Saturday, February 26, 2022

Mardi Gras Cruise Review - February 26, 2022

Mardi Gras Cruise Review - February 26, 2022
Just The Facts:
Ship:  Mardi Gras…Largest & flagship of the Carnival fleet. 182,000 gross tons. 5282 capacity.
Ship Captain:  Allessandro Iemmi   -  Hotel Director: Damir Mrsic  - Cruise Director: Chris, the Flying Scotsman
Ports: Port Canaveral - Nassau, Bahamas - Amber Cove, Dominican Republic - Grand Turk, Turks and Caicos Islands
This is my fifth cruise on Carnival’s new flagship, Mardi Gras, My 94th Carnival cruise, and my 175th cruise overall.  I am sailing as a solo on my third leg of a B2B2B2B, four consecutive cruises on the Mardi Gras. I am sailing with a group of my regular sailing friends this week.

Day One -- Saturday --  February 26th, 2022 -- Port Canaveral Embarkation
Smooth seas and I slept very well although up at 4:00 am. Beautiful watching the Disney Fantasy pass by us as the ships align themselves for entry into Port Canaveral. We entered the outer approach by 5:30 am the last of four ships entering the port this morning. The Mariner of the Seas passed us at 6:20 am after we were already docked, a wonderful ship. I enjoy it when the ships are lit up and pass close…the lights are beautiful. I packed for the move to the new cabin, same deck close by so easy. I had a very nice breakfast at the Blue Iguana: Huevos Rancheros, with two fried eggs, Arepas, and Watermelon. I moved into my new cabin about 8:30, it’s on the same deck so I moved my items myself. I then went to the Flamingo Dining Room to meet the B2B guests. There are 157 on this cruise, so 40 more than the last cruise. We were marched down to border security and back on board by 10:15 am. Very good turnaround time, the face recognition system helps. I went to the Summer Landing and purchased a Cheers program prearranged to receive the advance price. The group met about 10:30 and we welcomed new friends who boarded with Bloody Marys, Beer, and Cocktails. It became the best party on the cruise in short order. Cabin time to set up, call home and rest before meeting at Brass Mongolia. The group split and ate at the MDR, Big Chicken, and Cucina del Capitano. I did the Italian. I ordered the Arancini & Nonna’s Meatballs then a new entree: Veal Marsala and Tiramisu for dessert. All excellent as was the service and we had a very nice table. After dinner, we were actually lucky enough to get five seats at the Alchemy Bar so I was able to get a good value on my Cheers package by sharing. My Florida friends met Daniel for the first time we all enjoyed premium cocktails. We also posed for a partial group photo at the Fiat, and some tried out for Family Feud…no chance of us being selected. I retired to the cabin as I had a long day. It was an easy turn-around and FUN day on the Mardi Gras.

Day Two -- Sunday --  February 27th, 2022 -- Fun Day at Sea 
Calm seas overnight and I slept well. Woke to a sunny day, and updated my blog as well as some writing while watching the sea from the cabin balcony. The cabin is the opposite configuration to the last cruise, the couch and vanity area next to the balcony with the bed toward BR and entry. Opposite last week so some different orientation especially when you get up during the first night. I think I prefer the bed next to the balcony. I went down to Summer Landing for a Bloody Mary at the bar, then joined the group there. We played Sports Trivia, we did fair, then I entered the Putting Contest. I at least made the second round. A few more cocktails then I was off to the BiG Chicken about 1:30 for lunch. Great Lunch. I did a walkabout, Serenity was busy, but a big space to handle a crowd. No wind so the forward area was being used. Cabin time until the 5:30 meet-up in the French Quarter. We enjoyed cocktails and tried to make reservations for dinner in the MDR and were faced with a 60-90 minute wait time. A logistical mistake...we should have done another dining venue…so more cocktails and the music of New Age Violins until dinner. We finally got a table and enjoyed our Elegant Night dinner, I ordered Italian Meatball Soup, Green Salad, Prime Rib, Lobster, and a Fruit Plate for dessert. The food was good, service adequate, but the long wait was a pain. After dinner, I went to the Piano Bar and really enjoyed the PBP Eden, the first full piano bar set I’ve seen since the Breeze in October. I then went to the Alchemy Bar and who should be there but the Snoozemates’ crew. So FUN at the Alchemy Bar. I also met several Alchemy Bar Fans. Yes, we closed it down, I think most in the group hit the 15 limit on the Cheers. A stop at the casino to bet my $25 free play…nope, didn’t hit but was fun playing. It was a very interesting FUN day on the Mardi Gras.

Day Three -- Monday — February 28th, 2022 -- Nassau, Bahamas
Smooth seas overnight. I woke about 7:00 am and we were already docked in Nassau.  We are docked at the new pier but the same port location. I reviewed my posts from late last night and did reviewed the world news, then met friends in Summer Landing. Four of us walked through town and looked at shops and the recently reopened Straw Market. We went to Goldies for lunch and beers then taxied back to the ship by 1:45 pm. We played a few games of trivia then back to the Cabin to sail away about 4:00 pm. I went by Big Chicken for a snack before it closed at 5:00 pm. Basically because of the huge wait to get into the MDR the day prior. The group met as usual in Brass Magnolia and ChiBang was the dining of choice, it was about a 30-minute wait. We had eight in the group ng tonight an easier number for service. I ordered light, all Chinese: Egg Drop Soup, Sweet & Sour Shrimp, Hakka Noddles, small Ice Creme for dessert. First time to order this particular entree and it was good. Service was slower than previous visits, but we have a larger number of guests onboard. After dinner, I collected my Diamond gifts and B2B photo from Pixels. Finished the day at the Alchemy Bar with friends again. Three big events (Family Feud, Deck Party, & Production show on Center Stage) going on tonight so easier to get a seat at the bar. I did not stay late tonight and retired by 10:30. It was another Fun Day on the Mardi Gras.

