Mariner of the Seas
September 3, 2006
The Mariner is a nice ship. My wife and I have sailed on her sister ship (Navigator) and it is very similar.
Overall I would say that this was a pleasant cruise. My intent is not to go over all of the basic things that make this cruise wonderful, because there are plenty of other cruise reviews that do that. My intent is only to be very picky and list the few things that we noticed/encountered that others may like to know before booking this ship. Again, I know that this "review" will appear to have been written by a grumpy old man, but I simply am focusing on a couple areas where improvement could take place.
First off, the cruise director, Kirk Detweiler, worked his way up in the cruise industry as a singer and dancer, so he starts the cruise by singing a song. Apparently he actually got some record label to record a cd of him singing and I read something in the literature given out on the cruise about him singing some song called "Drunk Girl" that was "regionally" popular. No offense Kirk, but I never heard of that song, but then again I am not from Ohio, which is the region that I assume must have made it popular. He is a decent singer, and I think he is even better than any of the singers currently on the ship.
The food is what you expect from Royal Caribbean. I love seafood and I enjoyed almost everything that I ate. My wife hates seafood and she is a generally picky eater, and she did not like much of the food, and out of three steaks that she ate (on 3 different nights), she only liked one (the filet).
The desserts that are available in the Windjammer and dining room are only so/so, as is typical with most RCL and Carnival ships. I am not sure why, but my experience is that RCL and Carnival cannot make a decent cheesecake no matter how hard they try. However, head down to deck 5 to the Café promenade where the desserts that are available there are usually better than you will find elsewhere on the ship. Also, they ALWAYS have cookies available at the Café Promenade.
For some weird reason there is no place on the ship where you can obtain a free drink after 9pm except from room service (at least three crew member told us this was a fact, including two in the Windjammer). I am not sure why they do not make the ice tea, lemonade or water available after 9, but prepare yourself for that if you get thirsty and are a cheapskate.
The ice show was amazing. We have seen other ice shows and we believe that they have been some of the best shows that we have ever seen on our 25 cruises. However, the RCL singers and dancers leave much to be desired. One glaring deficiency was that the quality of dancers was much lower than the quality of ice skaters. Also there is a major difference between the bodies of the ice skaters (in good physical condition) and that of the dancers (at least 2 or 3 women who are visibly overweight with their guts hanging out).
If you cruise the eastern Caribbean, the cruise director will warn you of the horrors of getting off the ship at Cococay at the peak time (9-10 am) and he will try and get you to line up very early. Don't believe the hype. We lined up at the exact time that he said there would be an hour-long wait and we got off the ship in 3 minutes and the only wait was 5 minutes waiting for the tender to leave for the island.
There is a night where some guys sing Motown songs. Go and see that. Don't mistake this performance as being a low quality one from the ship's regular dancers. We met multiple people who skipped this Motown performance because they had assumed that it was the regular dancers and they didn't want to waste their time watching those dancers again after the first night.
The performance with the singing and comedian (two guys: one on guitar and one on synthesizer) is worth going to.
The Bald comedian who performs a short routine at the beginning of the cruise comes back and does a late night, "R" rated performance which was funny.
Here is a warning for the few people who bring their own snorkel gear with them. If you plan on snorkeling on CoCo Cay, they will require you to wear a life vest. They actually made me get out of the water and get a vest. Then, after they give you the vest, later in the cruise you discover that they charged you $6 for "renting" that vest that you didn't need or want. They will refuse to remove that charge. It is a big scam that RCL does and it is an embarrassment. I could care less about the couple of bucks, but it was a crying shame that they refused to remove the bogus charges from the accounts of the several people whom I spoke with who were forced to take the life vest. Most of the snorkelers who were scammed by this were experienced snorkelers who dove down under water (thus, neither needing nor wanting the life vest). In fact, the RCL officials even instructed everyone how to deflate the vest so to defeat the life-saving properties of the vest. I doubt that anyone from RCL ever reads these cruise reviews, but if they read this, please change this ludicrous policy, and instruct your SeaExplorer staff on how to avoid angering loyal customers. I didn't even want to include this in my review, but several snorkelers who felt "tricked" by this "scam" requested that I detail it so others could be forewarned. Some of these people had a nice cruise but appeared to have fixated on this "scam" to the point that they surely will produce more negative publicity than RCL could imagine.
Overall, we enjoyed our cruise, and my intent in this "review" is to point out where RCL can improve.