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For those holding out for a good deal on cruising – HERE IT IS! 

On-Board Credits & Reduced Deposits!!!  WOW!  No wonder Royal Caribbean calls it their WOW Sale.  Royal Caribbean is one of the best cruiselines out there for family travel.  So much to offer – Rock Walls, In-line Skating, Ice Skating, Boxing, Surfing, Water Park, I could go on and on and on…Contact me no later than 8:00 p.m. PST on October 7, to place your deposit on that 2010 vacation!

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So I am going to go backwards from time to time here, because I have a lot of catching up to do… 

So at the beginning of June, I headed up to the Port of San Francisco (yeah, I know I tend to do that from time to time…) to spend the afternoon touring Royal Caribbean’s Mariner of the Seas.  This visit was all thanks to the overly dramatic Swine Flu epidemic in Mexico!  RCCL repositioned the Mariner from doing the Mexican Riviera out of Los Angeles, to Roundtrip Los Angeles for a Pacific Northwest experience for a few weeks, until things returned to “normal” in Mexico. 

We are so fortunate to have this Voyager Class Ship here on the West Coast!  Mariner was moved from its former home in Port Canaveral, Florida (they have enough cruise ships out there spare at least one to us) to Los Angeles  YAY!!!!  No more having to settle for the old run down Monarch of the Seas. YAY!!!  Even though this ship holds 3,100 passengers, you wouldn’t know it. She is big, but doesn’t feel big.  There is plenty of space to hang, so you don’t feel over-crowded.

For those unfamiliar with this ship class – it is the first of its kind to have a mall (aka, the Royal Promenade) and an ice rink!  Yes, I said ice rink…

Ice Rink

The Royal Promenade is two football fields in length and four decks high. With a wide selection of shops, restaurants and entertainment the Royal Promenade will be the place to be.  (Check out the staterooms overlooking the Promenade…)

Mall

This ship simply oozes fun!  So much to do – From the great pool areas (including the thalassotherapy pool), to climbing the rock wall, in-line roller skating, basketball (full size court), miniature golf, to catching a parade on the Royal Promenade.

There are many dining options on-board.  You have the main dining room, which is 3 stories tall!  There is also the wonderful buffet and room service – all which is included in the cruise fare price.  Now for a small fee Mariner offers some specialty dining options – Chops Grille Steakhouse ($25 per person), Portofino Italian Restaurant ($20 per person) and Johnny Rockets ($4.95 per person).

Dining

I came across this table which shows what is consumed in entire week by cruisers on Mariner – WOW! 

Beef: 20,000 lb Chicken: 12,000 lb Pork: 5,000 lb Lobster: 1,400 lb
Other seafood: 4,000 lb Salmon: 2,500 lb Fresh eggs: 28,000 Flour: 15,000 lb
Sugar: 4,300 lb Coffee: 1,500 lb Fresh fruits: 35,000 lb Fresh vegetables: 65,000 lb
Potatoes: 18,000 lb Fresh berries: 600 lb Ice cream: 8,000 gallons Milk: 1,500 gallons
Individual yogurts: 4,200 Cheese: 5,800 lb Slices of pizza: 18,000 Beer: 10,700 bottles
Beer: 8,500 cans Soda: 11,500 cans Wine: 2,900 bottles Whiskey: 200 bottles

 

Now I can’t go away from a posting without discussing at least 1 stateroom.  I toured the cabins and found them very suitable.  The ones I was most interested in seeing were the inside cabins that overlooked the Promenade.  For some reason, these are very popular.  Personally, if I am on a cruise ship, give me a view of the ocean not a mall!  I’ll tell ya though, these staterooms sell out quick!!!!  <shaking head in confusion>

Inside Mall Room

Stay tuned for more…

So today I headed up to the Port of San Francisco, with a few of my favorite colleagues, to do a ship inspection of Princess Cruises’ Sea Princess.  The Sea Princess is doing 10 day round-trip Alaska sailings this summer from San Francisco.  She is 10 years old and I was expecting her to look rather tired.  Much to my surprise, her public areas did not reflect this.  However, she is in desperate need of updated mattresses, bedding and flat screen TV’s in the staterooms.  I was actually shocked on how tiny the TV’s were.  I know as a society we have become spoiled with our Mega Flat Screens, but frankly, I truly believe those were 10-inch monitors…

She holds 1,950 passengers and simply without the travelers on-board yet, it felt cramped with just the 200 or so agents, plus the staff.  I’ve been on plenty of other ships with the same capacity including other Princess ships and my preferred line – Celebrity Cruises are far more spacious than the Sea.

The spa was the most disappointing I have ever seen on a cruise ship!!!  It was dull, lifeless and very small.

Now let’s address what they refer to as the Grand Casino…There was NOTHING grand about this!  It was tiny!!!  I think it only had 30 slot machines?  A majority of the room was geared toward just plain seating.  Am I mistaken, but isn’t the casino on a ship a huge moneymaker for the cruiseline?

Sea Princess Casino

Truly the 2 things I was very pleased with were the size and layout of the mini-suites and the buffet area.  I’ve been on the Coral Princess twice in a mini-suite, in which they are just oversized staterooms.  However, on the Sea Princess, they are large, have wonderful flow between rooms and the bathrooms are the extremely beautiful.  The buffet area and dining room, I thought was a nice size, bright (surrounded by windows) & airy – perfect for Alaska!

Sea Princess Mini Suite

Finally, let’s discuss the food…We were invited for lunch in one of the main dining rooms…I almost would have preferred to eat their pizzeria.  The Shrimp with Melons was bland; the Chateaubriand was overcooked and tough.  The bread & chocolate soufflé were the only things that were worth eating.  If this is what they serve us, what in the world do they serve clients for 10 nights?

Now don’t get me wrong…I am a huge advocate for the 10/11 day roundtrip Alaska itinerary out of San Francisco.  I just think that Princess should put in place a much better ship than the Sea Princess.  When you look at the quality of the competitor’s ships, this cruise ship truly fails.  I highly recommend Royal Caribbean’s Radiance of the Seas or Serenade of the Seas (departing out of Seattle & Vancouver, respectively).  These ships were specifically designed for viewing the beauty of Alaska and are a far better value and cruising experience!

Contact me to discuss booking that last minute Alaska cruise for 2009 or locking in a stateroom for 2010 at 2009 rates on either RCCL or Celebrity!

Lauren Liebert

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