Our group: grandma (me), grandpa, daughter, son-in-law and 3 grandsons, 17, 15,13. our fourth cruise on the Mexican Rivera. The last 3 were on the Princess ships because RCI had a smaller ship on the itinerary. Since they brought the Mariner to Mexico, we decided to try RCI this time.
the cabin was gorgeous, spacious with a balcony on deck 9. the cabins were amazingly quiet. seems like on past sailings we were always hearing doors slamming open or closed. not on the mariner! and, this is the first time i have actually had hot coffee (as opposed to lukewarm) delivered by room service. on my birthday, my husband order a bouquet of 6 roses del on our coffee tray. that did not happen so they del it later and made it a dozen. the flowers were so wonderfully fresh, we were impressed. the mattresses were a bit firm so we asked for covers and that made them so comfy. the mini-bar will be stocked when you arrive. we asked for it to be cleared out so we could store our water, it was no problem.
our flights to theship were delayed and we did not make it to the buffet until after 3pm when it closes. we were able to go to the promenade cafe on deck 5 for a light lunch.
food on board was great, not huge portions but you can order as many servings as you want. we ate most meals in the dining room except when in port when it is closed and you have to eat in the buffet. the dining rooms offers "brasserie 30" meals for lunch which only take 30 minutes. they do a fresh salad bar where they make your salads to order also, yummy. our waiter, emanuel, and his assistance, kittipan, had our names and drink orders memorized by the second day. service was great.
one thing that could be improved on the mariner is the ice show. it is just chaotic with people saving rows of seats although it is not "allowed". if you eat in the early dining, go to the 5pm show one evening. it is only 45 min long so you will make your dinner fine. the later show was really a mess.
i have a prescription face cream that cost me $120. in the u.s. i walked off the ship in mazatlan and bought it for $20. as it turned out, we walked to the new costco in PV (there is a costco in all 3 ports) and i was able to buy it there for about $10. if you are buying drugs, take the name of the drug, not the brand name. it will be a different manufacturer in mexico. not sure what the laws are regarding the importation of drugs but i had no problem with mine.
the exchange rate was 12.39/pesos on my amex card and 12.56 on visa including the currency exchange.
the last night on the ship, our family voted and every one said we would go on RCI again. nothing wrong with princess but the mariner just worked better with the teens. so much for them to do and it seems like a younger crowd than princess.
thanks to all the reviews before we sailed, it really helps. Bon voyage.
I sailed on the Mariner of the Seas on Sunday, September 7th through the 14th. This was my husband and I's second cruise. Our first cruise was last year on the Carnival Triumph - and that was EXCELLENT! I felt there was just something missing on RCI that Carnival had (more detail later). Anyway, we were traveling with my family. We flew from Boston to Orlando the Saturday morning before our cruise. We then took a shuttle to Port Canaveral, which is about 50 minutes away - a very nice, relaxing drive. We stayed at the Country Inn and Suites. This is probably one of the best hotels I've ever stayed in! The staff was very helpful and friendly, the place was spotless, and it had everything! It has a great pool, hot tub, arcade, gym, and free breakfast. I highly recommend this place! It was a Saturday night so they also had a free shuttle to nearby places, so we took it to Fish Lips, a restaurant right on the water. That place was so much fun! Great family environment and great food!
The next morning, we took the hotel'sshuttle to the port at about 10:30am. About 10 minutes later, there we were at the port - staring at the Mariner. What a beautiful ship! She is HUGE! (Just wanted to add, for a big ship with so many people - we never felt crowded - no lines, it was good!) Very sharp looking. It also towered over the Disney Wonder and the Carnival Sensation that were in port that day. We went through security and then we were off to show our Sail Pass. The line went quick and we had our Sail Pass card and were all checked in - all in about 10 minutes! We couldn't board yet so we waited in a row of chairs for about 10 minutes more. Then it was time to board! The whole process was very easy and quick - I think Port Canaveral is a lot nicer, more organized, and quicker than Miami (which we did last year).I will definitely do Port Canaveral from now on!
My first step into the Mariner, I was in shock! How beautiful and big! haha Much nicer interior than the Carnival Triumph that we sailed last year - and a LOT bigger too! We took some photos of her and then made our way up to the Windjammer (Deck 11) for lunch.
