I had actually kept a blog on my iPhone when I took my trip on RCCL for the first time. I have no way of emailing it to myself so I'm not going to rewrite everything.
I will give you my opinion of my overall experience. The Mariner was probably 75% more enjoyable than any Carnival Ship I've been on and I cruised Carnival 5 times prior to taking my last cruise this past September.
A few things that did bother me. The first day we boarded the ship, we must have had 5 knocks on the door. I didn't appreciate that. It seemed like every worker on our side of the ship wanted to introduce themselves. I didn't need that.
I was used to ALWAYS having access to food Carnvial ships. There was no less than 3 times I wanted to eat and couldn't because the Windjammer was closed and no other venue to eat was open.
We spent no money onboard, but on the 3rd day they said our CC was being rejected, then they turned around and said it was probably being rejected because it was trying to be processed by an out of country entity, that entity was RCCL. From day 3 till the last night, day 7 we got letters from the front desk as if we were spending money AND were purposely avoiding paying our bill.
I would suggest doing as much as you can because there is a whole lot to do. We did the rock climbing wall and played mini golf and ice skated and jacuzzi'd ourself to prunes and chilled on deck and gambled and never once felt bored.
As seasoned cruisers me and the misses didn't take any RCCL sponsored shore tours, we spend about 1/2 the money doing our own thing at the same places everyone else from the ship was.
CCL Valor : September 2013
CCL Breeze : April 2013
RCCL Oasis : September 2012
RCCL Freedom : April 2012
CCL Destiny : April 2011
CCL Valor : September 2010
CCL Victory : March 2010
RCCL Adventure : September 2009
RCCL Monarch : March 2009
RCCL Mariner : September 2008
CCL Liberty : March 2008
CCL Valor : July 2007
CCL Celebration : March 2007
CCL Elation : March 2006
CCL Fantasy : October 2005
I have been on the Mariner twice--once the first year it came out--last time exactly a week ago. Matter of fact., a week ago tonight was our last night aboard.
I don't do " reviews " as such because there are so many variables--everyone has different expectations, etc. so I stay away from them.
Re/ do's and don'ts--do get tickets to the ice show. They're free but you need tickets. Do go about 20 minutes or so ahead of the scheduled time they start giving them out, as there will probably be a line. Do, by all means see the show.
I'm not disagreeing with anything the other poster said but in our case, both times, we only had the cabin steward introduce himself--no one else.
Re / food, there's room service 24hrs. a day. If the Windjammer is closed, there is a cafe on the promenade by Ben and Jerry's that stays open all night.
They have sandwiches, pizza, rolls, desserts, etc. and I found it to be quite good, as well as handy.
There are parades in the Royal Promenade--check your daily paper for the times--go early to get the best seat or area to watch from. The parades are fun and everyone seemed to enjoy them. Last week there was a a group doing a take on " The Village People "--YMCA, In The Navy, etc. They were very good.
At the Vintages wine bar is an excellent place to sit and watch the parades, people watch, relax and enjoy a glass of wine. The waitstaff there does a little dance to the tune of " I heard it thru the grapevine".
Feel free to join in if you can match their steps !!
If you like to take a lot of photos of the ship, check out the bars--Dungeons and Dragons and the Lotus Lounge make for some good photos.
Re / don'ts, I can't tell you about that--that's up to you. Relax, remember that there may be some small problem pop up from time to time but that's life--ashore or afloat.
Hope you enjoy the ship-- Last week the Capt. was Gus Andersson. He was very visible and personable. You would see him out and about quite often and he had no problem posing with people for photos. He may or may not be the Capt. when you cruise--hopefully he will be as he's one of the most accessible and visible ship's Captains I have seen on any cruiseline.
I have enjoyed reading your posts, as my companion and I are taking the Mariner to South America in Jan., too. Like you, I am interested in all comments regarding the ship, quality of service, food, etc. Cruised on the Legend last year, Tampa to Barcelona, but never a ship the size of the Mariner. I am looking forward to seeing the Promenade, etc. It looks like a lovely ship. Are you doing the full 46 day cruise?
