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1,199 Regent Seven Seas Cruise Reviews

We sailed on the Radisson Seven Seas Mariner from Seward to Vancouver in mid-June, timed for the summer solstice. This was our fourth cruise, having experienced a Royal Caribbean megacruise to the Eastern Caribbean, a Renaissance 14 day ... Read More
We sailed on the Radisson Seven Seas Mariner from Seward to Vancouver in mid-June, timed for the summer solstice. This was our fourth cruise, having experienced a Royal Caribbean megacruise to the Eastern Caribbean, a Renaissance 14 day cruise in Europe and a Victoria cruise of the Yangtze River. We chose Radisson because the ship description reminded me of the Renaissance R7, which we loved, but we were somewhat taken aback by the cost differential between this cruise and the megaships. Because of the premium fare, we had high expectations, and in short, they were exceeded - enough so that I think we got more for our money. We arrived at the port in Seward in a typhoon that had rained on our pre-cruise Kenai Peninsula excursion, early for check in. We were whisked through security, given large umbrellas and sent onboard. Formalities took less than ten minutes, and we went to the lounge where our champagne glasses were refilled. There were snacks and drinks available and we were told we could go up to the pool deck for a meal. About an hour later, we got access to our rooms - still well before the check in time. Very different from the queues at Royal Caribbean. The public rooms on the ship were decorated with a variety of art - something to please everybody, and everything was spotless. The ship looked new. It took only a little exploring to get the lay of the ship. There are three lounges, a cigar room, a casino [off to one side, so it is not necessary to pass through it], four restaurants and the pool snack bar, and a very nice auditorium. Everything bigger ships have except the climbing wall. The restaurants ranged from casual to elegant. The cabin we had on the R7 was a 'suite' with balcony and two separate areas for sleeping and sitting. The arrangement in our cabin here was similar - but more spacious. We had a walk in closet and a marble bath with tub [my wife's favorite feature]. The height of the shower was a little tight for my 6'2" frame, but when the ship rocked I could stand up straight and brace myself. There was ample storage space for all of our possessions and somebody else's besides - there were drawers we never used. The balcony was equipped with two cushioned chairs and was a comfortable place to sit and read and watch the spectacular scenery go by. It was also a place where we leaned over and chatted with the neighbors, like a New York apartment. In the cabin was a fridge stocked with soda and water and two beers. We never drank the beers, but everything else we consumed was replaced whenever our back was turned. I estimated that I went through two cases of Diet Coke by the end of the cruise [at NO cost, rather than $1.50+15% every time]. We were asked what two bottles of liquor we wanted for our room, ended up taking them (and the champagne that was waiting when we arrived) home in our suitcase. We're not big drinkers, and the wine with dinner and cocktails at the cocktail parties was more alcohol than I'm used to. We had a cabin on the lowest deck toward the back, and I can't see spending more money for a bigger one, or for one higher up. We were closer to the water, which was a better view - there was no vibration problem, and we were conveniently near the restaurants and lounges - with no noise problem at all. We were blessed on this cruise with spectacular weather - after the typhoon passed the sun came out and stayed out [day and night] for the rest of the cruise. We had a fabulous view of the Hubbard Glacier - we got within one mile. We had tropical weather in Skagway, and spent far more time in the pool or on the pool deck than I expected we would - swimming with glaciers in the background. We did several shore excursions, from Radisson, and were pleased with most of them. Highlight was the Tracy Arm excursion, where we were picked up in Tracy Arm by a small boat and taken into close contact with the Sawyer Glacier. Radisson provided snacks on board, since we were leaving so early they were worried we might go hungry! We saw seals and bears and whales and eagles as well as the glaciers. The kayaking on Fraser Lake, BC from Skagway, with the train back to town was also delightful [although we learned that we are not a good kayaking team!]. The salmon fishing from Juneau was not successful - one got away. Because of damage to the propeller in Tracy Arm, we bypassed Ketchikan and missed the flight to Misty Fjord. I recently spoke to someone who had just returned from the QM2, paying extra for a cabin with access to the fancy restaurants. She said the food was good - but not as good as a fancy Manhattan restaurant - and she felt she did not get a good deal. The food is where Radisson exceeded my expectations the most. Signatures is definitely as good as a fancy Manhattan restaurant - and was included in the fare. Latitudes was also good - and the tasting menu was fun. The Compass Rose - the big restaurant where reservations are not required - was equally outstanding - with elegant service and a wonderful and changing menu. The cold cream of blueberry soup I had for lunch one day was wonderful. Service throughout was outstanding - there were four waiters who knew, when I arrived, that I wanted a Diet Coke and brought it without being asked. We often ate with a party of eight or a party of ten - with no problem. Wine flowed freely - with good wines. Port came with the cheese. Silver was exchanged for fish dishes. Even the upstairs breakfast buffet had extraordinary service - with waiters providing drinks and carrying plates and keeping an eye on everything. Once we adopted our favorite waiter, he saw to our every need. Entertainment was better than I expected - based on Royal Caribbean and Renaissance experience. The shows were more professional, performers were better, and the comedian was great. The pianist and guitarist in the lounge were also good. We excelled at trivia, so the afternoon tea with scones and clotted cream became a regular event. I didn't use the gym or spa - just the sauna, which was available at no cost [unlike the QM2 where you pay for the locker!]. My wife had two massages, which she loved. Walking the top deck in the morning was as close as I got to exercise - I also walked to meals! I did use the computer center, which only charges for communication time, so my ten and fifteen minute visits came to $2.50 type costs. One of the things I loved about this cruise was that I was not nickled and dimed to death. The extraordinary service was not in anticipation of a nice tip. The refills of coke were 'on the house'. After our propeller delay we even got free drinks. There were bottles of water to take with on shore excursions or when getting off the ship. While the shore excursions were pricey - they were not pricier than the independent tours I checked on the web before I left. It was a good deal. Unfortunately, we've been spoiled and will probably stick with Radisson from now on. Read Less
Sail Date June 2004
Review of Radisson Seven Seas Navigator ~ July 28, 2004 New York to Bermuda Guests: I am in my late thirties and serve as executive director of a charitable foundation. My husband is in his early forties and runs a consulting business. ... Read More
Review of Radisson Seven Seas Navigator ~ July 28, 2004 New York to Bermuda Guests: I am in my late thirties and serve as executive director of a charitable foundation. My husband is in his early forties and runs a consulting business. We have been on 15 previous cruises together, mostly on Princess and Celebrity to the Caribbean. Pre-Cruise: We departed Atlanta for New York the day before the cruise. This turned out to be wise, as we were delayed due to heavy storms on the way to Newark. After a 90-minute ground hold, our flight was released and was the last to land before Newark was closed for 3 hours later in the evening. We used Marriott Reward miles for a complimentary night at the New York Marriott Financial District. By the time we arrived, it was late and pouring outside, so we had a quick dinner at 85 West, the hotel bar/casual restaurant. Prior to making our way to the pier on Wednesday, we took a walking tour of Ground Zero, Wall Street and the Battery Park area. We had not been to New York since the 9/11 attacks, and the hole where the World Trade Center had been was a sobering reminder of the tragedy. Also, we noted a high degree of police presence around the NYSE, including guards with body armor and automatic weapons. (And this was the Wednesday before the terror alerts were issued on Sunday.) After a short cab ride to the pier, we were ready to board the Navigator. Embarkation: We arrived at the pier around 12:30 and were checked in with no waiting. A member of the ship's crew escorted us on board, where we were met with a glass of champagne, and directed to the Portofino Grill Restaurant for a buffet lunch. This was to be the beginning of a week of wonderful cuisine and service on the Navigator. On Princess and Celebrity cruises, we studiously avoid the buffet areas, because of the chaotic atmosphere. On the Navigator, the ratio of servers was much higher and the experience was much more relaxed. Since our suite was not yet ready, we left our carry luggage at the Reception Desk and ventured back off the ship to explore the USS Intrepid museum, which was located on the next pier. Although the flight deck was closed in preparation for Bobby Knievel's jump, to be televised on Saturday, we found the rest of the museum to be informative and entertaining. From there we were able to hear the Navigator's announcement that the suites were ready and headed back to the ship around 2:45. Suite: We had booked the ship's minimum accommodation, a Cat H oceanview suite on Deck 5. Having previously sailed in balcony staterooms and mini-suites on Princess and Celebrity, we found our suite on Radisson to exceed those accommodations in every respect (with the exception of the absence of the balcony.) We had been worried that we would miss having a balcony, but actually only wished for one the day we sailed from Bermuda. The suite was 301 sq. ft. and was separated into a bedroom and living area by a heavy curtain. The marble bathroom included a tub with hand-held and stationery faucet and a glass shower. One minor annoyance was the uneven water pressure and varying water temperature. After being scalded during my first shower, I used the tub for the rest of the voyage. The walk-in closet was more than ample for a week's worth of clothes and offered a tie rack, eight drawers and numerous hooks and shelves. It also had a safe which allowed you to set your own combination. A real plus to me were the real wooden hangers. The bedroom area had a king-size bed with an assortment of pillows and duvet cover. Although the bed was very comfortable, the pillows needed to be replaced. Night stands with two drawers and individual reading lights were on each side of the bed. The living area contained a long sofa, cocktail table and two small barrel chairs. On the opposite wall was a built-in cabinet holding a TV (with VCR), four additional drawers, a writing desk and bar setup. We requested our two complimentary bottles of liquor before going to dinner and they arrived with our turn-down that evening. A small fridge underneath contained 1 large and 2 small bottles of water, 2 Cokes, 2 diet Cokes, 2 7-Ups, 2 Club Soda, 2 Tonic Water and 2 Heinekens. All except the beer were replenished each day as they were consumed. Our cabin stewardess and her assistant (Jane and Stanley) were most efficient and unobtrusive. Sailing from New York: The sail away from New York Harbor was breathtaking and WINDY! The atmosphere was very festive, with the bar staff serving complimentary rum punch. (Lucky for me, that is my customary sail away beverage on every cruise!) As we stood near the bow watching the sights go by, we began to notice how many families with children were on board. Quick contextual note: We have an 11-year-old daughter, but made arrangements to go on this cruise without her due to our perception of the more adult, elegant and sophisticated atmosphere of Radisson Seven Seas Cruises. We like kids, but expect them to behave in a manner appropriate for their surroundings. We later learned that this voyage was a "Kids Under 17 Sail Free Promotion." There were 62 children on a ship with a normal capacity of 490. This is around the same ratio that Princess employs as the maximum number of children allowed on one of its ships. However, the big difference was that the Navigator had no dedicated facilities for children. Although they had 2 youth counselors on board, only about a third of the kids participated in the planned activities, leaving the rest to roam the ship with minimal supervision from their parents. The ship's security officers attempted to keep them under control, but were clearly outnumbered. Did the disruption caused by a number of unruly children ruin our cruise?? No way, the rest of the experience was too exceptional for that to happen. However, I would definitely check to make sure I was not sailing on the "Kids Sail Free" trip again. (The other dates for this season are the August 25 and September 1 sailings to Bermuda.) Dining: I can't think of enough superlatives to use to describe our dining experience on the Navigator. Each and every meal was a highlight! Standout items for me were: Eggs Florentine and Benedict, Beef Wellington, Seafood Newburg, Rack of Lamb and Almond Souffle with Vanilla Sauce. My husband loved the Lobster Tails and Chateaubriand. All of the appetizers, salads and soups were delicious. The desserts did not appeal to me as much, so I usually had cheese instead. I like white wine and hubby likes red, so which bottle to order usually becomes a negotiation. On Celebrity, we usually order one of each, since they are great about saving the remainder for the next night. Radisson has solved this problem with serving a house red and house white each evening free of charge. Service in the Compass Rose dining room and Portofino Grill was exceptional and unobtrusive. We never had any wait for a table for two. On the frequent occasions that my husband was having a hard time deciding between two entrEe choices, the waiters brought the one he ordered, along with a sample of the other. (Without being asked.) After the first night, the sommeliers remembered our wine preferences, and the waiters remembered that I drink regular coffee and hubby sticks to decaf. The Pool Grill served the usual fare of hamburgers, etc, with the addition of a poolside buffet. The Fish al Fresco and Tex Mex buffets were both very good. We were never in the mood to eat at tea time, but the pastries looked superb. Each night, there was a selection of canapEs in the lounges before dinner, which were a great accompaniment for our pre-dinner cocktail. Because we had read so many complaints about vibration at the aft of the vessel, we made reservations for Portofino (which is converted to the Italian alternative restaurant in the evening) for Saturday evening, which we would be docked in Hamilton. It was a fun, less formal, dining experience. The food was very delicious Northern Italian fare. The daily special that day was Osso Bucco with Risotto, which was as good as any I have had. Although each suite is limited to one reservation in Portofino per cruise, we were able to walk up and get a table on the last night, as they were not full. Bermuda: I can't comment much on the shopping, as my husband had us fully scheduled with activities during the hours the shops were open. (Coincidence? I suspect not!) Friday: Navigator docked promptly at 9:00. It was a national holiday (for the cricket Cup Match), so many shops were closed, and the bus/ferry system was operating on the holiday schedule. We took the 11:45 ferry to Somerset Bridge to get to Blue Water Diving at Robinson's Marina. Enjoyed a one-tank dive on Blue Hole, which featured a long swim-through. We returned to Hamilton via bus just in time to shower and get back off for the Chelonia Sunset Cruise. If you enjoy catamarans, cocktails, gourmet appetizers and interesting commentary from a captain whose family has lived in Bermuda for 200 years, this shore excursion is for you! Saturday: Caught the 7:15 (am!!) bus back out to Blue Water Divers for a two-tank dive. Our first site was the Badlands and Bad Caves. It is a large expanse of coral, with outcropping of fossilized algae (I think) forming overhangs that were interesting to swim through. The current was very strong, and we ended up a LONG way from the boat. Second site was the wreck of L'Hermine, a French battleship that ran aground. Although the wooden hull is long gone, there were 50+ cannons and a huge anchor. We took the bus to Horseshoe Bay, which is a beautiful beach, with very nice changing facilities. We were a little hesitant to swim, since the waves were crashing strongly over submerged rocks. Since we are not big "beach people", we enjoyed a long walk up and down the beach, then were back on the bus to Hamilton. The extent of my shopping in Bermuda was from 5:30 to 6:00 that day. My favorite store was Trimingham's, which seemed like Bermuda's version of Macy's. We found good souvenirs there and at Onion Jack's Trading Post. Sunday: The threat of high winds prevented us from repositioning to St. George's for the day. The ship provided bus passes for those of us who wanted to go over on our own. We were scheduled to play 18 holes at St. George's Club, but cut back to 11 to allow plenty of travel time to get back to the ship. Frank Thomas, the golf pro on board, encouraged us to play, even though we had not planned on it when we packed. St. George's Club is a par 62 course, with all par 3 and 4 holes. The course is tight, with some great views over the ocean. Although there are undoubtedly better courses in Bermuda, this one was fun for a beginner and a 10 handicap to play together. The course had a very casual atmosphere, and we were not self-conscious playing in our tennis shoes with rental clubs. Also, the price was very reasonable. Shortly after the ship sailed, the Captain announced that Tropical Storm Alex was approaching Cape Hatteras and was expected to reach Hurricane Force. Instead of sailing to Norfolk, VA as scheduled, we sailed to Newport, RI to avoid the storm. This was fine for us, since we would still get back to New York as scheduled. However, it created great complications for those who expected to disembark in Norfolk. Most of them stayed on the ship an extra night and disembarked in New York. The cruise line provided motor coach transportation back to Norfolk on Wednesday. Newport: This unexpected diversion ended up being delightful for us. We toured The Breakers, the 138,000 square foot summer home of the Vanderbilt family. From there, we could see the Cliff Walk, a 3.5 mile pathway along the cliffs. We figured that we were about 2 miles from the end, where we could pick up the trolley to ride back downtown. After walking for about 20 minutes along a nice wide walkway on top of the sea wall with great views of some of the other mansions, we encountered a sign warning that it was 2 miles until the next exit. No problem, we thought, we can easily walk 2 miles. After another 30 minutes of increasingly rocky terrain, we came to a sign that said "Next ¾ mile is very uneven. Turn back if you are unsure of your capabilities." Boy, we're glad we wore tennis shoes, we thought, and forged ahead. It took us another 45 minutes or so of climbing up and down the rocks to make it to the end. The Cliff Walk turned out to be another fun adventure for us, but might have posed a problem for people with physical limitations. Since we entered the walk in the middle we missed signs advising of the length and level of difficulty. The best views of the mansions and easiest walk was between Salve Regina University and the "Next Exit 2 miles" sign. Random thoughts on random topics: Bermuda Bus/Ferry System: We found this to be a great way to see the island, and it was clean, safe and economical. (I was too much of a chicken to rent mopeds and drive on the left.) We purposely chose different routes each way so that we could see as much of the island as possible. By the end of the three days, we had covered all but the Dockyards area. Note: Although there is a stop in front of Horseshoe Bay, it's a pretty long walk down (and back up, of course!) a hill to get to the beach. Diving in Bermuda: We have done most of our previous diving in the Southern Caribbean. I like the fact that all of our dives in Bermuda were more shallow (between 30 and 40 ft. max), and we saw some very interesting coral formations and shipwrecks. However the abundance and variety of sea life and color is far superior in the Southern Caribbean, IMO. Vibration: Much has been written about vibration at the aft end of the Navigator. It was very pronounced while the ship was underway in the Portofino Grill on deck 10 and the Seven Seas Show Lounge on deck 7. I can only imagine that it would have been felt in the aft passenger accommodations as well. Our cabin was near midships on deck 5, and there was no vibration or perceptible noise at all. I think this must bother some people more than others. We noticed the vibration in Portofino, but were not concerned. However, the couple at the table next to us asked to be moved to a table more midships to avoid it. Is Radisson Seven Seas really "all-inclusive"?: The only things that we signed for were shore excursions, shop purchases, photographs and a few beers by the pool. Although we don't typically drink during the day, we enjoy our pre-dinner cocktails and wine with dinner. The en suite bar setup and complimentary wine with dinner eliminated a pretty sizable line item on other cruises. Also, it just seems right that all soft drinks, juice and bottled water should be included. None of the staff seemed to expect tipping, which created a much more relaxed and genuine interaction with them. Photographs: The photo shop offered a "Cruise Memories" special whereby one could purchase ALL photos taken during the cruise for $99. This was a great way to avoid making decisions! As you can tell, we loved the Navigator and would recommend it highly! P.S. Upon our return to Atlanta, I spoke with our travel agent (who has booked at least our last dozen cruises). She was unaware of the "Kids Sail Free" promotion, but did not seem surprised. Apparently, Crystal Cruises initiated the practice. In any event, she said that she would call the Radisson District Sales Manager to register our concern. Read Less
Sail Date July 2004
After 14 days onboard the SEVEN SEAS MARINER, I am having a hard time adjusting to life back on land. No, it was actually not the ship that made it special - I just love cruising on any ship, anywhere in the world. Radisson Seven Seas ... Read More
After 14 days onboard the SEVEN SEAS MARINER, I am having a hard time adjusting to life back on land. No, it was actually not the ship that made it special - I just love cruising on any ship, anywhere in the world. Radisson Seven Seas Cruises trots the globe with a small fleet of luxury ships. Radisson claims to be the company that offers the finest ships afloat. However, after cruises on other lines, namely Crystal Cruises, I have to disagree. The 3-year old, all-suite, all-balcony SEVEN SEAS MARINER is undoubtedly a luxurious, beautiful floating resort. And while there were many positives to rave about, I found just as many negatives to grouse about and those, unfortunately, slanted my view of the cruise overall. Our cruise was 2 weeks in Asia, sailing from Tokyo to Osaka & Hiroshima in Japan, and then on to Dalian, Tianjin/Beijing & Shanghai in China before ending in Hong Kong  (Note: I had to list Yokohama as Embarkation Port in the above field as Tokyo was not given as an option). The ports made the cruise, as each city was beautiful and fascinating. Asia was never high on my list of places to see, but having returned now I cannot wait to go back. Overnight calls in Osaka, Tianjin/Beijing, Shanghai & Hong Kong were spectacular as we were allowed more time to learn about these cities and experience the nightlife. Onboard ship, the first thing that struck me as being a bit odd was the indifference we experienced from the crew. For every smile we got from a staff member, there were two more in line who acted annoyed and bothered to be there working. The staff at Reception were stone-faced and many wait staff seemed to be distracted and inattentive. We spent many meals in the Compass Rose (the main dining room)waiting for water, drinks and bread, while servers chatted among themselves or disappeared altogether. Radisson has an open-seating policy which I don't care for. You don't get the same servers and, therefore, your dining preferences are not learned and there is no relationship built between guest and server. We had to track down our favorite servers and try to be seated at their station. Many thanks go out to Jerome from Germany and Renata from Hungary who were superstars in the dining room - always had a smile, joke and menu recommendation. We tipped them handsomely despite the line's no tipping policy. The ship itself is a stunning example of contemporary European design, following in the footsteps of older sister SEVEN SEAS NAVIGATOR which I sailed on in 2000. Despite catering to a well-heeled, reserved, 60-year old + crowd, this ship is shockingly modern. The decor is bright and airy and the suites are roomy and gorgeous. Every room is a suite, and every suite has a balcony. And truly, there is just nothing like cruising with a private veranda! This is not a ship to sail on for excitement. In fact, this was the most uneventful environment I had ever seen. Once dinner is over, the ship quiets down for the night. Once 10:30 hits, you can hear a pin drop. I entertained myself at Club.com by checking out the Internet. I am in my 20's, and while I am well-traveled and sail with only the best cruise lines, I found myself trying to stay awake onboard due to lack of activity. Stars, the disco on Deck 6, would blast hot dance tracks all night - only problem is that the only people in there were the lonely bartenders who stood at the bar chatting all night. A younger crowd drunkenly used the room sporadically toward the end of the 2 weeks for Karaoke, but even that was tame by typical standards. The food was a disappointment, I have to admit. While it was perfectly presented, the portions were tiny and tasteless. I usually ordered a BLT or a hamburger for most meals as those were the only substantial items. An amazing appetizer or main course would appear every now and then, but then we were stuck with the appallingly bad desserts and pastries. There are 2 alternative restaurants which were stunning and offered exotic cuisine, but these highlights were not enough to make up for the overall poor culinary quality. One of the two alternative restaurants were turned into a "Roadside Diner" for the last week of the cruise with the worst food I had ever eaten. Europeans really should not try to mimic classic American diner food. It was a cute idea, but poorly done. Entertainment was run-of-the-mill with a big Broadway-style show every few nights, mixed with cheesy variety acts the other nights. The production shows("Thoroughly Modern Broadway", "Beyond Imagination" and a Beatles show) were well-done and high quality. However, the Beatles show was cancelled on our cruise due to production difficulties; i.e. an unprepared dance team. Overall, I enjoyed my time onboard SEVEN SEAS MARINER. It is a gorgeous ship with amazing suites and phenomenal decor. And while there was good service here and there, and good food here and there, the quality level was spotty from day one and atypical of a line of this caliber. Radisson tries to be Crystal, but misses the mark. Asia was the highlight and I will definitely visit there on a cruise again. And despite my complaints, I WILL sail with Radisson again. With a tweak here and there, they have the potential to be as solid as they claim to be. Read Less
Sail Date September 2004
(NOTE: We actually embarked in Tokyo and disembarked in Hong Kong, but neither port was given as an option) What a treat from start to finish. No embarkation hassles - no cattle call in a terminal, we just walked on. A glass of champagne ... Read More
(NOTE: We actually embarked in Tokyo and disembarked in Hong Kong, but neither port was given as an option) What a treat from start to finish. No embarkation hassles - no cattle call in a terminal, we just walked on. A glass of champagne as we walked on. Staff and crew lined up to greet us. Efficient, polite, helpful. All outside balcony cabins. What more could a person ask. We have cruised on four other lines and this surpassed them all. The ship was just over half full so the crew to passenger ratio was 1:1. Most days (excepting lunch time) the pool deck was near empty. The bar waiters were only too happy to do ANYTHING for you. No lineups for dinner at any of the venues. The reservations-only dining rooms were superb in terms of menu and wine lists. Perhaps a little stiff with the dress code and they wouldn't accept last-minute requests for seatings. We never ate in the Compass Rose but we were told that the menus there were also terrific. Afternoon tea was delightful, morning coffee and pastries at the computer area was a must. Cabins were kept spotless and cleaned twice daily. Decent daily schedules with a variety of offerings. Computer education classes every day were well-attended. Often it was a lengthy wait to get near any of the computers, especially days at sea, because everyone is now hooked into the internet. That's when the coffee and danish table came in handy!! The gym is well-equipped and the fitness programs were standard. The library and video selection is good. The in-cabin TV service is just okay. Got a little tired of the Story of Mao and the Biography of Confucious. It was an ambitious itinerary - I think this was the first time in these ports of call (Tokyo, Osaka, Hiroshima, Dalian, Tianjin/Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong). The shore excursions were well-organized despite the problems encountered with local authorities in Dalian and a late arrival in Tianjin. The Dalian tours were cut short by at least an hour, which really was no loss. Not much to offer and I think tourism is a new concept for this city. They tried hard, though. We didn't have as much time as we would have like to have in Beijing, particularly at the Forbidden City. We arrived 30 minutes before closing - hardly enough time to take it all in. My only disappointment was that, other than the stage show, there was not much action after dinner as the median age of the clientele seemed to be at least 70+ and all other times the decorum was "veddy prawpah". (older and wealthy). Our group, being younger, received more than a few sideways stares as we tried to enjoy ourselves. As a matter of fact, most of the time you could walk the common areas, lounges, etc. in the evening and not see anyone. So unless this was an anomaly, we wouldn't recommend this particular itinerary to people who want to party hearty. Try Carnival instead!! Read Less
Sail Date September 2004
Pre-Cruise - At the Sleep Inn Yesterday we flew from Portland to Ft. Lauderdale. We got up at 4 am PST for a 6:45 am flight and arrived at out hotel at 6:30 pm EST. We had a free Frequent Flyer flight on Southwest which involved 2 stops ... Read More
Pre-Cruise - At the Sleep Inn Yesterday we flew from Portland to Ft. Lauderdale. We got up at 4 am PST for a 6:45 am flight and arrived at out hotel at 6:30 pm EST. We had a free Frequent Flyer flight on Southwest which involved 2 stops before we got to Ft. Lauderdale. Last month we flew to New York non-stop on Continental and even though Southwest had more stops (2) and hassles, ultimately it was a more comfortable flight than Continental. My back started hurting the minute I sat down on Continental. The Southwest seats were slightly wider and had lumbar support. To entertain ourselves we brought our laptop computer and some DVDs (Harvey and Shattered Glass) and that really helped to pass the time. We had chosen to stay at the Sleep Inn & Suites, Ft. Lauderdale International Airport . We were able to use Choice Privileges points for a free night. (This is an excellent reward program. We also converted some Choice Privileges points to Southwest in order to get our free flights.) The Sleep Inn had a free shuttle which picked us up at the airport within about 15 minutes after we called. The hotel is very attractive and our room is quite comfortable - looks a bit like some of the new Holiday Inn Expresses we have seen in our frequent activity of me dragging Mary to look at hotels. Free high-speed internet is included (thus this post). I had to give them a $5 deposit for a cable. The wireless up in the room is completely useless. We ordered dinner from Hunan Wok, a Chinese restaurant across the street, and they delivered it to us in less than 15 minutes. It was inexpensive and good. Mary said her chicken egg food young was the best she'd ever had. I don't know if it really was or if things just taste better when you're as exhausted as we were. I ordered something called Triple Delight which was prawns, chicken, beef, and vegetables and it was quite good also. There is also an Italian restaurant within walking distance. After a night's sleep (we went to bed at 10 pm quite easily even though that was only 7 pm in Portland) we can report that the bed and pillows were quite comfortable. Mary woke up this morning at 5 am and went down to the lobby to read. She says the chairs down there were very comfortable also. When I woke up, there was a Miami Herald outside our door and they had a free breakfast downstairs. Though there wasn't really anything I wanted at the buffet, it included waffles, pancakes, biscuits and gravy, oatmeal, cold cereal in cute little boxes, sweet rolls, toast, bagels, apples, and three juices (two sugary tropical drinks and orange juice.) Mary reports that the gravy was good but lukewarm; the oatmeal was good. I went to Walgreen's (which is very conveniently located across the parking lot) and bought myself some apple juice. It is hot and humid here. I think it's kind of neat - Mary not so much. My three complaints about the Sleep Inn: 1. the windows don't open - I don't like having to sleep all night with the air conditioner on. 2. there was some construction nearby and when I was falling asleep I kept hearing a beeping noise that sounded like a truck backing up (Mary couldn't hear it and wished I would stop waking her up.) There's a slight possibility that the beeping noise was my laptop battery dying. 