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Sail Date: September 2003
It was our second trip on Radisson's Mariner, so we knew we were going to love the ship. We didn't have to take an airplane as we boarded in Los Angeles and returned to Los Angeles. Our cruise took us to Tahiti and her islands ... Read More
It was our second trip on Radisson's Mariner, so we knew we were going to love the ship. We didn't have to take an airplane as we boarded in Los Angeles and returned to Los Angeles. Our cruise took us to Tahiti and her islands and then to Hawaii and home. We had been to all the ports with the exception of Christmas Island. Three of our friends boarded with us for the afternoon. We requested hors d'oeurves to go with our complimentary champagne and they arrived almost immediately. Our friends were in awe of our cabin (Cat. C Penthouse Suite) as well as the ship. We toured them around and ran into some familiar faces from our previous cruise. They were so happy to see us, which made us feel very welcome. Captain Jean Marie Guillou also remembered us which was wonderful. After unpacking and a light dinner at the Veranda Cafe it was off to sleep. We had six days at sea and the weather was warm, as it was 90 degrees when we left L.A. We spent luxurious days at sea out by the pool area and the calmness of the ocean was remarkable. We were able to keep in touch with everyone at home from the computer room. E-mails were extremely reasonable. It was great to hear from everyone and know that things at home were status quo. The ship is wonderful and the staff even better. They don't know the meaning of the word "NO" Our cabin stewardess was a first timer, so we had some training to do, but she caught on. Food is excellent in every venue and the alternative restaurants are creative and fun. Complimentary wines are served at dinner and they pour very good wine. The head sommalier is very knowledgeable and will discuss the wine at length if asked. We didn't partake in the entertainment very often, but what we saw was average. The casino is small, but everyone has a good time. Since our cruise had so many days at sea, there were many seniors in wheelchairs and walkers. It wasn't an issue unless you were getting on or off the ship and the tenders. Most of the ports were tendered. There is a video library and each cabin has a VCR. There are also books that can be checked out on the honor system and a small library. the lounges are nice. the bar outside the Compass Rose restaurant was rarely crowded and we always found a seat. The Captain had several cocktail receptions and drinks were on him. It was very nice. Staterooms are all outside with verandas. They are well appointed and comfortable. The bathrooms have ample cabinets and storage. There are no separate showers, but I understand that the new ship, the Voyager has separate showers. There are walk in closets, down comforters and bath products as well as a hair dryer. Radisson is a very classy cruise line and we look forward to many more cruises with them. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2003
Mariner - Chilean Fjords November 10, 2003 6 Nights - Valparaiso (for Santiago) to Ushuaia Olivia and I arrived at the Valparaiso port around 3:00 pm after our lunch in Vina Del Mar. Earlier in the day, we spotted the Mariner in the ... Read More
Mariner - Chilean Fjords November 10, 2003 6 Nights - Valparaiso (for Santiago) to Ushuaia Olivia and I arrived at the Valparaiso port around 3:00 pm after our lunch in Vina Del Mar. Earlier in the day, we spotted the Mariner in the Valparaiso port area during our tour from Santiago to Valparaiso. When I first caught a glimpse, all I could say is "It's Huge". I was immediately impressed by its size. OK so some out there are saying - well it's only 49,000 tons, where has this guy been? Well, not on cruise ships! My only cruise experience was this past March (2003) on the Paul Gauguin and that ship is about half the size (and I thought it was larger when I first saw it too (the Paul Gauguin that is). Anyway, we entered the port area and were dropped off by our guide and driver arranged through Travelsur.com by a lovely woman named Patricia Duffolcq. More on Santiago to Valparaiso land portion in a later review). We were unable to be dropped off directly at the ship. Instead we were dropped off at a pre-boarding area. Porters picked up our luggage and we were escorted over to the buses designated to take us to the Mariner. We met Marco from the Mariner's Club.com (Internet) (photos 377, 379 on www.ofoto.com - login Cruise@yahoo.com, password cc - Album: Chilean Fjords 1A). There was tight security here - apparently the President of Chile had just been there shortly before us. We were taken by bus to the Mariner about a mile away (photos 145-151 - same album). Our documents were checked outside the ship including passports. We were taken up the walkway to Deck 5 Reception. Deck 5 is one of the main passenger spaces - Reception, Tour Desk Mariner Lounge, Latitudes Restaurant, Compass Rose Restaurant, Constellation Theater and the important Cruise Sales office headed up by Brian O'Brien. I have an eye for details and noted a chair around the Tour office on the way to Reception that was pretty badly nicked up. I thought to myself...uh oh! This was a one off I am happy to report based on my 6 night stay this was the only badly nicked piece of furniture I saw. The ship is beautifully maintained and the furnishings are superb throughout the ship. We were checked in by Reception. I was checked in by Otto, a really knowledgeable professional. I was offered Champagne (how could I say no), turned over my passport, took a picture, was given my room key with mini wallet etc. I was then escorted to my Suite on deck 9. The Mariner standard suites are beautiful (pictures 156- 168). Each suite is about 250 square feet with a balcony about 50 square feet (2 chairs with pads and a table). Beautiful woods and furnishings, marble baths, walk in closet, living area, desk/bar area, 3 phones, stocked refrigerator (miscellaneous mixers, water and beer). My suite was centrally located near the Atrium. A couple of things about my room (again that eye) - the carpet seemed a bit frayed at the seams and the initial towel setup seemed a bit thin. The towel thing I discovered within a day or so was again a one off as all my subsequent towels were pretty thick and absorbent. I am not a fan of blue and the carpet in the suites is a lightish blue with a pattern (the color looks a bit faded). I really prefer the colors I have seen in the Voyager brochure - light tans. I guess it was less offensive than the brightish Red on the PG, though it does seem to work too. I wonder when the Mariner is refurbished if they will go with the same color scheme? Judith Jackson Spa toiletries are included in all the rooms (Shampoo, Conditioner and Lotion). There is cotton, and Q-tips as well. There are two plush robes, an umbrella (nice touch) and a shoehorn. There is a TV/VCR combo (there are audio and video hookups). I was on the starboard side of the ship and had great views of Valpairaiso (photos 152 - 155) Ship Tour Decks 5 and 6 After arriving to my stateroom I did the obligatory job of unpacking. Unpacking always seems to take less time than packing. After the unpacking - Olivia invited me on a tour of the ship. Here are my first impressions: Again, compared to the Paul Gauguin - this ship looked huge to me. We started at the lower levels of the ship and moved upwards. Deck 5 - Atrium/Elevators, Reception, Tour Office, Constellation Theater - Level 1, Latitudes, Mariner Lounge, Compass Rose. I was very impressed with the openness of the ship at the Atrium. On Deck 5 off the Atrium are the Elevators, Tour Desk, Reception, Cruise Sales Office and entrances to the Constellation Theater. The area is done in beautiful woods, glass, marble and chrome. The carpet - blue (enough said for me) - as well as the seating surfaces on the chairs in the area. The Atrium is open for about 8 or 9 decks - depending how you count them. It is very dramatic with 2 sets of stairs coming/going to each level. The Atrium lets a lot of light to the area, which gives it a larger, more open feel. The Reception and Tour Offices approximately the same size/style. Very efficient and utilize the round shape for the Atrium area in the design of the walk up areas (curved). The Constellation Theater. Beautiful, tasteful, yet glitzy and glamorous. Looks like it could hold 400-500 people with the second level included. I know when we were there for the Seven Seas Society party there must have been around 270 people on level one of the theater and it was not at capacity. Throw in the second level - and it must have capacity somewhere between 400 - 500 people. Carpet and fabrics on seating surfaces - Blue. Mariner Lounge - Beautiful/tasteful. Great place to have a drink before dinner at Compass Rose or Latitudes. Tan carpeting with Blue seating surfaces. Extensive use of woods for bar, paneling, room dividers (see small photo in Chilean Fjords 2 - photo 18 and 338). Latitudes - Special dEcor added for the South American trip. During our tour we caught the staff setting it up - final pictures of Latitudes with the Tango Theme - photos 12 - 17. We ate dinner there on night (more about that later) and one of the panels had "Ango" instead of "Tango" the T was missing. Now that I look at photo 16, the O is missing! There is a little waiting area off the Dining Room - photo 13. I guess this restaurant is mostly Asian Fusion most of the time. The normal dEcor is definitely Asian in style. Compass Rose - Beautiful, elegant, tasteful. I just loved this restaurant. It was quite large and spanned both sides of the ship. Central walking areas done in marble (blue - deep and beautiful)(see pictures 339 - 344). Beautiful etched glass, chandeliers, extensive use of beautiful woods and marble. Deck 6 - Atrium, Stars Nightclub, Club.com/Library, Conference Room, Garden Promenade, Connoisseur Club, Signatures, Horizon Lounge Second Floor of the Constellation Theater located here on Deck 6. Stars Nightclub - Photos 359 - 363. I think this is another great looking room. Very dramatic. There is a set of stairs leading up the Casino on Deck 7. Extensive use of woods, lighter fabrics on the furniture (gray), small dance floor, beautiful bar. Pictures of different "stars" on the walls including, Babs. Later in the cruise I noticed - not a lot of activity here....such a waste of a beautiful space. Club.Com/Library Area - This was one of my favorite areas. 15 or so computers, light woods, modern desks outside of the main computer room with three computers. Extensive video library. Great seating area to read books etc. See Photo at Chilean Fjords 3, number 72 and Chilean Fjords 1A, and number 378. Garden Promenade - Photo at Chilean Fjords 2, number 358. Art - Art for sale???? This stuff shows up all over the ship. Personally, I do not like the idea or most of the items for sale. The problem for me is that it takes away from the beauty of the ship. I liked the wicker chairs/tables in this area. People work on puzzles, relax/read etc. Connoisseur Club - I love this room and I don't smoke! Photos Chilean Fjords 2, numbers 345 -350. I loved he leather chairs, extensive use of woods and that cute fireplace! What a cozy, comfortable room. Horizon Lunge - Photos Chilean Fjords 2, numbers 351-356. Beautiful (everything on this ship is just beautiful/tasteful elegant!). Again, great woods, colors, and glass, which is placed to give a curved effect and lookout at the back of the ship. Teak deck and table chairs are accessible for this lounge. Signatures - Photos Chilean Fjords 1A, numbers 191 -199. Beautiful, glitzy, tasteful colors. I really liked this smaller intimate setting for dinner. Great colors - tans and the chair fabrics are in a light wine color. Beautiful woods, modern etched glass. OK....I am done again for a while! Decks 7, 11 and 12 Deck 7 - Judith Jackson Spa, Gym, Casino, Boutique, and Atrium Judith Jackson Spa - Beautiful full service Spa and Salon. The Spa has extensive use of marble and wood. The Spa rooms are off a central circular entryway with marble floor. Each Spa room is a pie shaped room. The Beauty Salon is off the Reception area. Gym - Good sized, emphasis on cardiovascular equipment. If you are looking for Free Weights, bench-presses etc. you will not find it here. They do have dumbbells. Over the years in my travels for business I have encountered gyms like this before. You just need to get a little creative with the dumbbells. They do have adjustable benches. There is a large Aerobics area with mats and inflatable balls. Great locations as the Gym and Aerobics area have windows. Casino - Nice sized Casino with a few tables (3 I think). There is a bar, Cashier's office and rows and rows of slot machines. Seemed to be a good size for the ship. I did go there twice and will talk about it later in the review. Boutique - Forget something? Need batteries for your camera? Lost your luggage and need to outfit yourself for a few days? Need some Le Cordon Bleu paraphernalia? This is the place for you. It's really a nice shop and has most of what you need and some other special high-end items like jewelry, expensive liquor etc. Deck 11 - Pool, La Varanda Restaurant, Pool Grill, Atrium Pool - Beautiful (and much larger than the Paul Gauguin!). Plenty of room to layout or sit at a table in the shade. 