215 Royal Caribbean Mariner of the Seas Mexican Riviera Cruise Reviews

Once again, I will make this review short. Simply put this was an awesome cruise and a very nice ship, great food, and the staff were very friendly and great at remembering your name. I went with my Mother, Brother and his Wife and another ... Read More
Once again, I will make this review short. Simply put this was an awesome cruise and a very nice ship, great food, and the staff were very friendly and great at remembering your name. I went with my Mother, Brother and his Wife and another friend and his Wife. We all enjoyed it very much. There are the usual grumpy few staff members that you encounter on every cruise same as passengers. Mexico is a great place to visit and its even better if you can speak a little bit of Spanish that way you can have a little fun in the ports and test out ur communication skills, but you dont need to speak Spanish. A cruise is what you make it, there is no such thing as a bad cruise it just means that it wasnt the best. I will be doing the same ports in April 2012 with my Son, but that will be with Carnival, only because I want to try a different Line out each time!!! Any questions dont hesitate colinneilsen@hotmail.com Read Less
Sail Date August 2011
I will Start with the transfer service From Lax to the port , on the morning of our embarkation the RC representatives met us right where our travel Agent told us they would be , they had a great big yellow flags to identify them and they ... Read More
I will Start with the transfer service From Lax to the port , on the morning of our embarkation the RC representatives met us right where our travel Agent told us they would be , they had a great big yellow flags to identify them and they where the start of the exceptional service we received on our cruise.One of our party had a very late addition to their booking and had to add a transfer ,it was seamless.Our luggage was taken and we were promptly shuttled to the ship. The checking in process was the one of the parts I was dreading because of our previous experience with Carnival. I was totally shocked ! The whole process from getting dropped off by the shuttle to checking in ,getting our sea pass and boarding the ship was only 15 minutes . Royal Caribbean gets an A+ for boarding procedures. The Ship, I had read a few reviews about how the Mariner was worn out and showing its age, I could not disagree more , I found the ship to be exceptionally clean and up to date with no signs of being old or worn out . We even noticed a maintenance person of some sort noting that a small corner was chipped off of a floor tile . We noticed a couple of times a bulb was burnt out ,only to be replaced by the next morning , it tells me that the crew was very intent on keeping up the maintenance. Also let me add that we tried to see every part of the ship and could not believe how tasteful all of the decor was . Again an A+ is in order for the ship. The Service, This was one of two major differences we found between Carnival and Royal Caribbean . We either got lucky and had the best State room attendant and waiters on board or RC holds them to a higher standard than Carnival, I think it is the standards held by RC , because others in our party had other attendants and waiters and had the same service. Our Stateroom attendant Vivian could not have been nicer nor more helpful. Our waiters in the main dining room where Clavain and Mahesh they were simply fantastic, they helped make a secret Marriage proposal go off without a hitch ,as well as provided exceptional service at dinner , I truly feel that the three above mentioned employees are an asset to RC. The Food , this is the other difference between Carnival and RC . Simply put I thought the food was awesome , we ate in the windjammer every day for breakfast, and the dining room all but one night for dinner , we did get a burger at Johnny Rockets, and did eat at Chops Grille one night. We never had a bad meal or bad experience anywhere. Food A ++ Read Less
Sail Date January 2011
Left PHL on USAir at 6:55 AM the day before the cruise just beating out an expected snowfall predicted to leave about 1-2." Plane had to be deiced first which was a unique experience for me. Great flight to Phoenix and after only ... Read More
Left PHL on USAir at 6:55 AM the day before the cruise just beating out an expected snowfall predicted to leave about 1-2." Plane had to be deiced first which was a unique experience for me. Great flight to Phoenix and after only about a 55 minute wait, flew on to LAX. My daughter and granddaughter flew a later United Flight and had to sit on the tarmac for two hours because the snow was falling faster and the deicing line grew longer. We stayed at the San Pedro Doubletree. Very nice room and the staff were exceptionally great. We used their courtesy shuttle to eat at a nearby seafood restaurant for dinner. Not a remarkable meal but all of us were famished after a very long day of traveling. Their shuttle also delivered us to the pier, also for free. Arrived at the pier at about 10:45 AM and dropped the bags off with a porter. With Set Sail pass in hand, signed in easily and quickly. After receiving Sea Pass cards, we were directed to have seats until allowed to board at 11 AM. Out of all my cruises, this was the fastest, best organized embarkation of all. In talking to some of the Royal check in staff at the pier, they were very sad that Royal would no longer be a presence in LA. I 'm sure that there will be a negative economic impact effect on all the restaurants and hotels nearby the port area, too. DAY 2: Sea Day. Although were many miles south of LA, the temperature on deck was only about 50 degrees at about 9 AM. Hopefully, it will warm up later on in the day for some sunning and perhaps time in the pool. DAY 3: Cabo San Lucas: We were allowed to begin tendering from ship to shore at about 10 am. For the amount of passengers on board, the process proceeded smoothly and rapidly. When we got to the pier, we contracted with a water taxi (Brayan Tours) to take my daughter and granddaughter to snorkel at Lover's Beach then taking my wife and I to another beach to sit, soak up some sun, and have some tropical drinks. At a prearranged time, our tour guide would pick up daughter and granddaughter, then come for wife and I so we could all return to the tender. At the tender/port area, we enjoyed a very filling Mexican lunch. Although the food was pretty good, the service was s-l-o-w. There were two very long lines waiting to be tendered. One was for the Mariner and the other for a Carnival ship. The line moved along quickly since there seemed to be an infinite number of tenders operating for both ships. Cabo seemed to be a very desolate place with the exception of beautiful rock formations jutting out of the water. It's not fair for me to harshly judge Cabo since we only got to see a small slice of the place. Day 4: Mazatlan: The day dawned sunny and bright. With absolutely no plans or organized excursions through the ship, we contracted with a taxi to show us the sights and visit a nice beach. What a great day it turned out to be! Our driver was Martin Salazar, a true gentleman and all around great person! He took us first to Royal Villas Resort where we enjoyed a very quiet, very beautiful place full of wonderful amenities for our use. The only charge was for any food or beverages you wanted. The entire staff at Royal was wonderful and pleasant, catering to our every whim. On the beach were parasailing, jet skis, and horseback riding. The ubiquitous beach vendors weren't allowed on the property's terrace which made it all the more "civilized." When Mr. Salazar picked us up at the agreed upon time, we were anxious to get a bite to eat. We asked him to suggest a good place and he recommended Lamar Seafood Restaurant to us. This place was another winner! We had a table overlooking the water, the music was quiet and low-keyed, and the food excellent. After our meal, we were taken on a short tour in the hills overlooking the water. Mr. Salazar pointed out some homes owned by Americans and others and gave us an idea of current real estate values. For about $500,000 really nice place with a stunning view could be all yours. Mazatlan was a shining jewel in my opinion. Naturally, there are all kinds of touristy places since ships come here, but there was a quaint, Mediterranean kind of charm despite the fact it's in Mexico. Every person we met went out of their way to be friendly and hospitiple to the cruise ship visitors. This wasn't a paste on type smile but genuine friendliness. DAY 5: Puerto Vallarta: Out of all the destinations on this voyage, this was by far my favorite. You could spend weeks here and not see 1% of all the beauty or experience all the things there are to do. Puerto Vallarta is both modern yet quaint in so many ways. Like Mazatlan, there seemed to be a certain colonial and Mediterranean flavor to this city. After debarking the ship, we contracted with a taxi driver to show us the sights, take us to a beach, and then to a restaurant before returning to the ship. We had Pedro Vargas for over six hours at a cost of $100 for the four of us. It didn't seem exhorbanant to pay $25/pp but was told later it could have been cheaper. I felt that I got more than my money's worth, however. After taking us high into the hills where the film 'Predator' was filmed, we sat down for a quick snack and a few beers. The bulk of the day was spent at a beautiful beach at Mismaloya Inlet, south of Barcelo Hotel. There, we enjoyed the sun, surf, and spectacular scenery. My wife, daughter, and granddaughter had manicures and pedicures while I had a neck and back massage, all for a very reasonable price. While there, we met Adrian, owner of Sea Adventure, who gave us honest and valuable advice about what things should cost, inside information about Puerto Vallarta, and so much more! I enjoyed talking to him so much that when we next return to this place, I'll either call him or email to have him set up a custom itinerary. He's the type of person you trust instantly and very likable. We wanted some "real deal" Mexican food. Adrian recommended we try Jacalito which wasn't too far from the beach. Our lunch was among the best Mexican food we've ever had. The total bill, for four, was just $50 and well worth it. Keep in mind, Jacalito wasn't a fancy place but a real, down to earth, rustic, quiet place rather off the beaten track. We got back to the ship at about 6 PM as the day faded into evening. I saw the Mariner bathed in lights which was a sight I've never seen before. It seemed 10X larger in the early evening with all her lights on. Quite a sight. Everyone in Puerto Vallarta knew this was the last visit for Mariner and they were visibly sad. Even though January is part of their high season, many have told me that business was just a fraction of what it used to be. More on this further in the review under "Final Thoughts." Day 6: Sea Day: Weather still very warm and most of the day was spent by the pool soaking up the wonderful sunlight. Day 7: Sea day: Moving north, the day wasn't as warm as previously so not much time was spent on deck. It was a good day for just 'goofing off' and enjoying the final hours of the cruise. We all attended "Captain's Corner" to learn some behind the scenes things about the ship. Afterwards, there was a nice question/answer period with the captain. Day 8: Debarkation: We chose the Express Check Out where you take all your bags off the ship yourself. This worked out wonderfully because it saved time retrieving your luggage at the pier. Since we had a rather early flight back to PHL from LAX, we had caught a taxi within minutes of leaving the Mariner and got to the airport in plenty of time. Our flight left exactly on time and actually arrived in PHL about 20 minutes early. The whole debarkation process, including clearing customs, took perhaps 15 minutes. Food: This is always the most subjective part of any cruise review so your mileage may vary. Generally, the quality of food was usually good to very good. On two nights there was prime rib and we got very nice cuts of meat done exactly how we asked. The Windjammer fare wasn't too bad with a very long list of selections that seemed to please everyone. Many have addressed how food quality has declined. My biggest gripe is how bad the coffee was. At one time, they served Seattle's Best ship-wide and it was something I really looked forward to at breakfast. However, whatever they're using now seems to be some generic bargain brand and had little, if any taste. Their juices seemed a bit more watered down and weak compared to years past. Final thoughts: Sailing on Royal's last Mexican Riviera cruise was bittersweet. All my cruises have been on Royal and they have always been perfect. The staff was awesome, as usual, and that's something that always has me coming back. The sad part of the cruise is that Mexican ports of call aren't packing the cruise ships, so more lines will probably concentrate more on other itineraries, primarily in the Caribbean. Although Royal's move to reposition the Mariner was a "business decision," I think it's because travelers are increasingly wary of news about violence and the drug trade in Mexico. I've heard from other passengers that Royal is very worried about liability issues should something happen to their passengers while on a ship sponsored excursion. Although this was my first visit to the Mexican Riviera, t no time did I feel unsafe, threatened, or in any danger. As in any trip, visitors should be wary of their surroundings and be very careful if going somewhere far off the beaten path. Should we not go somewhere because there's a very, very slim chance of violence? With that sort of reasoning, maybe we shouldn't fly since there's a minute chance of crashing. So, no matter where we go or what we do, there's inherent risk involved. Since I enjoyed this vacation and itinerary more than any other, I will make plans on returning next year. I'm toying with the idea of staying at a good, all-inclusive hotel as a base then visiting various sights by taxi. Or, perhaps it will be another cruise with a different cruise line. I am still very loyal to Royal and am sorry to see them leaving this area for greener (more profitable) pastures. If anyone would like further information about my experiences, or additional information not included in this review, please feel free to email me at 'mystyou (at) Comcast.net' Happy cruising! Read Less
Sail Date January 2011
The following is a fairly lengthy cruise summary from our sailing on RCI's Mariner of the Seas. I deliberately didn't use the phrase "cruise review" as I don't think anyone of us that are on vacation is qualified ... Read More
The following is a fairly lengthy cruise summary from our sailing on RCI's Mariner of the Seas. I deliberately didn't use the phrase "cruise review" as I don't think anyone of us that are on vacation is qualified to write a cruise review. That's the job for a professional person that is paid to be picky and be objective about the cruise experience. For the rest of us, when we write about our cruise experience, it's just a summary of past events and not a cruise review per se. At any rate, some background before we began. Middle age family guy with wife and 2 boys (ages 9 and 7) and my in-laws as well - total of 6 of us. This is my eleventh cruise - my youngest kid's fifth cruise and everyone else is in-between in terms of cruising experience. I think cruising is the ultimate family vacation, especially on these mega ships where they have many activities to please multi generations. Also cruising is great in that it's a lazy person's vacation - no worries on preplanning activities on a day to day basis like a driving trip. My only worry is to get us to/from the pier and leave the rest to the cruise line. Here is my personal email at Harryfat@yahoo.com if anyone has a question/comment on what I said. Some comments I am sure are not politically correct, but I try to be as objective as possible, but as discussed above, it's not always possible as this is a summary of past events of our family vacation. SUMMARY - If you don't have the time or patience to wade through all the gibberish below, just know this. Beautiful ship. First couple days my wife and the boys were saying "WOW" every time they walk around the ship and saw something they have never seen in previous ships. Such that my 7 year old said, "This is the WOW cruise" since we said wow everywhere. However, it wasn't a perfect cruise as RCI has some major drawbacks in food and entertainment. So while I will recommend RCI to anyone looking to try a new cruise line for the family vacation, I do want to caution that you need to tone down your expectation on those 2 areas especially if you are coming from another cruise line. Why pick this ship/cruise? Partly due to rotational basis - we like to rotate between cruise lines. We have sailed on Carnival/Princess/HAL/RCI and Celebrity previously, so deliberately are not Homers to any given cruise lines. All cruise lines have its strengths and weakness, just be sure you know what they are before you book yours. RCI announced awhile back that they are abandoning the west coast Mexico cruises and moving Mariner to Texas. So this was our lat chance to catch the last mega liner in the West Coast before she leaves. I have sailed on RCI many years ago on the old Viking Serenade (no longer with the fleet) and have sailed on the 7 night Mexican Riviera itinerary back in 1997, so in some ways this whole cruise was a refresher lesson in history for me. Ship - I don't think I read bad reviews on the layout/design of the Mariner (the fifth and last ship in the Voyager class). Easy to get from one end of the ship to another on deck 4 and 5. Nice muted colors throughout. Promenade deck gives the illusion of being in Europe/Asia where the residential houses are sitting atop of the commercial buildings. If you have never been on the ships with the Promenade decks, you owe it to yourself to see it for yourself. Cabin - Having said that, we booked the 3 cabins on deck 7, overlooking the Promenade deck. Of the 3 cabins, 2 are connecting (for the kids) such that for the 4 of us, we effectively had over 300 square feet of space and 2 bathrooms. Better deal than any balcony or suites for my money. If we sail on another RCI ship with the Promenade view, I would not hesitate to do this connecting cabin arrangement again. Really nice to sit out and catch the parade in the room and people watch down below. Maybe the only thing different I would do is maybe go down to deck 6 to be a little closer to the action and even more center top the bridge area where the singes stand. Food - Granted it's a very subjective matter, but I still want to devote few sentences on it. Obviously one person's great food can be another garbage. That being said, in my personal opinion, RCI probably ranks the lowest in my own when you stack up the various cruise lines we have sailed on. That's not to say someone else can't rank them number 1, but for what we eat and where we eat our meals (no specialty restaurants), RCI does not provide the best cruise out there. Not to say their food is really bad, but they lack in presentation as well as flavoring. Many times the food was either too sweet or too salty. Hard to find a good state in the middle somewhere. Pre-cruise. We drove from the SF bay area down to Torrance the day before the cruise. Stayed at the Stay Bridge Suites as they have big 2 bedroom suites with kitchens that can sleep a family of 6. After checking in, we went to dinner and walked around the shopping area before calling it a night. Day 1 Due to unexpected family emergencies, we were slightly late in arriving at the pier. I had hoped to be at San Pedro no later than 11 AM, but we arrived closer to 12 noon, which is the official arrival time for everyone. So there was a mad rush of people unloading their stuff all along the long stretch curbside. I found a spot near the far end and dropped everything off and I went around parking the van in the open lot. After walking back and meeting up with the rest of the family, they had already found a porter to take all the luggage, so we proceeded to walk toward the terminal. Greeting us was a long line out the door (at least 250+ people) waiting in the blistering LA heat. That took 20 plus minutes before we were inside the building to be in line for one of the 3 security scanners. Once that was done, we filled out our health questionnaires given to us and then stood in another set of lines to check in (around 50+ people) in our lines of decks 3 to 