The Mariner of the Seas was great in all aspects. The was the second time for my wife and me on a Voyager-class ship. However, it was the first time for my kids: 6-year-old boy and 8-year-old girl. We decided on the Mariner out of Galveston for a family spring break cruise. And we all loved it!
The Mariner of the Seas is in great shape. The crew was constantly keeping it clean. They were painting the varnish on the wood railings throughout the week. While it was getting prepared for a drydock in April, it looked perfect to us.
We enjoyed the Main Dining Room food on all nights. My kids loved ordering from the adult menu, and most nights, we had 2-3 appetizers because the variety was great. We really enjoyed the cold soups. The lamb shank was one of the best I have had. Our only complaint was the 5:30 main seating: we would have liked to have a 6 p.m. main seating since there is so much to do. Next time, we might try my time dining about 6:45. The Windjammer was open whenever we needed it, and it always had a great variety. The kids loved room service breakfast on the balcony! We did not eat in the specialty restaurants since the MDR was always great!
Our cabin steward and dining room waiters were excellent. They remembered our names, and they always greeted us frequently.
For a family with young kids, I felt the shows were limited. I would have expected more kid-friendly shows on a Spring Break cruise. We only attended a couple of the shows, and some of the jokes were not kid-friendly. However: the Ice Show was AWESOME. It was definitely worth attending.
Adventure Ocean was great. The staff was very engaging, and they had great activities. They meet us immediately upon boarding the ship and were always enthusiastic. The crafts were not of a high quality. The kids definitely enjoyed going and wanted to always stay longer.
PORT OF GALVESTON:
The port and/or RCI need to address some issues here. While there were large crowds due to Spring Break, there are a couple of problems:
1) Entry Into Port: all traffic is directed down Harborside drive and into ONE gate. At this one gate, all the Carnival and Royal traffic is funneled into one lane for about 100 feet. When we arrived, a car had blocked Terminal 1's lane and the backup blocked Terminal 2 as well. They simply need better traffic flow. TIP: avoid harborside completely and go through the "Strand" area to enter the port directly around 22nd street.
2) Check-In: We were in the Gold line, but the normal cruiser line moved faster! The line agents needed to monitor all the various check-in lines better.
3) Disembarkation: 3 hours from lining up on ship to driving. That is unacceptable! We were "assigned" a time to get off between 8:30-9. I wished we had stayed on until 12 p.m. and enjoyed a long breakfast. Instead, we spent 2 hours in line getting to our luggage and then another 1 hour to get through customs and to our car.
We would definitely RECOMMEND the Mariner of the Seas for any future cruises. I hope Galveston/RCI can fix some of the port issues because I like Texas-based cruising.