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114 Royal Caribbean Mexican Riviera Cruise Reviews

Overall we had a great time. The ship, Liberty of the Seas, is beautiful, clean, fun. Never boring. Food was acceptable, not super, but not terrible, you won't go hungry. Coffee was awful. They have Illy coffee shop on promenade, very ... Read More
Overall we had a great time. The ship, Liberty of the Seas, is beautiful, clean, fun. Never boring. Food was acceptable, not super, but not terrible, you won't go hungry. Coffee was awful. They have Illy coffee shop on promenade, very expensive, but definitely better coffee. Kind of cruel and unfair to serve people garbage coffee ao that they would be forced to buy expensive coffee. Terrific low fat yogurt by the pool, a hit with all ages. Service in windjammer and dining room is friendly and prompt. Despite large crowds the ship was kept very neat. Our cabins were on promenade, sevenths deck, midship. The RCL person who booked me, assured me the rooms were sound proof and there was no loud actives on promenade after 10 pm. She lied big time, all the parade and disco parties just begin after 10pm, and the noise from disco was unbearable, even with ear plugs. If you like quiet, promenade rooms may not be a good choice. The cabins were in great condition, clean, pleasant decor, pillows were hard, but the beds, sheets and comforter were very comfortable. Our attendant Gabriel was amazing, very sweet and helpful. Pool areas were beautiful, i love that they have several small and medium pools. Movies by the pool are a great idea, but their sound system is imperfect, we could barely understand what was being said. Lots of fun activities. I would love to go back, but maybe on the ship with starbucks on it(like Allure of the seas). Read Less
Sail Date April 2015
I am beginning to notice some defeciencies that Royal Caribbean will need to address. I still like their mission, at least I think their mission is to provide value to the adult cruiser. Terminal 1 at Port Canaveral is enormous, and there ... Read More
I am beginning to notice some defeciencies that Royal Caribbean will need to address. I still like their mission, at least I think their mission is to provide value to the adult cruiser. Terminal 1 at Port Canaveral is enormous, and there seem to be some growing pains associated with passenger drop off. Some experience there should help. However, the worst thing abou this cruise was the last thing we encountered. That is self assist disembarkation. It was a shambles. I suspect far more passengers elected this route (for a number of reasons) and the staff was simply not prepared for it. I must also say some passengers had far more gear than they could handle in resonable circumstances. This didn't help. Assembly points were changed without prior notice and there were about 1000 passengers all trying their best to get to where they were directed. It was a dire mess. Portifino's was very good. The upcharge was worth it if you long for a better dining experience. The food was of higher quality, the preparation was better and the service was ample. The main dining room seems to have more and more Sysco suplied food items like chicken cordon blue. It was poor supermarket quality and should not have been on the menu. Many appetizers arrived at room temperature when they should have been hot or cold. I know serving a couple thousand people at a time is difficult, but this needs improvement. The staff is good. They all work hard to serve the passengers. Some additional training may help. For eample, the becks are hosed down each night. But the chairs are not wiped off. Some chairs hold a substantial amount of water. Towels are plentiful, but the passengers should not need to clean off the deck chaises each morning. The shows are good and the liquor is, well, expensive. Read Less
Sail Date January 2015
Departed Nov 16th for the 7 night cruise, This was the one with the Roatan Honduras, Playa Maya and Cozumel itinerary. Embarkation and parking was a nightmare, worst I have ever seen. Clearly boarding 2 ships is more that Galveston can ... Read More
Departed Nov 16th for the 7 night cruise, This was the one with the Roatan Honduras, Playa Maya and Cozumel itinerary. Embarkation and parking was a nightmare, worst I have ever seen. Clearly boarding 2 ships is more that Galveston can handle. I used port parking and I had prepaid but it was still a traffic jam. I suggest using an off site parking lot, that transports you to the pier, they can get you in and out faster than the port lot. It was raining and we had to stand out in the rain waiting for a shuttle to take us to the ship. Once onboard the ship was nice, and the staff and passengers were friendly, but clearly RCI has cut back on crew and wait staff, getting a drink when we got onboard was impossible and we couldn't find a seat in the windjammer.. We booked this cruise only 1 week before sailing and since its only a 9 hour drive we set out Saturday drove to Houston and got at the port at noon on Sunday. We got our cruise for $298.00 each and had an outside room on Deck 3, We usually have a balcony room but for the price we thought we would "rough" it. The stateroom was of normal size, and layout and actually very convenient. Cant complain about the room or price. This was my first time out of Galveston but I have noticed the price of these cruises are very affordable. This was also my first time to use " my time dining", and I found it very convenient. we had the same waiter every night and seemed to get faster service than those with an assigned time. The food was good but nothing special for a cruise. Windjammer always very busy, and we dined one night in Chops, it was great but had to spring for another 30 bucks each. I would generally say food was a little below what I expected. My wife enjoyed a spa day, I visited the steam room daily, unfortunately it rained on our sea days and only had 2 generally nice days all week, Cant blame that on the cruise, but I heard those who bought balcony rooms complain they couldn't even go out (guess it made my cheap room an even better value.) We did have some extremely good staff at the Boleros Tequila Bar. The cruise directors staff were nice but not out of the ordinary and the entertainment below normal, the special entertainment was better than the onboard folks. Special mention does however go to the Ice Skating crew for a great show. The singer in Schooner bar was so bad I couldn't stand to get a drink there. Decent shopping, nice ship, but nothing special (except Boleros bar and ice skating)!   Read Less
Sail Date November 2014
Been on a few cruise with my kids and Jewel was just average. Not RCCL's most up to date ship with a very small pool area (and pool), and next to no deck chairs available if you don't reserve one before 08:30. Do this even ... Read More
Been on a few cruise with my kids and Jewel was just average. Not RCCL's most up to date ship with a very small pool area (and pool), and next to no deck chairs available if you don't reserve one before 08:30. Do this even though they say reserving is not allowed. Nobody pays attention. Unfortunately no pool side BBQ's, you have to hike somewhere to find food and bring it back to your deck chair. While the service and entertainment was great as per RCCL's standards, I found that family activities were sadly lacking. Parties in the bars were the main focus as this is a revenue generator for RCCL. Food on board was only average. While at the pool area on day 2, was sitting in the jacuzzi talking the previous nights dinner and most seemed to agree the prime rib didn't really taste like beef!!!!! While I would do RCCL again, I would steer clear from the smaller ships and go to the newer ones such as Oasis. They do tend to nickel and dime you as well. You must buy the soft drink package for the kids (free on Disney) and ship board drinks are extremely expensive, so smuggle if you can!!!! Disney allows you to bring a bottle or 2 of booze without smuggling, they just ask that put it in your checked baggage. They won't make you feel like a criminal and you won't get surprised by a two ton bar tab at the end of your trip!!! Happy cruising. Read Less
Sail Date March 2012
Our group of 4 drove to Tampa from New Orleans. Looking back we should have flown but we still enjoyed the drive over. Finding the terminal was a bit challenging. For some strange reason Terminal 2 has quite a large sign. So here we are ... Read More
Our group of 4 drove to Tampa from New Orleans. Looking back we should have flown but we still enjoyed the drive over. Finding the terminal was a bit challenging. For some strange reason Terminal 2 has quite a large sign. So here we are looking for a similar sign for Terminal 3- none exists (at least that we could find). After a second wrap, I spotted a smaller green sign pointing out Terminal 3. Unloading was a breeze and we opted for the valet parking. It was only $15 more and during departure,(which it was pouring rain) we were glad we did. We walked into the terminal with our paperwork and passports in hand. The lines were non-existent and were signed in by an older gentlemen. He could've been more cordial but we let it go since he was elderly and maybe was having a bad day. Other than that, embarking flowed smoothly and R.C.I. definitely has it figured out well; it took us less than 10 minutes from vehicle drop to boarding. Entering the Radiance was a bit of a different experience for us. There was no hoopla over you while boarding, no music, and no one pushing drinks. Looking back I do miss the announcement of the "Robichaux" family, as it makes you feel special and like your vacation is actually beginning and it was kinda lame to not even have tropical music being played. It was more like entering the lobby of a hotel. However, I did not miss being hassled to buy a souvenir drink every two seconds! After reading the board on this ship I was a bit concerned at its age. I have to say that being the age it is, it is well kept and hard to find many wear and tear. We made our way to the Windjammer, which was absolutely lovely and had a nice selection. I was happy to see that the tables were being cleaned (disinfected) quickly after each passenger. We had breakfast and lunch in the Windjammer everyday. The food offerings changed a bit each day and I have no complaints about the quantity or quality of the food. After lunch we headed to find our stateroom (3110). Our luggage was there when we arrived and the room was ready to go. This room had two drop ceiling beds for our teenagers. We were able to hang most of our garments and unpack the rest into the drawer space provided. All of our luggage was put inside of each other and slipped neatly under the bed. Though the room was small, as most are, we never felt cramped or like we were stepping on each other. I also have to say that our room steward was exceptional. He cleaned the room constantly, we had a never ending supply of ice and water, and fresh towels. There was also a curtain partition that made it very easy for my daughter and me to change while the men were still in the room. One negative I have to admit was that at some point it felt like the a/c in our hall just stopped working. I called twice to have it looked into but, nothing changed. We were hot most nights and slept without covers. We never did experience any smells or wet carpeting as reported by others. Our commode refused to flush one evening, but one call and a few minutes later it was back in working order. Our main dining time was 6pm and the Cascades room was very nice. The food was excellent and so was the service. Our glasses never stayed empty more than 2 or 3 minutes and our waiters were kind, funny, punctual,and full of information. The selection during dinner was nice as well. There were 8 of us at one table and no one during the entire trip had any complaints. As for entertainment, I personally found the entertainment aboard the Radiance much nicer than that of the two Carnival cruises I've taken. The shows were excellent and the dancers got really involved down at poolside. Some points that I preferred on other ships were: -music by the main pool was exactly the same everyday and throughout the day, consisting of oldies and disco. By the time you hear Staying Alive 7 times, it is just frustrating. -Radiance had no "night clubs" for those of us who wanted to have fun with our 17/18 year old. When they decided to open it, it was only open to 18 and above. Sure there were other lounges open earlier but my teen doesn't want to hear big band music or Elton John hits (neither did I for that matter). -This ship was also very limited on it's gaming as well. -Though it is posted everywhere, seat holding on this ship was ridiculous. I could walk out at 7:30am and every chair had a towel, shirt, or book but no people on them. I actually found one without, sat and timed how long the chairs were being 'held' before someone came to actually use them - try up to 2 and 3 hours! And forget the Solarium, which by the way is really nice, but forget trying to sit in there. It is worse than the main pool for seating. Instead,we hung out in the library, read, played trivia, played pool in the Scoonger lounge, hit the arcade, and played putt putt golf. We took advantage of the Spa during the evenings instead of dancing. We took the teens and did the thermal spa which was great. My daughter did the Spa sampler and loved it. My husband and I did the Rasual, which is a must. On our Cozumel day, we did the Fury Catamaran and beach break. The catamaran and snorkeling was really fun and the gentlemen crewing the catamaran were great. The beach was awesome and we didn't have to fight for chairs or much else. The day was beautiful and I would recommend it to anyone. On our Costa Maya day, we just walked around, shopped, and lounged in hammocks. It was a nice change compared to being on board and having to fight for a place to sit in the sun. We were haggled a little but nothing as bad as some other ports we've been to. We were also able to get close to watch the dolphins being fed and played with. Basically this turned out to be just what we wanted, a very relaxing, laid back vacation. The ship is beautiful and full of things to do. Though I didn't get to sun poolside much, the other offerings easily took its place. Read Less
Sail Date March 2011
Boarding the ship was pretty good. We arrived at the cruise terminal around 10:30 before the lines were actually open, so there was a line outside the terminal, but once the lines opened, things moved quite quickly. Our Set Sail said that ... Read More
