I have such strong opinions about this cruise...let's see if I can put in succinctly.
I will not sail with Royal Caribbean/on the Mariner of the Seas again because of the following:
They allow smoking INDOORS! I was floored when we first boarded the ship, went to Bolero's to have a fruity drink while we waited for our room and smelled smoke because just on the other side of the bar there were people smoking. They also allow smoking on the Promenade in the Wig and Gavel and in the 19th Hole bars. Yuck.
Inflexible and overall unsatisfying dining experiences.
I've only been on 3 other cruises but at each I've been able to get filet mignon at dinner w/o having to pay extra for it! So odd to have to pay $14.95 for something that is standard elsewhere.
And I've always been able to order off menu at any meal and they were always very agreeable and willing to accommodate my requests. Here, not so much.
In the Windjammer Cafe: I asked for a tray to carry food to my mom (who was in our room). I was told that they don't do that. I explained that my mom is disabled and it's easier for me to bring food to her. They said - with absolutely no compassion, "Order room service". Well. Have you seen the room service menu?? Soooo limited and due to my mom's medical issues she couldn't have anything on that menu -- hence me schlepping up to the WJ for food. Believe me; room service would have been so much easier.
I know it's very difficult to prepare food for 3000+ people but still...the WJ food was pretty poor quality and awfully repetitive.
And they didn't have ANY grapefruit juice (in any bar anywhere on the ship) to make my favorite drink (sea breeze) each bartender said, "try another bar: an inside bar/an outside bar/the casino bar. They'll have it". Well no one did -- all week, and I pretty much tried all bars on board.
I really feel badly for everyone who had such awful disembarkation experiences. I overheard several people talk about the possibility of missing their flights -- why people book them so closely to disembarkation is beyond me, but whatever.
It took just about 1 hour to get off the ship and through Customs but it would have been a couple of hours longer except for Jonathan, a Beverage employee who was one of the staff who was charged w/getting the disabled off the ship. He was a bulldog. He had a train of wheelchairs follow him as he bulldozed his way -- from the aft of the ship, through the crowds to get us to the luggage area. That's where we waited and waited and waited while the porters chatted, smoked and stood around. I saw at least 3 standing by, smoking, empty carts, not helping anyone. Once we finally got the attention of a porter, he couldn't have been nicer or more helpful. He was also a bulldog who got everything squared away for us.
We thoroughly enjoyed the Disco night on the Promenade. So much fun!!
Our waiter and assistant waiter in the dining room were FABULOUS. William from the Phillipines and Dumitriu from Romania.
We had the best table in the house at dinner. 4th floor's Top Hat and Tails - middle level, 'balcony' with a perfect view of all 3 levels. Our table mates were great too. We spent all evening after dinner w/them several nights. Very cool.
The ports were very interesting -- loved Roatan Honduras and Cozumel. (Sadly) didn't see enough of the beaches in Belize to rate them, but the city reminded me of Tijuana...so impoverished, never need to go back there.
I won't sail from Galveston again due to lack of support services (read: no rental car availability on Sundays!)
The Springhill Suites on Broadway was the perfect place to stay with a really great staff.
The transportation company recommended to us by a Cruise Critic member (PT109)was awesome! Our driver from Houston to Galveston, Charlie was witty, chatty, informative and smart! Our driver from Galveston to Houston was the owner himself, Dwayne Johnson, who was awesome!!! Informative, chatty, funny and smart, too!!!
Overall, the trip was worth it - never a bad day at sea! However, after this RC cruise, Holland, Princess and Celebrity cruises I'd choose Princess or Celebrity again.
Take care all and happy travels!
Lori from San Diego