Our trip began from Northern Virginia with a 5 ½ hour flight to LAX.
Once we touched down we found a shuttle to the San Pedro Crown Plaza Hotel via a red shuttle which I recommend avoiding and using the Super Shuttle (blue). The red shuttle had very darkened windows and it appeared to be nighttime and you could not see outside at all and their 7 minute wait was actually 20 minutes circling around and around the airport for more passengers.
The Crown Plaza was lovely. We requested a room on a higher floor facing the water and we were not disappointed. At 5:00AM the next morning we could see the Mariner of the Seas arriving. We had dinner at the Green Onion and it was wonderful which had been a recommendation by other Cruise Critics. We had breakfast at the Crown Plaza after failing to find other places open and it was fine.
I understand that normally the ship starts embarking about 11:00 but for some reason it was delayed until about 11:30 so there was a bit of a wait. We were booked into a Grand Suite so we did have priority embarking. We were on the ship in about 30 minutes.
The ship was beautiful, clean and sparkling. Our Grand Suite was just as beautiful. The highlight was the bathroom, all marble, spacious, great lighting and storage and more like a luxury hotel. The closets and drawer space was more than ample. We had been in a Junior Suite in the past and this far exceeded. Our attendant was Carl and he was just great.
Some great perks with the Grand Suite is the concierge lounge with Alan who could not be more helpful. You are also able to take your food from the Windjammer into the restaurant Chops. This is really nice as the seating in the Windjammer was always very full whenever we were there. Chops personnel that served us were wonderful. You can also order anything off of the Main dining room menu to be served in your cabin if you have a grand suite.
The food. We last cruised with RCCI last October on the Grandeur of the Seas out of Baltimore and the food was terrible, bland and tasteless. I have come to think that the food is geared toward the main age group and that cruise was a mainly elderly based group. The food on this cruise was much much better. We mainly ate room service breakfast on our balcony or from the Windjammer (and took into Chopps); the food was good with the exception that we tried to order Eggs Benedict twice and could not get it with a slice of Canadian bacon on it. One day we had lunch in the dining room and ordered the salads that they prepare for you with your choice of ingredients. The person who prepared my salad was impatient and almost a little rude. We did not go back. The lunch food from the Windjammer was ok. Dinners in the dining room were actually good most nights. The meat was always good and cooked to perfection with the exception of the New York strip that did not seem like a very good cut. I would say that the dinners were good 5 out of 7 nights. On the final night nothing really seemed very appealing and we tried many things and nothing really tasted very good.
Excursions. In September, Mexico is very hot. Be prepared.
We booked an excursion with Mazatlan Frank who was very helpful and professional. We were booked at the RUI hotel for 5 hours and it was all inclusive. I have to add that the buffet food was not great. It was extremely hot and the pool water was really only warm and not much relief. I think I would use Mazatlan Frank again but skip the RUI Hotel and opt for one of his other (non-inclusive) options.
Cabo San Lucas (just as hot) was our favorite stop. We had nothing planned and ended up going around the water front in water taxis and small glass bottom boats around all the beautiful rocks formations and doing some bar hopping.
Puerto Vallarta. Be careful with taxis. They tell you they will take you to a tequila factory and I do not know what it actually was, maybe they should have called it a tequila tasting station. We were then taken "shopping" and driven to a street side area with vendors which I do think I got some great deals on jewelry but spent more than I planned. Then next it was to Chico's Paradise for lunch where we asked the driver if we could pay by credit card and were told we could. The food was great but we really did not know how much it was costing us and it turned out to be over $100.00 for the 2 of us. The food was not really priced and we should have asked before hand. When we were brought the tab we found out we could not charge it to our credit card. After spending money on the jewelry and this costly lunch we were down to about $70.00 cash and we owed the taxi $100.00 ($25.00 per hr). The remaining time with the taxi driver was very uncomfortable trying to get additional money from ATM's and Wall mart. We also noticed that our driver got "cash kickbacks' from the shopping stop and from the tequila tasting place as well as bragging about the free lunch from Chico's. This is my 4th cruise in 3 years and I have not really mastered the excursions yet.
In closing I would say that the cruise was Great and I loved every minute of it with the exception of a few port stop misadventures which is only my own fault. I would definitely do this cruise again and highly recommend it.