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The Cruise Ship and Cruise Line Discussion Thread!

P. 131: Disney Wish "Grand Hall" details teased!

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Ok, so Robb and Elissa's recent trip on the Allure of the Seas inspired me, and I'm thinking of booking a cruise through Royal Caribbean at the end of Oct/early Nov (probably on the Oasis of the Seas) for my 30th birthday. I have been on a cruise before - the Disney Magic - but I've never actually booked a cruise on my own. I have a bunch of questions and I thought I should start here since so many of you probably have great advice/resources.

 

* What are some good websites/forums to check out for information? I know there's Cruise Critic - anywhere else?

 

* I'd like to do a Eastern or Southern Caribbean cruise, but I know hurricane season runs through the time I'd like to go away... has anyone here ever gone during hurricane season? Have you ever had to be diverted to miss a storm? The prices seem to be a little better during that time, but I'm afraid of being unlucky enough to have to deal with severe weather. I also wanted to try and go at some point NOT during the colder/winter months since I'm in Boston and don't want to put up with flight delays/cancellations due to snow.

 

* Should I go through a travel agent or try to set up things on my own? Didn't know if it was worth it to go through an agent. I set up trips all the time, but not cruises, so I'm afraid I may miss something.

 

I'm looking to book within the next month, so I'm trying to gather all the info I can before I set something in stone. Any and all advice is welcome!

 

PS - wasn't sure if I should start a thread just for this or not... figured anything that was posted might help others too, but I don't want to hog up space, so let me know if it should be moved!

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Source I really like this idea. My wife and I have always wanted to try a cruise mainly to relax and for the food. Feels almost like a starter pack for people who aren't too sure about the cost o

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What are some good websites/forums to check out for information? I know there's Cruise Critic - anywhere else?

 

I use Cruise Critic as well. You can pretty much find anything you need on that site. Elissa or Reed might know of some others.

 

I'd like to do a Eastern or Southern Caribbean cruise, but I know hurricane season runs through the time I'd like to go away... has anyone here ever gone during hurricane season? Have you ever had to be diverted to miss a storm? The prices seem to be a little better during that time, but I'm afraid of being unlucky enough to have to deal with severe weather. I also wanted to try and go at some point NOT during the colder/winter months since I'm in Boston and don't want to put up with flight delays/cancellations due to snow.

 

 

A big group of us are doing a Western Caribbean cruise about that same time (mid October) and I am sure a ton on here have been on cruises during hurricane season. Of course, you run the risk of having a major hurricane cutting through the Caribbean and cancelling a cruise, but most of the time, ships will have alternative courses in place in case a tropical storm or smaller hurricane is in the path of your itinerary.

 

Should I go through a travel agent or try to set up things on my own? Didn't know if it was worth it to go through an agent. I set up trips all the time, but not cruises, so I'm afraid I may miss something.

 

I booked though a travel agent, but that was only because I was with a large group and got an onboard credit by doing so. I'll let others with more experience answer this one.

 

PS - wasn't sure if I should start a thread just for this or not... figured anything that was posted might help others too, but I don't want to hog up space, so let me know if it should be moved!

 

No worries, this is the perfect spot for you to have asked this!

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* Should I go through a travel agent or try to set up things on my own? Didn't know if it was worth it to go through an agent. I set up trips all the time, but not cruises, so I'm afraid I may miss something.

 

I particularly would recommend going with a travel agent, but always be sure to check directly with the cruise line to compare prices. A travel agent is likely to get you onboard credits, a free excursion, etc. It depends on the agent, but either way, booking a cruise is really easy because everything is just in one place, so if you forget to book something like a excursion or a soda package you would still be able to do that while you're on the ship.

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I have a bunch of questions and I thought I should start here since so many of you probably have great advice/resources.

 

We are all happy to help!

 

* What are some good websites/forums to check out for information? I know there's Cruise Critic - anywhere else?

