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Lovetocruise2002

“Moments on Mariner” – Mariner of the Seas– August 13-17, 2018

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I wasn’t entirely truthful…. or that’s what Hubby told me when I first presented the idea of this cruise to him.  The last time I blogged in March, while on board Anthem, I said the next live blog would be on Harmony in March 2019.  At the moment, it’s only August… 

Here’s the backstory:

It all started around April (@Skid, it was not as spontaneous as you thought), when Hubby let me in on an innocent fact.  He said, “I took a week off in August while you and girls are still off.”  My response, “What do you want to do during that week?”, but really, the gears already started turning and I’m thinking, “What cruise can I book that won’t break the bank (since we’ve already taken double the amount we usually take in one year)?” 

We tossed around the idea of doing a land vacation to New York or Chicago.  I even went as far as to price it out and research things we could do with the kids there.  All the while, in the back of my mind, I’m thinking, a cruise is still better value.  I consulted the kids in the land vacation planning and I was met with two responses, “Is there going to be a lot of walking?” and, “Why can’t we just go on another cruise?”  Yes!  I have raised cruise addicts…scary thought.

With all the hype surrounding Mariner’s revitalization, my curiosity was piqued.  I priced it out and the price was not as bad as I thought it would be.  With that, I pitched the idea to Hubby.  I was met with a firm, “NO!”  Not because he doesn’t like cruising, but because this would be our 5th cruise (6th if you count the one that we treated my parents to) within a one-year period (we don’t live the @twangster or @Matt life), we are 211 days away from a Star Class sailing 💲💲💲, and we just got off the Seaside two weeks ago.  However, fittingly, as my title by @Matt would have it, I’m not called a “Stubborn Canadian Scorpio” for nothing.  I continued to monitor pricing and air fare, and as luck would have it, somewhere near the end of May, both went down to a decent rate.   Hubby, as I suspected, did not have any other ideas for a land vacation so he finally agreed, and I said, “YOLO, I’m Booking It!”  The reality of it is that I am, “Blessed by God and Spoiled by my Husband”.

Who is going?  Hubby and I, and our two girls (D12, D9 about to be 10)

Flight:

Once again, we are flying out of DTW to FLL.  Mariner leaves from Miami, but flights were cheaper to FLL and we prefer to stay there anyway.

Our plan is to use Lyft Plus to get us to the Port of Miami in the morning.

Pre-cruise Stay:

Normally, we like to stay at the Renaissance (on 17th Street) but this time we have our kids with us and HYATT PLACE FORT LAUDERDALE 17TH STREET CONVENTION CENTER is better suited for our family.  The hotel provides a free airport shuttle from FLL, complimentary Wi-Fi, and a complimentary hot breakfast in the morning.  Anyone travelling with kids knows what a relief it is not to have to find food for the kids in the morning.  In addition, the best part about this hotel, is that it is right next door to our favourite restaurant in Fort Lauderdale, La Bamba!  The call of margaritas and fried ice cream is strong!

I also discovered a really nice surprise when booking this hotel.  There is a website, valuetrips.com, that discounts the rate at this hotel considerably.  They act as a third party.  They reserve and secure a great rate for you, you pay for it upon arrival and you will still receive loyalty points if you collect them.  Their communication is horrible, but I knew this from reading online reviews.  Upon securing the reservation with the hotel, Valuetrips should send you a confirmation through email.  As per the reviews I had read, the email never came.  About ten days after submitting my request online, I called the Hyatt directly, and my reservation was on file with them.  They confirmed the rate that I secured through Valuetrips and everything worked out.  I finally received an email from Valuetrips about a month after submitting my request.  For anyone thinking of using valuetrips.com, be prepared to confirm the booking on your own but you’ll save a bit of money in the process.  We saved almost $100 by going through Valuetrips.

Itinerary:

This 4-night Mariner sailing brings us to Nassau and Coco Cay.  As usual, the ship is the destination for us.  Last time, on Anthem, we missed Coco Cay and we asked the girls if they wanted us to re-purchase the excursions that we had planned.  They declined.  I also thought it would be fun to take them to explore the aquarium at Atlantis in Nassau, but they declined that too.  If you ask my kids what they are looking forward to this week, the answer is simple (and cheap).  They want to eat ice cream and pizza, have free reign over food in the WJ, ride the waterslides, and swim.  So, we have no excursions booked and we will be roaming around with no set plans for this cruise.

