A great family vacation on the open seas: Mariner of the Seas Cruise Review by iamfranki
Overall Member Rating
A great family vacation on the open seas
Destination: Mexican Riviera
Embarkation: Los Angeles
Tour dates 04JUL - 10JUL
First of all a HUGE thanks to all that have posted before me. The wealth and depth of info was so helpful in deciding what to bring or do on the boat. A special thanks to those that have posted the ships Compass (daily newsletter as it allowed us to at least plan for our day's. Our actual Compass was a bit different but reading it up front made it so much easier to digest the ton of info that is given to you each night.
Arrival / parking We drove down from No California leaving at 4:30 am and arrived at the San Pedro pier parking lot ~ 11 am. We made a full loop of the parking area before realizing we needed to just turn into the area for parking rather than enter through a specific gate. We asked an attendant where to go for boarding and was directed to a building ~ 50 yards away. We decided to move our own luggage (4 bags) and went through a security system then onto the More reception desks (must have been 12 stations) We checked in and were directed to a waiting area. We started boarding w/in 10 minutes and were on the ship w/in 5 min.
On board - day one We found our way up to the windjammer food buffet (11th floor, back of the boat). We were somewhat early so we easily found a table right near a window. We circled the buffet area's (must have been 10 different stations some of which are duplicates) and chose a few things. The variety was great and the quality was good. I was hoping for some sushi at Jade's (2 area's w/in the buffet) but were told they were only open for dinner hours. We were able to get to our room by one and found 2 of 4 bags, hmmmmm. We entered and were quite happy with the size of our Jr. Suite. We have 2 boys (12, 14) so we needed the extra space for us. The walk in closet was good size but we needed the extra hanger we brought (though im sure you could get more if you asked). That's one of the great things I'll remember is that the service is outstanding. Any and all request are met with a smile and efficiency. The boys changed into swim wear and we all headed out to the pool area (right off the windjammer entry area). Noted the 2 main pools and 4 hot tubs (2 of which are covered for shade) The pools are saltwater which surprised my boys when they first jumped in. The pool temp was fine and seems to be closely controlled as on colder days the pool was warmer (up to 75). Pool towels are available by scanning in your seapsss, make sure you bring them back or it's 20 USD per towel. There was also welcome aboard music played by a Caribbean type band right on the pool deck. The atmosphere was nice, people dancing and drinking and we haven't even left LA! Made our way to the promenade, which is just beautiful. The immense five? story ceiling and quaint little shops and bars along the way make it feel like a little European town. OK now im tired, so back to the room and still missing 2 bags. We see and meet our room attendant, Henry, who was very nice, always smiling. He told us to check with guest services (4th floor?) who directed us to security on the first floor. Sure enough there were our bags and the only thing I was asked is "do you have an iron one of your bags" I could only remember my DW brought a hair iron ?!?. That seems to be fine and after a rescan of the bags (which I had to personally lift the bags onto) we were able to bring them to our room. Not the best of service downstairs but ill let it pass. We decided on the later dining time (8:30 but 8:45 on day one) we lasted until that time by snaking either at the windjammer during the dinner hours there or stopping by the always open Royal Promenade for free cookies, brownies or small croissant sandwiches with either water, coffee, tea or hot chocolate. There was an island a go-go parade on the promenade which was nice and worth seeing. We were lucky to have a chair right out side of one of the bars along the "street" as we new the parade was about to start. Of note most if not all activities and show's are well attended and getting there 10-15 early will guarantee you a decent seat. The exception is the Quest where you should be in line at least 20 minutes or you'll be either sitting way up high or apart from your group. More on the Quest later....
Day 2 - full day at sea Second day at sea and I most definitely felt queasy. My wife used the patch since day one, I was only using ginger tablets. I would say that a large part of the time I actually could feel the boat moving more side to side than anything else. On this day I had to take a bonine which helped but I still had a headache which 3 200mg ibuprofens helped. I was pretty drowsy though and crashed around 11 am (no dancing for me). I don't remember too much about this day. Missed most of the "men's sexy leg contest, which my wife said was very funny and well attended. Formal dinner night one, so I was able to dress up, we took some family portraits at 3 of the 5-6 portrait areas. At the end of each day the ship posts any and all pictures taken of you either by your dining table or the location of the portrait. You could also use the computer and your sea pass card to check them on line (smaller but certainly easier to find) Costs of the 8x 10 was pretty high at 20 USD ea. We ended up buying 3 getting one free on the last night of the cruise.
