Cruise In Review
: Royal Caribbean International
: Mariner of the Seas
: Cape Canaveral, Florida
Number of Nights
: Eastern Caribbean
Port Canaveral, FL
San Juan, Puerto Rico
Phillipsburg, St. Maarten
Charlotte Amalie: St. Thomas- USVI
Port Canaveral, FL
: Well I’m returning from an action packed 7 nights aboard the Mariner of the Seas and let me tell you, it was crazy. I’ve looked forward to my spring break cruise for a while now. I’m finally old enough to take advantage of all of the benefits of it being spring break and I did, oh man I did. Anyhow, the Mariner of the Seas was nothing less than spectacular as expected. Some of the do-not-miss activities if your traveling onboard are the 2 promenade parades, Ice Under the Big Top, Headline Comedy Shows, Outdoor Nightclub (Deck Party) and of course any and all appealing activities that you choose from your daily compass. As I’m writing this I’m headed home from the ship so I expect this to be a lengthy review. Each section contains information about MY EXPERIENCE with each venue and/or activity. I’m going to write as un-biased as possible but remember-everyones cruise experience will be different, so keep an open mind and I hope you enjoy my “cruise in review.��?
: The Mariner of the Seas is a majestic piece of sailing art. The sheer sight of this beauty is enough to stop ones heart as they think, imagine, fantasize about the next 7 days onboard. The ships public areas are in top shape, as are the pool areas, teen/children’s facilities and spa. Heres a list and brief description of the main public areas onboard the Mariner of the Seas:
- Located on Deck 2, forward, this venue shows new releases and box office hits 24/7 throughout your cruise vacation.
The Royal Promenade
- The main interior attraction and the epitome of Royal Caribbean’s Voyager and Freedom Class vessel. This stretch of ship longer than a football field is lined with friendly neighborhood style pubs, fine shopping, café promenade and Vintages wine bar.
ShipShape Spa & Fitness Center
- Relax in style with a wide variety of spa services as well as aerobic, cardio and strength training equipment, all while overlooking the ocean.
- Located on Promenade Aft, this relaxed area serves the bubbly by the glass or bottle.
Boleros Latin lounge
- Located on Deck 4 Aft, this lively area comes alive in the evening with live latin musicians playing for your pleasure. The bar specializes in the best martinis and mojitos on the7 seas.
Royal Caribbean Online
- Deck 8 Aft. Internet Access available for $.55 a minute or in packages.
- Deck 6 Aft. A variety of books available to be checked out for your reading pleasure throughout the cruise.
- Located on Deck 4 mid-ship, this is the place to see and be seen in the evening if you’d like to try your hand at one of the over 300 latest slot machines or at your favorite table game.
- A friendly piano bar with a nautical twist. Stop in for nightly piano requests or daily trivia.
The Savoy Theater
- Located on decks 3 and 4, forward, this main show lounge is host to a variety of onboard entertainment including the variety acts, comedians and the farewell, 80’s tribute: Pure Energy.
The Lotus Lounge
- Located on Deck 5 Forward, this venue plays home to the evening Karaoke contests and open mic sessions as well as occasionally sharing host rights with the Savoy for BINGO!
- Located on deck 13, aft, this 9 hole miniature golf course is the place to be for the golfer at sea!
Inline Skate Track
- Also on 13 aft, this figure 8-esque track provides recreational fun for everyone over 100’ above the sea below.
Full Court Basketball/Soccer/Dodgeball/Volleyball Court
- 13 AftThis full sized regulation court plays home to a variety of sports activities and tournaments throughout the cruise. They include but aren’t limited to soccer, dodgeball, basketball and volleyball tournaments.
19th Hole/Crown Lounge
- Both Located in the crown on deck 14, mid-ship: the 19th hole is a relaxed sports bar that serves up your favorite brew and game on plasma screen TVs. The Crown Lounge is Royal Caribbean’s trademark attraction, serving up your favorite beverage in a casual but quaint atmosphere often accompanied by live music/jazz bands.
Cloud 9/7 Hearts
: Located on 14 as well, these 2 multipurpose rooms are host to a variety of board and card games and are a great place to go and relax.
