Mariner of the Seas
September 7, 2008
I sailed on the Mariner of the Seas on Sunday, September 7th through the 14th. This was my husband and I's second cruise. Our first cruise was last year on the Carnival Triumph - and that was EXCELLENT! I felt there was just something missing on RCI that Carnival had (more detail later). Anyway, we were traveling with my family. We flew from Boston to Orlando the Saturday morning before our cruise. We then took a shuttle to Port Canaveral, which is about 50 minutes away - a very nice, relaxing drive. We stayed at the Country Inn and Suites. This is probably one of the best hotels I've ever stayed in! The staff was very helpful and friendly, the place was spotless, and it had everything! It has a great pool, hot tub, arcade, gym, and free breakfast. I highly recommend this place! It was a Saturday night so they also had a free shuttle to nearby places, so we took it to Fish Lips, a restaurant right on the water. That place was so much fun! Great family environment and great food!
The next morning, we took the hotel's shuttle to the port at about 10:30am. About 10 minutes later, there we were at the port - staring at the Mariner. What a beautiful ship! She is HUGE! (Just wanted to add, for a big ship with so many people - we never felt crowded - no lines, it was good!) Very sharp looking. It also towered over the Disney Wonder and the Carnival Sensation that were in port that day. We went through security and then we were off to show our Sail Pass. The line went quick and we had our Sail Pass card and were all checked in - all in about 10 minutes! We couldn't board yet so we waited in a row of chairs for about 10 minutes more. Then it was time to board! The whole process was very easy and quick - I think Port Canaveral is a lot nicer, more organized, and quicker than Miami (which we did last year).I will definitely do Port Canaveral from now on!
My first step into the Mariner, I was in shock! How beautiful and big! haha Much nicer interior than the Carnival Triumph that we sailed last year - and a LOT bigger too! We took some photos of her and then made our way up to the Windjammer (Deck 11) for lunch.
While on the topic of the Windjammer, this is probably a good time to mention my first disappointment - the food on the Mariner. The food was just okay - tolerable. I just wasn't that impressed - which, in a way was good, it meant I didn't pig out as much! haha Usually for lunch I just had a cheeseburger or hot dog and fries. I'm a picky or 'selective' eater so I don't eat weird 'fancy' stuff, haha. Most of the food on the Mariner was fancy things. Even the desserts weren't of my liking. The only thing I did like were the cookies - but sadly, those were usually hard as a rock. The cakes, pies, etc. were more European desserts, which I'm not a fan off. I'd prefer simple Ring Dings and Oreos, haha. Gosh did I MISS the chocolate cake from Carnival. Oh, and Carnival's chocolate melting cake. Gosh, I'll just say it - I missed ALL of Carnival's food! I simply couldn't get enough of the food on the Triumph. But the Mariner left me hungry and craving more 'normal' food. I wasn't even impressed in the dining room. I had chicken breast and a baked potato every single night! haha I don't like my food with extra weird sauces on it and things like that. But if you're into fancy foods, like my hubby is, you'll love the Mariner! ** But, let me say, that the Jonny Rockets is EXCELLENT! Now that is real food! haha We went there twice! Well worth the $3.95 a person. And don't forget to have the Oreo Sundae!!!! **
After eating lunch, we walked around the whole ship. I was really impressed by her. Then at 1pm exactly, we went to our stateroom - 6643, and interior cabin on deck 6. It was definitely smaller than our cabin on the Triumph (which had a porthole). I will never do an interior again. It was way to dark - which made me never want to get out of bed, haha. I NEED a window. But, we made the best of it. The bathroom is REALLY tiny and don't get me started on the shower! haha But at least it had a real shower door. What I wasn't happy with was 1) there were no nice Royal Caribbean beach towels - they were simple yellow ones (Carnival had nice blue Carnival logo towels) that looked like bath towels; 2) there were no RCI bath robes (Carnival gave us two Carnival bath robes); and 3) there was no basket of free samples in the bathroom (Carnival gave a nice assortment of samples!). I'm sorry, but if RCI is 'better' and costs more, why doesn't it have these same simple things like Carnival??? Doesn't make much sense to me!
