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Marc Van Niekerk

There is only one First Time - Mariner of the Seas B2B Oct 14-18, 18-21

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This is our first ever back to back cruise, our first as diamond, our first cruise on Mariner and out first visit to the newly renovated Coco Cay.  We chose this cruise for the ship and the chance to visit Coco Cay since it seems EVERYONE has already had the opportunity.

We managed to get the same aft corner balcony for both legs of the cruise so that is a definite bonus.

I will try to keep this up as we cruise but I am also trying to focus on relaxation.  

I will begin at Day 0 in my next post.

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We began out vacation a day before as @Matt always suggests, and took advantage of the day in the Port Canaveral Area to tour Kennedy Space Center.  It was an interesting visit, but I'm just not sure it was worth the cost.  We booked our admission in advance and feel that the $52 USD admission was a bit high for what we experienced.  It was interesting but not blow your mind.  I managed a few photos on the bus tour but the 2 hour wait was longer than the tour itself.  The highlight was probably the Apollo/Saturn V Center where you can experience a simulation of the launch as well as tour an arena where a Saturn V rocket is on display.  The bus tour also took us past SpaceX and their launch facilities as well as the massive Vehicle Assembly Building.

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Redstone Rocket

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Space X Launch pad

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NASA SLS Launch pad

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Transport Crawler

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Cralwer Path

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Orion launch abort module

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Vehicle Assembly Building

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Apollo / Saturn V Control Room

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Saturn V Rocket

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Atlantis Pavillion

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2 minutes ago, JLMoran said:

Have a fun B2B! Does this mean you're getting a total of 3 days in Coco Cay (2 on the first leg, 1 on the second), or is each leg only doing a single stop?

Unfortunately, we only have 2 days at Coco Cay.  Real time, it is presently Day 2 and we are at sea coasting to Nassau.

Sea day is  a great way to relax though.

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Continuing on, I realize that I didn't discuss itinerary.  Both sailings are going to Nassau and Coco Cay.  The 4nt (first leg) has us embarking on Monday, a Sea day Tuesday, Nassau Wednesday, Coco Cay Thursday and back to Port Canaveral on Friday.  Our second leg omits the sea day an visits Nassau and Coco Cay in that order.

For the first visit to Nassau, we have scheduled a sunset cruise.  We figure this will give us a nice opportunity to see Nassau from a different perspective since we have been there so many times.  In Coco Cay we managed to snag a great deal on an Oasis Lagoon Cabana.  We have never had a cabana so that will be a nice experience.

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Day 1

Embarkation Day!  

We finally made it to embarkation day and thanks to the advice of many we had one of the smoothest experiences ever.  We had rented a car from the Orlando Airport and driven ourselves to KSC and later in the day our hotel and diner with some friends at Grills.

In the morning we loaded our luggage into the rental car, drove to the port and left the luggage with a porter before returning the rental.  We took the rental shuttle back to the port and simple as all that we were done.  Facial recognition got us up to the lounge quickly where between Diamond status, the Key and Priority Embarkation we were amount the first to be called to board.

Our first order of business was to check out the Diamond Club loungswhich we found to be completely empty!

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From there we headed down to the Solarium where we relaxed on a cabana style bed.

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We then went in search of our lunch which was Chops menu served in the main dining room.

I can see why they do this.  It gives them much more space to handle the luggage drop off as well as get you all the information that goes along with The Key.

We enjoyed our lunch immensely with a complimentary mimosa.

I'm not much for food and menu photos so those will be scarce in this blog.

With lunch completed we headed to our cabin.  As I may have mentioned we managed to get the same aft corner balcony (9690) for both sailings.

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The balcony is spacious, although those not on the corner are a more regular shape.  There is some superstructure in the area but I haven't hit my head on it yet....

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One other item to note is that this cabin does not have the conventional slider, but rather a hinged door heading to the balcony.

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After muster, we headed to up top to catch sail away.  I don't find the scenery from Port Canaveral too compelling so just a few photos here.

Probably the most interesting here is that Mariner had pulled in bow first and so to exit we had to use the turning basin to properly orient the ship.

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Day 2

Day 2 is a sea day and kind of a lazy one.  We started with breakfast in the windjammer, followed by his and hers pedicures,.

The windjammer on Mariner is quite nice and wasn't too busy when we arrived.

Afterwards we made our way once again to the Diamond lounge for a little quiet time, and ten to our cabin to enjoy our balcony.  I took some time to start this blog and try out the new notebook I had gotten.  This is our first trip with the new notebook and the key is that it is powerful enough to process photos ant small and portable enough to carry in my camera bag which is only advertised to carry a tablet.  It is performing admirably.

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Of course, the view from the balcony was not hard to take either!

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Finally the time rolled around to 1PM, the reserved time for Key guests at the Flow Rider.  During the 1 hour session I was able to ride 3 times which is pretty good for that span of time.

There were some younger people there showing how its done.

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When my turn came up, I tried starting on my own for the first time.  I have use d the FlowRider on several cruises before and always started with staff helping me.  It all worked out just fine and I was able to get going for several seconds on my first try.

I will upload videos of the first two runs later (VOOM isn't exactly cooperative right now)

On my final try I had a good run and my wife was taking still photos from start to eventual fall.

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One note about FlowRider on Mariner compared to other ships is that they have riders lining up across the top of the FlowRider and call the next person down as the current gets started.  On most other ships people have been lined up beside.  Also the staff were making first time riders do a Boogie Board session before stand up.  Riders who had done that first run were given blue wristbands.  I somehow managed not to be made to do the Boogie Board on my first try, then on my second since I didn't have the  wristband they wanted me to do boogie.  I explained that they had already let me do stand up and they just gave me the blue band and let me continue stand up.

