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Old July 19th, 2010, 01:58 PM
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Default Mariner leaving the West Coast - Anyone planning to take it?


Mariner of the Seas, the largest ship sailing regularly from the West Coast, is leaving soon.

Mariner of the Seas to MexicoBy Paul Motter Mariner of the Seas arrived in Los Angeles in February of 2009, with Carnival Splendor arriving just two months later. Both ships are so big they had to sail around South America to get here. It was quite a feat to relocate both of these ships and it demonstrated a commitment to West Coast cruising in hopes that California and other western states would support two Mega-ships making regular runs to the Mexico Riviera.


Well, we didn't. Mariner, the largest cruise ship ever to schedule regular cruise out of Los Angeles, is leaving for good with its last cruise sailing January 9th. This ship, at 138,000-tons, is the of the popular Royal Caribbean Voyager-class, and it is one of the most unique ship to ever sail from California.


I have been suggesting to all West Coast cruisers that they try this ship before it leaves, because once it is gone you will have to fly all the way to Galveston to get sail a ship of this size - in fact, it will be the same ship, Mariner, because that is where it is eventually headed.


I have to say that it makes me a bit sad that Los Angeles can't support a ship of this size when much smaller cities, like Galveston and New Orleans, seem to have no problem supporting multiple mega-ships at the same time.


Yes, Mariner of the Seas is moving to Galveston, which incredibly enough, is also scheduled to be the homeport for Carnivals newest and biggest cruise ship, Carnival Magic (bigger than Carnival Splendor). How is it that Galveston can do what Los Angeles cannot?


Why are California cruises foundering? It is true that tourism to Mexico is down due to violence in the country, but that is largely confined to the border cities of Tijuana, Nogales and El Paso. The remote coastal cities where these ships sail have not had significant local crimes against cruise passengers reported. In fact, every cruise port is more dangerous now, look at the recent Caribbean incidents.


But crime isn't the main reason cruise numbers are down. The real reason is stigma. It was one year ago last April that we heard all of the cruise lines would be cancelling stops at all Mexican ports due to the outbreak of Mexican Flu. The virus did not even have its proper name, H1N1, yet, and to say there was a bit a sensationalism involved is an understatement.
That same morning the three largest cruise lines had each stated they had no intentions of changing their itineraries to avoid Mexico - because there were no outbreaks anywhere near where the ships landed. Then that afternoon the Department of Homeland Security recommended cancelling all "non-essential" travel to Mexico.


Within an hour every cruise ship scheduled to stop in Mexico tugged hard on the reins and came to a screeching halt. One ship with Cabo san Lucas in its sight spent seven days at sea without touching land again until the end of the cruise in Los Angeles. In retrospect, that seems pretty ridiculous, but at the time the fear meter was glowing bright red.


Demand plunged immediately as ships like Mariner were re-routed to northerly itineraries for the next two months, even calling in Vancouver, Canada in early April - not exactly the first choice of people looking to escape the cold winter weather.


Prices on seven-day Mexico cruises dropped as low as $199 per person and remained dirt cheap throughout the rest of the year. The faltering economy, especially in California, did not help any. Ironically, the outbreaks of the virus within Mexico never did escalate, or occur anywhere near any cruise ship ports of call. And to the best of my memory not a single confirmed case of H1N1 was ever reported on a cruise ship that had been to Mexico.


Still, the stigma against Mexico cruises remains and unfortunately for California the region still has not regained the popularity it was just beginning to see.


So Mariner of the Seas is leaving for good as of January 2011. This is a huge loss for California - Mariner is the biggest and most exciting cruise ship on the West Coast. Yes, we still have Sapphire Princess and Carnival Splendor, but Mariner is almost 20% larger than each of those and has a ton of onboard features not found on any other West Coast ship - such as an ice rink, rock climbing walls, a huge indoor promenade and just plenty of great space for cruising fun.


Mariner sails every Sunday from Los Angeles to Mazatlan, Puerto Vallarta and Cabo San Lucas. You can see a deal for a seven-day Mexican Riviera cruise to the left. Prices are going up as these final cruises fill up, so book now. September through November have crept up to the $550+ range, but there are December cruises at $493 per person, double occupancy for an inside cabin, or $722 for a balcony cabin. Fares are much higher during the summer months.


