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1,147 Regent Seven Seas Cruise Reviews

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
Untitled Document Western Caribbean Ft. Lauderdale – Nassau, Bahamas – At Sea – Ocho Rios, Jamaica – Georgetown, Grand Cayman – At Sea – Key West, Florida – Ft. Lauderdale SNAPSHOT ... Read More
Untitled Document Western Caribbean Ft. Lauderdale – Nassau, Bahamas – At Sea – Ocho Rios, Jamaica – Georgetown, Grand Cayman – At Sea – Key West, Florida – Ft. Lauderdale SNAPSHOT The Radisson Seven Seas Mariner is an attractive 50,000 tonne ship, contemporary and proportionate in its design, with soft, flowing lines. Mariner’s remarkable space ratio of 71.4 provides guests with a great deal of space to move about and there is never any sense of crowding. As the first all-suite, all-balcony vessel of its kind, the Mariner offers spacious, attractive, and very practical guest accommodations for its 700 guests. Issues exist with the small bathtub/shower combination and the inadequate balcony partitions, though. The multiple dining restaurants are all elegant in their design and appearance, and first-rate in quality of food and service. The in-suite dining experience is nothing short of extraordinary. Various public rooms, lounges and areas serve different purposes and, for the most part, are all sensibly designed, decorated and configured. Nice touches such as included gratuities, complimentary wines, bottled water and soft drinks are provided. Service throughout the ship is consistent and excellent. We have deemed the Radisson Seven Seas cruising experience aboard Mariner as one of “simple elegance and sophistication.” FOR STARTERS We initiated our “respite from reality” a day early in Ft. Lauderdale (as well as extending it), choosing to stay at the oceanfront Harbor Beach Marriott Resort & Spa, a 15-story resort with exceptional views of the Atlantic Ocean, and located 10 minutes from the cruise ship pier (a $10 cab ride). Lush, tropical landscaping with waterfalls and garden walkways abound. While the hotel can tend to be “busy”, plenty of areas for escape to peace and quiet are easily found. Pay the premium for an oceanfront category on one of the upper floors, and in the 07 through 37 blocks, which provide direct, unobstructed and panoramic vistas of the beach and ocean beyond. The sounds and views of the sparkling Atlantic and its crashing surf are worth the additional cost. As well, the resort is located less than a mile north of the entrance to the inter-coastal where all the ships arrive and depart from Port Everglades, and from your room you can easily watch the parade of cruise ships. Better yet, do as we did, pack some beverages and take the twenty minute stroll down the pristine beach to witness the magical evening exodus of the departing ships from a mere distance of 75 yards. It all gets underway at about 4:30. And, if you’re so inclined, you can wake at 5 in the morning to watch them arrive – albeit in the dark. FIRST IMPRESSIONS The RSSC cruise documents clearly spell it out – embarkation is between 3 pm and 5 pm, although you’ll likely be comfortably accommodated in one of the ship’s lounges prior to that time. Consider an alternative: Arrive a day early, stay at the Harbor Beach Marriott, request late checkout (1 pm), enjoy the beautiful pool area, have lunch, and head to the pier at 3:30 pm. We arrived at 3:45 to a nearly empty Port Everglades, since all ships had boarded, and we registered effortlessly at the RSSC desk. At time of registration, our cruise account was also established, and moments later we were at the main reception area of the ship where our security photos were taken, followed by a champagne toast, and an escort to our suite. All completed in less than 10 minutes. Our luggage was about 5 minutes behind us. Nice and smooth. HOME, SUITE, HOME We had originally booked a Category H guarantee, which subsequently was upgraded by Radisson to a Category D on Deck 10. The standard suite provides 252 square feet of stateroom area and a 49 square foot balcony. We actually ended up upgrading to a Category B Penthouse Suite, deciding that the additional 124 square feet of interior space, and additional 24 square feet of teak balcony, was worth the incremental cost. We noted that the balcony of the Category B stateroom was entirely unobstructed in that there was no raised “lip” (about 12 inches) as there was on the balcony of the Category C stateroom. A small fact, perhaps, and likely not noted by many, but we wanted as much visual access from the balcony as possible. The Penthouse Suite interior is beautifully designed, and very functional. Containing a comfortable living area with a wrap-around couch, complete with a small table, and armchair with footrest, this suite provides an abundance of room to relax or entertain. The living area leads to large floor-to-ceiling windows, and a sliding glass door to the balcony allows easy access to the beauty of the outdoors. Opposite to the couch stands a large wall unit, stretching floor to ceiling, and it stores the mini-bar, television/VCR, writing desk and assorted drawer space. The bedroom area is nicely separated from the living area through use of dual decorative columns and attractive curtains that may be drawn. Close by is the roomy walk-in closet that is quite able to handle a wardrobe for the longest voyage. And with the handy laundry facility on board, there is no need to over-pack. A vanity area and a second armchair with footrest complete the bedroom configuration. This suite (as like all others aboard Mariner) is tastefully decorated and very inviting. The only major concern with the suite’s interior is the design of the bathtub/shower combination. If you’re six feet plus, you’re quite likely to bruise your head trying to shower. If you’re vertically challenged, climbing into the tub is an event on its own since the tub’s base itself is raised off the floor, and the high sides of the tub will challenge even the finest Olympic hurdler. As was first done with Radisson’s Navigator, there should have been a separate shower installed. The new Radisson ship Voyager, due out in 2003, will have such a configuration, so Radisson obviously realized the mistake with Mariner. Minor grievances include the European King size bed, which is much narrower than a North American King size. The TV/VCR unit is difficult to operate and the choice of in-house films and satellite channels less than stellar. CNN, CNN-Headline News and ESPN are the satellite networks, although TNT was advertised in the program guide. While CNN and ESPN are a must, surely Radisson can expand the programming to provide a better variety. How about Nickelodeon’s “Nick at Night” or ABC’s Monday Night Football? While on the subject of in-suite television and video entertainment, the film video library was another disappointment. Any of the interesting videos that were available were snapped up right away, and of the remaining that were remotely interesting, the quality of some tapes was poor. We had the opportunity to tour the Radisson Seven Seas Navigator in Key West, and already a full day into their itinerary, the video library aboard that ship was impressive, with many great films still available. Our biggest disappointment with our suite, however, and the Mariner as a whole, was the balcony partitions. In our view, the partitions are ridiculously inadequate, in that each is 4 by 6½ feet, leaving a 16-inch wide gap from the balcony rail to the front edge of the partition, and a 4-inch gap between the back edge of the partition and the suite itself. If you’re of the social kind and love to mingle with your neighbors, then you’ll be just fine. Better yet if you’re a voyeur. If, however, you’re like us, and view your balcony as a place of respite, privacy and solitude, think again. You can pick your friends, but you can’t pick your neighbors, and you’re at the mercy of the cruise line in that you don’t know who is going to end up beside you. Not meaning to belabor the point (well, maybe just a little), but how cruise designers, and subsequently cruise lines such as Radisson, can accept balcony partitions designed as they are on the Mariner (and on many other cruise ships), is baffling to us. Especially on a ship such as the Mariner, which is marketed by Radisson as “uncompromising quality”, it would appear Radisson has discounted that its guests might be looking for peace, quiet and respite on their balcony. And Heaven help you if you’re downwind of a smoker. Although the balcony’s privacy leaves much to be desired, Mariner’s Penthouse Suite is still one of the nicest suites afloat that we’ve come across, combining roomy living and sleeping areas, while maintaining a close connection with the sea from either, due to the large floor to ceiling windows, and no solid balustrade on that not-so-private balcony. The Mariner and Master Suites are home to the most private balconies (verandas), but you pay the price. We had the opportunity to tour most of Mariner’s suite categories and would offer the following observations. For the ultimate, the Master Suite is a gorgeous two-bedroom layout, complete with a huge, private forward facing veranda. The veranda has a protected portion, with a glass-enclosed area outfitted with lounge chairs and a teak dining set – table and 4 chairs. If price isn’t a concern, this is the place to be. The Mariner Suite is a very attractive two-room retreat, with the living room and the bedroom each embracing the very private balcony. Unfortunately, the price of the Mariner Suite is still one of those “if you have to ask, then you probably can’t afford it.” The Horizon, Seven Seas and Grand Suites are practical layouts, different only by the size of the suite and balcony. A common theme across these suites that we found disappointing (except for the Seven Seas Forward) is the bedroom areas tend to be set away to an interior corner of the suite and, thus, lose much of any connection to the sea. If you’re the type of cruiser who prefers quiet as opposed to the sound of the ocean at night, then this won’t be a problem in these suites. But if you’re like us and relish the sounds of the ship dancing with the swells, then these suites could potentially drive you to sleeping out in the living area by the balcony door. The other comments we’ll make are directed to the suites located aft; balcony partitions are also less than private, you might feel you’re staying next to a waterfall (ship’s wake), and there always seemed to be a prevailing, albeit slight, scent of engine exhaust in the air. The standard suite aboard Mariner is a comfortable arrangement, although the living area is somewhat “cozy” with a small couch, table, chair, and wall unit. The narrow design of the suite may cause claustrophobia for longer voyages, but is likely quite suitable for the shorter durations. However, we ourselves were very glad to have upgraded to a Penthouse Suite. One final, small (but nice to have) feature is the doorbell at the suite door. The soft sound of a chime is much more welcome than a startling rap. IF FOOD BE THE MUSIC OF LOVE, PLAY ON (oh, wait a minute ...) Five dining venues, plus a pool grill, are available aboard the Mariner, and we took advantage of each. We relished the open seating, when-you-darn-well-feel-like-it dining policy, having previously been tied to a specific time and table on all our previous cruises. We fell in love with the in-suite dining, choosing to have all our breakfasts, most lunches and a few dinners in the privacy and comfort of our suite. Radisson has hit the mark with this service, and should be complimented for providing a top-notch experience for its guests. Starting with the specially fitted table-top, retrieved seemingly from out of nowhere by the waiter, a table for two is created inside of a minute, complete with crisp linens, crystal, and china. Ordered meals are served a course at a time, with impeccable timing, and the quality of food and service is as good as at any other dining venue on board. Dining on exquisite creations, dressed in your comfortable terry cloth robe, while the sea rushes by you just feet away, and the warm Caribbean breezes tickle at your toes, well, enough said. Exceptional. As for the other venues, we dined in the reservations-required Signatures and Latitudes. The service and food quality was very good at these highly touted restaurants, although we left Signatures somewhat “peckish” since the portions were small across the appetizer, entrée and dessert. We felt Signatures to be over-rated, having come aboard expecting something extra special. Signatures is worth a visit, but just one visit. Latitudes’ portions, too, were small, but plentiful, at this “tasting” restaurant. No need to call room service as we did after Signatures. The Compass Rose restaurant, the largest of all venues, is an attractive dining room, well staffed and offering varied menus. No complaint with the quality of food or service and we would remark it is very similar to that of Crystal Cruises’ dining rooms. The nicest dining experience we enjoyed (with the exception of the in-suite dining) occurred at La Veranda Restaurant with its Mediterranean Bistro theme that provides for the opportunity to dine al fresco. With the distant, twinkling lights of Key West visible from our private candle-lit corner table, we delighted in fare such as fresh antipasti, grilled Prawns with Risotto, and flambé Mango and Vanilla Ice Cream, as the warm Caribbean air circled around us. Perfect, perfect, perfect. As for the pool grill, the standard items are available – including steak sandwiches, burgers, hot dogs and salads. All freshly prepared, to order, and delicious. No pizza, unfortunately, although you can order it to your suite through room service. It, too, was delicious. Afternoon Tea was served in either the Horizon or Observation lounges. The Observation lounge is a much nicer venue to enjoy tea with better sea vistas through the floor to ceiling windows. The tea service itself is fairly simple with Lipton as the “house tea” and special teas by request. There is also a self-serve sandwich table. Some improvements would be welcome for the afternoon tea set-up, as it certainly isn’t up to the same standard embraced by Crystal Cruises. A table for two in any of the dining locations was never a problem for us and it seemed that most guests preferred dining in this manner. Obtaining reservations at the specialty restaurants is simple and we had no difficulties receiving our desired dining time or requested table for two. There was absolutely no pressure to dine with anyone else unless desired to do so. Special note to make is the beverage policy aboard the Radisson ships. Complimentary bar set-up and unlimited replenishment of soft drinks and bottled water is a big plus. It was a welcome relief to find continuously stocked water in our fridge, without having to pay for it. This is the kind of benefit that should be standard on all luxury cruise lines (without mentioning names). Right Crystal? Oops, it slipped out. As well, the availability of 10% or 18% cream for your coffee is a nice touch, something we could not get consistently when sailing Crystal. The coffee’s very good, too. As for the complimentary poured wines, that was a welcome bonus, as the wines served were very good quality. For example, one evening of in-suite dining was accompanied with bottles of excellent Saint-Emilion and Pouilley-Fuissé wines. IF YOU PLEASE, SIR Service levels across all ship hotel areas are consistent. The staff performed their duties promptly, efficiently, and pleasantly. For dining, no need to ask for water refills, fresh ground pepper, or additional warm bread and rolls. And, yes, they even remember your favorite beverage. The room service staff (both telephone and wait staff) deserves special recognition for their superior level of service and care that made in-suite dining such a highlight. Service from staff outside the dining areas is also very friendly, warm and efficient. Our inquiries and requests always met with willing smiles and timely follow-up. OUT AND ABOUT The Mariner exudes a feel of a traditional ship with a sedate, muted décor. Much artwork is placed throughout the hallways, lounges and other public rooms, and the ship has a definite cosy and intimate feel to it. The Mariner, as one would expect, is in immaculate condition. A very high standard of care is obviously exercised and it’s reflected in the cleanliness and overall appearance throughout. However, there’s no particular focal point of the ship that we would deem as “striking”, for example, the atrium entrance to Crystal’s Symphony (or Harmony) ships. While all Mariner’s lounges and such are, for the most part, bright and spacious, there is a theme of simplicity throughout, thus our label of the Mariner as “simple elegance and sophistication.” What’s noticeably missing is a connection with the sea, as there are few large windows that allow for panoramic views of the outside land or seascape. On either side of the ship on Deck 7 is a working promenade (not wraparound), with very little incentive for guest traffic, and to which a number of lounges and hallways look out upon. The fitness complex is rather small, and is sectioned into two areas, with one containing the standard array of treadmills, stair-steppers, and other cardio equipment. A larger-than-required aerobics area is adjacent and was seldom utilized. The treadmills were positioned facing a number of picture windows but these windows were really inadequate in size to allow in the beauty of the outside. For some reason, Radisson has installed a small television at each individual piece of cardio equipment that makes the area awfully noisy when a busy crowd abounds (and on this cruise, the days at sea meant a noisy gym). There is a universal weight gym that may only be used by one guest at a time due to a single weight stack; we observed that there occasionally was a wait for guests to use this piece of equipment. Located on the starboard side, opposite the fitness complex, is the Judith Jackson Spa, which offers various services and facilities. Important to note is to that if you do not reserve a Spa treatment as soon as you board, forget about getting any (of the most popular) treatments at all. Radisson’s shipboard credit program means that’s where guests head as soon as they get on board. We accepted that as the penalty for joining the ship later in the afternoon – no available Spa appointments and poor selection of film videos from the library. C’est la vie. The theatre is attractive, subdued and unassuming, and provides excellent sightlines from every vantage point. The library is much smaller then expected, and actually is not so much a room as it is an alcove. The choice of reading material was similar to that of the film videos – inadequate. Mariner’s casino is small and intimate with a mix of tables and slots, and the table play tended to start later in the evening. The slots area was a fairly quiet and sedate environment during the times we challenged the one-armed bandits. The computer room is actively used but there was never a shortage of workstations. Radisson charges by the second for its Internet use, but only when page data is being loaded; the result is a fairly inexpensive means of staying in touch with the outside world. It’s also less expensive to utilize your own personal email account as opposed to having an email account through Radisson. As for the shopping arcade, there are only two boutique stores on board, which are located in separate areas. The largest boutique has a mix of fashion and jewellery articles for sale but does not really entice one to enter. For those inclined to physical activity outdoors, there are paddle tennis and shuffleboard courts (no teak for the shuffleboard, however) located aft. The paddle tennis court is covered with a mesh net that is hung far too low, and a number of finely placed ball returns failed when contacting the net above. A golf driving and putting area is also located adjacent to the paddle tennis court. Radisson should invest in upgrading the golf equipment as the drivers and irons were in poor condition (where’s the Calloways?). The outside public areas and sunning spaces are adequate, with an upper walking/jogging “track” encircling the lower pool area. Two hundred times around equalled a mile…well, maybe it was only eleven times around, but it seemed like more. We sorely missed a wraparound promenade deck for those invigorating “sea walks.” The pool area itself was somewhat disappointing with few decorative touches such as floral displays or tropical plants. The area was actively used but never crowded. Radisson should do something to diminish the sterile ambience. Keep in mind there is no cinema, café, or ice cream bar on Mariner, as there is on similar upscale vessels, such as the Crystal ships. As a result, there isn’t the greatest motivation to get out and explore the ship. THAT'S ENTERTAINMENT! The entertainment program varied between Broadway-style reviews, cabaret, and a piano/guitar ensemble, in addition to guest lecturers and other enrichment activities. Due to the lure of our suite, combined with the later start of most entertainment (9:45 pm), we just didn’t make it out to any of the shows and, therefore, are unable to offer any comments as to the calibre of entertainment. We’re sure it was very nice… THE NEIGHBORHOOD We observed a wide range of age groups aboard this particular cruise, with very few under the age of 20. For the most part, it was an older crowd, with many estimated in their late 50’s and beyond. Of the remaining, there seemed to be an even representation from the 20’s, 30’s, and 40’s age groups. Disappointingly, there was an assortment of guests (in their 30’s and early 40’s) who conducted themselves in a manner that was more suited to a Carnival cruise, with loud, boisterous behavior, complete with bare feet in the public rooms and hallways. Where’s the gangplank when you need it? Whether this was due to a number of cruise groups, including travel agents, who were apparently on board, one can only surmise, but it was unexpected, and disappointing, to observe poor behavior on a cruise line of this calibre. WHERE TO TODAY? Western Caribbean. Nassau, Ocho Rios, Georgetown, Key West. Itinerary was not a real influence in taking this cruise, and since this was a repeat itinerary for us (except for Key West), we did not spend much time off the Mariner. One note of observation regarding the docking pattern for the Mariner. In Ocho Rios, the Mariner docked directly at the Bauxite mill, which provided a very undesirable view for passengers on the starboard side of the ship. In Key West, the Mariner was docked at the former Navy Dock, and while the centre of “tourist” town (Mallory Square) was only ¼ to ½ mile away (in a straight line), it would be quite a swim to get there since that direct line meant crossing a harbor channel. The result was a 15-minute shuttle through the former Navy base, including three security checkpoints, aboard a Conch train. The Navigator was located right at the Mallory Square dock which allowed passengers to disembark right at the centre of the action. We concluded that the starboard side on this itinerary was not the preferred side to be located and one would be better off on the Port side. IT'S OVER, PLEASE LEAVE Simple. Up at 7, breakfast in our suite, out by 8 and off by 9. Due to the high space ratio of the Mariner, it was easy to find a quiet corner to await your debarkation call. LASTING IMPRESSION Undeniably, the flexibility and quality in its dining, particularly the in-suite dining, attractive guest suites, special inclusive touches, and high guest space ratio are reasons enough to sail Mariner again and again. And while we could argue the Crystal ships may have slightly more attractive interiors and additional incentives for leaving your suite then Mariner does, you will be hard-pressed to match the overall value that Radisson delivers. We couldn’t imagine returning to a rigid dining assignment (and forget about those so-called free-style, personal choice dining arrangements), or having to pay for bottled water or soft drinks. As for the issue of Mariner’s inadequate balcony partitions, Radisson should consider retrofitting the existing partitions with proper privacy dividers. Or, at the least, giving its guests the opportunity to interview their prospective neighbors. With either unlikely to happen, the lack of balcony privacy is the only reason we could find that would dissuade us from choosing the Mariner again – or at least waiting until our lottery win so as to afford the Mariner or Master Suites. All considered, though, Radisson delivers a very, very good cruise experience. ccccccc@canada.com Read Less
We flew to Ft. Lauderdale on the 8th and arrived around 1:15 p.m. We asked the RSSC rep how many guests they were waiting on and we were told four. Wow, there are normally hundreds on the other lines waiting for a bus. Anyway we were ... Read More
