It has been 2 years since we last went on a family holiday to Sweden. Now, with the addition of
Baby Little YT, we decided a cruise might be the best holiday to enjoy with so many young kids. So, we joined my parents and brother’s family for a 4D3N cruise on-board Royal Caribbean’s biggest cruise ship in Asia “Mariner of the Seas“. It spans 1020 feet, 15 decks high (imagine a hdb block!), has 10 pools/whirlpools, and 17 bars/clubs/lounges, etc… We were prepared to be wowed by the amazing size, endless activities, exceptional crew service and excellent amenities on-board!
We checked in as early as we were allowed to and checked into our rooms. We had a balcony room and promenade room that oversees the shopping street. Yes, you heard (read) it right! A shopping street that has a Coach store among others on-board the ship!
Welcome on-board parade
After settling down and eating at the Windjammer Cafe’s sumptuous spread of Asian buffet, there were already lots of activities happening at various floors. We watched the welcome parade from the comfort of one of our rooms. I ran down to Deck 5, the Promenade, to press shutters on Dreamworks characters like Kungfu Panda, King Julien, Madagascar’s Alex and many others! Royal Caribbean staff really made us feel welcome!
There were meet and greet sessions with the Dreamworks characters for the next few days. We missed some though but more than compensated at the exclusive Dreamworks character breakfast that requires early reservations and has really limited seats.
On-board Activities and Performances
If anyone think that cruise is boring, he should see Royal Caribbean’s list of happenings on the daily Cruise Compass. What’s that? That’s a programme list of all the events and activities happening on that day and is different for every single day. You will never be at a loss of what to do for each single hour. Instead, you’ll be torn between many activities to go to and there’s always something suitable for everyone, young and old, and for the entire family. The timings are usually so well organized that you do not need to fret about missing dinner or the performances while you are at one of them.
On the second day, we watched the Ice Show performed by Royal Caribbean Ice Skating Crew. We were in awe of their skating skills and the kids were excited when they spotted the handsome skater to be the same person handing out skates and helmets to them just the day before!
I must say, if you want to define international, Royal Caribbean crew certainly is one of the best representation of the word INTERNATIONAL. They have people from all over the world to serve all the guests on-board, Romania, India, China, Spain, Japan, Singapore, Philippines, etc. The best part is that they serve with passion and you can feel their warmth, friendliness and sincerity through talking to them and their excellent service. This is the second time we are on Royal Caribbean cruise, the first was with Kel on Legends of the Seas. We had such a good time then that we knew this time round it would be as good. We were right!
We went swimming, enjoyed jacuzzi and took part in the pool volley vs the Royal Caribbean recreation crew and we won!
We were amazed that their crew was so talented, the person serving you meals could well be a balloon sculptor and the person issuing the tickets was one of the best skaters. Over at the Main Dining Room, the service was exceptional too. We had personal waiters serving us, and they remembered our seating places. At the next dinner, our baby high chair was already in place, the cup in front of Little YT and the kids’ glasses came with straws which we had requested on the first night. Our table was served with extra lemons as what the kids wanted on the previous night and each kid’s exact seat was served a small bowl of fruits. They even prepared fish or chicken congee specially for Little YT for lunch and dinner at the Windjammer Cafe and the Dining Room. Just pre-order to them in advance on your first day on-board and they’ll bring the bowl of congee to you everyday, lunch and dinner.
On the third day, we went to the recreation deck to play mini golf and climb the rock wall. We dropped off the kids at the Adventure Ocean programme for 3 hours and had some peace. It wasn’t easy to tug along 7 kids wherever we go. Kel and I finally had some time, not to ourselves as Little YT was still with us. There’s a nursery for drop off of babies too, but we didn’t want to since Little YT doesn’t like strangers. We went to the Royal Babies and Tots play area which was full of Fisher Price toys. Little YT couldn’t bear to leave even after 40 minutes of play. We then went to check out the Promenade shops and relaxed by the Balcony.
There are plenty of restaurants on the ship. Most of which are already included in the cruise fare. The Windjammer Cafe serves a spread of Asian cuisine in buffet style. They serve breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner. There are plenty of options to please everyone.
There’s a Cafe Promenade that opens till 5am in the morning at Deck 5 Promenade. That serves Starbucks Coffee if you are craving for some coffee fix. It is opened for all 3 meals too.
There are specialty dining restaurants that come at a charge. These will be perfect if you are looking for something special or you just want to eat at a less crowded place. We decided to go to Johnny Rockets which is something like Billy Bombers with old-fashioned American setting in the fifties and sixties. They have juke boxes that, unfortunately, was not working while we were there. The Beatles songs were played over the stereo while we enjoyed our burger, fries, Ramen and milkshakes. The food was delicious and the milkshakes were splendid! The waiters were fun-loving. They sang and danced for us even though we were the only customers in the restaurant in mid-afternoon! Everywhere we went, we felt we were being served happily, including here! Johnny Rockets cover charge per person is only US$4.95 and you can eat all you want. I feel it’s worth it for a different ambience with good food, great music and fun, friendly staff.
Check out here for more specialty dining options.
Dreamworks Character Breakfast
We pre-booked Dreamworks Character Breakfast prior to our trip. We were anticipating a fun-filled breakfast for the kids! We had cute menus that served hotdogs, scrambled eggs, french toast, etc in the Main Dining Room. There were some games and photo-taking with King Julien and Gloria the hippo over breakfast. They have different characters for each day. This breakfast has limited seats. You have to book it fast. It’s not to be missed for the young ones.
On the last night of our cruise, Royal Caribbean had their unique ways of biding us farewell among different crew teams. One of the highlights was the performance by the Main Dining Room service crew. They congregated from 3 different levels and took stage at the center to sing for us! All the guests were entertained by Gangnam style and Bollywood dance moves by the otherwise prim and proper waiters and waitresses. It was a nice surprise!
There’s so much to do and see on-board the cruise ship, we skipped the onshore excursion altogether and chose to stay on the ship. When you are on-board a cruise ship, you are practically eating every few hours! The spread has so much variety, we threw away all thoughts of dieting. That can come later. By the 3rd day, most of us were just eating salads and Kel prepared for me a super delicious Caesar salad that my mum and niece took more than half of my share!
Back in 2010, Kel and I enjoyed our first cruise on Legends of the Seas. We talked about bringing our kids and picture having 3 kids on the next cruise. True enough, we have our Little YT together with us on this ship and this is going to add on to our beautiful and much treasured holiday memories.
Disclosure: We paid fully for the cruise experience. The lovely dining at Johnny Rockets was with compliments from Royal Caribbean Cruises.