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This review is of the Seven Seas Mariner cruise from Nice, France to Rome (Civitavecchia) Italy, September 15 to 22, 2002. For convenience of the reader, this review is divided into topics of PRE CRUISE ACTIVITIES, SHIP DESCRIPTION, brief ITINERARY comments, descriptions of our POST CRUISE ACTIVITIES in Rome, and some brief FINAL COMMENTS; all to allow the reader to scroll to the topics of interest. PRE CRUISE ACTIVITIES Air travel for my wife and I was booked through Radisson. We had taken advantage of Radisson's sale on overseas business class seating and were glad we did. We left Oklahoma City on American Airlines mid morning on the 14th, and after the mandatory "hub stop" in Dallas, proceeded to JFK airport in New York to board a Delta flight to Nice. If you aren't familiar with JFK, it is an old "dinosaur" of an airport where little information or assistance is provided. We could find no signs or any indication of how to get to the Delta Terminal. When we asked people who worked in the airport how to get to Delta, they spoke to us in some language that had to be from outer space. Luckily, we found the Port Authority Police, and they took us to the proper terminal. With their kind help, we were able to find our gate in time, along with the many other guests on this cruise who were booked on this Delta flight. Unfortunately, our luggage, and that of many other guests, was not so lucky. It did not get on the plane to Nice, which we almost expected due our difficulties at JFK. The overnight flight to Nice was smooth and uneventful, and a great time to sleep in those nice business class seats. When we arrived in Nice about 9:00 AM we were greeted by very helpful Radisson representatives, who helped the many of us without luggage fill out the forms necessary to prompt a search. After we filled out our forms, we found out that many other Radisson guests had been routed with a plane change in Paris, where much of THEIR luggage had been detained by an impromptu baggage strike! The Radisson personnel certainly had their work cut out for them as to this luggage problem, and through their hard work were able, I believe, to get everyone's luggage to them on the ship by the next day. But while Radisson personnel were handling this higher priority problem, the matter of managing the hospitality room at the West End Hotel in Nice was necessarily "put on the back burner". As a result, when we arrived at this hospitality room, only large crumbs of what had once been breakfast remained. Not even any coffee! The food was not voluntarily replaced by the hotel staff (not an unusual event in Europe, I might add), and the Radisson personnel were engaged elsewhere in the more important task of chasing lost luggage, and weren't present to direct hotel staff. It didn't matter much to us, because we had already had breakfast on the plane. Considering the efficiency of Radisson staff in taking care of the more important luggage problem, the lack of food was a small problem at most, and I was ready for a drink anyway to take some of the edge off the worries about our lost luggage. SHIP DESCRIPTION As usual for Radisson, this ship was in perfect condition, with no signs of wear or deferred maintenance anywhere. She is actually a fairly large ship. Imagine, if you will, a ship of the size the would be set up for 1200 to 1700 guests on the "mass market" lines, but it is instead set up for only 700 guests. We were in cabin 735-in the "cheap seats". Nonetheless, the cabin was a 300 sq. ft suite with a walk in closet, separate living room and balcony. All the rooms on all the floors were the same, until you got to the large suites. It just didn't make much sense to us to pay more for exactly the same room on a higher deck. The layout of the ship was easy to navigate, and lines and crowds were nowhere to be found. There is a much discussed problem with headroom in the showers in the suites, which are in the tubs. Taller guests complain of bumping their heads on the ceiling while showering. I brought along a carpenter's tape to quantify this problem, to help prospective guests know if they are too tall for the showers or not. Within the living and sleeping areas of the suite, the ceiling is 6'11" high. In the marble bathroom, the floor is raised another 5", giving 6'6" headroom. Then, the floor of the bath tub is raised another 5", giving 6'1" of headroom in the showering area. If you are well under 6'1" as we are, there is no problem. If you are over this height this is something to consider in your ship selection. The shower head could be taken off and moved around, so I assume this is how the taller passengers manage to shower. This was our second favorite suite at sea, second only to that on the Navigator which has a separate shower stall with headroom of about 6' 6". Otherwise, there were three self service laundries onboard, each with a pair of washers and dryers, soap, an iron and ironing board. We found these most handy at the end of the cruise as we prepared for our stay in Rome. The decor of the suites is fairly warm, with considerable wood trim, arches, and draperies. The public areas are more contemporary and stark, with touches of Art Deco. As usual on Radisson ships, the Compass Rose is the main restaurant. Another restaurant called "Latitudes" offers pacific rim fare. The "Signatures" is the Cordon Bleu restaurant, and La Veranda tends toward Italian fare. Latitudes and Signatures require reservations, which should be made early in the cruise as they are quite popular. We ate only in the Compass Rose and Signatures, and though we are by no means qualified as food critics, we found the food excellent. There was one formal night with men evenly split between tuxes and dark suits, two informal nights requiring a jacket for men, but no tie, and four country club causal nights. Even though these didn't require a jacket, I noticed most men wore one over their sports shirts, without tie. My "fearless prediction" is that this is eventually become the men's