West Coasters, please try this ship before it leaves. It is the most exciting ship west of Texas and no vessel of its caliber is scheduled to replace it. Mariner is great for active families of all ages. Onboard attractions include an ice rink, rollerblading, mini-golf, kids' and teens' centers, spa services, a gym, pools, hot tubs, great entertainment, and a huge indoor promenade area.
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Old July 19th, 2010, 06:01 PM
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I am surprised to hear that the west coast, cannot support the Mariner. The only thing I can think of, is it's too much Mexico. At least from Galvaston, there is more diversity, especially with the Magic coming soon, cruisers will actually head east, if they choose too

On the east coast, I hardlyever hear of people going to the west coast to cruise. The cost to fly, the itinerary and the luxury of just heading south, to Florida, with so many ships to choose from, at least for me, this would not happen.
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Old July 19th, 2010, 07:03 PM
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The only thing I can think of is this - there are a LOT more East Coast seaboard residents who endure long cold winters - big city people (like New Yorkers) escaping cold winters is a common cruise profile.

The Western US is not nearly as cold as the East Coast - And California has pretty nice weather all the time so there is less need to cruise.

I would think a mid-westerner would go west once in awhile - they should, San Diego is a beautiful city. But I understand East Coast people not doing it.

But Californians probably just dont cruise so much because all cruises go tothe same place. They don't seem to cruise "for the ship" as much as East coasters do. Plus California is a playground already - you dont need to cruise for shows, water slides, nightclubs, etc.

I have often said that if the cruise lines could develop more ports in Mexico it would help. I will tell you this, Cabo is a very nice destination for shopping now, the best in the Mexican Riviera.

But bottom line, a lot of Californians do cruise out if Florida a lot, but they dont seem to want to go out of their own backyard.
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Old July 19th, 2010, 08:37 PM
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I for one was shocked when I heard the Mariner was being pulled from LA. We cruised the Mexico itinerary in February this year and already had it booked again for Feb next year. We had to change our plans and am going on the Mariner on her last cruise to Mexico Jan. 9th. The ports we stopped at were all beautiful and I was pleasantly surprised at how much I liked the stops. Granted the water is not the beautiful clear turquise water like the Caribbean. But we saw so many whales and dolphins while on the ship, it was amazing to watch the huge pods of dolphins playing in the wake of the ship. You don't see that in the Caribbean.
I'm sure it was not an easy call for RCL to make to move the ship, but they are in the business to make money and if it isn't profitable to stay in LA they need to go where they can make more money. It truly is sad that the H1N1 scare influenced so many people to fear Mexico that the cruise line couldn't make it past it. We were a little bit worried about it when we planned our Feb. cruise this year, but I came down with the H1N1 in October and didn't need to worry about it anyway. The ship seemed to be at full capacity when we were on her but I know that the priced had dropped $800 before we left and they surely couldn't have made any money off the cruise fares alone.
It is easy for us to leave out of LA since we live in Utah, but we also have done many cruises out of Florida and New Jersey. So I don't buy into the east coast people who said it was to far to fly, we do it all the time, and fly from east to west at least you gain time. I hope if you can, you can squeeze in the Mexico itinerary before the Mariner leaves and will be as pleasantly surprised as I was at how beautiful Cabo, Mazatlan and Puerto Vallerta really are.
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Old July 19th, 2010, 10:39 PM
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We were on the Mariner for the 3rd time back in April. We had sailed it twice out of Canaveral.
We enjoyed the Mexican Riviera and glad we went, as we had never been on that itin. I really wish we had the time to take the cruise around South America to Galveston on her but, alas, time won't allow it just now.
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Old July 19th, 2010, 11:03 PM
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In the last two years I've done the Mexican Riviera twice but not on Mariner. My wife and I were looking at doing it again and she wanted to go on another mega-ship. I guess she'll have to get her mega-ship fix, in October, on Epic.

I do believe that as many Californians aren't looking for a warm weather getaway but more of a short outing. I think that's why the 3 and 4 day cruises are still popular.

I have found that the Mexican Riviera can be just as, or more, fun than the Caribbean.

