Saturday, 7 February 2015

Mariner of the Seas Review: Day 2

The second day on board Mariner of the Seas is no less exciting than the first. In fact, this day features some on-board activities that are unique to Royal Caribbean - those in the Royal Promenade. Although 6 hours is spent in Penang, that still leaves plenty of time over the rest of the day to explore the largest cruise ship in Asia (as of Jan 2015).

Dont forget to view the first day of the cruise!

Sunrise on Mariner of the Seas, taken from my stateroom balcony

Yoga Lesson, Sports and Fitness Center

Fitness lessons on Mariner of the Seas is really early. The first class starts at 7am but my sister and I could only wake up in time for the 8am Yoga Class. The classes are located at the on-board fitness center on deck 11. On our particular cruise, the morning stretching and fat abs workshops are complimentary while the Yoga and cardio bike sessions are chargeable.

In fact, when we arrived at the venue there were already other participants in deep meditation. Thankfully, the main exercises has yet to begin so we could still join in.

[tip] All cruise ship activities start on time. Do not be late.

Some of these simple looking postures look more intense than you think

The instructor is very calming and his instructions were very clear and simple. The exercise itself is moderately intense though the middle aged lady beside me did struggle a bit. The instructor also walks around to correct the poses individually. It is great that there are only 4 participants so all of us could get really personal attention. The class costs USD12 plus 17% gratuity, or service charge in Singapore language, and I think it is worth it.

With just 4 students, there is plenty of space for everyone and the instructor could provide personalised attention.

After the workout, I am recharged and ready for the day. I did a walk-about in the gym but did just a few simple exercises. The gym onboard Mariner of the Seas is as well equipped as any private in Singapore and for those weight conscious, many of them even have calories burnt counters. I was quite shocked that the largest dumbbell is almost 20kg (I'm used to dumbbells half that weight). The ocean views from the treadmills is great.

This gym is well equipped and has excellent ocean views.

I did not do much exercise since I was all pumped up from the yoga workout.

A WW1 airplane hands from the atrium outside the gym

Breakfast @ Main Dining Room

There are actually 2 main venues available for breakfast (and for all meals, as a matter a fact) on board Mariner of the Seas. Only deck 3 of the main dining hall is open for breakfast and the other alternative is Windjammer Cafe on deck 11. For the first breakfast, we decided to go for the table service main dining room.

[tip] Breakfast at main dining room ends almost an hour before Windjammer, so you need to wake up early to dine here.

Because of limited seating, there is a long queue of about 20 minutes outside. Also, singlets are not allowed. Actually, sandals are officially not allowed as well but the staff did not enforce. One good thing is that the staff actually comes out to advice guests to change while waiting for their turn instead of disappointing them after they queued all the way.

Breakfast consists of starter and main course. This is also the only meal on Mariner of the Seas that provides table service and buffet in a single seating. I really love the smoked salmon here, the taste is so rich and the texture is just right. The breakfast mains are basically a high-class version of Macdonald's Big Breakfast, though I must say the waffles are not crispy enough. Cornflakes, yogurts and fruit juices are available from the buffet counter.

[tip] This is the only meal where you can get apple juice complimentary. On all other meals lemonade is the only complimentary cold drink available.

As a testament to Royal Carribean's food quality, this is probably the first time in my life I finished a half tomato.

The waffles look delicious but should have been made more crispy. Some ice cream on top will also be great :D

Doesn't this look like a spa cuisine dish?

Cornflakes, bread, yogurt, milk and fruit juices are available from the buffet area.

Rock Climbing Wall

As far as I know, Royal Caribbean is one of the first cruise lines to offer a rock climbing wall, on board their Vision class ships. Now, the rock climbing wall is a staple in the Royal Caribbean experience, and Mariner of the Seas is no exception.

The rock wall is located on a dedicated platform above the sports deck (deck 13). Please be informed that only the port side mid-ship elevators go to deck 13. All other lifts stop at deck 12. Anyways, the rock wall is not very high and is not facing the sea so it is not too intimidating even if you have fear of heights.

The rock wall runs up the ship exhaust funnel and is about 3 stories tall

But safety first. All participants are required to sign a waiver (better known as Indemnity form in Singapore) before being allowed to participate. The crew will do a star-shaped stamp on your SeaPass card to indicate that you have signed. Climbing shoes and safety harness is provided.

[tip] The star shaped stamp is only to indicate that you have signed the waiver and is not a redemption chop. You can actually do the rock wall any number of times you wish.

[tip] Memorise your shoe size before coming for the cruise. There are at least 3 activities on board where you need your shoe size.

The staff here are very reassuring and you will certainly not feel nervous climbing on Mariner of the Seas


After a morning of physical activity, the next thing on my mind is for some relaxation. The solarium on Mariner of the Seas is an adults only area themed to an ancient roman bath. The roman columns around the 2 whirlpools and the ornate sculptures makes the location quite immersive. The chaise lounges here have soft cushioned surfaces and are much more comfortable than those at the family pools.

Of course, what I was really after here are the whirlpools. Surprisingly, the whirlpools here use warm water which gives a hot-spring like experience. The bubbles feel really refreshing though I wish there are also some water jets at the feet level.

The 2 Solarium whirlpools can each accommodate 10 people

And when we came back to our stateroom to change, surprise! Our attendant Clemente has folded a monkey using the towels!

