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Copyright © 1995-2005 
Linda Coffman

 

Radisson Seven Seas Navigator

The "Goodnight Irene" 
Cruise Diary

with Linda Coffman

August 12, 2005 -- Mel and I were watching the Weather Channel as well as completing our travel check lists and preparing to pack the car when the telephone rang. Between our embarkation port--Norfolk, Virginia--and Bermuda was one of Mother Nature's nastiest offspring. On the other end of the phone line was our contact from Radisson Seven Seas Cruises. Hurricane Irene hadn't quite made up her mind which direction to take and the cruise line was making alternate plans "just in case."

Norfolk is a one-day drive from our home in east-central Georgia so we made the decision to avoid airport hassles. A leisurely road trip and overnight pre-cruise stay in Norfolk figured into our plans. Radisson Seven Seas wasn't taking any chances, though, and if Irene aimed at Norfolk, they would divert Seven Seas Navigator to Newport, Rhode Island and arrange for us to fly there to meet the ship if necessary.

Thankfully, Irene made a turn out to sea and we arrived in Norfolk on a sunny Monday, anxious to sail the next day. In reality, our Radisson Seven Seas experience had begun the previous week with their pro-active "just in case" gesture.

Norfolk, Virginia
The city of Norfolk has spent a great deal of money on downtown improvements along the waterfront and it shows. We opted to take advantage of a cruiser-friendly package offered by the Clarion Hotel James Madison that included room, breakfast, secure parking for a week, and transportation by taxi to the port on sailing day. The hotel dates to the early-1900s and the lobby imparts an air of graceful elegance not often found since, well--the early-1900s. We were stunned with our room. The wallpaper was a bit shabby, but it featured a king-size bed, sitting area, desk, and TWO bathrooms. We were told the property would be undergoing future renovation and hope the lavish wood paneling and etched glass in the lobby and bar remain untouched. 

Unfortunately, the front desk didn't quite have their act together and were, without question, the most inept hotel staff we've had the misfortune to deal with in a long time. The Radisson Hotel Downtown Norfolk and Sheraton Norfolk Waterside Hotel also offer pre-cruise packages with parking. Our fellow passengers recommended them highly.

After resting up a bit, we headed to Nauticus, The National Maritime Center, which houses an interactive science and technology center as well as the Hampton Roads Naval Museum. Berthed alongside is the battleship Wisconsin, one of the largest battleships ever built by the US Navy. Nearby, Waterside Festival Marketplace has shopping (touristy and sort of cheesy), food, and a bit of nightlife. 

For dinner, there are a few restaurants in Waterside with a harbor view as well as chic little sidewalk cafés lining Granby Street.

Embarkation
As we discovered when we sailed on Radisson Diamond, Radisson Seven Seas makes embarkation a seamless process. With only 68 passengers embarking in Norfolk, there were no lines for check-in and we found ourselves one board with champagne in hand in record time. Let's back up... the Seven Seas Navigator was operating a split-homeport deployment and most passengers were embarking/debarking in New York City the next day. For those passengers, Norfolk was a port of call and many took advantage of day-long tours to Colonial Williamsburg.

Suites
All accommodations on Seven Seas Navigator are suites, all with an ocean view and most with balconies. As I settled into unpacking, Mel explored our quarters and took care of details (filling out the form to request spirits for the stocked mini-bar) and checked out the walk-in closet and marble bathroom with its separate tub and shower. Duly impressed with the amenities... wait until he meets the butler! Aside from the abundant storage, my favorite feature was the dressing table. My least favorite feature was the sofa. I spent a lot of time working at the coffee table (raised to dining table height) and the sofa was comfortable enough for sitting--just not very deep for lounging and watching television.

However, I fell in love with the dressing table with its divided drawer for cosmetics, the magnifying make-up mirror, and bathroom toiletries by Aveda. There are multiple electrical outlets at desk and dressing table in US and Euro configurations. Little details like that reflect well on Radisson Seven Seas' attention to passenger comfort and convenience.

The bottom line: Suites are ultimately for sleeping. The pillows and duvets are heavenly. On the other hand, one of the mattresses on our pushed-together "queen"-size bed needed either to be flipped over or replaced.

More--> Radisson Seven Seas Navigator, Part 2


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