While on the topic of the Windjammer, this is probably a good time to mention my first disappointment - the food on the Mariner. The food was just okay - tolerable. I just wasn't that impressed - which, in a way was good, it meant I didn't pig out as much! haha Usually for lunch I just had a cheeseburger or hot dog and fries. I'm a picky or 'selective' eater so I don't eat weird 'fancy' stuff, haha. Most of the food on the Mariner was fancy things. Even the desserts weren't of my liking. The only thing I did like were the cookies - but sadly, those were usually hard as a rock. The cakes, pies, etc. were more European desserts, which I'm not a fan off. I'd prefer simple Ring Dings and Oreos, haha. Gosh did I MISS the chocolate cake from Carnival. Oh, and Carnival's chocolate melting cake. Gosh, I'll just say it - I missed ALL of Carnival's food! I simply couldn't get enough of the food on the Triumph. But the Mariner left me hungry and craving more 'normal' food. I wasn't even impressed in the dining room. I had chicken breast and a baked potato every single night! haha I don't like my food with extra weird sauces on it and things like that. But if you're into fancy foods, like my hubby is, you'll love the Mariner! ** But, let me say, that the Jonny Rockets is EXCELLENT! Now that is real food! haha We went there twice! Well worth the $3.95 a person. And don't forget to have the Oreo Sundae!!!! **
After eating lunch, we walked around the whole ship. I was really impressed by her. Then at 1pm exactly, we went to our stateroom - 6643, and interior cabin on deck 6. It was definitely smaller than our cabin on the Triumph (which had a porthole). I will never do an interior again. It was way to dark - which made me never want to get out of bed, haha. I NEED a window. But, we made the best of it. The bathroom is REALLY tiny and don't get me started on the shower! haha But at least it had a real shower door. What I wasn't happy with was 1) there were no nice Royal Caribbean beach towels - they were simple yellow ones (Carnival had nice blue Carnival logo towels) that looked like bath towels; 2) there were no RCI bath robes (Carnival gave us two Carnival bath robes); and 3) there was no basket of free samples in the bathroom (Carnival gave a nice assortment of samples!). I'm sorry, but if RCI is 'better' and costs more, why doesn't it have these same simple things like Carnival??? Doesn't make much sense to me!
Next, I'll talk about the shows and entertainment. Once again, RCI did not live up to the Carnival standards. The two parades were okay - not too exciting and kind of childish - not to mention short! The shows were mostly singers and dancers - I prefer more Comedians and other upbeat, fun shows. But, they were good - not bad - but just not lively! The comedian juggler was HILARIOUS though!!!! He's not to be missed! I also found myself missing a lot of the activities by the pool as well.. I just didn't expect them to be good, so I didn't bother! Which is pretty sad! haha I went to EVERYTHING on the Carnival ship! We spent a lot of time napping, eating, and walking the promenade on sea days.
Staff - wow is all I can say! haha While most of the crew on the mariner were very nice, helpful, and went out of their way to make your day - there were many I saw who weren't friendly! I walked by many who didn't even say hi to me. I saw some Windjammer staff huffing and puffing and looking bored. I never saw this on the Carnival Triumph - everyone on that ship smiled and said hi. I guess it just depends on the ship, but that really did turn me off to RCI. The cruise director Abe was okay, he was funny, but he wasn't that exciting. The BEST crew member had to be Simeon at the Schooner bar!!!! I swear I spent 80% of my cruise at that bar, haha. He is a piano player and he is hilarious! I'd go on the Mariner again JUST to see him! He really made my week! Go see Simeon!Ports of Call:
- Labadee, Haiti was our first stop. It was pretty rough seas on our way there, since we were getting the back part of Ike. Luckily I never get seasick. Labadee is a very nice beach area. We went directly to Hideaway beach at the end tip. It's quiet here and the sand is nice. Water was warm and beautiful - perfect. You also get a great view of the ship. There was a bathroom right there and the food buffet is right near the beach too - great location. The food buffet wasn't that great, I was pretty disappointed. Again, I was expecting RCI to be better than Carnival, but my expectations were not met. After a day on the beach, eating lunch, and walking around, we headed to the market. Oh my gosh! How pushy they were! Somehow we bought two bracelets for $15, haha. But oh well, I hope we made their day and helped that guy and his family out. I was pulled, tugged, yelled at, and everything else by people trying to get me to buy their things. I had to run out of there. I think they would sell more if they weren't so pushy!
- Montego Bay, Jamaica - We were supposed to go to Ocho Rios, but some other ship was there, so we went to Montego Bay instead. Hubby and I did the Negril Express and Shopping tour - it was a lot of fun and I really suggest it! It takes about 1.5 hours to drive to Margarittaville in Negril. We really got to see the real Jamaica this way. Wow, those people are really poor. It makes you appreciate what you have back home. After a few hours on the beach, we did 30 minutes of shopping, then drove back to the ship. It was a fun relaxing day and I also felt like I learned alot about the country. Our tour guid was great! There were only like 10 people on our tour too, which was good.
- Grand Cayman - Sadly, due to high waves, we couldn't get off the ship. I was really upset because I was going to do the Moby Dick sting ray tour. Hopefully I'll go back!
