THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE UGLY: Mariner of the Seas Cruise Review by spelican

Mariner of the Seas 3
Member Since 2013
20 Forum Posts

Overall Member Rating


Sail Date: March 2013
Destination: Western Caribbean
Embarkation: Galveston
THE GOOD Embarkation: This was a breeze. We parked at the Park N Cruise outdoor lot across the street from the cruise terminals. We love to be able to roll our luggage right from the parking lot directly to the cruise terminal. No shuttle bus needed, and it is a short stroll to the ship both coming and going.

Luggage drop off was chaotic but manageable. We used the Platinum line, but didn't notice much of a line elsewhere. We were on board in 15 minutes from start to finish.

While some of our fellow travelers were disappointed in the food offerings, I felt the meals in the main dining room were of a better quality than our last RCI cruise on Voyager of the Seas. The meats, soups, salads, and appetizers were for the most part unique and very good. Our servers were very good. Unfortunately we were seated far away from the main dining room as far away from the action as you could get. We asked to be moved, but were not offered anything near the More main dining room. I was surprised by this, as we are Platinum, booked early, and selected late seating. It was a small thing, but consistent with the lowered level of customer service we experienced on this cruise. We did not do any of the dining experiences that cost an additional fee. Reviews hadn't been very good, and it seemed a bit excessive at $20-$30 per person per meal.

I thought the offerings in the Windjammer were varied and good too. We enjoyed the hot dog bar as well. The ice cream on the pool deck was a big hit as well. There is no need to purchase Starbucks coffee at additional charge, as there is free Seattle's Best coffee along the Promenade tucked towards the back of the Cafe. You just have to look for it.

Cabin 6218:
Great looking room with lots of little storage nooks to stow your stuff. The cabin has a small balcony with two chairs and a small table. The flat screen TV in each cabin is a nice addition since our last voyage. Make sure to let your kids and teens know that the items contained in the cabin fridge are not free. I think the sodas were $2.25 each, and the bottled water was $4.25 or thereabouts. Our cabin attendant Jose couldn't have been more wonderful, and was very helpful on numerous occasions.

Alcohol in luggage:
We had no problem packing rum, gin, vodka, crown royal, mixers, limes, and lemons in our luggage. We used airline bottles, flasks, and glass bottle of club soda and other mixers. Our travel mates simply packed full sized bottle of rum and vodka and had no problems. We packed a travel cooler and tipped our attendant to keep it full of ice. With our impressive cabin bar, we used large Tervis Tumblers we had packed to mix our own drinks in for poolside. When we ran out of mixers we simply ordered them at the bar and brought our airline bottles of liquor poolside. We cut our bar bill in half this cruise without very much effort. If RCI would cut the drink prices somewhat, I don't think we'd bother bringing our own on board. We still managed to rack up a $450 bar tab for the week, but previous 7-day cruises cost us closer to $800-$900.

The Ship:
Mariner of the Seas is a beautiful, large, well appointed ship. The bar and restaurant areas are very nice. The Promenade area is amazing as well. Ellington's above the Pool Deck provided a stunning view of the ship and ocean, and we enjoyed the theater.


Bar Service:
Our entire traveling party experienced extremely slow and poor bar service throughout the ship. Especially bad were all of the pool deck bars. A bartender we encountered named "Adrian" at the Sky Bar was consistently surly and rude in addition to being extremely slow. If you were on this cruise, I suspect you will recall this gentleman. I was amazed by how long it took to get a drink, mainly due to the fact that such delays cost RCI money. Alcohol sales appear to be the cruise industry's bread and butter, and there is no telling how much money in lost sales this cost RCI. Another particularly slow service bar was the Schooner Bar. One ray of sunshine was "Maria" working the small bar in the Casino. Very professional and could make a wonderful martini.

Drink Prices:
What can I say? Drink prices on Royal Caribbean are excessive. Here is a brief summary from our drink receipts that will give you a sense of the inflated prices on board:
Bud Light Aluminum bottle $5.25
Miller Lite aluminum bottle $5.25
16 oz draft beer $5.50
20 oz draft beer $5.95
Corona $4.75
Guiness can $5.95
Fosters can $6.95
Glass cabernet $9.00
Bacardi Rum drink $5.75
Absolut Vodka drink $6.00
Scewdriver $5.25
Patron Silver shot $7.75
Patron Reposado shot $8.75
Grey Goose martini $9.50

Staff Language Barriers:
We had quite a bit of difficulty on this cruise communicating with Asian staff and crew members. There seemed to be a much larger percentage of wait staff from China and Vietnam on this cruise than any other cruise we had been on. There were several instances when we simply could not communicate and had to move on to another server or staff member. I don't recall this happening on any previous cruise. I am assuming the current staff makeup is because the Mariner of the Seas will be repositioned to an Asian route soon, but it was frustrating nonetheless.


