We first sailed on Mariner of the Seas in 2018. At that time, the cruise ship had just returned from a major update. As part of that Royal Amplification, Mariner of the Seas received a number of new venues and amenities.
Flash forward 4 years later, the ship looks and feels the same. Even if many of the “new” features are more commonplace across the Royal Caribbean fleet now.
One venue that is a rather hidden gem in the Royal Caribbean fleet is the Bamboo Room. This tiki lounge might just be my favorite Royal Caribbean bar. With great theming and plenty of signature Polynesian drinks, a visit to the Bamboo Room is a must when cruising on Mariner of the Seas.
On the Deck 13 sports deck, there are familiar attractions like the sports court, rock climbing wall, and Mariner Dunes mini-golf. There is also the Perfect Storm duo of waterslides and the Flowrider surf simulator, along with the Sky Pad trampoline experience.
However, you will not find the updated Caribbean pool deck or Lime and Coconut bars found on other amplified ships. Still, the pool deck and sun deck above provide plenty of space for sea day fun and sun.
When it comes to dining, Mariner of the Seas features many staple Royal Caribbean restaurants. There are casual spots like the Windjammer buffet and Café Promenade (which also doubles as the pizza stop on this ship). There is also a complimentary Dog House located on the pool deck.
During its amplification, the ship received a Playmakers Sports Bar and Arcade as well. With a selection of drinks and a la carte pub fare, it is the ideal place to watch your favorite team.
Like most cruise ships, the Main Dining room was open each evening. There was both My Time Dining, as well as set dining times. The 5-day menu offered standard Royal meals. Among the standouts were the prime rib, the lamb shank, and the turkey dinner. There are also 3 specialty restaurants including Izumi, Chops Grille, and Jamie’s Italian.
Additionally, Mariner of the Seas has a wide variety of nightlife and entertainment. There is an ice show in Studio B, and the Royal Theater was home to two production shows and two headliner acts during our trip.
For us, the real standout was the live music at the bars and lounges throughout the ship. Darla Fox, the pub guitarist, and Natan Franco, the Schooner bar pianist, were very talented performers. We found ourselves bouncing back and forth between these two venues each evening.
Our 5-day Mariner of the Seas cruise review included two sea days and two private island stops at Labadee and Perfect Day at CocoCay.
This short trip was the ideal escape for a relaxing and sun-filled cruise vacation with family.
EXCLUSIVE SAVINGS: Get Deals on Mariner of the Seas Cruises!
Mariner of the Seas Cruise Review – Day 1
A Milestone Cruise
This Mariner of the Seas cruise was planned as a family trip with my brother and his wife to celebrate their recent marriage. As luck would have it, this sailing also fell on the same weekend as our first cruise back since the pause. It was on June 12, 2021 that we boarded Royal Caribbean’s Adventure of the Seas in Nassau, Bahamas.
Now that cruising is back, this Mariner of the Seas cruise review marks the 19th time that we have boarded a cruise ship in the 12-month span.
So, there was a lot to celebrate!
Extending the Vacation in Port Canaveral
Given the ship was setting sail on a Monday, we decided to fly into the area a few days early. Thus, we spent time checking out some of the top activities near the Port Canaveral cruise port.
It was a busy weekend filled with an airboat ride, bioluminescent rafting, and plenty of space history.
Our hotel, the Hampton Inn and Suites, was conveniently located minutes away from where Mariner of the Seas was docked at Terminal 5.
Of course, we did our online cruise check-in as soon as possible, securing a 10:30 am arrival time.
The health screening, security, and check-in process were simple. It was busy, but the shoreside staff processed the cruisers quickly, taking us only 20 minutes.
After only a short wait in the cruise terminal, Diamond cruisers were called to board the ship around 11:10 am. Grabbing our carry-ons, it was time to return to Mariner of the Seas after 4 long years.
The Usual Embarkation Routine
Even though this was our second time on Mariner of the Seas, it didn’t mean that we deviated from our normal embarkation day routine. So, we headed up to the outdoor decks to explore and give our family a quick tour of the vessel.
Being among some of the first cruisers onboard, we were able to get photos and videos of the sports deck, main pool area, fitness center, spa, and more sans people.