- Cozumel, Mexico - Wow it was hot! haha Very nice mall at the port, so if you like shopping, you could stay busy there all day! We had wanted to do the Sandals all inclusive resort, but it was full, so we did the all inclusive beach break at Play Mia. I don't think it was worth the money. The beach was nice and we met two nice people there and chatted the day away under the warm sun - but the food was lacking. I was hoping for cheeseburgers, fries, etc. but it was Mexican food - nothing I would eat. And the open bar wasn't that good. So, I don't think it was worth the $70 a person. Definitely do the Sandals one!
The last day of our cruise, we went to find our photos - we had them taken as we boarded, on the ship, at dinner, and at every port… but we had ONE photo in our folder! We couldn’t find any of them. We tried the photo finder machine, but had no luck. We got frustrated and just gave up! RCI lost some of our money because of that! The photo center was very disorganized.
Getting off the ship was very easy - took maybe 30 minutes. My mom and dad sadly didn't find one of their suitcases when leaving. I don't know if they have it yet or not. We then drove by shuttle to the airport and headed home on a 11am flight.
Overall, we had a great time! The ship is unbelievable... but the food, crew, and activities had me missing the Carnival Triumph! I think next time, I'll try a newer Carnival ship. RCI really didn't impress me that much, sorry to say it. Everyone had told me I'd love it so much more, etc., but I didn't see it.
On a funny note, last year on my first cruise, I had tripped on the wet floor by the pool and fell on my butt in front of everyone. Well, I couldn't disappoint anyone this year and fell on a wet floor on deck 5 on the royal promenade and landed face down in front of everyone! hahah Do I have bad luck or what???? :) Happy cruising everyone!
This was our first cruise on Royal Caribbean, and I can't say enough about what a wonderful experience it was. The ship is beautiful, the food was excellent and the entertainment first rate! Be sure to go to the Ice Show....it was outstanding. We loved the Cafe Promenade for an afternoon snack and a cup of coffee. The Solarium is a comfortable spot to spend the afternoon reading, or just relaxing in the sun. With the number of people on the ship, we were concerned that the it would be crowded with long lines at the buffets, but it was never the case. Overall, it was an excellent experience and we can't wait to sail on RC again.
We are cruiseaholics with fifty plus cruises. Traveling with good friends whom we met cruising in 1992. Our ages range from mid forties to late fifties. We sail two to three times a year, multiple lines.
Unfortunately due to a personal customer service issue with RCL land operations and issues with smoking policies on RCL's Celebrity brand we are not planning to sail with RCL or their product lines in future. However that is a personal decision that in no way reflects on the cruise experience we had on board The Mariner of The Seas which was excellent.
We traveled a day in advance of sailing making arrangements to stay at the Radisson at the Port, Port Canaveral. Booking online and paying in advance we secured a rate of $99 for a double, w/tax $109.89. This rate requires immediate charge at booking and limited cancellation.
Hotel was in an excellent location about 5 minutes from pier and provided FREE shuttle to ship. Pool area was nice with bar and food available. Room was adequate, small motel style, nothing fancy. It is a non smoking hotel, however plenty of opportunity to step outside room (motelstyle entrances) or hang at pool bar area where smoking is permitted.
ORLANDO AIRPORT Our first time there, large but well organized. You shuttle via smooth operating automated rail car from gate area to baggage, main terminal area. Baggage area to rental cars and transportation level require elevator to another level. Porters are available and $3 self hand carts also readily available. The self cart would be the option to use if renting a car as you might be waiting in line for a while and therefore need second porter. TRANSPORTATION to Hotel Pier area, about 50 miles or one hour can be arranged via various online services in area of $100. RCL did not offer pre-day arrival transportation unless on their packages all which were theme park programs. We elected to rent a car since we were also visiting friends in area for a couple hours. Our friends arriving from different location and time also rented a car though going direct to hotel. We all choose Budget based on rate which was in area of $61 W GPS for under 24 hour rental. The Budget rental office is located less than a quarter mile away from hotel and makes for an easy return the next morning.
NOTE: Pickup at Orlando airport sign up for FASTBREAK or suffer the 30 to 40 minute line to do paperwork. Budget is very popular surely because of rates and line is long. With fast break acct. number you can go right to car area (which is at airport -- no shuttle needed) and pick up keys and car, bypassing all the lines. HAD I ONLY KNOWN!
EMBARKATION We were shuttled over to pier from hotel -- it is a short ride of 5 minutes or so. Upon arrival porters took our luggage. Signs at pier indicate that porters are salaried and tipping is not required. A personal decision whether you wish to do so anyway.
It was a short walk to entrance to first check point. ID and ticket check followed by X-ray and metal detector. We all know the drill by now. Then up an escalator to check in areas. If you completed your forms online and printed out your SeaPass forms you have a special line and were handled very quickly. Merely ID again, present credit card you indicated online and boarding pass issued. Really does simplify process on all lines I have used it on so far. This is where it became a LONG line, boarding, mainly because ship had not yet started allowing passengers on so there was a bit of a backlog once they commenced actual boarding. NOTE -- Platinum and Diamond members also have priority boarding and entered the long line to board well ahead of many. Still they suffered lines as well to some degree. Also, though we fit into Diamond category we did not readily see that boarding area. You really have to look and ask for priority boarding most places, this one included. I don't go nuts for it because I have found in previous years that such priority boarding can be a plus or minus depending on how staffed and such.
