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The Seven Seas Navigator is a lovely 490-passenger, all-outside suites ship with impeccable service, wonderful cuisine and great entertainment. We recently sailed on her from Puerto Caldera, Costa Rica, through the Panama Canal to Fort ... Read More
The Seven Seas Navigator is a lovely 490-passenger, all-outside suites ship with impeccable service, wonderful cuisine and great entertainment. We recently sailed on her from Puerto Caldera, Costa Rica, through the Panama Canal to Fort Lauderdale, with stops in the Panama Canal Zone, Cartagena, Grand Cayman, Cozumel and Calica. Embarkation took all of five minutes with champagne in hand. The standard suites are very spacious (300 sq. feet plus balcony) and are beautifully decorated. There is a living room area with sofa, chair, bookshelves with TV/VCR and fridge (which is stocked with complimentary soft drinks throughout the cruise), there is an initial complementary stocking of two large size liquor bottles as well. There is an actual walk-in closet with lots of storage space, and includes a safe. The marble bathroom is spacious as well, and includes a separate full-size tub and shower. The cuisine was excellent and includes choices in the regular dining room, or alternative Italian restaurant. A choice of complimentary wines was available with dinner and flowed freely. What was a standout if one could be picked, was the incomparable service. Service levels were uniformly excellent throughout the ship and always included a smile and attention to detail. It was not unusual to have three wait staff at our dining room table for six. The only negative thing I could say is that I wish the cruise had been longer. We have been on over 30 cruises and this was the best. Read Less
I visited the Navigator as a guest in Seattle, as was very impressed by the ships physical qualities as well as the wonderful canapes offered to guests. The ship itself bears a definite likeness to the Silversea ships, as might be ... Read More
I visited the Navigator as a guest in Seattle, as was very impressed by the ships physical qualities as well as the wonderful canapes offered to guests. The ship itself bears a definite likeness to the Silversea ships, as might be expected, as she was built in the same Mariotti yards in Genoa. The ship is obviously a bit larger than the Silversea ships, and a little more dramatic in certain areas, especially the main centrum area with the glass elevators. Especially pleasant are the wide corridors which create a feeling of openness and light. The pool area is very nice and almost a larger carbon copy of the Silversea ships. A very nice touch are the teak table and chairs, which are absent on Silversea, and always lend a feeling of class and luxury. The alternate dining area, the Portofino Grill, is very nicely done, as is the main dining room. The dining room unfortunately is not 2 decks high as on the Diamond and the Gauguin, but one can't have everything. The decoration throughout the ship was very subdued and tasteful, although I found the Stars Lounge a bit severe. The showroom is beautiful, all seats seem good, and it is unique in the respect that it has no central aisle, entry is from the sides. All in all, a very pretty ship and a welcome addition, I think, to the ranks of luxury ships. I just have to wait until November to sail on her. Read Less
My husband and I together with another couple went on the 10 day cruise from Seward to Vancouver, returning 7/19. First, let me start with the positives about this experience: The ship is very pretty. Being smaller than other ships we ... Read More
My husband and I together with another couple went on the 10 day cruise from Seward to Vancouver, returning 7/19. First, let me start with the positives about this experience: The ship is very pretty. Being smaller than other ships we had been in the past, we had some concern that we were going to be "sacrificing" some things in order to go on a more upscale ship. This was not the case. The lounges, dining room and other public areas are beautiful and the "logistics" of the ship's layout works very well. The cabins are just fantastic! We are now spoiled forever after having such a spacious cabin/bathroom and walk-in closet! I don't know how I'll ever go back to Princess and the likes! The staff couldn't have been more gracious and happy to please. This comment applies to pretty much the whole ship, but certain exceptions (too many in our opinion) were noted in the wait staff of the dining rooms, especially the main dining room, Compass Rose. This brings me to the negatives, which are only these two: -quality of the food in the dining areas, especially at night in the Compass Rose rest. was disappointing. Having been previously in several Princess, Celebrity and RCI cruises, our expectations were very high for the Navigator. Sadly, in our opinion, the Navigator fell short in this comparison. - Service at the restaurants, especially at the Compass Rose was spotty and uneven. Sometimes we were assigned waiters that seemed to know their jobs. Most of the times we encountered waiters that seemed to be going through the motions... No real desire to please. Maybe a good strategy would be to try to pinpoint in the first day or two of the cruise a "good table" and ask to be assigned to it, if possible. Another small flaw is the vibration problem that has been mentioned in this board before. At times is very noticeable, especially in the Portofino Restaurant and the Galileo and Vista lounge. It didn't really bother us but we heard a lot of passengers commenting about it. However, regardless of these shortcomings, the positives definitively outweigh the negatives and we would gladly consider cruising on the Navigator again in the future. Read Less
Rio de Janeiro to Ft. Lauderdale Last segment of its 2002 World Cruise In the aftermath of 9/11 much has changed, including many cruise ship itineraries. Radisson, which had planned the Inaugural World Cruise of it's 490 ... Read More
Rio de Janeiro to Ft. Lauderdale Last segment of its 2002 World Cruise In the aftermath of 9/11 much has changed, including many cruise ship itineraries. Radisson, which had planned the Inaugural World Cruise of it's 490 passenger Seven Seas Navigator, altered its itinerary to go around the Cape of Good Hope instead of through the Suez and Mediterranean. As a result, its later segments after Cape Town were "under-utilized". In March, they offered past Radisson guests some price concessions, a complementary pre-cruise tour, low-cost business class air upgrades, and perhaps most intriguing to us, an invitation to join the shake-down cruise of Radisson's new Seven Seas Voyager, scheduled to be completed in Genoa next March, 2003. My wife Pat and I were definitely interested! Since we had earlier booked the inaugural transatlantic cruise of Holland American's Prisendam (the former Royal Viking Sun) plus the following two segments in Western Europe and the Baltic (a total of 37 days), we didn't feel we could take the full trip from Cape Town, including a pre-cruise safari in South Africa. Instead, we opted for the shorter 14-day Rio to Ft. Lauderdale segment, preceded by the tour to Iguaçu Falls. According to Brazilian sources, Iguaçu is the world's largest waterfalls. Although challenging to get to and see, the Falls are truly magnificent! Iguaçu is much larger than Niagara, and is said to be taller than Angel Falls in Venezuela. The falls are inland on the Argentina/Brazil border. After a bit of a run-around concerning our flight arrangements (resolved by a cooperative Radisson air rep and our very competent agent) we arrived at the Tampa airport early, only to discover the Delta flight scheduled to take us to Atlanta to connect with the flight to Rio was late. Initially the Delta agent (supervisor?) was adamant there was no problem, until the earlier flight to Atlanta, leaving from the gate next to us, had closed up. Then she listened, looked at our tickets, and realized the problem. Eventually, after a big hassle, we were re-routed on an American Airlines flight from Miami, but had to reclaim our bags in Tampa, go through security again, and have bags hand-searched, luckily by a nice, helpful American Airlines porter/security guard(?). And, with no two seats together; we were assigned seats on either side of someone sitting in the middle seat