomenal. We liked the illusionist very much and the comedian was funny. The last comment I will make was about disembarking the ship. This was CHAOS. I think my basis of comparision comes from Disney but when we were with Disney, you have them your luggage and then when you get off the ship it is in nice numbered groups and you pick it up and go. Our flight was at 11 AM so I thought leaving at 8 would not be an issue. TIP: they did not tell us this but the way they work is with a numbered system. We were number 12. That means that our luggage would clear at 8:45. # 13 clears at 9 AM, and so on! I was in full fledged panic mode as I had no idea this was the system. I called down in the morning and they said there was nothing they could do to help. Furthermore, when you get downstairs to the luggage, it is all together on a conveyer belt like at the airport. It is not seperated into your number so you have luggage from group 12 mixed with group 2! What a mess! We finally found our luggage and got on the bus to the airport where we waited for 25 minutes before taking off. This got much worse when I got to the airport and the driver said that they had to unload all the luggage before we could get off the bus. Are you kidding me?? My flight was leaving in an hour and change and we have to wait for a full bus load of luggage to be unloaded by one person? We waited for 25 minutes on the bus before deciding to try to get off the bus to get help and found we were locked in the bus! Yes, the attendant was talking with another person and we had to sit on the bus steps for another 5 minutes before she let us out! When I told her that was unacceptable she said it was "policy" so we don't get hit by another bus pulling it. Huh?? We just barely made our flight and it added unnecessary stress. Had I known about this "policy" I would have taken a taxi. Overall this was a nice cruise. Our stateroom attendant was very nice and we liked the cabin space as well. We would sail RC again but I think I would be better prepared in that my expectation of fees, etc was not consistent with what we expected. I think if you know that going in you may have a better experience. Read Less
Sail Date February 2012
We had not sailed on Royal Caribbean before and had high hopes. We traveled with 20 friends from our church and with pre-paid gratuity we all got to sit together in the Tides Restaurant, lower level, 6:00pm sitting. We had 3 tables: one ... Read More
We had not sailed on Royal Caribbean before and had high hopes. We traveled with 20 friends from our church and with pre-paid gratuity we all got to sit together in the Tides Restaurant, lower level, 6:00pm sitting. We had 3 tables: one 10-seater, and two 6-seaters. Only two waiters were assigned to us. (one Waiter and one Assist. Waiter) On the first night, the service was terrible. It took so long that some folks in the group missed the 8:00pm show. The waiters' attitude varied from indifferent to downright hostile. It was so bad that several people felt the need to talk to the head waiter. On the second night the service was tremendously better and the attitudes were fine, but 2 waiters just could not serve 22 people in a timely manner and it was still quite slow. (over 40 minutes to get the appetizer) Again a couple of people had a discussion with the head waiter because we felt he could have assigned another waiter. He never did, but the remaining 3 nights were fine, although I judged the quality of the food to be less than top-notch and never particularly hot. My wife and I foolishly bought the Coke package for about $70.00 (ridiculous!) but almost every time we got a Coke anywhere on the ship it was flat and tasted terrible. I ordered one at a bar and it had some alcohol residue left in it from those multi-product hand-held dispensers so common in bars. I took one sip and gave it back. Every night we complained to the waiters that the Coke was bad and every night they apologized and said they would get it fixed, get it from another dispenser, etc, and every night it was still bad. On the last night I went to Guest Relations (or whatever they call it) and told them my concern. The attitude was basically,"So?" I pressed my point a bit and she asked if I had told anyone. "Every night." After a bit more prodding she finally asked my cabin number and looked me up. I was then told that since I prepaid for the Coke package there was nothing she could do. That may have been true at that point, but the attitude is what really annoyed me. I never heard any words like "We're so sorry you had a problem". Almost every one we had was bad. Everyone else in our group who bought the package had the same problem:$70.00 for bad Coke. I would NEVER buy the Coke package again. The Windjammer buffet was quite disappointing. The breakfast eggs were reasonably warm most days, but the potatoes were always cold and chewy. I tried a hamburger one afternoon and it was obviously made from a commercial frozen patty and it was served at room temperature, not even slightly warm. One bite and I put it down. The cheese slices were warmer than the burgers. Yuck. After a few days I began to feel like Charlie Brown and Lucy with the football. I knew it was going to be bad, but I kept trying it again. I guess that makes me the crazy one. Going to the Windjammer was like going to the Golden Corral on Sunday at lunchtime. It was a zoo and the food was bad. Our cabin steward was excellent and the over-all experience was OK, but the above-mentioned issues clouded the experience. On a positive note, the ship didn't hit any rocks, no one on our ship got sick, and no one got left in Mexico. Read Less
Sail Date January 2012
My husband and 8 year old daughter and I sailed on Royal Caribbean for the first time (5 Cruises with Carnival and 1 with Disney). This was by far the best cruise experience. I had always asked myself "Is Royal worth the extra money ... Read More
My husband and 8 year old daughter and I sailed on Royal Caribbean for the first time (5 Cruises with Carnival and 1 with Disney). This was by far the best cruise experience. I had always asked myself "Is Royal worth the extra money they charge"? My answer is YES! The ship is beautiful in design, easy to navigate and exceptionally maintained by the staff. In our opinion the food quality, and selection was superior to Carnival or Disney. The design of the Windjammer Cafe was well laid out, I never waited in line to get my food or to get a table, even on sea days! Staff appeared happy and were genuine in all areas of the ship. My daughter loved Adventure Ocean. This particular week had only 100 children on board. The staff combined the 6-8 year olds with the 9-11's which made my 8 year old daughter very happy. She was able to play with the older kids and be able to do different kinds of activities. In her words she preferred Adventure Ocean over Camp Carnival because "the councillors played with us and didn't just sit and watch us". My greatest surprise was how many of the bars were smoke free. This has always been my biggest complaint about Carnival, lots of smokers and no where for non-smokers to enjoy a drink in the evening. I am not a gambler, but Royal even had one night designated smoke free in the casino. I really felt that Royal tried to accommodate both preferences. (I did notice that the number of smokers on this particular cruise was extremely low compared to what I am use to). For the first time ever on a cruise, we booked an excursion not offered by the ship. If you travel to Costa Maya you must book a tour with Native Choice Tours. They are professional, safe and have great prices. My family did the Mayan Experience tour. Our guide "Joel" was very knowledgeable and passionate about his culture, I learned so much. After touring the ruins we visited a Mayan Community, were we made tortillas and enjoyed a locally prepared buffet lunch, it was awesome! My daughter loved the experience. In my opinion you can't have a bad cruise, they are all what you make them. However, Royal Caribbean wowed me and my family, the price difference is definitely worth it. The only thing that I missed from Carnival, were the robes!! Read Less
Sail Date January 2012
Once again, I will make this review short. Simply put this was an awesome cruise and a very nice ship, great food, and the staff were very friendly and great at remembering your name. I went with my Mother, Brother and his Wife and another ... Read More
Once again, I will make this review short. Simply put this was an awesome cruise and a very nice ship, great food, and the staff were very friendly and great at remembering your name. I went with my Mother, Brother and his Wife and another friend and his Wife. We all enjoyed it very much. There are the usual grumpy few staff members that you encounter on every cruise same as passengers. Mexico is a great place to visit and its even better if you can speak a little bit of Spanish that way you can have a little fun in the ports and test out ur communication skills, but you dont need to speak Spanish. A cruise is what you make it, there is no such thing as a bad cruise it just means that it wasnt the best. I will be doing the same ports in April 2012 with my Son, but that will be with Carnival, only because I want to try a different Line out each time!!! Any questions dont hesitate colinneilsen@hotmail.com Read Less
Sail Date August 2011
I would never have thought I would be writing a review on a site like this, but I can't let this go by. I took my wife and our 2 teenagers on a Spring Break, Easter cruise on the Radiance of the Sea. I have been a huge fan of Royal ... Read More
I would never have thought I would be writing a review on a site like this, but I can't let this go by. I took my wife and our 2 teenagers on a Spring Break, Easter cruise on the Radiance of the Sea. I have been a huge fan of Royal Caribbean and have booked away from other cruise lines. I have always told family and friends just how much I have enjoyed Royal Caribbean on past cruises. Never again! I don't know where to begin so I will start where all the problems began. When getting back on the ship from a day at the beach in Cozumel, we were "flagged" and instructed to see Guest Services. We were told there was an accident and our rooms were flooded. I say "rooms" because we booked 2 cabins. There was one cabin between the two we booked. We were escorted to our 9th deck hallway to be overwhelmed by a disgusting odor. Walking towards the aft portion of the ship, where our cabins were, the smell became increasingly worse. Not to mention the carpet was now squishing under foot as if walking on a soaked sponge. The sound of shop vacs and blower fans screamed in the background. We get to our cabin and thank goodness someone had the foresight to put our belongings up on our beds. We thank our cabin attendant for his diligence. This would be a good place to mention there were a few individuals that were very courteous and went out of their way to apologize for this situation. "Few" being the operative word here. One of our cabin's was completely uninhabitable. Strong pungent odor and carpeting was drenched. We were told it would be replaced, it never was. We moved all our belongings to the cabin that was the lesser of the two evils. Thinking we may possibly be able to use our other cabin at some point, as they told us we would. The stains on the towels they had put down made us realize that staying in this one cabin would not be possible. Even if you could handle the industrial size blower fans that were placed in the rooms. Evidently, for