Wrapping it up…Tom’s packing…

The final “towel, pet” in our cabin aboard Royal Caribbean’s Mariner of the Seas.  Tomorrow morning we disembark.
The Gulf of Aden behind us as we head full speed toDubai, we are grateful for the incident free transit through these dangerous waters. 

Impressed with the manner in which the security of the ship and the safety of its passengers was handled, overall, we’ve been pleased with Royal Caribbean.

Without a doubt, we’d consider cruising with them in the future. Our favorite remains Celebrity which many passengers have also freely expressed in our endless discussions about the quality of various cruise lines. 

On CruiseCritic, there were a number of comments that this ship, Mariner of the Seas, is old and worn. We saw little evidence of that other than peeling paint on a metal brace on our balcony and a few signs of wear and tear in the Windjammer Cafe. Nothing major.

The service in the Windjammer Cafe each morning was exemplary, the dining room at night, a mish mash, sometimes great, sometimes not, depending upon the annoyance by the waiter of my “special order.” 

It appeared they were all overworked and overwhelmed by the number of guests that they had to serve each night, rushing our food to the table, attempting to clear our plates too soon and failing to take our drink orders.

I’d order two glasses of iced tea each night, knowing it would be impossible to get refills during dinner. Going to dinner at 7:00 pm most nights, we seldom stopped at the bar before dinner.

Tom hoped to order a cocktail during dinner. All in all, he was able to order a drink only 4 of the past 14 nights, unable to get a bar server to the table which is an offered service. 

Our cabin steward, Jing, was always friendly, warm and quick to respond to our requests, however few we had: ice twice a day, extra hangers when we moved in, handling our two bags of laundry.  Twice each day our cabin was cleaned and restocked with fresh towels.

Oddly, the only toiletries supplied by RC were the small bar soaps and body wash in a dispenser in the shower. Carnival had toothpaste, shavers, nail and sewing kits. Norwegian had few amenities, other than body wash in the shower plus we had to ask for bar soap. Celebrity supplied shampoo, conditioner, body lotion, plus all of the above. It speaks for itself.

None the less, sickness, service and food inconsistencies aside, we had a great time on this cruise, meeting many interesting travelers from all over the world, picking up some valuable tips and now, as we become more travel savvy (with much more to learn!), offering a few tips of our own. 

Tom is totally free of the illness. I’m still lingering, coughing, sore throat, hopefully turning the corner soon. Tom is currently packing with no help from me as I sit here hacking away.

Everyone at our table of six at dinner last night had been sick during this cruise with either Norovirus or this same respiratory illness.  I warned everyone that I was still ill. After five days, I doubt I am still contagious. No one at the table seemed concerned, they’d catch anything. After all, maybe as many as 40% of the passengers had some type of bug while on this cruise.

There’s nothing particular about cruising in itself that brings on illness. It’s the simple fact of lots of people in the same confined space, day after day, breathing the same recycled air conditioned air, touching handrails, elevator buttons, salt and pepper shakers, serving pieces, arm rests on seats in the theatre and on and on that creates a fertile breeding ground for contagions.

During each of our periods of illness, we’ve made every effort to be mindful of others, touching no common areas and washing our hands with soap and hot water many times each day. But as we ate our breakfast, the servers cleared our plates and with their bare hands clearing off our flatware and plates. Minutes later they were handing a guest a cup of coffee. No matter how hard one tries,there is no way to avoid transmitting illnesses.

The most annoying aspect of other sick passengers has been those coughing and sneezing into the air sending their toxins to everyone nearby. Certainly, carrying tissue, readily available in the cabin, is an easy alternative in addition to immediately washing one’s hands when coughing and sneezing into them or tissues.

Whatever precautions we may have implemented;  taking probiotics, vitamin C, staying healthy and active, and eating well, doesn’t seem to offer much insurance against our vulnerability. It’s the nature of the beast, much like being on an airplane, only to end up with a cold a day or two later.

Most likely in two days, I’ll feel well again, following the same course as Tom. In the interim, I’ve had little interest in taking photos, spending most of the past few days resting in our cabin, only leaving for breakfast to sit in our favorite comfy booth to eat and write our ongoing story and, for the few hours for dinner in the main dining room in the evenings.

Tonight, our bags will be placed outside our door for pickup between 7:00 and 11:00 pm. Breakfast will be served from 6:00 am to 9:00 am. Disembarking, a laborious process, will begin around 7:00 am. Again, we hope to be the last to disembark, resulting in less waiting time in Dubai to get into our condo at 2:00 pm.

Most likely, we won’t be writing tomorrow as we get situated in Dubai. But we’ll be back on
Wednesday with photos of our “home” for the next 13 nights, our trip to the market, views of the city and whatever other morsels we discover in our first 24 hours in the amazing city of Dubai.
Stay tuned, folks. 

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