I became anxious waiting for my next booked cruise so at the last minute I booked two four day cruises on the Mariner of the seas. It probably has been four or five years since I have taken such short cruises.
One might ask why I didn't just book the three day cruise in between and eliminate a lot of packing and unpacking? I would have, but I already had made a commitment for a train show for the model train club I belong to.
The drive to Port Canaveral is uneventful. I park at the Radison, an off site location I have been using for many years. It is over an hour wait for the shuttle bus to the ship, very unusual. I could have walked, but wouldn't even consider it.
One couple behind me in line was very impatient and called Uber. I bet they couldn't wait to start using their drink package either.
Processing through the terminal to the ship was quick and efficient and in no time I was unpacking. Having keys already at you cabin, and entering credit card information and a picture when creating your set sail pass has greatly simplified shoreside checkin.
As we left port the swells were large enough to impose a gentle roll to the ship. I head to the Diamond lounge for coctail hour. As expected it is packed, and the entire Crown Lounge is being used for unofficial overflow.
Royal has imposed a new procedure that I have never seen before but was told has been used on and off over the years.
The server wants our cabin number, not a sea pass card, and supposedly if the passenger is not entitled to the Diamond Lounge perks, they will be billed for the drinks.
Doesn't sound to me like the most effective system. On most ships they just look at your sea pass card upon entrance.
This is my first time on the Mariner. Heavily upgraded a few years ago with more suites, more waterslides, and less open public space.
As I explored the ship, now about 20 years old, it became very apparent to me the evolution of design that has taken place over the decades.
For one example, on older ships no promenade, just a wandering hallway between the shops.
This class of ship has a narrow promenade, and a small ice rink that spanned the full width of the ship.
The promenade and the ice rinks grew, and now on the Oasis class ships we have an ice rink with fore and aft passage beside it, and a vast promenade, topped by an outdoor venue aptly named Central Park.
I think it would be fun, and educational if you need that excuse, to book all the cruise ship classes in order starting with The Empress, Royal's oldest and smallest, and working up to the newest and largest ship.
Some features survive the test of time from one class to another, other features do not.
For example most, if not all, have signs in the elevator flooring indicating the day of the week.
This ship has an audible announcement that the door is opening or the door is closing. A feature that was not carried forwrd to newer builds. I understand why.
Maybe next year, no time left this year.
I always enjoy the ice show. Very rare, but one of the main skaters was having a bad evening and fell several times. I hurt just to see him fall.
An early evening, I am asleep before 10. As I retire there remains a gentle roll to the ship. Great!