Although, it did feel like the crowds accumulated quicker than usual.
About 90 minutes into our ship tour, we headed down to the already packed Royal Promenade. While a bit early, our family convinced us to grab our first drink of the cruise at one of my favorite bars in the fleet, the Bamboo Room.
So, it seemed like the perfect place to take a break and get our vacation officially started.
Some Cruise Firsts on Day 1
By now, it was around 1 PM when the announcement was made that the staterooms were ready.
Finishing up our drinks, we completed our muster drill. Like the rest of the Royal Caribbean fleet, Mariner of the Seas now has a digital safety drill. So, we watched the required video in our phone and checked in at our assembly station, which was outdoors on deck 4.
Next on the agenda was lunch. Given the traditional dining times were 5:30 PM and 8:00 PM, we opted for My Time Dining this trip. Pre-cruise, we booked reservations for 7 PM each night.
Thus, with dinner still several hours away, we decided to get some snacks at Playmakers Sports Bar and Arcade. While the service was a tad slow, the food was well worth the modest up-charge. My buffalo wings were hot and crispy, with just the right amount of zing. The onion ring tower never fails to disappoint either.
It’s Already Sail Away
Before heading to our cabin, we grabbed our coffee cards at the Café Promenade, along with espresso-based beverages.
Scanning into our stateroom for the first time, cabin 8666, it was evident that there had been no recent updates. With the older green and gold color palette, the room did feel dated but more spacious than some of our other recent balcony cruise ship cabins.
I managed to grab our suitcases from the hallway. Although, we didn’t have time to unpack, as sail away was quickly approaching.
After quickly conversing with our stateroom attendant, Junior, we were back up to deck 13 aft to watch Mariner of the Seas make her slow and steady departure from Port Canaveral.
Once the ship was officially out of the port, it was time for some sail away drinks at the Sky Lounge on deck 12 overlooking the pool deck fun.
Around 5:45 PM, we decided to head inside to unpack and get ready for dinner. We had just enough time to get everything neatly stored away and changed up in time for 7 PM.
The Main Dining Room on Night 1
The four of us arrived to the deck 3 main dining room to find a small line. Normally, there are two queues for My Time Dining- one for those with reservations and one for those without. For whatever reason, there was no distinction on this cruise.
Still, check-in took only a few minutes, and we were escorted to a table for 4 on the portside of the dining room. Here, we met our waitstaff of Geronimo and Cyrone. We dined at the restaurant four nights, and they ended up being our team for all occasions.
Like always, the main dining room was a bit chaotic on night 1. Still, this team got our three courses delivered with precision in less than 90 minutes.
Honestly, the only issue we had all cruise in the main dining room was the slow bar service. It is evident that Royal Caribbean has cut back the bar service team in the MDR.
For dinner, I did my usual selections- the crab cake and prime rib. The crab cake was moist and had a good amount of crab meat and seasoning. The prime rib was equally impressive. It was medium rare as requested and tender.
I finished off this meal with the key lime pie. This third course was tart, with a just a tad of sweetness.
The wife opted for the cheese plate, Classics chicken dish, and the crème brulee which all met her approval as well.
An Atypical Entertainment Line Up
Surprisingly, there was no Welcome Aboard show tonight. Instead, there were two showings of the ice show, Ice Under the Big Top. Thankfully, our waiters had us out of the dining room right in time to head over to Studio B for this performance.
With only 15 minutes until show time, prime seats were hard to come by in the ice rink. Yet, we were able to get decent corner seats in a section reserved for Diamond and above Crown and Anchor Society members.
For me, this 40-minute production show ranked on the bottom of the list of Royal ice shows in terms of story line. Still, the skaters were talented and showcased many impressive feats.
We were out of Studio B before 9:30 PM. While neither of us are big basketball fans, my brother wanted to watch the Celtics championship game.
Playmakers Sports Bar and Arcade was packed with other cruisers also intent on catching the series. Somehow though, we did find seats at the Barnacle and Barrel pub with a view of the bar television.
While Heidi and I didn’t really care to watch the game, the pub performer, Darla Fox, was amazing. She did tend to favor female musicians during the several sets we watched over the five days. Although, she did play “Sweet Caroline” when she heard we were from Boston.