The TPR Cruise Forum? Honestly, Cruise Critic really is the best out there. Cruise Mates is probably the 2nd best one that I have found, but Cruise Critic has the deepest information available.

 

* I'd like to do a Eastern or Southern Caribbean cruise, but I know hurricane season runs through the time I'd like to go away... has anyone here ever gone during hurricane season? Have you ever had to be diverted to miss a storm? The prices seem to be a little better during that time, but I'm afraid of being unlucky enough to have to deal with severe weather. I also wanted to try and go at some point NOT during the colder/winter months since I'm in Boston and don't want to put up with flight delays/cancellations due to snow.

I have sailed during hurricane season many many times and have never had an issue. Is there a chance? Of course.... Is it worth worrying about? No. I have had a few friends who have been diverted with the worst one being on a cruise when the three hurricanes hit florida... They got an extra 3 days on the ship! As with any vacation, be flexible and willing to take things in stride and you will be fine.

 

* Should I go through a travel agent or try to set up things on my own? Didn't know if it was worth it to go through an agent. I set up trips all the time, but not cruises, so I'm afraid I may miss something.

This really is a preference thing. I personally NEVER use a travel agent - but I know Elissa has one that has worked great for her and her family for years. But our crusing and booking styles are also very different... I almost always do last minute deals and almost never book more than 30 days in advance...sometimes only a week or two! I personally have found the prices and perks offered by agents to be the same or higher than what is offered directly by the cruise lines. I research prices through multiple sites (using some online agents as bases... I personally like vacationstogo.com as a search engine) and then book directly through the cruiseline if the price is the same. If you use an agent - make sure they are good... I have seen and heard many horror stories about agents that manage to screw up entire vacations. In summary... do what works best for you and gets you the best deal based on your booking and cruising style. Just never *assume* the agent has your best interests or the best price....do your own research as well.

 

Let us know if you have any more questions!

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Thanks for the help so far, you guys are the best!

 

* What about flights? I'd be going from Boston to (most likely) Florida to get to the ship... Does it makes sense to just book flights through the cruise line? I don't know how much of a difference there is between the prices through the cruise line vs. just booking flights separately or even later on closer to the sail date (like last minute fare deals, etc).

 

I have gone through the Royal Caribbean site a few times choosing different booking options just to get an idea of prices, but haven't seen a package complete with airfare.

 

* Also, I would love to go on the Oasis of the Seas, since it just looks amazing, but I also like some of the stops that the Freedom of the Seas makes, so I've been keeping it as another option. Besides the obvious size difference, how does the Freedom (or Freedom class ships) stack up to the Oasis?

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* What about flights? I'd be going from Boston to (most likely) Florida to get to the ship... Does it makes sense to just book flights through the cruise line? I don't know how much of a difference there is between the prices through the cruise line vs. just booking flights separately or even later on closer to the sail date (like last minute fare deals, etc).

 

Flights booked through the cruise line are always more expensive than if bought standalone, the cruise lines get kickbacks by the airlines.

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* What about flights? I'd be going from Boston to (most likely) Florida to get to the ship... Does it makes sense to just book flights through the cruise line? I don't know how much of a difference there is between the prices through the cruise line vs. just booking flights separately or even later on closer to the sail date (like last minute fare deals, etc).

 

Flights booked through the cruise line are always more expensive than if bought standalone, the cruise lines get kickbacks by the airlines.

 

As a general rule, the flights are not the *best* - but not always more expensive. The cruise lines don't get what most people think of as kickbacks - they simply get bulk/group rates in most cases. Domestic flights are almost never a good option to purchase from the cruiseline and will generally not be that competitive in price and will often have connections when you normally would not. Some luxury lines will have great air specials (2 for 1, first class upgrades) but they are often flying in at off times or with strange connections.

