From the start of the cruise until the time we were called for disembarkation, this was a really nice cruise. We are Diamond Club Members of the Crown & Anchor Club with RCI. The embarcation process began as a little slow, but nothing unusual. The RCI embarcation personnel were all friendly and moved our boarding process along quickly. We received our priority boarding pass and SeaPass cards and we quickly boarded the Mariner.
Once on board, were were greeted by the staff and we found that the rooms would not be available until 2:00p.m. So off we went to the Windjammer for lunch. The Windjammer staff was courteous and frindly. We quickly checked out the buffet and found that it was varied and that the food was good. We had one new cruiser in our group and he was amazed at the choices on the line. After lunch, we quickly booked excursions and then headed for our rooms to unload our carryons. We all received our luggage before 5:00p.m. This was great.
We were on the first seating (5:30p.m.) for dining. This was a good time for our group as we like to eat and then spend the rest of the evenings going to shows, lounges, and visiting. Our waiter and assistant waiter were efficient and friendly. They did a good job of taking orders and delivering them. We enjoy dining for the engagement and interaction of not only fellow diners, but also with the wait staff.
When we finally started to get situated in our room that night, we found that we did not have an ice bucket. When we finally got to our room late the first night we did not have an ice bucket. We got this worked out pretty quickly through the ship's staff. It appears that if you want an ice bucket in your room on the Mariner, you have to ask for one. This is apparently an experiment with a few ships in the RCI fleet. Or so we were told. After the first night, we were never without ice again.
The Mariner had a dedicated "Diamond, Diamond plus, and Prestige Lounge" on the 14th deck. It had a continental breakfast, specialty coffees, and evening hor'doevers, mixed drinks, and wine (5:00 to 8:00p.m.). Eric Laffite, the Diamond Concierge, did an exceptional job as did the Diamond Lounge waiters. They helped make our trip more enjoyable. I spent a lot of down time just relaxing in the Diamond Lounge listening to a book. We used the Diamond Lounge to meet before dinner and to enjoy a drink each night.
The theater shows were enjoyable. They were varied. This was one of the few cruises that all four of the "RCI Singers" were all very accomplished. The "RCI Dancers" all seemed to have a lot of energy and enjoyed their work. Sorry to say that I "missed" the Elvis show and the farewell show. Wink, wink. The ice show was very well performed and we all enjoyed it.
The various lounge performers were professional and did a good job of entertaining and playing music you could dance to as well. The cruise staff who were running the various games on board were all pleasant and friendly.
We were in the lounges and shops on the promenade deck frequently. Diane in the "Perfume store" was engaging and friendly. We enjoyed a late evening cutting up in the shop and got a big kick out of her helping us decide what we wanted to buy for the men. I think I got sprayed and spritzed with almost every sample in the place. A skunk would have been envious!
My family was rained on during their Roatan excursion. They reverted to shopping. My loss. We went on the BE85 Private Island Beach Break at Belize. It left late and we got back later than we wanted to. My wife and daughter rode into Belize City to shop. They had sufficient time, but they did not have a lot of time. The island had a small sandy beach, but if you wanted to walk very far along the beachline, you needed water shoes due to the rocks.
In Cozumel, my son and I went on the Cozumel Power Snorkel (CZB8). This was disappointing and not worth the money. We were supposed to be power snorkeling with a Seadoo scooter. This was to be a 2 hour excursion. We walked about 10 minutes from the cruise pier. Spent about 10-15 minutes gearing up and listening to the instructions. Then we spent about 35 minutes with the power scooters. They then took the power scooters back and told us we could snorkel around for another 45-60 minutes. They kept 16 of us in a tight small group that was running into and over each other. You could not look for anything with any comfort as they were merely running us around. Given surgery that I had earlier this year, I needed the power scooter to get around comfortably or I would have been scuba diving.
My wife and her entourage went on the Passion Island Escape by Boat (CZ20). They had a great time. A nice boat ride, sand, sun food, and plenty of supplied beverages of both the mixed and standard fare. They were all doing well on their return and truly enjoyed the beach on the island. They definitely got their moneies worth on this excursion.
Moving on to other thoughts, I wish that RCI would do something about their dining room evening menus. With this cruise, we have made over 10 RCI cruises. The dinner menu has been basically the same fare for these cruises. The menu is getting old. For the first time in a long time, I would have preferred the Windjammer's buffet to one of the formal dining room's selections. It was just tired fare. I'll be happy to expound for RCI if they are interested.
The ham and cheese croissants in the Promenade cafe were nice. The pizza was some of the poorest that I have had the occasion to eat on any cruise line. It tasted like the cheese was old and there was very little sauce.
I thought that the ship's staff were all friendly and responsive. Our room attendant, Brian, did a very good job as well. He was attentive, but did not get in our way. We always had clean towels and the room was always timely made up. The pursers were all helpful.
I had a relaxing and enjoyable time until it was time to get off of the ship. We had members of our party who had early flights. Thus, we were provided number 1 tags. The projected disembarkation time was to be 8:30a.m. We waited in the Diamond Club waiting area. We were called to disembark at approximately 8:45a.m. As we headed for the gangway, we were well behind the walk-off crowd. Then for some unexplained reason, the ship's personnel quit letting anyone leave the ship. At this time we were less than 20 feet from the last check out for signing off of the ship via SeaPass card check out. We were held on the outside promenade deck (4) for an hour. Everyone was standing rail to bulkhead without water, chairs, restrooms, or any other comfort. The delay was blamed on customs. The covered gangway was cleared of all passengers and yet we still were required to wait on the promenade deck.
As the delay was extended, a lot of the passengers began to moo as if we were cattle. Then chanting began, "Let us go. Let us go." This was soon followed by "We want off, we want off." I have never been on any ship where the disembarkation was stopped in mid-stream and passengers were held standing in line for over an hour before they were allowed to leave a ship. From the time we were called to disembark until the time we got curbside with our luggage was 2 hours and 20 minutes. A lot of people were trying to make flight changes, but due to the Thanksgiving traffic, they were not catching changed flights.
I was extremely displeased with this disembarkation. It turned what would have been an otherwise great week into one with a happy start and a dismal ending. If RCI does not do something to make up for this fiasco, they will certainly loose future cruisers, if they already didn't do so.