The Mariner had just come out of a seven day ("million dollar a day") dry dock in the Bahamas, and the crew was busy with final clean up when we arrived at the pier in Fort Lauderdale. Except for a few nuts and bolts on our verandah and on a shelf in the library, they seemed to have done a thorough job, and we boarded perhaps half an hour later--around noon. (I should note that some of the cabins did not have their carpeting replaced at the dry dock, and passengers were asked to leave their cabins for about three hours during the cruise so that this could be done. They were not happy about this.) There was a buffet lunch while we waited for the rooms to be made up, and we were in our cabin by 2:30.
We were in a "Deluxe Suite" on Deck 8. Our travel agent had arranged for two bottle of wine, but since the new policy on Regent Seven Seas is open bars, we eventually took them home. The cabin, even in this "lowest" category is spacious, with a walk-in closet. The only problem is the combination bathtub/shower. If you are over 6', as I am, you can't stand upright to take a shower, and my 5'3" wife had some difficult climbing in when the ship was rocking, which it did for the first day as we passed through the Florida straights. Some of the cabins have showers, and my understanding is the rest will eventually be converted, but if I sail on the Mariner again, I'll definitely try to get one with a shower only.
After the mandatory lifeboat drill, the ship had a "block party." We were encouraged to go out into the hallway and meet our neighbors and some of the staff, including the Captain and the president of the line, while having wine and canapes. Its a clever idea and definitely broke the ice.
The restaurants on the Mariner are the main dining room, the Compass Rose, where no reservation is necessary, and three specialty restaurants, which require reservations. On this cruise, billed as a Radisson Diamond reunion, La Veranda became Don Vito's, an Italian trattoria experience that was a popular feature on the Diamond, at night. Signatures has a French menu, and Latitudes has a set course Vietnamese/French menu. All of the restaurants have excellent food and service, and there are no extra charges for eating anywhere. A fine selection of wines is offered at all times.
After my wife took a Dramamine on our first day at sea, we settled into a pleasant routine of breakfast and lunch in La Veranda, cocktails and hors d'oeurves in the Observation Lounge while watching the sunset, followed by dinner at the restaurant du jour. We were at sea on Easter, and the lunch buffet on deck was spectacular--including grilled lobsters and steaks, Alaskan king crab, shrimp, Jonah crab claws, and (my personal benchmark for real luxury) caviar with all the trimmings.
One new feature added at the drydock is a coffee bar outside the library and computer room on Deck 6. My wife really liked the coffee there and took to bringing her own cup up to breakfast in La Veranda.
We went to the daily tea time team trivia, which is another good way to meet fellow passengers. I tend to take things like this a little too seriously and was frustrated when half the questions were repeats by the sixth or seventh day, and a number of the answers given were wrong. (I was reading an excellent biography of Mark Twain from the ship's library, and Tom Sawyer was not the first novel written on a typewriter. Incidentally, Mark Twain's Innocents Abroad is the story of the very first luxury cruise.) Well, we had a good time anyway.
There were production shows, comedians, a magician (my personal favorite), singers and other musicians. I went to one talk on watches, but gave most of the lectures a bye. All of the art on board seemed to be for sale, which may indicate its quality, but a number of passengers seemed to be happy with their purchases. The first and only thing I had to sign for on board was a photograph we bought the last day.
For us the Caribbean ports were secondary to life on board, although my wife has yet to make a visit to St. Barths without buying one or more La Perla bathing suits, which she assures me are less expensive than at home. We signed up for a two week cruise on the Navigator (after I checked out the shower situation) next year.