Mariner of the Seas is a Royal Caribbean Cruise Line voyager-class cruise ship. We were lucky enough to sail on her for an 8-night Bermuda/Bahamas cruise in August 2022. Here are our top 29 Mariner of the Seas tips and things you will want to know before your next cruise.
Please keep in mind that this was our experience and the information at the time. Prices, activities, and information can change. This is meant to give you an idea of what to expect.
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29 Best Mariner of the Seas Tips
1. Lunch at specialty restaurants instead of dinner to save money
Having lunch at a specialty restaurant instead of dinner is a great way to save money on a cruise while still trying stepped up cuisine.
Chops Grille and Jamie’s Italian (restaurant by Jamie Oliver) are both open for lunch on select days. Reservations are required. Reservations can be made ahead of time online or in the app, in person on the ship, or in the app while onboard. The lunch window is short, noon – 1:30.
When we sailed, lunch was less than half the cost of dinner, although, you are getting smaller portions. But as I mentioned, it is a great way to sample the specialty dining for a lot less.
There is a Starbucks onboard. It is located on deck 4 and opens at 6:30 am. Unfortunately, it is not part of any drink package. A gratuity (18% at that time) is automatically added to the cost as well.
3. Johnny Rockets milkshakes are included in select drink packages
Even though Johnny Rockets is a restaurant with an additional charge, if you have the deluxe beverage package or the refreshment package, milkshakes are included.
If you have only the soda package or no package at all, milkshakes are $5.50 (this of course can change). Choose from strawberry, vanilla, chocolate, or Oreo.
4. Bring closed toed shoes for activities
Select activities like laser tag, the rock-climbing wall, and some sports court activities require runners or sneakers. Be sure to pack these if you or your children are wanting to participate in these activities
Runners would also be required on certain shore excursions such as zip lines.
5. There is a peek-a-boo bridge
This is a neat feature on Royal Caribbean’s Mariner of the Seas. Forward on deck 11 there is an area with windows looking into the bridge. You can peek in and watch as the captain and crew members operate the ship. This is the first time I have ever seen this on a cruise ship.
6. The sauna and steam room are free to use
This is a great Mariner of the Seas tip as many people are unaware of this. You must, however be 18 to use the sauna or steam room.
Located in the change rooms of the fitness center are a sauna and a steam room. They are both free to use. The fitness center is on deck 11.
Towels are provided in the change rooms. If you would like to use a locker, take the staircase in the fitness center up to the spa on deck 12. They will take your Seapass cruise card in exchange for a locker key.
7. Life jackets are available for use in the pool
You don’t need to pack life jackets for your children to use by the pool or on Royal Caribbean’s private island, Perfect Day at Coco Cay, if that is one of your ports of call.
Poolside there is a life jacket stand with swim vests available ranging in size from infant to youth (less than 30 lbs to 90 lbs).
On Perfect Day for Coco Cay there are life jacket stands at different areas. These include adult sizes as well.
There is no charge to use these and you don’t need to sign them out, just return them when you are done.
8. No self serve laundry
There is no do it yourself laundry facilities on Mariner of the Seas.
For a fee you can have your laundry done or clothes pressed for you. You cannot bring an iron.
If you are looking for ways to help keep Wrinkle Free on a Cruise, then check out this article.
9. Bamboo Room specialty drinks have an upcharge
The Bamboo Room (deck 5) has 8 or so specialty cocktails on their menu. These specialty drinks have a cost of $14, the deluxe drink package covers drinks up to $13, therefore you are charged $1.00 to your shipboard account for these drinks.
I tried “On The Run!” which came in this fun drink pouch. It was worth the $1.
10. Knee length shorts or pants are needed for the Sky Pad
**Update – The SkyPad is no longer operated on any of the Royal Caribbean cruise ships.
The Sky pad is a bungee trampoline experience where you can wear a virtual reality headset for even more fun. The Sky Pad is located in the big colorful sphere you see on top of the ship.
