RCL- Mariner of the Seas 12 Night Holy Lands
My 23rd cruise with a three day pre-cruise jaunt in Rome, more information is written separately on my blog at cruisinbob.com
Embarkation: Port of Civitavecchia is located about 3-4 miles from the train station. Took the train from Rome then walked about ½ mile on a paved path to the port entrance, you then board a shuttle to the ship/check-in. You drop off your luggage at the check-in entrance (NOT where you get on the shuttle e bus), have the ONE page pre cruise documents printed and you are good to go.
Cabins: I had an Inside promenade view cabin on deck #6, actually the curtains were not often drawn as it affected privacy. Overall I was happy: a small fridge; a separate his/her’s closet and an easy to use room safe and TV. TV had limited programming – you are able to view your on board account, make excursion reservations and view the daily dinning menu. I have one complaint: too many ship announcements at odd times.
Dining/Food: I pre-paid gratuities, “My Time Dinning/MTD” which is the ONLY way to go. MTD went very smooth (you can choose your own dining time) and the maître desk was extremely accommodating to changes. I never waited for a table and was seated immediately I even was seated at the requested table. I ate all my evening meals in the main dining room, overall food quality, taste and presentation “I THINK” was average, however, the service was SUPERB! When not in port, I ate all my breakfast and lunch meals in the main dining room and generally had a very good experience; the lunch salad bar in the dining room is terrific. I went to the Windjammer twice and in my opinion the Windjammer café food was awful! The wine package deal is much overpriced for the quality for the quality of wines but you are a captive audience.
Public Rooms: The Mariner is very well maintained and appears new. As a non smoker I encountered very little smoke/smoking issues except when walking through the casino on deck 4. The ship is designed with the 3rd, 4th and 5th decks as the main hubs of activity, i.e. shops (located in the middle aft area), photo gallery, meeting rooms, etc. My favorite hangout area for a drink was the “Schooner bar” located on deck 4, this particular bar has a lovely viewing window and trivia was played there almost nightly @ 5:30. The quality of drinks was good but drinks prices are ridiculously high. There were very few daily drink specials and the specials tended to be more of the sweet fruity type.
Entertainment: In the evening, you can walk the promenade and just people watch. I was very disappointed in the music that was offered, except for a piano player in the schooner bar where it was so crowed nightly with no place to sit. There was also a good guitar player found at the Pub but that was a smoking area and even though I was tempted there was just too much smoke. Sorry but the rest of the music was not to my taste and I was very disappointed. “Karaoke” was offered only on three nights and two of these nights it was standing room only, so I hope that Mgt gets a clue. The ice show was excellent and a few of the shows were quite good and others I walked out, so it depends on your tastes, I am not into the Broadway revue musicals. I was looking forward to the juggler, but he let me down as he talked and joked more then he juggled. No seating or space issues.
Activities: A variety of activities are offered throughout the cruise. From the very popular progressive trivia which eventually became a quest to win for many teams (the lounge was full) to Bingo, the not-so-new marriage game. There were numerous errors in the daily schedules but the standard; volleyball, 3 on 3 hoops, table tennis, soccer, climbing wall and ice skating was available. In addition, Nintendo Wii was offered on a daily basis, Texas hold'em was offered but it had a steep entry fee and low turnout.
Excursions: I go into great lengths so look at my blog (cruisinbob.com) for the in depth port excursion review.
Disembarkation: Overall disembarkation was smooth and quick – Breakfast buffet is open till 8:30am and the main dining room till 08:00. Prior to disembarking – a day before - specific luggage tags color based on your transportation connections are left in your room. You wait in designated areas and can only pickup your luggage at the terminal only after your color is called to disembark. I was arranging transportation for a large group and we all disembarked together and had our transportation waiting, very easy. Less than 10 minutes.
Overall Thoughts: A very nice cruise, nice ship with some great ports. This is a very port intensive cruise and I would suggest you have it well planned. I enjoyed the “Mariner” but would not sail her again as it was a little too big for my taste and too many other ships I want to sail, however, start packing now! www.cruisinbob.com