This cruise was a Christmas gift from my husband's parents. Quite honestly, neither of us had ever considered going on a cruise, as we are not high rollers, Yuppies, retirees, or any of the other groups that we had perceived as being cruisers. I read volumes of reviews on this particular ship, The Mariner of the Seas, prior to leaving. Some of the reviews made me a little nervous, and not sure about what to expect.
We had not had a vacation in a couple of years, so this was a welcome relief.
My concerns regarding the food, the service, the ship, and the locations that we visited turned out to be completely unfounded.
We left from Galveston after spending the night at the Harbor House Motel...an old warehouse converted into a delightful inn. Large comfortable room with lots of thoughtful extras. Will definitely stay here again!
Boarding the ship was easier than expected, in spite of the chaos of the driveway at the cruise terminal. People dropping off their luggage, and people debarking the ship, and drivers who could not/did not follow the traffic cops' instructions.
Once we were on board, we found our luggage outside our door waiting for us. Our balcony room was very clean, a good size for us, and nicely appointed.
We soon had our first meal in the Top Hat and Tails dining room. I am from a small town, and seldom eat out, so this was a real treat for us. Our servers, Robert and Jason, treated us with great respect, and helped us feel less like country bumpkins, and more like royalty.
After a couple of days, we discovered that we could eat breakfast in the main dining room, which was much better than the Windjammer, which was busy, and full of people every time that we ate there. We never made it to the main dining room for lunch, but definitely will do so next time.
There were activities for everyone, and much more than we were able to do. The cruise directors are enthusiastic and hilarious!!!
We enjoyed the time in Cozumel, Grand Cayman and Falmouth. A great experience for someone like me, who had never left the USA. Next time, we will definitely plan ahead better and do more planned excursions!
There was a wide variety of places to spend the evening, and we loved the Platters show!! Lots of different night clubs-something for everyone.
Seven nights was just about right, maybe a little long for us.
Conclusions: Don't let negative reviews influence you. If you experience any problems or concerns on the ship, just ask someone. Our stateroom attendant, Harold and our dining room guys were so eager to please, and were great resources for us. Perhaps the people who write more critical reviews are accustomed to being waited on, and have more refined tastes than we do. We were overwhelmed by the kindness of the crew, and impressed by the focus on safety. I greatly feared the Noro Virus, and was pleased to see frequent cleaning of public areas, and lots of hand sanitizer.
Be sure to visit the very front of the ship accessible from the 4th deck. You can feel just like "King of the World" out there and take some great pictures! Explore the ship and enjoy every minute.
Next time we will also bring less "stuff" and utilize their laundry service. And bring an extra bag for our purchases. We will also take our own bags off the ship on the final morning, and reduce our wait to leave.
I keep saying "next time" because we can't wait to sail on the Mariner again!!!