Sail Date: March 2010
It was our second time on the Mariner of the Seas, and we traveled from Chicago to LA to enjoy it. We really love this ship and followed it rather than the itinerary. We actually liked the west coast crowd on this ship so thanks for your ... Read More
It was our second time on the Mariner of the Seas, and we traveled from Chicago to LA to enjoy it. We really love this ship and followed it rather than the itinerary. We actually liked the west coast crowd on this ship so thanks for your friendliness! We had a group of grandparents and a mom with with kids 10,15, and 17. We arrived on Saturday and took the Prime Time Shuttle to the Crowne Plaze in San Pedro. Great way to relax. If in San Pedro, eat at the Whale and Ale. Free shuttle to the port. Embarkation: As easy as can be, especially if you have printed off the Set Sail Pass ahead of time. I think we got on in less than 10 minutes. We arrived at 11:30. Accomodations: Amazing as we booked a suite this time. It was worth the extra money as we do spend time reading on the balcony, relaxing. If you're never in the room, don't spend the money. Excursions: We were disappointed in the Resort Getaway in Cabo as it was disorganized and we spent too much time finding chairs, but really enjoyed the Stone Beach Getaway in Mazatlan and especially the excursion in P.Vallarta. Can't remember the name, but a catamaran takes you snorkeling and then to Yelapa. The crew was fun, and the kids all said it was their favorite excursion, even better than those we have done in the Caribbean. Please consider this excursion with the Vallarta Tours group. Stuff to do: We did everything, including bball, rock climbing, skating, bingo. The most fun are the trivia games in the Schooner Bar and we joined other folks and had such fun guessing tv tunes. We also did the Captain's talk and art auction, karaoke (watching not doing). My parents had a great time too and they are in their 80s. Staff: We had a great waiter and can't say enough good things about Stephenson from Colombia. Please: if you don't like your table assignment, they are very helpful in getting it right. We prefer the ground floor (Rhapsody in Blues). Disembarkation: Easy and took the Prime Time Shuttle back to LAX. Our porter took the bags and walked us directly to the van. We are hoping to do the Voyager of the Seas next year. Let me know if you need any other details as we have now 2 cruises down on this ship! Enjoy. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2010
This was a family cruise with nine family members ranging in ages from 2 to teens to 40 year-olds and finally to the happy couple celebrating their 50 wedding anniversary (and 80th birthday!). We were concerned that one cruise could meet ... Read More
This was a family cruise with nine family members ranging in ages from 2 to teens to 40 year-olds and finally to the happy couple celebrating their 50 wedding anniversary (and 80th birthday!). We were concerned that one cruise could meet all our divergent needs, but the Mariner of the Seas did that and more. For my family of four, it was our second cruise, the first having been several years ago on an older ship of Holland America's fleet (the Veendam, before it was refurbished). Most things on this trip were better, but I will concede right up from that for those really focused on meals, HAL seems to have the edge. But on almost every other count, the Mariner was a superior experience. Starting with Embarkation, we experienced no difficulties whatsoever. The process was smooth and organized. We arrived at 11am (the earliest recommended, and had to wait about an hour to get to board, but that was no problem, I used the time to ask some questions of the very knowledgeable staff on shore. This contrasts the lack of answers I was able to get when calling Royal Caribbean a week before the cruise. I needed to know if there were conference rooms available on the ship and if wheel chairs were available, but couldn't find out that the answer to both questions was yes till I got to the port. One aide even noticed my dad's difficulty walking steps, and offered us an elevator ride to the gangway, unsolicited! In general, the Mariner of the Seas is an absolutely beautiful ship. Very clean and classy looking. This was an improvement over the Veendam, which is a much older ship and, at least before its renovation, had a lingering smell that was not very pleasant. Upon boarding, we worked our way to the Windjammer Dining room which was - well - jammed, as people had to wait there till their rooms were ready. Bu there were plenty of seats and the wait staff immediately got to work making everyone feel at home. Rooms were ready by around 3 pm. We wondered the ship and quickly got the feel for where everything was. We were able to make our dining room reservation for the night and reviewed the first Compass listing of ship activities. Some of us had balcony rooms on Deck 7; my family had an ocean view porthole quad on deck 3. We must have been the first people to request a room on deck three, because 3618 is the first room on the hallway! We were seconds away from the dining room, ice rink, and main stairway to the promenade! And we had no neighbor to the aft - all around we loved the room! All the rooms we saw were well designed - snug, but very workable. The kids loved the pull down bunk beds, all the beds were comfortable (with extra pillows available in the closet), the TV was a reasonable size, and there was a fair amount of drawer space, which allowed us to unpack bags and stow them out of the way. My brother had a crib moved into his room, and the glass table removed - the room staff were very accommodating. Later that night (while we were at dinner), my parents' room was decorated to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary (an extra charge, but well worth it!). Since we were a party of 9, the dining room staff gave us a standing reservation at 5:30 for dinner so we could always sit together. I thought the meals were generally excellent. One night I ordered the steak, which was not featured that night, and that wasn't the best steak I've had. But we didn't;t try the Chops Steakhouse ($20 up charge), and I'd say all the other meals were excellent. And they had an escargot appetizer one night that was "to-die-for." We only chose to eat elsewhere once - at Johnny Rockets for a $5 up charge. Like an old-fashioned diner, the Johnny Rockets staff made a perfect chocolate soda to my Dad's instructions, and there was entertainment from the waiters and the patrons (dancing in the aisles). One of the best things about the Mariner of the Seas was the availability of snack (pastries and such) on the promenade 24/7! Drinks cost extra, of course, but muffins, sandwiches, cookies, ice cream and other items are included in your prepaid meal service whenever you have a hankering (Ben & Jerry's ice cream costs extra). The Mariner of the Seas is apparently the largest cruise ship in the pacific (the Oasis of course is bigger in the Atlantic). There seemed a never ending supply of nooks and hideaway places to explore and enjoy. The teens on our trip loved the sports deck, with the rock climbing wall, mini-golf, ping pong and a large arcade (video games cost extra). The organized programs for tweens and teens were pretty good - my kids liked the youth directors. One advantage Holland America had was a youth dedicated swim area. On the Mariner, the main deck pools and tubs were always crowded when the weather was warm. The Solarium offers some pools and tubs for adults only, and my kids got chased out when they tried to use them even though they were not making any noise. Should note that the kids also like ice skating on deck 3 when the rink was open. On Wed., we skipped going to Mazatlan to hold a special celebration for my folks in one of the deck 2 conference rooms. The staff again was very accommodating, helping us set up our audio-visual program through our laptops. We had coffee, tea, juice and pastries delivered to the room for just an $8 up charge (dollar per person). The dining room also delivered a special birthday cake we ordered! My parents were very moved and the staff was just great! So, all in all, we had about as good a time as any of us expected. I'll mention one little nit, in case someone from RCCP reads this. On the last night, everyone gets envelopes and vouchers to give tips to the Dining Room and room staff. The whole exercise is silly and unnecessary, since most people prepay their tips when they buy their tickets. The purpose of the envelopes is to have something to hand to the staff on that last night, but we thought it was more trouble than it was worth, since the envelopes had nothing in them except the voucher. I think people who want to give more (or less) should just do so, and the rest of us can just thank the staff on our own. Don't want to end on a down note. Let me praise the cruise director and the entertainment. here Royal Caribbean far outshone Holland America. The Cruise Director was funny and seemingly everywhere on the ship at once. 3600 passengers, and yet it seemed he had time to chat with anyone who cared to share a word with him. We loved his morning TV show (available in our cabins) which summarized what had gone on the last day and what was going on today. One disappointment was the cruise director at the last minute didn't make the Cruise Critic Meet & Mingle, which left that event falling a little flat. The shows were outstanding. We had Beatlemania one night that had the audience conga dancing in the aisles! The cruise troupe was outstandingly talented. We loved the ice show - I had been warned to get seats early, but I don't think there was a bad seat in the house. There were Wii competitions (should have had more!) and trivia contests (should have had better prizes) and ping pong, dodge ball, basketball, etc tournaments - all a ton of fun! A great time was had by all! Read Less
Sail Date: March 2010
This cruise took a long time to fall in to place. With teenagers involved and family coming from different states - it was tough. It was my parents dream to have their kids and their grandchildren on a vacation together. The trip was to ... Read More
This cruise took a long time to fall in to place. With teenagers involved and family coming from different states - it was tough. It was my parents dream to have their kids and their grandchildren on a vacation together. The trip was to celebrate a myriad of birthdays from 16 to 80 as well as promotions, Master's Degrees, etc... My parents are experienced cruisers and lately have been spending their time on luxury liners. We knew that RC was a "step down" for them as far as luxury, but it was a great, well-rounded ship with something for everyone. I think my parents were pleasantly surprised! We traveled on Royal Caribbean's Mariner of the Seas to the Mexican Riviera over Spring Break. My parents booked a Junior Suite for themselves and got the rest of us upgraded balcony rooms. Our travel agent had the fore-sight to book adjoining rooms for our kids and us, which gave each of us each just enough privacy while still keeping us connected. The rooms were really quite nice. Plenty of storage space and, included with the balcony, lots of living space. My only complaint ( and its a big one) is how uncomfortable the beds were. My goodness! I thought that it was a backhanded attempt at booking more massage appointments. It took until noon of every day to be able to walk upright! Our stateroom attendant team was amazing. Very thoughtful and anticipated our needs. She became familiar with our family's comings and goings and would often wait to make up the room, knowing our kids were still asleep, even if the do not disturb sign was not in play. The ship itself had no lack of activities for everyone. We rock climbed, ice-skated, laid in the sun, played mini-golf, trivia, bingo, "Name that Tune", read and enjoyed just doing nothing. The entertainment was top notch. The performances were varied and thrilling. We enjoyed a tribute to the Beatles one evening that had my 80-year old Dad dancing! The fact that there is an ice skating show on a cruise ship was amazing. Even more amazing was the tricks that were performed given the space restrictions of the much smaller rink. Very entertaining and intimate. One of our favorites! One of the things that most impressed us about the ship's amenities was that they were not simply advertised; they were all usable. We have traveled on other lines where amenities were advertised and just were unusable i.e. water slide was under construction. Games were old and missing pieces on the "other line". Here, they were new and intact. Everything promised was delivered. While the food was above average in the dining room, I wasn't all that impressed with the buffet line. It was average. The dining room food and service shined. The food was pretty decent for being mass produced and service was exceptional. Our waiter, Manoj, and his assistant, Werner, were great. They knew our names and what we would like to drink by the second night. I had made a joke on the first night and told him that we would have a celebration each night. Each night, they brought a special treat to our table for the honored family member and sang to them. Each night before we left, the head waiter was sure to approach me with his little notebook and ask me what we were celebrating the next evening. I was quite disappointed with the specialty dinner we had in the Portofino. I had heard good things about the restaurant and it didn't live up to the hype. Several minor mishaps occurred, which compared to the great dining room service we had enjoyed, left us feeling a bit gypped. Our kids are 16 & 12 - however they chose not to take part in the Kid's Club activities. The weirdos actually liked spending time with their parents!!! All in all - a great fit for our family! We would go on another Royal Carribbean cruise in a heartbeat!   Read Less
Sail Date: March 2010
My husband and I really enjoy cruising because we are cut off from our cell phones and Internet and can enjoy each other's company. This was our 5th cruise on RC (7 cruises total). We chose the Mexican Riveria since we had never ... Read More
My husband and I really enjoy cruising because we are cut off from our cell phones and Internet and can enjoy each other's company. This was our 5th cruise on RC (7 cruises total). We chose the Mexican Riveria since we had never sailed it before. We arrived in LA and jumped on the Super Shuttle for $17 pp, arriving at the pier at 12:30. I read on cruise critic that the side to be on the ship was the port side but I really disagree. Both sides are great and the views in Cabo are great on either side. The room we were in was just outside the elevator and we were warned by our travel agent it would be noisy but it wasn't. It actually was very convenient getting on and off the elevator or stairs. I would book it again in a heartbeat. The service was excellent as usual. I have seen the shows numerous times and only went to two. I would love for the ice show and evening shows to be more current with the music, more like American Idol than a Broadway musical. But, because I know the secret to a happy cruise is to have fun regardless, I just didn't go to the shows. Instead, I went to sleep early which made waking up early great for my morning workouts. I ran outside on the ship almost every day and had a great workout in the wind. My husband and I also used the gym and whirlpools or sauna daily. I in line skated. We ate in the dining room every evening and had a great time meeting new people. It's inevitable you will find a complainer. Just decide not to listen to them. Change the subject quickly and remember the secret to an incredible cruse is to have fun. Don't fall into a trap of being negative even if things aren't perfect (they won't be!) On the last day of our cruise the winds blew and the temperature dropped to 60 degrees. We had a great time climbing the rock wall and playing dodge ball. We made new friends and enjoyed not having to make our own food or beds. Remember, have fun! It was cold and the shipped really rocked! If possible, splurge on a balcony cabin and at night keep the door open and listen to the ocean waves. In the morning breathe it all in and thank God that you are alive and on a cruise. Be sure to have breakfast or lunch in the dining room so you can make new friends and share stories about your excursions. After arriving home we found out LA had a big earthquake which we just missed as we caught an earlier flight than expected. I type this with a grateful heart feeling refreshed and renewed. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2010
We were in suite #1268 on Deck 10. This was a beautiful suite. The only major problem in the room was the t.v. The satellite was out for the first 7 days so no news unless you used your Internet minutes to get it which took forever to log ... Read More
