7 Royal Caribbean Mariner of the Seas British Columbia Cruise Reviews

We have always wanted to try a Promenade room, and being that this was a low budget cruise, they all are, but be finally tried it and stuck with it; Getting to the just of this trip. We booked a 7 night cruise to the Mexican Riviera ... Read More
We have always wanted to try a Promenade room, and being that this was a low budget cruise, they all are, but be finally tried it and stuck with it; Getting to the just of this trip. We booked a 7 night cruise to the Mexican Riviera but the Swine Flu halted that one. RCCL was actually better to us than the cruises before and after us. They allowed us to cancel without penalty, or take a $250 OBC + a $250 FCC on our next Mex Riv cruise. Unfortunately for RCCL, they had to drop the room prices so drastically by giving Senior or Residency rates that we actually were above to save more than $500 by asking for a new rate. We already had a large OBC so we were in good shape. Packing was our only problem. Gone were the shorts and on came the sweaters. We love the Mariner and this trip was no different. We were lucky enough to have Captain Johnny and Cruise Director Ken Rush on this cruise. Although the weather was cold the first 5 days, we still had a great time doing all the indoor things with the many friends we had made through the Mix and Mingle group we chatted with on the CC boards. Our group did a cabin crawl, a pub crawl along with a poker run, we had a pre boarding party at a nice land Restaurant in LA, we had a "get leid" party in Schooner's before the Muster and a nice Sail away party at the Sky Bar. We also had one great "Slot Pull" that had half the casino rooting for us. We doubled our money - that's $9 the hard way. The food as always was great. We enjoyed breakfast, although a little more crowded than usual due to cool weather, in the Windjammer. We lunch and dinner every day in the dining room. We even cut our excursions short so we don't miss our early dinner time. I love to order a side of the daily pasta with marinara sauce with each dinner. I watched a couple of our table mates, all Cruise Critic M&M pals, order all appetizer dinners on one nite. Our PR room was a lot smaller than I was ready for, being we had balcony rooms in the past. I loved the window seat and view of the promenade but having the bed in the middle of this room made it cramped. All in all, it was still a good value cabin for the money we spent and I'd do it again if I was on limited funds... especially if I had a warm weather destination. The PR became tight mostly because we spent more time in it due to unavailablity (or undesirability) of the pool area for lounging... even the library was full the first 5 days while sailing. Now, 5/6 months before this cruise we cruised the Mariner out of Canaveral (nice port) and so we saw all the same RCCL shows we had before. But, we loved the shows which seemed to change based on the fact that we had Ken and now Drew this time (Drew is a very good Cruise Director, too.) The booked entertainers were different and that was enough to make the cruise different, not that it had to be. We love meeting new friends and enjoying a nice time on board, dancing and listening to the music, relaxing and eating (IMHO) fine food. We didn't like having to go to the COLD Northwest but we still loved being onboard this ship.. she is glorious regardless of the destination. Astoria, Oregon: RCCL and Astoria were not ready for this ship. One gang plank in the middle of the ship. It took hours to get everyone off. They had a nice little flea market just off ship. We disembarked last, did the flea market in the cold and rain and jumped back on before the lines to re-board got long. We watched those lines get long as we dined. I'm betting this was a nice pier, too. Read Less
Sail Date August 2009
Embarkation:  It was fairly easy and the RC staff was friendly and very efficient.  We arrived at 12:00 PM and were on board by 12:45 PM.  Luggage arrived promptly to our cabin around 5:30 PM.Cabin:  Normally, we stay in a suite (our ... Read More
Embarkation:  It was fairly easy and the RC staff was friendly and very efficient.  We arrived at 12:00 PM and were on board by 12:45 PM.  Luggage arrived promptly to our cabin around 5:30 PM.Cabin:  Normally, we stay in a suite (our last RC cabin was the Royal Suite, complete with a baby grand piano!), but this time, we were doing a last minute, 'cheapie' cruise and grabbed an inside cabin with a window overlooking the royal promenade ($481 per person, how could we go wrong?!).  The cabin, even though it was small, was well laid out.  Kudo's to RC for no shower curtain!  The shower doors are a nice touch!  The linens on the bed were nice and soft.  The old style, non flat screen TV should be replaced.  The stateroom attendant, Clova, was magnificent!  She was even kind enough to clean out our mini-bar fridge so we could store the bottles of water in there, that we had brought on board (shh!) in our checked luggage.   I was worried that the cabin might be a bit noisy due to the parades and bars on the royal promenade, but that was absolutely not the case.  We had no trouble at all sleeping in!  This cabin was a great deal for the money!   Itinerary:  Normally, this cruise was scheduled to go to Mexico.  Since we live in San Diego, 30 minutes from the Mexico border, there is NO way we would ever travel to Mexico; especially knowing all the turmoil that is going on there currently (dh is a SDPD officer and hears all the frightening stories!).  We were thrilled when RC said they were switching the itinerary to the Pacific Northwest (due to Swine Flu).  We immediately jumped on the deal and so did several of our friends!  Los Angeles: Embarkation was a breeze!  We showed up at noon and were on the boat by 12:45.    San Francisco:  What a lovely time it is to sail under the Golden Gate Bridge!  If you ever get the chance to do this, do NOT miss it!  Literally, the ship's radar ball clears the bridge by only 10 feet!  We did the Alcatraz Tour and it was fabulous.  My mom really enjoyed seeing the famous "Rock".   Victoria, BC:  RC's excursion desk really let us down on this one.  We purchased a night time Butchart Gardens to see the largest low voltage landscaping lighting installation in North America... Unfortunately, our tour ended at 8:30 PM and sunset did not occur until 9:30 PM.  As per usual, the shore excursion desk team bordered on rude and insolent and would not do anything to make it right.  We still LOVED our time in BC and would go back again and again!  Why are shore excursion desk employees usually the surliest staff members?   