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Old July 20th, 2010, 09:47 AM
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We are sad to see her leave also. We have cruised on her 3 times, our first time out of CC and because of Hurricane Frances we had a 9 day cruise. We were burnt out going to Mexico but loved the ship so much we cruised on her twice last year and were hoping to again next year. It is nice not to fly somewhere. We also were lucky enough to do the Pacific Coast and Mexico. Many who complained about the change in itinerary changed their minds once the experienced the ports. There was even talk at the Captain's meeting about offering the Pacific Coast itinerary more often which received lots of applause. We'll see what the future brings. Meanwhile, less than 6 weeks till we cruise on the Freedom out of PC!!
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Old July 20th, 2010, 09:49 AM
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Guess I'm totally different. Although I would fly from Niagara to LA (we have many times in fact) I would not consider a cruise to Mexico. I believe my attitude is also part of the problem for this ship.

I do not like Mexico. I only seeing it getting worse over time until they have dealt with their drug and corruption problems.

That particular route is boring after having done it once.

Winter really isn't quite warm enough for a southern get-a-way.

I do know that many Canadians will not take a cruise strictly to Mexico. They prefer the added beauty and warmth of going farther south.

A ship like this has to be sold to more than Californians.

I was very surprised when they moved the Mariner to LA and I never did expect it to make it's market.
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Old July 20th, 2010, 03:47 PM
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In way I tend to agree about the Mexican ports, but I was VERY surprised to see who much Cabo has grown since 2000. It is now a very decent modern Mexican village where you can shop for first class authentic Mexican artists and beautiful furnishings for your home.

In Puerto Vallarta the best thing to do is just sit on the beach (like a private island experience) and buy drinks from hotel waiters, go parasailing and horseback riding.

Mazatlan is a complete waste of time as far as i can see. A long taxi ride to the one shopping area is no reason to stop there.

I have stopped in Ixtapa/Zuahatinejo and what i saw seemed a lot more promising. It is too bad Acapulco is so far away.

But the reality is that West cost cruising depends on the development of Mexico ports, and in a way it is amazing the cruise lines have not done more along these lines. But I did have a long talk with a Carnival executive about this once and he explained to me the cruise lines can only develop a place where they are sure they can have at least 20-30 years of stability, and Mexico has never been able to offer that. (the challenge being do you deal with the government or private enterprise?).

The problem is that you can't trust either because government is not stable (they are usually corrupt) and they often screw with private enterprise.

An entrepreneur could make a mint developing a place like Ixcaret on the west coast. All the cruise lines would stop there. I really don't know why it hasn't happened.
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Old July 20th, 2010, 04:49 PM
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Yes I'm booked on the last cruise January 9, 2011. This will be a reunion cruise of people I've met on previous cruises and from different cruise lines. It is very convenient for me out of Port of LA.

Holland sails from San Diego and enjoy that line. A little bit of a drive but worth it as no flights for me.

Sometimes when the price is right take a Mex Riv cruise to fill a void of cruising.
Very sad that RCI is pulling out.

Princess is still sailing the 3 ports but not my most favorite line, but better than others.
Carnival is out for me.

Agree with Paul, Mazatlan is not a shore excursion best.
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Old July 20th, 2010, 05:37 PM
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STEVE - great TO SEE YOU!

I am glad to hear there are some regular California cruisers like the West Coast ships.

I took Sapphire Princess out of LA last summer and it was a fun cruise. Great food, lots of lively entertainment.

When Mariner leaves it will certainly fill the void. It switched over to a mixed itinerary last year, but now maybe it will do more Mexico cruises. We'll see.
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Old July 20th, 2010, 06:20 PM
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Default Not enough variety in Mexico cruises

I agree, it is sad to see that the west coast cannot support a large ship. I think the biggest issue might be simply due to logistics. There is not enough variety available on 7-day voyages to Mexico. I have done the Mexican Riviera (Cabo, Mazatlan, Puerto Vallarta) 3 times in the past 5-6 years. Although I love these cities, the novelty is gone after cruise #1. I took the second and third trips mainly due to incredible prices. So I hesitate spending the bigger bucks for the same trip just to try a different ship. The Caribbean on the other hand offers seemingly endless destinations. Even if you have already visited several of the ports, there is frequently a new one added to each ship's itinerary which keeps things interesting.
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Old July 20th, 2010, 06:34 PM
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Let me try another way of looking at this and see if anyone agrees...

Suppose the real reason most people go to the Caribbean is because that is where the best SHIPS are.