Hello Java: No, we are leaving the cruise in Valpariso - DH can't take that
much time away from our business and we stopped at most of the same
places on te third teg when we did the full transit of the Panama Canal in Jan. 2007.
But with the cost of the Brazilian visa, YF shots and maybe a tourist tax
for Argentina - would be nice to go back again.
Costa Atlantica, Jan. 2002 Caribbean
Dawn Princess, Jan. 2003 Caribbean,
Celebrity Summit - Jan. 2007 Panama Canal - Full Transit
Mariner of the Seas - Jan. 2009 Around the Horn B2B - 30 days
Mariner was a lot of fun, with loads of activities, but was way too crowded for me. The main thing that ticked me off was that they put all kinds of tables in the already crowded public spaces for selling all kinds of crappy watches, gold by the inch and other junk, which made it impossible to get through. Bottom line IMO. Absolutely beautiful ship, with lots and lots of activities. A bit overpriced, and not very well managed. Perhaps they have a new cruise director, who knows how to schedule the activities.
We just returned from the Mariner (Oct 19th sailing). The ship is huge, quite a bit larger than the Radiance class. To be honest, too big for me. With that many pax, it was difficult to do everything we wanted to do because of the crowds. We tried on several occasions to eat at Johnny Rockets, but the times we arrived there was at least an hour wait on each occasion. The main pool are looks like a "kids zone" with the way it is decorated and the adults only solarium isn't big enough to accomodate the adults that don't want to deal with the children in the main pool area.
We had to tender at 2 of the ports we stopped at and after a long hot day the lines were very long to get back to the ship.
The food in the windjammer was not as good as it used to be and Jade never had any type of sushi or even california rolls. I really dont think that the Asian inspired pizza did too well. There was always a line at the frozen yogurt machine. the best coffee was served at the Cafe Promanade. The coffee in the dining room is very strong. I had to order 1/2 cup of coffee and ask for hot water to dilute it to be able to drink it.
I didn't like the "Royal Promanade" set up, I prefer a main centrum as in the Radiance and Vision class ships. Sometimes the lay out was confusing. You can't get to the main dining room from deck 3 forward, you have to go up one level then down again. We had a D2 cabin which was slightly larger than an E2 on the radiance class. The service onboard the RC fleet was impeccable, as always and the dining room is awe inspiring. Don't miss the ice show. It was very good. If you like to spend time in the casino, the slots are VERY TIGHT. I don't think that any one won much on the slots. Another dissapointment was the entertainment.
We did not go to any of the shows on board, that is just not our thing. And there was no rock type music at any of the bars. No jazz or blues either, or they were playing too late in the evening for us (after 1am). I can't see us booking another cruise on the larger ships. The radiance class in my personal favorite.
Fantasy - Bahamas 4/96
Rhaposdy - S Caribbean 11/97
Jewel OTS - Western Europe 9/07
Mariner OTS- W Caribbean 10/08
I wasn't planning on giving my opinion but I feel I should after reading the other reviews. I really believe we either had a great bunch of people on our ship or we just had a great attidude about it. My husband and I went on our Honeymoon on the Mariner Sept 27 thru Oct 5. I have traveled a good bit but this was my first cruise and his as well. WE ABSOLUTELY LOVED IT!! I Cannot even think of one thing to complain about except for the rough seas we experienced. Our ship was not at all crowded, food was good (not fabulous but what can you expect think about how many people they are cooking for), entertainment was wonderful except for the guy from Foreigner (which was really disappointing bc im a fan), and I think the room was almost soundproof!! I liked having an interior room it made it easy to sleep late on at sea days. I thought the Royal Promenade was beautiful, but I do agree the layout of the ship can be confusing at times. It wont take you long to figure out where you need to go. I loved our cruise and we are completely addicted to cruising now. We are planning on 2 in 2009!! Have a great vacation and remember your cruise is what you make of it!!