We flew to Ft. Lauderdale on the 8th and arrived around 1:15 p.m. We asked the RSSC rep how many guests they were waiting on and we were told four. Wow, there are normally hundreds on the other lines waiting for a bus. Anyway we were off to claim our baggage and into a cab a little after 1:30. It was only a ten minute, $10 ride and we were at Pier 21. Now we are on our way. A brief trip inside to the terminal desk shows only four people being registered. We are immediately taken care of and an imprint of my credit card is made. It is now just before two o'clock. Anyone having cruised before will realize how expedient this process has been so far. We were informed before they do not board prior to three o'clock. Well not this time. We are escorted immediately to the ship stopping only for a security picture and a boarding photo opportunity. We are told that our room would be ready at three. Upon boarding our small carry on bags are taken by a steward, a glass of champagne is offered and were are escorted to the Mariner Bar for a snack and more champagne. At this point we are immediately impressed with the look of the ship. She is truly beautiful. Just before three we are told our room is ready. Upon rising from our chair our bags are once again taken from us and we are escorted to our room. Our room was a cat H on deck seven. This was the least expensive cabin but in all honesty it was centrally located to most everything. Doing the ship again I would request the same category and floor. We enter the room and are amazed at the dEcor, craftsmanship and expanse. Many pictures are available on various websites but you can't get a real feel until you see it for yourself. It is not pretentious yet has an elegant look. Throughout the ship the same theme look repeats. The wood is gorgeous and everything is of the highest quality. Our luggage arrived before we did. Another pleasant surprise. Lots of room in the closet and the bathroom is huge. The tub is odd in that it is so high off the floor and tall folks have a tough time in the shower. I'm 6 feet tall and my head could touch the ceiling over the tub if I tried. Well, the glass of champagne (which was refilled twice before getting to our room) is now empty. An iced bottle is there waiting courtesy of Radisson. A second bottle is there as a gift from American Express for being a Platinum member. Also we find two shipboard credits. A $200 book and deposit credit from Radisson and an AMEX Platinum member credit of $300. My wife is determined to use it all. Two bottles of vodka, 2 beers and an array of mixers and soft drinks are in the fridge. Almost forgot, no lock on the fridge door. One bottle of vodka is sent back and a bottle of red wine replaces it. Canyon Road Cabernet. Nice wine. The beer and spirits are not replaced but the mixers, soft drinks and water are always replaced. Out to the teak floored balcony to try our own champagne. Wonderful view without Plexiglas panels. I guess this is because there are so few children on board this line. On this cruise there were two wonderful kids still in strollers. They never screamed or cried. Kudos to the parents of these kids. We put the keeper on the champagne and off to explore the ship after unpacking. We went down to deck five where we had embarked to the reception desk to get a ship map. On the way another glass of champagne is placed in our hands. The purser's staff is efficient and oh so polite. The layout map though is large and we thought it would be nice to downsize it a bit. No matter it was not needed for long. The ship is easy to find your way around. By the way she does not seem small at 50,000 tons. The layout is done perfect with entries to lounges and other rooms only on one side. This allows the rooms to be larger. The Observation Lounge and the Horizon Lounge have the feeling of being large but comfortable. Honestly to me the ship seemed to be in the 70,000 ton class due to the efficient ingress and egress into the ship spaces. The mandatory safety drill was effortless and comfortable. We assembled in a lounge for rehearsal of the drill. The poor folks on a Royal Caribbean ship across from us stood in the western sun of the promenade deck for what seemed like 30 minutes. Thank you RSSC. Off we sailed at 6:00 for our best cruise yet. We did dinner tonight in La Veranda which becomes a Bistro at night. This is the breakfast and lunch buffet area during the day. At night they cleverly close off a portion (the buffet area) of the restaurant to make an intimate dining area. Here comes the wine. Woo, we hardly had recovered from the afternoon champagne. An excellent white wine in a bottomless glass as well as another excellent selection of red. I love wine and this cruise did not disappoint. Dinner was great with the best Tiramisu for desert. Tonight was a casual night and it was nice to see many of the men in sport coats. Friday brings an at sea day as we head for Grand Cayman. It is nice to relax and explore more of the ship. We really love sea days. After breakfast we look for a chaise by the pool. No problem finding two together. When more are needed a pool attendant sets more up. At times we wonder where the rest of the guests are. After inquiring we find there are between 440 and 450 passengers out of 700 or so. This is great! Lunch all days is in La Veranda and the pool grill. We get a steak sandwich and pair it with a good salad from the buffet. The selections are numerous and delicious. Always plenty of cold seafood like crab claws, shrimp, mussels and wonderful seafood salads. Tonight is formal night and there are many tuxedos and many dark suits. Only a very few non-conformers but a least all gents had a jacket. We did dinner this evening in Signatures. Remember to make a reservation. This is the Cordon Bleu Restaurant and the service and wine were excellent. The room is candlelit and romantic. The food was good but not remarkable. After dinner it is off to the casino to rid my pocket of some loose bills. The slots are very tight and there are quarter and dollar machines in a smallish area. The casino is a separate room that you don't have to pass through. Very little smoke as there are not many smokers on the cruise. What a pleasant surprise. There is one mini-craps table, one roulette wheel and three blackjack tables. They make the table totally fill before opening another. I swear I counted 9 at one table. The dealers are very pleasant as are all the staff on board. I will not discuss the ports but will comment on the docking. Cayman is a tendering stop. At Cozumel we docked in town and spent one and a half days there. No taxi needed. In Key West we docked at the Hilton Marina. No need for the tram. This was appreciated though I do wish we had an overnight here instead of Cozumel. We assumed there would be three casual nights, one formal night and three informal nights on board. We were wrong and definitely over packed the good stuff. We ended up with only one informal night and most were dressed in country club attire (open collar with jacket). The ladies looked great each and every night. Not overdone, just great. One guest lecture we really enjoyed were the proprietors of Dry Creek Vineyards. A husband and wife who had a true passion for their art. The first lecture and tasting brought out four different Fume' Blanc's and the second meeting they sampled Zinfandel, red not white. Their products were excellent and they answered many questions. They even politely ignored the French person who stated "French wines are far superior to California". Typical and rude remark. We ate at all four restaurants. We liked the Bistro (La Veranda) for its small size and wonderful service. Signatures is a must do one time only. The Compass Rose looks like a standard large main restaurant. The service was very good as were the wines and food. Remember Radisson pours excellent complimentary wines with dinner. There is a list of different wines so if you don't like the evening suggestion ask for the list. We were fond of the Pinot Grigio and the Red Bordeaux. The most memorable dinner to me was our time in Latitudes the other reservation required restaurant. The evening we dined there was a wine pairing tasting menu with more wines from Dry Creek Vineyards. The menu here is fixed. You sit down and they bring you a sampling of appetizers, soups and entrees. It was a difficult menu for the Dry Creek folks to pair but they did an excellent job. Try their wines if you see them in the store. One downside to the cruise occurred the final evening aboard. We were weary after a long day in Key West and wanted to eat in La Veranda. Honda had about ninety people on board and they reserved the restaurant this evening. They had reserved the horizon lounge one other evening. I would have appreciated Radisson putting a note in the daily news stating this. The final morning we asked for room service before our departure. When it arrived the waiter set up our table and it was large enough for our big breakfast and us. They hide a table top under the couch. White linen, china, silver and the best coffee ever on a cruise ship. We waited longer than what we were told was normal for the ship to start debarkation. Some passengers did not show up for immigration as ordered. Our color though was called first. There are basically two groups. Those with fights before noon and those after. Down the ramp we went and easily found our bags. Many taxis were waiting and we were on our way to the airport. To sum it up: This was our most enjoyable cruise ever. We have done ten now. The ship is very quiet but the disco does wind up around 10:30. For us it was so relaxing. The staff was excellent, always had a smile and a greeting. No tipping. Great complimentary wines at dinner. The best food yet. A great cabin and a wonderful vacation. We will visit her again. Feel free to send comments and questions. rpetersen1@charter.netFebruary 2002 Read Less
Just returned home to Florida from the RSSC Mariner's cruise to the Leeward Islands out of San Juan. From the moment that we arrived at the dock to board the ship, everyone and everything exceeded our expectations! Superb does not ... Read More
Just returned home to Florida from the RSSC Mariner's cruise to the Leeward Islands out of San Juan. From the moment that we arrived at the dock to board the ship, everyone and everything exceeded our expectations! Superb does not adequately describe our cruise experience. We have been on other cruises. A suite on Celebrity with butler service does not approach the experience that we enjoyed on Mariner. The suite was spacious and had more closet and drawer space than my husband and I could use. The bathroom was beautifully appointed. Our cabin steward and stewardess were very attentive to all our needs and wants. The ship overall conveys an understated sense of gracious luxury. Everything is tastefully done without "shouting and working at it". One major asset is the entire ship's staff. Everyone is extremely well trained in the art of fine service. What a treat! The dining venues offer contrasting menus that we thoroughly appreciated. Lattitudes has an Asian infusion menu that was described as a tasting menu. Service was impeccable and the food memorable. Our only regret was that we were only permitted one reservation. Similarly one reservation was permitted in the Cordon Blu restaurant Signatures. Here the menu had a French flair and the rack of lamb was outstanding. We also enjoyed the Compass Rose, the main dining room, which does not require a reservation. Here, too, the menu choices and service were wonderful. However, this is a large room which fills quickly and we would have appreciated a quieter and more dimly lighted dining experience. On the formal night, each table was softly candle lit and this made a tremendous difference in the ambiance of the room. In hindsight, I would have liked RSSC to state that there would be one formal night, one informal night and the rest of the evenings would be casual. It would have made packing easier. Lastly, the one flaw in our entire trip was the flight arrangements that RSSC made for our return from San Juan to Jacksonville, Florida. You must leave your cabin by 8:00am. We were off the ship by 9:15 and used the ship-to-airport transfer offered by RSSC. We arrived at the airport before 10:00 and our flight left at 1:20pm. We were routed on Delta thru Atlanta and then back to Jacksonville. Arriving in Jacksonville at 7:00pm, we were in transit from the time we left our cabin for over eleven hours. This was a marked contrast to our flight schedule to San Juan. RSSC routed us thru Miami to San Juan which took a total of five hours. The eleven-hour return was a very long and tiring day after such a lovely cruise. However, we enjoyed our cruise so much that before leaving the ship we booked our next trip and can't wait to return to the Mariner to be pampered again. SGREEN106@aol.comApril 2002 Read Less
Our trip started in snowy Pittsburgh Pa, making our connection in Charlotte by the skin of our teeth. We made it to San Juan and proceeded to go to our pre cruise hotel, the Caribe Hilton. I had read that the resort underwent millions in ... Read More
Our trip started in snowy Pittsburgh Pa, making our connection in Charlotte by the skin of our teeth. We made it to San Juan and proceeded to go to our pre cruise hotel, the Caribe Hilton. I had read that the resort underwent millions in renovations, I really think it could of used a few million more. The room was just ok. The woodwork was broken off in many spots and the walls in the room had been patched and painted with paint that didn't match. The public areas looked old and tired, also. On the second night, we taxied to the Condado Plaza to have dinner and try our luck in the casino. We were really impressed with the Condado's decor, though we didn't see the rooms. On to The Mariner!! Embarkation was a breeze, taking maybe 10 minutes at the most. What a beauty she is. We were allowed to board early, grab some champagne and look around. The ship still looks brand spanking new. Nothing is worn or chipped. The carpet looks like it was laid yesterday. The atrium is quite spectacular for a Radisson ship, more elaborate than the other ships. The only thing I found odd was the strange art work lining the walls of the atrium. I am not really sure what they were, but they appeared to be metal women's dresses. Almost like modern suits of armor? On to our suite, as soon as we opened the door we were happy clams. The idea of an all balcony ship is, I think, the only way to go. Of course, all was spotless when we arrived. All I had to ask for was foam pillows for myself, and they came a minute later. The duvets are to die for. They keep you at just the right temperature. I also liked the thermostat, you can crank it to an almost subzero temp. The bathroom is done in beautiful marble and is quite roomy. I didn't find the shower to be annoying, as I have heard reported, but then again, I am 5' tall. My husband Mark, who is close to 6' didn't find any real problem with the height of the showerhead either. The walk in closet is another really nice feature. You can store all sorts of stuff on the floor and keep your cabin much less cluttered. Waiting for us in our cabin was more champagne from Radisson, a stocked fridge with the beer that we had asked for and a bottle of Absolut. A knock on our door brings our kind friend Al, who we had met prior to the cruise on the Cruise Critic message board, with a bottle of Dom Perignon. We decided to save that special treat for when we got home :) Speaking of the Cruise Critic message board, we had met a group of nearly 30 people online, who turned out to be quite the charming group when we actually met them on board. It made the cruise more personal having them all on our sailing. We spent time together in the Observation deck and one evening, we were all invited to Kris and Tony's suite for a get together. The tv has maybe 14 stations on it, international CNN, 4 movie channels, each day the 4 movies are shown all day long, TNT and several ships channels with announcements and the ships heading info. There is also a video library where you can grab a couple of movies and bring them back to your room to watch on your vcr. Room service was great. The menu is quite extensive, the food comes quick and it is hot when you receive it. Try the chicken Caesar salad, it's fantastic. We had breakfast every morning in our room, nothing like eating in your pj's while looking out your balcony door. Dining There are 4 restaurants, two requiring reservations. We chose to eat most of our dinners in the main dining room, Compass Rose, we just preferred the atmosphere there over the other dining options. We sat at a table for 2 each evening, with the same waiter, Mathias, who was a gem. When dining in the Compass Rose, you stop by the desk at the front of the restaurant and tell the Maitre d where you would like to sit and what size table. On the second evening, we asked to be at the same table for the rest of the week and of course it was no problem. Several of the tables around us had done the same thing and we had got to know them all quite well by the end of the trip. The only "reservation only" restaurant that we tried was Latitudes. It was an Asian fusion type menu that didn't change for the course of the week. It was an experience, but we weren't that fond of the food. You receive 3 samples of each course, appetizers, soup, entree and desert. We never made it to Signatures, the Cordon Bleu staffed restaurant, but we heard it was a better choice over Latitudes. If you want to dine in one of these venues, make you reservations as soon as you can, the book quick. The other dining option was the Veranda restaurant which by day is a great buffet for lunch and at night is a Mediterranean menu. We had thought that the free flowing wine at dinner was outstanding. One evening, I asked if any German wines were going to be served, the wine steward came back in an instant with a nice Piesporter. It just seems that they can't do enough to please you. The pool grill for lunch had some great themes, Mexican, seafood, etc. It was our choice for lunch. Entertainment I guess I can say, I am not an expert on this topic. We never went to any of the shows, so I cannot comment on that. We did find the casino entertaining, tho :) There are quite a few slots, black jack, poker, craps, roulette, and maybe some other tables I am forgetting. I found a lucky slot machine and won a few hundred dollars one night. Islands First stop was St. Thomas. Since we have been there several times, we just lounged around the ship and then did a little shopping Next stop was Antigua. OK, this was not our favorite island, it just wasn't as scenic as the rest. We opted for a snorkeling excursion here and we were surprised to find ourselves snorkeling 3 miles off the coast in the middle of the ocean. We had brought our own gear with us, but since the excursion included it, we left our gear in our room. That was our first mistake. The masks were old and as soon as you put your face in the water, they filled up. There were also no snorkel floatie vests, I had to make due with an old beat up orange life preserver. I really am glad I had it on, it helped keep me afloat while i was dumping the water out of my mask, all while my eyes were burning from the salt. Next stop, St. Barts. A very beautiful, charming island. Here we opted to snorkel, too, but it was quite different from the day before. We brought our own gear and the snorkel location was off shore. A really relaxing day. Next, St Maarten, another beautiful island. We chose to take a taxi to Orient beach, my first visit to a total nude beach. I kept my clothes on :) The beach really was beautiful, with the occasional very large nude backside blocking the view. Last stop, Virgin Gorda, the highlight of our trip. The thing to do on this island, is the Baths. Huge house size boulders all clustered on the beach, make for a fun day of exploring. It really was the most spectacular island stop that we made. Additional stuff Here is some stuff I can't think of any other category to put it in: Ship board photography was very good I thought. I usually groan and try to hide the pictures from other viewers. But this time, I had a hard time deciding how many pictures to buy. Of course, my husband wanted to buy the pic of him with his eyes closed, so no one else would see it. The shipboard credit was great. We were only expecting $200, but somehow we ended up with $400. Before we spent it, we checked with reception to make sure it wasn't a mistake, and we were delighted to learn it was an extra credit from Radisson. Since we couldn't seem to spend it all on board, we used it to deposit on a future Radisson Voyager sailing. Our friend Bob filled us in on the details, it is a deal you can't pass up. You deposit $100 per person for any sailing. You don't have to choose the date right away. You receive $200 ship board credit on your next sailing, plus your 5% past passenger discount and also $200 off that price. You give them your travel agents name and you are all set. Before we left for this cruise, we attended several chat sessions with the other friends we had met on Cruise Critic. One suggestion was to bring our binoculars, which we did. Mark and I sat on the balcony a lot, and the binoculars came in handy. Also before we left, we had read a review from a man who had nothing nice about the ship. He complained about everything under the sun, stating that if Radisson paid him to stay in the owners suite, he would decline. If Radisson makes him that offer, and he declines, I will be happy to fill in for him. This makes our third Radisson cruise and they just keep getting better and better. Ever since we took our first Radisson cruise, I find it hard to travel on any other cruise line. I think I will give up on the others and stick with one I know is the best. I would be glad to answer any questions, feel free to email me at stan2@nauticom.netApril 2002 Read Less
EMBARKATION We arrived at the Mariner in Copenhagen early ? around 11 AM, since we did a pre-cruise for a few days in Finland, and the only flights available got us into CPH at 10 AM. It was pouring rain when we arrived at the Mariner. ... Read More
EMBARKATION We arrived at the Mariner in Copenhagen early ? around 11 AM, since we did a pre-cruise for a few days in Finland, and the only flights available got us into CPH at 10 AM. It was pouring rain when we arrived at the Mariner. We were the first ones there. They told us that they could not normally board us this early, but due to the weather, they allowed us on board to await formal check-in. They showed us to the Mariner Lounge, where we were immediately approached by Nico who offered us drinks. Being too early, we declined ("Too early" changes as the cruise wears on, of course ). He didn't just walk away. He then said the magic words, "Can I get you a coffee OR CAPPUCINO" (This was important because on a prior cruise on Celebrity a major complaint was the inability to get capuccino when we wanted it)? He brought our capuccino, and we sat & talked with him for quite some time. What a personable guy! Then the Cruise Director came to us, and offered us a tour of the ship. She escorted us around the ship, and back then to the Lounge. Jane, the piano player, arrived to get ready to begin playing for the embarkation. We had a friendly conversation with her, and then listened to her terrific repertoire of songs. We would visit her frequently throughout the cruise. Also during this time, a few of the ship dancers approached us & again we had friendly conversation with them. After a few more minutes there, we were brought our room cards, and told we could go to our cabin. We arrived & Luiggina, our stewardess, was just finishing up. We left our carry-ons & went to the pool deck for lunch. Again, we were overwhelmed by the friendliness and service there. Not an ordinary " burger & 'dog" poolside spread. As happened at all times in the buffets, we were greeted by crew members who carried everything for us (Actually, a few times later in the cruise I really WANTED to carry my own stuff ? but they wouldn't let me!) By the time we finished lunch, we went back to our cabin, and there was our luggage. Unfortunately, one of our bags was not waterproof, so some contents were wet. A dark shirt ran onto my wife's white top, which caused some black smudges on the shoulder. DINNER WOW! We looked at the menus, posted on the TV & in front of Compass Rose, and Latitudes looked interesting. They vary the menu depending on the location ? using food of the location & blending it with food from the opposite part of the globe. The menu was a Russian-Oriental blend. It looked wonderful, but it tasted so much better than it even looked. If this was not the best meal I ever had, it certainly ranked right up there in the top 3 (Le Toison D'Or in Dijon may beat it) But that wasn't all ? the service! Friendly. Flawless. We were at a table for 2, but the interaction among those around us was great, and it seemed like a few of us were all together. This was pretty consistent throughout the ship ? a friendly, efficient crew and friendly, interesting guests. What a great combination! We booked for Friday night as we left. Day 2 - VISBY Fortunately, the arrival in Visby was not early morning, so we did not need to set an alarm. We woke up early anyway though, and went to the Veranda for breakfast. WHAT DO THEY DO TO THEIR EGGS???? Even a simple item like that they manage to make special! They were terrific. And the Salmon ? LOTS & LOTS of salmon ? good salmon. Yummy! As usual, too, the service was impeccable. Our coffee cups could not get empty, our juice glasses refilled without asking. Food carried to our seat. If we wanted more food, we could just ask and it would be brought to us (MORE FOOD? Ugh! ) Despite having been in Visby before, we took the Ship's tour of Visby so we could learn a bit more about what we had seen previously. I think I'd have preferred to go on our own with a guide book. That day a Medieval Festival was beginning in Visby, and the place was swarming with people ? many of whom were in medieval garb. It added a festive atmosphere to the place, but also made it more difficult to maneuver around. As we love to do in Scandinavia, after the tour we stopped at a lovely little cafe & had a brew. Love sampling local beers & ice cream ? and were not disappointed here. After returning to the ship, yet another instance of the incredible Radisson service surfaced. I had asked our Stewardess for extra pillows, and a blanket instead of those puffy things they use on the bed. I also asked if we could get olives (I like olives with my vodka). She wrote me a note telling me that she did everything I asked, and then saying she could not get the olives, but room service could. I picked up the phone & accidentally hit the Call Stewardess button. I immediately realized, hung up, and then began calling room service. I pushed only 2 buttons & there was a knock at the door ? it was Luiggina answering the page! YIKES ? so Quick!!! (I did NOT follow the No ? Tipping for her, and a few others). That evening, Formal Night, we ate at the Compass Rose. Uh Oh ? trouble. The food was much too good for a "regular" restaurant. I cannot recall specifically what we ate when, but I do recall remarking that the worst food we had on this cruise was very very good. As we were entering we were speaking with another couple & asked if they wanted to join us for dinner, so we sat with this couple. The introduction was humorous. The man held out his hand ,saying "Hi. I'm Gil" to which I replied "Hi, I'm Gil!" Gil is not a very common name, so it was funny that we ended up together like that. After dinner it was off to the Lounge to listen to Jane. Played a few of our favorites. We did not go to the show, a magician, as we are not generally show people. Prefer a lounge atmosphere, or comedians. TALINN Here again we took the Ship's tour, and were glad we did. We were interested in hearing the Concert at a church in Talinn, and it was very nice to sit in this medieval courtyard listening to Bach. The guide also pointed us in a good direction for shopping. We had heard reports that Talinn was good place to buy sweaters. It sure was! That evening it was back again to the Compass Rose for another outstanding meal. Different menu there each night. I was a little reluctant to go to Open Seating, but in the end, I liked the idea of just strolling on in whenever we felt like eating. I was struck by how well dressed everyone was on this ship. Not "pukey" nice, but comfortably nice. Even on the Casual nights, sport jackets were common. A nice touch, I thought. ST. PETERSBURG TERRIFIC! We had also been to St. Pete before, so this gave us a chance to see what we missed last time. We signed up for the trip to Peterhof Palace the first morning. It was a magnificent palace, and well worth the 4 hours. My wife thinks we were there last time, but I don't think we were. So even if we were, it was worth seeing again. Took a hydrofoil ride there, then the bus took us back. I am not really an Art fan, but I enjoyed the palace tour & seeing the magnificent artwork, decoration, etc. That afternoon we were scheduled for a tour that was cancelled due to failure to get the minimum (10). That was Jewish heritage" tour. So this was our opportunity to enjoy the ship for an afternoon. After yet another magnificent dinner in Compass rose, we were off to Yusopov Palace for a tour & Opera performance. That was wonderful. Greeted by young people in period costumes, a tour, champagne & caviar, strings, and then Opera highlights in the Theatre. I am very glad I chose this tour over the Ballet option. MOSCOW LOOOOONG Day! Worth the trip. We were whisked to and through Pulkovo airport in St. Pete onto a charter jet, much more modern than I had expected. Comfortable seating ? similar to our shuttle flights in NY. Took off without delay, and landed without delay in Moscow. It seems as though we were given some kind of priority/VIP status. A police escort in Moscow brought us to the Kremlin. The police didn't help very much to slice through the terrible traffic. After touring some churches & the Armory until early afternoon, it was off to a lunch at the Cafe Pushkin. What a terrific meal! And a beautiful restaurant! People were actually taking pictures in the bathrooms there. What a contrast to other bathrooms in Moscow. After lunch it was off to Red Square & a visit to the GUM department store. What a disappointment that was! It wasn't a Department store as we know it. Rather it was a huge indoor mall ? but a very Upscale one at that! All the typical American brands that we see in the Malls here in the U.S. It was here that I saw one of the most disgusting things I have ever seen. There were many beggars in Moscow, many young women carrying little babies. The flight back to St. Pete made me a little bit nervous. After passing through security, we boarded the plane, but there was a definite fuel smell in the plane. I assumed this was due to the fueling of the plane & others nearby. But in the air, the smell was still there. I was a bit nervous about flying with that smell in the plane, and was very happy when we landed. Arrived back at the Ship tired, hungry, and appreciative! The Veranda stayed open late to serve all of us returning from Moscow. This was Buffet food??? It was TERRIFIC! I had a steak there that was juicy, tasty & cooked just right. And it was just sitting out in a buffet. Steaks at Morton's or Ruth Chris aren't usually that good! Had dinner that night with someone who works for Radisson. In addition to being a lot of fun, I learned a lot about the new Voyager. ST. PETE - Day 3 The best day of the cruise. We hired a private guide, through RSSC, and were very happy that we did. Since we had our Jewish Heritage tour cancelled, and we were not able to do the Dostoyevsky tour due to it conflicting with Moscow, we made our own tour to combine these two. The visit to the Synagogue was awe inspiring. We also went to a small annex there where I was asked to join a prayer group. After a visit to a cemetery, our guide took us to stroll on the Nevsky Prospect. Here we found a Blini Kiosk. What fun that was, to order blini's with all kinds of fillings, from jellies to meats. After a quick (but delicious) lunch on the ship, we took a ship's tour to visit a Russian family. This was a highlight of the trip! We visited Yuri, an artist, and his wife, in their relatively upscale apartment. This was the only time it rained, and as we drove up to the apartment, yuri greeted the Van we were in with a large umbrella. The lobby of the building looked like a burned out tenement from the 20's. But the inside of yuri's apartment was exactly what you'd expect from an artist. It reminded me of something in the East Village in the 50's. Yuri & his wife were charming. We discussed life in Russia before & after Perestroika. We discussed 9/11. We were served Tea & cakes & cookies. Yummy stuff! That evening we ate at Signatures. We waited until the 2nd day of the cruise to make reservations there & were unable to get any. But as we were talking to our neighbors on the balcony, we mentioned that we could not book, and they invited us to join them as they had booked, but were only 2. Adding two was OK. Glad they invited us. In addition to the good company, the food was, again, outstanding. Our entire table ordered the Lamb Chop. It melted in my mouth. The flavoring was exquisite. The service, as usual, was impeccable. After dinner we attended the Crew's Latin Music show (By this time we knew the dancers so well that we almost Had To attend!) It was a fun show. They were pretty good. Not Patti LuPone, but good for a cruise show. HELSINKI - Oh no! Last day! Helsinki is great! The city is clean, and accessible, and full of interesting shops, sights, parks. And there is the Rock Church. We heard a concert there of Sibelius compositions by a couple of students from the Sibelius music school. The acoustics & the beauty of this church make the music sound better. I was also able to find Cloudberry Liqueur in a store there (Stockmann's Dept Store ran out of it) & we bought 3 bottles to take home. A little Cloudberry mixed with Vodka & a splash of Sprite makes a great Cloudberry cocktail. Or Cloudberry in coffee makes a good after dinner drink. And the ship served Cloudberry cheesecake in Latitudes. Good Stuff! We had to be back on the ship at 2:30. Not enough time! I'd love to see them change the itinerary to do an overnight in Helsinki ? maybe disembark there the next morning instead of sailing to Stockholm. Dinner again in Latitudes. Different wines, same food. YUM YUM YUM!!!!! STOCKHOLM - NOOOOOO!!!!!! I DON"T WANT TO GO HOME!!!!!! Luiggina said I could stow away in the walk in closet, but thought I might have some trouble when the next people checked into the room. Disembarkation was smooth & painless. Had room service breakfast that morning, and then an unrushed departure. Said our goodbyes to crew & passengers. Exchanged a few e-mail addresses/business cards. Grabbed a cab, and there we were at airport ? empty when we arrived. Was able to make changes to our flight home to get a better routing. NEGATIVES Hmmmm ? Not much, really. Definitely needs to be longer. 