567 Royal Caribbean Radiance of the Seas Cruise Reviews

Hi Everyone! Just back from the Radiance Western Caribbean Sailing. Before you read this, please note, I am a 22 year old male college student that was cruising with 3 friends on spring break, and my review will reflect as such. ... Read More
Hi Everyone! Just back from the Radiance Western Caribbean Sailing. Before you read this, please note, I am a 22 year old male college student that was cruising with 3 friends on spring break, and my review will reflect as such. AIRPORT - We arrived in Ft. Lauderdale at approx 12:30p and met the RCCL staff by the baggage claim, since we had booked air/sea we had transfers. Got our luggage, waited about 10 mins for a full bus and we were off. About a 15 min ride to the port, and then we got off the bus, and went in to the terminal to discover the line. THERE WAS NONE! We were on the ship in less then 10 minutes! ROOM- There was a smell. We couldn't figure out what it was, and our room attendant honestly wrote a note saying yes there is a smell but he would do everything to hope we would have a good trip, but did he actually do anything about the smell, NO. We ended up talking to the pursers desk who transferred us to the hotel manager who was so mad that that note was written, he had us transferred to an outside room on the 8th floor! MUCH BIGGER AND NICER. There wasn't many people my age on the ship. There were a lot of retired folk, so the ship was pretty dead after about 10:30. Key West -- The shops don't open until 10 and we were only there until 2:30. In my opinion it would have been nicer to stay later! Cozumel -- Carlos N Charlies was pretty much it. Costa Maya -- All this port is is a swimming pool surrounded by shops. (Unless you are into the whole "Mayan Ruins" thing, which we weren't). We stayed around the pool, as did the college people from all 3 ships that were in port. Grand Cayman -- Walked around town. THE SHIP - The ship is in great ship. Continuous Maintenance was going on all around us (mostly unnoticeable). Cruise staff -- Cruise Director Angie was too perky for us. To me she was one of those people that comes in to the office on monday way TOO perky and not really funny. THe best cruise staff person was one of the events coordinators Arrow. He even made horse racing funny! EVENTS ON THE SHIP -- Love and marriage Game, Quest, Horse Racing, Daily Trivia Contest, Pool Games, 50's Night, Country Night, Gala Buffet, Caribbean Buffet, Shows! In all I had a great time. Just a few negative things 1) Crowd was too old for me, 2) NEED MORE HOT TUBS ON THE SHIP. Only 3 small ones for a ship that size :( If anyone has any specific questions, please contact me at hoopster3145@yahoo.com Scott Read Less
Sail Date March 2004
This was my first cruise and I loved it. The one thing that sticks out about Royal Caribbean is the service is fantastic. Here's a short recap of our cruise: Embarkment: a snap, on the ship in minutes. Cabin: had 9616 a balcony ... Read More
This was my first cruise and I loved it. The one thing that sticks out about Royal Caribbean is the service is fantastic. Here's a short recap of our cruise: Embarkment: a snap, on the ship in minutes. Cabin: had 9616 a balcony cabin. I was surprised how roomy it was, with the exception of the shower. Well worth the extra bucks for the balcony. The sunset and sunrise pictures I took were great. Food: food was ok. Some nights the dining room food was better than others. Chicken was good, the prime rib was bad..... One thing I would highly recommend is the specialty restaurants. The food and service were top notch. Chops was just as good as any Mortons or Ruth Chris'. I understand people feel they shouldn't have to pay extra, but that's the way it is. Don't fight it! It is well worth it. If we didn't enjoy our table mates so much, we probably would have eaten at Chops and Portofino's everynight. Show: To my shock the comedian was very funny. They also had a juggler the last night, he was ok. The Drifters, (only one of the real one's I think) were good. We missed the other shows that included a magician. Activities: Here's where I think RCI should improve. They were very corny and boring. Cruise Director Angie was very annoying. Way too chippy for me, but I guess that is what people like. Ports: Key West- problem here is the times. Most stores don't open till 10 so you are hanging out at 9am. Also we left at 3. I have been to Key West before, and the fun doesn't begin until the sun goes down. Cozumel: had a great time here. It was my fiance's birthday so we started out at a place called Paradise Beach. Place was fantastic, and free. Had beach chairs for you. Paddle boats, a water trampoline , and some other stuff. Then went to Carlos and Charlies and had a great time, although she doesn't remember it. Costa Maya: not much here except a small beach in a tiny fishing village. We got lucky because we got there early and found a great spot on the beach. Grand Cayman: Snorkel trip with the sting rays. It was fabulous. We booked with a place called soto cruises. This worked out great because the Royal Caribbean excursion was cancelled because of rough waters. Oh Soto was also for half the price RCI wanted. The excursion was outstanding. Disembark: I guess I really can't comment on this because it was my first. It took about an hour to get off the ship which was really not a problem. Then it took another 10 minutes to find my luggage. All in all, I say Royal Caribbean was great. the service was better than any vacation we ever went on. I'm sure we will cruise again, and I wouldn't mind trying a different ship on Royal Caribbean. Read Less
Sail Date March 2004
We sailed on Radiance of the Seas during Spring Break, March 2004. I have been on 10 cruises and this was a beautiful ship to see and experience. It is layed out well, and the Colony club area is great. Our cabin was very comfortable and ... Read More
We sailed on Radiance of the Seas during Spring Break, March 2004. I have been on 10 cruises and this was a beautiful ship to see and experience. It is layed out well, and the Colony club area is great. Our cabin was very comfortable and had no problem accomodating 3 people. We had a balcony, but decided that since we never went out there more than 5 minutes each day, next time we might just get ocean view. The staff is awesome, and I never heard a unhappy word or comment from anyone. It is truly great to see people enjoying their jobs and be willing to help you in any way. This really makes for a great vacation, and the bar and hotel managers should be commended for this. The food is - well, all I can say is if you are unhappy with it, it is your own fault. There are so many venues to choose from that you can find whatever you like SOMEWHERE on that ship. Or just open your mouth and ask. Believe me, there will be someone eager to please your taste buds. We even had the head waiter at our table in the dining room cooking for us himself and ordering us food that wasn't even on the menu. Chops, the specialty restaurant was awesome. We love fine dining and this just about beat our nicest restaurant at home (which cost alot more than $40!). There were 450 children on board, but it wasn't obvious. My 9 year old son loved the kids club and wanted to be there all the time. the staff there was awesome as well. About the only complaint I had about the entire cruise is that the kids club is only open all day on the port days, and not on the days at sea. I always took my son into the port, but would have loved to have the kids club open all day while at sea. As a result, we were constantly running to pick him up at odd times that the club would be closing. (closed from 12 noon to 2:00PM, and from 4:00 to 6:00 PM) Also would have loved to go to Chops for lunch on these days, but their hours are 12:00 noon to 2:00PM - the same times the kids club was closed! Somebody needs to rethink this! If there is a concern about the ship movement or sea sickness, I will say that they have state of the art stabilizers on that ship, and though there was movement from side to side, it was not a hard rocking movement. We had 17 foot swells and very windy conditions, but the ship just cut through the water like butter. One funny thing to see is the self leveling pool tables in the Colony Club. We could not believe how much the base of the tables were moving (as was the floor and us too)but the table top and the balls stayed completely still. Our favorite hang out was the Schooner Bar. The bartenders, Vineet, Dexter and Rafeala were great, and we had fun with all their card tricks and funny stories. We didn't want to say goodbye to them at the end. We met the Captain and he was the youngest captain in the fleet (40 years old). We went to the ship's chat, and listened to him speak about all the details of the ship. The hotel manager was there as well as some other top officers, and after listening to them talk we felt very secure and safe in their hands. Obviously, we had a great time, and would have gone right back on it the next week if we could, but alas, school and work beckoned. A vacation like this is hard to beat. I can't think of anywhere else you can go to get a such a vacation value. Royal Caribbean is tops in my book. Read Less
Sail Date March 2004
This was my boy friend and I first cruise so we don't have anything to compare to, but here I go. We were a little disappointed with our fly/transfer package. We booked it through the cruise line, so really didn't have much ... Read More
This was my boy friend and I first cruise so we don't have anything to compare to, but here I go. We were a little disappointed with our fly/transfer package. We booked it through the cruise line, so really didn't have much choice. We flew into Ft. Lauderdale, but were transferred to Miami for the night, then transferred back to Ft Laud. in the am. We really don't know why they did it that way. We had to wait forever for the bus to pick us up at the hotel, and when they finally came, they took a bunch of people to Miami port first. We finally got to the pier at around 2:30. It worked out good though, since there were no lines and it was a very smooth check in. We went to our cabin right away. It smelled of stale smoke, but I brought along a plug in air freshener and plugged that in right away. Our cabin steward Rodney was wonderful and introduced himself right away. The cabin was a little smaller than I thought, but alot of hidden nooks and cranny's to put all our stuff. We had to go to the life boat drill which took about 35 min. but was very organized. Our first place to eat was Windjammer Cafe. This turned out to be our favorite place. There was always alot of variety and all the food was tasty. I think they should include pop with each meal. The Seaview Cafe was my boyfriends favorite with cheeseburgers and wonderful clam chowder. I liked the brownies and onion rings. It's open until 2 am. Latte Tudes had some good coffee drinks if you like that sort of thing. Cascades dining room was pretty and we looked forward to sitting with our table mates and re hashing the day. We made some good friends there and had a good variety of ages. Our waiter Scott was not the greatest. He did his waiting duties fine, but didn't really have much fun with us. The assistant Paolo was just okay. The food was mixed. We had some wonderful dishes, and we had some not so wonderful. It all even out in the end and overall the food was pretty good. We had 2 formal