Mariner of the Seas Live Blog – Day 1 – Boarding
It’s time to sail on one of my favorite ships, Mariner of the Seas!
We are on board for an 8 night cruise which visits many ports, and this particular cruise is one we have been planning since last summer.
Mariner is based in Port Canaveral, Florida, just over an hour from us. Because we had a lot of friends coming for this cruise and staying near the port, we decided to start our vacation a day early and stayed at Cape Crossing Resort & Marina the day before the cruise.
It’s not on Merritt Island (a Port Canaveral front bridge coming down the main freeway from Orlando), but it was perfect for our family, as they offer apartment style accommodations.
Mariner was sailing from Terminal 5, which is unusual. Royal Caribbean ships in Port Canaveral usually depart from Terminal 1, but there were 2 other Royal Caribbean ships in port today.
We had a 10:30 a.m. boarding time so upon arrival we parked the car in the adjacent garage and then walked in to check in. One difference between Terminal 5 and Terminal 1 is that you pay when you leave the Terminal 5 garage.
The check-in process was quite easy and we only had to wait 15-20 minutes in the waiting room before boarding started. They boarded everyone based on Crown and Anchor Society status which was a nice change of pace.
Once aboard Mariner it was very familiar to walk the Royal Promenade. It is a ship that we have sailed so many times that it has a warm atmosphere.
My first stop was the Specialty Restaurant Reservations Kiosk on the Royal Walk to make our restaurant reservations. I booked a 3 night meal package and you always want to book restaurants as soon as possible when you get on board.
The next stop was lunch in the Windjammer.
Besides booking dinners, we also took care of a few other “housekeeping” tasks, such as performing a muster drill. We watched the security video and listened to the ship’s emergency alarm on our phone, then just had to report to the muster station to prove we knew where it was. The emuster process couldn’t be easier.
The kids wanted to expel some energy, so the next stop was at the hammocks, climbing area and swings at the back of the ship near the sports deck.
At 1 p.m., Adventure Ocean opened registration. Basically, you register your children at Adventure Ocean and provide all the necessary information to the staff. If your kids are new to Adventure Ocean, this is also a chance to meet the staff and see the play area.
Our cabins were ready at 1:30 p.m. We have two connecting balcony cabins on Deck 7, near the forward elevators.
The cabins looked great and there was just enough living space for us to enjoy.
Our first official RoyalCaribbeanBlog group cruise meeting was held at the Bamboo Room to say hello to everyone.
The Bamboo Room is such a fun bar, and it was our first chance to meet new people we had never cruised with, as well as see old cruise friends.
Our luggage was delivered to the room so we unpacked all our things before leaving.
We headed to Ellington’s in the Viking Crown Lounge to enjoy browsing. Our group had booked the space there and we had the perfect (air-conditioned) view of the sail.
Although I prefer the amenities of Terminal 1, being further back in the harbor meant a great view when we left since we had to pass all the other cruise ships in the harbor.
Dinner took us to Chops Grille.
We had a large group for dinner (12 in total) and the service was fantastic. The meal went well and the food was excellent.
After dinner we went to the pub to listen to music. The onboard pub singer, Darla, came highly recommended by many other cruise lines and she did not disappoint.
Tomorrow is a day at sea, and we have lots of fun activities planned to really make it feel like a cruise.
The new beverage cups are also available on Mariner of the Seas.
I spoke with the hotel manager, who advised that the ship is 98% crew. All the bars and restaurants we visited had minimal expectations.
Here is the onboard price for the Deluxe Beverage Package if you waited to book onboard. It’s always a good idea to book a Royal Caribbean beverage package online before the cruise.