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Royal Caribbean International: Mariner of the Seas

Mariner of the Seas Review

Insider Take

Best For People Who Want

A bigger-than-life cruise experience with nearly unlimited activities; the feeling of being in a city-at-sea; family members of many ages to have a grand time; non-stop nightlife.

Decor

Clean, simple and tasteful, featuring a lot of Art Nouveau influence, seems just right for a ship this size. The atrium boasts a beautiful fiber optic sculpture rising several stories. The ship's well-placed art is surprisingly sophisticated. Particularly notable are the Georgian-style dining rooms, a stunning tucked-away lounge for smokers called the Connoisseur Cigar Club (to which you'll have to ask directions); and the elegant Champagne Bar, with curvaceous champagne-colored leather banquettes.

Public Rooms

The breathtaking Royal Promenade - four decks high, longer than a football field, wider than three lanes of traffic - has no windows, but is always dazzlingly illuminated, as only befits a venue for Mardi Gras-style parades complete with stilt walkers, a swaying inflatable dancer, streamers and confetti.

The enormous Casino Royale, through which passengers must pass to get to the main show lounge, is gilded to within an inch of its life, with nearly 300 slots and tables for blackjack, craps, roulette and Caribbean Stud Poker. The disco pulses into the wee hours. Floor-to-ceiling seawater tanks teeming with Day-Glo tropical fish flank the Aquarium Bar. The well-stocked library, which feels like an urban bookshop, provides seating along its glass wall for an overview of the Royal Promenade. The Viking Crown Lounge is perched 14 decks above the ocean. You can get married in port in the ship's Wedding Chapel, bringing up to 60 of your closest friends and families.

The gorgeous La Scala Theater, a state-of-the-art 1,350-seat show lounge, features such decorative elements as a Murano glass chandelier and a jewel-bedecked velvet stage curtain.

That ice rink you hear so much about is a two decks below the atrium and right in the middle of the ship, which means some fancy footwork is sometimes required to get to other public areas. In fact, the great and spacious interior of the ship is almost completely surrounded by private cabins, so to get any look at the ocean at all you'll have to head for the cluster of lounges on the upper decks or outside on the decks themselves.

Amply decked out with recliners, the pool areas bustle with activity and also are the staging area for fashion shows and planned games. The real action takes place on the sports deck, where fitness fans work up a sweat playing ping-pong, basketball or rock-climbing. Families flock to the open-air 9-hole miniature golf course. There is inline skating on a well-padded track.

The best spots for being alone with a book during days at sea are the sea view Seven of Hearts card room and Cloud Nine Lounge on Deck 14. Serious misanthropes can retreat all the way up the curving stairway to Deck 15's Skylight Chapel, where no one ever ventures, and where no music is piped in.

Cabins

Royal Caribbean is known for small cabins, inside cabins are just about big enough to turn around in. Hats off to Royal Caribbean, though, for not skimping on balcony cabins. Actually, cabins are roomier than elsewhere in RCI's fleet. Inside cabins do measure a stingy 160 sq. ft; but outside cabins range from 180 to 265 sq. ft. and suites from 610 to 1188 sq. ft. Moreover, there's lots of storage, especially nice for a ship that essentially goes nowhere. Standard amenities include color TV with CNN and movies; a safe; individual temperature controls; and RCI's first hair dryers. There are tubs only in the highest category staterooms' bathrooms; most have just showers (though unexpectedly large ones) with medicine cabinets.

If you book an interior cabin, be aware that the cabins come with twin beds, one against each wall. If you attempt to put them together for a single king-size bed you will not have enough room to get around the corners of the bed.

Children's Facilities

Royal Caribbean has made a number of improvements to youth and teen programming. One new program is Adventure Theater, developed by Camp Broadway in New York City to give kids an immersion into the performing arts. On each RCI sailing, teens and kids can learn acting fundamentals, vocalization, and dance techniques during a series of three 45-minute Adventure Theater sessions.