dress code for all evenings, except on tropical cruises where jackets are too warm. Nightly entertainment was offered in the Constellation Theater, as well as in other lounges around the ship. We heard all was quite good, but experienced none ourselves. This was a very "port oriented" cruise, and we "old folks" needed to rest up for the next day's activities! The seas were very calm, giving us no indication how the Mariner handles rough waters. However, there was no vibration because her "Mermaid" electric engines are mounted outboard in insulated pods below the stern to drive the screws, eliminating the screw shaft that usually runs to the stern near the bottom of the hull, which is the source of most vibration on other ships. There was also no side to side "roll" indicating the stabilizers were state of the art. ITINERARY This is but a brief comment on ports, and our own activities there. NICE was only a boarding point, as we had no pre cruise stay there. It looked quite inviting, however. Because our luggage had been "detained" by an airline or airport problem mentioned above, Radisson washed any clothing we might have that needed it on a complementary basis. MONTE CARLO in the Principality of MONACO is a picturesque city state rising on the mountains from the Mediterranean. We "flushed" about $5 Euro down the slots in the grand casino, and toured the areas on our own by foot. Later, I went on the ship's tour of the Prince's car collection, which is not to be missed by any car buff. The tour operator abruptly canceled, and was promptly fired via phone by the Tour Director, who immediately arranged for cabs. In Radisson style, the tour delay was no more than five minutes. PORTOFINO is a small Italian village on a bay in the Mediterranean, that is everyone's idea of what Italy looks like at its best. We toured it on our own by foot, and will never forget it. The Italian ice cream, gelato, which is available there is outstanding. LIVORNO is a major port and industrial center of Tuscany, and therefore is not the major attraction in the area, which includes Florence and Pisa. We chose the latter, via excursion from the ship. We just had to see that leaning tower. Many of those who chose Florence reported long lines to see the major attractions there, and it was crowded enough in Pisa. SORRENTO provides fairly close access to Capri, Pompeii, and the Amalfi coast. My wife saw the latter, while I visited Pompeii. It's a toss up between historical significance and natural beauty. This area is also known for "Lemon Cella", a liquor made from the huge lemons grown there. If you try it, you'll buy some. VALLETTA, MALTA is a separate English speaking country, The architecture of the city displayed its Moorish roots. The only problem is that it is apparently the custom in Malta to close and open establishments such as government buildings, museums, and stores on whim. We toured this area independently, and found many of these sites closed, for no apparent reason. NAXOS, SICILY returned us to quaint Italian hillside architecture. We toured via cab, which is better than by bus in this area, as many streets are very narrow. A highlight was part of the area where the film "The Godfather" had been made, and a small church which was mostly carved into a rock at the top of a cliff. CIVITAVECCHIA was the final port, where we were taken by bus the 60 miles or so to Rome for our stay at the Bernini Bristol Hotel for a two night stay before our return. POST CRUISE ACTIVITIES We arrived at the Bernini Bristol Hotel in Rome, booked through Radisson, about 1:00 P.M..and had to wait until 3:00 for our room to be ready (why do hotels always do this?). We walked to the Tevi Fountain to throw in the mandatory coins. But, despite the song, don't throw in three unless you want a divorce, according to local legend! Then, good news: we were upgraded to a suite at the hotel. Most of our touring in Rome was done the next day. We and two other guests from the ship had booked a limo and driver through Bob's Limousine Service. In an 8 ½ hour tour, we saw most all of the major attractions (St. Peters, The Vatican, the Pantheon, the Coliseum, and too many others to mention). Our English-speaking driver knew just when the lines would be shortest at each attraction, and also knew of several out-of-the-way sites we enjoyed as well. The cost for this fine tour came to only about $110 per person, including well-deserved tip. We can't recommend Bob's Limousine Service highly enough. Reservations can even be made via email at bobfraz@libero.it. Early the next morning, we were met by a Radisson representative, a driver, and a Mercedes sedan for our trip to the airport for our return flight home. The representative was most helpful in arranging for luggage handling, and walked us to security. We awaited our flight in the business class lounge and saw a full rainbow out the window through the only rain we had seen on this trip. It seemed fitting after this great cruise and vacation. Radisson had booked us on Lufthansa business class with a change in Munich, a continuing flight to Chicago, and an American Airlines flight to Oklahoma City. The flight was uneventful, despite extreme security screening in Munich and a bit of a long layover in Chicago. FINAL COMMENTS While this trip involved problems of lost luggage and shore excursion difficulties, none of which were Radisson's fault, it was reassuring to see how quickly and well Radisson resolved these problems. As a result, our enjoyment of the cruise was not diminished in any way. My experience with other lines I've taken in the past frankly scares the heck out of me when I think of what the result of the lost luggage problems would have been, had we been on one of those other lines. We, along with most other seasoned travelers, believe that the true test of a cruise line's ability to provide service occurs not when nothing goes wrong, but when it does. The test is then how quickly and how well the problem is solved. Here Radisson passed with flying colors. November 2002RichHRuth@aol.com