3 hot tubs and showers to rinse off. Pool Grill - Opens up a bit earlier than La Verandah. Great place to grab a quick bite before a shore excursion. La Veranda - Casual beautiful seating indoors and outside. Buffet type setups. I did think it was a bit cramped in the buffet area. Lunchtime here is a bit busy and crowded. I actually prefer to be served. We ate here once. Deck 12 - Observation Lounge, Jogging Track/Sports Area I really like this location just to see where you are and going. Extensive use of woods and glass. Large Bar. There is a plasma screen showing the route of the ship on a map. Great views covering about 180 degrees. Great location for viewing the glaciers in the Chilean Fjords in a climately controlled environment. This was a favorite place for many people in the Fjords. Will discuss later. Coffee and Danishes served in the morning. Jogging Track/Sports Area - Need to keep up on that jogging regimen? Need to practice your golf swing? Shuffle Board your thing? Up for a game of paddle tennis. Well this is the area for you. All done in Astroturf. This was also a great place to view the Chilean Fjords and Glaciers. Cruise Critic Meeting - Monday November 10, 2003 A funny thing happened to me (one of many on this cruise) after boarding the ship. I think I had just unpacked or something and was leaving my Suite to check my laundry (more on that later) and I was walking down the hall. A gentleman was walking down the hall and we passed. He turned around and came back and said - "Are you Todd Riley?" I said, "Yes are you Ken?" He said yes. It was Ngaire's husband. I recognized him from The VOF (Voyager - October 1, 2003 Venice to Rome) pictures from Marcie (petlover). Ken was going around delivering the invitations to the Cruise Critic Get Together in the Connoisseurs Club at 7:00 pm. We chatted for a bit. So before the Cruise Critic Get Together, I well, put a load of laundry in the machines across from my suite. Why? How could I possibly have laundry on the first night? Well, I traveled on a Saturday, arrived on a Sunday, had a few changes of wardrobes during this time and well, I packed light on whites to save space. So I thought - hey Laundromat across the hall - how convenient! Why pay when I can just run the washer and dryer across the hall. Let me tell you this was only one out of two times I could use the machines, That place was so busy - all the time. The second time I got to use it was at 12:15 am on another night. I didn't quite follow the washing machine instructions...apparently there is this prewash area on the dial that I used......normally a wash cycle was around 35 minutes or so....not for me - it was over an hour.....This delay pushed my timing right up to when I was supposed to be at the Cruise Critic Get Together....In the Laundromat it was like waiting for a kettle to boil. I moved the dial on the washing machine to skip a rinse cycle (1 of 3) so I could get the wash into the dryer. Mission accomplished and I was ten minutes late to the Get Together and I still had to go back and get the stuff out of the dryer in 30 minutes! So who was there in the Connoisseurs Club? First off this was arranged by countFlorida (Michael) - thanks Michael! Since I was late - everyone was there: Ngaire and Ken, Joe and Maryland (sansue), their friend Shirley, Carl and Dale (count di savoy), Michael (countFlorida) and Pat, Dave and Judy (non posters from the Bay Area ), Olivia (jhp) and myself (mp8shnt). What a great get together. Lots of laughing, talking about Cruise Critic, upcoming events - Canopy Adventure (later cancelled) and Chilotito Marino (what a blast that was!). The crowd started to thin a little past 8. I made one announcement to the group and that was the Todd Cosmo party in Ngaire and Ken's suite on Thursday at 6:30 pm. Oh I almost forgot to mention 30 minutes into this get together I had to run back to the Laundromat to get my stuff out of the dryer. By the way, these people in the Laundromat are ruthless - 5 minutes late and your stuff will be taken out of the washer and dryer. No pictures of the event - maybe Ken took some???? Olivia and I joined Ken, Ngaire, Dave, Judy and Michael and Pat at dinner in Compass Rose. I just love being able to walk up when you want and with whom you want and a table is yours - and no waiting! I do have pictures of the dinner (www.ofoto.com login as cruise@yahoo.com password cc. Photos 174-182. I can't remember the appetizers.... but I do remember the main - Filet Mignon. Ngaire taught me this...it was not on the menu - all I had to do was ask! The waiter was not sure, but did not come back to say no and it showed up! Also, I do remember the drinks - Grey Goose Cosmo, and red wine with dinner. The food was great and just my size. I am not a big eater and I find the portions on Radisson to be just right. I love the Compass Rose Dining room. It is so elegant and huge! So what did we do after dinner? Olivia and I ran to the Constellation Theater to see the Fiesta Latina show. What I saw (last 5 minutes) was quite good. Apparently the dancers boarded in Lima and had been practicing this new show for a few days. The theater was crowded and I noticed quite a few of the staff were present as well, including the Captain. Then it was off to the Casino. I tried my luck at Black Jack - $60 and 20 minutes later I was all washed up. Then it was off to bed. More later.... Tuesday November 11, 2003 - Mal De Mar, Quick Fix Facial and Seven Seas Society, and Signatures with Jos Coppers The day started off when I was wide awake at 6:30 am. I tried to go back to sleep but could not. I got up and thought - what to do???? So I got up and took some pictures of the scenery - nothing but water and fog. Go to www.ofoto.com sign in as cruise@yahoo.com and password cc. Look in Chilean Fjords 1A and photos 183 - 190. When we left port the night before I thought nothing of my seasickness preventative measures. The ship's first night sailing was very smooth. I did not go to bed with my Sea Bands on. I did not take Ginger Pills or any Bonine. The ship was moving in the morning. I ordered Room Service. I heard so many comments about Eggs Benedict on Cruise Critic I had to have that my first morning. I ordered that, fresh fruit, coffee and juice. The Room Service arrived quickly - within 15 minutes. I can never tell when it will arrive. I never order by placing the card out the night before for fear I want to sleep in and my food will wake me (or at least the Room Service Waiter). Room Service always catches me in the middle of something - a shower, shaving, brushing my teeth etc. This time I think it was shaving. The food was delivered, nicely arranged on a linen tablecloth and placed on the table conversion piece, which sits on top of the coffee table in the Living Room area. I actually put it out for the waiter. I had read a few reviews that mentioned them and knew where to look - under the sofa. So this must have been around 8:30 am or so. I knew something was wrong when I really wasn't interested in eating. But I tried anyway. I ate one of the Eggs Benedict, had the juice and coffee. The coffee tasted awful to me. I am not sure it was the coffee or the way I was feeling (I am pretty sure it was the way I was feeling as the coffee was pretty consistent on the ship). I could not eat the fresh fruit or the last Eggs Benedict I was just not hungry. Realizing that I might have a Seasickness problem.....I grabbed the Sea Bands and put them on.....I then took some Ginger Pills. None of these things helped the nauseous feeling that came over me......I was sick! It was all over in 3 episodes and 5 minutes. I then went for the big guns - Bonine. Feeling awful in my room that was moving - I decided to go to the gym.....why? Because if everything was going to be moving and making me uncomfortable I might as well be on the Stair Master and doing a work out. It would also keep my mind off the "situation". So off to the gym it was. I found the gym to be fine. I have stayed at hotels with much smaller gyms and I just make do with what they have. This gym is mostly dedicated to cardiovascular and aerobic activities. There are lots of treadmills, stair steppers, bikes etc. They do have dumbbells and I did use them creatively to get in some good workouts. My strategy or the Bonine really worked. I did not feel as bad at the gym. After the gym I went back to the room. Then the room attendants came. I asked them to please clean the room while I was in it. I would be sprawled out on the couch while they worked. With the door partially opened.....Olivia was walking by and spotted me on the couch. I explained to her the morning's events. She looked sympathetic. Olivia and I agreed to go to Compass Rose for lunch at 12:30 pm. I went to pickup Olivia at her suite at 12:30 pm and well, apparently she had not been feeling well since she left me earlier in the day. She too posted of this. Well, off to lunch we went. We both ordered light lunches! What else can you do during a sea day???? How about a Quick Fix Facial at the Judith Jackson Spa? That's exactly what I did. It was some sort of Lavender facial - 20 minutes. I looked at the menu for the facials and was not that impressed from a man's perspective. They really don't have any that are specifically for men. So the best I could find was the "Quick Fix". I kind of needed one based on the days earlier experiences....The facial is 20 minutes and is performed in one of their spa treatment rooms (the pie shaped ones described in my first impressions). Scrubs, lotions, etc and after 20 minutes I was done - $40. You know I really liked my Pual Gauguin experience better for the facial. The Paul Gauguin has the Clarita Spa and they have a 55-minute treatment for $65. I think the Clarita Spa is a better deal - at least for the facials. I think I took a nap after my facial and later got ready for Dinner with Jos Coppers - Hotel Director at Signatures and the Seven Seas Society party at 6:45 pm in the Constellation Theater. Invited guests included Dave and Judy, Ngaire and Ken, Celine - Hotel Concierge, Olivia and myself. We needed to RSVP with Reception! Pictures 191 - 199 in Chilean Fjords 1A album (I really like pic 199 - we were a really good looking group!). Dinner was at 7:30 pm and we all met at the restaurant. The attire for the ship that night was informal and well that worked out great because we were eating at Signatures, which has the same dress code. First was the Seven Seas Society Party in the Constellation Theater - Pin Provided. Funny thing about the pin is that I could not get the clasp off. So I went to the party with pin in hand until I met the Captain and Brian O'Brien. I asked if they could help. Brian could not get it off either, reached into his pocket and took out a new one. He was having troubles getting it out of the plastic and the Captain took out a buck knife and it came out. Brian still had a bit of a problem but managed to unclasp it and then put it on my suit. The party was crowded. There were about 270 people out of 440, which were Seven Seas Society members. There were appetizers and Caviar served. There were Bar Hosts and Hostesses passing out champagne as well as taking orders. I grabbed some shrimp and sat next to Ken and Ngaire for the event. I ordered a few Grey Goose Cosmopolitans. They were pretty good (but small - see next paragraph). Signatures gorgeous restaurant - more intimate than Compass Rose - Reservation only. See detailed description under First Impressions part of review. So I cannot remember exactly what I ordered that night but I know it was beef for the main - because out of 6 nights I had beef 5 nights and I believe most were Filets. The food was amazing as was service; never did I have to reach for salt or pepper to add to the flavor of the food. I thought it was quite good. Comparing to Apicius on the Paul Gauguin - I thought it was much better. This is the Le Cordon Bleu at Sea restaurant whereas the Apicius is the two Star Michelin Chef Restaurant by Jeanne Pierre Vigato. All I can say is that it was great as was the service. I had a great time with the company at dinner, Celine, Concierge, was to my left and Judy, to my right. Both great dinner companions. There was a little camera disaster at the table......I'll leave it photo - 195. Oh and I might as well add this here, the martini glasses on the Mariner - yes the whole ship - they are small, I mean small. These must be about 5 ounces total. This surprised me as the Paul Gaguin had hearty sized glasses - maybe 7 - 9 ounces. After dinner? I believe Olivia and I ran to the Constellation Theater to see the last part of the Jason Chase show. He's a comedian and sings. From what I saw - he was quite good. I actually met him a few times on board. Very nice gentleman. After that Olivia and I went briefly to Stars Nightclub - a rather sleepy place on the ship.....kind of odd for a nightclub! Anyway, there was a very charming bartender there - Mario photo 200. I think Olivia and I next went to Club.com for a bit to check Cruise Critic then it was bedtime. More later......... Wednesday November 12, 2003 - Puerto Montt, Chilotito Marino, Party in Suite 1000 I forgot to mention the buzz in the computer room on Tuesday afternoon concerning the Canopy Adventure in Puerto Montt. I had arranged for an independent tour to go to the Canopy Adventure by private van with guide for five people. The Canopy Adventure is basically platforms built onto high trees and steel cables that connect the platforms. Guests wear a harness that attaches to the steel cable and they go flying from platform to platform. I had never done this and was really looking forward to it. I convinced a few people to also do this the list included Ken, Michael (countFlorida) and his wife Patty, Dave and myself. This was arranged through Patricia Duffolcq at Travelsur.com. So the buzz in the computer room Tuesday afternoon was that the Canopy Adventure (Radisson's) had been cancelled. A slight panic took over me and I went to the Tour Desk to see if it was Radisson's tour company or the Canopy Adventure itself, which cancelled the trip. Well it was the Canopy Adventure Company that cancelled and not just Radisson. Apparently the owners of the Canopy Adventure had a dispute and started dismantling the Canopy Adventure by taking down the steel cables etc. What to do???? I checked my email and sure enough there was an email from Patricia Duffolcq explaining the situation and offering alternatives, including full cancellation. We decided to do a guided tour of Puerto Montt that Ngaire and Olivia were doing with Travelsur.com. I emailed Patricia back saying explaining that there would be about 6 people coming for the tour of Puerto Montt. I also explained we would be off the ship around 9:00 am by tender after most passengers with Radisson shore excursions had been transported to shore. So I woke up Wednesday morning very excited about basically our only port stop on this mini Chilean Fjords Segment. I started the day with taking pictures of Puerto Montt (pictures located at www.ofoto.com sign in as Cruise@yahoo.com password cc pictures 208-218 in Album - Chilean Fjords 1A although some are pictures of the ship's tenders being lowered, positioned, etc). I then ordered room service. I had the French Toast, Fresh Fruit, Coffee