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Michael Bragg

Age: 27

Occupation:Hotel Management

Number of Cruises: 20

Cruise Line: Regent Seven Seas

Ship: Seven Seas Mariner

Sailing Date: n/a

Itinerary: Asia

Radisson Seven Seas Cruises offers a premium, upscale product with a small fleet of modern ships. Wanting to take my first cruise in Asia, I chose the 3-year old, all suite, all balcony SEVEN SEAS MARINER.

EMBARKATION:
My family and I arranged our own transportation to Tokyo, in lieu of a pre-cruise excursion provided by Radisson. We arrived in Tokyo the day before the cruise in order to recover from jet-lag and allow for any delays or anything unexpected. Our first full-day in Japan was a privately organized city tour. After our tour, we were taken to the beautiful MARINER which was docked right near the city center. We were impressed with the ease of boarding. There was no wait and no line, and once onboard, we were directed to the main show lounge to check-in. We were told our suites would not be ready for 30 minutes, but within 5 minutes an announcement had been made that all suites were ready. It was quick, seamless and hassle-free. Maybe the fact that our 700-passenger ship would only have around 450 guests for this cruise had to do with the ease of embarkation - but something tells me that even with a full ship, Radisson would have handled the proceedings just as well.

SERVICE:
There is not much negative to say about service on a ship like this. Radisson provides one of the finest cruise experiences available and at a very steep price. I paid around $10,000 for this 2 week experience. And while the staff were friendly and professional, I found the level of attentiveness was very spotty and not as blemish-free as other premium lines I have traveled on. The first day onboard, I was actually shocked when a guest asked a server for an espresso at La Veranda (the casual breakfast buffet location). When the server brought it back and it wasn't up to the guest's standards, the South African female server said, "Well, I'm afraid this isn't Starbucks!" Other than that bit of unprofessionalism, I found the staff showing smiles and warmth. I have to say, though, that service in the Compass Rose (the main formal dining room) was fair to poor most meals. We would wait and wait for water, sodas and bread. Servers just stood around talking or completely disappeared. This was very surprising and definitely lowered the overall cruise experience. I thought perhaps that since this cruise was not very full, the staff were a little more relaxed about their performance. However, as I have learned after working in the hotel industry for years, the slow periods are the times for staff to really shine and give that extra special attention to guests. My family and I did not care for the open-seating policy onboard, as we prefer to have the same servers night after night. We like for them to know our preferences and build a relationship with us. Fortunately we were able to have the same servers at each meal if we made a point to request it. We made a point to request a terrific Hungarian girl named Renata as our server for lunch. At dinners, we tried to always get a young, good-looking German server named Jerome. He always had smiles and jokes and would give us his recommendations off of each menu.

ENTERTAINMENT:
The shows onboard were very well done. Every few nights we would get a Broadway-style show by the main singers & dancers. One show was "Thoroughly Modern Broadway" which showcased songs from "Mamma Mia", "Fiddler On The Roof" and others. The next show was called "Beyond Imagination" which was a smorgasbord of song and dance styles. Another night was supposed to be a Beatles-themed show which was cancelled. The problem was that a new group of singers/dancers were brought on mid-way through the cruise and they apparently weren't prepared. On the other nights, a variety of entertainers performed - namely two females called Diva Diva who played classical piano music and sang, an Australian guy who sang cheesy music and was dubbed "International Superstar" and Mike Neun who is a storyteller/comedian. Mike Neun has been on almost every cruise I have been on and very much needs to retire. He is very stale and repetitive. Overall, I really enjoyed the Broadway shows. However, I have never been much for the other variety performers and acts.

THE SHIP:
This is a stunningly beautiful ship. From the graceful lines of the outside, to the bright, airy, modern decor inside, this is a classy and very European ship. The main atrium has glass elevators which go up and down 11 decks. The pool area is roomy. And the suites are gorgeous and spacious. Each suite has a balcony, and I have to say that there is nothing like cruising with a balcony. There is one main show lounge, which is 2 decks high. The sightlines are great and there is not a bad seat in the house. There is an extremely underutilized disco called "Stars". Each evening the room would blast hot dance tracks, yet remain completely empty, giving the bartenders nothing to do but stand there and talk. In fact, the entire ship is quiet after 10pm. I entertained myself most nights with Internet access at Club.com, which was empty at night and packed by day. The Compass Rose is the main dining room, yet there are 2 alternative dining rooms that are by reservation only. One of the alternative venues was turned into a "Roadside Diner" for the last week of the cruise. The food was horrible - it was a Europeans idea of classic American diner food! It was a cute idea, but poorly executed. This a spacious ship in which we didn't feel crowded - most of the time! The only complaint I have is how crowded the ship's lobby got when we disembarked in various ports. The elevators were jammed with guests and Decks 5 & 6 were packed. It was a stressful experience and unusual to experience on such a top-notch cruise line. What I also didn't like about the layout was the location of the Mariner Bar. This was a room which had various lectures during the day. Well, you had to walk through it to get to the dining room for lunch. And each time I did it, I felt as if I was walking right through the lecture. It was always embarrassing.

THE PORTS:
We sailed from Tokyo, Japan - Osaka, Japan - Hiroshima, Japan - Dalian, China - Tianjin/Beijing, China - Shangahi, China - Hong Kong, China. Asia was more than I had expected and each destination was a revelation. The people were beautiful and friendly and each port had its own charm. I also liked Radisson's itinerary as we had overnights in Osaka, Tianjin, Shanghai and Hong Kong, allowing us even more time to explore and live the nightlife. Shanghai was especially amazing. It was like Las Vegas on steroids and I spent the entire night out shopping, drinking and just taking it all in. I highly recommend Asia. It blew me away and I am anxious to return and explore. We were there in September/October and the weather was tropical - warm with a mix of rain and sun.

OVERALL:
This was an unforgettable cruise! The destinations made the trip for me, personally. And the SEVEN SEAS MARINER is not a bad way to travel! It is one of the finer cruise ships afloat and caters to an older, affluent crowd who go to sleep early and rise early. They like personal attention, fine food and the best life has to offer. Radisson will meet those expectations. I think Radisson offers a great product. However, for the same amount of money, I prefer Crystal Cruises. They are Radisson's main competition, but I find that Crystal's staff far outshines Radisson's. I also go for Crystal due to the fact that their ships offer more nightlife and foster a more lively, social experience. This was my second Radisson cruise, and I will sail them again. But if Crystal is going where I want to go, I will most likely book them first.

 

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