Activities on board:  Well, the activities seemed to really have been trimmed back.  I found it odd that the Captain's Book Signing (and yes, you were expected to purchase his book) was considered an 'activity'.  Also, the puffy eye symposium, fighting the female fat cell, and other various gimmicks all designed to sell you something, were border line insulting as 'activities.   The movies being shown in the screening room were simply awful.  They were movies that we had never heard of.  It was almost as if the cruise director picked them up at the dollar store in the clearance bin!  Also, the TV selections for entertainment in our cabin were pretty bad.  Fox news only had reception for 1/3 of the voyage and other than that, there were 2 border line PORN type programs on about Hugh Hefner and all of his Playboy bunnies and some program about South American models and their love interests.  Both were completely inappropriate for a family style cruise, and both shows ran 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.    Entertainment:  My mom and I couldn't put our finger on what was missing with the production shows.  The performers were good and obviously working their tails off, but the material they had to work with just was lacking.  The 80's production show did not go over well with the older folks who had no idea who Duran Duran, Culture Club, Frankie Goes To Hollywood, etc. were.  Also, the sound guy pumped in so much "Karaoke echo" effects onto the singers voices, that it really cheapened the production.    The magicians, "LaRaff", were like watching a car wreck!  The first 15 minutes were simply awful and much of the 1400 audience members started walking out!  The show did get better towards the end, so we were glad we stayed.   Matt Yee is not to be missed!  He does a great piano bar, sing along in the Schooner Bar.  His shows are pretty much the same, night after night, so one show is probably enough, but be sure not to miss him.  He is hilarious!!!   Food:  First, let me say that Chops Grill is NOT, NOT, NOT to be missed.  This would have easily been a $200 meal back in San Diego, so I was thrilled to pay $25 per person plus an extra gratuity.  My mom had fish and I had chicken w/ sautEed mushrooms.  The appetizers were incredible.  The desserts were stellar... The service was uber friendly and not stuffy at all.  I wish I would have made reservations for more than one night.    Dining Room Food:  Ho Hum... Can you say Golden Corral?!  On the nights that I had to order a grilled chicken breast because there was nothing on the main menu that would work for me, it was truly awful.  Our dining companions started calling it the "Spencer Gift Joke Chicken" because it was so dry and rubbery.  The baked potatoes were the size of a small child's hand (more like a baked red potato).   The desserts were bland, at best.  The apple pie was very similar to the kind that you buy at the grocery store in the freezer section.  Thank goodness for the good dinner rolls.  We all ended up filling up on those every night (sigh).  On 'prime rib' night, we were told that they didn't have horseradish on board!  Huh?  I'm sorry; did I accidentally get on to the Carnival ship instead of Royal Caribbean?   Also, the kitchen had a hard time getting our table of 6 - 8 entrees to come out at the same time.  Talk about uncomfortable... You would get your meal, but your dining companion right next to you doesn't get his meal for about 10-15 minutes, even though you ordered at the same time.  This happened on two different occasions.  Our waiter was frantic, and kept going back to the galley, so I don't think it was his fault.  Overall, the dining room service was fantastic.  Always friendly and they are always trying hard to please you.   Buffet:  Windjammer Cafe:  So the midnight buffet has gone the way of the Dodo bird... OK, that's not a big deal.  But what is a big deal is Royal Caribbean's new times for meals:  Breakfast 7:00 - 11:00, Lunch 11:30 - 2:00 PM, Dinner 6:30 - 9:00 PM.  Did you catch that large gap between lunch and dinner?  If you miss lunch, and you're hungry, your only choices are room service or the dried up Pizza and teenie tiny premade sandwiches in Cafe Promenade.   This is truly unacceptable.  Even on Princess, they have a grill going outside by the pool with chicken sandwiches, hamburgers and hot dogs during the afternoon.  The soft serve yogurt on RC is a nice touch.  However, they don't start the machine up until the THIRD day of the cruise (no kidding!).  They say it's for environmental reasons, but it has to be for cost reasons.   My mom and I are booked in a Crown Loft Suite on Oasis of the Seas, but after this trip, there is NO way we will be spending $10,000+ with RC.  It's one thing to spend $481 per person... your expectations just aren't that high; however, spending $10K is an entirely different arena.  We have rebooked with Regent and are going to be able to sail in a suite, 11 days, all inclusive (including shore excursions, cocktails, etc!) for less than the $10,000 with RC!  If RC isn't careful about becoming a slightly classier Carnival, they will lose more customers like my family and me to Regent or Seabourn.  Oasis and Allure are so expensive, that you can do a luxury cruise for nearly the same cost and get so much more.  Royal Caribbean has super friendly employees and that continues to be their strong point.  However, they better remember that consumers want good value and GREAT entertainment and a book signing by the Captain, or a Puffy Eye Symposium just isn't going to cut it. 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Sail Date June 2009
My wife and I took our ninth Royal Caribbean cruise and twentieth overall on Mariner of the Seas departing on May 31.   This was a seven night trip originating in Los Angeles with a revised itinerary because of the flu issues in ... Read More
