So my GF, 9 YO son, and I sailed on the Radiance to Cabo Sept. 25-30. Here is my quick review...
EMBARKATION - Smooth as glass. We were at the pier at about 10:30 and were on the ship sipping a drink of the day at about 11:30 or so. Quick and painless I must say. The ship did sail a bit late, but can be expected, being the first sailing out of San Diego. We were watching them load more and more luggage from our balcony.
STATEROOM - We were in JS 1548. What a great room in a great location.
We were close to the elevators, had plenty of room for the three of us
to move around, and the pullout bed was great for my son. He loved it.
The balcony was nice, especially being our first one. It would be hard
to go back to an oceanview room. The only down point was the bathtub.
Although it was nice to have one, it was set higher than the bathroom
floor. I am 6' tall and literally my head touched the ceiling. You have
to be careful stepping out as well. Since the tub floor is higher than
the bathroom floor it is a big step and I almost fell my first time.
This room is not for everyone for those reasons. The walk-in closet was
FOOD - I had to hit this topic up next because I have heard so many conflicting things about the food... In one word, it was phenomenal. I had salmon, escargot, lobster, shoulder beef, etc. etc. and honestly, everything I had was absolutely fantastic. Everything that is... EXCEPT for the Chops steak. I can honestly tell you that I grill up a better filet in my backyard on my Char Broil. (Go ahead and flame away, it is the truth.) My opinion... stay in the MDR. I did not try Portofinos because we had great table mates and decided to stick with them. Oh, and Ismael is the best head waiter in the world. Just from the luck of the draw, we got a fantastic table set apart from the rest and up 2 or 3 steps. It was amazing! Also, everything in the Windjammer was very good as well. No complaints. Food gets a 10/10.
SEA DAYS - Interestingly enough, it is strange to me that everyone bashes Carnival saying that they are the "party" ships. There was no lack of a good time around the pool (I am in no way complaining, it was fun). It was actually more of a party atmosphere on this ship than my Elation cruise. The Elation was pretty mellow (But also a great time). As you can probably tell, I am not difficult to please. We have a great time just knowing we are on a cruise. The second sea day was cold and windy, so not a lot of people by the pool.
ADVENTURE OCEAN - The AO program was great. The people working there were very nice. My son is 9 years old, so he was in the 9-11 group (Explorers I think). The hours are kind of screwy, but it makes sense, I guess more so people don't just drop their kids off and forget about them. You have to pick them up for lunch and dinner (which was what we would do any ways). My son made a lot of freinds on the ship and would constantly be saying Hi to other kids walking by. Overall, he had a lot of fun there.
SHOWS - They were all great. The City of Dreams show was awesome and also my favorite. Great music, excellent choreography, and a lot of fun. The music impersonator was very good as well. Honestly, the impersonations were not so great (some were) but the entertainment factor was very high. The Piano Man show was probably my second favorite. If you like Elton John, Billy Joel, etc. you will definitely like this show. Every show was about 1 hour. Shows get a 8/10.
CASINO - We are video poker players, so I can only comment on that. The pay tables are horrible (6/5 for quarters), but as much can be expected for a captive audience. We will be heading to Vegas in January anyways where we can get 9/6 and free drinks ?. We still managed to dump in plenty of cash and had a lot of fun doing it. I hit four 4's for $100 but that was about it. The drink service in the casino was sparse as well. You had to go to the bar, and when we did ask someone if there was a waitress, the bartender came over asking if we wanted drinks. No biggie, but drink service would have been a plus.
DEBARKATION - Attn. non-US citizens... "GET DOWN TO THE COLONY CLUB WHEN YOU ARE CALLED!" Our debarkation was delayed because there were a few people who didn't show up for the immigration inspection. As a matter of fact, they finally did release us for debarkation and when we were leaving, the guy in front of us handed over his sea pass card and they said "Oh, there you are. We have been paging you all morning." and pulled him aside, back onto the ship. I heard him talking, he spoke perfect English. Then we saw him again waiting for our shuttle and he was telling his friend "I guess next time I will see what they want when they page me." I felt like saying something, but I kept my mouth shut.
COMPLAINT - Yes, I do have one complaint... So we were scheduled to meet at 8:30 AM for our Cabo excursion in the Aurora Theater. We even checked the time with the Explorations desk before we went to sleep at about 10:00. We place our breakfast room service order on the door for 7:00-7:30. So, we wake up at about 6:45 and start getting ready leisurely. I jump in the shower a few minutes after 7. Suddenly, my GF barges into the bathroom saying we have to meet at 7:30 for the excursion... they changed the time. They left a message on the phone (never called, just left a message at 11:47 PM when we were fast asleep). We had to race to get ready and had to rush to the theater with no breakfast, no coffee, no nothing. Oh, and on the way out of the room, we found a letter stating the same thing on the outside of the door. It is a good thing my GF picked up the phone to see where our breakfast was or we may have missed the excursion. Defend RCCL all you want, but they should have done more to let us know. Even a phone call at 11:47 waking me up would have been better.
IN A NUTSHELL - I absolutely loved this cruise, the ship, the CD, the shows, the food, everything. It was a fantastic vacation in which we met some great people who will surely become long time friends. Sorry for missing all of the CC events, but we were just having too much fun and busy chasing the kids around. All of the reviews saying The Radiance is beautiful, well decorated, clean, etc. etc. are all wrong. They are UNDERstatements! This ship is too awesome for words. If you are planning to sail on the Radiance, you will not be disappointed.
If I think of anything else, I will post it in this thread. If anyone has questions, let me know.