We were in suite #1268 on Deck 10. This was a beautiful suite. The only major problem in the room was the t.v. The satellite was out for the first 7 days so no news unless you used your Internet minutes to get it which took forever to log on, so it cost a fortune. There were also no computers in the concierge lounge as there are on other RC ships. The DVD player's remote could not be used so you had to manually get on the floor to use the player. Now, the t.v. itself. It froze constantly, you could not change the channel. After maintenance and the I.T. department visited us 9 times in 6 days, (yes 9 times) to unfreeze the t.v. we were told that the sensor was bad and they could not fix it. Then my husband started messing with it and found out how to unfreeze it. I let the cabin steward know for the next guest so that they could use the t.v. Also the hot water pot in the suite does not work.There was no soft serve yogurt machines in the windjammer as on other ships so you had to freeze to death to get any. No toppings either. The guest relations desk was always very crowded. We were charged for items from the mini bar which we did not use and they couldn't take it off. After discussing this with the mini bar crewman he said nothing was used from our cabin. This took 2 days to resolve. Only used the dining room once as it took way to long and the waiter forgot my husband's appetizer. Room service was excellent, as well as their staff. The ports visited were so good, as well as the tours. All of the guides were great. The last port of Naples, it took 1 hour to get back on the ship. I have never waited that long and people were very annoyed.The concierge, Diego was excellent. Everything I requested from him was taken care of. He even printed out my hometown newspaper for me to read. The food in the concierge lounge was excellent as was the staff. Our room steward I(Michael) had just transferred from another deck and did a great job. The ice show was fabulous and should not be missed. As was the Frankie Valli show. We didn't really care for the 2 cruise directors. They were too confusing to follow as one would speak in English, pause for the other to speak in another language, then continue. We decided to eat meals in port when we were docked as the Greek and Italian food was so good. In closing, this ship needs many repairs and a lot of the crew need to be nicer to the guests. Maybe because the ship is so large, and we are used to the smaller ones (Jewel of the seas, etc)who give great service. Would we go again. Yes for the itinerary, no not on this ship. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2010
Our first time cruising the Mexican Riviera. The Mariner is a great ship. We'd been on the Independence last year so this is a slightly smaller boat. The check-in and check-out was on-point - so much more organized than in Miami. ... Read More
Our first time cruising the Mexican Riviera. The Mariner is a great ship. We'd been on the Independence last year so this is a slightly smaller boat. The check-in and check-out was on-point - so much more organized than in Miami. Loved the repartee between Kieren (Cruise Director) and Rob (Activities Director & Liverpudlian sidekick) on their daily show. The whole Mariner staff/crew were all wonderful, friendly, engaging. Captain Johnny is a treat and appeared to be much more involved with staff and guests than previous captains. I'm sure everyone is sad to see him leave. He zips around the boat on his little motorbike and his intercom jokes were always worth listening for! The regular shows were terrific as always. We did the "Behind the Scenes" tour of the backstage and had Hannah (dance captain) show us around. What a remarkable young woman! You will come away with an even greater respect for what these dancers/singers do! The headliners were hit and miss on this cruise (but good to know that they change every week). Beatlemania was the main headliner and they were atrocious (definitely needed some Liverpudlian accent classes from Rob). We were not as impressed with the food this trip I have to say - we were in 2nd seating and much of it was either cold/overcooked or just plain bland. But as usual - Johny Rockets is a fun place and you'll never get a better burger.. if you want to forgo calorie counting eat there just one time! DON'T WASTE YOUR MONEY IN MAZATLAN!~ All I ask is one thing? Why is Mazatlan on this itinerary? It even makes Ensenada look like a luxury destination and that's saying a lot! It's a dump of a city. The tours are a rip-off considering there is pretty much zero to see and what there is is falling apart and covered in graffiti. (see my trolley tour notes) I know the headliners get on/off the boat every Wednesday in Mazatlan but I hope this isn't the only reason RC goes there. Cabo and PV are a thousand miles better for shopping/activities/sightseeing. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2010
We just returned from our 7 day cruise to the Mexician Riveria aboard The Mariner of the Seas to celebrate my grandparents 50th wedding anniversary! Myself and 14 of my family members had a great time onboard and created memories that will ... Read More
We just returned from our 7 day cruise to the Mexician Riveria aboard The Mariner of the Seas to celebrate my grandparents 50th wedding anniversary! Myself and 14 of my family members had a great time onboard and created memories that will last a lifetime! We arrived in San Pedro on Friday March 12th. We stayed at the Crown Plaza in San Pedro. I would definitely recommend this hotel. It was very clean and the rooms were spacious for my whole family. They also have fresh fruit and juices in the lobby of the hotel to enjoy. This was our first time aboard a cruise ship so we were not too sure what to expect. This cruise met all of the expectations we did have! GETTING ON BOARD: We had a pretty easy time getting on board the ship the first day. As soon as you get on the ship, most people meet up at the Windjammer for lunch. It was packed in there for sure. We were supposed to get our luggage soon after 1:00pm, however, our luggage with our clothes in it did not show up until 5:45pm (we had the 6:00pm dinner seating so it was cut pretty close). However, our stateroom attendant was great at finding it for us when we had questioned about it. So that was a big help. ROOMS: We had a stateroom on Deck 2 and it was a perfect room for my husband and I. Our stateroom attendant Jeffrey was awesome! He would call us by name everytime that he saw us. He was also very good at having our bed made up for the night when we returned from our 6:00pm dinner sitting. He made great towel animals too!!! :) My parents and grandparent had suite rooms and they too were also great. Very clean! ACTIVITIES: There was always something to do on the ship. You receive the Compass on our bed each night for the activities going on the next day. We participated in Hot Shot basketball, Sexy Leg contest (my husband won for Best Tourist Legs), Belly Flop contest (My uncle took 2nd and my husband took 3rd!), volleyball tournament, ICE SHOW (A must see!), Quest, Karoke and much more. The Casino was also a good place to hang out. Some people however on the ship did not play blackjack the best and cost my dad some money at times so be careful when you play. If someone says that they are board on the ship, then they should rethink that! PORTS OF CALL: Our first day we booked a Jeep Excursion through the ship. It was a great time! I would definitely recommend the trip. Our tour guide named Paul really knew where to take us on the trip and we got some great views of Cabo. He took us to a boarding school where we had a fantastic lunch and got to talk to some of the students there. Our last stop on the Jeep tour was right up by the ocean. A great view that I will never forget! Our second port of call was Mazatlan. We ended up going to the Golden Zone and enjoyed some beverages at one of the local hotels. The hotel had a beach area that we were allowed to use and just relaxed. We also did some shopping while we were there as well. Final stop on port of call was Puerto Vallarta. We took a private Catamarn boat ride and it was truly AMAZING! We booked this trip through Puerto Vallarta Tours by Johann and Sandra. (http://www.puertovallartatours.net/private-catamaran-charter.htm). I would really recommend them as well. We had two tour guides (Carlso and Bruno) who were very nice. They took us to a private island with beach access. We got out out of the Catamaran and did some snorkling and swimming. While we were doing that, they grilled chicken kabobs on the grill for our lunch. For $16.00 extra a person we got the food and also open bar the entire time. It was definitely worth the price. They provided the snorkling equipment and do have an iPod dock so you can hook up your own music. Bathroom on the catamaran was clean. Again, you should really look into booking this trip if you have a large group. It is pretty cheap for all that you get. DINING: We were scheduled for the 6:00pm seating at Rhapsody of Blues dining area. What fantastic service we received. Our head waiter Jeffrey and assistant waiter Fatih were amazing! They always greated us with a smile each night and provided us with great service! We were sad to leave on our last night. The bartender there also was awesome, because he would always know what drink we would want each night. We also celebrated my sister's birthday on the trip and they brought out a little desert for her and sang happy birthday. Our two formal nights were really fun too! We took professional family pictures on the first formal night. A photographer would also come to your table during the week and would take pictures of you that you could purchase on the ship. All in all, the food at dinner was great! If there was something that you didn't like on the menu that night, you could always request something else. They always had pasta, chicken and steak for sure. Friday they served lobster and shrimp which was a favorite at our table. Breakfast at the Windjammer was great each morning. They always served the same foods each day, which was kind of boring, however, the food was good. We only had lunch there on the day we got on board and one other day at sea. Food at lunch was mediocore at best. I would definitely recommend to eat a big breakfast in the Windjammer the morning of ports so that you don't have to eat much when you are on land. When we got on board, I had gotten the soda package for the week ($48.00 for an adult). Unless you know you are going to drink ALOT of soda, I would probably not buy the package. I do not think I drank enough soda to get my money's worth. When you purchase alcholic drinks on the ship, they automatically put a 15% gratuity on your bill, however, you could tip more if you wanted to. EMBARKATION: The day we got off the ship was a breeze. Royal Caribbean was very organized and made getting off the ship easy. On the final night you will receive a colored luggage tag. Each color has a different time that you will get off the ship. We were a large group and had some different embarkating times, however, we were able to switch our luggage tags easily so we could all get off the ship together at the same time. We waited in The Savoy Theater until our luggage tag color was called (Light Blue 2). We then followed the staff member to the 4th deck to get off the boat. There you can pick up all your luggage and pick up your transportation to the airport, etc. Additional Information: Make sure you keep track of your SeaPass card. This is what you use to purchase anything on the ship, need it to get OFF and ON the ship at ports and you also need it the last day of your trip to get off the boat for the final time. The SeaPass card is also your room key....so basically this little card is your life for 7 days! We had a great time aboard The Mariner of the Seas. Again, it was truly something that I will never forget the rest of my life. Celebrating my grandparents 50th wedding anniversary aboard was a very smart decision! Great time had by all, and I would recommend Royal Caribbean and Mariner of the Seas to anyone! Read Less
Sail Date: March 2010
My husband and I have cruised twice before with RC and have enjoyed both cruises. We decided to take our 7 year old and 3 year old along this time for their first cruise. We arrived in L.A. a day early to get settled. We stayed at the ... Read More
My husband and I have cruised twice before with RC and have enjoyed both cruises. We decided to take our 7 year old and 3 year old along this time for their first cruise. We arrived in L.A. a day early to get settled. We stayed at the Doubletree San Pedro. It had a shuttle service to the pier that was well organized. There was a Princess ship leaving the same day so the bellman was taking reservations for the shuttle the night before. The hotel was clean but a little strange. It was out on the marina so there was no stores, restaurants absolutely nothing around it. We had a room with a balcony which we discovered we shared with the room next to us. A little unnerving to look out your window and a strange man is standing on your balcony !! Needless to say we spent the day with the curtains drawn. We arrived at the pier at 1130 and embarkation was painless. We were checked in and on the ship in 30 min. Rooms are not ready until 1300 so we were herded up to the Windjammer for lunch. It was packed !! They did not have enough tables for everyone and they did not let people take there plates out to the pool area due to the "california fruit fly epidemic" okay then....The windjammer was really busy on "at sea" days and usually busy at breakfast but other than that not a problem getting a table. In general I was not all that thrilled with the food at the buffet. Breakfast was the standard bacon,sausage eggs. Lunch was hot dogs hamburgers, various chicken dishes etc. I generally stuck to the salad bar. They had a good variety of items just nothing that exciting. The Cafe Promenade on deck 5 offered pizza and small sandwiches 24 hr. I usually went there instead of the buffet. We had a junior suite on the deck 10 and it was very clean and spacious. Tons of storage space. A nice bathroom with a full bathtub,a large balcony and a huge walk-in closet. Our Stateroom attendant was terrific. The ship is huge! It was clean and we experienced wonderful service everywhere we went. The kids used the Adventure Ocean club and really enjoyed it. They enjoyed the sports deck/mini golf etc. I thought the pool area was small for the amount of people on the boat and the water was FREEZING !! The hot tubs were packed. We saw the Circus ice show on board and it is worth seeing. Get there early for seats. My husband went to the late night comedy and said it was hilarious. Our dining room experience was good. Our waiter/assistant waiter were wonderful and paid the kids extra attention which was nice. They always had a kids menu and made an effort to get them whatever they needed. Again the food was OK not outstanding. If you are going soon be warned it is chilly in LA. Even in Mexico it was chilly when you get out of the water. It was really windy the last 2 days heading back to LA. The boat was rocking and I was amazed I didn't get sick. It was so rocky the last day they closed the pools because the water was sloshing out of them. You couldn't go outside so it was a good day to go ice skating and play bingo. Being Canadian we had to clear customs on the boat before we got off. The line up was ridiculous!! If they know 3/4 of the boat is non-US citizens you think they would have more than 4 officers clearing people. We did the express departure. We gave up waiting for an elevator and lugged our suitcases down the stairs. There was a small line up to get off but nothing major. We used Super-shuttle to get to and from LAX and I would use them again. We had a wonderful vacation and would sail RC again !! Read Less
Sail Date: March 2010
This was our second spring break trip on Mariner of the Seas to the Mexican Riviera, and it was just as wonderful as the first time. Memorable: *Royal Caribbean's staff. Without exception, we never encountered a single staff ... Read More