of a 2-3-2 business class row on a Boeing 777. This turned out to be a ploy to get the whole row to himself; when faced with reality, he moved to an aisle seat, so my wife and I were able to sit together, even if not in the most desirable place. Generally, we avoid domestic airlines for international flights when possible, but I must admit that the American Airlines "extra room" tactic certainly gave us room to stretch out. And their service was pretty good, too. Radisson had flown us business class on a Continental 777 from Newark to Rome in the fall of 2000, and we found it to be very good as well, although I believe the AA flight had more legroom. In our opinion, the Boeing 777 is superior to anything else flying commercially today. We had spoken with Radisson reps during the rearrangement of flights, and sure enough, their agent in Rio was expecting us. Things went quite smoothly, and although the security for our bags in notorious Rio seemed casual, everything arrived promptly and safely. Radisson had booked us in the LeMeridien Hotel, directly across Avenue Atlântica from Copacobana Beach. Our room for that night was available, without additional charge, upon check-in before 10 AM. We were in a ocean-front room on the 36th floor, so high the people on the beach looked like ants. So much for girl- (or boy-) watching. After a quiet, security-conscious day and night in Rio (we had an earlier bad experience there), we flew the next morning via San Paulo to the city of Foz do Iguaçu, where we were taken by bus to the Iguaçu Falls National Park. The flights, on Varig, the Brazilian airline, were delightful. Attractive, sharp, well-dressed and -groomed flight attendants. Fast, cheerful service. Quick turn-arounds in San Paulo. The stewardesses served drinks and a snack on the forty-five minute flight to San Paulo, and lunch and drinks on the one hour flight from there to Foz do Iguaçu! Remember how nice air travel used to be in the U.S.? How special it seemed? In Brazil, it still is. Viewing Iguaçu Falls requires a lot of walking and climbing, some of it challenging. The first day, we went by bus, jeep and, after a treacherous climb on steep, un-guarded stairs, zodiac boat up the river right to the base of the falls, getting wet but not soaked. Another, more daring group went right under part of the falls, but it appeared they were prepared, having stripped to the waist or to bikini tops. After a good meal and a night in hard beds in the Spanish Colonial style hotel in the park, in the morning we crossed the Argentine border by bus, where we caught two trains and then took a long hike to the catwalks which extend out over the river 1100 meters to the very edge of the most dramatic part of Iguaçu Falls, the Devil's Throat. This is a horseshoe shaped section which appeared to be 400 or 500 yards across and perhaps half a mile in length. What a marvelous sight! On the way, we passed the "ruins" of the old catwalk, which collapsed a couple of years earlier. Ah, well. That evening we dined in Paul Bocuse's [1] restaurant atop the hotel. A good meal, high but not outrageously priced, but nothing spectacular. A view of the lights of Copacobana on a Saturday night. This time we had a ocean-front room on the 14th floor, so we could see the people on the beach. Lovely. At the concierge's suggestion, we went to the Hippy Market in Ipanema Sunday morning. Held in a park several blocks in from the famous beach, this weekly open-air market specializes in local art, crafts and jewelry, with clothing and souvenirs also available. I got Pat a huge topaz and silver necklace. We also bought a very nice modern sculpture, as well as a couple of small limited edition prints, all exceptionally inexpensive. We had a great time. If you're in Rio on Sunday, don't miss it! Back at the hotel, we just had time to collect the luggage from our room and grab a drink before catching the bus to the ship. Boarding a Radisson ship is a delightful experience, you are welcomed with a glass of Champagne, and the formalities are handled quickly, efficiently and pleasantly. The only downside here was that the passenger ship terminal in Rio is a long building. They drop you at one end, forcing you to walk quite a distance carrying your hand luggage past yet another gauntlet of hucksters and the inevitable jewelry and other duty-free shops in order to reach the greeting area and gangway. Once there, you're in Radisson's friendly, competent hands, but till then, you're on your own. Because of our other cruise plans, we had asked for the lowest cost cabin available. On Radisson's Seven Seas ships, all suites are at least 300 sq. ft., and most have balconies. In this case, we got a suite on six deck, port side, without a balcony. Instead, each morning we had seamen outside on a walkway, hosing down and cleaning up. The first morning, a passenger wandered back and forth, lost we presume, but that happened only once. We learned to close the drape before retiring. Cabins on the Seven Seas Navigator are really terrific; spacious, well-furnished and -equipped, exceptionally comfortable. The baths are perhaps the best afloat, with separate tub and shower and a spacious vanity. We don't miss the double sinks some folks favor, having consciously left them off the plans of the last two houses we've built. Everything else was there in abundance, especially large, absorbent towels and bath-sheets and even pool towels! Our cabin stewardess and her helper were just delightful, cheerful, prompt, nice. Actually, that goes for everyone on board the Navigator. We've never been on a friendlier ship. Or heard of one. The entire crew seems to go out of their way to be nice, to greet you, to get whatever you want or need. May sound exaggerated, but isn't. Try it, you'll see. Knowing passengers joining the ship may not have had lunch, they kept the informal dining room on ten deck, the Portofino, open late. Thoughtful! Lunch was delicious, a nice buffet plus carving and pasta stations, while out on deck, a grill offered hamburgers, hot dogs, etc. On most days, there were two grills outside during lunch, the second with at least four or five choices, including a grilled fish and some kind of steak. They also offered fruit, cheese and other deserts. More than enough; too much, really. That first day our waitress seemed to have a large, busy station, part of which was outside on deck, but we didn't wait overly long for anything. We soon learned to sit on the other side of the room, in Ann Marie's area. She 's a very efficient, friendly English girl who seemed to anticipate our needs after only a couple of days. Throughout the cruise, service in all of the dining rooms was excellent to outstanding. After lunch and a couple of hours unpacking into the very spacious cabin and walk-in closet, we explored the ship. Then we were invited on deck for Champagne, to watch as we sailed out of Rio de Janeiro. It was dark, but the lights were a sight themselves, and Sugar Loaf was silhouetted against them. Then, to dinner. We put ourselves in the hands of the Maitre D', Miki, asking him to put us at "a large table with interesting people". On this and every other evening that we didn't make our own arrangements, Miki put us with people we enjoyed. We sat with the Staff Captain the first formal evening, and at the Captain's table twice (the Captain wasn't there when we were -- we sat there when we were with a large group, as it was one of few tables for ten available). Whatever you want, they tried to accommodate you. One night Pat wasn't feeling up to snuff, so we ate in our suite from the dining room menu. They served us in courses, much as if we were in the Compass Rose restaurant. Classy. On Radisson ships, wine and drinks with dinner are included; no extra charge. The sommelier and his assistants knew their wine, but more important, they quickly got to know their guests. That first night, both the red and white wines served were Burgundies. I much prefer Burgundy to a Bordeaux, for example. The next night, the white was another Burgundy, but the red was Bordeaux. Having had a pleasant experience earlier on the Seven Seas Mariner, I thought I'd try again, and see what happened. I asked if any of the Burgundy they had served the previous night was available. But of course! Almost without delay, there it was. After that, wherever we sat (remember, the main Compass Rose restaurant