Mariner of the Seas was one of the first Royal Caribbean ships to get a Royal Amplified update in 2018. The 138K gross ton ship offers a variety of Bahamas and Caribbean cruises sailing from Port Canaveral, FL. We have just returned from a 5-day Bahamas cruise and want to share all the details with you. See how this Royal Caribbean cruise ship compares to its sisters with our exclusive Mariner of the Seas cruise ship scorecard review.
Mariner of the Seas Cruise Ship Scorecard Review
For our cruise, we boarded Royal Caribbean’s Mariner of the Seas at Terminal 5 in Port Canaveral.
Prior to the cruise, we did our check-in on the app and were assigned a boarding time of 10:30 am.
Taking an Uber from our hotel, we arrived at the port right on time. From health screening, to security, and check-in took about 15 minutes. We then waited only an additional 15 minutes or so for Diamond cruisers to be allowed on the ship.
The entire embarkation process was smooth and efficient.
Disembarkation was a bit more time consuming but still efficient.
We did not have to worry about catching a plane after this cruise, so we opted to use Royal Caribbean’s luggage service. We received luggage tag 21, which had an estimated departure time of 8:50 am.
There was a rather large line for disembarkation that weaved in and out of the main dining room. Still, from the elevator to luggage pick-up and border patrol took less than 45 minutes.
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The Pool Deck
Mariner of the Seas does not have the newer Caribbean-inspired pool deck found on other amplified ships in the Royal Caribbean fleet like Oasis of the Seas or Navigator of the Seas. However, there are still two pools and four whirlpools darting the midship pool area on deck 11.
With our cruise sailing at close to full capacity, the prime pool deck lounge chairs were mostly secured by breakfast time. Though, we were able to find loungers on the Deck 12 sundeck with ease on both sea days.
There is also the adults-only solarium on Deck 11 forward. Unlike some other Solariums, this pool area is open to the elements, with some seating off the the sides mostly covered from the deck above. Here too, there are two large whirlpools.
The Solarium Bar, Pool Bar, and Sky Lounge all serve a limited version of the standard drink menu. Again, unlike other updated ships, Mariner of the Seas does not have the popular Lime and Coconut bar serving up the namesake drink. Of course, you can still grab your favorite frozen drinks like a Pina Colada or Miami Vice while soaking up the sun.
For a short getaway, there is ample outdoor space between the pool deck and sun deck for couples and families alike to enjoy some fun in the sun.
The Sports Deck
The main sports deck on Mariner of the Seas is Deck 13 aft. Here, you will find many staple Royal Caribbean activities.
Among the additions to the ship in 2018 was the duo of waterslides known as the Perfect Storm. These twin racer slides are now standard on many Royal Caribbean ships. There is also the more unique offering, the Sky Pad. This bungee trampoline experience is a fun family activity that even incorporates VR elements.
Other sports deck amenities than can be found on Mariner of the Seas include the Rock Climbing wall and the Sports Court which hosts free play and competitions throughout the cruise with various activities like basketball, soccer, and pickleball.
There is also the kid-friendly Sky Climber, a jungle gym of sorts. Conveniently located next door are some swings and hammocks. This area is ideal for relaxation after a sports deck workout or while the little ones play.
All the way aft on Deck 13, you will find the popular Flowrider surf simulator. During our cruise, sessions were divided between boogie boarding and advanced surfing.
Finally, all the way forward on this deck is the 9-hole mini-golf course, the Mariner Dunes. Don’t be surprised if you find a small queue, and lack of adult golf clubs, during a busy sea day.
Our June 2022 sailing on Mariner of the Seas felt like one of the busiest cruises that we have been on since the restart about a year ago. Still, we found the service on the ship timely and friendly. There were ample bar servers roaming the pool deck, as well as staffing the indoor bars. We never waited long for a drink at the popular Schooner Bar or the Barnacle and Barrel pub.
During breakfast and lunch, the Windjammer was packed. Yet, the crew were quick to clean and clear tables even at peak times.
While we did My Time Dining, we ended up with the same waitstaff each night in the main dining room. Both Geronimo and Cyrone were excellent. They kept our dinners well paced, getting us in and out in around 75 to 90 minutes each evening.
However, the bar service was slow in the main dining room. Most nights, we were only able to get one round of drinks, and even that took a while. We miss the days when Royal Caribbean had more dedicated bar servers to support the main dining room staff.
We ate at one specialty restaurant during this cruise, Chops Grille, and the service was very slow. The venue seemed to be understaffed, as our waiter was a one man show. From getting our drinks, to serving food, and clearing plates, he did everything. So, it was certainly not his fault that this dining experience took close to 3 hours.
Finally, our stateroom attendant, Junior, was courteous and made up our room twice a day, complete with some cute towel animals to greet us in the evenings. He met all our requests and made sure to say hi when we saw him in the hallways, even if he was not much of a conversationalist.
