We arrived at the port around 11am and quickly found a porter to take care of our luggage, we had been given a change of cabin so needed new luggage tags, that was not a problem, the porter gave us some blanks are we filled them in and attached them to our luggage. Our cases were whisked away and we went to check in.
Check in was a breeze and before we knew it, we were waiting in a holding area ready to board the ship, after around 20 mins we were on board and making our way up to the Windjammer for lunch.
The Windjammer selection was always very good throughout the whole cruise and we regularly ate breakfast and lunch there. As we were staying in a Grand Suite, we were able to take our food into Choppes Grille to eat it in there, once or twice we were asked to show our card but generally we were allowed to get on with our food in peace. It was nice to have a small oasis of calm in an otherwise busy Windjammer.
At 1pm our rooms were ready and we went to take a look. Our Grand Suite was very nice, clean and well maintained, within seconds of arriving at our cabin, our steward arrived and introduced himself. Through the cruise he looked after us very well and although we had pre-paid our gratuities, we gave him a little extra for his services.
As suite guests, we also had access to the Concierge Lounge on Deck 9. This is a "Secret Room" reserved for suite guests and Diamond Plus Crown and Anchor Members. The Concierge, Allan from the Philippines was in my opinion the best Concierge we have ever had. He was so friendly and ultra helpful without being in your face. He organised dinner reservations and tours as well as spa treatments. Also on the last but one day, he was extra helpful in arranging some sparkling wine for a surprise Champagne breakfast that I organised for my Wife.
The ship itself was excellent. We have previously sailed on 3 other Voyager class ships so we knew what to expect and the Mariner just did not let us down one bit. The staff were very friendly and extra helpful all of the time.
We chose My Time Dining and ate in the main dining room most evenings, we had a table for two and we were able to keep the same waiters, which was nice. The food was OK, nothing super special but not bad if you know what I mean. We did eat in Portofino on one night and Choppes on another and they were excellent, well worth the additional cover charge.
Our first port of call was Cabo San Lucas. This is a tender port so there is some queuing to get off the ship but it's well organised by the staff and before you know it we were at the port. We had booked the Dolphin Swim experience and that was so amazing, to be in the water with these beautiful creatures was an experience we will never forget. Afterwards, we could have taken a 10 min walk to downtown but chose instead to have some margaritas and snacks in one of the many bars at the port.
The next day was Mazatlan, here we did the ATV tour which was very exciting and great value for money. Zipping along the beach with the sea crashing just inches from your 4x4 vehicle was quite exhilarating. At the port there is a selection of shops and an internet cafe as well as a couple of bars so you don't even need to go into town if you don't want to, but if you do, we were told that it's only a couple of dollars in a taxi.
Our third port of call was Puerto Vallarta, here we did the Sea Lion Experience. Wow this was the best of all three tours. In a small group, we were able to get into the water with the Sea Lions and they swam past us allowing us to stroke and pet them. They also gave kisses to all in the group as well as posing for photos with a cheesy grin. I really enjoyed this experience. All the way through there is a photographer and photo's are available to buy, although they are quite expensive at $25 for one and $249 for all the pics on a cd.
We had a couple of sea days to get back to Los Angeles and we took the time to relax and catch up on our reading. You could feel the temperature change almost by the hour it was getting cooler, the closer we got to Los Angeles. On a couple of evenings there were organised parties where you could meet the Captain, who on this cruise was Captain Per, bears an uncanny resemblance to Ricky Gervaise!
In summary, we had an excellent cruise on the Mariner, so much so that we booked 2 more cruised whilst on board.