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Sail Date: October 2010
Myself (male, age 44) and DW (age 41); we have two young children who we left with the grandparents so we could enjoy a 10th anniversary cruise by ourselves. Our criteria for picking this sailing: (1) it had to include ports with Mayan ... Read More
Myself (male, age 44) and DW (age 41); we have two young children who we left with the grandparents so we could enjoy a 10th anniversary cruise by ourselves. Our criteria for picking this sailing: (1) it had to include ports with Mayan ruins, and (2) it had to take place on our actual anniversary date. And this led us to a 7 day Western Caribbean cruise out of Tampa on the Radiance of the Seas. It turned out that this was the first cruise of the season out of Tampa, following the Radiance's repositioning from Alaska. Lots of folks were new to their roles; we were told that about half the crew was new to the ship for this sailing. And too, other people (such as the staff at Tampa) were rusty from having not done this for awhile. The result was that we, the passengers on this trip, were the guinea pigs on whom the crew practiced their roles. Pre-cruise: We flew down from Baltimore the day before and stayed at the Embassy Suites Convention Center. It's a beautiful hotel, in a good location, and the service was exemplary. We were very pleased with the hotel, and would definitely stay there again. Embarkation: The port staff was rusty, having gotten out of practice over the summer. So things moved more slowly than we felt they should have, and we waited over an hour before we were able to check in and then board. It didn't help that we didn't know you had to leave your luggage with the porters before checking in, and we didn't find this out until we got through security. So, we had to go back out, leave our luggage, then go through the line again. Our stateroom: We had Stateroom 8638, a balcony cabin on the starboard side, aft. It was big enough for our needs, but just barely. Next time we sail with our kids, we'll definitely need a bigger room. There were no major issues with the room. The shower didn't drain too well, but it was repaired promptly after we reported it. The deck plans on the Royal Caribbean website showed a stairway nearby, so we figured we'd be able to get from deck to deck quite easily. Not so. Turned out that the stair were for crew use only. Anytime we wanted to go anythere, we had to walk forward to the Centrum. Somehow it seemed farther than it probably was, but it was kind of tiring to have to walk so much. Our stateroom attendant was one of the new ones aboard. He was generally competent and friendly, but didn't provide the exemplary level of service we'd previously received on the Grandeur. This became a theme of the cruise: good, but not as good as we'd had on the Grandeur. Nothing major, just little things, like service carts being left in the hallways for long periods of time. Each individual occurence of things like this was no big deal; but the cumulative effect was that the cruise just wasn't run as smoothly as we would have liked. The ship: Radiance is a lovely ship, and seemed in excellent condition. But we never quite got the hang of the overall layout. There seemed to be a bunch of dead ends and such. We like to walk a circuit around the ship, but it didn't work as well here as on the Grandeur. The promenade deck on the Radiance is compressed where the Centrum elevator shaft juts out; and then you have to walk up a flight of stairs at the bow, and then back down again on the other side. Up top, the path makes you thread your way past the Adventure Ocean pool. We didn't really like the idea of the kiddie area being part of the thru-traffic flow. I used the spa a couple of times, and DW used it a lot. We were pleased that the sales pitches were kept to a minimum; it was just, here are the products, you're welcome to buy them if you like. Dining: We tried My Time Dining, and it needs a lot of work. Once we were able to walk in and be seated when we wished; but other times, we couldn't get a reservation within an hour of our preferred time. Seems to me, if you have to book ahead and still get steered towards early or late seatings, you might as well go with the fixed-dining times. The food in the MDR was basically good, and the steak was outstanding. Service ranged from acceptable to slow. We ate all breakfasts and a few dinners in the Windjammer. The food selection was not quite as extensive as it was on the Grandeur, and the quality was not quite up to that level either. It was acceptable, but not great. We had our anniversary dinner in Chops Grille. Very good food, and excellent service. Not sure it was worth the extra charge for a regular meal, but for a special occasion it was definitely worth it. Ports: We stopped at Grand Cayman, Costa Maya, Belize City, and Cozumel. Hurricane Paula threatened to disrupt our cruise, but in the end we skirted around it. Apparently, quite a few other ships had to divert to the Eastern Caribbean to avoid it. Thus, in Cozumel, we were the only ship in port that day. We're not big beach people (yeah, I know, what are we doing sailing the Caribbean?), so the beaches did not figure into our touring. Please see my port reviews for more detailed comments. Debarkation: We had a mid-afternoon flight home, so we weren't in a big hurry to get off. We were assigned a 9:20 time, which of course stretched until almost 11:00 before we could actually leave. I have yet to experience a smooth, on-time debarkation. Once we were actually off the ship, everything went quickly and smoothly. Summary: It was a good cruise, and we had a lot of fun. But it was the "least good" of the four cruises I've done. We will definitely sail Royal Caribbean again; would probably sail from Tampa again, and would probably sail on a Radiance-class ship again. But we will try to avoid any cruise immediately following a repositioning. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2008
Embarkation was fast and flawless. We went right to our 7th floor mid ship balcony room, walked out to see the view and were floored!!! Extending directly from our balcony was a ten foot white platform that we later determined was the ... Read More
Embarkation was fast and flawless. We went right to our 7th floor mid ship balcony room, walked out to see the view and were floored!!! Extending directly from our balcony was a ten foot white platform that we later determined was the roof holding the lifeboats on the floor below. There were workers on the platform, painting and doing repairs. Part of the enjoyment of a balcony room has always been looking straight down at the water and watching the water. Not from this room and many others on the 7th floor. I would suspect that even the eight floor above us had a somewhat obstructed view. This room was not sold to us as an obstructed view. We joined the long line of other 7th floor people unhappy with their rooms and were lucky enough to be on a ship that was not full-we did get moved. If you are on the Radiance and on the seventh floor midship above the lifeboats-start working on getting moved NOW. Going through the Panama Canal was the high point of the 2 weeks-on the day we went through, we were blessed with great weather and it will be a lifetime memory. Ports of call were good people aboard who had done all of south america felt the Eastern side had better ports. We did not opt for any of the tours most people who did were not pleased with the experience verses cost. The exception would be that everyone who took the day long tours out of Valparaiso felt that had a great tour and the value was there. Kirk, the Cruise director was amazing-bright, talented, full of fun and energy by far the best Cruise Director I have ever experienced. Don't miss the night they do "Quest". Take the line dancing lessons. The entertainment was first class throughout we enjoyed every show. If you're not a show person, make one exception and DO GO to the show with the tango dancers-fabulous. We loved the crew-most spoke English far better then we have experienced on other cruises. Happy, cheerful, eager to please-no exceptions. We liked the fact that when the captain gave an announcement he would always greet the crew as well as the guests. "Good morning to our guests, and good morning to the crew as well." We are ballroom dancers and wish that we could have had more opportunities to do this kind of dancing-we were second seating and the only ballroom was directed at first seating times. I guess they figure that if you are a ballroom dancer you eat early and then go to bed. :) The disco was fun there is a neat rotating bar. We loved the ship-beautiful, clean. The Solarium is a wonderful room with an indoor pool-absolutely gorgeous. The ship is trying hard to keep people from "saving" the lounge chairs and with a few exceptions people did tend to remember that when they were kids they were taught to share. Nothing is perfect and the ship had one big downfall. The food. Everyone that I talked to rated it only fair, some felt the was terrible. The meat was the biggest problem dry fish, dry and tasteless chicken, steaks that could not be cut. I don't know if it is poor quality to start or if the preparation made it bad. As an example, I've always enjoyed freshly grilled hamburgers on a ship-on Radiance they are precooked patties sitting in a warming tray dry and tasteless. The windjammer meats were especially bad. An exception to that would be the ham at the carving station in the morning-it was always delicious. The bran muffins were great too. Something is wrong at the windjammer-condiment bowls for ice cream toppings or fruits for waffles (which were awful anyway) were often empty one morning they ran out of bran muffins and the substitute banana muffins were frozen in them middle. We resorted to the speciality restaurants in the evening we ate at Portofino's twice and Chops twice-wonderful food and service. See if you can get Luc as your waitress at Portofino's. We did the mystery dinner it was pretty good don't know if it was worth $49.00 or not. Debarkation was ok one warning to anyone considering this trip you're off the ship by 10 in the morning it's a 2 hour bus ride to Santiago airport and the flights depart at 10 in the evening. We live in Phoenix and were routed by the ship line from Santiago to Miami, then to Dallas and the to Phoenix. That's 18 1/2 hours from the time we boarded our first flight-and remember, we got on our first plane at 10PM and off the ship at 10 AM. By the time we got home we did not look like we just had a 2 week cruise. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2008
We Started cruising late in life, 6 years ago, but thanks to RCCL we were sold on cruising 15 in this period.Most have been on Celebrity,which we love but Royal has been more than satisfactory as has Princess. We did have a recent Carnival ... Read More
We Started cruising late in life, 6 years ago, but thanks to RCCL we were sold on cruising 15 in this period.Most have been on Celebrity,which we love but Royal has been more than satisfactory as has Princess. We did have a recent Carnival cruise that fell short of our expectations. We arranged our own flight and hotel arrangements in Fort Lauderdale. The embarkation process was wonderful it took about 40 minutes for us to all meet in the Buffet. The ship is beautiful and beautifully appointed and really added to the enjoyment of a Panama Canal cruise that has to be a must for everybody. I do not agree with one reviewer that a partial passage is just as good as a full crossing. We had an inside handicap cabin that was very roomy and nicely located, however the TV, Toilet and the safe did not work on arrival. After some delay I guess due to the ships impending sailing all was fixed. Unfortunately, The toilet subsequently broke down 5 more times during the cruise,once at 2 AM which led to an hour and a half to get it fixed. Dining was at best fair in the dining room.The menus each day were fairly uninspired and the food was bland with perhaps those that were curried, which we hate. I was disappointed at the lack of spectacular selections we have seen previously on Royal,eg. beef wellington,veal chop etc. They did have the traditional lobster night and luckily I chose to have a steak that night. My wife was very unhappy with the lobster.Why do they always choose a formal night to eat a messy lobster??? The Buffet was of the island variety and I liked this approach and the food although like the dining room you could modify your selections. The SERVICE ON THE PART OF ALL THE CREW WAS I THOUGHT OUTSTANDING. Our room steward(Marcia) and our head waiter(Moustafa)were the best we ever had. You could not ask for better service and friendliness than on this ship. THe entertainment in the theater was marginal. There was only two production shows and that was the only time we saw the singers and dancers. There was no cameo appearances by any of them. their new production show entitled cities was a BOMB. Other the violinist Maria Negli (superb) we saw second rate comedians and jugglers. DISEMBARKATION in San Diego went very smoothly. INSUMMARY I was disappointed and will move back to Celebrity and HAL in the future. I can really understand the need for some cutbacks in the food and entertainment but really do they have to make it so obvious. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2008
In this review, I'm not going to repeat what I have read many times in other reviews. If you read this site as much as I did while planning and before taking a cruise, you already know everything about the ship. I will attempt to just ... Read More
In this review, I'm not going to repeat what I have read many times in other reviews. If you read this site as much as I did while planning and before taking a cruise, you already know everything about the ship. I will attempt to just include what we liked and didn't like (for whatever it is worth) and information about excursions that we took. We could not find anything to complain about in the condition or the amenities of the ship. We thought that it was a very attractive ship; just the right size to make getting around very quick and easy. I thought that all the lounge and public areas were very attractive and very well maintained. CABIN - We were in 9044. We never felt crowded even after 13 nights; although I can't imagine more than two people in the cabin. Liked the full-size couch. Had plenty of storage space/room and could actually use the couch for sitting instead of storing things. We always take the over the door shoe rack for the bathroom door. This, to me, is mandatory as the counter space in the bathroom is very small, plus it makes cleaning the bathroom so much easier, I'm sure. The shower was fine - plenty of hot water and good water pressure. We aren't large people and found the size adequate. We, however, would not have survived without a balcony. It made a tremendous difference in our time on the ship as we spent a lot of time in our cabin. We really enjoyed sitting on the balcony during the day and at night. There is a long light right inside the sliding door which illuminates the balcony enough to play games on the table on the balcony at night. We also liked the fact that the entire balcony wall was glass. It made the cabin appear much brighter and bigger. We like looking for sea life and from our balcony we saw many turtles and dolphins. We also saw two pods of orca whales (although it was past the season for whale watching excursions).. We even clearly saw a hammerhead shark swim right below our balcony. We also saw sea lions swimming by while anchored in Cabo San Lucas. CABIN STEWARDS - Excellent service from both our steward and his assistant. All the stewards we saw while going up and down our hallway were always very friendly and polite. FOOD - We didn't eat in the dining room as we had late seating (which is way too late for us) and we don't particularly like eating at a set time. We also didn't want to take anything but very casual clothes on this trip as we were gone for almost four weeks total. Therefore, we ate in the Windjammer. Nothing special as far as food but certainly a lot of choices - some better than others. I was able to eat a very healthy diet - great steamed vegetables were available most lunches and dinners. I also really liked the way they prepared the seafood which was also available just about every meal. We found the breakfast items in the bins to be not too great - so to get around the very marginal scrambled eggs, we had plain omelets made most days. The carving station had ham available every breakfast. This cruise was probably fully booked and it often took a bit of time to search out a place to sit (except for dinner when there were always plenty of seats). We did go to the Seaview Cafe once but mostly what is found there are fried or fatty foods - so we decided to go healthy this trip and didn't go back. It was also at the opposite end of the ship so we decided it wasn't that special to warrant going there. I did have crepes once at the Solarium Cafe and they were delicious. STAFF - Excellent service and attitude. Didn't come across one person who wasn't smiling and helpful. In the Windjammer, staff walk around constantly offering drinks and clearing plates. We particularly enjoyed having a new waiter in training, Christoph from Belgium, waiting on us in the evening. He was such a nice person and very helpful. I think he will have a great career as a dining room waiter some day. SANITATION - This is one area that I feel was lacking. Actually, I can't believe that this cruise didn't end up having a virus outbreak. The ship itself appeared to be VERY clean. There were hand sanitizing wipes available when entering the Windjammer, but only about half the people used them and the staff person stationed there didn't stop people to make sure that they used the wipes. (Our cruise two months ago on Celebrity Galaxy, you couldn't get in the door of the dining room or buffet without using the sanitation wipes - you were stopped). I used the fitness center a lot and was appalled that pretty much no one wiped down any equipment or mats. I went to all the aerobics classes and people were sweating and doing floor exercises on the mats. I was always the only one who got sanitizing wipes and wiped down my mat. People even seeing me doing that didn't bother. I went to spin classes - again I was the only person wiping down my bike. You can't get out of my gym at home without wiping down your equipment. My husband and I used the exercise equipment most days and again we were two of the few even bothering to sit on towels, etc., much less wipe down the equipment. FITNESS CENTER - Excellent facilities pretty heavily used. I really enjoyed the variety of weight machines and went there almost every day. I didn't use any cardio equipment but there appeared to be quite a variety and plenty of machines and they were used a lot, it appeared. FITNESS CLASSES - Every morning there was an early morning stretch class - you had to get there 15 minutes early in order to get a space and even then it was packed. It wasn't anything special but was a nice way to start the day. A spin class was offered about every other day. I went to the first three classes but participation was very limited (3-5 people). When the fourth class came around, only two of us showed up. The instructor decided not to run the class because it "wouldn't be motivational enough." I wasn't too thrilled about that because I feel if it is offered and he is just sitting there, he can run the class. No spin classes were run after that because I was the only person. However, the cruise director, Kirk, instructed an hour aerobics class on port days (at 4 or 5 p.m.). He would run them if only one person showed up. They were excellent, a lot of work, and fun. I really appreciated the fact that he did that. I wasn't that impressed with the fitness staff. They certainly did have a lot of enthusiasm for their various "classes" that they taught such as detox, etc. I noticed that they did seem to get quite a few people to sign up for personal consultations or whatever they were hawking. PORTS - Cartagena, Colombia: I had often read on this site how beautiful Cartagena is. We didn't find it to be anything special. The Old Town doesn't even come close to Old San Juan - there are a FEW pretty buildings but that is about it. There are a lot of beggars. We took the Deluxe Cartagena and Fortress (CA08) tour. There were buses full of people on this tour. The first stop was Fort San Felipe de Barajas - a hot walk up for absolutely nothing. This fort has absolutely nothing to really offer - nothing to see inside the fort (or at least we didn't get to see it); no great views from the fort; a hot walk up for nothing to see. Every ten