Having not gone for a cruise since 2011 (3 years already!), Kate and I decided to indulge in a long cruise with Royal Caribbean’s Mariner of the Seas from Singapore to Laem Chabang (Thailand) and Phu My (Ho Chi Minh Vietnam)!
We chose the 8D7N cruise from Singapore to Laem Chabang, Thailand and Phu My, Vietnam mainly because it gave us an opportunity to visit Vietnam and Thailand without having to spend on airfares. Of course, we were really impressed by Royal Caribbean’s programmes, food and service the last time we sailed aboard the Legend of the Seas to Semarang, Lombok and Bali so we decided to go again with RCC to check out the Mariner of the Seas.
Speaking of the Mariner of the Seas, it is RCC’s biggest vessel yet in Southeast Asia. Previously, the Legend of the Seas (from the Vision Class of ship) was 70,000 tonnes, 264 metres long and 32 metres wide. But with the Mariner of the Seas (from the Voyager Class of ship), the specifications “increases” to 138,000 tonnes, 310 metres long and 48 metres wide, making it a larger class of ship which equates to better facilities. In the next section, we’ll show you deck by deck what is inside the Mariner of the Seas!
Deck Layout of Mariner of the Seas Royal Caribbean Cruise
There are 15 decks onboard the Mariner of the Seas (well, 15 that are accessible to passengers) and we’ll start our coverage from deck 15! Do note that for each deck, we’ll be introducing from the aft to the forward part of the ship in the section headings in bold.
Deck 15 : Skylight Chapel
The Skylight Chapel is a venue where solemnisation of weddings can be done at deck 15 (highest deck of the ship) with a seating capacity of 40. Wonder if anyone has really done their solemnisation aboard yet?
Deck 14 : Viking Crown Lounge , Ellington’s Jazz Club, Cloud Nine, Seven Hearts, Diamond Club
As you can see from the picture, the Viking Crown Lounge offers a great view overlooking the pool deck and jogging track. Next to it is Ellington’s Jazz Club where you can chill and listen to some light soothing tunes. The Seven Hearts and Cloud Nine are essentially gaming rooms for mahjong, poker etc. Last but not least, the Diamond Club is an exclusive lounge for Crown and Anchor Society members who have attained Diamond status and above.
Deck 13 : Mini Golf, In-line Skating, Basketball Court and Rock Climbing Wall
Technically, the Rock Climbing Wall is one deck higher than the rest of the facilities shown above. But they’re all located at the aft part of the ship, so you can easily move from the mini golf to basketball and to the rock climbing wall. At the Rock Climbing Wall, Tom managed to reach the top (Yes! Because he failed miserably during the climb aboard Legend of the Seas) by following 2 simple tips from the instructor. Firstly, think of it like climbing a ladder, most of the weight will be on the legs and not on the arms. Secondly, following the pink path – yes, it’s the easiest path! Ringing the bell at the top of the wall was indeed an awesome feeling! Kate and I also played basketball almost daily. Because we were on a “retirement cruise” (most passengers were above 50 years of age), the basketball court was almost always available. There were 3 balls (1 had more air than the other 2) left on the courts all the time and you can just enter to play. Likewise for Mini Golf, the clubs and balls were left near the start of the course so you can just pick them up and play. Table tennis was also available on the same deck (3 tables in all) with plastic bats and ping pong balls readily available beside the tables. As for the in-line skating, we did not try it this time round due to the bad sea state (surprisingly bad this time as compared to our previous cruise on the smaller Legend of the Seas) but you can just get the skates from the instructors and skate away. There’s also a golf simulator (available at a cost) on the same deck beside the mini golf. If you have tried it, tell us how much it was and whether it was any good in the comments section below.