Day Four -- Tuesday --  March 1st, 2022 -- Fun Day at Sea
Smooth seas overnight and I slept very well, I feel rested after some recent long days and fighting crowds.  A beautiful day so hopefully a lot of guests on outer decks today.  The first of the month came quickly so reviewing bills and updating the blog this morning before going to Summer Landing for a Bloody Mary.  I did a walkabout the ship before the Diamond Luncheon at noon.  The same menu, hoping it will be changed soon, so I ordered the Pork Belly, the NY Strip Steak, & Tres Leches dessert.  It was good.  Afterward, I changed into my Mardi Gras T-shirt and beads for the rest of the day, since today is actual Mardi Gras. Several of us had a round of Putt-putt golf on deck 18, then met on deck 17 by the Red Frog for beers & snacks.  I had a small Guy’s burger…OK style.  Cabin time before meeting my FL friends for dinner in the MDR.  We went earlier and were seated within 15 minutes and even requested a particular waiter…much better than the last visit.  One of my favorite menus tonight and I ordered: Roasted Broccoli & Three Cheese Soup, Baked Meatball,  Linguine with Sausage, and Bitter & Blanc for Dessert.  It was good and the service best of this cruise.  After dinner, I visited with friends at the Alchemy Bar while the girls went to the Flying Scotsmen Show in the Center Stage.  The Girls and the rest of the group ended up at the Alchemy where we had our Mardi Gras party.  It was fortunate that we all got seats at the bar.  It was great fun as much as I have had at Alchemy in years.  Daniel and Jennifer and all were on point tonight.  Vasi and Alexander as well.  A real Mardi Gras parade by guests making a Second Line was fantastic, included throwing beads and they were dressed to the nines.  Anything unique and different is good!!  Late, we did go down to Fortune Teller as my Partner Kelli is a fan of Jason and I could be served by Natalie all day (twist my arm). It was a great Mardi Gras day on the Mardi Gras.

Day Five -- Wednesday --  March 2nd, 2022 -- Amber Cove,  Dominican Republic 
Smooth seas overnight and I slept very well. I was up around 8:30 am and we were already docked at Amber Cove. Having just been here I stayed on the ship today. Cabin time until I went up to the Serenity Deck for some hot tub time then Bloody Mary’s from the Serenity Bar. About 1:00 I went to Lido and Big Chicken ... I had an MDE, the basic Chicken Sandwich, two Chicken nuggets (they are large), French Fries, and Slaw. It was wonderful. I then returned to the Serenity deck and visited with the FL girls and another dip in the hot tub. A short nap may have occurred in a lounger. Cabin time and an intended short nap went long in fact I had to hurry to make dinner in the MDR by 6:00 pm. We had the same waiter by request, Severo, Jr., and an excellent table. Tonight I ordered the Onion Soup, Green Salad, Crusted Chicken, and Apple Pie with ice creme for dessert. It was very good I’m liking the MDR better at an early time. I had a one quick cocktail at Alchemy then went to the Center Stage to see the production show 
The Residency featuring the Center Stage Band, followed by a short Magic Show, then at 8:30 the feature show Lovin’ Vegas. That show features the full band, the Singers & Dancers, and a group of Aerial performers. A very entertaining show, my first time to see it as my previous attempt on a previous cruise was canceled due to heavy seas. I will see it again. Following the show, we went to the Fortune Teller Bar for one cocktail for me, then to Alchemy for the Spicy Chipolte Martini that the girls enjoy. The rest of the Group was there too. Not the heavy partying of Mardi Gras night. We sat on the rail and watched Owen's solo show from the French Quarter stage below. It was a good day on the Mardi Gras.
Day Six -- Thursday --  March 3rd, 2022 -- Grand Turk Island 
Slight rolling seas overnight and I slept well. I went to Blue Iguana for my favorite breakfast at sea: Huevo Ranchero with two fried eggs with Pico de Gallo & melted cheese on top, sliced Watermelon, and an Arepas. I am again skipping going to Jack’s Shack. I’ve already been this year. I love the owners and concept but they are now so busy it’s not as fun with having to cue at the bar and even finding a seat. Go very early or go very late. I prefer late, but with us leaving early today on this itinerary (no San Juan) I’ll skip as I did two weeks ago. Looking for something different I signed up for 
Tony’s Island Trolly Tour. The earliest available was 11:15 am so I chilled at the isolated location I found last visit (with free WiFi) until tour time. I’m glad I did it, I’ve never toured the island having always automatically gone to Jack’s. It was two hours, with stops in old Cockburn Town and the lighthouse (photo left). Lots of donkeys roam everywhere on the island, especially at the Lighthouse where they expect a handout. As mine now does on the Ranch back home. I had a Coke and bought some local Primitive Art in Cockburn Town, just trying to help the local artists. Lots of beautiful beaches, I would certainly consider renting a golf cart and find an isolated beach in the future. I was back on the ship by 2:00 pm. The Elation sailed away by 4:00 and we followed by 4:15. Again a horn exchange between the two ships but not as impressive as two weeks ago, that occasion was the first meeting of the two ships so perhaps a horn salute if there is such a thing. I had dinner for a third night in a row in the MDR with the FL girls and the same waiter. The food was good. Tonight I ordered: the Clam Chowder, Stuffed Mushrooms, Four Season Salad, and the Filet Mignon entree. For dessert the Key Lime Gelatin. After dinner, I met Snoozemate friends at the Brass Magnolia for some Jazz. The show: Instrumental Grooves with Washboard Joe. Wow! They are new to the ship, but my first time to hear them…outstanding, we sat through two sets then joined by the girls for the third…also perfect for the French Quarter venue. Afterward, we heard a few songs in the Summer Landing. I was on my way to retire but caught the final half of the Production Show with Aerials. I had met the creator of the aerial shows, Jason, on the first turn-around day and I will catch all three of them next cruise. It was a FUN day on Grand Turk and the Mardi Gras.
Day Seven -- Friday --  March 4, 2022 -- Fun Day at Sea 
Rolling seas overnight and I slept well. About 10:00 am I went to Summer Landing for Bloody Mary’s and visit with the Snoozemates Group. We made a morning of it with Beignets, Champagne, and Bloody Mary’s. About 1:00 pm we went up to Sea Dogs on deck 16 for lunch, first time I have eaten here and it was good. They had Tiramisu & Coconut at the Gelato Station so I had Coconut and took two to the FL girls playing Trivia. At 3:00 pm I had my Rapid-Antagen test for my B2B cruise tomorrow. A lot of back-to-backs this time: 230 so more each week. The test went smoothly. The Diamond Party was at 4:00 pm, I skipped as it will be the same as previous and I have a Cheers package this week. I meet the group at 5:30 in the Brass Magnolia then went to dinner with the FL girls in ChiBang about 6:00 pm. I had my favorites: Egg Drop Soup, Green Salad, Kung Pow Chicken, Hakka Noodles, and Ice Creme for dessert. Afterward friends met in the Brass Magnolia for cocktails and listen to Instrumental Grooves with Washboard Joe (photo right). It was another fun evening. Good-byes to all debarking then I retired to the Cabin and updated this blog, then checked news in Europe and Ukraine. It was an easy lazy day for me. Guests seemed to enjoy the outer decks on this last sea day and the evening entertainment... It has been a good cruise on the Mardi Gras.
Mardi Gras on the Mardi Gras
Snoozemates, Friends, and Colleagues sailing
The Themed Bars: Alchemy, Fortune Teller, & the Brass Magnolia
Instrumental Grooves with Washboard Joe
Tony’s Shuttle Tour in Grand Turk
Big Chicken, the MDR (with Severo), & Guy’s Burgers