 

The one "benefit" that convinces some people to buy through the line is the protection that you will still get to the ship in some way on the cruise lines dime if your flight has issues. You can avoid this worry by flying in the day before or purchasing generic vacation insurance if you are really worried.

 

In your specific case - I would NEVER buy from the cruise line. Boston - Florida is a VERY competitive route that always has direct, cheap flights. You probably will fly into Fort Lauderdale, but if for some reason you chose a ship that leaves from Miami - your cheapest flight will still probably be into Fort Lauderdale and then you can get transportation down south.

 

* Also, I would love to go on the Oasis of the Seas, since it just looks amazing, but I also like some of the stops that the Freedom of the Seas makes, so I've been keeping it as another option. Besides the obvious size difference, how does the Freedom (or Freedom class ships) stack up to the Oasis?

Freedom class ships are HIGHLY reviewed and very well liked. There is quite a price premium for Oasis / Allure - in many cases you can get a Veranda on a freedom class for less than you would get an inside on Oasis / Allure. Unless you *really* want to do Oasis based on the itinerary... go for Freedom class.

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For our upcoming cruise on the Mariner of the Seas, (4 days to go!), we ended up booking the flights and transfers through RCCL. I checked out what it would cost to book it all separately and couldn't find a way to make it work for much less. The only flight that morning that gets into Rome in time to get to the port is kind of late, so, I figured it would be better to pay a few €s more and book it through RCCL so they would feel a little more responsible to wait for us should there be any delays

 

Unfortunately, I've been so busy that I haven't had a lot of time to plan excursions. I was trying to connect with people on Cruise Critic to join up with private tours in Israel, but everyone's groups are already full so it looks like the only option is to do it on our own, (scary), or do it with RCCL, (expensive).

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How far in advance do you/can you book excursions? Is it best to do it beforehand?

 

 

I come from the school of "plan as early as you can", which is something I didn't follow this time and now I am totally stressing because we leave the day after tomorrow and I am only informed about like 3 of our 9 ports of call! If you want to do the "official" excursions, there is a deadline before you embark, which I assume is different for every cruise line. A lot of people here use the Cruise Critic website to set up private excursions, which is a great way to save money and see the same things in smaller groups. I was planning on joining people's private groups through Cruise Critic this time and am too late for even that! So, it's best to plan before hand!

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^You can book official excursions on the ship too. On the few cruises I've been on with Robb and Elissa, there's always a huge line at the Guest Service desk on the first day because of this. And even bigger lines the morning off/night before for all the procrastinators.

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Going on my first cruise (s?) this December 10th through the 24th. (Back to back weeks on the Oasis). For one that is terrified of boats is this a good idea? I have no choice as the parents have already paid for the trip and I cant get out of it... I find the idea of cruising a great idea but not for two weeks my first try right?? Its bad enough that I cant ride the ferry from the MK parking lot to MK or Splash Mountain. I told the parents that I might be able to do a four day little excursion and they did this...

 

Also, can I bring high doses of medication onboard if I were to give then fair warning or are they not allowed?

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Going on my first cruise (s?) this December 10th through the 24th. (Back to back weeks on the Oasis). For one that is terrified of boats is this a good idea? I have no choice as the parents have already paid for the trip and I cant get out of it... I find the idea of cruising a great idea but not for two weeks my first try right?? Its bad enough that I cant ride the ferry from the MK parking lot to MK or Splash Mountain. I told the parents that I might be able to do a four day little excursion and they did this...

 

Also, can I bring high doses of medication onboard if I were to give then fair warning or are they not allowed?

 

Are you just afraid of being on a ship or do you get seasick?

 

I can tell you that the ships are so big that you really don't feel like you're on a boat. I haven't been on the Oasis, but it's the biggest one out there and judging from all the pics and R & E's TR on here, it seems like the only time you really will know you're at sea is when you can see the water. Sure your body will pick up on slight changes in movement, but nothing like you're probably thinking. I went on the Disney Magic years ago and we plowed through a tropical storm and I was sleeping on one of the fold out bunk beds in the room at the time and I barely moved/felt anything.