the NEXT cruise. There we are, back from a day at the beach, and the water, the shower, and the toilets are not working. Dinner in less than an hour so we were instructed to shower at the spa and use the public bathrooms. It is never my desire to use a public toilet on board a ship that has been at sea a couple of days. That was our only option. So we got ready for dinner at the spa and get back from dinner to find a note saying how sorry Royal Caribbean is and please accept $175 for the inconvenience. A nice start we thought, considering $175 is a day at the pool for a family of four. I should also mention here that when our rooms had no water or toilets, we were offered to go to the pool bar for free drinks. We were instructed to use our sea pass and the charges would be deducted. I have had tooth extraction that was easier than getting the $100 taken off our bill prior to leaving the ship. Information came painfully slow. What are we to do? Is there another room we can move to? The smell is making us all ill. The ship staff was having a meeting to decide what to do with the 20 or so people this affected. We thought, "thank goodness, something will be done." It never was done. The ship was completely filled with every cabin taken. The next day our eyes were so watery, and throats so sore from the pungent smell of a damp, dank carpet that we were concerned about what was seeping in to the carpet. We were told fresh water. The smell made us think otherwise. I asked if anyone else was having symptoms of sore throats, itchy, and watery eyes, and it was requested that we visit the ship's Dr. I don't see a Dr. for the sniffles, but now I am concerned about what these fumes and odors are that we have been breathing in for the past 15 hours. The Dr. prescribed us steroids and benadryl and told us to stay out of the sun for these make one photo sensitive. SO with two more days, we are told not to spend any time in the sun. We were also asked by the Dr why we would stay where the fumes were making us this sick. Again, the ship was full, and our one cabin that was not totally sopping wet was our only option. He offered us a bed in the sick bay. In hindsight, maybe that would have been more comfortable. The 4 of us camped out thinking that a line with the reputation of Royal Caribbean would certainly make things right. Meaning giving us what we paid for. I regret to say, that has yet to happen. Not only has that yet to happen, it may take legal action to even get something other than what was already offered on board. I should mention we also have been offered 35% off a future cruise if taken within a year. I'll say here that some in Guest Services were just out right rude and nasty when we protested our treatment. One manager elevated the situation and proclaimed, "I'm done with you!" I have never been treated with such contempt by someone in the service industry. The cruise industry is thriving. The ship must have been testing its pipes while the majority of passengers were off ship. The pressure caused a major malfunction in our section of the ship, and we are pushed aside with $275 for this "inconvenience." It ruined our vacation. The insult to this injury is to be so loyal to Royal Caribbean only to be treated so rudely. I am disputing the charge through my credit card, am writing a letter to CEO Adam Goldstein, and will report back on how this situation is handled. For now, they have created a public relations nightmare that would have been very easily fixed on board the ship before we disembarked. As I said, we were 4 of about 20 people this affected. Some worse than others, I am sure. I would go in to detail about the other friendly personnel on board, but a favorable review of the entire experience is not possible. It would be like asking President Lincoln's wife "other than that Mrs. Lincoln, what did you think of the play?" I hope Royal Caribbean learns a valuable lesson here. I know I sure have. I will never cruise on this line again. I'm afraid this is a sign of our times. There is someone else behind me to take my place if I don't book on this line. They know that, and they are treating me like this. They have become just like the other lines that I would have never considered booking with. Just with a higher fee. Read Less
Sail Date April 2011
Imagine that you're returning from a lovely excursion in Cozumel and upon reentry to your cruise ship, your sea pass causes the crew-member to utter the scary phrase "You need to report to Guest Services immediately."This ... Read More
Imagine that you're returning from a lovely excursion in Cozumel and upon reentry to your cruise ship, your sea pass causes the crew-member to utter the scary phrase "You need to report to Guest Services immediately."This happened to me aboard Radiance of the Seas on Saturday, April 23rd. While relieved to hear that I wasn't flagged because of a death in the family, I was forced to process news of a water main break that had occurred in our absence causing flooding in the aft section of Deck 9. We were told not to worry: Our belongings would be cleaned or replaced and during the cleanup, we could take a shower in the spa and have free drinks poolside. The huge, loud fans in the room left it unusable for the remaining 41 hours of the cruise. We were told the flood water was clean but the towels used for soaking up were turning brownish yellow and the smell was sickening...so much so that my husband was given 3 medications by the ship's doctor for throat irritation the following morning(Easter Sunday.) In the lesser affected room of the 2 we paid for, a roll-away cot was set up for my teenage daughter, and my teenage son slept on the couch. There were no other rooms as the cruise was sold out, but the regular room was obviously intended for only two people, as evidenced by the two life vests which we would have needed to share if there was need. As you can imagine, movement through that cabin was difficult and privacy forsaken. We opted not to have our laundry done on board as our neighbors reported having to wait a very long time only to receive it back damp and discolored. While one crew-member assured us this had not happened before, another said their quarters were similarly flooded a few weeks prior. So Saturday at 7:00p.m. instead of attending a much-anticipated show, we went to Guest Services for a pre-arranged meeting. Thanks to an employee there by the name of Kwame, I now refer to it as guest "Dis-Services". His words to my husband were "I don't even know who you are and I'm finished with you!" in a very belligerent tone. We were told by Tanya that our only reimbursement would be a $175credit and 35% off one cabin on a future cruise. What is that? I did not even want to continue to be trapped in a smelly boat for the last two days and nights, so I don't expect there will be another Royal Caribbean Cruise in our future, and those "coupons" will be sent back. As for those "free" drinks they offered us, I was still fighting for a charge reversal at 10:10 Monday morning as everyone else had departed for the airport or parking lot. While at the Guest dis-services desk, I witnessed another passenger in a screaming match with the representative who said she owed for drinks purchased at the last hour. She said she paid $10,000 for her cruise, and now they were making her miss her flight over a charge that was not hers. I'm not looking for a golden ticket here...just reimbursement of a product we purchased (a habitable cabin) that we did not receive. Royal Caribbean may be finished with us but any cruisers who have a choice in ships will be well-advised to steer clear of Royal Caribbean. Read Less
Sail Date April 2011
Our group of 4 drove to Tampa from New Orleans. Looking back we should have flown but we still enjoyed the drive over. Finding the terminal was a bit challenging. For some strange reason Terminal 2 has quite a large sign. So here we are ... Read More
Our group of 4 drove to Tampa from New Orleans. Looking back we should have flown but we still enjoyed the drive over. Finding the terminal was a bit challenging. For some strange reason Terminal 2 has quite a large sign. So here we are looking for a similar sign for Terminal 3- none exists (at least that we could find). After a second wrap, I spotted a smaller green sign pointing out Terminal 3. Unloading was a breeze and we opted for the valet parking. It was only $15 more and during departure,(which it was pouring rain) we were glad we did. We walked into the terminal with our paperwork and passports in hand. The lines were non-existent and were signed in by an older gentlemen. He could've been more cordial but we let it go since he was elderly and maybe was having a bad day. Other than that, embarking flowed smoothly and R.C.I. definitely has it figured out well; it took us less than 10 minutes from vehicle drop to boarding. Entering the Radiance was a bit of a different experience for us. There was no hoopla over you while boarding, no music, and no one pushing drinks. Looking back I do miss the announcement of the "Robichaux" family, as it makes you feel special and like your vacation is actually beginning and it was kinda lame to not even have tropical music being played. It was more like entering the lobby of a hotel. However, I did not miss being hassled to buy a souvenir drink every two seconds! After reading the board on this ship I was a bit concerned at its age. I have to say that being the age it is, it is well kept and hard to find many wear and tear. We made our way to the Windjammer, which was absolutely lovely and had a nice selection. I was happy to see that the tables were being cleaned (disinfected) quickly after each passenger. We had breakfast and lunch in the Windjammer everyday. The food offerings changed a bit each day and I have no complaints about the quantity or quality of the food. After lunch we headed to find our stateroom (3110). Our luggage was there when we arrived and the room was ready to go. This room had two drop ceiling beds for our teenagers. We were able to hang most of our garments and unpack the rest into the drawer space provided. All of our luggage was put inside of each other and slipped neatly under the bed. Though the room was small, as most are, we never felt cramped or like we were stepping on each other. I also have to say that our room steward was exceptional. He cleaned the room constantly, we had a never ending supply of ice and water, and fresh towels. There was also a curtain partition that made it very easy for my daughter and me to change while the men were still in the room. One negative I have to admit was that at some point it felt like the a/c in our hall just stopped working. I called twice to have it looked into but, nothing changed. We were hot most nights and slept without covers. We never did experience any smells or wet carpeting as reported by others. Our commode refused to flush one evening, but one call and a few minutes later it was back in working order. Our main dining time was 6pm and the Cascades room was very nice. The food was excellent and so was the service. Our glasses never stayed empty more than 2 or 3 minutes and our waiters were kind, funny, punctual,and full of information. The selection during dinner was nice as well. There were 8 of us at one table and no one during the entire trip had any complaints. As for entertainment, I personally found the entertainment aboard the Radiance much nicer than that of the two Carnival cruises I've taken. The shows were excellent and the dancers got really involved down at poolside. Some