Seven Seas Navigator Radisson Navigator Ship Review 2004 Radisson Navigator Review

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2004 Date: 1/1/2004

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Email: greg@cruisingreview.com

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Radisson Seven Seas Navigator

Radisson Seven Seas - Seven Seas Navigator - Western Caribbean via Navigator - March 13-20, 2004 - by Greg "Pepe" Giese - Full Review at www.cruisingreview.com This will be my first luxury cruise to the western Caribbean aboard a Radisson ship, and I was really looking forward to it. I have done the western Caribbean itinerary a number of times on Norwegian Cruise Lines, and was curious how it was done aboard the Seven Seas Navigator.

Booking and Pre-Cruise

I booked through Travelocity about a month before the cruise and got one of the few remaining cabins, since it was a spring break week, which is traditionally the busiest time of year for the cruise lines. I highly recommend at least a one day pre-cruise stay at Ft. Lauderdale. The Riverwalk district is just beautiful, with a number of very good restaurants and bars. I have always wanted to try a Segway (electric scooter designed by Dean Kaman) and finally got my chance while at the Riverwalk. They offer a introductory training period followed by a 30 minute tour of the Riverwalk for $39.00 The Segway is really quite novel and fun. It takes only a short while to learn to balance and move about on the Segway, which is very intuitive to your natural movements. Lean forward slightly and you move forward. You can also apply slight pressure to your toes or heels to move forward or backward. It's fun, and a definite must-try.


The Navigator was at Terminal 25 in the Port Everglades facility, and embarkation was smooth and efficient. Within ten minutes, I was shown to my beautifully appointed stateroom (857). The stateroom had a walk-in closet, bar, marble-tiled bathroom and balcony. In true Radisson style, a chilled bottle of champagne awaited me along with a beautiful bouquet of flowers. Typical cabins aboard ships are compact, yet through the ingenious use of mirrors, and fine hardwood trim, you feel like you're in a much larger space. Each stateroom has a stewardess and room steward, which clean and organize your room. You're never out of towels, and your bar is stocked daily. Service is usually twice a day.

Departure and Ship Vibrations

After touring the ship, it was lifeboat drill time, to familiarize the passengers where their muster station was in time of an emergency. After that, everybody gathered on the top decks for a bon-voyage party. As the ship exited Port Everglades accompanied by several tugs and the Port Pilot, we were headed out to sea. As the sun slowly silhouetted the distant Ft. Lauderdale, we pointed south in the Gulf Stream. Probably the first thing I noticed when I was getting ready for dinner, was the vibrations of the ship. At 19 knots, there was a noticeable engine hum and the room shook. The TV was vibrating so loud that later on in the evening, I finally resorted to putting some towels under it to stop the rattling. And just as I was able to dampen one rattle, another would start. It was annoying. Never before had I noticed such noise and vibrations on the past 14 cruises. It is normal to have some ship roll motion, and some creaking. But this was different. For a luxury cruise ship, it is unacceptable. Unfortunately for me, my Stateroom 857 would be loud whenever the ship was underway, which was for six of the seven nights.

Passenger Mix

That night I had dinner in the main restaurant, Compass Rose, which was very good. Radisson has excellent meals aboard all of their ships, and the service and quality is consistent. Since this was a spring break trip, about half of the passengers were families, and there were about 40 kids aboard, which is rare on a Radisson cruise. The balance of the passengers were older couples and a very few singles. This was also a Beatles cruise and a Beatles cover band was aboard which played about three sets, including one by the pool. They did a great job, and the passengers enjoyed their show talent, as well as their music.

First Day at Sea and Formal Night

The first day in this cruise was at sea, which gave the passengers some time to relax and soak up some of the Caribbean sun. The ship followed the Florida coast south, then southwest along the keys, and then past Cuba on way to the Yucatan in Mexico. During these sea days, there is typically a cookout on the pool deck, and on this cruise, they had grilled tuna and swordfish which was incredible. Along with some freshly made salsa, it was one of the best meals of the cruise. I always prefer eat lunch poolside, since the pool deck grill makes great burgers and salads. There's something really great about eating outside under the warm tropical Sun. On this seven day cruise, there was one formal night which was during the day at sea. Formal night is one of my favorite nights on the ship since most dress up in tuxedo's and formal gowns. The captain has a cocktail party, and it gives the passengers time to meet the ship staff and have their photo taken with the captain. That night, I was seated at a table with the Staff Captain and Safety Officer (both Italians). It was a very enjoyable dinner, and the lobster was excellent.

Progresso and Cozumel

Our first port was Progresso, which is on the northeastern tip of the Yucatan, in Mexico. This is a very small port, and mainly caters to industrial shipping. The two main tours are the Uxmal and Chichen Izta tours. I have been to both, and prefer the less crowded Mayan site, Uxmal. Departing just before sunset, the ship headed to Cozumel, Mexico which is where we arrived at about 8:00 a.m. the next morning. Since I have been to Cozumel many times before, I opted for the helicopter tour of Tulum. At 8:15 a.m. a group of five us met at the gangplank to start the tour. Unfortunately, nobody notified the tour operator that we wanted a tour. The liaison for the tour was in NYC, and the helicopter (and pilot) were in Cancun. The tour staff on the ship started tracking the problem, and after two hours of waiting, a helicopter and pilot were sent from Cancun and we were underway. Since we didn't have time to do a walking tour of Tulum, they offered a flight tour of Tulum, and then up the coast to Cancun. In the end, we got a fantastic tour, saw the beautiful Mexican coast, and had a bird's-eye view of tropical resorts, coasts, beaches and the ocean.

Grand Cayman Island

The ship departed early from Cozumel and headed to Grand Cayman Island. We anchored along with about five other cruise ships off of Grand Cayman early in the morning. Since port facilities are very limited here, ships anchor off, and tender passengers ashore. For this stop, I chose the deep sea research sub which goes up to 800 feet deep. Unfortunately, when I showed up to start the tour, I found out that the research sub only had a payload of 600 pounds, which included the pilot and passengers. With the pilot, the sub can take only one full-grown adult (or alternatively, possibly an adult and light child). I told the other passenger to go ahead, since I was in Grand Cayman every year. Afterwards, he had told me that it was an experience of a lifetime, and definitely recommended it.

Key West

Just before sunset, we departed Grand Cayman for Key West, Florida. The next day was a windy day at sea. We were traveling at about 19 knots, into a 20 knot headwind. And while around the pool you are fairly guarded from the wind, if you were up on the top decks, it was enough to blow the drink out of your glass. Just before we arrived at Key West, the Beatles cover band (Revolution) did a 5:45 p.m. show poolside which was very enjoyable. We ate dinner just as the ship reached port in Key West. While the ship docked around 8:00 p.m. at Mallory Square, customs required all passengers present themselves with passports in person in the theater, which took another hour and half, so we were not off the ship until 9:30 p.m. Since my friend Tim was there on his boat in Key West, we met up him and did our favorite bars on and off Duval Street, which is the main drag in Key West. We started at Captain Tony's, then Fat Tuesday's and finally ended up at Rick's, which was just packed with drinking spring breakers.

Day Two at Key West

The next day in Key West was a sunny, and windy day. It was nice to wake up dockside for a change. It was the only night onboard that my stateroom was shaking, rattling and vibrating. I departed the ship in the morning and met Tim at my favorite breakfast spot, Pepe's which is on Caroline Street just a few blocks from the old wharf area. After an scrumptious breakfast omelet at Pepe's, Tim showed my his new boat (a mini-trawler) and then I gave him a tour of the Navigator. That afternoon we had drinks at the dock at the Pier House and soaked up the Key West Sun and boats. The ship departed Key West just before sunset from Mallory Square. As the dock lines were dropped and hauled aboard, several tugs pushed us off the pier and turned the ship around to depart Key West. Just as we entered the ship channel outbound, we were graced with a beautiful sunset on the western horizon.

Ft. Lauderdale - Port Everglades

The ship headed northeast and then north to Ft. Lauderdale. We arrived a bit early and stayed offshore until sunrise, when we then took aboard the Pilot and proceeded in with the assistance of two tugs. The Navigator was dockside at Terminal 29 by 7:30 a.m. Once customs personnel were aboard and accounts cleared, passengers started disembarking the ship via a color-code system by 9:15 a.m. Both the embarkation and disembarkation system are smooth and efficient.

Overall Impressions

My overall impressions of the Navigator were excellent staff and service, but a ship that had so many vibrations and shaking, that I would not cruise on it again. The ship is built (or rebuilt) by Mariotti Shipyards, which also build the Voyager that has a very similar vibration that is present only in the aft theater. In my fifteen cruises, this is the first that has had a vibration problem (all the time). For a luxury cruise ship, this is unacceptable. For a modern cruise ship to have vibrations all the time while underway, is ridiculous. In this day and age of computer hull modeling, hull tank testing, and efficient hull designs, vibrations should be designed out at an early stage. Navigator would make a great stationary dockside hotel, but its future as a luxury cruise ship is limited. Radisson has a host of other excellent ships, but without the vibration problem. I'd choose another ship for a cruise, and skip navigator. Without a doubt, Radisson has some of the best ship staff, crew and service available anywhere, and it was for that reason that the cruise was salvaged. What I like best about Radisson is that the service and staff are consistent throughout the its fleet. For a complete review, with photos, please see www.cruisingreview.com

CONTACT TEL: 608-238-6001 Email: greg@cruisingreview.com