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Seven Seas Mariner Hawaii-Tahiti Cruise, Days 1-3

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This is entry #1 of Snookums' journal of our Hawaii-Tahiti cruise, covering days 1-3.
The next journal entry is here.
The home page of the cruise journal web site is here.

April 18 (Tuesday, Day 1)

We arrived at the San Francisco airport, and while waiting for our luggage we saw a guy holding a Regent Sevens Seas sign. We asked him how much it would cost to take the “official” bus to the ship and after he radioed a couple of different people, he ended up saying that we could go for free. Transfers usually cost at least $30/person on cruises so we felt great that we were going to get to the ship at no cost, especially since the other six passengers had to give him their vouchers which meant they paid. The trip was starting out on the right foot! While waiting for the Regent bus, we got to know another passenger that was also waiting, Faith. She’s traveled everywhere multiple times and seems like a really neat older woman.

San Francisco Skyline from the Dock

We got to the ship at 1 PM and since the suites weren’t going to be ready until 2 PM, we enjoyed a nice lunch on the pool deck in the San Francisco sun. It had rained for 50+ straight days but didn’t rain on Monday or Tuesday so we got to enjoy the great sunshine and the spectacular views.

Our "Suite"
We walked into our suite (#1050 on the port side) and noticed the expensive bottle of champagne, the box of Godiva truffles and the coupon for a free photograph along with several notes/letters from various big wigs. We figured that they were going to work hard to win back our business after our bad December cruise. So far, every crew person has been extremely happy and helpful and there is a completely different atmosphere on board this ship.

At 5 PM they had a special exclusive unveiling ceremony since the Mariner was the first ship in the fleet to have the old “Radisson” repainted with “Regent”. The CEO of the company was there along with 200+ visitors (mostly press and travel agents, from what I could tell). The drinks and hors d’oeuvres were flowing and San Francisco port officials presented Regent with a couple of plaques and there were lots of short speeches. It was kind of neat seeing all the people with visitor badges since I know that it’s almost impossible to get visitors on a ship since 9/11. We sat with a younger couple, Dee and Kim from California, so we already met two friends!

We were supposed to leave San Francisco at 6 PM but an announcement was made saying that it was pushed back to 7 PM since the ship wanted to take advantage of the beautiful sunset while going under the Golden Gate Bridge. We sailed away to the accompaniment of the San Francisco fire department boat with its three water cannons spewing forth water and we also had a helicopter flying all around filming the departure of the ship with its new logo. The bottom of the swimming pool was repainted, too, while the ship was docked in San Francisco with the new “R” logo.

Fire boat and Rainbow
We went to the main dining room for dinner and sat next to a table with an elderly couple at it. Several times throughout the meal we would chat with each other, yet still had our “privacy” at our tables for two. We’ve noticed on this ship that all the passengers (and crew, too) are extremely friendly and willing to just stop and chat for 10 – 15 minutes at a time. I guess it’s the leisurely pace of being onboard with the same group of 550 passengers for 27 days that brings out the best in people. We also seem to be the youngest on board and it seems that everyone has been to the South Pacific multiple times (except us!).

Dinner was excellent and the sweet potato soup with cumin spiced bananas was outstanding. Mom needs to make it since I’m thinking it’s just pureed sweet potatoes, some chicken broth, probably a little cream and then a few spices (or maybe just cumin – the banana/plantain [hard to tell which it was] was just for decoration on the top). The couple at the next table each ordered it too, and raved about it. We ordered dessert but after 15+ minutes left without getting it. The couple next to us left before we did, without getting their dessert either, and Filbert was rather upset about it and let the head waitress know. We went back to the cabin and went to bed since we had been up since 2:15 AM Pacific time and it was now around 10 PM!

Our room stewardess is Evi and is 26 years old and is from Indonesia. Her husband is an auto mechanic and her job on this ship allows her to “support” him since buying car parts is so expensive. (They must bill for auto repairs differently in Indonesia since I know it’s common in the US for the customer to pay for the parts that are required!) She is going home at the end of this cruise and will be off for 3 months and will return to this ship if her husband is okay with that. She’s been here for seven months already and gets no days off and her hours are 6 AM – 2 PM and then 7 PM until she goes to bed around midnight or so. But, she is an incredibly cheery (and articulate) young woman.

April 19 (Wednesday, Day 2)

For breakfast we went to the buffet breakfast and the maitre ‘d (Mark) went to Filbert and addressed him by name. Well, it was Snookums’ last name, but still, it was remarkable. Filbert corrected the pronunciation as well as his last name, but we really have no idea how the guy knew us. We don’t know if it’s because we are coded as “VIPs” (and what does that really mean, anyway?) or if the dessert episode from last night is causing them to try to rectify the situation. We like being kow-towed to!! (Before leaving home, I called the cruise line to find out if we were being upgraded due to our bad December experience. The Customer Relations Manager told me that the ship was ready for us since we were VIPs.)

After we worked out we were sitting in the cabin reading and then all of a sudden Filbert noticed two pods of dolphins coming perpendicular to the ship. It was pretty neat to see two groups of 10+ dolphins frolicking in the water beneath us. They were there for about 3 or 4 minutes. Filbert ran into the room to get his camera and took a video of one of them.

April 18 (Tuesday, Day 1)

We arrived at the San Francisco airport, and while waiting for our luggage we saw a guy holding a Regent Sevens Seas sign. We asked him how much it would cost to take the “official” bus to the ship and after he radioed a couple of different people, he ended up saying that we could go for free. Transfers usually cost at least $30/person on cruises so we felt great that we were going to get to the ship at no cost, especially since the other six passengers had to give him their vouchers which meant they paid. The trip was starting out on the right foot! While waiting for the Regent bus, we got to know another passenger that was also waiting, Faith. She’s traveled everywhere multiple times and seems like a really neat older woman.