7. Check in itself is pretty straight forward as we had done things online ahead of time. Then we proceeded to go up the escalators to the second floor for a long walk to the alongside the pier where we did the obligatory ship boarding pictures and then we were on board the ship officially. There weren't much instructions from the workers on what's what once you walk in, but I knew from previous experience the first order of business is straight to the buffet line. I had read enough bad things about RCI food so I know to ratchet my expectation down a notch and good thing I did as I was disappointed in the overall quality and presentation on various nights. After lunch, we made our way to the cabins and after settling in, I made my way to deck 5 to change our flexible dining time to 7:30 PM instead. Later on, the cabin steward (Randy from Philippines) showed up and introduces himself. We requested that the connecting door between the 2 cabins be opened and he did that by the evening. As the luggage was arriving slowly, we walked around to explore the ship. I missed having the ship tour like the ones given by Carnival and HAL. On RCI, you are on your own to find out what's what. They do reserve a spot where first time cruisers can go and ask questions, but that's not the same as a walking ship tour. We explored various decks and ended up at the top deck to play miniature golf. My younger son got a hole in one on hole #3 and he was disappointed when I didn't have the camcorder on him in hitting that shot. My bad. Then had to get some water at the pool bar afterward as it was just way too hot in the LA 82+ degree heat in December. After which, it was the mandatory muster drill and like HAL, they also take attendance on what passengers showed up at each station. After all that, the cruise vacation officially begins. Sailing away was a dusk/night given the early winter sunset time. After which, back to the cabin to unpack. And of course, we were missing one suitcase - mine. My cabin steward suggests I go down to security level and see what happened and so I went down to deck 1 security area and there must be at least 300 suitcases in various spots. Found someone there to help me and he asked me if I had liquor in my suitcase - and I don't. So finally found mine on the other side (light blue suit case is great in a sea of black and reds) and they wanted to scan mine once more to make sure it's all good - think it's my computer cables and extension cords that threw them for a loop initially. Anyway, after everything was good, took my suitcase back to the cabin. But by then, my wife had already unpacked the clothes into the 2 cabins and so I had to utilize whatever is leftover and that confused me the rest of the cruise as I had clothes in both cabins and had to go to both sides to get dressed daily. We took the kids to the Adventure Ocean to sign them up for the rest of the week and also checked out the Promenade and went to dinner on deck 5. I had requested a table by the balcony and was granted a nice view table #540 with Lloyd, our waiter. The guy is from India and every night we were there, he would give us a recommendation of the day. If you are on the Mariner and have MTD, request his tables and you won't be sorry. The head waiter came by mid dinner to introduce himself and asked if there was anything we needed from dining the whole cruise. Just ask him for it. I told him we like the table and our set of waiters and asked that we be seated at table 540 the rest of the cruise and he said he will make it happen on the reservation system. After dinner, we walked around the ship some more and checked out the Promenade deck, which changes color/lighting in the evening. Also went to deck 3 to look at the onboard pictures and saw that RCI have kiosks that you can use your room key to access what pictures are linked to your account, a convenient feature. The kids were getting tired by then after a long day so we went upstairs and they waited for the late Promenade parade to start before they went to sleep. Whereas I was finally able to take a shower since I didn't have time to do so before dinner since I had no change of clothes from my luggage to change into. After the parade, we all hit the sack after our first day on the cruise. Oh, BTW, it was a nice parade. Great to watch it from our cabin in our PJ's and not have to fight the crowd for a good spot. I have always said the first day of the cruise is the most hectic as that's when you have so many mandatory activities (i.e. boarding the ship/muster drill) and things are happening really fast while you are trying to absorb the new ship surroundings. Whereas the rest of the cruise, you have ample time to know what's coming around the corner. Someday if they can PDF you the schedule for the first day before you leave for the cruise that would be most ideal for anal people like myself that likes to plan things out way in advance. Day 2 After breakfast, the kids went off to Adventure Ocean and rest of us attended the "Port and shopping talk". Somehow I like to attend all of these things even though I have either been to these ports previously or know enough about them through months of research on cc, so there is in theory nothing to learn from these port talks. Nevertheless, I attend them all as part of the ritual. Makes me feel like a first time cruiser again. But RCI takes these Port talks one step further. The only thing remotely resembling the "port" part of the talk is that they tell you where each stores are in each port. Think the port person gets paid by the number of times he says the words "Diamond International" in his presentation. I would have liked to at least know what excursions are available at the ports - guess would have to just watch the endless loops of excursion info on the TV in the cabin to get that info. The only port part of the Cabo presentation was him showing you on the map how to walk to Diamonds International from the tender dock. Anyway, to say that the whole hour wasn't a waste, they had a raffle drawing at the end to prevent the many people that walked out during the presentation and they called my name in winning the spa treatment. Wooh Hoo! That on top of the free one we got from the TA, we now have spa treatments galore. After that, we picked up the kids and went to the cruise critics meeting. Of all the cruises I have been on, this roll call was the most active by far and the turn out was huge. Over 100 people went and to RCI's credit, they gave out souvenir prizes to all that showed up as well as various other souvenirs prizes for the raffle. We didn't win anything from that, but it was a good chance to say hi to the people that you conversed online and we saw various folks from cc throughout the rest of the cruise. After lunch at Windjammer, went over to the spa to have an idea on what I have won from the raffle drawing and also how does that dove tailed with the free spa treatment we got from the TA. Anyway, they booked us on a back to back spa treatment for 2.5 hours on next day while we are in Cabo (supposedly our free spas can only be used on port days - when the spas are not as popular). The flip side of things is that it cuts our Cabo day short. Don't recall what we did the rest of the afternoon (can't look at the pictures as they were lost). Next thing I recall us doing was we went to the ice show at 4:45 and snagged a decent seat along center ice by row 3. In reading various reviews online, I know this is a not to be missed event and I concur. Bar none, the best entertainment on high seas on all the cruises I have been on. The show was over before 6 and we rushed back to our cabin to shower and change for the 7:30 dinner. This is one occasion where the 2 connecting cabins are great. We sent each of the kids to shower and that made getting ready a much easier process. By time we showed up at dinner, it was a zoo with long lines back up and many people were waiting for their tables as the first wave of cruisers are still lingering over dessert, especially on the formal night, people tend to take their time more. Anyway, even by time we got to the podium, our table wasn't ready from the previous set of diners and after another 10 minutes of standing wait by the door, they gave us another table by the side. Not that the other set of waiters are bad, but they are just not as good as Lloyd and I am glad we were there only for one day as we had our table 540 back to us the rest of the cruise. By time all that was sorted out, we had missed all the shows and captain's welcome and such. Had I known the delay, I would have changed dinner time to 8:15 PM instead and then head off to captain's welcome event and then dinner. Hind sight is 20/20. Oh, well. We just spent the rest of the evening walking around taking pictures on our own as well as with the professional photographers. Day 3 Woke up to bright blue skies in the morning. Cabo was going to be in the 85 range, definitely the hottest day of the entire cruise. By time we ate breakfast and got ready, the ship was already positioned outside the harbor area and getting ready to tender people to Cabo. We went to deck 12 to get some pictures of the town and scenery before headed for the tender. They had the double decker tenders as well as the regular smaller tenders from ashore and it was roomy and comfy and a short ride later, we were in Cabo. On the way to town, I took some pictures of the ship that I thought were good ones of the entire ship (more on that later). Originally we were planning to do the Lover Beach water taxi thing, but due to the free spa treatments later in the day, we had to scrap the lover's beach thing and just settled for walking around. With the notion that we will come back to Cabo someday for the Lover's Beach thing but the spa thing won't be there next time around. Cabo certainly have built up since I was last there 13 year ago. Most touristy of the 3 ports and I can see why many people like it the most. After some walking around and shopping, we headed back to the ship for lunch. The kids went off to Adventure Ocean and the wife and I went to the double spa treatment. I know I will catch flak for saying this, but I just don't understand the cost/benefit of the high end spas. Sure, it's nice, but for the price, it's not worth what you get. Glad the only thing we had to pay was the tips. But I also was expecting that they would be hard to up sell every product they have from the spa and I am pretty good at saying "No, thank you". After spa, went to pickup the kids and got them showered and changed and ready for dinner. Tonight was the flowery dress night so I broke out my Hawaii shirt along with my father in law. Glad to have our table 540 back that night and Lloyd was as happy to see us as well. Nothing like having waiters know that we like hot tea before/during/after dinner (Asian thing) and him knowing what the kids like such that their fruit appetizers showed up as soon as we sat down the remainder of the cruise. I liked my lamb shank that night. Very hefty chunk of meat. After dinner we went to the show. I know entertainment shows are subjective, but I think RCI has the worst entertainment shows at the main theatre of the cruises I have been to. Even with songs I know like Billy Joe and the Beatles, they just don't excite me. I came close to falling asleep near the end. By time we went back to the cabin, that's when I realized that I had lost all of my pictures since the beginning of vacation until midway through the day in Cabo. What the heck? Not happy, but what can you do? At least I found out earlier and still have time to remedy some of the ship based pictures the rest of the cruise. But lost all my boarding and Cabo tender pictures. Day 4 - Stone Island. Our only planned excursion. We opted for a paid tour instead of doing it on our own. I know we can save money by following the detailed instructions of catching the $2 water taxi and so on, but since we were traveling with 2 boys and the in-laws, decided that simplicity is better than frugality. Maybe in future visits, we will opt to do it on our own but for this trip, we went with an independent operator, King David tours (you can find their link via a Google search). They have received good reviews here at cc as well as at tripadvisor. I rate these guys top notch. Next time we are in town, we will use them for other tours. For the price you pay ($35/$25 for adults/kids), it's solid value. The tour guide, Leonardo, is hilarious and took care of everyone on the tour from beginning to end. In all his narrations, he said "How about that? Take a picture" every other sentence. Now 2 weeks after the cruise, my kids still laugh when they repeat that phrase at home. Can't beat that type of experience/memory. That's what family vacation is all about. I have also uploaded our Stone Island pictures in the photo album online. So you can just follow the pictures with my long narrative below to "see" what I am describing. http://travel.webshots.com/album/579370943PDRfZC The morning we arrived at Mazatlan (December 15, 2010), it was foggy and cool. Our ship was delayed in getting into the port by almost half an hour due to the heavy fog outside the harbor. So by time we got off the ship, it was later than the stated time to join the tour, but the King David folks waited for everyone to disembark before they loaded the group onto various trucks to take us to the dock to start the tour. Originally the tour includes a one hour harbor bay tour to see the caves and sea lions, but due to the fog, that was canceled. Bummer. Can't do much about that. Such is nature of traveling. So they just took us straight to Stone Island instead. Not a bad thing, I guess, since we had more time there. Once the boat docked, we were onboard the famous "Mexican Limo" tractor. As Leonardo said before we boarded, please be careful and not to break any windows while we are on it. From there, it was a brief 10 minutes ride to the restaurant, Molokay. Think the King David Company more or less books the restaurant exclusively for their tour groups (I head there were 5 different tour groups there that day). There may have been some non tour folks there, but they are the exception. So we picked a table and camped out for the rest of the day. For the rest of the morning, the kids played in the sand. The water temperature in a cool day was too cold to swim, so even though we brought swimming trunks, we never changed into them. The weather cleared up after lunch, so if you are looking at the pictures, you will see a big difference between the earlier beach pictures with the later ones in terms of fog/sunshine. The lunch itself is decent. No coconut giant shrimps as described on other threads. Guess that's the difference in going on your own versus the packaged tour food. No matter, not like it was going to ruin our day with or without the shrimps. One thing you do get with the tour is open bars. All you care to drink during the time you are there on the Island - you can see form he picture that many people like my wife all lined up at the end of the tour on the last call to have one more drink for the road (hey, why not, it's not we are driving). Think I had 3 cocktails and 1 Pepsi. Life is good when the biggest decision of the day was deciding between getting a Mai Tai or Tequila Sunrise. I couldn't decide, so I had both. As part of the tour package, each person can participate in 2 activities. Since it was too cold to swim, we opted for the land based activities. As a family, we first tried the 1 horse power carriage. It was a private tour in that it was only the 6 of us on it when it was our turn. We took a tour of the village area. The kids and in-law liked it. After that, we went back to the beach area to enjoy the sun that finally broke out. Later on, the wife and I opted for horseback riding as part 2 of the activities list while the kids and the in-laws opted out. She thinks she has the prettiest horse and I concur. Much better than mine. I think I had the biggest horse of the group and as such, he wanted to be the "leader" and always wanted to b in the front and couple times I was sandwiched in between horses and my horse was trying to squeeze in-between and trying to get to the front. One time even went off trail and our horse guide from behind had to rein him back to the trail. Anyway, it was an interesting event. After that, it was time to head back to the ship. So as previously discussed, everyone lined up for that last round of refreshment and we headed back to the dock. Going back, we were one of the last ones to board, so we ended up in the smaller truck instead of the tractor. So we got to ride in on both types of transportation - the smaller truck went faster on a short cut and provided more excitement going back. A quick 10 minute ride back to the dock, during which we each got our personal souvenir. After that, a transfer onto the 45 passenger big bus and we were back at the cruise terminal with plenty of time to spare. Mariner of the Seas passengers never switched to local time, so from our perspective, we joined the tour around 8:45 AM and came back around 2:45 PM (everyone else needs to add 1 hour for local time). Like I said previously, solid excursion experience. I know it can be done on your own for less and you have more freedom if you choose to do it on your own, but as far as tour excursions goes (and for simplicity sake), I rate these guys very highly and if anyone is interested in doing Stone Island during your visit to Mazatlan, put them on your short list of options. So after getting back from Stone Island, showered and changed just in time to watch the Sapphire Princess pull out of town as they head north up to Cabo while we headed south. Got a nice picture of them next to the Carnival Spirit that we were on exactly 2 years ago. Went to the Windjammer and grabbed some light munchies to eat ahead of dinner in couple hours. While we were there, we saw the Spirit pulling out as well in the night, leaving us the last ship in town. For dinner, had the crab salad, cold berry soup and seafood pasta with banana crème boulee as appetizer. Went to another show tonight and then off to bed as we woke up early this morning with a long but satisfying day. Day 5 Woke up with the ship already docked at PV, with the Carnival Spirit next to us once again. Surprising that Windjammer was pretty crowded given it's a port day, but guess since we are docked all day long with a late departure, many people didn't feel the need to rush off the ship. After breakfast, went up to the top deck once more for some pics and then headed out. PV is certainly the most laid back of the 3 ports in terms of vendors trying to sell us stuff. Cabo was the most aggressive of the 3 ports we were on, but that is nothing compared to the Acapulco taxi drivers from our visit 2 years ago. Had one guy that literally walked with me for 100 feet asking where I am from and telling me why I should book with him. In comparison, sure love the laid back feeling of PV. We took the shuttle that drove us to the beach zone for $4/pp. If you want the shopping area, that is $3/pp. But I wanted to start from the south end and walk back along the water front as I know there is a lot of scenery there. So after walking back up and stopping by the church area and various shops, we saw some really nice sand castle art work. Various folks were spraying water on them to keep them moist. After that, we decided to head back to the ship for a late lunch. Found a big van taxi that could fit all 6 of us and since we were in the different zone, only $3/pp. After lunch, the wife and the in-laws went across the street to the shopping area (i.e. Wal-Mart) to buy my sister the chili lime popcorn that she loves but can't get them at the regular stores. Meanwhile I went swimming with the boys at the pool area. A lot less crowded by the pool area during port days. Afterwards, we went back to the cabin, showered and just relaxed in the cabin as I people watch from our PR cabin. Really like that view. Soon after, my wife and the in-laws came back from shopping and we went out to see the Mariner cast off from the pier. I have to say that of all the ships I have been on, the Mariner has the most well lid outside Promenade walking area. No other ships lights up the area like the Mariner - other ship designers must assume people don't walk outside after dark. But I do miss the teak wood deck that's more common of other cruise ships not found on the Mariner. For dinner, had the lam chops. Easily the best meal on the whole cruise. Real nice flavoring with lots of herbs. After dinner, we attend the ventriloquist show and to top off the evening, they