and Orange Juice (picture 207). When I called Room Service and placed the order I was told 30 - 45 minutes. No problem I thought, I'll just start getting ready for the day. I brushed my teeth, shaved, put in contacts etc. in less than 15 minutes so I thought I could jump in the shower....I had 15 - 30 minutes before breakfast. While in the shower I heard a ding dong. I thought, no that can't be....again "ding dong". Well, that time it was loud and clear.....Room Service was at the door. Damn! I put on a towel and ran to the door. I guess this is why my tray was left in my room as in picture 207 as opposed to the usual setup of taking out the coffee table adapter, placing a linen tablecloth down, neatly arranging all items on the table etc....I guess I did have a rather impatient look on my face when I opened the door for the Room Service guy. The French Toast, by the way is amazing, it's thick and has raisins in it. I had it a few times for breakfast - quite delicious! So I was ready for my shore excursion about 8:00 am. I called Patricia Duffolcq at Travelsur.com from my cell phone to make sure she was aware of the changes identified in my email and to let her know that we would be basically the last off the ship. She said no problem and that she would meet us as planned just outside the gates to the ports. I met up with the group (Dave, Judy, Ngaire, Ken, Olivia) before 9:00 am on Deck 5 near Reception. We were told that tender tickets would be issued for passengers without Radisson shore excursions and to wait in the Mariner Lounge. Basically, tickets were not needed and we were told we could take the next tender, which we did. We boarded the tenders from deck 4 (which is where the doctor's office is). We tendered over to the port and then walked up to the area where all the Radisson tour companies were. This is pictures 221 -223. This is where Lyn was talking to the local reporter for the Puerto Montt newspaper. Lyn speaks perfect Spanish and explained that we were here to do a shore excursion and go to Chilotito Marino restaurant where they have a web cam that our families and friends will be watching us from 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm local time. We continued out the port area and met up with our guide Patricia Duffolcq from Travesur.com. Patricia is pictured in photos 224 and 225, although these pictures do not do her justice. Patricia escorted our group to her van with a driver. Lyn and her husband Richard were going on a separate tour, also arranged by Patricai at Travelsur.com. The tour for the day was a local tour through Puerto Montt, traveling north through the famous lake district of Chile, pass the Osorrno Volcano, to the Petrohue Waterfalls, to Emerald Lake and Puerto Varas. The high point of this tour in my opinion is Petrohue Waterfalls. Pictures 275 to 305 at ofoto.com. The colors are amazing. Look carefully at the pictures - the water is aqua and emerald in color. We probably spent about 30 minutes here. We ran into the Radisson tour as well. This was definitely a better way to travel with a private guide and van rather than the Motor Coach way. We continued on to Emerald Lake pictures 306-320. This area of Chile is really beautiful and green. There are mountains and volcanoes, streams and rivers. This would be a nice place to spend a little more time in to explore. We really did not get to see the Osorno Volcano because it was a cloudy/foggy day. We continued on to Puerto Varas. Our guide Patricia, and her family live in Puerto Varas. We stopped for a bit in the local town and went to the Travelsur store - picture 328. This store is owned and operated by Patricia and her husband. I'll put it in here that Patricia arranges all sorts of travel in Chile. She arranged for car pickups at Santiago airport fro Olivia and I, local tours of Santiago, transportation and tour to Valparaiso. Patricia is also an expert fly fisher. Her family owns lodges that fly fishers frequent. She can arrange this and other adventures in Chile. Her website is at www.travelsur.com We stayed in town for a bit. Olivia and I had coffee. We then went to Chilotito Marino in Puerto Montt. Chilotito Marino - Photos located also in a separate album - Chilotito Marino!!!!!! Below are some threads from the Cruise Critic message board, which captures the anticipation of the event and the event itself (web cam) as well as the local newspaper article and picture. http://messages.cruisecritic.com/2/OpenTopic?a=tpc&s=927093444&f=797097554&m=8113045057&r=9543002557#9543002557 http://messages.cruisecritic.com/2/OpenTopic?q=Y&a=tpc&s=927093444&f=797097554&m=2783084657&p=1 http://messages.cruisecritic.com/2/OpenTopic?a=tpc&s=927093444&f=797097554&m=9093089657&r=4083000757#4083000757 Patricia dropped us off and made sure we found the restaurant. She wanted to get home so that she could watch the web cam event on her computer. There is a lot of information in the threads above; I will highlight a few things only: This was truly a special event that I will always remember. It was more than just the anticipation, the fact that this was the only web cam on the Internet in Puerto Montt, it was the warm, friendly, family like feeling that we all felt when we were there. We were not just patrons, not just guests, but felt like part of a large family. The food was truly amazing. I don't eat a lot of seafood, so I had the amazing and still talked about Salmon! There were two kinds. One was butter and the other was an onion and potato version. One thing I noticed was that I wanted empanadas. They were not on the menu as this was basically a seafood restaurant .....they went and got them from another restaurant in the same location just for us. There was music. They had arranged for a local singer to come in. There was dancing, lots of smiles and laughing. It was a truly amazing event. Giovanni presented a plaque to Lyn, a hand-embroidered cap to Richard and key chains to the rest of us (with our names on them!). While there we also had some Chilean wines, Pisco sours and after lunch aperitifs. Oh, and the local reporter with a photographer arrived to take notes and pictures of the event. We were there just 2 hours. At 5:00 pm we all headed back to the ship after saying our good byes to our new friends at Chilotito Marino. Back on ship by 5:30 pm and I went to the Club.com to read Cruise Critic. I printed out the threads from the day's event and noted 109 posts and over 1000 reads in about 2 hours! I printed out the thread and gave to Ngaire to bring to the party in her and Ken's suite - 1000. The party was at 6:30 in suite 1000. I had to hurry and get ready and was at suite 1000 a few minutes past 6:30 pm. The suite was beautiful - about 500 square feet with a 100 square foot balcony. There is a Living Room area, dining area, walk in closet and bathroom, and sleeping area. Basically, aside from the walk in closet and bathroom, it is a very open floor plan - great for entertaining! Pictures 385 - 396. There was a bar and bar tender, plenty of appetizers. The Captain, Hotel Director, Cruise Director were also present - I was quite impressed! Ngaire and Ken hosted a great party. Dinner was at Compass Rose. I know Olivia and I were there, not sure whom else we ate with because I did not take any pictures! Dinner was great.....as they all were at Compass Rose and I know I had probably the Filet Mignon. There was one night in Compass Rose where they had a mustard type sauce that went along with the Filet - perhaps this was the night. After dinner - not sure what we did - most likely to Club.com to read and post more about the Chilotito Marino. More later.... Thursday November 13, 2003 - Day at Sea, Todd Cosmo Party, Latitudes and Jackpots! Well the morning started with foggy, cloudy weather. I was up around 8:00 am and the ships lecturer Terry Breen was on the TV on the channel with the Cam View. She was talking about the Chilean Fjords. I believe this is the day that one or two penguins were spotted on both sides of the ship swimming. See photos at www.ofoto.com login as cruise@yahoo.com password: cc and go to album Chilean Fjords 2. I took photos 1-11 that morning (oh I will put it here, that using a digital camera it's so easy to take a lot of pictures. Not necessary to carry all that film along etc. I remember hat last time I had a 35 mm camera, almost 2 years ago, I would take about 8 - 10 rolls with me. I think you are a little more conscious of how many pictures you are taking with 35 mm because you need to stick another roll in every 24 or 36 pictures. Digital....well, I keep shooting for 500 then replace). These photos I think are pretty interesting with the fog and clouds hanging on the mountains and the gray tones in these pictures. Photo number 9 is my infamous penguin sighting - I think! I swear those little white and black birds on the island look like penguins. I blew up the picture as well, and those little birds do look like penguins. That morning I had Room Service and I am positive I was interrupted doing something like shaving when they arrived. I can never tell when they will show up. Sometimes I had an omelet, sometimes the French toast an only once the Eggs Benedict. I had a manicure after breakfast at the Judith Jackson spa. This was called a Lavender Manicure - $30 (seems high). Seemed like a regular manicure to me, but I am not an expert in this area. After the manicure it was off to the gym. After the gym it was lunchtime with Olivia. I think we went to Compass Rose. I really like wait service as opposed to buffets. Earlier in the week I had noticed Ludvic the maitre d' and remembered him from the Paul Gauguin in March. I mentioned to him I recognized him from the Paul Gauguin. At lunch he stopped (he is in photo in the Ludvic album at ofoto, this was during the muster drill - he is on the left) by and we talked about the Paul Gauguin. Apparently he was on the Paul Gauguin for 3 months to change the alternating Apicius set menu approach to a single menu approach. He asked my opinion of Apicius. I explained I had eaten there twice and had actually been to the Apicius in Paris in September 02. I explained I did not think the Paul Gauguins version compared to the restaurant in Paris. After lunch I went to the Reception area to ask for a converter plug for my computer. I was told they did not have any. I thought this odd. Not one on the ship? I pressed for a better answer. I was told in the rooms I could easily plug in my computer. I agreed, but I wanted the converter plug so that I could go to the Observation lunge to work on my computer. The Receptionist contacted engineering and a converter plug appeared! I did return the plug at the completion of my trip. So I went to the Observation lunge - virtually empty after lunch. I ordered a cappuccino and began work on the pre part to this review - the Santiago land portion. I spent about an hour and a half up there. I ran into Nathan - the bar manager at the bar in the Observation Lounge. He said everything was a go for the Todd Cosmo party in suite 1000 (Ngaire and Ken's). I asked about the preparations and indicated some people might not drink cosmos, and asked for wine glasses and champagne glasses - not a problem said Nathan. It thought that was great service by the way! The fact he saw me and made sure everything was taken care of for the party that night. I dropped off my computer to the room and went around taking some more pictures of the ship I took some pictures of Latitudes (numbers 12 - 17) as it was decorated for a South American theme. I ran into Ludvic at the Maitre D'station and asked about reservations at Latitudes for that night. No problem. I had the reservation made for four. I went back to get ready for the Todd Cosmo Party at 6:30 pm. I arrived a few minutes to Suite 1000 to check on the preparation for the Todd Cosmo party. Ngaire and Ken had graciously extended an offer to host the Todd Cosmo party. I gladly accepted, as their suite was much larger than mine. The Hotel had set up a bar, similar to the night before in the corner of the room near the walk-in closet. I brought the makings for a Cosmo (alcohol wise that is). I brought Grey Goose (purchased and donated by Olivia), Contreau purchased at Dallas Airport Duty Free. I also brought over a bottle of Chardonnay purchased by Olivia at the Veramonte winery outside of Santiago, as well as a bottle of the standard Radisson Champagne. Everything else was there and ready - Cranberry Juice, fresh limes and plenty of ice and appetizers (shrimp and other items) The party began promptly at 6:30 pm. 15 guests, including myself attended. Everyone had Cosmos. And not just one! I had a blast. I did a few demos during the party and Ken got behind the bar at one point (photo 40) and did the Todd Cosmo recipe as well! Oh what fun! We did a group shot (Carl and Dale arrived later and were not in the group shot). Other pictures during the party - numbers 24-41. Off to our dinner at Latitudes with Dave, Judy and Olivia. OK, I will admit it right here.....I knew better and asked anyway and was told "no". I was wrong. So we all get to dinner, sit down, menus are presented when it occurred to me - this is not going to work! Earlier in the week when Olivia and I were touring the ship we took a look at the menu - it was not going to work for me because it had Sea Bass and Veal as the mains. I don't eat either. Why - Chilean Sea Bass is over harvested and I have a problem with veal. I completely forgot. Oh well, the waiter comes and I do my attempt at getting another filet out of Compass Rose. The waiter sends over the Manager. I explained I wanted a Filet from Compass Rose (next door). I was told no because then everyone would do this. Fine, give me a plate of empanadas as my main I said. I enjoyed the meal there and the service was great. They served Veramonte wine as well (from that winery outside of Santiago - a nice touch!). After dinner??? Off to the Casino! Olivia and I went off to the Casino to try our luck. I put a $20 into a quarter slot and began playing. It was an interesting machine, if you got a certain combination on one line, you go to this big wheel and watch it spin until it lands on a certain number of quarters. Casino pictures 44 - 48. On the same $20 I hit a $160 jackpot - which I tool to the cashier and took the money. I went back and used the remaining quarters and hit an $80 jackpot. A