feet, someone was trying to sell you something or asking for money. Next stop was Las Bovedas (The Dungeons) "craft"/souvenir shopping area. . It was so crowded that it was pretty much impossible to walk around. We paid a dollar to use the bathroom and did a little shopping. I entertained myself by giving money to a few of the women dressed up with fruit baskets on their heads to have my picture taken with them. At least they made an effort to get some money instead of the other people just standing around asking for money. Next stop was a walk through the Old Town area. In the Inquisition Palace I found the display on torture equipment the most interesting part (just in case this interests you, just about all the equipment had signs stating that it was never used in Colombia). Most of the time, the guide stood in front of framed maps explaining historical events. The San Pedro Claver church was okay. We did give some money to the nuns and nurses standing at the door asking for donations. Next stop was at the Navy Museum where our tour director gave more history talks while standing around exhibits in glass cases. We watched a folkloric dance performance that I think was ongoing all day while they cycled through the tourists. It certainly was lively and kept my attention. The next area was to the official shopping mall (Pierino Gallo) - just a block of the typical jewelry and souvenir shops. Luckily that stop was only 30 minutes. Due to huge traffic jams it took a long time to get back to the ship. All in all, I can't think of another way to see Colombia unless you are comfortable enough to go out on your own or get your own driver, and I was thrilled to say that I finally got to South America - but I would never consider Cartagena to be a possible vacation destination. Huatulco, Mexico - This port had a lot of the typical souvenir shopping in a one-block building jammed full of stalls all selling the same stuff over and over. My husband speaks some Spanish so he had fun talking to and bartering with the locals for the few items that I wanted to buy. We didn't go the beaches at any of these ports, but this stop was supposed to have some very nice beaches. Acapulco, Mexico - This was a horrible port for us. The building right where the ship docks is fine, but if you step outside that area you are just besieged by taxi drivers, etc. We are used to being in the Caribbean and used to people constantly asking you if you want a taxi or buy something. However, in Acapulco, they would not take no for an answer. We decided to do some walking and we had people follow us saying that the city pays them to show tourists where to go - I'm sure that is not true or they would present themselves that way upfront not after you tried ten times to get rid of them. Finally, my husband got so annoyed with one man that wouldn't give up and that he couldn't even politely get rid of by speaking English or Spanish, and it was actually getting scary to me - so he finally just about yelled in Spanish that we aren't giving you any money and the guy said something under his breath and finally left, then we turned around and went back to the ship. The place was also dirty and decrepit (not your typical expected decrepit island place) and just a place I would never go to again. We were looking forward to that port, and it was disappointing. For our excursion, we decided that we would do the typical tourist thing and see the cliff divers (Acapulco Bay Cruise and Cliff Divers - AC11) I couldn't decide whether to take the bus or boat tour. All the bus tours involved driving around resorts, etc., and we didn't want to do that. I tried to research the cliff diver watching by boat, but couldn't find out too much so decided it would probably be better than standing on the lookout areas with tons of people. My advice is - DON"T DO IT. First of all, the boat is a large three level tour boat that holds 250 people. There was plenty of room on the boat, but try to get 250 people all crammed along the rear of the boat to see the divers. We had asked one of the crew where to stand, so we were positioned early - BUT - the boat was so far out that the divers were about one-inch tall. You could see them dive - but barely. Smaller boats could get in much closer. They then served a Mexican buffet while going back to the cruise ship. Also, two of the divers swam all the way out to the boat to pose with the tourists and get tips. At the conclusion of this tour, they gave you the options of going with one of their tour guides on a short tour of an historical site and then shopping, going with one of their tour guides to a shopping area (more jewelry), or just back to the cruise ship. We opted for the cruise ship because we wanted to check out the port (big mistake either way, I'm sure). NOTE: When we spent some time in San Diego after this cruise, we met several people who regularly go to the Mexican Riviera area. Not one person had anything good to say about Acapulco and all said they would never go back there. Puntarenas, Costa Rica - At this port, we decided to try the zip lining excursion (The Original Canopy Tour Mahogany Park - CR12). About 20-30 people were on our bus and it was about a 45-minute drive to the site. They had a person who talked the entire way there so the time went fast and we learned some interesting things about Costa Rica. I was very excited about zip lining, but came away disappointed. I know other people who have gone at other places and loved it and people on our tour seemed to like it (at least in front of other people they said so). I think it would be important to really check out the place to where you are going. In all cases, you will probably have about a 20 minute walk into and out of the jungle - that was fine and we didn't notice any bugs, even though we had sprayed ourselves just in case. They gave good instructions, and I think safety was the major concern. There were about 8 or 9 zip lines, and they weren't that long. That was fine because this was our first time, and I wanted something easy and not too high. What I didn't like - each platform was actually a metal surround about 18" wide around a tree trunk. Once you landed on this "platform" you were attached by your safety line to a rope around this tree trunk. Then, you had to inch yourself around the trunk to the other side to where you would begin the next zip line. I found it very scary and I'm not usually afraid of things like this. No one fell off, but boy if you did, you would be caught by your line but you would go slamming up against the tree and would have to get yourself back up to the platform. I had seen zip lining courses on TV and expected an actual platform on which to land and move around. The hardest part of the zip lining itself was trying to keep yourself from twisting backwards, which is very scary because then you can't see where you are going and whether you should break. The person waiting to catch you yells at you as to whether to break or not, but you can't put your hands on the wrong place or you'll really be in trouble with the cables. I saw several people get twisted around and panic and start grabbing the cables and had to be screamed at to get their hands off. It happened to me, and you do panic because you can't see where you are going. Also, your feet can be hard to control and some trees you go by are very close. I saw a person break too soon and ended coming to a dead stop about 6 feet from the platform and had to go hand over hand to try to work himself to the platform and then get his body up on the platform - he just was hanging there for a while - he said it was exhausting. Another person didn't break properly and went crashing into the tree and the person trying to catch him. (Remember that you only have about an 18" area in which to land before you are face to face with the tree trunk.) In retrospect, at least in my case, I would have to zip line another time or two to get the hang of it. I never once just got to look around - it was just stressful. However, this experience was so bad, I won't be trying it again. ALSO, although the people working the zip lines were courteous enough, only one seemed actually trying to make an effort to be friendly (although I realize that most of them don't speak English too well and I also realize that dealing with people who have never zip lined before and keep crashing into things is probably annoying day after day.) One more thing, I was very disappointed that they didn't take pictures that we could buy of us zip lining. Many people mentioned this as a disappointment. They encouraged you to bring your camera, so I did. However, I was so busy hanging on for dear life that I couldn't take any pictures. Also, I would have had to go several people ahead of my husband in order to at least get a picture of him - MAYBE. Even though I didn't like the experience I really wanted a picture for my scrapbook. They didn't even have anything to buy such as canned pictures of the place or experience. Even the T-shirts they were trying to sell were tank tops only in XX Large. ALSO, didn't see any wildlife at all except for one snake. Cabo San Lucas, Mexico - This was a very nice port. We tendered in and the process was smooth and fast. Both directly around the waterfront and in the streets surrounding the port area - lots of stores, shops, and places to drink/eat. There is also a huge building right near the tender area full of the typical stuff found in very port in the Caribbean and Mexico. But, I like to look at that junk and always pick up something as a way to remember the place. We didn't take excursions in Cabo or Huatulco. We are snorkelers and I had booked snorkeling excursions in both of those ports but canceled them before the cruise. After doing some research, I realized that the experience wouldn't even compare to the Caribbean snorkeling that we do and that the water would probably be cold. But I did see the snorkeling group getting ready on the pier and it was the typical ship excursion with too many people being fitted with poor equipment being crammed unto a small boat. We took a 11-night S. Caribbean cruise earlier this year and went on many snorkeling excursions. Please, if you have it, take your own mask and snorkel. The unsanitary way many places keep the snorkels is disgusting, and it ruins the entire experience if your mask always leaks or you keep getting water in your snorkel. Some snorkeling excursions are pretty good but most are not too great just because of the large number of people packed on the boats, the time it takes for everyone to get in the water, etc. PANAMA CANAL - We found the actual canal transit to be interesting. People on this site often ask about whether there is a big difference between the partial or full transit. Well, my opinion is that once you go through one set of locks, you have seen it all. We were very lucky in that our ship went in on the right side and a huge cargo ship went in the same direction on the left side just one lock behind us. So, we were able to sit on our balcony and see how everything works all the way through to the lake. Many people apparently crushed onto the heli pad and spent hours in the HOT sun. I must say that we did enjoy seeing the Panama City skyline and the MANY ships/boats waiting on the Pacific side for their turn through the canal. We spent about an hour on our balcony with our binoculars looking at the ships - that was fun. ENTERTAINMENT - Most shows were comedians or whatever. We didn't go to any of those. We did go to the two musical shows. Piano Man was pretty good and City of Dreams was also good. We enjoy listening and dancing to oldies rock type of music. All of that type of music started after 10 p.m. when we were already in bed. The closest thing they had to that type of music earlier in the evening was in the Schooner Bar and they would play from like 7-7:45 then take an hour break. It was kind of ridiculous. But, I guess they know what there market wants, and it isn't what we want, so we just stayed in our cabin playing Scrabble or reading, etc. PASSENGER TYPE - We are in our late 50s. I would say that the average cruiser on this itinerary was in their late 60s or 70s. It was definitely a senior crowd which was great as far as nights go. I never heard one peep from the rooms next to us or in the hall at nights. Makes for great sleeping. No drunks running around the halls. Very classy crowd. - much more dressed up than the Celebrity cruise that we took and that was also a long 11-night cruise. On formal night, we were one of the few in the buffet - we saw people really dressed to the nines walking around the ship - they really seemed to enjoy the experience - many tuxes and long gowns. ACTIVITIES - Lots of activities every day. My husband tried the golf simulator - wasn't that great but was something to do - but he didn't go back. They did have two golf competitions that he went to. We just don't like the typical cruise things but there were lots of trivia type of activities for those of you that like that. I went to several line dancing classes which were packed. Went to port lectures and they were pretty informative with PowerPoint presentations with lots of pictures. Noticed a craft activity most days and scrapbooking workshops. I can see if you enjoy those type of activities, you could definitely be busy every hour of the day. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2008
We did our first cruise over Christmas 1999 on Grandeur of the Seas (Eastern Carib), then two on Princess (Alaska & Southern Carib), so my husband and I (61 and 55) decided to try RCI again for the Western Carib route. Overall, we had ... Read More
We did our first cruise over Christmas 1999 on Grandeur of the Seas (Eastern Carib), then two on Princess (Alaska & Southern Carib), so my husband and I (61 and 55) decided to try RCI again for the Western Carib route. Overall, we had a fabulous time! Radiance is indeed "radiant" - very pretty ship, but could tell that it's ready for some refurbishing. Chairs in some of the public areas are quite worn, and there were a number of nicks on our stateroom vanity (as could be expected). We were told that it's going into drydock at the beginning of April, hope they also are going to replace the outdated draperies so they match the clean-looking (and comfortable) bedding. We really liked the dEcor in the Centrum and Colony Club, as well as the other public areas, along with all the glass everywhere. We thought the outside elevators were very cool, but could see that anyone who has trouble with glassed-in elevators would have to take the forward elevators (or stairs) to get anywhere on the ship. The Solarium was relaxing and the outside pool area a fun place to people-watch. Our balcony stateroom was all we expected. We were on Deck 8, port side, 2nd stateroom aft of the Centrum. Did not get any noise from the elevators or stairs, or from the stateroom connected to ours. We loved the location, and, because we were at the end of the "hump", had a little bigger, pie-shaped balcony. We spent time out there playing cribbage in the afternoons. We were reminded how efficiently RCI makes use of storage space in the staterooms, particularly all the shelving around and next to the vanity. Had plenty of room to spare for the two of us. Our attendant, Henderson, was unobtrusive, but very efficient (the room was spotless) and responded quickly to the requests we made (e.g., robe for my husband, pool towels, ice). The staff/crew appeared hard-working and friendly. Everyone greeted us as we passed and went out of their way to be helpful. The Guest Relations staff were pleasant and seemed to handle problems and requests well. We tried to make a point, too, to thank the maintenance staff and others we met in the hallways or on deck for their efforts. We tend to not get involved in a lot of the ship "activities," even on the sea day, so can't comment on them. We did enjoy the production shows - the singers, dancers, and orchestra were excellent, in our opinion. We skipped the shows with the comedians. The Cruise Director Kirk's "How ya doin'?" schtick got a bit tiresome, but otherwise he seemed personable enough. Again, we didn't participate in a lot of activities with the CD (that's not why we cruise). Our favorite evening activity was to sit in the Centrum and listen to the Jazz Trio - they were outstanding! Food: we didn't have a bad meal, and felt that most everything we tried was very good. Ate dinner in the dining room, late seating worked well for us. We were at a table for six. One couple didn't show up at all, but we enjoyed sharing meals and comparing notes with the other couple. We also liked having the same waiters every night (something we missed when doing the Personal Choice dining on our last Princess cruise). We did eat one night at Portofino - the food was well worth the extra charge (can you say "seafood skewer" and "dessert sampler"?), but we were disappointed with our waiter, Elvis. It was not the outstanding service we expected, in fact, he was rather behind with everything (e.g., bringing out the bread, clearing plates, bringing the dessert menu). We hoped that the lack of service was not because we didn't order any wine... We also ate at the Windjammer for some breakfasts and lunches when we wanted a quick meal; preferred breakfast in the dining room (great French Toast) on days we had the time. We liked the Seaview Cafe for late lunches, especially on the port days - my husband thought the clam chowder was good as, was the Reuben sandwich, and I liked the crab salad. We both ate more than our limit of onion rings. Got a plate of chips with salsa and guacamole to take back to our stateroom for a late afternoon snack one day, too. Never did try the pizza in the Solarium, maybe next cruise.... Seemed to be a pretty diverse group of passengers. We met a number of interesting and enjoyable folks from Canada and the UK, as well as the U.S. (mainly us northerners getting away from the snow). There was a group of Italians, too, but many did not speak much English, so we mostly just smiled and said hello a lot with them. Also quite a few college kids on Spring Break - we didn't spend any time in the disco or other spots they hung out, but did meet some nice kids who didn't mind talking with us geezers. Embarkation and Ports: We flew from Milwaukee to Ft. Lauderdale Sunday morning, direct flight that got in around noon. Took a 10-minute (and $14 fare) cab ride to the terminal, got there right before a shuttle bus full. There was quite a long line to get through the Security, but once we were in the main check-in room, there was no wait and the check-in itself went very quickly. We decided to be adventurous this cruise and not book excursions through the ship. We don't cruise to shop, and prefer to see some of the surrounding area with more nature-oriented excursions, so our choices reflected that. Key West: It was wonderful to see flowers and GREEN! We walked down Whitehead St. to do the tour at the Hemingway House, and continued to the Southernmost Point marker. Went back on Duval St., taking in the sights. We stopped in a photography gallery and a glass studio/gallery (could spend a day going from art gallery to art gallery), but only bought some bottles of seltzer at a convenience store. And we had the obligatory frozen Key Lime Pie on a stick-good thing we walked about 8 miles! Cozumel: Took a cab to Chankanaab Park, several miles south of the pier. The entrance fee was $14 each (with the $2 coupons I'd printed off their website), and we rented snorkel equipment for $10 each. There is a small swimming area with a sandy shore; the snorkel area has rock "steps" with railings to get in and out of the water. The snorkeling was great, saw lots of fish in the clear turquoise water, especially by the reef. There's also a 12-foot statue of Christ underwater, which was a little creepy. Before snorkeling, we walked around the park and joined a group with one of the guides in the area where they have replicas of Mayan, Aztec, and other prehispanic ruins. An interesting way to learn some of the history of Mexico. Grand Cayman: We booked the Stingray City & Snorkel Tour directly with Captain Marvin's, with Captain Marvin himself at 91 driving the boat! What a hoot. The sandbar where all the stingrays are was amazing - they swim right up and "bump" into you, a little unnerving at first, but they really are quite gentle. We didn't try feeding any, but did hold one (they're rather spongy-rubbery feeling), and I even "kissed" it for 7 years good luck. From there, we went by a reef to snorkel, different kinds of coral here, and all kinds of fish. Did a little tourist shopping back in George Town at a t-shirt shop and the Tortuga Rum shop. Montego Bay: We booked a tour with Barrett Adventures, and after talking to other passengers later, we agreed we'd made a good choice. We had our own driver who took us in a van up in the mountains to the Great River for a raft trip. There was a group from the ship doing the same river trip, but they went on the narrow winding mountain roads on a bus. We had a relaxing float on a bamboo raft down the river with some beautiful scenery and an entertaining guide. Afterwards, we went to the Rocklands "Bird Sanctuary", which was a house (down a dirt side road) where a woman had trained the hummingbirds to feed out of a bottle of sugar water that we held. They even sat on our fingers - quite a treat to have them be that close. We also stopped at a West Indian Art Gallery on the way back into Montego Bay. Didn't go through the shopping district, as we really didn't want the hassle. Sea Day: Spent the day wandering about taking pictures, watched the Rock Wall climbing contest, my husband tried out the sauna & steam room while I attended the Backstage Tour in the theatre, and spent some time by the pool before having to pack up our suitcases.... I also spent some time (and about $10) in the casino while husband watched basketball in the Sports Bar, then we went to the Farewell Show (with former Olympic gymnast Lance Ringwald) before dinner. After dinner, we hung out in the Centrum, then went to the Jazz Cabaret show in the Colony Club for a great ending to a perfect cruise. Disembarkation: Final breakfast in the dining room before getting our carry-on bag out of the stateroom. Waited in the Schooner Bar, wasn't too crowded. It seemed to take awhile to get the disembarkation process started (kept paging a couple of passengers?), but even with not doing the Express Walk-off & having "independent" arrangements, we were still off the ship soon after 10:00, found our luggage right away, breezed through Customs, and got a cab to the airport. We had tickets for a 7:00 flight, so wasn't looking forward to having to wait at the airport (no place but the floor for people to sit until they can check in for their flights), but luckily, we were able to get 2 of the last 3 open seats on the 12:30 flight, so we were back in Milwaukee around 3:15! Read Less