Deck 12 : Fuel Teen Disco, Adventure Ocean, Johnny Rockets, Video Arcade, the Living Room, Nursery, Jogging Track, Vitality Spa (Ship Shape) and Fitness Centre
On deck 12, the aft part of the ship belongs to young cruisers from age 0 to 17. Fuel Teen Disco and the Living Room are areas where the teens can hang out (with soft drinks ONLY) and play gaming consoles. The Adventure Ocean is also a play area designed for kids from 3 to 17 to play games and have some fun activities. For the much younger cruisers, there’s the Aquanauts and Royal Babies and Tots where parents can “deposit” their kids in the good hands of the trained professionals aboard. Like what cruise director Gordon says “When kids have fun, you have fun!”. The video arcade is one of our hang out areas , mainly because of 1 game (Guitar Hero) and 1 song (Yellow , yeah, we don’t know all the other songs in that game). This time, Tom managed to complete the “hard” level! An achievement from the usual “easy” level that we’d play. In addition, we also ventured into “Deal or No Deal” which we played quite miserably with only 30 tickets won out of 2 games (a possible of 400 tickets!)
On the forward part of the ship is the Vitality Spa also known as Ship Shape Spa. Here, you’ll be able to do your usual massages, facials, wraps and even hot stones. A salon is also available to really keep you in “ship-shape”.
Johnny Rockets is an American burger joint, famous for its awesome burgers and milk shakes. We were hosted by Royal Caribbean Cruise (thanks Michelle!) for a meal here and we totally enjoyed the food there. We’ll cover what we ate in the sections to follow.
Deck 11 : Windjammer Cafe, Jade, Chops Grille, Giovanni’s Table, Pool Deck, Pool Bar, Solarium, Fitness Center, Peek-A-Boo-Bridge overlook
Starting from the aft, you’ll have the restaurants on deck 11. Windjammer and Jade are complimentary dining areas where buffet-styled meals are served. During the evenings, Jade serves sushi which Tom looks forward to when cravings come a knocking. Giovanni’s Table ($20 USD per person) and Chops Grille ($30 USD per person) are not complimentary and you will have to pay a small sum to enjoy the italian fare at Giovanni’s and premium steaks from Chops Grille. Again, we did not have an opportunity to try them. If you happen to have tried at these restaurants, do let us know how it was in the comments section below!
The Pool Deck is where we usually hang out on sea days. The weather would be nice (ship usually steers away from dark clouds and rainy patches) and sunny, particular suited for a nice dip in the sea-water pools. You can also grab a drink from the pool bar while relaxing at the pools. Remember to sign up with the Crown and Anchor Society! **We are not paid to do this advertisement, but it is free to join the C&A Society and even at Gold (usually after 1 cruise) you’ll get some perks. This time, because we had already attained Gold status, we were able to enjoy 1 for 1 drinks – which means you really do not need any drink packages, that is unless you’re a really “fierce” drinker.
The Solarium aboard Mariner of the Seas is slightly different from the Legend of the seas. It is outdoors. There are 2 huge whirlpools and the one of the port (left) side is usually nice and warm. The starboard (right) side one is HOT.
Moving further forward on deck 11, you’ll arrive at the Peek-A-Boo Bridge Overlook where you can see the crew of Mariner of the Seas at work at the Bridge. Out at sea, it is usually on auto-pilot so you will unlikely see someone on the helms. But there will always be a lookout and an officer of the watch always keeping vigilant watch to ensure the smooth and safe sailing of the ship.
Deck 8 : RC Online
Noticed that we skipped to Deck 8 after Deck 11. This is because there are only staterooms on deck 10 and a concierge club (available only to Grand Suite cruisers and Diamond Plus/Pinnacle members). RC online (located at Mid/Aft of the ship) is actually like a business center where you can use the internet, do some printing and get some light administrative work done. Remember not to overdo it since you’re on vacation!
Deck 7 : Library
There’s a really small library located on the mid/aft part of Deck 7. Not much selection to choose from but if you have brought your own, this is a nice quiet spot to do some light (emphasis on the word “light”) reading.
