A good cruise overall.
Embarkation/1st day: We arrived at the port about 12:30, were on board by 2, and in our staterooms by 3. Our luggage was already there. The buffet was a madhouse since that was the only place to get lunch. We took our food outside because there were no tables available. I think the problem was that people just kept their tables after they finished eating because there were not long lines at the buffet. Thankfully it was a pretty nice day in Galveston. Other ships have made the outside deck an extension of the buffet dining but on this ship you had to walk a ways with your food to get to an outside table - they were not visible especially with the crowds of people. It really bothered me that around every corner it seemed someone was trying to sell you something... . soft drink refill cups, drinks, fresh squeezed orange juice, reservations for the specialty dining rooms, bingo cards, t-shirts etc. That got better after the first day. Note: They do take roll at the muster drill.
Cabin: The ship was beautiful although showing some signs of wear. We had an aft corner balcony cabin that was quite roomy. There was plenty of storage and hangers in the room. Except for a suite on Celebrity, this is the best bathroom/shower I've ever had on a ship. Our cabin steward Edwin was great although it kind of got on my nerves that he asked me several times a day if he was doing an excellent job and reminded me to write that down on the end of cruise survey. He did get me ice every day which I appreciated. They do not give you robes to wear in the room. There is a hair dryer but you have to keep the button pushed constantly for it to work. There were two electric outlets in my desk/vanity area and one razor plug in the bathroom.
Dining: I think this was my 12th cruise and I have thought the quality of the food was going downhill the last couple of times but in the dining room it was quite good on this cruise. Our waitress was the best and our dinner companions were charming. We had planned to try out one of the specialty restaurants but enjoyed the dining room so much we decided not to miss a night there. We purchased a platinum wine package and sometimes it took a while to get out wine. Room service was just OK and although the food in the buffet was OK, looking for an empty table was always a real pain. It was always crowded. The best thing I had to eat here was the cooked to order pasta dishes and the cheese and bread. My kids liked the sushi. The cafe on the 5th floor was where I went for a quick snack....selection was limited to pizza, sandwiches and desserts but there wasn't a line except at the the end of a port day when the buffet was closed. The pizza tasted like frozen pizza but the bread and brie sandwiches and coconut cookies were good. The food at Johnny Rockets was great but the service was SLOW!
Entertainment was OK. My sons really enjoyed Quest, Love and Marriage and the Comedy Shows. The ice show was outstanding. Overall, the staff was very friendly.
Ship: I loved the Promenade along the 5th floor deck that opened up several decks above. It felt so open, we imagined we were on a city street somewhere. Lots of stuff happened here so the cabins overlooking this area might be cool but I'm not ready to give up my balcony. The artwork was interesting and varied. The hot tubs were not warm enough although the one in the fitness center was better.
Costa Maya - Husband & Son went on ship tour driving small boats, snorkeling and to all inclusive beach. They had a blast. Son & GF went to Mayan ruins ship tour...said their guide was hard to understand and boring. I went to Maya Chan all inclusive beach and highly recommend it. There were some nice people from the ship there.
Belize - After our snorkel tour with Coral Breezes to Shark Alley was cancelled due to a lack of participants, we went with EcoTours to Goff's Caye. This was OK but it was windy and cool. It had just started warming up when it was time to go. It seemed to take more time to tender in and go in the boat and return that actual beach time. Belize is not a normal tender. It takes about 25 minutes to get from ship to shore. I recommend taking a ships tour that leaves from the ship if possible to save time.
Cozumel - We rented a jeep and toured the island we have visited so many times. They have made many improvements to the Mayan Ruins here and our son said it was better than the ones he went to in Costa Maya. Our young adult kids enjoyed an afternoon at Paradise Beach while my husband and I wandered around the East side of the island taking photographs. We had beautiful weather.
Illness: Despite the staff squirting antibacterial wash on you ALL the time, I became ill on the last day of the cruise with an upper respiratory infection. It has lasted about 5 days. NOT my favorite souvenir! I washed my hands constantly as they recommended because of the norovirus but this was probably airborne. It was kind of a downer to listen to the captain talk about illness and washing hands every day even though we were being careful.
Disembarkation....the Nightmare! At 6:30AM we were awakened by the Captain announcing that the Port of Galveston was closed due to fog and he did not know when it would open. We had breakfast and returned to our stateroom because there were no other activities and I felt bad. When they made us leave our cabin at 12:30, there was no way to get through to the dining room, our designated waiting area. We could not go to the Windjammer either as it was jammed with people so no lunch....not even some water to sooth my cough. The walkways were completely full of people and their luggage. When it had finally cleared enough for us to make it to the dining room, they tried to send us away because those groups were leaving. We had to show our Gold Cards and then there was an attitude change and we were ushered off the ship. Our departure # was 4 (after the hundreds carrying their own luggage off the ship) and we finally got through customs at 4pm. The #'s went up to 36 but I don't think they were controlling it that well. I saw a man with a #20 tag exit with us. I thought I was never going to make it through that LONG line to customs. I recently had knee surgery but decided I could manage the escalator. Some idiot behind me thought it was a good idea to just set his suitcase on the escalator without holding it. Of course it came tumbling down and almost knocked me completely over. Luckily, my husband was able to stop it before it hit someone else.
Getting off the ship is never the highlight of a cruise but this was absolutely chaotic. I'm not sure how much of the problem was because of the fog delay. I don't see why we could not have waited in our stateroom or a less crowded place until it was time to depart. I don't think the early departure carrying your own luggage is working very well because hundreds of people were doing it....some that could barely manage their luggage. It seems like cruise lines would want to leave a more positive image as the last impression of our cruise experience.
Overall we liked this ship and had a good time on the cruise. I rarely travel on the same ship twice so I probably would not go on Mariner again although I would recommend it to a friend. I think my next cruise will be on a very small ship in Greece.