Boarding the ship was pretty good. We arrived at the cruise terminal around 10:30 before the lines were actually open, so there was a line outside the terminal, but once the lines opened, things moved quite quickly. Our Set Sail said that our boarding time was 12:00 pm, but we were all checked in and on the ship by 11:15. We only stopped to make reservations at Chops, then went right to the Windjammer for lunch. We were easily able to get a table, but before we were finished eating, the place was packed and our table was pounced on as soon as we stood up. The doors to the staterooms were opened promptly at 1:00, and we checked it out. We were in #1362. The bed was by the balcony and the sofa was closer to the hall door. It was a new arrangement for us, but felt a bit roomier than the stateroom on Holland America that we had in September. The closet was smaller than on other ships, but adequate for us. The shower in the bathroom was rounded and although still small, gave the illusion of having more space then the rectangular ones. It could actually hold four average sized adults if one wanted to try for some kind of shower stuffing record. (Don't ask how I know this.) My husband bought the Fountain Soda package on the first day. He won't do it again. He felt he had to drink more sodas than he otherwise would have in order to break even with the individual price. With the only diet option being Diet Coke, he got tired of the whole thing. The package comes with a big insulated bottle, but is a pain to carry around. Fortunately the package includes drinks served in regular glasses anywhere on the ship. He wound up adding his own vanilla to the Cokes after our first port stop. That helped. The ship is quite nice. The Promenade is especially impressive. The Promenade Cafe is a great place to pick up a snack (loved the granola bars) 24 hours a day. The rooms that overlook it are a bit strange, but we talked to a man who was in one and said he really liked it. The double paned windows kept out the noise except when one of the parades was going on. There were signs of wear and tear, but you also saw people working on maintenance during the trip too. The best show on the show on the ship was the "Ice Under the Big Top". The skating, costumes, set, etc. were all comparable to the land based ice shows, although smaller. Knowing that the skaters are working on ice on a rolling ship was most impressive. A nice touch is that skating classes are offered late in the cruise (sign up early), and they are conducted by the performers themselves. They also handle handing out the skates and getting people signed up. It was fun meeting them up close and getting to interact with them. They were quite patient with us newbies. They do have periods when the rink is open for free skating. Some people even brought their own skates. The production shows on the main stage were OK, but the talent was not the best. We missed one that sounded like it was the only one not to miss. We did enjoy the backstage tour one day conducted by the dance captain and the lighting director. Even if the shows are great, you can appreciate what the performers especially the dancers have to cope with when you feel the stage moving. There are lots of activities on board. Of course all the usual, but the ice skating and the rock wall climbing were unique and quite fun. The fitness center was very nice and well maintained. A couple of treadmills were out of order one day, but back in use the next. The trivia and Name That Tune contests were mostly held in the Schooner Bar. There were so many people participating that it was often impossible to find a seat and once you did, to hear what was being said. For popular activities, they should find a larger more convenient venue. We found the crew to be friendly and helpful. Our waiter in the dining room, Jasonn Joya, was great, as was his assistant, Reynato. In the Windjammer, Verheek was the best. The iced tea from concentrate that they serve is undrinkable, so I brew my own, much to the mystification of most waiters, but when I put in my standard order, Verheek knew I wanted to brew my own tea and brought me extra ice and extra hot water. Kudos. The food was adequate. A few individual dishes were outstanding, but the overall quality could only be considered average. We did have an excellent meal in Chops, one of the specialty restaurants, but wouldn't have paid the extra cost for it. We got it comped as part of the deal for booking the cruise. Our major complaint was the corridor outside our room. Apparently someone was sick there, and it took days for the smell to dissipate. It made you gag, and we were holding our breath walking down the corridor until we got into our room. The second day after it happened, we overheard an officer telling the steward to shampoo it. It helped, but the smell didn't completely go away until the last day of the cruise. We really appreciate the Express Departure on RCL. We had used the same procedure on Holland America, which was much better publicized and operated. On RCL, the information was just three lines on the As You Depart sheet. You really had to look for it, then listen to the whole 20 minute TV presentation about disembarkation to get any details. The Guest Relations desk didn't have any information when we checked there. We were told to report to one location, then moved to another. It appears that the popularity of just walking off and taking you own bags with you was underestimated by the staff, so procedures were changed at the last minute to accommodate the crowd. It was a minor inconvenience, and the crowd was adapted to quickly, but with a little more planning (like Holland America does), they would have known ahead of time how many were planning on doing this. Read Less
Sail Date December 2010
The following is a fairly lengthy cruise summary from our sailing on RCI's Mariner of the Seas. I deliberately didn't use the phrase "cruise review" as I don't think anyone of us that are on vacation is qualified ... Read More
The following is a fairly lengthy cruise summary from our sailing on RCI's Mariner of the Seas. I deliberately didn't use the phrase "cruise review" as I don't think anyone of us that are on vacation is qualified to write a cruise review. That's the job for a professional person that is paid to be picky and be objective about the cruise experience. For the rest of us, when we write about our cruise experience, it's just a summary of past events and not a cruise review per se. At any rate, some background before we began. Middle age family guy with wife and 2 boys (ages 9 and 7) and my in-laws as well - total of 6 of us. This is my eleventh cruise - my youngest kid's fifth cruise and everyone else is in-between in terms of cruising experience. I think cruising is the ultimate family vacation, especially on these mega ships where they have many activities to please multi generations. Also cruising is great in that it's a lazy person's vacation - no worries on preplanning activities on a day to day basis like a driving trip. My only worry is to get us to/from the pier and leave the rest to the cruise line. Here is my personal email at Harryfat@yahoo.com if anyone has a question/comment on what I said. Some comments I am sure are not politically correct, but I try to be as objective as possible, but as discussed above, it's not always possible as this is a summary of past events of our family vacation. SUMMARY - If you don't have the time or patience to wade through all the gibberish below, just know this. Beautiful ship. First couple days my wife and the boys were saying "WOW" every time they walk around the ship and saw something they have never seen in previous ships. Such that my 7 year old said, "This is the WOW cruise" since we said wow everywhere. However, it wasn't a perfect cruise as RCI has some major drawbacks in food and entertainment. So while I will recommend RCI to anyone looking to try a new cruise line for the family vacation, I do want to caution that you need to tone down your expectation on those 2 areas especially if you are coming from another cruise line. Why pick this ship/cruise? Partly due to rotational basis - we like to rotate between cruise lines. We have sailed on Carnival/Princess/HAL/RCI and Celebrity previously, so deliberately are not Homers to any given cruise lines. All cruise lines have its strengths and weakness, just be sure you know what they are before you book yours. RCI announced awhile back that they are abandoning the west coast Mexico cruises and moving Mariner to Texas. So this was our lat chance to catch the last mega liner in the West Coast before she leaves. I have sailed on RCI many years ago on the old Viking Serenade (no longer with the fleet) and have sailed on the 7 night Mexican Riviera itinerary back in 1997, so in some ways this whole cruise was a refresher lesson in history for me. Ship - I don't think I read bad reviews on the layout/design of the Mariner (the fifth and last ship in the Voyager class). Easy to get from one end of the ship to another on deck 4 and 5. Nice muted colors throughout. Promenade deck gives the illusion of being in Europe/Asia where the residential houses are sitting atop of the commercial buildings. If you have never been on the ships with the Promenade decks, you owe it to yourself to see it for yourself. Cabin - Having said that, we booked the 3 cabins on deck 7, overlooking the Promenade deck. Of the 3 cabins, 2 are connecting (for the kids) such that for the 4 of us, we effectively had over 300 square feet of space and 2 bathrooms. Better deal than any balcony or suites for my money. If we sail on another RCI ship with the Promenade view, I would not hesitate to do this connecting cabin arrangement again. Really nice to sit out and catch the parade in the room and people watch down below. Maybe the only thing different I would do is maybe go down to deck 6 to be a little closer to the action and even more center top the bridge area where the singes stand. Food - Granted it's a very subjective matter, but I still want to devote few sentences on it. Obviously one person's great food can be another garbage. That being said, in my personal opinion, RCI probably ranks the lowest in my own when you stack up the various cruise lines we have sailed on. That's not to say someone else can't rank them number 1, but for what we eat and where we eat our meals (no specialty restaurants), RCI does not provide the best cruise out there. Not to say their food is really bad, but they lack in presentation as well as flavoring. Many times the food was either too sweet or too salty. Hard to find a good state in the middle somewhere. Pre-cruise. We drove from the SF bay area down to Torrance the day before the cruise. Stayed at the Stay Bridge Suites as they have big 2 bedroom suites with kitchens that can sleep a family of 6. After checking in, we went to dinner and walked around the shopping area before calling it a night. Day 1 Due to unexpected family emergencies, we were slightly late in arriving at the pier. I had hoped to be at San Pedro no later than 11 AM, but we arrived closer to 12 noon, which is the official arrival time for everyone. So there was a mad rush of people unloading their stuff all along the long stretch curbside. I found a spot near the far end and dropped everything off and I went around parking the van in the open lot. After walking back and meeting up with the rest of the family, they had already found a porter to take all the luggage, so we proceeded to walk toward the terminal. Greeting us was a long line out the door (at least 250+ people) waiting in the blistering LA heat. That took 20 plus minutes before we were inside the building to be in line for one of the 3 security scanners. Once that was done, we filled out our health questionnaires given to us and then stood in another set of lines to check in (around 50+ people) in our lines of decks 3 to 7. Check in itself is pretty straight forward as we had done things online ahead of time. Then we proceeded to go up the escalators to the second floor for a long walk to the alongside the pier where we did the obligatory ship boarding pictures and then we were on board the ship officially. There weren't much instructions from the workers on what's what once you walk in, but I knew from previous experience the first order of business is straight to the buffet line. I had read enough bad things about RCI food so I know to ratchet my expectation down a notch and good thing I did as I was disappointed in the overall quality and presentation on various nights. After lunch, we made our way to the cabins and after settling in, I made my way to deck 5 to change our flexible dining time to 7:30 PM instead. Later on, the cabin steward (Randy from Philippines) showed up and introduces himself. We requested that the connecting door between the 2 cabins be opened and he did that by the evening. As the luggage was arriving slowly, we walked around to explore the ship. I missed having the ship tour like the ones given by Carnival and HAL. On RCI, you are on your own to find out what's what. They do reserve a spot where first time cruisers can go and ask questions, but that's not the same as a walking ship tour. We explored various decks and ended up at the top deck to play miniature golf. My younger son got a hole in one on hole #3 and he was disappointed when I didn't have the camcorder on him in hitting that shot. My bad. Then had to get some water at the pool bar afterward as it was just way too hot in the LA 82+ degree heat in December. After which, it was the mandatory muster drill and like HAL, they also take attendance on what passengers showed up at each station. After all that, the cruise vacation officially begins. Sailing away was a dusk/night given the early winter sunset time. After which, back to the cabin to unpack. And of course, we were missing one suitcase - mine. My cabin steward suggests I go down to security level and see what happened and so I went down to deck 1 security area and there must be at least 300 suitcases in various spots. Found someone there to help me and he asked me if I had liquor in my suitcase - and I don't. So finally found mine on the other side (light blue suit case is great in a sea of black and reds) and they wanted to scan mine once more to make sure it's all good - think it's my computer cables and extension cords that threw them for a loop initially. Anyway, after everything was good, took my suitcase back to the cabin. But by then, my wife had already unpacked the clothes into the 2 cabins and so I had to utilize whatever is leftover and that confused me the rest of the cruise as I had clothes in both cabins and had to go to both sides to get dressed daily. We took the kids to the Adventure Ocean to sign them up for the rest of the week and also checked out the Promenade and went to dinner on deck 5. I had requested a table by the balcony and was granted a nice view table #540 with Lloyd, our waiter. The guy is from India and every night we were there, he would give us a recommendation of the day. If you are on the Mariner and have MTD, request his tables and you won't be sorry. The head waiter came by mid dinner to introduce himself and asked if there was anything we needed from dining the whole cruise. Just ask him for it. I told him we like the table and our set of waiters and asked that we be seated at table 540 the rest of the cruise and he said he will make it happen on the reservation system. After dinner, we walked around the ship some more and checked out the Promenade deck, which changes color/lighting in the evening. Also went to deck 3 to look at the onboard pictures and saw that RCI have kiosks that you can use your room key