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Royal Caribbean gets CDC approval for Mariner of the Seas to sail

21 Aug 2021

The  U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has approved the onboard health protocols for another Royal Caribbean cruise ship to sail.

After completing a test cruise earlier this month, Royal Caribbean announced on Saturday Mariner of the Seas has received its Conditional Sailing Certificate to start cruising.

Mariner of the Seas becomes the latest ship to pass the CDC's stringent requirements in order to obtain permission to sail from the United States.

With the certificate, Mariner of the Seas will be ready to welcome paying passengers onboard for her first sailing from Port Canaveral on August 23.

For sailings on Mariner of the Seas from Port Canaveral before September 1, 2021, the cruise line strongly encourages all eligible guests age 12 and up to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19 before sailing. 

All unvaccinated guests ages 2 to 11 must undergo 2 more Covid-19 tests at the cruise terminal and prior to disembarking.

Guests under 2 years of age will not be tested.

Beginning September 1, 2021, all Royal Caribbean guests age 12 and older are required to present proof of Covid-19 vaccination with the final dose of their vaccine administered at least 14 days before sailing. This requirement will remain in effect until further notice.

All crew onboard all ships in the fleet will be fully vaccinated.

Guests who have been vaccinated will have full access to venues onboard, and will not need to wear a face mask at vaccinated-only venues. Here is a list of venues and activities available to vaccinated-only guests, as well as everyone.

Mariner of the Seas will become the 13th ship in the fleet to restart operations, which means exactly half of Royal Caribbean International's fleet is back in operation.

Other ships that have restarted sailings include: 

  • Quantum of the Seas
  • Adventure of the Seas
  • Freedom of the Seas
  • Anthem of the Seas
  • Jewel of the Seas
  • Serenade of the Seas
  • Odyssey of the Seas
  • Allure of the Seas
  • Ovation of the Seas
  • Symphony of the Seas
  • Independence of the Seas
  • Harmony of the Seas

Mariner of the Seas will offer 3- and 4-night Bahamas and Perfect Day at CocoCay sailings from Port Canaveral.

Mariner of the Seas to begin her test cruise today

11 Aug 2021

Another Royal Caribbean cruise ship is ready to return to sea to get federal approval to sail again.

Royal Caribbean's Mariner of the Seas will depart Port Canaveral on Wednesday for a short 2-night simulated voyage.

The plan is for Mariner to visit Perfect Day at CocoCay before returning back to Port Canaveral on Friday.

This is another simulated cruises required by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) as part of its phased approach to cruise ships restarting in the United States.

Royal Caribbean has been systematically getting its cruise ships back in service by staffing them up, operating a test cruise, and then once they get approval from the CDC, beginning revenue sailings.

The purpose of a test cruise is to demonstrate to the CDC that the onboard health protocols can work, and keep crew members and passengers safe.

While a recent lawsuit victory by the State of Florida made the CDC's Conditional Sail Order not required anymore, Royal Caribbean said it will continue to follow CDC cruise ship recommendations.

Something new for this particular test cruise will be the presence of volunteers who signed up to help go on a test cruise.

Since November 2020, Royal Caribbean has asked anyone interested in being a volunteer on a test cruise to sign up for the opportunity.  Mariner of the Seas is the first ship to sail with volunteers from the Volunteer of the Seas group.

The first test sailings relied on only Royal Caribbean employees, but as more ships return to service, the cruise line is relying on volunteers to step in and assist.

Test cruises on Oasis of the Seas and Liberty of the Seas are also scheduled soon, and both ships will also include volunteers.

Thus far, four other Royal Caribbean ships have successfully conducted test cruises: Freedom of the Seas, Serenade of the Seas, Odyssey of the Seas, and Allure of the Seas.

If the test sailing goes well, Mariner of the Seas could be ready for her first scheduled voyage on August 23.

What happens on a test cruise?

Test cruises are a combination of two things: health protocol demonstration and crew shakedown.

The CDC requires Royal Caribbean to test out a variety of the new health protocols onboard and simulate a few scenarios to ensure the ship and crew are prepared for any Covid-19 issues that could occur.

There is a list of activities that any cruise ship doing a test cruise must complete in order to pass the test.  The CDC gives cruise lines the option of completing these requirements over one or multiple sailings, but thus far, Royal Caribbean has opted to complete test sailings over the course of a single voyage.

Test cruises are necessary for any ship sailing in U.S. waters that will carry more than 250 passengers and crew.

Royal Caribbean also takes this opportunity to make certain the ship is ready for guests to arrive on revenue sailings, and rectify any issues that might pop up from an operations standpoint.