points that I preferred on other ships were: -music by the main pool was exactly the same everyday and throughout the day, consisting of oldies and disco. By the time you hear Staying Alive 7 times, it is just frustrating. -Radiance had no "night clubs" for those of us who wanted to have fun with our 17/18 year old. When they decided to open it, it was only open to 18 and above. Sure there were other lounges open earlier but my teen doesn't want to hear big band music or Elton John hits (neither did I for that matter). -This ship was also very limited on it's gaming as well. -Though it is posted everywhere, seat holding on this ship was ridiculous. I could walk out at 7:30am and every chair had a towel, shirt, or book but no people on them. I actually found one without, sat and timed how long the chairs were being 'held' before someone came to actually use them - try up to 2 and 3 hours! And forget the Solarium, which by the way is really nice, but forget trying to sit in there. It is worse than the main pool for seating. Instead,we hung out in the library, read, played trivia, played pool in the Scoonger lounge, hit the arcade, and played putt putt golf. We took advantage of the Spa during the evenings instead of dancing. We took the teens and did the thermal spa which was great. My daughter did the Spa sampler and loved it. My husband and I did the Rasual, which is a must. On our Cozumel day, we did the Fury Catamaran and beach break. The catamaran and snorkeling was really fun and the gentlemen crewing the catamaran were great. The beach was awesome and we didn't have to fight for chairs or much else. The day was beautiful and I would recommend it to anyone. On our Costa Maya day, we just walked around, shopped, and lounged in hammocks. It was a nice change compared to being on board and having to fight for a place to sit in the sun. We were haggled a little but nothing as bad as some other ports we've been to. We were also able to get close to watch the dolphins being fed and played with. Basically this turned out to be just what we wanted, a very relaxing, laid back vacation. The ship is beautiful and full of things to do. Though I didn't get to sun poolside much, the other offerings easily took its place. Read Less
Sail Date March 2011
After a flight to TPA I had an excellent, quick RCI transfer to Radiance - the lead ship of the excellent Radiance class. Quick walk aboard embarkation at about 1230, found that my Diamond Plus table reservation had been honored, ate the ... Read More
After a flight to TPA I had an excellent, quick RCI transfer to Radiance - the lead ship of the excellent Radiance class. Quick walk aboard embarkation at about 1230, found that my Diamond Plus table reservation had been honored, ate the usual, not very good, RCI embarkation lunch in a crowded Windjammer Buffet. Room available at 130 pm., small, only 179 sq.ft, with balcony. A quick and almost inconsequential "lifeboat drill", underway at 420 pm. and off to Mexico. Following a day at sea we were into Costa Maya where most people went off on tour. After a short walk ashore I returned to the ship as I have been able to visit all Caribbean ports thru the years and I enjoy being "alone" aboard while everyone is off touring. A horrible lunch in Windjammer but a most enjoyable quiet day aboard. Underway and off to Cozumel arriving before dawn the following morning where I repeated my custom of staying aboard while the rest of the pax were off ashore. Another horrible Windjammer lunch unfortunately. Underway a little late after waiting for a horribly drunken couple to succeed in navigating the pier to return. Off for a day at sea and back to Tampa. This was a very fine, if typical, RCI cruise. Crew very friendly and helpful, food OK at best, Captain's talks daily very informative, Production Shows very good, headliner entertainers less so, food - passable. Food is just not RCI's strength - its the area where they save money to justify low fares by using low quality, low price, foods. Its better than this bachelor can prepare for himself, but it is mass market food service at best. It is a tragedy as far as I am concerned that the Seaview Cafe, open sea days for sandwich lunches and other times during the day/night, is to be removed during the May dockyard period to be replaced by another "dining charge" restaurant. I always enjoy a cruise, am on RCI frequently, and greatly appreciate the "perks" given to their very frequent cruisers (Diamond Plus) especially access to Concierge Lounge etc. I always recommend Radiance class RCI ships as they preserve the idea of a ship at sea via their very large "glassed in" areas and outside decks. I constantly wonder why they are emphasizing Indian cuisine so much when their pax. are not Indian. The possible explanation is that the kitchen personnel are Indian, and Indian food, being largely vegetarian, is cheap. The problem is that they devote an entire section of the Windjammer Buffet to it at lunch and dinner, and no one seems to partake of it. O well!!! A quick and easy disembarkation, easy transfer to TPA and home. I return home having had a good, but not excellent cruise - but well worth the money paid. Read Less
Sail Date February 2011
Left PHL on USAir at 6:55 AM the day before the cruise just beating out an expected snowfall predicted to leave about 1-2." Plane had to be deiced first which was a unique experience for me. Great flight to Phoenix and after only ... Read More
Left PHL on USAir at 6:55 AM the day before the cruise just beating out an expected snowfall predicted to leave about 1-2." Plane had to be deiced first which was a unique experience for me. Great flight to Phoenix and after only about a 55 minute wait, flew on to LAX. My daughter and granddaughter flew a later United Flight and had to sit on the tarmac for two hours because the snow was falling faster and the deicing line grew longer. We stayed at the San Pedro Doubletree. Very nice room and the staff were exceptionally great. We used their courtesy shuttle to eat at a nearby seafood restaurant for dinner. Not a remarkable meal but all of us were famished after a very long day of traveling. Their shuttle also delivered us to the pier, also for free. Arrived at the pier at about 10:45 AM and dropped the bags off with a porter. With Set Sail pass in hand, signed in easily and quickly. After receiving Sea Pass cards, we were directed to have seats until allowed to board at 11 AM. Out of all my cruises, this was the fastest, best organized embarkation of all. In talking to some of the Royal check in staff at the pier, they were very sad that Royal would no longer be a presence in LA. I 'm sure that there will be a negative economic impact effect on all the restaurants and hotels nearby the port area, too. DAY 2: Sea Day. Although were many miles south of LA, the temperature on deck was only about 50 degrees at about 9 AM. Hopefully, it will warm up later on in the day for some sunning and perhaps time in the pool. DAY 3: Cabo San Lucas: We were allowed to begin tendering from ship to shore at about 10 am. For the amount of passengers on board, the process proceeded smoothly and rapidly. When we got to the pier, we contracted with a water taxi (Brayan Tours) to take my daughter and granddaughter to snorkel at Lover's Beach then taking my wife and I to another beach to sit, soak up some sun, and have some tropical drinks. At a prearranged time, our tour guide would pick up daughter and granddaughter, then come for wife and I so we could all return to the tender. At the tender/port area, we enjoyed a very filling Mexican lunch. Although the food was pretty good, the service was s-l-o-w. There were two very long lines waiting to be tendered. One was for the Mariner and the other for a Carnival ship. The line moved along quickly since there seemed to be an infinite number of tenders operating for both ships. Cabo seemed to be a very desolate place with the exception of beautiful rock formations jutting out of the water. It's not fair for me to harshly judge Cabo since we only got to see a small slice of the place. Day 4: Mazatlan: The day dawned sunny and bright. With absolutely no plans or organized excursions through the ship, we contracted with a taxi to show us the sights and visit a nice beach. What a great day it turned out to be! Our driver was Martin Salazar, a true gentleman and all around great person! He took us first to Royal Villas Resort where we enjoyed a very quiet, very beautiful place full of wonderful amenities for our use. The only charge was for any food or beverages you wanted. The entire staff at Royal was wonderful and pleasant, catering to our every whim. On the beach were parasailing, jet skis, and horseback riding. The ubiquitous beach vendors weren't allowed on the property's terrace which made it all the more "civilized." When Mr. Salazar picked us up at the agreed upon time, we were anxious to get a bite to eat. We asked him to suggest a good place and he recommended Lamar Seafood Restaurant to us. This place was another winner! We had a table overlooking the water, the music was quiet and low-keyed, and the food excellent. After our meal, we were taken on a short tour in the hills overlooking the water. Mr. Salazar pointed out some homes owned by Americans and others and gave us an idea of current real estate values. For about $500,000 really nice place with a stunning view could be all yours. Mazatlan was a shining jewel in my opinion. Naturally, there are all kinds of touristy places since ships come here, but there was a quaint, Mediterranean kind of charm despite the fact it's in Mexico. Every person we met went out of their way to be friendly and hospitiple to the cruise ship visitors. This wasn't a paste on type smile but genuine friendliness. DAY 5: Puerto Vallarta: Out of all the destinations on this voyage, this was by far my favorite. You could spend weeks here and not see 1% of all the beauty or experience all the things there are to do. Puerto Vallarta is both modern yet quaint in so many ways. Like Mazatlan, there seemed to be a certain colonial and Mediterranean flavor to this city. After debarking the ship, we contracted with a taxi driver to show us the sights, take us to a beach, and then to a restaurant before returning to the ship. We had Pedro Vargas for over six hours at a cost of $100 for the four of us. It didn't seem exhorbanant to pay $25/pp but was told later it could have been cheaper. I felt that I got more than my money's worth, however. After taking us high into the hills where the film 'Predator' was filmed, we sat down for a quick snack and a few beers. The bulk of the day was spent at a beautiful beach at Mismaloya Inlet, south of Barcelo Hotel. There, we enjoyed the sun, surf, and spectacular scenery. My wife, daughter, and granddaughter had manicures and pedicures while I had a neck and back massage, all for a very reasonable price. While there, we met Adrian, owner of Sea Adventure, who gave us honest and valuable advice about what things should cost, inside information about Puerto Vallarta, and so much more! I enjoyed talking to him so much that when we next return to this place, I'll either call him or email to have him set up a custom itinerary. He's the type of person you trust instantly and very likable. We wanted some "real deal" Mexican food. Adrian recommended we try Jacalito which wasn't too far from the beach. Our lunch was among the best Mexican food we've ever had. The total bill, for four, was just $50 and well worth it. Keep in mind, Jacalito wasn't a fancy place but a real, down to