When you plan a cruise, as we did, 6 months ahead of time there is a great deal of anticipation as we read and reread the brochure and garner as much information as we can about the ship, the line and the ports of call.
When we received a brochure in the mail about a transatlantic crossing on the Radisson Seven Seas Voyager; we immediately decided that, based on all we read about the ship, our previous experience on the RSSC Song of Flower and our enjoyment of a similar journey last year on the Star Princess, to book the trip.
We used RSSC air transportation from Los Angels to Nice, France. The efficiency and service we were to receive on board was well illustrated when our connecting flight from Chicago to Frankfurt was delayed for 4 hours. We contacted RSSC by cell phone, told them of our problem. Within a short time they returned our call with the information that a new connecting flight had been booked and that their agent in Nice had been notified of our late arrival.
We arrived in Nice and were met by a representative of RSSC who assisted in transferring our luggage to a waiting Mercedes SUV and driving us, via a beautiful scenic route to Monte Carlo where our ship awaited us.
Check-in was very quick and our luggage arrived in our suite very promptly. We had booked an "E" guaranteed accommodation but we had been upgraded to a Horizon suite, room 878. It was magnificent with a balcony that was about 18' x 10'. It was equipped with two chairs and a footrest, we requested two chaise lounges which arrived during the dinner hours!!
As we had been "on the road" for 25 hours we enjoyed a couple of hours rest after the muster drill and then it was time for dinner. We decided that we would try the Verandah Grill on deck 11 and were delighted with the menu, the friendly service, the beautiful buffet and the feeling of being made a very welcome guest.
We had read reports that the Horizon suites were subject to "noise and vibrations" when the ship was under way. On the overnight journey to Barcelona we did notice a slight vibration but nothing which interfered with a very restful nights rest. When the ship docked, using its guidance pods, there was some vibration but our guess is that it was felt all over the stern end of the ship. (We remember when we used to pay 25 cents at motels to have a vibrating mattress.)
Having visited Barcelona on other cruises we decided to take the ship provided shuttle bus into the city and then enjoyed the drive around on the "on/off" bus which we had used on previous visits to European cities. Many of our fellow passengers also used this method of seeing the city in the relatively short time we had there.
We elected to have dinner in the beautiful Compass Rose Restaurant and decided to ask to be seated with 4 other passengers. As on every occasion we did this we were very pleased with the "strangers" we enjoyed dinner with. We were always able to obtain a table for two any time we requested it. The majority of people we met were well traveled, successful people from varying backgrounds in the business world, the professions and the military services. The husband of one of the couples on this table had been a naval officer on a nuclear submarine. The conversation was extremely informative and it was great to share. The other couple were the ladies conducting the arts and crafts program being offered by the ship. Very talented ladies whose story of how they got involved in this fascinating way to see the world on cruise ships, was very enlightening to us. The passengers were mostly from the US and the UK with a few Asians on the first leg of the back to back cruise.
The following morning we enjoyed a room service breakfast, delivered very promptly with everything we had ordered the night before. We learnt a quick lesson on ordering: if you wanted more than one item eg. butter, you had better write it on the order!
Our next PoC was Valencia. We had opted not to take a tour as we wanted to see the city. The shuttle bus took us to the city center which we walked around and enjoyed its very Spanish ambience. Unfortunately the time we had there was very limited. We would not recommend this cruise if you want port intensive experience. If that is the case take a full Mediterranean cruise and have time to enjoy the PoC.
We enjoyed the entertainment provided by the resident ship's company, this evening was "Songs from the Opera." The young people did a very creditable job. Dinner was again in the Compass Rose where we learned another lesson; try not sitting in the center of the room, it is too noisy to really enjoy conversation. While we are on a little negative tone we must express our dismay that there is a section of the dining room which is a "smoking" section. Unfortunately the fumes from that section waft to a much larger area. Why on earth a line as wonderful as Radisson cannot emulate other lines which ban smoking from eating areas is beyond our comprehension.
We had decided to take a ship's tour in Malaga to the city of Marbella and Porto Banos. We were very impressed with the beautiful city, its old town and upscale shopping area. Its marina was home to many multi million dollar yachts, shops and restaurants. The journey along the coast in a comfortable coach was very spectacular. We returned to the ship for a nice lunch on deck. At lunch time there were several venues; the Compass Rose always had a full luncheon menu with several courses offered. We always enjoyed sitting at a window there watching the sea go by while being nicely served by the very efficient and always pleasant staff. On deck there were served barbecue lunches with a sandwich and salad buffet and everyday a couple of favors of delicious ice-cream. In the Verandah Grill a very full buffet of roasted meats, salads, deserts pleased our palates. Again as we have observed, the service was impeccable.
On the second day on board we had made a reservation for dinner at Signatures. This gourmet French restaurant with limited seating and a fine menu made us feel very welcome and the food was, IMHO, outstanding. We do not want to go into details of what we ate but we "ummed and ahhed" throughout the meal!
