Sail Date: February 2003
First off, the reason why i'm doing this review is because i haven't seen anyone that is a teenager write a review for this ship! Us teenagers see the ship differently than adults do! So here it is. Also this is for the ship, not ... Read More
First off, the reason why i'm doing this review is because i haven't seen anyone that is a teenager write a review for this ship! Us teenagers see the ship differently than adults do! So here it is. Also this is for the ship, not the ports. So if your looking for info about ports this isn't your review. I've been on 19 cruises in my life and the Mariner of the Seas is one of the most beautiful ships I have ever seen! I have been on the sister ship Navigator and the only thing better on Navigator was the service. But that was so small of a difference that I don't want to make it a big thing. Our cabin was great (even though it was only a window stateroom it served its purpose of keeping my and my sister satisfied for a week). As a teenager, we want to stay out of the room as much as possible! When we went on the Mariner it was (I think) her 9th voyage, so she was fairly new. To put in a good word for RCCL they keep up their ships so well, no matter how old they are they seem to always look and smell new every voyage! The ship is laid out beautifully. Every public room is easy to get to and is most of the time open for anyone to go into. One of my favorite areas was the Royal Promenade, it is so big and open. But just knowing that something that is two football fields long in the middle of the ship keeps you in awe. I also have to say that after being on an Eagle Class ship, I was spoiled! (The other day my parents mentioned going on a celebrity cruise next year and "AWW MOM, DAD!" was my reply. We didn't have a good experience on the Celebrity ship Horizon.) Johnny Rockets is one of the most popular places for teens. I'll go ahead and tell you that. So if you are an adult that doesn't enjoy being around teenagers, you might not want to be around there much. One of the reasons that teens seem to hang out there is that its so close to the teen room, but also that it is such a kid friendly place. The staff working there are always so happy and ready to serve with a smile! The teens also enjoy hanging out in the Arcade. I believe when building the Mariner the creators knew that when teens were having fun they might get a little annoying to the other people onboard. And I think they handled it the best they could by making a teen friendly area onboard (a place where adults aren't aloud to be). But every cruise you will find a pesky teenager (or group) who will make a little trouble. Whether it is pushing all the elevator buttons or finding a way to get drunk (though I don't know how). All i can say about this is try to not let it mess up your cruise! I don't know any other way RCCL cant handle the pesky teenagers except put cops around the ship to catch them. The food is totally awesome onboard! Windjammers has so much variety to offer and are good about keeping the food warm. The only thing is trying to find a place to sit. Although usually you can pick a spot if you send one of your group to find and save a table. The dining room has some of the best food (at least to a teenager). And even though I don't know what some of it is, I always ask and try a little of everything! Even though I actually didn't have any of the "famous" Royal Promenade Cafe oatmeal cookies, I did stop by for a coffee almost every day! But even better, along the Promenade strip they have a little ice cream place (makes me hungry just thinking about it!) where you can get an ice cream during the day. As for the shopping in the Promenade, it was ok. I didn't really buy much. I got a towel with the ship on it (since i loved my Navigator one so much!), a t-shirt, and one of those rings that has the stones that you can change (which I love and wear everyday!!!). Now, I can't tell you how the drinks were, except that the virgin pina colada's and strawberry daiquiris were a great treat at the captain's party! We never got an invite to eat with the captain this cruise (although we have before when i was young) but he seemed really friendly. All of the other public places were great. No complains on anything and I enjoyed some of the more unusual art they had. For the Entertainment: I CAN'T STRESS THIS ENOUGH, WATCH THE ICE SKATING SHOWS! It is unbelievable what they can do on such a small piece of ice even when the ship is rocking. I didn't watch any of the other shows because I preferred the teen activities, but I heard they were good. I heard one of the comedians had an act that was a little too "adult" for children and alot of parents with kids had to leave because of the crude humor he was projecting. Other than that I can't tell you much about the shows except I didn't hear anyone complaining. Teen Activities: I have to put in a good word for the staff! They were awesome about being friendly and always made you feel at home and I miss all of them! There is so much for a teenager to do on one of these ships. On the first day at sea they usually have a hottie hunt, where you go and ask to take pictures of the "hotties" of the cruise, then go back to Fuel and make a poster of all of them to put on the teen room for your week. You are constantly meeting new people who you will most likely spend alot of time with throughout the week. Other activities such as rock climbing competitions, sports day, olympics, name that tune games, themed nights (toga party, prom night, etc.), and so much more, will keep all the teens coming back all the time. Of course, they don't serve alcoholic beverages in the "kid friendly zones" so no worries that they will get something from that area. We don't have any small children in our family now. But I remember when i was younger than all we wanted to do was be in the kids room constantly. They do everything they can to make your trip the most enjoyable you can have. And they are good at it too. I know i could go on all day telling all about this wonderful ship, but I don't have the time sadly. Sorry that this review is all out of order (I am usually an orderly person when i have time). We are going on another cruise on the Mariner in the summer of next year so hopefully I can finish it then when my memories of the ship are refreshed in my head! I hope this review helps someone find the vacation cruise of their dreams! Read Less
Sail Date: November 2003
The inaugural cruise of the Mariner of the Seas, Royal Caribbean's newest and largest boat set sail November 16th from Port Canaveral. This is currently the largest cruise boat in the world, at least until the QE2 comes out of dry ... Read More
The inaugural cruise of the Mariner of the Seas, Royal Caribbean's newest and largest boat set sail November 16th from Port Canaveral. This is currently the largest cruise boat in the world, at least until the QE2 comes out of dry dock. The boat is very, very nice. The voyager class boat is very well laid out and the center promenade is quite elegant. The rock climbing wall keep many people busy as well as the full sized basketball court. The miniature golf course is nice, but being on the very top of the boat made it difficult to play due to the wind. The roller blade track is nice, but it is small (looks larger on the TV commercials). It was great to use all brand new equipment. The whole Johnny Rockets concept is nice, but some fine tuning looks like it is needed. The food is good and it is fun to watch all the crew due the song and dance routines. The only problem is the service, it's not bad, but a little inconsistent, like they all are not really sure of what they should be doing. One warning, although the ice cream on the apple pie a'la mode is free (as well as the pie), milk shakes cost $3.60. Seems weird since the ice cream is free, the milk on the boat is free, so you are paying for a little bit of flavoring and/or malt and for them to mix it up for you (doesn't seem right). Plus another thing that is weird is if you get coffee or tea at Johnny Rockets that comes with a COST (but yet it is free everywhere else on the ship). The ship serves Seattle's Best coffee (although it is some Caribbean blend that I did not care for, seemed a bit bitter to me, but that's just my opinion). They sell Ben & Jerry's ice cream in the promenade for a "nominal cost" of like $2-$3 bucks a cone, but I would just stick with the free self-serve ice cream they have down there (available most of the time) with the free cup cones. It's actually frozen yogurt, but we did not even know that until the 3rd day, it tastes very good! It is so nice having so many facilities, such as multiple LARGE whirlpool/hot tubs, a couple small ones, and three full sized pools (one of them is a saltwater pool for adults only). The pool areas are large and very open and nice. There is a large running track on the top that is also nice. The work out rooms are great, lots of nice equipment, lots of treadmills/etc. There is also another hot tub at the spa that you can use after your workout. The elevators on the ship seem to run well, there are several of them and they run pretty quickly. Several of them are open so you can see out into the promenade/outdoors/etc. Don't forget to check out the "peek-a-boo" bridge when you are this (and other voyage class I believe) boat, it's not well marked but you get to it on the 11th floor, out the side doors of the spa, there are signs on both doors leading to the outside, then you walk all away around to the front and you can check it out. WARNING on the internet access, they charge $.50/minute which can add up quickly (especially if it slow, which it seems to be, speed is close to dial-up speed or a little slower at times). For kids and young adults, the arcade is very nice and has a lot of pretty nice games, although most are $1->$1.75 per play. This crew has tons of activities for young children through teenage years. The library on the floor has a good selection for researching cruise destinations as well as fiction/non-fiction selections. The rooms are very nice from what we have and talking to others. We have an inside cabin that facing out to the promenade (room 7279). They say those rooms are a wee-bit smaller than other inside cabin rooms, but it does feel larger due to the window/view to the courtyard. WARNING though for early sleepers ... we had an early excursion at St. Martin and went to bed about 11:00ish. We were awakened due to the quite noisy street parade in the royal promenade at about midnight. The parade went on for about 20-30 minutes. It's fun as long as you are not trying to sleep. Most of the time it is quiet and very nice, with very little noise. The windows out to the promenade are heavy double paned glass, so they keep out most of the noise. The boat has a dedicated screening room for films, although they only showed like 3 films the whole week and normally during the middle of the day when we were at port. Seems like they should show them throughout the day since they have a dedicated room for it rather than having it just sit empty. So, what about the FOOD ?? The food has been okay, nothing out of this world. I already talked about the coffee above. Well, if you like orange juice, plan on bring some from home (and then just store it in your cabin mini frig ... all the cabins have them). The mini fridge is nice, we took the mini-bar stuff out and put it on the counter and stocked it with our own orange juice we bought in St. Martin as well as bottle water and cans of coke. It's cold enough for stuff like that, its just a simple ole' hotel mini-frig. Back to the food, the dinners have been nice, but still nothing out of this world. We both still think the food on Celebrity is a lot better (presentation and taste). The deserts have been good as well. One item I found odd is that shrimp cocktail was only available a couple of nights where normally you can get it every night. They did have some items that you could get daily like Caesar salad and chicken breast, etc. Breakfast had several selections and made to order eggs/omelets. Don't get me wrong, the food was good, and we enjoyed all of our meals. As for entertainment, we have two (2) awesome comedians, they were very funny, great material, both clean. The ice show on the ice skating deck was also quite good. We also got to seek "The Drifters" (the real ones), which was also very good (they sing the song "Under the the Boardwalk" circa 1950s). Well, I think that is about it. This is a beautiful boat (BRAVO Royal Caribbean!!) I am writing this review from the boat itself on Saturday morning (1:17am). We have one more day of cruising at sea today and arrive tomorrow at Port Canaveral on Sunday. For all of you going on this boat next week, have fun. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2003
Mariner of the Seas Inaugural, November 16, 2003. What a cruise! I've never been on a maiden voyage before. This one was a blast! A quick, one-word review for the major items: Crew: excellent Food: excellent Service: very good ... Read More
Mariner of the Seas Inaugural, November 16, 2003. What a cruise! I've never been on a maiden voyage before. This one was a blast! A quick, one-word review for the major items: Crew: excellent Food: excellent Service: very good Entertainment: good (we didn't go to any shows, but they looked good) Ports: very good (Port Canaveral, Nassau, San Juan, St. Martin, Port Canaveral) Ship: Beautiful! Mariner of the Seas literally gleamed as we pulled up to the port. Fresh from her journey across the Atlantic and her 2-day cruise to nowhere, she awaited her first real boarding of passengers. Our group consisted of 6 friends. Four of us had cruised before. Two of us had been on 5 RCI cruises before this one, one of those on Explorer, so we were familiar with the Voyager-class ships. Our trip started the Thursday before the cruise. We went to Orlando and visited Disneyworld on Friday. Had a good time there. Saturday we drove to Port Canaveral. We stayed at the Radisson Resort. It has a great pool area. I thought it had a view of the port, but it doesn't. Almost immediately we started meeting people who were also on the cruise. There were quite a few there. Some of them we had already met online, but we had no idea what they looked like. It was fun to put faces to names. That evening we went to Grill's, a bar & grill type place that the ships pass as they take out. We were supposed to meet some of our Cruise Critic friends there. After meeting up with them we all sat around several tables drinking, eating, and getting to know one another. Soon we watched Disney Magic and HAL Maasdam sail out and begin their journeys. The next day would be our chance. Sunday morning we dropped of our rental car and took their shuttle to the pier at 10:45. Mariner was waiting. We flew through the security entrance and went directly to the check-in lines. Something new that I hadn't seen before was that RCI had different lines for different cabin levels. Decks 2-4 had one line, 5-7 another, etc. We checked in at the Platinum & Diamond counter. The line there was the same as any other, so it wasn't much of an advantage to check in at this counter. Later in the day it was probably more of a benefit. We were told we would board first, but at 11:30 they actually opened up all boarding. After taking the obligatory boarding picture, we made our way down the hallway and boarded Mariner of the Seas. As could be expected, everything was shining like new. We made our way to cabin 9390, a starboard aft cabin on the corner. I had thought the balcony would be larger, being an aft cabin, but it was a quarter-pie-wedge shape that didn't stretch back too far. The balcony also had no cover, which I kind of liked, because you could lay out on your balcony with no shadows. One drawback, though, was that the balcony above could look down on you. One thing I did like was the access to the balcony. No sliding door. Instead there was a regular, half-glass door situated next to a large round window. I always thought the sliders were a little cumbersome to open and close quickly. You can peek around the balcony dividers easily, and I could see that the balcony in the identical E1 cabin next to ours was at least twice as large. While we had just 2 chairs and a small table on our balcony, the balcony next to ours accommodated 2 lounge chairs from the pool area. Still, I enjoyed our balcony. We walked down to the Royal Promenade and looked around. Vintages, the wine bar, looked cozy. The Wig & Gavel also appeared like your bar around the corner. All the other stores had their usual RCI appearance. Cafe Promenade already had their snacks stocked. We ate in the Windjammer. This Windjammer reminded me of the one on Brilliance. It was very warm and welcoming. The entry foyer had teak benches arranged for conversation. The layout of the Windjammer was easier for large groups, with food spread out all over. It took people a while to realize that the first line they came to was not necessarily the line they wanted to be in. Jade is the first are of the Windjammer. It serves up Asian-inspired cuisine, complete with square trays and chopsticks. Portofino and Chops are also at the entry to the Windjammer. Prices for these two alternative restaurants is $20/person. We never got to eat there, so I can't tell you how it was. Past Jade is the usual Windjammer, again with different lines of food, some serving the same things to ease the flow of traffic. We only ate there this first day, and on the last day before debarkation. We went up top for sailaway and met up with our new friends. Protesters were making their presence known by flying a banner behind a plane saying "Got sewage? RCI dumps their daily." It was a little humorous, actually. Sailaway was delayed due to a late produce truck. We watched it unload its foodstuffs onto the ship, and then we were off. We again encountered protesters alongside the channel, but their small group seemed impotent juxtaposed against a behemoth like Mariner. I would never begrudge anyone their right to voice their protests, but it wasn't going to get me off that ship! Dinner that night was served very late -- 9:00pm. Didn't bother me, though. The dining room is just incredible. At the landing between floors 1 and 2, there are bronze statues of Christopher Plummer and Julie Andrews as the Captain and Maria von Trapp from "The Sound of Music." Behind them is a mural of the large staircase inside the mansion that was von Trapp's home. There are deep wood columns with beautiful light fixtures, but the crown jewel of the dining room was the chandelier. I understand the one on Voyager is a sight to behold, but this one was breathtaking. The dining room had a very formal feel to it, more than any I've experienced. I liked it. It was soon clear that the waters were going to be a little rough. Motion was certainly detectable, although it wasn't too harsh. The captain warned us it would be rough for a while. In fact, it was still so rough on the 2nd sea day that the pools had to be shut down. The water was being tossed around so roughly that it was spewing out of the pools in huge sprays. Monday saw us in Nassau. Just did some shopping here. The next day was at sea. The winds had picked up the night before, and they continued on this day at sea. It was also pretty cloudy. These factors combined with the rough seas made for a tough time to lay out and get some good sun. But it was still possible. San Juan and St. Martin were fun. Saw San Juan with a small tour bus group that included the Bacardi factory, and we hired a cab in St. Martin. A word about rental car agencies: one of our friends had reserved a rental car with Budget for St. Martin. He arrived at their booth at the pier to pick up his car, only to find the booth unmanned. He was told by someone that hardly anyone was ever there. He called Budget, and they told him he would have to take a cab to their other location. He canceled the order and used another agency that was at the pier. A tip about the Bacardi factory: you never actually get to see rum being made or processed. The free tour is just a stop at their visitor center, which has staged replicas of the original factories and a short movie about the Bacardi family and their history. I worked out almost every morning in the Shipshape Center. One thing that was a small inconvenience there was the fact that to get a key for a locker, one had to go upstairs to the Shipshape Spa. Not that far, but the spa opened at 8:00, while the workout area and lockerrooms opened at 7:00. So if you don't trust your items in an unlocked locker for an hour, you'll have to carry them around in the Shipshape Center. There were plenty of cross-training machines and treadmills. There are weight machines and free weights. All the machines are by LifeFitness, and you can probably see them on their site. There were 2 parades during the cruise, both on the Royal Promenade. There was to be a Caribbean party on the pool deck on Caribbean night, but it was too windy and rough, so they moved it to the Royal Promenade. There were different theme nights for dress. They are as follows, along with the entertainment for that night. Day 1 - Casual; Comedian Jeff Jana Day 2 - Casual or Colorful Caribbean; Comedian Rondell Sheridan Day 3 - Formal; RCI Singers and Dancers, "Front Row" Day 4 - Smart casual; Ice Under the Big Top, ice show Day 5 - Casual or 50s-80s attire; RCI Singers and Dancers, "Pure Energy" Day 6 - Formal; The Original Drifters Day 7 - Casual; Farewell Variety Show and comedian Tim Jones One budget-tightening move I noticed, which was probably a good one: instead of printing a "Cruise Compass" AND a daily planner, the planner was incorporated into the "Compass" and could be torn from the "Compass," resulting in a pocket planner. I liked that RCI left a form in your cabin, allowing you to elect to pay gratuities via your SeaPass account OR allowed you to pay via cash on your own. This way you didn't have to stand in line at the Guest Services desk to let them know which one you wanted to do. A nice surprise was that everyone received in their cabins one night a certificate certifying that they were a guest on the inaugural sailing of Mariner. Each certificate was accompanied by a photo of Mariner, similar to the type you'd buy in the photo shop. Also, we were given fanny packs with the RCI logo and name of the ship embroidered on it. One entertainer you can't miss while onboard is Matt Yee. He is the piano entertainer at the Schooner Bar. He is HILARIOUS! He's a great singer, but his big thing is audience participation, and he get people involved almost to the point of embarrassment. I attended his show on more than one night. He plays great sing-a-long tunes, and everyone has a great time. The captain is Johnny Faevelan and he is the best captain I've experienced. He's personable, outgoing, funny, and a great speaker. Ken Rush was the Cruise Director, and he's also tops, constantly facilitating activities and getting passengers involved. While there were some kinks on this cruise, they were to be expected on a first sailing. It was never enough to mar the fun of a cruise. This was my 6th RCI cruise, and I know I'll be back for more. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2003
This was our first cruise on an Explorer class ship and I must admit the first day was very overwhelming. The ship is huge and has so many amenities, that it takes a couple of days to get your bearings and decide what you have time to do. ... Read More
This was our first cruise on an Explorer class ship and I must admit the first day was very overwhelming. The ship is huge and has so many amenities, that it takes a couple of days to get your bearings and decide what you have time to do. It takes 15-20 minutes each day just to read through the Compass to see all of the daily activities. We arranged for our own ground transportation from Ace Luxury Transportation in Orlando (highly recommended). With five of us in a van, it was very nice to be met at baggage claim and have someone direct us right to the waiting van and zip us off to Port Canaveral. Embarkation was pretty painless. Royal Caribbean recently completed Pier 10 in preparation for the Mariner. The facilities were very open and airy and the lines moved fairly quickly. As always, the RCI staff were very knowledgeable and pleasant. Lunch of course was being served in the Windjammer. My only complaint about the Windjammer is that they don't have outside seating like the Brilliance does. On a beautiful morning, breakfast on the "back porch" is great. However, the Windjammer has ample seating and one can get right up next to the window and see the wake left from the three big azipods. The shows were great. Great singers and lots of fun and beautiful costumes. The Savoy Theater is huge with three levels of seating and reminds one of a Broadway stage. Do not miss the ice show--Ice Under the Big Top. Tickets are required for the ice show, but are free. On our cruise the performance was repeated three times and seats were plentiful. It rivaled Champions on Ice or any of the other professional shows. Several of the performers skate as well as perform aerial acrobatics similar to Cirque du Soleil. Chops Grill and Portofinos are the two alternative dining rooms. Chops is very much as the name implies--lots of beef, lamb and fish. Portofinos also has a lot of meat, but with an Italian flair. I recommend the lobster tails in Portofinos--better than the ones you will get with the surf & turf one night in the dining room. The Sound of Music dining room is also breathtaking. With three floors of dining and a beautiful staircase and huge chandelier, it looks like it belongs in some huge, old hotel. Each floor is decorated in different color schemes. We were on the top floor which is cream and gold, but floor 4 is a beautiful blue. Make sure you check out all three of them. The food and service were excellent. My only criticism here was there seemed to be a lot of mix-ups over table assignments on the first night. One of our group was assigned to another table, although we had it changed before the first dinner. However, we heard several other groups were spread out over several tables, including one married couple who had been assigned to two different tables. I recommend each person in your party check their table assignments on their SeaPass card as soon as you board and head to the fourth floor dining room to get it changed if not correct. Our cabin, 6640, was a D category but had ample room for two people and a nice size balcony with 2 chairs and a table. Quite frankly, I would worry less about the size of your room and think about all of the things that you can do outside of your stateroom. There are so many things to do and see on this ship that you shouldn't spend a waking minute inside of your cabin. Even if you want to read, I'd suggest you do that in the library which has overstuffed leather chairs and is very quiet. Being a new ship, every book was brand new and had a huge selection of new books, as well as smaller versions of two different daily newspapers. The promenade was simply amazing. With several shops and the Cafe Promenade where one can get coffee and snacks (donuts, pizza, cookies, small sandwiches, and pastries) anytime, it's almost like a small town street. This is where the parades and the Captain's Reception take place. It's also a great meeting place since it's central to just about everything. There's also a frozen yogurt machine where you can help yourself to an ice cream cone and was very popular, especially with the 850 kids on this Thanksgiving cruise. One of the most unique things on the ship is something called the Peek-a-boo Bridge. It's located one deck above the regular bridge and allows you to look into and down on all of the activites of the bridge. You can stand there and watch the captain and the rest of his officers and all of the activities it takes to navigate this huge ship. What a great idea! By the say, Captain Johnny is about one of the nicest, funniest guys I've every met. He is extremely personable, very humble, and just a fun-loving guy. You will really enjoy his noon-time greeting each day when he starts, in his Norwegian accent, with "Good morning, good morning, good morning..." One of the activities that I completely missed was the PADI certification of new scuba divers. It's taught all on board and in the pools. If you always wanted to take lessons, this is the place to do it--at your own pace and in the comfort of your ship. No matter what you are looking for in a cruise ship, you'll probably find it on the Mariner. Bars, restaurants, quiet spaces, gambling, food, food, food, shopping, beautiful artwork, chrome and glass, excellent service, friendly people, state of the art computer terminals, massages, workout equipment, ice skating, golf and miniature golf, basketball, rock climbing, swimming, dancing, wine tasting, napkin and towel folding lessons, cigars (and a special place to smoke them--the Connoisseur Club), Karaoke, live entertainment, bingo, parades, TV and movies, child care, a disco, are just some of the amenties of this floating city. All in all, it is a fabulous ship. As for our group, we pretty much decided that, although it was wonderful and the experience of a life time, this size ship is just a little too big for us. It seemed as though we had brought a small town onto the seas. It was apparent to me, when on the last day, I still saw hundreds of people that I had not seen in the previous 6 days and the night before we heard the head of security taking a report of a 15-year old girl who had been accosted by a 40-year old passenger. Out of 3800 passengers, there had to be one... One final comment, I totally recommend Port Canaveral as a great port. The ride from Orlando airport is a straight shot and takes about 50 minutes. There is no city traffic and no hassles plus it affords you a view of Cape Canaveral (with the launch towers in the background) and a close-up view of Disney's Magic ship parked right next door. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2003