earth, rustic, quiet place rather off the beaten track. We got back to the ship at about 6 PM as the day faded into evening. I saw the Mariner bathed in lights which was a sight I've never seen before. It seemed 10X larger in the early evening with all her lights on. Quite a sight. Everyone in Puerto Vallarta knew this was the last visit for Mariner and they were visibly sad. Even though January is part of their high season, many have told me that business was just a fraction of what it used to be. More on this further in the review under "Final Thoughts." Day 6: Sea Day: Weather still very warm and most of the day was spent by the pool soaking up the wonderful sunlight. Day 7: Sea day: Moving north, the day wasn't as warm as previously so not much time was spent on deck. It was a good day for just 'goofing off' and enjoying the final hours of the cruise. We all attended "Captain's Corner" to learn some behind the scenes things about the ship. Afterwards, there was a nice question/answer period with the captain. Day 8: Debarkation: We chose the Express Check Out where you take all your bags off the ship yourself. This worked out wonderfully because it saved time retrieving your luggage at the pier. Since we had a rather early flight back to PHL from LAX, we had caught a taxi within minutes of leaving the Mariner and got to the airport in plenty of time. Our flight left exactly on time and actually arrived in PHL about 20 minutes early. The whole debarkation process, including clearing customs, took perhaps 15 minutes. Food: This is always the most subjective part of any cruise review so your mileage may vary. Generally, the quality of food was usually good to very good. On two nights there was prime rib and we got very nice cuts of meat done exactly how we asked. The Windjammer fare wasn't too bad with a very long list of selections that seemed to please everyone. Many have addressed how food quality has declined. My biggest gripe is how bad the coffee was. At one time, they served Seattle's Best ship-wide and it was something I really looked forward to at breakfast. However, whatever they're using now seems to be some generic bargain brand and had little, if any taste. Their juices seemed a bit more watered down and weak compared to years past. Final thoughts: Sailing on Royal's last Mexican Riviera cruise was bittersweet. All my cruises have been on Royal and they have always been perfect. The staff was awesome, as usual, and that's something that always has me coming back. The sad part of the cruise is that Mexican ports of call aren't packing the cruise ships, so more lines will probably concentrate more on other itineraries, primarily in the Caribbean. Although Royal's move to reposition the Mariner was a "business decision," I think it's because travelers are increasingly wary of news about violence and the drug trade in Mexico. I've heard from other passengers that Royal is very worried about liability issues should something happen to their passengers while on a ship sponsored excursion. Although this was my first visit to the Mexican Riviera, t no time did I feel unsafe, threatened, or in any danger. As in any trip, visitors should be wary of their surroundings and be very careful if going somewhere far off the beaten path. Should we not go somewhere because there's a very, very slim chance of violence? With that sort of reasoning, maybe we shouldn't fly since there's a minute chance of crashing. So, no matter where we go or what we do, there's inherent risk involved. Since I enjoyed this vacation and itinerary more than any other, I will make plans on returning next year. I'm toying with the idea of staying at a good, all-inclusive hotel as a base then visiting various sights by taxi. Or, perhaps it will be another cruise with a different cruise line. I am still very loyal to Royal and am sorry to see them leaving this area for greener (more profitable) pastures. If anyone would like further information about my experiences, or additional information not included in this review, please feel free to email me at 'mystyou (at) Comcast.net' Happy cruising! Read Less
Sail Date January 2011
I will Start with the transfer service From Lax to the port , on the morning of our embarkation the RC representatives met us right where our travel Agent told us they would be , they had a great big yellow flags to identify them and they ... Read More
I will Start with the transfer service From Lax to the port , on the morning of our embarkation the RC representatives met us right where our travel Agent told us they would be , they had a great big yellow flags to identify them and they where the start of the exceptional service we received on our cruise.One of our party had a very late addition to their booking and had to add a transfer ,it was seamless.Our luggage was taken and we were promptly shuttled to the ship. The checking in process was the one of the parts I was dreading because of our previous experience with Carnival. I was totally shocked ! The whole process from getting dropped off by the shuttle to checking in ,getting our sea pass and boarding the ship was only 15 minutes . Royal Caribbean gets an A+ for boarding procedures. The Ship, I had read a few reviews about how the Mariner was worn out and showing its age, I could not disagree more , I found the ship to be exceptionally clean and up to date with no signs of being old or worn out . We even noticed a maintenance person of some sort noting that a small corner was chipped off of a floor tile . We noticed a couple of times a bulb was burnt out ,only to be replaced by the next morning , it tells me that the crew was very intent on keeping up the maintenance. Also let me add that we tried to see every part of the ship and could not believe how tasteful all of the decor was . Again an A+ is in order for the ship. The Service, This was one of two major differences we found between Carnival and Royal Caribbean . We either got lucky and had the best State room attendant and waiters on board or RC holds them to a higher standard than Carnival, I think it is the standards held by RC , because others in our party had other attendants and waiters and had the same service. Our Stateroom attendant Vivian could not have been nicer nor more helpful. Our waiters in the main dining room where Clavain and Mahesh they were simply fantastic, they helped make a secret Marriage proposal go off without a hitch ,as well as provided exceptional service at dinner , I truly feel that the three above mentioned employees are an asset to RC. The Food , this is the other difference between Carnival and RC . Simply put I thought the food was awesome , we ate in the windjammer every day for breakfast, and the dining room all but one night for dinner , we did get a burger at Johnny Rockets, and did eat at Chops Grille one night. We never had a bad meal or bad experience anywhere. Food A ++ Read Less
Sail Date January 2011
Me and my husband and 2 children 11 and 14 voyaged out for our 12th cruise Our Royal Caribbean's Navigator of the Seas from Dec 9-12th. We arrived in Miami the night before our cruise and stayed at the JW Marriott, which is great... ... Read More
Me and my husband and 2 children 11 and 14 voyaged out for our 12th cruise Our Royal Caribbean's Navigator of the Seas from Dec 9-12th. We arrived in Miami the night before our cruise and stayed at the JW Marriott, which is great... Had dinner at the Oceanaire Seafood Room and I must say it was exceptional food...the lobster was great!! The next day we used the shuttle service. Very friendly and curtious. They were waiting for us and were knowledgeable of the cruise we were taking. Staff... Wonderful.... Everyone from Officers to maintenance personnel smiled and gave a "hello" when we passed. Let me just say again all the staff on the ship, is GREAT, but the wait staff in the main dining room, makes you not want to leave your table...so professional, so talented, so friendly, so relaxing..Thanks Maria and Jen... Bars.. Two Poets is good for a before or after dinner drink and smoke..very nice staff...the strawberry daquri was to die for. Johnny Rockets: I love hamburgers...they gave large portions for the money..we were served right away. The cafe 50's theme was very cool. The kids loved it! The Windjammer offered a prime rib which was delicious..the attendents were there to ask if we needed anything and very polite.. The Main Dining Room exceeded my expectations, from the staff to the food I can't compliment them enough. The portion size was a as expected....huge. And a beautiful room. There was plenty of things to do for the kids..golf and shuttle board..pools and more..very kid friendly..other activities The X Games, Rockin' Through the Decades.. Scavenger Hunts, Backstage Tour, The Art Walk, Win, Cruise or Draw, Sports Tournaments. Be sure to save time for the shows. I thought the entertainment was exceptional. Everything from the Ice Show to the Belly Flop Competition. There's not one thing we would have wanted to miss. And, by the way, the shows far exceeded my expectations! Entertainment: 1st night was Dean Austin comedian. He was very friendly and a great laugh. 2nd The show called All Access..They were a bunch of young singers and dancers. Very good. 3rd Randy Cabral..the comedy juggler..I had seen him somewhere I said to my husband...it was Jay Leno...he was very funny..love the paddle ball trick. Another thing I've come to like about RCL is the Crown and Anchor loyalty program, which has significant benefits, which is a huge plus for us...it is so nice and has such a welcome feel when we travel with RCL...I can't praise this cruise line..I have been on numberour cruises and I feel this is the best around! Read Less
Sail Date December 2010
Boarding the ship was pretty good. We arrived at the cruise terminal around 10:30 before the lines were actually open, so there was a line outside the terminal, but once the lines opened, things moved quite quickly. Our Set Sail said that ... Read More
