The Mariner is a beautiful ship and fresh out of dry dock she boasts all brand new seating, carpeting, curtains, bed linens, etc. The thickly padded pool deck lounge chairs are quite possibly the comfiest at sea and I found myself falling asleep more than once while basking in the poolside sun. Of course, that could also have been the cause of late night activities because while the Regent passenger demographic skews a little older - these are a very active bunch! There are plenty of choices when it comes to how much or how little you want to do while on the ship - and the activities run the gamut from mid-day games to enrichment lectures to team contests to wine tasting. If you decide you want to do absolutely nothing at all - there's a place for that too! The passenger/space ratio on the Mariner is very high and it quite evident, especially when you are looking for some solitude. There are plenty of nooks and crannies and comfortable seating options to be found all over the ship when you want some "alone" time.
Embarkation was painless and once on board the ship, we were given flutes of champagne and escorted to the Pool Deck by a staff member who also carried our unchecked bags. The whole process took less than a half hour. Our cabin was ready before 2pm and it was every bit as spacious as I had anticipated. Plenty of room to move around and plenty of storage space. The towels and bed linens are of the highest quality, as is the complimentary bathrobe and slippers. They even provided an umbrella for inclement weather! We had a problem with the safe and with the interactive tv but those items were addressed quickly.
The food in all venues was outstanding, although the service was sometimes on the slow side. Nearly every single dish we ordered was cooked to perfection and the presentation was always creative. Room service was always prompt and for the most part the orders were flawless (one or two very minor errors such as forgetting the lemon for the tomato juice). Even the lunchtime pool grill food was way above average, with large juicy cheeseburgers, hotdogs, chicken wings and then an additional themed grill (Mexican, American, Seafood, etc.) with extra items from which to choose.
I have mixed feelings about the entertainment. Perhaps I had gone into the cruise with high expectations and since all of my expectations as far as food, service, ambience, etc. was met, I expected the same thing from the quality of the shows. This wasn't really the case. The trio which played on the pool deck during lunch, and then at other times throughout the evening were very very very good! The Regent orchestra which accompanied the singers and dancers in the shows is also very good. The production/variety shows themselves, however, were amateurish and cliched. The (so-called) comic/impressionist that was featured the first night was almost painful to sit through; and he ended up doing two more shows! Truly the best entertainment on the ship (besides the Nature's Rhythm trio) was to be found at the Liar's Club which is touted as a game but should be called a show and is one of those "not to be missed" events.
The ship's itinerary allowed us to visit seven different ports in 12 days: Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao, St. Lucia, St. Kitts, San Juan and Grand Turk. It would take far too much room to go into what we did at each port, but feel free to read my blog (http://rsscmarinersoutherncaribbean.blogspot.com) which details the trip further or email me with specific questions.
I am not the only one to get choked-up while sitting through the Captain's Farewell the last night of the cruise. And emotions were running high the final morning when having to say goodbye to the ship, the staff, and all the new friends I had made. It is quite difficult to put into words exactly what the Regent experience truly is because it's more of an atmosphere that is created by the wonderful staff. Suffice it to say, however, that once you have experienced Regent, you will want to experience it again and again!