Sail Date: March 2008
We just experienced our 1st cruise aboard Radiance of the Seas. Cruising were myself (34), my husband (39) and my son (9). We stayed 1 night pre-cruise at Holiday Inn Express Convention Center on 17th St. Causeway. We were able to use ... Read More
We just experienced our 1st cruise aboard Radiance of the Seas. Cruising were myself (34), my husband (39) and my son (9). We stayed 1 night pre-cruise at Holiday Inn Express Convention Center on 17th St. Causeway. We were able to use Priority Club points for a free night. It was nothing fancy, but was clean and had a decent free breakfast. I would stay there again if I were using free points again. The location was perfect in proximity to the airport and cruiseport. About 10 minutes from the airport and 5 minutes from Port Everglades. We ate dinner at Carlos and Pepe's right up the street from the hotel. A great Mexican restaurant with delicious margarita's, chips, salsa and guacamole. I was more impressed with those items than I was my main course - but it was okay. Onto the cruise...Embarkation was a very smooth process. We arrived at the pier at around 11am and were onboard, had purchased our soda cards and were eating at the Windjammer by noon. It was crowded, but I expected that since no one could get to their cabin before 1. We then checked out our dining room assignment. We had 2nd dining seating and were assigned to a table of 10. We requested through the maitre'd to be reassigned to a smaller table. We are not anti-social, but this was our 10th anniversary cruise and we just chose to be alone. My son ate in the Windjammer and went up to Adventure Ocean and we got ready and went to dinner at 8:30 every night. We are unable to go out to dinner alone at home very often, so this worked out well for us. Mustava (sp) accommodated our request and had us at a smaller table by the 2nd night. We hadn't planned on dining in Cascades the 1st night anyway, because we were still busy checking out every inch of the ship so we ate in the Windjammer. We thought the ship was beautiful. Very impressive. She is in dry dock now and I've read a few comments that say she needs improvement, but I didn't notice anything that screamed fix me. We were in JS 1100 located in the aft. Awesome cabin....Huge balcony that we enjoyed every minute of. Our room steward Anack (sp?) was great. He was there for anything we needed, basically before we could ask for it. It was a long walk to the stairs/ elevators (135 steps to be exact, we counted) but helped offset all the eating we did all week! Dining: Main dining room / Cascades - Our waiters were Reynaldo and Eric from the Philippines. They were great. I am a picky eater and don't eat much meat, but my husband likes everything - so I ate here to please him. I personally ended up choosing alternatives every night, such as pasta w/ marinara or chicken breast. I did like the appetizers and desserts though. On the 2nd formal night, which the fisherman's platter is served (lobster tail and shrimp), my husband was offered a 2nd lobster tail. Not sure if this was because I didn't partake or not? I didn't notice any of the other tables around us having seconds. But he gladly accepted the offer. Overall the service here was impeccable. We were very impressed. Everything we tried was delicious. Windjammer: Breakfast - I was a bit tired of eating the same thing by the last day, but that was my fault. There were plenty of options, but like I said I'm picky so I chose the same thing basically every day. My husband son enjoyed everything and didn't complain. (I didn't complain either - it's no one's fault but mine that I have a very limited range of things I like.) For lunches and / or afternoon snacks the salad's and fresh fruit were delicious. For dinners my son (who we took here to eat before dropping him off at Adventure Ocean) ate chicken, pizza, burgers, hot dogs. We normally got our own drinks while in the Windjammer. There were people walking around, but we usually helped ourselves before they offered. I didn't have a problem with this, but would not wanted to have to rely on them or you could have gotten very thirsty waiting. Seaview Cafe: One word - yum! We loved the burgers and onion rings. Tried the milkshakes once, which were also delicious. My husband had a reuben. We also tried the brownies. I think we ate here 3 times, but had no complaints...Very good and a nice change of pace from the Windjammer. Room Service: Nice to have the option of something 24 hours a day. We didn't use it but a few times but everything was delivered quickly and correctly. Ports: Keywest - didn't do much. Walked through Mallory Square, up Duval St. over to the Southernmost point for pictures, down Whitehead St. and back to the ship. Stopped at some shops along the way. Cozumel - Arranged our own excursion through Island Marketing to go on ATV's (4 wheelers). This was awesome - we enjoyed every minute of it. Took a cab to Punta Langosta pier for the meeting point which was Carlos and Charlies. They drove us to El Cedral where we rode the ATV's. Stopped at a couple of points , Mayan ruins and a cave and were returned by cab to International Pier. We got very dirty, which we were warned would happen. It was a bit embarrassing going back to the ship looking like homeless people who hadn't bathed for a month. We had brought old shoes and clothes with so we could just toss them after the excursion. Grand Cayman - It was questionable whether or not we were going to be able to get here. The captain maneuvered behind sister ship Liberty of the Seas to block the wind and this was successful. However, our excursion (which we planned on our own again through Island Marketing) was canceled. We were supposed to jet ski to Stingray City and then stop at Rum Point for an hour to get a drink or hang on the beach. So we were bummed that we missed this. However, we just moved on to plan B. We walked down to Paradise Restaurant / Bar a quick 5 minute walk from the pier and hung out there for a while. We wanted to snorkel at Eden Rock, but that was blocked off also. It was a very windy day. After we left Paradise, we took a cab to 7 mile beach. They dropped us off at Royal Palms. We grabbed a couple of lounger chairs on the beach and hung out and drank Corona's. My son played in the water. It was so windy though, that the waves literally knocked you down if you weren't paying attention. Very pretty beach though. Great atmosphere, good music and decent food. Montego Bay: Took advice from Cruise Critic boards and went to Sunset Beach for the day. It was great. Very relaxing day. My son loved the Pirate water park and we loved the foo foo drinks and food. Also tried the paddle boats and kayaks on the beach. It was an all inclusive day with no worries. $40 for adults and $20 for kids, so $100 total. Very close to the pier too. We've been to Montego Bay before, 10 years ago we were married at the Sandals Royal Caribbean resort. But it really is a place you don't feel safe. I didn't feel that way 10 years ago, but on this stop I definitely did. Adventure Ocean: I wasn't sure if my son would like this or not. Unfortunately, me and my husband both work full time, so at home he is forced to go to an afterschool program every day and in the summer he has to go to summer camp so I thought he may feel like this was similar - something he had no choice but to do. But that was not the case at all. I didn't have to "talk him into it" even once. He was constantly asking when he could go back. So that was nice. It allowed us to have some much needed alone time. They have activities planned that keep the kids interest and the kids love the counselors. He ate dinner with them in Windjammer on formal nights and made a lot of friends. Unfortunately we only attended 1 show in the Aurora Theatre - the Love and Marriage show. Which was hilarious. I would have liked to have gone to more, but I think the late dining prevented us from doing this. We seemed to end up in the casino right after dinner each night for a while and then picked up my son at Adventure Ocean. We missed Quest because my son was sick that night. I think he ingested too much salt water at 7 mile beach or was just exhausted. He slept from 7pm to 7am the next morning and then was fine - thank god. Disembarkment was a breeze. We ate breakfast and then waited near the pool until our color was called. Very little wait time once they called our color. We were in a cab by 10am. Overall, we loved our first cruise and will definitely be taking another and another! I have very few complaints and can't even think of 1 worth mentioning. It was a spring break cruise so it was crowded at times with lots of kids. Maybe a few rude people, which you're going to encounter anywhere you go - but other than that it was awesome! I didn't intend to make my review this long. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2008
This was our first cruise with Royal Caribbean. We had done a cruise on Princess and Carnival in the past. We did enjoy our time on the Radiance of the Seas and will look at booking with RCCL in the future. Our cabin was very spacious and ... Read More
This was our first cruise with Royal Caribbean. We had done a cruise on Princess and Carnival in the past. We did enjoy our time on the Radiance of the Seas and will look at booking with RCCL in the future. Our cabin was very spacious and the stateroom attendant did an excellent job. The "Windjammer"(buffet) was excellent. The food was very good and a good selection. The service on drink refills(coffee) could have been a bit better. The dining in the Cascades dining room was very good also. Our waiter, Gibson, and his assistant, Jacinda, were very friendly and would bring whatever we asked for. We felt the food choices were good. The excursions we went on in Key West, Cozumel, & Grand Cayman were good to excellent. However, our stop in Montego Bay was not so pleasant. We went shopping and actually did not feel very safe. The "local men" were trying to get us to go on "tours" with them and would follow us down the street.We finally gave up and went back to the ship. One thing on excursions I would mention. If you book excursions not through the cruise line but on the internet on your own. Look at the time of the tours. Many of those tours are "local time" and it may differ from the ship time. We had a couple of cases where the local time was 1-2 hours behind the ship time. Your don't want to miss the ship. They will leave you if you aren't back at sailing time. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2008
This is the second cruise my mom and I have taken together. I live in Illinois and she lives in Texas so we meet at the port. We didn't stay at a hotel we arrived the day our ship would leave. Embarkation was not a problem. The ship ... Read More
This is the second cruise my mom and I have taken together. I live in Illinois and she lives in Texas so we meet at the port. We didn't stay at a hotel we arrived the day our ship would leave. Embarkation was not a problem. The ship was fabulous and huge. Our room was in a great location not too close to the elevator but not too far either. My mom has problems with her knees so walking can be an issue. We like to relax and shop, so we didn't pay attention to any of the activities on the ship. We had a wonderful stateroom attendant, Eduardo. I know we embarrassed him slightly with a little incident which I shall not name but my mother is to blame (smile). We did take advantage of one of the spa specials. We had a choice of five services for $79. All of it was spectacular. In Key West we did the Ghosts and Legends tour. I do not believe in it but my mother does so I said, what the hay. Anyway, if you do it make sure you get JoAnne as your guide. She was very good. In Cozumel we did the usual walking around and shopping. In Grand Cayman I highly recommend going to the Twenty store. You can purchase six pairs of fresh water pearl earrings in various colors and styles for only $20.00. Talk about gifts galore! In Montego Bay, we used the $15.00 shuttle to hop on and off all day. Do not go to the market with all the colored shacks unless you are prepared to say 'no' a lot and be very firm. There was a nice souvenir shop and I can't remember the name but they were not pushy at all. If you go to the beach be prepared to pay a fee to get in, buy a chair and an umbrella, if you want. Our stateroom was very nice and the beds were too comfortable. My mom got mad because all I wanted to do was sleep with the balcony door open all day and night. Nothing like having the ocean lull you to sleep. Our dining experience was fantastic. They always seat you with people your own age. Well, I guess they decided to go with the older of us two because the other three couples at the table were my mom's age. However, three of the people were teachers, like me, so we got along great. As a matter of fact, one night was so hilarious we thought they were going to ask us to leave because everyone at our table was laughing so hard that we were in tears. Our waiters, Talat and his assistant Can were terrific. Oh the selections were good and the food was quite tasty. There were 600 children under the age of 16 on the cruise. That is the main issue I had. I really wish rccl would consider some adult only cruises once in a while. I'm pretty positive I am not the only person who feels this way. Disembarkation was atrocious. This is was my third cruise and the other two times we did express check out it wasn't a problem. This one knew where to go. We stood around for almost two hours. Thank heavens the airport is five minutes away. I almost missed my flight. I looked like OJ Simpson in the old Hertz commercials sprinting through the airport with a Southwest agent. Would I recommend this cruise? Yes! Would I do it again? In a heart beat! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: March 2008
We are a family of 5. My wife and I, a daughter 17, son 14, and daughter 4 went on this cruise. All but my son have cruised before, all on RCI. Sailing was 3/15 through 3/23. We visited San Juan, St Thomas, St Martin, Antigua, and Nassau. ... Read More
We are a family of 5. My wife and I, a daughter 17, son 14, and daughter 4 went on this cruise. All but my son have cruised before, all on RCI. Sailing was 3/15 through 3/23. We visited San Juan, St Thomas, St Martin, Antigua, and Nassau. We arrived two days before departure to keep airfare for the cruise reasonable due to spring break. We stayed the Sheraton Yankee Clipper in Fort Lauderdale. She is an older hotel but the room we had was nice and clean and reasonable size and it's on the beach. It's a nice pre or post cruise hotel; I don't know the cost because we used Sheraton points. We virtually walked strait onto the ship because we arrived about 11 am. One bag took quite awhile to get to our room but it was because it had a knife in it we had purchased in Fort Lauderdale to cut limes for gin and tonics. Cabin was in middle of deck 8 with a balcony. It was a great size. My wife and daughters and me stayed in it while my son stayed in a nearby. I had never stayed in a balcony cabin before so I did know about the strong wind through the cabin when both the balcony door and cabin door are open. We learned to close the balcony door after a few near misses of being slammed by the cabin door. Our cabin steward was outstanding making sure our room was clean and we had plenty of ice. His towel animals really pleased my 4 year old and as soon as he found out she loved the chocolates, she always had plenty. WJ food was nice and breakfast in the main dinning room was nice. The one day we had lunch in the main dinning room the waiter was learning and he is going to be a slow learner. Sea view cafe was great for after shore and late night snacks. Be warned if you want to eat there after a shore excursion, get back about 15 minutes early and go strait there other wise there is a wait because all the food is cooked to order. Room service was good and fairly quick. We ate in the main dinning room every night. We ate at second seating. We cannot say enough about our waitress Cheryl from the Philippines and assistant server (whose name I cannot recall also from the Philippines). There was just our table and one other in their section and from what I could tell we all received outstanding service. They immediately took to my 4 year old daughter (after all who wouldn't) and treated her like a princess throughout the cruise. After the first night she had salad and veggies as soon as we set down. She was in a pre growth eating phase the whole trip and it was amazing how much salad and bread she would eat. The head waiter even brought her deserts and he let her lead the line of waiters and waitresses on the last night. This was the most we have ever seen a head waiter. Like many have said the food was good, not great. I do like the fact you can try different items on the cruise without fear of not liking it because you can always get something else. On lobster night our serving staff had already stashed extra lobsters because many on second seating did not get a second lobster tail that wanted one. The entertainment was good we set on the front row and my 4 year old daughter always garnered attention of the performers. Our cruise was during the first week of March Madness and it would have been nice to have more than one game on at a time in the sports bar. The islands were all nice. We did not use any RCI excursions because we have been to these islands before and know our way around. If you are in San Juan on Saturday get the tour at the old fort because the tour guide who gives it on Saturday writes the scripts for the all of the other tour guides. He gives the tour with great passion and insight into the design of the fort and how it appeared to the British attackers. We never saw our 14 year old son so the youth program on this ship must be pretty good. My 4 year old daughter loved the pirate night, super hero day, and the kids program in general. She really liked the late night baby sitting when the charge was $5/hour. My 17 year old was at a little bit of an awkward age, to old for the teen program and to young for the adult program, but she was happy shopping all the time and catching rays by the pools. Disembarkation was easy and to fast. We did sign up for a cruise on the Brilliance of the Seas next January out of Barcelona. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2008
My husband and I (in our 30's) were lucky enough to be on the Radiance for the March 9, 2008 Eastern Caribbean sailing. We had a wonderful time, and are disappointed to be back in the "real world" where we have to pour our ... Read More
