Bottom line up front (BLUF) - The Radiance is a beautiful, well-run ship which features a wide variety of functional interior and exterior venues, ample deck space and beautiful views. The opulent, yet elegant design featured a rich decor accented with fabulous works of art. The crew was always friendly, welcoming and determined to provide an excellent experience for the guests. My most important factors for a cruise are the physical attributes of the ship and the attitude and ability of the crew. I was pleased on both counts. I look forward to sailing with Royal Caribbean again.
There were only minor issues that disappointed. On the first night of the cruise, the main dining room opened a bit late. As would be expected, many people showed up early and most didn't know their table assignment. This resulted in a delay with people crowded and waiting in line; this could have been avoided if the restaurant opened on the early side. Since we wanted to be on deck for sunset while sailing out of Tampa Bay, and the dining was running late, we skipped the first dinner at Cascades and had the Windjammer buffet instead. The other let down was the schedule for the fitness center and spa. The fitness center opened at 6am, but the spa and locker rooms were locked until 8am. It would be nice to have access to the locker room when using the fitness center. Furthermore, the partition doors were not opened at 6am which gave the impression that the fitness center was closed, and the video/music wasn't turned on until about 7am. When you hit the gym first thing in the morning it makes a big difference if the place is open, alive and awake when you get there. Finally, the movie theater was unimpressive, but it didn’t matter because the movie selections were on par with the theater.
The rest of the experience was terrific. Port of Tampa embarkation/debarkation was smooth and easy, and Royal Caribbean handles the port experience very well. (Hint if you are driving: download/print the driving and parking instructions from the RC web page. Drop off your luggage at the terminal then park yourself in the garage across the street. This will save you at least $14 on valet parking and is easy and convenient.) The food was excellent as were the table servers. The onboard activities offered something for just about everyone. We enjoyed the production shows in the beautiful Aurora Theater and loved both of them. We skipped the welcome aboard show and the comedy/juggling show, and this seemed to be a good choice. I was impressed by the civic-mindedness of the cruise line which hosted an enjoyable amateur Broadway-style show performed by aspiring dancers/students. There was a charity walk-a-thon for Make A Wish foundation and we regretted missing that.
Cozumel was a great port of call. We opted to walk and explore on our own. Although the walk was pretty long (at least 3 miles each way), it was safe and comfortable with plenty to see along the way. (We passed a couple of public beaches that would have been suitable for a self-guided snorkeling excursion, for the more adventurous.) No problem getting by with English, but it was fun to practice a Spanish. The locals were friendly and welcoming. US Dollars were accepted everywhere that we went. We have visited several Caribbean islands and Cozumel is the best so far; we figured that it had something to do with the rich Mexican culture which goes all the way back to the Aztecs...
This was our first cruise with Royal Caribbean. We have been on a few Disney cruises and consider ourselves loyal Disney cruisers. We were delighted to be impressed by the Radiance of the Seas.