NOTE: Once on board you cannot get to cabin areas until 1pm. They actually have doors that close off the corridors -- shut and locked.
CABIN We were in JR Suite 1650, with our friend in 1652. These have an adjoining door if you wish to have unlocked by the steward. I can't say enough about this category, we were extremely happy with the cabin size and design! We have sailed the Grand Suite category on other Voyager ships which is start of "real amenity" suite category and I liked this cabin every bit as well. The walk-in closet was fantastic! Very, very convenient and very, very roomy! Plenty of drawers and even a laptop storage and use drawer. If you need more space you definitely over-packed!
A large safe with self programmable code and a mini bar refrigerator also. Cabin space, balcony -- more than adequate with couch, chair and table. Location and deck, 10, good for buffet and pool access and other areas of ship, though a bit aft. Bathroom has a bathtub. As a JR Suite you do not have true suite amenities such as Concierge lounge use, DVD and such. The value of those items is in the eye of the beholder. Diamond members have lounge use no matter what accommodation taken. SMOKING is allowed on balcony, but NOT in cabin. That was not a problem as weather was perfect.
DINING/FOOD We were second seating table 532 -- I think it was with Utou (spelling?) and Michele, who were excellent. Food is always a personal opinion, and we were happy enough with it. Service was excellent and we had no complaints. BUFFET area was excellent in our opinion offering many choices, iced tea, lemonade, and water complimentary and several locations makes for easy pickup. We don't use specialty restaurants so can offer no comment. Coffee was decent and on the BLVD you can get excellent lattes and such but they are at additional cost.
ENTERTAINMENT The Voyager class ships offer as much in activity as large ships -- mini golf (we used it and it was fun), rock climbing wall, ice rink and such. Two pools offer best of both worlds. Main pool noisy and active with pool games and music. Second ADULT only pool quiet and enjoyable, plenty of sun and shade areas for both. Shows were entertaining enough for shipboard variety acts featuring standard dancers and singers but also some comedians which we enjoy. Lounges had various music offerings. The ICE SHOW remains a must see. Tickets are required for one of the four shows as crowd control, but there is no charge.
INTERNET Both internet lounges with terminals and wireless laptop connections offered. As is usually the case on board a ship, connections are like fast dialup, much slower than most of us are used to. Charge is .55 a minute which is less expensive than previous .75 a minute that has been the norm. They also offer packages that bring down price per minute for purchasing set number of minutes. Wireless connect is limited to several areas and lounges mostly forward and the internet café. Printing is available in café and there is no extra charge, excellent for printing out airline boarding passes and such at end of cruise. I have taken to limiting my internet use onboard to a quick mail download to laptop, so I appreciated a relatively reasonable minute rate. Sign up is done at internet café terminal and is a painless self process. Crown and Anchor members also receive some free internet charge coupons. As Diamond we had $20 worth, simply fill out and drop in box at Pursers desk and credited against your usage.
ITINERARY Having sailed these islands many times we decided for most part to stay onboard and enjoy pool facilities and such while all were almost exclusively ours. So I leave island activity and review to others. I will say we got off and took a brief walk in Jamaica to mall area near ship, where Jimmy Buffets is located. Souvenirs were somewhat expensive there. Cozumel was a much better deal for those T-shirts and the like. Best Cigg price was on ship at $86 for 5 cartons. Other prices in ships store for clothes very high.
DISEMBARKATION Done by color tags as usual. They do not allow you to wait in your cabin nor do they offer room service that morning. They repeatedly state they would like you out of your cabin by 8 am. I am usually not happy about the hurry up, get out and wait system but on Mariner it is not as much of an inconvenience as it is on some ships. Being so large there are many areas to get comfortable awaiting your turn.
It seemed that Mariner gets disembarked quicker than most ships we have sailed. Perhaps since airport is hour drive or maybe just because the lines are after you walk down the gangway and are off the ship. You present yourself to immigration and customs at same time in an area of booths containing the Officers and computers. After clearing through there you head for your luggage. Again something a little different, a baggage carousel like at airports. Much better than the pile of luggage on the floor to search through. Porters were readily available to transport your luggage to pick up areas.
We secured transportation to airport via bus at purser's desk during the cruise. Bus to airport was convenient and comfortable at $32 per person.
GENERAL COMMENT Mariner of the Seas was a very nice ship, being newer and in great shape. Staff and crew friendly and helpful, and Captain Johnny from the bridge is a want-to-be comedian providing information in a jovial way. He was often seen walking about the ship with members of his staff. Overall the Mariners cruise was an excellent one.
