Pre-cruise: We stayed at the Crown Plaza in San Pedro. It was a very beautiful hotel, with a perfect location to several places to eat. I had won the Crown at a very good price on priceline and I was very happy with the hotel.
We had breakfast there in the morning and we already met a couple that knew me from the roll call and I would see them a lot around the ship during the week. It's people like this who make a cruise memorable
We took the hotel's shuttle to the pier, which was a short drive and immediately I was amazed when I saw the Mariner from a distance. What a beautiful and big ship. Yes, she was bigger than the Radiance and I was in awe.
Check-in: We dropped our luggage off with the porters. Even though we didn't have luggage tags, it was very easy to get them from the porters. We went to check-in and before we knew it, we had our seapass and were waiting to board the ship. The wait wasn't all that long and before we knew it we were on the ship. I think the whole process must have taken 45 minutes or so.
The ship: Since we weren't hungry (mom wasn't, I'm always hungry) yet, mom laid down in a lounger and I started wandering around the ship and taking tons of pictures. The promenade is really amazing as is the decoration of the Mariner. She truly is a beautiful ship, with lots of places to relax. After an hour or so, we were getting hungry so we went to the Windjammer, and luckily it wasn't too crowded.
Dining: We always ate at the Windjammer, since this was Mexico and I only brought shorts and comfortable clothes. Even if you don't go to the dining room, we found out that if you always sit at the same table at night, you always have the same waiter. I must mention Mary, who served our table at night, and Thadeus, the ice cream man. They were totally amazing and we received great service from both of them. And the food was really delicious. I know some people complain about the quality of the food, but to me, the food was perfect, especially some of the soups: colliflower soup, cream of aspargus and pumpkin soup. I'm hungry thinking about it.
Our cabin: We were in a promenade cabin, 8583. Those cabins are a great value for your money, but there are some buts. The space near the end of the bed is very narrow, so you have to be careful not to bump into things. I love watching TV, but somehow those old tvs don't do it for me anymore. A flat screen would have been nice. Cabins have plenty of storage space. We put our bags under our bed to get them out of the way. Bathroom was perfect with enough storage space for all our stuff and a great shows, with sliding doors. Now that was great. Curtland was our cabin steward throughout our entire cruise and he was just perfect. Cabin was left spotless each night and we loved the towel animals we got. Great service.
Entertainment and activities: I participated in the daily quiz for a week and it was a lot of fun. Thanks to the experienced cruisers I teamed up with, we won a wonderful hat. A hat? Yes, a hat, for an entire week of hard quizzing. But I gotta be honest, it was not my doing. I didn't know very much, but I found out my team mates know quite a few things. Thanks for letting me on your team.
Entertainment wasn't as good as the year before, quite boring at times. The ice show was amazing though. It's unbelievable that those skaters are able to skate like that on a moving ship. Best show in the theatre for the entire two weeks was the Italian family who used to do show in Vegas. They were amazing, but I can't remember there name.
I'm not picky, but for one show I walked out of the theatre cause it was so boring.
Ports: Mexico is amazing and I loved all the ports.
Weather: Hot and humid, sunshine and thunderstorms. When we left Puerto Vallarta the second week we had a beautiful thunderstorm, who was so much fun to watch from the ship while we left. First week we had a downpour... I have never seen so much rain in my life. Decks got flooded and we had to stay inside. Too bad, cause the water was very nice to walk in.
First day out of LA and last day back to LA wasn't pool weather, as it was pretty breezy and cold on deck.
The sea was very smooth for the entire two weeks, except for the last night when heading back to LA. We had pretty heavy winds and we could really feel the ship moving.
Favorite Excursion: Trainer for a day in Puerto Vallarta. I had booked it through the cruise line and it wasn't cheap, but it was so worth it. Since I was the only one doing it, I was put in a taxi and driven to the Dolphin Center. I spend a lot of time in the water with the dolphins: Kisses, hugs, belly ride, fin ride, another belly ride... I had dolphin activities before and after lunch. It also included a swim with the sea lions, which turned out the best moment of the day. There was also a little seal of 3 months old in the pool that we were allowed to pet. We posed for photos with the sea lion: Smiles, tongues stuck out and a kiss. That's where my moment happened. The sea lion started to give me a kiss and even after the trainer blew his whistle, he didn't want to let me go. Afterwards the trainer who spent the entire day with me, told me he had never done that before. I guess he liked me.
I was driven back to the ship by taxi after an amazing day with a souvenir DVD, all the pictures that were made throughout the day, the souvenir hat and t-shirt and a huge sunburn. I guess I should have worn a t-shirt in the water, as they discourage the use of sunblock, cause it's unhealthy for the animals
Check-in on the back to back: It was very bad. I had hoped to have the ship to myself for a while, and that should have been the case, but when we were waiting at the pier to be able to board the ship again, we heard the ship hadn't been cleared yet, because an idiot hadn't checked in with customs yet. I still remember his name, but I don't think he'll be on an RCI ship in the future, cause I heard he got into big trouble. Serves him right.
We had a wonderful two weeks on an amazing ship. Staff and crew was truly amazing, everything exceeded my expectations. I loved the ports of call: Mazatlan, Cabo San Lucas and Puerto Vallarta. If that cruise is offered on RCI in the future again, I think I might do it again.
I met some amazing cruise critic members on this cruise, and in the end it are the people that make your cruise one to remember