Don't fix what wasn't broken
Mariner of the Seas Cruise Review to Caribbean - Western
Sail Date: December 03, 2006
Cabin Type: Suite
Traveled As: Couple
Reviewed: 7 years ago
Review SummaryIt was our 35th wedding anniversary and my husband and I and some friends decided to take a sure bet for our celebration because we had been on Mariner four times previously and loved everything about our previous experiences.. We took a back to back cruise (both eastern and western) for an extended celebration.
What we found was a ship in transition trying to fix something that wasn't broken. It seems the Mariner has been selected as an innovation ship to try new things. I'm all for new, but that doesn't make it better.
One of the first things is a change in the dining service which in the past has been exceptional and one of our favorite things. With a concern for safety they are trying the use of food carts to carry food rather than trays above the head. Makes perfect sense to avoid back injury but they were very intrusive into the diners space. At lunch one afternoon I had a cart at the back of my chair and the waiter right on top of me. When I called it to the attention of the head waiter he went on and on about the satety issue (which I am all for) but he should have noticed the intrusion and fixed it before I mentioned. By the way, he never did have the waiter move it, the waiter finally finished and moved it himself. This contined throughout the cruises. They need to cut out sections of the serv ice areas to accommodate the carts if this is the future correction.
We also noticed a less managed wait staff. There didn't seem to be much direction from the head wait teams. Most of the time they were almost invisible. We also noticed that there was a lack of respect shown by the waiters in some of the comments and actions. Breakfast and lunch needed more management, there were never enough tables prepared to handle the diners and there most always was a wait while tables were readied.
Food was average at best, a decline in past experiences. New menus with little creativity. We actually looked forward to dinner in the Windjammer several nights as there was nothing appealing on the dining room menu. They have eliminated the fun presentation of desserts. I am not a dessert person but was often tempted by the presentation.
One delightful experience were the four visits to the Chops Dining Room. The food is fabulous and the service over the top. We had the same wait team each time and by the second week we didn't even have to order! This is a splurge worth $20.
We had a junior suite on deck nine which is spacious and very comfortable. One area of service that has not changed is the terrific service of the cabin attendants. We had Hazel both weeks and she was a doll. She was efficient and met every need. Congrats to the hotel manager for not innovating anything into an already great experience.
Having been on Mariner many times the only entertainment we reviewed was the Ice Under the Big Top show. We attended both weeks and enjoyed it each time. We sat center front one week and up higher the next and each week seemed like a different show. This is not to be missed. We found that the shows later in the week are less crowded.
Ports are pretty much the standard Caribbean experience. Although we had not gotten off in Labadee lately and were very pleasantly surprised at how wonderful they have made the day experience in this port.
A great thing about RCCL is the Concierge Lounge provided to Diamond and Diamond Plus members. Each evening cocktails and snacks are available prior to dinner. The staff in the lounge are wonderful and can help with a variety of activities while you are on the boat. This in one really great idea RCCL has and we hope they continue this trend.
Embarkation and disembarkation are very smooth and they have made some great improvements in their efficiency .
Overall we were disappointed because our expectations from previous visits had been so high. I hope that they will return Mariner to it's former status and experiment somewhere else in the fleet.
Ports of Call
Pros: Conciege Lounge
Cons: Dining Service and food