3. Though we're on a non-smoking floor, people are clearly smoking down the hall from us. We can't tell in the room, but it really smells in the hallway. I don't know how much hotels can do about that. Personally, if I ran a hotel, there would be some hefty fines for smoking in a non-smoking room. Overall, this is a great place to stay for the night before a cruise when all you need is some food and a bed. They have a free shuttle to the cruiseport. They'll take us there at noon, and we will begin our cruise! Day 1 - Leaving Ft. Lauderdale After a lovely relaxing morning, we went down to the Sleep Inn lobby at noon to catch the free shuttle to the cruiseport. I had two days worth of the Miami Herald, 1 USA Today, and somehow I had talked Mary into carrying my bags of carrots and turkey which I planned to eat on the shuttle. However, the shuttle driver enjoyed driving fast and then making very abrupt stops (he would make a perfect Tri-Met bus driver) so I did not eat, and we were both probably more carsick on the way to the cruiseport than we would ever be seasick on the cruise itself. It took a while to get to the cruiseport, as we had to first drive around the airport twice - once to drop off some passengers, then to pick up some others. At the cruiseport we were met at the curb by very friendly Radisson representatives and a baggage handler who surprised us by hitting us up for a tip after taking our bags. (This was in front of huge signs that said, "Workers are salaried. Tipping not required." It was also quite surprising given Radisson's no-tipping policy.) We tipped him a dollar a bag. Inside the large cruise port as we were trying to figure out where to go, a Radisson representative approached us and said, "May I help you? Are you in transit? Are you working on the ship?" I must say, that given our tendency to be concerned that we don't fit into these classy settings in the first place, this was not the best way to begin the cruise. However, Mary was dressed a little more casually than I was, and was, unfortunately, still carrying my bags of carrots and turkey. This probably did not help us in our hopes to look like we fit in. Next time, we will definitely avoid carrying little bags of food onto the ship. That woman was the ONLY Radisson employee who ever treated us as if we didn't belong. The woman who checked us in was very nice and acted as if it was nothing when the carrots leaked on the counter as we were being photographed and given our plastic room cards. These cards were in lovely leatherette cases and also functioned as credit cards during the cruise, as well as serving as our identification for getting on and off the ship. There was no photo on them, but when the security person swiped the card, she would see a photo of us on her screen. We boarded the ship to extremely welcoming Radisson representatives, were each given a glass of champagne, and directed to Deck 10 where there was a buffet at the Portofino Grill and hamburgers, hot dogs, french fries, salad, etc, poolside. I spent the first few hours looking at the other passengers and saying things like, "They don't look any better than us. I wonder if THEY were asked if they were working on the ship!" (Mary has just interrupted me to say that she wonders if there's something a little classiest about being offended because they thought we were working on the ship. I suppose there could be, but mostly I was offended because we were clearly heading towards the line to check in, and the woman made an assumption that we didn't belong there. ) I tend to get very sensitive about these things, while Mary just thought it was funny. It probably took me about two days to realize that we basically fit in just fine. Later when I saw Patrick Swayze (more about that later - I just thought I'd begin with some name-dropping) he looked more casual than we did. Was HE asked if he was working on the ship? Anyway, we sat down to eat, and by now I was making a big effort to hide the turkey and carrots inside the newspapers. (Mary had thrust them back at me immediately after the carrot leaking incident at check-in.) I forced Mary to move tables when I came back from selecting my food inside and found that a woman was smoking right next to us and the smoke was coming directly at us. I'll talk more later about Radisson's smoking policy, which I think could be improved. For now, I'll say that now I was all worked up about the smoking AND the fact that in my mind we clearly didn't fit in on this ship, and poor Mary had to suffer as she always does when we begin our vacations and I worry about every little thing for the first day or so. For lunch, I had, from the buffet inside: fresh roasted turkey, salmon, salad with virgin olive oil and lime dressing, roast potatoes, and potato salad. Mary ate from the pool grill — hamburger (no bun), french fries, caesar salad from salad bar, fresh fruit, potato salad, and "exotic cold fruit soup" Mary loved her fruit soup. After lunch, Mary wanted to explore and begin photographing the ship. I wanted to do all the things I had read one must do when first boarding the ship, so I forced Mary to go to various places, all the time exhorting her to hurry, hurry, hurry. We went up to the spa and stood in line for about 15 minutes or so to get spa appointments. We made our appointments for Tuesday afternoon. The cost was $110 for a 5o minute massage, certainly higher than we would pay on land, but we thought it would be lovely. If you made the reservation for a morning when the ship was in port, you would get an additional 15 minutes for the same price. However, we wanted our massages right before dinner. After we booked the massages, Mary said to me, "Come here, I want to show you something." I knew she didn't want to show me something, but someone as she had been whispering to me earlier and I had no idea what she was saying. She asked me to look at the man who had been behind us in line and said, "Could that be Elaine's boyfriend from Seinfeld?" It couldn't be Elaine's boyfriend, but it did look very much like the actor who played Elaine's boss, J. Peterman. She said his voice sounded like the actor's voice also. We would encounter him quite a bit in the next few days, and if we had known the actor's name, John O'Hurley, I might have asked him if that was who he was. But for now, we would just have to wonder. Next we went to the library. I was not overly impressed with the selection of books. They were mostly older best-sellers, very little literary fiction, a few old magazines, but there were a lot of books, and I'm sure if I hadn't brought books to read, I would have found something to interest me. There was a very impressive selection of travel books, and a very large number of videotapes. We never borrowed any of those as there were several good movies playing on the tv channels in the cabin. Finally, we went to the Portofino Grill, the alternative restaurant and made reservations for dinner that night at 6:30. After that we toured the entire ship and Mary began her photographic documentary. Suite 525 - M/S Seven Seas Navigator At 3:00 we were allowed to enter our suite. I was dismayed to discover that on one side of us we had two or three giggling teenage girls (though generally Radisson cruisers are older - I've heard most are in their 60s or 70s - we had managed to book a Spring Break cruise) and on the other side of us were smokers. The hallway often stunk of smoke, but they are constantly cleaning the ship, so it only smelled when someone was actually smoking or had just smoked. The suite was lovely. In the sitting area was a champagne bucket with our welcome bottle of champagne, and an orchid on a side table. Our luggage was on the bed on top of a plastic cover to keep the bedspread clean. There was plenty of room in the walk-in closet for our clothes - lots of hangers, and a dresser with 6 or 8 drawers. The safe in the closet was not large enough for our laptop computer, but it worked fine for everything else we considered valuable. There were also a lot of drawers and storage space throughout the room - more than we used. We unpacked immediately and made ourselves at home. Very shortly, Noel, our steward, came to introduce himself to us. He was worried at first that they had configured the bed wrong (as a queen instead of two twins) but we assured him that was correct. He asked us what we would like in our bar setup, and told us he would "take good care" of us. Indeed he did. Throughout the cruise he was attentive, sweet, and unobtrusive. He kept our refrigerator stocked with water and ginger ale, which we had told him we preferred. We got totally spoiled with the twice-a-day service. Our room was always clean and well-stocked, and he seemed to know without us telling him when we were in or out of the room, so we never had to wait around for service and only a few times did we have to get out of his way so he could clean the room. It was so wonderful to always have clean, dry towels, even if we showered twice in one day. Noel was in the hallway all day long cleaning people's rooms and always stopped to make brief conversation with us as we came or left. When we were separated he would sometimes report where the other person was. Once as I searched the ship for Mary and finally returned to the room, Noel reported from the hallway, "Your partner is in there. She just got back." I know it may sound a little big-brotherish, but it didn't feel that way. It was actually quite sweet. The window in the room was smaller than it had looked in the photos. One thing we did regret was not booking a balcony. We tried to upgrade once we got on the ship, but the ship was full. If you are lying on the bed or even sitting in the sitting area, you can only see the sky out the window. The window was too high to see the ocean from a seated position, and I would have liked to have been able to sit and watch the ocean. Also, a balcony is the only way to get fresh air into your room. Of course, with smokers next door, we probably would not have been getting fresh air. The bathroom was very big - separate tub and shower. We were supplied with cottonballs, q-tips, shower caps, and the following Aveda toiletries: shampoo, conditioner, body wash, soap, and lotion. The shower had a hand-held shower massage which I loved. Because of the slope of the ship, it didn't always totally drain while I was showering, but I can't imagine that anything can be done about that. There were always two bath towels, two wonderfully large bath sheets, two hand towels, and two washcloths. There was also plenty of storage space in the bathroom for our own toiletries. The sheets and pillowcases were also lovely - very soft and pretty. Initially we had four down pillows. We requested two additional firm pillows and received them immediately. They weren't terribly firm - Mary always needed me to tell her which pillows were the firm ones and which ones the down - but I was happy with them. The beds had no top sheet but a down duvet, which was tucked in at the bottom. We are used to a larger duvet - at home we have a king size on a queen size bed - so sometimes we fought a bit over who had more covers, but in general it was lovely. The bed configuration, two twin beds pressed together, was a little strange - sometimes they separated a bit in the middle, but it was okay. Mary did not like the bedspread on top of the duvet. It was a bit worn-looking and not soft or beautiful. In general, Mary's impression of the ship was that some things were a bit more worn-down than she would have expected, but that overall the ship was also more beautiful than she had expected. There was a tv and a vcr in the room. We never used the vcr other than to look at the time on the clock. Whenever there was a time change, Noel also changed the time on the vcr, a detail which I very much appreciated. There were 16 channels on the tv. Mary's favorites were a live view from the bridge and a map showing our location and where we were heading. These two channels played music to accompany the video: "Pop, Big Band and Light Jazz" and "Classical Music". The other channels included CNN International, ESPN International, TNT International, In Port Shopping Information, Future Cruise Presentation, Documentary Channel (which actually seemed to be the view from the ship's bridge), Port and Tour Talk, CNBC, Onboard Promotions and three movie channels. I really liked the movie channels. Each day there were three different movies to choose from and they ran (for free) at various times throughout the day. We watched Kinsey and Birth. I thought Birth, which Mary slept through, was really stupid. We both enjoyed Kinsey. (I missed the first 30 minutes or so.) There was a clip on the outside of the cabin door where messages and invitations were left. I loved this. It kind of reminded me of living in a dorm room in college and looking for messages on my whiteboard. Every morning a daily satellite news sheet would be clipped to the door. The news was usually a day old or so, but I quite enjoyed it. At the end of the cruise, I discovered that there were different editions of this satellite news sheet depending on what country you were from. On the last day I picked up the British edition where the headline was about Prince Charles hating the press rather than about Terri Schiavo which was our headline all week long. Our First Evening on the Ship Around 6 pm we put on our grown-up clothes and went to the sail away party. Here, the cruise director, Sam Perry, introduced key personnel, and the ship's orchestra, The Navigator Five, played. I learned very quickly that it is a bad idea to buy brand new sandals for a cruise and not break them in beforehand. The snacks at the sail away party were very good: fresh fruit, shrimp in an ice sculpture, satay - chicken, shrimp and beef - little sandwiches, and many trays of rum punch making the rounds. As we pulled away from the dock and headed off to sea, we were instructed to wave to the residents of an apartment building as we passed by - they apparently expect it and waved back. We thought that was very fun. We went to the the Portofino Grill for dinner, where the theme was Italian Steakhouse. There we were lavished with attention, and we loved the staff. The meal began with an antipasto buffet - salad, artichoke hearts, grilled vegetables, tomato and mozzarella drizzled with pesto - very delicious. Mary's entree was a huge New York steak, and my entree was grilled shrimp. They made some vegetables especially for us with no butter. They were very good. Mary could see how foodies would find things to be disappointed in, but as we're not foodies, we were very satisfied. Mary had both white and red wine with dinner, I only had white. We had two waiters, a wine steward, the sommelier and the head waiter helping us order and checking on us often, as well as the strolling guitar player Roberto Rossini. Everyone was very friendly and genuine. I startled Arlene, the wine steward, by telling her that I recognized her because I had seen her picture on the internet and read about her on cruisecritic.com. I told her I would find the link for her so she could see what I meant. We enjoyed the Portofino food, atmosphere and service so much we made another reservation for Thursday (the last night of the cruise.) After dinner, we strolled around the ship, headed back to our room and shed our skirts so they wouldn't wrinkle (we planned to head back out). Mary was using the facilities, and I was lounging on the bed when we heard a strange noise. We were in the process of trying to figure out what it was, when Noel the steward walked in - it was the doorbell. Mary slammed the bathroom door, and I threw on Mary's skirt (which did NOT match my top.) Noel presented us with our liquor request, a bottle of chardonnay and a bottle of champagne (neither of which we ever touched - they would both come home in Mary's suitcase, making it very close to exceeding the 50 lb. weight limit.) I said to Noel, "Oh, we were wondering what that funny little noise was." He laughed and said, "It's the doorbell." Then he rang it a couple more times and said, "The doorbell, see?" We got dressed and turned in a coupon to get a free $5 table bet to add to a minimum $5 bet at the casino. But we didn't play. We checked out the stores - nothing to write home about. I called it a night, and Mary went up on deck 12 to watch the full moon, then to the Seven Seas Lounge to the advertised "Big Band Night" featuring the Navigator 5. (Mary likes Big Band music, plus was curious how 5 could be a Big Band. Apparently, they can't.) She said it was more earnest than good. They didn't actually play Big Band music, but standards from the 50's to 80's. She was asked to dance by the gentleman host, but I believe she turned him down. She enjoyed the show, especially watching the few people who were dancing. Later in the cruise she would comment to me, "Apparently the only men on this ship who know how to dance are the gentleman hosts," as there were generally only two couples dancing at any given time - the gentleman hosts and whomever they had asked to dance. Mary said there was a very sparse turnout for the show, though more were coming in as she was leaving. She thought it was a very low profile for an opening night. We were both in bed by 10 pm. Day 2 - At Sea Our first night at sea, I slept great, Mary not so great. At some point very early in the morning, Mary went out on deck while I continued to sleep. Then she came back and we both slept. We were awakened by a strange noise. Mary said, "What's that noise?" but I remembered from my lesson yesterday. I glanced at the clock, threw on a robe (lovely bathrobes provided by Radisson) and answered the door. It was room service delivering the 4 glasses of pineapple juice which we had asked to be delivered at 9 am. I took it and then began grumbling to Mary, "Well, I guess it's okay to have our 9 am room service delivered at 7 am!" I had read that room service didn't always get the orders right. I was very shocked when Mary told me it was 9 am. I hadn't slept that late in ages! We had our juice and then had to go to the Compass Rose to give them our menu choices for the evening. Because we both had special dietary needs, a menu came to our door late every evening and we would circle what we wanted and return it by 10 am the next morning. Then they would prepare our requests without using wheat, dairy or sugar. We had planned to eat breakfast at the Compass Rose but we didn't realize they closed at 9:30. In the restaurants a waiter would always take the woman's arm and lead the couple to their table. In our case, I was the one whose arm usually got taken - I think because I generally started out doing most of the talking. Occasionally a second waiter was rustled up to escort Mary also. This morning a waiter took my arm and escorted us through the restaurant, out the other door, and to the elevator where he directed us to the Portofino Grill which was still open. We found this quite amusing, especially as I was talking at him and waving the menus around while he was escorting me. (We're SO much more sophisticated now, a week later, than we were when we started this cruise!) Up at Portofino, Mary had scrambled eggs, a hash brown patty, and fruit. I had watermelon (it mostly tasted like water) and pineapple juice. Mary was disappointed that they only had what seemed like frozen hash brown patties and never "real" hash browns. While we were gone, Noel had cleaned our room and given us ginger ale and water for our refrigerator. Mary had spilled on herself at breakfast. This was to be a constant occurrence throughout the cruise, though she says she got better later on as she got her sea legs (I can't say I noticed this.) She went to do a load of laundry in the launderette right down the hall. The washers, driers, and detergent were free. The detergent was in a machine hooked up to the washer by a tube. You started the washer and then pushed a button which dispensed detergent into the machine through the tube. It was great fun. We did laundry almost every day. (There were also lovely irons in the laundry room.) We spent the morning reading and lying around, and then went to lunch. There was a selection of grilled fish at the pool grill: salmon, tuna, halibut and grouper. We went into Portofino and got fixings from the salad bar, and they brought us vegetables and potatoes that had not been cooked in butter. They were delicious. I sat down and Mary went outside and got fish for both of us. They were all very good. Mary especially liked the grouper, and we both agreed it was very brave of her to try it (she's not much of a seafood girl). After lunch we walked around outside a bit, then came back to the room. We watched some of the NCAA women's basketball tournament on tv, then I read and Mary fell asleep. Mary woke up and went out on Deck 12, which was the top deck. She brought her MP3 player with her, and stood where there weren't any people and the wind was loud. Then she sang outloud with her MP3 player because no one could hear her. She had a great time. While she was singing on deck, I was sleeping. I spent a lot of time napping the first 4 days of the cruise. I was getting over the flu, and still pretty tired. Most of the activities I wanted to do I missed because I was sleeping. But hey, you can't knock sleeping. It's an excellent activity in itself. At 5:30 we went to the library to ask the computer instructor what to do about our laptop that wouldn't turn on. I kind of vaguely remembered what to do, but not exactly and he told us: remove the battery and then turn it on without the battery. That worked. Throughout the cruise we had problems with the electricity in our cabin, though. The laptop was very erratic the entire time, constantly going into hibernate mode for no reason, and the battery charger for our camera wouldn't work at all. (Both of these problems were gone once we were off the ship.) As we returned to our cabin, people were walking about in their formal wear in anticipation of the captain's welcome party and formal night. Not us. We went back to the room and ordered room service drinks: a bottle of Pellegrino, a glass of pineapple juice, and a cup of decaf coffee. We sort of watched the sunset through our window (in order to see it we had to stand the whole time.) For dinner, we had room service. I had a citrus and avocado salad, steamed vegetables, and salmon. The avocado was kind of hard and not very tasty - the salad was okay. Everything was good, not great. Mary had a tomato, blue cheese and basil salad with balsamic vinaigrette dressing, mushroom soup which she said was very yummy, and boneless breast of chicken which she described as simple, but very moist. She was very happy. They didn't bring us any wine and we didn't ask since one of the room service people was sick and they were overworked and understaffed. They said they would bring us gluten-free bread, but then the head waiter called and apologized that there wasn't any yet, but that starting the next day there would be gluten free bread available for us every day, breakfast, lunch and dinner, in every restaurant in the ship. And so it was (other than the pool grill) and there were a number of waiters who took great pleasure in asking us, the moment we sat down, if we would like our gluten free bread. After dinner, we went up to the pool deck so we would be out of Noel's way while he did our turndown. It was completely deserted, which was lovely. We looked at the moon and spied on people in their formal wear. And that was our formal night. Day 3 - Easter Sunday with Stingrays on Grand Turk Today was Easter Sunday and there were wonderful displays of chocolate easter bunnies and candy eggs, all over the ship (Strangely, the somewhat disconcerting watermelon carvings of Jesus and Mary wouldn't turn up until the following Tuesday). We had room service breakfast, and then went on the Swimming With Stingrays excursion. We tendered to Grand Turk, a tiny scrub of beach. A little band was playing and there were two or three people selling things. We met our tour operators who took us to Gibbs Cay on a skiff. There, they set up umbrellas on the beach, put out a cooler of drinks and a bucket of masks and snorkels, and we swam in the ocean while they tried to entice the stingrays to come in. There wasn't much to see in the ocean, but Mary learned that if you floated face down near the shore, you would be surrounded by schools of little tiny white fish. That was very cool. (I learned, later on that day, to reapply my sunscreen and wear a shirt over my bathing suit. BAD sunburn!) We each had an underwater camera. Mary used up all the shots on hers almost immediately, taking pictures of white fish against the white sand. Mary says, "I'm sure the results will be spectacular." (We haven't developed this film yet, which also went through x-ray on the way back to Portland. I haven't even taken all the photos in my camera.) It had been over an hour with no stingrays and I had figured we weren't going to see any, when they finally got one stingray to come visit us. Everyone headed over to the stingray and the tour operators handed out dead fish to anyone who wanted to feed the stingray. The stingray was extremely sociable, doing an excellent job of making the rounds of the people, brushing up against them. He was a bit slimy on top, very soft on his underside. I fed him three times. The first two times I got a little freaked out and dropped the fish before it got to his mouth (which is on his underside). The third time he sucked it out of my hand. It was a really strange sensation. I loved this excursion, visiting with the stingray, and swimming in the ocean. I hadn't swum in the ocean since I was eleven years old, and thanks to the sunburn I was getting, I wouldn't for the rest of the cruise. Oh well, live and learn, I hope. On the tender back to the ship, I sat across from the possible Seinfeld actor. There were people on the tender from all different excursions, and a woman asked us how the swimming with stingrays was. I held up one finger and said, "Swimming with stingray." The possible Seinfeld actor commented that as it was Easter Sunday, the others probably were busy elsewhere. We had lunch at the Portofino grill, which was actually very crowded with a fairly long line and some alarmist people saying there was no place to sit. (This actually wasn't true.) At the pool grill they had a Mexican fiesta, which also had a very long line. This was the only time on the entire cruise that we encountered long lines for food, and I don't know if it was because they had advertised an Easter Sunday buffet, or if everyone just came back from Grand Turk at the same time. Before dinner, Mary wanted to check out a show that was the cruise director singing Frank Sinatra songs. I begged to leave after three songs, and she conceded. She mentioned to me that he reminded her of an unfunny Jack McFarland (from Will and Grace) and this made me laugh. Later on one other passenger said that the cruise director reminded him of Jack McFarland. We weren't fond of the cruise director as he seemed a little too showy and pleased with himself, but I believe we were in the minority in that opinion. We went to the photo shop to see if they could sell us something to clean a smudge off our camera (if you look closely, you'll see the smudge on most of our photos ), and he didn't have anything, but we stood around looking at photos of everyone from formal night and eventually he brought out a photo to show us of all the celebrities on board. Now we learned that Mary is great at spotting celebrities. The guy we thought might be from Seinfeld was actually the guy from Seinfeld. The other celebrity pointed out to us was Patrick Swayze. Apparently others in the photo were also celebrities, but we didn't recognize anyone else, and neither did the ship's photographer. We had dinner at the Compass Rose with four other couples. It was our first attempt at socializing, and we had a nice time. One of the women told a story about how she was riding the elevator with Patrick Swayze and he asked, "Is this the 10th floor?" She said, "No, Patrick, this is the 9th floor." And he smiled at her and said, "And what is your name?" She was very pleased with this encounter. We had yet to spot a glimpse of Patrick Swayze, but I told Mary that when we did, I would be sure to say to him, "Nobody puts Baby in the corner." After dinner, Mary wanted to check out the show, the Terhune dancers. I chose not to. She came back and said, "It was silly, but fun. I always like listening to show tunes." I don't think she thought it was great entertainment. As I end the narrative for this day, Mary asks, "Did you mention how you did a sweet easter egg hunt for me?" "No," I say. She says, "You should, without the part where I lost interest in looking." But I can't leave that part out. Day 4 - San Juan, Puerto Rico This morning, U.S. Immigration had to clear everyone on the ship before anyone could enter San Juan, and they had said they would start calling us, by deck, at 9 am. That ended up being delayed, which complicated my breakfast plans a bit - I solved it by ordering room service breakfast - and around 10 we had to go stand in line and present ourselves to U.S. customs. We noticed a Terhune dancer helping out with the line. They work these people really hard. The first night during the compulsory life jacket drill (which Mary will always regret not bringing her camera to - a theater full of adults in orange life jackets) I asked a staff member for help with my life jacket, which I feared I had already broken by fiddling with it. She wasn't sure how to fix it and referred me to an officer. I later discovered she, too, was an entertainer. We got through immigration fairly painlessly, and then went into the Future Cruise office and put down a deposit on a future cruise. Whether we actually will take that future cruise will remain to be seen, but it was just such a bargain... We decided to have lunch and then go into San Juan and walk around. It was very hot and I discovered I didn't really want to walk around once we got there. So I whined a bit, and Mary got really annoyed with me, and eventually we split up - I went back to the ship - and later that evening, I saw a lovely slideshow of all the things I hadn't seen while I was walking around miserable. San Juan is apparently very beautiful! You, too, can see this slideshow. After Mary returned from San Juan and I had woken up from my nap, we went to Galileo's for tea. They had just shut down tea, so we got drinks and ate some peanuts and played Phase 10 until it got too smoky and then we went back to the room and dressed for dinner. (Mary thinks I should mention that my tolerance for smoke is extremely low. She barely noticed it once we moved.) Mary: "You quoted me verbatim, but in the narrative you never said that we had moved because a guy started smoking, so that's not going to make any sense." (Hope it makes sense now.) Before dinner we went to the tour desk to ask if there was a drug store we might be able to find in San Juan so that we could buy batteries, as our battery recharger wasn't working. They told us where a Walgreen's was, but they didn't think they'd be open late, so they gave us batteries, and offered to charge our batteries for us. They were extremely helpful. We didn't realize until the next day that the batteries they had given us (and which we had promptly used up) were disposable. The next morning, I asked them to see if they could get our battery charger to work, which they couldn't, so they offered to charge the rest of our batteries for us, and I took them up on it. For dinner we asked for a table for two, which we got, but it was right next to another couple - which made it a little strange. We weren't sure whether we should talk to them or leave them alone. We opted for the latter. Mary was very brave and tried the Degustation Menu, which is a multi-course tasting menu. She enjoyed it very much, particularly the main course, which was grilled sirloin steak with gorgonzola-herb crust. For some reason they did not give her the sorbet prior to the main course. I think they forgot. (I think they mean well in the Compass Rose, but they sometimes seemed a bit disorganized. We had the system where they delivered menus to our door each evening, as I have written about earlier. For two nights in a row, they didn't have Mary's choices at dinner time, though she was okay with it.) I was also brave and tried stir-fried ostrich. I felt okay eating an ostrich as an emu was once mean to Mary. The ostrich was tasty but seemed extremely salty. I couldn't tell if that was the taste of the ostrich or the sauce. They also served me a very delicious squash soup. Mary liked to photograph her food - the presentation was usually beautiful - and tonight was no exception, but she was trying to be surreptitious about it. As a result, only one of the five photos turned out, and she was heartbroken. (It's probably what brought on her flu the next day!) After dinner, we came back to the room and I tried to go to bed early. Mary turned on the tv to her favorite channel (bridge camera), saw San Juan lit up, got all excited, and had to go up to Deck 12 to take pictures. (None of them turned out - it was a difficult evening for the photog.) She was a maniac with the camera the entire cruise. Out of her mind. I should also mention that at some point today we cancelled our massage appointments due to my sunburn. There was no way I was going to be able to tolerate a massage. Mary could have kept her appointment, but she said she didn't really feel she'd need it and she'd be just as happy getting one back home for less money. Day 5 - Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas Mary got up early to watch us pull into St. Thomas. I really wanted to swim in the ocean today and we had looked up beaches that we could get to via taxi, but I thought my sunburn was still very bad and it probably wouldn't be a good idea to go to a beach. I finally decided to purchase some internet time and went into the library to see what the internet said about sun exposure on a sunburn. It didn't recommend it. The internet was surprisingly fast, and never would be that fast again, the entire cruise. We had breakfast in the Compass Rose and then went into St. Thomas to shop. We had heard that there is nothing to St. Thomas, but I thought it was pretty. I would imagine if you got away from the touristy areas, it could be really lovely. We stayed in the touristy area, bought Mary a hat, me some clip-on sunglasses, and we both bought things in a shop called Del Sol, where everything is one color indoors and another color in the sun. We also got two free color-changing rings which are too small for even our pinkies. We tendered back to the ship and had lunch at Portofino Grill. I mentioned Arlene the first night, whom we had seen a picture of on the internet before we arrived on the ship. She is a bar waitress and is very sweet. Every time she saw us she greeted us by name and asked how we were doing. She knew I liked to drink pineapple juice and was quick to bring it. I told her we would find the internet reference so she could see it, so after lunch we went to the library. The internet speed in the morning must have been an anomaly, as this time it ticked away for 20 minutes (which we were charged for) and did nothing before I gave up. Back in the room we watched The Notebook on my laptop. What a stupid movie! At 5:00 I went to the infirmary to get something to help with my itching sunburn. I was miserable with itching. I thought I would lose my mind. They gave me calamine lotion which didn't really help, but the total charge for the visit was $5.00, so I can't complain. Mary had a sore throat and feared she was getting sick, which she was - the really, really nasty flu that I had prior to the cruise. But we didn't know that yet. We went to dinner and had our photo taken by the photographer set up outside the dining room. It was a truly hideous picture of me. You will never see it. We had dinner with a nice couple from San Antonio, and two of the bridge instructors. If you would like to go on free cruises, the thing to do is to become a bridge expert. I can't remember what we ate, and I'm not sure whether or not Mary photographed the food. We went back to the room and went to bed early. Day 6 - Sea Day # 2 Today Mary had a fever and stayed in the room all day, bundled up in the throw blanket and contaminating it. I didn't want to use it after that. It reminded me of the Native Americans who died from smallpox-infested blankets given to them by the white men. Ironically, it was the first day that I felt really good and had some energy. Mary and I had both asked for and received invitations to a tour of the bridge, but I went alone. The view from the bridge was really wonderful. The tour was lead by Mirya, the assistant cruise director, whom I enjoyed immensely. The captain spoke occasionally. Just when he was getting ready to talk about some subject, Mirya spotted dolphins outside and rushed us out to the deck so we could get a better view. They were leaping about - I had never seen anything like this in person. Alas, I have no photos. (Photos were not allowed on the bridge tour, not that I would have remembered to bring the camera anyway.) They had an Asian buffet for lunch at the pool grill, which I had been very much looking forward to. They had stir-fried chicken and beef and different kinds of sushi and some really wonderful bean thread noodles. I had lunch with a great couple, Irene and Bud, whom we had chatted with on our way back from St. Thomas. I had "met" Irene the first day of the cruise, when we both wandered into the men's room together by accident. After lunch, I decided to go check out the art auction. It was the last art auction of the cruise - there had been several that I had slept through (not at the actual auction, but back in my room, napping.) I had read that if you registered for the auction you would get a free work of art, so I registered. They gave me some little stickers and asked me to put them on the works I would like to see auctioned. They would only auction works which people had expressed an interest in. Since I had no intention of buying anything, I didn't put a sticker on anything. I sat down and was offered a glass of champagne, which I declined. There weren't very many people for this auction. Only three or four other women. At the last minute, a couple came in and sat behind me. They were talking to each other, wondering if they had to register, and I explained the process to them. Shortly, the auctioneer got up and said, "Um, we currently don't have anything to auction off. Have you all marked the works you are interested in?" Now all of us looked around anxiously and almost everyone said some variation of, "Oh, I'm just here to watch." The couple behind us, fortunately, had marked a work of art though, and the auctioneer briefly talked about it and then sold it to them for a cost which he said was a great deal. Then he said that he was sorry that we would not be able to see the auction, those of us who had come to just watch, but there couldn't be an auction if no one wanted to buy anything. Finally, he gave us all our free work of art, a small print. I loved the "art auction" and all of us women trying to "blend in," which unfortunately, we did not. Later in the day I went to a Baggo tournament at the pool deck. This was great fun and involved throwing bean bags into a board with holes in it. I got a little better as the tournament progressed, and eventually won 3 tokens when I was playing on a team. I won nothing for my stellar individual play. The Baggo tournament was led by Assistant Cruise Director, Mirya, who amused me greatly by commenting on people's play in her wonderful South African accent: "Oh terrible, Rick. That was just terrible!" One of the other players was talking about how she wondered if someone would ask Patrick Swayze for his autograph for her. I asked if she had spotted him yet, and she said, "He's right behind you." I immediately turned around to look. And there he was, very fit and tan and shorter than I would have thought. Once Phoebe Cates was shooting a movie outside my house in Tucson and I stood and watched for a while. Her husband, Kevin Kline, was there hanging out, and at one point he came up to me and said, "Would you