Pool Deck Recorded Music:
The music played in the pool deck area is simply dreadful. While I can understand the need to play certain line dance songs from time to time, does the same annoying set of songs have to be played every day all day? The Cha Cha Slide and the Wobble were played more times than I care to remember. I love the idea of laying out on the deck to the sound of loud music, but RCI needs to pay more attention to the passenger types on board. The power and influence of good music is amazing, as evidenced by the 70's Disco Night on the Promenade. I'm no great fan of disco music, but it was a fun, giant street party with everybody dancing. Hint, hint, Royal Caribbean. Imagine the possibilities of good music poolside.

Helpful music hint #1: When 80% of your Spring Break passengers are from Texas, throw in a few tunes for them. I'm not a big country music fan, but certainly would have understood some of that music genre being played from time to time.

Helpful music hint #2: When cruising the Caribbean, doses of Jimmy Buffett, Kenny Chesney, Zac Brown, Bob Marley etc. are always crowd pleasers. Didn't hear any of them once.

We heard quite a few of our fellow passengers mention how bad the music was. The notable exception were the live bands who would play from time to time poolside. The salsa band and the reggae band were great. Our complaints centered around the recorded music. What a great time would have been had poolside with a more varied mix of good music that appealed to more of the passengers (Reggae, Country, Pop, Classic Rock, Alternative, 70's, 80's, 90's, etc.)

Always a bad experience out of Galveston on Royal Caribbean. 2 hours to exit the ship and clear immigration. Most of that time (1 hour and 20 minutes) slowly negotiating a line through, around, and down from the ship.


This was our last cruise. We have watched the value of cruising decrease over the years, and it has now reached the point of nickel and dime tactics designed to separate the passenger from their money at every turn. 15% gratuity charges on merchandise purchases? Bottled water, juice and soda packages? $30 per person charges to enjoy higher quality dining experiences that used to be the norm for the regular dining room? I know I am preaching to the choir on this, but for us we reached a breaking point. The excessive prices combined with the poor service we experienced each day and evening at most of the bars was a deal breaker for us. Less

Published 03/18/13

Cabin review: D36218 Superior Oceanview Stateroom with Balcony

Mariner of the Seas Cabin #6218. This was a nice cabin towards the front of the ship. We enjoyed sound of the water hitting the hull under our balcony as we slept. It was akin to hearing the sounds of waves on a beach and we loved it. We did not notice any noises other than the sound of the anchor being lowered off the coast of Belize. It was also a good location for a quick trip for morning coffee. All you had to do was go down one deck and you entered almost directly into the part of the Promenade Cafe where the Seattle's Best Coffee was located. The main dining room and Windjammer was located on the other end of the ship. The workout facility and sauna was located above our part of the ship. We found our elevators to be a little less crowded than the other elevator banks on the ship. We think it was because we were away from the main pool area and the dining rooms.

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Port and Shore Excursions

With the lengthy tender process from the cruise ship, we didn't have the time necessary to take the water taxi over to Caye Caulker as we originally intended. Caye Caulker takes 45 minutes each way by water taxi, and the water was bit rough. Therefore, we visited the Pirate's Bar along the water in the Tourist Village. It had free wifi and was a welcome escape from the expensive beer prices on Mariner of the Seas. They make an outstanding Bloody Mary, and were offering two Belikin beers for $5 US. Not a bad deal. Belize City itself is not a safe area, and I would not recommend wandering the streets outside of the tourist village on your own.

We went to Paradise Beach. We caught a cab. Four of us $15 each way. We paid $2 each for beach chairs, and had great drink and food service at our beach chairs. Prices were very reasonable. Has a beautiful beach and a gigantic swimming pool with a large palapa bar. We paid a few extra dollars for our teenager to have access to the water toys anchored in the water along the beach. This was a very nice and relaxing day. We didn't book this with the cruise ship. We just walked out to the taxi stand, negotiated a price with the cab driver, arrived at Paradise Beach, and were greeted by a nice young man who collected our money, gave us wrist bands, and gave us a quick tour. The cab ride took approximately 15 minutes.
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We hired our own vehicle with a driver from Cinthia Tours for $15 per person roundtrip. We had a driver named Pablo for the day, and he loaded us into a newer model air conditioned 6-seat KIA of some type. He was a nice young man who took us down to the West End and then over to Bananarama. He talked us out of going to the overpriced Tabayana beach the cruise ship had offered for $60 per person. What a great recommendation! Bananarama was just down the beach from Tabayana and much less expensive and nicer. We paid $10 for a beach chair and umbrella and camped out on the beautiful beach in front of the Thirsty Turtle Bar & Restaurant. The two bartenders Derry and Edison took care of us, and we had a wonderful time. Amazingly great pizza at the Thirsty Turtle.
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