We sailed the Mariner of the Seas on 10-10-10. I'd have to say our cruise was about as close to a perfect 10 as we could hope for with our family. Great fun, good weather, lots to do on and off the ship.
Embarking went fairly swiftly. We arrived about 1, found a porter, and checked in after waiting in a line for less than 10 minutes. After the obligatory SeaPass and boarding photos, they turned us loose on the ship. We explored our rooms and the upper decks with the sports and Adventure Ocean until dinnertime.
ROOMS: We had a D1 balcony on Deck 7 and our 4 kids (14, 11, 8, and 5) were across the hall in an inside cabin. We liked this arrangement and always felt safe with it. Four kids in an inside wasn't too crowded to sleep in but storage was an issue. We saw our steward frequently and while she wasn't gushing/friendly, she was efficient and kept them clean without disturbing us.
FOOD: The Windjammer was busy, especially the first lunch and the last morning. We ended up using a table in Portofino both of those crazy times -- it was impossible to find a table for 6. Other than that we never had much trouble finding a table. Service at dinner the first evening was a little slower than we preferred and took close to two hours, too long with younger children. We spoke with our waiter and every night after that we were done in about an hour and 15 minutes, which was perfect. DD11 ordered from both the kids and adult menu depending on what she liked. I loved some of the food and thought some was just OK, but it was still hard to eat everything when you aren't used to a four-course dinner regularly! After hearing some glowing reviews, I visited the Promenade Cafe but never really saw much I wanted there.
KIDS PROGRAM: Our kids loved the Adventure Ocean Program. They were each in a different age group, which I think was a good idea. DS14 made quite a few friends at the teen program. They had us sign all of the activity waivers at once so they could go ice skating, rock climbing, etc. together. He picked and chose what activities he wanted to do but I don't think many got canceled. There were more families than usual for this time of year on this cruise because it was a school break for AZ -- half the kids my kids met live within an hour of us! DD8 and DD11's groups had some activities in common but rarely did them at the same time. DS5 did coloring, games, crafts, videos, etc. The two youngest groups dressed up as pirates one night and "took over" the ship with chants and a treasure hunt. They also made occasional "field trips" to the frozen yogurt machine by the pool, another favorite of my kids. I felt the leaders in AO did a great job entertaining the kids. I also saw a lot of safety -- checking our SeaPasses, taking the sign-in book around the ship, doing regular headcounts when they were outside of the AO room.
ACTIVITIES/SPORTS: We did it all! My kids learned to ice skate and inline skate, neither of which the younger ones had tried. The Learn to Ice Skate lesson on day 6 was very helpful -- sign up on day 2. They climbed the rock wall, played miniature golf, basketball, etc. The inline skating times seemed the most limited of the sports deck activities. The pool area was warmest on port days and on days 2 and 6. I was glad I brought the kids' goggles for the saltwater pools -- my kids are fish!
SHOWS: We like music and enjoyed both of the standard production shows, including the new Center Stage (more singing and musicians, less dancing). The ice show was incredible. We sat on the port side and they used DD8 and DS5 in the circus train.
We chose to carry our own luggage off at the end and it was almost no time from the when we got an elevator off our floor until we emerged on the sidewalk.