Knee length shorts or pants are required, and no crop tops allowed. This is because of where the harness needs to sit.
This tip is especially useful for teenage girls as many were turned away for wearing short shorts and a crop top.
My daughter tried the Sky Pad but did find the harness quite uncomfortable.
If you are interested in more information check out:
More Mariner of the Seas Tips
11. Some interior staterooms have a promenade view
Some of the interior rooms on decks 6, 7, and 8 have a view of the promenade. The promenade is lined with shops, bars and the Cafe Promenade.
This is a nice option to still have a window, which makes the room feel bigger, without having the cost of an ocean view or balcony room. Also, it can be fun to people watch.
12. Room service continental breakfast is free
While most room service items now have a charge, continental breakfast is still free of charge.
Continental breakfast consists of bakery items like pastries, toast, bagels as well as cereals, fruit and yogurt. You can also order coffee, teas, juices, and milk.
Room service breakfast can be ordered from 6am to 11am. Or you can hang an order form on your door in the evening prior. The order form will have you select a half hour window starting at 6:00-6:30 with the last window being between 10:30-11:00.
You can also order an “American Breakfast” complete with eggs, pancakes, hashbrowns, and bacon but that has an additional cost of $7.95.
13. The Windjammer has veggie burgers – Mariner of the Seas tips for vegetarians
The burger station in the Windjammer buffet restaurant has veggie burgers, you just have to ask for them.
To be honest, they tasted way better than they looked.
Find more information on the Mariner of the Seas buffet restaurant in this article.
14. Laser tag is offered only once or twice
On our 8 night sailing, laser tag was only offered one day. Laser tag on Mariner of the Seas is in Studio B, which is the ice rink. Since they must cover the ice surface and there is a fair bit of set up, laser tag isn’t offered often.
Be sure to check the Cruise Compass or the Royal Caribbean app for the date and time and add it to your calendar if this is a must to item for you or your teen. My daughter loved it and played it twice the same day.
There is no charge. Line ups can be long so be sure to get there early. You do need runners (sneakers) and they do check that you are wearing closed toed shoes.
15. Don’t choose My Time Dining
My Time Dining, in the main dining room still needs a reservation. I expected My Time Dining to be like similar cruise lines (they call it something different) but where you can show up between certain times (5:30-9:00 ish).
On Mariner of the Seas however, you still needed to make a reservation. To me this defeated the purpose of My Time Dining. When we went to make reservations the only times available were 8:30 or 8:45 pm.
You can make reservations ahead of time online, but the reason I chose My Time was to play it by ear and eat when we were hungry or plan dinner around events happening. This just wasn’t possible.
I’d suggest booking either the early or late dining (whatever will suit you best) and then your time is set. The main shows are usually scheduled around these dining times. If you do decide to choose My Time Dining, be sure to make your reservations early.
16. There are several free drink options
There were free non-alcoholic drink options available in the windjammer buffet and the Café Promenade.
In the Windjammer buffet restaurant, you will find coffee, teas, juices, and milk available in the mornings. In the afternoon and evening, ice water, iced tea, and either strawberry kiwi water or mango water was available. This is great for people who didn’t purchase a drink package.
The Windjammer did close however between 3-6pm.
Café Promenade (deck 5) offers coffee, tea, ice water and lemonade. Their coffee and tea station is open 24 hours a day.
17. There is a curfew for teens
There is a ship wide curfew of 1:00 am for teens and kids aged 17 and under.
18. The Solurium deck fills up fast – get there early
The lounge chairs and day beds in the adult only Solarium area filled up really fast on our cruise. By 7am, especially on sea days, most if not all the chairs were claimed.
If this is your area of choice to relax in, you will need to get their early.
This area was virtually empty by early evening. It was nice to spend time on one of the day beds then. Nice and quiet.