Cruising is back!
On Mariner of the Seas, there were many of the typical cruise ship activities that you’d expect to find on a megaship. While some of our previous sailings offered a reduced schedule of events, the cruise director Marc and his team fit in all of the favorites on this 5-day cruise.
There were various sessions of trivia and games shows, like the standing room only Harry Potter trivia session and the popular Love and Marriage game show. Other cruise director activities included dance classes, bingo sessions, and even adult coloring. Somehow, this is now a thing on cruise ships.
On the pool deck, both the sexiest man and belly flop contest occurred. You could also watch a movie on the outdoor decks.
During one sea day, Studio B was open for free skate, and this venue housed the Battle for Planet Z laser tag on the last day of the cruise. Both of these are complimentary activities and are first come, first served.
Even the Observatorium escape room had several sessions throughout the trip. Though, this is an up-charge experience.
So, whether you like to pack your day full of activities or just relax, there were plenty of options to do as much, or as little, as you wanted on Mariner of the Seas.
Main Dining Room
It wouldn’t be a Mariner of the Seas cruise ship scorecard review if we didn’t talk about dining. For this cruise, the Main Dining Room on decks 3, 4, and 5 was open every day for breakfast and dinner. The main dining room was also open for lunch on the two sea days.
Given our schedule, we only dined at the main dining room for dinner.
We had My Time Dining for our party of 4 adults. Pre-cruise, we made reservations for 7 PM for 4 out of the 5 nights. Luckily, we were able to get the same waitstaff each evening.
As mentioned previously, our team of Geronimo and Cyrone were fantastic.
Overall, the food met our expectations for a Royal Caribbean cruise ship. Meals were served at the appropriate temperatures and were well-plated with adequate spacing between courses.
Some of the standouts included the coconut shrimp and crab cake appetizers, as well as the prime rib, lamb shank, and turkey dinner for entrees. We are never huge fans of cruise ship desserts, but I do like the Royal cheesecake.
In addition to all the complimentary dining options included in your Royal Caribbean cruise fare, Mariner of the Seas features several up-charge restaurants as well. For this Mariner of the Seas cruise ship review, we dined at two of them.
During embarkation day, we had lunch at the a la carte pub, Playmakers Sports Bar and Arcade located on the Royal Promenade. We like this concept and the food offerings.
With selections at Playmakers Sports Bar and Arcade starting at just $4, it is reasonably priced. Not to mention, the drinks are included in the Royal Caribbean Deluxe Beverage Package.
On night two, we dined at the cruise line’s signature steak house, Chops Grille. While the meal did take over 2.5 hours, we thought the food was fantastic.
I enjoyed the colossal shrimp cocktail, the filet mignon, and the cheesecake, as well as the gruyere cheese tater tots. At $59 per person, it is a bit pricey though.
Other specialty restaurants on Mariner of the Seas include Jamie’s Italian across from Chops Grille on Deck 11. While this restaurant concept is older, it features several classic Italian dishes. There is also Izumi Hibachi and Sushi on Deck 4. There are not many hibachi tables, and even fewer sushi spots, so if you want to dine here, we suggest pre-booking before the cruise.
Unlike some of the other updated ships, Mariner of the Seas does lack when it comes to casual dining options. The Café Promenade is home to a small selection of items for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. These options normally include small sandwiches, pastries and cookies, and other snacks. As there is no Sorrento’s on the ship, it also serves pizza most of the day.
On the pool deck, there is the Boardwalk Dog House. First introduced on the Oasis Class, this stand serves selections of international sausages and dogs. While I am a fan of these offerings, I know not everyone enjoys a Coney Island classic or bratwurst while lounging poolside.
The other main casual dining option is the Windjammer buffet. Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, this buffet offers a wide selection of items with variable food quality.
We dined at the Windjammer twice for breakfast and twice for lunch. While I am not a big fan of breakfast, the food here was more consistent and predictable. Plus, it is really hard to mess up basics like scrambled eggs, waffles, and breakfast meats.
On the other hand, lunch was often underwhelming. The menu options changed daily, and while we did like some of the Mexican offerings on Day 2, the other options were often not what we consider lunch items.
While we did not dine at the Windjammer for dinner, the venue did offer a different food theme each evening. Some of these themes included American classics, Italian, and Caribbean flavors.
We often rave about the entertainment on Royal Caribbean cruise ships. Sadly, Mariner of the Seas did not live up to the cruise line’s reputation. In fact, the shows on the ship felt dated and uncharacteristically cheesy.
In the main theater, there were four shows. These included “Center Stage” which was a collection of song and dance numbers by the production cast with a twenty minute juggling comedian added for good measure.
