We went on the Mariner in 2001 during its Inaugural season. We also did Alaska but from Vancouver to Anchorage. We were extremely impressed with the ship in 2001. My in-laws wanted to go again in 2006 and I was reluctant to take the same ship with pretty much the same itinerary (only reversed). I'm so glad we did! The Mariner was even better than 5 years ago! Everything about the ship, crew, service, quality of food, entertainment, kid's program, etc. was excellent! My only complaint is that we had to leave the ship after 7 days!
The food at ALL of the venues was excellent. We tried every restaurant at least once and we enjoyed every meal.
We used Club Mariner for my 5 and 7 year olds. They had a wonderful time while we were able to enjoy quiet meals, especially in the evenings.
The gym needs some updated equipment. I would have liked to see some new ellipticals. I'm hoping that they upgrade some of the gym equipment before our next cruise on the Mariner, Christmas 2007. Otherwise, the gym was fine. My husband was training for a triathlon and he managed to get in a good workout each morning.
The shore excursions were also great! I liked the fact that we could review and book our shore excursions online before we ever stepped foot on the ship. They had a nice variety of shore excursions as well. For example, my brother and sister in law opted to play golf in Skagway while we went on the train ride and panned for gold (with the 2 children).
We also were able to book our dinner reservations online for the two speciality restaurants. Signatures is an excellent french restaurant and Lattitudes, an also equally excellent Asian-Pacific restaurant. Compass Rose, the main dining room rivaled both of the specialty restaurants on board.
We were in stateroom #907. After 5 years, the ship still looks great. The couch in our stateroom was a bit worn at one corner but other than that, everything still looked brand new. Our room stewardess was also excellent. She stocked our refrigerator with the refreshments we requested (Diet Pepsi and Peligrino instead of Diet Coke). She was always available when we needed something but never in the way.
We did not have a lot of time to enjoy the entertainment on board. The few shows we did get to were also very enjoyable! My favorite was the last night when the crew entertained us. It was quite good! We also enjoyed the Mariner Lounge. There were a variety of smaller shows there that we enjoyed thoroughly. I loved the fact that there was always something to enjoy on the ship, whether it was a Broadway type show, dancing or just relaxing quietly in the Observation Lounge.
Since there are only 700 passengers on this ship, there was NEVER A LINE! Even at the Captain's cocktail party, I think there were two other couples in front of us to greet the captain and that only took a few moments. We were always able to get a seat at any venue, even if we showed up a bit late.
The Mariner was an excellent ship all around. Instead of looking for destinations to cruise, we are going to find out where the Mariner will be and book that cruise. Our next cruise is booked; Christmas 2007. We cannot wait to go back!