Okay - RCL sent us Mariner, but they didnt send us Liberty, or Allure.

I personally never go the Caribbean for the ports. I have seen every island in the Caribbean and they are all very much the same. They are more accomodating than Mazatlan (that is true) but I still do NOT fly east to cruise in the Caribbean just to visit Grand Cayman for the 25th time.

Maybe Mariner was good - but not good enough? Maybe the ship is even MORE important on the West Coast because the itinerary is more boring. Maybe Carnival needs to send us Carnival Dream instead of putting it in Galveston. Maybe RCL needs to send us Liberty or Independence instead of Mariner. Lets face it, the Voyager ships came out in 1999. Was anyone really overjoyed that she came to Los Angeles? Happy yes, but not overjoyed.

Then would West Coast cruisers cruise more?

I know I certainly would pony up the extra money to sail on Allure if I didnt have to fly to Ft Laud to get on her.
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Old July 20th, 2010, 06:49 PM
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I don't live on the west coast so of course can't speak for them. However my issue is MEXICO. It doesn't matter what ship is there I wouldn't take it just because it goes to Mexico.

Many people think as I do.
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Old July 20th, 2010, 07:31 PM
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Paul said......

Maybe Mariner was good - but not good enough? Maybe the ship is even MORE important on the West Coast because the itinerary is more boring.

I think that's a valid point...If the best of the best, was there, maybe seasoned cruisers, sick of the same old itienerary, would cruise just for the ship experience. But only one with all the bells and whistles.
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Old July 21st, 2010, 09:39 AM
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Paul..good point

Question ?....do the short 3-4 day cruises on the west coast do well ? my sense is that one could combine a land package to San Diego (Zoo, SeaWorld etc) and LAX,( Disneyland etc)., with a short cruise instead of being dependent on a 7 day cruise to Mexico

I lived on the west coast for several years and cruised Mexico twice and have no desire to do it again
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Old July 21st, 2010, 10:04 AM
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Some casual observations:

Too bad LA can not support two large ships, but Los Angeles can not support an NFL team either.

I'm not sure the Mexican fears/problems are as big a factor as Paul indicates. The majority of ports called on from Galveston are in Mexico. Yes they have some eastern options, but it's still Mexico based. I've sailed on over 50 cruises from Galveston and only two did NOT make a call in Mexico (usually Coz).

The economy in Texas is much better than the economy in California. Much better chance of success with two mega ships in Galveston than in LA.
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Old July 21st, 2010, 10:26 AM
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Quote:
Question ?....do the short 3-4 day cruises on the west coast do well?
They do OK, but Royal Caribbean discontinued theirs because they weren't worth the logistical problems to them. They were also very much "party cruises" and while that is good for alcohol sales those cruises tended to have more incidents of complaints of sexual assault and fist-fights than just about any other itinerary.

Carnival still does them, but it isn't the mainstay of their business.

I think the new sweet spot is the four and five-day cruises that go to Cabo and Catalina or Ensenada. Cabo (as I have said) is a good destination, scenic good food and shopping. Ensenada is just typical Mexico.

It is true that Texas has one of the strongest economies in the nation and California has one of the worst. It is also true that economy seems to drive a LOT of cruise line decisions. Look at all the ships they are sending to Australia right now.
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Old July 21st, 2010, 02:30 PM
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I've taken the 7 day Mex Riv cruise quite a few times. The ports get boring except Cabo. The reason I book is for fun on the sea. Meet some wonderful people and become cruise buddies for future cruises.

There is a cruise which HAL offers that is very nice to Mexico, Sea of Cortez. This one does hit Cabo, PV and Maz then continues down the Mexican coast. It is wonderful and visits areas that are not offered by others. Took it once and would go back.

The item that can be interesting is a non vacation type excursion. Met up with a person in PV met here on CruiseMates and donated four suitcases of school supplies, clothing etc. Also a visit to the orphanage was an experience. Gives you a feeling how truly lucky one can be.

Mexico is corrupt and the attitude of the locals are wonderful. Yes there is crime but as in any big city always be aware. You and only you can prevent personal problems. The cruise line can not intervene.

I'll get off my high horse but don't feel Mexico is to pass up. Cultures should be cherished in any country.

