Mariner of the Seas continues the Voyager-class tradition by offering a decent number of reasonably priced balcony cabins (775 of 1,557 fall into this category). Otherwise, there are four other cabins categories -- suites, outsides, insides and the unusual atrium-view (looking onto the Royal Promenade). (Editor's Note: One difference between Mariner [and 2002's Navigator] and its Voyager-class siblings is that balconies are positioned outside the vessel's superstructure, rather than inside, as they were with the first three in the family. The difference? Balconies are less cavelike and more light-filled, and cabins are three feet wider and airier, as well.)
Standard inside, oceanview and balcony cabins are decorated in light, primary colors and feature light woods. Standard balcony cabins range in size from 184- to 199-square feet (with 50- to 65-sq. ft. balcony), while oceanview cabins range from 160-square feet for a standard to 293-square feet for a family-sized room. All cabins come with convertible, twins-to-queen beds; and flat-screen televisions, offering interactive services like room service ordering (though we found it easier just to pick up the phone), pay-per-view flicks and numerous channels. (RCTV does an outstanding job, featuring everything from news and sports channels to a Promenade-cam, which shows the action inside the ship, and the "Retro TV" channel, which features classic sitcoms). Other features include desk/vanity areas and seating areas with loveseats or full-length couches (some fold out). Cabins with balconies are each equipped with two basic chairs and a small table. The balconies have glass panels.
Windowless inside cabins and atrium-view promenade cabins differ by just 10-square feet, with the standard inside coming in at 150-square feet and the promenade cabin at 160-square feet.
Cabins have mini-fridges that are minimally stocked with soft drinks and juices; the charge for mini-fridge items is the same as in the bars. We found there was plenty of room to stash our own sodas and such (or you ask the room steward to remove the contents).
Bathrooms are basic and only suites have tubs. The showers, however, have those wonderful, half-round sliding doors, a fabulous improvement over icky, clingy shower curtains. Soap and shampoo are provided (suites get mini-bottles of Royal Caribbean's Vitality shampoo, conditioner and lotion). Hair dryers are located in the vanities, rather than in the bathrooms.
Mariner of the Seas offers 26 accessible cabins in a variety of categories and sizes (from 256-square feet to 276-square feet). Features include wider doors, closet racks that can be pulled down to lower heights and accessible showers and toilets. These cabins are set aside for cruise travelers who can prove they need the accessible amenities; the cabins only enter the regular inventory close to the sail date, if they haven't sold out by then.
Suites come in a variety of configurations. The 1,325-square-foot Royal Suite is the ship's prime suite, featuring an elaborately furnished living room -- wet bar, dining table, entertainment center and even a piano -- and a separate bedroom with king bed and its own balcony. The bathroom is spacious and ultra-luxe and includes a whirlpool tub, separate shower and bidet. The suite's 248-square-foot balcony is furnished with wicker lounge chairs and a dining table.
The 583-square-foot Owner's Suites are also quite luxurious, with queen beds and living and dining area. However, these suites are more open, with the sleeping areas separated from the rest of the living quarters by large, rotating, flat-screen TV's (rather than actual walls). The balconies (157-square feet), are big enough for a lounge chair.
The 390-square-foot Grand Oceanview Suite offers a bedroom, sitting area, bar area and bathroom with tub, in addition to an 89-square-foot balcony. The 299-square-foot Junior Suite is basically an expanded version of a standard verandah stateroom, featuring a sitting area with chair and couch, a walk-in closet and a bathroom with a tub.
The 512-square-foot Royal Family Suite, which can sleep up to eight people, has two bedrooms (a master bedroom and a smaller, inside bedroom with two regular beds and another two that pull down from the ceiling) and two bathrooms (one with a tub, one with a shower). The suite also offers a living area with a pullout couch and a 208-square-foot balcony with a dining table. A smaller, 328-square-foot Family Oceanview Stateroom looks a lot like a regular outside cabin but also has a small second bedroom with bunk beds.
The smallest of the suites is the 297-square foot Junior Suite, which features a 75-square foot balcony and sitting area.
All suiteholders, except those in Junior Suites, are entitled to use the Concierge Lounge on Deck 9. This windowless room features continental breakfast and a cocktail hour. Upon request, the concierge on duty handles special requests for reservations -- alternative restaurants, spa, etc. However, on our trip, she made a point to tell us "it is just as easy to make the call yourself."