Seven Seas Mariner

Seven Seas Mariner Cruise Review by Dolebludger

Trip Details
  • Sail Date: December 1899
  • Destination:
This review is of the Seven Seas Mariner cruise from Nice, France to Rome (Civitavecchia) Italy, September 15 to 22, 2002. For convenience of the reader, this review is divided into topics of PRE CRUISE ACTIVITIES, SHIP DESCRIPTION, brief ITINERARY comments, descriptions of our POST CRUISE ACTIVITIES in Rome, and some brief FINAL COMMENTS; all to allow the reader to scroll to the topics of interest.

PRE CRUISE ACTIVITIES Air travel for my wife and I was booked through Radisson. We had taken advantage of Radisson's sale on overseas business class seating and were glad we did. We left Oklahoma City on American Airlines mid morning on the 14th, and after the mandatory "hub stop" in Dallas, proceeded to JFK airport in New York to board a Delta flight to Nice. If you aren't familiar with JFK, it is an old "dinosaur" of an airport where little information or assistance is provided. We could find no signs or any indication of how to get to the Delta Terminal. When we asked people who worked in the airport how to get to Delta, they spoke to us in some language that had to be from outer space. Luckily, we found the Port Authority Police, and they took us to the proper terminal. With their kind help, we were able to find our gate in time, along with the many other guests on this cruise who were booked on this Delta flight. Unfortunately, our luggage, and that of many other guests, was not so lucky. It did not get on the plane to Nice, which we almost expected due our difficulties at JFK. The overnight flight to Nice was smooth and uneventful, and a great time to sleep in those nice business class seats. When we arrived in Nice about 9:00 AM we were greeted by very helpful Radisson representatives, who helped the many of us without luggage fill out the forms necessary to prompt a search. After we filled out our forms, we found out that many other Radisson guests had been routed with a plane change in Paris, where much of THEIR luggage had been detained by an impromptu baggage strike! The Radisson personnel certainly had their work cut out for them as to this luggage problem, and through their hard work were able, I believe, to get everyone's luggage to them on the ship by the next day. But while Radisson personnel were handling this higher priority problem, the matter of managing the hospitality room at the West End Hotel in Nice was necessarily "put on the back burner". As a result, when we arrived at this hospitality room, only large crumbs of what had once been breakfast remained. Not even any coffee! The food was not voluntarily replaced by the hotel staff (not an unusual event in Europe, I might add), and the Radisson personnel were engaged elsewhere in the more important task of chasing lost luggage, and weren't present to direct hotel staff. It didn't matter much to us, because we had already had breakfast on the plane. Considering the efficiency of Radisson staff in taking care of the more important luggage problem, the lack of food was a small problem at most, and I was ready for a drink anyway to take some of the edge off the worries about our lost luggage.