This was our second spring break trip on Mariner of the Seas to the Mexican Riviera, and it was just as wonderful as the first time. Memorable: *Royal Caribbean's staff. Without exception, we never encountered a single staff member without a smile, a friendly hello, or a willingness to be of assistance. Royal Caribbean management deserves kudos for assembling such a warm, welcoming group of people. A special shout-out to Clarence, our stateroom attendant, and Irene and Werner, waiter and assistant waiter, in the dining room. They all worked very hard to make our stay relaxing. *The ice-skating show. The skaters are world class, the costumes are gorgeous, the choreography is superb. *Portofino and Chops. We decided to splurge this year and enjoyed the alternative restaurants. We didn't regret it. The setting was romantic (especially Portofino's--what a view!), and we were made to feel like royalty. The cuisine was wonderful. Although it's not necessary to use the alternative restaurants, as the food in the main dining rooms is perfectly fine, we booked the alternative restaurants in place of excursions this go-round. Make sure to book several days in advance. *The ship. I just love this ship. The Royal Promenade, with its 24-hour cafe, is simply delightful. The gym has gorgeous equipment, in a sunny, view-ful setting. The art is spectacular. Mariner of the Seas is a visually appealing, comfortable ship. Cabins have plenty of nooks and crannies. Zero complaints about this ship. *Clientele: a perfect mix of ages and stages on the spring break trip. While we were in port in Puerto Vallarta, we were standing next to a crowd from a different ship, waiting to re-embark. The difference in clientele made me giggle. Not knowing if I was in the right spot, I asked "Which ship are you on?" The response from the barely-clad young gentleman: "#####, bay-bee." Rowdy group. I realized then and there that I was on the perfect cruise line. A lot of our cruisers had high energy as well, but it was always channelled into the right places and activities. (I dare not give the name of that other cruise line, but you can probably guess.) Of special note: Our 16-year-old fell ill in the middle of this trip. Gastric issues. He was asked to stay in his room for 24 hours (his seapass was deactivated). During this period of time, water from the fridge was free, and room service was available to him. Also, medical costs in the infirmary were waived, and we received a note at the end of the trip, promising us a one-day credit on a future cruise. In short, RCI takes gastric issues seriously, and we think they handled the problem just fine. Our son was out and about 24 hours after he fell ill, and he continued to enjoy his trip. My son asked if we could do this trip every spring. We found an affordable deal for this vacation, and that's the reason we were able to go. Hopefully RCI will fun another promotion, because it's a tradition we would certainly look forward to. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2010
First-time cruisers. Spent a week with my 14 year-old son doing the Mexican Riviera on Mariner of the Seas. It was a great trip and we were completely happy with the ship and the cruise overall. The ship itself was more luxurious and ... Read More
First-time cruisers. Spent a week with my 14 year-old son doing the Mexican Riviera on Mariner of the Seas. It was a great trip and we were completely happy with the ship and the cruise overall. The ship itself was more luxurious and impressive than I expected, and our room (jr. suite), was clean, in very good condition, very well equipped and comfortable. Beds and linens were excellent. Room was also very quiet - we never heard noise from the hall or from adjoining rooms. My one complaint about the room was that the TV was small. Steward and cleaning service in the room was excellent (at one point we spilled something very messy on the carpets and bed and they had a crew there in 10 minutes with a huge steam cleaner rig and had it back to perfect in no time). Bathroom was clean, luxurious, very nice. Getting on and off the boat at the beginning and end of the cruise was quick and painless - very well organized. Ditto for the three ports we visited. I think the longest we ever waited in line to embark or disembark was perhaps 10 minutes. Food on the ship was very good but not outstanding. I actually liked the Windjammers breakfast and lunch buffet better than the fancy dinner in the dining room, because of the sheer variety. But there was also good variety and quality in the dining room (except I thought desserts were weak) and the service was excellent. And in the dining room you could have multiple entrees, or 3 of one dessert, or whatever else you wanted. All-in-all I'd rate the food 8 out of 10. Activities on the ship are many, varied and non-stop. Lots and lots to do, for anyone. I like that they had a pool/sun area just for adults. I used the gym daily and thought it was excellent. And my teen son never ran out of stuff to do - rock climbing, mini-golf, arcade, ping pong, burgers and milkshakes, movies, pools and hot tubs, library, and on and on and on. Internet on the ship was limited, slow, not available everywhere, and expensive. In terms of ports, Cabo was enjoyable, Puerto Vallarta was awesome, but Mazatlan is an armpit that was not worth a stop. In Cabo we did a sail/snorkel excursion with http://www.cabosailing.com/, and that was excellent. You have to book it yourself - not offered through the ship. They only take about 10 people at a time for a relaxing cruise through the harbor, stopping at a nice beach to snorkel, swim and sun bathe, then out for a sail (we saw whales very close, too). Good trip, and nice because the numbers were small. In Puerto Vallarta we highly recommend the Los Veranos canopy tour -- http://www.canopytours-vallarta.com/. Again, not booked through the ship - you have to book it yourself separately. Very fun, really excellent. We'd do it again in a heartbeat. We did hear from several people that the Stone Island Beach break in Mazatlan was very good. I'd definitely do this cruise again on the Mariner. Excellent ship, excellent service, good level of luxury, lots and lots to do. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2010
Decided to take an easy cruise for Spring Break. Since we are driving distance to Los Angeles, we avoided the cost of flying which, when you add the cost of luggage, can make the trip price increase almost 50%. We arrived at San Pedro at ... Read More
Decided to take an easy cruise for Spring Break. Since we are driving distance to Los Angeles, we avoided the cost of flying which, when you add the cost of luggage, can make the trip price increase almost 50%. We arrived at San Pedro at 12:30. The check-in line was long and took about 40 minutes to get onto the ship. Since only a few months ago we were on the Navigator of the Seas, some of the wow factor of seeing a Voyager class ship was lost. Still, the Mariner looked in better shape then the Navigator. Our balcony was the 2nd one from the front of the ship on deck 9. The balcony had a great view and also let us see into the glass wing which extends from the bridge. The first balcony at the front of the ship also has a glass window looking towards the front of the ship and would be a better selection if given a choice. Still, our cabin was very clean and one of the best we ever had. The only negative thing about the room is that the attendant never put away the sofa bed that our daughter slept on. Cabins are very small and why the attendant did not refold the couch we do not know. A new change we saw on Mariner is that at breakfast, and at lunch, the table attendants place a card with their name on the tables they service. Since everybody now knows who is responsible for cleaning that table, it seems to get the tables cleaned faster. It also lets you select to sit with the same attendant if you like their service/personality. Even though the ship was full with 3596 guests, we never had a problem with tables being stacked with dirty dishes. We also never had a problem finding an empty table. The food was great as usual. The lobster (Friday night)was delicious. The only disappointment with the food is that the soft serve ice cream machine did not open until noon every day. For Cabo San Lucas, we walked to the beach and enjoyed the sand and blue water. We wanted to go para-sailing but it was too windy (for future para-sailers, go first thing in the morning before the winds pick-up). Mazatlan does not have much to offer. Since this was our 3rd cruise there, we just stayed on the ship and enjoyed mini-golf, ping-pong, shuffle board, and the pool with only a few other people around. In Puerto Vallarta, we did the zip line. It was a good time for about $100 each. However, they do not allow you to take photos. After the tour, they will sell you their photos for $15 each, or $29 for all photos they took of a single person. During the tour you wear a bandanna with their logo on it under your helmet. We all thought there were ours to keep as a souvenir. However, after the tour they collected the sweaty bans to reuse them. For a $1 bandanna, Puerta Vallarta Tours came off looking cheap. For a Spring Break cruise the ship was mostly families with only a few college kids. A friend our ours was on the same itinerary, same week, but on the Carnival Ship. He said college kids, and young kids, were all over the place. Unless you enjoy a party boat with drunk kids, it sounds like Royal Caribbean was the right choice. Overall, Mariner of the Seas is one of the best ships we have ever been on. The Captain, and Cruise Director are great. Captain Johnny is one of the best captain we have ever seen. No wonder he is moving to the Allure of the Seas very soon. The rest of the crew was friendly and, even with the ship full, did a great job. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2010
We flew in to LAX on United cross-country (boy coach seating has gotten cramped). Made the mistake of checking 3 bags - $170 roundtrip. Advice - buy the biggest carry-ons you can get away with. We used Prime Shuttle to get to our hotel ... Read More
We flew in to LAX on United cross-country (boy coach seating has gotten cramped). Made the mistake of checking 3 bags - $170 roundtrip. Advice - buy the biggest carry-ons you can get away with. We used Prime Shuttle to get to our hotel in San Pedro. Good price and efficient on-line reservation. Pick up at LAX was quick and efficient. Pick up on our return was a little chaotic as to which van was going where. We stayed at the Clarion in San Pedro. It's an older renovated property. I suspect not as nice as some of others in the area but with a senior rate below $100 it was the best deal around and for one night who cares. There's a 7/11 across the street which allowed us to stock up on soda and bottled water. 5 minute shuttle to the pier but they do charge $5 per person. We arrived at pier at 11 am and we're on the ship by 12:00. Embarkation very smooth, although we've now come to expect that now that virtually everyone does on-line check in. RCL somehow managed to double-book our cabin. It ended up getting us a substantial upgrade to a balcony on deck 10 but it could have become a real headache. Because we booked very late we're forced into RCL's version of anytime dining which requires you to make a reservation each day (although I think you can reserve for the whole cruise at one time). This ended up working out very well since we ended up meeting new and interesting people every night. There are only a limited number of large table so if want to share a table, you need to reserve early in the day. We thought the food was good although not outstanding. A step up our last Carnival cruise but we still think Celebrity is probably a shade better. (We've never sailed on the Holland America or the other higher end lines known for their food). For the first time in our many cruises we eat most of our breakfasts in the dining room. We met more people and the food seemed slightly better. I thought the variety at the buffet had diminished somewhat. Also no grill making burgers by the pool We've sailed on this ship before and it's still as spectacular as we remembered it. Despite the size, things generally didn't feel crowded although that was notable congestion at the elevators right before dinner and after the show. As other reviewers have noted it was cool the first week in March. In fact, on the last sea day before returning to LA it was so cool and windy that it was uncomfortable to be on deck. This may have been a more dramatic change for us since we're used to the Caribbean. Like the food, I'd rate the entertainment as good not great. The comedians were excellent(the late shows particularly). We thought the performers in the production shows were good but the shows themselves were disappointing. Maybe the music has passed us by. The ice show was spectacular and not to be missed. We were surprised on that on Wednesday night there was no show in the main theatre. I never recall seeing that before. They tried to pitch the ice show as the alternative but, of course, that's available all week. The fellow in the piano bar was mediocre but guitar player in the Wig & Gavel was great. (I think he left after that cruise however.) We didn't try any of the other entertainment venues. You need to go the Quest game show - at least once. Having now seen it twice, I may be done. But it is definitely for adults only unless you want explain to your 8 year old what folks are doing when they demonstrate their favorite sexual positions. Service was top drawer everywhere both in the cabins and in the restaurants. The only real annoyance was the orientation lecture for the ports - which was significant since we'd never been to these places. After 45 minutes devoted exclusively to shopping issues, I left. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2010
Cruise to Mexican Riviera March of '10. Stayed at the Embassy South the night before - a great deal at $129 for free cocktails and breakfast. Get a room away from the restaurant as it was a bit loud. At first glance at the Royal ... Read More
Cruise to Mexican Riviera March of '10. Stayed at the Embassy South the night before - a great deal at $129 for free cocktails and breakfast. Get a room away from the restaurant as it was a bit loud. At first glance at the Royal Promenade, it seemed like a mall and I wondered if that would bug us, but they made it so fun that by the end of the cruise we loved it. Magnificent ship - fun (quirky) art, contemporary all around; not stodgy fancy like we found the Ruby Princess to be. A younger crowd, hip, well dressed, not obnoxious although it was spring break, tons of families. Stuff to do nonstop - music trivia, bingo, shows, Meet the Captain, backstage tour, casino, etc. Evening shows were awesome. Don't miss the disco event at the Royal Promenade or the Quest game in Studio B - both an absolutely scream, and if you're half dead you have to go anyway. The captain of this ship is a riot - rides his Harley off the ship and wears red and green socks to "keep the ports straight". The cruise director was awesome too and surprisingly can REALLY sing, as he did on the last night's show. I don't think the cruise activities staff ever sleeps. Crowded in the buffet but what else is new? The teen center kept my 14 year old busy all week long - we rarely saw him except for dinner and here and there - the hugest arcade I have ever seen! He made such good friends for the first time - this is our 4th cruise - they all hugged goodbye and he still keeps in touch. Don't miss the shows and the ice show! Food in the buffet was about as good as food in the dining rooms. Mexico was Mexico - this was a cruise about the ship more than the ports. We did have fun, though. Cabo was great - after we finally tendered over (a hassle) - too choppy for wave running - a waste of money. Mazatlan was okay if you like comparing a poor third world country to the new. Yuck. Skip the old and go right to the new. Puerta Vallarta was our fave - so lush and mountainous. Went to zipline at Garden of Eden where the movie "Predator" was shot - had a surprise massage by Estrella while the guys ziplined which was awesome! She will WORK you over! Handy to have that right there. $50 for one hour. Gals, do it. The guys loved the ziplined but were worn out afterwards. Our favorite ship so far out of Royal Caribbean's Radiance, Carnival Liberty, and Ruby Princess. Fun and hip and crazy!   Read Less
Sail Date: March 2010
We did the Mexican Riviera 7-night on Royal Caribbean's Mariner of the Sea, 3/21/10 - 3/28/10. Very nice cruise and ports. However, if you're accustomed to Caribbean cruises, be aware that the Mexican Riviera is not like the ... Read More
