Planning a 2011 Thanksgiving cruise started a year ago when granddaughter number 2 was left out of the 2010 event due to inactivity from her parents. So, she wasn’t about to let this year slip away. One requirement was Galveston so she picked the Royal Caribbean Mariner of the Seas since the kiddos were totally freaked out by Friendship Freddie from Carnival. Besides that, most felt the Western Caribbean beat the Eastern from an itinerary point of view.
Day of departure we departed Dallas around 6:00 am and with a car full of adults, could you see yourself betting on the number of out of state license plates you will see on the way. I picked the highest number, 20 and after it appeared too close for comfort I drove into a rest area and found enough to put me over the top. They called me a cheater when we counted one from Nova Scotia!
We arrived Galveston around noon, and took the shuttle from E-Z Cruise parking and put us right where we needed to be. Check-in a breeze but were told we wouldn’t be boarding until 1:30, being part of group 4. The seating situation wasn’t the best, but we found a few chairs together and found our first chair hog. He said he was saving them for his kids that we never saw. Some nice gate agent escorted us over to the other side of the room and promised to find us when it was time. By the time that arrived, our group had already been called so we joined the masses and waited our turn. Got on board around 2:15 (not another boarding picture please) and headed off to Windjammers for lunch. Rooms finally ready around 3:00 and we were off and running!
With Mommy Dearest next door along with my sister, we were looking forward to opening the adjoining doors between the balconies, so as soon as we saw our room steward, he told me he would put in the request. I never knew it was up to the Captains discretion to do this, but whatever; soon we would be drinking out bootlegged booze and playing cards. Might as well stay on topic here so on day 2, we were at the front desk trying to figure out why sis got billed for a facial she never had, and they also said they would put in the request. Day 3, our room steward said the doors wouldn’t open because they are rusted shut. Really?? I know this ship is due in dry-dock early 2012, but please don’t insult my intelligence on this one folks. I must have that stupid sign taped on my back as a prank from one of the granddaughters. Oh well, not going to let this ruin anything.
Dinners in the Sound of Music dining room were pretty good, but the service was so slow I ended up taking a nap between courses so I could possible stay awake for the late show. Being the winos we are, we absolutely had to order the premium wine package so we could get the best “deal”. Not sure how often this works in our favor, but what the heck. I never know that ordering a bottle of wine involved someone crushing grapes and fermenting them on board before you got it at the table. In some cases, it came after the first course was served. The first formal night saw all sorts of dress, but the best one was a Sergeant Major who sat at the table behind ours, so I ordered him one of ours to say thank you. I don’t know how it happened, but it was never delivered. Sad, sad, sad. It took 3 nights to get one delivered, which I couldn’t fathom. I finally asked our waiter how many tables he had and it was 3. Is this a big number? On the last night when orders were taken I wouldn’t do so until our bottle of wine was delivered, and it showed up in less than 60 seconds. After all, this was tip night! Let’s go on shall we?
The 13 year old was in a room for 4 with parents and sister, and her favorite past time was walking on the promenade deck with her friend looking for something to eat? No, looking for trouble as far as I was concerned, but how much trouble can you get into with a midnight curfew? Bite your tongue grandpa…. We did happen to run into her one night and I thought it was going to cause some kind of reaction but I sure didn’t expect, “hi papa, meet Kevin”. Okay, no worries. The younger one also had a great time especially painting papa’s fingers and toes with her favorite nail polish. What’s a crackle anyway? It sure made the stop at Dairy Queen in Huntsville interesting when I paid. My granddaughter did it for me on the cruise I pleaded, but all I got back was “sure mister”. Wouldn’t change a thing!
All sorts of fun stories including ordering a virgin pina colada but I had to ask the bartender twice if it was spiked (directed to me by the 13 year old); rock climbing contest with son-in-law where I felt like Spider Man; Ice Show Under the Big Top was outstanding; snorkeling in Belize; one of the kiddos asking for $10 to give her waiter a tip; fun trivia where we felt like a bunch of people who were held back in class, the duty free sale where you could buy a 3 litre bottle of Crown Royal for $68, and so much more.
Great family time, but the cruise itself was very disappointing. Ran out of Eggbeaters day 2 along with Harvey’s Bristol Crème in the Wig and Gavel Pub and the overall lack of interest in the staff. The Beatles show was good, but with the piano player, strings trio, and jazz group I thought we were on Holland America. Disembarkation took 2 hours and we were express! Not anytime soon Royal Caribbean, I’m taking the little princesses and my painted nails somewhere else.
One last group of comments I heard while at the front desk included a lady complaining her room was too small, and one who had her teenage daughter who couldn’t understand how she could have spent $150 in just 2 days on the ship and wanted an adjustment. Welcome to cruising!