Back 6/13 from Mariner of the Seas western Caribbean. I'd be happy to try to answer any questions you might have. We were a group of 20 with kids ranging in age from 6 to 17. All were somehow involved with the kids' programs.
Teen facilities were nice. They had a place called the Living room for the 12 - 14 yr. olds that is basically a hang out room. For the 15 - 17 group they had a place called Fuel that had a dance floor and "bar" as well. Also there is an area behind the hangout rooms that is a deck area. There is NO supervision in this area and some of the dancing to be seen was just plain lewd. As for activities, 12 - 14 is an odd grouping. We had children of each age with us. The 12 yr. olds liked the activities - reserved time on the ice rink, pick up games of basketball, volleyball, dodge ball, scavenger hunt, etc.. but the 13 and 14 yr. olds would rather have just hung out. I guess it depends on the personality of your child. There were some kids in our group who reported seeing underage drinking going on, but my own two said it was not a certainty that anyone they saw was definitely under age. Some others on our cruise said they heard girls declare themselves as 14 and drinking. Supervision is the major concern I had. The two age groups (12 - 14 and 15 - 17) can hang together out on the deck or in the arcade. Everyone from 10 up (I believe) is allowed to check themselves in and out. I know 12 and up can do this. If you need more specific ideas of the activities, I can get out the teen compasses we have and let you know.
Programs for those ages like any other would depend on the individual and whether they like to do the kinds of things they have. My own two kids (14 and 17) went to the first noght's mingle to get to know others but they really didn't participate in the planned activities. I would also let you know that the supervision is next to nothing in both those age groups. At night the kids like to hang out on the "back porch" - the part of the deck reserved for teens. There is no supervision out there. It is dark in some areas and there are lounge chairs available. The activity most favored when I was around was either tonsil cleaning or grinding to music with a member of the opposite sex. There were activities listed that sounded like a lot of fun (Sports Night - dodgeball and basketball), Hawaiian Night, Karaoke, Pool Party, Battle of the Sexes, A-Z Scavenger Hunt - an example from several different nights) but a lot of activities didn't happen. The cruise line said it was due to lack of desire on the kids' part. The kids said it was becasue nobody from the cruise line showed up to carry out the programs. My own kids each had someone their age from our group so they were pretty much fine doing their own thing. If your kids are into organized activities, it may not be satisfying then again, your week on your ship may prove to be totally different experience.
We are going next summer on the Mariner, what kind af cabin did you have? we want a balcony but for 4 of us it wil probally be very crowded. We can get two rooms, one a balcony and a state room across the hall on the 9th or 8 floor but don't know what the cost will be, trying to get this as cheap as we can. We are doing Western cruise is that what you did and if so what activities did you do at the ports? Our boys will be 17 and we would like this to be a family vacation with doing things with them. How was the boat, we(my husband and I went on the Exployer last year and I think this boat is pretty much build like it. Very Big. Did you like the entertament, shows and were the kids aloud in to all the shows, what times do the pools closed ?
Thanks for any information MARY
We had two interior cabins on Deck 8. We had a group of 4 families and all of us had interiors except one family got an aft balcony and put two of their kids in a cabin sort of across the hall. Group rates are cheaper. If you don't have that option, interiors were fine as little as were in them. Our kids are 14 and 17. I had wanted to put all 4 in one cabin to save $. Dh said two cabins. I am so glad he did! WE would have been all over each other with all 4 in one cabin.
We did do western. In Labadee we rented wave runners and had a blast on them! Dd and I were suppposed to go parasailing but it was cancelled due to choppy water so we did the wave runners which dh and ds did with us for a second time. In Ocho Rios, we booked through Peat Taylor. I cannot say enough good things about Peat! He offered to take us wherever we wanted to go. We went to Dunns River Falls where you get a DRF guide. Peat picked us up when we were done - was waiting for us. He took us through Fern Gulley into the mountain countryside. We stopped at a kindergarten and got off to visit with the kids. We went to a pottery factory - we were not pressured to buy anything at all. He returned us to the ship for lunch - cheaper than eating on land - and returned to pick us up when we requested to take us shopping that afternoon. One family in our group wanted to go get stamps and their daughters' hair braided, so he took them downtown to a post office and to people for braiding. He was excellent, entertaining - he sings, honest and fair - we'd book agian with him in a heartbeat! In Grand Cayman we did the ship's snorkel and Sting Ray City. I would do this one differently as our Sting Ray city was not in standing depth water - you had to swim the entire time which limits your ability to interact with the rays. Coral Gardens was beautiful though. Another family in our group did the ships stingray city only tour and loved it! In Cozumel, dd and I were supposed to parasail again but that is the one port where it rained on us and the parasailing was cancelled. We chose to shop. Another family in our group did the dolphin swim and highly suggested we do that when we go back. Another family took a cab to 7 mile beach and really enjoyed walking the beach in the rain.