had the 70's music dance party on the Promenade. That is easily the longest parade/party out of the 3 for the cruise. Lasted almost 30 minutes with various hit songs from the 70's. For old folks like myself, it brings back the oldies of Bee Gees as well as the usual favorite YMCA. The cruise director is certainly all into it with his white suit and wig. There's something to be said about several hundred people dancing to the 70's music in the middle of the ocean in Mexico. Especially these are the older folks that have gone past the prime of the disco era and many likely won't go to the late night discos, but with this 70's dance party, they can all still dance at the Promenade. Guess that's the target audience for this music. Not sure the 18 year old crowd listening to the rap music will be all into this scene - it's more for their parents. As before, saw the show upstairs from our cabin and went to sleep at 11 something. Day 6 Started to head back up north and as typical of this itinerary, the ship started to rock the most that day of the entire cruise. As a precaution, took a bonine myself and gave half to each of my kids. After breakfast, went to the towel folding demonstration. Unlike Carnival from 2 years ago, RCI just shows you how it's done versus Carnival which gives towels for you to try yourself and they also sell a book on towel folding. So as demonstration goes, it's pretty blah. Just 5 animals later and you are done. After which, the wife started to do some serious shopping on the ship for the folks back at home. Then we went top side to watch the belly flop contest and a late lunch thereafter. Think the bonine made me really groggy and I was tired after the big meal and took a long nap in time to shower and changed into the second formal night. After more picture taking everywhere else on the ship, we went to dinner. Had the lobster for dinner but ordered one extra prime rib for "the table" for my wife and I to share with my older son. In hindsight, maybe should have ordered two, but we were short on time. Another thing RCI doesn't do is baked Alaska. Yes, I know, some say it doesn't taste that great, blah blah. But for me that's another one of the traditional cruise fares I enjoy that is missing on RCI. When we came out, we saw the captain taking with someone at the Promenade and I asked if my boys can take a picture with him since we missed him o the first formal night. He was very nice and chatted with my younger son for awhile. So he finally got his wish to meet with the captain. Went to another blah performance by the Royal Caribbean singers. Slightly better than the other nights but certainly nothing to write home about. Definitely not the top things they do well. Day 7 The seas have calmed down as we went past the Cabo area. No need for any meds today. Somewhat partly cloudy but wasn't as cold as I had feared for a December sea day out in Baja area - but it was windy outside the deck area. One good thing about this itinerary is that it gives you two days on the back end so you feel more relaxed & rested as you head back home with the extra day to be in the sea. But this being day 7, it meant everything has to be done by the end of the day as there's no tomorrow. After breakfast, headed off to the "Captain's Corner" whereby you get to hear the captain describing the operations on the ship and get to ask questions. While that's a good forum, I miss having the captain's farewell like I have seen on every other cruise line, including Celebrity cruise. I miss having the various departments on the ship coming out to say goodbye at the debarkation talk. So essentially RCI has no debarkation talk live. It's done via recording by the cruise director and you just watch the endless loop on TV. I am sure people will say they don't miss the debarkation talk. That's fine, but put it on for the rest of us that likes it and our last opportunity to give standing ovation for people that served us the whole cruise. I would have been very happy if they could have both activities. Or at the minimum have the crew comes out at the end of captain's corner. After captain's corner, we rushed out to see the cooking demo. Being held at a very small area right as you walk into the Windjammer. Way too small area for this venue compared to what Princess or HAL offered in our previous cruises. Since we had to stand on the side and toward the back, we left shortly thereafter. Then we went over to the back stage production tour to see what the show's back stage looked like. While that was interesting to see and talk to the various folks involved in the production shows, the whole process wasn't as "wow" as I had hoped. Guess instead of just talking about how they changed into various costumes it'd be better if they can give us some demonstrations on what they do. Way too much talking and zero demonstration. Time for late lunch and just walking around the various ship area taking the last minute pictures of places that we have missed. Then went to the photography area to buy up the place. As is typical, our family buys the most of all the pictures amongst the various cruisers on the ship. Day 7 is always the busiest time for photograph purchases as everyone waits until the end to pick the pictures they like, so it was a mad house in the area and as always, my wife and the in-laws just take all the pictures we took (I estimated to be at least 80+) and spread them out on the floor to compare and contrast the ones they wanted. After that, time to go back to the cabin and start the packing process. Always amazed how much stuff we over pack as we always assume we need more clothes than we actually need for the cruise and adding the fact that we always buy new clothes during the cruise as part of eth souvenir, so we always end up going home with stuff we never wore. Anyway, after packing and doing all the administrative stuff like the cruise satisfaction survey and customs declaration forms, we showered and headed out for one last evening around the ship. They had the singing waiters out one last time and then we bid farewell to the ding room attendants as we enjoyed the time we spent in the dining area. One last trip around the Promenade area for shopping and pictures and then back to the cabin as we had to wake up earlier on the last day of the cruise. But not before catching the third and final night time parade around 10:30. They had the crew various departments coming out, but that was a very small representative sample (say like 2 per department). Still would have liked the other cruise liens approach of bringing them all out at the stage during the day. As far as parade goes, this one has the most elaborate costumes and props. So if you only have the time/energy to catch one night time parade, this is the one to catch. Then put the luggage outside the hallway and called it a day. Day 8 - Woke up to rain in San Pedro area. Big difference from just 7 days ago when we sailed away in 82 degree weather. Today was in the low 60's and rain greeting us as we woke up. Up to Windjammer one last breakfast on board. Since we had requested one of the last tickets to be off the ship (#20), we were in no hurry to eat/get off the ship. By time we fished breakfast, headed back to the cabin to get the one carryon luggage and then we caped out at deck 5 of the Promenade deck for some water and played cards to past the time. We were supposed to be at the Savoy Theater by 9:50 per the ticket time for group 20, but we never made it down there. Around 10 AM, we heard the announcement that the last call to get off the ship has been issued, so we just walked down one deck and exited on Promenade deck 4. After going down the elevator, we retrieved out luggage amongst whatever is still left in the big warehouse area. Easy to find our luggage when there's only less than 200 left. Easy customs question/answer session and then we walked across the parking lot with all our luggage and loaded up the stuff. The rain had stopped during the walk to the parking lot, but started to come down hard at the ending part of the process and anytime I came back to the van, I was pretty much soaking wet. Missed the indoor parking of Long Beach pier. After paying and exiting the lot, got on the freeway and headed up north. The drive through LA was a breeze considering it was raining buckets. No stopping to speak of on the 405 drive up north, but lots of stops after the 5 and 405 merger up north by the Palmdale 14 area. And couple big accidents along I-5 also made going slow at times. The rain didn't let up until we got past the Buttonwillow area. We got home around 6 PM. Overall it was a solid cruise. RCI builds the worlds prettiest ships in their color design as well as their innovations of what to bring to a cruise. These guys really think outside the box on what it can be done on a cruise ship. For the traditionalist, that's not a good thing as the main emphasize is not to look outside as much as it's to look inside. Other than just couple occasions we never really made it out to the outside deck 4 to walk around like we typically do on the precious cruises. We were to busy taking pictures of the rest of the ship inside to be looking outside. In that sense Mariner was probably the right ship type for the Mexican Riviera where there are only 3 ports, so the extra sea day is great when there's a nice ship to occupy your time and energy. Probably won't be until after 2014 when the build the new locks at the Panama Canal before RCI will send another mega ship out to the west coast permanently. For those RCI fans in the west coast, they'd need to fly to at east Texas to sail on a RCI ship on a regular basis - unless they do the Alaska sailing during the summer months. In final analysis, RCI does many things well (beautiful ship/innovative venues), but also missed on other things (balh food). Everyone has always asked me what my favorite cruise line is since I cruise often, but I have always said I don't have one as each one ahs its set of strengths and weaknesses. It just depends on what you are looking for on your cruise bad set the expectation at a reasonable level in picking the right cruise line for yourself. Just be sure to match up the strengths of the cruise lien with your highest priority - for example, if you want great food, don't pick RCI. If you a fun cruise, don't pick Celebrity. If you want a cruise to be pampered with service, don't pick Carnival and so on. For us, the cruise was solid experience. Notwithstanding its shortcomings, RCI does a great job to entertain the passengers with ice shows/parades and beautiful ships. I would have no problem taking the family on RCI cruise if the price is right. I typically plan 2 vacations at a time in that I know where I will go on a cruise after the one I am sailing on so that I have something to forward to when I disembark the current cruise. Previously I had thought I will be going back to the Caribbean for 2011 and we still may, but after this cruise, the convenience of just driving down to LA and board the ship versus flying to eat coast and deal with flights/crowds in December is making me wary to just go ahead with the Caribbean cruise without some more thought. But wherever we end up, RCI will be on the short list of possible cruise line we are considering. RCI typically has a price premium on their cruises over the other mass market cruise lines due to their big mega ships and after having been on one of them, not sure if I am willing to pay that price premium over and over every time I cruise. That's a personal decision everyone ahs to make. Think for myself, if I can get RCI cruise to be within $100 of other cruise lines, I would pick RCI. But if the price premium is more than $100/pp, I would opt for something else. Anyway, think that's all I have to say. Thanks for reading this to the end for those that stuck with me on the long and windy road. If you read this whole thing, you need a vacation more than me. Regardless, like I said in the beginning, email me if you have any questions or comments on what I wrote at Harryfat@Yahoo.com. Read Less
Sail Date December 2010
This is our 30th cruise and the 3rd on the Navigator. Too bad this is the last month it will be sailing out of Los Angeles, or the West Coast for that matter. RCCL is pulling all of it's ships out of the West Coast at least until 2013 ... Read More
This is our 30th cruise and the 3rd on the Navigator. Too bad this is the last month it will be sailing out of Los Angeles, or the West Coast for that matter. RCCL is pulling all of it's ships out of the West Coast at least until 2013 because that's as far out as their brochures go. From L.A. it's going to Brazil for a month and then to Europe and then on to Houston, TX where it will be based. Houston's gain is our loss. We live in Pasadena, CA so we're only about 30 minutes from the cruise terminal so it is very convenient for us. Now that RCCL won't have any ships going out of the West Coast to Mexico, we'll have to go back to Princess, which we don't really care for since they were taken over by Carnival some years back.....As a ship's officer on Princess told me about 4 years ago, they have been Carnivalized LOL. Embarkation was easy as usual, went right up to the balcony room on the 7th floor (on the bump out portion in the center) and the room was ready. Clever, the steward was wonderful and our waiter and asst. waiter were great as well. We were on the same side of the ship and one story below where our room was last year. Room is very quiet and no one can look down into your private balcony space. All the food was good, the proper temperature and very tasty. We had no complaints at all and the value was superb. We cruise a week before Christmas because it's 1/2 the price and we would rater be home to fly off to Honolulu and spend Christmas there. Enjoy the Navigator of the Seas, Houston. Read Less
Sail Date December 2010
This was our first experience with Royal Caribbean and will not be our last. The food, entertainment, staff and the ship itself were exceptional. Firstly, if anyone could fault the food on offer, then they are hard to please. It was of ... Read More
This was our first experience with Royal Caribbean and will not be our last. The food, entertainment, staff and the ship itself were exceptional. Firstly, if anyone could fault the food on offer, then they are hard to please. It was of high quality and standard equivalent to a five star hotel. The entertainment and activities offer met the needs for all ages in our party and no one was disappointed with anything on offer. The staff went out of their way to ensure that all your needs were met and that you were not wanting for anything. The ship was well appointed and provided all the activities and adventure for all ages to enjoy from morning to night. Anyone who can find fault with anything on offer is only looking for fault. I would recommend cruising with Royal Caribbean, it is unfortunate that the grand lady Mariner of the Seas will not be cruising the same region shortly as she ventures to Europe. The value offered and the services provided exceeded all expectations and would happily cruise with Royal Caribbean again. Read Less
Sail Date December 2010
This will be a long review because I want to include as much as I can for those of you traveling with tweens and/or teens - that was the info. I had the hardest time finding reviews for when I searched and planned our cruise. My husband ... Read More
This will be a long review because I want to include as much as I can for those of you traveling with tweens and/or teens - that was the info. I had the hardest time finding reviews for when I searched and planned our cruise. My husband and I went on NCL for our honeymoon an eternity ago and loved it for the romance and food. In 2005 we went on a RCI cruise with our whole family minus children and had a blast so we ultimately felt that Royal Caribbean would be the smart choice to take our kids on their first cruise. We also were looking to cruise out of LA to save air fare over Christmas. ACCOMODATIONS NITE BEFORE BOARDING: We drove from Vegas on the 18th and stayed the nite at Fort McArthur. If you are military I HIGHLY suggest doing this - very very nice accomodations right near the port AND we were able to park our car on base for free while we were cruising. The cab to the port was $15 each way and the hotel for the night was $50. That was a huge savings on parking! DAY OF BOARDING: Everything went really smoothly - we arrived around noon/1230 and there was minimal wait time. We pre-registered online and printed the luggage info (too late for tags in the mail) WARNING!!! when registering online OR trying to buy on board ship credit for someone as a gift - it has to be done a certain amount of time before boarding AND they do not include weekend days in this time frame so be aware of this - some family members tried to give ship credit for our kids as a gift and almost weren't able to do so because of time limit - it did get done thanks to some great management at Royal Caribbean though and the kids loved that they had their own money to spend on board for gifts or Johnny Rockets or ice cream. Boarding was incredibly fast and smooth. We got on board and were notified that rooms would be ready by 1:00 and they were. The ship was decorated for Christmas - a beautiful huge tree on the Promenade and other decorations. They did acknowledge Hannukah as well. ROOMS: We got a GREAT deal thru Costco travel - will definitely book thru them again - decided to go for two connecting Promenade view rooms on the 8th floor and this was absolutely perfect for us. The rooms were in great condition and very clean - our cabin attendant was amazing and friendly - yes some people will say the ship looks a bit aged BUT wouldn't you if you had upwards of 3,000 people roaming around each week? Every part of the ship was clean and we never came across anything that was broken or needed repair. FOOD: Yes there was a ton of food! We have noticed that quality has gone down slightly over the years. There is still a lot of it and most of it was amazing - some of it was only ok - and some of it was not worth the extra calories but we ate it anyway! I think the quality issue is due to the free time dining. It must be incredibly hard to have food ready constantly and keep up quality over a four hour period especially when you don't know how many people will be coming to dinner. We went traditional and had the late seating - this was perfect for our busy port days but I do feel we missed a lot by sitting at dinner from 830 to 10. I think the 6:00 seating would have been too early tho. We still loved getting to know our servers rather than having random ones each nite with the my time dining. It's a tough choice to make - decide on that based on your port of call plans and your preference of service. A couple of the nites our kids perfered to go and eat at Johnny Rockets or the Cafe with friends - fine with us we had date nites! All of the appetizers were worth the calories - the kids even loved the escargot! Every beef dish we had was melt in your mouth incredible - the seafood was hit or miss - not as good as on the east coast I think. ALL of the deserts were so-so. For some reason they were not worth the extra calories. The BEST dessert was the brownie at the cafe that is open 24hrs!!! In the past we ate at Jade and it was fabulous but we didn't ever make it this time so can't comment. The kids used Johnny Rockets and loved the freedom of going themselves and hanging out with friends. It was a $5 cover when you enter then as much food as you want. The 24 hr cafe was awesome for sandwiches,pizza, cookies, brownies, water, and other treats. Room service was a must do for early ports of call - woke us up on time and all you have to do is tip! We ate lunch at Windjammer unless we were in port. Food is buffet food with some shining stars = to die for french fries and good burgers - great salad bar - had a really good salmon burger - good but basic buffet fare. Never used the extra restaurants. KIDS/TEENS CLUBS: the big question I couldn't find the answer to is how they divide the kids. On this trip our son had to stay in the younger group at age 10 but some kids that were close to 12 were allowed to go to the next group up if they had bros/sisters or cousins in the higher group- parents just asked and it was allowed. For the 12-14 they had a hang out called the Living Room and weren't allowed into the older group in Fuel. Our daughter was 14(a month from 15) and she was allowed to hang with the older kids in Fuel and participate in their activities. As far as the whole age restriction thing - I think it depends