26 Fort Lauderdale (Port Everglades) to Caribbean - Eastern Royal Caribbean Radiance of the Seas Cruise Reviews

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 priceline.com 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 March 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
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
We drove to Fort Lauderdale from Melbourne early on the 22nd, arriving about 10 a.m. Parking was easy, though a little inconvenient for pedestrians. DH brought his mobility scooter, so I got dropped off with the luggage and he parked. The ... Read More
We drove to Fort Lauderdale from Melbourne early on the 22nd, arriving about 10 a.m. Parking was easy, though a little inconvenient for pedestrians. DH brought his mobility scooter, so I got dropped off with the luggage and he parked. The luggage handlers were nice and efficient; we tipped $1 per bag for 3 bags. Boarding was almost immediate and quite simple and fuss-free. Our carry-on is a wheeled laptop case, which was easy to handle. We immediately went to the pool deck (11), where the Windjammer is located, for coffee and cigarettes. Heat Wave was playing good calypso music. Most folks were already swimming and sunbathing. Sail Away was cool - EIGHT ships! - it sure looked like there would be a couple of crashes - it's incredible how maneuverable those big ships are. I can't remember who took us to our stateroom or what time it was, but we were happy to find all of our luggage there, along with the first Cruise Compass, our onboard credits, and lots of other informational materials. Muster drill was no big deal. It was in the Aurora Theater and was quick and simple. After Muster drill I went to check out our dining assignment and make spa reservations. Our table for 8 was right at the foot of the stairs where the Rosario Strings played every night. Only 10 actual strings (a guitar and violin), but absolutely terrific music. Those two guys are extraordinary. I made a reservation for a manicure and pedicure for 9 that night. Neither was worth the exorbitant prices, but the technician was very nice, and there's no other place to get it done! Our room, 7502 forward, was excellent. It was much more spacious than we expected and had more storage than my own bedroom. It was great having a window overlooking the bow, and seeing our window from the bridge on TV was fun. I just wish we could have opened it. The bed was VERY comfortable, but that darn blanket was meant for the Arctic and NOT the Caribbean! The intercom speaker in our room did not work, so we had to listen carefully to the announcements from the speaker in the hall. We finally met our steward, Francis, on the second night just after turn-down. Sweet man, excellent steward. Our room was always in tiptop condition, our ice bucket was always full, we never had to ask for anything. Every time we left Francis would come in and straighten up. He was great. Here I am, only on the second day of an 8 day cruise, and my report is already long! Gotta get myself under control. DH played a lot of poker. He liked the dealers, but was disappointed that there weren't more poker tables. He said that the odds were not great and the slots were very tight. I played bingo every chance I got. Of course, I bought a bingo dog. Altogether I won almost $1000 over the cruise, which, with DH's poker, meant we broke even on gambling. The bingo was a lot of fun, especially with the kids allowed to play. Gio, Ricky, and Woody were great. We paid absolutely no attention to any of the shops or the art auctions on board. The prices that I did notice were definitely not bargains and there was nothing there I couldn't live without. I went to one show; the guy with the Spanish guitar. It was weird. Otherwise I was in our room reading at show time. I watched a little of some of the other shows on TV, but it's not something we care to do much of. We did not go to either Chops or Portofino's or to any of the trivia games, dances, or seminars - except for Quest. Quest is one of the funniest things I've ever seen and I'm really glad I went. My team won. We all laughed so hard and so much that it became painful. Oh my gawd, I can't believe the lengths people will go to! SOOOOOO funny!!!!! The band in the Colony Club was BORING! We were both very happy with the food everywhere, and we cleaned our plates at each meal. I don't recall anything really spectacular, but everything was quite good and nicely presented. We both loved the sandwiches and soups at the Sea View Cafe. I loved the crepes at the Solarium Cafe. We did not try the pizza. The food in the dining room and at the Windjammer was pretty much the same most nights, with a much wider selection in the Windjammer. The second formal night (the night at sea before Nassau) was lobster night in the dining room and there was plenty of lobster for everyone. The ports were San Juan Puerto Rico, St. Thomas USVI, Antigua BVI, St. Maarten NA, and Nassau Bahamas. We went ashore at each port for a couple of hours to buy souvenirs for our grandchildren. I did a mini sub excursion, which was great - lots of fish, turtles, sharks, sponges, corals, etc. Well worth the cost. Booking it directly from the provider onshore cost a lot less then booking through the ship. We didn't do any other excursions; we're not really fond of tours and we don't do snorkel or scuba or waverunners, so we couldn't have cared less about that stuff. The ship was nice and peaceful while in port, which we enjoyed. As far as we are concerned, if you've seen one Caribbean cruise port, you've seen them all! BTW, the Straw Market in Nassau is easy if you keep moving and don't make eye contact until you really want to buy something. Everyone has the same stuff anyway. For the prices and the aggression, it really doesn't pay to stop and examine things closely. They're all fakes, they're all the same, they're all flea-market quality. Walk through fast, decide what you want, and get out of there. Debarkation was just as easy as embarkation. DH's obvious handicaps and scooter got us off the ship very quickly without us having to wait for our color to be called. Walking up and down the unbelievable rows of luggage to find our 3 pieces was a pain-in-the-butt, but the porters were numerous and helpful, so it wasn't as bad as it could have been. It was a great experience, all in all, and we will certainly cruise again. Read Less
Sail Date December 2007
This was our 11th cruise and first on Royal Caribbean. Our other 10 cruises have all been on Princess. As in all cruises there were things that were great and other things that were disappointing. First let me say that the Radiance of the ... Read More
This was our 11th cruise and first on Royal Caribbean. Our other 10 cruises have all been on Princess. As in all cruises there were things that were great and other things that were disappointing. First let me say that the Radiance of the Seas is a beautiful ship and even far exceeded my expectations. We liked all the public rooms on the ship and even felt many were more attractive then Princess [the Schooner Bar, the Atrium, the Sports Bar, and the Movie Theatre were great]I also liked the way the Centrum shops were displayed. The dining room was a pleasant surprise as I thought it was quite pretty being so large. I did not care for the pools as much as Princess. The Solarium was pretty, but had salt water and was always crowded and the outdoor pool and bar area looked old and tired. I also did not care for the lounge chairs that looked old and needed to be replaced. I also felt that there was a definite lack in the number of lounge chairs on the ship as a whole. I have never felt this on Princess and feel they have a greater number of pools, are more attractive and use fresh water. The ship has been well maintained and for a 6 year old ship in most areas looks like new. STATEROOM We had a Grand Suite 1554 in the middle of the ship and on the rounded part in the middle. We loved this room, the configuration, the size, the bed as well as the couch and chairs were comfortable and the bathroom was great with 2 sinks bathtub shower and lots of room. Everything part of this room looked new. It was good that we had an over-sized closet, since our luggage was too big to fit under the bed. The only disappointment was the balcony that got very little sun due to the overhang from the pool deck and narrowness from being on the bump out. The lounge chairs were also very dated. DINING We had first seating and really enjoyed our 2 table-mates. The service was outstanding, but the food we felt was the worst of any cruise we have been on.[Bland and poor selection] An 8 day cruise and I only gained 1 lb.and ate steak more in a week then I do in a year because of no selection. We felt the food was like a poor coffee shop. The Windjammer cafe was a beautiful room, but we did not care for the food and the selection remained the same for breakfast and lunch all 8 days. We even tried the dining room once for breakfast with the same menu. This is the area that I felt that Royal Caribbean can't compete with Princess. We ate 1 night in the Pinnacle Grill and it was just a little better. ENTERTAINMENT I like the main theatres on Princess better and feel there singing and dance troops are better. However we did see 2 great shows The Diamonds, and El Gaucho that were outstanding. PORTS We both really enjoyed the ports of call. We walked San Juan Puerto Rico and loved the El Morro Fort and felt that much of the town looked liked New Orleans; We took the Tram in St. Thomas and had a great overview of the ships and town. We also purchased some jewelry. In St. Martin we did the Shopping and Yacht tour visiting the French side and taking a Catamaran in Simpson Bay which was great fun. Antigua we just took an overview visiting Shirley Heights and Nelson Dockyard which I enjoyed. In the Bahamas we took the tour over to Atlantis to see the resort and aquariums and had a great time. GENERAL INFORMATION We loved the Captain of this ship; he is funny and the most personable of any we have met in the past. Has anyone been on a ship where they called out names of passengers that were not back on at sailing time. Well this time it happened to me, but I was on the ship and in bed. We made a short stop in St. Croix.8PM-11PM, so I re boarded at 10PM, but they did not log me in. We retired around 11;30 and at midnight Security knocked on our door asking my husband if he had seen me. He said I was in bed when the Security asked him again if he had seen me well they needed to see me so there I was in bed saying here I am. I am not upset that they held the ship for me or questioned my husband if maybe he had hurt me, but I sure was upset at the guy responsible for checking passengers back on the ship. There were also over 500 children on the ship that at 1;30 in the morning rang doorbells and knocked on doors and the ships staff did not seem to care. SUMMARY As I said there were things about the cruise I really enjoyed, but unfortunately the things I didn't care for out weighed the good and back to Princess I go. We are going to Alaska in July on the Sapphire Princess and back the Caribbean next February on the new Emerald Princess. Read Less
Sail Date March 2007
Review for Radiance of the Seas from Saturday, 17 March 2007 to Sunday, 25 March 2007. Fort Lauderdale, FL; San Juan, PR; St. Johns, Antigua; Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas; unplanned refueling stop in St. Croix; Phillipsburg, St. Maarten; ... Read More
Review for Radiance of the Seas from Saturday, 17 March 2007 to Sunday, 25 March 2007. Fort Lauderdale, FL; San Juan, PR; St. Johns, Antigua; Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas; unplanned refueling stop in St. Croix; Phillipsburg, St. Maarten; Fort Lauderdale, FL. BACKGROUND: 47 YO father of two. Retired navy submarine nuke Chief Petty Officer. Married to a 30 something engineer at a nuke power lab. We discovered cruising on the Grandeur of the Seas, and have since enjoyed Mariner, Grandeur again, and now Radiance. Cruising just gets better for me, I love it, best vacation you can have. PRE-CRUISE: We did this a little bit differently than the average person would. We did not expect weather problems (more about that later), but didn't want long layovers in Atlanta, Charlotte, whatever. I searched and searched for flights from PIT (Pittsburgh) to FLL (Fort Lauderdale) or MIA (Miami), and was not very happy with the quotes I was getting. There weren't any direct flights that I could find, and the flights really didn't meet our needs. On a whim, I remembered seeing an advertisement for SFB (Orlando/Sanford airport) while we were in Orlando for our Mariner cruise. Looked it up and found Allegiant Airlines serves SFB, also just happens to have non-stop service on Mondays and Fridays from (YNG) Youngstown, OH, which is about 1-1/2 hours from our house. This worked out perfect for us since we wanted to fly down the day before and fly out the day after. Booked no frills flights for $79/person/leg. Allegiant flies MD-80 series aircraft, which aviation buffs will recognize in three incarnations, first as the Douglas DC-9, then McDonell-Douglas MD-80 series, then after Boeing bought out MD, the Boeing 717. There is no first/business class. Seating is 2 on port, 3 on starboard. Seats are assigned at the ticket counter when you check in, unless you pay a $15 premium to choose your seats ahead of time, this also allows you first call to get on the plane. You pay for any sodas/snacks you want on the flight. There was no line at YNG, either at the ticket counter or through security. There's a fairly nice aviation themed restaurant at YNG called Mikeee's, good food, huge portions and free Wi-Fi. Once everyone is packed into the terminal after security, you do have sort of a sardine can feel, but for the price, it's not bad. Boarding went quickly, and before we had much time to think, we were buckled in and ready to go. This was the second weekend that Jet Blue got hammered in the Northeastern states, we were told 150 guests did not make departure due to canceled flights and only about half of those met the ship in PR. We had to go through a deicing before we could leave YNG. We arrived at SFB a little early, and didn't have to wait long at all for our luggage, and no worries about lost luggage since there were no connections. Went outside and waited about 10 minutes for the shuttle from Budget's SFB office to pick us up to get our rental car. The Budget office is currently a couple miles off the airport, but is moving to the airport when an expansion is finished. We were quickly on our way for the 3 hour drive to Homestead Air Reserve Station where we were spending the night. Took the advice of several CC'ers to use the turnpike and what a disaster that turned out to be. Construction in several locations, especially around the 100 to 105 mile markers and toll booth, was horrible, at one point we only made seven miles in an hour. Thankfully, my lovely wife had purchased a Tom Tom One personal navigation device (PND) for my birthday, and when I'd had enough, we punched the alternate route and Jane (yes I named her, but it's a strictly professional relationship) got us off the turnpike, over to I-95 and smooth sailing the rest of the way, even finding us a Pizza Hut by searching POI's (points of interest) in her database. What a great little machine, certainly saved the day there. We stayed overnight at the Homestead Inn at Homestead Air Reserve Station. It's about 50 miles South of Port Everglades, but since I can use my military benefits to stay there, and it was only $33/night, I decided to do that instead of the $150 to $200/night to stay near the piers. It wasn't the Hilton, but it was a very comfortable and secure 1 bedroom suite, with private head, small refrigerator, microwave and coffee pot, satellite TV and DVD/VCR combo unit. If you'd like more info, drop me an email and I can send you links for the base. BOARDING: Discovered while searching for a coffee shop with internet that Broward County has a free Wi-Fi system, it isn't very strong, and takes some work to get going, but they have one. Dropped the car off at Budget's Quay Side Shopping Center office (EV3), and they shuttled us over to the terminal. At 11:30 a.m., there was no line at security, and a minimal line at the ticket counter. Within 20 minutes we were up the escalator and prompted to sit with a glorious view of the ship right outside the windows. We sat until a few minutes after noon and they sent us aboard. We commenced exploring Radiance since we'd never been onboard a Radiance class ship and wanted to see what she offered. We weren't disappointed. The Centrum is beautiful, with wood, steel and marble inlaid to form a patterned floor. The Colony Club was gorgeous, with a nice game room to one side, the signature gimbals mounted pool tables on the way in, and a beautiful wooden ballroom dance floor. The main pool deck is nice, although like some others have said, seemed smaller than it should have been. The Windjammer has a nice layout to it, including some outdoor seating and the lunch buffet was wonderful. We stepped into the Solarium though, and it is breathtaking, from the huge elephant sculptures on the forward bulkhead, to the tiki hut type showers and hot tub cover, plants, and other decorations were stunning. The pool is small, but has a foot bridge over the deep end, two very shallow sitting areas, and the water was nice and warm. The Starquest Lounge, in RCL's signature flying saucer Viking Crown was done very nicely, again the floor was inlaid with wood, marble and steel. There are dozens of other areas to talk about, but this is the main stuff we saw during our boarding exploration. STATEROOM: At 1:00 p.m., the staterooms were open, so we went to check out our first interior cabin, 4537. I was shocked at how large it was, I was expecting a smaller area than the Ocean View that we'd had on Grandeur, and significantly less area than the JS's on Grandeur and Mariner. It was plenty big enough for my wife and me to move about, get ready for dinner at the same time, store all the stuff that we brought, and not feel as though we had to climb on one another. They still hadn't completed the bedding swap, but I've never had a problem with the bedding and slept quite well. About half way through the cruise, we heard water hammer in the piping outside our stateroom. There's a service corridor running down the center of the ship, and the long wall of our cabin bordered that corridor. I mentioned to the purser that the water hammer was occurring, and I was worried that it was going to damage the piping if they didn't know about it. A couple hours later, we got a call from the purser, the noise was associated with a diesel project they're doing (they're adding a diesel generator for in port use to supplement the gas turbines), and would be going on all week. If we wanted they'd move us to cabin 7676. I broke out my handy-dandy Travel Agent Guide that I purchased on EBay and discovered 7676 is an aft D1 balcony cabin!! Oh yes, we'd move for that! We spent the rest of the cruise snacking on coffee and pastries while gazing at the wake behind the ship as we cruised. I love the upgrade fairy. DINING/SERVICE: We've never had anything less than stellar service and great food onboard a Royal Caribbean ship, and Radiance is no exception. Our head waiter Ernesto came around almost every night, and spent time speaking with us, not just a cursory greeting, the man took time to chat with us about the next day's activities and recommendations about what to see and do, very attentive and very nice. Our waiter Jorge, did an excellent job of waiting on two tables for 8. The first three nights there were only 5 of us there though. We like medium or large tables, so we were surprised to have a table for 4 as our initial assignment, we spoke to the maitre d' right away and he happily changed us to a table for 8. Seems that our tablemates didn't make the sailing though, at least not from Port Everglades. As mentioned before, abut 150 people didn't make sail away, and only about half of those met the ship in PR. We had Roz and Al, and David as our table mates for a couple nights. Roz and Al had actually lived in Pittsburgh for a while when Al worked for Westinghouse and are now retired to Boca Raton, and Dave is a travel agent from Georgia who was attending a TA seminar onboard the ship. The second night after PR, Don and Barbara joined us, they had missed their flights from New York due to weather cancellations. They were a lot of fun, especially since Don and I both suffered the worst from hearing loss out of everyone at the table and the ladies had a lot of fun with that. Our assistant waiter, Erhan, was a gem, young man from Turkey who not only waited on us in the DR, was the table attendant every morning in the Windjammer for breakfast and couldn't do enough to make us happy, whether it was remembering my coffee at dinner, to getting juice for my