Seward to Vancouver, by Dolebludger (with
input by Ms. Dolebludger)
This is a review of our experiences on this cruise which embarked in Seward on June 19, and
disembarked in Vancouver on June 26, where we took a two day Radisson post cruise stay. All
who read the Radisson boards on [Cruise Critic] regularly know that the Navigator is perhaps the most
controversial of all Radisson ships due to some negative posts about vibration and condition of
the ship. I'll get this topic out of the way first, then discuss FOOD AND SERVICE, ITINERARY
AND ACTIVITIES, AND POST CRUISE IN VANCOUVER; all by heading to allow you, the
reader, to scroll to the topic(s) that are of interest to you. In initial summary, this will be a very
favorable review. When you pay for the cruise, we suggest you use an American Express platinum
card as this gives you $300 in room credit. Other credits are sometimes available, depending on
which agent you chose and some frequent Radisson offers when you book your cruise.(We
understand that the Radisson credits are not available on all cruises, but are on some. Check with
VIBRATION AND "RIDE" OF THE SHIP
Yes, there is some vibration - in fact two kinds; both minimal. Our spacious suite #705 had well
over 300 square feet plus balcony, and was located starboard near the bow. From the bow to
midship, I felt a vibration that reminded me of driving a sedan over tiny tar strips on a concrete
highway. Sort of a muffled "thump-thump-thump" at intervals from one to four times per second.
I felt the intensity of these vibrations rise and fall like the harmonic or sine wave vibrations we all
learned about in high school physics. Like the classic story about how a little dog who trots at
constant speed over a large suspension bridge will have the vibrations of the trot amplified by the
bridge to the eventual point of damage. Here, these vibrations were minimal, and my wife swears
she never felt them - as did many fellow guests. But I was actually looking for them, as I had read
posts about them on the Cruise Critic board. Another factor was that these occurred only in fairly
smooth water. The harmonic vibration pattern was broken when the ship would hit a wave, and
was not present at all when we hit some mildly rough seas. I have felt similar vibration on many
other ships (not Radisson), and I didn't really think much about it as it interfered in no way with
the cruise experience.
The second type of vibration was felt near the stern. It was more rapid and felt like diesel engines
or other moving parts were transmitting vibration to the structure. This was most noticeable in the
show lounge and Galileo lounge, and was much more subdued in the cabin areas which were
nearer the stern. I have felt this mechanical vibration on ALL cruise ships we've sailed, so it's
nothing particular to the Navigator.
We had the good fortune to be invited to dinner with the Chief Engineer (a dead ringer for a
young Dustin Hoffman!) who was well aware that there had been previous complaints about
vibration, and said that work was constantly ongoing to eliminate them completely. As the
Navigator's hull was the extremely thick and rigid hull initially scheduled for a Soviet spy ship
(before the Soviet Union "went out of business"), and as rigid matter tends to conduct vibration
more than more flexible matter, total elimination may not be possible. But, as I said, her vibration
isn't any different from that I've noticed on many other ships.
Now vibration is not the only factor effecting ride quality of a ship, and the same massive hull that
makes vibration harder to control carries benefits with it, which I feel outweigh any vibration
issue. The very positive information is that she has a low center of gravity, so there is no yaw
(side to side tilting) minimal pitch (bow to stern rocking in reaction to waves), no roll or
"wallowing", and no darting of the bow from side to side as waves are encountered. So, ALL
factors considered, a very good ride in my opinion, and an excellent ride in the opinions of my
wife and several other guests.
CONDITION OF THE SHIP
Perfect. No "deferred maintenance". Looked as new inside and out. Interior decor was a detailed
contemporary with art deco influences. The art hanging about the ship was more neo classical. It
was for sale, but no tacky art auctions or price tags on them. Sale was done by silent auction or
by private dealings with the Art Director. The cabins were all suite, over 300 square feet, and
most included a balcony. The bathrooms were large, all marble, with separate tub and shower
stall. A true walk in closet was provided. Also included was a living room, much wood trim
including crown moldings, cabinets, and Radisson's famous complementary stocked mini bar.