holds almost 500 passengers when the ship is full) here comes one of the wine stewards asking if we were having the Burgundy tonight? And several knew us by name. One night early on we had dinner with two couples who were "circumnavigators" (i.e., had been on the ship for the entire World Cruise). They were very interesting, talking about the highlights (and the few low spots as well) of the trip to date. One of the men, a digital photography buff, was making an album of the entire cruise, a marvel according to the other couple. Although quite modest, he had been a very senior IBM systems engineer, and had been talked into teaching a three class digital photography and photo album course. I told him I had just bought a digital camera and was interested. One of the drawbacks of cruising on a small ship like the SS Navigator is that there are a limited number of things to do, particularly on sea days, so I welcomed this opportunity Unavoidably, I arrived late for the first class, held in the Stars Lounge outside the large Seven Seas show room. The class was over-subscribed, but we pulled up more chairs and everyone was accommodated. The class itself was very interesting. Ron, the instructor, was a good lecturer, exceptionally knowledgeable about his topic [2]. For the second class, I arrived early to find Ron with a projector, a table, and his own PC, struggling to rearrange the chairs into a classroom layout, so everyone could hear and see the screen. I helped, as did a couple of other early arrivals. The chairs were heavy and not easy to grab on to, so it was difficult to move them. When I spoke to Ron afterward, he said that after the first classes, support for his efforts was basically limited to announcing the class in the ship's daily newspaper, and providing the projector and screen. Later, I spoke with the officer who ran the computer lab, but he seemed unable to help. When pressed, he suggested I discuss it with the Cruise Director or even the Hotel Director. So I did. This resulted in only real negative in our cruise on the Seven Seas Navigator. I've been a bureaucrat myself, and have dealt with them for much of my career. I know when I'm getting the run-around or a brush-off. These guys didn't even try to hide it. For the only time on board the Navigator, I met with indifference and a defensive, negative attitude. The hotel director explained plans and implied he would get help for the room set-up, but none appeared. Unfortunately, the cruise director happened along when we were breaking the room down the second time, and I spoke with him, but all I got were excuses and BS. This was out of character for the ship and, in fact, for the Radisson line. There may have been something I didn't understand or know about going on, but it seemed to me that here was an opportunity to give passengers something useful and desirable to do on a boring sea day at little or no cost, yet they ignored it at first, and derided it when questioned head on. Certainly not typical. My wife and I had planned a cruise from (or to) Australia and New Zealand, either on the Navigator this fall or on the Mariner next winter, but our experience this trip caused us to re-think our plan. This cruise was 13 days, calling at four ports: Salvidor de Bahia and Fortaliza in Brazil, Bridgetown, Barbados, and San Juan, PR on the way to Ft. Lauderdale. That left nine sea days. We don't play bridge, and are spoiled by our 45' lap pool at home. The casino crew went out of their way to drum up interest, running classes for neophytes early on and blackjack tournaments later. We enjoyed that. The library is pretty good, and there are enough computers when the ship has 350 guests. Just upgrade memory [3] and fix the charge-back software before the next long cruise, please. There were some good speakers, particularly former Attorney General and PA Governor Dick Thornburg (although his wife cut off informal conversation after the lecture, and little or no time was provided for questions.) Prof. Michael Mendelsohn, who talked on a variety of topics, was also quite interesting. But that doesn't begin to fill up nine days! Now think about expanding that to 45 days, with 19-22 at sea. Gives you something to pause about, doesn't it. It has us, I'm afraid. A few other observations: We never missed a meal, and the food was good to excellent. Perhaps not as good as the Signatures dining room on the Mariner, maybe even not as good as the Mariner overall. But much more than adequate. We both gained weight, not a lot but some. Pat wished for more variety in the on-board shops. We met quite a few very nice people. In fact, on every Radisson ship we seem to meet nice people. As for entertainment, the Peter Grey Terhune company are attractive, talented, energetic, and they sing and dance well. We found their shows first-rate. The concert pianist was excellent, although we missed her first (best?) show, unavoidably. Larry Hagman was on board and turned out to be rather entertaining speaker, although I never did care for either Dallas or I Dream of Jeannie. All in all, for a smaller ship, we found the entertainment surprisingly good. The ports visited after Rio were less than inspired, in our opinion. We would have liked to cruise up the Amazon a way, or perhaps stop at Devil's Island. We did go ashore in each of the four ports, but took a tour only in Barbados. That was sponsored by our travel agent's Voyager Club, but we didn't think much of it. Of course, we've seen a lot of islands. "Free" tours are often worth just what you pay for them. Next year the Mariner's World Cruise is scheduled to skip Rio, going directly from Ascension Island to Fortaleza. That certainly will be exciting! (NOT!) We've compared Radisson's port selections with some of its competitor lines; in our opinion, we find them sorely lacking. Who plans these trips, anyway, the bookkeeping department? Of course, if you don't like the itinerary, you don't have to go. We won't. On this cruise, the hospitality and excellence of the ship itself, the excursion to Iguaçu, and the time in Rio made the whole thing worthwhile for us. Open single seating in the dining room is a major plus. It puts a real handicap on Crystal, which has two sittings for dinner. Seabourn and Silversea use smaller ships, and you do pay for their "all inclusive" approach. If you're not a drinker, or don't use the included amenities, you 're paying for someone who is/does. Radisson balances this well, we think: drinks with dinner and an initial setup in your room are included, as are non-alcoholic beverages. After that, you pay for what you use. Works for us. All things considered, we'll be aboard Radisson again, selectively. Actually, we did book two future cruises while on this one. The first is the inaugural cruise of the new Seven Seas Voyager, which follows the shakedown cruise we've been invited on. Not worth it to fly to Europe for one week. We also booked a Montreal to Palm Beach cruise on the Navigator for the Fall of 2003, itinerary unseen. But now that we've seen details and the ports of call, we don't think we'll pick up our option. A real disappointment! We were so looking forward to Newport or Philadelphia and Charleston or Savannah. We do like Radisson, we like it a lot, in fact, but improvements are needed in a couple of key areas. Some of the annoyances would be quite easy to fix, we feel. Like cross to Montevideo and Buenos Aires, then round Cape Horn and up the Pacific Coast to LA on the SS Mariner World Cruise next year. [1] Owner/chef of the famous Michelin 3 star restaurants in and near Lyon, France. [2] Pardon my critique here, I am a retired Computer and Information Science Professor and was considered a pretty good lecturer myself. [3] Don't skimp, put at least 384 meg in each computer, which should be doable for under $75. each. jmichael@comcast.netJune 2002 Read Less
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 ... Read More
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 your agent.) 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. FOOD 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. SERVICE 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 glacier ice. 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 interesting day. 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 Read Less
