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Mariner's Maiden Voyage/jpegs (long)
Thanks for posting your excellent review, Robin!
Just returned from a week on RCCL's Mariner of the Seas. It was largest and
prettiest ship I've ever sailed on, but beauty is more than skin deep...just
skip to the end if you want to see the pics link and a summary.
Saturday night we pulled into the Radisson at Port Canaveral, the pool area
here is better than average. The desk personnel was upbeat and friendly and
gave us instructions for leaving the car at the hotel and scheduled us on a
free shuttle to the terminal for the following day. They gave us a 20% off
coupon for the buffet that was being served in the lobby. We opted instead
to go next door to the Greek restaurant, flaming cheese and pita bread
followed by a Greek combo platter were excellent choices.
On Sunday the shuttle brought us to the port (the ship was actually visible
from the hotel grounds). We got into the Platinum/Diamond/suite line around
1:30pm, probably a little post peak arrival time. The lines were according
to ship level, otherwise. We noted the longest lines were for the lower
levels, then the Platinum/Diamond/suite line, with shortest lines for the
highest level floors. Oh well, so much for that supposed perk.
We explored the ship and did the mandatory life boat drill. Of course, some
people found those little orange whistles irresisstable. Sailing was
delayed supposedly by boat traffic, but we suspected a late produce delivery
to the ship. We arrived for early seating, table for 8. The main waiter did
an adequate job of taking orders and delivering plates of food, though
service was notably slow, and the assistant waiter also did an adequate job
of delivering drinks. For a change, the assistant waiter had a little more
"presence" than our main waiter. Food in the dining room, however, was not
up to the standard I had come to expect from this cruise line. I would
describe it as "good cafeteria food". This was my 6th RCCL cruise, and 8th
overall cruise, if that makes a difference. We dined in our arrival clothes
as our luggage did not arrive until sometime after 8pm. I chalked most of
this up to it being the maiden voyage.
Day 2, Monday, we arrived in Bahamas bright and early. We had a quick
continental breakfast in the early hours at the Windjammer and met our
driver at the dock for our excursion to the other side of the island. We
returned from our tour with just a couple of hours to spare before our
scheduled departure. Ice show tickets were to be dispensed from 3 to 5 pm.
We arrive shortly after 3pm and discover the early show is already sold out.
I suspect they started giving them out earlier than advertised. We got
tickets for the 10:30pm show tonight. We decided to do a quick jaunt to
Atlantis. It was a 10 minute ride and cost $4pp. The resort is an island
unto itself. Our visit was limited to the lobby, shops, casino, and the
"free" aquarium view. There is an hour long tour of the grounds for $25pp
that we did not do.
Rude people always appear sometime on a cruise, and this one was no
exception. Just one example as:
A gentleman in a wheelchair waits on deck 1 for an elevator upon return to
the ship. A crowd of people shove their way onto the elevator as the door
opens even though this man and his female companion had been waiting longer.
I literally put my arm out in their path and declare, "Let's let this man
onboard" to no avail. I am angry at the inconsideration. Some people suck.
Monday night dinner was unmemorable but edible. Monday night show was a
comedian in the Savoy Theater, Rondell Sheridan, and he was pretty good.
The ice show was wonderful. Be sure to get a ticket. Amazing performance
for the amount of ice they had to work on. Only 2 days and 4 total shows
for the week in a small arena. No way all 3800 people will get a chance to
see it. By the 3rd performance later in the week, word was out and people
tried to get in without tickets.
Day 3, Tuesday. Sheesh, we rocked and rolled all night after setting out of
the Bahamas. The movement was kind of like being on a jerking train rather
than a rolling ship, however. Seas were 6 to 9 feet, but didn't look that
bad from the upper decks. Our speed was 20 knots into a 20 knot headwind
which combined to form an uncomfortable situation for those who wanted to
spend some time on the sun deck, deck chairs were pretty much vacant. Pools
were shut down. People milled about the Promenade and shopped, filled the
Casino, and pretty much found "indoor" activities to occupy themselves. We
showed up for an 11am Wine Tasting at Vintages Wine Bar, it was to identify
the "essence" present in a wine, like fruitiness, oakiness, etc. We arrived
only to be told they "didn't have enough people" and were told to return at
1pm when it would be combined with different wine tasting. Since we had
coupons for the "complimentary" tasting at 3pm, we decided to skip the 1pm
tasting. We decided to go up and try Johnny Rockets for lunch. We dined on
burgers, fries, and onion rings. We ordered shakes to complete the meal.