My wife and I took our ninth Royal Caribbean cruise and twentieth overall on Mariner of the Seas departing on May 31.   This was a seven night trip originating in Los Angeles with a revised itinerary because of the flu issues in Mexico.   We booked the cruise after the ports of call were switched and were quite happy to visit San Francisco, Vitoria BC and Seattle, and in fact prefer these to the Mexican stops.   This trip was an anomaly, possibly not to be repeated so I will confine my remarks to the ship itself except to state that sailing into San Francisco bay under the Golden Gate Bridge was very special. The ship seems new, very well maintained and clean.   Our interior cabin on deck eight had a window facing the promenade.   We thought that noise from the parades and entertainment would be an inconvenience but that was not a problem.   One aspect of the room which got our attention quickly was that the windows are uncoated, plain clear glass so that all activities in one's cabin as well as those across the promenade are visible.   The curtains do block all light however, so good sleeping is possible.Our interior cabin on deck eight had a window facing the promenade.   We thought that noise from the parades and entertainment would be an inconvenience but that was not a problem.   One aspect of the room which got our attention quickly was that the windows are uncoated, plain clear glass so that all activities in one's cabin as well as those across the promenade are visible.   The curtains do block all light however, so good sleeping is possible.   Bar soap was provided instead of the dispenser type although shampoo was from a dispenser.   The cabin had a small sofa and love seat.    Closet space for hanging items was sufficient although only a slight rocking of the ship started the hangers banging together, so much so that I got up and took the empty ones off the rack and laid them down to stop the noise.   I'm a light sleeper however. The ship's employees were all friendly, courteous and eager to please.   Our dinners were in the Top Hat and Tails restaurant where we experienced excellent service from the wait staff.  As has been mentioned in other reviews the portions have been reduced and so has the quality of the food.   We think that the cuisine was at as low a level as any we had experienced on other cruise ships from the perspective of quality of the ingredients.   Preparation was good though, but as one passenger remarked, "Even a perfectly prepared taco is still just a taco".   An example of the decline in dining is that the lunch menu is identical each day.   They do provide a very nice salad bar at lunch that my wife and some other table mates greatly enjoyed. An unusual event happened to tablemates who arrived for dinner the first night and found that their seats had been preempted by two other passengers who had actually been assigned to a different table.   For unknown reasons, possibly proximity to a window these people could not or would not move to their assigned table producing an uncomfortable confrontation.   The displaced diners were reseated to our table and they were the most pleasant and fun dinner partners we could have hoped for.   Several changes have been made on RCL since our last cruise with them in October 2007 that negatively impacted the experience, in our opinion.   Some of most obvious of these are the champagne welcome has been stopped, there are no chocolates on the pillows as part of the turn down service and there are no after dinner mints or candies provided in the dining rooms.   We were told by an employee that discontinuing the pillow chocolates will save RCL $400K per year.   Food in the Windjammer was unremarkable, standard Vegas buffet variety and quality although service was very good.   We began cruising in 1999 and so still remember when almost every dish was the best we had ever had in quality of ingredients, portion size and service.   If one ordered water melon the slice served was the best water melon, the steak was the best, etc.   On this ship the food items were nothing special.   New cruisers seemed very pleased however. For part of the cruise we were shadowing the Carnival Splendor and in Victoria we were berthed next to that ship.   In conversations with those passengers it seems that Carnival, or at least the Splendor, has matched or surpassed RCL in food, amenities and staff service.   Also, contrary to some perceptions, the passengers from Carnival Splendor that one met were indistinguishable in demographics and deportment from the RCL passengers.   We had taken Norwegian Cruise Lines on our previous two cruises and they have clearly overtaken RCL, or perhaps RCL has fallen behind them in many aspects of cruising although the NCL fleet seems older and their ships smaller. In summary, Mariner of the Seas is a five star vessel with a five star staff but has three and one half star food and amenities.   We will certainly use RCL again and even made future cruise deposits but we will always choose NCL over RCL if the price is the same or less and we will probably try one of the newer Carnival ships. 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Sail Date May 2009
Background Information: My mother-in-law (50's) and I (30's) flew from Minneapolis to John Wayne Airport the day before our cruise.  It's a small airport, but in the short time we were there we found it very clean, easy to ... Read More
Background Information: My mother-in-law (50's) and I (30's) flew from Minneapolis to John Wayne Airport the day before our cruise.  It's a small airport, but in the short time we were there we found it very clean, easy to navigate and had options available for those who may need to spend more time there.  We were picked up by family members and stayed with them Saturday night.  We used this free day to take in In-N-Out Burger (a must) and visit other family members.  On the cruise we were joined by another family member (40th birthday!) and her 3 year old son.  All of us were booked previously on Mariner of the Seas sailing to the Mexican Riviera.  Royal Caribbean was generous with their onboard credits and future cruise credits in my opinion since legally they have the right to change the itinerary at their discretion.  And since they changed due to the H1N1 flu outbreak - they certainly did not HAVE to do anything.  With so many people dropping this itinerary however, we were really hoping for an upgraded stateroom.  We were told this would need to be taken care of on the ship at check in.Embarkation: We were dropped off at the port in San Pedro around 11am.  We sailed through security and did not wait in line at all for an agent to check us in.  We asked about the upgrade and we were told this would need to be taken care of on the ship at guest relations.  We waited for about 20 minutes for them to start boarding the ship and then were on and off on our adventure.  No one was allowed in their rooms until 1pm and we carried on entirely too much.  We first went to guest relations to ask about a room upgrade.  There was a sign saying the ship was full and there were no room upgrade options.  However, we did have other business to take care of there - so while speaking with the person at guest relations, we did ask if they could move our rooms closer to each other.  He said he would note the request and let us know.  Our next stop was to the dining room to talk to the Maitre D.  