. SSC Radisson's Diamond Cruise Review by Suzanne Carmel : ROAD & TRAVEL Magazine

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Stability and Luxury, the Radisson's Diamond Cruise Ship.
By Suzanne Carmel

Some people claim that you either love or hate cruising. Certainly, cruises offer a distinct type of vacation, but as I sat on the cabin balcony of the SSC Radisson Diamond, feet propped-up on the railing,
it certainly did not seem that simple. Soothed by the warm breeze and the gentle swell of waves, I couldn't imagine a better way to spend a few days than relaxing on a cruise ship different from any other
I had sailed.

The SSC Radisson Diamond is the only twin-hulled luxury cruise ship in the world. It was designed as such to combat the "pitch-and-roll" movements of the sea, making it purportedly the most stable vessel in its class. Though I found there were several nights when the small ship moved about quite a bit, having never been on a small cruise ship I had no other comparison. Besides, the relaxed, intimate feel and slower pace of this small luxury cruise ship more than made up for any rocky moments at sea.

The SSC Radisson Diamond

I found my five-night cruise of the Caribbean to be so different from my previous mega-ship cruises, I decided it didn't do the cruise industry justice to lump all cruises into one experience a traveler would either love or hate. Cruise lines and ships are as different from each other as the passengers who sail
on them.

Naysayers should note that, according to Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), nearly 6.9 million people cruised in 2000, making the cruise industry the fastest-growing segment of the travel industry. Even so, over 80 percent of U.S. adults have never cruised.

Cruising gives me a much-needed break from vacations or business trips spent running from place to place, worrying about navigating foreign destinations, dealing with stresses and concerns of independent travel. Every once in a while, it's nice to opt for a cruise's more insulated, pampered way to travel, where there is little to worry about or to decide other than what activity or lecture to join, which restaurant to eat in, and what to do at a given port of call.

A meal at Don Vito's

On the SSC Radisson Diamond, we only rushed to book a night at Don Vito's (the alternative dining restaurant) and to book spa treatments. Regardless of the number of passengers onboard, I felt it was best to book these things, as well as shore excursions, as soon as possible. After that, my companion and I were able to sit back, relax and let the days at sea unfold.

On my five-night sailing, mornings were spent reading books from the library either on the balcony of our cabin or up by the pool, where waiters hovered with cool towels or to take drink orders. The 350-capacity ship had only 328 passengers onboard and every day was spent at a different port. Passengers got on and off the ship as they pleased during the day, so there were never any crowds out by the pool, in the fitness center or in any of the places to dine.

We left the ship for leisurely walks through the main towns at four ports-of-call - Tortola, St. Barts, St. Maarten and St. Thomas - and then returned for an outdoor lunch at The Grill, which offers a different themed buffet every day. For dinner, the Grand Dining Room held open seating so diners could eat when and with whomever they wished. Whether eating at The Grill, the Grand Dining Room, or Don Vito's, the food and service were exemplary.

The Grand Dining Room

In the evenings, people milled about in the Chips Casino or listened to favorites on the piano in The Club. The Windows Lounge set the stage for music by the Diamond Five Orchestra, songs by the ship's entertainers, or late-night dancing to DJ Erick's selection of hits. Though there were some families and young couples onboard, the primarily early-to-bed and early-to-rise, older crowd created a welcome change from the constant pulse of activity on larger ships.

Even with less activity and commotion, the five nights at sea passed quickly. On our last afternoon, I watched from the cabin balcony while rainbows arced over St. Thomas as we left port. I knew I would miss this magical cruise, where no request went unanswered. Thinking back to the wine steward who always remembered our favorite drinks, or to room-service ice cream sundaes devoured on our balcony mid-afternoon, to relaxing oxygen facials in the Diamond Spa and walks around deck eleven jogging track as we left a port at dusk, I knew we were among those who would put cruising in the "love-it" category.

For more information on Radisson Seven Seas Cruises and its distinctive fleet of luxury cruise ships, call 800-285-1835 or visit the website at www.rssc.com.

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