Boarding the ship was pretty good. We arrived at the cruise terminal around 10:30 before the lines were actually open, so there was a line outside the terminal, but once the lines opened, things moved quite quickly. Our Set Sail said that our boarding time was 12:00 pm, but we were all checked in and on the ship by 11:15. We only stopped to make reservations at Chops, then went right to the Windjammer for lunch. We were easily able to get a table, but before we were finished eating, the place was packed and our table was pounced on as soon as we stood up. The doors to the staterooms were opened promptly at 1:00, and we checked it out. We were in #1362. The bed was by the balcony and the sofa was closer to the hall door. It was a new arrangement for us, but felt a bit roomier than the stateroom on Holland America that we had in September. The closet was smaller than on other ships, but adequate for us. The shower in the bathroom was rounded and although still small, gave the illusion of having more space then the rectangular ones. It could actually hold four average sized adults if one wanted to try for some kind of shower stuffing record. (Don't ask how I know this.) My husband bought the Fountain Soda package on the first day. He won't do it again. He felt he had to drink more sodas than he otherwise would have in order to break even with the individual price. With the only diet option being Diet Coke, he got tired of the whole thing. The package comes with a big insulated bottle, but is a pain to carry around. Fortunately the package includes drinks served in regular glasses anywhere on the ship. He wound up adding his own vanilla to the Cokes after our first port stop. That helped. The ship is quite nice. The Promenade is especially impressive. The Promenade Cafe is a great place to pick up a snack (loved the granola bars) 24 hours a day. The rooms that overlook it are a bit strange, but we talked to a man who was in one and said he really liked it. The double paned windows kept out the noise except when one of the parades was going on. There were signs of wear and tear, but you also saw people working on maintenance during the trip too. The best show on the show on the ship was the "Ice Under the Big Top". The skating, costumes, set, etc. were all comparable to the land based ice shows, although smaller. Knowing that the skaters are working on ice on a rolling ship was most impressive. A nice touch is that skating classes are offered late in the cruise (sign up early), and they are conducted by the performers themselves. They also handle handing out the skates and getting people signed up. It was fun meeting them up close and getting to interact with them. They were quite patient with us newbies. They do have periods when the rink is open for free skating. Some people even brought their own skates. The production shows on the main stage were OK, but the talent was not the best. We missed one that sounded like it was the only one not to miss. We did enjoy the backstage tour one day conducted by the dance captain and the lighting director. Even if the shows are great, you can appreciate what the performers especially the dancers have to cope with when you feel the stage moving. There are lots of activities on board. Of course all the usual, but the ice skating and the rock wall climbing were unique and quite fun. The fitness center was very nice and well maintained. A couple of treadmills were out of order one day, but back in use the next. The trivia and Name That Tune contests were mostly held in the Schooner Bar. There were so many people participating that it was often impossible to find a seat and once you did, to hear what was being said. For popular activities, they should find a larger more convenient venue. We found the crew to be friendly and helpful. Our waiter in the dining room, Jasonn Joya, was great, as was his assistant, Reynato. In the Windjammer, Verheek was the best. The iced tea from concentrate that they serve is undrinkable, so I brew my own, much to the mystification of most waiters, but when I put in my standard order, Verheek knew I wanted to brew my own tea and brought me extra ice and extra hot water. Kudos. The food was adequate. A few individual dishes were outstanding, but the overall quality could only be considered average. We did have an excellent meal in Chops, one of the specialty restaurants, but wouldn't have paid the extra cost for it. We got it comped as part of the deal for booking the cruise. Our major complaint was the corridor outside our room. Apparently someone was sick there, and it took days for the smell to dissipate. It made you gag, and we were holding our breath walking down the corridor until we got into our room. The second day after it happened, we overheard an officer telling the steward to shampoo it. It helped, but the smell didn't completely go away until the last day of the cruise. We really appreciate the Express Departure on RCL. We had used the same procedure on Holland America, which was much better publicized and operated. On RCL, the information was just three lines on the As You Depart sheet. You really had to look for it, then listen to the whole 20 minute TV presentation about disembarkation to get any details. The Guest Relations desk didn't have any information when we checked there. We were told to report to one location, then moved to another. It appears that the popularity of just walking off and taking you own bags with you was underestimated by the staff, so procedures were changed at the last minute to accommodate the crowd. It was a minor inconvenience, and the crowd was adapted to quickly, but with a little more planning (like Holland America does), they would have known ahead of time how many were planning on doing this. Read Less
Sail Date December 2010
The following is a fairly lengthy cruise summary from our sailing on RCI's Mariner of the Seas. I deliberately didn't use the phrase "cruise review" as I don't think anyone of us that are on vacation is qualified ... Read More
The following is a fairly lengthy cruise summary from our sailing on RCI's Mariner of the Seas. I deliberately didn't use the phrase "cruise review" as I don't think anyone of us that are on vacation is qualified to write a cruise review. That's the job for a professional person that is paid to be picky and be objective about the cruise experience. For the rest of us, when we write about our cruise experience, it's just a summary of past events and not a cruise review per se. At any rate, some background before we began. Middle age family guy with wife and 2 boys (ages 9 and 7) and my in-laws as well - total of 6 of us. This is my eleventh cruise - my youngest kid's fifth cruise and everyone else is in-between in terms of cruising experience. I think cruising is the ultimate family vacation, especially on these mega ships where they have many activities to please multi generations. Also cruising is great in that it's a lazy person's vacation - no worries on preplanning activities on a day to day basis like a driving trip. My only worry is to get us to/from the pier and leave the rest to the cruise line. Here is my personal email at Harryfat@yahoo.com if anyone has a question/comment on what I said. Some comments I am sure are not politically correct, but I try to be as objective as possible, but as discussed above, it's not always possible as this is a summary of past events of our family vacation. SUMMARY - If you don't have the time or patience to wade through all the gibberish below, just know this. Beautiful ship. First couple days my wife and the boys were saying "WOW" every time they walk around the ship and saw something they have never seen in previous ships. Such that my 7 year old said, "This is the WOW cruise" since we said wow everywhere. However, it wasn't a perfect cruise as RCI has some major drawbacks in food and entertainment. So while I will recommend RCI to anyone looking to try a new cruise line for the family vacation, I do want to caution that you need to tone down your expectation on those 2 areas especially if you are coming from another cruise line. Why pick this ship/cruise? Partly due to rotational basis - we like to rotate between cruise lines. We have sailed on Carnival/Princess/HAL/RCI and Celebrity previously, so deliberately are not Homers to any given cruise lines. All cruise lines have its strengths and weakness, just be sure you know what they are before you book yours. RCI announced awhile back that they are abandoning the west coast Mexico cruises and moving Mariner to Texas. So this was our lat chance to catch the last mega liner in the West Coast before she leaves. I have sailed on RCI many years ago on the old Viking Serenade (no longer with the fleet) and have sailed on the 7 night Mexican Riviera itinerary back in 1997, so in some ways this whole cruise was a refresher lesson in history for me. Ship - I don't think I read bad reviews on the layout/design of the Mariner (the fifth and last ship in the Voyager class). Easy to get from one end of the ship to another on deck 4 and 5. Nice muted colors throughout. Promenade deck gives the illusion of being in Europe/Asia where the residential houses are sitting atop of the commercial buildings. If you have never been on the ships with the Promenade decks, you owe it to yourself to see it for yourself. Cabin - Having said that, we booked the 3 cabins on deck 7, overlooking the Promenade deck. Of the 3 cabins, 2 are connecting (for the kids) such that for the 4 of us, we effectively had over 300 square feet of space and 2 bathrooms. Better deal than any balcony or suites for my money. If we sail on another RCI ship with the Promenade view, I would not hesitate to do this connecting cabin arrangement again. Really nice to sit out and catch the parade in the room and people watch down below. Maybe the only thing different I would do is maybe go down to deck 6 to be a little closer to the action and even more center top the bridge area where the singes stand. Food - Granted it's a very subjective matter, but I still want to devote few sentences on it. Obviously one person's great food can be another garbage. That being said, in my personal opinion, RCI probably ranks the lowest in my own when you stack up the various cruise lines we have sailed on. That's not to say someone else can't rank them number 1, but for what we eat and where we eat our meals (no specialty restaurants), RCI does not provide the best cruise out there. Not to say their food is really bad, but they lack in presentation as well as flavoring. Many times the food was either too sweet or too salty. Hard to find a good state in the middle somewhere. Pre-cruise. We drove from the SF bay area down to Torrance the day before the cruise. Stayed at the Stay Bridge Suites as they have big 2 bedroom suites with kitchens that can sleep a family of 6. After checking in, we went to dinner and walked around the shopping area before calling it a night. Day 1 Due to unexpected family emergencies, we were slightly late in arriving at the pier. I had hoped to be at San Pedro no later than 11 AM, but we arrived closer to 12 noon, which is the official arrival time for everyone. So there was a mad rush of people unloading their stuff all along the long stretch curbside. I found a spot near the far end and dropped everything off and I went around parking the van in the open lot. After walking back and meeting up with the rest of the family, they had already found a porter to take all the luggage, so we proceeded to walk toward the terminal. Greeting us was a long line out the door (at least 250+ people) waiting in the blistering LA heat. That took 20 plus minutes before we were inside the building to be in line for one of the 3 security scanners. Once that was done, we filled out our health questionnaires given to us and then stood in another set of lines to check in (around 50+ people) in our lines of decks 3 to 7. Check in itself is pretty straight forward as we had done things online ahead of time. Then we proceeded to go up the escalators to the second floor for a long walk to the alongside the pier where we did the obligatory ship boarding pictures and then we were on board the ship officially. There weren't much instructions from the workers on what's what once you walk in, but I knew from previous experience the first order of business is straight to the buffet line. I had read enough bad things about RCI food so I know to ratchet my expectation down a notch and good thing I did as I was disappointed in the overall quality and presentation on various nights. After lunch, we made our way to the cabins and after settling in, I made my way to deck 5 to change our flexible dining time to 7:30 PM instead. Later on, the cabin steward (Randy from Philippines) showed up and introduces himself. We requested that the connecting door between the 2 cabins be opened and he did that by the evening. As the luggage was arriving slowly, we walked around to explore the ship. I missed having the ship tour like the ones given by Carnival and HAL. On RCI, you are on your own to find out what's what. They do reserve a spot where first time