I sailed on the Navigator from April 21 to May 5, 2002 from Rio to Fort Lauderdale. Having sailed over 30 times on Crystal, Silversea, Radisson and other lines, I believe the Radisson Seven Seas Navigator is the best ship afloat. The ... Read More
I sailed on the Navigator from April 21 to May 5, 2002 from Rio to Fort Lauderdale. Having sailed over 30 times on Crystal, Silversea, Radisson and other lines, I believe the Radisson Seven Seas Navigator is the best ship afloat. The ship is magnificent, spotless and the service is wonderful. What is not matched by any other cruise line is the Navigator's minimum cabin sizes. The standard cabin measures approximately 10 feet wide by 30 feet long or about 300 square feet. (The Radisson Mariner's cabins are about 250 sq. ft., while the new Radisson Voyager will be 300. The new Crystal Serenity's cabins will be only about 225 sq. ft.) There is plenty of drawer and storage space not only in the closet but also in the bathroom. Such bathroom storage space is almost nonexistent on Crystal ships. The cabin temperature control was excellent as was the shower pressure and temperature consistency. The shower had one knob for volume and the other for temperature which made a lot of sense. The bathroom has a single sink. The sound proofing was very good although some passengers reported that they could hear their noisy neighbors. There is a 19 inch TV/VCR to which you can attach your camcorder, CD player, etc. The TV remote is somewhat of a challenge: the power button is the smallest button in the middle of 36 other buttons. The room stewards were virtually invisible and very fast. They operated on the team concept - two for each room which made it faster and more efficient. The stewards even set the clock on the VCRs with each time change. Their service carts did not seem to clutter the hallways as much as on Silversea. The food was as consistently good as I have experienced on any ship. The one sitting dining when you like was a treat. I even liked the fact that they left the bread on the table so that you did not have to beg for more as on Crystal and Silversea. The wine stewards freely poured the complimentary wines at dinner. They willingly opened another bottle if you did not like the taste of the first. There is fresh orange juice available throughout the ship in the mornings unlike Crystal ships on which they provide fresh orange juice only if you specially request it. The ship has upgraded and improved its internet facilities since I was last on it in 2000. The $1.00 per minute charge is only applied when passengers are actually downloading on the computer so that being on line for a half hour may only cost two or three dollars. Silversea handles charges in this manner, while Crystal charges a flat $1.25 per minute regardless of downloads. The library is open 24 hours and is on the honor system. Silverseas has abolished photographers, art auctions, bingo, etc. Radisson has photographers but they seem to be less obtrusive than on other ships. Radisson has art sales, but they also are very low key. About half of the art displayed on the Navigator's walls is for sale which is somewhat tacky but I guess is better than tripping over the easels in the hallways of many other ships. I may be a bit prejudiced against cruise ship art auctions as we were burned on a prior Navigator art auction - we got the price "down" to three times what I found the identical piece selling for on the internet a few weeks later.) The negatives: At times there was noticeable motor vibration especially in the rear of the ship; the Mariner and the new Voyager are not supposed to have this problem. The vibration was minor and barely worth mentioning. Disembarkation was another negative. They wanted all passengers out of their cabins by 8 a.m., which, to my knowledge, is the earliest of any cruise ship. We didn't quite make 8 a.m., so at 8:10 they burst into our room without knocking, but I glared them down and they retreated. We finally took the hint and went up to one of the bar areas. The RCI Enchantment of the Seas, which holds about 2000 passengers was docked next to us and was empty by 9:40 a.m., while we were still getting off at 10:30. We did have the opportunity to shake the hands of all the corporate brass when we disembarked. Radisson promised those with late flights a "hospitality room" which turned out to be the lobby of a local Embassy Suites hotel. We were given the hotel buffet lunch and were then taken to the Ft. Lauderdale airport where we went through security without a hitch. A few notes about our cruise: We arrived at the Rio de Janeiro airport around 9:00 a.m. for the last leg of the 2002 round the world cruise. We found that Radisson had actually paid for the previous night so we could check into our rooms early. This was quite nice after a long overnight flight. Evidently the ship has a new unwritten early boarding policy which allows passengers to board at noon instead of the "official" time of 3 p.m. The emergency drill was done professionally and without unnecessary delays. This is in contrast to Silversea in which they required passengers sit through advertising for the ship's revenue centers. Certain travel agencies belong to groups that offer free shore excursions. The agency we happened to pick belonged to API or Virtuoso group which has the Voyager Club. I have found the Voyager Club tours to have very good meals, but in my experience the transportation is often barely adequate. On Barbados, for example, we were put on a small bus with extremely limited leg room. It was so crowded that people had to sit on the pull down seats in the aisle of the bus. We were finally rewarded with a great lunch in the elegant Sandy Lane Country Club's restaurant. The tour deadlines were just a half day before the tour, not two days as are most other ships. As all tips are included in the price of the Radisson cruise, there are no extra tips requested for the alternative dining as are required on Crystal. In summary, until the new Seven Seas Voyager is launched, this is the finest cruise ship afloat.donmckenzie@yahoo.comJuly 2002 Read Less
Oh what a fantastic experience it was!! I suppose it might help if you all knew something about me, just to see what I base my opinions upon. I'm in my mid 30's, this is my 7th cruise (first on RSSC), I'm married (almost 8 ... Read More
Oh what a fantastic experience it was!! I suppose it might help if you all knew something about me, just to see what I base my opinions upon. I'm in my mid 30's, this is my 7th cruise (first on RSSC), I'm married (almost 8 years), the proud mom of a 2 3/4 year old girl and a practicing pathologist. My husband is a stay-at-home-dad ("retired" as he prefers to say it; although he works harder than I do), formerly an engineer. We've cruised the Caribbean, eastern and western Mediterranean, and Alaska. We've been on Holland America, Princess (twice), Crystal, Celebrity and Windstar. My two favorite things (other than my husband and daughter) are food (both cooking and eating!!) and cruising (other travel is close behind). If I'm leaving anything out of my review, please ask me questions. I do have more to come, but don't want to leave anything out of interest to all of you who were so kind to give me very helpful information on Cruise Critic's message boards. We arrived in Ft. Lauderdale just before noon on 3/22/01 and were promptly met at the gate by a RSSC representative. After getting our luggage, we were transferred by bus for the 5 minute trip to the pier. My first view of the ship was from the air as we landed in Ft. Lauderdale and she is beautiful. All white with clean elegant lines. Boarding took no time at all, each woman was presented with a single long stem red rose. Once on board, our suites were not quite ready so we were escorted to the Mariner lounge for a welcome beverage then given a deck plan so that we could explore the ship at our leisure. I won't go into too much detail about the ship as there is an excellent ship tour with many fine photographs available at psp.club.tip.nl. A few comments: The observation lounge is beautiful but a bit out of the way and seemed underutilized during the cruise. Unfortunately, there is no outside front deck space. Deck 12 does not wrap all the way around the front of the ship. This was a real disappointment during the transit of the canal. The atrium is spectacular with it's soaring walls and glass roof. The glass elevators are a nice