You can see a few pictures at our website.
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This was a wonderful family cruise. We had a party of 6 in a family suite. We arrived at Port Canaveral at 11:15 AM and were aboard by 12 noon. The cabin was ready by 1PM. Plenty of room for 6, including 2 under 5.
The ship is beautiful, service was superb, food in all venues was quite satisfactory and well presented. Plenty of activities to keep everyone busy, or quiet areas to hide and read a book. The Spa and Shipshape center are excellent and superbly equiped.
Ports of call were a mixed bag. RCCL private port of Labadee is fantastic! Best in the Carrib. Jamaica is so so. Cozumel is good for snorkeling. Grand Cayman was very good, with history (pirates) and excellent excursions, with the pirate ship experience outstanding for all ages.
The children's program for my 2 grandsons (4 and 3) was well-staffed and they loved it! Due to the size of the Mariner, it is a great ship for large families.
If available, concierge service is well run and provides many services. The business side of the ship provides good service, though response can be spotty.
One problem wedid encounter was in their photo department. Seems that a new system was installed which did not work as planned. They lost many pictures, so be careful until they work out the kinks.
The cruise, on a whole, was wonderful. The ship, weather, guests, and crew made this trip a pleasure for the entire family.
Can't wait till our cruise to the Panama Canal in Jan '08 on the Jewel of the Seas!
Ahoy! Overall it was a great cruise! Now for the good, bad and the ugly!
Embarkation: Went smoothly at Port Canaveral. We were, however, late boarding because disembarking was about one hour late.
Mariner: The ship is amazing especially for two people who were taking their first seven-day cruise. (25th wedding anniversary). However, to delineate and although you may not agree with me, these are just the opinions of two senior citizens who do not go out very often.
Overall Crew: Excellent with customer service with the exception of the Crown and Anchor Desk. Bob and I wanted to book another cruise but had the feeling when we walked away that this specific person was only interested in people who had Mariner's repo on their minds. If only I could hit the lottery, I would make the rep's dreams come true!
Balcony Stateroom: Small but very well attended to by the stewards and the housekeeping staff. They are truly worth the extra money you pay. We had a hump cabin and its proximity to the elevator was amazing once we realized aft from forward and starboard from port.
Casino: Fairly small for a ship ofthis size with a cruiser capacity of 3400. Although, I did well, do not plan your retirement portfolio on your winnings.
Shows: Great with the exception of the Royal Caribbean Singers and Dancers.
Cruise Director: Dennis Sciortino. Dennis tries very hard! Missed Becky Thompson or Ken Rush. Dennis is very energetic, however!
Food: If only the food was as remarkable as the rest of the ship! The food was served luke-warm at best and all, unfortunately tasted the same. Exception and what an exception -- Chops Grille -- DO NOT MISS IT, WOW! Worth every penny of the extra $20.00 per person. The food actually had flavor and the deserts were to die for! Windjammer buffet offers the same meals as the dining room with the same lackluster taste and, of course, luke-warm!
Hair Salon: Simple shampoo, style and blow dry -- $39.00 plus gratuity. Was not pleased, but that is just my opinion. It was the first formal night and any port in a storm.
Cafe Promenade: I could have eaten there all week -- the coffee is amazing there and on the entire ship! Not as strong as I thought it would be -- 24/7. Cookies and cheesecake, awesome. I only had two cookies all week, but my husband found his way there for cheesecake on a regular basis.
Pool Area: Yogurt Machine 24/7. Usually working.
Soda Card: Do not recommend. We did not purchase any as I find out the trick to this. You will pay $42.00 for the week. When you bring your cup with you, they just fill it. If you buy a coke without the card, they give you a full can. It is $2.01 with gratuity. That means I would have to buy 21 cokes to make up the difference -- at least 3 per day.
Shops: Offering great merchandise at fair prices. Their sales of gold by the inch are fantastic!
Labadee: Crowded but nice -- weather was beautiful. Drawback -- the craft people -- They make it impossible to look for anything. They are literally IN YOUR FACE to buy something. Terrible, my husband and I could not get out of there fast enough.
Ocho Rios, Jamaica: Unless you snorkel or scuba dive, this port is not for you. We, again, were subjected to crafts at the exit of Dunns River Falls. This was an experience virtually unknown unless you have been there and can commiserate! So, unless you snorkel or scuba -- no Dunn's River Falls or anything that has crafts people selling their wares! (The country is very, very poor!) One US dollar is equivalent to 63 Jamaican dollars! Royal Caribbean -- pick up Montego Bay and drop Ocho Rios from your list of ports!
Grand Cayman: Total rainout with lightening! Refunded for the one shore excursion I really looked forward to of all of them.