nights and had alot of fun dressing up. The pool area was a little cramped. The lounge chairs are so close together it's hard to move on and off of them. The pool water was very warm and the pool area clean. There was alot of activities out by the pool. The Solarium was wonderful. We laid in one of the padded chairs one afternoon and went to sleep. There is chirping bird and cricket sounds piped into the area. We didn't go into the water, but it looked refreshing. The foliage in that area was beautiful. The drinks were yummy. I had to try the drink of the day everyday. We got our picture taken all the time. The guy runs around with a camera, plus they have areas sat up every night to have different backgrounds done. You don't have to buy any, and it's fun to go look at them so go ahead and have them taken. We only went to one show and it was good. The Platters. Some of our tablemates said they left one of the ships productions because the people were all off tune. There was always nice piano or violin music around somewhere. The Colony Club was our favorite. We turned the loveseats toward the windows and looked out over where we had been, since it's in the back of the ship. It was usually dimly lit and very romantic. The casino is a rip off. I guess most are, whether on a ship or not, but I just could'nt do much of anything there. I had my hair done in the salon for one of the formal nights. It cost $50 and wasn't really that great and only took her about 20 min. I would probably not do that again. Bingo is fun on at sea days or in the afternoon after getting back on the ship. I never won anything, but it was fun. Someone won a cruise for 2 and another guy won $4000. We went to Key West, Cozumel, Roatan and Grand Cayman. My favorite was Roatan. It's a very poor country, but very beautiful. We hired a taxi driver for the day for $30. He took us to West Bay Beach for a couple hours. That beach is gorgeous! Then he took us downtown and showed us some stores to shop in. He drove through the mountain side to the beach and stopped a few times so I could take some pictures of the beautiful hills and valleys with all sorts of foliage. His name was Jose and his English wasn't the best, but good enough. Cozumel was more touristy. We went to some of the areas with jewelry shopping. I didn't think the prices were any better than we can get here at the malls. Grand Cayman is very clean and pretty and really doesn't seem like a caribbean island, more like Florida. Although the snorkeling and stingray city was amazing. I would like a stingray for a pet now! And snorkeling is the most peaceful thing I think I have ever done. As soon as I put my face in that water, I was in another world. We went with Captain Marvin's and had a real good experience with them. Their boat was nice and they were very helpful. They even gave everyone a small rum cake when we were done. Key West was a little boring. We mostly milled around the shops and found some good key like pie at Kermit's. When we got off the ship, we had to wait about an hour to have our colored tags called, then wait some more in line and through customs. We had a very nice porter help us with our baggage after we found it and on to the bus for our departure to the airport. Once you get there, plan on a long wait in line to go through security. They said that airport is like that every Sunday when the cruises come in. Over all out first time cruising experience was absolutely wonderful and we will do it again with RCI. They have things very much under control and very organized, yet they are always friendly. The greatest thing is how well I slept. The sea rocked me to sleep every night. Read Less
Sail Date February 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
Hello All,My wife and I had a fantastic time aboard this beautiful ship.All the crew we had contact with were very nice and friendly.We only went to dinner in Cascades once, so I can't comment on that. We did eat at Chops for lunch ... Read More
Hello All,My wife and I had a fantastic time aboard this beautiful ship.All the crew we had contact with were very nice and friendly.We only went to dinner in Cascades once, so I can't comment on that. We did eat at Chops for lunch and dinner and it was excellent. We also ate at the Windjammer alot and it was very good, a big thank you to Luisa for her service and friendly conversation. Our cabin steward Bede also did an excellent job. We used room service everyday and they were just great, very friendly and fast .We went to two shows in the Aurora theater and really enjoyed those. One was the farewell show in which the Captain sang a song, and he was very good, we were impressed by his talent.We had a balcony stateroom and are now spoiled,we would not go on another cruise without one. The Radiance has about 800 staterooms with them, if I remember correctly. This ship also has alot of glass walls so the views are great.We bought alot of logo clothing during the 50% off sale on board.Looked like alot of people were taking advantage of the jewelry and duty free sales.I'm not trying to promote RCCL'S merchandise but we feel we purchased good quality items at a fair price, and from what I observed there were alot of other people who felt the same way. Our only complaint about the whole cruise is the money we lost in the casino which is our own fault, we do the same thing in Las Vegas. I booked this cruise, flights, shore excursions,tips and pre cruise stay through RCCL'S website and we had no problems with anything. My wife purchased a birthday package for me and had to go to guest relations to check on it. They had the package but hadn't notified room service which they took care of promptly without my knowledge and was a very nice surprise.They did a great job of decorating our stateroom and my cake was great.We sailed the Sovereign Of The Seas eight years ago, this being our second cruise we were so impressed with the Radiance and Royal Caribbean Cruise Line, we've already booked for 2005 on the Legend Of The Seas for a cruise from Ft. Lauderdale through Panama to San Diego Feb. 20th. The Radiance and crew made our vacation very enjoyable and we would highly recommend this ship. Thank You, Mike Read Less
Sail Date January 2004
Review of GTV Radiance of the Seas Cruise - Western Caribbean - January 25, 2004 Ft. Lauderdale, Key West, Cozumel, Roatan, Grand Cayman, Ft. Lauderdale (zeesinnh@aol.com) We have experienced twenty-four cruises together, with four ... Read More
Review of GTV Radiance of the Seas Cruise - Western Caribbean - January 25, 2004 Ft. Lauderdale, Key West, Cozumel, Roatan, Grand Cayman, Ft. Lauderdale (zeesinnh@aol.com) We have experienced twenty-four cruises together, with four others taken separately. This was our third sailing with Royal Caribbean Cruise Line (RCCL) and happened to be the GGC2004 (Great Group Cruise) with many participants (approximately 100) from the RTC (Recreation. Travel. Cruises) newsgroup aboard. Janet and I had a wonderful time and would happily sail with RCCL again. Some of the details and impressions from our cruise are as follows: Ship Particulars: The Radiance OTS was built at the Meyer Werft Yard in Papenburg, Germany, and entered service with RCCL in 2000. She is the first of the Radiance Class ships that all are powered by the lower emission Gas Turbines, hence the designation of GTV (Gas Turbine Vessel). The ship's GRT is 90,090 tons; the length is 962 feet; the beam (width) is 106 feet; Draught (Depth below water line) is 28 feet; Cruising Speed is 24 knots; Passenger Capacity (double occupancy) is 2501; Crew Complement is 859. Travel to Ft. Lauderdale (Pre-Cruise): With the unpredictability of the weather in New Hampshire during January, we flew south two days early. We had elected to arrange our own air travel for greater flexibility (and lower fare). Our Delta (Song) flight was on time, full but not over booked, smooth and enjoyable; luggage retrieval was quick and uneventful. This was our first experience with Song, Delta's supposed lower cost subsidiary. While the flight was fine, I did not see where the lower costs entered into the equation; the prices we paid were competitive to regular cost airlines. Whatever savings were probably on Delta's side; snacks and/or lunch was available for sale (non-alcoholic beverages were still complimentary); playing cards are available for $2.00 a pack, and beach towels were sold for $15.00. We declined all the "for sale" items. Booking our hotel via the GGC group included transfers from airport to hotel, hotel to ship, and ship to airport. Check in at the Marriott Marina was speedy, with our room ready and waiting. Lunch was at a delightful spot on the Intercoastal Waterway and much of the afternoon was spent enjoying the warmth and sunshine. We had a quiet dinner locally on Friday night, and spent a good deal of Saturday traveling around Ft. Lauderdale via the Water Bus, after checking out the ships in the harbor preparing for their Saturday sailings. Saturday evening, we joined a number of the GGC group for a get-together and dinner at the Marriott. Embarkation: Sunday morning we walked to a local bagel shop to pick up ingredients for a leisurely breakfast which enjoyed on our hotel room balcony while watching the boat traffic and reading the paper, until time to leave for the ship. The bus arrived on time for our short shuttle ride to the ship terminal. After giving the driver a much deserved tip for all the luggage handling he had to do in the heat and humidity of South Florida, and leaving the bags with the stevedores, we entered the terminal and found the check-in process quite orderly and FAST!! Good job RCCL! The cruise lines now ask that passengers complete check-in information forms prior to the cruise, mostly for security reasons, but it also allows for a quicker check-in. The "Welcome Aboard" photo was handled professionally and with great dispatch, a harbinger of more good things to follow? One last stop prior to boarding; one has to stand at a pre-determined spot and place your cruise card into a slot and be photographed for the ships security system. Each time we subsequently left and returned to the ship, we had to insert our cruise card and the security officer could compare the photo with the passenger, while the ship's computer tracked the coming/going. Finally, on board! We were met in the lobby by a crew member who checked our cruise card and directed us to an elevator and told us, "Elevators to the right". Since we had previously cruised on the Serenade OTS, a sister ship to the Radiance OTS, we knew exactly where our cabin was located. We chose the stairs rather than deal with crowed elevators. We found our cabin easily enough, but missed the pampered feeling that one gets on Celebrity or Holland American while being escorted to your stateroom by a crew member. After disposing of our carryon bags, we set out to search out our cruisemates, reacquaint ourselves with the layout of the ship and get some lunch. Lunch was available in the Windjammer Cafe, on Deck 11. After lunch, we stopped back at our cabin prior to exploring the ship, checking the location of our Dining Room table, and locating our cruisemates. Most of our luggage had arrived, and we met Calvin, our cabin steward. Calvin introduced himself and showed us the location of our life jackets, explained the operation of the room safe, the temperature controls, the various knobs/dials in the bathroom, pointed out the refrigerator, and