to access what pictures are linked to your account, a convenient feature. The kids were getting tired by then after a long day so we went upstairs and they waited for the late Promenade parade to start before they went to sleep. Whereas I was finally able to take a shower since I didn't have time to do so before dinner since I had no change of clothes from my luggage to change into. After the parade, we all hit the sack after our first day on the cruise. Oh, BTW, it was a nice parade. Great to watch it from our cabin in our PJ's and not have to fight the crowd for a good spot. I have always said the first day of the cruise is the most hectic as that's when you have so many mandatory activities (i.e. boarding the ship/muster drill) and things are happening really fast while you are trying to absorb the new ship surroundings. Whereas the rest of the cruise, you have ample time to know what's coming around the corner. Someday if they can PDF you the schedule for the first day before you leave for the cruise that would be most ideal for anal people like myself that likes to plan things out way in advance. Day 2 After breakfast, the kids went off to Adventure Ocean and rest of us attended the "Port and shopping talk". Somehow I like to attend all of these things even though I have either been to these ports previously or know enough about them through months of research on cc, so there is in theory nothing to learn from these port talks. Nevertheless, I attend them all as part of the ritual. Makes me feel like a first time cruiser again. But RCI takes these Port talks one step further. The only thing remotely resembling the "port" part of the talk is that they tell you where each stores are in each port. Think the port person gets paid by the number of times he says the words "Diamond International" in his presentation. I would have liked to at least know what excursions are available at the ports - guess would have to just watch the endless loops of excursion info on the TV in the cabin to get that info. The only port part of the Cabo presentation was him showing you on the map how to walk to Diamonds International from the tender dock. Anyway, to say that the whole hour wasn't a waste, they had a raffle drawing at the end to prevent the many people that walked out during the presentation and they called my name in winning the spa treatment. Wooh Hoo! That on top of the free one we got from the TA, we now have spa treatments galore. After that, we picked up the kids and went to the cruise critics meeting. Of all the cruises I have been on, this roll call was the most active by far and the turn out was huge. Over 100 people went and to RCI's credit, they gave out souvenir prizes to all that showed up as well as various other souvenirs prizes for the raffle. We didn't win anything from that, but it was a good chance to say hi to the people that you conversed online and we saw various folks from cc throughout the rest of the cruise. After lunch at Windjammer, went over to the spa to have an idea on what I have won from the raffle drawing and also how does that dove tailed with the free spa treatment we got from the TA. Anyway, they booked us on a back to back spa treatment for 2.5 hours on next day while we are in Cabo (supposedly our free spas can only be used on port days - when the spas are not as popular). The flip side of things is that it cuts our Cabo day short. Don't recall what we did the rest of the afternoon (can't look at the pictures as they were lost). Next thing I recall us doing was we went to the ice show at 4:45 and snagged a decent seat along center ice by row 3. In reading various reviews online, I know this is a not to be missed event and I concur. Bar none, the best entertainment on high seas on all the cruises I have been on. The show was over before 6 and we rushed back to our cabin to shower and change for the 7:30 dinner. This is one occasion where the 2 connecting cabins are great. We sent each of the kids to shower and that made getting ready a much easier process. By time we showed up at dinner, it was a zoo with long lines back up and many people were waiting for their tables as the first wave of cruisers are still lingering over dessert, especially on the formal night, people tend to take their time more. Anyway, even by time we got to the podium, our table wasn't ready from the previous set of diners and after another 10 minutes of standing wait by the door, they gave us another table by the side. Not that the other set of waiters are bad, but they are just not as good as Lloyd and I am glad we were there only for one day as we had our table 540 back to us the rest of the cruise. By time all that was sorted out, we had missed all the shows and captain's welcome and such. Had I known the delay, I would have changed dinner time to 8:15 PM instead and then head off to captain's welcome event and then dinner. Hind sight is 20/20. Oh, well. We just spent the rest of the evening walking around taking pictures on our own as well as with the professional photographers. Day 3 Woke up to bright blue skies in the morning. Cabo was going to be in the 85 range, definitely the hottest day of the entire cruise. By time we ate breakfast and got ready, the ship was already positioned outside the harbor area and getting ready to tender people to Cabo. We went to deck 12 to get some pictures of the town and scenery before headed for the tender. They had the double decker tenders as well as the regular smaller tenders from ashore and it was roomy and comfy and a short ride later, we were in Cabo. On the way to town, I took some pictures of the ship that I thought were good ones of the entire ship (more on that later). Originally we were planning to do the Lover Beach water taxi thing, but due to the free spa treatments later in the day, we had to scrap the lover's beach thing and just settled for walking around. With the notion that we will come back to Cabo someday for the Lover's Beach thing but the spa thing won't be there next time around. Cabo certainly have built up since I was last there 13 year ago. Most touristy of the 3 ports and I can see why many people like it the most. After some walking around and shopping, we headed back to the ship for lunch. The kids went off to Adventure Ocean and the wife and I went to the double spa treatment. I know I will catch flak for saying this, but I just don't understand the cost/benefit of the high end spas. Sure, it's nice, but for the price, it's not worth what you get. Glad the only thing we had to pay was the tips. But I also was expecting that they would be hard to up sell every product they have from the spa and I am pretty good at saying "No, thank you". After spa, went to pickup the kids and got them showered and changed and ready for dinner. Tonight was the flowery dress night so I broke out my Hawaii shirt along with my father in law. Glad to have our table 540 back that night and Lloyd was as happy to see us as well. Nothing like having waiters know that we like hot tea before/during/after dinner (Asian thing) and him knowing what the kids like such that their fruit appetizers showed up as soon as we sat down the remainder of the cruise. I liked my lamb shank that night. Very hefty chunk of meat. After dinner we went to the show. I know entertainment shows are subjective, but I think RCI has the worst entertainment shows at the main theatre of the cruises I have been to. Even with songs I know like Billy Joe and the Beatles, they just don't excite me. I came close to falling asleep near the end. By time we went back to the cabin, that's when I realized that I had lost all of my pictures since the beginning of vacation until midway through the day in Cabo. What the heck? Not happy, but what can you do? At least I found out earlier and still have time to remedy some of the ship based pictures the rest of the cruise. But lost all my boarding and Cabo tender pictures. Day 4 - Stone Island. Our only planned excursion. We opted for a paid tour instead of doing it on our own. I know we can save money by following the detailed instructions of catching the $2 water taxi and so on, but since we were traveling with 2 boys and the in-laws, decided that simplicity is better than frugality. Maybe in future visits, we will opt to do it on our own but for this trip, we went with an independent operator, King David tours (you can find their link via a Google search). They have received good reviews here at cc as well as at tripadvisor. I rate these guys top notch. Next time we are in town, we will use them for other tours. For the price you pay ($35/$25 for adults/kids), it's solid value. The tour guide, Leonardo, is hilarious and took care of everyone on the tour from beginning to end. In all his narrations, he said "How about that? Take a picture" every other sentence. Now 2 weeks after the cruise, my kids still laugh when they repeat that phrase at home. Can't beat that type of experience/memory. That's what family vacation is all about. I have also uploaded our Stone Island pictures in the photo album online. So you can just follow the pictures with my long narrative below to "see" what I am describing. http://travel.webshots.com/album/579370943PDRfZC The morning we arrived at Mazatlan (December 15, 2010), it was foggy and cool. Our ship was delayed in getting into the port by almost half an hour due to the heavy fog outside the harbor. So by time we got off the ship, it was later than the stated time to join the tour, but the King David folks waited for everyone to disembark before they loaded the group onto various trucks to take us to the dock to start the tour. Originally the tour includes a one hour harbor bay tour to see the caves and sea lions, but due to the fog, that was canceled. Bummer. Can't do much about that. Such is nature of traveling. So they just took us straight to Stone Island instead. Not a bad thing, I guess, since we had more time there. Once the boat docked, we were onboard the famous "Mexican Limo" tractor. As Leonardo said before we boarded, please be careful and not to break any windows while we are on it. From there, it was a brief 10 minutes ride to the restaurant, Molokay. Think the King David Company more or less books the restaurant exclusively for their tour groups (I head there were 5 different tour groups there that day). There may have been some non tour folks there, but they are the exception. So we picked a table and camped out for the rest of the day. For the rest of the morning, the kids played in the sand. The water temperature in a cool day was too cold to swim, so even though we brought swimming trunks, we never changed into them. The weather cleared up after lunch, so if you are looking at the pictures, you will see a big difference between the earlier beach pictures with the later ones in terms of fog/sunshine. The lunch itself is decent. No coconut giant shrimps as described on other threads. Guess that's the difference in going on your own versus the packaged tour food. No matter, not like it was going to ruin our day with or without the shrimps. One thing you do get with the tour is open bars. All you care to drink during the time you are there on the Island - you can see form he picture that many people like my wife all lined up at the end of the tour on the last call to have one more drink for the road (hey, why not, it's not we are driving). Think I had 3 cocktails and 1 Pepsi. Life is good when the biggest decision of the day was deciding between getting a Mai Tai or Tequila Sunrise. I couldn't decide, so I had both. As part of the tour package, each person can participate in 2 activities. Since it was too cold to swim, we opted for the land based activities. As a family, we first tried the 1 horse power carriage. It was a private tour in that it was only the 6 of us on it when it was our turn. We took a tour of the village area. The kids and in-law liked it. After that, we went back to the beach area to enjoy the sun that finally broke out. Later on, the wife and I opted for horseback riding as part 2 of the activities list while the kids and the in-laws opted out. She thinks she has the prettiest horse and I concur. Much better than mine. I think I had the biggest horse of the group and as such, he wanted to be the "leader" and always wanted to b in the front and couple times I was sandwiched in between horses and my horse was trying to squeeze in-between and trying to get to the front. One time even went off trail and our horse guide from behind had to rein him back to the trail. Anyway, it was an interesting event. After that, it was time to head back to the ship. So as previously discussed, everyone lined up for that last round of refreshment and we headed back to the dock. Going back, we were one of the last ones to board, so we ended up in the smaller truck instead of the tractor. So we got to ride in on both types of transportation - the smaller truck went faster on a short cut and provided more excitement going back. A quick 10 minute ride back to the dock, during which we each got our personal souvenir. After that, a transfer onto the 45 passenger big bus and we were back at the cruise terminal with plenty of time to spare. Mariner of the Seas passengers never switched to local time, so from our perspective, we joined the tour around 8:45 AM and came back around 2:45 PM (everyone else needs to add 1 hour for local time). Like I said previously, solid excursion experience. I know it can be done on your own for less and you have more freedom if you choose to do it on your own, but as far as tour excursions goes (and for simplicity sake), I rate these guys very highly and if anyone is interested in doing Stone Island during your visit to Mazatlan, put them on your short list of options. So after getting back from Stone Island, showered and changed just in time to watch the Sapphire Princess pull out of town as they head north up to Cabo while we headed south. Got a nice picture of them next to the Carnival Spirit that we were on exactly 2 years ago. Went to the Windjammer and grabbed some light munchies to eat ahead of dinner in couple hours. While we were there, we saw the Spirit pulling out as well in the night, leaving us the last ship in town. For dinner, had the crab salad, cold berry soup and seafood pasta with banana crème boulee as appetizer. Went to another show tonight and then off to bed as we woke up early this morning with a long but satisfying day. Day 5 Woke up with the ship already docked at PV, with the Carnival Spirit next to us once again. Surprising that Windjammer was pretty crowded given it's a port day, but guess since we are docked all day long with a late departure, many people didn't feel the need to rush off the ship. After breakfast, went up to the top deck once more for some pics and then headed out. PV is certainly the most laid back of the 3 ports in terms of vendors trying to sell us stuff. Cabo was the most aggressive of the 3 ports we were on, but that is nothing compared to the Acapulco taxi drivers from our visit 2 years ago. Had one guy that literally walked with me for 100 feet asking where I am from and telling me why I should book with him. In comparison, sure love the laid back