There were no odors as on many ships, indicating that the Radisson Company really stresses the
overall feel as well as condition of their ships. We did not utilize the hot tub on the pool deck, but
we did notice that several guests seemed to be enjoying themselves there. The glass elevators
were a nice touch, giving the more sparkling feel of the megaliners, yet in a more intimate
manner. We did not utilize the laundry either, but those who did told us there was ample soap
and supplies, and the room was kept clean. Incidentally, there were several families traveling with
school age children who were all extremely well behaved. I don't know if this was a result of
parental influence or the activities Radisson provided for them. Perhaps a bit of both.
Considering our last cruise was on Radisson's Paul Gauguin, she had hard act to follow. But she
followed it very well indeed. One dinner in the Portofino Italian restaurant made me realize that I
would have to seek lighter fare if I were to remain able to exit the ship through other than the
cargo door! I certainly found it in the Compass Rose main restaurant. There was a variety of
options, suited to any palate. You could even chose the lean menu, but alas, neither of us could
resist the temptation of the regular menu and desserts. My wife had several seafood dishes and
indicated they were excellent. Since I do not eat seafood, I choose from the other items. In each
case there was always more than one suitable option for me. The open seating for dinner from
7:00 PM to about 9:00 PM is much better than fixed seating, and there was never a line or wait
for a table. Also, we always had an option to dine with others, or dine alone. We choice to dine
with others when we had a chance, as we meet so many interesting people on the cruise. Our
breakfasts were always via room service, the food was also very tasty and quickly delivered.
Breakfast in the dining room was reported by others as excellent. Wine, beer, and mixed drinks
are included with dinner, as they are at the many cocktail parties on this cruise. For lunch, when
we ate, we tried the Portofino grill and the dining room. My wife stated that the crab meat on the
buffet in the grill was not to be missed for a seafood lover from Oklahoma. On several days, we
skipped lunch and had a lighter fare at the 4:00 PM Teatime in the Galileo lounge. They had
small sandwich and desserts, and provided a musician who played either the piano or the harp in
the lounge. A very relaxing way to visit and chat with others on the ship.
Again, outstanding. Our room stewardess Zana and her assistant Leo deserve a special mention in
this category. Once we told Zana that we liked bottled water and Diet Coke, she made sure our
refrigerator was always full of these. The wait staff was exceptional, and always prompt,
courteous and efficient. On one occasion, it seemed to be taking a bit long for our lunch orders
to be served at the Compass Rose. The Hotel Director appeared and took care of the problem,
and apologized to all guests present, although none of us at the table had expressed a complaint.
He had been called in not by a guest, but by the waiters! I feel the true test of performance is not
when no difficulties occur, but when they do. The test, then, is in how they are handled. Here, the
crew passed with flying colors. Radisson's very high number of crew compared to the number of
guests was very much in evidence here. No lines. No crowds. Just great.
ITINERARY AND ACTIVITIES
Our air was booked through Radisson. On June 18, the day before the cruise, we flew out of
Oklahoma City on American to Dallas and transferred to another American flight to Anchorage.
There, we were transferred to the Hilton for a good night's sleep and a morning breakfast. We
have noted on the other major lines, if your arrival time does not allow you to meet the ships
departure time, you are on your own to find and to pay for a hotel room, whereas Radisson
provides the room for you-one of their many nice touches that makes the trip more hassle free.
When we arrived in Anchorage it was daylight. It is so far north that it never really becomes dark
in the summer, so use of the thick drapes in the room was very necessary. About noon the next
day, we were put on a bus to Seward. In usual Radisson style, the bus was far larger than required
for the number of guests, so there was plenty of room to stretch out for the three hour ride. They
could have crammed us all in one bus, but they chose to use more buses so everyone would be
more comfortable. There is much impressive scenery on the route, only marred by the fact that
the predominant Sitka Spruce evergreen trees are dying from a disease at an alarming rate in that
area. But, no dead forests were observed south of Seward on the cruise.