Why is Royal Caribbean doing test cruises?

Other cruise lines have opted to skip test cruises and require at least 95% of its passengers be fully vaccinated, but Royal Caribbean has not and that is because of the line's dedication to families.

Royal Caribbean has been adamant that it wants families to be able to cruise, including children who are not old enough to get the Covid-19 vaccine.

As a result, Royal Caribbean decided to take the extra time to do test cruises so that it could continue to welcome children onboard its ships.

Royal Caribbean International's senior vice president of Hotel Operations, Mark Tamis, called the decision "obvious" given how many kids sail with Royal Caribbean, along with the cruise line's dedication to remaining a family brand. "A good 20 to 25 percent of our guests are kids."

Live test cruise coverage


RoyalCaribbeanBlog will be onboard this Mariner of the Seas test cruise, and I'll be sharing what it's like on a test cruise right here!

There will be daily live blogs to read, as well as live broadcasts on FacebookYouTube, and Twitter.

New aerial photos of Mariner and Freedom of the Seas

09 Jun 2021

Royal Caribbean cruise ships have been coming into Florida ports regularly for the past couple of weeks, and today we have a look at two fan favorites.

Port Canaveral saw Mariner of the Seas and Freedom of the Seas both arrive this week.

Each ship is coming in to get its crew members vaccinated, which is part of Royal Caribbean's overall strategy of getting all of its crew members vaccinated in preparation for cruises to restart.

Constant Cruiser shared aerial photos he took from a helicopter with RoyalCaribbeanBlog, so that everyone could enjoy a nice look at these lovely ships.

Royal Caribbean recently announced restart plans for both ships, on top of getting approval for test cruises to begin.

Freedom of the Seas will lead the charge for Royal Caribbean when she becomes the first cruise ship to conduct test cruises and subsequently restart sailings in North America.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) gave permission for Freedom of the Seas to conduct test cruises from PortMiami on June 20-22, 2021.

Each cruise ship needs to be approved by the CDC in order to conduct test cruises.

Simulated voyages (also known as test cruises) are when cruise lines can operate ships with volunteer passengers in order to prove their new health protocols work.

After that, she is scheduled to begin sailing with passengers on July 2, 2021 from PortMiami on short Caribbean cruises to the Bahamas and Perfect Day at CocoCay.

Mariner of the Seas just received permission to start test cruises last week, and will begin her simulated voyages on August 1, 2021.

Royal Caribbean plans to start revenue cruises on Mariner of the Seas from Port Canaveral, beginning on August 23, 2021.

Just like Freedom, Mariner will offer short sailings to the Bahamas.

By the end of August, 12 Royal Caribbean ships will be cruising once again across The Bahamas, Caribbean, Alaska and Europe.

Whether you are booked or thinking of booking a summer cruise, check out our Summer 2021 Cruise Planning Guide for advice and information on what to expect on all of these new sailings.

CDC approves test cruises for Independence and Mariner of the Seas

04 Jun 2021

Two more Royal Caribbean ships are approved to begin test cruises.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) approved test cruises for Mariner of the Seas and Independence of the Seas, which makes them the fourth and fifth Royal Caribbean ships approved for test cruises.

Earlier this week, Symphony and Allure of the Seas were approved. Freedom of the Seas was the first ship to get approved.

The CDC was busy with other approvals, for ships from Celebrity Cruise Line and Carnival Cruises.

Mariner of the Seas will begin her test cruises on August 11, 2021.

Independence of the Seas will begin her test cruises on August 1, 2021.

Royal Caribbean confirmed the test cruise start dates, which coincide with Royal Caribbean's other big announcement of restart plans for this summer.

Royal Caribbean plans to start revenue cruises on Mariner of the Seas from Port Canaveral, beginning on August 23, 2021.

Likewise, Independence of the Seas is scheduled to sail from Galveston with paying passengers on August 15, 2021.

Of the ships confirmed for restart earlier today, we are still waiting on test cruise dates for Serenade, Ovation, and Odyssey of the Seas.

Each cruise ship needs to be approved by the CDC in order to conduct test cruises.

During these test cruises, Royal Caribbean will go through a variety of scenarios to prove to the CDC that the ship can conduct sailings in a safe manner. Specifically, the new protocols aimed at preventing Covid-19 from getting onboard the ship are at the heart of these dry runs.

Each ship must conduct at least one simulated cruise, and each voyage must be between 2-7 days in length with a least one overnight stay, including through embarkation, disembarkation, and post-disembarkation testing.

According to the CDC, passengers and crew must meet standards during the simulated voyage for hand hygiene, use of face masks, and social distancing for passengers and crew, as well as ship sanitation.

