Cruise editor Brian Major spent five days sailing from Fort
Lauderdale, Fla., to Bermuda aboard Radisson Seven Seas Cruises'
newest ship, the Seven Seas Mariner. His review follows:
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Is there such a thing as a too-spacious
ship? That question might be impossible to answer (or not worth
answering), but it's one that's undeniably posed by Radisson Seven
Seas Cruises' Seven Seas Mariner, the industry's first all-balcony,
While Mariner is likely to develop into another successful
Radisson ship -- with virtually everything a modern luxury vessel
requires to be successful -- it gives off a strangely detached
Although Mariner was nearly full during my cruise, more often
than not it seemed as if there were no more than 100 people
This phenomenon might be due in part to the nature of Radisson's
core passengers, sophisticated travelers who generally prefer
in-port exploration to ship-focused activities.
Radisson ships aren't known for their packed dance clubs or
casinos, and passengers seldom have to battle one another for deck
chairs, even on the sunniest days.
But Mariner's feeling of
emptiness also is influenced by its interior design. While clean
and fresh in appearance, the ship's public areas exhibit a
surprising lack of imagination and creativity.
Moreover, the rooms are exceptionally large, in keeping with the
vessel's high space ratio -- 71.4, which Radisson officials claim
is the highest of any ship afloat.
The result is a ship that too often gives off a cavernous
In other respects, Mariner is simply another outstanding vessel
from the highly regarded Radisson fleet.
Although the Radisson ships are quite different from one
another, the line has expertly created a distinctive style of its
own within cruising's luxury market.
Radisson ships consistently offer a high level of service,
outstanding cuisine and superior accommodations.
Mariner fits snugly into that profile. The 708-passenger,
50,000-ton ship features all of the hallmarks of the 9-year-old
Additionally, this is the first cruise ship in history where
every stateroom category, from deluxe (standard) to "master" suite,
enjoys the sunlight, air and sea views provided by a private
Beyond the obvious benefits, the all-balcony, all-suite
configuration also creates a welcome spirit of equality among
Unlike almost every other ship in cruising, every passenger has
a good cabin aboard Mariner.
Also unlike many high-end fleets, Radisson covers extra costs
like gratuities, wine with dinner and use of the minibar in the
Moreover, Mariner contains plenty of less-than-obvious features
that let discriminating cruisers know they're on a luxury ship.
Staterooms are uncommonly diverse. Among the available
configurations are a 359-square-foot suite with a 163-square-foot
balcony; a 505-square-foot suite with a 97-square-foot balcony; a
623-square-foot suite with an 84-square-foot balcony, and a
1,204-square-foot suite with two balconies totaling 376 square
Every stateroom features a king-size bed (convertible to twins),
bathrobes, hair dryer, TV with VCR, personal safe and
problem with the balconies is their lack of true privacy. Walls
separating the balconies do not extend to the edge of the ship's
rail, meaning guests easily can lean over the rail and see exactly
what their neighbors are up to. The guy next door to me did this
several times, much to my annoyance.
Each cabin offers a walk-in closet and bathrooms finished in
marble. Stateroom decor combines smooth, light-toned woods with
rich fabrics in pale green, burnt orange and gold tones. Decorative
art hangs on the walls above each bed.
The smooth elegance of the staterooms is carried into public
rooms, the highlight of which is a soaring, eight-deck atrium lobby
featuring steel and wood stairways that wrap around three
The ship's main show lounge, the two-deck Constellation Theater,
is appropriately plush with excellent sight lines (no beams or
posts), and the Connoisseur Club is everything an exclusive cigar
room should be, with large leather armchairs, a charming faux
fireplace and nifty decorations.
Mariner also includes Club.com, an Internet center containing 12
terminals, 10 of which are set off in a separate, office-like room;
the other two are positioned at workstations outside the room.
There's also a Judith Jackson spa aboard, and a small
Yet while almost every area aboard Mariner exudes elegance and
refinement, the ship also gives off a distinctive absence of
Perhaps this could be somewhat cured by more fresh flower
arrangements and a more thorough deployment of decorations
But several of Mariner's public rooms seem isolated from other
parts of the vessel, which adds to this air of detachment.
There are other examples. Despite its well-turned decor, the
Connoisseur Club is another room on the vessel that feels cold.
While Club.com is a highly functional facility that offers a
technical aide who teaches computer and Internet classes, it's not
nearly as attractive as Internet cafes on other ships.
Even the atrium looks and feels unfinished. The eight-deck-high
space is sparsely decorated with a handful of wall hangings --
which I can only assume fall into the realm of modern art --
illuminated by colored spotlights. A very different approach during
an age of cruise-ship atriums that more often produce sensory
Most of Mariner's public rooms are concentrated on decks five,
six and seven. Strangely, one of the ship's most attractive public
rooms, the deck 12 Observation Lounge, is one of its
The lounge features a smooth, contemporary design with a
semicircular bar and comfortable chairs and small sofas while
affording a 180-degree view of the sea from the ship's bow.
The lounge is most attractive at night, but in a phenomenon
common to many ships, the space is under utilized by
Why? Perhaps it's because this area seldom has a defined role,
such as a dance club or main meeting space. Also, its location high
up at the very bow of the ship separates the room from other parts
of the vessel.
Mariner truly shines in the dining arena, with flexibility and
fine cuisine among the hallmarks.
The vessel has four restaurants, with the main dining room,
Compass Rose, serving all guests breakfast, lunch and dinner in
single open seatings. La Veranda restaurant offers casual
breakfast, lunch and dinner in an indoor/outdoor setting.
Also, there are two reservations-only restaurants open only for
dinner. Signatures features cuisine prepared in classic French
style under the auspices of the famed cooking academy Le Cordon
Latitudes offers an eclectic mix of nouvelle dishes that
Radisson calls "cosmopolitan cuisine."
Grilled food is available poolside, and Mariner also offers
24-hour room service.
Guests can opt to have meals from the Compass Rose dinner menu
served in their suites, course-by-course.
Mariner's deck 12 features more on-board facilities for active
vacationers than any other ship in the fleet. Deck 12 includes a
paddle tennis court, golf driving tees (with protective netting),
shuffleboard courts and a jogging track that circles above the pool
The pool area, on deck 11, is large and spacious with three
whirlpools fronting the top of the atrium.
This area also is seldom used, a trait common to many Radisson
ships, as sun worshipping is not a favored activity of many of the
The true test of any ship, however, is the reaction of its
target audience, and most of the passengers I talked to enjoyed
Mariner's upscale facilities and outstanding food.
More than once, however, the guest I was speaking with cast a
wary eye about and asked in a low voice, "Where is everyone?"