That was most of our activity for the Sea Day.  I did manage one more run on the FlowRider before our dinner reservation at Chops and the time spent in line for one turn was about an hour.


 

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4 hours ago, Marc Van Niekerk said:

  During the 1 hour session I was able to ride 3 times which is pretty good for that span of time.

 

Was That Boggie Or Standup? Last Cruise On Harmony I Had The Standup Wave To My Self For A Whole Hour.

4 hours ago, Marc Van Niekerk said:

Also the staff were making first time riders do a Boogie Board session before stand up.

This Is Fleet Wide. 

 

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On 10/15/2019 at 12:12 PM, Marc Van Niekerk said:

This is our first ever back to back cruise, our first as diamond, our first cruise on Mariner and out first visit to the newly renovated Coco Cay.  We chose this cruise for the ship and the chance to visit Coco Cay since it seems EVERYONE has already had the opportunity.

We managed to get the same aft corner balcony for both legs of the cruise so that is a definite bonus.

I will try to keep this up as we cruise but I am also trying to focus on relaxation.  

I will begin at Day 0 in my next post.

We leave this Friday on Mariner, also in an Aft Balcony #8390

Its also our first Diamond cruise too! 

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We are now off Mariner and as I wait at the airport, I am able to post photos so, here we go!

Continuing with day 3 we had a relatively quiet day planned with a Sunset Cruise around Paradise Island for the evening.

We left the ship around lunch with the primary goal of looking for some new sandals for me.  As we exited the ship there were some great opportunities for photos of Mariner as there were only 2 ships in port and we had docked nose in.  One issue I have been encountering is that my camera fogs up when leaving the ship for excursions due to the transition from air conditioning to the heat and humidity of the island.  Not sure how others manage this but I'm searching for ideas.

My camera was much more agreeable on return to the ship so I snapped a couple shots on the way in.

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Our sunset cruise departed around 6 PM with sunset being around 6:45.

We made our way up the pier and round to the far end of King George Wharf where we boarded our tour boat.

The boat cruised past the British Colonial Hilton and around the cruise ships toward the lighthouse at the end of Paradise Island before heading under the causeways connecting the island to New Providence. 

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This route provided some water perspective on Mariner and Carnival Liberty in port,

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a closer view of the lighthouse at the end of Paradise Island,

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and a pre-sunset view of the Nassau skyline.

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There was also a replica pirate vessel heading out of the port

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We passed by the Atlantis resort properties.

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There are some really colorful homes along the way reminiscent of those in Curacao.

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The sky was relatively overcast as we left that area of the port so we were unsure how much sunset we were going to be able to see.

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There were some other interesting structures along the way such as this Fort build near the water

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I will continue the sunset pictures in the next post.

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Day 3 Continued

The sun had not quite set but the sky was showing some promise.

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We then approached Pearl Island which was our destination for our next visit to Nassau, but more on that later (Day 6)

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It was about here that the boat turned back toward the cruise port and directly into the setting sun.

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Meanwhile on the Horizon we could see the departing Carnival Sunshine.

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I think the overcast sky ended up being a bit of a blessing with even more dramatic contrast for the setting sun.

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We grabbed a few Sunset Selfies.

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Then the sun really started to approach the horizon quickly.

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Meanwhile, we were back alongside the ships on the outside of Paradise Island.

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And the sun reached the horizon.

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Bathing the Atlantis resort in a golden glow

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Back to the setting sun....

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A great chance to see Mariner lit up in the dim light

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and a last look at the setting sun

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Upon return to the ship, Mariner was looking gorgeous all lit up.

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We had missed our dining window so we settled for a quick bite in the windjammer before returning to our cabin where we found a cute frog waiting for us.

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Up next is Perfect Day at Coco Cay.

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44 minutes ago, Marc Van Niekerk said:

One issue I have been encountering is that my camera fogs up when leaving the ship for excursions due to the transition from air conditioning to the heat and humidity of the island.  Not sure how others manage this but I'm searching for ideas.

Common problem in humid areas.  The only thing you can do is try to acclimate your camera gear well before you think you'll need it. 

When I have a balcony I'll sit them out there for 15 or 20 minutes before heading out.

If we are arriving in port or I am going to take pictures around the ship I leave the cabin well ahead and let my camera gear adjust before I start shooting.  

You have to be even more careful if changing lens when the camera is cold.  Opening the body to remove a lens will cause condensation to build on the sensor and once that is allowed to happen all of your pictures can have small dark spots even after the condensation has dried.  At that point you have to clean your sensor.  I do that myself but those not comfortable with the task will need to visit a camera store back home to have it done.

Sometimes I pick a lens before leaving my cabin and go with it for the day just to avoid having to expose my camera guts to the elements.   

If you like your cabin really cold and crank the A/C it's even worse.  

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20 hours ago, twangster said:

When I have a balcony I'll sit them out there for 15 or 20 minutes before heading out.

I have done this too and forgot to open my camera bag a bit which caused it to act as an insulated bag keeping the camera cool much longer than I expected and resulting in fogging ater all.

20 hours ago, twangster said:

You have to be even more careful if changing lens when the camera is cold.  Opening the body to remove a lens will cause condensation to build on the sensor and once that is allowed to happen all of your pictures can have small dark spots even after the condensation has dried.  At that point you have to clean your sensor.  I do that myself but those not comfortable with the task will need to visit a camera store back home to have it done.

This is a very important and wise piece of advice.  I hadn't considered the implications of this.

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