Air Travel and Embarkation We used RCL Choice Air. The airline (U.S. Airways) was fine, getting us to Rome an hour ahead of schedule. Our luggage arrived as scheduled. RCL personnel were at the airport to meet us. We left our bags with them, and were taken to the ship by bus by way of a three-hour tour of Rome. For some this might have been a fun sightseeing tour. Since we have been to Rome, it was a waste of time for us. We were tired and just wanted to get to the ship.
Check-in was not particularly efficient. Due to a major room cleaning, our rooms were not available until 3 PM (later changed to 2:30 PM). The Windjammer buffet was overcrowded since no one could get into their staterooms. The most frustrating part of embarkation was the late arrival of our luggage....not until after 8 PM, twelve hours after we left our bags with RCL personnel at the airport. During check-in passports were taken to be returned later during the cruise with no explanation given.
Mariner of the Seas has undergone some upgrades since we last sailed in her. New flat panel TV's and other electronic upgrades such as touch screen menus in common areas. The ship looked good...a high standard for all RCL ships.
Our cabin was clean, spacious, and comfortable. A traveler's tip: we were in cabin 7380. This is one of eight cabins located in the aft end of the ship that affords the square footage of a balcony cabin at a ocean view price. A little inconvenient for getting to some venues but well worth it for the additional space.
The ship's entertainment ranged from average (production numbers) to outstanding (Jonathan Ansell and Craig Dahn). In order to get a good seat for the shows, one needed to arrive about thirty minutes early. We just took books and read while we waited.
Breakfast in the Windjammer was decent, except for the bacon that was almost always undercooked. Lunch in the Windjammer was fair with very little variety offered. I recommend eating lunch in the dining room some days. Great salads prepared to order with other entries as well. The only drawback is the time it takes to finish lunch (since we were at sea most days, it really didn't matter.)
Dinners in the main dining rooms were not especially good with limited variety. Service was great. Our waiter and his assistant were two of the best we have ever had. Desserts were better than the main courses. Salads were not very tasty. I had Caesar salad several times....never made properly.
The ship's library was pathetic. Very little to chose from, and some of the books were in German, Italian, etc. Not even close to Holland American libraries.
As reported in other RCL ships of this class, the facility was uncomfortably warm. There were no fans so no air circulation. Some equipment broke down with heavy usage. Weight machines were rusted making seat and other adjustments difficult. Staff was supportive.
RCL has improved its staff noticeably. There are less people from Eastern Europe who in the past were not very friendly. Staff throughout the Mariner of the Seas was helpful, polite and very cheerful. Our cabin steward was the best we have ever had on any cruise. The captain and cruise director were both quite visible around the ship.
Additionally, the ship provided for both Protestant and Catholic religious services throughout the cruise, which I really appreciated.
The crossing was a pleasant experience, relaxing and enjoyable. The ports were interesting but not as good as some other itineraries. A note of caution, the authorities in Nassau hassled guests for not having a picture ID. The ship's Sea Pass was not enough. RCL needs to stress to guests that in the Bahamas, you could be denied re-boarding the ship if you have no picture identification.