Next, I'll talk about the shows and entertainment. Once again, RCI did not live up to the Carnival standards. The two parades were okay - not too exciting and kind of childish - not to mention short! The shows were mostly singers and dancers - I prefer more Comedians and other upbeat, fun shows. But, they were good - not bad - but just not lively! The comedian juggler was HILARIOUS though!!!! He's not to be missed! I also found myself missing a lot of the activities by the pool as well.. I just didn't expect them to be good, so I didn't bother! Which is pretty sad! haha I went to EVERYTHING on the Carnival ship! We spent a lot of time napping, eating, and walking the promenade on sea days.
Staff - wow is all I can say! haha While most of the crew on the mariner were very nice, helpful, and went out of their way to make your day - there were many I saw who weren't friendly! I walked by many who didn't even say hi to me. I saw some Windjammer staff huffing and puffing and looking bored. I never saw this on the Carnival Triumph - everyone on that ship smiled and said hi. I guess it just depends on the ship, but that really did turn me off to RCI. The cruise director Abe was okay, he was funny, but he wasn't that exciting. The BEST crew member had to be Simeon at the Schooner bar!!!! I swear I spent 80% of my cruise at that bar, haha. He is a piano player and he is hilarious! I'd go on the Mariner again JUST to see him! He really made my week! Go see Simeon!Ports of Call:
- Labadee, Haiti was our first stop. It was pretty rough seas on our way there, since we were getting the back part of Ike. Luckily I never get seasick. Labadee is a very nice beach area. We went directly to Hideaway beach at the end tip. It's quiet here and the sand is nice. Water was warm and beautiful - perfect. You also get a great view of the ship. There was a bathroom right there and the food buffet is right near the beach too - great location. The food buffet wasn't that great, I was pretty disappointed. Again, I was expecting RCI to be better than Carnival, but my expectations were not met. After a day on the beach, eating lunch, and walking around, we headed to the market. Oh my gosh! How pushy they were! Somehow we bought two bracelets for $15, haha. But oh well, I hope we made their day and helped that guy and his family out. I was pulled, tugged, yelled at, and everything else by people trying to get me to buy their things. I had to run out of there. I think they would sell more if they weren't so pushy!
- Montego Bay, Jamaica - We were supposed to go to Ocho Rios, but some other ship was there, so we went to Montego Bay instead. Hubby and I did the Negril Express and Shopping tour - it was a lot of fun and I really suggest it! It takes about 1.5 hours to drive to Margarittaville in Negril. We really got to see the real Jamaica this way. Wow, those people are really poor. It makes you appreciate what you have back home. After a few hours on the beach, we did 30 minutes of shopping, then drove back to the ship. It was a fun relaxing day and I also felt like I learned alot about the country. Our tour guid was great! There were only like 10 people on our tour too, which was good.
- Grand Cayman - Sadly, due to high waves, we couldn't get off the ship. I was really upset because I was going to do the Moby Dick sting ray tour. Hopefully I'll go back!
- Cozumel, Mexico - Wow it was hot! haha Very nice mall at the port, so if you like shopping, you could stay busy there all day! We had wanted to do the Sandals all inclusive resort, but it was full, so we did the all inclusive beach break at Play Mia. I don't think it was worth the money. The beach was nice and we met two nice people there and chatted the day away under the warm sun - but the food was lacking. I was hoping for cheeseburgers, fries, etc. but it was Mexican food - nothing I would eat. And the open bar wasn't that good. So, I don't think it was worth the $70 a person. Definitely do the Sandals one!
The last day of our cruise, we went to find our photos - we had them taken as we boarded, on the ship, at dinner, and at every port… but we had ONE photo in our folder! We couldn’t find any of them. We tried the photo finder machine, but had no luck. We got frustrated and just gave up! RCI lost some of our money because of that! The photo center was very disorganized.
Getting off the ship was very easy - took maybe 30 minutes. My mom and dad sadly didn't find one of their suitcases when leaving. I don't know if they have it yet or not. We then drove by shuttle to the airport and headed home on a 11am flight.
Overall, we had a great time! The ship is unbelievable... but the food, crew, and activities had me missing the Carnival Triumph! I think next time, I'll try a newer Carnival ship. RCI really didn't impress me that much, sorry to say it. Everyone had told me I'd love it so much more, etc., but I didn't see it.
On a funny note, last year on my first cruise, I had tripped on the wet floor by the pool and fell on my butt in front of everyone. Well, I couldn't disappoint anyone this year and fell on a wet floor on deck 5 on the royal promenade and landed face down in front of everyone! hahah Do I have bad luck or what???? :) Happy cruising everyone!