Mariner of the Seas - June 27, 2010: Mariner of the Seas Cruise Review by gdisney

Mariner of the Seas 5
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Mariner of the Seas - June 27, 2010

Sail Date: June 2010
Destination: Mexican Riviera
Embarkation: Los Angeles
So, we had the good fortune of sailing on the Mariner just two days after our wedding. This was our fourth RCI cruise, and the largest ship and longest trip we had been on. We got lost in the parking lot - first time that's happened! Somehow I bypassed the person who normally tells you where to go, and ended up driving in circles trying to figure out where I should actually park, and how to get into the lot. There really isn't great signage...there also no signs indicating where to go once you've parked (as in signs indicating where luggage drop off is, for instance), so really you just head towards the throngs of people and hope for the best. As we were admittedly a little early, there were still crowds who had just gotten off the ship and were awaiting ground transportation. So after standing around looking lost for a bit, we finally saw a porter coming around who was obviously loading up new luggage, and we were able to off load.

Check-in was a snap! We got in the More building around 11:40am, walked right up to the available hosts, got checked in right away and proceeded immediately to the boarding line. This was so much better than previous cruises where we had to get a boarding group card and wait in a holding room. There was a bit of a line to get on the boat, but we were through in 5 minutes and on board!

The ship is beautiful and elegant. You can't say much more than that. Every crew member we encountered was friendly and helpful, and there seemed to be less urgency to up-sell wine or soda packages and so forth, which we experienced on smaller ships. The ship is laid out well, and it didn't take much time for us to feel like we knew our way around the ship. The maps at every elevator and on the promenade were exceptionally helpful. Probably the most "confusing" layout element is the split deck involving the promenade; if you're in the Savoy Theatre on Deck 3 forward and want to go to the Sound of Music Dining Room on Deck 3 aft, you actually have to go up a level or more to go across. Even that wasn't so bad.

This was our first trip with an ice skating rink, and the show did not disappoint! They were exceptionally talented and made use of their relatively small space quite well. The Singers and Dancers were okay - admittedly I think a better caliber than we had seen before (though one of our table mates who is a dancer was quite critical of their dancing ability). The shows themselves were not exceptionally entertaining; it's a material problem - the musical selections which by and large were not particularly well know to the audience. I thought the choreography and sets were top notch though. There was a Beatles tribute band that performed one night, and they were the best tribute band I have ever seen. Really went for an authentic feel, and delivered. There was also a juggler on the last night who was simply amazing, but the comedians were hit and miss. The first one we saw was actually pretty good, but the second, who joined the ship mid-cruise, did an "adult" comedy show which was PG at best and not particularly funny.

We found the food and food choices to be outstanding. Could they use more variety in the dining room? Sure, especially at lunch time. But the Windjammer had a great and expansive selection, and with so many additional choices you can't go wrong. We were certainly never hungry, nor did we get a chance to try everything. Service was exceptional and attentive everywhere. Johnny Rockets we did try. It wasn't bad, and certainly nice to have a milkshake. Is it worth spending $4.95 a person and $4.50 a milkshake when there's so many other free options? Well, I didn't mind trying it once but I don't think I would again. It was nice to have fries and onion rings and a burger way fresher than the Windjammer, I'll say that. Only one criticism of food - they overcooked the steaks. Every night, every person we saw, even in Portofino's. Rule of thumb - ask for it less done than you normally would. The steak in Portofino's was definitely tasty though. We didn't make it to Chops, but I would definitely recommend trying Portofino's. I was surprised that Jade was not a separate establishment. Really it was just the first buffet line you come to in the Windjammer, which is fine I guess. Just didn't seem like it was its own entity at all.

I believe this cruise was sold out...but did it feel crowded? No. There's so much space and so many places to be while on board, that it seemed it must be half empty. The only real lines we encountered were for bingo...they might consider increasing the amount of sale time available, which is currently 30 minutes prior to game starts. But even and the self-serve frozen yogurt at the pool deck, we never saw a line of more than 8 or so, and with two machines it went by quick. Certainly, this was all in all a very enjoyable ship to be on. Only complaint? Not enough time to do everything! There's too much going on and often things scheduled so that they overlap dinner times or other events of interest. (Oh and we had second seating for dinner, though this ship does offer MTD). Less

Published 07/09/10

Cabin review: E27590 Deluxe Oceanview Stateroom with Balcony

Mid-ship port side on Deck 7 turned out to be a great view in each of the ports. It was a E2 balcony room, plenty of space for both moving around, sitting and relaxing, and storing of stuff. Closet was a great size, and had shelves as well as hanging room. We could hear some music thumping late at night from one of the clubs, not sure which, but it was fairly distant and didn't run too late, so it wasn't much of a problem. Not much rocking to report here either. And it was nice to have a fridge!

