This was a second time I sailed on the Radiance. The ship was in excellent condition everywhere, it still looked as if it was rather new, a nice contrast to the tired looking Voyager class vessels. Our aft JS was as great as expected and experienced on other Radiance class ships. Marsha our room steward a jewel, could not have been better.
The trip started in Buenos Aires. Boarding at 2:30 p.m. ( we did not sail till 9:00p.m.) was a bit lengthy this time due to local regulations, customs etc. RCCL did their best but could not change the situation. Overall boarding maybe took 1 hour which was still tolerable. Our bags were waiting for us when we reached the cabin, that was a first and much appreciated. The ship was only booked by about 1500 passengers, coming from over 50 countries! What a great experience that was. We had 375 US Americans, followed by 356 Brazilians, 153 Argentineans and 127 Germans, 96 Canadians, 43 Turkish and 47 French passengers just to name the biggest groups. Overall the passenger were surprisingly young, with the average of being mid 40s to mid 50s, nothing of what I would have expected. A few kids were on board, mainly from South America, out and visible 24 hours but usually well behaved. Overall passenger seemed very relaxed and friendly, I never saw grumpy passengers. The South Americans, though a bit harder to please in the ship´s theatre, seemed happy as long as they could listen and dance to music. The ship´s centrum was extremely lively every night with people dancing and having a good time. Numerous activities took place daily, many of which we did not attend. All announcements were made in English, Spanish, Portuguese and German. Newspapers, menu cards and cruise compass came in many languages. Guest relation which was very helpful and friendly was always busy despite not being a full ship. The had English, French, Italian, German, Spanish and of course Portuguese speaking staff available 24hours and always helped with a smile. We had an issue with kitchen smell in most aft cabins on deck 10 for about 5 days ( nothing too bad and definitely tolerable to us! ) and guest relations dealt with it in a very helpful and professional way. Very good customer service here. The concierge Juan Diego was great. Very accommodating, friendly and easy going. Food in the lounge the best we ever had, daily changing and extremely tasteful.
Food in the dining room ( 2nd seating @ 9.p.m.) was mostly good, if you picked the right dish. Variety was very good, food was never bland. No real complaints. Wine prices went up a bit and it is a shame that the overworked waiters have to deal with wine service. Neither good for the passenger nor good for RCCL which could make more money if they had decent sommeliers and thus someone pushing wine sales. Out waiter from the Philippines was not to my liking, however service much approved after talking to the head waiter Alena which did a fantastic job at all of her tables. We tried Portofino's twice and will not go there again unless RCCL comes out with new menus. Service was good, not spectacular, food was boring and not too tasty, especially not the main courses. The main restaurants were mostly empty. Windjammer food was OK. Did not go often because we are no friends of buffet style food. Lunch in dining room was good.
Entertainment was just OK. It sure is difficult to entertain people from over 50 nations that all have different tastes. The cruise director, although absolutely not to my liking, tried his best. He was a bit too young in my opinion and after 4 days one was a bit tired of hearing the same phrases in 3 different languages every night. The DJ was the absolute worst I ever had. A shame that RCCL seems to mostly hire people that have no clue about music. Our last cruise on the Navigator in the Med was the opposite and dancing the night away in the ship´s disco was so much fun ( and sure good money making for RCCL! ). Not this time. Oh well, there as that fantastic South American band playing live music which kept us dancing in the end. The gym was always packed and so was the sauna. I had my first ever hot stone massage and first massage ever on a ship. It was unbelievably good and worth the money. Spa staff was super friendly, no matter whether you spent money there or not. Everything was kept clean and was in good condition, they never went out of towels ( as experienced in the free sauna on most other cruises ). They just cared, in line with everyone else on the ship, including the captain himself who was very outgoing and entertaining! Overall another fantastic cruise where RCCL once again proved that they do most things right!
We booked a ship´s shore excursion, the Montevideo Highlights tour.
Would not do it again because we saw mainly monuments which I am not
interested in. The old part of Montevideo is very nice and easy to walk
from the ship. Right next to the dock you find a "market" where you can
get the best barbeque! Delicious! Not to miss.
Next stop was Puerto Madryn. Took a private tour. It is all dusty there
but you do see a lot of wildlife, from Guanacos to Sea Elephants, and
Sea Lions to Penguins. Interesting day but would not need to go back
Next stop was Punta Arenas. Booked a ship´s tour: Tracking The
Magellanic Forrest. This was my highlight of the trip. Weather was
beautiful ( as it was for most parts of the trip ) and the scenery just
magic. Hard to describe. Would recommend it to everyone that likes a
little hike ( not too strenuous ) and a beautiful scenery. Would do it
again any time. Sailing from Punta Arenas to Ushuaia was incredible due
to the beautiful scenery enroute!
Next stop was Ushuaia. Went off on our own. Easy because we were
docked. Took a cab to the chair lift that took us up to the glacier.
Very cold up there and not much of a glacier. We still enjoyed it.
Next day early in the morning around 7 a.m. we reached Cape Horn. The
seas were flat like a lake, quiet unusual as the caption said but much
appreciated by most passengers. We rounded the Horn completely and
enjoyed this special corner of the world tremendously!
2 relaxing sea days before we arrived back in Uruguay in Punta del
Este. Nice little town which was getting ready for its summer season.
Nice port but not my favorite. Next stop was Porto Belo in Brazil.
Very hot and intense sun ( which we experienced most days ). Too hot
for us to go to the beaches which would have been accessible via a
short taxi ride. Walked the little town instead and came back to the
ship early. Others that took a little ferry directly from the pier to a
nearby island with a tiny little beach had a much better day and raved
about the caipirinas and the little beach.
Disembarkation in Santos was uneventful. The new disembarkation process that RCCL established worked very well for us.