 

You can certainly bring medication on board - your doctor may be able to help you or you can get some Dramamine or the patch you can wear to help with any motion sickness.

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Going on my first cruise (s?) this December 10th through the 24th. (Back to back weeks on the Oasis). For one that is terrified of boats is this a good idea? I have no choice as the parents have already paid for the trip and I cant get out of it... I find the idea of cruising a great idea but not for two weeks my first try right?? Its bad enough that I cant ride the ferry from the MK parking lot to MK or Splash Mountain. I told the parents that I might be able to do a four day little excursion and they did this...

 

Also, can I bring high doses of medication onboard if I were to give then fair warning or are they not allowed?

 

Wow! First you should be very proud and feel extremely lucky that you are going on Oasis!

 

I have heard from a few people that have been on the Oasis class ships that you can barely feel anything in rough seas because of the massive size of the ship! And like the other people said, you won't even know your on a ship! I am sure you will have fun and remember its almost impossible for ships to sink.. Unless it hits a ice berg and I know there are tons of those in the caribbean

 

Just go into the ship having good spirits and you'll be fine! I was scared my first cruise but trust me, the feeling of being scared goes away!

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*Sorry for double post!*

Carnival Dream Trip Review!

Western Caribbean, April 02 - April 09 11'

 

First off a little background! I have previously been on 3 cruises (Disney Wonder, Freedom & Navigator of The Seas). My family really loves both lines and I have to say we are Royal Caribbean fans! We decided to try out Carnival on its newest and biggest ship, the Dream! Alright lets get started! (*Note this ship was at full capacity*)

 

Our Cabin

We stayed in Cabin #1338 which was a Deluxe Ocean View stateroom on Deck 1 (Riviera). Our room was actually very decent and barely found any problems. When we first got to our room our stateroom attendant introduced himself and informed us that the safe wasn't working properly but should be fixed soon. We ended up only having one problem with it during the trip but got fixed 10 minutes after we called! The beds were very comfortable and there was plenty of space for all of our things. We had two bathrooms (one was a regular stateroom bathroom and the other had a half tub/shower) which was awesome! My only complaint was that the water didn't drain immediately and I usually stood in about a half inch of water.

 

We traveled with two other families which one had a Junior Suite #7321 and a Balcony Stateroom #6305. The suite was large and spacious with a huge bathroom and the other room was really nice. Neither had complaints about their cabins.

 

The Ship & Features

I am 16 and found the ship to be very fun! My friend and I were at the slides most of the day during sea days. The line for the slides varied throughout the day but even at its busiest time I only waited about 25 minutes but the best time to go was around 5:30 when the 6:15 dinner group was getting ready because there was barely a 2 minute wait! Depending on how you went down the slide, it could have hurt. My favorite was the toilet bowl one as you got some good speed! My friend who has been about 10 Carnival ships said that they toned down the glitzy/cheesy look on the inside of the ship. My family thought the whole ship looked really nice and our favorite part was the glass elevators in the Atrium! Deck 5 (Promenade) featured a rap around deck which I enjoyed walking around at night! The teen club for my age group (Club O2) was fantastic! They had dance parties every night from 11:00 pm to 1:00 am with numerous other activities before. The ship also had teams (Red, White, or Blue according to what deck your cabin was on) and during the week they had family activities throughout different locations where you get points for your team which was very fun.

 

Food

Reading reviews of the ships food sounded like it was going to be terrible. Actually the food was amazing! It may not be the best in the industry but I sure wasn't gagging! Everyone has different taste preferences but our whole party of 8 people enjoyed the food! The Lido buffet (The Gathering) was not small by any means as was mentioned by some people. We never had a problem finding a seat! There was a line but it was usually only a 5 minute line at most. They also had some different buffets throughout including a chocolate and mexican buffet! Our only complaint is that there is only 1 specialty restaurant and was always full.

