Embarkation: Embarkation was really easy. We flew into LAX at 5:30am the morning of (there are not too many direct flight options coming out of Kaua`i and I didn't want to risk our luggage getting lost before the trip). We thought that we would hang out at the airport until around 1030 and then take a cab to the port because I had read somewhere that the RCI shuttle doesn't come until noon and I wanted to be on the ship by then. Luckily we ran into an RCI representative at baggage claim and they had us on the shuttle by 1015 for around $28 per person (there were only two of us). Once we got to the port it was pretty self-explanatory. There are numerous people there giving out information and telling us where to go or to wait until we could board the ship. We were on the ship by 1115. We headed straight for the Windjammer to eat lunch. I was immediately impressed by the open view of our surroundings and the quality of the food. I mean, it is a buffet, but I felt that the quality was very good, for a buffet.
The Ship: They were playing the World Cup Final in the Savoy on a huge projector so we caught the tail end of the game and then explored the ship. At first I was a little confused as to how to get to certain areas (since on some levels, you can't walk all the way through to the other side) but after the second or third day I felt like an old hand. The Mariner is a LARGE ship. It is also very nice looking. The promenade was impressive, although I was a little disappointed that there were only three or four actual stores. The ice skating rink was smaller than I thought it would be. The main dining room was VERY glamorous. We didn't feel that we needed to eat at the specialty restaurants since eating in the MDR felt special enough for us. The ship overall was very clean. My only complaint is that the elevators took forever. We usually ended up taking the stairs. I believe each floor of the ship has a theme in its artwork; we were on deck 8 and all of the art pieces involved bikes of some kind.
Our Room: We had an interior room, #8471, towards the aft of the ship. The room was tiny, but it didn't matter since we were only in there to sleep or to take naps. The bed was SUPER comfortable and the room got really dark so we slept like the dead (not to mention we were on Hawai`i time, so when people were waking up at 700am, it was like 400am for us.. needless to say, we looked really tired the entire time). Since the room was so dark, I usually kept the bathroom light on at night with the door shut so we could see it in case one of us woke up. They clean the room twice a day, and leave your cruise compass after the second cleaning. We had three towel animals: a penguin, swan, and elephant.
The Food: I felt that the food was really hit or miss. The MDR was absolutely gorgeous. We did My Time Dining, which was awesome since we didn't really want to eat with anyone or be on a set schedule. We tried eating with a group of people one day for lunch, and it was incredibly awkward. I realize this is not usually the case, as most people LOVE their tablemates, but the group of people we sat with absolutely refused to engage us in any conversation after repeated tries. We finally gave up and said good riddance to that family. Anywho, our table for two was set by the window each night and we had amazing views of the ocean and one night saw dolphins jumping through the waves. Back to the food however, it was definitely hit or miss. I really believe that the pork medallions could be passed on. Many nights had a duck or beef dish served. My favorite dessert was the berry-peach crumble. My favorite entree was the prime rib. My favorite appetizer was the caprese. We visited the cafe a couple times if we got hungry during the day. I think their cookies could be passed, but they had some good pizza and cute sandwiches. The soft serve machine was definitely a hit. We ate breakfast at the Windjammer because it was fast. It was your usual breakfast food.
The Weather: It was cold out at sea. Period. I don't understand how people could enjoy themselves by the pool as it was so windy and probably 70 degrees, which I personally consider to be FREEZING. The port days were hot and humid, but not unbearable. I think the temperatures only got up to 95 degrees. Luckily for us it was sunny each port day.
The Ports: Cabo San Lucas: This place is a total tourist trap, and I didn't like it at all, considering that the majority of my state is a giant tourist trap. We took a boat (RCI) out to see the Arch which was nice, then hired a taxi to take us around the city. We stopped by the glass factory. No one was blowing glass and a lot of their wares were very dusty. Seeing how the locals live though was pretty cool. The houses are very pretty colors and I love seeing the painted signs on buildings since it is so different from home.
Mazatlan: We initially were going to do Salsa, Salsa, Margaritas, but last minute changed to horseback riding at Las Moras ranch. I thought this was awesome. We took a van with about 10 other people an hour out into the country to this gorgeous ranch with a beautiful chapel. Then half of us went riding for an hour while the other half hung by the pool and looked around. Then we swapped. We were in the first riding group so when we got back, lunch was ready and we ate it at the poolside bar. The ranch felt very exclusive and authentic. I loved it.
Puerto Vallarta: I had read so much about Outdoor Adventure that I knew we had to do it if nothing else. We got off the ship in the morning and took a zodiac across the bay for about 30 minutes. Then we took these large bulky vehicles up into the hills until we reached the place. We were given helmets and harnesses and then loaded up onto mules who then took us up further into the mountain (about 30 minutes). We then did multiple ziplines and two 100ft rappels down the sides of waterfalls. I had done ziplining before, but never when I had to use my own hand to brake. It was definitely different. I thought I was too scared to do the rappels but I forced myself to do it and enjoyed myself. You are not allowed to bring your own camera and they have a photographer. It's $29 each to get all of the pictures taken of you. They take cash or credit. I thought it was incredibly worth it.
Entertainment/Activities: We ice skated, rocked climbed, and used the gym during the day. I got a hot stone massage which was very relaxing. The woman tried to get me to buy some massage gel after for $113 and I told her I'd think about it and she didn't pressure me after that. The pool was pretty crowded most days, even the Solarium. I enjoyed the Dragon's Lair. The drinks had PLENTY of alcohol in them which totally made up for the price. We played Bingo and went karaoke. We saw several shows and game shows. I personally thought the RC Singers and Dancers could be missed, except for the Jazz Cabaret (but even then, it's the trumpet player from the band, Tom Young, who is the star of that event). We had a singing impressionist and a juggler who were both very good. Love and Marriage was hilarious. Quest was hilarious. Battle of the Sexes was hilarious. In fact, all of the game shows were very good. The ice show was good, but not AMAZING.. we had a few dancers fall (but I don't blame them, the rink is so small!).