like my autograph? Would you like a picture with me?" How could I turn him down? Patrick Swayze did not make this offer, and I certainly did not ask. Prior to dinner, I found myself very hungry. I went to Galileo's to listen to a couple who played acoustic music. They were called Spiral Duo. I hate to say it, but it sounded a lot like elevator music to me. The waiter brought me appetizers when I didn't get any myself, and I ate a bit, and then went to the Seven Seas Lounge for the Captain's Farewell cocktail party. There I was able to give Arlene a copy of the Cruise Critic post that mentioned how much people loved her (I had finally been able to locate it). For the second time that day, I was offered champagne, but I opted for pineapple juice. The captain talked for a few minutes and then there was this really corny thing, where the Terhune singers sang this dumb song about love in every language, and then what looked like the entire ship's staff (I learned later Noel was not there) came out from behind the curtain and we gave them a standing ovation. This part I liked. The lady next to me was crying, which made me love her. Poor Mary was still feverish and miserable back in the room (Note from Mary: "Lest you think Lis was callous to leave me shivering in the room while she went gallivanting about the ship — it was actually very nice to be left alone to sleep for an hour or two, and then have Lis come back and report on each activity. I was able to have a nice sea day vicariously through her"). We ordered room service dinner, which she could barely eat, and then I asked Noel if he could do the turndown without us leaving the room, as Mary didn't feel she could. Noel did a wonderful job of working around us. In the middle of the night, I woke up to discover that Mary was really, really hot, and I got worried. She just wanted some painkiller for her sore throat, but I wanted to take her temperature and get her some Tylenol to bring the fever down. I called the reception desk to ask for a thermometer and some Tylenol. They didn't have a thermometer but they gave me some sort of drug that was "like Tylenol". However, after I read the warnings that went along with it, warnings that included death among the possible side effects, I chose to give her Advil. Later in the night, I woke to find her cool and clammy beside me. Her fever had broken, but she wasn't moving. I touched her and said, "Mary," Nothing. Louder, "Mary!" Nothing. Finally, I pushed her kind of hard and said, "Mary!" "What!" She woke up. "I just wanted to make sure you were alive." And she was, but miserable. There are no photographs from this sea day, as Mary was sick with her fever, and foolishly counted on me to be her backup photographer. Day 7 Nassau, The Bahamas My notetaking began to deteriorate a bit towards the end of the cruise, so now I am relying more on memory, which I believe deteriorates the minute one turns 40, so I will do the best I can here. I do not remember the morning, but the lunch at the Pool Grill was a Caribbean buffet. It was very good, and for the first time on the cruise, I overate. After lunch we went back to our room to discover that our window was situated so we could see all the passengers getting off the ship to go into Nassau. I thought this would be a perfect opportunity for Mary to finally see Patrick Swayze, as it was very likely that he would get off the ship. Indeed he did. Mary didn't believe it was him at first, but then she saw that I was right. I took pictures of both Patrick Swayze and John O' Hurley (from Seinfeld) through the window, but they are terrible pictures, as neither of them ever faced my direction. I thought I was being very surreptitious, so you can imagine my surprise when Assistant Cruise Director, Mirya, walked by outside and waved to me. Mary was still feeling quite poorly, but she really wanted to go to the Ardastra Gardens, so we left the ship around 3 and took a cab to the Gardens. We had read about this place in a guide book many months earlier, and Mary was very taken by the idea of flamingos marching in drill formation. The cab driver greatly overcharged us and drove a rather indirect way to justify his overcharging us, but we didn't really care. I even tipped him quite well since he was fun to talk to on the way to the gardens. We arrived there around 3:15 or so and the flamingos weren't marching until 4:00, but there was a parrot exhibit in which we were invited to feed apples to parrots, so we went directly there. There were a large number of parrots in a big enclosed area and soon I had one parrot on each hand and one on my head. This was great fun! (And no, none of them pooped on my head.) We wandered around and looked at some of the other animals and plants, and then went to the show area and took a seat. The Gardens were not crowded at all. There were probably 20 or so people watching the show. It was mating season, and there was a male peacock in the show ring, preening for a female who pretended to ignore him. When it was time for the flamingos to do their thing, it took some time for the flamingo trainer to get the peacock out of the ring. He refused to put his feathers down and it took a good amount of chasing to get him to leave. Even then, he stood just outside the ring, continuing to preen and crow. The announcer explained that as it was mating season, the flamingos weren't quite as well behaved as usual, as the males had to spend a fair amount of time fighting with each other. We were also told that our job was to provide positive reinforcement for the flamingos when they did a good job, by clapping for them. The trainer yelled drill commands at the flamingos and the flamingos ran around and squawked and fought with each other, and did not exactly look like a drill team. We applauded regularly. Mary took some wonderful flamingo movies and watched them over and over again for days. At the Ardastra Gardens web site it says, "Watch closely and you'll notice that among them there is often a humorous jockeying for position, one male trying to cut another off, another preening for a female who pretends not to notice." I would add that during mating season, you don't have to watch closely to see this. We asked the woman in the gift shop to call us a cab to get back to the ship, and she did so. This cab driver was actually reputable and he took us on a direct route back to the ship and charged half as much as the first cab driver. He also got a big tip. As this was our last night, we had decided to eat again at the Portofino Grill. There we were welcomed back. One of our favorite waiters from the first night - I think his name was Benedicto - said, "Finally, you're back!" We both had steak and I had some wonderful risotto. It was a lovely way to end the cruise. After dinner, we wandered the ship a bit more, threw away some money in the slot machines, and then I stopped in the library to get something, and Mary went back to our room. When I came back to our room, I discovered Patrick Swayze smoking outside the elevator on Deck 5. He was nicely dressed in a tux or black suit (the two other times I saw him he was in shorts and a tank top) and I entered our room and said, "Guess who's stinking up our hallway right now?" Mary said, "Oh, I must have walked right by him," and went back out to look. When she came back in I asked if she thought he had noticed her coming out just to look at him. She said, "No, but the guy he was talking to might have." Have I mentioned how sophisticated we have become as a result of this cruise? We packed our bags and left them outside the door following instructions we had received a few nights earlier. And then our last night on the ship was over. Day 8 - Debarkation Room service woke us up again this morning - this time they were 15 minutes early, 6:45 rather than 7:00. We had our juice and made sure we had everything packed and then we went up to the Portofino grill for breakfast. We figured we would be among the last groups called to get off the ship since we didn't have a plane to catch. (Everyone was assigned a color and given tags of that color to put on their luggage. We were in the red group.) We sat at breakfast until I began to worry that we were in the way and then we went up to the Vista Lounge to sit and wait. In fact, we had no wait at all. I set my stuff down and went to use the restroom and by the time I got back, they had called our color. There was a very short line to leave the boat, and our luggage was waiting for us down in the cruise terminal. Outside the cruise terminal, there was a shuttle which took us to the airport where we rented a car and drove to our bed and breakfast, Villa Montfiallo. It was very easy to find, once I pulled up directions on my laptop using Mappoint. Our room wasn't ready, but we were able to leave our bags there. The owner, Yann, gave us directions to a Wild Oats market, and we went to get some food for our plane ride the next day. When we came back the room still wasn't ready, so we sat out by the pool for awhile, and then, since I was craving noodles, we asked him where we might find a Thai or Vietnamese restaurant where it wouldn't be too hard to park. (We were both pretty tired, and basically just wanted to lie down - having to work to park would have been way too much.) He directed us to a restaurant called Galanga Thai (2389 Wilton Drive, Wilton Manors, Florida, (954) 202-0000). Now maybe it is just that we were really tired and hungry, but I don't think so. I think it was the best Thai food I have ever had, and I eat a lot of Thai food. Lunch came with a delicious chicken and rice soup. We ordered salad rolls (probably the best I've ever had) and I had Virgin Noodles (bean thread noodles with chicken, beef and shrimp) and Mary had Pad See Ew with chicken. (She loved the salad rolls and soup, but likes the pad see ew at our local Thai restaurant, Tom Yum, better.) The portions were huge, enough for us to take back to the b&b for dinner. One thing we discovered at the restaurant, and continued to discover in the room, is what people mean when they talk about getting their land legs back. We both felt more pitching and rolling on land (especially in small spaces like bathrooms) then we ever did on the ship. It was quite surreal, and took a couple days to subside. It was far less noticeable when we were out of doors. When we got back our room was ready and it was really comfortable. It had a full kitchen and two couches in a little sitting area, and a king size bed with lovely linens. The bathroom was not as lovely as our bathroom on the navigator and the shampoos, soaps and towels were nothing to write home about. There was a tv, a dvd player, a vcr, and a radio, but we couldn't get any of the remotes to work and were much too lazy to get up and manually change the channel. There was also a little patio area and doors that opened up onto the pool area. Most of the guests appeared to be European. As we sat by the pool earlier in the morning, I eavesdropped on some people from England who seemed to be staying at the b&b for three weeks. They were very, very, very tanned and sat around the pool talking for most of the day. Even though we were right next to the pool, it was quiet in the room and we napped for a little awhile, and I discovered that there was a wireless connection, though it didn't really work very well in the room. Alas, our photographer was still ill, and though she took many photos of the outside of Villa Montfiallo, she didn't take any of the inside, and her backup photographer failed her yet again. Around 4:30 we left the room and walked to a water taxi stop. Well, actually, I followed Mary as she appeared to know what she was doing (I often fall for this trick of hers) until it was clear we had no idea where we were and then we asked for directions at a hotel. They said we could catch the water taxi there, though it wasn't an official stop. We had to wave the taxi down. The water taxi cost $5.00 for an all-day pass, and it was quite fun to move through the canals as the tour guide, Pat from Brooklyn, New York, pointed out famous people's houses. We rode for about an hour and then got off at the official stop where we should have gotten on, and walked to the beach for one last romp in the Atlantic Ocean before heading back to Portland. I stood in the water for a few minutes and then we walked back to the b&b where I paid for our night's stay, as the proprietors wouldn't be up until eight the next morning and we were going to be leaving at 6:30 or 7:00. (So for us it was a bed, no breakfast.) We had our wonderful Thai leftovers for dinner along with some Soy Delicious ice cream we had bought at Wild Oats. Oh, we were happy. We went to bed early, as we had to get up early in the morning and return to Portland. Final Cruise Impressions One thing I realized immediately once we were driving around Ft. Lauderdale experiencing people cutting into traffic and behaving the way people generally do is that everyone on the cruise was so civil. I didn't realize it until I was back, but on the cruise there was no pushing, no cutting in front of people in line, only very polite behavior. I wouldn't say everyone was friendly but people were very respectful. People held doors for each other and held the elevator and knew how to behave in a line. Mary said, "I don't think I hated anyone for the entire cruise, and that's a big thing." For me, also. We're both fairly misanthropic when it comes down to it. The cruise was extremely relaxing. When I got back to work, I found that my head had been completely cleared and that was a great thing. We were pleased to find that we're both pretty good sailors. Neither of us was ever actually seasick — just a little off the first day or two. Wearing the sea sick bands seem to take care of any problems we had, and by the third day we were adjusted to the motion of the ship and didn't need the bands anymore. We both found the rhythmic motion of the ship soothing. Mary had been worried that she wouldn't be able to read (she tends toward motion sickness and can't read in cars or on airplanes) but she was able to, even without the bands. I don't have many criticisms of the Radisson cruise. The service was exceptional and the experience was definitely one of luxury. I do think they should have a better smoking policy. I'd like to be able to have a room with a balcony and know that I'll be able to sit out there without breathing in my neighbor's smoke. I think there should be staterooms designated as non-smoking, and I think there should be more public spaces that are designated non-smoking. My other criticism was of the food. The food was presented beautifully, and I think they did a good job of handling my special dietary needs, but I found myself getting bored. I'm not even sure that I can put my finger on it, though I read somewhere else about a lack of spice and maybe that's it, both literally and figuratively. The food wasn't very spicy and I realize that the two dishes that I loved the most (risotto and squash soup) were a bit more spicy. But also, with the exception of the pool grill lunch themes, the menus rarely had anything that wasn't either French or American, and this got old for me. I liked cruising, but I don't know how often I'd want to cruise. Since I was sunburnt for most of the cruise, what I most want now is to go to some place where I can swim in the ocean, but not be constrained by a schedule as one is on a ship. Mary, on the other hand, adored cruising and can't wait to talk me in to another one. THINGS I HAVE LEARNED FOR A FUTURE CRUISE: It's a really bad idea to get sunburnt on your first outing. Reapply sunscreen frequently while in the water, and wear a shirt over your bathing suit if you are fair-skinned. It's probably not a great idea to break in your new sandals the first night of the cruise. You can mix and match off the dinner menu - take something from the degustation menu and something from the regular menu. You can get a glass of wine to go at the end of dinner (we never did this, but a couple we ate with did it every night and took it with them to the show lounge) I found that I was queasy the first two or three days of the cruise, and this ended after I stopped having wine with dinner. Mary's queasiness stopped at about the same time and she was still having wine with dinner, so she thinks that's just how long it takes to get your sea legs. We must always have a balcony. The window is nice, but you can't actually see the sea from the bed or even while sitting down. The balcony window is floor to ceiling so the view would be better. Plus it would be great to get fresh air in the room. THINGS WE SHOULD HAVE BROUGHT: hairbrush - hair is constantly getting blown about by the wind on the deck sunglasses - duh some sugar/wheat/dairy-free desserts for me a surge protector strip - our "travel surge protector" did not fit into the outlets provided due to lack of clearance. a thermometer bandaids non-rechargeable camera batteries (our charger quit working on us) Binoculars thumb drive To view pictures we took of the ship, ports and ship's documents (menus, daily newsletters, etc) you can go to www.marylisphotos.com/gallery THE END OF NAVIGATOR CRUISE REPORT Read Less
Sail Date March 2005
Overall, this was an excellent experience. Never in a million years did we expect to be cruising again so soon after our recent (January 2004) cruise to Tahiti. It seems impossible to believe that the experience on RSSC Paul Gauguin was ... Read More
Overall, this was an excellent experience. Never in a million years did we expect to be cruising again so soon after our recent (January 2004) cruise to Tahiti. It seems impossible to believe that the experience on RSSC Paul Gauguin was surpassed by this one on the RSSC Mariner. We were very fortunate to have made life long friends aboard the Paul Gauguin last year and planned this cruise to the Panama Canal with those new friends. When they called us only months after returning from Tahiti to tell us about the "2 for 1" deal to Panama, we just couldn't say no. Given this most recent experience, we're dedicated cruisers (specifically, on RSSC) for life! In fact, we already began the process of booking our next cruise while on board the Mariner (more on that below). While the differences from our Tahiti cruise were many (location, length of time, size of ship, traveling companions, etc.), the similarities fell in the most important areas: Service, Service, Service!! We had an ongoing "contest" while on board the Mariner to see if there was anything the staff and/or crew would say "no" to. We found it, but only on the very last night (more below). The cabins were perfect in size and location (center/rear of the 7th deck on the Port side). Housekeeping missed a few steps, but were easily forgiven as they routinely took the time to "design" my PJ's into fun shapes every evening during turn down. The spacious bathroom, walk-in closet, balcony and "living area" were the perfect home away from home. More than once, we had all 6 of us in each of the cabins for drinks (brought our own blender and mixers!) and it was cozy, but comfortable. The most anticipated part of many cruises is probably the food. In this regard, we were not disappointed. In fact we found a Bread & Butter Pudding dessert to die for and figured out a way to make a standing order for it every night. The dining staff were among the warmest and most accommodating of any on the ship. They made it a point to get to know us and treated us with affection throughout our voyage. I'd skip the "fancy" restaurant (Signatures) next time only because it seemed a bit pretentious and wasn't the best food on board. However, we made it a point to visit each of the other restaurants regularly (including the Pool Bar & Grill). One of the few areas that fell clearly below the quality of that on the Paul Gauguin (IMHO) was the entertainment. There were a variety of entertainers, but none that held a candle to Sally on the PG. Fortunately, we spent most of our later evenings eating, drinking, gambling and sleeping! And, while the "formal" entertainment wasn't my favorite part of the cruise, we did enjoy several rounds of "Tea Time Trivia" in the Horizon Lounge. We were fortunate to have outstanding weather throughout our trip and enjoyed several exciting adventures while visiting various ports. Part of our group braved the "zip line" experience in Costa Rica and couldn't say enough good things about it. We all got dusty and dirty (in the most fun possible way) while riding ATV's in Huatulco, Mexico (lovely little town). The group discovered a new low in personal hygiene while riding the "Shot Over" boat in Acapulco. Even with the nasty smell, it was an experience not to be missed. And, best of all, was the ultimate experience of transiting through the Panama Canal. I'm not a "techie" or a history buff (my husband is both); however, this was an amazing experience. We were up at 4AM (not a common practice for us!) to begin the process of entering the Canal and stayed up far past dark to experience the passage through the Pacific locks. By far, this was the best part of the cruise experience. We became very fond of the sea days as they allowed us to take advantage of many "miscellaneous" amenities. For example, the ship has a wonderful little library containing a wide variety of books, video tapes, games and several computers with access to the internet (very slow and very expensive - but, it was nice to have access). There were also several guest speakers throughout the trip. One, in particular, (a cultural anthropologist) spoke at length on the history and current workings of the Canal. It was the perfect accompaniment to the transit experience. There were also (somewhat current) movies available in the cabins every day as well as a Bridge Tour and Galley Tour. While we are eager to sail again with RSSC, there was one small challenge in making this happen. When sailing on the Paul Gauguin, we were offered a "Pre-booking Discount Offer" whereby, for a small fixed amount per person ($200, I believe), we were able to lock in a 5% discount on a future RSSC cruise (to be used within 18 months). Unfortunately, this same offer was no longer available to us during our cruise on the Mariner. Apparently, it's necessary to "fake" book a cruise and later transfer the deposit onto the cruise you really want to take once you figure out what that is. As a business person, I see this as a ridiculous waste of time and resources. As a traveler, it is no less frustrating. The Cruise Consultant encouraged us to voice our concerns to the CEO (mconroy@rssc.com) and, of course, we will. One last tidbit covering an item mentioned above in regards to finding the "breaking point" of the staff/crew: On our last night in San Diego, the group decided to stay up late (we weren't scheduled to sail until 11PM) and hang out in the hot tub. As we hadn't used this facility until then, it came as a surprise to us that it "closed" at 10:00PM. While we were (very politely) asked to wrap it up, the gentlemen responsible for staying up to perform clean up duties was kind enough to grant us a 15 minute reprieve. The follow-on experience to this one was dragging our wet and robed (RSSC robes!) bodies up to the Observation Lounge where we attempted to order drinks (technically, only my husband was gutsy/foolish enough to enter in this state!). He was (again, very politely) escorted back out on to the deck where the bartender did, indeed, take our drink orders and deliver them back to us where we enjoyed them while sailing out of the San Diego harbor. I think that any one would agree we thoroughly stretched the reasonable bounds of excellent service! Read Less
Sail Date March 2005
We took the Seven Seas Mariner from LA to Port Everglades via the Panama Canal. We choose this line because we took the Paul Gauguin and were very happy with it. We were very pleased with this ship, the service, and the food. The food ... Read More
We took the Seven Seas Mariner from LA to Port Everglades via the Panama Canal. We choose this line because we took the Paul Gauguin and were very happy with it. We were very pleased with this ship, the service, and the food. The food was among the best. They have 4 dining rooms. Three were great and the fourth was good but its eclectic tasting menu was a bit much for some of the guests (we thought it was a nice change but not our favorite). The French restaurant was great and the Mediterranean restaurant was unexpectedly good and seemed to be popular. Breakfasts were a little boring at the buffet, but you could order things that were not on the menu in the main dining room. Room service is provided at no charge. All seating was open where you could have a table for two some nights and meet new people in a table for four or six other nights. The entertainment was very good. They had single entertainer each night. It may have been better to have several entertainers each night to be sure that there would be something for everyone. All cabins have balconies and are quite spacious with a king size bed AND a sitting area. You will be happy with the lowest cabin category. The ship is 50,000 tons and has only 700 passengers. As a result there were always tables available in the main restaurant, lounges available by the pool (although the shady spots are limited) and seats in the theater. You never felt crowded. We went because we wanted to see the Panama Canal. The canal passage was great and they had a lecturer who lived in the Canal Zone for 25 years and did and excellent job. They also featured food and wine on this itinerary and had lectures on wine and cheese and they had cooking demonstrations from a chef from Sonoma CA. She was good and the demos were interesting. Some of the ports on this trip were mediocre. Cabo San Lucas and Acapulco were so-so. Huatulco, Mexico was a pleasant surprise and is worth considering for a return trip. Puntarenas, Costa Rico was nice for a day stop but Costa Rico deserves more than one day. The other stops were San Diego and Key West – great places but not via a cruise ship. The bottom line, top notch ship, service and food. While I prefer smaller ships, this is my favorite “big” ship. Read Less
Sail Date March 2005
We boarded the Mariner at Los Angeles. The boarding process was extremely smooth, even though we arrived an hour and a half before the "official" boarding time. A porter whisked our bags away and we waited no more than 2 minutes ... Read More
We boarded the Mariner at Los Angeles. The boarding process was extremely smooth, even though we arrived an hour and a half before the "official" boarding time. A porter whisked our bags away and we waited no more than 2 minutes to be checked in. (There were at least 8 lines open). We were handed the traditional glass of champagne as we went on board and informed that our suite would be ready at 2.30pm. I went to make reservations at Signatures (we were celebrating our 40th wedding anniversary on board) and my husband went to settle down in the Observation Lounge to wait! I was delighted to learn that our table had already been reserved for us by RSSC since I had mentioned this as something I would like on my information form. The suites were indeed ready at 2.30 and when we went to ours, our luggage was already there. I unpacked and headed for the laundry on deck 10 since we had been travelling for a week en route from Switzerland to LA. To my delight the laundry was empty and I got my things done in record time. Our butler introduced himself, and made some other reservations for us. This was the first time we have had a butler, and he was very nice and specially helpful in organizing our anniversary celebration. The evening canapEs he brought each night were very nice, but I think I would not reserve a suite just to get a butler. Based on our experience (Alaska '05 on the Mariner without a butler, in a Penthouse C suite, and this cruise in a Penthouse A suite) I would choose the suite I like and if it has a butler, fine. If not one can organize things oneself! Our first port was San Diego. We had both been there many times before and so we just headed on the "trolley" for Old Town, then did some shopping at Horton Plaza and came back to the ship. I was enrolled in the Cordon Bleu cooking course and our first meeting - a cocktail reception - was that evening. There I met the chef who had been flown from London to teach the course - Michael Katz - and the Executive Chef of the Mariner, Quinn MacMahon, and other Food and Beverage staff. The next day was a sea day and the Cordon Bleu course started. We had four sessions with Michael, all on sea days. He did a demonstration for around 90 minutes and then we (a group of 6 - there were two groups) worked hard to replicate what he had done, with lots of help from him, for another 2 hours. The course also included a wonderful visit to the Central Market in Acapulco, arranged by Quinn MacMahon. Around 10 of us participated, and we went in a minibus to the market with Quinn and Michael, who lectured us on the spot on the choice and cooking of fish. It was really interesting. The course ended with a long demonstration from Michael and that evening a cocktail reception followed by dinner in Signatures, which had closed for the evening to everyone else and was just open for the course participants, some crew members who had been involved with the course and our spouses. The dinner was a special menu set up by Michael which more or less recapitulated things we had learned to make in class. In addition to the course, Quinn organized a tour of the provisioning area of the ship and the galley for us. This took around 2 hours and we visited the storage areas on deck 3 - huge freezer, 0°C storage for fresh fruit and veg - even caviar locker! - and the galley, meeting many of the chefs and assistants as well. The cleanliness of the galley was amazing - walls and ceiling were in stainless steel and washed daily. All large machines were completely stripped and cleaned, down to the last bolt and nut, once a week - which, by the way, takes them at least two hours after the normal evening meal service! They bake their own bread on the ship, and the pastry chef was very informative about how things are done, and produced superb sweets and pastries! Even the soup cook got into the act and showed us his pots for soup and stocks! I am really, really delighted that I took this course. It was well organized, well taught and I learned a lot and had a lot of fun! Other things going on on sea days included an excellent lecture series on the Panama canal from a man who had worked there for 25 years. He gave 4 lectures - one on the canal's history, one on the present-day operation, one on what we would see (given the day before, so really pertinent) and the last the day after the transit on what we had seen, and our questions etc. These lectures were truly enriching, and our experience during the transit was greatly enhanced. Another series of lectures was from a young woman from the Cousteau "Ocean Futures" society. She spoke about various aspects of marine life and was very good, and very informative. Both my husband and I attended all her talks and gained a deeper appreciation of the oceans around us and their importance. The theirs group of lectures concerned the selection and care of gemstones. A bit esoteric but none the less interesting and well presented! Our first Mexican port was Los Cabos. The scenery going into the port was great and made greater by a little seal who swam alongside the ship and did somersaults in the sea! We took a Radisson-organized catamaran sail excursion. We were really disappointed in this. First, the boat was definitely overcrowded and therefore dangerous. Second, the safety demonstration was a joke - literally. The "wise guy" who had the microphone made jokes about where the life jackets were and never did tell us where they actually were. Third, instead of sailing along the coast with a commentary on what we were seeing they simply headed out to sea for an hour and back for an hour. On our return I found a "How are we doing" comments form in our suite so I mentioned our problems with the excursion. Radisson is know for swift dealings with problems and this case was no exception. I turned the form into the reception desk at around 2pm. At 5pm I got a voice mail from the Tour Director telling me he was looking into it. The next day he saw me and told me that he was very concerned, that they did not normally use that boat, and that he had asked his land operator what went wrong. The next day we had a letter to say that they would not use that boat again, and that our excursion fee was being reduced 40% because the excursion was not as billed. I was not looking for a refund, only trying to tell RSSC that the excursion was badly done, so I was very surprised and pleased at their reaction. Acapulco was our next port, and we went to the market as noted above. Huatulco was the final Mexican port. It is pretty but there is not much to do. However the weather was lovely and we spent the day at the pool on deck 11! Aside from the canal, the best excursion/port we had was Puntarenas. We took the trip to the Poas volcano. It was Good Friday, and everything in CR shuts down. We were warned that we might be slowed down by religious processions, and indeed we did see a couple, which were interesting. Our guide, Vicky, was superb. (Contrast to the chap at los Cabos!) She was very informative and a delightful person. We learnt a lot about CR from her en route to the volcano. We had been warned that the volcano is only visible 3 out of 10 times - so we held our breath!! When we got to the rim of the crater - we could see it all! Fumaroles, sulpher and the turquoise lake! A wonderful trip in a very pretty and interesting country. After another sea day we arrived at the canal. We got up at 4.30am and they were already serving a continental breakfast in the Observation lounge (RSSC is just wonderful - they think of everything!) Bolstered by coffee and croissant we went outside in the dark and watched the approach to the canal. By 6am we were under the bridge and by 7am in the first lock. It is very impressive to see the size of these locks, which function entirely on water power. The Mariner was raised a total of 85feet from the Pacific to the Gatun lake. After the first lock (there are 3 on each side) we went to our suite and installed ourselves on our balcony, called the butler and ordered breakfast - fittingly "lox and bagels"!! It was amazing to sit there eating in the sunshine watching the men working on the lockside with the electric engines stabilizing the ship. A large "Panamax" freighter went through alongside us - I wonder if they were looking at us as curiously as we were looking at them! We anchored in the Gatun Lake and my husband and I took the helicopter flight over the locks, Colon, the sea and the Chagres river. It cost $150 pp but was worth every penny. We were thrilled to be able to do it! As we went down through the Gatun locks we went to dinner in the Compass Rose. We were given a great table right next to a window, which, when we started to eat, had a nice view of the lockside. Soon however our view was of the concrete wall of the lock as we went down! By main course time we were moving into the next lock, and again had a view! The last port was Key West, which is pretty but again not so much to do. We shopped! As on our Alaska trip, we hated to leave the Mariner - but we had to get off in Ft Lauderdale. Disembarkation was handled as smoothly as embarkation - we were allowed to stay in our suite till 0830, breakfast having started early that day. We then waited in the Observation lounge until our colour code was called, and had to say goodbye to a great ship! During our voyage we ate in Signatures three times, la Verandah twice and the Compass Rose for the rest of the time. We mainly took breakfast and lunch at la Verandah - one lunch in the Compass Rose, and one at the pool grill (Mexican buffet which was very good!). We did not eat in Latitudes because on our Alaskan trip we had been quite disappointed with it and we really love the Compass Rose. We prefer to eat alone, and were always asked if we wanted a table for 2 or would like to share. There was never a problem in getting our own table, and pretty soon the Maitre d'hôtel knew that we wanted one for just two. We eat in some pretty sophisticated restaurants here in Switzerland and in nearby France, and the quality, variety and presentation in the Compass Rose are just excellent!!! The service at table was also good throughout. Our suite was spacious and well looked after by our two stewardesses. We had problems with our TV (there was nothing wrong with the TV, it was we who didn't know how to work it!) Our stewardess was adept at fixing it, and my husband soon came to call her "the electrician"!! He husband was one of our regular waiters at la Verandah and we told him - he thought it was a great nickname for her!! One night we had a problem with the toilet, which refused to flush. We rang the butler, and he said that he had already called maintenance because the suite next door had the same problem - we went to dinner and when we returned all was in order. One thing we really appreciated was the frequency with which we saw the Captain around the ship. He seemed to go "walkabout" at least twice a day, stopping to chat with passengers, seeing how things were going, and generally being very friendly. We really liked the Captain and hope we can sail with him again! His attitude seemed to permeate throughout all the crew who really seemed to get along well together and work closely together as a team. As to entertainment on board - there were three production numbers from the Peter Terhune singers and dancers. We had seen two of them in Alaska - it was a shame that they didn't change the show more often! But they were all well done and we enjoyed them all. We didn't bother with the comic or the singer since these are really not our cup of tea. One thing we did find, contrary to all I have read however, was that the pool area got really crowded and it was sometimes hard to find a place. Perhaps this was a result of a trip over the Easter holidays when there were more young families on board. To sum up - we love the Mariner. The standard of service, food, etc is second to none. We have already started plans to travel with RSSC to the Baltic next summer, although this trip will be on the Voyager. RSSC does things not just right, but perfectly!!! Read Less