on the group of kids on board - how many there are in each group and who is running the activities. Our son was ten-almost eleven at the time of cruise and he liked some of the kids club activities but felt most were too young for him (coloring and craft activities and such were too young for him but some of the sports games or group games were fun). Due to his age we let him sign himself in and out of the club so he could come and go and not feel like he was in school or daycare. He liked some games and activities and loved the staff but felt most activities were too juvenile for him. That is the only complaint for his age group - I wish they had more cross-over tween activities for his age. He mostly roamed the ship with friends he made or hung out in the arcade using his gift money. He loved feeling grown up going into Johnny Rockets by himself and ordering his food. He did the rock wall with dad and loved that. Our daughter was 14 almost 15 and LOVED the teen hang outs and activities. They had scavenger hunts, dances, games, WII tournaments, closed down the nite club one nite and had it open just for the teens - they had sports activities (she's way into sports and loved all of that) She made friends immediately and is still in touch with them on FB. They went to the movies, ice skating, went to see the ice shows (which were a must-do) they even made snow for them one nite out on deck so they had a snowball fight. They met for snacks in the 24hr cafe or lunch in windjammer and hung out in Johnny Rockets. They all had fun sneaking around after curfew (1am) and hangin out in each other's rooms (in groups) Basically, she didn't want to leave!!! We did get the soda pass for both kids and that is definitely a smart way to go - makes it easy for them to get drinks if you're not around and saves you money. If you sign up the first day - you get a free coke tumbler and save 15% on each soda package. If I think of anything extra I will try to modify post but basically the Mariner was an awesome ship for tweens/teens! SHIP ACTIVITIES/SHOWS: Well- we tried to do everything and still didn't do or see all that we wanted to on board! Caught the end of an ice show and wish I'd seen them all because it was the most impressive thing I've seen on a ship. The comedian was way funny - Charo did a show but I missed that one. Basically, there is something every minute of every day. For awesome strong drinks - the bartender at the Champagne bar was the best - they have hor'deurvs in the evening and you can get any drink there not just champagne. We thought the most beautiful part of the ship was Ellingtons - you could sit there and have a drink day or nite and enjoy the views of the ship and sea. Right next door is the sports bar - had fun watching all the LA fans come in and get mad cause they couldn't watch the game on the 25th (apparently RCI doens't have the rights to show ABC or something like that) So, if ur an LA fan or your team is playin on Christmas day - be ready - you might not be able to see the game! We had a fun family tournament playing shuffleboard - that was actually one of the fun highlights of the trip! WEATHER: Okay this was December 19-26 and it was cold! It was cold and raining the day we left port and stayed rainy all that day. Next day at sea was warmer with no rain but still cold at nite. I was completing a paper that day so was mostly inside (if the stranger who helped me turn it in online reads this - thank you thank you thank you - I got an A on the paper and as a final class grade - you saved my day!!!) the internet onboard is another story!!! Weather in all ports was sunny - chilly in the morning warming up in the afternoon - pretty warm - then chilly to cold when the sun went down. The warmest day was in Puerto Vallarta. Definitely bring jackets/hoodies and pants for nite time and mornings. Those of you from Michigan might have thought it was warm but I was cold most of the time unless we were in port. The hot tubs were always in use and crowded (nite was the best time to use them cause they were virtually empty) It was warm enough to swim in the pools during the day at port and sometimes at sea - again it depends on your cold tolerance - some kids were swimming when it was freezing out and raining. Course - run to any bar onboard for a shot of tequila and u'll warm up fast! INTERNET: I'm not a techie but is there really no way to get better internet at sea? way too expensive and computers were dinosaur slow. Tried hooking my laptop up to the internet to turn in my final paper for class and couldn't connect. An incredibly sweet gentleman next to me had the same trouble for four hours and finally connected - he let me use his connection to turn in my paper. Really - DON'T plan on using the net a lot unless it's necessary cause it was a painful and expensive process! this was the only true negative on the trip SPA: well - just don't do it. the staff was very nice and informative but disorganized and there was a communication barrier with my massage therapist - did a good enough job but I think I didn't get the basic swedish massage I asked for because I was charged more and the spa waiting room was the only OLD looking part of the ship. For how much I paid the service and facility should have been much nicer. I wouldn't waste money here for a massage - save it for when you get home or right before you leave. PORTS OF CALL: After taking the trip we loved the itinerary - with two days at sea at the end for relaxing. WARNING- ALWAYS CHECK THE TIME DIFFERENCE IF YOU ARE GOING TO DO AN EXCURSION! SOME PORTS ARE AN HOUR DIFFERENCE AND SOME ARE TWO HOUR DIFFERENCE - we almost missed our PV tour because of the two hour difference! Also please remember you are not in America - yes other places are less developed and bargaining, begging, pressure sales and tipping are seen as natural- it is a way of life in a tourist area so be prepared to politely say no if approached by merchants - they will politely go away if you give a firm yet polite no. Also, if you are taking a taxi or doing another transaction make sure you agree on a price BEFORE you get in the taxi or buy the item - avoid confusion and make sure you don't pay more than you want to. CABO: We love Cabo! We stayed there at Fiesta Americana for a week and loved it so were excited to come back on the cruise. Since we had shopped and done beaches already - we decided to do ATV's on Migrino Beach and had a blast!!! Would for sure do it again if we are there again. First time riders for me, daughter and son. He was able to drive his own (with semishift) The trip to the beach was filled with big hills but once you got to the beach it was free roam and you could go full out - awesome is all I can say - fun fun fun. Booked it online on my own (you will pay double doing it thru the cruise) thru Cabo San Lucas Tours. They pick you up just off the dock and bring you back at the end. Once there you will have the option of giving your credit card for insurance or paying an extra $10 per person for insurance. It feels a bit like a scam but we paid the extra $40 and in the end felt it was worth it - people ran into us (small bumps not big crashes) and one guy went all Evel Knievel and broke his handle bar- they charged his dad $450.00 for the damage - so the extra $40 was smart in our eyes. We were back early enough to have a late lunch in Cabo and do a little shopping before returning to ship - we felt sorry for people on another ship - they had to leave way too early - we felt there was ample time in Cabo and were happy with the itenerary. MAZATLAN: Well - if we had stayed near the port I would have not liked Mazatlan at all. The area near the port is a bit ugly - but other areas are redeeming. We chose to ride horses because my daughter and I luv riding. We booked with Randi's Happy Horses directly online. She is very prompt responding to e mail. Cash only - so account for that before you go. Also custumary to tip the guides so have cash for that and food/shopping. We had a great time on very well behaved horses with great guides. It was just the 4 of us and 2 guides riding on the beach. We could gallop if we wanted. Took some great pics then headed back to Victor's for amazing food and drinks and some beach time (tooks suits and towels with us in backpacks). The beach was warm but the water was too cold for me although some people were swimming. All of this is on Stone Island. If horses are your thing - for sure look up Randi's Happy Horses. If horses aren't your thing I would still recommend taking a taxi to the water taxi for Stone Island - get a ticket for the water taxi- once across hop another ride to the beach - there are restaurants all up and down right on the beach but I would highly recommend Victor's. Oh - a bit of a warning about bathrooms for the women - a lot of them aren't able to flush paper so you have to put the paper in a provided waste basket - uh just be ready for that - it was the same in remote areas of PV also. It wasn't that bad - just awkward. If you don't find an excursion in Mazatlan that suits you - it might be good to plan to stay on board and enjoy the pools in the warm weather. PUERTO VALLARTA: Talk about a pretty place! Very Americanized close to the docks. The shopping area is amazing - on the beach with huge sand sculptures, tons of art and statues and beautiful shops. Also had those flying performer guys that drop off the big pole and spin around it on long ropes and this guy who balanced huge rocks on top of each other - total festival type atmosphere. We chose to go do the zip lines thru Los Veranos. WOW!!! would for sure do this again in PV and will try it in other places. Warning again about the time difference - here it was 2 hours difference from ship - so be aware of that no matter what you do! We took a taxi for $15 to the Disco (closest to the dock) and waited there for our ride to Los Veranos. Ours was an open truck up to the top of the mountain and it was a cold ride - definitely pack a jacket for that ride. Absolutely beautiful drive tho! All of the guys at Los Veranos are funny and made the whole excursion more than worth it! I am not in the best of shape and had to pause a few times climbing some of the stairs to a couple of the zip lines but all in all a pretty easy to do - and well worth it to see everyone flying thru the air. The guys are crazy and would hop on with you with the camera and film you and encourage you to go upside down - it was crazy fun! Bought the DVD after for $40 bucks- well worth it. After we had amazing food and drinks at their restaurant next to the river. You can swim so bring a suit if you want - they have a water slide and everything! The kids also had fun feeding yogurt to the monkeys they have. Definitely well worth it - book thru them not the ship - again you'll pay more thru the ship. After we were done the driver was nice enough to drop us in the shopping district (saved us some taxi money) There is the flea market a couple of blocks off the beach where you can find great cheaper souviniers or you can go straight to the shopping at the beach. Taxi back to the dock from the shopping was $15 - went back and got cleaned up and went to dinner! We loved our time in PV! DISEMBARKATION: We chose to take our own luggage off instead of leaving it out the nite before. It was simple and really quick - left our rooms at 8:15 am and just walked right off the ship and grabbed a taxi back to the AF base and got in our car for the ride home! We're already planning our next cruise with RCI!!! I hope this review helps you plan your trip - Happy Cruising!!! Read Less
Sail Date December 2010
Boarding the ship was pretty good. We arrived at the cruise terminal around 10:30 before the lines were actually open, so there was a line outside the terminal, but once the lines opened, things moved quite quickly. Our Set Sail said that ... Read More
Boarding the ship was pretty good. We arrived at the cruise terminal around 10:30 before the lines were actually open, so there was a line outside the terminal, but once the lines opened, things moved quite quickly. Our Set Sail said that our boarding time was 12:00 pm, but we were all checked in and on the ship by 11:15. We only stopped to make reservations at Chops, then went right to the Windjammer for lunch. We were easily able to get a table, but before we were finished eating, the place was packed and our table was pounced on as soon as we stood up. The doors to the staterooms were opened promptly at 1:00, and we checked it out. We were in #1362. The bed was by the balcony and the sofa was closer to the hall door. It was a new arrangement for us, but felt a bit roomier than the stateroom on Holland America that we had in September. The closet was smaller than on other ships, but adequate for us. The shower in the bathroom was rounded and although still small, gave the illusion of having more space then the rectangular ones. It could actually hold four average sized adults if one wanted to try for some kind of shower stuffing record. (Don't ask how I know this.) My husband bought the Fountain Soda package on the first day. He won't do it again. He felt he had to drink more sodas than he otherwise would have in order to break even with the individual price. With the only diet option being Diet Coke, he got tired of the whole thing. The package comes with a big insulated bottle, but is a pain to carry around. Fortunately the package includes drinks served in regular glasses anywhere on the ship. He wound up adding his own vanilla to the Cokes after our first port stop. That helped. The ship is quite nice. The Promenade is especially impressive. The Promenade Cafe is a great place to pick up a snack (loved the granola bars) 24 hours a day. The rooms that overlook it are a bit strange, but we talked to a man who was in one and said he really liked it. The double paned windows kept out the noise except when one of the parades was going on. There were signs of wear and tear, but you also saw people working on maintenance during the trip too. The best show on the show on the ship was the "Ice Under the Big Top". The skating, costumes, set, etc. were all comparable to the land based ice shows, although smaller. Knowing that the skaters are working on ice on a rolling ship was most impressive. A nice touch is that skating classes are offered late in the cruise (sign up early), and they are conducted by the performers themselves. They also handle handing out the skates and getting people signed up. It was fun meeting them up close and getting to interact with them. They were quite patient with us newbies. They do have periods when the rink is open for free skating. Some people even brought their own skates. The production shows on the main stage were OK, but the talent was not the best. We missed one that sounded like it was the only one not to miss. We did enjoy the backstage tour one day conducted by the dance captain and the lighting director. Even if the shows are great, you can appreciate what the performers especially the dancers have to cope with when you feel the stage moving. There are lots of activities on board. Of course all the usual, but the ice skating and the rock wall climbing were unique and quite fun. The fitness center was very nice and well maintained. A couple of treadmills were out of order one day, but back in use the next. The trivia and Name That Tune contests were mostly held in the Schooner Bar. There were so many people participating that it was often impossible to find a seat and once you did, to hear what was being said. For popular activities, they should find a larger more convenient venue. We found the crew to be friendly and helpful. Our waiter in the dining room, Jasonn Joya, was great, as was his assistant, Reynato. In the Windjammer, Verheek was the best. The iced tea from concentrate that they serve is undrinkable, so I brew my own, much to the mystification of most waiters, but when I put in my standard order, Verheek knew I wanted to brew my own tea and brought me extra ice and extra hot water. Kudos. The food was adequate. A few individual dishes were outstanding, but the overall quality could only be considered average. We did have an excellent meal in Chops, one of the specialty restaurants, but wouldn't have paid the extra cost for it. We got it comped as part of the deal for booking the cruise. Our major complaint was the corridor outside our room. Apparently someone was sick there, and it took days for the smell to dissipate. It made you gag, and we were holding our breath walking down the corridor until we got into our room. The second day after it happened, we overheard an officer telling the steward to shampoo it. It helped, but the smell didn't completely go away until the last day of the cruise. We really appreciate the Express Departure on RCL. We had used the same procedure on Holland America, which was much better publicized and operated. On RCL, the information was just three lines on the As You Depart sheet. You really had to look for it, then listen to the whole 20 minute TV presentation about disembarkation to get any details. The Guest Relations desk didn't have any information when we checked there. We were told to report to one location, then moved to another. It appears that the popularity of just walking off and taking you own bags with you was underestimated by the staff, so procedures were changed at the last minute to accommodate the crowd. It was a minor inconvenience, and the crowd was adapted to quickly, but with a little more planning (like Holland America does), they would have known ahead of time how many were planning on doing this. Read Less
Sail Date December 2010
We enjoyed the Mariner Thanksgiving Week cruise from San Pedro (Port of LA), 21-28 Nov 10. I will post a longer review on the Royal Caribbean thread but, in brief, our observations: A. Just as beautiful as Voyager (we were on ... Read More
We enjoyed the Mariner Thanksgiving Week cruise from San Pedro (Port of LA), 21-28 Nov 10. I will post a longer review on the Royal Caribbean thread but, in brief, our observations: A. Just as beautiful as Voyager (we were on Voyager last January), perhaps in a little better condition because it's newer. B. I'll skip details of the Pacific (Mexican Riviera) itinerary unless someone specifically asks. After all, this ship will (eventually, next Nov 2011)sail out of Galveston. Kept telling folks (jocularly), when they asked why we flew from Texas to LA, that we were "test driving her" to see if she'd work out in Galveston. She does, believe me, she does. We can see why our West Coast friends are as disheartened as we were when Rhapsody pulled out Texas in 2007. C. Obviously, the ship's entertainment and ambience was keyed to "West Coasters" because the vast majority came from Southern California and up and down the West Coast. But I spoke with the HD and other officers and I suspect that the focus will change, initially to accommodate the cruises to South America and from Brazil, then the Mediterranean (Mariner will be home ported in Citavechhia [Rome] and do mostly Holy Land and eastern Mediterranean cruises), and finally Texas. D. We were in 1320 (OS) and I'd previously booked it for this cruise in Mar 2012 (w/o mentioning to DW). So I was glad that she decided on Day 4 that she really liked the Mariner and suggested we book it for Spring Break 2012. Without engendering the age old dispute over whether to get a suite or not, our preference is fewer cruises, larger suite. It's larger than early Voyager ships (= Navigator), very ample space and accommodation. We loved the balcony and whirlpool Jacuzzi and used each a lot. E. Can't comment much on the ports. Our "destination" was, in fact, the ship. I enjoyed the Premier Yacht cruise at Cabo. Otherwise, when folks disembarked at Mazatlan and Puerto Vallarta, we enjoyed all of the ship venues in relative peace! The older children's pgm for our dau (12) was essentially nonexistent: most of the pre-teens/teens went to other venues. BTW: 967 children on board, not a single problem from our observations. All very well behaved. F. Food in MDR was actually very good but our expectations are not to dine on gourmet offerings but rather food that's properly cooked and relatively tasty. So we were not disappointed. Unfortunately, we had one bad experience and as much as we loved this ship, I hate to report it but will with an understanding that each person's experience differs. We'd been to Portofino on Voyager and were interested in trying something else especially since DW insisted that the quality didn't seem as high on the second visit. So we went to Chops on Day 4. First, don't eat at Johnny Rockets in the afternoon and then Chops at night unless you have cast iron digestive system. And don't attend receptions earlier either unless you have a lot more fortitude than us. But most of all, do not spend $25pp plus an (extra) tip for Chops if you are expecting a top quality steak. My New York strip was suitable for hiking: it was tough, chewy, and tasteless even though it had been cooked to medium well. My DW's 16 oz. rib eye was not much better. Now, we know from the boards that many others have enjoyed great dining in Chops, and, no, $25 pp does not even begin to compare to the cost of dining at Ruth's Chris, Morton's and other fine steakhouses. But we actually found our steak in the MDR to be better tasting and of no better quality than the Chops steak (which, BTW, you can "buy" for $14.95 in the MDR). Maybe they had a bad night; maybe they didn't get a good shipment. The appetizers were fantastic and perhaps worth the cover charge alone as were the desserts. But for the money, we'll stick with the MDR or Windjammer on our 2012 cruise. G. Sadly, Mariner will lose a lot of the people from which we received stellar service, especially some of the bartenders and waiters. Brazil apparently requires a certain percentage of the staff either be from Brazil or fluent in Portuguese and so they will have to replace the current staff with additional Portuguese speaking personnel. Many are going to depart before Mariner leaves for the TA to Italy. So we don't know how many will return to Texas but many of the folks from Caribbean nations told me that they hope to be assigned to Mariner in November 2011. Read Less
