As a UK resident I was expecting the same attention to detail that UK Lines provide at Christmas, but sadly the Royal Caribbean Mariner of the seas treated Christmas in a very low key way.Like the splendour of the seas the Mariner had wonderful public spaces and much poorer cabins. Cigarette burns on the basin in the (non-smoking) cabin bathroom, patches of rough putty to cover holes on the verandah, tiny bathroom cabinets showing water damage and what appears to be years of hard use. Water from the verandahs above ran down a pipe and spilled onto our verandah, in fairly large quantities and from the stains, had been doing so for some time.
Waiter service at our table and in bars was generally excellent and usually polite and friendly. Customer service at the desk was much more varied, with staff who seemed to have perfected a fawlty towers fob-off to perfection, to a few wonderful people who really put themselves out to help.
Royal Caribbean updated their site to invite passengers to bring a couple of bottles of champagne or wine for the christmas celebrations for use in their cabins:- beware - if you take them up on this, as they scan the suitcase (if you fly in from the UK your champagne will be in your suitcase, not hand luggage), and impound the suitcase till well after both dinner sittings. They leave a small note on your bed to tell you there is a "problem" with your case and you have to go to a central area to deal with this. When you go there they ask you to open the case, even though the scan operator says she can see the bottles in the bag are champagne shaped. You are then told to take your own cases up to your deck - they dont delver them. If our elderly parents (one of whom had wheelchair assistance to board) had been travelling on their own, they could not have collected their case- fortunately my husband was there to handle their bags.
The scanning is done to impound bottles of spirits - but caused so much stress amongst those of us affected that we would now avoid booking with RC in the future, unless they offered the only ship in the destination we wanted.
Early dining was 5.30pm - tours get back at 5 and 5.30pm, so a designated formal night was on one of the 3 days we were in ports. We arrived back at 6pm from a ship-arranged tour to find the bathroom full of water and floating black globs, which meant we were unable to even take a shower before on evening attire to go to dinner. We had been walking round Mayan ruins for 4 hours, and travelling in an un-airconditioned tour bus, and really did need a shower before dinner, but had we waited for the bathroom to be cleaned up, we would have been excluded from the dining room. Although we have frequently been at early sittings before they are normally 6 or 6.30 rather than 5.30, which is really infant's dinging time.
We had a cabin next door to the parents and our children and a family friend were also with us, making a party of 8. We wanted to spend christmas day together on our adjoining verandahs, and so put in a request on boarding the ship on the 23rd december. Enquiries a couple of times a day till christmas morning were met by a wide range of excuses:- health and safety - probably cant be done:
request still open and with staff captain:
looking into it:
will review request and get back to you: (never did)
staff captain will let you know his decision:
Finally, at 10am on Christmas morning a member of staff took action. She phoned round various people till she found someone who would help. They came to our cabin at 11.30am on Christmas morning and sawed the bolt off the verandah partition. This meant we had a great Christmas family get-together, but had to put up with the connecting door banging in the wind for the rest of the cruise as it could not be secured open or closed.
Christmas dinner offered various choices including Roast turkey and MASH. There were no roast potatoes on the entire cruise. There was no Christmas pudding, mince pies or Christmas Crackers and you were not allowed to take your own christmas crackers on board.