Principally I am posting to cancel out some of the poor reviews posted about this Asian transfer for the Mariner.
True, the ship is tired and needs a dry dock. The ship is marketed on many internet sites as 4.5 star and this i think is a star too many but aside from its condition does offer so many amenities that a dry dock could regain its list star easily. We had a Junior Suite which was showing its age both in fixtures and fittings especially on the Balcony with old chairs, the floor in poor condition and the paintwork needing improvement so this aside I will focus on the service and hotel side.
It is true that it is 95% Asian in clientele so I think it is unfair to criticise the management for not gearing everything to suit the majority despite it being an American Line and having certain levels of standardisation.
We had slightly more non Asian guests, certainly more than the 5 to 10 mentioned on previous postings but I think the 95% non Asian ratio is accurate.
The Cruise is heavily chartered and group orientated and if it is succeed in Asia I don't think it is unfair to cater to this market which is not just Chinese but heavily Indonesian, Japanese etc.
The food is slightly biased towards Asian tastes but I had many new and unusual dishes that I loved and really enjoyed the new tastes and experiences.
However, there were many Western dishes and I feel any complaints about the food in the buffet style restaurants are unfair. There are also the usual speciality restaurants offering Steak and Italian options (for a small charge) if you want a change.
I also was very impressed with the cost of drinks. These were much lower than on previous RCCL cruises, especially Western beers and wines that are traditionally much more expensive when travelling in Asia.
The Staff were very friendly, we felt that as Europeans we got treated as special guests and, admittedly, we have Diamond Status, but we had more privileges offered to us on this Cruise than on any Mediterranean or USA Cruise holding the same status.
In fact, the Diamond privileges were extended to Gold Members which is exceptional value considering the free drinks etc available at this level.
Our Concierge (Kevin) in the Diamond Lounge could not do enough for us, organising everything from nice restaurant tables to assistance with Immigration meetings and even a private tour of the Bridge.
Almost all guests are on compulsory tours, part of their deal and not optional. This does mean on Port Days the ship is almost completely empty. It's a bit strange but f course, the service is amazing and no issues in finding a sunbed!
The ship has been adjusted to cater to Asian spending habits. In my opinion for the better. gone are the pubs and shops selling poor quality generic gifts and replaced by higher end jewellery and gift stores to suit the market on board.
I had no issue with this.
I didn't try the entertainment in the theatre as I know it was more Asian themed but I I'd notice that on 2 occasions the usual RCCL Singers and Dancers had productions which is generic across the line.
I feel that it's a great way of experiencing Asia and its not a bespoke itinerary or part of a world tour - the ship is there for a while so must be geared to the marketplace. If you wish to sail with a more traditional clientele then a part world Cruise or other segment on another Cruise will offer a more traditional experience.
However, if you can accept it for what it is, are happy to be surrounded by (very friendly) Asian clientele you will enjoy.