South by Southeast late 2018 - early 2019 travel blog






on the mini golf course









our old ship


sailing by

Because about 100 of us were transferring from the Symphony of the Seas to the Mariner of the Seas, Royal Caribbean kindly organized a shuttle bus for us to make the trip with our luggage about a mile from one terminal to another at the port of Miami. We waited together in the appointed place, got off together and found our luggage in the appointed place and got outside where there was no appointed place at all. We were intermingled with our fellow passengers who were boarding buses to the airport, to go on tours, to go rent cars, to get a taxi to their hotels. When we asked where we should go, we got a different answer from everyone we queried. One hundred of us lumbered up and down the terminal with our luggage, growing more and more frustrated. Finally we found the designated bus, which held about half of us. We have no idea what happened to everyone else. At the Mariner terminal check-in took much, much longer than it did when 5,000+ of us got on the Symphony. Our boarding passes (as well as those of other transferred like us) did not scan properly and the frustration grew again. The Mariner wisely planned a special lunch for us in the dining room with unlimited wine, which helped make everyone happy once again.

The Mariner is strangely familiar. It is the same size (half the size of the Symphony) and layout as the Explorer of the Seas, which we took from Sydney to Seattle last spring. It just returned to service from a major overhaul, where many of the features we enjoyed on the Symphony have been added just in a much smaller configuration. But this is only a three day cruise and there is no way our new fellow passengers can enjoy it all. Their median age is about 25 years lower than the Symphony. We see many more Hispanics and African Americans. Our next door neighbor is celebrating her quinciƱera. There are many huge family groups here. We can tell, because they all are wearing identical t-shirts. There is a huge group of about 200 wearing blue t-shirts inviting you to ask why they got a free cruise. We made the mistake of sitting next to one, who meandered on and on about the business where she makes so much money she can't spend it all. We have no idea what her business did or what it makes. All she talked about is signing up other people. Ponzi scheme big time! It offends me to see all these folks here living on the proceeds they made bilking others.

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