Recently, we bought cruise tickets for Royal Carribean – Mariner of the Seas and sailed in mid October. This is baby’s first cruise, and our first cruise with Royal Carribean as well. In the past, we have sailed with Superstar cruises, which has been around for many years. After hearing positive reviews on Royal Carribean, we decided to give it a try.
Babies and toddlers are not given discounts on the Royal Carribean Cruises. They are usually counted as a third passenger in the same cabin. We booked the cruise tickets at a recent promotion for 1.7K (5D 4N, 2 adults, 1 baby) for a deluxe statesroom with a balcony (see view). It was a real steal – or so we thought.
We sailed in mid October, thinking that it should be off peak season given that parents with school going children would be busy with exams during this period. When we arrived at Marina Bay Cruise Centre, we were astonished by the number of passengers waiting to board the ship. It took us 2 hours to clear the immigration, customs and to get our cruise documents. This was despite we were given priority queue because of a young child. The passengers seated in the photo were also queuing up to board the cruise; there were also others who walked past them to cut their queue.
We finally got to see the cruise liner after 2 hours of waiting. By then, I was already exhausted from the struggle with a baby who refused to sit in his pram and kept wanting to move around.
The deluxe statesroom was simply furnished.
The attached toilet was quite small with a standing shower (not shown in the picture).
The baby cot came in much later.
We managed to get a welfie while baby had a quick nap in his cot.
We headed for our first meal at Windjammer (this is their buffet area). It took us some time to get a table to be seated – this was a common occurrence during mealtimes at Windjammer. The staff were also constantly reminding people on the PA system to give up their tables once they had finished eating so that others could find a seat.
Some of the passengers chose to eat their meals standing at a corner. There were options of bringing the food to the outdoor pool area or back to their rooms – but most people preferred to be close to the buffet tables so that it was easier to get their food refilled.
The food at Windjammer was average; with a number of dishes being too salty and the drinks were heavily diluted.
The staff went around the tables at Windjammer to offer passengers to top up their meals to better dining experiences at the Grill and Steamboat etc for prices between $25 – $85 per pax. We didn’t jump at that.
There’s a cafe at the promenade and some duty free shopping here. You can get free drinks and cakes at the cafe 24/7.
We walked around the cruise to explore other areas. There was an aesthetics doctor on board and they offer a range of aesthetics services. That’s interesting.
For us, the main draw of a cruise holiday was the food, relax time and a little swimming.
There was no wading pool for toddlers. The shallowest end for the pool is 1.35 metres. So Daddy had to guide him around in a float (we brought our own).
After a while, he got used to the idea and started smiling in the water. It is best to bring swimming diapers as some pools will refuse entry to babies unless they are wearing them.
He seemed a little angry for being stuck in water.
So when he was finally out, he began to heave a sigh of relief.
Dinner at Rhapsody of Blue Restaurant was slightly better than the lunch at Windjammer. It was fine dining with two seating times at 5 pm and 8 pm so that everyone would be guaranteed a seat when they come at their appointed times.
On the second night of the cruise, everyone was expected to wear formal attire to the dinner. This was much to the displeasure of some guests who appeared in shorts and sandals – we saw a tourist having a good quarrel with the restaurant staff at the door and insisted he wasn’t informed of the requirements; much to our amusement.
The first two nights’ dinner at Rhapsody was less than spectacular. Mother in law commented that the chicken meat was tough and dry; which we agreed. The menu for the final two nights improved – with the appearance of prawns and scallops.
On the third night when we had the shore excursion; the restaurant opened up to free seating (first-come-first-serve basis); it became a chaotic scene when people couldn’t get a table as most, if not all passengers came back after 7 pm for dinner. There was no proper queue management at the restaurant and people were crowding around the restaurant staff, wanting to go in first.
The little boy enjoyed running up and down the cabin room and admiring his reflections at times. Did you see the monkey towel hanging in the top right of the mirror? This was left behind by the staff who made the bed in the day.
Every night after dinner, there were performances lined up for the guests. The memorable ones would be ice skarting, the musical and special guest appearance of Goldart Duo from Ukraine. There were also mass dancing and late night parties for the night owls.
This was the staircase leading up to the theatre. There were several of such spiral stairs around. The reason why I took this photo was because it was not friendly to the ladies out there wearing skirts! Somebody below the stairs can easily look up to see what you are wearing underneath. I am sure when the architect designs this staircase; his main concern lies more on the aesthetic appeal than the safety of the lady passengers! Gasp… so ladies please remember to bring and wear your shorts.
On a side note; for those with mobility issues – it was advisable to leave the theatre earlier before the end of the performance otherwise, it would be almost impossible to get into a lift when everyone else would be leaving and dashing back to their rooms. Usually, we would take the stairs to go back to our rooms.
On the third day, we had the chance to leave the ship for a day excursion to Phuket. There were hoards of passengers waiting to get onto shore and we queued for a long time to get onto the ferry. It took almost 2 hours to get onto the excursion bus. We signed up for the shopping trip to Jung Ceylon; the roads were windy because of the mountaineous terrain and baby felt unwell. The photo was taken seconds before he vomited from the motion sickness. Always pack extra plastic bags in the diaper bag.
We didn’t get enough time to do a body massage at Jung Ceylon, so we paid for the 50 min spa on board – USD 99++ per person. The vertical line you see on my face was acquired from lying prone on the massage bed. The jacuzzi area was also very crowded. There were at least 10-12 people in the round jacuzzi tub next to us.
Baby loved to steer the wheels at the games arcade. So Daddy had a game with him. But he freaked out when the steering wheels started to move on its own!
There were many day activities such as fruit carving, towel folding, box making etc on board the Royal Carribean. We also tried our luck at the Family Bingo.
The casino was rather smokey; so we skipped that.
There were also mini golf courses, rock climbing and sections for ball games and outdoor activities. We walked past the childcare centre and the baby activites’ room – it was empty.
On the last 2 days of the cruise, we got enough of the maddening crowd. We discovered it was much more peaceful to order breakfast to our rooms and skip the buffet tables. The little one couldn’t wait to get the food into his mouth.
Managing a child on holiday is never an easy task. Most of the times, he is cranky. At times, he is hungry and we pray for times for him to get sleepy. But he can be such a sweetheart when he waves bye bye to strangers and claps along at the end of the birthday songs of others.
Would I book another holiday with the Royal Carribean Cruise in the near future? I would think certainly not. Once is probably enough. No doubt it is a big luxury cruise liner with a lot to promise, but the heavy crowds and the idea of sitting around and not doing much can be quite boring. The quality of the food also lacks lustre when compared to the buffet we had at Club Med Bintan. >> The pricing for Club Med is almost double to that of Royal Carribean Cruises but we were very impressed with the food at Club Med.
That’s the end of my cruise experience with Royal Carribean. Till then.