told us how to contact him if we wanted anything. He also reminded us of the time of the Lifeboat Drill, required by Coast Guard regulations, for all passengers. For the drill, we carried (as instructed) our life jackets to our Muster Station on Deck Five. As we were leaving our cabin, at the sound of the Emergency Signal, Calvin was coming to check our cabin to ensure that we were not still there. Once at the Muster Station, roll call was taken, despite the fact crew members were making a sweep of all staterooms, to make sure all were unoccupied, just as they would do in an actual emergency. We felt comfortable that this exercise was competently handled, even though the crew did not verify that all the passengers had properly donned their life jackets, after the crew demonstrated how to wear the life jackets. Stateroom: We were on Deck 3, (no confusing name to remember) cabin 3060 (Outside Double, port side, just forward of midship). The cabin measures about 170 sq. ft. Which was more than adequate at most times. The design of this class of ships has round windows in this category, and we find the "squarish" picture windows, which are usually larger, more appealing, but this is a minor point. Closet and/or drawer space was more than sufficient even for those of us that are "complete" packers. No, there is not space for the kitchen sink, but all your clothes should fit without difficulty. The bathroom is cruise ship friendly, but does allow for turning around without touching anything. Those of us that are super-sized appreciate this. The "no touch" situation does not apply to the friendly shower curtain; that situation has been resolved on later versions of the Radiance Class ships. There is a programmable safe in one of the cabinets and a "real" hair dryer is provided in each cabin; Janet liked this feature. Lighting can be controlled from the cabin doorway, or from bed, whether in twin or queen size configuration. Reading lights are adjustable and are non intrusive, nor likely to cause bumps to the head. Mechanically, everything worked as expected, after one small adjustment to the shower drain in the bathroom. Strangely, we had a similar problem when on the Serenade OTS. This was corrected within a very reasonable time after being reported to our Cabin Steward, just as it was on the Serenade OTS. The cabin was usually quiet, but at times noises were discernible from adjoining cabins, or the hallway, and these were not screaming situations, but rather loud talking. This was not the case on the Serenade OTS; perhaps a minor design flaw that has been corrected. It was not a major problem, but something we did notice. The two beds were made up in a queen size configuration, as requested, and were quite comfortable. There was one full length closet, one that had one fixed bar and two bars each providing enough length for shirts/blouses, or pants hung over the bar of a suit hanger (the top bar would be difficult to reach for someone less than about 5 feet 6 inches tall), which could be collapsed to provide full length usage of this space. The remaining closet had six fixed selves. There was ample room at the bottom of the closets even for all of Janet's shoes; the desk/dressing table and the night stands contained additional drawer/shelf space for the remainder of our clothes (we do not travel light when we cruise), although the night stands are not very large. There was no difficulty placing the empty suitcases under the bed. Calvin was most pleasant and willing to please, and had that knack that the true professionals have of never being in the way, but usually available when needed, and always only a telephone call away. RCCL has a process whereby each passenger has a fresh beach/pool towel placed in their cabin each day. If you find your self out by the pool and have forgotten your towel, deck attendants are there to supply more, but you must sign for them and return them to the attendant, or risk being charged for the towels signed out. This is supposed to reduce the number of towels available for "lounge saving". Public Areas: This a fairly large ship, with a passenger capacity of 2501, even though we were informed that there were 2116 passengers sailing on our cruise, but we seldom saw any real congestion. There is some congestion in the area of the on-board shops when the tables are placed in the walkways for the sale promotions. In a sense of fairness, we need to note that we did not spend a lot of time taking notes in all the public areas. In most cases our opinions are based on casual observations while moving about the ship at different times of day/night, and conversations with other passengers. Medical facility (Deck 2): Fortunately, we did not have any reason to visit this area of the ship. Centrum/Atrium (Decks 4 to 12): This was a focal point of the ship that many passengers used as a meeting place. Many public areas are adjacent to portions of the Centrum. Royal Caribbean online (Centrum, Deck 5): RCCL made Internet connection easy, if not inexpensive. Besides this location where Royal Caribbean on line terminals were available, each stateroom also allowed for direct Internet connection, with varying pricing options. Guest Relations/Purser (Centrum, Deck 4): As is usual, this was a busy area; the representatives staffing this area seemed very pleasant, knowledgeable and accommodating. Explorations/Excursion Desk (Centrum, Deck 4): This area being so close to the Lobby bar and the entrance to the Dining Room, sometimes fostered congestion, and even at other times the noise level could be quite high. Lobby Bar (Centrum, Deck 4): This is a very busy venue. Besides the activity of the Guest relations Desk, there was often a musical group playing here. Because of the design of the ship, music from this bar area could be easily enjoyed on all levels of the Centrum. This was also the scene for the many Art Auctions. Whether or not the Auctions were enjoyed is very individual-dependent. Cascades Dining Room (aft, Decks 4 and 5): Very comfortable feeling dining room with soothing color scheme. Large windows provide many sea views. There are very few tables for two; if that is important to you make sure your travel agent emphasizes this request on your reservation. There are also many very large tables, seating ten to twelve passengers. You may wish to confirm your table seating with the Maitre d' immediately upon boarding the ship, if table size is very important. The carpeting and draperies did an excellent job absorbing noise so that table conversations were easy, if the table was not too large. The dinner menus were limited in variety, however, each night providing at least a meat entree, a fish entree, a chicken entree. The main element of variety seemed to be a different sauce over the entree. There was also the "opt out" section on the menu; each night there was always available: a Caesar Salad; a ranch Steak; a fish dish (the fish varied, sometime the same as the entree). Everything that we had ordered was "OK", nothing was memorable either in taste or presentation. Someone compared it to a mid-ranged priced banquet offering; that seems to fit. For breakfast and lunch, the dining room offers "open seating"; as you arrive at the dining room, you are escorted to a table that has space. Once the table is full, the orders are taken. Only the lower portion of the dining room is used for breakfast and lunch. The breakfast menu was the same all week. Everything on the breakfast and lunch menus was also available in the Windjammer Cafe, usually with additional items available in the Windjammer. One exception may be Eggs Benedict not being offered in the Windjammer; we did not see them when we ate breakfast there. We ate most of our breakfasts and lunches in the Windjammer. Latte-tudes (Centrum, Deck 5): Coffee/espresso bar, also providing snacks. This is also where passengers could pick up copies of the New York Time fax (in various languages). Shops On Board (Midship, Deck 5): Normal selection of Logo wear, Resort wear, Perfume, Sundries, Liquor, Jewelry, and also a Tuxedo Rental shop. Prices seemed typical of shops aboard cruise ships. Art/Photo Galleries (Midship/Forward, Deck 5, starboard): Typical cruise ship photo gallery, with the added feature of interspersed pieces of art (both ship's collection and auction items). There is also a shop selling 35 mm and digital cameras and related items as well as the normal film and disposable cameras. Aurora Theatre (Forward, Decks 4, 5 and 6): This venue is primarily a theater, not merely another multi-purpose room. All the seats are fixed in place facing the stage, with the floor sloped downward from the rear toward the stage. This provides good sight lines from all but a few areas (as far as we could tell). There is a very large stage, with fore and aft sections that can be raised above stage level, or lowered below stage level, allowing for greater artistic interpretations. Sound levels and special effects are well presented. Overall, this an excellent entertainment venue. Colony Club (Aft, Deck 6): Very beautiful and cozy area. RCCL considers this five venues in one. The namesake Colony Club is the largest area having a stage used by musicians, a dance floor, and seating. Beverages are supplied by the adjacent, but supposedly separate, Singapore Sling's; opposite the stage there is the Jakarta Lounge. The Calcutta Card Club is, as the name implies, the card room; there are also a nice number of various board games available here, twenty-four hours a day, on the honor system. The Bombay Billiard Club, at the entrance to the Colony Club, on starboard side, is the location of the innovative self-leveling pool/billiard tables. These are attached to gyroscopes that detect ship movement and automatically compensate to keep the playing surface level; quite an interesting experience. These tables are reserved for passengers age 18 and older, except for some limited posted times for younger guests, accompanied by adults. Schooner Bar (Midship/Aft, Deck 6): This popular venue runs along the starboard side of the ship from the Centrum area to the Colony Club, with separate clusters of seating spaced along the way; it is also a non-smoking venue. On some afternoons and each evening, prior to each dinner seating, there was music provided by either a talented Classical Guitarist, or an engaging Piano Entertainer; sometimes The Rosario Strings also entertained here. Late night entertainment in this venue was provided by David Curtis, an extremely talented showman, as well as musician. He played each evening from 2145 to 0100, and often longer, depending on audience participation, without a break. Despite the lounge's size and popularity, the noise level never seemed to interfere with one's ability to listen to the music, or carry on an easy conversation. The end of the bar Forward on the ship is where one will find the entrance to Chops Grille Steakhouse; at the end of the bar Aft on the ship , the entrance to Portofino (more about these later, under Dining). Champagne Bar (Centrum, Deck 6): Surprisingly, this area only seemed to be well populated during the pre-dinner periods, despite being open from 1700 to 0100 each day. Casino Royale (Midship/Forward, Deck 6): Active venue most times; as is usual, there were many more losers than winners. Basic cruise ship table games and large number of slot machines. At various times during the cruise there were Blackjack and Slots Tournaments held here. Hours of