We did the Mexican Riviera 7-night on Royal Caribbean's Mariner of the Sea, 3/21/10 - 3/28/10. Very nice cruise and ports. However, if you're accustomed to Caribbean cruises, be aware that the Mexican Riviera is not like the Caribbean, especially in March! Bottom line: water isn't nearly as clear or warm as the Caribbean, and days at sea are definitely "cool" and likely to be not pool-worthy. Pre-cruise we stayed at the Embassy Suites LAX South. Rooms were typical/nice/functional, and the free breakfast was a real breakfast with a serving line, eggs cooked-to-order, bacon, sausage, the whole nine yards. The first floor public areas of this large hotel absolutely gorgeous with tropical plantings, trees, a pond with real turtles, ducks, birds and a hallway that winds its way through. We've stayed at 4 and 5 star hotels all over the country, but I've never seen anything this unique and well-groomed. We hired a private limo to take us from the hotel to the port, so we were kind of early. Made it to the port by 11:30 am and they were boarding already! We were on the ship by 12:30pm. Well-oiled machine, that port. We were in our cabin by 1pm, luggage arrived around 3pm. Two Rum Runners full of bourbon and a 3L plastic bag o' wine removed from its box made it safely to the room. (YES!!!!). Not to worry, RCCL, we still ran-up a $1200 casino/gift shop/bar bill!!. The bar bill notwithstanding, I still remember enough of the cruise to submit a review, LOL!!! Mariner - we've been on RCCL's Enchantment and Jewel, and a couple Carnival ships. Mariner does not measure up to any we've been on. Food: very disappointing. Windjammer's food was typical - good, but not spectacular. Cook-to-order-egg-people never could get "over medium" eggs right, always runny/slimy. Yuck. Main dining room: Most disappointing we've ever had. Nothing was outright "bad", but nothing was outright "delicious". This might have had something to do with us being at the 2nd seating - it looked like things had been sitting under heat lamps for hours. Some things my wife/daughter just picked at and left uneaten (21 y.o. daughter's boyfriend and I, however, ate everything!). Lobster/shrimp were rubbery and cold. The last night's tempura mahi-mahi - that was pretty good. Waiters were OK, but personalityless. Even the parade of waiters was kind of lame. Whatever happened to RCCL's jovial, gregarious, entertaining waiters? Paid the extra for dinner in Chop$. Service there was impeccable and very formal. The steaks were very good...however, it's difficult to beat the steaks we have here in the family-owned steakhouses in the Midwest. Was it worth the extra $25/person? Yeah, I'd do it again. Johnny Rockets hamburgers were awesome, but you have to pay for those, too. Sigh. Ship: nothing really stands out, and that's a shame. The wooden hand railings on the balconies were worn with the shellac worn off in spots; paint splatters, smudges here and there on the ubiquitous glass/brass everywhere, including the elevators with hand prints all over the glass. Not exactly ship-shape detailing. The Royal Promenade was interesting, but it just isn't....well, "pretty". There's really no central focal point and the 2nd/3rd stories of the store fronts are a dull concrete-gray color. While certainly impressive in size, this ship comes nowhere close to matching the beauty and spotless housekeeping of public areas as Jewel or even Enchantment. I was talking to one of the entertainment staff on one of our shore excursions and he asked how we liked the ship. I replied that the ship was nice, but compared to others...he cut me off and said, "oh, they're a lot cleaner, aren't they?", as if even he's noticed it and/or other people have said the same thing. One REALLY nice feature - I think all of the balcony rooms are cantilevered out over the life boats, so there's an unobstructed view of the water. Final two days of the itinerary were at sea. High temps around 72F. With the ship heading north at 20mph+/- into a 10mph headwind, the "relative" wind speeds were over 30 mph and fairly steady. Not a soul was out on either of the pool decks. There was plenty to do "indoors", but if you're wanting to take a cruise for the balmy tropical warmth and sun, the Mexican Riviera in March is not for you. We knew this before we did the cruise, but it was still kind of a bummer that BOTH days were that cool. We had sweatshirts/jeans, so we were able to enjoy our balcony for a little bit. In the distance we could see whales breaching! Disembarkation: we were assigned to the ice rink theater, had to be there by 8:30 or 9 am. Uneventful. We were off the ship and on our RCCL bus to the airport by 9:30am +/-. It was a little confusing as to where us bus-people were supposed to go, but there were so many RCCL employees around, we had no trouble. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2010
This was a first cruise for my wife and I as well as our eight year old son and ten year old daughter. We had a fantastic time and are already planning our next cruise for the fall. We shared a balcony room which was clean, comfortable ... Read More
This was a first cruise for my wife and I as well as our eight year old son and ten year old daughter. We had a fantastic time and are already planning our next cruise for the fall. We shared a balcony room which was clean, comfortable and well designed. There was plenty of storage and we had no feeling of being cramped even though we had four people in the room. Our room attendant was terrific and seemed to work around the clock to keep everyone happy. The food was decent. Not as great as I have heard from past cruisers but more than acceptable. Our table waiter was amazing and had to deal with three families, each with two kids between 5 and 10 years old. We ate early dinner (6pm) and dinner lasted ~ 2 hours each night. A bit long for the kids, but they loved their table mates so it was not a problem. The pool decks were incredibly crowded and the staff did nothing at all to stop people from saving deck chairs. It was virtually impossible to get four chairs in a row unless you were at the pool by 9am. The port calls were very smooth whether it was by use of tenders in Cabo, or pierside in Mazatlan and Puerto Vallarta. If we do the same cruise again, we will not get off the ship in Mazatlan as it is a dump. We can go to Tiajuana if we want to experience poverty and begging at every step. We made the mistake of booking tours through the ship, which were nothing more than bus rides to all of the local merchants who undoubtedly give kickbacks to the tour company. Next time, we will hook up with a local tour guide or hit the beach and layout all day. The only real issue I had with the cruise was that on our way back to Los Angeles the seas and winds caused one of the aft pools to be closed. They kept one open and held their belly flop contest even though conditions were dangerous. A man struck his head on the pool floor (the water was sloshing around quite a bit and they had people flopping/diving off of a stage) which was traumatic to see. My son actually passed out when he saw all the blood and was taken to medical for an IV which cost us $750. It was very poor judgement by the crew staff to hold the contest under those conditions and our only negative experience on the ship. My kids absolutely loved Adventure Ocean (their kids club on board). They even stayed after hours most nights for a very reasonable $6 per kid per hour. The staff in the kids club was very friendly and kept the kids engaged with activities all day and night long. It was terrific. Drinks are expensive so either commit to not drinking very much or be ready to pay a hefty bill at the end of the cruise. We did not go to many shows, but the ones we did go to were a bit cheesy and not very entertaining. However, Captain Johnny and the staff were always very funny and the staff in general were a fun and service-oriented group. The pool incident aside, we had a great time and look forward to our next cruise on the Mariner of the Seas. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2010
Our flight out was on Alaska Air from DCA to LAX non stop. It, as we have reported before because of the blizzards, was dependent on the previous night's flight arriving from LAX. There was 4 feet of snow on the ground in DC when we ... Read More
Our flight out was on Alaska Air from DCA to LAX non stop. It, as we have reported before because of the blizzards, was dependent on the previous night's flight arriving from LAX. There was 4 feet of snow on the ground in DC when we left. We got fortunate with the weather, the airport re-opened in time and our drive to DCA was uneventful. Thank you state highway snow plow crew. We boarded at the scheduled time, but sat at the gate a good 1/2 hour past departure time. The pilot addessed us and blamed the delay on weather in the middle of the country. We finally took off about 45 minutes late. The entire time on the plane was over seven hours. When we were landing in LAX, we noticed emergency equipment lining our runway. We thought some plane behind us probably had an emergency. NOT, it was our plane. The pilot announced afterwards, he didn't want to alarm us previously, that there was a minor electrical problem. The emergency equipment was standard policy. We used Super Shuttle Exeucar for transport from LAX to San Pedro, as well as the regular SS for disembarking from Mariner back to LAX. Our two day pre- was at the Crowne Plaza in San Pedro, adjacent to the Port of LA. We shopped, toured and dined, etc. for the two days. Our friends Charles and June, who had rented a car, took us on a tour of LA, Hollywood, Beverly Hills and the Tarpits. The San Pedro Brewery was a fun lunch and HH, and dinner and HH at Acapulco's in Port O'Call was very good. There is a streetcar that traverses the waterfront for a local sightseeing tour. We would recommend the CP as a very nice pre- or post- hotel. There was a small lounge on the 10th floor for their frequent guests program, low cost drinks and free apps. They also had their own restaurant and bar. The staff was very good and helpful. Boarding Mariner was very simple and no problems. D and D+ were first to board. And, as usual, had to wait until 1:00 to get to our cabin, JS 9628. That time was easily killed at the WJ and pool bar. Pool bartender Imron became our best friend. Our next best friend became Elizabeth, our cabin attendant. What a pleasure she was and did an excellent job maintaining our cabin. She also kept an eye on a dozen roses that were delivered to Deirdra for Valentine's Day. Thanks, Elizabeth for keeping them healthy for us. We met up with our good friend Captain Charles of our Mardi Gras Krewe and June and did some parade prep work on his balcony as we sailed away with beads in one hand and a drink in the other. We met others from the Krewe at our MTD at 7:30 on deck 5 for dinner. We did very little after dinner, as it was a very looong day. Early to bed. The next day, Monday, was our first day at sea. We had the M&M at 10:30 a.m., followed by our Home Town Gift Exchange and a Krewe meeting. We had our first parade that afternoon, throwing beads thruout the WJ, pool area and Promenade. The Krewe met up with a jazz group that fit right in with our Mardi Gras style. We spent the remainder of the day with them in the Viking Crown Lounge as they performed. Great fun! Monday night was formal night, and the night that we as King and Queen of Mardi Gras, presented a plaque to Mariner Captain Per on the bridge in the Promenade and took formal photos. Captain Per is very friendly and likeable, and we enjoyed his company several times during the cruise. Late dinner that night after the Promenade festivities. Tuesday was Cabo Day. We arranged for a whale watching cruise thru RCCL. Never saw so many whales and dolphins in one afternoon! Couldn't really get any good photos as the boat constantly rocked and the whales would jump up and dive back down within seconds, making for us a difficult pic opportunity. The free margaritas didn't help either. After arriving back at the ship, we were again entertained, as we watched from our balcony, by dolphins and skates. Wednesday we had another boating excursion planned in Mazatlan. As it was raining in the morning, our excursion was cancelled. We exchanged our tickets for a sail boat adventure in PV the next day. More about that exciting trip later in the Thursday segment. Also stopped at the LA later that a.m. to pick up our Mariner crystal block. We took a cab in to town after lunch and did the tourist thing. Wednesday night our Krewe did our last Mardi Gras parade as part of the Promenade 70's show entertainment. Again, a lotta fun. And Cindy, who did the Enchantment Halloween parade with us, can tell you how much fun our parades really are! Can't wait to tell you about our Thursday sailing adventure . . . More tomorrow. Day 5, Mariner, Puerto Vallarta As we were waiting in line to cancel our rained out Mazatlan excursion on Wednesday morning, we met a very nice couple, Chris and Pete. We were at a loss as to what to book in PV for Thursday. They suggested that we go on the Banderas Bay sailboat excursion with them. Ok, sounded fine. We turned in our Mazatlan tickets and booked the sailing trip. It included food and drinks, snorkeling, beach, etc. Thursday morning came and it was a beautiful day with plenty of sun. It was a short walk to the tour dock from the Mariner's pier. The 44-foot sail boat was arriving as we got there. Off we go sailing into the Banderas Bay, looking for whales, dolphins, etc. The first two hours were a lot of fun. Saw the marine life, learned some PV history and trivia from the two man crew. The weather continued to be outstanding as they served a shrimp and dip with chips snack. We soon neared a beach where the anchor was dropped and the snorkling equipment was given out. Deirdra and her new friend Chris jumped in to snorkel. Pete and Rick just stayed on board to guard the rum punch and margaritas from any Banderas Bay banditos. After quite a while, the swimmers came back on board. Lunch was served on real plates.Tuna salad, roast beef, sushi, rolls, cheeses, etc. A delicious meal with more bevvies. We were continually thanking Chris and Pete for telling us about this tour. The Captain mentioned how clouds were forming several miles away and decided we better start heading back sooner than later. The anchor was raised and off we went. The sails were up and we were on course for PV and Mariner, about 5-6 miles away. All at once, it got darker and darker, rain started falling and the wind picked up. The crew decided we better drop the sails and go with the engine if we were to beat an upcoming squaw. Didn't work. The squaw hit before the sails were all the way down. The boat and sails got caught in a cross wind and all Hell broke loose. We tilted to an almost 45 degree list and everyone started slipping and sliding. Ropes and rigging were flying everywhere. One guy almost went overboard. We hunkered down as low as we could and grabbed on to anything we could to hold us still, including each other. We remained this way for maybe ten minutes, but it seemed like an hour. The crew finally got the boat stable. All loose ends were tied down and everyone was still on board. It was raining cats and dogs, the wind ripping and visibility less than 50 meters. The boat was rocking in 8-10 foot waves, but we were thru the worse. The Captain said we were probably two hours from the port, considering the nasty weather. OK, two hours of rain, wind, little visibility . . . but we all were safe. It could have been much worse. We tried to insert a little humor here and there to give some fun to a bad situation. We said to Chris and Pete, "Thanks guys. Great trip." Than we all laughed about our current situation. The worse was indeed over, now just a long, wet trip back. We arrived back at the port within the Captain's two hour estimate. It was still raining as we headed back to Mariner. There were other water excursions that day, and we saw many others who were just as wet as we were, but they were just wet from the rain, and had not experienced the almost tragedy we did. Heard that one Mariner guest was trying to get OBC because of the bad weather. Thursday night was much better than Thursday afternoon. The Nelson Brothers were on stage doing their "Ricky Nelson Remembered" show. If you grew up with "Ozzie and Harriet", as we did, you were especially delighted with this performance. It was outstanding. Friday, a day at sea, was highlighted by "Ice Under the Big Top", the skating show down in Studio B. Once again, as with other RCCL ice shows we've seen, we were thrilled at the skating that they can do on that small rink. Friday morning featured the "Walk for Wishes" charity. For $10 you got a tee shirt and walked a mile for the "Make a Wish" foundation, a worthy charity. Mariner sold 320 shirts on the pool deck, breaking the record of 300 sold the week before. We became familiar with the "Make a Wish" when we did the "MAW" Oasis one day charity cruise last November from Port Everglades. We were very happy to help them again. We also had our "Cabin Crawl". We had our JS decorated for Mardi Gras and it really look great. It was a big hit. Our cabin JS 9628 was on the hump and a bit bigger than the average JS. Saturday, another sea day, was our last full day on Mariner. We were scheduled for a 9:30 Back Stage tour, 10:00 Captains's Corner in the theater, 11:00 Bridge tour and a 1:30 Galley tour. We met Captain Per backstage as our tour was winding down and he was getting ready to go on with his Captain's Corner show. He noticed our Oasis hats that we wore and asked how we liked Oasis. He was not the only one. It was amazing how many guests, and crew, when seeing our hats enquired about Oasis. We were indeed happy to answer all their questions. After a day or two of this we were actually walking advertisements for Oasis. The bridge tour was cool. Deirdra actually sat in Captain Per's chair on the bridge. 5x7 photos are available for $6.95. We had lunch in the dining room (very good) and then went for the galley tour. Another interesting and learning experience about what goes on in the 'kitchen'. Packing and un-decorating of the cabin took up most of the rest of the day. Dining on Mariner was very good. We had dinner every night in the MDR with our MTD. Breakfast was split between the WJ, CL and dining room. Lunch was WJ, dining room twice, or on tour just before all Hell broke loose. Amazing that lunch was kept down by all thru that perfect storm. Disembarking from Mariner was very easy. Our Alaska Air flight was not until 1:05 and it was Sunday. Traffic to the airport should be light. We took our time getting off, and going thru customs/immigrations was quick. Super Shuttle was waiting for us and the drive to LAX was easy. The flight to DCA was far easier than the one from DCA. Everything clicked. Weather was fine, plane left OT, and arrived a bit early with the prevailing west to east winds. Alaska Air has these little picnic boxes for $6. We each had one (different flavors) coming and going. Financially speaking, you could pack your own for $2. But this kinda was a time killer and small adventure to sea what all these little boxes contained. All were northwest treats that we can't find at home. That and a beverage made for a better flight. When we left on Feb. 12, we had 4 feet of snow on the ground. Coming home on Sunday, we only had two feet on the ground. Guess that's progress. Would we fly to LAX again to cruise form San Pedro? If enough friends would come along, probably. But that time change, and six plus hours in the air, at least for us, is a killer. Sea you all on board some day soon! Rick and Deirdra Rick and Deirdra Read Less
