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Mariner of the Seas
October 11th through October 18, 2009 (Seven Days)
Master: Captain Johnny Faevelen
Cruise Director: Dave Chapman
Stateroom #7591, Deck 7, Midship.
This was our 55th cruise. A group cruise which we organized for our church.
Our chartered bus departed at 7:10 AM from Las Vegas to San Pedro World Cruise Center arriving at 1:30PM. Dropped off everyone's luggage to the waiting porters close to the terminal.
Boarding process was quick, easy and painless; the entire process took about 10 minutes. There were no large crowds at this time of day. All staterooms were ready for occupancy when we boarded.
Our stateroom was overlooking the Grand Promenade on Deck 7 and was very easy to find. It was the smallest size stateroom we have had in decades. We found minimal storage space and hangers for our one week cruise. It was an interesting stateroom configuration. Would we book this type of room again...NO.
The bathroom was quite small, but worked out fine as long as we both did not try and be in there at the same time. The shower was the small but worked out well because it had sliding Plexiglas doors rather than a shower curtain. The shower water temperature and pressure never varied and was excellent.
We then went up to Deck 11 to the Windjammer Cafe for some lunch. The array of offerings was quite impressive and we felt our cruise was off to a good start.
The ever-popular, mandatory Lifeboat Drill took place at 4:30 PM just before sailing out of San Pedro. Never much fun, but this one was less painless than most and well organized. We were surprised when we were advised we did not have to take our life jackets to the Muster Station.
Our luggage had arrived at our stateroom when we returned from Lifeboat Drill so we unpacked and skipped the Sailaway Party on deck.
For the next two delightful days we were at sea, heading for Mazatlan, Mexico. Our first scheduled Cabo San Lucas stop was rescheduled as our last stop due to storms in the area and rough seas. Will not bore you with day to day details, except to say the weather was near perfect and so were most aspects of our Mariner of the Seas adventure. The days were filled with all of the typical shipboard activities. We however opted to just take it easy and, other than a couple of games of Mexican Train with friends, did not participate in most of the activities.
We found the food aboard the Mariner of the Seas to be the excellent and were never disappointed. We only visited the Windjammer three times during our trip. All the rest of our meals we in the dining room. Lunch in the dining room featured a salad bar where you made your selection from dozens of items, told them what kind of dressing and they tossed and chopped it using a pizza cutter and you ended up with a dinner plate of fantastic salad. We did this everyday we were in the dining room. This was in addition to their regular entree selections.
The production shows in the Savoy Theater were quite good, although the first one, which featured music of the 80's was not to our taste. Never had a problem getting a good seat and there was no need to arrive very early as we have found on some ships. The guest performers were somewhat less than exciting and we felt we could have skipped those shows
Our fellow passengers included some very experienced travelers, as expected most were from California or other western states. This sailing was complete sell out with about 3000 plus folks on board.
Ports of call included Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan and Cabo San Lucas. We have visited all of these ports many, many times, so booked no shore excursions. We did go ashore at all of the ports on our own. In Cabo, we did a Glass Bottom Boat ride which was great. Just us and our neighbor Robin on the boat. Cost by the way was $8.00 per person.
The disembarkation was a breeze. We had reclaimed our luggage and at our bus by 9:00 AM. We had to wait for departure for about an hour as other members of our group straggled aboard the bus.
Signs of the Times:
Cost and corner cutting was very evident on this cruise. Very minimal bathroom sundries, not chocolates on our pillows in the evening, a small bag of laundry was $25 for wash and fold, a charge for a filet mignon of $14.95 in the dining room. There is no doubt that the "bean counters" have taken over RCI.
One comment I must make is that RCI has the worst elevators at sea. Located fore and aft only, they are slow and crowded. I arrived at dinner angry every evening after the "elevator fight."
RCI Loyalty Program:
This is the area where we as Diamond Level Members saw the most change. This program in my opinion is worthless. Their "Diamond Coupon Book" included such wonderful perks as 15% off on any bottle of wine costing over $100. Ten minutes of "free" internet time AFTER you purchase one of their blocks of time.
As a result of their Loyalty Program, the elevators and other cuts, we have decided that we will NOT be cruising on RCI again.