Sea ViewsFrom President and COO, Adam Goldstein

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The Passion of Cruising: A Special Guest Blog by Royal’s Leading Cruiser, Mario Salcedo

Introduction by Lillian Murphy, Vice President of One-to-One Marketing

What if cruising was more than your favorite vacation – what if it was your way of life? For our top cruiser, Mario Salcedo, Royal Caribbean’s ships are home and the crew is family. Mario is our most frequent guest, with over 2,800 Crown & Anchor Society cruise points earned, and 120 more voyages booked through 2012. Here’s his story.

It was a simple question – “Can you remember your first cruise”? , a guest once asked me. “Of course I can, it was the best cruise of my life,” I replied … at that moment in time, that is.

Upon completing my first cruise back in the mid 90’s I knew there were more to come but I could never imagine cruising would become a way of life for me in the future.

Hi, I’m Mario Salcedo, an addicted “frequent floater” and true loyal to Royal.  I’ve been called many things – a cruise rat, a cruise hound, a cruise freak, the George Clooney of cruising, among others.  My friends onboard just call me “Super Mario.”  But it wasn’t always that way.

I’ve lived in Miami, Florida since childhood.  My parents were forced to leave Cuba in the early 60’s seeking freedom from a brutal dictatorship and a chance at a second life.  Soon after, we became proud naturalized citizens of the US.  I love the United States and especially Miami, where I initially developed a passion for the ocean.

As a student I earned undergraduate and graduate degrees in finance and economics at top notch universities and entered the corporate world to pursue a career in international financial management in Latin America and the Caribbean region.  My job required extensive travel to many of the Caribbean islands.  It was during these visits that I encountered up close these magnificent cruise ships. I decided that cruising in the Caribbean was something I eventually had to do.

When the opportunity came, I took my first cruise (not on Royal Caribbean!).  My life was changed instantaneously.  I came to the conclusion that cruising was not only the perfect vacation but the perfect lifestyle.

Mario Riding the FlowRider with the Crew

But how to make it happen when one is immersed in the 9 to 5 work routine?  I had to disrupt and redesign my life.  On my 48th birthday, I decided to leave the corporate world, start a small and simple to manage financial venture which would provide cash flow, and booked 6 back-to-back cruises.  I sampled every major cruise, every type of ship, many itineraries, with absolutely no loyalty towards any particular cruise line.

At the turn of the new millennium my emerging cruising career was about to be redefined.  The Voyager of the Seas just came out and I sailed her.  She was the grandest and most innovative ship afloat at the time.  She left me breathless!  I had found the perfect ship and the perfect cruise line!

Then, the Explorer, the Adventure and the Navigator were sequentially introduced.  I became emotionally attached to Navigator and sailed her every other week up until 2007 when she relocated to Europe.  One of my saddest moments was when I saw her sailing out of the Port of Miami on the transatlantic crossing. I was left homeless, ship-less, and broken-hearted!

But not for long.  The Freedom of the Seas and Liberty of the Seas were then being home-ported in Miami. The crew on the Liberty decided to “adopt” me, and quickly I fell cautiously in love all over again with this young lady!   I sailed her 100 times in a span of 4 years.  Recently I “dropped her off” in Barcelona for her European season.

In between my Liberty cruises, I cruised on the Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas.  Without a doubt, these revolutionary ships have set a high bar in the cruising industry with all their incredible amenities and innovative features.   I have now settled in quite nicely on the Majesty of the Seas sailing the Bahamas.  The crew on Majesty of the Seas has “taken me over” making sure I’m well looked after.  She’s not the biggest or most glamorous ship in the fleet but she sure has the biggest heart!

I’m often asked “What makes you so loyal to Royal”? The answer is quite simple:

- Royal Caribbean International has the most innovative/creative ships in the world, full of incredible amenities.

- They have the friendliest, most dedicated, professional, and enjoyable crew on the high seas.

- The incentives and rewards program for repeat guests is second to none.  My favorite reward – free cruises for every 50 completed, once the highest tier level is achieved.

What are my favorite activities on a cruise?

- Scuba diving in the Caribbean

- Dancing salsa music and playing percussion with the Latin band at the Boleros lounge.

- Socializing and meeting guests from around the world.

- Interacting with crew members.

I also take the time to answer multitude of questions from guests, such as:

- What are the best activities and venues?

- What to do at the various ports of call?

- What recommendations for future cruising?