Since we were sailing together, obviously we wanted to eat together.  And despite our reservations being linked online prior to the cruise, we were assigned different tables and different times.  We waited in line to speak to him and it was worth it!  He was able to get us a table together and our new table was right by the window!  We were second in line and there were MANY behind us...so I believe it pays to get there early and wait.  After that we went to the Windjammer to eat and there were no tables available.  And many "vulchers" waiting to sit.  This was an extremely frustrating process for us given we had a hungry three year old and all of our bags.  Most frustrating because there were people sitting at tables reading books that could have read them ANYWHERE ELSE on the ship and given that table to people who were actually eating.  There were a few times throughout our cruise where we felt passengers were very rude and/or thoughtless.  Of course that is countered by MANY nice, kind, helpful people.  It does just make you wonder sometimes.Itinerary: Sunday: Departure from San Pedro (close to LA)Monday: At SeaTuesday: Astoria, OregonWednesday: Victoria, British ColumbiaThursday: Seattle, WashingtonFriday: At SeaSaturday: At SeaPorts of Call:Astoria, Oregon: We ate breakfast on the ship and then got off to sightsee on our own.  We walked up to the trolly "station" and hopped on that for a mere $2 per person round trip.  The trolley takes you from one end of town to the other.  Our impressions were that Astoria is a cute little town with lots of charm, but that they were not ready for a cruise ship of this size.  There were stores that were closed.  They could have much more available.  In their defense, this was a last minute change for them and I believe our sailing is the only one going there.  There are some things to see and do - but probably many more for those who have more time.  In the end - we rode the trolly to one end and walked back instead veering off to visit "main street" and see a little more of the town.  We boarded the ship just in time to get to our 6:30 dinner.Victoria, British Columbia: GORGEOUS!  Everything was very green and well kept.  We did the "Hop On, Hop Off - Double Decker Bus Tour".  We were late getting into port but they kept all excursions for the same amount of time that everyone paid for.  We were told to meet and wait in the Savoy Theater.  When they called our tour we were off and walked off the ship and over to the double decker busses.  There were a total of 8 stops, but due to construction they would not be stopping at the last 2.  It was overcast and drizzled on and off, but we had our umbrella's and had a great time nonetheless.  There were plenty of souvenier shops along the way for us to find some trinkets.  There was a lot to see and do here and I would vacation here anytime!Seattle, Washington: We were docked at Pier 91.  Royal Caribbean had buses available to shuttle passengers closer to the action.  They dropped us off at the Seattle Center (where the Space Needle is - among other things).  We hopped on the monorail which took us to the main shopping area and then we walked down to Pike's Place.  Again - Seattle is green and beautiful!  We were all pretty amazed with how clear the air seemed to be and everything just felt very fresh.  At Pike's Place we saw them throwing the fish, the flowers and fruits/vegetables were huge and gorgeous and fresh.  It was crowded, but not terrible.  We also went to the first Starbucks (my happy place!!).  We stopped at a few shops on the way back to the monorail.  We got right on the bus/shuttle and headed back to the ship.  Getting back on was a breeze as usual.The Ship: The ship was BEAUTIFUL!  Everything was in great condition and well maintained.  We were very impressed with the Mariner and would sail on this ship again in a heartbeat!  There were plenty of bars, places to eat, things to do...so on the ship we never really felt crowded. (with the exception of the first day in the Windjammer)  With so many days at sea, we wished there would have been more offered for shopping onboard, but since we didn't cruise for that - it is what it is.Cabin: I should note that we were moved at 10:30pm the first night from our interior stateroom near the back of the ship to a cabin overlooking the promenade right next door to our travel mates!!!  This was FANTASTIC!  We were on deck 6 in the middle of the ship and it was a great location!  It was fun to be able to look out on the promenade and see all that was going on.  If you plan on sleeping at 9/10 at night this might not be the room for you.  There are a couple nights when there are things going on where it may be a little loud - but it's not til all hours of the morning, so if you're taking in the parades anyway you'll be just fine!  Our cabin steward kept our room in great condition so we have no complaints.  He was not overly friendly like others we'd see.  But truthfully as long as our room was clean we took no issue with him.Dining: As mentioned, we were moved to a table by the window at the main dining on the 3rd floor - Rhapsody in Blue dining room.  We were at a table for 10, but the others never showed so we had our own table which was GREAT.  Our waiter was OK.  Our assistant waiter was fantastic.  Our head waiter was very attentive.  I was not feeling well 2 of the days where my travel mates ate lunch in the dining room.  When Merrick saw I was not with them and asked why - he promptly got a plate together with apples and soda crackers to send back the room for me.  Very thoughtful!  With so many guests and two different dinings, for him to even notice that I wasn't there was remarkable in my opinion.  I was very appreciative.  We ate breakfast in the Windjammer most days.  The fruit was always very good and fresh.  I never did get to try the omelet bar.  Lunch in the dining room was excellent.  We also ate at Johnny Rockets one day which was very good.Entertainment: We took in Ice Under the Big Top which we found very impressive and a fun night for us!  We got in line early and got front row seats!  We also saw the two shows with the RC singers and dancers in The Savoy Theater which were both quite good.  We took in the Love and Marriage game show which is always funny, and kareoke which was unusually very bad (with a couple exceptions).  There were lots of activities going on about the ship....the mens bellyflop contest and mens sexy legs contest were both funny.  There was also trivia every day and many other opportunities to join in.  Service: In general, there were some good crew members and some bad.  We often felt crew members would say they'd get right on it and then do nothing.  We had some issues getting our onboard credits taken care of so were at the guest relations desk multiple times a day.  There was one gal there that was very polite - but totally blew us off.  Another gentlemen, Gaston, was SOOOO helpful and really worked with us to get our issues resolved.  He was very understanding and really seemed to care whether we were taken care of/happy or not.In summary, we had a great cruise vacation at a great value.  We would definately cruise on Mariner again and had a wonderful time with many fond memories.  Hopefully this review is helpful. 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Sail Date May 2009
