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We had heard many good things about this ship and were looking for a last minute cruise - so we picked the Mariner. Looking at RCI website we saw there were only Inside cabins left 4 days before she was due to sail, so we decided to bite the bullet and take one, even though they are our least favorite. When calling our Travel Agent we found that they had just received a balcony cancellation.. that was a no brainer, so we happily paid for it. Five minutes later our Travel Agent called us back and told me that we had been upgraded to a Junior Suite. Sweet!
After parking our car in the parking garage at Port Canaveral we made our way to the check-in. It was 11:00 am. By 11:20 we had been whisked aboard as we have Platinum status, never having to stand in a line for even one minute. We were thrilled.
We made our way to the Windjammer Cafe as instructed by the staff, all the while oohing and aahing about the beautiful ship. Outside the restaurant we met up with Rose and Howie (sailingrose) who were traveling with Crazie, the bear. We sat together for lunch enjoying the pretty restaurant, the food and the conversation with our new found friends.
We then made our way to our cabin - what a surprise! It was gorgeous. It was at the front of the ship and was extremely large with a beautifully appointed granite bathroom (including bath tub) - we also loved our large balcony which had two chairs, a table, a footrest and a chaise. Not to forget the walk-in closet, enough space for your clothing for a round the world cruise. My favorite was the chaise style comfy chair where I could sit and read or watch TV, with my feet up.
The rest of the afternoon we walked around the ship orientating ourselves. My oh My...... up to this point we had done 17 cruises, most of which were taken on beautifully elegant ships, but this ship beats them all, hands down, as the most stunning ship that we have had the pleasure of cruising on. I must say the Royal Promenade is amazing - not only beautiful and practical but also gives one the feel of lots of space. At NO time during this cruise did we feel that there were 3,400 people on board. At NO time did we feel crowded!!!
The formal dining rooms are on three levels and our little table for two was tucked away in a side wing, it felt like we were having dinner with only another 20 people in a fine dining restaurant. Kudo's to this ships designers.
Not only is the ship drop dead gorgeous but the Captain - Captain Johnny is an absolute HOOT!!! He should be in Hollywood. He has such a lot of personal contact with the cruisers and rides around the bridge on a little scooter. He also has a Harley Davidson motorbike on Deck one which he uses around the islands. You can go to the Peek-a-boo bridge and watch him and the other officers at work on the bridge.... fascinating. And then there were the staff. THE BEST STAFF we have ever encountered on any cruise. With a Captain like they've got, it's no wonder. We had exceptional service wherever we went.
The food was excellent. Every steak was tender and the lobster tails were succulent and perfectly cooked. They have an excellent variety of foods at the Windjammer Cafe and one can even have pizza and delicious sandwiches down at the Promenade Cafe on the Royal Promenade, with your steaming cup of Seattle's Best coffee at the same time as sitting bistro style outside, people watching - that's always entertaining.
The return guest party ad the party for the Platinum/Diamond members were both well attended and the drinks and food flowed freely. One couple onboard were on their 30th cruise aboard the Mariner of the Seas and it was their 105th cruise on Royal Caribbean. That says something, doesn't it?
Our favorite bar by far was the Viking Crown/Ellingtons right at the top of the ship, with sweeping windows facing the pool deck and ocean. We met here for appetizers and Champagne at the beginning of our Dinner Theater evening as well - it's an awesome bar. We would sneak up there for a BBC whenever we felt like having a relaxing moment.
Yes we did the fun Dinner Theater! We booked as soon as we got onboard and were very glad we did, it was screamingly funny and the dinner in the Portofino Restaurant was delicious. Another fun thing we did was go to the Ice Show.... I recommend this show to everyone, it is so professional and the skaters from all around the world were excellent - don't miss it.
The pool decks were also very attractive with plenty of chairs everywhere, they have even built tiers (like bleachers) with chairs on them, so they have lots of room for sun worshippers, and there's also the ever popular Frozen Yoghurt bar in one corner. Next to the pools is the gorgeous Solarium where we spent some time relaxing, but never did seem to find the time for a soak in one of the jacuzzi's.
Our itinerary was changed slightly due to Tropical Storm Hanna. They cut out our stop at Coco Cay. I must say I was thrilled, another sea day for us is always a bonus. The other two ports of call were St. Thomas and St. Maarten which we enjoyed. We have been to them both many times and have done all the touristy excursions, so we walked around town in both ports and then were happy to return at lunch time to our luxurious accommodations.
I think this ship has spoilt us now. One thing I will say here is that neither of us liked the mega ships, we have always graduated to the smaller ships, because of the preconceived idea that with so many people onboard you will feel claustrophobic. It couldn't be further from the truth. RCI has accomplished the unthinkable with the design of their ships. We never had to wait and wait for an elevator, they have so many. We never had to search for a table in the Windjammer - they had so many.
We made sure that we utilized their onboard booking program, by paying $100 deposit each for a future cruise, and receiving up to a $200 Onboard Credit, depending on the length of the cruise you choose - we are really looking forward to our next cruise on RCI. If there was ever a ship I would love to do a repeat sail on - it's the Mariner of the Seas!!!