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Darren LeCraw

Age: 31

Occupation:IT Worker

Number of Cruises: 2

Cruise Line: Royal Caribbean

Ship: Mariner of the Seas

Sailing Date: December 11th, 2005

Itinerary: Eastern Caribbean

This was my second time on a cruise and my wife's 4th cruise.

The Ship
4 stars out of 5

Dining Room - this three story beauty is certainly one of the highlights on the boat. You can't help but feel like you are experiencing first class dining while here.

The Promonade - Another sight to behold on this ship. It's hard to remember you are at sea when you walk down this strip of shopping, bars, and cafes. Although it was a little crowded especially with the giant Christmas tree.

The bars - too many in my opinion and many of them were poorly laid out and therefore made activites held in them not as manageable. The art auction wasn't even worth attending because there was only enough room to seat maybe 30 people.

The pools - were very small. This was one of my biggest shocks considering the grandeur of everything else onboard. There wasn't enough room to actually swim around them at all. Let alone hold any events, like a volleyball tourney.

Other stuff - the rockwall, the mini-golf, and basketball court were all excellent. But the golf simulator was so small that you could only have 2 people inside at once while the rest had to wait their turn outside.

The Food
2 stars out of 5

I wouldn't even call what they served at the Windjammer and Jade food. We witnessed a pancake being snapped in two like a shattered CD. Once it was clear that their menu was not going to change we stopped eating there entirely.

The dining room was much better but still not great. The entrees were fairly solid but the desserts were poor. Many times you took one bite and then pushed the rest away.

The dancing waiters parade got very old the third time around as well. And not once did you ever get the impression that were putting much effort into it.

The Stateroom
5 stars out of 5

We had a interior stateroom and it was as good as you could reasonably expect from one, which is why it gets 5 stars. There was quite a bit of room to move around (although if the glass coffee table was removed it would have been better). The closet space and size of the bathroom were good as well.

The Entertainment
2 stars out of 5

The comedian on the first two nights was horrible. Every joke was just a remix of stuff we see in our email inbox every day. Part of his routine included a confession that he was 60K in debt....I wasn't the least bit surpised.

The stage show Front Row was quite fun. The singers and dancers were fairly high quality and the complex set changes were impressive. Their second show called Pure Energy was not as good. The songs chosen were not always what you would think of as 80's hits. And the costumes were just horrible stereotypes. At one point they made a big display of lowering a purple Prince jacket from above only to have the singer turn around and begin a George Michaels song.

We never got to see the Ice Show as the tickets that went best with our dinner time went quickly.

The game shows were fun. I participated in the scavenger hunt show called The Quest. Strutting around in a bra while the song "It's Raining Men" was played might have been the highlight of the cruise. Luckily no pictures were taken!

The Service
3 stars out of 5

Our head waiter was quite charming if maybe a little too formal. Our assistant waiter probably won't be offered another contract by RC. He was virtually silent the entire cruise, clumsy, and made mistakes on our wine orders numerous times. Combined the two of them never seemed to make an effort to remember our preferences. I was asked every night if I wanted coffee even after making it known on day 1 that I never drank it. Our stateroom attendant was nice and the towel animals were cute but she didn't seem to understand that if we happened to return to our room while she was in the middle of cleaning that perhaps she should comeback later. She actually was chatting to a friend on a cell phone while cleaning the bathroom, while my wife and I waited patiently so we could change to go swimming.

Misc. thoughts
The "Cruise Compass" that everyone used to plan their day seemed more focused on advertising events that included an extra charge than the free activities. An example would be the air-brushed tattoo's which were listed no less than 3 times each and every day but never was there listed the mini-golf tourney (only 6 people showed up), the long drive and closest to the pin contests, etc.

Also the staff assigned to handle some of the events didn't put any effort into them. For the mini-golf tourney the girl explained that we would be playing all 9 holes, and each had a unique style of play and then just handed us a scorecard and told us to report back to her when we were done. I still don't understand why she didn't follow us around "announcing" each hole and trying to create a feeling of excitement like a tournament is supposed to have. For the belly flop contest, James the cruise director did a marvelous job and he had everyone who walked within earshot stopping to watch.

We did not buy any of the shore excursions and so I have not included a review of the islands since nothing we did on them was in anyway related to the cruise. We simply made our own fun and all three stops (St. Maarten, St. Thomas, and Cococay) were simply gorgeous and lots of fun.

The cruise was a disappointment in comparison to my first cruise on Princess. The food was substandard, the service had some serious flaws, and constant push to buy more, more, more was so overwhelming that it was hard to not be cynical of the whole ordeal. Royal Caribbean is the Walmart of cruises. Pick a different cruise line if you truly want to enjoy a fabulous cruise.

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