wife at breakfast. The wait staff was truly awesome. There were a couple of new menus for this cruise, with some new entree's and different pairings they're trying out. I'm not an adventurous diner, I love the cold appetizer soups though, and the desserts are just fabulous. I had prime rib, and the Black Angus steaks several times, always done exactly as I asked, hot and well served. The coffee was delicious, and never ending, great variety of breads. We purchased our wine package ahead of time on the internet through Gifts and Gear this time. Worked out great, for us, Jorge had our card waiting for us at the table first night. I enjoy RCL's wine list and we had a bottle almost every night at dinner. If you chose, you could order dinner drinks from the roving drink waiters as well. We had breakfast and lunch every day in the Windjammer, excellent food, great layout and well presented. We had a late night snack at the Seaview Cafe a couple nights, it was quite good as well, great burgers, fries and onion rings. I got a great picture of the USS Seaview, the submarine model from the old "Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea" series from when I was a kid. It was amazing how they could take a torpedo hit, or a monster shaking the ship around, throwing the crew from one side of the control room to the other, and the Admiral's coffee cup never moved off that table! ACTIVITIES: Dance lessons! They actually had two ballroom dance instructors on the ship, Kirsten and Alex from Canada, who taught several classes, rumba, cha-cha and foxtrot. They danced at several venues, including in the Centrum. My understanding is they're going to be doing two weeks on the Rhapsody out of Galveston this August (2007) teaching dance classes. Gracie's High Society Trio played almost every night and we danced the night away whenever they played. They'd happily take requests, and we saw cha-cha, rumba, swing, free style slow dancing, as well as tango and even a passa doble. The Centrum floor is big enough for a passable tango or waltz. These were in addition to the usual dance lessons given by the production staff. The Captain's Reception was well attended, ITS played Motown, R&B, and the drinks flowed freely. Captain Lokling is hilarious, although he wound up under the weather, and didn't make as many announcements as he is known for. The Meet and Mingle was also well attended, we didn't get 25 until less than a week before the cut off, so it was touch and go for a long time whether we'd have a M&M. We had a good group though, and the staff were really nice and kept the party lively. We've got some good pictures to remember it. Formal nights were smokeless nights in the casino! That was awesome, the smoke wasn't bad the other nights, but having a totally smokeless night was great, too. There was a welcome back party for previous cruisers, and since this was our first Platinum cruise, we got to attend the Platinum/Diamond/Plus brunch. It was quite good, and we had a good time there. The martini clinic was a compete hoot as well, getting to try the various types of martinis, then getting your choice of martini, in a souvenir glass for $15 is well worth the money IMHO. There isn't enough room for everything you can do on the ship, walk-a-mile, the gym was huge, treadmills, ellipticals, stationary bikes, spinners, stair climbers, free weights, and machines for weight training. Yoga classes, aerobics, mini-golf, basketball, bingo, art auctions, spa, the variety never ends. DISEMBARKATION: We had a relatively quick color for disembark, so we didn't have to wait long. We also got to wait in the Plat/Dia/Plus lounge they set up in a corner of the DR. The pastries and coffee sure made waiting a lot more pleasant, and since you are at a table with other folks, there are people to chat with. We got off the ship relatively quick, and found our bags and a porter quickly enough. The wait outside sucked though. There had to be ten other cruise ships pulling in that same Sunday and all trying to disgorge passengers at the same time. Traffic in the port was a nightmare and it took forever to catch the Budget shuttle to go get our rental. Once we got to the office, it went quickly and we were on the road to Orlando. Jane gave excellent directions, and we made good time driving. POST CRUISE: We stayed at the Comfort Inn and Conference Center in Longwood, FL after the cruise. The hotel is quite nice, used my Choice Rewards points and stayed for free. The hotel boasts high speed internet in every room, but it's not Wi-Fi, it's wired, and works well. We were at the rental car office in SFB early, and were sweating bullets a little while, since Allegiant recommends you be 2 hours early for your flight, which would be 06:20 a.m., since the Budget office doesn't open until 07:00, that's not possible. It worked out okay though, we made it through, huge line at check in, but no line for security. Quickly boarded, uneventful flight to YNG, and soon we were home. SUMMARY: I love the Radiance, she's a beautiful ship, well laid out, slightly larger than the Grandeur, but about the same number of passengers, so she feels a little less crowed. The staterooms are ample size, comfortable, and the crew and service is outstanding. The ocean view elevators are a good reason to sail Radiance at least once, just to see them. While the Solarium is breathtaking, I'm surprised there are only three hot tubs on the main pool deck and Solarium. Grandeur has 5 if I remember correctly, so they're not nearly as crowded as the Radiance. Here's where I may make some people mad. Port Everglades just has too many ships on Sundays. It makes it a mad house to get around. You definitely feel like cattle being herded. Baltimore on the other hand is so easy to get into and out of, that I have decided that I still like the Grandeur experience better. Radiance isn't nice enough to make me want to fly in order to sail her. I can drive to Grandeur, whether in Baltimore or Norfolk, and don't have to deal with flying hassles or expense. Grandeur has almost as many bells and whistles for me, I don't care about mini-golf or basketball, although the Sea View cafe is far and away better than the Solarium Cafe on Grandeur. If I'm going to have to fly to Orlando/FLL/Miami anyway, I'd rather sail Mariner to be honest. Port Canaveral is so much less crowded than Port Everglades. I loved the cruise, don't get me wrong, but now that I've done it, I know what I've missed and I'm okay with Grandeur! If you have questions, please feel free to send me an email, it's in my sig on the chat boards, just look for wraithe. Read Less
Sail Date March 2007
This was our very first cruise ever. We arranged our own flight since we flew down on points but the RCL folks met us at the airport exactly as they said they would, and escorted us to the transfer buses. There was some minor delay of ... Read More
This was our very first cruise ever. We arranged our own flight since we flew down on points but the RCL folks met us at the airport exactly as they said they would, and escorted us to the transfer buses. There was some minor delay of about 20 minutes as we waited for other guests to get their luggage. My wife and I were pleasantly surprised at how organized they were. We whizzed through the boarding process in less than 15 minutes and were directed to the Windjammer cafe where the chefs had set up what we thought was an extraordinary buffet with more than enough choices for just about everyone. Initially we thought it was just done this well to make a good first impression but, except for the ice sculptures, they more or less provided the same quality every day. (Make sure you checkout the Gala Buffet) We spent the first few hours on the ship with our mouth open in disbelief that this was actually a ship, and commented often on its beauty throughout the cruise. It is truly a magnificent and well cared for vessel. STATEROOM At 1pm we gained access to our rooms which I thought were excellent, we had expected the quarters to be small but found them more than roomy, with balconies big enough to sit two chairs and a small table. (Do yourself a favor and book a balcony...note that deck 7 stateroom balconies are double the size of other standard staterooms). The shower takes a bit of getting used to as it is rather small. On the bright side there is never a shortage of hot water. Our attendant was very attendant to our needs and was quick to organize our room as soon as we left for whatever reason. He would turn down the bed each evening as well, and made a different animal sculpture out of towels each night. This guy provided us with our every request, and never had to be asked to do anything. The beds are a bit harder than we would have liked, but perfectly fine and better than most hotels we've slept in. the linen was excellent, and there was plenty of closet and storage space. In fact, on the last day we found more behind the mirror sides in the stateroom! SHIP INFO These people know their business. Each night when we got back from dinner, there was another "Cruise Compass", a list of all the activities for the next day laid out on our bed. On days in port, there was an additional page with key bits of info related to that particular port. Admittedly, this was usually geared towards shopping, but we found it a nice additional bit of info since it also contained a map of the port. There was literally nothing that we could not find out on any subject, be it activities, shore excursions, or ships info (the Captain even had an impromptu information session and brought two of his officers to the Aurora theatre to answer questions from guests on the ship). NOTE: Bring a lanyard and a clear pouch for your Sail Pass card. All your expenses are billed to your card (there is no cash) and it's an excellent way to keep it handy. DINING Simply put, the food was excellent. We ate breakfast and lunch at the windjammer daily and the food was always hot, well prepared, and well presented. There was no shortage of staff on hand read to assist. On top, you rarely had to ask for assistance. You only needed to look confused or lost, and at least one of them was there to assist. All the food service areas were spotless. Be careful though. If you leave your table empty for any length of time, they'll clean it up whether you're through our not. Evening dining is in the Cascades lounge, a beautiful formal facility with equally attentive staff. The food was excellent, and again, well cooked and well presented. We did not dine at Portofino's or Chop's, but friends of ours who dined at Chops said it was the best steak that they had ever had. We spent the rest of the cruise wishing we went in. NOTE: Gratuities are a large part of the crews wages. All alcohol purchases come with an automatic 15% surcharge. If you still want to tip more, you can. All others, including those related to your steward and dining room wait staff are at your discretion and not automatically charged to your room as many people (including us) think. ACTIVITIES There is so much to do on this ship, that if you are bored, you should check your pulse because you are probably dead. The cruise director Kieran and his Activities Manager Simon should be on TV. These guys are hilarious!! Each morning I looked forward to seeing their summary on RCTV to find out the key events for the day. As already mentioned, there is no lack of things to do on the ship. Two activities which got a lot of attention were "Love and Marriage" and "The Quest." While almost all activities require guest participation, these two are must attends. Warning: don't bring the kids unless you want to be explaining yourself and excusing adult behavior for the rest of the voyage! CHILDRENS CLUBS We did not use these facilities, but during our walk around in the mornings, saw a huge area at the aft o the ship (the back) dedicated to children and teen activity. The kids looked like they were having a good time, and some were actually smiling! SERVICE We found the service on board to be second to none. The entire staff appeared anytime we needed something, and you needed only to look in the direction of a staffer and they moved toward you. I thought the drinks were a little pricey, averaging $4.50-$5.50, which in and of itself is not expensive until you consider that they get all the liquor duty free. I thought it would have been good to see some of this saving passed on to the guest, but hey, it's a business. ENTERTAINMENT The entertainment was excellent. We took in most nearly all the shows and found them to be entertaining. There was something for everyone. I think the highlight from a musical perspective was the Diamonds show, a 50's group that frankly I almost didn't attend since they were making music before I was born. However, I'm glad I did. A close second was a guy named "El Gaucho". I'm still trying to figure out if he was a musical guest or a comedy act. He was an extremely talented musician, but his act was hilarious. My wife and I, and our friends never laughed so hard. The ships singers and dancers are not Broadway (although a couple of the singers could easily be), but then again, this wasn't Broadway. We thought they were great. The various bands on the ship were also excellent playing everything from calypso and reggae, to Motown and rock. NOTE: Make a point to check out the guy playing the piano in the Schooner Bar. I walked by him all week without a batting an eye, and then casually stopped to hear him play some show tunes one night on our way to another venue. We ended up spending half our evening there. He is extremely talented. SHORE EXCURSIONS Shore excursions need to be selected carefully since they are expensive, and at times misleading. As an example, my wife and I went on the Eco land and sea tour in Antigua that led us to believe that we were going to go snorkeling on a reef full of fish, then hike on an uninhabited island, and then snorkel in tropical lagoons. The reef was missing the fish; the hike was about 50 meters to the top of a hill to a lookout. NOTE: keep in mind that the excursion includes travel time to and from the activity. In our case, it was over an hour in a van with a driver did not appear too concerned for our safety. On the other hand, we took the water and land tour in St. Maarten and this tour was excellent value, as was the snorkeling tour to Turtle Cove on St.Johns Island in the USVI. Outside of a short wait at the St. Johns harbor for the busses, the tour was very professional and good value for the money. Without exception, the big attraction at every port was shopping. If you are ever wondering where all the jewelry and liquor stores in your respective hometowns are, you will find the answer in the Caribbean. Outside of these keys stores, the shopping was fun and interesting, and one could literally buy just about anything. NOTE: Cheapest place (bar none) to buy liquor is in St. Thomas. If you are not sure what to do, you can simply "wing it". There are all kinds of tour people at every port, many of whom offer similar island tours at better prices. Example, it would cost you $28 per person to go to Megan's beach in St. Thomas, but the cab ride is only $6. Just make sure that you are cautious and ask specific questions on what you will get for your money. Overall, the shore excursions were quite well organized, but on our next cruise, unless we are interested in one that requires special equipment (snorkeling, boating, sailing, etc) we'll probably go it alone. DISEMBARKATION Just as organized as embarkation. You are assigned a colored tag based on when your flight is, and colors are called over the PA system in an orderly fashion. SUMMARY This is without question a beautiful ship. Capt Rune "Hurdy Gurdy" Lokling (a comedian in his own right) has an outstanding team of officers and crew, and frankly, my wife and I could no have imagined the personal treatment and service that we got from them. These people know what they are doing, and do it very well. Not once did we walk by a crew member without getting a "hello" or "good day". Not once did we have to ask for anything a second time. In fact, sometimes these people would appear out of no where to render assistance. Not only was this our first cruise, but also our first vacation away in 22 years. As such, we were somewhat cautious and nervous about our selection, hoping to get the perfect vacation. We sure hit a home run with these people. We loved every second and can't wait to do it again. 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Sail Date March 2007
Travelled from Glasgow via London to Miami with AA. Everything went well. Hired a car and drove to Holiday Inn at Lauderdale by the Sea for 4 days. This hotel is past its sell by date for decor but it was friendly and had the facilities we ... Read More
Travelled from Glasgow via London to Miami with AA. Everything went well. Hired a car and drove to Holiday Inn at Lauderdale by the Sea for 4 days. This hotel is past its sell by date for decor but it was friendly and had the facilities we wanted. Enjoyed stay although we just missed taking a direct hit from a tornado by a short distance(1/2 mile)when out driving. Very very scary. Transfer from Car Hire and boarding was straight forward. The new beds are great, no sore backs this time. The service on board at all levels was better than last year when we transited the Panama canal on the Radiance. We did not make use of the Spa, wall climbing etc this time so no ship shape dollars.The SEAVIEW cafe was good though!!. We celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary in Portofinos. It was fantastic. Best meal and service we have had in a while. Even the waiters singing was good!! The captain sets the tone for the ship, and he was without doubt the best and funniest we have sailed with (2). The excursions generally for us were poor. For example at San Juan we took the Barcadi Distillery Tour. What a waste of valuable time and money. It does not go around the distillery but to a shop and reception area. What was advertised would be against the law in UK under misrepresentation. I asked for and was given a refund. This tour is well known as one to be avoided I have since discovered. Best cup of tea was to be found in Antigua, but please mind your step on the side walks. The island tour was good. St Thomas was where the money was spent, but St Maartens was our best port. Nassau was tacky at best. To be avoided in my book. Our flight departed Miami at 2120. RCI did no appear to offer a tour that could fit this, so we drove around and down to South Beach before being in Airport at 15.00 where it took 2 hours to check in!!!! Summary. We noticed a subtle improvement in the service from our many RCI cruises and with our hilarious table we have had our best cruise yet. The service in the Windjammer was more than one would expect. Well done. Our next cruise is from Venice on the Brilliance. We love this class of ship. Read Less
Sail Date February 2007
It's taken a little time to get this together, but it's finally done. We had a great 8 night Eastern Caribbean cruise on the Radiance. It was a long-planned cruise for us (50 something couple) and was designed to allow us to have ... Read More