Sail Date November 2010
This was my 10th cruise and I think the third time to the Mexican Riviera. We drove from the San Jose Area down to the port in LA. Took about 6 hours.. The parking at the pier was great and I love it when time to leave as it ... Read More
This was my 10th cruise and I think the third time to the Mexican Riviera. We drove from the San Jose Area down to the port in LA. Took about 6 hours.. The parking at the pier was great and I love it when time to leave as it is a pretty quick way to depart. This trip I took Two Sets of Friends on their First Royal Cruise. They were impressed by the ship. The embarkation process was smooth and we got on quickly, took the obligatory Photos. First stop was to the dining room to check the table we were at. Top level in the corner.. This I had to get changed. They took care of it and the next night we were sitting at the table behind the Captain. My friends were impressed. So glad I have some Idea of what to do to get problems fixed quickly. Wish I could have stayed up late the first evening for the Comedy Show as my Friends said it was great, but I went to the room for a cat nap and didn't wake up.... First Port of Call we deiced to just walk the town. While the locals are working to make a living if you said no they would leave you alone. This was great.. This port is beautiful as the ship can be seen in the bay and the water was a beautiful clear Blue. We actually took one of the local glass bottom boats to see the Cabo Point. Actually a decent tour for the price. But I would not want to have been one of the snorkeling people in the water as the mass of boats with motors around seemed dangerous for the swimmers... Went to town and saw the Cabo Wabo Bar and then went to the Shrimp Factory for Lunch. I had a great time. Went back to the ship after purchasing the Gifts for friends back home... Went to Mazatlan the next day and took the Tequila and Leather Crafting Tour. This small town where they made belts, shoes, and other Leather crafts was so clean. I think San Francisco needs some lessons. First stop was at the belt maker and when the bus heads back you have a custom belt ready to go. This is a little Gem of a Tour Stop if you like seeing local things verses tourist Traps. The Tequila stop was also good as we were able to see them cooking the agave plant and had a taste of it fresh out of the cooker. Sweet like softened Sugar Cane.. This factory Los Osuna was beautiful. They pour as much as you want. The price of the same Tequila is the same at the factory as at the port side Cart set up at the Port Exit. You can't buy this brand in my area wish I had purchased more. PS My Friends bought Machettes and brought them back to the ship. This was fun for Security on the return to the ship. I have seen the Ice Show on another ship and tried to see it on this ship. You must get there EARLY to see the ice show and get a seat. I do think Royal should do something to fix this problem. If you do not get there early you will not get a seat and I cannot stand for an Hour show...Good show but get a seat. Next Day was Puerto Vallarta. We just stayed and enjoyed the small shopping just off the ship and then drank beers and Margaritas at the set up on the way to the ship... They also made a lime Peanuts which were good. Got our sun on the ship on the first day back at sea on the return. Made a quick stop in the Cabo bay for an emergency passenger and then proceeded to LA. Do not wait for the last day as it has been cold on the return trip every time I have made the Trip. Last comedian had a great start and then went for all the sex Jokes. I laughed but even I think he went beyond reasonable. But the videos that start his act are also great.. Food was good and the service was great. I think it is sad that Royal will not be in this area come January as they remove this ship to Europe and have no replacement planned as I write this. Read Less
Sail Date November 2010
So we had just finished a couple of frenetic weeks in the States, seeing and doing lots of different things. We had a choice between some time in Hawaii or a short cruise. I convinced my husband that a short cruise would be an excellent ... Read More
So we had just finished a couple of frenetic weeks in the States, seeing and doing lots of different things. We had a choice between some time in Hawaii or a short cruise. I convinced my husband that a short cruise would be an excellent way to relax before we went back to work. We booked the cruise through our local travel agents, we thought by booking a promenade room we would have a slightly larger room with a lovely window and we would be able to catch up on sleep and recharge. Upon arrival we were disturbed by the noise outside our window - on the promenade outside. We couldn't sleep because of the thudding of the bass speakers directly outside our window... I went down to the promenade and was told it should be finished soon... It really got loud when they held the parade in the promenade... The noise stopped just after midnight and started again at 8am! We asked if we could up/down grade our room to escape the noise and we were told that there were no vacancies, and that there was nothing they could do. We were also told that our travel agent should have known and told us it would be noisy - which is ridiculous - how would a travel agent in Australia know how noisy specific cabins are on a ship in the USA? There should be a warning when you go to book a promenade room, even a clause that you need to signoff on stating that the room will be noisy. We spoke with staff on several occasions and were totally fobbed off. The constant bad music/parades/announcements from the promenade made our cabin horrible to stay in. It was really disapointing. The icing on the cake was the final night, the parade went until 1am - even though we had to be up at 6am to clear immigration/customs (because we weren't from the USA). Apart from the lack of sleep, it took forever to clear the government red tape and when we finally got off the ship, the tour of LA that we had booked had left without us, even though we were told by the Explorations! people that the tour would not leave without us. When we asked the guy looking after buses for help he gave us a phone number to call. After calling the number and being put on hold for 20 mins we were told that we need to contact our travel agent in Australia for reimbursement. We told them that we had booked the tour on board the Mariner - they did not care. So, in summary, we got no sleep and lost $100 on a tour that left without us because we had to go through immigration and customs... I would not recommend this cruise to anyone who wants to get some rest and relaxation - unless they are deaf... Read Less
Sail Date November 2010
What a magnificent ship! The Mariner was all that and more. I would give this cruise a 4/5. Of course there were a few downsides. The food is never good enough. The weather (like it's RCCL's fault could have been better, yada ... Read More
What a magnificent ship! The Mariner was all that and more. I would give this cruise a 4/5. Of course there were a few downsides. The food is never good enough. The weather (like it's RCCL's fault could have been better, yada yada yada. Overall, excellent. The Top Hat dining room is a grandeur look into those old classic dining rooms. large 2 story crystal chandelier in the middle of the 3 story dining room. Violins and piano playing soft background music on level 3. Impeccable service. While the food selections probably could have been better, overall it was fine. Between 3 adults, not one plate was sent back. The Promenade is where it's at. We felt like we were in Las Vegas sitting at the Vintages wine bar just enjoying people watching. Ben and Jerry's, a sandwich shop, the boutique stores, musical entertainment all made for enjoying our relaxing cruise. Our 3 y/o grand daughter loved the kid's adventure. We had no worries when she was there. We had a pager for emergency notifications but of course it never went off. A MUST SEE: The Ice Show. Comparable to a scaled down Cirque du Solier ice show. Very nice. The other shows were what you would expect on a cruise line. Don't think for a moment you're going to get a Broadway show. But you will get a Broadway STYLE show. Entertaining nonetheless. Our balcony cabin was fine. No problems or worries. But the real 5/5 materpiece was the ship. Sure it was built in 2003 and had a few wear lines on it. Wouldn't you? 3000 passengers per week since then? Of course you would. But it was clean, quiet, big, smooth. Nice job RCCI. Been on several different lines with Carnival being the most. Our 3rd RCCI ship. If this was just a 3/5 rating, it would still be better than Carnival's best. Mariner is moving to Italy in March. Thinking of booking that trip. bon Voyage. Read Less
Sail Date November 2010
Well since the snow is now melting here in Seattle I am coming out of my shock and figure I will out a review together. Marie and I had the joy of sailing to the Mexican Riviera on the Mariner last week. We signed up for this cruise about ... Read More
Well since the snow is now melting here in Seattle I am coming out of my shock and figure I will out a review together. Marie and I had the joy of sailing to the Mexican Riviera on the Mariner last week. We signed up for this cruise about 5 weeks prior which for me is the same as last minute. I am the type of person that like to spend months planning out a vacation so of course I was in utter panic when I realized I only had about 40 days to set up everything. Powering through the first weekend I managed to get arranged airfare (even used a companion coupon for Marie), ground transportation back and forth to the ship, tours in two ports and Chops reservations. Blood pressure dropped considerably by Monday. We decided to fly to LA same day of the cruise, I didn't think it was too much of a gamble since it was a 2½ hour direct flight, landing about 10:30 am. We actually arrived about 20 minutes early and after collecting bags headed to the ship via Super Shuttle. The driver was nice enough to point out to us where to go to get our return ride when we arrived back to LA. We handed our bags off to a porter who actually seemed surprise when I handed him a tip. Guess I could have kept that one in my pocket. Boarding took all of 10 minutes; the longest part was waiting in line to get our pictures taken for the sea pass. We did a stroll down the promenade then headed up to Windjammer for some lunch. Now I have seen people on CC rave about the honey stung chicken that is available of sail away day. Well I am now 0 for 2 when it comes to the chicken. Our first cruise it was dry and tasteless, this cruise it was not even offered. So I am giving up on that. Food in the Windjammer was what I remembered in our first cruise, it has its highlights and lowlights (is lowlight a word?). So one thing Marie and I were looking forward to this time was the sail away. One our first cruise the ship left Barcelona at 7pm and we had the 6:30 seating for dinner. So our view was from the dining room window. We were forewarned to wear a jacket because it may be southern California but it was November. We grabbed a couple of drinks, something they called a Miami Vice, I think it was a combination pina colada and daiquiri with a whole lot of rum added. In fact the waiter came by twice with the rum bottle and topped off the glasses twice. That got the party started. It was sunset when the ship departed which made for a beautiful view. We had a great time, Marie got in a little dancing before it was time to run down to the dining room for dinner and our first meet with our tablemates. For dining we were on deck 4 which is called Top Hat and Tails. We had a table for 6 next to the port side window. The two couple we shared the table with were John and Diana from Pennsylvania plus Jack and Margarite (sp) from Newfoundland. The cruise was a joy spending our evening meal with them, talking about our parts of the world and reliving what we did in the ports or on the ship. I have heard stories of miserable tablemates making dinner a challenge but we have batted a thousand so far. That evening the show was a comedian name Carl Banks that a number of funny jokes about shipboard life, in particular about the shower and toilet. I would add that they should hang a sign in the cabin bathroom that says "caution, you may experience minor hearing loss after flushing". Ours was a little on the loud side this time. The first day was spent at sea and my plan was lounging and reading. Marie had other ideas we compromised, I lounged and she explored and found ways to have fun. A little shopping hiking and line dancing for her, lounging for me. That worked. We did ht the Meet and Mingle which was a joy to put face to the names of the people we had been chatting with online. We had arrange a grab bag swap, Marie and I gave smoked salmon and Starbucks (we are from Seattle can you tell?). The M&M was fun; they had a drawing for a few prizes (I won a RCCL 64mg memory stick). That evening was the first formal night. I decided instead of renting an ill fitting tux from the ship I would bring a sports coat and a couple ties. It was much more comfortable and fit in when those around us. I was able to enjoy some snails as a starter to the meal (two orders). Guess the main course was not too remarkable as I had to look it up (filet of beef).The evening's show was a comedy act again so I was hesitant. But it was well worth it, a Vegas act that was a couple of brothers from Argentina (I think) Mario & Daniel. They were better than the guy the previous night. The next day was Cabo San Lucas. Other than a couple hours in Tijuana we have never been to Mexico. We decided to just spend the day walking around the town, taking in the sights, shop, eat, drink, all the required things for a fun day. We were warned that once you get off the tender boat there would be a wave of people wanting to sell souvenirs, tours, etc. There was, but to be honest we have seen much worse. The people hawking their wares never got in our way and were rather polite in their approach. Nothing high pressure at all. It was a beautiful day in Cabo, low 80s calm winds, just what you want in mid November. First thing Marie bought was a hat to keep the sun out of her eyes (I brought mine). We wandered a few hours, comparing prices and just making it a leisure day. Marie found Hard Rock Cafe where she could buy her jacket. I think her goal is to get one in every country they are located. Good luck. There was a row of little restaurants along the water so we stopped in the one that had the most customers, not the best reason but what the heck we were on vacation so no need for major decisions. It was shrimp ceviche and fish tacos that were delicious. Margaritas for Marie and dollar Coronas for me made for a tasty relaxing lunch. A quiet ride back to the ship and a great port visit was over for us. The show this evening was the Royal Caribbean singers and dancers. We saw similar shows on the last cruise. To be honest, these are shows are entertaining but not memorable. Still a fun way to spend part of the evening. I forgot to mention that Marie has been hitting the casino slot machines each night. On a $20 a night budget she has been doing well on the penny and two penny slots. The twenty bucks has been lasting her about an hour even with me stopping by a pilfering a few of her coins now and then. So this evening about 11:30 there was going to be dancing under the stars and a buffet (like I need more food). Sounded like a great way to end a fabulous day. Well after the show we made the mistake of stopping by the room to "rest" for a half hour. Yeah, we were pretty much snoozing by 11:30, good intentions. The next day was a visit to Mazatlan and a tour with the famous Mazatlan Frank. We read about him on CC and there was nothing but good reviews so we figured we would give him a shot. We were not disappointed as he took us to all parts of Mazatlan in our 5 hours with him. Cliff divers, a walking tour in Old Mazatlan, a drive through the golden zone, shopping opportunities and a shrimp & lobster lunch at a beachside restaurant. Great fun for 40 bucks. That evening we had reservations at Chops Grille. We tried Portofino on our last cruise and really liked it so we decided to give Chops a try. No disappointment here, just steaks that melt in your mouth, shrimp and crab for starters and really decadent desserts we could not finish. It was also nice to have one dinner for two with a little extra personalized service. This evening we also decided to go to the Love & Marriage show, one of many things we missed last cruise. We wanted to get a good seat so we showed up early. Bingo was about to start (guess we were really early) so we decided to play, no winners here. The L&M show was fun, had a couple married 57 years, one married 5 days and another in between. Was like watching the old Newlywed game on TV, plenty of embarrassing responses to the questions, good fun. Last port visit was Puerto Vallarta and here we decided to use the ship's 4 hour city and shopping tour. What a waste. There was 20 minute stop downtown where the guide showed a few statues and a quick walk through a cathedral. Then there was a 30 shopping stop at some RCCL sponsored jewelry stores (we snuck across the street and bought painted tiles). After that it was a drive 16 miles south for a 3 minute stop to take a picture of the beach where John Houston filmed Night of the Iguana. Then it was back on the bus to drive all the way back into town to stop at a beachside restaurant for a 30 minutes drink/food break (the margaritas and shrimp were awesome). I quick stop at some more ship sponsored store and then it was back to the ship. I guess I should not have expected much for $26 each. The last stop Marie was feeling the margaritas and did some serious bargaining so it was not a total loss. We heard a lot about the town form the guide as we drove around, it just seemed like we did not see a lot of the town. Don't remember what dinner; I think it was the catch of the day (cod). That evening the headliner show was the Coasters. Great fun hearing all those old rock n roll songs, Charlie Brown, Yakety Yak, Poison Ivy. The 70s dancing in the street on the Royal Promenade later that evening was fun as well. Some passengers from I think Utah dressed up in the Village People outfits and did a rousing version of YMCA that got everybody moving. When the dancing started we were already in our usual spot at the Cafe Promenade so we were front and center for the dancing. Every evening after the evening show we headed to the cafe for the tasty sandwiches and cookies. Eating again at 10 in the evening was a habit we broke quick after getting back home. The next day was at sea and heading north. First thing that morning there was a medical emergency so we actually pulled in to the harbor at Cabo to let someone off. I was tantalizing to see the beaches so close but it was a quick turnaround and we were