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Copyright © 1995-2003 
Linda Coffman

Radisson Seven Seas Mariner
April 2001
Fort Lauderdale/Bermuda/Fort Lauderdale

On Board Impressions from a Passenger's Perspective by Pete

When Radisson says check in is at three o'clock, they mean three. Check in was quick and efficient, provided you had passport and credit card in hand and didn't ask any questions. Lots of people asked questions. Everyone who showed up early waited until three. One reason is to give the staff a chance for one quiet meal alone every week or so. We had been warned by the Radisson people at the hotel. The whole damn ship had been chartered for the previous cruise by a computer company for the trip from Mexico back to Fort Lauderdale. They all showed up at Pier 66 babbling about the ship. Really ticked off people who wanted to book both canal trips back to back and make it a round trip out of Fort Lauderdale. 

They mean no tipping. You rarely have the same wait staff twice in a row so there is no favorite to feel guilty about. The management said we had already been charged the equivalent of their tips and that they receive it in their salary. Not having to shell out the obligatory 15% each time you order a drink was nice. We were told not to tip the stevedores because the company hired them from the city for the day and they were well paid. However, when the fellow piled our bags on his dolly and asked about tips for the porters, I paid. 

Our tall, blond, blue eyed, statuesque, Icelandic stewardess was no where to be found the last evening or morning. Would have liked to have said goodbye. She might have been embarrassed about locking us out on the balcony for over an hour.  My wife didn't think she was too bright. Felt she could have taken our fruit bowl to the pantry instead of walking in with a banana and apple in each hand to replenish it. Did keep the fridge full of wine, beer, coke, and water. Had our choice of sheets and blankets or duvets. Stewardess liked the duvets because the bed was easier to make. Heavy sigh from my wife, although she did prefer it. My wife  thought I spent far too much time with the stewardess. Did I mention she was a tall blond Icelander?

The ship was designed, built and is operated with you (the passenger) in mind. The marble baths with mirror placed in the tub by a pervert, the walk in closet with suit hangers, dress hangers, shirt hangers, and padded hangers for what I don't know, king size bed, sitting area, and balcony. That was the cheap room. The penthouses had butlers. It wasn't perfect, the q-tips and cotton balls didn't show up until the second morning.

Didn't open our second bottle of liquor, brought it back to the house sitter. Didn't drink the bottle of champagne in silver ice bucket waiting in stateroom either. Brought it back for the commemorative label. Didn't need the champagne, we were handed a flute full when we stepped aboard, I guess to fortify us for trip to room. Everything was an inaugural event with rum punch and champagne. I had a buzz from the time we stepped aboard until about Daytona on the way home. 

There was enough to do but you had to be able to take care of yourself. A lot of those people had no intention of taking care of themselves. We really didn't care for the passengers. Older, moneyed (lots of widows), very pompous people. There were only two other couples we would eat with. Tables for two were very popular. We would walk through the lounge and if we didn't see someone we wanted to join, we would eat alone and enjoy talking to each other, something never done on other cruises. They certainly didn't like for people to ask to be seated in a waiter of choice's station nor would they let you pick out your location. The table picker outer always tried to seat us with someone. The couple times we agreed were disasters.  My wife didn't think my saying "it was nice listening to you" was the proper way to end the dinner. Once we were seated at a table for four and promised we would be alone, only to have them bring another couple. A few times we wound up talking to the people at the table for two next to us. 

The restaurant staff (French) were very friendly and professional but clearly did not like the American propensity to be buddies with the help. (Not our Icelandic stewardess. We know all about her. Her life growing up in small fishing village, working as an au pair at 18, then on various cruise lines. Did I mention she is a tall, blond...) 

Lunch at the Veranda was better. Compass Rose a bit over done for a light meal.  Dinners in Compass Rose were the highlight of the day. Never finished without wanting to leave a $20 tip. We requested lemons for tea and fish. Brought it in a silver squeezer. Restaurant staff was French. Very, very, very French. Busboys on a par with waiters on other ships, waiters were absolutely superb. Thought it was interesting the girls were encouraged to wear glasses rather than contacts for the proper image.