My husband and I (in our 30's) were lucky enough to be on the Radiance for the March 9, 2008 Eastern Caribbean sailing. We had a wonderful time, and are disappointed to be back in the "real world" where we have to pour our own wine and make our own bed. Day 1: Embarkation Embarkation was a breeze. We walked right into a large holding room where we were given a group ticket number 3. As soon as our group was called, around 11:30, we were led into a larger area where we met with a cruise agent to get our seapass, etc. We were on the ship within ten minutes. We went to Windjammer to grab a bite to eat and walked around until our room was ready at 1:00. We had booked an inside cabin on the 10th floor and were pleased with the room. It was small, but roomier than we expected. Ray from Costa Rica, our room attendant, was wonderful and made sure all of our needs and requests were met throughout the week. We spent the rest of the afternoon exploring the ship.Dinner was very casual that evening as not everyone had their luggage. We were at table 450 and had a wonderful group of tablemates. We all got along famously and we genuinely enjoyed meeting them for dinner each evening. Our waiter, Arthur from Peru and assistant waiter, Ignat from Romania, were both fun, informative and doted on us like royalty. We were in awe at the fact we never poured wine into our glasses - they always met our needs before we had them! Day 2: Key West We got off the ship and just did some shopping on Duval Street. (There's a Coach Outlet for any ladies that are interested!) We stopped and grabbed a piece of Key Lime Pie on a Stick from the Blonde Giraffe and then went to Captain Tony's Bar. It's mentioned in "The Last Tango in Paris" by Jimmy Buffet and my husband was in awe of the place. It's a block off Duval St. on Greene if you want to stop in and staple something of yours to the wall. (It seems lots of women love to leave their bras!) Day 3: Cozumel We got off the ship and took a taxi to the downtown area. We asked the taxi driver where the best place to eat authentic, local food was and he sent us down to a restaurant named La Chocha near the local market. Breakfast there was delicious and very inexpensive. After that we went to the locals market a block or two away and saw lots of fresh meats, seafood and vegetables being bought and sold and enjoyed being the only non-locals in the area. The people were very friendly and appreciated the fact I speak some Spanish. Later that morning we took a taxi for $10 from downtown to Chakanaab Park as we booked the Royal Dolphin Swim through Dolphin Discovery for 11:00 a.m. This was a big highlight of the trip. The Royal Swim is longer and more involved than the excursion you can book through RCCL and in our opinion, well worth it! After the dolphins, we went back downtown to pick up a few souvenirs I saw earlier in the day and headed back to the ship for a nap. Day 4: Georgetown, Grand Cayman We booked the 2 hour snorkeling and stingray tour through Captain Marvin's. We were lucky enough to be taken out to sea by 91 year old Captain Marvin himself. This was, in my opinion, the best part of the trip. The stingrays are friendly and amazing to interact with and the snorkeling in the warm, crystal clear water was a memory I'll never forget. We did some shopping back near the pier afterwards. If you like jewelry, this is the port for you.Day 5: Montego Bay, Jamaica Here we opted to book the Chukka Canopy Zipline Tour through RCCL. No regrets here! It's a 30-minute drive up into the mountains and the Jamaican guides at the zipline are a riot. They really did a good job of making things fun so no one got scared. On the way back to the port, the driver (Captain K) offered to take us to the shopping areas for an additional $10 round trip. Although there were some guests who opted to do this, we chose to go back to the ship and relax. This excursion was well worth the money spent and I would recommend it to anyone. Others at dinner table chose to go off on their own in Jamaica and were ripped off by the cab drivers and another couple was offered drugs. If you don't book an excursion through RCCL, please understand that it isn't the safest environment and you need to be cautious. Day 6: At Sea We were pretty exhausted from all the excitement so we chose to just take it easy today. We did a little shopping in the ship stores, enjoyed the sun, watched the ice carving, went to the Captains Q&A session and went to Portofino for dinner this evening. (We made our reservation for 7:00 so that we could go chat through dinner with our tablemates as well - we didn't eat though - too stuffed!) Disembarkation We chose to do the express walk off and were off the ship by 10:00 a.m. I think it would've been earlier but I think it was held up by people who exceeded customs allowances and hadn't paid their seapass bill. We stayed at the Courtyard by Marriott on Seabreeze in FLL for one night post-cruise before our flight home. We booked this through and it was a great value for what we paid. Activities On Board We didn't go to any of the nighttime shows because we aren't really into those. We did go to Quest, Love and Marriage Show, the Belly Flop competition and the karaoke competitions and truly enjoyed them all. Generally, we liked to explore the ship and find little quiet corners to watch the stars or have a couple of drinks. The Colony Club was our favorite bar and playing pool on the self-leveling tables was fun. We played some single deck blackjack in the casino, but we're trying to forget about that. Staff The staff was great! So friendly and accommodating - we can't say enough wonderful things about them. It's no surprise they have won the crew of the year several years running. Captain Trym is hilarious and tends to drive the crew crazy with his tendency to ramble during his announcements. I secretly think they enjoy it - I know we did. The Ship She is gorgeous and just the right size - not so large that you get lost, but big enough that you don't feel like you're stepping on other peoples toes. They have kept her in great shape and there was always a crew around doing little paint touchups, washing windows, etc. Food The food on board was very good and there isn't a lack of it. The only improvment I would like to see made would be to have some exotic vegetarian foods added to the dining room menu. Lots of great options if you love meat and seafood, but the pasta and eggplan gets kind of old after a few days. A few extra points: 1. The Quest is just as fun as I had been told. Make sure you don't miss this one! 2. If you choose to go to Portofino, make sure you're very hungry - there's a lot of food and it's all delicious. 3. The dress in the dining room on formal nights was a lot more casual than I had anticipated. I did see jeans, denim skirts and capris 4. The service from everyone we met was top notch and we had no problem tipping more than the "recommended guidelines". 5. There was no problem finding a pool chair when you wanted one, which was one of my initial concerns 6. We loved the Colony Club and spent a lot of time just relaxing at the bar there 7. I thought the food in the Seaview Cafe was extremely underwhelming. I had a turkey and cheese panini and my husband had a reuben. Only ate there once. 8. Watch for flying fish! We could see them while we were eating in the Windjammer. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2008
We were in a two-bedroom Royal Family suite located on the 8th deck,with an aft balcony. Long story made short. Radiance of the Seas now has found a new way to reduce the weight during your cruise...they are now recycling ... Read More
We were in a two-bedroom Royal Family suite located on the 8th deck,with an aft balcony. Long story made short. Radiance of the Seas now has found a new way to reduce the weight during your cruise...they are now recycling "ALL"the ships organic waste by burning it while at sea. The downside of this procedure is the ship's draft which pulls the less than desirable odiferous smells back into the rear of the ship ,as well as leaving a lingering odor on all balconies located on the aft section of the boat. To add to the problems,this same odor drifts into the open air sections of the Windjammer Cafe. We spoke with the ships crew during our cruise and were assured twice that the problem was solved,but it sure never smelled that way. Needless to say our Royal Family Suite felt somewhat less than "Royal". Two other small problems.........ports of call at Nassau,Bahamas Atlantis Casino tours should be avoided,as you only have about 1 hour out of 4 hours to do anything but walk to and from or wait to be shuttled....and...the transportation to the Antigua Canopy Tours,needs to have reliable drivers who will actually come back to pick you up from the zip-line location 40 miles from the boat. On the plus side: Food at the main dining was great,as well as the staff, ship was clean,activities were OK,buffet was weak but presentable,cabins were well kept,and billing was exact. On the sad side, lackluster entertainment four of the eight nights,spa marketing got to be a little aggressive,and port arrivals were a hurry up and wait event,even though all ports were at docks. The biggest let down,was the "elite" concierge service,which for all purposes is non existent. Our two-bedroom suite was only provided with amenities for two people not four,even though our cost was for four. The Royal Caribbean Diamond and Platinum members share all the exclusive rooms that are set aside for suite guests,making it impossible to find room or privacy to enjoy these perks. Everyday we arrived at the concierge bar (deck 10)we were unable to do anything but stand and watch as others enjoyed the space. This didn't help us "GET OUT THERE". This boat also had the tightest casino I've ever seen at sea. Would you believe we still enjoyed the cruise? We did, but our suitemates will probably find some other cruise line that takes a little more time looking after it's guests who expect service, to match cost levels . :>(( Read Less
Sail Date: March 2008
This was our second time on the lovely Radiance of the Seas! Its not to big, not too small. Like everyone says, its a beautiful ship. We had a wonderful time. All the staff and crew are very friendly. We booked a GS. Loved it. Great for ... Read More
This was our second time on the lovely Radiance of the Seas! Its not to big, not too small. Like everyone says, its a beautiful ship. We had a wonderful time. All the staff and crew are very friendly. We booked a GS. Loved it. Great for our family. Only issue was that our kids prefer not to share the pull-out couch. The cabin steward brought us a roll-out cot(very uncomfortable) and folded it up each day. Our cabin steward was fine, but not our favorite ever. Little things seemed amiss. It may sound silly but we all look forward to the towel animals. This 8 night cruise, we had only a total of 3 towel animals the whole time. We also had to keep asking the cabin steward for breakfast room service menus, and large towels. Our GS also had a french-press electric coffee maker. They did clean it after I used it the first day, but coffee or supplies were never re-filled. Suite perks-we got a bottle of Evian water and a nice bowl of fruit upon arrival. A few other nights we did get a small plate of choc strawberries and or canapes in the afternoon. They were good, but they were the same thing you could get from the concierge lounge. There were bottles of the basic toiletries in the bathroom too. They weren't of great quality though. I am happy to bring my own brands. Concierge-Willy is a doll. Very polite and eager to assist. I had already made my own excursion plans, and it was easy enough for me to phone Chops and Portofino's for my reservations so I didn't utilize Willy too much. We did enjoy the open bar every evening though. My husband would get a beer or 2, and I would have some wine. The house wine that Willy has isn't great...but drinkable. Many folks were having mixed drinks too. The last evening, Willy invited everyone to hear him play and sing along with the Rosario Strings. It was lovely and heartwarming. My kids weren't crazy about the children's programming this week. It seems that the daily activities are less structured, and there is more "hang out" time. My kids would have preferred the counselors follow through on the scheduled activities. There were a few things that they had fun with that week. They did a ping-pong tournament, and a scavenger hunt, and "battle of the sexes" group game. Entertainment-We enjoyed all the production shows and entertainers! We love going to the show as a family every eve after dinner. On this cruise I think they were all good. We especially loved the comedians. Also memorable was the olympic gymnast's variety show. He is great! We were also very impressed with a couple of the singers. The lead singer Brad-Wow! We are fans! Food-- main seating in the dining room. We had a small table for the 4 of us. (our preference). Our waiter and assistant waiter were very pleasant and always working hard. We had purchased the GOLD wine package the first night. Overall, the food was fine. Honestly, we were a bit disappointed in the selections and the quality. Some of the appetizers and some of the entrees were very good. The tiger shrimp was excellent. A few of the salads were very good too. Some nights however, there was only one choice on the whole menu that appealed to us. The desserts were probably the most disappointing. Sorry. Only one or 2 items all week were excellent. We did eat at Chops and Portofino's a total of 3 nights, so maybe those were the best menus in DR that we missed? Lobster night was the second formal night. Our lobster tails were pretty good, small, and no drawn butter in little cups. They just dump it on your plate. Also, our waiter never asked all week if we wanted seconds. In fact, on lobster night, he looked shocked when my husband asked for another tail for each of us! (he did happily bring us them though). Chops and Portofino's are a wonderful dining experience. Service is impeccable as well as the food. We were happy to pay the extra charge. Windjammer- Crowded and noisy, a bit chaotic at lunch and breakfast. Sometimes hard to find a table. There always seemed to be a long line at the omelet stations. The lines for the rest of the buffet were always moving. And the coffee we felt was pretty bad.I am happy to report that We always found something surprisingly good to eat. Especially lunchtime. Quite a variety of offerings! Desserts were so-so. Gosh, I really wanted to like those sugar-free cookies. Sadly, I found them inedible. The coconut cookies sure are tasty! My kids always had a soft serve cone. We never ate there for dinner. Solarium Cafe- We did have a crepes for a snack here once. Yummy! Watch for open hours though...seemed limited. SeaView-- didn't eat here either. We kept trying to hit it during times it wasn't open. Lattetudes- Loved the lattes here. We often got afterdinner coffee drinks here. We also got cookies/pastries (better than whats in WJ) with our purchase. Please note that the Staffmember DID indeed turn people away that were asking for cookies without purchasing a coffee. "They are free if you purchase a drink". Fitness Center- I did take one pilates class for $10. I enjoyed it. There were lots of people using the facility and equipment. I am no expert here, but it looks nice! The issue I had here was being over-charged (30$) on my bill for my 10$ class. It took 2 calls to guest services, and one trip down there in person to fix the error. Apparently, you are supposed to sign up and pay for all 3 classes (although no one told me that)!! It was aggravating, but I did get the charge corrected. We did have one problem with a large smelly leak into our room from our ceiling one afternoon. Maintenance came fairly quickly, and the cabin steward did his best to clean it up, and he sent some of our things down to the ship's laundry. Some of our things were ruined,(thankfully not many). It certainly put a damper on our evening. Almost every afternoon, we participated in the "Walk-a Mile"! Fun! We all got a kick out of earning the "shipshape dollars" The activities staff were always smiling and friendly. We also did some various games during the week like shuffle-golf, mini golf and blongo ball! Fun! We also played (and Lost) bingo a few times. Husband and son went on the rock wall several times. We were also regulars on the mini-golfcourse. Embarkation and Debarkation were uneventful. We were in a suite so we had priority boarding, but there weren't any lines early afternoon for the non priority boarders either. Debarkation is never fun. First people allowed off the ship(us included) began at 9:10am. LOVED the luggage valet program! It was 20$per person. This service checked us into our flights, gave us boarding passes, and took our luggage from the corridor all the way to our final destination (with one quick stop to gather it and go through customs). Really enjoyed the CD Kirk. He was funny and a good singer too! Not too cheesy as far as CD's go! I reviewed all the ports and excursions separately on the ports of call boards in case anyone is interested! Happy cruising! Read Less
Sail Date: February 2008
First our background. We are a 40(ish) couple who have cruised three times with Celebrity but this was our first with the kids (our 5 year old daughter and our 6 year old son) and our first with Royal Caribbean. We were also traveling with ... Read More
First our background. We are a 40(ish) couple who have cruised three times with Celebrity but this was our first with the kids (our 5 year old daughter and our 6 year old son) and our first with Royal Caribbean. We were also traveling with my brother in law and his wife and my mother in law and her best friend. The cruise- The February 24 Western Caribbean 6 night sailing. Embarkation- Unlike most of the comments I have read on these boards I did not find the process overly smooth. Maybe we were just lucky with our previous experiences but I can say that we found embarkation considerably easier in Vancouver and Miami. Still, we were at the port at 11:00 and on the ship shortly after noon so I guess we shouldn't complain. The ship- Definitely gets a WOW. Although showing a bit of wear and tear around the edges one cannot deny that it's a beautiful ship, and one that we will for sure sail on again. Lots of glass and lots of views to be enjoyed and overall, a very "user friendly" layout. Our cabin- Category E1, room 8586 at the start of the "hump". We thought the room was terrific…the bed was very comfortable, storage was OK and it had a nice sized balcony. For anyone considering a hump cabin we at no time heard any noise from the Centrum area of the ship. Note to RCI- change the shower curtains to doors! The crew- We are certainly of the mind set that you can have a great ship, great itinerary and great food but an un-happy, un-friendly crew can ruin all of that. That is not the case on this ship. Everyone we came across was great. On the third morning our son unfortunately had coffee spilled on his shoulder causing 2nd degree burns and a visit to the Medical Centre. For the remainder of the cruise, staff everywhere we went showed genuine concern. News seemed to travel fast. The kindness and noticeably happy nature everyone throughout the ship was something we will always appreciate, especially from our room attendant Andri who was beyond nice. The food- The reason we always sailed Celebrity before was because of its reputation for superior food. I can say that we found the food on this ship to be just as good and in many cases, better than our Celebrity cruises. Although we had limited use of the Windjammer for breakfast as a family, I did manage to make it there on two occasions and found things to be what a typical breakfast buffet would be. Not great but not bad either. We did have lunch there a few times and I found the food and selection to be above average and very enjoyable. Again, the crew in the Windjammer, like the rest of the ship, was terrific. Our dining room experiences were all above average. Our waiter Olesky made a point to recommend meals and to steer us away from the potential disasters. We all appreciated this and I do not recall anyone at our table being disappointed. We had one meal in Portofino's and unlike the general consensus on these boards, we were not overly impressed, at least not enough to justify the extra $'s. Yes the service was great and yes the food was OK, we just did not find either to be "that much" better and probably would not go for a specialty restaurant on our next cruise. Finding one positive though would be that you're away from all the hustle and bustle of the main dining room and can eat at a more leisurely pace. The itinerary- Key West, Cozumel, Grand Cayman and Montego Bay. The doctors' orders to keep our son out of the sun and out of water certainly changed the plans so I cannot offer much here. The adults did make it to the Mexican Cuisine excursion in Cozumel and I would highly recommend it. Also, we took our son to Dr. Cave's beach in Montego Bay and found a shady spot. This worked out fine and I would recommend doing this to any family with kids. We found a JUTA cab which took us straight there and made arrangements to be picked up at a certain time and had no problems with this. We did hear back on ship many stories from others of bad experiences, however; I think with sufficient research and caution, Jamaica can be enjoyed. Entertainment- We do attend the shows in the Theatre (not our thing) so I can't comment about those. We do like to spend time in the lounges after dinner and then make our way to the dance club and I can say that the entertainment in the various lounges was great and thoroughly enjoyable. In regards to the disco, on theme nights the dance club was very good but away from themes we found the dj's choices not to our liking at all. We were hoping for a little bit more mainstream but he seemed to settle in on the "house music" style which is great for the younger crowd, not so great for us. I think that explains why the club was basically empty on non-theme nights and pack with us "40ish" types on the nights where more middle of the road was played. Just my observation. Overall- We will most definitely sail Royal Caribbean again and will look for this class of ship. The larger ones with the promenade most likely would not appeal to us; we liked the size and beauty of this ship. Also, I cannot speak enough about the excellent treatment my son received and about the kindness of the staff…it really meant a lot to us. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2008