Another innovative program is Scratch DJ101 classes, which are available to all ages, along with special two-hour sessions just for teens on Liberty of the Seas. After their lessons, teens can showcase their music mixing knowledge in a graduation performance that friends and family can attend.

RCI has added new activities for those three to five years old in conjunction with Fisher-Price. Some of the new themes include Chefs on Deck, which involves role playing for preschoolers; Dino Adventure; and Train-O-Mania.

Lastly, RCI unveiled a Youth Loyalty Program this summer. Children and teens can now also enjoy Crown & Anchor Society repeat passenger benefits. Rewards for youngsters on their second or more RCI cruise include Crayola Twistable crayons or a Royal Caribbean bag. All repeating youth receive a Youth Ultimate Value Booklet with coloring pages, games and discounts for onboard amenities such as Ben & Jerry's, Airbrush Tattoo, and arcade games. Parents can enroll their children (if they have already cruised with RCI) via the line's website: www.royalcaribbean.com/youth.

A new program for infants and toddlers 6 months to 3 years, in partnership with toy maker Fisher-Price, offers 45-minute playgroups for children accompanied by an adult, involving storytelling, creative arts, music and a variety of Fisher-Price learning toys and games.

Private babysitting is offered from 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 a.m., provided sitters are available, for children from one year old. The rate is usually between $8.00 and $10 per per hour depending on the number of children in the family. Cash payment is made directly to the sitter. Arrange through Guest Services at least 24 hours in advance.

Attire

There are two formal nights per cruise. Maybe it's this ship's particularly festive reputation that induced most men onboard our sailing to don actual tuxedos for formal nights. A dark suit is just as appropriate. In general, though, this ship offers so much to do onboard that passengers don't all dress alike.

Overview

One of the Voyager-class vessels; received a major upgrade in 2012 for new entertainment, dining and drinking.

Should Be Avoided By People Who Prefer

A small ship with lots of quiet; large inside/outside standard cabins; single, open seating or intimate dining; a close-to-the-sea cruise.

Onboard Experience

Mariner of the Seas was the fourth in the series of Voyager-class vessels, entering service in 2002. Mariner is a nearly identical to her sister Navigator, also featuring an ice skating rink, rock-climbing wall, in-line skating track, horizontal atrium, and inside-facing cabins with a promenade view. Like Navigator, this 3,114-passenger ship appeals to people of all ages - from kids to seniors - and with nearly every taste, and there are a few enhancements that won't be found on Voyager, Explorer or Adventure of the Seas. In addition to the Portofino's Restaurant found on all the sister vessels, you also get a chance to try Chop's Grill. The sports bar found on the earlier ships has been replaced by Vintages, a wine bar/cellar for tasting and purchases, and the sports bar theme is given over to the existing 19th Hole Club. The balconies on this ship extend further out from the side of the vessel, availing more light to the cabin, hydraulic lifts for the physically challenged have been added in places not present on the earlier ships.

There are a full three miles of public corridors, but the hallways are occasionally "jiggered" so you don't get a sense of the full distance, plus excellent signage precludes anyone getting too grievously lost. There is a severe shortage of elevators, with but two banks of four to service 3400 people over 14 decks. Wait times can be excruciating.

A simple "let's go see the ship!" comment on day one leads you out the door, and by the time you return to your cabin you will feel like Marco Polo. The 500-foot-long, four-deck-high Royal Promenade, all too evocative of an onshore mall, is like a real street, with a cherry-red British Morgan car parked outside the faux English Pub. The promenades are lined with cafes, a 24-hour eatery for pizza, pastries and sandwiches. Shops, including souvenirs, liquor and cigarettes, display their wares outside on days at sea.

There is a $4.25-per-scoop Ben & Jerry's. Pay-per-view in-cabin movies are $11.95, and there's a $3.95 per person service charge to Johnny Rockets (although the burgers are free, and worth every cent). There's a $20 surcharge for the small alternative restaurants Portofino which serves great a la minute meals but are a little overly crowded.