Our first cruise. We booked 3 months ago and were really looking forward to the trip to Mexico! Imagine our surprise (and initial disappointment) when swine flu changed our itinerary to San Francisco, Seattle, and Victoria. We already had ... Read More
Our first cruise. We booked 3 months ago and were really looking forward to the trip to Mexico! Imagine our surprise (and initial disappointment) when swine flu changed our itinerary to San Francisco, Seattle, and Victoria. We already had airfare paid for, childcare arranged, and my work was covered (also very difficult to do, and moreso to undo). So whether we were up for the cruise or not, we had no choice. We were going!The transfer from LAX to the port went just as expected. We stayed in a hotel the night before (flew in Sat evening) and shuttled back to the airport and had no problem finding the RC shuttle people. They were very friendly and helpful.Saturday night, we stayed at the travel lodge. Unfortunately, the shuttle took us to the wrong travel lodge. There are two, and one has its own shuttle, and one doesn't. It was very confusing. We finally found a taxi to get us to the right hotel.Embarkation. Oh. My. Goodness. It was an awful mess. We hadn't eaten - and didn't expect it to be a 2 - 3 hour embarking process. Next time, we know to eat. Embarking itself wasn't bad, but the lines were long and slow. Our travel agent had put us in an upgrade line for the cabin - we knew there'd be alot of people canceling, and were hoping for a little cabin upgrade. The agent walked us to the line for that, which was actually the incorrect line. Finally, they walked us to the correct line. We were told that it'd be between 100 and 1000 dollars to upgrade. We got our names on a list, and then proceeded to wait. Forever. And ever. And finally the lady came out, and instead of having the courtesy to walk to the group of folks waiting on her (maybe 75 - 100 of us), she allowed herself to be stopped by an irate group of about 6 or 8 folks and she didn't budge. We finally gave up and just got on the ship. I couldn't imagine the embarking process going any worse than it did. We ended up in our original stateroom that we booked. The sad thing is, I would've even been willing to pay for the upgrade, but the Los Angeles RC crew didn't give us the time of day to do so. I'll definitely try to avoid cruising out of LA in the future. At this point, we were regretting booking the cruise. It was a terrible start to our week, and even though some of the ground staff were very friendly and helpful, ultimately, it really tried our patience and if you would've asked me then if I would ever sail RC again, I wouldn't have let you finish the sentence before saying "Absolutely not."Now, on to the positives, because everything else was positive!Public Rooms. No lack of em! Our favorite was Ellingtons on the 15th floor. I devoured many oreo milkshakes there. We enjoyed the promenade alot too. The theatre was very nice. We didn't try out the smaller movie theatre. The ice-skating rink/Studio B was great too. All of the public areas were great and the service was great too.Our Cabin (6109) was nice, but our stateroom attendant was superior. He took awesome care of us. We took afternoon naps several times. We never woke up because of anything we heard except on the first two nights, where the swells were very high. We heard the waves crashing on the front of the boat a few times and that was loud enough to rouse us.Fitness and Rec. We didn't do anything but play putt putt. We decided to just be lazy this week. We did have a spa treatment, which was nice, but pricey. Same for the hair salon. The people working those stations were very friendly and helpful, but most services were above what we were willing to pay.Rates - well, we could've spent more money, and could've spent less. Some things were reasonable and some things were quite high. The fountain drink package was a saver, even though it was expensive in its own right. If we wouldn't have purchased that for both of us, we would've racked up quite a bill in cokes. It ran about 40 or 50 per person. We didn't have alcohol, so I can't comment on those rates. The pictures were nice, and at 20 bucks, weren't too bad. We ended up with 2 really nice 8 x 11 portraits as keepsakes. And don't buy the RC wear on the first few days. On the last few days, they have a big sale, and some awesome stuff is 50 percent off. I made some great purchases right there in the promenade for some really nice clothing.Dining. I expected to not be overwhelmed here because of the reviews. Maybe it is because I am a first time cruiser, but I thought this was a highlight of our trip. The dining was fantastic, bar none. We ate in Windjammer for the first 2 days (we ate there on day 1, liked it, and returned for day 2). Finally on day 3 we went to our assigned dining time (Rhapsody dining room, 8:30 dining time) and we went there from then on out. It was so nice. The food was wonderful. Alex, our waiter from India, and his assistant, were by far the best waiters I have ever had in my entire life (no kidding, they were that awesome!). They both had our names down the 2nd night and we didn't have to ask for anything. He spoiled us. My entire table (9 of us) wanted to take him home with us. We might have been abit worried about sitting with strangers, but this ended up as a highlight of our trip too. We made great friends and we are so glad we didn't get a table for 2 (and thus, not meet anyone). On the first night, we also ate at Portofino for the Murder Mystery Dinner and the food there was fantastic too! But the main dining room was the food highlight of our trip.Entertainment. There was a constant variety of things to do at all times. We didn't do nearly everything, but we experienced quite a bit. So much to do. Some of the highlights for us personally - The Quest (big scavenger hunt, I never laughed so loud in my life), the Love and Marriage game show, the comedians and jugglers, and the ice skating spectacular. All of these were just excellent. The cruise director, Ken, and his staff made these things even better. I only wish I could've seen more. The first two nights were rougher on us as far as bedtimes go, but we were able to actually watch the shows we missed on the television in the stateroom, so that was pretty cool too.Service. I saw some lower reviews in service, but I didn't see this at all. As I already mentioned, those who took care of us did so in a wonderful fashion, and the entire crew seemed friendly and always said hello and did their best to make our time a pleasant time.Excursions. We ended up only going on one, the whale watching trip with Orca Spirit in Victoria. Highly recommend, with weather as quite a variable.Our disembarkation and transfer back to LAX went much better than day 1. It was smooth and we made it to LAX in more than enough time. Read Less
