Second Mate

Hometown: Boca Raton, FL
Joined: 12/05/2012
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About MikeWFaust

Globetrotter. Premium adventurer. Boca Raton based when not traveling. 32/196 countries. 320k miles in the air. 22 cruises. 19 years since my on time arrival. Senior Editor of Cruise Currents. ✈️ Turn left or turn around. ✈️



MikeWFaust's Past Cruises


February 2013 - Eurodam to Caribbean - Eastern

Mariner of the Seas

July 2012 - Mariner of the Seas to Europe - Western Mediterranean

Mariner in the Mediterranean

Onboard Activities On Mariner of the Seas, you are never going to run out things to do. Due to the ship?s size, Royal Caribbean was able to pack in many more amenities onboard Mariner than her previous sisters. On deck 3, Studio B, the ice skating rink is open for free skate multiple times during the cruise, giving you the chance to ice skate on the equator. Head on up to deck 13 and 14 and that is where you will find the sports zone. This is where you will find Royal Caribbean?s famous rock climbing wall. The rock climbing wall has many different tracks for anyone to try out, anyone can do it! The sports zone also has a NBA regulation basketball court where you can play soccer, volleyball, and obviously basketball. Also up here, Mariner Dunes, Mariner?s very own 9 hole mini golf course. Some of the holes can be bit tricky and take some thinking to figure out, especially hole number 5! Finally, why not inline skate while on a cruise? Well, right next to Mariner Dunes is one of the only inline skating tracks on the 7 seas, so strap on those skates and give this track a try! Crew The crew onboard Mariner were some of the best I have ever met! They were all so friendly, if they saw you walking down a hallway or just walking around the ship, they would make sure to say good morning and ask you how your day is going. They actually took an interest in what you did in port earlier that day or even what you had just eaten at dinner. Charles, our room steward, was definitely the best room steward we have ever had. He did a great job keeping our room clean and putting a smile on our faces with his fun towel animals. He was always out and about where we could walk up to him and strike up a conversation or even just ask for an extra towel. The crew always seemed to be in good mood even behind the scenes. While walking through the galley I noticed that the crew were always talking to each other, joking around and just having a good time. Our waiters, Lucas and Leonardo were top-notch and always made sure that we were satisfied with our meals and would even sometimes bring us extra food just to try! After sailing on 3 different cruise lines, it seems to me that the Royal Caribbean crew really seem to enjoy their jobs and definitely work the hardest for you. Dining Obviously, dining is a large, possibly the largest part of the cruise experience. Mariner of the Seas has 9 restaurants onboard including the 3 dining rooms, 2 specialty restaurants, a hot dog stand, a cafe, and 2 buffets. Add in the multiple bars onboard, room service and you have tons of dining options at your finger tips. Overall, the food was pretty good. Breakfast was the usual eggs, bacon, sausage, and fruit spread found on most cruise lines. Lunch in the Windjammer Cafe had more of a ?European? kick to it since we were sailing in the Mediterranean. Lunch featured a lot of Italian food including spaghetti, pasta, and pizza. Along with the normal buffet, Mariner has Jade which as an Asian restaurant buffet style. For dinner, Mariner has 3 dining rooms located throughout the aft section of decks 3-5. Traditional time assigned dining is served in the dining rooms Rhapsody in Blue and Top Hat & Tails. Your Time Dining is served in the Sound of Music Dining Room. Each night of the cruise came with a different theme for the food at dinner ranging from Italian to French night. The food was usually pretty good, but I feel like that Royal fell flat when it came to desserts. Overall, the food and service were usually good and unless you?re very picky about food, you shouldn't have any complaints. Entertainment Entertainment on cruises is usually a big deal, but on Mariner I didn't really get that feeling. For some reason, the production shows onboard weren't the same compared to other cruise lines. Unlike other lines who usually put on Broadway style shows, Royal Caribbean only had cabaret shows. Even though the variety wasn't great, the cabaret shows were pretty decent. There were also no comedy shows onboard which was somewhat disappointing since I do enjoy comedy shows. I think the best production that the Mariner put on for us was the parades on the Royal Promenade. The parades were a great way to entertain guests in a fun environment. You can check out what these parades are like in my video below. Anyway, overall the shows were decent, but I wished that they offered more variety in the types of shows, but I?m not a big theater person so it didn?t really bother me much. Ports On this cruise, we visited Genoa, Corsica, Barcelona, Palma, and Sardnia. We had a great time in all of these ports especially Barcelona. In Corsica, Palma, and Sardinia we did a beach day, since that is really the only thing to do on these beautiful islands. The beaches were white and soft with clear blue water rising and falling against the shore. In Barcelona we took a hop on, hop off tour bus to all of the major sites. We were able to see the 1992 Olympic Stadium, the Gothic Quarter, the Sagrada Familia, and many other major sites. We also stopped at one of Barcelona's beautiful beaches for a few hours. The tour bus was definitely the best way to get around since it took us right up to every major site and even dropped us off at the beach. Plus, another bus would show up at the stop you got off at every 15 minutes or so. Genoa, honestly there is not much to do there, so we just walked off the ship and basically walked back on. Overall, the ports were beautiful, historical, and even a little bit tropical. I will definitely want to return to most of these ports someday soon on another Mediterranean cruise. Stateroom I was in stateroom 7648 which is a superior balcony stateroom located aft, port side. I thought that the stateroom was very large, definitely one of the largest I have ever stayed in. It has the usual layout for a balcony cabin including a private bathroom with shower, a good sized seating area with couch, a large bed, flat screen tv, mini fridge, desk/counter, and a large amount of storage space. Plus, the balcony is much larger than most balconies on other cruise lines. Overall, the stateroom was very spacious, comfortable, and a nice space to wind down at the end of a long day.