7 days was just not enough. As mentioned, an overnight in Helsinki would be good. And the trip really needed a Sea Day. Many people were tired after those 3 days in Russia, and a day "off" before getting to helsinki would have been nice to have. Due to the busy schedule, there was really no time to learn the ship. If I were designing the cabin, I'd use slightly smaller furniture in the sitting area. There were 2 large chairs there ? one for the desk. These could havve been a little smaller which would have provided slightly more room & still been comfortable. I'd put the vanity where the writing desk is, and add more room by having no vanity. But since I am not designing the cabin, I'll gladly go back again as is! Fortunately, I am short, or I'd have had problems in the shower. I think anyone 6' tall will have trouble hitting their head. Why'd they make the tub so high? I have heard people talk about how high the tub wall is, making it difficult to get in. I found no problem there, as the tub is the same height as my tub at home, so I am used to that. As is clear, I am afraid I may have been spoiled for good by this ship. I'll have to go back again soon to confirm my belief that this was an Incredible Cruise!September 2002 Read Less
This review is of the Seven Seas Mariner cruise from Nice, France to Rome (Civitavecchia) Italy, September 15 to 22, 2002. For convenience of the reader, this review is divided into topics of PRE CRUISE ACTIVITIES, SHIP DESCRIPTION, brief ... Read More
This review is of the Seven Seas Mariner cruise from Nice, France to Rome (Civitavecchia) Italy, September 15 to 22, 2002. For convenience of the reader, this review is divided into topics of PRE CRUISE ACTIVITIES, SHIP DESCRIPTION, brief ITINERARY comments, descriptions of our POST CRUISE ACTIVITIES in Rome, and some brief FINAL COMMENTS; all to allow the reader to scroll to the topics of interest. PRE CRUISE ACTIVITIES Air travel for my wife and I was booked through Radisson. We had taken advantage of Radisson's sale on overseas business class seating and were glad we did. We left Oklahoma City on American Airlines mid morning on the 14th, and after the mandatory "hub stop" in Dallas, proceeded to JFK airport in New York to board a Delta flight to Nice. If you aren't familiar with JFK, it is an old "dinosaur" of an airport where little information or assistance is provided. We could find no signs or any indication of how to get to the Delta Terminal. When we asked people who worked in the airport how to get to Delta, they spoke to us in some language that had to be from outer space. Luckily, we found the Port Authority Police, and they took us to the proper terminal. With their kind help, we were able to find our gate in time, along with the many other guests on this cruise who were booked on this Delta flight. Unfortunately, our luggage, and that of many other guests, was not so lucky. It did not get on the plane to Nice, which we almost expected due our difficulties at JFK. The overnight flight to Nice was smooth and uneventful, and a great time to sleep in those nice business class seats. When we arrived in Nice about 9:00 AM we were greeted by very helpful Radisson representatives, who helped the many of us without luggage fill out the forms necessary to prompt a search. After we filled out our forms, we found out that many other Radisson guests had been routed with a plane change in Paris, where much of THEIR luggage had been detained by an impromptu baggage strike! The Radisson personnel certainly had their work cut out for them as to this luggage problem, and through their hard work were able, I believe, to get everyone's luggage to them on the ship by the next day. But while Radisson personnel were handling this higher priority problem, the matter of managing the hospitality room at the West End Hotel in Nice was necessarily "put on the back burner". As a result, when we arrived at this hospitality room, only large crumbs of what had once been breakfast remained. Not even any coffee! The food was not voluntarily replaced by the hotel staff (not an unusual event in Europe, I might add), and the Radisson personnel were engaged elsewhere in the more important task of chasing lost luggage, and weren't present to direct hotel staff. It didn't matter much to us, because we had already had breakfast on the plane. Considering the efficiency of Radisson staff in taking care of the more important luggage problem, the lack of food was a small problem at most, and I was ready for a drink anyway to take some of the edge off the worries about our lost luggage. SHIP DESCRIPTION As usual for Radisson, this ship was in perfect condition, with no signs of wear or deferred maintenance anywhere. She is actually a fairly large ship. Imagine, if you will, a ship of the size the would be set up for 1200 to 1700 guests on the "mass market" lines, but it is instead set up for only 700 guests. We were in cabin 735-in the "cheap seats". Nonetheless, the cabin was a 300 sq. ft suite with a walk in closet, separate living room and balcony. All the rooms on all the floors were the same, until you got to the large suites. It just didn't make much sense to us to pay more for exactly the same room on a higher deck. The layout of the ship was easy to navigate, and lines and crowds were nowhere to be found. There is a much discussed problem with headroom in the showers in the suites, which are in the tubs. Taller guests complain of bumping their heads on the ceiling while showering. I brought along a carpenter's tape to quantify this problem, to help prospective guests know if they are too tall for the showers or not. Within the living and sleeping areas of the suite, the ceiling is 6'11" high. In the marble bathroom, the floor is raised another 5", giving 6'6" headroom. Then, the floor of the bath tub is raised another 5", giving 6'1" of headroom in the showering area. If you are well under 6'1" as we are, there is no problem. If you are over this height this is something to consider in your ship selection. The shower head could be taken off and moved around, so I assume this is how the taller passengers manage to shower. This was our second favorite suite at sea, second only to that on the Navigator which has a separate shower stall with headroom of about 6' 6". Otherwise, there were three self service laundries onboard, each with a pair of washers and dryers, soap, an iron and ironing board. We found these most handy at the end of the cruise as we prepared for our stay in Rome. The decor of the suites is fairly warm, with considerable wood trim, arches, and draperies. The public areas are more contemporary and stark, with touches of Art Deco. As usual on Radisson ships, the Compass Rose is the main restaurant. Another restaurant called "Latitudes" offers pacific rim fare. The "Signatures" is the Cordon Bleu restaurant, and La Veranda tends toward Italian fare. Latitudes and Signatures require reservations, which should be made early in the cruise as they are quite popular. We ate only in the Compass Rose and Signatures, and though we are by no means qualified as food critics, we found the food excellent. There was one formal night with men evenly split between tuxes and dark suits, two informal nights requiring a jacket for men, but no tie, and four country club causal nights. Even though these didn't require a jacket, I noticed most men wore one over their sports shirts, without tie. My "fearless prediction" is that this is eventually become the men's dress code for all evenings, except on tropical cruises where jackets are too warm. Nightly entertainment was offered in the Constellation Theater, as well as in other lounges around the ship. We heard all was quite good, but experienced none ourselves. This was a very "port oriented" cruise, and we "old folks" needed to rest up for the next day's activities! The seas were very calm, giving us no indication how the Mariner handles rough waters. However, there was no vibration because her "Mermaid" electric engines are mounted outboard in insulated pods below the stern to drive the screws, eliminating the screw shaft that usually runs to the stern near the bottom of the hull, which is the source of most vibration on other ships. There was also no side to side "roll" indicating the stabilizers were state of the art. ITINERARY This is but a brief comment on ports, and our own activities there. NICE was only a boarding point, as we had no pre cruise stay there. It looked quite inviting, however. Because our luggage had been "detained" by an airline or airport problem mentioned above, Radisson washed any clothing we might have that needed it on a complementary basis. MONTE CARLO in the Principality of MONACO is a picturesque city state rising on the mountains from the Mediterranean. We "flushed" about $5 Euro down the slots in the grand casino, and toured the areas on our own by foot. Later, I went on the ship's tour of the Prince's car collection, which is not to be missed by any car buff. The tour operator abruptly canceled, and was promptly fired via phone by the Tour Director, who immediately arranged for cabs. In Radisson style, the tour delay was no more than five minutes. PORTOFINO is a small Italian village on a bay in the Mediterranean, that is everyone's idea of what Italy looks like at its best. We toured it on our own by foot, and will never forget it. The Italian ice cream, gelato, which is available there is outstanding. LIVORNO is a major port and industrial center of Tuscany, and therefore is not the major attraction in the area, which includes Florence and Pisa. We chose the latter, via excursion from the ship. We just had to see that leaning tower. Many of those who chose Florence reported long lines to see the major attractions there, and it was crowded enough in Pisa. SORRENTO provides fairly close access to Capri, Pompeii, and the Amalfi coast. My wife saw the latter, while I visited Pompeii. It's a toss up between historical significance and natural beauty. This area is also known for "Lemon Cella", a liquor made from the huge lemons grown there. If you try it, you'll buy some. VALLETTA, MALTA is a separate English speaking country, The architecture of the city displayed its Moorish roots. The only problem is that it is apparently the custom in Malta to close and open establishments such as government buildings, museums, and stores on whim. We toured this area independently, and found many of these sites closed, for no apparent reason. NAXOS, SICILY returned us to quaint Italian hillside architecture. We toured via cab, which is better than by bus in this area, as many streets are very narrow. A highlight was part of the area where the film "The Godfather" had been made, and a small church which was mostly carved into a rock at the top of a cliff. CIVITAVECCHIA was the final port, where we were taken by bus the 60 miles or so to Rome for our stay at the Bernini Bristol Hotel for a two night stay before our return. POST CRUISE ACTIVITIES We arrived at the Bernini Bristol Hotel in Rome, booked through Radisson, about 1:00 P.M..and had to wait until 3:00 for our room to be ready (why do hotels always do this?). We walked to the Tevi Fountain to throw in the mandatory coins. But, despite the song, don't throw in three unless you want a divorce, according to local legend! Then, good news: we were upgraded to a suite at the hotel. Most of our touring in Rome was done the next day. We and two other guests from the ship had booked a limo and driver through Bob's Limousine Service. In an 8 ½ hour tour, we saw most all of the major attractions (St. Peters, The Vatican, the Pantheon, the Coliseum, and too many others to mention). Our English-speaking driver knew just when the lines would be shortest at each attraction, and also knew of several out-of-the-way sites we enjoyed as well. The cost for this fine tour came to only about $110 per person, including well-deserved tip. We can't recommend Bob's Limousine Service highly enough. Reservations can even be made via email at bobfraz@libero.it. Early the next morning, we were met by a Radisson representative, a driver, and a Mercedes sedan for our trip to the airport for our return flight home. The representative was most helpful in arranging for luggage handling, and walked us to security. We awaited our flight in the business class lounge and saw a full rainbow out the window through the only rain we had seen on this trip. It seemed fitting after this great cruise and vacation. Radisson had booked us on Lufthansa business class with a change in Munich, a continuing flight to Chicago, and an American Airlines flight to Oklahoma City. The flight was uneventful, despite extreme security screening in Munich and a bit of a long layover in Chicago. FINAL COMMENTS While this trip involved problems of lost luggage and shore excursion difficulties, none of which were Radisson's fault, it was reassuring to see how quickly and well Radisson resolved these problems. As a result, our enjoyment of the cruise was not diminished in any way. My experience with other lines I've taken in the past frankly scares the heck out of me when I think of what the result of the lost luggage problems would have been, had we been on one of those other lines. We, along with most other seasoned travelers, believe that the true test of a cruise line's ability to provide service occurs not when nothing goes wrong, but when it does. The test is then how quickly and how well the problem is solved. Here Radisson passed with flying colors. November 2002RichHRuth@aol.com Read Less
"Early in life I knew the sea would be not only my career, but my way of life. After being a captain for seven years I still love this life and the sea even more. After only a few weeks on leave from my ship and the life on board, ... Read More
"Early in life I knew the sea would be not only my career, but my way of life. After being a captain for seven years I still love this life and the sea even more. After only a few weeks on leave from my ship and the life on board, they seem to be calling me from the sea to return." Captain Jean-Francois Cotis, Seven Seas Mariner Radisson's Seven Seas Mariner - Review: A mariner is someone who makes a living at sea as a navigator or sailor - at least someone who spends a great deal of time at sea. The Seven Seas is an informal term for all of the oceans of the world ... Mariner and Seven Seas are a natural mix of terms. Thus, born for voyages at sea was Radisson's Seven Seas Mariner. This is a sleek plush ship navigating endless passenger voyages beyond each new and adventurous horizon - just beyond. Departure: From the bow, salty cool air sprayed my hair as dusk ensued. I envisioned the narcotic enticement that lures mankind to the sea. Surely for centuries the sea has been like seductive sirens calling to ancient seamen. The seas can be inviting and placidly temperate, or surly and tempestuous - but those shimmering horizons beckon - "Come to the sea ..." a primal urge to see and explore comes from the soul of those who love the sea. Today it is no different, for the sea is still that haunting temptress. This would be a wondrous adventure in many ways - exciting - I was at sea again! On a brisk fall day the sleek ship departed the ancient former city-state of Venice, Italy. Our voyage was in search of ancient wonders throughout the Adriatic, Tyrrhenian and Mediterranean Seas. It was appropriate to seek ancient wonders departing from Italy. Italy was the central focus hundreds of years for the dominating Roman Empire. Roman antiquities are all about this region for a thousand miles. We would end this voyage 11 days later in Barcelona, Spain another Roman bastion. Ship: The Radisson's Seven Seas Mariner was launched in 2001 in France. She is 50,000 tons at 709 feet. She is the elegant all-suite, all balconied ship, and this is a statement of finer - if not the finest cruising available. Four dining options including Signatures, which is dedicated to the world-famous Le Cordon Bleu cuisine, plus the welcomed open-seating ambience in the Compass Rose main dining area. Dine where you like, and with whom you like! The Allure: Pampering at the Judith Jackson Sea Spa might be one way to enjoy the day, and perhaps breakfast on your balcony. Need a slow pace? - try dinner in your suite from a restaurant menu - not merely a room-service only fare. Want to really go lame with relaxation? Visit the comprehensive library of books, games, and VCR movies and enjoy the ambience of your suite tonight. Guests have the benefit of an array of complimentary beverages in-suite, and fine table wines with dinner. There is no need to keep checking your cash available, as gratuities are completely included in the cruise pricing, and this is convenient and well received by patrons. Guests are appreciative of the cut-above quality of the Seven Seas Mariner. We have found highest standards likewise on Radisson's Paul Gauguin, which is stationed in the paradise of Tahiti year-round. Guests enjoy a port intensive itinerary offering quality excursions and on-board entertainment plus guest lecturers. Our venue included timely audience interactive lectures from former CIA director (1977-81) Admiral Stansfield Turner. Space galore: If you are not extremely aware of today's ships at sea, you might not know that a number of ships that are approximately the size of the Seven Seas Mariner carry nearly 1,100 people. The Mariner's full capacity is 700 persons: 50,000 tons at 709 feet with only 700 persons at most on 8 passenger decks - this is an equation for space aplenty! With several lounges about the ship, the library, spa, deck activities, your own spacious and inviting suite, it is common to wander about the Mariner and find pleasant nooks in almost solitude. Imagine cruising without the masses around and beside your every move - space, glorious space! This seems like a real vacation! This is what you really had hoped cruising would be. If you must mentally take your family and business along, the very cost friendly staffed Internet Cafe ensures keeping abreast is cheap and easy. A 1,000 word e-mail was one $1.00. Are you seeking entertainment or music to enhance an evening? Just follow the daily directory to your personal enjoyment. Your evening may include fine shows in the elegant Constellation Theatre, or casual socialization in the Mariner Lounge. What about a star-lit stroll on the decks in the fresh sea air? Your cabin: Seven Seas Mariner offers the very nice, to the unbelievable in the all-suite accommodations. Suite space starts at a generous 301 square foot Deluxe Suite with fine wood finishes and including its own balcony - of course. Cabins also have a sitting area, well appointed marble baths and walk-in closets, TV/VCR, and a stocked mini-fridge with an array of complimentary refreshments. It seems this beginning category resembles but surpasses many ship's upper tier facilities. From the Deluxe Suite it only gets better and more spacious. The next level up, and quite popular, the Penthouse Suite boasts 449 square feet. And there are increasingly larger suite choices up to the mind-boggling and breathtaking ... The Master Suite for larger families or a small group traveling together has an unbelievable 2002 square feet - larger than many homes. It has two bedrooms, plus pull-out beds, and two large balconies - one to the rear, and one to the starboard side of the ship. This colossal suite is accompanied by butler services. Itineraries: Our itinerary from Venice went to a former Soviet domain of Croatia. Split, Croatia offered excellent ancient structures amidst a bustling community and its outdoor markets. Other ports included the country of Malta near Africa, then back to Italy's opposite side for a Florence or Pisa stop - then on to Sardinia, Marseilles, France toward one of our favorite cities, Barcelona, Spain. Radisson's Seven Seas Mariner will take on an exciting routing system this year when the new sister ship, Seven Seas Voyager, sets sail. The Voyager will have the warm season in Europe from the Mediterranean to the Baltic, and the Seven Seas Mariner will be closer as it spends this year's warm season in the pristine Alaska route. Both ships will offer the same standard of luxury and excellence no doubt. This year discriminating cruising enthusiasts will have an alternative to the massive ships that ply the temperate rain forest paradise - Alaska - they will have the Seven Seas Mariner as an alternative. Or opt for the new Seven Seas Voyager for European explorations during warm months. Overview and critique: We found the highly superior aroma packed Arabiaca bean taste in coffee available only in the specialty restaurant. When we asked the chef about this, we were told each dining facility has its own measurements and brewing standards - to us good coffee is brewed not too overly strong featuring aroma, not pure caffeine - a personal daily delight we would have loved in every dining option. I discussed with the Hotel Director, Oliver Hammerer, about how superior the gym, showers, sauna, and steam room facilities were, but that there were no hairdryers in that area to enable one to go directly about the ship with dry hair, and he advised that they would be installed within two weeks at most - thus this is now a mute issue. I also added my comment that on both the Paul Gauguin and Seven Seas Mariner the luscious complimentary bath and body products in-suite by Judith Jackson featured only the lotion named Citresse (citrus aroma), which many guests found too strong in scent. We suggest the Judith Jackson alternative 'Tenderly' hand & body lotion a more familiar scented luxury product as an second option. Aside from our coffee niche, the gym hair dryers, and lotion scent - we would be hard pressed to find any substantive fault with Radisson Seven Seas Mariner - this is a quality managed cruising experience. Mariner's crew and service are superior, and the cuisine is quite nice. Overall we found Radisson's Seven Seas Mariner a special memory, and one that equals the fondness we felt for the Radisson Paul Gauguin. These are ships with which to reward your life, marriage, and personal vacation dreams. There is the ordinary or usual, and then there is that which is extraordinary - Radisson Seven Seas Cruises has earned her 5-6 star ratings - with hard work and excellent management standards. Your local trusted personal travel agency can help you seek any available specials, upgrades, or other promotions Radisson may be offering. It never hurts to aggressively ask for a discount or upgrade when cruising is on your vacation menu. My imagination can only envision what Radisson wonders await on voyages not yet taken on seas not yet explored ... perhaps someday special yet to come! "Those who live by the sea can hardly form a single thought of which the sea would not be part." The Spell, by Hermann Broch (18861951), Austrian novelist dkr@otherside.com April 2003 Read Less
I took my first luxury cruise on Radisson's new Seven Seas Voyager as a special way to celebrate my 50th birthday. With its large cabins, the Voyager is perhaps the most comfortable ship afloat. We picked an 11-night Baltic Sea cruise ... Read More