Dinner at Cordon Bleu Signatures was a disappointment, only three courses as opposed to Compass Rose's five. Latitudes was a fun diversion, a sampling of Middle Eastern food. Evening meal at the Veranda was Mediterranean, again a fun diversion. We had sumptuous breakfast in Compass Rose, light lunch in Veranda (we tried), and bulked out in Compass Rose at night. Going through the buffet line at lunch in the Veranda... first, never a line. If you were either frail or fetching, a waiter took a plate and walked you through the line, explaining every offering and built your plate for you. I tagged along listening, doing my plate all by myself. Then he would take you to your table, outside in port, inside at sea. Being open seating, meals at the sit down restaurants were not prepared ahead of time. You waited, but it was worth it.

Due to the popularity of the tables for two, they said they would probably reconfigure the Compass Rose. Couples don't linger as long after eating as groups do.  We found the Compass Rose a bit overdone for lunch. Portions there were tiny at lunch time, much larger for dinner. You had to have all the courses to feel stuffed.

Didn't mention dress. People voluntarily dressed one step up from required. Formal: everyone, except me, in a tux. Even a 4 year old with his grandfather. Semi-formal (they used another word): jackets required after six, tie optional. Everyone, except me, wore a tie. Casual: Sports shirts. Everyone, except me, wore a jacket. Common sight in dining room: he in Armani suit, she in expensive black sheath, youngster in tee shirt, baggy pants, with ball cap on sideways.

Incidentally, my pet peeve with the cruise industry. This is where someone can make their mark by straightening them out. There is no such word as "disembarkation." You embark or you debark, period. If the troops at Normandy had been told to report to their disembarkation stations, there never would have been an invasion. Civilians have no business trying to run a ship. 

There was one show that started at ten, a little late after five glasses of wine. Troupe was young and energetic, no expense spared on sets and costumes, however. Very funny comic, I sat in the balcony so he couldn't get his hands on me, and a dreadful magician. Casino was small but paid well. Fifty TV channels including three playing continuous first run movies. I liked the one that showed exactly were we were on a nautical chart.  Piles of videos in the library for tape deck in stateroom. This wasn't the bake by the pool set. Very much like the Delta Queen steamboats. If you couldn't keep yourself occupied, you were out of luck. We spent the first few days asking where everyone was. There just wasn't anyone around. If I had a 1200 sq ft room with living room and dining room and butler, I probably wouldn't have left either. One couple we talked to said they had been invited to see a penthouse, later invited the couple to their room to kill their bottle of champagne. They came but brought their butler with a tray of canapés. I had to call room service. Room service meals were served by course. They would bring the first, then clear the mess and serve the second. Nice way to watch getting under way and sailing from port.

The ship's photographers were most unobtrusive. You had to ask to have your picture taken, far cry from having a camera shoved in your face every time you turn around. I supposed it was because a lot of those old goats sailed with someone other than their wives.

The bridge is straight from star wars. A fellow with his master's license and I visited together. The Captain intervened when our questions exceeded the second officer's English. Had chairs brought out. Stayed forever. The engines are 8500 hp electric trolling motors extending down into clean water. Very efficient, absolutely no vibration or harmonics. The Captain felt the other fellow's belief that the seals would eventually leak and my feeling the pods were susceptible to being sheared off to be impertinent.

There was never a crowd or line, restaurants were never more than half full, could arrive late and sit where you wanted in the theater, absolutely no people around to bother you. Expected the last morning to be a goat rope. Slept in, Compass Rose less than 1/3 full, excellent service, back to room, walked off the ship by ourselves when our color was called. My wife waited with bags while I got the car and we were on the road by 9:15.

One third of the hotel staff came from the Navigator, one third from other Radisson ships and hotels, the final third from the industry at large. A lot were from either Seabourn or Silverseas, whichever was bought by Carnival. They said standards plummeted when Carnival took over. Most Radisson past cruisers said that except for all balconies and larger rooms, they preferred Navigator and Paul Gauguin.

With our booking bonus, free drinks (my wife figured that since wine glasses were kept topped, I drank the equivalent of three glasses if white, five if we had red, with main course), and a $100 laundry credit because the washers on each deck weren't working, we left the ship with a $21 credit. That included tours, her trip to the spa for her first time ever do over, sending everything to the laundry and cleaners (so we came back with bags full of clean clothes), and photographs.

The ship appeared the same size as the Ryndam, parked behind us when we returned to Fort Lauderdale. You would have loved every minute, from the no line two minute check in to the absolutely effortless debarkation. Seeing the protective cover on the bedspread (for bags) the last evening brought tears to some. I don't think highly of cruises and five days is the most I can stand. Unfortunately we usually go for seven. This was ten and, while my opinion about the people who go on cruises was confirmed, I really hated to see it end.

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