Mariner of the Seas may have launched in 2003, but a massive $120 million renovation in 2018 introduced a number of new features to the ship -- the Sky Pad virtual-reality bungee trampoline, FlowRider surf simulators, Playmakers Sports Bar & Arcade -- and added dining venues and 40 more cabins, giving it a crisp, fun "new ship" feel.
It's also quite lively, with the hub of activity centered on the fabulous Royal Promenade, a bright, colorful and Instagrammable stretch of Deck 5, where something is happening -- '80s-, '90s- or disco-themed dance parties, or live music -- any time of day.
Royal Caribbean went the extra mile to ensure the ship looks great, and it does. On the Royal Promenade, The Bamboo Room -- a new Polynesian bar serving updated Tiki bar classics -- is visually striking with bright, bold, leaf-patterned wall coverings and a retro-chic sign outside. But outside is where the ship's 2018 "amplification" is most apparent.
The giant yellow dome of the Sky Pad is unmistakable, and the twin corkscrews of The Perfect Storm racing water slides -- which appear to hang off the side of the ship -- are appealing as well. Everywhere onboard there's something that catches your eye.
Though Mariner of the Seas is a smaller ship in the Royal Caribbean fleet, it never felt small. By that same notion, it never felt too large. Space is used well, and it's evident Royal Caribbean spent time looking at how to keep passengers out of each other's way.
We floated from place to place, ate, got drinks, played mini-golf and watched movies by the pool, and the only time we stood in line or really even saw lines was at the Sky Pad, FlowRider and water slides, and those moved quickly. Even in Windjammer Marketplace, the ship's buffet, we found there were few issues with wait times.
Overall, Mariner of the Seas is a delight. Every part of the ship delivered on its promise and our one regret was that our sailing was only two nights. We could have used more time to enjoy the "have fun, you're on vacation" energy that emanated from everyone onboard.
To cruise on Mariner of the Seas, passengers 12 and over need to be fully vaccinated, with the final dose received at least 14 days before departure.
Before embarkation day, all cruisers 2 and over must take their own test at home to show proof of a negative result. This test should be taken no more than two days before the sail date for passengers 12 and over, and no more than three days for those 2 to 11.
Unvaccinated children also will be required to take a PCR test during check-in at the terminal. On five-plus-night itineraries, youngsters will receive an additional antigen test at the end of the cruise. COVID-19 tests administered by Royal Caribbean are free of charge.
Little ones less than two years old do not need any testing.
• Proof of full vaccination, with vaccines approved by the FDA and World Health Organization (i.e. Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson)
• Negative COVID-19 test result
• Arrival time for check-in must be chosen 30 days in advance, on the Royal App
• Check-in to be completed via Royal App
• Health questionnaire (able to be completed on the Royal App)
• Masks required at all indoor public spaces and while visiting ports that require them
• Mariner of the Seas sailing at limited capacity
• Physical distancing enforced throughout ship, with signage
• Spaced out seating in dining, entertainment and activity venues
• Designated areas of main dining room for families with children
Off the Ship
• Fully vaccinated passengers may book a shore tour through the cruise line or independently, or choose to explore off ship freely.
• Families with unvaccinated children need to book Royal Caribbean shore excursions to leave the ship, except at the line’s private island of Perfect Day at CocoCay.
• For Mariner of the Seas’ St. Kitts visits, all passengers – even vaccinated – are required to book a Royal Caribbean shore tour in order to visit the island.
The vast majority of passengers on Mariner of the Seas hail from the United States, especially the Miami drive-to market. Expect to hear a lot of Spanish onboard, with signage in English but most announcements provided in English and Spanish. Our fellow passengers were younger, with a good number of young families and millennials onboard.
Daytime: The dress code on Mariner of the Seas is casual during the day, with everyone dressing for the climate of the destination they're sailing in. In warmer climates, you'll see plenty of people in shorts, T-shirts and bathing suits.
Evening: Dress was casual at all times on our sailing, even in the evening; the only exceptions were in the alternative eateries, where the dress codes are smart casual (cocktail and summer dresses for the ladies, nice shirts or even sports coats for men). Expect one formal night on short cruises, or two on longer sailings, where people dress up nicer though rarely in full suits or gowns.
Not permitted: No caps, tank tops or bathing suits are permitted in the main dining room or specialty restaurants, and footwear is always required. Shorts are not allowed during dinner, except in the buffet.
For more information, visit Cruise Line Dress Codes: Royal Caribbean.
Sign Up for Price Drop Alerts
Get Mariner of the Seas price drops
250,000+ people have entered their email