I took my first luxury cruise on Radisson's new Seven Seas Voyager as a special way to celebrate my 50th birthday. With its large cabins, the Voyager is perhaps the most comfortable ship afloat. We picked an 11-night Baltic Sea cruise that departed August 19, 2003. Having taken 20 other cruises on mass market lines, mostly Princess and Celebrity, I was afraid that once I stepped into the luxury market I'd be so spoiled that I'd never want to sail on anything else. I could taste the caviar, lobster and champagne as I envisioned days of being pampered. Luxury cruises are expensive. Our cruises on Princess and Celebrity usually were in balcony cabins at about $300 per couple per day. The cruise on the Voyager cost $1000 per cabin per day, more than three times as expensive as our other cruises. Was it worth $1000 a day? Pour yourself a little champagne and read on to find out. At these prices you have to judge Radisson with a more critical eye. A deficiency that easily could be overlooked on a $300 a day cruise should not occur when you're paying $1000 a day. The one word that best describes the Radisson experience for me is inconsistent. The cabins and personal attention were wonderful. It was great not to have to wait in line for anything and have servers bring you any food or drink you wanted. But the food was disappointing and the service not quite what it should be at these prices. Embarkation: Even though they say boarding begins at 3PM, you can board as early as 11:30AM. You're met by one of the cruise staff, given a glass of champagne and escorted to a lounge to check in and have a security photo taken. Then you can have lunch at the pool grill or sandwiches in some of the lounges. There's no hot lunch available except for what's cooked on the grill, hamburgers, chicken, and steak sandwiches. The rooms are not usually ready until about 2:40PM but you can tour the ship while you wait. The Ship: The Voyager is one of the best ships afloat in terms of passenger comfort, 49,000 tons and only 700 passengers. Other ships that size could carry up to twice the passenger load. To fully appreciate the Voyager you have to venture inside. From the outside, the ship looks like so many of the newer floating hotels. Not much on the outside appears special. It's painted all white. There is not even much of a promenade deck. With no chairs, it's really just a place to duck outside for some fresh air if you happen to be on deck 5. The centerpiece of the ship is an atrium that goes form deck 3 all the way to the top on deck 11. The Voyager is furnished in an elegant but simple fashion. There's not much to wow you until you enter your suite. The Suites: This is where the Voyager clearly leaves other ships in its wake. The minimum suite is a 300-sq. ft. cabin with an additional 50-sq. ft. balcony. There is more than enough room for two people. The sitting area has a full size sofa with two additional chairs and a small table. There's also a desk and bar in the sitting area, and a small vanity by the bed. The bathrooms are fabulous -- full-size and marble, there is a separate shower, bathtub, and large sink with plenty of storage space. There's also a walk-in closet with enough hangers and room for everyone's clothes. And there are cushions for your two lounge chairs on the balcony. And remember this is all in the minimum cabin. The Food: When I did a little on-line research before the cruise, passengers had said the food on Radisson was on par with Celebrity. This surprised me since, at these prices, I felt the food should be a lot better than on Celebrity. It was not. The overall quality of the food was my big disappointment on the cruise, the only area that did not meet expectations. The food was inconsistent. A few of the meals were the best I've ever had on a cruise ship. Others were major failures. There are four restaurants on the Voyager. The Compass Rose is the main dining room, with open seating. Show up anytime and eat with whomever you wish to dine. I never saw anyone waiting for a table. And there are plenty of tables for two for those who don't want to eat with others. While the food at Compass Rose is certainly good, the menus and preparation of the food left a lot to be desired. We felt much of the food was overcooked or not seasoned properly. The meals our first two nights in the Compass Rose were so unmemorable that we didn't eat there again until the final two nights of our 11-night cruise. On the second night, which was formal, they served Beef Wellington and lobster tails. Both were disappointing. The beef was overcooked and the lobster tails were very small baby lobster tails that lacked texture and flavor. I've had much better Beef Wellington on Princess and better lobster tails on every other cruise I've taken. They didn't even stock regular lobster tails, only the baby ones. This was very surprising for a luxury cruise. On the last formal night the waiter forgot to serve the sherbet course to our entire table. To their credit, they did accommodate special requests for cherries jubilee and baked Alaska. There are two specialty restaurants that require reservations. Signatures is a gourmet restaurant, part of Le Cordon Blue. Its philosophy is the exact opposite of Burger King. At Signatures you have to have it their way. No substitutions, no special orders. But there's plenty on the menu to satisfy almost all tastes. For the most part, the food is very good to excellent and presented so artfully that I took pictures of some of the dishes. By the way, the dress code for Signatures is always at least semi-formal, even on causal nights. The other specialty restaurant is Latitudes. Here, they serve different dishes from different restaurants around the United States. Everyone eats at the same time, 7:30PM. Your only menu choice is between two main course items, usually a meat and fish. At Latitudes we noticed the greatest inconsistency. This is where I had both the best and worst dishes ever on a cruise ship. Some of the food is truly excellent. A shellfish soup and a fillet mignon in a wonderful sauce were the highlights of the food part of the cruise. But on our second visit and with a different recipe, the same excellent cut of fillet mignon was not properly seasoned and served on top of a puddle of bland beef consume. The unanimous opinion of the six people at our table was that the beef turned out bland and tasteless. It was as if the chef had not even bothered to taste it. Deserts also were inconsistent. A pecan pie was overcooked and tough. Some tips for making reservations at Signatures and Latitudes. If you want your choice of times and days, make your reservations as soon as they start taking them at 3PM on the day of sailing. They'll only let you make one reservation for each restaurant. But you can book a larger table and invite someone you meet later. After a couple of days when everyone has had a chance to make their first reservation, they will let you make a second one. If they do fill up you can always try for a cancellation. We ate in Latitudes two nights when there were at least 10 empty places for people who had made reservations but didn't show up and neglected to call. If you have a hearty appetite, beware of any dishes where the meat comes sliced. The polite term would be to say the portions are "delicate." In other words, they're small. We had three different meals of sliced veal, sliced duck breast and sliced Chateaubriand that amounted to no more than 2-3 ounces of meat in a serving. You should have seen the expression on my face on the last formal night when I ordered Chateaubriand and I got a plate with two small 1/8-inch thick slices of meat. The entire table asked for more meat which the waiter brought after a wait that seemed too long. The fourth restaurant is La Veranda, always casual and with an outdoor seating area. We only ate there twice, although some people felt this was the best food on the ship. Its theme is a Mediterranean Bistro. Humus and chunks of Parmagiano cheese await you with bread on the table. The atmosphere is warm and inviting. Much quieter than Compass Rose. Here the appetizers are served buffet style, and the waiter brings your entrEe and some deserts. Other deserts are available from the buffet. On the whole, I thought the food in La Veranda was very good. They had an excellent lamb shank, and I don't even like lamb. But others at our table were not as impressed by the food here. To be fair about the quality of the food, I spoke to many people on the cruise that were delighted with it. They loved every bite. It's interesting how two people can experience the same meal and come away with two completely different impressions. But I was not alone in my feeling that the food was inconsistent. Everyone in our core group of eight passengers felt the same way. And while the quality of the food wasn't always excellent, the presentation was beautiful. The Drinks: All drinks at meals are complimentary. However, except for wine with dinner, they don't tell you the drinks are free. They never offered a pre-dinner cocktail or an after dinner drink. But they are free if you ask for them at the dinner table and the waiters will bring them. This applies in all restaurants. Non-alcoholic drinks are always free anywhere on the ship. Upon arrival you select an in-room bar set up of two bottles of liquor or wine. You also get two cans of beer and mixers, soft drinks and bottled water. The non-alcoholic beverages are replaced as needed. To our surprise, we found that, other than water, we really didn't drink anything in our suite. There are so many opportunities to drink elsewhere on the ship that we didn't have much of a desire to drink in the room. I ended up lugging the two unopened bottles of liquor back home. Radisson does not seem to make much of a profit on drinks. The most expensive glass of red wine we ordered was $5.50 and most cocktails were no more than $4.75. I know people have suggested that Radisson just go to an open bar policy. But they would have to raise cruise fares to do it and those who don't drink would end up further subsidizing those who do drink. I would suggest a compromise that would give passengers a choice of the in-room liquor or a shipboard credit. A $50 bar credit would have been more use to us than two bottles of liquor we never had time to drink in the room. The Service: It was always prompt, professional and attentive. With a ratio of 1.5 passengers to 1 crew, the ship excels at service. Even tables in the buffet restaurant are set with table clothes and silverware. Same for tables in the Horizon Lounge at teatime. As soon as you sit down at a table anywhere, someone is usually quick to come to take a drink order. But as good as the service was, there is still room for improvement. Only about a quarter of the time did the serves make an attempt to address me by name. Almost every time I was drinking soda, I had to ask for a refill, instead of the server coming to me to ask if I wanted another one. And in only one case did the server bring a refill without asking or being asked. The room stewardess and her assistant were very professional in doing their jobs. I never had to ask for anything for the room. But again, they never made an effort to address me by name in the 11 days of our cruise. They only would say "good morning" or "have a nice day" when we passed in the halls. I've taken cruises on Princess and Celebrity where the room steward was calling me by name on the second day. These are small points but they are important if you want to be the very best. The Lounges: They are all comfortable, pleasant and simple. Not much leather or glitz. Most of the chairs are cloth. The Constellation Theater is the main show lounge. There always were seats available. The Horizon Lounge featured afternoon tea and evening dancing. The Observation Lounge was my favorite, on deck 11, glassed in and overlooking the water. A quiet place to have a drink or tea and watch the ship sail. There is also the Voyager Lounge outside the entrance to the Compass Rose. Great for a drink before dinner, it turns into the disco later. The Staff and Crew: Cruise director Barry Hopkins was excellent. He and his staff made an effort to chat with and get to know everyone. I felt the ship's management was accessible if anyone had a problem. The Captain also seemed accessible and was on the bridge to answer passenger questions during the two sea days when the bridge was open for visits. Entertainment: The 10 singers and dancers who did the three production shows were excellent. The rest of the shows in the main showroom were a bit spotty. I felt some of the entertainer's acts were not good enough to sustain an entire show. But you really can't expect to have all top acts on a smaller ship. There was also an on board enrichment lecturer who many people thought was great, even though I didn't get to hear her. And the cruise director Barry Hopkins did a couple of lectures himself, on digital photography and the Royal family, which were popular and entertaining. Internet Access: Available in the top suites and in the Internet cafe. The price for surfing the net is very reasonable. You're charged only for actual downloading time. It's less expensive to use a web-based mail account like Hotmail than to use the ship's email address. With the ship sailing full, there was sometimes a wait for a computer terminal. Laundry: Free self-service laundry, including detergent, is available on all decks. With only two machines per deck there sometimes was a wait. Dress Codes: On the Voyager there are three: casual, semi-formal and formal. I've concluded that ship dress codes really apply only to men. Women can wear anything but jeans. A black pantsuit can double for casual and semi-formal nights. Add a string of pearls and you can wear it for formal night too. So for the men, formal means tux or dark suit and tie. About half the men wore tuxes. Semi-formal is a jacket, tie optional. Most men wore ties. Casual means no jacket. About half the men wore them anyway. Tipping: This is a topic that seems to get people riled up. The policy on Radisson is that all tips are included in your cruise fare and no tips are expected on board. They even tell you on board that tips are not expected. Some people felt the need to tip anyway, sometimes up front, and believed they received better service. I didn't tip extra and my service was fine. However, as much as people don't like the hassle of tipping, I believe that you will never get service as good as you would get when the employee's income depends on a personal tip from you. Conclusions: Radisson is an excellent cruise line and I would sail it again. Some people have said it's like a floating Four Seasons resort. But I didn't feel that it was quite up to that level. The Voyager excels in its cabins, passenger comfort and service. In my opinion the food needs improvement. At these prices the food should be much better than the mass-market lines, not on par with them. What you're paying for on Radisson - and you're paying a lot for it - is a larger cabin, much more attentive service, not having to wait in line, and a more exclusive group of passengers. Whether you think it's worth three times the cost of a mass-market cruise is a personal choice. I wasn't won over completely. But I would like to sail a luxury line again. When I do, I think I'll try Crystal's new ship Serenity so I'll have something to compare with Radisson. Please feel free to email me if you have any questions. Read Less
Sail Date August 2003
It was our second trip on Radisson's Mariner, so we knew we were going to love the ship. We didn't have to take an airplane as we boarded in Los Angeles and returned to Los Angeles. Our cruise took us to Tahiti and her islands ... Read More
It was our second trip on Radisson's Mariner, so we knew we were going to love the ship. We didn't have to take an airplane as we boarded in Los Angeles and returned to Los Angeles. Our cruise took us to Tahiti and her islands and then to Hawaii and home. We had been to all the ports with the exception of Christmas Island. Three of our friends boarded with us for the afternoon. We requested hors d'oeurves to go with our complimentary champagne and they arrived almost immediately. Our friends were in awe of our cabin (Cat. C Penthouse Suite) as well as the ship. We toured them around and ran into some familiar faces from our previous cruise. They were so happy to see us, which made us feel very welcome. Captain Jean Marie Guillou also remembered us which was wonderful. After unpacking and a light dinner at the Veranda Cafe it was off to sleep. We had six days at sea and the weather was warm, as it was 90 degrees when we left L.A. We spent luxurious days at sea out by the pool area and the calmness of the ocean was remarkable. We were able to keep in touch with everyone at home from the computer room. E-mails were extremely reasonable. It was great to hear from everyone and know that things at home were status quo. The ship is wonderful and the staff even better. They don't know the meaning of the word "NO" Our cabin stewardess was a first timer, so we had some training to do, but she caught on. Food is excellent in every venue and the alternative restaurants are creative and fun. Complimentary wines are served at dinner and they pour very good wine. The head sommalier is very knowledgeable and will discuss the wine at length if asked. We didn't partake in the entertainment very often, but what we saw was average. The casino is small, but everyone has a good time. Since our cruise had so many days at sea, there were many seniors in wheelchairs and walkers. It wasn't an issue unless you were getting on or off the ship and the tenders. Most of the ports were tendered. There is a video library and each cabin has a VCR. There are also books that can be checked out on the honor system and a small library. the lounges are nice. the bar outside the Compass Rose restaurant was rarely crowded and we always found a seat. The Captain had several cocktail receptions and drinks were on him. It was very nice. Staterooms are all outside with verandas. They are well appointed and comfortable. The bathrooms have ample cabinets and storage. There are no separate showers, but I understand that the new ship, the Voyager has separate showers. There are walk in closets, down comforters and bath products as well as a hair dryer. Radisson is a very classy cruise line and we look forward to many more cruises with them. Read Less
Sail Date September 2003
Mariner - Chilean Fjords November 10, 2003 6 Nights - Valparaiso (for Santiago) to Ushuaia Olivia and I arrived at the Valparaiso port around 3:00 pm after our lunch in Vina Del Mar. Earlier in the day, we spotted the Mariner in the ... Read More
Mariner - Chilean Fjords November 10, 2003 6 Nights - Valparaiso (for Santiago) to Ushuaia Olivia and I arrived at the Valparaiso port around 3:00 pm after our lunch in Vina Del Mar. Earlier in the day, we spotted the Mariner in the Valparaiso port area during our tour from Santiago to Valparaiso. When I first caught a glimpse, all I could say is "It's Huge". I was immediately impressed by its size. OK so some out there are saying - well it's only 49,000 tons, where has this guy been? Well, not on cruise ships! My only cruise experience was this past March (2003) on the Paul Gauguin and that ship is about half the size (and I thought it was larger when I first saw it too (the Paul Gauguin that is). Anyway, we entered the port area and were dropped off by our guide and driver arranged through Travelsur.com by a lovely woman named Patricia Duffolcq. More on Santiago to Valparaiso land portion in a later review). We were unable to be dropped off directly at the ship. Instead we were dropped off at a pre-boarding area. Porters picked up our luggage and we were escorted over to the buses designated to take us to the Mariner. We met Marco from the Mariner's Club.com (Internet) (photos 377, 379 on www.ofoto.com - login Cruise@yahoo.com, password cc - Album: Chilean Fjords 1A). There was tight security here - apparently the President of Chile had just been there shortly before us. We were taken by bus to the Mariner about a mile away (photos 145-151 - same album). Our documents were checked outside the ship including passports. We were taken up the walkway to Deck 5 Reception. Deck 5 is one of the main passenger spaces - Reception, Tour Desk Mariner Lounge, Latitudes Restaurant, Compass Rose Restaurant, Constellation Theater and the important Cruise Sales office headed up by Brian O'Brien. I have an eye for details and noted a chair around the Tour office on the way to Reception that was pretty badly nicked up. I thought to myself...uh oh! This was a one off I am happy to report based on my 6 night stay this was the only badly nicked piece of furniture I saw. The ship is beautifully maintained and the furnishings are superb throughout the ship. We were checked in by Reception. I was checked in by Otto, a really knowledgeable professional. I was offered Champagne (how could I say no), turned over my passport, took a picture, was given my room key with mini wallet etc. I was then escorted to my Suite on deck 9. The Mariner standard suites are beautiful (pictures 156- 168). Each suite is about 250 square feet with a balcony about 50 square feet (2 chairs with pads and a table). Beautiful woods and furnishings, marble baths, walk in closet, living area, desk/bar area, 3 phones, stocked refrigerator (miscellaneous mixers, water and beer). My suite was centrally located near the Atrium. A couple of things about my room (again that eye) - the carpet seemed a bit frayed at the seams and the initial towel setup seemed a bit thin. The towel thing I discovered within a day or so was again a one off as all my subsequent towels were pretty thick and absorbent. I am not a fan of blue and the carpet in the suites is a lightish blue with a pattern (the color looks a bit faded). I really prefer the colors I have seen in the Voyager brochure - light tans. I guess it was less offensive than the brightish Red on the PG, though it does seem to work too. I wonder when the Mariner is refurbished if they will go with the same color scheme? Judith Jackson Spa toiletries are included in all the rooms (Shampoo, Conditioner and Lotion). There is cotton, and Q-tips as well. There are two plush robes, an umbrella (nice touch) and a shoehorn. There is a TV/VCR combo (there are audio and video hookups). I was on the starboard side of the ship and had great views of Valpairaiso (photos 152 - 155) Ship Tour Decks 5 and 6 After arriving to my stateroom I did the obligatory job of unpacking. Unpacking always seems to take less time than packing. After the unpacking - Olivia invited me on a tour of the ship. Here are my first impressions: Again, compared to the Paul Gauguin - this ship looked huge to me. We started at the lower levels of the ship and moved upwards. Deck 5 - Atrium/Elevators, Reception, Tour Office, Constellation Theater - Level 1, Latitudes, Mariner Lounge, Compass Rose. I was very impressed with the openness of the ship at the Atrium. On Deck 5 off the Atrium are the Elevators, Tour Desk, Reception, Cruise Sales Office and entrances to the Constellation Theater. The area is done in beautiful woods, glass, marble and chrome. The carpet - blue (enough said for me) - as well as the seating surfaces on the chairs in the area. The Atrium is open for about 8 or 9 decks - depending how you count them. It is very dramatic with 2 sets of stairs coming/going to each level. The Atrium lets a lot of light to the area, which gives it a larger, more open feel. The Reception and Tour Offices approximately the same size/style. Very efficient and utilize the round shape for the Atrium area in the design of the walk up areas (curved). The Constellation Theater. Beautiful, tasteful, yet glitzy and glamorous. Looks like it could hold 400-500 people with the second level included. I know when we were there for the Seven Seas Society party there must have been around 270 people on level one of the theater and it was not at capacity. Throw in the second level - and it must have capacity somewhere between 400 - 500 people. Carpet and fabrics on seating surfaces - Blue. Mariner Lounge - Beautiful/tasteful. Great place to have a drink before dinner at Compass Rose or Latitudes. Tan carpeting with Blue seating surfaces. Extensive use of woods for bar, paneling, room dividers (see small photo in Chilean Fjords 2 - photo 18 and 338). Latitudes - Special dEcor added for the South American trip. During our tour we caught the staff setting it up - final pictures of Latitudes with the Tango Theme - photos 12 - 17. We ate dinner there on night (more about that later) and one of the panels had "Ango" instead of "Tango" the T was missing. Now that I look at photo 16, the O is missing! There is a little waiting area off the Dining Room - photo 13. I guess this restaurant is mostly Asian Fusion most of the time. The normal dEcor is definitely Asian in style. Compass Rose - Beautiful, elegant, tasteful. I just loved this restaurant. It was quite large and spanned both sides of the ship. Central walking areas done in marble (blue - deep and beautiful)(see pictures 339 - 344). Beautiful etched glass, chandeliers, extensive use of beautiful woods and marble. Deck 6 - Atrium, Stars Nightclub, Club.com/Library, Conference Room, Garden Promenade, Connoisseur Club, Signatures, Horizon Lounge Second Floor of the Constellation Theater located here on Deck 6. Stars Nightclub - Photos 359 - 363. I think this is another great looking room. Very dramatic. There is a set of stairs leading up the Casino on Deck 7. Extensive use of woods, lighter fabrics on the furniture (gray), small dance floor, beautiful bar. Pictures of different "stars" on the walls including, Babs. Later in the cruise I noticed - not a lot of activity here....such a waste of a beautiful space. Club.Com/Library Area - This was one of my favorite areas. 15 or so computers, light woods, modern desks outside of the main computer room with three computers. Extensive video library. Great seating area to read books etc. See Photo at Chilean Fjords 3, number 72 and Chilean Fjords 1A, and number 378. Garden Promenade - Photo at Chilean Fjords 2, number 358. Art - Art for sale???? This stuff shows up all over the ship. Personally, I do not like the idea or most of the items for sale. The problem for me is that it takes away from the beauty of the ship. I liked the wicker chairs/tables in this area. People work on puzzles, relax/read etc. Connoisseur Club - I love this room and I don't smoke! Photos Chilean Fjords 2, numbers 345 -350. I loved he leather chairs, extensive use of woods and that cute fireplace! What a cozy, comfortable room. Horizon Lunge - Photos Chilean Fjords 2, numbers 351-356. Beautiful (everything on this ship is just beautiful/tasteful elegant!). Again, great woods, colors, and glass, which is placed to give a curved effect and lookout at the back of the ship. Teak deck and table chairs are accessible for this lounge. Signatures - Photos Chilean Fjords 1A, numbers 191 -199. Beautiful, glitzy, tasteful colors. I really liked this smaller intimate setting for dinner. Great colors - tans and the chair fabrics are in a light wine color. Beautiful woods, modern etched glass. OK....I am done again for a while! Decks 7, 11 and 12 Deck 7 - Judith Jackson Spa, Gym, Casino, Boutique, and Atrium Judith Jackson Spa - Beautiful full service Spa and Salon. The Spa has extensive use of marble and wood. The Spa rooms are off a central circular entryway with marble floor. Each Spa room is a pie shaped room. The Beauty Salon is off the Reception area. Gym - Good sized, emphasis on cardiovascular equipment. If you are looking for Free Weights, bench-presses etc. you will not find it here. They do have dumbbells. Over the years in my travels for business I have encountered gyms like this before. You just need to get a little creative with the dumbbells. They do have adjustable benches. There is a large Aerobics area with mats and inflatable balls. Great locations as the Gym and Aerobics area have windows. Casino - Nice sized Casino with a few tables (3 I think). There is a bar, Cashier's office and rows and rows of slot machines. Seemed to be a good size for the ship. I did go there twice and will talk about it later in the review. Boutique - Forget something? Need batteries for your camera? Lost your luggage and need to outfit yourself for a few days? Need some Le Cordon Bleu paraphernalia? This is the place for you. It's really a nice shop and has most of what you need and some other special high-end items like jewelry, expensive liquor etc. Deck 11 - Pool, La Varanda Restaurant, Pool Grill, Atrium Pool - Beautiful (and much larger than the Paul Gauguin!). Plenty of room to layout or sit at a table in the shade. 