Monday, 9 February 2015

Mariner of the Seas Review: Day 3

Mariner of the Seas is built in 2003. However, just like the great old ocean liners, the formal nights represent the highlight of the cruise. Well, as a more family oriented cruise line, Royal Caribbean offers a much milder formal night experience, though it is still worth talking about. Of course, that still leaves the rest of the day for more exploration. Don't forget to view the posts for the first day and second day of the cruise!

Lunch @ Main Dining Room

Alright, the morning is pretty much the same for the third day, except that we did not wake up in time to catch the physical fitness lessons. Breakfast is the same as the previous day. So I shall start straight with lunch. Lunch on board Mariner of the Seas is served in 2 locations, and today we visited the Main Dining Room on deck 3. 

The lunch menu is titled brassiere 300 (not really sure what it means) and features Asian delicacies with a western twist. The duck salad is surprisingly good starter as the vegetables are not too bland and the duck is very well smoked. However, the Tom Yum soup which I chose is really too sour. A couple of other salads and soups are also available.

Anyway, one noteworthy point which I have not mentioned so far is that Royal Caribbean really offers a wide selection of tea. A waiter will approach you with a large box and there are over 20 choices available. You can literally take 1 tea per meal and still not tasted everything by the end of the 3 night cruise. (I did not)

Some choices for main course include Laksa as well as Chicken Yakitori Rice. I really love the soft Japanese rice that accompanies the Chicken Yakitori. The catfish dish is particularly good as the fish is really fresh and the accompanying sauce is not too strong. 

Chicken Yakitori is one of the dishes labelled low lactose meal, which is good for the health conscious diner.

I shall let the desserts speak for themselves, though in the case the 2 chocolate options, a moose cake and cream puffs both taste excellent. In fact, I will gladly have Mariner of the Sea's deserts every day!

Sorry folks, I took a bite before I took the photo

Even the seemingly simple chocolate cream puff is served with taste and style

Sports Deck

I spent a good part of the 2nd afternoon on the sports deck at deck 13, doing mini golf, ball games, rock climbing and in-line skating. The sports deck of Mariner of the Seas is actually considered relatively small compared to newer ships but still offers a good balance of activities.

[tip] Avoid going to the sports deck between 10am and 3pm as the sun is really, really hot.

Mariner of the Seas is equipped with a full basketball court though I wish they organised some tournaments on board
Arriving at 2pm, the rock climbing wall just opened and I was one of the first to attempt today. Unfortunately, as I lost my SeaPass card in Penang, I had to sign the waiver again since my new card does not have the star shaped chop. In fact, I managed to try both lanes and I must say that the outer green lane is much more challenging as the rocks are smaller and the surface is more uneven. Several other guests attempted but not all managed to complete the Mariner of the Seas rock wall.

My father also attempted the rock wall this time though he only attempted the easier pink lane.

The next activity is in-line skating. It is located all the way at the stern of Mariner of the Seas. As with ice skating, you need to change your shoes and sign a waiver. But unlike ice skating, you will start to fall over the moment you put on your shoes, even before entering the track. I made the mistake of taking a shoe that is a little too big for me, though I didn't know how to roller skate anyways so it did not make too big a difference.

Once you put on your skates, you will start falling over
However, I must say the in-line skating track is much more beginner friendly than ice skating. For one, the track is narrower so handrails are never too far away. Also, there is soft padding along the edge of the track so you will slam your face right into the metal railings when you fall down. The only drawback is that you will really sweat a lot more here. Nonetheless, I prefer if Royal Caribbean placed a Flowrider here.

The track is relatively short but well covered with soft padding to protect from falls.

Golf is the final activity on the Sports Deck. The mini golf here looks easy but is actually very hard as there are many tiny slopes that you can't see. It took me 6 strokes to complete the par 4 first hole, get the picture. One surprising thing is that there are very few balls available compared to golf clubs. I wonder how many of them got lost in the dunes, or worse, fly off into the sea.

Be careful not to hit the ball too hard. If it hits one of the ramps the ball will fly into another hole!

The uneven surface makes it very difficult just to secure the ball for the first shot.

There is a golf simulator in the middle of the sports deck, but you need to pay USD25 to do it. I guess it will be much better if Royal Caribbean can replace that with Ripcord by I-Fly.

Royal Promenade Special Retail Offer

Branded shopping is a key highlight on the Royal Promenade, and on the third day the whole street is filled with various retail options of duty free and discounted branded goods. For example, a higher end G-Shock watch will cost between USD100 and USD200, and from 2.30pm to 4.30pm there was even a special discount that offers watch wallet combos for as little as USD39! 

The whole Royal Promenade is transformed into a high-end flea market

If is noteworthy that only the items displayed outside are on discount. The items inside the stores still retain their original high price. I guess that most of these products are geared towards Chinese nationals who crave branded goods, since Mariner of the Seas spends half of each year in China.

These boxes here are only available from 2.30pm to 4.30pm and is among the best retail deals on the ship.


Now this is 1 classic cruise ship activity, and Mariner of the Seas actually featured 3 game sessions over the whole cruise - one on each day. The final session on day 3 is the finale and features four separate games in one session. This, unfortunately, also means that the ticket will cost USD32 instead of USD10 in the other sessions.

This activity is really fun to watch. We are encouraged to boo people when players stand up, as it shows they are 1 number from winning. However, there are only 2 assistants to run around and verify numbers so the process is rather slow. The crowd also loves the challenge winners to play off when there is a tie, though all winners so far choose to share.

However, I must say I will not play this again. For one, given the number of players it is almost impossible to win, and the prizes are not very attractive anyways for the amount that is paid for the game. There is also a concurrent session of Bingo at Lotus Lounge for a private group. Just saying.