At the game’s half-time, we headed up to the silent disco in Ellington’s on deck 14. By the time we arrived, there was a line 8 or so people deep waiting for headphones. Even without headphones, this is always a fun event. So, we stayed for about 30 minutes and grabbed a round of cocktails in the meantime.
With no headphones materializing, we returned to the Promenade instead. This time, we squeezed into Playmakers to watch the final few minutes of the game. As you all know by now, the series did not end well for our hometown team.
After a long embarkation day, we were ready for bed. We had four more long nights ahead of us!
Mariner of the Seas Cruise Review – Day 2
A Sunny Morning at Sea
The first full day of this Mariner of the Seas cruise review was a sea day. One reason we decided to book this 5-day trip was the itinerary. With two sea days, and stops at each of the cruise line’s private islands, it was the ideal getaway for the four of us.
Even though we had sailed on the ship in the past, we wanted to get all new video and photos. Thus, I was up early most mornings getting footage. Following our normal morning routine, we met the fam at the Windjammer for breakfast around 9:30 am.
Given the time, it was quite busy and took some work to find seats. The food quality was typical, except they did not have a custom omelet station, only pre-made selections.
Since it was a gorgeous sunny day, the deck 11 pool area was crowded by the time we made our way outside. Although, deck 12 still had plenty of prime seats available. Yes, it was a tad windy on this open deck, but we managed.
Actually, with the breeze, the Caribbean sun was very tolerable. Somehow, Heidi lasted over 3 hours in the sun. Of course, we had to get a customary poolside beverage during this time. A pina colada for me, and a watermelon margarita for the wife.
A Respite from the Heat
After a few hours of sun, we decided to take a break and grab some lunch before the Belly Flop Contest.
With limited options, it was back to the Windjammer. Interestingly, one of the buffet stations was reminiscent of the selections found at El Loco Fresh. For those not familiar with Royal Caribbean, El Loco Fresh is a casual, Tex-Mex venue found on several ships in the fleet.
As one of our go-to spots, we both opted for a Mexican-inspired midday snack.
Following lunch, we squeezed into the crowd to watch the Belly Flop contest. This sea day classic is always a good time.
The large crowd gathered on decks 11 and 12 were there for one thing. To see (and hear) some stomach-first pool plunges. Though, it did feel like the activities manager rushed through the competition.
Once the competition was over, we found some seats in the shade on deck 11 before heading back to the cabin to get a little work done.
Tonight was formal night. Thankfully, there was only one formal night on this 5-day cruise.
Time to Smile
The four of us were ready by 5:15 pm to get some photos before dinner. Surprisingly, the portrait studios did not have long lines. So, we were able to hit three stations and still have time for a pre-dinner drink at the Schooner Bar.
Our dinner reservation at Chops Grille was at 6:45 PM tonight. However, we bumped into a friend (and frequent cruiser) at the Schooner Bar, so we arrived closer to 7 PM.
Chops Grille was not very busy. Still, dinner took about 3 hours. The food was excellent, and our server was friendly, but the venue felt understaffed.
Tonight for dinner, I started with the shrimp cocktail and black pepper bacon, and Heidi opted for the wedge salad as her appetizer.
My filet was cooked to an ideal medium rare temperature, and the sides were the perfect accompaniments. As you might suspect, the wife ordered the only chicken dish on the menu for her entrée.
Both our desserts, the cheesecake and red velvet cake, were the ideal endings to our specialty dinner at Chops Grille.
Given our prolonged dining time, we headed straight to the Royal Theater for the evening’s main theater show. Center Stage ended up being more similar to a typical Welcome Aboard show. It included a few numbers from the ship’s singers and dancers, as well as a comedian juggler.
The show was a bit of a hodge-podge, and the singers were average at best. The juggler was the highlight of this performance.
With the show wrapping up around 11 PM, we decided to call it a night. Tomorrow was our first port of call on this Mariner of the Seas cruise review.
Mariner of the Seas Cruise Review – Day 3
Another Sunny Morning
Today was our first port of call in Labadee, Haiti. This was the second time in just a few months that we visited this private resort.
