My wife and I just got back from a 7 nighter aboard Mariner. I will go as quick as possible through everything:
Embarkation: We went touring around LA the day of Embarkation, so we arrived to the ship 2 hours before sailing and flew through in less than 5 mins.
Stateroom: We had a Jr. Suite on deck 10, and we were very surprised at the size. We've been in Jr. Suites on other RCI ships and this one was by far the biggest. The Interior decorations looked original, but in good shape and I could really care less if the carpet isn't modern looking. The wife loved the huge walk-in closet. The bathroom was fine, but the shower curtain was a bit clingy. The balcony was a good size (2 chairs, lounger and a table) The table wobbled, but nothing that a few folded pieces of paper didn't fix.
Dining Room: Our first night, we were on the deck 5 dining room with some "elderly" couples who we had nothing in common (we are 35 & 40), so the next morning I went to see Kal/Cal the dining room manager to be re-located. He said he would "try" and send a message to our suite later in the day. Later in the day, a note was delivered with our new table assignment. We were pleasantly surprised that it was right beside the Captain's table and we absolutely loved our table mates. We had an absolute blast with all of them and we were by far the loudest, most rowdiest table in the place (sorry if any one didn't like the multi-coloured boas and fake moustache's on the last night!!) We closed the dining room every night and made some really good friends.
Food: The food was definitely the low point of this cruise. We have been on RCI twice before and Carnival once. On all of our previous cruises, the food was good to excellent. On this cruise, I would rate the food as poor with the occasional glimpse of excellence (I am NOT a picky eater either) The Windjammer food was the EXACT same from day 1 through 7 and was standard buffet fare...edible but not special. In the dining room, I NEVER order the pasta, as the other selections are usually better sounding. I order the pasta twice, as I didn't like any of the other selections and my normal stand-by (steak) looked and felt like a wet slipper. The prime rib and lobster was awesome and some of the appetizers were tasty. Deserts were also a disappointment. Johnny Rockets had great fries and rings, but the burgers were a bit greasy. Didn't want to miss any of the action at our table, so we cancelled our reservations at Chops. (Plus we heard the food up there wasn't great either) Overall, the food on this cruise was not great and it gives me the sense that RCI is trying to save money on this money-losing itinerary.
Ship: Great. Best ship so far. Suite was great, Dining room and Windjammer were nicely designed, the Promenade was fun, good theatre and great pool deck. The casino treated me well, but there wasn't a lot of room behind the tables on the port side. Overall, this was the best ship from a layout, design and amenity point of view.
Service: Everyone except our stateroom attendant was fantastic. Some drink servers too a while, but I figure they were just saving me some money. We really only saw our stateroom attendant on the first day, which was fine, but we are used to seeing them 3-4 times per day. And she wasn't very friendly or outgoing. However, she did print up a banner wishing my wife a happy birthday on the request of our friends. Oh yeah, and the Windjammer service in the morning wasn't great either... we didn't get served at all on one morning.
Ports: Cabo and Mazatlan were SO HOT that we only got off the ship for 1 hour. Puerto Vallarta: Paid $100 to go to Las Calletas (sp?)and it was bad...The boat to take you there was 45 min late and when we got off the boat, were told that we needed to eat in the next half hour or we'd miss out (PV is 2 hours ahead of ship time) and we had just finished breakfast. Everything was on a tight schedule, so if you didn't go snorkeling right at 1pm, then you couldn't go. There were no chairs to lay down on and the bar areas were way too small when the rain started. Not worth the $100 price.
Disembarkation: smooth as silk. Go online an book Super Shuttle back to LAX, it is way cheaper ($34 for 2) than anything else we found.