RADISSON SEVEN SEAS MARINER -- A ship is a ship is a ship. The
initial awe of the cruise experience -- the vessels sheer size, the
beauty of the atrium, the array of onboard activities and the
quality of service -- tends to fade as first-timers turn into
repeat cruisers, as wonder turns into expectancy, as appreciation
gives way to a sense of entitlement.
In a very broad
sense, cruise ships are created equal. Its the passengers who
differ. Some prefer Carnival, some cruise only Princess, some sail
only Silversea, and so on. So lets take the experience to a basic,
elementary level. What do most people like?
They like the
They like good
They like a
Will this ship,
the Seven Seas Mariner, pass the qualifying examination?
When I entered
the lobby of the Seven Seas Mariner, my home for the next seven
days, the staff greeted me by name and handed me a flute of
champagne. A small thing, but very nice. (Thats an A+.)
wine and personal greeting was the start of my seven-day affair
with food and drink on the Mariner.
First was the
Each day between
4 p.m. and 5 p.m., the Horizons Lounge
presents a high tea with scones and clotted cream, tea sandwiches,
tiny desserts almost too pretty to eat (I said almost), flambe
demonstrations and the soft sounds of a piano.
food, lots of choices
Mariner carries 700 passengers, which gives people plenty of room
to spread out. Surprisingly for a ship of this size, the Mariner
has four restaurants.
The main event in
the dining category is the Compass Rose Restaurant, decorated in
rich woods with drapery in burgundy and blue. Etched glass
partitions give the large room an intimate feel.
The Compass Rose
also offers an impressive, almost dizzying amount of menu choices.
In addition to the nightly five-course menu, there is a gourmet
sampler dinner menu designed by the executive chef, a low-carb
menu, a light-and-healthy menu, a vegetarian menu and a
change every night along with the complimentary wine.
The La Veranda
restaurant presents a casual buffet by day and sit-down service by
night. The atmosphere and cuisine put me in mind of a Mediterranean
bistro. Thats because the chefs draw their inspiration from the
Mediterranean basin, with an ample range of antipasto, cheeses and
entrees from north Africa, Greece, Italy, France and
Compass Rose is the main restaurant, Signatures is the most formal
dining room aboard the Mariner. Reservations are required.
Signatures, which is connected with the French culinary school Le
Cordon Bleu, serves an a la carte menu of traditional
French-accented selections. The cuisine seemed a bit bland.
(Escargot without garlic? Points deducted here.)
Latitudes is the
smallest and most intimate of the restaurants onboard, and because
of its tucked-away location, its nearly a hideaway -- though
definitely not a hole in the wall. Its an upbeat room with a
cheerful interior and a clean, contemporary style, and it has the
most unusual menu offered aboard the ship. Latitudes fixed menu
delivers up to four separate international nouveau sampler
Tuxes and long
dresses are called for on formal nights. The rest of the time its
elegant casual. Dont feel like dressing up? In-suite dining, with
selections from the complete Compass Rose menu, is available from
And this is no
tired-entree-on-a-tray affair. A waiter arrives with a white linen
tablecloth, napkins and crystal stemware. He pours the wine and
serves the courses one by one, just as they are served in the
Internet cafe, Club.com on Deck 6, is next to the library. More
important, its next to the ships nifty coffee machine gizmo, which
pours out complimentary cappuccino and lattes with a push of a
On Deck 11,
theres a spacious pool area, three whirlpools and -- whats this?
Yet another spot to eat: the casual pool grill.
The thing I liked
best about the accommodations is that every room has a balcony.
Whether its 49 square feet or 73 square feet, its a good spot for
early-morning room service (coffee and croissants,
On the top end of
the scale, the master suite (2,002 square feet) has two balconies,
two bedrooms and two dining rooms, if you count the setup on the
forward balcony. Categories B and up come with butler
cabins, Category H, are 301 square feet; but really, theres not a
bad cabin onboard. Remember, theyre all suites.
The bath in my
suite was large, with marble throughout. But in some suites with
bathtubs there is an awkward, high step into the tub, which could
be a problem for folks with mobility issues and for those who are
more than six feet tall. Some of those tubs have been converted
into showers or had that step lowered. (Thats an A for
the reporter who wrote this article, send e-mail to [email protected].