Sail Date March 2005
We sailed on Navigator's cruise from New York to Reykjavik, Iceland, during the latter part of June 2005. We took advantage of Radisson's free coach air package. We have sailed previously on Crystal (several cruises), HAL, ... Read More
We sailed on Navigator's cruise from New York to Reykjavik, Iceland, during the latter part of June 2005. We took advantage of Radisson's free coach air package. We have sailed previously on Crystal (several cruises), HAL, Celebrity and NCL. This was our first Radisson cruise. We chose this cruise primarily for the itinerary, which included port stops at Boston, Bar Harbor, Halifax, L'Anse aux Meadows (Newfoundland), Heimaey in the Westermann Islands, and an overnight in Reykjavik. The precruise transportation and hospitality which included a night at the New York Hilton and Towers was very good. After we boarded we found that the number of passengers was well below capacity (about 265 pax on a 490 pax ship). I will be posting a much longer review on the RSSC board later, so will just list the highlights and lowlights here. Highlights: Our standard verandah cabin on deck 6 midship (631) was exceptionally large and comfortable. The walk-in closet and large bathroom with separate shower and tub make these "standard" cabins really outstanding. Our cabin stewardess did and excellent job keeping everything in the cabin clean and neat. Room service was outstanding -- the food was very good and it was delivered in an unbelievably short time. The ports were interesting for the most part, although the recreated Viking village at L'Anse aux Meadows was a bit underwhelming. We missed Heimaey because of mechanical problems that prevented the ship from sailing at normal cruising speed for the last two days of the cruise. Iceland was spectacular even though the weather was quite cool and cloudy. The ship's staff, for the most part, were friendly and helpful. The quality of the food in the dining room and alternative restaurant generally was very good to excellent in quality, although often too rich for our taste (too much butter and cream). Lowlights: The ship's public rooms are small and dreary. Most of the art on the walls was supplied by the Park West art auctioneers -- really, really tacky. The entertainment was strictly amateur hour, nowhere near the quality of Crystal or for that matter HAL. Open seating dining turned out to be not so great. When we sat at a large table the speed of service was determined by the slowest eater. And since we never were at the same table the wait staff never really learned our preferences. Even when we arrived at the dining room at 6:45 p.m., we were not finished with dinner until close to 9 p.m. The swimming pool area is small, and there is no protection from the elements (no retractable cover) so the pool grill was closed for most of the trip owing to the cool weather. The Internet service has to be the worst I ever experienced. It was slow beyond belief, and the Radisson firewall is the most restrictive I've ever encountered. The vibration in the aft areas of the ship was very intense and objectionable at times. Read Less
Sail Date June 2005
A family group of 8 (including 3 young children) just returned from the June 22-29 cruise of Alaska on the SS Mariner. We boarded in Vancouver around 2:00 and had a buffet lunch in LaVeranda until our suites were ready by 2:30, with ... Read More
A family group of 8 (including 3 young children) just returned from the June 22-29 cruise of Alaska on the SS Mariner. We boarded in Vancouver around 2:00 and had a buffet lunch in LaVeranda until our suites were ready by 2:30, with luggage waiting. We were all on Level 7 and thought this was a very convenient location - down the hall from the gym and spa, and an easy walk downstairs to the lounges and restaurants. The rooms were spacious and clean, with DVD players in every suite. The most outstanding feature of our cruise on the Mariner was the "service". That is where you see the real difference in cruise lines. The attitude of all the crew was genuinely happy, which you do not often see these days. Everyone had a smile and was constantly asking if they could help you. Excursions/Ports -- We were very lucky with our weather, especially on port days -- blue skies and temperatures in the upper-70's. In Ketchikan, some of our group went on a privately arranged fly-out, fly-fishing trip for trout through the Hook-up Fly Shop. They caught about 20 fish and really enjoyed the setting, fishing guide, and pilot. Others took the flight-seeing trip to Misty Fjords with Carlin Air (had originally booked with Michelle at Island Wings, but she was ill that day, so hopped on two available seats with Carlin). The following morning, we took the Tracy Arm catamaran excursion through Radisson. It was one of the week's highlights. They picked us up from the Mariner about 7:20 and we sailed all the way into Tracy Arm to within ¼ mile of the Sawyer Glacier. This was a sold-out excursion and the catamaran held about 100 people (Radisson passengers only). There were 2-3 naturalists aboard who provided interesting commentary and several Radisson crew members who served snacks and drinks onboard. The scenery was amazing - large icebergs, seals, sheep, waterfalls, and the calving glacier. In Juneau, some of us did the Nature Hike excursion through the rainforest, which was a scenic and interesting hike (fairly strenuous, too). In Skagway, we rode the White Pass Railway and stopped on the way back for gold panning (the kids really enjoyed that). On our last stop in Sitka, some of us explored the town on our own (Russian dancers, Raptor Center, etc.), while others took the Wildlife Quest and Beach Trek excursion. It was a small group (12 or so) and they saw lots of wildlife - humpback whales, sea otters, puffins, seals, and eagles. They also landed on a small island and explored the tidal pools on the beach, viewing and touching sea stars, anemones, etc. Restaurants/Food -- The food onboard the Mariner was outstanding overall. We ate dinner in Compass Rose 4 nights, Signatures 2 nights, and Latitudes once. Most days we had lunch on the pool deck (special themed buffets) or in La Veranda (large buffet with salads, sandwiches, pasta, hot entrees). We tried to go to La Veranda for dinner a few times, but couldn't get a table (not sure if that means it was really good, or if we just went too late). We made our first reservations for Sig. & Lat. right after we boarded and had our choice of days/times. We were then able to get a second reservation at Signatures for the last night by stopping by the restaurant mid-way through the cruise. (Many that we talked to were able to get a second night at Signatures too). The wine served at Sig. & Lat. was definitely a step above Compass Rose, and the food was excellent. Latitudes featured an Alaskan-inspired tasting menu, which was about 6 courses and wonderful. Signatures was as good as any nice French restaurant in the lower 48. Memorable menu items at Signatures were the rack of lamb, seafood bisque, and crème brulee. At Latitudes, the halibut was fantastic. Our dinners at Compass Rose were good to excellent. The only areas that could use a little improvement were the desserts and a few of the wines. However, we were very impressed with the overall quality of the food and service in all of the restaurants. Ship Activities/Facilities -- Among the eight people in our group, we sampled just about everything the Mariner had to offer. The salt-water swimming pool was too chilly for most, but the three hot tubs were often filled in the late afternoons. Tea was served every day at 4 p.m., followed by trivia at 4:45, and Bingo at 5 p.m. on two to three afternoons. The lectures and commentary given by Terry Breen, the onboard naturalist, were great. The computer center charged $25 for 100 minutes of internet access and offered Wi-Fi in the immediate area of the computer room. Nothing but accolades for the Fitness Program and Spa. There were various classes scheduled in the Fitness Center from 7 a.m. - 7 p.m. and seemed to offer something for everyone. There was always an early morning deck walk, Yoga or Pilates, Body Pump, Aerobic, an over 55 class and Gentle Stretching. The Spa was very luxurious with all the typical offerings. Those in our group had a 50 min. massage ($110), a facial ($110), and the most incredible hot rock massage one could imagine ($140). Do visit the Spa at your first opportunity as the appointments filled up quickly. Club Mariner Program -- Our children had a great time in the Club Mariner Program. There were about 20 children under 11 and another 20 teenagers in the two separate programs. On two evenings, they began at 7 p.m. and served the kids dinner, allowing the adults to have an adult-only dinner in one of the specialty restaurants. Activities ranged from cards, board games, treasure hunts, crafts, to talent shows and generally ran for 3-4 hours during the day and then a few hours in the evening. The three 20-something counselors were really great. Entertainment -- The night entertainment was good considering the size of the ship - certainly not the extravagant shows found on the mega ships, but most enjoyable. Every evening there was dancing to "The Mariner Five" (not well attended), a nice background pianist and a talented guitarist all in different lounges. The first nightly show in the theatre was a Salute to Broadway which was very good and well received. Another production "Beyond Imagination" was an original score that I personally did not care for - a bit amateurish. The final day shows were a matinee "Here, There, and Everywhere," a Beatles revue that was great, and the Captain's Farewell Party featuring "Krewe Kapers" that brought the house down. What a talented crew and practice was all done on their off-time. Other entertainers we did not see included a comedian David Reid, cruise director Barry Hopkins singing the music of Frank Sinatra, and singer Steve Washington. Read Less
Sail Date June 2005
Cruise: 9/16 to 24, 2005- Montreal to New York Overview We've gotten spoiled on our last two cruises, first on Windstar, then on Radisson. This was a jazz cruise, and featured the best entertainment we've ever had, on land or ... Read More
Cruise: 9/16 to 24, 2005- Montreal to New York Overview We've gotten spoiled on our last two cruises, first on Windstar, then on Radisson. This was a jazz cruise, and featured the best entertainment we've ever had, on land or on a cruise ship. It also featured great food and service. While the itinerary was not as exciting as our Windstar cruise from Nice to Lisbon, the ports were generally well handled, and we had a great time. Ship By modern cruise ship standards the Navigator, with 490 passengers, is a small ship. It never felt too small, and it was great never having to wait on line for anything. The Navigator is infamous for vibration in the rear of the ship, particularly the Portofino grill, and we're generally sensitive to movement. Joe never felt any vibration, Joan just a bit (but not enough to bother her). The ship was roomy and comfortable. Public rooms For a ship with so few PAX there were a surprising number of public rooms: two restaurants, Compass Rose (main) and Portofino (buffet and alternative), a large showroom (Seven Seas Lounge), a casino, and several lounges, both large and small. We didn't try the casino or the Stars lounge, but people seemed to be having a good time in both places. There were two lounges near the main desk: a cigar and fine liqueurs lounge (Connoisseur Club, too smoky for us!) and a lounge (Navigator) that served good coffee and tea at all times, and usually had cookies or hors d'oeuvres. That was very comfortable, even though there was no entertainment when we were there. We were never in the piano bar, Galileo's. Most shows were in the Seven Seas Lounge or the largest bar area, the Vista Lounge. Seven Seas was never overcrowded, so we were able to catch all shows we wanted to see. (In contrast, on the Celebrity Horizon, we had two or three times when we couldn't get into a show. The Vista Lounge had friendly bartenders, good hors d'oeuvres, and terrific bar snacks. It was the site of sever of the jazz concerts, trivia contests, afternoon tea, etc. A very pleasant place. Fellow passengers and family A good age mix, but mostly between 40 and 60. There were two young girls and one baby boy onboard-no other children. The clientele was probably 75% American, 5 percent Japanese (a group), and 25 percent British, other European, and Australian. The jazz theme probably resulted in a younger than usual mix of passengers. On this cruise there was no apparent kids' program. Fitness and recreation We're walkers, and we walked rather than trying the gym. The gym appeared to be of fairly large size for such a small ship. There were also lots of supervised mild athletics, such as morning walk, putting contest, ring toss, etc. There was a nice looking spa, but we didn't try it. One thing the ship lacks is a covered pool, and it was too cold for outdoor swimming. Dress Code and tipping There were no formal nights, three informal nights (jacket, but tie not required), and five casual nights on our eight night cruise. There is no tipping required or expected on Radisson. Best part of the trip A tossup between the food and the entertainment (both described below), with a slight nod to the food. The service and the friendliness of the crew were a close third, and we became very friendly with the assistant cruise director. This was a Jazz cruise, featuring Bucky Pizzarelli and an equally talented ensemble. We loved every minute they played. The jazz elevated this cruise's entertainment to some of the best we've enjoyed. The crew's show consisted of lip-synching, but was fun, anyway. I miss the native dances performed on some other (HAL) cruises, but the jazz made up for that lack. Their regular entertainers were also superb - their duo was perfectly respectable, even compared to the jazz greats. Worst part of the trip Disembarkation, both because we were sorry to have to leave the ship, and because things were so overcrowded that we posted a thread entitled "Chaos on the New York piers." There has to be a better way than to have two porters for 6 cruise ships. We were at the far end of the terminal, and there was NOBODY, and NO CARTS, to help with luggage. This is often a nightmare. The cruise lines believe the cruise is over, and they can focus on their arriving passengers - but disembarkation is also part of the cruise for the traveler, There were only three other things messed up on our eight day cruise, luggage delivery on embarkation, the Halifax shuttle back from the Public Garden (which was early, so we were on time and missed it), and the frequency of tenders in Bar Harbor, which caused us to miss lunch. That's pretty good for eight days. Embarkation Our ship arranged flight to Montreal went smoothly, we got our bags quickly, and met our transfer bus immediately. We were taken directly to the pier, and arrived at 10:50 a.m., which was too early to board. Our luggage was placed in a secure storage area, which subsequently caused one of the few problems on the trip. The line apparently forgot about the luggage, which didn't get to our room (after we complained) until about 4:30 p.m. We walked around Montreal, and got back to the pier at around 12:15. Embarkation was quick and friendly. We got our cruise cards, got a glass of champagne, left our carryon in the room (which wasn't supposed to be ready yet, and wasn't), and went to Portofino, where we had the first of many great meals. By the time we were finished, our room was ready. Accommodations These were the largest rooms we'd had on our seven cruises (300 square feet), and we enjoyed the roominess, the walk in clothes closet, the down duvets, the separate tub and shower: in short, everything. We didn't have a balcony, and didn't feel we needed one. The stewardess was attentive to our needs. The room was kept clean, and when we asked for something (ice, more shampoo, etc.) it arrived promptly. The towels and bathrobes were good, and the fruit bowl was kept filled. Wining and Dining The food in the dining rooms was so good, and so convenient, that we tried room service only twice, for breakfast. We made a special request for "crabs benedict", and got them on the second day (24 hour notice is needed) This demonstrated Radisson's willingness to honor special requests. While the crabmeat eggs benedict sounded better than they tasted, but the rest of the meal was superb. The hot things were hot, the cold things cold and everything in-between was just as it should be. Breakfast and lunch were served in the Compass Rose, but other food was available in a variety of locations. We had two lunches off the ship, on excursions in Prince Edward Island (Lobster) and Louisbourg, Nova Scotia (soldiers' fare). The remainder were at Portofino or, in one case, at the pool grill. In all cases, lunch was well presented, hot or cold as it was supposed to be, and delicious. There was always something exotic, and we like exotic. As for the service, the waiters practically fought over which one would carry our food to the table. . Dinners were even better than breakfasts and lunches: good choices, and steak, chicken, healthy and vegetable choices, and grilled fish were always available. We're not steak fans, but enjoyed "Italian steak house" nigh at Portofino. We had a second night at Portofino, for "A taste of Italy." The food wasn't as good as on other nights in Portofino and the main dining room, but who cared: we were having so much fun with the singing waiters and the hokey Italian songs. Don Vito's staff from the Diamond have arrived on the Navigator! The wine was abundant, freely poured, and delicious - and was, of course, complimentary. We had so much wine and port at dinner that our bar tab was zero. Open sitting was generally good, although we do see some benefit to fixed seating with the same waiter every night. We ate by ourselves, with people we met, and (once) at a randomly assigned table. If there was a down side, it was that meals started at seven, which is later than we like to eat on vacation. That, in turn, mean that the shows started very late for us: 9:30 or 9:45. We missed several shows, including some great jazz (see below) because we simply were too tired to go to such late (for us) shows. Ports and Itinerary Unlike our two weeks in the Western Med. Last year, this was not a "killer itinerary"; but it had some very pleasant ports. Montreal and Quebec were rainy, but we did enjoy a private (non-ship) tour of Quebec, and the Quebec Museum of Civilization was terrific. We took ship's excursions in Charlottetown and Sydney , but would have enjoyed either city without any excursion. Halifax is always fun, especially when you are greeted by Theodore the Tugboat as you enter the big harbor. We took a ferry across the harbor and back, saw the Maritime museum, visited the public garden (but, as noted above, missed the shuttle back to the ship because it left early), and walked along the waterfront. Bar Harbor was disappointing. We had reserved an independent tour, but ended up with a ship's tour because of the timing of our visit. The park was beautiful and we had a nice walking tour; but the tour guide and driver refused to let us off at a museum we wanted to go to. (WHY? ) We ended up walking up and down a typical New England resort town: every window a place to take your money. Typical tourist stuff, prices too high (and too similar - all the shops sold t-shirts for a price within $1.00 of each other, all the ice cream cost the same, all the sandwiches cost within $1.00 of each other) nothing special. We just missed a tender, had a 25 minute wait, then just missed lunch. (That's when we ate a good lunch poolside). All in all, Bar Harbor was the low point of the trip. Boston was a surprising high point. After living in Boston for three years, what could we do that would be interesting during a very short time in port? The answer was: plenty. We walked the Freedom Trail to Old Ironsides, had a great (free) tour of the ship, walked through the (free) museum saw a ($3.00) multimedia re-enactment of the Battle of Bunker Hill, then took an inexpensive ferry back to our shuttle pickup point. Great fun, and something we'd never done. Obviously, the Tourist Office of Boston AND the National Parks Service AND the U.S. Navy AND the MBTA have advised people working with tourists how to treat them Excursions We used ship's excursions in three ports. In Bar Harbor, we took a "Walking Tour with Cadillac Mountain". The tour was interesting and the view from the mountain gorgeous; but, as noted, it ended on a sour note when we couldn't get off the bus where we wanted to get off. We would have done just as well with lunch on board ship and "Oli"s. In Louisbourg, we planned on taking a cab from the ship to the fortress. The ship, however, docked at Sydney, so we had to take a ship's tour to get to the fortress. Our six person kitchen and garden tour was expensive but good, and we enjoyed the fortress very much. Sydney, itself, had some history and I'm sure we could have walked their historic district happily. We've saved the best for last: Anne of Green gables and Dalvay-by-the-Sea. We're big Anne fans, so we took the deluxe tour, which included a lovely tour of PEI National Park, lobster and mussel lunch at an old seaside "cottage" that is now a landmark hotel, and Green Gables. Joan dressed up as Anne, complete with red wig (with pigtails), calico dress, and basket of goodies. Wonderful. Entertainment Entertainment was the best we've ever had. The show room and Vista lounge were comfortable, the cast shows (six talented young people) and entertainers were fine, and the lounge players were excellent. This was all overshadowed by the special signature events of the cruise: this was a jazz cruise. And what jazz! Eleven jazz men and women, many of them famous: Bucky Pizzarelli, John Allred, Randy Sandke, Nikki Parrott, Calolyn Leonhart, and several others. There was jazz once or twice a day: in the showroom, the Vista lounge, and by the pool. Hot jazz, cool jazz, old and new, New Orleans, Chicago, and Memphis style. Soloists, big combos, small combos. Total saturation, after we hadn't been to a jazz concert in years. We loved every minute. What was best, the jazz performers were treated as passengers when they weren't performing, and we kept running into them: at dinner, around the ship, in ports. We saw them as people, not just performers. There was only one down side to the entertainment, as noted above. Because of the single sitting, the evening shows were uncomfortably late for us. Level of service Even better than the generally excellent service last November on Windstar. We can't wait for our next Radisson cruise, which (due to tight vacation schedules in 2006) will probably be in 2007. Tipping None is required or accepted. Disembarkation There were seven ships in the port of New York, so disembarkation was awful. See our post on "Chaos on the New York piers". We were comfortable, if bored, during the long, long wait to get off the ship. Final impressions Radisson has a reputation as a deluxe cruise line, and it fully lived up to the reputation. Read Less
Sail Date September 2005
We flew Japan Air which was quite good in business class and we arrived as scheduled. We travelled by private car to the ship, arriving late in the evening, about 8:30 pm. Nevertheless there was someone to greet us at the terminal and we ... Read More
We flew Japan Air which was quite good in business class and we arrived as scheduled. We travelled by private car to the ship, arriving late in the evening, about 8:30 pm. Nevertheless there was someone to greet us at the terminal and we were checked in in 15 minutes or so. We ordered a sandwich from room service, our luggage arrived promptly and we were sound asleep. The next day we did the full day tour of Tokyo and like many organized tours it was informative but not particularly memorable. The next day was at sea and we made our spa reservations, played trivia and bingo, enjoyed tea and so forth. All in all a very pleasant and relaxing day. Mariner's cabins are not as big as the Voyager's and although initially I was disappointed, I got used to it and it was just fine. Nagasaki: we opted to skip the Peace Park and go to Unzen Hell. This was a very bizarre day. Unzen Hell is a group of hot springs and an active volcano. It was interesting for awhile but this trip could have been much shorter and no one would have complained. Then we went to lunch at a BAVARIAN themed restaurant???!! The food was German-like and the Japanese staff were all dressed in dirndls and lederhosen. It was truly weird. Like "Heidi goes to Japan". Next stop China! We LOVED China. Dalian was kinda forgettable. Although we did enjoy flying kites which is one of DH's passions, but otherwise this port is a bit of a mystery to me. But the complimentary excursion to Beijing was a lifetime experience. Radisson Seven Seas provided this to all passengers and it was wonderful. We went to the Great Wall and although very crowded because of a Chinese holiday was nevertheless, just awesome. We stayed at the China World hotel with all others who were going on to Xi'an. The trip to Xi'an to se the Terra Cotta Warriors was an optional trip taken by about 50 of us. Those who were returning to the ship stayed at the ShangriLa. China World was absolutely beautiful. It has an attached shopping mall which includes Ferragamo, Cartier, Bvlgari and the like. I thought "who shops here? Isn't this a Communist country?" After check in we walked a few blocks to Silk Alley. Now THAT is an experience. It is a large indoor flea market kind of place with hundreds of stalls on 3 floors full of sales people whose English consists of "Hey Lady" It was like being in a warehouse full of Jerry Lewises! Once we got past the shock of being grabbed at, it was pretty fun. We got some purses and watches and then went back to the hotel. Outside there were 5 or 6 women selling socks, of all things, who were extremely aggressive but we took it all in stride and had a good time. Dinner was at the hotel and it was very good. It was a buffet but they had a noodle maker present similar to a pasta bar but he was making the noodles from the dough. It was fascinating and very tasty. The next day we went to the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square. Both places were packed. There is a Chinese holiday which lasts from Oct 1 to Oct 7 and we were caught in that but still it was fantastic. The Square was all decorated with banners and the like for the Olympics in 2008. We bought a couple of baseball hats that say Beijing 2008 for a dollar. Then we flew off to Xi'an on China East airlines. This was roughly the equivalent to any US 'no frills" kind of airline. The flight attendants came down the aisle and said "Happy Chinese NAtional Day" to each and presented us with a tote bag. We arrived at the Shangri La hotel and encountered a great deal of confusion with regard to the luggage. To make it worse, for unexplained reasons the excursion to the T'ang Dynasty dinner and show which was to have been the next night was moved up a day and we would be heading out to that within a couple of hours of our arrival. By the time our luggage made it to the room, we had to rush to make the bus. The show was very interesting and we had our picture taken with the troupe but since we had been in the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square earlier this day then flown from Beijing, you can imagine just how exhausted we were! It was difficult to keep our eyes open during the show. The Terra Cotta warriors are an unbelievable experience. They are in 3 pits, the first is the most interesting as it contains many more figures then the other 2 pits. We bought a 3/4 size one for our yard at home. He will arrive by slow boat from China around Christmas. We took an excursion to a mosque in Xi'an. A number of people stayed on the bus. The mosque itself was nothing special, but oh the walk to get to it!! We walked thru a street bazaar filled with Chinese muslims, cooking all kinds of wondrous looking things on open grills. Altho there were open baskets of raw meat and fish, rather than being stinky, it all smelled wonderful! This was like a scene from a movie, kept expecting to see Indiana Jones running by being chased by bad guys with swords! What a hoot! We even stopped into a Chinese pharmacy and were shown the dried scorpions and centipedes etc that constitute Chinese cure-alls, ewww. A really great day. We flew back to the ship, meeting it in Shanghai. The trip back was not as smooth as the trip to Xi'an due to some issues with boarding passes and seat assignments but we all made back to the ship in one piece. We really didn't get to see much of Shanghai because of the Xi'an trip but what we saw was impressive. We went to the Chinese acrobats show which was very cool. Like an entire show of the individual acts you can see at any Cirque Du Soleil show. It was pretty special and we thoroughly enjoyed it. Before we went to Beijing, we had encountered Gordon the cruise director and asked about Karaoke on the ship. My husband really enjoys that and Gordon said "sure that'll be great" but it never happened. Every night the night club featured disco. And every night I would walk by and there would be ABSOLUTELY NO ONE in there. I mean that literally, there was not a soul in the whole place except the bartender and I only saw him once! DH was very disappointed that despite the complete and utter lack of interest in disco and his specific request for something else, the cruise director never responded to our inquiries about when would we get Karaoke. So DH sang a couple of songs on the pool deck with the Mariner Five and was mollified somewhat but still, what's with the disco thing?? Our last port was Hong Kong. The first day we took the ships tour and went to the top of Victoria Peak and stopped at the Stanley Market We disembarked the Mariner the next day without delay. We stayed an extra day at the Peninsula hotel. What a fabulous place. During the day we rode on the Star Ferry and did some (more) shopping. I had bought an extra suitcase at the Stanley Market so we were "good to go". That night we ate at Felix and took pictures in the famous men's room. In the morning we checked out and as previously arranged we took the hotel's Rolls Royce to the airport for roughly $100 USD. A great way to end our trip. The hotel's staff met us at the curb at the terminal and took our luggage for us to the airline counter and waited with us till we had boarding passes and baggage tags. What a level of service! We flew home in the upper deck of a 747 and it was very pleasant flight home. Although we were obviously sick by this time, no one at any airport we were in questioned us. I found this to be a relief on the one hand and troubling on the other, what about this bird flu pandemic?? This was truly a fantastic voyage. I would recommend it to anyone looking for something a little exotic, totally "foreign" and completely memorable. Read Less
Sail Date September 2005
We sailed from Fort Lauderdale on the 28th November, 2005, on Radisson Voyager, what an experience. From the check in at the pier to our check out on the 5th December 2005 everything could not have been more enjoyable. We arrived at 1pm ... Read More
We sailed from Fort Lauderdale on the 28th November, 2005, on Radisson Voyager, what an experience. From the check in at the pier to our check out on the 5th December 2005 everything could not have been more enjoyable. We arrived at 1pm to be met by a lady who said just leave your bags we will take care of them and then we were shown to check in, no one there, we sailed, pardon the pun, straight onto the ship to be greeted with a glass of champagne. We were told that our suite would not be ready till 3pm but would we care for lunch at La Veranda. We went up on deck and shown to a table in La Veranda, again excellent, the food there was so much choice and the staff were there all the time checking to see if everything was OK. The Maitre D' was also very helpful telling us about La Veranda as an alternative eating place in the evening. We then heard an announcement that our suites were available ahead of time this was 2pm. We arrived on deck 10 and opened the door and our expression was WOW!! We had on the coffee table a chilled bottle of champagne awaiting us, our cabin stewardess Xenette appeared and went through details regarding our suite and what bottles of spirits we required. You are allowed 2 bottle per suite in cat H. We then went on to explore our suite, the bathroom was enormous with separate bath and shower and all tastefully done in marble. Separate dressing room with safe etc. and enormous bed and sitting area with fridge etc. Now for the restaurants during our cruise. We dined in the Compass Rose , Signature, La Veranda and Latitudes during our cruise. Signatures was our favorite, but closely followed by La Veranda. La Veranda was also the place to eat for breakfast with the magnificent views of the ocean. Our least favorite was Latitudes as this was Asian fusion cuisine, not to our taste. Everything about this cruise was excellent and we could not praise the staff enough, they were there for you all the time. Soft drinks were on the house 24 hours a day, in fact if you did not drink alcohol then apart from any excursions your bill would be nothing at the end of the cruise. Would we go again the answer is most definitely. Read Less
Sail Date November 2005
When you plan a cruise, as we did, 6 months ahead of time there is a great deal of anticipation as we read and reread the brochure and garner as much information as we can about the ship, the line and the ports of call. When we received ... Read More
