Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Mariner of the Seas Travelogue - Prologue

I promise I will not bore you with the minutia of taxi rides and pre-cruise meals in this travelogue, but rather will try to give some perspective from a travel agent's and a parent's points of view as I venture back into the world known as mass market cruising.  On Sunday I will be boarding Royal Caribbean's Mariner of the Seas settling in a Grand Suite on a sold out Caribbean cruise as Tropical Storm Fay just departs.

As my family is rather jaded from all of the cruises they have taken - and where they have traveled -  it took until last night for them to show any real interest in the cruise.  My wife asked about the specialty restaurants, forgetting our discussing same weeks ago when I pre-reserved two nights each in Chops (steaks and fish) and Portofino (Italian).  My kids, after first stating they were not that excited because we wouldn't be getting off the ship much (2 sea days and Jamaica), realized that for the first time in a couple of years they would have a "real" kid's club...and now that they are getting older, some real independence.

As for myself, I am trying to look at my cruise on this behemoth much differently from any of my prior cruises...as I remember my ship inspection of the Explorer of the Seas thinking negatively: "Shopping Mall".  (My kids, of course, hear my complaint and shout with glee, "Cool!")

My last Royal Caribbean cruise was in 2001 in an owner's suite on the Nordic Empress (then Empress of the Seas and now gone from the fleet as too small and unique).  I do admit that once I got over all the blue-green glass and brass I found the crew very enthusiastic and I did have a good time (though the food was marginal).  I will not, however, forget my tablemates:  a very nice couple albeit he happened to be a cook at a youth jail somewhere in Pennsylvania.  Ya' never know!

I will be taking some time on this trip to work on some plans for two of my next ones:  The Seabourn Spirit on September 27, 2008 (Athens to Istanbul) and my son's Bar Mitzvah Safari in August 2009.  I am sure that somehow some comparisons...and hopefully some good ideas...will be generated while on this cruise.

So after a few days in Florida visiting my mother, and the Kennedy Space Center for lunch with an astronaut...and, of course, rain predicted for every day!...we will board and I will let you know.