To be able to contribute to guests cruise experience, especially first time cruisers, is extremely gratifying. In this endeavor, I consider myself a sort of an unofficial ambassador to Royal Caribbean.

A frequently asked question is: What are the most memorable or WOW moments experienced during my cruising life?  I tell them I’ve experienced many such moments but the absolute most thrilling ones were:

- Doing a dive under the hull of the Navigator while docked in Nassau.  What a thrill it was to have had the unique opportunity to explore underwater the azipod propellers and bow thrusters!

- Being Santa Claus on the Majesty during the Christmas cruise last year and handing out gifts to over 300 kids.

- Being interviewed on the Liberty’s navigational bridge by Captain Charles Teige while sitting in his Captain’s chair.

- Going scuba diving with a group of officers on the ship’s rescue boat in Belize and Coco Cay.

Mario on the Bridge onboard Liberty of the Seas

Many people ask me how often I cruise.  Well, I now cruise every week.  My future cruise schedule shows 120 bookings, all on Royal Caribbean International ships.

As I reflect back on my years of cruising, I smile and think what an exhilarating ride it has been!
I’ve thoroughly enjoyed every minute of every day on the ocean.  And yet, it feels as though I’m just getting started … and I will continue on this amazing journey as long as the higher authority gives me good health and as long as I’m having fun.

Happy cruising to all of you!

26 responses to:
“The Passion of Cruising: A Special Guest Blog by Royal’s Leading Cruiser, Mario Salcedo”

  1. KURT sANGMEISTER

    My wife and I had the opportunity to meet Mario on the Liberty during our 2nd leg of a B2B last November. We were enjoying a mojito in Boleros lounge when I recognized Mario from some photographs posted around the ship.

    We introducted ourselves and had a chance to chat for a couple of minutes. Mario could not have been more warm and friendly. What a great ambassador for the cruise line! Later in the cruise, we came to find out that he had the stateroom right next to ours!

    I don’t know if our paths will cross again but it was a pleasure to meet the top cruiser in RCI’s fleet. Go Super Mario!

    • Adam

      Thanks for sharing, Kurt. Mario is certainly a wonderful addition to any Royal Caribbean cruise and we look forward to having your wife and yourself as well as Mario onboard or ships for years to come.

  2. Rosemarie DGINTO

    Obviously Mario you are retired !! And how nice that is to be able to enjoy every day doing something you love !! Congrats to you and your passio.

    • Adam

      Thanks for your comment, Rosemarie. We are glad to have Mario share his story here so the entire world could hear about his adventures. We’re sure he appreciates your encouraging words.

  3. Mary amore

    My husband, Joe, and I had the great pleasure of meeting Mario two years ago on Liberty of the Seas. What a kind and wonderful person he is. We hope to be like Mario someday, and cruise the rest of our days. We love Royal Caribbean!

    • Adam

      We hope you can achieve your dreams someday, Mary. Good luck to you and your husband and thank you so much for your comment.

  4. Marianne lucas

    Mario is one of the nicest guys ever. He’s always available to talk to anyone and everyone about cruising. He’s wonderful to staff and crew in addition to cruisers. I feel privileged to know him. CRUISE ON, Mario!! I know we’ll meet again! Yes, we understand why Mario has chosen Royal Caribbean.

    • Adam

      Thank you for your kind words, Marianne. We’ll be sure to pass your message along to Mario and hopefully you will be able to cross paths onboard again someday.

  5. lisa langrell

    It is my philosophy after much observation (through trials and tribulations of those things in life that make you better and stronger), that people are placed on this earth or cross paths with certain people for various reasons in our lives. While I have never met Mario, I do believe he is somewhat of an angel of the seas meant to be on those waters; on those ships as a beacon of kindness, joy and happiness to the people on those ships. May Mario continue on this most special path and that Royal Caribbean has been so fortunate to have a sweet angel right in their back pocket.

    • Adam

      Thank you for your kind hearted message, Lisa. We are very fortunate to have someone as loyal as Mario continually sailing with us, and we hope that you will be able to meet him onboard someday.

  6. Susan Phelan

    Great guest blog entry so thank you very much for tweeting the link! Keep cruising Mario and may God grant you good health for many more years so you can continue to be the ambassador you are!

    • Adam

      You are more than welcome, Susan. And thanks for your well wishes, we will be sure to pass them along to Mario.