Sail Date: February 2010
We said on Mariner of the Seas from 2/14/10 through 2/21/10. Embarked/Disembarked through Los Angeles, and the 7 day cruise sailed to the Mexican Riviera (Cabo, Mazatlan, Puerto Vallarta). We had sailed on 2 previous cruises, both on ... Read More
We said on Mariner of the Seas from 2/14/10 through 2/21/10. Embarked/Disembarked through Los Angeles, and the 7 day cruise sailed to the Mexican Riviera (Cabo, Mazatlan, Puerto Vallarta). We had sailed on 2 previous cruises, both on Princess (Alaska and the Baltics). We are a family of 4 (Mom/Dad/Daughter 11, Son 6). RESERVATION: Made reservation in November on a "Wow" sale, got a great fare on a balcony cabin, reduced deposit, and $100 onboard credit. I researched the prices online, but used the RCI 800 number for the reservation, and the agent was great. She walked us through the dinner process on RCI and other things we should know. It was incredibly easy. EMBARKATION: We live in SF Bay Area, so we drove about 5 hours to the Port of LA. Very easy to drive to (405 to the Harbor Fwy, follow signs). The signage isn't great at the Port, but we were surprised how close we actually parked, we were only about 200 feet from the luggage gathering/check in area. The cost for parking was $12/day or $84/week... that plus gas was much cheaper than airfare for 4 to LA, even with cheap fares. Check-in was very smooth and organized. One thing we did notice however was employees on the ship were very scattery and not much into talking the first day. After getting to know a lot of them, I understand why... the turnover for RCI and a ship that large is intense, and they don't really settle in until Monday. So whereas I experienced a more personal initial greeting by Princess, it was't as great with RCI. CABIN: Balcony cabin with quad occupancy on the 10th floor. The kids slept on a pull out Futon which they were okay with. Our bed seemed to be a little bigger than a queen, seemed larger than Princess. The steward was friendly, helpful, and made the famous RCI towel animals. Space to store things was as good or better than Princess... ample room in the closet area, and lots of drawers/shelves in convenient places. 2 foot space between curtains and balcony door was really convenient to store suitcases, etc. along with under the bed. The shower was a lot better than Princess because of the bowed out glass enclosure vs. the plastic sheet that sticks to you. The cabin was up to date and incredibly clean. The only downside is the TV's are not flat screened, the picture is bad, and the TV content is a lot worse than Princess. We were there during the Olympics and no coverage. The movies were very limited and repeated way to many times. They claim they have some sort of high end RCI network for TV, but I didn't like the selection or quality at all. PUBLIC ROOMS: Liked the Promenade as it was a central area (like a downtown). Had space and lighting, and always a source for activity. The stores were a little bland, focusing on jewelry, clothes, and liquor mostly. Nothing too exciting shopping wise, but the ship did have some really good sales and we actually bought watches (I'm usually never interested in shopping on the ship). Many of the Bars/gathering areas were very open and spacious, more than Princess in my opinion. FITNESS AND RECREATION: The sports court and outdoor activity area were great. They were more than adequately staffed and updated. The rock climbing was excellent and fun. The inline skating was great (skates were nice and brand new). The mini-golf was fun and open. The running track wound through the lounging area, so you really can't run too effectively. The fitness center is excellent, with lots of machines and even free weights. The classes were good and inexpensive (took Yoga for $12). I didn't think there was much pressure for fitness/spa services, even though some reviews thought so. They do a great job with Fitness/Activity type things. PHOTOGRAPHY: I thought they were a lot poorer than Princess. They have electronic viewing and we had our pictures mixed in with lots of other families and the machine kept freezing. The photographers were amateurish and pushy (making you move all around the dinner table right when you are eating). The viewing area was blah. Comparably on Princess we loved the photography. We had a family canvas taken and it was extremely professional and affordable. They could upgrade a lot here. DINING: Overall we liked most everything about it. The dining room is roomy, open, and well lit. The design was really cool, with the 3 individual decks having rooms that were all connected in a Foyer. It really works... doesn't feel overly large. Our waiter was Bogdan from Romania and assistant was Alina from Romania, they were excellent. The head waiter was great as well. They were extremely friendly and helpful, even suggesting things to us. They wanted to make sure were had a great trip. The family time dining is nice, our kids got picked up at 6:40p so we could slow our dinner down and enjoy things with just the 2 of us, and they liked eating a quick dinner with us off the kids menu. I wish however they had more shellfish selections, that is more of a staple on Princess (and what I hear other lines). We would have went to Chops Grill if they had lobster or crab, but it was limited to meats (granted they looked like Ruths Chris/Mortons) but even they have a giant shrimp cocktail. The Windjammer setup was nice, food was okay, but we still prefer the dining areas. However I felt the buffet was better than Princess. The dining room was tied with Princess. Crown Grill on Princess topped the RCI specialties. We didn't like the fact the buffet closed at 9pm either... Cafe Promenade was a good idea, but not enough variety. Room service was good, but overall I really liked the Pizza/Burgers/Dogs on Princess and the ones on RCI were pretty ordinary. Ben and Jerry's in the Promenade is over-rated. They have a self-serve frozen yogurt machine on the pool deck--- it was good and popular. RCI didn't have any special gatherings for food (Princess had chocolate buffet, reindeer chili, eat around the pool, etc.) Johnny Rockets is a cool idea, but at $5 cover its just like going to it on mainland. Malts are an additional $5 so your family of 4 costs $40 plus-- no real "deal" ENTERTAINMENT: The ice show is a novel idea, but if you've seen a lot of Disney on Ice type shows, its a step down from that. The best part of the ice is that you can skate on it during public skating hours... easy and fun. The production shows were cheesier than Princess, the performers didn't seem very talented and we actually walked out (a first). The outside performers were okay, swedish acrobats, comedians, and a pretty good tribute show from Ricky Nelson's sons. Lounge acts were okay, nothing special. Cinema on 2nd floor is uncomfortable and a glorified living room. Should show more movies in theatre or a movies under the stars concept like Princess. SERVICE: Stewards and Restaurant people were excellent. Front Desk was rude and abrupt. Sports/activity people were excellent. Cruise Director staff were fake friendly... much more personal and friendly on Princess in my opinion. Captain was friendly and accessible, something that didn't happen on Princess. One thing we noticed though is that on the first muster we seemed to be lectured on conduct rules, and it makes you think you're on a big party boat and the police will be watching. Our family isn't used to being treated like that. KIDS PROGRAM: Was excellent. Have an 11 year old and 6 year old, and they loved it. Check-in/Check-out was much easier than Princess. More space to play, staff was friendly. Lots of activity and diversity. Video arcade is a rip off--- takes your cruise card but most games you pay either 25c or 50c for at a regular arcade are 95c or 1.25 on board. It can be costly really quickly. EXCURSIONS: Last but not least, and the reason we may never take RCI again even though there were many good things about it was our shore excursion to Las Caletas (Puerto Vallarta). It is the premium Snorkel/Kayak/Swim excursion in the Puerto Vallerta port, its about an hour boat ride there, and about a 6-7 hour excursion. The price seemed good $98/adult $51/kids which included lunch. The large catamaran was new and safe, we were provided lifejackets prior to boarding, and there were complimentary drinks on the way out. They also searched for humpback whales and we saw about 5 on the way out, along with dolphins and skipjacks. We got there in about 1.5 hours and went right to lunch. It was a decent buffet, kind of like windjammers. Right after lunch we went to get our snorkel gear, and a terrible storm came in. One of those storms where the Palms bend to ground and the swells were 2-4m high. The staff informally closed the beach, but didn't enforce it and soon there were about about 25 drunk people in the water and about 5-6 got caught in swells. Fortunately one of the customers was trained in rescue and got lifejackets out to them, they could have easily drowned. They staff members really didn't think that safety was their concern. We took shelter in a hut with about 100 other people, and waited out the storm. The storm never really ended and the return boat showed up to take us back. I think it was questionable that we even went on the water with swells like that, but even so... they were not prepared. We boarded the boat without lifejackets and the gangway was a 10 foot piece of swinging metal... many elderly almost fell into the water, and the staff seemed untrained in boarding in conditions like this. When we got on, lifejackets were not in sight and not brought out till 15 minutes in when they told all kids to wear them (couldn't get them out to adults). The activity leader Cesar and the bartenders continued their heavy drinking then gave a speech about how they rely on tips, rather than worrying about our safety. It was the most unprofessional, most dangerous situation I've ever seen and they downplayed it and encouraged the customers to drink with them. IF YOU CARE ABOUT YOUR FAMILY, DON'T GO ON THIS EXCURSION!!! Overall: Again, we liked a lot of the cruise, and if we hadn't experienced the incident at Las Caletas we would highly recommend everything. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2010
Traveling to San Pedro was my wife Donna and myself. We have sailed the Mariner several times before and were looking forward to sailing her on the west coast. We flew Southwest into LAX the day before and booked the Crowne Plaza stay ... Read More
Traveling to San Pedro was my wife Donna and myself. We have sailed the Mariner several times before and were looking forward to sailing her on the west coast. We flew Southwest into LAX the day before and booked the Crowne Plaza stay & sail package. This includes round trip transportation from the airport to the hotel, hotel to ship, and the return all the way to the airport. We were assigned room #332 (corner room) that was more of a suite than a standard room. How lovely! It had a living room, office area and large bedroom with windows looking out over the port. Transfers were painless. The room was clean and comfortable. The food downstairs in the restaurant was good although you can walk around the corner to a Subway or other restaurants if desired. Also within walking distance is a liquor store. Day 1, San Pedro. We took the shuttle to the port early in the morning. When we got there we were the first ones let in. I was surprised there was no "Diamond - Platinum Waiting Area" but this is understandable since the building is the oldest on site. Check in was swift and painless. Boarding started about 11am. Sail away was nice although the muster was in the middle of the Super Bowl! The race was on to get my stool back. The bartender did a great job maintaining order as my spot was reserved and my beers were iced down! We decorated our cabin & door and signed up for the My Time dining. Dinner was good. We were in cabin 8620, a center hump balcony, Category E1. Day 2, Day at Sea. The weather definitely left a lot to be desired. Chilly is the norm, but the skies were overcast for most of this sailing. A vacation is what you make of it and is not always dependent upon the weather. We had a nice "meet & mingle" where we were surprised by a couple from Colorado who brought us a bottle of "girly grog"! We did the poker cabin crawl next. It went off well. I believe everyone had a good time and we had quite a variety of cabins on the crawl. Thanks again to those who participated & congratulations to the winners! Day 3 Cabo. In Cabo San Lucas, we privately booked a whale watching tour with some fellow cruise critic members with Pez Gato tours. We strolled around town early and had lunch at one of the restaurants overlooking the harbor. When we went to meet Pez Gato tours for our 2pm scheduled tour, we were informed that the boat broke! We all were kind of bummed out but were given a few choices of alternate boats to see the whales. We choose "Alex Fernandez's Mexican Cruise" (Local phone 044-624-100-5499). It was an older catamaran manned by a father & son team. Although it took a while to get out there, they did not disappoint us. We got to see plenty of whales surfacing from a close but safe distance. I would join them again given the circumstances. Bravo! Finished off the evening with dinner at Chop's at sail away! Yummmmm! Day 4, Mazatlan. We went on the same tour as last year booked thru the ship. Sierra Madre, Copala & Concordia. Eleazar was our guide this time. We stopped at a brickyard & then a furniture place where they were making furniture & pottery. Next it was off to Concordia where there is an old church and some street venders. The next stop is the best! Copala....there is a mute man there who makes these masks out of animal skins. We made a beeline to his hut and bought a few. There is an old church here too. Lunch is provided on this tour with a band playing in a small restaurant. Food was good (especially the banana cream pie!). Last stop the Golden zone for shopping. I do recommend this tour for those looking to see more of the Mexican culture. Also, on this day, someone stole over half our door decorations. It is a shame that people are so selfish sometimes. We are used to losing 1 thing from our door on a cruise...but to steal 4-5 things was unacceptable. My wife put a note up next to the door asking for their return and stating that we do this for everyone's enjoyment, not just theirs. By Thursday night, they even stole this note! Day 5, Puerto Vallarta. Again the skies were overcast with some brief sprinkles in the morning. We had booked the Fun, Sun, Snorkel & Beach Break tour thru the ship. I have to admit I was tempted to cancel it due to the weather...but decided to make the best of it. Bravo to the crew who did their best to give us a day to remember. The excursion had an open bar during the trip. We had dolphins swimming next to us on the way out to the beach area. Water was rough due to the weather, but boy was it warm! We snorkeled off the boat for a bit, then one of the guides myself and 2 others snorkeled in to the beach while the others were taken by tender from the catamaran to the beach. Beer & margaritas were served and we had a good hour or so to play on the beach. On the way back they served fajitas and then they had some dance contests and such fun I couldn't help but to join in. We all had quite a few laughs and smiles on the