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My Cruise on Royal Caribbean’s Mariner of The Seas

Posted by thetraveldoctor on August 11, 2009


Alan & Lil on The Tender with the Mariner in the background

Alan & Lil on The Tender with the Mariner in the background

This is my second time on The Mariner of The Seas and my 87th cruise over all. With all these cruises under my belt, I feel that I have a good Idea of what makes a great cruise vacation.

My wife and I departed on July 12, 2009 from the Port of Los Angeles on Royal Caribbean’s  Mariner of The Seas. We were very excited to be on the Mariner again and were looking forward to a great vacation at sea. We sailed away from the dock at 5:45 PM and headed south from LA to Mexico in the crystal blue Pacific Ocean.

We Unpacked and settled into our stateroom.  We headed to the dinning room at 555PM, as we had first seating dinning. Royal Caribbean has instituted a “As You Like it Dinning” as an option for people that don’t like  early or late set dinning times. This option gives you the choice to come to the main dinning room at anytime between 6PM and 8:30PM and you are seated as if you were at a restaurant. I personally like the fixed seating at the same table, waiters and people at my table all week. We were seated at a table for 6 with two other couples. One couple was from the Chicago area and was also in the cabin next to us we discovered. The other couple was from Big Bear California. Really very nice people and we had a great conversation at dinner. But that’s what dinner on a cruise ship is really all about. Meeting new people, great food and great conversation. The food was excellent, which was nice to see that Royal Caribbean had not cutback on the quality of the food during these trying economic times.

After dinner it was off to the Savoy Theater for the welcome aboard show. We met our Cruise

The Parade on the Mariner of The Seas

The Parade on the Mariner of The Seas

Director Abe who gave us a rundown of what to expect during the upcoming week. Then we were entertained by a juggler and a comic, who were both very good. The evening ended with a great “Welcome Parade” on the Royal Promenade. So for the first day, things looked pretty good.

Since we had travelled with Royal Caribbean on more than 24 cruises, we are considered Diamond Plus members in their Loyalty program, which is the top tier of the program. Along with being in the top tier brings some perks, such as a special on board coupon book. Now it’s been 18 months since our last Royal Caribbean cruise and we were expecting the same perks in the coupon book we received in February of 2008. Well they have decided to change the coupon book and take away a lot of the “Perks” that they gave to their best customers. This did not make much sense to me. Why would you take away perks to your best customers. Things such as a free 8” X 10” photo is now gone and replaced by a 20% off coupon on a special type of 8” x 10” photo. Gone also is a free 30 minutes of internet usage, replaced by a $10 off coupon for internet usage. At a ridiculous $0.55 per minute (OUCH!) you will use that $10 credit up real quick, as the internet connection on this ship is so slow, you could finish the novel War and Peace before you could send your email.

Gone is the “Ship Shape” program. This program got people involved in the fitness activities aboard the ship. You would earn Ship Shape dollars for participating in the activities and you would then be able to redeem them for “Ship Shape” gifts at the end of the cruise. A really great program that I really was sorry to see it eliminated as I was on the ship that they started the ship shape program back in the 1980’s. I guess the one thing that Royal Caribbean eliminated that I was really sad to see go was the Mint and Saying on the Pillow at night. Did I eat the mint every night, no, but It was like a warm fuzzy that I had come to expect on Royal Caribbean ever since we sailed on our first cruise on the Song of Norway in 1978.

To be continued……..

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American Airlines to buy up to 100 Boeing 787’s

Posted by thetraveldoctor on October 28, 2008


 

787 Dreamliner

787 Dreamliner

American Airlines announced this past week that they plan on purchasing up to 100 Boeing 787 Dreamliners at a cost of $15 billion dollars. This purchase could make American the largest operator of the new Boeing aircraft.

 

“This state-of-the-art aircraft will offer many cost and environmental benefits, particularly fuel efficiency and customer friendly attributes and comforts” said Thomas Horton, executive vice president and CFO during the airlines October 15 conference call with financial analysts.

American plans to buy 42 of the 787 Dreamliners for delivery between 2012 and 2018, with an option for 58 more for delivery between 2015 and 2020.

The first 787 flight was scheduled for August of 2007, with deliveries to begin in May of 2008. But due to delays and a strike at Boeing, the first flight is now planned for the fourth quarter of 2008 and initial deliveries slated for the third quarter of 2009.

The new 787-9 is designed to carry up to 290 passengers, with at range of up to 8,500 nautical mailes. The 787-9 is a stretch version of the 787-8 and will use 20% less fuel then current aircraft flying today.

These are some of the airlines that have ordered the 787 Dreamliner. 