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Carnival Freedom

August 2011 - Carnival Freedom to Caribbean - Western

Carnival Freedom 6 Night Western Caribbean

Day 1 Embarkation started on Sunday, August 7, 2011 at 12:00. We arrived at the port around 1 and I quickly realized that we were docked at the (old and outdated) Princess Cruises terminal. After standing outside in the 90 degree heat for about 30 minutes we finally got through security, were pulled aside so my bag could be inspected (I was bringing some grape juice on board with me,) checked in, waited in line to get our room key's pictures taken, walked up a gangway, and finally...I was on board. We soon departed and I even popped up to the top deck to give the Port Everglades Webcam a quick wave. I then started to unpack. We were in Cabin 1115 in a balcony cabin, the only way to cruise comfortably. After our anytime time dinner, and I walk around the ship, I was tired from a long day of traveling, and went off to bed, to wake up the next morning in Key West. Day 2 The Carnival Freedom docked in Key West early Monday morning, and as soon as it seems we got there, a large thunderstorm rolled in. Watching from my balcony, fellow guests started to run back to the ship. We eventually got off the ship after the rains had passed, and walked around Key West for awhile, browsing shops, looking at roosters, and soaking in the hot sun! We soon decided to return to the ship, and then went to lunch on Lido. Later that night after dinner, we went to the show, which that night was just two of the singers...singing. They were very good, but we ended up leaving half way through, because we got tired. I could have sworn that the one singer was Clay Aiken...looked exactly like him. Day 3 I awoke later on Tuesday as it was our first sea day, and there really wasn't much going on. After breakfast I decided to walk the entire ship in circles. Literally, I walked from Deck 1 to Deck 11 in complete circles in under an hour. I later figured out that I walked about 2.8 miles. We tried to do some other activities later in the day, but we didn't meet the 5 person minimum for the scavenger hunt, and we basically missed the other activity, which was a murder mystery game. So I went back to the room, and read my book for school on the balcony. You must be thinking, wow, your on a cruise, and you are just sitting on your balcony reading a book, well for some reason there were like no activities for anybody under the age of 18 that day, unless I wanted to go to a Tanzanite Seminar, which I chose not to. So off to dinner again with our amazing server, Charanet from Thailand, and then to bed. After just laying out in the sun all day, I was tired, and couldn't wait for Grand Cayman! Day 4 So we pulled into Grand Cayman very early, and of course I didn't wake up until around 9, so we had missed a chunk of time in Grand Cayman already. We soon disembarked the ship, and waited in a tender for about 10 minutes before it finally left the ship, and as soon as we got off the tender we went into the cruise terminal area. We had already decided before the cruise that Grand Cayman would be our beach day, so we then started to look for a tour that could take us to 7 Mile Beach. We eventually found one, and were hurried into a bus packed with other people. After about another 5 minutes of sitting there and some confusion between the bus driver, and the tour operator, we were off! We then later arrived at one of the public beaches along 7 Mile Beach, and journeyed down the shoreline to a more secluded area. We unpacked our things, and I was in the water within minutes. I have always loved Grand Cayman, and still do. This was my 3rd time being there, and I was so glad to be back in the warm, crystal clear water. There was even a coral reef like 10 feet from us where we could snorkel! We just decided to do a beach in Grand Cayman, because we had already done the stingrays, and besides turtles and dolphins, there isn't much else to do "water wise." Unfortunately, our time had come to leave Grand Cayman, so we jumped back on a bus, and headed back to the port. We did walk around town for a minute, and eventually wandered back into the port area. We arrived just in time, because a humongous line was starting to form, and it was all for the Freedom, just the Freedom. We quickly jumped into line, and the line started to wrap around inside itself. We waited maybe a good 30-45 