We also ate at the Latitudes Asian restaurant on two occasions. The menu was very different each time, it is changed weekly. The food was different than we expected with subtle flavors rather than highly flavored dishes. The presentation and venue were again superior. The Maitre d' Ruby deserves special mention for her exceptional service and attention
This evening we passed the Rock of Gibraltar. The captain stopped the ship so we could have a good view of the floodlit entrance to the Mediterranean. Being a first for us it was rather exciting to view a landmark which we had, on previous visits to the area, "passed in the night."
The cruise was advertised with a Big Band and Salute to Sinatra theme. Being of an age which is appreciative of both themes this was an added incentive for us to take this cruise. The band and the "Sinatra" look and sound alike person, did not join the ship until it arrived in Malaga. On their first night aboard they provided a rather tired performance which they apologized for. After a 24 hour journey they certainly played well enough for us but obviously were very fatigued. For the rest of the journey the fantastic music of the Nelson Riddle Orchestra under the baton of Nelson Riddle's son Christopher Riddle and Sinatra impersonator Brian Anthony really rocked the ship. On two late nights members of the band "jammed" in the Horizon Lounge, much to the delight of the passengers. Brian Anthony, a 28 year old performer who emulated the late Frank Sinatra in presentation and matching voice was sensational.
The resident comedian, a Welshman who lives in Arkansas (that is funny to begin with) Kenny Smiles who has been with RSSC for 8 years was really funny without the usual crudeness of cruise ship comedians. He had his audience in his hands from the moment he walked on stage. Not only was he funny on stage but was most pleasant and interesting in on deck encounters. His singing voice was a reminder of his Welsh heritage and his presentation in the very soft lilting accent of Wales was very refreshing. Other entertainers included a classical guitarist in the observation lounge whose repertoire was excellent for pre-dinner and relaxing moments on board. A very talented Venezuelan classical pianist, Vanessa Perez, gave two recitals during the trip. In our opinion her talents were much underutilized. She was an exceptional pianist.
There were the usual activities on board with good enrichment speakers on a variety of subjects. One passenger who had been a Royal and star photographer for many years gave an excellent power point presentation of some of his portfolio of portraits and casual shots of many Royal Families and easily recognized movie stars who he had photographed.
Our next PoC were in Morocco. Casablanca and Agadir. In Casablanca we had a complimentary tour of the city given by our TA. We were taken to a Jewish Museum in a nice residential neighborhood which presented the 2,000+ year history of the Jewish people in Morocco. This we found very interesting and informative. We were then taken to the Great Mosque, the 2nd largest in the world. The mosque sits on the seashore and is built above the sea giving it a very dramatic appearance. We could have been escorted on a tour but declined because it meant walking barefoot for a long distance. We were happy to re-board the Voyager for lunch after seeing what was really just another big city with lots of traffic and with a culture not of our understanding.
Agadir proved to be a city of contrasts. We took a ship's tour which took us to one or two tourist traps, an apothecary store and the usual local handicraft gift store, a scenic ride oa see the city from above with camel rides and more vendors. We later were taken to a tourist area of modern hotels, condos, stores and topless beaches! Again we were happy to get back to the ship.
The last two days of the first part of the cruise took us to Lanzarrote, a volcanic island in the Canaries. The tour we took of the northern part of the island took us through moon like landscapes dotted with beautifully kept villages and homes all painted in a brilliant white with green or blue doors. A visit to a volcanic plume, a cave with clear water and fantastic reflections, followed by a visit to a cactus garden, the chance meeting with a couple from my hometown in England, which I had left 56 years ago, and who were acquainted with our family who still live there, added another dimension to our enjoyment of the cruise.
The following day we were in Funchal, Madeira. We had looked forward to doing some shopping fro embroidery there but as it was Sunday there were no shops open! A cable car ride took us to a viewpoint above this beautiful city. We were surprised by the beauty of Funchal which is built on high mountains surrounding the bay. The mode of transportation down the streets that made the city was by baskets mounted on skis and controlled by two obviously very fit young Portuguese young men. It was a very thrilling ride!! The visit ended with a visit to sample Madeira wines in the very European city center.
After leaving Funchal, bound for Fort Lauderdale we settled down to what was described as "a summer camp on the ocean." The weather was a little rocky and rainy the first day out but the ship handled the seas very well and we enjoyed the crossing in otherwise warm and gentle weather with lots of whatever you wanted to do aboard at your finger tips. The food remained constantly excellent as we dined our way across the Atlantic and as is obvious from this rather rater long account, we had a "ball."
We have always said that at the end of a cruise the cruise line is happy to say goodbye and drop you at some dock or other. Not RSSC. They had representatives on the dock at Fort Lauderdale, buses to transport us to the airport accompanied by company reps, they even took care of the luggage at the airport and tipped the porters!!!
Overall, a most enjoyable, exciting and memorable experience; we cannot wait to join another Radisson Seven Seas Cruise again.