 

The People!

I had to put this is here to clarify Robb's statement that a lot of people that would choose Carnival are the Wal Mart type people! Not 100% true!!!!! We are Target shoppers!! We liked Carnival and would def. cruise with them again! We still are Royal Caribbean fans and would prefer them but Carnival is good in our eyes!

 

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Driving to Port Canaveral!

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Ships on the horizon!

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The Carnival Dream!

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Disney Magic next to us in port!

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Atrium

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From 3rd floor to 13th!

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The Crimson Dinning Room

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Lido Deck pool and screen!

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Carnival Water Works!

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Massive freddy the horn!!

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Yay for the aft pool that was filled with obnoxious college kids!

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Las Vegas or Carnival Dream?! You decide!

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Didn't see empty chairs in here a lot seeming how this was a buffet!

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Magical portals with annoying circle c brats (young kids)

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I loved this area!

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Water slides!

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Part of the Promenade Deck!

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Thumbs up for random chairs!

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These over the edge hot tubs weren't as cool as Royal Caribbeans but at least someone my age could go in them!

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Suite balcony

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Thumbs up for a heavenly sunset!

 

More pictures soon..

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Nighttime atrium

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Movies under the Stars was cool!

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Hmm!

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I believe this was Navigator of the Seas that we passed by.

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Cozumel oh jeez! Who hasn't been here?

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This shows just how big these ships are!

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Cave Tubing in Belize!

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Very neat excursion!

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Scary cave water dripped off these!

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Jen and I dancing with Juan from Peru!

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Never got to stop here in Honduras because of strong currents.. Booo!

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Good morning from Costa Maya!

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Laaaa!

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Uvero Beach!

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Add your caption here!

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Costa Maya Maya Maya!

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Yay for Mexican Elephants!

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I had to make my friends and I pose drinking water with our spoons! Trying to be like KidTums!!

 

I had a very fun time and would go on another Carnival Ship! Hope my next review can be on Allure of the Seas!!!

-Mike

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Hey all!

 

I just learned I'll be going on my first cruise in a few weeks aboard the Disney Wonder up on it's first trip to Alaska! I'm looking forward to it, though it's not going to be warm and tropical. I'm kind of doing my own thing while at ports because they all seem to have their own brewery... Thus I'll be there enjoying some local beer that we can't get down here in Orlando!

 

Anyone else going on this trip? I figure it will be mostly older people and being in Alaska, the pool won't be a hot spot, but still, I'm looking to have fun.

 

One cool thing I see excursion wise is hanging out with some of the fishermen from Season Two of the "Deadliest Catch." I might just do that one!

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Going on my first cruise (s?) this December 10th through the 24th. (Back to back weeks on the Oasis). For one that is terrified of boats is this a good idea? I have no choice as the parents have already paid for the trip and I cant get out of it... I find the idea of cruising a great idea but not for two weeks my first try right?? Its bad enough that I cant ride the ferry from the MK parking lot to MK or Splash Mountain. I told the parents that I might be able to do a four day little excursion and they did this...

 

Also, can I bring high doses of medication onboard if I were to give then fair warning or are they not allowed?

 

I love coasters but I am really sensitive to sea-sickness and any kind of rythmic moving, like swing sets and stuff. Therefore, I was totally panicky before my first cruise last year, but I just took one Bonine pill every day and had absolutely no problem. It was like a miracle! Is that the kind of medication you are talking about? As far as being on a boat, you truly forget about it after a while, and seeing as the Oasis is so gigantic, that will make it even easier. I bet you will love it!

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  • 1 month later...

