Thanks for finding me and joining me at my new little blog. I've always thought about starting a blog, but didn't really have the time, direction and motivation. {actually I have started a few, but didn't actually go anywhere with them, but that's another story...}

Over the years I have used and read many blogs, forums, etc. to get information and found many "experts" along the way. Some of those "experts" I have totally agreed with, others I didn't seem to agree with at all. Let's face it, there really is no right way or wrong way to do anything in life. Everyone is different and what works for one may not work for the other. I'm not going to claim to be an expert. My point in this is just to share things from my point of view, and hopefully the point of view of some of my family members (if they are willing to join me).

I love to cruise, and my family tries to take at least one cruise a year. We live in Central Florida and are huge Disney Geeks. This blog is going to include our thoughts and comments on the vacations we take, the time we spend in the parks as well as my thoughts on any news and information relating to our vacation preferences.

I am also going to fill in the blanks and talk about vacations we have taken, and what we liked (or didn't like) on previous vacations.

Welcome aboard. Hope your enjoy our journey.

Mrs. Vacationista

Mariner of the Seas Live Blog: Day 4- Sea Day

It’s Sea Day... we decided we were going to do breakfast in The Dining Room. The group met on level 3 to start the meal.  The breakfast has hot meals that can be ordered from the wait staff and a buffet for all the cold and continental items.   The wait staff was great and the food came out just right. Nice and relaxing compared to the Windjammer.

After breakfast K and a friend went to Jaime’s for a pre-reserved Cupcake decorating class. K says:  "It was so much fun!  We worked with pre-made cupcakes from the chef.  He showed us how to ice them with special designs.  He showed us how to make a rose out of fondant.  It was so cool.  We decorated four cupcakes each."  8 cupcakes for the whole gang to eat later!

While the decorating was going on, the rest of the group walked around the ship and everyone met up at our cozy Starbucks corner.   Drinks and snacks just like on land with a great view outside the big ocean view and promenade window.

The gang went up to the Viking Crown Lounge where there was great views of the sunny day and we had a few great games of Uno.  Also some yummy chocolate chip cookies from the Windjammer. Yummmm.

Then four of the adults attended the Escape Room called The Observatorium. It was so awesome.  There were 12 people in this fee based activity. $19.99 each. It runs all day with times you can pre-book on the cruise planner. It starts off with a quick briefing of what is happening and then you enter the room.  Without giving too much away you have 60 min to solve the issue at hand.  It takes communication, teamwork and a lot of analysis and deduction to figure out clues that are all around the room.  We actually solved the puzzle with just over 5minutes to spare.  The host said that about 40% of the teams solve it.   She was very impressed with our group cause we solved it missing one clue that we never found. She said we solved the hardest part easily and had a hard time with an easy one. Lol.  It was great, but it really requires the group work together to solve this and escape! Personally, I had no clue on some of the challenges, so I left that for the smart people, but I did help to solve a key component and found many clues! Lol.  I would highly recommend this if it’s for you.  There are 4 Escape rooms in the fleet so far, with more coming.

The group then decided a late snack (lunch not had) at the Cafe Promenade was needed. pizza and sandwiches for most.

Then we went to the Schooner Bar at 4 for Harry Potter Trivia. Half the group are Potter Fans. The other half fell asleep or just listened in. The group found these questions very challenging. Still interesting to hear all the questions and answers.

Our final dinner at the main dining room took place and as usual the food and service were great! We found our servers to be most attentive and they cared about our needs and changes to menu items as well as multiple desserts! Lol

We unfortunately needed to pack after dinner so we decidedly to not see the show. We then met up for games in the library!  Off to bed for most by 10:30, however I went with another party member to explore the ship. We went to the Helipad and pretty much spent most time there. It was phenomenal. The full moon and Mars were just above and out to the distance were clouds and lightening! So hard to capture it all in pictures...

Then, some extra walking around the ship and off to bed.
Tomorrow we get off the ship... four nights is a short trip, but we did have a great relaxing time.

Random Observations:

  • Escape room was a lot of fun. Go with people you know if you are not as outgoing, but you will find you totally get right into it and start searching the room and get going.
  • The ship is beautiful and the refurbishment with new Royal Caribbean Wows really breathes new life into the older ships and makes this a must do for people who want some extra activities.
  • Lazer Tag was so much fun! Highly recommend you doing this to try it out. We wanted to go go back but had no time... next cruise!
  • K said the new water slides, the Perfect Storm was a great plus as well!