The ship is beautiful with many, many things to do. We wanted our vacation to include a lot of time with our kids too, but once they and their buddies form our group met others, it was hard to get them back to hang with us. We did enjoy the entertainment though we did not go to anything that was listed as "adult". Captain Johnny is wonderful and Becky did a very good job as cruise director. We really enjoyed the art on this ship - walked the stairs just to see it. The kids were allowed into all the shows - even the "adult" ones. The pools - we are trying to remember and thinking it was around 11:00, but the hot tubs were still open. 17 yr. olds can use the solarium too so that would be a bonus for some together time for you - less crowded.
Thanks so much for the information, I get really excited about vacations and even though this is a year away, I love to plan ahead and get all the information that I can. I'm waiting for my travel agent to call me back on the two rooms, we would have a balcony and the boys would be across the hall, I'm hopeing that it will work out for us that way, I can't image the four of us in one room, but we will have to do what is cheaper and I guess we can handle one room if we have to.
We (my husband and I) also had Peat Taylor for our tour guide in Ochos Rios, we really like him too. He gave us a real tour of Jamaica and thats what we want to see. Also heard that Phil Layette is a good tour guide, but don't know if we would change to him or not.
In Grand Cayman we had Capt. Marvin tour and enjoy the stingrays very much and the snokling. It's a small boat , but plenty of room and not alot of people, maybe 30 or so.
In Cozumel we went to a park that charges ten dollars to get in and we enjoyed that, but will probally do something else this time. Heard about a Mr. Sanchos that is a resturent and beach also has a pool to hang out in might check that out. any one know anything about it???
Did you go by Marigutieville in Jamaica and what about the Island Village for shopping? Thanks for all the information, can't wait until we go!!!!! MARY
Hi Mary - Re: Margaritaville and island Village... we did get a picture in front of Margaritaville as we strolled through Island Village (Margaritaville is in Island Village) looking for a cookbook for my mom. We didn't go in. Island Village is done well for a tourist shopping area. We found oursleves feeling very cautious in that area - trying to be very aware of our surroundings. We walked through and used the beach to get back to the ship instead of going all the way back to the entrance to then walk down the street to the ship. I would have to say this was the worst of our short time in Jamaica - lots of police presence which made us feel there was something to worry about. On the beach the music from Margaritaville was playing loudly. I am not a prude, but the lyrics of the music at that particular time made me nauseous. It was so lewd. By the time we got back to the ship, I felt filthy for having been there (Island Village). Next time I would stay away but that is just personal preference. We also shopped at Taj Majal - got some t-shirts there, but it was not something we found required much of our time. Have fun planning - that is a big part of my whole vacation experience too. In fact our group of 4 families had 4 different parties in the year before our cruise just because we were so excited and wanted to share some planning together.
Do you have Peat Taylor e-amil address? I can't get ahold of him though the address that I have, they said it has close down for lack of use. Still waiting for travel agent with my prices on my cruise, hopefully I;ll hear from her today, I can't help getting excited about getting this all arranged.
So Island village is not a good shopping area, I thought that it was fairly new, also Margaritavile I thought would be ok because it had a pool and a beach area to sit at but I don't know. We don't drink but just wanted to go for the pool and beach areaand to hang out. Don't know if I want to expose my kids( I know they are going to be 17 by then) to any thing that is not decent. So I guess we will have to think about it.
Hopefully I can get ahold of Peat taylor, so if you can help me with that I would appreciate. Thanks in advance, MARY
Hey Mary - I didn't mean to say Island Village wasn't good. I was just trying to give an hopnest appraisal of how we found it. There are many shops there and if you want to shop, I think it better than Taj Majal.
I am trying to get a direct e-mail addy for Peat for you. Our hard drive died after we had booked with Peat, and so I lost it. I too tried the website and found it not active. i know he adn a friend were going to take part of this summer to build a bathroom at the school we visited, so maybe this is his "vacation" and he doesn't keep it active during that time - I don't know. I'll repost with an address or a note letting you know I can't get it.
Mary - I got Peat Taylor's website to come up today. His e-mail addy is firstname.lastname@example.org Honestly after seeing him in action, I do not know how he answers e-mail as quickly as he does. I was impressed before we went to Jamaica, but after seeing how hard he works, I am more impressed. Hope you can get in touch with him now!
Thanks for Peat Taylor address, I'll try it later when I get booked for our cruise. When did you take your cruise? I want to go to the schools, but I know they are not open in July(Peat told me last time to come back earlier in the summer and he would take us in) I used to be a sub-teacher and I have a great interest in the school system there. Were you able to meet the kids and teacher? What about giving out candy or anything, could you take pictures? I can ask Peat these questions also but I thought you might be able to fill me in first. Thanks in advance,MARY
My daughter will be 12 in March (6th grade); going on the Mariner over New Years. Any suggestions about which age group she should join? Sounds like the 12-14 might be a lot more independent. Is it possible to check out both, or once I said her age, she'll be stuck?
You won't have a choice -- she'll have to go to the group for her age. The youth counselors get a list from the main office w/all the kids names and dates of birth so you won't be able to lie either! Royal Caribbean is pretty strict about adhering to this policy, especially when for cruises that have a high volume of kids, which this one will. RCI has a great youth program -- your daughter should have a blast!
Luisa Frey GAynor
Family Cruise Editor