lady came around and said she had been playing that machine for 3 days prior. All I could say is "I love this machine!!!!!". I cashed in the $80 as well and called it a night! Friday November 14, 2003 Day at Sea - My First Glaciers Sorry about the delay in posting my review segments....holidays, out of town guests and lot's to do at work. My day always starts with pictures it seems on this cruise! There was so much to see and this is where it became really interesting. This is where and when I saw my first glacier! (Pictures at www.ofoto.com sign in as cruise@yahoo.com and password cc). Picture 49 was how I began my morning. Gray, chilly (just about 50 degrees Fahrenheit). I took a few more pictures then caught a glimpse of my first glacier about 25 minutes later! I was AMAZED! Picture 53 is the Pius XI Glacier from a distance. This must have been around 8:00 am. I could not believe the color - even from this distance I could see the powder blue coloring even though it was still kind of dark and gray out. Then there was my first little piece of floating ice....picture 54 and it too had a distinct color to it - almost aqua/powder blue. Also look at picture 63....these floating pieces of the glacier glow! AMAZING! As we got closer to Pius XI there was more floating ice. I believe this glacier was 3 miles across and 26 miles deep. So since we were quickly approaching my first glacier experience I quickly ordered room service, got dressed and was up to the Observation Lounge as soon as I could - sporting Down Jacket, Scarf, gloves etc! I entered the Observation Lounge about 8:30 am or so and was amazed at how many people were there - it has to be about half the ship or about 200 people. This was definitely the place to be to watch this event, however, the place was not necessarily prepared for this crowd to descend upon it. There were only about two waiters working the area. There were danishes/pastries and different coffee posts set up. The coffee kept running out or they kept running out of cups.....but then again, everyone was there to see Pius XI. The observation Lounge was a great setting/location because you could go outside on the deck and take pictures for awhile and view the glacier then go back in to warm up and get coffee (well sort of!). I ran into everyone up in the Observation Lounge - Ngaire and Ken, Olivia, Dave and Judy, Joe and Marylyn, and Shirley. Ken took some pictures of me 86-88. Olivia ran up to make sure I had pictures taken with me and Pius XI - pictures 93-95. Olivia was all bundled up - Photo 102! The glacier was very impressive. If you look at the pictures, you can see two stripes. This is caused by the ice churning/carving into the land. The blue of the glaciers is caused by compression of the ice so that no oxygen exits in it. The captain used the Pods to turn the ship 360 degrees so that everyone could see the glacier from their suite or from anywhere on the ship. Pretty cool! Yes there are lots of pictures of this glacier. This is because it was the first and the other reason is that I was looking for the sun to hit the glacier to light it up some more - pictures 145 - 151, 155 -157, and 159 - 161. Then there were the pictures of me in my room beginning around 162.....I used a tripod! Then we left and proceeded through the Chilean Fjords. The scenery was amazing - snow capped mountains, waterfalls, islands, floating ice etc. I am sure after the glacier adventure I was off to the gym. Had to do my best to keep the weight off! Lunch on Thursday was at La Veranda. I had lunch with Olivia. We decided on La Veranda for variety. It's buffet style and I prefer to be served, but it was different. The one thing about this restaurant is that the food buffet areas seem a bit crowded. A little too cramped. Food and service were great. We occasionally ran into other glacier along the way that did not meet the water - see picture 208. Later in the afternoon we came upon Amalia Glacier - photos 215 to 224. This was a Semi-Formal night and I wore a suit. I met up with Ngaire and Ken in their suite for drinks. I took some pictures of the glacier in Ngaire and Ken's suite - pictures 246 to 268. This glacier too was very impressive. It looked like light blue cotton candy and extended for miles up the mountain. Dinner was at Compass Rose with Olivia, Ngaire and Ken, and Lynn and Richard. Food, Service and Company were great! Of course I had a filet for dinner - cooked to perfection and just my size! I cannot remember what we did after dinner! Oh well, it's possible I turned in early. More later. Saturday November 15, 2003 - More Glaciers, Webbed Foot Boobies and the SHHHHHH Incident The day starts off like most of the rest. Room Service, pictures (www.ofoto.com sign in as cruise@yahoo.com and password cc). Pictures 314 - 322 in the Chilean Fjords 2 album was the morning view. Well then I was off to the gym, with my camera because we were scheduled to be in the Gabriel Passage by 11:30 am (the captain was always early I think we arrived about 11:00 am in the middle of my workout). With Terry Breen beginning to describe the Gabriel Passage I decided to go up to the Observation Lounge and take more pictures of this event. I honestly cannot remember exactly why this area was important....maybe Ngaire, Ken or Olivia can add that part. What I do know is that there is a cross placed here (look at photo 336 it's easily seen here - look at the pics before and you will see me in my gym attire including shorts....it was a bit cold, but I was in the middle of a workout and we were early!). The cross has been replaced, I believe 3 times by the Chileans. After Gabriel's Passage and the gym I proceeded to take some more pictures of the different areas on the ship and more pictures of the wonderful scenery through the Chilean Fjords. Then it was time to get ready for lunch. I took a few more pictures of myself with the tripod in the room. Picture 374 (and a few more up to the 380's) is another one of those glaciers we passed that did not meet the water. Pictures 376 and 377 is Olivia waving from her suite's balcony. Lunch was at Compass Rose with Olivia, Lynn and Richard. You can't beat this place for lunch. Menus, wait staff and great company! During lunch we were talking about the rooms and Lynn and Richard wanted to see mine - they were in a Penthouse and wanted to compare and contrast. While there, I noticed some little birds adjacent to the teak on the balcony. I mentioned this and Lynn was the first out the door to save these little Webbed Feet Boobies. She asked for towels to wrap the little guys up (pictures 389 - 391). I called reception they said they would send someone up for the birds. Apparently these little guys had been there for a while. While waiting we decided to go see Lynn and Richard's room across the hall. We brought the birds with us. Pictures 399 - 400 were in Lynn and Richard's suite. I went back to my suite to meet the person from the ship who was to collect the birds. Found him and brought him to Lynn and Ricahrd's suite. He took the little guys to Deck 8. That's all he said....have no idea what they have going on down on deck 8. Pictures 402 - 405, 408, 416 - 417 and more in the 420's are of other glaciers that do not meet the sea. We seemed to be in glacier central now. Picture 409 is Olivia on her balcony. Pictures 411 - 415 this glacier actually touched the water and you can see ice floating in the water. And now we get to photo album Chilean Fjords 3 which starts off with the approach to the Agostini Glacier. There was a lot of ice on the approach to this glacier and the water was emerald colored. In this area you can also see a lot of waterfalls, although small. Pictures 1 through 49 are f this area. Look at the color of the floating ice in pictures 24 - 25....amazing powder blue! Photos 26 and 27 are interesting. It's a sea lion lying on the floating ice. He does not realize that a 49,000-ton ship is moving right in his direction basically until we were within a few feet of it. Dinner this evening was at Compass Rose with Olivia, Richard and Lynn. We were at a table adjacent to Ngaire, Ken, Dave, Judy, Michael and Patricia. Yes I had a Filet, Grey Goose Cosmo and red wine with dinner. Food and Service were great (no Denny's here!). After dinner it was Club.com. This can be such a fun place to hang out at night. It seemed like everyone was there this night. Lynn, Olivia, Ngaire, Ken, Dave, Michael and myself. Anyway, we were all looking at Cruise Critic, reading emails etc. I remember Olivia and I were over near Michael and we were reading posts, laughing and having a good time when out of know where this man (I nicknamed him - affectionately - gold teeth) "Shhed" us. I wasn't sure if he was kidding. Olivia asked him if he was kidding and he was not. Then another person shed us. It was rather funny. This place is not a library.....it's an internet cafe! Anyway, after a few incidents of shhing we took picture 92......we were laughing pretty hard by this time about the shhing! Then it was off to the suite to finish packing. Nice treat about this mini segment was that our bags did not have to be outside the suite by midnight! More later..... Sunday November 16, 2003 - More Glaciers, Ushuaia, and the long trip home My morning started out with the view off my balcony in photo #55 in Chilean Fjords 3 (www.ofoto.com, sign in as cruise@yahoo.com and use password cc) a glacier! Photos 55-60 are of this glacier. I did not really know we would have a glacier sighting first thing in the morning. It was kind of cool. Also, the Captain did the pod thing and did 360s for a while in front of this glacier. So this was the last day on the ship. I ordered room service and finished packing. Again, bags did not have to be out the night before. This felt like being in a hotel. All we had to do is call for a bellman when the bags we ready. Photos 61 - 69 are further views of this beautiful area as we make our way to Ushuaia. After breakfast and finishing the packing I was off to the Observation Lounge to get some pictures. Photo 70 is the flat panel screen with the location of the ship. You can see we were almost to the Southern most point. Again I could find just about everyone up on deck 11 inside or outside the Observation Lounge. Photos 88-91 are of the town of Ushuaia. Prior to disembarking around 11:30 am we had lunch up at the pool bar. Dave, Judy, Ngaire, Ken, Lynn, Richard and Olivia and I. This was the only place that served lunch at that time and we were disembarking at noon to catch our 2:00 pm flight to Buenos Aires. Lunch was Burgers, Chicken Sandwiches etc. We kept trying to get into the sun on the pool deck because it was probably in the low 50's. The pool staff brought over blankets for us to keep us warm while we enjoyed our lunches. A nice touch! Disembarkation - a breeze....there were only 4 passengers disembarking in Ushuaia - Ken, Ngaire, Olivia and I. We waited for the ship to clear formal access to the port (or whatever it's called). Then we were allowed to disembark. All our friends were there to say good-bye. As we were walking down the pier we ran into the Captain. He was surprised we were disembarking here....because it was not a scheduled point for disembarking. This was part of the min-segment that Ngaire had carved out of this larger South American adventure. Ngaire, Ken, Olivia and I took 3 cabs to the airport, mainly due to the size of the cabs and how much luggage we had (I swear it's the shoes and the down jacket, sweaters and sweatshirts for this trip!). Cute little airport just 5 minutes from the port by taxi. The rest was the 30 hours to get home. From my post from the ship on Cruise Critic: God I hope I spelled it right in the title! Anyway....we are about 2 hours from Ushuaia where there will be ONLY 4 passengers disembarking. Guess who they are??????? Ngaire, Ken, Olivia and myself! We then begin our adventures home. We are all on the same flights until Miami where Olivia is off to Philadelphia I think, then driving home from there. Ken, Ngaire and I then continue on to Dallas where they get off.....then it's just me on the way to Burbank. WHAT A LONG DAY! But I must say WELL WORTH IT! This has been an amazing trip in more than one way. It was a number of things: The people, the ship, the INCREDIBLE scenery along the way....For all those considering Alaska.....I kept hearing all throughout this adventure that this was more incredible than Alaska (I have never been to Alaska).....Do the Chilean Fjords! Amazing! From Olivia when she got home talking about the deviations: All guesses are wrong!!! We flew out of Ushuaia at 2:00 and got to BA around 5:30 or so. Then Ngaire and Ken found out about a direct flight to Dallas that just started last week. They gave up their Miami seats, and then it was announced that the Dallas direct flight was delayed, so they switched back to the 10 p.m. Miami flight that left for Dallas at about 9 this morning. Todd never got on that one, because there wasn't an aisle seat, so he went BA to New York and then to LA. I just stayed on my regular route, and all was on time. For me, 26 hours of travel time after getting off the ship. Wait for Todd's great pictures, especially of the restaurant. The warmth of the wonderful family at Chilotito comes shining through so brightly; you are going to love them! Oh, and the scenery!!!! And when I finally got home: I am home! I just got in from LAX. My total travel time was around 31 hours! YIKES! It started getting off the ship at 12 pm and taking that flight from Ushuaia to Buenos Aires. Then that deviation to New York then NY to LAX! 31 hours but worth every minute! I still have the pre portion to post about (Santiago) and I began that write up on the ship....I see if I can get it finished this week. This was an amazing trip. The scenery was incredible. The ship exceeded my expectations. But what really made the trip was the people I was traveling with. We had such a great time. I'd like to add special thanks to Olivia for taking great care of me on this trip and to Ngaire for carving out this special segment. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2003
Review of Cruise aboard MS Seven Seas Voyager November 2003 My wife and I have previously cruised with Holland America (Maasdam & Veendam), Celebrity ( Mercury) and Cunard (QE2). In March of 2003 we were invited on a pre-inaugural ... Read More
