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Are You a Cruiser? Mariner of the Seas Now Departing From L.A.

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"If you build it, they will come," right? Or, in the case of Royal Caribbean's fifth of five in its Voyager Class of cruise ships, Mariner of the Seas, if you make the port accommodate it, they will come. And come they did.

Mariner spent her first five years sailing out of Miami, but just arrived to the Port of Los Angeles last week to begin its new life taking up to 3,114 guests (and 1,185 crew) on 7 day cruises to three ports of call on the Mexican Riviera. Sure, there are other boats that head that way, but there has never been a cruise ship of this magnitude or class in LA before. It took a lot to get her here; it's a 46-day trip from Florida around Cape Horn (at the bottom of South America) and up to San Pedro's docks. Just getting Mariner into the dock is another feat; every Sunday when she returns from Mexico, Captain Johnny Faevelen and his crew must back this 138,279-ton, 1,020-foot-long, 157.5-foot-wide, 15-deck vessel into her spot. Yes, back her up.

Okay, now you might start raising your eyebrows and asking "What's the big deal about a cruise ship?" Because, yes, the economy is tough, and vacations are for many a thing of luxury. We wondered the same thing when Royal Caribbean invited LAist to join hundreds of travel professionals, SoCal media, and VIPs on a 2-night Preview sailing last weekend. The trip answered that key question, and also demystified the "cruising lifestyle" for this novice cruiser.