When you plan a cruise, as we did, 6 months ahead of time there is a great deal of anticipation as we read and reread the brochure and garner as much information as we can about the ship, the line and the ports of call. When we received a brochure in the mail about a transatlantic crossing on the Radisson Seven Seas Voyager; we immediately decided that, based on all we read about the ship, our previous experience on the RSSC Song of Flower and our enjoyment of a similar journey last year on the Star Princess, to book the trip. We used RSSC air transportation from Los Angels to Nice, France. The efficiency and service we were to receive on board was well illustrated when our connecting flight from Chicago to Frankfurt was delayed for 4 hours. We contacted RSSC by cell phone, told them of our problem. Within a short time they returned our call with the information that a new connecting flight had been booked and that their agent in Nice had been notified of our late arrival. We arrived in Nice and were met by a representative of RSSC who assisted in transferring our luggage to a waiting Mercedes SUV and driving us, via a beautiful scenic route to Monte Carlo where our ship awaited us. Check-in was very quick and our luggage arrived in our suite very promptly. We had booked an "E" guaranteed accommodation but we had been upgraded to a Horizon suite, room 878. It was magnificent with a balcony that was about 18' x 10'. It was equipped with two chairs and a footrest, we requested two chaise lounges which arrived during the dinner hours!! As we had been "on the road" for 25 hours we enjoyed a couple of hours rest after the muster drill and then it was time for dinner. We decided that we would try the Verandah Grill on deck 11 and were delighted with the menu, the friendly service, the beautiful buffet and the feeling of being made a very welcome guest. We had read reports that the Horizon suites were subject to "noise and vibrations" when the ship was under way. On the overnight journey to Barcelona we did notice a slight vibration but nothing which interfered with a very restful nights rest. When the ship docked, using its guidance pods, there was some vibration but our guess is that it was felt all over the stern end of the ship. (We remember when we used to pay 25 cents at motels to have a vibrating mattress.) Having visited Barcelona on other cruises we decided to take the ship provided shuttle bus into the city and then enjoyed the drive around on the "on/off" bus which we had used on previous visits to European cities. Many of our fellow passengers also used this method of seeing the city in the relatively short time we had there. We elected to have dinner in the beautiful Compass Rose Restaurant and decided to ask to be seated with 4 other passengers. As on every occasion we did this we were very pleased with the "strangers" we enjoyed dinner with. We were always able to obtain a table for two any time we requested it. The majority of people we met were well traveled, successful people from varying backgrounds in the business world, the professions and the military services. The husband of one of the couples on this table had been a naval officer on a nuclear submarine. The conversation was extremely informative and it was great to share. The other couple were the ladies conducting the arts and crafts program being offered by the ship. Very talented ladies whose story of how they got involved in this fascinating way to see the world on cruise ships, was very enlightening to us. The passengers were mostly from the US and the UK with a few Asians on the first leg of the back to back cruise. The following morning we enjoyed a room service breakfast, delivered very promptly with everything we had ordered the night before. We learnt a quick lesson on ordering: if you wanted more than one item eg. butter, you had better write it on the order! Our next PoC was Valencia. We had opted not to take a tour as we wanted to see the city. The shuttle bus took us to the city center which we walked around and enjoyed its very Spanish ambience. Unfortunately the time we had there was very limited. We would not recommend this cruise if you want port intensive experience. If that is the case take a full Mediterranean cruise and have time to enjoy the PoC. We enjoyed the entertainment provided by the resident ship's company, this evening was "Songs from the Opera." The young people did a very creditable job. Dinner was again in the Compass Rose where we learned another lesson; try not sitting in the center of the room, it is too noisy to really enjoy conversation. While we are on a little negative tone we must express our dismay that there is a section of the dining room which is a "smoking" section. Unfortunately the fumes from that section waft to a much larger area. Why on earth a line as wonderful as Radisson cannot emulate other lines which ban smoking from eating areas is beyond our comprehension. We had decided to take a ship's tour in Malaga to the city of Marbella and Porto Banos. We were very impressed with the beautiful city, its old town and upscale shopping area. Its marina was home to many multi million dollar yachts, shops and restaurants. The journey along the coast in a comfortable coach was very spectacular. We returned to the ship for a nice lunch on deck. At lunch time there were several venues; the Compass Rose always had a full luncheon menu with several courses offered. We always enjoyed sitting at a window there watching the sea go by while being nicely served by the very efficient and always pleasant staff. On deck there were served barbecue lunches with a sandwich and salad buffet and everyday a couple of favors of delicious ice-cream. In the Verandah Grill a very full buffet of roasted meats, salads, deserts pleased our palates. Again as we have observed, the service was impeccable. On the second day on board we had made a reservation for dinner at Signatures. This gourmet French restaurant with limited seating and a fine menu made us feel very welcome and the food was, IMHO, outstanding. We do not want to go into details of what we ate but we "ummed and ahhed" throughout the meal! We also ate at the Latitudes Asian restaurant on two occasions. The menu was very different each time, it is changed weekly. The food was different than we expected with subtle flavors rather than highly flavored dishes. The presentation and venue were again superior. The Maitre d' Ruby deserves special mention for her exceptional service and attention This evening we passed the Rock of Gibraltar. The captain stopped the ship so we could have a good view of the floodlit entrance to the Mediterranean. Being a first for us it was rather exciting to view a landmark which we had, on previous visits to the area, "passed in the night." The cruise was advertised with a Big Band and Salute to Sinatra theme. Being of an age which is appreciative of both themes this was an added incentive for us to take this cruise. The band and the "Sinatra" look and sound alike person, did not join the ship until it arrived in Malaga. On their first night aboard they provided a rather tired performance which they apologized for. After a 24 hour journey they certainly played well enough for us but obviously were very fatigued. For the rest of the journey the fantastic music of the Nelson Riddle Orchestra under the baton of Nelson Riddle's son Christopher Riddle and Sinatra impersonator Brian Anthony really rocked the ship. On two late nights members of the band "jammed" in the Horizon Lounge, much to the delight of the passengers. Brian Anthony, a 28 year old performer who emulated the late Frank Sinatra in presentation and matching voice was sensational. The resident comedian, a Welshman who lives in Arkansas (that is funny to begin with) Kenny Smiles who has been with RSSC for 8 years was really funny without the usual crudeness of cruise ship comedians. He had his audience in his hands from the moment he walked on stage. Not only was he funny on stage but was most pleasant and interesting in on deck encounters. His singing voice was a reminder of his Welsh heritage and his presentation in the very soft lilting accent of Wales was very refreshing. Other entertainers included a classical guitarist in the observation lounge whose repertoire was excellent for pre-dinner and relaxing moments on board. A very talented Venezuelan classical pianist, Vanessa Perez, gave two recitals during the trip. In our opinion her talents were much underutilized. She was an exceptional pianist. There were the usual activities on board with good enrichment speakers on a variety of subjects. One passenger who had been a Royal and star photographer for many years gave an excellent power point presentation of some of his portfolio of portraits and casual shots of many Royal Families and easily recognized movie stars who he had photographed. Our next PoC were in Morocco. Casablanca and Agadir. In Casablanca we had a complimentary tour of the city given by our TA. We were taken to a Jewish Museum in a nice residential neighborhood which presented the 2,000+ year history of the Jewish people in Morocco. This we found very interesting and informative. We were then taken to the Great Mosque, the 2nd largest in the world. The mosque sits on the seashore and is built above the sea giving it a very dramatic appearance. We could have been escorted on a tour but declined because it meant walking barefoot for a long distance. We were happy to re-board the Voyager for lunch after seeing what was really just another big city with lots of traffic and with a culture not of our understanding. Agadir proved to be a city of contrasts. We took a ship's tour which took us to one or two tourist traps, an apothecary store and the usual local handicraft gift store, a scenic ride oa see the city from above with camel rides and more vendors. We later were taken to a tourist area of modern hotels, condos, stores and topless beaches! Again we were happy to get back to the ship. The last two days of the first part of the cruise took us to Lanzarrote, a volcanic island in the Canaries. The tour we took of the northern part of the island took us through moon like landscapes dotted with beautifully kept villages and homes all painted in a brilliant white with green or blue doors. A visit to a volcanic plume, a cave with clear water and fantastic reflections, followed by a visit to a cactus garden, the chance meeting with a couple from my hometown in England, which I had left 56 years ago, and who were acquainted with our family who still live there, added another dimension to our enjoyment of the cruise. The following day we were in Funchal, Madeira. We had looked forward to doing some shopping fro embroidery there but as it was Sunday there were no shops open! A cable car ride took us to a viewpoint above this beautiful city. We were surprised by the beauty of Funchal which is built on high mountains surrounding the bay. The mode of transportation down the streets that made the city was by baskets mounted on skis and controlled by two obviously very fit young Portuguese young men. It was a very thrilling ride!! The visit ended with a visit to sample Madeira wines in the very European city center. After leaving Funchal, bound for Fort Lauderdale we settled down to what was described as "a summer camp on the ocean." The weather was a little rocky and rainy the first day out but the ship handled the seas very well and we enjoyed the crossing in otherwise warm and gentle weather with lots of whatever you wanted to do aboard at your finger tips. The food remained constantly excellent as we dined our way across the Atlantic and as is obvious from this rather rater long account, we had a "ball." We have always said that at the end of a cruise the cruise line is happy to say goodbye and drop you at some dock or other. Not RSSC. They had representatives on the dock at Fort Lauderdale, buses to transport us to the airport accompanied by company reps, they even took care of the luggage at the airport and tipped the porters!!! Overall, a most enjoyable, exciting and memorable experience; we cannot wait to join another Radisson Seven Seas Cruise again. Read Less
Sail Date November 2005
Itinerary: Monte Carlo -Livornia-Civitavecchia-Sorrento-Naxos-Rhodes-Kusadasi-Piraeus (Athens). Dates: 10/22/05-10/30/05. Our experience: me (4th cruise mostly HAL previously) wife (15th -HAL, Crystal, Carnival previously). Embarkation: ... Read More
Itinerary: Monte Carlo -Livornia-Civitavecchia-Sorrento-Naxos-Rhodes-Kusadasi-Piraeus (Athens). Dates: 10/22/05-10/30/05. Our experience: me (4th cruise mostly HAL previously) wife (15th -HAL, Crystal, Carnival previously). Embarkation: Flew into Nice, met at airport and placed on bus. Driven to a hotel. Left in a large room with complimentary drinks and treats and told to stay put for about 3 hours. Much grousing from fellow passengers. Aside from going to the bathroom, nothing to see or do. Finally bussed to ship, boarded and went to room, luggage showed up an hour later. Rating: 2/6 Cabin: Nice size, clean. Separate shower and tub. Whenever you opened the door to shower, you were met with a blast of sewer gas. Cabin attendant pleasant but not around all that much. Slow to restock no-cost minibar. Telephones do not work that well. Nothing special about cabin to kick up above rating of 4 out of 6. Food: Despite all the wondrous reviews that they insist you see every time you turn around, we found it "eh". Portions are always small and despite 4 foot long elaborate menus descriptions, very little on plate when you get it. Wine steward poor - pushing a red and white every night but can't handle a significant order well or gracefully (and insists on your room card to charge it the second you order it! Where does he think I'm going to go before drinking it???!!!) Waiters: some Filipinos great (and, significantly, trained by other lines) whereas Caucasians very mixed in quality. Many did not work well as a team e.g. one offers pepper and then another shows up 5 minutes later and offers it again.) Dessert tea does not hold a candle to the midnight one done by HAL. Only heard one other passenger think the food was "great". Most were disappointed. Would only give them a 3 out of 6. Restaurant decor: very average. Nothing stands out well nor are there clear themes. Therefore, why bother going to Signature or Latitudes restaurants? La Veranda/Mediterranean Bistro good. Compass Rose definitely blase. The menus are not all that attractive. Ship decor: clean, neat, unimaginative. Ship well-kept. Seems to be a good ship crew. Had our first ever bridge tour- no other captain has ever allowed on any of previous cruises. Captain conducts tour himself with second officer. Captain very friendly, shakes hands, pulls out charts to show you things, very nice (unlike on Crystal where Captain refused to shake hands for "health reasons".) Security: Minimal They hold your passport so you are bopping around foreign countries without significant ID. Swipe your guest card and you are on or off. Only had my purchases inspected at two stops. Metal detector turned off most of the time (my wife has pacemaker so has to ask every time- that is what she was told). Fellow passengers: this is not a cruise for anyone under 50. Lots of diamonds well-dressed and courteous. Only one formal night which seems a waste of time to pack a tux for. Families: as above, forget the kids for this one. Also, twenty-somethings will be reading a book. Shore excursions: Completely incompetent. Packaged for the 50 plus crowd. Spent 8 days on the Mediterranean and could not get IN it the whole time. No diving, no snorkeling, no beaches, no boat cruises, no whale watches, no sailboating etc. etc. Tours poorly organized and over priced. The tour people only know what the shore agents tell them and they don't try too hard to find out things for you. Personalization of tours as we did for Rome is very expensive and the people they find for you not that good or knowledgeable. zero out of 6 for this. Spa: Spa treatments good with La Carita. Gym smallish with treadmills that don't work well consistently. HAL ships much bigger gym with better quality equipment. Disembarkation: crowded with lines, confusing. Bused to Hotel Intercontinental where bus driver left our bags IN THE MIDDLE OF THE STREET and drove off!! Long wait to check in Radisson people running around shouting but not achieving anything. Once checked in, Hotel Intercontinental wonderful. Room service so good we ordered everything on the menu and ate like starving refugees. In the morning, we were supposed to catch a bus by Radisson to the airport but they had screwed up so bad the day before we just got a taxi and did it ourselves (had to eat the voucher) but got checked in quicker. 0 for 6 for this. Overall rating: 3 out of 6. They do NOT rate 6 stars in anything and I don't know who is giving it to them. Will cruise other lines. This ship and line don't rate a repeat and are not worth the extra money you pay. Read Less
Sail Date November 2005
Overall Evaluation: This review is intended for Cruise Critic readers and Radisson staff. It is long and detailed so the summary is presented here. You can read the details if you wish. After years of enjoyable cruises aboard ships from ... Read More
Overall Evaluation: This review is intended for Cruise Critic readers and Radisson staff. It is long and detailed so the summary is presented here. You can read the details if you wish. After years of enjoyable cruises aboard ships from Celebrity, Costa and Royal Caribbean, it comes time to try something a little upscale  fewer guests, more space; fewer frills (Climbing wall, anyone?) more luxury; fewer activities, more time to reflect. So we embark on our first Radisson Seven Seas Cruises experience. The cruise was amazing. The ship and cabin, the staff, the dining and the amenities all exceeded our expectations. With a capacity of 700 guests and an actual count of 615, the smaller ship never felt crowded or even populated. We found this cruise to be an excellent value if all things are considered  especially for the six-star luxury it afforded. Details follow. Embarkation: Shortly after Noon, embarkation from Port Everglades went very smoothly. A port staffer met our car and gave us luggage tags with our cabin number. Ordinarily guests would have luggage tags ahead of time with their travel documents. We booked late. Entering the ship on Deck 5 we were presented with crystal flutes of champagne, which we were to find a very frequent pleasure, and informed that our cabin would be ready at 3 PM. Restaurants for lunch were suggested and we went to Deck 4 to Compass Rose. We used the time to make reservations at Signatures, the Cordon Bleu French restaurant, and Latitudes, the Asian fusion specialty venue. Fresh fruit, fresh flowers and a chilled bottle of good Champagne (actually a sparkling white wine from the Loire Valley) greeted us as our cabin was ready exactly at 3 PM. Our luggage and cabin attendant arrived minutes afterward. We made our in-cabin liquor selections and un-packed into the roomy walk-in closet. There were four cans of beer in the fridge along with four more left by the cabins previous occupant along with two bottles of Châteauneuf-du-Pape, also left behind. Ship: The Seven Seas Voyager is simply beautiful. The dEcor is elegantly understated, a sort of chic grace and style; the Atrium, extending from Deck 4 to Deck 11, is quite attractive although the stairs across the space detracted somewhat from an open and airy feeling. There are two banks of elevators for use by guests. Only the two aft elevators go to Deck 12. The cluster of five elevators forward have curved glass walls looking out into the Atrium. The jogging track on the Sun Deck, Deck 12, mid-ships, overlooks the pool and measures 7 laps to the mile. Public areas: Restrooms  They are large, elegantly decorated and spacious. There are always fresh flowers and terry hand towels. Pool: There is a small salt water pool and two jetted hot tubs on Deck 11. There are always ample lounges even on sea days. The tables and chairs are genuine teak. A cruisers secret  there is a secret hideaway for sunbathing on Deck 5 sunny side with plenty of lounges. Check it out. Cabin: Our Category H cabin, Deck 6 aft, the standard Deluxe Suite, measures 306 square feet plus a 50 square foot veranda. All cabins on the Seven Seas Voyager have verandas. The cabin is almost twice the size of a standard mass-market cruise line cabin. The all marble bathroom accommodates a full-size bathtub plus a glass-enclosed shower. For once I found ample storage space for personal items. There is a walk-in closet with more than ample hanging and drawer storage and a safe. The cabin itself is furnished with a king-size bed, not queen, a large sofa, cocktail table with two chairs, a writing desk with a chair, a vanity with chair  in other words, plenty of room and a veranda with two chairs and a table. The cabinets above the mini-fridge and desk contained crystal Champagne flutes, old fashioned glasses, water glasses and wine glasses plus coasters, napkins, stirrers, an ice bucket and a Champagne bottle stopper. The television with DVD player features 21 channels with the usual on-board telecasts plus CNN International, ESPN International and FOX News Channel. There are four continuous movie channels with a printed schedule in the cabin. There is a DVD library on Deck 5 with hundreds of titles  drama, comedy and childrens. Our cabin attendant, Rosalie, was superlative. The cabin was always made-up and always ready with ice, flowers and fresh fruit. Additional cans of tonic were promptly delivered and I never again ran out. There was some sound and vibration from the propulsion system. When large swells were encountered in the Pacific off Mexico, there were numerous clicks and rattles concentrated at the vanity mirror. A few small pieces of cardboard diminished this nuisance somewhat. But the vibration and noise is disappointing considering the otherwise outstanding qualities of the ship. Dining: There are four open seating restaurants plus a grill at the pool. La Veranda  Located on Deck 11 Aft, the buffet-style restaurant has a buffet line on each side of the ship. In addition to the buffet lines, at breakfast there are two omelet stations. At lunch there are stations offering pizza, pasta, carved meats and other dishes. Desserts are given their own station. Breakfast features one hot cooked-to-order special every day delivered to your table: French toast, minute steak, banana pancakes, eggs Benedict, etc. Otherwise the breakfast buffet is rather consistent although of excellent quality: eggs, bacon, sausages, hash, baked beans, broiled tomatoes plus cold meats, smoked salmon and other European-style items. Omelets and toast are made to order and delivered to your table hot. At lunch the food is quite good with a large number of choices. The salad bar is especially good. There are always one or more fish dishes, a pasta station and roasted meat  goose, turkey, prime rib, pork roast  at a carving station. Very attentive waiters bring drinks and special meal orders. On alternate evenings (6:30 PM to 9 PM), the port side of La Veranda is transformed alternately into a Mediterranean Bistro or Italian Steakhouse. Dinner begins with a visit to the antipasto bar: dolmas, marinated vegetables, meats and cheeses, cold shellfish, other innovative appetizers, salads and much more. The Mediterranean Bistro menu features soups, pastas and several main courses of veal, beef, chicken and fish  all uniformly excellent. A sample Mediterranean Bistro dinner: antipasto buffet, Tuscan bean soup, salad, pasta with proscuitto and tomato sauce, veal with truffle sauce. The beef medallions with Balsamic reduction are especially memorable along with two lobster tails in tomato reduction. There is always a hot dessert  bananas Foster, flambEed peaches, etc.  as well as a dessert bar. Coffee, espresso, Cappuccino is offered. After dinner liqueurs are available. The Italian Steakhouse was quite similar but with more grilled meats. There are always good, medium quality white and red wines offered. No Barolos, unfortunately. These may be ordered and paid for from a separate wine list. Cocktails are also available. The Pool Grill  Deck 11, outside and mid-ships, 11 AM to 4 PM. Featuring cooked-to-order grilled hot dogs and hamburgers, grilled fish of the day, minute steak, grilled chicken breast, pizza, veggie burger and Cuban sandwiches. One places an order with table number and a waiter promptly delivers the food, hot and tasty. Days at sea featured special theme buffets set on additional tables. Some examples: a caviar and vodka bar (included) with stone crab claws, king crab legs and steamed mussels plus a complete German buffet with Heineken beer on tap (I cant figure the connection); a grilled steak and lobster buffet; a Mexican buffet; grilled fresh fish brought on board at Huatulco featuring several varieties; and Burger Heaven with a variety of cooked-to-order grilled hamburgers, cheeseburgers, chicken, sausages and veggie patties. Compass Rose  Deck 4 mid-ships, 6:30 PM to 9 PM. The main dining room is on one level, beautifully decorated and furnished with ample space between tables. The menu offers appetizers, soups, salads and main courses. Early courses are excellent. There are always a set of optional dishes offered  steak, fish and vegetarian. The various items are blended into several suggested menus: vegetarian, lactose intolerant, etc. White and red wines are offered and cocktails are available. Our companions one evening asked for the red wine they enjoyed from Signatures. Done. The food was uniformly excellent and always delivered hot. Some examples: Crab-cucumber Gateaux, Consumme with Profiterole (which contained a daub of pate de foie gras), Inter Cabbage and Potato Soup, Lamb Chops, Veal Chops, Boeuf Bourguinnone, It was quite pleasant not having over-burdened assistant waiters with huge trays stacked with covered plates obscuring our view. The dessert menu is offered after dinner along with a variety of ice cream. Good coffee is served promptly. There was no Lobster Night. Instead lobster appeared frequently on the menu as appetizers, soups, salads and main courses. Signatures  Deck 5 aft, 6:30 PM to 9:30 PM is the traditional French restaurant of the Voyager with supervision from Le Cordon Bleu. Note that there is no extra charge for dining at Signatures and reservations are required. A note at your cabin door in the morning reminds you of your reservation. The menu changes weekly. There is a variety of offerings for each course: appetizer, soup, salad, main course and dessert. Each dish we sampled was delicious, served hot, when appropriate, and beautifully presented. The service was prompt and attentive, the glassware and dishes of the finest quality. Good red and white French wines are offered. The Crustacean Bisque with Avocado, Tomato and Crab Garnishes is a good example of a soup course. There were several appetizers featuring fresh seafood. Typical main courses were Grilled Salmon with Buerre Blanc; Scallops with Cream Sauce. The Crème Brulee was the best weve had. I was reminded of a traditional New York French restaurant in the upper price and quality range. Latitudes  Deck 5 aft, 6:30 PM to 9:30 PM offered an Asian-fusion menu from its open kitchen. Note that there is no extra charge for dining at Latitudes and reservations are required. A note at your cabin door in the morning reminds you of your reservation. The fixed menu changes weekly. Here is the menu from one of our weeks: Beverage specialties: Welschriesling, Leo Hillinger, Rust, Austria, 2004; Small Hill, Leo Hillinger, Austria, 2004; San Miguel Premium Lager, Philippines; Tiger Lager Beer, Singapore; green and jasmine teas. Appetizer course (all): Vegetables Lumpia Sariwa with Garlic and Soy Sauce; Vietnamese Grilled Pork Balls; Chiang Mai-Sesame Shrimp Toast; Malaysian-Style Beef Satay; Thai-Lao Duck and Black Bean Crisp Rolls. After the appetizer course the lovely and courteous Mariton asked if we would like more. Indeed we would! Soup: Lemon Grass Infused Creamy Pumpkin Soup. This dish is so popular that it was included in a cooking class by the Latitudes chef, Gerry Garcia (not that Jerry Garcia). Salad: Aromatic Vietnamese Chicken Salad with Roasted Peanuts. Main Courses (all): Grilled Lobster Tail with Lime Leaves, Carrots, Apples and Curry; Braised Chicken in Coconut Milk Vietnamese Style; Garlic-Orange-Sherry Marinated Oven Baked Rack of Lamb; Served with Steamed Jasmine Rice and Sa-Ho Noodles. Dessert: Home Baked Passion Fruit Tart with Blackberry Coulis and Dark Chocolate Ice Cream. We enjoyed this menu so much we went again with friends two nights later. Coffee Corner: Deck 5, port side forward, 24 hours. The Coffee Corner offers 24 hour coffee and tea service with several tables and comfortable chairs and a large screen plasma television. An automatic machine provides fresh, hot coffee, cafe latte, cappuccino and espresso, de-caf or high-test. From 6:30 AM to 11 AM fresh squeezed juices, fruit, pastries and doughnuts are available. Wine and Liquor: Given the all-inclusive nature of Radisson Seven Seas Cruises, it should come as no surprise that beer, wine and liquor are provided at various times and venues. Whenever I was thinking free, my wife reminded me included. Upon embarkation we found beer in the fridge and our choice of liquor for the cruise. We chose a liter each of Beefeater and Tanqueray gins. Tonic in the fridge and lime slices from any bar. Wine is included with all evening meals. The choices vary by restaurant: French for Signatures, Italian for La Veranda, California and international for Compass Rose. Several international beers are offered in Latitudes. Wine service is attentive and frequent. Cocktails may be ordered from your dinner table. Included. At lunch, single glasses of wine may be ordered from the Pool Grill and La Veranda. Trays of Champagne and rum punch are passed at special events, see below, and cocktails may also be ordered. The Rose Bowl Tailgate Party and the caviar-German Pool Grill buffet included Heineken beer on tap. Bars: The Pool Bar (Deck 11, 9 AM to 6 PM), the Observation Lounge Bar (Deck 11, 11 AM to 5 PM and 8 PM to 1 AM), the Voyager Lounge (Deck 4, 2 PM to &), the Horizon Lounge (11 AM to 1 AM), all serve excellent cocktails with tasty hot and cold appetizers at appropriate times. Drink and wine prices run from $ 6.50 to $ 8.50, 15% tip included ($ 5.22 to $ 7.39 without tip). A caviar and vodka bar was set up outside the Voyage Lounge several nights serving a variety of caviars and vodkas. Entertainment: There were small music groups in the bars during appropriate evening hours. On this fourteen night cruise, the beautiful Constellation Theater offered: eight single acts, singers or comedians; four Broadway-style reviews with four outstanding singers and eight dancers; and a special treat  a classical pianist that gave two shows with the ships orchestra and a daytime recital. The Broadway-style reviews were fully staged with elaborate sets, special effects and very good performers  classical to pop. Casino: Small with slots and table games. Attire: Radisson suggests Country Club casual (resort-style outfits) is appropriate for daytime on board ship or ashore. Evening attire can be Country Club casual, informal or formal. Casual wear includes open neck shirts, slacks and sport outfits. For informal evenings, dresses or pantsuits, coats and ties are suggested. Formal evening-wear is gowns and cocktail dresses, tuxedos, dinner jackets or dark suits. The evening dress code is recommended for all public venues after 6 PM. I saw only an occasional infraction and those people really stood out. Shorts on ladies and gentlemen were commonplace around the ship and in La Veranda for breakfast and lunch. No tank tops, halter tops or bathing suits were seen except at the pool. On this fourteen night cruise, there were three formal nights, three informal nights and eight Country Club casual nights. Activities and Programs: There are a variety of activities and programs each day, with a larger selection on sea days  arts and crafts classes, destination lectures, bridge instruction, gardening lectures and an occasional cooking demonstration. Radisson produces an extensive Enrichment Program with formal lectures and less formal get-togethers. This cruise featured former Senator Bob Graham, Democrat of Florida and member of the Senate Intelligence Committee who spoke on homeland security; Dr. Alan Fisher discussing the Panama Canal, Costa Rica, Mexico and California; Dr. Oded Rudawsky who spoke on the economics of mineral extraction; and Jake Jacobs, a former military and commercial pilot and photography expert. There were also a number of special events which made for a more interesting and personal cruise: Sail Away Party  On the Pool Deck we were greeted with tables of hot and cold appetizers and trays of Champagne and rum punch and the ships dance band. We were delighted to meet two of the ships young entertainers whom we kept up with through the cruise. Block Party  At 6 PM on the second night out, each corridor offered wines and Champagne and an opportunity to meet our neighbors. Crew members, stewards and entertainment staff made for a festive atmosphere. Our block party had eighteen attendees, rumored to be one of the larger. Rose Bowl Tailgate  A projection television was set up in the Voyager Lounge with large-screens elsewhere to watch the Rose Bowl game  USC fans to one side, Texas fans to the other. Snacks, hot dogs and chicken wings were served with Heineken. If youve never had hot dogs off of fine China and cold beer in crystal goblets, you should try it sometime. A betting matrix was set up, $ 20 a square. New Years Eve Countdown Under the Stars  Again on the Pool Deck Champagne, rum punch and appetizers with the dance band and guest entertainers. Hats and party favors were supplied. Meeting the Seven Seas Mariner  At 10:30 in the evening on our way to Huatulco, we rendezvoused with our sister ship, the south-bound Seven Seas Mariner. Our Captain Dag Dvergastein had us all sign a six liter bottle of fine French Champagne which we presented to the Mariner from our cat boat. In return, we received a handsome world map signed by all of the guests aboard the Mariner. After a half hour of waving, music and spotlights, the two ships performed a ballet, each slowly making a 360 degree circle around the other then continuing on into the night. A remarkable experience. Again with the Champagne. Captains Welcome Reception  In the Atrium. Captains Farewell Cocktail Party  In the Constellation Theater highlighted by musical numbers performed by the crew. We were surprised and delighted to see our cabin stewardess perform. There are NO limbo contests, horse races or belly-flop contests at the pool. Very refined. There is a childrens program, Club Mariner, but very few children on the ship  reflecting the good advice to book longer cruises outside of holidays to avoid them. Launderettes: There are launderettes on Decks 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10, open from 7 AM to 10 PM. Each has two front-loading washers and two dryers. No need to bring any quarters  they and the soap are included. There are also two irons and ironing boards in each. Only occasionally on sea days were the machines not available. Computers and Internet Access: There is a central computer room. Club.com on Deck 5. Open 24 hours, computer use and printing are free. The 19 personal computers were seldom totally occupied, usually after lunch on days at sea. Internet access is available for a $ 3.95 registration fee and $ 0.35 per minute or $ 25 for 100 minutes or $ 50 for 250 minutes. There was no hard-wired connection to our cabin. Wireless Internet access is available in and around Club.com for the same fees. Using your own computer can reduce your expenses if you use a client E-mail program such as Outlook or Outlook Express rather than Web mail. You need be connected only to download your E-mail and later upload your replies; reading E-mail and composing replies can be done off-line. Coffee and soft drinks are available in Club.com. Shore Excursions: There are many shore excursions available in each port, enough variety to satisfy all tastes and reasonably priced considering they are from a cruise ship. We particularly enjoyed the Fury Catamaran Sail and Snorkel from Key West (3 hours, $ 45) and Sailing Catamaran Cruise from Cabo San Lucas (2 hours, $ 45 although it went three hours). The latter featured extensive sightings of migrating humpback whales. In between we had an outing at the Gatun Lake Yacht Club in the Panama Canal. The crew set up a bar-b-que buffet with beer and soft drinks and we enjoyed a folklorico show and swimming in Gatun Lake. We can now say we swam in the Panama Canal. Personnel Uniformly excellent. The largely Filipino cabin and dining crew were friendly and outgoing and attentive to their guests needs. At the La Veranda buffet and Pool Grill you arent left alone as on mass-market cruises; at breakfast and lunch they are there to bring special orders, drinks, wine, almost anything you could wish for. Remember, tips are included in the fare although it felt right to tip our cabin stewardess the usual daily amount at the end of the cruise. The officers are efficient, friendly and Norwegian. Captain Dag seems to be everywhere on the ship and has a wonderful sense of self-effacing humor, as when he confessed over the public address system that he got the clock settings wrong between Acapulco and Cabo San Lucas. Cruise Director Jamie Logan and Assistant Cruise Director Dana Logan (yes, theyre married) are ubiquitous, friendly, effective and, importantly, available. The ships dancers and singers show up at most events to mingle and socialize. They are charming. We enjoyed a delightful dinner in La Veranda with dancer Kim and Singer Corinne. Debarkation Colored luggage tags are distributed the night before debarkation, bags are placed outside ones cabin before 11 PM and will be found ashore. The morning of debarkation, passengers are directed to public rooms to await the announcement of their colors. It went very smoothly. All guests were ashore by 10 AM. Other FAXed major newspapers are available in your cabin for $ 4.95 per day each. Printed news summaries from the U.S. and Britain are delivered to your cabin each morning. Library  There is an excellent library on board, with a wide assortment of good books neatly categorized. Photographers are only to be found at embarkation and special events. Very nice. Tendering went well at ports where required. Bottled water and beach towels were always available at the gangway. Read Less
Sail Date December 2005
Background Information: Crossings are my favorite cruise and I do at least two yearly, but this was my first on the Regent Navigator. I made a conscious decision to accept her without comparing to the delightful Diamond or the classy ... Read More