I traveled with a group of 10 people which included 2 teens. We all have cruised several times with RCL and also with other cruise lines. The Explorer of the Seas was one of our favorite cruises and that is why we wanted to go on the ... Read More
I traveled with a group of 10 people which included 2 teens. We all have cruised several times with RCL and also with other cruise lines. The Explorer of the Seas was one of our favorite cruises and that is why we wanted to go on the Mariner. The Inaugural cruise however was very disappointing. The ship was very beautiful but let's face it...the food is one very important part of the experience and the food on board the Mariner was not good. If any of you are familiar with the buffet restaurant "Ryan's", then you know what I'm describing. The Windjammer served the SAME exact breakfast AND lunch everyday. The prunes and oatmeal were popular and I will tell you why later. I couldn't look at the green wrap with egg salad one more time and I didn't go on a cruise for hamburgers and hot dogs (let alone dried out with stale buns). Dinner in the dining room was a huge disappointment. You couldn't get a decent steak, the salmon was hard and dry, and I think the pasta was Chef Boyardi! Also, RCL doesn't give a soda with dinner anymore. You either have to buy it or show your card with the beverage punch/sticker. Now, if you ate in the restaurant Chops, the food was great. What a difference $20/pp made. The food in Portifino was excellent. Again what a difference $20/pp made. I think RCL has cheaped out on the dining room dinners so that you will spend the extra $$$ in one of the other restaurants for good food. I mean be prepared to spend it if you are interested in a good meal. Johnny Rockets ran out of their signature hamburgers and onion rings on Wednesday and then served the hamburgers from the dining room. (Just when I tried to get away from those!) The Cafe Promenade had the same exact stale croissant sandwiches everyday but the cookies and pizza were good. The service was excellent and the employees were very nice. I don't know if Port Canaveral brings out the "older" bunch of cruisers or just this particular cruise, but most of the people on board were at least 80 yrs old. (That's why the prunes and oatmeal were popular!) And I have never seen so many walkers, wheelchairs, canes, seeing eye dogs and motorized "rascals" in my life! At 6pm in front of the dining rooms the rascals were lined up like it was a parking lot! (The dogs however were very sweet and made me miss mine at home!) The stairs however were ALWAYS empty and was my choice of getting around. All the "slow movers" did make it tough getting anywhere in a timely manner. The casino ran out of small bills on Thursday. That was strange. The Adventure Ocean program for the older teens was terrible. All they had was a teen disco with music that was empty most of the time. No activities at all were planned. No crafts, scavenger hunts, contests or ANYTHING for the kids. Once again RCL has in place entertainment available in the game room for $1.00 - $5.00/play. There weren't any attendants available when the machines took the money and didn't work.(Another great way for RCL to pay for the beautiful ship!) The Sprinkles Ice Cream station was turned off every day around 8pm and didn't get turned back on until around noon the next day. Room service was pitiful. Your choices were cold cereal, fruit, coffee/tea, juice and 2 other snacks. That's it. For the first time getting off a RCL cruise I am looking for another cruise line to go on for my next cruise. I know for sure it won't be the Mariner. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2003
We just came off the 4th sailing of the new MARINER OF THE SEAS, the Eastern Caribbean itinerary, and both my husband and I agree that this was the best cruise we have ever been on, and this makes cruise #22 for us. Of course being the ... Read More
We just came off the 4th sailing of the new MARINER OF THE SEAS, the Eastern Caribbean itinerary, and both my husband and I agree that this was the best cruise we have ever been on, and this makes cruise #22 for us. Of course being the largest ship afloat, along with Royal Caribbean's other 4 Voyager-class ships, is part of the reason and also the fact that it is the newest ship sailing. All the staff and crew seemed to go out of their way to be friendly and especially helpful. It was obvious that they were not new employees; in fact most we talked with have had numerous years sailing either on Royal Caribbean or other cruise lines. Embarkation at Port Canaveral was of course more crowded than we experienced on previous sailings, but when you have 3600 other passengers boarding a ship, it is to be expected. All in all it went fairly smoothly and we were on the ship by 12:30pm. The parking situation leaves something to be desired however and hopefully in the future it will become more efficient. The parking garage is open, although there is still much construction in the area. Our cabin was an inside on the 10th deck and it was plenty big enough for the two of us, including the queen-size bed, 2 nightstands with a drawer in each and a bottom shelf, a small loveseat and table, a desk with 9 drawers and chair. There are also additional cabinets above the desk area and also inside the bathroom. The closets were big, and they had adjustable shelving in them. They were equipped with hangers, although I always bring more. With room to store our 5 pieces of luggage under the bed, the closets and drawers had enough room for all of our things. There is also a safe inside the cabin. The room was equipped with a hairdryer and also a refrigerator. (Note: the refrigerator is stocked with soda and candy for a price. We asked our stateroom attendant to remove these items, which he happily did, and we placed our own supply of soda which we brought along, inside the refrigerator) I would suggest bringing an extension cord and small travel iron for convenience. The bathroom had a shower, and they had adjustable shelving in them sliding half-moon shape door. I do not know how very large passengers can fit inside; it is not very big. There was a small clothesline inside the shower which came in handy for drying bathing suits or any items which may have needed to be hand washed and dried. The sink area had a small counter and there was a shelf beneath it for additional storage. Of course there was a TV with remote, and the TV was interactive, including being able to order shore excursions, check your billing statement and view activities going on throughout the ship, e.g. shows you may have missed. , and they had adjustable shelving in them The ship itself is laid out in a very organized fashion, and it did not seem difficult to navigate or find your way around. Also because it is so large, and there are so many options for activities, that it never really seemed crowded. We never waited in long lines for anything. There are signs with directions and places listed on every deck near the elevators, so you can figure out which way you are going. The three-tier dining room is situated at the rear (aft) of the ship, so you do not end up dealing with portions of decks that are impassable due to the dining room being in the center of the ship, and they had adjustable shelving in them. Buffet lunch is served in the WINDJAMMER CAFÉ on the 11th deck as soon as you board. The choices of food were very good as well as the quality. There are several stations, as opposed to one long buffet line, e.g. salads, main entrees, desserts, soups. The station for iced tea, coffee, hot chocolate, water, punch, is manned by crew who serve you your drink of choice. The windjammer was also staffed by crewmembers that found you seating and also offered to get your drinks from the drink station, and sometimes even came around serving cookies. The mandatory lifeboat drill was held in the spacious 3 story dining room and it went very smoothly, not wasting too much of your time, like some we have experienced on previous ships. As for meals, we never made it to the dining room for breakfast or lunch, but had dinner there every night. We had room service twice for breakfast, and that is just great especially if you are relaxing and do not want to get up early while you are on vacation. You tip the person bringing the food and they go away with a smile. It never took more than 20 minutes from the time we ordered either. Lunch we ate usually in the Windjammer and once we ate at Johnny Rockets, which was so much fun...As soon as you arrive they deliver to your table French fries and onion rings before you even order. They serve hamburgers, hot dogs, chicken sandwiches, etc which are free. However there is a charge for shakes, soft drinks and beer. It is very much a 50's style diner, complete with jukeboxes for a nickel a song, and the waiters even will supply the nickels. Approximately every ten minutes the employees do a little song and dance to tunes such as "Staying Alive" and "YMCA." It is definitely a fun experience. We went mid afternoon, but I passed by once at noontime and there was a line to get in outside the diner. The dining rooms are very elaborate, just beautiful with all the crystal chandeliers. The colors are very tasteful and you really feel like you are at a 5-star restaurant. The service was excellent, and the food was OK. There was a nice selection, including surf and turf, which I have not had before on other cruise lines. The waiters entertained about three nights and they seemed to enjoy doing so. There was also soft live music during dinner, which we thoroughly enjoyed. As far as other food goes, there was only one Midnight Buffet and that was the Gala Buffet with elaborate ice sculptures and butter sculptures. They allowed 1 hour for photos and then afterwards the food was served at 1am. I sort of missed the Chocolate Buffet that Royal Caribbean used to have but there were enough chocolate choices at the dessert table at this event. One of our favorite places was the Cafe Promenade, located along the Royal Promenade. It is open 24 hours a day and serves pizza, cookies, desserts, fruits and small specialty sandwiches made on croissant rolls and other types of bread and rolls. And all this at no fee. We stopped by almost every day and sometimes we would take an extra sandwich up to our cabin for later at night. In the mornings they serve a variety of pastries as well. Next to this is a specialty coffee bar that you do have to pay for, and I noticed that it was never too busy. Alongside of this is Sprinkles which is a self-serve soft ice cream stand, and yes there are different varieties of sprinkles...no charge for this. The Royal Promenade was a fun place to stroll, with the usual array of shops and a few bars. They also held a Caribbean street dance here one night with a steel drum band and there were several parades, which we never seemed to catch. We really enjoyed the Schooner Bar after dinner. The entertainer was Matt Yee, and his show was a Sing-along Piano Bar type of show. The place was always packed and the entire crowd was involved. His tour is over so I do not know who is in that bar now but I understand from his web site that he will be back on Mariner of the Seas from April 18-May 30th. The other show not to be missed is the Ice Show, which is held three nights. You have to get tickets (small at no cost) for the show as there are more people who wish to go than seats, so I would advise standing in line for the tickets as soon as you see it listed on the schedule, because they do go fast. It was without question the best show we have ever seen on a cruise ship. The skating compares with the Olympics. The gym on the ship is awesome. There are 20 treadmills, all with a view of the ocean and numerous Stairmasters and every other type of machine you would find in a gym. We were there three different days and never had to wait for a machine. There is also a wonderful spa in that area-I heard it is a mineral water spa. At any rate it is not crowded and has no children and can hold at least 30 people, although the most that were ever in it when we were there was 8. It was very warm and very relaxing. There also are saunas and changing rooms in that area along with showers. I also went ice skating and that was great, after not having skated for 20 years. At first it was difficult, and I had to hang onto the wall for a few times around but then, I guess it is like riding a bike, it comes back to you, and I was able to skate, going around about 20 times and I didn't even fall. The sessions are scheduled for 45 minutes and you have to sign a waiver before you can skate. The other really cool thing was the Rock Wall, also something that requires a waiver to be signed before you climb. My husband did it twice, and I have to say the staff at the Rock Wall is awesome. Melanie Clark is the Sports Director and she as well as the rest of her staff are so encouraging and helpful. You wear a safety harness and they really help you. There was even an elderly lady who went up the wall! The rest of the Sports Activities are also available, e.g. a full-size basketball court, and a 9-hole miniature golf course. The main pool area is large with numerous deck chairs available. There were also several spas, and there was also an area, called the Solarium, which had an adults-only pool. The casino was also a place we visited a few times, although we contribute more there than we won, which is nothing new. There were plenty of slot machines and again, never did there seem to be a time when you had to wait in line to play, and the table were fine small. It was especially noticeable that children were rarely seen, and this is due to the excellent Adventure Ocean program for kids. We spoke to parents of small children and they had all good things to say about the kids program. At the end of the cruise, exiting the ship was well organized and the porters were helpful, and we were off the ship by 9:30am. There could be more areas under roof for passengers to wait to be picked up. Again this area is under construction and hopefully will improve in time. I am not going to review the ports of call, which were Nassau, St Thomas and St Maarten, except to say that in December the temperatures in St Thomas and St Maarten were 85 degrees and in Nassau were mid 70's. One other thing I must mention is that the day we arrived in St Thomas, every passenger had to get up and come to the dining between 8-9am to present themselves to US Customs officials. This was something new, mandated by Homeland Security. Since we had left US soil, landed in a foreign country (Bahamas) and then returned to a US possession (ST Thomas) we had to comply. It was the only part of the cruise that was not enjoyable. My intent was mainly to review the ship so I will end here. I have posted some photos of the ship on my website which you can view if you are interested. http://community.webshots.com/user/margieeee If you have any questions, feel free to e-mail me at Margieeee@adelphia.net Read Less
Sail Date: December 2003
This is a review that I almost didn't write...well sort of. Let me explain. After cruising for over 10 years, and after having never written a review...I thought I owed it to myself and others thinking of cruising to finally submit my ... Read More
This is a review that I almost didn't write...well sort of. Let me explain. After cruising for over 10 years, and after having never written a review...I thought I owed it to myself and others thinking of cruising to finally submit my thoughts for a recent cruise. After al...l I've read hundreds of reviews online, and after promising myself and others for a long time.... Well here it is. Hopefully the grammar and spelling will not discourage the readers of this review to do the same. Mariner of the Seas December 14, 2003 By Mark Chatfield I started my cruise with a drive from Baltimore to Cape Canaveral. A brief overnight in Savannah, GA., after a 11 hour drive... and then 5 more hours to Cocoa Beach, Florida. I stayed at the Cocoa Beach Hilton Oceanfront. I read many reviews on this hotel, and I must say I was a little uncertain on my choice. Ten reviewers thought that the hotel was wonderful, while ten others thought it was terrible. Here's the scenario, this is a beachfront hotel that has some lovely public areas, and grounds with a perfect oceanfront location. There are several bars and 2 restaurants, with a very accommodating staff. The problem with the Hilton is that the rooms are very tired and worn with no balconies. The very knowledgeable bellman was eager to disclose that a major renovation of every room will begin in January 2004. It seems that the previous owners were not to incline to upgrade the facility as long as the customers kept filling the hotel. The locals have a high regard for this hotel, and after staying there for three nights....I would have to recommend the Cocoa Beach Hilton for a pre cruise stay. Cruise Day, December 14, 2003 "Welcome to Sunny Florida" Not really...it's about 70f and raining; but that's alright, because I'll be boarding the newest, and largest passenger ship in the world! I got to the pier at about 10:30AM and was allowed to park my car right away.(payable by cash or credit $70.00-pay before entering) As I left the garage, I found it nice that you can walk from the garage to the terminal without getting wet, due to the awning over the walkway. There were a few people there already, but there was no line at all for the x-ray check. After the brief security check, it was up the escalator to the check in line. There were about 6 people in line for standard check-in, and no one in the Suite-Diamond-Platinum check in line. I waited there until check in opened at around 11:30. I went to the much discussed pier coordinators desk (located at the right of the left side of check-in terminals) It seem that this was not an empty ship, but there were no suites available for that sailing. I though that there must be a mistake, as I just checked the availability of cabins the previous night, and there were 6 suites still open. I was assured that all suites were taken, and that I would enjoy my D1cabin and the beautiful Mariner of the Seas. There were cookies, coffee and lemonade available for all passengers in the terminal. The early/priority embarkation system appears to be for the Miami terminal only because when it was time to board the ship at 11:45, it was a free for all to the gangway. There was no chaos, but it was not as orderly as Miami has been previously. Port Canaveral has recently built 2 new gangways for the arrival of the Mariner of the Seas at terminal 9/10. This allows for dual embarkation lines on the ship, and seemed to work very well. I have read several reviews for the Mariner, and I should have know what to expect having sailed on the Explorer of the Seas in 2001, and Voyager of the Seas in 2003. After thinking that I've been there, and done that...I was not expecting to be amazed at the ship I was boarding today. PART 2 When I entered the ship on deck 4, the first thing I noticed was the beautiful Bolero's Lounge. This lounge was very beautiful (maybe the 2nd best on the ship).The beautiful Spanish design was adorned with all of the expected holiday greenery, and the unexpected hand-blown glass flower sculptures were beautiful. There were leather lounge chairs and sofas for about 100 people. The size of Bolero's was the full width of the ship with the bar area being on the port side. Aft of Bolero's was the elevator lobby and the dining rooms. Forward was the Casino Royale. I immediately went to find my stateroom on deck nine (Wow, no waiting for the elevator...this would change later in the week...) As I approached my cabin, I couldn't help but noticing the smell of the new carpets and just noticing the "newness" of the ship. I always try to cruise on newer ships, but after all...this was going to be Voyage #5 for the Mariner. My cabin (#9650) was very spacious (178 sq ft), and even a little deeper than I had imagined...probably due to the new design of the hull, with the balconies attached to the outside of the superstructure. My last 2 cruises on a Voyager Class ship were in a Cat B (381 sq ft)and a Cat A (506 sq ft), so I expected it to be smaller. This cabin was perfect for me, very bright, with convenient storage areas and a great balcony (42 sq ft). The sofa was very large, even large enough for me (at 6'3") to stretch out on. The only thing that I tough was lacking was front panel jacks on the tv. That feature would have been convenient to view the daily digital camera and camcorder pix, (This feature was on the Explorer and Voyager). There were innovative reading lamps attached to the wall sconces that swiveled and had individual controls. There was also (thoughtfully) a master light switch that turned on all cabin lights, located right next to the bed. There was more than enough storage for me, with many drawers and hanger being unused. After I dropped of my carry-ons, the first thing I did was go to Guest Relations on deck 5 for my CyberCabin kit. There was no line, and the kit was given to be in exchange for my Sea Pass card, which they promptly charged me $100.00 for the week. They said that I should return it on Saturday before 6PM. I asked them if there were many kits available for cabins, and was a little surprised to here that only 25 CyberCabin kits were available for each sailing. She explained that not many people bring there own laptops on the ship. The kit simply consists of a telephone, power supply, and the necessary cable to attach with your laptop. A short instruction sheet was also included. It couldn't have been easier to install. I was very please with the connection for most of the week. For using email, It would have been perfect. The only time it seemed slow for me is when I was uploading photos to my photo page, and Cruise Critic from the ship. I didn't return the Cyber Cabin kit until 12M on Saturday, and there were no penalties. I definitely reccomend CyberCabin, if you think you will be using the internet a lot. I met with a group of about 40 Cruise Critic members at 3:30PM for our "Meet and Mingle" get together at Ellington's in the Viking Crown Lounge on Deck14. It was hosted by one of the Cruise Entertainment staff members. She handed out raffle tickets, and gave away about 12 door prizes. (Hats, key chains, etc..). There were cookies and coffee set up for the group as well. It was very fun to meet some of the people that I have chatted with on Cruise Critic prior to the cruise. It was a very friendly, outgoing crowd. Our muster drill was at about 4:15PM, and we pulled out of port at about 6PM. The weather was cold and windy at sail away, but I knew that the warm Caribbean weather was going to be right around the corner. PART 3 The first night of my cruise was very entertaining, I went to the "Welcome Aboard" show in the Savoy. Chris Rush (Our Cruise Director) was hosting the show. He is part of the Start-Up Team for Royal Caribbean. Chris and several other key personnel are on onboard each new ship for a few months to help get everything started perfectly. He leaves the Mariner late January for vacation, and will be back for the Jewel of the Seas Inaugural. The star of tonight's show was Chris Bliss, he was hilarious. The Mariner of the Seas Orchestra might also be one of the best Cruise Orchestras' that I've heard. An artistic dance duo, (Duo Clomax) was also featured. The first night, there was only one show scheduled for all guests. For the first night only, the seating times were 6PM and 9PM. This would