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This ship is beautiful! We've been on the Voyager and the Explorer and the Mariner is just as gorgeous. We had an aft balcony (7688) and the balcony was so huge! We had 2 lounge chairs, 2 regular chairs, and a small round table. We spent alot of time on it, having room service, relaxing before dinner, before bedtime, etc. When you go aft, you'll never go back!
Embarkation and debarkation went more smoothly than we've ever experienced. We had the beige color tags for debarkation because of a morning flight. There was no crowding at the exit and we were off in a flash. When I talked to some other family members who got off later, they also said it went very smoothly.
The rooms weren't available until 1 pm as Studiowind said, and the Windjammer did indeed look like a feeding frenzy! We made our spa appointments and checked on the table assignments early the first day. We did have a major problem with the tables (14 family members spread out in 4 tables, 2 levels!). The head maitre'd was quite rude and claimed that nothing could be done. We complained to the Purser and also called our TA. Being Sunday, our TA couldn't call RCCL but the Purser emailed them and it was all straightened out the next day. The customer service we received (except for that maitre'd) was far and beyond exceptional. We even received 2 phone calls to make sure we were happy. Our waiters were good but we were spoiled by our waiters from our cruise on the Voyager. We even spent time on Labadee with them! It just made it so much more personal, even though I think they stayed around because of my 2 beautiful twin nieces who were 21 at the time! I digress....
Cabin stewards Ruby and Benjamin were great. They knew our names very quickly, the rooms were always done up quickly, and they were very patient on the day my husband unfortunately had to take care of a customer that was completely down. He works on the computers that run feedmills, asphalt plants, etc. Thank goodness we had rented a satelite phone. It was only $1.80 per minute instead of $7.95 a minute through the ship.
We went to Chops on Caribbean night also. Excellent food but be prepared as it does take a very long time for the experience. We love the onion rings and milkshakes at Johnny Rockets! We used our Crown & Anchor coupons and even went a time or two more! IMHO, the food quality has declined slightly but then again, I don't have to cook it or clean up so I was happy!
The comedians were great. The comedian/magician had all corny jokes but his delivery was superb. No big names that I recognized but all were excellent.
Captain Johnny and Becky (Hello Luv) are wonderful! Don't miss the Quest! Karoke was great, especially since my cousin Veronica won the Best Overall. She even got offered a job onboard but it seems she likes Alaska too much!
Ports: I personally like the sea days better! I'm not into the shopping but I love the beaches.
St. Martin - the color of the water is stunning. Some nudity (women topless) where we were but not much. DH and DS went deep sea fishing and were very impressed with the boat. DS caught a huge fish - a wahoo? I booked it through Shoretrips.com. Would definitely recommend using them again. I booked horseback riding for myself and 2 other family members through them also. It was ok but it did not compare at all to the horseback ride in the ocean on Jamacia that we did on an earlier cruise.
St. Thomas - We took a taxi to Sapphire Beach Resort (the driver recommended it over Coki Beach) where DH and DS jet skiied while I relaxed on the beach ($5 for a lounge chair). Nice relaxing day!
Nassau - Took the water taxi to Paradise island to visit the Atlantis Hotel. Tip: Don't walk to the hotel - take a taxi to the hotel. It's further than you think! Didn't get much time to see the Atlantis but what we did see was impressive.
Service...............Excellent (except for that head maitre'd)
Anyone going on the Mariner will love her!