Background Information: Crossings are my favorite cruise and I do at least two yearly, but this was my first on the Regent Navigator. I made a conscious decision to accept her without comparing to the delightful Diamond or the classy Voyager. She is definitely a unique experience, with some outstanding aspects and some real flaws. This cruise boarded in Fort Lauderdale and ended in Monte Carlo. The first week was truly laid-back with no ports; the second was port intensive. The westbound crossing is easier with an active start, time to recover, and best of all you gain hours instead of losing them almost every night on the second leg. But the lazy first week gave us ample chance to adjust. Off to the Ship: Fort Lauderdale is an easy embarkation port, and I easily booked my own hotel and transfer. After a quick hotel shuttle pickup, I settled into the airport Wyndham (soon to be a Hilton). In spite of a few minor problems I wouldn't hesitate to recommend this comfortable hotel for a pre-or-post stop. The hotel bell captain booked a shuttle to the port for me. I thought the price quoted was too low, and it was. I was solo, and they had quoted a multi-passenger pp/rate. The driver did not try to raise the price, but I offered to split the difference. Life's too short to take a bargain at somebody else's expense. When a flight attendant came rushing out and could not fit in the crew shuttle, I quickly agreed to share with her and drop her at the airport. It was still a bargain and we were all happy. The embarkation area at FLL is huge, and pretty vacant when accommodating the small RSSC ships. All went relatively quickly and efficiently. The agent saw my cane and offered to help me up the escalator (and all the way to the ship) with my carry-on so I didn't have to make the long trek back to the elevator. Bonus points from me! First Impressions: The ship was typical RSSC, with a glass of champagne and a cheerful welcome awaiting me. I was directed to the Portofino/grill area where I enjoyed a casual lunch until the "cabins are ready" announcement was made. My first impression was a bit claustrophobic, which I quickly attributed to the low ceilings. Many recognized faces greeted me, which made me quickly feel at home. Stateroom: I was in "magic cabin" 601, a larger than usual cabin at the far front of the ship with an oversized veranda. The entry was wide and opened into a separate seating area. The walk-in closet, abundance of drawers, and bath with separate shower and tub are real cruise pleasers. I asked my stewardess to bring a cushion for the lounger on the veranda, and it shortly arrived. I travel solo on crossings, so am priced out of upper-level suites. This cabin was a real luxury! However, there is always a downside. It is also vulnerable to strong vibration, as well as both up/down and side-to-side movement in rough weather. The first night, the vibration kept me awake (and I have good sea legs). We had one rough night that really kept me rocking. However, I popped on my sea bands and fell fast asleep. In addition, the clanging is pretty loud when coming into port. Unless you are an early riser, buyer beware! Standard cabins, while smaller, are still roomy enough for two to share comfortably. On week two, the bedspreads were replaced with white duvets with red trim in the "hotel" style. The duvets are changed every couple of days, which is a lot of work for the cabin stewardesses. But personally, I liked the look. Dining: All I can say is "wow". I couldn't help but compare to her sister ships, and she was far and above the best of the lot. The current chef is a superstar! Not only an accomplished chef, but personable and approachable as well. She was often seen around the dining rooms and other areas mixing with passengers. Remember the days when women were not hired for the kitchens, she and her pastry chef proved that was mistake. Her star accomplishment: by far, the soups. I don't normally care for soup, but after trying the seafood bisque I found myself looking forward to the day's offerings. Plus she took full advantage of local markets, bringing on local sausages and fish in Barcelona, and fresh oysters in Sete. Variety and presentation were equal to the food! No complaints in this area, and I'm a tough critic. Portofino was wonderful...one tasty dish after another. Even better than Don Vito's (there I go again, comparing). More about the concept later. The pre-dinner wine tasting offered a good opportunity to try different grapes and growing areas. Room service was just so-so, often lukewarm and not particularly good. But with the fantastic lunches and dinners, who had room for breakfast? Most mornings I just slipped down the hall to the Navigator lounge and picked up fruit, juice and a muffin. Afternoon tea was also so-so. Regent should do better than using tea bags and commonplace teas. This is an area where the Diamond shone...oh, how I missed it. And after a few days, you'd think the same waiter would know that I like green tea. Downside, coffee on the ship was truly horrid. Too bitter to drink. Hey, guys, clean the pot! Thank goodness I brought my own coffee press and coffee. After dinner espresso was acceptable, but not wonderful. Service in the dining rooms was inconsistent at best. Although I sat in the same general areas and had the same waiters night after night, nobody remembered that I drink Pellegrino (in fact, I saw one waiter roll his eyes when I requested it)and espresso and port after dinner. In past cruises, these were offered automatically by the 3rd night. Wine service varied widely. Most nights one glass was poured and the wine waiter disappeared. One night the initial bottle was bad, and after a long, long delay the second was no better. (I'm sure the vibration on this ship is hard on the wines and there is no way to overcome that flaw.) A different wine was offered, but we were almost finished with the meal by the time it arrived. There was a general lack of attention to detail. Training, training, training, is needed. Shops: The two shops were small, but relatively well-stocked. Some Radisson items were being phased out, but there was an adequate selection and a wide range of prices. Something for everybody. Only tacky, tacky...art lining the halls and walls. People must buy it or it wouldn't be there...but I can't imagine why. Activities: We were certainly kept busy, even on long port days. Of course, team trivia and other games quickly became very competitive. However, a number of us avoided activities handled by the CD who managed to take the fun out of enjoyable activities. I'm on vacation...don't try to boss me around. Entertainment: This was a Theater at Sea cruise so the level of entertainment was a step above the normal crossing. I did miss a couple of shows because I didn't realize that they were late afternoon, not pre-or-post dinner. But I take full blame for taking a nap instead of reading the schedule more closely. It's just that the rocking of the ship is so relaxing. The speakers were definitely high caliber and widely attended. I enjoyed watching the reruns in the cabin (a definite advantage when satellite-related stations are lost during the crossing and you've watched all the movies). And the "Distinguished Gentlemen" were the best I've ever encountered. Not only were they available to dance and host dance lessons, they made themselves available for dinner every night and participated in other activities to encourage socialization among the single cruisers. Unfortunately, the vibration and noise is most noticeable in the theater. However, even with a full ship, seating was not a problem. The balcony offers the best sightline and acoustics. Portofino has adopted the Don Vito style of cabaret, and staff has blossomed as entertainers in the larger venue. However, what works in a checkered tablecloth group-table concept doesn't necessarily convert to a white tablecloth restaurant. Unfortunately, without the large shared-table concept something is lost. Even when "full" there are always a number of empty place settings. And a single has to hunt for table partners or end up sitting alone. Plus many people expecting a fine Italian concept restaurant find it "too loud". It would make a big difference if they offered at least a few large, shared tables. Downside: To say the least, the cruise director was the weak link. I've sailed with her before and have to admit that I was really disappointed when I saw that she was on the ship. Mimi, the Assistant CD was a charmer as usual. Overall, the small staff appeared constantly stressed out and distracted. Communications: The ship has a small, but nice computer room. They were busy wiring for WiFi during the first leg, so it will soon be in all the cabins. Even now, there is WiFi in all the lounges. Plus most return passengers have free access! Loved it! BUT...RSSC has determined that an adequate dish system for this ship is not a priority. Big mistake! While you always lose satellite for a few days on the crossing, it is usually available again before you reach Funchal. We did not have satellite stations even from Funchal to Monte Carlo. Since they simply repeated the movies the second week, we were left stranded in this area. The only news coverage was FOX, to the displeasure of many passengers. I found myself avoiding the lounges where FOX blared around the clock. Ports and Excursions: No ports the first week, but the second was busy indeed. It's nice to be able to pull into port without the hassle of tendering. Plus RSSC provided complimentary shuttles into town at each port. I only took one tour, to Rabat. There really wasn't much to it, mostly driving to and from Rabat with only two stops. Not even time for shopping (such that it would have been at the government supported store). But the outstanding Moroccan lunch at a luxury hotel made up for all the other lapses. Regent is touting "concierge" level service, but I found the tour desk to be mediocre at best. Answers to questions were perfunctory (and often wrong) and the staff had little practical information about ports. Maybe I expected too much. But don't call it "personalized" if it's not. Service: Unfortunately, this area appears to be slipping, not improving. The change from a 2-person team, to a single stewardess is not a positive move. Although my stewardess was friendly, she had to rate as the worst I've had in over 40 cruises. There was a large hand-print on the dressing area mirror when I arrived, and it was still there when I disembarked. She swept the center of the room, but the floor was definitely not clean. She didn't bring the cushions in from the verandah or even sweep it. On the morning after we went through a bad storm, the cushions were soaked, laying in sandy water, and the soggy lounge cushion was hanging off the rails. But she didn't even notice. I finally complained, and she did improve somewhat...but still lacked professionalism. The first night I heard my first name being called in the hallway. I turned thinking it was someone I knew from previous crossings, but it was my stewardess yelling down the hall. I'm not a snob, but I am not accustomed to being called by my first name. I was too surprised to correct her, and later learned that this is the new "policy". I don't think this is in keeping with the new image, and hope that feedback will cause a rethinking of this training. Let the passenger decide the most comfortable form of address. Discussion has been held on boards about the laundry carts in the hallways. I have to say, this is another service lapse. We're not talking about the neat carts we're all accustomed to. Rather, these are canvas laundry carts with dirty linens sloppily hanging over the edge. Combined with cleaning supplies hung on one side and cleaning rags sloppily hung on the other, they're an unsightly obstacle in the hallways until about 2:00 pm. Plus, the carpet sweeper was perched outside my door 24/7. On the bright side, ship personnel responded quickly to feedback. I do hope this area can be addressed...it must, if Regent is to be considered a luxury cruise. Passengers: As on most crossings, the passengers tend to be "mature" as in "retired". But the smattering of younger couples (and singles) fit right in and appeared to have a great time. The Block Party on sailaway was a huge success and helped strangers mix and become quick friends! Special Circumstances: As on all cruises, unusual circumstances arise. During the crossing a water heater burst on deck six flooding several cabins. Staff quickly stepped into action. For several days mattresses and furniture lined the hallways and huge fans were called into service to dry the rooms. It made for quite an obstacle course, but by Funchal the cabins were ready for the embarking passengers. But the real plus was the mid-Atlantic meeting of the Voyager and the Navigator. The captains met mid-way between the ships in Kodiacs and exchanged "gifts" while the Voyager's CD took an unscheduled opportunity to go water skiing. Passengers watched while toasting with champagne, and crew yelled and waved banners across the water. It was a truly special experience. Disembarkation: What can I say...quick and efficient. How long is it until my next cruise? Let me get my calendar! Read Less
Sail Date April 2006
My only other Radisson cruise was 3 years ago on the 7 Seas Voyager also a sampler cruise from Naples to Nice. So when I heard about this one i had to try it out. It did not start too well as we received no cruise tickets as there was a ... Read More
My only other Radisson cruise was 3 years ago on the 7 Seas Voyager also a sampler cruise from Naples to Nice. So when I heard about this one i had to try it out. It did not start too well as we received no cruise tickets as there was a different way of doing things, not sure if it was because of the takeover by Regent or not. no baggage labels either which was a shame as they are really nice leather ones. TRAVEL TO EMBARKATION. I stayed outside Gatwick the night as my flight on easy jet was very early, this was the 2nd time I had done this. A great idea as you get a continental breakfast and a bus to the airport. I checked in at 0545 for the 0640 flight. I got D which meant i would be last on. We left on time and i had a snack bruchettes and a Diet Coke. After 2 hour flight landed in Ciampino airport, After I collected my luggage, I travelled light this time Ii was so overweight a week ago on the Noordam. I got the bus to Roma Termini station. From here I got a train to Civetavechia which took just over an hour. I have an F.I.P card which I get 50% off as worked for the railway before retiring from it. It only cost 2euros. Then I found a couple who were also going on the ship so we shared a cab. At the port the ship was waiting, looking very nice indeed. As we had no tickets they told us to put a label the luggage with the cabin number on. then take the hand baggage through the x ray and onto the ship. Straight onboard the ship which was a nice change from my last cruise which took over an hour to board! On board we checked in and wrere given our cruise cards. No tickets here either. As the suites were not yet ready we went into the Portofino Grill for a buffet lunch. I had a salad and an entree. I was then told that they were closing at 2.30pm so I had to purchase the dessert quickly. Then I was going on deck to wait when they say the suites are now ready. STATEROOMS. Mine was a penthouse suite on deck 11 at the top apart from the Sun deck. They sound grand, but actually they are the same size as the others the only difference being they have a butler to attend to you. Mine was 1117 midships, a lovely suite it was too. Large bathroom with a full size bath, shower, toilet and sink. A king size bed very comfortable it was, a large sofa much nicer than the one on the Noordam, a not too large tv not a plasma screen as on the Noordam. This means that if you video tape off it the pictures are not still, where they are on a plasma screen. The balcony was quite small with 2 sun lounger chairs and a table. SHIP INFO. The Regent Seven Seas Navigator to give it her full name is 33,000tons not a huge ship very high because of the deck above. she was originally supposed to be a Russian ship but was converted to a cruise ship in Mariotti shipyard in Italy in 1999. I did tour the ship a few years ago and had lunch but I seemed to have lost the video of it. DINING. The main dining room at the rear of the ship was for breakfast, lunch  and dinner. Of these I only used it for dinner, as breakfast I had in my suite and lunch was usually on an excursion or in the Portofino Grill which is a buffet. Complementary wines with dinner was a nice touch. The food in the main restaurant were very good not quite as much choice as the Noordam though. There was an alternative restaurant which there is no charge for. It is quite small though as it has seating for only 90. I made a reservation for the 2nd day on boarding so I was lucky as many were not so lucky. It's called the Portofino at 7pm there is wine tasting outside of different wines plus meats and cheese too. No sitting down so it was a bit difficult queuing it for everything. At 7.30pm I went in the Portofino. I was promised a large table but was given a table just for me which I don't really like as it's a bit quiet being on my own. The dinner here took a lot longer than the other restaurant as there was a lot of music being played which was really good. "Jerry" was so funny and took off a lot of different people and gor everyone to participate. We had an aperitif, 3 small portions of pasta, then an entree of lobster tail and beef but it was quite small. By the time we had finished it was 9.45pm. ACTIVITIES. These were very little as far as i could see, bingo was extortion at 12 dollars per game but still people paid to have a go and the prizes were small i think not like on the Noordam where there was a free cruise to be won. There was a small casino but I did not really take any notice. SERVICE. This was very good mostly in the restaurants as I never bothered in the bars. as drinks in the bars were not free. In the suites was given a bottle of champagne, plus 3 bottles of spirits, plus water, coke and beer in th mini bar. ENTERTAINMENT. I saw 3 shows on this short cruise but there was only 1 group there playing different music. They were very good but it got a bit the same by the last night. I think on longer cruises there is more choice, then. SHORE EXCURSIONS. There were about 3 in each port, not a great deal of choice. I took the walking tour of Napoleon which was all walking and very tiring. The one in Sardinia I took the Nora archeological site which was a good tour with a free drink at the end. DISEMBARKATION. This was again very quick, I did not like the 11pm the night before to put your luggage out, as other lines are after midnight. had to leave the cabin by 8am. On the Noordam could stay in cabin until called. So after paying the bill I went to a bar to wait for my colour to be called. It was only 20 mins or so. Had a bit of trouble getting a taxi to take us to the station as he wanted a big fare but eventually for 9 people to make it worth his while. SUMMERY. O have a few complaints that I wrote most in the comment form. First was they fact that we never got cruise tickets or baggage labels. I really don't think there is any point having a butler. he does not seem to want to unpack or pack for you. Things I asked him to fix he never did or give me an answer either. No balcony light, no personalized stationery. I'm sure the penthouse suites were supposed to have them. When i asked at reception they said it was only for the grand suites but then did some anyway. I registered for the bridge and galley tours. The bridge tour was at 2pm after the excursion to Nora. I rushed through my lunch to get there on time. There were a few others obviously waiting for it too. After 10 mins nobody came. I asked them what was going on, nobody knew. Some had already given up without saying anything. I actually found all English passengers very unfriendly unless you make a point of talking to them. Even when I do the conversations very quickly and I leave in silence. Anyway I decided to go to my room and call reception to find our what had happened. They did not even know there was supposed to be a bridge tour. Finally someone came and took us to the bridge. The 2nd officer was there and did a great job of telling us everything about the ship. Just a shame no pictures or video allowed. The galley tour I also got but I was the only person who turned up. It was interesting to see how everything happens, The young English only seemed to be interested in drinking and swimming in the pool. Other things were the massive vibration in the show lounge when we were going full speed. Things were a lot better on the Noordam and she is not a 6 star ship unlike NAVIGATOR who is suppose to be. I don't really think she was on this occasion. Despite the problems I will give Regent another chance but not on NAVIGATOR but will try the Voyager on the transatlantic in November. Read Less
Sail Date May 2006
Overall, this was an excellent cruise with superb service, friendly staff, great food, and a fabulous itinerary! Here are some more particulars on the ship/onboard activities and then ports/excursions as well: Departure was in Vancouver, ... Read More
Overall, this was an excellent cruise with superb service, friendly staff, great food, and a fabulous itinerary! Here are some more particulars on the ship/onboard activities and then ports/excursions as well: Departure was in Vancouver, a wonderful city. We flew in the night before so we didnt have a lot of time. If you book a hotel independently, I can highly recommend the O Canada House B & B. Friendly, well appointed, good breakfast and a great location. We took advantage of the hop on/off trolley to get an overview of the city and check out Granville Island. We found some great places to eat in the West End just off English Bay (Denham/Denman street). It is very casual with tons of choices. We went for greek in a place that seemed popular with locals  Olympia. It isnt much to look at, but had some good saganaki! Also down the street is a place called Cupcakes (need I say more), dont miss the coconut cupcake with cream cheese frosting. Ship: Rooms were bigger/better than your average cruise (and some big city hotels as well). My last trip was on Seven Seas Voyager, so I did notice the Mariner basic room was smaller than Voyager  but it is still comfortable with plenty of space. The shower was still the tub with a European-style shower head on a tube  a bit inconvenient if you are over about 5ft 7. Lots of closet space for all the stuff you probably will over-pack (I know I did). Food was excellent. We tried dinner everywhere and had great meals in Compass Rose, Signatures, and La Veranda. I think La Veranda was my favorite because it is a little more casual and the antipasti bar is a meal in itself. Signatures was also delicious from the truffle butter to the chocolate bon bons: presentation, service and food all excellent. Compass Rose also had great meals the two nights we ate there. It also seemed to have more of the bigger tables so you could sit with some other fellow passengers. We met all sorts of really interesting, nice people this way. Lattitudes fell short of expectations. The appetizers and dessert were well prepared, but the main dishes were overdone a bit and didnt match the quality of the other locations. We seemed to end up at the pool grill each day (even though it was a bit chilly  they have some blankets poolside:) The Cajun chicken sandwich and blue cheese burger were both good bets. Breakfast in La Veranda was also good with lots of choices. The water refills were a little slow, but that is really the only service issue we ever noticed. This itinerary had all sorts of things to do  too much in fact, it was hard to choose. Our first day was at sea and there were lectures (be sure to catch the onboard anthropologist talk about Alaska  she was great and does commentary up in the observation lounge during the trip as well), cooking demonstrations, wine tasting, art lectures (interesting with a bit of soft sell leading up to the auction), etc. Dont miss the hot chocolate up in the observation lounge! Service  Excellent! That pretty much covers it. Everyone is friendly and seems genuinely welcoming and always ready to chat. They work extremely hard and are always so gracious. Be sure to catch the staff show at the end of the trip  we found this very entertaining and was a big hit with the audience! Other entertainment was fine  some talented individuals (particularly the musicians at various venues) but the production numbers are a bit cheesy  better than your average cruise, but not quite ready for Broadway/West End. Disembarkation was a bit of a hassle. They got us off the ship first thing (all very efficient and friendly  no problem there). Then the transfer service dropped us at the airport so early that we couldnt even check luggage for an hour and a half - very frustrating and a disappointing way to end the cruise. It would have been nice to have been able to catch a later transfer or to have had the option to add on some kind of 2 hour trip around Anchorage or at least an arrangement with the airport to let us check-in early so we can arrange our own trip into town. Alaska itinerary: Every port has sooooo many good options for things to do! General Tips: Bring binoculars (its the only way to get a close up view of a lot of the wildlife you will see, and glaciers as well). A close fitting hat (baseball hats will blow away in the wind) and coat  it was very chilly near the glaciers and up on deck when the ship was moving. Bring layers  a waterproof overcoat and a fleece pullover are good bets. Also  if the naturalist or the schedule mentions that the ship is passing a point of interest  get up to the observation lounge early! It fills up quickly. You should probably also bring your coat  it is usually easier to get a good view on the upper deck. This is particularly true for the Hubbard Glacier day. Always keep that camera handy as well. Ketchikan was our first stop and perhaps my favorite. There is a town walking tour/map available in the tourist office. We spent our morning wandering through shops  Creek Street is very cute and worth a walk around (you will see 75% of these shops again, in every port). We also walked up to the totem pole center and the salmon hatchery/eagle center. They have two injured eagles that they care for  its a great chance for a close up look, but believe me you will LOTS of eagles around each port. In the afternoon we booked a floatplane out to Misty Fjords. It was absolutely stunning and the floatplane was great to ride in. They do bounce a bit from time to time, but not badly and the scenery up there is amazing. They landing is so gentle and it was fun to get out and stand on the float. There are lots of vendors in the visitor info center if you dont want to book through the cruise ship. We booked through Regent since the return time was pretty close to the time we were supposed to be onboard. (I hear the zip line excursion was great as well, no time to try it though) Tracy Arm  this is a beautiful area. If you can sign up for the ship excursion that picks you up right on the ship, do it! The catamaran is a good size and a smooth ride. They have both indoor and outdoor viewing areas with plenty of room to move around. There are also enough snacks to last about 2 days! We got closer to the glaciers than the Mariner could, even though there was lots of ice so we didnt get too close. We could see both Sawyer and South Sawyer glaciers and lots of seals out on the icebergs. We also got a good look at the bear  the captain was great about stopping to check out points of interest and wildlife. We also saw some sea lions and a whale on the way up to Juneau. The crew was great, with some fabulous live commentary! The catamaran lets you off right on the ship and you should have time for an afternoon excursion as well (as long as it is after 1:45). I didnt see a lot of Juneau  went right out for a helicopter ride to Mendenhall Glacier. I booked independently (although it was the same one the ship offered). The helicopter wasnt as interesting to me as the floatplane. They really cram you in, so it is hard to get a good view if you are in the middle seat. It is also a really quick ride (the basic version  other versions may have been more interesting). It was really cool (literally and figuratively) to get out on the glacier, even if only for 15 minutes. I still had time on return to head up the Mt Roberts Tramway. This is a little pricey, but there are some hiking trails and amazing scenery up there. Also another place where they have an injured eagle out for visitors to get a closer look at. Skagway was a cute town. It wont take long to explore but there are some great restored buildings and the usual bunch of shops. The White Pass train ride was pretty cool  more interesting than I thought a 3 hour train ride would be actually. We saw 2 more bears really close up and got a very distant view of one of the mountain goats. Lots of snow still early in the season which made for stunning views. Sitka is another great town to explore. I enjoyed our walk around town and the tour at the Bishops House. It feels more like a place that people live than some other stops. While there are plenty of shops, they arent all the same touristy jewelry shops you see in every other port. You definitely notice the Russian influence here. The afternoon Sea Otter and Wildlife Quest was great as well. We went in the afternoon so they brought us directly back on board the ship right on schedule. We saw lots of sea otters, sea lions and eagles. We also saw a couple of whales. Read Less
Sail Date May 2006
June 27, 2006 we flew Delta from Atlanta to Salt Lake City and then changed planes and arrived right on time in Anchorage. The view of the snow-capped mountains from the plane, right before we landed, was breathtaking. I got a great shot ... Read More
June 27, 2006 we flew Delta from Atlanta to Salt Lake City and then changed planes and arrived right on time in Anchorage. The view of the snow-capped mountains from the plane, right before we landed, was breathtaking. I got a great shot from my seat and the man sitting next to me took my camera and got a close up of a glacier emptying in to the ocean! The day was quite warm for Alaska standards in the low 60s and very sunny. Our ride to the Anchorage Hilton was a short 10 minutes and we checked in and went up to our room...nothing like the suite on the Mariner, yet very clean and lovely views out our two large windows. Anchorage is very nice; lots of lovely flowers in hanging baskets along the streets, pretty parks, magnificent views and many shops/restaurants. We walked around for a few hours window shopping and then stopped at a restaurant/micro brewery for a bite to eat and a drink. We made our way back to the room and turned in for the night. June 28 we awoke to another sunny day and walked up to a small cafe for some breakfast of sourdough pancakes and hot chocolate for me while T had the standard eggs and bacon. It seemed like noon would not get here fast enough we were so anxious to head to the train station and start our real journey to the Mariner. We arrived at the train station right about noon. It was only a few minutes walk from our hotel and they took our luggage for us, so we enjoyed the stroll there. We went to the Regent podium and presented our train voucher. They gave us our tickets and said in about 30 minutes we would be able to check in and receive our room keys, so once we arrived at the ship we would be able to proceed to our suite. At 12:30 we went to the check in desk; presented our cruise voucher and passports. We were given our room key and our pictures were taken for security measures. We then were asked if we signed up for tours and they verified we were approved for what we had signed up for and said our tickets would be in our suite. The train ride to the ship was great & we spotted some sheep high up on a cliff, several bald eagles flying along the way and even a Mother Moose with her baby (the train stopped for all to watch the moose for a few minutes). We shared our table with a lovely couple from Canada who are frequent Regent cruisers. The weather was beautiful; sunny and high 50s so we were quite comfortable as the sun coming through the window on the train made it nice and warm to sit without our jackets on. A champagne toast and soft drinks were complimentary, plus you could order beer or wine for a small charge. We ordered a turkey bagel to share for a light lunch and then afterwards they came around with HUGE cookies for dessert! As the Mariner came in to view it was a very long-awaited moment&to see her at the dock waiting for us to embark. The majestic snow-capped mountains behind her and the sparkling dark blue water beneath her&truly a Kodak moment! The terminal in Whittier is quite sparse and not much to look at. We stood in line maybe 10 minutes waiting for our turn at the x-ray screening, we did the fun embarkation photo op and then walked up the gangplank and we were on the Mariner!!!! The ship is beautiful, in a very simple way (we much prefer this over the glitz and glitter you find on the mega ships) and our suite is gorgeous! We have lots of room to move around, the balcony is wonderful with such amazing views. Our bed is very comfortable, the bathroom is spacious with lots of storage space  only drawback is the high step in and out of the tub, but we manage it ok. I guess once we are older the shower would be our best choice, but I do like a tub to soak in. We watched the sail away from our balcony with champagne and pate to enjoy while the sights of Whittier faded in to the distance. We made our way around the ship for a quick get acquainted tour and ended up in the Observation Lounge for a drink and then back to our suite. Rao our butler is very nice and was ready to accommodate us in any way he could. The liquor and drink requests were just as we ordered. Silvia is our stewardess and she is from Austria  very friendly and a lovely person to chat with. We ordered room service dinner around 9 p.m. as we were just too tired to dress up for dinner; we shared a shrimp cocktail, we each had a cup of sweet potato soup, Hubby had the grilled salmon and I had spaghetti with meatballs. For dessert T had chocolate mousse and I had a wonderful rhubarb cake with cinnamon vanilla sauce. We were so shocked at how fast the meal arrived and Rao said he could go back and make us wait longer if we felt the service was too quick! Our meal was very delicious and we had more than enough to eat. Sleep came easily to us as the slight rocking of the ship seems to put you in a wonderful mode for a good night's rest. June 29 we woke about 7:30 a.m. to a day at sea and glacier viewing this afternoon. We had breakfast in La Verandah and the choices from the buffet were very good. Lots of fresh fruit and many juices to choose from to drink (we both had fresh squeezed OJ). After breakfast we returned to our suite to check the activities and Silvia had all ready been in to make the bed and clean the room!! We sat in on the morning tour and ports of call talk. We were going to stay for the first Terry Breen lecture, but I was a bit tired so we came back to the room as I didnt want to fall asleep during her talk and someone think I was bored! Terry will narrate the glacier cruise this afternoon and we will be all ears listening as we are on our balcony. Lunch was a grilled fish day with five types of fish to choose from: salmon, snapper, mahi mahi, rock fish and the last one slips my memory right now. We hurried to eat as we were approaching Hubbard Glacier and were anxious to get up on deck 12 to have the best view. We were able to come within 1.5 miles of the glacier which Terry Breen said was very close compared to the past cruises this year. She also said due to a bit of cloud cover and not much sun we were very lucky as this makes the blue color in the glaciers stand out more. At first there was not much activity, but the last hour it was pretty much one chunk after another calving into the ocean. The sound of it starting is like that of an approaching thunder storm or a jet plane soaring over your head. The sight of it is beyond what words can describe!!! Terry said on a scale of 1 to 10 our day of seeing activity is rated a 15!!!! She said in all her years of being here this was one of the best days (we feel so very fortunate to have witnessed such a spectacular sight). The narrative by Terry and a local Tlingit (pronounced Klinkit) family who came on board was very enlightening and so educational. The family later dressed in their native attire which only further enhanced the amazing afternoon we were a part of. As we left Hubbard Glacier we went back to our suite and sat on the balcony enjoying the spectacular views and were treated to even a bit more calving before the ship left the area. Our captain gave us a treat and sailed close to the shoreline in hopes of spotting some bear, but no luck today! We wore our winter jackets out on the Observation Deck along with gloves and hats as it was VERY windy and cold! Terry Breen explained where we were sailing it was 200 feet deep under the hull of the ship, yet you could just about toss a stone to the shore we were so close! We met a couple we had found on Cruise Critic in the Observation Lounge for a before dinner cocktail. J and R are from the north east area and we really enjoyed chatting with them and hearing about their pre-cruise trip. Dinner was at 7:30 in Signatures. The food was very delicious; we both had a crab appetizer, I had mushroom soup and hubby had chicken consomme with a lovely pastry crust over the top, the sorbet was a cinnamon apple with thyme, hubby chose salmon for the main course and I had beef tournadoes. For dessert I had a wonderful Tahitian vanilla crème brulee that was to die for and T had a warm chocolate tart  plus, we were treated to the wonderful truffles! We were so full they wrapped our truffles in foil to take back to our suite. Once again sleep came quite easily and we awoke to the ship being docked just outside Sitka. June 30 we had breakfast in Compass Rose, donned our warm clothes and hopped on the tender. A quick 10 minutes ride and we were there! The temp today was 56 and it was dark and overcast all day, yet never rained! We wore jeans, warm hiking boots, long sleeve shirts along with our winter jackets and hats&we stayed quite warm and at times you didnt need to have your jacket zipped. What a lovely and quaint little town Sitka is! We hiked to the Raptor Center and were truly amazed at the work they do here rehabilitating injured eagles, owls and falcons. The eagles were truly an amazing sight to our eyes. After a wonderful guided tour we sat for the short video and then were treated to one of the handlers bringing in one of the two eagles that tour the U.S. schools so children have a chance to see how magnificent these creatures are. We walked back down to the main part of town; stopped in a few stores (some LOVELY furs can be found here) and then caught the tender back to the Mariner for lunch and a bit of resting. I took a nap in the afternoon and woke to the butler