feeling of PV. We took the shuttle that drove us to the beach zone for $4/pp. If you want the shopping area, that is $3/pp. But I wanted to start from the south end and walk back along the water front as I know there is a lot of scenery there. So after walking back up and stopping by the church area and various shops, we saw some really nice sand castle art work. Various folks were spraying water on them to keep them moist. After that, we decided to head back to the ship for a late lunch. Found a big van taxi that could fit all 6 of us and since we were in the different zone, only $3/pp. After lunch, the wife and the in-laws went across the street to the shopping area (i.e. Wal-Mart) to buy my sister the chili lime popcorn that she loves but can't get them at the regular stores. Meanwhile I went swimming with the boys at the pool area. A lot less crowded by the pool area during port days. Afterwards, we went back to the cabin, showered and just relaxed in the cabin as I people watch from our PR cabin. Really like that view. Soon after, my wife and the in-laws came back from shopping and we went out to see the Mariner cast off from the pier. I have to say that of all the ships I have been on, the Mariner has the most well lid outside Promenade walking area. No other ships lights up the area like the Mariner - other ship designers must assume people don't walk outside after dark. But I do miss the teak wood deck that's more common of other cruise ships not found on the Mariner. For dinner, had the lam chops. Easily the best meal on the whole cruise. Real nice flavoring with lots of herbs. After dinner, we attend the ventriloquist show and to top off the evening, they had the 70's music dance party on the Promenade. That is easily the longest parade/party out of the 3 for the cruise. Lasted almost 30 minutes with various hit songs from the 70's. For old folks like myself, it brings back the oldies of Bee Gees as well as the usual favorite YMCA. The cruise director is certainly all into it with his white suit and wig. There's something to be said about several hundred people dancing to the 70's music in the middle of the ocean in Mexico. Especially these are the older folks that have gone past the prime of the disco era and many likely won't go to the late night discos, but with this 70's dance party, they can all still dance at the Promenade. Guess that's the target audience for this music. Not sure the 18 year old crowd listening to the rap music will be all into this scene - it's more for their parents. As before, saw the show upstairs from our cabin and went to sleep at 11 something. Day 6 Started to head back up north and as typical of this itinerary, the ship started to rock the most that day of the entire cruise. As a precaution, took a bonine myself and gave half to each of my kids. After breakfast, went to the towel folding demonstration. Unlike Carnival from 2 years ago, RCI just shows you how it's done versus Carnival which gives towels for you to try yourself and they also sell a book on towel folding. So as demonstration goes, it's pretty blah. Just 5 animals later and you are done. After which, the wife started to do some serious shopping on the ship for the folks back at home. Then we went top side to watch the belly flop contest and a late lunch thereafter. Think the bonine made me really groggy and I was tired after the big meal and took a long nap in time to shower and changed into the second formal night. After more picture taking everywhere else on the ship, we went to dinner. Had the lobster for dinner but ordered one extra prime rib for "the table" for my wife and I to share with my older son. In hindsight, maybe should have ordered two, but we were short on time. Another thing RCI doesn't do is baked Alaska. Yes, I know, some say it doesn't taste that great, blah blah. But for me that's another one of the traditional cruise fares I enjoy that is missing on RCI. When we came out, we saw the captain taking with someone at the Promenade and I asked if my boys can take a picture with him since we missed him o the first formal night. He was very nice and chatted with my younger son for awhile. So he finally got his wish to meet with the captain. Went to another blah performance by the Royal Caribbean singers. Slightly better than the other nights but certainly nothing to write home about. Definitely not the top things they do well. Day 7 The seas have calmed down as we went past the Cabo area. No need for any meds today. Somewhat partly cloudy but wasn't as cold as I had feared for a December sea day out in Baja area - but it was windy outside the deck area. One good thing about this itinerary is that it gives you two days on the back end so you feel more relaxed & rested as you head back home with the extra day to be in the sea. But this being day 7, it meant everything has to be done by the end of the day as there's no tomorrow. After breakfast, headed off to the "Captain's Corner" whereby you get to hear the captain describing the operations on the ship and get to ask questions. While that's a good forum, I miss having the captain's farewell like I have seen on every other cruise line, including Celebrity cruise. I miss having the various departments on the ship coming out to say goodbye at the debarkation talk. So essentially RCI has no debarkation talk live. It's done via recording by the cruise director and you just watch the endless loop on TV. I am sure people will say they don't miss the debarkation talk. That's fine, but put it on for the rest of us that likes it and our last opportunity to give standing ovation for people that served us the whole cruise. I would have been very happy if they could have both activities. Or at the minimum have the crew comes out at the end of captain's corner. After captain's corner, we rushed out to see the cooking demo. Being held at a very small area right as you walk into the Windjammer. Way too small area for this venue compared to what Princess or HAL offered in our previous cruises. Since we had to stand on the side and toward the back, we left shortly thereafter. Then we went over to the back stage production tour to see what the show's back stage looked like. While that was interesting to see and talk to the various folks involved in the production shows, the whole process wasn't as "wow" as I had hoped. Guess instead of just talking about how they changed into various costumes it'd be better if they can give us some demonstrations on what they do. Way too much talking and zero demonstration. Time for late lunch and just walking around the various ship area taking the last minute pictures of places that we have missed. Then went to the photography area to buy up the place. As is typical, our family buys the most of all the pictures amongst the various cruisers on the ship. Day 7 is always the busiest time for photograph purchases as everyone waits until the end to pick the pictures they like, so it was a mad house in the area and as always, my wife and the in-laws just take all the pictures we took (I estimated to be at least 80+) and spread them out on the floor to compare and contrast the ones they wanted. After that, time to go back to the cabin and start the packing process. Always amazed how much stuff we over pack as we always assume we need more clothes than we actually need for the cruise and adding the fact that we always buy new clothes during the cruise as part of eth souvenir, so we always end up going home with stuff we never wore. Anyway, after packing and doing all the administrative stuff like the cruise satisfaction survey and customs declaration forms, we showered and headed out for one last evening around the ship. They had the singing waiters out one last time and then we bid farewell to the ding room attendants as we enjoyed the time we spent in the dining area. One last trip around the Promenade area for shopping and pictures and then back to the cabin as we had to wake up earlier on the last day of the cruise. But not before catching the third and final night time parade around 10:30. They had the crew various departments coming out, but that was a very small representative sample (say like 2 per department). Still would have liked the other cruise liens approach of bringing them all out at the stage during the day. As far as parade goes, this one has the most elaborate costumes and props. So if you only have the time/energy to catch one night time parade, this is the one to catch. Then put the luggage outside the hallway and called it a day. Day 8 - Woke up to rain in San Pedro area. Big difference from just 7 days ago when we sailed away in 82 degree weather. Today was in the low 60's and rain greeting us as we woke up. Up to Windjammer one last breakfast on board. Since we had requested one of the last tickets to be off the ship (#20), we were in no hurry to eat/get off the ship. By time we fished breakfast, headed back to the cabin to get the one carryon luggage and then we caped out at deck 5 of the Promenade deck for some water and played cards to past the time. We were supposed to be at the Savoy Theater by 9:50 per the ticket time for group 20, but we never made it down there. Around 10 AM, we heard the announcement that the last call to get off the ship has been issued, so we just walked down one deck and exited on Promenade deck 4. After going down the elevator, we retrieved out luggage amongst whatever is still left in the big warehouse area. Easy to find our luggage when there's only less than 200 left. Easy customs question/answer session and then we walked across the parking lot with all our luggage and loaded up the stuff. The rain had stopped during the walk to the parking lot, but started to come down hard at the ending part of the process and anytime I came back to the van, I was pretty much soaking wet. Missed the indoor parking of Long Beach pier. After paying and exiting the lot, got on the freeway and headed up north. The drive through LA was a breeze considering it was raining buckets. No stopping to speak of on the 405 drive up north, but lots of stops after the 5 and 405 merger up north by the Palmdale 14 area. And couple big accidents along I-5 also made going slow at times. The rain didn't let up until we got past the Buttonwillow area. We got home around 6 PM. Overall it was a solid cruise. RCI builds the worlds prettiest ships in their color design as well as their innovations of what to bring to a cruise. These guys really think outside the box on what it can be done on a cruise ship. For the traditionalist, that's not a good thing as the main emphasize is not to look outside as much as it's to look inside. Other than just couple occasions we never really made it out to the outside deck 4 to walk around like we typically do on the precious cruises. We were to busy taking pictures of the rest of the ship inside to be looking outside. In that sense Mariner was probably the right ship type for the Mexican Riviera where there are only 3 ports, so the extra sea day is great when there's a nice ship to occupy your time and energy. Probably won't be until after 2014 when the build the new locks at the Panama Canal before RCI will send another mega ship out to the west coast permanently. For those RCI fans in the west coast, they'd need to fly to at east Texas to sail on a RCI ship on a regular basis - unless they do the Alaska sailing during the summer months. In final analysis, RCI does many things well (beautiful ship/innovative venues), but also missed on other things (balh food). Everyone has always asked me what my favorite cruise line is since I cruise often, but I have always said I don't have one as each one ahs its set of strengths and weaknesses. It just depends on what you are looking for on your cruise bad set the expectation at a reasonable level in picking the right cruise line for yourself. Just be sure to match up the strengths of the cruise lien with your highest priority - for example, if you want great food, don't pick RCI. If you a fun cruise, don't pick Celebrity. If you want a cruise to be pampered with service, don't pick Carnival and so on. For us, the cruise was solid experience. Notwithstanding its shortcomings, RCI does a great job to entertain the passengers with ice shows/parades and beautiful ships. I would have no problem taking the family on RCI cruise if the price is right. I typically plan 2 vacations at a time in that I know where I will go on a cruise after the one I am sailing on so that I have something to forward to when I disembark the current cruise. Previously I had thought I will be going back to the Caribbean for 2011 and we still may, but after this cruise, the convenience of just driving down to LA and board the ship versus flying to eat coast and deal with flights/crowds in December is making me wary to just go ahead with the Caribbean cruise without some more thought. But wherever we end up, RCI will be on the short list of possible cruise line we are considering. RCI typically has a price premium on their cruises over the other mass market cruise lines due to their big mega ships and after having been on one of them, not sure if I am willing to pay that price premium over and over every time I cruise. That's a personal decision everyone ahs to make. Think for myself, if I can get RCI cruise to be within $100 of other cruise lines, I would pick RCI. But if the price premium is more than $100/pp, I would opt for something else. Anyway, think that's all I have to say. Thanks for reading this to the end for those that stuck with me on the long and windy road. If you read this whole thing, you need a vacation more than me. Regardless, like I said in the beginning, email me if you have any questions or comments on what I wrote at Harryfat@Yahoo.com. Read Less
Sail Date December 2010
This was our second adventure on the Mariner and our 8th on this class of ship. You can tell the ship is getting a bit worn, but nevertheless, the RC experience was worth it. Everyone had a great time! Lots to do for everyone. We had a ... Read More
This was our second adventure on the Mariner and our 8th on this class of ship. You can tell the ship is getting a bit worn, but nevertheless, the RC experience was worth it. Everyone had a great time! Lots to do for everyone. We had a group of kids spanning a variety of ages. The groups all had different experiences - 3-6 years old - loved it! 7-9 had a bit of trouble with the activities; girls mostly bored and didn't want to go back; 10-12 had a great time if you loved sports. Not so much for the middle of the road kids; 13-17 didn't even know they were on board most of the time! The biggest complaint from the kids programs was that the 13-17 year olds were always let out past curfew of 1:00. They got "written up" 4 times, although no one ever said a word to us. Finally got wise to it all and met them at 1:30 to take to promenade to get a snack before the in-room movie. I experienced them talking with the staff -- only following orders I presume -- but they were refused service. The server even questioned me as to why I would get food for ALL of the kids (8 of them). After a night of activities, I don't think a trip to get pizza and sandwiches and a drink is all that questionable. If they really were bad enough to get "written up" I would have expected to know about it. If not, I think RCCL would be better served giving the kids some snacks before retiring. Overall, the dining room was not set up to accommodate our group as well as the Windjammer was. We also enjoyed the speciality restaurants. The staff there was very accommodating to our needs and well worth the extra costs. Much funner to tip them than the "i just expect your tip no matter what I do" dining room staff. At the end of the week, the reviews were good -- good ship, good service, good people,good fun. Read Less