cruisers can go and ask questions, but that's not the same as a walking ship tour. We explored various decks and ended up at the top deck to play miniature golf. My younger son got a hole in one on hole #3 and he was disappointed when I didn't have the camcorder on him in hitting that shot. My bad. Then had to get some water at the pool bar afterward as it was just way too hot in the LA 82+ degree heat in December. After which, it was the mandatory muster drill and like HAL, they also take attendance on what passengers showed up at each station. After all that, the cruise vacation officially begins. Sailing away was a dusk/night given the early winter sunset time. After which, back to the cabin to unpack. And of course, we were missing one suitcase - mine. My cabin steward suggests I go down to security level and see what happened and so I went down to deck 1 security area and there must be at least 300 suitcases in various spots. Found someone there to help me and he asked me if I had liquor in my suitcase - and I don't. So finally found mine on the other side (light blue suit case is great in a sea of black and reds) and they wanted to scan mine once more to make sure it's all good - think it's my computer cables and extension cords that threw them for a loop initially. Anyway, after everything was good, took my suitcase back to the cabin. But by then, my wife had already unpacked the clothes into the 2 cabins and so I had to utilize whatever is leftover and that confused me the rest of the cruise as I had clothes in both cabins and had to go to both sides to get dressed daily. We took the kids to the Adventure Ocean to sign them up for the rest of the week and also checked out the Promenade and went to dinner on deck 5. I had requested a table by the balcony and was granted a nice view table #540 with Lloyd, our waiter. The guy is from India and every night we were there, he would give us a recommendation of the day. If you are on the Mariner and have MTD, request his tables and you won't be sorry. The head waiter came by mid dinner to introduce himself and asked if there was anything we needed from dining the whole cruise. Just ask him for it. I told him we like the table and our set of waiters and asked that we be seated at table 540 the rest of the cruise and he said he will make it happen on the reservation system. After dinner, we walked around the ship some more and checked out the Promenade deck, which changes color/lighting in the evening. Also went to deck 3 to look at the onboard pictures and saw that RCI have kiosks that you can use your room key to access what pictures are linked to your account, a convenient feature. The kids were getting tired by then after a long day so we went upstairs and they waited for the late Promenade parade to start before they went to sleep. Whereas I was finally able to take a shower since I didn't have time to do so before dinner since I had no change of clothes from my luggage to change into. After the parade, we all hit the sack after our first day on the cruise. Oh, BTW, it was a nice parade. Great to watch it from our cabin in our PJ's and not have to fight the crowd for a good spot. I have always said the first day of the cruise is the most hectic as that's when you have so many mandatory activities (i.e. boarding the ship/muster drill) and things are happening really fast while you are trying to absorb the new ship surroundings. Whereas the rest of the cruise, you have ample time to know what's coming around the corner. Someday if they can PDF you the schedule for the first day before you leave for the cruise that would be most ideal for anal people like myself that likes to plan things out way in advance. Day 2 After breakfast, the kids went off to Adventure Ocean and rest of us attended the "Port and shopping talk". Somehow I like to attend all of these things even though I have either been to these ports previously or know enough about them through months of research on cc, so there is in theory nothing to learn from these port talks. Nevertheless, I attend them all as part of the ritual. Makes me feel like a first time cruiser again. But RCI takes these Port talks one step further. The only thing remotely resembling the "port" part of the talk is that they tell you where each stores are in each port. Think the port person gets paid by the number of times he says the words "Diamond International" in his presentation. I would have liked to at least know what excursions are available at the ports - guess would have to just watch the endless loops of excursion info on the TV in the cabin to get that info. The only port part of the Cabo presentation was him showing you on the map how to walk to Diamonds International from the tender dock. Anyway, to say that the whole hour wasn't a waste, they had a raffle drawing at the end to prevent the many people that walked out during the presentation and they called my name in winning the spa treatment. Wooh Hoo! That on top of the free one we got from the TA, we now have spa treatments galore. After that, we picked up the kids and went to the cruise critics meeting. Of all the cruises I have been on, this roll call was the most active by far and the turn out was huge. Over 100 people went and to RCI's credit, they gave out souvenir prizes to all that showed up as well as various other souvenirs prizes for the raffle. We didn't win anything from that, but it was a good chance to say hi to the people that you conversed online and we saw various folks from cc throughout the rest of the cruise. After lunch at Windjammer, went over to the spa to have an idea on what I have won from the raffle drawing and also how does that dove tailed with the free spa treatment we got from the TA. Anyway, they booked us on a back to back spa treatment for 2.5 hours on next day while we are in Cabo (supposedly our free spas can only be used on port days - when the spas are not as popular). The flip side of things is that it cuts our Cabo day short. Don't recall what we did the rest of the afternoon (can't look at the pictures as they were lost). Next thing I recall us doing was we went to the ice show at 4:45 and snagged a decent seat along center ice by row 3. In reading various reviews online, I know this is a not to be missed event and I concur. Bar none, the best entertainment on high seas on all the cruises I have been on. The show was over before 6 and we rushed back to our cabin to shower and change for the 7:30 dinner. This is one occasion where the 2 connecting cabins are great. We sent each of the kids to shower and that made getting ready a much easier process. By time we showed up at dinner, it was a zoo with long lines back up and many people were waiting for their tables as the first wave of cruisers are still lingering over dessert, especially on the formal night, people tend to take their time more. Anyway, even by time we got to the podium, our table wasn't ready from the previous set of diners and after another 10 minutes of standing wait by the door, they gave us another table by the side. Not that the other set of waiters are bad, but they are just not as good as Lloyd and I am glad we were there only for one day as we had our table 540 back to us the rest of the cruise. By time all that was sorted out, we had missed all the shows and captain's welcome and such. Had I known the delay, I would have changed dinner time to 8:15 PM instead and then head off to captain's welcome event and then dinner. Hind sight is 20/20. Oh, well. We just spent the rest of the evening walking around taking pictures on our own as well as with the professional photographers. Day 3 Woke up to bright blue skies in the morning. Cabo was going to be in the 85 range, definitely the hottest day of the entire cruise. By time we ate breakfast and got ready, the ship was already positioned outside the harbor area and getting ready to tender people to Cabo. We went to deck 12 to get some pictures of the town and scenery before headed for the tender. They had the double decker tenders as well as the regular smaller tenders from ashore and it was roomy and comfy and a short ride later, we were in Cabo. On the way to town, I took some pictures of the ship that I thought were good ones of the entire ship (more on that later). Originally we were planning to do the Lover Beach water taxi thing, but due to the free spa treatments later in the day, we had to scrap the lover's beach thing and just settled for walking around. With the notion that we will come back to Cabo someday for the Lover's Beach thing but the spa thing won't be there next time around. Cabo certainly have built up since I was last there 13 year ago. Most touristy of the 3 ports and I can see why many people like it the most. After some walking around and shopping, we headed back to the ship for lunch. The kids went off to Adventure Ocean and the wife and I went to the double spa treatment. I know I will catch flak for saying this, but I just don't understand the cost/benefit of the high end spas. Sure, it's nice, but for the price, it's not worth what you get. Glad the only thing we had to pay was the tips. But I also was expecting that they would be hard to up sell every product they have from the spa and I am pretty good at saying "No, thank you". After spa, went to pickup the kids and got them showered and changed and ready for dinner. Tonight was the flowery dress night so I broke out my Hawaii shirt along with my father in law. Glad to have our table 540 back that night and Lloyd was as happy to see us as well. Nothing like having waiters know that we like hot tea before/during/after dinner (Asian thing) and him knowing what the kids like such that their fruit appetizers showed up as soon as we sat down the remainder of the cruise. I liked my lamb shank that night. Very hefty chunk of meat. After dinner we went to the show. I know entertainment shows are subjective, but I think RCI has the worst entertainment shows at the main theatre of the cruises I have been to. Even with songs I know like Billy Joe and the Beatles, they just don't excite me. I came close to falling asleep near the end. By time we went back to the cabin, that's when I realized that I had lost all of my pictures since the beginning of vacation until midway through the day in Cabo. What the heck? Not happy, but what can you do? At least I found out earlier and still have time to remedy some of the ship based pictures the rest of the cruise. But lost all my boarding and Cabo tender pictures. Day 4 - Stone Island. Our only planned excursion. We opted for a paid tour instead of doing it on our own. I know we can save money by following the detailed instructions of catching the $2 water taxi and so on, but since we were traveling with 2 boys and the in-laws, decided that simplicity is better than frugality. Maybe in future visits, we will opt to do it on our own but for this trip, we went with an independent operator, King David tours (you can find their link via a Google search). They have received good reviews here at cc as well as at tripadvisor. I rate these guys top notch. Next time we are in town, we will use them for other tours. For the price you pay ($35/$25 for adults/kids), it's solid value. The tour guide, Leonardo, is hilarious and took care of everyone on the tour from beginning to end. In all his narrations, he said "How about that? Take a picture" every other sentence. Now 2 weeks after the cruise, my kids still laugh when they repeat that phrase at home. Can't beat that type of experience/memory. That's what family vacation is all about. I