San Juan to
San Juan, Puerto Rico
March 25, 2002
and Mark Stanek
Our trip started in snowy Pittsburgh,
Pennsylvania, making our connection in Charlotte by the skin of our teeth.
We made it to San Juan and proceeded
to go to our pre-cruise hotel, the Caribe Hilton. I read that the
resort underwent millions in renovations, I really think it could of
used a few million more. The room was just ok. The woodwork was broken
off in many spots and the walls in the room had been patched and
painted with paint that didn't match. The public areas looked old and
tired, also. On the second night, we taxied to the Condado Plaza to
have dinner and try our luck in the casino. We were really impressed
with the Condado's decor, though we didn't see the rooms.
On to The Mariner!!
Embarkation was a breeze, taking maybe 10 minutes at the most.
What a beauty she is. We were allowed
to board early, grab some champagne and look around. The ship still
looks brand spanking new. Nothing is worn or chipped. The carpet looks
like it was laid yesterday. The atrium is quite spectacular for a
Radisson ship, more elaborate than the other ships. The only thing I
found odd was the strange art work lining the walls of the atrium. I
am not really sure what they were, but they appeared to be metal
women's dresses. Almost like modern suits of armor?
On to our suite, we were in
suite 736. As soon as we opened the door we were happy clams. The idea
of an all balcony ship is, I think, the only way to go. Of course, all
was spotless when we arrived. All I had to ask for was foam pillows
for myself, and they came a minute later. The duvets are to die for.
They keep you at just the right temperature. I also liked the
thermostat, you can crank it to an almost subzero temp. The bathroom
is done in beautiful marble and is quite roomy. I didn't find the
shower to be annoying, as I have heard reported, but then again, I am
5' tall. My husband Mark, who is close to 6' didn't find any real
problem with the height of the shower head either. The walk in closet
is another really nice feature. You can store all sorts of stuff on
the floor and keep your cabin much less cluttered.
Waiting for us in our cabin was more
champagne from Radisson, a stocked fridge with the beer that we had
asked for and a bottle of Absolut. A knock on our door brings our kind
friend Al, who we had met prior to the cruise on the Cruise Critic
message board, with a bottle of Dom Perignon. We decided to save that
special treat for when we got home :) Speaking of the Cruise Critic
message board, we had met a group of nearly 30 people online, who
turned out to be quite the charming group when we actually met them on
board. It made the cruise more personal having them all on our
sailing. We spent time together in the Observation deck and one
evening, we were all invited to Kris and Tony's suite for a get
The tv has maybe 14 stations on it,
international CNN, 4 movie channels, each day the 4 movies are shown
all day long, TNT and several ships channels with announcements and
the ships heading info. There is also a video library where you can
grab a couple of movies and bring them back to your room to watch on
Room service was great. The menu is
quite extensive, the food comes quick and it is hot when you receive
it. Try the chicken Caesar salad, it's fantastic. We had breakfast
every morning in our room, nothing like eating in your pj's while
looking out your balcony door.
There are 4 restaurants, two
requiring reservations. We chose to eat most of our dinners in the
main dining room, Compass Rose, we just preferred the atmosphere there
over the other dining options. We sat at a table for 2 each evening,
with the same waiter, Mathias, who was a gem. When dining in the
Compass Rose, you stop by the desk at the front of the restaurant and
tell the Maitre d where you would like to sit and what size table. On
the second evening, we asked to be at the same table for the rest of
the week and of course it was no problem. Several of the tables around
us had done the same thing and we had got to know them all quite well
by the end of the trip.
The only "reservation only"
restaurant that we tried was Latitudes. It was an Asian fusion type
menu that didn't change for the course of the week. It was an
experience, but we weren't that fond of the food. You receive 3
samples of each course, appetizers, soup, entree and desert. We never
made it to Signatures, the Cordon Bleu staffed restaurant, but we
heard it was a better choice over Latitudes. If you want to dine in
one of these venues, make you reservations as soon as you can, the
book quick. The other dining option was the Veranda restaurant which
by day is a great buffet for lunch and at night is a Mediterranean
menu. We had thought that the free flowing wine at dinner was
outstanding. One evening, I asked if any German wines were going to be
served, the wine steward came back in an instant with a nice
Piesporter. It just seems that they can't do enough to please you.
The pool grill for lunch had some
great themes, Mexican, seafood, etc. It was our choice for lunch.
I guess I can say, I am not an expert
on this topic. We never went to any of the shows, so I cannot comment
on that. We did find the casino entertaining, though :) There are
quite a few slots, black jack, poker, craps, roulette, and maybe some
other tables I am forgetting. I found a lucky slot machine and won a
few hundred dollars one night.
First stop was St. Thomas.
Since we have been there several times, we just lounged around the
ship and then did a little shopping
Next stop was Antigua. OK,
this was not our favorite island, it just wasn't as scenic as the
rest. We opted for a snorkeling excursion here and we were surprised
to find ourselves snorkeling 3 miles off the coast in the middle of
the ocean. We brought our own gear with us, but since the excursion
included it, we left our gear in our room. That was our first mistake.
The masks were old and as soon as you put your face in the water, they
filled up. There were also no snorkel floatie vests. I had to make due
with an old beat up orange life preserver. I really am glad I had it
on, it helped keep me afloat while I was dumping the water out of my
mask, all while my eyes were burning from the salt.
Next stop, St. Barts. A very
beautiful, charming island. Here we opted to snorkel, too, but it was
quite different from the day before. We brought our own gear and the
snorkel location was off shore. A really relaxing day.
Next, St Maarten, another
beautiful island. We chose to take a taxi to Orient beach, my first
visit to a total nude beach. I kept my clothes on :) The beach really
was beautiful, with the occasional very large nude backside blocking
Last stop, Virgin Gorda, the
highlight of our trip. The thing to do on this island, is the Baths.
Huge house size boulders all clustered on the beach, make for a fun
day of exploring. It really was the most spectacular island stop that
Here is some stuff I can't think of
any other category to put it in: Ship board photography was very good
I thought. I usually groan and try to hide the pictures from other
viewers. But this time, I had a hard time deciding how many pictures
to buy. Of course, my husband wanted to buy the picture of him with
his eyes closed, so no one else would see it.
The shipboard credit was great. We
were only expecting $200, but somehow we ended up with $400. Before we
spent it, we checked with reception to make sure it wasn't a mistake,
and we were delighted to learn it was an extra credit from Radisson.
Since we couldn't seem to spend it all on board, we used it to deposit
on a future Radisson Voyager sailing. Our friend Bob filled us in on
the details, it is a deal you can't pass up. You deposit $100 per
person for any sailing. You don't have to choose the date right away.
You receive $200 ship board credit on your next sailing, plus your 5%
past passenger discount and also $200 off that price. You give them
your travel agents name and you are all set.
Before we left for this cruise, we
attended several chat sessions with the other friends we had met on
Cruise Critic. One suggestion was to bring our binoculars, which we
did. Mark and I sat on the balcony a lot, and the binoculars came in
Also before we left, we had read a
review from a man who had nothing nice about the ship. He complained
about everything under the sun, stating that if Radisson paid him to
stay in the owners suite, he would decline. If Radisson makes him that
offer, and he declines, I will be happy to fill in for him. This was
our third Radisson cruise and they just keep getting better and
better. Ever since we took our first Radisson cruise, I find it hard
to travel on any other cruise line. I think I will give up on the
others and stick with one I know is the best.
Photo: Courtesy of
Radisson Seven Seas Cruises
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- Radisson Seven Seas Cruises