What a fabulous cruise! Our Cruise Critic group ... The Happy CocoNUTS ... was the best ever. We were aware of other Cruise Critic folks on the cruise, but they never joined the thread beforehand or came and participated in the Meet & Mingle. What's up with that? Too bad ... we would have loved to have you join us!
We booked directly with the cruise line and had a very positive experience. We are within driving distance to Port of Los Angeles, but came down the night before and stayed/parked at the San Pedro Doubletree Hotel. Great place to stay and will definitely stay there again.
We were at the pier by 10:30 and on the ship by 11:15 a.m. Check-in was a breeze. We met up with several Happy CocoNUTS on the pier and boarded with them. The party had begun!
This was our first time on the Radiance ... a beautiful ship. She was easy to navigate and within a day or two we knew our way around. Our stateroom was 9590. We select our rooms based on their category and then on their location. We like to be mid-ship, near the stairway/elevators. 9590 was a perfect location for us! It was on the starboard hump, so our balcony was a little on the small side, but we made do just fine. Our stateroom attendant took very good care of us. He knew our names after the first meeting and was easy to find if we needed something.
We found the food to be wonderful and the waitstaff a delight. Everyone couldn't do enough for us. After the first night, a small plate of lemons was automatically brought to me for my water ... my husband's iced tea was refilled without him having to ask. There was only one night that the menu didn't offer much to our liking. We made do with appetizers and a salad and felt very satisfied. The Windjammer was always good ... in fact, I found several ways to make fish tacos from what they offered! I even talked to the Ex. Chef about adding fish tacos to the menu. HA! We ate at Chops and at Portofinos. YUMMY! Great places, great food, great service! Both are worth the extra cover charge. We enjoy the speciality restaurants on any ship we are sailing.
The first couple of days heading west were overcast and chilly. We are from California and fully expected this to be the case. It's too bad more people didn't log on to Cruise Critic beforehand to find out this piece of information and come prepared.
We were all disappointed with the deletion of Kaui from the itinerary ... how could we not be. However, any time spent in Hawaii is all good! Yes, Honolulu is a big city ... full of people and traffic. Why is this a surprise to anyone? It is still the tropics and you can find paradise even in Honolulu. None of our excursions were booked thru the ship. In Honolulu we booked The Duck one day and the Star of Honolulu Cultural Lunch Cruise the next. It was all good. The Duck took us to Pearl Harbor, to a lagoon and around Honolulu. QUACK! We love The Ducks!
The Cultural Lunch Cruise probably wasn't worth the time or money. Would not recommend doing this.
There is a great shopping area where the ship docks at The Aloha Tower. Good place to find gifts and to have a meal off the ship.
Maui is also a bustling town. But, it's MAUI!! :O) We caught the shuttle to Kaanapali and hung out for the better part of the day. DH rent snorkel gear and I rented a cabana. Wow! How great is that! We shopped at the Whaler's Village and found a nice place right on the beach to have lunch ... fish tacos, of course! Mid-afternoon we went back to the ship and dressed for the Old Lahaina Luau. We had done this luau 25 years ago and still had fond memories so wanted to do it again. One problem. A cab driver told us it was within walking distance ... an we WALKED. I'm not sure why this cab driver didn't want the fare (???), but it certainly is NOT within walking distance (unless you are a long-distance walker, in the heat and humidity!!). By the time we got to the luau we were drenched and exhausted. The open bar was a welcomed thing! The food/service/entertainment/location/ambiance were all phenomenal! We would recommend this luau HIGHLY!
Yes, there was another ship in port that day. And if Lahaina is on your itinerary, please understand that you WILL tender. But, IMHO, Lahaina is a better port than Kahului (on the other side of the island) and well worth the minor inconvenience of tendering. If you tender, you just need to make sure you allow time for it, coming and going.
Kona was great! I hadn't expected to enjoy it as much as I did. It's a wonderful little town full of friendly people. DH took the day to play golf with some other Happy CocoNUTS. I toddled around by myself and enjoyed shopping (my last chance!!). I spent the afternoon on board the Radiance reading in the sun ......
That night we sailed by the volcano. It was pretty great. I would have liked to have seen it during the twilight hours so we could see the mountains, etc. All we saw was the lava flowing to the sea. We were close enough to smell the sulfur and hear the hiss of the heat hitting the water ... pretty kewl.
The staff on the Radiance are very good! We have sailed with CD Kieron Buffery a couple of times before and really enjoy his humor, his entertainment, his SINGING, and his style. He's the best in our book! Capt Rune Lukling was incredible. The best captain we have had. My goodness! We actually saw him around the ship ... unusual. He was everywhere and talking to the pax. Every staff person we ran into was always asking how we were doing and to "have a good day." Everyone had a smile ... whether it was the Captain or an electrician, etc. It was all good.
We enjoy getting involved in the activities on board a ship and the Radiance offered a lot for us to do. Trivia was excellent (although we disagreed with some of the correct answers!! HA!).
Whether a cruise to you means getting involved in everything ... or just sitting back and reading a good book, it's all good. We felt very free to do either on the Radiance.
We will be back on the Radiance in June and looking forward to going "home" again!
We heard some comments on disembarkation from other pax who were complaining about everything! We asked each other, "What ship were they on???" We had a fabulous time and can't wait for June!