allow all passengers to attend the Variety Show, All other nights the seating times were 6PM, and 8:30PM. The beautiful dining room onboard Mariner might be the best of the fleet. The theme for the Mariner main dining areas was Music, as the name of the 3 main dining areas were Rhapsody in Blue (deck 3), Top Hat and Tails (deck4) and The Sound of Music (deck5). The beautiful chandelier was again added to this beautiful area (this was missing from some of the other Voyager Class Ships). I had late seating in the Top Hat and Tail dining room. The food was superb, and I was able to meet some other folks at my table who were very friendly. I only dined in the main dining room for 2 nights (Sunday and Tuesday) as I decided to try the other dining choices for the rest of the week (Chops, Jade, and Windjammer). Since I was traveling solo, I thought I would try to do things differently. Many people have asked about soft drinks in the dining room. If you order one, you will be charged, but they will provide free refills. There was a very good string quartet playing in the dining room between deck 4/5 each evening. The service at dinner was very good. Our waiter told us that over half of the waiters on board had just been promoted, and his was partly his job to help train them. They all seemed like veterans to me. The Promenade had a great parade that was well attended. It was called "The Island a Go-Go Bon Voyage Parade". I recommend that all go to this spectacle. Between, having lots of fun, eating, and exploring the ship, I spent about 3-4 hours per day uploading photos, and posting reports for my "Live" from the Mariner Cruise Critic posts from my Cyber Cabin connection. I also had an Earthmate GPS connected to my laptop to track our course through the Western Caribbean. the GPS stayed connected most of the time (with a 20ft USB connection cable, the GPS was attached to the balcony railing) I was still able to keep the balcony door closed, due to the heavy rubber seal around the door. I also kept a handheld GPS (Garmin) with me to use when I was on deck. It came in nice to be able to identify some of the small islands we passed. I am very impressed with some of the changes I have noticed on board (compared with Voyager and Explorer) like the addition of Jade and Chops. Portifino's is configured differently, and the Entire layout of the Windjammer has changed. The new design of the balconies are very nice as well with full glass (except for the aft cabins) and lots of White aluminum and stainless steel (less rust). There are no A/C vents in the ceiling (at least not in my cabin).The ventilation is sent through the top of the vanity. This is good for tall passengers (like me). Mariner of the Seas is also the first Voyager Class Ship with a significant amount of art on the outside decks. Artist, Romero Britto lent his talents to Mariner's 25,000 sq ft pool deck by creating a one of a kind outdoor gallery with whimsical figures and playful gallery creations. The promenade deck has the new "Vintages" Wine Bar (introduced on Navigator) which features a vast selection of wines, and very knowledgeable "Wine Tenders" who are eager to let you sample any of the wines on board. "Boleros", the Latin themed lounge on deck 4 that made its debut on Navigator is back on Mariner as well. Our first day at Sea (Monday) was very warm (82f), but overcast most of the day, with a short shower earlier. Today was our first full day of cruising and there was really too, too, much to do. I suggest you review your Compass and decide on the things you want to do most. There were a ton of activities for everyone. I scanned all of the daily Cruise Compasses for anyone who would like to view them. We navigated through the Bahamas Channel and the northeast coast of Cuba on our way to Labadee, Haiti. My dinner tonight was at Chops Steakhouse, and I recommend it to all steak lovers' out there. My only complaint was the Maryland Crab cake. (It wasn't from Maryland, and it didn't taste like a crab cake) But everything else was perfect. There must have been 4 people serving my table (And I was the only one at the table).It seemed to be a slow night at Chops (probably due to Formal Night). I am told that Wednesday is the busiest night there. The staff at Chop's really went out of there way to make sure that the service and food would be so perfect, that you would want to return. I did.... I went to Chop's for a second time on Friday and it was equally superb. . I did not go to Portifino's this week (I went to Portifino's on Voyager and Explorer, and I would rank them far below Chops). I went to bed late after posting many photos (over 100). The week had just started, as we were about to visit 4 ports during the next 4 days. PART 4 The ports of call for this Western Caribbean sailing were Labadee, Haiti on Tuesday; Ocho Rios, Jamaica on Wednesday; Georgetown, Grand Cayman on Thursday; and my favorite port of Cozumel, Mexico on Friday. I have decided not to review the ports of call for this cruise, because they have all been discussed in great detail in other reviews. The only port, or should I say non port experience for us was the Port of Georgetown, Grand Cayman. As we pulled close to Grand Cayman on Wednesday morning, there was a lot of excitement and anticipation. Many people were planning on shopping, diving, snorkeling, or planning a visit to Stingray City. The weather was a little cool and very windy...but who cares about that? We were all on vacation. As we pulled closer to the port, I knew something was wrong. There were supposed to be 5 ships in Georgetown today, all to be anchored just off shore, but there were none. The only other visible ship was Fascination, but she was heading the wrong way. A closer inspection of the port showed waves crashing over the tender pier (we were less than a mile from the shoreline). That's when the announcement came over the intercom that no one wanted to here. "Good Morning, Good Morning, Good Morning" in that all too familiar Norwegian accent. It was Captain Johnny Faevelin announcing that the port authorities had closed the tender pier, due to weather in Georgetown, Grand Cayman. The wind was over 40 kts and it would be unsafe for all passengers while tendering ashore. The decision was completely understood by most, if not all of the passengers. I'm sure that some people might have been upset, but I didn't hear or see anyone who was. We were told that the Mariner was currently negotiating with the Port Authorities in Cozumel to allow us to dock earlier than planned on Friday. We would simply have an extra day at sea. The Captain received an enormous applause (at least from Deck 11) when he announced that all bars and lounges would be serving free Bloody Mary's and Screwdrivers from 11:30 Am until 12:30 PM. The Cruise Director later joked that "the best way to handle an upset passenger is to get them drunk!" I can tell you that every bar I walked by was packed for that hour. A revised Cruise Compass was also sent to each cabin, as there were many, many new activities planned for the day. Some SPA specials, an added Movie in the Screening Room, more BINGO, and added sports times were included. The evening activities remained the same. All passengers with shore excursions were issued refunds. I'm sure that missing a port of call must have cost RCI a lot of revenue. By mid day, everyone's thoughts were on our next port, Cozumel. The weather report called for clear skies, and warm breezes. We ended up in Cozumel from 8AM until 7PM. I would like to discuss briefly the Crown and Anchor Party. Our party was held in the Beautiful Lotus Lounge. I think that this is the most beautiful lounge on the ship. The lounge was decorated with an Asian theme, with a lot of red, and gold, upholstered furniture with lots of pillows. All 3 Crown and Anchor parties were held here. We were told at our party that there were over 3300 passengers on board, 800 of them were Crown and Anchor members, so the decision was made to have 2 C&A parties (one for main and late seating guests), and one more the next night for the Platinum/Diamond members.(There were about 150). There was live entertainment for both nights, with plenty of servers and mixed drinks. The only difference I noticed between the two parties was that the Platinum/Diamond members could order any type of drink they wanted from the servers. The food/snacks might have been upgraded a bit as well, with different choices of seafood, and beef hour devours. The Captain was there for all parties and spoke briefly about RCI plans, and took questions for about 15 minutes. He discussed briefly that RCI had only two other ships on order. The first ship delivered in Early Spring of 2004 would be the Jewel of the Seas (Radiance Class), and the Unnamed "Ultra Voyager Class" Ship. All he would say about the new "Ultra" is the balconies would all be larger (The cabin sizes should remain the same), and that it should be 32 meters longer than the Voyager Class. He also added that when completed, it would be 100,000 GRT larger than the Queen Mary 2. Everyone who wanted to had a chance to chat with the Captain, or have there photo taken. He appeared to be very genuine, very friendly and outgoing. Captain Johnny Faevelin is also part of the Voyager Start-Up crew, but plans to be the Captain of the Mariner of the Seas for a long time. I had the chance to visit a couple of other cabins on board Mariner(thanks to some very friendly passengers who offered me the chance to take a few photos for posting) The first cabin I visited was a Cat JS or (C) cabin at the "hump" on the starboard side of deck nine. I was truly impressed with the design of this cabin. The colors were green and gold, and seemed very warm and inviting (Voyager Cat C's were using the Orange type sofa and chairs).The cabin included a super large sofa that pulled out to a queen size sofa bed. A large comfy lounge chair with ottoman was also thoughtfully included. Large floor to ceiling glass filled half of the outside wall, while the other half had a large sliding glass door. The cabin appeared to be almost twice the width of a standard D1 cabin. This cabin was also a little deeper, due to being at the "hump of the ship". I would have to say that this cabin has to be the most beautiful cat C cabin on any RCI ship! The second cabin I visited was the famous "Cabin 1688", arguably the most discussed and sought after cabin on any Voyager Class ship. I now agree with all of the passengers who have recommended this cabin. This cabin is almost twice the width of a standard cabin with the same furniture as a Cat C. The only difference between this cabin and a Cat C, is the bathroom, which is much bigger in the "C". Cabin 1688 also boasted a HUGE balcony (I would guess at about 120SQ Ft), that was partially shaded with a beautiful view of the wake. It seemed less windy and very quiet, There was more than enough room for 5-chairs or loungers. This would be a great cabin to book (if you can find one) for just a little bit of money. Conclusion I decided when I started this review not to talk about the ports, due to their frequent discussions, on the boards, and in many travel books....however, I would like to tell you a little about some of the changes in Ocho Rios, Jamaica. (at least, the new changes for me).There really is no passenger facility at the dock, just a small group of stores that serves as kind of a checkpoint for those needing access to the pier. The stores are very small, and sell souvenirs, drinks and gifts. Just a few blocks away though, is a very nice "Cruise Ship Passenger" shopping area. I say this because, I doubt, that many of the locals would ever bother coming to this area. It is called Island Village. This area is just about 2-3 blocks from the terminal area, and appears to be quite shielded from what many others have complained about when discussing the cruise ship area. Gone are the pushy salespeople, aggressive cabbies, and beggars. It was very pleasant relaxing day to walk about the shops, and eateries there. The most crowded area at Island Village was Jimmy Buffet's Magaritaville-Ocho Rios, right on the beach with a small pool and big waterslide. I stopped at a small cafe in the outdoor mall area of Island Village and enjoyed a great cup of some local Jamaican coffee....very smooth. The only thing I didn't like about Island Village is that I could not buy a USA Today....no big deal, it was interesting to read the local news anyway. Before I conclude this review, I must talk about some of the other areas on the beautiful Mariner of the Seas. The Screening Room, down on deck 2 is a small cinema that seats about 50. There were several days during the cruise that feature films were shown in the Screening Room. It was very comfortable and not crowded at all when I went thereduring a sea day. The Casino Royale is laid out like the other Voyager Class ship, but with a State Fair theme, boasting the Strong Man and Snake Charmer statues at its entrance. Gone are the penny slots like those found on Explorer (In the men's room). The dealers and slot attendants very all friendly. I love the look of the Casino, but I didn't win any money on this trip. I did see several big jackpots being hit though. It was always very crowded in the evenings. There are just a couple areas left for me to discuss in this review. The first is the Windjammer Cafe area on deck 11. What once was just the Windjammer on other ships has evolved into a large multi eatery, multi taste experience. When you first enter the WJ, you now see a big map which will explain to you where everything is. Chop Steakhouse is on the right, Portifinos is on the left, and the new Plaza bar is straight ahead. It's a great idea for passengers' to have a bar right there for casual diners, or passengers waiting for their table at Chop's or Portifinos (not to mention the revenue generated). On either side of the Plaza bar is Jade (casual dining), and in the back is the Windjammer Cafe. The drink stations have changed there too. There are servers for all of the drink areas, for coffee and drinks. There is never a back up for drinks, like in the past. The food at the Windjammer was always very good. There were usually several entrEe items that were also being served in the main dining rooms for the evening. Tipping was not required or suggested, however the servers accepted a gratuity with a big smile and "thank you". The Windjammer on Mariner is without question, the best casual dining venue on any mainstream cruise line (in my opinion of course). There have been many discussions about the Ice Show in Studio B. I for one have enjoyed the 2 previous shows on Explorer and Voyager. I would tell you that you must not miss the new show on Mariner "Ice under the Big Top" I took a few photos, however no photo could do justice for the spectacle that this show is. It is fantastic, and I hope this will be the new show for all Voyager Class ships. The music is great, and the skaters are very, very good. The production shows at Studio "B" may be the very best on the ship. There are lots of great seats there, and I had no problem getting tickets for the shows. Go to the first show or the second show...just be sure and go. You will not be disappointed. As we pulled back into the port on Sunday morning, I was thinking about all the things I loved about the Mariner of the Seas. I really liked almost everything, but the things that stood out were the decor of the ship and cabins, the entertainers and shows, the friendly staff, and the feeling of being on a brand new ship. It was a wonderful cruise. The decision to place a Voyager class vessel at Port Canaveral was a bold choice for RCI, however I really think it was a smart decision. As I left the ship Sunday morning, I was pleased to see that there were 8 immigration officers facilitating the debarking process, and the new airport style baggage claim area was very easy for me. It only took 15 minutes from the time they called my baggage color, until the time I was in my car. I can't wait to go back. I hope I have been able to help those would be cruisers, or specifically...Mariner of the Seas cruisers. If you are a seasoned cruise veteran, or have never been on a cruise, you will absolutely love your voyage on the beautiful Mariner of the Seas. Mark Chatfield Read Less
Sail Date: December 2003
We just came off the 4th sailing of the new MARINER OF THE SEAS, the Eastern Caribbean itinerary, and both my husband and I agree that this was the best cruise we have ever been on, and this makes cruise #22 for us. Of course being the ... Read More
We just came off the 4th sailing of the new MARINER OF THE SEAS, the Eastern Caribbean itinerary, and both my husband and I agree that this was the best cruise we have ever been on, and this makes cruise #22 for us. Of course being the largest ship afloat, along with Royal Caribbean's other 4 Voyager-class ships, is part of the reason and also the fact that it is the newest ship sailing. All the staff and crew seemed to go out of their way to be friendly and especially helpful. It was obvious that they were not new employees; in fact most we talked with have had numerous years sailing either on Royal Caribbean or other cruise lines. Embarkation at Port Canaveral was of course more crowded than we experienced on previous sailings, but when you have 3600 other passengers boarding a ship, it is to be expected. All in all it went fairly smoothly and we were on the ship by 12:30pm. The parking situation leaves something to be desired however and hopefully in the future it will become more efficient. The parking garage is open, although there is still much construction in the area. Our cabin was an inside on the 10th deck and it was plenty big enough for the two of us, including the queen-size bed, 2 nightstands with a drawer in each and a bottom shelf, a small loveseat and table, a desk with 9 drawers and chair. There are also additional cabinets above the desk area and also inside the bathroom. The closets were big, and they had adjustable shelving in them. They were equipped with hangers, although I always bring more. With room to store our 5 pieces of luggage under the bed, the closets and drawers had enough room for all of our things. There is also a safe inside the cabin. The room was equipped with a hairdryer and also a refrigerator. (Note: the refrigerator is stocked with soda and candy for a price. We asked our stateroom attendant to remove these items, which he happily did, and we placed our own supply of soda which we brought along, inside the refrigerator) I would suggest bringing an extension cord and small travel iron for convenience. The bathroom had a shower with a sliding half-moon shape door. I do not know how very large passengers can fit inside; it is not very big. There was a small clothesline inside the shower which came in handy for drying bathing suits or any items which may have needed to be hand washed and dried. The sink area had a small counter and there was a shelf beneath it for additional storage. Of course there was a TV with remote, and the TV was interactive, including being able to order shore excursions, check your billing statement and view activities going on throughout the ship, e.g. shows you may have missed. The ship itself is laid out in a very organized fashion, and it did not seem difficult to navigate or find your way around. Also because it is so large, and there are so many options for activities, that it never really seemed crowded. We never waited in long lines for anything. There are signs with directions and places listed on every deck near the elevators, so you can figure out which way you are going. The three-tier dining room is situated at the rear (aft) of the ship, so you do not end up dealing with portions of decks that are impassable due to the dining room being in the center of the ship. There is the usual buffet lunch served in the WINDJAMMER CAFÉ on the 11th deck as soon as you board. The choices of food were very good as well as the quality. There are several stations, as opposed to one long buffet line, e.g. salads, main entrees, desserts, soups. The station for iced tea, coffee, hot chocolate, water, punch, is manned by crew who serve you your drink of choice. The Windjammer was also staffed by crewmembers that found you seating and also offered to get your drinks from the drink station, and sometimes even came around serving cookies. The mandatory lifeboat drill was held in the spacious 3 story dining room and it went very smoothly, not wasting too much of your time, like some we have experienced on previous ships. As for meals, we never made it to the dining room for breakfast or lunch, but had dinner there every night. We had room service twice for breakfast, and that is just great especially if you are relaxing and do not want to get up early while you are on vacation. You tip the person bringing the food and they go away with a smile. It never took more than 20 minutes from the time we ordered either. Lunch we ate usually in the Windjammer and once we ate at Johnny Rockets, which was so much fun...As soon as you arrive they deliver to your table French fries and onion rings before you even order. They serve hamburgers, hot dogs, chicken sandwiches, etc which are free. However there is a charge for shakes, soft drinks and beer. It is very much a 50's style diner, complete with jukeboxes for a nickel a song, and the waiters even will supply the nickels. Approximately every ten minutes the employees do a little song and dance to tunes such as "Staying Alive" and "YMCA." It is definitely a fun experience. We went mid afternoon, but I passed by once at noontime and there was a line to get in outside the diner. The dining rooms are very elaborate, just beautiful with all the crystal chandeliers. The colors are very tasteful and you really feel like you are at a 5-star restaurant. The service was excellent, and the food was OK. There was a nice selection, including surf and turf, which I have not had before on other cruise lines. The waiters entertained about three nights and they seemed to enjoy doing so. There was also soft live music during dinner, which we thoroughly enjoyed. As far as other food goes, there was only one Midnight Buffet and that was the Gala Buffet with elaborate ice sculptures and butter sculptures. They allowed 1 hour for photos and then afterwards the food was served at 1am. I sort of missed the Chocolate Buffet that Royal Caribbean used to have but there were enough chocolate choices at the dessert table at this event. One of our favorite places was the Cafe Promenade, located along the Royal Promenade. It is open 24 hours a day and serves pizza, cookies, desserts, fruits and small specialty sandwiches made on croissant rolls and other types of bread and rolls. And all this at no fee. We stopped by almost every day and sometimes we would take an extra sandwich up to our cabin for later at night. In the mornings they serve a variety of pastries as well. Next to this is a specialty coffee bar that you do have to pay for, and I noticed that it was never too busy. Alongside of this is Sprinkles which is a self-serve soft ice cream stand, and yes there are different varieties of sprinkles...no charge for this. The Royal Promenade was a fun place to stroll, with the usual array of shops and a few bars. They also held a Caribbean street dance here one night with a steel drum band and there were several parades, which we never seemed to catch. We really enjoyed the Schooner Bar after dinner. The entertainer was Matt Yee, and his show was a Sing-along Piano Bar type of show. The place was always packed and the entire crowd was involved. His tour is over so I do not know who is in that bar now but I understand from his web site that he will be back on Mariner of the Seas from April 18-May 30th. The other show not to be missed is the Ice Show, which is held three nights. You have to get tickets (small at no cost) for the show as there are more people who wish to go than seats, so I would advise standing in line for the tickets as soon as you see it listed on the schedule, because they do go fast. It was without question the best show we have ever seen on a cruise ship. The skating compares with the Olympics. The gym on the ship is awesome. There are 20 treadmills, all with a view of the ocean and numerous Stairmasters and every other type of machine you would find in a gym. We were there three different days and never had to wait for a machine. There is also a wonderful spa in that area-I heard it is a mineral water spa. At any rate it is not crowded and has no children and can hold at least 30 people, although the most that were ever in it when we were there was 8. It was very warm and very relaxing. There also are saunas and changing rooms in that area along with showers. I also went ice skating and that was great, after not having skated for 20 years. At first it was difficult, and I had to hang onto the wall for a few times around but then, I guess it is like riding a bike, it comes back to you, and I was able to skate, going around about 20 times and I didn't even fall. The sessions are scheduled for 45 minutes and you have to sign a waiver before you can skate. The other really cool thing was the Rock Wall, also something that requires a waiver to be signed before you climb. My husband did it twice, and I have to say the staff at the Rock Wall is awesome. Melanie Clark is the Sports Director and she as well as the rest of her staff are so encouraging and helpful. You wear a safety harness and they really help you. There was even an elderly lady who went up the wall! The rest of the Sports Activities are also available, e.g. a full-size basketball court, and a 9-hole miniature golf course. The main pool area is large with numerous deck chairs available. There were also several spas, and there was also an area, called the Solarium, which had an adults-only pool. The casino was also a place we visited a few times, although we contribute more there than we won, which is nothing new. There were plenty of slot machines and again, never did there seem to be a time when you had to wait in line to play, and the table were fine small. It was especially noticeable that children were rarely seen, and this is due to the excellent Adventure Ocean program for kids. We spoke to parents of small children and they had all good things to say about the kids program. At the end of the cruise, exiting the ship was well organized and the porters were helpful, and we were off the ship by 9:30am. There could be more areas under roof for passengers to wait to be picked up. Again this area is under construction and hopefully will improve in time. I am not going to review the ports of call, which were Nassau, St Thomas and St Maarten, except to say that in December the temperatures in St Thomas and St Maarten were 85 degrees and in Nassau were mid 70's. One other thing I must mention is that the day we arrived in St Thomas, every passenger had to get up and come to the dining between 8-9am to present themselves to US Customs officials. This was something new, mandated by Homeland Security. Since we had left US soil, landed in a foreign country (Bahamas) and then returned to a US possession (ST Thomas) we had to comply. It was the only part of the cruise that was not enjoyable. My intent was mainly to review the ship so I will end here. I have posted some photos of the ship on my website which you can view if you are interested. http://community.webshots.com/user/margieeee Read Less