Cuisine

Mouthwatering descriptions on the menus notwithstanding, you probably won't hear people raving about the food. Particularly annoying are misleading descriptions of food items, a notable one being a dessert called "chocolate fondue" which evokes a plate of fruit and marshmallows for dipping into a bowl of hot, molten cocoa-laden chocolate. What arrives is a refrigerated bowl of congealed white pudding with a few berries stuck to the bottom. The immediate response is, "Huh? What is this?" It turns out the description says "white chocolate" and as for the word "fondue," - well, it just isn't one.

These ships have changed their dining room menus, limiting the number of courses. While most ships list appetizers, soups, salads and entrees separately, there are now but two categories, starters and entrees, with a single type of salad offered as a separate option. The result is people getting different items (soup, salad, appetizers) all at different times. Entrees will all arrive at once, however. Beef is the best bet - fish is unpredictable. In addition to entree selections that vary nightly, the menu always offers salmon, chicken breast, steak or pasta. These are often the best choices on the menu.

Particularly problematic is the bar and wine service. There are no dedicated sommeliers so don't be surprised if your white wine arrives at room temperature and no ice bucket if you order a bottle. Wine by the glass is three fingers in the smallest wine glass made, and costs over $7.00. Royal Caribbean does not offer to keep unfinished bottles in their cellar for their guests, but you can cork it and take it with you at the end of the dinner.

Specialty coffees like espresso or cappuccino with dessert, with or without liquor, have to be ordered from bar service which can be tortuously slow. Try to order these well ahead of dessert or you will likely be served after your meal is finished.

Cabin service staff is efficient but unobtrusive. The purser's desk tries hard to be responsive, especially in view of how much troubleshooting they must do on a ship this size. Room service, though, can be pretty slow.

Restaurants

The ship's elegant main restaurant features a crystal chandelier a grand, two deck staircase. The three decks it spans are separately named for famous operas; Carmen, La Boheme and the Magic Flute. The ship's second most popular dining venue (though it is more of a lunching venue) is Johnny Rockets, which carries a $3.95 per person service charge (soda fountain drinks are extra), and in which you might have to wait to be seated. The vast Lido deck restaurant for casual buffet-style meals is cleverly designed to look like two individual eateries, minimizing the sense of size and crowds. Portofino, the alternative Italian restaurant, is a lovely intimately-lit venue, though you might, if you're not attentive, realize you've got your fork in an adjacent diner's salad; the tables are that close together.

Service

Service with a smile is the style here, and room stewards work especially hard. While these ships started out working quite well, certain challenges arrive with age. The laundry facilities don't seem to be up to the challenge of a ship this size, so towels are worn out and odors have settled into the seat cushions. The drainage systems are not as clear as they used to be and showers may back up. The front desk does its best to help but unfortunately they have to deal with a very large crew that often can't deliver what they try to promise.

Tipping

Royal Caribbean suggests a per person per day gratuity of $3.50 for the stateroom attendant ($5.75 if sailing in a suite); $3.50 for the waiter; $2.50 for the Assistant Waiter; .75 Head Waiter. These gratuities may be paid in cash or charged to your onboard account. For children sailing as third or fourth passenger in the stateroom, tipping is at the parents' discretion.

An 18 percent gratuity is automatically added to all beverage tabs. Gratuities for room service, spa, casino and other staff are at your discretion.

Entertainment

The Vegas-style production shows, especially clever in their special effects, rival Carnival's for the best at sea. The ship's musicians are adequately entertaining, with the best bet being the solo folk guitarist in the English themed pub serving several British ales on tap. Late night parties like the 70s Disco Show or Karaoke are held in the Connoisseur Club nightly. Daytime the is a minimal reggae band playing by the pool or in the Royal Promenade. A jazz trio heats up the Viking Crown Lounge at night.

Fitness/Spa

The ship's well-equipped gym still draws serious fitness buffs with its full range of state-of-the-art machines. The two-level Steiner Spa, with its winding staircase, looks more like the lobby of a boutique hotel, albeit with a Greek motif. It houses a small attractive thalassotherapy-like pool in an airy glass-enclosed but private semi-circular room. The Solarium's serene outdoor pool area nestles behind the spa; you're surrounded there by fountains, foliage, and statues, with a retractable glass ceiling overhead.