During our last stop, we did the Dragon’s Tail Coaster and the superman style Dragon’s Fire zip line. So, to make it a complete trifecta, we booked the Dragon’s Breath Flight Line for this stop. We were even able to convince my brother to try this half-mile long thrill ride.
Pre-cruise, we booked a 10:30 am time slot. However, it was pushed back to 11:30 am. While not ideal, this meant we could sleep in a bit this morning.
The alarm went off around 7 AM right as Mariner of the Seas was pulling into the pier. I did my morning video and photo routine and grabbed us some coffee and breakfast pastries from Café Promenade along the way.
With the extra time this morning time, we caught up on a few work items before heading ashore with our fam around 9:30 am.
Zooming Around Labadee
By now, the initial rush of cruisers were off the ship. So, we were able to grab some of the requisite ship selfies near the pier. We then spent the next 75 minutes or so walking around the island.
Starting near Columbus Cove, we made our way to the Artisan’s Market and eventually towards Adrenaline Beach. We staked claim next to the Bar and Café Labadee. This was the ideal location for later in the day.
Leaving his wife to have her “me day”, my brother, Heidi, and I ventured back towards the Arrival’s Plaza for our zip line tour.
The entire experience took about 75 minutes. This included a safety briefing, a practice zip line, and a drive up the mountainside to the main attraction.
At 500 feet above sea level and a half-mile long, the Dragon’s Breath zip line can reach speeds up to 45 MPH. Given that Heidi and I are both thrill-seekers, we love this zip line. Even my brother, who did have some butterflies in his stomach at the beginning of the tour, ended up enjoying the flight.
Labadoozies Are Back on the Menu
Back to solid ground a little after 1 PM, we headed over to grab some lunch. When compared to the food on Perfect Day at Coco Cay, the BBQ lunch on Labadee is lackluster. A few grilled items and some fresh fruit was just enough to hold us over until dinner later in the day.
On our way back to the beach, we attempted to order some Labadoozies. Only problem, the bartender said they were out of the mix! So, we opted for other frozen cocktails instead.
Enjoying the sun and beach for a while, I noticed a delivery cart dropping off supplies. Inquiring at the bar, the staff happily reported that they had Labadoozies once again!
Now, with a successful day of ziplining and labadoozies, we were ready to head back to the ship around 3 PM. We said good bye to the family and headed back to the ship for some much needed coffee.
This evening, we had My Time Dining at 7 PM again.
Back on Track
Showered up and ready for dinner early, we headed to the photo gallery to check out our formal night photos. With the wife’s selections favorited, we then made our way to the Schooner Bar for our usual drinks before dinner.
Meeting our family at the MDR right at 7 PM, we were able to get the same table and waitstaff as Night 1. Again, Geronimo and Cyrone did not disappoint They were a great team and kept our dinner well-paced.
While my shrimp ceviche appetizer was not great, the short rib entrée was phenomenal. The short rib was tender and juicy. The mudpie dessert was a light and sweet treat that paired well with the heavier main course. The Princess also enjoyed her chicken parm entrée this evening.
The waitstaff had us out of dinner in just under 90 minutes again tonight.
In the Promenade, there was the 80’s DJ hour. We mistakenly thought this was the 80’s party, but that event was not until the end of the week. Thus, after a few songs, we made our way towards the Royal Theater for this evening’s show.
A Late Night on Mariner of the Seas
Oddly, tonight’s performance was called a Variety Show that felt very thrown together. It consisted of a few musical numbers from the orchestra. Then, each singer had a featured performance. Finally, it ended with a 20-minute set by a rather not funny comedian.
As far as Royal Caribbean shows go, this one was not up to the brand’s usual high standards. That seemed to be the trend all week. While we are usually big fans of Royal Caribbean entertainment, the shows on Mariner of the Seas were subpar at best.
With the show over by 10 PM, we headed back up to Ellington’s for a second shot at the Silent Party. Arriving early, the event was already in motion. Apparently, we were not the only ones that felt left out from the first night’s session.
The Silent Disco wrapped up around 11 PM. Somehow, our family convinced us to grab more drinks and seats at the Schooner Bar. It didn’t hurt that the piano player, Natan Franco, was excellent. Like the pub guitarist, Natan was one of the better musical acts that we have heard on a ship in a while. So, one drink turned into closing out the bar around 12:30 AM.
