This was our third transatlantic cruise and as the title suggests our best so far and as we enjoyed them all that is no mean feat. Royal Caribbeans Radiance class are our favourite ships and even more so with the new enhancements . This combined with the best and most active cruise director we have had, Topi is his name from Finland, and a really good group of passengers certainly helped along with Royals normal high standards in friendly but also efficient and helpful staff. The staff on the ship said that this cruise had the highest proportion of repeat passengers and the highest number of pinnacle passengers on any ship, I do not know if this helped but I have never known a cruise where all passengers seemed to all be really pleased with their cruise.
Topi the cruise Director organised that the speciality acts all gave matinee performances as well as well as their normal evening shows and these had different content not just a repeat. We also had passenger flash dances organised, a very high quality passenger show and two different crew shows as well as the two new acrobatic displays in the Centrum, which we really enjoyed. The first time we went on a Radiance ship several years ago we said that the Centrum should be used for shows and we are so glad to see this come to fruition. The atmosphere is wonderful with all the levels and obviously the acrobatic displays make the most of these.
With all this extra entertainment I have not mentioned the two production shows which surpassed the normal high standards we usually see with Royal. I personally think the refit must have put more technology on the stage with lighting effects and scenery as it seems more spectacular although those in the know may be able to tell me differently!
We ate in the main dining room most evenings and the food was always good. For the first time we took advantage of the Speciality restaurant package of Chops, Giovannis Table and Izumi all for $55. This was good value with Giovannis being our favourite although Chops was a close second. We were on the second sitting in the main dining room which we prefer on a table for six, there were two of us . As the cruise was predominately American passengers first sitting was jam packed full and second sitting only half and so every table of six in the restaurant only had two people, our table was no exception. This could have been a disapointment as we enjoy the interaction of traditional dining but our waiters were excellent and they had so much free time to chat with us that later in the cruise we turned down the offer from new found friends to join their table, as they were also two on a table, due to not wanting to leave the boys. Our new friends agreed as they said they felt the same with their waiters too. Full marks to the staff as they turned a potential disappointment to a very memorable part of the voyage. I do think that it was a very different story for first sitting however as our waiters said they were really rushed on the first sitting with many of their guests wanting to eat too quickly and leave.
Sorry that this review is long but there was so much that we enjoyed on this cruise, not least the surprise of Coco Cay ( Royals own island stop). This was a first for us and I think we had rather low expectations, but the day was excellent very relaxing and good facilities on shore with beautiful beaches. I have never seen so many sun loungers in one place in my life! I am a coeliac and always found all the cruise lines cater well for my needs, but with Royal they usually ask me not to have the barbecue on ship because of cross contamination and to go to the windjammer instead. With this in mind I asked the restaurant staff about the barbecue ashore on Coco Cay, they checked with the chef who said he would ensure that some gluten free buns were taken ashore and that they would barbecue meat seperately which they did , full marks again and many thanks.
Finally this was our second transatlantic to end in New Orleans, last years on Navigator the immigration was horrendous taking up to four hours to clear . This year although still not excellent there was a large improvement as it only took 1.5 hours but why do they mix departing passengers with embarking passengers in the same hall. They really need to sort out that terminal!!!!!
Our best cruise so far thanks to the staff, ship, and all the old and new friends that we made on the cruise, no other form of holiday can match a good cruise like this one.
How can poor Adventure of the seas match this next November when we do our next transatlantic, but I am sure that it will do its upmost, Well Done Royal Caribbean.