Royal Caribbean must modify meal service and entertainment venues to facilitate social distancing during the simulated voyage.

Royal Caribbean redeploys Mariner of the Seas between October 2021 - April 2022

16 Mar 2021

If you have a cruise on Mariner of the Seas booked between October 2021 and April 2022, your sailing has been changed.

Royal Caribbean informed travel agents on Tuesday that it has made a change to all Mariner of the Seas sailings scheduled between October 2021 and April 2022.

Mariner of the Seas will still sail from Port Canaveral, but the departure dates and itineraries have been revised with new itineraries. Essentially, she will sail from the same port - just on different days.

As a result of the change, existing bookings have been canceled.

Guests who were booked on Mariner of the Seas have four options:

You have up to  March 29th, 2021 to decide which of these options suits you.

1. Stay onboard redployed sailing

Royal Caribbean will automatically move the guest to a similar stateroom beginning on April 1, 2021.

2. Rebook another Mariner of the Seas sailing

Guests can choose to rebook to a different sailing, based on their original booked sail date.

3. Move to any other Royal Caribbean sailing

If option 1 or 2 does not work, then they move their reservation to any other Royal Caribbean sailing without incurring a change fee.

You will still be subject to any difference in pricing for your cruise fare, taxes, fees, gratuities, and other non-cruise fare items. If you were already paid in full and your cruise fare rate decreases, Royal Caribbean will provide you with a refund if there is any difference in pricing. Expect a  refund to your original form of payment 45 days after the move is complete.

Airfare changes will be reimbursed as well for non-refundable airline charges with receipts (up to $200 USD per guest for Domestic flights or up to $400 USD per guest for International flights). Please email airline receipts and booking information to [email protected] for review and reimbursement.

4. Refund

If none of these options work, Royal Caribbean will offer a full refund of any paid portion of your cruise fare to the original form(s) of payment, including any non-refundable deposit.

Expect a refund 45 days after you submit the refund request.

If you used a Future Cruise Credit on this sailing, and request a refund instead, Royal Caribbean will refund any NEW funds paid above the certificate amount, and reinstate the original certificate.

Royal Caribbean will finally offer cruises to Bermuda from Florida

19 Nov 2020

If you have ever wanted to visit Bermuda on a cruise without going out of the Northeast, 2022 might be the year for you.

Royal Caribbean released its 2022 Caribbean cruises earlier this week, and included with the array of choices is a new itinerary that offers an overnight stay in Bermuda from Port Canaveral.

Mariner of the Seas will introduce sailings from Florida to Bermuda, which is something that has not been offered in any recent memory.

These 8-night cruises will include two days in Kings Wharf, before heading to Nassau for a late night stay and then a full day at Perfect Day at CocoCay.

Here is a list of the Bermuda cruises available on Mariner of the Seas:

  • May 15, 2022
  • May 28, 2022
  • June 5, 2022
  • August 21, 2022
  • September 3, 11, 2022
  • October 8, 16, 2022

Traditionally, Bermuda cruises are only offered from ports in the Northeast, such as New York or Baltimore.

These new cruises are available to book immediately, and part of Royal Caribbean's summer 2022 deployments that were just announced. The cruise line will announce its remaining Caribbean summer 2022 deployment early next year.

More summer 2022 cruises

In addition to the Bermuda sailings, Royal Caribbean highlighted a number of new cruises available to book across six ships in total.

Symphony and Harmony of the Seas will sail Eastern and Western Caribbean 7-night itineraries from Miami and Port Canaveral, respectively.

New for 2022, Symphony will double the number of Eastern Caribbean sailings and tout evening stays in Puerto Rico on select cruises throughout the summer. Harmony will visit island gems such as St. Thomas, St. Kitts & Nevis, and Falmouth, Jamaica, as well as Perfect Day at CocoCay.

Oasis of the Seas will return to Cape Liberty, New Jersey to offer 7-night cruise vacations to Florida and The Bahamas. She also has a cruise to Canada mixed in.

Explorer of the Seas will sail from Miami to offer alternating 8- and 6-night itineraries to the Western and South Caribbean.

Liberty will continue to homeport in Galveston, Texas and offer 7-night Western Caribbean itineraries to the beautiful beaches of Belize City, Belize and Cozumel, Mexico.

Category 6V Interior Stateroom on Mariner of the Seas Photo Tour

08 Feb 2020

There are often photo tours of various stateroom categories on this blog, and today we are looking one of the smallest rooms available on Mariner of the Seas. 

