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18 Night Panama Canal & Central America Cruise from Miami

18 Night Panama Canal & Central America Cruise from Miami

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Seven Seas Mariner
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Itinerary


Seven Seas Mariner

Cruise Critic Editor Rating:
4.5
342 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

12 Helpful Votes
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
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: September 2018
We chose this this cruise because we believe in Regent. Any other line we sail with is compared to Regent. After knowing we would be happy on Regent we then looked carefully at the itinerary. We wanted to sail in or out of Vancouver and ... Read More
We chose this this cruise because we believe in Regent. Any other line we sail with is compared to Regent. After knowing we would be happy on Regent we then looked carefully at the itinerary. We wanted to sail in or out of Vancouver and we wanted a stop in Victoria. We also wanted to explore as much of the Inside Passage as we could. Next we wanted to sail with Terry Breen (she was the Enrichment Lecturer on our Amazon cruise last year). She is excellent and we knew she would make our exploration of Alaska more interesting. Finally we had sailed on the Mariner to the Amazon in November/December 2017 and we were excited to see Mariner after she came out of dry dock. We stayed one night in Anchorage before boarding a coach to Seward for embarkation. When we arrived in Anchorage it was sunny and we were able to see Denali. The locals told us that the weather was better than expected and that we were lucky to see Denali as it was quite often (at least 50% of the time) shrouded in clouds. The coach ride to Seward was quite pleasant. We were given a snack and were given a commentary about the sights along the route. Seward terminal made me smile. I said "well this is Alaska". Friendly and competent would describe the staff. Embarkation was relaxed and stress free. Of course a champagne flute awaited us as soon as we boarded. The new color pallet on Mariner is beautiful and elegant. Our suite, 863, was very comfortable. The storage above the desk has been removed but we did not miss it. That area is now more open and appears larger. This suite does not have a tub (our request) and we enjoyed not having to step up into the tub/shower combination. (Personal Preference) The flow in the Veranda is better managed. The somewhat bizarre (our opinion) art in the atrium elevator we called Stairway to Heaven has been removed and we consider that an improvement. There is new furniture and carpeting around the ship. Overall the ship looks updated and so pretty. The one design flaw perhaps is in the theater. The step hazards have been removed and that is a good thing. However, the arm rails extend far out and "snag clothing, your handbag, or even your knees. We were cautious and we were fine but were alerted to this and might be a potential problem for some. As I said we had been on the Mariner in late 2017. The entertainment cast was different than the Amazon cruise but the shows were repeats. They were still good. The cruise director, John did a one man show that was really fantastic. He is talented and professional while being quite personable. We enjoyed his show immensely. There was also a very good magician that we enjoyed. Terry Breen did not disappoint. We learned so much about glaciers and about the First Nation's People and whales and just about Alaska in general. We knew that we would come home with a better understanding of this last frontier after spending time with Terry. The weather was a concern but we packed for cold and rain and in between. Our weather was glorious. Sunny and 60's. If it did rain it was in the evening . The mornings were cool so layering is the secret. We had a rainy day in Ketchikan but not soaking and rain was interspersed with sun. Every new day brought new and more beautiful scenery. Each day brought a new experience. We saw snow capped mountain peaks, glaciers (We got within 1/2 mile of the glacier and witnessed calving), fjords, grizzlies,black bears, eagles, salmon running, sea lions, orca whales, and humback whales, black tail deer and totems. We were treated to the splendor of Alaska visually and from our wonderful guides. The people of Alaska are some of the friendliest we have met anywhere in the world. They are eager for you to learn about their culture and to experience Alaska through their eyes. Visiting with the locals was one of my favorite activities. Their life is hard but it is what they love. We left Alaska and sailed to Victoria. It is a really pretty Victorian city. We toured the city, visited Butchart Gardens and attended High Tea at the Empress Hotel. If only one activity fits in your schedule do not miss the Butchart Gardens. This is a truly magical place. We then sailed to Vancouver and boarded a van to begin our post cruise . We spent 2 days in Whistler. WOW!!! This was a site for the Winter Olympics and we stayed at the Fairmont Chateau hotel which is a 4 Seasons resort with Blackcomb Mountain and Whistler Mountain as backdrops. Since there was no snow the preferred activity was mountain biking and bikers were everywhere. This is a great area to relax and enjoy the great outdoors. We rode the gondola and went on the Peak2Peak tram. The next day we flew to see the glacier in a float plane. Fun and new experience for us. We really enjoyed the upscale lodge feel of Whistler. The third day we left Whistler and returned to Vancouver and had a half day tour. We saw Stanley Park, had a lunch stop on Granville Island (the public market was amazing!) and drove through Chinatown and the Gastoen area. We spent the night at the Fairmont Vancouver and then were transferred to the Vancouver airport for our flight home. This is a very nice airport. Customs was quick and painless as you actually clear US customs there rather than at your US destination. To complete our review of the Mariner we need to discuss the food. We dined in all of the venues and enjoyed every meal. Compass Rose is spectacular and I really enjoyed Chartreuse. This is a new venue for the Mariner (replaced Signatures). We had no complaints with any venue . Service on Regent can not be beat. As an example, I love their sea bass. I forgot to check the Compass Rose menu and missed it the one night it was prepared. I asked if it was going to be on another night. "Sorry, no. However we will ask the chef and if he has the ingredients he will make it for you tomorrow night." He did and it was delicious, as I knew it would be. Thank You for going above and beyond! If I haven't made it clear by now, this cruise to Alaska was beyond our expectations. I need to say that we keep coming back to Regent because of the crew. They had been in Alaska all Spring and Summer doing similar routes and I am sure hearing similar stories and seeing similar scenery. However, their energy level, big smiles, and eagerness to please would lead you to believe they were on the first cruise in Alaska. First class all the way!!! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
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
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