Deck 6 : Next Cruise
Next Cruise is the venue where you can make bookings for your next cruise. Sometimes, depending on dates and availability, the prices may be better onboard. We did ask for a couple of prices and we realised that for departures to and from Singapore, it is usually cheaper for Singaporeans. We tried to ask for cruises from Sydney and New Zealand it was more than 250 per person per night for N staterooms (cheapest available) but for Singapore departures, it can go as low as 140 per person per night. While you’re here and if you’ve enjoyed your cruise, you may also wish to put a deposit of $150 for your next cruise which can be used for any future bookings and if you do so, you’ll receive $25 for 3-5 nights cruises, $100 for 6 to 9 nights, $150 for 10 to 14 nights and $200 for 15+ nights. DONT BE MISTAKEN that it will automatically be $200 onboard credit for your next cruise! It will be awarded according to the number of nights you book!
Deck 5 : The Sound of Music Dining Room, Guests Services, Shore Excursions, Royal Promenade, Cafe Promenade, Connoisseur Club, Lotus Lounge
Deck 5 is most probably the “most happening” deck. This is because starting from the aft, you have the Sound of Music which is your complimentary main dining area for lunch and dinners. Guest Services and Shore Excursions are also usually crowded, especially just before calling at a port. You can arrange to get your passports, do some currency exchange or even get sea sick pills at Guest Services. At Shore Excursions, you can make bookings for trips when you call at the next port. We recommend to make the bookings online so that you can avoid all the hassle of queuing up. Sometimes, the queues may be quite long especially when you first embark and when you’re close to the next port of call.
The Royal Promenade is where all the shops are at. You’ll see shops selling sunglasses, watches, jewelry and even a Coach store. Bazaars will usually take place during sea days with discounts right in the middle of the promenade. Walking past the promenade, you’ll arrive at Cafe Promenade where there’s complimentary snacks around the clock such as pastries, pizza, coffee and water. Next to it there’s a cafe where you’ll have to pay for gourmet coffee and Ben & Jerry’s ice cream.
There’s a Connoisseur Club before you arrive at the Lotus Lounge. Frankly speaking, eventhough we walked inside, we still do not know who and what it is for (anyone knows?). We just saw that there were cigars and hard liquors scattered inside but no one else was inside when we entered.
The Lotus Lounge is where events are held. Bingo and our favourite – Champagne Art Auction are held at this venue. We’ll talk a little more about the Champagne Art Auction by Art on Royal later in this post.
Deck 4 : Top Hat and Tails Dining Room, Boleros Lounge, Casino Royale, Schooner Bar, Savoy Theatre
Tip : If you have not already noticed by now, all the food places such as Windjammer and complimentary main dining areas are at the aft of the ship. The main dining areas of the Sound of Music (deck 5), Top Hat and Tails (deck 4) and Rhapsody in Blue (deck 3) are actually all part of a HUGE dining area at the aft of the ship. The other tip to orientate yourself is that the Theatre / Screens are at the forward part of the ship and the “space ship” (aka Viking Crown Lounge at Deck 14) also faces the forward part of the ship.
Deck 4 is where Casino Royale is located, right smack in the middle of the deck. Forward and Aft of the casino are bars and lounges where music and trivias are played at Boleros and Schooner respectively. There’s also a retail outlet where you can buy memorabilia from Royal Caribbean. Alternatively, you can, like us, buy “Cocktails of the Day” and receive the glass for free
At the forward part of the deck is the Savoy Theatre. This is where all the nightly shows takes place. Also, one of the more interesting aspect of the Savoy Theatre is that it can screen 3D movies with Dolby surround sounds as well! We caught part of “Turbo” here and thoroughly enjoyed the 3D experience!
Deck 3 : Rhapsody in Blue, RCTV, Art Gallery, Photo Gallery, Studio B, Dragon’s Lair, Main Entrance of Savoy Theatre
Rhapsody in Blue is the lowest level of the 3 tier main dining room of the Mariner of the Seas. At the Art and Photo Gallery, you can purchase photos and pictures taken by the professional photographers throughout the cruise. Do note that prices are usually cheaper at the start of the cruise. So decide early if you want to be featured in the “cruise in review” DVD and buy early to get a better price. As for the Art Gallery, we bought a piece of art called “Lovely”, a really cute dog, done by Romero Britto – the same dude who did colourful artworks in Sentosa.