Cabin:

We are booked in a JS up on Deck 11.  There were no plans to upgrade this because of two reasons.  One being that this is one of the new Junior Suites installed during the recent dry dock, so I know this room is new, fresh, and in good condition.  Recent reviews and scopes have indicated that existing staterooms have not been refurbished with the rest of the ship, so I am happy with our choice here.  The second reason is that this cruise is an extra for us.  I wanted at least a JS to get the double C&A points (we are currently 5 points out from Diamond, so this will do it for us), and because Voyager class ships don’t have the same suite benefits as Oasis and Quantum class for GS and above, there is no real incentive to go higher for a 4-night sailing.

Pre-cruise thoughts:

-          The most special thing this sailing will be my daughter’s 10th birthday.  She has big plans.  She wants to sleep in, check out the ship, swim a bit, go on the water slides, and spend time together as a family.  She is the sweetest!  I also think she is what finally convinced Hubby.  Those of you who have children know that you cannot take one daughter on a cruise three years ago to celebrate her birthday and not have the other daughter want the same eventually.

-          Really looking forward to this sailing since it will be a return to the beginning for us.  We have not sailed a Voyager class ship since our first cruise back in 2002.

-          We are booked for MTD.  This will also be a return to the MDR since 2016.  I have mixed feelings about this.  More on that later.  But again, keeping this cruise as low cost as possible, we will not be doing any specialty dining.

-          I am excited to be literally steps away from the Solarium.

-          It will be interesting to see what my kids think of this ship.  They have now sailed DCL (which is similar in size to Mariner) three times and Anthem.  This will be the first time that they can skate on a ship.

-          I cannot wait to check out the late night WJ offerings.

-          We purchased VOOM for 2 Devices again.

-          Once again, in the spirit of a live blog, please do not hesitate to ask any questions.  I will do my best to find out whatever I can for you.

-          When responding to a post with a series of pictures, please do not include the pictures in your reply.  It just makes for easier scrolling.

-          Lastly, I will do my best to bring the cruise to you LIVE through Periscope – you can follow me @LoveToCruise2002.

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OK, a few things here @Lovetocruise2002

1. How did you ever make it two whole weeks between cruises?😀

2. As much as we all love cruising, keep in mind that a trip to NY could have resulted in meeting @JLMoran, @KathyC aka KathLuvsGH, us  and other locals...no group cruise necessary! hehe. A trip to Chicago may have gotten you guys home cooked jerk chicken, curried goat, stuffed red snapper or gumbo at @Sweety!!! That, I'm sure, is better than any specialty restaurant!

3. Happy birthday to the big one oh!!

4. Happy sailing and be safe.

 

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5 hours ago, rjac said:

I can feel your excitement, have a great trip! :27_sunglasses:

What gave it away? 🤔😁

5 hours ago, Sweety said:

What!!!!!! No Chicago. I'm hurt. Can't wait to read about Marnier. I am on her next August.

Well at least I cannot be blamed for you booking her then 😉

2 hours ago, Skid said:

OK, a few things here @Lovetocruise2002

1. How did you ever make it two whole weeks between cruises?😀

2. As much as we all love cruising, keep in mind that a trip to NY could have resulted in meeting @JLMoran, @KathyC aka KathLuvsGH, us  and other locals...no group cruise necessary! hehe. A trip to Chicago may have gotten you guys home cooked jerk chicken, curried goat, stuffed red snapper or gumbo at @Sweety!!! That, I'm sure, is better than any specialty restaurant!

3. Happy birthday to the big one oh!!

4. Happy sailing and be safe.

 

Let me tell you, between @bellemiche and her blog, and scopes by @twangster and others last week and this week, it was so hard waiting two weeks!! 

1 hour ago, KathyC aka KathLuvsGH said:

It would've been so awesome if you came to NY!!  Other locals you could've hung out with Ken Jarvis, Cruise Life Rick, Jose Pena (but he's on a cruise right now) we would've had a blast!! 

One day...I have not completely ruled out the Anthem GC yet 😉

49 minutes ago, WAAAYTOOO said:

YIPPEE !!!  Excited to hear about and see Mariner.  I know you will have a GREAT time.

Thanks Raye!

39 minutes ago, ellcee said:

Enjoy!!!!

Will do! Have to...in for a 6 month dry dock after this so I really have to soak it all up!

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58 minutes ago, Baked Alaska said:

What a great way to start off the school year! Can't wait to see and hear all about your cruise on the Mariner! Have a great time!

