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517 Royal Caribbean Mexican Riviera Cruise Reviews

We flew from London to LA on virgin atlantic and stayed for 3 nights at the elegant Hyatt in Anaheim, Orange county. This gave us an opportunity to visit Disneyland, go on a beach tour visiting various Orange county beaches like ... Read More
We flew from London to LA on virgin atlantic and stayed for 3 nights at the elegant Hyatt in Anaheim, Orange county. This gave us an opportunity to visit Disneyland, go on a beach tour visiting various Orange county beaches like Huntingdon, Newport and Laguna beaches and also went shopping to South coast plaza, one of the largest shopping malls in Orange county. I had booked directly via Royal caribbean and booked the flights, hotels and transfers myself which makes the cost slightly cheaper and also gives freedom as far as the location of hotels, flight times, etc. We stayed in a 2 bedroom suite in hyatt which was newly refurbished and very spacious. On the embarkation day I had booked a prime time private shuttle for $65 to take us from Anaheim to San Pedro. Emabarkation was a breeze. We got to San Pedro at 11.30am and were in the ship by noon. One of the fastest embarkations ever. The ship was magnificent. Although the Mariner was nearly 7 years old, she was very well maintained. All the public and accomodation areas were all up to high standards. The food was great whether it was breakfast, lunches at windjammers or dinner in the dining room. We were on my time dining booked for 7.45pm each night but was easily changeable if we chose to go at a different time. Dining service was great on first day but below par on the next 2 days however after a quick chat with the head waiter, he moved us to a better area where we had a fabulous waiter named Francis from India who provided super service and accomodated every need of ours. The head waiter came for a chat each night to see how we were doing. As we were vegetarians we not only had the option of the choice from the main menu (which had a different indian curry with rice, roti and poppadom and raita each night) but he also brought us other veg dishes and more spicier curries from the crew menu. We looked forward to our dining each night mainly due to the excellent service by Francis and his assistant waiter. The entertainment on board was good especially the brilliant ice show which is a must see, the love and marriage and quest game shows which are highly recommended for all open minded adults. On the down side the production and guest shows were below par. The cruise director, Abe Hughes was good and very humorous. The captain of the ship with whom we had pictures taken on the captains night was very friendly and had a good sense of humour too! In fact this is the only cruise in which I have seen the captain interact so frequently with the passengers on-board. I saw him several times during the cruise and during the captains corner whereby he answered all questions from other passengers very well. All the ports of call were fantastic. We had fabulous hot sunny weather at all ports and on sea days. All were very scenic especially Cabo and Mazatlan. Puerto Vallarta is a big city but still very scenic, surrounded by mountains. We did a trip to a tequilla factory there where we had lots of fun trying different types of tequilla like almond, peach etc. Until now I only had tequila in margaritas but now certainly would have them neat too! We did tours in each of the ports and all tours were well organised and very informative too. Took lots of pictures and videos of this scenic part of the world. Also tried local mexican food at some ports which was fabulous! On sea days did 2 mile walks round the upper decks, relaxed in the jacuzzi and swam in one of the 3 swimming pools. Didn't attempt the rock climbing wall or play in the basket ball court but did play mini-golf. Also watched a Sandra Bullock flick in the small cinema, did shopping in the promenade shops, visited the casino, played Bingo etc. Disembarkation was not as breezy as embarkation. Being non US citizens we had to queue up to see immigration offcials for an hour in the morning and then had to queue up again to see customs officials and it wasn't very well organised. The heavy fog that morning delayed the procedures too. However thats part and parcel of cruising and after such an excellent cruise can't complain at all. Did a LA tour around downtown LA, hollywood and Farmer's market before being dropped off to the airport for our night flight back to London. In summary I whole heartedly recommend this cruise for its excellent intinerary and scenic ports of call, great service, fabulous ship and lots of fun activities to keep the whole family occupied all week long. This ship will be leaving LA from Jan 2011 and not doing the mexican riviera from then. So if you are planning to cruise between now and then, book this cruise straight away and get prepared for a vacation of a life time! Read Less
Sail Date September 2010
Introduction: After having a blast on a 14 night Alaska cruise in September 2009, I couldn't wait to cruise again. When I saw the rates for a Mexican Riviera cruise, I didn't hesitate to book a B2B. And I'm glad I ... Read More
Introduction: After having a blast on a 14 night Alaska cruise in September 2009, I couldn't wait to cruise again. When I saw the rates for a Mexican Riviera cruise, I didn't hesitate to book a B2B. And I'm glad I did.Pre-cruise: We stayed at the Crown Plaza in San Pedro. It was a very beautiful hotel, with a perfect location to several places to eat. I had won the Crown at a very good price on priceline and I was very happy with the hotel.We had breakfast there in the morning and we already met a couple that knew me from the roll call and I would see them a lot around the ship during the week. It's people like this who make a cruise memorableWe took the hotel's shuttle to the pier, which was a short drive and immediately I was amazed when I saw the Mariner from a distance. What a beautiful and big ship. Yes, she was bigger than the Radiance and I was in awe.Check-in: We dropped our luggage off with the porters. Even though we didn't have luggage tags, it was very easy to get them from the porters. We went to check-in and before we knew it, we had our seapass and were waiting to board the ship. The wait wasn't all that long and before we knew it we were on the ship. I think the whole process must have taken 45 minutes or so.The ship: Since we weren't hungry (mom wasn't, I'm always hungry) yet, mom laid down in a lounger and I started wandering around the ship and taking tons of pictures. The promenade is really amazing as is the decoration of the Mariner. She truly is a beautiful ship, with lots of places to relax. After an hour or so, we were getting hungry so we went to the Windjammer, and luckily it wasn't too crowded.Dining: We always ate at the Windjammer, since this was Mexico and I only brought shorts and comfortable clothes. Even if you don't go to the dining room, we found out that if you always sit at the same table at night, you always have the same waiter. I must mention Mary, who served our table at night, and Thadeus, the ice cream man. They were totally amazing and we received great service from both of them. And the food was really delicious. I know some people complain about the quality of the food, but to me, the food was perfect, especially some of the soups: colliflower soup, cream of aspargus and pumpkin soup. I'm hungry thinking about it. Our cabin: We were in a promenade cabin, 8583. Those cabins are a great value for your money, but there are some buts. The space near the end of the bed is very narrow, so you have to be careful not to bump into things. I love watching TV, but somehow those old tvs don't do it for me anymore. A flat screen would have been nice. Cabins have plenty of storage space. We put our bags under our bed to get them out of the way. Bathroom was perfect with enough storage space for all our stuff and a great shows, with sliding doors. Now that was great. Curtland was our cabin steward throughout our entire cruise and he was just perfect. Cabin was left spotless each night and we loved the towel animals we got. Great service.Entertainment and activities: I participated in the daily quiz for a week and it was a lot of fun. Thanks to the experienced cruisers I teamed up with, we won a wonderful hat. A hat? Yes, a hat, for an entire week of hard quizzing. But I gotta be honest, it was not my doing. I didn't know very much, but I found out my team mates know quite a few things. Thanks for letting me on your team.Entertainment wasn't as good as the year before, quite boring at times. The ice show was amazing though. It's unbelievable that those skaters are able to skate like that on a moving ship. Best show in the theatre for the entire two weeks was the Italian family who used to do show in Vegas. They were amazing, but I can't remember there name. I'm not picky, but for one show I walked out of the theatre cause it was so boring.Ports: Mexico is amazing and I loved all the ports. Weather: Hot and humid, sunshine and thunderstorms. When we left Puerto Vallarta the second week we had a beautiful thunderstorm, who was so much fun to watch from the ship while we left. First week we had a downpour... I have never seen so much rain in my life. Decks got flooded and we had to stay inside. Too bad, cause the water was very nice to walk in.First day out of LA and last day back to LA wasn't pool weather, as it was pretty breezy and cold on deck.The sea was very smooth for the entire two weeks, except for the last night when heading back to LA. We had pretty heavy winds and we could really feel the ship moving.Favorite Excursion: Trainer for a day in Puerto Vallarta. I had booked it through the cruise line and it wasn't cheap, but it was so worth it. Since I was the only one doing it, I was put in a taxi and driven to the Dolphin Center. I spend a lot of time in the water with the dolphins: Kisses, hugs, belly ride, fin ride, another belly ride... I had dolphin activities before and after lunch. It also included a swim with the sea lions, which turned out the best moment of the day. There was also a little seal of 3 months old in the pool that we were allowed to pet. We posed for photos with the sea lion: Smiles, tongues stuck out and a kiss. That's where my moment happened. The sea lion started to give me a kiss and even after the trainer blew his whistle, he didn't want to let me go. Afterwards the trainer who spent the entire day with me, told me he had never done that before. I guess he liked me.I was driven back to the ship by taxi after an amazing day with a souvenir DVD, all the pictures that were made throughout the day, the souvenir hat and t-shirt and a huge sunburn. I guess I should have worn a t-shirt in the water, as they discourage the use of sunblock, cause it's unhealthy for the animalsCheck-in on the back to back: It was very bad. I had hoped to have the ship to myself for a while, and that should have been the case, but when we were waiting at the pier to be able to board the ship again, we heard the ship hadn't been cleared yet, because an idiot hadn't checked in with customs yet. I still remember his name, but I don't think he'll be on an RCI ship in the future, cause I heard he got into big trouble. Serves him right.We had a wonderful two weeks on an amazing ship. Staff and crew was truly amazing, everything exceeded my expectations. I loved the ports of call: Mazatlan, Cabo San Lucas and Puerto Vallarta. If that cruise is offered on RCI in the future again, I think I might do it again.I met some amazing cruise critic members on this cruise, and in the end it are the people that make your cruise one to remember Read Less
Sail Date September 2010
I just wanted to warn people ahead of time about the Mazatlan time shares to say no when sales people approach you. If you are not good at saying no don't go to the 1 hr presentation. We were lured by the free cab rides and free food ... Read More
I just wanted to warn people ahead of time about the Mazatlan time shares to say no when sales people approach you. If you are not good at saying no don't go to the 1 hr presentation. We were lured by the free cab rides and free food and drinks and the so called 5 star resort which turned out to be 3 stars in my opinion. However, after saying no, we had fun cooling off in the El Cid Beach Resort pool which was the nicest attraction there with slides I must say. We all enjoyed our swim there. I came back and out of curiosity googled El Cid resort with the word scam and there were numerous complaints on how people were lied to and how people got ripped off 16,000 USD or more. They expect you to show them your credit card, but cover up your numbers if you go. Also when we were dining at the El Cid restaurant they said my daughter did not have a wrist band that she would have to pay. We were adamant and said the sales lady said she's a minor so she wouldn't have to pay. I just told him off and said I'm not paying. We could tell the restaurant manager was trying to weasel money out of us. This kind of give you a picture of what kind of sleezy company El Cid is. So I wanted to share my experience for those that are attracted by the nice swim. It's good to read the other posts about the how treacherous the ocean could be too. At Cabo we also went swimming at a hotel by the swimming beach after we took a 10 dollar boat tour per person to see the arch and to transport us to the swimming beach roundtrip. At first the guy said 15 but I said no. The arch is not really a big deal. I also tried parasailing for 35 bucks for 10 min. there. It's something that I can say I did, but not something I would do again. It's sort of like the california parasailing ride. At PV we had prebooked online the zip line at Los veranos which was super fun but make sure you wear clothes you don't care about due to the grease which was so hard to wash off. All in all we had fun and as other said the food wasn't great. The food was never hot just barely warm in the dining rooms. The best food I had there was the tandori chicken in the windjammer one day and the prime rib in the dining room. I have to say that the entertainment was fun: love and marriage show, comedy shows. I had lots of laughs more so than on NCL or Princess I must say. But I have to say the food was the worst I have had on a cruise. Read Less
Sail Date August 2010
My wife, two sons (8 and 10) and I sailed the Mariner of the week of August 15th. I purposely waited several weeks to write this review to see what really stood out and what didn't. I have a feeling if I'd written a day or two ... Read More
My wife, two sons (8 and 10) and I sailed the Mariner of the week of August 15th. I purposely waited several weeks to write this review to see what really stood out and what didn't. I have a feeling if I'd written a day or two after, it may have been different. This was my sixth cruise, first on RCCL- This is the third for my boys and they are hooked, so it looks like we'll be cruising annually. We were excited about this cruise to finally sail on RCCL- our previous cruises have all been on Carnival, save one on Princess. I will primarily compare this cruise to our experience(s) with Carnival. Overall we had a good time and enjoyed the cruise; no matter what, we try to have fun but there were some significant downers on this cruise that will prevent us from returning to RCCL. Ports- been to all so many times, not worth discussing. It is personal preference anyway. One mention- we normal grab a cab in Puerto Vallarta to the sea life park and ride water slides all day. Its now called aqua-adventure and has become substantially more expensive...I would never book a shore excursion with ship. I continue to read people paying 50-60 bucks per person for a glass bottom boat road ride to El Arco and lands end in Cabo. $20 for four people is what we paid this time and we got them to drop us off and pick us up at beach afterwards. I'll start with all the good: -Service was great. Our dining room waiter and asst. waiter were probably the best we've had. Cabin Steward was good. We never had a problem with service anywhere throughout the entire cruise. Great table mate pairings as well. -Cabin size/layout. We had a D1 balcony stateroom (6652) and while no bigger than other cabins we've been in, it seemed more functional and spacious. -Ocean Adventure Program. My kids absolutely hate the Carnival version, but said this was "OK," which means it was probably pretty good. My older son commented that the games were better and the staff actually participated rather than just explained activity. I liked it because there were some family events and because there wasn't the hard sell you get on Carnival. -Coffee: Best coffee I've had on a cruise- this is subjective of course but I really enjoyed the coffee (Seattle's Best) served at the cafe promenade. Pastry was decent here too. -Casino Slots: I actually $1000 one night on $0.25 machine and another $700 the next night on the Wheel of Fortune $1. Was surprised that cruise slots paid- I'd never seen it. -Em- and Debarkation: Unbelievably easy on both counts. One thing I hate about Carnival is the rush to get you out of your room. Royal noted" relax in your stateroom until you assigned time." We were in no rush so this suited us well. Not so great: (or carnival is better) -Beds: The carnival beds are so much more comfortable. -Cruise director: Three weeks later and I can't remember his name- I can remember the way he looked and he did do a pretty good rendition of "Mustang Sally" one night but this is the first cruise I've been on where the Captain (Johnnie) comes over the PA more than the CD. -Ship- Largest ship I have been on by far, but always crowded everywhere. And while the royal promenade was cool, it was like being at the mall, December 23rd, in a good economy! Ship had a weird layout also, not being able to get to one area without going a level down and coming back up for example. -Photos- RCCL needs to teach the staff to take better photos. The only decent ones we got were so expensive and had fingerprints all over them. Bought them anyway, but for some reason carnival photo seem better and operation more organized. -Liquor prices- way higher than Carnival last year. -Sanitation Nazi's- It bothered me that every time I entered a room, some staff member was stopping me and shooting Purell into my had. It caused major log jams into dining room at night and I doubt it does any good. People either exhibit good hygiene or they don't. (How did mankind survive or so long without Purell??) BTW I never got a wart in my life until I cruised- now three years straight I get a wart about 1 moth after returning from cruise- all on the hand. Weird, but proof that Purell is worthless as I understand warts are mainly viral. If people would just wash their hands! Will prevent me from returning: (or anything would be better) -Food: I'm not as critical as other concerning the dining room food for Dinner- but everything else (with exception of Johnny Rockets) was bad. I expected better than carnival and got worse...a lot worse. I thought the nightly dinners were decent so I won't complain about them but the Windjammer was really bad. This is from someone who has no problem eating at Denny's. Some standouts from the windjammer: Bacon so thin, so raw and so greasy it would make a goat choke. The deep fried potatoes they called hash browns, either in the shape of a wedge or a tater tot or in a the McDonald's hash brown shape were always floating or swimming in grease, even right out of kitchen they were so bad. Scrambles eggs horrible. Biscuits horrible (Flour/Shortening/baking powder/salt/milk- how freeking hard is that?) Toast always rock hard and cold...and not really toasted. Pancakes, French toast etc all cold, cold, cold. I never saw a grill for hamburgers \ hotdogs; they were served in big metal pans swimming in greasy water and had been cooking for what tasted like hours- so so dry. Fries were coated and not to my liking and the pizza was only a step above frozen, usually cold. I think you get the idea....but in case it wasn't clear...cold, greasy, low quality sums it up. I honest can't say we really enjoyed anything from the Windjammer... -Elevators- the worst of any ship I have been on- slow, slow, slow. Between the stair climbing and the food I actually lost weight on this cruise. Yes...lost! -Price: Much more expensive than Carnival, still trying to figure out why? Lastly, and many of you will think me a jerk for writing this, but the ship was booked with (I think I heard) 800 deaf passengers. Now...I have nothing against deaf people, but I think if RCCL is going to book out 1/3 or 1/2 ship to a particular group they should tell you that before you book. If definitely changed the feeling of the cruise; there were times when entire public rooms were silent. Trying to get from one end of promenade to the other was difficult; "excuse me," didn't work and deaf people I noticed tend to stand around in circles, making an already tight feeling ship tighter. I am absolutely certain the entertainment and activities were changed to accommodate them. I'm not saying it was bad, it was just different and I think we had a right to know before we booked. Just imagine getting on a cruise booked with 800 preachers, strippers, car salesmen, republicans/democrats or whatever...don't you think Royal should disclose that? I stand by what I said so if you want to tell me what a jerk I am...go ahead, email me (lookin4facts@yahoo.com), but I stand by my feelings. Read Less