Studio B is another venue for shows. The welcome back party (for second time and above cruisers) as well as the ice show “Ice Under the Big Top” were shown at Studio B. At deck 3, is the lower level or the main entrance to the Savoy Theatre.
Deck 2 : Conference Center, Screening Room
At deck 2, there’s only a conference room where you can hold seminars or meetings. We also collected our passports at the conference room when they missed out our request for passport collection at Guest Services (for our overnight stay at Pattaya). Screening Room is the alternative movie screening venue onboard the Mariner of the Seas.
Cruise Compass (aka Programme Sheet) for 7 days aboard Mariner of the Seas Royal Caribbean Cruise
In this section, we’ll show the 7 days of programme from the Cruise Compass and we’ll also highlight some of the more interesting things to do for each day…
On the first day, all guests had to be aboard by 4pm. The usual practice is to conduct the assembly drill at 4:30pm just before set off at 5pm. The assembly drill is required by international laws (especially after the Costa incident) for you to be familiar with where to go to during an emergency. In addition, the staff will also show you how to don a life jacket during the assembly drill.
At 5:30pm, the Dream Works characters had the “Move it move it” parade where Shrek, Po, Gloria, Alex the Lion and King Julien danced at the Royal Promenade to welcome you onto the Royal Caribbean Cruise.
We watched the Welcome Aboard Showtime for all guests at 7:15. This is usually when the cruise director will tell you how many guests and from which nationality they came from. For this cruise, we had well over 3000 guests (in addition to the 1200 crew), of which 1200 came from Singapore! Yay! Our first show was by Tamara Guo (of Chinese descent but now lives in Sydney). She was able to sing hits from Teresa Teng and even Whitney Houston (I will always love you) with such power and precision! Perfect start to an awesome cruise!
After dinner at the Sound of Music (1st seating at 5:45, 2nd seating at 8:15 – ours was 2nd seating), we headed to Studio B to try ice skating onboard a ship! How cool is that! We even wanted to go earlier because we heard from our friends that it would be crowded and you had to get a queue number for the slots you wanted to skate at. However, when we reached there, there wasn’t anyone. In fact, the instructors told us that there was only 3 people who skated in the last 2 hours! Perks of joining a cruise with a different demographic
On sea days, Kate and I would usually jog about 10 rounds on the deck (approximately 3km) and play a little bit of basketball before heading to windjammer for breakfast. Interesting events (well, for us) on day 2 included the Morning Dancercise, Formal Hair demonstration, Champagne Art Auction, photo taking with Dream Works Characters (using your own camera) and of course the nightly event – “Gallery of Dreams” by the Royal Caribbean Singers and Dancers.
As mentioned earlier, during sea days, we’d attend the Champagne Art Auction from 2 to 3pm. This is because
1. There’s free champagne! As Tom the Art Director would say, “Tastes fine when its chilled”
2. Art Appreciation. You’ll be able to learn some terms about fine art such as “editions”, “strike the plate” and also “embellish”.
3. Freebies. You’ll be given some raffle tickets to participate in a draw to stand a chance to win champagnes (which we won), posters (which we won also) and dinners at Johnny Rockets (sometimes milkshakes are even thrown in!) and Giovanni’s!
**Tip: But the key here is that you just sit in for the above. Try not to bid for anything, not even the cheap ones that the ship wants to clear. And the best way to do this? Keep your bidding card! Well, this is just our advice, if you really find something you like, by all means. BUT, there’s always a “BUT” isnt it? From the other forums we’ve read, they will always tell you how reputable they are and how good they are with their 30 day money back guarantee. But the truth is, since the auctions are done “on the high seas”, they are technically not under any state laws. So unless you are rich or want to be like one aunty we saw, bid $2750USD for a piece of art, keep your bidding cards and you’ll enjoy the champagne, learn some stuff and perhaps walk away with some freebies!