Sail Date May 2009
First, let me explain our cruise plans.  We had been planning this "wonderful family trip" to Mexico for over 2 years.  My son was on a church mission and returned last winter.  Instead of going to pick him up, we decided to ... Read More
First, let me explain our cruise plans.  We had been planning this "wonderful family trip" to Mexico for over 2 years.  My son was on a church mission and returned last winter.  Instead of going to pick him up, we decided to take the entire family adults (3 additional married sisters ranging from 25 to 33 and their husbands) on a cruise vacation as a "Welcome Home Party".  I was so disappointed when RC cancelled our trip to Mexico that I even tried to reschedule to the Caribbean, but it was almost impossible due to the length of time we had until our trip.  I understand RC and their reasoning and feel they did everything within their power to make it an enjoyable experience.  They agreed to lower our price and made some other concessions and after reviewing our options and the money we would lose by cancelling our airline tickets, we decided to just go ahead and do it. EMBARKATION - One of my daughters had made the transfer arrangements from the airport to the port and everything worked just fine.  The only issue was our decision to fly into Long Beach Airport because it was closer and a little cheaper.  We thought we could get a bite to eat prior to going to the port, due to my experience with another cruise line a few years ago where it took forever to register and board.  The food at the airport was almost non-existent, but we did have a nice ice cream treat while waiting for our ride.  I was prepared for the worst at the port.  SURPRISE!!  We arrived a little later than most (3:00 PM) due to our connections and it was so slick I cannot even believe it.  From baggage scanning to walking on the ship took no more than 10 minutes and 8 of this was spent walking.  When you handle this many people, I just expect to stand it lines, but it was a real relief.  By the time we arrived and unpacked it was Bon Voyage and we were off. THE SHIP - Mariner of the Seas is a tremendous ship.  It was built in 2004 and is now over 5 years old, but she does not look her age.  One of my son in laws commented about another cruise ship parked next to us that had areas of rust on her hull.  None of this was observed on Mariner of the Seas.  The carpets all appear almost brand new and I did not notice many areas of wear.  While we were there, a continual repair and upgrade was going on.  Two holes on the miniature golf course were in a state of being repaired and a couple of the benches around the two family swimming pools were also being repaired.  Neither of these were an inconvenience to a great degree.  Instead, they added reinforcement that the company actually cares about the ship and keeping it in good shape.  The ride was generally smooth and enjoyed by all; although one son in law did experience seasickness one evening due to rough seas.  (I would encourage everyone to bring a supply of seasickness patches or pill to assist with this.)  The rest of our group, although they could feel the roll of the ship from time to time, were not affected to any great degree.  It was actually a little fun stumbling down the hallways from time to time.  The ship looked wonderful from the theatre to the spa with little need for repairs.  I was particularly impresses with the bow-thrusters and the full rotating stern drive that allowed us to easily approach the piers.  It was a pleasure to ride on this ship. ACCOMODATIONS - We had originally selected adjoining cabins with balconies.  All of the rooms were very nice.  Needless to say, they are smaller than they appear on the web site, but that is to be expected and was not a big deal after the initial shock.  We did have some minor issues with heating and the like, but based on the total experience, these were only minor inconveniences since we came to play.  Our cabin steward, like all service on this RC trip was outstanding.  I remember asking her to see if she could have someone check into the heating issue.  By the time we returned the hallway wall was torn apart and the repairman satisfactorily resolved the issue. FOOD AND DINING - We had requested the 6:00 PM dining and had requested to all sit together.  What a treat!  We were on the outside of the Sound of Music (Deck 5) right by the windows.  It was nothing short of spectacular!  (Two of the seven nights we had dolphins racing outside our windows.)  Our waiter and assistant waiter were outstanding.  We ate all dinners but one in the dining room and after the first night, we were on a first name basis.  I had read a number of reviews that were not complimentary of the food in the formal dining rooms.  I did not find this to be the case.  Living in a small town in Utah, our dining options are limited, but our three daughters also felt the same way.  They live in larger communities (one just outside of Seattle) and each one of them were very pleased with the dinners.  Our son-in-laws also enjoyed the ability to order multiple main courses which added to their satisfaction.  Given the task of feeding 1,000+ two times a night, I found the food very good.  We failed to eat in the dining room for breakfast and lunch so I cannot give any opinion of these meals, but I heard nothing but good comments from everyone I talked with.  The food on the Windjammer was also good, given the situation. (Some might refer to this as average.) There were usually several specialty items that changed throughout the week, but most of the food was consistent and very acceptable.  We ate at the Windjammer and the Jade every morning and although challenged to eat as a family, we could usually find tables close together.  