Mariner of the Seas Live Blog: Day 3- Nassau

Today’s title should be really called "Ship Day in Port"!  As is customary for our group we like to utilize the ship facilities and explore when we are in a standard port.  In this case Nassau. The ship was docked really early at about 8 am and left at 11:59 pm.

We woke up late at about 9 am.  We got dressed and went to a packed Windjammer buffet.  Nothing really good to write about.  The place was jam packed and no room anywhere.  We were there late enough to get a seat in Chops  after they stopped its use for real suite guests. Junior Suites don’t rate this special perk. I found the food to be cold and very blah.  Oh well.   Maybe it was late, but it seemed half the ship was there. Another part of our party went to the dining room and said it was good.  We shall try there tomorrow.

We then all met for mini golf at the Mariner Dunes.  Very nice refurbished golf course.  It used to be in the back of the ship where the new Flowrider, Skypad  and water slides were addded.
The mini golf was great.  It now features the new look that has been in use on Royal ships for some years now.  The group had fun.

We then had K and friends go  swimming and try out the new Perfect Storm.   They loved the new slides.   Said they were a lot of fun!

We did not try the Skypad.

The team then decided we would go to try out the new Laser Tag in Studio B!  It is called the battle for a Planet Z!   It was a lot of fun.   It is first come first served.  The line was very short since it was a port day.  There is a max of 14 players and two teams are formed into the Aliens and the Robots.
You see a short briefing video, receive your gear and gun and then have about 7 minutes of fun.  The whole set up occurs in the area of the ice rink on a normal floor. There are walls made of rubber bounce house that is filled up. Just as the name implies, you are shooting the opponent.  Lots of fun to be had. Our team had middle of the road scores, but two honorable mentions...the most accurate player and the most trigger happy.  (That was me!)  This is a must do for those that will enjoy it!

We then had some time to do a music trivia in the Schooner bar before Dinner.  Dinner was in the new Izumi Hibachi. We had a great meal.  We chose it as we did not have many choices in the dining room and always love the Hibachi.  It was worth it.  We had a great chef and an even more awesome server.  Eduardo! He really took care of us! Thanks Eduardo!

After dinner we went to the show.  It was a cover band night.  Not just a cover band!  They were awesome!  Called Private Stock.  They have been around for 28 years and really do Rock!  We can’t say enough great stuff about them!  If they are ever in your area or on your cruise, they are a must see!   Great rock and roll from all the years past!   From Billy Joel to Elton John to Stevie Nicks and hair bands!   Don’t forget Journey!

It was now getting late and the gang was tired.  All retired at 10:30 ish except for me and a friend. We went to see The Quest scavenger hunt in Studio B!  Without giving away all the fun of the Adult Quest, it involves some crazy things for a great set of people to participate in.  We watched them call up teams to do the wackiest of things. Like a guy and a girl need to switch clothes!  You can see where this is going.  Don’t take the kids, they are not allowed.

What a great day! Tomorrow is a cruising day!

Random Observations:

  • 4 nights is too short!!  Enough said on that subject.
  • Izumi did not disappoint, but be warned that specialty dining now includes an 18% service fee on top of the pricing for each person.  
  • Our daughter was only charged $15 for her meal.
  • The new additions to the Mariner definitely do not disappoint and give this “older” ship a lot of extra bells and whistles to compete with the “newer” ships.

Mariner of the Seas Live Blog: Day 2- Coco Cay

The Mariner of the Seas arrived at Coco Cay at 7 am today. We all knew this would be  hard to do, so we aimed to be on the tender at 8:30 am.  As mentioned, we had a bungalow reserved, so there was no need to rush.
We headed down to the gangway and got right on the tender. Waited for some people to fill it up and then headed over. Nice and sunny outside. When we arrived at the island of Coco Cay the skies opened up to a rain shower. Oh no!  We waited less than 5 minutes for it to pass and headed for the private tram to the South Beach Bungalows and beds.

Upon arrival, we all got our VIP wristbands and headed to our bungalow! It was an open air covered area with a couch, 2 loungers, 2 mats, water, and beverage service if needed for the usual fees.
We all settled in fast and some of us went to explore and walk on the beach while others got right down to relaxing!