On day 3, we arrived at the port of Laem Chabang at noon and we had to option over staying overnight. So the ship stayed in Laem Chabang Thailand from 12pm on day 3 to 8:30pm on day 4. This was when we took the opportunity to stay at the Royal Cliff Hotels and was hosted to a stay at the Mini Suite Plus of the Royal Cliff Beach Hotel. On the night of day 3, we were also informed by the cruise director that traditional Thai dancers came aboard for a performance.
In the sections to follow, we’ll tell you more about the ports of Laem Chabang and Phu My so that you can get a head start in planning for your excursions at these ports!
Did not really do much aboard on Day 4 except dinner. Also, we were pretty glad that we came aboard for dinner as well, this was the first time we met Mr Ng, a semi-retiree. Our table is actually a 6 seater, which means that 3 couples would be seated together. On the first night, there was a couple from Austria. However, they were quite private people (Emerald members of more than 55 points) and when we arrived for dinner, we could sense that there was an air of awkwardness between them and the waiter. For the 2nd time we were there (4th night), we were told that no one else came, so it’ll be likely that we would be having the table to ourselves!
Random thought : On a side note, 55 points meant that you’d either stayed 55 nights with Royal Caribbean or have accumulated double points if you stayed in suites (i.e. 2 points for each night of stay in suites, 1 point for each night of stay in balcony staterooms and below). This would also mean that IF you happen to stay at the cheapest rates of about 100USD a night, you would have to pay 5500USD to reach 55 points (minimally!). Yeah, this meant that the Austrian couple is rich.
Well, back to Mr Ng. He is a very humorous man with vast experience to share. When he laughed, he sounded ALOT like Eric Tsang (曾志偉) and we really enjoyed his company. There was one important thing that he shared with us about gambling. He asked, “Do you know of anyone who gambles for a living?” which is quite true. You’ll have friends who are teachers, saleman, businesses etc. But you really do not have friends who gambles for a living right? So…the lesson here is DON’T GAMBLE! OR just treat it as a form of entertainment. From Mr Ng’s wife, she heard from some of the aunties who played that they lost thousands of dollars and there was one in particular who had to sell her HDB flat to repay the ship!
**So Tip: DON’T GAMBLE on cruise ships!
RCC is so gonna ^$$#@ us for recommending not to gamble and buy art… :p But truth be told to our loyal readers of 2bearbear.com right?
On day 5, which is yet another sea day, we took many photos with Dream Works Characters, shopped around for sunglasses at the bazaar of the Royal Promenade and sat in for a trivia, where we learnt that you’d be fined for flushing the toilet after 10pm in Switzerland. Of course, we sat in for the free champagnes at the Champagne Art Auction. Today, we chilled by the pool and utilised our Gold status of 1 for 1 beers. At night, as part of the crown and anchor society member, we were invited back for a welcome back party as well. Again, we had more booze (champagnes, whites, reds and cocktails) and enjoyed music by the Dynamic Duo. We’ll highlight some interesting facts of the Royal Caribbean Cruise Welcome Back Party below…
On Day 6, we arrived in the port of Phu My in Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam. We took the shore excursion bus arranged by the ship and the “all aboard” time was 7:30pm at night. Again, we returned for dinner and caught up with Mr Ng again.
On the last day at sea, Tom did some rock climbing and finally managed to conquer the rock climbing wall of Royal Caribbean’s Mariner of the Seas! Yeah, he failed to do it when we sailed aboard the Legend of the Seas so he was ecstatic when he finally rang the bell at the top! We then proceeded to the Arcade to play Guitar Hero to finish up the money left in our cards. This time Kate played “medium” while Tom played “hard” levels and we managed to complete the song Yellow! Yay!
