A primary area of focus for Seven Seas Mariner is shore excursions, which are included in the initial cruise fares. Passengers can (and should) book excursions ahead of time online, through their travel agents or by contacting Regent Seven Seas directly. On our 10-day Alaskan sailing, which crew onboard called "short," many of the most-desirable excursions were sold out at least two months in advance. Once onboard, we were able to get on waiting lists for several and ultimately got our picks.
Regent has done a solid job of developing a wide variety of excursions designed for passengers with different interests and physical abilities. If you're looking for a more laid-back bus tour, that's usually an option. Likewise, if you really want to push yourself physically, you'll find choices to suit.
Most excursions take you to the heart of cities or historic centers. Options might include a walking tour or a wine tasting with minimal activity. These included excursions last anywhere from four to eight hours and are led by locals who speak English well. Passengers looking for a little something more can book for-fee excursions. These differ in that they're generally longer in duration, more private and include meals. We compared the cost of these excursions in Alaska to booking privately and found Seven Seas Mariner generally offered the better price, which is a nice incentive to book through the cruise line.
Mariner passengers with mobility issues can easily determine which excursions work best for them, as the descriptions printed online and also in the paper version available in your cabin are accurate regarding the required level of activity. (Take the activity level seriously; words like "advanced" really do mean you'll be working hard.)
The destinations team can provide you with a wealth of information if you just want to get off the ship and go on your own -- you can pick up maps, learn about hikes and even get names of great restaurants to check out ashore. There's also a dedicated concierge who can help you book private tours.
Most passengers take advantage of the ship's shore excursions offerings, sometimes booking two a day, which is possible in ports where you arrive early and leave later in the evening.
Daytime and Evening Entertainment
On sea days, Mariner has a number of onboard offerings to keep passengers busy and entertained; there are fewer options on days where the ship is in port, though you'll still find plenty to do. Most activities are participatory, with options like a photo scavenger hunt, bridge, cornhole or table tennis tournaments, needlepoint sessions or bingo. Winetasting and cocktail-making sessions also take place during the day.
The biggest turnout is for the daily trivia session, held every day at 4:30 p.m. It's pretty competitive, and passengers quickly form teams, which they stick with for the duration of the cruise. Passengers earn points (laminated cards) for winning or in some cases just participating in activities, and at the end of the cruise, they can exchange their points for prizes, like T-shirts, golf balls and hats. (There's a serious line for claiming prizes, so arrive early if you have your heart set on that sweatshirt you've been eyeing.)
Mariner has a small casino that regularly hosts blackjack and Texas Hold'em tournaments. The casino is open when the ship isn't in port, and we spotted some pretty high rollers playing poker, slots, blackjack and craps.
Once a cruise, Mariner hosts a "block party," where passengers are encouraged to hang out in the hallways, drinking bubbly (supplied by crew members on every deck) and meet their neighbors. The ship's captain and cruise director make their way across each deck to say hello. It's a fun tradition Regent Seven Sea loyalists love.
The ship's main show theater is the Constellation Theater, located on Decks 5 and 6. Sight lines are solid no matter where you sit. It offers production shows of the singing and dancing variety. Productions feature elaborate sets and costumes, as well as songs most people can sing along to (though most audiences don't). We liked the ship's attempt to bring in more modern music with its country-western show, though tried-and-true cruise standards made up the bulk of the entertainment (think Burt Bacharach and Broadway classics).
The theater also hosts guest entertainers, such as magicians, pianists, ventriloquists, impersonators and tribute bands. Most shows take place at 9:30 p.m. and last 45 minutes, so passengers can go to bed early ahead of early-morning excursions or hit the lounges for drinking and dancing.
Live music takes place at all of the ship's lounges, and passengers do hang out for karaoke and late-night conversation.
Enrichment on Seven Seas Mariner revolves around the destination the ship is visiting. So, if the ship is visiting Alaska, for example, the programming will focus on wildlife and nature, along with the history of the 49th state. We liked the mix of enrichment options, which blended live lectures from noted experts with documentary and theatrical movies. Additionally, as we were sailing through more scenic areas, a lecturer noted highlights and pointed out wildlife we were seeing. Our speaker was one of the better we've heard on a cruise, and we left with a broader knowledge of Alaska and Canada than we came in with.