A highly technical TV studio by day, and an ice rink by night, studio B is one of only 7 (soon to be 8) floating ice rinks at sea. The center ice is open periodically throughout the cruise for open skate and on 2 nights is home to one of the greatest productions at sea: Ice Under the Big Top (see below).
Main Pool Area
- Complete with a band stand, stadium seating, 6 whirlpools, 2 swimming pools, 2 bars and an ice cream stand, the main pool area on deck 11 mid ship is where the action is on sea days and in port.
- For some peace and quiet, escape to this adults only paradise with a roman themed bath (pool) and 2 giant whirlpools while sipping on your favorite icy drink from the solarium bar.
: The food onboard the Mariner of the Seas is plentiful. You’ll never go hungry when your on this ship. The quality is mid-grade. Not terrible in most cases but nothing to jump up and down over. Heres a general overview of the food by venue:
- This coffee and sandwich shoppe is located at the front end of the Royal Promenade and offers a daily selection of sandwiches, pizza, cookies and sweet treats as well as coffee, tea, cocoa and a stocked bar. Open 24/7 it’s the late night snack stop for cruisers with the munchies.
Ben & Jerry’s
- Located in Café Promenade, Ben and Jerry’s/Seattle’s Best Coffee offer a variety of ice cream flavors, shakes and gourmet coffee selections.
Johnny Rockets @ Sea
- This 50’s style diner is located on deck 12, aft right next to challengers arcade and adventure ocean. For a nominal gratuity of $3.95 per person, you can chow down on all the fries, onion rings, burgers and sandwiches you want. There is an additional charge for desserts (apple pie) and shakes.
Possibly the most disappointing venue onboard the Mariner of the Seas is the buffet lines. Located on Deck 11 Aft, the windjammer offers casual dining with a variety of dishes from around the world. Jade offers a buffet of asian foods and in my opinion is the better of the two. Unfortunately, the quality of the food in the Windjammer is low on the chain and the selection varies very little from day to day. The windjammer is best on the first day and last night.
Sound of Music/Top Hats & Tails/Rhapsody in Blue/Melodies/Lyrics
- Formal dining rooms offer a variety of delicious treats every evening. Each day has a generalized theme and the food in both the dining rooms and windjammer reflect it. Some nights its Italian and on others, a fisherman’s feast. The infamous “lobster night��? is always the 2nd formal night of your cruise vacation. I recommend trying your dining room at least once or twice throughout the cruise vacation. Having cruised so many times before, our family isn’t up for the lengthy process of formal dinner and usually opt for the buffet or alternative dining options*
This alternative dining option is a MUST for everyone traveling on any Voyager/Freedom class vessel. Located on Deck 11, aft in the Windjammer, Chops specializes in the best steaks on the high seas. Offering s variety of cuts of beef as well as pork, chicken, seafood and lamb, they have something for every palate. Also, tempting appetizers and salads will prepare you for the dining experience of a lifetime.
- The 2nd alternative dining option is also located in the Windjammer on deck 11 and is the best place for fine Italian cuisine. With a variety of pasta, meat and salad dishes, Portofino is the perfect getaway for a romantic evening at sea.
** A note about the alternative dining options, each carries an additional surcharge of $32.50, per patron attending. It is 100% worth every penny**
Entertainment onboard the Mariner is yet another amenity that you will not search far to find. With several designated entertainment venues, the Mariner of the Seas is truly a floating city. Party the night away in Dragons Lair, catch a production in the Savoy theater or experience Ice Under the Big Top in Studio B. I highly recommend anyone who loves to be entertained to make plans to see the show each evening as the entertainers are top notch and perform amazing productions especially considering they’re at sea the whole time. And the Ice show is absolutely FANTASTIC! Another entertainment opportunity is the Disco Deck Party AKA “Family Outdoor Nightclub��? which takes place on night 4 of your cruise vacation. From 11pm until 1am join your DJ on the pool deck for fun under the stars as he plays the favorites as well as the hottest new music on the decks.
Adventure Ocean and The Teen Clubs
: The Adventure Ocean complex on the Mariner of the Seas is located on Deck 12 on the back (aft) of the ship. It plays host to several childrens programs, each with a designated room, all located around a huge central arcade.