For lunch, we went to the Rhapsody in Blue and had a table set for 2! It was really nice because the setting of the main dining area was grand and we got to sit in a private corner by ourselves, attended by 2 waiters! Food was good and we especially enjoyed the rum cake with coffee ice cream and the laksa. *slurp slurp*
Random thought : The other thing about sailing so many days is that you really start to miss Singapore food! When we were disembarking the ship, we overheard an aunty saying that she’ll go for fishball noodles the first thing she gets home!
As usual, we attended the Champagne Art Auction and this time, there were many art pieces that were auctioned at cheaper prices. The gallery wanted to clear some pieces to make room for other art pieces. Again, remember to heed our advice above! We then headed for our ice show “Ice Under the Big Top” at 4:30 which was quite spectacular. Though there were some slips, I would say that the skating skills of the performers were indeed quite good. At 7:30, we headed for the “Farewell Spectacular Showtime” featuring the Ballet on Shoulders and also Gordon, our cruise director who sang a couple of songs! He was actually quite good! This made us wonder if he started out as a Royal Caribbean Singer as well…hm…
To end off the evening, we soaked in the tub and watched the ending of Burlesque under the stars. Shiok!
In the next section, we’ll be showing some of the highlights of cruising with Royal Caribbean Cruise!
Highlights aboard Mariner of the Seas Royal Caribbean Cruise!
Dream Works Welcome Aboard “Move It Move It” Parade
To let our readers have a feel of how the party was like. Here’s a video of Po and the Penguins up close!
Headliner Show – Tamara Guo
Tamara is a very humorous individual and she sings as well as she entertains! Be sure to catch her performance when you sail with Royal Caribbean!
Johnny Rockets lunch aboard Mariner of the Seas Royal Caribbean Cruise
Thanks to Michelle, we were hosted to a meal at Johnny Rockets (milkshakes included!). Johnny Rockets is a American burger joint that is famous for its milkshakes and hamburgers. It is also one of the venues onboard where you’ll just pay a small sum for a great meal. At $4.95 per person, you’ll be able to order ANYTHING on the menu (drinks excluded) and milkshakes cost about $5USD each.
If there’s one burger you’ve got to have at Johnny Rockets, it’s got to be Smoke House Burger! It was juicy and tender, double patty with crispy onion rings on top! I really wanted to go for seconds because the quality of the burger is SOOO different from the ones at Windjammer! For burgers at this quality, you’d typically pay 20sgd and upwards. Onion rings were also great with the tartar sauce. Go light on the fries. We thought that all the combinations for fries above was quite normal, nothing particular good to shout about.
As for the milkshake, it lived up to its reputation. There’s only 1 word to describe it. SHIOK! Got to order yourself one! In addition to the great food, the Johnny Rocket servers even does a dance, observe how good the server closest to the camera dances!
Johnny Rockets Dance Mariner of the Seas Royal Caribbean Cruise
Photo Opportunities with Dream Work Characters
Every morning, you can have the option of have breakfast delivered to your room. All you have to do is fill up the breakfast menu (usually right behind your door) and hang it outside your door by 3am each day. If there are things that you see at the breakfast (breakfasts pretty much the same everyday) but is not on the menu, you can actually try to write something there and see if the service crew brings it. We wrote down chocolate milk and were served eventhough it was not on the menu! Talk about good service!
Crown and Anchor Society’s Welcome Back Party
It’s pretty simple to join Royal Caribbean’s Crown and Anchor Society. By sailing 3 nights, you’d be given Gold status for your next cruise, along with the perks and even be invited to the Welcome Back Party!
There’s really nothing fancy about the Gold level perks for the Crown and Anchor Society. But we particularly liked the 1 for 1 beers/wines/sodas and milkshakes at Johnny Rockets. This effectively means at 50% savings. Not bad eh?
At the bottom left of this picture, you’d see a well-dressed man in bow tie. Together with his wife, they’re Pinnacle Club members. Which means, they have already accumulated 750 points and above! According to the Captain, not all cruises have Pinnacle Club members cruising and we were very fortunate to have witnessed that these members do exist! As mentioned above, if they had gone for the cheapest rates (which we doubt), they would have at least spent 75,000 per person to reach the Pinnacle status or $150,000USD for the both of them to be Pinnacle Club members!