Review of Cruise aboard MS Seven Seas Voyager November 2003 My wife and I have previously cruised with Holland America (Maasdam & Veendam), Celebrity ( Mercury) and Cunard (QE2). In March of 2003 we were invited on a pre-inaugural cruise on the brand new Radisson Seven Seas Voyager. We were so impressed that we booked for a one week Western Caribbean cruise in November 2003. We flew to Florida with Virgin, using their premium economy service, 5 days before our cruise and spent a blissful few days at the Hilton Beach resort on Marco Island. EMBARKATION On Sunday the 23rd we drove from Naples to Fort Lauderdale arriving at check-in to find long queues. The link between the laptop check-in computers and the ship was faulty and the signal repeatedly failed, preventing staff from checking passengers in. Although there appeared to be large numbers of RSSC people behind the check-in desks staring at the computers, nobody actually appeared to be able to resolve the problem. Arriving passengers, including ourselves, soon became annoyed at the lack of information, lack of seating, and most of all the lack of anybody willing to explain what was happening! There seemed to be no manual back-up in place in case of just such a crisis. Not what you expect from a 6 star ship! After about an hour of waiting, the link was re-established and we were checked in. THE CABIN We were able to board at around 3.30 and were greeted in the lobby with smiles and a glass of Champagne. We were shown to our cabin on deck 7, where we found our steward and stewardess waiting to greet us. The cabin (suite 743) was beautiful, decorated in muted shades of taupe, beige, mushroom and cream. The sitting area was furnished with a large settee and 2 armchairs, a table that converted into a dining table and sliding doors led to a balcony. This was furnished with 2 chairs and a table. The sitting area was also furnished with a television and DVD player, a writing desk, bookshelves and a fridge, which, at our choice, was stocked with 2 bottles of premium liquor and soft drinks which were replaced daily. Complimentary Champagne, fruit and flowers awaited our arrival. On the in-board side of the room, there was very comfortable queen sized bed, with bedside tables and a built in dressing table. Adjoining this was a good sized walk-in closet, and an excellent marble bathroom with a separate shower and tub and wash basins. The whole cabin had a very spacious feel. The fitments were high quality and there were quite sophisticated lighting options. The wide range of bathroom requisites were from the very excellent Judith Jackson range. We were so impressed with the soaps that we bought quite a large supply from the spa! Towels and towelling robes were plentiful and replaced frequently. The total size of the suite was about 300 sq ft. If one had a criticism, and it's a minor one, more light was needed in the bathroom. THE SHIP Seven Seas Voyager, whilst not the prettiest ship from the exterior is beautiful inside. Understated and elegant, there are no jarring colours and the ambiance is restful and sophisticated. The public rooms are intimate and inviting and the restaurants never feel crowded. The overwhelming impression is one of space! With a passenger load of about 650 for this cruise (the ship only takes 700 when full), the ship never seemed crowded, and one doesn't queue for anything. A good example of this was the lido area. This and the sun deck around the pool seemed to cope with the passenger load easily. For most of our cruise the weather was good so we spent quite a lot of our time by the pool. The smiling stewards were always so willing to move sunbeds where you wanted them, provide limitless supplies of towels and even brought round chilled flannels and complimentary soft drinks unbidden, as well as providing a full bar service. We tended to prefer our chairs on the upper promenade deck overlooking the pool area where we could enjoy the breezes, as well as watch what was going on. The two-deck theatre was very comfortable and well laid out with excellent sight lines and acoustics. There was an assortment of bars and lounges which, again, never seemed to be crowded, but were welcoming and comfortable. The shop served most needs but this was the only area in which we thought the service questionable and a little supercilious. Maybe they are run by concessionaries? Not being smokers, we are sensitive to cigarette smoke, but apart from the cigar room, we were not bothered in any way. All the restaurants are non-smoking. THE FOOD When we were aboard in March during the pre-inaugural voyage we were fairly impressed by the food, but over the first season things had improved enormously. There was a choice of four restaurants, two of which, Signatures and Latitudes, required reservations. Luncheon was served in La Verandah and there was a daily grill on deck by the pool. Teak tables and chairs and parasols were available in the sun for those who wished to dine alfresco. Each morning, breakfast was served in the main Compass Rose restaurant and La Verandah, however we always breakfasted in our cabin. Obviously, the room service choice is more limited than the main restaurants, nevertheless, we found that our breakfasts were beautifully and accurately presented and always piping hot. The table was set up with white linen and the contents of the tray were properly laid out, as opposed to other lines where the tray is just left on the table. Compass Rose The main dining room, the Compass Rose, was first class. We were always able to obtain a table for two, without ever being as asked if we wished to join other people, even when the restaurant was at its busiest. (We heartily dislike sharing, and would not book a ship unless we could be guaranteed a table for two). The dinner menu in the Compass Rose consisted of a choice of hors d'oeuvres, soup, fish, pasta, salad, entrEe and dessert. Alternatively there was a chef's degustation menu. If you found it impossible to choose...which we often did...the waiters could not have been more accommodating. It was possible to change between the menu options and the choice was wide enough for most palates. The quality of the food and service was world class. We did not have one course, which was anything other than top notch. Portions were nouvelle cuisine size, which, given the complexity and richness of some of some of the dishes, was more than enough for our palates. There was a choice of complementary house wines to accompany the meal, and these were most liberally poured. Being European we find some Californian wines too scented for our taste, and upon request, a good quality French or Italian wine was always available. It seemed that on some evenings, the wine waiters went out of their way to tempt us with ever better wines! Service was punctilious while remaining friendly and polite, you really felt that the dining room personnel cared personally whether you were enjoying your meal. The dress code was published in the daily information sheet but generally and somewhat unusually, we noticed that people dressed up rather than down. Signatures: This was the French restaurant run by the Ecole Cordon Bleu de Paris. Having lived in France, I have been lucky enough to have eaten at quite a number of the top-rated restaurants in France and Europe. The meal we had in Signatures ranks up there with the best of them. It is top class French cuisine. We did notice, however, that not all the American guests appreciated either the European flavours and presentation or the portion sizes! We do hope that Radisson does not bow to any pressure to 'Americanize' this restaurant. It is quite simply the best food that we have ever had at sea and it beats the much-vaunted Queens Grill on the QE2 into a poor second. It is always busy and it is worth making a reservation as soon as you have boarded the ship as it books up fast. In order to be fair, each couple is allowed one reservation per 7 days to ensure that everybody gets an opportunity to eat there. The Maitre D' and the waiting staff were particularly charming and helpful and more importantly, informed, and with a degree of warmth not found in France! This was an outstanding culinary experience. Latitudes: This was the other reservation-required restaurant, which served American cuisine. There was one sitting in which diners were invited to table at 7.30pm. The style of the restaurant was such that the kitchen is open and one can watch the chefs prepare the food. We did not eat here, but will undoubtedly try it on a future voyage. La Verandah This was a high quality buffet-style restaurant at breakfast and lunch which became a Mediterranean bistro in the evening. We tended to lunch there on most days and were delighted with the selection, which always included various hot and cold hors d'oeuvres and seafood, with a fish dish, a hot dish of the day and pasta dish - freshly cooked to order. Again waiters carried your tray if required and would go out to the deck barbecue for you if that was your preference. At night, the atmosphere was much more sophisticated, with subdued lighting, full waiter service (you could choose you own hors d'oeuvres if required) and a menu with a wide range of Mediterranean dishes. We ate there on one evening and were delighted. The dress code for this venue was country club casual. From this restaurant double doors opened to an open air after deck, which was set out with high quality teak furniture. One can hardly imagine a more romantic setting for dinner. All the tables both in and outdoors were properly laid with linen napery and good quality glass and silverware. As in every facet of this ship the staff was exemplary. If one had had a long day ashore or could not be bothered to dress, the full Compass Rose menu was also available served course by course in one's suite. We didn't try this as we were only on a short cruise, however on a longer cruise, this may well be a tempting alternative. THE ENTERTAINMENT My wife is a professional Theatre Director and we have often been critical of the entertainment aboard previous cruises. The Voyager was like the curate's egg - good in parts. Two full scale 'production shows' were staged during our cruise by the Peter Terhune Company. One, a brave attempt at a more classical programme, opera for the masses, and the second a standard song and dance show. Unfortunately both used pre-recorded 'clic' tracks for the orchestral backing. The singers sing live but somehow the relationship between the band and the singer is lost and the show suffers as a result. Come on Radisson, think of all the excellent unemployed musicians there are simply gasping for a job. There is no substitute for 'live' music. It raises the quality of performance from mundane to sublime! Provide something different, something classy...to match the classiness elsewhere on board. The shows were attended by only about 200 on each evening so maybe there is a lesson for RSSC to learn here. Other ships in the deluxe class have done away with this type of show and introduced high quality cabaret acts. We did not attend the entertainment on the evenings other than the formal show but anecdotal evidence was that many of our fellow passengers were disappointed, so if this suggestion were to be followed, quality would have to improve. THE PORTS We have been on the Western Caribbean circuit on two previous occasions so we regarded the ship as more of a destination than the ports. We did not go ashore in Progresso as we have visited the stunning ruins at Chichen Itza on a previous cruise. It was quite noticeable that many passengers stayed aboard and enjoyed the facilities of the ship. We spent a morning in Cozumel and we found that the 'hassling' by locals has increased here. There were 5 large cruise ships in port that day so I suppose that it is inevitable that the Mexican charm of the town will be diluted by 5000 or so passengers wandering about. Georgetown Grand Cayman was a charming as ever, but our real favourite was Key West were the ship docked at sunset next to Mallory Square and spent all night and next day in port. Whilst parts of the town are tacky, we like Key West and love wandering about this most un-American town. The weather here, whilst sunny was very windy and chilly. However that did not stop us, and many of our fellow Voyagers from having a great time. DISEMBARKATION We breakfasted in our suite and were ashore by 9am with no hassles. Our luggage was waiting and there were plenty of porters and taxis. Gratuities were included in the cruise fare, so there was none of the last night friendliness from staff who have ignored you during the whole of the cruise only to become your best buddy on the last night of the voyage! With only 650 passengers to process the whole process could not have been easier. CONCLUSION Seven Seas Voyager exceeded our expectations on many levels. The ship is elegant, understated and delivers a cruise that meets even the most demanding passengers' requirements. It is not a 'fun' ship where the 'party animal' reigns supreme and is organized from morning till night. Neither is it 'God's waiting room' where all the passengers are in bed by 9.30! It delivers a highly personalized, top-notch product, which thoroughly deserves the accolades it has received. Sort out the entertainment, and it might just be perfection! Read Less
Sail Date: March 2004
WHO WE ARE First time cruisers. I am in mid-30's, husband is pushing 50. DIWSK. We live in the San Francisco Peninsula, on the North End. My husband is a 4th Generation San Josean, I am Guatemalan and have spent most of my life in the ... Read More