Aquanauts: Ages 3-5
Explorers: Ages 6-8
Voyagers: Ages 9-11
Navigators: Ages 12-14
Guests: Ages 15-17
Being a teen I’ll focus on the areas I’ve experienced that center around the 12-17 group. Onboard Mariner of the Seas, there are 2 designated areas for teens ages 12-17: The Living Room and Fuel. The Living Room is the hang spot with plasma screen TVs showing movies and music videos, as well as comfy couches, a fooseball table, a bar open nightly and a variety of activities throughout the day. Fuel is the nightclub located on the other side of the arcade and is open for teens 12-14 earlier in the evening and for 15-17 from 11pm/12am until the wee hours of the morning. Both feature Club Café which is an internet portal that offers access to the internet at less than ½ the rate at Royal Caribbean Online ($.55 a minute). Club Café costs only $.25 a minute…but its slow. Both have bars that open nightly and Fuel is also connected to The Back Deck which is host to outdoor nightclub nights and other activities throughout the cruise.
: We had a great group of people on my cruise. Everyone got along fairly well with most of the disputes being in the 12-14 age group. We snuck girls (mainly) who were 18 into Fuel each night and it was a LOT of fun. There was plenty of booty dancing, cupid shuffling, cha cha-ing and soulja boy crankin every night of the cruise and despite the weather that made us hold onto the rafters, we had a blast. Of course there was cruise hookups, it happens, I was involved in more than my share this time, but its all part of the game as any past cruiser will tell you. Its fun to meet different people and when you share common interests..random making our occurs
Day 1- Port Canaveral Florida
: We left our hotel in Palm Coast Florida at about 10am and arrived at Port Canaveral at around 12pm. Baggage and Parking went very smoothly and we were in the terminal no more than 15 minutes after entering the port complex. Jumping to the very front of the line (love being Diamond + members!) we headed to the desk to check in, when I received my Seapass, which consequentially had been printed incorrectly and was showing my age as 22 years old. My seapass had been entered like this in January on the Sovereign of the Seas and the idea of 7 nights with this card was NUTS! For the record, yes the card worked for any and everything you can think of and I don’t know how you can have this worked out for you, it seems as though it just worked out in my favor by accident. We proceeded onboard and headed to the Windjammer for lunch then to our cabin- Deck 9, cabin 9618 (Jr. Suite) with a VIP tag over the door! After mustering (guys, our Muster Station’s officer was the Dance Captain and man was she hot) I got settled in and began the process of organizing for the next 7 days ahead. My mom and I had dinner in the Windjammer (it sucked) and then I headed up to The Living Room to see what the crowd was going to look like. As a general overview of the people we had a dance company, a competition cheerleading group, a quince and a football team onboard with a total of 297 teenagers between 15-17. The quest yielded a win for my team and I began making the first of many friends. After opening the first night with a couple icebreaker games (suck and blow, human knot) I jumped in the DJ booth and we got the party started. The first night was a little slow but I met a group of 4 girls from the dance company and after adding 3 cheerleaders to that later in the week, I was pretty much set as far as dance partners go. More on that later. 3:24am I stumbled into the cabin, exhausted and collapsed after a shower.
Day 2- At Sea
: This was the first sea day onboard the Mariner and I wasn’t in any rush to get anywhere. I was on island time! Around 1 I went up towards the windjammer and grabbed some lunch, and it was pretty bad as it would be the rest of the cruise. Then I headed into The Living Room to meet up wirh Seamus (pronounced Shay-Mus , yeah he’s Irish I guess) and the about 30 minutes later, the girls. Our group was pretty solidified by the end of this day with 7 girls and 4 guys, yeah it was a very good mix. I can say, however that I never stuck with any one particular group and I have people who know me from both age groups and all the cliques within them. This cruise was, surprisingly, drama free (not counting the alcohol-induced crap). After screwing around for about 4 hours doing nothing really- Rock Band, Guitar Hero, Flirting, and the first game of 10 Fingers (never have I ever). Being St. Patricks day, when I dressed out for dinner (in Chops Grille with Captain Johnny) I was rocking a green tie and all black! Dinner was excellent and afterwards I met up with people for a little while to discuss plans for later that evening. Most of the girls in our group were 18 so we doubled up in both Fuel and Dragon’s Lair. Anyhow, I dyed my hair neon green, grabbed my neon green tie, some neon colored lei’s and my glow paint and headed to Fuel. Within 4 minutes we had a solid grinding group that created so much heat the windows in the club were fogging up! I can’t describe how awesome the night was but it was something everyone should experience. At 2, when Fuel closed, we all went down to Dragons Lair (18+ club) and didn’t even get checked going in and we took over that club too until 3:30 when we were the only ones left and well after 4 ½ hours of solid grinding and dancing we were all exhausted. 3:48 I’m in the cabin (yea I took note every night of what time I got in).
