MARINER OF THE SEAS
by Margie Miklas
just came off the 4th sailing of the new MARINER OF THE SEAS, the
itinerary, and both my husband and I agree that this was the best
cruise we have ever been on, and this makes cruise #22 for us. Of
course being the largest ship afloat, along with Royal Caribbean’s
other 4 Voyager-class ships, is part of the reason and also the fact
that it is the newest ship sailing.
the staff and crew seemed to go out of their way to be friendly and
especially helpful. It was obvious that they were not new employees;
in fact most we talked with have had numerous years sailing either on
Royal Caribbean or other cruise lines.
at Port Canaveral was more crowded than we experienced on previous
sailings, but when you have 3600 other passengers boarding a ship, it
is to be expected. All in all it went fairly smoothly and we were on
the ship by 12:30pm. The parking situation leaves something to be desired however and
hopefully in the future it will become more efficient. The parking
garage is open, although there is still much construction in the area.
cabin was an inside on the 10th deck and it was plenty big enough for
the two of us, including the queen-size bed, 2 nightstands with a
drawer in each and a bottom shelf, a small loveseat and table, a desk
with 9 drawers and chair. There are also additional cabinets above the
desk area and also inside the bathroom. The closets were big, and they
had adjustable shelving in them. They were equipped with hangers,
although I always bring more. With room to store our 5 pieces of
luggage under the bed, the closets and drawers had enough room for all
of our things. There is also a safe inside the cabin. The room was
equipped with a hairdryer and also a refrigerator. (Note: the
refrigerator is stocked with soda and candy for a price. We asked our
stateroom attendant to remove these items, which he happily did, and
we placed our own supply of soda which we brought along, inside the
refrigerator.) I suggest bringing an extension cord and small travel
iron for convenience. The bathroom had a shower with a sliding
half-moon shape door. I do not know how very large passengers can fit
inside; it is not very big. There was a small clothesline inside the
shower which came in handy for drying bathing suits or any items which
needed to be hand washed and dried. The sink area had a small counter
and there was a shelf beneath it for additional storage. There was
a TV with remote; the TV was interactive, including being able
to order shore excursions, check your billing statement and view
activities going on throughout the ship, e.g. shows you may
ship itself is laid out in a very organized fashion and it did not
seem difficult to navigate or find your way around. Also, because it
is so large and there are so many options for activities, it never
really seemed crowded. We never waited in long lines for anything.
There are signs with directions and places listed on every deck near
the elevators, so you can figure out which way you are going. The
three-tier dining room is situated at the rear (aft) of the ship, so
you do not end up dealing with portions of decks that are impassable
due to the dining room being in the center of the ship.
is the usual buffet lunch served in the WINDJAMMER CAFÉ on the 11th
deck as soon as you board. The
food choices were very good as well as the quality. There are several
stations, as opposed to one long buffet line, e.g. salads, main
entrees, desserts, soups. The station for iced tea, coffee, hot
chocolate, water, punch, is manned by crew who serve you your drink of
choice. The windjammer was also staffed by crewmembers that found you
seating and also offered to get your drinks from the drink station,
and sometimes even came around serving cookies.
mandatory lifeboat drill was held in the spacious 3-story dining room
and it went very smoothly, not wasting too much of your time, like
some we have experienced on previous ships.
for meals, we never made it to the dining room for breakfast or lunch,
but had dinner there every night. We had room service twice for
breakfast, and that is just great especially if you are relaxing and
do not want to get up early while you are on vacation. You tip the person bringing the food and they go away with a
smile. It never took more than 20 minutes from the time we ordered
either. Lunch we ate usually in the Windjammer and once we ate at
Johnny Rockets, which was fun. As soon as you arrive they deliver
French fries and onion rings to your table before you even order. They
serve hamburgers, hot dogs, chicken sandwiches, etc which are free.
