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Marc Van Niekerk

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About Marc Van Niekerk

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  • Birthday February 5

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    Male
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    Ontario

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  1. We have used this service and it worked very well although the need to get to the ship early is one you will need to sacrifice. We flew in to Orlando and stayed at an airport area hotel. Because we had a group of 4 and arrived early in the day we did a short term car rental to allow us to do some running around and sightseeing. In general you need to use the hotel shuttle to get to your hotel, this service does not actually cover that piece. Once at the hotel things go as usual and in the morning you go down to the lobby where there is a representative from GoPort who will help arrange the transfer. The buses they use are generally the large coach type. They take passengers to all the different terminals on one bus and pick up a multiple hotels. We visited the Carnival and Norwegian terminals before Royal. We were definitely not early arrivals, the terminal was busy. If memory serves we did get there before noon. Post cruise was the best part. We exited the ship, had a porter help with luggage and then passed through CBP. From there we exited the terminal and walked to the ground transportation area where there was a podium with the GoPort logo. The took charge of our luggage and we were shown to the bus. After a short wait (until the bus was filled up) we left for the airport. At the airport we were instructed to keep our seats while they unloaded the luggage and then everyone exited the bus. We had a relatively early flight (1PM) and arrived at the airport with plenty of time to spare. WE loved the service in particular because we had some guests with us who were first timers with limited mobility. The service was predictable and reliable and the overall cost was more than reasonable for our party. Would I do it again? Probably and partially. On our last cruise we used their service back to the airport. We were travelling just the two of us and I had enough points for a free hotel in PC proper. We rented a car at the airport again, did our sightseeing and met up with friends. Spent the night at hotel, drove to terminal in the morning about 9:30, dropped off luggage, drive to rental return, returned car and got the the port by 10:30 which was much more to our taste of arriving early. The post cruise experience was exactly as before and we loved it. Hope that answers some of your questions @Cruising_Woj and if you have any specific questions I would be happy to try to help.
  2. Biggest mistake was probably on our first cruise. We had arranged air travel and cruise through a travel agent and flights were the same day as the cruise. The travel day was so tiring and stressful due to weather and traffic getting the airport, finding our transfer from airport to ship, etc. that once cabins opened we went to our cabin and passed out, completely missing sail away.
  3. I second the recommendation of @WAAAYTOOO. We took an excursion to Tulum years ago during a cruise on Celebrity and thankfully we did book through the cruise line because we arrived back to the ship so late that they brought in the walkways directly behind our group's arrival and set sail from the port (at about 8:30PM)
  4. Based upon our trip there on our own before a cruise and some feedback I have seen here, I would suggest that if there is an RCL excursion that may be your best option. They cover the transportation, admission and from what I understand they give a bit of a priority to the bus tour around the site. We spent 2 hours waiting in line for the bus tour which takes a large chunk of your time. Also the RCL excursion will ensure you get back to the ship on time.
  5. Yes, they use coaches not passenger vans. That was actually a big requirement for us as getting into that back row of a passenger van can be trouble for taller individuals.
  6. We used GoPort Canaveral both with an without hotel reservation included. Last time we used it (Oct 2019) it was $35 one way from port to MCO for 2 passengers. Before that we had used for 4 people at an MCO airport area hotel with transport to and from Port Canaveral for approx $330 inclusive. Their service was great. https://www.goport.com/
  7. Thanks @twangster for the excellent blog and photos as usual.
  8. Does this excursion get you through the line for the bus tour quicker? On a recent visit we needed to wait in line for over 2 hours for the bus tour which for us was the primary reason for the visit.
  9. Wonderful photos! Definitely makes me miss the ship!
  10. @twangster, Thanks for this blog. As I mentioned earlier Majesty was our first cruise and remains a sentimental favorite. Your pictures are incredible and have drove me to try photo blogging here which I very much enjoyed.
  11. Day 7 / Day 3 Whats better than visiting Coco Cay? Visiting it again a few days later! This time I was a little more prepared and looking to take some photos of parts I had missed previously. We also didn't have a Cabana so we knew the experience was going to be a little different. Mariner docked back in again, but on the opposite side of the pier. Thankfully this once again gave us a great view of the island from out balcony. One thing we had learned from or previous visit was that the shuttles they had taking us ashore were easier to get into the rear facing seat at the back of the cart. This also gave a neat perspective for photos. Today we also used the tram once on the island to head to a beach area near the upcoming Coco Beach Club and check out the water there. This also provided a nice view of the Beach Beds which were at this point uninhabited. We placed our belongings on a couple of chairs and ventured into the water. Unfortunately the luxury of the pool from a few days earlier had spoiled us and due to the recent churn from hurricanes in the area there was still a lot of sea grass. We got in up to just past our knees but that was the extent of before we decided the pool was calling