I never turned-on the Cabin TV


Saturday, February 19, 2022

Mardi Gras Cruise Review - February 19, 2022

Mardi Gras Cruise Review - February 19, 2022

Just The Facts:
Ship:  Mardi Gras…Largest & flagship of the Carnival fleet. 182,000 gross tons. 5282 capacity.
Ship Captain: Allessandro Iemmi   -  Hotel Director: Damir Mrsic  - Cruise Director: Chris, the Flying Scotsman
Ports: Port Canaveral - Cozumel, Mexico - Costa Maya, Mexico - Mahogany Bay, Isla Roatan Honduras

This is my forth cruise on Carnival’s new flagship, Mardi Gras, My 93rd Carnival cruise, and my 174th cruise overall.  I am sailing as a solo on my second leg of a B2B2B2B, four consecutive cruises on the Mardi Gras.  I am meeting a group of my regular sailing friends this week.

Day One -- Saturday --  February 19th, 2022 -- Port Canaveral -- Embarkation 
We had smoother seas overnight but I didn’t sleep well. I couldn’t get to sleep yet I was up early than I wished to pack since I have to change cabins for this cruise. I packed in less than an hour and since the food venues were open early…I did the Blue Iguana at about 7:30 am. They began regularly announcing self-debarkation by 7:05 am so I assume the Diamonds and other priorities must have rolled off before 7:20 am. After breakfast, I went to the B2B guest met at 8:45 pm in the MDR. We received our new cards, a voucher for a cocktail, and a voucher for a photo, these were to replace the little B2B ceremony we usually get. About 120 guests were doing the B2B. About 9:50 am we were taken down to customs and went through a facial recognition ID. Then back on the ship by 10:15 am. Easy Peasy. I went up to my new balcony cabin on deck 16 and my bags were there so plenty of time to set up my cabin. I then did my Muster Drill check-in. I was meeting my cruise group in the Summer Landing so I started the day by purchasing a Mason Jar mug from the Pig & Anchor bar, these can be refilled for a discount and I can use them for the next three cruises. I had BBQ for lunch and the 32 oz. mug of draft beer. All my friends were on board by 2:00 pm so I retired to the cabin for some rest. Safety drill announcements make a nap difficult, but I did meet my cabin steward Rose and requested ice, robe, and mid-day service. I did enjoy the Elation sailing past us and our sail away…it will be nice having the balcony this week. I met the group at the Brass Magnolia for cocktails at 6:00, New Age was playing, then we went as a group to the Pig & Anchor for dinner as the Filet Mignon is on the nightly special on this night. I had the Filet, St. Louis style Pork Ribs, the pickled vegetables, Slaw, and Fries. It was excellent. The best meal, by far, on the Mardi Gras in my opinion (photo above). After dinner some of the group went to the casino, some to explore the ship, some to the Center Stage…I retired to the cabin. It was an easy and great day with old friends onboard the Mardi Gras.
Day Two -- Sunday --  February 20th, 2022 -- Fun Day at Sea 
Smooth seas and I slept very well. I was awake before dawn and browsing on the internet and updating this blog as usual but did go back to sleep. I was up about 9:00ish and it is a cloudy day hopefully many of the 5200+ guests will be able to get some sun and deck time today, if not it will be very crowded inside. I picked up my Diamond gift and Pin from Pixels on the way to Summer Landing. I met friends for a super-sized Bloody Mary and had a nice breakfast from the Pig & Anchor buffet: Eggs Benedict, Bacon, Potatoes, and Grapefruit. Afterward, I picked up my $25 free play chip from the casino, I still have last week's chip, I’ve been too busy to play. The Sun began to break just after the Captain's noon announcements. My balcony had the most sun of anyplace on the ship so I sat out for a little while and enjoyed a Coca-cola. Thankfully I later got some shade and had some great balcony/cabin time this afternoon. I finally set up my little JBL speaker and hung it with a magnet on the wall by the TV and balcony door. Perfect. About 4:00 pm I went on a walkabout then stopped at the Alchemy Bar for a nice cocktail by Daniel.  I met the gang at the Brass Magnolia for cocktails at 5:30 pm. Nice social time before our group reservations for La Cucina de Capitano at 6:30 pm. We had a nice large table and our waiter was Winsu who waited on me twice before back on the Carnival Sunshine ten years ago. Tonight I ordered: the Arancini, Nonna’s Meatballs, a Pasta Pomodoro (as a starter), and the Lobster Tail entree. It was a very good and filling meal and some great FUN among good friends. The group split up for Music, Casino, or a Nightcap.  It was a FUN and lazy sea day on the Mardi Gras.

