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Cruise Views

Luxury Trio With 2 Personalities

November 05, 1995|SHIRLEY SLATER and HARRY BASCH

Radisson Seven Seas Cruises' Song of Flower, Hanseatic and Radisson Diamond are a unique trio as luxury cruise ships go. First off, they're not for the faint of wallet. And, though the ships are dramatically different, they share certain elements in common: a small passenger complement, suite-like accommodations, excellent food and service, a no-tipping policy and calls at exotic ports all over the world.

The Fort Lauderdale-based company came under its present name Jan. 1 with the merger of two small cruise companies--Florida's Radisson Diamond Cruises and San Francisco's Seven Seas Cruises.

The 188-passenger Hanseatic is probably the most luxurious expedition ship in our book, and we've been aboard them all. As a state-of-the-art, environmentally correct vessel, it competes only with Hapag-Lloyd's Bremen, the former Frontier Spirit, which is marketed in North America by Golden Bear Travel. The ship usually carries a mix of North Americans and Europeans, many of the latter German-speaking.

This winter, the Hanseatic makes its annual Antarctic voyages, beginning with a Nov. 19 voyage from the Galapagos down the west coast of South America to Puerto Montt, Chile, visiting Peruvian ports that access Cuzco and Machu Picchu, as well as the Paracas National Reserve near Pisco. A flight over the famous Nazca Lines, visible only from the air, is also available.

In Chile, the ship will anchor off the colonial city of Iquique, as well as Antofagasta, where passengers visit the Atacama desert. The 14-night sailing, which also includes four days in the Galapagos Islands, starts at $7,345 per person, double occupancy, including round-trip air fare.

For its Antarctic season, the Hanseatic offers departures Dec. 16, Jan. 4, 15 and 25, and Feb. 5, 15 and 25, with various itineraries out of Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego. The ship carries 14 inflatable Zodiac landing craft to take you to penguin colonies or around icebergs for great photographs.

All the ship's accommodations are large, 236-square-foot outside cabins with TV and VCR, mini-refrigerator and marble bathrooms that include tub and shower.

The Radisson Diamond, the only major twin-hulled cruise vessel, looks a bit odd to passengers accustomed to traditional mono-hulled cruise ships, but once you're aboard, you can appreciate the extra width, which adds spaciousness to the cabins and public areas. Again, all the accommodations are outside, most with private verandas. If you opt for a cabin without a veranda, you have that additional space dedicated instead to an extra-large sitting area. Mini-bars in each cabin are stocked with a complimentary assortment of alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages, and free wines are served with dinner nightly.

Besides the elegant dining room, where passengers may arrive when they wish and sit where and with whom they please, there is a top deck grill room, where buffet breakfast and lunch is served daily. For some, a major appeal of the Radisson Diamond is the twin-hulled design with four fixed stabilizers computer-controlled to negate rolling, pitching and heaving. We sailed it across the Atlantic last year and found it a very smooth, if slow, ride, even in the rough springtime seas off Portugal.

Radisson Diamond has scheduled some low-cost four-night Caribbean cruises as an introductory sailing from San Juan on Dec. 1, March 1, 5 and 9, and April 13 and 17, at fares starting at $1,895 per person, double occupancy, including round-trip air fare. A pair of three-night sailings April 21 and 24, also including air fare, begin at $1,395 per person, double occupancy.

On the lavish little 172-passenger Song of Flower, all beverages, from wines with dinner to champagnes, cocktails and sodas around the clock, are included in the basic fare, and the food aboard is some of the best offered by any cruise ship.

The ship is based in Asia in the winter, Europe in the summer. A special seven-night series of "Burmese Adventures" this winter sails between Singapore and Rangoon (Yangon) and Burma (Myanmar), departing Dec. 8 and 15, Jan. 12 and 19 and Feb. 13 and 20 at prices beginning at $4,695 per person, double occupancy, including four deluxe hotel nights, all shore excursions, round-trip air fare, gratuities and beverages.

To get free color brochures on any or all of the three ships, see a travel agent or call Radisson Seven Seas at (800) 333-3333.

*

Slater and Basch travel as guests of the cruise lines. Cruise Views appears the first and third week of every month.

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