Here’s the thing about cruises: you’re never really prepared until you’ve been on one. On my first multi-day cruise aboard Royal Caribbean’s Mariner of the Seas, I was initially apprehensive about how I’d spend four days at sea. I thought I’d be looking at the same view of the endless ocean, doing what everyone else was doing, and not have a chance to explore anything new. Once on board, though, the tides turned pretty quickly.
Different Strokes for Different Folks
The Mariner is a very family-friendly cruise liner. There’s an entire DreamWorks experience on board with a welcome parade, pool parties, and photo-ops with Shrek, Marty and their ilk. It can be fun to high-five a random Penguin (of Madagascar) waddling by on deck, but if you Like to Move It Move It to a different beat, there really is something for everyone. I found a cosy library, some nifty ship-décor, and fun video games.
Songs of the Sea
Contrary to what I’d thought, there was always too much to do. Come evenings, I’d be spoilt for choice, as bands played at three or four venues, sometimes simultaneously!
On Day 1, armed with my Cruise Compass, I first headed to the intimate Schooner Bar for some fun piano music featuring evergreen hits like Lemon Tree and Hey Jude. Next, I rushed to Ellington’s for some live jazz. Over the course of cruise, I caught some extremely talented musicians at the Latin-themed Boleros, nautical-style Schooner Bar, and, my favourite, the glass-walled Ellington’s Jazz Club, high up on Deck 14.
I thought I’d have to stand in a long visa queue before I could disembark for a shore excursion in Phuket. I was pleasantly surprised when all I had to do was get on to a boat that whisked to me the island – easy breezy.
The day spent in Phuket gave us a chance to get our feet wet at Katong Beach, indulge in some Thai food and shopping at the Jungceylon mall, and visit the ornate Wat Chalong. The best part? The visas are taken care of!
Independent travel writer and journalist with work in international and Indian publications, such as CNN.com, WSJ.com, Travel + Leisure, Conde Nast Traveller, National Geographic Traveller, Scroll.in, The Hindu Business Line, Mint Lounge, Khaleej Times, The National, etc.