operation, on sea days, typically were 0900 (slots) 1300 (tables) until late, when in port, the casino is closed. Scoreboard Sports Bar (Midship/Forward, Deck 6): This smallish area never seemed to be very active, despite being situated next to the casino. Bar was open from 1700 to 2300, with the many TV monitors going 24/7. There was a larger size screen on each side of the lounge which was showing sports related films (like The Natural or Tin Cup) but for some reason, the sound was turned off. The smaller screens were showing various sporting events (mostly soccer/football and golf), but it was not readily discernible if they were current or filmed events. Cinema (Forward of the Scoreboard Sports Bar, Deck 6); Somewhat popular venue, despite itinerary and/or weather. This area is not very large and passengers may need to sit on the steps due to lack of available seats, if it was a particularly popular movie. The seating is of the popular, and functional, stadium variety. Alas, there is no popcorn to be had, a la Holland America Line. Explorers Court (Centrum, Deck 8): This is the area where the Loyalty Ambassador (Future Cruise Advisor) set up shop most days. The daily Compass always stated that she would be at the Crown and Anchor Lounge, on Deck 8, however, the Crown and Anchor Lounge is on Deck 12 Library (Centrum, Deck 9): This Library is small, and does not provide very much in the way of a reading area. Selection/variety of reading material is marginally adequate. Check-out and return is based on honor system, hence the hours of operation are 24/7. There are some posted hours where an attendant is on duty; we are not sure what additional services they might provide, We were never there when attendant was. Yacht Club (Centrum, Deck 10): It is not readily apparent what is the reason for this area. As its name implies, it has a nautical theme and is tastefully done, but to what end? Concierge Club (Centrum, Deck 10): This venue is reserved for passengers booked in Category C, and higher (Suites), and Crown and Anchor Members at the Diamond Level. Entrance is gained by using your especially coded SeaPass card. Besides the reserved area, offerings are complimentary coffee, juice, tea, soda (maybe) and some snacks. Since we were not booked into a suite, this is second-hand knowledge. Pool (Midship, Deck 11): The pool seemed small for the number of passengers, But crowding did not seem to be a problem. This should be life's worst problem. Pools are open 24/7, except for usual late night cleanings, or emergency cleanings (we did not see any of the latter). Solarium (Midship/Forward, Deck 11): Pool area with retractable roof design; also has a whirlpool. The Solarium is supposedly adults only, with limited posted family times when children are allowed, if accompanied by an adult. This policy was not very well enforced; fortunately, there did not seem to be a large number of children on this cruise. Within the Solarium there is a bar and a pizza/snack area, and some tables and chairs. This theme area is complete with lush greenery and waterfalls. This appeals to a number of passengers, but Ray finds it too reminiscent of a "hot house". Our guess is that is one reason that cruise lines provide different options. One of his relishes of a sea voyage is the open air, even when the sky may be overcast. On this cruise, the roof of this pool area was closed the entire cruise, despite the wonderful weather. Ship Shape Spa (Forward, Deck 11): Typical Spa/Beauty Shop offerings, plus a number of offerings specifically for couples, i.e. Rasul (therapeutic mud) Treatment for two; Thermal suites for couples; Couples Massages. There are complimentary steam rooms and saunas for men and women. Periodic Health/Fitness seminars are offered, free of charge, with an invitation for personal consultations (not free). Golf Simulators (Aft, Deck 12): There are two simulators where you hit your golf shots at a projection screen and the result is determined by a computer. These seemed not to get a lot of use. Country Club (Aft Deck 12, port): This is the place to check out sports equipment (Ping-Pong balls/paddles, Shuffleboard poles/disks, volleyballs, basketballs soccer balls, rock climbing gear, etc.). This is also the location of the Shuffleboard court. Sports Court (Midship/Aft, Deck 12, port): This area is surrounded by netting to keep volleyballs, soccer balls, basketballs from going overboard. This area was used for various competitions/activities, as well as general passenger usage. Adventure Beach ( Midship/Aft, Deck 12, starboard): Here is where you will find separate pools for toddlers, small children, teens; it is also the location of the water-slide. Voyagers/Aquanauts (Midship/Aft, Deck 12): This is the center of pre-teen kid's programs. Included here are: games; computers; area for arts and crafts; a stage for plays; books and an area for story telling. This is a large well laid out area designed for multiple uses, without interfering with the other activities. Game Arcade (Midship/Aft, Deck 12, starboard): Arcades seem well on their way to becoming the children's version of casinos on cruise ships. This one is no exception; it always seemed to be well populated. It contained a large variety of driving/riding experiences, some shooting scenarios, etc. There was also an air hockey game. Optix (Midship/Aft, Deck 12, starboard); This is the teen club, complete with bar (non-alcoholic mocktails, juice, sodas, etc. There is also a DJ booth and dance floor, some computer terminals, a Foosball game and cards and some board games. Most of this is second hand information since this area was kept pretty much "Teens Only". There seemed to be quite a bit of traffic in and out of Optix, considering the small number of children on this cruise. Crown & Anchor Lounge (Centrum, Deck 12): One interesting feature of this lounge is in the center of the room, where there is a raised circular area (about bench height) that is actually a window looking directly down the center of the Centrum, all nine decks! Other than that, this area had some chairs and sofas and tables. There did not seem to be much use of this area. Ship Shape Fitness Center (Forward, Deck 12): This is a large well equipped gym, open from 0600 to 2300. This area was somewhat populated most of the time, the early morning hours seemed especially popular. There is a direct internal stairway from the gym to the area of the steam rooms and saunas in the Spa on deck 11. Jogging Track (Encircling Deck 12 exterior): If our collective memories are correct, five times around the jogging track equals one mile; check the plaque for exact information. The surface of impact-dampening material takes some of the strain out of jogging into some fairly strong winds, and the all weather surface also adds to the safety. Putting Green/Miniature Golf (Aft, Deck 13): Interesting little area (nine holes), with some moderate challenges. Open 24/7 and is pretty well protected from the wind. Check out mirror image sculptures of the figures reclining on benches. Rock Climbing Wall (Midship/Aft, Deck 13): This is not an area that we are particularly interested in, but many find it a draw. There are instruction periods (required before climbing) and limited times when climbing is available (only under staff supervision). Comments from passengers who have climbed to the top say that the view is magnificent. Viking Crown Lounge (Midship/Aft, Deck 13): The design of this large area actually allows for simultaneous, non-interfering usage of three different sections. Much of this room offers spectacular sea views from large floor to ceiling windows. One portion of this lounge is called Starquest and is also used as a late night dance club. Starquest is separated from the remainder of the lounge by a rotating bar area. Beyond the bar there is another dance floor and seating area. Hollywood Odyssey (Midship/Aft, Deck 13, port): This smaller lounge is decorated with motion picture memorabilia, very similar to its namesake on the Serenade OTS. It was also a one-night-only venue for some late jazz sets, by some members of the ship's orchestra. This session was great; I wish they had scheduled more of these. Windjammer Cafe (Aft, Deck 11): The layout of the Windjammer is that food serving areas are grouped in various stations: hot buffet; cold buffet; deli; fruits/salads; beverages; breads/rolls; pizza; desserts; soup/sandwiches. Some items may show up at more than one station. This design keeps lines to a minimum, but may require multiple trips for a full variety. There are no trays available; food is placed on large oval platters (approximately 12x8 inches). The best plan of attack seemed to be to scout out an available table and leave something/someone to reserve it until the food is obtained. Obtaining the food first and then looking for a particular table can allow hot items to cool considerably during a search for a desired table. If you are willing to take any available table, or eat outdoors, seating should be almost immediate. Food in the Windjammer was uniformly fresh, well prepared and tasty. Variety was excellent, but still a buffet, rather than table service, which some passengers prefer. The Windjammer is also the location of the self-serve frozen yogurt/ soft-serve ice cream stations. These stations also had a variety of toppings and cookies available. Seaview Cafe (Aft, Deck 12, starboard): Another place to obtain "snacks" (RCCL's appellation) is the Seaview cafe, located on Deck 12, starboard. The Seaview allows some very nice ocean views from both it's interior tables and those out on deck. This cafe is usually open from Noon, or 1400, to 1830 and from 2100 to 0200, and offers more than what we would consider "snacks". Our snack/lunch one afternoon was: a Reuben Sandwich; French fries; Clam chowder; Chicken wings and nuggets; water; lemonade (Burp!!). Upon entering the cafe, one places their order at the counter and is given a numbered placard and then selects a table. When the food is ready, a server delivers it to your table, piping hot. Other items available were: Fish and chips; Cuban pork sandwich; Corn chips with salsa, guacamole, sour cream; Onion rings: Seafood salad; Grouper Caesar salad; Hamburger; Cheeseburger; Tuna melt sub; Vegetarian sandwich; Nathan's hot dogs; Fruit and cottage cheese; Desserts. More than just snacks! Unfortunately, or fortunately, depending on one's point of view, this gem seems to be discovered rather quickly during the cruise, despite RCCL's lack of advertising it, but I guess I just did advertise it. So, there are times when passengers may be told that there will be a twenty minute, or longer, wait for their order. We even overheard one group being told that no more orders would be taken for the next 15-20 minutes because the grill was so backed up. Probably a testimonial to the cafe's food and ambiance. Shore Excursions: The ports visited on this cruise are ones we have visited in the past, and for the most part enjoy. They are also ports that many folks enjoy, or dislike, for different reasons, depending on personal preferences, We will not dwell on excursion options in this review, except to remind those unfamiliar with Grand Cayman, that in this port, all cruise ships must tender passengers to shore. Roatan is perhaps a less familiar port than most on this itinerary. We had been here previously and only left the ship to wander about the shops near the pier. This time we hired a taxi for a tour of the