Cozumel: Oh, well -- it was the Mexican version of Jamaica and Labadee. Unless you do water sports or the beach, shopping is a no-no -- much higher prices than anything in the United States and even on the ship regarding jewelry! Also, the Mariner docks at least five miles from the "shopping center" of Cozumel.
Oh, well -- so much for my two cents. My husband and I had a really great time and are planning on Adventure of the Seas for November, 2008. If anyone knows about this ship, please give me a buzz on the website.
Ship: Mariner of the Seas, Dec 11, 2011. As usual our Royal Caribbean cruise was wonderful. This was our first sailing since achieving our Diamond Level status. It is certainly worth being Loyal to Royal to achieve the high tier status perks.
The ship was all decked out with Chirstmas decor and is a beautiful ship on its own. Clean and well maintained.
The only issue; the servers in the Diamond and above breakfast venue. The staff was pretty sullen, as if were a chore for them to wait on us. The staff in the Windjammer were more welcoming and accommodating. Although getting coffee in the windjammer took an act of congress. I realize they had extra sanitation issues to take care of to keep us all healthy. I can wait for coffee versus getting sick. Good Job people.
I do enjoy the style of cruising Royal Caribbean offers and I do realize there are times when things are not perfect.
The sailing before ours was a sick ship. It is amazing how everything comes together to ensure the ship is as germ free as possible before we boarded. Our crew wentover and above to ensure all passengers sanitized their hands. The crew was constantly disinfecting all surfaces.
There were 500 children on board and Royal Caribbeans children's programs kept them very busy. You rarely saw any bored children.
Our first cruise was on Royal Caribbean so they are special in our hearts. We have sailed on other lines and enjoy them, but our heart is with RCCL.
Our (me and hubby) second cruise on the Mariner and first time since it moved to LA. We flew in same day to LAX and took a taxi to the port. It was only about a fifteen minute ride at sixty dollars one way.
We arrived at the port around 10:30, went through security and got our sea pass cards in less than fifteen minutes. However the ship had not been cleared yet so we sat in the Diamond member chairs and had to wait till a little after 11:30 before boarding. We have had to wait before so no big deal, however before at other ports there was usually cookies, water or lemonaid available but nothing this time. Not even for suite or diamond members.
After boarding there was the usual orienting ourselves with the ship and lunch at the windjammer. Rooms opened at 1:00 and our luggage was delivered a short time later.
In general the cruise proceeded without anything unusual happenings. We were onboard with a bunch of Santas on a group cruise that made for an unusual and very enjoyable trip with all of the jolly Santas.
We neverate at the main dining, more as a preference than anything to do with the food. We ate twice at Portofinos, it was such excellent food and service we had to go a second time. The rest of our meals were in the Windjammer, which we prefer to the dining room, because of the quietness and that we like salads and fruit (trying to eat as healthy as we do at home).
It rained on our day at Cabo which dampened alot of activities we had planned but after a short trip on shore we spent the afternoon in the Solarium in the jacuzzi's.
We had great weather the rest of the time and was pleseantly surprised at how nice the ports were. We liked them and the Mariner so much that we have already booked this cruise again for next year.
This was whale season and we were able to see at least a dozen whales from the ship during the week, as well as passing through two huge schools of dolphins (one on the first day at sea and the other on the last sea day). If going on this cruise during whale season I would reccommend bringing binoculars, we forgot ours and really wish we would have had them.
Overall this was an incredible cruise and the differences between cruising the west coast verses the East were quite a nice change. The water isn't near the clear blue/turquise water you get in the Caribbean, but you don't get the oppurtunity to see whales and dolphins there either. We live in Utah so it was a nice short flight and we were able to leave the same morning which saved the pre-cruise night in a hotel that we usually have to add to our costs of leaving from the East. We have always loved the Mariner since first cruising on her in 2007. But also can't wait to bask in the Caribbean sun on the Oasis. The Mariner for us was one of our least expensive cruises ( the price dropped a total of $1200 total since booking in Nov. 2008)based on just the cruise fare alone (we were in a Jr suite). For those who usually stick to the Caribbean this is a very nice cruise and the ports were more stunning than I expected and very comparable to the islands in the Caribbean.
Service on the ship was very good as expected with RCCL, there were a couple of employees saying that doing the same cruise itinerary week after week was monotonous and they wanted to change ships. Service in Portofino's was better than our last few cruises as was the food.
Thanks to all the Santas onboard for there fun loving attitude and for reminding us how fun life is.
We flew in a day early and stayed at the Crowne Plaza Hotel Los Angeles Harbor. There are several restaurants within walking distance. Rooms were very nice and the hotel was quiet despite two events going on that evening. They do offer a free shuttle to the cruise port. We used Super Shuttle to get to the hotel. About 3 block from the hotel is a Mexican Restaurant, Green Onion, food was great and fantastic service. There was also a family restaurant we had breakfast at, The Grinder.