It's taken a little time to get this together, but it's finally done. We had a great 8 night Eastern Caribbean cruise on the Radiance. It was a long-planned cruise for us (50 something couple) and was designed to allow us to have an intimate vacation while visiting some islands to look for spots for future land-based trips. Pre-Cruise: We flew from Seattle to Ft Lauderdale on American Airlines on Friday, Feb 2nd, arriving at about 6:26 pm. I was able to upgrade our seats to first class for the entire trip which made things much more pleasant. We rented a car and headed to our hotel in Delray Beach, which is 33 miles north. We stayed at Wright by the Sea, a small family owned resort where we have stayed before. It is a great little place—right on a private beach. It was 82 degrees, so we had dinner outside at a small restaurant in town, Boheme Bistro, which was very good. It stayed warm enough for a walk on the beach and through the surf at 11:00 that evening. Embarkation: We checked out of the hotel around 11:00 and headed to Ft Lauderdale. After turning in the rental car at the Rental Car Center, we got on the shuttle and headed to the port. It was an easy process. We had our set-sail passes printed and our passports ready and there was literally no line. We boarded, made dinner reservations, bought a wine package and were having lunch in Windjammer by 12:45. I don't see how this could have been easier. Cabin: We had a Jr. Suite (1540) on deck 10. The Jr. Suite is a perfect size room. Nice balcony, great walk-in closet, couch, two chairs and a good size bathroom. We didn't have the new bedding the first night, but it arrived the next day. We used the balcony a lot. One thing to note, if you want to get sun on your balcony, this room will not work for you. The overhang from is too large and you only get sunrises or sunsets (depending on direction). We knew this in advance, so it wasn't a problem and actually liked the shady spot. As the weather was in the 80s every day, it was quite nice out there. The new bedding is really comfortable. No trouble sleeping. Our cabin adjoined the one next door. I know that some people have said that is a problem, but we didn't find it so. Didn't hear any noise and no smoke under the door, as others have reported. Overall, we were very happy with the cabin. Dining: We are particular about dining. Living in Seattle, we have access to a large number of really good restaurants and we go out frequently. We wanted a similar experience, both in food quality and ambiance, on the cruise and knew that we wouldn't get that in the main dining room. So, we made reservations in Chops and Portofino's for every night. We did tell the head waiter that we were not going to be eating in the dining room (and also still tipped the staff there). We alternated between the two restaurants each night. It was a great decision. The food in both restaurants was very good and the service was excellent. We had the same server night—Bennie in Portofino's and Rosanna in Chops-and they were wonderful. There was no problem finding different things to try each night and everything was always well prepared. I would recommend trying each restaurant at least once during your cruise. They are well worth the $20 per person (plus the extra tip we gave). We also did the wine package. As this was an 8 night cruise and, as the only alcohol that we usually drink is wine, we bought the 12 bottle diamond (I think it was diamond—whichever one gave the most choices) package. You get a punch card and they punch it each time you get a bottle. Room service will not deliver wine from your package to your room, nor can you get bottles in the bars. You must get them from the main dining room or the specialty restaurants. This wasn't a problem. We had a bottle of red each night and, every other night before we left the restaurant, would get a bottle of white for the next two afternoons. The steward provided an ice bucket and ice to keep it cold and we were set. The average cost for this package was $27 a bottle which was cheaper than buying the wines we would have bought by the bottle during the week. However, if you don't drink much wine or don't want to pay at least $27 a bottle, this would not be a good choice. We were happy with the choices that were available. Spa: The spa on Radiance was excellent. We used it on two different days. My wife got a manicure & pedicure and I got a haircut on Sunday. On Monday, while the ship was docked in PR, we did the couples massage and Rasul treatment. The 50 minute massage was very good and the Rasul treatment was a lot of fun. There was no pressure to buy products after either visit. Service: Service throughout the ship was good to excellent. Our room steward, Elizabeth, was excellent, as were our servers in the Specialty restaurants. The baristas in Latte-Tudes, the specialty coffee shop, remembered our names and drinks by the 2nd day! We had no complaints on service anywhere. Ports: I don't have much to say about the ports, except that we enjoyed ourselves. We didn't do any organized tours. We stayed on the ship in San Juan as we have been there several times and the hours we were there (2:00-8:00) didn't lend themselves to really doing anything. Our favorite stop was St. Maarten. We took a cab to Marigot on the French side and spent the day there. We had lunch, shopped, etc. We both love this island and will come back for a long stay soon. All of the islands were very nice—it's the Caribbean so what could be bad! Passengers: Everyone asks about kids. There were very few on this ship and there were no problems. The kid's pool was almost empty most days. Shows: We went to one show, which was a musical and was very forgettable. We always ate at 8:00, so we couldn't go to the others. Problem Areas: The only significant problem, and it didn't seriously affect us, was a plumbing problem in the cabin. The toilet would not flush all Monday night (1st formal night) and all afternoon Friday (2nd formal night). On other days it would take several times to get it to flush. Maintenance was responsive and did work on it, but the problem kept reoccurring. I think the total outages were caused by people flushing things down the toilet, but the other problems were related to our toilet only. They couldn't figure out what the problem was and it wasn't working when we left the ship on Sunday. An inconvenience, but not a crisis. The only other minor complaint was that the casino is unusable for people who are at all sensitive to smoke. The smoke is very heavy there all of the time. We could only spend about 10 minutes in the place. Other than that, smoke was not a problem. We smelled a little on our balcony, but nothing that caused any difficulty. Overall, this cruise gave us exactly what we wanted—a relaxing, intimate vacation with the chance to look for future vacation spots. RCI did a great job. Read Less
Sail Date February 2007
Eastern and Western Caribbean, February 17 until March 3, 2007 Radiance of the Seas - Royal Caribbean Cruise Line Almost everything there is to tell about the Radiance can be found in my last year's Hawaii review. That is why I ... Read More
Eastern and Western Caribbean, February 17 until March 3, 2007 Radiance of the Seas - Royal Caribbean Cruise Line Almost everything there is to tell about the Radiance can be found in my last year's Hawaii review. That is why I wanted to put the focus more on the personal aspects this time. For some of you it might not be interesting, but for me these aspects are an important part of our cruise experience. For those who are looking for facts and more, you will find a few, but the emphasis of this review is on the personal aspects. A few notes about the Radiance: By and large, the ship is in good shape, considering those were her cruises #304 and #305. The cabins had been fitted with the new bedding system, here with decorative cushions and spreads in dark blue. Of course you will find some wear and tear when you look at the carpets or the chairs, the deck chairs, etc. Out on deck, almost every day you can see crew members polishing and painting. But all those signs of old age did not bother us. The service and the food were good but not excellent—with the exception of the two specialty restaurants, "Portofino" and "Chops Grille". You will need 2 to 2 ½ hours for these dining experiences in order to fully enjoy every minute. The food in the Windjammer Cafe was, like on other ships, slightly above canteen standard. Thus, we decided to have lunch in the Dining Room when it was open for Brasserie 30 Lunch. Although they only had one menu for the two weeks, the selection of entrees was enough to have more than one lunch in the Dining Room. In the evening, the already well-known menus were presented, among them only one new menu. So we chose different courses in order to discover new dishes. Here RCCL should show more flexibility; I am sure that the Executive Chefs would love to present more new dishes. The meat entrees were rather adapted to the North American appetite than to the average European appetite: Some steaks covered more than half the plate. However, they offered something for every taste, meat and poultry, fish and vegetarian food. But why does the menu selection of the first week have to be repeated in the second week? What about the back-to-back guests? What about a change of menus every 14 days? It was striking that the head waiters and assistant waiters changed after the first week, and it was interesting to us to compare those two weeks with different service. A new experience to us was the large number of kids and teenagers. Because of the Presidential Weeks in the US and the Canadian spring break, many families were on board, with children of all ages from babies to young adults. Most of the time we did not notice it in a negative way. But when we went to the Windjammer for a coffee in the early afternoon, it was often hard to stand and watch some families. Some parents seemed to be free of pain in view of their children's table manners. Relaxing by the poolside was impossible for people who love tranquility. In spite of respective warning signs, children jumped into the pool or romped in the whirlpools. Part of the guests could generally be described as plebe like. We have been told similar stories by some passengers on the HAL Westerdam, however, the price level for this ship is much higher than for the Radiance. Several people must have been drunk; the whirlpools were occupied by some drunken passengers in the late afternoon. Fortunately, they did not use the pool and whirlpool in the solarium. The unprofessional front desk team made a negative impression, since they were not able to register the Crown & Anchor internet coupon on our onboard account, or to make a reservation for the shuttle transfer from Ft. Lauderdale to Miami International Airport. It cost us a lot of time until they found out that they had not made this reservation, and they were not able to tell us the correct price. They said a private taxi transfer would only cost 45-50 $, so that would actually be much cheaper than the RCCL transfer, and were really impolite. It cost us time to get a taxi, and in the end it costs us 83 $ to get from Ft. Lauderdale to Miami International Airport. On the cruise to the Eastern Caribbean there were 2,153 passengers from 29 nations on board, many of them cruise novices and the first time on a cruise ship. On the second cruise to the Western Caribbean, 2,097 passengers from 37 different nations were aboard, also among them many beginners who did not know how to behave on a 4* cruise ship. Our very personal impressions Boarding the ship was like coming home to a wonderful place. To re-discover familiar things, to see familiar faces, to meet and greet acquaintances, and to be happy together about the reunion. It was great to experience crew members, including the Captain, remembering us as dear guests after 9 months, sometimes even with hugs and kisses. Then you know you must have done something right. And considering the tens of thousands of other passengers on board after you left the ship 9 months ago, it is incredible that they remember you, and that gives you a good and warm feeling inside. We especially appreciated those little extras you receive when you ask in a kind and friendly way. When you get your unsalted butter with your raisin bread, delivered every morning to your table by a kind head waiter (it is simply not the same with salted butter on this wonderful, freshly baked raisin bread). Or the waiter who orders the delicious blue cheese dressing in the galley even when it is not on the menu, just because you love it. On the other hand, it was interesting to see the first-timers, how they explored the ship and how they marveled at so many things. For us, everything is well known, more like visiting a good friend at home; it is like he welcomes you and says: "My house is your house." And then the anticipation of things to come, the familiar places you will visit again. Or the unknown places you will explore. I was really happy with our decision to do everything spontaneously. We had not made any plans in advance, instead, we did just what we felt like doing on the respective day—maybe an island tour or a taxi ride to one of the Caribbean beaches. Or maybe you decide to stay on board and enjoy the quiet ship with all its amenities, when the other passengers are doing tours in overheated busses or ports. We often say "We are on vacation!", a sentence that stumps many people. But after a while they agree: When they understand the meaning of the words, i.e., that we have time, and when we tell other people like crew members to take their time and that nobody needs to hurry for us. Even on vacation, many people have stress and react on little things like on major issues. People, you are on vacation, enjoy the life of doing nothing and give your respect to all those people who deserve it, like all the crew members who are doing everything in order for you to have the time of your life. We loved all the conversations with crew members who we only had met briefly last year, and now we took the time to get a closer contact. Like our daily conversations with a bar waitress or even with the Captain. Or several conversations with a young singer, only 18 years old, far away from home, and doing remarkable performances on stage. Those are the moments that make a cruise very special, because humanity and personal contacts are of such importance, even on a larger ship. (Not a boat, Captain!) Where the Captain makes small talk walking through the Dining Room during dinner and sometimes teases guests like me. Or the dinner in Chops Grille, where we got a special entree which was not on the menu. That is what made those two cruises so special. Anyway, both cruises where an adventure for ship spotters. I am sure that Uwe took more pictures from ships than from any other subject. The Caribbean Islands What will it be like, visiting the islands for the second time? We were more critical than the first time. In fact, these islands only exist to make money from the cruise tourists. Think about this: A 10-minute ride to Paradise Point on St. Thomas for $18, to get a wonderful overview of the harbor and the surroundings, and then another $4 to get into an overcrowded town that more or less consists of jeweler stores. And people’s main interest is the bargain you can get in one of those stores. But if you take your time, you will find some romantic small alleys that render a bit of a Caribbean feeling. And maybe you agree with the policeman cautioning a vacationer who thinks that walking around without a shirt in town is appropriate. We noticed that many of our co-passengers wanted to visit some of the famous beaches on the different islands. On Antigua it was difficult to get a taxi for an island tour without a beach stop. The price was reasonable, $30 per person for a 3-hour tour and a group of 6. And Antigua is worth an island tour, it is one of the most beautiful Caribbean islands we have visited in the past years. But let me warn you: The island dialects can sometimes be very strange and hard to understand, e.g., “tong” means town. The island tour in St. Maarten was neither worth the money nor the time. Many traffic jams, only a few photo stops. The stop at Maho Beach was too early to get the experience of the landing jets right behind the beach. The French part of the island presented itself with its capital Marigot, with colorful straw markets and great marinas. A stop at the totally overcrowded Orient Beach made us refrain from taking another taxi ride in the afternoon for a beach break. St. Maarten did not meet our expectations. One day during a cruise is enough, but a longer stay would be too much for us. Personally, all those tropical islands we visited are not what we expected. But for those who love visiting several beaches and doing all kinds of water sports, these islands are perfect. Before we reached St. Thomas, the ship’s officers made an announcement about a gas turbine. We arrived in St. Thomas in the night, engineers came on board, and one turbine was replaced. The passengers were not bothered by this incident. It was different with the medical emergency in the afternoon, when the departure was later than scheduled. There were actually several medical emergencies, and we had some unplanned port stops in order to take the people to an ambulance in the closest port. When we got back from a shore excursion in Nassau, we had a message on our voicemail saying that we would reach Ft. Lauderdale earlier than scheduled. Another gas turbine was to be replaced, and we would leave Ft. Lauderdale only at 2 am on Sunday instead of 5 pm on Saturday. They offered us $ 100 per person as compensation, since they had to cancel the stop in Key West. But in the end it was not necessary. The turbine was replaced faster than expected, and we could leave Ft. Lauderdale for our second cruise to the Eastern Caribbean islands at 8 pm on Saturday, so that we reached Key West on the following morning. Back-to-Back: Two cruises on the same ship, starting at the same port, are called back-to-back cruises. We did the Eastern Caribbean with an 8-day cruise and the Western with a 6-day cruise. We had booked the same cabin for the two cruises, so there was no packing and unpacking after the first part. The sea passes were delivered to our cabin the day before the last day. We were escorted by the 3rd purser off and on the ship after a short wait in the terminal. Everything went absolutely hasslefree, a quick check from the local customs, and back on the ship for the second cruise. It only took longer than usual because the Radiance had the comprehensive Coast Guard test with smoke, smoke removal, etc. going on that is done twice a year on every cruise ship. Key West was hot, really hot with a humidity of more than 90%. Ships in port: the HAL Veendam and the Carnival Celebration. We strolled around in the center of Key West and were glad to get back on the air-conditioned ship. The next stop was Cozumel. We docked next to the Freedom OTS and the Carnival Fantasy off the center of Cozumel, where several other ships were docking: Oceania Regatta, Norwegian Pearl and Norwegian Dream, Costa Magica, and in Playa del Carmen Celebrity Constellation. On Grand Cayman there were lots of people in the port, all ships had to tender to different spots close to the totally overcrowded city center. It was again hot, and with so many people and traffic it was almost impossible to cross the streets and to get into one of the stores. Freedom OTS and Voyager OTS, Costa Magica, Carnival Liberty, Carnival Imagination and Carnival Inspiration anchored off the harbor. We had planned on booking a boat trip, but with so many people everywhere, we did not want to queue for a tour. The weather was again extremely hot, so we tendered back to the ship at noon and enjoyed the ship’s amenities. After dinner we attended the production show “Piano Man” for the second time. It was interesting, because we noticed more details than with the first time—the excellent decoration, the wonderful costumes, and the professionalism of the singers and dancers. Montego Bay, Jamaica: The last port on our cruise, and for us also the last one on our ranking list. Mo-Bay is a total tourist trap. You can buy a bus round-ticket for $12 and you get a paper bracelet and a map with their so-called “Hot Spots”. So we took one of these buses to the last stop, “Doctor’s Cave Beach”, where we were asked to pay $5 for visiting the beach, $5 for a beach chair, and $5 for a parasol, all in all $30 for the two of us. We decided to take the bus back to the next Hot Spot, because the beach was not worth paying $30 for 2 or 3 hours. The next Hot Spot was a bar, but we do not belong to those species who love to drink already in the morning, so we went to the next stop, the “City Center Mall”, a third-class shopping mall and also totally overcrowded. On our way back to the pier we passed the “Harbor Street Craft Market”, but this did not interest us either. Information for those who want to take a taxi: 1 hour for about $30, a tour to Dunn’s River Falls about $100. Our conclusion These ports of the Western and Eastern Caribbean were so overcrowded that we had no fun leaving the ship and discovering the ports. On Antigua, we were able to avoid the crowds on an independent tour, but in every other port we did not experience any Caribbean feeling; I doubt that it was there at all. Someone who loves to visit the different beaches on these islands will have fun, on the beach or with water sports activities, and enjoy these itineraries. I believe that RCCL made the right decision to bring the two smaller ships “Azamara Quest” and “Azamara Journey” into play, with different itineraries and different, less crowded ports of call. A touch of expedition, and less mass tourism. Translation kindly supported by Susanne Wurster, Göteborg, Sweden More information, also in english available: www.oppermann-wuppertal.de Read Less
Sail Date February 2007
I cannot say enough about the beauty of the Radiance. I have cruised 20 times prior on 5 different cruise lines and I can safely say that this ship is the most beautiful I've ever sailed on. She shines like no other. Our balcony cabin ... Read More
