Embarkation: Drove to port (about an hour drive from home) and arrived about Noon. No problems getting there except we did go around a couple of times before we saw the entrance to the actual parking section. Husband was real frustrated by the time we found it. Hubby and I wanted to cruise but didn't want to have to fly so this was still perfect. Don't let the long line of people being dropped off at the terminal scare you-couldn't even tell if they were people getting off the ship or waiting to get on but they all just seemed to be standing around at the porter station. We found a porter right away who took our bags and we were off to the check in counter. Check in went quickly. We found our line and didn't really have to wait. Check in gal wasn't the most pleasant but who cares, we were starting our vacation.
On the ship: We managed to get around the photographer at the end of the gangway (managed to steer clear of ALL photog's the entire trip) and walked right in. The ship was very clean and the artwork was amazing. We made our way to the Schooner bar until it was time to get into our cabin. Barrington (Jamaica) in the Schooner bar was the best as were the drinks. We quickly appointed him our bartender of the week and every time he saw us he greeted us with a smile and a drink. Lava Flows are my favorite.
Cabin: We were able to get in our room right at 1p.m. and having a D2 was nice. The room was one of the largest we've had (compared to other sailings). The couch was large (even for my 6ft3 hubby to take a nap). The balcony was roomy and we had two chairs and a small table so it was just perfect. We utilized the balcony most when pulling into port. There is lots of cabinet space in the vanity with 3 small drawers on either side of the chair. We had plenty of lighting in our cabin and no problems with plugs-as I hear other ships have this problem. There is a large cabinet space above the safe which is above the TV. and the closet was nice with plenty of hangers. Next time I'll have our cabin steward remove the hangers we don't use as they swayed with the boat and made a clanging noise in the middle of the night. Speaking of middle of the night-if you need to go to the bathroom I'd suggest a flashlight (or torch-as our Australian friends put it) or even a night light. Its pitch black at night and finding the bathroom is quite the chore.
Service: + I'm jumping around the review a bit as I wanted to mention our cabin steward. Nick (who had just joined the ship that day) was the best CS we'd ever had. He is from Jamaica and was so nice and always greeted us with a smile. Even though he was getting acquainted with the ship he met our needs from the beginning. Our bags didn't take long to get to our room either. We were unpacked quickly. -(now for the one negative of the entire cruise)-we'd avoided the dining room the first 2 nights as we're very casual dressers (and our thong sandals and tank tops would not have been appropriate) but on the 3rd night we decided to go to the dining room (dressed appropriately). We told the gal it was our first time in the dining room and she proceeded to take us to our assigned table. Which had already been occupied by other people. So back to the doorway of the dining room and it seemed as though no one wanted to help us get reassigned to a new table. One of them took my husband's sea pass card and proceeded to walk around with it looking for a table for us (or was he?). Then he handed the sea pass card to another gentleman (who appeared to be a bus boy) and told him to help us-that guy just looked puzzled and stood there for a few seconds. Okaaaaayyyyyy, by this time I'm getting irritated because we had avoided the dining room so we didn't have to wait. We're pretty patient people who don't like to make a scene but this was starting to annoy me. At this point we just wanted my husband's sea pass card back so we could go to our (usual and comfortable) Windjammer. Finally we were found a table, which turns out, was a "misfit" table-the two other couples we met at that table had the same thing happen to them. They were pleasant and we had a wonderful conversation-both couples were newlyweds. We ate dinner, didn't give our waiter a hard time as it wasn't his fault about the table situation but once we were out of there we never went back. We found the staff at the Windjammer just fine and next time we may avoid the dining room altogether. We did reserve a night at Chops grill and received the most excellent service (the same service we'd expected at the main dining room) there's a reason you pay a cover charge at these "specialty" restaurants.
Ports: We didn't have an excursion booked in Cabo but did hire one of those venders on the dock who, for $10 each, did just what they said they'd do. We took a boat ride around the harbor at the famous arch and then they dropped us off at Medano Beach (watch when you get off the boat on the beach-we just about burned our feet on the hot sand). Got some chairs on the beach at a cantina (can't remember the name)-as long as you bought drinks you can sit on the beach chairs. The waiters there worked their butts off and weren't pushing us at all to buy more drinks. The vendors, however, were in your face just about one every minute-that got annoying. We didn't get off the ship at Mazatlan, rather, enjoyed some time at the pool (no searching for a lounge chair at the pool) and I took advantage of the massage special they had that day-which I could have done without but it was still nice. This was the day the ship holds its weekly drill so be aware that about 10a.m. if you book a nice, relaxing massage you're going to have to bear the loud alarms and captains announcements. The highlight of this day was booking our next cruise at the Loyalty Ambassadors desk. Dinner that night was Johnny Rockets-a fun atmosphere with very carb-a-licious food.
We booked the Mexican Fiesta excursion for Puerto Vallarta which was very humid and a little bit of rain. The excursion as nice. We were taken by bus to a small ranch where tequila is made and even had tequila tasting. We were then fed a nice buffet with some entertainment (dancers and a dancing horse). Did a little shopping but the vendors were pretty pushy at the ranch. Back on the bus and we had a tour of the rest of PV with more shopping. Our tour guide, Alex, was entertaining.
Sailing back: The last two days were all sailing. The weather was cold and it was very windy-never really wanted to hang outside. Saw a Broadway type show which was okay. The comedian (not the adult's only comedian) was "eh". We walked out after 10 minutes and went to the casino. We did go to the Quest at Studio B. We weren't really sure what the Quest was all about but once it got started we quickly learned and I'd never laughed so much in my life. Great time!
Disembarking: We forgot to fill out our departure form but knew we'd be last-sure enough we had purple tags (which indicate last off the boat). No problem. Hubby and I had one last breakfast in the (super packed) Windjammer. Then we gathered our carry on and waited in the Schooner bar to get into the theater where our departure announcement was to be made. We had an hour left so got our books out and started reading when a female officer saw us and asked us when our departure time was. We answered and quickly she escorted us to the door-we were off the boat and didn't have to wait ?. Made our way downstairs, gathered our bags and we were on our way in no time. This process was one of the quickest and most organized I'd experienced.
All in all, a great cruise, wonderful and friendly staff, food was good, weather could have been better but we're glad we went. Sad to see Mariner leave Los Angeles area. If you have a chance, sail her before she leaves.