Our group of 4 drove to Tampa from New Orleans. Looking back we should have flown but we still enjoyed the drive over. Finding the terminal was a bit challenging. For some strange reason Terminal 2 has quite a large sign. So here we are looking for a similar sign for Terminal 3- none exists (at least that we could find). After a second wrap, I spotted a smaller green sign pointing out Terminal 3. Unloading was a breeze and we opted for the valet parking. It was only $15 more and during departure,(which it was pouring rain) we were glad we did.
We walked into the terminal with our paperwork and passports in hand. The lines were non-existent and were signed in by an older gentlemen. He could've been more cordial but we let it go since he was elderly and maybe was having a bad day. Other than that, embarking flowed smoothly and R.C.I. definitely has it figured out well; it took us less than 10 minutes from vehicle drop to boarding.
Entering the Radiance was a bit of a different experience for us. There was no hoopla over you while boarding, no music, and no one pushing drinks. Looking back I do miss the announcement of the "Robichaux" family, as it makes you feel special and like your vacation is actually beginning and it was kinda lame to not even have tropical music being played. It was more like entering the lobby of a hotel. However, I did not miss being hassled to buy a souvenir drink every two seconds! After reading the board on this ship I was a bit concerned at its age. I have to say that being the age it is, it is well kept and hard to find many wear and tear.
We made our way to the Windjammer, which was absolutely lovely and had a nice selection. I was happy to see that the tables were being cleaned (disinfected) quickly after each passenger. We had breakfast and lunch in the Windjammer everyday. The food offerings changed a bit each day and I have no complaints about the quantity or quality of the food.
After lunch we headed to find our stateroom (3110). Our luggage was there when we arrived and the room was ready to go. This room had two drop ceiling beds for our teenagers. We were able to hang most of our garments and unpack the rest into the drawer space provided. All of our luggage was put inside of each other and slipped neatly under the bed. Though the room was small, as most are, we never felt cramped or like we were stepping on each other. I also have to say that our room steward was exceptional. He cleaned the room constantly, we had a never ending supply of ice and water, and fresh towels. There was also a curtain partition that made it very easy for my daughter and me to change while the men were still in the room. One negative I have to admit was that at some point it felt like the a/c in our hall just stopped working. I called twice to have it looked into but, nothing changed. We were hot most nights and slept without covers. We never did experience any smells or wet carpeting as reported by others. Our commode refused to flush one evening, but one call and a few minutes later it was back in working order.
Our main dining time was 6pm and the Cascades room was very nice. The food was excellent and so was the service. Our glasses never stayed empty more than 2 or 3 minutes and our waiters were kind, funny, punctual,and full of information.
The selection during dinner was nice as well. There were 8 of us at one table and no one during the entire trip had any complaints.
As for entertainment, I personally found the entertainment aboard the Radiance much nicer than that of the two Carnival cruises I've taken. The shows were excellent and the dancers got really involved down at poolside.
Some points that I preferred on other ships were:
-music by the main pool was exactly the same everyday and throughout the day, consisting of oldies and disco. By the time you hear Staying Alive 7 times, it is just frustrating.
-Radiance had no "night clubs" for those of us who wanted to have fun with our 17/18 year old. When they decided to open it, it was only open to 18 and above. Sure there were other lounges open earlier but my teen doesn't want to hear big band music or Elton John hits (neither did I for that matter).
-This ship was also very limited on it's gaming as well.
-Though it is posted everywhere, seat holding on this ship was ridiculous. I could walk out at 7:30am and every chair had a towel, shirt, or book but no people on them. I actually found one without, sat and timed how long the chairs were being 'held' before someone came to actually use them - try up to 2 and 3 hours! And forget the Solarium, which by the way is really nice, but forget trying to sit in there. It is worse than the main pool for seating.
Instead,we hung out in the library, read, played trivia, played pool in the Scoonger lounge, hit the arcade, and played putt putt golf. We took advantage of the Spa during the evenings instead of dancing. We took the teens and did the thermal spa which was great. My daughter did the Spa sampler and loved it. My husband and I did the Rasual, which is a must.
On our Cozumel day, we did the Fury Catamaran and beach break. The catamaran and snorkeling was really fun and the gentlemen crewing the catamaran were great. The beach was awesome and we didn't have to fight for chairs or much else. The day was beautiful and I would recommend it to anyone.
On our Costa Maya day, we just walked around, shopped, and lounged in hammocks. It was a nice change compared to being on board and having to fight for a place to sit in the sun. We were haggled a little but nothing as bad as some other ports we've been to. We were also able to get close to watch the dolphins being fed and played with.
Basically this turned out to be just what we wanted, a very relaxing, laid back vacation. The ship is beautiful and full of things to do. Though I didn't get to sun poolside much, the other offerings easily took its place.