I cannot say enough about the beauty of the Radiance. I have cruised 20 times prior on 5 different cruise lines and I can safely say that this ship is the most beautiful I've ever sailed on. She shines like no other. Our balcony cabin was small...almost too small. We travelled with our adult children (they were in another cabin) and we could not all 4 be in the actual cabin together. 2 on the balcony and 2 inside worked. If you're travelling with any more than 2 people you will thank yourselves for upgrading to a JS. All of the beds have been replaced and we were the first ones to sleep on the new linens. They were amazingly good beds and the linens felt top notch. Definitely the best beds I've ever slept on at sea before. I can't rave enough about the beds. The food was great!! We did dine at Chops (the specialty restaurant) for $20.00 a person and when we cruise again we'll probably spend 3-4 nights there. The meat was some of the best we've ever eaten and we are pretty selective and discerning. Do this!! You won't be sorry. The drinks were good, not watered down a bit. Top shelf drinks are about $5.50 per. We also took advantage of the wine program. For $143.00 you get a choose from a selection of about 10 different wines and you get 5 bottles which you can order in any of the restaurants. We really enjoyed the wine and think that the selection was really good. We wish that more cruise lines would offer this program because it makes the whole dinner with wine thing uncomplicated. We didn't take any of the cruise lines shore excursions. They are double what you pay to do them on their own. We found that the staff were wonderful with the exception of the shop where you purchase the photographs. I was in their 4 times and all 4 times the staff were very short with me and not a bit friendly. If you take advantage of the spa experience do NOT feel like you have to fill out the 2 page questionnaire that wants to know everything about you. They really want to know what areas you feel inadequate about so that they can sell you their expensive products. Face it, if you say that you suffer from puffiness around the eyes you become vulnerable if they say that they have just the product for you. They could care less about how you actually are it is just a ploy to sell you products. The spa treatments are truly over priced. They were as high as what you'd pay in a big city spa and more than you'd pay in a small town/suburban spa. I did have the hot stone massage but it was $174.00....ouch!! Embarking for the beginning of the voyage was painless and quick. Disembarking was a nightmare. Had we not walked off the ship before our time was called we would have missed our return flight. All in all, we loved this ship!!! Bon Voyage to all setting sail on her..you won't be sorry. Read Less
Sail Date February 2007
All I can say is WOW! One of my best cruises ever! I'm 41, female and was traveling with my parents 76 & 83. My first cruise ever was on the Radiance to Alaska 09/2003. The ship looks just as beautiful today as it did then! ... Read More
All I can say is WOW! One of my best cruises ever! I'm 41, female and was traveling with my parents 76 & 83. My first cruise ever was on the Radiance to Alaska 09/2003. The ship looks just as beautiful today as it did then! Traveling from California, we decided to arrive one day early and stayed at the Ramada Airport/Cruise port hotel on hwy 84. They are located just 1-1/2 miles from both the airport and port everglades...very convenient. I do recommend this hotel for the convenience, but be prepared...there are LOTS and LOTS of cruisers there...leading to huge crowds with lots of luggage in a small amount of space at times. We stayed there post-cruise also and were overall very satisfied. We took the 1pm shuttle to the cruise port, which in reality ended up being the 2pm shuttle. Due to some confusion, the driver tried to drop us off at the wrong ship and that added a bit more time to our "commute". We ended up on board at 2:45 and noting that lunch buffet ended at 3pm we scurried up there since we had not eaten since our 8am breakfast...(by the way, hot breakfast buffet is including in price of room at hotel. It was very good..made to order omelets, etc!) Lunch at the Windjammer was very good. The Radiance has the buffet outlay down! Some of the older ships have only one or two stations that you must stand in long lines for. Radiance has 2 separate ones for salads, sandwiches/hamburgers, hot foods, desserts, etc! I was always able to find something to my liking there. Our cabin was fine...wish I would have researched more as I have in the past. Some of the D1's have much larger balconies..i.e. the "hump" of the ship. This cabin did not..but it was adequate. Our cabin attendant "Ray" was very good albeit a bit forgetful at times. We did request extra ice in the room everyday and he was very good at meeting that request. We had main dining and loved that we had a small table for 4. Unfortunately, we didn't eat in the dining room half the time due to late days in port. Our waiters in the dining room were very good. Sorry, can't remember their names very accurately, but one was Octavarian..or something like that. PORTS!! ANTIGUA - Went on the ship's offering of Beach Escape to Runaway Beach. Nice beach, beautiful ocean...came with a "welcoming cup of rum punch" that was served in a 6 oz dixie cup and was about half rum and half very sweet punch it seemed. Other drinks were available for sale but were quite pricey in my opinion. Rum punch or cocktails at bar were $5.50 and up. No name beer in 8oz bottle was $3.00 and tasted like "squnk" water must. I really enjoyed the beach but was ready to leave after about 2 hours. Luckily, the tour director took pity on us and got us on an earlier van back to the ship. Even though I had used 30 SPF sunscreen, I managed to get quite sunburned. My parents stayed under the umbrella for the most part except for when my dad got in the ocean and couldn't get out! Oh well, that's a long story but it all ended up well. LOL ST. THOMAS - I taxied into town about 9:30 am. Ship tells you to be adamant about being dropped off at post office in town. (I believe that is because the shops they sponsor are located near there.) Mine said he would drop me off with 200 yds of there. I was okay with that and there was a nice "vendor" area where he dropped us...I suppose that is where HIS "sponsored vendors" are. LOL. Anyway, I found a nice big bag embroidered with St. Thomas for $10 there. It got me out of bind on the way home too! Just looked around alot in town and stopped at a few local watering holes. Beer here was $3.50....still cheaper than on ship! I did buy some at a drugstore for $1.50/can. What a bargain when it is almost $5 on ship! That afternoon we took the ship's tour of St. John Island. Boarded a ferry to get there and then took a "pimped out" open air truck of sorts on a tour of the island. We stopped frequently for photo ops. and it was a fairly good tour. We had an older driver that was a resident of the island for quite some time. Apparently, he must have been new to the tours as he took as back to the ferry over an hour before we were supposed to leave. When I questioned him about the ferry departure time he got quite embarrassed it seemed. He ordered everyone back on the truck and preceded to "tour" us more. Unfortunately, it was painfully obvious, he didn't know where to take us next and was just "winging" it. Some on the tour told him several times..."just take us back"...we can shop or something. I felt a bit sorry for him. He did finally acquiesce and took us to the edge of the shopping area to drop us off. Several of the older folks (& me with my sprained foot) decided we just wanted to get off at the ferry a few blocks away. He obliged and took us back there. We were able to soak up some local "culture" by watching the natives of the island use machetes to chop coconuts and filet fish that had just come out of the ocean. Very cool! Beer selection was better here than on beach...I had good old Budweiser for $2/btl - dad tried some local ale for the same price. I tried it but didn't like it...very "fruity" tasting. One of the most memorable things about St. John's is the incredibly STEEP roads! Almost as breathtaking as the scenery! The other thing that was quite incredible was the "TERMITE" nests. They were about 4' tall by 3'wide. There "wrath" was seen everywhere...lots of dead trees nearby. There was a reason why they didn't destroy them...I think it was to keep the natural order of things. All I could think about was how I just had my house in CA treated for the nasty little buggers! Just before arriving in St. Thomas, we noticed it was starting to sprinkle. Mother nature held on to the "gulley washer" until we got there. Then it let loose with the biggest torrential rainfall I can ever remember being caught in! Even if we could have run, it wouldn't have been a good idea for much of the area we had to cover was tiled and very slick. It was a very COLD rain to boot! Once back on ship, we wrung out our clothes...I got about 8 oz. out of each sock alone!! NOT KIDDING!! St. Maarten - We took the ship's offering of the Island Tour for $23. We enjoyed it more than we had all the rest. Unfortunately, our bus lost it's A.C. about half way through. Not only that, but it apparently didn't even have any windows to open. I thought I was going to pass out before we got to the first and only stop in Marigot. Luckily, they called for another bus and were able to transfer us to it after our scheduled 45 min shopping tour there. Oh...for those following the beer prices...it was $1 here! Heineken, Bud, etc. We took a few back to ship with us! We were given the option of being dropped off in Phillsburg downtown with it's "front" and "back" streets as well as boardwalk or taking bus back to ship. I chose to be dropped off, folks stayed on. Loved the quaintness of "front" street! All decked out for Christmas too! Popular Christmas tunes with a caribbean beat played everywhere! Ended up at a nice bar/grill just across from the beach, end of shopping area and just across from the water taxis. Ran into some friends from the ship and just people watched and drank a few spirits. Quite fun actually. When we got ready to leave there was an "outside sales" stand associated with the bar we were at...they offered all kinds of beer and were having a SALE! The .99 sign was marked out with .98 under it! LOL We again took this opportunity to support the local market and take a few back with us to the ship. The shopping in St.Martin was by far the best and cheapest. I got some really unique items made on the island in Marigot. LOVED THIS PORT!!! NASSAU - Friends were taking the "yellowbird tour" from the ship..I almost joined but decided not to and as it turns out I'm glad I didn't go. Apparently, the "all you can drink rum punch" was rancid and had NO rum in it. The couple that went were very disappointed as they ended up having to pay premium prices for drinks on board that they thought were going to be included...i.e. the "RUM" punch. I had decided to "wing it" in this port. I went to SENOR FROGS first...what fun. Unfortunately, cheap beer was not to be had in this port!! It was $5.50 for El Sol or just about any other kind of beer, however, none of my Bud or Bud lite could be had here! Mixed drinks in the famous Senor Frogs flutes were about $20. Shopped briefly in the famous "straw market"...very crowded and yes some of the vendors are pushy and rude. I did make a good deal on a "gucci" knock off purse. preceded to look the town over and found a place I read about on the cruise critic site. "Conch Fritters"...as the name says that's what they specialize in. Apparently, they are made of mussels that are chopped up and put in batter then deep fried. They are served with a very spicy horseradish type sauce. They are GOOD!! Oh my God! I decided to say 2 out of the 6 or 8 I was served to take home to the folks. I was just going to fold them up in a napkin, but waiter insisted he put them in a "to-go" box for me. On board, I discovered he had added two more fritters and a container of sauce! Is that hospitality or what??????? For those keeping track of beer prices...it was pretty standard at $5. On the way back to the ship I stopped in a few sidewalk stores..one of the last ones was right across from the cruise ship port area and had cheap, cheap t-shirt prices and a few necessities items. I was perusing those cheap shirts when I heard my name called. I couldn't imagine who would be calling to me and figured it was for someone else with the same name. When I turned around I saw a familiar place that took me a second to recognize. It was one of the girls from the casino on board! We had talked quite a bit and it was nice to see her off ship. Almost every crew member seems to work very hard at putting names to faces. It's quite amazing how they greet you by name so often. Imagine having to learn names week after week for all the new faces! No wonder most of those employees are young. I think I've lost too many brain cells to try to retrain them week after week that well! Disembarkation - Well, even though we had listed an early flight, we didn't get called off the ship until about 9 am. We were one of the earliest groups to be called. With my sprained foot, I had decided not to leave the room until my color was called. It was only 15 mins after the 8:30 all out rule and after i explained it to Ray the room attendant he was in complete agreement that I stay put until called. The plan was to call the hotel after we had our luggage and we would be picked up shortly. Upon calling, they informed us to wait at the terminal across the street. This was a very daunting experience as it was non-stop traffic with no cross walks! I finally found a sheriff deputy and asked where to cross...he promptly stepped into the scary traffic and let us cross. We still had to wait in the hot sun for at least 30-45 mins. but we at least we had made it to the other side safely!! We flew on Delta both ways and they had changed our flight numbers and times enough that we called the night before to confirm our 7:10 am flight. It was confirmed and they told us gate D9. We we arrived at airport at 5:30 am, flight time at check in told us the same but didn't have gate info. We decided to wait outside security so we could drink the water and my "mandatory" Diet Coke. We watched the monitor, which was over the bench we sat on and continued to see that no gate had been announced yet but the flight time now showed 7:45. We "mosied" over to security about 6:30 and then sat just outside there watching the other poor folks who had to undergo the heavier security clearance. FUNNY - just across from us a guy left his two big bags on the chairs and walked away. Apparently, he went into a store across the way. Anyway, those bags sat there unattended with no one around them for more than 15 mins! I have photos of it! Not only that, but two of our FEDERAL EMPLOYEE "HIGHLY TRAINED" TSA AGENTS walked right by them without blinking an eye! Other people came and went near the bags...no owner in sight. Too bad the TSA folks were busy with checking everyone's plastic baggies to make sure nothing exceeded 3 oz. I regress - soon thereafter, dad reports he heard our flight number associated with gate D2! Now - dad hardly ever hears anything, so I was sure he was wrong. I got up to look at monitor and it now said departure time was 7:10 and gate WAS D2!! It was straight up 7:00 according to my watch...I FREAKED! Nothing funnier than seeing 2 old people and my crippled butt trying to run, I'm sure! When we got to the new gate it was empty and they seemed to be glad to see us. We were the last to get on the plane and took off shortly thereafter! Note - they had not reached the point of paging us by name - they actually said they had decided to take off "early". Plane wasn't anywhere near full so we were able to spread out - it was great. In closing - this ship and itinerary made this one of my best vacations to date! GET OUT THERE!! Read Less
Sail Date December 2006
This is our second RCI cruise and the first on a mid to larger size ship. We are a couple in our fifties and have caught the cruising bug. As the time drew near to start the cruise our expectations rose. I'd like to report they were ... Read More
This is our second RCI cruise and the first on a mid to larger size ship. We are a couple in our fifties and have caught the cruising bug. As the time drew near to start the cruise our expectations rose. I'd like to report they were all fulfilled!!! On the 8th of December we drove from Montgomery, Alabama to Atlanta, Georgia to catch our Air Trans flight to Ft Lauderdale. By taking late flights on both legs of the roundtrip we were able to get some great internet fares. You may ask why we drove to Atlanta when there is an airport in Montgomery. Basically, savings,savings,savings!!! I'll bet there are other cruisecritic members out there that have the same problem of having an airport that doesn't have any lower priced airlines flying in to it and having to travel miles to save money. We ended up saving (even after long term parking fees) about $200.00 over what Montgomery would have cost us. My thanks go out to Air Trans for their wonderfully competitive internet fares. Now comes the only bad experience of the cruise. We arrived at the Ft Lauderdale airport and called a Wyndham Hotel airport shuttle to come and pick us up. When we got to the hotel a big surprise awaited us. They had rented our room out!!!!! Before we left Montgomery I had checked with the Wyndham customer service on-line and they said late check in would be no problem. The clerk at the hotel said" we have you down for a 12:30 check in it's almost 1:20." Instead of getting angry, which a few of the other people that this had happened to did, I asked  "well can you get us a comparable room some where else?" This starts part two of the adventure. We were loaded back up on the Wyndham bus and driven to the Hyatt Resort in Weston, Fla. The driver did not know the area well and the directions given to him by the Wyndham desk clerk were hard to follow. To make a long story short, it took us about 40 minutes to make a 20 minute drive. One of the people on the bus finally got a hold of the Hyatt and had them talk us in. When we arrived at the Hyatt it was after three in the morning. Wyndham did pay for the room and part of the transportation to the dock the next day but an organization that big, and I am a Wyndham by request member, should have had its stuff together a lot better. When we arrived at Port Everglades the next morning (after a good nights sleep and in a lot better mood) we were amazed at how magnificent all the cruise ships looked. Our first comment when we saw the Radiance was "God what a beautiful ship!!" Embarkation: Embarkation went smoothly and in no time at all we were aboard. We are amazed at how smoothly RCI can move people on and off its ships. Great job!! I didn't hear if the instructions given to us in line were given in any other language besides English but Royal could start doing this since there were a few non English speaking people in line who looked confused. Once aboard the Radiance I was amazed at how light and airy the interior looked. I also like their use of inlaid wood as accent throughout the ship. The use of different grain and colored woods made for an understated elegance. The ships art work was fine but I didn't think it fit the decor well. The atrium was something to see as well as the elevators. Made you feel more like you were in a fine hotel rather then a ship. Some of the high points of the ship in my opinion are the colony club which is just rich and stately, the schooner bar, Hi Randy (my wife still thinks you're cute), the miniature golf course, which is one of the best I've ever played (especially the night of high winds) and the solarium which is a great place to decompress. We were pleasantly surprised by the size of our large ocean view cabin. At no time during the cruise did we feel cramped, the only thing really wrong in the room are those terrible mattresses. Please Royal do something about them!!. Everything in the room worked well. They might want to hang a plastic card in the showers with instructions on how to adjust the water with the faucet system they have. It took a few tries but we finally figured it out. Some of our cruising friends had the same problem. We had a bottle of chilled champagne waiting for us as part of the grand romance package and it made coming aboard that much better, I'll give the rest of my review about this package later. As far as the activities aboard ship we probably didn't partake in as many as some people but kudos to Royal for providing something for almost everyone to do. I especially enjoyed the Meet and Mingle, the comedians and reviews, and most of all, partaking in the International belly flop contest. What fun! Unlike some reviewers I find the diversity and quality of the food in the windjammer to be better then in the formal dining room. Except for the formal dining nights,(hi nikolas, our waiter) which were made better by our tablemates who were great, we ate in the windjammer. I wish I knew where Royal got its proscuitto; I'd have them send me 20 lbs. The Sea view cafe was a great find with really good sandwiches and onion rings and great outdoor deck seating with a good view. The shore excursions went from good to great: San Juan: Our rain forest tour was cancelled