SHIP DESCRIPTION As usual for Radisson, this ship was in perfect condition, with no signs of wear or deferred maintenance anywhere. She is actually a fairly large ship. Imagine, if you will, a ship of the size the would be set up for 1200 to 1700 guests on the "mass market" lines, but it is instead set up for only 700 guests. We were in cabin 735-in the "cheap seats". Nonetheless, the cabin was a 300 sq. ft suite with a walk in closet, separate living room and balcony. All the rooms on all the floors were the same, until you got to the large suites. It just didn't make much sense to us to pay more for exactly the same room on a higher deck. The layout of the ship was easy to navigate, and lines and crowds were nowhere to be found. There is a much discussed problem with headroom in the showers in the suites, which are in the tubs. Taller guests complain of bumping their heads on the ceiling while showering. I brought along a carpenter's tape to quantify this problem, to help prospective guests know if they are too tall for the showers or not. Within the living and sleeping areas of the suite, the ceiling is 6'11" high. In the marble bathroom, the floor is raised another 5", giving 6'6" headroom. Then, the floor of the bath tub is raised another 5", giving 6'1" of headroom in the showering area. If you are well under 6'1" as we are, there is no problem. If you are over this height this is something to consider in your ship selection. The shower head could be taken off and moved around, so I assume this is how the taller passengers manage to shower. This was our second favorite suite at sea, second only to that on the Navigator which has a separate shower stall with headroom of about 6' 6". Otherwise, there were three self service laundries onboard, each with a pair of washers and dryers, soap, an iron and ironing board. We found these most handy at the end of the cruise as we prepared for our stay in Rome.

The decor of the suites is fairly warm, with considerable wood trim, arches, and draperies. The public areas are more contemporary and stark, with touches of Art Deco. As usual on Radisson ships, the Compass Rose is the main restaurant. Another restaurant called "Latitudes" offers pacific rim fare. The "Signatures" is the Cordon Bleu restaurant, and La Veranda tends toward Italian fare. Latitudes and Signatures require reservations, which should be made early in the cruise as they are quite popular. We ate only in the Compass Rose and Signatures, and though we are by no means qualified as food critics, we found the food excellent. There was one formal night with men evenly split between tuxes and dark suits, two informal nights requiring a jacket for men, but no tie, and four country club causal nights. Even though these didn't require a jacket, I noticed most men wore one over their sports shirts, without tie. My "fearless prediction" is that this is eventually become the men's dress code for all evenings, except on tropical cruises where jackets are too warm.

Nightly entertainment was offered in the Constellation Theater, as well as in other lounges around the ship. We heard all was quite good, but experienced none ourselves. This was a very "port oriented" cruise, and we "old folks" needed to rest up for the next day's activities!

The seas were very calm, giving us no indication how the Mariner handles rough waters. However, there was no vibration because her "Mermaid" electric engines are mounted outboard in insulated pods below the stern to drive the screws, eliminating the screw shaft that usually runs to the stern near the bottom of the hull, which is the source of most vibration on other ships. There was also no side to side "roll" indicating the stabilizers were state of the art.

ITINERARY

This is but a brief comment on ports, and our own activities there.

NICE was only a boarding point, as we had no pre cruise stay there. It looked quite inviting, however. Because our luggage had been "detained" by an airline or airport problem mentioned above, Radisson washed any clothing we might have that needed it on a complementary basis.