We met an Iguana ....

and then encountered two more 5 min rain showers.  They were actually very large windy squalls that were strong, soaked everything and moved on. We did have shelter so that helped, but the sideways rain doesn’t care much about shelter. Lol. Glad these two were 5 min!

The sun appeared and dried out all the rain (he he) for the rest of the day!  Turned out to be a spectacular day.  Breezy, sunny and enjoyable. We all rested, went snorkeling, floated on mats, read books and played in the sand!

Just before 12:00 our group received our lunch!  Delivered to our bungalow as ordered.
It turned the normal basic beach barbecue into a bit extra than just the basics. Best part, we did not have to walk to the buffet! Ultimately it was still the normal type of island food. Nothing extra fancy.

After lunch, we spent more time doing the same as before!

Sun and Fun!

We left the island and got back about 3pm to shower and relax.  Some of us did not apply enough sunscreen and got extra red.  Whoops! All good.  Aloe Vera was brought to soothe.

At 6pm we went to the dining room and had great meals and conversation.
Most of the table had the Beef Tenderloin which was great. Many desserts for all, but the main dessert I loved was the Grand Marnier Soufflé. Superb! I could have eaten that all night!

8:30 was the Royal Caribbean Singers and Dancers show called Gateway to Dreams.  Great show with various songs that were weaved together to four destinations of Europe, Morocco, old west and Russia. Enjoyable show!

Then, most went to bed after the sun and fun day that can sure cause you to be tired!

I explored the ship at night to check out the venues and get some steps in!

Random observations:

  • Coco Cay will be transformed into “Perfect Day at Coco Cay” next year. Construction is going on now to include a pier to dock! No tendering as of late this year!  Yeah! The construction did not cause any issues with our day at all.
  • Don’t forget to ask pply sunscreen often!  2 or 3 times is not always enough when in the water!
  • The Bungalow was well worth the extra price!  The private area that was quiet and relaxing was awesome! Keep watching for sale pricing!
Tomorrow is a port day in Nassau.  Otherwise known to us as a quiet ship day!  Yeah!

Mariner of the Seas Live Blog: Day 1- Embarcation

We woke up about 7:30.  Got ready and headed to the free breakfast.  It was good and enough to fill us up. The usual continental breakfast with some hot items as well.  Like eggs and such.
We all got the bags together after 9 and packed up the car.  We were on the road by 9:30.
Coming from the west side of the airport we hit some morning traffic. Nothing awful, it kept moving, but it was just under 30 minutes.  We saw first sighting of our home for the next week at 9:55! Still very early.

We unloaded the car, parked it and got into the terminal. Check in was very easy and we went to the emerald area to sit. It was not a long wait at all. We were boarding the ship at 11am. Took the welcome aboard picture and headed on to the ship.

First thing we needed to do was to head the shore excursion desk. We had read that if you booked a bungalow on Coco Cay, as we did, you could head there upon arrival and pick your bungalow. We pre-ordered a bungalow.  These are done through the cruise planner. Note- keep checking on prices. If you see a sale, you can always buy at the new price and refund the old order. We did this and saved extra! These bungalows can fit 6, so it’s great to share the cost with friends for a private area that you don’t need to rush for when you get there. Well worth the extra expense.
We were first at the desk and chose bungalow 21.  No real reason except it was the first row (of two) in front of the water.  Also it has a direct line to the bathrooms! Lol. 😉  Also as part of the bungalow you get beach floating mats and water.  Plus you can pre-order lunch that will be brought to your bungalow. How awesome! Each person can select three items from the list.  (Pic to be shared later)

We will have much more on the bungalow tomorrow.  Let’s hope for good weather!

The group then headed to the Windjammer buffet on deck 11! The Windjammer was looking good with the recent refurbishment.  Same space, but new modern decor that matches the look of the newest ships. There was plenty to choose as always on the embarkation lunch buffet.

After lunch, we started to look around the ship until the rooms were ready at 1pm.
We headed to our Junior Suites to look at them.  Always love some extra space in the rooms. Two families have Aft Junior Suites with the other room being a Junior Suite on the hump! (The area that curves out on the ship so you can see forward and aft a bit more.  Plus, right by the stairs! Awesome!!
Great thing about this JS our friends have— it was the great room we first stayed in on the Mariner 11 years ago and started our love of Royal Caribbean cruising.