WHO WE ARE First time cruisers. I am in mid-30's, husband is pushing 50. DIWSK. We live in the San Francisco Peninsula, on the North End. My husband is a 4th Generation San Josean, I am Guatemalan and have spent most of my life in the San Francisco Peninsula area. We both love to travel; each of us has visited Europe, South America, North America, Central America, and the Far East. Our travel style is one where we like to spend time in a particular locale or city; we each do not like to 'city hop'. We tend to stay in 4 to 5 star properties and travel business class, but only if we can use existing points or mileage points to achieve. If need be, we can travel on a budget. We like luxury at a deal, and as many of you know, there are a lot of resources available to this end. Other lines we considered for our first cruise were Celebrity and Silversea. We liked RSSC's value proposition: not having to pay gratuities, open seating at the restaurants, a smaller, all-suite, all-balcony ship, and fine dining in multiple venues with free wine. Our expectations of the cruise were to provide us with quality couple time in an environment that was luxurious at the right price. We weren't necessarily going because we wanted to party or to see Broadway-level shows. Mexico wasn't even a big "must see" destination for us; if the Mariner had left Los Angeles and been out at sea all the time, that would have been just fine for us EMBARKATION AND DEBARKATION Very efficient, pain free. No crowds, no rushing. People greeting you as you come on, people saying goodbye as you come off. So civilized it makes you appreciate it even more. INITIAL SHIP IMPRESSION This ship is still 3 years new, and does not show any wear or have any smells. They keep her as immaculate as you can keep a ship at sea. Few indications of rust were seen; any spots seemed to be taken care of immediately or when possible (we noticed this in public areas or unused suites). EXTERIOR The Mariner is a lovely ship to look at, and is gleaming white with discreet blue trim and nicely proportioned with wonderful lines; she looks swift and sleek. I read somewhere about some purists grousing on how 'ugly' the all-suite ships seem to them, but quite frankly, they can keep the portholes to themselves. Even the way they have tucked the lifeboats/tenders away on the Mariner's deck is clever. INTERIOR The interior of the Mariner has been well thought out and has been tastefully done. Nothing garish, clashing, cheap, or overdone. The color scheme (mainly neutrals and dark blues) and the minimality of dEcor provides a soothing, harmonious ambiance. A lot of woods and natural fabrics. The ship is also very bright, with a lot of natural lighting, and airy, giving the impression of open space. The Atrium is a wonderful focal point for the ship and again, the use of natural light pervades. The artwork, in our opinion was good to very good for a public space. THE SUITE Our suite, a category H on the port side, was ready a little before 2:30 p.m. and it was every bit as superb as we imagined it. It is well designed and every available space used ingeniously. Again, a neutral palette pervades, and a lot of natural wood cabinetry and crown molding. Everything was spotless. The fabrics used on the main drapes were rich and heavy, providing absolute darkness when pulled. The balcony also has a set of privacy drapes (the gauze like ones). Again, we noticed that RSSC did not skimp on materials: the main drapes overlapped generously. You can pull the drapes between the sleeping and the sitting area, and it provides absolute privacy between the two spaces. There is a vanity area with good lighting, a covered box of tissue and a drawer where the hairdryer lives. An round ottoman which provides seating and the wastebasket are tucked underneath. The balcony was a very nice size and the plastic chairs and table did not bother me as much as I thought it would. Neither did the visible spaces around the partition (about 2.5 inches by my guess). We liked how 'far down' we were on the ship because we could really see details in the ocean that perhaps people further up would not (schools of fish, for example). The desk, AV and cabinet area opposite the couch and coffee table are well designed, and I liked the backlights provided. Speaking of lighting, you could go as bright or as dark as you wanted anywhere in the suite, controls are located everywhere. Our requested in-bar set up of Grey Goose Vodka was waiting for us, although we thought the 1 liter bottle was a bit generous. There was a bottle of Seven Seas Champagne being chilled in a bucket, waiting for us to pop the cork. There was a green orchid stem in a tall square bud vase, and a bowl of fresh fruit, with a setup of a plate, knife and napkin ready. The desk area had a green leather inlay. There was a leather binder with ship information, writing paper and postcards and room service forms. A notepad and pen were near the phone, as were an ashtray (never seemed to be used...and by the way, if it ever was, there was never a hint of smoke in our suite) and a card with our room attendants names (Maria and Jun Jun). There was also a copy of the RSSC Magazine, as well as a copy of the daily paper, Passages. The TV has several channels, Channel 01 pertaining to the menus, ship crew, service hours, etc. Channel 02 is the Bow Cam with a Date and Time runner at the bottom, it plays classical music. Channel 03 is a GPS of sorts, it shows where the ship is on a map and gives knot/wind speeds. Channel 04 has upcoming Port Information and Radisson Itinerary information, including the other ships. At least 3 channels are dedicated to current movie releases (on this particular cruise, they included "School of Rock" "Something has got to Give" "Master and Commander"), a schedule which is given to you in your desk area, there is one 'PBS' type of channel which also changes programming daily. CNN and ESPN were also available. There is no CD/DVD capability in the suite, we brought our own CD player and tunes. It would have been nice to have at least one music video type channel (VH1 classic?). The closet space is generous and the wood hangers were a nice detail. The safe is pretty much like ones you see at first rate hotels, easy to use. There is a large sized umbrella, a shoe horn, two thick towel robes, a set of laundry bags/slips, two life vests, a shoe mitt, a pair of pool towels, a "Privacy Please" and a"Service Please" door hangers. We loved all the wood drawer space in the closet. Our 7 pieces of luggage were quickly disgorged of their contents (resting on a RSSC logo tarp on our bed) and everything fit into the closet/drawer space (there is also a set of drawers underneath the TV). Once done, we found out that all our luggage fit underneath our bed, no need to have to put in storage! The only item that I flunked in our suite was the shoe rack; hopelessly useless, even for shoes with heels. The few shoes we put in there kept sliding off. Most of my shoes are in dust bags, so I just piled them up in a corner. The bathroom is a nice size, with all the wonderful white marble and light tan marble trim. A set of up towels, a cotton/q-tip jar and sanitary bags (these were in the cabinet) were provided. The towels were thick and had nice napping. The bath towels were generously sized. The Mariner is still using the Judith Jackson Spa "Citresse" amenities: 2 hand soaps, 1 large bar soap, 1 shampoo, 1 conditioner, 1 shower gel, 1 body lotion (plus 2 shower caps and a mending kit). These are a wonderful citrus aroma (then again, I'm partial to all things citrus), however if citrus is not your thing, you should BYOS (bring your own stuff). The room gets turned down each night; everything is fluffed up, cleaned, replaced and a turndown chocolate placed on your beside table. The suite's small foyer has a cap rack and the temperature controls (we found the room temperature perfect at all times), the external doorway has a doorbell. The door itself has a clip which is very practical and nicely coordinated with the ship logo on it. EATING VENUES One of the Mariner's main delights is having so many dining options, with varying cuisine styles. All feature top notch services and distinct ambiances: POOL GRILL As it names indicates, this is at the pool area. This is the most casual of the eating venues, and its color scheme is green. You eat in the pool area, at teak tables. It is only open for lunch hours. Here is where you can get a burger or hot dog, fries (always crisp!), basic salad, pre-made sandwiches and cookies. In addition to this, there is a themed lunch buffet everyday. For seating/service, you pick a table and if you are ordering from the grill, you give your order to a waiter standing at the grill area and your table number. Your grill order is brought out to you. Drink orders are taken by the roving staff. Everything else is pretty much self serve. LA VERANDA This restaurant is on deck 11 aft, spanning both sides and the rear balcony. The room is done in neutrals and greens, with art deco style posters. This is the Mariner's version of the full service buffet, open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The servers sport dark green shirts with ship plans on them. We did not have any dinner here, so I can't comment on it. The only thing I can vouch for is that in your daily Passages paper, it tells you what the theme of the night is (e.g. one night was billed as "Italian Steakhouse"). We did about half of our lunches here. There is always a lot of wait staff around ready to take your plate and walk with you to your table (eating alfresco on the aft balcony is the way to go, if the weather permits) and the bar staff quickly delivers drinks or coffee to you. Even though my husband does not like buffets (I'm a little less squirrelly on this subject), we ate lunch at La Veranda a lot. We found the quality to be consistently very good to exceptional. Their buffet could pass for a good restaurant's served platters, anytime! COMPASS ROSE Compass Rose is the largest of the Mariner's restaurants and the most all around wonderful (Signatures is close, but they are reservation and dinner only so you can't really compare). It is on deck 5 and spans both sides of the ship. But don't let the size fool you...it is an elegant space with an equally elegant set up. You can have breakfast (see my comment for La Veranda), lunch and dinner here. The most marvellous feature of Compass Rose (and Latitudes, although they are tasting menu style so perhaps it does not count, and Signatures, but then again the French are not into super-sizing) are the portion sizes. They give you just the right amount. If you feel you are not getting enough, you are free to order as many appetizers, salads, entrees and desserts as you want. You can order from the a la carte menu or from the menu degustation, or from both. Dishes were always prepared right: vegetables crisp when they should be crisp, medium rare is medium rare, food accented (not drowned) in sauces and the right level of seasonings. However, like some other fine restaurants I've dined at, sometimes things are a bit on the salty side, most notably with the soups. Not inedible, just a pinch salty. I think the current mode of using a little Fleur de Sel permeates a lot of cooking these days. Everything is beautifully presented with attention to detail. Nothing that I had felt like it was not freshly prepared. Dishes arrived at perfect temperatures and it was a joy to cup the aromas and inhale. A variety of breads get offered, and the butter is lightly iced and shaped like little flowers. The wines, a mix of French and Californian (with Chilean and Australian ones rounding out) change every day, and nothing cheap tasting was ever poured. The daily wines were so good, we never felt the need to refer to the Reserve List. We did note that among the reserve were Silver Oak Cabernet (both Alexander Valley and Napa Valley), Tiganello (an Italian Red) and Santa Margaherita Pinot Grigio. RSSC isn't skimpy with the pouring either, the wine glasses are constantly being refilled. I won't go into much detail as to what sort of things get served up, because they are as varied as variety themselves. It was tough to decide which was our favorite, Compass Rose, or the next restaurant... SIGNATURES Signatures, the Cordon Bleu Restaurant, is worthy of its fame. We had 3 dinners here, two from the same menu, one from the new menu (menu apparently is changed every week). Signatures feels like a fine restaurant one would dine in New York, San Francisco or even Paris. There is a lot of silver coloring used in the dining room; on table there is candlelight and a single red rose in a silver bud vase. The staff are dressed in white Cordon Bleu style garb, and the menu is shaped like a Cordon Bleu shirt. This is a decidedly French restaurant and it is always jacket only (formal of course for formal nights). Let's not digress too much from the food. It approximates sublimity. For starters, you always get an amouse bouche, like a large marinated shrimp. Then your choice of appetizer, soup, salad, palate cleaner sorbet and main course (or, you can always get whatever you want from the menu...there is no fixed order if that's what you want). On our first night I had the pistachio and date crusted lamb chops and they were absolutely delicious. My husband's choice that night was a veal chop with bleu cheese, a combination we had never heard of before, it was great. The warmed chocolate tart is a chocoholic's dream come true (and of course, they use dark chocolate for this one). Other memorable delicacies included foie gras terrines, huge scallops, caviar set up in a cucumber tower, lobster salad, seared duck breast (with the skin done to a perfect crisp) and tournedos Rossini (a filet mignon with a slice of seared foie gras on top). The soups are usually French style, meaning that they are cream of something. These very generally very good; albeit the salt issue I found with the Compass Rose came up here as well. The main course is always presented with a silver dome and which is removed with a voila! The voila creates a little vortex for aromas, no need for hand cupping here! The bread is sliced French. At the end of the meal, before your dessert arrives, you can order a cheese course from the cheese cart and a dish of white and dark chocolate truffles is presented just in time to savor with your coffee. The staff is a tad more serious than in Compass Rose, but by no means they are stuffy. There is always a smile greeting from the servers and details like a proffered arm for the ladies by the maitre d', Sebastian. The sommelier gladly pours your choice of wine for you and is happy to answer any questions. Mostly French wines get poured here, of course. On all three nights Renata was either our primary or assistant server and she is very pleasant. The room is small enough to create the mood for romance and intimacy. We loved eating at Signatures. With the variety on the menu, it is easy to go back very frequently without falling into a food rut. Obviously, the reservation only system makes it difficult to