Day Three -- Monday — February 21st, 2022 — Isla Cozumel, Mexico 

Smooth seas overnight and I again slept well. We arrived at Puerto Maya earlier than the 10:00 am scheduled arrival time. I met a friend for breakfast at the Blue Iguana and I had the usual Huevos Rancheros with fried eggs, Watermelon, and Arepas. I prepared laundry for pick up, thank you Diamond VIFP Club for the complimentary service. I met the group at noon and we shared a van into San Miguel ($16 for 8). We went to Woody’s Bar & Grill located just off the main square where we had a table reserved for us. We enjoyed Hamburgers, Cokes, Beers, Guacamole, and more. The live music was fantastic today and we made a day of it. Some went shopping, had pedicures, or visited the church. I was surprised with a Birthday Cake so that was special indeed. Thanks, Woody’s and Nelly. Most returned to the ship earlier than I but that allowed me time to use the great internet and get an hour + of work done. I returned to the ship about 5:00ish. I met some of the group for cocktails in the French Quarters Brass Magnolia for cocktails then we went to dinner at ChiBang. I ordered the Egg Drop Soup, the Slow-Braised Pot Belly, Kung Pow Chicken (very spicy) with Hakka Noodles as the side dish, and Ice Creme for dessert. I have dined in ChiBang several times, but tonight was the first time I knew that they had a ‘showtime’. It was two Dragons that marched around the room to music…interesting to many I suppose. After dinner a walkabout then cabin time. Bosque Travel booked six cruises online this evening. It was a surprising day in Cozumel today.
Day Four -- Tuesday --  February 22nd, 2022 -- Costa Maya, Mexico  
Smooth seas overnight and I slept very well. I woke about 9:00 am after a late night and we were already docked at the pier in Puerto Costa Maya. I continued some business and actually was able to log into some secure accounts that require secondary security by using the Carnival WiFi on my laptop and my iPhone using data through Mexico. Luckily my balcony is high on the ship and I’m facing the mainland so good signal. Sometimes we do need to work especially when on a long trip. I went to Big Chicken for lunch, Tender Basket with Slaw…maybe the best food on the ship. I saw some guests with Guy’s Burgers and they looked to be cooked correctly so I’ll give them another chance this cruise. About 2:00 pm I went to ride The BOLT, the only roller coaster at sea. No line at all just a steady flow of riders as doing the reservation online helps tremendously. The ride was great, I just let the governor speed take me around because on a previous ride I was going full throttle and was going too fast to enjoy the views and ride. I only used the booster when I came through the terminal for the second loop. Later watching the video that my friend took it looks like an old man just barely moving along, but believe me it seemed fast to me. It would take some practice to actually drive it perfectly through the course. Bottom line: It was FUN. I stopped by Red Frog Tiki Bar briefly as I saw new friends and got the celebratory birthday ‘bells and whistles’ from Pedro the bartender. Nice to be recognized without them seeing it on the ticket. I did not go ashore today but used the opportunity to call home as I have telephone service in Mexico. I later did a walkabout stopping at Cherry on Top for another gift card and at Fortune Teller for a cocktail. Smaller group meeting at Brass Magnolia and for dinner tonight at La Cucina de Capitano. Tonight I ordered my favorites: the Arancini & Nonna’s Meatballs then new items: Ligurian Minestrone soup and the Chicken Parmesan entree. Excellent as was the service and we had a nice table. Group split for various events and venues. It was an excellent Birthday on the Mardi Gras.
Day Five -- Wednesday --  February 23rd, 2022 -- Mahogany Bay, Isla Roatan, Honduras  
A little rocking of the seas overnight and I slept well but short time. I woke very early and out of habit from living in the country (without bandwidth) taking advantage of faster internet times. We began docking before morning light by 7:00 am. I went back to sleep and had cabin time until noon. I met the group on deck 8 and we went up to deck 18 to watch a couple ride the BOLT at 1:00 pm. While up on deck 18 Sports Deck I had a game on Miniature Golf on the 9-hole course, I had not done that in a while, I did get one Ace. I’ll do it again. I planned on doing the slide but it wasn’t open for some reason. The entire group went to Guy’s Burgers for a late lunch, it was good, properly cooked Guy’s style. We also decided we won’t be meeting for dinner this evening, it was a filling late lunch, I had balcony and cabin time the rest of the afternoon…I have a great view of Mahogany Bay (photo above) and a good combination of shade and sun on my little piece of Lido deck. I went to the Fortune Teller for some cocktails about 7:00 pm then ended up at the Alchemy Bar where Pedro prepared an interesting Absinthe cocktail…so good I had to have another. I enjoyed the show with Alchemists Jennifer and Pedro and visiting with the guests at the Bar very much. Good to know the younger generation of Alchemists are talented and entertaining. I did a walk about the ship before returning to the cabin, a lot going on on this large and beautiful ship. It was a FUN day on the Mardi Gras in Mahogany Bay Roatan.

Day Six -- Thursday --  February 24th, 2022 -- Fun Day at Sea 
Somewhat rocky seas overnight but I slept very well and late for me. Many of the group met in Summer Landing for Bloody Marys and that was my breakfast, but with three slices of bacon on the drink, it was fine. I met the group +1 in the Brass Magnolia prior to the Diamond Luncheon at noon. With over 200 Diamonds on board, it’s a big turnout for the luncheon. We actually sat at my favorite table plus a four top so all was well, especially with two of my favorite cocktail servers assisting. For lunch, I ordered the Lobster Bisque, the Pork Belly, the NY Strip Steak entree, and the Fruit Plate for dessert. The food was good, but as a good friend mentioned, ‘we’re here for the drinks’. It was a FUN get-together. Afterward, I had cabin time, tried to nap, but very busy with client bookings and financial accounts. Being on a cruise ship certainly contrasts the current world outside. I feel sorry for crew who are from the Ukraine.  Guests out on deck were enjoying the cooler than normal weather so staying in the sun perhaps too long. Tonight is the second elegant night so we decided to eat in the MDR as did most of the other guests. We had a 20+ minute wait for seating that is acceptable on a busy night, but the service was also very slow. The food was good though. Tonight I ordered: two Shrimp Cocktails, Stuffed Mushrooms, Four Season Salad, and the Filet Mignon. After dinner cocktails at the Alchemy Bar were very nice. I retired after the mini Mardi Gras parade came by the bar on their way for the late Mardi Gras show on the Center Stage. I watched a movie in the cabin, Carnival doesn’t many choices on the Video on Demand channel, but the big screen TV in the cabin is wonderful. It was a nice Day at Sea on the Mardi Gras.
Day Seven -- Friday --  February 25th, 2022 -- Fun Day at Sea  
Smooth seas and I slept very well. I woke at a normal 7:30 am this morning and had my morning accounting done by 9:00 am. So off to the Summer Landing for a Bloody Mary. I used my Sea Day Brunch drink voucher and had my first at the bar, then had a nice Breakfast topped off with another Bloody Mary and beignets from Emerils. Thanks, friends. Not busy this morning in Summer Landing perhaps because the weather is the best of the cruise and most guests are on deck. Walkabout on the ship including some area never seen on outer deck 8. I had my Rapid-antigen Test at 1:30, I was a bit early and it went very fast. I had a quick BBQ lunch with a friend then went to the Platinum/Diamond Party in the Mardi Gras Theater at 4:00 pm. Following the party, our group met at Fortune Teller Bar for cocktails. Dinner tonight was at La Cucina de Capitano. Tonight I ordered my favorites: the Arancini & Nonna’s Meatballs then different items: Ligurian Minestrone and the Farfalle Al Pistachio entree. Apple Crostata was my dessert, and everything was very good. Service again by Winsu. After dinner, the group split up to Casino, the Centerstage, or back to the cabin to pack. I did a walkabout then retired early. It was a lovely final sea day on the Mardi Gras.