touch. It can be quite entertaining to just watch the atrium from above (especially when people in the elevators don't realize that you can see them!) The wire sculpture with the flashing colored lights is simply out of place, not at all like the understated, elegant art and furnishings throughout the rest of the ship. The alfresco dining area behind La Veranda seems a bit undersized but the teak furniture is lovely. The pool area can only be described as vast. No problem ever finding a deck chair in either the sun or shade. The library is truly a library, not just a small room with a few tired old books. This library is stocked with hundreds of titles; fiction, non-fiction, travel, reference, children's, art. Many video tapes can be borrowed in addition to the movies which are shown on the in cabin TV. I didn't make much use of the computer area but many passengers did and seemed very happy with it. There are a few funny things about traffic flow through the ship. The garden promenade is lovely but when it is being used for art auctions, it is awkward to pass through on the way to the rear of the ship. Also if you come down the aft elevators to deck 5 and the rear doors to the Compass Rose restaurant are closed (which they often are when the restaurant is closed) you're sort of trapped and must go up a deck where your may run into the garden promenade in use. After a delicious, beautifully presented lunch in the Compass Rose restaurant, our cabin (a standard category F) was ready at 2:30. They are simply the nicest cabins I have ever seen on a ship. Lots of cabinet space, a true walk-in closet with a dresser and safe, a very well designed vanity with three-way mirror and a beautiful marble bathroom with more than adequate storage space. The shower is very nice with an adjustable showerhead and great water pressure but may pose a problem for those who are less physically able or tall. I'm 5'10'' and my head nearly hit the ceiling. It's quite a step up to get into the shower. We enjoyed some inaugural champagne on our balcony. They're quite spacious with comfortable lounge chairs. The only minor problem is that the dividers between the balconies offer essentially no privacy. There was a cocktail party up on the pool deck at sail-away. The azipod propulsion system is so quiet and vibration free that you scarcely know that you're moving. Dinner the first evening was in Latitudes. The menu is the same each evening and consists of an appetizer sampler, a three-soup sampler, a salad and four wok-cooked entrees. The wok cooking is done in the dining room. They didn't quite have the logistics of serving the entrees down on the first night but by the end of the cruise service had much improved. The presentation and quality of the ingredients was top-notch. The service other than the entree quirk was very good. In fact, any time staff noticed that something was wrong or a complaint was made, it was handled in the quickest, friendliest manner possible. The staff seemed very proud of their new ship (and rightfully so). After dinner we returned to our cabin to sleep. The beds are fairly firm but comfortable. There is a separate duvet for each person. My husband found it a little strange that there was no top sheet on the bed, just the duvet cover. He also prefers a blanket and our stewardess brought one immediately. The cabins are attended by a European stewardess and an assistant steward. Both of ours were polite, efficient, unobtrusive and quick to respond to any request. The TV did not seem to be working the first evening so we simply drifted off to sleep. The second day was at sea. We received notice in the daily newsletter that the self-service laundries were not yet operable so everyone was given a $50 shipboard credit as a goodwill gesture. Quite generous and typical of the response of the staff to the mostly minor problems which arose and were to be expected on a ship so new. I participated in the Le Cordon Bleu cooking school. The first class meeting was at 10:00 am, there were 3 two-hour sessions which met during days at sea and alternated between 10 am and 3 pm. The class sessions were run by two chefs from Le Cordon Bleu; one a chef de cuisine who was from the London school (although a Frenchman) and the other a chef de patisier (sorry about mangling the spelling!) from the Paris school. At the first class we all (16 of us) received and apron, a toque and a tea towel. Then the chef demonstrated an appetizer followed by groups of 4 of us replicating it then enjoying it! The chefs were excellent instructors and the recipes we made were unusual but also something which could be made at home. They were very patient with the many questions and extemely knowledgable. The second class was the preparation of an entree, the third was a dessert. There was also one cooking demonstration (without class participation) for all the guests on the ship. In addition to the classes, we were taken on a very thorough tour of the ship's provision areas and galleys lead by the fleet-wide executive chef, the ship executive chef, the guest chefs, and the provision officers(really fascinating) and had dinner one evening with the chefs. Finally, we had a "graduation party" where we received our "diplomas" and an excellent Le Cordon Bleu cookbook (which the chefs were kind enough to autograph). The only improvement I can really see that could be made to the experience would be to place students into groups according to their knowledge/experience level (there were two class groups). I did not attend any of the other special guest lectures as they often conflicted with the cooking classes. Perhaps those scheduling conflicts could be resolved on subsequent cruises. I did hear from other passengers that the lectures were mostly excellent. Dinner the second night was Formal Night, the only one of this 9-night cruise. It seems to me that it could easily be done away with since there was only one (or alternatively add a second). About half the men were in tuxedos, the rest in dark suits. The women were dressed elegantly, not the overdone glitz so many other formal nights seem to suffer from. (Although Kemble the pianist made up for the glitz with his sparkly jacket and shoes; would have made Liberace proud). The Captain's reception was a subdued, elegant affair. We ate in the Compass Rose. Once again, the food was of very high quality, beautifully presented and perfectly cooked. The wait service was generally very good, only occasionally uneven (as to be expected). The sommelier we had (Frank) was excellent. Very knowledgeable and approachable. The pouring wines were of high quality and changed every night (one white, one red); in addition they were different in each restaurant. How great to be able to sample so many wines over the cruise! When I expressed an interest in a certain wine, he went and laminated the label for me! One word of warning though, don't ask the non-sommelier wine servers questions, they really know nothing other than to keep your glass full (which they do very well) We didn't see many of the shows, 10:00 pm start time was a bit late for me and I'm not a huge fan of musical reviews. We did see the comedian (who was very funny) and heard that the magician was very good. The Constellation theater is a nice facility, good sight lines and comfortable chairs. One small criticism of the public areas of the ship: the public restrooms are poorly marked, both hard to find and hard to tell if you're going into the "right" one. Also the doors do not consistently open either in or out; I saw several passengers struggling with them. The lounges on the ship seemed sadly underused. They were all beautiful rooms and the service in them was very good. However, it seems due to RSSC's very generous in-room bar set up and the fact that everyone has a balcony, passengers just didn't frequent the lounges. A shame because the other passengers were very friendly interesting people and the fun of mixing and mingling was absent. I would hope RSSC would rethink their alcohol policy. As it is now, with wine included at dinner, the very generous in-room bar set-up (which we didn't finish) and the inclusion of all other beverages it seems the cruise is 99% of the way to being completely all-inclusive as Silversea is. Go the one extra step to making Mariner all-inclusive and perhaps more passengers would utilize the lounges. OK, I'm off my soap box. A