This photo was taken early morning (5:30 am).
19. Bring shampoo and conditioner – a Mariner of the Seas tip
The bathrooms only have a 2-in-1 bodywash/shampoo combo.
I’d suggest bringing your own. One of the best travel hacks ever is to bring shampoo and conditioner bars. We cut one shampoo bar and one conditioner bar in half and packed them in a travel soap dish.
It takes up WAY less space and no spills. The bars last a long time, plus they are eco friendly.
20. Clam shell double lounge beds
You can find nice relaxing wicker clam shell double lounge beds at Mariner Dunes, the mini golf area on deck 13.
This is a quieter area (if there aren’t many playing mini golf) at the front of the ship, however it is quite breezy.
Even more great Mariner of the Seas tips
21. Careful with additional gratuities
With things like drinks, specialty restaurants, and spa services, there is an automatic gratuity added to the bill. When we sailed it was 18%.
They will give you a bill to sign that has a spot for an additional tip. Just keep in mind this is additional on top of the 18% auto gratuity. I point this out not to discourage additional gratuities but just so you are aware that a tip has already been added.
If you don’t look closely or remember that one is added and add a 18-20% tip like you would in any other restaurant or bar you are now spending way more than you likely intended. I have made this mistake. I often still add an additional tip, just not a large one.
22. You can ask for robes – Mariner of the Seas tips
You can ask your stateroom attendant for a bathrobe if it is something you think you’d use.
23. The helipad is a great place to watch sail in or sail away
The helicopter pad at the front of the ship accessed from deck 4 is a great place to watch sail away.
24. Watch sunrises or sunsets from the Mariner Dunes
Another great viewing area is Mariner Dunes, the mini golf area forward on deck 13. Depending on the direction of the ship is it perfect to watch the sunrise.
25. The Flow Rider is great entertaiment
The Flowrider surf simulator is located at the back of the ship on deck 13 near the Perfect Storm water slides.
Even if you don’t plan on trying boogie boarding or surfing, the Flow Rider is a fun atmosphere. There is loudish music and has a cool vibe. It is fun to just sit and watch, especially the advanced surfers.
26. The hot tubs by the pool are warmer than the ones in the Solarium area
This may not always be the case, but when we sailed on this particular ship, the hot tubs in the main pool area were considerably warmer than the hot tubs in the Solarium area.
27. How to swipe your Seapass card in the arcade
We were confused by this at first and then had several other people ask us how to get the Sea Pass cruise card to work in the arcade games.
The back of the Sea Pass card has a black strip running along the length of the card and then 2 barcodes along each side. You swipe the bar code (short end of the card), not the long black strip.
Arcade games are charged to your onboard account – be careful of this, especially if your kids have charging privileges.
28. Collect your drink package souvenir drink cups from any bar
If you have purchased a drink package, you will receive a souvenir cup with it. Soon after boarding the ship on embarkation day go to any bar and collect your souvenir cup. Choose a different color than others in your stateroom.
If you are considering a drink package, purchase it ahead of time. It is cheaper than onboard. The drink packages often go on sale, keep checking online.
29. How to use Freestyle Coke machines
This is another thing we struggled with initially and again once we figured out, helped others with it. The Freestyle Coke machines (by Café Promenade and in the Windjammer buffet) are ice, water, and soda machines. They can only be used with the cups provided with the drink packages.
You must set your cup down first (there is something in the bottom that registers you have the drink package), then select the type of soda you’d like.
The first time we used it, we were trying to make our selection first and the machine kept reading, “must use different cup”. Place your cup first, then make your selection.
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I hope you have found these Mariner of the Seas tips helpful and that you will be better prepared for your next cruise vacation.
We really enjoyed our Mariner of the Seas cruise and are now in post cruise depression. We really enjoyed the live music and the passenger featured activities like the games shows and karaoke.
If you are cruising on Mariner of the Seas, I’m sure you will have a great time.