My husband and I (in our 30's) were lucky enough to be on the Radiance for the March 9, 2008 Eastern Caribbean sailing. We had a wonderful time, and are disappointed to be back in the "real world" where we have to pour our own wine and make our own bed.
Day 1: Embarkation
Embarkation was a breeze. We walked right into a large holding room where we were given a group ticket number 3. As soon as our group was called, around 11:30, we were led into a larger area where we met with a cruise agent to get our seapass, etc. We were on the ship within ten minutes.
We went to Windjammer to grab a bite to eat and walked around until our room was ready at 1:00. We had booked an inside cabin on the 10th floor and were pleased with the room. It was small, but roomier than we expected. Ray from Costa Rica, our room attendant, was wonderful and made sure all of our needs and requests were met throughout the week. We spent the rest of the afternoon exploring the ship.
Dinner was very casual that evening as not everyone had their luggage. We were at table 450 and had a wonderful group of tablemates. We all got along famously and we genuinely enjoyed meeting them for dinner each evening. Our waiter, Arthur from Peru and assistant waiter, Ignat from Romania, were both fun, informative and doted on us like royalty. We were in awe at the fact we never poured wine into our glasses - they always met our needs before we had them!
Day 2: Key West
We got off the ship and just did some shopping on Duval Street. (There's a Coach Outlet for any ladies that are interested!) We stopped and grabbed a piece of Key Lime Pie on a Stick from the Blonde Giraffe and then went to Captain Tony's Bar. It's mentioned in "The Last Tango in Paris" by Jimmy Buffet and my husband was in awe of the place. It's a block off Duval St. on Greene if you want to stop in and staple something of yours to the wall. (It seems lots of women love to leave their bras!)
Day 3: Cozumel
We got off the ship and took a taxi to the downtown area. We asked the taxi driver where the best place to eat authentic, local food was and he sent us down to a restaurant named La Chocha near the local market. Breakfast there was delicious and very inexpensive. After that we went to the locals market a block or two away and saw lots of fresh meats, seafood and vegetables being bought and sold and enjoyed being the only non-locals in the area. The people were very friendly and appreciated the fact I speak some Spanish. Later that morning we took a taxi for $10 from downtown to Chakanaab Park as we booked the Royal Dolphin Swim through Dolphin Discovery for 11:00 a.m. This was a big highlight of the trip. The Royal Swim is longer and more involved than the excursion you can book through RCCL and in our opinion, well worth it!
After the dolphins, we went back downtown to pick up a few souvenirs I saw earlier in the day and headed back to the ship for a nap.
Day 4: Georgetown, Grand Cayman
We booked the 2 hour snorkeling and stingray tour through Captain Marvin's. We were lucky enough to be taken out to sea by 91 year old Captain Marvin himself. This was, in my opinion, the best part of the trip. The stingrays are friendly and amazing to interact with and the snorkeling in the warm, crystal clear water was a memory I'll never forget. We did some shopping back near the pier afterwards. If you like jewelry, this is the port for you.
Day 5: Montego Bay, Jamaica
Here we opted to book the Chukka Canopy Zipline Tour through RCCL. No regrets here! It's a 30-minute drive up into the mountains and the Jamaican guides at the zipline are a riot. They really did a good job of making things fun so no one got scared. On the way back to the port, the driver (Captain K) offered to take us to the shopping areas for an additional $10 round trip. Although there were some guests who opted to do this, we chose to go back to the ship and relax. This excursion was well worth the money spent and I would recommend it to anyone. Others at dinner table chose to go off on their own in Jamaica and were ripped off by the cab drivers and another couple was offered drugs. If you don't book an excursion through RCCL, please understand that it isn't the safest environment and you need to be cautious.
Day 6: At Sea
We were pretty exhausted from all the excitement so we chose to just take it easy today. We did a little shopping in the ship stores, enjoyed the sun, watched the ice carving, went to the Captains Q&A session and went to Portofino for dinner this evening. (We made our reservation for 7:00 so that we could go chat through dinner with our tablemates as well - we didn't eat though - too stuffed!)
We chose to do the express walk off and were off the ship by 10:00 a.m. I think it would've been earlier but I think it was held up by people who exceeded customs allowances and hadn't paid their seapass bill.
We stayed at the Courtyard by Marriott on Seabreeze in FLL for one night post-cruise before our flight home. We booked this through priceline.com and it was a great value for what we paid.
Activities On Board
We didn't go to any of the nighttime shows because we aren't really into those. We did go to Quest, Love and Marriage Show, the Belly Flop competition and the karaoke competitions and truly enjoyed them all. Generally, we liked to explore the ship and find little quiet corners to watch the stars or have a couple of drinks. The Colony Club was our favorite bar and playing pool on the self-leveling tables was fun. We played some single deck blackjack in the casino, but we're trying to forget about that.
The staff was great! So friendly and accommodating - we can't say enough wonderful things about them. It's no surprise they have won the crew of the year several years running. Captain Trym is hilarious and tends to drive the crew crazy with his tendency to ramble during his announcements. I secretly think they enjoy it - I know we did.
She is gorgeous and just the right size - not so large that you get lost, but big enough that you don't feel like you're stepping on other peoples toes. They have kept her in great shape and there was always a crew around doing little paint touchups, washing windows, etc.
The food on board was very good and there isn't a lack of it. The only improvment I would like to see made would be to have some exotic vegetarian foods added to the dining room menu. Lots of great options if you love meat and seafood, but the pasta and eggplan gets kind of old after a few days.
A few extra points:
1. The Quest is just as fun as I had been told. Make sure you don't miss this one!
2. If you choose to go to Portofino, make sure you're very hungry - there's a lot of food and it's all delicious.
3. The dress in the dining room on formal nights was a lot more casual than I had anticipated. I did see jeans, denim skirts and capris
4. The service from everyone we met was top notch and we had no problem tipping more than the "recommended guidelines".
5. There was no problem finding a pool chair when you wanted one, which was one of my initial concerns
6. We loved the Colony Club and spent a lot of time just relaxing at the bar there
7. I thought the food in the Seaview Cafe was extremely underwhelming. I had a turkey and cheese panini and my husband had a reuben. Only ate there once.
8. Watch for flying fish! We could see them while we were eating in the Windjammer.