Sail Date August 2010
We had sailed on the Mariner about four years ago and had such a great time that we wanted to go again. What a disappointment. The ship itself is still a beauty. She's showing a bit of wear and tear (scratched legs on the furniture, ... Read More
We had sailed on the Mariner about four years ago and had such a great time that we wanted to go again. What a disappointment. The ship itself is still a beauty. She's showing a bit of wear and tear (scratched legs on the furniture, some rust showing in the bathroom) but nothing a bit of cosmetic work wouldn't fix. Certainly nothing that made me think it was time for drydock. We had a junior suite, which was very spacious and featured a balcony with two chairs, a small table and a lounger. Masses of storage space. There were 3 of us in the room and we didn't even use some of cupboards, shelves and drawers. They have put in flat-screen TVs to the junior suites, but I still saw old TVs in the balcony and interior rooms when I peeked in while passing by. The carpet was in good condition, but the stateroom attendant never cleaned the glass-topped coffee table or the inside of the glass balcony doors. The bed was comfortable and had great linens -- crisp and fresh. The sofabed is very, very firm. Our steward put a foam topper on it and our daughter slept comfortably. As to general cleanliness, I noticed the shelves in the souvenir shop were dusty also. Otherwise, the ship appeared to be kept sparkling clean and tidy, although the elevators are showing wear, scratches, dents and the odd missing call button. So let's get to the downside ... the food. I am not particularly fussy or demanding but being sentenced to a full week of Denny's-by-the-sea is not how I want to spend my holiday. The first night we went to the dining room and ordered prime rib and pork tenderloin. The pork was all right, but the mashed potatoes were processed to the point of being mushy. Instant? Hard to say, but it was that kind of texture. The prime rib had an odd texture too. Spongy is the only word that comes to mind. Kind of like canned meat. The vegetables were the same bland frozen mixed vegetables you get at the supermarket, with lima beans, green beans, diced carrots etc. Frozen mixed veg on my plate the first night was not an auspicious beginning. The next day we went to the dining room for breakfast and got bacon-and-egg breakfasts. The eggs were okay, the bacon was mostly fat, sausages tiny and dry and the hash browns appeared, again, to be the frozen shredded variety. Could be worse; we came across the little triangle-shaped, deep fried "hash browns" (a la McDonald's) another morning at breakfast in the Windjammer. I got a whole kiwi fruit at the dining room the first morning and asked a server if I could have it peeled and cut. He told me I had to take it back to my table and do it myself. Ever try to prepare a kiwi fruit with a table knife? Maybe they were trying to discourage people from actually consuming the expensive kiwis and only wanted them to be on the fruit dish for show. The only other fresh fruits on offer were the ubiquitous apples, oranges & bananas. Sliced melon was available daily at breakfast plus canned peaches, pears, prunes etc. This is not to say everything was bad. The roast turkey was okay, as was the lamb. Sadly, that was about it. Fish was dry and overcooked, hamburgers sat under heat lamps way too long, chicken was dry. Other than green beans, broccoli and baked potatoes, we could not find cooked vegetables that were at all palatable. Amazing how quickly you get tired of green beans, broccoli and baked potatoes. It's either that or the same tossed salad every night, or forego veggies altogether. The best meal we had overall was at Johnny Rocket's (although the burger patties tasted rather bland). Almost everything from the dinner menu in the dining room was offered at the Windjammer the same night. The only difference was that in the dining room you got cafeteria food served to you by smiling waiters; in the Windjammer you got cafeteria food served yourself. We wound up eating at the Windjammer nearly every meal because you could at least look at the offerings before making your choice, and there was much more selection with the dining room menu plus a range of Asian foods and casual (hamburgers, pizza etc) if there wasn't anything to your liking on the menu. I never met a dessert I didn't like, but even here the Mariner fell short. Cookies were hard and dry, and I could not tell the difference between these and the ones that come from a box. Gee, maybe they did come from a box. That would explain things. There was a cheesecake nearly every night, which was good, and a very pleasant man wheeled around an ice cream cart in the Windjammer after dinner. Otherwise, there was fruit salad (watermelon, canteloupe, honeydew melon and canned fruits), a mousse-type dessert or two, a cake, a tart and sometimes creme caramel. Overall, the food offered on the Mariner is heavy on the frozen and prepared end, bland and relying too much on the breaded-and-fried category. That's fine once in a while, but all day, every day for a whole week and mealtime becomes a chore that has to be got through rather than something to which you look forward. For the first time, I was actually looking forward to going home from a cruise, just so I could get a meal made with fresh food. What a sad fate for the beautiful Mariner. Read Less
Sail Date August 2010
My wife and I took our very first cruise in April of this year and enjoyed the Carnival 4-nighter so much we booked a 7-nighter as soon as we returned from our first experience. Unfortunately, this cruise was booked via a Royal Caribbean ... Read More
My wife and I took our very first cruise in April of this year and enjoyed the Carnival 4-nighter so much we booked a 7-nighter as soon as we returned from our first experience. Unfortunately, this cruise was booked via a Royal Caribbean recommended travel agency. Absolutely no help whatsoever other than taking my money. That's a story in itself. Lesson learned: Like the first cruise, we will book future cruises ourselves online. The transfer from LAX to San Pedro was smooth and we received our luggage at our suite about an hour after arrival at the ship. My suitcase was so damaged it was almost unrecognizable as luggage. When I was asked if it like this when I retrieved it from baggage claim at Southwest Airlines I knew it was game on. But this was my vacation, so I grabbed the suitcase, gave RC employee the "You gotta be kidding" response and went to my room. Duct tape is amazing stuff and my suitcase now resides in the Phoenix city landfill. We booked one excursion for this trip as my wife and I don't like schedules. We should have booked none. Upon reaching the pier in Cabo we were drenched in sweat from the stifling heat and humidity. After being attacked by every possible glass bottom boat operator, sea taxi service and bicycle taxi dude, we went on the "tour" which consisted of sailing out to the FAMOUS arch, taking a peek from both sides and returning. Not worth the $58. But the thing that really ticked us off was the dude walking around with a pitcher and sticking in our faces wanting tips while on the "tour". I understand that this is how they make money, but we felt trapped at sea by extremely young wallet pirates. They even had a pitcher ready the second you stepped off the vessel. So it was back to the ship and beautiful air conditioning. We remained on the Mariner for the rest of the cruise. We weren't interested in being attacked by impoverished Mexican vendors in Mazatlan and Puerto Vallarta. Other reviews here confirm that our decision was sound. Sailing from Cabo to Mazatlan I went to the Casino to kill some time. I gave my drink order to the waiter along with my SeaPass card. About 10 minutes later he returned panic stricken and told me my SeaPass card was stolen off of his tray while HE was making my latte. We immediately went to Guest Services to report it stolen. The waiter, God bless him, went to an open spot at the counter and stated what happened with urgency in his voice. When we were told to get in line (at least 15 deep) and that he'd get to me, I lost it. So as to avoid a potentially explosive scene, the guy canceled my card and issued another with a different folio number on the spot. Although the waiter goofed up, that poor kid knocked himself out (and probably got fired) trying to help me. I got a free latte` and tipped him $10 for his effort. In general, the food in the dining room at dinnertime was very good and the waiters were efficient and friendly. We found the room service menu skimpy at best. The food in the Windjammer for breakfast and lunch was OK, but thought the "waiters" left a little to be desired. On three occasions I had to get our own drinks as no-one ever came by. A few of them knew no more English than my dog. We found the ship to be clean in the restaurants and stores we visited. Our steward was average as she did little to go the extra mile when compared to the service we received on Carnival. (I do think if you spend the extra bucks on a suite you should be treated a little special by the steward). Sometimes the little things, like bringing you ice without asking or asking if there is anything they can do for you before they go off duty, goes a long way. When we first got on the ship and met our steward we gave her $50 and told her we'd be spending a lot of time in our room and on the balcony (hint, hint). We tipped her the recommended minimum amount after the cruise because she and her staff did little other than clean the room on schedule. The one thing that left us certain that we would unlikely cruise with Royal Caribbean in the future was the constant 'commercialism", ie, someone always trying to sell you something. It seemed that no matter where you turned there was a table set up with a RC employee trying to sell the Spa, jewelry or over-priced water. To us it was a constant reminder to open your wallet and spend, spend, spend. Had we not been on Carnival before this trip we would have no point of reference. But in retrospect, Carnival did none of this on our cruise with them except on the TV channel dedicated to what the ship had to offer. Maybe we're just sensitive to it, but while we were on vacation aboard a ship, we felt like very captive consumers. Maybe this is no big deal for others, but we just found the constant reminders of their Gold Award Service and how we can spend more money a little overbearing. If anyone thinks that slot machines in casinos aboard cruise ships are tweaked so as not to pay...not so. Our last night at sea we paid for our entire cruise expenses with one tug of the "12X Pay" machine. $2,140.00 made a lot of the cruise negatives go away. While Royal Caribbean may be the choice of many, I doubt we will ever sail with them again. By far we found our experience aboard Carnival to be far superior and will gladly book with them in the future. Read Less
Sail Date August 2010
Background: I'm in my 50's and have been on over thirty cruises. I traveled with a friend, also in his 50's and also a seasoned cruiser. We chose this cruise more for the chance to get away than to see the ports, as we had ... Read More
Background: I'm in my 50's and have been on over thirty cruises. I traveled with a friend, also in his 50's and also a seasoned cruiser. We chose this cruise more for the chance to get away than to see the ports, as we had both visited them a number of times before. EMBARCATION: We arrived just after 1:00 PM, and were aboard the ship in matter of minutes. Seamless! SHIP OVERALL: We had cruised on the Explorer of the Seas, a ship of the same class as Mariner, so the size wasn't a surprise. I give RCI great credit for maintaining a very clean and attractive ship. Despite its size, it is easy to get around, and the fact that there were over 3,600 passengers never caused a problem with crowds. Our cruise director, Kieron Buffery, was among the best I've ever experienced. He is an amazingly talented guy who has limitless energy and quick wit. Capt. Johnny was omnipresent and very friendly. The staff as a whole was among the friendliest I've ever met on a ship. CABIN: We had a balcony cabin on deck eight forward. It was attractive, with plenty of storage and space. RCI has nicer linens these days, but I found my bed a bit too firm. Our cabin steward, Dale from Jamaica, was superb!(NB: RCI doesn't provide body lotion or conditioner, so bring your own.) DINING: This area alone is responsible for my rating of four out of five. Had the food been better, the Mariner would get a perfect five from me. Main dining room: We had "My time dining" and loved it. We never had to wait, and the servers did get to know us. We had a few dinners with others, and a few at a table by ourselves. I enjoyed the flexible times. The three-story dining room is stunning, and tables aren't crowded together. The food, however, was a disappointment night after night. There often was only one salad on the menu. Meats were tough, and I had to send my salmon back one night. I'm not a foodie, but I don't appreciate tasteless foods. Windjammer Buffet: Very lackluster with few options and mediocre offerings. Portofino: This is one of the "fine dining" options, with a $20 per person charge. We had great service, but the salad and pasta were just so-so. I had a terrific bistecca fiorentina and tiramasu for dessert. The restaurant is on deck 11, and deck 12 has an outdoor area near the teen center just above, so there is a lot of foot traffic that you hear throughout the meal. Snacks on the promenade: I appreciated this spot, where you can get coffee, sandwiches and desserts. Room service: Very prompt! We used it only for breakfast. Again, service was terrific everywhere, but the food needs help! I love that they serve Seattle's Best coffee. ENTERTAINMENT: The Mariner excelled in this area. We had the Drifters one night, a funny comedian, two big production shows, and a fantastic juggler, Ivan Pecel in the main theater. (I know that a juggler sounds lame, but he was hilarious and talented.) There were great musical options, including jazz and a Latin group, elsewhere on the ship. Be sure to catch the ice show-- stunning! The cruise staff also provided a lot of entertainment. Don't miss Quest! FITNESS/SPA: I worked out every day and appreciated the extensive range of cardio and weight machines. The hot tub right by the fitness room was convenient. It was also adjacent to the adults-only solarium area with two other hot tubs and a small pool. ITINERARY/PORTS: In Cabo, I booked the zodiac boat and snorkel trip. It was enjoyable, although the waters of Mexico aren't nearly as beautiful as Hawaii or the Caribbean. I stayed on the ship in Mazatlan, and enjoyed a quiet day. In Puerto Vallarta, I booked the zip line trip. It was awesome and a highlight of the week. DISEMBARCATION: Some of us remember when the last morning of a cruise seemed like reliving the voyage of the damned. No longer! We had a nice breakfast in the main dining room, and walked off the ship. Total time from our cabin to clearing customs-- 10 minutes! SUMMARY: The Mariner has something for everyone. Even with lots of activity on board, you can find quiet spots for reading or napping if that is what you prefer. The crew and staff should be proud of the job they do. If only they had better food... Read Less
Sail Date August 2010
My wife and I just got back from a 7 nighter aboard Mariner. I will go as quick as possible through everything: Embarkation: We went touring around LA the day of Embarkation, so we arrived to the ship 2 hours before sailing and flew ... Read More
My wife and I just got back from a 7 nighter aboard Mariner. I will go as quick as possible through everything: Embarkation: We went touring around LA the day of Embarkation, so we arrived to the ship 2 hours before sailing and flew through in less than 5 mins. Stateroom: We had a Jr. Suite on deck 10, and we were very surprised at the size. We've been in Jr. Suites on other RCI ships and this one was by far the biggest. The Interior decorations looked original, but in good shape and I could really care less if the carpet isn't modern looking. The wife loved the huge walk-in closet. The bathroom was fine, but the shower curtain was a bit clingy. The balcony was a good size (2 chairs, lounger and a table) The table wobbled, but nothing that a few folded pieces of paper didn't fix. Dining Room: Our first night, we were on the deck 5 dining room with some "elderly" couples who we had nothing in common (we are 35 & 40), so the next morning I went to see Kal/Cal the dining room manager to be re-located. He said he would "try" and send a message to our suite later in the day. Later in the day, a note was delivered with our new table assignment. We were pleasantly surprised that it was right beside the Captain's table and we absolutely loved our table mates. We had an absolute blast with all of them and we were by far the loudest, most rowdiest table in the place (sorry if any one didn't like the multi-coloured boas and fake moustache's on the last night!!) We closed the dining room every night and made some really good friends. Food: The food was definitely the low point of this cruise. We have been on RCI twice before and Carnival once. On all of our previous cruises, the food was good to excellent. On this cruise, I would rate the food as poor with the occasional glimpse of excellence (I am NOT a picky eater either) The Windjammer food was the EXACT same from day 1 through 7 and was standard buffet fare...edible but not special. In the dining room, I NEVER order the pasta, as the other selections are usually better sounding. I order the pasta twice, as I didn't like any of the other selections and my normal stand-by (steak) looked and felt like a wet slipper. The prime rib and lobster was awesome and some of the appetizers were tasty. Deserts were also a disappointment. Johnny Rockets had great fries and rings, but the burgers were a bit greasy. Didn't want to miss any of the action at our table, so we cancelled our reservations at Chops. (Plus we heard the food up there wasn't great either) Overall, the food on this cruise was not great and it gives me the sense that RCI is trying to save money on this money-losing itinerary. Ship: Great. Best ship so far. Suite was great, Dining room and Windjammer were nicely designed, the Promenade was fun, good theatre and great pool deck. The casino treated me well, but there wasn't a lot of room behind the tables on the port side. Overall, this was the best ship from a layout, design and amenity point of view. Service: Everyone except our stateroom attendant was fantastic. Some drink servers too a while, but I figure they were just saving me some money. We really only saw our stateroom attendant on the first day, which was fine, but we are used to seeing them 3-4 times per day. And she wasn't very friendly or outgoing. However, she did print up a banner wishing my wife a happy birthday on the request of our friends. Oh yeah, and the Windjammer service in the morning wasn't great either... we didn't get served at all on one morning. Ports: Cabo and Mazatlan were SO HOT that we only got off the ship for 1 hour. Puerto Vallarta: Paid $100 to go to Las Calletas (sp?)and it was bad...The boat to take you there was 45 min late and when we got off the boat, were told that we needed to eat in the next half hour or we'd miss out (PV is 2 hours ahead of ship time) and we had just finished breakfast. Everything was on a tight schedule, so if you didn't go snorkeling right at 1pm, then you couldn't go. There were no chairs to lay down on and the bar areas were way too small when the rain started. Not worth the $100 price. Disembarkation: smooth as silk. Go online an book Super Shuttle back to LAX, it is way cheaper ($34 for 2) than anything else we found. Read Less
Sail Date August 2010
In a nut shell, the ship was beautiful, the crew was wonderful, but the ports were not good at all. The food was so so, definitely not a "Fun Ship". OK, so here we go. Boarding was simple and quick. Got there and boarded by by ... Read More