While there are many interior staterooms on Mariner of the Seas, this room stands out because it was one of the rooms added during the 2018 refurbishment, and it features an updated look compared to other interior rooms on the ship.

The photos of this room are from cabin 6137 on deck 6.

The room features 167 square feet of living space, for up to two guests. There is a sofa to sit on the during the day.

There are two twin beds that convert to a Royal King bed.

The vanity area has plenty of drawers and storage space. The drawers have a soft close feature that prevents them from slamming shut.

The private bathroom has additional storage space on the left, instead of behind a mirror.

Spotted: Virgin frozen drinks added to Diamond Happy Hour menu

27 Jan 2020

Guests sailing on a Royal Caribbean ship in the last couple weeks have reported non-alcoholic frozen drinks have been added to the Diamond member happy hour drink menu.

RoyalCaribbeanBlog reader John Durland first reported the change and readers Eileen & John Triplett shared a photo of the new drink menu.

Diamond Drink menu from Mariner of the Seas, January 2020

Diamond drink menu from Independence of the Seas January 2019

The updated menu adds juices and virgin frozen beverages to the menu, along with new wines added to the Wine By The Glass menu and Heineken 0.0.

Each evening, Royal Caribbean offers complimentary alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages in its Diamond lounges for Diamond, Diamond Plus and Pinnacle members. In addition, Diamond members and above receive three complimentary drink vouchers to use at bars and lounges around the ship during the same time.

15 Free Things to Do on Mariner of the Seas

28 Oct 2019

Following more than $100 million in upgrades to Mariner of the Seas, Royal Caribbean has packed a ton of activities for families to enjoy onboard this revamped cruise ship.  From dining, things to do, experiences and more, Mariner of the Seas offers plenty across fifteen decks.

Here is a look at some great things to try onboard Mariner of the Seas that are fun and totally free to enjoy.  That means a great vacation that saves you money! Hopefully, you can enjoy all 15 of these activities on your Mariner of the Seas cruise.

1. Go ice skating

Mariner of the Seas has an ice skating rink in Studio B where one of the ship's best shows is performed during your cruise (more on that later), but guests can also don a pair of ice skates and hit the ice rink too!

Check the Cruise Compass for open skate sessions during your sailing.  Royal Caribbean will provide you with complimentary ice skate and safety equipment rentals.  Just be sure to pack long pants and socks.

2. Bounce on the Sky Pad

Guests can hit up the Sky pad, which is a virtual bungee trampoline experience.  After being hooked up to bungee chords, you put on a virtual reality visor and explore a virtual world while bouncing up and down on a giant trampoline!

There are three different games to try, including being transported to another time and planet to bounce over moon craters or compete in intergalactic games. The out-of-this-world experience is for guests of all ages, and also can be enjoyed without virtual reality headsets, for those who prefer to look out over the ocean as they leap toward the sky.

3. Plunge down the water slides

The Perfect Storm is a duo of racing water slides called Cyclone and Typhoon that are a very popular option for many to enjoy high-speed thrills. 

4. Watch the Crazy Quest

For the adults only, make plans to watch the Crazy Quest on your cruise.  Assuming you have a good sense of humor, the Crazy Quest is an adult scavenger hunt that involves guests going to great lengths to complete a number of physical challenges.

Having seen the Quest many times, it is safe to say no two Crazy Quest shows are the same and there is no telling exactly what you will witness.  It is wild, intense and provides some great late-night entertainment.

5. Go surfing

If you ever wanted to learn to surf, Mariner of the Seas has a Flowrider surf simulator on the back of the ship you can try. The FlowRider is a simulator that sends water a very high speed across a small area that mimics what it is like to surf on the ocean.

Guests can surf until they fall off the board, but the staff is pretty good at challenging the talented guests in an effort to improve their skills and increase the likelihood of falling off.

6. Challenge your friends to laser tag

A recent addition to Mariner of the Seas is a glow-in-the-dark laser tag experience in Studio B, where friends and family can team up to play “Battle for Planet Z.”

7. Climb to the top of the wall

A signature Royal Caribbean activity is the rock climbing wall. Located at the back of the ship, you can try climbing to the top of the wall and ringing a bell before rappelling down.

This is a great personal challenge that also has the added benefit of providing some fantastic views of the ocean from 200 feet above the ocean. Don't worry about safety, because you are harnessed in at all times.

8. Hit the mini-golf course

Families will love the updated mini-golf course at the front of the ship. Mariner Dunes on Deck 13 allows for as many rounds of complimentary golf as you like.

It is a creative course, with plenty of obstacles and even faux water hazards!

