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Seven Seas Mariner Cruise Review
4.5 / 5.0
Cruise Critic Editor Rating
386 Reviews

Miami to San Francisco through the Panama Canal

Seven Seas Mariner Cruise Review by Choirdirector

6 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: Apr 2018
  • Destination: the Panama Canal & Central America

We wanted to go through the Panama Canal. We chose this itinerary because we LOVE Regent - all inclusive, never have to swipe your card or take care of anything. Air arrangements included and taken care of. First class all the way, in shore excursions and transfer arrangements, included a pre-cruise stay at the Kimpton Epic hotel in downtown Miami. Mariner just got out of dry dock in early April, all the public areas were completely redone, and cabins received a minor face lift. It’s a beautiful ship - we were in a Concierge E level cabin, large enough to be comfortable for our 18-day leg of this cruise. Embarkation in Miami was frustrating - computers were down and they could not register us. We sat in the cruise terminal (over lunchtime, so everyone was hungry and Impatient), with little information and only cookies to eat. They finally started to bring out a few trays of sandwiches which were snapped up by the first people they passed - none for the rest of us. We were finally called up by cabin category to have them register us by hand. Not a good way to start our vacation...

Our cabin was very nice, although we sailed on the new Explorer last year and this is not quite that nice. This cabin’s bathroom had only one sink, but the shower was large enough and the bathroom worked just fine for us.

Ship activities were low-key as the average passenger on this line is retired and does not need on-board climbing walls and surf pools. The pool area has cushioned lounges, a warm salt pool, a couple of spa tubs, and best of all - waiter service from the bar, and an attendant who comes around to clean your sunglasses.

I used the spa twice for massages - pricey but very good therapists.

Food on this cruise has to be experienced to be believed. It is like dining in a fine restaurant every day. There is a buffet for breakfast and lunch, but also a white tablecloth, fine dining alternative as well. For dinner, there is the Compass Rose main dining room, complete with sommelier, wine stewards, and impeccably uniformed waiters. While there seemed to be more new staff on this sailing (perhaps because the ship just got out of dry dock) who were less experienced, I am sure that will be addressed in the days to come. We did have issues with getting water and coffee refilled, and the wait staff was evidently learning to use a new ipad type ordering system that made ordering slow and occasionally incorrect. Food was fresh, cooked to order, and we typically spent 2 1/2 to 3 hours at dinner every night - we traveled with friends and made new friends as well, so dinner conversation was interesting and lively. Disembarkation was organized and smooth, with plenty of porter help for luggage. We have signed up for a cruise on the new RSSC Splendor in 2020, and look forward to another wonderful vacation with Regent.

Choirdirector's Full Rating Summary
Onboard Experience
Enrichment Activities
Value For Money
Public Rooms
Fitness & Recreation
Shore Excursions
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Cabin Review

Cabin Concierge E 974

We were on the port side of the ship, only a few doors down from the elevator lobby so very convenient. Mariner has been around since 2002 - had a major refurbishment i 2014 and again in 2018. Cabins got new linens and carpet. This cabin was not as well designed and spacious as we had on Explorer, which is a much newer ship. Not as much storage space, although still adequate. TV reception of primarily news channels was often spotty, I suppose due to our position. Sometimes it was just “out” for awhile. Large selection of in house movies. Shower is large enough and bath has one lavatory. No drawers for storage in the bathroom - just glass shelves and cabinets. Had a tiny vanity area and a good closet.

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews


Stayed overnight at the Kimpton Epic hotel - nice room, breakfast buffet included, transfered to pier.

Boarded a hop on hop off bus to go to the old Walled City, had a walking tour of the city, back on the bus to go back to the ship. You could stay on the bus to do a true hop on hop off self tour, but we chose to go back to the ship.

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Rainforest Aerial Tram Tour

We took a bus to a resort where we had a much too long walking tour of orchid gardens, butterfly and frog habitats, and a wild animal rescue center. The tram itself is a metal basket with seats - takes you up to a summit through the jungle. There is an observation tower there that you can ascend - it has ramps, not stairs, so not too hard. Good view from the top.

View All 14 Rainforest Aerial Tram Tour Reviews
Mangrove River Tour

Over 1 1/2 hours on a bus, partly on gravel and dirt roads, to get to the boat venue. Boats are fairly new, hard molded plastic seats were very uncomfortable, especially for larger guests. Did not see much in the way of wildlife, other than birds. Bus got lost going back, had to back up on a single lane dirt road to get back to the right road.

View All 35 Mangrove River Tour Reviews
Puerto Quetzal (Antigua)

There was civil unrest and rioting occuring in Nicaragua. Our cruise line wisely decided to skip this port, so we had an extra sea day.

San Juan del Sur

I put my review of San Juan del Sur under Puerto Quetzal and it won’t let me change it. So I will put my review of Puerto Quetzal here. We took a bus to the old city of Antigua, walking tour, ending in a Jade factory with gift shop. Lovely jewelry reasonably priced. Long ride by bus, but it wasn’t close to the port. Not a port to walk around in - cargo port.

Tour of city, stopped at hotel to see the famous cliff divers. Front row tables, but bring small bills for tips. The divers, folk dancers, and bathroom attendant all expect a tip.

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City Tour

Nice bus tour, included stop at a shopping area including jeweler. A drugstore next to the jeweler, which was also popular.

View All 66 City Tour Reviews

I was a bit under the weather on the day we got to Cabo, and since it is a tender port (requires taking a small boat from the ship to the port) and the water was choppy, I decided to skip the tour. My husband went, though, and it was his favorite tour. They saw lots of sea lions and he said the city is pretty. It was the one port he said he’d like to go back to for an extended stay.

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City bus tour was very brief, about 90 minutes which wasn’t long enough to really see much, given the traffic. Harbor cruise was nice, about an hour long. The pier is great and walkable, USS MIdway was just a short walk away. We were told there was a free shuttle to get to the old town area, but never found it.

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San Francisco

Disembarkation was smooth, nice bus to the airport.

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