Day 3: San Juan, Puerto Rico
: This morning was a rough one. Not getting up but rather at sea. We were starting to feel the effects of the storm we were entering (and would remain in the rest of the cruise. After a rocky morning of just kinda slumming in Fuel, talking and the2nd game of 10 fingers, We docked in Puerto Rico alongside: Celebrity Millennium, Costa Fortuna, Carnival Victory (Capt. Johnny said we were racing “that little tugboat behind us, referring to the Victory, as we pulled in) and another, much smaller ship in the harbor. While San Juan was great, it lacks a lot of things to do. We went in one of the casinos and walked through the shopping districts, buying mostly junk that said Puerto Rico (touristy I know). Finally I ended up at Senor Frogs. My first act of business was to meet Kristina, and tho she didn’t stick around, it was great to meet her and deff. Very cool to meet up with someone from Cruisemates who just happened to be in the same port at the same time! Inside Senor Frogs, I met up with about 20 people from my ship and without going into great detail, I’ll just say it was the wildest 2 hours of my life. Something I’ll never forget! That night, after jumping back on the ship around 7 or so, I headed up to Fuel for the party! With senor frogs still hanging onto us we got that club CRUNK! The ship really began to rock this particular evening. It was funny because those of us gentlemen who were on the dancefloor with the ladies were having to hold onto the lights on the ceiling in order to stand up! 2:31am I’m in the cabin.
Day 4: Phillipsburg, St. Maarten
- This was one of the easiest days of the cruise. I woke up around 11 and headed off the ship with my mom. In port with us were the Explorer of the Seas, Carnival Glory, Caribbean Princess, Costa Fortuna (anchored in the harbor) and some cheesy little ship. A short water-taxi ride and then we were in the heart of St. Maarten’s shopping district. I had some fun down here picking up some shirts from polo and lacoste and an iTouch for $125 (probably bootlegged , I’m not sure really). My mom and I had lunch at a neat little French bakery that was literally a hole in a wall with chairs and tables outside. The bread was absolutely delicious but the mustard nearly burned a hole in my tongue! I rented a segway scooter while my mom headed back to the ship and took a tour around the beach with my authentic guide, nearly getting run down by a golf cart who smacked into the segway! I dropped by one of the little local bars and got a local rum punch and it was some GOOD stuff but I felt it later. After I got back to the ship, I ran through the shower and met up with Rachel, Elizabeth and Ashley, the three musketeers. We all joined my mom and their parents and went to see Ice Under the Big Top and then they left as I continued on to watch them perform. Their dance company had a performance at 8pm, right after the ice show and it was a blast to watch too. After the performance we all met back up and decided…what are we going to do until tonight…Well…prior to Fuel there was an unplanned activity in the Conference room involving us 2more guys and 2 more girls and a bottle if that’s an indication of our decision. Fuel was hot once again, but we began having problems as parents with 13 year old kids were having them bumped into the 15-17 group. There was a little bit of drama as they got freaked out by the way we were dancing and whatnot. This was also what I’m going to call “make out night��? as by 1am the floor was cleared but the couches and corners were filled. The teen director was SO cool, she couldn’t care less unless parents were entering. We also had NO problem getting 18 year olds past deck patrol/ security. We had 3-4 officers at the door each night but whenever we needed to get older people in, we’d have the DJ play sandstorm and we’d party-boy the security officers while the people slipped behind us and into the club. The night ended on deck 13, mid-ship, overlooking the Atlantic ocean. 4:13 I’m in the cabin and yes my mom was PISSED.
