Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Royal Caribbean's Mariner of the Seas

We went for a 4D3N cruise with Royal Caribbean's Mariner of the Seas and really enjoyed the time we had together as a family away from school, work and our electronic gadgets.

We share our experience here for those who are considering or have a cruise vacation planned.

Royal Carribean's Mariner of the Seas

The cruise departs from the Marina Bay Cruise Centre. If you plan to drive and leave your vehicle at the cruise centre, overnight parking is available. We decided to take a cab instead. Although the ship only departs at 5pm, we were able to check-in and board at about 11am. Buffet lunch was served at the Windjammer restaurant on board.

Going on our first cruise vacation

Things to Bring
If you decide to check-in your luggage, know that it takes a while for your luggage to arrive at your rooms due to the sheer volume of luggage there is to handle. You might not receive it until late evening of the first day, so it is a good idea to hand carry a small trolley bag with some essentials. We decided not to check in our luggage, mainly because there is so much that I need to have with me since I am travelling with two young ones.

Waiting to Board

Travelling with two kids, my list of essentials is pretty long...
They include:
1) Milk powder & bottles
2) Bolster and favourite soft toy for afternoon nap
3) Diapers
4) Change of clothes
5) Camera
6) Swimming / sports gear (in case you decide to check out the pool / sports facilities before your luggage arrives)

Other things I packed...
1) Medication (just in case)
2) Soap & shampoo (though this is available in the rooms)
3) Slippers / Sandals
4) Sunscreen

Space is premium on a cruise ship so most of the staterooms are pretty small. We stayed in a balcony class cabin with a queen bed and a sofa bed. There was a seating area at the balcony where you can laze or have breakfast in the comfort of your room. Room service breakfast is available at no additional charge! This room configuration was perfect for our family. Dean and Nathan shared the bed, while Noah and I slept in the sofa bed. No fear of kids falling off bunk beds. :) Rooms are equipped with basic necessities like an electric kettle.

Balcony Class Stateroom

There were nightly shows ranging from acrobatics/ballet to comedy and songs.

I enjoyed the first night's show the most. Titled Ballet on Shoulders, it featured a lady and a man who were able to execute amazing moves effortlessly. Nathan was so inspired, he attempted ballet on daddy's head...

Ballet on Shoulders

Noah was able to sit through all the shows with his eyes glued to the stage. I was pleasantly surprised and glad that he enjoyed the performances even though they weren't exactly kids' stuff.

In addition to the nightly shows, there was an ice-skating spectacular. We were wowed by the figure skaters' flawless execution of spins, back-flips, lifts, spirals and group sequences. At certain times of the day, the ice-skating rink is open for anyone who'd like to have a go at ice-skating. Skates are made available for loan. Dress in long pants/jeans if you'd like to try out.

Ice-skating spectacular

Room service breakfast is available thru'out the duration of our stay but we decided to dine at the restaurants instead. The breakfast crowd peaks at 9am, so do expect a short queue if you decide to dine at that time. We are early birds, so we did not encounter much problems. 

More please!

Lunch is served at selected restaurants. Expect a short queue during peak periods. The menu at the dining rooms changes everyday. In general, the food was palatable. The boys were delighted as they got to have dessert after every meal. Nathan's choice - chocolate ice-cream, Noah's choice - strawberry ice-cream WITH biscuit. A real treat!

Noah's enjoying his favourite strawberry ice-cream

Dinner is served in two seatings, 5.45pm and 8pm. The dinner seatings are pre-allocated (you make your choice when you book your cruise holiday). I like this arrangement as we did not have to waste time waiting in line. We just had to show up at our allocated table at the right time, and the waiter will be there to hand us the menus and take our orders.

Kids' Club
The kids' club offered a multitude of activities to engage kids aged 3 to 12. It is a drop of service, so parents can drop the kids off during opening hours and head off to the spa or solarium to relax. Nathan participated in a science experiment where they created a 'volcano' using baking soda and a mixture of several liquids. The kids are split into groups according to their ages, and I like how the activities are age appropriate, and group size kept rather small. 


At the kids' club

Noah was too young to join the kids club, but there was a nursery where we could drop him off. Unlike the kids' club which was free, the drop off service for kids under 3 is $8 an hour. The nursery is equipped with fisherprice toys to keep the toddlers busy. Baby cots are available for babies who need a shut eye, and a diaper changing area was also available in the same area. We did not use this service but it is nice to know that there is also a drop-off option for kids under 3. 

