This sailing on Mariner of the Seas was the western Caribbean itinerary. There were 11 of us total in our group and we had taken an extra day at the start of the cruise and stayed at the RCCL hotel in Orlando near Universal Studios. We were met at the airport by a RC rep… that assisted us in getting the shuttle van to the hotel. Sunday morning we left the hotel at 10:30am enroute to Port Canaveral and the ship.
Cabins were small… but this is expected. Overall, cabins were clean and furniture and bedding in good shape. There is plenty of hanging space in closet… and also lots of shelves and drawers in closet and desk/bureau. Bathrooms are decent sized… lighting is a little harsh when looking in the mirror. Shower capsule could be bigger as there is just enough room to turn around. Had one problem, the previous guests had locked the safe before leaving, and Stephen the stateroom attendant had already put a call into maintenance to unlock it for me when we met. Stephen was very personable and would spend time chatting and getting to know his guests.
We arrived at the port shortly after 11:15, and the whole process of getting on board went very smoothly. We had all printed the Set Sail pass before leaving and the whole process was quick and painless. From the time we got off the bus, it took no longer than 15 minutes to get our SeaPass, picture taken and be onboard. We were told cabins would not be available until 1 PM, and we proceeded to the Windjammer for a quick bite to eat and then went to sit poolside. Luggage arrived by 3 PM for most everyone in our group, however, my luggage did not arrive until after 4:30 PM
Ate in the dining room every night and was pleased with our dinners. Selections and portions were ample. The appetizers were always tasty. Prime rib dinner on first night was just good, but the cut of meat was not as tender as you can get in most restaurants. Lobster was excellent!! There was only one meal that I was not impressed with in the dining room and that was the evening when pork chops was on the menu. I order from the alternative menu that evening (Cod fillet), and found it lacking in flavor. Waiter was exceptional and had great attitude in adjusting to our group. She called us all by our names throughout the cruise and always made sure that the children in our group enjoyed their meals. She learned they like mozzarella sticks and bought a plate each night for each of them along with any of the other appetizers they wanted to try.
Bar service was exceptional in the dining room. After the first night, Beto our bartender asked if everyone would like the same drink the next night… and we all did. Each night thereafter, our drinks were waiting for us at the table when we arrived. If we wanted a different drink, he would take care of it… at no charge. The head waiter was exceptional! We had a birthday at our table the first night. He made due with something from the dessert menu to make sure we could celebrate. Some of us from the table ordered just the iceberg of lettuce (which is not on the menu) and he would stop and cut the head of lettuce up. He also did this several other nights when there were “tricky” selections on the menu (lobster tail, shrimp). Only complaint in the dining room was the assist waiter was somewhat slow. Regularly had to ask for a second round of breads, and he repeatedly refilled one of the girls Sprite with water.
Usually ate breakfast in the Windjammer, which had ample selections of eggs, fruits and other breakfast essentials. Selections here were always ample. Could never find fresh strawberries in the fruit assortment which was sort of disappointing. Staff was always ready to take care of any requests you may have. Also had late afternoon snack on the Promenade Cafe, which served pizza, finger sandwiches, tortes and cookies. Pizza was OK, but desserts were very tasty.
We missed the welcome show due to our dinner the first night, but we did see the other shows. There were two big production shows by RC singers and dancers. Both shows were well done and very professional. The second show which focused on music of the 80s may have lost some people from the older generation, but that was made up by one of the best bookings I have ever seen. Revolution, which is a Beatles revue, was without a doubt the best show of the week. The comedian/musical impressionist was also very entertaining and left us all with sore sides from laughing so hard. The ice show is a must see… and won’t say much other than it is truly incredible what they can do on a moving ship!!
Nightlife on board was great as well. A couple of us sampled each bar the first night and found the Schooner Bar our favorite. The bartender Charmie was one of the best bartenders I have ever had on a cruise. He was a true entertainer… not just your bartender. This bar was filled every night of the cruise… with many of the same passengers each night. The piano player was also very good… getting the crowd involved. The Dragon’s Liar disco was also very popular place, especially with the many college students on board.
The Quest show was very funny and should not be missed. James Andrews is the cruise director and he did a great job. His staff was also very easygoing and accommodating and everyone wanted to make sure you had a great cruise experience.
PORTS OF CALL
Labadee was beautiful and the best stop in the itinerary. BBQ lunch on the beach and temps in the 90s made it perfect.
Jamaica was nice… some of us did Dunn’s River Falls… I did the Canopy Tour, which was a blast. Tour lasted about an hour longer than it was supposed to which cut into time doing exploring in Ocho Rios.
Grand Caymen was very disappointing. We all did the Stingray City excursion, which was over crowded as there were 6 ships in port on this particular day. Stingrays seemed to be very scarce and we were told that it was an unusual occurrence.
Cozumel was nice and is recovering from the hurricane damage. Some of us did scuba diving and I was pleasantly surprised that the reefs was not damaged and the fish plentiful. Was a better diving experience than I had in St Thomas the previous year.
Captain Johnny – what a character. His noon announcement was a highlight every day!
Ship was beautiful and well taken care of. When people left room service trays outside cabins, staff quickly picked it up.
Biggest annoyance was at the pool deck with the bar staff selling drinks during the day. At times it became obnoxious and over the top. Please no more pina coladas.
Excellent. Took a total of 15 minutes to get off ship, go through customs and retrieve baggage from the carousel.