Highlights of the Cruise
The fortune to stay on board for an additional cruise
Alchemy Bar, Fortune Teller Bar, Pig & Anchor Bar
Pig & Anchor BBQ, Big Chicken, Cucina de Capitano, ChiBang
Diamond Luncheon

Saturday, February 12, 2022

Mardi Gras Cruise Review - February 12, 2022

Mardi Gras Cruise Review - February 12, 2022

Just The Facts:
Ship:  Mardi Gras…Largest & flagship of the Carnival fleet. 182,000 gross tons. 5282 capacity.
Ship Captain: Giuseppe Giusa  -  Hotel Director: Damir Mrsic  - Cruise Director: Chris, the Flying Scotsman
Ports: Port Canaveral - San Juan, Puerto Rico - Amber Cove, Dominican Republic - Grand Turk

This is my third cruise on Carnival’s new flagship, Mardi Gras, My 92nd Carnival cruise, and my 173rd cruise overall.  I am sailing as a solo guest on my first leg of a B2B2B2B, four consecutive cruises on the Mardi Gras.

Day One -- Saturday --  February 12th, 2022 -- Port Canaveral Embarkation  
I left the Villa about 9:30 am for my drive to Port Canaveral. I underestimated the traffic heading to the beach on a beautiful Saturday morning in Florida, but I arrived at Park-N-Cruise by noontime. I was processed quickly with valet parking and made the bus about to leave for the pier. The bus was full a sign of things to come. Due to the late booking, I had a 1:00-1:30 boarding time but they did have a Diamond line so I was able to be processed straight away, the new Verifly App helped too…no medical questions, just presented my passport card. I was actually on the ship eating a Big Aristotle at Big Chicken by 1:00 pm. There is twice the number of guests than when I was last onboard the Mardi Gras. Knowing the layout helped me this morning and it looks like I will need to use that all week. I went to my designated Muster Station located in the Theater on deck 6. They just checked me off the list and did a quick lifejacket demonstration…so simple and easy to do.  My cabin is on deck nine, an interior that looks small compared to the suite I had last week. Very adequate though for a solo. It has a great TV, nice shower, and good air conditioning, soon I unpacked and set up the cabin for the week. I had cabin time before heading down to the Alchemy Bar for aperitifs. A friend who loyally reads this blog spotted me and miraculously a chair next to them became available (thanks Sharon). But the biggest surprise was Daniel, my favorite Alchemist had just boarded the ship today and was standing behind the bar. Amazing surprise for both of us. Jennifer, another great Alchemist just came on duty and prepared an excellent cocktail for me too…my timing was excellent tonight. I went to the Pig & Anchor for dinner as the Filet Mignon is on the nightly special on this night. I had the Filet, St. Louis style Pork Ribs, the pickled vegetables, Slaw, and Fries. It was excellent. Lots of activities and shows on the Mardi Gras every night, for me the top choice tonight is Caroline Picard at the Comedy Club, she did three shows tonight. I also caught some of the Center Stage Band, I have to determine which deck is best for each particular showing on the Center Stage, many options. I retired to the cabin and went directly to bed after a busy day. It was a FUN and exciting day on the Mardi Gras.
Day Two -- Sunday --  February 13th, 2022 -- Fun Day at Sea 
Smooth seas overnight and I slept well. Nice and cool in the cabin. I woke during the night and updated this blog, but working online during the night is an old habit of mine…although the WiFi on this ship is the best I have experienced at sea. I went to the Sea Day Brunch in the Palms dining room about 11:00 am. I had the Steak & Eggs with Hash Browns, Bacon, Fruit, and Tomato Juice. It was good, I also saw a cruising friend who is also on a B2B2B2B. It was a lazy day for me, but there are the usual activities on the ship from Bingo to Seminars. I did see the busy cooking classes. In the late afternoon, I went on a walkabout and the outer decks are full…over 5000 passengers on board. I stopped at the Serenity Deck for a bit, but brisk winds there so went to the Pig & Anchor to try the draft beers. I decided on the Farm House Ale as it’s dry like a pilsner beer. Met nice guests and bartenders and enjoyed my beer. I wanted to watch the Super Bowl later so went to dinner early. I walked down to ChiBang for dinner at about 5:45 pm. Tonight I ordered: Egg Drop Soup, the Simple Greens Salad, Kung Pow Chicken, Hakka Noddles, Broccoli, and Ice Creme for dessert. It was very good and served quickly. The Super Bowl is being shown in almost every venue on the ship, especially the Center Stage, Pig & Anchor, and the big SeaSide Theater screen on the Lido deck. Interesting that I’m on this ship for the first NFL game of the season and the last. In September the Dallas/Tampa Bay game was close and went into overtime and they ran out many brands of beer. I preferred to watch the game on my nice big TV screen in the cabin. I enjoyed the game, the commercials, and the quiet. It was a great easy day at sea on the Mardi Gras.