This was my second cruise (first was on Carnival) and my husband's first. We traveled with another couple, all of us being in our 30's. We didn't take any of our kids. After a long red eye flight into Fort Lauderdale, all we ... Read More
This was my second cruise (first was on Carnival) and my husband's first. We traveled with another couple, all of us being in our 30's. We didn't take any of our kids. After a long red eye flight into Fort Lauderdale, all we wanted to do was get on the ship and relax! First of all, we were greeted at the airport by very friendly staff and it was a very organized trip from the airport to the port. Second, I was so impressed at how quickly and smoothly we got through the line and onto the ship. We were on the 8th floor and I think it was the only floor that the rooms weren't ready yet, but we went on up to the Windjammer and had some lunch and a few drinks. We always thought the Windjammer's food was good. We tried to always sit in the same area because there was a great waiter there and brought us our coke's and coffee so fast. By the time we were done with lunch and walked around to view the ship for a bit, our room was ready and half our luggage was already there! The rest arrived about an hour later. Our room was ok....I loved the space and shelves in the closet. The bed was pretty comfortable and we loved the balcony. The bathroom, however, smelled just like it hadn't been cleaned for weeks (although it looked clean). Urine smell so bad - and our friends' bathroom was smelly too! YUK! Our room attendant was so great! Well above average and we always saw her in the hallway with a smile! We used room service once and it was so great. We ate in the dining room all nights except one for dinner and loved loved loved our waiters!! They were so great! Always friendly and joking and smiling. We always had a good time at dinner. The food was great and we all ate so MUCH!!! We never did eat in the dining room for breakfast, which we wish we would have at least once. We were always too busy and headed to an excursion. We attended a few of the shows - some good and others we could have done without. We liked the pools and the poolside entertainment. Us girl's even talked our husband's into entering the BellyFlop Contest and the Sexy Leg Contest. It was hilarious and a good time for all. We enjoyed the Love and Marriage Show. The comedians were good. Bingo was a rip off!! Miniature Golf was fun and never crowded! The husband's played the casino twice and lost about 50 bucks each time. We booked a excursion in each port (pre-cruise) and loved them all. Key West -- Pub Tour. We had a BLAST!! Maybe a little too much fun, but never did get too out of control and still made it to the first formal night. Loved the area! Cozumel -- Mini Jeep and Snorkel Adventure. This excursion was nice. It was super great weather. Although we would have liked some more "off road" adventure. Once we got to the beach, we went snorkeling, which was very long and a lot of work, but enjoyable. We had time to rinse off and that's all. Then it was back to the mini jeep and a long ride back to the bus. By the time we got back to pier, we had only 10 minutes until we had to be back on board. Thank goodness the shops right there by port had the things that the kids "requested"! Grand Cayman -- Sting Ray's. We all thought this was a great tour. After getting on a very crowded tour bus, we stopped at the Turtle Farm, which was about average (would have been great with the kids). After almost getting left by the bus, we stopped at the rum cake factory. BAD IDEA! Nothing like trying to fit 100 people in a room designed to hold 10 at the most! We took one step inside and walked right back out and waited in the bus. Next was onto HELL. This was my second time here, the rest of my parties first. I think it's a neat little visit. We sent the kids some postcard's (which got to our house 6 days after we got home - it's always the thought that counts Right?) and took some pictures and it was time to go. We then drove a short way and boarded a boat that took us out to the sandbar with the sting ray's. Again, my second time - the others first. We all got in the water and took pictures and fed the sting ray's. The weather was perfect and the sun was shining and wonderful. Once we got back to the pier, again we only had a few minutes to grab some suv's and get back on board. Grand Cayman was very pretty I thought and wish we would have had time to at least walk down the beach and visit a few places. MOBay -- Canopy Tour. Loved It Loved It!!! The guides were so funny and kept us all entertained and laughing. The zip-line's were so great! I'm glad that we booked a tour away from the downtown area, because of what we saw of it, we didn't want to be there. We arrived back to the ship early, got a few suv's again and got right on the ship. We went to the pool and enjoyed the rest of the day and another formal dinner! Our last day on the ship was a little rainy on and off and a lot of movement from the ship which made 2 of the four of us sick. We took the opportunity to actually lay down in our cabin and take a nap, for the first time in 6 days! After that, we felt a lot better and got ready and went to dinner. We then had a few drinks in the lounge and since there was no other entertainment, we attended the Karaoke Finals. It was about average. I never knew so many men in their 40's & 50's liked to karaoke. It was just ok. I was impressed with RCI and would sail with them again in the future. Next time though, it's with the kids and on Carnival's Pride to Mexico in Feb 2009. There was not a lot of kids on Radiance, which was nice because we didn't have ours. I hate when I don't take my kids on vacation and I see a bunch of cuties. It makes me feel guilty and missing my kids so much. =) So it was nice being away and enjoying ourselves without a bunch of kids running around. We had so much fun and hated coming home to laundry and making our own bed. We were pampered and waited on very well!! I loved the staff! Every single one that we came in contact with was GREAT!!! ABOVE AVERAGE!! Just a great cruise all together!! Great Weather!! (we left and came home to 20's)BRrrr!! Read Less
Sail Date: February 2008
A little background... I'm in my thirties, divorced, no children. This is my third cruise, and my second with RCCL. I flew down to Fort Lauderdale from Kennedy Airport via JetBlue two nights before the cruise. (I almost didn't ... Read More
A little background... I'm in my thirties, divorced, no children. This is my third cruise, and my second with RCCL. I flew down to Fort Lauderdale from Kennedy Airport via JetBlue two nights before the cruise. (I almost didn't make my first cruise two years ago, so I wanted to give myself as much of a "time cushion" as possible.) As this was a group cruise of about forty single Christians, a block of rooms had been reserved for us at the Ramada Inn Fort Lauderdale Airport/Cruiseport. I shared my room with two other women, and the room was comfortable, but I never saw housekeeping once - or any sign of them, if you know what I mean. The food at Brewster's Pub, however, was quite good, and we had a refrigerator and microwave in the room as well. All three of us woke up at 3:30 in the morning on embarkation day due to a drunk opening a fire door and setting off the alarm. Even after the alarm was disengaged, we couldn't fall back to sleep. After all, this was the big day! Our group met in the lobby at 10:45 and traveled en masse to Port Everglades. Embarkation was quick, and by noon, we were all onboard the Radiance of the Seas and lunching in the Windjammer. (And the first thing I went for was the honey-stung fried chicken!) My friend "T" and I had opted for a superior oceanview stateroom after two cruises with interior staterooms. We weren't disappointed, either; it was nice to have a room with a view and a way to get some fresh air inside when the room got stuffy. The room also came with a fully stocked mini-fridge, but there is no way I'm paying $1.95 for a bag of M&Ms. At the last minute, we wound up with a third roommate, who slept on the foldout couch. She said that it was quite comfortable, but "T" and I kept forgetting it was there and whacking our shins into it. "T" and I watched sailaway from our balcony, and it's an experience I'll always remember. An aside: I have sleep apnea and use a CPAP. I had been advised by forum members to contact RCCL and request distilled water and a 25-foot extension cord. This was brought to us by our room attendant, Earl, a gentleman from Trinidad. And Earl was not only good at his job, we saw him in the hall every single day; he would inquire as to our health and activities that day, and would let us know if anyone was in our room at the time. KEY WEST: Woke up at 6:30 that morning to the phone ringing - the coffee and tea that I had ordered was on its way. "T" and I enjoyed our morning beverages and quiet conversation as we looked out at Key West, then showered, dressed, and headed out to breakfast. "T" and our other friend from the Ramada went to the Butterfly Farm, and I visited the Ernest Hemingway Home, which I strongly recommend. (If you're allergic to cats, take allergy meds before you go - there are 60+ polydactyl cats on the property!) Then I met our group at Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville for an early lunch before we headed back to the Radiance. COZUMEL, MEXICO: I opted for the Playa Mia beach package available to our group via a private excursion vendor. Had a great time, but got a little burned despite SPF 50+ sunblock. Two asides: The employees are very honest (I'd left my purse in the bathroom, and the attendant had kept it safe for me - not a cent was missing! I tipped her a $20), and the buffet is mediocre at best. GRAND CAYMAN: Again, I opted to use a private excursion vendor for this one, the "Grand Cayman Short and Sweet". This took us past the Governor's House and the oldest house on the island, then we visited Hell (amazing rock formations!) and the Turtle Farm, where we got to hold turtles and take pictures of them. Then we were dropped off at Seven Mile Beach, where we had lunch and took a taxi back to the pier. Back on the ship, I discovered that I had gotten even *more* sunburned. MONTEGO BAY, JAMAICA: Our group leader had warned the women in our group not to go off alone, a warning I heeded. Because the aforementioned excursion vendor didn't offer anything that appealed to me, I opted for the "Essence of Montego Bay Highlights" offered by RCCL. This took us to the White Witch golf course (overlooking Rose Hall), then to the Shoppes at Rose Hall (nothing impressive), then another shopping center, then Aqua Sol Beach club, where we were treated to rum punch or non-alcoholic fruit punch. I didn't opt to swim - I'd gotten burned enough! - but I did go wading in the water and was amazed to see fish swimming around my ankles! Unfortunately, upon our arrival back at the terminal, I slipped getting off the bus and fell. Thankfully, I wasn't hurt, but I'd like to take this opportunity to warn cruisers that the tiles there are VERY slippery! DAY AT SEA: Took the opportunity to sleep late, then have breakfast in the dining room as a change of pace. I wasn't disappointed, either. Then after another meeting of our group, I went to the Solarium for a dip in the pool and a chance to relax with a good book. DEBARKATION: As painless as debarkation can be, but with one snag. In a review of the bill that morning, I found a $25 charge for "Business Services". I went to Guest Relations and spoke to Kelly, who told me that it was a deposit for the extension cord! I ran back to our stateroom, where I found that Earl had saved the day by holding onto the cord for me! Kelly immediately removed the charge and revised the invoice for me. I was not able to get a seat on one of the transfer buses, but cabs were readily available at the port, and I was able to get a ride back to FLL for $12.90 plus tip - less than a transfer would have cost. And with "T" sharing the cab, it was even less. FOOD: The variety varied from excellent to ordinary, but was always good. Somchai (from Thailand) and Wilson (from India) were excellent waiters, and humored me when I asked for alterations in preparation (ex.: no sauce, oil and vinegar dressing on side, etc.) Several nights I chose options marked with their "Vitality" symbol (lower in fat, cholesterol and calories), and enjoyed every bite - especially the sugar-free coconut vanilla cake! In conclusion, I loved every minute of my cruise on the Radiance, and I was sorry to have to leave. I would recommend this ship to anybody and everybody! Read Less
Sail Date: February 2008
My partner and I sailed on Radiance of the Seas 6 night Western Caribbean February 24 - March 1, 2008. This was our 7th cruise together and my 11th cruise overall. I have sailed on Carnival and Princess (though probably would do neither ... Read More
My partner and I sailed on Radiance of the Seas 6 night Western Caribbean February 24 - March 1, 2008. This was our 7th cruise together and my 11th cruise overall. I have sailed on Carnival and Princess (though probably would do neither again), HAL Oosterdam, Zuiderdam, and Westerdam and sailed on Jewel of the Seas 8 night Eastern Caribbean December 1, 2007. I am 40 and he is 52. I want to give my overall impressions, plus a few comparisons to Jewel of the Seas and Holland America. We live just outside Ft. Lauderdale, so cruising from our home port is very special to us. We love just having a friend drop us off at the port and start our vacation immediately instead of recovering from the airport, time changes, etc.. We have been trying to do 2 cruises from home per year, but that's getting more difficult with increasing cost of living plus the trend towards HUGE ships which we do not like one bit! Last year, we had a real clunker of a cruise on Star Princess that was really bad. We made up for it with Jewel of the Seas in December 2007 and had a very satisfying vacation. Our favorite cruises before this cruise was a tie between great Eastern Caribbean cruises on HAL Zuideram Memorial Day week 2005 and Radiance of the Seas Martin Luther King week January 2006. After this new trip on Radiance of the Seas, we have a three-way tie. When we sailed Radiance in 2006, it was only 1 week before she was going into dry-dock. She had scuff marks here and there, but certainly nothing to complain about. This time she is going into dry-dock in just a few weeks, but she almost looks brand new. We were amazed at how beautiful her exterior still looks; so pristinely white with all that beautiful green glass. Didn't see a spot of rust anywhere. Once aboard, only the cabin furniture (desk, closets) are really showing their age. The thing we loved so much about our prior voyage on this ship was that we felt so incredibly welcomed by the staff in every department. It was evident that the crew were very proud of their ship and we felt like we had been invited to their home. Much to our delight, the ship still has that same incredible feeling (It was slightly lacking on Jewel of the Seas). We were so happy that one of the first people who greeted us was our Assistant Server from our 2006 cruise. She recognized us and we chatted with her for a good while. She is now a Server in Portofino's. Her name is Karen and I highly recommend you ask to be seated with her if you dine in Portofino's as she is utterly delightful. Embarkation was a breeze. We were on the ship before noon and headed up to the Windjammer Cafe for a delicious lunch. The Windjammer Manager, Chantal, and the chefs for this area do a spectacular job. Every thing I had for lunch was yummy! I was particularly impressed with how well this ship does fish, chicken, carving station items and desserts. On Jewel of the Seas, the fish was always dried out and inedible and the chicken was just okay. The fish on Radiance was perfectly cooked, hot, moist, flaky and flavorful. I try to eat lots of fish on a cruise to counteract all the sweets I can't find a way to say no to (especially if they are really good). I'm always impressed with what a nice salad bar this ship has and what a good job they do providing fresh, flavorful vegetable selections. The ship uses a lot of dark meat chicken which is usually not my favorite, but the preparation and freshness on Radiance make such a difference. I did not have a piece of chicken or fish all week that was not yummy! I also really enjoyed the vegetarian Indian selections. I couldn't tell you what they were called because I could not pronounce any of them, but they were delicious. I was thrilled that they had my favorite coconut cookies for my first lunch. On Jewel, they had them but they were overcooked and dry. On Radiance they were moist and delicious, and unfortunately for my waistline, they had them every day! We met Chantal on the first day. She is from South Africa. What a lovely soul. She greeted us with such warmth. We were so impressed with how adept she was at overseeing the entire operation while being so personable with the guests. What a great first impression. We knew immediately that we made such a great choice booking Radiance again. After lunch, we went to check out our dining room table and to make reservations for Portofino's and Chops Grille. We were at a table for 10 on the upper level. I don't like these big tables, but it had a very nice view of the waterfall behind the piano. Karen from Portofino's who first greeted us asked our table number and assured us we had a good service team of Trilok from India and Alvin from the Philippines. We think formal nights are more for the ladies and the men just go along with it to make the ladies happy. No harm in that, but since we had no ladies with us we opted to not pack a jacket or tie on this cruise. We really wanted to feel like this was a vacation from everything, including work clothes. We dressed nicely, but booked our Specialty restaurants for the two formal nights. We really enjoyed our servers in the dining room, but we only ended up eating there three nights. We ate in Portofino's for the first formal night and Chops for the second. Formal nights were nights 2 and 5 (Key West and Jamaica). Night three is the menu we really do not like at all, so opted to go for a pre-dinner swim in the Solarium pool and dine casual in the Windjammer. Again, the Windjammer really excelled. On Jewel of the Seas, there was very little difference between the dining room menu and the Windjammer menu for dinner. Not so on Radiance. They had some of the options the dining room had, but a much greater variety. I had delicious BBQ chicken, one of those yummy Indian vegetarian dishes, fresh veggies and a good salad. Partner really enjoyed the curried lamb. As we became accustomed to, we were warmly greeted by the Windjammer manager Chantal with her beautiful smile. On the nights we did go to the dining room, food and service was very good. Entrees were almost as good as on Holland America and the service was friendly. Our assistant waiter Alvin took really good care of us and my water glass was never empty. I love how Royal Caribbean serves the bread. It gives you a chance to chat with your assistant waiter as he/she brings the bread basket around. Despite Holland America's delicious food, they just plop a basket of bread down on the table. Standout items were the chicken stuffed with proscuitto and cheese, the vidalia onion tart, salmon with a tomato sauce and a delicious crunchy banana nut parfait for dessert. This was our favorite dining room dessert from two years ago, so we ordered it again and told our tablemates how much we enjoyed it. They ordered it too and were very impressed. It's more of a pie than a parfait and it has an ice cream center. The only item I did not like was Thai lemongrass soup which just salty beef broth with a bit of lemongrass and strange dumplings. I sent that back and had a crab cake instead. The crab cakes don't have much crab, but if you know that in advance they are tasty and well presented. If this ship has one weakness in the food department it is the soups. That was not the case 2 years ago or on Jewel in December 2007. On the second night, we had a lovely dinner in Portofino's. They are changing their menu and upping their price to $25 in April. They did not seem to have many guests all week. What a shame because we had a lovely dinner with exceptional service. I'm still missing the warm goat cheese souffle that they took off the menu, but I did fine without it. I had the Tuscan bean soup. Again, this was disappointing compared to when I had it before. It was a bit too thin and did not have the full robust flavor that it had on Jewel. 