few words about the other passengers: the crowd was a bit younger than I expected. There were several families and a few children ranging from 5 to 15 years old. Once again RSSC responded well to the presence of the kids and a "junior cruisers" set of activities appeared on about the 3rd day. All of the kids were very well behaved. I've already described formal night dress. On informal nights nearly all men wore jackets, some with ties, some without. The range of style for the women was a bit broader, but always understated. A few men even wore jackets on Casual night. Women wore anything from sundresses to cocktail dresses. Our first port was Cozumel (after a very brief sail-by of Playa del Carmen to drop off passengers for shore excursions). We anchored at the main pier in town. There's not a whole lot to do in San Miguel, so I thought it strange that we spent so much time there (until 1 pm the next day). We took the discover SCUBA excursion. It was well organized and fun. Dinner that night was again in the Compass Rose. The service was quite chaotic as it seemed some of the crew were enjoying their first (and well deserved) break in Cozumel. We spent the next morning up by the pool. The service by the pool was excellent. It was so nice to be able to order soft drinks, bottled water or any other non-alcoholic drink and not have to sign for it! In fact when disembarking in any port, a large table of bottled water was set up by the gangway for passengers to take ashore (a great idea in such hot climates). Other cruise lines charge for every little thing and you feel like you're getting nickled-and-dimed to death. Not on the Mariner. The prices for alcoholic beverages were very reasonable too (unlike Windstar where I found them outrageous). We had dinner the night after sailing from Cozumel at Signatures. It was the best dining experience I have ever had on a ship and one of the best I've ever had anywhere! The room is beautiful, the service nearly flawless, the menu wonderful, and the food simply outstanding (as you would hope coming from Le Cordon Bleu). There was only one very small problem; the lights in the room do not have a dimmer switch so it's pretty bright. RSSC is aware of the problem and is working to fix it. I didn't find that it detracted form the experience at all, but some passengers did. The next day we arrived in Grand Cayman. All ships tender into shore here. The crew needs a bit more practice sailing the tenders. Grand Cayman is very pretty and the best shopping seemed to be here. We took the Catamaran tour to Stingray City and I highly recommend it! The boat is beautiful, it's a great experience to sail across the bay and there is nothing in the world like getting in the water with so many rays. They seem to pet you as much as you pet them. We were able to feed and even hold these amazing creatures. Our only disappointing dining experience was in La Veranda. The food and service were just not up to the standards of the rest of the ship. The breakfast and lunch buffets were only OK, the food uninspired, sometimes not replenished quickly enough and not labeled. The outdoor Pool Grill was good but essentially the same every day. Room service was excellent. It arrived promptly, the food was hot and nicely presented. We ate breakfast and lunch either in our cabin or the main dining room as we felt these were the best. We didn't try dinner in our cabin but spoke to passengers who did and they were very pleased. We enjoyed a day at sea then arrived in Cartagena. It's a much larger city than I imagined. It's well worth taking a tour here. Once again the tours were run very efficiently, were enjoyable and I felt were a good value. Just be prepared for the street vendors who can get pretty aggressive when trying to sell you merchandise. Good bargains on local handicrafts can be found and supposedly good prices on Emeralds. Next stop...Panama Canal! We waited in the holding area outside the Gatun locks along with the Crystal Harmony until approximately 7:30 am. We transited the locks at the same time as the Harmony which really enhanced the experience. It gave perspective to the locks and the level changes. Plus it was fun to wave back and forth with passengers on that ship. It was the first time I've seen the Harmony since I sailed on her 3 years ago. It was a great ship, but this is better! Crewmembers on each ship seemed to know each other and shouted back and forth. It was like a big floating party. Three small sailboats were in the lock with us. What an amazing experience for them. It was too bad that there was essentially no front deck space, but there was plenty of rear deck space and of course, balcony space. The only drawback to being on your balcony was that the canal guides announcements could not be heard in the rooms. The TV had a few quirks, and this was one of them. Once through the Gatun locks we anchored just past them at the Gatun Yacht Club. The crew still needs more practice with the tenders! Once ashore, you can take a free shuttle back to the locks to see them up close from a different perspective, take an eco-walk, enjoy local entertainment, swim in the canal (!!), or fish in the canal. Nice local handicrafts are also available. We had a great time. It was such a wonderful addition to the canal crossing, so much better than sailing straight through. We cruised Gatun Lake in the afternoon then transited the other locks at night. Seeing them at night was interesting too, again an experience other cruise ships miss. We finally reached the Pacific at around midnight. The next day was at sea. I took advantage of the Judith Jackson Spa. I found it to be fairly equivalent to spas on other large ships. Nice but nothing special. My husband used the exercise facilities many times and was very pleased with them. Nice equipment and good hours of operation. A few more comments about the cabins: the beds seem larger than the European kings found on other ships, but not quite a full king. The Judith Jackson toiletries are wonderful. In addition to plush terry robes, the cabins have a (good) hairdryer, a shoehorn, and an umbrella. The TV is a little hard to use and reception is variable. There is a great channel which continually updates information about the ship's position, speed etc. The temperature readings always seemed off - it was usually 115 degrees outside according to the TV!! Dinner menus can be found on another channel. This last evening there was a farewell reception, similar to the welcome reception. Dinner the last night in the Compass Rose was a disaster. They were not prepared for every one to come to dinner after the reception. We waited for 25 minutes at the door before anyone even acknowledged our presence. The food was below par and the service rushed. The Compass Rose suffers from a seemingly easily fixable problem in that no Maitre d' is consistently at either the front or rear entrance although there are stands at both entrances for that purpose. As a result, passengers wander into the dining room and have a hard time getting seated efficiently. Also, the Maitre d' is a bit too pushy about suggesting that couples share tables with other couples. If I ask for a table for two, that's what I want. None of these problems are overly significant though and I'm sure RSSC will work them out. Tipping is never mentioned and did not seem expected. We saw a few people tip servers with whom they had developed a good relationship (we did as well) and it was graciously received. Disembarkation went fairly smoothly even though all the berths in Puerto Caldera were full. We just had to wait for the Windsong to move. The tour with lunch to the Poas volcano was fantastic! The Camino Real Intercontinental was a lovely hotel. I would strongly encourage people to stay at least one day in Costa Rica. Overall, this has been the nicest ship I've ever sailed on. It exceeded my expectations, especially for a maiden voyage. This ship will have no peers in a short time once a few minor things are ironed out. I'm a RSSC convert; next time it's Tahiti on the Paul Gauguin for our 10th anniversary. I hope everyone has enjoyed this review. I tried to be as objective as possible.March 2001 Read Less
This is a brand new 700-passenger ship, all balcony suites. They are awesome - big and well appointed. (But no clock other than that on the VCR, which is not visible from the bed.) The ship is very roomy, no sense of crowding, very ... Read More