We got to the ship at 1 PM and since the suites weren’t going to be ready until 2 PM, we enjoyed a nice lunch on the pool deck in the San Francisco sun. It had rained for 50+ straight days but didn’t rain on Monday or Tuesday so we got to enjoy the great sunshine and the spectacular views.

We walked into our suite (#1050 on the port side) and noticed the expensive bottle of champagne, the box of Godiva truffles and the coupon for a free photograph along with several notes/letters from various big wigs. We figured that they were going to work hard to win back our business after our bad December cruise. So far, every crew person has been extremely happy and helpful and there is a completely different atmosphere on board this ship.

At 5 PM they had a special exclusive unveiling ceremony since the Mariner was the first ship in the fleet to have the old “Radisson” repainted with “Regent”. The CEO of the company was there along with 200+ visitors (mostly press and travel agents, from what I could tell). The drinks and hors d’oeuvres were flowing and San Francisco port officials presented Regent with a couple of plaques and there were lots of short speeches. It was kind of neat seeing all the people with visitor badges since I know that it’s almost impossible to get visitors on a ship since 9/11. We sat with a younger couple, Dee and Kim from California, so we already met two friends!

We were supposed to leave San Francisco at 6 PM but an announcement was made saying that it was pushed back to 7 PM since the ship wanted to take advantage of the beautiful sunset while going under the Golden Gate Bridge. We sailed away to the accompaniment of the San Francisco fire department boat with its three water cannons spewing forth water and we also had a helicopter flying all around filming the departure of the ship with its new logo. The bottom of the swimming pool was repainted, too, while the ship was docked in San Francisco with the new “R” logo.

Hors d’oeuvres were delivered to our room around 4:30. That is what guests in the suites with butler service get every day. We don’t have butler service, but we think this is another VIP perk. One way or another, it’s another nice bonus (and we are receiving them every day).

Tonight was formal night and we went to the Captain’s Gala party before dinner. We also got our picture taken since the ship is giving us a free 8 x 10 photo of our choice. We’ll have 3 more formal nights so we figure that we should be able to get one good picture of the two of us.

This morning we were invited to eat dinner with the Food and Beverage Manager, Ivar, at his table in Latitudes, the Indo-Chinese restaurant. A mother and daughter were with us, too. We don’t know if we were invited due to our “VIP” status from our prior bad cruise experience or if they were trying to make up for the late dessert from Tuesday night. But, it was kind of fun asking him all sorts of food and beverage questions. And, since he was from Norway, he bonded with Filbert immediately (and the daughter’s husband is Norwegian, too, although he didn’t come on the cruise, so she had stories, too).

April 20 (Thursday, Day 3)

We woke up at 8 AM and turned on the TV to the navigation channel and noticed right away that we were heading northeast. Right when Filbert was going to call the front desk to ask why, the captain came on the speaker and said that the Coast Guard ordered us back to San Francisco due to a medical emergency and we would dock there at 7 AM on Friday. We don’t know what will happen after that or how the cruise will be impacted, but what the heck, we’re having a ball! (Although I feel sorry for the sick woman and her friend since they are basically now waiting 24 hours for an ambulance.)

Dolphins Ahoy!
We’ve Turned Back!
After eating our breakfast, we ended up chatting for 2 hours with the couple at the next table (John and Morgan) and shared cruise stories and travel/hotel horror stories. She and I are alike in that we demand that the hotels fulfill their obligations and she has frequently been upgraded after filing legitimate complaints. She doesn’t let the hotel industry get away with anything (just like me!)

We went shopping in order to spend some of the $1,650 in shipboard credit that the cruise line and travel agent gave us. (It’s hard to spend when alcohol is free, no tipping is allowed and we’re not doing any of the ship’s shore excursions.) We got Filbert a mesh backed “travel vest” with lots of pockets, a sweatshirt and a zip-up jacket. Now he can be warm enough to sit on the balcony and watch the sea go by (which is what he is doing as I write this while on the sofa in front of the TV). It’s 59 outside which is too chilly for me. The boutique had nothing that fit me since all of the ladies’ fleece jackets/sweaters were too short and I didn’t even bother looking at the fleece pants since I KNOW they would have been too short. We also each signed up for Internet access ($50 for 250 minutes).

We visited the Art Director’s desk and he is going to pull some art out that he thinks we might like. He told him about our money that we had to spend and he said “Aha, that explains why our Hotel Director was suddenly transferred to the Voyager”. So, I guess the Mariner DOES have a better atmosphere and attitude and Regent is hoping to get that same feeling on Voyager and they probably figure it starts at the top (which is usually does).

We were invited to a pre-dinner party so we went (although they had just announced that all bars would be “open” tonight since the emergency turnaround was inconveniencing all of us). At the party, we talked to Lynn, Regent’s “Future Cruise Consultant” since she was the youngest person in the room. She is from Iowa and worked in Omaha for awhile before taking this job. She said it was nice to see young faces on board (I think the average age is 65). Sometime when she is on duty, I’ll ask her about next year’s 12-day Alaska cruise and 16-day Panama Canal cruise.

Filbert and I ate in LaVeranda and enjoyed a Mediterranean menu with lots of good antipasti. Then we enjoyed a free drink in the 12th floor observation bar before retiring for the evening.