At the Welcome Back Party, the Captain formally welcomed the members back onboard and talked about the number of members onboard the cruise this time round. About a third were returning cruisers for this particular cruise. Over 800 Gold members and only 2 Pinnacle Club members. The C&A manager then proceeded to talk about the perks of being in C&A and of course advertising about the onboard credit if you made an open booking (for future cruises) onboard the ship – which we did!
Dinner at Main Dining Room – The Sound of Music / Top Hat and Tails / Rhapsody in Blue
Dinner aboard Royal Caribbean Cruise has always been something that we look forward to. Not only is the food excellent (well, most of the time), service is personalised and ambience is just so classy…
Most of the food were delicious but we were quite surprised that the Garlic Tiger Shrimp was not fresh during our last dinner meal. In fact it was smashy and soft. So we requested for the lamb instead. According to our waiter, the shrimps came all the way from US, which explains why it was terrible. We were actually looking forward to it because we were recommended to have more of the Tiger shrimps during dinner. Nonetheless, all other food, especially the desserts (chocolate cake and tiramisu!) tasted great and had excellent presentations – that of a fine dining experience
Champagne Art Auction
This is typically how the Art Auction onboard Royal Caribbean Cruise looks like. Do attend the sessions and if you follow our rules (of enjoying the champagne, learning about art and faithfully placing in your raffle tickets) above, you’ll definitely have a good time at the auction.
Ice Show – “Ice Under the Big Top”
Our Ocean View Stateroom aboard Mariner of the Seas Royal Caribbean Cruise
We particularly enjoyed our stay in our ocean view stateroom aboard Mariner of the Seas. The room was spacious and the window view was good enough for us to peer out for ocean views and even the sunrise as seen above. Room service was also great. It always amazes us to see how our room “transforms” after we come back from the day’s programme. Sometimes, towel art such as the monkey above is arranged specially by our stateroom attendant just before our return!
Taking the Bubble Lifts inside Mariner of the Seas Royal Caribbean Cruise
Just for fun, we’ve also taken a couple of videos from inside the bubble lifts of the Mariner of the Seas. Enjoy!
Royal Caribbean Cruise to Laem Chabang Thailand and Phu My Vietnam
In this section, we’ll talk about some of the essential information that you’ll need when visiting the ports of Laem Chabang (Thailand) and Phu My (Vietnam) via the Royal Caribbean Cruise
Laem Chabang – Gateway to Bangkok and Pattaya Thailand
This excellent shot taken by Kate shows the port of Laem Chabang as we entered C0 (thats Charlie Zero) at the terminal. As you can see, the excursion buses are already waiting to take the guests out and there are also private transportation ready to take you out as well. Small tents with stalls are also setup to sell souvenirs to you upon arrival. Now to the most important part – the transportation.
**Note : We headed to Pattaya because of the unrests in Bangkok during our cruise with Royal Caribbean
During our overnight stay at Laem Chabang, we stayed a night at the Royal Cliff Beach Hotel Pattaya. If you go through the hotel to make transport arrangement, it costs about 2000 baht (80sgd) for one way (WHAAAAAT?!). If you go through the internet, there are one way transportation from Laem Chabang port to Pattaya for 1000 baht (smaller WHAAAT?!). But if you go for the private transportation at the wharf, it costs only 600 one-way and 1200 for return. We took the complimentary transport arranged by Royal Cliff Hotels (thanks Maria!) and returned via taxi for 700 baht. Transport time takes between 30 to 45 minutes depending on traffic conditions.
So what’s there to do at Pattaya?
Things to do in Pattaya
In addition, we also did a massage for a mere price of 200 baht (8SGD) for 1 hour! Although it was cheap, the skill of the masseuse was pretty good and we thoroughly enjoyed the massage. The other thing you ought to try are the Thai food. We tried the fried rice and coconut chicken Tom Yum soup at the hotel while we had beef noodles and fried shrimp flat noodles at the food court of Central Festival. Not to be missed is the mango sticky rice! Best we’ve ever had! The mango was sweet and juicy while the sticky rice was firm, chewy and fragrant. Yum!
