My boyfriend and I went to the Mariner of the Seas in August 2010. We had wanted to go on a cruise - any cruise - and were told that Royal Caribbean was the one to go on. We had an amazing time and met some awesome people that we keep in contact with! We're planning another one as soon as we have the chance to go - probably with Royal Caribbean again.
We had family in the area that dropped us off at the port and we went go to stand in line although it was only 10:30-11ish. There was a line already forming and we could see people already boarding the boat so we jumped in line. The check-in was smooth (I had a labeled and prepared folder with passports, IDs, credit cards, etc. - I over plan) and we were on the boat about 30 minutes after being dropped off. We were told that staterooms wont be open until 1ish (as I recall) but we were free to roam the ship or eat at the Lido restaurant. We walked around looking at everything, occasionally getting lost, and eventually found our way to the pool. There were other passengers already hanging out in the hot tub and we decided to join them and made great friends before we even left!
We booked the promenade stateroom and loved every minute of it! We opened the door and laughed because of the tiny little space to get to the room - the boyfriend had to slowly pull my over-packed suitcases one by one to get them all in! The bed was very comfortable and the bathroom/closet door/main door caused some hilarious problems being that only one can be open because of the tight space. Not a serious problem at all but it was funny when we got stuck! We (I) had a lot of stuff but we're from Hawaii so the storage issues were easily tackled. The only advice is to make sure the curtain are shut to the window, otherwise people can see in like you're in a fishbowl. But there's a little bench next to the window that we people watched and watched parades down below.
Our stateroom guy was so sweet and everytime we left and went back into the room, he had made the bed and always had a little towel design for us.
We ate at the Lido deck when we first arrived but was so excited that I can't even recall what I had. For the breakfasts though, there are a ton of food to choose from and we were full every time we left. The dinners in the dinning room were amazing and delicious and there were so many varieties! We were in the Sound of Music dinning room (deck 5 I think) and had the most amazing waiter - Francis. From Day 1 I was referred to as "princess" and he always had a joke or story to tell us. We were routinely brought more than one appetizer, entree, and dessert much to my boyfriends enjoyment. We were never rushed out of the dinning room and were always found a table immediately even if it was already 9pm.
The last formal night was lobster night (YAY!) and Francis brought me five lobsters - I ate them all.
We ate at Portofino one night and it was amazing too! It was an at sea day and there was lightning that we could see from our booth. My boyfriend had a steak and a mushroom thing and I had the fillet Mignon that the chef very nicely butterflied and cooked well done for me.
We went to Johnny Rockets for lunch one day and for $5, it was worth it. We had burgers and fries and sodas and watched dolphins jumping near the boat.
The cafe was simple but had great food - especially at 3am! We frequently showed up there after a night of dancing or having fun at the casino to eat the delicious pizza and sandwiches.
The piano bar had a hilarious bartender that was always our stop after dinner. He made us delicious drinks and had great magic tricks that we spent figuring out for days!
The dragon's lair club was way fun and always busy. We went there 2 times and danced until early in the morning.
The casino was fine - I'm not a gambling type person but I had fun with the nickel slots and the boyfriend played roulette. The smoke made it kind of stuffy but its a casino.
The general store does not carry general items in my opinion. There is enough denture gel and sea-sickness cures for everyone on the ship x2 but I had a hard time finding hair gel, lotion, and a comb. Definitely don't forget that stuff! The other stores were fun to look in - We didn't need anything but fun to spend a few minutes in.
There were so many things to do on the ship! We woke up early every day and stayed up late every night and had to take naps to keep up - and we're 21! We didn't want to miss anything!
We went to the Bingo game the second night because I was getting seasick and couldn't be in the room anymore. The bartenders brought me soda mixed with vodka (I guess buzzed/drunkenness is what cures sea sickness) but they were so nice and gave me tips and made sure I was okay. Also, be the volunteer - you get this delicious looking drink!
One night there was a pool party that was a ton of fun. We danced all night and swam in the pool and of course, spent time in the hot tub.
At the pool during the sea days there were competitions all the time. My boyfriend and others participated in the belly-flop competition and he was the crowd favorite! For the rest of the cruise, other passengers were congratulating him on his belly-flop. I couldn't be more proud.
The last night we went to the movie theater and watched a movie. It was small but a good place to relax before starting the night!
Our first port was Cabo San Lucas. The ship is moored in the "bay" but the boats going to the dock came and went all the time. We walked around the port for a while and decided to go to lovers beach. It was amazing! The tour guide took us on a tour and dropped us off at the beach ($20 round trip for both of us) promising to be back in 2 1/2 hours on the dot - and he was. In the August sun and only bringing a bottle of water to share (despite my better judgement) it was way fun but 2 1/2 hours was too long! There was an almost drowning and my Coast Guard boyfriend saved the kid but otherwise it was very peaceful and cool to walk from one ocean to another. We were so tired when we got back, we just went back to the ship and relaxed.
The second port was Mazatlan. We booked a tour here to hike to the lighthouse and loved it! It was 90 degrees outside and 88% humidity but it was beautiful. After, we took a little boat to the beach, got a Pacifico (freshest you can get!) and had a nice time together. We went back to the boat and ate at the port restaurant - best nachos I have EVER had!
The last stop was Puerto Vallarta. The boyfriend had been here numerous times before and it was beautiful but it wasn't my favorite. We took a deathly fun ride to town by a crazy driver, went to senior frogs and had a drink, ate at a a little restaurant above a shop, and walked along the beach. It was fun but after being in the sun for three days, I was starting to fade so maybe that's why it wasn't my favorite. We went back to the boat and got searched (my water bottle got taken and "searched" to make sure it wasn't vodka - please, like I was downing vodka in line!) but it was smooth and quick to get back on the boat.
Don't forget to bring water, your ID/cabin card (cant get on without one!), and extra cash for tips in singles. Everyone wanted a tip for something - I don't know if its my American thinking but you don't get a tip for trying to carry me off a boat after I already jumped down. But I think that's just how it is so be prepared.
We prepaid our tips (good idea!) and put them in the little envelopes the night before. We put extra cash in them though because everyone was so sweet and nice to us, plus they work very hard during the cruise.
The departing was also very simple although there was some serious crowds at the theater waiting to have their baggage color called but it went very smoothly. We departed the boat, found our luggage, and hung out waiting for our ride.
Overall, we had an amazing time and there was something to do every minute if you wanted there to be! We got amazing pictures but unfortunately lost our camera on the drive up and are still very upset but the memories were amazing.