Day 3 - Cabo We discovered the Casey morning show on Ch 14. Here Casey goes over the daily compass highlights, answers guest questions and generally clowns around similar to a morning talk show, good way to start the day before breakfast. We usually ate breakfast at the windjammer and never had trouble fining a table the longest we look was maybe 1 min. Felt much better after a decent sleep. Whether was nice, clear blue sky's and pretty close to 90. We arrived to cabo on time and enjoyed the balcony view of the area coming in. we lined up for the departing tender boats. The waiting line went from floor 3 to floor five along the staircases which someone is not too bad as they have seen it longer. We were on the tender w/in 15 minutes and the ride in was fine. Coming off the pier we were looking for a specific tour that I read up on (Migrosa beach ATV) and located a reasonable vendor and negotiated the price down to what I saw on the web (50 USD pp). It was ~ 20 min ride with one other family to the "ranch" Check in took about 10 minutes were supplied with bandannas (for dust control) and a helmet with goggles. Cool now were ready. We had an overview of the ATV's and learned that most were non clutch but mainly shifted (you had 2 use a foot peg to shift up and down) my kids had never driven anything so we were lucky to get the 3 fully automatic units they had. At the last minute we signed for the 10 USD pp waiver) and wouldn't you know it my 14 yr old tips over his bike with the first ¼ mile. No damage but sorta scary. The first you do when you hop on is travel ~ 1.5 miles to the beach on a pretty bumpy, hilly skinny trail. I would recommend and I should have kept my guys in the back of the pack as they were up front and felt some pressure to keep pace with the tour guide. Any way we get down to the beach and huddle up. The guide says go any where you want and gave some ideas what to see. We were given some chilled bottle water. We had ~ 2 hrs. The beach was WAY bumpy so going fast was difficult, going alog the water line helped. Overall it was fun, only bad point is one of my wifes handle bars "broke" rendering her unit unusable. The guide let us use his unit. Luckily she wasn't driving fast when the handle basically snapped off in her hand. We made our way back and tipped those involved and headed back to town. We ate lunch in town and decided to go inland a bit. We tried one recommended place (mimi's cafe) but it was not open when we went by. We ended up at a nearby place which was fine I had lobster enchilada for 9 USD. Pretty good place, don't recall the name but right across the street from mimi's. We headed back to the main beach are and enjoyed some shopping. My youngest and I love soccer and were able to negotiate a 15 USD each price for 2 good quality jerseys of our choice. Online they are ~ 40-60 USD. Soon is was time to head back and we waited in line for ~ 20 min. The tender back was smooth and we also were able to get some nice pics of the ship. It was 70's night so we strutted around in our best stayin alive outfits and blended right in with the rest of our ship mates. They had a really nice, high energy show right on the promenade. The place was packed and we had about b2 dozen beach balls bouncing around, big easy beads being tossed to the crown and free t-shirts being tossed out by cruise director extraordinaire Casey, love love love Casey. We headed to dinner at the MDR. We were seated o the top hat and tails level 2 of 3 and enjoyed or view of the first floor dining area. I would say I don't think I would like the third floor dining room. The dining room is spectacular with the largest chandelier I've ever seen . After dinner we made it to the Production showtime show in the Savoy theater (front of the boat levels 3 and 4) The show was OK to good. It contained many 20's to 50's type songs which will likely will not appeal to any one under 25. Then we saw the late night adult comedy show which was pretty good and generally PG with only a minor reference to birth and birth control. Hardly offensive and I probably could have brought my boy's. This brings me to how we handled our teens when we went to see something ourselves. They each had their room keys and a copy of the teen activities list as well as a walkie talkie. They had a good time but needed some encouragement to go to the teen stuff. Once they did, they tended to go more often.
Day 4 - Mazatlan Another beautiful sunny day. The boat docked at a pier. We departed to a pretty industrial pier where we boarded a free shuttle inland on a 2-4 minute drive. We did not have any real plans and took advantage ?? of a visit to El Cid Marina resort for a small sales pitch on a point sharing system. Free 20min taxi ride later we arrive at the marina. So while my boys had there way with the 2 pools and hot tubs we lasted through a 70 minute discussion and finally convinced the presenter that indeed we were NOT interested. Pretty hard sell. We had a free lunch and then took a free shuttle to another el cid resort where we headed for the beach. The ocean water was great must have been 79 degrees with some of the largest waves I played in (I compare them to Fla gulf and ocean coasts as well as Waikiki and Maui) we played for ~2 hrs, rinsed off at the hotel rinse station (again nice warm water) and changed. We took our free taxi back to the town area, shopped for only a few minutes and had to head back to the boat. Relaxed a bit then headed to the 10 USD sale on the promenade, the wife picked up a few things. We decided to see the Ice under the big top show today for afew reasons and attended the 6:45 show. It was very crowded and while I was there ~ 15 early to get a good seat they were pretty strict about not reserving seats only my youngest sat with me and we were separated during the show (GO EARLY). The show was very nice and has one really funny act , 2 really good acts and a few OK acts. Definitely worth seeing. Then it was onto dinner in the MDR (we ate every dinner there it was more than good, decent choices of starters and main entrees each night as was free!) We ended the night with the love and marriage game show which was very funny but really depends on the contestants picked. I would classify this as an adult only as you never know what someone will say live.......They did discuss unusual places for fun making. After that it was dancing under the stars by the poolside which had a four piece band that played some tropical type tunes pretty nice not to crowded ...Great day