soon back at sea. Late morning there was a walk for the Make a Wish Foundation. So Marie bought one of the tee shirts for the fundraiser and participated in the 5 laps with other passengers and many of the crew. I found a lounge chair to park my rear in and cheer her on as she walked by. In the afternoon there was the international belly flop competition by the pool. I found a vantage point the next deck up to take pictures while Marie edged her way poolside. Lots of fun as we all got to participate in the scoring. It really was an international competition as the guy that won was from Scotland. We had met him earlier in the cruise, we shared a breakfast table with him and his parents, his name was Michael I think. The rest of the day was relaxing in the sun since we were pretty sure it would be too chilly tomorrow. That night was the second formal night and lobster for dinner. The wait staff appears to be responsible for more tables this time and was scrambling around a lot throughout the week. But our waiter Ramil still made sure to come around to all of us that ordered lobster and de-shelled them for us. I figure I will take a few minutes at this point to talk about our wait staff. We had Ramil from the Philippines for our waiter and Luis from Brazil for assistant waiter. They did well but don't expect them to vary too far from the menu. Early on evening I asked Ramil about getting a cheese plate. I know it was not on the menu but come on, it's not that difficult to put some cheese on a plate. He gave me updates two or three times through the meal about the progress (the idea was to have it as a starter but I kept silent) but by meal's end it never did arrive. I figured he may try to make up for it the next night but nope, not a word or slice. One of our tablemates had ice tea every night and had to ask for it every night, and for refills on occasion. Last cruise I had asked for ice tea the first night and every night after that a glass arrived shortly after I sat down. I think Luis was kind of new at his job so I will cut him some slack when we had to ask for bread a couple times. But Ramil was an 11 year veteran. One thing he was good at was reminding us on two different night to be sure and fill out the survey and please check the 'excellent' boxes on the survey as 'good' is frown on by management. Well I give high marks if I see service worthy of high marks, and I don't think I saw that this cruise. So that night was the Quest game, something we had also missed last cruise. I will not go into details for those who have not yet experience it, but I will say it met all expectations. Funny, naughty and plenty of good clean fun. Next day we were also at sea and as expected it was too cold to hang out on deck. So I got in some serious reading, Marie did some window shopping on the promenade and we started packing for the return home. We signed up for the valet baggage service. This was well worth the extra $20 a bag (we each only had one bag to check). They delivered special luggage tags to the room and our boarding passes for our flight the next day. All we had to do was get the bags in the hall that night and the next time we saw them was on the luggage carousel in the Seattle airport. It was so sweet not having to hump those bags from the terminal to our ground transportation and then from there into the airport. I figure you spend as much as you do for a cruise and airfare, any extra $40 for that convenience was worth it. The last night there was another parade on the promenade, an island theme this time. It amazes me how much enthusiasm the staff puts into these activities. The do those same parades week in and week out, probably could do them in their sleep. But they still come across as enjoying the time, maybe many of them still are. All I know is it was fun for us, well done. Disembarking the ship was delayed about an hour, some issue with the express customers. That was ok as it left us with only a 30 minute wait in the airport once we got to the gate. Flight was uneventful but as we landed in Seattle we saw snowflakes falling. Sad ending to what was a really great cruise. So far we are two for two cruising with Royal Caribbean. It will be another 18 months before head out again, this time to the eastern Mediterranean. Looking forward to doing it again. Thanks for hanging with me on this review. Bill Read Less
Sail Date November 2010
My family went on our first cruise the week of November 21, 2010 on Mariner of the Seas, visiting Cabo San Lucas, Mazatlan and Puerta Vallarta. I was in a balcony stateroom with my husband and three year old daughter. My teenaged daughter ... Read More
My family went on our first cruise the week of November 21, 2010 on Mariner of the Seas, visiting Cabo San Lucas, Mazatlan and Puerta Vallarta. I was in a balcony stateroom with my husband and three year old daughter. My teenaged daughter was in an inside stateroom (with a window overlooking the promenade) with my mother in law. MONDAY: (first full day at sea) My teenaged daughter got sick the first day and was diagnosed with a kidney infection. I was very impressed with the medical facility on the ship (I had occasion to make a lot of use of it - more on that, later) and my daughter was able to go swimming with dolphins in Cabo the next day. When we took our three year old daughter to the kids program, the woman in charge of her age group - her name was Paula - was distinctly unfriendly. She did not greet her in any way, just pointed her to sit down, and this unfriendly vibe was so strong our daughter began to cry. Paula said to my husband, "Take her over there until she calms down." She was rude, cold, and completely unsuited to be taking care of small children. In fact, I was dismayed to see that there were no toys out, nothing to invite a toddler to play. My daughter in in Montessori daycare five days a week and is very accustomed to being in a group and playing with other kids. I'm accustomed to friendly teachers who like kids. This woman did not seem to like her job. We immediately complained to Michelle, who was wonderful and tried to remedy the problem but the damage was done. Our daughter refused to go back to the kids program for the entire trip. If we even mentioned it, she was traumatized and began to cry. TUESDAY: Cabo San Lucas and swimming with dolphins. Wonderful! I can't say enough about how great it was. Also, the view outside our stateroom was gorgeous. It was like looking at a postcard. WEDNESDAY: Stone Island Beach, Mazatlan. We live 20 minutes from Malibu so beaches are no big thing for us. This was a nice excursion but I felt sorry for all the vendors who kept trying to sell us things. Our teenager started feeling sick again, so we made our second visit to the medical facility, where she was diagnosed with the flu. THURSDAY: (Puerta Vallarta, Thanksiving Day). We didn't want to go too far from the ship, since our teenager was sick in bed. That afternoon, our toddler got sick and we went back to the medical facility. She had a 104 degree fever and they immediately gave her an IV, took blood, took xrays, did a nebulizer. We spent over three hours there, from 7-10:30 at night. I was again impressed with the medical facility and staff, although the Romanian nurse kept telling her, "Don't cry, you look ugly when you cry!" The rest of the trip was all about taking care of sick kids. Somewhere in there we saw the ice show, which was fun, and had dinner at Chops, which was good but not spectacular. I can see the appeal of a cruise, but due to non-cruise related illnesses, we did not get to partake of the amenities. My teenager never got to do any of the teen program things, which she had really been looking forward to. We got home to find that our yard had flooded. It was the worst vacation, ever! So bad, we have to laugh (otherwise we will cry). Read Less
Sail Date November 2010
This was our second adventure on the Mariner and our 8th on this class of ship. You can tell the ship is getting a bit worn, but nevertheless, the RC experience was worth it. Everyone had a great time! Lots to do for everyone. We had a ... Read More
This was our second adventure on the Mariner and our 8th on this class of ship. You can tell the ship is getting a bit worn, but nevertheless, the RC experience was worth it. Everyone had a great time! Lots to do for everyone. We had a group of kids spanning a variety of ages. The groups all had different experiences - 3-6 years old - loved it! 7-9 had a bit of trouble with the activities; girls mostly bored and didn't want to go back; 10-12 had a great time if you loved sports. Not so much for the middle of the road kids; 13-17 didn't even know they were on board most of the time! The biggest complaint from the kids programs was that the 13-17 year olds were always let out past curfew of 1:00. They got "written up" 4 times, although no one ever said a word to us. Finally got wise to it all and met them at 1:30 to take to promenade to get a snack before the in-room movie. I experienced them talking with the staff -- only following orders I presume -- but they were refused service. The server even questioned me as to why I would get food for ALL of the kids (8 of them). After a night of activities, I don't think a trip to get pizza and sandwiches and a drink is all that questionable. If they really were bad enough to get "written up" I would have expected to know about it. If not, I think RCCL would be better served giving the kids some snacks before retiring. Overall, the dining room was not set up to accommodate our group as well as the Windjammer was. We also enjoyed the speciality restaurants. The staff there was very accommodating to our needs and well worth the extra costs. Much funner to tip them than the "i just expect your tip no matter what I do" dining room staff. At the end of the week, the reviews were good -- good ship, good service, good people,good fun. Read Less
Sail Date November 2010
We arrived at the Port of LA in our own personal vehicle, last year we had chosen a local hotel to stay, stay and park deal, but, it took us nearly an hour to get back to the hotel and our car after the cruise, way to long for the price. ... Read More
We arrived at the Port of LA in our own personal vehicle, last year we had chosen a local hotel to stay, stay and park deal, but, it took us nearly an hour to get back to the hotel and our car after the cruise, way to long for the price. We arrived at the port, check in, the baggage ordeal was all easy as usual! Very quick, as last year, was on the ship very quickly! Picture and all! We were actually on the ship about 11:30, went around took the usual pictures and sat down, poolside, and ordered the first of many throughout the cruise! Very nice, hot in LA, but cool in the shade. Relaxed there til about 1, Captain Per announced at 1, that the staterooms were ready! Our room, 6318, center hump, awesome location, access to the stairs, right outside our room, or elevators if needed. We had stayed in the same room 1 year ago, same experience, the room was great! Standard room, very clean, love the balcony, views, etc. After the 'sail off', which was great as always, had a couple of tropical drinks, and off to change to dinner. This time we chose, 'My Time Dining", great option, had to make reservations everynight, but it was worth it. A couple three nights, we didn't have to make reservations, we just showed up at the time we usually do and were seated, no big deal. We had made reservations to the formal nights, it seemed that everyone had mostly gone to the dinners and didn't want to end up in a line. We had gone to Chops two evenings. Great filet mignon, great to wonderful waiters, awesome food, sides, wines, everything! We went to the Ice Show, which was incredible, never had known a cruise ship to have a ice arena. Went to one of the shows in the Savoy Theatre, nice, great entertainment. Went to the Casino, too smokey for us, disgusting. The trivia games were fun in the Schooner Lounge, enjoyed that! The Sports Bar was fun, the Crown Lounge was great as always! What can I say, had a great time on this ship! The ports were great! Walked alot in Cabo and Puerta Vallarta, tooks taxi's, etc, when needed to get to the shopping areas in PV. Went to the Hotel Riu in Mazatlan, fun, away from the city, very relaxing, very clean, not alot of people! Back in LA, no problems getting off the ship, for us anyway, Immigration is there, and I'm sure for some isn't a pleasant experience, but no problems, I'd do this cruise next week if I could! Great cruise, wouldn't change a thing! Captain Per was very personable Read Less
Sail Date October 2010
After a friend's recommendation we decided to tryTHE MARINER POSITIVE: Check-in went smoothly, although we were delayed 45 minutes for Coast Guard inspection. Easy to maneuver ship with my walker or scooter. Nice sized disabled ... Read More
After a friend's recommendation we decided to tryTHE MARINER POSITIVE: Check-in went smoothly, although we were delayed 45 minutes for Coast Guard inspection. Easy to maneuver ship with my walker or scooter. Nice sized disabled cabin. Great staff, fun Halloween & 70's parties & parades; great lamb, duck & white chocolate/orange flan (although the rack of lamb was hard to cut). Lobster was wonderful! We had a Great MDR staff for Anytime Dining. Trivia was fun, and run by a great, fun staff, but prizes were cheap (how many key-chains & highlighters do we need?) There should have been a prize exchange for people who would prefer a pen for a key chain! Room attendant was sweet & we had cute animals (elephant, turtle & monkey). Loved the brownies in the Cafe' Promenade! Disembarkation was also easy, after a small breakfast in the MDR. NEGITIVE: Amenities cut back (no robes, bad shampoo, warm refrigerator). Due to the Coast Guard inspection, elevators were shut down after disabled were allowed up to Windjammer, & I saw several passengers close to collapse when they climbed 7 floors! Windjammer was poorly organized and arranged, with not enough inside seating & no way to take food or drink outside without being accosted (no signs said no food around pool). No water service either. Food was OK but not great- some things were barley edible, egg-beaters were greasy & watery (especially on Windjammer). I never knew there were so many ways to serve chocolate mousse! Ship itself was very boxy & enclosed (we could have been at the Paris Las Vegas). There were Very few places to curl up & read while watching the view without going to pool area, which had very small Pools (On Carnival, I could always find a window seat to read). Staff was Fun, but CD Kiernan was barely around. I didn't find out until the last night that there was an elevator to take the disabled down to the front rows of the theater (you have to make a appointment with the stage Director to use it; otherwise, all disabled are in the last row on the 3rd deck), which is unfair if you want to participate. The Casino was also very cheap- not only the machines have poor pay-outs, but all I got for my points were more key chains; no cash-back! I think we'll try the Disney Magic, then stick to Carnival! Read Less
Sail Date October 2010
Mariner of the Seas 10/24/10 About us We traveled as a group of 6. Three adults (ages 55, 33, and 32) and three kids (10, 6, and 4.) This was my second cruise and the first cruise for everyone else. We did a 7-day Mexican ... Read More
Mariner of the Seas 10/24/10 About us We traveled as a group of 6. Three adults (ages 55, 33, and 32) and three kids (10, 6, and 4.) This was my second cruise and the first cruise for everyone else. We did a 7-day Mexican Riveria cruise in October 2010. Embarkation Embarkation was the worst part of this vacation. In fact, 4 hours into the cruise I wondered if we made a mistake even coming! We arrived at the Port of LA (San Pedro) at 11am. It was mass confusion and the port workers were just standing around. No one was helpful. We had to push through crowds and follow porters around asking for help until one would actually take our luggage. Then we just wandered around until we found lines to stand in. We waited for a long time to get checked in though security, etc. We did see the staff confiscating alcohol that people had in their carry-ons. They had a big bin they were throwing it in. When we finally got through the lines there was no place to sit. They were not letting anyone on the ship so everyone was waiting and there were not enough seats. We all ended up sitting on the dirty disgusting floor to wait. It was very uncomfortable and chilly. Finally (after two hours!) at 1:00pm they started letting groups on per number but they didn't have any microphone or loudspeaker. Just one staff member and three thousand or so tired passengers trying to hear him shout. The people in the front of the line/crowd would hold up fingers to show the boarding group and it was like the children's game of telephone with people passing down the info on the boarding group. Awful. When we got on ship we were really tired and ticked off. The kids were hungry so we went to the Promenade Cafe just to get away from the lines. That was nice and peaceful and we grabbed a quick snack (cookies, etc) and went to check out our rooms since they were ready (it was 1:30 or so.) Then we were still hungry so we went to the windjammer buffet to eat lunch. AWFUL! Crowded! No tables. Total mess. That was when I began to worry that this cruise was a bad idea. Luckily things got much better from there. Ship Mariner OTS is gorgeous! Loved, loved, loved the ship and would happily sail on her again! Beautifully decorated and classy without being stuffy. The promenade was our favorite place. We liked to hang out there snacking, grabbing a glass of wine, people-watching, and just enjoying ourselves. We went often to Cafe Promenade for coffee and little snacks. The Pool deck was fun though loud. Never had a problem finding a sunny chair near the pool and didn't notice any chair hogs. The fitness center (ship shape center?) was beautiful. Gorgeous hot tub in it that I didn't discover until day 6! Jogging track was fun because you could see all the action on the pool deck as you exercised. We tried ice-skating at Studio B. We did mini golf a few times. Great sports facilities like a basketball court and rock-climbing wall. Our 10 year old niece was able to rock climb several times. Solarium and adults only pool was beautiful and quiet. Kids loved the free ice scream (soft serve) by the pool but I found it inedible. We didn't use the screening room, library, spa, or internet center. The schooner bar was tons of fun and they often had trivia there, which was a blast. Lots of music around the ship. There was always so much to do. We were never bored. We didn't have time to do all we wanted and agreed we would have liked 2 weeks on the ship. And the best part of the ship: the AWESOME CASINO! Whoooohoooo! Ok, we don't usually gamble or go to casinos. But on the last morning we were playing the quarter slots in the casino and I won $750. Can I say Whoooohoooo again??? This paid for the expenses we had accrued on our sea pass account (3 pets at sea, photos, lots of liquor, Chops, etc!) as well as the tips at the end of the cruise (which was really expensive.) I spent $25 to win that $750 but still, great way to end a cruise! Room We had a junior suite on deck nine (Room 9298) and the interior room across the hall (9297). Beautiful rooms. We were very happy with them. The JS was spacious enough for 4 people (2 adults and 2 kids). The kids slept on the fold out couch and my husband and I had the king size bed. The room attendant made up the bed each evening and then put it away each morning so we could have plenty of room. Lots of storage (more than we needed for a family of 4!) and the walk in closet was perfect for us. Dining We enjoyed the dining experience in the Main Dining Room. Our waitress was lovely. After the first day she always had fruit cups ready for the kids before we came, and some flavored water from the windjammer buffet for my husband. All of our MDR dinners were ok except one. We went to the MDR for lunch and breakfast as much as possible. MRD for lunch had a great salad bar. Loved the little touches at the salad bar like the fresh breads and brie. We didn't enjoy the Windjammer experience much but the food was ok and had a very impressive variety. We loved the afternoon snack at the Windjammer where they had bread pudding and vanilla sauce every day. The staff in the windjammer was wonderful and would come around to make animal balloons for my kids. Best part of dining on Mariner OTS - Chops and Portofinos. At Chops I had one of the best meals of my