Sail Date: December 2003
Here's my review of the absolutely stunning Mariner of the Seas , 5th sailing on 12/14-12/21,2003. I must begin this review with Captain Johnny to whom I must thank for a perfect and wonderful week. This Captain is friendly, ... Read More
Here's my review of the absolutely stunning Mariner of the Seas , 5th sailing on 12/14-12/21,2003. I must begin this review with Captain Johnny to whom I must thank for a perfect and wonderful week. This Captain is friendly, personable and a bit "off the wall" in a good way! I truly believe that it his wonderful relationship with each and every one of the crew members that made this my favorite cruise to date! I spoke with a few of the staff and they told me that when other Captains call a meeting they dread attending. However when Capt. Johnny calls a meeting they can't wait to get there! It's amazing how this attitude dribbles right on down the line to the passengers ....this is the very first time I did not hear one (none/zero) complaint from any fellow cruisers! Now here are some notes...thoughts and others.... Day one: First we awoke to hear that Saddam Hussein had been captured! What a way to start a vacation! We began the 2.5 hour drive to the port to weather that was bad...getting worse. Rain and winds made for a difficult drive. We arrived at Port Canaveral at about 1pm. Parking and unloading is a disaster....but I won't go into detail as there is a lot of construction being done in that area at this time and I am sure all will be smooth in no time! Parking is $10.00 per day, pre paid. You may use cash, Master Card or Visa...but you may NOT use American Express. We entered the terminal, through x ray with our carry on bags...one of which contained a bottle of champagne and 2 champagne glasses, a bottle of wine, some beer and a bottle of Kirshwasser (horrid stuff!). The latter was a gift to a couple of Swiss guys we had met on the Cruise Critic board before our trip. Being a little nervous about this being confiscated. Our fears were calmed when we reached the end of the belt and the x-ray tech smiled and said "Good Stuff"!! We entered the welcome area and although the lines were long they moved rather quickly. Somehow our Seapass card was misplaced so we waited while new ones were being made for us. I would have to say that from the time we arrived at the port until the time we actually boarded was somewhere about 1.5 hours. We entered the ship on the 4th deck...forward. Arriving in a stairwell I didn't feel the full WOW effect that I would have for the rest of the week that followed. Up stairs we went to check out our first ever balcony cabin! Beautiful, clean, fresh and new! But we didn't linger long as we really needed to check out parts of the ship as well as make our way to Ellington's (part of the Viking Crown) to meet up with Meet and Mingle members for an ornament exchange. It was so great to finally put humans to pen names! Back to our cabin to grab our life jacket for the most painless muster drill ever. Basically you just showed up and it was over before it began! Back to our cabin for sail away with champagne on the balcony. We also took a moment to adorn our balcony with xmas lights we had packed for this purpose! We met one of our next door neighbors who I spoke with several times throughout the cruise! Never did exchange names though! That's the way the whole week was! Everyone so friendly and happy! One big block party all week long! Our luggage had been placed in our cabin so we began to unpack and settle in for the week. Also getting ready for late dinner which was at 9pm this evening but 8:30 pm for the rest of the week. Dress was casual this evening. Our table #550 was just wonderful! I don't know how Royal Caribbean does it but we were at a table for 8 and all of us got along wonderfully! What a great group of folks we met! Our waiter Alex and asst. Cruz were terrific. The atmosphere at our table and all the other tables in the area was fun the entire week. One word about the wine and dine package-it was $160.00 plus 15% gratuity for 7 nights. We did run into a problem one evening when we decided to dine more casually in the Windjammer. Our Head Waitress, Marianna (who was wonderful!!) had told us the evening before that all we needed to do was show up at the Windjammer and give our table number along with our name and there would be no problem enjoying a bottle of wine with our dinner.....!!! Haha...All in all, I don't think we will purchase this package when we return in April! I feel it would be much easier to just order wine by the glass. After dinner we went back to our cabin to meet our Steward Hussen (imagine the ribbing he got all week long with a name like that!) I requested a larger ice bucket and from then on found not one but 2 ice buckets in our cabin! Always full! We checked out the ship a bit and finally succumbed to much needed sleep. We slept that night with our balcony door opened. Ahhhh..... Day two: At sea..... We awoke to room service calling ahead to see if it was OK to bring our order! Breakfast on the balcony. Nice. I couldn't wait to get going to explore the ship! We ascended up to the upper level of the ship and walked the mile loop along with about 60 other folks! Did some exploring. Went to the duty free shop and bought several bottles of Rum and also a couple bottles of Absolute to take back to our cabin with us. After learning that there was a $9.50 per BOTTLE charge for bringing it to our room we opted to save all but 2 bottles until departure day. Let's see...oh, we ate lunch at Johnny Rockets...very good but the double burger wouldn't fit in King Kongs' mouth! Then at 1pm it was off to our Meet and Mingle once again to take place in Ellington's Lounge. We met Tracy, the ships social hostess. She is very sweet, from York, England! Considering the fact that she was in need of a root canal that week and had to wait until we reached Cozumel she did a wonderful job! After this we strolled around the main pool area and got there just in time to see Mr. Skinny Legs! Now, I am not a huge fan of this type of activity but let me tell you it was about the funniest thing I had seen in a long time! We really were sailing with a bunch of fun loving folks! At 3pm we met my Mom at the wine tasting...a word here...don't waste you time! Because it was formal night and I had never had an "up" do I made an appt. for the spa for 7:00. Another word here...do NOT have too many cocktails before you get your hair done! The price for the do wasn't too bad...but I am now the proud owner of a diamond barrette that I need to lock in a safe!!!!!! I won't even tell you what I paid for it! I scrambled to get dressed and get out of our cabin to go watch Captain Johnny welcome us all aboard! What a show!!! Then to dinner and the Karaoke talent contest (more laughs!) ! Then to bed since tomorrow we would be at Labadee and we wanted to get up early to watch us sail in! Day three: Labadee... Haiti is absolutely beautiful from the ship. Steep. Lush green mountains rushing down to meet the blue Caribbean Sea.... The tenders here are huge and virtually no waiting at all to get off the ship. Labadee is very pretty...the area is broken up into coves and beaches. The far side of the island has a longer beach but because of the steep incline it really isn't the type beach to just take a nice long walk on! I guess I am spoiled living here in Florida and the endless beaches to walk on! Word of advice here....don't rush to be the first one off the ship....there are lots of lounge chair people just waiting to set up lounges for you ...for a tip...of course! If you wait a while a lot of lounges have already been abandoned and you can just ease on into one! The second and most important word of advice....if you want to shop...when you are looking at the shopping area there is a store on your left hand side where no one bothers you at all!! Matter of fact you have to ask for help! Now.. you go in the store on your right and there are more people selling you things that there are things to buy (if you catch my drift!) I couldn't wait to get out of there...I needed air! I have never had to say "NO" so much in my life...and I have raise 2 kids...so if this gives you any indication at all of the hagglers..... After the BBQ lunch we decided to head back to the ship so we could be chair hogs! Oh....tonite was 50's night ....C&A repeaters party in the Lotus Lounge starring Ken Rush and Capt. Johnny! We learned that the new Ultra Voyager would be about 100 yards longer than the Mariner! When asked what the new ship may have to fill in extra space Capt. Johnny suggested Tennis and a bowling alley! Who knows!!! After diner was the Quest!!! I can't say too much about it....I laughed so hard I hurt myself a couple times! Oh and one other thing...my Dad "James" decided to be a team captain! Nuff said! Day four: Ocho Rios..... I was so hesitant about this port...but don't believe all that you read!!!! That is all I can say! Jamaica is beautiful!!! The rails leading into the duty free shops are painted Caribbean blue and green!! In our usual "vacation" mode of strolling off the ship we were a bit late for our Peat Taylor tour. But.. When in Jamaica there is always no problem mon!! Peat arrived within minutes and gave us a special ride over to the falls! I had e-mailed him way back in August. It totally amazed me that when we got on his bus he greeted me by my name!!! We were careful to walk the way Peat told us to...avoiding the hagglers that lurked off to the right and left of the park. There is one very comical man dressed up as a woman and he has a donkey all covered in flowers. DO NOT take his picture.. it will cost you! We met up with our group and proceeded to venture down to the bottom of the falls! This is a spectacular sight to see.... The river flowing right on out to the open sea! We held hands as a human chain and proceeded to ascend the falls! What great fun we had!! Now, as you leave the park you must be careful not to stray. A couple on our buss were told they HAD to go through the marketplace. One of the young men was asked his name and the next thing he knew his name was engraved on a wooden statue! Lucky thing for him his wife had all their money and she was able to get him out of his jam! Peat then took us on a wonderful ride/tour through the fern gulley and way up into the mountains! Jamaica is some rugged territory! Then it was back to the ship for a quick lunch. We decided we would go to Margaritaville after lunch and Peat insisted he give us a ride. It was barely at the end of the parking lot!! Pretty funny! We said our goodbyes and checked out Margaritaville! Lots of folks having lots of fun! There is a shopping area, very new, called Island Village and there are a bunch of little shops located here. I got a really different wooden wind chime. We walked back to the ship and found an invitation to come join some of our friends in their owners suite for sail away! Very nice J. After dinner this night I think we were beat and never made it to the Caribbean pool party up stairs. Day five: Grand Cayman... Oh boy...this was the day I had waited months for....Grand Cayman...swimming with the sting rays! I just couldn't wait! One look at the shoreline and I knew..I just knew there was no way in the world we were going to Grand Cayman today. You could see the waves breaking on shore..they must have been 40 ft. high. To compensate Capt. Johnny bought us screwdrivers, bloody Mary's and Mimosas for one hour! We visited the Solarium pool...no retractable roof and actually gets quite stuffy during warmer weather. Then it was finally up to the gym. Tons of new, modern equipment. There is nothing better feeling than pedaling and looking out over the front of the ship...almost makes you feel like the faster you pedal the faster the ship will go! The weather wasn't too great this day so we did stuff like check out and make our donations to the casino...had a Molito at Boleros and basically just checked out the ship some more. We took in the skating show this evening also. Turns out one of the men in the production went to high school with Scott! Then it was off to the Platnuim /Diamond repeaters party...very nice and Ken, Johnny and Tracy were all there to chat with us again! Day five: Cozumel.... Got off the ship, met up with our Swiss friends and hopped in a cab to Dzul Ha...found that there really is nothing there and headed back to the pier. The water was still very rough from the storm that had passed through the day before. We decided to rent a car for the day. What a great idea this turned out to be. I believe it was $85.00 from Hertz for a Jeep Wrangler. We headed out along the coast and found Paradise beach. A very large green lawn leads up to a well manicured parking area! Nice J. They must have imported the sand....soft and white. There were chaise lounges there with small tables and umbrellas. Free. Sea Kayacks. Free. Water Trampoline. Free. Snorkel Gear. Free. A great bar and new,clean bathrooms. The service was great! Chi was our waiter for the day and he made sure we had plenty of cervesas! We snorkeled and lounged and drank and ate had a very , very nice day here. The time was up before we knew it and decided to take the long way back to the ship. There are so many pristine beaches along the south side of the island.. Very picturesque. We decided to make a pit stop at the Mayan Ruins....don't bother...waste of time and money...although I did get a great photo of an iguana. We about made it back to the ship for sail away! The first time I was in Cozumel I didn't care for it..now I can't wait to go back! We were so exhausted from the daytime activities that we skipped dinner...slept right through! Day 6: At sea.... Well...you know what day this is....time to pack up, say goodbyes,hand out tips and promise to e-mail everyone! Oh and don't forget it's Snowball Bingo! Yes..I went down to play for the jackpot! A very lucky lady from CO. won over 8 grand! The weather was cold..that's right, Cuba was off to our starboard side and yet the weather was cold! We pretty much stuck to indoor stuff today. Tonite was also the final Karaoke night. Wonderful. Don't miss it. There is a lot we did (and a lot more we didn't do!) that I am not going to go into detail with but I will say make your way into the Dragons Liar at least once and say Hi to the bartenders there! We witnessed a Michael Jackson dance off contest one evening....these guys were professionals! One other place that definitely need to be mentioned is the little coffee shop! Great Seattle's Best coffee, all types of tea, pizza, croissants, mini sandwiches...all open 24 hours a day! Also Kevin and the boys up in Ellingtons as well as the folks in the Plaza bar. There truly wasn't enough time to sample the different bars..for example we never did make it to the Vintages Wine Bar, the Champagne Bar, the English Tavern (name slips my mind right now) The 19th Hole, boy..there are a lot of bars on this ship! Oh, one last thing, for all the folks that think it is terrible to bring your own booze...we still somehow managed a $700.00 bar bill between the 2 of us so RCCL is sure getting their fair share! The staff in the Windjammer Cafe were truly helpful,friendly and happy! The entire atmosphere of this ship just blew my mind! So much so that we are going back in April! Sorry this dragged on....and also for any typos! If you have any questions and I can help I would be more than happy to answer you! Read Less
Sail Date: December 2003
December 7th Sailing of the Mariner Of The Sea Before I begin my review let me share with you a little background on me and my family. We were a group of 6, which includes My wife(40) myself(41), my two teen aged boys (15 and 17), my ... Read More
December 7th Sailing of the Mariner Of The Sea Before I begin my review let me share with you a little background on me and my family. We were a group of 6, which includes My wife(40) myself(41), my two teen aged boys (15 and 17), my oldest son's girlfriend (17) and my recently widowed sister-in-law (37). We live in Gettysburg Pa, and all except for my wife's sister have cruised before. We had plans on leaving Thursday December 4th at around 10 pm drive straight through to Orlando and stay Just outside of Walt Disney World and do a quick through the parks on Saturday December 6th and then head off and board the Ship on Sunday. Well as luck has it the Weather Man changed our plans with the forecast of up to a foot of snow starting sometime after 5 on Thursday. So as soon as we could get the Van loaded we headed south. We have a full sized Customized Ford Van. We where loaded to the gills with the Six of us 12 bags we where planning on checking at the port and another 9 carrion's. We took our time driving all night Thursday and into Friday. It took approximately 16 hours to get to Orlando, where we checked into the Cypress Pointe Resort. We had reserved a 3 bedroom three bath condo that I had found on the net. I could not believe how wonderful it was for only $99 a night. It had its own well equipped Kitchen complete with dishwasher. The master suite had a large Jacuzzi tub and the adjoining suite and a roman soaking tub. The living room had its own 46 inch big screen TV. The resort itself was rather impressive with lots of pools, hot tubs, fountains, mini golf, Beach Volley Ball, game room.... need I say more. There was almost enough there to make us wish we did not have to get on the ship "WELL ALMOST". Saturday we went to Disney and along with enjoying all the wonders of the Magic Kingdom we also got to see the tapping the Disney Christmas Parade. Disney was decked out for Christmas and we truly enjoyed ourselves. Sunday we woke up and drove to the Port it took just over an hour to drive from Orlando to the Port. You can see the Mariner for miles away. She gleams like a new penny in the sun. She grows larger and larger as you near her and she is very impressive. The Disney ship in port is no little ship but she is dwarfed buy this behemoth floating next to her. We have sailed out of Canaveral before and we where surprised to see that the Traffic pattern had changed. We arrived at the pier at 11am but traffic came to a complete halt as we neared the ship. I think they have a small amount of construction left and hopefully will get the few bugs worked out and traffic will flow better. Even with the traffic confusion we made our way to drop our bags off with the porters. There was several porters ready to take our bags and off they went. I left everyone else on the curb with our carry-ons and off I went to park the Van. The line for the lot went fast and a few minutes and $70 latter I was parked and headed to the terminal. My family had already gone in and after going through Security I was whisked off to the front of the line where my family had already made it to and where in the middle of checking in. We basically walked right on board ship at 11:35 we went right to our awaiting cabins dropped of our luggage and headed to the Windjammer for some lunch. The Windjammer in the Mariner in a little bit different from the other ships I have been on (this was my first Voyager class ship). As you enter the Windjammer there is a bar area directly in front of you and you either go right or left, both sides being identical. The first lines (buffet stations) are Jade this is the windjammers oriental buffet. They serve breakfast lunch and dinner oriental style food. Its good not great only in that the choices are limited. The next station has salads and fruits then the next is hot stuff and carving stations and in the center a desert bar meeting up with the identical lines coming from the other direction opposite the bar from in front. The foods here where good for buffet style and the choices were plentiful. There are several Drink Stations and they are being operated by the waiter staff. They not only pour you drink for you they bring them to your table and get you refills. They also offer to get you refills of any buffet item you may want along with desert. After lunch we set off exploring the ship. At first you feel that she is so large and it is easy to get confused or even lost. The hallways are LONG and other then the cabin numbers to guide you, it is a little confusing. On most ships I have been on the hallways lead you to the Centrum where you can see out to the Ocean and its quite visible as to what's fore and what's aft. However on this ship the hallways go on forever and even the Centrums (there are two) lead you only to the royal Promenade. Until you learn which way the street of the Promenade is and what end is aft it gets rather confusing. We always looked for the dinning room and knowing that what ever you eat usually shows up in your butt we figured that that dinning room was in the aft of the ship. Anyhow I did miss the fact that there are no windows in the centrums but this ship makes up for that in other ways. The royal Promenade is beautiful as is every inch of this ship. The feeling of being on a city street is really neat. The shops are inviting as are the pubs and even more so the Cafe Promenade, my favorite. If you are on a diet stay out of the Cafe Promenade. The goodies in there case are way to inviting. Here you have your choice of tasty little sandwiches and pies cookies and cakes. each day they had something different, and believe me it was all out of this world. We had the pleasure of sailing with some of the greatest people around. We had been in touch with well over 100 people through CruiseCritics.com. We had all agreed to meet at the Crows nest at 3 and so shortly before three we headed off the meet face to face all these crazies we had been talking to on line for the last several months. It was great fun meeting some of these people but we still had to get ready for the life boat drill and supper plus we wanted a little time in the hot tub. Our bags arrived just in time to ready for supper and off we went to meet our waiters and dinner companions. We got to the dining room and meet and older couple upset that they had been separated from their traveling companions They complained to our waiter and he whisked them and their friends from the next table off to some other table of their own. We where a little disappointed. It is usually nice getting to meet other people and sharing our table with them. Our disappointment was short lived when on the second night we got new dinner companions. Marv and Robin where wonderful and fun. We talked with them for hours and feel like they are now family. Day 2 Nassau We have been to Nassau before. Our plans where to get off the ship and take a Cab to Cabbage Beach for some Snorkeling. However when we exited the ship we found it was raining and cool. We took the Snorkeling gear back to our room and headed into town to do a little shopping. My sister in law had never been to Nassau and she enjoyed the Jewelry shopping. She purchased a couple of nice pieces and we then headed into the straw market. That place never changes but it is fun haggling with the locals on some souvenirs. We then headed back to the ship for a little lunch and enjoyed the sail away. This day they start offering complementary tickets for the ice show. Get in line early!!! The good shows and times sell out fast, and believe me you don't want to miss this show. This night was Caribbean night. We wore our flowery Caribbean cloths and where happy to see that most people joined in. Day 3 at sea This day was fun and relaxing. I must say the most important thing is don't be afraid to join in. I even got into the Mr. Sexy Legs Competition, It was good for some laughs and I got a key chain for my efforts. This night was the first formal night. We did not make it to the Captains reception but the diner was great. We did go to the Ice show this night and WOW it was great. We had Breakfast in the dinning room. and lunch at the Windjammer. This was the day that we had the Cruise Critics Party. It was fun to meet everyone. We had a really large group. I felt RCCL dropped the ball here just a little. We had well over 100 people sign up and all they had for us to eat was a few cookies. They did give us a little talk and gave out a couple of prizes. I would have expected with the size group we had some hot and cold hors d'oeuvres. Day 4 St Thomas We rented a van in St Thomas with Budget Rental car. We reserved it on line for only $100 for the day. It was a nice Chevy Venture. As we where leaving the port headed for the car rental we where stopped by a local who insisted we let him drive us. He wanted $120 for only three hours but we opted instead to pick up or van. We then drove to Sapphire Beach. Its so pretty there its only about 20 minutes from the port the roads wind around sharp turns and they are narrow and in disrepair but its fun all the same. You have to drive on the wrong side of the road and if you have never done it before you just have to be careful pulling out and turning onto other roads. It does get confusing. Anyhow Sapphire Beach was so pretty. They let you park there for free and use their beaches. The lounge chairs where $5 and they had snorkeling gear for rent along with boats a kayaks. The snorkeling there was real nice and we also played some beach volley ball. The front desk there lent us the ball just made me promise to bring it back. We worked up an appetite and drove to red hook for pizza. There is a great little pizza shop there and the prices where similar to the states. I think we paid $10 for a large cheese pizza. We where now running our of time and headed back toward the pier. The traffic there is bad and it takes time getting around town. we drove up to lookout way up high in the mountains. It had a great view of the port and the whole island. We then drove back to the ship. Dropped off the car and enjoyed the rest of our day on the ship. This was the day we were supposed to have the returners party, well I did not get my invitation till I got back to the ship at 5:15 and the party was at 5:30. Needless to say I did not make it. This day we ate breakfast in the Windjammer...It was good but the dinning room is much better. Day 5 St Martin: We had also reserved a Van on this Island. Here we had a Mitsubishi Space wagon reserved with Best car rental. It was