Quite a line for this venue, and our burgers arrived warm, not hot and one
was still just a bit pinkish in the center. The servers line dance every 20
minutes, the atmosphere is fun and upbeat. Spent the afternoon exploring
the ship and taking some pics. Formal dinner was ok, lots of suits, some
tuxedos, some informal wear. Captains party was in the promenade, and it was
difficult for many of the older people and women in high heels to stand on
the rocking ship, people got drinks and went other places so they could sit.
Captain Johnny makes an appearance on a "bridge" over the promenade. He is
the most personable captain we've ever sailed with. He wrote a book about
being a captain and it is sold in the gift shop. We skipped the show
Day 4, Wednesday, San Juan. We decided to do a snorkel/kayaking trip. We
got on a bus with a driver who spoke no english whatsoever for the hour
long ride to the eastern tip of the island. We are met by a "guide" who
gives us a quick instruction on how to paddle and we commence to paddle into
a "mangrove". We are given snorkel gear after pulling the boats up near a
marine preserve and instructed to swim towards the reef. Well, none of us
made it and we had a couple of decent swimmers. We were too far from the
reef to swim it and then have enough energy left to snorkel it. No
olympians in our group. Besides, the water was only knee deep or less in
the mangrove. I feared being stabbed in the chest by an urchin. We suspect
the guide purposely had us bring the kayaks up early in the trip so there is
a long swim to the breaking waves at the reef, he tells us the water is "too
rough". No snorkeling vests were provided anyways, only life vests for
kayaking. We kayak back to our starting point and are given granola bars
and bananas, and a bottle of water. There are no toilet facilities at this
destination. Another hour to get back to San Juan. A quickie shower and we
have a couple hours to shop in Old Town.
After dinner, DH realizes he has symptoms of food poisoning. I suspect it
was the burger yesterday, but in any case, we had no food off the ship other
than a granola bar and a banana, so we are certain it began somewhere on the
ship. Our tablemates reported they were unhappy with the outing to the
Bacardi rum factory. Seems they don't actually get to see the rum being
made. They did receive 2 tickets to redeem for rum drinks.
Day 5, Thursday. St. Maarten. We water taxi to town and leave for our
excursion. Water is calmer than we've seen it for days. We return to the
ship and go back out to town to shop. Dinner is average. There is a party
for Platinum and Diamond members. The same as the Welcome Back party, but
with better hors d'oeurves, drinks are the same. Show is the Caribbean
Singers and Dancers. It is pretty average, too.
Day 6, Friday. At sea. More rain showers, wind, and lots of people
indoors. There are mobs of people at the t-shirt sale, watch sale, and
buying booze which we can now buy without paying the uncorking fee for
taking it to our rooms. We had made reservations for Chops Grill at $20pp
for tonight. They will charge you $10pp if you cancel without a 24 hour
notice. DH had tenderloin and I had lamb chops, both were excellent. As
were the shrimp cocktail, crabcakes and onion soup. Dessert was chocolate
mud pie, excellent; and Caramel apple pie, my favorite of the two. We passed
on coffee (it was going to be Windjammer coffee, ugh, quite strong and
bitter). The show is The Drifters, the originals. One member has passed on
and is replaced by his son. They gave a nice performance.
Day 7, Saturday. At Sea. Seas are 3 to 6 ft. Winds are decreased and we
get some sun. Band plays outside and we finally get to enjoy the pool
decks. Drink service is available but not as pushy as it has been on some of
my previous cruises. Today is for relaxing, then packing, then eating and
our final show. Prime rib is delivered well done for one who orders it
medium well and very rare and bloody for one who wants it medium. Turkey
dinner is the same kind of instant mashed potatos, gravy, gooey stuffing,
and sliced processed turkey one might find at the the local hospital. There
is something dyed red to pass as the "cranberry" but I don't know what it is
for sure. Show is video clips from the cruise, Caribbean Singers and
Dancers, and an acrobatic couple that is quite good.
