Recently I returned from a sailing on Mariner of the Seas to the Western Caribbean. It was a five night cruise from Port Canaveral visiting Perfect Day at Cocoa Cay and Cozumel with two days at Sea, Today I am giving my review of the embarkation process, my stateroom and the food.
Embarkation was probably the easiest I have experienced in a while due to the fact the ship was about half capacity. Of course it is a little different than in the past but still fast. You must show your vaccine card, test results and passport or birth certificate prior to entering the building. Once inside I went right through security and up the escalators where I was actually chosen for priority check in. I would say from car to ship, maybe 10 minutes.
Once on board, I headed straight to my muster station so I could complete my muster drill. Muster is now done different and to be honest I love it. You simply watch a video on the phone app, go to your muster station at some point prior to 3:30 and check in. They will show you how to use a life jacket and then you are on your way. No more big crowds or having to stop what your doing for the drill.
Back in December I received an offer for a Royal Upgrade. If you are not familiar with this, you can make a bid to upgrade your room to a higher category. Originally I was booked into a Promenade View Interior which I have had before but made a bid on a Spacious Panoramic Ocean View. Wow, am I glad I did. These were brand new rooms added back in 2018 during the refurbishment and feature a floor to ceiling window. They are located on the front of the ship on deck 12 and have amazing views. Mine was 1860 just off to the side in the corner but I could see the top of the bridge.
The location was perfect for me. I went down one deck to deck 11 and the Solarium was right there in the front of the ship. Also on deck 11 located on the aft of the ship, the Windjammer buffet so easy access. Then down to deck 5 and I had the Café Promenade for pizza and desserts.
The room itself felt huge with a king size bed as well as a sofa. One of the noticable features of any Royal Caribbean stateroom is in the bathroom where they have shower doors instead of a curtain. Just makes the shower seem a little bigger. There was plenty of storage with two closets plus drawers in the vanity, a safe and a mini fridge.
The only issue I could find with the room was how much I heard from other staterooms. It seemed like the walls were pretty thin but it could have had to do with the kids next-door who were left alone and went insane.
I know, something people always want to know about is the food and I can tell you, it was fantastic. I will say the Windjammer has others beat when it comes to the selection for the buffet. I ate breakfast in the buffet all but one morning and it was great with a huge selection from pancakes, eggs how you like it, breakfast meats, potatoes, oatmeal and grits. Plus they had pastries and other continental breakfast options. The only thing I would say negative was about the coffee. For some reason it was just not good and I doctor mine up quite a bit. But, the orange juice was on point so I kept going back for more glasses.
A note on how its working in the Windjammer during these protocols. When you walk in, you will have to scan your card and then as always, wash your hands. The crew will hand you the plates and silverware and will serve almost everything with a few exceptions. I was pleased with the way they handled it because I never really waited and they were not skimpy on the portions unless you told them to be. For the tables, they have cards on them that say cleaned or unavailable so of course you can sit at the ones that are cleaned. This is the case really anywhere there were tables. And they did a quick job of turning those tables over.
For the last sea day, I ate breakfast in the dining room. I expected a buffet style like I have seen in the past but it was a full sit down breakfast. A lot of great items on the menu including Eggs Benedict but I went with blueberry pancakes and eggs. I only wanted a side of eggs but got that plus a mountain of bacon and sausage. I highly recommend breakfast in the dinning room at least once during the cruise.
For lunch I had options from the Windjammer to The Dog House which are all included or pay a little and have lunch at Johnny Rockets. I ate mostly at the Windjammer having a hamburger, some potato salad or mac & cheese and a salad. Same as breakfast, lots of options throughout the buffet. One day I did have a hot dog from the Dog House and it was pretty good. You can also get sausage dogs with a tone of options for toppings.
For dinner, all but one night I ate in the main dining room and I am glad I did. Before I talk about the food though, I want to mention Marvin and Marlin my waitstaff. They were fantastic both friendly, efficient and funny and made it a great experience.
The dinner menu is divided up into those items they have every night and new items each night. For example, the appetizers always included the French Onion Soup I had the first night but the Maryland Style Crab Cake was only on there one night. I really enjoyed the selections each night. Probably the best entrée was the fish n chips the last night but a close second was the Caribbean Jerk Port Chop the first night. For dessert, I loved the key lime pie and the Apple Blossom A la mode.
The one night I did not go to the dining room, I went to Windjammer for dinner. Each night they have a theme and that night it was Chinese so lots of great options like fried rice, dumplings and even a Ramen noodle bar. But if that was not your thing, they did have a carving station and other great options.
Another popular option for a meal or even just a snack was the Promenade Cafe located on deck 5 forward. Here I was able to get pizza, small sandwiches, desserts including slices of cake, cookies and fruit. There was also water, lemonade and coffee to drink. A little tip, if you are like me and like to have water at night in the cabin, go to the café and fill up a cup for free. Again, the coffee was not great. I am still deciding whether or not the pizza is better than Carnival, I will let you know after my cruise on Mardi Gras in March. The cookies were my favorite through.
Mariner does offer several other options for lunch and dinner for an additional cost. If you like Italian, there is Jamie's Italian and for a steakhouse you have Chops Grill. These restaurants are a set price per person and include an appetizer, an entre and dessert Although I did not try either one this cruise, I have had the opportunity to eat at Jamie's Italian on a tour of Harmony of the Seas and it was phenomenal.
For a more casual atmosphere, the sports bar on board, Playmakers does offer a menu of items from wings to burgers at a la carte pricing. But from what I could tell, it was pretty reasonable. Located on Deck 12 is Johnny Rockets, a 50s diner theme offering a full menu of hamburgers, salads and more. Here you also pay a set price, $9.95 and get a full meal and they are open for breakfast and dinner.
Outside of the Windjammer is the Ice Cream machine which is manned so they will get the ice cream for you. This was not a change, if I remember right, they did this prior to the pandemic. I only wish it was open later but it was so good.
Room service is available on Mariner 24 hours a day but for the most part, there is a cost. You can order a continental breakfast with your door hanger menu with no charge but there are items for breakfast you will pay a $7.95 fee for each delivery. The rest of the day, there is a $7.95 fee per order whether it be lunch, dinner or snack. The menu can be found in the stateroom or on the app.
Overall I was very happy with the food and the options available on Mariner of the Seas. Highlights for me would have to be the variety in the dining room offering the staples each night and then a new selection and the options of desserts in Café Promenade.
In my next blog, I discuss the activities and entertainment on board including the bars. Also, be sure to check out my Mariner of the Seas page under Cruises, here you find facts about the ship as well as pictures and copies of the Cruise Compass Daily Planner.
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I have a passion for travel and believe travel is about experiences. Experiences create memories and are the stories we tell to friends and family - even with a little fudging on the facts.