Day 5 - Puerto Vallarta Another nice day a bit overcast though. The boat docked we were able to walk off quite easily. We decided for forgo our planned horseback riding excursion in lue of a day walking around town. We decided to take the bus from the boat terminal to town (~ 5-10 min) it was 3 USD for 4 people. We were dropped off one street from the beach near the hard rock.. Started off with some shopping, looking for some piggie banks and photo frames. All of the shops carry similar if not identical items and surprisingly the shop furthest from the beach that we shopped at did not have the lowest prices. We looked for a place to eat and ended on on the main beachwalk at a restaurant near the end of the developed walkway near the seahorse statue. Food was fine service was way slow. It started to rain midway through service. The rain continued for the next 2 hrs. most of which we spent on the beach letting the boys play in the ocean while it rained. This was the public beach after the hotel row private beaches so there were no amenities or barely a place to hide form the rain. We headed back via bus and made our way to the ship. Back on board most of the "outdoor activities were cancelled due to weather. Me and my youngest hung out in the covered hot tub for a while. Pretty laid back early evening, headed to Jade in the Windjammer around 6 for some sushi, which was actually pretty dinner good. Some more promenade walking, some foosball with the boys and got ready for the 8:30 dinner. After word we geared up for there QUEST. We headed to Studio B (skating rink) on 3 rd floor near the MDR which are all at the front of the boat. The line was only ~ 50 people deep when we got there but quickly grew. We were able to pick our seats and chose to be face forward, versus side seats, and 2 rows back.. The Quest is a game show that utilizes everyone in the studio. By the end of the night my wife has taken off her bra, I also spent some quality time on the floor with another man in my favorite position fun fun fun.,.. It was super high energy and must be attended if it is ther only thing you do on the ship. After this was over, everyone's is basically crazed with energy so onto dancing at the solarium (adult pool area) for some VJ driven music. Much of the music was hard core hip hop so the party was a bit dead for a while then the VJ wised up and spun some more contemporary stuff (Back eyed peas, Rhianna, Beyonce ect.) it perked up but the VJ still insisted on throwing in some unknown to me hip hop stuff. nded up back at the room near 1:30. Another great day.
Day 6 - full day at sea A beautiful day very sunny, nice around 80-85. Day at the pool for the family we found some open lounge chairs in a semi shady spot (our preference) around 10:30 soon after that was slim pickings for chairs and people were taking chairs from the window area (no sun) and brining them out front of the band area, pretty congested. I believe at 11 was the ladies bicep competition I convinced my wife to join it was all good a pretty funny harmless fun all ages welcome to see this. At one I joined the international belly flop completion and it was also very fun well attended, the pool are a was super packed and those sitting close to the pool got very wet. We made it to the windjammer for lunch and headed back to the pool area for most of the afternoon. They had the same 4 piece band playing most of the day or piped in music. This was the second formal night so we all headed back to clean up and relax in the room. They were replaying some of the weeks earlier stuff (love and marriage show so we watched it with the kids) I think we all crashed for a few and finally got dressed ~7 and went to get a second set of formal photo's taken. Dinner was the special lobster / prime rib night so that was fab. I believe we went to the battle of the sexes, which was fun but I swear we saw that earlier in the week oh well, I little foggy here. As far as battle of the sexes again, people volunteer to play and go thru random questions or skits. Thru a series of clever cheating the men won . We finished up with more dancing at the "dragons lair" which was really well attended had high energy and was great fun. We were done by one am and were surprised not to see our boys back from the night. They arrived shortly after due to the curfew on younger travelers. A third great day .
Day 7 - full day at sea A much colder day not suited for poolside fun so we took advantage of the numerous dance classes (line, meringue, latin) lazed around our room. Quick visits to the hot tubs and more of the free self serve ice cream at the artic zone right by the pool. In the afternoon I played in the adult dodgeball staff vs guest competition ( my arm still hurts) It was good fun. The teens played dodgeball right after so we were pretty chilled and cold after these 2 events. Back to the hot tubs then to the room for again what I remember was naptime. We then headed to the photo are to look at the weeks of photo's including the formal night shots. We spent about an hour looking and finally deciding to by 3 and the cruise DVD. The DVD is OK but I wish there was more candid live footage with sound than the canned, prerecorded ship footage with overdubbed music. We made it to the farewell variety show but were late and it was standing room only. A pretty good show. We headed to dinner and our kids decided to pass as they went to the windjammer. Afterword we went to the adult comedy show, different comedian that day 2? And about the same (hardly offensive) A very nice, but somewhat cold day.
So to summarize, we loved the cruise even with the slight sense of a headache now and then. I recommend you attend as many activities and show's that interest you as walking through the promenade more than a few time gets a bit redundant.
Must see/do - Quest Lobster dinner Belly flop, miss biceps and best legs Ice show 70's party in the promenade Love and Marriage Comedy shows Dance classes Dancing under the stars Parades day 1 and 7 20's - 50" and 80's entertainment shows
Ill be posting some photo's at a later date - thanks for listening Less
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