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We have cruise more than 30 times but this was our first New Years cruise. We sailed the Mariner 3 years ago and loved it so we jumped at the chance to cruise on this beautiful ship again. We cruised the Western Caribbean, Labadee, Cozumel, Ocho Rios, and Grand Cayman.
We got to Port Canaveral around 11:15 and were on the ship within 40 minutes, luggage drop off and all. The terminal is well laid out and easy to get around. We went to the Windjammer to eat and wait for our cabins to open up. At l PM we were at the cabin and unpacking our carry on. We didn?t have to explore the ship since all the Voyager class ships are laid out the same. We took this trip to relax after the holidays and get some rest for the upcoming tax season.
New Year?s Eve was the first night. Many people dressed for the occasion even though it was the 1st night on the ship. There was a huge party in the Royal Promenade with Champagne, streamers, and balloons of course. At dinner that evening each table had New Years hats and tiaras to wear for the evening as well as noise makers. Nice touch. We were lucky enough to be cruising with friends we met from a Christmas cruise 3 years ago. We picked up right where we left off and we?re very happy we had the opportunity to see each other again.
Ports: We really did come to rest and only got off in Ocho Rios for some coffee and Cozumel to get my DD some birthday gifts and to see how Cozumel is doing since Hurricane Wilma. The International pier didn?t fair well but downtown looked pretty good. Many of the lovely palm trees are gone and most of the beaches were devastated. The cost of some items appeared to increase. Guess its part of the recovery process. Diamonds International is helping to rebuild Cozumel so they are advertised just about everywhere now. The spirit of the Mexican people is evident and many were happy and grateful to see us. It will take them several years to get back to ?normal.? The pier that Carnival docked at is totally gone and the downtown piers are up and running.
Ship: The ship was in excellent condition. Lots of cleaning going on all the time. Hand sanitizers are located outside of each restaurant and there is a crew member making sure everyone used them. They were very hard on your skin so you may want to use your own. The food was good especially since we know what RCI does well. Don?t miss the Shrimp Scampi and Crab cakes. Our wait staff we also very good. We also ate at Johnny Rockets. The staff was excellent and performed for us. We always enjoy going there. Not to be missed if you like wine is Vintages. There are many types of wine and they sell flights (try 4 different kinds) to help you choose what?s right for you. The wine tenders were excellent and knowledgeable. We had a wonderful cabin steward also. We tend to spend lots of time on our balcony during our cruises and we enjoyed this one too. When the ship was in port we spent our days lounging in the Solarium pool and reading a book. It was nice and peaceful. They had the usual game shows, the ice show, a comedian and horse racing. RCI has added a new twist called Project Cruise Director where you try to become co-cruise director. Sounded like fun but we didn?t see much of it. The casino was packed all week so we saved some money.
The highlight of the trip for me was the Bridge tour. We were invited because we have cruised with RCI more than 25 times. It was very informative and we were able to ask any questions we wanted. The captain permitted us to take pictures on the bridge and we got to talk to him for a few minutes.
We had a marvelous time as usual. It wasn?t perfect but we were happy to be at sea once again. We highly recommend the Mariner of the Seas and her wonderful crew.