Embarkation: The shuttle leaves the hotel every half hour. We were at the port by 11:30 and onboard by noon. Rooms were not available before 1pm. We sat in the promenade and waited for our rooms. Deck 9, room 9636 was our room. The room did have a small refrigerator which was nice to keep a few bottles of we bought onboard for shore excursions. There was plenty of closet space but we were not able to fit the suitcases under the bed. This floor was a quiet floor and we didn't notice a lot of traffic in the hallways.
Ship: The Mariner livedup to our expectations. We enjoyed setting in the Royal Promenade waiting for dinner. We did walk around the sports deck one day but never stopped to climb the rock wall, play golf, skate, or play basketball. Plenty of opportunity for sports activities on this ship. We did visit the gym several days. Great equipment and they do a good job of offering a wide variety of classes. While we didn't visit the spa, I was selected to model for one of the treatments. We had booked a spa tour in Mazaltan, so we didn't use the ships spa.
Food: We did eat all our evening meals in the Rhapsody in Blue dining room. Our waiters and assistant waiters were excellent. We did not use any of the specialty restaurants, found the food in the dining room to be more than sufficient. The Windjammer did get congested but if you go all the way to the back of the buffet there was a large eating area. While they say it's the same food as the dining room, it was sometimes cold but still we found enough to eat.
Shows: There was a wide variety of entertainment on this cruise. There was any type of music you would want in the bars. One night there was a 70's night in the Royal Promenade. We did go to the majority of the musical shows and they very good. There were several comedians and a juggler that were all good. We did see the ice show and it was fantastic - hard to believe you are on a cruise ship.
Shore Excursions: Our shore excursions were all excellent. We use Cabo Outfitters (booked through Shoretrips.com) for a snorkeling tour that was excellent. There were 5 of us that snorkeled at Chileno Beach, while 4 others in our group left on kayaks. A guide stayed with us in the water making sure we saw all the fish and explaining some of the formations. Leaving there, we went to Santa Maria where we snorkeled again. While we were there the kayakers came in so we were able to see them finish their trip. Again, I would highly recommend this tour for personalized service. In Mazaltan we used Mazaltan Frank for a city/spa tour. The guide (Tomato) picked us up at 8:30 and we didn't get back to the ship till 4:30. He took us all over the older part stopping at churches, art galleries, and the flea markets. We saw the cliff divers. Then we went to the newer section (Gold Zone) where our spa treatments were. The massage was over an hour and was included in our tour. We also toured the Gold Zone. I would definitely do this tour again - it was that good.
In Puerto Vallarta we did the zip lining tour through Los Veranos. We met our guide at the College Disco and picked up others on the way to the zip line. We had never done this and are so glad we did. The guides really earn their money on these tours. Just climbing the hills and helping people across the lines. They did take some people backwards and upside down but we were content just making it across the lines. I did hear a couple say when they were in Costa Rica they were a lot stricter on the lines and they went straight across the line. Really enjoyed doing this and will try it again.
Debarkation We definitely weren't ready to leave. The ship was fantastic, a destination in itself, but the shore excursions also made this trip.
This was my third cruise with Royal Caribbean, my 12th overall. I booked this cruise two weeks before sail date and at that time I requested a small table for 2, second seating.
The embarkation could not have been more smooth. I arrived at the pier in San Pedro at approximately 11:55am. I was able to drop bags, check in and board all within 15 minutes of arriving at the port.
Once on board, knowing staterooms would not be ready until 1:00pm, I made my way to the dining room to check on my dining assignment. The Mariners main dining room is located in the aft section of the ship, and is divided into three levels, The Sound of Music on deck 5, Top Hat and Tails on deck 4 and the Rhapsody in Blue on deck 3.
I was to discover that I was given a seat at table #320 which is a table for 6, second seating, which I felt was unacceptable. I was informed by one of the servers setting the dining room that I could possibly request a change of the assignment at 1:00 pm. This is whenone of the head waiters would be available to reassign me if possible.
Knowing I booked late, I understood there may be a chance my request may not be granted. I decided "nothing ventured nothing gained," so I parked myself outside of the entrance on deck four at 12:20pm to wait for the opportunity. As it turned out, it was a good thing I did as the line began to form quickly. Shortly before 1pm Mr. Dinesh Dogra arrived, and being first in line he quickly informed me that basically he could not help me, and I was out of luck, stating "we only have 11 tables for 2 in second seating on this sailing."
When I asked what he would suggest I do for dinner since I really did not care for dining with a large table and truly didn't enjoy the buffet dining experience, his response was "that's your choice. I don't care what you do." Mr. Dogra was very condescending, which made for not exactly a great start to this cruise vacation.
After I booked this cruise , I called a friend Carmen "H," who has been on many cruises with RCI (73+) just to see if she might be available to book as well, and she was.