This is a brand new 700-passenger ship, all balcony suites. They are awesome - big and well appointed. (But no clock other than that on the VCR, which is not visible from the bed.) The ship is very roomy, no sense of crowding, very comfortable public rooms. The library and computer areas are particularly fine. There are four dining areas with open seating, although two of them require reservations. Because of the open seating the dining rooms are somewhat restricted in what they do for entertainment - no Baked Alaska parade! Embarkation and disembarkation left something to be desired. Although we arrived at the terminal before 1pm we were not allowed to board until three, and there was no buffet setup - just a glass of champagne. At the end of the cruise we were turned out of the suites at eight, and off the ship by nine. There were thirty wheel chairs and instead of letting them (and assorted zimmers, walkers etc) dismbark first, they had to follow the color-coding scheme, which meant that they were bunched up before the gangway area. There are a number of design problems. Art, of course, is a personal taste, but that on display can only be described as undistinguished. The Atrium goes up seven or eight decks, but is rather narrow and one wall consists of the workings of the elevators, which is really ugly. It is not a place to sit and watch the world go by. There are not enough public restrooms; several of them consist of large spaces with only one stall, and the ladies complained about having to line up inside. There are no hooks to hang coats on. The food and service received much hype, but there are problems. Wait staff should not wear perfume or aftershave. In some dining rooms there appeared to be too many personnel, which meant that the attention one received varied considerably. The chef seems more concerned with eye appeal than palate appeal - some concoctions gave us to believe that he really had no idea how they were supposed to taste. The pastry chef was first class, but had lapses - chilled crepes stuffed with chocolate mousse and banana, cold potato pancakes. What do you think of a rosemary and thyme flavored sorbet? There was one dessert described as apple and pear crumble; the apple crumble was acceptable, but it was topped by a stone hard slice of pear which was obviously not meant to be edible. Some fish dishes were overcooked. The menu in the Cordon Bleu Signature restaurant did not change from night to night; altogether, we had the impression that the food all came from the same kitchen, like Disney World. I was surprised when I asked for a tomato soup (not on the menu) and was told that it was not available. Other service issues: deck chairs were put out daily only on the pool deck; the sun deck would have been a good place to sunbathe. Also, on windy days deck six would have been a great place to bundle up and lie on, in the best traditions of Atlantic cruising. It was not to be. The entertainment was acceptable, but the cruise staff did not do much for the passengers. Most of the activities centered on exercise, which given the average age of the passengers seemed a little optimistic. The lectures were good. Conclusion: as a floating hotel, particularly for the old and infirm, this is the ship. It is not a cruise ship as I understand the phrase (and I have been on over twenty ship voyages ranging from five weeks to four days.) Topmost@aol.comApril,2001 Read Less
First, I would like to thank Cruise Critic for giving Host Richard the go-ahead to arrange the CruiseCritic.com cocktail party. It was a lot of fun & we met some really great people who were our friends throughout the cruise. And ... Read More
First, I would like to thank Cruise Critic for giving Host Richard the go-ahead to arrange the CruiseCritic.com cocktail party. It was a lot of fun & we met some really great people who were our friends throughout the cruise. And thanks, Richard for doing all the work. The Mariner is a beautiful ship of understated elegance. We had a standard stateroom which was just like any of the photos you've seen. Plenty of storage & extremely comfortable. The verandah was just about my favorite place to be during the day. I think a comment had been previously made about the comforters on the beds. The king beds have two comforters so whenever I rolled over I ended up being uncovered because they weren't wide enough. They also were not long enough. Next time I will definitely ask for sheets & blanket. The walk-in closet was huge & had more than enough of the assorted hangers. The bathroom was the largest I've had on a ship--very spacious with lots of shelves. You've probably already read in some reviews that the shower ceiling is too low. This is very true. I'm 5'9" & I felt like Alice in Wonderland. My husband's head skimmed the ceiling at 6 ft. so I'm sure it was very uncomfortable for taller people. One feature the ship was lacking was a full promenade deck. This one was simply a work area for the crew & a staging area for loading the lifeboats. I hope Radisson includes a traditional wrap-around promenade deck on their next ship. Other than your verandah, the pool deck & sun decks were the only places you could be outside on the ship. Speaking of which, the pool deck is huge & there were plenty of lounges. We enjoyed eating at the Pool Grill which offered hamburgers & hot dogs & a self-serve bar of side items. On many days, there was also an outdoor buffet (in addition to the regular buffet in La Verandah) with differing food themes. The computer lab could probably use a few more computers. Many of them weren't working properly and a computer instructor was not often seen in the lab. Users were asking other users how to use the computers. Not a problem but it did add to a lot of extra conversation while some people were trying to concentrate. The price of accessing the Internet was very inexpensive because we were not charged while reading a page, only upload or download time was billed & that was 75 cents a minute, in one second increments. Can't beat that. All of the restaurants were lovely. The food was excellent. We found the menu in the Compass Rose to be varied & the food well prepared & beautifully presented. Service in the main dining room was very good but many times the waiters seemed harried. Taking care of so many tables that were at different stages of service really kept them on their toes. I posted an earlier review [on Cruise Critic's Cruise Boards] of Signatures while on the ship. BTW, there's no problem with getting a table for two in Compass Rose. Just time it either early in the dining time or mid-way when there might be turnover. The interior of the ship was beautiful & comfortable. Plenty of tables & chairs throughout to sit any time to read, people watch, or just look out the window. The windows were covered with blinds which gave a cozy atmosphere, but it was no problem to just pull them up to get a clear view out. The artwork throughout the ship is really good. Take the time to go on an art walk, this includes all the stateroom decks as well as the public areas. Service in the lounges & on the pool deck was not as good as I've had on other lines where the servers work for tips (it wasn't bad; just not as good). In one lounge that was the gathering area for the dining room, there appeared to be a shortage of waiters & it would often take quite a long time before they'd come around for a drink order. We usually had to flag them down. The service, however, was very friendly, if not prompt. In fact, all of the staff with whom we crossed paths were extremely friendly & courteous. Speaking of lounges, we usually had pre-dinner drinks & often had an after-dinner drink in one of the lounges. The price of drinks was so inexpensive that we didn't feel badly about paying for drinks even though we had a bar setup in our suite. I would love to see other lines adopt this type of drink policy. The Observation Lounge was our favorite after-dinner gathering place where Kemble entertained us with his singing & piano playing. He was a real treat so try to get up there to see him. The smoking policy on the Mariner was very ambiguous. The theater & a couple of lounges were non-smoking, but, otherwise, there was no "smoking policy" on board. I've been on other ships where they designate one side to be non-smoking, unless you're in your