Again the service was outstanding.  I have taken one previous cruise about 3 years ago on another cruise line.  I work in the services industry and do not remember the service that we received at that time.  To me, this means it was not special.  That is not the kind of service that I received on RC.  It was outstanding!  Staff was always on hand to meet your every need.  Beverages were constantly refreshed and the tables were always clean when we arrived.  (All of the boys purchased unlimited soft drink plans which I would recommend to everyone traveling with young adults, although one son in law did express his dissatisfaction that only Coke, Diet-Coke and Sprite were available.)  My daughter from Seattle went to dinner at Portofino, the Italian specialty restaurant.  She was thrilled with the food and the service and had an outstanding experience.  We had originally planned to dine at Chops - the steakhouse, but since the food was so good at the dining room, I could not get any of the others to join me.  We had all planned on attending Johnny Rockets for lunch, but it was so busy most of us could not get in.  One of my daughters endured the long wait and had an enjoyable meal, in fact; one son-in-law talked all of the boys into going back for a late night feast of onion rings and malts. We also enjoyed the unlimited soft serve yogurt and the Ben and Jerry's station. The one area I had a complaint with is the food available during off dining hours. The only real place to eat was at the Promenade Cafe, where food selection was quite limited.  Also, I believe RC should have other drinking options besides coffee, tea and water.  For those of us that do not drink coffee and tea, this was very limited and disappointing.  I would like to see the lemonade offered at the Windjammer also available at the cafe.  Other food options should include a limited salad bar for those not wanting to eat straight carbohydrates and sugar.  The seating is also limited and was often completely full, although during the late night you could usually find a place to sit and enjoy yourself.  I would also like to add that all of my family did not feel this way.  Some felt that the situation was just fine, but I would like to see a more balanced approach during off dining hours.  On my previous cruise, the food bar (similar to the Windjammer) was open 24 hours a day with great variety to the menu. DRINKING ESTABLISHMENTS - I cannot remember the number of bars on the Mariner.  Someone told me there were 17, maybe this is true.  As a non-drinker, this did not bother me from the sense that I am sure RC generates a substantial amount of income from this activity.  I was put-off by the fact that other types of facilities were lacking.  RC puts a lot of advertising into the fact that they are the "Why Not" company and almost all advertising include families and young married individuals.  Although I would immediately agree that we are in the minority (as non-drinkers), I could see some people not returning to RC due to the imbalance of drinking establishments and the lack of family friendly dining on the promenade.  ENTERTAINMENT- Wow is all I can say!  I was referred to RC by a friend who was a travel agent for several years.  She stated that given the age of those going, RC was the only logical choice and she was so right!  I have two acquaintances that recently cruised on other lines.  One is about the age of my children and the other is slightly younger than my wife and I.  (She had actually cruised on Mariner several years ago, but elected to go on another cruise line because of location, price and availability.) Both had poor experiences and were not pleased with their cruises.  The shows were all excellent.  The singers and dancers did a very good job while the specialty acts were also very good to excellent.  One of my daughters likes to do Karaoke, so we spent some time doing that which was interesting and enjoyable.  CRUISE DIRECTOR - Ken Rush - This man knows what he is doing!  I do not know his background, but he was a great MC and knew what to say and when to say it.  I talked with him briefly and found he was only filling in on a short term basis on the Mariner, although he did work here several years ago.  He will be taking out the Oasis of the Seas in January and his participation on that ship makes me want to go and sail on the Oasis.  If he is in charge of the program, I am sure it will be top notch.  I also found him very personable and willing to stop and talk with you at any time for any reason.  A great guy as far as I am concerned. OTHER ACTIVITIES - One of the reasons that we chose RC were the other activities and we were not disappointed.  The only negative item was the raining days in and around Seattle.  The pools were almost deserted, but we did manage to visit the hot tubs almost every night before going to bed.  Almost the entire family would go together and it was a great time to reflect upon the activities of the day.  The climbing wall was a definite hit.  We visited there on Friday as we were returning to LA and it was nice and warm.  We also visited the miniature golf, basketball, ice skating rink and the spa.  My wife and the three girls all attended sessions at the spa.  Although we did not spend huge amounts of money, they enjoyed their visits and found the staff very professional and friendly.  Some of the guys tried to attend the gym and enjoy the exercise equipment, but with the number of people on board, RC just cannot handle the numbers in the early morning hours.  The rest of the day, was not an issue, but from 7-9 AM it was very busy. One of my daughters who visited the gym repeatedly told me that this only occurred at the beginning of the cruise and it was not a problem later in the week. EXCURSIONS - We had scheduled three excursions for Mexico which were all arranged through RC and were we glad we had done so.  All three were quickly cancelled and credited back to my Visa card.  Due to some unusual circumstances, we elected to do it on our own this time around.  This was due to one of my children living around Seattle and another one that lived in Astoria at one time.  Each one of them took charge in their particular area and all came off without problem.  We were able to visit Cannon Beach and also the school from Kindergarten Cop and the Goonies House in Astoria.  In Seattle, we really appreciated the bus to the Space Needle and then visited Pike Street Market, Underground Seattle and Ye Olde Curiosity Shop down on the wharf.  We had lunch at Ivar's on the wharf which is always good.  