Miss "H" was in line directly behind me and prefers to dine at a large table. When her time came to talk with this gentleman, she simply asked if her dining assignment was in the section of one of her dear friends who is also a headwaiter on the Mariner, and who was also expecting her to be assigned in his section. She was informed by Mr. Dogra that he was too busy to check and that he wasn't there for that purpose. In my opinion Mr. Dogra's guest relations skills need work and he should not be permitted to interact with guests until being sent for retraining in guest relations.
After the confrontation and being somewhat disappointed, Miss "H" and I agreed to meet later for a drink. Off we went to check out our individual staterooms.
My cabin was a category E1, #7216 which is located forward on this ship and included a balcony.
This cabin is spacious, clean, and in fairly good condition, although I discovered the heating system was not working properly, and after informing my stateroom attendant of this fact, it was corrected in less than 90 minutes.
My stateroom attendant for this voyage was a Mr. Mark Bonner, who is from Jamaica.
Mr. Bonner's responses to my needs throughout this cruise were met on a higher level than my original expectations. He was consistently able to quickly and efficiently keep my stateroom in a constant ready state. He should be commended for his professionalism and attention to details. Two big thumbs up from me!
Around 5:00 pm that first evening a wonderful gentleman; Merrick Saldanha -- another one of Royal Caribbean's excellent head waiters -- informed me that indeed he was able to arrange a table for two for me and in his section, although he wasn't able to accommodate Miss "H" and her request for a large table at her friend's station (because her friend was not scheduled to work second seating), so she decided to dine with me. A big thanks to Mr. Saldanha, which provided a terrific win-win solution.
This being my first voyage on the Mariner, I was presented with my chance to see what all the hullabaloo was about concerning the Promenade.
The Promenade, for those that aren't familiar, is a wide corridor in the middle of the ship. It runs forward to the aft on deck 5. This is where the ship conducts some of it's many activities including parades and musical performances, and it is also the location for the onboard shops, the coffee café, Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream Parlor, and the champagne bar, as well as the guest relations desk. There are cabins that are located over the area that will enable guests to look over the area, and I was told by many staff that those staterooms were soundproofed. Although, the Promenade tends to be a bit loud for my taste, I admit the concept is a 5 star idea!
The highlight for me on the Promenade is the wine bar Vintages!
Vintages is a delightful place that houses many excellent wines. There you are encouraged to "taste" a wine before purchasing, and you are also allowed to purchase by the glass or bottle. They will store your unfinished bottle for you, if you so desire.
On this particular cruise, three of Vintages' employees Gustad Irani, Alme Morrison and Lloyd Tan provided outstanding descriptions of the wines, and their service was exceptional.
This cruise had three ports of call -- Astoria Oregon, Victoria, BC and Seattle, Washington. There were also three sea days as well. Personally I ended up treating this as a mostly sea days cruise, only getting off in Victoria in order to look over the garden spot of British Columbia. We were told by the locals that Victoria was a community of retirees and gardens, so as he put it "Welcome to Victoria -- the home of garden beds, newlyweds and almost deads!" Victoria was very charming and I am looking forward to returning.
The Mariner has three specialty dining venues that impose a surcharge. Portofinos' "Intimate Italian Dining" $20.00 per person, Chops Grille "The best steak on the high seas" $25.00, and Johnny Rockets $4.95.
On Wednesday I had my chance to try specialty dining. I chose Chops Grille, and I will say I was quite pleased.
Thursday evening I was invited to dine with the Chief Engineer, Harri Kulmajarui -- a delightful man from Norway.
On Friday I received an invitation to tour the bridge.
Formal Nights were on Monday and Friday. While preparing for the second formal night, the top button on my tuxedo shirt popped off. Not knowing what to do I went to guest services. Gaston Somonte, one of the guest services officers, went above and beyond the call. He found an emergency sewing kit and quickly dropped it by my stateroom. Talk about saving the day!
Due to the economy, RCL has undergone major cost saving measures, including forgoing the grand buffet -- the chocolate extravaganza. They have raised prices across the board as well. Pellegrino is now $6.95 a bottle and they are also charging $14.95 for a decent steak in the dining room. They have also eliminated the chocolate on the pillow at night.
I truly hope this is not an indication of things to come.
Jeers * To Royal Caribbean International's efforts in cost cutting and revenue generating by charging $14.95 for a decent steak in the dining room and for the removal of chocolates on the pillows at night. Please don't cut too many pennies!
Extra Cheers * Mario Panganiban -- the waiter whose station I eventually was assigned ensuring that my dining experience was all it could be.* Manuel Datayan, the assistant waiter whose attention to detail always ensured an exceptional dining experience.
What started out with a bad customer service experience ended up as often happens with great guest relations and the gaining of new acquaintances.
In general the crew of the Mariner try to please, and as with any organization you will run into a bad apple now and again.