When the focus isn't the destination, enrichment options mostly include Canyon Ranch seminars on a wide variety of topics, from foot pain to collagen induction therapy to getting rid of puffy eyes; virtually all of them are designed to get you to buy products or treatments.
Mariner staff also organized regular "coffee chats," where enthusiasts of various topics -- golf, dogs and cars, for example, could meet at the Coffee Connection to talk about their passions and share photos. It's a fun way to meet people with similar interests, and on our cruise, these sessions were well attended.
Perhaps because Mariner itineraries are port intensive -- with early morning excursions -- the ship has a more mellow nightlife. But that doesn't mean the ship is quiet. There's just a predictable rhythm to it. All of the bars and lounges onboard see action, but it varies depending on time of day. Service at each spot is fast and efficient, with cocktail waiters and waitresses dipping in to get passengers drinks. Passengers don't seem to have a favorite hangout onboard; instead, they float from one to the next depending on time of day.
Mariner Lounge (Deck 5): The Mariner Lounge, located on Deck 5 on the way to Prime 7 and Compass Rose, is the busiest spot for a pre-dinner tipple, with passengers enjoying quiet conversation while live piano music serves as a soothing backdrop. Decorated in dark wood, burnt orange and gold, the Mariner Lounge fills up around 6:30 p.m. and stays relatively busy until showtime.
Horizon Lounge (Deck 6): Located at the back of the ship, the Horizon Lounge has beautiful aft views and expansive glass. Passengers come here for pre-dinner drinks, especially if they have dinner reservations at nearby Chartreuse. The large size also makes it the ideal spot for late-night entertainment after the show in the main theater is finished. You might catch the Regent Signature Orchestra playing the sounds of the Rat Pack or see them playing the dance hits of the '50s to the '80s. Each day, the Horizon Lounge hosts an afternoon tea, and it's the place to go for bingo.
Connoisseur Club (Deck 6): The ship's cigar bar, the Connoisseur Club is a glassed-in space just off the Horizon Lounge. Cigarette and cigar smoking are permitted here.
Stars Lounge (Deck 6): Stars Lounge is the ship's dance club, and it hosts a late-night Jukester Jukebox disco, where passengers can pick their favorite music from 7,000 songs using a digital wall display. It's also the place where karaoke magic happens. Karaoke draws a good crowd, especially deep into a cruise as passengers get to know one another. Action here doesn't get started until late in the evening, after the show.
Coffee Connection (Deck 6): Open from morning until evening, the Coffee Connection serves coffee, espresso or cappuccino, all by illy, as well as spiked versions of hot drinks. There's a well-equipped self-service area for those who want to make their own coffee or tea. The bar itself has a few stools around it, but most passengers elect to sit at nearby tables or even head to the library to sip and read.
Observation Lounge (Deck 12): Floor-to-ceiling windows and unobstructed views make the Observation Lounge the place to be during the day. When wilderness talks are ongoing, passengers can avoid the elements and still catch the scenery -- and hear the lecture -- by staying in the Observation Lounge.
Passengers flock here for trivia each afternoon, and many of them stay put until 6 p.m., when the dress code changes and people begin to get ready for dinner. In between, a pianist entertains, providing ambient sound while passengers talk about their days in port.
The only pool on the ship is located on Deck 11, and it's flanked by two showers and three small hot tubs, each with a maximum bathing load of three (though five people easily fit). The pool itself is rarely crowded; most passengers seem content to sit in the padded loungers or sunbeds. Loungers in the shade can be difficult to come by at midday, but otherwise, ample seating is available. There's a small smoking area on the starboard side of the pool deck.
Seven Seas Mariner offers a few other sports options, all on Deck 12, including a paddle tennis court, a putting green, a driving cage, and a shuffleboard court and a bocce/croquet court.
Most of the public spaces and services on Mariner are located around the atrium on Decks 5 and 6. This is where you'll find the future cruise sales space, destination services, reception and the concierge.