In a nut shell, the ship was beautiful, the crew was wonderful, but the ports were not good at all. The food was so so, definitely not a "Fun Ship". OK, so here we go. Boarding was simple and quick. Got there and boarded by by 11:00. Went to the cabin immediately to drop off our carry-on luggage and then to the Windjammer for lunch. Great salads and hot food, although it got tiring by the end of the trip. Seemed that it was left overs in another form from the previous night. Went to the pool are to get a cocktail, and as expected, 7.25 for a frozen drink...a bit more than last year on Carnival Triumph. Pool was a great refresher, but our luggage did not arrive until 6:00, so we stayed damp for a while. Checked out the ship, and she is a beauty. Loved the fact that the promenade was so pretty. Departed a bit early as the ship and passengers were ready to go, even after life boat drill...(easier than the Carnival Ships...did not need to go to state room for life jackets) ...but not much of a "Sail away party"...???? At sea, there is so much to do, and such hot weather, decided to hit the pool after breakfast (which had quite a variety) and enjoy the sun and pool. Entertainment was fun with a Caribbean band by the pool area. For all you smokers, Deck four,a small area by the pool, balconies and the casino and bight club are the only place to smoke. Dinner was in the main dining room and our table was in the back in a corner, with no table mates. We asked to change it and got a lovely table in the middle with great table mates. Our server, Cornell, was simply awesome. A few of the girls, got multiple hor dourves and main courses, not just tonight but every night. Food was at best, a b-. Day two, was just about the same, with pool, drinks, food and an incredible Ice Show...a must see. Played mini golf, and went to the show that evening. Nice shows, a bit better than the flashy Vegas shows on Carnival. More family oriented. Cabo was just beautiful to look at. Took a water taxi over to Lovers beach, 8.00 R/T for each. Unfortunately, the gentleman tried to "screw" us over by telling me we didn't pay for four, only three, but I know we did...he was hiding money in his hand. When I told the girls to get off the boat, we would try to find another one, he "found" the money. HINT: Have exact change and count all your money to him. Also, make sure you have the right (SAME)water taxi on the return, because they will make you or try to make you pay again, regardless of an emergency. Read on... two of the girls we were with got caught in a terrible rip tide, and got caught under a rock. One of them sliced the bottom of the big toe off, and got cut on a rock from armpit to waist...all the while being pulled out further and further. Thank God there was a doctor on the beach who helped us get her out and apply pressure to her toe. We asked for our Water taxi, and was told it was coming right away to get her back to the safety of the ship. One half hour later, still waiting, we were told by a guy with a walkie talkie to take "this one"...we did as she was losing blood. Do you know that he asked for a tip and then the driver asked us to pay for the ride back? When I refused, I told him I would like to talk to the police. Went to the pier police and they said we had to pay. We told them we already did. Got the original driver and suggested he give him the "return" trip money and said he couldn't because he already turned it into the house. With that my daughter asked to see RCCL security at the pier, and he got us back on board without issue. Back on board, went to the ship infirmary, where we were told it was 175.00 just for a consultation and more for treatment, and that they DO NOT ACCEPT medical insurance. Well, guess what...we put pressure on it and cleaned it ourselves and she was fine the next day. Turned out to be a large flap of skin ...We were also told that evening that an 8 year old drowned earlier that day at the same beach. Why were we not advised by RCCL to stay off of the beach? Mazatlan, too hot! 106! Got off ship to the little flea market area and a corona for $2.00 then back on board to the pool! Great idea! P.V. .....middle of a rain storm, but got off, took a taxi to Malecon saw people body surfing in the flooded streets and got free samples of tequila along the way. The sand castles were beautiful... Malecon had some great shops and saw the cathedral which was beautiful. Took a cab back, which was FILTHY...all of us had to wash our clothes to get the brown stains off of our clothing. IMPORTANT: Use your safe. The girls room door did not shut all the way, and they had money taken from their wallets. Had security come up and do a search, filled out paper work, checked security cameras and key codes....nothing came of it, and we need to send a complaint and inquiry to the main office of RCCL. The Quest show was hilarious, yet a bit raunchy...but the best show I've seen on a ship! Dragons Lair is the Club....the girls loved it and made some good and life long friends. D.J. Scratch was the best! Compare Carnival to RCCL.....Carnival food was much better, the crowd much more fun and the ports in the Caribbean are much better! RCCL...ship was nicer....that's about it! Any questions, I will be glad to answer! Peace Read Less
Sail Date August 2010
We took a family cruise on the Mariner of the Seas the first week in August. We live in Texas and wanted something different from the standard western Caribbean/ Cozumel cruise. (Plus RCCL only operates seasonal from Galveston and we are ... Read More
We took a family cruise on the Mariner of the Seas the first week in August. We live in Texas and wanted something different from the standard western Caribbean/ Cozumel cruise. (Plus RCCL only operates seasonal from Galveston and we are not Carnival fans). This was our 5th cruise and the 4th on RCCL. This was our second cruise on a Voyager class ship. The Mariner as a whole was clean but seemed to be showing its age particularly in the hallways, fitness center, and some common areas. The staff, however, was overall the best we have EVER experienced on a cruise. They were very service oriented and proactive in handling situations. They are well deserving of their 4.5 star rating. We did a 5 star a few years ago and the service on this boat actually topped it. We took a 8:30 AM Southwest Airlines flight from Dallas Love field to LAX with a brief stop in El Paso. The plan landed early and we appreciated the "no bag fee" as we ended up with 8 checked bags for our family. We grabbed the Prime Time shuttle to the pier for $16 a head and by 11:30 had arrived at the pier. It took us about 15 minutes to locate a porter, but there was no line at the check in desk and we were on the ship by noon. We had two Promenade rooms. We were disappointed as the windows overlooked the centrum spiral staircase instead of the Promenade which we had enjoyed on a prior cruise but were still nice rooms. Our kids were in a separate room and we were able to request extra keys to allow us to enter each other's rooms if needed. My 18 and 20 year olds were concerned about meeting friends on the boat as they had done the teen club on prior trips. Mariner had several 18-20+ get togethers at the Dragon's Lair. This was not as structured as the teen program but they still were able to meet young adults around their age. Dined at a table of 8 in the Sound of Music dining room. We had requested a table of 4 on our reservation, but quickly bonded with our tablemates from Canada. Getting to know "D&A" and their two daughters made the nightly dinner the highlight of our cruise. We decided Canadians are every bit as crazy and fun as Texans and really enjoyed getting to know them. Christian and Bernado were our waiters. They were great! Portions were smaller than we remembered as other cruise critics have shared. Still enough for us plus they offered us seconds on several entree's. Two of our tablemates were vegetarians and the assistant head waiter bent over backwards with the chef to accommodate with superb alternatives. Wait staff in Windjammer were better than I remembered. Quick to bring you drinks, clean plates, helped you find open tables. Supervisors were actively working the floor with their wait staff which helped. Food choices seemed to rotate a little better than I remembered on other RCCL ships. Our only real bummer on the trip was the internet and cell phone connectivity. Internet was slow and spotty at best. Laptop worked in our cabin the first day buy had to use shipboard computers afterwards. Could never get a laptop connections afterwards and the wireless connectivity has worked flawlessly since we returned home. Several other folks I met in the internet room shared similar experiences. The internet cost between 35 and 65 cents a minute and provided dial up speed at best. It would take up to 5 minutes to load and reply to a simple email on Yahoo mail service. RCCL really needs to upgrade this service on the Mariner! Cell service at seas was also spotty. We had 5 cell phones between our family members. The one AT&T phone we had did not work at all except that I received 5 days of work related text messages at 4:30 Friday morning while at sea. We never had voice connectivity the entire trip on AT&T. At any given time we could only get one of our four T-Mobile phones to work at sea and the working phone seemed to rotate every time we had to make a call. It is worth noting we have not had this problem on any other RCCL ship we have traveled on. The shipboard room telephone also was difficult to use. CABO SAN LUCAS- First port- City seemed a little slower economically than we remembered from a trip about 6 years back. It was just too darn hot and humid that day even by Texas summer standards and we quickly melted and wilted in the heat. We stayed on shore for only about 2 hours then back to the air conditioned ship for recovery. MAZATLAN - Second Port - Our first visit there. Nicer Weather. We had planned to take water taxi to Stone Beach, but were advised they had a jellyfish problem that day. We hit the pier with no real "plan B" in place. Gentleman in cruise terminal tried to sell us a day pass to the Hotel Flores in the golden zone for $36 a person. We declined and found a friendly taxi driver who agreed to take us to a free beach hotel in the Golden Zone. (Which turned out ironically be the Hotel Flores). The cabbie was great. Mazatlan loves baseball and we talked almost the entire ride about great baseball players that had played on the Mazatlan team. He even drove us by their new stadium on the way to the Golden Zone. The Hotel Flores turned out to be OK. Nice pool, friendly staff, and we were able to cut a parasailing deal for about $30 a piece which was a lot less than the quotes in Cabo (this was a great experience!! Really enjoyed it). Beach was small but very pleasant. We found some neat local shops across from the hotel and stayed on shore for about 5-6 hours. PUERTO VALLARTA - Final Port - Spent the day at the Fiesta Americana Hotel. This was an older, beautiful property with great service. Purchased a $35 day pass per person which $25 is credited back towards food and drink. (Be careful, quoted a lower $25 price on the internet, but found the price higher when I actually arrived. Be sure to print any correspondence to get the price they quoted.) The hotel was wonderful, and reminded me of one of those Travel channel most beautiful beach shows. This was the most relaxing day of the cruise. Javier, our beachfront server, went out of his way to take care of us at the hotel. Our curiosity got the best of us and we decided to visit the Walmart across the pier from the ship. It was similar but different from US Walmarts. It looked like a supercenter but with a lot of local products. The attendants in the health and beauty section were very helpful and provided us with some Mexican products that were comparable to US brands. Also purchased some products that were cheaper than on the ship. Back on the ship, Trivia seemed to be a bigger event than on other ships. We enjoyed competing with our fellow guests. Ricki Ricardo was a great host. We enjoyed the Walk for Miles fundraiser for Make a Wish Foundation. Ship booked the Las Vegas act the Scintas. Best overall entertainers we have seen anywhere! What made it even more fun is after the show they settled into the Schooner Bar for about 3 hours and kept the group there entertained until well after 2 AM. A Temptations tribute band was average at best. The RCCL singers did a Broadway tribute but played a lot of lesser known songs which took away some of the fun. Several guests commented on this. A second RCCL show was cancelled as one of the lead performers became ill. Love and Marriage game was absolutely hilarious. I don't think anyone on board can every look at a Christmas tree lot quite the same way again. The Quest - Very raunchy event. We are not prudes, but the guest nudity, especially the guys flashing the audience was tasteless and I cannot recommend it nor will I attend this event on a future cruise! Disembarkation was a breeze. Off the ship and bags claimed in about 45minutes using regular checkout. Took a yellow cab back LAX and were at the airport by 10:45. (Note: Galveston could take a lesson from San Pedro Custom's operation). Overall this was a great trip. Mariner moves to Galveston in 2011-2012. I suspect we will venture forth on it in the future.   Read Less
Sail Date August 2010
Our cruise was from August 8th thru 15th, 2010. I hadn't been on a cruise for 10 years and that was my first cruise. My family and I went on the Millennium Mexican Riviera Cruise in 1999-2000 on the Rhapsody of the Seas. Back then, I ... Read More
Our cruise was from August 8th thru 15th, 2010. I hadn't been on a cruise for 10 years and that was my first cruise. My family and I went on the Millennium Mexican Riviera Cruise in 1999-2000 on the Rhapsody of the Seas. Back then, I was only a few years old, so I don't remember much. So, back to the recent cruise. We flew down to LA from Seattle on August 5th because my dad and brother wanted to watch the Little League games down in San Bernardino. We stayed with my grandma until Sunday morning. Day 1—Embarkation, San Pedro. We took a shuttle from my other grandparents' house to San Pedro on Sunday. When we got there, I was amazed at how large the ship was. I knew the ship was going to be big, but pictures don't cut it. You have to see the ship in person to realize how huge it really is. Embarkation was smooth, once we got our SeaPasses. We headed up the escalators to the walkway that takes you to the gangway, took a few pictures, and stepped onto the grand Mariner of the Seas. Once inside, my family and I stared at everything in front of us, except for my grandparents, though. This was their fourth cruise on the Mariner. First off, we went to the dining room to find out where our table was. It was a table for 10, we wanted a table for six. We decided we would deal with it after lunch. As we were walking out of the dining room, a family stopped my grandma and asked her about My Time Dining. She explained it to them and then introduced them to me and my dad. They had 3 kids, two around my age. I became good friends with them by the end of the cruise. After the introduction, we explored the small library overlooking the Royal Promenade. Did I mention the Royal Promenade was my favorite place on the ship? Well, it is. Especially in the early morning when it's almost empty. After our library exploration, we headed up to the Windjammer Cafe for our first meal onboard the ship. During lunch, an announcement was made that the rooms were ready. So, after lunch, we went to check out our rooms. The rooms were smaller than I expected, but we got used to them. Our stateroom attendant, Wayne, introduced himself and then we strolled down to the dining room to get our table changed. Note: You might be using the stairs more than the elevators, because they're so slow. So be prepared to get in shape just going up and down the stairs. Once we got to the dining room, we had our table changed in about 15 minutes. We went to check out where it was located, and it was an excellent location. We wandered around the ship taking pictures until just before the mandatory muster drill. They made the announcement to go down to your muster station. My dad walked out of the room with a life jacket in his hands, and walked back in as quickly as he walked out. The reason? No life jackets are need for the muster drill anymore. So we all walked down to our station and probably stood there for about 20-30 min. When they set off the alarm, it wasn't ear-piercing, but it was eerie, because everyone just stood there quietly while the alarm echoed back at us from a container ship across the channel. Once the drill was over, my brother and I followed our parents up to the spa to check out the massages they have. My dad claimed some raffle tickets for a raffle drawing at 5:30. We both went to the raffle to see if he would win anything (he got a letter later during the cruise saying that he and my mom both won a selection of massages), and we were almost late for the first dinner! At dinner, we met our waiter, Richard, from the Philippines, our assistant waiter, Hendro, from Indonesia, and later in the week we met our head waiter, Vilas, from India. Dinner was delicious just about every night, though I was kind of disappointed that they never had calamari on the menu or true chocolate lava cake. They served warm chocolate cake one night, in which I ordered two of them thinking it was chocolate lava cake. I was sort of right. It was a little gooey in the middle, but not runny like true lava cake. Back to Day 1; after dinner, we got ready to go to the show in the Savoy Theater. The show was okay; it was a musical, and I'm not fond of musicals. The show finished and we went back to our rooms until the parade started. At 10:30, my dad, brother, my grandparents, and I met on the Royal Promenade to watch the parade. The best spot to watch the parade is by the casino stairs/airbrushed tattoos cart. After the parade, all of us went back to our rooms to retire for the night. I stayed in the room for a couple minutes and then walked down to the Royal Promenade to get my end of the day snack. Day 2—At Sea. I woke up around 6 am and my dad and I headed up to the jogging track to jog and watch the sunrise. It was cloudy, but we could still see the sun rising through the clouds. After jogging 10 laps, or 2 miles, Dad and I walked down a deck to the Windjammer to eat a very early breakfast. It was peaceful there, just like every other place on the ship during the early morning hours. We got a window seat in the Jade section of the Windjammer without a problem. The service and staff in the Windjammer and the main dining room was outstanding the whole week. Even the staff not in the eating area was friendly. Not once did one crew member pass me without nodding or greeting me. When I needed someone to do something for me, they gladly helped me. Back to eating breakfast in the Windjammer. Once we finished a delicious breakfast, we took a cup of coffee to my mom and strolled along the Promenade. We had lunch later that day in the Windjammer and ate there for lunch just about every day of the week. The selection of food they serve there is delicious and it would satisfy a picky eater because I'm a picky eater and the food satisfied me. After lunch, I went to our room and rested for 20 min. and joined my grandma on the pool deck. At around 4:20, I went back to the room and slept for 40 min. After my nap, I got ready for the first formal night. We headed to the Rhapsody in Blue dining room at 6 o'clock to enjoy the formal dinner with Richard, our waiter. Right after dinner, we headed directly across the Royal Promenade to meet Captain Per. I greeted the captain with a brochure of the Mariner of the Seas I made on our computer. We got pictures taken and then we walked around and got more pictures taken before we headed to the theater to watch the show. I can't remember what the show was, but it might have been a tribute to The Temptations. One night it was the tribute to the Temptations, it was excellent! Can't remember what night though. After the show we went to sleep. Did I mention the beds are comfortable? Because they are, and I usually don't sleep very well on a bed that isn't mine! Day 3—Cabo. Hot and sticky that day, I'll never forget it. I'm not used to that weather. Got on the priority tender—the big one—took some pictures of the ship, got off at the docks, and walked right back on a tender an hour later. My grandparents and I were the only ones on the tender and the captain let me drive the boat. He just said, "Here, your turn" and let me drive the tender for a little bit. We got on the ship and enjoyed the Jacuzzi while the emptiness lasted. My grandma and I walked to the Windjammer to eat and the food was the same as it was at lunch. They just let it sit there and dry out under the heat lamp. If I were you, I'd avoid the afternoon snack from 3pm to 5pm in the Windjammer. Other than that, the food was great at other times of the day. The day ended normally—dress up for dinner, eat dinner, watch the ship leave port, watch the show, go to sleep, dream. Day 4—Mazatlan. The day started with my parents waking me up to watch the ship pull into port. Then we got up and had breakfast in the Windjammer. After breakfast, my dad and I walked along the promenade deck on Deck 4—not the Royal Promenade—to the bow to take pictures. Then our family got off the ship and walked into the cruise terminal. A very nice English-speaking man named Victor met us at the exit of the cruise terminal and offered to take us in a private, air-conditioned van to see Old Town, the flea market, the cathedral, and the Golden Zone—all for only $25 per person. We took his offer and had a very nice tour of Mazatlan. At the end of the tour, he recommended a guy in Puerto Vallarta named Xavier. I will talk more about Xavier later. We got back onboard the ship and then my mom and I got ready for dinner and walked to the bow to see us leave Mazatlan. Then we went to dinner and had a wonderful rest of the night. We went to the show that night, as we did every night. Day 5—Puerto Vallarta. By far, my favorite port. We walked off the ship in the morning and searched for the man Victor recommended, Xavier. We found him within five minutes after stepping off the Mariner of the Seas and it was the same thing, he would take us in a private van, air-conditioned, to see Old Town, some really expensive houses, and a nice restaurant in the jungle. So off we went. Once we got into the jungle, we had lunch at a restaurant with bees swarming around every sweet thing in sight. I just about fainted trying to stay away from them. I am deathly afraid of bees. While we were waiting for our food, we spotted our friends from the ship. After a so-so lunch, my brother and I took a swim with our friends in the Nogalito River. The river was located next to the restaurant and you could access it via stairs. We headed back to town after the swim and shopped at Diamonds International. Then we headed back to the ship. Back on the ship, we enjoyed dinner, watched the show, and danced to the music on the Royal Promenade at the '70s Dancing in the Streets. We literally danced to the music, because they played the song Dance to the Music! Day 6—At Sea. My favorite days. At sea. They're my favorite because you get to explore the ship's many activities. On this day, I bought two Royal Caribbean T-shirts, watched some of the belly-flop contest, and watched bingo with my grandparents. My grandpa was enjoying himself—if you were on this cruise and you watched or played the win a cruise bingo at 4:00pm on day 6, he was the person who went quack-quack when the announcer called a certain number that had to do with ducks. My grandpa was also the one who went "Hoo-Hoo". Day 7—At Sea. The final full day. I went ice skating at 11:00 am, it was open skating, and taught myself how to ice skate—on a cruise ship! Then I watched my friends ice skate at 11:30, and spent most of the day with them—playing basketball, attempting mini-golf in 42mph winds, watching one of them climb the rock wall, reading in the library, and staring in awe at their Grand Suite. That was pretty much the whole day. Day 8—San Pedro, Disembarkation. Disembarking went rather smooth, according to my mom, than it was 10 years ago at the same port. The only issue we had was we found out that our dog ran away. Fortunately, someone found her, and the day after we got home, we went to pick her up. Now, all is well. Sorry for the extra long review! Read Less
