This is my third cruise overall and second with Royal Caribbean. I am a 41 year old disabled male from North Ga that has discovered a love for cruising and Royal Caribbean. I really like the product they provide and can't wait to get on another RCCI ship. I also am very impressed with RCI accessibility at sea. The whole ship was very accessible and I love that RCCI has a lift for one pool and one hot tub.
Me and my mom checked into the Holiday Inn Express Rocky Point in Tampa on Friday. Very friendly staff and a clean room overlooking the bay. We enjoyed dinner at the Bahama Breeze next door to the hotel Friday night. The HI Rocky Point offers a "stay and cruise" package that allows you to stay overnight, has a free breakfast the next morning, parking for the duration of the cruise and shuttle service to and from the cruise port. It worked out great.
Wow, what can I say? Tampa really has their stuff together when it comes to this. By far the smoothest embarkation I have had yet. We arrived at the port around 11:30 am and was on board in the Windjammer in no time after checking in, getting our seapass cards and a short wait.
I had a handicap accessible oceanview cabin on deck 4 (4008). The cabin was plenty big enough for my needs and very comfortable and the layout was great. The bathroom was huge and of course had a roll in shower with a fold down shower bench. The bedding was very comfortable as well and my stateroom attendant Paul was very attentive and efficient. He was tipped above the prepaid gratuities amount as he deserved it. I had zero issues with the toilet, any foul smell, the shower not draining nor any other horror story I had read about. I am not saying the Radiance doesn't have some issues. I am just saying I did not experience any thankfully. Hopefully they can get her straight during drydock. She is gorgeous ship that is very classy and elegant.
I honestly thought the food was very good overall and cooked to order. Warm foods were warm and cold foods were cold. Despite some things I have read about concerning the decline of the quality of the food on RCI, I thought most everything I tried was very good to excellent in the MDR. Raymundo (waiter) and Jose (asst) were a great team that I felt deserved extra compensation above the prepaid gratuities as well. Some of the things that stick out as fantastic were the prime rib, escargot, chilled fruit soups and while the shrimp were small in the shrimp cocktail, they were tasty. We had lobster on the last night and it was cooked perfect and tasty as well. I utilized the MDR as much as possible for all meals. Breakfast was good and the Tutti salad bar on sea days for lunch was fantastic. A meal in itself.
What little I ate from the Windjammer was good as well. Even the hamburger isn't too bad if you get one as soon as it comes out fresh. I went to the Seaview cafe a few times and enjoyed the food there tremendously. It's a shame to see this disappearing during the drydock. I never used Room Service at all. I tried Chops and had the 16 oz bone in ribeye with baked potato, asparagus and broccoli. The potatoes are huge and I recommend splitting one unless you love LOTS of potato. Appetizers included HUGE shrimp cocktail and Caesar salad. Dessert was the cheesecake which was fantastic and definitely better than the cheesecake served in the MDR. It was "real" cheesecake. Even though Chops was a great experience with delicious food and incredible service, I don't believe I will be trying a specialty dining venue again as I enjoy the food in the MDR enough and can't see paying the extra expense. YMMV.
I really enjoyed the entertainment on board for the most part. The jugglers were good and pretty funny, the comedian was pretty decent and the Radiance of the Seas dancers were great. I did not care much for City of Dreams but thought Piano Man was really good. This was also a Super Bowl cruise and the staff done a wonderful job in the Aurora Theatre for the game. They provided hot dogs and sandwiches and other finger foods. Love and Marriage was hilarious and of course, The Quest had my gut hurting I laughed so hard.
Ports of call:
No excursions were taken. We got off in Cozumel and went downtown to shop a few hours. We caught a taxi for 6.00 round trip which I thought was good deal. They have handicap accessible taxis but I was able to use a regular one. The weather was incredible. I bought a couple Cuban cigars and a pair of polarized sunglasses and a t-shirt from Del Sol. It seems the vendors are much more pushy today than they were a couple years of go. They must really be desperate for business.
In Costa Maya, we did much of the same. Got off and browsed the shops and ate at Banditos. It was kind of pricey but the food was good and the margaritas were excellent. We found the vendors here not to be quiet as pushy and demanding as they were in Cozumel. This is a tourist place for sure but a nice place close to the ship to relax on the beach or eat or shop.
Just as quick and efficient as embarking was. We had luggage tag #1 and we reported ten minutes early after the last breakfast in the MDR to our station and they had already started letting people off. We left the ship quickly, got a Porter and he got us through customs in no time flat. Very nice job Port of Tampa!
Without trying to sound like a Royal Caribbean "cheerleader" I had a wonderful time on the Radiance of the Seas. I have absolutely zero complaints about the ship or this particular cruise. The only thing bad was the 5 days pass by so quickly. She is a magnificent vessel with an outstanding crew. I am absolutely blown away that they remember and call you by first name throughout the cruise after only being told once or seeing your Seapass card one time. I loved this ship and can now see why the Radiance class is a favorite of a lot of seasoned cruisers. I understand the Radiance has some small issues regarding plumbing but I never experience any of that and am confident all will be good after the drydock. I will likely sail the Jewel when she comes to Tampa as well. This was an excellent cruise that I was sad to see end but at least I purchased a "NextCruise" certificate to help ease Post Cruise Depression.
What a wonderful time on board the Radiance! No complaints at all and I definitely recommend this trip.