Tomorrow was a sea day. So, at least that meant we could sleep in a bit.
Mariner of the Seas Cruise Review – Day 4
Avoiding the Sun on a Sea Day
This morning, we didn’t get out of bed until close to 8 am. While the family hit the gym, we got ready and did some work before meeting them for breakfast around 9:45 AM. Breakfast at the Windjammer was busy, but not as crazy as the previous sea day.
Following breakfast, the family grabbed some loungers, while Heidi and I headed forward for a round of mini golf. We were not alone. This family-friendly activity was quite busy. In fact, we had to wait for both clubs and golf balls.
Unfortunately, the wife came out victoriously this round. While we normally play a best of 3 series, we never got back up to the Mariner Dunes this trip.
Wanting to avoid the sun after getting a bit burned the previous sea day, we spent the rest of the day inside roaming the cruise ship.
An Entertaining Afternoon
Given the odd itinerary, the popular Love and Marriage game show was occurring at 2 PM in the Royal Theater today. We met up with the family to grab a quick bite before the show. I went with something from the Dog House, and Heidi grabbed a few slices of pizza.
With our snack complete, we made it to the theater a few minutes before showtime. Even though it was the middle of the day, there was a good-sized crowd. Like always, the show did not disappoint. The cruise director Marc did a great job hosting the game show. It didn’t hurt that the senior couple was quite hilarious.
Following this hour plus show, we grabbed some midday caffeine and headed back to our cabin for a bit. Changing up and ready for dinner early, we decided to return to the Bamboo Room for some pre-dinner drinks. I’m not sure why this bar isn’t busier, but I won’t complain about having the venue mostly to ourselves.
Finishing up our tiki drinks, we were down to the deck 3 main dining room right on time. While we were tempted to just walk to our usual table, we decided to wait in the line just in case. Thankfully, the host eventually waved us over to “our table”, table 303.
The service was great as usual and even speedier than the other times.
Tonight, I did an Italian combo with a Caesar salad and the lasagna. The main course was just okay. It was hot with plenty of meat sauce, but it did not have much cheese. The wife particularly enjoyed her potato soup appetizer this evening.
Bar Hopping on Mariner of the Seas
Atypical for us, this evening did not include a main theater show. Tonight’s entertainer was a headliner that we just saw on our Discovery Princess cruise. Plus, we all decided that we had enough Elton John music for the cruise.
First on the list of bars for tonight was Boleros. This was one bar that we had not visited yet on this cruise, and a rock band was playing here this evening. Perfect! While the drinks at Boleros were solid, the band left something to be desired. Especially when compared to the bands that performed in the Rolling Stone Rock Room on Holland America’s Rotterdam. Thus, we did not last long here.
Instead, we moved on to the Pub. There was better entertainment and a television to watch the basketball championship game.
When the Celtics season ended around 11:30 PM, we marched down to the Schooner Bar. For the second night in a row, we closed down the bar around 12:30 AM.
Tomorrow was our final port of call in Perfect Day at CocoCay.
Mariner of the Seas Cruise Review – Day 5
On to the Oasis Lagoon
On our final day of this Mariner of the Seas cruise review, we were heading back to our favorite private island.
Mariner of the Seas was one of two ships scheduled to dock at Perfect Day at CocoCay today. Luckily, our ship was scheduled to arrive 3 hours before Symphony of the Seas.
The plan today was simple. Grab prime seats at the Oasis Lagoon pool, as this is our favorite spot on the private island.
With the early call into port, we were up around 6:30 am. With our usual coffees and a few quick bites to eat, we were off the ship within a half hour after it was cleared. This was just enough time for us to get four loungers and an umbrella near the swim-up bar. We were even able to secure a few in-water chairs.
It wasn’t until around 10:30 am or so that the area really began to get busy. Yet, the pool did not seem as crowded as our last visit to the island on Wonder of the Seas in March. In fact, we were even able to get seats at the swim-up bar around noon time.
All Good Things Must Come to an End
Heidi and I had been on the island over 4.5 hours when we decided it was closing in on the end of our perfect day. Before heading back to the ship, we couldn’t miss the opportunity to hit the Snack Shack. Another strategic reason that we like the Oasis Lagoon is the close proximity to either the buffet or the Sports Beach snack area.