Sail Date August 2010
My boyfriend and I went to the Mariner of the Seas in August 2010. We had wanted to go on a cruise - any cruise - and were told that Royal Caribbean was the one to go on. We had an amazing time and met some awesome people that we keep in ... Read More
My boyfriend and I went to the Mariner of the Seas in August 2010. We had wanted to go on a cruise - any cruise - and were told that Royal Caribbean was the one to go on. We had an amazing time and met some awesome people that we keep in contact with! We're planning another one as soon as we have the chance to go - probably with Royal Caribbean again. Embarkation: We had family in the area that dropped us off at the port and we went go to stand in line although it was only 10:30-11ish. There was a line already forming and we could see people already boarding the boat so we jumped in line. The check-in was smooth (I had a labeled and prepared folder with passports, IDs, credit cards, etc. - I over plan) and we were on the boat about 30 minutes after being dropped off. We were told that staterooms wont be open until 1ish (as I recall) but we were free to roam the ship or eat at the Lido restaurant. We walked around looking at everything, occasionally getting lost, and eventually found our way to the pool. There were other passengers already hanging out in the hot tub and we decided to join them and made great friends before we even left! Stateroom: We booked the promenade stateroom and loved every minute of it! We opened the door and laughed because of the tiny little space to get to the room - the boyfriend had to slowly pull my over-packed suitcases one by one to get them all in! The bed was very comfortable and the bathroom/closet door/main door caused some hilarious problems being that only one can be open because of the tight space. Not a serious problem at all but it was funny when we got stuck! We (I) had a lot of stuff but we're from Hawaii so the storage issues were easily tackled. The only advice is to make sure the curtain are shut to the window, otherwise people can see in like you're in a fishbowl. But there's a little bench next to the window that we people watched and watched parades down below. Our stateroom guy was so sweet and everytime we left and went back into the room, he had made the bed and always had a little towel design for us. Food: We ate at the Lido deck when we first arrived but was so excited that I can't even recall what I had. For the breakfasts though, there are a ton of food to choose from and we were full every time we left. The dinners in the dinning room were amazing and delicious and there were so many varieties! We were in the Sound of Music dinning room (deck 5 I think) and had the most amazing waiter - Francis. From Day 1 I was referred to as "princess" and he always had a joke or story to tell us. We were routinely brought more than one appetizer, entree, and dessert much to my boyfriends enjoyment. We were never rushed out of the dinning room and were always found a table immediately even if it was already 9pm. The last formal night was lobster night (YAY!) and Francis brought me five lobsters - I ate them all. We ate at Portofino one night and it was amazing too! It was an at sea day and there was lightning that we could see from our booth. My boyfriend had a steak and a mushroom thing and I had the fillet Mignon that the chef very nicely butterflied and cooked well done for me. We went to Johnny Rockets for lunch one day and for $5, it was worth it. We had burgers and fries and sodas and watched dolphins jumping near the boat. The cafe was simple but had great food - especially at 3am! We frequently showed up there after a night of dancing or having fun at the casino to eat the delicious pizza and sandwiches. The piano bar had a hilarious bartender that was always our stop after dinner. He made us delicious drinks and had great magic tricks that we spent figuring out for days! The dragon's lair club was way fun and always busy. We went there 2 times and danced until early in the morning. The casino was fine - I'm not a gambling type person but I had fun with the nickel slots and the boyfriend played roulette. The smoke made it kind of stuffy but its a casino. Shopping: The general store does not carry general items in my opinion. There is enough denture gel and sea-sickness cures for everyone on the ship x2 but I had a hard time finding hair gel, lotion, and a comb. Definitely don't forget that stuff! The other stores were fun to look in - We didn't need anything but fun to spend a few minutes in. Fun: There were so many things to do on the ship! We woke up early every day and stayed up late every night and had to take naps to keep up - and we're 21! We didn't want to miss anything! We went to the Bingo game the second night because I was getting seasick and couldn't be in the room anymore. The bartenders brought me soda mixed with vodka (I guess buzzed/drunkenness is what cures sea sickness) but they were so nice and gave me tips and made sure I was okay. Also, be the volunteer - you get this delicious looking drink! One night there was a pool party that was a ton of fun. We danced all night and swam in the pool and of course, spent time in the hot tub. At the pool during the sea days there were competitions all the time. My boyfriend and others participated in the belly-flop competition and he was the crowd favorite! For the rest of the cruise, other passengers were congratulating him on his belly-flop. I couldn't be more proud. The last night we went to the movie theater and watched a movie. It was small but a good place to relax before starting the night! Ports: Our first port was Cabo San Lucas. The ship is moored in the "bay" but the boats going to the dock came and went all the time. We walked around the port for a while and decided to go to lovers beach. It was amazing! The tour guide took us on a tour and dropped us off at the beach ($20 round trip for both of us) promising to be back in 2 1/2 hours on the dot - and he was. In the August sun and only bringing a bottle of water to share (despite my better judgement) it was way fun but 2 1/2 hours was too long! There was an almost drowning and my Coast Guard boyfriend saved the kid but otherwise it was very peaceful and cool to walk from one ocean to another. We were so tired when we got back, we just went back to the ship and relaxed. The second port was Mazatlan. We booked a tour here to hike to the lighthouse and loved it! It was 90 degrees outside and 88% humidity but it was beautiful. After, we took a little boat to the beach, got a Pacifico (freshest you can get!) and had a nice time together. We went back to the boat and ate at the port restaurant - best nachos I have EVER had! The last stop was Puerto Vallarta. The boyfriend had been here numerous times before and it was beautiful but it wasn't my favorite. We took a deathly fun ride to town by a crazy driver, went to senior frogs and had a drink, ate at a a little restaurant above a shop, and walked along the beach. It was fun but after being in the sun for three days, I was starting to fade so maybe that's why it wasn't my favorite. We went back to the boat and got searched (my water bottle got taken and "searched" to make sure it wasn't vodka - please, like I was downing vodka in line!) but it was smooth and quick to get back on the boat. Don't forget to bring water, your ID/cabin card (cant get on without one!), and extra cash for tips in singles. Everyone wanted a tip for something - I don't know if its my American thinking but you don't get a tip for trying to carry me off a boat after I already jumped down. But I think that's just how it is so be prepared. Departing: We prepaid our tips (good idea!) and put them in the little envelopes the night before. We put extra cash in them though because everyone was so sweet and nice to us, plus they work very hard during the cruise. The departing was also very simple although there was some serious crowds at the theater waiting to have their baggage color called but it went very smoothly. We departed the boat, found our luggage, and hung out waiting for our ride. Overall, we had an amazing time and there was something to do every minute if you wanted there to be! We got amazing pictures but unfortunately lost our camera on the drive up and are still very upset but the memories were amazing. Read Less
Sail Date August 2010
I sailed with my adult son and daughter 4th July out out LA and am sorry to say that this has probably been the worst experience out of 46 previous RCCL cruises. Check-in was the only easy and pleasant part of this cruise, we arrived 3pm ... Read More
I sailed with my adult son and daughter 4th July out out LA and am sorry to say that this has probably been the worst experience out of 46 previous RCCL cruises. Check-in was the only easy and pleasant part of this cruise, we arrived 3pm once the lines had gone down. We were given an Upgrade from D1 to J/S because of our D+ and were very grateful to C&A for this. The cabin was very nice but I cannot see why this grade is called a Junior SUITE, they should probably change it to a larger balcony!! This grade is NOT classed as a suite, especially when it comes to any of the suite perks offered. There was no breakfast or lunch in Portofinos (Radiance in January did offer breakfast in PF for D+ and Suites and was very very good) I do understand that the other suite catagories are more expensive than the price we paid but I feel that after the number of cruises with RCCL that we have also spent a great deal. (entierly my choice!!) I would also now like to give the impression that I was given on the CC, firstly Alan the Concierge was unable to have any type of converation without one eye being on the door, this was when the chat was instigated by him, eventually we gave up on anything other than a please or thank you. His suite guests on the other hand were welcomed with open arms. Children are not allowed in the CC after 5pm and despite this there were children sitting with their parents almost every night. The bar waiters on the other hand were absolutely lovely and very good at their jobs. Guest relations were the most unhelpful that I have ever had dealing with on any RCCL cruise. We had adjoining cabins and asked the CS to have the door between the cabins opened so that we would not have to peer around the balconies.Our steward was most apologetic and said that he had been told not to open the doors, aparantyly it was a "safety issue". On enquiring at the guest relations we were told a different reason from three different members of staff ranging from "don,t know" to "I would love to tell you but its a secret" this being from the Guest Relations Manager. One of the staff found our question very amusing and when I asked him what he found to laugh about was very rude and then when I complained to his manager had to be told by her to "be quiet" when he insisted that i was not telling the truth about his behaviour. I have never met a more unhappy bunch of staff than encountered on this ship and most of the ones we spoke to could not wait to leave and were hoping that their contract on the ship was changed once they had been on vacation. There were quite a few ex-crew members from Radiance now on Mariner and they had not a good word to say about Mariner. I am sorry to be writing this negative review but apart from the ports on the trip we were not happy on this vaction. Read Less
Sail Date July 2010
This was my first cruise and I was excited about my trip to the Mexican Riviera. Many of my friends had told me of their cruise adventures on other cruise lines and I finally made up my mind to take one. My travel agent at AAA found this ... Read More
This was my first cruise and I was excited about my trip to the Mexican Riviera. Many of my friends had told me of their cruise adventures on other cruise lines and I finally made up my mind to take one. My travel agent at AAA found this deal. She will be punished. Mind you, I had to pay 200% because I'm single, but that was my choice. I also flew first class from Seattle to LAX, again my choice, so this was a pricey vacation. Just as the plane pulled away from the jet way, the pilot announced that there was a mechanical difficulty and we had to get off the plane while they found another. I panicked because I knew I had to be at the ship by 3:30. I knew I would miss the RCI bus. Blessedly the airlines provided a car and driver in LA and got me to the ship in plenty of time. Because of the hustle at the airport, I tipped the driver my last $20 and forgot to go the the ATM to get big money for the trip. More about this later. Getting on to the ship was no problem. As I was told my room wouldn't be ready for a while I was encouraged to go to the Windjammer Cafe and have lunch; lunch being dried out hamburgers on stale buns with equally stale french fries. I was hoping this wasn't a harbinger of vittles yet to come. I wandered around the ship, which was very clean and polished trying to avoid the dozens of unsupervised children running and screaming. (I can complain about this, I'm a school principal.) This was a problem throughout the whole trip. I finally went to my stateroom, which was on deck 7 and was greeted by a very nice steward. I found all of the crew very helpful and friendly. Not so much the officers. The room was larger than I had imagined. It was all very dated, sort of a latter day Motel 6, but immaculate. The bed was comfortable. The balcony was great. I awakened that morning at 4AM in order to make my plane and slept through my 8:30 seating at dinner. So, I just ordered one of the five things on the Room Service menu. I was disappointed in that. I called a friend of mine who had just returned from a cruise on the Princess Line and she said their room service menu was long and varied. The first day at sea, I was awakened by the Captain's morning announcement, which was sort of a radio hee-haw program in Norwegian. I hope he hadn't spent too much time writing it. I went to the Windjammer to have breakfast. Breakfast was ok, but there's not much you can do to ruin it. After breakfast I decided to wander around the Promenade which I think is the equivalent to a "on the water mall." I went into the Duty Free store, which had nothing I was interested in and the General Store where I did want to pick up some Tylenol. However, when I saw that the Tylenol was $12 for what I normally pay $3.99 for, I decided to live with the pain and pick some up in Cabo. Next, I stood in line to make a reservation for a shore excursion. I told the woman which excursion I was interested in and that I had a few questions. She went through her spiel. I asked my questions, which she didn't answer and then repeated her story again. I repeated my questions again. She didn't answer them and started on that damned memorized speech again. I thought the hell with it and bought the package, which was a trip to a resort in Cabo with a bed on the beach, drinks, and lunch, and a near death experience. That shut her up. Pool Time. I thought it would be a good time to get some sun. I went out to the pool area and there were two tiny pools filled with kids and their even more immature parents. I can't imagine how they thought 3000 people were all going to get into these pools. I walked a little further and found an adults' only pool. I found myself a nice deck chair, settled in with a book, fell asleep, and, of course woke up lobster red. I hopped into the pool and I know I heard the sound of sizzling. (This was entirely my fault.) I didn't know pools on ships were filled with salt water. That was a big surprise. I dried off and went back to my chair, now pulled into the shade and read my book when the waiter came by. I ordered an iced tea. He said, "Sorry, we only serve alcoholic drinks. You'll have to go into the Windjammer Cafe to get iced tea." I couldn't believe that. Lunch Time. I went back to the Windjammer Cafe. The food was almost mediocre. It was just a little north of the "Hometown Buffet." It didn't stop me from eating, but friends told me stories about the fantasies of cruise food. This was not it. Soggy wraps, cold soups, iceberg lettuce, two dressings, I could have stayed at home for that. Now back to the ATM. I went to the ATM machine at the Guest Services desk and there was an "Out of Order" sign on it. I went to the Officer at the Guest Services Desk and waited while he polished his cufflinks and ignored me for 10 minutes. Finally, he glanced up and I asked him quickly if there was another ATM machine on the ship. He says, "There are machines all over the ship. Try the one at the end of the promenade." I waltzed down to the end of the promenade and there is, indeed, an ATM machine with an "Out of Order" sign on it. Apparently, all of the ATM machines are out of order which sort of concerns me when I leave the ship in Cabo the next day. I go back to the Guest Relations desk where the officer is now giving himself a manicure and has been joined by a colleague. I told them that all the machines are out of order. Officer Attitude No. 1 says, "That's too bad." A sneer accompanied that statement. My father was an Air Force General. He would never have spoken to anyone from the lowest enlisted man to any civilian in that manner. That young man needs some sensitivity training. However, his compadre does tell me that they can cash a check for me. I never write checks. I pay everything electronically, but something told me to bring two checks. However, the catch is they will have to check with my bank to see if I have the funds, fair enough. However, their computer system is acting up and if they aren't able to verify my funds, they'll still have to charge my Sea Pass $25.00. I told them to forget it. That's enough to buy two bottles of Tylenol. Dinner: It's time for dinner and I have assigned to the late seating in the Rhapsody in Blue Dining Room with five other single people. I am by far the oldest. They are great people and we get to know and enjoy each other's humor quickly. The one thing we particularly have in common is that we think the food in the Dining Room is horrible. My first evening I order the Chicken Marsala. Now, I have been out before and recognize Chicken Marsala. This was breaded chicken and absolutely no marsala. The others had ordered steak of some type. I don't eat red meat, so I can't speak from experience, but none of them could cut it. So, back it went and we all tried something else. This went on each night. I finally skipped two nights except for the lobster night. It was okay. We docked in Cabo and I rushed to an ATM machine right as you get off the ship. It was in Spanish, but it dispensed money and from what it said the surcharge was 34 pesos. I got $300 and when the receipt came out it charged me a $34 surcharge. I wasn't happy about that, but my bank pays all of my ATM fees because it's a private bank. The fact that it was on the terminal dock and the ship's captain warned us about everything else. I was sort of surprised that they didn't say look out for the cash machines. I went on my excursion. A bus to us to the ME Resort somewhere in Cabo with a strange tour guide. I think it was a time-share for extremely beautiful male and female models. Anyway, 30 of us troop through their space to the beach, which is roped off with a sign that says, "Private Party" (us). The people who live there didn't look very happy and I can't say I blame them. We were invited to use the pool, given our own huge pillows with umbrellas, towels and our own waiters to serve us. I thought, "This isn't so bad." My waiter told me not to go into the ocean because of the jellyfish. So, I just was walking along the shore when this tidal wave washed over me and took me out to sea along with my Ray Bans, wallet, flip-flops. I thought I was drowning and I'm a good swimmer. People came to help me and retrieved my stuff, but I thought I was a goner. After that, I stuck to the swimming pool with the models. There is no way I can be confused for a model. This pool has little inlets and I would swim into them and there were couples in contortionists' positions looking pissed at being interrupted. So, everyone out of the pool. I stayed in "time out" on my pillow and my waiter kept bringing me lemonade. After a while, they brought us a good lunch. The best food I had on this whole trip, with linen napkins and silver. Impressive. I kept tipping my waiter. The service was impressive. Because of my tumble in the big water, I developed a pounding headache. (I had gone to the Pharmacia in Cabo first thing and bought Tylenol for five bucks.) I told the tour guide that I wasn't feeling well and that I would take a cab back to the ship. Wrong. She wanted to call an ambulance. I know she was being thorough and worrying about the ship's liability, but I said no ambulance, so we settled on me filling out about 15 pieces of paper where I absolved RCI of any wrongdoing and that I refused medical treatment. A cab came. He took me back to the ship and the rest of the time, I wandered around Cabo. That excursion wasn't worth $80. That night I went to dinner at the Windjammer and it was the same food from the Dining Room from the night before just recycled. Chicken Marsala was now Chicken you pick the sauce and a lot of strips of tough steak. That was sort of the theme for the rest of the voyage. That night I went to the Savoy Theater for what I thought was a grand Broadway review. I felt so sorry for the performers. I know they tried hard. This was a musical revue so off off off off Broadway it was in Kansas. I found it very important to drink during the performance. I spent a lot of time in the Casino. The Champagne bar was good. As long as you drank, the caviar with all the fixings' was free. One of my biggest gripes other than the Officers who want to be Captains was the unusual amount of hawking of merchandise down the length of the ship. Diamonds by the foot, gold chains by the foot, watches, wallets. Very pushy sales people. It was very tacky for what was supposed to be a sophisticated cruise line. My largest gripe was the people selling dubious "art". I don't know if that happens on every ship, but I found it to be tantamount to Wal-Mart. I was very disappointed in Mexico. I had a very hard time seeing past the poverty to enjoy myself. I'm a sucker for a handout particularly when it comes to hungry people, so instead of giving them money I went into McDonald's and bought them a meal. I don't pretend to be any kind of philanthropist, but it just got to me. So I spent my time in Mazatlan and Puerto Vallarta just walking through town trying to avoid people selling things made in China. The two days back at sea was boring. I swam. I read. I ate the food I was trying to avoid. Most of all I wondered about the parents who must have told their children as they boarded the ship, "Have fun and we'll see you next Sunday." Against my better judgment, I'm going to try one more cruise in December to the Caribbean. It won't be on RCI. Read Less