3 hot tubs and showers to rinse off. Pool Grill - Opens up a bit earlier than La Verandah. Great place to grab a quick bite before a shore excursion. La Veranda - Casual beautiful seating indoors and outside. Buffet type setups. I did think it was a bit cramped in the buffet area. Lunchtime here is a bit busy and crowded. I actually prefer to be served. We ate here once. Deck 12 - Observation Lounge, Jogging Track/Sports Area I really like this location just to see where you are and going. Extensive use of woods and glass. Large Bar. There is a plasma screen showing the route of the ship on a map. Great views covering about 180 degrees. Great location for viewing the glaciers in the Chilean Fjords in a climately controlled environment. This was a favorite place for many people in the Fjords. Will discuss later. Coffee and Danishes served in the morning. Jogging Track/Sports Area - Need to keep up on that jogging regimen? Need to practice your golf swing? Shuffle Board your thing? Up for a game of paddle tennis. Well this is the area for you. All done in Astroturf. This was also a great place to view the Chilean Fjords and Glaciers. Cruise Critic Meeting - Monday November 10, 2003 A funny thing happened to me (one of many on this cruise) after boarding the ship. I think I had just unpacked or something and was leaving my Suite to check my laundry (more on that later) and I was walking down the hall. A gentleman was walking down the hall and we passed. He turned around and came back and said - "Are you Todd Riley?" I said, "Yes are you Ken?" He said yes. It was Ngaire's husband. I recognized him from The VOF (Voyager - October 1, 2003 Venice to Rome) pictures from Marcie (petlover). Ken was going around delivering the invitations to the Cruise Critic Get Together in the Connoisseurs Club at 7:00 pm. We chatted for a bit. So before the Cruise Critic Get Together, I well, put a load of laundry in the machines across from my suite. Why? How could I possibly have laundry on the first night? Well, I traveled on a Saturday, arrived on a Sunday, had a few changes of wardrobes during this time and well, I packed light on whites to save space. So I thought - hey Laundromat across the hall - how convenient! Why pay when I can just run the washer and dryer across the hall. Let me tell you this was only one out of two times I could use the machines, That place was so busy - all the time. The second time I got to use it was at 12:15 am on another night. I didn't quite follow the washing machine instructions...apparently there is this prewash area on the dial that I used......normally a wash cycle was around 35 minutes or so....not for me - it was over an hour.....This delay pushed my timing right up to when I was supposed to be at the Cruise Critic Get Together....In the Laundromat it was like waiting for a kettle to boil. I moved the dial on the washing machine to skip a rinse cycle (1 of 3) so I could get the wash into the dryer. Mission accomplished and I was ten minutes late to the Get Together and I still had to go back and get the stuff out of the dryer in 30 minutes! So who was there in the Connoisseurs Club? First off this was arranged by countFlorida (Michael) - thanks Michael! Since I was late - everyone was there: Ngaire and Ken, Joe and Maryland (sansue), their friend Shirley, Carl and Dale (count di savoy), Michael (countFlorida) and Pat, Dave and Judy (non posters from the Bay Area ), Olivia (jhp) and myself (mp8shnt). What a great get together. Lots of laughing, talking about Cruise Critic, upcoming events - Canopy Adventure (later cancelled) and Chilotito Marino (what a blast that was!). The crowd started to thin a little past 8. I made one announcement to the group and that was the Todd Cosmo party in Ngaire and Ken's suite on Thursday at 6:30 pm. Oh I almost forgot to mention 30 minutes into this get together I had to run back to the Laundromat to get my stuff out of the dryer. By the way, these people in the Laundromat are ruthless - 5 minutes late and your stuff will be taken out of the washer and dryer. No pictures of the event - maybe Ken took some???? Olivia and I joined Ken, Ngaire, Dave, Judy and Michael and Pat at dinner in Compass Rose. I just love being able to walk up when you want and with whom you want and a table is yours - and no waiting! I do have pictures of the dinner (www.ofoto.com login as cruise@yahoo.com password cc. Photos 174-182. I can't remember the appetizers.... but I do remember the main - Filet Mignon. Ngaire taught me this...it was not on the menu - all I had to do was ask! The waiter was not sure, but did not come back to say no and it showed up! Also, I do remember the drinks - Grey Goose Cosmo, and red wine with dinner. The food was great and just my size. I am not a big eater and I find the portions on Radisson to be just right. I love the Compass Rose Dining room. It is so elegant and huge! So what did we do after dinner? Olivia and I ran to the Constellation Theater to see the Fiesta Latina show. What I saw (last 5 minutes) was quite good. Apparently the dancers boarded in Lima and had been practicing this new show for a few days. The theater was crowded and I noticed quite a few of the staff were present as well, including the Captain. Then it was off to the Casino. I tried my luck at Black Jack - $60 and 20 minutes later I was all washed up. Then it was off to bed. More later.... Tuesday November 11, 2003 - Mal De Mar, Quick Fix Facial and Seven Seas Society, and Signatures with Jos Coppers The day started off when I was wide awake at 6:30 am. I tried to go back to sleep but could not. I got up and thought - what to do???? So I got up and took some pictures of the scenery - nothing but water and fog. Go to www.ofoto.com sign in as cruise@yahoo.com and password cc. Look in Chilean Fjords 1A and photos 183 - 190. When we left port the night before I thought nothing of my seasickness preventative measures. The ship's first night sailing was very smooth. I did not go to bed with my Sea Bands on. I did not take Ginger Pills or any Bonine. The ship was moving in the morning. I ordered Room Service. I heard so many comments about Eggs Benedict on Cruise Critic I had to have that my first morning. I ordered that, fresh fruit, coffee and juice. The Room Service arrived quickly - within 15 minutes. I can never tell when it will arrive. I never order by placing the card out the night before for fear I want to sleep in and my food will wake me (or at least the Room Service Waiter). Room Service always catches me in the middle of something - a shower, shaving, brushing my teeth etc. This time I think it was shaving. The food was delivered, nicely arranged on a linen tablecloth and placed on the table conversion piece, which sits on top of the coffee table in the Living Room area. I actually put it out for the waiter. I had read a few reviews that mentioned them and knew where to look - under the sofa. So this must have been around 8:30 am or so. I knew something was wrong when I really wasn't interested in eating. But I tried anyway. I ate one of the Eggs Benedict, had the juice and coffee. The coffee tasted awful to me. I am not sure it was the coffee or the way I was feeling (I am pretty sure it was the way I was feeling as the coffee was pretty consistent on the ship). I could not eat the fresh fruit or the last Eggs Benedict I was just not hungry. Realizing that I might have a Seasickness problem.....I grabbed the Sea Bands and put them on.....I then took some Ginger Pills. None of these things helped the nauseous feeling that came over me......I was sick! It was all over in 3 episodes and 5 minutes. I then went for the big guns - Bonine. Feeling awful in my room that was moving - I decided to go to the gym.....why? Because if everything was going to be moving and making me uncomfortable I might as well be on the Stair Master and doing a work out. It would also keep my mind off the "situation". So off to the gym it was. I found the gym to be fine. I have stayed at hotels with much smaller gyms and I just make do with what they have. This gym is mostly dedicated to cardiovascular and aerobic activities. There are lots of treadmills, stair steppers, bikes etc. They do have dumbbells and I did use them creatively to get in some good workouts. My strategy or the Bonine really worked. I did not feel as bad at the gym. After the gym I went back to the room. Then the room attendants came. I asked them to please clean the room while I was in it. I would be sprawled out on the couch while they worked. With the door partially opened.....Olivia was walking by and spotted me on the couch. I explained to her the morning's events. She looked sympathetic. Olivia and I agreed to go to Compass Rose for lunch at 12:30 pm. I went to pickup Olivia at her suite at 12:30 pm and well, apparently she had not been feeling well since she left me earlier in the day. She too posted of this. Well, off to lunch we went. We both ordered light lunches! What else can you do during a sea day???? How about a Quick Fix Facial at the Judith Jackson Spa? That's exactly what I did. It was some sort of Lavender facial - 20 minutes. I looked at the menu for the facials and was not that impressed from a man's perspective. They really don't have any that are specifically for men. So the best I could find was the "Quick Fix". I kind of needed one based on the days earlier experiences....The facial is 20 minutes and is performed in one of their spa treatment rooms (the pie shaped ones described in my first impressions). Scrubs, lotions, etc and after 20 minutes I was done - $40. You know I really liked my Pual Gauguin experience better for the facial. The Paul Gauguin has the Clarita Spa and they have a 55-minute treatment for $65. I think the Clarita Spa is a better deal - at least for the facials. I think I took a nap after my facial and later got ready for Dinner with Jos Coppers - Hotel Director at Signatures and the Seven Seas Society party at 6:45 pm in the Constellation Theater. Invited guests included Dave and Judy, Ngaire and Ken, Celine - Hotel Concierge, Olivia and myself. We needed to RSVP with Reception! Pictures 191 - 199 in Chilean Fjords 1A album (I really like pic 199 - we were a really good looking group!). Dinner was at 7:30 pm and we all met at the restaurant. The attire for the ship that night was informal and well that worked out great because we were eating at Signatures, which has the same dress code. First was the Seven Seas Society Party in the Constellation Theater - Pin Provided. Funny thing about the pin is that I could not get the clasp off. So I went to the party with pin in hand until I met the Captain and Brian O'Brien. I asked if they could help. Brian could not get it off either, reached into his pocket and took out a new one. He was having troubles getting it out of the plastic and the Captain took out a buck knife and it came out. Brian still had a bit of a problem but managed to unclasp it and then put it on my suit. The party was crowded. There were about 270 people out of 440, which were Seven Seas Society members. There were appetizers and Caviar served. There were Bar Hosts and Hostesses passing out champagne as well as taking orders. I grabbed some shrimp and sat next to Ken and Ngaire for the event. I ordered a few Grey Goose Cosmopolitans. They were pretty good (but small - see next paragraph). Signatures gorgeous restaurant - more intimate than Compass Rose - Reservation only. See detailed description under First Impressions part of review. So I cannot remember exactly what I ordered that night but I know it was beef for the main - because out of 6 nights I had beef 5 nights and I believe most were Filets. The food was amazing as was service; never did I have to reach for salt or pepper to add to the flavor of the food. I thought it was quite good. Comparing to Apicius on the Paul Gauguin - I thought it was much better. This is the Le Cordon Bleu at Sea restaurant whereas the Apicius is the two Star Michelin Chef Restaurant by Jeanne Pierre Vigato. All I can say is that it was great as was the service. I had a great time with the company at dinner, Celine, Concierge, was to my left and Judy, to my right. Both great dinner companions. There was a little camera disaster at the table......I'll leave it photo - 195. Oh and I might as well add this here, the martini glasses on the Mariner - yes the whole ship - they are small, I mean small. These must be about 5 ounces total. This surprised me as the Paul Gaguin had hearty sized glasses - maybe 7 - 9 ounces. After dinner? I believe Olivia and I ran to the Constellation Theater to see the last part of the Jason Chase show. He's a comedian and sings. From what I saw - he was quite good. I actually met him a few times on board. Very nice gentleman. After that Olivia and I went briefly to Stars Nightclub - a rather sleepy place on the ship.....kind of odd for a nightclub! Anyway, there was a very charming bartender there - Mario photo 200. I think Olivia and I next went to Club.com for a bit to check Cruise Critic then it was bedtime. More later......... Wednesday November 12, 2003 - Puerto Montt, Chilotito Marino, Party in Suite 1000 I forgot to mention the buzz in the computer room on Tuesday afternoon concerning the Canopy Adventure in Puerto Montt. I had arranged for an independent tour to go to the Canopy Adventure by private van with guide for five people. The Canopy Adventure is basically platforms built onto high trees and steel cables that connect the platforms. Guests wear a harness that attaches to the steel cable and they go flying from platform to platform. I had never done this and was really looking forward to it. I convinced a few people to also do this the list included Ken, Michael (countFlorida) and his wife Patty, Dave and myself. This was arranged through Patricia Duffolcq at Travelsur.com. So the buzz in the computer room Tuesday afternoon was that the Canopy Adventure (Radisson's) had been cancelled. A slight panic took over me and I went to the Tour Desk to see if it was Radisson's tour company or the Canopy Adventure itself, which cancelled the trip. Well it was the Canopy Adventure Company that cancelled and not just Radisson. Apparently the owners of the Canopy Adventure had a dispute and started dismantling the Canopy Adventure by taking down the steel cables etc. What to do???? I checked my email and sure enough there was an email from Patricia Duffolcq explaining the situation and offering alternatives, including full cancellation. We decided to do a guided tour of Puerto Montt that Ngaire and Olivia were doing with Travelsur.com. I emailed Patricia back saying explaining that there would be about 6 people coming for the tour of Puerto Montt. I also explained we would be off the ship around 9:00 am by tender after most passengers with Radisson shore excursions had been transported to shore. So I woke up Wednesday morning very excited about basically our only port stop on this mini Chilean Fjords Segment. I started the day with taking pictures of Puerto Montt (pictures located at www.ofoto.com sign in as Cruise@yahoo.com password cc pictures 208-218 in Album - Chilean Fjords 1A although some are pictures of the ship's tenders being lowered, positioned, etc). I then ordered room service. I had the French Toast, Fresh Fruit, Coffee and Orange Juice (picture 207). When I called Room Service and placed the order I was told 30 - 45 minutes. No problem I thought, I'll just start getting ready for the day. I brushed my teeth, shaved, put in contacts etc. in less than 15 minutes so I thought I could jump in the shower....I had 15 - 30 minutes before breakfast. While in the shower I heard a ding dong. I thought, no that can't be....again "ding dong". Well, that time it was loud and clear.....Room Service was at the door. Damn! I put on a towel and ran to the door. I guess this is why my tray was left in my room as in picture 207 as opposed to the usual setup of taking out the coffee table adapter, placing a linen tablecloth down, neatly arranging all items on the table etc....I guess I did have a rather impatient look on my face when I opened the door for the Room Service guy. The French Toast, by the way is amazing, it's thick and has raisins in it. I had it a few times for breakfast - quite delicious! So I was ready for my shore excursion about 8:00 am. I called Patricia Duffolcq at Travelsur.com from my cell phone to make sure she was aware of the changes identified in my email and to let her know that we would be basically the last off the ship. She said no problem and that she would meet us as planned just outside the gates to the ports. I met up with the group (Dave, Judy, Ngaire, Ken, Olivia) before 9:00 am on Deck 5 near Reception. We were told that tender tickets would be issued for passengers without Radisson shore excursions and to wait in the Mariner Lounge. Basically, tickets were not needed and we were told we could take the next tender, which we did. We boarded the tenders from deck 4 (which is where the doctor's office is). We tendered over to the port and then walked up to the area where all the Radisson tour companies were. This is pictures 221 -223. This is where Lyn was talking to the local reporter for the Puerto Montt newspaper. Lyn speaks perfect Spanish and explained that we were here to do a shore excursion and go to Chilotito Marino restaurant where they have a web cam that our families and friends will be watching us from 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm local time. We continued out the port area and met up with our guide Patricia Duffolcq from Travesur.com. Patricia is pictured in photos 224 and 225, although these pictures do not do her justice. Patricia escorted our group to her van with a driver. Lyn and her husband Richard were going on a separate tour, also arranged by Patricai at Travelsur.com. The tour for the day was a local tour through Puerto Montt, traveling north through the famous lake district of Chile, pass the Osorrno Volcano, to the Petrohue Waterfalls, to Emerald Lake and Puerto Varas. The high point of this tour in my opinion is Petrohue Waterfalls. Pictures 275 to 305 at ofoto.com. The colors are amazing. Look carefully at the pictures - the water is aqua and emerald in color. We probably spent about 30 minutes here. We ran into the Radisson tour as well. This was definitely a better way to travel with a private guide and van rather than the Motor Coach way. We continued on to Emerald Lake pictures 306-320. This area of Chile is really beautiful and green. There are mountains and volcanoes, streams and rivers. This would be a nice place to spend a little more time in to explore. We really did not get to see the Osorno Volcano because it was a cloudy/foggy day. We continued on to Puerto Varas. Our guide Patricia, and her family live in Puerto Varas. We stopped for a bit in the local town and went to the Travelsur store - picture 328. This store is owned and operated by Patricia and her husband. I'll put it in here that Patricia arranges all sorts of travel in Chile. She arranged for car pickups at Santiago airport fro Olivia and I, local tours of Santiago, transportation and tour to Valparaiso. Patricia is also an expert fly fisher. Her family owns lodges that fly fishers frequent. She can arrange this and other adventures in Chile. Her website is at www.travelsur.com We stayed in town for a bit. Olivia and I had coffee. We then went to Chilotito Marino in Puerto Montt. Chilotito Marino - Photos located also in a separate album - Chilotito Marino!!!!!! Below are some threads from the Cruise Critic message board, which captures the anticipation of the event and the event itself (web cam) as well as the local newspaper article and picture. http://messages.cruisecritic.com/2/OpenTopic?a=tpc&s=927093444&f=797097554&m=8113045057&r=9543002557#9543002557 http://messages.cruisecritic.com/2/OpenTopic?q=Y&a=tpc&s=927093444&f=797097554&m=2783084657&p=1 http://messages.cruisecritic.com/2/OpenTopic?a=tpc&s=927093444&f=797097554&m=9093089657&r=4083000757#4083000757 Patricia dropped us off and made sure we found the restaurant. She wanted to get home so that she could watch the web cam event on her computer. There is a lot of information in the threads above; I will highlight a few things only: This was truly a special event that I will always remember. It was more than just the anticipation, the fact that this was the only web cam on the Internet in Puerto Montt, it was the warm, friendly, family like feeling that we all felt when we were there. We were not just patrons, not just guests, but felt like part of a large family. The food was truly amazing. I don't eat a lot of seafood, so I had the amazing and still talked about Salmon! There were two kinds. One was butter and the other was an onion and potato version. One thing I noticed was that I wanted empanadas. They were not on the menu as this was basically a seafood restaurant .....they went and got them from another restaurant in the same location just for us. There was music. They had arranged for a local singer to come in. There was dancing, lots of smiles and laughing. It was a truly amazing event. Giovanni presented a plaque to Lyn, a hand-embroidered cap to Richard and key chains to the rest of us (with our names on them!). While there we also had some Chilean wines, Pisco sours and after lunch aperitifs. Oh, and the local reporter with a photographer arrived to take notes and pictures of the event. We were there just 2 hours. At 5:00 pm we all headed back to the ship after saying our good byes to our new friends at Chilotito Marino. Back on ship by 5:30 pm and I went to the Club.com to read Cruise Critic. I printed out the threads from the day's event and noted 109 posts and over 1000 reads in about 2 hours! I printed out the thread and gave to Ngaire to bring to the party in her and Ken's suite - 1000. The party was at 6:30 in suite 1000. I had to hurry and get ready and was at suite 1000 a few minutes past 6:30 pm. The suite was beautiful - about 500 square feet with a 100 square foot balcony. There is a Living Room area, dining area, walk in closet and bathroom, and sleeping area. Basically, aside from the walk in closet and bathroom, it is a very open floor plan - great for entertaining! Pictures 385 - 396. There was a bar and bar tender, plenty of appetizers. The Captain, Hotel Director, Cruise Director were also present - I was quite impressed! Ngaire and Ken hosted a great party. Dinner was at Compass Rose. I know Olivia and I were there, not sure whom else we ate with because I did not take any pictures! Dinner was great.....as they all were at Compass Rose and I know I had probably the Filet Mignon. There was one night in Compass Rose where they had a mustard type sauce that went along with the Filet - perhaps this was the night. After dinner - not sure what we did - most likely to Club.com to read and post more about the Chilotito Marino. More later.... Thursday November 13, 2003 - Day at Sea, Todd Cosmo Party, Latitudes and Jackpots! Well the morning started with foggy, cloudy weather. I was up around 8:00 am and the ships lecturer Terry Breen was on the TV on the channel with the Cam View. She was talking about the Chilean Fjords. I believe this is the day that one or two penguins were spotted on both sides of the ship swimming. See photos at www.ofoto.com login as cruise@yahoo.com password: cc and go to album Chilean Fjords 2. I took photos 1-11 that morning (oh I will put it here, that using a digital camera it's so easy to take a lot of pictures. Not necessary to carry all that film along etc. I remember hat last time I had a 35 mm camera, almost 2 years ago, I would take about 8 - 10 rolls with me. I think you are a little more conscious of how many pictures you are taking with 35 mm because you need to stick another roll in every 24 or 36 pictures. Digital....well, I keep shooting for 500 then replace). These photos I think are pretty interesting with the fog and clouds hanging on the mountains and the gray tones in these pictures. Photo number 9 is my infamous penguin sighting - I think! I swear those little white and black birds on the island look like penguins. I blew up the picture as well, and those little birds do look like penguins. That morning I had Room Service and I am positive I was interrupted doing something like shaving when they arrived. I can never tell when they will show up. Sometimes I had an omelet, sometimes the French toast an only once the Eggs Benedict. I had a manicure after breakfast at the Judith Jackson spa. This was called a Lavender Manicure - $30 (seems high). Seemed like a regular manicure to me, but I am not an expert in this area. After the manicure it was off to the gym. After the gym it was lunchtime with Olivia. I think we went to Compass Rose. I really like wait service as opposed to buffets. Earlier in the week I had noticed Ludvic the maitre d' and remembered him from the Paul Gauguin in March. I mentioned to him I recognized him from the Paul Gauguin. At lunch he stopped (he is in photo in the Ludvic album at ofoto, this was during the muster drill - he is on the left) by and we talked about the Paul Gauguin. Apparently he was on the Paul Gauguin for 3 months to change the alternating Apicius set menu approach to a single menu approach. He asked my opinion of Apicius. I explained I had eaten there twice and had actually been to the Apicius in Paris in September 02. I explained I did not think the Paul Gauguins version compared to the restaurant in Paris. After lunch I went to the Reception area to ask for a converter plug for my computer. I was told they did not have any. I thought this odd. Not one on the ship? I pressed for a better answer. I was told in the rooms I could easily plug in my computer. I agreed, but I wanted the converter plug so that I could go to the Observation lunge to work on my computer. The Receptionist contacted engineering and a converter plug appeared! I did return the plug at the completion of my trip. So I went to the Observation lunge - virtually empty after lunch. I ordered a cappuccino and began work on the pre part to this review - the Santiago land portion. I spent about an hour and a half up there. I ran into Nathan - the bar manager at the bar in the Observation Lounge. He said everything was a go for the Todd Cosmo party in suite 1000 (Ngaire and Ken's). I asked about the preparations and indicated some people might not drink cosmos, and asked for wine glasses and champagne glasses - not a problem said Nathan. It thought that was great service by the way! The fact he saw me and made sure everything was taken care of for the party that night. I dropped off my computer to the room and went around taking some more pictures of the ship I took some pictures of Latitudes (numbers 12 - 17) as it was decorated for a South American theme. I ran into Ludvic at the Maitre D'station and asked about reservations at Latitudes for that night. No problem. I had the reservation made for four. I went back to get ready for the Todd Cosmo Party at 6:30 pm. I arrived a few minutes to Suite 1000 to check on the preparation for the Todd Cosmo party. Ngaire and Ken had graciously extended an offer to host the Todd Cosmo party. I gladly accepted, as their suite was much larger than mine. The Hotel had set up a bar, similar to the night before in the corner of the room near the walk-in closet. I brought the makings for a Cosmo (alcohol wise that is). I brought Grey Goose (purchased and donated by Olivia), Contreau purchased at Dallas Airport Duty Free. I also brought over a bottle of Chardonnay purchased by Olivia at the Veramonte winery outside of Santiago, as well as a bottle of the standard Radisson Champagne. Everything else was there and ready - Cranberry Juice, fresh limes and plenty of ice and appetizers (shrimp and other items) The party began promptly at 6:30 pm. 15 guests, including myself attended. Everyone had Cosmos. And not just one! I had a blast. I did a few demos during the party and Ken got behind the bar at one point (photo 40) and did the Todd Cosmo recipe as well! Oh what fun! We did a group shot (Carl and Dale arrived later and were not in the group shot). Other pictures during the party - numbers 24-41. Off to our dinner at Latitudes with Dave, Judy and Olivia. OK, I will admit it right here.....I knew better and asked anyway and was told "no". I was wrong. So we all get to dinner, sit down, menus are presented when it occurred to me - this is not going to work! Earlier in