Phu My – Gateway to Ho Chi Minh City Vietnam
Another excellent shot taken by Kate at the port of Phu My when we arrived in Vietnam. When we tried to google to find out whether we could catch private rides out of Phu My to Ho Chi Minh City, we could not really find much information, except that the port was out of bounds to private taxis. Hence, we decided to go for the Ho Chi Minh City On Your Own – essentially a bus transportation arranged by Royal Caribbean Cruise. The ride was 40USD per person for two ways and the ride takes 1.5 hours. Originally, the ride takes 2.5 hours but because there’s a new expressway that just opened in February 2014 from Long Thanh to HCMC, the ride is faster. According to Mr Ng, he says the rides could be as fast as 45 minutes if the drivers were willing to push a little.
As for taxi rides from the port, if you notice the building at the top right hand corner of the picture, you would have to walk out of the port for transportation to Ho Chi Minh City from Phu My port. We asked around and the starting price is about 50USD one way per car. We think that you can bargain a little further. This option is suitable for parties of 4. Great for those who have also made friends onboard and are willing to travel together. Otherwise, the bus arranged by Royal Caribbean from Phu My to Ho Chi Minh is a good option in Vietnam.
When we reached Ho Chi Minh City, it was about 9:30am and we had to be back at the drop off point (Rex Hotel) by 4:20pm. It was sufficient time for us but if you’re travelling on your own, don’t forget to check the “All aboard” timing. This time it was 7:30pm. We arrived back at the ship at 6pm sharp.
So what’s there to do in Ho Chi Minh City?
Things to do in Ho Chi Minh City Vietnam
To thoroughly enjoy Ho Chi Minh City, just follow this small little map that we used. Attractions are circled and they are all within walking distance although taxi in Ho Chi Minh is quite cheap. Remember to use metered taxis of Vinasun or Mai Linh while travelling in Ho Chi Minh City Vietnam.
In Ho Chi Minh, we recommend shopping at the Saigon Square. Here you can get good quality bags and jackets at a fraction of the prices back home. But do remember to bargain. If you’re unsure of the prices, you can check out the items at a few other stalls before deciding. This is because, we have ever encountered one of the stalls quoting double the prices of other stalls and if you buy from a stall like this without bargaining or checking, you’ll be buying at a much higher price.
Getting to and fro Marina Bay Cruise Centre to board Royal Caribbean’s Mariner of the Seas
Embarking the Mariner of the Seas Royal Caribbean Cruise
We took a cab and if you’re coming from AYE (West) via MCE, take exit 2 at Central Boulevard. If you’re coming from ECP (East) via MCE, take exit 3 at Marina Coastal Drive. Do note that you are going to the Marina Bay Cruise Centre. As it was our first time there, we almost alighted at the ferry terminal instead. Look out for the HUGE Mariner of the Seas, you wont miss it!
As we were Crown and Anchor members, we skipped some of the queue and got our sea pass card rather quickly. The entire immigration took about 30 minutes.
Random thought : The Sea Pass Card is the most important card you’ll need on the cruise. It pays for everything onboard and is also your form of identification to disembark and embark the ship.
Disembarking the Mariner of the Seas Royal Caribbean Cruise
Disembarking took a rather long time. We took approximately 1.5 hours in total to leave the ship, clear customs and get to our taxi. One tip would be to leave slightly later (10am would be perfect) and once everyone clears from the ship, you’ll be able to clear customs and get your cab rather quickly as well
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Phew…we actually took more than 10 hours to complete this post! (see how much we love you all? ) We hope that you have enjoyed reading this post as much as we have writing it and hopefully, it will be the comprehensive guide to your next Royal Caribbean Cruise aboard the Mariner of the Seas!