2nd course was thin eggplant roulade stuffed with ricotta and spinach in tomato sauce. 3rd was Mesculan greens with pears, candied walnuts and gorgonzola cheese. Main entree was the marinated Filet Mignon. I personally think this filet is better than the one in Chops. I love the flourless chocolate cake for dessert, but it keeps me awake so I had that to go to eat the next day and our server brought us the dessert sampler that has small portion of flourless chocolate cake, white chocolate brulee, tiramisu and panecotta. I really like them all except the last one. 2nd formal night we went to Chops Grille. Our server Ganesh from India has been with Radiance for 7 years and service was exceptional. My partner had the French onion soup and again the soup was disappointing. On Jewel and our prior Radiance trip it was full of onions and had lots of perfectly melted cheese. This version was more beef broth with some onions, very little bread and cheese on top. I had Dungeness crab and shrimp cake. Just a good squeeze of lemon over the top and this was fabulous. We both had the Chops Grille salad which has greens, asparagus, tomato wedges and cherry tomatoes and bacon. Salad was very good and tomatoes were ripe and flavorful. On Jewel we had "forced" tomatoes that were anemic and nearly ruined the salad. I had the T-bone and partner had the Filet. Both were outstanding and came out with the plates still sizzling. We had football sized baked potatoes and corn with snow peas for sides. Both the Chocolate coffee brulee (really a dense cheesecake) and the Croissant bread pudding with ice cream were terrific! Enough about the food. Ports: Key West- we had lovely weather. Partner did the historic homes tour (don't book this through the ship as there is no need to pay the extra money). I slept in, found a deck chair on Deck 12 in the shade facing the ocean and started a good book. Cozumel-again we had nice weather with partly cloudy skies and not too hot. We were happy to arrive at International Pier because it was closer to beaches. Based on advise from the message boards, we went to Nacci Coccum beach because we didn't want to deal with crowds and we wanted shade. We paid $20/person for consumption to use their beach and facilities. We had 2 chairs with pads and a palapa umbrella. Very clean beach. Sand not as soft as I had hoped, but acceptable. Beautiful pool and hot tub both with swim up bar and extremely clean restrooms. We had lots of food, sodas and bottles of water and I had one beer and we didn't come close to hitting the $40 we paid. We had delicious nachos with very fresh pico de gallo and chicken tacos. It was so nice to be served on the beach. If you are more of a drinker, you can buy an all-inclusive for $50 and eat and drink till your heart's content. Neither the $20 or the all-inclusive include gratuity, but not a big problem. Service was very nice. Maybe 30 - 40 people there tops, and that's with 4 ships in port. $15 cab ride. We shared a cab back which got it down to $10 for the two of us. Grand Cayman- Weather was beautiful, but hot. We were packed in with lots of ships and we arrived last. We decided to wait until the tendering process using the number system was completed. We had a great lunch in Windjammer at noon, then went ashore about 1:00 p.m. We caught the tender immediately for a smooth ride over. We talked two blocks into town to the library and caught a public bus for $2.50 each to go to Sea Grape Beach. What a glorious beach this is! The soft sand and the warm water were heavenly! There are chair and umbrella rentals, but their is shade under public pavilions which we used so we only spent $10 for the day. We got back to the pier after the herd, so traffic wasn't bad. We had no trouble getting a tender back. The poor folks for the Norwegian ships were standing in a LONG line in the HOT sun. A great day! Montego Bay- We booked an excursion called "A Mystic Adventure" which was just lovely and somewhat strenuous. We had an excellent driver and guide. We drove a little over an hour up into the country with the driver stopping so we could smell/taste plants and herbs of the island. Once at Mayfield Falls, we put on water shoes, stripped to our swim trunks and went across a bamboo bridge and went climbing up the river. Lots of natural pools and waterfalls. Our guides were very helpful showing us the easiest path and giving us a hand for big steps. It was just lovely! They took lots of pictures and sold us a photo CD for $25. One of the best excursions we've ever been on. The people we talked to who went ashore on their own did not like the island at all due to pushy people. Our sea day was overcast and sprinkled rain off and on, but not a complete washout. We spent the morning in the Solarium enjoy the comfy padded chairs and having a nice swim. A lazy day for us. We just really relaxed that day. Entertainment- Cruise director Kirk was just average. He is too much of a chatty cathy for us, but we don't choose a ship based on a cruise director. Have to say that Bobby on Jewel was much better. We really enjoyed the Royal Caribbean Singers and Dancers and the nine piece orchestra. Both shows, City of Dreams and Piano Man were excellent. We also really enjoyed the Rosario Strings and pianist David Curtis in the Schooner bar each night. One night Celebrity showtime was Mickey Dolenz of "The Monkees". He's not holding up too well in my opinion, but several people enjoyed this show. His sister sang with him and her voice was painful. She sang "My heart will go on" from Titanic and I had to cover my ears. The best Celebrity showtime was "David Morgan and Chucky". He points out he is not a ventriloquist. He just brings this silly duck puppet to life and it was a hysterical show. He really made you believe this silly puppet was alive. We had a treat on the last night which most passengers missed. At 11:30 the singers did a jazz concert with the orchestra in The Colony Club and it was great! Most people had already hit the sack though because we had to get up early the next morning. Disembarkation - We did Express Walk-off with our own luggage (yet another advantage to not packing a suit) and it was very smooth. We are missing her already and having Post Cruise Withdrawal Syndrome (PCWS). What a great ship with an outstanding crew! We hate that she will not be back to Fort Lauderdale and is being replaced by the huge new Independence of the Seas. We really have no interest in sailing on a ship that large. We just hate the idea of a Royal Promenade. What we love so much about Radiance is that she is so outwardly focused. You are never more than a few steps away from looking at the sea. After a canal transit, a Hawaii cruise and her Alaska season, she will be re-positioned to South America to go between Rio and Valparaiso. All these trips are far more than we can afford. Our next cruise so far is on Holland America Westerdam Southern Caribbean in January 2009. Holland America is very satisfying for cabin comfort, wonderful beds, delicious food, gracious service, but they get poor marks in the entertainment department. We've had a fabulous guest entertainer (A singer who tours with Yanni named Alfreda Gerald) on two of our Holland America cruises, but otherwise the ships just go to bed after dinner. Production shows are very poor compared to the high quality ones on Royal Caribbean. We will miss Radiance of the Seas and hope this trend towards HUGE ships based in Fort Lauderdale will eventually wane so she will return. I HIGHLY recommend this ship beautiful ship! Tim in Pompano Beach Read Less
Sail Date: February 2008
My husband and I booked a 6 night Western Caribbean cruise directly with Royal Caribbean. After last's years lost luggage, we went a day ahead this time. I highly recommend doing this- less stressful and no rush to the ship. We stayed ... Read More
My husband and I booked a 6 night Western Caribbean cruise directly with Royal Caribbean. After last's years lost luggage, we went a day ahead this time. I highly recommend doing this- less stressful and no rush to the ship. We stayed at the Embassy Suites in Ft. Lauderdale, very close to the airport and the port. This hotel however does not offer shuttle service from neither the airport nor Port Everglades. The taxi was about $12.00 from the airport to the hotel and the hotel van to the port was $12.00. The hotel is very nice, full breakfast each morning, all suites, and had a great pool area. We arrived at the port and breezed through the embarkation process- on board by 12:30. Our luggage arrived in the room about 5:30 which made it tough to unpack before dinner. We had the early seating at 6:00 and found that was a bit too early. However, we had great tablemates- from Vancouver, Montreal, Toronto and North Carolina. The food was very similar to the menu on our Alaskan cruise on the sister ship of the Radiance, the Serenade. Our waiter was good, not great. The bar service was a bit slow. We had dinner in the main dining room every night but one- we enjoyed the Portofino's for dinner one night. It is well worth the extra $- superb service and excellent food. Our cabin was adequate- the furniture is looking a little worn, as are the draperies. This ship really needs some maintenance in some areas- many of the railings are worn and there is peeling paint on the deck railings but overall was ok. Our balcony was great for sunsets and sunrises. We did not sign up for any ship-sponsored excursions, as my husband was not sure if he would be able to do much. Rather than book ahead, we waited to see what was available. In Key West, we wandered around town, took the Conch Train Tour (cheaper if you do it on your own) and had a piece of frozen key lime pie on a stick- covered with chocolate! Do not miss this gustatory delight! The ship docked right in town and was convenient to everything. Only complaint- not enough time here. Our second port was Cozumel, where we found a great little tour- Island Tours- with a very good driver. He took the 8 of us to El Cedro, the very old little town with a lot of history. We also were driven around the far side of the island to see the ocean views- spectacular. We even had time to shop before heading back to the ship. The next port was Grand Cayman but my better half needed a day off so we enjoyed the nearly empty ship while everyone was in port. The final stop was Montego Bay, Jamaica. While Jamaica is beautiful it is also very poor and you are constantly hassled. The ship's shopping guru said that City Centre would be the best place to go and not be accosted by overeager merchants. We found that not to be very accurate- a lot of "come in my shop, mon" going on. Our dinner table friends reported their taxi drivers offered them marijuana. We went on a Hot Spot Shuttle so were not offered any substances. In fact the driver informed us he and other drivers are all armed and not to worry! We did buy some coffee and a very cool Bob Marley t-shirt. Too soon the cruise was over. I applaud the "adult-only" solarium pool- love kids but also love not hearing them screeching in the pool! In leaving the ship, there was some sort of delay- docked at 7:00 but departures did not start until nearly 8:30. No rush for us- spent another 2 days in Ft. Lauderdale before heading back to the frozen north. In Ft. Lauderdale, check out Las Olas Boulevard and take one of the Intercostal boat tours. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2008
Third time on Radiance First time for my son (22yrs old) 14th Cruise for me Stayed at the Marriott Biscayne Bay. Wonderful Hotel with great room service, right on the beach, clean rooms, 5 minutes from the port. The Radiance is my ... Read More
Third time on Radiance First time for my son (22yrs old) 14th Cruise for me Stayed at the Marriott Biscayne Bay. Wonderful Hotel with great room service, right on the beach, clean rooms, 5 minutes from the port. The Radiance is my favorite class of ship and this was my third trip on the Radiance, first cruise for my son. The ship is just the right mix of things to do and easy to get around. Loved all the activities on the ship. From the captain doing the cake to the entertainment on the ship it was all wonderful. Bingo has changed and the price is lower which is great for those (like me) who like to play bingo on the cruise but don't win often! Shore excursions: The best- ATV in Cozumel was fantastic. Well worth the money and my son still has not stopped talking about how fun that was. The worst - Beaches resort in Jamaica. Not worth the money and they did not even have beach floats at no charge. Had to walk down to the next resort to rent one. Cabin-8590 is on the hump, but the smallest balcony I have every had. I had a large balcony but switch to mid ship 2 weeks before the cruise in case my son had sea sickness which he did not. Steer away from this cabin unless you are not looking for any room on the balcony Dining room - all in all the dining room food has gone downhill but the service is still wonderful Portofino's and Chops- Well worth the money Windjammer-Friendly staff and great if you skip the dining room for dinner. Radiance is the best in this area. Getting on and off the ship: Seamless process, on the ship in 10 minutes (arrived at noon), off the ship by 9:00 and at the airport in plenty of time for noon flight. Radiance is top notch Read Less
Sail Date: January 2008
My wife and I celebrated our 25th anniversary on this cruise. We have not taken a cruise before, but have many friends who have. This cruise line and ship were highly recommended by our travel agent. We flew into Ft. Lauderdale the night ... Read More
My wife and I celebrated our 25th anniversary on this cruise. We have not taken a cruise before, but have many friends who have. This cruise line and ship were highly recommended by our travel agent. We flew into Ft. Lauderdale the night before the cruise left and stayed at the Ramada Airport. Our experience here was not good and unfortunately we had a very restless night. I would not recommend this Hotel. Embarkation was a snap. We arrived at the port at 11:00 am and were on the ship by 11:50 am. We had lunch in the Windjammer and were in our stateroom by 1:10 pm. Our luggage arrived at 1:20 pm. We had a balcony stateroom which we found to be very nice. We read alot of reviews with people complaining of how small everything is, but both my wife and I found everything to be fine. There were lots of drawers to put our clothing and plenty of space for items needing to be on hangers. My wife is somewhat claustrophobic, so having the balcony was a real plus. We thoroughly enjoyed the balcony, especially in the early mornings and late evenings. Our stateroom attended, named Eduardo was excellent! Very attentive and fun. The room was nicely appointed and the bed was fabulous too! Sure the room was small, but on what ship is this not the case? We ate at the Windjammer for both breakfast and lunch every day. The food was good and the service great. I especially enjoyed my omelet every morning made to order by Edgar. We never had a problem finding a seat or never had to wait in line for the food. The other thing we enjoyed was not being rushed to finish our meal....very relaxing environment. All our dinners were in Cascades dinning room. We had heard that the food was so-so, but we found it to be very good. We enjoyed the different entries every night and the fact that you could choose from the alternative list every night if you wanted. The service was superb, and our waiter, Jeffery and assistant Effrio were the best! Thanks for letting me have two entries every night! We were going to book a meal at Chops one night, but decided against spending the extra $40 because the food was so good in the dinning room. We had fun with our table guests....Crissy and Brandon. Thanks for making our dinner times so much fun! We did not book any excursions as we wanted to walk around the port towns we stopped at. We had a great time experiencing the local culture and then off to a local beach each stop. The ports were all great, and we liked that our Captain was always the first into each port. No line ups getting off or getting back on plus we were the first to the shops before the other ships had landed! The entertainment each night was okay. Some of it was good and some we chose to leave early as it was not our cup of tea. We really enjoyed the tribute to Motown and the Newlywed game. The "Quest" night was a blast! Debarkation was relatively smooth. We just went up to the Windjammer had breakfast and hung out there until our tag was called. Once we were called, we were off the ship in a matter of minutes. The longest part of the process was waiting for the bus to take us to the airport. All in all, we had a fabulous time and would highly recommend the Radiance as a ship to take a cruise on. The only complaint we have is the smoking! I do not understand why in this day and age you would allow smoking in any public area let alone on two decks on the Port side of the ship? We were glad our room was on the Starboard side. Why not make a designated area at the Aft of the ship where the wind would blow the smoke away from the ship. We hope Royal Caribbean will take a look at this problem and have it rectified by the time our next cruise happens. Overall, our experience with Royal Caribbean could not have been better. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2008
Well, we patiently waited for our cruise by doing tons of research online. I used a lot of tips and secrets from CC, so thank you all! We flew American Airlines from Newark, NJ (13 degrees outside!) to Miami, Florida. We were leaving from ... Read More