have also uploaded our Stone Island pictures in the photo album online. So you can just follow the pictures with my long narrative below to "see" what I am describing. http://travel.webshots.com/album/579370943PDRfZC The morning we arrived at Mazatlan (December 15, 2010), it was foggy and cool. Our ship was delayed in getting into the port by almost half an hour due to the heavy fog outside the harbor. So by time we got off the ship, it was later than the stated time to join the tour, but the King David folks waited for everyone to disembark before they loaded the group onto various trucks to take us to the dock to start the tour. Originally the tour includes a one hour harbor bay tour to see the caves and sea lions, but due to the fog, that was canceled. Bummer. Can't do much about that. Such is nature of traveling. So they just took us straight to Stone Island instead. Not a bad thing, I guess, since we had more time there. Once the boat docked, we were onboard the famous "Mexican Limo" tractor. As Leonardo said before we boarded, please be careful and not to break any windows while we are on it. From there, it was a brief 10 minutes ride to the restaurant, Molokay. Think the King David Company more or less books the restaurant exclusively for their tour groups (I head there were 5 different tour groups there that day). There may have been some non tour folks there, but they are the exception. So we picked a table and camped out for the rest of the day. For the rest of the morning, the kids played in the sand. The water temperature in a cool day was too cold to swim, so even though we brought swimming trunks, we never changed into them. The weather cleared up after lunch, so if you are looking at the pictures, you will see a big difference between the earlier beach pictures with the later ones in terms of fog/sunshine. The lunch itself is decent. No coconut giant shrimps as described on other threads. Guess that's the difference in going on your own versus the packaged tour food. No matter, not like it was going to ruin our day with or without the shrimps. One thing you do get with the tour is open bars. All you care to drink during the time you are there on the Island - you can see form he picture that many people like my wife all lined up at the end of the tour on the last call to have one more drink for the road (hey, why not, it's not we are driving). Think I had 3 cocktails and 1 Pepsi. Life is good when the biggest decision of the day was deciding between getting a Mai Tai or Tequila Sunrise. I couldn't decide, so I had both. As part of the tour package, each person can participate in 2 activities. Since it was too cold to swim, we opted for the land based activities. As a family, we first tried the 1 horse power carriage. It was a private tour in that it was only the 6 of us on it when it was our turn. We took a tour of the village area. The kids and in-law liked it. After that, we went back to the beach area to enjoy the sun that finally broke out. Later on, the wife and I opted for horseback riding as part 2 of the activities list while the kids and the in-laws opted out. She thinks she has the prettiest horse and I concur. Much better than mine. I think I had the biggest horse of the group and as such, he wanted to be the "leader" and always wanted to b in the front and couple times I was sandwiched in between horses and my horse was trying to squeeze in-between and trying to get to the front. One time even went off trail and our horse guide from behind had to rein him back to the trail. Anyway, it was an interesting event. After that, it was time to head back to the ship. So as previously discussed, everyone lined up for that last round of refreshment and we headed back to the dock. Going back, we were one of the last ones to board, so we ended up in the smaller truck instead of the tractor. So we got to ride in on both types of transportation - the smaller truck went faster on a short cut and provided more excitement going back. A quick 10 minute ride back to the dock, during which we each got our personal souvenir. After that, a transfer onto the 45 passenger big bus and we were back at the cruise terminal with plenty of time to spare. Mariner of the Seas passengers never switched to local time, so from our perspective, we joined the tour around 8:45 AM and came back around 2:45 PM (everyone else needs to add 1 hour for local time). Like I said previously, solid excursion experience. I know it can be done on your own for less and you have more freedom if you choose to do it on your own, but as far as tour excursions goes (and for simplicity sake), I rate these guys very highly and if anyone is interested in doing Stone Island during your visit to Mazatlan, put them on your short list of options. So after getting back from Stone Island, showered and changed just in time to watch the Sapphire Princess pull out of town as they head north up to Cabo while we headed south. Got a nice picture of them next to the Carnival Spirit that we were on exactly 2 years ago. Went to the Windjammer and grabbed some light munchies to eat ahead of dinner in couple hours. While we were there, we saw the Spirit pulling out as well in the night, leaving us the last ship in town. For dinner, had the crab salad, cold berry soup and seafood pasta with banana crème boulee as appetizer. Went to another show tonight and then off to bed as we woke up early this morning with a long but satisfying day. Day 5 Woke up with the ship already docked at PV, with the Carnival Spirit next to us once again. Surprising that Windjammer was pretty crowded given it's a port day, but guess since we are docked all day long with a late departure, many people didn't feel the need to rush off the ship. After breakfast, went up to the top deck once more for some pics and then headed out. PV is certainly the most laid back of the 3 ports in terms of vendors trying to sell us stuff. Cabo was the most aggressive of the 3 ports we were on, but that is nothing compared to the Acapulco taxi drivers from our visit 2 years ago. Had one guy that literally walked with me for 100 feet asking where I am from and telling me why I should book with him. In comparison, sure love the laid back feeling of PV. We took the shuttle that drove us to the beach zone for $4/pp. If you want the shopping area, that is $3/pp. But I wanted to start from the south end and walk back along the water front as I know there is a lot of scenery there. So after walking back up and stopping by the church area and various shops, we saw some really nice sand castle art work. Various folks were spraying water on them to keep them moist. After that, we decided to head back to the ship for a late lunch. Found a big van taxi that could fit all 6 of us and since we were in the different zone, only $3/pp. After lunch, the wife and the in-laws went across the street to the shopping area (i.e. Wal-Mart) to buy my sister the chili lime popcorn that she loves but can't get them at the regular stores. Meanwhile I went swimming with the boys at the pool area. A lot less crowded by the pool area during port days. Afterwards, we went back to the cabin, showered and just relaxed in the cabin as I people watch from our PR cabin. Really like that view. Soon after, my wife and the in-laws came back from shopping and we went out to see the Mariner cast off from the pier. I have to say that of all the ships I have been on, the Mariner has the most well lid outside Promenade walking area. No other ships lights up the area like the Mariner - other ship designers must assume people don't walk outside after dark. But I do miss the teak wood deck that's more common of other cruise ships not found on the Mariner. For dinner, had the lam chops. Easily the best meal on the whole cruise. Real nice flavoring with lots of herbs. After dinner, we attend the ventriloquist show and to top off the evening, they had the 70's music dance party on the Promenade. That is easily the longest parade/party out of the 3 for the cruise. Lasted almost 30 minutes with various hit songs from the 70's. For old folks like myself, it brings back the oldies of Bee Gees as well as the usual favorite YMCA. The cruise director is certainly all into it with his white suit and wig. There's something to be said about several hundred people dancing to the 70's music in the middle of the ocean in Mexico. Especially these are the older folks that have gone past the prime of the disco era and many likely won't go to the late night discos, but with this 70's dance party, they can all still dance at the Promenade. Guess that's the target audience for this music. Not sure the 18 year old crowd listening to the rap music will be all into this scene - it's more for their parents. As before, saw the show upstairs from our cabin and went to sleep at 11 something. Day 6 Started to head back up north and as typical of this itinerary, the ship started to rock the most that day of the entire cruise. As a precaution, took a bonine myself and gave half to each of my kids. After breakfast, went to the towel folding demonstration. Unlike Carnival from 2 years ago, RCI just shows you how it's done versus Carnival which gives towels for you to try yourself and they also sell a book on towel folding. So as demonstration goes, it's pretty blah. Just 5 animals later and you are done. After which, the wife started to do some serious shopping on the ship for the folks back at home. Then we went top side to watch the belly flop contest and a late lunch thereafter. Think the bonine made me really groggy and I was tired after the big meal and took a long nap in time to shower and changed into the second formal night. After more picture taking everywhere else on the ship, we went to dinner. Had the lobster for dinner but ordered one extra prime rib for "the table" for my wife and I to share with my older son. In hindsight, maybe should have ordered two, but we were short on time. Another thing RCI doesn't do is baked Alaska. Yes, I know, some say it doesn't taste that great, blah blah. But for me that's another one of the traditional cruise fares I enjoy that is missing on RCI. When we came out, we saw the captain taking with someone at the Promenade and I asked if my boys can take a picture with him since we missed him o the first formal night. He was very nice and chatted with my younger son for awhile. So he finally got his wish to meet with the captain. Went to another blah performance by the Royal Caribbean singers. Slightly better than the other nights but certainly nothing to write home about. Definitely not the top things they do well. Day 7 The seas have calmed down as we went past the Cabo area. No need for any meds today. Somewhat partly cloudy but wasn't as cold as I had feared for a December sea day out in Baja area - but it was windy outside the deck area. One good thing about this itinerary is that it gives you two days on the back end so you feel more relaxed & rested as you head back home with the extra day to be in the sea. But this being day 7, it meant everything has to be done by the end of the day as there's no tomorrow. After breakfast, headed off to the "Captain's Corner" whereby you get to hear the captain describing the operations on the ship and get to ask questions. While that's a good forum, I miss having the captain's farewell like I have seen on every other cruise line, including Celebrity cruise. I miss having the various departments on the ship coming out to say goodbye at the debarkation talk. So essentially RCI has no debarkation talk live. It's done via recording by the