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Mariner of the Seas or Independence of the Seas?

In:
11 Feb 2022
By: 
Jenna DeLaurentis

Both Mariner of the Seas and Independence of the Seas sail out of Port Canaveral, so choosing which ship to sail is a decision many cruisers face.

Both ships have been recently amplified through Royal Caribbean’s Royal Amplified program. Because of this, both Mariner and Independence of the Seas feature many of Royal Caribbean’s newest and most popular activities, restaurants, and entertainment.

The two ships have more similarities than differences, although there are a few key things to make note of before you decide which ship works best for you.

Overview

Mariner of the Seas is a Voyager Class ship and, with her maiden voyage in November of 2003, is the older of the two ships. She has a length of 1,020 feet and measures 139,863 tons. The capacity of Mariner of the Seas is 4,000 passengers at double capacity.

Independence of the Seas is a Freedom Class ship whose inaugural sailing was in May of 2008. She is larger than Mariner of the Seas, with a length of 1,112 feet and measures 154,407 tons. The capacity of Independence of the Seas is 4,515 at double capacity.

Voyager and Freedom Class cruise ships have a nearly identical layout. Many of the venues are in the exact same place on Mariner of the Seas as they are on Independence of the Seas. Since Independence of the Seas is longer, though, there is more room for additional venues, pool space, and retail. 

Food & Dining

Mariner of the Seas and Independence of the Seas share many of the same dining venues, with a few key differences. Of course, both ships offer complimentary venues including the Main Dining Room and Windjammer Marketplace.

As far as specialty dining, both ships have Izumi Sushi & Hibachi, Chops Grille, and Johnny Rockets.

Mariner and Independence both have Playmakers, Sorrento’s, and Ben & Jerry’s as well, but the layouts of the venues are different on each ship.

The Playmakers on Independence of the Seas is on Deck 4 and is a significantly larger space compared to the Royal Promenade location on Mariner of the Seas.

Likewise, Sorrento’s and Ben & Jerry’s have their own standalone shops on Independence, whereas they are part of Cafe Promenade on Mariner of the Seas.

The Italian specialty restaurant onboard is different on each ship. On Mariner of the Seas you will find Jamie’s Italian whereas Independence of the Seas has Giovanni’s Table. While the restaurants each serve popular Italian dishes, Giovanni’s Table tends to have more traditional Italian dishes while Jamie’s provides a modern take at Italian cuisine.

Mariner of the Seas has a Starbucks while Independence of the Seas does not. On the other hand, Independence of the Seas has a Sugar Beach, where kids and adults of all ages can stock up on their favorite candy and sweets.

Bars & Lounges

Independence of the Seas and Mariner of the Seas share many of the same bars and lounges, including the Pool Bar, Solarium Bar, Star Lounge, and English-style pub. 

Mariner of the Seas is one of two Royal Caribbean ships to offer The Bamboo Room, a Polynesian-themed bar in the Royal Promenade serving tropical-themed drinks including the Banana Colada and the Island Old Fashioned.

The venue transports guests to an island-setting with its tiki decor, bossa nova music, and colorful uniforms worn by the crew members.

Independence of the Seas does not have The Bamboo Room in the Royal Promenade. Instead the ship has Vintages. Vintages is Royal Caribbean’s specialty wine bar which offers an elaborate selection of wine from around the world.

This venue has a more tranquil atmosphere compared to the party-themed atmosphere found at The Bamboo Room. Wine tastings and other events are common throughout the day, although they come at an extra cost.

Independence of the Seas also has a Champagne Bar on the Royal Promenade. This is a relaxed, no-frills bar with comfy seating. While called a champagne bar, other drinks are available here.

Both ships have Boleros, the Latin-themed bar on Deck 4, although the Boleros on Independence of the Seas has more seating space than the venue on Mariner of the Seas.

In addition, both ships have a Viking Crown Lounge on Deck 14, which offers stellar views of the pool deck and ocean. While they are named differently (Olive or Twist on Independence and Ellington’s on Mariner), the venue is the same.

Entertainment

Mariner of the Seas and Independence of the Seas have the same selection of entertainment venues: the Royal Theater and Studio B. The shows performed on each ship are different, though.

The ice show in Studio B on Mariner of the Seas is the circus-themed Ice Under the Big Top. While not the best show for those afraid of clowns, Ice Under the Big Top transforms the ice skating rink into a colorful, dynamic carnival.

In the Royal Theater guests can enjoy the original production of Gallery of Dreams, which tells a story of a young artist whose sketches become reality. Gallery of Dreams takes guests on an adventure in both time and space to bring history to life.

