With my oldest son growing up and setting off in the world, I felt that we needed one last big adventure together before they all grew up and left me. We were able to find this fabulous 11-day, 6 port Mexican Riviera cruise for a wonderful family vacation. My boys were seasoned cruisers with 4 prior cruises under their belt but none over 5-days long. This 11-days along with a Deluxe Balcony was suppose to be our ultimate vacation, which it was, but it also hooked us on cruising for life!
The Radiance of the Sea is a beautiful ship. Common areas are in very good repair. Maintenance defiantly keeps up with the daily wear ‘n tear common to cruise ships. The public area restrooms are very beautifully decorated and maintained.
Dining We had main seating dining at 6:00PM. We never had to wait in line. In fact, once we were shown our table the first day, we were able to seat ourselves just as soon as the doors were opened. I know there are a lot of people signing up for My Time Dining and some may like it but all I saw was people waiting in line to make reservations and them later standing in line to be seated for their reservations. With main seating we were in a smaller, less noisy dining room on the side of the MDR. We had the same table and the same wait staff each night, which we loved. They knew from the first day what we liked such as lemons on our water or jam with our rolls, and had those things ready for us every night after. Eating that early was closer to our normal dinner time at home and gave my teens time to work up an appetite for a 2nd desert at the Windjammer before they closed for the night at 9:00PM. Also to note, if a table of people didn’t show up for dinner because they had plans to eat somewhere else like Chops or Portofino’s, their table was not filled with MTD reservations. It was left empty. Our dining room was only for main seating dining. On day 5, the other 3 tables in our section were empty and we had our wait staff all to ourselves. Not only did we have their undivided attention, we had time to really talk to them and get to know them. With MTD and different staff each night, that would not have happened. The head waiter was visible every night and not only to be seen but was actively refilling water glasses, clearing plates and being of “service” along with his staff. Dinner was always relatively quick, only about 1.5 hours each night. Food was great every night. There was always plenty of food with not too large of portions. Just the right amount for when you eat as often as we did in a day. Quality, flavor, presentation & temperature were just fine. I had no complaints with the food. All three sons were able to borrow tuxedos from the high school's drama wardrobe. They totally dressed up both formal nights and dresses per guidelines each additional night. I lost count of how many people stopped at our table complimenting how well they looked. I loved it and I think they did too.
Stateroom We had a D1 stateroom on the 9th deck listed as Superior Ocean View w/Balcony. We had 1 adult and 3 teen boys in the cabin and it had plenty of room. The balcony measures about 9’ x 4’ and was furnished with 2 chairs and a side table. We did a cabin crawl with our Mix & Mingle group and I was able to tour several different types of cabins. The inside cabin with 2 drop down bunks would have fit us fine but I really loved the balcony. The bathroom did smell bad. Kind of like sewer but not too heavy. I sprayed my Febreze and the smell went away for awhile. The room steward said it was the shower curtain and changed it for us. The bathroom was always damp but it wasn’t a damp, musty smell it was a poppy smell. The steward sprayed Glade each time he made-up the room and the smell came and went with no consistency but was never strong or offensive enough to complain about. I just kept the Febreze handy. The beds were nice but the sofa bed and drop down beds were too hard for me. The boys didn’t complain. I like how they have done away with the bed spreads. I never trusted how germy they might be. The beds have a nice heavy comforter enveloped with a sheet or duvet which is washed every few days. The curtains were very heavy and blocked any light from the balcony during the day plus we had a curtain separating our room in half. With the center curtain drawn, I was able to go to sleep while the boys stayed up with the lights on playing quiet games in the other half of our room. We came on-board with 9 suitcases. I know, that’s a lot, but we were on the ship for 11 days and there is no self serve laundry on the Radiance. My point is that I was able to completely unpack, get everything into closets, cupboards and drawers and be able to stow my empty luggage under the beds with no problem and room to spare. I did bring two of the suitcases with the clothes still on the hanger which was good because I would not have had enough hangers otherwise. The night of the midnight poolside bar-b-q we had a ventilation problem. The air conditioning system sucked in the diesel smelling lighter fluid charcoal fumes from the grill and our room was not inhabitable for about an hour. So we went to the bar-b-que! The smell vacated any one awake on our hall and when they sent me to Guest Relation the fumes started filling the Centrum area and even the Guest Relations employees started complaining. There was no thought to stopping the poolside bar-b-q but later I thought their resolution to the problem was pretty smart. The Maintenance Engineers turned the air-conditioning on to the whole ship. They spread the smell across all the public rooms that were closed like the MRD, Windjammer and the theaters. This diluted the smell enough that it was no longer strong enough to bother anyone. When we returned to our room it smelled just fine. Some residual smell on the clothes in the closet but I just whipped out the Febreze again.
Public Areas We did not spend much time at the pool on the ship as we were at the beach almost every day while at port and our sunburns didn’t need any more exposure. We did spend more time than I thought we would in the card room playing Scrabble. We don’t usually play this at home but I think it must be a vacation thing. They provide quite a few board games and loads of cards. Bring a small dictionary if your family doesn’t trust your creative spelling in Scrabble. We stumbled into a daily trivia game of "Name that Show Tune" at the Schooner Bar. I was amazed at how well my 19 year old son knew his show tunes!?!?? We came in 2nd place. Most of those kinds of “cruise activities” we shy away from because they seem dorky but it was fun.
The Casino Royal gladly took our money, again! I was pleasantly surprised that they had a no smoking area with decent games. All the machines cashed out in quarters instead of tickets making it hard to slip your winnings into your pocket for the next night. We did a slot pull with 26 people in our M&M group. One slot machine was picked and we each put in $20, so that would be $520 we invested. We each pulled a $5 (maximum) bet 4 times then stepped aside for the next person. At the end, we had $455 left so we lost a total of $2.50 each after a total of 104 $5 pulls. The payout was not very good with that much going in. It made me rethink playing slots.
Guest Relations We spent too much time at the Guest Relations desk. The staff was excellent, especially Keshia, and all of our problems, large and small, were taken care of superbly. I ordered, and prepaid for an Adventure Gear package (with 4 items) to be delivered to our cabin. Half of the package was missing and the receipt delivered with it said there were only 3 items in the package. I did have my internet receipt showing what I had ordered so that was fixed. Next, I had booked when they were offering a $75 on-board credit for my class room but it didn’t show up on my account. My booking statement only said “offer” in the promotion section. Keshia e-mailed the corporate offices and they responded the next day and my account was credited. Now, both of these problems were computer record problems with RCCL so make sure to print any receipts and advertisements showing what you purchased and bring them with you so you can show them what you really purchased if you have any problems. I thought 2 problems for one customer was enough to indicate that something is wrong with their system. guest relations also impressed me when I was called down to the desk the day after our midnight air-conditioning fumes experience. I was offered a voucher to have the clothes in my closet cleaned to remove the smell. Remember, I packed 9 bags of luggage so there were way too many clothes in my closet. I told them that I was fine with my Febreze but I’d love to get some underwear and t-shirts washed. No problem and I was happy. I do want to note that I was on vacation and I was having a wonderful time so I wasn’t functioning in my insistent, frustrated and demanding customer mode. I did see several of those kinds of people at the desk in front of me. One lady had been offered dinner for two at Chops and a bottle of wine to solve her problem and now she was down there demanding a second bottle of wine. I don’t know what her problem was but the way she behaved embarrassed me. The staff was very gracious and professional.