way back. When we got back, we had a stranger knock on our door and give us a pirate head made from a coconut. He said he wanted us to have it and felt bad because of our decorations being pilfered. This made our day!. It just goes to show that for every bad apple, there is a good one....And yes we will decorate our door next time!!!!! To finish off the evening, it was Portofino's at sail away! Excellent! Day 6, Day at Sea I will take this day and fill you in on some other details as we spent the day enjoying the ocean and the weather (finally). Our cabin steward was Ni Luh ....This was our first female cabin steward, but she was on top of it for sure! Cabin was spotless, Ice buckets full and even kept my beer on ice. She is a very sweet girl and we hope to stay in contact with her. Abi was our waiter...top notch! I believe the assistant was Milton who we have had before on this ship. We asked for them every night in the dining room. We did have one bad waiter at lunch in the dining room who's name I can't recall...but other than him, the crew was wonderful as always. Special thanks to Arlene who was working the bar at Sorrento's and Joseph who was in the Solarium bar. We did attend the Broadway shows which were very good. Also, we attended the comedian and the quest where a lot of laughs were had. We really enjoyed the pub entertainer, Jimmy Blakemore and also Angelo in the schooner bar. Both were very good. We did attend the music trivia...Bjorn was a hoot! And I even had enough time to come in 3rd place in the belly flop contest! Ouchie! This cruise we did skip the ice shows and also Bobby Arvon. I guess it is hard to take it all in Day 7, Day at Sea. Alas, all good things must come to an end. We packed up early & just kicked it. I believe I freaked out the cabin steward by making her a special towel animal.....a 6ft tall, 4 ft around towel person made from the RCL robes ,towels, and pillows. Completing the towel dude was a towel baby (made with coconut head mentioned above) and an ice cold beer. We also put together a slot pull in the casino. Turnout was light, but we had a great time and all wound up winners! Thanks to those who participated. Day 8, Get the heck off! Debarkation was a little sloppy. All your luggage was lined up in the port and it was a free for all. We did the tour of LA through the ship and had a good time. One recommendation...if RCCL is going to keep a big ship in San Pedro, Build an updated facility and lose the cheesy scaffolding that serves as a ramp to get on and off the ship. The Mariner has been here a year and the scaffolding is tacky and CHEAP! Overall, we had a great time on this trip. The weather sucked, but the friends we made more than made up for it. Thank you all! Read Less
Sail Date: February 2010
This was the second cruise for my wife and me and the first for our kids. My wife and I are 39 & 41 respectively and we have an 8 year old daughter and a 5 ½ year old son. As a bit of a background on us, we tend to spend our vacation ... Read More
This was the second cruise for my wife and me and the first for our kids. My wife and I are 39 & 41 respectively and we have an 8 year old daughter and a 5 ½ year old son. As a bit of a background on us, we tend to spend our vacation dollars on fewer but better vacations - so we go for better hotels & restaurants as this is a big part of our enjoyment of a vacation. With that in mind you can judge for yourself whether our experience and opinions would be similar to yours ? So -- we opted for a suite instead of two adjoining cabins as there wasn't much cost difference and we really wanted the additional space both inside and on the balcony and were not disappointed. We also really liked the suite amenities that were included, as we weren't sure going in how well the kids would do with the more formal cruise dinner experience (suite guests can order anything off the dinner menu for in-room dining, though we didn't end up doing this as the kids were fine at dinner). Some of the better suite amenities: big bathroom w/jacuzzi tub, full shower, and dual sinks, very spacious balcony with 2 chaise lounges and a table w/2 chairs, nice bathrobes and 4 pool towels all included and replaced every day. The balcony was great for morning coffee, as was the reserved seating for all onboard shows (show them your suite keycard and you get prime seats with no waiting in line at all shows). Other great things on this ship: 1) The kids' club (Adventure Ocean) is safe, varied, FREE and a HUGE convenience for parents who want time to enjoy dessert & coffee after dinner, take a walk on the deck, swim or read for an hour or so here and there yet still want something fun for the kids to do -- the staff & program of Adventure Ocean kept both our 8 and 5 year old very entertained and actually asking to go back...no small accomplishment, especially given our kids who are both very active and would definitely be resistant to anything boring or overly-scripted. 2) Lots of fun active things to do: miniature golf (9 holes and a bit challenging on a moving ship, but still fun), large (30') rock climbing wall, indoor ice skating rink, basketball court, in-line skating track, ping pong, shuffleboard, big video arcade (though pricey), 3 pools (all kinda small), 6 hot tubs (most covered so still nice even if it's raining) -- and the pools/hot tubs are open 24/7 and they have 1 pool and 3 hot tubs that are adults only which is nice for those who don't have kids or whose kids are elsewhere. 3) Top notch personal attention from wait staff and room stewards...always responsive and proactive, never overbearing. Concierge was OK -- helpful when asked but not exactly forthcoming with service. Room was always clean, nicely attended to. Dinner wait staff worked hard to accommodate both the fact that we had small children (allowed us to pre-order the next night's dinner each evening to speed up service) and that our family has a couple of dietary restrictions (gluten in particular) that could have been a challenge for them but which was expertly attended to. Downsides / minor annoyances 1) As a number of others have mentioned, the food quality was only so-so, particularly the meats and desserts. This must be taken in context that they are trying to serve 3,200 multiple course dinners every night, 1,600 at a time. Still, as food is a big deal to many cruisers it should be noted that you're not going to get four star steakhouse type food. I ordered the filet mignon from their specialty Chops restaurant for an extra $15 one evening (an option every night in the main dining room, which is nice) and it *was* better, but was still somewhat overcooked and overly salted. Their steaks & beef in general did not fare as well as the pork, chicken, and fish. Salads, soups, and breads were quite good and desserts were random, varying from excellent (key lime pie, chocolate brownie sandwich) to the dry/gelatinous/incomprehensible (steamed coconut pudding, blueberry "mousse", dessert medley). The breakfasts (we mostly ordered room service) were decent -- though the use powdered eggs for scrambled eggs which were disgusting -- omelets, bacon, sausage, cereal, pastries, coffee, and tea were all decent to good (and as a suite guest you can pretty much write in what you want on the door hanger and they'll bring it, so feel free to go off menu). Lunches in the Windjammer Cafe were also decent, but just that. One other tip as a suite guest (which you have to discover yourself for some reason) is that for both breakfast & lunch the Chops Grill dining room is reserved for suite guests -- they don't serve the Chops menu, but you can always get a table even at the high traffic breakfast/lunch times and they have a wait staff to bring you drinks. This is very useful for families as it is otherwise hard to get a table in the main areas. Finally, as for the bars on board, we used them very little as the drinks were expensive and packed almost no punch. I'd read that a number of people smuggle their own alcohol on board and thought about it, but then decided it wasn't worth the hassle. If you *do* was a decent drink on board (other than wine, which is decent on board), you will need to bring your own...or pay $20 for a decent double from the bar. 2) A few minor annoyances (and again, these *are* minor, but just so you're aware): even in our suite there were only two 110v outlets. In this day & age where everybody has electronics, this makes for a kind of a pain...also there's not one near the coffee pot, so you have to take it into the bedroom to make coffee...wireless internet is available on board (they say it doesn't work in your stateroom, but it does just fine), but it's 55 cents per minute. No surfing for fun while on board, just a quick check on the news/e-mail for $4/day. The suites do have two data taps in them, but I didn't pack my own network cable and there was no information on how/if these worked/what they cost to use. There's an internet-enabled room on board with perhaps 8 computers and a printer too if you didn't bring your own. Forget cell phone service once you leave L.A. though unless you want to pay $8/min, $18/MB for phone/data access. Excursions In general the shore excursions were good - we did the beach resort in Cabo, the city tour in Mazatlan, and the whale watching trip in Puerto Vallarta. Of the three, we definitely felt like the whale watching and beach resort were good and the Mazatlan tour just OK. Our kids were also a bit put off by the somewhat aggressive street vendors and the chaos/dirtiness of Cabo - it definitely felt more like a border town than the two larger cities, and Puerto Vallarta was absolutely a cut above the other two in terms of always feeling safe and like you were in a more organized, well-run city. Shows We went to the ice show as well as two of the song & dance shows...all were OK - if you're not expecting Vegas or Broadway you'll probably be fairly entertained. Which is to say that of the singers & dancers you have probably 1/3 who are quite talented and the others...less so. Same for the ice show - much had been made of this but in the one we saw three of the eight skaters fell during their numbers which was a detraction. Overall I'd give the cruise a solid 4 out of 5 stars overall, with the food being only a 3. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2010
PRE-CRUISE: Stayed at the Crown Plaza Hotel in San Pedro. Hotel was nice and room comfortable. Not much to do in San Pedro so would probably stay in Long Beach next time as it cost us $60 RT to go to the Aquarium and there seemed to be ... Read More
PRE-CRUISE: Stayed at the Crown Plaza Hotel in San Pedro. Hotel was nice and room comfortable. Not much to do in San Pedro so would probably stay in Long Beach next time as it cost us $60 RT to go to the Aquarium and there seemed to be much more to do. EMBARKATION: Crown Plaza shuttle took us to the port--first come first served. We were there at 11 am and on the ship by 11:45 am since were were in the Diamond group allowed to board first. CABIN: We had a Jr. Suite for the first time. It was great having all the extra room and the roomy closet. Now we are spoiled and will probably book it on other cruises. DINING: We had traditional dining. Our waiters were excellent. Food was exceptionally good for being mass produced. We ate at Chops once and Portofino twice. Both were excellent and I would recommend them highly. Missed dinner one night so went to Johnny Rockets. What a fun place. Waiters dance and sing and the passengers can join in if they want to. Better entertainment than the theater on some nights! The only negative at dinner in the dining room was the photographers interrupting you to take pictures. SHOWS: Tended to be a little boring except for the Nelson Brothers. Their tribute to their dad, Rick Nelson, was excellent. EXCURSIONS: We only did one excursion and that was whale watching in Cabo. We didn't see too many whales that day--I saw lots more in Alaska. That was a little dissapointing. PORTS: Cabo was a nice beach town. Had lunch at a beach restaurant before our excursion but the local people selling everything under the sun was so bad we couldn't enjoy the scenery while having lunch. They would come to your table and try to talk you into buying. It was very irritating. In Mazatlan we met with a friend who owns a B & B there and she took us on a tour of the town and lunch. It was the best day of the cruise. Puerto Vallerta we had massages at a local resort for $32 each then went shopping and had lunch. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2010
My husband and I take two vacations a year...one for just us and one for the entire family. We love to cruise and have travelled previously with Royal Caribbean on Rhapsody of the Seas to the Western Caribbean and Freedom of the Seas to ... Read More
My husband and I take two vacations a year...one for just us and one for the entire family. We love to cruise and have travelled previously with Royal Caribbean on Rhapsody of the Seas to the Western Caribbean and Freedom of the Seas to the Eastern Caribbean. We live in California so we set off for Los Angeles from the Central Valley. It was less than a four hour drive and we arrived at the San Pedro port at approximately 11:20 a.m. EMBARKATION - By following the signs we drove around the parking lot and dropped off our luggage with a porter. Royal Caribbean had mailed us our luggage tags beforehand so this was a fast and time efficient process as our luggage had been pre-tagged at home. We then found a parking space ($84 for the week) and took the short walk to the building where we went through security fairly quickly. We were directed to a queue to check in and given a group number. At the window we displayed our passport, signed our documents and presented our credit card to the representative. We were then given our Sea Pass cards and asked to take a seat in the lobby. After a short wait, group numbers were called and those guests were asked to start boarding the ship. We walked onto the Mariner at noon and headed up to the Windjammer for a buffet lunch. Now I had read the reviews before we left for the cruise that said the food on the Mariner was lacking. This was not our experience. We found the Windjammer to be clean, the staff friendly and attentive, and the food fresh and appetizing. We ate in the Windjammer several times during our cruise with no problems or complaints. Guests were told as we boarded that staterooms would be ready at 1:00. My husband and I prefer an inside stateroom because other than showering and sleeping, we aren't there much and would rather spend our money on other things. We were in stateroom 8211 and it was clean and waiting for us at the promised time. We dropped off our carry ons and headed out to explore the ship. We found Mariner to be very easy to navigate. We walked around the ship and then found a place to sit on the Royal Promenade to review the schedule for the day and have a glass of wine. Information booths were set up on the Royal Promenade for various activities and services that were available on the Mariner. We decided to take a tour of the Spa as we wanted to set up appointments for each of us for a massage the next day which was to be our first sea day. We were given a very informational tour and met many of the spa personnel and learned what the spa had to offer. We made an appointment for the Couples Massage and an hour in the Rasul Chamber (more on this wonderful experience later!!!) immediately following our massages. After the spa tour we returned to our stateroom to start getting ready for dinner and we met our stateroom attendant, Daniel. Throughout the week Daniel provided us with excellent service. He was friendly and always greeted us in the hall with a smile. He would ask about our day and how we were enjoying the cruise. The first night we dined in the Sound of Music Dining Room but we had been placed at a table where three couples were vacationing with their seven between them) pre-teen and teenage children. We sat with the parents at an eight person table while the teenagers sat at the table behind us. My husband and I were fine with this and found the teenagers to be well-behaved and the parents interesting to talk to. They kept apologizing for the situation but we didn't think anything about it. They next day we received a note that we had been moved to the Top Hot and Tails Dining room (I believe the parents asked us to be moved thinking we would enjoy the dining room experience more since we weren't travelling with our own children) We would have been fine if they had left us there but being moved turned out to be a blessing. We were seated at a six person table with two couples who we had alot in common with. My husband and I feel like we've met some long-term friends and have exchanged emails with them since returning home. Our waiter was Niranjan and our assistant waiter was Mete. They were so good to us all week. Our head waiter was a very elegant Filipino man who was attentive and very accessible (I'm sorry, I can't