the week when Olivia and I were touring the ship we took a look at the menu - it was not going to work for me because it had Sea Bass and Veal as the mains. I don't eat either. Why - Chilean Sea Bass is over harvested and I have a problem with veal. I completely forgot. Oh well, the waiter comes and I do my attempt at getting another filet out of Compass Rose. The waiter sends over the Manager. I explained I wanted a Filet from Compass Rose (next door). I was told no because then everyone would do this. Fine, give me a plate of empanadas as my main I said. I enjoyed the meal there and the service was great. They served Veramonte wine as well (from that winery outside of Santiago - a nice touch!). After dinner??? Off to the Casino! Olivia and I went off to the Casino to try our luck. I put a $20 into a quarter slot and began playing. It was an interesting machine, if you got a certain combination on one line, you go to this big wheel and watch it spin until it lands on a certain number of quarters. Casino pictures 44 - 48. On the same $20 I hit a $160 jackpot - which I tool to the cashier and took the money. I went back and used the remaining quarters and hit an $80 jackpot. A lady came around and said she had been playing that machine for 3 days prior. All I could say is "I love this machine!!!!!". I cashed in the $80 as well and called it a night! Friday November 14, 2003 Day at Sea - My First Glaciers Sorry about the delay in posting my review segments....holidays, out of town guests and lot's to do at work. My day always starts with pictures it seems on this cruise! There was so much to see and this is where it became really interesting. This is where and when I saw my first glacier! (Pictures at www.ofoto.com sign in as cruise@yahoo.com and password cc). Picture 49 was how I began my morning. Gray, chilly (just about 50 degrees Fahrenheit). I took a few more pictures then caught a glimpse of my first glacier about 25 minutes later! I was AMAZED! Picture 53 is the Pius XI Glacier from a distance. This must have been around 8:00 am. I could not believe the color - even from this distance I could see the powder blue coloring even though it was still kind of dark and gray out. Then there was my first little piece of floating ice....picture 54 and it too had a distinct color to it - almost aqua/powder blue. Also look at picture 63....these floating pieces of the glacier glow! AMAZING! As we got closer to Pius XI there was more floating ice. I believe this glacier was 3 miles across and 26 miles deep. So since we were quickly approaching my first glacier experience I quickly ordered room service, got dressed and was up to the Observation Lounge as soon as I could - sporting Down Jacket, Scarf, gloves etc! I entered the Observation Lounge about 8:30 am or so and was amazed at how many people were there - it has to be about half the ship or about 200 people. This was definitely the place to be to watch this event, however, the place was not necessarily prepared for this crowd to descend upon it. There were only about two waiters working the area. There were danishes/pastries and different coffee posts set up. The coffee kept running out or they kept running out of cups.....but then again, everyone was there to see Pius XI. The observation Lounge was a great setting/location because you could go outside on the deck and take pictures for awhile and view the glacier then go back in to warm up and get coffee (well sort of!). I ran into everyone up in the Observation Lounge - Ngaire and Ken, Olivia, Dave and Judy, Joe and Marylyn, and Shirley. Ken took some pictures of me 86-88. Olivia ran up to make sure I had pictures taken with me and Pius XI - pictures 93-95. Olivia was all bundled up - Photo 102! The glacier was very impressive. If you look at the pictures, you can see two stripes. This is caused by the ice churning/carving into the land. The blue of the glaciers is caused by compression of the ice so that no oxygen exits in it. The captain used the Pods to turn the ship 360 degrees so that everyone could see the glacier from their suite or from anywhere on the ship. Pretty cool! Yes there are lots of pictures of this glacier. This is because it was the first and the other reason is that I was looking for the sun to hit the glacier to light it up some more - pictures 145 - 151, 155 -157, and 159 - 161. Then there were the pictures of me in my room beginning around 162.....I used a tripod! Then we left and proceeded through the Chilean Fjords. The scenery was amazing - snow capped mountains, waterfalls, islands, floating ice etc. I am sure after the glacier adventure I was off to the gym. Had to do my best to keep the weight off! Lunch on Thursday was at La Veranda. I had lunch with Olivia. We decided on La Veranda for variety. It's buffet style and I prefer to be served, but it was different. The one thing about this restaurant is that the food buffet areas seem a bit crowded. A little too cramped. Food and service were great. We occasionally ran into other glacier along the way that did not meet the water - see picture 208. Later in the afternoon we came upon Amalia Glacier - photos 215 to 224. This was a Semi-Formal night and I wore a suit. I met up with Ngaire and Ken in their suite for drinks. I took some pictures of the glacier in Ngaire and Ken's suite - pictures 246 to 268. This glacier too was very impressive. It looked like light blue cotton candy and extended for miles up the mountain. Dinner was at Compass Rose with Olivia, Ngaire and Ken, and Lynn and Richard. Food, Service and Company were great! Of course I had a filet for dinner - cooked to perfection and just my size! I cannot remember what we did after dinner! Oh well, it's possible I turned in early. More later. Saturday November 15, 2003 - More Glaciers, Webbed Foot Boobies and the SHHHHHH Incident The day starts off like most of the rest. Room Service, pictures (www.ofoto.com sign in as cruise@yahoo.com and password cc). Pictures 314 - 322 in the Chilean Fjords 2 album was the morning view. Well then I was off to the gym, with my camera because we were scheduled to be in the Gabriel Passage by 11:30 am (the captain was always early I think we arrived about 11:00 am in the middle of my workout). With Terry Breen beginning to describe the Gabriel Passage I decided to go up to the Observation Lounge and take more pictures of this event. I honestly cannot remember exactly why this area was important....maybe Ngaire, Ken or Olivia can add that part. What I do know is that there is a cross placed here (look at photo 336 it's easily seen here - look at the pics before and you will see me in my gym attire including shorts....it was a bit cold, but I was in the middle of a workout and we were early!). The cross has been replaced, I believe 3 times by the Chileans. After Gabriel's Passage and the gym I proceeded to take some more pictures of the different areas on the ship and more pictures of the wonderful scenery through the Chilean Fjords. Then it was time to get ready for lunch. I took a few more pictures of myself with the tripod in the room. Picture 374 (and a few more up to the 380's) is another one of those glaciers we passed that did not meet the water. Pictures 376 and 377 is Olivia waving from her suite's balcony. Lunch was at Compass Rose with Olivia, Lynn and Richard. You can't beat this place for lunch. Menus, wait staff and great company! During lunch we were talking about the rooms and Lynn and Richard wanted to see mine - they were in a Penthouse and wanted to compare and contrast. While there, I noticed some little birds adjacent to the teak on the balcony. I mentioned this and Lynn was the first out the door to save these little Webbed Feet Boobies. She asked for towels to wrap the little guys up (pictures 389 - 391). I called reception they said they would send someone up for the birds. Apparently these little guys had been there for a while. While waiting we decided to go see Lynn and Richard's room across the hall. We brought the birds with us. Pictures 399 - 400 were in Lynn and Richard's suite. I went back to my suite to meet the person from the ship who was to collect the birds. Found him and brought him to Lynn and Ricahrd's suite. He took the little guys to Deck 8. That's all he said....have no idea what they have going on down on deck 8. Pictures 402 - 405, 408, 416 - 417 and more in the 420's are of other glaciers that do not meet the sea. We seemed to be in glacier central now. Picture 409 is Olivia on her balcony. Pictures 411 - 415 this glacier actually touched the water and you can see ice floating in the water. And now we get to photo album Chilean Fjords 3 which starts off with the approach to the Agostini Glacier. There was a lot of ice on the approach to this glacier and the water was emerald colored. In this area you can also see a lot of waterfalls, although small. Pictures 1 through 49 are f this area. Look at the color of the floating ice in pictures 24 - 25....amazing powder blue! Photos 26 and 27 are interesting. It's a sea lion lying on the floating ice. He does not realize that a 49,000-ton ship is moving right in his direction basically until we were within a few feet of it. Dinner this evening was at Compass Rose with Olivia, Richard and Lynn. We were at a table adjacent to Ngaire, Ken, Dave, Judy, Michael and Patricia. Yes I had a Filet, Grey Goose Cosmo and red wine with dinner. Food and Service were great (no Denny's here!). After dinner it was Club.com. This can be such a fun place to hang out at night. It seemed like everyone was there this night. Lynn, Olivia, Ngaire, Ken, Dave, Michael and myself. Anyway, we were all looking at Cruise Critic, reading emails etc. I remember Olivia and I were over near Michael and we were reading posts, laughing and having a good time when out of know where this man (I nicknamed him - affectionately - gold teeth) "Shhed" us. I wasn't sure if he was kidding. Olivia asked him if he was kidding and he was not. Then another person shed us. It was rather funny. This place is not a library.....it's an internet cafe! Anyway, after a few incidents of shhing we took picture 92......we were laughing pretty hard by this time about the shhing! Then it was off to the suite to finish packing. Nice treat about this mini segment was that our bags did not have to be outside the suite by midnight! More later..... Sunday November 16, 2003 - More Glaciers, Ushuaia, and the long trip home My morning started out with the view off my balcony in photo #55 in Chilean Fjords 3 (www.ofoto.com, sign in as cruise@yahoo.com and use password cc) a glacier! Photos 55-60 are of this glacier. I did not really know we would have a glacier sighting first thing in the morning. It was kind of cool. Also, the Captain did the pod thing and did 360s for a while in front of this glacier. So this was the last day on the ship. I ordered room service and finished packing. Again, bags did not have to be out the night before. This felt like being in a hotel. All we had to do is call for a bellman when the bags we ready. Photos 61 - 69 are further views of this beautiful area as we make our way to Ushuaia. After breakfast and finishing the packing I was off to the Observation Lounge to get some pictures. Photo 70 is the flat panel screen with the location of the ship. You can see we were almost to the Southern most point. Again I could find just about everyone up on deck 11 inside or outside the Observation Lounge. Photos 88-91 are of the town of Ushuaia. Prior to disembarking around 11:30 am we had lunch up at the pool bar. Dave, Judy, Ngaire, Ken, Lynn, Richard and Olivia and I. This was the only place that served lunch at that time and we were disembarking at noon to catch our 2:00 pm flight to Buenos Aires. Lunch was Burgers, Chicken Sandwiches etc. We kept trying to get into the sun on the pool deck because it was probably in the low 50's. The pool staff brought over blankets for us to keep us warm while we enjoyed our lunches. A nice touch! Disembarkation - a breeze....there were only 4 passengers disembarking in Ushuaia - Ken, Ngaire, Olivia and I. We waited for the ship to clear formal access to the port (or whatever it's called). Then we were allowed to disembark. All our friends were there to say good-bye. As we were walking down the pier we ran into the Captain. He was surprised we were disembarking here....because it was not a scheduled point for disembarking. This was part of the min-segment that Ngaire had carved out of this larger South American adventure. Ngaire, Ken, Olivia and I took 3 cabs to the airport, mainly due to the size of the cabs and how much luggage we had (I swear it's the shoes and the down jacket, sweaters and sweatshirts for this trip!). Cute little airport just 5 minutes from the port by taxi. The rest was the 30 hours to get home. From my post from the ship on Cruise Critic: God I hope I spelled it right in the title! Anyway....we are about 2 hours from Ushuaia where there will be ONLY 4 passengers disembarking. Guess who they are??????? Ngaire, Ken, Olivia and myself! We then begin our adventures home. We are all on the same flights until Miami where Olivia is off to Philadelphia I think, then driving home from there. Ken, Ngaire and I then continue on to Dallas where they get off.....then it's just me on the way to Burbank. WHAT A LONG DAY! But I must say WELL WORTH IT! This has been an amazing trip in more than one way. It was a number of things: The people, the ship, the INCREDIBLE scenery along the way....For all those considering Alaska.....I kept hearing all throughout this adventure that this was more incredible than Alaska (I have never been to Alaska).....Do the Chilean Fjords! Amazing! From Olivia when she got home talking about the deviations: All guesses are wrong!!! We flew out of Ushuaia at 2:00 and got to BA around 5:30 or so. Then Ngaire and Ken found out about a direct flight to Dallas that just started last week. They gave up their Miami seats, and then it was announced that the Dallas direct flight was delayed, so they switched back to the 10 p.m. Miami flight that left for Dallas at about 9 this morning. Todd never got on that one, because there wasn't an aisle seat, so he went BA to New York and then to LA. I just stayed on my regular route, and all was on time. For me, 26 hours of travel time after getting off the ship. Wait for Todd's great pictures, especially of the restaurant. The warmth of the wonderful family at Chilotito comes shining through so brightly; you are going to love them! Oh, and the scenery!!!! And when I finally got home: I am home! I just got in from LAX. My total travel time was around 31 hours! YIKES! It started getting off the ship at 12 pm and taking that flight from Ushuaia to Buenos Aires. Then that deviation to New York then NY to LAX! 31 hours but worth every minute! I still have the pre portion to post about (Santiago) and I began that write up on the ship....I see if I can get it finished this week. This was an amazing trip. The scenery was incredible. The ship exceeded my expectations. But what really made the trip was the people I was traveling with. We had such a great time. I'd like to add special thanks to Olivia for taking great care of me on this trip and to Ngaire for carving out this special segment. Read Less
Sail Date November 2003
Review of Cruise aboard MS Seven Seas Voyager November 2003 My wife and I have previously cruised with Holland America (Maasdam & Veendam), Celebrity ( Mercury) and Cunard (QE2). In March of 2003 we were invited on a pre-inaugural ... Read More
Review of Cruise aboard MS Seven Seas Voyager November 2003 My wife and I have previously cruised with Holland America (Maasdam & Veendam), Celebrity ( Mercury) and Cunard (QE2). In March of 2003 we were invited on a pre-inaugural cruise on the brand new Radisson Seven Seas Voyager. We were so impressed that we booked for a one week Western Caribbean cruise in November 2003. We flew to Florida with Virgin, using their premium economy service, 5 days before our cruise and spent a blissful few days at the Hilton Beach resort on Marco Island. EMBARKATION On Sunday the 23rd we drove from Naples to Fort Lauderdale arriving at check-in to find long queues. The link between the laptop check-in computers and the ship was faulty and the signal repeatedly failed, preventing staff from checking passengers in. Although there appeared to be large numbers of RSSC people behind the check-in desks staring at the computers, nobody actually appeared to be able to resolve the problem. Arriving passengers, including ourselves, soon became annoyed at the lack of information, lack of seating, and most of all the lack of anybody willing to explain what was happening! There seemed to be no manual back-up in place in case of just such a crisis. Not what you expect from a 6 star ship! After about an hour of waiting, the link was re-established and we were checked in. THE CABIN We were able to board at around 3.30 and were greeted in the lobby with smiles and a glass of Champagne. We were shown to our cabin on deck 7, where we found our steward and stewardess waiting to greet us. The cabin (suite 743) was beautiful, decorated in muted shades of taupe, beige, mushroom and cream. The sitting area was furnished with a large settee and 2 armchairs, a table that converted into a dining table and sliding doors led to a balcony. This was furnished with 2 chairs and a table. The sitting area was also furnished with a television and DVD player, a writing desk, bookshelves and a fridge, which, at our choice, was stocked with 2 bottles of premium liquor and soft drinks which were replaced daily. Complimentary Champagne, fruit and flowers awaited our arrival. On the in-board side of the room, there was very comfortable queen sized bed, with bedside tables and a built in dressing table. Adjoining this was a good sized walk-in closet, and an excellent marble bathroom with a separate shower and tub and wash basins. The whole cabin had a very spacious feel. The fitments were high quality and there were quite sophisticated lighting options. The wide range of bathroom requisites were from the very excellent Judith Jackson range. We were so impressed with the soaps that we bought quite a large supply from the spa! Towels and towelling robes were plentiful and replaced frequently. The total size of the suite was about 300 sq ft. If one had a criticism, and it's a minor one, more light was needed in the bathroom. THE SHIP Seven Seas Voyager, whilst not the prettiest ship from the exterior is beautiful inside. Understated and elegant, there are no jarring colours and the ambiance is restful and sophisticated. The public rooms are intimate and inviting and the restaurants never feel crowded. The overwhelming impression is one of space! With a passenger load of about 650 for this cruise (the ship only takes 700 when full), the ship never seemed crowded, and one doesn't queue for anything. A good example of this was the lido area. This and the sun deck around the pool seemed to cope with the passenger load easily. For most of our cruise the weather was good so we spent quite a lot of our time by the pool. The smiling stewards were always so willing to move sunbeds where you wanted them, provide limitless supplies of towels and even brought round chilled flannels and complimentary soft drinks unbidden, as well as providing a full bar service. We tended to prefer our chairs on the upper promenade deck overlooking the pool area where we could enjoy the breezes, as well as watch what was going on. The two-deck theatre was very comfortable and well laid out with excellent sight lines and acoustics. There was an assortment of bars and lounges which, again, never seemed to be crowded, but were welcoming and comfortable. The shop served most needs but this was the only area in which we thought the service questionable and a little supercilious. Maybe they are run by concessionaries? Not being smokers, we are sensitive to cigarette smoke, but apart from the cigar room, we were not bothered in any way. All the restaurants are non-smoking. THE FOOD When we were aboard in March during the pre-inaugural voyage we were fairly impressed by the food, but over the first season things had improved enormously. There was a choice of four restaurants, two of which, Signatures and Latitudes, required reservations. Luncheon was served in La Verandah and there was a daily grill on deck by the pool. Teak tables and chairs and parasols were available in the sun for those who wished to dine alfresco. Each morning, breakfast was served in the main Compass Rose restaurant and La Verandah, however we always breakfasted in our cabin. Obviously, the room service choice is more limited than the main restaurants, nevertheless, we found that our breakfasts were beautifully and accurately presented and always piping hot. The table was set up with white linen and the contents of the tray were properly laid out, as opposed to other lines where the tray is just left on the table. Compass Rose The main dining room, the Compass Rose, was first class. We were always able to obtain a table for two, without ever being as asked if we wished to join other people, even when the restaurant was at its busiest. (We heartily dislike sharing, and would not book a ship unless we could be guaranteed a table for two). The dinner menu in the Compass Rose consisted of a choice of hors d'oeuvres, soup, fish, pasta, salad, entrEe and dessert. Alternatively there was a chef's degustation menu. If you found it impossible to choose...which we often did...the waiters could not have been more accommodating. It was possible to change between the menu options and the choice was wide enough for most palates. The quality of the food and service was world class. We did not have one course, which was anything other than top notch. Portions were nouvelle cuisine size, which, given the complexity and richness of some of some of the dishes, was more than enough for our palates. There was a choice of complementary house wines to accompany the meal, and these were most liberally poured. Being European we find some Californian wines too scented for our taste, and upon request, a good quality French or Italian wine was always available. It seemed that on some evenings, the wine waiters went out of their way to tempt us with ever better wines! Service was punctilious while remaining friendly and polite, you really felt that the dining room personnel cared personally whether you were enjoying your meal. The dress code was published in the daily information sheet but generally and somewhat unusually, we noticed that people dressed up rather than down. Signatures: This was the French restaurant run by the Ecole Cordon Bleu de Paris. Having lived in France, I have been lucky enough to have eaten at quite a number of the top-rated restaurants in France and Europe. The meal we had in Signatures ranks up there with the best of them. It is top class French cuisine. We did notice, however, that not all the American guests appreciated either the European flavours and presentation or the portion sizes! We do hope that Radisson does not bow to any pressure to 'Americanize' this restaurant. It is quite simply the best food that we have ever had at sea and it beats the much-vaunted Queens Grill on the QE2 into a poor second. It is always busy and it is worth making a reservation as soon as you have boarded the ship as it books up fast. In order to be fair, each couple is allowed one reservation per 7 days to ensure that everybody gets an opportunity to eat there. The Maitre D' and the waiting staff were particularly charming and helpful and more importantly, informed, and with a degree of warmth not found in France! This was an outstanding culinary experience. Latitudes: This was the other reservation-required restaurant, which served American cuisine. There was one sitting in which diners were invited to table at 7.30pm. The style of the restaurant was such that the kitchen is open and one can watch the chefs prepare the food. We did not eat here, but will undoubtedly try it on a future voyage. La Verandah This was a high quality buffet-style restaurant at breakfast and lunch which became a Mediterranean bistro in the evening. We tended to lunch there on most days and were delighted with the selection, which always included various hot and cold hors d'oeuvres and seafood, with a fish dish, a hot dish of the day and pasta dish - freshly cooked to order. Again waiters carried your tray if required and would go out to the deck barbecue for you if that was your preference. At night, the atmosphere was much more sophisticated, with subdued lighting, full waiter service (you could choose you own hors d'oeuvres if required) and a menu with a wide range of Mediterranean dishes. We ate there on one evening and were delighted. The dress code for this venue was country club casual. From this restaurant double doors opened to an open air after deck, which was set out with high quality teak furniture. One can hardly imagine a more romantic setting for dinner. All the tables both in and outdoors were properly laid with linen napery and good quality glass and silverware. As in every facet of this ship the staff was exemplary. If one had had a long day ashore or could not be bothered to dress, the full Compass Rose menu was also available served course by course in one's suite. We didn't try this as we were only on a short cruise, however on a longer cruise, this may well be a tempting alternative. THE ENTERTAINMENT My wife is a professional Theatre Director and we have often been critical of the entertainment aboard previous cruises. The Voyager was like the curate's egg - good in parts. Two full scale 'production shows' were staged during our cruise by the Peter Terhune Company. One, a brave attempt at a more classical programme, opera for the masses, and the second a standard song and dance show. Unfortunately both used pre-recorded 'clic' tracks for the orchestral backing. The singers sing live but somehow the relationship between the band and the singer is lost and the show suffers as a result. Come on Radisson, think of all the excellent unemployed musicians there are simply gasping for a job. There is no substitute for 'live' music. It raises the quality of performance from mundane to sublime! Provide something different, something classy...to match the classiness elsewhere on board. The shows were attended by only about 200 on each evening so maybe there is a lesson for RSSC to learn here. Other ships in the deluxe class have done away with this type of show and introduced high quality cabaret acts. We did not attend the entertainment on the evenings other than the formal show but anecdotal evidence was that many of our fellow passengers were disappointed, so if this suggestion were to be followed, quality would have to improve. THE PORTS We have been on the Western Caribbean circuit on two previous occasions so we regarded the ship as more of a destination than the ports. We did not go ashore in Progresso as we have visited the stunning ruins at Chichen Itza on a previous cruise. It was quite noticeable that many passengers stayed aboard and enjoyed the facilities of the ship. We spent a morning in Cozumel and we found that the 'hassling' by locals has increased here. There were 5 large cruise ships in port that day so I suppose that it is inevitable that the Mexican charm of the town will be diluted by 5000 or so passengers wandering about. Georgetown Grand Cayman was a charming as ever, but our real favourite was Key West were the ship docked at sunset next to Mallory Square and spent all night and next day in port. Whilst parts of the town are tacky, we like Key West and love wandering about this most un-American town. The weather here, whilst sunny was very windy and chilly. However that did not stop us, and many of our fellow Voyagers from having a great time. DISEMBARKATION We breakfasted in our suite and were ashore by 9am with no hassles. Our luggage was waiting and there were plenty of porters and taxis. Gratuities were included in the cruise fare, so there was none of the last night friendliness from staff who have ignored you during the whole of the cruise only to become your best buddy on the last night of the voyage! With only 650 passengers to process the whole process could not have been easier. CONCLUSION Seven Seas Voyager exceeded our expectations on many levels. The ship is elegant, understated and delivers a cruise that meets even the most demanding passengers' requirements. It is not a 'fun' ship where the 'party animal' reigns supreme and is organized from morning till night. Neither is it 'God's waiting room' where all the passengers are in bed by 9.30! It delivers a highly personalized, top-notch product, which thoroughly deserves the accolades it has received. Sort out the entertainment, and it might just be perfection! Read Less
