Pre-hotel stay: We flew in the day before and stayed at the Holiday Inn San Diego on the Bay. They have free airport pick up every ½ hour. Great hotel, and was very nice to see the ship out the window when we woke up the next morning!
The hotel is so close you can walk to the port. They do offer free transfers to the port as well, but we chose to walk it was quicker, and all our luggage was easily pulled.
Ship: The ship is beautiful, we have traveled on many of the voyager class ships as well as Celebrity and Disney, but I think the Radiance class is my favorite. My husband and I had sailed her to Alaska. I love seeing the ocean all the time from the public areas and the elevators.
Food: I thought the food was very good. The Windjammer had lots of variety. The main dining room food was very good this time. Although some of the selections maybe weren’t as good as in the past, I think the actually taste was better. Our waiter, Ashley from India was excellent. He always helped steer us to the best choices which I think helped. Seemed like there was more chocolate desserts on this trip, which was lacking the last time we cruised.
Only problems with food/dining was that we were at a table for 8 on deck 5 (second deck of dining room). Our table was right inside the door against the back wall and the dining room was very warm every night. Second issue was we were traveling with my parents who live in another state, so this trip was an opportunity to spend time with them. On other cruises we like to sit at large tables with other people, but this time we had hoped for a table with just us. We asked for a table for 8, assuming that with 7 of us, we would have a table to ourselves. Surprisingly on the first night about 15 minutes into the seating they sat an older gentleman with us, who was travelling alone. I would have thought they would put single travelers together, or at least at a table that was a mixture of different people so there would be ample opportunity to meet people. While the gentleman was very nice, it was awkward to have family conversations because we had to keep filling him in on what we were discussing. Thought after the first night he would request a different table, but he didn’t so here was there every night.
Cabins: We had two cabins next to each other on deck 4, outside cabins, 4052 and 4054. (My parents were in balcony room on deck 7). Our rooms were in a very good locations, only 6 or so rooms from the elevators and Centrum. Very good room steward who was patient with my boy’s room. This was our first time with the boys not in a connecting cabin. Guest relations were very happy to give us an extra key for their room.
Entertainment: The shows in the theatre were hit and miss. A comedian and magician were very good, but the production shows, and others were just ok. One we thought was horrible was Judy Koba, (sp?) but entertainment is very subjective.
The entertainment around the ship was excellent! There was a classical guitar player that was so good every time he played in the Centrum there would be people everywhere listening on all the levels. The Centrum was very busy all the time which was nice, with lots of activities/music and even people dancing.
Teen clubs: My kids had an excellent time. The teen program is different than the kids club, not as structured and often times they don’t do an activity because there aren’t enough kids interested. Therefore, it is very important to go the first night to find other kids their age so they have someone to hang out with all week. My boys met some great kids from England, Scotland, Ohio and California and hung around with them the whole trip. It was Spring Break so there were probably many more teens on board than a normal 10 day sailing, but not so many that it was crazy. There didn’t seem to be as many in the younger age groups, of 4-11 years. Sometimes they did the activities, like dodge ball, or just hung out in the teen area, and often around deck 12 in the evening. There was a 1 am curfew on the ship which was nice, so they knew they had to be back by then to avoid getting in trouble.
Debarkation: Went very smooth, we had Orange tags and were told to wait in the Deck 5 dining room. We were off the ship by 9:15 or so, very quick to find luggage and get a cab to the airport. All we had to do was turn our form in to customs, they didn't check our passports or anything like on other ships.
Cabo San Lucas – We went to Medondo Beach to Billigans. A lot of fun, the water was a bit cold, but it was a very beautiful beach. The sand on the beach was very coarse. The drinks and food were good but a bit expensive. This was the most expensive of the 3 beaches we went to. This was the most beautiful port, make sure you are on deck when heading into this port, lands end was just gorgeous!
Mazatlan – The ship docked at a container area, not pretty by any means. Everyone had to take a free but compulsory tram to the cruise terminal which was about a 3 or 4 minute ride through all the containers. We walked the few blocks to the water taxi to Stone Island. We were the only ones walking that way, so weren’t sure if we were going in the right direction, but did find our way. Water taxi is only $2 per person round trip. Once over there we walked just a little bit across some rocks and we were on the beach. Very different from the beach in Cabo, much more primitive and natural, with the sand very fine and dark. I don’t remember the name of the restaurant we sat at, but had a few beers and rented a kayak. The waves weren’t very big here, but were fun to play in. Water was a bit warmer than in Cabo.
Acapulco – We had a tour with Sammy from Tourbyvan. Very good tour, went to all kinds of places here, saw lots of history as well as the markets where the locals shop. He told us a lot of history of the area , he had lived there is whole life and we got to see the cliff divers. I had always wanted to see Acapulco and it was one of the reasons we chose the 10 day trip on Radiance over the 7 day on Mariner. It was kind of sad to see that Acapulco is past its prime. Sammy was telling us how there is 35% unemployment, and that once Cancun was built the tourism really dropped in Acapulco. Many of the hotel chains have pulled out of the city. This was a very hot day when not in the air conditioned van.
Ixtapa/Zihuatanejo – We went to Playa La Ropa beach. This was the biggest waves we had of the three beach stops. Beautiful with the ship in the background with the warmest water. We had a lot of fun at this port. We had a few drinks but didn’t eat here. We went back to the ship for that. The town of Zihuatanejo was very nice and had some good shopping.
Puerto Vallarta - The ship docks directly across from the Walmart and Sam’s Club. Very weird to see that out the cabin window! We did go to the Walmart, but didn’t see anything worth buying. We took a taxi to the downtown area. It was very nice shopping and we got the best souvenirs here. This was the only overcast day we had the whole trip. The boys chose not to go to the beach that day, I think they were beached out.