Have to admit a Mex Riv cruise could change itinerary for more diverse cruising instead of the same ports. I for one would cruise more down the Mexican coast if offered. Alternating Mexico for a north Pacific coastal would be another way to offer cruising.
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Old July 21st, 2010, 08:48 PM
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I was surprised on our Mariner cruise in February at how many of the crew were complaining at the monotony of going to the same ports over and over again. We heard this from at least a dozen crew who couldn't wait till there contracts were over so they could try to move to a different ship. Also limits those lucky ones that do back to back cruises. Bet they don't have any that do that on the Mariner.
We loved the cruise and the Mariner will always be one of our favorite ships. We are booked on her last Mexico cruise and the convenience for us in the western US to be able to have a short flight (and short drive) to leave on a cruise is great. It is alot different when we leave on the East coast which usually requires an overnight stay before departure (or a red-eye flight to leave the same day). I guess it boils down to how much Mexico wanted the ship to stay there, they must not have fought hard to keep it cruising. We are looking forward to cruising the Mariner out of Galveston. Making it three ports that we will have sailed out on her.
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Old July 22nd, 2010, 05:10 PM
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A valid point Paul about Mariner not being spectacular enough to warrant being overly excited. I'm looking at Queen Victoria next year and it only goes to Ensenada - but I want to be on that ship! Ditto if one of the brand spanking new ships came west. I'd be on one of RCL's newest ones or one of the Solstice class ships in a heartbeat
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Old July 28th, 2010, 10:54 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Snoozeman View Post
Some casual observations:

Too bad LA can not support two large ships, but Los Angeles can not support an NFL team either.

I'm not sure the Mexican fears/problems are as big a factor as Paul indicates. The majority of ports called on from Galveston are in Mexico. Yes they have some eastern options, but it's still Mexico based. I've sailed on over 50 cruises from Galveston and only two did NOT make a call in Mexico (usually Coz).

The economy in Texas is much better than the economy in California. Much better chance of success with two mega ships in Galveston than in LA.
I agree! Our economy is in much better shape than California's, and I'm sure that contributes to the success in Galveston.:-)
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Old July 31st, 2010, 11:05 AM
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DW and I are on the Mariner Nov. 14th 2010. We booked this before RCI decided to move her. This saddens me greatly because we are left with no west coast option for cruising. No airfare was the big factor for us as we live 60 miles from the port of Los Angeles. RCI first took our 3 -4 day getaway in the Monarch, now the Mariner. Have done Carnival before several times and we are not that fond of it, but we'll do it with friends.
So now if we want to cruise I guess it will be out of Galviston, New Orleans or one of the Florida ports. RCI brass says that they hope to have a ship return to the west coast in the future, I hope so too.
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Old August 3rd, 2010, 03:00 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by seadog2 View Post
DW and I are on the Mariner Nov. 14th 2010. We booked this before RCI decided to move her. This saddens me greatly because we are left with no west coast option for cruising. No airfare was the big factor for us as we live 60 miles from the port of Los Angeles. RCI first took our 3 -4 day getaway in the Monarch, now the Mariner. Have done Carnival before several times and we are not that fond of it, but we'll do it with friends.
So now if we want to cruise I guess it will be out of Galviston, New Orleans or one of the Florida ports. RCI brass says that they hope to have a ship return to the west coast in the future, I hope so too.
As a fellow westerner (Utah) I hope they return to the west coast too.
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  #25 (permalink)  
Old August 6th, 2010, 04:20 PM
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If Royal Caribbean wants to make a mark in the West Coast then they should not hit the same boring tired ports that Carnival already hits. They need to get serious out here. This is possible revenue, but it's in the SEA OF CORTEZ NOT THE PACIFIC OCEAN. Yes I yelled that but only because the only cruiseline hitting the Sea of Cortez is Holland America and that is for a 12 day or longer cruise. If Royal would take one of thier ships and do a seven day cruise with all Sea of Cortez ports they will be able to compete. But to try and compete in Long Beach/Sea Pedro against a brand new ship (Carnival Spendlor) with a ship as old as the Mariner of the Seas is silly. They don't have better ports and they don't have as new a ship plus they are more expensive. I wanted to cruise Mariner but my cheapness won out. If the cruise was more expensive but went to La Paz and Cabo San Lucas my decision would have been harder and Royal might have come out on top. I'm still interested in cruise on a RCCL ship. Oddly even it may very well be the Mariner out of Galveston. We will see if it happens.
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  #26 (permalink)  
Old August 6th, 2010, 04:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul Motter View Post
Let me try another way of looking at this and see if anyone agrees...

