This was my third time on the Mariner OTS and I will probably not go back.
We stayed the night before at the Crowne Plaza in San Pedro. We chose that because of the proximity to the ship. Beautiful hotel room, but the area had a little to be desired. They have a shuttle to the pier and we got to sleep in expecting to arrive on board around 1pm so we could go right to the cabin, but that did not happen.
Upon arrival at the pier we were greeted to a very long line that wrapped around in a lot of different directions. There were no ropes or lines to tell you where to go and not a lot of RCCL people to make sure the line was being directed correctly. We saw a lot of people just cutting in line. It took us around 45 minutes to get through security and to the desk.
Check-in was flawless and smooth. We proceeded to the gangway and another line. There were some problems with the security check in on board and it created another line. We finally were through and on board around 1:15 and wanted to go straight to the cabin.
Onward to deck 8 and the doors are shut. No information. Its after 1pm and the sign on the doors say cabins will be available at 1pm. HMMMMM. We go up to the Windjammer and its an absolute zoo. No seating, lots of people. This is what happens when the cabins aren't ready at 1. We ask the staff if Johnny Rockets is open and they say no so we go in. Finally get a plate and start the search for a place to sit with no luck, so we try for the open bench just outside the door and are stopped and told that no food is supposed to leave the Windjammer. Surprising since every other RCCL ship I have been on, including the previous times on the Mariner, allowed food to leave. When my wife explained that there were no seats, the person said "not my problem you can't take the food out." We left the food on the table with the ice sculpture and walked out. We went to the upper deck and Johnny Rockets was open. If they would have told us that in the first place, we wouldn't have even walked into the windjammer. Johnny Rockets is always worth the trip.
We finally got to the cabin and it was very nice as always. Our cabin steward was right there when we arrived and promptly filled our request for extra pillows. She was always very attentive to us, even on the days where we didn't leave the cabin until after lunch.
Our luggage arrived before dinner and we were able to change and we went to the dining room for our early seating. Our dining room waiter was tops. He was funny and always on top of things that needed to be done. Our assistant waiter left some to be desired and we made sure our comment card reflected that. The food during the week was good. Lots of fish choices, more than I can remember.
As for the ports of call, we chose this itinerary because it was something different for us. Im glad we did it but, I am also glad RCCL is discontinuing this itinerary.
Cabo San Lucas was nice to sail into. The harbor is beautiful. Lots of great scenery. We tendered to the dock with no problems, a nice smooth ride with little wait for the tenders. When you get to the pier be ready for the constant calls for taxis, tours, souvenirs, and anything else under the sun. It was like running a gauntlet. We walked around town a little and went to the Cabo Wabo cantina and some shops. Very nice people in the shops, but when we were done we had to run the gauntlet again. Tender service back was smooth as well.
Mazatlan was a pit. We docked at a cargo terminal and had to take a tram to the entrance once off the ship. Through a mini gauntlet we got in one of the recommended taxis for a ride to the "golden zone", about 3 miles from the ship and the only place the ship recommends you go for "safety reasons" as per the port shopping guide. Halfway through the ride I asked the driver how much longer it was and he said "oh you want the golden zone", a few minutes later we were there. Ship stated the price was $10 one way but he said it was $20, because he took us to 2 spots. I gave him $10 and said no way. There was little to nothing golden about the "golden zone" I think we stayed there about an hour walking and back to the ship.
Puerto Viarta. No too much to say about this port. We didn't really explore. Again a gauntlet of vendors to get anywhere. We just went just outside the port to get some postcards and small trinkets.
As for other on board experiences, the activities seemed to be cut back. There seemed to be a little less. I loved to play bingo on board but they changed the game. If you just wanted the cards it was around $42 or for over $50 you got a machine that told you you would win. You didn't have to even pay attention to the numbers. The problem was that most, if not all of the winners had purchased the machine.
The most fun was the activity called "The Quest" I haven't laughed that hard in a long time. It was a total blast. This is an adult only activity that I have been to many times, but this was by far the best one. The guest entertainers were good, and the late night comedy was great. The production shows are typical cruise line shows. The promenade parades were great. For some reason I thought there were 3, but there were 2 on this one.
Only one other issue during portrait night. We were waiting in line for the portraits to be done and when we finally arrive at the front of the line the photographer put up a sign and said she was going on break. Someone who seemed to be a supervisor said something to her in a non-English language and she just looked at him and walked away. Again something we noted on the comment card.
Overall it was a nice cruise. Nice and relaxing. I just seemed to me that they are cutting back on the activities and perks for the Crown and Anchor members. Our on board booklet was a lot different, less coupons. No art auction, we always enjoyed that. I love RCCL, but I think they are concentrating on the larger ships. My last cruise was on the Independence and they activities and perks were more plentiful. It could have been my imagination, but some of the crew were just going through the motions, maybe it was the same itinerary every week for them.