Thursday, June 11, 2009
Royal Caribbean’s Mariner of the Seas, pictured here, is the first cruise ship I’ve ever been on, and I was reluctantly ready to have a good time when we boarded in March of 2007. Joining me were my friends Cathi and her sister Barb, Toni, Angela, and my sister-in-law Carolyn. I’d always heard the same hesitation from people who’d never been on a cruise: “I can’t imagine being stuck on a ship out in the ocean,” “The last place I want to vacation is on a cruise,” or “I think I’d go stir-crazy in those little cabins.” Well, those notions were very quickly dispelled as soon as we were on-board. We walked into an Oz-like city of a gorgeous Main Street lined with shops, restaurants, and pubs. Sky lights of stained glass drenched the street with sunshine by day, and at night street and shop lights transformed the main boulevard into a Mardi gras atmosphere. There was so much to discover and we needed our full seven days to take advantage of all the ship had to offer.
You might think that when meals are included in the price of a cruise, you’ll be settling for sub-par fare. Not so! If you’ve never been treated like royalty, go on a cruise and you will be. Each table is assigned its own personal wait staff (not a waiter, a staff of attendants to cater to your every whim!). Every time I said thank you, the staff responded with “my pleasure” and meant it. Each evening’s meal concludes with a menu for the following evening’s meal, and choices are made. Change your mind the next day? No problem. You can basically have whatever you want. Our friend Barb requires a gluten-free diet, and they baked her a loaf of gluten-free bread every day! The ball rooms are impressive, with tiers of one elegant dining room over another, all overlooking a magnificent central staircase where, at the end of the meal, the entire wait staff join together to perform for the diners. It’s really amazing. I had the best glass of wine I’ve ever enjoyed on that cruise. It was Santa Margarita’s Pinot Grigio, and I am not even a wine drinker!
Since there were six of us, my friends and I had our own table and were not joined by other cruisers, though if we had to share a table with others, we would have enjoyed it. There’s something about a sense of community that evolves as people travel together. It’s a lot of fun and by the end of the cruise people say hello to many familiar faces.
Room service is always an option, but we loved getting dressed for our 8 p.m. dinner seating (not too dressy, though some did get dolled up!) and also enjoyed breakfast on our own balcony overlooking the ocean or ports of call. There are many options for casual to elegant dining, and the strangest thing to get used to is the café on the main drag where you could choose a snack any time of day, at no charge, ever! For me, one of the biggest highlights of the trip was a guided tour of the fantastic 3-story kitchen by the head chef. Now that was impressive! I bought Royal Caribbean’s cook book just so I can remember the wonderful meals we were served.
I could write about my happy cruise forever, about the comfortable cabins, the live entertainment, the casino, the beautiful pools, the ice skating rink and skaters, the movie theater, the internet lounge, the library, the beautiful shops, THE PORTS OF CALL, being made to feel like a queen, and the overall quality of the experience, but I’ll stop here. If you are considering a cruise and hesitate because you feel it’s too confining or that you won’t like the food, I’m here to tell you to go for it. Even if you never step foot off the beautiful boat, you won’t be sorry!
Photo: Jeannie Eddy, March 2007
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