Bingo numbers are all decided by computers.

Dinner at Main Dining Room

Before we move on to dinner, just one thing. The passport collection is also done at the main dining room at deck 5 on the 2nd last day of the cruise, between lunch and dinner. Don't forget to come before dinner or else you have to endure the super long queue at the Mariner of the Seas Guest Services Counter.

Alright back to the dinner. This is a formal dinner, so everyone will wear suits and evening dresses. Well, I wish so. Being a family oriented cruise line, Royal Caribbean does not enforce formal wear and I see many participants with jeans and polo t-shirt taking part. Nonetheless, I urge you to dress up as it is rare to take part in a dinner where you can do so. Quite surprisingly, the people who dress up the most are actually the young children.

The dinner menu is quite mixed and I cannot identify a distinct style. On one hand, there is a Japanese starter shrimp gyoza, yet western style steak is also served. If you see the menu, one thing you realise is that there is no dessert. Well, dessert menu is only presented to you after completing your main course.
The dinner menus does not include dessert as the dessert menu is only presented after the main course is completed.

This is our waiter's recommendation - Shrimp Gyoza, and the filling inside is really generous and sauce tastefully done (well, my mother actually found it a bit to salty) 

A noteworthy point is that you can actually request for 2nd servings of main, starter or dessert if you so desire, though it is subject to availability. I actually took 2 starters this dinner: smoked salmon and shrimp gyoza.

This is my second steak on the cruise, and I did not regret choosing it.

Since this is the last night of the cruise, the ship actually takes the opportunity to show appreciation to all the waiters and cooks on board. The waiters even presented a Chinese song 月亮代表我的心 to us. In fact, I finally understand why the staff on board are so happy working on board in spite of long hours and time away from family - they have a right to be recognised. The chief waiter even encouraged us to provide compliments for our individual waiters.

The waiters and assistant waiters of Mariner of the Seas (well, the rest are at deck 3)
While most things aboard ship is complimentary, here is one paying item that I really encourage you to go for - Maine Lobster. It is just USD30, and the lobster is really huge. By grilling it without too much flavourings, it really brings out the natural taste and texture of the lobster. I reckon that this lobster will cost between $100 and $150 in a Singapore restaurant.

If you only intend to spend money on 1 thing aboard the ship, it has to be the Maine lobster!

Royal Caribbean is actually able to offer a different dessert menu every night, and even after 5 meals and 3 snacks I am still looking forward to the chocolate cravings and mango puddings.

Presenting to you my family and our waiters Jeong from Korea and Li Yan from China

Farewell Show @ Savoy Theater

There are actually 2 shows for the farewell show, and the session you watch depends on your dinner seatting. For us on the 5.45pm seating, our farewell show is at 8.45pm. There is also an earlier show at 6.45pm for those taking the second dinner seating. As usual, the cruise director Ken Jones is welcomed on stage by the Mariner of the Seas Orchestra, though he very quickly relinquished the stage to the highlight of the night: Juggling by Jeremy Ansley.

[tip] You can get plain water or cocktails from the bar at the back of the theater if you want a drink. This is unlike land based shows where eating and drinking is prohibited.

Jeremy is full on antics. At the start of the show, he tells us to boo him whenever he drops a prop. The thing is, he will actually purposely drop balls and torches just so the audience can boo him. Then, he even asks audience members to participate on stage; not juggling, but following his antics. Just when you think he is running out of ideas, he will climb onto the railings and do balance beam right in the middle of the audience!

Don't forget to boo me when I drop a ball!

Here's our dear Jeremy Ansley doing balance beam among the audience.

Of course, he is from New Zealand, so he proclaims himself to be the TRUE, LORD OF THE RINGS! They should have played Charge of the Rohirrim soundtrack at that point, though.

Jeremy shows of his talent by juggling up to 8 rings at a time.

Even after the show has ended, the antics are not over. Cruise Director comes back on stage with a video showing the things he "usually" does at work. Well, it is very obvious from the first minute that that's not what he does. I mean, having PK with a crew member? Using security body check to touch a woman's boobs? Sounds a little too good to be true!

Of course, Royal Caribbean never ceases to appreciate its crew members for their efforts, and the finale calls representatives from every department of the ship up on stage for a final farewell. Damn! I think I should also do that in the community events I organise.

Every department of the ship is represented in the ship's final farewell, to the tune of "Until We Meet Again"

Dance Party under the Stars

It is the last night and the night is still young, so why not party all the way! Well, you can join dance party on the pool deck! Unlike the 70s dance party yesterday the music today is so much more recent with tunes like Gangnam Style and Mambo No 5. Before the actual dance, Mariner of the Seas in-house bartenders will do a little drink mixing show and some lucky guests get to walk away with free cocktails.

The bartender shows off his skills at mixing drinks in a fanciful way. He did drop a couple of glasses though, not sure if that is intentional

This dance session is also much more intimate with the crew as there is no physical barrier. The emcee will even go around the deck to interact with the crowd. However, the biggest draw of this activity is to do it under the stars, since there are no visible stars in Singapore.

The emcee runs around to energise the crowd.

There is no physical barrier between the crew members and the guests here


Even on the third day, there are still a whole host of activities to do on Mariner of the Seas. In fact, my family actually plan our time quite tightly to be able to do most of the activities on board. My post on day 4 will actually be very short and cover mostly the debarkation process and our only breakfast at Windjammer. 

There are just a couple of things I really like to see: Fireworks at the end of the Dance Party under the stars and a stronger formal night atmosphere extending beyond the dining room. Other than that I am all for this ship. 3 Nights is barely enough. If you like this post, you will really want to like the Second Drop Facebook Page, or you can find out why is Royal Caribbean better than Star Cruises.