Mariner of the Seas: Floating opulence

Floating opulence Staff Reporter / 23 May 2013 An ice skating rink, a rock climbing wall, a nine-hole mini golf course, a chapel on the highest deck complete with stained glass skylight… The list goes on. The luxury liner Mariner of the Seas was fleetingly docked at Dubai’s Port Rashid, and would have set sail for Goa, India, by the time you read this, taking with it its 15 decks, a giant outdoor movie screen (3-D enabled), three swimming pools, six whirlpools, 17 bars, clubs and lounges, and — perhaps most importantly — 3,000 guests, serviced by 1,200 crew members. Royal Caribbean International Middle East executive director Lakshmi Durai said of the liner: “She is one of the biggest cruise ships to arrive in Dubai yet from our fleet and belongs to the voyager class of ships.” Having arrived on Tuesday, the Mariner of the Seas called on Dubai (from Texas, turned around at Barcelona) and is en route to Singapore and Shanghai via port calls at Goa, Cochin, Penang and Kuala Lumpur. She will reach her port of destination, Shanghai, on June 18, said Captain Flemming Birger Nielsen. Welcoming the cruise liner, Dr Ahmad Belhoul, CEO of Strategy and Tourism Sector Development, Dubai Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM), said: “In 2012, we received 105 ship calls carrying almost 408,000 visitors, and we expect this number to increase to more than 420,000 from 110 ship calls this year. This will continue to increase in 2014 and 2015 with an annual growth rate that is in line with the projected global cruise tourist growth of 3 per cent and we are looking forward to receiving over 450,000 passengers in 2015.” He said also that 5 per cent of all tourists in Dubai were cruise tourists and this number was expected to rise in the coming years. The liner herself is like a mini housing complex, replete with spas and casinos and video game parlours, day care nurseries fitted with games, and other plentiful distractions for the young ones. Speaking to Khaleej Times, one of the passengers, sun-shade wearing Melinda Roney, from Longbeach, California — who was travelling from Barcelona to Shanghai with her husband of 15 years Walter Wojak — said she could not believe she was so far from home. But, while waiting in the lounge for her husband to emerge from their cabin, she said they were “having a great time”, had met many interesting people, and were surprised by the number of childless couples on board. Roney said while everything was just as she expected, she wished the Internet would work better, and lamented the exorbitant call rates. She has three children, and a passel of grandkids back home and she wished it were cheaper to talk to them on the phone. And yet, it’s the price they must pay for the travel husband and wife get to do, as they looked forward to the rest of the trip, “especially Shanghai”. Taylor Scott International

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