Ship Overview

The fifth of five Voyager-class ships, Mariner of the Seas was introduced in 2003. The last of the class was the first to receive upgraded features in 2012 that include an outdoor movie screen poolside, an updated wine bar, the Doghouse eatery, an Italian specialty restaurant, digital signage, a lounge for elite past passengers, and a new nursery.

A truly impressive building program introduced one of these gigantic Voyager-class ships per year over a five-year period. With their rock-climbing walls, ice-skating rinks, in-line skating tracks, miniature golf, and multiple dining venues, they are destinations in their own right. Sports enthusiasts will be thrilled with nonstop daytime action.

The unusual horizontal, multiple-deck promenade-atriums on Voyager-class vessels can stage some of the pageantry for which Royal Caribbean is noted. Fringed with boutiques, bars, and even coffee shops, the mall-like expanses set the stage for evening parades and events, as well as spots to simply kick back for some people watching.

Other public rooms are equally dramatic. Though it's considered to be three separate dining rooms, the triple-deck height of the single space is stunning. These ships not only carry a lot of people, but carry them well. Space is abundant, and crowding is seldom an issue.

Big, bigger, biggest! Royal Caribbean has the largest modern mega cruise liners in the world, as well as some of the most innovative technology on its newest ships, from robot bartenders to the fastest Wi-Fi at sea. Its fleet of 25 and counting are all-around favorites of passengers—arguably the most multigenerational (and Millennial) crowd at sea—who enjoy traditional cruising ambience with a touch of daring and whimsy. Each ship in the fleet has action-packed activities such as surfing pools, rock-climbing walls, and on the newest ships, skydiving simulators, and 10-story slides.

Expansive multideck atriums and promenades, as well as the generous use of brass and floor-to-ceiling glass windows, give each vessel a sense of spaciousness and style. The action is nonstop in casinos and dance clubs after dark, while daytime hours are filled with poolside games and traditional cruise activities. Port talks tend to lean heavily on shopping recommendations and the sale of shore excursions.

What You Should Know

Pros

  • Royal Promenade may elicit the biggest "Wow!" onboard when a parade is center stage
  • Professional ice-skating performances are staged twice during each cruise
  • Equipment to participate in sports activities is provided at no additional charge

Cons

  • With the exception of the gym and some fitness classes, nearly everything else onboard carries a price tag
  • Although there is no charge to attend, you must get tickets for the ice-skating shows
  • Smokers may be frustrated to find that smoking is prohibited in cabins, on balconies, and in most indoor areas
Ship Stats
  • Crew Members 1,185
  • Entered Service 2003
  • Gross Tons 142,000
  • Length 1,020 Feet
  • Number of Cabins 1,557
  • Passenger Capacity 3,114 (3,835 max)
  • Width 158 feet
  • Service

  • Food

  • Décor

  • Value

Nov 20, 2015

Nice Older Vessel serving Cheap Low End Food

Being a 12+ Cruiser and full time traveler the recent experience that I had with RCC Mariner of the Sea's 7 Days Singapore Cruise was a real bad deal. The vessel is nicely decorated and restored but the food in main dinning and buffet was unbelievable bad. Menu was half western and half eastern and the type of dishes served was so cheap that there were not even up to Chinese Fast Food basic standard. Lots of passengers complained about warm dishes

being cold and there was always not enough food in the buffet area. Majority of servers in the dinning area was Asians and their English communication was always a challenge. This would be my 4th and last time on board RCC Cruise Ship.

