CRUISE SHIP REVIEW: Royal Caribbean’s Mariner of the Seas
In October 2018, I took a 3-day cruise to The Bahamas on the refurbished Mariner of the Seas. The ship was renovated by Royal Caribbean earlier in 2018 at a cost of $120 million. While I was never on the old version of the Mariner of the Seas, the ship felt very new and had a lot of nice touches. In this review, I’ll walk through the features of the ship.
I bought the deluxe drink package for the cruise, which includes all soda, juice, water, beer, wine, and liquor. It was definitely worth it on this cruise since we planned on spending a lot of time on the ship. We stayed on the ship at CocoCay and only got off in Nassau for a short time.
After boarding, we headed to the Promenade, which is an elaborate indoor walkway on the ship that includes restaurants, bars, and shops. It’s also where customer relations is located. We spent our time in the Promenade after boarding, as our cabin was not yet ready when we boarded.
My husband and I stayed in a balcony room. I have to say, the room was pretty large for a cruise ship, and the bathroom was a decent size as well (given that you’re on a ship). The balcony was decently sized and left room for a few of us to be on the balcony. The room comes with everything you would expect for a hotel room: outlets, closet, television with cable, iron, and a safe.
Dining and Bars
Mariner of the Seas has many different choices in terms of dining and bars. There is pretty much something for everybody. In particular, I think Royal Caribbean did a real nice job with the bars that are on board the ship. There’s different venues with different vibes, and it makes it feel like you are barhopping while on the ship. Overall, they did a really good job with that aspect of the ship.
This bar is Polynesia-styled and has drinks to match that theme. We were some of the first people on the ship so it was empty when we were there. It took them awhile to make the drinks, but the vibe here is really cool. Of all the bars I’ve been on in the three cruises I’ve done on three different ships, this was definitely the coolest. Certain drinks come in cool glasses, but those drinks are actually a premium from the drink package and aren’t included.
The menu includes all the regular drinks you could get at any bar, and then it has cool drinks that are themed with the bar. You will have to pay a premium for those drinks that are referred to as “specialty cocktails.”
There’s a couple of tables and chairs that have fake windows with backlighting to make it look real. It’s a pretty nice touch to a bar that doesn’t seem to skimp on giving a having a good vibe.
The bar has vibrant backlighting and a well-lit bar area.
There’s a good amount of seating for the size of the bar. There are booths, tables, and bar seating available.
After we had a drink at Bamboo room, we headed to the Café Promenade for a bite to eat. The café is open 24 hours a day. They have pizza, sandwiches, pastries, coffee, and assorted snacks. I had pizza, which was pretty good as far as mass-produced cruise food can be.
Wig and Gavel Pub
After the safety briefing, we headed to the pub to give it a try. Apparently, everybody else had the same idea. The pub was a cool place to grab a quick pint. It also has live music, which was enjoyable. The drinks at the pub are also included in the deluxe drinking package.
The Windjammer is the buffet-style restaurant that serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The food here was eh, to say the very least. In addition, there is a bar in the Windjammer, but it is incredibly slow. It was often quicker for me to walk out to the bar on the pool deck to get a drink rather than wait for the bar service in the café. This is, of course, because there are masses of people there to eat.
The food was very unimpressive. They have regular foods you would expect, such as pizza, hamburgers, hotdogs, salad, etc. They also had a section of Indian-style food, which did not look appetizing at all. They also had a dessert station as well, but the desserts were very unimpressive.
Main Dining Room
The main dining room is where the nightly dinners are held. We scheduled the earlier seating to give us time to do more at nighttime. There are two seatings every night for dinner. The dining room is very large, taking up three floors. The service here was good. Each table is assigned a waiter and an assistant waiter. The assistant waiter gets drinks, brings refills, and delivers the meals. I have absolutely not complaints about the service, and our waiter was absolutely wonderful.
I thought the dinner food was pretty good. The menu has items that are there every night of the cruise and then a menu that changes every night. I got shrimp cocktail and escargot every night as my appetizer, and then switched up my main meal depending on the night. The presentation of the food was less then stellar, but it was pretty good.
With that being said, they also serve breakfast in the main dining room if you want table service. You can also go to Windjammer for a breakfast buffet. The dining room has a menu for breakfast, as well as a buffet option. The service for breakfast was not good and at all, and it made me thankful for the waiter we had at dinner. Overall, the breakfast was unimpressive and the food fell short.