Sail Date July 2010
We have sailed the Mexican Riviera around 15 times or so and were looking forward to the Mariner of the Seas. We had 4 Owner's suites for my four daughters and parents and we had the Royal Suite. The suites are nice (the Royal always ... Read More
We have sailed the Mexican Riviera around 15 times or so and were looking forward to the Mariner of the Seas. We had 4 Owner's suites for my four daughters and parents and we had the Royal Suite. The suites are nice (the Royal always is!) but they are showing their wear. Many things in the Royal were not working.....a couple broken cupboard doors, refrigerator didn't work. Nothing huge but bothersome when you are spending so much money. I mean if they don't keep up these rooms I wonder what the others are like? Food was really the worst part.....we are not that picky but were astounded at how much the quality and selection had suffered. We have cruised Carnival, Princess, RCI, NCL (last October)and Sitmar years ago....and although we understand that things are not as they were 15 - 20 years ago, even our daughters and son in laws who are in their twenties, could not believe how bad the food had become. The service was good to excellent - no problem there. We especially enjoyed the Concierge Lounge and the staff there. Allan Fajardo was just wonderful and truly the highlight of the trip. But again, the appetizers were the exact same every night...surely they could rotate or something? We chose to eat in the specialty restaurants three times due to the quality of the food in the dining room. Again, the wait staff were wonderful and it is not their fault that the food is so bad! The casino was ok - seemed a bit small to us as we spend MOST of our time there and are all really heavy gamblers. The casino player's club is a joke however. I had accumulated over 5000 points before I was ever approached to become a member. No free drinks or anything as other lines do. I think after 5000 points (don't even ask me how much money this is but suffice it to say it is in the thousands of dollars played!) I qualified for $40 cash back at the end of the trip. I have been offered free suites on other Player's Clubs after just one cruise. But we did win so that was good! As many cruise ship casinos are "tight" with the payouts. The casino manager was not my favorite by a long shot.....She was ALWAYS on the microphone and sounded as though she were inviting a bunch of kindergardners to come and play bingo or something. She really needs to be quiet a bit and let everyone enjoy the playing... Ports - Same old same old...but we love just going to a hotel at each port and being on the beach. We did love Krystal Resort massages though! Thanks Cruise Critic people for all of the recommendations! We will surely go back there as that was the best massage (all 7 of us that had one agreed!) and for $40 for a 75 minute massage....well worth the short trip there from the dock in Puerto Vallarta! Leonard is the manager and is just awesome... Activities onboard - Again...same old same old. I really wish that they would come up with SOMETHING new for those of us that have been on multiple cruises. Bar waiters - I don't ever remember having waiters ask if you wanted to order a drink so many times before! While out on the pool deck sunbathing, I swear that I heard "drink service" every 20 - 30 seconds or so. But maybe these guys are under the gun to sell - so probably not their fault. But it did get annoying as even with your eyes closed they would still stop and ask... We will not be booking RCI anytime soon. The prices that they are charging are just not justified as the cruise is just your run of the mill....we had much better service, accomodations and FOOD on NCL in October. I do not understand how RCI can continue to charge more than comparible lines when they really do not offer anything special? I will seriously consider NCL for a second time before I would pay RCI prices. If the food were better I could at least consider it but I have had just as good food at Hometown Buffet. Cutbacks are a "b...." but for RCI prices I think we have other options. So although we had a great time, everyone asked me to PLEASE not book RCI again....so that also says something.... Read Less
Sail Date July 2010
The Mariner of the Seas is a huge ship and an example of the mega cruise ship experience that is the hallmark of Royal Caribbean International. The ship is breathtaking in its size and activities. The Royal Promenade is the main street to ... Read More
The Mariner of the Seas is a huge ship and an example of the mega cruise ship experience that is the hallmark of Royal Caribbean International. The ship is breathtaking in its size and activities. The Royal Promenade is the main street to this vessel and it is filled with shops, bars, and activities. Yet the whole experience is degraded with the constant attempt to "upsell" the customer into a more expensive product. This "upsell" cast a pall over what, normally, should be a pleasurable experience. Positives. The Shows. The shows on the ship are exceptional. My wife and I have seen many shows over the years and the shows on the Mariner dazzle the audience. First, they have an ice arena which hosted an ice show. The show, Under the Big Top, was a combination of skating show and circus in a cirque du soleil amalgam. The skaters are top notch and the choreography is amazing. The shows in the main stage area (Savoy Theater) maintain the high standard. Particularly enjoyable was a show based upon popular music of the 80's (yes, including Boy George). The next night saw a tribute band for ABBA. I was skeptical at first but they won me over with their on-target portrayal of this popular group. The Activities. Their are plenty of activities to choose from. Service. All of the crew is trained to be polite and pleasant and it shows. Cruise Director. Casey, the cruise director, was exceptional. He seemed genuine and natural in all events. He is one of the best cruise directors we have experienced. Negatives. Food. The food was mediocre overall. Sure, there was plenty to choose from but the quality was inferior to what we had experienced from RCI in the past. In the main dining room the food selection was limited and rushed. If you ask for anything outside of the servers routine it was a major effort for them to address it. In order to mitigate complaints the head waiter comes over to the table each evening to ask if there were any problems. They must think it cheaper to perform damage control than to provide a quality product at the first time. Coffee is weak as they would like you to purchase the upgraded products. The Windjammer Cafe is huge and serves buffet style food in quantity. The Constant Upsell. From the moment passengers arrive they are urged to spend and upgrade their experience. It is so pervasive that you are invited to buy "fresh Squeezed" orange juice the moment you arrive for breakfast for an additional four dollars. Does this mean the stuff that is normally called orange juice is that bad? Cappucino/ espresso extra. Alternative dining extra. Beach towel 20$ if you do not return it. This constant attempt to separate the traveller from their money is off putting at best. The Captain Johnny Show. This is the first cruise in which the personality of the captain is part of the marketing and the show. Captain Johnny is pervasive. He is on the ship channel 24/7. And you hear his spiel from the bridge several times a day. He is almost like the assistant cruise director. Towards the seventh day his omniscience is overbearing. He even has his own autographed book for thirty dollars that he promotes. I have never seen or heard a captain on a cruise ship like this. Since when did personality take the place of a quality cruise? Read Less
Sail Date July 2010
Our Mariner of the Seas - Mexican Riveria Review (longish) Tour dates 04JUL - 10JUL First of all a HUGE thanks to all that have posted before me. The wealth and depth of info was so helpful in deciding what to bring or do on the boat. ... Read More
Our Mariner of the Seas - Mexican Riveria Review (longish) Tour dates 04JUL - 10JUL First of all a HUGE thanks to all that have posted before me. The wealth and depth of info was so helpful in deciding what to bring or do on the boat. A special thanks to those that have posted the ships Compass (daily newsletter as it allowed us to at least plan for our day's. Our actual Compass was a bit different but reading it up front made it so much easier to digest the ton of info that is given to you each night. Arrival / parking We drove down from No California leaving at 4:30 am and arrived at the San Pedro pier parking lot ~ 11 am. We made a full loop of the parking area before realizing we needed to just turn into the area for parking rather than enter through a specific gate. We asked an attendant where to go for boarding and was directed to a building ~ 50 yards away. We decided to move our own luggage (4 bags) and went through a security system then onto the reception desks (must have been 12 stations) We checked in and were directed to a waiting area. We started boarding w/in 10 minutes and were on the ship w/in 5 min. On board - day one We found our way up to the windjammer food buffet (11th floor, back of the boat). We were somewhat early so we easily found a table right near a window. We circled the buffet area's (must have been 10 different stations some of which are duplicates) and chose a few things. The variety was great and the quality was good. I was hoping for some sushi at Jade's (2 area's w/in the buffet) but were told they were only open for dinner hours. We were able to get to our room by one and found 2 of 4 bags, hmmmmm. We entered and were quite happy with the size of our Jr. Suite. We have 2 boys (12, 14) so we needed the extra space for us. The walk in closet was good size but we needed the extra hanger we brought (though im sure you could get more if you asked). That's one of the great things I'll remember is that the service is outstanding. Any and all request are met with a smile and efficiency. The boys changed into swim wear and we all headed out to the pool area (right off the windjammer entry area). Noted the 2 main pools and 4 hot tubs (2 of which are covered for shade) The pools are saltwater which surprised my boys when they first jumped in. The pool temp was fine and seems to be closely controlled as on colder days the pool was warmer (up to 75). Pool towels are available by scanning in your seapsss, make sure you bring them back or it's 20 USD per towel. There was also welcome aboard music played by a Caribbean type band right on the pool deck. The atmosphere was nice, people dancing and drinking and we haven't even left LA! Made our way to the promenade, which is just beautiful. The immense five? story ceiling and quaint little shops and bars along the way make it feel like a little European town. OK now im tired, so back to the room and still missing 2 bags. We see and meet our room attendant, Henry, who was very nice, always smiling. He told us to check with guest services (4th floor?) who directed us to security on the first floor. Sure enough there were our bags and the only thing I was asked is "do you have an iron one of your bags" I could only remember my DW brought a hair iron ?!?. That seems to be fine and after a rescan of the bags (which I had to personally lift the bags onto) we were able to bring them to our room. Not the best of service downstairs but ill let it pass. We decided on the later dining time (8:30 but 8:45 on day one) we lasted until that time by snaking either at the windjammer during the dinner hours there or stopping by the always open Royal Promenade for free cookies, brownies or small croissant sandwiches with either water, coffee, tea or hot chocolate. There was an island a go-go parade on the promenade which was nice and worth seeing. We were lucky to have a chair right out side of one of the bars along the "street" as we new the parade was about to start. Of note most if not all activities and show's are well attended and getting there 10-15 early will guarantee you a decent seat. The exception is the Quest where you should be in line at least 20 minutes or you'll be either sitting way up high or apart from your group. More on the Quest later.... Day 2 - full day at sea Second day at sea and I most definitely felt queasy. My wife used the patch since day one, I was only using ginger tablets. I would say that a large part of the time I actually could feel the boat moving more side to side than anything else. On this day I had to take a bonine which helped but I still had a headache which 3 200mg ibuprofens helped. I was pretty drowsy though and crashed around 11 am (no dancing for me). I don't remember too much about this day. Missed most of the "men's sexy leg contest, which my wife said was very funny and well attended. Formal dinner night one, so I was able to dress up, we took some family portraits at 3 of the 5-6 portrait areas. At the end of each day the ship posts any and all pictures taken of you either by your dining table or the location of the portrait. You could also use the computer and your sea pass card to check them on line (smaller but certainly easier to find) Costs of the 8x 10 was pretty high at 20 USD ea. We ended up buying 3 getting one free on the last night of the cruise. Day 3 - Cabo We discovered the Casey morning show on Ch 14. Here Casey goes over the daily compass highlights, answers guest questions and generally clowns around similar to a morning talk show, good way to start the day before breakfast. We usually ate breakfast at the windjammer and never had trouble fining a table the longest we look was maybe 1 min. Felt much better after a decent sleep. Whether was nice, clear blue sky's and pretty close to 90. We arrived to cabo on time and enjoyed the balcony view of the area coming in. we lined up for the departing tender boats. The waiting line went from floor 3 to floor five along the staircases which someone is not too bad as they have seen it longer. We were on the tender w/in 15 minutes and the ride in was fine. Coming off the pier we were looking for a specific tour that I read up on (Migrosa beach ATV) and located a reasonable vendor and negotiated the price down to what I saw on the web (50 USD pp). It was ~ 20 min ride with one other family to the "ranch" Check in took about 10 minutes were supplied with bandannas (for dust control) and a helmet with goggles. Cool now were ready. We had an overview of the ATV's and learned that most were non clutch but mainly shifted (you had 2 use a foot peg to shift up and down) my kids had never driven anything so we were lucky to get the 3 fully automatic units they had. At the last minute we signed for the 10 USD pp waiver) and wouldn't you know it my 14 yr old tips over his bike with the first ¼ mile. No damage but sorta scary. The first you do when you hop on is travel ~ 1.5 miles to the beach on a pretty bumpy, hilly skinny trail. I would recommend and I should have kept my guys in the back of the pack as they were up front and felt some pressure to keep pace with the tour guide. Any way we get down to the beach and huddle up. The guide says go any where you want and gave some ideas what to see. We were given some chilled bottle water. We had ~ 2 hrs. The beach was WAY bumpy so going fast was difficult, going alog the water line helped. Overall it was fun, only bad point is one of my wifes handle bars "broke" rendering her unit unusable. The guide let us use his unit. Luckily she wasn't driving fast when the handle basically snapped off in her hand. We made our way back and tipped those involved and headed back to town. We ate lunch in town and decided to go inland a bit. We tried one recommended place (mimi's cafe) but it was not open when we went by. We ended up at a nearby place which was fine I had lobster enchilada for 9 USD. Pretty good place, don't recall the name but right across the street from mimi's. We headed back to the main beach are and enjoyed some shopping. My youngest and I love soccer and were able to negotiate a 15 USD each price for 2 good quality jerseys of our choice. Online they are ~ 40-60 USD. Soon is was time to head back and we waited in line for ~ 20 min. The tender back was smooth and we also were able to get some nice pics of the ship. It was 70's night so we strutted around in our best stayin alive outfits and blended right in with the rest of our ship mates. They had a really nice, high energy show right on the promenade. The place was packed and we had about b2 dozen beach balls bouncing around, big easy beads being tossed to the crown and free t-shirts being tossed out by cruise director extraordinaire Casey, love love love Casey. We headed to dinner at the MDR. We were seated o the top hat and tails level 2 of 3 and enjoyed or view of the first floor dining area. I would say I don't think I would like the third floor dining room. The dining room is spectacular with the largest chandelier I've ever seen . After dinner we made it to the Production showtime show in the Savoy theater (front of the boat levels 3 and 4) The show was OK to good. It contained many 20's to 50's type songs which will likely will not appeal to any one under 25. Then we saw the late night adult comedy show which was pretty good and generally PG with only a minor reference to birth and birth control. Hardly offensive and I probably could have brought my boy's. This brings me to how we handled our teens when we went to see something ourselves. They each had their room keys and a copy of the teen activities list as well as a walkie talkie. They had a good time but needed some encouragement to go to the teen stuff. Once they did, they tended to go more often. Day 4 - Mazatlan Another beautiful sunny day. The boat docked at a pier. We departed to a pretty industrial pier where we boarded a free shuttle inland on a 2-4 minute drive. We did not have any real plans and took advantage ?? of a visit to El Cid Marina resort for a small sales pitch on a point sharing system. Free 20min taxi ride later we arrive at the marina. So while my boys had there way with the 2 pools and hot tubs we lasted through a 70 minute discussion and finally convinced the presenter that indeed we were NOT interested. Pretty hard sell. We had a free lunch and then took a free shuttle to another el cid resort where we headed for the beach. The ocean water was great must have been 79 degrees with some of the largest waves I played in (I compare them to Fla gulf