satisfy spur of the moment peckishness. LATITUDES Latitudes is the smallest of the dining venues and the second dinner only, reservations required restaurant. Of all the dining room styles, it is the one I liked best in terms of interior design. The palette is earth tones and the art work featured here are Brazilian head dresses and Balinese Masks. Even the table is set up with exotic shaped plates and utensils in dark earth colors. The servers (save for Rico, the maitre d'...he always wears a dinner jacket) wear Asian inspired coats in the same color palette. Being the most exotic renders it the most strange on the Mariner, given the general demographics of the ship, especially this particular cruise. Allow me to explain. To appreciate Latitudes, it does require that first, you have appreciation and enjoyment for cuisines other than American and Continental European. Second, you must be comfortable with the Tasting Menu concept of dining, something most associated with what is sometimes called 'destination dining'. Some example of these places include the French Laundry in Yountville, Gary Danko in San Francisco, Fleur de Lys in San Francisco (the new, post kitchen fire Fleur de Lys, that is), Manresa in Los Gatos. Most people can get past the first item, many people, my husband included (his worldliness notwithstanding), can't get past the second. I do like the tasting menu concept and do not find it peculiar; but I did wonder and marvel at RSSC's ambition and foresight in putting a restaurant of this type on the Mariner. We only ate at Latitudes once, partly because my reservation date coincided with the day they changed menus and partly because the meal was good but not good enough to be worthy of a repeat. On our particular dinner, mostly Asian themed, the set of 4 appetizers were pretty good (a bite of avocado and crustacean meat was wonderful), the 3 soups had one outstanding one (a tamarind and chile infused clear broth). The salad course was pretty pedestrian (mixed greens with 3 marinated prawns...tasty but nothing special). The main course had a very good to a not so good entrEe (the very good being a slice of meat with some pico de gallo sauce on it, the bad being a breast of chicken that was on the dry side and not enough sauce on it to moisten it). The desserts were mediocre at best and a let down given what all the other Mariner dining venues offer. I can't even remember a single one to describe here, save that I found a couple of them on the dry side! Overall, the meal at Latitudes was good. On a cruise such as ours, had I known how often the menus changed, I would have made my reservations so that we could try the menu at least once. As I mentioned earlier, I think Latitudes is the venue where RSSC should highlight cuisine of the area being traveled, it offers the perfect approach to doing so. YOUR ROOM (via room service) Room service in the Mariner is a dream come true. Wonderful food gets delivered with pleasure and cheer any time of the day. Any request that is food related gets fulfilled promptly. While all the dining rooms on the Mariner are beautiful, there is something about nibbling on your meal while watching the ocean go by. The evening's Compass Rose menu can be delivered to your door during the dining room's hours. FITNESS CENTER Located on deck 7, this is a gym and studio, and is under the helm of the pert and perky Jacquie, the resident fitness instructor. She gives a little tour of the facilities the afternoon of embarkation. The gym has a handful of treadmills, a selection of dumbbells, a couple of Stairmasters and elliptical runners. Ceiling mounted TV's are located strategically for distraction. There is activity here at several times of the day. We generally visited in the mornings and while busy, we never had to wait for any piece of equipment. Jacquie provides several fitness classes during the day, mostly geared towards stretching and isotonic movements that are mid-section focused. I participated in a few and found them very effective. At the beginning of the cruise, a schedule of classes is available as a handout for planning. These classes are also mentioned on a daily basis in Passages. JOGGING TRACK On deck 12, there is a jogging track for running, walking or for use as yet another vantage point. Eleven laps equals one mile; and in keeping with the ship's environment, it's never crowded. POOL AND JACUZZIS Situated at deck 11, there is a good size, salt water pool and 3 Jacuzzis (freshwater). There are also two showers and plenty of deck chairs. Never crowded, although it is a popular spot during nice sunny days. I can't really be out in the sun, so we tended to be there later in the afternoon and many times we were the only ones in the area. Plenty fresh pool towels are available and they wrap around generously. There is a pool bar, generally manned by Allen, who has a ready smile and always prepares your libations right. SPA The Spa, on deck 7, is under the auspices of Carita of Paris. It has a nice vestibule and a water tranquility fountain. It would be oh-so-comfortable just to wander into the Spa in your robe, but this a no-no on the Mariner. Services include facials, manicures/pedicures, massages and beauty salon services (shampoo, cuts, updos). The menu is not very deep, but services are well performed by friendly and skilled staff. Pricing is comparable to San Francisco, and I felt like I got good value. We had terrific service from Robert, the manager, Pamela the therapist, Marie from Brittany for nails and Delphine from Paris for updos. LE CASINO Le Casino is on deck seven with an assortment of one arm bandits (slot machines), a small crap table, roulette and about 4 blackjack tables. We didn't play but knew people who were going in for blackjack and some crap (tables, that is!). It seemed generally quiet, although some nights it was very lively, and livelier when the blackjack tournament was going on. ENTERTAINMENT AT THE CONSTELLATION THEATRE The Constellation Theatre is a magnificent, magical locale and ingeniously designed...there isn't a bad seat in the house. It is not only used for shows, it is used for holding the mustering drill, I noticed that it was used for the SSS party and in our cruise for immigration with US Customs. We caught the "dangerously clean" comedy of Brian the first night (he was funny but didn't put me into stitches) and we saw the presentation of Fiesta Latina (they included songs from The Mask, Evita, Marc Anthony, Miami Sound Machine) with the Peter Terhune Grey dancers and singers...very good, with a lot of costume changes! Other shows included a magician, Marshall Magoon (we heard he wasn't very good) and Helen Jayne (we heard she was really good). SERVICES, SHOPPING AND INFORMATION/SERVICE Since the Mariner is a floating hotel of sorts, one finds the sort of amenities and services one would expect from a land based outfit. All are conveniently located manned with helpful staff. Especially note that the laundry service and detergent is free. DAY TO DAY ACTIVITIES For some of us, cruising on the Mariner was meant for R and R, and this was achieved. Not to worry, the ship has all sorts of activities, both planned and spontaneous, all day up until 10:30 pm (then you are left to your own devices!) The planned ones are in Passages, and range from meeting other passengers, to the scheduled fitness classes, bridge, daily quizzes, needlepoint and morning coffee, games (both indoor and outdoor) classes, lectures, bingo, presentations, game show type activities, poker tournaments, etc. One would be hard pressed not to like or participate in any of these offerings. CREW AND SERVICE LEVELS Enough cannot be said about the outstanding crew and staff aboard the Mariner. RSSC has certainly done its homework in attracting, recruiting and retaining the best of the best. They are not only qualified in what they do, they also display a genuine love of their work and of their passengers. While the ship is elegant, her staff and crew are not aloof. It is not uncommon to see the ship's officers strolling around, and saying hello to you. Staff members remember you and greet you. They will stop and chat with you, if you start a conversation. They will listen and do their best to honor your requests promptly. I remember hearing "We help you make your wishes come true" early on in the ship and this was no by line on some glossy advert. I was witness to some of the staff getting talked to by some ungracious people (you know, those people who DEMAND service and wouldn't know good service if it ran over them) and they were handled very professionally. We hear stories in the news of how other cruise lines hire, pay and treat their employees, I have to believe RSSC values their employees and treats them well, because it translates into how they treat the cruisers AND the longevity of some of these people with the company. GENERAL DEMOGRAPHICS OF THIS PARTICULAR CRUISE This cruise sailed with 540 passengers, and it would be safe to say 70% of them were at least 70. Making up almost half of the passengers was a group with Jazzdagen Tours, a tour company that caters to jazz enthusiasts by promoting jazz tours and cruises. They even bring their own jazz musicians along; and were happy to share them with the rest of the ship (they were excellent). The average age was not a problem for us, because our motives for being on this cruise did not include endless partying. We don't mind mixing with older folks, either. But we could see if someone went on this cruise looking for a 'fun ship' and not fully aware of the general demographics, they would be quite surprised and turned off. I actually enjoyed the quiet elegance I found on the Mariner, it helped me relax. We understand from the Mariner's staff the demographics tend to change depending on where the ship is going and the length of days of the cruise. For example, 7 day cruises will attract younger people; 7 day cruises to Alaska will have more families. We did see and were able to meet a lot of interesting people of all ages, those in our immediate group (meaning, we dined/socialized with) included Tanya Moss the Mexican jewelry designer and her husband Eduardo, who were of my age group (under 40), The Torok's (magicmat), celebrating their 20th anniversary, they were closer to Peter's age group (close to or just over 50), Norm and Gerri in their 70's, and Aaron and Jo (80 and 50's). We also informally chatted up and talked a lot more people, so meeting people isn't a problem if you are socially outgoing and friendly. The cruise was predominately American, with some Britons and some Austrian couples. There were a few African Americans, Latin Americans and Asians. SUMMARY This cruise has now made us converts not only to this style of travel, but loyal RSSCers...to a greater extent, extremely loyal to the Mariner. Our expectations were met and exceeded on all levels. People thought we came back glowing and relaxed (it showed in a lot of pictures, as well as in person). We thought it was excellent value and worth every cent. RSSC MARINER'S PROS • Ultimate in luxury and pampering. • Relaxing environment, discretion is the modus operandi . • Great value for price. • All inclusive, includes all shipboard gratuities and includes wine/liquor at dinner. •The entire staff and crew is genuinely friendly and professional. • Attention to detail and quality. RSSC MARINER'S CONS • Ship does attract a much older crowd; younger people looking to meet other young people or who are looking for a high energy vacation will be disappointed. • Should consider more San Francisco departures for Alaska, Hawaii and Mexico. CONSIDERATIONS AND SUGGESTIONS FOR THE M/S MARINER • Compass Rose staff needs to be a little less obvious during certain situations and requests that may conflict with their routine/schedule (see my example under "Compass Rose"). • Hold the art auctions in one of the card rooms...setting up shop in the Garden Promenade can actually create a hazard. • Consider more San Francisco departures for Alaska, Hawaii and Mexico. • Don't hold the premiere of a new show the last night at sea (we are all busy packing), and at 6:30 pm (way too early!). Read Less
Sail Date: March 2004
We were on the Mariner's 14-night trip from Los Angeles to Ft. Lauderdale via the Panama Canal. As first-timers we decided to book one of the ship's larger suites that included butler service. We were delighted and dismayed by ... Read More
We were on the Mariner's 14-night trip from Los Angeles to Ft. Lauderdale via the Panama Canal. As first-timers we decided to book one of the ship's larger suites that included butler service. We were delighted and dismayed by our choice. Next time we'll think more carefully. (See the very end of this review for details about this.) First of all, every suite on the Mariner has a balcony, and when the weather is as gorgeous as it was during our cruise, you don't spend much of your time in the suite itself. You're either on your balcony, or you're on the (almost) empty deck. Having the extra space was extremely nice, but we really didn't use half of it. And, anyway, as we learned during one of the "open houses," even the smallest suites on the ship are more than comfortable for two people. Secondly, everyone gets the same service, whether in a big suite like ours or in one of the smallest. We of course had the extra advantage of having a butler. He was extremely charming and eager to please. He was a great conversationalist. He unpacked our luggage and took our clothes to be dry cleaned and pressed. He looked after every little detail, like delivering invitations to the people we invited for a cocktail party. He was extraordinary. But, like the extra space, we really didn't need him. Like everyone else, we had a steward and stewardess who cleaned our suite twice every day. (We hardly ever saw them.) I don't know what more you'd want in terms of in-room service. Thirdly, it's true. Radisson does attract a largely older crowd. But this means that the best parts of the ship, like the swimming pool, jacuzzis, the big bar at the aft, are **empty** most of the time. One night my sweetie and I went to soak in one of the deck's three jacuzzis at 7:30 p.m. The air was warm. There was a big full tropical moon in the sky. We were absolutely 100% alone. I was in the ship's pool on most days and maybe only twice was there someone else swimming with me. Fourthly (is there such a word?), everybody gets the same food, which on most counts ranges from very good to excellent. Our only disappointment was in Latitudes, the reservations-only Asian-fusion restaurant. (Too salty!!) We had very good (formal) French food in Signatures. But we really loved the Spanish and Italian menus in La Verandah, the most casual restaurant. Also, the seafood in ALL the restaurants was exceptionally fresh. Our big "learning experience" came when we anchored in Georgetown, Grand Cayman. SIX other cruise ships were there at the same time. They were ENORMOUS. We watched their passengers wait ten-deep in the hot sun for a tender back to their ships. Those of us on the Mariner were whisked back and forth on nearly empty tenders. At the dock, the Mariner had set up chairs under an umbrella and had crew members passing out iced water and orange juice. What we don't understand is that the nicest suites on those huge ships cost almost as much or more than the smaller suites on the Mariner. But on those huge ships you share **everything** with 2000+ passengers, no matter how much you pay for your suite. What I'm pretty sure we learned is that the "ultra-deluxe" Radisson cruises are probably an incredible bargain, given the service, the space, and the fact that most areas of the ship are empty most of the time. Also, the fares are all-inclusive. I don't have time to do the math. But you don't need a big suite or butler service on a ship like the Mariner. We had a spectacular trip. (We especially enjoyed Costa Rica and the Panama Canal. Although, the Gatun Yacht Club is a big bore! My sweetie took the helicopter trip over the Gatun Locks and had a blast.) You can spend a third of what we spent and still have a fantastic time. We're definitely going to take Radisson again, but next time we want to do a longer cruise. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2004