On another night, the theater hosted a “Variety” show. This felt thrown together, with each vocal lead singing a solo song, followed by another 20 minute set from a very unfunny comedian.
We skipped the headliner act, an Elton John tribute, as we had recently seen him on another cruise. Lastly, Gallery of Dreams was an original production that mixed musical genres and set pieces for another underwhelming show.
The best performance of the cruise was the Studio B ice show, Ice Under the Big Top. Still, when it comes to Royal Caribbean ice shows, this theme ranks near the bottom of my list. Not to say that the skaters weren’t talented though.
With the typical line up of bars and nighttime activities, there was always something to do each evening. Along with early evening sessions of trivia, there were also several game shows including Battle of the Sexes and Majority Rules.
Many of the bars and lounges also featured live music. Our two favorite hangouts were the Schooner Bar and the Barnacle and Barrel pub.
Natan Franco, the piano player in the Schooner Bar, was energetic and got the crowd engaged. While he did tend to play the same songs, he was a lot of fun. It doesn’t hurt that we love the cocktail menu in the Schooner Bar as well.
Equally impressive was the pub guitarist, Darla Fox. She was not your typical pub performer, but her personality and vocals had us returning several times during the cruise.
The Royal Caribbean parties are back as well. These included both the 70’s disco and the 80’s party in the Promenade. Further, there were two Hush Silent Disco parties and a Caribbean deck party.
Marc and the cruise director staff did a fine job of hosting events and offering enough variety to (mostly) displace the crowds.
Bars and Lounges
Many of the different bars and lounges on Mariner of the Seas have signature cocktail menus. Service at the bars was also timely and personable.
One of our favorite Royal Caribbean bars on any ship is the Schooner Bar, home to two of our favorite martinis, the Lavender Daiquiri and Sidecar.
While there is no entertainment, another one of my favorite bars on Mariner of the Seas is the Bamboo Room. Even though the ship was busy, this venue was never crowded. The tiki drinks, like the Royal Zombie or the On the Run, are fun and equally tasty.
Other venues too have some exclusive libations. These include Latin-inspired rum based cocktails at Boleros, Playmakers Sports Bar and Arcade, and the Barnacle and Barrel pub. The beer list at these two venues are the most extensive on the ship.
Mariner of the Seas does not have a dedicated wine bar, and it no longer has a Champagne Bar like some other Voyager Class ships.
For this cruise, we stayed in a Deck 8 Spacious Ocean View Balcony, cabin 8666. Our portside cabin was considered a category 4B stateroom and was located close to the aft elevators.
According to Royal Caribbean’s website, the stateroom is 203 square feet with a 42 square feet balcony. The room was not updated during the past amplification, so it still had the older green and gold color palette and décor.
Immediately upon entering the room, the bathroom was to the right, and the closet was to the left. The desk and love seat were closer to the entrance, with our bed located next to the balcony.
For a five day cruise, there was more than enough storage in the cabin. In fact, we like the older desk and closet setup better as there is more storage space. The oversized loveseat was a nice feature, but it honestly needed to be replaced.
The balcony offered enough space for two chairs and a small table. This allowed us to enjoy the ocean breeze and watch the sail-in to our ports.
Lastly, the bathroom was a typical cruise ship bathroom. It was small but manageable. It did at least have a cylindrical shower door as opposed to the shower curtains on some other cruise lines.
Recap Mariner of the Seas Cruise Ship Scorecard Review
While Mariner of the Seas might not be one of the newest ships in the Royal Caribbean fleet, it certainly offers plenty of amenities for all age groups to enjoy. With competitive pricing and attractive itineraries, this cruise ship is the perfect option for cruisers looking for a quick getaway.
Likewise, it is a great introductory cruise, as it offers a variety of dining and activities without being overwhelming. The ship’s simple layout makes it easy to navigate, even if you have never been on a cruise ship.
Mariner of the Seas delivered food and service that was on par with other ships in the Royal Caribbean fleet. We actually felt the service was quicker on Mariner of the Seas than some of the larger vessels. The main dining room as well as the up-charge Playmakers and Chops Grille did not disappoint.
While we did miss the Lime and Coconut bar which is now standard on many other ships in the fleet, there are still plenty of bars and lounges with signature cocktails like the Schooner Bar and the Bamboo Room.
Marc Walker and the rest of the cruise director staff were on point and checked all of the Royal Caribbean boxes for activities.
For this Mariner of the Seas cruise ship review, we sailed with some family members. We think they enjoyed the trip just as much as we did, even though this is the smallest ship they have sailed on in recent history.
So, whether you are loyal to Royal or new to cruise, Mariner of the Seas offers a great Caribbean cruise option.
Do you agree with our Mariner of the Seas cruise ship scorecard review? Have you sailed on this Royal Caribbean cruise ship? Drop us an anchor below to share what you love about Mariner of the Seas.