Sail Date November 2003
WHO WE ARE First time cruisers. I am in mid-30's, husband is pushing 50. DIWSK. We live in the San Francisco Peninsula, on the North End. My husband is a 4th Generation San Josean, I am Guatemalan and have spent most of my life in the ... Read More
WHO WE ARE First time cruisers. I am in mid-30's, husband is pushing 50. DIWSK. We live in the San Francisco Peninsula, on the North End. My husband is a 4th Generation San Josean, I am Guatemalan and have spent most of my life in the San Francisco Peninsula area. We both love to travel; each of us has visited Europe, South America, North America, Central America, and the Far East. Our travel style is one where we like to spend time in a particular locale or city; we each do not like to 'city hop'. We tend to stay in 4 to 5 star properties and travel business class, but only if we can use existing points or mileage points to achieve. If need be, we can travel on a budget. We like luxury at a deal, and as many of you know, there are a lot of resources available to this end. Other lines we considered for our first cruise were Celebrity and Silversea. We liked RSSC's value proposition: not having to pay gratuities, open seating at the restaurants, a smaller, all-suite, all-balcony ship, and fine dining in multiple venues with free wine. Our expectations of the cruise were to provide us with quality couple time in an environment that was luxurious at the right price. We weren't necessarily going because we wanted to party or to see Broadway-level shows. Mexico wasn't even a big "must see" destination for us; if the Mariner had left Los Angeles and been out at sea all the time, that would have been just fine for us EMBARKATION AND DEBARKATION Very efficient, pain free. No crowds, no rushing. People greeting you as you come on, people saying goodbye as you come off. So civilized it makes you appreciate it even more. INITIAL SHIP IMPRESSION This ship is still 3 years new, and does not show any wear or have any smells. They keep her as immaculate as you can keep a ship at sea. Few indications of rust were seen; any spots seemed to be taken care of immediately or when possible (we noticed this in public areas or unused suites). EXTERIOR The Mariner is a lovely ship to look at, and is gleaming white with discreet blue trim and nicely proportioned with wonderful lines; she looks swift and sleek. I read somewhere about some purists grousing on how 'ugly' the all-suite ships seem to them, but quite frankly, they can keep the portholes to themselves. Even the way they have tucked the lifeboats/tenders away on the Mariner's deck is clever. INTERIOR The interior of the Mariner has been well thought out and has been tastefully done. Nothing garish, clashing, cheap, or overdone. The color scheme (mainly neutrals and dark blues) and the minimality of dEcor provides a soothing, harmonious ambiance. A lot of woods and natural fabrics. The ship is also very bright, with a lot of natural lighting, and airy, giving the impression of open space. The Atrium is a wonderful focal point for the ship and again, the use of natural light pervades. The artwork, in our opinion was good to very good for a public space. THE SUITE Our suite, a category H on the port side, was ready a little before 2:30 p.m. and it was every bit as superb as we imagined it. It is well designed and every available space used ingeniously. Again, a neutral palette pervades, and a lot of natural wood cabinetry and crown molding. Everything was spotless. The fabrics used on the main drapes were rich and heavy, providing absolute darkness when pulled. The balcony also has a set of privacy drapes (the gauze like ones). Again, we noticed that RSSC did not skimp on materials: the main drapes overlapped generously. You can pull the drapes between the sleeping and the sitting area, and it provides absolute privacy between the two spaces. There is a vanity area with good lighting, a covered box of tissue and a drawer where the hairdryer lives. An round ottoman which provides seating and the wastebasket are tucked underneath. The balcony was a very nice size and the plastic chairs and table did not bother me as much as I thought it would. Neither did the visible spaces around the partition (about 2.5 inches by my guess). We liked how 'far down' we were on the ship because we could really see details in the ocean that perhaps people further up would not (schools of fish, for example). The desk, AV and cabinet area opposite the couch and coffee table are well designed, and I liked the backlights provided. Speaking of lighting, you could go as bright or as dark as you wanted anywhere in the suite, controls are located everywhere. Our requested in-bar set up of Grey Goose Vodka was waiting for us, although we thought the 1 liter bottle was a bit generous. There was a bottle of Seven Seas Champagne being chilled in a bucket, waiting for us to pop the cork. There was a green orchid stem in a tall square bud vase, and a bowl of fresh fruit, with a setup of a plate, knife and napkin ready. The desk area had a green leather inlay. There was a leather binder with ship information, writing paper and postcards and room service forms. A notepad and pen were near the phone, as were an ashtray (never seemed to be used...and by the way, if it ever was, there was never a hint of smoke in our suite) and a card with our room attendants names (Maria and Jun Jun). There was also a copy of the RSSC Magazine, as well as a copy of the daily paper, Passages. The TV has several channels, Channel 01 pertaining to the menus, ship crew, service hours, etc. Channel 02 is the Bow Cam with a Date and Time runner at the bottom, it plays classical music. Channel 03 is a GPS of sorts, it shows where the ship is on a map and gives knot/wind speeds. Channel 04 has upcoming Port Information and Radisson Itinerary information, including the other ships. At least 3 channels are dedicated to current movie releases (on this particular cruise, they included "School of Rock" "Something has got to Give" "Master and Commander"), a schedule which is given to you in your desk area, there is one 'PBS' type of channel which also changes programming daily. CNN and ESPN were also available. There is no CD/DVD capability in the suite, we brought our own CD player and tunes. It would have been nice to have at least one music video type channel (VH1 classic?). The closet space is generous and the wood hangers were a nice detail. The safe is pretty much like ones you see at first rate hotels, easy to use. There is a large sized umbrella, a shoe horn, two thick towel robes, a set of laundry bags/slips, two life vests, a shoe mitt, a pair of pool towels, a "Privacy Please" and a"Service Please" door hangers. We loved all the wood drawer space in the closet. Our 7 pieces of luggage were quickly disgorged of their contents (resting on a RSSC logo tarp on our bed) and everything fit into the closet/drawer space (there is also a set of drawers underneath the TV). Once done, we found out that all our luggage fit underneath our bed, no need to have to put in storage! The only item that I flunked in our suite was the shoe rack; hopelessly useless, even for shoes with heels. The few shoes we put in there kept sliding off. Most of my shoes are in dust bags, so I just piled them up in a corner. The bathroom is a nice size, with all the wonderful white marble and light tan marble trim. A set of up towels, a cotton/q-tip jar and sanitary bags (these were in the cabinet) were provided. The towels were thick and had nice napping. The bath towels were generously sized. The Mariner is still using the Judith Jackson Spa "Citresse" amenities: 2 hand soaps, 1 large bar soap, 1 shampoo, 1 conditioner, 1 shower gel, 1 body lotion (plus 2 shower caps and a mending kit). These are a wonderful citrus aroma (then again, I'm partial to all things citrus), however if citrus is not your thing, you should BYOS (bring your own stuff). The room gets turned down each night; everything is fluffed up, cleaned, replaced and a turndown chocolate placed on your beside table. The suite's small foyer has a cap rack and the temperature controls (we found the room temperature perfect at all times), the external doorway has a doorbell. The door itself has a clip which is very practical and nicely coordinated with the ship logo on it. EATING VENUES One of the Mariner's main delights is having so many dining options, with varying cuisine styles. All feature top notch services and distinct ambiances: POOL GRILL As it names indicates, this is at the pool area. This is the most casual of the eating venues, and its color scheme is green. You eat in the pool area, at teak tables. It is only open for lunch hours. Here is where you can get a burger or hot dog, fries (always crisp!), basic salad, pre-made sandwiches and cookies. In addition to this, there is a themed lunch buffet everyday. For seating/service, you pick a table and if you are ordering from the grill, you give your order to a waiter standing at the grill area and your table number. Your grill order is brought out to you. Drink orders are taken by the roving staff. Everything else is pretty much self serve. LA VERANDA This restaurant is on deck 11 aft, spanning both sides and the rear balcony. The room is done in neutrals and greens, with art deco style posters. This is the Mariner's version of the full service buffet, open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The servers sport dark green shirts with ship plans on them. We did not have any dinner here, so I can't comment on it. The only thing I can vouch for is that in your daily Passages paper, it tells you what the theme of the night is (e.g. one night was billed as "Italian Steakhouse"). We did about half of our lunches here. There is always a lot of wait staff around ready to take your plate and walk with you to your table (eating alfresco on the aft balcony is the way to go, if the weather permits) and the bar staff quickly delivers drinks or coffee to you. Even though my husband does not like buffets (I'm a little less squirrelly on this subject), we ate lunch at La Veranda a lot. We found the quality to be consistently very good to exceptional. Their buffet could pass for a good restaurant's served platters, anytime! COMPASS ROSE Compass Rose is the largest of the Mariner's restaurants and the most all around wonderful (Signatures is close, but they are reservation and dinner only so you can't really compare). It is on deck 5 and spans both sides of the ship. But don't let the size fool you...it is an elegant space with an equally elegant set up. You can have breakfast (see my comment for La Veranda), lunch and dinner here. The most marvellous feature of Compass Rose (and Latitudes, although they are tasting menu style so perhaps it does not count, and Signatures, but then again the French are not into super-sizing) are the portion sizes. They give you just the right amount. If you feel you are not getting enough, you are free to order as many appetizers, salads, entrees and desserts as you want. You can order from the a la carte menu or from the menu degustation, or from both. Dishes were always prepared right: vegetables crisp when they should be crisp, medium rare is medium rare, food accented (not drowned) in sauces and the right level of seasonings. However, like some other fine restaurants I've dined at, sometimes things are a bit on the salty side, most notably with the soups. Not inedible, just a pinch salty. I think the current mode of using a little Fleur de Sel permeates a lot of cooking these days. Everything is beautifully presented with attention to detail. Nothing that I had felt like it was not freshly prepared. Dishes arrived at perfect temperatures and it was a joy to cup the aromas and inhale. A variety of breads get offered, and the butter is lightly iced and shaped like little flowers. The wines, a mix of French and Californian (with Chilean and Australian ones rounding out) change every day, and nothing cheap tasting was ever poured. The daily wines were so good, we never felt the need to refer to the Reserve List. We did note that among the reserve were Silver Oak Cabernet (both Alexander Valley and Napa Valley), Tiganello (an Italian Red) and Santa Margaherita Pinot Grigio. RSSC isn't skimpy with the pouring either, the wine glasses are constantly being refilled. I won't go into much detail as to what sort of things get served up, because they are as varied as variety themselves. It was tough to decide which was our favorite, Compass Rose, or the next restaurant... SIGNATURES Signatures, the Cordon Bleu Restaurant, is worthy of its fame. We had 3 dinners here, two from the same menu, one from the new menu (menu apparently is changed every week). Signatures feels like a fine restaurant one would dine in New York, San Francisco or even Paris. There is a lot of silver coloring used in the dining room; on table there is candlelight and a single red rose in a silver bud vase. The staff are dressed in white Cordon Bleu style garb, and the menu is shaped like a Cordon Bleu shirt. This is a decidedly French restaurant and it is always jacket only (formal of course for formal nights). Let's not digress too much from the food. It approximates sublimity. For starters, you always get an amouse bouche, like a large marinated shrimp. Then your choice of appetizer, soup, salad, palate cleaner sorbet and main course (or, you can always get whatever you want from the menu...there is no fixed order if that's what you want). On our first night I had the pistachio and date crusted lamb chops and they were absolutely delicious. My husband's choice that night was a veal chop with bleu cheese, a combination we had never heard of before, it was great. The warmed chocolate tart is a chocoholic's dream come true (and of course, they use dark chocolate for this one). Other memorable delicacies included foie gras terrines, huge scallops, caviar set up in a cucumber tower, lobster salad, seared duck breast (with the skin done to a perfect crisp) and tournedos Rossini (a filet mignon with a slice of seared foie gras on top). The soups are usually French style, meaning that they are cream of something. These very generally very good; albeit the salt issue I found with the Compass Rose came up here as well. The main course is always presented with a silver dome and which is removed with a voila! The voila creates a little vortex for aromas, no need for hand cupping here! The bread is sliced French. At the end of the meal, before your dessert arrives, you can order a cheese course from the cheese cart and a dish of white and dark chocolate truffles is presented just in time to savor with your coffee. The staff is a tad more serious than in Compass Rose, but by no means they are stuffy. There is always a smile greeting from the servers and details like a proffered arm for the ladies by the maitre d', Sebastian. The sommelier gladly pours your choice of wine for you and is happy to answer any questions. Mostly French wines get poured here, of course. On all three nights Renata was either our primary or assistant server and she is very pleasant. The room is small enough to create the mood for romance and intimacy. We loved eating at Signatures. With the variety on the menu, it is easy to go back very frequently without falling into a food rut. Obviously, the reservation only system makes it difficult to satisfy spur of the moment peckishness. LATITUDES Latitudes is the smallest of the dining venues and the second dinner only, reservations required restaurant. Of all the dining room styles, it is the one I liked best in terms of interior design. The palette is earth tones and the art work featured here are Brazilian head dresses and Balinese Masks. Even the table is set up with exotic shaped plates and utensils in dark earth colors. The servers (save for Rico, the maitre d'...he always wears a dinner jacket) wear Asian inspired coats in the same color palette. Being the most exotic renders it the most strange on the Mariner, given the general demographics of the ship, especially this particular cruise. Allow me to explain. To appreciate Latitudes, it does require that first, you have appreciation and enjoyment for cuisines other than American and Continental European. Second, you must be comfortable with the Tasting Menu concept of dining, something most associated with what is sometimes called 'destination dining'. Some example of these places include the French Laundry in Yountville, Gary Danko in San Francisco, Fleur de Lys in San Francisco (the new, post kitchen fire Fleur de Lys, that is), Manresa in Los Gatos. Most people can get past the first item, many people, my husband included (his worldliness notwithstanding), can't get past the second. I do like the tasting menu concept and do not find it peculiar; but I did wonder and marvel at RSSC's ambition and foresight in putting a restaurant of this type on the Mariner. We only ate at Latitudes once, partly because my reservation date coincided with the day they changed menus and partly because the meal was good but not good enough to be worthy of a repeat. On our particular dinner, mostly Asian themed, the set of 4 appetizers were pretty good (a bite of avocado and crustacean meat was wonderful), the 3 soups had one outstanding one (a tamarind and chile infused clear broth). The salad course was pretty pedestrian (mixed greens with 3 marinated prawns...tasty but nothing special). The main course had a very good to a not so good entrEe (the very good being a slice of meat with some pico de gallo sauce on it, the bad being a breast of chicken that was on the dry side and not enough sauce on it to moisten it). The desserts were mediocre at best and a let down given what all the other Mariner dining venues offer. I can't even remember a single one to describe here, save that I found a couple of them on the dry side! Overall, the meal at Latitudes was good. On a cruise such as ours, had I known how often the menus changed, I would have made my reservations so that we could try the menu at least once. As I mentioned earlier, I think Latitudes is the venue where RSSC should highlight cuisine of the area being traveled, it offers the perfect approach to doing so. YOUR ROOM (via room service) Room service in the Mariner is a dream come true. Wonderful food gets delivered with pleasure and cheer any time of the day. Any request that is food related gets fulfilled promptly. While all the dining rooms on the Mariner are beautiful, there is something about nibbling on your meal while watching the ocean go by. The evening's Compass Rose menu can be delivered to your door during the dining room's hours. FITNESS CENTER Located on deck 7, this is a gym and studio, and is under the helm of the pert and perky Jacquie, the resident fitness instructor. She gives a little tour of the facilities the afternoon of embarkation. The gym has a handful of treadmills, a selection of dumbbells, a couple of Stairmasters and elliptical runners. Ceiling mounted TV's are located strategically for distraction. There is activity here at several times of the day. We generally visited in the mornings and while busy, we never had to wait for any piece of equipment. Jacquie provides several fitness classes during the day, mostly geared towards stretching and isotonic movements that are mid-section focused. I participated in a few and found them very effective. At the beginning of the cruise, a schedule of classes is available as a handout for planning. These classes are also mentioned on a daily basis in Passages. JOGGING TRACK On deck 12, there is a jogging track for running, walking or for use as yet another vantage point. Eleven laps equals one mile; and in keeping with the ship's environment, it's never crowded. POOL AND JACUZZIS Situated at deck 11, there is a good size, salt water pool and 3 Jacuzzis (freshwater). There are also two showers and plenty of deck chairs. Never crowded, although it is a popular spot during nice sunny days. I can't really be out in the sun, so we tended to be there later in the afternoon and many times we were the only ones in the area. Plenty fresh pool towels are available and they wrap around generously. There is a pool bar, generally manned by Allen, who has a ready smile and always prepares your libations right. SPA The Spa, on deck 7, is under the auspices of Carita of Paris. It has a nice vestibule and a water tranquility fountain. It would be oh-so-comfortable just to wander into the Spa in your robe, but this a no-no on the Mariner. Services include facials, manicures/pedicures, massages and beauty salon services (shampoo, cuts, updos). The menu is not very deep, but services are well performed by friendly and skilled staff. Pricing is comparable to San Francisco, and I felt like I got good value. We had terrific service from Robert, the manager, Pamela the therapist, Marie from Brittany for nails and Delphine from Paris for updos. LE CASINO Le Casino is on deck seven with an assortment of one arm bandits (slot machines), a small crap table, roulette and about 4 blackjack tables. We didn't play but knew people who were going in for blackjack and some crap (tables, that is!). It seemed generally quiet, although some nights it was very lively, and livelier when the blackjack tournament was going on. ENTERTAINMENT AT THE CONSTELLATION THEATRE The Constellation Theatre is a magnificent, magical locale and ingeniously designed...there isn't a bad seat in the house. It is not only used for shows, it is used for holding the mustering drill, I noticed that it was used for the SSS party and in our cruise for immigration with US Customs. We caught the "dangerously clean" comedy of Brian the first night (he was funny but didn't put me into stitches) and we saw the presentation of Fiesta Latina (they included songs from The Mask, Evita, Marc Anthony, Miami Sound Machine) with the Peter Terhune Grey dancers and singers...very good, with a lot of costume changes! Other shows included a magician, Marshall Magoon (we heard he wasn't very good) and Helen Jayne (we heard she was really good). SERVICES, SHOPPING AND INFORMATION/SERVICE Since the Mariner is a floating hotel of sorts, one finds the sort of amenities and services one would expect from a land based outfit. All are conveniently located manned with helpful staff. Especially note that the laundry service and detergent is free. DAY TO DAY ACTIVITIES For some of us, cruising on the Mariner was meant for R and R, and this was achieved. Not to worry, the ship has all sorts of activities, both planned and spontaneous, all day up until 10:30 pm (then you are left to your own devices!) The planned ones are in Passages, and range from meeting other passengers, to the scheduled fitness classes, bridge, daily quizzes, needlepoint and morning coffee, games (both indoor and outdoor) classes, lectures, bingo, presentations, game show type activities, poker tournaments, etc. One would be hard pressed not to like or participate in any of these offerings. CREW AND SERVICE LEVELS Enough cannot be said about the outstanding crew and staff aboard the Mariner. RSSC has certainly done its homework in attracting, recruiting and retaining the best of the best. They are not only qualified in what they do, they also display a genuine love of their work and of their passengers. While the ship is elegant, her staff and crew are not aloof. It is not uncommon to see the ship's officers strolling around, and saying hello to you. Staff members remember you and greet you. They will stop and chat with you, if you start a conversation. They will listen and do their best to honor your requests promptly. I remember hearing "We help you make your wishes come true" early on in the ship and this was no by line on some glossy advert. I was witness to some of the staff getting talked to by some ungracious people (you know, those people who DEMAND service and wouldn't know good service if it ran over them) and they were handled very professionally. We hear stories in the news of how other cruise lines hire, pay and treat their employees, I have to believe RSSC values their employees and treats them well, because it translates into how they treat the cruisers AND the longevity of some of these people with the company. GENERAL DEMOGRAPHICS OF THIS PARTICULAR CRUISE This cruise sailed with 540 passengers, and it would be safe to say 70% of them were at least 70. Making up almost half of the passengers was a group with Jazzdagen Tours, a tour company that caters to jazz enthusiasts by promoting jazz tours and cruises. They even bring their own jazz musicians along; and were happy to share them with the rest of the ship (they were excellent). The average age was not a problem for us, because our motives for being on this cruise did not include endless partying. We don't mind mixing with older folks, either. But we could see if someone went on this cruise looking for a 'fun ship' and not fully aware of the general demographics, they would be quite surprised and turned off. I actually enjoyed the quiet elegance I found on the Mariner, it helped me relax. We understand from the Mariner's staff the demographics tend to change depending on where the ship is going and the length of days of the cruise. For example, 7 day cruises will attract younger people; 7 day cruises to Alaska will have more families. We did see and were able to meet a lot of interesting people of all ages, those in our immediate group (meaning, we dined/socialized with) included Tanya Moss the Mexican jewelry designer and her husband Eduardo, who were of my age group (under 40), The Torok's (magicmat), celebrating their 20th anniversary, they were closer to Peter's age group (close to or just over 50), Norm and Gerri in their 70's, and Aaron and Jo (80 and 50's). We also informally chatted up and talked a lot more people, so meeting people isn't a problem if you are socially outgoing and friendly. The cruise was predominately American, with some Britons and some Austrian couples. There were a few African Americans, Latin Americans and Asians. SUMMARY This cruise has now made us converts not only to this style of travel, but loyal RSSCers...to a greater extent, extremely loyal to the Mariner. Our expectations were met and exceeded on all levels. People thought we came back glowing and relaxed (it showed in a lot of pictures, as well as in person). We thought it was excellent value and worth every cent. RSSC MARINER'S PROS • Ultimate in luxury and pampering. • Relaxing environment, discretion is the modus operandi . • Great value for price. • All inclusive, includes all shipboard gratuities and includes wine/liquor at dinner. •The entire staff and crew is genuinely friendly and professional. • Attention to detail and quality. RSSC MARINER'S CONS • Ship does attract a much older crowd; younger people looking to meet other young people or who are looking for a high energy vacation will be disappointed. • Should consider more San Francisco departures for Alaska, Hawaii and Mexico. CONSIDERATIONS AND SUGGESTIONS FOR THE M/S MARINER • Compass Rose staff needs to be a little less obvious during certain situations and requests that may conflict with their routine/schedule (see my example under "Compass Rose"). • Hold the art auctions in one of the card rooms...setting up shop in the Garden Promenade can actually create a hazard. • Consider more San Francisco departures for Alaska, Hawaii and Mexico. • Don't hold the premiere of a new show the last night at sea (we are all busy packing), and at 6:30 pm (way too early!). Read Less