us. We took a very short walk from the beach area to the pool and found two well placed chairs under an umbrella with a small table and near the stairs into the pool. This was a Sunday and the cruise was populated with many young people and a few bachelor and bachelorette groups. As a result the bar area of the pool was quite busy. One other benefit of the location we had chosen was a very close proximity to the Snack Shack. I really must say those chicken sandwiches are incredible. For the record you MUST order the Shack Crispy Chicken. The simple Crispy Chicken just isn't the same. Pictures following are from another photo walk of the island. Chill Island Cabanas Island Tram Up Up and Away Straw Market Harbor Beach Wedding Pavillion Mariner of the Seas Coco Cay Pier and Entrance Snorkeling Area Beach Captain Jack's Skipper's Grill Island wildlife Decorative Entryway's That bring us to the end of most of our photos. There are a few photos taken using my iPhone that I need to sort through and will post later.
  12. A note on the dining choices we made on this trip. On the 4 night, we purchase the Chops +1 on board after we talked them into including Izumi Hibachi. That was our dining sorted for the first 2 nights. We had selected My Time and had a later dinner planned for night 3 anyway but the sunset cruise made us too late for that so we ate in the Windjammer. On the final night we made it to the MDR and found that we felt like we had completely missed on one of the hallmarks of cruising, meeting new people over a meal, having a great conversation and the superb service of the MDR staff. Out waiter asked why we hadn't been and was understanding of the choices but as I say, we felt like we missed out. We resolved that on the second leg we would not repeat that and were we ever glad. For the 3 night cruise we also had My Time, but since we had a consistent time we were able to be seated in the same section of tables with the same servers and passengers seated around us. It was one of the best dining experiences we have ever had. I will say that we find some of the menu choices not to our liking but we can generally fond something to eat. The food quality was good and never a problem but the company and service are where this experience really shined.
  13. Day 6 / Day 2 Today was a port stop in Nassau. This is a cruise port we have visited several times and so we decided to go for an excursion booked through RCL to a place we hadn't visited before, Pearl Island. Part of our decision was that we discovered there were to be 5 ships in port that day and we didn't want the crowds generally associated with that number. Upon arriving we discovered that there was to be another ship in port bringing the total to 6. Ships in port this day were the Grand Classica (Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line), Carnival Ecstasy and Liberty, AIDAluna, Disney Dream and of course Mariner. When we had booked the excursion the initial time was from 9AM - 2PM however when we received out tickets on board the start time had been changed to 10:45. While waiting for the excursion to begin I had the opportunity to take some photos of AIDAluna and Carnival Ecstasy which were docked back to back on the outermost berth. As we started up the pier we passed the Mariner and then Disney Dream. We were lead to an area to the left of the usual exit point for the port area where we boarded the launch to get to the island. From here we had some pretty good views of all the ships in port. After about a half hour ride we reached Pearl Island and exited the boat. Once there it was apparent that a LARGE number of tickets for this excursion were sold on the AIDA ship as there were many people already taking some of the prime seats along the beach areas and the towels were not those of Disney, Carnival or RCL ships. We managed to find some nice seats on the opposite side of the island under a thatched umbrella structure. The view wasn't bad and it was a great spot to watch small birds on the rocks as well as some hermit crabs scurrying around while getting some sun. The island appears to have been claimed from a section of coral where they built some rock retaining walls and paths and brought in some sand. A very pleasant location with not too many people. There were also some seating areas under awnings that would have been quite comfortable. One unique feature of the island is the lighthouse which is open for visitors to go to the top for a view. There are also some water side seating areas. The beach area was a few steps down and had some very clear water and a number of water toys available for use. There are also some over water cabanas, but it did not appear that anyone had purchased those on this day. From the ocean facing seats we had we were able to see some passing traffic of tour boats. The top of the lighthouse was a nice place to take some overall photos of the island. Including the seating area outside of where the lunch was served. The included lunch consisted of Rice and Peas, fried fish, chicken breast, fried plantains and some punch drinks. The was a bar as well for additional cost. The food was good but the chicken was a bit challenging to eat as they had forks but no knives. The stairs up the lighthouse are steep and narrow with partial railings. Certainly not for those with accessibility issues. There was also a little table part way up the lighthouse. Not quite sure it had much purpose other than decorative, but I suppose you could sit in the chairs if you wanted. There were plenty of little birds around. Here is a picture of the outer stairs to get to the lighthouse. This mostly concludes the tour of the island. Once the passengers / visitors who had arrived first had to catch their ride back to the cruise port, we moved in to the prime seating by the beach to enjoy the water for a couple of hours. We left the island about 3:15 so we had a total of 4 hours in the island itself. Upon return to Nassau harbor we were dropped off outside the security area, very near the Pirate Republic bar. Returning to the port area, I had a chance to get some photos of the other ships in port. We then returned to the ship to prepare shower, relax and prepare for dinner.
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