Sail Date November 2010
After a friend's recommendation we decided to tryTHE MARINER POSITIVE: Check-in went smoothly, although we were delayed 45 minutes for Coast Guard inspection. Easy to maneuver ship with my walker or scooter. Nice sized disabled ... Read More
After a friend's recommendation we decided to tryTHE MARINER POSITIVE: Check-in went smoothly, although we were delayed 45 minutes for Coast Guard inspection. Easy to maneuver ship with my walker or scooter. Nice sized disabled cabin. Great staff, fun Halloween & 70's parties & parades; great lamb, duck & white chocolate/orange flan (although the rack of lamb was hard to cut). Lobster was wonderful! We had a Great MDR staff for Anytime Dining. Trivia was fun, and run by a great, fun staff, but prizes were cheap (how many key-chains & highlighters do we need?) There should have been a prize exchange for people who would prefer a pen for a key chain! Room attendant was sweet & we had cute animals (elephant, turtle & monkey). Loved the brownies in the Cafe' Promenade! Disembarkation was also easy, after a small breakfast in the MDR. NEGITIVE: Amenities cut back (no robes, bad shampoo, warm refrigerator). Due to the Coast Guard inspection, elevators were shut down after disabled were allowed up to Windjammer, & I saw several passengers close to collapse when they climbed 7 floors! Windjammer was poorly organized and arranged, with not enough inside seating & no way to take food or drink outside without being accosted (no signs said no food around pool). No water service either. Food was OK but not great- some things were barley edible, egg-beaters were greasy & watery (especially on Windjammer). I never knew there were so many ways to serve chocolate mousse! Ship itself was very boxy & enclosed (we could have been at the Paris Las Vegas). There were Very few places to curl up & read while watching the view without going to pool area, which had very small Pools (On Carnival, I could always find a window seat to read). Staff was Fun, but CD Kiernan was barely around. I didn't find out until the last night that there was an elevator to take the disabled down to the front rows of the theater (you have to make a appointment with the stage Director to use it; otherwise, all disabled are in the last row on the 3rd deck), which is unfair if you want to participate. The Casino was also very cheap- not only the machines have poor pay-outs, but all I got for my points were more key chains; no cash-back! I think we'll try the Disney Magic, then stick to Carnival! Read Less
Sail Date October 2010
This was my third time on the Mariner OTS and I will probably not go back. We stayed the night before at the Crowne Plaza in San Pedro. We chose that because of the proximity to the ship. Beautiful hotel room, but the area had a ... Read More
This was my third time on the Mariner OTS and I will probably not go back. We stayed the night before at the Crowne Plaza in San Pedro. We chose that because of the proximity to the ship. Beautiful hotel room, but the area had a little to be desired. They have a shuttle to the pier and we got to sleep in expecting to arrive on board around 1pm so we could go right to the cabin, but that did not happen. Upon arrival at the pier we were greeted to a very long line that wrapped around in a lot of different directions. There were no ropes or lines to tell you where to go and not a lot of RCCL people to make sure the line was being directed correctly. We saw a lot of people just cutting in line. It took us around 45 minutes to get through security and to the desk. Check-in was flawless and smooth. We proceeded to the gangway and another line. There were some problems with the security check in on board and it created another line. We finally were through and on board around 1:15 and wanted to go straight to the cabin. Onward to deck 8 and the doors are shut. No information. Its after 1pm and the sign on the doors say cabins will be available at 1pm. HMMMMM. We go up to the Windjammer and its an absolute zoo. No seating, lots of people. This is what happens when the cabins aren't ready at 1. We ask the staff if Johnny Rockets is open and they say no so we go in. Finally get a plate and start the search for a place to sit with no luck, so we try for the open bench just outside the door and are stopped and told that no food is supposed to leave the Windjammer. Surprising since every other RCCL ship I have been on, including the previous times on the Mariner, allowed food to leave. When my wife explained that there were no seats, the person said "not my problem you can't take the food out." We left the food on the table with the ice sculpture and walked out. We went to the upper deck and Johnny Rockets was open. If they would have told us that in the first place, we wouldn't have even walked into the windjammer. Johnny Rockets is always worth the trip. We finally got to the cabin and it was very nice as always. Our cabin steward was right there when we arrived and promptly filled our request for extra pillows. She was always very attentive to us, even on the days where we didn't leave the cabin until after lunch. Our luggage arrived before dinner and we were able to change and we went to the dining room for our early seating. Our dining room waiter was tops. He was funny and always on top of things that needed to be done. Our assistant waiter left some to be desired and we made sure our comment card reflected that. The food during the week was good. Lots of fish choices, more than I can remember. As for the ports of call, we chose this itinerary because it was something different for us. Im glad we did it but, I am also glad RCCL is discontinuing this itinerary. Cabo San Lucas was nice to sail into. The harbor is beautiful. Lots of great scenery. We tendered to the dock with no problems, a nice smooth ride with little wait for the tenders. When you get to the pier be ready for the constant calls for taxis, tours, souvenirs, and anything else under the sun. It was like running a gauntlet. We walked around town a little and went to the Cabo Wabo cantina and some shops. Very nice people in the shops, but when we were done we had to run the gauntlet again. Tender service back was smooth as well. Mazatlan was a pit. We docked at a cargo terminal and had to take a tram to the entrance once off the ship. Through a mini gauntlet we got in one of the recommended taxis for a ride to the "golden zone", about 3 miles from the ship and the only place the ship recommends you go for "safety reasons" as per the port shopping guide. Halfway through the ride I asked the driver how much longer it was and he said "oh you want the golden zone", a few minutes later we were there. Ship stated the price was $10 one way but he said it was $20, because he took us to 2 spots. I gave him $10 and said no way. There was little to nothing golden about the "golden zone" I think we stayed there about an hour walking and back to the ship. Puerto Viarta. No too much to say about this port. We didn't really explore. Again a gauntlet of vendors to get anywhere. We just went just outside the port to get some postcards and small trinkets. As for other on board experiences, the activities seemed to be cut back. There seemed to be a little less. I loved to play bingo on board but they changed the game. If you just wanted the cards it was around $42 or for over $50 you got a machine that told you you would win. You didn't have to even pay attention to the numbers. The problem was that most, if not all of the winners had purchased the machine. The most fun was the activity called "The Quest" I haven't laughed that hard in a long time. It was a total blast. This is an adult only activity that I have been to many times, but this was by far the best one. The guest entertainers were good, and the late night comedy was great. The production shows are typical cruise line shows. The promenade parades were great. For some reason I thought there were 3, but there were 2 on this one. Only one other issue during portrait night. We were waiting in line for the portraits to be done and when we finally arrive at the front of the line the photographer put up a sign and said she was going on break. Someone who seemed to be a supervisor said something to her in a non-English language and she just looked at him and walked away. Again something we noted on the comment card. Overall it was a nice cruise. Nice and relaxing. I just seemed to me that they are cutting back on the activities and perks for the Crown and Anchor members. Our on board booklet was a lot different, less coupons. No art auction, we always enjoyed that. I love RCCL, but I think they are concentrating on the larger ships. My last cruise was on the Independence and they activities and perks were more plentiful. It could have been my imagination, but some of the crew were just going through the motions, maybe it was the same itinerary every week for them. Read Less
Sail Date October 2010
1) Flight and Pre-Cruise Hotel We flew into LAX the day before our cruise via our favorite airline, Southwest. Thanks to advice from Cruise Critic, we had made reservations for the Super Shuttle and the van picked us up at the ... Read More
1) Flight and Pre-Cruise Hotel We flew into LAX the day before our cruise via our favorite airline, Southwest. Thanks to advice from Cruise Critic, we had made reservations for the Super Shuttle and the van picked us up at the assigned location and took us to our hotel in short order. We stayed at the Crowne Plaza in San Pedro which is a short distance from the cruise port. Again, thanks to Cruise Critic, we had made reservations via Priceline and got a terrific room for $75 plus tax. We had dinner at the San Pedro Brewery (recommended by Cruise Critic posters) which was a block and a half up the street in what appeared to be a safe area. The next morning I walked up to the Numero Uno Market (about a ten minute walk from the hotel) and purchased a 12 pack of Diet Pepsi to take on the ship (no problems getting it aboard inside my carry on) and some terrific Mexican pastries for breakfast. We settled for coffee which we made ourselves in the room. The hotel provided a free shuttle to the port (first come, first served). We only had to wait a short amount of time for what was a very short ride. 2) Embarkation We arrived at the port shortly after 10:30 and were checked in very quickly with no lines, but ended up waiting for over an hour in the terminal as the Mariner was undergoing its annual Coast Guard inspection. Shortly before noon, we were allowed to board and since our cabin was not ready, we headed up to the Windjammer for lunch. It was starting to get crowded, but we did find a table and our cruise had begun. An announcement was made that cabins would not be ready until 2 p.m. due to the earlier inspection, so after lunch we took photos and enjoyed the sun on top deck. 3) Cabin/Steward/and Smoking At 2 p.m. we ventured to our cabin, #7626. It was a "hump" cabin just a few steps from the elevator on the port side in the center-rear of the ship. The cabin was clean and spacious with plenty of storage space. We never met our steward until he delivered our luggage at about the time of sail-away. ON past cruises, the steward usually makes it a point to stop by in the afternoon to introduce himself, but this one did not. We don't expect much from our steward other than making the bed each day, changing the towels, and keeping the ice bucket filled. Ours did just that, but not much more. No big deal, but attention to detail was lacking (e.g. the vanity lights had a burned out bulb all week, one of the reading lamps was dangling, and the televsion screen could have been cleaned. Smoking is always a controversial issue on these boards, and we are now 2 for 4 on RCCL ships. There was often a smell of smoke. Not overwhelming like the chain smokers next to us on the Jewel of the Seas, but annoying nonetheless. When will RCCL smarten up and not allow smoking on the balconies? 4) Dining *My Time Dining: We were introduced to My Time Dining on Independence of the Seas and it made us converts. We dined the the MDR on six of the seven nights. We never had to wait more than a couple of minutes for a table for two and after the first night requested he same wait staff of Richard and Scott who were fantastic. With My Time Dining, the tips are prepaid, but we had such great service, we left each of them additional on the final night. *Quality of Food: This is certainly an objective issue and I have felt that posters have been hypercritical on Cruise Critic in the past. Overall, we enjoyed our meals, but they were not spectacular. I am a big guy and usually never complain, but one night I only ate half of my steak because of the poor quality. In fairness, I did not say anything to the waitstaff, but just let it go. It was my own fault. *Windjammer: We had breakfast our first day in the MDR and were irritated that they would not seat us at a table for two. We found service to be horribly slow and thus ate in the Windjammer for breakfast for the rest of the cruise. The selections were great although at times we had to look around for a table. We found that if we arrived before 9 a.m., it was easier to get a table. We had lunch in the Windjammer on the first day and two of the sea days. It was okay, but none of the meals were memorable. *Chops: We always go to a specialty restaurant on the first of the so-called formal nights. It makes for a nice romantic meal that it much quieter than the main dining room. Although they no longer bring out a cart before you order to show you what is available (unfortunate, the food and service were outstanding. We had the Mississippi Mud Pie for dessert. Awesome! Although some debate doing so, we left the wait staff an additional $20 tip for the excellent service. *Johnny Rockets: The first time we went to Johnny Rockets was on the Independence of the Seas and it was a great diversion on a sea day for lunch. The dancing waiters are a hoot. There is a $4.95 pp cover charge. RCCL used to have a BOGO Free coupon, but no longer although you can get a BOGO milkshake. Buy the time you are done, you have paid close to $20 with tip. I am not so sure that it is worth it, but there was quite a line, so RCCL is making some bucks. *Dress Code: How folks dress is a major issue on these boards although I am not sure why. Quite frankly "The Clothes Police" only exist on Cruise Critic. Do not let anyone intimidate you or try to relegate you to dine in another venue because you do not meet their standards, especially on the so-called formal nights. I do not own a tux nor a suit that fits well, thus I wore a long sleeved dress shirt with tie, dark pants, and a blue blazer. No one said a word, nor did I discern any dirty looks. I normally don't pay attention to what others wear, but I did look around on both of the so-called formal nights and estimate the following. Approximately... ...10% wore a tux ...40% wore a suit ...25% wore a sport coat with or without a tie ...10-15% wore a long sleeved shirt with or without a tie ...10-15% wore something else *Room Service: We used to always order chicken drumettes through room service in the late afternoon and enjoy them with a cheese plate and a drink on the balcony to watch the sunset. The drumettes are no longer available and thus we did not use room service. Another cutback from RCCL. 5) Meet and Mingle and Cabin Crawl Cruise Critic had a number of us participating on the forum board and many of us were looking forward to the Meet and Mingle on the first sea day. Quite frankly, RCCL was overwhelmed with the number who showed up. They assigned only one junior member of the Cruise Director's staff. By the time everyone had signed in and he made his speech and awarded raffle prizes, the time was up. That's right, at the conclusion of his remarks he told us to feel free to stay and meet one another, but that we needed to vacate the room in about ten minutes or so as another function was going to take place. Way to go, RCCL, "Here is your hat and coat. What is your hurry?"