only $60 for the day and they are right off the pier to the right. My sister-In-Law is a big lover of horses and she insisted we go horseback ridding. She had made arrangements with Lucky Stables. I was a bit unsure of this excursion. I have not been on a horse since I was a kid. Well we got there and they made it so easy. It was great. The trail is rough and it goes up and down several hills, but the views are panoramic and very beautiful. This is a must for anyone fit enough to ride a horse, young or old. We booked a 2 hour ride and they gave us almost a 3 hour ride. the terrain is covered in cactus and there are millions upon millions of butterflies. there where even wild horse. At the end of the ride we got to ride our horses into the Ocean. What fun this was and probably the high light of our cruise. I had expected to be really sore but it really did not bother us much at all. After the ride we stopped at Burger King for lunch and then headed back toward the pier for some shopping. Best Car Rental let us park right in their gated lot and we walked right to front street for some shopping. Did you know that as long as you are buying they give you free beer. We shopped and drank the afternoon away. There are great deals to be gotten in St Martin and I highly recommend Majesty Jewelers. I think there are several good stores there but we really liked that one the best. If you don't want to buy anything but want to look and still drink beer they where offered everywhere for $1. You can get pretty trashed cheep in St Martin. Well after some shopping and drinking we drove back to the pier and dropped the car off and walked back on the ship and enjoyed the evening activities. Day 6 Sea Days: Day six is the day they finish up all the pool games. The big highlights are the horse racing and the Men's International Belly Flop Contest. This must have been our day for winning. We won six dollars at the horse race and I won the gold medal at the Belly flop Contest. This night was also the second formal night. We noticed more people both formal nights dressing up. (at least in our opinion as compared to the other recent cruises we had been on). We had Breakfast in the dinning room and lunch at Johnny Rockets. Day 7 Sea day: This was just a relaxing day at sea. We went to the show, we visited the shop and purchased a few last minute things. We went to the Casino and won a few bucks...We are actually walking away ahead. We had to have our bags out by midnight so we took some time today packing. We had breakfast and lunch in the dinning room. I much prefer this over the Windjammer. No lines and the food is GREAT. We played an exciting game of ping-pong and then we went to Johnny Rockets for malts. I love Johnny Rockets the food their is fresh and tasty and the entertainment is really cool. Day 8 Debarkation: Wow we went to the Dinning room one last time for a terrific breakfast. We finished and headed back to our rooms. We where supposed to be out of them by 8:00am we got to our room at 7:55 and heard them announcing the first colors. We picked up our bags and walked right off the ship. Fastest and easiest debarkation ever. They have set up something new with customers. Each family must present themselves with customs it's really painless and the lines go fast. We then walked down to pick up our checked bags and after finding all 12 of them (finding them took some time) two porters came loaded everything up on bag wagons and off we went. They took us out into the parking lot and left everything at the curb in the loading area. It could not have been much easier. I pulled the van over and we loaded. We where on the road by 9am, then 18 hours later we were home. The ship is beautiful and stable. The staff was GREAT. The Captain is very visible and fun. All the food is wonderful. I loved the Promenade cafe, and Johnny Rockets, that's not to diminish how wonderful the dinning room is. I don't have a complaint. The shows where so good. Bobby Collins was the featured comedian. He made me laugh so hard I had trouble breathing. Matt Yee is GREAT. We only made it to his last two shows, but I wish we would have made it to all of them. He is so talented and funny. The ice show is not to be missed. Oh one last group that really made our cruise was the cruise comics. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2003
Let me begin by saying that had we not been travelling with our children (10 year old girl, 13 year old boy), we never would have booked this cruise in the first place. My wife and I have been on the Windsong two previous times and like ... Read More
Let me begin by saying that had we not been travelling with our children (10 year old girl, 13 year old boy), we never would have booked this cruise in the first place. My wife and I have been on the Windsong two previous times and like the intimacy of the smaller ships. We figured that this would be a great opportunity for our children to experience a cruise, and that they would have plenty to do as well. Looking back it was a wonderful decision, as my wife and I may have enjoyed this as much or even more than our kids did!!! We started the trip the day after Christmas and spent two days at the Doubletree Hotel in Cocoa Beach. The hotel served our purposes well and we had a very nice stay there. We had fun playing in the surf and eating some of the best seafood I've ever eaten...for cheap money I might add. We even took a drive over to the Port to watch the Disney Magic sail out of the port. The kids thought that was pretty cool and we did as well. Sunday morning came and we woke up early to go to church and board the ship at the 11:30. As we were getting dressed, we looked out our balcony from the Doubletree and saw the Mariner in the distance!!! It was quite a sight. We arrived at the port at about 10:30 and were asked to wait in the parking lot until 11:30. At 11:15 they let us drop our bags off and go park the car. When we got back to the boarding terminal, I was surprised to see a fairly long line already. The good news was though that we were thru it in about ten short minutes. They were unbelievably proficient at getting everyone thru quickly and courteously as well. Once on board, we were dazzled by the sheer mass and beauty of the Mariner. Finding our room was quick and easy, as everything is so well marked on board. We met Catur, our wonderful room steward, and we were off to the Windjammer for lunch. The kids were overwhelmed with all the choices and settled on hamburgers and hot dogs (go figure!!). Back in our room, our luggage arrived and we started to unpack our SIX suitcases!! As we did, we realized how much room there was in our category C room (now a JR suite). We were able to put all six suitcases in our walk in closet and still have plenty of room to "walk-in it". The entire room was laid out very smartly and we had more than enough room for the four of us. I want to say that our idea of a family vacation has never been for the kids to go off on their own, so my wife and I could have "adult time." However, on this trip the kids fell in love with the children's programs. The 9-11 year old program was structured, and they received points for attending. I could not keep my daughter from planning her next event in the Adventure Ocean program. In fact, she ended up earning enough credits to get herself a back pack and a visor. She was very committed to getting these I might add. She drove us crazy with all the planning. At this age group, parents can either sign the kids in and out, or allow them to come and go as they pleased. We decided that for our 10 year old daughter, we would pick her up and drop her off. Although that became a burden at times, it still, for us anyway, was better than having her roam that big ship on her own. As for our 13 year old boy, his age group was free to come and go as they pleased. We were very specific as to our expectations as to what he should be doing and we made him check in with us throughout the day. He was very true to the curfews we imposed upon him, but he was off on his own having a great time for much of the cruise. Although less structured than the 9-11 year olds, the teen program still had activities for the kids to interact and they seemed to get to know each other quite well. They all seemed to have fun, and as far as we know, no real trouble was gotten into by any of the kids. Our table, in the Top Hat and Tails dining room, was a table for four, so we actually got to have "family meals" every night. Although we didn't have the opportunity to meet other people at dinner, we did have our own time together, and dinners were fun as a result. Our waiter Umit was a joy. He really hit it off with us and the kids with his infectious smile and grand sense of humor. We did have a little problem with our assistant waiter for the first couple of days, but once he realized that we drank a lot of Cokes and Diet Cokes, he kept a pitcher of them nearby. In the end we got to know him quite well and appreciated him too. As with any cruise, you won't go hungry!!! For breakfast each day we ordered room service. One problem with the menu though is there weren't any pancakes or french toast offered on the RS menu. I got up each morning and brought my own room service for the kids (I went to the Windjammer and got my smoked salmon and their pancakes and french toast). We ate a light lunch either at the Windjammer, or on the Promenade just depending on how hungry we were. As for the dinners, we thought they were pretty good considering the fact that they are preparing food for 3000+ people. The "daily alternative" steak was a little edgy, but other than that, all was good. One night my wife had duck that she said was very good. I had rack of lamb one night and that was wonderful as well. The lobster was a little fishier tasting than I think it should have been, but in all the food was pretty good. One of the highlights for me was the health club on board. The exercise machines were plentiful and I used them each day. The best part about the health club though was the steam room in the men's locker room. After each day, before we got ready for dinner, my son and I went to the locker room for a steam bath and a shower. I shaved down there and that kept us from tying up the bathroom in our cabin. With having the late seating, and only having two people use the room's bathroom, getting ready for dinner was a leisurely time. The only part of our experience that was not wonderful, occurred in the Caymen Islands. We spent the day at Seven Mile Beach which was incredibly crowded (4 mega ships in port and Sting Ray City closed). That was no big deal though. the problem came back at the ship with security. Our son wanted to go back to the ship with a friend he knew from the teen room on board. Had we been in any other port, I would never have let him go with just another kid, but I knew the Caymens were very safe, and he is a very responsible kid...I was not worried at all. The problem came because I neglected to give him his boarding card (sea pass card) before he left the beach. Of course I didn't realize this until an hour or so later when we went to leave the beach ourselves. For the 10 minute cab ride back to the ship I was wondering and hoping that he'd be at the tender station when we got there. Of course he wasn't and since you can't catch a tender without a sea pass card, I wasn't sure where he could be. I told the security guard on shore that my son came back without his pass and I was told that it's not a problem...they can be checked onto the ship manually. So, we went to the ship, checked ourselves thru security and asked if our son had come on the ship yet...we were told that he was not on board. It was 3pm and 4:30 was when the ship was due to leave. I told my wife to go get mine and my son's passport and my credit card, because I was going to go back to the island to find him. I tendered back to shore, told security to watch for my son and not let him go back to the ship. In the meantime I ran around the shore looking thru all the lines for the other three ship's tender thinking maybe he got in the wrong line. It was now 3:40 and time was running out. I continually checked back security who was radioing back to the ship and finally they told me he was on the ship!!! What had happened was he did get checked manually at the tender station so he was allowed to go over to the ship. However, he walked right past security, thru the metal detector and onto the ship...Remember this is during CODE ORANGE SECURITY ALERT!!! He walked right onto the ship, not knowing the tender dock didn't check him in. He thought he did all he had to. Needless to say, we were in a panic and the ones at fault were the people on the ship doing security. Having said all that, that was one problem in a whole week...I'd have had more than that at home. Sometimes I think people really expect to have PERFECT vacations and that is impossible. We had a great week and I'd go back in a heartbeat!!! I started this by saying if it weren't for our kids I wouldn't have booked this trip at all. Now that I've been on the ship, I'd go again...with or without my kids!!!! Read Less
Sail Date: December 2003
Mariner of the Seas New Years Cruise This was my 4th cruise on RCCL and 9th cruise all together and our 3rd Voyager class ship. My husband and I along with our 4 teenage boys ( 16, 15, 14, 13) set out to bring in the New Year at sea, and ... Read More
Mariner of the Seas New Years Cruise This was my 4th cruise on RCCL and 9th cruise all together and our 3rd Voyager class ship. My husband and I along with our 4 teenage boys ( 16, 15, 14, 13) set out to bring in the New Year at sea, and had a very nice vacation. Cabin 9390 9390 is an aft balcony corner cabin on deck 9. It had a huge port hole window, glass door and 2 lounge chairs on the balcony. I have been in several balcony suites and rooms before so I tend to want one on every cruise. I will say this was a little cramped due to the angles of the corner, and I missed having a sliding door as we had to prop open the door on this balcony with a chair leg to have fresh air and listen to the ocean at night. The wake was almost hypnotic to watch from this vantage point. We used the balcony often during the 7 days and on the very windy days at sea this area was all sun, little wind and my husband and I took turns heading up to the sky bar for a drink. The only drawback to an aft balcony is that the way the boat slopes downward the decks above can partially look down on you. I ended up with a few things in my lap as well, hot dogs, coke cans and a few cigarettes. Our cabin attendant was sweet but very forgetful. I tipped her some in advance, which is something I have learned to do over the years, and expected better service than she gave us. Other wise it was a lovely clean cheery place to call home for a week. The Ship The ship is awesome for a lack of better terms. The art all over the ship is great, colorful and very interesting. The dinning room chandelier is so huge and sparkling. We had our early seating in the Sound of Music dinning room, and our servers were excellent, with the exception of the dinning room bar attendant. He and our waiter got into it on several occasions over his lack of prompt and efficient service to her tables. Food for the most part was great, and as always we make our kids eat dinner in the dinning room most nights with us. We think it is a good time to tell each other about our day and plan the evening. It is important to keep track of your kids on a ship, too many people just let them run wild. The Bolero lounge on deck 4 had the most beautiful glass blown flowers all over and the casino theme was the old carney type side shows. The cheapest black jack table was $15.00 min. and we won a few hundred. No auto shufflers thank goodness. The solarium was lovely and the spa and exercise area great. I used the steam room and hot tub in the spa to avoid crowds. The ship was new and clean and so therefore everything seemed so nice. The Shows The ice show was so good that my kids just kept going on and on about it. The kids ice skated in the teen skate party the day before and were just floored at how these performers could do their routines in such small space. Do not miss this show! The variety shows were similar to others we had seen with the exception of Comedian Bobby Collins and Chris Bliss, both very funny and talented. Music was nice at all the lounges we managed to get too as well. Food As I mentioned before the food was good in the dinning room, we went to Portofinos one night and it was worth the extra money. Jade is a nice addition to the Windjammer and Johnny Rockets is a great break for good old junk food. The Cafe Promenade is excellent for little sandwiches, pizza and cookies, my kids really put a dent in their food there. We ordered room service for breakfast a few days, good, prompt and they do need tipped b/c there is no gratuity for their service. The menu however is a bit limited, we got coffee delivered every morning so we could sit on our balcony and watch the ship port. As always I weigh more now than when I stepped on the ship! Ports The ports always seem the same to me, and I always like Labadee. Jamaica was the only real bust of the trip due to a long cramped bus ride to our excursion, river rafting, and then once we got there no rafts were available. We opted to head back to town for some shopping, getting a refund from RCI w/o a problem. Cayman had very choppy water and the sting ray tour we booked was cancelled. Kids were disappointed but we made the best of this day exploring the island and shopping. We've been here before so we knew what to see. Cozumel was sunny and we headed off to the beach for some snorkeling, and toured the eco areas, went to Senior Frogs for some snacks and headed back to the ship. New Years Eve I must say I am not one for crowds, and for the most part unless you were smack dab in the center of the Royal Promenade, crowds were easily avoidable. We brought in 2004 w/ Capt. Johnny, Ken Rush and about a thousand others in the Royale Promenade. We snuck up to one of those little balconies next to the elevators and had our own private view of the festivities. There were 36 parties on board this night and it was fun to check out as many as you could. Every age group and music you could ask for. In conclusion 95% of this trip was wonderful. You can't let a few cancelled shore trips, a few rude passengers and a forgetful room attendant put a damper on an otherwise wonderful trip. Port Canaveral is very easy to maneuver, and the ship did wait about an hour for a delayed flight of 15 people. I am sure they were sweating that. This is one advantage of booking sea/air package. We drove 21 hours to the port and found it to be for the most part not a hassle at all. We did leave a small piece of luggage by accident behind on debarkation day and Mariner of the Seas called my cell phone 2 hours later letting me know we left it behind. They shipped it Fed Ex to our house. My kids love cruises and I must say we're already booking our Spring Break 2005 cruise. Being that holidays and Spring Break are the most expensive, booking way in advance helps the purse strings a bit. I did notice one thing that seemed odd. The staff on the ship hadn't quite clicked together, and they seemed a bit forced in their friendliness. I mentioned it to a few and they have been on other ships and they said it was a port of embarkation thing. Port Canaveral is very boring for the crew, they only have a few hours to get off the ship and w/ nothing to do they aren't too happy. Miami, Ft. Lauderdale and other ports are more fun for them to get a little break. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2003
I LOVE RCCL and the Mariner is a beauty! This is my third cruise -- have sailed Disney and Celebrity before. By far my favorite although I loved the Disney cruise -- this one was longer. We got to the port about 10:00 and had to wait a ... Read More
I LOVE RCCL and the Mariner is a beauty! This is my third cruise -- have sailed Disney and Celebrity before. By far my favorite although I loved the Disney cruise -- this one was longer. We got to the port about 10:00 and had to wait a little while because they had a wedding party and a special luncheon for travel agents and such. We were the third or fourth family in line and waited probably 1/2 hour to 45 minutes. Once the line started moving it went really fast and very easy. Found our cabin with ease and met our steward -- Gerome was great all week and his assts. were great while he was "on vacation" for a few days. We left our carryon luggage and went to the Windjammer. The food was great and we got a seat by the window -- I loved the way this was set up to let in so much natural light -- it was always bright and sunny here. The food was pretty much the standard buffet food, but there were a lot of choices and it was good. The dining rooms are unbelievable -- very elegant. I know several families who felt uncomfortable and opted for alternative dining -- but I like to be spoiled. Even my 9 year old got used to being catered to very quickly! The food was great and just got better. Many choices to cater to vegetarians and health conscious as well as those of us who just like food! We loved our server, Tamer, and his asst. Joel. Not crazy about the maitre d -- he tries too hard and didn't do anything much. I will quickly mention our shore excursions Nassau -- swim with dolphins -- awesome! Do this if you never have! We were taken by bus to Blue Lagoon where we were given a quick introduction course on dolphins -- how and where to pet them, etc. Then we put on wetsuits and lifevests and sat on the dock. The dolphins (Jake, Fat Man, and MacGyver -- the same ones in the "Flipper" movie which was filmed here) and we pet them. We got in the water and they jumped of us, we got hugs and kissed on the cheek and lips, danced, and turned in circles. Then we lay on our stomach and they pushed on our foot all the way across the lagoon. such fun -- the take a video and pictures of all this which are expensive -- but what a memento! St. Thomas -- power snorkel -- my nine year old's favorite. We were taken by bus to Coki Beach and given a snorkel and mask and flippers. We headed down to the beach and the instructor handed us our equipment and gave us a quick lesson. We were given a glove with a magnet in the thumb and a yellow board with a propeller in front. You lay on it and touch the button with the magnet to make it go. Takes a few minutes to get used to, but was such fun! We went way out and saw blue squid and a sea turtle and coral and fish -- incredible. When we got back to the beach we had some time to play before the bus left. Shopping was great in St. T, too! St. Maarten -- went SNUBA diving here. Boat took us out and we snorkeled for 25 minutes first. Then we got weight belts and regulators and a quickie course on how to use them. I had a little problem with the pressure, but eventually made it to the bottom and touched the ocean floor. We fed the fish and explored shipwrecks. On the trip back we danced and had rum punch. It was so much fun! I would recommend these excursions. One I would not is the glass bottom boat tour in Nassau -- my mother went on that and was VERY disappointed. Back to the ship. Wait outside Johnny Rockets about 1/2 hour before lunch and you'll get seated right away -- otherwise you'll wait. the onion rings are to die for and I had a hamburger once and a BLT once. My son loved their hotdogs. And their malts and milkshakes are worth the price. Adventure Ocean was my son's favorite place to be -- after the first night he skipped dessert so he could go back to the cabin and change and go to AO. It was great that he could sign himself in and out -- it gave him responsibility and some independence and gave me peace of mind that we could test his maturity in a somewhat controlled environment -- I mean, where was he going to go? We were on a ship! They give the children a wristband -- even if they're not in AO -- with your muster station on it so if they get lost, they will be taken there. RCCL isn't dumb -- one must go thru the arcade to get to the AO rooms so that has to be monitored. The games are $1.25 - $2.00 and you get $10 on your sea pass. My son loved the PlayStation and fooz ball in AO room -- it was a little dark, but the lighting was cool and they always had music playing. My son loved the games, contest, and activities and begged to stay for Late Night. I let him stay for one hour one night ($5/hr) but there is no useful reason for a child to stay up that late that I could see. AO ends at 10:00, but late night ends at 1:00 or when the last child leaves. The pools were great and there was plenty of chairs to go around on any deck I was on. The crew was great -- helpful and friendly. The Royal Promenade was fabulous -- don't miss the parades! The ice show -- I'm sure you've heard it's not to miss. I went to two shows "Pure Energy and ...can't remember, but the talent is incredible. Especially when the ship was rocking. Now don't worry -- all ships rock sometime. I did not notice anything worse than walking thru a moving train and it was not constant or disruptive. There was no china flying thru the air or people lurching all over -- at least not the sober ones. I did not think it was excessive and the captain and CD were apologetic -- by the way Captain Johnny and Ken Rush are fabulous! I wish now I'd gotten the captain's book -- I'll check Amazon.com! If you have any questions I'd be happy to answer them. All around I can just say this was a wonderful cruise and our next one will definitely be w/ RCCL. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2003
Here's my review of the absolutely stunning Mariner of the Seas , 5th sailing on 12/14-12/21,2003. I must begin this review with Captain Johnny to whom I must thank for a perfect and wonderful week. This Captain is friendly, ... Read More
