After 14 days onboard the SEVEN SEAS MARINER, I am having a hard time adjusting to life back on land. No, it was actually not the ship that made it special - I just love cruising on any ship, anywhere in the world. Radisson Seven Seas Cruises trots the globe with a small fleet of luxury ships. Radisson claims to be the company that offers the finest ships afloat. However, after cruises on other lines, namely Crystal Cruises, I have to disagree.
The 3-year old, all-suite, all-balcony SEVEN SEAS MARINER is undoubtedly a luxurious, beautiful floating resort. And while there were many positives to rave about, I found just as many negatives to grouse about and those, unfortunately, slanted my view of the cruise overall.
Our cruise was 2 weeks in Asia, sailing from Tokyo to Osaka & Hiroshima in Japan, and then on to Dalian, Tianjin/Beijing & Shanghai in China before ending in Hong Kong (Note: I had to list Yokohama as Embarkation Port in the above field as Tokyo was not given as an option). The ports made the cruise, as each city was beautiful and fascinating. Asia was never high on my list of places to see, but having returned now I cannot wait to go back. Overnight calls in Osaka, Tianjin/Beijing, Shanghai & Hong Kong were spectacular as we were allowed more time to learn about these cities and experience the nightlife.
Onboard ship, the first thing that struck me as being a bit odd was the indifference we experienced from the crew. For every smile we got from a staff member, there were two more in line who acted annoyed and bothered to be there working. The staff at Reception were stone-faced and many wait staff seemed to be distracted and inattentive. We spent many meals in the Compass Rose (the main dining room)waiting for water, drinks and bread, while servers chatted among themselves or disappeared altogether.
Radisson has an open-seating policy which I don't care for. You don't get the same servers and, therefore, your dining preferences are not learned and there is no relationship built between guest and server. We had to track down our favorite servers and try to be seated at their station. Many thanks go out to Jerome from Germany and Renata from Hungary who were superstars in the dining room - always had a smile, joke and menu recommendation. We tipped them handsomely despite the line's no tipping policy.
The ship itself is a stunning example of contemporary European design, following in the footsteps of older sister SEVEN SEAS NAVIGATOR which I sailed on in 2000. Despite catering to a well-heeled, reserved, 60-year old + crowd, this ship is shockingly modern. The decor is bright and airy and the suites are roomy and gorgeous. Every room is a suite, and every suite has a balcony. And truly, there is just nothing like cruising with a private veranda!
This is not a ship to sail on for excitement. In fact, this was the most uneventful environment I had ever seen. Once dinner is over, the ship quiets down for the night. Once 10:30 hits, you can hear a pin drop. I entertained myself at Club.com by checking out the Internet. I am in my 20's, and while I am well-traveled and sail with only the best cruise lines, I found myself trying to stay awake onboard due to lack of activity. Stars, the disco on Deck 6, would blast hot dance tracks all night - only problem is that the only people in there were the lonely bartenders who stood at the bar chatting all night. A younger crowd drunkenly used the room sporadically toward the end of the 2 weeks for Karaoke, but even that was tame by typical standards.
The food was a disappointment, I have to admit. While it was perfectly presented, the portions were tiny and tasteless. I usually ordered a BLT or a hamburger for most meals as those were the only substantial items. An amazing appetizer or main course would appear every now and then, but then we were stuck with the appallingly bad desserts and pastries. There are 2 alternative restaurants which were stunning and offered exotic cuisine, but these highlights were not enough to make up for the overall poor culinary quality. One of the two alternative restaurants were turned into a "Roadside Diner" for the last week of the cruise with the worst food I had ever eaten. Europeans really should not try to mimic classic American diner food. It was a cute idea, but poorly done.
Entertainment was run-of-the-mill with a big Broadway-style show every few nights, mixed with cheesy variety acts the other nights. The production shows("Thoroughly Modern Broadway", "Beyond Imagination" and a Beatles show) were well-done and high quality. However, the Beatles show was cancelled on our cruise due to production difficulties; i.e. an unprepared dance team.
Overall, I enjoyed my time onboard SEVEN SEAS MARINER. It is a gorgeous ship with amazing suites and phenomenal decor. And while there was good service here and there, and good food here and there, the quality level was spotty from day one and atypical of a line of this caliber. Radisson tries to be Crystal, but misses the mark. Asia was the highlight and I will definitely visit there on a cruise again. And despite my complaints, I WILL sail with Radisson again. With a tweak here and there, they have the potential to be as solid as they claim to be.