9. Eat ice cream!

Did you know there is a self-serve ice cream station at the pool deck with unlimited soft serve ice cream? Grab a cone at your leisure, because very likely you will be having quite a few of these on your cruise.

10. Check out the ice skating show

Studio B is home to one of the production shows on Mariner of the Seas, "Ice Under The Big Top" and is a must-see show.

This ice skating performance combines acrobatics, skill and finesse to bring guests an engaging show. Ice skating shows on Royal Caribbean are well-worth seeing, so be sure to arrive to Studio B at least 15-20 minutes early to grab a seat.

11. Catch a game at Playmakers

While Playmakers Sports Bar costs money to order food or drink, watching a game on one of their many television screens is totally complimentary.

Sports fans will love catching their favorite team playing on game day from the comfort of a table at Playmakers. Heck, you can play a round or two of Jenga or Connect Four in-between innings!

12. Join the party!

You will find deck parties galore on Mariner of the Seas.  From the 70's Dancing in the Street Party, to the Hush! Silent Party, to the sail away parties, there are many opportunities to dance the night away.

13. Catch a movie by the pool

What is better than seeing a recent blockbuster film? How about while swimming in a pool!

A 220-square foot movie screen is located at the pool deck, and there are movies each night to enjoy either from in a pool or hot tub, or just from one of the lounge chairs nearby.

14. Play in a game show

If you are the competitive type, or just enjoy watching others try their best, then catch one of the many games shows onboard.

  • Finish That Lyric game show: Guests listen to a bit of a popular song and then must fill in the lyrics that come next once the music stops.
  • X versus Y game show: It is the battle of the sexes type game show, which pits men versus women in an adult-oriented contest.
  • Love and Marriage game show: See which married couple knows their spouse best in a test of memory and compatibility.

15. Belly Flop Competition

Humans naturally drawn to see who is the best at anything, including who can make the biggest splash in the pool.  This popular contest is something you have to see to believe.

What is your favorite thing to do on Mariner of the Seas? Have you sailed and tried one of these? Share with us your top picks in the comments below!

Top five coolest things about Mariner of the Seas

03 Sep 2019

Ever since Royal Caribbean amplified Mariner of the Seas, it has become a very popular cruise ship with new cruisers and veteran cruises alike.  There is so much to see and do onboard, and we decided to list the five things about Mariner of the Seas that we think are just so darn cool that they deserve some recognition.

5. Bamboo Room

Lounges are not new to Royal Caribbean, but Royal Caribbean hit a homerun with the Bamboo Room lounge.  Mariner of the Seas was the first ship in the fleet to get the Bamboo Room and it offers a laid back Polynesian throwback vibe, featuring kitschy-cool craft cocktails like the Island Old Fashioned and Tiki Tea.

What makes the Bamboo Room so darn cool is the combination of decor, great menu, and fun times.  When you are looking for a spot to grab a few drinks, the Bamboo Room is a must-visit place.

4. Escape Room: The Observatorium

Often people associate certain activities with being on a cruise ship, but the Escape Room: The Observatorium game breaks all those molds.

The Observatorium is an immersive escape room game, where guests work together to solve a series of clues and riddles before time runs out so that they can "escape" the room they are in.

Royal Caribbean teamed up with a leader in the escape room experience to create a dedicated space on Mariner of the Seas where guests can try their best to find all the clues and figure out a way to beat the game before time runs out.

It is a great challenge, and a ton of fun in the process.

3. Izumi Hibachi

One of our favorite specialty dining options on any ship is Izumi Hibachi and Sushi, which is Asian-inspired dining featuring hibachi, sushi and sashimi and more.  A hibachi meal is fun for the whole family, and offers authentic flavors, the freshest ingredients and impeccable presentation.

Chefs show off their meticulous cooking skills entertaining guests with playful tricks, all while preparing an Asian-inspired meal to perfection. Not only is the food really good, but the entire experience of preparing the meal makes for a fantastic show.

2. Sky Pad

The Sky Pad, a bungee trampoline experience, combines virtual reality with the energy of a trampoline experience. It is a compelling combo, and what it leads to is a really fun sea day activity.

While you bounce up and down on the trampoline while tethered to bungee cords, you will enter a video game virtual reality experience that takes you to moon craters or to compete in intergalactic games.

1. Perfect Storm water slides

It is hard to overlook the water slides on Mariner of the Seas, known collectively as The Perfect Storm. The pair of water slides serve up thrills every day of your sailing on Mariner of the Seas, and it is something families seemingly cannot get enough of while onboard.

 Located at the rear of the ship, Typhoon and Cyclone will intertwine as sliders race down towards a final plunge at the conclusion of the slide. It is something you will want to try again and again.

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