!! We did have a cabin crawl on the second sea day and it was terrific. We had made it a point to meet up and a group of us had the chance to visit cabins of Cruise Critic forum posters. Now my wife and I have been on 19 cruises and have only had a balcony on the last four. You should have seen the look on her face when she saw the size of an aft balcony. The Royal Family Suite left her speechless (and that does not happen often)! 6) Activities and Entertainment We have been on many cruises and quite frankly find the production shows to be old hat, thus we skipped them. You know you are getting old when you are in bed at 10 p.m. on a cruise! We do enjoy string music and looked forward to relaxing in the Ellington Lounge, but left after 15 minutes because it was so bad. We enjoyed the ice show on the Independence of the Seas and looked forward to it on the Mariner and were disappointed that it was only held earlier in the week. We expected it to be repeated later in the week. It wasn't! We enjoy trivia on sea days and participated in several. We love to read and were greatly disappointed with the limited selection and hours in the library. Although it was right around the corner from our room, books were locked up and could only be checked out for a couple of hours a day. I did speak to the staff on the last day and they said that previous to that week, it was open 24/7 and sign out was on the honor system. Evidently many, many books had sprouted legs and had walked off the ship. We did enjoy some historical lectures by a professor from Oregon State University on Mexcio which were held on all three sea days. What a refreshing change from those silly Port Shopping talks! 7) Port Reviews: See separate section below. 8) Disembarkation: The last day is a great deal of hurry up and wait, so we cleared our cabin by 8 a.m. and went topside for breakfast in the Windjammer. Since we were extending our stay in the LA area and did not need to make a flight, we played by the rules,reported to our assigned location and waited until our luggage tag color was called. Unfortunately, many others did not. By the time our color was called some 30 minutes later than the tentative time listed, the line to get off of the ship was huge. To make matters worse, once you found your luggage in the terminal, Customs and Immigration officials were overwhelmed and the line moved ever so slowly. 9) Post Cruise: Once we left the terminal with out luggage, we caught the van for Enterprise Car Rental which took us to their office where picking up our car for the day was a snap (again thanks to Cruise Critic posters for the advice). We spent three days in the LA area. Some highlights: *A visit to the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley. He is not one of my favorite presidents, but one can not overlook the historic value of the visit. *We stayed for three nights at the Comfort Inn in Santa Monica. Clean, safe, and convenient with a great breakfast. *We visited the Santa Monica Pier and found dinner at a place called Carrows to be excellent. *We took an all day tour of LA, Hollywood, and Beverly Hills through Star line Tours. They will pick you up and return you to your hotel. *Driving is surprisingly easy in the LA area even with the freeways, remember we are from New England where the streets of Boston are configured from old cow paths! My wife is a fan of the "Combat" television series from the sixties and we took some time exploring Franklin Canyon which is north of Hollywood. *We went to the Warner Brothers Studios to see a taping of the "Big Bang Theory" television series. What an experience! Warning--you must reserve tickets a month in advance on line and they go fast. *Our hotel was a ten minute drive from LAX and returning our rental car was a snap. We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and had a terrific cruise! Read Less
Sail Date October 2010
This was my parents Christmas gift to my brother's & my families. 12 of us--6 adults plus 6 kids from 9-15. Oct. 24-31. We have cruised Princess & Disney; Mom & Dad have done Celebrity, RCCL, Princess & NCL; Brother ... Read More
This was my parents Christmas gift to my brother's & my families. 12 of us--6 adults plus 6 kids from 9-15. Oct. 24-31. We have cruised Princess & Disney; Mom & Dad have done Celebrity, RCCL, Princess & NCL; Brother had only done Carnival. We flew into LAX the day before & had a limo waiting for the kids--they were tickled with the surprise! We stayed at the San Pedro Doubletree & was pleasantly surprised that it was more resort-like than I expected. We headed over to the port at 10:00 Sunday and there were about 50 in line in front of us. We were let in about 10:30. First led to one set of chairs, then called to check in, led to another set of chairs. Unfortunately they did not open for embarkation until 12:15, and then there was standing room only in our section, and hearing them call for numbers was an issue. We did embark with little issue, and were actually on board by 12:40--tho your room isn't "ready" until 1:00 (not much fun to haul carry ons..) Walked around a bit, dropped luggage, headed to Windjammer for lunch--BIG mistake. NOWHERE to sit. We chose to head back to Promenade for a calmer bite to eat. We had adjoining Oceanview cabins. Much nicer for the 5 of us than our Family Suite was on Disney. Always room for everything. I prefer Princess' set up with the large open closet that faces the bathroom, which gives privacy to dressing but does chop the room up a bit. We were on the second floor--loved the easy access to Promenade, casino. Ryan was a lovely lovely steward--he chatted often with us & the kids. It was too cool to hit the pool so we just toured the ship. We made the kids go to kids club & teen club the first night & they made fast friends and were there every evening--in fact, our 10 year old son spent 2 port days at kids club, his choice! Dinner with Henri was always wonderful--he knew what we wanted before we even asked. I was very pleased with RCCL food after hearing so many bad reports--I was particularly impressed with dessert & I'm not a dessert person (basically if it had coconut, I was in heaven; DD12 is a chocoholic & almost overdosed)! Also several pastas were great--and I don't consider myself a good pasta person! Escargots--YUM. Windjammer was remarkably good(not a huge buffet fan), but seating could be a real issue. Breakfast & lunch in MDR was fast & yummy. Promenade was good but I was sick of ham & cheese croissants by the end of the week. I really missed pizza & burgers by the pool on Princess. Just wished there were more free food choices. The ports were fine. Cabo the beach was FANTASTIC but the vendors are relentless. Mazatlan we never left the port shopping area; had fun at the bar/shopping there. Peurta Vallarta was a big hit w/ the kids--felt like FLorida. They insisted we hit the mall across the street first! Then headed to "downtown" for their first experience at Senor Frogs--thankfully it was not busy, but we had a very fun waiter. Sea days coming back were quite brisk (hit the pool on the first sea day!)--not exactly the warm pool days in the Caribbean. We did like the large whirlpools. We do feel that Princess had a wider range of activities available at any given time...there was some dead time for us this cruise (unheard of!)But by the end of the week we were in our groove. Bingo is busier on Princess, but trivia was busier (and Fun!) on RCCL. Love & marriage show, entertaining as always. Casino much bigger than Princess, but we like their hosts better--more visible. We did play in Poker tourneys--DH, DB & I all made the final 9 on Saturday; then we were top 3!! The guys got cash for 2/3 & I won a cruise on the Allure for first!!! Funny, as I had mentioned to DH that the Oasis or the Allure was my ship of choice for his 50th in 2 years...guess next Dec. it is! Disembarkation was smooth & fast; there was a bit of a delay getting our van, but it didn't take too long to get worked out. Overall, we felt that RCCL was comparable to Princess and would not hesitate to sail them again. The kids said RCCL was WAY better than DCL. I doubt we will sail MX Riviera again, prefer the heat & relaxed nature of the Caribbean. Read Less
Sail Date October 2010
Food Dining rating (1-10) overall an 8+ - lots of selection, steaks were well prepared and cooked to order! Very good service and attention to detail - our wait staff danced and sang for us - very talented!!! The buffets were quick and ... Read More
Food Dining rating (1-10) overall an 8+ - lots of selection, steaks were well prepared and cooked to order! Very good service and attention to detail - our wait staff danced and sang for us - very talented!!! The buffets were quick and well set-up - my only complaints: No really HOT salsa, and the Mongolian used VERY sub-standard chicken pieces (you know the kind....... was that really gristly chicken or something else?) California Rolls 10+++ everything we had there was great and good quality fish, and rolls and wasabi. Bar Service rating (1-10) overall 3- These guys/gals could not make a decent margarita.......... we are on a cruise to Mexico for crying out LOUD! Had a couple and had to move onto shots....... not sure what (if any) kind of tequila they used in their "rocks" margis. Two words... weak and tasteless! We finally found one lady that actually made a margi with some tequila in it - just couldn't find her often enough! My girl had the bloody marys and they were good (tobasco and Worstershire) but never got a large enough piece of celery to stir it - the garnish and flavor are the biggest part of a good bloody mary........ in my humble opinion. We would have spent at least 200% more (each) if the bar was better. Room Service rating (1-10) overall 10+++ Excellent / fast / food quality was great General housekeeping rating (1-10) 9+ Very good - They cleaned and manicured our room 3 times daily - and we tipped extra...........these guys are amazing!!! Shows, entertainment rating (1-10) 8 Good - we saw 4 comedians.... 2 of them were good, 1 great, 1 not too good. The larger production shows were good with laser effects, lots of good popular music (that's BIG coming from a DJ!) The live music on THE LIDO deck was good - the pre-recorded stuff they could have improved on..........many popular songs during the week were repeated - I just think you should have remixed stuff, and special versions of the popular stuff - maybe more dance stuff in the late afternoon / evening time slots - I know - DJs can be critical! I have nothing else to compare this to since it was our first cruise.... i am surprised at the quality of the water on board the ship (I took some home to test) Straight out of the tap in our bathroom the water measured 50 PPM TDS (50 parts per million total dissolved solids) The national limit is 500 PPM - our tap water at home measures 250 - 275 PPM - VERY IMPRESSED!!! I read a few reviews where they thought the water on the ship had made them sick - while I can't comment on bacterial content, I can say with confidence that the TDS content is better than most bottled water that I have tested over the years! Read Less
Sail Date September 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 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
My husband and I spent 2 nights at the Catamaran Resort and Spa in San Diego prior to our sailing. The hotel was nice. It's located in the Mission Bay area of San Diego, about 20 minutes from the pier. San Diego is a wonderful city, ... Read More