A wide variety of Fisher Price toys for the little ones

Baby cots & diaper changing area

Nursery for kids under 3

There are activities planned throughout the day ranging from scrap booking workshops, to health talks, to movie screenings, to dancing, to karaoke, to meet and greet session with the Dreamworks characters... These are detailed in the daily compass, a copy of which is made available in our cabin every evening (for the next day's activities).

Cruise Compass details the day's activities

Meet & Greet - King Julian

Meet & Greet - Kung Fu Panda

In addition, there are facilities such as the rock wall, in-line skating, mini golf, basketball court, swimming pool and gym which you can use at your own time.

Rock wall

Basketball Court

Mini Golf


And if you really just want to sit back and unwind, deck chairs are aplenty. We enjoyed just strolling on the top deck, hearing the crash of waves and feeling the sea breeze against our faces.

Taking a stroll on the open deck

The highlight for us on Mariner of the Seas was the Dreamworks experience. Nathan and Noah were thrilled to see many of the characters that they have seen in books/movies like Alex & gang from Madagascar, Kungfu Panda and Puss in Boots. There were meet & greet sessions scheduled throughout the duration of the cruise. On the last night, there was a Dreamworks parade were we got to see all the Dreamworks charcters moving to the music. It was scheduled at 10.30pm though, way past the kids' bedtime. They were watching the parade in their pyjamas! It'd probably be better if there were two sessions, with one held earlier for families with young kids. Nonetheless, the kids stayed up for the parade and fell asleep promptly once we returned to our stateroom.

Shrek & Princess Fiona

King Julien

Kungfu Panda

Gloria the hippo

Puss in Boots

All in all, we enjoyed our cruise vacation. It is a perfect 'getaway' when you are pressed for time. Mariner of the Seas will be sailing from Singapore this November / December 2013. Book you tickets for your cruise vacation today!

Sail-Away party on the deck

Disclaimer: We received a stateroom upgrade in exchange for this blog post. All opinions are my own.

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  1. thanks for sharing! We had a great time on Legends and are planning to go on Mariner next year. Had written some posts too!

    1. thanks for dropping by! I read your posts before our cruise. :)

  2. thanks for all the tips. we booked our cruise in January and really looking forward to our 1st cruise.

  3. Looking forward to our trip in Jan as well! Hope my kids will love it

    1. Hi Victor - I'm sure your kids will love it! :)

  4. Good to read your post before I go with my 3 kids this December hols! They sure look fun! I had travelled on Legends and totally love the experience. This ship is super big, and I think the kids will love it. Btw, I heard that's a dreamworks character breakfast, I hope that's not too crowded to book.

    1. Hi Christy, the dream works character breakfast is rather hard to book actually. the way to get a seat is to go straight to your cabin once you get onboard. you should find a 'Cruise compass' which will provide you with a phone number to call to make your bookings. Call immediately and be prepared to stay on the phone for a long time... That really is the only way to book.
      I waited on the phone a long time and gave up. tried booking by going to one of the restaurants in person. was told that i can only make a booking by phone. so i went back to the cabin and tried calling again. when i eventually got thru, all the slots were taken. :(
      another family i knew who managed to get a booking said they stayed online for abt half an hour! I hope you'll get a table for your family. :)

  5. Hi just wanna ask, is the queue for check-in very long? I'm going with my family during the year end holidays and I'm rather worried about the time taken for check-in, would be grateful if you could share something with me about the check-in procedures.

    1. Hi, we actually arrived half an hour before the check in counters opened, and there were already people queuing up. so we joined the queue as well. it didn't take them that long to process the check in for us since we arrived early. but the queues can get pretty long. perhaps you can plan on arriving early too... lunch is served onboard, so we proceeded straight for lunch once we boarded. when we were done with lunch, a queue had formed outside the restaurant, as only one restaurant was serving the first meal. alternatively, u can plan on having lunch outside and check in after the bulk of the people have checked-in.

    2. Ship will only start sailing at 5pm, is the lunch free if we check in early? Thanks

    3. Yes. The lunch is free. Buffet lunch at the wind jammer restaurant onboard.

  6. hi. thanks for your valuable review. Can i check something regarding onboard spending using credit card. Can we still use cash money to pay for the expenses even we have opted for the credit card option during the online check-in ?

    1. Hi, all your spendings onboard will be charged to your room account. if you opted for credit card payment during online check-in, you can disembark immediately without queueing up to settle your bills. if you want to pay by cash on the last day, be prepared to queue up to settle your bills. i saw quite a lot of people queueing up on the last day to settle their room bills.