Ice Skating

Royal Caribbean's ships are the only ones to offer an ice-skating rink. The one on Mariner of the Seas is small and can only accommodate 45 people per half hour session. 

Now this is a real problem. When we entered Studio B at about 10.45am we were told to sign the waiver and return at the next session on 12.30pm. However, when we returned back after our Jacuzzi at 12.20pm we were told that the activity is first time first serve and there is still no guarantee we can go for this session. In the end we had to attend the following session at 1.15pm, and I saw many other guests who queued and signed the waiver earlier but did not have a chance to take part. This is one area Royal Caribbean really needs to do better.

Ice Skating is one of 3 activities on board where a waiver is required. The others are rock climbing (see above) and in-line skating.

While elbow and knee guards are provided, I do wish Royal Caribbean can make those mandatory. Since most participants are first timers, over 75% of the people will be grabbing the handrails on the edge of the rink, some of them never leaving the edge throughout the whole session.

[tip] You need to wear full length pants for this activity, and socks. The crew will turn you down if you do not.

Even at the end of the session, some participants are still glued to the edge handrails

Long queue for shoe exchange. That's why people need to remember their shoe size!

Lunch @ Windjammer Cafe

Normally, my family prefers to eat at the main dining hall. However, thanks to ice skating in which we are pushed to a later timeslot, the main dining hall is closed by the time we finished at 1.45pm. As such, we proceeded up to Windjammer Cafe on deck 11 - Mariner of the Seas' buffet restaurant.

There are 2 distinct areas at Windjammer. The side closer to the entrance is called Jade and serves mainly Asian food, such as curry meat, fried rice and steamed fish slice. Further inside, Windjammer Marketplace serves western food. In fact, I was really surprised by the number of people who took the french fries (alright, I admit they are slightly better than Macdonalds'). For myself, I far prefer the rosemary baked potatoes. Other popular items include Pizza and hot dogs. Not surprisingly, few people are after the salads.

[tip] Look out for the watermelon and kiwi red colour drink, served on select drink stations in Windjammer Marketplace. It tastes so much better than the standard lemonades and ice teas.

Sure looks delicious! Anyway, my mom noted that the sausages aboard ship are too salty.

See the glasses with red drink? This is the Watermelon and Kiwi drink I am talking about.

The cutlery wrapped in the green napkins only include knife and fork. Spoons are taken separately from the soup area.

Rosemary baked potatoes!!!!!

Move it, Move it parade @ Royal Promenade

Royal Caribbean's ships are the only ones to feature a long, open mall in the center of the ship called the Royal Promenade, the Mariner of the Seas is among the first class of ships to be equipped with this feature. For the kids, the Move it, Move it parade featuring Dreamworks characters is sure to be a favourite. Don't forget to arrive about 15 minutes early to grab a good spot.

I wish Royal Caribbean will request first row guests to sit down so more people can watch the parade

The costumes are about as good as any Disney or Universal Studios parade, and having the parade indoors have its perks: energetic music that is really loud and clear and lots of moving and flashing lights that create a party atmosphere. The ornate sphere at the middle of the promenade was quite a surprise. Only real drawback: no floats.

No one expected this sphere to be able to move, open and close in such a dramatic way

I think the trumpet is just a mock up. Yup it is!

This is really the chance for kids to get up close with their favourite Dreamworks characters. You will get to see Shrek, Fiona, the 4 Madagascar Penguins, Puss on Boots, Kung Fu Panda and much more. Some characters will stay behind for a short while for you to catch pictures. It is also noteworthy that there are many Chinese elements such as a dragon and traditional Chinese coins. Not sure if this is part of the Chinese New Year celebrations.

The costumes and props are all really elaborate and the performers are mostly lively and energetic

Notice the distinctly Chinese costumes and ornaments.

And now for the jumbo of the show: Po of Kung Fu Panda!

70s Dance Party @ Royal Promenade

On the great old ocean liners, social dancing is one of the signature activities, Royal Caribbean carries on this tradition with an added twist - using upbeat and rhythmic tunes from the 70s to create a really charged music and dance experience. This happens in the heart of the ship - Mariner of the Seas Royal Promenade. 

The 70s dance party is an adults only activity and features some oldies music with lots of energy

There are about 10 dancers on the bridge and they are pumping up the crowd by giving out free t-shirts and LED rings. Generally, the people at the front are dancing quite wildly and the energy level tapers off at the fourth or fifth row. Towards the end, one of the dancers will come down and form a human chain, though I must admit that Singaporeans are a bit more reserved in doing this and there are many "breaks" along the line as some are unwilling to hold shoulders.

I personally think that such an activity is much safer than a night club as most guests are not under heavy influence of alcohol and the Royal Promenade is quite an open venue. Even though I still avoid night clubs I am actually willing to return to this activity.

Row 1-5: Wild dancing. Row 6-10: some shaking. Row 11 onwards: cameras up!

Some members of the Mariner of the Seas Orchestra will perform some light music at the end of the party.


Oh well, 2 days of vacation has passed and our cruise on beautiful Mariner of the Seas is now past it's halfway mark. However, rest assured that there are still more new things to discover on the third night - formal night. It is just a pity that I had to call the 9.45pm show Gallery of Dreams a miss because I was still at Penang when the show started. See you on Mariner of the Seas Cruise Saga: Day 3, and don't forget to like our Facebook page!