My husband and I spent 2 nights at the Catamaran Resort and Spa in San Diego prior to our sailing. The hotel was nice. It's located in the Mission Bay area of San Diego, about 20 minutes from the pier. San Diego is a wonderful city, we absolutely loved everything about it and hope to return there someday. Embarkation: Very quick and easy. We arrived at the pier about noon and were on the ship within 20 minutes. We couldn't access our cabin until 1 p.m., which meant we had to bring our carry-on luggage with us to the Windjammer, which was a bit of a pain but not such a huge deal. 5* for embarkation Baggage: DO NOT BRING A FLAT IRON with you....your baggage will be held up in security. My husband's suitcase never showed up and when we inquired about it we were told he had to go down to security. Well turns out they x-ray every suitcase and if they see a flat iron they won't allow it to be delivered. So they confiscate the iron and you get it back at the end of the cruise. I feel this is a way for RCCL to make extra money. We had to pay to have our clothes pressed. We sailed on Princess last Sept and were able to bring our iron. So people can smoke on board but you can't iron your clothes? Also some people's curling irons were confiscated, luckily mine made it through. Cabin: We had a Superior Oceanview Balcony stateroom. It felt very "roomy" and there was plenty of storage. The balcony has 2 chairs and a table. Yes, the shower is small but so is every other shower on every other cruise ship we've been on in the past. 5* for the cabin Cabin Steward: Ours was just "so so". Our first evening on board we came back to our cabin to find a dirty duvet on our bed. There were many large yellow stains all over the top of the duvet....obviously he HAD to have seen them if we did. We phoned the steward on call and 2 gentlemen came up immediately. As soon as they saw it they apologized and took it off and remade our bed. 3* for our steward Ship: Is beautiful! We've sailed on many different sized ships and the Radiance is by far our favorite. She's the perfect size. She never felt crowded (cruise was about 300 people shy of being sold out), the lay out is perfect and the common areas are very roomy. I especially loved the tasteful understated decor throughout the ship. I didn't see any signs or wear and tear that other reviewers have written about. I think for a ship that's 10 years old she's still very "Radiant". 5*+ for the ship Entertainment: Pleasantly surprised us. We've seen many "cruise ship" shows and after a while they all seem the same or worse then the last. Well, not on the Radiance. On our cruise there was a Tango dance couple from Argentina. The main show was designed around them and they were fantastic, I could have watched them dance all night. The Piano Man show with the RCCL singers and dancers was also very good. There was also a comedian and a juggler/comedian and both of them were very entertaining. So all in all I'd have to say the entertainment was very good. 5* for the entertainment Dining- Main dining room: So here is where we have seen the biggest drop in quality since we first started cruising over 18 yrs ago. I guess they have to cut back somewhere and unfortunately this is where we notice it. We ate 3 nights in the main dining room. The first night we had prime-rib and it was really good. The other 2 nights were really below average, limited choices, small portions, poorly cooked steaks etc. Our waiter would shake his head if he didn't think we should order something, and he kept saying "those were the days" when we spoke about cruise ship dining in the past. I remember when we first cruised we would order a couple of entrees because we couldn't make up our minds and everything including the desserts was so delicious. Not so much anymore. 2-1/2* for the food in the Main Dining Room Cascades Dining-Specialty restaurants: SAVED US!!! LOL!! Portofino is magnificent...from the service to the atmosphere to the food...PERFECTION! I ordered the Fillet Mignon and it melted in my mouth. I highly recommend this @ $20 per person it's well worth the money. Chops is also very good, not as nice as Portofino but still worth the extra expense. I had a wonderful Fillet Mignon here too. It's a nice break from the Main Dining Room and it is actually what dining USED to be like years ago on cruises...now you just have to pay extra for it. 5*+ for specialty restaurants The Windjammer: In my opinion, is the best laid out buffet restaurant of any cruise ship we've sailed on in the past. It never felt crowded. There were always plenty of tables available and there are a number of buffet stations. The food was always consistently good and hot and the choices were numerous. 5* for the Windjammer All in all we had a fabulous time. You really can't beat the value. My husband and I reflected on our past cruises and realized that 18 yrs ago we paid the same amount of money per person for our cruises as we paid for this cruise. The price really hasn't gone up in 18 yrs. The cruise lines are trying to keep this an affordable vacation, so in order to do that they have to cut back on some "extras". They no longer place a chocolate on your pillow at night, the toiletries in the staterooms are limited, the alcohol is very expensive ($20 and up for 2 glasses of wine) and the food quality has dropped significantly in the main dining rooms. BUT it's still a great value for the money. We paid just under $500 per person for a balcony cabin, so I'm not complaining by any means. Please don't read too much into the negative reviews on this site. If you keep in mind the amount of money you're paying for this vacation it's all relative. If you want 5*+ service then this is not the line for you, but if you're looking for a great vacation at a great value then it is. For what we spent....I'd rate it a 4* overall vacation. Read Less
Sail Date May 2010
We have cruised with RCI three times. We definitely noticed a change in the quality of food/service on this cruise. EMBARKATION: Very easy (less than 15 minutes in line), mainly because there were no other ships in port. This was ... Read More
We have cruised with RCI three times. We definitely noticed a change in the quality of food/service on this cruise. EMBARKATION: Very easy (less than 15 minutes in line), mainly because there were no other ships in port. This was definitely not the norm in our experience, so a nice surprise. CABIN: We had a junior suite, which was much roomier than the interior or balcony cabins. We had a lot of luggage and there was ample space to store it all once we unpacked. The closet was large and they had plenty of hangers. The shower/bathtub was much larger than other rooms. Our only complaint was that our sink drainpipe started to leak badly, and getting them to fix it was frustrating. We told our attendant, and when we returned to our room, someone had replaced the faucet! Of course, the faucet wasn't the problem. Wouldn't you think they would have checked for the problem before replacing a faucet? Although it was nice to see flat-screen TVs, the overall dEcor was dated, and it didn't seem as clean as it could have been. For example, they don't replace or clean the decorative pillows/bedspreads between cruises, and the mattress pad under our sheets was pretty gross. This really surprised me. Aren't cruise ships supposed to be overly clean to thwart the spread of viruses? CABIN ATTENDANT: We did not even see him for 2 days, and then he gave us our "orientation" in the hallway outside our room while we were on our way to dinner. His English was not very good so I had a bit of trouble understanding him. He did keep the room clean, but the service here was definitely sub-par when compared to other cruises. A note before you debark on Day 7: Put your "do not disturb" sign in the door. We had to report to immigration very early Sunday morning (a futile exercise, for which we had to stand in line for 45 minutes), and when we finally returned to our room, the door was wide open, and our luggage was still in our room. The attendants were close by but they had entered, removed our coffee, made the bed and cleaned the bathroom in preparation for the next guests! We still had 2 hours to wait in our cabin so I was not happy. I mean, really, it's like someone coming into your hotel room and making the bed before you have checked out! SPA: I go to the spa to relax, not to buy products. This REALLY bothered me. Once they finished with my manicure, out came the hard sell for the $40 moisturizing oil. I have never experienced this in any other spa. Another woman noticed the same thing (to the tune of $400). FOOD: We had second seating in the dining room, and noticed a big difference between our first cruise and this cruise. Portions were small and you had to ask for more bread/rolls if you could find the assistant waiter. I had steak two nights (off the side of the menu), and it was awful. We are not big eaters at all, but did not feel "full" once in the dining room. Some nights the food was better than others - it was hit or miss. A few women behind our table were coming to dinner dressed in short-shorts and halter tops! What is the point of a dress code if they do not enforce it somehow? Even a tactful note under the cabin door of the offending person(s) would suffice. We ate at Chops one night: amazing food, amazing service. Johnny Rockets was a lot of fun: great burgers, shakes and fries. The Windjammer was great as usual, although very full every time we went there. PORTS: This won't matter so much since RCI is pulling out of the Mexican Riviera next year. The wait for the tenders to Cabo San Lucas was disorganized, and we ended up standing in a stairwell with hundreds of other people for about 40 minutes. The line started on the 3rd floor and we had to disembark from the 1st floor. Many people were finding ways around the line and cutting in. Once we got to the mainland, it was good, although a bit overwhelming if you are not used to being bothered by vendors. It was very clean and we had a good lunch there. We also bought quality hats at the Hat Store, not the souvenir stands. Mazatlan: It was depressing, dirty and the only place we did not feel very safe if we walked off the beaten track. The cab ride to the shopping area was enough to make me find a religion. Even "The Shrimp Factory" restaurant recommended by the cruise ship was not very good. They leave sauces on the table all day and the shrimp I had was mediocre at best. Puerto Vallarta: Our favorite port by far. We signed up for the Dolphin Signature Swim at Vallarta Adventures and this was the highlight of our trip. Lots of great shops here too, especially the Rolling Stone leather shop. DEBARKATION: Wow, what a dose of reality. See note above re cabin attendants cleaning our room before we left. We had to report to immigration starting at 6:30 a.m., and it went downhill from there. It's like they love you for 6 days and want to boot you out the minute Day 7 hits. I understand it takes a lot of coordination to move that many people off a ship, but it was pretty horrible. When you go to the area indicated by your luggage tag, good luck hearing any sort of announcement. They really need to organize this better. Our waiting area was the ice rink, and when they finally called for our group to leave (very late), they sent everyone back up the stairs! Good luck to anyone in a wheelchair or with a walker because it was impossible to get an elevator. Other passengers had to assist many people by helping to drag their luggage up the stairs. But, considering everyone had their own luggage, it was very chaotic. Read Less
Sail Date May 2010
We were at the cruiseport at 12:30 pm having arrived at the airport at 11 o'clock. Checking in was a breeze, was able to go directly to our cabin and then had lunch at the Windjammer. The Ship was beautiful and really enjoyed the ... Read More
We were at the cruiseport at 12:30 pm having arrived at the airport at 11 o'clock. Checking in was a breeze, was able to go directly to our cabin and then had lunch at the Windjammer. The Ship was beautiful and really enjoyed the promenade and the entertainment they provided in the evening at the pubs. The food on the Mariner was good, we did have a lobster night and our waiter who knew we loved seafood gave us two lobster tails wiithout even asking for it! The entertainment was good but not fantastic, the shows needed to be updated, loved the skating show and quest was hilarious. Our favorite port was Cabo San Lucas. we booked our tours independently based on the great reviews on cruise critic, Our tour guide was Oliver and he was great. We booked our Mazatlan tour through Sharon and we had a problem with the time, we booked a 10 o'clock tour, confirmed it because our confirmation stated it was 9:30 on one page and on another page it was 10, the tour left at 9:30 and we were there at 9:40 we thought in plenty of time for the 10 o'clock tour, the company did not want to refund our $78 and after much correspondence they agreed to credit us half. We did book the tour right on the port with the trolley company it was a great tour very informative and it was $80 for the both of us would recommend that company to anyone. The second highlight of our tour was peurta vallerta where we went to a teguilla farm and got quite an education and sampling I might add on the art of making Teguilla, it was quite fun and the island tour was a great tour as well. We loved the Mariner of the Seas despite it being one of the "elder ships" we are booked on the Brillance of the seas in August and have allready booked some of our tours based on the reviews on Cruise Critic which is one of my very favorite sites. Read Less
Sail Date May 2010
We took the Voyager out of Galveston on April 4. The ship was delayed due to fog. Since we live in Houston, we just checked with RC throughout the day for boarding time updates. It was very convenient to be able to wait at home and not ... Read More
We took the Voyager out of Galveston on April 4. The ship was delayed due to fog. Since we live in Houston, we just checked with RC throughout the day for boarding time updates. It was very convenient to be able to wait at home and not have to worry about where to wait and what to do while the ship was delayed. Galveston is a convenient embarkation port for those within a few hours driving distance, but it's not the most attractive port for out of town tourists. There won't be nice beaches like Florida and the island is kind of rundown even more so after the hurricane. The main attractions are probably the historical architecture that survived the hurricanes. The embarkation process was as bad as others have posted. We waited 2 ½ hours in line before getting to our cabins. I could see the elderly and young children getting tired and weary. It's really a bad way to start off a vacation. We had a standard ocean view cabin. The furniture was dated, but in good condition. The cabin was clean and well maintained. Our cabin attendant was really friendly and professional. He did a great job and we were more than happy to tip him above the customary amount. The ship staff was exceptional- patient, solicitous, helpful, and really went out of their way for the passengers. I can't say enough how great the staff is on the Voyager. My child loved the Adventure Ocean (the kid's club) and the staff there. A lot of other kids became so attached to the staff that some were crying on the last night when they had to say good-bye. There were plenty of activities- performing skits, games, movies, dance party, etc. I was so pleased with how well they looked after my child, I was happy to tip the staff at the end of the cruise. The only problem I encountered was the check-in and check out process- there would long lines of parents on the crowded days. Overall, the food was average. It was probably the same consistency as a Luby's or IHOP. Some dishes were better than others. There was a wide variety in the Windjammer and even a picky eater should find something they like. Because I was with my 7 year old, spending one hour or so for dinner in the MDR was not easy and we opted for Windjammer most nights. I would cut the Voyager some slack on food- preparing meals for over 3,000 passengers for a week is difficult at best and so I didn't expect high end gourmet. During the ship talk, the cruise director mentioned that tens of thousand of pounds of meat and vegetable are loaded onto the ship for a week's cruise, so it would be impossible to prepare that much food spot on every time. We enjoyed Raotan and Cozumel, but not Costa Maya. It didn't have much charm and there's mot much to see around the port or town. Unless you take an excursion inland, there's not much to do except shop at this port. This cruise is targets Texans and those from neighboring states. We've lived in Texas for 15 years and have grown used to the customs and attitudes in this part of the country. The only reason I'm going to mention what happened to us on this cruise is so that people not familiar with this part of country aren't surprised. During our first in the main dining room, as soon as we approached our table and before we even took our seats or could say hello our dining companions asked us if we were middle eastern. As soon as I said no, their faces lightened up and smiled. During the first 30 minutes of the first dinner- they commented on well I speak English. I was born and raised in the US but I don't think they understood that people from all over the world legally immigrate to the US and have children who are just as American as anyone else born here. They also asked me if my child was named after a cult. Another dining companion lectured us on how the government is taking away our rights, etc. We were lucky that we missed these dining companions during the rest of the cruise- they weren't in the MDR the few other times we had dinner there. Not all passengers were like this and most passengers were friendly. But don't be surprised at ignorant questions or comments especially if you're not a typical middle American. Read Less