so we ended up on a San Juan bus tour. Our drivers name was Walter and you could tell he was passionate about his country. He was well steeped in the history and culture of Puerto Rico and San Juan and it made this stand in excursions quite interesting. Overall a good excursion. Antigua: Eco snorkel and kayak excursion. The bus ride over to the other side of the island was enjoyable. Once again the driver/ tour guide was passionate about his country and this made the ride that much more enjoyable. The new cricket stadium they're building is really beautiful and Antigua should be proud. The excursion starts at bungalow style building near a cove. The people and the building exuded a very welcoming attitude. The building is surrounded by tropical plants with many tropical small birds. The owner also has a parrot and I was lucky enough to get my picture taken holding it. There were probably more hummingbirds flitting around the place then I think I've ever seen in one place. We boarded our 24ft Carolina skiff and headed across the bay to a beautiful small island. There we hiked to the top of the island which gave a beautiful view of the bay and coves. After returning to the beach we donned our snorkel gear and walked/swam to the snorkeling area which was probably 300 ft away from the beach. Even when in deeper water you knew you were only about 30 ft from water depth you could stand in. I enjoyed this so much more then another snorkeling excursion I had been on Where they more or less plopped you out of the boat into 25-30 ft of water. We then got back in the boat and headed back across the bay to some mangrove coves where brightly colored ocean kayaks awaited us. We kayaked for about an hour and this was a lot of fun since while guided is more or less self paced. Along the way we saw and handled some of the largest starfish I have ever seen. After the kayaking we headed back to the bungalow where awaiting us on the pier was a man handing out cool damp hand towels (nice classy touch) and rum and fruit punch was served at the waiting area at the back of the bungalow. All and all a great excursion. St Thomas: We took the excursion to Magens Bay. While this was a nice beach and relaxing and even though it is touted as one of the "ten best beaches in the world" which I didn't think it was, it more or less ended up being a day at the beach. Not a bad excursion to rest up at after the kayak snorkeling adventure but still more like a day at the beach. A fair excursion. St Croix: Due to fighting seas and headwinds on the way down we had to make a stop for gas in St Croix. Lucky us, another country on itinerary for free!! Even though at night, I enjoyed the stilt walking performers and the street music. The dock shop area looked quite nice also. For an unscheduled stop, pretty darn good! St Maarten: Honestly I was lucky enough to take the best excursion by far I have ever taken here. We signed up for the 12 metre Yacht challenge and got to crew the 1987 America's Cup winning boat, the Stars and Stripes(U.S. 55). We raced two other boats and finished second. The combination of the beautiful boat, the exhilaration of crewing her, and the history involved made for a totally immersive experience. Just a marvelous and fantastic excursion. The professional crew of the boat was courteous, helpful, and about perfect. On a scale of one to ten I would give this excursion a 15!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Nassau: We took a beach getaway to Blackbeards Cay. If you notice a trend its strenuous excursion, relaxing excursion. We enjoyed Blackbeard Cay, but mainly just drank rum drinks, try a Goombay Smash they're delicious, and talked about what a wonderful cruise we had. Thanks to the shell necklace vendor on the beach who made a custom "tickle shell" bracelet for our 4 year old granddaughter. She really loves it!! Ft Lauderdale: Pulling back into Florida we were sad and really didn't want the cruise to be over. Disembarkation went smooth and we were soon off the ship. Our transportation to the airport was provided by 4 season's limo service in a Lincoln town car and would like to thank the driver for a great price and for being such a nice guy. I highly recommend them. We were lucky enough to catch an earlier flight back to Atlanta then scheduled, thanks Calvin at Air Trans, and flew back to Atlanta. When we went to start our car in the parking lot the battery was dead! (We had left the overhead light on in our excitement). We didn't know this but after checking with the parking lot shuttle driver we found out that Atlanta airport provides jumpstarts. The customer courtesy guy came out and had us jumped and running within 15 minutes (free), I don't know if it's like this at all major airports but hats off to Atlanta airport from us, you guys are great! The only other thing I want to mention is the grand romance package. We thoroughly enjoyed the champagne, robes, flowers, chocolate covered strawberries and the breakfast in bed. The only thing I wish they would change is different choices in the canapés or something else besides the canapés. They were not up to the class of the rest of the package. In summary, a glorious cruise full of great memories, fantastic excursions, and best of all, getting to meet and make some wonderful friends. Read Less
Sail Date December 2006
The Ship The Radiance is a beautiful ship. We sailed on her three years ago and she still looks new. The service was top notch, our stateroom was clean and well maintained, the food was exquisite, and the Captain was a ... Read More
The Ship The Radiance is a beautiful ship. We sailed on her three years ago and she still looks new. The service was top notch, our stateroom was clean and well maintained, the food was exquisite, and the Captain was a "Hurly-Gurly" nut. Our only complaints would be that the shows seemed a tad stale and overdone and there seemed to be a lot more emphasis on upselling products and services than I remember. My massage was good, but the last five minutes were consumed with selling me $350 worth of aroma therapy skin care. The Port Visits San Juan - Only there for four hours, and that was enough. Over crowded, dirty, and about as exotic as visiting Atlantic City. St. John, Antigua - Beautiful and relaxing. One of the only two Excursion Tours we took. We went on the Mini Boat tour to "Hidden Beaches." The mini boats were a lot of fun and the staff there were very cautious. My wife was having some hip problems and they were extremely helpful. The shopping in town was good, extended my wife's jewelry collection as usual. St. Thomas, USVI - Took a guided taxi tour of the island and did some more jewelry shopping. The tour was very interesting, I was here 20 some years ago with the Navy and it has grown. The shops in town were a but more cramped than Antigua, but I think the prices were better. St. Maarten - Spent the entire day at Orient Bay, which is on the French side of the Island, My wife was surprised when a man wearing only a ball cap strolled by, until I explained that it was a "clothes optional' beach. I have found that at these places the people you wouldn't mind naked are covered and the ones that should be covered aren't. But overall it was a nice relaxed day after the previous two days of marathon shopping. Nassau, Bahamas - We took a cab directly to the Atlantis Hotel on Paradise Island. After seeing it on the Travel Channel and in a few movies (After The Sunset and others) we knew we wanted to explore it. Be prepared to shell out $29 per person to get into most of the grounds, but we thought it was well worth the expense. The tunnel through the lagoon provided the opportunity for several great shots of sharks and such swimming overhead and all around. I recommend that you get there early though because when the tours start arriving it gets too crowded. Fort Lauderdale, Florida - This was our embarkation/debarkation point but we did take a tour there. The other of the two I mentioned. We always try to take a tour in the debarkation port as those passengers get off first and the day seems less wasted. Otherwise you just sit around waiting for your luggage group to be called. The tours all end at the airport so it also saves to taxi fare. We went on the Inter-coastal canal tour and saw several beautiful multi-million dollar homes and yachts. Coincidentally, one that we saw, The Floridian, owned by Wayne Huizenga, was featured later that evening on a show about mega yachts. Overall the tour was educational and very interesting. Accommodations We booked the Days Inn Bahia Cabana Beach Resort through Hotels.com as we were not that familiar with Fort Lauderdale hotels. This was hands down the worst experience of the entire cruise. First we were told when checking in we would be staying in another building down the street. They provided no assistance, even though my wife was on a cane and we had several large suitcases. The directions they gave were vague enough to cause me to walk four blocks down the wrong street. (She told me it was 2 buildings down from the Yankee Clipper, she didn't bother to tell me that there were two Yankee Clippers, I naturally chose the wrong one) Once we found the room, forty minutes later, it was completely uninhabitable. We stayed in the room only long enough to call around for another hotel with a vacancy. We then went to the Hollywood Holiday Inn. Everything that the Days Inn lacked, they had. The customer service was superb, the Accommodations were clean, spacious, and luxurious. I would stay there again in a heart beat. I will say that as they only had one room left when we called, they gave us a suite at the regular room rate, and allowed us to book the same for when we returned from the cruise. I highly recommend that if you stay there, ask for room 612. It is by far the nicest suite in the place, and one of the nicest I have ever stayed in. Flights Flew American Airlines and all my flights were either over sold or completely booked. I know that all airlines have cut back, but I have seen better service on the so called discount carriers like Southwest. Our final leg of the return trip from LA to San Diego was cancelled due to fog so we had to rent a car. Hertz was very helpful and rented me an HHR to get me home. The car is very roomy, with the back seats folded down I could have packed twice as much luggage. And it got about 30 MPG coming down. Insurance We had purchased travel insurance through Travelex since I booked this cruise nine months in advance and am glad I did. Just found out that they are covering the cost of the rental car. American refused to refund any amount of the airfare as the flight was cancelled due to weather, not through their fault. Summary Even with the problems we had coming and going, I would do it all again. Once on board Royal caribbean provided us with a fun and relaxing week. Read Less
Sail Date November 2006
If you have read Zawickiedawg's review, you have the facts about the weather and the usual incidents of this cruise. I will not repeat them. This is our fifth cruise on Royal Caribbean and our first on Radiance of the Seas. Like her ... Read More
If you have read Zawickiedawg's review, you have the facts about the weather and the usual incidents of this cruise. I will not repeat them. This is our fifth cruise on Royal Caribbean and our first on Radiance of the Seas. Like her sister, Jewel of the Seas which we experienced last year\ar, Radiance is a beautiful ship. Radiance has the friendliest crew that we have experienced - from the Captain to the cabin stewards. How many Captains participate in a cake building contest complete with a food fight with his opponent that spilled into the audience in the Centrum - the Captain of the Radiance of the Seas did. Keiren Buffery was the best Cruise Director we have experienced. He had great interaction with the guests including a sing-a-long in the Scooner Bar. Let's get back to the beginning, embarkation. We arrived by plane and took a cab (15 minutes) to the terminal. The terminal was not the primary RC terminal that we had used for past cruises. This was clearly a secondary terminal and it showed. The terminal was run down and it took 30 minutes to get through check-in and onto the ship via deck five rather than though the usual deck four entry into the Centrum. We were on the ship by 1:30 and our room was ready. We changed into the shorts we had in our carry-on and met the rest of our group of 6 for a late lunch in the Windjammer. The Windjammer on Radiance is a modern,well organized buffet. We found the food to be very good and better than we have experienced in other Windjammers. The pastries from breakfast rolls to sugar free desserts were excellent. For the first time, we ate dinner one night in the Windjammer and it was also excellent. The Cascades dining room is beautiful and our waiter, Marlon, and his assistant, Fernando, provided excellent service all week. The food was very good, We had never visited the primary destinations of this cruise: Puerto Rico. St. Maarten, Antigua, and St. Thomas. In each port we hired a taxi ($25/person) rather that take an excursion. Maybe we just lucked out, but each of the drivers could not have been nicer. In Antigua, on the 25th anniversary of their independence. Bernard took us all around the island. The trip up to Shirley Heights, the highest spot on Antigua was quite a ride: narrow road with no guardrails and lined with free-ranging goats. In St. Maarten we took a ship-sponsored excursion: the 12 meter challenge. This was not the tour of the butterfly farm or the bus to the nude beach. This was the real deal: racing a million dollar America's cup yacht. We crewed a Canadian boat, True North, in a race against the US boat, Stars and Stripes, the winner of the 1987 America's cup, You work as part of the crew( I was a rear main grinder) and it was an exhilarating 3 hours! I cannot imagine a better excursion, even the bus to the nude beach. Oh, we won by 3 seconds. Our last port of call was Nassau - been there, done that. But wait, they have cleaned up the old place and run the peddlers off the wharf. Nobody asked if they could braid our hair or give us a water taxi ride. They even have a Starbucks! Back on the boat, we were successful in persuading the Cruise Director to end the incessant broadcast of soccer games in the sports bar and televise three American football games including Ohio State v. Illinois. Go Bucks! Disembarkation was the easiest ever. 15 minutes from when we were called to the taxi. Here's a tip: find a porter. He will transport your luggage, get you through customs in a special shorter line and get you in the first taxi. A $15 tip made us both happy. In summary: Great ship; best crew ever; fantastic destinations. I'd do it again tomorrow. Read Less
Sail Date October 2006
Review of Radiance of the Seas, 8-day eastern Caribbean cruise, October 28, 2006 - November 5, 2006 First, a breakdown of the ship: The Room - I was pleasantly surprised that the D1 category room was a bit more accommodating than I ... Read More
Review of Radiance of the Seas, 8-day eastern Caribbean cruise, October 28, 2006 - November 5, 2006 First, a breakdown of the ship: The Room - I was pleasantly surprised that the D1 category room was a bit more accommodating than I was expecting. Blame the fact that my last 4 cruises were in minisuites, but even though the D1 is slightly larger than the standard balcony room, I was really expecting worse. Entering, there are 3 closet doors to the right, and the bathroom door on the left. Then the desk/vanity on the right, with drawers and mirrored cabinet doors on both sides, and on the left, a full-length couch (ours was not the pull-out variety for a 3rd person). Next to the desk on the right was a full height console, with minifridge below, TV just above, and a large cabinet at the top with your safe and an extra shelf for storage. Along the trailing outside edge of this console was a shelf unit with 5 smaller rounded shelves. The beds on the left were positioned close to the window  nicely the beds were separated from the couch and vanity area by thick full-length curtains which could completely bisect the room. And at the balcony doors were another set of thick curtains to seal out light from outside. The Closet - The first closet door opened to 6 wide and decently high slanted shelves, while the other two opened to the clothes pole. There was plenty of closet room for two people's clothes  I left the drawers in the room to the female and easily stacked my dresser goods on the shelves in the closet. The pole was high enough for men's slacks and women's gowns to hang off the floor, and plenty of shoe room beneath. The Bathroom - Small and efficient, typical Royal Caribbean. Small sink, small medicine cabinet, under-sink shelf for bulk, small angled toilet, and small round shower. The shower was a half-circle, with the other half being the curtain which does tend to become intimate with you when you shower&but there's enough room to spin around and the showerhead is the handheld variety so you can access everything. The water in the shower was able to get very hot, and had good pressure too. The Balcony - This is why I love the aft cabins! Access is through a single sliding door, with the other door fixed. The balcony was very deep, equipped with two small chairs and a small end table. It was at least 6 feet to the rail from the door, and another 3 feet extended out under the rail because of the diagonal slope of the glass. Width was probably 7 feet. We requested recliners from our cabin attendant, and he had them on the balcony by the evening turn-down on that first day. The balcony easily handled two recliners, as well as the two chairs and table, with room to walk around them all. Roughly half of the balcony is covered from the deck above, with the other half extending beyond and visible from other decks  nice to have both choices. The right side of the balcony was a steel bulkhead, and the left was a glass divider that you couldn't see through, or under. The balconies next door could see into yours if they stood at the rail and looked around intentionally, since the dividers were slanted back. The Ship - The Centrum is beautiful stretching from deck 4 to deck 11, with nice space at the bottom for a piano stand and musicians and seating throughout plus a lobby bar. Water flows down the aft sides, and the glass elevators run on the port side. Along the Centrum, on deck 4 are Guest Relations & purser, Deck 5 the Cafe Latte-tudes and RCCL Online, Deck 6 the Champagne bar, Deck 7 Business Services, Deck 8 Explorer's Court, Deck 9 Library, Deck 10 Yacht Club and Concierge Club, and Deck 11 the pool deck. The Aurora Lounge was the typical two-deck show lounge, with good viewpoints from most of the seats and a wide stage. I personally prefer the lounges that have love-seats and couch seating for groups and friends, as opposed to the single theater-style seating as in the Aurora&but otherwise a fine theater. The Colony Club/Schooner Bar is a beautiful space  entering through the ship's skeleton hull flanked by cannons and powder kegs, and into the long schooner bar decorated with riggings and masts, the Schooner also doubled as the nighttime piano bar. Behind the Schooner bar itself, the two special dining restaurants, Chops and Portofino's. Continuing aft, you pass through the billiard room, with two leveled tables, plus two couches and televisions on the other side showing sports games. Then into the Colony Club lounge, with bar, game/card room, main dance floor, another larger aft bar, and lots of mixed couch/chair seating all along the big rear windows - a very nice space for daytime bingo, midday events, and nighttime acts and music. Definitely my favorite lounge space on the ship. The Casino had plenty of slots, ranging even down to penny and nickel slots, and up to $5 slots. Tables were arranged throughout the center poker and blackjack well accommodated, but only one roulette table, as well as other assorted casino tables. My only gripe here was the layout of the tables on the starboard forward entrance into the casino this was a main traffic artery for people passing through the casino flanked by slots on one side, and tables on the other. With people seated at the tables and slots, there was just enough space for one person at a time to pass through&a real bottleneck throughout the cruise. Yet, strangely, behind the tables, the dealers had more than 6-8 feet of empty space before the wall with far more room than needed. These tables really should be backed up a few feet, leaving plenty of room for the dealers and opening up that horrible bottleneck. The Sports Bar was just forward of the casino always packed on this cruise with the college and NFL football fans the bar is circular and flanked by chairs and couches, with plenty of televisions to watch different sporting events. The Starquest/Crown Lounge, at the top of the ship, was a very large space with large dance floor, big rotating bar, tables all