Day Three -- Monday — February 14th, 2022 -- Fun Day at Sea 
Smooth seas overnight and I slept very well. I woke early and did some Travel work online then went for my favorite breakfast on the ship at Blue Iguana. I had a single Huevos Rancheros with two fresh eggs (over-easy) then added Pico de Gallo and Cheese. Of course an Arepas and Watermelon (photo right). Beautiful weather outside and not busy on deck when you go out early in the morning. I had cabin time then went to the Brass Magnolia to see Electric Violins with New Age at 11:15 am. It was then time for the Diamond Luncheon in the Flamingo Restaurant. I sat at a great table with good friends and we had a great meal, visit, and cocktails. There is a new item on the menu too. I ordered the Peaches & Greens Salad (the new item-thinly sliced peaches as a base), the NY Strip Steak, & Tres Leches dessert. It was great and the waiter I Made was excellent as was our cocktail server. FUN Cabin time and I had a nice nap this afternoon. About 6:00 pm I met a friend at the Fortune Teller Bar and listened to Owen Stephen a Guitar Soloist at the small Fortune Teller Stage. The Bar was busy but I saw Natalie, one of my favorite bartenders, and she came around for a hug…she is so sweet. I did go up to the Lido Marketplace for a light dinner, it wasn’t busy considering 5000 guests onboard. I had a nice lean piece of Prime Rib grilled for me and half of a Potato, Broccoli, and a Green Salad with Beets. I was later able to get a seat at the Alchemy Bar so enjoyed another Jennifer special, and visited with guests as I like to do. Photographers were especially busy tonight with it being both a formal night and Valentines' day…an excellent evening to people watch too. I saw some of the feature show with Mary Anthony on the Center Stage then went to see the comedy show, but the line was too long for my impatient self so decided to retire early…I have time to do it all before I leave the ship. The TV in my little interior is much nicer than I had in the big suite last week so I can catch up on some shows, unfortunately not a good variety of available channels. It was a nice Sea Day on the Carnival Mardi Gras.
Day Four -- Tuesday --  February 15th, 2022 -- San Juan, Puerto Rico
Smooth Seas overnight and I slept well. A bit of a stiff back, I may be getting too much rest, or I need to sleep on one side of the bed and not the middle crack. We were docked when I woke about 6:45 am. I went to Blue Iguana and had a breakfast Burrito, you have a wide choice of items, I went simple with Eggs, Ham, & Pico de Gallo. My only plan today is to walk for exercise and hopefully stretch out the back. I went off the ship into Old Town San Juan about 11:15. It was the usual warm and humid day in San Juan. A long walk to visit the beautiful Catedral Basilica Menor de San Juan Bautista then went to La Taberna Lupulo. I’ve been trying to get there for my last three visits and either had ladies present or it was closed, but I was successful today. It is the best beer bar/emporium in OSJ with 46 beers on tap. I had tap #23 Bavik Super Pils, an excellent beer. A fun few hours here before heading back to the ship (see photo). I did get in my walking for needed exercise as planned 3+ miles. Once onboard, I went to Guy's Burgers, not as busy as I expected it to be, but shame-shame the meat was undercooked. There is no pink in Guy's burgers and you need that outer crispness...very disappointed. It was a fine burger for the uninformed masses but was not a Guy's Burger. I did get an interesting French Fry concoction from Street Eats, then back to the cabin for some recovery time from the walking. Sail away was nice, I always enjoy sailing around the Fortress that guards the entry to the harbor. I took a  nap then went to ChiBang for a late dinner, thankfully they take reservations until 9:30 pm. Tonight I ordered the Egg Drop Soup, Chicken Spring Rolls, Pot Stickers, Hakka Noodles, and the Beef & Broccoli entree. It was very good. I did a late walkabout, I heard music by Chris doing his Flying Scotsmen show and Violins by New Age. Also a visit with Daniel ans Ramon at the Alchemy Bar and watched some NCAA basketball in the Sports area of Summer Landing on deck 8.  It was a great day in San Juan and on the Mardi Gras.
Day Five -- Wednesday --  February 16th, 2022 -- Amber Cove,  Dominican Republic 
Smooth seas overnight and I again slept very well. We were docked when I woke around 8:00 am. I had breakfast at Blue Iguana with some customization of the Huevos Rancheros It is a cloudy day but most are going ashore. It was interesting watching the Elation dock next to us, Carnival’s smallest and largest ships side by side (photo right). I went up the Serenity Deck and soaked in the hot tub for an hour + hoping to help the back and just relax. Good views of the island from Serenity on deck 18. About 1:00 pm I went to Big Chicken for Tenders & Fries. I sampled the BBQ Ranch & the Shaq sauces…very tasty. I took a short nap then debarked the ship about 3:30 pm to get some walking done in Amber Cove. I did about 2 miles including walking up to the observation bar where I enjoyed two local Presidente beers. It was a great place to take in the views of the harbor, ships, and surrounding mountains. I returned to the ship just before the 5:30 all aboard time.  I went by the Alchemy Bar and enjoyed visiting with guests and enjoyed two great cocktails by Jenn. I went to dinner with friends and they chose ChiBang so it was a return there. I ordered all Mexican tonight: Queso Fundido (good), Tacos de Carnitas (ok), Inflatidas de Camarones (fair), the Steak Ranchero entree (good), Yuca (pass), Frijoles (pass) and Creme Catalona for dessert (fair). Being from Texas I hesitate to order Tex-Mex on a ship so had to grade the items. At least I know for the future. I caught the production show d at the center stage, but they had to cancel the show about midway due to the movement of the ship. What I saw was great, I’ll return next cruise. It was a FUN and interesting day on the Mardi Gras.
Day Six -- Thursday --  February 17th, 2022 -- Grand Turk Island 
Rocking seas overnight but I slept well and late. I had a very lazy morning but did online work, people are ready to cruise. I went to Big Chicken for brunch. They serve breakfast items until 3:30 pm, but I had Chicken Tenders, Fries, and Slaw. Then it was Hot Tub time on the Serenity Deck, you could see a nice crowd on the beach from Margaritaville to Jack’s Shack. I did enjoy a Pilsner Urquell while in the hot tub…nice.  I left the ship about 2:30 pm to get in some walking. I found a more secluded area to the opposite side of the popular spots and enjoyed the view and crashing of the waves on the rocks. I did have a Painkiller at Margaritaville before heading back to the ship about 4:00 pm. The Elation was pulling away from the dock just as was arriving so had center stage for a series of farewell horn blasts between the two ships. Always enjoy that. I noticed a huge pile of conch shells on the pier where the Elation gangway must have been they were not allowed on the ship…I’ve never noticed that before today. I went to La Cucina de Capitano for dinner at about 6:00 pm, I had a nice table for a solo and good service too. I ordered: Nonba’s Meat Balls, Arancini (Carnival’s is the best), Pene Pomodoro, and the Pork Chop, with small ice creme for dessert. It was excellent. I then went to the Alchemy Bar for a very good cocktail by Pedro tonight. A very nice Mardi Gras Parade in the French Quarter (deck 6) this evening is on its way to the Center Stage/Atrium area. I had to visit the Fortune Teller Bar and visit Natalie, one of my all-time favorites. She prepared a Bog Juice for me, I had not tried that one on previous visits…I liked it. I did a walkabout heading back towards my cabin, many of the acts/entertainment tonight were modified due to the rolling seas … it’s become a bit rough as we pass through some rainy weather.  It was a nice day at Grand Turk and on the Mardi Gras.
Day Seven -- Friday --  February 18th, 2022 -- Fun Day at Sea
Rolling seas overnight and I slept very well. I went to Summer Landing for breakfast, they have a small buffet there and are usually not busy, while there I ordered one of their signature Bloody Marys, from the Pig & Anchor Bar…they have the best and the bacon is a nice touch. (photo right) I lounged in the Summer Landing pool area past noon then to the cabin to get ready for my 1:30 pm time slot for a Covid Rapid Antigen Test. There are 117 guests doing the Back to Back, but the testing went quickly. You don’t wait for the results and I never heard anything so I have to assume I was negative. I returned to the Pig & Anchor for a draft beer then went to the 4:00 pm Diamond & Platinum party in the Mardi Gras Theater. At the door, you receive a glass of wine and a drink voucher was issued to all Diamond and Platinum guests, a nice gesture by Carnival. The updated movie, as usual. They asked questions of guests who had sailed on the original Mardi Gras. The high Diamond was over 1100 days. The Strings Trio played twice so it was a nice affair. Following I went to the Alchemy for a nice cocktail. Then to the Fortune Teller Bar to met friends. I ate in the Palm Restaurant (MDR) for the first and only time this cruise…I ordered Steak & Ale Soup, Cobb Salad, and the Short Rib entree, For dessert Baked Alaska. A nice table and good service. After dinner, I was able to get a seat for the feature production show Festival of Nations on the Center Stage. Lots of costume changes with Song & Dance from around the world.  I also stayed for the final performance of the Center Stage Band, a ten-piece band, and another great show. I retired by 10:00 as I have to pack and change cabins in the morning. It was a FUN final sea day on the Mardi Gras.
Highlights of the Cruise
Daniel, the Senior Alchemy Bartender, arriving the same day as I boarded
The fortune to stay on board for an additional cruise
The day in Old San Juan
Alchemy Bar, Fortune Teller Bar, Pig & Anchor Bar
Pig & Anchor BBQ, Big Chicken, Cucina de Capitano, ChiBang
Festival of Nations production show

