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Cheryl Scremin

Age: 47

Occupation:Travel Agent

Number of Cruises: 15

Cruise Line: Royal Caribbean

Ship: Mariner of the Seas

Sailing Date: 03-15-2009

Itinerary: Mexico

We were on this cruise with two 13 year-old boys. Our tablemates also had a boy the same age and a 10 year-old girl. All of us thoroughly enjoyed this cruise and the kids just loved the ship and the kids' programs. Our boys spent the majority of the time in the Teen program and had "the best trip ever."

The food in the dining room was among the very best I've had on a ship. So much so that I bought their cookbook. Our waiters, Volkan and Carlos were just excellent and the kids had a great time with them. Volkan was particularly upset the 2 nights the boys decided to go to the buffet for dinner with their new friends. The head waiter stopped by each night to ask us about our day and show the kids some magic tricks.
The bufffet food was standard for a ship with a good variety. The one negative is that there does not seem to be sufficient seating in the buffet at busy times like embarkation day and port mornings. A few times we had to watch for people finishing their breakfast and wait nearby to nab a table.

Our balcony stateroom was a good size and the layout allowed for lots of storage space, The boys had an inside across the hall. The insides have more space when the beds are apart. The boys loved our cabin steward, M, who entertained them with towel animals each night and was super friendly.

The ship's facilities are fantastic! The rock-climbing wall, mini-golf, skating rink, sports court etc. were very well-used.
The teen program co-ordinators kept the boys entertained so well that we had to force them to meet us for dinner each night. On the second formal night they even had a teen Prom.
The Cruise Director, Abe, was one of the best I've seen; right up there with John Heald. He was so funny. The Love and Marriage and the not-to-be-missed Quest Game Shows were particularly hilarious. I've seen the Quest show 4 times now and this was by far the funniest. The things people will do for a keychain!
The shows were not quite as good as others I've seen on Royal Caribbean. Possibly they are new shows to go along with the new itinerary and just haven't gotten into a groove yet. The last 2 nights were better than the 1st. The magician/illusionist was pretty average, his show was all the old standby's.
Captain Johnny was an absolute hoot. I've never been on a ship with a more lively and engaging Captain. He was often seen around the Promenade, chatting with anyone who stopped him and even signing copies of his book one night.
We enjoyed the piano bar many nights, but the disco was surprisingly quiet.

We did not do any excursions with the ship.
In Cabo we took a bus/taxi to Playa Santa Maria. It was a nice beach but we were unaware it had no facilities whatsoever. We would have brought water and snacks if we'd known. The sand is more like small pebbles which made it difficult to walk on.
In Mazatlan, we took a ferry/tour to Stone Island. We negotiated a price of $25 per person which was $10 less than the other passengers paid. This included the ferry with a detour to an island to view sea lions, lunch on the beach, unlimited drinks, and the choice of 3 activities. We chose horseback riding, kayaking and the Banana Boat. The food was just OK but the kids had a good time.
In Puerta Vallarta we hired a taxi for $80 for 4 hours. He gave us a bit of a tour and took us to El Eden Falls. This was a lovely place however the restaurant is very expensive. It seems like you only have 5 menu choices (a variety of large seafood/steak plates at $28 each). This was too much food for lunch, and for the kids, so we elected to have nachos and quesadillas, but these other choices were not immediately offered.

All in all this was a fantastic cruise. We sailed over spring break so the ship was completely sold out. I can't believe there were over 3600 passengers. Embarkation took all of 15 minutes. Disembarkation was completed ahead of schedule! The only time we waited was for the tenders in Cabo (which is standard) and as mentioned, for a table in the buffet a few times. RCCL really seems to know how to manage the passengers on large ships better than the other lines I've cruised with. Each and every time we passed a member of the staff, we were greated warmly. Royal Caribbean Voyager class ships and newer are my 1st choice for families. Although you pay a bit more than other lines, the ships' staff and facilities are more than worth the extra money. When I've cruised Princess large ships I was frustrated at all the waiting around and the lack of sufficient seating in the theatre etc.

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