around, and a step-down ringing 230 degrees around the outside windows with couches and chairs. Most late-night club and dance music was held here, along with special late-night events on theme nights. Tucked into the port-aft corner of this lounge is a separate and smaller side lounge with bar, piano, and small dance floor this space also substituted for the Concierge Lounge from 5:30 - 8:30pm each evening to accommodate the large Diamond/Diamond Plus crowd's free cocktails (the Concierge Club downstairs would be too small to accommodate, and has no bar facilities). Overall, a nice place and great nighttime bar. During the day, it is mostly empty, which would make it a decent spot to read, or cool off while watching the pool deck below  but one small gripe: all day long, they piped in reggae/dancehall/rap music up there&which would be fine, except the pool-deck band is clearly and loudly audible up there too&which would also be fine on its own. But sitting in the Starquest in the afternoon meant your ears had to be assaulted by dueling reggae/dancehall music  with the pool band and dancehall over the speakers at nearly equal volume. They really should turn off the piped-in music while the band downstairs is playing that's probably the main reason that lounge stays so empty during the day (every other RCCL cruise I've been on, that room has remained popular during the day with readers and people wanting to cool off. The Cascades Dining Room - very elegant, beautiful space. I like the large mural on the aft wall, the curtains flowing down the columns throughout the open central atrium, and the double staircases flanking the flowing waterfall. Tables seemed well arranged, enough to allow room to walk throughout the tables without asking anyone to scoot in. Access on decks 4 or 5 from either port or starboard. Our table for 4 on deck 5 starboard side had a couch on one side and two chairs on the other a nice touch. Outside decks - the Solarium was beautiful Asian elephants, waterfalls, columns, hardwoods and greenery beautifully designed and decorated, and mostly quiet all the time, devoid of the children, pool music, or daily contests. The starboard side included the small cafe, serving pizza, wraps, or hotdogs, and the port side had a nice bar. On our cruise, it remained covered throughout, allowing the air conditioning to keep it reasonable in the hot Caribbean. The main pool deck was always crowded and popular, with bars on decks 11 and 12, and lots of chairs all around. The sports deck area, with ball court, rock climbing, children's center, and minigolf is to the aft, with the Seaview Cafe tucked in behind the children's play area (on Brilliance, this cafe served wraps, gourmet deli sandwiches, salads, etc  on the Radiance, it served more American fare, burgers, chicken wings, chili, fries, etc). Lots of viewing decks at the front of the ship, with deck 11 wrapping around, a drop-down to a narrow deck 10 viewing deck, a deck 12 wrap around, and the upper deck 13 which also included the more adult sunning area. And of course, on Promenade deck 5, there are chairs all along the two sides, and all the way forward you can go up a flight of stairs to access the helicopter pad on the bow. Windjammer - I've never been much of a Windjammer person  it's probably the space on every ship that has the largest crowd most of the time. Since I rarely eat breakfasts, and like smaller lunches, I was rarely tempted to fight the Calcutta-bus-station-like crowd who seem to occupy this room from 6am to 8pm, taking in food intravenously non-stop. The 4 times I ate there, I found the space very comfortably laid out  plenty of service areas, and a nice outdoor (covered) dining area all the way around the aft of the ship as well as the indoor and a/c space in the middle. Food was good by my standards  no complaints  though I mostly made a salad or grabbed a sandwich or wrap. Unfortunately it was usually a very crowded space, and I tended to visit only on in-port days when the crowd was off the ship. Food: As already mentioned, I was fine with Windjammer's selection, though I never really tried the full hot meal selection, so I can't comment on that. The sandwiches and wraps were good, salad materials cold and fresh, hot dogs and omelets fresh to order, and more than enough selection for me. I never tried Seaview Cafe's selections  I had been hoping it was more like Brilliance, but seemed to be geared more towards snack-like stuff and kids' fare. I occasionally grabbed pizza at the Solarium  not NY style, but good taste and usually freshly baked, plus a decent selection of pizza toppings each day. In the main dining room, I only ever ate dinner  so I can't speak for lunches and breakfasts. I found the dinner selections to be good, and food of good quality. Soups and sauces were quite good in my opinion, meats always cooked properly to order, and a decent selection each night for picky eaters. Deserts were decent  some hits and some misses, but overall quite good (coffee crème brulee was quite delicious). The roast duck stood out, as did the steak bernaise. Servings were at times a bit smaller than experienced on other cruises but they were always more than willing to serve double entrees on request. The new trend of serving the bread by the piece as opposed to leaving the bread dish on the table seems a bit silly and certainly limits the amount of bread most people eat as it doesn't come around often. Overall, I thought the food was quite good, and had a very positive dining experience. Staff: Our cabin attendant Steve, from Goa (India), was excellent, and nearly transparent. We never bumped into him working on the room when we wanted access, yet somehow the room was always made up or turned down exactly when it was supposed to be. He was also graciously able to provide the two chaise lounge chairs for the balcony on the first day, and was always readily available for any request within a minute. Excellent steward! Our waitstaff were Jerry and Lyn, from the Philippines. Our waiter Jerry was friendly, quick, and willing to cater to any request. Assistant waiter Lyn was always where she was needed, refilling drinks, opening wine, bringing bread, and cleaning up. Jerry and Lyn were a couple which really seemed to make them work perfectly together. Service was always perfect and Jerry was very accommodating to requests for extra entrees, different appetizers, and special orders for all of his tables. Concierge Club attendant Willie was excellent as a concierge, as a bartender, and as a pianist and guitarist as well! Always accommodating, and funny at cocktail time, the regular Diamond crowd wouldn't miss a day before or after dinner on deck 13 at Willie's bar. Itinerary - Day by Day cruise breakdown: Day 1  as a local, I didn't have to worry about arranging flights to the ship I was lucky enough to be able to sleep in, have a nice breakfast, leave my house around 1:30pm, and take a 25 minute ride to Port Everglades and the ship. Arriving at 2pm or so, the lines for check-in were no more than 10 people deep  and they seemed to be processing quickly. Fortunately, the C&A Diamond lane was empty and awaiting us, so we were able to walk right up to a check-in desk and board (friends of mine who were not Diamond members told me they were about 15 minutes behind us in the regular line so still pretty quick). Coming into the ship on deck 5 (Promenade), and entering the Centrum, we climbed two flights of stairs to deck 7, and started the long trek aft to our room, 7176. I love aft-facing rooms for the quiet and the view, but fair warning to anyone who can't do long walks the first stairs or elevators you can access are the ones in the Centrum at midship so you'll be making that half-a-ship long walk to and from your room many times a day! I didn't mind the walking and thought the room was worth it, but those with walking issues should be aware. Cabin 7176 sits just about dead-center in the aft it was just as easy to get to from the starboard or port hallway from the Centrum. Day 2  at sea. Just a nice day to relax, sun, read, or whatever it is you like to do. Weather was hot and clear, seas were calm. That night was formal night dress up time! Day 3  San Juan, Puerto Rico. Not being a big tour person, I elected to walk into Old San Juan, and enjoy the 400-500 year old architecture and sights. Gate of San Juan, the city walls, Iglesia de San Jose and remains of Ponce de Leon, El Morro fortress, the old city squares, pigeon park, and lots of shops all along the way. It was hot&a light sunshower lasted a few minutes, but otherwise good weather and a favorite stop of mine. Day 4  Phillipsburg, St. Maarten. Slightly crowded with two other large ships in port with us  I just walked into Phillipsburg along the marina and beach boardwalk, then up and down Front Street shops before heading back to the ship sweating and looking forward to a cool drink. Casual night for dinner. Day 5  St. John, Antigua. Finally someplace I hadn't been to yet! St. John was not really different from any other Caribbean city  lots of shops, crowded, nice near the docks and not as nice the farther you get from it. I was happy to find a cab and negotiate a rate to Falmouth Bay and English Harbor on the south end of the island. A roughly 30 minute drive through the lush fertile farming and grazing heart of the island, through small and pretty villages, poor but nice little homes, one rough spot (where a local official had been shot and killed by police answering a domestic, causing lots of local anger the road had been blocked, and a bonfire was lit with loud music and lots of angry looking people our cabdriver deftly negotiated narrow neighborhood roads around the problem area), and finally to the absolutely beautiful English Harbor. Nelson's dockyards are wonderfully restored to their Napoleonic colonial era glory, and the harbor itself is beautiful. Shirley Heights provides a beautiful view of the island and neighboring islands. I would love to go again, and would immediately go back to English Harbor to spend more time. This night was Halloween aboard normally casual night, but costumes were quite common, and on board Halloween parties followed. Day 6  St. Thomas, U.S.V.I. we were late coming in, and docked about 2 hours later than expected a lack of pilot boats was blamed as there were 4 vessels there that day. Having been there dozens of times, I decided to find a cab ride to Mountaintop for some panoramic pictures, then head into town for some shopping. I ended up getting a cab with 8 other people who wanted to get to Sapphire Beach, and since I wasn't in a rush, I just went along for the ride. After dropping them off, the cabbie took me to several viewpoints and then to Mountaintop. Afterwards, I got dropped off in Charlotte Amalie, shopped for a few hours, then caught a cab back to the ship. All in all, a very nice day. Sailing out, the seas were glass and another fantastic sunset, then casual night for dinner. That night we had a medical emergency onboard, and made an unscheduled detour to San Juan, where we stayed a mile or so off the harbor and a tug came out to transfer the passenger to the hospital. We got moving again, though the captain was unsure what that might do to our schedule in Nassau. Day 7  At sea  another relaxing day to enjoy reading, sunning, and eating. Calm day, no rain, very nice. That night was formal again nice that they scheduled those on the at-sea days. Apparently at some point that night, we had another medical emergency aboard in the Champagne bar, where someone had to have CPR performed but I never learned the full details, and it didn't involve any detours. That night, seas turned from glassy to bumpy, and in the early morning hours the ship was rocking and rolling pretty good (I slept like a baby and didn't mind the motion, but my friends aboard who haven't sailed as much said they were a bit queasy and found it even a little scary that doors were opening and stuff on counters was falling down. Day 8  Nassau  we were a few hours late coming into Nassau because of our medical emergency detour, and that morning was some ugly weather. Seas were running 20-25 feet, winds were blowing a near-constant 40-50 knots. Visiting Windjammer for my first breakfast, the crowd was down (possibly because of the foul weather and lots of movement)&as we neared Nassau harbor, the ship was leaning 5-10 degrees to starboard for 30 minutes or more as those winds battered the port side&just a light lean but you were aware that everything was leaning in one direction. Then around 10:45, the ship lurched much harder to starboard, and things got messy. Dishes, glasses, food, and silverware crashed to the floor in Windjammer, at Bingo the board fell over, at many bars, the bottles and glasses fell and crashed, and the pool emptied its top third of water which ran down the starboard deck to the glass windows, where it sloshed up and soaked the few people sitting back there. We finally made the sheltered harbor, but the skies stayed grey and the winds raged all day. I never bothered to get off the ship been there too often and with the weather that foul, there was nothing I really felt the need to see or do. That night was casual again, and the seas calmed a bit the ride back home was fairly smooth with just a light roll. Of course, the night wasn't perfectly calm, when at 2:45am the speakers throughout the ship called out Bravo Bravo Bravo, Windjammer port 4 several times which I knew to be a fire call. The captain was very quick to come on and announce that there was a fire, but that it was controlled at the moment and more info would follow but not to panic or evacuate. Not too long after, the captain came back to announce the fire was isolated to a dishwasher with an electrical fire, that burned up but did not damage anything else. I had a pillow over my head and tried to sleep through the announcements but my mother was less than calm and wanted to get dressed and get out of the aft of the ship (despite 105+ cruises, she has a complete phobia of fires especially at sea). Day 9  due to the late-night announcements interrupting us, I decided I was sleeping in, announcements-be-darned. They want you out of the rooms by 8am, but I decided to push that as long as I could. I slept until 8:30, showered, got changed, packed the last of my carry-on, and then heard the Lavendar announcement for debarking at around 9:15am. That was my color, so I called our ride, left the room, went down two flights of stairs, hung a left turn, and walked off the boat! Talk about a smooth and wonderful departure. Customs was only a few minutes, found my luggage below in 5 minutes, and a porter brought us around the side of the terminal building. 10 minutes later, our ride arrived, we loaded up the car, and were home by 10:10am. View my photos at:    http://www.pbase.com/zackiedawg/radiance_of_the_seas_nov_2006 That's my cruise! Read Less
Sail Date October 2006
I have no comparisons because this was my first cruise but it was the best dollar I've ever spent. The Radiance is a beautiful ship with lots of glass so the sights are wonderful all the time. The whole experience from going on the ... Read More
I have no comparisons because this was my first cruise but it was the best dollar I've ever spent. The Radiance is a beautiful ship with lots of glass so the sights are wonderful all the time. The whole experience from going on the ship to leaving the ship was great. I'm not going to go in depth with the review because you should experience the Radiance yourself. The service was the best service I've ever seen and experienced. They truly made the cruise very enjoyable. The dinning staff was our favorite because they were so personable and friendly, however everyone on the boat was. The food is great in the dinning room. I often attend fine restaurants and this was better than any restaurant that I have attended. The options are great and the menu has a great variety of foods. Our group ate there every night. The Windjammer also has a great selection and again the food was great for both breakfast and lunch. Again a very wide variety of great food. Buffets were great at night. You better workout a lot before you attend this boat because they will have to roll you home because the food was so good all the time. The entertainment was outstanding all the time. So many things to do, honestly 7 days is not enough but that's ok because I'll have to do the Radiance again. The ports were San Juan, St. Thomas, St. Maarten, and Nassau. They were great ports that were beautiful. Again there are so many things to do in the ports also. This was my first cruise and I already booked a southern cruise on the Adventure Of The Seas. The people on the boat are wonderful and the experience was the great. I've traveled a lot but cruising is worth every dollar. ADVICE: -Don't be cheap, I heard complaints from people about costs onboard but I'm still wondering how RCCL make money.......buy the pictures, go to the casino, drink tropical drinks and just enjoy life when you are away on the Radiance -Figure out another cruise you might want to attend before you leave and book it on the boat because its a good deal. -Board the boat early, arrive at Noon and you will get right on to look at the ship. -Workout before you leave b/c you eat all the time. Read Less
Sail Date March 2004
Radiance of the Seas, 1/18/04 sailing, Eastern Caribbean 7 days is NOT long enough! To preface this review, we had a group of 8, my wife's parents, who are in their 70's and 2 of my wife's sisters with their husbands, ... Read More
Radiance of the Seas, 1/18/04 sailing, Eastern Caribbean 7 days is NOT long enough! To preface this review, we had a group of 8, my wife's parents, who are in their 70's and 2 of my wife's sisters with their husbands, who are late 30's to early 40's and my wife, Joni and me who are in our late 40's. The 2 sisters and husbands had cruised with Carnival previously and it was the parents and our first cruise. Most of this will be from our perspective with occasional observations from the in-laws. Pre-cruise: We flew from Dallas to Ft. Lauderdale on Saturday and stayed at the Hyatt Pier 66. We got an excellent price, with the info received on the CC boards, from Priceline, then upgraded to a tower room. We requested a room that overlooked Port Everglades and had to wait till one became available. It was worth the wait! We were on the 9th floor with a perfect view of the ships, particularly the Golden Princess, a beautiful ship. We purchased several bottles of wine from the liquor store across the street for the trip and returned to our balcony to watch the ships sail at sunset, talk about putting you in a cruse frame of mind! We has a wonderful dinner at 15th Street Fisheries then returned to the hotel to dream of the week ahead. I'm an early riser, so I got up at sunrise hoping to catch my first view of the Radiance and I saw her already docked in the early morning sun...wow! We had some coffee on the balcony watching the activity in the harbor then a leisurely breakfast before heading to port. Embarkation: We arrived in the RCI terminal around 11:15 and it was packed. Apparently there had been some delays in the disembarkation of the previous cruise and they weren't letting folks on yet. There did seem to be some confusion with the RCI staff as to who to let on when, and one side of the holding area didn't seem to be talking to the other side very effectively. This turned out to be my first glimpse of cruise personalities that I will talk about later. Actually, this turned out to be a good thing for us, because we met Mark and Krista from Canada, who we ended up spending some time with during the week. Once we were allowed to go through security the rest of the procedure was quick and effortless. For you first timers, unlike what I was expecting, the sequence is; security, your "welcome aboard" photo, check in, your sea pass photo and then onto the ship. Incidentally, the rest of our group arrived at about 2pm that day and said they just walked on, no waiting at all. Boarding and Day 1: I had done lots and lots of research for this trip and knew the ship maps pretty well. We entered the ship on deck 5 at the Centrum; there was live music playing there and someone pointing you in the right direction. We took the elevator up to deck 7 and turned right to our cabin, 7108. My carry on was extremely heavy (see the mention above about buying several bottles of wine) so I was anxious to get rid of it. We walked into our room and wow! 7108 is an E1 balcony room on the hump just aft of the elevator. I checked out the oversized balcony was very excited then we began to unpack our carryon's. Here is where I will mention the most helpful "must bring" items that I learned from CC. The first being ziplock bags, we actually used the hefty 2 gallon variety and it made packing much easier and also a good place for dirty clothes, a travel alarm clock, but the big winner was the over the door shoe hanger! The room has a