RADIANCE OF THE SEAS -November 2006
Port of Embarkation- Ft Lauderdale.We live in West Palm Beach,so we packed several days prior and drove down to the port Sunday morning.We arrived early,around 11:30,and by the time we dropped our luggage with the porters and parked the car in the garage,we were able to get right in the very short line and were on board by 12:30!! Make sure you do your paperwork ahead of time!! We heard the lines were quite long by 1:30.
Cabin- We booked a balcony cabin on deck 8.Sailing were myself,wife,and our children ages 14 and 7.The cabin was RCI standard size,which means you need to be a little creative in stowing all your belongings.We made it work--my wife is very creative-- and were all quite comfortable during our cruise.We were VERY happy to have the balcony,it gave us some extra relaxation space and we never felt too cooped up when all 4 of us were in the room,which was usually only 1st thing in AM and then to go to bed.Our cabin steward was extraordinary,service was superb and personal.Of course,the family enjoyed the towel animals every day!!
After checking out our room,we headed to the Windjammer for lunch.
Windjammer- Always busy,always good.Overall,food was very good here.We ate breakfast here everyday,could always find something good and fresh.We had lunch here a few times,great assortment.We did not have dinner in the Windjammer on this cruise,but have dined there on Radiance in the past-found it to be quite good.Service is always very friendly.Believe me,even the most picky eater(DD!!!!) can find something they will like!!!
After lunch,we hung out by the pool awhile with a cold beverage of choice and waited for the muster.After muster,there was live music poolside and a nice "sailaway party" and we were officially underway! Later on,we headed to the Cascades dining room for dinner.
Cascades Dining Room- I can not say enough nice things about the dining room.Food was always good,service was superb.Wine service was excellent.They went out of their way to make sure our daughter had her dinner right away,as they knew she wanted to run back up to the KidsCamp for activities.Our servers Sam & Justin knew our names and drink preferences by the 2nd night,and always steered us in the right direction.I am a restaurant manager and Executive Chef by trade,so I can be a little critical at times....but not here.
Chops- We had dinner one night in Chops Steakhouse.One of our best dinners ever!!Well worth the upcharge,service was phenomenal!! Our server was from Russia,her name was Irena(pretty sure).She was wonderful,charming,sweet,and professional all at once!! We will look for her next time we sail Radiance!!
Ports- Key West,Grand Cayman,Cozumel,Montego Bay- There are literally hundreds of pages on here devoted to the ports,so I will keep it short with just a few recommendations.In Key West,look for the Key Lime Pie shop across from the museum and open air shops(Mallory Square) on Front St.It is a little hole in the wall,but do not be fooled-The Pie is the best,and he also makes homemade fudge that is the bomb!! In Grand Cayman,Stingray City is not to be missed.Also,close to the port down the street past Jimmy Buffet's,there is a little group of shops with an outdoor patio set up with arts/crafts vendors-very nice and reasonably priced,right across from the waters edge..In Cozumel,we went to Passion Island(where they film the Corona commercials).Jorge,our guide ,was outstanding.The island is beautiful,the food was delicious and plentiful,and the beer ice cold.A great deal for the price(I think it was 69/pp).A 5 star day on Passion Island!!Right?? Right!!!! We hired a private guide in MoBay-he took us all over the place,from downtown for a juicy patty,to the ghetto,to the beach,up in the mountains to the mansions,shopping,and to Rose Hall Plantation.We used A-Z Tour planners,very reasonable.Mark was our guide and was superb! The Plantation was remarkable,to say the least.
Kids Club- Our daughter had a ball in the Adventure Ocean club.The staff is tremendous.Many fun activities,and she is still talking about "Pirate Night"...Arrrgghh!! Our son popped in and out of the teen club,hooked up with a few boys and girls close in age from England,New Jersey,Pennsylvania,and Florida.He still talks to them via email/IM!!He had nothing but good things to say about the staff.
Spa- We did not use the spa,though we did visit and it looked inviting-a bit pricey if you ask me.My wife and I visit PGA National Spa on occasion,and the ships prices exceeded PGA's substantially.
Bars- Very friendly service,good drinks.I can taste that Miami Vice now....
Common areas- Ship is in superb shape,very clean.You can tell the staff has a lot of pride in their ship.Radiance sparkles!!! The Solarium pool was our favorite spot,very relaxing and super clean! Family loved the rock climbing wall,basketball court,mini-golf too.Up in this area is a little restaurant that has awesome Fish and Chips and other great beach-type fare.
Entertainment- Well,we loved the Tammy Novak Trio playing outside the dining room every night.Her Patsy Cline renditions were my favorites!!! I Fall To Pieces/Crazy.....we made sure we got a seat on the couches every night for a time before and/or after dinner to hear a bit! Shows in the Aurora were good overall-it depends on your tastes.Poolside reggae band was pretty good,too.
Captain- Well hurdy,gurdy,kiss kiss kiss,tell someone you love them,and have a hurdy gurdy day!!!! Captain Rune is the best! Question-" Um,Captain Rune,if you are down here chatting with us,who's driving the ship??" Answer-"Who cares,you're on vacation!!!" I have to say that Captain Rune ADDED VALUE to my family vacation.He was accessible,personable,and hilarious.I bet he's still getting that cake out of his ears.....you'll just have to sail with him!!
Crew- Well,the crew is a reflection of their Captain.Outstanding overall service,very friendly,many always willing to chat/laugh/share a story.Wonderful!!
Casino- not much for the casino,was usually very busy-and smokey! Won a few bucks at the roulette wheel passing through,just luck.
Photographers- Very nice,pictures are not cheap,but you can't resist in buying a few.
Debarkation- why does the port have Radiance dock in a different spot upon return?? My only complaint!! We had to haul all our luggage onto a shuttle bus to get back to our parking garage.Many cruisers disoriented getting off and seeing they are NOWHERE near their cars,everyone trying to board the smallish shuttles-kind of a mess. Instead of getting frustrated,we just stood on the corner and waited for the next shuttle,kind of laughed at the people getting REALLY mad.We had way too much fun to get upset NOW....
Overall- It was our 2nd time aboard Radiance of the Seas,and it will not be our last.WE LOVE THIS SHIP AND HER CREW!!! 5 stars!!