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Apr 3, 2012

Western Caribbean

This cruise had everything I was looking for. Great service, friendly atmosphere, lots of entertainment, and great food. The food was wonderful. I did not have any meal that I did not like. Everything was hot when it arrived. I loved the bread that was served at dinner. There was quite a unique selection. I could almost just live on the bread alone. The lobster was wonderful. We had the late seating and we were never rushed, just a nice relaxing

dinner every night. Deny's was our room steward and always met all our requests. Excellent service. There were a lot of unique things to see and do. There was a parade in the grand promenade, a great ice show equal to the Ice Capades, and don't miss the Quest. The Quest is usually held near the end of the cruise. Please arrive early as seats are at a premium. We did the zipline in Jamaica. It was great and not as scary as one might think. The staff are fully trained and very professional. It was quite safe. The Dunn River falls are a real challenge. We did not do the falls on this cruise but did do them on a previous cruise. Be prepared. Wear water shoes as the rocks are very slippery. Once you start you have to keep going. It is pretty dangerous. At the end we were glad that we survived and were able to do the falls alone at the age of 60. We will never do them again. There is a new port in Jamaica and it is very nice. Lots of shops right of the ship and the natives do not harass you like they have in the past. All the ports are great with lots of shopping available, which I love. The weather was great throughout the whole cruise. No rain and not too hot. The weather in Galveston was the coldest. Thank heavens we weren't there long. Most of the passengers were from Texas and they were just beautiful people, very well dressed and very friendly. I really enjoyed the staff and the passengers. I would do this cruise again in a heart beat.

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Feb 26, 2012

Western Caribbean

The cruise was great, the crew so attentive and polite, very helpful. The only bad thing I have to say is the de-embarcation at Galveston was the worst experience, it took us 3 hours to reach Customs. We were in long lines, shuffling along. I was so tired, my back and legs hurting from having to stand with luggage. Royal Caribbean needs to evaluate the process. I know that I won't do another cruise with them out of Galveston. The food was wonderful,

very fresh and appetizing. My stateroom was comfortable, clean, the attendant was the best, he checked on my daughter and I, to see if we had any questions or needed assistance. We didn't participate in many of the onboard activities, most of the time just relaxing and reading. We did excursions at all three ports and enjoyed them very much. I reccommend them highly.

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Feb 22, 2012

Southwestern Carribean

After a clunky online experience (website is not user friendly) I finally called the travel agent to confirm I was indeed finished with the online check in process. Galveston cruise terminal embarkation was smoother than disembarkation with long lines to embark and longer lines to disembark due to the bottleneck at customs. Pick up and drop off of passengers was in the same exact spot at the terminal occurring at the same time (chaos). Upon

arrival to my state room I discovered a hand towel that had blue stains on it hanging in the bathroom (similar to toothpast stains). I requested a new towel and worried for the rest of the cruise that my towels may not be clean. I was assured that they were clean by the cabin steward Nazir Souvenier (spelling?). He gave very friendly service. The ship lost my luggage the first day. It was recovered on day 2. In the first 3 days at sea my group of 6 women had a blast in the casino (sucks your money and not regulated). We spent 3 evenings in the Wig and Gavel Pub on the Promenade listening to a very talented guitarist named Marty Daniels during our cruise. When the sun came out on Tuesday, we relaxed near the pool. The snorkeling excursion in Honduras was wonderful and the horseback riding in Belize was fabulous. Cozumel is too comercialized for me, but was nice. Other cruise terminals along the pier did not like selling to Royal Carribean cruisers and directed us back to our own terminal for some reason. The food in the dining room every evening was only ok. After my friend found a fly in her desert, we were switched to a new table and group of servers. Service was only ok before that. It was phenomenal after that. We discovered the Portofino dining room ($20/per person cover charge) on the last night. The food was delightful there. Windjammer was ok for buffet service. Dining room tasted like buffet food: Only ok. Sent back the salmon (smelled so fishy I got nauseous). Couldn't eat the beef stroganoff (seemed out of a can). The lobster was rubbery and dry. The steak was chewy (I like mine medium rare, this should not have been chewy). Johnny Rockets was a good burger and fries and worth the cover charge of $4.95. Portofino had awesome food and was worth the $20/per person cover charge. The cafe on the promenade had the same thing every morning, but was ok. The sandwiches were good at lunch. I can't believe the cruiseline charges for bottled water anywhere on the ship. Ridiculous. This should be included in the ticket price. The stateroom decor was dated. I know the ship was put into commission in 2003, but the decor is 1998. It was clean, though. I understand it will be dry docked for 10 days in April. They should change the drapes and carpets to something more current. The shows were great. This is where Royal Carribean spared no expense. The ice skating show was better than expected. The guitarist/vocalist Marty Daniels was fun to sing along with for our group. The Sophia Fiora blue diamonds were nice and sales people knowledgeable. The casino disappointed in that it didn't let people win enough to play very long. Overall I had a very good time with my group of 6 friends. We laughed and enjoyed the time together creating memories. The entertainment is stellar, they need to work on the food quality in the dining room, and stop charging for bottled water. I was irritated that I was reminded to tip extra on several occasions during the last 3 days of the trip even though I paid tips in advance within my ticket price. The newsletter inserted a convenient charge form with convenient tip guidelines stating it could easily be charged to your account . This confused me and I had to ask whether the people I believed I had tipped in advance had indeed received it. On the last day, envelopes were given to us for additional tips. I don't mind tipping: Even in advance for a job not performed yet. But begging for additional tipping on top of the 15% already paid is not attractive on the part of the cruise line who ought to compensate their friendly employees and add it to the ticket price rather than allowing the additional tips to be guilted out of passengers to serve as compensation! Just sayin'