Passengers can read in the ample library on Deck 6 or play cards in the card room, also on Deck 6. Crew on the ship arrange games of bridge and mah-jongg among passengers. A variety of board games (think Scattergories, Trivial Pursuit and Scrabble) is available for use during the cruise; you can find them in the card room.
A lightly used computer room, called Club.com, is available for passengers who want to surf the internet or check email. It's relatively unnecessary, though, as the ship is wired for Wi-Fi, which is fairly reliable. Passengers get free, unlimited Wi-Fi included in their cruise fair, though the number of devices allowed varies by cabin category. Those looking to add more can purchase Wi-Fi at an a la carte rate of 99 cents a minute, a block of 200 minutes for $160 or unlimited use for $29.99 a day. You also can upgrade your speed to include streaming for $34.98 a day for an unlimited package. (All unlimited rates must be purchased for the entire cruise.)
Shopping is available on Deck 7, where cruisers can buy high-end jewelry and handbags, as well as souvenirs.
Small self-service launderettes are located on Decks 8, 9 and 10. They are open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. and include free do-it-yourself laundry via energy-efficient washers and dryers. Detergent is included, but if you want dryer sheets, you'll have to bring them from home. The launderettes also feature clothes irons and ironing boards attached to timers, which shut them off automatically to reduce fire risk.
The Canyon Ranch Spa, on Deck 7, is small, but with only 700 passengers onboard, it doesn't get crowded. Decorated with shades of cream the spa is modern yet comfortable. A reception area serves as the spot for check in, and seating is provided there for those awaiting treatments, which include massages, facials, seaweed wraps and scrubs. A basic 50-minute Swedish-style massage starts at about $175, and prices go up from there.
Treatments take place in one of six small treatment rooms, which are immediately adjacent to one another just off the waiting area. Despite the shared walls and proximity to a busy area, treatment rooms are quiet and relaxing. Massages are excellent; therapists ask great questions to find out what each passenger wants, and there's no heavy product sell at the end.
Men's and women's locker rooms each include lockers, a changing area, showers, a steam room and sauna, and a bathroom. There is no common steam or relaxation room.
The spa includes a beauty salon, which provides manicures and pedicures, hairstyling, coloring and cutting, and beard and mustache trimming.
Next door to the spa is the ship's fitness center, which comprises a weight and cardio machine area and an aerobics studio. This space was untouched by the ship's 2018 refit and, though showing some wear, can provide a decent workout. The weight and cardio machine area has treadmills, exercise bikes and ellipticals, as well as weight machines and an assortment of dumbbells (up to 50 pounds). At peak times, you'll wait for one of the bikes, easily the most popular piece of equipment in the gym.
The aerobics studio has plenty of equipment for stretching and ab work -- exercise balls, mats and foam rollers. Many of the workout classes take place in this spot. Class options include spinning, stretching, yoga, beginners Cross Fit, Pilates and weight training classes. Only spinning requires signup. This venue also hosts numerous wellness talks during the day, though passengers can simultaneously work out in the space without disrupting seminars.
The jogging track is located on Deck 12, though it's mostly used for walking. The space is wide, so joggers and walkers can comfortably coexist. Roughly eight laps make up a mile.
Personal training and fitness assessments are offered, for a fee.
Like many luxury cruise ships, Seven Seas Mariner appeals mainly to sophisticated older adults, but multigenerational family groups are not uncommon. Children are welcome on any sailing, though there are age restrictions. The ship cannot accommodate infants younger than 1 year old and won't accept reservations from women who will be more than six months pregnant by the end of their cruise. Nor does the ship offer any in-cabin babysitting.
During school holidays, child care staff are employed to run Club Mariner, a youth program designed to cater to three distinct age groups: 5 to 8, 9 to 12 and 13 to 17.
Activities -- which include dance parties, movie parties, scavenger hunts and challenges, scrapbooking, sports tournaments, and arts and crafts lessons -- generally extend from June until late August and other times when more kids are onboard. They are carefully designed to appeal to each age group while keeping youngsters entertained and captivated. (That's generally good news for the adults onboard, whether or not they have youngsters in tow.)