Embarkation was quick and easy. After the complimentary champagne at check in, we were
shown to our suite, and our luggage was already there. We also had a chilled bottle of champagne
waiting for us in our room.
Available shore excursions were plentiful. At each port, land, sea, and air observation excursions
were usually offered, along with more rigorous activities such as fishing, kayaking, and hiking.
The second day (or first full day) was at sea, but was by no means a typical sea day. The ship
cruised the Hubbard Glacier while lecturer Terry Breen explained the science of glaciers and a
group of Native Americans (called the "First Nation" in this part of the world) explained their
heritage and way of life. Scenery was spectacular. After spending some time on the upper deck,
sipping the hot-spiced wine they offered, we retired to our room and relaxed on our balcony while
listening to the lecturer on channel 10 on the TV in the room.
Sitka was visited on the third day. This was an important city in Alaska's Russian past, and we
chose to tour the small city on our own, visit historical sites, and shop for gifts in fine shops
featuring Russian made goods. Fellow guests reported an excellent experience on the sea otter
and whale watching boat excursion. We chose to watch a movie after dinner rather than go to the
show on board. When my wife picked up the video for us, she asked the steward in the library
where she should sign for the video. He said no signing for it was necessary, as they trusted us
completely. Another nice Radisson touch.
Juneau was visited for the first part of the fourth day. Here, we went on the whale watching boat
experience and saw a fair number of whales, sea otters, bald eagles (with some eaglets), and doll
porpoises, along with magnificent scenery. We talked to several other cruisers who indicated that
they had been fishing for salmon. They brought the salmon back to the ship and the chef prepared
it for them for dinner. The second part of the day was spent on the ship cruising Tracy Arm,
where the most impressive glaciers and icebergs of the trip were encountered. We sat leisurely on
our balcony, sipping champagne and munching on cheese, fruit and crackers from room service.
The balcony was especially great for this part of the trip, (I highly suggest you purchase this
upgrade) we wrapped ourselves in blankets and felt like we could almost touch the beautiful blue
Skagway was the port of call on the fifth day. Here, we rode the White Pass narrow gauge
railway up to White Pass, which was an important route for prospectors during the gold rush.
Again, in Radisson style, cars were reserved for Radisson guests only, with plenty of vacant seats
to allow guests to switch positions for best view. The rest of the cars on which guests of other
ships in port rode were totally packed. This railway tour is also a must see if you enjoy
spectacular scenery and are interested in the history of the famous Alaskan gold rush. We also
enjoyed our tour of the very historic town of Skagway by a horse drawn carriage. A very nice
option you might consider when you are there.
Ketchikan was the port on the sixth day. Here, the good weather we had been enjoying failed us,
and the all too common Alaska summer rains set in. Once again, you could count on Radisson to
be on top of things. They had ample, large umbrellas for everyone when we left the ship.
Fortunately, our planned activities were inside for that day; we had been invited by our cruise
group (one that our agent is a member of) to a "potlatch". This consisted of a meal of reindeer
sausage, salmon and fried bread with blueberry jam and presentation by a group of local Native
Americans ("First Nation") on totem pole carving, heritage, dance and music. An extremely
Cruising the Inside Passage took up the seventh day. This was more of a true sea day than the
second day, as the scenery from Ketchican to Vancouver is not as spectacular as that further
north. But, this provided a good opportunity to pack for disembarkation the next day and to chat
with friends made on the cruise. Also a good chance to relax for us old folks!
Disembarkation unfortunately came on the morning of the eighth day, but it was handled
seamlessly, and we were quickly taken to the Four Seasons Hotel in Vancouver.MBR