minutes in the blazing hot sun before we were able to get back on a tender. The line ended up being so long that the ship left the port about 30 minutes late, because so many people chose to get back on board like 30 minutes before the ship left. That would probably be the worst thing that could happen on a cruise, get left at a port where tendering is required. At least at a port with a dock you can try to chase down the ship, but at Grand Cayman that wasn't going to happen. About 2 hours after leaving Grand Cayman, the ship suddenly made a sharp right turn for about 5 minutes. I rushed onto the balcony to see what was going on, and noticed we had completely turned around. We turned on our stateroom TV, and noticed that we were going 21knots (top speed) and were heading back towards Grand Cayman, my brother then called Guest Relations, and asked what was going on, we were told that there was a medical emergency, and we were heading back to Grand Cayman for a MedEvac. The next hour and a half went normal, and we were sitting at dinner, when the lights of Grand Cayman started to come into view. I left dinner momentarily to take some pictures, and a quick video. After we had finished dinner the ship started to pull back into the harbor of Grand Cayman. A tended boat was coming out to meet us, to evacuate the passenger who was ill. I was able to get a video of this unfolding, and even some video of the tender taking the man towards the sirens on the dock in Grand Cayman, which I will share below. The rest of the night went normal, they had a pretty good show that night, which was a show centered around jazz and swing. That was probably the worst of the 3 main shows, but it wasn't horrible. I then went to bed later that night, and would soon be waking up in the one port that I had been looking forward to the most...Ocho Rios, Jamaica! Day 5 It was around 10:00 when I woke up, and we were just pulling into Ocho Rios and about to dock. Our arrival had been delayed from 8:00 to 10:30 after we had the medical evacuation on board the night earlier, but it didn't matter because Carnival had called ahead to all of the shore excursion operators and explained the situation, and all of the tour except like 1 or 2 would still go on, and they would start as soon as the ship got there. I got up, and ran out of the room to grab some breakfast, because everybody was still either getting up, or sleeping. The lines were crazy when I got down there, so I ended up just getting some small things, but I gotta say I had probably the worst crescent roll I have ever had. We soon had all eaten breakfast, and we went down to the gangway to get off the ship. This was the day I had been looking for to all cruise. Today we had planned an excursion that would take us to climb Dunn's River Falls, and then take us to Mystic Mountain where we would Bob Sled down the mountain side! I couldn't wait! After about waiting around in the hot Jamaican sun for about 30 minutes we finally got onto a bus that would take us to Dunn's River Falls. Our bus driver was funny and I was a bit scared because he was kind of a crazy driver, but we finally got there, and that's when were descended upon by a bunch of Jamaicans trying to sell us water. If you have been to Dunn's you know exactly what I am talking about, and it gets worse later in this blog. After orientation we began to make our way to the falls. This ended up being almost an hour walk, after stopping multiple times for god knows what. We finally got to the entrance to the falls and we had to wait around for about another 30 minutes for him and the rest of our group, but we were soon on our way. We slowly climbed our way up the falls, with some cool surprises along the way, such as a natural water slide in the rocks, and even trust falls into a natural pool! We decided to take the hard way up, which was very challenging, but we made it! After we were done climbing, we started to make our way back to the bus, but because of the layout of the park, you have to go through...the market. As soon as we entered we were already being hovered around by 2 Jamaicans trying to sell us all of these things from their shops, and as we went along it started to feel like a haunted house, with people popping out at every corner telling you to buy things. We quickly made our way through and finally got to our bus, where we headed to Mystic Mountain for our Bob Sled adventure. When we got there, we