island and now have a better appreciation of this rough gem. A number of passengers who took the beach excursion, on both our visits, have expressed pleasure with this option; perhaps on our next visit. I do not think I would yet feel comfortable about taking a taxi to the beach and be confident that the taxi would be there for the return trip. Perhaps after the tourist industry has had more time to mature in this port, I will be more comfortable with that option. Entertainment: This is not an aspect of a cruise that will usually determine whether or not we have a great cruise experience. We attended a number of the headlined shows and they were fine, even though they were not anything special. Beyond the usual production (song and dance) shows, there were comedians, magician/illusionist, and of course the "Battle of the Sexes" show, and passenger Karaoke Idol Championship. The music in the various lounges/bars was pretty good. One night, some members from the ship's orchestra got together for a Jazz session in one of the smaller public rooms (Hollywood Odyssey). Unfortunately, this was a one-time occurrence. Service: To us, this is a key facet of a cruise that can delineate the difference between a "mediocre" and a "great" cruising experience. Good service can help mitigate minor shortcomings in other areas, and tends to remain longer in one's memory. Conversely, poor service can magnify those same minor shortcomings. Our cabin steward Calvin, from Jamaica, is one of those "phantoms" that even if you seldom see him, you know he is around. He seemed to anticipate all of our needs, and if we had a question he was right there to ask. The cabin was kept well ordered and clean. When we did see him, he was friendly and outgoing. Dining Room service was capably provided by our waiter Benedick, from the Philippines, and his assistant Jerry, also from the Philippines; the Head waiter was Hava, from Turkey. Benedick and Jerry worked very well together. By the second night, all personal preferences were noted and acted upon accordingly, and names were memorized, with each passenger addressed by name at each interaction. Ray's water glass was kept filled, even through dessert, a quirk of his. Benedick would provide dinner suggestions/tips concerning the menu options each evening, and he was not offended if you chose something else, and if whatever you did choose was not to your liking, he would quickly arrange for a replacement. If you could not decide between two choices, one of each was not a problem. One difference we noted on this cruise was that bread/rolls are not in baskets on the table, but offered by your servers when first seated and then not seen again unless requested. This was not a problem for us, Janet doesn't normally eat them and Ray eats too many if they are there. Perhaps this is a response to the viral outbreaks on many cruise ships? It would be our pleasure to be seated again at a table attended to by these two very capable individuals. In the Windjammer Cafe, service is obviously self directed, most beverage refills are offered at the tables, by crew moving through the Windjammer with carts. Drink service in the lounges was somewhat uneven and, overall, somewhat on the poor side, but passengers would be hard put to label service as "pushy" or "aggressive". Drinks were uniformly of good size and quality, and were comparably priced. Service in Chops Grille Steakhouse, on the one night we dined there, was good, but not outstanding, as one might expect, in a venue that carries an extra charge. Overall, Chops was a pleasant experience (the veal chop is excellent), but in our opinion, not a good value at the $40.00 per couple additional charge. Final Thoughts and Recap: As mentioned earlier, this was our third cruise with Royal Caribbean, and twenty-eighth overall, however, this is the only cruise where we had been serenaded by the Captain. Captain Kent Ringborn is a wonderful representative of the cruise line. Captain Kent amazed just about everyone at the Captain's Welcome Aboard Reception with a very professional rendition of Welcome to Our World. Later in the week, at the Repeaters Party, he serenaded us with two additional songs. All during the cruise, he was seen about the ship and was very approachable. One evening, when we dining at Chops Grill Steakhouse, the Captain made his way through the restaurant and stopped at each table to chat with passengers. We were told by our normal Dining Room tablemates that he did the same thing in the main dining room that evening. This is one of the most beautiful ships we have ever sailed on. The Radiance of the Seas is not only beautiful, but also well laid out; color schemes are soothing and comfortable. The art displayed about the ship is eclectic and very interesting; many pieces with placards explaining that piece's history. The staff are extremely friendly and usually very willing to be of assistance. Housekeeping was good, but did allow some room for improvement ("dust bunnies" on floor of elevators - once), but that was about it for criticism of housekeeping. One particular item that we enjoyed was the deck chairs on the wide Promenade Deck, a disappearing pleasure on many of the newer cruise ships. Unfortunately, the promenade does not completely circle the ship, at least not easily. This was our third cruise with Royal Caribbean. We are more than willing to sail with RCCL again, realizing that many aspects of their product are just OK and not outstanding. We feel that we received fair value for our dollars. There are always areas for improvement, on any cruise line and/or individual cruise. Thank you for taking the time to allow us to share our experience. We hope you found it informative and enjoyable. If you would like to discuss any aspect of this review with us, please e-mail us at: zeesinnh@aol.com Read Less
Sail Date January 2004
We sailed on the Radiance of the Seas, leaving Fort Lauderdale on Sun., 1/11/2004, for a 7-day cruise of the Western Caribbean. (This was only our 2nd cruise, our first being on RCI's Nordic Empress.) We were amazed at the easy ... Read More
We sailed on the Radiance of the Seas, leaving Fort Lauderdale on Sun., 1/11/2004, for a 7-day cruise of the Western Caribbean. (This was only our 2nd cruise, our first being on RCI's Nordic Empress.) We were amazed at the easy embarkation. We arrived at Port Everglades around 11:30 a.m. and walked right onto the ship (after, of course, the attendant document inspection, etc., which took a matter of minutes, at most). There was no wait at all! We were allowed to go straight to our stateroom, which is where I shall begin my review/critique: STATEROOM: We had staterooms, 3626 & 3628, as we were traveling with our two sons, ages 17 and 22. We were very impressed with the layout and economical use of space. We had done our homework & followed all the practical suggestions on CruiseCritic, etc., and adhered closely to the Calgon Packing List. (We even included not one, but two, hanging shoe pouches in our luggage to maximize our storage potential! We never even had to open those packages - maybe I'll offer them up on eBay. There was plenty of room for everything - and I didn't pack light!) The stateroom was beautiful - great color scheme, comfortable bed, and seven days of great views! STATEROOM SERVICE: I have high praises for our cabin attendant, Fanny. True to RCCI standards, our stateroom was always clean and tidy, no matter when we returned. But, Fanny went above and beyond. One day our boys returned to their cabin to find a strange gorilla-like creature making himself comfortable on their stateroom sofa! My son had purchased a silly coconut/gorilla face in Key West, which Fanny noticed laying around and created a body for it out of their discarded clothes and a pair of flip-flops, and there he sat waiting to greet them after their shore excursion! And, she always had a smile - and not just the requisite Royal Caribbean "We're-here-to-make-you-happy" type smile, but a very genuine, caring smile. She even left us a kind note at our departure - addressed to all of us by name and telling us how much she enjoyed being with us this week! As far as I know, she does this with all of her guests; and, if so - nice touch! Either way, it just made our day! (Needless to say, our tip properly reflected our high opinion of her!) THE SHIP: It was absolutely beautiful. I was so impressed with the attention to detail - the gorgeous inlaid woods and richness of the Colony Club area; the self-leveling billiard tables; the massive amounts of glass and windows (glass elevators facing the sea, creating a dizzying, yet breathtaking effect as you rose or descended); the artwork was awesome. Up in the salon/spa area are some beautiful carved stone walls which I doubt, in that less-frequented area, get the attention they truly deserve. Ditto to the awesome view for those who explore the ship thoroughly enough to get up to the Crown & Anchor Club area and look down thru a circular window in the floor to see the atrium floor 13 (12?) stories below. What a view! Cascades/Windjammer/Food: I have read pro & con regarding the food on this ship. I am genuinely surprised when I read critical reviews about the food - particularly one I saw comparing it to "Denny's on a bad day"! I must say, I found the food in general to be outstanding. I would rate it above-average at the very least - and the desserts were amazing. We (there were 8 in our group traveling together) were all-in-all quite happy with our food and our service. (We did have a waiter who tended to rush us a tad too much when ordering off the menu, which, given what we had paid for the cruise, we felt was inappropriate. But, he was young and had a few things yet to learn.) I ate breakfast in the Windjammer each day, and occasionally a snack - never a meal. I was happy with it; my husband found the eggs too runny; my boys were not particularly impressed with it. Again, I would rate it above average, but some may not agree with that assessment. And, again, the attention to detail - the presentation, and the layout to avoid long lines - I found to be faultless. Not once did I have to wait in a line at the Windjammer. The midnight buffet was nice - but the way it was laid out, people tended to get bottled up at the start of the buffet, so that needed work. The displays and the ice sculptures were gorgeous. I felt a little uncomfortable at the dessert table, because 1) those desserts were works of art and it seemed criminal to cut into them; and 2) apparently the servers felt the same way because when I stood there with my plate, no one made a move to assist in serving me anything, even though we're talking whole, uncut cakes, etc. that obviously you were not to serve yourself. I think there might have also been a language barrier issue at play there, however. We ate once at the Seaview Cafe (not particularly memorable); and it is a testament to the excellence of the food in the Cascades dining room that we never wanted to miss a meal there, thus never availing ourselves of the opportunity to check out either Chops or Portofino's (although their food displays looked scrumptious). ENTERTAINMENT: This could be improved on. The ship's troupe of singers/dancers tried very hard, but just didn't cut it. The arrangements were at times almost embarrassing - there was no continuity and they attempted things they just shouldn't have even tried unless they could pull it off (e.g., their Cirque du Soleil-esque (?) bungey cord dancing routine). They were too loud at all the wrong times and not loud enough at other times. They were all at various times just enough off key to make me cringe. They tried very hard. The comedians were pretty good - particularly one comedy duo that was hilarious from beginning to end. (Unfortunately, I cannot think of their names at present, which is unfortunate as they deserve the credit.) It is nice, though, to have the option of a nightly show. ACTIVITIES: Didn't play Bingo; didn't gamble; watched but didn't participate in the dance lessons, etc. Played Trivia several times - it was fun & had a regular following. We all enjoyed sunning/reading up in the pool area, enjoying a cocktail, listening to the island music - the atmosphere. And - we never had trouble finding a deck chair. We were often seen frequenting Latte-tudes - the ship's coffee bar, which had very good caffe mochas. EXCURSIONS: We arranged our excursions independently of the ship - all of them turned out great. We met some very pleasant local people that way who had a good working knowledge of the areas they were showing us. We did Captain Bryan's Stingray City tour, which I highly recommend - very professionally run and a lot of fun. I have only two issues with Royal Caribbean: 1) Regarding the shore excursions - Those who have booked with the ship are given preference getting off/tendering off the ship, which I feel is not fair to those who have appointment/people waiting for them on shore. If we are unable to make it off at the arranged time, we run the risk, through no fault of our own, of missing out on a very integral part of our vacation experience. It just isn't right to be put last in line simply because we chose to go outside the ship's network in our excursion plans. 2) I took my digital camera's memory stick to the photo shop on the Radiance and arranged to have the pictures copied to a C.D. so I could clear out the memory for more pictures. I asked them pointedly at the time if I could count on the pictures being there when I got home - that there would be no glitch in the C.D., that it didn't copy right or something. They acted like that was just a silly question and of course you can rely on our copying your pictures correctly. So, upon receiving their C.D., I erased my memory stick. When I got home to my computer and eagerly pulled up what constituted half of my vacation pictures - you guessed it - It was a blank C.D.!!! I could just cry. I sent an email to RCCI about this (hoping maybe there's still a C.D. out there somewhere in some bin with my pictures and I received a blank by mistake - or, if not, at least asking for a refund because we paid -through the nose - for those pictures to be copied). Their only response (several days ago)was a form email letter saying "We received your request and will get back to you." Nothing since! All in all, I would rate our cruise on the Radiance of the Sea as a 10. I recommend it to anyone - we came home totally relaxed and refreshed and are - even as I speak - eagerly looking into our next cruise. Read Less
Sail Date January 2004
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 Review Back to Back Cruise (Western & Eastern) taken November 16 and 23, 2003 Most reviews I have read have told what everyone has done from the time they have arrived at their port of embarkation until they have ... Read More
Radiance of the Seas Review Back to Back Cruise (Western & Eastern) taken November 16 and 23, 2003 Most reviews I have read have told what everyone has done from the time they have arrived at their port of embarkation until they have gotten off the ship. I'll try not to bore you like that. You want to read about the ship, the staff, the cabin, and the food so I will try to bow to your wishes. But first I would like to go out of my way to say this was the best cruise(s) we have ever been on. Personally I do not have anything I can complain about concerning the ship or the crew. Not everything was perfect but all problems were handled quickly and efficiently. Embarkation Nov 16th: We arrived at the terminal at 10:50 and were immediately greeted by RCI personal. He informed us that it would be another 15 minutes or so before we could board and showed us where to sit. Everything was pretty organized. They have rows of chairs set up and we were towards the front of the first row. They came by and provided us with the Compass so we could see what was going on when we boarded. They also made sure we had everything ready for processing. About 11:10 they started sending us through security and processing our boarding papers. Everything went quite smooth and we immediately boarded. We were in our cabin at 11:30. NEVER have we been on board this early. They were still cleaning the rooms, so we put our valuables in the safe, our carry-ons in the closet, and went on our way. Disembarkment & Re-embarkation on Nov. 23rd: WOW!!! Is all I can say. It was so easy. On Saturday evening we stopped by the Guest Relations desk, dropped off our documents for the following week, and picked up our new SeaPass cards. The next morning nine of us met down at Guest Relations in the Centrum at 9:30 and had about a half hour wait while everyone left the ship. The Manager of Guest Relations, Prasad personally walked us through disembarkment. Custom Inspectors looked at our passports and we were then taken downstairs where a gentleman collected our Customs Declaration forms. Back up the escalator on the other side to get our picture imprinted on the new SeaPass card, and back to the ship. Took about 10 minutes to get us off and back on again. And yes, we did have the option of going out for the day. Disembarkment Nov 30th: This went well also. This was our first time as Platinum members and we were able to wait in Chops Grille. They had coffee, tea, juice, and hot & cold water along with muffins, rolls, crescents, etc. As usual they had to locate a passenger or 2 but the wait was not very long. They started calling tags colors about 8:30. We were pink so it was closer to 9:30 before we could start the luggage hunt. Ft. Lauderdale is not set up like Miami where they luggage comes out on a carousel. This is like the old days where you look for your suitcases among the hundreds with the same color tags. It does take a while but I think it's faster than waiting forever for all your bags to be put on the conveyer belt. We grabbed a porter, walked right through Customs, and immediately boarded the bus. Here is where the only rub came in. We were flying American Airlines and they have something special set up for the cruise lines. ALL the cruise lines. The passengers are dropped off in the baggage claim area where American checks the passengers of the different cruise lines in for their flights. They have the boarding passes and luggage tags for everyone that has booked flights through the cruise lines. But for those of us who had booked our own flights, they had to call upstairs, have the documents printed, and walked down to us. It backed everything up and took forever to get checked in. Luckily we had plenty of time but it was very annoying, not to mention tiring, to stand there more than hour in a line that wasn't moving. American needs to do something to improve this check-in procedure. They have got it right in Miami but it sure hasn't carried over to Ft. Lauderdale. Cabin: We were in cabin 7532 at the front of the ship. This is an E1 with the large balcony. The room was nice. It has a loveseat, big enough for both of us, which I believe was a twin sleeper. Plenty of storage and I loved the shelves in the closet. The Eagle class has shelves too but you had to move the clothes to get to them. These have their own door and provide oodles of room. Even with 14 days of clothes and all our purchases, we still had some empty space left at the end of the cruise. The balcony is the plus. It was the standard width of the room but it was twice as deep, approximately 8'. Half of it is shaded by the balcony above you but the rest is open to the sky. Fantastic for watching a sunset, or working on that tan, and especially for stargazing. Also there is no real obstruction to see the ocean. The 6" rail for the window washer is the only thing between you and the sea. The deck chairs are not the typical white plastic but blue webbed sling chairs with the classic little table. We also had two smaller chairs in the plastic webbing like the deck lounge chairs. They made great foot stools. Lili, from Peru, was our cabin steward and what a jewel. She is all of 4'8", with a ready smile, who made sure everything was perfect. I drink bottled water and told Lili this on the first day. Each time she saw an empty in the trash I found a new one in the fridge. We had brought a stuffed animal as our jockey for the horse race which Lili fell in love with. Every day she would arrange the pillows after the morning cleaning and would include the jockey in the presentation. At the end of the cruise we gave him to her. Ship: This is the most beautiful ship I have been on. I was on the Norway not long after NCL had purchased and spent millions to refurbish her. Elegant ship at that time but the Radiance is miles ahead in class. We were also on the Navigator this last April and it is cold and impersonal compared to the Radiance. The Colony Club at the rear of the ship is marvelous. There is plenty of wood throughout the whole ship but the Colony Club has the feel of an old library/card/game room. From the crown moldings creating tray ceilings, to the multi-level seating, and the bar where the bartender is a step down so the bar stools are bar chairs. There is a card area on one side, chess and backgammon tables at the windows on another side, and the whole back end of the ship is floor to ceiling glass. The billiard tables are in a living room setting between the Schooner Bar and the Colony Club and are surrounded by books, several big screen TV's, with couches and coffee tables. The Colony Club was our favorite place to hang out in the evenings. They also do Karaoke here, bingo, the 50/60's sock hop, trivia, Capt Cocktail Party, among other things. Went to the Viking Crown (called Starquest on the Radiance) a time or two but it never had much going on till 11:30 or 12. Cool thing about the Starquest is the bar, bartender and all, rotates. The Solarium on the Radiance is stunning. It looks like an African jungle with elephants, tigers, waterfalls, and more. I love the bridge they have put over the pool. They have bird calls piped in during the day and cricket sounds at night. The dining room is quite pleasing to the eye from the white fabric wrapped columns, to the gorgeous mural at one end of the room, and the waterfall at the stairway. The Centrum has a lovely bar with a lighted glass stairway wrapping around it. There is a waterfall here too. Then there is the glass wall where you can watch the waves as you ride the elevators. This is way cool. And do not miss the animal relief outside the Spa. The Radiance no longer has Book, Books, and Coffee. They have turned that area into conference rooms. They had put a Latte-tudes on deck 5 overlooking the Centrum where they have seating next to the windows and computers scattered throughout the area. The Champagne Bar is across from Latte-tudes and it is decorated the same on all the Radiance and Eagle class ships. The Photo Gallery on deck 5 is quite large so everyone is not bunched up trying to find photos plus it is in a well