Well, we patiently waited for our cruise by doing tons of research online. I used a lot of tips and secrets from CC, so thank you all! We flew American Airlines from Newark, NJ (13 degrees outside!) to Miami, Florida. We were leaving from Ft. Lauderdale, but the price from Newark to Miami was $90 cheaper. I booked and paid in full for the flights, hotel, cruise, excursions and wines (bought from the Wine Cellar online at RCCL so I could have my champagne waiting for us in the room when we got there, and a red and white for dinner) in July because we had planned a cruise before and due to unforeseen circumstances, had to cancel it. In July we had won $7,000 in the lottery, so decided if we just paid for everything ahead of time, we wouldn't have to come up with the money later, and wouldn't have to cancel another cruise. Also, the other perk was that I avoided the fuel surcharge and we didn't feel a huge hit to our pockets since the only thing we got a bill for after the cruise was whatever we purchased while on it. Anyway, we used to live in Miami Beach for a year and wanted to go to see some of our old favorite places. My boyfriend is an accomplished chef, and was the Sous Chef at La Goulue in Miami Beach. If you ever get a chance, you have to go there. Its at the Bal Harbour shops and is definitely worth a visit! So, thats why, combined with the great price of $160 rt for each, we flew into Miami. We left for our flight at 4am and got to the airport by 4:30. We had a really quick line at self check-in (printed our boarding passes the day before) and we on our way to the security line. We got through that okay and found some coffee. At 5:00 all that was open was Seattle's Best, but that was okay by us. We waited for 1/2 an hour and boarded. The flight was uneventful, but I should now mention my motion sickness. I took Bonine the evening before the flight, then every night till we got home again. So I pretty much slept the whole flight. I've flown between Jersey and Miami pretty often while I lived there, so I was pretty used to this airport. We got off the plane at 9 am and headed towards baggage to claim our things. To my surprise, we had to board a train for the baggage claim. Luckily, the ground transportation and rental car shuttles are located right outside of the baggage claim. We found our bags (after half an hour, standard for Miami)and headed outside. I asked an airport transportation employee where I wait for the Budget Rental Car shuttle and he gestured and mumbled. I walked back to my boyfriend to tell him I still wasn't sure, so he asked the same man and was nastily told "I told her, over there in the middle". incidentally, this is the reason we left Miami in the first place - really terrible customer service everywhere. We waited in the center lane on the median, for the Budget shuttle. Sure enough, 5 minutes later, we saw it coming. Please remember to flag down the actual shuttle you need, as they won't just stop for people waiting. We flagged him down and were met with a very gracious man that brought our bags onboard and picked up a few more folks. We reached the Budget Car Rental office about 10 minutes after getting on. I tipped him $7 for our two bags and we entered the office. Its very large, and a bit confusing. My boyfriend went on line to wait, since the car was in his name. I got the car for one day. Picking it up at 9:30 am and dropping it off in Fort Lauderdale at 5 pm. It was only $38.95, much cheaper than a taxi and it also gave us the freedom to go to South Beach to visit our old haunts. It took about 10 minutes at the office to get our car. The person at the counter was rude, but par for the course in Miami, really. We got to our space and the car was super nice (I don't remember what kind!). We drove right over to South Beach and parked in one of the pay lots. We walked down to Lincoln Road and got some breakfast at Van Dyke's. Then we just walked around and reminisced, going over to the ocean as well. After a while, we decided to head over to my boyfriends old restaurant for lunch. It was great to see everyone again and we had a wonderful lunch. We then drove from Miami Beach to Fort Lauderdale. It took us about 35 minutes to come to our hotel. We stayed at the Extended Stay America Fort Lauderdale Convention Center on the 17th Street Causeway. It was the closest hotel I could afford. I booked it on Orbitz since it had the cheapest rate. I paid $170.58 through them and brought documentation of all of my purchases just in case. The gentleman at the desk seemed to want to charge my cc but I showed him the paid itinerary and he finally stopped. The room was fine. We got there around 4:45 and the Budget rental office is literally across the street. We went to return the car but the woman said she was closing so we wouldn't have a receipt but could give her the keys and drop it off. We did that and crossed our fingers that she was honest! Back at the hotel, I called the local taxi company and reserved a car for 10:30 am. to bring us to the Port. Then we showered and watched some t.v. At 6pm, we passed out but thankfully, I had set the alarm for 9:30 am. We ran across the street and got two bagels and two coffees and got ready to go. Well, we waited outside at the car port. And waited...and waited. At 10:40 I called the taxi and he mumbled that someone was on their way. After waiting, my bf went to the street to flag down a cab. I walked over to a shuttle bus that was filling and asked how much. He took us for $8 a person. I think it may have been Sunshine, can't remember now. Great people, nice driver. We got to the port and saw our ship. What?? It was so big, we couldn't see the end! Wow. We got our bags, paid the driver and went inside. We walked through an xray, showed our passports and got into a line to get our paperwork. We breezed though that and were told to go ahead up the stairs. From here we walked through a scan, got our set sail passes and that was it. We walked onto the ship from there. It was only 30 minutes at the most from when we stepped off the shuttle to when we were on the ship. Amazing. We went directly to Chops and made a reservation or wednesday night. Then we went over to the dining room to check our room assignment. We requested late seating with just the two of us. We were at a table for 10! So we asked for something smaller, like 6. They accommodated and the table looked great. We couldn't get into our rooms yet, so we walked around, went up to the SeaView cafe and got some food, then saw the huge buffet at Windjammer. It was such a great selection and the food was really good. We went through every room on every deck we could find and just looked at everything. It finally sunk in that we were on our cruise! The ship is beautiful and in great shape for sure. The artwork is beautiful and the theme is really calming and classy. The elevators are so cool, they face out into the ocean and its a really neat feeling to look out while you ride. After we ate, we were finally able to find our room. Wow. Double wow. We were shocked. We were expecting something so small due to reviews and were amazed at how big the room was. We had a balcony on the hump, with the second largest balcony. It was outstanding. The room was very pretty, plenty of closet space and hangers. The bathroom was bigger than our first apartment together in Brooklyn! The water pressure was really good and the water was always nice and hot. The safe worked fine and the suitcases easily stored under the bed. I had my bags by 6pm. We were really happy with the room and our champagne was there on ice waiting for us. We didn't do the sail away party - decided to have our own! We then got ready for dinner and headed out. Here, I have to interject that the hump cabin on deck 8, 8588, was perfect. It was quiet and right behind the wall for the elevators. So easy! I must say, as well, that everyone told us that we didn't need a balcony - that we would never be in our room. We were there ALL the time! We loved to go to our room with a drink, relax, sit on the balcony and talk. It was wonderful. One night, we stayed in, ordered pizza and watched movies. We just enjoyed each others company in our cabin and really took advantage of our balcony! So awesome! At dinner we met our tablemates. They were all really nice and the 6 of us got along just fine. We were the only ones that had ordered any wine ahead of time - we always offered a glass but everyone declined. Our waiter and assistant waiter were wonderful! So relaxed and great. Our headwaiter came by every night to tell us the weather for tomorrow and the port. I found them all to be delightful. We had done the pre cruise gratuity, and I felt they all earned their tips. We went to bed early that night, listening to the water right off of our balcony. At night, every night, we filled out the breakfast in the cabin cards and hung them on our door to be collected. We always asked for a carafe of coffee, and a fruit plate. Then we would take turns upon waking and go to the Windjammer and load up a plate of breakfast from the buffet and grab a juice, then just go back down the elevator to our room. There, we would go out to the balcony, bringing our little coffee table from inside, and eat our breakfast and have coffee looking out over the ocean, or a port. It was magical. 8588 has a really large balcony, kind of like an obtuse triangle. Very spacious. We didn't go to any shows, besides the comedian. Everyone enjoyed them, from what we heard, though. We had dinner in the main dining room most every night, we ate lunch in the Windjammer for lunch each day. The Windjammer is great, plenty of choices, plenty of food. There are drink self serve stations in three different areas in the Windjammer, just keep walking around in a circle and you'll find them. For activities, we like to be active. We did mini golf, played a lot of ping pong, and went to the arcade a few times. My bf took part of every dodge ball competition, and we did the volleyball competition together. We did the rockclimbing and it was sooo cool being so high over the water! Everyone was rooting and cheering for me because I was a big baby, but I made it. We went to the movies one night to watch Blades of Glory, one of our favorites. We did the casino a lot, but ended up only donating about $100. We did Quest - lets just say that the pictures will stay locked up for now!! We also went to the newly wed game and that was really fun. My bf was in the Sexiest legs contest but didn't win... We did go to one bingo, but it was so hard not to get disappointed for not winning! I went to the captains cake decorating class by myself and that was so fun. Two things we thought were a bit of a negative. We were never able to go to the champagne lounge, because it was never open after 12:00. Also, one night it was 1 am, and we went looking around to do something or get a drink and none of the bars or lounges on deck 5 were open at all. We had to go to the casino for a drink. That seemed really unusual to us - not the fun atmosphere we expected, I suppose. Also, we were never able to use the adult solarium hot tub because at night they were always draining it or 'cleaning' it, even though when we came in they were sitting on lounge chairs talking. The two on the pool deck were never warm. It was actually lukewarm. Yuck. I called the guest relations about it and he actually said there was urine in there. I said "every night?". No answer, really. But all in all they were super lovely. Ports of Call: Key West: We had been to Key West before and didn't really care for it. Maybe because we already lived in Miami Beach at the time, but except for the main area near the port, the rest is not very attractive at all. So here we decided to do a ship excursion. We had prepaid for the Para sailing excursion with Fury. It was so awesome! Really fun. We went out with two other couples. Our captain and the helpers were really nice and funny. I will say, thank god I took an extra dose of Bonine, the water was really, really choppy. Now, I can't swim, so I made sure to check a million times if this was safe for a non swimmer. I was assured many times that it was. They suit you up and you go to the back edge of the boat. You hold onto a bar, then you just kind of 'go' backwards, till they dunk you in the ocean a little and then you are just up in the air and the Radiance looks like a toy boat in the bath. It was really cool. I had a Fuji underwater disposable camera with me that took great pics. Now they also had a really nice camera on board that took lots of digital pictures of you, then you can buy the disc for $20. It was so worth it. The pictures were amazing and the price was great for what you get. Cozumel, Mexico: Oh wow. This was our favorite port of call. The people couldn't have been nicer. We got off the ship and the first thing we noticed was how clear the water is. We did, however have a hard time finding the taxis. Just keep walking towards the indoor flea market place and you will see a cool old tree with an underwater area - behind that is the taxi stands. The line was super, super long, but it went pretty quick. Here, we were just going to Chakanaab Park. I wanted to relax on the beach and maybe snorkel. This was going to be a little expensive with everything I was getting, though. So I told the taxi stand man where we were going. He said, do you want to just snorkel, because its rocky there, but good for snorkeling. I said what do you like? He recommended Paradise Beach. Well, let me tell you, we went with his advice and are so glad we did. We paid $20 to get all the water sports and man! What fun! My bf was on the floating iceberg forever. Plus the trampoline. We went snorkeling, relaxed in some chairs (plenty of people around to watch your things) climbed the trees in a race that I lost, got some cold Sol's and Mojito's and just walked the beach. We were going to kayak too, but couldn't' believe the time went by so fast! We could have spent all day there, really. Then we took a taxi back to the port and bought some souvenirs and got on the ship before the huge lines! Grand Cayman: We decided the night before to do an excursion here with the ship. We chose to swim with the Sting Rays. When the whole group for that excursion got off the ship, we couldn't really locate our excursion. Everyone else was holding signs. We found a guy with a sign similar to our excursion, but first he tried to charge us. Then we showed him our tickets and he seemed confused and got a woman to help him. Everyone else was leaving for their excursion and we still sat there. Finally, they got us on a van to go to the boat. The snorkel boat was great, the captain was nice and he let a bunch of us sit on the bow and roof. Unfortunately, it was a bit cloudy, so as I got pelted with salt water, I was freezing! Good for me, though, when we all got to the sandbar and time to get in the water. Everyone else was cold, the water seemed like a nice warm bath to me! I can't describe how awesome it was to have the stingrays (they are so big and have stingers) swim by you and touch you. They seemed to be enjoying us as much as we were them. We got pics done by the crew, but they were trying to charge $50 for about 6 photos. Do what we did - bring a disposable underwater and have someone take pics of you while you pose with the stingrays for the crew photos, and then do the same for those people. It worked great for us! We then had a great, informative bus ride back to the port and got on before a huge line, again! Montego Bay, Jamaica: I will admit I was nervous about this one. We didn't have a plan really, just wanted to catch a taxi to Doctors Cove Beach. Well, we got one and the beach is beautiful. I will say, EVERYONE wanted to braid my hair and we got more than 6 offers for drugs. One enterprising guy was snorkeling up to people in the water seeing if they want some pot. Crazy! There was a really big police presence, though. Big machine guns and everything. And the people really WERE nice. They were just annoyingly persistent. We left Doctors Cove because it was about 95 degrees and we were lobsters by then. My bf said he wanted to actually walk around, so we walked down to the Margaritaville, but the bus wasn't coming for a long time. So we walked back to Doctors Cove. The bus drivers and taxi guys were intimidating and pretty annoying saying we had to go with them to get back. They were saying over and over that we can't take a bus because we don't have a wristband. So we got in with a driver named Winston who charged us $20 to get back to the ship. We felt taken advantage of, for sure. But we had no real alternative. Not sure if I would go back here, to be honest. We dined at Chops and it was wonderful. The service was great and the food was really, really good. Especially for the price! We had them go get our red wine from the dining room and they were really nice about it. Well worth it, for sure. The dining room was consistently good. My bf, a classically trained french chef that works in really high end places, had nothing but good things to say. For the amount of people they cook for, it was great. We would love to see more of the game show style events and just more to do. We didn't want to scrapbook, dance, linedance, shop - so it doesn't leave a whole lot. I think next time we'll try a ship with the ice skating and flow rider and stuff. We would like to see lounges open till late - its vacation, you know? Disembarking was a nightmare. Just awful. They called us all down at the same time. They said 'no one by the doors on 5', but everyone was. We chose self disembark, and we still took about an hour to get off. We couldn't even get off the elevator to get in line. It was crazy. When we finally got off, we were able to get through the lines okay. Then we found a shuttle and paid them. We had to wait till it was full, though, and we had a 12:55 flight home, so thought we were safe. Let me tell you - Miami was horrible for the flight back. We wound through a line that took an hour to get to a discernible location. When we finally got to a desk to do a self check in, they weighed our bags, then made us take them and bring them to the baggage load on! What? I've never heard of such a thing ever! What the hell is that moving conveyor belt for, then? So crazy. Of course there was no room to turn around through the long line to do that. Just nuts. By the time we got to our gate, we had 10 minutes to board. So awful! The worst was arriving to the cold weather. We loved our cruise and cherish our memories from it. I can't wait to plan another! Thanks for reading! Read Less
Sail Date: January 2008
So far RCCL is my favorite line but I now have a favorite ship. I did some smaller ships, sovereign and grandeur and a couple of bigger ships, mariner and explorer. some were too small some were too big, radiance is just right. Mind you ... Read More
So far RCCL is my favorite line but I now have a favorite ship. I did some smaller ships, sovereign and grandeur and a couple of bigger ships, mariner and explorer. some were too small some were too big, radiance is just right. Mind you any ship I am on is great, but if I had to choose, it would be Radiance. Embarkation was quick and easy. We stayed in a GS so we had a priority ticket. When they started to board, we were on the ship in about 10 minutes or less. Then up to the windjammer for lunch. Lunch was better than I expected. A stir fried beef was really good. We finished about 1 and went to see our cabin. OMG is was great and the balcony was huge. And a perfect location. Right next to the elevators (and never heard any noise from it) so women wearing high heels to look nice but hurt, very convenient. And the concierge lounge is on the other side of the elevators which was also great for a quick stop. I was afraid of getting that sewer smell in the bathroom so I brought a glade glass fresher,. don't think it was needed as there was never an odor. Dining was very good. Again I was pleasantly surprised that the food was better than expected. Except for one night, Thursday, wish I had gone to chops that night. We did go to chops once on Monday and Portofino's on Wednesday both excellent. Entertainment was good, my favorite was the PIANO MAN show. We did not do any shore excursions as we have done the eastern caribbean twice before. The ship was in very good condition, could use an upgrade on the balcony furniture and some of the carpeting. For the most part the service was excellent (just my room steward was so so) Debarkation was also very quick. we waited in the dining room until our color was called and then literally just walked off the ship and got our luggage about 5 minutes. We drove from Tampa in a rental. we drove to the agency dropped off the car and took their shuttle to the port. when we came home we opted for a cab to the rental, got our car and back home. the cost of the rental was less than parking, which was nice. Best trip ever! Read Less
Sail Date: January 2008
My husband and I are in our late 40's with no children and have travelled the world extensively. The past few years we have tried cruising and are presently trying the different cruise lines to determine which one best suits us. This ... Read More
