I have been quite apprehensive about cruising due to stories about norovirus, crowds impacting on personal space etc. However, decided that a 4 day cruise would suit as a first experience, and if I hated it, the thought of leaving the ship after 4 days would be comforting. Booked this cruise(Singapore - Port Kelang- Langkawi-Singapore) relatively late in October, and although the price hadn't been discounted significantly, it seemed rather reasonable .
Boarding was a very smooth process on the Mariner Centre in Singapore. We arrived half an hour before boarding start time and there were already hundreds of people there waiting to check in. Queues were orderly and the process took about 45 minutes and we were on the ship. Being my first time on a luxury liner, I was gobsmacked by the size, layout and lavish décor - first words which sprang to mind were a mixture of impressive, vulgar, decadent , spectacular. Understandable as there are many tastes to be catered for (3000 passengers) and taking this into account, I think the ship is well set out and the number of entertainment venues and bars located around didn't make one feel smothered by hoards of people.
Our cabin was on Deck 7 right in the front of the ship, and we felt we couldnt be better located as we could see the ports as we were approaching. The room was spacious enough and the beds very comfortable. A couple of things were offputting- the room had wiffs of stale cigarette smoke and the loo had a faint smell of wee - both of which must have been lingering for some time, Our room attendant tidied and cleaned the cabin each morning and evening, and made delightful towel animals which awaited us each evening. We were so touched to see joey in a pouch hanging from a clothes hanger on the first evening after returning from dinner, as he must have been told by management that we are Australian. There were little gestures like this throughout our cruise which made us feel special - they addressed us by our first names in the formal dining areas, the waitpersons were impeccable in their attentiveness and nothing was ever too much for them. To receive such personalised service in a ship with 3000 passengers was impressive.
The shows were of an extremely high standard, and the ice skating show"Under the Big Top" was brilliant and colourful. The pianist in the Schooner Bar was good. Disappointed in the Ellington's Jazz Bar which is very well located right on the top deck(12) but does not offer jazz musicians. We were there 2 of the evenings hoping to hear some pleasant jazz music, but was told by the waitperson that it was a bar offering quiet music, not jazz. Wish that the RCL management would address this.
The food was very good , especially in the Windjammer Buffet Restaurent, which offered an endless variety of food for all nationalities. The Indian curries were particularly good, so were the range of desserts.The food in the formal dining areas varied slightly from evening to evening but was good on the whole. We dined at Giovannis and our advice is - if you are booked to go there, skip lunch as there are 5 generous courses - all well presented and delicious, . We couldnt finish most of the portions served, because we just couldn't fit them in.
The cigar salon - The Connosieur Club was a delightful refuge for my partner, when he wanted to escape the people and activities on the main areas of the ship. We found during the day that there were spots on the ship where we could just lie on a deck chair and read with hardly any human traffic.
Johnny Rockets is a delightful café which takes one back to the American Sixties- music , décor , hamburgers, chips and delicious onion rings - all you can eat for a small cover charge of approx. AUD$ 6.
We did enjoy our trip on the whole, and although we encountered some instances of rudeness and poor dress standards in the formal dining areas, (expecting this to some extent as we were cruising an Asian region) this was easily overlooked when considering everything else on offer.. We felt that we didn't have enough time to explore and enjoy all the activities on board as it is such a big ship and it took us all of 4 days to only begin to familiarise ourselves with the ship well enough to find our way around . The interactive information screens on each deck were most helpful.
Lastly, one of our biggest gripes was with the location of the Casino on the ship. We had to use it as a thoroughfare to get to some of the main entertainment venues on the ship , and hated it each time as smoking is allowed there, and the smell of the smoke spreads to the Schooner Bar which is located
adjacent to the casino. This was for us the most undesirable venue on the ship - its location and the fact that smoking is allowed. We hope the RCL management will seriously look at this and address it, as I am sure many non gambling, and non-smoking passengers would feel compromised , especially considering RCL's strict policy on smoking in the ship.
Would we cruise again? Definitely and will not hesitate to return to the Mariner of the Seas again just so that we can fully enjoy it fully as 4 days was far too short.