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By SB_CR

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Feb 26, 2011

Valparaiso to Sao Paulo

Destinations were the reason for us choosing this cruise I.e. Valparaiso, Chile to Sao Paulo, Brazil via the Chilean Fjords (gorgeous), Ushuaia, very interesting except a fiasco due top inadequate tender service, Cape Horn, wonderful and the highlight of the trip and the captain gave us ample time to take it in; the weather was wild and windy and wavy which is what it should be there. Then Montevideo, (wonderful) and on to Sao Paulo. The bus tour

in Sao Paulo was dreadful. Due to disembarking delays it was truncated, the tour guide was totally self-centered a gave us a political rant for hours, she was misinformed aboTrmut a few things as we discovered for ourselves the next day, and the bag lunch was deplorable! The ship was much bigger than we would have liked therefore crowds and much time sent waiting for elevators. The Windjammer was often too crowded. The service was good overall, except for the guest service desk which was less than helpful. Stateroom staff was excellent for us. We had a junior suite which was lovely. Although most of the time it was too cool to use the pool, when it did get warm we found it impossible to use it because the music was deafeningly loud, to the point that we couldn't talk or hear, and certainly couldn't read our books. The Internet/wifi services were quite inadequate. Several of the computers were unusable, and those that were OK were so slow that you used up a great deal of your time (at cents a minute) just waiting to connect. In this day and age wifi should be a given in each stateroom. Food was generally so-so; the buffets were average, and no more. The dining room was OK, mainly because the portions were a reasonable size and not mammoth. Some nights were better than others, Service was very good. Lovely as we had a junior sweet which was well worth it. Nice balcony, room to spread out. Should have wifi see above. Did't participate in much,but thought some of the morning lectures were OK, and some of the entertainment was good particularly the classical pianist and the " Three Seasons " classical group. Also the ice show was fantastic. The captain's lecture on the last day was interesting, but should have been earlier in the cruise. We had many quest ions about the ship and the precise route we were taking day by day. There wasn't enough information about where we were or here we were going.. Don't take the day long trips, but take a short overview and then go on your own. In our experience the port that required tenders was a disaster- completely ruined the day, which was a shame as we wanted to have a look around Ushuaia as well as go out on a boat trip, but the lack of tenders meant that we missed the town and waited for two hors to get back to the ship. Definitely sit up in the lounge on Deck 14 and watch Cape Horn.(the smoking lounge is quite disgusting and too odorous to even use. Also, there was a "private" function in Ellington's every evening at cocktail time, which was quite annoying as it would have been nice to have a drink up there before dinner. Too much attention given to the diamond set, you need to cultivate the new cruisers. A welcome drink or something would have bern nice - even the most basic all-inclusive in Mexico offers that. Destinations were fabulous, the cruise itself was ho-hum.

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