and ocean coasts as well as Waikiki and Maui) we played for ~2 hrs, rinsed off at the hotel rinse station (again nice warm water) and changed. We took our free taxi back to the town area, shopped for only a few minutes and had to head back to the boat. Relaxed a bit then headed to the 10 USD sale on the promenade, the wife picked up a few things. We decided to see the Ice under the big top show today for afew reasons and attended the 6:45 show. It was very crowded and while I was there ~ 15 early to get a good seat they were pretty strict about not reserving seats only my youngest sat with me and we were separated during the show (GO EARLY). The show was very nice and has one really funny act , 2 really good acts and a few OK acts. Definitely worth seeing. Then it was onto dinner in the MDR (we ate every dinner there it was more than good, decent choices of starters and main entrees each night as was free!) We ended the night with the love and marriage game show which was very funny but really depends on the contestants picked. I would classify this as an adult only as you never know what someone will say live.......They did discuss unusual places for fun making. After that it was dancing under the stars by the poolside which had a four piece band that played some tropical type tunes pretty nice not to crowded ...Great day Day 5 - Puerto Vallarta Another nice day a bit overcast though. The boat docked we were able to walk off quite easily. We decided for forgo our planned horseback riding excursion in lue of a day walking around town. We decided to take the bus from the boat terminal to town (~ 5-10 min) it was 3 USD for 4 people. We were dropped off one street from the beach near the hard rock.. Started off with some shopping, looking for some piggie banks and photo frames. All of the shops carry similar if not identical items and surprisingly the shop furthest from the beach that we shopped at did not have the lowest prices. We looked for a place to eat and ended on on the main beachwalk at a restaurant near the end of the developed walkway near the seahorse statue. Food was fine service was way slow. It started to rain midway through service. The rain continued for the next 2 hrs. most of which we spent on the beach letting the boys play in the ocean while it rained. This was the public beach after the hotel row private beaches so there were no amenities or barely a place to hide form the rain. We headed back via bus and made our way to the ship. Back on board most of the "outdoor activities were cancelled due to weather. Me and my youngest hung out in the covered hot tub for a while. Pretty laid back early evening, headed to Jade in the Windjammer around 6 for some sushi, which was actually pretty dinner good. Some more promenade walking, some foosball with the boys and got ready for the 8:30 dinner. After word we geared up for there QUEST. We headed to Studio B (skating rink) on 3 rd floor near the MDR which are all at the front of the boat. The line was only ~ 50 people deep when we got there but quickly grew. We were able to pick our seats and chose to be face forward, versus side seats, and 2 rows back.. The Quest is a game show that utilizes everyone in the studio. By the end of the night my wife has taken off her bra, I also spent some quality time on the floor with another man in my favorite position fun fun fun.,.. It was super high energy and must be attended if it is ther only thing you do on the ship. After this was over, everyone's is basically crazed with energy so onto dancing at the solarium (adult pool area) for some VJ driven music. Much of the music was hard core hip hop so the party was a bit dead for a while then the VJ wised up and spun some more contemporary stuff (Back eyed peas, Rhianna, Beyonce ect.) it perked up but the VJ still insisted on throwing in some unknown to me hip hop stuff. nded up back at the room near 1:30. Another great day. Day 6 - full day at sea A beautiful day very sunny, nice around 80-85. Day at the pool for the family we found some open lounge chairs in a semi shady spot (our preference) around 10:30 soon after that was slim pickings for chairs and people were taking chairs from the window area (no sun) and brining them out front of the band area, pretty congested. I believe at 11 was the ladies bicep competition I convinced my wife to join it was all good a pretty funny harmless fun all ages welcome to see this. At one I joined the international belly flop completion and it was also very fun well attended, the pool are a was super packed and those sitting close to the pool got very wet. We made it to the windjammer for lunch and headed back to the pool area for most of the afternoon. They had the same 4 piece band playing most of the day or piped in music. This was the second formal night so we all headed back to clean up and relax in the room. They were replaying some of the weeks earlier stuff (love and marriage show so we watched it with the kids) I think we all crashed for a few and finally got dressed ~7 and went to get a second set of formal photo's taken. Dinner was the special lobster / prime rib night so that was fab. I believe we went to the battle of the sexes, which was fun but I swear we saw that earlier in the week oh well, I little foggy here. As far as battle of the sexes again, people volunteer to play and go thru random questions or skits. Thru a series of clever cheating the men won . We finished up with more dancing at the "dragons lair" which was really well attended had high energy and was great fun. We were done by one am and were surprised not to see our boys back from the night. They arrived shortly after due to the curfew on younger travelers. A third great day . Day 7 - full day at sea A much colder day not suited for poolside fun so we took advantage of the numerous dance classes (line, meringue, latin) lazed around our room. Quick visits to the hot tubs and more of the free self serve ice cream at the artic zone right by the pool. In the afternoon I played in the adult dodgeball staff vs guest competition ( my arm still hurts) It was good fun. The teens played dodgeball right after so we were pretty chilled and cold after these 2 events. Back to the hot tubs then to the room for again what I remember was naptime. We then headed to the photo are to look at the weeks of photo's including the formal night shots. We spent about an hour looking and finally deciding to by 3 and the cruise DVD. The DVD is OK but I wish there was more candid live footage with sound than the canned, prerecorded ship footage with overdubbed music. We made it to the farewell variety show but were late and it was standing room only. A pretty good show. We headed to dinner and our kids decided to pass as they went to the windjammer. Afterword we went to the adult comedy show, different comedian that day 2? And about the same (hardly offensive) A very nice, but somewhat cold day. So to summarize, we loved the cruise even with the slight sense of a headache now and then. I recommend you attend as many activities and show's that interest you as walking through the promenade more than a few time gets a bit redundant. Must see/do - Quest Lobster dinner Belly flop, miss biceps and best legs Ice show 70's party in the promenade Love and Marriage Comedy shows Dance classes Dancing under the stars Parades day 1 and 7 20's - 50" and 80's entertainment shows Ill be posting some photo's at a later date - thanks for listening Read Less
Sail Date July 2010
We have been wanting to experience RCCL for quite a while and finally found an itinerary and time that worked for us. Also, because CC has been so helpful to me in planning some of my past cruises, this is my first CC review with the hope ... Read More
We have been wanting to experience RCCL for quite a while and finally found an itinerary and time that worked for us. Also, because CC has been so helpful to me in planning some of my past cruises, this is my first CC review with the hope of helping others as well. We traveled with my sister and brother in law who live in L.A. We came in from NYC. Mariner was a beautiful ship and we had great service from the dining room staff (thanks to head waiter, Ayessa and maitre d, Merrick for changing our first table to a better one)! Overall it was a great experience but I will list the positives and negatives. POSITIVES: EMBARKATION AND DEBARKATION: Smooth and quick as I have ever experienced! SERVICE: As I already mentioned the service was great. The staff were all cheerful and couldn't be more receptive to fulfilling any requests if possible. I think this is because they actually seemed to enjoy their jobs! This was not the case on some of my past cruises which have included Princess, NCL and Celebrity. FOOD: The food was quite good and even though the Windjammer was a times crowded, we usually were able to find a table with a view. I miss morning meusli from some past ships but everything else was good. I loved afternoon snack when they would make fresh waffles with FRESH whipped cream. I wish they had these fresh waffles in the morning but hey, nothing like having several breakfasts on a cruise! My only food negatives were lack of more veggie dishes and lack of more fresh berries, even though melons and pineapples were in abundance. We never tried or felt the need to try any of the specialty restaurants. ENTERTAINMENT: The entertainment was quite good. I always enjoy the comedians and they had a musical impressionist who was fabulous! The ice show was unique and it was nice to enjoy their originality and talent. The singers and dancers were fine but after so many cruises I am tiring of this aspect of entertainment. CRUISE DIRECTOR: Casey was charming and no attitude! CASINO: I loved that on formal nights the casino had a no smoking policy. I can't remember this on past ships and it was great as I'm a non-smoker! The dealers were very pleasant. NEGATIVES: (few but notable) At the one midnight buffet, they had a suckling pig! I don't begrudge meat eaters but I don't wish to see a dead animal on display either! I found this totally offensive and I would think that many other cruisers with varied cultures and religions may have taken offense as well. I'm glad my children weren't there as well as this would have upset them too. NON-SMOKING ROOMS WITH BALCONIES: We had a non smoking room but were dismayed that our balconies allowed smoking! So, once I opened my balcony door smoke would stream in from my "non-smoking" room neighbors. I would love to see this policy revised. ElEVATORS: So slow but the positive aspect was I took the stairs more and any additional exercise is a plus. This cruise was for major relaxation and we've been to Cabo, Mazatlan and Puerto Vallarta on previous cruises. Other than walking off the ship in Mazatlan we opted to relax on the near empty ship during port days..another first for us and something we wouldn't have the opportunity to do if we were with our sons. All in all, we will definitely travel with RCCL again! Actually, will be going on the Liberty in August with our two sons, ages 14 and 16, and I look forward to reviewing what I am hoping will be our second great RCCL cruise! Read Less
Sail Date July 2010
Embarkation: Embarkation was really easy. We flew into LAX at 5:30am the morning of (there are not too many direct flight options coming out of Kaua`i and I didn't want to risk our luggage getting lost before the trip). We thought ... Read More
Embarkation: Embarkation was really easy. We flew into LAX at 5:30am the morning of (there are not too many direct flight options coming out of Kaua`i and I didn't want to risk our luggage getting lost before the trip). We thought that we would hang out at the airport until around 1030 and then take a cab to the port because I had read somewhere that the RCI shuttle doesn't come until noon and I wanted to be on the ship by then. Luckily we ran into an RCI representative at baggage claim and they had us on the shuttle by 1015 for around $28 per person (there were only two of us). Once we got to the port it was pretty self-explanatory. There are numerous people there giving out information and telling us where to go or to wait until we could board the ship. We were on the ship by 1115. We headed straight for the Windjammer to eat lunch. I was immediately impressed by the open view of our surroundings and the quality of the food. I mean, it is a buffet, but I felt that the quality was very good, for a buffet. The Ship: They were playing the World Cup Final in the Savoy on a huge projector so we caught the tail end of the game and then explored the ship. At first I was a little confused as to how to get to certain areas (since on some levels, you can't walk all the way through to the other side) but after the second or third day I felt like an old hand. The Mariner is a LARGE ship. It is also very nice looking. The promenade was impressive, although I was a little disappointed that there were only three or four actual stores. The ice skating rink was smaller than I thought it would be. The main dining room was VERY glamorous. We didn't feel that we needed to eat at the specialty restaurants since eating in the MDR felt special enough for us. The ship overall was very clean. My only complaint is that the elevators took forever. We usually ended up taking the stairs. I believe each floor of the ship has a theme in its artwork; we were on deck 8 and all of the art pieces involved bikes of some kind. Our Room: We had an interior room, #8471, towards the aft of the ship. The room was tiny, but it didn't matter since we were only in there to sleep or to take naps. The bed was SUPER comfortable and the room got really dark so we slept like the dead (not to mention we were on Hawai`i time, so when people were waking up at 700am, it was like 400am for us.. needless to say, we looked really tired the entire time). Since the room was so dark, I usually kept the bathroom light on at night with the door shut so we could see it in case one of us woke up. They clean the room twice a day, and leave your cruise compass after the second cleaning. We had three towel animals: a penguin, swan, and elephant. The Food: I felt that the food was really hit or miss. The MDR was absolutely gorgeous. We did My Time Dining, which was awesome since we didn't really want to eat with anyone or be on a set schedule. We tried eating with a group of people one day for lunch, and it was incredibly awkward. I realize this is not usually the case, as most people LOVE their tablemates, but the group of people we sat with absolutely refused to engage us in any conversation after repeated tries. We finally gave up and said good riddance to that family. Anywho, our table for two was set by the window each night and we had amazing views of the ocean and one night saw dolphins jumping through the waves. Back to the food however, it was definitely hit or miss. I really believe that the pork medallions could be passed on. Many nights had a duck or beef dish served. My favorite dessert was the berry-peach crumble. My favorite entree was the prime rib. My favorite appetizer was the caprese. We visited the cafe a couple times if we got hungry during the day. I think their cookies could be passed, but they had some good pizza and cute sandwiches. The soft serve machine was definitely a hit. We ate breakfast at the Windjammer because it was fast. It was your usual breakfast food. The Weather: It was cold out at sea. Period. I don't understand how people could enjoy themselves by the pool as it was so windy and probably 70 degrees, which I personally consider to be FREEZING. The port days were hot and humid, but not unbearable. I think the temperatures only got up to 95 degrees. Luckily for us it was sunny each port day. The Ports: Cabo San Lucas: This place is a total tourist trap, and I didn't like it at all, considering that the majority of my state is a giant tourist trap. We took a boat (RCI) out to see the Arch which was nice, then hired a taxi to take us around the city. We stopped by the glass factory. No one was blowing glass and a lot of their wares were very dusty. Seeing how the locals live though was pretty cool. The houses are very pretty colors and I love seeing the painted signs on buildings since it is so different from home. Mazatlan: We initially were going to do Salsa, Salsa, Margaritas, but last minute changed to horseback riding at Las Moras ranch. I thought this was awesome. We took a van with about 10 other people an hour out into the country to this gorgeous ranch with a beautiful chapel. Then half of us went riding for an hour while the other half hung by the pool and looked around. Then we swapped. We were in the first riding group so when we got back, lunch was ready and we ate it at the poolside bar. The ranch felt very exclusive and authentic. I loved it. Puerto Vallarta: I had read so much about Outdoor Adventure that I knew we had to do it if nothing else. We got off the ship in the morning and took a zodiac across the bay for about 30 minutes. Then we took these large bulky vehicles up into the hills until we reached the place. We were given helmets and harnesses and then loaded up onto mules who then took us up further into the mountain (about 30 minutes). We then did multiple ziplines and two 100ft rappels down the sides of waterfalls. I had done ziplining before, but never when I had to use my own hand to brake. It was definitely different. I thought I was too scared to do the rappels but I forced myself to do it and enjoyed myself. You are not allowed to bring your own camera and they have a photographer. It's $29 each to get all of the pictures taken of you. They take cash or credit. I thought it was incredibly worth it. Entertainment/Activities: We ice skated, rocked climbed, and used the gym during the day. I got a hot stone massage which was very relaxing. The woman tried to get me to buy some massage gel after for $113 and I told her I'd think about it and she didn't pressure me after that. The pool was pretty crowded most days, even the Solarium. I enjoyed the Dragon's Lair. The drinks had PLENTY of alcohol in them which totally made up for the price. We played Bingo and went karaoke. We saw several shows and game shows. I personally thought the RC Singers and Dancers could be missed, except for the Jazz Cabaret (but even then, it's the trumpet player from the band, Tom Young, who is the star of that event). We had a singing impressionist and a juggler who were both very good. Love and Marriage was hilarious. Quest was hilarious. Battle of the Sexes was hilarious. In fact, all of the game shows were very good. The ice show was good, but not AMAZING.. we had a few dancers fall (but I don't blame them, the rink is so small!). Read Less
Sail Date July 2010
I found all of these posts on Cruise Critic to be so helpful so I wanted to pay it forward and hope this helps all of you reading out there... Here is a recap of our recent cruise on Mariner of the Seas to the Mexican Riviera. We Had Aft ... Read More