spell his name). He de-shelled my shrimp entree one night and my lobster entree another. I just can't say enough about the service we received or the quality of the food we were presented with. I'm not a foodie but I'm not going to eat bad food either. I can't criticize one thing about our dining room experience. After dinner we changed into more comfortable clothes and headed to the Royal Casino to try our luck. In our experience on every ship we've been on, the casino tends to be really tight. There isn't much winning going on. (Although, I can't say that Vegas is very good to me very often either!) I actually played for quite awhile before finally losing my $40. Off and on all week we gambled after dinner and I ended up bring home a Royal Casino t-shirt with the points I earned on my SeaPass card. We then visited the Cafe Promenade and had a croissant sandwich (loved the ham and cheese!), a great cookie and hot tea. We were then ready to call it a day and headed up to our stateroom. The Cafe Promenade is a great place to grab a snack 24 hours a day. Hot coffee, hot chocolate, hot tea and ice water are available plus breakfast baked goods in the morning, sandwiches at other times, cookies and desserts and fresh fruit. The next morning after having a blueberry muffin and hot tea in the Cafe Promenade, we headed up to the spa for our appointments. We had a wonderful relaxing and much needed hour massage. Our therapists were wonderful. It is the Rasul Chamber than I HAVE to rave about and you HAVE to book this experience for you and your special someone! The Rasul is a room for a couple to use where you have a private steam room and shower. You spend an hour giving each other an exfoliating scrub, facial and body mask and then apply lotion to each other. It was so romantic and totally relaxing. I will book this every cruise from now on. This cruise we didn't attend any of the production shows. Normally we do but this trip we decided to try activities we missed on our other cruises. We sat through a seminar on art history and the methods artists used for creating their art in Boleros. We attended the Port and Shopping Guide presentation in Studio B and was able to learn about the ports we were visiting. We went to a Trivia Challenge session in the Schooner Bar and it was alot of fun. We attended the Quest one night in Studio B and that was a hilarious event. (It is adult-themed and not for the easily offended but this is not to be missed by us from now on) We went to the Karaoke Superstar Finals in the Savoy Theater and WOW!, we had some talented singers on our ship! Usually we play every session of Bingo but we only made it to the Final Session this time that followed the Karaoke Superstar Finals. We had a drink in the Schooner Bar and listened to Angelo play the piano and sing well-known songs that we could sing along with. We thoroughly enjoyed the Crown and Anchor Society's Welcome Back Party. Drinks were replaced frequently and appetizers were offered to us. There was great music being played. Captain Per gave a talk and discussed what was new with Royal Caribbean and what we could expect in the future. It was a very nice event. We sat in the spa in the Solarium after dinner one night and had a relaxing soak all by ourselves. They close that section surprisingly early to clean and while you can go to the other pool, it was windy this trip so I was too cold. The spas are smaller at the main pool and tend to be more crowded too. Please note that the saunas and the spa inside the ShipShape Center is open to everyone but they close at 8pm. Two things I didn't like and was disappointed in on Mariner: was the system for obtaining pool towels and the availability of deck chairs. You have to check out towels now at the pool instead of being given two in your stateroom and then being able to exchange them at the pool for clean ones. Also, if you don't return them by 10pm on the last day, you are charged for them. I was also disappointed that on the last two sea days available lounge chairs were nonexistent and while deck attendants are supposed to make available chairs that have been empty for 30 minutes or more, we couldn't find a place to enjoy the sunny day after walking around the entire deck area of both pools and the multiple levels. That was very frustrating! DISEMBARKATION- The smoothest disembarkation we have ever had! We met in the Savoy Theater about 15 minutes before our scheduled departure time. They had juice, coffee, etc. available for us. Our group was called and we were led off the ship, down the escalator to a large hanger where our luggage was waiting for us. A porter loaded our luggage onto a cart and guided us through the customs line where we turned in our form. He pushed our cart of luggage out to the parking lot where I got the car while my husband waited with the porter until I drove up. The porter loaded our car and we were off! Off the ship and in the car in twenty minutes or less. I only have high praise for the Mariner and it's staff. We would definitely sail again on this ship and this itinerary. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2010
We (my mother, father, and best friend-17) arrived in Los Angeles a couple days early before our trip. This is our fourth cruise on RCI and our second on the Mariner. We stayed at the La Quinta at LAX and found it the perfect location for ... Read More
We (my mother, father, and best friend-17) arrived in Los Angeles a couple days early before our trip. This is our fourth cruise on RCI and our second on the Mariner. We stayed at the La Quinta at LAX and found it the perfect location for everything we wanted to do. The Friday we flew in we visited the Santa Monica pier, Rodeo Drive and Hollywood. Unfortunatly for our group of tourists, the Hollywood sign was covered up from protestors and we missed out on what we were most excited about. Hollywood and Beverly Hills were relatively close to our hotel, Disneyland was about 40 minutes to our south-east, and the cruise port was about 30 minutes away to the south. We left our hotel with a few hours to spare before we were to board the ship. We rented our car at LAX through Enterprise (quick pickup!) and then dropped it off at its San Pedro location. There was a shuttle prepared to bring people to the ships and it was very convenient. By the time we dropped off the car, took the shuttle to the ship and logged in, we were ready to get on the ship. Our room wasn't ready until 1:30 so we had extra time to lay in the sun and get aquainted with the ship before we could settle in. About this time my friend and I ditched my parents. We were thankful that we both were prepared with bathing suits and we used a public restroom to change. There were plenty of seats and the weather was clear and comfortable. Our room was on the port side of the ship close to the elevator centrum. No noise, very accessible to all other amenities of the ship. We were on the sixth floor so it was a haul up the 11th where the Windjammer and pools were, but we were very close to our dining room and Royal Promenade. Food- My family has been very lucky with dining arrangements. RCI does a great job matching up families by age, which is good when travelling with teenagers. We always eat in the dining room as a rule. We were at a table in the Melodies side room off of deck 3. We were very close to a window and had spectacular views while leaving ports of call. We became very familiar with our waitors Yogit and Christopher. After the first night, the waitors knew well enough to have our beverages waiting for us and a seperate basket of bread waiting in front of my friend and I. We always enjoyed the food at the dining room. Very exquisite, and small portions so often I would have more than one option. The waitstaff was very attentive and comical. Our tablemates were an assortment of older couples from Scotland, Arizona and an older family from Canada. The first night we were very skeptical as to whether we would keep our table, but by the end of the week we were all very close and were sad to see each other go. The food at the Windjammer is great as well. My friend and I utilized the buffet almost every day for lunch and every night for a second dessert. The best was the taco bar after twelve. Very delicious tacos, very appropriate for the Mexican Riviera. I suggest you hunt out Orhan's section. He'll bring you ice cream. Speaking of ice cream, the frozen yogurt on deck 11 was amazing. We just wish it was open more. Ice cream is available from 12-9, and use the machine on the left. The ice cream has less water so it comes out thicker and tastes much better. All other food venues were just as great and we found no problems with any of the food. There's a great variety so even my picky friend could find something she really enjoyed. STATEROOM & SERVICE- Our stateroom attendant was great. He was aware there were teenagers in the room and always left us our Cruise Compass and teen activities cards. He was a great towel folder too! Our room was on the sixth deck on the port side with a balcony. We found ourselves using the balcony more than expected. The balcony had a refuge from the harsh wind that the rest of the ship had. We had plenty of space for all four suitcases and carry-ons. WEATHER- The weather for the season was right on target as predicted. During our day of embarkation it was in the seventies and very clear. Our first day of sea proved the complete opposite, as it was very cold and windy and hard to lay outside, so we were forced to retreat inside and find activities (which wasn't a problem). The weather in Cabo San Lucas was desireable and nearly perfect. Very clear and in the 80's. Mazatlan started out rainy, but soon cleared up for a comfortable temperature. Puerto Vallarta started as a beautiful day but soon became a near tragedy, read more in the Ports of Call section. The rest of the week was in the high 80's to low 90's but was very, VERY windy. The balcony was a wise choice in these days. ENTERTAINMENT- My parents enjoyed the casino every night, and also found entertainment in other activities such as Quest (never miss Quest!) the evening shows, Bingo, game shows and late-night comedy shows. We only went to the last evening show and then snuck into the 'adult' comedy show and found both wonderful and hilarious. We didn't find ourselves using the teen club ammenities much, but mostly because they were during the day when we were in the sun. DISEMBARKATION- We had an 11:00 flight and were among a thousand other families trying to be the first off the ship. We went to the Guest Relations the first day to request an early leave and we were able to keep our luggage with us, unlike any other cruise before us. This was great and unexpected. We shared a cab with another family and were at LAX in under 20 minutes, and were also two hours early for our flight. The process was so quick and by far the easiest we've ever encountered. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2010
Background: We have cruised with Royal Caribbean several times, but all from the east coast. This was our first west coast cruise. We flew to LAX on Virgin America and VA is probably the best airline I have flown with in a very long time. ... Read More
Background: We have cruised with Royal Caribbean several times, but all from the east coast. This was our first west coast cruise. We flew to LAX on Virgin America and VA is probably the best airline I have flown with in a very long time. Lots of leg room, comfortable seats, interesting way to order drinks, food, snacks. I won't fly any other way from now on. Hotel Info: I reserved an ExecuCar shuttle from LAX to the Crowne Plaza in San Pedro online. It was $48 plus $8.64 gratuity. We got our luggage and waited outside for a few minutes for the van to arrive. It was an uneventful ride over to the hotel. At the hotel we checked in and were given keys to our room on the 10th floor. Hotel is nice, but is in need of some updating. Our room overlooked the pool area and we could see the harbor and the ships coming in. Our room rate was for the concierge floor to include breakfast, drinks, snacks, etc., but didn't indicate that this would be closed on the weekends. They gave us a coupon for the buffet for Saturday and we were underwhelmed. Basic scrambled eggs, bacon, oatmeal, fruit, bagels, yogurt, etc. They put out stale croissants and when the server noticed we were not eating them, he asked, we told, and they immediately took them away. I was surprised! The back wall of the restaurant is probably overlooked by most, but if you look carefully you can see that they probably had two different tilers doing the glass tiles because somewhere just off to the middle you can see they don't match. There is a little store in the lobby if you want snacks and there is a van that will take you anywhere within 5 miles of the hotel. We signed up to go to Target and grabbed a few things and then walked around the neighborhood. 5 blocks up from the hotel is a CVS where you can grab almost anything, including alcohol. We ate at Acapulco's and watched a Princess ship leave port. There is no sign up list for the van to the port. Just show up and they will tell you which line to stand in. Embarkation: It was only a few minutes to the port and we got off the van and a porter took our checked bags for us. The doors were closed as it was before 11 am, but once they opened we made our way inside. We were told to take a number before we went up to the counter and that number was the group we were in to board. Boarding took only a few minutes and we made our way up to the Windjammer for lunch. There was a sign at guest services indicating that this cruise was completely sold out and it felt it. Ship Info: We have been on other Voyager class ships, both the Adventure and the Explorer, but the Mariner seemed to outshine her two counterparts. I saw absolutely no wear and tear anywhere on the ship and although the cabins are starting to look somewhat dated, they are immaculate. The flat screen TV's help and the suites do have nice balcony furniture as opposed to the white plastic furniture you will find elsewhere on the ship. The lounge chairs at the pool area are the older models, but they are just chairs so you can get past that easily. Stateroom: Our JS cabin was an absolute treat for the three of us. We enjoyed the extra room in the cabin and the balcony as well as the bigger closet. If we can afford a JS or bigger in the future, that will be what we get! Dining: We were signed up for MTD and despite hearing from a dining room staff member that we should sign up for a time and/or not show up between 6:30 pm and 7:30 pm, we went when we were ready for dinner. Our first night was not so great and the first time I have had less than stellar dining room service. The server spent the majority of the meal in the kitchen and left all of the work for the assistant waiter. He badmouthed the food and just about everything else, which didn't make for a great dining experience. I talked to the head waiter who was extremely accommodating and moved us to another section the remainder of the week. Our waiter, Angel, and the assistant waiter, Akosh, were fabulous! Angel has been on Mariner for over 6 years and loves working on her. You can find him in the Windjammer in the mornings taking the omelet orders as well. The wait staff in the Windjammer was also quite good. They are always attentive and constantly cleaning and offering beverages. As for the food, we saw the same food repeatedly in the Windjammer at each meal. We were surprised since we were on four RCCL cruises last year and I can't recall the Windjammer menu being so monotonous. I usually look forward to Jade, but there was no change and nothing to get excited about. For the MDR, we saw the updated menu and there were quite a few changes. We enjoyed all of the new menu items, but the only dud was the pan fried cauliflower cakes. They were basically pancakes with cauliflower in them -- bland and not such a great idea. Chops was another great night with Schubert as our server, but I was unable to stay the entire evening as I had been feeling sick that day and left. My husband and son enjoyed the meal and the service immensely. Because the cruise was sold out, breakfast in the Windjammer was ridiculous. When I say every single table was taken, every single table was taken and people were standing around waiting for people to leave. Yikes! Activities: Although the compass is jam packed with things to do, we still wish that there were more things to do that we might enjoy. Once you see the belly flop contest and the Love and Marriage game, you've seen it and may not want to see it again. I see that they are doing more enrichment programs, but it makes me wonder if we have done all we can with RCCL. We love the miniature golf, skating, and rock climbing wall and are glad when there are activities like that on a ship. Children's Clubs: We have a teenager who spent a great deal of time in Fuel, the Livingroom, the arcade, and the Sports Court. I had never seen the Back Deck on a ship before, an area dedicated for teens to hang out and sun on lounge chairs. There are signs saying this is a teen dedicated area, but my son said that teens never went there because adults were always sitting out. So sad considering the rest of the ship is an all adult area. I wish the teens had this space so they wouldn't have to sit inside all the time. Entertainment: The typical entertainment to be found on RCCL ships were found on Mariner. The welcome aboard show, comedian, and dance show were all to be had. The only change in all of this was the group Nelson was on board. Anyone remember this brother group from the 80's? They are the son of Ricky Nelson, grandsons of Ozzie and Harriet Nelson. I fully expected to laugh my way through this, but they did a tribute to their father that was entertaining and actually really good. Even my son enjoyed it. They played an acoustic set the next afternoon in the Promenade and signed autographs. It was nice to see something a little bit different from the typical entertainment. Disembarkation: We chose to to do the express disembark because we were trying to catch an 11 am flight out of LGB. We made our way down to the Schooner Bar before 8:15 and it was already crowded. Once the doors opened, the lines started moving with the exception of those people who forgot that they still needed their SeaPass cards to get off the ship. Once off the ship, we were able to hand over our paper to the customs official and we were in a cab in less than 5 minutes. Not bad! Summary: This was a fantastic family cruise for February break and I would do it again, but just not in February. A little too crowded for my taste, but otherwise a super fun vacation. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2010
