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Seven Seas Mariner
Regent Seven Seas Cruises

Built in 2001

50,000 tons
700 passengers (double capacity)

A Ship Preview in Charleston, South Carolina

by Linda Coffman

Radisson Seven Seas MarinerIf all southern cities were invited to a cotillion, Charleston would be the belle of the ball. Known for her graciousness and hospitality, there could be no more fitting port of call on the southeastern coast to greet the brand-new Radisson Seven Seas Mariner.

Sandwiched between Sunday's dreary rain and Tuesday's chilly wind, Monday dawned sunny and clear. Truly a perfect day to welcome the Mariner's passengers ashore in one of the south's most historic cities.

Located on the Cooper River, Charleston Harbor is always a busy place; however, with the arrival of a luxurious new cruise liner, there was a buzz amongst the shopkeepers along East Bay Street where I browsed a bit before my scheduled tour and luncheon on board. At the foot of Market Street, there she was. More than once, I was asked "Did you see that beautiful ship?!?"

Radisson Seven Seas Mariner

 Atrium Staircase (click photos for larger images)

Coming aboard, my first impression of the reception area was that marine architect Peter Yran & Bjorn Storbraten of Oslo, Norway surely must have visited Charleston for inspiration. From "peach" accents in the "Carolina" blue carpeting underfoot to the skylight eight decks overhead (a semicircular fanlight reminiscent of those found over the entry doors to many of Charleston's most distinguished mansions), the atrium was awash with sunshine and hints of subtle coolness and warmth beyond.

Light floods the Seven Seas Mariner's interior spaces yet can be controlled with the use of horizontal blinds similar to plantation-style shutters that are all the rage in southern homes. From the deepest navy to pale pastel, cool blue tones flow easily into delicate shades of cream throughout public rooms. The generous use of teak paneling, stair rails, and stair landings further warms the decor. With Impressionist-style paintings and still lifes, abundant flower arrangements and greenery, and the occasional use of jewel toned fabric accents, the decor is soothing and serene. 

Starting at the top, the Observation Lounge is ideally suited for Seven Seas Mariner's destination-rich itineraries and offers forward facing areas indoors and an outside deck for her guests to enjoy the passing scenery. The view of Charleston Harbor, the Battery, and Fort Sumpter was stunning from this vantage point. 

Radisson Seven Seas Mariner

The jogging track & expansive pool deck below

Outside and immediately aft, the impressive passenger space-to-guest ratio of 71.4 is readily apparent when one views the vast Lido deck from the circular jogging track above. Further aft are a paddle tennis court and golf practice nets, for those who didn't get enough play on the links in Bermuda.

Down a deck, La Veranda Restaurant serves breakfast and lunch in a casual buffet. Transformed for evening dining into a Mediterranean bistro, guests may choose seating indoors or al fresco beneath a canvas awning, all on fine china and silver. The outdoor teak deck is complemented with teak dining tables and chairs. 

For passengers enjoying a day in the sunshine, the poolside grill offers another even more casual luncheon option. From aft to forward, a stroll along the pool deck seems endless. Dotted with loungers sporting thick green and white striped cushions, there won't be any problem finding a place in the sun on the Mariner.

Forward, down on Deck Seven, the Judith Jackson Sea Spa & Salon provides a tranquil haven for relaxation and rejuvenation. Spa treatments and salon services use only pure, plant based products. While the menu of services is quite extensive and the spa treatments very reasonably priced, the salon services seem a bit on the expensive side. Adjacent to the spa is a well laid out gym, large aerobics room, and saunas. Moving aft are boutiques, the photo gallery, and the nicely appointed casino, which has the appearance of a private gaming club.

Radisson Seven Seas Mariner

The dramatic staircase from Stars to the Casino

Descending a spiral staircase from the casino to Deck Six, one makes a grand entrance to Stars Nightclub, a late night dance club. I was particularly intrigued by the combination of fabrics and textures in this ample, yet intimate feeling room.  Wood paneling, a granite colored wall covering, and contrasting blue tub chairs and high backed square chairs in paler shades create an interesting and eclectic mix of styles. The room's highlight is the staircase with an almost industrial feel to the chrome balusters below the teak hand rail. 

Aft is, the computer learning center where guests can brush up on their computer skills or simply check their email, the well-stocked airy library with more computer terminals, and separate card room and conference center beyond.

Moving through the aft foyer portside, Signatures Restaurant is the 100-seat reservations-only restaurant featuring Cordon Bleu chefs and traditional French, regional, nouvelle, and fusion fare. The white table linens are so crisp they fairly snap. Burgundy chairs and etched glass panels create an elegant backdrop for quiet, refined dining.

Starboard, opposite Signatures, the Connoisseur Club is a deliciously comfortable "gentleman's lounge" for the enjoyment of cigars and brandy. A true southern tradition, this very masculine setting has oversized buttery soft leather chairs, huge cigar proportioned ashtrays, and even a faux fireplace. Between blockade running during that unpleasantness Between The States, Rhett Butler would have felt right at home here.

Radisson Seven Seas Mariner

Horizons Lounge

All the way aft, from port to starboard, Horizon Lounge harkens to 1935 and the unorthodox design of the Orion, which included adjacent indoor and outdoor spaces for passenger enjoyment. In the Horizon Lounge, Mariner passenger are treated to a variety of diversions, from afternoon tea to a piano duet at night and dancing either on the recessed circular dance floor inside or just outside under the stars.

Once again moving forward, the Gallery is located along the starboard length of Deck Six. Wicker furnishings and plantings effectively produce a winter garden atmosphere. All that's missing are tropical birds.

Forward on Deck Five is the lower level of the Constellation Theater, an elegant understated show lounge with excellent sightlines from the main floor and balcony. Back in the atrium are the Reception & Concierge Desk, Tour Office, and a Cruise Office where passengers can plan their next Radisson Seven Seas Cruise. From the atrium, three glass elevators climb skyward past human shadow sculptures mounted on the opposite wall and lit by rotating and changing spotlights. These are remarkable and intriguing works of art... so mesmerizing that I nearly forgot to get off the elevator. 

Radisson Seven Seas Mariner

Latitudes Restaurant

Amidship on Deck Five, Latitudes Restaurant, the 70-seat reservations-only restaurant offers tableside preparation, as well as caviar tastings, and other special culinary events. The colorful and creative native artwork of a variety of indigenous peoples is displayed in what would otherwise be a rather plain room. The effect is stunning.

The majority of Seven Seas Mariner's guests dine in the 570-seat Compass Rose Restaurant. The largest restaurant on board is uncrowded, with plenty of space between tables and wood partitions topped with etched glass giving the effect of an intimate smaller room. Decorated in soft tones of yellow, modern art highlights the walls with bright splashes of color. An Austrian crystal chandelier above the Captain's Table reflects a rainbow of changing colored light. With open seating dining, the abundance of tables for two is most appreciated. For our luncheon, I chose light fare--a delicious chilled passion fruit soup, cod with an interesting zesty sauce, and refreshing ice coupe with mango. The service and presentation were impeccable.

Radisson Seven Seas Mariner
Mariner Lounge

Sated after leaving the Compass Rose, we passed through the circular marble floored area that serves as a dining foyer and stopped for a rest in the Mariners Lounge. This lovely area with comfortable seating serves as a piano bar and a delightful spot to meet for pre-dinner cocktails and conversation. Paneled walls separating the bar from the groupings of deep navy chairs and loveseats contain niches with classical bronze sculptures.

Suites & Photo Gallery --> Page Two

Upper right photo courtesy of Radisson Seven Seas Cruises, others © Linda Coffman

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