Looking for a less expensive December cruise? Try an older ship!

When it came time to look for a winter holiday cruise in 2022, my family and I were astounded at the prices. Before the pandemic, we cruised every winter holiday and weren’t forced to eat ramen the rest of the year. The pandemic changed a lot about cruising — especially the pricing.

So we made two choices that drastically changed our costs.

First, we chose an older ship that had recently been redone — The Mariner of the Seas.

Second, we took a five-day cruise.

This was our second December in a row doing a five-day cruise. I thought I’d be disappointed, but actually I wasn’t exhausted at the end of our trip and we all had an amazing time.

The Mariner of the Seas has so much to do and great entertainment. Laser tag was big with my teens and I loved the ice show. They are so talented. In addition, there was amazing music and singers all around the ship.

And can we talk about The Bamboo room? OMG, favorite bar to date on a ship. My drink looked like it came in a Caprisun, but it was amazing!!!

Check out my photos from the trip. If you have any questions, I’m here to help. Send me an email at Samantha.kappalman@gmail.com

Symphony of the Seas: Pros & Cons

This summer, my family and I enjoyed a 7-day Mediterranean itinerary on the Symphony of the Seas. We had an incredible time. We do feel, however, that you don’t have enough time during a one-week cruise to fully explore the ship. We took the La Spiza day as a Sea Day and enjoyed the surfing and other activities the ship has to offer without the lines.

We had previously been on the Oasis of the Seas — and we can say we love the Oasis Class Ships in general. The obvious benefits for kids of SotS over OotS and AotS are the slides.

Our connecting balcony rooms were beautifully appointed and we picked a wonderful location between mid and aft.


Staff was excellent. Ship was beautiful and kept clean and constantly being worked on. Deck 8 was an excellent location. Right near Central Park and just aft. Semuel at the Central Park bar was fantastic. MDR varied. Two nights we had Sandra and she was excellent. Our last night on the ship they put us with a different server and he was not good at all.

Hairspray and Hiro were fantastic. Flight the talent was excellent, but the premise was weird. We loved the trivia on board and the piano players. The band that played for the balloon drop and a few other nights were also really good.

Playmakers was awesome. We watched the world cup every evening there and it’s a great atmosphere.

Water slides were awesome. Ultimate Abyss was ok. My kids were expecting a bit more excitement. I liked it.

Flow Rider, as always, is awesome.

Never felt like there were 6,000 people on the ship (except after Muster as always)


Food in Wonderland while executed beautifully was just ok. Mad Hatter was the highlight. Smoke from Casino was not contained and could smell and breathe it while waiting in line for MDR on deck 4. Also could smell it on my balcony on deck 8.

As mentioned above, service wasn’t consistent in the MDR.

Got the six hour extended time excursion for Cassis and ended up being able to spend less than 2 hours in Cassis due to choices that the tour guide made (without consulting those on the excursion). I mentioned it to her and on the ship, but I think there should be a deeper dive into what went wrong there.

Overall, a wonderful family vacation. Not sure there is a huge difference between Harmony and Symphony — I toured Harmony, but have never sailed on her personally. Playmakers is a wonderful addition on Symphony, but if I was looking at both ships with a similar itinerary and HotS is less expensive — I’d sail her and not feel like I’m missing anything.

Ask me if you have any questions I can answer!