traveled area. You must stop in at the Crown and Anchor Lounge on deck 12. There are 3 entrances to it. The main entrance is just off the stairway but you can also take 1 of 2 "catwalks" that give the lounge a floating effect. In the center of the lounge, you will find a large glassed "porthole" where you can look down the 7 decks to the Centrum. Yes it is made so you can stand on it to take pictures. Did I? No way! The ship is primarily non-smoking now. Smoking is allowed outside on the port (left) side of the ship and at the bars outside. Inside you can smoke in the Casino, at the bar only in the Scoreboard (sports bar), the aft area of the Colony Club, the left side of Starquest, plus your cabin. You can no longer smoke anywhere in the Schooner Bar. Food: We do not eat in the dining room so I can not comment on the food served there but our friends all said it was good and the wait staff, first-rate. We prefer to eat in the Windjammer, or the Seaview Cafe, Portofinos, or Chops Grille. We were always too busy to make our early seating and late seating is too long to wait. The Windjammer food was very good and we were never disappointed in the quality or the variety. Mornings were the characteristic scrambled eggs, turkey and pork sausage, bacon, and all the trimmings. The omelet man was always busy but I never tried one there. We also had breakfast on our balcony several times and had them deliver coffee most mornings. The food came hot and delicious and the omelets were wonderful. Plus it always arrived within the half hour time frame we had requested. Lunch/Snacks were either in the Windjammer or the Seaview Cafe (open from noon till 3), if we did not eat in port. I had read that the Seaview Cafe was like Johnny Rockets. No! They take your order at the door and then delivery it to your table. No singing, dancing, or Johnny rocket cherry cokes. Yes they have hot dogs and hamburgers with fries and onion rings but they also have much more. Dear husband enjoyed the Cuban sandwich and I though the fish and chips were good. The only problem I found was they do not have ice tea except in the can and I like mine with lemon and no sugar. You had to go down a level (stairs right outside the door) to the Windjammer and picked up tea, lemonade, or coffee. They did have beer and wine available though. Lunch in the Windjammer was the standard hot dogs, hamburgers (both excellent for archetypal lunch food), pizza, soups, a variety of sandwiches, salads, and desserts. We never had a problem finding a place to sit either, inside or out. The Solarium Cafe served pizza and snacks, and was open from 11:30 - 6:30. For dinner the Windjammer was open from 6:30 till 9 and had most of the same items found in the dining room plus sushi, Asian cuisine, and a wonderful salad selection with fruits and cheeses. The food was well prepared and they were always checking to make sure that you had whatever you needed. The Seaview Cafe opened again at 9 PM when the Windjammer closed and stayed open till 2 AM. Their menu never changed. They had several buffets. The first evening they had an All American Buffet and on Monday they had the Chocolate Decadence Buffet, the Caribbean Buffet pool side on Wednesday, and the Gala Buffet on Friday. Other evenings they would bring finger sandwiches and sweets around to the bars and public areas at 11:30. These buffets were on the same days for both itineraries. Portofino was very good and we enjoyed it as usual. Now the Portofino on the Navigator was just a touch better, food and service, but don't get me wrong, it was well worth the extra $$'s. The lobster is bigger than you get in the dinner room and the veal medallions were very tasty. Chops Grille was our favorite though. We ate here 3 times in the 2 weeks. We tried the Prime Rib, Fillet, Strip Steak, and Veal Chop. The best was the fillet which you could cut with your fork and the veal chops the least favorite. Not bad, just a little fattier that we would have liked. Husband loved the crab cakes and I thought the bread pudding was to die for. One thing though -- when watching the channel on the TV that shows the Compass activities and the dining room menus, don't believe the menus. They are not always correct. Sometimes, they weren't even close! Glance at the menus posted outside the dining room to double check. Suggested Attire: Western Caribbean Sunday - Casual Monday - Formal / Capt Cocktail Party Tuesday - Casual / '70's Disco Wednesday - Casual or Toga Thursday - Formal Friday - Smart Casual & 50's Sock Hop Saturday - Casual Eastern Caribbean Sunday - Casual Monday - Formal / Capt Cocktail Party Tuesday - Casual / Country Western Wednesday - Smart Casual / Caribbean Thursday - Formal Friday - Casual / '50 Sock Hop Saturday - Casual Entertainment: I'll be brief because these are always changing. Steve Bruner - Comedy / OK Nick Lewin - Comedy & Mystery / Lame Hill Brother - Comedy & Jugglers / Lame Toxic Audio x 2 - Acappella Music / They were on both weeks and were outstanding. If you get the chance to see them, DO NOT MISS IT. Burt Leigh - Comedy / Very funny Did not see either of the production shows plus we missed both farewell shows. There was just not enough time to get everything done some days. Activities: Western - Late Night Adult Comedy The Challenge, which is a survivor type "game" where you play pool, mini golf, climb the rock wall, etc. They pick 8 people to play during the week and the audience during the evening show times "votes" a person off each day. '70 Disco Party Love & Marriage Game Show Toga Party Dart Competition Battle of the Sexes (Family feud - girl's vs the guys & quite funny) Sock Hop Quest Owners Horse Race Cooking Demo Karaoke Idol Championship Eastern - Majority Rules Games Show '70 Dance Fever Wild West Dance Party Mini Golf Tournament Quest Caribbean Fiesta under the Stars Love & Marriage Game Battle of the Sexes Sock Hop Horse Racing Win a cruise bingo Cooking Demo Karaoke Championship Most of the same things were going on each week like the Bar Tricks demo, bingo, wine tasting, art auctions, and more. I was just trying to hit the highlights of each week. If you have any questions of dates or times, I have all the Compasses for each week. I would be happy to answer any questions you might have. Shore Excursions: I did not give a high rating to the one excursion we took this cruise.. Generally we go out on our own but we had never been to Costa Maya before and decided to take the Dune Buggy Tour. Do not waste your time. The dune buggies are falling apart and ours was leaking gas. Yeap, I was green by the time we got to the beach. They did get it fix somewhat for the ride back. They take you on a concrete road for about 30 minutes and you only go down a dirt road for about a mile to get to the beach. Where the pop and water wasn't chilled and they served chips with cheese sauce from a jar. his for over $120 for the 2 of us? I think not. Stay in the plaza that is right off the ship. They have created a great place to shop, eat, drink, or enjoy the beach. The is a huge free-flowing pool which wanders around one side of the plaza with a restaurant on one side and a bar on the other you can swim up too. We had friends who spent the day here and had a great time. Staff: Here is where this ship excels. How can I explain the pampered service we received everywhere. I wish I had the time and the space to mention everyone like Michael, Vinney, Jesus, Iwaylon, and their boss Lloyd. I have already mentioned our cabin steward, Lili who always had a moment for you with a smile on her face. To Frederick the head bartender for the Schooner Bar and the Colony Club who opened the back bar just for the Cruise Critic Boarding Party for the second weeks group. He provided us with our 2 favorite waiters (Jerome & Gusti) and bartender (Rada). These guys took extra special care of us always, making sure we always had whatever we needed no matter how busy the Club was. And the nights of Quest and the Sock Hop, it was VERY busy. To Inyoman in the Schooner Bar who always had a smile and a big welcome even though, as smokers, he knew we won't be spending much time with him. To Dirk and Mindi in Chops and Kristina in the Windjammer who went over and above in service. Thank you to all the wonderful people whose name we did not learn but had a smile and a friendly word or two for us each time we met. And the cruise director(s) - we had 2 -and their staff who were the greatest fun. Angie was with us the first week and Bill took over the second week. Each had time to say hello each time they saw us. Gennie, the asst CD, we had met on the Navigator, and is the sweetest thing. To Kirk and his trivia, Giovanni and his dance moves, Jennifer with her bubbling personality and such a great collaborator with Gennie, and Collette the new kid on the block with her big smile. Then there's PK, the manager of Guest Relations whom I had mentioned earlier, who bent over backwards to handle the problem we had with the on-board credits. To the Staff Captain, Gustavo whom we had met him earlier in the cruise, and stopped what he was doing as we were leaving the ship to shake our hands, ask about our vacation, wish us a good trip home, and to invite us back to his ship. I don't think we could have been treated better if we had been in the Royal Suite. Yes, we were very impressed with the ship and everyone on it, as you can tell. Was everyone working there smiling and happy - no, but we didn't let a few people effect the general mood of the ship. Everyone is entitled to a bad day. I cannot stress enough, if you are looking for one of the most beautiful ships and the friendliest staff to sail the Caribbean and points west, please book the Radiance of the Seas. I don't think you will be disappointed. Read Less
Sail Date November 2003
I want to start by saying that it was Cruise Critic that helped me choose this trip, which was my first ever cruise and now I want to give something back to this site. I guess I will start by saying that my cruise was Nov. 9 2003 and was ... Read More