Sail Date April 2010
Cabin: The cabin was much better laid out and had more storage than the same category on Princess last year. Unfortunately, the toilet stopped working twice, right after morning coffee. We called maintenance and after 45 minutes went ... Read More
Cabin: The cabin was much better laid out and had more storage than the same category on Princess last year. Unfortunately, the toilet stopped working twice, right after morning coffee. We called maintenance and after 45 minutes went upstairs for relieve. The steward did an excellent job and we never had to request ice. The safe malfunctioned twice but maintenance was there in 5 minutes to fix it. Rating: 8.0 Room Service: Room service was awful. Two nights they failed to pickup the order form from the door, the two times I ordered eggs and hash browns, they were cold, we finally just gave up and ordered coffee and had breakfast at Windjamer. Rating 3.0 Dining: The dining staff was great except no one enforced the dress code. We saw two couples in shorts point at the sign that said "no shorts allowed in the dining room" laugh and walk past the greeter to their table. On Smart Casual night there was a guy at the next table in a sleeveless T. Shirt. The food was pretty good except for overcooked salmon one night, a well done "rare" steak one night and the lobster was not cooked fully one night. The buffet at the Windjammer was very good with lots of variety. Rating 7.5 Entertainment: Lots of variety and the band, singers and dancers were Las Vegas quality. Rating: 10 Ship: Great facilities, easy to find , very clean. Rating 10 Getting on and off the ship: The ports were we had to tender were a real pain. It was like the ship had never done this before. We were in line to get on a privately organized tour and the elevators emptied right int the middle of the line waiting to get off which resulted in us getting further and further back. Someone complained to the crew and they said they did not have enough staff to keep people getting off the elevators from merging in the front of the line. They could have roped it off in advance or something. The ports where we could walk off were no problem, no lines, no delays, and well managed. Rating: 5.5 Ports: The ports we visited were about what we expected. We had been to several of the same ones a couple of times and visited a couple of new ones and all were enjoyable. Read Less
Sail Date April 2010
This was our 4th cruise, 1st with Royal Caribbean.. Embarkation: we arrived at 12:30 at San DIego Pier- we were on the boat and in the Windjammer Cafe in less than 45 minutes- most of the line, and confusion was with security- Food: ... Read More
This was our 4th cruise, 1st with Royal Caribbean.. Embarkation: we arrived at 12:30 at San DIego Pier- we were on the boat and in the Windjammer Cafe in less than 45 minutes- most of the line, and confusion was with security- Food: Seaview Cafe was the best food on the boat- (also Vinnie at the bar was really nice) -the dining room was a mess- we ate there just 5 nights because we just could not take the 2 hour plus dining experience- the staff is stretched thin with very large (8-12 people) tables- the food was lack luster- the selection was limited- even compared to Carnival- it was hard to carry on a conversation because it was just so loud and it just wasn't all that fun. -the Windjammer Cafe - breakfast was pretty much the same thing everyday. omelets took about 8-10 minutes and they had smoked salmon every morning. Lunch was hit and miss- they have hot dogs and hamburgers, cold cuts and your basic lunch items- they had pretty good nacho makings. Dinner actually served pretty much everything that the dining room was serving minus the 2 hour dining time. The coconut cookies were a favorite. Room service- pretty decent- though the eggs and potatoes were laughable- cold potatoes and a small scoop of eggs wasn't what I had in mind. Though they are very quick- they would call the room and within 2 minutes would be there. We did not try the restaurants that were additional cost. Drinks were pricey, but they were not stingy with the booze; however if you have the soda package you will always get the fountain or from a 2 liter and alot of times the soda was flat! The Room: Overall size was good- adequate closet and storage(the life-jackets for 8 people were all in the closet) Bed- hard, felt like a pull out bed- back aches, neck aches you name it- 10 days on that bed was tough. Sheets were okay- no duvet cover or down. The pillows-one was more fluffy than the other, but again no down and they were uncomfortable- even Carnival has better bedding. The shower- felt like a 2 x 2 area; they tried to add more area by rounding the shower curtain, but it still is small (we nick-named it the 'stress box')- there was always water on the floor-and the water temp fluctuated alot- I found later at night you had the best shot of a shower that did not go cold in the middle of it. the faucet never warmed up unless you let it run for 3 minutes or more..We did not experience the plumbing problems- but we saw the wet/dry vac alot in the hallway. No music channels on the tv-not a big deal but when you are on the balcony some music would have been nice. No chocolates(!) and towel animals every other night. and why do they allow smoking on the balconies? I booked a non smoking room because I do not want to smell it! they have plenty of places on the ship to smoke- eliminate it from the balcony!! The ship: not sure why the ship creaks so much but it sounds like it needs to be dipped in WD-40. it, along with the bed, kept us up alot at night. It is a beautiful ship- and it is easy to get around. The pools are salt water and were really warm until after Cabo. The whirlpool had so much chlorine it stung your eyes to be in it. The solarium was a nice place but needed more air flow because of the chlorine fumes. The miniature golf course was fun. The rock wall was tried a couple times from a person in our party and he liked it- There was some points in the shops hallway that the floor gave alot...The theater was nice, but the sound was awful! 10 days the same movies rotated. I don't believe it was a full cruise as we sometimes found ourselves to be the only foursome on a deck or in an area- that was very nice compared to the larger ships out there. Entertainment: maybe I should pre-phrase this with we were not the average age on the boat- the average passenger age was above 50 so this may have had something to do with the entertainment being geared to an older crowd.. I personally could not sit through the song and dance shows, the magic show was entertaining. We spent most of our time in the Colony Club- that's where most of the action happens - they had a great Mambo band on board - The Mambo Trio- which were really, really good. The Quest game was hilarious! it is an adult scavenger hunt that you must see to believe. They really need to start the nightly entertainment earlier in the evening and earlier in the cruise- the pool tables were fun- they did make me a little woozy trying to focus on the ball and the table. Shopping: are all the on board shops on Carnival, R.C. and Celebrity owned by the same company? they had the same stuff for sale- same booze selection, same make up, same jewelry, same Christmas ornaments. Scrap-booking items?nothing for sale on the boat except some sad photo albums. Very disappointing. The staff: not sure if it was just me but the crew acted like they did not want to be there- there were some highlights like Al our stateroom person, Vinnie in the Seaview or Jonathon in the Windjammer but beyond that none of them really made a lasting impression. the best about that was it was not an automatic gratuity- which meant you could tip accordingly to their service level. Disembarkation- fast enough- we did hang out in the outdoor seating are in the Windjammer until almost 10:00- watching the crew wrap crates of silverware. Overall the Radiance was okay- we chose this cruise for the itinerary- we had a good time and maybe we will return to Royal Caribbean someday. Read Less
Sail Date April 2010
Embarkation at San Diego was quick and easy and it's worth mentioning that we stayed at the Holiday Inn just across the road from the cruise terminal which was amazingly convenient. The cabin (stateroom) and bathroom were clean and ... Read More
Embarkation at San Diego was quick and easy and it's worth mentioning that we stayed at the Holiday Inn just across the road from the cruise terminal which was amazingly convenient. The cabin (stateroom) and bathroom were clean and showed almost no sign of wear and tear. The itinerary was an excellent balance of ports of call and days at sea. There was a full day at sea at the start before arriving at Cabo San Lucas. On the return there were 2 days at sea after leaving Puerto Vallarta and we would have preferred the 2 days at sea to be at the start of the cruise as opposed to at the end of the cruise. The other places visited were Mazatlan, Acapulco and Ixtapa (Zihuatanejo). In Cabo we hit the beach which is lively and entertaining. In Mazatlan we did the canopy zip lining tour which we booked direct with the organiser via the web saving ourselves some $40 per person - great fun and recommended. In Acapulco we hired a taxi and guide for a 4 hour tour with the main aim of seeing the world famous divers which for us was just about the only thing worth seeing. We saw the divers from the El Mirador hotel where for a small fee we had 2 drinks each and we added some cheesy nachos. We had a fantastic view of the divers from our table on the shady terrace. In Zihuatanejo we went ashore for a couple of hours for a walk around the very pretty town where we noticed the ship's crew buying freshly landed fish on the beach. In Puerto Vallarta we spent the day on the beach where the swimming was excellent. On the days at sea we had no problem finding empty sunbeds however the incessant live music nearly drove us mad - whatever happened to some peace and quiet? Live music is great in small doses and especially if the band and singer are good - this band was pretty bad! The bar waiters always seem to be around when you least feel like a drink and then you can never find one when you do. Drink prices are high as is the compulsory service charge however you expect that with American cruise lines. What we dislike is the space for additional tips on all the cabin charge receipts and the need to fill out the total before signing. We believe that this puts passengers under pressure to tip even though the 15% service charge is already added. We ate breakfast in our cabin most mornings in an attempt not to eat too much. Room service is not bad but one morning our breakfast came almost an hour earlier than requested. Often the order was incorrect and one of our biggest grumbles is that the hot water for tea is delivered in a jug that has been used for coffee therefore the water is always tainted by coffee flavour and makes the tea taste revolting. Royal Caribbean - you have to do something about this because the staff do not understand the frustration when they consistently keep bringing coffee flavoured hot water for tea. The only way to get a decent cup of tea was to either buy it at Lattetudes or after dinner when it was served in a proper tea pot. Breakfast and lunch in the Windjammer cafe is excellent and the quality of the food cannot be faulted. In fact the food in the Windjammer is far superior to the food served in the main restaurant (Cascades). The only complaint we had about Windjammer is the time it takes for the tables to be cleared after they have been vacated especially on the outside terrace where the staff don't appear to be under supervision. However we now wish that we had eaten in the Windjammer for some of our dinners as the food is so much better. The service we received in the restaurant was excellent by our waiter Sergey and his assistant. However apart from a few exceptions the food was a disappointment. The food delivered often did not resemble the menu descriptions and the main thing missing was taste! On 3 occasions we ate in the premium restaurants at a supplement of $20 per person which is well worth the additional charge. The Chops Grille was good but not fantastic however the Portofino was excellent. Wine is very expensive and we purchased the Platinum wine package to try to get some of the better wines at a slight reduction. Again the service charge is a killer! The entertainment was very good as far as cruise ship entertainment goes however we still don't like the shows for second sitting diners being before dinner as opposed to after. We only saw 3 shows as a result and would definitely had seen more if they followed dinner. The Starquest nightclub and bar on deck 13 is a great venue with its revolving bar - much better than being housed below decks like on the bigger ships. As usual though with all Royal Caribbean and Celebrity DJs the DJ played music that he liked and not what the audience wanted unless it was a themed night e.g. 70s, 80s or Motown. Also he was quite rude, even over the microphone when we pointed out that no one was dancing. It's unfortunate when staff forget who the customers are. However we met a great crowd of people in this bar and we managed to have a great time despite the DJs choice of music and as mentioned it is the same on all Royal Caribbean and Celebrity ships we've cruised on. We did chat to the Cruise Director about it and he sympathised and apologised. The cabin was kept very clean however our cabin attendant was not exactly the most friendly of people although polite at all times. Be warned - don't use the laundry facilities as your clothes will be ruined. They will either shrink or be discoloured. We had a number of shirts and T shirts laundered on board and they are ruined, not noticed until we returned to the UK. All in all we had a great holiday and despite the moans about food etc above we would still cruise with Royal Caribbean if the itinerary suits and the choice of cruise lines is limited and preferably on a Radiance class ship. However there are visible cutbacks and it is reflected in the quality of the food which after all is a key element of the cruise. We believe that this needs to be addressed by the company otherwise passengers will migrate to other companies. Read Less
Sail Date April 2010
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