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Radisson Seven Seas Voyager - 1st Look; Cruisemates Cruise Ship Feature Articles

| Tuesday, 05 Mar. 2013

On April 1, Radisson Seven Seas Cruises' (RSSC) newest ship, Seven Seas Voyager, made its debut after being christened on March 31. I sailed on the new ship earlier in March on a five-night shakedown cruise in the western Mediterranean. As the term shakedown implies, not everything was fully operational, but all indications were that this ship will provide an outstanding luxury cruise experience.

Seven Seas Voyager is approximately 46,000 tons and carries 700 guests, giving it one of the industry's highest "space ratios," or amount of space per passenger. This spaciousness is felt in all public areas, especially the restaurants, showrooms/lounges and pool areas. Voyager is RSSC's second ship with an all-suite/all-balcony design (Mariner is the other). These are the only two ships in the cruise industry with this configuration.

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There are 12 categories of suites comprising essentially seven different types. Five of the categories and about two-thirds of all the staterooms are Deluxe Suites; they're 356 sq. ft. (the inside space is 306 sq. ft.; the balcony is 50). From there, accommodations go up in size to the Master Suite, with 1,403 sq. ft. (1,216 inside and 187 outside). The Deluxe Suites are about 18 percent bigger than those on Seven Seas Mariner; but configurations have been changed.

All suites feature individual temperature control, European king-size beds (which can be configured to twins), spacious walk-in closets, ample drawer space, marble appointed bathrooms with tubs and separate showers (very nice), cotton bathrobes, hair dryers, color TV, refrigerators, easy-to-operate personal safe, telephone with voice mail and other luxury appointments. Toiletries are very nice and befitting the quality of the product. Butler service is offered for guests in Penthouse Suites B and above.

Highlights

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The ship's inside public spaces, mostly located on decks four and five, have a one-corridor design that will make for excellent traffic flow even when the ship is full. The Constellation Theater is very comfortable, with sofa and individual chair seating. There are a couple of multi-purpose lounges with live music before and after dinner (as well as a very nice observation lounge forward on Deck 11). The spa area is efficient but Spartan in d‚cor and limited in size. The pool area on Deck 11 is well laid out and should provide ample space when the ship is in warm areas. On my cruise, it was a bit chilly to indulge.

Dining

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There are four restaurants on Seven Seas Voyager. Compass Rose on Deck 4 is the main restaurant; La Veranda, a daytime restaurant on Deck 11 for breakfast and lunch buffets becomes a Mediterranean Bistro in the evening. Both have completely open seating. Dinners here are excellent with lots of choices. In Compass Rose, service is traditional. In La Verandah, all but the main courses are served buffet style, but in a white tablecloth atmosphere with elegant lighting, it really works very well.

In Latitudes and Signatures, the other two dinner restaurants, reservations are required, and you should make them early in the cruise, as the rooms are quite popular. Latitudes features different menus each night; with cuisine that highlights different regions of the U.S. At Signatures, the famous French Cordon Bleu School of cooking is featured; there is a wider range of options, and it was an utterly fabulous dinner. The highlight had to be the Tarte Tiede au Chocolat et aux Framboises. (In English, it's chocolate tart with raspberries; either way, it was exceptional.) Wines are complimentary with dinner and the selection is excellent. There is a very nice wine list, but the basic wines are good enough that you might not need to indulge further.

Entertainment

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RSSC has acknowledged that production shows have not been one of its strengths. The company has set out to correct that with the productions shows debuting on Voyager. There were two during this sailing (featuring four primary singers plus a production cast of six). One was a Broadway-style revue entitled "Lullaby of Broadway." It contained highlights of shows from the 50s through today, with lots of numbers and costume changes. But for me the real highlight was the very innovative (at least on board a cruise ship) show entitled "On a Classical Note." As the title suggests, the content, not very traditional, featured opera, classical music and light opera. Here the four lead singers really had an opportunity to show off their vocal talents, including a set where they staged three different Gilbert and Sullivan operettas at once. Kudos to RSSC for taking the risk that the audience will appreciate this decidedly upscale approach to entertainment (the third show will be a rock 'n roll revue).

Value

Luxury cruises are not going to be inexpensive. However, I don't think there's ever been a better time to take a luxury cruise. Prices have probably never been lower, as all cruise operators are facing crunches and doing what they can to entice travelers to book. And RSSC has a great all-inclusive program on Voyager that makes value and luxury work together. Here's what's included with the cruise fare: all gratuities; complimentary wine with dinner; all soft drinks, mineral waters, juices and hot beverages; and initial in-suite bar set-up of premium liquor.

Itineraries

Seven Seas Voyager will spend the spring in the Mediterranean, the summer in the Baltic. She'll be in the Med again in the fall before heading to the U.S. for the winter (Caribbean, Panama Canal and then Mexico at the end of the year). All of this of course is subject to change based on what happens in the coming weeks and months.

For additional information, visit http://explore.rssc.com.

Conclusion

Seven Seas Voyager is going to provide her guests a wonderful luxury cruise experience with spacious comfortable surroundings in a variety of great destinations.

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