Thursday, February 3, 2022

Mariner of the Seas - February 3, 2022

Mariner of the Seas - February 3, 2022
Just The Facts:
Ship: Voyager Class, launched 2003, 140,000 tons, Pax capacity 3100
Thore Thorolvsen
Ports: Port Canaveral, CoCoCay, Cozumel
Weather: Very Good--clouds and sun

This is my 4th cruise on the Mariner of the Seas, my 33rd Royal Caribbean cruise, and my 172nd cruise overall. I’m sailing with the Dear Wife (DW) celebrating our 40th wedding anniversary and coincidently we sailed the Mariner of the Seas together exactly ten years ago this week from Galveston.
Day One--Thursday—Embarkation  
We were up early enough to finish packing and hit the road at 9:30 am. This is now my fifth time driving to Port Canaveral so used to it now. It was my first time to park at Park-n-Cruise just outside the official Port Canaveral area arriving about noon. They have Valet parking and very nice buses. After checking in just a short wait for the shuttle. We arrived at the Royal Caribbean terminal by our scheduled 12:30 arrival time and proceeded through the Boarding process. Initial screening as entering, then Security, then Health & then the RCCL Check-in. We never stopped or had a wait as went from station to station and onto the ship by 12:45 pm. Super fast and super easy. We rolled our bags on with us and dropped them at our cabin on deck nine. A FIRST for us, we have a suite and the bonus is that it’s a premium location: dead center on the ‘hump’ (extended balcony area midship). Wow, it’s nice. We left our bags in the walk-in closet and walked up to the Windjammer for lunch. The DW had a nice Salad…I had Roast Beef, Potatoes, Broccoli & Carrots, and we shared a selection of nice desserts. Then we had another FIRST! We witnessed our first rocket launch. A Space-X rocket was launched at 1:13 pm from Cape Canaveral. (photo right) Very Special. After lunch & launch, we watched the Safety Video on our iPhone then went to our Muster Station D18 located on deck 4. An announcement that cabins were officially open so we went back to deck nine, got our Sail&Sign cards at the door, and officially entered our suite for the week. Time to unpack, update this blog, and even a short nap. About 6:00 pm we went down to the Promenade deck to see the shops and new additions since we were last on this ship. They now have a Sports Bar as well as the Pub, and Cafe. A quick stop at Guest Services for $1 bills and a hole punch in my Sail & Sign card before stopping at Boleros for cocktails and entertainment. We went up to the Diamond Crown Lounge and the Diamond Club for H’orderves and cocktails. It wasn’t busy and I enjoyed the Brie and the Chicken-Mango Chutney canapĂ©. We then went down to the Windjammer about 8:00 pm for dinner. DW had Macaroni & Cheese and Mashed Potatoes. I had a generous serving of Pork Tenderloin from the Carving Station that went perfectly with a serving of Grilled Pineapple. I also had some nice Fish & Chips, Carrots & Cauliflower, Green Beans, and a wonderful Hearts of Palm salad. An excellent meal with good service as well. We passed on the ‘Welcome Show’ featuring the band, dancers, and Cruise Director at 10:00 pm in the theater and retired to our suite for the evening. It was a great day of FIRSTs on the Mariner of the Seas.
Day Two—Friday—CoCoCay, Bahamas 
Smooth seas overnight and a very restful night. DW ordered her usual Room Service continental breakfast in bed and I had breakfast in the MDR. I had Tomato Juice, Grapefruit, Eggs Benedict, Bacon, and Hash Browns. It was good. They did make a Leche Caliente for me. We are in no rush to get off the ship so some good balcony time this morning. I checked in for my next cruise and we fed some Seagulls on the balcony, the weather is so perfect for sitting outside. About 11:00 am we went to the island, my first time here as on previous visits I would not bother as it was a tender port. Now just a short walk on the pier. The Symphony of the Seas is docked next to us today. (photo left) The private island has just been updated with a new Water Park and facilities. We walked the island then stopped at the Chill Island Beach Bar and enjoyed some Pina Coladas and watched guests swimming in the lagoon, the water was very nice, and the weather perfect with a cool breeze. We stopped for a lunch at Skippers, I had a Cuban Sandwich and BBQ Chicken on the way back to the ship. Once aboard Terry brought a salad down from the Windjammer, might as well enjoy the suite and relax over the afternoon including a nap.  Thanks to the Crown & Anchor Society for the very nice sliced fruit delivery, much nicer than a basket and I snacked on it all afternoon.  Also thanks for the Coca-cola, Bottled water, and Cookie assortment yesterday. We went up the Diamond Lounge at about 7:00 pm for some cocktails and also made reservations for the Ice Skating Show tomorrow.  Then to the Windjammer for a late dinner.  DW had a proper Salad and I had some nice Fish Fillets, a Chicken Cordon-blu (a bit dry), Sweet & Sour Pork, Mashed potatoes, Hearts of Palm, and Grilled Pineapple.  A nice meal.  The production show Center Stage was tonight, but we again decided to retire early.  I had to have a hot bath as we have a huge tub in the suite and basically tons of hot water…it was very nice.  Enjoying the cabin very much.  It was a nice relaxing day at CocoCay and on the Mariner of the Seas
Day Three--Saturday—Sea day 
Smooth seas overnight and I slept well although up early enough to see the sunrise. We do keep our curtains open to the outside overnight. Casual morning until Room Service about 9:00 am. Fruit Plates for both of us plus an English muffin for DW. Balcony time until about 11:30 when we went to the Windjammer for a light lunch. I had two small Strip Steaks, Mashed potatoes, and Broccoli. We did a walkabout the ship, the guests are enjoying the outer decks and sunny perfect weather, but perhaps too cool for swimming. We walked the Grand Promenade and visited the shops and bought some duty-free liquor. We missed The Bamboo Room when we did our earlier tour…it’s a Polynesian Tiki Bar located about mid-ship and very nice. We also saw an old Carnival friend and met two bartenders at the Bamboo Room. We tried three cocktails, a Hemingway Daiquiri, a Dark & Stormy, and a Bamboo Room Mojito. We liked it very much and will return, but it was time for the afternoon Ice Show. The show, Under the Bigtop, was great (photo above). A wonderful cast of ice skaters and several colorful costumes and themes. I’d never seen a full overhead