headed for the chairlift that was to take us to the top of the mountain, and let me say, that was the longest, highest, scariest chairlift I have ever been on. As soon as we got to the top of the mountain, I bolted off that thing. After walking through the culture & history center, me breaking a magnet in the gift shop (oops ;),) and using the restrooms, we headed to the Bob Sleds. The thrill and speed of this ride is hard to describe so here is the video I took... youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FhE-S22Jfog We got back on the ship like 30 minutes before it left, and went to lunch. The beautiful island of Jamaica was slowly fading away in the distance, and it started to dawn on me, that this was our last port, and tomorrow is our last day. I did my best to push this out of my mind, and I forgot this for a while. There was no show that night, so we ended up just strolling around the ship that night. I went to bed later that night, thinking of the great cruise I had so far, and was still thinking of the next great day that lay ahead of me. Day 6 I made sure I was up extra early Friday morning, as it was the last day of our cruise. I was sad, but I wasn't going to think about it. I went and got breakfast, which was pretty fast considering it was around 9am and only about half the ship was up. So I came back to the cabin and just ate breakfast on the balcony. The ocean was beautiful, and it was going by so quickly. The rest of the day went by pretty slow, we looked through the gift shops for some souvenirs, and went back to the cabin. For some reason there were like no activities planned that day, it was all shopping sales, and casino games. We later ended up going to the pool and water slide, and playing around there for a while. After that I embarked on a quest around the ship to find "the lucky coin." There is a lucky coin placed somewhere on every Carnival ship right out in the open, so everyone can see it, but it is hidden, and one must find it to see it. Sadly, I never did find it. I walked the entire top 3 decks of the ship looking for it, which is where they placed them in the past. I never did find it, or even find a hint on the internet to where it might be. :( Anyway, the day was starting to come to a close, and we went to dinner. Service was very slow that night, which I didn't really care about since it gave me more time to be in the Chic Restaurant one last time. The waiters did the usual routine, singing the "You're Leaving Our Fun Ship," and then dinner continued. After dinner we went to the last show of the cruise, "Ticket to Ride." The entire show was a tribute to the Beatles, and it was by far, the best show I have ever seen on a cruise ship. You don't even have to be a Beatles fan to like this show! The graphics and mini-shows were amazing! At one point the "Beatles" were running on stage, and jumped into the screen on stage, and become animated running around London! The best part was when some of the crew started hanging out glow sticks to everyone in the theater, and people were rocking out with these! It was a bunch of swaying glow sticks at Let it Be, and people using them as instruments to Obliddi Oblida. This was by far the best way to end one of my greatest cruises I have ever had! I went to bed later that night full of memories from that night, and all of the other nights before. This was definitely one of my best cruises ever, and I know that there are more to come.

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Carnival Valor

July 2010 - Carnival Valor to Caribbean - Western

Carnival Valor

June 2009 - Carnival Valor to Caribbean - Western

Brilliance of the Seas

December 2007 - Brilliance of the Seas to Caribbean - Bahamas

Carnival Victory

June 2007 - Carnival Victory to Canada, New England, New York

Disney Wonder

January 2004 - Disney Wonder to Caribbean - Bahamas

Carnival Victory

April 2003 - Carnival Victory to Caribbean - Eastern

Disney Wonder

September 2002 - Disney Wonder to Caribbean - Bahamas

MikeWFaust's Tips

Barcelona, Spain - Possibly my favorite city I have ever visited! Beautiful beaches, architecture, and appearance in general.
Mariner of the Seas Mariner of the Seas - If the buffet gets too crowded for breakfast, ask a crew member if it is okay to grab a table in one of the speciality restaurants located just off the buffet, usually they will say yes!

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