Here's my review of the absolutely stunning Mariner of the Seas , 5th sailing on 12/14-12/21,2003. I must begin this review with Captain Johnny to whom I must thank for a perfect and wonderful week. This Captain is friendly, personable and a bit "off the wall" in a good way! I truly believe that it his wonderful relationship with each and every one of the crew members that made this my favorite cruise to date! I spoke with a few of the staff and they told me that when other Captains call a meeting they dread attending. However when Capt. Johnny calls a meeting they can't wait to get there! It's amazing how this attitude dribbles right on down the line to the passengers ....this is the very first time I did not hear one (none/zero) complaint from any fellow cruisers! Now here are some notes...thoughts and others.... Day one: First we awoke to hear that Saddam Hussein had been captured! What a way to start a vacation! We began the 2.5 hour drive to the port to weather that was bad... .getting worse. Rain and winds made for a difficult drive. We arrived at Port Canaveral at about 1pm. Parking and unloading is a disaster....but I won't go into detail as there is a lot of construction being done in that area at this time and I am sure all will be smooth in no time! Parking is $10.00 per day, pre paid. You may use cash, Master Card or Visa...but you may NOT use American Express. We entered the terminal, through x ray with our carry on bags...one of which contained a bottle of champagne and 2 champagne glasses, a bottle of wine, some beer and a bottle of Kirshwasser (horrid stuff!) . The latter was a gift to a couple of Swiss guys we had met on the Cruise Critic board before our trip. Being a little nervous about this being confiscated. Our fears were calmed when we reached the end of the belt and the x-ray tech smiled and said "Good Stuff"!! We entered the welcome area and although the lines were long they moved rather quickly. Somehow our Seapass card was misplaced so we waited while new ones were being made for us. I would have to say that from the time we arrived at the port until the time we actually boarded was somewhere about 1.5 hours. We entered the ship on the 4th deck...forward. Arriving in a stairwell I didn't feel the full WOW effect that I would have for the rest of the week that followed. Up stairs we went to check out our first ever balcony cabin! Beautiful, clean, fresh and new! But we didn't linger long as we really needed to check out parts of the ship as well as make our way to Ellington's (part of the Viking Crown) to meet up with Meet and Mingle members for an ornament exchange. It was so great to finally put humans to pen names! Back to our cabin to grab our life jacket for the most painless muster drill ever. Basically you just showed up and it was over before it began! Back to our cabin for sail away with champagne on the balcony. We also took a moment to adorn our balcony with xmas lights we had packed for this purpose! We met one of our next door neighbors who I spoke with several times throughout the cruise! Never did exchange names though! That's the way the whole week was! Everyone so friendly and happy! One big block party all week long! Our luggage had been place in our cabin so we began to unpack and settle in for the week. Also getting ready for late dinner which was at 9pm this evening but 8:30 pm for the rest of the week. Dress was casual this evening. Our table #550 was just wonderful! I don know how Royal Caribbean does it but we were at a table for 8 and all of us got along wonderfully! What a great group of folks we met! Our waiter Alex and asst. Cruz were terrific. The atmosphere at our table and all the other tables in the area was fun the entire week. One word about the wine and dine package-it was $160.00 plus 15% gratuity for 7 nights. We did run into a problem one evening when we decided to dine more casually in the Windjammer. Our Head Waitress , Marianna (who was wonderful!!) had told us the evening before that all we needed to do was show up at the Windjammer and give our table number along with our name and there would be no problem enjoying a bottle of wine with our dinner.....!!! Haha...All in all, I don think we will purchase this package when we return in April! I feel it would be much easier to just order wine by the glass. After dinner we went back to our cabin to meet our Steward Hussen (imagine the ribbing he got all week long with a name like that!) I requested a larger ice bucket and from then on found not one but 2 ice buckets in our cabin! Always full! We checked out the ship a bit and finally succumbed to much needed sleep. We slept that night with our balcony door opened. Ahhhh..... Day two: At sea..... We awoke to room service calling ahead to see if it was OK to bring our order! Breakfast on the balcony. Nice. I couldn't wait to get going to explore the ship! We ascended up to the upper level of the ship and walked the mile loop along with about 60 other folks! Did some exploring. Went to the duty free shop and bought several bottles of Rum and also a couple bottles of Absolute to take back to our cabin with us. After learning that there was a $9.50 per BOTTLE charge for bringing it to our room we opted to save all but 2 bottles until departure day. Let's see...oh, we ate lunch at Johnny Rockets...very good but the double burger wouldn't fit in King Kongs' mouth! Then at 1pm it was off to our Meet and Mingle once again to take place in Ellington's Lounge. We met Tracy, the ship's social hostess. She is very sweet, from York, England! Considering the fact that she was in need of a root canal that week and had to wait until we reached Cozumel she did a wonderful job! After this we strolled around the main pool area and got there just in time to see Mr. Skinny Legs! Now, I am not a huge fan of this type of activity but let me tell you it was about the funniest thing I had seen in a long time! We really were sailing with a bunch of fun loving folks! At 3pm we met my Mom at the wine tasting.....a word here. ..don waste you time! Because it was formal night and I had never had an "up" do I made an appt. for the spa for 7:00. Another word here...do NOT have too many cocktails before you get your hair done! The price for the do wasn't too bad...but I am now the proud owner of a diamond barrette that I need to lock in a safe!!!!!! I won't even tell you what I paid for it! I scrambled to get dressed and get out of our cabin to go watch Captain Johnny welcome us all aboard! What a show!!! Then to dinner and the Kareoke talent contest (more laughs!) ! Then to bed since tomorrow we would be at Labadee and we wanted to get up early to watch us sail in! Day three: Labadee... Haiti is absolutely beautiful from the ship. Steep. Lush green mountains rushing down to meet the blue Caribbean Sea.... The tenders here are huge and virtually no waiting at all to get off the ship. Labadee is very pretty...the area is broken up into coves and beaches. The far side of the island has a longer beach but because of the steep incline it really isn't the type beach to just take a nice long walk on! I guess I am spoiled living here in Florida and the endless beaches to walk on! Word of advice here....don rush to be the first one off the ship....there are lots of lounge chair people just waiting to set up lounges for you ...for a tip...of course! If you wait a while a lot of lounges have already been abandoned and you can just ease on into one! The second and most important word of advice....if you want to shop...when you are looking at the shopping area there is a store on your left hand side where no one bothers you at all!! Matter of fact you have to ask for help! Now.. you go in the store on your right and there are more people selling you things that there are things to buy (if you catch my drift!) I couldn't wait to get out of there...I needed air! I have never had to say "NO" so much in my life...and I have raise 2 kids...so if this gives you any indication at all of the hagglers..... After the BBQ lunch we decided to head back to the ship so we could be chair hogs! Oh....tonite was 50's night ....C&A repeaters party in the Lotus Lounge starring Ken Rush and Capt. Johnny! We learned that the new Ultra Voyager would be about 100 yards longer than the Mariner! When asked what the new ship may have to fill in extra space Capt. Johnny suggested Tennis and a bowling alley! Who knows!!! After diner was the Quest!!! I can't say too much about it....I laughed so hard I hurt myself a couple times! Oh and one other thing...my Dad "James" decided to be a team captain! Nuff said! Day four: Ocho Rios..... I was so hesitant about this port...but don believe all that you read!!!! That is all I can say! Jamaica is beautiful!!! The rails leading into the duty free shops are painted Caribbean blue and green!! In our usual "vacation" mode of strolling off the ship we were a bit late for our Peat Taylor tour. But.. When in Jamaica there is always no problem mon!! Peat arrived within minutes and gave us a special ride over to the falls! I had e-mailed him way back in August. It totally amazed me that when we got on his bus he greeted me by my name!!! We were careful to walk the way Peat told us to...avoiding the hagglers that lurked off to the right and left of the park. There is one very comical man dressed up as a woman and he has a donkey all covered in flowers. DO NOT take his picture.. it will cost you! We met up with our group and proceeded to venture down to the bottom of the falls! This is a spectacular site to see.... The river flowing right on out to the open sea! We held hands as a human chain and proceeded to ascend the falls! What great fun we had!! Now, as you leave the park you must be careful not to stray. A couple on our buss were told they HAD to go through the marketplace. One of the young men was asked his name and the next thing he knew his name was engraved on a wooden statue! Lucky thing for him his wife had all their money and she was able to get him out of his jam! Peat then took us on a wonderful ride/tour through the fern gulley and way up into the mountains! Jamaica is some rugged territory! Then it was back to the ship for a quick lunch. We decided we would go to Margaritaville after lunch and Peat insisted he give us a ride. It was barely at the end of the parking lot!! Pretty funny! We said our goodbyes and checked out Margaritaville! Lots of folks having lots of fun! There is a shopping area, very new, called Island Village and there are a bunch of little shops located here. I got a really different wooden wind chime. We walked back to the ship and found an invitation to come join some of our friends in their owners suite for sail away! Very nice J. After dinner this night I think we were beat and never made it to the Caribbean pool party up stairs. Day five: Grand Cayman... Oh boy...this was the day I had waited months for....Grand Cayman...swimming with the sting rays! I just couldn't wait! One look at the shoreline and I knew..I just knew there was no way in the world we were going to Grand Cayman today. You could see the waves breaking on shore..they must have been 40 ft. high. To compensate Capt. Johnny bought us screwdrivers, bloody Mary's and Mimosas for one hour! We visited the Solarium pool...no retractable roof and actually gets quite stuffy during warmer weather. Then it was finally up to the gym. Tons of new,modern equipment. There is nothing better feeling than pedaling and looking out over the front of the ship...almost makes you feel like the faster you pedal the faster the ship will go! The weather wasn't too great this day so we did stuff like check out and make our donations to the casino...had a Molito at Boleros and basically just checked out the ship some more. We took in the skating show this evening also. Turns out one of the men in the production went to high school with Scott! The it was off to the Platnuim /Diamond repeaters party...very nice and Ken ,Johnny and Tracy were all there to chat with us again! Day five: Cozumel.... Got off the ship, met up with our Swiss friends and hopped in a cab to Dzul Ha...found that there really is nothing there and headed back to the pier. The water was still very rough from the storm that had passed through the day before. We decided to rent a car for the day. What a great idea this turned out to be. I believe it was $85.00 from Hertz for a Jeep Wrangler. We headed out along the coast and found Paradise beach. A very large green lawn leads up to a well manicured parking area! Nice J. They must have imported the sand....soft and white. There were chaise lounges there with small tables and umbrellas. Free. Sea Kayacks. Free. Water Trampoline. Free. Snorkel Gear. Free. A great bar and new,clean bathrooms. The service was great! Chi was our waiter for the day and he made sure we had plenty of cervesas! We snorkled and lounged and drank and ate had a very , very nice day here. The time was up before we knew it and decided to take the long way back to the ship. There are so many pristine beaches along the south side of the island.. Very picturesque. We decided to make a pitt stop at the Mayan Ruins....don bother...waste of time and money...although I did get a great photo of an iguana. We about made it back to the ship for sail away! The first time I was in Cozumel I didn't care for it..now I can't wait to go back! We were so exhausted from the daytime activities that we skipped dinner...slept right through! Day 6: At sea.... Well...you know what day this is....time to pack up, say goodbyes,hand out tips and promise to e-mail everyone! Oh and don forget it's Snowball Bingo! Yes..I went down to play for the jackpot! A very lucky lady from CO. won over 8 grand! The weather was cold..that's right, Cuba was off to our starboard side and yet the weather was cold! We pretty much stuck to indoor stuff today. Tonite was also the final Kareoke night. Wonderful. don miss it. There is a lot we did (and a lot more we didn't do!) that I am not going to go into detail with but I will say make your way into the Dragons Liar at least once and say Hi to the bartenders there! We witnessed a Michael Jackson dance off contest one evening....these guys were professionals! One other place that definitely need to be mentioned is the little coffee shop! Great Seattle's Best coffee, all types of tea, pizza, croissants, mini sandwiches...all open 24 hours a day! Also Kevin and the boys up in Ellingtons as well as the folks in the Plaza bar. There truly wasn't enough time to sample the different bars..for example we never did make it to the Vintages Wine Bar, the Champagne Bar, the English Tavern (name slips my mind right now) The 19th Hole, boy..there are a lot of bars on this ship! Oh, one last thing, for all the folks that think it is terrible to bring your own booze...we still somehow managed a $700.00 bar bill between the 2 of us so RCCL is sure getting their fair share! The staff in the Windjammer Cafe were truly helpful,friendly and happy! The entire atmosphere of this ship just blew my mind! So much so that we are going back in April! Sorry this dragged on....and also for any typos! If you have any questions and I can help I would be more than happy to answer you! Read Less
Sail Date: December 2003
We were on cruise number 4 of the Mariner. We had a great time, a few positives and a few negatives. First, the biggest problem was the disorganization at Port Canaveral. This is a BIG ship and the staff in the port are getting used to ... Read More
We were on cruise number 4 of the Mariner. We had a great time, a few positives and a few negatives. First, the biggest problem was the disorganization at Port Canaveral. This is a BIG ship and the staff in the port are getting used to the crowds and organizing the disembarkation before the next embarkation. We waited in a line of cars for 45 minutes before being told to come back after 11:30, then we were let in anyway. We did a one-way Avis rental from the airport to the port and then again at the end of the cruise from the port to the airport. They have a shuttle bus, very well run. The second big problem was the food in the Windjammer, I thought it was dried out and cold most of the time, again I think just working out the bugs. The food and service in Portofino and Chops was beyond excellent and worth every extra penny. Our room was great, our first balcony, and the ship was really stable and quiet. Didn't hear another room's noise. Well behaved kids and roving crew in marked shirts patrolling on the decks. Now for really positives. Our entertainers were terrific, toxic audio was an a cappella group, outstanding. We also had 2 comics and the two shows done by the RCCl singers and dancers, the second show was better than the first. Well organized activities, except for the meet and mingle Cruise Critic Party. I never got an invitation to the party, so I missed it. Again, an organizational issue. The last point, if you see something you want to buy in the ship's stores, do it sooner than later, they only load a certain amount of items and when they are gone, that is it! I lost out on buying a crystal Mariner of the Seas picture frame because they sold out! I have missed out before, you thought I would have learned! Read Less
Sail Date: December 2003
December 7th Sailing of the Mariner Of The Sea Before I begin my review let me share with you a little background on me and my family. We were a group of 6, which includes My wife(40) myself(41), my two teen aged boys (15 and 17), my ... Read More
December 7th Sailing of the Mariner Of The Sea Before I begin my review let me share with you a little background on me and my family. We were a group of 6, which includes My wife(40) myself(41), my two teen aged boys (15 and 17), my oldest son's girlfriend (17) and my recently widowed sister-in-law (37). We live in Gettysburg Pa, and all except for my wife's sister have cruised before. We had planned on leaving Thursday December 4th at around 10 pm drive straight through to Orlando and stay Just outside of Walt Disney World and do a quick through the parks on Saturday December 6th and then head off and board the Ship on Sunday. Well as luck has it the Weather Man changed our plans with the forecast of up to a foot of snow starting sometime after 5 on Thursday. So as soon as we could get the Van loaded we headed south. We have a full sized Customized Ford Van. We were loaded to the gills with the Six of us 12 bags we were planning on checking at the port and another 9 carry-ons. We took our time driving all night Thursday and into Friday. It took approximately 16 hours to get to Orlando, where we checked into the Cypress Pointe Resort. We had reserved a 3 bedroom three bath condo that I had found on the net. I could not believe how wonderful it was for only $99 a night. It had its own well equipped Kitchen complete with dishwasher. The master suite had a large Jacuzzi tub and the adjoining suite had a roman soaking tub. the living room had its own 46 inch big screen TV. The resort itself was rather impressive with lots of pools, hot tubs, fountains, mini golf, Beach Volley Ball, game room.... need I say more. There was almost enough there to make us wish we did not have to get on the ship "WELL ALMOST". Saturday we went to Disney and along with enjoying all the wonders of the Magic Kingdom we also got to see the tapping the Disney Christmas Parade. Disney was decked out for Christmas and we truly enjoyed ourselves. Sunday we woke up and drove to the Port it took just over an hour to drive from Orlando to the Port. You can see the Mariner for miles away. She gleams like a new penny in the sun. She grows larger and larger as you near her and she is very impressive. The Disney ship in port is no little ship but she is dwarfed buy this behemoth floating next to her. We have sailed out of Canaveral before and we were surprised to see that the Traffic pattern had changed. We arrived at the pier at 11am but traffic came to a complete halt as we neared the ship. I think they have a small amount of construction left and hopefully will get the few bugs worked out and traffic will flow better. Even with the traffic confusion we made our way to drop our bags off with the porters. There were several porters ready to take our bags and off they went. I left everyone else on the curb with our carry-ons and off I went to park the Van. The line for the lot went fast and a few minutes and $70 latter I was parked and headed to the terminal. My family had already gone in and after going through Security I was whisked off to the front of the line where my family had already made it to and were in the middle of checking in. We basically walked right on board ship at 11:35 we went right to our awaiting cabins dropped of our luggage and headed to the Windjammer for some lunch. The Windjammer in the Mariner in a little bit different from the other ships I have been on (this was my first Voyager class ship) As you enter the Windjammer there is a bar area directly in front of you and you either go right or left. Both sides being identical. The first lines (buffet stations) are Jade this is the windjammers oriental buffet. They serve breakfast lunch and dinner oriental style food. It's good not great only in that the choices are limited. The next station has salads and fruits then the next is hot stuff and carving stations and in the center a desert bar meeting up with the identical lines coming from the other direction opposite the bar from in front. The foods here were good for buffet style and the choices were plentiful. There are several Drink Stations and they are being operated by the waiter staff. They not only pour your drink for you they bring them to your table and get you refills. They also offer to get you refills of any buffet item you may want along with desert. After lunch we set off exploring the ship. At first you feel that she is so large and it is easy to get confused or even lost. The hallways are LONG. and other than the cabin numbers to guide you it is a little confusing. On most ships I have been on the hallways lead you to the Centrum where you can see out to the Ocean and it's quite visible as to what's for and what's aft. However on this ship the hallways go on for ever and even the Centrums (there are two) lead you only to the royal Promenade. Until you learn which way the street of the Promenade is and what end is aft it gets rather confusing. We always looked for the dining room and knowing that whatever you eat usually shows up in your butt we figured that that dining room was in the aft of the ship. Anyhow I did miss the fact that there are no windows in the centrums but this ship makes up for that in other ways. The royal Promenade is beautiful as is every inch of this ship. The feeling of being on a city street is really neat. The shops are inviting as are the pubs and even more so the Cafe Promenade, my favorite. If you are on a diet stay out of the Cafe Promenade. The goodies in there case are way too inviting. Here you have your choice of tasty little sandwiches and pies cookies and cakes. each day they had something different, and believe me it was all out of this world. We had the pleasure of sailing with some of the greatest people around. We had been in touch with well over 100 people through CruiseCritics.com. We had all agreed to meet at the Crows nest at 3 and so shortly before three we headed off the meet face to face all these crazies we had been talking to on line for the last several months. It was great fun meeting some of these people but we still had to get ready for the life boat drill and supper plus we wanted a little time in the hot tub. Our bags arrived just in time to ready for supper and off we went to meet our waiters and dinner companions. We got to the dining room and met an older couple upset that had been separated from their traveling companions They complained to our waiter and he whisked them and their friends from the next table off to some other table of their own. We were a little disappointed. It is usually nice getting to meet other people and sharing our table with them. Our disappointment was short lived when on the second night we got new dinner companions. Marv and Robin were wonderful and fun. We talked with them for hours and feel like they are now family. Day 2 Nassau We have been to Nassau before. Our plans were to get off the ship and take a Cab to Cabbage Beach for some Snorkeling. However when we exited the ship we found it was raining and cool. We took the Snorkeling gear back to our room and headed into town to do a little shopping. My sister in law had never been to Nassau and she enjoyed the Jewelry shopping. She purchased a couple of nice pieces and we then headed into the straw market. That place never changes but it is fun haggling with the locals on some souvenirs. We then headed back to the ship for a little lunch and enjoyed the sail away. This day they start offering complementary tickets for the ice show. Get in line early!!! The good shows and times sell out fast, and believe me you don't want to miss this show. This night was Caribbean night. We wore our flowery Caribbean cloths and were happy to see that most people joined in. Day 3 at sea This day was fun and relaxing. I must say the most important thing is don't be afraid to join in. I even got into the Mr. Sexy Legs Competition, It was good for some laughs and I got a key chain for my efforts. This night was the first formal night. We did not make it to the Captain's reception but the diner was great. We did go to the Ice show this night and WOW it was great. We had Breakfast in the dining room. and lunch at the Windjammer. This was the day that we had the Cruise Critics Party. It was fun to meet everyone. We had a really large group. I felt RCCL dropped the ball here just a little. We had well over 100 people sign up and all they had for us to eat was a few cookies. They did give us a little talk and gave out a couple of prizes. I would have expected with the size group we had some hot and cold hors d'oeuvres. Day 4 St Thomas We rented a van in St Thomas with Budget Rental car. We reserved it on line for only $100 for the day. It was a nice Chevy Venture. As we were leaving the port headed for the car rental we were stopped by a local who insisted we let him drive us. He wanted $120 for only three hours but we opted instead to pick up or van. We then drove to Sapphire Beach. It's so pretty there it's only about 20 minutes from the port the roads wind around sharp turns and they are narrow and in disrepair but it's fun all the same. You have to drive on the wrong side of the road and if you have never done it before you just have to be careful pulling out and turning onto other roads. It does get confusing. Anyhow Sapphire Beach was so pretty. They let you park there for free. and use their beaches. The lounge chairs were $5 and they had snorkeling gear for rent along with boats a kayaks. the snorkeling there was real nice and we also played some beach volleyball. The front desk there lent us the ball just made me promise to bring it back. We worked up an appetite and drove to red hook for pizza. There is a great little pizza shop there and the prices were similar to the states. I think we paid $10 for a large cheese pizza. We were now running out of time and headed back toward the pier. The traffic there is bad and it takes time getting around town. We drove up to lookout way up high in the mountains. It had a great view of the port and the whole island. We then drove back to the ship. Dropped off the car and enjoyed the rest of our day on the ship. This was the day we were supposed to have the returners party, well I did not get my invitation till I got back to the ship at 5:15 and the party was at 5:30. Needless to say I did not make it. This day we ate breakfast in the Windjammer ..It was good