We sailed on Mariner of the Seas over the Thanksgiving holiday. We are a family of four, with kids ages 6 and 9. We had perfectly fabulous time. We really enjoy cruising and have been on several cruise lines, but we really prefer RCI. ... Read More
We sailed on Mariner of the Seas over the Thanksgiving holiday. We are a family of four, with kids ages 6 and 9. We had perfectly fabulous time. We really enjoy cruising and have been on several cruise lines, but we really prefer RCI. I’ve read some pretty bad reviews of Mariner; I really think those folks are grumpy. We sailed on Mariner 13 years ago. She is a little older, but still in great shape and provided a great cruise for us. I would be happy to sail on her again. We downloaded the app and checked in online before the cruise. We used Park Port Canaveral. We had to wait about 15 minutes for the bus, which was very unusual. I would be happy to use them again. If you make reservations online before, there are usually coupons. Checking in at the port was very easy since all the documents were already ready. We were on board within minutes. We arrived around 11:30 and went straight to the Windjammer for lunch. Yes, it was crowded, but we just go with the flow and don’t let it bother us. My husband just raved about the seafood stew in the Windjammer on the first day. There were huge chunks of lobster. Plenty of variety for everyone on the first day. We set off to explore the ship and find our stateroom. Great fun in the afternoon.
Service in General: We thought the service was really great all over the ship. Dining room, windjammer, stateroom attendant, in the casino, on coco cay, in other lounges… we never had an issue. Not sure waiters are “enthusiastic,” (as the survey asks) but provide great service overall. Someone was ill and needed to evacuate to the ER, so the ship went into the Miami port for a bit the morning of our day at sea. We thought this was great service for whomever was ill and it was a beautiful port to visit. We enjoyed it and hope whoever was sick is well.
Ship Activities: The kids loved the hammocks, climbing-thing, and Sky Jump on Deck 12, aft. We spent a lot of time out there. Our son did the water rides and didn’t rave about them ...which we kind of expected. We did the same water ride on the Harmony and it was very slow and actually kind of boring. Nothing can compare with the AqauDuck on the Disney Dream. If I was not so cheap, I would book another Disney Dream cruise, just to ride the AquaDuck. RCI needs to step it up with water rides on the boat, but this is a very, very picky complaint. Our son liked the rock climbing wall. If you can catch these things when they first open, the lines are a lot shorter. The hot dog stand should not be missed!!!
Main Dining Room: We like RCI food and are always happy with the meals. The french onion soup is better than neighborhood cafes. There was also a special menu for Thanksgiving. We ordered one of everything and passed around family style. It was great! The main dining room also has a delicious buffet every morning (except the last morning) in addition to table service. We much prefer the MDR buffet to the crazy Windjammer. We were able to visit the MDR for one lunch and were happy the Tutti Salads were back. And, it included a delicious buffet. Just skip the Windjammer when you can!
Casino: The Cruise Compass has $3 Blackjack in the casino once a day. I had to miss a bit of dinner to make sure I was able to play. One day I showed up to play for $3 and there was not a table open. I explained to the pit boss the Cruise Compass showed low limits and they were very happy to open a table. Great service. They had a whole table full in no time and it was very fun. If you play less than $10 on the $3 table, you must play $2 and the $1 side bet. When the side bet hit, it was nice… just didn’t happen too often. My husband hates the side bets, but I was just happy to play for low! The craps pit opened around 7 or 8pm, but did not start hopping until 9:30pm or so. The minimum was $10. Very fun and I did well at the craps pit.
Diamond Lounge: Fabulous service, great drinks, and it was nice no one gave us a hard time that we were exiting out the “emergency door” to keep an eye on our kids. The menus were wrong each night… but that is very, very picky. Thank you for the great service.
Spa: The prices were not so awful and there were specials every day. There are also slight discounts offered on Port Days before 11am, I think. I would wait to book until you get on board so you can get a better deal.
Photos: Much improved with the addition of touch screens. We were able to see our photos easily without having to search or evens speak to a human.
Shows: The Headliner Show (Art Themed) was just ok. My son and husband left early and didn’t care for it. But, after you’ve seen the RCI show Columbus and Beauty/Beast on Disney, nothing else can compare. The ice skating show was pretty good. It was a little long for the kids. The juggler was terrific!
Nassau: I think I’ve been to Nassau at least 15 times in my life. Even though it is not a great port, there is always something to do… you just have to look. This time, with the kids, we wanted to keep it low-key. So, we made arrangements for a Day Pass to the Hilton British Colonial right there, by the port. I’m not sure I would recommend this hotel/day pass. If you have low expectations and are ok with a bit of construction next door (it was not that bad), then you may want to check it out. The pool is nice, the grounds are nice, and the beach is pretty good for being so close to the port. Our kids had a blast with the kayak, even though we could not go very far. With the Day Pass, you get access to most everything and $40 per adult in food/drink credit and $20 per kid. The only problem was…. It took FOREVER to get a drink or service, or food. In fact, we didn’t get our food. We had a fabulous morning, but were still waiting after an hour and 10 for Kalik and food. So, we asked the front desk if we could just bail. They were kind enough to credit us back the food credit, which we thought was very fair. Then, we hightailed it back to the windjammer for a great late lunch. In all, it worked out for us, but I won’t be going back.
Coco Cay: We have also been going to Coco Cay once/twice a year, for about 15 years. We loved Coco Cay back when there was nothing… but what RCI has done is truly magnificent. Coco Cay blows the two other islands (Castaway Cay with Disney and Norwegian’s island) completely out of the water… there is no comparison. Coco Cay is clean, easy to navigate, not too much walking, and super fun. We could not get over how big the pool was (I think I heard the biggest pool in the Caribbean). The pool was unbelievable. The food and drinks on Coco Cay were also the best we had the whole cruise. I think I ate about five small ribeye steak sandwiches. There is also plenty to do that was “free.” We didn’t buy the water park passes because our daughter is not tall enough. But the water park looked very fun. Yes, there were long, long lines. I would guess going first thing in the morning at 8am, would be best to avoid the lines. But, even without the park pass, the kids enjoyed the huge pool, the beach, the splash pit, and the pirate ship. There were always plenty of places to sit and we found a lot of shade too. I wish there were slightly cheaper options for cabanas. I was watching them online and I just can’t stomach paying over $600 for a cabana. Two years ago, we got a cabana for about $200 and it made for a lovely day. But, this option does not exist anymore (or maybe not yet again). I’m glad we did it when we had the chance. We have even planned our next cruise itinerary around going back to Coco Cay… it's that great! The Beach Club opens in Jan 2020 and I can’t wait to see what that is, because it's located on the nicest part of the island IMH opinion. You may also want to snag a map of Coco Cay on board the ship to get the lay-of-the-land before getting onto Coco Cay. But, there are also plenty of workers in yellow and red shirts to help you around. Can’t wait to go back!
Disembarking: Was the best we’ve ever seen it. And, we have waited, and waited, and waited in some very, very, very long lines. The line was shorter, kept moving the whole time, and the facial recognition/passport procedure is life-changing. Thank you for speeding this up!! I always dread the disembarkation line, but it was a pleasure! Now I don’t have to dread that line anymore!
In all, it was a great cruise and I would highly recommend RCI and Mariner of the Seas. We can’t wait for our next RCI cruise. Hope this was helpful and thanks for reading. Read Less