My husband and I are in our late 40's with no children and have travelled the world extensively. The past few years we have tried cruising and are presently trying the different cruise lines to determine which one best suits us. This was our fifth cruise and our first with Royal Caribbean. We arranged our own flights to Ft. Lauderdale and hotel accommodation and booked our cruise directly with the cruise line. Embarkation was very organized and took only 15 minutes, our luggage was delivered to our stateroom cabin two hours after we had boarded which is excellent. Our stateroom cabin had lots of storage space, good size balcony, the bed was very comfortable, linen good quality, but the cabinets/drawers were worn and looked a little tired. The bathroom shower had a shower curtain instead of a glass door like other cruise lines and was very small. Our cabin steward was friendly and provided excellent service and the interactive room service menu on the T.V. was very efficient.The interactive service on the T.V. also provided one with an update of your on board account and shore excursions could be booked on line which eliminated going to the reception to book at the desk. We went on one organized tour and that was the "Yellowbird" tour in Nassau which we really enjoyed and had great fun on the boat and the swimming was excellent. The public areas on the ship were beautiful and the art displayed around the ship was of good quality. The only thing we did not like about the public areas is this cruise lines outdated policy of allowing smoking in these areas of the ship and on the balconies of the whole Port side of the ship. As non smokers we were amazed that when we booked we were not told that our cabin was on the smoking side of the ship and every day had cigarette smoke blowing into our cabin from people on their balconies through our open balcony door. The Centrum always had an unpleasant smell of a dirty ashtray and enjoyment of the entertainment there was uncomfortable due to it being an enclosed confined area. The entertainment overall was excellent with live music played by very talented musicians in most of the ship's public areas. The disco was also great fun and seemed to be the main hub of the ship from 9.30 pm onwards, the DJ always played good dance music. The main diningroom was beautiful and the service excellent. However, we were seated at a table for four and the couple that shared our table were a very pleasant German couple similar in age but could not speak English. This made our dining experience very awkward and exhausting trying to make ourselves understood by both parties. The tables around us had the same experience with the one table being an English couple from the U.K. seated with an Italian couple and the same seating arrangements had been made with the other tables. We did not want to offend our German couple and explained to them that we had discovered the buffet dining and speciality restaurants to be more relaxed and the food was of better quality compared to the main diningroom, so therefore we wouldn't be joining them in the main diningroom every evening. The food on this ship was by far the best we have had compared to the previous cruise lines that we have sailed with. The activities on the ship were great with a climbing wall, mini golf, basketball, football, gym and good swimming pools, hot-tubs and pool tables. The indoor swimming pool and hot-tub for adults was a nice touch and was one of our favorite places, although we also enjoyed the outdoor pool area because of the band, sunshine and bars. Everyday the ships activities were printed in a daily newsletter and we had no problem entertaining ourselves on those sea days. The evening shows in the theatre were at times very good to weird, always a surprise ! Disembarking was a nightmare because everyone had to be out of their cabins early to enable the cabin crew to clean and get ready for the next group of passengers sailing that same day, only to wait in the public areas to disembark for a few hours. When customs had cleared the ship and the first group of passengers were allowed off, many people were disgruntled and upset because there wasn't enough seating for everyone and people were sitting on the floors and others were tripping over luggage, all the doors to the outside deck were closed and it was hot and very crowded. However, once we were released, leaving the ship was very easy and customs were very quick to process us.To summarize the staff were the best and friendliest crew we have ever encountered, the captain has a great sense of humor and we felt with his abilities we were in good hands. The ship rocked and swayed alot compared to other ships we have been on, (with one ship on a previous cruise we sailed through the tail end of a hurricane and it was more stable than the Radiance of the Seas in calmer weather). Nonetheless, we had a wonderful time and enjoyed our experience and hopefully have given you an idea of the pros and cons of our cruise with Royal Caribbean on the Radiance of the Seas. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2008
I cruised on Radiance of the Seas Jan/Feb 2008. It was the nicest vacation ever. We flew down the day before just in case the weather was bad. Boarding went smoothly. They were very organized. The ship was beautiful. We had an inside ... Read More
I cruised on Radiance of the Seas Jan/Feb 2008. It was the nicest vacation ever. We flew down the day before just in case the weather was bad. Boarding went smoothly. They were very organized. The ship was beautiful. We had an inside cabin. It was nice. We didn't spend alot of time in the room, so it was plenty of room. Our first port was key west. We went off on Duval Street on our own since we had been there before, we new where to go. Don't pay for the excursions can just get off the ship and go on your own. Everything is very close. We walked Duval St to the southern most point and back. Next port was Cozumel. Here we did the playa mia beach excursion. It was very nice. Was only $29 and you just had to take a taxi to the beach, which was like $14...if there is more than four people in your group...stay together if you all go in the same van taxi...its only $20 total for everyone. Next port was grand cayman. Here we did the swimming with the stingrays. This was also good and was $45. When we came back, we did some shopping as all of the shops are close and within walking distance. Next port was Jamaica. This place was scary. People are rude and we didn't want to deal with that so we did an excursion to breeze's resort. It included open bar and food at the resort along with the transportation there and also had sailboats, glass bottom boat ride, all of which is included. We thought it was a little pricey...was $98 a person, but if you don't want to take a chance on going on your own, it was a nice excursion. Overall, our trip was great and we would definitely go again! Read Less
Sail Date: January 2008
Thanks to all who take the time to write about their experiences, it helps avoid a lot of problems and concerns, so here is a few comments about our Western cruise on this very nice ship that may be helpful to someone. We drove from ... Read More
Thanks to all who take the time to write about their experiences, it helps avoid a lot of problems and concerns, so here is a few comments about our Western cruise on this very nice ship that may be helpful to someone. We drove from Atlanta early and went A1A as much as possible, very interesting to see upscale neighborhoods beginning around Delray Beach and south to Ft. Lauderdale (could see where Seinfeld got the idea for his "parents'"development, "Del Boca Vista"). Our past cruises have been on Carnival. Boarding and de-boarding much more organized with RCI. We were interested in comparing RCI and in general found this ship excellent in all respects other than the balcony. On this deck (although we were told by their agent there was none) the view is obscured for about the bottom 30 degrees or so, so our view of the surf as well as the late arrivers at the ports, was limited by an unattractive life boat cover, but this was about the only downside about the ship. Easy to find your way around, smaller than Carnival ships like the Valor, but there are advantages to that, such as the availability of pool chairs. Radiance also has an indoor adult pool area which is very nice. Very nice gym, also have a climbing wall. Food was very good, considerably better than Carnival, had great table mates, an interesting couple from Holland who have a horse farm, and a lovely grown daughter, and a crazy man from Rochester NY who apparently goes on cruises every month or so. Entertainment: shows, not as good as Carnival, but the string musicians, excellent, wish ships still had their bands playing ballroom type music for dancing. Carnival also on occasion has a good rock and roll band. Staff, excellent, they are very, very attentive, friendly, much beyond just working for tips Ports, we didn't do any excursions, preferring to shop and make good use of beach time Key West, a great surprise, we would like to spend a lot more time there, interesting architecture, lovely streets, shops, great deal of restoration in neighborhoods, we were disappointed that time was so short for this one. Cozumel, still recovering but good weather and pretty water, people very nice, they were getting ready for their Carnival parade, but we had to leave St. George, Grand Cayman, not much shopping if you're not interested in jewelry or opening a back account, but 7 Mile Beach, beautiful, and my first time on a jet ski at age 62, why did I wait? Scuba diving will be next. There was an incident a few weeks ago reported on "Cruise Junkie" that caused us concern about tendering but our weather was good. Jamaica, after all the negative info we've seen we were concerned, but found there was "no problem mon". Very sweet people. You can find very nice inexpensive hand made items in the local markets. Recommend you take the "Mo Bay Hot Shuttle", $15 a person, but you can get on and off as you want to at 6 stops approved by RCI, so no security problems, only downside was that the day went so fast. We had great weather, drove back to Atlanta in less than 11 hours rather than waiting around airports. Parked at the port lot for $15 a day, $90 for the week. All in all a great cruise, you know you've had a good time when it ends too soon. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2007
My friend and I, both in our early 20's, took our first cruise on December 16, 2007 on the Radiance of the Seas to the Western Caribbean. We flew in to Fort Lauderdale from Canada the night before, and while it cost us quite a bit ... Read More
My friend and I, both in our early 20's, took our first cruise on December 16, 2007 on the Radiance of the Seas to the Western Caribbean. We flew in to Fort Lauderdale from Canada the night before, and while it cost us quite a bit more, it was a good choice as there was a big snow storm at home on the day of the cruise with many flight cancellations. We had a short stay due to our delayed arrival at the Holiday Inn Express Air/Sea Port in Fort Lauderdale. The hotel offers a free shuttle to and from the airport, however this only runs until 1:00am, and as we arrived after that, we took a taxi - it cost about $12 from FLL. The hotel was very clean with comfortable beds, a wake-up call which rang 30 minutes early, and a very loud air-conditioner. Overall, our stay was okay though, and the free breakfast in the morning made it worthwhile. With it's close proximity to both the airport and Port Everglades, I would consider staying here again for 1 night pre or post-cruise in the future. After breakfast, the hotel called a taxi for us, which arrived within 5 minutes. It cost around $12 to get to Port Everglades, and we arrived around 10:40am. Embarkation: We got through security and into the waiting area very quickly, with no line-ups. We were given some tickets to embark with the number "3" crowd, and were called to check in around 11:30am, and we were on the ship shortly thereafter. THE SHIP: The Radiance of the Seas is beautiful! It was all that I had envisioned, and more. The whole ship was spotless, and appeared almost new. There were plenty of bars and lounges, a main outdoor pool with an abundance of lounge chairs, a gorgeous enclosed solarium pool, a childrens pool with waterslide, a variety of sports activities like basketball, mini-golf, rock-climbing, and more. The centrum elevators certainly deserve mention - 2 facing the centrum and 4 overlooking the ocean, you were guaranteed a nice view! Also, the floors had panels with the day of the week which was a helpful touch! The public areas never seemed crowded at all, which was a plus as well.STATEROOM: We booked a balcony guarantee stateroom, and we got quite lucky with an unobstructed view portside, on deck 8 towards the aft of the ship. The room was very quiet, the air-conditioning worked well, the beds were comfortable, and Aaron, our cabin steward, did a great job of keeping our room clean, furnished with a daily towel animal. While the room was quite small, once we got our luggage (which arrived earlier than expected at 1:30pm!) unpacked and put away in the closet and under the bed, we realized that there was sufficient storage room in the cupboards, drawers, and nightstands. The bathroom was small, as expected, however we did okay in it. I now understand though, why many people complain about the shower - for a tall or large person, it may be a tight. We really enjoyed having the balcony, which was a good size, with 2 chairs, and a small table. DINING: The Windjammer Buffet: The Windjammer was large, with ample seating both inside and out (both with incredible views!), and was arranged in stations, helping to control crowds. We ate here a few times for breakfast and dinner, and made frequent trips to the frozen yogurt machines as well. There was an excellent variety of food, and it was quite good too. Be sure to get an omelette from the egg station for breakfast, and try the pizza for lunch! The Cascades Dining Room: We ate here for breakfast 2 or 3 times (which is open-seating, however we requested a table for 2 with no problems), lunch once, and dinner every night. Upon our arrival, our seapass cards stated that we were at the late seating (as requested), at table 000. We went to the dining room and spoke to the head waiter, who was very helpful and opened up a table on the lower level, deck 4, at the back of the dining room, and promised to find us some other young people who hadn't been assigned tables. A few hours later, we received a note in our room, stating that our table had been switched to a table on deck 5 because it was in a better location. This was a table for 12, with a group of 4 30-something year olds, a young newlywed couple, and a family with 2 small children. No complaints though - we had plenty to talk about each evening, and had a good experience. The food in the Dining Room ranged from average to excellent. We were sure to take the advice of our servers, who always seemed to know what was good or not-so-good. The menus varied nightly, and there was a back-up menu consisting of pasta, salmon, steak, and chicken, for those whom were not excited by the daily specials. When anyone was unable to decide what to eat, they were happily brought both of their choices. The Seaview Cafe: Located on deck 12 aft with both indoor and outdoor seating, the seaview cafe is a good choice, whether for lunch, a snack, or dinner. They offered a variety of sandwiches, chicken wings, chicken fingers, fried fish, salads, and desserts. The food here is prepared to order, and was always ready within 10 minutes. The burgers, chicken fingers, fries, and onion rings were excellent, as were the milkshakes, which are worth every penny of the $3.75 they charge. On multiple occasions, we got our order to-go, and took it back to the poolside or our balcony. Be sure to check the hours of the seaview in the cruise compass, as they tend to vary. The Solarium Cafe: Open at random times (as written in the daily cruise compass) for snacks, the solarium cafe has pizza, wraps, sandwiches, crepes (made to order), and cookies, and is a good choice for a daytime snack. On a side-note, while drinks like alcohol and soda come at an extra charge (we purchased the soda package - $6/day got us unlimited fountain pop), iced tea, lemonade, and fruit punch are available for free in the dining room, as well as the Windjammer (there are self-serve machines outside the Windjammer open 24 hours/day, and pre-poured glasses inside the Windjammer). If you are looking to save money on your drinks, ask for them in a "regular glass" to avoid the souvenir glasses which come at an extra cost. SERVICE: Service was amazing everywhere from the bars, to the restaurants, to housekeeping, to guest services. Everyone had a smile on their face and appeared genuinely happy to be serving us. As Simon, the cruise director (who did a great job!) re-iterated again and again, the Radiance of the Seas was rated the friendliest ship for 4 years in a row!ENTERTAINMENT: Having never been on a cruise, I cannot compare the shows to other ships, however they were average to good. There were 2 production shows, a couple audience-involved game-shows (i.e. Love and Marriage), a "Karaoke Superstar" show, a comedian, a magician, and more. Being in the 8:30 dinner seating, many of our shows were before dinner around 7:15, which wasn't a problem for us, as it gave us more time afterwards to see other shows, head to the casino (where I came out up $10), or to one of the lounges where there was live music. There was always plenty to choose from, so be sure to read your cruise compass to see what's happening, when, and where! ACTIVITIES: There were always multiple activities going on, and it was often hard to decide which to do! There was everything from dance lessons by the pool, to bowling in the Colony Club, to art auctions, to towel folding lessons, to ice-carving demonstrations, and the daily Bingo games! There was no shortage of activities for any age group! The rock wall was open at different times each day, and the activities staff were very helpful for beginners! Mini-golf on deck 13 was open 24 hours, and golf clubs and balls were self-serve on deck 12. There was also a half basketball court which was always open, and had organized activities and contests on various occasions. I cannot comment on the Adventure Ocean Kids Club as we did not use it, however the kids around the ship appeared to be having a good time. PORTS: We had 4 ports on our cruise, and 1 day at sea. Key West: It was quite a cool and windy day, so we did not last long outside, however we walked around some of the touristy areas and the shops before heading back to the ship and to the nice, warm solarium pool! Cozumel: We took a taxi on our own to Paradise Beach, which cost $12 each way, had free admission and chairs/umbrellas, and good food and drinks. We spent a while here, enjoying the free internet, and relaxing in the sun. Grand Cayman: This was a tender-port, however having a shore-excursion, we did not need tender tickets. We simply joined the long line (which spanned from deck 2 to deck 8), and were on a tender to shore about 45 minutes later. This was the only port where we booked a shore excursion. We wanted to see the fish, but as non-swimmers, we were reluctant to snorkel, so we booked the Sea Spi excursion through Royal Caribbean approximately a month before the cruise. We were picked up at the port by a guide, and driven down the street to the Sea Spi's. Here, we had a few minutes to change, and then walked down a few steps into the water, where we boarded our own flat motorized watercraft complete with a glass viewing window under our faces when we lied on our stomachs. Using a joystick, we could drove our sea-spis which held 2 people, out to Cheeseburger Reef, where we had an hour to drive around and see what we wanted to. It was lots of fun, however we did not see as much as we expected, partly because the fish do not swim close to the surface, even when fed bread. It was still a fun day, and I would recommend this excursion as it was very different! Montego Bay: We stayed on the ship and enjoyed the quiet peace and relaxation, as well as the beautiful views of Jamaica! THE SEAS... We travelled the week after a tropical storm, and it was very windy, and the seas were quite rough for the first few days of our trip. We took Bonine daily and did not get sea-sick, however we did meet a few fellow passengers on the Radiance, and some people from other ships that were sea-sick. I would strongly suggest consulting your doctor and bringing along some medication just incase, as you never know how the seas are going to be when you travel. Also, there were multiple passengers who were ill with Norovirus on our trip, however thanks to frequent and thorough handwashing, we were not affected. Once the "outbreak" began, the restaurants started handing out hand-sanitizing wipes upon entry, and the staff were instructed not to shake hands with passengers to try to contain it's spread. Additionally, the main pool was closed for an entire day for draining and cleaning. DEBARKATION: Debarkation was extremely smooth! We were given one of the last coloured luggage tags due to our late flight home, and we were off the ship by 9:15-9:30am! SUMMARY: Overall, we had a wonderful cruise, and will likely cruise with Royal Caribbean again! We thoroughly enjoyed the Radiance due to it's moderate size and beautiful design. Read Less
Radiance of the Seas Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.2
Dining 4.0 4.0
Entertainment 4.0 3.7
Public Rooms 4.0 4.3
Fitness Recreation 4.5 4.1
Family 4.0 4.1
Shore Excursion 3.5 3.8
Enrichment 2.0 3.5
Service 4.5 4.4
Value For Money 4.5 3.8
Rates N/A 4.3

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