surprising amount of storage and we had pretty much found plenty of room for everything and were thinking we wouldn't even use it, but then we discovered it's first use that I hadn't even seen on the boards, it makes a great wine rack. Then we started to put all those things we wanted easy access, cameras, binoculars, books, suntan lotion, etc. It was great; we hung it on the outside of the closet door, and it helped us keep our room neat all week. One other tip that I didn't learn here, open your suitcases and slide them under the bed from the foot, and they will be out of the way all week. Wow, if I go on this long about unpacking then this will be a long review. Anyway, now we are off to explore the ship. First we go to the dining room to check on our table, a 10 person round table right at the base of the grand stairway. The dining room is spectacular! We run into Mark and Krista and check out their table as well. Then we go to Chops and make reservations for Wednesday night and check out the Colony Club while we are back there. We are both impressed with just the overall beauty of everything on board. After that we make our way all the way up to deck 13 to the Viking Crown, but they were having some sort of event in there, so we walked around the putt putt course and down to deck 12 to the heath club and finally got our first drink at the sky bar. Hot Spices, the pool side band, was playing some calypso music, but there were dark clouds coming in over Ft. Lauderdale. We headed to the Windjammer for lunch and met up with Mark and Krista again. We had a wonderful lunch with them as we watched the clouds open up and it poured! Mark and Krista took off just about the time Joni's family showed up. We all chatted for a while then headed to our rooms to get ready for the muster drill. We all went through the muster drill fairly painlessly and returned to our room for the sailing. This is when I first met out room steward Dennis. I asked if he could bring a couple of extra chairs for the balcony and a larger bucket for ice for champagne, he did so in a very short period of time and thanks to a tip from CC I had brought phone cards for "bonus" tips, which I gave him 1. Dennis was wonderful all through the week. Then I ran down to the champagne bar and got 8 champagne glasses for our balcony bon voyage party. The balcony was plenty big enough for all 8 of us with 4 chairs and a table. The rain stopped and the ship set sail at 5:30 as we popped the cork and toasted the week ahead! It was fun sailing out of Ft Lauderdale, you go by a couple of the beach hotels in the channel out and they were all waving and yelling flashing lights etc as you sailed off. We finished our champagne and headed to dinner. We had early seating at table 450 with Murat and Margarita as our waiter and assistant waitress. I am certain we had the 2 best in the dining room; both of them were fantastic all week long. Despite the fact I brought wine, we split the 7 bottle wine package with Joni's parents, so for most nights we had the bottle from the wine package as our first bottle and the one I brought as a second bottle, worked out very well, as the sisters and their husbands didn't drink wine. I will comment on the dinner in the food section later. After dinner we went back to our room, to the first minor snafu that I was pretty much expecting. Our luggage had not been delivered yet. I had changed rooms after the cruise documents had gone out and the luggage tags had the former room on them. I called guest services, and sure enough the luggage had gone to the wrong room. It was remedied in minutes. We finished unpacking and headed to the Aurora Theater for the welcome aboard show. It was pretty good with an intro video, a production number by the Royal Caribbean Singers and Dancers, the Royal Caribbean Band and a comedian who was very good. And we met our cruise director Angie Glaser. This was where I first noticed motion in the ship, and we seemed to be rolling pretty well. I thought it was possibly because we were in the very front of the ship, but soon discovered it was because of the rough seas. After the show, I took the sisters and husbands on a tour of the upper decks, where we discovered a very, very strong wind up on decks 12 and 13. We were also amazed at how fast the ship was going. Of course we compensated the rocking motion with several trips to the bars, which seem to work out well. We went to bed and I had a difficult time sleeping due to the rocking and the creaking in our cabin. The next morning it was still rocking and the wind was still howling as I went out on the balcony. I was estimating the seas at 15 feet easily and we were still doing 24 knots. It was a sea day, and room service had just brought a pot of coffee (which was good coffee) and life was good. We found out later in the week that there were some heavy storms that the Captain was outrunning. At this point I'm going to change the format, as I'm sure a blow by blow of every day will turn into a short novel. Instead I will go into categories, which hopefully will cover all the important info. In no particular order: Meet and Mingle: Our Meet and Mingle party was scheduled at 11am that first morning in the Starquest lounge on deck 13. We had a fairly active roll call thread and all seem to be partiers. The group had already decided to meet on their own for bloody mary's at the pool bar at 10am. This was a very good introduction process for everyone and what a great bunch! After getting acquainted and a couple/few bloody mary's we all paraded, literally, up to the Starquest. They had juice and Danish set up and a raffle for some prizes that I didn't win, so I'm sure it was fixed! All and all a nice event, and a very good group of CC participants that I enjoyed running into all through the week. Cabins: In our group, we had an E1, an E3 balcony, as well as 2 interior cabins all on deck 7. The only differences between them were the E3 balcony was shallower and over the lifeboat covers. The interior cabins had the advantage of no balcony door so the bed was shifted to the end of the cabin giving you a little more space. All were very comfortable, well laid out and attractive. The only design flaw I found was the bathroom door and the closet door opened into each other, making getting ready for dinner more challenging when you want in the closet and your wife wants in the bathroom, or visa versa. The bathroom was very functional and I didn't think the shower curtain was quite as "friendly" as some of the people have said before. Coffee: I thought the coffee was fine everywhere I had it, including room service, Windjammer and the main dining room. Food: After everything I have read about the quality of food from RCI having gone downhill, I was pleasantly surprised. Main Dining Room: Every night the food was good to excellent. Presentation was always very good. Murat and Margarita were the absolute best, being professional and fun, anticipating our needs making good recommendations. I think Murat may have deviated off the wine package list one night. We always went with his suggestion and were always pleased. Deserts were to die for! The only disappointing dish I had was the roast lamb on Italian night, and that was after sampling my wife's rack of lamb in Chops the night before. I had 2 appetizers most nights in lieu of a salad. Windjammer: We ate there every morning and a few lunches, always a good selection, better than your average buffet service. I'm sure I didn't see it all. Seaview Cafe: We went on our second sea day and it was very crowded. I had a Reuben sandwich, which was ok, not great. I liked the Windjammer better. Chops: Excellent, I would say on the level of a better steak house, such as a Sullivan's. I had a veal chop that was probably 16 ounces and Joni had rack of lamb. From appetizer to dessert, it was all superb! Service: I can't say enough good things on this one. Kudos to the three I know, Dennis our cabin steward, Murat our waiter, Margarita our assistant waiter and the bartender at the champagne bar who gave me the champagne glasses, they were all great. Everyone seem to be genuinely interested in making sure you were taken care of and happy. Themes and Dress: Sunday-casual Monday- Formal (I would say at early seating it was about 10% Tux, 60% Suits, 20% Sports Jackets, 10% other. Late seating seem to be a little more dressier) I think this was disco night.- Love and Marriage Tuesday-casual Caribbean Night Big late night buffet by the pool Wednesday-casual Country Western Night-Quest Thursday-Formal (Seemed less dressed up as much) I think it was the chocolate buffet Friday-Lobster night- Smart Casual (No different than casual) 50's Sock Hop Saturday-casual-Final night L Events: I was totally surprised and overwhelmed at how much there is to do on these ships, and how much of it actually interested me. And how little of it I really participated in when all was said and done. I will try to remember what we did do, probably to some extent in chronological order: Art Auction: Wife took me to it, I was somewhat interested in it, I would say if you like are and you know are it may be worth attending, you may get some good bys. Captain's Reception: This may have been my favorite event, it was in the Colony Club, and very well done. You started off by having your picture taken with the Captain at the entrance then went in to the Colony Club where the champagne and hors d'oeuvres were flowing. Vicki & The Holding Company were playing some nice dance music and we had a table by the back window. Then Angie came on and introduced the Captain who surprised most, not me, by singing to the audience with the band backing him up. He then introduced the executive staff and a couple more glasses of champagne we were off to dinner. Disco Night: YMCA is alive and well, a fun time was had by all in the Starquest Lounge. Ping Pong Tournament: A bronze metal was won by yours truly; I blame the wind for not getting silver or gold. Love and Marriage: Pretty funny, could have used better contestants, but every now and then they would surprise you. Belly Flopping Contest: A past winner was competing who seem to have it all sewn up. Caribbean Buffet: Very impressive, didn't have too much to eat but had something to drink in a pineapple that was very mmmmm mmmmmm mmmmmmm. Chocolate buffet: Lots of chocolate, the chocolate desserts at dinner were better Quest: Was funny, but looked like the people were too prepared. Disco, Caribbean, Country Western, 50's nights: Can you say line dancing Gala Buffet: Very good very extravagant Entertainment: I might get a little long winded on this one (you mean he hasn't already gotten long winded) as I'm in the entertainment business: The live music around the ship was all very good quality, my personal favorite probably being pianist/singer David Curtis. He was in the Schooner Bar late nights and seemed to have an endless repertoire that he could apply instantly to someone walking by, overheard comment or a request. He was both very funny and a very talented musician. Trio Montreal provided dance music in the Centrum, which was complemented by dancers that happened to be on our cruise from a dance club in Cincinnati. I never knew people in Cincinnati danced. The main stage shows varied pretty significantly in quality from excellent to mediocre. Unfortunately, I only have a couple of Compass's, so I don't know all the names. The first night was a comedian that was very good. The second night was a team of comic jugglers, "dangerous comedy", they were excellent. They did a bit on the Captain's announcements from the bridge that was hilarious, and never were the Captain's announcements listened to in the same way the rest of the week. Night 3 brought us our first production show with the Royal Caribbean Singer's and Dancer's. This time they were singing to pre-recorded music, the show was high energy and fast paced, which left you flat. The vocals were covered by the music much of the time, the singers were moving so much that they had no energy left for there vocals and the songs seem to have no connecting thread. Also, they were missing one of the girl dancer's that left some pretty obvious holes in the choreography. Production value, however, was very good with impressive lights, costumes and sets. The 4th night was a magician that was very mediocre. Night 5 was the RC Singer and Dancers again, this time with the RC Band. This band is HOT!, all very good players, and during the course of the week playing a wide variety of music. "Rocking the Paradise" was the theme of this show and was much better than the first. There was more energy in the vocals and they had figured ways to re-space for the missing dancer. We had found out that the missing dancer had injured her ankle. A very good show overall, though there were still times the music covered the vocals. Night 6 was by far the best show with Star Search champion Kenny James, a very exciting upbeat performer who was not covered up by the very talented RC Band. Then the "Farewell Show", this one was the biggest disappointment. Everyone is already down about having to get off the next morning, they should have a more upbeat "let's do it again" kind of show as opposed to the "too bad you are leaving" show they gave you. There was a good moment in the show, and that was the Captain singing "Old Man River" even though it was sad he did a very good job. Then there was a "South American Cowboy" that finished the show off. He reminded me of a bad parody of an Ed Sullivan act, very mediocre. But, overall, the entertainment was better than I was expecting, particularly the perpetual live music all over the ship. Favorite spots and other places on board: I know most will think I'm crazed, but my most favorite spot was my balcony, drinking coffee at sunrise. Best place to eat breakfast: The very back table in the middle in the Windjammer's outside seating. Best Bar for a bloody mary: Pool Bar Neatest arrival to a port: Playing putt putt while coming into San Juan Favorite bar in the evening: Schooner club Favorite bar for pre dinner drink: Champagne bar Best views: My balcony, Windjammer, putt putt golf course, helicopter pad (didn't make it out there at night, I should have), Champagne Bar, Schooner club, The Colony Club, pretty much anywhere on decks 12 and 13. Nice stop and watch the people spot: Balconies overlooking the Centrum Best place to lose money: the casino, though I did see people hit it on the slots and I know of one person that won 5000 dollars at blackjack and one person hit the jackpot on Caribbean Stud winning over 22,000 dollars! Best place to meet before a show: Sports Bar Place I should have spent more time: Solarium and outside pool, I thought I would. I did swim in the Solarium pool one time the first sea day after the meet and mingle and sat in the hot tub there, I didn't try the outside pool at all. Best thing NOT to look at if you are feeling woozy: The pool tables in the Colony Club, good thing I never felt woozy Ports of Call: We had 4, San Juan, St Marten, St Thomas and Nassau San Juan: We arrived at 2pm with an 8pm departure. Normally the ship docks at pier 4 which you can walk into old San Juan, however, we docked at the Pan-American pier which we had to take a shuttle. We had but one mission in old San Juan, to go to the Coach outlet store and get the wife a new purse. The store in question was at the opposite end of town from where the shuttle dropped us off. So we walked, meeting other CC members on our way, our mission was clear, we would not waver. After searching block after block we finally saw it glimmering ahead on the corner, we entered the shrine and after an eternity of looking at this purse and that we were.....unimpressed. So we headed back to the shuttle stop, buying some cigars in route and leaving old San Juan still unimpressed. St. Marten: We arrived at 9am with a 6pm departure. St. Marten was our favorite port. The port itself is so picturesque, there was a Carnival ship anchored just off my balcony out in the harbor, the America's Cup sailboats were sailing all around, it was just beautiful. As we were planning to go to Orient Beach on our own, we opted to take our time getting off. When we did, oh my, the dock area was unbelievable! I'm fairly certain it must be new; everything was so clean, colorful and pristine. We had no trouble getting a cab to Orient Beach and the drive was through very picturesque countryside, hilly terrain with beautiful vistas. Orient Beach was as pretty as we expected and somewhat crowded. We rented chairs and an umbrella in front of Kakao restaurant. The water was beautiful, the beach was beautiful, the people were beautiful, and then there were the naked ones. Actually, we only saw a couple totally nude, quite a few topless and it was a mixture of those who could get away with it and those you would rather they didn't. But for the most part it wasn't that distracting. We had lunch at Kakao's, which was very good; I had the lobster salad. Another swim then it was back to the ship. The others in our party did the 4-wheel drive tour of the island, which they loved. They had a jeep wrangler and traveled convoy style. They hit Orient Beach, then some shopping, another beach and some more shopping. They succeeded in the purse hunt that we had failed at in San Juan, scoring a Gucci for 40 dollars in one of the shops close to the dock. St. Thomas: We arrived at 7am with a 5pm departure. This was the Port we had our big excursion planned. Joni and I were celebrating our 10-year anniversary on this cruise and we had spent our honeymoon chartering a sailboat out of St Thomas to sail around the British Virgin Islands for a week 10 years ago, followed by a 3 day stay on St. Thomas. A couple of summers ago we chartered another sailboat and spent a week in the Grenadines. So we have charter sailboat experience. With this in mind we opted to charter a day sail and go over to St. John for some snorkeling. After reading wonderful reviews on these boards about the Winifred, we tried to book her. They emailed me back and said they were booked for that day and suggested the Alaunt. I emailed Captain Ron with some questions that he responded very quickly and favorably and so we went ahead and booked the Alaunt. We arrived in St. Thomas on time, however, now you have to go through immigration, which started at 7am. Unlike what I was expecting, immigration was held on the ship before you got off. We got into line early at about 7:15 and were pleased with how fast the line was moving. I asked a crewmember if you could exit the ship after you cleared or if everyone had to clear before exiting. He told us he thought everyone had to clear first; this was incorrect! So we cleared in about 15 minutes and went back to our balcony and had another cup of coffee. Fortunately, Joni said we should go see if they are letting people off and indeed they were, so we went to get a taxi. At this point we were already pushing to make it to our 9:00 meeting with Captain Ron at Red Hook Marina. Then. We got in our little van going to Red Hook and sat and waited for him to fill it up, another 20 minutes and he only got 2 more people. Finally we left for Red Hook. The drive over was very scenic and we encountered some traffic, so we finally met up with Captain Ron at about 9:45. We introduced ourselves, hopped into the dingy and headed out to the Alaunt. Things got much better from that moment on; the Alaunt is a very nice 54-foot racing sailing yacht, a little narrower to what we had experienced on our previous charters but quite comfortable. Ron's mate, Carol, greeted us and with no wasted time sails were up and we were being offered a tray of fresh fruit, fresh juice and bloody mary's as we caught the wind. Ron and Carol were excellent hosts making us feel right at home. It turns out they knew the Captain and mate who took us out on our honeymoon. We sailed to Hawknest Bay for some snorkeling, the water was unbelievably clear and the bay was beautiful. We snorkeled fro a good while seeing lots of fish, and then returned to the boat to find a fairly good size barracuda lurking under the boat, what a treat! Carol told us that he showed up pretty much every time they came there. Meanwhile, Ron had been preparing lunch, roasted chicken, salad, black bean rice and local bananas flambE, with a bottle of Mumm's Champagne to celebrate our anniversary! After lunch we headed to Christmas Bay on St. James island with some great tunes playing on the stereo. Unfortunately, the wind decided to take a siesta so we had to motor a lot of the way, which was fine. They had a couple of beanbag chairs on the aft deck that seem to just absorb you, so slow was just fine. We decided just to tour Christmas Bay as time was growing short and started the sail back to Red Hook. Well almost on queue, the wind picked up and we had a nice leisurely sail back making for a wonderful day. Ron had called ahead so a taxi driver met us at the dock and took us straight back to the ship. Ron