room or in one of the non-smoking lounges. However, there was no such designation on the Mariner. On the pool deck, all the tables had ashtrays on them so there was no one side you could go to if you wanted to avoid all smoke. We were later told that one half of the Observation Lounge was non-smoking but there were no signs nor was it ever stated in "Passages," the ship's newsletter. I think Radisson could be a little clearer on this issue. Radisson seems to offer a very refined type of cruise; but in my opinion, it may be little too refined. Bingo was so boring that we didn't go back. There was no noontime band. I don't need glitz or constant activity, but I do like there to be a festive atmosphere. Perhaps I'm in the minority since I was among one of the younger groups of passengers on this cruise (and I'm not that young). An area that needs vast improvement is their embarkation & disembarkation procedures. For a line of this caliber, it was a joke. It was the proverbial "hurry up & wait." Radisson really needs to work on this area of passenger service. Disembarkation was worse. There were just 65 of us disembarking in San Diego, but they hadn't worked out a good system for passengers to pick up their passports & turn in customs forms. It was not a smooth procedure & it took us 2 hours to get off the ship from the time they told us to report to pick up our passports until the time we walked off the ship. I think this all comes under the heading of "details" which Radisson, in my opinion, is not very good at handling. I heard similar grumblings from other passengers. I hope they start paying attention to this because enough times of things not going smoothly, whether it's before, during, or at the end of the cruise, takes away from the wonderful cruise experience they're trying to offer. All in all, it was a fabulous cruise of greats: food, accommodations, service, weather, and new friends. And even with my so-called negative comments about things which are mostly fixable, we have reserved space on the new "Voyager" coming out in 2003. And I would go on this ship again in a heartbeat. lovebora@aol.com June, 2001 Read Less
My wife and I went on a one-week cruise on the Seven Seas Mariner in early December 2001. We are in our late fifties and have taken 5 previous cruises. Overall we enjoyed this cruise. The ship and our cabin were wonderful. The dining ... Read More
My wife and I went on a one-week cruise on the Seven Seas Mariner in early December 2001. We are in our late fifties and have taken 5 previous cruises. Overall we enjoyed this cruise. The ship and our cabin were wonderful. The dining room staff could not have been better. They were always attentive, friendly, courteous; other staffs were almost as good. All but one of the previous cruises were on Crystal Cruise line ships. I therefore will be comparing for the most part the Radisson experience on the Mariner with our experiences on Crystal ships. We very much look forward to sailing again on the Mariner. The standard "deluxe" rooms on the Crystal ships seemed to us in the past well designed and comfortable. But they are far inferior to the rooms on the Mariner. The standard room on the Mariner is 30% larger, has a much larger bathroom, a walk-in closet and a balcony. These rooms provide so much space that is difficult for us to understand why anyone would want a higher class of accommodation. We were very satisfied with the room and the ship and regard the Mariner as the best designed ship we have been on. We are sailing on the Silver Shadow in January and will be interested to compare that ship to the Mariner. The quality and the preparation of the food on the Mariner were outstanding. The main dining room offers single seating dining to all passengers. It is well laid out and has less "bad" tables than do the Crystal ships, where locations near food preparation areas are common. We felt Crystal Cruises tends to offer well-prepared food of high quality; however the preparations are standard Continental and unexciting. Radisson takes more chances and more frequently offers food in contemporary, cutting edge preparations. Our mothers would love Crystal's food and often would feel that Radisson sometimes uses strange ingredients or too much spice; our children in their late twenties would greatly prefer Radisson's. We are impressed with the alternative restaurants on all three ships. The Prego restaurants on both the Crystal Symphony and the Crystal Harmony serve excellent Italian cuisine. The Signatures restaurant on the Mariner serves equally excellent continental cuisine. Latitudes on the Mariner offers each night a tasting menu that changes half way through the cruise. The food is spicy and contemporary for the most part with an Asian twist. It is simply a fun experience. The Asian restaurants on the Crystal ships are interesting but Crystal seems to us has not decided just what it wants to do with them. The standard luncheon menus on all three ships are very good. However, there is nothing on the Mariner that is comparable to the outstanding theme luncheon buffets served on the Symphony and the Harmony. On the other hand it was big plus to be served complementary wine at dinner on the Mariner and not to have to be charged for every bottle of water or soft drink that we imbibed. Generally we found the wines well chosen; in the one or two cases when the wine seemed wrong for a dinner, the wine steward cheerfully offered alternative wines. One of the pleasures of sailing on the Crystal Symphony or the Crystal Harmony is the music. On the average cruise there are three pianists, two bands, an instrumental trio, plus guest classical musicians. There is some musician playing in some lounge from three in the afternoon until 1AM. There is nothing comparable on the Seven Seas Mariner. The lounges are generally better designed on the two Crystal ships than on the Mariner. There was one very good pianist and a guitar player on the Mariner. We generally finished dining about 8:30 each evening. The pianist played from 5:30 until 7PM but then did not resume playing until 9:30 when she alternated with the guitarist the rest of the evening. There was no music any place on the ship immediately after dinner. The Mariner also lacked the guest classical musicians that enriched the voyages on the Crystal. The shows on the Crystal are of much better quality than on the Mariner. Crystal clearly spends a lot of money on quality producers and directors of its musicals, on impressive costumes, and on the rights to musicals. The Mariner shows in comparison seem amateur productions. The singers and dancers seemed somewhat better on the Crystal ships. The guest entertainers generally were also of higher quality on the Crystal ships. My biggest complaint that we had about Mariner cruise was the poor quality of the enrichment lectures. Particularly on the world cruise but also on a cruise to Alaska and a Mediterranean cruise, Crystal had lecturers who were experts in some facet of the region we were visiting and from whom we could learn. These individuals were historians, art historians, and reporters with some expertise. The Mariner had no one other than a "handwriting expert". Perhaps this weakness is inevitable on a Caribbean cruise and not a difference between the two cruise lines. The cruise consultant on the Mariner promised there would be more and better lecturers on other Radisson cruise. The Mariner visited four ports on our cruise: Nassau, Jamaica, Grand Cayman, and Key West. Unfortunately there were several other ships at each port, which overburdened the attractions of each island. The two organized shore excursions that we went on were satisfactory. Surprisingly there was no excursion involving snorkeling on Grand Cayman. We will sail on the future on both Radisson and Crystal. However we will expect different things from each line. When we want good entertainment, good music and shows, and quality lecturers we will sail Crystal. On the other hand when we want pure comfort and relaxation and more interesting food we will sail on Radisson. Hopefully the accommodations on the new Crystal ship will be more similar to the Mariner. Perhaps in the future the Mariner will offer more music and shows equal in quality to that on the Crystal Symphony and Crystal Harmony. mobrien3@san.rr.com January 2002 Read Less
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