  1. Qantas – 65 planes
  2. All Nippon Airways – 50 planes
  3. Air Canada – 37 planes
  4. Japan Airlines – 35 planes
  5. Etihad Airways – 35 planes
  6. LAN Airlines – 26 planes
  7. Continental – 25 planes
  8. Aeroflot – 22 planes

Posted in airlines, airplane, airports, bags, Business Class, caribbean, Coach, disabilities, economy, first class, gas, investments, luggage, Mexico, news, seniors, tickets, tours, Transportation, Travel, travel agents, Uncategorized, Vacations | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

JetBlue to Increase Service to the Caribbean

Posted by thetraveldoctor on October 26, 2008


 

JetBlue at the Gate

JetBlue at the Gate

JetBlue announced that it will add service to Nassau Bahamas from Orlando and Fort Lauderdale on February 1, 2009. And St. Maarten will be getting a new Saturday flight from Boston beginning February 14. All service is subject to government approval. So getting to the Caribbean just got a little easer. Check http://www.jetblue.com for reservations and fares.

Posted in airlines, airplane, airports, bags, Business Class, cancun, caribbean, Coach, economy, first class, gas, Las Vegas, luggage, pillows, tickets, tours, Transportation, Travel, travel agents, Vacations | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Royal Caribbean Brilliance of The Seas – A day at The Panama Canal

Posted by thetraveldoctor on October 8, 2008


 

One of the Mules that Pulls the ship through the Locks

One of the Mules that Pulls the ship through the Locks

Alan at the Midpoint at the Gatun Locks

Alan at the Midpoint at the Gatun Locks

The Brilliance of The Seas exiting the Gatun Locks

The Brilliance of The Seas exiting the Gatun Locks

The Brilliance of The Seas at anchor in Lake Gatun

The Brilliance of The Seas at anchor in Lake Gatun

Approach to the Gatun Locks

Approach to the Gatun Locks

 This past January my wife and I took a fascinating cruise thru the Panama Canal on Royal Caribbean’s Brilliance of The Seas. This is a wonderful ship and a great cruise for anyone that loves cruising. The day we began to  transit the canal started early in the morning just before sunrise. Our pilot arrived at our ship as the sun broke the horizon. We then picked up our two tug boats that would help our ship into the locks.  The total transit took about 3 hours. The pictures below are my “Photo Blog” of our experience through the Gatun Locks on the Caribbean side of the canal.

If you have never been on a Panama Canal cruise then you have never experienced the excitement that you feel as you approach and then transit the canal. It does get hot during the day, so take a lot of sunscreen along so you don’t get burned.

If you have never been on a Panama Canal cruise then you have never experienced the excitement that you feel as you approach and then transit the canal. It does get hot during the day, so take a lot of sunscreen along so you don’t get burned.If you have never been on a Panama Canal cruise then you have never experienced the excitement that you feel as you approach and then transit the canal. It does get hot during the day, so take a lot of sunscreen along so you don’t get burned.

Posted in Brilliance of The Seas, cancun, caribbean, cruise line, cruises, disabilities, Europe, gas, islands, luggage, Mexico, news, Panama Canal, pillows, royal caribbean, sailing, seniors, ships, tickets, tours, Transportation, Travel, travel agents, Uncategorized, Vacations | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Travel Agents, Worth their weight in GOLD!

Posted by thetraveldoctor on October 6, 2008


 

Alan On Tour In The Pacific Northwest.

Alan On Tour In The Pacific Northwest.

Have you tried to make any travel plans lately? If you have, you probably have searched and searched the web till your head was spinning. What you need to do is find a good professional consultant. A good travel consultant can find you deals that are not available on the web and can save you hundreds of dollars on cruises and tours. They can also give you great advice for your trip, such as little known places to visit at your destination. 

There has been lots of talk as of late that Travel Agents are a dying breed. Not so, they are not only alive and kicking, but more and more travelers are turing to them for help in booking their vacation travel. So a tip to the savvy traveler or the novice traveler, use a travel agent and save lots of time and money!

Posted in airlines, airports, auto, bags, Business Class, cancun, caribbean, Coach, cruise line, cruises, economy, Europe, first class, gas, Hotels, investments, islands, Las Vegas, luggage, Med, Mexico, news, pillows, sailing, seniors, ships, tickets, tours, Transportation, Travel, travel agents, Uncategorized, Vacations | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Southwest to Launch Minneapolis flights from Chicago

Posted by thetraveldoctor on October 4, 2008


 

Southwest Airlines in flight

Southwest Airlines in flight

Southwest Airlines announced on Wednesday that it will launch new service between Chicago Midway and Minneapolis St. Paul beginning in March. Southwest is moving into the Minneapolis St. Paul market right at the time that Northwest and Delta are expected to merge. This merger is expected to reduce service for Northwest at Minneapolis.  

Southwest is a great carrier and then know what they are doing. They would not launch service into a new market if they didn’t think they could make a profit. The Minneapolis market needs a good low cost carrier as fares to that city have been very high and with the entry of Southwest, it will bring fares down in the market.