I found all of these posts on Cruise Critic to be so helpful so I wanted to pay it forward and hope this helps all of you reading out there... Here is a recap of our recent cruise on Mariner of the Seas to the Mexican Riviera. We Had Aft Balcony 1690, and Main Seating deck 3 Onboard: We live in the So Cal area so departure day consisted of a final pack of clothing (kept everything pretty wrinkle free) and an hour drive to San Pedro. Got dropped off by family at the front door of the terminal around 10am and was in the doors waiting for the RCL folks to check every one in. A quick and easy check in process and on board by 10:45-11:00. Quick trip up to the Windjammer for lunch and sat in the very back section with Mildan (from Croatia) as the waiter. He was very nice, friendly and personable to the point that we would look for him whenever we went to the Windjammer throughout the week. I tried the honey stung chicken everyone raves about, not much to talk about in my opinion, not bad just nothing spectacular. We then walked around the ship and explored a bit u8ntil just before 1pm. No announcement as of yet but we checked to see if our cabin was ready and were happy to find the cabin ready for us. Our room steward, Winston (from the Philipines), quickly introduced himself, brought ice for the room and did the quick 'tour' of the room. Our cabin was in good condition, clean and no issues with any of the fixtures, bedding, etc. We relaxed in the room for a bit then more exploring around the ship with a trip to the Promenade and the Wig & Gavel. Luggage came to the room about 5:00 and then some unpacking and changed for dinner. Wayne (from Jamaica) was our waiter and Samvil (from India) was our asst. waiter. Both were friendly and efficient on day one and only got better throughout the cruise. Much like many other reviews on here, by day 2 and 3 we had drinks already waiting for us as we arrived for dinner and extra entrees were brought out without even having to ask. We didn't do most of the stage shows but did go to the show on Day 2. The group Abbacadabra was on board and did a great show of Abba music. They hit all the highlights and even did a song from Queen to add a little humor of the show. Great performers, great show and all with only 1 hr rehearsal as this was their first show on the ship. A definite must see!!! Most days on the ship were spent relaxing and enjoying the smaller events. Many trivia contests in the Schooner bar (won many keychains, luggage tags, travel wallets and my personal favorite gerbil bags), nights at the Wig and Gavel, rock climbing, ice skating, ping pong, mini golf... Ports: Cabo San Lucas we didn't have any excursions planned so we waited until about ½ hour after the tenders started and were off the ship with in 10 minutes. Our plans were to do a little shopping and go back to enjoy an empty ship. We were overwhelmed with all of the locals offering a water taxi, atv tour, glass bottom boat experience. etc... Walked over to Cabo Wabo had the best shrimp ever (tequila, lime, jalapeno I think). Bought souveniers and then back to the ship. Pool deck was empty and we enjoyed having the ship to ourselves for a few hours. Pure relaxation and vacation at it's best. Mazatlan was day 1 of golf. We booked the Estrella Del Mar golf course through the ship and it was a very nice course on the ocean with some great pictures taken on a near empty course. There were 15 total that booked through the ship and I think we were the only ones on the course. It took about 30 minutes to get to the course and at one point we even had to wait for the cattle herd that was blocking the road. Round was fun, course was fair, but with a lack of signage at some points that made it confusing as to where the next hole was. Had some drinks, chips and salsa at the clubhouse after the round then back to the ship. WARNING -- bugs aplenty at the golf course. Take some bug repellent or at the least buy it at the course, you'll be glad you did. Didn't notice too much more than ants, but returned to the ship with many bites that did not look to nice the rest of the week. Puerto Vallarta was day 2 of golf. Booked the Flamingo's golf course through the ship, personally I liked Estrella Del Mar better but this course did offer some interesting memories. The course runs through a nature preserve so through our round we saw badgers, crocodiles as well as crabs running across the fairways. The weather was wet and humid as it had rained overnight. This left the course very wet and muddy in many places to the point that our cart was fishtailing as we drove down the fairway. Again, bugs aplenty and we didn't learn our lesson so more bug bites, by this time I look like my legs have mumps or measles or something. NOTE - this course offers caddies which we found to be helpful. At first we were hesitant but then settled into having some course knowledge to help throughout the round. Take some cash for the tip if you use the service. After golf and a quick shower at aboard the ship we went over to the Malecon and had lunch at Bubba Gump's right on the water. Nice meal, but not much different from any other Bubba Gump's (the kid loves his bucket of trash). The weather really took a turn for the worse while we were eating as the skies opened and the rain was coming down hard. We decided not to walk around and get soaked so we just headed back to the ship. Last Day: Debarking was as quick and painless as could be. We hadn't been on a cruise for about 10 years and this process is one that has definitely improved. We remembered the hassle of getting up and having to be out of the room early in the morning so were surprised to see that we had access to our cabin until our 9:30-9:45 scheduled departure. Paperwork stated that we would have to go the Savoy theater to hear announcements, but we sat at the Schooner bar just outside the Savoy and watched the TV screen which constantly updated with groups to depart. Around 9:15 a crewmember came to the bar area and said we were all clear to leave regardless of group color. We quickly exited off the ship and into the port building, expecting a mess of bags to sort through. We found our bags very quickly and were off to meet family who were picking us up at the port. Our cruise vacation was officially finished. Overall it was a great relaxing experience for the week. • No airline hassles (from southern California made this a positive) • Food was good (nothing spectacular, but then try cooking for 3000 people and see how well you do) • No dishes to clean • Beautiful view off our aft balcony (definite plus as the wind was brisk the last 2 sea days) Any questions please feel free to ask and I will be happy to answer what I can Read Less
Sail Date July 2010
I booked this cruise for myself and 19 year old daughter after sailing on the Mariner Sept 2009 with my husband. After having such a great time on the first Mariner cruise, I just knew my daughter would love it. She has sailed 3 other ... Read More
I booked this cruise for myself and 19 year old daughter after sailing on the Mariner Sept 2009 with my husband. After having such a great time on the first Mariner cruise, I just knew my daughter would love it. She has sailed 3 other times on RC and once prior on Princess. I have cruised on almost all of the mass market lines and this was my 6th RC. This sailing was July 18-25. We flew from Phoenix and stayed in Long Beach at the Avia hotel for the night prior to our cruise. The hotel is in a great location with a great staff and comfy rooms. The concierge arranged airport/pier transportation with a local company at an additional cost. Very nice service. After checking our bags at the hotel we toured the nearby waterfront of Long Beach, had lunch and visited the Aquarium of the Pacific. It was crowded but we enjoyed the exhibits. This was all within walking distance of the hotel. We had the transportation company reserved to pick us up at 11am the driver was there promptly to drive us to the pier. We quickly got a porter and were off to check-in. The Platinum check in line was empty and we quickly proceeded to the ship. We grabbed a bite to eat in the Windjammer and toured the huge Mariner of the Seas. Our room was ready at exactly 1pm. Prior to leaving home I purchased some chocolate covered strawberries and they were in the room waiting for us! Very nice. Our cabin was kept clean and well stocked throughout the week. We had a deck 7 balcony toward the aft of the ship. There was plenty of room for all of our stuff and the suitcases fit under our beds with room to spare. The bathroom was small but efficient and the shower had a door. No floaty/sticky shower curtain. Yippee! The Mariner is a beautiful ship with many venues to suit your needs. The bars were plentiful with nice seating. The Cafe Promenade is open 24 hrs and was nice for early birds, like me, to get coffee and tea. We picked MTD and it was a perfect fit. After visiting the maitre'd we were seated in a great area by a window. We stopped by each day to arrange a dining time and were always immediately seated at the appointed time. The maitre'd's name was Rock and he always remembered our names. The food was okay, nothing really spectacular but we were pleased. We didn't attend any of the big production or ice shows. We did go to Love and Marriage, Name that Tune and the Quest. All of those were great and Quest was outrageous. The Cruise director was Casey Pelter and he was very very funny. There was a crew vs. guests' dodge ball game that was hysterical. My daughter was old enough to gamble and had beginner's luck at the roulette table and the slots. She managed to come out with more than she put in. In Cabo, we arrived to a very hot and sunny day. We prearranged a private sailboat tour and had a wonderful day sailing around the arches. Mazatlan and Puerto Vallarta were just shopping days for us. On the sea days returning we even saw a whale from the ship. Disembarkation went very well. We were called at our appointed time and were off the ship within minutes. In summary this was one of my most favorite cruises. The Mariner is a picturesque ship with many amenities that appeal to various age groups. There are so many activities planned and there was always something to do. The food was good and the service was outstanding. I have already booked this ship again for Dec 2010. Read Less
Sail Date July 2010
We have cruised twice on Princess and were very happy with both those trips. We booked Royal Caribbean's Mariner of the Seas because we wanted a warm weather cruise to celebrate our son's graduation from high school. Our choices ... Read More
We have cruised twice on Princess and were very happy with both those trips. We booked Royal Caribbean's Mariner of the Seas because we wanted a warm weather cruise to celebrate our son's graduation from high school. Our choices for a West Coast warm weather cruise were only Carnival and RCCL. RCCL seemed the better choice for a family cruise and we were not disappointed. Pre-cruise: We flew into Long Beach from Portland via JetBlue on Saturday the 12th. It was an easy flight and a short cab ride ($23 negotiated rate) from the Long Beach airport to the Hyatt Hotel. We had an early flight and were there by 10:30 a.m. They allowed us to check in early, which was really nice. The Hyatt is on the harbor across the street from Shoreline Village. We had a huge lunch at the Yard Arm, took pictures of the Queen Mary, poked through the shops, spent some time at the pool and then ate dinner at PF Changs across the street; all in all, very nice. The Hyatt is a little on the spendy side but I would definitely do it again. Embarkation: We timed our arrival at the cruise terminal for right around noon. Again, an easy cab ride from downtown Long Beach. We found a porter immediately and shifted off our bags to be seen later. I was walking with a cane due to an unfortunate incident of clumsiness involving our stairs which resulted in a very badly sprained ankle. We were not thinking of taking advantage of assisted boarding, but a RCCL employee directed us to that check-in desk. Again, a very fast process and we were on the elevator and in line to board. Lines were short, we were photographed for our SeaPass cards, had our obligatory ship photo and walked onto the Deck 4 level of the Promenade. The look on our kids' faces was priceless, and they should have been awed. The Mariner is a lovely ship and the three level Promenade is very impressive. Cabin: We had two cabins on Deck 9 - mid-ship. My husband and I had a Junior Suite and the kids were in an Inside cabin directly across the hall. First, points to Royal over Princess on the Junior Suite - I haven't compared the square footage, but the overall layout made the cabin seem much larger than our Junior Suite on the Golden Princess. There was a lot of storage and a very nice walk-in closet. The bathroom was small but efficient with some storage in the mirrored medicine cabinet. One minus was the lack of an accessible outlet, there were two on the vanity in the main part of the cabin. The basic toiletries were provided (lotion, shampoo, conditioner, soap) plus there was a soap dispenser on the wall in the shower. I didn't like having to fight the shower curtain however. For us, and this is a purely personal preference, we preferred the open balcony on Princess. The balcony on the Mariner was fully covered and narrow. It felt a little closed in - not that the size or covering interfered at all with our enjoyment, we just preferred the more open feeling on the Princess balconies. The Inside cabin seemed efficiently laid out with enough storage for both kids' things. They loved that it was so dark - made it easier to sleep until noon. The Ship: The Mariner of the Seas is an absolutely lovely ship. The finishes are gorgeous and as I said the Promenade is very impressive. That being said, I think we preferred Princess just slightly as their Promenade levels feel a little more open to the ocean, there are more windows with views outside and the actual Promenade exterior deck seems to be more conducive to walking around the ship. Again, this is purely a personal preference and not to say that the Mariner is superior or inferior to the two Princess ships we have been on. I will have to give points to Princess for the pool situation. The two smaller salt-water pools on the Mariner were always crowded and there didn't seem to be a pool where one could get away from the hustle and bustle, other than the Solarium which also was very small. On the Golden and Sapphire Princess there are two large pools, one that can be covered in inclement weather, their version of the Solarium plus the wonderfully quiet aft pool. Princess also gets a point for better lounge chairs. Checking out the towels was a minimal hassle, but it was nice on Princess to just have clean pool towels left in your cabin. Maybe this was just me being directionally challenged, but I was constantly confused as to whether I was aft or forward, port or starboard when I was trying to make my way back to our cabins. Princess has one color carpet for port and one for starboard which helps eliminate that confusion. I finally did kind of get it down and knew if I walked past the "hot wheel" cars on the wall I was going the right way. As on any ship we've been on, it didn't take us long to find our "spots" and on the Mariner it was the Skybar on Deck 12, where Elmer and Dennis made life fun. What great representatives for RCCL! It was also a good spot to watch the action around the pool and see if we could catch a glimpse of our kids who were so busy we almost never saw them! Our other favorite haunt was Vintages. We wandered in there one evening for a pre-dinner glass of wine and Emmanuel gave us a tasting and lesson on some of the wines available. He was a delight as was Amale (I think) who was from South Africa and their compatriot from the Philippines whose name I have lost. They were all so very friendly, funny and gracious. After the first couple of days as soon as we sat down they poured our wine of choice and out came a small plate of cheese and grapes, such a nice touch. Several nights we stopped there on our way to dinner and picked up a bottle of wine to have with our meal. On the last night they conducted a wine tasting that was very well done and informative. One evening we wandered up to Deck 14 and Ellingtons which has a lovely view over the pools facing forward. Unfortunately, there is also a very annoying vibration which makes it quite unpleasant to linger for long. Too bad, it could have been quite the spot for that final nightcap. Dining: We opted for My Time Dining and had a standing reservation in the Sound of Music dining room for 7:15 p.m. The only night we had to wait at all - and then only for about 10 minutes was the second formal night. We had the same two servers, Vivian and Benhuer 5 out of the 7 nights and they were absolutely wonderful. RCCL outscores Princess in the actual physical layout of their dining rooms. What a beautiful space, so large and airy. We were fortunate to be seated in a section very close to the floor to ceiling windows and a couple of nights, right next to those windows. It really made for a special atmosphere. Most mornings we used room service or the Promenade Cafe for breakfast and Windjammer for lunch. I have to give points to RCCL over Princess on their buffet restaurant. The layout seemed better than the Horizon Court on Princess, the choices more varied and the service better. We are not big fans of buffets in any setting but did use this for lunch most days. One afternoon we met up with the kids at Johnny Rockets and that was a hoot! I don't think I would do it more than once, I mean, how many times can you listen to Stayin Alive (even if you are from that era). The food quality overall was fine, there wasn't one thing that I found outstanding but other than the lamb one night - everything was fine to good, and the lamb was more my fault - just didn't care for the taste - than the dining rooms. For those that are interested, soft-serve ice cream was available in the afternoons and as indicated in other reviews, sandwiches, pastries and pizza (I have to give points to Princess on the pizza - it is much better) was available throughout the day at the Promenade Cafe. Two mornings we had breakfast in the dining room and it was good. My husband especially liked the Salmon Benedict. Oh and RCCL really outscores Princess on the coffee - very good, unlike that horrid stuff they serve on Princess. Service: RCCL and the Mariner outscore Princess and both ships we have been on with them. From the moment we boarded until we left the ship, the service was outstanding to absolutely stellar! Bar staff, serving staff, waiters, guest services - everyone we met was friendly, professional and all about making sure we were having a great cruise. Setho was our cabin steward and he was good and professional. We did get a couple of towel animals (our first!) and they were cute. Having them would not be a make it/break it for us on a cruise - but they did bring a smile to our faces when we came back from dinner. Excursions: We had two excursions booked, one independently and one through RCCL. In Mazatlan we booked Randi's Happy Horses which had come highly recommended through these boards. It was by far our favorite excursion/time on the whole cruise. Stone Island has a beautiful beach that goes on forever, Randi's staff is friendly and competent and Randi herself is quite the character, warm, funny and full of interesting stories. We had a great ride and wonderfully relaxing lunch at Victor's afterward. I add my high recommendation for her to the others that have been put forward. We debated long and hard about whether to swim with the dolphins in Cabo or in Puerto Vallarta. Because my husband and I had done this excursion through Princess at Vallarta Adventures last December and had such a tremendous time, we opted to repeat it this time with our kids. What an absolute disappointment. Even though much of the staff was the same it was certainly not the same experience. There was a lot of waiting around, the "intro" was all about getting us to be "revved up" and not at all informative. When we finally got into the water, instead of being allowed to bob around and have the dolphins swim around us (which we were able to do in December). It was very much, line up, OK - now it is your turn to get the photo-op dolphin kiss, hug, dance. OK - line up again, now you get to be pulled by the dolphin, OK line up - now the dolphins are going to give you a show. OK - now get out of the water. You never got the sense of what wonderful creatures these are, instead it was a feeling of being herded along and then sold over-priced pictures. Too bad, really too bad and doubly disappointing because it is so expensive. Passenger Mix: There was every age level and everything from strollers to scooters on board. There were a lot of kids, but that is too be expected as it was a summer cruise. They didn't seem to be a problem and we never experienced any of the horror stories I've read about. The only time the kid factor felt a little overwhelming was at the pool on sea days. My son was old enough not to be in the "teen programs" but did attend a couple of 18-20 year old functions in the Dragon's Lair. He rapidly found a group of like-minded/like-aged young people and we only saw him around the pool or at dinner. My 14 year old daughter also found a group and they spent their time hanging in the Living Room or in the hot tubs. We never saw her either....so, it might not have been quite the family bonding cruise I envisioned but they had a great time. Disembarkation: We had a noon flight out of Long Beach so I requested to be one of the first groups off. We reported to the Savoy Theater about 8:30 and were at the airport by 9:45 a.m. It was very, very smooth and the RCCL staff did another great job. The only problem we encountered was trying to flag down a porter for our luggage, they were all getting snagged before we could get to them, so we just schlepped our bags through customs ourselves and found a cab immediately. Well done RCCL. Final Thoughts: I know I haven't addressed the shows or the cruise director staff, but those are not things we tend to utilize on a cruise. The Casino was fine, we won some and then lost it back. It didn't seem too smoky, but being married to a smoker I don't really notice unless the smoke is really bad. It was a great cruise and the Mariner is a beautiful ship. That being said, I think we would still tend toward Princess and the most overwhelming reason is our feeling that you are somehow more connected to the ocean on their ships. Also, the Mariner was just a little too big for us. The other negative with RCCL is their alcohol policy. Not even so much that we couldn't take on our own wine, like we can on Princess, but how hard they made it have wine/drinks in our cabin. We cruise for our balcony, it is that simple and we like to sit out there and have a drink or two (or three). On Princess we can order (and pay for) a bar set-up for our cabin anytime and as many times as we would like. Wine is easily accessible from room service. Now, it isn't a big deal to have to leave the cabin and go up or down to order a Vodka Tonic from one of the bars, or go down to Vintages and get a couple of pre-dinner/getting ready glasses of wine - but being able to have that in your room without having to go out is much more convenient. Would we consider an RCCL cruise again if the price and itinerary were right - absolutely, but I don't think it will be our first choice, but isn't that the great thing about cruising there is a line, an itinerary, a cabin and activities for everybody. Read Less
Sail Date June 2010
Let me begin by saying that I am a Diamond member and have sailed, almost exclusively with Royal Caribbean. This was our first cruise on the Mariner, and to the Mexican Riviera. The rest of our cruises have been in the Caribbean, including ... Read More