but the dining room is much better. Day 5 St Martin We had also reserved a Van on this Island. Here we had a Mitsubishi Space wagon reserved with Best car rental. It was only $60 for the day and they are right off the pier to the right. My sister-In-Law is a big lover of horses and she insisted we go horseback ridding. She had made arrangements with Lucky Stables. I was a bit unsure of this excursion. I have not been on a horse since I was a kid. Well we got there and they made it so easy. It was great. The trail is rough and it goes up and down several hills, but the views are panoramic and very beautiful. This is a must for anyone fit enough to ride a horse, young or old. We booked a 2 hour ride and they gave us almost a 3 hour ride. The terrain is covered in cactus and there are millions upon millions of butterflies. There were even wild horses. At the end of the ride we got to ride our horses into the Ocean. What fun this was and probably the highlight of our cruise. I had expected to be really sore but it really did not bother us much at all. After the ride we stopped at Burger King for lunch and then headed back toward the pier for some shopping. Best Car Rental let us park right in their gated lot and we walked right to front street for some shopping. Did you know that as long as you are buying they give you free beer. We shopped and drank the afternoon away. There are great deals to be gotten in St Martin and I highly recommend Majesty Jewelers. I think there are several good stores there but we really liked that one the best. If you don't want to buy anything but want to look and still drink beer they were offered everywhere for $1. You can get pretty trashed cheap in St Martin. Well after some shopping and drinking we drove back to the pier and dropped the car off and walked back on the ship and enjoyed the evening activities. Day 6 Sea Days Day six is the day they finish up all the pool games. The big highlights are the horse racing and the Men's International Belly Flop Contest. This must have been our day for winning. We won six dollars at the horse race and I won the gold medal at the Belly flop Contest. This night was also the second formal night. We noticed more people both formal nights dressing up. (at least in our opinion as compared to the other recent cruises we had been on) We had Breakfast in the dining room and lunch at Johnny Rockets. Day 7 Sea day This was just a relaxing day at sea. We went to the show, we visited the shop and purchased a few last minute things. We went to the Casino and won a few bucks...We are actually walking away ahead. We had to have our bags out by midnight so we took some time today packing. We had breakfast and lunch in the dining room. I much prefer this over the windjammer. No lines and the food is GREAT. We played an exciting game of ping-pong and then we went to Johnny Rockets for malts. I love Johnny Rockets. The food there is fresh and tasty and the entertainment is really cool. Day 8 Debarkation Wow we went to the Dining room one last time for a terrific breakfast. We finished and headed back to our rooms. We were supposed to be out of them by 8:00am we got to our room at 7:55 and heard them announcing the first colors. We picked up our bags and walked right off the ship. Fastest and easiest debarkation ever. They have set up something new with customers. Each family must present themselves with customs its really painless and the lines go fast. We then walked down to pick up our checked bags and after finding all 12 of them (finding them took some time) two porters came loaded everything up on bag wagons and off we went. They took us out into the parking lot and left everything at the curb in the loading area. It could not have been much easier. I pulled the van over and we loaded. We were on the road by 9am, then 18 hours later we were home. The ship is beautiful and stable. The staff was GREAT. The Captain is very visible and fun. All the food is wonderful. I loved the Promenade cafe, and Johnny Rockets, that's not to diminish how wonderful the dining room is. I don't have a complaint. The shows were so good. Bobby Collins was the featured comedian. He made me laugh so hard I had trouble breathing. Matt Yee is GREAT. We only made it to his last two shows, but I wish we would have made it to all of them. He is so talented and funny. The ice show is not to be missed. Oh one last group that really made our cruise was the cruise comics, they were a riot. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2003
Hi Everyone! Since you all provided me with so much good information, I thought I would return the favor by posting my review of the Mariner of the Sea. We did the western Caribbean itinerary. BEWARE.. THIS IS LONG! Let me start by ... Read More
Hi Everyone! Since you all provided me with so much good information, I thought I would return the favor by posting my review of the Mariner of the Sea. We did the western Caribbean itinerary. BEWARE.. THIS IS LONG! Let me start by saying WHAT AN AWESOME TRIP!!! We arrived at the pier at 11:00AM and went through check-in fairly smoothly. I traveled with 6 of my friends. 3 of us have cruised before and the other 4 were first time cruisers!We had interior rooms on the 8 and 10th floors. Cabin I had cabin #8335. The room is bigger then the one I had on Sovereign of the Sea. My room steward Lydia was great! It seemed like every night we had a different animal towel! She became more creative by the day! The last day I had a pair of kissing swans! How sweet! Entertainment The entertainment on board was also very good! That ice show is a must see! I was so surprised they could put on such a good ice show on such a small rink but they did a great job! Very colorful costumes, great jumps, and coordination. The Quest and Love and Marriage Shows were sooo FUNNY! I think we had the best Quest show ever on the cruise we were just on! All I can say about it is Ken Rush, Ho Ho Ho Boxers, and Blinky Earrings! That was a classic. Dancing - One evening they had Dancing from the 60s, 70s, and 80s in Studio B. They played music and everyone danced. We did the twist, YMCA, etc. It was tons of fun. At the end, my fiance and I got chosen as one of the 3 couples for the dance off. We had a blast! Wall Climb - We also tried the wall climb. I got 3/4 a way up! They provide time slots and you just have to show up with socks, sign a waiver form, and they give you shoes and a helmet. We didn't have to wait too long. Ice Rink - We went to one of the open sessions for ice skating. They provide you ice skates free of charge. The rink is really small so it was kind of crowded. Also no skating backwards. I stayed about 15 minutes and then left. Minigolf - They have a mini golf course on board. It's on the sports deck. At the beginning of each course, there is a picture to help you so you know the best way to clear the course. Really nice. Shipshape Gym - This gym was great! They had step machines, treadmills, ellipticals, classes such as Step and Kickboxing, Yoga($10 fee), and Spin ($10 fee) They also had lots of free weights and weight machines. We spent some time here. It's better then my gym at work! I also took advantage of the hot tub and sauna rooms here. Very relaxing! Basketball Courts - My friends played in the basketball courts. It gets converted into a volleyball court sometimes. Lots of people were playing here. Seemed like a good court. Ping Pong - I saw 3 ping pong tables on the ship. Lots of great players were playing. Looked like a good time too! Gameroom - There is a video gameroom next to Johnny Rockets. They had lots of new games here. The cost is $1.50 a game for many of them. This is more than I usually see elsewhere. Some of the guys in my group actually spent lots of time here... (Go figure!) Card Games/Board Games - They had a room on Deck 14 I believe... lots of people were playing bridge. They provided some board games as well. We played a game of scrabble and othello here. Quite nice. Food and Service We were in the Sound of Music Dining Room. They had people playing the violin and piano on that level. We were sitting right by the musicians. It was pretty nice! The decor in the dining room is very classy. I really liked the food. We had surf and turf one night. We liked the food so much, some people were ordering 2 desserts or 2 appetizers! We had great servers! Our assistant waiter remembered all of us by name by the 2nd night! We also had a round of apple juice when we sat down and tea with honey at dessert! He was great! Windjammer/Jade - We had breakfast here on some mornings. The selection is good. Breakfast is not much different from the dining rooms. (Note, the menu in the dining room for breakfast does not change) We went to Windjammer for some variety. Room service - We ordered room service for breakfast one morning. They were very punctual and nice. The food was pretty good too. Johnny Rockets - We ate there for a midnight snack one evening. They have really good malts for $3.60. The drinks cost money but food is free. We also had some pretty good chili fries! Didn't get a chance to try any of their burgers or hot dogs.. Ports of Call Labadee - We had really great weather at Labadee. It felt like 90 degrees outside! We went on the waverunner excursion and that was tons of fun! The waverunner was doing about 45 miles per hour! We had a bbq on the beach too. I went to Cococay last year on the Sovereign and actually like that port a bit better because there seemed to be more hammocks and better snorkeling but Labadee was also very pretty. Ocho Rios - We did an excursion with Peat Taylor. It was $30 and he picked us up outside the pier in his bus and took us to Dunn River Falls, Fern Gully, then back to the ship for lunch, and then shopping downtown. We had about 15 people on our bus. We had TONS of fun at Dunn River Falls! We linked hands and climbed the falls. The water was cold but very refreshing! Just beware not to walk through the marketplace at the exit of the falls. The vendors there are quite pushy. I would recommend leaving the way you came in if you can. We had a big group so when we tried, the guard stopped us and redirected us toward the exit. Many of my friends were hassled and they tried pressuring them into buying stuff. At Fern Gully,the guide gave us a very informative talk about many of the plants. Just remember to bring some bug spray! I came back with a few mosquito bites! Shopping downtown at the recommended shops by the cruiseline was a much nicer experience. We went downtown and found some good deals. We bought some Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee some other items. Grand Cayman - Due to bad weather, all 5 ships were unable to dock that day. They closed off the port so we instead went directly to Cozumel. Cozumel - We arrived early in Cozumel. I booked a Intro to Scuba excursion with Eagle Ray Divers here. We only had 7 people on this excursion with Antonio and Bernardo as our guides. The water was a bit rough that day so we were unable to do the course from the beach. Instead we took the boat out and Antonio gave us the lesson on board and then took us into the water. I was panicking at first in the water but Antonio took me by my hand and calmed me down and helped me work on the breathing underwater. He was great! We had a good experience with him despite the choppy waves. I would recommend them for anyone who wants to try scuba diving. They really take good care of you. Bernardo was the other guy that was helping us. He was really good too! After scuba, we went back to the ship for lunch. We took a cab to downtown for $6 and did a bit of shopping for the rest of the day. DISEMBARKATION The night before the last day of the cruise, we had luggage tags placed in our rooms. The color will determine when you get off the ship. We got blue 2 so we were the like the 5th or 6 group from the bottom to get off. We had a late flight so it didn't bother us. We walked around the ship and took last minute photos. IN CONCLUSION We had a great trip. Although the weather took a turn for worst and the boat became more rocky because of it, we still manage to have a great time on board! I would definitely recommend the mariner of the sea! She's a beautiful SHIP! Read Less
Sail Date: December 2003
Summary: Although Mariner of The Seas is identical in design and layout of the other Voyager Class Ships in RCCL's fleet, it sets itself apart in exceptional service, added artwork and flair. Lift your glass to toast Royal ... Read More
Summary: Although Mariner of The Seas is identical in design and layout of the other Voyager Class Ships in RCCL's fleet, it sets itself apart in exceptional service, added artwork and flair. Lift your glass to toast Royal Caribbean's newest ship - what a blast we had! We took a cab from Orlando Airport. There was two of us and it cost $83. The ride took about 35-40 minutes. Boarding: Port Canaveral itself has yet to complete the construction of the parking areas and loading spaces for RRCL's area. As a result, traffic is backed up and a hassle. Upon or arrival, there was much confusion regarding the directions we were being given in terms of where to drive for drop off. Once dropped off, getting a RCCL porter was efficient and we quickly checked our bags and walked to enter the terminal. TIP: Pass the first set of doors and opt to enter the farther set, there is less of a line and it moved much quicker, saving almost 20 minutes (timed by another guest who entered the other line at the same time as we did). Everyone passes through metal detectors and many just simply didn't remember to remove metal items and all other things necessary to pass through metal and x-ray. This slowed the line a bit, but in the end we moved along. Immediately after the metal detectors, is a RCCL staff member stopping all people to ask if you have your documents. TIP: If you already have all your necessary forms completed and your cruise documents with you, pass this line and go up stairs. Waiting in that line will add another 5 minutes at peek loading. Once in the main "processing area" the line looked "scary" but moved along quickly. The staff was friendly and comic performers from the ship were on hand to help pass the time. We boarded the ship at about 1 PM. Proceeded to our cabin on the 9th deck and check things out. When we boarded the ship, we immediately noticed that this ship seemed much more colorful then Navigator of the Seas (the ship we were on in March). The decorations, artwork and appointments seemed brighter. As in all previous ships within the fleet, it was exceptionally clean and clearly well maintained. When we got to our cabin, our two beds were still combined (not what we requested). Quickly our cabin attendant switched the room around. We had a Class C cabin which was on deck 9 Aft center off the back of the ship will a large balcony. Our cabin was rather wide in size, two twin beds, a sofa, coffee table, desk, shower and a nice size tub. We also had what I would call a walk in closet. Plenty of storage as well in the class of cabin. Everything was very clean in the cabin and in the closet we discovered 4 "extra" pillows and several extra blankets. Our TV, as in all ship TVs, featured RCCL interactive menu which - we discovered this time- allowed us to order room service as well as other services and shore exc. TIP: When ordering anything on the TV, WAIT, be patient when making a selection. Initially, we were not and this caused "confusion" in the system itself. It has to have time to react to your commands/requests. We were very pleased that RCCL TV now rotates their movies featuring 2 different main line feature movies each day throughout that day on the TV. While we didn't spend a lot of time in the cabin, it was nice late in the evening or mid afternoon to catch a movie and "wind down". Throughout the ship, the staff was amazing and nice. Almost everyone on staff smiled and offered a hello. Bar service is always good, although they still haven't mastered making the same drink twice from different bar tenders. Meaning: I ordered a Rum Punch from one bar tender and when I ordered it again from a different one and another, it was always different. TIP: Many of the staff is not "American". Our humor and joking is sometimes not understood because of the language barrier. Keep that in mind as you tell a story. Also, when a staff member asks where you are "from", you might not want to forget to say US. As most, I noticed simply stated their city -- to some, it simply doesn't describe enough "where". As with any ship of this kind, we found it important to "time" our use of the elevators. If you decide to go to dinner, right at dinner and wait for the elevator, it will be full. TIP: Go grab a drink on your dining room level 15 minutes before dinner to get that elevator without much of a wait. The shows were exceptional. The entertainment staff seemed much more "together" then other sailings we experienced. I think the Cruise Director has refined the art of entertainment - the shows are a perfect blend of variety. I strongly recommend that you not miss any of the comics - we were all rolling in our seats at the laughter! According to our Cruise Director - our version of "The Quest" was the wildest ever. But seriously, don't miss this one for adults only. On a small note, maybe the Cruise Director had taken some flack in the past for "racy" actions or humor as he reminded us numerous times to have fun and that things were being done in a fun spirit and humor and not to offend anyone. We appreciated his comment - ONCE - but all throughout the week we were reminded - a little much. He is a class act though. Top of the Class is also the Captain. Captain "Johnny" is clearly leading this ship with exceptional management. It shows. There seems to be strong mutual respect between all management in public, and I believe that when the staff and crew see this, they all act in a very professional - unified way. The net result is a great experience. Speaking of service, we noticed that the TIP line on our cruise card receipts has been removed. When we asked, we were told that it was removed because guest complained. I can understand that - tip is automatically included on each charge and I'm sure with that time many people felt obligated to tip more. Well, we did have several occasions where we wanted to tip more, but now, felt we couldn't. We were wrong - you can add an additional tip - but make sure you tell your server you did so, so they can add it in. (I'm not sure it's really possible). After the cruise we discussed that next time we might just go ahead and carry a little cash with us for those occasions - or on the last night remember that great bar tender or other person with an envelope. Food wise - The dining room service was exceptional although our assistant waiter was much more personable then our waiter. It's all in the luck of the draw and personality frankly. We found great friends in our dining room staff. In terms of other dining, the Windjammer was as expected, although this cruise there seemed to be many more servers serving water, tea and getting sodas for people - this was an added plus. Jade featured exceptional food throughout - don't forget the Sushi - it is amazing!!! Chops and Portifino also received rave reviews. Although several of those at our dinner table remarked that Portifino was much better then Chops as Chops simply added no flavor or seasoning to their meats (maybe that's a good thing for beef lovers?). Either way, I heard good things from everyone. A note about the Midnight Buffet. On previous sailings we were disappointed with the midnight buffet. On The Mariner - it was exceptional. Just amazing! Many people missed a lot of items to eat from the buffet because they "rushed" though in line. TIP: Take your time in line, catch the good food - look high for caviar! Almost everyone missed it! At the Spa, we had mixed experiences. RCCL still "allows" the strong sales pitch to spa products during your treatment - a real drag! I the Spa, "Mo" provided me with a Swedish massage and it was exceptional. He was good to set the mood with his own selections of music, dimmed lights and being soft spoken didn't hurt. His service was exceptional. TIP: Ask around, request the Spa personnel you want to provide service to you -- "Mo" was exceptional. I heard of others who also had a message provided by others and they were disappointed. No music. No dimmed lights. Lots of outside noise. Buyer beware. The right experience makes all the difference. The pools were crowded, but not so much as you couldn't get in. Don't forget for the adults is the solarium pool - its nice and although there is really no staff keeping kids out - it's pretty clear it's an adult area. TIP: if you have kids, make sure they know the adult areas to avoid embarrassment. Shore Excursions were great and there were tons of options. Don't forget that you can choose to go to many of the same places on your own schedule and dime. For example I went to Dunn's Falls for a shuttle ride - round trip $5 vs. the shore excursion cost of $45. I could go when I wanted and return with I wanted. (Admission was an additional $10). All in all the ship was amazing. The service was impeccable. The food was exceptional. We will return to this ship, this Captain and this crew. I'm already looking at future dates this coming spring to sail again. This ship is not to be missed and is the jewel of the Voyager Class of RCCL ships - our hats off the Captain (who we got to meet and speak with) and his entire management/staff and crew. Dennis Gorg Mariner, December 14, 2003 dwgorg@imsevents.com Read Less
Sail Date: January 2004
If you have a problem with spelling and punt please read no further, if you are looking for some useful information read on. We just returned from our first ever cruise and tried to find out everything about cruising on line before we ... Read More
If you have a problem with spelling and punt please read no further, if you are looking for some useful information read on. We just returned from our first ever cruise and tried to find out everything about cruising on line before we went. There were lots of useful tips but some things were not to be found anywhere. First we joined the Cruise Critic Meet and Mingle. I recommend that you do this. It was so nice to run into people we already knew everywhere on the ship and shore excursions. We told others about this and they regretted that they had not done this and said they will next cruise. Our cabin was a balcony cabin and this was the best choice we made the entire cruise vacation. we were on the right side of the ship (port starboard?) it seemed the sun always rose and set on this side also all the port dockings were on this side which I felt was a plus to see. We had room service every morning for breakfast on the balcony, this was a fantastic way to start each day and probably the most enjoyable meal. I expected a small room and it was bigger than I thought. Things to bring. I searched the internet for days for tips. The most important one which I thought was a joke was unpack half your clothes and fill the suitcase the rest of the way with money. If you are looking for a trip that wont be expensive don't CRUISE. We spent more while on the cruise than the cost of the cruise and airline tix from MA. Bubble wrap which we brought proved to be very useful for packing breakable gifts. A power strip with an extension cord was also recommended. We didn't bring one or have the need for one at all. If you will need one I personally think you're spending too much time on work related issues but that's your decision. A bungee cord was recommended to keep the balcony door open. On our ship the doors could stay open by themself and if you leave it open you waste all your ac. Did I mention bring lots of money? Water shoes came in real handy on 2 shore excursions. Dress shorts proved to be useless -- you can't wear them at dinner and bathing suits are the wear for the day. We had no problem bringing alcohol on the ship and was left on the counter in our stateroom. Don't think this will save you and $ though-you aren't going to run back to your room every time you want a drink if you're sitting at a bar making new friends. Ok to the cruise - we flew into Orlando and rented a small car and drove to our hotel the Radisson. We left to meet on line friends at local bar (can't remember the name) this choice was expensive for those w/o a car for cab fair both ways. The Rad has a bar and I recommend you meet there. The following day we went shopping packed again returned the car and took a cab to the pier. The rental car was only $21 by the way the best $21 I think I ever spent. I expected with 3000+ people on 1 ship that there would be long lines for everything. We weren't disappointed the check in at the dock took forever. That's the bad news. For the next 7 days I don't remember waiting in a line more than 2 min. This was great in keeping my BP down. Our first stop was Labadee a beautiful place. We rented wave runners this was a blast and I recommend this. We also did the banana boats this was a little much after the wave runners. Do one or the other. Next was JAMAICA. I love this place and it was my 3rd time there. The people are really nice except when it comes to bargaining for a price. Dunns River Falls was awesome. You have 2 choices the wet route and the dry route. Out of our group only 4 took the wet route. I felt the people who chose the dry route really missed out on the experience. If you choose the wet route you will get soaked. There were locker rentals at the falls ($4) we put our stuff there. Oh yeah I remembered something else -- we brought a small back pack with us this was a very useful item to have on all shore excursions. Don't forget to get coffee and rum in Jamaica. Next day was Grand Cayman. Interesting place. We went to the turtle farm and had to go to Hell and mail post cards (tip have your post cards filled out and ready to mail when you get there) the stay in Hell was 10 min and the entire town and rock formations can be seen in 3. It's really small. Next day was Cozumel. TOURIST TRAP. We went to the park were we did the dolphin experience. This was great but you would think for $99 per person it would last for more than half an hour and 3 touches of a single dolphin. I won't get into food, restaurants and bars because there is so much on it on line already. But the food and service was excellent but that's what I expected anyway. Our stateroom attendant was wonderful it was like having a private valet. We tipped him $80 but he did more for us than anyone else on the entire trip. Have I mentioned to bring lots of money yet? The boat activities daily were so numerous I can't list them. It was amazing how NONE were the slightest bit entertaining. And 1 I personally found offensive the QUEST. I guess I should mention we are in our 30's. We had 2 problems while cruising and we were shocked to see how well they were handled. Customer service is EXCELLENT. There are also shopping discussions daily about the next day's port. I couldn't help but feel that this was some kind of a scam for kickbacks. We found items in RCI recommended stores more expensive than in other shops. I found lots of great info on line before I cruised and felt that I had to do this review. Hope you can get past all the typos spelling etc.. my secretary did not type this for me. Hope you found some useful info and have fun. Oh yeah don't forget to bring $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2004