In Victoria, we wanted to do something exciting, and I had found a ZIPLINE company, but also wanted to see Butchart Gardens.  Due to the rainy weather we decided the gardens should win out.  It was a spectacular experience, but would encourage using the ships excursions for such an outing since we spent a lot of our time waiting for the city bus to arrive downtown. Fortunately, we were able to go and return without any problems.  We also were able to visit the Empress Hotel and do some shopping downtown. SUMMARY - I started this cruise with a definite dissatisfaction, but this quickly changed.  I was overwhelmed with the customer service that was provided almost every time you turned around.  Stateroom assistants were excellent and so were the dining room staff both in the formal dining room and the Windjammer.  Food was better than expected and the responsiveness of the waiter and assistant waiter was outstanding.  We loved the outdoor activities and the skating rink, and the hot tub was a total success.  Although I do have some reservations in the area of promenade food and drink, I found the total experience outstanding and have already recommended RC to several friends and acquaintances.  Way to go RC!  We will definitely use your services in the future and encourage all we know to do the same.  Read Less
Sail Date May 2009
We were visiting San Diego when we observed numerous ships docking. Those with Mexican Riviera destinations had nowhere to go. Next day I got on the internet and discovered huge bargains. I contacted my travel agent and we were booked. I ... Read More
We were visiting San Diego when we observed numerous ships docking. Those with Mexican Riviera destinations had nowhere to go. Next day I got on the internet and discovered huge bargains. I contacted my travel agent and we were booked. I immediately contacted friends in San Francisco and Seattle to arrange get togethers. We are in our early 60's and had previously sailed with HAL, Carnival and Princess. At times I will use such cruise lines as a comparison.The embarkation was basically sit and wait. We sat on plastic chairs for about 1 hour since our 11:00a.m arrival. We spent the time talking to other passengers, everyone was friendly and excited. We boarded around noon and went to the Windjammer buffet since our cabins were not ready until 1:00p.m. on the dot. This ship is HUGE. It dwarfed all our prior ships. It's primary focus is deck 5 which is described as the "Promenade". It duplicates the main street of a small town with shops, complimentary light meal and pastry cafe, wine bar, and a small stage for entertainment. It is also a 7 deck atrium which encompasses almost the entire length of the ship. We were impressed. This was the place to go so you do not have to linger in your cabin.Speaking of cabins, ours was in deck 2, ocean view. I prefer lower decks due to motion sickness. Seasickness was not a problem since the seas were calm and this huge ship can seem to override most choppy waves. I stopped taking bonine the third day. The cabin was 161 square feet, the same as Princess but smaller than Carnival or HAL. The configuration differed from Princess. Thus the Princess cabin had more closet space but less area to stand and walk in. In addition it had a small sofa. Both had small baths. However, the shower on this ship had a slidding shower enclosure which gives you more space and spares you from the dredded shower curtain assault.Our first port was San Francisco and Fisherman's Wharf. It was cold and windy, verifying Mark Twain, who pronounced "The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco!" We visited a free carnival machine museum and a WWII submarine then dined with friends at a local Italian restaurant. Don't miss Boudin's bakery. Their display showed a 6 foot baked bread alligator. They are famous for their soup in a sourdough bun.Next stop was Victoria B.C. The temperature was 88 degrees. A record.We toured Craigdarrock Castle which is a huge mansion built by a coal baron. Then we went to the Butchart Gardens which are beautiful. My wife is a docent at Descanso Gardens in L.A. and she was impressed. The Empress Hotel looked more spectacular outside than inside.Next stop was Seattle. Again record heat, 87 degrees. We met a friend at Pike's Place Market and had lunch at Turkish Delights which serves delicious and inexpensive Middle Eastern cuisine. At Pike's we observed the legendary fish catching. We then took the monorail to the Space Needle. Again another must. For a large city Seattle seems clean and efficient.Back on board and now to the all important dining. We dined at the main dining room which is a three level set up with each level having it's own name and unique decor. RCCL has been criticized for mediocre food. I disagree. Although not up to HAL standards, the food was good to very good. The desserts were much better than Princess. The service was excellent. Each day our waiter would inform us of the next days activities, both port and dinning choices. Clearly outstanding. The Windjammer buffet was good. During the first days most passengers would line up at the first lines thus causing conjestion. Later on they realized that there were numerous other stations available thus easing the wait.The shows on board were mostly good to average. The ice show was spectacular. Obviously a unique feature. There was nightly entertainment on the Promanade and the many, many, bars. I recommend Ellington's for the slow lane crowd since it offered easy listening sounds, just our speed.The cabin attendants were efficient and did a fine job. Several minor criticisms. Instead of shampoo bottles the showers had a dispenser. This is tacky and Motel 6 ish. The elevators were erratic and at times would go up when it was announced they were going down. At times they would skip your deck while you waited. There were few enrichment lectures. However, the numerous trivia games were well attended.Since school was mostly in session about 200 children were on board. The June 7th sailing was scheduled to have 600+ kids on board. This ship has an incredible amount of children thru teens programs. A must for families. For the older folk I would recommend sailing during the school year or bring the grandkids. All in all a great cruise.               Read Less
Sail Date May 2009
Mariner of the Seas Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.5 4.4
Dining 5.0 4.0
Entertainment 4.5 3.9
Public Rooms 5.0 4.5
Fitness Recreation 5.0 4.3
Family 4.5 4.3
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.9
Enrichment 3.5 3.6
Service 4.5 4.4
Value For Money 5.0 4.0
Rates N/A 4.3

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