bringing our late afternoon snack. Today we had two types of wraps with a wonderful salsa. Sailing away from Sitka Terry came on and gave us a wonderful narrative about Sitka and the area as well as what to expect tomorrow morning at Tracy Arm. Just as she was about to sign off she spotted a humpback whale on the portside (our side of the ship) so out to the balcony we went with binoculars and camera in hand. The whale was quite a distance from the ship, but we did get closer to it until you could clearly see it blowing the water out of his hole and waving his tail at us many times! What a thrill and we only wished we were closer as it was hard to get pictures. At one point there were two whales taking turns waving at us with their tails and a whale was also spotted on the starboard side, so we were very fortunate today! According to Terry tomorrow morning, July 1st, at 5:30 a.m. we will be near an area where a pod of whales are normally spotted, so we have a 5 a.m. wake up call set. Then we will enter Tracy Arm about 7 and sail in there for just over 2 hours and head out around 9:30 a.m. Dinner this evening was in Latitudes and it was wonderful!!! We were warmly welcomed by the wait staff and seated at a lovely table for two near a window. The meal is served family style so you dont have to choose from the menu - you are given some of each choice. My favorite was the galangal chicken thigh and Ts was the lobster in curry. So far we have yet to make it to any evening activity after dinner  we are always ready to return to our suite for a drink and then turn in for the night looking forward to the next day. We are both just in awe of the beauty we see each and every day!!! Today is July 1 and we were up EARLY with a 5 a.m. wake-up call. After contemplating whether or not to get up we got up, dressed and were sitting in the Observation Lounge by 6 a.m. to whale watch. Shortly after arriving we did spot one whale off in the distance, but that was all we were able to see. Right around 7 a.m. Terry came on bidding us a good morning and welcoming us to the entrance of Tracy Arm. At one point the rocks went up 2,000 feet and then another 1,000 feet below the water level! To get things in to perspective we were looking at a small fishing boat off to the portside and not far from the fishing boat and our ship was an iceberg floating in the water  the iceberg appeared quite small, yet when you looked at the fishing boat you realized the berg was a good 10 feet across!! After our early morning view of Tracy Arm we attended a presentation on the 2007 cruise season by Cruise Consultant Lynn Madsen. Not many folks in attendance and those who were there were treated to a Mimosa! We found her talk quite worthwhile as we are not real familiar with Regent and she talked about each ship as well as the areas they sail to. We sailed in to Juneau right after lunch with an escort from the Coast Guard and a couple of bald eagles! It was nice to just walk off the ship and not have to tender. Not complaining about the tender ride in Sitka as it only took a short 10 minutes to get back to the ship. We didnt have anything planned and just walked up and down the street browsing in shops. We purchased some canned salmon from Taku Seafood company and then headed to the Red Dog Saloon for a drink  quite a neat experience to be in there as the place was very lively with a man playing tunes on an old piano and to look at all the junk hanging everywhere was a lot of fun. Lots of stuffed animals on the walls and you could imagine being back in the gold rush days sitting there having a drink talking about how many nuggets you found or what you caught that day or about the big one that got away from you on the daily hunting trip. The weather was quite nice; low 60s and we walked around with our jackets open and were very comfortable. Everyone tells us we are having great weather as the cruises before ours have encountered many days of rain and low clouds. After a few hours of shopping we headed back to the ship to just relax and take a nap so we are ready for the big Alaskan Pub Night tonight in Horizons Lounge! Weve been invited to a galley tour tomorrow late afternoon and we also received a dinner invitation for July 3 from Cruise Director John Barron and his lovely wife, Lynsay, the Social Hostess in Compass Rose. Late afternoon Rao brought us a raw veggie and dip tray that was quite nice as our before dinner treat. We chose to dine at Compass Rose and we both did the Tasting Menu of crab cake, chowder, black bean and papaya salad, pear sorbet and Alaskan Rock Fish (very delicious) with chocolate vanilla frozen yogurt for dessert along with the wonderful tray of homemade candies. After dinner we made our way to the Horizons Lounge for Alaskan Pub Night. They did a great job decorating and the entertainment was very good with a nice mix of songs from country to Jazz and in-between. July 2 we arrived in Skagway early morning and were up and off the ship before 8 a.m. for our White Pass and Yukon Route train ride. We chose to do the train ride with the home baked goodies option and were in a car that was not full so we had lots of room. We chose the front seat for more leg room and on the return trip down the mountain we didnt have to switch seats with anyone as right across from us was the goodie tray (you normally switch sides on the return trip so everyone on the train is able to see everything). T and I both were overwhelmed at the amount of work it must have taken to build the White Pass and reflected on how many must have given their lives in order for us to ride the rails. I was apprehensive about doing the train ride due to going up so high, but my fears were all for nothing as it was truly a splendid ride! The weather could not have been better as it was sunny and warm (77 degrees by the time we got back to the ship early afternoon). Downtown Skagway is very cute and my favorite town so far. It looks like what it must have been like in the Gold Rush days and the shops are very quaint. After walking around downtown we made our way back to the Red Onion Saloon for a beer (Alaskan Summer Ale for hubby and root beer for me). We headed back towards the ship with a stop at the Skagway Fish Company and shared some halibut and fries for lunch. At 5 p.m. we went on the Galley tour with the Executive Chef  how enlightening to see where all the work takes place to prepare the many meals that are served each and every day. We were taken inside the cooler for the vegetables, the meat and fish freezers, the area where they bake the breads, the main kitchen area and the pastry area. Any and all questions were answered and we were treated to a glass of champagne after the tour was over. I was very impressed with how clean and orderly everything is! We attended a non-denominational church service held in the conference room at 6 p.m. John Barron, the Cruise Director, lead the short 15 minute service for 5 of us in attendance. It was always a fun surprise to return to our suite and find mail on the door clip waiting for us! Terry Breen was giving a sail away commentary on the surrounding area (we missed a good part of it due to the galley tour and church service) and only caught the last few minutes. She told us how the many light houses in Alaska are no longer manned by people and many have been sold to use as a Bed & Breakfast or as a private home. The one we sailed past today was very beautiful and given to the Boy Scouts by the state to enjoy and use for educational purposes. We ordered room service for dinner. It is so nice to stay in our suite and enjoy the spectacular views while dining as you miss so much of the scenery when you go to the restaurants! I had French Onion soup, beef tenderloin medallions with green peppercorn sauce and a baked potato. T had chicken consomme, pan fried salmon and baked potato. For dessert T had the chocolate mousse and I had crème brulee. Everything was very good!!! After another great nights sleep we were surprised when our doorbell rang and here was Rao with our morning coffee, juice and pastries! I could not believe it was already past 8 a.m. and we were still asleep. I think we need to move on to the ship because this is the best we both have slept in years! After our continental breakfast we made our way up to the Observation Lounge to listen to Terry talking about our sailing in to Ketchikan. I love all her little stories she tells that she has picked up along the way over her many trips. She REALLY makes the sailing even greater (if that is possible)! July 3 we arrived in Ketchikan a little early and were given the go ahead to tender over as soon as we could as the early afternoon tours would be waiting for us. We met our tour person and waited for the rest of the folks to arrive on the next few tenders. A gal drove us the short few minutes to the dock to our flight plane and we were off! Our plane is a Beaver Dehaviland that fit 6 passengers along with our pilot, Shannon. The weather is gorgeous in the 70s; clear as can be and the sun is shining (which we were told is quite a treat because Ketchikan gets over 13 feet of rain per year)! We flew for about 20 minutes over mountain tops looking for sheep, but never did spot any and then made our way to George Inlet Lodge. Our landing on the water was smooth and we made our way off the plane to meet our guide Brett. He gave us a brief background about the lodge and the crab traps and then invited us up to the lodge to our feast of Dungeness crab!!! Linda our hostess was waiting for us in the dining room that was beautifully decorated and we sat down. We had smoked salmon appetizers and a salad of crisp lettuce and mandarin oranges with a light dressing. Then, she brought out our plates of crab!!! She gave us a brief demonstration on how to break the crab leg apart and use part of the claw to get all the meat out of the claws. She kept coming around refilling our melted butter pots and then came out with another leg for each of us! Talk about being stuffed&I gave T the last few parts of my leg as I was waiting for dessert  cheesecake with Alaskan blueberries! What a meal&so delicious and all the while Brett was telling us stories as we all asked him questions and learned more about this beautiful place we were at today. After a short stop in the gift shop we were on the plane and youd never know we were up in the air as the take off was so smooth. Our return was a fast ride of about 5 minutes and we could see the Mariner in all her glory. We hopped the van ride back to the dock and did a bit of shopping before catching the tender back to the ship. I did most of my souvenir shopping in one store right across the street from the cruise ship dock and the prices were very reasonable Upon returning to the ship Rao came to the door with our late afternoon snack. I was about to tell him he would not be able to top what we ate at the lodge and to my surprise he had a plate of crab legs for us! Along with the crab legs he presented us with a cute little chocolate mousse dessert cake for our anniversary. We were told today that most cruise ship passengers gain on average 10 pounds -- well I must have gained enough for the whole ship! Hubby is having the time of his life sitting on the balcony spotting eagles flying around Ketchikan (he loves eagles). For anyone who sails to Alaska on a cruise line that has no balcony I feel sorry for that person as they miss so much. We thoroughly enjoy our balcony at all times day and night no matter if it is cold and windy or warm and sunny. Dinner July 3 was in Compass Rose. We were invited to dinner by John Barron the Cruise Director and his beautiful wife, Lynsay, who is the Cruise Hostess. Along with them was another couple from Michigan who have just over 80 nights of cruising with Regent. The evening chat was on many various topics mostly related to cruising and how John & Lynsay got involved in their jobs and our backgrounds. It was very lovely and we truly enjoyed spending the evening with them as well as the Michigan couple. We all ordered the Roast Turkey and dressing  simply delicious! We ordered dessert and then appearing at our table was the Food & Beverage manager with an anniversary cake for T and me. He lit the candles and they sang Happy Anniversary to us. Our waiter than sang Let me call you Sweetheart to the two of us (it brought tears to my eyes). After dinner we returned to our suite as we were both so full and quite tired. We had a note from our stewardess to turn the clocks ahead one hour for the time change. July 4th we woke to a cloudy day of about 56. We went to the All American Breakfast in La Verandah and then headed back to do the dreaded deed of packing! Grrrrrrr Lunch was a wonderful BBQ on the pool deck, but a bit on the chilly side. They were grilling steaks, burgers of beef or turkey, Cajun chicken and ribs. Many side dishes of corn on the cob, baked potatoes, onion rings, many salads just to name a few things. For dessert you could make a sundae or a giant waffle cone as well as cookies and other goodies. Cruise director John sat with us and then later Lynsay joined us. We really enjoy the two of them and will miss them when the cruise is over. After lunch we watched dolphins playing and swimming along side the ship for quite some time. We started watching them on the pool deck and then decided to head up to the Observation deck to get shots out in the open. At 3 p.m. there was a wonderful production that was a tribute to the Beatles that we thoroughly enjoyed. We are not much for catching a show or anything else after dinner as we are mostly too tired, so we were happy they had an afternoon performance today. For those of us who are chocoholics you wanted to be in the Horizons Lounge at 4 p.m.! There was chocolate (white, milk and dark) of anything you can imagine. A white and milk chocolate fountain for fruit was my favorite spot for pineapple, melon and strawberries in white chocolate! It seems as if all we do is EAT EAT EAT!!!! I feel guilty eating so much, but the guilt only lasts a few minutes and then I am ready to eat again! Heading back to our suite we noticed a couple of whales blowing just off the port side, but they never did surface for me to get a picture. From our suite we enjoyed more spectacular scenery while listening to Terry Breen from the bridge for the last time. We have enjoyed listening to her and always looked forward to the next time. At 6:15 we went to the Captains Farewell party and Krew Kapers in the Constellation Theatre. What a wonderful show put on by the workers who besides doing their regular job also practice singing and dancing to entertain all of us onboard for this last day. It was truly a heart-warming time to see these folks pouring their hearts out singing and dancing and you are thinking where do they find time out of their normal long day to also do this! We will order room service for dinner and enjoy every last minute of the cruise from our suites balcony. After eating so much today we ordered light room service of a hot dog, pizza and dessert. We enjoyed our sail in to Canada. There is no snow and everything is so nice and green (it was in Alaska, too). We noticed a few whales blowing just off the port side and there were fish jumping out of the water at times. The lights from the homes on shore were so pretty once darkness arrived. If I havent said it before in this review this has been one of the highlights in our lives. We are truly blessed to be able to travel to many wonderful places, but this cruise ranks as one of, if not, the highest on our vacations. We have been treated to excellent service in every aspect, the food has been nothing less than truly delicious, the weather (thank the Lord) was excellent every day. July 5 we were still sleeping when our butler rang the doorbell with room service breakfast for the last time. I guess in a way I was hoping hed forget about us and wed just take the next cruise back up to Whittier, but no such luck! ;> We made our way to deck 6 and sat in the Stars Lounge until our color was called. Disembarking was smooth and quite easy compared to our other mass-market cruise. Finding our luggage took all of two minutes and the line for taxis was the longest time we had to wait in a line all this week. Our ride to the Hilton in Richmond (very close to the airport) took quite some time and the fare was $30. There are some very pretty homes in Vancouver and many homes have tall hedges that do block most of the view. The Hilton was kind enough to give us our room a little past 10 a.m. and I was so happy about that! We walked around the area some, but there isnt a whole lot -- car lots, two malls and many other shops (i.e. beauty salon, travel agencies, banks - nothing touristy). Since we didnt eat much for breakfast in the ship we found a local restaurant that was still serving breakfast at 11 which was very good. We walked to one of the malls just after 5 p.m. and had a bite to eat in the food court as we were not very hungry, but wanted a little something. Our last day July 6 we had an 8 a.m. wake up call and headed to the hotel restaurant for juice and pastries. We gathered our luggage and hopped on the hotel shuttle bus to the airport. It took us about a total of 30 minutes from checking in at the Delta counter to going through Customs and Immigration and the security check before heading to our gate. We did a bit of last minute shopping and our plane boarded just before 11:30 a.m. The flight was a bit bumpy at times, yet nothing very disturbing. We made great time and were in the Atlanta area about 30 minutes ahead of schedule and then had to circle for 45 minutes due to a storm right over the airport. By the time we landed and got our luggage it was 8:30 and we were on the road walking in to our house at 10 p.m. *** Regent Seven Seas Mariner holds 700 passengers and there were 540 on our sailing. You never waited in line for anything which is so nice compared to when you sail on the larger ships and you wait in long lines for certain things. Our suite was wonderful! We were in a Penthouse category B level. The suite itself is 376 sq. ft. and the balcony 73 sq. ft. We did have a butler but we did not book this category for the butler, we booked it for the suite location port side on Deck 10. Upon entering to the right was the bathroom; sink with marble counter, lots of storage space underneath, mirrors with storage space on the sides as well as Aveda products, tub/shower combination with great water pressure. Directly across from the bathroom was a walk in closet that had three racks for hanging clothes, a shoe rack, two beach towels, a wool blanket, an umbrella, two robes and two pair of slippers, a safe, two "cubby holes" for storage and underneath the safe you found 4 or 5 drawers. Our bed was queen sized and our suite had the new bedding and mattress (much different from what the brochure shows as this is the old bedding and the lower categories still had this decor). A thick white duvet with a lovely moss green and grey coverlet, we each had 3 down pillows (by request) and on each side of the bed was a small 2 drawer night stand and a reading light as well as several over head lights. Directly across from the bed was a large floor to ceiling mirror with a comfy arm chair and ottoman and to the left of that was a nice vanity area with stool, make up mirror and a larger mirror attached to the vanity. A blow dryer was in one of the drawers. The bedroom area could be totally curtained off from the living room area if you wanted it like that. In the living room we had a lovely sort of L shaped sofa with three throw pillows and a small cocktail table. Under the sofa was a larger wooden table top that was used when we would dine in the room. Next to the sofa was another arm chair with ottoman. Right across from the sofa was a large wall unit with glass shelves all across the top that held several different types of glasses i.e. high ball, water, pilsner and so forth as well as the two bottles of liquor we were given (we also had a bottle of chilled champagne in our suite upon embarkation). Below the glass shelves you found a TV, desk area with an IPod and speakers as well as a dish of fresh fruit and a vase that held fresh orchids. On one end there were drawers for clothes and the end near the balcony held the mini fridge that was stocked with four beer (if you wanted more you had to pay for the beer), the soda types we requested as well as bottled water and an ice bucket. We had floor to ceiling windows on each end and in the middle you found sliding glass doors to lead you out to the balcony. The balcony had two wooden arm chairs with nice cushions and a small wooden table. A sheer set of curtains along with a very heavy room darkening drapery covered all the windows/sliding door. The only thing on our deck was suites and the bridge. We never heard noise from the suites on either side, but at times we did hear some dragging noises from above as the pool deck was above us and you could hear them moving things, but it never woke us or bothered us. Deck Five you found Compass Rose Restaurant for casual dining off a menu for all 3 meals and no reservations. Latitudes Restaurant which was reservation only for dinner and they served family style Indochinese type food. Mariner Lounge, Tour and Cruise Sales office, Reception and Concierge as well as the lower level of the Constellation Theater. Deck Six held Horizons Lounge, Signatures Restaurant reservation only for dinner and it was the Le Cordon Bleu menu, Connoisseur Club (cigar and cognac), Card and Conference Room (which doubled as a chapel on Sunday evening for the service we attended), The Garden Promenade where they had a coffee, cappuccino, espresso, hot chocolate machine as well as fresh pastries in the morning and several varieties of cookies in the afternoon and evening. You also went to the library, computer area and DVD rental area on Deck Six. STARS nightclub/disco was here and the upper level of the Constellation Theater. Deck Seven was suites and then the casino, boutiques, Photo Shop, Beauty Salon, Carita Spa, gym and aerobics room. Decks Eight, Nine and Ten were all suites (plus you found a laundry room on each deck of these 3 floors). Deck Eleven was La Veranda Restaurant for buffet breakfast and lunch and at dinner time it was an Italian Steakhouse or whatever theme they decided for the evening, pool and 3 hot tubs, pool bar and grill. I think the pool was heated as a few days we did see some people in the pool. There were many tables/chairs as well as lounge chairs to sit on so you never had to worry about finding a seat and they had beach towels as well as warm blankets available. Deck 12 is the Observation Lounge, jogging track, golf nets, shuffleboard and paddle tennis. As I stated in my trip review the ship is not glitzy and glamorous by any means, yet very beautiful and elegant. You felt very comfortable and at home...not like you were in Las Vegas with flashing lights and bright neon colors everywhere (this is how I felt on one of the mega ships). Our stewardess, Silvia, did a marvelous job of cleaning our room and we never had to wait...we'd return from breakfast and it would be made up! In the early evening she'd come by for turn-down service and leave us our copy of PASSAGES telling us what to expect the next day as well as a mint with some type of verse or thought on each night stand. Rao our butler was very attentive, yet not the type who you felt was there and would never leave. He was very polite, yet friendly and was happy to make reservations or answer our questions. I am not sure how many other suites he serviced, but we never had to wait for him when we'd call...as soon as I'd hang up the phone from paging him he would be returning our call. Each afternoon at 5 p.m. he would ring our doorbell and have a great plate of something different each day for us to enjoy before dinner with a cocktail. I can recall somethings that we had; shrimp cocktail, wraps with salsa, cold crab legs, cheese & crackers (2 days), raw vegetables and dip, pate and cocktail rolls. As far as the rest of the staff you were always warmly greeted by anyone from the caption whom we saw many times enjoying visiting with guests to the person who was polishing the brass on the stairwell. We asked the Cruise Director and his wife the Social Hostess why they chose to invite us to dinner one evening since this was our first Regent cruise and many others on board were many time repeat guests. Their reply was they enjoyed inviting new guests because they wanted to make us feel at home and they also knew it was our anniversary (we felt quite honored and this REALLY impressed me...you won't find this type of thinking in many places...they mostly invite the many time guests vs. a first time). Service at the bars/restaurants was nothing less than the best! You never had to ask for a drink because you were approached right after being seated, refills on water or coffee was no wait, a wine sommelier (sp) was in each restaurant serving you choice wines at dinner, you were escorted to your table and your name was remembered by many staff members, the room service menu was quite extensive and if you didn't care for that you could always order from the Compass Rose menu for dinner in your room, too. You were given a breakfast room service order form each evening to fill out if you wanted to and the order was always on time and the food was hot! Each day the pastry kitchen made hand dipped truffles for after-dinner treats in Signatures and home made cookies/candies for Compass Rose and Latitudes, plus you were given the dessert menu as well to order from. As far as this cruise line and the cost goes - in my opinion you get what you pay for. Yes, you can cruise to Alaska or most any other place for that matter for much less, but you also have long lines to deal with (several days when we were not the only ship in a port you'd see HUNDREDS of people lined up waiting to get on or off the ship while all we had to do was walk off and back on with no lines which in very cold/rainy or very hot weather could be quite uncomfortable as the lines did not move very fast, more noise, so-so food choices and quality, lower quality shore excursion choices, with Regent you receive two bottles of liquor in your suite (of your choice that are top shelf brand), the mini fridge with soda/water which was replenished daily and 4 beers (starting 1/1/2007 all drinks with liquor are included), free soda 24/7, bottles of water are there when you go on shore at each port (yes with the mega ships you do pay for bottled water if you want it as well as soda) cocktails of your choice while at your dinner table, more space in your suite (yes each "room" is a suite with a balcony there are no inside rooms), no tipping (not one employee ever made us feel like they were being nice in hopes of getting a tip because you are free to tip if you want to when someone goes over and above in your opinion)!!! this is also included and so much more that I fail to recall at this time. We have done a mass market mega ship, so we do speak from experience - not just hearsay. ;) Read Less
Sail Date June 2006
My husband and I have sailed with Regent (formerly Radisson) twice before - Alaska 04, and the Panama Canal 05, both on the Mariner. The Baltic cruise in June 06 was our first one on the Voyager. I have seen lots of postings on the boards ... Read More
My husband and I have sailed with Regent (formerly Radisson) twice before - Alaska 04, and the Panama Canal 05, both on the Mariner. The Baltic cruise in June 06 was our first one on the Voyager. I have seen lots of postings on the boards asking for comparisons between the two. Quite honestly, I think they are clones! The same wonderful suites, excellent service and superb food. I think the only negative about the Voyager versus the Mariner is that there is indeed vibration aft! But we were forward and heard and felt nothing. We boarded in Dover. We live in Switzerland and travelled to London three days before, staying at the Milestone Hotel in Kensington. This is a wonderful hotel and its standards mesh well with those of RSSC. We hired a car on the Sunday and drove to Kent where we visited some lovely gardens and stayed in a terrific B&B (The Olde Moat House). I dropped my husband and the suitcases at the Cruise Terminal in Dover and returned the car to Hertz (not such great service, at least at the Dover end. There is no shuttle to the Cruise Terminal and the woman was most unhelpful! Fortunately, I know Dover and was able to walk to the station and get a taxi there!!) Our luggage was taken from us and we were ushered to a large waiting area, with comfortable seats. After about a 15 minute wait - they were dealing with passengers in small groups - we went through security and boarded the Voyager. Check in was in the Constellation Theatre, and the customary glass of sparkling wine (note: NOT champagne!) was nice. We were told that our suite would be ready about 3pm. We had a light snack at the Pool Grill while we were waiting (having had an excellent breakfast at the B&B we didn't need more, but lunch was available in La Veranda). At 2.30pm we were told the suite was ready and went there. Two of our suitcases were already there and the others arrived within a few minutes. Our suite was lovely - a bit smaller than the Penthouse on the Mariner, but with a bigger bathroom (shower and bath) and huge closet. Enough hangers for even me!! One could almost have used it as a dressing room. We ate in the Compass Rose on the first night and were delighted to find that the choice was every bit as good as on the Mariner. Our first port was Amsterdam. We docked at Ijmuiden which is around 40 minutes by bus and fast ferry from the Central Station in Amsterdam. I had planned to take the bus and ferry into town. We have been there often and all we really wanted to do was have Rijstafel for lunch(!). However to my delight there was a shuttle bus service organised for us, free of charge. It took about 45 minutes to get into town and we were dropped at a convenient point, near the canal boat-bus stop. After lunch we went back to get the bus, but there was a delay and we ended up having to wait while the driver finished his lunch break. Some people were upset by this but I figured that the shuttle was an unexpected bonus so I just sat down to wait in the sunshine! That night was our first formal night. There seemed to have been a bit of a hiccup with this -- on the web site the next day was listed as formal. I had made reservations at Signatures for this night, and so we were a bit disappointed not to eat there on the formal night. There was the traditional captain's reception where we met the Captain for the first and only time during the cruise. I must say I found this strange. On both the Alaskan and Panama cruises the captains were very much in evidence, walking around the ship, greeting guests etc. We felt that our captain in Panama really cared about his passengers. However the Norwegian captain on the Voyager seemed a recluse and we scarcely saw him. He did appear at the Seven Seas cocktail, but not at the final crew show. The next day was a sea day and we had our first lectures. Four members of the BBC Antiques Roadshow were on board and they were just superb. The first lecture especially - from Paul Atterbury about Scandinavian design - was a blockbuster! A real tour de force!! We also had Sandra Bowen from the BBC on board and she lectured on many topics to do with Scandinavia - art, music, history etc. She is wonderful and I am thrilled to see that she will be on our November cruise from Rome to Ft Lauderdale. We spent a day in Rostock and took a sightseeing tour of that city. Most passengers headed off for tours to Berlin - which is a fair distance away. We started our tour with a boat ride down the river to Rostock from the port of Warnemunde. This was great fun. Our guide, Peter, was excellent and approaching Rostock from the river was beautiful. It is an old Hanseatic city, which was almost totally flattened in the war, and is now re-built in the old style. Our walking tour was super. We learned a lot about the city, and even visited the former Stasi (German secret police) headquarters. We then went back to the ship by bus and collapsed! Our next port was supposed to have been Visby in Sweden. However there was a very strong wind blowing and the captain could not get the anchor to hold. He tried four times, with no luck. The Voyager is too big to get into the small port, so he had no choice but to cancel the stop. From what we could see from a distance the town looked very pretty and I am sorry we missed it! The following morning we docked in Tallin, Estonia. From the water this small city is exquisitely beautiful - and walking around the old town was a delight. Unfortunately our guide wasn't great, and she seemed to leave us on our own too much rather than explain what we were seeing. (Too much shopping!!) After about an hour we left the group and walked around on our own. There were at least four cruise ships in town that day, and our guide was a student who, I think, had been pressed into service because there were so many tourists. She was very informative about Estonia, and its history so it was too bad that she didn't quite understand her role in showing us the old town. The absolute highlight of the entire trip was St Petersburg. Until the last minute the officers and tour staff (headed by Larry Slater, who had been on the Mariner with us in Panama and who is a wonderful Tour Director - or "Travel concierge" as they are now called!) thought we would dock in the port. Instead we were able to go right up the Neva and we docked at the first bridge with the wonderful buildings of St Petersburg all around us. Much better than the rusty old port! We had hired a private guide and car for St Petersburg, and this change of mooring confused our guide who went to the port! However she appeared and off we went. Just a word about Russia - if you can, get a visa. I know it is a hassle, and it costs a lot, but it is so wonderful to be able to get on and off the ship at will, with the same ease as walking out of the front door of a hotel! People without visas had to be on RSSC organised tours. We had our visas and in the evening could just go for a stroll along the river, watching the locals - mostly walking their dogs! It gave us a real freedom that I would have missed a lot. We drove around the town a bit - it was Sunday morning so the museums wouldn't be open till 11 - and saw the Peter and Paul fortress, Peter the Great's log cabin (quite a place! Very small and primitive) and the battleship Aurora. Then just after 11 we went to the Hermitage. Galina, our guide, took us around the Impressionist rooms and then we went to the gold room where we had an appointment with the Director. (Galina was not only a fabulous guide, but she has amazing connections! We never queued to get into anything and frequently saw things that were closed to the public). In this case the gold rooms were closed for lunch, and the Director took us around. It was a privilege to see them without anyone else there. In all we spent about 3 hours in the Hermitage before going to The Old Customs Hosue restaurant for a very late lunch. After lunch we visited St Isaac's Cathedral, then the Church on Spilled Blood, and ended up around 6pm at the main market. I was impressed with the quality of the fruits and veg. on sale there, though Galina said the meat wasn't much good. On Monday Galina took us to Peterhof to visit the gardens (and admire the wonderful fountains) and then on to Orangienbaum to visit Catherine's Chinese Palace. This was closed for the day, and the director met us and gave us a personal tour. This palace should be on everyone's list. It is small, and wonderful. The parquet floors with inlays representing flowers and fruits etc have to be seen to be believed. And unlike many of the other palaces it was not too damaged in the war. In fact the Director told us that Catherine's bedroom - which we saw - had not really been touched since her death! We drove back into town and had another late lunch this time at the Grand Hotel, before going to the Youssopov Palace. There again we arrived as it was closing, and spent two hours with Galina visiting all the rooms and learning heaps about Russian history. On Tuesday morning we went to Catherine's palace at Pushkin (Tsarskoe Selo). We had coffee with the associate director and then she left us to see the palace with Galina. No one else was there except the cleaning staff! Normally the amber room has two lines of people, each going in opposite directions. We saw it alone. Amazing. We were really sorry to say goodbye to Galina! I think we'll have to go back there in the winter to see the many things we missed!! The Voyager sailed from St Petersburg for Stockholm at around 4pm. While it was nice to see the open sea, it was sad to leave such a wonderful city behind. It takes about 24 hours to get from St Petersburg to Stockholm, and since it more or less was a sea day there were lots more lectures to attend. However the highlight of the day had to be sailing into Stockholm, through the archipelago, seeing the tiny islands and lovely houses and all the water traffic. We docked in Stockholm near the Sijla Ferry line dock (the one that goes to Helsinki) and again RSSC organised a shuttle bus to town. We were still tired from our adventures in St. P, so we spent a quiet evening on board, having dinner at Latitudes. I have to say a word about this restaurant. On the Mariner in Alaska we ate there and thought it was very so-so. Consequently we didn't bother to try it on the Panama cruise. However I had read that they have re-focused the menu, and so we ate there not once, but twice! it is now a seriously good "Indo-chinese" restaurant...we loved it! We didn't take any tours in Stockholm because we've been there lots before, so we really appreciated the shuttle bus which, unlike the Amsterdam one, didn't stop for lunch! We got into town early and spent a lot of time walking in the Gamla Stan (old town) which at that hour was people-free! We then went shopping at NK the main department store, and almost got caught in a shoot-out! As we left NK for the Opera to get the bus back to the ship we heard gun shots. We found out later that some masked, armed men had robbed the jewelry department and as they made a get-away, were pushed to the ground by the onlookers and arrested by the police. Happily all we heard of this were the sirens but several people from the ship saw the whole event. This is a really unusual happening for quiet Stockholm. Our last formal night was the night we sailed from Stockholm. The crew put on a terrific show and dinner was superb - prime rib of beef, I seem to remember. The elusive captain was nowhere to be seen! In the end his non-appearance started to bug me, and since we are sailing on the Voyager on November 4 I made enquiries as to whether he would still be on board. The crew members I spoke to thought not. So I hope we get a more convivial captain on that cruise! One crew member who will be on board is Bryan, the Cruise Director. He is simply wonderful, and we appreciated his work very much. Many people in his job are quite corny, but he wasn't. He is a charming person and we are looking forward to seeing him again. With all the sightseeing we did, we didn't go to all the shows. However the Peter Terhune group have new productions and their opera evening is absolutely top notch! On the last day, before we docked in Copenhagen at 4pm, the Antiques Roadshow gang hosted an "Antiques Boatshow" where people could bring things they had with them, or photos of antiques, or items they had bought on the cruise. It was amazing informative and great fun!! Finally we arrived in Copenhagen. We docked at Lange Linie, about a 5 minute walk from the little mermaid. We didn't go into town that night, preferring to enjoy the Voyager for a last evening. Then on the Saturday the sad time came to say good bye. Because we were staying in Copenhagen and were thus not pressed for time we were one of the last to disembark. That suited us fine!! We spent the weekend in Copehagen. It was one of the hottest weekends of the year - around 30C and without a cloud. We stayed at the Radisson SAS Royal across from Tivoli. This is a good hotel, but in the room we had first the AC just couldn't keep up with the heat! We went to Tivoli for the evening but on our return to the room it was like a furnace. The staff moved us to another room with much better AC and we were very comfortable. The hotel has a good breakfast buffet, which was included in our room rate. All in all we liked it for its location - Tivoli and the Central station - its very pleasant staff, and Arne Jacobsen's design. However it is not what I would call luxurious! Comfortable, yes. We flew back to Switzerland on the Monday - and now we are counting the days until we board the Voyager again! Read Less