Day 5: Charlotte Amalie St. Thomas (USVI)
- “Well a very good morning ladies and gentlemen, this is Captain Johnny speaking from the navigational bridge. Welcome to the beautiful port of St. Thomas!��? That’s the signal to get ur butt out of bed! St. Thomas isn’t an impressive port to me, and with waves causing all public beaches to be closed, I stayed onboard and caught some rays on “The Back Deck��? until other people arrived back on board. Getting crispy on the back deck, I was awakened by that 6th sense that someone is in your bubble. Indeed I was correct. The girls and seamus had returned from the island and we all decided to chill and burn on the back deck for a while. It ended up being a bit longer than we expected and we also got to enjoy the sunset as we sailed away from St. Thomas. A VERY romantic moment and well deserving of some making out. That evening, we had some fun in fuel until some people ruined everything. While I don’t know the full story, I;m told there was as fight amongst 2-3 16 year olds which caused the 1am curfew to be reinstated for the duration of our cruise. They REALLY began enforcing this curfew everywhere on the ship after 1am. A little story: a group of us was walking down the promenade at about 12:55 to grab something to drink since the bar in Fuel hadn’t opened that night. By the time we were ready to head back to Fuel it was 1:05 or so and we began headed back to fuel (which didn’t close before 2:30 any night). Chris, one of the younger looking guys in the group was stopped by security and demanded he go to his cabin. His mouth led to the carding of everyone in the group. Everybody except for myself (because of my Seapass) and the girls who were 18 were made to go to their room (escorted) and not allowed to go back to Fuel. Talk about some BS! The evening didn’t end early for me however, as we got back into fuel and despite the absence of our friends we made the best of it. 2:39 I’m in the cabin.
Day 6:At Sea
- Captain Johnny woke me up with his Chinese Words of Wisdom for Friday “Man who run in front of car, get very tired��? If you have a better interpretation, let me know. I don’t get him sometimes… Anyhow, I showered and headed up to fuel for possibly one of the most boring days! The girls all decided to go lay out again and I, already experiencing the pain of BAD sunburn, decided to skip the tanning. For the first time in a while, I felt like a nerd, playing Guitar Hero for like an hour. At 2:00 I headed up to the basketball court for the preliminary dodgeball tournament which concluded that night, my team winning overall in the teen division and 2nd on the ship. Following the dodgeball tournament we had movie time in The Living Room and watched my DVD of Disturbia. Alicia, one of my interests just happened to join me in time for the best part of the movie and we hung out in the living room for the better part of the evening, until dinner. I changed and decided to pull the full tuxedo and I must say, I think I was more pleased with the outcome than the girls were. No shortage of love this evening however as I landed another title for the wall as well as a little more fun as 4 of us caught the 2am movie in the theater on deck 2 forward. 3:22am night 6 is over!
Day 7: At Sea
- The final day aboard the Mariner of the Seas was bittersweet. The morning consisted of hanging, talking, a little crying and a lot of fun. We had a snowball fight in the middle of the Caribbean, a Mariner classic! As well as watching Step Up 2 and having a random water war on the back deck. I also managed to secure a reigning champion title for Mariner of the Seas Air Hockey. One more night looming ahead, I went through the packing process and prepared for a final evening of fun. Our core group of 7 was reunited once again at 7:30 and we decided to chill on the helipad for a little while until Fuel opened at 11. At that point we headed in for the absolute wildest night of the entire cruise. Nobody held anything back and we’ll just say that when we were through with that club, it won’t ever look the same again. But 2:00 was too early to head in, so while one of the other guys had to disappear, Seamus and myself headed with the girls down to the conference room and sparing the complete details, it was a great end. 3:46 Its all over.
Day 8: Debarkation
- Today as I write this, I look back on the past 8 days and I’ve had an amazing spring break experience that I wouldn’t trade for anything in the world. Debarkation was extremely easy this morning and we were in our car 7 minutes after we walked out of the cabin. Its bittersweet to leave all of the amazing people that I’ve met but I always remember what a gift and an amazing opportunity it is to get to meet such a diverse and intriguing group of people. I look forward to cruising many times in the future and making memories as time goes by…