flip on ice before today. At 4:30 we attended the Top Tier Event for Pinnacle and upper-level D+ guests in the Star Lounge. It was a very nice event hosted by the Cruise Director with a complimentary Cocktail, the full 9-piece Orchestra, a Production singer, and more. The Captain spoke for a long while and also did a comedy routine with the Staff Captain involving common questions the Captain gets from guests. My kind of Captain. There were 28 Pinnacles on board and they acknowledge the top three and newest Pinnacle. The senior guest had over 220 cruises and about 2200 points…Wow, that’s Loyal to Royal. We returned to the Bamboo Room for aperitifs, I was very curious about the rum & watermelon juice-based cocktail On the Run. It’s served in a plastic pouch with long straw much like a CapriSun juice pouch for adults. It was good. We then went to the Windjammer a little earlier than usual as we skipped the Diamond lounge this evening, I had a nice Pasta from the made-to-order Pasta Station, some nice sliced Pork, Mashed Potatoes, Mixed Vegetables, and Carrot Cake for dessert. DW did a nice Salad, she loves being able to choose the exact items that go into her salad at the varied Salad Bar. The shows this evening were the production show Goddess, and the Love & Marriage Show. We decided to watch Goddess on the Live TV channel from our lovely suite while munching on some Oatmeal Raisen cookies. It was a very nice sea day sailing on the Mariner of the Seas.
Day Four—Sunday—Cozumel, Mexico 
A bit of rolling seas overnight, but calm by the time we entered the Straits of Cozumel. I slept well, but was up early so updated this blog and got some internet work done. We are the only ship at the International Pier (photo left) and none at Costa Maya (Carnival) pier. The Disney Wonder is at Puerto Langosta so slow day in Cozumel. It is cool and cloudy so no rush to go ashore. I went to the MDR for a large Lumberjack Breakfast, the bacon and hot milk were especially good. DW took advantage of having cell service and caught up with news from home and friends. About 11:00 am we left the ship and made our way to the taxi stand ($8) and into San Miguel. It was raining by the time we got to town. We dodged raindrops and went to Woody’s Bar & Grill our usual Cozumel hangout that was high & dry and even got my usual table #7. We enjoyed Diet Coke, Guacamole, Pico de Gallo, Cheese Quesadillas, and some Bohemia cerveza. Also had a great long visit with our friend Nelly, she and Terry had not visited since pre-covid. We went back to the ship about 3:30 and enjoyed balcony time through sail away then went to the Bamboo Room for some specialty drinks. I had the Royal Zombie, I think my favorite so far. After a walkabout we went to the Diamond Lounge for aperitifs, more guests as we were earlier than usual, We again went to the Windjammer for dinner, DW had Chips & Guacamole. I had a nice grilled to order Steak, Pork Chops, Mashed Potatoes, Broccoli & Carrots, and the Hearts of Palm Salad. I took some Oatmeal & Raisin cookies back to the cabin for dessert.  We watched some of tonight's production show on cabin TV, and just chilled this evening. We are beginning to be the typical ‘older’ cruisers of late, but that’s not so bad. It was a wet but very productive day in Cozumel and fun on the Mariner of the Seas. 
Day Five—Monday--at Sea
Smooth seas overnight and I again slept well but was up too early. So this morning we went early to the Windjammer for the best breakfast of the cruise.  Between us, we had: three fresh egg Omelets, Hash browns, Bacon, great Ham slice from the carving station, Avocado toast, Oatmeal, Grapefruit, Almond croissant, Milk, and a Berliner doughnut. Much better than eating in the MDR. After breakfast I was able to do some online business then had an early Nap sleeping past noon. Sunny day today for the guests so we did an outer deck walkabout. We watched the action at the Wave Runner for a while, not many successful board surfers today. The four-person Calypso Band played on the Lido deck and I had a Goombay Smash from the Sky Bar. Late lunch in the Windjammer. DW had a Salad and Air Fries, I had a Pork Chop, a small Steak, Mashed Potatoes, Veggies, and a very good broiled Red Snapper. So much good food on this ship. Cabin and Balcony time the rest of the day. I did get rapid-antigen tests for my next cruise scheduled as well as our Air flights to Rome in October so busy. We went to the Bamboo Room (photo above) which has become our favorite bar…I had a few Royal Zombies. We cleared our ship account with Guest Services and picked up our purchased liquor, the things one does on the final day. We went to the Windjammer for our dinner, DW had her custom Salad and I had Pork from the carving station, Vegetables, and Royal Caribbean’s signature Mashed Potatoes, I have had them for almost every meal. Carrot Cake and Key Lime Pie for dessert. We packed cookies and bread for tomorrow’s early debark breakfast. We retired to the cabin to pack and soon we were sailing up the coast of Florida, the lights of Miami were quite visible. It was a great last sea day on the Mariner of the Seas,
Smooth seas overnight and I slept well.  I was again up very early so time to finish packing. We were docked about 7:00 am in Port Canaveral and self assist started rolling off by 7:30 and we were among the first off the ship.  We rolled off and through face-recognition security straight to the parking shuttle.  Very impressed with Park-n-Cruise… the shuttle was there,  a quick ride to the lot,  car was waiting (valet), and off the lot by 8:00 am.  Amazing.  Drove to Spring Hill to pick up the Maisie and grand-daughter and back to the Villa before noon.


This was our first real suite and we enjoyed it. Cabin 9618, a 'hump' suite. It has a lot of floor space probably twice the width of a standard balcony. Also oversized sliding doors as well as a window opening to the balcony. Features: Walk-in Closet, Wardrobe, Vanity with drawers, small Refrigerator, Coffee maker, Keypad safe, Lounge Chair & Ottoman, Couch, Coffee table, King Bed, Nightstands, Chair at vanity, Two ventilator systems, Table & chairs on the balcony, and a large bathroom with oversize tub, It could use a larger TV, but no complaints at all with this cabin. It was dead center on the ship and near a stairwell and elevators.

Highlights of the Cruise

Everything about our special Cabin

Space-X Rocket Launch

Food in Windjammer

Bamboo Room

Under the Bigtop ice show

Cozumel Day

CoCo Cay

Ease of Parking

the Cookies