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Old November 11th, 2003, 02:03 PM
stan
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Default VOYAGER REVIEW -- NEW -- OCT. 15 Venice to Athens

My partner Doug and I took our first cruise on the Radisson Voyager October 15-24...and what a choice! From the moment we stepped onto the ship in Venice, we felt at home in the luxurious surroundings and pampering of the Radisson family. Additionally, We were very lucky as this cruise was only 70% full and the weather cooperated splendidly for mid-October in the Mediterranean (sunny every day except for one day of rain in Corfu!).

Our full itinerary was Venice, Dubrovnik, Corfu, Nafplion, Santorini, Rhodes, Kusadasi, and finally Athens--one of the longer Mediterranean itineraries (10 days total).

Here are the high points of the Voyager:
1. Ship was magnificent, sparkling clean, beautiful design and decor, spacious as expected. It was just the right size to "get lost in" if you wanted to, yet intimate enough to get to know a lot of people. Facilities were all excellent, especially the Judith Jackson Spa, casino, theaters, library, etc.

2. We had a Penthouse Suite B with Butler on Deck 8, a bit larger than the already-spacious regular deluxe suites. Again, sparkling clean, soooo roomy, and we loved the washer and dryers right down the hall. the in-room bar setup of 4 bottles of premium liquor was a nice addition (although we didn't need it!). Our butler brought daily canapes and the champagne flowed!

It was so lovely to sit on the balcony in our bathrobes and watch the beautiful sunrises and sunsets over the Aegean Sea. We saw all of the room types on the ship, and we were more than happy with our choice (if we'd been in one of the larger suites, we may not have left our room!).

Others we talked to said that cabins in mid-ship were better (decks 7-9), and that there was no benefit really to being higher up (and it was a pain to go up and down the stairs/elevators all the time).

3. Dining options were wonderful! In fact, we didn't have a bad meal on the ship! Compass Rose had the most variety of course, and they had no problem with us ordering more than one appetizer, entree or appetizer. Portions were, thankfully, smaller, something everyone seemed to enjoy since it left more room for the yummy desserts (or second entrees!). Since the ship wasn't crowded at all, we managed to eat twice at Latitudes and twice at Signatures (New York night at Latitudes was very memorable). A good hint is to wait outside the door of Latitudes and/or Signatures for cancellations at these reservations-only restaurants; many people got in at the last minute. We were also pleased with the more casual food in the Bistro. Alcohol was NOT a problem as we could order drinks anytime at meals, or pay the very reasonable rates at the bar.

We ordered room service breakfast a few times and while we liked the convenience, some of the hot dishes invariably were cold. So I'd recommend fussy breakfast eaters get dressed and go to the dining rooms! Room service was able to whip up special request snacks (like hamburgers and milk shakes) for us a couple of afternoons--no problem!

4. Entertainment was stellar. The 3 Broadway-style song and dance revues were great, as was the racy comedian and pianist. We were most surprised by the lounge pianist Chris Hamilton (he's a brilliant Oxford grad and ex-lawyer from London), who could entertain anyone with his skillful piano-playing, smart monologues, and special shows on Cole Porter and Noel Coward. A real crowd pleaser! If you see him, say hi from Stan and Doug.

There were plenty of interesting on board activities and lectures to keep us busy.

5. Staff and service were six-star all the way. Fun Cruise Director Barry Hopkins set the tone, and he got to know most passengers by name. Our butler Sujee was so sweet (although we got reservations at the restaurants on our own), and everyone who served us in the restaurants was professional, courteous, and upbeat. The hotel staff and front desk/tour desk staff could handle any problem that came up, especially the chaos that ensued with the impending taxi strike in Athens. The no-tipping policy (which we decided to adhere to so as to not mess up the policy for others) had absolutely no negative effect on the staff's work ethic or upbeat attitude. That fine Radisson training really works!

6. Fellow passengers were friendly, fun, and well-traveled. Several people we met were staying on the ship for 4 segments or more. It was remarkably diverse, from a 95 year old, sprightly Englishwoman who knew Churchill, to many retirees, adventuresome singles, and even some younger honeymooners and stylish gay couples. We did share tables with strangers at Latitudes since it was such a hard reservation to get. We weren't sure what to expect as we had to be some of the youngest people on board, but we ended up LOVING our dining companions. Everyone was in a good mood on this ship! And we ran into more than a few dedicated Cruise Critic folks on board!


The only VERY minor criticisms:
1. Computers are PAINFULLY slow and sometimes you'd pay $4--$5 without seeing many web pages! We had one day when the satellite was down with no computer access.

2. Shore Excursions information was sometimes outdated and/or wrong/misleading. For example, they said it was an "adventure" to get from Fira town to Oia on Santorini, when on our own, we took a $1 public bus and arrived in style in 30 minutes to the most spectacular town on the island of Santorini! Some fellow passengers complained that the excursions in Corfu, Rhodes, and Santorini were disappointing with not much to see.

Of course, we know that all ship excursions, on any cruise line, are over-priced and they want to sell them; Radisson just need to be more upfront about the details and or alternate touring possibilities.

Therefore, more adventuresome types should go ahead and try to do the excursions on their own (depending on the itinerary of course).

3. Glaringly (because of the stellar service we experienced elsewhere), the poolside barbeque/casual lunch staff was a bit curt and/or forgetful at times. Very, very minor.

We can't say enough positive things about the Radisson Seven Seas Voyager. Everything about her and the cruise exceeded our expectations in every way; the rooms, facilities, staff, etc. have spoiled us for any future cruises!

The Radisson Voyager is truly six-star, luxury cruising at its finest. We miss her already!

If you have questions, feel free to contact me.

Stan Wu
Los Angeles, CA
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Old November 11th, 2003, 08:11 PM
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Default Re: VOYAGER REVIEW -- NEW -- OCT. 15 Venice to Athens

Stan.. thanks for taking the time to write a review. Enjoyable read, especially since we were just on her in Aug.

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