With a healthy lunch of fries, mozzarella sticks, and chicken sandwiches, we were refueled for the walk back to the ship.
Back onboard Mariner of the Seas, it was a rather low-key afternoon enjoying the air conditioning. First order of business was to get some afternoon coffees. With our iced lattes in hand, it was back to the room for some work and packing.
Yes, the five relaxing days on Royal Caribbean’s Mariner of the Seas was coming to an end. But, we had another cruise in the very near future.
Meeting up for our final dinner, the same table that we had the three previous visits was taken. Still, the host found us a table with the same waitstaff.
Tonight’s menu featured the typical Night 7 selections. Among our favorite items were the coconut shrimp, lamb shank, and turkey dinner.
Closing Down the Bar
We were out of dinner even earlier than usual. After thanking our waitstaff, we had just enough time to get to the Star Lounge for the game show Majority Rules. As a team we did quite well, but the host played loose and fast with the rules.
The final question consisted of a contest for the best pick-up line. Which basically meant the “majority” answers were tossed out the window. Although, I am still not sure how Natalie Portman won the majority vote for the prettiest woman in the world?
When the game show ended, we headed to the production show, while the rest of the team found their way to the casino. Even though they lost some money, they may have made the better choice!
Tonight’s production was Gallery of Dreams. Again, it felt rather dated. Thankfully, it was over with just enough time for us to get to the 80’s Party on the Royal Promenade.
In between the show and party, we ran upstairs to put out our luggage only to find that our key cards were demagnetized. So, I had to spend the next 20 minutes in line at Guest Services to get replacements. With our bags outside and new key cards in hand, we could enjoy the rest of the night now.
Meeting the fam at the Schooner Bar around 10:45 PM, we sang (and drank) along with the rest of the piano crowd until the bar closed around 12:30 AM. Sadly, Natan did not play any Ed Sheeran for the Princess yet again.
Still, it was a fitting end to relaxing 5-day cruise. While we headed to bed, our family tried to recoup some losses at the nearby casino. Alas, they were not successful!
Mariner of the Seas Cruise Review – Disembarkation
A Late Disembarkation
Our Mariner of the Seas cruise review had come to a close.
Normally, we do self-assist disembarkation. For this cruise though, we opted to use Royal Caribbean’s luggage service as we were in no rush to catch a flight.
Both of our cabins were assigned luggage tag 21. This had a departure time of 8:45 AM. However, all guests did need to vacate the staterooms by 8:15 AM.
The wife set the alarm for 6:45 AM, and we were up and ready with coffees in hand by 7:45 AM. We then met our family at the Windjammer with our remaining bags. Here, we took our time enjoying breakfast essentially until our luggage tag number was called around 8:40 AM.
Down to deck 4, the waiting began. Unfortunately, there was a line snaking halfway around the ship. Disembarkation took about 45 minutes, from elevators to exiting customs.
On to Our Next Cruise
Our family was heading to the airport to fly back north. We were heading to pick up a rental car for the drive to Miami for our next cruise. So, we said goodbye and took our transfer to the car rental location near Port Canaveral.
Again, we were greeted by another long line. Close to an hour later, we had a car!
The estimated 3.5 hour drive took over 4 hours, but finally we arrived at the Intercontinental Miami around 2:30 PM.
Thankfully, our room was ready. In fact, we were upgraded to an ocean view room. From this vantage point, we had a clear view of the Miami cruise terminals.
Here, we spent the rest of the day working and preparing for our next adventure.
Tomorrow, we were boarding Virgin Voyages’ Scarlet Lady for another 5-day cruise. Yes, we know; it is a tough life!
Did you enjoy our Mariner of the Seas Cruise Review? Have you sailed on this amplified cruise ship? Drop us an anchor below to share your Royal Caribbean cruise reviews!
3 comments on Mariner of the Seas Cruise Review
Really enjoyed the review. Being from south of Boston closer to Providence, I think we have much in common. We are diamond plus with Royal. We have Mariner scheduled for next year. Let’s hope the staffs improve. Hey. I live cruising and will take what they have today. Better than quarantine. Thanks a bunch for your superb work!