This was our sixth cruise - five with Royal and one with their sister company, Celebrity. We had never taken a cruise longer than 7 nights so we were really looking forward to this one. We arrived in San Diego 3 days before our scheduled sail and stayed at the Best Western Bayside. The hotel provided a shuttle; the hotel handyman/shuttle driver strongly advised us against getting to the pier before 12 noon. He delivered us to the ship slightly after noon when the initial boarding chaos had subsided, and we were through the embarkation process in less than 15 minutes!
Our deck 10 stateroom was lovely and clean; our steward Claron was the GREATEST!!! We were impressed with the beauty and cleanliness of the whole ship. The Solarium pool was highly under-used during our cruise so we often had this wonderful place all to ourselves. Staff aboard the Radiance is, without exception, the friendliest and most accommodating of all the ships we've been on. The shows were on par with the exceptional quality we expect from Royal; we thought the virtuoso violinist was a true standout - we've never experienced an artist quite like her! We really enjoyed the many trivia games offered during the 11 days and recommend this as a way to challenge your memory while meeting many new people. The Windjammer on Radiance is the best of any ship we've been on, especially the desserts. The little cafe on the top deck has great chicken fingers and wings. We enjoyed the Mystery Dinner theater meal at Portofino - food was exceptional. We wished we could say the same about the dining in Cascades... Meals in this dining room ran the gamut from pretty good to "what were they thinking?"! The food preparation, plating and even the menus themselves were WAY BELOW what we've come to expect from Royal. Selections were often poor, with heavy reliance on lamb dishes. Meats were frequently tough (the nightly off-the-main-menu steak offering is worse than Ponderosa's)and poorly cut - one pork offering consisted of ragged lumps of meat tossed "mess hall" style on to the plate. Desserts in the main dining room did not seem as fresh as the Windjammer: one cheesecake offering tasted as though it had sat for a long time in a freezer. I really anticipated the spinach artichoke dip appetizer one night only to find out it was nothing more than some thickened white sauce with spinach thrown in. Unfortunately, I could go on and on... Because of the sub-par dining experience, we have to rate this cruise a 7 when Royal has always been a 10 for us. Since every other ship we sailed has had amazing food, we want to believe this is just a problem with the Radiance and not across-the-board "cost-cutting" measures on Royal's part, or their way of forcing passengers into paying for meals at Chops and Portofino. We will likely cruise Royal again with the hope that the dining room cuisine will be up to the excellent standards we expect from this cruise line.