  7. Thanks for the wonderful and informative review! Our kids are young too and I was told that I can't bring loose milk powder that are portioned properly into each feed milk powder containers on board. I was told that I can only to bring new unopened tin of milk powder onboard. May I know how did you bring your milk powder onboard?


    1. hi, i brought loose milk powder portioned properly into three feeds (in the avent milk powder container), and also a tin of unopened milk powder. no one told me about the restrictions, and i didn't encounter any problems with bringing it onboard.

  8. Going for my cruise soon, same as yours............ in 5 days time. Appreciate your reviews of what to do/eat/enjoy on board since I'm a novice. Want to ask, do you give tips to the crew? Seems Royal Caribbean now implemented standard gratuity of US$12 per guest per day to avoid cases of some guests who don't tip at all after cruise ends, starting from early 2013. This is included in the package that I bought. I'm ok with giving tips but bf boarding, has already given out almost US$100 tips. Even then not sure it goes to the right staff

    1. Lots to do! Just pick from the daily activities... or just laze by the pool. :) Lots to eat... but the menu is pretty much decided for you. a few items you can choose from each day. :) it's true that gratuity is already included... so i suppose up to the individual if you'd like to give more. have fun!

  9. Hi. Do you know if we can get cold fresh milk for the kids on board? Wondering if we need to buy in. Or can we get

    1. If i recall correctly, they had UHT milk at breakfast.

  10. Very helpful post. I am going with my invalid mum on Jan 2 for the 6 day 5 nite cruise to Phuket. Her helper is with us. Also, some 20 friends and acquaintances of ours are coming from Malaysia + 2 from SG. I've been given a state room on Level 7 facing the promenade. There have been some adverse comments in other posts on other websites regarding this location. Hope they are exaggerations as we shall be pretty shagged after the cruise if we are kept up by the noise and the partying of the parades.

    I hope I will have a very happy experience to write about after cruise. I shall stay positive!

    1. Hi, the promenade is where the parade will take place. so you'll get to watch it from your state room. :) I hope it won't keep you up when you're trying to sleep though.

  11. Thank you for this informative post. I am going on a short cruise with them later this month. I read there is going to be a formal dinner thingy on the last night. How formal must one dress? I am a berms, sandals kinda guy. Will long sleeve shirt and cargo pants work? :D

    1. Hi, the degree of 'formal' varies quite widely... there were people dressed in gowns and suits, and others who didn't even bother with the dress code. I personally think that minimally a shirt and tie (or at least a short sleeve shirt) for guys and the equivalent for ladies would be a good in-between... which was what I did for my family... cos we wanted to pack light. enjoy your cruise. :)

  12. Hi, read your post and find it helpful! I'm traveling with them in Feb 14, excited about it! Some questions to check:
    - is the formal night compulsory? Kinda cumbersome to bring an extra set of formal attire. Wondering if it could be skipped and whether other restaurants serve dinner instead.
    - is it necessary to purchase the beverages package?
    - how long did it take before the state room was ready since boarding? Dilemma as to whether we shld check in the luggage. My mom (in her 60s) is traveling with me so wondering which wld b better.
    Thanks in advance! !

    1. Hi, thanks for dropping by. :) Answering your questions:
      - there were some who really bothered to dress up (think evening gowns and suits) but most others just wore a shirt and tie / a simple dress. they won't bar you from entering the restaurants because u are underdressed... though slippers and singlets are definitely not allowed.
      - I didn't purchase the beverage packages. they'll still serve coffee/tea and uht milk at breakfast and ice water at lunch/dinner. so unless u want soft drinks, juices, alcoholic drinks, it isn't necessary.
      - we were able to board at about 11am if I recall correctly (ship was set to sail at 5pm). rooms were typically ready after lunch but they were still in the midst of delivering luggages in the evening. you can check in most of your bags and maybe pack 1 hand carry luggage. if you need milk powder or medication, definitely hand carry those cos it takes a while for the luggage to arrive at your room. you might even want to pack a change of clothes / swim wear so you can carry on with the activities without having to wait for your bags.
      Enjoy your holiday! :)

    2. Great, thanks for sharing! Very helpful information!

  13. My favorite ship. have a lot of fun and entertainment.just amazing.

  14. May i ask if you book the night show onboard or online?Thank you in advance!

    1. Hi, we can't make any bookings online (not that I know of when I went 1.5 years back. Some of the show timings were allocated based on your dinner timings, and for others, just queue up before the showtime to get your seats.