and Carol did a fabulous job in every aspect. If you have never done anything like this, I would highly recommend the Alaunt. But, for us it was just not enough, after doing a couple of 7-day sailboat charters, a 1-day just isn't enough. Ron and Carol had just returned from a 2-week charter, which I'm sure doing a long-term charter with them would be great. The others in our party did the lagoon kayak excursion, and gave it mixed reviews. I think they were expecting some beach time, which this particular tour didn't provide, but other than that they seemed to enjoy it Nassau: We arrived at 12noon with a 6pm departure. Nassau was the biggest surprise to me. I wasn't expecting much and considered staying on the ship, but I was pleasantly surprised, yet another very picturesque port! Part of our group wanted to do some parasailing, while others of us just wanted to do a little shopping and try the local beer. The trick here is to make it by the taxi drivers and tour guides at the port building into town, just keep walking. The town is very attractive and the shopping was surprisingly good. Then we took the water taxi over to Paradise Island and the Atlantis. Here is a word of warning, they say that the water taxi goes to the Atlantis, it does not, it's a good long walk from the dock to the Atlantis. We ended up stopping at a nice little restaurant about half way for the cold beer and conch fritters, and then caught a regular taxi back to the boat. My feeling here is 6 hours just isn't enough time at this port I'm sure they could schedule another couple of hours in Nassau. The others in our party went to the beach, but decided it was too chilly for parasailing. Weather: The only rain we saw was in Ft. Lauderdale right before our departure. We did have high winds and high seas on both our sea days, the first being the worst. It did calm down about two-thirds through the first day. Days were mostly sunny in the 80s and evenings were in the 70s until we got to Nassau. I would say the morning we came into Nassau was in the upper 60s with a high in the mid 70s, then a chilly evening with Ft Lauderdale greeting us with temps in the upper 50s. All in all, very happy with the weather. Miscellaneous observations: All said and done we were very impressed with the cruise and the ship. I like the flow of the week and the flow of the daily activities. Things were scheduled so you could go from activity to activity without feeling rushed or that you were on a schedule. The ship was full but I didn't feel crowded, nor did I feel any "cattle call" sensations at any of the ports. The one little scheduling glitch I think they could do something about, is to leave a hole in the activities on the final night so you could pack without thinking you are going to miss something. We thought the food was great, however, Joni's sisters and their husbands, who have different taste than ours, missed the 24 hour pizza service that Carnival has and would have liked to have seen more burgers and fries than just the odd hours that the Seaview was open. One thing that totally astonished me throughout the week and also helped explain some of the things I read on these boards is how some people can complain and be unhappy when everything is good and there is absolutely nothing to complain about. These weren't isolated instances but an ongoing trend in a certain type of cruiser, it baffled me. The ship is fabulous, the weather was beautiful, the food was delicious, the service was impeccable, the ports were charming, the entertainment was entertaining and the week was too damn short! I would just like to say a warm hello to some of the people we met during the week, Mark and Krista, Joycelyn and Chops, Judy and Jack, Jon, Bill and Wes, Kim and Sean, Andy and Toby, Rob and Toni, Ted, Annie, Eddie and Karen our tablemates and of course Dennis, Murat and Margarita. After all the food and entertainment and beauty of the ships and ports, isn't it really the people that make the cruise! The End, whew Read Less
Sail Date January 2004
I am 22 years old and this was my first cruise and although I have travelled a lot- I have never had such a wonderful vacation! I was hesitant to come on this cruise, I was joining my family and not quite sure what to expect. Never beyond ... Read More
I am 22 years old and this was my first cruise and although I have travelled a lot- I have never had such a wonderful vacation! I was hesitant to come on this cruise, I was joining my family and not quite sure what to expect. Never beyond my wildest dreams could I have been more overwhelmed with everything that was offered on board. What started off as a delayed boarding time (due to late docking from the previous cruise), the ship and its staff exceeded all expectations. I shared an outside stateroom and I don't regret not even having a balcony- the view of the water was magnificent. There was a good amount of storage in the room and our steward, Vic never stopped inquiring about our needs. The activities on board were endless and it was difficult to choose which one we wanted to participate in. All the cruise staff were always approachable and we loved the "At sea" days as much as the ports of call. As for food- I wouldn't even know where to begin...my family never even made it to the Chops Grille of Portifino's because we loved the dining room so much. It wasn't just the food- it was an experience. We wanted to take home our dining staff at the end of the trip because they were so wonderful. Special thanks to Head waiter- Dario, Waiter- Vikram and Assistant waiter- Abel. You guys truly made it a wonderful experience. The dining room became our favorite part of the day! Any request for food was granted and the staff went above and beyond to best serve our table. The food was incredible. The saddest part about the trip was saying goodbye- but we will be back! The Radiance is a gorgeous boat and Captain Kent Ringborn was so refreshing and interesting and so approachable- far unlike many other captains you will meet. I never dreamed of a singing captain. The only thing I could think of to help improve service on board was on the final morning on the ship- we ate at the dining room. It seemed as though the staff were tired (totally understandable) however it seemed due to the fact that everyone was disembarking, no one was trying hard to help serve. (does not apply to everyone) To really end with the final bang, all servers should really still be on their best behaviour and be as approachable as they had been the past 7 days. My family and I felt like royalty on this ship and we cannot wait to go back! Entertainment on the ship was outstanding- our favorite act was Impressionist, Finis Henderson. Felt like I was at Vegas. We never lacked anything to do. Thanks for all the memories Royal Caribbean and again thanks to all the staff (they know who they are) who really made it a special trip! Read Less
Sail Date January 2004
We embarked on our cruise Christmas week, December 21, 2003. We travelled with two boys, 15 and 11 as well as parents who are 75 and 80. The ship was filled to capacity. No upgrades were available. This is our second cruise, the first ... Read More
We embarked on our cruise Christmas week, December 21, 2003. We travelled with two boys, 15 and 11 as well as parents who are 75 and 80. The ship was filled to capacity. No upgrades were available. This is our second cruise, the first having been on the Celebrity Century in 2000. Embarkation was not as bad as many of the reviews I read. While it was not particularly well organized I attribute any chaos to the ancient mindset of the cruise industry as a whole rather to any specific cruise line. Certainly the cruise industry has a few lessons to learn from the hotel and airline industries. If checking in and checking out of a Holiday Inn was as chaotic as it is with a cruise they would have been out of business decades ago. Boarding was not particularly memorable which I find unfortunate. We were greeted by someone in a plain white uniform (no name tag) and politely directed to the nearest elevator. Ho hum. In fact, that set the tone for the rest of the cruise. We booked a balcony stateroom (3 total) on the 9th deck, mid-forward. Our Attendant was Maria who was as efficient and as sweet as you could want. The prior occupants of one of our rooms were smokers (yes, in-room smoking is allowed in ALL rooms on RCL). Without asking Maria stripped the entire room of all of the curtains and bedding, washed them twice, washed down every single inch of the rest of the room and repeated this the next day. What more need I say? There was more than plenty of room for all of our "stuff." The room was in decent shape but beginning to show signs of age. About the only complaint I had with the rooms, aside from the bathroom being small, was the lack of any cold water. All the water in the faucet was warm or hot. Our luggage arrived later in the afternoon without incident. Our first encounter with the food was at lunch in the Windjammer Cafe. In general, the Windjammer food was fresh, pleasantly displayed, competently served and well organized. Contrary to most reviews the coffee served on our ship was EXCELLENT. It was fresh brewed from the "Seattle's Best" brand. I was very relieved. In fact, the free coffee throughout the ship was tastier than the strong, Starbuck's type coffee found at the coffee bar. Windjammer served a huge variety of food and desserts, many of which were sugar-free. Unfortunately, Windjammer closed in the evening. This ship has NO "midnight buffet" and no place to eat after 10pm except in the tiny, well hidden Seaview Cafe way up on the 12th deck accessible solely by exterior means. On our voyage we had winds of over 50 MPH the first 2 nights and it was dangerous trying to get to this place. Equally unfortunate was the fact that the Seaview also served the best food on this ship (it was freshly prepared for your particular order). Suffice it to say that the "food" served in the Cascades dining room was awful and on par with nursing home food: institutional in taste, always served warm and everything tasting just about the same. This was a huge disappointment. Indeed, we will never travel with RCL again due to this. Our waiter was Darko, from Croatia, and he was excellent. We thought we would avoid further disappointment by eating at the so-called specialty restaurants. We tried Portofino. The food was HORRIBLE! In fact, it was inedible. Fortunately we enjoyed Chops much more. Entertainment was only fair, at best. As for children's programs they were basically non-existent for our kids. While the ship has a room dedicated for these programs there were no Supervisors in sight, ever. Worse, at night no one from the ship stopped any of the children from walking the upper decks in 50 MPH winds. That also happens to be where their basketball court is. Kids from 10 up were free to roam anywhere they wanted with whomever they wanted. I would comment on the Cruise Director except I don't think we had one. Someone named "Bill" called himself the Cruise Director the 2 times he appeared in public, and he was a total dud. As for the rest of the ship the public bathrooms were ALWAYS dirty and smelly, the elevators could have been faster and another bank of elevators in the forward section of the ship should be installed. It is a long, long, looong walk for anyone, and particular the elderly, from the "forward" elevators to the forward rooms. In sum I would rate this cruise a solid 6 out of 10. As a result we will not travel RCL again. Read Less
Sail Date December 2003
posted 11-18-03 10:45 AM Opening: We are back from the 11/9 eastern Radiance cruise where we had a very nice time. The weather was not the best but we still had fun. Comparisons will be made to past Carnival cruises from time to time. ... Read More
posted 11-18-03 10:45 AM Opening: We are back from the 11/9 eastern Radiance cruise where we had a very nice time. The weather was not the best but we still had fun. Comparisons will be made to past Carnival cruises from time to time. Arrival: We flew down to Ft. Lauderdale from Columbus, OH on Delta the day before the cruise. We were picked up promptly by the shuttle which took us to the Comfort Inn on Sterling Road. We have stayed there before and appreciate the shuttles from the airport and to the cruise port. They also have an excellent breakfast buffet. The rooms are not fancy but very adequate for us. They have a nice pool area in a tropical setting with an excellent place to dine beside the pool. Cruise Day: We left for Port Everglades shortly after 11:00 am. The traffic was heavy as we approached the port area due to additional ships that had been relocated from Miami and also due to some road construction. We handed off our luggage to the porters and headed into the terminal and took a seat. There was some initial confusion as the RCI employees did not seem to be on the same page as to which direction to go. Later as we began to go through screening they opened que lines at different points which allowed some people that had not waited as long to enter the screening earlier than others who had waited longer. This started some pushing and shoving and commotion that could have been avoided by just opening one que and allowing people to enter in an orderly fashion. We proceeded through screening and booking in short order and were on the ship shortly after noon. Our cabin was ready and we headed there and dropped off our luggage and then up to the Windjammer for a nice lunch. Cabin: We booked an interior cabin on deck three. The bed was made up as a full size with small night stands on either side. There was a small couch across from the TV and vanity area. Plenty of drawers and closet storage space for the two of us. The safe is a 4 digit programmable combination that worked flawlessly. Be very careful when you empty the safe at the end of your cruise. One day we could not close the safe door and reaching inside in a recessed area behind the door we found a diamond ring left behind by a previous cruiser. We turned it in at guest relations and hope the owner is able to be reunited with it soon. The bathroom was a little smaller than Carnival but perfectly adequate. The toilet bowl did not retain enough water so there would be a gurgling sound coming from it most of the time. Dumping a couple glasses of water into the bowl would quiet it for awhile. Shower water was as hot as you would like it but the flow was minimal. Tough to rinse the soap out of long thick hair. Cabin was clean and in good shape and cooled down nicely. TV worked well and it was easy to check our account balance. The decorative pillows were arranged differently each day on the bed. Received towel animals on two days. Ports: We docked at pier 4 in San Juan on Tuesday. The clouds were gray and threatening so instead of going to a beach we took the free trolley to the old fort and enjoyed looking around. There was a light drizzle but not too bad. We walked back through town to the ship and did some window shopping. Wednesday we were at St. Martin. The weather was again overcast but we headed to Dawn beach. They had had so much rain on previous days that school was closed and there was much mud, rocks and small boulders at the edge of the road. We picked out a spot on the beach. It was very windy and 5-6 foot waves were breaking just offshore. The water was warm and we had a good time. There was quite a bit of litter and trash in the area behind the beach. It did not make for a very pretty picture unfortunately. I am sure the entire area would have been much prettier on a sunny day. Thursday we were at St. Thomas. The weather again was threatening so our plans of going to St. John and Trunk bay were cancelled. We instead went into town and did some shopping and walking around town. It rained heavily again in the afternoon soaking many people getting back to the ship. Saturday we were in Nassau and were able to enjoy a beautifully sunny and pleasant day. We took a taxi to Paradise Island and looked around Atlantis. We then headed to the beach just down from the Sheraton. The water was beautiful with 6-8 foot waves crashing onto shore and knocking swimmers down. Quite a few people were on the beach enjoying the day. The Ship: Radiance of the Seas is a beautiful ship and we enjoyed it very much. It was very clean and restrooms were spotless. The only damage we saw that was obvious were some tears in the fabric of the lounge chairs in the Solarium. The Casino is probably the most poorly designed area of the ship. It is too small and cramped. You are constantly being jostled and bumped in the back as there is just not enough room between tables and slot machines. The gym is in a nice location with great views and plenty of equipment. We participated in sunrise stretch in the morning. The instructor did not show one morning and even after a phone call nobody came so we all left. Food and Dining: We had main seating in the dining room and ate all dinner meals there. We had a table for 6 which is just right for carrying on conversations with table mates whom we enjoyed very much. We felt the food was very good and had no major problems with it. The infamous ranch steak was eaten by several at our table. Only once was it found not acceptable to a diner. Multiple appetizers, entrees and desserts were ordered and received with no problems. Wait staff was friendly, fast and efficient. Ice tea was better in the dining room than in the Windjammer. We ate lunch several times in the dining room and enjoyed meeting and dining with other cruisers. Service was always fast and efficient. We think that Carnival would be making a good decision in going to this method instead of dining at your assigned table for all meals. We ate breakfast and some lunch and snacking in the Windjammer. The food was plentiful and varied and we enjoyed it also. The drink station with pre-poured beverages speeds things up and makes it easier and faster. The only item we missed were the sliced oranges that we have always enjoyed on Carnival. We felt that the desserts were superior on Radiance compared to Carnival. The Seaview Cafe has excellent food that is fresh and hot. It is the only place to get food in the wee hours of the morning. It would be nicer if it was in an easier location to get to. We always miss the 24 hour pizza and ice cream on Carnival. Activities: We participated in many of the Ship Shape programs and enjoyed them all. Would like to see a similar program on Carnival. The staff was extremely friendly and made the activities lots of fun. It would be nice if the dance lessons could be held someplace other than the Centrum as there is just not enough room for all who want to participate and leave enough room to move around. Played miniature golf and climbed the rock wall although do not find these really necessary for a good cruise. Tried out the self leveling billiard tables and it is interesting to watch them moving up and down. Miscellaneous Observations: For some reason they did not completely fill the pool in the Solarium so you could not enjoy the shallow areas on each side of the pool. There were very few children and teens on this cruise. There was a nice mix of adult age passengers. I am not sure why they do not have the second formal night on Friday a sea day instead of Thursday a port day which makes some people rush to get ready. Meet and Mingle Party: From reading the boards we knew the party would probably be on the first sea day. We did not receive a notice in our cabin so we went to guest relations and found out that it was in the next half hour (10:30am) so we got ready and hustled up to deck 12. We filled out our name tags and visited with some of the other cruise critic participants. Enjoyed meeting Suzanne and Jeff and visiting with them. There was orange juice and ice tea along with some desserts. They raffled off a couple prizes during the get together. Debarkation: We selected the blue color tag so we could remain on the ship as long as possible as we were not flying out until the next day. The process was smooth and orderly by the time that we got off. There may have been more commotion earlier that I am not aware of. We stayed post cruise at the Holiday Inn on Ft. Lauderdale boulevard. It is directly across from the beach. The rooms could use an update but were adequate for a night. We took the water taxi tour and enjoyed seeing the fancy houses and yachts. Conclusion: As stated before we enjoyed the cruise very much and as always the fun is what you make of it. In our eyes there is no reason to not be able to find something enjoyable and fun to do at sometime somewhere on the ship. We will continue to cruise with RCI and Carnival depending on who has the best price, going where and when we want to go. I am sure this review has left much out but will be glad to answer any questions that you may have. Read Less
Sail Date November 2003
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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