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Linda Coffman

 

Cruise Diva's CRUISE DIARY
~ Western Caribbean "Sunshine Sojourns"~

This Diamond is a Perfect Gem

Radisson Diamond

Radisson Diamond

Our first glimpse of the Radisson Diamond confirmed our expectations. Her appearance is distinctive. Very distinctive. Not only do conventional cruise ships tower over her, other differences are immediately apparent as well.

Radisson Diamond isn't sleek and her bow appears somewhat short, but her SWATH (Small Waterplane Area Twin Hull) design promises comfortable sailing with virtually no "motion of the ocean" to disturb her passengers. Her appeal is as unique as her design and we loved her on sight.

While it isn't unusual for us to embark on Caribbean cruises in Fort Lauderdale, Mel and I were delighted with the stress-free experience of boarding Radisson Diamond. With light traffic, we arrived earlier than planned. Rather than a long wait for check-in, we were escorted through the most seamless boarding process possible, made all the more pleasant by gracious staff members and a refreshing flute of champagne. Staterooms weren't quite ready, so we were made comfortable at a table outside the Grill where light snacks and beverages were offered.

Mel immediately set out to explore the rest of the pool deck. He headed aft and returned moments later. He was gone a bit longer after walking off to the bow and taking a look at the bridge. Only 420 feet long, nothing is very far away on Radisson Diamond. This is our kind of ship—small and elegantly appointed, yet understated and relaxed.

Comfort and Convenience

Stateroom with private teak balcony

Blonde woods, beige and taupe furnishings, and the abundant use of mirrors add to the airy appearance of our balcony stateroom. But more importantly, our accommodations were thoughtfully designed for efficiency and function. As I unpacked, I discovered just how much storage was provided for guests. It would be difficult to fill all the drawers on a seven-night cruise. Every need has been anticipated, from the lighted vanity and small, but useable desk, both with electric outlets, to a table that two people can really use for dining. The balcony is a quiet and totally private refuge, with teak decking, two padded chairs, and another table suitable for dining al fresco.

Thoughtful design combines comfort and efficiency

Almost as unique as our vessel itself, for her Caribbean season, Radisson Diamond guests enjoy the comfort of "country club casual" attire and beverages on an all-inclusive basis. The simplified wardrobe requirement made packing a snap and the absence of drink chits makes us truly feel like guests aboard a private yacht. This exclusive ambiance is shared by fellow guests and we're all pleased with the impression.

Mel and several other back-seat drivers watched with keen interest as Captain Neil Broomhall eased Radisson Diamond from her berth... they had such an advantageous view that Captain Neil had to ask them to step back so he could see the pier. Our yacht was launched with a champagne bon voyage party underway and a week of luxurious Caribbean cruising ahead of us.

A full moon smiled on Radisson Diamond as we dangled our toes over the balcony railing and toasted the end of a lovely first day on board.

Key West, Florida

Capital of the "Conch Republic," Key West is just as quirky and fun as we remembered from previous visits. Radisson Diamond arrived at 9:00 am and we were quickly ashore for a stroll. Mel and I decided to rediscover Key West on our own and do some shopping, but the shore excursions offered were enticing, particularly the soft adventures. In addition to the customary sightseeing tours in our ports of call, there are more active offerings—fishing, sailing, snorkeling, kayaking, diving, and even a four-wheeling off-road adventure.

All Key West streets lead to Mallory Square and its Historic Memorial Sculpture Garden

While we wouldn't sail until 4:00 pm, Mel and I headed back to the Diamond in the early afternoon. It was quite hot and the icy bottled water we picked up at the gangway was long gone. We headed to the Grill for a salad luncheon, followed by a tempting pineapple crisp topped with vanilla sauce. There goes my diet!

Although we sailed long before sunset, I imagined the one we would enjoy at sea would be every bit as surreal as the one being celebrated at Mallory Pier in Key West—a nightly ritual. Alas, clouds obscured the view, but we have more sunsets to look forward to.

Captain Neil Broomhall, the perfect host

Radisson Diamond Grand Dining Room

Open seating is de rigueur in the
Grand Dining Room

"Yes, I am old enough to be driving the boat," Captain Neil Brromhall assured us during the evening's Welcome Party. From the Staffordshire countryside in England, his smile is infectious and he mixes easily with his guests. Despite the country club casual nature of our cruise, the guests aboard Captain Broomhall's "private yacht" turned out smartly for the evening—most men in sport jackets (with or without tie) and women in cocktail dresses or dressy pantsuits.

From beginning to end, our meal in the Grand Dining Room was perfection. Melt-in-your-mouth Beef Wellington... succulent Maine lobster. Our dinner partners, from the northeast and southern United States, found common ground--we reveled in the marvelous dishes, fine wine, exquisite service, and congenial company.

The multi-level Windows Lounge, site of the earlier Welcome Aboard party, proved to be the perfect venue for after dinner cabaret. The "Back to Broadway" show highlighted the talent of the Peter Grey Terhune Singers and Dancers. No pyrotechnics or fancy illusions—their superb voices didn't need enhancement to carry the show.

Promising ourselves a nightcap, Mel and I headed for the intimate Club bar and were immediately taken with the energy generated by "The Three of Diamonds," particularly the beautiful vocals by Monaliza. The dance floor was hopping and we joined in, glad the next day would be a recuperative one at sea. 

Next -> Relax during a sea day & join us ashore in Grand Cayman

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