Day 8, Sunday. Debark at Port Canaveral. A little confusion as we are told
to have the "perforated tabs" from our luggage handy as we debark. Well,
there were none. Strange how many people had the "early colors" when so
many people lived within an hour or two of the port and didn't need to get
flights. Instead of piles of red, blue, green, etc... luggage, we find 2
carrousels. On the left is all the luggage with a color and a number 2 on
the tag and all the number ones are on the right. Luggage is put on
supposedly in the order the colors are called, but it seems most all the
luggage has hit the carrousel by the time we get there and we are about 3/4
through the call list.
Cabin service was average. There were no bedspreads for many guests who had
separated their beds, there were not enough to go around. Some people
reported spotty cabin service and no towel animals. We got about 4 animals
and our cabin service improved to an acceptable level as the week went on,
others were not as fortunate.
Cabin layout was ok, I would have preferred the sitting area near the
balcony door rather than put the bed in front of it. Clamshell shower doors
were a welcome change from the previously "affectionate" shower curtains. I
could actually shave my legs while remaining inside the shower. We had an
aft balcony. There is a shaded glass partition between balconies. Our
balcony was uncovered and the people above us could look down onto ours and
we could look up onto theirs since the balconies were tiered in the back.
6th floor aft balconies had a large expanse of fenced in deck in front of
their balconies, they were private, but far from the sea. Side balconies
had room for 2 chairs and a small table and were a bit smaller than ours.
Sea spray was an issue on our upper balcony, probably from the winds we had
Food was average to less than average. Chops Grille was excellent but our
seating was distracting as we were seated in view of the delivery point of
meals from the kitchen and could easily hear and witness the conversation
between the cooks and the servers which sometimes had a "bickering" tone.
Ask to sit near the back of the restaurant if you want a more pleasant
ambiance. We did not dine at Portofino. Dining room food remained at a
level below what I had come to expect from RCCL. Hot foods were sometimes
just warm and cold foods were sometimes also warm. Coleslaw shouldn't be
served warm. Several people were reporting "digestive troubles" that
appeared Tuesday evening or on Wednesday. Windjammer food was plenty, but
was overall disappointing. Jade, the asian buffet, was also disappointing.
Coffee was strong in the dining room and the Windjammer, juices were watered
down. Seattle Coffee was the best place to get coffee. Self serve ice
cream was located in the Promenade and open every afternoon.
Entertainment ranged from excellent to average. Ice show was excellent and
the onboard singers and dancers were average The singers and dancers
showed improvement as they spent more time working together. The other acts
were good. This is probably the ship's strongest point. There is no lack
of entertainment. Our cruise director was also personable and did an
Activities were above average, with some spotty service due to lack of
experience sometimes apparent. With rock climbing, putt putt, pools,
basketball court, ice skating, rollerblading, organized children's
activities, hot tubs, gambling, impromtu shows on the Promenade, the best
fitness center I have ever seen on a ship, the possibilities were endless
and there was no lack of something to do.
Shore excursion offerings were average and priced a bit higher than you
could probably find on your own. If there is a time issue, I would use the
ship excursion since they won't leave you behind if you are on one of their
tours. We had all hard docks, so I can't tell you about tendering off of
About a third of the ship were Crown and Anchor members with about 375
Platinum and Diamond members on board. We got postcards as gifts and later
a couple of fanny packs. Everyone got a photo of the ship and a certificate
of it's Maiden Voyage with your name on it.
There were less than 200 kids on board and the most people in
wheelchairs,and using canes than I have ever seen onboard a cruise ship.
The ship's godmother, Jean Driscoll http://www.jeandriscoll.com/, was
onboard. The age level was decidely older than many of my previous cruises
on this line. Thanksgiving week had alot more kids coming on board and with
them some younger adults.
Overall, I'd give it 4 out of 5 stars with food quality as the issue which
keeps me from rating it better.
Here's the jpegs in the Mariner folder:
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