If you are looking for a dining option late night, Johnny Rockets is one of the options. This is not included in dining options, so you’ll have to pay around $10 a person in order to eat there. The fee allows you to eat unlimited food there, except for drinks (unless you have the package) and gratuities. Overall, the Johnny Rockets was disappointing. The food was not good at all. I’ve had Johnny Rockets on land and love the food, but I did not care for it on the ship. It definitely was not worth the cost.
If you’ve been on another Royal Caribbean ship, you are probably aware of Boleros. It’s a Latin-themed club that, aside from regular bar service, also serves Brazilian capirinhas. During the nighttime, they also have live music available. I will say, this Boleros was different than the Boleros I experienced on Empress of the Seas. That was much more of a club feel, while the Boleros on Mariner of the Seas was much more of a classy bar feel rather than a dance club.
This bar is also probably recognizable if you have been on a Royal Caribbean cruise before. This is a piano-style bar with a classic nautical theme that is great to just hang out and grab a quick drink while waiting to go on to something else. On the last night of the cruise, they held music trivia in the bar. The purpose of the game was the host played a short snippet of a song and you had to write down what the song title was. It was a pretty fun game, and everybody was really having a good time.
Entertainment and Activities
The pools on the main deck was surrounded by two hot tubs and then a bar. The pool was very quiet on the day we were in CocoCay because most people got off the ship and went to the island. We stayed back, and it was a great choice. The pool was very quiet and the bar service was very quick. On the day we were in the Bahamas after everybody got back on the ship, the pool was crowded. That’s to be expected for sure. There is also an adults-only section (Solarium) with a pool and hot tubs, which we did not experience because we had a child with us. There are also water slides on the pool deck.
Each night of the cruise we were on, they offered a movie night in the pool area. There is a big screen on the pool deck, and they put the movies on there. During our cruise, they played one of the Avengers movies and King Kong.
The Sky Pad is a virtual reality trampoline experience. You put on virtual reality glasses and stand on a trampoline. You get to pick the “world” that you’re in. I chose space. The graphics for it are very basic and looks like an old-style Atari game. You basically bounce on the trampoline and you then feel like you’re bouncing through space. It was not really worth the wait, though I’m sure for kids it is a lot of fun. As a note, a parent or guardian is required to sign a waiver in order to experience the Sky Pad.
The Sky Pad was next to the Flowrider, which was a surfing experience that I think I may have killed myself if I tried.
There was a mini golf course on the upper deck. We tried to go mini golfing twice, but it was always so busy we never got a chance. There was also a lot of people just walking across the course as people were trying to golf. It was very crowded and the entire area seemed very disorganized. I was finally able to snap a picture at one point where it cleared out, but otherwise the course was very busy.
There is an arcade available. It’s cash only, so you can’t use your cruise card in the arcade. There are ATMs on other decks you can use to go get cash out to use in the arcade.
We watched an enjoyable and amazingly talented ice skating show. I was thoroughly impressed by the skating, and they also made it funny. The area is transformed into a skating rink, but this is also the same area where you can play laser tag at specific times when it’s not filled with ice.
There’s a large theater where they also have shows. During our cruise, this is where Gallery of Dreams happened and on another night they had a comedian magician. In that case, the comedian wasn’t all that funny, and the magic was just okay. There is a lot of seating in the theater, but it does fill up quickly.
There is a rock climbing wall on the top deck of the ship as well. There was very rarely a line to get to do it, unlike the Sky Pad. There was also a basketball court right next to the rock climbing wall.
Of course, there’s a casino where you can go ahead and give even more money to the cruise line! I say this as somebody who doesn’t gamble simply because I don’t enjoy it. That being said, they have what you would expect in a casino: poker, slots, blackjack, and other card games. They also have two bars in the casino, which actually made some of the best drinks I had on the cruise.
The renovation seems to have really improved this ship. I’ve looked at old pictures of how it used to look and Royal Caribbean has done a good job creating a more classy feel to the ship. There really is something for everybody, from families to couples to singles. It’s especially good on the 3-day cruise we did because it’s a decently sized ship for such a short time at sea. I am not the most experienced cruiser, but I definitely enjoyed this ship over my other experience on Royal Caribbean and my cruise on Carnival.