However, there is a charge for shakes, soft drinks, and beer. It is
very much a 50’s style diner, complete with jukeboxes for a nickel a
song, and the waiters even will supply the nickels. Approximately every ten minutes the employees do a little song
and dance to tunes such as “Staying Alive” and “YMCA.” It is
definitely a fun experience. We
went mid-afternoon, but I passed by once at noontime and there was a
line to get in outside the diner.
dining rooms are very elaborate, just beautiful with all the crystal
chandeliers. The colors are very tasteful and you really feel like you
are at a 5-star restaurant. The service was excellent, and the food
was OK. There was a nice selection, including surf and turf, which I
have not had before on other cruise lines. The waiters entertained
about three nights and they seemed to enjoy doing so. There was also
soft live music during dinner, which we thoroughly enjoyed.
far as other food goes, there was only one Midnight Buffet and that
was the Gala Buffet with elaborate ice sculptures and butter
sculptures. They allowed 1 hour for photos and then afterwards the
food was served at
. I sort of missed the
Chocolate Buffet that Royal Caribbean used to have, but there were
enough chocolate choices at the dessert table at this event.
of our favorite places was the Café Promenade, located along the
Royal Promenade. It is open 24 hours a day and serves pizza, cookies,
desserts, fruits, and small specialty sandwiches made on croissant
rolls and other types of bread and rolls. All this at no fee. We stopped by almost every day and sometimes we took an extra
sandwich to our cabin for later at night. In the mornings they serve a
variety of pastries as well. Next
to this is a specialty coffee bar that you have to pay for. I noticed
that it was never too busy. Alongside of this is Sprinkles which is a
self-serve soft ice cream stand, and yes there are different varieties
of sprinkles… no charge for this. The
Royal Promenade was a fun place to stroll, with the usual array of
shops and a few bars. They also held a
dance there one night with a steel drum band. There were also several
parades, which we never seemed to catch.
really enjoyed the Schooner Bar after dinner. The entertainer was Matt
Yee, and his show was a sing-along piano bar style show. The place was
always packed and the entire crowd was involved. His tour is over so I
do not know who is in that bar now but I understand from his web site
that he will be back on Mariner of the Seas from April 18-May 30th.
other show not to be missed is the Ice Show, which is held three
nights. You have to get tickets (at no cost) for the show as there are
more people who wish to attend than there are seats, so I would advise
standing in line for the tickets as soon as you see it listed on the
schedule, because they do go fast. It
was without question the best show we have ever seen on a cruise ship.
The skating compares with the Olympics.
gym on the ship is awesome. There
are 20 treadmills, all with a view of the ocean and numerous
Stairmasters and every other type of machine you would find in a gym.
We were there three different days and never had to wait for a
machine. There is also a
wonderful spa in that area--I heard it is a mineral water spa. At any
rate, it is not crowded, has no children and can hold at least 30
people, although the most that were in it when we were there was 8. It
was very warm and very relaxing. There also are saunas and changing
rooms in that area along with showers.
also went ice skating and that was great, after not having skated for
20 years. At first it was difficult, and I had to hang onto the wall
for a few times around but then, I guess it is like riding a bike, it
comes back to you, and I was able to skate, going around about 20
times and I didn’t even fall. The sessions are scheduled for 45
minutes and you have to sign a waiver before you can skate. The other
really cool thing was the Rock Wall, also something that requires a
waiver to be signed before you climb. My
husband did it twice and I have to say the staff at the Rock Wall is
awesome. Melanie Clark is the Sports Director and she and the rest of
her staff are encouraging and helpful. You wear a safety harness and
they really help you. There was even an elderly lady who went up the
wall! The rest of the Sports Activities are also available, e.g. a
full-size basketball court, and a 9-hole miniature golf course.
main pool area is large with numerous deck chairs available.
There were also several spas, and there was also an area,
called the Solarium, which had an adults-only pool.
casino was also a place we visited a few times, although we contribute
more there than we won, which is nothing new.
There were plenty of slot machines and again, never did there
seem to be a time when you had to wait in line to play, and the table
were fine small.
was especially noticeable that children were rarely seen. This is due
to the excellent
Adventure Ocean program for kids. We spoke to parents of small children and they had
all good things to say about the kids program.
the end of the cruise, exiting the ship was well organized, the
porters were helpful, and we were off the ship by 9:30am. There could be more areas
under roof for passengers to wait to be picked up. Again, this area is
under construction and hopefully will improve in time.
am not going to review the ports of call, which were
and St Maarten, except to say that in December the temperatures in
and St Maarten were 85 degrees and in
were mid 70’s. One other
thing I must mention is that the day we arrived in
, every passenger had to get up and come to the dining
to present themselves to US Customs officials. This was something new,
mandated by Homeland Security. Since we had left US soil, landed in a
foreign country (Bahamas) and then returned to a US possession (St Thomas), we had to comply. It
was the only part of the cruise that was not enjoyable.
Note: All passengers must present themselves to US IMMIGRATION,
not Customs, when re-entering the United States or a US Territory from
a foreign port. The procedure has been in effect
for several years, since at least the early part of 2000.]