The night before the cruise we stayed at the Four Points Sheraton. I did not find a lot written here about the hotel except that the pool was terrible. We did not use the pool, but I understand the criticism of it because it is in the parking deck and does not seem to have a lot of access to sunlight. Overall, we really liked the hotel…worlds above our experience at the Radisson. The staff was helpful and friendly and the room was clean and really large. We ate at the hotel’s restaurant…I think it was called the Shark Pit, and it was the best hotel food we had ever had. We had the spinach dip and each had a sandwich and it was all really good! The package came with parking at the Radisson for the week and a shuttle, but we opted to take a cab to the port to get there earlier.
The ship is really beautiful. And I was impressed that there were recognizable differences between the Mariner and other Voyager class ships that I had been on. We had a hump balcony and I couldn’t recommend this location enough. We could get anywhere on the ship easily and the room itself was spacious and had a lot of storage. I asked here before I booked whether the port or starboard side would give me a better view. I was told to get the starboard side, but I would recommend the other side of the ship for views of the ports while docked. The ship seemed very clean…maintenance workers were constantly painting. And I appreciate that there are hand sanitizers outside of all of the eating areas. All of the passengers seemed to be receptive to them.
The ship’s amenities are great…I think Voyager class ships are unmatched for the experience they provide active cruisers. The promenade provides a great place for people watching. Of course on this front, my boyfriend was blown away by Royal Caribbean and really liked this ship better than even the newer Carnival ships we have been on.
I was very disappointed with the food on this ship. The Windjammer buffet was pretty standard. My boyfriend really enjoyed the Jade selections there. However, I never got a good piece of beef in the dining room. The meat seemed to be a poor quality and very fatty to me. I don’t eat seafood, but my boyfriend was disappointed with every piece of fish he tried; although, he did like the lobster. I also didn’t enjoy the new family style way of serving some of the salads. I was on the Adventure of the Seas a few months earlier and had a great food experience, so I am hoping this experience on the Mariner was a fluke. Our dining room waiter and assistant waiter were wonderful. We ate at Chops one night and the food was excellent, but we found the service lacking and would have rather been served by our regular dining room staff. My boyfriend commented that the food was better on Carnival, which was the opposite of what everyone on my August cruise thought…I do think this experience was not indicative of the lines as a whole.
The production shows were pretty bad. The ice show was great. We enjoyed the Temptations Tribute group. We also spent some time at the Boleros bar…the atmosphere there was fun. We went to Quest and as it was my boyfriend’s first time on Royal Caribbean, he did not know exactly what to expect. We were a little too close to the front and our cruise director Becky came and picked him out to participate. I was pretty mortified for him, but he took it well and was recognized the rest of the week. He was covered with lipstick by the end of it and needed a shower right away! Quest is really fun and I recommend making a point to go! I had seen it several times with male cruise directors, so it was interesting to see how Becky did it her way. She was a wonderful cruise director. When Becky was injured, Phillip took over as cruise director, and I thought he was great as well.
Overall, this may have been my best cruise ever. I hope the above review does not sound too negative. In my opinion, any cruise is great, but this one was just too good! The weather, the room, the ship, the ports, the excursions! It was excellent and I am working to try and take a big group on the same cruise next December. I hope this helps you! [/font][/size]