MONTE CARLO in the Principality of MONACO is a picturesque city state rising on the mountains from the Mediterranean. We "flushed" about $5 Euro down the slots in the grand casino, and toured the areas on our own by foot. Later, I went on the ship's tour of the Prince's car collection, which is not to be missed by any car buff. The tour operator abruptly canceled, and was promptly fired via phone by the Tour Director, who immediately arranged for cabs. In Radisson style, the tour delay was no more than five minutes.

PORTOFINO is a small Italian village on a bay in the Mediterranean, that is everyone's idea of what Italy looks like at its best. We toured it on our own by foot, and will never forget it. The Italian ice cream, gelato, which is available there is outstanding.

LIVORNO is a major port and industrial center of Tuscany, and therefore is not the major attraction in the area, which includes Florence and Pisa. We chose the latter, via excursion from the ship. We just had to see that leaning tower. Many of those who chose Florence reported long lines to see the major attractions there, and it was crowded enough in Pisa.

SORRENTO provides fairly close access to Capri, Pompeii, and the Amalfi coast. My wife saw the latter, while I visited Pompeii. It's a toss up between historical significance and natural beauty. This area is also known for "Lemon Cella", a liquor made from the huge lemons grown there. If you try it, you'll buy some.

VALLETTA, MALTA is a separate English speaking country, The architecture of the city displayed its Moorish roots. The only problem is that it is apparently the custom in Malta to close and open establishments such as government buildings, museums, and stores on whim. We toured this area independently, and found many of these sites closed, for no apparent reason.

NAXOS, SICILY returned us to quaint Italian hillside architecture. We toured via cab, which is better than by bus in this area, as many streets are very narrow. A highlight was part of the area where the film "The Godfather" had been made, and a small church which was mostly carved into a rock at the top of a cliff.

CIVITAVECCHIA was the final port, where we were taken by bus the 60 miles or so to Rome for our stay at the Bernini Bristol Hotel for a two night stay before our return.

POST CRUISE ACTIVITIES We arrived at the Bernini Bristol Hotel in Rome, booked through Radisson, about 1:00 P.M..and had to wait until 3:00 for our room to be ready (why do hotels always do this?). We walked to the Tevi Fountain to throw in the mandatory coins. But, despite the song, don't throw in three unless you want a divorce, according to local legend! Then, good news: we were upgraded to a suite at the hotel. Most of our touring in Rome was done the next day. We and two other guests from the ship had booked a limo and driver through Bob's Limousine Service. In an 8 ½ hour tour, we saw most all of the major attractions (St. Peters, The Vatican, the Pantheon, the Coliseum, and too many others to mention). Our English-speaking driver knew just when the lines would be shortest at each attraction, and also knew of several out-of-the-way sites we enjoyed as well. The cost for this fine tour came to only about $110 per person, including well-deserved tip. We can't recommend Bob's Limousine Service highly enough. Reservations can even be made via email at bobfraz@libero.it. Early the next morning, we were met by a Radisson representative, a driver, and a Mercedes sedan for our trip to the airport for our return flight home. The representative was most helpful in arranging for luggage handling, and walked us to security. We awaited our flight in the business class lounge and saw a full rainbow out the window through the only rain we had seen on this trip. It seemed fitting after this great cruise and vacation. Radisson had booked us on Lufthansa business class with a change in Munich, a continuing flight to Chicago, and an American Airlines flight to Oklahoma City. The flight was uneventful, despite extreme security screening in Munich and a bit of a long layover in Chicago.

FINAL COMMENTS While this trip involved problems of lost luggage and shore excursion difficulties, none of which were Radisson's fault, it was reassuring to see how quickly and well Radisson resolved these problems. As a result, our enjoyment of the cruise was not diminished in any way. My experience with other lines I've taken in the past frankly scares the heck out of me when I think of what the result of the lost luggage problems would have been, had we been on one of those other lines. We, along with most other seasoned travelers, believe that the true test of a cruise line's ability to provide service occurs not when nothing goes wrong, but when it does. The test is then how quickly and how well the problem is solved. Here Radisson passed with flying colors. November 2002RichHRuth@aol.com
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