life. It was incredible. The cheesecake . . . oh, that cheesecake! Delicious! We did the Mystery Dinner at Portofinos. Great meal and great fun. The wine was included in the package and kept flowing. They just kept refilling my glass and I finally had to ask them to stop! I also ordered a Chops steak one night in the MDR. It cost $15 but I was very happy and enjoyed being able to eat such a nice dinner in the MDR with the kids. Oh, then there was Johnny Rockets. Ok food but the service was terrible. Would not go there again. Shows Don't miss the Ice Skating Show! It is a must-do! We also saw the headliner performance and that was a fun Las Vegas type of show. Kids Program I have mixed feelings about the kids club (Adventure Ocean.) The three kids were each in different groups. The 4 year old was in the Aquanauts (age 3-5), the 6 year old was in the Explorers (age 6-8) and the 10 year old was in the 9-11 age room. The space was cute. They had some cute themes like pirates, circus, etc. They did some special events like one night they dressed up as pirates and took over the Royal Promenade. They did a circus performance in the Royal Promenade one night. And on the last night of the cruise (October 30, day before Halloween) they took the kids on a trick or treating parade around the ship. My kids wanted to go to Adventure Ocean every chance they could. On the negative side, I wasn't all that impressed with the counselors. They smiled a lot and were energetic but didn't seem like they liked kids all that much. They were not very warm and loving and I didn't feel like my son was treated very well there. I opted not to send them the last day because I just wasn't comfortable with the quality of the staff even though my kids wanted to go and I wanted the time to relax! We all played together as a family instead. Ports We stopped at three ports on this cruise. Cabo San Lucas was our least favorite. We didn't plan any excursions and decided to explore and eat lunch. We went to Solomon's because it was recommended by tripadvisor and cruise critic. My family didn't enjoy the meal and it was very expensive. The day was very hot and humid and we were bothered by all the aggressive vendors so we returned to the ship. Mazatlan was great! My favorite day of the cruise. We booked the Stone Island Getaway through RCI. One of the nice things about the excursion was that the tour guides met us on the ship in the Lotus Lounge so we were very comfortable as we waited for everyone and learned about our day. The guides were excellent. They took us on a short boat ride to Stone Island. Then we boarded a large wagon pulled by a tractor for a tour of the small village. We arrived at the beach and restaurant area for a very fun and relaxing day. The water was warm and the waves gentle so it was perfect for the kids. We rented boogie boards (2 boards for 30 minutes was $10 though they didn't check the time.) My mother in law had a massage on the beach that was $20 for 30 minutes. She thought it was great. We lounged in hammocks and enjoyed the open bar. It was a great vacation day. Puerto Vallarta was our third port and we booked an excursion through RCI for a day at Las Caletas. For most of our group this was their favorite port day. My husband and kids loved the monkey encounter and we got great pictures. My 10-year-old niece had a blast on the zip line and went 5 times. The kids caught crabs on the beach and played with them. My mother-in-law and niece did the kayaking. There was a ton to do there. I had a massage ($25 for 30 minutes). The lunch was very tasty. Disembarkation We had a 9:40 disembarkation time. It was better than embarkation. My daughter woke up sick that morning (vomiting) and my son was having melt down tantrums so disembarkation was awful for us but not the ship's fault on that one. Overall a great cruise. We would happily sail on Mariner OTS again. Read Less
Sail Date October 2010
We sailed the Mariner of the Seas on 10-10-10. I'd have to say our cruise was about as close to a perfect 10 as we could hope for with our family. Great fun, good weather, lots to do on and off the ship. Embarking went fairly ... Read More
We sailed the Mariner of the Seas on 10-10-10. I'd have to say our cruise was about as close to a perfect 10 as we could hope for with our family. Great fun, good weather, lots to do on and off the ship. Embarking went fairly swiftly. We arrived about 1, found a porter, and checked in after waiting in a line for less than 10 minutes. After the obligatory SeaPass and boarding photos, they turned us loose on the ship. We explored our rooms and the upper decks with the sports and Adventure Ocean until dinnertime. ROOMS: We had a D1 balcony on Deck 7 and our 4 kids (14, 11, 8, and 5) were across the hall in an inside cabin. We liked this arrangement and always felt safe with it. Four kids in an inside wasn't too crowded to sleep in but storage was an issue. We saw our steward frequently and while she wasn't gushing/friendly, she was efficient and kept them clean without disturbing us. FOOD: The Windjammer was busy, especially the first lunch and the last morning. We ended up using a table in Portofino both of those crazy times -- it was impossible to find a table for 6. Other than that we never had much trouble finding a table. Service at dinner the first evening was a little slower than we preferred and took close to two hours, too long with younger children. We spoke with our waiter and every night after that we were done in about an hour and 15 minutes, which was perfect. DD11 ordered from both the kids and adult menu depending on what she liked. I loved some of the food and thought some was just OK, but it was still hard to eat everything when you aren't used to a four-course dinner regularly! After hearing some glowing reviews, I visited the Promenade Cafe but never really saw much I wanted there. KIDS PROGRAM: Our kids loved the Adventure Ocean Program. They were each in a different age group, which I think was a good idea. DS14 made quite a few friends at the teen program. They had us sign all of the activity waivers at once so they could go ice skating, rock climbing, etc. together. He picked and chose what activities he wanted to do but I don't think many got canceled. There were more families than usual for this time of year on this cruise because it was a school break for AZ -- half the kids my kids met live within an hour of us! DD8 and DD11's groups had some activities in common but rarely did them at the same time. DS5 did coloring, games, crafts, videos, etc. The two youngest groups dressed up as pirates one night and "took over" the ship with chants and a treasure hunt. They also made occasional "field trips" to the frozen yogurt machine by the pool, another favorite of my kids. I felt the leaders in AO did a great job entertaining the kids. I also saw a lot of safety -- checking our SeaPasses, taking the sign-in book around the ship, doing regular headcounts when they were outside of the AO room. ACTIVITIES/SPORTS: We did it all! My kids learned to ice skate and inline skate, neither of which the younger ones had tried. The Learn to Ice Skate lesson on day 6 was very helpful -- sign up on day 2. They climbed the rock wall, played miniature golf, basketball, etc. The inline skating times seemed the most limited of the sports deck activities. The pool area was warmest on port days and on days 2 and 6. I was glad I brought the kids' goggles for the saltwater pools -- my kids are fish! SHOWS: We like music and enjoyed both of the standard production shows, including the new Center Stage (more singing and musicians, less dancing). The ice show was incredible. We sat on the port side and they used DD8 and DS5 in the circus train. We chose to carry our own luggage off at the end and it was almost no time from the when we got an elevator off our floor until we emerged on the sidewalk. Read Less
Sail Date October 2010
1) Flight and Pre-Cruise Hotel We flew into LAX the day before our cruise via our favorite airline, Southwest. Thanks to advice from Cruise Critic, we had made reservations for the Super Shuttle and the van picked us up at the ... Read More
1) Flight and Pre-Cruise Hotel We flew into LAX the day before our cruise via our favorite airline, Southwest. Thanks to advice from Cruise Critic, we had made reservations for the Super Shuttle and the van picked us up at the assigned location and took us to our hotel in short order. We stayed at the Crowne Plaza in San Pedro which is a short distance from the cruise port. Again, thanks to Cruise Critic, we had made reservations via Priceline and got a terrific room for $75 plus tax. We had dinner at the San Pedro Brewery (recommended by Cruise Critic posters) which was a block and a half up the street in what appeared to be a safe area. The next morning I walked up to the Numero Uno Market (about a ten minute walk from the hotel) and purchased a 12 pack of Diet Pepsi to take on the ship (no problems getting it aboard inside my carry on) and some terrific Mexican pastries for breakfast. We settled for coffee which we made ourselves in the room. The hotel provided a free shuttle to the port (first come, first served). We only had to wait a short amount of time for what was a very short ride. 2) Embarkation We arrived at the port shortly after 10:30 and were checked in very quickly with no lines, but ended up waiting for over an hour in the terminal as the Mariner was undergoing its annual Coast Guard inspection. Shortly before noon, we were allowed to board and since our cabin was not ready, we headed up to the Windjammer for lunch. It was starting to get crowded, but we did find a table and our cruise had begun. An announcement was made that cabins would not be ready until 2 p.m. due to the earlier inspection, so after lunch we took photos and enjoyed the sun on top deck. 3) Cabin/Steward/and Smoking At 2 p.m. we ventured to our cabin, #7626. It was a "hump" cabin just a few steps from the elevator on the port side in the center-rear of the ship. The cabin was clean and spacious with plenty of storage space. We never met our steward until he delivered our luggage at about the time of sail-away. ON past cruises, the steward usually makes it a point to stop by in the afternoon to introduce himself, but this one did not. We don't expect much from our steward other than making the bed each day, changing the towels, and keeping the ice bucket filled. Ours did just that, but not much more. No big deal, but attention to detail was lacking (e.g. the vanity lights had a burned out bulb all week, one of the reading lamps was dangling, and the televsion screen could have been cleaned. Smoking is always a controversial issue on these boards, and we are now 2 for 4 on RCCL ships. There was often a smell of smoke. Not overwhelming like the chain smokers next to us on the Jewel of the Seas, but annoying nonetheless. When will RCCL smarten up and not allow smoking on the balconies? 4) Dining *My Time Dining: We were introduced to My Time Dining on Independence of the Seas and it made us converts. We dined the the MDR on six of the seven nights. We never had to wait more than a couple of minutes for a table for two and after the first night requested he same wait staff of Richard and Scott who were fantastic. With My Time Dining, the tips are prepaid, but we had such great service, we left each of them additional on the final night. *Quality of Food: This is certainly an objective issue and I have felt that posters have been hypercritical on Cruise Critic in the past. Overall, we enjoyed our meals, but they were not spectacular. I am a big guy and usually never complain, but one night I only ate half of my steak because of the poor quality. In fairness, I did not say anything to the waitstaff, but just let it go. It was my own fault. *Windjammer: We had breakfast our first day in the MDR and were irritated that they would not seat us at a table for two. We found service to be horribly slow and thus ate in the Windjammer for breakfast for the rest of the cruise. The selections were great although at times we had to look around for a table. We found that if we arrived before 9 a.m., it was easier to get a table. We had lunch in the Windjammer on the first day and two of the sea days. It was okay, but none of the meals were memorable. *Chops: We always go to a specialty restaurant on the first of the so-called formal nights. It makes for a nice romantic meal that it much quieter than the main dining room. Although they no longer bring out a cart before you order to show you what is available (unfortunate, the food and service were outstanding. We had the Mississippi Mud Pie for dessert. Awesome! Although some debate doing so, we left the wait staff an additional $20 tip for the excellent service. *Johnny Rockets: The first time we went to Johnny Rockets was on the Independence of the Seas and it was a great diversion on a sea day for lunch. The dancing waiters are a hoot. There is a $4.95 pp cover charge. RCCL used to have a BOGO Free coupon, but no longer although you can get a BOGO milkshake. Buy the time you are done, you have paid close to $20 with tip. I am not so sure that it is worth it, but there was quite a line, so RCCL is making some bucks. *Dress Code: How folks dress is a major issue on these boards although I am not sure why. Quite frankly "The Clothes Police" only exist on Cruise Critic. Do not let anyone intimidate you or try to relegate you to dine in another venue because you do not meet their standards, especially on the so-called formal nights. I do not own a tux nor a suit that fits well, thus I wore a long sleeved dress shirt with tie, dark pants, and a blue blazer. No one said a word, nor did I discern any dirty looks. I normally don't pay attention to what others wear, but I did look around on both of the so-called formal nights and estimate the following. Approximately... ...10% wore a tux ...40% wore a suit ...25% wore a sport coat with or without a tie ...10-15% wore a long sleeved shirt with or without a tie ...10-15% wore something else *Room Service: We used to always order chicken drumettes through room service in the late afternoon and enjoy them with a cheese plate and a drink on the balcony to watch the sunset. The drumettes are no longer available and thus we did not use room service. Another cutback from RCCL. 5) Meet and Mingle and Cabin Crawl Cruise Critic had a number of us participating on the forum board and many of us were looking forward to the Meet and Mingle on the first sea day. Quite frankly, RCCL was overwhelmed with the number who showed up. They assigned only one junior member of the Cruise Director's staff. By the time everyone had signed in and he made his speech and awarded raffle prizes, the time was up. That's right, at the conclusion of his remarks he told us to feel free to stay and meet one another, but that we needed to vacate the room in about ten minutes or so as another function was going to take place. Way to go, RCCL, "Here is your hat and coat. What is your hurry?"!! We did have a cabin crawl on the second sea day and it was terrific. We had made it a point to meet up and a group of us had the chance to visit cabins of Cruise Critic forum posters. Now my wife and I have been on 19 cruises and have only had a balcony on the last four. You should have seen the look on her face when she saw the size of an aft balcony. The Royal Family Suite left her speechless (and that does not happen often)! 6) Activities and Entertainment We have been on many cruises and quite frankly find the production shows to be old hat, thus we skipped them. You know you are getting old when you are in bed at 10 p.m. on a cruise! We do enjoy string music and looked forward to relaxing in the Ellington Lounge, but left after 15 minutes because it was so bad. We enjoyed the ice show on the Independence of the Seas and looked forward to it on the Mariner and were disappointed that it was only held earlier in the week. We expected it to be repeated later in the week. It wasn't! We enjoy trivia on sea days and participated in several. We love to read and were greatly disappointed with the limited selection and hours in the library. Although it was right around the corner from our room, books were locked up and could only be checked out for a couple of hours a day. I did speak to the staff on the last day and they said that previous to that week, it was open 24/7 and sign out was on the honor system. Evidently many, many books had sprouted legs and had walked off the ship. We did enjoy some historical lectures by a professor from Oregon State University on Mexcio which were held on all three sea days. What a refreshing change from those silly Port Shopping talks! 7) Port Reviews: See separate section below. 8) Disembarkation: The last day is a great deal of hurry up and wait, so we cleared our cabin by 8 a.m. and went topside for breakfast in the Windjammer. Since we were extending our stay in the LA area and did not need to make a flight, we played by the rules,reported to our assigned location and waited until our luggage tag color was called. Unfortunately, many others did not. By the time our color was called some 30 minutes later than the tentative time listed, the line to get off of the ship was huge. To make matters worse, once you found your luggage in the terminal, Customs and Immigration officials were overwhelmed and the line moved ever so slowly. 9) Post Cruise: Once we left the terminal with out luggage, we caught the van for Enterprise Car Rental which took us to their office where picking up our car for the day was a snap (again thanks to Cruise Critic posters for the advice). We spent three days in the LA area. Some highlights: *A visit to the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley. He is not one of my favorite presidents, but one can not overlook the historic value of the visit. *We stayed for three nights at the Comfort Inn in Santa Monica. Clean, safe, and convenient with a great breakfast. *We visited the Santa Monica Pier and found dinner at a place called Carrows to be excellent. *We took an all day tour of LA, Hollywood, and Beverly Hills through Star line Tours. They will pick you up and return you to your hotel. *Driving is surprisingly easy in the LA area even with the freeways, remember we are from New England where the streets of Boston are configured from old cow paths! My wife is a fan of the "Combat" television series from the sixties and we took some time exploring Franklin Canyon which is north of Hollywood. *We went to the Warner Brothers Studios to see a taping of the "Big Bang Theory" television series. What an experience! Warning--you must reserve tickets a month in advance on line and they go fast. *Our hotel was a ten minute drive from LAX and returning our rental car was a snap. We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and had a terrific cruise! Read Less
Sail Date October 2010
We are an Australian family and this cruise was our third and last leg of our American Californian holiday and it was the best way to finish it off. Through cruise critic we were able to get some great ideas. We had a precruise stay at ... Read More