I heard an advertisement for this on the radio a few days ago and thought it sounded pretty awesome. Sailing out of Ft. Lauderdale on January 1st, its the Rock Legends cruise aboard Royal Carribean's liberty of the Seas. 4 Day cruise featuring 18 bands including ZZ Top, George Thorogood and the Destroyers, John Kay and Steppenwolf, The Marshall Tucker Band, Dickey Betts & Great Southern, Foghat, Molly Hatchet, and many more. Here's the link check it out ....

http://rocklegendscruise.com/

 

While I'm not a huge fan of any of the bands performing (other than a little bit of ZZ Top), I could see this type of event being really cool. The type of crowd this event will attract will most likely be full of southern Redneck awesomness! Leather biker jackets in the dining room, mullets in the casino, and nasty topless chicks everywhere, it'll be the Wild Adventures of the cruise world .

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  • 2 weeks later...

Just booked a cruise on Mariner of the Seas for next year! We're going to Roatan, Belize, and Cozumel. This will be my third cruise, having also done a short 3 day trip on Monarch, as well as a 7 day Caribbean Cruise on Carnival Conquest. The only repeat port between this Caribbean cruise and the one on Conquest is technically Cozumel, however due to H1N1 we were not able to dock in Cozumel last time. I'm look very forward to it!

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Speaking of the Mariner of the Seas, I am finally getting around to re-sizing my pics and want to start sharing them with you all here! Since there are already so many great pics posted in Robb's 40th Birthday thread, I will focus on other aspects of our 14 day Holy Land Tour on the Mariner...

 

Beginning with the FOOD!

 

We do a lot of our own cooking at home and have kind of become "foodies". Plus, living in a big city in Europe, we have more authentic options as someone who might live in Kansas, for example. That being said, we were still very pleased with the food on the ship and ate until we were uncomfortably full at every. single. meal. Ugh. Don't go on a cruise to lose weight, that's for sure. Oh, and I'm a picky vegetarian and still got stuffed.

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I had the Asian Fried Tofu, which was pretty good.

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Tofu fo yoo.

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Surf and Turf. Better than it looks in this pic, (so I am told).

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Banana Cream Pie. Any dessert that starts with the name of a fruit is healthy and should be enjoyed without guilt.

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Hurray for Jalapeno Potato Soup!

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The Vitality page in the menu shows the healthier options. So, basically just forget that page.

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I'd like to start with five Choco-Chino Trilogies, please.

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So small, but so tasty. That's why it's OK to have five. At least that's what I told myself and everyone around me.

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The Mediterranean Spinach Pie was amazing. I had two.

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Spinach Pie!

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One page is always the "Chef's Signature Menu", which is either a recommendation of the best stuff for that day, or whatever they are trying really hard to get rid of.

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Who is Diane, and why is this Steak named after her???

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I had the Polenta Pyramid, (I think there is a picture coming), but it wasn't very good. With only 367 calories, how could it be? Can I have some grated Manchego cheese and a butter dipping sauce with that?

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It was at least presented well.

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The (slightly out of focus) menu at Portofino; the up-charge Italian restaurant.

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Because I was being a picky b*tch and didn't want anything from the starter menu, the nice chefs made me this special salad... which they probably all spit in.

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I think this is the Carpaccio from the top of the menu.

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More Portofino.

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Filetto di Manzo, which Markus said was awesome.

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This is my mountain of Taglierini al Pesto. Burp.

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This, my friends, is the main reason for going to Portofino.

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We ordered all the deserts except for the Torta thing, and risked rupturing our stomach lining in order to try everything. They were all really, really excellent.

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Three chocolaty taste explosions waiting to happen right inside your mouth.

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We didn't eat at Chops, but you could always order this slab of meat in the main dining room.

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During certain hours in Vintages Wine Bar, you get free Tapas with any glass of wine. Unfortunately, you don't get to choose what Tapas you want, and we got a big ole plate of meat, (some of it was already eaten when I took this pic), and a few olives. I enjoyed the olives.

 

And that's all the pictures that can fit in this post, so stay tuned for the next best thing to all the food on board: the drinks!

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