This was my first experience on Royal Caribbean and my 36 cruise, most for 10 days to three weeks. I traveled with my partner and we are both are experienced cruisers (won't give ages, but not young). We often cruise from San Diego. This time we stayed at a Holiday Inn on Bay Shore which has a park and cruise package. Check this out it is a great buy if you cruise for seven days or longer. The staff is great (they have a nice restaurant, but will gladly suggest other establishments for dinner). Transportation to and from the ship is included.
Got to the pier. We had to bring our bags into the terminal, no porters, but no big deal. Embarkation was a breeze. The ship is beautiful and mostly sparkles. However, the floors in the aft part of the Windjammer Cafe really need to be scrubbed! I was surprised that a ship of this size has only one outdoor pool.. The secondary pool with a retractable roof was stuffy and looked slightly Victorian with the potted palms and the rest of the bric-a-brac. I can see that this lack of outdoor swimming space could be a problem on a shorter cruise with lots of young people.
We had a Grand Suite, number 1552 which is near the Concierge Lounge. The room is very well done. It is somewhat smaller than a comparable accommodation on HAL and the balcony is much narrower, a big disappointment. We asked our steward for a lounge chair. He was great and got us one, but is just fit. On the plus side the bathroom with its double sinks, marble, and granite is beautiful.
We did not participate in many activities, except eating and drinking. The dining room is beautiful. We had anytime dining. It works very smoothly, but if you want a view of the very beautiful dining room, go with the set dining so you can see the room in all its grandeur. Food was fine, not exceptional, but on par with the competition. The Windjammer was outstanding compared with HAL and Princess. Great layout, with small stations and lots of variety. We never used room service, and had lunch in the dining room just once. It was very fine.
The staff is outstanding. Our steward, Edward, was perfect -- there when you needed him but otherwise invisible. Our concierge, Georgina, was outstanding and very helpful. She got my friend a dentist in Mazatlan with no difficulty.
The Concierge Lounge, the use of which came with our suite, is great. Great coffee (coffee in other venues could be greatly improved!), nice snacks from breakfast through cocktails, and cocktails from 5:00 through 8:30. We eat after and went to the lounge after 7PM so we had not trouble. Early drinkers may have had more competition at the bar.
We saw only one show, Tango Buenos Aires which was really of Broadway caliber.
The six ports were nice. Cabo was not crowded and easy to get around. Mazatlan is always wonderful. We take a taxi to the Cathedral (this time to the dentist) and then go around the old town near Olas Atlas (the water). At Puerto Vallarta
we took at taxi to town and had lunch on the beach south of the river. Acapulco is beautiful from the ship and quite safe if you take care. We walked to the plaza near the cathedral and had a wonderful lunch at an excellent Mexican pizza restaurant, more like Italy than the states. Zihuatanejo gets better and better. It is now very clean, but still very Mexican. We shopped and had lunch at Banditos. Manzanillo, which we have been to before is not as much fun, but we did get to eat bad food and hear great music at the Hotel Colonial downtown. All in all the ports are great fun, interesting, and in my opinion safe if you use common sense.
All in all this was a great cruise, the price was incredibly reasonable for what we got and disembarkation was a breeze.
PS The toilet would not flush once or twice but this happens on the best of ships and there is always a public accommodation near at hand.
All in all the Radiance was a fine experience.