Background: I'm a retired law enforcement officer in my mid 60s and my wife is a banker in her early 60s. This was our 31st cruise, all but 2 on Royal Caribbean. Our youngest daughter, her husband and our 3 year old granddaughter were ... Read More
Background: I'm a retired law enforcement officer in my mid 60s and my wife is a banker in her early 60s. This was our 31st cruise, all but 2 on Royal Caribbean. Our youngest daughter, her husband and our 3 year old granddaughter were also on this cruise. Getting to LA: The flight from Denver was uneventful, we expected a RCCL greater to meet us at the airport, but none were there. A quick reread of our documents provided instructions to get transport to our hotel. Hotel: We stayed one night at the Long Beach Hilton which was nice, but a bit expensive. We braved light sporadic rain and walked several blocks to the Rock Bottom Brewery for lunch, the food was good and there was plenty of it. We had a light supper and breakfast at the hotel. Embarkation: Getting aboard went without a hitch, we had all of our paperwork (set sail) done so it was just a matter getting our sea pass cards. Ship: Was in good condition, as all the ships we've been on have been. I've heard some people complain about a little rust here and there, but realize they've never had to maintain a ship. Cabin: We had an aft corner balcony which is the type of cabin we really enjoy. It's nice to sit out there with coffee in the morning or a glass of wine in the evening. Our cabin attendant was one of the best we've ever had (none were bad) we had towel animals every evening and the cabin was kept spotless. Food: I've heard those stories about how bad the food has gotten, I do not agree. There are fewer things on the menu, like larger lobster and large fillets but I didn't find anything bad. One night I followed the waiter's recommendation and had the lobster and shrimp for an appetizer and the prime rib for the main course. No doubt things have changed, but I paid the same for this cruise as I did for an inside cabin back in the 80s, the value is still there. Cabo San Lucas: Having been there before, we decided just to take a leisurely walk in to the Hard Rock Cafe for lunch. After lunch we did some shopping and walked back to the tender landing. Mazatlan: Again, we didn't have a desire for a tour, so we took a van to the Golden Zone for some shopping and lunch at Pancho's, The food was good and more than I could eat. Puerto Vallarta: Our granddaughter wanted to go to the beach so we booked a tour to an all inclusive day at a hotel south of town. The entire hotel area was really nice with 2 pools nice restaurants and strong drinks. She spent time on the beach with her shovel and bucket and had a great time. Misc: Some people paid high prices for whale watching, we saw whales and lots of dolphins from the ship. One whale even breached coming out of the water and splashing down on its side. The trip home was again uneventful. Meet and mingle: We had a good time and did a cabin crawl with poker hands afterward. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2010
This was my 5th cruise and the first time not on NCL, so some of this review will be a comparison of RCI and NCL. I took the Mariner of the Seas out of Los Angeles because I wanted to try another cruise line and living in Southern ... Read More
This was my 5th cruise and the first time not on NCL, so some of this review will be a comparison of RCI and NCL. I took the Mariner of the Seas out of Los Angeles because I wanted to try another cruise line and living in Southern California made it easy to just drive over and get aboard. The price for a solo senior passenger was only 50% of double occupancy on this particular cruise so I would have had to pay several hundred $ more for the same type of cabin on the Norwegian Star, which I have sailed before and know to be a smaller, inferior ship. I went solo but my husband and son and daughter-in-law were outside at the Acapulco restaurant at Ports of Call waving goodbye as we went down the channel so that was a nice send-off. I had been reading some really good things about Royal Caribbean and I must say there was no mistaking this ship for one of NCL's. Two of the cruises I took on NCL were on their best ships - the Jewel (transatlantic) and the Pearl (Alaska), but there is a night and day difference between even those ships and the Mariner of the Seas. In the first place, the MOS is 50% larger, although it doesn't really feel like it. Holding many more passengers than either of those two ships (about 3200 on this particular cruise), I never had the sense the ship was crowded. There were just no lines. The deck plan on MOS was designed so it doesn't really seem that far from bow to stern because it's broken up into thirds. For example, the Promenade only runs about the middle 1/3 of the length of the ship. The ship is really easy to navigate. Another thing that is nice on the MOS is you can actually go right up to the bow of the ship and have your Titanic "I'm flying" moment. On NCL, the forward deck is off limits to passengers. The Windjammer Cafe wraps around the whole back of the ship so you can eat your meals overlooking either side or aft over the wake. The quality and variety of the food at the buffet was quite good. One nice thing is they have waiters who have responsibility for a certain area of tables and they will bring you your made to order omelet, juice or water, etc. Apparently most of the passengers preferred the dining room for dinner because the Windjammer was rarely full in the evenings. I only ate in the dining room twice. Once was when we were in Mazatlan - it was casual night (wear something Caribbean) so not too dressy. The 3-level dining room is magnificent and the service was impeccable. The salad was fresh, the food was hot, and I enjoyed the surroundings. I had opted for My Time Dining which means you eat on the highest level (Sound of Music Dining Room - deck 5) and you can show up any time between 6 and 9 or make a reservation earlier in the day for the specific time you want. I think this is actually better than NCL Freestyle, since you can still do first come first served OR make a reservation just to be sure you don't have to wait. You can either eat with strangers and make new friends or eat with the group you are traveling with. There are tables of all sizes. I did an NCL transatlantic solo since my husband would have been bored out of his mind not stopping at any ports, but I don't think even he would get bored on MOS. There are tons of things to do. There is miniature golf, a rock climbing wall, or you can go ice skating. All sorts of different shows, bands, etc. They have the usual casino and a lot of bars and lounges and dance clubs. There just seems to be more variety (appeals to more age groups) on this ship than on NCL. Of course they all have the same dance lessons, bingo, art shows, jewelry lectures, etc. And the same shopping venues, only somehow it is more appealing when you're wandering down the Promenade on MOS. The Promenade goes from Deck 5 through 8. The first level is shops - the next three are inside cabins with windows overlooking the Promenade like a European street. As far as the staterooms go, the MOS balcony rooms seem larger than the NCL balconies even though they're basically the same size, because on MOS the bed is over by the sliding door next to the balcony. On NCL the bed comes first so you pretty much walk in and run into the bed. The MOS layout is much nicer and the room seems larger because you come into the sitting area (couch and desk) first. NCL has better bathrooms though. MOS has a weird little round shower with curved plastic sliding doors. NCL showers are much larger (walk-in, not just stand in one spot in) and have 3-section sliding glass doors. The MOS is about 6 years old but it looks brand new. Everything is shined and spotless, from the decks to the railings to the stone/tile floors in the Promenade. It is a very classy-looking ship. Every day the carpet in every elevator is changed so when you look down you see a carpet that says SUNDAY or THURSDAY or whatever day it is. I never saw these being changed so I have no idea what hour of the day this takes place! They just magically change at some point. I was told that Behind the Scenes tours are only available for suite or Diamond guests. There is no opportunity for anyone else to see the working part of the ship, which was a disappointment. NCL offers these tours to a limited number of passengers, regardless of status, although there is a charge. But it is well worth the price. I believe on MOS they had a Behind the Stage tour, but that's all you get to see - behind the stage. Our fist port was Cabo San Lucas and now I know why they call it the Mexican Riviera. It is just beautiful sailing in - just like you are arriving at a Mediterranean port. If you are going to get a balcony room (and I do not understand why anyone would want to have a room without one), I recommend getting one on the port side, because that way you have a birds' eye view of the coast of Mexico as you come into Cabo - wide beaches, rocky arches, beautiful resorts and condos perched on cliffs. (This way you will catch the sun and the sunset on the two days at sea on the way home, too.) There were dolphins jumping out of the water all around the ship as we came in, and I even saw several whales. Cabo is a tender port. I waited until about 45 minutes after the first tender left to go down to Deck 1 and there was no waiting at all to catch a boat at that time. Instead of one large tender, they run lots of smaller tenders so the line moves quickly. It's only about a 5-minute ride to the marina since the ship comes in so close to the marina. Apparently other cruise ships have to anchor way offshore but the MOS does not anchor - it uses GPS to maintain its position all day in the bay. That is why it is allowed in so close - because it doesn't have to anchor. Dropping an anchor would impact the environment. There is a huge flea market right when you get off the tender that is a nice place to stop on your way back to the ship after you have had a chance to look around the town. There are numerous little bars and outdoor cafes along the marina where you can get something to drink, a plate of nachos and just people watch. Or you can sit on your balcony (if you're on the port side) and just watch all the boats, jet skis, parasailing, even a yellow submarine between you and Los Arcos. I did not get off the ship in Mazatlan, decided just to have a lazy onboard day. It was very pretty coming into Mazatlan, though. We came through a very narrow inlet between the breakwaters. On one side of the ship was the city and the other almost looked like fishing villages on the edge of the jungle. The Sapphire Princess was already docked when we arrived. I see now why you hear about these cruise ships occasionally bumping into each other. It was very tight fit. In Puerto Vallarta I took a 4 � hour city tour by coach so I could see as much of the city as possible. It was advertised as a scenic tour but when we gathered on the pier we discovered it was a city and SHOPPING tour. So we made two or three 30-minute stops at various stores that were recommended by RCI. I actually bought a couple of things but I thought we spent too much time stopping to shop and not enough sightseeing. When I returned to the ship I looked up the tour and confirmed it said SCENIC Tour and not SHOPPING Tour. However, I don't regret taking the tour - the guide was a fountain of information - geography, history, culture, etc. He was just excellent and we really did get to see a lot of the area - I just didn't think it was advertised appropriately. We stopped for an authentic Mexican lunch at a small restaurant way out of town. I was surprised how tropical everything was until I learned Puerto Vallarta is the same latitude as Hawaii. It actually looks a lot like Hawaii. The last two days were at sea and there was a fair amount of movement to the ship both days. I got some rather impressive video of the water sloshing out of the pools as the bow of the ship raised and fell in the Pacific swells. The one problem I had was with the Internet. MOS has six Internet hot spots on board and you first have to set up an Internet account with RCI. I have just an ordinary Dell and use Outlook for email (tied to a Verizon account) so nothing unusual in my opinion. However, I had a terrible time accessing the Internet. I could connect to wireless and got an excellent signal, but the Royal Caribbean page never opened so I could log in. I went down to guest relations and asked for help and they gave me a 2-page troubleshooting guide. There was no one to assist me beyond this. (On NCL, they have a manager in the Internet Cafe who I assume has computer skills.) Anyway, went through the troubleshooting guide - everything was set correctly - checked my LAN settings, unchecked my Proxy Server, etc. etc. - still, the page never opened. I went back to guest relations and just asked them for the URL so I could just go directly to the web site but they assured me that No, I couldn't get there that way. So I went back up to the hot spot, re-checked everything - still no success - finally just took a shot and typed in "Royal-WiFi" into the address bar and what do you know, the login page popped up no problem. I immediately downloaded all my email and tried to send out three messages I had previously composed. But there was a Send error - something about the authentication required by the RCI client was not recognized by my server. I went back down to guest relations and again asked for assistance. The person took down my message, said he would talk to IT and would leave me a message in my stateroom about what to do, but I never heard anything. It just seemed odd that I would not be able to send email. I travel a lot on business and I can't remember ever being ANYWHERE I was not able to fiddle around with my email settings and get it to work. And to be able to receive but not send? I was disappointed there was no apparent interest on the part of guest relations to get me connected. There are data ports in the staterooms for Ethernet cables (which I had) but I was told these were never activated. You have to go to one of the hot spots which are in various lounges around the ship. I would take this cruise again in a heartbeat. In fact, our family is already making plans to go on the same itinerary in 2011. There were dozens of excursions available at each port to appeal to almost anyone's interests and the final two days were spent just relaxing at sea getting back to Los Angeles. I thought the Mariner of the Seas was the perfect cruise ship - large enough to swallow 3200 passengers, large enough to offer a huge variety of activities, but not so large that you forget you're at sea and not just in a big hotel. Read Less
Mariner of the Seas Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.5 4.4
Dining 5.0 4.0
Entertainment 4.5 3.9
Public Rooms 5.0 4.5
Fitness Recreation 5.0 4.3
Family 4.5 4.3
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.9
Enrichment 3.5 3.6
Service 4.5 4.4
Value For Money 5.0 4.0
Rates N/A 4.3

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