Having cruised with RCI three times on two other smaller ships in their fleet, we were expecting the same high standards. Sadly we were very disappointed. The Mariner is a beautiful ship but the design seems to have increased passenger numbers disproportionately to the size of the public spaces available.
For example the Schooner Bar (a feature of RCI ships) was actually smaller on the Mariner than on the two previous ships we had sailed on. It also seemed to us to lack warmth and congeniality as indeed did most of the public spaces on the ship. The pool area was extremely noisy (not helped by the out door cinema) and for us at least, an area to be avoided.
The most obvious manifestation of the lack of space was the Windjammer buffet restaurant. It was seriously overcrowded at all times, very noisy and with tables placed far too close together for comfort. It was difficult to find a seat or move through it carrying food. I have noticed other crtics on this site More
complaining about the food in the Windjammer. Yes it was predominately Asian but given the market the ship operates in that is hardly surprising. We thoroughly enjoyed it and have no real complaints. There were many European choices available.
Our cabin (Junior Suite) was very spacious and comfortable although not to supply tea and coffee (other than green tea) when both a kettle and a coffee maker were supplied was quite extraordinary (this is supposed to be a floating luxury hotel amd Junior Suites aren't cheap !!). After complaining to Guest Services both tea and coffee were eventually found (although it took three days).
Our most serious complaint (and is why we are unlikely to cruise with RCI again) is that we they took all passports off passengers on boarding saying that they would be returned to us on the last day of the cruise, despite very strong protests from many including myself. However it was strictly enforced with the implied threat that we could not be allowed to board unless we agreed. This is a practice I have never come across before either on RCI ships or other cruise operators we have sailed with.
This effectively meant that everyone had to go ashore at all ports on the cruise on either ship tours, or independently, without them. Not a sensible thing to be forced to do and in my view unforgivable. No reason advanced to me for this practice by Customer Services made any sense. It was the source of a number of angry exchanges we witnessed between passengers and Customer services.
The entertainment in the theatre was sparce (often just one show per evening) and very poor in our suite with little choice on our TV. The only film channels were either pay to view or TCM. Even our airline flying out to the area managed to offer over fifty films on seatback TV.
We also deplore the practice of insisting that passengers who had booked ship tours must be allowed to disembark first. Not a serious problem until we reached Phuket where we were told that we could not board a tender until all ship tour passengers had left the ship. This seriously compromised our ability get ashore in time to book an independent tour before they left.
Finally this cruise was advertised as being to Bangkok and Ho Chi Min City. The container terminals we berthed at were two and a half hours by road from Bangkok and two hours by road from Ho Chi Min City, on expensive ship tours of course. Whilst I appreciate the size of the ship this adverising strikes me as disingenuous to say the least.
So not really a happy experience and one we are not pariculary anxious to repeat. Less
Mariner of the Seas Cruises to Asia