Time was moving fast now.  We decided to continue to explore the ship. Focusing on the promenade and lower decks to see the new additions like Playmakers Sports Bar and arcade, The Bamboo Room, Starbucks and more.   Tip- we found a quiet little alcove behind a Starbucks.  We claimed it as ours for the trip! Don’t tell anyone... Lol
The gang split up for some rest and to bring in the luggage to our rooms.

At 4:00 pm was the muster drill then sail-a-way!  Then the weather decided it was time for a thunderstorm.  We headed to the cabin to watch from our aft balcony with lounge chairs. It worked out real nice!  Even though it was raining we enjoyed. Cool and relaxing!

Dinner was in the main dining room.  Now called The Dining Room, it still has kept the Sound Of Music theme as it always has had. Great meal. Great servers!  We really enjoyed. Food was hot and tasty! We tried the Chicken Marsala and the NY Strip with the kids chicken! I think we all licked our plates clean!

After dinner we headed to the 8pm ice show.  It was really full, so we headed to the Star Lounge to play a game and watch the Finish That Lyric Game show.   Good times!
Then we headed back to Studio B for the 10 pm Under the Big Top ice show.  It was a really well done ice show as we remembered.  It was new to the rest of our group and they all really enjoyed. Especially K! Watching these thorough a 10 year old set of eyes is always special.  Including her love of getting the front row!

After the show, half the group went back to the rooms, the other half to check out the late night snacks at the Windjammer that is from 10:30- 12:30am. We expected more dessert and snack items. It was mostly real meal food like hot dogs, hamburgers, fried chicken and a bunch of the buffet dinner foods. Big let down. So we went to the Cafe Promenade for cookies, pizza and drinks, while dancing to the 70s Disco Party on the promenade.

That’s all for today!   Early wake up tomorrow at Coco Cay!

Quick Observations:

  • If you do your online check in, the entry process in the terminal is a breeze!
  • The new inside refurbished areas look great!  For that matter all public areas look fresh and new!
  • The rooms (unless you are in the New panoramic rooms or extra additional rooms built) were not refurbished. The room is not bad in any way at all. Just the pink/ green Caribbean look as opposed to the new grey/ blue brown modern look of the new ships. The only area that seems a bit older is the bathroom, but not awful. Note- in a Junior Suite you get a full bath tub shower!

Mariner of the Seas Live Blog: The Drive to Miami

The day started nice and early.  We all got restful sleep and got up and finished packing. Our daughter K was so excited when she got up... She could hardly contain herself. Lol

We hit the road at 12:00... picked up the friends in our rental Chevy Suburban and headed for Miami. The Suburban was great for the 7 of us.   We had the perfect amount of room for all of our luggage.  Would we have enough luggage room for 7 days?  Not 100% sure... 😀

The drive was good. We took the Turnpike straight down to Miami.  We stopped for some time at the rest stop for gas and sandwiches at the Earl of Sandwich.  We sang, danced, and slept of course along the way... as well as  watched a video of one of our past cruises on the entertainment system!

We saw construction on the new Hard Rock Casino expansion on the drive near Ft. Lauderdale.  The tower will be shaped like a guitar!
We arrived at our stop for the night.  A Hyatt Place.  A nice hotel with all you really need for an easy one night stay.  The room has a king bed, desk, high tech tv system with all the connections you need,    a Mini-Fridge and the “cozy corner” sofa bed.   Really nice room and modern.
They also have a nice free breakfast each morning from 6-9:30 which we will use in the morning.

We headed out for a dinner.  The area is just west of the airport and there are many choices for dinner all around the area.  We decided to narrow down on a few choices and highest vote count sent us to Panera.  Easy dinner before the big week ahead.
We got back, quickly walked around the hotel.  Stopped at the fitness room.  Worked off dinner with some walking on the treadmill. Lol.  Working off the calories before the extra food. Lol. See a trend, here?

Everyone then headed back to their rooms for an early night before heading to the port early tomorrow!

Quick observations:

  • Rental car was a great idea to allow us all to travel together for a fun ride.  
  • Making a fun music playlist is key for the enjoyment of all.  We asked for the group to choose songs ahead of time.   It made a large playlist which had a good random assortment of music for all.
  • Going the day before is key!  No stress with any timelines to have to stick too and a relaxing night.