Family Fun on Royal Caribbean's Renovated Mariner of the Seas
Disclaimer: Although I did not receive any compensation from Royal Caribbean for this post, my husband does work for Royal Caribbean. I was not approached by anyone for a review but wanted to share my experiences during my travels. All opinions are my own.
Royal Caribbean’s Mariner of the Seas was recently sent to dry dock and completely renovated inside and out. My family was lucky enough to be on the first sailing out of the Port of Miami after it’s refurbishment and there were so many cool things onboard the ship. We had also never been to Coco Cay, Royal Caribbean’s private island in the Bahamas and we finally got to experience the island as well.
So I packed our bags, put on our Hawaiian shirts and off we went to the port for our vacation. Our vacation also coincided with Madison’s 2nd birthday, therefore, we had more of a reason to celebrate.
The lines to get on the ship were not long and we were onboard within the hour of arriving at the port. We had an Oceanview cabin because I learned on one of my last trips that a balcony cabin with a toddler is a recipe for disaster. Sebastian as a 2-year old was able to fit under the balcony dividers and was constantly wanting to climb on a chair to see over the railing, even though the balcony was all glass. Never again. I will wait for the kids to be older before doing another balcony cabin with kids because I don’t need those micro heart attacks.
We went through our muster drill, where Sebastian decided all his buddies had to come along too. These two have been his buddies since he was little. Doggie and Bear are as well traveled as Sebastian is! He was even put to work and helped hold up the muster station sign for a bit.
For anyone who hasn’t sailed yet, the muster drill is an emergency drill that takes place prior to sailing. It’s like receiving your pre-flight instructions before flying. You know, the whole “exits are located on the front and rear of the plane” drill? This is basically the, “here is where you go if the shit should hit the fan to get off the boat”.
(This is pretty much how everyone feels during the muster drill.)
What's New Onboard
One of the new bars onboard was The Bamboo Room. This is a retro, kitschy styled bar that was pretty cool to look at, even though I didn’t get to go drinking inside of it because kids. It is Polynesian styled with the staff dressed in retro Hawaiian shirts.
They also installed a new play area for kids where they could climb inside a netting with different levels. They could go in one side and out the other and explore every niche in between. The kids loved playing in here, including Madison who went all over. Royal Caribbean also put in swings and hammocks. The kids used the swings and Sebastian was ok with it but Madison was not a fan. She immediately asked to be taken out of it. They both enjoyed the climbing thing much more than swinging.
I got to use the hammock for all of 2 minutes before the kids came screaming for me, but it was a happy 2 minutes.
Another new feature on this ship is the Flow Rider. This has been installed in a few other ships and we saw it in action on both Harmony and Oasis but it is new on Mariner, as well as the new water slides.
And something that is new to Royal Caribbean (this is the second ship to have it installed. The first one is Independence of the Seas) is the Sky Pad. This is a virtual reality bungee trampoline. You put on VR goggles while bouncing and experience different locations, times, or even sci-fi places. There is an age and weight limit on this so be sure you meet the requirements in order to experience the Skypad. Sky Pad℠ Bungee Trampoline | Onboard Activities | Royal Caribbean Cruises
Sebastian was 1-month shy of the mandatory 5-year old age limit. He was not happy about not being able to jump. He even tried to get all cute with the person manning it and it didn't work. Next time kiddo!
There was also a Laser Tag room and an Escape Room put in. My husband did the Escape Room and had a blast with it. I didn’t get to do it because I wanted to do it with him, but that would have been cheating since he already knew the answer. We were also going to do the laser tag, but we just ran out of time.
As with any cruise, there was plenty of food on board, and lots of variations of foods for my kids to reject because that’s what they do. They loved the ice cream (of course) and some of the other sweets on board, and Madison loved running around with broccoli in each hand.
David and I decided to have a date night at Izumi’s, which is always a blast and oh so good! For this, we paid for babysitting to watch Madison and dropped Sebastian off at Adventure Ocean so that we could actually relax and have time for each other.
Izumi’s is newly installed on Mariner and the decor was magnificent. The entertainment was, as always with Izumi, great and we had loads of fun. I got to dress up, do my hair and make-up and actually went out looking cute, see!!!
The main dining room with the kids was good. The wait staff was very attentive and very understanding with the kids. They even came out and sang Maddie happy birthday, even though she freaked out a little over the attention being paid to her. The last dinner of the sailing, the wait staff put on a little show and everything. You can watch that on my YouTube channel.
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We got off at Coco Cay and had a great time at the beach just playing and exploring and relaxing a bit. David and I didn’t put sunblock, even though we put sunblock on the kids, and to see that we got sunburnt would be the understatement of the year! Put on your sunblock guys!!!
A Milestone for Sebastian
We also had a pretty big moment on board; Sebastian lost his first tooth! He like actually lost it though. We have no idea where it went or when exactly he lost it. He wasn’t even aware that he lost it either. We went to pick him up from Adventure Ocean and it was just gone. It could have fallen off while eating corn at lunch on Coco Cay. It could have also happened when he was trying to be mean to his sister and was chasing her through Windjammers (the buffet area), tripped and fell. It could have happened any number of ways because we didn’t even know it was loose, and apparently neither did he. He actually freaked out about the whole thing. He didn’t want the tooth fairy to visit him. He didn’t want the money the tooth fairy did leave him. He was self-conscious about how he looked with the missing tooth and wanted me to “fix it”. He was aware his teeth would fall out to make way for his adult teeth, but for some reason, he was just not having it.
All in all, we had a good time and I would do it again in a heartbeat! As with any kind of travel with kids, you have your good moments and your bad moments. You have moments you will treasure for the rest of your life and moments that you wish you could forget, but in the end, everyone gets something out of the actual trip. It’s not usually what was actually intended, but as with anything with kids, you learn to adjust to the situations as they arrive and help them through their adjustments as well. And if nobody is adjusting well, at least there is a lot of liquor onboard.
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