Mikaela J

A Family Weekend on Royal Caribbean’s Mariner of the Seas

Over the holidays, we were fortunate enough to book an amazing long weekend on Royal Caribbean’s Mariner of the Seas. We are so lucky that we live in Orlando and Port Canaveral is just a short drive away. We left the day after Thanksgiving and spent the next 4 days soaking up the sun and sipping cocktails by the water. As the Spring Break and summer seasons approach, I thought it would be a perfect time to share our experience on the ship and whether or not we will cruise with Royal Caribbean again.

The Mariner of the Seas is a Voyager-class ship and was recently renovated in 2018. We had heard amazing things about the renovation and thought it would be a perfect way to get away for a bit during the craziness of the holiday season. The kids were so excited to spend some time splashing in the pool, eating all the ice cream and building sandcastles.

When we first arrived, I was completely blown away by how easy it was to check-in and get on the ship. Embarkation was a breeze and everyone was so nice and friendly during the check-in process. Parking was also really easy and my husband was even able to drop us off by the door while he went to park. I would say that from the time of arrival to actually stepping foot on the ship was about 20 minutes. Also, for anyone curious, at the time of our sailing, we paid $17/day for parking.

Immediately after getting on the ship, we made our way to the pool deck. Peter and I ordered a cocktail and all four of us enjoyed a hotdog for lunch and spent time together enjoying the empty hot tub before other guests started to arrive. I definitely recommend checking in as early as possible so that you can enjoy as much time on the ship that first day. Also, most people head straight to the buffet to eat when they get on the ship. Unless you have reservations to make, I would say to skip that and start enjoying yourself! Once more guests started to fill the pool area, we took that opportunity to explore the ship. My kids LOVE a kids club and would spend every minute there if given the chance. The kids club on the Mariner is great because it’s separated by age groups and has many activities and books for kids to play with while they are there. They spent hours there each day and always wanted to go back. There definitely aren’t as many organized activities as there were on our Disney Cruise, but my kids didn’t seem to mind.

One of the greatest things about The Mariner of the Seas is all of the children’s activities they have on board. My kiddos were a little too young for most of them, so definitely check out height and weight requirements online before you book. There are so many different options that will keep kids busy all day! Some of our favorites were the climbing gym, the hammocks, the putt-putt course, the pools and the arcade. They also had awesome waterslides, a sky-pad trampoline, a flow rider, a sports court, laser tag, an escape room, an ice skating rink, a rock-climbing wall and more!

After we spent some time exploring the ship, we decided to make some reservations at the specialty restaurants. We had heard mixed reviews about the Main Dining Room on the Mariner so we knew we wanted to purchase the Unlimited Dining Plan on our trip. We do not regret that one bit and truly believe that the meals we had on the ship were all so great. We loved all of the specialty restaurants and the kids were even able to join us. We often ordered the kid’s food right when we sat down and enjoyed our first and second course while they ate. Then, my hubby would take them to the kid’s club and he and I would enjoy the rest of the dinner by ourselves. Or kid’s favorite dinner was the hibachi at Izumi.  It was so fun and the chefs were so great with the kids! If you are interested in the Unlimited Dining Plan, make sure to check back on the website often. They often run specials and you can get the package at a discount.

Our first day was filled with a lot of pool time, family time and food. The rest of the trip was equally enjoyable. We had a blast every day and there was still so much more we could have done. Our itinerary included a stop in Nassau and a stop at Perfect Day at CocoCay. We decided to stay on the ship in Nassau and enjoy everything the ship had to offer. We had lunch at Johnny Rockets, spent a lot of time in the hot tub and ate our weight in ice cream. The kids also spent a lot of time in the kid’s club and Peter and I enjoyed some quiet time at the adult pool.

Our favorite part of the whole trip was our stop at Royal Caribbean’s private island, Perfect Day at CocoCay. The island was gorgeous and there were so many fun things to see and do. There were many free options on the island, but for a fee, they also had an amazing water park and water activities. We enjoyed the zero-entry pool and in-pool bar, the gorgeous beach and the awesome splash pad (so fun for the kids!). We also loved the food on the island. They had a ton of fresh fruit, a build-your-own taco bar and a lot of other options. We were one of two ships docked for the day at CocoCay and we didn’t have any issues finding chairs by the pool or by the beach. Pro Tip: Carry some beach chairs down to the shore and watch your kids play just a couple of feet away!

When we weren’t on CocoCay or hanging out with the kids, Peter and I loved exploring the different bars on board. We watched the Packer’s game at Playmaker’s Bar, we listened to the piano in Schooner Bar and we grabbed a drink and played a game of Bingo in the Star Lounge. We also strolled through the Casino and enjoyed some of the nightly entertainment in the Royal Theater. We were to bed pretty early each night but there were SO many more exciting things to do on-board. They had nightly activities like a silent disco and everyone’s favorite, The Quest game.

All in all, we had such a fantastic time on the Mariner and although we aren’t booked for anything now, we are definitely up for booking Royal Caribbean again! Royal Caribbean often runs great specials, so if you are looking to book a trip, definitely keep on eye on their website to get a great deal or check out Expedia for added on-board credits and deals. Stay tuned for my comparison between our cruise with Disney Cruise Line and our cruise with Royal Caribbean. You might be surprised by my thoughts! Also, make sure to check out my must-have items for cruising with a family!