cruise director and you just watch the endless loop on TV. I am sure people will say they don't miss the debarkation talk. That's fine, but put it on for the rest of us that likes it and our last opportunity to give standing ovation for people that served us the whole cruise. I would have been very happy if they could have both activities. Or at the minimum have the crew comes out at the end of captain's corner. After captain's corner, we rushed out to see the cooking demo. Being held at a very small area right as you walk into the Windjammer. Way too small area for this venue compared to what Princess or HAL offered in our previous cruises. Since we had to stand on the side and toward the back, we left shortly thereafter. Then we went over to the back stage production tour to see what the show's back stage looked like. While that was interesting to see and talk to the various folks involved in the production shows, the whole process wasn't as "wow" as I had hoped. Guess instead of just talking about how they changed into various costumes it'd be better if they can give us some demonstrations on what they do. Way too much talking and zero demonstration. Time for late lunch and just walking around the various ship area taking the last minute pictures of places that we have missed. Then went to the photography area to buy up the place. As is typical, our family buys the most of all the pictures amongst the various cruisers on the ship. Day 7 is always the busiest time for photograph purchases as everyone waits until the end to pick the pictures they like, so it was a mad house in the area and as always, my wife and the in-laws just take all the pictures we took (I estimated to be at least 80+) and spread them out on the floor to compare and contrast the ones they wanted. After that, time to go back to the cabin and start the packing process. Always amazed how much stuff we over pack as we always assume we need more clothes than we actually need for the cruise and adding the fact that we always buy new clothes during the cruise as part of eth souvenir, so we always end up going home with stuff we never wore. Anyway, after packing and doing all the administrative stuff like the cruise satisfaction survey and customs declaration forms, we showered and headed out for one last evening around the ship. They had the singing waiters out one last time and then we bid farewell to the ding room attendants as we enjoyed the time we spent in the dining area. One last trip around the Promenade area for shopping and pictures and then back to the cabin as we had to wake up earlier on the last day of the cruise. But not before catching the third and final night time parade around 10:30. They had the crew various departments coming out, but that was a very small representative sample (say like 2 per department). Still would have liked the other cruise liens approach of bringing them all out at the stage during the day. As far as parade goes, this one has the most elaborate costumes and props. So if you only have the time/energy to catch one night time parade, this is the one to catch. Then put the luggage outside the hallway and called it a day. Day 8 - Woke up to rain in San Pedro area. Big difference from just 7 days ago when we sailed away in 82 degree weather. Today was in the low 60's and rain greeting us as we woke up. Up to Windjammer one last breakfast on board. Since we had requested one of the last tickets to be off the ship (#20), we were in no hurry to eat/get off the ship. By time we fished breakfast, headed back to the cabin to get the one carryon luggage and then we caped out at deck 5 of the Promenade deck for some water and played cards to past the time. We were supposed to be at the Savoy Theater by 9:50 per the ticket time for group 20, but we never made it down there. Around 10 AM, we heard the announcement that the last call to get off the ship has been issued, so we just walked down one deck and exited on Promenade deck 4. After going down the elevator, we retrieved out luggage amongst whatever is still left in the big warehouse area. Easy to find our luggage when there's only less than 200 left. Easy customs question/answer session and then we walked across the parking lot with all our luggage and loaded up the stuff. The rain had stopped during the walk to the parking lot, but started to come down hard at the ending part of the process and anytime I came back to the van, I was pretty much soaking wet. Missed the indoor parking of Long Beach pier. After paying and exiting the lot, got on the freeway and headed up north. The drive through LA was a breeze considering it was raining buckets. No stopping to speak of on the 405 drive up north, but lots of stops after the 5 and 405 merger up north by the Palmdale 14 area. And couple big accidents along I-5 also made going slow at times. The rain didn't let up until we got past the Buttonwillow area. We got home around 6 PM. Overall it was a solid cruise. RCI builds the worlds prettiest ships in their color design as well as their innovations of what to bring to a cruise. These guys really think outside the box on what it can be done on a cruise ship. For the traditionalist, that's not a good thing as the main emphasize is not to look outside as much as it's to look inside. Other than just couple occasions we never really made it out to the outside deck 4 to walk around like we typically do on the precious cruises. We were to busy taking pictures of the rest of the ship inside to be looking outside. In that sense Mariner was probably the right ship type for the Mexican Riviera where there are only 3 ports, so the extra sea day is great when there's a nice ship to occupy your time and energy. Probably won't be until after 2014 when the build the new locks at the Panama Canal before RCI will send another mega ship out to the west coast permanently. For those RCI fans in the west coast, they'd need to fly to at east Texas to sail on a RCI ship on a regular basis - unless they do the Alaska sailing during the summer months. In final analysis, RCI does many things well (beautiful ship/innovative venues), but also missed on other things (balh food). Everyone has always asked me what my favorite cruise line is since I cruise often, but I have always said I don't have one as each one ahs its set of strengths and weaknesses. It just depends on what you are looking for on your cruise bad set the expectation at a reasonable level in picking the right cruise line for yourself. Just be sure to match up the strengths of the cruise lien with your highest priority - for example, if you want great food, don't pick RCI. If you a fun cruise, don't pick Celebrity. If you want a cruise to be pampered with service, don't pick Carnival and so on. For us, the cruise was solid experience. Notwithstanding its shortcomings, RCI does a great job to entertain the passengers with ice shows/parades and beautiful ships. I would have no problem taking the family on RCI cruise if the price is right. I typically plan 2 vacations at a time in that I know where I will go on a cruise after the one I am sailing on so that I have something to forward to when I disembark the current cruise. Previously I had thought I will be going back to the Caribbean for 2011 and we still may, but after this cruise, the convenience of just driving down to LA and board the ship versus flying to eat coast and deal with flights/crowds in December is making me wary to just go ahead with the Caribbean cruise without some more thought. But wherever we end up, RCI will be on the short list of possible cruise line we are considering. RCI typically has a price premium on their cruises over the other mass market cruise lines due to their big mega ships and after having been on one of them, not sure if I am willing to pay that price premium over and over every time I cruise. That's a personal decision everyone ahs to make. Think for myself, if I can get RCI cruise to be within $100 of other cruise lines, I would pick RCI. But if the price premium is more than $100/pp, I would opt for something else. Anyway, think that's all I have to say. Thanks for reading this to the end for those that stuck with me on the long and windy road. If you read this whole thing, you need a vacation more than me. Regardless, like I said in the beginning, email me if you have any questions or comments on what I wrote at Harryfat@Yahoo.com. Read Less
Sail Date December 2010
This is our 30th cruise and the 3rd on the Navigator. Too bad this is the last month it will be sailing out of Los Angeles, or the West Coast for that matter. RCCL is pulling all of it's ships out of the West Coast at least until 2013 ... Read More
This is our 30th cruise and the 3rd on the Navigator. Too bad this is the last month it will be sailing out of Los Angeles, or the West Coast for that matter. RCCL is pulling all of it's ships out of the West Coast at least until 2013 because that's as far out as their brochures go. From L.A. it's going to Brazil for a month and then to Europe and then on to Houston, TX where it will be based. Houston's gain is our loss. We live in Pasadena, CA so we're only about 30 minutes from the cruise terminal so it is very convenient for us. Now that RCCL won't have any ships going out of the West Coast to Mexico, we'll have to go back to Princess, which we don't really care for since they were taken over by Carnival some years back.....As a ship's officer on Princess told me about 4 years ago, they have been Carnivalized LOL. Embarkation was easy as usual, went right up to the balcony room on the 7th floor (on the bump out portion in the center) and the room was ready. Clever, the steward was wonderful and our waiter and asst. waiter were great as well. We were on the same side of the ship and one story below where our room was last year. Room is very quiet and no one can look down into your private balcony space. All the food was good, the proper temperature and very tasty. We had no complaints at all and the value was superb. We cruise a week before Christmas because it's 1/2 the price and we would rater be home to fly off to Honolulu and spend Christmas there. Enjoy the Navigator of the Seas, Houston. Read Less
Sail Date December 2010
This was our first experience with Royal Caribbean and will not be our last. The food, entertainment, staff and the ship itself were exceptional. Firstly, if anyone could fault the food on offer, then they are hard to please. It was of ... Read More
This was our first experience with Royal Caribbean and will not be our last. The food, entertainment, staff and the ship itself were exceptional. Firstly, if anyone could fault the food on offer, then they are hard to please. It was of high quality and standard equivalent to a five star hotel. The entertainment and activities offer met the needs for all ages in our party and no one was disappointed with anything on offer. The staff went out of their way to ensure that all your needs were met and that you were not wanting for anything. The ship was well appointed and provided all the activities and adventure for all ages to enjoy from morning to night. Anyone who can find fault with anything on offer is only looking for fault. I would recommend cruising with Royal Caribbean, it is unfortunate that the grand lady Mariner of the Seas will not be cruising the same region shortly as she ventures to Europe. The value offered and the services provided exceeded all expectations and would happily cruise with Royal Caribbean again. Read Less
Sail Date December 2010
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