We don't go back until the day after Labour Day here in Ontario. It's more like "one last hurrah" before we go back 😊

Thank you for following along.

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First of all Congratualtions on breaking the Diamond barrier and also Happy Birthday 🎂 to your girl! Her birthday plans soumd alot like mine usually are actually.

Secondly your trip sounds eerily similar to mine except I didn't need to convince my hubby granted this is only the second cruise of the year.  We were much more spur of the moment but the mariner is really sucking us all in at this point. I'll be following along to see if I can gleen anymore info for our spur of the moment trip on her at the end of Sept. But mostly I'll be living vicariously through you since waiting is just so hard! Looks like I really need to get on Pericope now 😉

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3 hours ago, kpersons09 said:

 Looks like I really need to get on Pericope now 

Periscope is wonderful in that you can live it through others but terrible in that the more you watch, the more you wish you were going somewhere too 😐

Thank you for following along and don't hesitate to ask anything along the way. That's how we roll here 😊

@Matt...look...another one sailing Mariner before you lol

2 hours ago, twangster said:

And now that you and hubster will be Diamond, I can cruise with you.  

I am honoured 😜 Too bad it's not tomorrow. I know...it's the dog's fault 

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I must be getting old. I do not remember the last time I woke up at 3am to catch an early flight. It feels terrible! Note to self, this may not be a good idea in the future. Wonder if I should throw an umbrella into the suitcase....

 

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Sitting at the gate waiting for our flight. Pretty non-eventful trip to DTW other than the airport was completely packed through baggage check and security. It is never like that here!  But then again, we usually don't fly out Sunday morning either so who knows.  

My kids informed us that they did not sleep at all last night. Lights were on at 3am when I woke up earlier. Pretty sure D9 is crashing. Should make for an interesting rest of the day. Currently debating what we should eat for breakfast before boarding...exciting times 😉

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2 hours ago, Lovetocruise2002 said:

 

My kids informed us that they did not sleep at all last night. Lights were on at 3am when I woke up earlier. Pretty sure D9 is crashing. Should make for an interesting rest of the day. Currently debating what we should eat for breakfast before boarding...exciting times 😉

Ugh. And then the breakfast. The airport food is full of carbs. As a result, mid-flight the sugar crash happens. You all should sleep very well tonight. . . on the Mariner. . . no, I'm not jealous! 😭

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4 hours ago, Baked Alaska said:

Ugh. And then the breakfast. The airport food is full of carbs. As a result, mid-flight the sugar crash happens. You all should sleep very well tonight. . . on the Mariner. . . no, I'm not jealous! 😭

One more day till Mariner. We always fly in a day ahead. About the sugar crash....this was our situation about an hour ago at baggage claim....

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Pretty uneventful flight into FLL. We are checked in and settled at Hyatt Place now as I sit here to update this. Everyone is either napping or relaxing. D9 seems to have picked up a second wind.

First impressions of this hotel is that it is a decent pre-cruise hotel. I did not bother to scope this as there was nothing extraordinary about it but definitely more than sufficient accommodations for one night. The room sleeps 6. Two double beds and the sofa pulls out into another double. My only gripe is that the sink area is outside the shower area. I don't like that set up. Other than that, very spacious. 

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The plan is to head out for an early dinner in a bit....La Bamba! 😍 Then we'll call it a night. 

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17 minutes ago, Lovetocruise2002 said:

About the sugar crash

Hey I would crash to if I had to drag all those suitcases around, can't believe you had that little girl do that:3_grin:

 

11 minutes ago, Lovetocruise2002 said:

Hyatt Place

That's our preferred hotel whenever we travel. I think you will be surprised by the breakfast! :27_sunglasses:

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So if you've been following these boards for a while, you will already know how much I love La Bamba when sailing out of South Florida. You probably have already heard @JLMoran, @tonyfsu21, and @bellemiche make similar comments. Be sure to to give them a try the next time you are in the area pre/post cruise. Their food is delicious, portions are huge, their margaritas are perfect, and service is wonderful!  Here are a few photos to try to do them justice.

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House Cheese Dip and House Nachos and Cheese:

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El Patron Margarita:

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Kids Chicken Taco (Hard Shell):

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Chicken Quesadilla:

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Chicken Fajitas:

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Chicken Tostadas:

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And to finish it all off (even though we were completely stuffed), Fried Ice Cream! (Minus the Whipped Cream).

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Current situation: Food Coma 

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