Suppose the real reason most people go to the Caribbean is because that is where the best SHIPS are.

Okay - RCL sent us Mariner, but they didnt send us Liberty, or Allure.

I personally never go the Caribbean for the ports. I have seen every island in the Caribbean and they are all very much the same. They are more accomodating than Mazatlan (that is true) but I still do NOT fly east to cruise in the Caribbean just to visit Grand Cayman for the 25th time.

Maybe Mariner was good - but not good enough? Maybe the ship is even MORE important on the West Coast because the itinerary is more boring. Maybe Carnival needs to send us Carnival Dream instead of putting it in Galveston. Maybe RCL needs to send us Liberty or Independence instead of Mariner. Lets face it, the Voyager ships came out in 1999. Was anyone really overjoyed that she came to Los Angeles? Happy yes, but not overjoyed.

Then would West Coast cruisers cruise more?

I know I certainly would pony up the extra money to sail on Allure if I didnt have to fly to Ft Laud to get on her.
What is RCCL took a real chance and sent us the Allure of the seas? I think that ship would sell out very quickly in Los Angeles. It seems to me a lot of Californian are in to the newest things. So when you send something as old as the Mariner of the Seas we don't get that excited. If the Freedom, Liberty, Allure, or Oasis was over here I would book those lame boring ports just for the ship. Shoot gave me the Allure of the Seas dump Puerto Vallarta and Mazatlan and go straight to Cabo San Lucas spend 2 or 3 days there and come back. I'm guessing that cruise would fill up fun. My biggest problem with Carnival was the short day in Cabo San Lucas.
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  #27 (permalink)  
Old August 6th, 2010, 06:41 PM
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I would say RCL wouldn't even think of sending the Oasis or Allure to California for a very long time. They've sunk money into getting ports ready for these ships. It isn't just the ports themselves but can the ports handle those ships? Most can't.

Mexican ports only for either of these ships? That would take away a lot of cruisers who (like me) have no desire whatsoever to go to any Mexican port nevermind pay the premium the want for these two ships!!
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Old August 6th, 2010, 06:53 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by felix_the_cat View Post
I would say RCL wouldn't even think of sending the Oasis or Allure to California for a very long time. They've sunk money into getting ports ready for these ships. It isn't just the ports themselves but can the ports handle those ships? Most can't.

Mexican ports only for either of these ships? That would take away a lot of cruisers who (like me) have no desire whatsoever to go to any Mexican port nevermind pay the premium the want for these two ships!!
Good points.

I doubt they ever get a 'BIG' ship again. Specialty cruises perhaps, but no more Voyager+ or Conquest+ size ships.
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  #29 (permalink)  
Old August 26th, 2010, 06:40 PM
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We booked the Mariner for the first time. It will be the largest ship we are ever on so far.
It will be our 26th cruise. Many of all over the world.
We leave in a few weeks and having been to Mexico many times, I too wonder why again. The date and price was right to get away. We might just stay on the ship. I don't know?
Look forward to seeing the Dolphins along the way and relaxing on the Balcony.
After we booked we learn of the Mariner leaving The West.
I question...
Was the ship always full for the Mexican Ports of call?
How is this ship for a middle age couple who isn't around kids much?

Does this ship have good shows? And decent food?
We were hoping for a dine on our own time, but it looks like you have to pick a time for that.
Does this ship have the self serve cappuccino machine?
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Old November 19th, 2010, 11:37 PM
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Came by this thread by accident. I was trying to find some recent reviews of the RCCL Mariner of the Seas.

We just booked one of the last suites on the Mariner for the Dec 12th sailing, THEN decided to look up the reviews. ....Glad we did though because until I read this thread, we didn't realize she was leaving the west coast so soon. We did get our cruise at a good price even though we booked last minute...Seems this particular cruise cost go up the closer January 2011 gets.

The Mariner will be one of the largest ships we've been on, so we are really looking forward to this cruise. Hate hate hate to fly...so I think we'll be done cruising RCCL for a while.
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