Read All Deluxe Oceanview Stateroom with Balcony (E2) Reviews >>

Port and Shore Excursions

Our first port was Cabo San Lucas. We elected not to book an excursion with RCI here, as we had been told by others that this is a good port to walk around on your own. Despite the heat and humidity, it was interesting and picturesque to walk around the waterfront. But the sheer volume of people trying to sell you a boat ride was overwhelming and annoying. I mean, I expected to be hassled by vendors, but this was over the top. One guy even offered to make a trade for my shirt...and the shopping areas were not much different. Tons of people trying to sell anything, even folks just squatting behind fences trying to offload their wares. We eventually took a $10 water taxi to Lover's Beach, where the sand was so hot you couldn't walk on it with bare feet for more than a minute. And I do not exaggerate. But the scenery was beautiful and the beaches and waters were pristine. (There was only three random folks trying to sell stuff on this beach which is only accessible by boat. Now, maybe the ship-booked excursions get closer in, but for whatever reason our boat only got close enough to shore so that you had to wade in from knee-deep water. That doesn't actually bother me, but there were 3 guys who apparently work with the boat people to "help" you off, and insist on taking your backpacks up to shore for you, and of course all of whom want tips. That wasn't the icing on the cake - we got that on our return trip. On the pier, 4 or 5 people were asking for tips. We couldn't tell if they had even done ANYTHING relating to our boat ride. So we tipped our 15 year old skipper...

Later we went to the Cabo Cantina, one of the ship's "preferred" restaurants, and had a pleasant patio lunch which included a huge platter of a variety of salsas - very yummy. The check was conveniently written with a total in both pesos and US dollars, for the tourist in all of us.

Mazatlan got even hotter and more humid...and here we had a ship's excursion booked. Good thing too, and the best things to see here are no where near the pier. There was of course a flea market right by the pier, as there is in every pier apparently, and they have the exact same trinkets you find in the towns, and usually cheaper. But I digress. Our tour, the Colonial Village and Papantla Flyers" took us in a 12-passenger van into the countryside, where we saw a small family that makes bricks by hand for construction, and village bakery (where we got to sample a large flavored roll of our choosing - yummy!), and guy who makes decorative tiles by hand, the 18th century church in the town of Concordia, and the native Indian ceremonial show (which itself was very short but interesting). Free drinks were provided here and there, and the tour finished with a drive along the waterfront and through old-town Mazatlan (both of which were interesting, and I would love to visit on a future cruise). This was a nice cultural tour which was very informative and included lots of scenic driving, and a driver more than happy to answer questions and talk about his land.

Read 496 Mazatlan Reviews

This was my favorite port, for a number of reasons. One, the pier that we dock at was the nicest by far and you could walk around and get great close up shots of the Mariner (in Cabo you tender and Mazatlan is more of an industrial port where they make you take a tram from the ship to the 'pier' area with the shops). Also, we booked an excursion to Las Caletas through the ship which was IMO the best excursion I have had in any port, anywhere. Las Caletas is a little tropical coastal getaway about 45 minutes south of Puerto Vallarta. We took a smaller boat (holds a good hundred or more) to get there. The trip over was fantastic - got to see the coastal resorts and homes along the Sierra Madre which was very beautiful. The weather was overcast and somewhat cool, which was nice. Warning - the boat ride was pretty through pretty darn choppy waters. If you're prone to motion sickness...take some meds first! We travelled past interesting rock formations and the site of the filming of the old movie Night of the Iguana, saw dolphins swimming along our boat, and had complimentary drinks. All of this before we reached Las Caletas. At Las Caletas, we were treated to a bbq buffet right on the ocean that was nothing short of amazing, and had time to look around the area before the organized beach activities began (snorkeling and kayaking, all included in the base trip price of $98 per person). The resort also featured live monkeys and parrots which you could hold and get pictures with, and tons of hammock space to lay out and relax, not to mention an open bar (tips not included). What was even nicer - if you hiked up into the hill a little, you were treated with splendid tropical views and several little spots where secluded hammocks were available for your relaxing enjoyment. It was a new treat around every corner here! Needless to say, we thoroughly enjoyed it. Free drinks were again available on the ride back (after about 5 hours on the resort), and the crew even danced for us, which was funny and entertaining. And the best part about Las Caletas - no harassment by folks trying to sell stuff!

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