We are an Australian family and this cruise was our third and last leg of our American Californian holiday and it was the best way to finish it off. Through cruise critic we were able to get some great ideas. We had a precruise stay at the Doubletree San Pedro and were extremely happy. We booked a harbour view room as I thought we could see the cruise ship, this was not the case but the room and service were great and it was so convenient with the complimentary shuttle. The embarkation was sooo easy. We arrived at about 11.30 and there was no waiting at all. We had our seapass already to go. We should have taken a small carry on bag with us on board with fragile items in it as the loading up of the bags is pretty full on but we had no breakages and no problems. We went straight to the Windjammer and secured a table (just) and enjoyed a beautiful lunch. It was my husbands first cruise on Royal and he has heard me rave about them for the last two years so I was really pleased to see that the ship was spotless and the cruise staff were all fantastic. Our room was a balcony (how cool) and it was great. We had our 24yr old son with us and our 17yr old daughter so the cabin was way small for the four of us but that was our budgetary choice. Our steward was five stars. She was so quiet, unobtrusive and super efficient. We had My time dining which I would definitely do again. Even though we seemed to always get there at 6.10, we didn't feel the pressure of having to be there at a certain time. Our staff at the table were excellent. The only hiccup we had was the bar service.....it was almost non existent and because the food waiters were so efficient, our predinner drink normally became a desert drink! It was only one particular drink staff that was the problem and when my husband made a little noise, the head waiter was so efficient in rectifiying the problem it was a bit embarrasing, but in an excellent way. Our 24yr old had the cruise of his life and loved it. Our 17yr old became sick on board and we had to use the medical facilities on board. The Doctor we saw was fantastic, lovely and kind. It cost us $500!!!!!!!but that's what Insurance is for. She found the teen club was really great for meeting new people and she met some great friends. She has cruised before with Royal and others and found the staff for the teenagers sat back a lot more and let the kids organise themselves. This was a bit disappointing for her as normally they get involved, dance and play games with them. The entertainment was very mixed. Needless to say, the Ice Show was excellent and the Beatles tribute was great. We did not really enjoy the Royal Carribean dancers and singers....Individually they were very good, costumes were excellent but the material they had to work with was very poor. The dancers were shoved to the back too much and there was too much singing of songs no one has ever heard before and gospel type of music is not my scene. This was a pity as our last Royal cruise the dancers and singers had great material. The Cruise Director was very funny but it was a hard act for the other comedians on board as they came nowhere close. I would rather have had a show with the cruise director!! We took three tours. The first was a ship tour in Cabo San Lucas. Do not bother buying any souvenirs in this port as they are soo expensive. They are more expensive than Disneyland souvenirs!! Very pretty place but the ship tour we went on (City highlights) was very mundane. The second tour we took was a private tour with Frank Mazatlan at Mazatlan and this was fantastic. He is the best tour guide and we loved Mazatlan because of Frank. Our third tour was in Puerto Vallarta and we did ziplining and rappelling. It was a great experience but considering the mexican wages, the prices for photography was nothing short of extortion. This was our first attempt at doing a tour outside the ship and we were very impressed and will do more next time. The disembarkation progress with customs was a nightmare. Too few custom officers for too many travellers from outside USA. Standing in line for over an hour at 7am in the morning is not acceptable. We took the option of taking our own luggage off the ship and it worked really well. All in all, this cruise was fantastic. Royal Carribean are definitely up there with the best and we will be cruising again soon with them. Read Less
Sail Date October 2010
This was my third time on the Mariner OTS and I will probably not go back. We stayed the night before at the Crowne Plaza in San Pedro. We chose that because of the proximity to the ship. Beautiful hotel room, but the area had a ... Read More
This was my third time on the Mariner OTS and I will probably not go back. We stayed the night before at the Crowne Plaza in San Pedro. We chose that because of the proximity to the ship. Beautiful hotel room, but the area had a little to be desired. They have a shuttle to the pier and we got to sleep in expecting to arrive on board around 1pm so we could go right to the cabin, but that did not happen. Upon arrival at the pier we were greeted to a very long line that wrapped around in a lot of different directions. There were no ropes or lines to tell you where to go and not a lot of RCCL people to make sure the line was being directed correctly. We saw a lot of people just cutting in line. It took us around 45 minutes to get through security and to the desk. Check-in was flawless and smooth. We proceeded to the gangway and another line. There were some problems with the security check in on board and it created another line. We finally were through and on board around 1:15 and wanted to go straight to the cabin. Onward to deck 8 and the doors are shut. No information. Its after 1pm and the sign on the doors say cabins will be available at 1pm. HMMMMM. We go up to the Windjammer and its an absolute zoo. No seating, lots of people. This is what happens when the cabins aren't ready at 1. We ask the staff if Johnny Rockets is open and they say no so we go in. Finally get a plate and start the search for a place to sit with no luck, so we try for the open bench just outside the door and are stopped and told that no food is supposed to leave the Windjammer. Surprising since every other RCCL ship I have been on, including the previous times on the Mariner, allowed food to leave. When my wife explained that there were no seats, the person said "not my problem you can't take the food out." We left the food on the table with the ice sculpture and walked out. We went to the upper deck and Johnny Rockets was open. If they would have told us that in the first place, we wouldn't have even walked into the windjammer. Johnny Rockets is always worth the trip. We finally got to the cabin and it was very nice as always. Our cabin steward was right there when we arrived and promptly filled our request for extra pillows. She was always very attentive to us, even on the days where we didn't leave the cabin until after lunch. Our luggage arrived before dinner and we were able to change and we went to the dining room for our early seating. Our dining room waiter was tops. He was funny and always on top of things that needed to be done. Our assistant waiter left some to be desired and we made sure our comment card reflected that. The food during the week was good. Lots of fish choices, more than I can remember. As for the ports of call, we chose this itinerary because it was something different for us. Im glad we did it but, I am also glad RCCL is discontinuing this itinerary. Cabo San Lucas was nice to sail into. The harbor is beautiful. Lots of great scenery. We tendered to the dock with no problems, a nice smooth ride with little wait for the tenders. When you get to the pier be ready for the constant calls for taxis, tours, souvenirs, and anything else under the sun. It was like running a gauntlet. We walked around town a little and went to the Cabo Wabo cantina and some shops. Very nice people in the shops, but when we were done we had to run the gauntlet again. Tender service back was smooth as well. Mazatlan was a pit. We docked at a cargo terminal and had to take a tram to the entrance once off the ship. Through a mini gauntlet we got in one of the recommended taxis for a ride to the "golden zone", about 3 miles from the ship and the only place the ship recommends you go for "safety reasons" as per the port shopping guide. Halfway through the ride I asked the driver how much longer it was and he said "oh you want the golden zone", a few minutes later we were there. Ship stated the price was $10 one way but he said it was $20, because he took us to 2 spots. I gave him $10 and said no way. There was little to nothing golden about the "golden zone" I think we stayed there about an hour walking and back to the ship. Puerto Viarta. No too much to say about this port. We didn't really explore. Again a gauntlet of vendors to get anywhere. We just went just outside the port to get some postcards and small trinkets. As for other on board experiences, the activities seemed to be cut back. There seemed to be a little less. I loved to play bingo on board but they changed the game. If you just wanted the cards it was around $42 or for over $50 you got a machine that told you you would win. You didn't have to even pay attention to the numbers. The problem was that most, if not all of the winners had purchased the machine. The most fun was the activity called "The Quest" I haven't laughed that hard in a long time. It was a total blast. This is an adult only activity that I have been to many times, but this was by far the best one. The guest entertainers were good, and the late night comedy was great. The production shows are typical cruise line shows. The promenade parades were great. For some reason I thought there were 3, but there were 2 on this one. Only one other issue during portrait night. We were waiting in line for the portraits to be done and when we finally arrive at the front of the line the photographer put up a sign and said she was going on break. Someone who seemed to be a supervisor said something to her in a non-English language and she just looked at him and walked away. Again something we noted on the comment card. Overall it was a nice cruise. Nice and relaxing. I just seemed to me that they are cutting back on the activities and perks for the Crown and Anchor members. Our on board booklet was a lot different, less coupons. No art auction, we always enjoyed that. I love RCCL, but I think they are concentrating on the larger ships. My last cruise was on the Independence and they activities and perks were more plentiful. It could have been my imagination, but some of the crew were just going through the motions, maybe it was the same itinerary every week for them. Read Less
Sail Date October 2010
This was my parents Christmas gift to my brother's & my families. 12 of us--6 adults plus 6 kids from 9-15. Oct. 24-31. We have cruised Princess & Disney; Mom & Dad have done Celebrity, RCCL, Princess & NCL; Brother ... Read More
This was my parents Christmas gift to my brother's & my families. 12 of us--6 adults plus 6 kids from 9-15. Oct. 24-31. We have cruised Princess & Disney; Mom & Dad have done Celebrity, RCCL, Princess & NCL; Brother had only done Carnival. We flew into LAX the day before & had a limo waiting for the kids--they were tickled with the surprise! We stayed at the San Pedro Doubletree & was pleasantly surprised that it was more resort-like than I expected. We headed over to the port at 10:00 Sunday and there were about 50 in line in front of us. We were let in about 10:30. First led to one set of chairs, then called to check in, led to another set of chairs. Unfortunately they did not open for embarkation until 12:15, and then there was standing room only in our section, and hearing them call for numbers was an issue. We did embark with little issue, and were actually on board by 12:40--tho your room isn't "ready" until 1:00 (not much fun to haul carry ons..) Walked around a bit, dropped luggage, headed to Windjammer for lunch--BIG mistake. NOWHERE to sit. We chose to head back to Promenade for a calmer bite to eat. We had adjoining Oceanview cabins. Much nicer for the 5 of us than our Family Suite was on Disney. Always room for everything. I prefer Princess' set up with the large open closet that faces the bathroom, which gives privacy to dressing but does chop the room up a bit. We were on the second floor--loved the easy access to Promenade, casino. Ryan was a lovely lovely steward--he chatted often with us & the kids. It was too cool to hit the pool so we just toured the ship. We made the kids go to kids club & teen club the first night & they made fast friends and were there every evening--in fact, our 10 year old son spent 2 port days at kids club, his choice! Dinner with Henri was always wonderful--he knew what we wanted before we even asked. I was very pleased with RCCL food after hearing so many bad reports--I was particularly impressed with dessert & I'm not a dessert person (basically if it had coconut, I was in heaven; DD12 is a chocoholic & almost overdosed)! Also several pastas were great--and I don't consider myself a good pasta person! Escargots--YUM. Windjammer was remarkably good(not a huge buffet fan), but seating could be a real issue. Breakfast & lunch in MDR was fast & yummy. Promenade was good but I was sick of ham & cheese croissants by the end of the week. I really missed pizza & burgers by the pool on Princess. Just wished there were more free food choices. The ports were fine. Cabo the beach was FANTASTIC but the vendors are relentless. Mazatlan we never left the port shopping area; had fun at the bar/shopping there. Peurta Vallarta was a big hit w/ the kids--felt like FLorida. They insisted we hit the mall across the street first! Then headed to "downtown" for their first experience at Senor Frogs--thankfully it was not busy, but we had a very fun waiter. Sea days coming back were quite brisk (hit the pool on the first sea day!)--not exactly the warm pool days in the Caribbean. We did like the large whirlpools. We do feel that Princess had a wider range of activities available at any given time...there was some dead time for us this cruise (unheard of!)But by the end of the week we were in our groove. Bingo is busier on Princess, but trivia was busier (and Fun!) on RCCL. Love & marriage show, entertaining as always. Casino much bigger than Princess, but we like their hosts better--more visible. We did play in Poker tourneys--DH, DB & I all made the final 9 on Saturday; then we were top 3!! The guys got cash for 2/3 & I won a cruise on the Allure for first!!! Funny, as I had mentioned to DH that the Oasis or the Allure was my ship of choice for his 50th in 2 years...guess next Dec. it is! Disembarkation was smooth & fast; there was a bit of a delay getting our van, but it didn't take too long to get worked out. Overall, we felt that RCCL was comparable to Princess and would not hesitate to sail them again. The kids said RCCL was WAY better than DCL. I doubt we will sail MX Riviera again, prefer the heat & relaxed nature of the Caribbean. Read Less
Sail Date October 2010
Just returned from 7 wonderful days aboard Mariner of the Seas, what a fantastic ship!!!!!!! As the title explains I am terrified of water, but, felt that I was holding other family members back from the enjoyment of a cruise so we ... Read More
Just returned from 7 wonderful days aboard Mariner of the Seas, what a fantastic ship!!!!!!! As the title explains I am terrified of water, but, felt that I was holding other family members back from the enjoyment of a cruise so we booked and headed off on a holiday of a life, we were in America for 10 days prior to the cruise, then the day itself arrived After tears and wanting to head home and not get aboard I was persuaded to go and enjoyed every second, did not want to get off. From the moment we stepped aboard the crew made me feel at ease, explained what and where we had to go, things we had to do and this continued for 7 days, happy faces everywhere you looked. The ship was immaculate throughout never a sticky finger anywhere did we see. The dining was first class from beginning to end, we ate breakfast and lunch at the windjammer and dinner in the Sound of Music dining room, with excellent service by our waiter Nemo and Assistant waiter Ian, we had booked my tme dining but chose to sit at the same table every evening because of the first class service we recieved. The food on offer was beautifully presented every day and choice was incredible, not one complaint except from the waistline We did not book any trips as we were really not wanting to do alot as we had had a busy 10 days prior to the cruise, but, we did get off in Cabo and Puerto Vallarta. The entertainment onboard was brilliant, well done to all the entertainment crew you did an excellent job! Our stateroom attendant Althea looked after us very well indeed,and saw to our sons needs every day. We can not praise this ship enough and have already booked another cruise. As i said at the top if you are terrified of the water try it i did and loved it, and yes i should have done it earlier, what i have missed out of for so long, going to make up for it now. I read alot of reviews before going and had mixed feelings about the ship and the food but i need not have worried, if you listen to some people they will always find something to complain about, take it from me and book this ship and enjoy where ever she may sail!!!! THANK YOU TO CAPTAIN PIER AND ALL YOUR CREW FOR A FANTASTIC 7 DAYS!!!!!!!!!! Read Less
Sail Date October 2010
My husband, two teenage daughters and me took our 8th cruise - third time down the Mexican Riviera. We're from Arizona so it's convenient! Embarkation We arrived around 1pm to discover a long line outside the ... Read More
My husband, two teenage daughters and me took our 8th cruise - third time down the Mexican Riviera. We're from Arizona so it's convenient! Embarkation We arrived around 1pm to discover a long line outside the terminal building. You would think we were at Disneyland. It was hot and the line was not moving - really. I walked up to the front of the line to see porters emerging from the building. At the same time, cars were pulling up dropping off passengers and their luggage & flagging down the porters that just came out. I spoke to the head guy and said what about the people that have been standing in line for over 45 minutes - what kind of system is this? The head guy agreed but the porters just went with the passengers who "grabbed" them. So I joined the "Joneses" and flagged a porter and asked(okay begged) to walk with me to where my family was waiting. The rest of the embarkation went smoothly but this porter system needs to be fixed! Ship The ship is beautiful and the Royal Promenade in the middle of the ship is a great idea. The decor of the Promenade is contemporary & modern but what happened with the design of the cabin areas/carpet? The interior designer(s) must have stepped back a decade to the 1990's with the light finishes. The Savoy Theater is stunning and the stage curtain is extraordinary with its embellishments. Entertainment The highlights of the cruise were the comedian hypnotist - never did catch his name and Revolution - Beatles Tribute. Although beautifully staged and choreographed, the production shows seemed to cater to the 65 plus crowd. The first night featured obscure jazzy/show tunes and put us all to sleep!! Their other show was no better although they included some Elton John! They need to take their cue from Carnival if Royal wants to attract a younger crowd. At least their shows feature music from the each decade and popular tunes! And speaking of age group, I head read from previous posts that HAL seemed to cater most to an older crowd with Carnival the youngest. I expected Royal to be in the "middle". My teenage girls were greatly disappointed as they felt their were hardly any kids their age on this cruise. In fact, both my husband(in his 50's and myself - 40s) felt overwhelmed by the majority of people 65 plus on this cruise. Nothing wrong with that but created a different vibe for a family. Food The service was impeccable. We ate our meals in the main dining room - Sound of Music floor - overlooking the 3-story restaurant. Gorgeous restaurant and the best overall ambiance from any ship we've sailed so far. The food was good - but we're not picky eaters. The desserts were the best part of the meal - typically ordering at least two of their selections. What's another 1200 calories from the second dessert after you've already consumed 12,300 calories in the last 6 hours. The head waiter/manager for the Sound of Music floor was very attentive and personable! Although I've read complaints about the Windjammer(buffet food) and lack of seating - we never found that a problem. In fact, they had staff making sure tables were cleared and to assist diners to find tables. The food was okay and yes - the desserts were delicious. The coffee was rather bitter. Cabin The layout was very efficient but tight fit for four of us. Liked the small love seat but coffee table could go giving you more leg room. Great closet space and beds were very comfortable. The cabin steward was very friendly and did a great job taking care of our "messy" habits. Ports Since this is our third visit, we mainly did some shopping/beach at the ports. We opted for horseback riding with Randy's Happy Horses in Mazatlan and had a wonderful experience. Other *Cushioned chaise lounge chairs in the Solarium/adult area a big plus! *Jacuzzi temp could be hotter. Seemed lukewarm at best. *Huge line for soft ice cream. One machine was down for the entire cruise. *Nice casino - Lady who ran special events there was great fun - hosting various themed events each night. *Ice Show - Fantastic addition to the rather lackluster main entertainment at the Savoy theater. *Cruise Director - Keiron - the funniest and best cruise director we've experienced do far. *Fitness Center - nicely equipped and laid out. Read Less
Sail Date October 2010
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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