Sail Date March 2004
We were on the Mariner's 14-night trip from Los Angeles to Ft. Lauderdale via the Panama Canal. As first-timers we decided to book one of the ship's larger suites that included butler service. We were delighted and dismayed by ... Read More
We were on the Mariner's 14-night trip from Los Angeles to Ft. Lauderdale via the Panama Canal. As first-timers we decided to book one of the ship's larger suites that included butler service. We were delighted and dismayed by our choice. Next time we'll think more carefully. (See the very end of this review for details about this.) First of all, every suite on the Mariner has a balcony, and when the weather is as gorgeous as it was during our cruise, you don't spend much of your time in the suite itself. You're either on your balcony, or you're on the (almost) empty deck. Having the extra space was extremely nice, but we really didn't use half of it. And, anyway, as we learned during one of the "open houses," even the smallest suites on the ship are more than comfortable for two people. Secondly, everyone gets the same service, whether in a big suite like ours or in one of the smallest. We of course had the extra advantage of having a butler. He was extremely charming and eager to please. He was a great conversationalist. He unpacked our luggage and took our clothes to be dry cleaned and pressed. He looked after every little detail, like delivering invitations to the people we invited for a cocktail party. He was extraordinary. But, like the extra space, we really didn't need him. Like everyone else, we had a steward and stewardess who cleaned our suite twice every day. (We hardly ever saw them.) I don't know what more you'd want in terms of in-room service. Thirdly, it's true. Radisson does attract a largely older crowd. But this means that the best parts of the ship, like the swimming pool, jacuzzis, the big bar at the aft, are **empty** most of the time. One night my sweetie and I went to soak in one of the deck's three jacuzzis at 7:30 p.m. The air was warm. There was a big full tropical moon in the sky. We were absolutely 100% alone. I was in the ship's pool on most days and maybe only twice was there someone else swimming with me. Fourthly (is there such a word?), everybody gets the same food, which on most counts ranges from very good to excellent. Our only disappointment was in Latitudes, the reservations-only Asian-fusion restaurant. (Too salty!!) We had very good (formal) French food in Signatures. But we really loved the Spanish and Italian menus in La Verandah, the most casual restaurant. Also, the seafood in ALL the restaurants was exceptionally fresh. Our big "learning experience" came when we anchored in Georgetown, Grand Cayman. SIX other cruise ships were there at the same time. They were ENORMOUS. We watched their passengers wait ten-deep in the hot sun for a tender back to their ships. Those of us on the Mariner were whisked back and forth on nearly empty tenders. At the dock, the Mariner had set up chairs under an umbrella and had crew members passing out iced water and orange juice. What we don't understand is that the nicest suites on those huge ships cost almost as much or more than the smaller suites on the Mariner. But on those huge ships you share **everything** with 2000+ passengers, no matter how much you pay for your suite. What I'm pretty sure we learned is that the "ultra-deluxe" Radisson cruises are probably an incredible bargain, given the service, the space, and the fact that most areas of the ship are empty most of the time. Also, the fares are all-inclusive. I don't have time to do the math. But you don't need a big suite or butler service on a ship like the Mariner. We had a spectacular trip. (We especially enjoyed Costa Rica and the Panama Canal. Although, the Gatun Yacht Club is a big bore! My sweetie took the helicopter trip over the Gatun Locks and had a blast.) You can spend a third of what we spent and still have a fantastic time. We're definitely going to take Radisson again, but next time we want to do a longer cruise. Read Less
Sail Date March 2004
Considering the luxury experience and the six-star rating it advertises and considering the high prices it charges, we expected only the best from Radisson (and had enjoyed ourselves very much on two prior, one-week Radisson Mariner ... Read More
Considering the luxury experience and the six-star rating it advertises and considering the high prices it charges, we expected only the best from Radisson (and had enjoyed ourselves very much on two prior, one-week Radisson Mariner cruises). Flaws that can be accepted from mass-market cruise lines should be the rare exception on a luxury line. When measured against these standards, on the whole, Radisson and Voyager did not measure up on this cruise. While many aspects of the cruise met at least a five-star standard and some were easily six-star standard, the overall cruise did not provide a truly luxury cruise experience - I would only give it four stars overall. The overwhelming shortcomings to this cruise were the senior on-board hotel staff, the arbitrary changes to an exciting itinerary, and the inconsistent dining. Let's start with my expectations and biases. A cruise line (or anyone else) should provide the product advertised. While some "puffery" is to be expected, and while there can be quibbling over the quality of any aspect of a cruise, the product as a whole should measure up to the advertising. On a "luxury line," I expect (a) consistently excellent continental cuisine, (b) a responsive staff prepared to provide a luxury experience at all levels and to deal with problems quickly and professionally; (c) modern and clean staterooms, (c) well-appointed public areas; (d) unobtrusive service; (e) high quality lecturers, activities, and musical programs; (f) efficient boarding, cabins ready at embarkation; (g) no lining up and waiting for tenders, etc. Where I have not commented here, this ship and line met those expectations fully (e.g., cleanliness, efficient and easy boarding, etc.). The Positive about this cruise. (1) This ship. It is well-designed, new, clean, comfortable, and quite attractive. It is very much in the mold of the new cruise ships (multi-story atrium, etc.) It is clean and very well maintained. The cabins are unusually large and well designed, including a walk-in closet (maid service is excellent). Cabins below the penthouse level are larger and more comfortable than similar accommodations on other lines. The public spaces are attractive and, with a couple of minor exceptions, comfortable and functional. (2) The junior staff (waiters, room stewardesses, bar attendants, etc.) were competent, pleasant, and conversant in English (staffing changes in the last few months may have put this into question). They generally knew what they were doing and worked hard to please. The maintenance staff likewise seemed generally competent, although several requests for repairs (including a ventilation problem) went unanswered for more than 36 hours. (3) The Tour Office staff was exceptional. The three people did an outstanding job of handling ship's tours and private tour arrangements, with unfailing good humor, efficiency, and accuracy. This was particularly difficult in the face of a constantly changing itinerary (see below). (4) Single seating dining and open seating dining are big pluses. The single-seat dining provides much more relaxed, enjoyable dining. While passengers seem to settle in to an individual table after a day or two (a few of them did try to lay claim to window tables), it is nice to have the option of sitting where you want and with whom you want. Service is usually well-paced and there is no pressure to finish so that the next seating can be set up. (5) The inclusion of wine in the dining room in the cruise price is e welcome touch. It is nice not to be nickel-and-dimed and it is nice not to have to worry about signing the chit every night. (The downside, one waiter confided, is that the policy of including wine and drinks seems to consistently attract a certain type of passenger who overdoes the alcohol, especially on cruises of less than 14 days. We did see a couple of instances.) (6) The port lecturer. (7) Latitudes Restaurant. It was too small and crowded for the number of passengers they seated the one night I was able to eat there. This is an almost trivial comment because - although contrived - the theme concept was very well carried-out. The credit for that goes to the exuberant, young, and completely charming serving staff. They made us feel like they were putting on a private theme dinner party for a group of close friends, that they really cared that it be a complete success, and that they did everything possible to make it so. The food, too, was very enjoyable. This was one of the few occasions on this cruise that I felt that I was having a truly good time and that the cruise line really wanted me to have that good time. (8) The advertised itinerary for this trip, Singapore to Tokyo, segments of the 2004 world cruise (actually "Circle Pacific" Cruise), was exciting and enticing. The Negative: (1) RSSC chose to disregard that exciting itinerary. One port (Hong Kong) was extended by a day, two port days were changed altogether, two port stops were shortened (one of them by about 12 hours and one by about 5), and one stop was eliminated altogether. (One additional port was missed because of bad weather.) There were no weather problems or terrorism concerns to justify any one of those unexplained changes. While the schedule changes were bad enough, Radisson compounded the problem. Passenger questions/complaints about these changes were given short shrift by senior staff. As one senior official in the hotel department said to me when I asked what was going on, and this is a direct quote, "We can do whatever we want." While several of the changes were decided by Radisson management days in advance (including changing of two port days), none of them were announced until the last minute. As a result, several passengers missed out some on private sight-seeing that they had arranged. Personally, we missed the opportunity to see a former colleague and friend who only had one day available to see us. Passengers deserve the cruise paid for. When Radisson elected not to deliver that cruise, we deserved two things. First, we deserved prompt notification of the changes. Second, we deserved a clear and compelling explanation for divergence from the schedule or some form of restitution and/or apology. Radisson provided neither. (2) Senior staff problems and attitudes were not limited to the attitude about the schedule. Several of the senior staff on the hotel side, newly promoted to their positions, neither knew nor were prepared for their new jobs and at least one did not seem to care. Senior staff members were not respected by junior staff, although junior staff members were clearly terrified of several of them. Senior staff was generally inaccessible - no response to phone messages, not in their offices or on deck, etc.; the only time that the Hotel Manager's office door was ever open were the days that the President of the company was on board. This is also true on land - Radisson's customer relations person in Florida did not return any one of my four post-cruise telephone calls. Any request other than the most routine was frowned on (and I am not talking about Travel Spies nonsense) and, from what I saw, was not acted on. (3) The overall impression was that the ship was not being run with passenger satisfaction as the goal, but rather that it was run for the convenience of management. Note that I did not have this impression of Radisson on two prior cruises on Mariner. This is the first and only cruise on which I felt that I was merely along for the ride. (4) Dining room food quality and service were inconsistent, lurching from very good at some meals to very mediocre at others. Some nights the dining room was excellent in all respects but, on just as many other nights, it was no better than "good" overall. There were too many lapses - some main dishes were tasteless, particularly meat and poultry (tasteless grilled salmon one night). Oddly, the dining room was consistently better at lunch than at dinner. The service on several nights was painfully slow - 25 minutes wait for the order to be taken one night with no head waiter or maitre d' in sight and bickering waiters another night. While an occasional mistake or oversight is to be expected, the mistakes were too frequent for a luxury cruise (and the ship was no more than about 60 percent full during this segment). (5) Of the two nights I ate in Signatures Restaurant, one night was truly very good. The food was well-prepared and attractively and attentively presented and service was perfect. The food on the other night, unfortunately, even with the identical menu, arrived bland and overcooked. (6) There is far too much vibration on this new ship, particularly in the aft portion when the ship is trying to go fast (above about 20 knots) - unfortunately very noticeable in my cabin. It took four days of requests to be moved to a vacant cabin of the same category. Several other passengers also said that they asked to be moved because of it. Once again, when I first asked what was happening and whether the problem would be fixed or whether we could be moved, the same senior staff member simply dismissed me: "All ships vibrate." The bottom line is simple, if you go on the Voyager, do not get a cabin in the aft portion of the ship. (7) The dance floor in the Lounge is too small - you can't dance on a postage stamp regardless of whether you prefer rock or ballroom. Forget about line dancing. (8) The art auctions. The quality of the "art" was poor (aside from there being just too many mediocre prints of famous pictures) and was too "mass market." It clutters up, cheapens, and detracts from otherwise enjoyable and usable public spaces. Please, let's get rid of art auctions . . . and not just on this ship and this line. (9) Entertainment. Maddeningly inconsistent. The Broadway reviews, comedians, etc. were interchangeable with any other line. The music at the shows was always too loud. There was one very fine classical performer. (10) Passenger evaluation cards are insufficient. They are not designed to uncover deficiencies in performance but seemed designed to elicit favorable reviews. Radisson needs to ask about quality issues, including staff attitudes and responsiveness and knowledge of their jobs, not just about such things as timeliness of baggage handling and whether the bartender smiled. None of the questions on the evaluation picked up the staff problems or the itinerary problems noted above. Second, evaluation cards must be anonymous to be valid. Third, if evaluations are to be taken seriously, there should be a section not just for "comments," but there should be a meaningful attempt to elicit specific praise, complaints, and suggestions for improvement (examples, "Please tell us what you liked about the entertainment" "Please tell use how we might improve the entertainment?" "Please tell us what you disliked on this cruise?" "Please give us three suggestions for things you would like to see on our cruises or activities you would like us to add. Please tell us three things we should eliminate."). SUMMARY - The cruise overall was very mixed. Those things that were done well were exactly as one would expect from a luxury line. However, they were overshadowed by the negative - and, what is worse is that there was absolutely no need for any of the negative to have occurred. Itinerary changes where necessary because of weather or security - and when reasonably announced in advance - are a part of cruising. However, I cannot accept either the arbitrary changes on this cruise or the disdainful attitude of the senior staff and management on this and other issues. Read Less
Sail Date March 2004
Review of Radisson Seven Seas Mariner Alaskan cruise 6/16/04 - 6/23/04 Jim and I truly enjoyed our cruise in Alaska. The Radisson's Mariner was a beautiful, warm ship and the service was wonderful. The food, for the most part, was ... Read More
Review of Radisson Seven Seas Mariner Alaskan cruise 6/16/04 - 6/23/04 Jim and I truly enjoyed our cruise in Alaska. The Radisson's Mariner was a beautiful, warm ship and the service was wonderful. The food, for the most part, was beyond expectation and the entertainment we saw was excellent. Alaska was beautiful. It would have been a perfect cruise, except the ship ran into a problem with the propellers about halfway through our cruise which forced us to travel at about half the normal speed, so unfortunately, we had to skip our stop at Ketchikan in order to get to Vancouver on time. More details are farther down into this review. We started our vacation 6 days before the cruise with 2 days in Anchorage and 4 days at the Alyeska Resort, just south of Anchorage. On this part of the trip, we took a flightseeing trip to the top of Denali that was one of the most exciting things I've done in a long time. I would recommend this excursion if you ever have a chance to take it in the future. Getting to Seward and the ship We took the Alaska Railroad from the Alyeska resort in Girdwood down to Seward on the morning of our cruise. The trip was relaxing and smooth and the views were great. It was an overcast foggy day so we really didn't get to see much, but it was enjoyable anyway. When we reached Seward, it was pouring pitchforks out. We grabbed a cab and took the short ride to the cruise terminal. At about 12:30, the ship allowed us to start early boarding. We were the second couple to board and met a nice couple from Australia as we relaxed in the Mariner Lounge. We munched on small appetizers there and then the ship announced that lunch was being served by the pool. We went up there to have a burger. By this time, more and more people arrived. At 2:30, we went down to the Compass Rose to make reservations for Signatures for my birthday. At the same time, they announced that the suites were ready. Dining Compass Rose We enjoyed eating dinner here, as the food was very good to excellent, as was the service. The leg of lamb I had one night was excellent! And we had baked Alaska twice - both times it was fantastic. The wines were also very good. At first, I thought the room was kind of ho-hum. But it started to grow on me and I soon came to think it was one of the nicest dining rooms I had seen. On 2 evenings, we asked the maitre'd if there was anyone looking for people to dine with. One night, we sat with Brian O'Brian, the cruise consultant, Andre and Taryn, the art directors and 3 other male guests. It was fun to meet some new people and hear more about the cruises from Mr. O'Brian. The other time we asked, no one was open. I had hoped there would be more couples open to joining other couples for dinner. Signatures We ate dinner here on the night of my birthday. The service was perfect! The waiter was very discreet, yet friendly. I chose the lamb chops and I can honestly say that this was one of the best pieces of meat I have ever eaten. Jim chose the duck and was not as excited about his choice. My dessert was not great but by that time, it didn't matter. I about died when the waiter put the large silver domed platter on the table and lifted the cover to reveal 12 of those luscious chocolate truffles!! 4 of each - dark chocolate, light chocolate and white chocolate! Who cared that my dessert wasn't great? I think we did leave at least a couple of truffles on the platter. Latitudes We decided to try Latitudes one night. I was not that impressed with the atmosphere, the service or the food. Jim really enjoyed his halibut dinner, but I thought mine was kind of bland. I prefer the Compass Rose and Signatures to this choice. La Verandah We fell in love with the lunch buffet at this spot, especially since we loved eating on the back open deck of the ship. We had great weather, so it was always sunny and nice on the deck. The food was very good and the dessert bar was fun. Our favorite dessert was the ice cream! Everyday, there were 2 flavors available along with an abundance of toppings and nuts. We never ate here for dinner. Breakfast Room Service We had room service each morning for breakfast. It always came on time and was perfectly presented. The cooks got a little confused by my numbering system. I always put a number 2 in front of the coffee and the cream to indicate 2 "orders of" so they knew to bring enough coffee for 2 people. Well, on a few mornings, we got 2 carafes of coffee along with 2 pitchers of cream. We also got a double order of fried eggs one morning. No big deal. Just kind of amusing! Entertainment We timed it right for entertainment; at least, we think so. We were lucky to have Kenny Smiles, the Welsh comedian, on board with us, as well as the Peter Grey Terhume Dancers and Singers. The production numbers were so much more professional that we had expected. The first production was Here, There and Everywhere, which was a review of Beatles' songs. Their second show was Thoroughly Modern Broadway and they did a superb job. Their singing and dancing abilities were marvelous as well as the costumes. The last night they outdid themselves with Classics. Kenny Smiles kept us all laughing. He had 2 evening shows and one afternoon show called "Kenny in the Hot Seat" where audience members could ask him questions. His one-liners were great!! We loved it when he would put down a heckler who deserved it. He made some jokes about the propellers getting wrecked by a bread roll. Well, at the Captain's Farewell party, the Captain emphatically responded saying that it was definitely not a bread roll that hit the propellers! Speaking of propeller problems, the last 2 days were at sea. So to entertain passengers, the pianist from the Mariner 5 Orchestra put on a classical piano recital on one of the afternoons. The man had classical piano training growing up in Russia and it was obvious he had talent to spare. I thought I had died and gone to heaven when he played Rachmaninoff's Prelude in C# Minor! He should be showcased much more. Marty and Holly played several nights around the ship as well. We enjoyed their singing. Our Suite When we arrived in our suite, 745G, there was the chilled champagne and fruit waiting for us. How nice! The suite was very comfortable and we loved the balcony. The bathroom was gorgeous. Jim managed to get a shower, even though his head touched the top of the shower. The location of our suite was good. At this point, I don't think I would want to pay more to stay in the same size suite on floors 8 or 9. We were very close to the boutiques on floor 7 and we were only one or 2 floors above all the dining rooms, etc. Day-by-Day Activities and Sights Hubbard Glacier The first full day of the cruise was to Hubbard Glacier and a grand day it was! I was very worried about the weather since it was so awful in Seward when we departed. But, the weather turned out to be perfect with sunny skies. The closer we got to the glacier, the colder it was so we put on our warm clothes and headed up to deck 12. We had a wonderful time! The ship got within a mile of the glacier. Terry Breen was the naturalist and she is excellent. The passengers who had no clue were wearing shorts with short sleeve shirts and shivering up there! We looked at them and chuckled to each other. What were these people thinking?? Sitka In Sitka, we chose the Russian Dancers and Raptor center tour. We enjoyed this tour and it was good for us since I wasn't able to do anything physical because I am having my left hip replaced in July. The first stop was a museum/park with history and culture displays along with totem poles. Next, we went to a gymnasium to be entertained by the Russian Dancers who were very good. Next, we toured the bald eagle raptor center, which was very interesting. Sitka is a charming town in a beautiful setting surrounded by ice-capped mountain. It has a very European feel to it and has several wonderful shops brimming with beautiful Russian artwork. Tracy Arm We arrived in Tracy Arm around 7 a.m. so we went out on the balcony in our jammies and bathrobes to enjoy the scenery. It was lovely and again, we had sunny skies. We were moving along fine listening to the always-interesting narration by Terry Breen as we sailed through the fjords. We got to a point where we should have made a right turn to head toward the Sawyer Glaciers when all of sudden, Terry stopped narrating, the ship stopped and then started turning around. As the ship started turning, we could hear the crew from below yelling back and forth at each other. We couldn't understand what was being said and just thought that something must have gone wrong. Next, the ship sailed back out of Tracy Arm. It was a disappointment not to see the glaciers. Soon afterward, the Captain announced that something hit one of the propellers and that we could only travel at 15 knots maximum to prevent vibration. So we headed on toward Juneau where we cut our time in port by 2 hours. That night as we dined at Latitudes, the Captain announced that we would be skipping Ketchikan in order to make it into Vancouver on time. That meant we would not see Misty Fjords, not take our flight plane to Misty Fjords or get to see all the shops in Ketchikan. All in all, this was not my favorite day of our cruise! Juneau Because I had read so many recommendations for Captain Larry's Whale Watching, we chose that as an independent tour. We had a great time and saw about 4 different humpbacks, that were pretty close to our boat and put on a good show for us. We also saw sea lions. There were 23 people on Larry's boat, with plenty of room for moving around on the open back deck and the upper viewing deck. He was very knowledgeable about the whales. We had taken a shuttle out to the Mendenhall Glacier before the whale watching tour started. It's a good glacier to view since it is so close and the visitor center is very nice with a short film. Captain Larry's shuttle picked us up at the Glacier to take us to the whale watching. They were running about a half hour or more late when they picked us up so we were beginning to worry about the timing. But everything worked out and we were back at our ship with an hour to spare. Skagway We signed up for Radisson's White Pass Railroad with Tea Time Bakery. It was another gorgeous sunny day so we were lucky again. We really enjoyed the ride and the muffins, scones, coffee cake, coffee, tea and hot chocolate available in the train car. The 3-hour train ride up and back was relaxing and enjoyable. We spent the afternoon shopping in Skagway and since it was my birthday, I managed to find some nice gold jewelry! Miscellaneous Notes The final 2 full days of the cruise were at sea so we had 2 full days to relax. We attended another lecture by Terry Breen where she talked about history and culture of the Tlingits. Her lectures are interesting and easy to follow. I wish they offered more lectures like this. We thought the food on the Mariner was very good to excellent, except for the desserts. I thought the desserts were the weakest part of the menu, except the baked Alaska. We loved that! We also thought they could be a little more creative with the dinner rolls. The exact same dinner rolls every night in every restaurant? There were 3 large groups on our ship. About 200 people with Ford, about 50 with Pirelli Tires and another small group who sold burial insurance! There were several families with children, maybe 12 kids in total. All were well-behaved whenever we saw them, which was not often! Two young couples had little babies with them in Compass Rose and Signatures. We never heard a peep! Because we had to skip Ketchikan, the Captain sent a letter to all guests stating that Radisson would cover some of our onboard expenses and gave all guests credit toward any future cruises. Also, all alcohol was covered for the last 3 days of the cruise. We are glad to get these credits, etc. as a nice gesture from Radisson.   Read Less
Sail Date June 2004
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