Review of Radisson Seven Seas Mariner Alaskan cruise 6/16/04 - 6/23/04 Jim and I truly enjoyed our cruise in Alaska. The Radisson's Mariner was a beautiful, warm ship and the service was wonderful. The food, for the most part, was ... Read More
Review of Radisson Seven Seas Mariner Alaskan cruise 6/16/04 - 6/23/04 Jim and I truly enjoyed our cruise in Alaska. The Radisson's Mariner was a beautiful, warm ship and the service was wonderful. The food, for the most part, was beyond expectation and the entertainment we saw was excellent. Alaska was beautiful. It would have been a perfect cruise, except the ship ran into a problem with the propellers about halfway through our cruise which forced us to travel at about half the normal speed, so unfortunately, we had to skip our stop at Ketchikan in order to get to Vancouver on time. More details are farther down into this review. We started our vacation 6 days before the cruise with 2 days in Anchorage and 4 days at the Alyeska Resort, just south of Anchorage. On this part of the trip, we took a flightseeing trip to the top of Denali that was one of the most exciting things I've done in a long time. I would recommend this excursion if you ever have a chance to take it in the future. Getting to Seward and the ship We took the Alaska Railroad from the Alyeska resort in Girdwood down to Seward on the morning of our cruise. The trip was relaxing and smooth and the views were great. It was an overcast foggy day so we really didn't get to see much, but it was enjoyable anyway. When we reached Seward, it was pouring pitchforks out. We grabbed a cab and took the short ride to the cruise terminal. At about 12:30, the ship allowed us to start early boarding. We were the second couple to board and met a nice couple from Australia as we relaxed in the Mariner Lounge. We munched on small appetizers there and then the ship announced that lunch was being served by the pool. We went up there to have a burger. By this time, more and more people arrived. At 2:30, we went down to the Compass Rose to make reservations for Signatures for my birthday. At the same time, they announced that the suites were ready. Dining Compass Rose We enjoyed eating dinner here, as the food was very good to excellent, as was the service. The leg of lamb I had one night was excellent! And we had baked Alaska twice - both times it was fantastic. The wines were also very good. At first, I thought the room was kind of ho-hum. But it started to grow on me and I soon came to think it was one of the nicest dining rooms I had seen. On 2 evenings, we asked the maitre'd if there was anyone looking for people to dine with. One night, we sat with Brian O'Brian, the cruise consultant, Andre and Taryn, the art directors and 3 other male guests. It was fun to meet some new people and hear more about the cruises from Mr. O'Brian. The other time we asked, no one was open. I had hoped there would be more couples open to joining other couples for dinner. Signatures We ate dinner here on the night of my birthday. The service was perfect! The waiter was very discreet, yet friendly. I chose the lamb chops and I can honestly say that this was one of the best pieces of meat I have ever eaten. Jim chose the duck and was not as excited about his choice. My dessert was not great but by that time, it didn't matter. I about died when the waiter put the large silver domed platter on the table and lifted the cover to reveal 12 of those luscious chocolate truffles!! 4 of each - dark chocolate, light chocolate and white chocolate! Who cared that my dessert wasn't great? I think we did leave at least a couple of truffles on the platter. Latitudes We decided to try Latitudes one night. I was not that impressed with the atmosphere, the service or the food. Jim really enjoyed his halibut dinner, but I thought mine was kind of bland. I prefer the Compass Rose and Signatures to this choice. La Verandah We fell in love with the lunch buffet at this spot, especially since we loved eating on the back open deck of the ship. We had great weather, so it was always sunny and nice on the deck. The food was very good and the dessert bar was fun. Our favorite dessert was the ice cream! Everyday, there were 2 flavors available along with an abundance of toppings and nuts. We never ate here for dinner. Breakfast Room Service We had room service each morning for breakfast. It always came on time and was perfectly presented. The cooks got a little confused by my numbering system. I always put a number 2 in front of the coffee and the cream to indicate 2 "orders of" so they knew to bring enough coffee for 2 people. Well, on a few mornings, we got 2 carafes of coffee along with 2 pitchers of cream. We also got a double order of fried eggs one morning. No big deal. Just kind of amusing! Entertainment We timed it right for entertainment; at least, we think so. We were lucky to have Kenny Smiles, the Welsh comedian, on board with us, as well as the Peter Grey Terhume Dancers and Singers. The production numbers were so much more professional that we had expected. The first production was Here, There and Everywhere, which was a review of Beatles' songs. Their second show was Thoroughly Modern Broadway and they did a superb job. Their singing and dancing abilities were marvelous as well as the costumes. The last night they outdid themselves with Classics. Kenny Smiles kept us all laughing. He had 2 evening shows and one afternoon show called "Kenny in the Hot Seat" where audience members could ask him questions. His one-liners were great!! We loved it when he would put down a heckler who deserved it. He made some jokes about the propellers getting wrecked by a bread roll. Well, at the Captain's Farewell party, the Captain emphatically responded saying that it was definitely not a bread roll that hit the propellers! Speaking of propeller problems, the last 2 days were at sea. So to entertain passengers, the pianist from the Mariner 5 Orchestra put on a classical piano recital on one of the afternoons. The man had classical piano training growing up in Russia and it was obvious he had talent to spare. I thought I had died and gone to heaven when he played Rachmaninoff's Prelude in C# Minor! He should be showcased much more. Marty and Holly played several nights around the ship as well. We enjoyed their singing. Our Suite When we arrived in our suite, 745G, there was the chilled champagne and fruit waiting for us. How nice! The suite was very comfortable and we loved the balcony. The bathroom was gorgeous. Jim managed to get a shower, even though his head touched the top of the shower. The location of our suite was good. At this point, I don't think I would want to pay more to stay in the same size suite on floors 8 or 9. We were very close to the boutiques on floor 7 and we were only one or 2 floors above all the dining rooms, etc. Day-by-Day Activities and Sights Hubbard Glacier The first full day of the cruise was to Hubbard Glacier and a grand day it was! I was very worried about the weather since it was so awful in Seward when we departed. But, the weather turned out to be perfect with sunny skies. The closer we got to the glacier, the colder it was so we put on our warm clothes and headed up to deck 12. We had a wonderful time! The ship got within a mile of the glacier. Terry Breen was the naturalist and she is excellent. The passengers who had no clue were wearing shorts with short sleeve shirts and shivering up there! We looked at them and chuckled to each other. What were these people thinking?? Sitka In Sitka, we chose the Russian Dancers and Raptor center tour. We enjoyed this tour and it was good for us since I wasn't able to do anything physical because I am having my left hip replaced in July. The first stop was a museum/park with history and culture displays along with totem poles. Next, we went to a gymnasium to be entertained by the Russian Dancers who were very good. Next, we toured the bald eagle raptor center, which was very interesting. Sitka is a charming town in a beautiful setting surrounded by ice-capped mountain. It has a very European feel to it and has several wonderful shops brimming with beautiful Russian artwork. Tracy Arm We arrived in Tracy Arm around 7 a.m. so we went out on the balcony in our jammies and bathrobes to enjoy the scenery. It was lovely and again, we had sunny skies. We were moving along fine listening to the always-interesting narration by Terry Breen as we sailed through the fjords. We got to a point where we should have made a right turn to head toward the Sawyer Glaciers when all of sudden, Terry stopped narrating, the ship stopped and then started turning around. As the ship started turning, we could hear the crew from below yelling back and forth at each other. We couldn't understand what was being said and just thought that something must have gone wrong. Next, the ship sailed back out of Tracy Arm. It was a disappointment not to see the glaciers. Soon afterward, the Captain announced that something hit one of the propellers and that we could only travel at 15 knots maximum to prevent vibration. So we headed on toward Juneau where we cut our time in port by 2 hours. That night as we dined at Latitudes, the Captain announced that we would be skipping Ketchikan in order to make it into Vancouver on time. That meant we would not see Misty Fjords, not take our flight plane to Misty Fjords or get to see all the shops in Ketchikan. All in all, this was not my favorite day of our cruise! Juneau Because I had read so many recommendations for Captain Larry's Whale Watching, we chose that as an independent tour. We had a great time and saw about 4 different humpbacks, that were pretty close to our boat and put on a good show for us. We also saw sea lions. There were 23 people on Larry's boat, with plenty of room for moving around on the open back deck and the upper viewing deck. He was very knowledgeable about the whales. We had taken a shuttle out to the Mendenhall Glacier before the whale watching tour started. It's a good glacier to view since it is so close and the visitor center is very nice with a short film. Captain Larry's shuttle picked us up at the Glacier to take us to the whale watching. They were running about a half hour or more late when they picked us up so we were beginning to worry about the timing. But everything worked out and we were back at our ship with an hour to spare. Skagway We signed up for Radisson's White Pass Railroad with Tea Time Bakery. It was another gorgeous sunny day so we were lucky again. We really enjoyed the ride and the muffins, scones, coffee cake, coffee, tea and hot chocolate available in the train car. The 3-hour train ride up and back was relaxing and enjoyable. We spent the afternoon shopping in Skagway and since it was my birthday, I managed to find some nice gold jewelry! Miscellaneous Notes The final 2 full days of the cruise were at sea so we had 2 full days to relax. We attended another lecture by Terry Breen where she talked about history and culture of the Tlingits. Her lectures are interesting and easy to follow. I wish they offered more lectures like this. We thought the food on the Mariner was very good to excellent, except for the desserts. I thought the desserts were the weakest part of the menu, except the baked Alaska. We loved that! We also thought they could be a little more creative with the dinner rolls. The exact same dinner rolls every night in every restaurant? There were 3 large groups on our ship. About 200 people with Ford, about 50 with Pirelli Tires and another small group who sold burial insurance! There were several families with children, maybe 12 kids in total. All were well-behaved whenever we saw them, which was not often! Two young couples had little babies with them in Compass Rose and Signatures. We never heard a peep! Because we had to skip Ketchikan, the Captain sent a letter to all guests stating that Radisson would cover some of our onboard expenses and gave all guests credit toward any future cruises. Also, all alcohol was covered for the last 3 days of the cruise. We are glad to get these credits, etc. as a nice gesture from Radisson.   Read Less
Sail Date: June 2004
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: July 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: 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: March 2005
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
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