Sail Date June 2006
According to the staff on the Mariner we had exceptionally good weather on this 7 day cruise from Whittier to Vancouver (departure July 26). We had sunshine on every day in port except one (Ketchikan). Apparently, no one saw the sun for an ... Read More
According to the staff on the Mariner we had exceptionally good weather on this 7 day cruise from Whittier to Vancouver (departure July 26). We had sunshine on every day in port except one (Ketchikan). Apparently, no one saw the sun for an entire week on this ship on the cruise immediately before ours, so perhaps this explains why everyone was so cheerful on our ship! This is our second cruise on Regent; our first was a short trip (4 days) in the Caribbean 18 months ago on the Diamond which is no longer part of the fleet. We were impressed the first time and our second trip on Regent did not disappoint. Overall, the experience on Regent was exceptional and this was exactly what we were expecting. I do not intend to go into detail on every item, but as other reviews explain, the standard on Regent and the Mariner is very high so you can assume that any areas which dont get a mention are mostly very good or excellent relative to other cruise lines (weve sailed on NCL, Princess, and Carnival). Ill start by mentioning a couple of disappointments. Overall the entertainment was pretty poor. The variety shows were downright horrible. The best entertainer on the ship was the cruise director who did a cabaret style show twice during the week - we wished he had taken the stage every night. We tend to amuse ourselves in the evening  particularly in the casino  so this was not an issue for us. There is a well equipped fitness center on this ship, but on days at sea you needed to wait for equipment to become available. Second, we unfortunately missed our shore excursion in Ketchikan due to the fact that the ship had to tender passengers to shore at this port- apparently dock slots are rotated every week between the different cruise lines and this was the Mariner's week for tendering. Our tender had to wait around 20 minutes for another ship to leave port and this caused us to just miss our trip. We were offered another trip later in the day, but we had made other plans and could not change. We received a refund on the trip, but we were still very disappointed. This was a frustrating situation as we were allowed to board a tender only after the first two had left. If we could have boarded an earlier tender we would have made the trip. We had hoped to avoid tendering completely on this trip, but at least on a small ship like the Mariner, there is limited waiting. We did complain to the customer service manager on the ship about our missed excursion. She was sympathetic and answered all of our questions, but I still believe that our bad experience could have been avoided. A final negative comment  I hope that Regent eliminates charges for internet access (currently $0.35/min). This seems particularly mean on a "premium" ship that intends to go all inclusive in 2007 On the positive side, the embarkation procedure is about the best it can be  we were able to check-in at our hotel in Anchorage  luggage was automatically transferred to the ship  so we virtually strolled directly onto the ship and into our cabins when our train arrived in Whittier. Food is exceptional on the Mariner. The food and service was excellent in the main dining room and Latitudes restaurant (reservation required). We also liked the Veranda for breakfast. The Signature dining room (reservation required) was outstanding both in food and service. Overall, I think the food on the Mariner is certainly the best we have experienced on a cruise line by a long way and our meals and service at Signature compared well with first class restaurants on land. The wines, which are complementary with meals, were also very nice, although we felt that the red selection was frequently not quite up to the standard of the food  which was exceptional! Overall, while we expected excellent service on this ship, we were still surprised by how good it actually was, particularly since tipping is not expected. I dont know what Regent is doing to motivate the staff, but they were amazing. Read Less
Sail Date July 2006
We left West Palm Beach for Anchorage, with a change of planes in Atlanta. The flight (Delta Airlines) was very nice, and uneventful. The food was surprisingly good. We arrived in Anchorage at 9:00 pm, so a short night prevented us from ... Read More
We left West Palm Beach for Anchorage, with a change of planes in Atlanta. The flight (Delta Airlines) was very nice, and uneventful. The food was surprisingly good. We arrived in Anchorage at 9:00 pm, so a short night prevented us from enjoying any local cuisine or sightseeing. The Anchorage Hilton and morning breakfast buffet was adequate. When arriving in Whittier at the dock, we were quickly processed by Regent and arrived in our suite in record time. We had booked a penthouse suite category A (with a butler) and found the extra money well-spent. The cabin was quite spacious with a great walk-in closet and lovely bathroom that certainly met all of our needs. Our butler, Rao, introduced himself and, after unpacking, I sent some items out to be pressed. (This service is free on the first day onlyafter that you are charged per piece.) My husband and I took time to explore the ship and upon returning to the cabin, we were pleased to find canapEs and champagne waiting for us. We went to dinner in Compass Rosea disappointment. The salad was drenched in dressing and completely overwhelmed the greens and the salmon was dry and tasteless (in Alaskaunacceptable). Even the dessertvanilla ice cream with thyme tasted much as the name suggests. The service, however, was very accommodating. So much so, in fact, that when asked if you were enjoying your meal, you could not bear to disappoint by uttering even one negative comment. We only ate in Compass Rose one other evening, (with some coaxing from Rao to give them another chance) and the food was even worse. We did eat at both Signatures and Latitudes with somewhat better results. Signatures was good, but did not live up to LeCordeon Blue standards. Latitudes was by far my favorite, but I really cant give it raves. We much preferred LaVeranda for evening mealsespecially when the weather allowed dining on the rear outside deck. All-in-all, I would say that the food on this ship can be compared to event meals. Not any better or worse than you would get at a wedding or charity function. They do not live up to the hype. Now for the good news. The ship is wonderful and never gives the impression of being in a crowd. Even at the Captains receptions, when the entire group assembles, the crew manages to make the experience personal and the Stars night club is graciously accommodating. We most enjoyed the Observation Deck and used it as our second living room. It is pitifully underused and you would do yourself a favor to make full use of this area if you take the Alaska cruise. The scenery is spectacular and even better than viewing it from your balcony. There is frequent commentary from the ships naturalist and refreshments for most of the day and evening. We are not much for gambling, and only visited the Casino once, which seemed adequate. The library and computer rooms were certainly up to our needs and you can always find a cup of cappuccino or hot chocolate nearby. We did not take advantage of the frequent art auctionscould not tear ourselves away from the Observation Deck. As for the butler, we were not impressed. Aside from evening canapEs (which were bland) we really did not see him much. He was not rude, just distant. We were celebrating our 35th wedding anniversary, (which we had registered at booking) and did not receive so much as a congratulations from him. The ship kindly posted it on their daily activities schedule on the TV. I have been on other cruises and had friendlier service from the room steward. Twice we returned to our cabin to find that it had not been cleaned yet, although we had left early and requested that it be serviced. It was only a minor inconvenience. With or without a butler, we both felt that the cabin was well worth the extra cost. Now ladies (and gentlemen), some information about appropriate clothes. We found the cruise to be even more casual than we were led to believe by the brochures. My husband and I were often the most dressed up couple at dinner and around the ship on our at sea days. (even though most of the time I was in slacks). While I feel jeans and running suits are entirely appropriate for port tours and running around the ship, we like to change for dinner. It seems that few people understand that difference between casual and informal attire. You should be guided according to your own dress code. We only attended three of the shows, but all were decent. The best one was a review given by the staffit received a standing ovation by both the passengers and the Captain of the ship. Who, by the way, is quite personable and very accommodating as were all of the officers. A word about shore excursions. We were heavily booked at most ports and had made our arrangements online well ahead of our departure date. When we arrived in our stateroom, confirmations were waiting for us. We were notified that there was a discrepancy on one of our three Juneau tours and we were advised to cancel two of the excursions. As it turned out, we saw that they were wrong and the timing was fine for all three trips. (The young lady in the tours office on the ship was new and her level of expertise left much to be desired.) The ship would not okay the three bookings that I had requested. Luckily, I took charge of the problem and called ahead to Juneau (Captain Larrys Whale Watching Tour, to be exact). The same two excursions were re-booked through the Juneau office and we did not have a problem from that point on. All of these shore excursions (with the exception of the Tracy Arm Cruise) could technically be booked directly through the tour operators in each port city, but the ship does not charge much more and you are assured that they will wait for you if a problem arises. The call is yours. Many passengers opted out of the Tracey Arm cruise for the Misty Fjords cruise and were disappointed. We were told later that, the weather is often blustery and many passengers become ill on the floatplane portion of the tour and never recover sufficiently to enjoy the boating portion. This happened to our fellow passengers, and two were so ill that they were taken off of the tender in a wheelchair. We had no such problem on the Tracey Arm cruise and it was spectacular! Disembarking the ship was orderly and well-planned. We opted for a private car to the airport and, although we had to wait for sometime, we arrived well ahead of the passengers who chose the alternate bus transportation and the extra cost was not excessive. In summary, we loved the Seven Seas Mariner and thoroughly enjoyed the natural beauty of Alaska. Although we did not love the food (it paled in comparison to other cruises we have taken), it is not a high priority for us and we would definitely sail with Regent in the future. Read Less
Sail Date July 2006
Having cruised only the mainline cruise lines before Holland and Princess, we looked forward with great anticipation to joining our friends, Phyllis and Phil, who had only cruised the higher end lines: Crystal, Silverseas, and Seabourn. ... Read More
Having cruised only the mainline cruise lines before Holland and Princess, we looked forward with great anticipation to joining our friends, Phyllis and Phil, who had only cruised the higher end lines: Crystal, Silverseas, and Seabourn. Phyl and Phil traveled separately to Copenhagen (they used frequent flyer miles on American, and had a tortuous route from Los Angeles to Boston to Zurich to Copenhagen). My wife Peggy and I took advantage of a half-price business class sale on Air France, and overnight to Paris and had an easy transfer at CDG, thanks to directions from Cruise Critic member/posters Globaliser and Flyertalker--my sincere thanks! We took the train from Copenhagen Airport to the city center for less than $5.00, and it was a short and reasonably priced cab ride to the Marriott, which we loved. Our friends had the canal view and we had the city view, with sights of Tivoli all lit up at dark (which is not til after 10pm in the late summer!) The hotel is convenient (only two blocks to Tivoli and a bit further to other city sights and restaurants. The breakfast buffet was excellent, but quite expensive (about $50 for two). We spent three days pre-cruise in Denmark, and it was delightful! We tried the hop-on hop-off bus, which got us to several sights, but the recorded highlights were pretty basic. Be sure to bring guide books; we used Lonely Planet and Rick Steves. The concierge directed us to two very nice restaurants. The first, Cafe Nytorv was simple, but good food. Service at the outdoor cafe took quite a while as they only had one waitperson bringing the food from the restaurant across the street. The other restaurant recommended by the concierge, Gammel Strand was simply magnificent. Amazing food, wonderful wine and excellent service. Morning of the cruise we had time for the Hans Christian Andersen tour. It was entertaining, informative and I highly recommend it. We cabbed from the Marriott to the pier, quick and easy. Check in was a breeze. As the rooms were not ready at 2:00, we went up to La Veranda for a late lunch. Plenty of food, but I would say nothing more than the usual buffet fare, which caused us to avoid it til the last evening of the cruise, when we were pleasantly surprised--more on that later. Afterwards, we headed to our suite. It certainly exceeded our expectations. The room was quite large, well appointed, with a nice large walk-in closet and a large marble bath. We met our room stewardess, Prisilla, who was charming and efficient. We took advantage of the time before sailing to do a couple of loads of laundry, then up to Compass Rose for dinner. No waiting for a table for four. The food was good, but I couldn't really say that it was outstanding. Two ongoing sour notes. One of our traveling companions prefers the sweeter white wines. He asked for a Reisling and was told there was none on the ship, but that they would see if they could get it at the next port. This turned out to be a running joke, as we asked every night, and the Reisling was never available. The same thing occurred with a request for strawberry ice cream: None available, ever. Our issues with Compass Rose continued at breakfast. The service was extremely slow, even when the dining room was 3/4 empty. Sausages were so over cooked they were like rocks, hash brown potatoes were cold, and the eggs benedict was covered with some horribly congealed mess that bore no relationship to Hollandaise sauce. Sadly, each successive breakfast was the same or worse. Hardly what I would call a six star line's best effort. Our first port was Visby on the Swedish island of Gotlund. We had to tender in, and the gentleman in the wheel chair proved quite a challenge for the crew, as the tender was bobbing pretty wildly. I was sure he was going to get dropped, but made it without mishap. We opted to explore Visby on our own. It's a charming medieval city, easily explored, although the hillside was fairly steep and the cobblestones uneven. We poked in a few shops, visited a lovely cathedral, strolled the town and returned to the ship. Dinner in Compass Rose was pretty good, but I found the desserts very unimaginative. I have never seen jello on the menu of any cruise ship in the main dining room! We went to the show that evening while our friends did some business emails in the computer center, which is quite large and well equipped. The show was the Broadway musical revue, fairly well done, and we enjoyed it. A few words about ship amenities. Appointments at the spa took a little while the first day, as they were entering them manually in a ledger, not on a computer. The spa is small, the gym also small, but clean. Not nearly as elaborate, for example, as the Lotus spa on the grand class Princess ships. Each day there was a cultural lecture, mostly centered on either art, ballet or history of Russia. I went to one; it was informative--hard to keep track of all those Russian Tsars! The fore lounge usually had music, a few (and I mean few) appetizers. The aft lounge we visited once before dinner and were the only folks there to hear the combo. I don't know if the change in liquor policy coming Jan. 1 will bring more folks to the lounges, but the week of our trip (July 29-Aug 5) they were pretty quite. Not much else going on on-board. The ship stores had greatly overpriced clothing, jewelry, and russian folk art. The camera store was almost never opened, so we were unable to download any digital pictures to disks. Our second port was Tallin, Estonia. It was a delightful town! Our friends' travel agent is connected with Virtuoso tours, and they included a guided tour of the town. The port is a commercial shipping port that is a couple of miles from town, so we boarded a bus which dropped us off outside the walls at the top of the old city. Our tour guide was pleasant and informative. The walking tour took us to a beautiful Orthodox cathedral, down a cobbled lane to a music hall where several musicians in local traditional dress performed on kannels, which are ancient Estonian instruments resembling zithers. They were quite entertaining. Afterward, we strolled the streets, saw several lanes containing the work of local artisans, then on to restaurant "Gloria" which was hosted by the tour. The food was good. We hurried off to do a little shopping (I still have no idea whether the amber necklace I bought my wife is authentic amber--they say if you heat it, the odor will be woodsy if genuine, or like plastic if it is fake!). We met up with the tour guide and reboarded the bus. We did a short tour which passed by several government buildings, then private homes, and on to a medieval convent that was destroyed by one of the invading countries that passed through Estonia over the ages. We returned to the ship and wrote a few post cards before our 7:00 p.m. reservation for L'Attitudes. I had contacted the maitre d earlier, as the written confirmation left in our cabin (I pre-booked on line) seemed to indicate we were a party of eight, when I was trying to tell them that we were a party of four, but didn't mind being seated with others. The staff were most grateful that we were willing to be flexible, as the other dining requests for that evening seemed to have taxed their seating arrangements. If you go to L'Attitudes, they request you be prompt, as the food is timed to come out on schedule. Although you receive a menu, there are no choices, and no substitutions. The food is served family style, as in most Chinese restaurants, although I would describe the food as more fusion with an asian flair, rather than Asian. I found the food in L'Attitudes quite good. Only the appetizers (egg rolls, skewered beef, etc) seemed a little pedestrian. We were seated with a delightful young couple from Philadelphia, Ruthie and Ben, and quite enjoyed the meal and the conversation. Our long anticipated arrival in St. Petersburg was the next morning. We had, on the recommendation of many Cruise Critic posters, engaged a private tour from Alla for the four of us. Although Alla was booked, she engaged a young woman who often contracted with her. We had the services of our guide, Julia, and a driver for the full three days in St. Petersburg. Each was invaluable. Julia was well educated, knowledgeable, able to accommodate requests for unscheduled stops for meals, shopping, an impromptu subway ride, and still got us to all the sites we had pre-arranged. She took care of all our entrance fees (and with one exception was able to get us past the lines waiting to get in) as well as photo stickers for camera use. Our driver Valery got us in and out of many traffic jams in the city, which is just not able to accommodate the influx of private cars since Peristroika. We kidded him about his race car driving, but he knew what he was doing. On the third day, he even brought his video camera to show us his son's swim meet, where he had won a medal! On the first day, Julia took us to Peter and Paul fortress and Cathedral, St. Isaac's Cathedral, Church of Our Saviour (also known as Church on the Spilled Blood) before lunch at a nice little restaurant frequented by locals, Mischa and the Bear (named after a Russian folk tale) and helped us order. As we got to know her, and she us, she became accustomed to our senses of humor, and we got along famously the whole trip. After lunch, we went to Peterhof and toured the extensive grounds and fountains at Peter the Great's summer palace. Not to be missed. Both Alla and Julia recommended seeing only the grounds. Entrance to the palace was extra, and many rooms were under renovation. We returned to the ship with tired feet! On our way up the gang plank, we saw large groups leaving for evening excursions to the ballet and elsewhere, so I suggested we see if there were any openings at Signatures for that night. Indeed there were if we could be there promptly at 7:00 p.m. We rushed to clean and change. Signatures, the Cordon Bleu restaurant, has a menu which has no substitutions. Upon arrival, we advised the head waiter that we had reserved souffles for that evening at Compass Rose, and asked if it was possible to have them served up at Signatures. The head waiter checked and said that was not possible, but that he would notify Compass Rose that we would arrive for souffles, coffee and after dinner drinks after we completed our meal up at Signatures. We were impressed. Although Peggy's filet mignon was little tough, everyone one else at our table raved over the food and the wine (the red for the evening was Mouton Cadet, quite a cut above the complimentary reds being served in the main restaurant). Entertainment that night was a troupe of Russian Folk dancers the ship had brought aboard. They were excellent! Afterward Phyl and Phil went to the computer center and we repaired to the lounge for a little music and conversation before bedtime. Day two in St. Petersburg started with a short visit to St. Nicholas Church, which unlike several of those previously visited was still in use as a church, the others serving primarily as museums to religious art and architecture. We also visited a small pedestrian bridge near a small park in a residential neighborhood, and stopped to take Julia's picture in front of the university she previously attended, and where she now teaches English! Then on to the Hermitage, which was glorious. Once again Julia was able to get us past the long lines for entrance. We visited a few rooms before our allotted time to visit "the gold room" Julia gave someone a dressing down when it appeared the guide appointed for the group to which we were to be attached was at a different location than she had been advised! For those who don't know, most of the contents of the gold room were household decorative items (snuff boxes, hair brushes, etc., and the Sythian archeological collections). Crown jewels are in Moscow, and most, if not all of the Faberge eggs were sold to Malcolm Forbes! There is so much fantastic art to see in the Hermitage, that I would not spend my time or money on the gold room unless you are there for an extended number of days. We had lunch in the museum snack bar, and then toured the wings devoted to the art collection. Quite impressive, as was the building itself. Later, we visited the Yusopof palace, home to a wealthy Russian family, and site of the murder of Rasputin. Back to the ship for a second evening at Signatures (the one we had pre-booked). The menu was the same for the entire week (as is the case at L'Attitudes). Some of us had the same main course, others changed. We were seated with a doctor and his wife who were from Alabama. Lively conversation and excellent food and wine! Our last day in St. Petersburg! We were a little late getting off the ship. I think Julia was a little worried! (By the way, because of the relatively small size of the ship, we had an excellent docking area in town along the canal, not at the larger and more remote commercial shipping area). We traveled out of town for the trip to Pushkin, home of the famous poet, and site of Catherine's Palace. En route we saw several examples of Soviet style architecture: blocks of grey multi-story flats. Rather depressing. In St. Petersburg we saw a few areas with apartments dating from pre-revolutionary times, but saw no private detached homes. There were a few of these in Pushkin. The Palace is quite ornate with much gilded carvings. We stopped at a very nice restaurant on the way back and sampled a local berry during, as well as some local vodka! We had a canal boat cruise scheduled, but it was drizzling, so we opted instead to do a little shopping for souvenirs after a side trip to take a ride on the subway, just one stop. The architecture and cleanly state of the station impressed us. Sadly, we bade farewell to our guide and driver, and boarded the ship. We went up to the forward lounge for cocktails and to see sailaway, but our departure was delayed, so we decide to go eat. The menu in Compass Rose didn't look that appealing, so we decided to try La Veranda. It was Mediterranean night, so in addition to the buffet for appetizers and desert, the main courses were delivered to your table, and we found the meal and the service superior to Compass Rose. Go figure. We had a day at sea, at last a few hours to relax. I had a massage, started packing, then had lunch at the outdoor poolside grill. In addition to a plethora of salads, they had burgers, and were also barbecuing cuts from a huge tuna caught from the ship that morning! Still no strawberry ice cream, however, and the milk shakes and smoothies seemed to be lacking something: ice cream! Guess this just gets lost in the translation. our last port was Stockholm, but we only had time to take the shuttle to town and stroll for a couple of hours. We wanted to see the Vasa museum, but it was closed by the time we were able to disembark that evening, and we flew back to Paris the next morning. Disembarkation was rather odd: when they called our color, we walked down the gangway, found our luggage on the tarmac and waited for the driver our TA engaged for our trip to the airport. No customs or immigration of any kind! Although I was somewhat underwhelmed by the quality of the food in the primary dining room, we had a wonderful trip. I didn't find the food any better than that on Princess, and below that served on Holland America. The larger room, absence of tipping, and complimentary liquor in room and at dinner did not, to me, justify the price, which was double that of a comparable trip on either of those lines, and that was with a 2 for 1 fare the week we sailed on Regent. Our companions were also less than impressed, saying they much preferred their trips on Crystal. I guess what I am saying is that for the extra expense, and reputed reputation as a six star line, the lack of attention to detail, follow up, and meal quality were all below my expectations. I realize these are subjective areas, but of the three lines on which I have traveled to date, my preference right now would be Holland America. I like HAL's classic cruise line decor (found the public area decor on Voyager a quite cold example of Euro modern that was sort of late fifties barren), and the service staff on Holland also just a little bit friendlier and more accommodating. This was a very port intensive itinerary, so the little time spent on board Voyager did not detract from my vacation. It just didn't do that much to enhance it. Read Less
Sail Date July 2006
Last week we cruised on the Regent Seven Seas Mariner Vancouver to Whittier. This was a last minute trip for us  choosing a ship and booking less then a week from sailing date. Check in at Vancouver was basically painless. Ok, so they ... Read More
Last week we cruised on the Regent Seven Seas Mariner Vancouver to Whittier. This was a last minute trip for us  choosing a ship and booking less then a week from sailing date. Check in at Vancouver was basically painless. Ok, so they printed my name wrong on my security/door lock card - I was to be Davis for the trip, not David. I pointed out the error, was told I would get a new card - what I didn't understand is that I had to go and request it. So I was Davis for the trip-no big deal. Our Suite was a penthouse A category on deck 11  which includes butler service, a category and location we would have chosen even if we had booked a year out. There are plenty of reviews on the physical attributes of the ship  Ill simply add that our room was very well furnished, very nice size, closet space excellent, Balcony (well used by us) and glass sliding doors were fantastic. The person who had the final say over bathroom design should have had their head examined  with such a large space to work with finding a small-single sink-shower in tub (if youre over 6ft you might consider a stateroom with stall shower and no tub because youll hit your head). But thats what this ship has; small bathrooms - and it wouldnt stop us from sailing again on the Mariner. Our room stewardess and butler were excellent. Shore excursions were fantastic. Everything from the bear/salmon viewing on a remote river marsh  after wading in from a float plane  to a private charter on a small craft in Sitka (just the two of us with a guide and captain) where we viewed up close eagles, deer, brown bear (10ft in front of us feeding on salmon), sea otters and a pod of whales that was nothing short of magical. This was my 6th Alaskan Cruise  and the beauty increases every time I see it. Where the ship fell flat and inconsistent was in staff training and food presentation/service. This is a top end ship (cruise line), with guests paying top dollar. First the good news. Dinner at La Veranda in the evenings was excellent  both nights we tried it. Going a little later then the crowds we had wonderful tables, excellent service and very well prepared choices. Latitudes the signature French restaurant was also quite good. Service attentive if a bit slow  but whos in a rush. Presentation was very nice. Signatures  the Asian themed specialty restaurant, which requires a pre-booking. Great looking dinner service ware. After that visual, a big zero. Food took forever, tasted flat, and was borderline cold. You better nurse your glass of water for a long time, as getting it refilled seems to be a chore for an abundance of staff looking around for something to do. I want to believe that our table (6 as we sat with strangers) was the exception to the rule  served last in the room  with very little attention to the table during very long waits. I am sure that people have had good experiences here; ours just wasnt one of them. Room Service: Always-nice day or night. Sometimes the orders get a bit confused, however the effort is there to make things right. Lunch: Deck grill Good Deck buffet: Terrible Cold pizza thrown into large round holding dishes Mac and cheese  the saddest presentation Ive ever seen outside of my grade school cafeteria. Veranda buffet: Carnival would not be proud of this. Highlighted by a few staff that clearly dont want to be on this ship. Main Dining room: Lunch  our one meal trying this venue for lunch was nothing short of horrible. Stir fried turkey slopped on a plate and served room temperature. In attentive service with a who cares attitude. Dinner  two times. Ordinary with poor service, highlighted the second time we tried it with the following first impression. Headwaiter outside looking at table map: May we please have a table for 2 near a window? Headwaiter: Would you like to share a table? We would prefer a table for two tonight Looks at the map  tells the waiter  Table 72 We walked into an almost EMPTY dining room and taken to the first table by the entry door, in the center section of the dining area next to a busing station. I looked around again; the dining room was sill almost empty (and we were midway through the evening). I went back to the Headwaiter and told him as politely as I could possible say it  that this type of response would be a good reason to choose another cruise line and I walked off. I confess I said it loud enough that one of the heads of the dining room heard it  offered his assistance  seated us at a table for 2 near a window (and there was another table for 2 just behind us which would have been just as fine). An ordinary meal followed. Dining room remained half empty and I couldnt help noticing when we left that our first table  was still empty This was the 3rd time in two days where a member of the staff  heard a rather simple request and completely ignored it. Nothing improves if one remains silent. I did meet the guest relations officer about our experiences  the wonderful, the good, and the inconsistent. She did take notes and told me while she tries several times during a cruise to dine in the dining rooms  on this cruise she was too busy. Her interest was seemed to tell me that hell be off the ship soon. I also filled out the survey. Bottom line  I might sail with Regent Seven Seas again  but it would be a big depends. Back in Los Angeles, the lady I was traveling with was at her beauty salon and talking about the trip. The well-traveled lady sitting next to her said she just sailed with Seven Seas Mariner two weeks earlier, they were a party of eight in large suites. The one comment that stands out was she never knew what to expect. That pretty well sums up our experience on the Regent Seven Seas Marnier. One final item. Ive been fortunate to have started cruising when I was quite young  in the days of the Fairwind, Michelangelo, and Sagafiord. Ive traveled Windjammer to Queens Grill and just about everything in between. Now in my mid 50s  my most recent sailing this year prior to Regent was on Silversea this past May for 2 weeks (Hong Kong  Tokyo) as well as Crystal within the past 12 months. Regent doesn't hold a candle to SevenSeas in the service department IMO. This is my first major posting on this forum  and its unfortunately a buyer beware. Read Less
Sail Date August 2006
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