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18 Night Panama Canal & Central America Cruise from San Francisco

18 Night Panama Canal & Central America Cruise from San Francisco

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Seven Seas Mariner
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Itinerary


Seven Seas Mariner

Cruise Critic Editor Rating:
4.5
341 reviews
Why Choose Seven Seas Mariner?

Pro: Cruise fare covers nearly everything: drinks, tips and excellent variety of excursions

Con: Prices are among the industry's highest, even for entry-level suites

Bottom Line: Inclusive nature and great service means a Mariner cruise is all about relaxing


Cruise Reviews

Sail Date: September 2018
This was our first Regent cruise but by no means our first cruise experience having previously completed sailings with Cunard, Holland America, Celebrity and Princess. Regent market themselves as a luxury 6 star, all inclusive cruise ... Read More
This was our first Regent cruise but by no means our first cruise experience having previously completed sailings with Cunard, Holland America, Celebrity and Princess. Regent market themselves as a luxury 6 star, all inclusive cruise experience and you pay a premium for this. The problem with setting the bar so high is that unless you can actually deliver on ALL levels then you are only ever going to disappoint which was in part what we discovered. Embarkation following coach transfer from Anchorage to Seward was efficient. The ship itself was refurbished in March this year and common areas are beautifully appointed. The Mariner is a small ship which has both advantages and disadvantages. On our cruise it was only 2/3 full with approximately 480 passengers on board. Advantages were no queuing, better opportunities for dining in restaurants of choice and smaller tour groups. However, the reduced numbers of passengers resulted in sparsely populated bars and theatre, many empty tables in the main restaurant at any one time and a situation where early one evening we walked the length of the ship on an inside deck where there were bars and did not pass another person apart from the bar staff. It was for us a ship lacking in atmosphere. Sadly the improved ratio of staff to passengers was not obvious. Service was simply not 6 star. In the main Compass Rose restaurant it was rather hit and miss. A number of evenings we had good service but this was also matched by evenings where despite few customers, the service was slow and the staff rather dismissive. One evening my husband was half way through his dessert when a waiter appeared and literally plonked another component of it on the table explaining it had been missed off his plate. Another evening I did not like the white wine being offered with dinner and when I explained this the response was a curt “well what do you want?” rather than a suggestion of what else was available. In one of the Signature Restaurants Chartreuse we ordered green beans and asparagus as side dishes The asparagus was brought but not the beans. When my husband asked if they had forgotten them the waiter pointed to my husband's plate and said “there they are”. We had to point out that was in fact asparagus and not green beans! Also in Chartreuse my dessert was served 5 minutes before my husband who had ordered cheese. We also experienced poor service at the pool bar where despite there being a number of bar staff and ourselves being the only customers one afternoon, we were dismissively told our drinks couldn't be provided because a screen had broken and they couldn’t access a bottle of spirit they needed. No offer from any of the staff to attempt to obtain a bottle from a nearby bar, we were simply told these things happen and left. As we walked away we passed an area piled with dirty plates and remnants of food from earlier. There were occasions throughout the cruise when we placed drinks orders that were incorrectly delivered and occasions where having placed an order the waiter returned a short time later to ask again what we wanted as they had forgotten. On occasions Room Service food took in excess of half an hour to be delivered for the simplest of orders and despite after one meal asking a number of times for our used plates etc. to be cleared from our cabin no one came. We ended up loading up the tray and putting it outside our cabin door. We noticed other feedback has highlighted that the staff are possibly not so well trained/experienced and we would agree with this. In addition to the above, little things like used glasses not being cleared and replaced, nothing available to serve the ice in our cabin, our mini bar not being restocked and our coffee maker was sometimes not emptied. A bottle of Rose wine provided on request was left out on the side at room temperature rather than being placed in our mini bar fridge to chill. Basic mistakes that should not happen on a 6 star cruise! Food on board was a mixed experience. Our food in both of the Signature Restaurants, Prime 7 and Chartreuse was very good. In the main restaurant Compass Rose the food was sometimes good sometimes not so good but the biggest disappointment was the lunch time buffet in the pool bar area which was by far the poorest buffet experience for both choice and presentation we have encountered on any cruise. We overheard a number of passengers comment on how bad it was. Entertainment was poor. You do not expect the big productions you see on larger cruise ships but with a premium price and 6 star billing should come premium entertainment. With the exception of one music show performed personally by the ship’s Cruise Director (nothing like saving money by using your Cruise Director to also entertain!) and one of the 4 shows performed by the Mariner singers & dancers entitled Blazing Boots which were good, the remaining Mariner productions were at best average and at worst amateur. It comes to something when the ship’s Crew Show outshines the professional entertainment! A magician brought on board for 2 shows was good but doing close up magic, was better suited to a smaller bar/ lounge area than the main theatre. Tours were varied and we personally had no issues obtaining the tours we wanted. (Most were included in the price but there was also an opportunity to choose some more specialised tours for a surcharge). As far as quality, again some were good some not so good. This was no different to our experience of other cruise lines. The only advantage was that with a smaller ship, the tours had smaller groups which was nice. Disembarkation in Vancouver and transfer to our hotel was efficient and uneventful. So could we recommend Regent to our friends? In all honesty probably not. This is not because we did not have an enjoyable time, Alaska was beautiful, but simply because the marketing of Regent as a cut above, luxury cruise line does not match the reality. They fell short and we felt we had paid a premium for a less than premium experience. Would we sail with Regent again? There was nothing so awful to make us say definitely no and now at least we are aware of the reality and not just the hype. However, because of our experience it would only be in a circumstance where we could look to obtain a last minute/discounted price deal where we were not paying a premium. Failing that we would choose another cruise line. Cunard are also a more expensive option but we felt offered a much more luxury, premium experience. Holland America, Princess and Celebrity are comparatively less expensive but the quality of our experience on-board was in some cases better than our experience of Regent. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2018
My family (which includes two teenagers) wanted to take a summer vacation in Alaska. The date of this cruise along with the size and luxury of the boat fit the ticket for us and that's how we chose the RSSC Mariner. We booked the cruise ... Read More
My family (which includes two teenagers) wanted to take a summer vacation in Alaska. The date of this cruise along with the size and luxury of the boat fit the ticket for us and that's how we chose the RSSC Mariner. We booked the cruise directly with RSSC. I found our travel agent at RSSC to be very easy to work with. My only complaint with RSSC was several of the excursions that we would have enjoyed had been booked prior to our booking the trip and some of the excursions were just OK (that is the reason for the 4 star vs 5 star). Perhaps it was bad choosing on our part. We would have enjoyed having more flexibility with the excursions. But perhaps that is an impossibility in the nature of cruising - we were new to cruising. The food on the boat was excellent and my kids require gluten free diets which the culinary staff was amazing, They had wanted us to pre-order our gluten free meals ahead of time however many times my kids decided what they wanted at the meals and they couldn't have been more flexible. The complete staff on board could not have been more welcoming. There was a youth club - but my kids weren't interested in joining. There was a great game room with lots of games that we were able to use anywhere on board and a pool. We were lucky with wonderful weather and the pool deck was used often. Our room was very nice and the housekeeping staff was wonderful. The fitness facility was small and we did have to wait for treadmill/elliptical when we went. The spa was nice - we enjoyed massages and a manicure for me. The on board entertainment was enjoyable. We needed to see the doctor (for pink eye) that was contracted before cruising for medication and the medical facility/doctor/nurse were wonderful. I would highly recommend cruising with RSSC - but do some homework on the excursions! Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2018
We booked an Alaska cruise only three weeks out!!! George Ramos was our booking agent and he was fantastic. He really worked hard for us on the airline arrangements, and we could not have asked for more. The cruise was just for my wife ... Read More
We booked an Alaska cruise only three weeks out!!! George Ramos was our booking agent and he was fantastic. He really worked hard for us on the airline arrangements, and we could not have asked for more. The cruise was just for my wife and I. We have cruised before on Seabourn and NCL. Overall we were really happy. They really do include almost everything in the price and that makes this style of cruising very relaxing. We booked into a Penthouse A suite on Deck 11. Check-in and boarding were pretty smooth. It did not quite have the personalized touch that Seaborn did with someone waiting for you in your room, but our Butler, Bejoy, was amazing. He really could not have been nicer or more competent. The room was very spacious, well-kept, and in good shape. The included excursions were really good. We just stuck with those. You have to pay an upcharge for some of the more high-end ones. The included wi-fi was a really nice perk. The one disappointment was the food. Granted my wife and I are pretty spoiled / lucky, but I just felt the food was a notch below where it should have been. There were some standouts like the king crab legs in Prime 7 and the filet / tenderlon was always good. But in general, although it all looked good on the menu, it just fell short. The foie gras (which I had twice) was well-cooked, but just completely bland. Same with the schnitzel one night. I had a porterhouse in Prime 7 and it was tasty but maybe just a 1/2 inch thick. Other examples would be the brussel sprouts in Compass Rose which were just served steamed with zero seasoning, a lobster bisque which was incredibly thin, or the lobster tails which always looked like they'd been under the heat lamp for a bit too long. I think we had our best experiences at Sette Mari with Efrem as our server. We were able to order canapes in our room but the timing (5-7) put it too close to dinner for us and the selection didn't vary and was kind of so-so. Enough on the food! We do enjoy wine and we found the selection included to be fine with us. Decent selection and all pretty good. We ordered a bottle of Groth one night and IMO they offer you these extra-cost wines at below-market prices (plus no tax and tip on them). We went to the show almost every night. They were very well done. One thing I noted though was there there was very little diversity in the cast, and that's not something I normally notice. As far as the clientele, it was mostly English-speaking. There were a number of kids on board (I think over 100!) and a number of multi-generational groups travelling together. I did notice that the ship never really felt crowded though. You could almost always get a seat at whatever bar, lounge, or restaurant you wanted. (Exceptions were Prime 7 and Chartreuse, but that's to be expected.) All in all, this was a five-star cruise that I think was let down by the quality of the dining experience. And even then, the menu, the setting, and the service were all great, it just came down to some pretty bland dishes from the kitchen. We would do Regency again if the schedule drove us there (like this time), but may try Seabourn again or Crystal next time. Read Less
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