Seven Seas Mariner Entertainment
Unlike many cruise lines, where days between ports are chock full of overlapping -- and sometimes conflicting -- activities, daytime events are lightly scheduled, even on sea days. Early activities include computer classes, enrichment lectures by outside specialists and bridge lectures by onboard experts, as well as daily art auctions and film screenings in Constellation Theater, Seven Seas Mariner's main show lounge.
Teatime in the Horizon Lounge is a hugely popular afternoon diversion, brightened by expansive views from the picture windows aft and to either side and punctuated by the daily cluster of activities (including bingo and trivia quizzes, neither of which ever take place in the morning or early afternoon hours). We initially found this bottom- and top-heavy arrangement of typical onboard pastimes to be curious, especially on sea days, but once adjusted to it, we came to appreciate its low-key, non-frenetic pacing.
A small casino offers craps, roulette, slots, table poker and a small number of blackjack tables. The casino's hours are surprisingly limited, with tables open for only about four hours during the day, even on sea days. Tables reopen at 9 p.m. for evening play. It was generally not crowded.
On our sailing, musical entertainers included a harpist, a pianist and a vocal duo, which rotated through the various lounges at various times of day. The show lounge orchestra also contributed to the live music experience.
Constellation Theater, the main show lounge, is one of the best designed we've seen. On two levels, but with the balcony pushed far enough back to reduce the number of obscuring columns, it has nearly perfect sightlines; there are few, if any, bad seats. A combination of banquettes and comfortable chairs are arranged in a manner that allows ample room for audience members to easily navigate to their seats and to stretch their legs once seated. Nightly entertainment is comprised of three production shows, alternating with the usual comics, singers, instrumentalists and movie nights.
The shore excursion department gets high praise. There is very little hype or pressure to purchase the line's offerings. There is also plenty of support for independent-minded passengers to find their own way, including well-rendered maps, suggestion lists and video presentations on in-suite television. Shore excursion personnel are knowledgeable and helpful, and most excursions include one crewmember to monitor and assist.
Seven Seas Mariner Public Rooms
The location of Mariner's public rooms mirrors its classic attributes and casual elegance. While some contemporary ships have ramped up the numbers and winnowed down the sizes of their lounges, Mariner's lounges return to the basics: a main show lounge; a secondary activities and entertainment room; a top-deck, panoramic observation lounge; a disco/nightclub; and a "rendezvous" lounge, next to the main dining room, for pre-dinner drinks, hors d'oeuvres and conversation.
One of our favorite areas on the ship is the Coffee Connection coffee bar; it's adjacent to the airy and well-stocked library, which includes videos and board games, as well as books. One nice touch (though you would expect this of a luxury ship) is that nothing is locked away in the library, so it is possible to have access to any of its materials, night and day, without needing crewmember assistance. Here, you'll also find a 24-hour, self-serve coffee/espresso/cappuccino machine, which comes in handy when the coffee bar isn't manned. Also offered are trays of mini-pastries at breakfast time, finger sandwiches in the late morning and cookies at all hours. In keeping with Seven Seas Mariner's inclusive policy, Coffee Connection beverages and treats are available at no extra charge.
The Internet cafe is also located there. Internet access, offered from stem to stern, costs between 25 and 55 cents per minute, depending on the plan you purchase. Service is, of course, slower than you'd find on land, but it worked well enough on our recent trip. Make sure you log off when you're done, or you will eat up your minutes, even if you close your browser or turn off your computer. There is also roaming access for mobile phones.
Adjacent is the Garden Promenade, along whose windows passengers can gather for games, reading or -- an idea that charmed us -- participation in communal jigsaw puzzles. (The cruise staff puts out an unassembled puzzle, and passersby usually yield to the temptation to "just put in one piece." As soon as the puzzle is completed, it disappears, and a new one takes its place.)
Seven Seas Mariner Spa & Fitness
Seven Seas Mariner's fitness center and spa are located on Deck 7. The spa, operated by Carita of Paris, includes a salon that offers full-service hair, manicure, pedicure and waxing services. The adjacent spa offers a sauna and steam bath, facials (from $60 to $185) and a range of body treatments and massages, including reflexology, Shiatsu and Swedish massages and aromatherapy (from $60 to $195). In-suite massages can also be booked ($120 for 50 minutes). While the spa is smaller and not quite as luxurious or private as those on some other lines, we appreciated the variety of treatments and also the fact that, quite counter to spas operated on other lines' luxury ships, there's no odious sales pitch at the end.
The nearby fitness facility, open from 6 a.m. until 7 p.m., has an adequate number of machines, although it feels cramped, dark and crowded -- particularly during early-morning workouts, when lines are not uncommon. Complimentary headsets and water bottles are provided, and mini-televisions are available on the treadmills and cross-trainers.
There are a number of organized physical activities and classes taught on the top deck (Deck 12) or in the fitness center's aerobics room, available to passengers at no additional charge. Deck 12 is also home to the ship's jogging track (eight circuits to the mile), though it is not marked clearly as such. At the aft end of Deck 12 are a paddle tennis court and golf driving cages. The pool area has a main pool and three whirlpools. More-than-adequate seating can be found there and in the additional sunning area on Deck 12.