Southwest plans to release more details about the Minneapolis service in the coming months.

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United TED, A Good Idea Gone Bad

Posted by thetraveldoctor on September 28, 2008


 

The end of A Good Idea - TED by United

The end of A Good Idea - TED by United

TED, was a great idea. Create an airline built on the Southwest model. One type of aircraft, one class of service. All crews can fly any flights as there is only one type of aircraft to be checked out on. Great Idea right! Wrong! United decided not to differentiate Ted and United and the public was confused. The passengers wanted to know what the difference was between the two airlines? Why should they fly TED? Unlike the Cruise industry, United did not keep the two brands separated, so there was no reason to fly TED instead of United. If United did their homework they would have made TED a separate airline and market it that way. But they didn’t and they drove it into the ground. I liked TED. It was a great idea, with friendly crews, clean late model planes and great fares. But just like the rest of the Higher UP’s in the executive offices at United, they just don’t understand how to run an airline let alone two airlines. I really hope that someday, someone with some business and customer service sense becomes the president of United. Until then, I guess we will just watch this once great airline implode piece by piece.

Posted in airlines, airplane, airports, Business Class, Coach, first class, gas, investments, Las Vegas, luggage, news, pillows, seniors, ships, tickets, tours, Transportation, Travel, travel agents, Uncategorized, Vacations, Wifi | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Southwest New Boarding System Works Well

Posted by thetraveldoctor on September 26, 2008


 

Southwest gate at Louisville Airport

Southwest gate at Louisville Airport

I just returned from a business trip to Louisville Ky on Southwest. I have to say that Southwest has their act together. I love the new boarding process they have instituted. When you check in at home on the web, or at the airport you receive a boarding pass with a letter and a number. The letter is the boarding group and the number is the boarding position within that group. So if you are in group A and position 15, you will board with the first group and you will be the 15th person on the plane. It worked so well and everyone was happy. We boarded quickly and we were closed up and out of the gate and in the air in no time. The plane was full and we were on time!

 

Southwest also does not charge you to check your first or second bag. They do not have any hidden fees. What you see is what you get. I love that. Clean, efficient transportation. I wish the other airlines got it. They should all take a lesson from Southwest. Thank you Herb! You know how to run a great airline!

Posted in airlines, airports, bags, Coach, Computers, disabilities, free, gas, investments, Las Vegas, luggage, news, pillows, seniors, tickets, tours, Transportation, Travel, travel agents, Vacations, Wifi | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Orient Lines Returns with the Marco Polo II

Posted by thetraveldoctor on August 21, 2008


 

 

Marco Polo II at anchor

Marco Polo II at anchor

 

Orient Lines, which was purchased by NCL a number of years ago and basically dismantled, is rising from the ashes today. Wayne Heller, CEO and owner of the “New Orient Line” announced today that Orient Line has acquired the SS Maxim Gorkly and will rename it the Marco Polo II. The 24,981 ton vessel is a classic ship in the tradition of Orient Line’s original Marco Polo, which was much loved by Orient Lines’ guests, said Wayne Heller. The ship will hold just over 600 passengers.

The new Marco Polo II will make her maiden voyage in April 2009 and sail from Barcelona on a Western Med itinerary.  You will be able to book your cruise on the Marco Polo II beginning on September 8, 2008. The cruise schedule is very destination focused with cruises ranging from 11 to 37 days. Prices will start at $2399 per person based on two to a cabin. The line will include several free shore excursions with each cruise. There will be a single seating in the dining room, which is a plus for all passengers as you won’t have to decide what seating to choose.

I am really looking forward to the launch of the new Orient Lines’ Marco Polo II. I hope it will continue the Orient Lines tradition of exceptional service.

Posted in airlines, bags, Business Class, caribbean, Coach, cruise line, cruises, disabilities, Europe, gas, Hotels, islands, luggage, Med, news, pillows, sailing, seniors, ships, tickets, tours, Transportation, Travel, travel agents, Uncategorized, Vacations | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

The Real S.S. Minnow Sailing Again on 3 Hour Tours

Posted by thetraveldoctor on August 14, 2008


 

The Original S.S. Minnow

The Original S.S. Minnow

The Real S.S. Minnow will start sailing from Vancouver on 3 hours cruise tours. That’s right, the Original S.S. Minnow that was used during the opening scene of Gilligan’s Island TV show’s second season will be sailing again.

 

The boat made famous for running aground on the shores of an uncharted desert isle in the 1960’s sitcom is now owned by Ken Schley, one of the owners of the Quality Foods grocery chain. Stay tuned and I will keep you advised when you can book a tour on the S.S. Minnow.

Posted in airlines, caribbean, cruises, gas, investments, islands, news, sailing, seniors, tours, Transportation, Travel, travel agents, Vacations | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »