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Seven Seas Voyager elevates Radisson style

June 15, 2003|Harry Basch | Special to The Times

There has always been a disparity in the Radisson Seven Seas fleet, with its twin-hulled Radisson Diamond; the tiny, much-loved Song of Flower; the Tahiti-based Paul Gauguin; the expedition ship Hanseatic; and the new additions Mariner and Navigator. Now, with the debut of the Seven Seas Voyager, which has an all-suite, all-balcony design, the fleet moves into the upper ranges of luxury cruising.

The 49,000-ton, medium-sized ship carries only 700 passengers, so nowhere does it feel crowded -- not on the pool deck, in the public rooms or in any of the four dining rooms.

Entertainment can be found throughout the ship. The Constellation Theater is a stellar two-deck showroom where Seven Seas presents three new production shows, with music from the 1970s, Broadway hits and the highly applauded "On a Classical Note," which blends Strauss, Mozart, Gilbert & Sullivan and Gershwin in a stunning, well-performed show.

The forward Observation Lounge, with two mounted telescopes that offer great views in the daytime, becomes a cocktail lounge in the evening with entertainment; the Horizon Lounge is a venue for late-night entertainers but is mostly popular because of its large dance floor. Jazz lovers head for the Voyager Lounge every evening. Cigar smokers have the Connoisseur Club, where they can relax in large leather chairs in front of a faux fireplace.

Other public areas include the casino, a shopping boulevard and, for those who want to check the stock market or contact folks at home, an Internet cafe, which has coffee makers. A computer room nearby offers instruction in a variety of computer programs.

Forward on Deck 6 is the Judith Jackson Sea Spa & Salon, a beauty salon with a spa offering massages ($40 to $165), facials ($40 to $110), body treatments and baths ($25 to $135). The spa is next to a large aerobics room and a gym with treadmills, stair steppers and other exercise equipment. Two saunas complete the fitness area.

The open central area of Deck 11 has a large blue-and-white-tiled pool with two whirlpools, a poolside grill, a bandstand for daytime entertainment and rows of green-and-white cushioned lounges.

Forward on Deck 12 is shuffleboard and a golf net area. Aft is a full-size tennis court.

Radisson Seven Seas has always been noted for its food and service, and the Voyager takes quality to new heights. The Compass Rose is the main dining room, with an open seating plan that allows passengers to arrive when they wish and sit where and with whom they choose. There you can feast on traditional dishes of escargots, Dover sole, coq au vin, rack of lamb or other dishes that change nightly.

The Veranda Grill, with additional tables on the deck, offers breakfast and lunch buffets. In the evening it becomes an Italian steakhouse serving pasta and risotto, swordfish, lobster, chicken and grilled items.

Two specialty restaurants require reservations. At Latitudes, 70 guests can watch the curtain open on a window to the galley where the evening dinner is prepared, accompanied by music attuned to the menu.

The fare changes nightly but can include Bloody Mary gazpacho soup, salmon corn cake, and rack of lamb or sesame seed-crusted grouper accompanied by California wines. Except for some premium vintages, dinner wines are free throughout the ship.

The other specialty restaurant is Signatures, which has a chef from Le Cordon Bleu in Paris. Menus may contain scallops marinated in herb oil, terrine of foie gras, caviar on foie gras, creamy mushroom soup, fresh dorado, sauteed salmon, jumbo shrimp marinated in olive oil, and rack of lamb. This restaurant is popular, so make a reservation soon after boarding.

If you wish to dine in your suite, you can order from the dining room menu during meal hours or choose from a room-service menu 24 hours a day.

The Voyager has a variety of cabin choices (all with balconies), from the deluxe suite (356 square feet including a 50-square-foot balcony) beginning at $585 per person per day for a seven-night Baltic Sea sailing to the top-end master suite (1,403 square feet including a 187-square-foot balcony) at $2,213 per person per day.

There is a big difference in the suites. Basic suites have a veranda with two white plastic chairs and green-and-white-striped cushions, full couch, coffee table, two tub chairs, TV and DVD player, mini fridge, twin beds that convert to queen-size, a walk-in closet and a marble bathroom with stall shower and tub.

The top-of-the-line suite has a large living room with wet bar, flat TV, sofa and chairs. A separate bedroom has a large bed, and the bathroom has a tub beside a floor-to-ceiling window. There is also a second bedroom and bath. Entertainment centers, with TV and DVD players, are in the bedrooms and living room.

Two forward suites have wraparound balconies. Butler service is available in all the upper-category suites, as is computer and fax service.

The horizon-view suites at the aft end are a good buy. There are 29, at $659 per person per day. They are the same size as the deluxe suites but have larger balconies that offer views of where you've been.

The Seven Seas Voyager will be sailing in Europe until Nov. 8, when it moves to the Caribbean. In December, several cruises will leave from Los Angeles.

For more information contact your travel agent or call Radisson Seven Seas Cruises, (866) 314-3210,

Harry Basch travels as a guest of the cruise lines. Cruise Views appears twice a month.

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