Unlike Mariner of the Seas, Independence of the Seas has a Broadway show onboard. Guests can enjoy the full-length Broadway production of Grease: The Musical in the Royal Theater.

The ice show on Independence of the Seas is Freeze Frame. In this show, figure skaters take guests on a journey through memorable world events. Through set design with historic newspaper clippings, art, cars, fashion, and music, guests will feel as if they are time traveling while in Studio B.

Both ships have alternative entertainment as well, including comedians, vocalists, and live bands.

Pool Deck & Sports Area

As a Freedom Class ship, the pool deck on Independence of the Seas is longer than that on Mariner of the Seas. The main pool area is similar on both ships, with two main pools and several jacuzzis.

Of the two ships, Independence of the Seas features more pool deck activities for children. Independence’s pool deck has Splashaway Bay, an aqua park with waterslides, water sprayers, and water dump buckets. In addition, there is a baby splash zone as well as a full-sized pool connected to Splashaway Bay.

Mariner of the Seas does not have a baby splash zone or Splashaway Bay, but still has a variety of kid-friendly activities around the ship.

Lunch options on the pool deck vary by ship, too. On Independence of the Seas you will find Fish & Ships, which serves fish and chips, fried shrimp, fried calamari, lobster rolls, battered sausage, and more. Fish & Ships has an upcharge, with items costing between $3 and $10.  

On Mariner of the Seas is the Boardwalk Doghouse. This is a complimentary venue where you can choose from a selection of hot dogs and sausages with toppings including sautéed mixed peppers, onions, and sauerkraut. 

The adults-only Solarium on both ships are similar to each other. However, the hot tubs within the Solarium on Independence of the Seas are cantilevered, so they stick out 12 feet over the ship’s side with nothing but the ocean below!

The Sports Court on the two ships are nearly identical as well. Both feature The Perfect Storm Waterslides, a Skypad, colorful step climbers, a Flowrider, basketball court, and rock climbing wall.

Onboard Activities

Onboard activities are similar on Independence of the Seas and Mariner of the Seas. Both ships feature the following:

  • Escape Room
  • Perfect Storm Waterslides
  • Skypad
  • Colorful step climbers
  • Flowrider
  • Basketball court
  • Rock climbing wall
  • Ice skating
  • Laser Tag

Itineraries

Independence of the Seas offers 3 and 4-night cruises to the Bahamas from Port Canaveral. The cruises visit Nassau and Perfect Day at CocoCay, and the 4-night cruise will have a sea day.

Mariner of the Seas has a wider range of itineraries. Here are a few itineraries you may see on the ship leaving from Port Canaveral:

  • 5-night Eastern Caribbean and Perfect Day cruise visiting Labadee and Perfect Day at CocoCay
  • 4-night Bahamas Getaway cruise visiting Grand Bahama Island and Nassau
  • 4-night Bahamas and Perfect Day cruise visiting Nassau and Perfect Day at CocoCay
  • 5-night Western Caribbean cruise visiting Cozumel and Costa Maya
  • 5-night Caribbean and Bahamas cruise visiting Nassau and Labadee
  • 4-night Western Caribbean cruise visiting Nassau, Grand Bahama Island, and Perfect Day at CocoCay

Mariner of the Seas also offers longer, 8-night sailings with itineraries visiting destinations including Bermuda, Aruba, Curacao, Bonaire, Nassau, Perfect Day at CocoCay, Puerto Rico, St. Croix, St. Kitts, and La Romana.

Which ship should I choose?

Deciding whether to pick Independence of the Seas or Mariner of the Seas comes down to a few considerations.

If you’re looking for a quick weekend getaway, Independence of the Seas has more options. With 3 and 4-night cruises on a consistent weekly schedule, there is more flexibility in when you can cruise. In addition, every cruise on Independence of the Seas visits Perfect Day at CocoCay.

If you are hoping to visit destinations other than just Nassau and Perfect Day at CocoCay, booking a cruise on Mariner of the Seas will be the better option. With a wider range of itinerary lengths and destinations, you won’t be constrained to just the same ports.

As far as the ships’ layouts are concerned, the two ships are extremely similar to each other. Many guests may not even notice that Independence is in a different class of ship compared to Mariner! The places where you may notice this, though, are at the pool with the large Splashaway Bay area or on the Royal Promenade which features a few more retail stores and venues.

Guests who love watching sports may enjoy the extra-large Playmakers venue on Independence, whereas guests who plan to sip tropical drinks all day will love The Bamboo Room on Mariner of the Seas.

Ultimately, since both Mariner of the Seas and Independence of the Seas were recently amplified, they will offer the chance to try out Royal Caribbean’s newest features and amenities. And again, the ships are more similar than different, so whichever you choose will lead to a fantastic cruise experience.