This was an absolutely beautiful first cruise for us!! We had a group of 16 ranging in ages five to 82. There was plenty to do for all ages...the smaller kids enjoyed the Adventure Ocean...they had plenty of activities for the 3-5 age ... Read More
This was an absolutely beautiful first cruise for us!! We had a group of 16 ranging in ages five to 82. There was plenty to do for all ages...the smaller kids enjoyed the Adventure Ocean...they had plenty of activities for the 3-5 age group and the 9-11 age group was able to sign themselves in and out which made them feel extra special...the AO staff was fantastic and we really enjoyed the talent show at the end of the week!!! The older kids loved all the lounges and onboard evening activities including Quest and karoake. The Love and Marriage show was absolutely hilarious and won by the newlyweds in our group!!! The casino proved to be great for a few in our group. We, however, left our money there. Our stateroom attendant, Amin, was so kind and attentive...he really made our cabin a pleasure to return to every day...my little kids enjoyed the "animals" left each evening...our cabin was always spotless. Malcolm and his staff in the Top Hat and Tails dining room were fabulous...Wayne remembered what all of us preferred for drinks even when he was working pool side...We were so impressed that we are going to repeat the same cruise next year...I recommend this for first time cruisers such as us and also family cruises...it could not have been a more pleasant experience... Read Less
Sail Date: January 2004
We had a fantastic time on our cruise. We traveled with friends we have had all our life. When we 1st got there we were told that we would have to wait to board but it wasn't long when we were told it was alright to board now. We were ... Read More
We had a fantastic time on our cruise. We traveled with friends we have had all our life. When we 1st got there we were told that we would have to wait to board but it wasn't long when we were told it was alright to board now. We were amazed how fast we were ushered through to the ship. We were up in the Windjammer before 1:00PM. There was so much to do on the ship and we tried to take in as much as we could. The shows were fantastic, especially the ice show. The Karoke Idol Search was a fun thing if you were really bad they loved you anybody that was good couldn't make the finals. I believe the last night was the best when it was just open to all. There were some very talented people on our cruise. We enjoyed the contest with the people from the cruise taking part like Love & Marriage. They gave us a lot of laughs. We really enjoyed seeing Bowzer, and the late night comedian Darrell Joyce was really good. The RCI singers and Dancers did a amazing job of entertaining. The food was excellent and we had the best people taking care of us in in Top Hat & Tails main seating. Sal & Leslie we really appreciated how you took care of us. Our Port of Calls were Nassau, Bahamas, St. Thomas and Phillipsburg, St. Maarten. We loved them all and explored on our own. The excursions that are planned were a little expensive in our books so we went where we could walk and really enjoyed that. We enjoyed the Gala Buffet Display it is amazing to see the things they the food and how it is displayed. We got lots of pictures but didn't get back to try any of the food. That is the only thing I regret we didn't do. I love to try some of the things they have but the crowd was just too big for us. Getting off the ship was a whole new thing. It seemed to take forever. I believe it was 10:30 before we finally made it off the ship. We enjoyed every minute of our experience with Royal Caribbean but it was a lot more expensive then our last cruise. You do need a abundance of cash or credit cards but I believe that is true with any vacation. I still tell everyone if you have never cruised it is the 1 thing I advise you to do at least once in your life. We will be doing it again next year. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2004
We just returned from a glorious cruise on board the Mariner of the Seas. It was our first members cruise and our first Diamond Level cruise. We were amazed by all of the wonderful treats the staff bestowed on us. First of all the ship was ... Read More
We just returned from a glorious cruise on board the Mariner of the Seas. It was our first members cruise and our first Diamond Level cruise. We were amazed by all of the wonderful treats the staff bestowed on us. First of all the ship was a delightful experience (we are spoiled by the Voyage Class ships). Mariner is not decorated as elaborately as her sister Explorer, which we were told happens to be the most expensive ship Rccl has ever made but nonetheless, she was beautiful. Our cabin was on deck 9 and was a D1 category. We could definitely tell a difference in the placement of the balcony, it made the whole room seem more spacious. We also had the convenience of being mid-ship, which placed us within steps of the Concierge Club!! They served us hors d'ouvres and drinks every evening from 5 to 8:30. This was a great way to meet other Diamond members and compare notes. Our Concierge attendant, Diane was so sweet and fun to cut up with and although she had her hands full with over 200 Diamond members, she always had a good attitude and was very patient with some very demanding patrons. Good job Diane!! The shows on the Mariner were entertaining, but we've seen and experienced better on other ships. The lounges had a good variety of music, our favorite being the jazz club in the crown viking lounge area. The Dragon's Lair could be a fun party spot, but as usual disappointed us with a mediocre mix of music. Almost put us to sleep!! How about some top 40 dance music?? The ice show was the best ever, we were thoroughly impressed, the skaters were top notch and the show was excellent!! The Windjammer cafe was greatly improved. The layout was superb, as it was able to get people through the lines quickly. The food quality and selection was excellent for buffet style. Jade had a beautiful seating area and was a good alternative dining choice. One night we visited Chops Grill and had perhaps the best meal of our lives ( and not just on a cruise), the service and the food was awesome!! The selection was wide and the food presentation was beautiful. They have definitely pulled out all the stops in these new restaurant options. And even tho' there was a $20/pp surcharge, it was a welcome break from the dining room and worth every dime. We definitely plan to visit these new dining options on all of our future cruises. The Sound of Music dining room was stunning and our wait staff excellent. Our head waiter Marianna was the best!! We had her on our last voyage on Explorer and we were delighted to see her again. They had some trouble accommodating all of the repeat members requests for first seating dining but all I can say is if you are that picky about first seating you need to book earlier to avoid this problem. We were appalled by the behavior of some of our fellow seasoned passengers and how they treated the maitre'd. There are only so many seats people!! We gladly gave up our 4 seats in the early seating for a wonderful table in the second seating and were glad we did. Overall our experience was delightful and once again we are convinced that traveling with Royal Caribbean is the only way to cruise!! We will be back...again and again!! Keep up the good work RCCL!! Read Less
Sail Date: February 2004
This was our first cruise on RCCL; we have cruised on Carnival (5 times), Costa (1), HAL (1). By far this was the most beautiful ship I have sailed on. The embarkation was fast and smooth. We did fill out papers online before our cruise ... Read More
This was our first cruise on RCCL; we have cruised on Carnival (5 times), Costa (1), HAL (1). By far this was the most beautiful ship I have sailed on. The embarkation was fast and smooth. We did fill out papers online before our cruise and this made for a faster check-in. Our balcony room was spacious and brightly lit in the evening with plenty of closet space and drawers. Our room steward Lydia was most attentive, nice, and couldn't do enough for us. The only thing I didn't like in the bathroom was the round shower. It looked like something out of StarTrek.(Beam me up Scotty!) My sister-in-law had the cabin next door but we couldn't open the divider for one large balcony. A call to the purser informed us that they stopped opening because of safety reasons. That was a disappointment. Our week was during winter recess of 2/15-22. There were 3200 guests of which 900 were children. A lot of children were roaming the ship 1 and 2 in the AM. There should be a curfew. We heard some children threw chairs overboard and the consequence was that the family was put off in St. Thomas and told to find their own way home. The shows were extraordinary; starting with the ice show. It was better than the Ice Capades. The Las Vegas type shows were great and so was the singer and the comedian. During our week Johnny Rockets did not charge for food; only drinks. Yes there was always a line at certain times but we waited. The food is exactly the same as our local JR in Roosevelt Field on Long Island. For RCCL to charge for it is, in my opinion, very tacky for a classy cruise line. (They also charge for cappuccino at dinner where HAL and Carnival did not. Tacky, tacky). The dinners were very good. Our waitress Connie was one of the nicest and attentive employees I have encountered. She remembered all our first names after the first night and worked very hard to make sure our dinners were to our satisfaction. They all deserve a raise! A few times I called the pursers desk for some information and was answered in a curt tone. It was like they were annoyed and had an attitude. The Promenade is the future of all ships. It's a great place to relax or meet the rest of your friends before dinner and it has a 24 cafe serving hot beverages, pizza, sandwiches, cakes, cookies, etc; but no iced tea or lemonade, just iced water. Casino was fabulous We could stop at another island; we only went to St. Thomas, St. Martin and Nassau. Only 3 islands in 7 days. There must be a way RCCL can add another island.Hopefully, Mariner will change its itinerary and cruise to more islands. Overall the week was wonderful, the ship was outrageous, the staff was great and the food was good. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2004
We loved Mariner! We wanted to stay on an additional week. This was our 3rd cruise with RCCL and booked our 4th while on this one. We have sailed out of Port Canaveral before but on sovereign (a much smaller ship). We went down night ... Read More
We loved Mariner! We wanted to stay on an additional week. This was our 3rd cruise with RCCL and booked our 4th while on this one. We have sailed out of Port Canaveral before but on sovereign (a much smaller ship). We went down night before to port and stayed at Radisson at the port (second time here) where they provide free transportation to and from port and no charge to leave. Previous transportation from hotel to ship was easier where there were not as many people sailing out on same ship and for as long (other cruise was a 3 night on smaller ship). Radisson did state that they had another (3rd shuttle on order) to be able to handle more guests going back and forth. When we did get to ship it was so big. We got off shuttle and walked up thru terminal to board ship (already filled out cruise docs online) and walked right up to cruise agent. From once on shuttle to boarding boat was about 35 min. As we walked onto boat we went straight to room to put down carry ons. I had booked a balcony room as a surprise for my husband's birthday. This was our first balcony (E1, room 6542 next to elevator, main walkways and 1 floor above promenade). I was concerned that the room was in bad location where it was located near elevators and high traffic areas. But let me assure you I never knew i was next to elevators or main hallways. In turn we loved our room location where we were so close to elevators. We noticed that front elevators seemed to be less used. Also room location was 1 floor above promenade and could go down 1 flight of stairs to the cafe where they served ice cream, sandwiches, yummy pastries, pizza and more. Specifics of room. The room was larger than previous cruises with RCCL. The bathroom was not so cramped. One thing i have to tell everyone...the shower didn't have one of those clingy shower curtains that cling to your romp while you try to shave (ladies you know what i mean). Best description for shower is a tube with sliding doors. You get in and slide the arced tub doors together meeting in the middle and being held shut by magnets, though you don't feel confined due to it being a clear plastic with bubble effect on outside. So light still comes in but not able to see thru shower "tube" doors. Not claustrophobic at all! The closet was larger and had more cubby space to stuff things. It had a nice couch to come in and plop on after shopping all day. Very clean but expected for a newer ship. Oh my I cant forget my beautiful balcony. I don't think my husband enjoyed it as much as I. I would jump up each morning and go sit out there and watch the flying fish and look for other ocean critters. The food. Loved the options of places to eat. From windjammer/jade , cafe on the promenade, dining room, portifino, chops, johnny rocket's and I'm sure some I'm forgetting. I ate at the ones listed above except chops and portifino. We didn't make it to dining room each night where we were so pooped some nights. But dining room was great and waiter was spectacular along with assistant. The 3 story room was beautiful! Less noisy that previous ships. enjoyed Johnny Rocket's too. I understand my sailing (feb 29, 2004) was last sailing that JR's was free. I loved how we came in and they sat us down and then brought fries and onion rings before the menu's. I am a little disappointed that they are charging but we lucked out. I'm sure the kids loved this place. We ate a lot at windjammer/jade due to selection and convenience. Beautiful eating area in windjammer/jade overlooking back of ship. Always a place to sit. We also snacked at cafe on promenade often where it was close to room. Many pastries and sandwiches. It was a good place to stop when we woke up in morning before going ashore. They always had something. This is where the ice cream bar was. Tablemates always joked they saw husband and I more at ice cream bar than at dinner. The ship, as expected, was clean. The elevators had the floor mats with the days on them that were changed daily (good to help you remember what day it was in the real world). I cant think of a messy location on ship except for after bingo (but was quickly cleaned). Activities. So much to do! This ship had all the similar games and attractions from bingo, to karaoke (they call it karaoke idol and had the activity run like tv show- american idol. the people that participated were celebrities on the ship) , newly wed game (too funny, you must see on any sailing). Then this ship had a full size basketball court, putt putt, in line skating track, climbing wall, ice skating. All I can say is we needed another week on this ship. Destination Eastern Caribbean. We left Port Canaveral on Sunday with horrible choppy seas on our way to Nassau. I did get sick as soon as we entered open waters (i have not been sick on any other cruise nor have i needed to take anything to prevent sea sickness). Well I went to purser's desk and they gave me bonine. I went back to cabin and took the meds also thinking i would be out of commission for the rest of the night. But in about 20 min I was feeling better and ready to go. Cost for bonine - $0, nothing (thanks RCCL!). Monday I jump up and go to balcony and we are in Nassau. Since we had been to nassau we didn't do excursion and decided to wander around on our own. We went to Atlantis and just walked around. We didn't like Atlantis. Our opinion was too expensive. But i have got to say good picture opportunities. Nassau overall beautiful water, shopping is just touristy stuff with prices slightly less than US, not favorite port but would rather be there than at home :) Once we left here we were headed to St Thomas. Tuesday was an at sea day. Got to see the ship and take advantage of some of the activities. Wednesday I jumped up and go to balcony and now in St Thomas. Oh my, view is beautiful! We are ready to move here. This was our first time here and heard shopping was good so elected to shop. We bought 2 pictures (1 map of the island and 1 picture of bay from long ago). Also got our t shirts and some dichroic jewelry. I thought prices were pretty good. I did talk to a couple that bought a digital camera which was the same make but a newer model. I asked what they paid and they said $250. I showed them ours and told them we paid $300 in the states for ours. They also got a lot of extras with theirs. I heard of others getting great deals on jewelry but didn't know specifics. Thursday once again jumped up and was in St Martin. Also this was our first time at this port and heard about great shopping so elected to shop. I must say i was disappointed with shopping here. It was 50% jewelry and 45% ETOH and 5% other items. After wandering around dutch side we went to french side thinking it would be better but it is all designer stores. We wanted to go to a restaurant to try some french food but stared at $20 a plate and most of which the restaurants were empty. Overall...not a bad island though i would choose to do something other than shop if i came back (i am not a big jewelry person or big drinker). From this port it was back to Port Canaveral. Friday and Saturday were sea days on our way home :( Now don't get me wrong the days were filled with things to do and great to enjoy our balcony room. Saturday night we had to turn around and go back unexpectedly to nassau to drop off a medical emergency (from what we were told). In doing so it put us LLLAAATTTEEEE into getting back into port on Sunday. We didn't get back to Port Canaveral til about 11ish and people didn't start disembarking til about noonish i believe. We didn't get off til about 1:45pm ish. I do hope that the patient is ok. Disembarkation. I don't think i can fairly judge where Mariner got into port wayyyyyy behind schedule and so many people had places to be. So many people were trying to make flights and other prior travel arrangements. I do think that RCCL made the best of the situation and tried to expedite the process as much as possible. We didn't have to wake up as early. The ship provided entertainment (free bingo giving away RCCL items, comics and so on). Yes, once we got off the ship , there are a lot of people looking for a cab or shuttle to get on our way. I can say this is only time i realized that there were about 3000 people on the ship. But I think RCCL did well with situation presented. I can only imagine the heated passengers that were waiting to board for the next sailing. I don't think they were able to begin boarding til about 2pm ish. Service. Service was great all around. From cabin attendant, to waiter and assistant waiter to bartenders. Husband and I even went to the spa for the first time on Mariner and they were super! The gal that did my massage was super to talk to. My appointment was only supposed to be 95 min but since i was last one of the day and i got yacking with her and waiting for husband to get out of his...she kept me in there for about 120 min. This cruise we interacted more with ship staff and so enjoyed it. Overall. We hope to be sailing again soon...not only with RCCL but specifically on Mariner! We think its great for all ages with or without kids. The cruise has something for all genders, ages, interests, incomes. The only person i can think that would NOT like this cruise or any cruise for that is someone that just doesn't like to do anything and is a stick in a mud (which i would rather them stay home, to not bring me and the crew down). So as RCCL says..."get out there!" Read Less
Sail Date: February 2004
This was a group cruise for my daughter's wedding. She wanted a traditional Catholic wedding in a church and due to the fact that Royal Caribbean does not handle Catholic weddings and the Catholic church would not go on ship. we made ... Read More
This was a group cruise for my daughter's wedding. She wanted a traditional Catholic wedding in a church and due to the fact that Royal Caribbean does not handle Catholic weddings and the Catholic church would not go on ship. we made arrangements for the wedding to commence in St. Thomas at the Cathedral. We had shirts made with the itinerary printed along with the ships name and the bride and grooms on them. Being the same color it made it very easy to recognize other member of the group since we had not all met prior to sailing. We met at 2:30 in the Crow's Nest and formally introduced ourselves to each other and started our cruise off right hoisting a few with our soon to be good friends. Other than RCI having a couple of the dining assignments misplaced, we were able to proceed with for the most part a very enjoyable cruise and wedding. They wedding service performed pretty much as promised. Only major problem was a traffic jam in St. Thomas after the wedding heading tothe reception at Blue Beard's Beach side resort. We still managed to had plenty of time for Champagne and actually did the cake cutting there however, took the cake back on board and it was served in the Portofino after our dinner. We had made reservations in the Portofino for the entire group and was very pleasantly impressed with everything. Maryanna , the manager was the most receptive, sweet and accommodating hostess anyone could possibly have hoped for. Do to the fact that we were actually the first group to ever make reservations together, she cut back on the other reservations during this time and seated all of together in the back of the restaurant. Thus virtually having a private reception. The food was unbelievable including the "4" lobsters my new son-in-law devoured. The fiet's were truly among the best I have ever tasted and being born and raised in Kansas City, that is saying something. Maryanna even arranged for the musicians from the main dining room to visit and perform a 30 minute private concert for us. A total surprise. A touch that really set the night off with a true feel of class. Just tremendous. After dinner the ladies went to powder and refresh before hitting the lounges for song and dance while the men went deckside for Cuban's, compliments of the groom. Now I enjoyed that! As constructive critism of the ship and service, all I can really say is the entertainment, stage shows, lacked true professional quality. The ice show was great. Tony Tillman, guest entertainer, was true Vegas quality and pazazz. What a wonderful entertainer. I do not get into magicians or jugglers so I missed that night and the singers and dancers were nothing you will not see on almost any high school stage. Actually boring. The lunges had several very good groups, including latin, rock, and piano. The disco was very attractive and hot, however, it did not seem to draw big crowds and for some reason there were a lot of younger people on this sailing. I did not understand that. The pool party/buffet was a big hit though as was the Gala Buffet. All in all, if you do not find something that you enjoy on this ship, then you probably enjoy just sitting in front of the TV at home watching 1963 re-runs. There were 6 "youngsters" ages 2 - 7 who had the time of their young lives. The Ocean Adventure club was most remarkable in their attention and keeping the children involved and active. My 3 grandchildren through enjoy every minute there. They also enjoyed going ice skating for the first time despiteliving in Illinois as well as several rounds of putt-putt. Our wait staff in the dining room took me back to my first cruise, which was a Royal Caribbean cruise in January 1994. Our waiter, Sedat and his assistant, Karen, were truly enjoyable. My mother had her orange spiced tea every evening, my wife her coffee, black and continually, and myself iced tea and coffee with dessert, all without ever having to ask for it after the first night. I enjoy a little Tobasco in my soups and certain appetizers. It was on the table every evening without being requested. The never showed impatience with the grandbabies who sometimes after a full day ashore or on board might have been a little fussy. Chocolate milk was verified and ready every evening for all 3. Sedat made a crown from our smallest napkin and crowned her Queen Hannah for the evening. She was quite impressed. Farguar, our head waiter had several magic tricks for my grandson who still asks "grandpa, how did he do those?" The ship is extremely well maintained even being brand new, the food was very good and convenient, and the service was over the top by all except the group coordinator. The Purser told me there was in fact a group coordinator on board representing RCI, however the only contact I had from her was a letter the 5th day of the cruise concerning deembarkation. This is a major letdown for wanting to do another group with RCI. I have done 2 and both times the dinning was not correct. However, the first time the group coordinator was wonderful. Many of the little items were left unattended to on this group and no effort to correct these or make up for it was shown. My next group will probably have to try Holland or maybe Celebrity however being Royal owned scares me. On a scale of 1-6 I would give the Mariner of the Seas a 5 for the service and attention from the on board staff. The on board group coordinator would receive a 0 and the group department's ability to communicate with the ship would score a 1. As an individual, I would give the Mariner for overall experience a true 5+. For the vacation of life time with almost everything you could imagine, the Mariner of the Seas truly lives up to the hype. I would recommend to most everyone. 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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