  7. Gail Sterling

    I had the honor of Cruising on both the Oasis and Allure’s inaugural sailings these past 2 years. I met Mario on the Allure sailing where you honored him at our members only function. My Uncle, Maurice Hough, at WW2 Veteran was on the Allure Cruise with us at 90 years old. What a wonderful time he had. They even let him push the button on the floating bar and guests were buying him drinks all the time. Tears of joy were shed by all. Unfortunately, Uncle Maurice passed away last month… but being a former Navy man and cruiser he enjoyed every port he docked in. As he would always say to us… ” I kissed every girl in port!” Thank you For the “Royal” treatment everytime we are aboard.

    • Adam

      We are sorry to hear of your uncle’s passing, but we are happy to hear that you were able to create such joyful memories with him onboard our ships. Thank you for sharing your story with us, our warmest regards to you and your family.

  8. Connor

    I wish I had enough money to go on Royal Caribbean that much. I have never been on RCCL before, but I have just booked one for 2012, and the reviews are fantastic. I can’t wait. I have been on the other cruise line’s about 8 times, and have been wanting to try RCCL for a while. I am going straight to the top, though, with Oasis of the Seas. What job did Mario have?

    • Adam

      Connor, it is great to hear you will be joining us onboard Oasis of the Seas, what a great choice for your first cruise. In regards to Mario’s job, he did not specify his exact profession, just that he worked in international financial management. Thank you for your comment, we’re looking forward to seeing you onboard in 2012.

  9. Biserka

    Hi Adam

    I was on my first cruise End of September 2011, Majesty of the Seas and it was marvellous! that won’t be my last one. I’ve met Mario there (in Bolero, where else?) and we agreed, that we are going to have another cruise together in 2012. unfortunately I don’t have his private mail adress. could you please inform him, that I am searching for him and give him my private email adress? you have it…..
    thanks a lot and I am looking forward to my next cruise on the rci. best regards to you all.

  10. LINDA RUSSELL

    WHAT A FABULOUS STORY. I MET SOMEONE LIKE HIM ON CELEBRITY WHO SAILS ABOUT 265 DAYS A YEAR WITH CELEBRITY AND HE WASN’T ANYTHING LIKE MARIO. HE WANTED RECOGITION BUT DIDN’T WANT TO GIVE BACK AND BE SO KIND TO OTHER PASSENGERS. I HOPE WE’LL HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY TO MEET ROYAL CARIBEENA’S SPECIAL ANGEL ONE DAY. WHAT A TRIBUTE TO RC.

    • Adam

      We are certainly lucky to have such a great ambassador as Mario. Hopefully you’ll meet him someday and if you do, you’ll have to tell us all about it, Linda. Thank you.

  11. Joyce Lange

    Oh My!!!!

    I met Mario on my last cruise, ( Feb 2012) We were on Liberty of the sea’s, I was traveling on my 12th cruise with family. What a wonderful guy he is!! He made quite an impression on us all, I have thought of him several times since that cruise and the wonderful lifestyle he is able to have. Royal Caribbien has a great ambassator in Mario,

    I am waiting to meet with him again ,and learn more about his lifetime adventures aboard RCCL ships. Maybe someday I will be able to join him ,and the other lucky people that sail Royal Caribbean Ships as a “way of life” what Very Lucky people they all are.

    Happy Sailing !
    Joyce Lange

    • Adam

      Hi Joyce, we hope your paths cross again soon. Thanks for your comment.

  12. bjorn jakobsen

    hi mario
    Long time not seeing you (april) , but suddenly you are there.
    I have some bad thing to tellyou.
    My very best friend Capt. Eigil Eriksen passed awway last month.
    I met him in the beginning of the 80 on Song of America.
    He was from Norway, but also lived in Florida. i think you have met him
    We will take a cruise in sep. Indeenpendence 14 days.
    that all for this tim,cruise on,friend

    Regards Bjorn

    • Adam

      We’ll be sure to pass your message along to Mario, Bjorn.

  13. Michelle

    I spent 15 nights on Liberty talking to Mario ~ we met at the Captains table dinner and I was glad it was there so I didn’t look like some newbie stalking him. We love his story , it’s not unlike our own . We left Canada in our twenties for life on the beach in Cancun and its fabulous . Leaving on my 28th RCI cruise soon to Southampton I am sure we will meet again

    • Adam

      What a lovely story, Michelle. Thank you for sharing and we hope that you and Mario cross paths again. Thank you.

  14. Mary McTevia

    How awesome that Mario gets to cruise every week, and on top of that, is one of Royal’s family. Be blessed Mario.
    It’s a total dream of mine just to cruise once a year! Enjoy!

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