Let me begin by saying that I am a Diamond member and have sailed, almost exclusively with Royal Caribbean. This was our first cruise on the Mariner, and to the Mexican Riviera. The rest of our cruises have been in the Caribbean, including a nice cruise to the Panama Canal. A few observations and words of advise to others taking this cruise/route for the first time: WEATHER--so, to be honest--I read many reviews about the sea days being cold, but attributed that to the time of year--most of the reviews I was reading were cruises in March and April. I have cruised in the Caribbean in March and April, and sea days can be "cool". We were scheduled to cruise at the end of June on Mariner, so I packed a "light" sweatshirt in anticipation of maybe a 70-75 degree sea day.....I was hardly prepared....60's and WINDY for the first sea day, second sea day started in the upper 70's but dropped to the 60's by afternoon, last sea day was cloudy and in the 50's. There was literally no one on outer decks. If you are a sun worshiper looking for warm weather for 7 days, this is not the cruise for you. Even the Solarium was cold--spent $120 on heavy sweatshirts at the gift shop. Live and learn. I did have a conversation with one of the waiters, and he said sea days are almost always cold on this cruise, regardless of time of year. Hmmmm, wish I had known that, since I live in Chicago, and I prefer to take vacations to warm climates. Hence the reason I have not yet done an Alaskan Cruise.... EMBARKATION/DEBARKATION-I have always found this to be quick and painless on Royal Caribbean. Have always boarded early. Waited awhile for luggage though this time. We have early seating and have almost always had our bags before dinner. Not this time, but that actually forced me to attend the sail away party, instead of unpacking first!!! SERVICE-I have always found the service to be very good on RCCL. Although it is apparent over the years that cost cutting measures have impacted the quality of service. Alot of the dining waitstaff and cabin attendants seemed very rushed (and perhaps overworked). Exception to this was the bar service, and in particular the pool area. Seemed they had about 20 waiters on decks at any given time (with the exception of the last sea day ;o( --the sole pool bartender was wearing a parka and ski cap!) Speaking of the pool, don't forget to turn in your pool towels, or they will wind up on your ship charge, and you will have to wait in a very long line on disembarkation day trying to get the charges reversed. I wish they would just go back to the old gold towels and the honor system of returning them. Now the towels have a RCCL logo, but they are certainly not worth $20 each.... As my husband and I are Diamond members, we have always enjoyed access to the concierge club, although we rarely used it for anything other than getting a cup of coffee in the morning. This is now restrcited to Diamond Plus and Suite members. Not a big deal, but it would seem they have moved to a system of rewarding those who spend more rather than based on a loyalty system. PORTS-Only did one excursion in Puerto Vallarta. The Dolphin Encounter. while it was expensive, it was an amazing experience! My ten year old daughter is still talking about it. As always tours are well organized through RCCL, and transportation is efficient. In closing, we enjoyed this cruise, primarily because we traveled with a large group of great friends, however we didn't enjoy the drastic climate changes on this cruise. Back the the Caribbean for us next time!!!! Read Less
Sail Date June 2010
We were four couples, family and friends, who all booked the cruise through Best Price Cruises, which worked very well. Great prices and very nice extras. We consisted of a Gold Crown & Anchor couple (3 cruises), a couple with two ... Read More
We were four couples, family and friends, who all booked the cruise through Best Price Cruises, which worked very well. Great prices and very nice extras. We consisted of a Gold Crown & Anchor couple (3 cruises), a couple with two prior cruises but none with RCI, one first timer couple, and myself and my wife, Platinum Crown & Anchor members (6 cruises, all with RCI). Most of us arrived in LA the morning of the cruise from SLC, and the first timers from Alb, NMex. One couple went to LA the day before. I normally always insist on never traveling on the day a cruise leaves, but we were so close and lots of flights available, so 3 of the 4 took the chance. But it is always a risk, and my general recommendation is always get there at least one day before, and more if you'd like to explore the port city. EMBARKATION: In a word, easy, as has been my experience with RCI. We got to the pier about 10:30 and got checked in a couple minutes, but no one could board until about 11:30. There was a separate waiting area for Platinum & Diamond C&A but we chose to stay with our friends. Could not even go into the passage ways to the cabin area until 1 PM, so spent some time in the Windjammer with an early lunch and then just exploring the ship. CABIN: Can't recall the exact category but we had a deluxe outside cabin w/balcony. Which for us was a departure from normal. I usually just get an inside cabin, as I'm only there for sleeping and changing clothes, but our travel agent got us a great deal and only end up costing less than $100 ea to upgrade from inside to the balcony. Would have like to open the connection between the two cabins on the balcony, where Barb's brother and wife were, but steward supervisor said couldn't be done. Didn't really use the balcony that much, which supports my normal idea of just getting a less expensive cabin, unless you're doing a Panama Canal or Alaska trip or one with lots of scenery. Cabin steward, Bobbie, did the usual excellent job, beds very comfortable, clean room, pretty much what we have come to expect from RCI. No complaints here at all. ENTERTAINMENT: Staff was excellent. Didn't go to many of the shows, but the Love & Marriage show was great as always (Like The Newlywed Game), and one late night show with Two Funny Guys was excellent. The triva games were varied and lots of fun, lounge singers were likewise excellent. Ice Show was good if you like ice shows, which isn't my cup of tea, but did have some great skaers and some excellent parts. DINING: We chose My Time dining, and I will tell you, that worked great!! You can basically go to ear dinner anytime between 5:45 and around 9:00 PM. You can make a reservation for the same time each night and get the same table, or just show up whenever it is convenient each time. A great addition to the RCI cruises!! One thing, you are required to pay the gratuities in advance or put them on your SeaPass when you select that option, and there are only so many slots for that option, so decide quickly when you plan the cruise. Food was as usual, very good, nice choices, great wait staff, no real complaints. One night one of the steaks wasn't quite up to par. BAM, replaced and taken care of immediately, as you'd expect. SPECIALTY RESTAURANTS: We also ate one night in Portofino's. I have eaten there before and loved it and this time was no exception. Well worth the $20 add on fee. A word of advice, you can book reservations on line in advance for both specialty restaurants on RCI. Do it!! Not absolutely necessary, but helps especially if you have a larger than 6 party. Didn't visit Chopps Grill but in the main dining room there is a choice every night of a filet you can get from Chopps, for $14.95. I had that one night, and it was a great steak. We also ate one night at Johnny Rockets, the 50 style diner. A $4.95 cover charge covers the food, but not drinks, but you can use your drink card if you bought one. Pretty much what you'd expect, burgers, shakes, fries, rings. Good, but not something to write home about. Did do some dancing in the aisles with the waiters, so it was a fun night. Ate many snakes at the Cafe Promenade, where you can get pizza, all kinds of desserts and pastries, and Penni's, and it is right next to Ben & Jerry's and Seattle's Best Coffee, which are both extra pay items, but not too expensive. Ordered room service breakfast one day. Arrived on time, and hot, but not as ordered, but I didn't make any noise about it. WEATHER: This was a big disappointment on this cruise. Had a total of 3 sea days, and all but part of the first one when we left LA were overcast and one on the way back was down right unpleasant, temp only around 58 or so and strong winds. So spent very little time laying in the sun by the pool. Did use the hot tubs in the Solarium, which is a great spot, adults only. Weather is always a crap shoot but didn't expect this in June in this area. So everyone stayed inside a lot and played all the trivia games, watched World Cup Soccer and NBA finals games. Plus lots of consumption of beverages, of course. Also this was the first time I had felt much motion from the ship at all. Going back north, the current and wind both were cutting across the ship and there was a bit of rocking for two days straight getting back to LA. After a while, a little uncomfortable, but not terrible. Crew said this was normal around this time of year. PORTS: Actually we had some decent weather in all three ports, Cabo San Lucas, Mazatlan, and Puerto Vallarta. We didn't sign up for any excursions on board. Did mostly what the ship tells you not to do, and used vendors from the pier area, but turned out real well. Took a small "glass bottom" boat out to a place I think is called Lands End in Cabo, in seas that were about 9-10 ft. Sounds scary but was actually kind of fun. Saw sea lions and great scenery for about $7 ea. Went to a resort in Mazatlan and spent time on the beach. One problem, vendors. Wow, in your face every 2 minutes with the same 9 or 10 items. One lady did the para sailing for $40, which she said was great. Took off and landed on the beach. Took a local open air cab back to the ship and the driver, who again turned out to be a great guy, gave us a tour and took us to some great places for photos, and made the day turn out to be fun, despite the less than great time on the beach. In Puerto, we took one of the many vendors all offering the same thing, a tour around the city. After rejecting many, found one guy who seemed a little different, not too pushy, and clean cut. Again we had a great time. Bargined the price from $25 ea down to $15 ea. Took us all over, to a tequila factory, some up scale homes, even to a out of the way, beautiful cafe near a spot where a zip line tour ends. Said he's pay if we didn't like the food. No problem. Waiter brought out a huge tarantula about half way through lunch. One of the ladies held it and then he wanted to put it on her head. She was rather scared, but agreed, and I got a great photo. It was obviously very tame and docile, but still a big spider!! DISEMBARCATION: The usual colored tag routine, with various waiting spots, but very orderly and very quick. No hassle finding your bags once you left, and you could have chosen the option to keep your bags with you not putting them in the hallway the night before, and be among the first to depart the ship. Also Platinum and Diamond C&A had their own departure lounge, complete with food, and also got to be among the first to leave. We all just waited til all our colors had been called, then strolled off, taking less than about 15 minutes tops to get outside to the curb and transportation. OVERALL THOUGHTS: I am obviously a loyal RCI cruiser, and while this wasn't a great cruise, due to the weather and conditions no one can control, we still had a great time. Hard to not have a good time on most any cruise. I had been to Mexico many times, but never to the Pacific side, so thought this would be a good addition. Now that I have, probably wouldn't go again, especially since RCI is leaving this itinerary starting next Jan. But if you've never been to these cities, it is a fun time, and the prices were very good. Read Less
Sail Date June 2010
Overall review My husband and I wanted to do a trip to Napa, sadly none of our friends were able to make it, so I introduced the idea of adding on a cruise and going by ourselves. The Mexican Riviera was the destination of choice as we ... Read More
Overall review My husband and I wanted to do a trip to Napa, sadly none of our friends were able to make it, so I introduced the idea of adding on a cruise and going by ourselves. The Mexican Riviera was the destination of choice as we have no real interest in Alaska. Geography was not a factor in this decision - as San Francisco (Napa) is pretty far from LA. But, we made it work and got too fit two vacations in one. We flew into LAX and took the Super Shuttle to our hotel, the Crowne Plaza in San Pedro. The shuttle was fine, but the van we were in was so dirty. DH knew I was not impressed. Happily, unlike the other couple in the van (who were pretty frustrated), we did not have to wait for additional passengers, so it was convenient and pretty fast. The Crowne Plaza was nice and well located - we won a $70 bid on Priceline. We took advantage of their self serve laundry and did one load - saved a bit on packing considering it was a long trip! Dinner that night was at Nico's Pizzeria - excellent food. We left on the first free shuttle to the pier. Got in line, checked in and then waited for our boarding number (#1) to be called. Not more than 30 minutes. We got on, had our picture taken, and headed to the Windjammer for lunch. We were early, so we found a table and enjoyed our first cruise meal. After we were done we went to the solarium, found chairs in the shade to read for a while, we also jumped in the hot tub and pool before heading to our room. We waited for the rush to die down and made our way to deck #7, room 7644. I booked a balcony cabin and got a great rate. The room was what we expected - more than enough room, adequate storage, well kept up (though we barely saw our steward for the week), love the shower door - no curtain to rub up against you! This was the first cruise I have felt we did not use our balcony enough. Yes, we sat there, but our sea days were so cool (I had read about it, but was somehow still surprised at how uncomfortable the wind made the last two sea days) and our port days so humid, that I barely wanted to be out there. I may have to rethink my stance on balconies for future cruises. It is nice to get rid of any carryon bags and then go explore the ship. This is the first ship that had the Royal Promenade. It is beautiful, but I often wondered about the location of certain bars and the lack of windows. Most were blocked by lifeboats (I know, they are a necessity) and it took away from the experience to have no view - specifically the champagne bar, which was my favorite place on the Brilliance. We did enjoy Vintages on a couple of occasions. The cheese and fruit plate is great to pair with the wine. I was also not impressed by the cafe. I had read wonderful reviews of the food, but I found it so-so. The pizza was fine, the cookies were great when they were fresh - but were often stale, and they put condiments on the sandwiches which made them basically inedible to me. Our favorite bar was Ellington's - spectacular view over the pool area and the ocean. Great for a sail-a-way or pre-dinner drink. We did enjoy a couple of the production shows - DH was amazed that we made it to more than one show. Plus, a few games of trivia. We also enjoyed the art auctions - I know feelings are very mixed on these, but we like them and usually purchase some pieces. This trip was not an exception and I expect a very large package in a few weeks. We also spent some time in the casino and probably broke even at the craps table. I made it to the gym a time or two, certainly not enough! It was fine, but small, especially the free weight area. I did not use the spa. I have aestheticians at home that are exceptional, so I just scheduled appointments at home for my return! I did try to go to a few seminars, but found that the times in the compass and the actual times were not the same. No big loss, but how hard is it to get the compass accurate? We choose My Time Dining - much prefer this option to a set time. While I miss meeting other passengers at meals (a highlight on our first cruise), I want to eat when I am hungry, not when I am told to. We only waited for a table the last night and that was because we had the same waiter and assistant waiter all week and were willing to wait for a table in their section. They were exceptional - they brought us more food than we could ever eat and we felt very pampered. The head waiter was also the best we have seen - not just stopping by on the last night for a tip, but a visible presence every night. Overall, I enjoyed the food. One night I was not thrilled, but so be it, I did not starve! The Windjammer food was always good and plentiful. We ate most breakfast and lunch meals there - one breakfast in the MDR - the only rude service of the whole trip - and we saw no need to go back. The sushi at Jade in the evenings was great, I wish it had opened earlier than 6:30, as it would have made a great late afternoon snack with a cocktail, but the hours tended to conflict with dinner. We did not eat in any of the specialty restaurants. The food in the MDR more than met our needs. Sadly, they always do make you leave. We had an LA excursion booked, so we met in the theater and simply followed the directions to leave the boat. Overall, we were very happy with our cruise (my very favorite type of vacation) and the itinerary. I am not sure I would ever choose to sail the west coast again, the weather on sea days is a big deterrent and it is a much longer flight than to Florida. I liked the ship and would happily sail this class again. Excursion reviews: Cabo San Lucas (tender port) - Chileno Bay Snorkeling Adventure We love to snorkel and knew it would be a part of this vacation, after some research we choose to stick with RCI, as Cabo is a tender port and we wanted to be "taken care of" and not worry. We still got off the ship as quickly as possible to walk to the Hard Rock Cafe for DH's souvenir glass (we choose margarita as it seemed so appropriate to the destination). It was a good 15 minute walk both ways and it was hot. The bad part - both ways we were constantly harassed by vendors. We kept walking with a polite no, but wow! Even after we met up with the tour and were walking (as a group, clearly part of a tour) to the catamaran, we were being harassed by vendors. We got on the catamaran and it became perfect. There were lots of fish to see at the snorkeling site. The crew on the boat was super friendly and accommodating. After getting out of the water they offer snacks and drinks (alcoholic and non alcoholic), they tasted great and the margaritas pack a punch! Mazatlan - Mazatlan Frank - All Day City Tour This was a great tour. We were the only people he had booked that day (another couple cancelled). Great personalized attention and he is so informative. First we went to the cathedral - pretty outside, great story about the Star of David in the stained glass windows to honor the Jewish family that donated money to build the cathedral. It was stunning inside, definitely worth a stop to walk through. Saw a cliff diver - awesome sight, but clearly those who do it are braver (crazier) than I am! He drove us around old town and then gave us a walking tour. We bought a mask at a leather shop and an ice cream bar from the artist (his new business) and we toured the restored theater. We then drove to the Golden Zone and did some shopping. Then off to lunch at Tony's on the Beach - great food at a great location! Best shrimp I have ever eaten. After lunch we drove the El Cid residential area and them on to the newer resorts being built. A great tour overall. Frank is so pleasant and knowledgeable. Puerto Vallarta - Sierra Madre Hiking Exploration We wanted to do some type of active excursion and this one seemed to be interesting and left us with much of the day to do other things if we choose to. It took about 4 hours, only about 10 other passengers, with an informative drive on the way there. It was fun and HOT! It includes bottled water and a snack (small quesadilla, chips w/salsa & guacamole) which was very welcome when we were done - plus a menu you could order from for extra. There is a zip line there. I have NO interest in that, DH considered it, but decided not to do it. I think for those taking the tour it cost $60. They end with a tequila tasting. Informative and good, but I prefer my tequila in a margarita, not straight! Los Angeles - Sunseeker Hollywood Tour We had a red eye flight home that night which left us with way too many hours in port! We booked this tour to see part of the city, take up some time, and get us to the airport. The tour part was nice - we saw Olvera Street (great churro), the guide pointed out may sights along the way to Hollywood where we walked around for about 45 minutes. Cool to see! Sadly our camera battery had died so no photos! Then back in the bus to the Farmer's Market for lunch and shopping for about an hour. We then were driven to the airport and dropped off based on airline. The only complaint: no communication. The buses were late, so we are standing around in a group not entirely sure what to do. When the buses arrived there are no instructions, but if you move they yell at you to go back where you were. Thankfully we were not on the bus with the guide who kept barking orders, as I was far from pleased with his customer service and annoyed that RCI was not doing a better job with their end of this excursion. And I had two other excursions with them on this cruise that met and exceeded my expectations. Read Less
Sail Date June 2010
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