I want to start by saying that it was Cruise Critic that helped me choose this trip, which was my first ever cruise and now I want to give something back to this site. I guess I will start by saying that my cruise was Nov. 9 2003 and was a 7 day cruise around the Eastern Caribbean. Me an my Fiance left out of Ft. Lauderdale and went to San Juan, St. Maarten, St. Thomas, Nassau, and back. Anyway, getting on the ship was really hassle free. We didn't wait for a really long time to get onto the ship. We got to the port at like 1:45-2:00 pm and we were on the ship by like 2:20-2:30. Again, all the staff was courteous and embarking was hassle free. I had never been on a cruise ship before, but I couldn't get over how beautiful the ship was. I honestly couldn't believe that this was a ship. I felt like I was in a hotel or a resort on land. My first complaint happened when I got to my room. We had gotten the Deluxe Balcony room, just under the classification of a suite. When I got there, I was hit by that "sour towel" smell. I was thoroughly annoyed. However, when I called the stateroom attendant, he immediately had maintenance come and replace the shower curtain. After that, no more smell. We went to Portofinos the first night. The food was fantastic and the service impeccable. I will honestly say that the Italian food there could rival the Italian food in NYC. The $20 service charge per person was worth it, but my suggestion is if you want to eat at the optional restaurants, do it the first night. We didn't go to Chops, but had heard that the food there was excellent. The main dining room was gorgeous and the food outstanding. There is something wrong with those that complain about the food on this ship. You will be hard pressed to find food of this quality without having to go to a major city and dropping at minimum $50 a plate. Our waiters I felt were genuinely nice, not just because they had to be and they made us feel very special. Every meal was a wonderful experience because of the quality of food and the exceptional service. I honestly didn't see any of the shows but I had heard they were entertaining. I also had heard the comedian was not funny and many people left before the end of his show. Oh well. Me and my fiance would go to the hot tubs at like 1 or 2 am because there was usually nobody there. In the day, I wasn't feeling the crowds at the pools or the hot tubs. My fiance went to the gym to workout and if you're into that, the gym on the ship had all the equipment and room necessary to do what you gotta do. I was quite content to gain weight thank you very much and be a lazy slob on this trip! The weather sucked for most of the time I was cruising. It was raining all the time except for when I went to Nassau. If I can make a suggestion, when I went to St. Thomas, I went on the booze cruise for $30 a pop. That was a huge waste of money. I was better off taking a taxi and boozing it up on my own than to pay all that money to drink spiked Kool Aid. Do yourselves a favor and don't go on the excursions. You can find a good time on your own and save that money for beer! One more thing, I wasn't feeling the fact that everyone keeps pawing after you to buy something or get your hair braided. I know that is how the people there make their money but it got Real annoying Real quick! My other major complaint on this trip was room service late at night. It was non existent. I stayed on the phone for 15 minutes. I got so mad I called the complaint desk and they told me that there was someone working the phones. I just want to say that they need to increase the amount of people working the phones or staff at night or something because the room service at night has a lot to be desired for. Overall, I loved the ship. Besides the complaints I mentioned, I would definitely sail with Royal Caribbean again. They showed me a good time and except for the minor hiccups in service, it was outstanding. Bravo to RCCL and I how to be on one of your ships again soon. I purposely choose this time to go because of my anniversary to my fiance and also cause all those stank kids were in school. The few kids that were on the ship were controlled very well by the staff and I had heard the kids had a great time on the ship. Oh yeah, even though my room was near the elevators and stairs, I was never disturbed or anything. Also, it was easier access to my room when I got smashed. Read Less
Sail Date November 2003
Wow, reality check time... Woke up this morning and no balcony overlooking the entire Pacific Ocean. No sound of the water churning. No rocking of the ship. All of my new best friends scattered to the four winds. Bummer...Time to book a ... Read More
Wow, reality check time... Woke up this morning and no balcony overlooking the entire Pacific Ocean. No sound of the water churning. No rocking of the ship. All of my new best friends scattered to the four winds. Bummer...Time to book a new one, fast! Background Info Departure date: 10-8-2003 Ship: Radiance of the Seas Cabin: 9256-category D, aft corner balcony We initially booked this cruise back in September of 2002. The date was switched from November to October and we were given $300 onboard credit for the trouble. Not only was this now a month earlier and warmer, but also cabin 9256 was originally booked and it came available after the dates were switched! Pre Cruise Spoke online with about 30 of our newest friends on Cruise Critic and they talked us into coming out to Honolulu early, so we left San Diego on Friday, Oct. 3 via limo for the Crowne Plaza Irvine hotel. I booked this hotel via Priceline for $28 for the night and it was literally within ½ mile of the John Wayne Orange County Airport and we caught a free shuttle to the airport in the morning. Unlike some of our fellow travelers, we had no problems with the flight on Aloha Air. We left John Wayne at 9:15 am and arrived in Honolulu after an exceptionally smooth flight at a little after 11:30am. We took a shuttle for about $9 per person to our hotel, but they packed us in and dropped off at several hotels before ours, so it was more than an hour to get to our hotel. I think I might spend the extra $ to take a cab next time and not have to make all the other stops. Our hotel was the Sheraton Waikiki. I booked this on Priceline for $100 per night. I really wanted to get the Hilton Hawaiian Village as it looked like a nicer property (it is) and also we have heard stories about getting the 'Priceline' rooms at the Sheraton (ie: 'city view' rooms above the A/C condenser). Upon arrival, we found we had been 'upgraded' to the Royal Hawaiian next door. Now, although the Royal is a 5 star property, what we wanted in Waikiki was ocean view. We knew that at the Royal, there was no way we were going to get upgraded to an ocean view, so we told them that I was doing reviews for both Cruise Critic and Priceline (true) and asked to be switched back. They did this with no problem. However, there were no ocean view rooms available at either property, even when we offered to pay more to get one, so we ended up with the City View over the A/C for the first two nights. By this time, practically everyone there, including the managers knew who we were (we were nice, but persistent about trying to get an oceanview as soon as one came available), and we checked a couple times a day to see if one had opened up. The hotel was hosting American Idol that weekend so I guess that's why it was so crowded. At one point, Cindy whispered, 'look behind you'. I did but did not know what she was talking about. I said, 'what?' She said, 'That was Paula Abdul who just bumped into you!!!'. So? Anyway, on Monday morning we called down again to see if there were any ocean view rooms and the person said, no they were still sold out, then she looked at our room number and said, 'Oh, Mr. and Mrs. Ellis, I didn't realize it was you, yes, we will have your room available in a couple of hours'. Cool! So by 1pm we were moved into a wonderful ocean view room overlooking the pool area. This is a nice property, Cindy loved it, but I thought it was OK, and the service was VERY mediocre. The Hilton Hawaiian Village was a much nicer property with tremendous service. I would pay the extra $60 per night to stay there next time. Most of the time in Waikiki, we sat by the pool or exercised in preparation for the cruise. Since we were on West Coast time, we were up at 5am every morning and took long sunrise walks all around Waikiki. It was wonderful. I got a chance to work out at the fitness center every day (small, but never crowded). It was $8 per day, but for $16 you could use it for your whole stay and you also got to use the fitness center internet computer for free. Excellent deal. Cruise Critic Group Our awesome online group had arranged to meet at the Hilton Hawaiian Village for drinks and dinner on Tuesday night before the cruise. We were told the Shell Bar would be available for us to meet up, but when we got to town, we found it did not open until 7:30pm and we were meeting at 6:30. Quickly posted online we were moving to the Tapa Bar and HHV was kind enough to direct people from the concierge desk to the Tapa Bar for our group and also to pass out name badges. People started showing up right at 6:30 and the HHV staff had no problem with us basically taking over the bar and moving all the tables together for our get together. Again, wonderful staff there. We had a great time and got to put the faces with the names (and logon names). After that we moved to the Golden Dragon restaurant at the HHV and had a fantastic dinner (and used our Entertainment Hawaii coupon to buy one, get one free. I would highly recommend getting the Entertainment book if you are going to spend any time in Hawaii before the cruise). Embarkation We couldn't wait to get on the ship, so we took a taxi early on Wed. to the port. We arrived at around 11:45am and waited about 10 minutes to get our suitcases checked in (they were just setting up the x-ray machines). It's a good thing we were early. It literally took us 5 minutes to get through the security line where everyone else would later have to wait up to 3 hours in the sun. After that, we were about 15th in line at check in, and when they opened up at a few minutes after noon, it again took just 5 minutes for us to check in and get our sign and sail cards. By 12:15 we were on the ship and headed to our room. Important Note: By about 1:30pm, the line was VERY long and people were standing in the hot sun for most of their wait. Either arrive very early like we did or later in the afternoon (after 5pm). Cabin We had the legendary cabin 9256 on the port aft corner (back left for you landlubbers). The room itself is a standard D cabin with no bathtub and small closet, but the balcony is what this cabin is all about. A big size (not as large as I expecting, but plenty big enough for 2 lounge chairs, 2 regular chairs and a table. The balcony winds around toward the side of the ship, but you cannot see around the corner, but you still get a more than 180 degree view from the balcony. I was worried about the size of the cabin since we had only had a C cabin before and it was a good 100 sq. ft. larger than the D, and this was a 10 day cruise, but there was absolutely no problem. We never felt cramped, other than the small shower and the narrow closet. We had to have my dressed shirts pressed because the closet is not wide enough for clothes to hang directly perpendicular and they would get wrinkled. Other than that, we absolutely loved the cabin and for the 4 sea days, in October, the sun set DIRECTLY behind the ship, so we felt like it existed just for those of us with aft balconies. We will get this cabin or 1100 any time we sail on Radiance class. Nothing else will do. Just for comparison purposes, we also got the grand tour of cabin 1600, which was considered a B cabin (hi Celia and John!). This was a wonderfully appointed cabin, but really only the size of the C that we had on Explorer. The balcony is probably larger than ours and felt more spacious since it was a deck higher and it had MUCH more storage space than ours, but we felt that for the price of a D compared to a B, 9256 was a much better value for someone of our financial resources. Ship We had only been on Explorer before and this ship was some 1/3 smaller in size and felt much more intimate. The Schooner Bar/Colony Club on deck 6 was by far my favorite area. There is nothing like this on Explorer. Elegantly done in dark woods, this was a warm and inviting area of the ship and felt like cruising in the golden age might have been. We really missed the Promenade as a place to go for the meeting/gathering place. The Centrum area on deck 4 served this purpose on Radiance, but is a small space and was always rather crowded. There is still a lot to do on this ship. The solarium pool is where we thought we would be spending a lot of time, but since it was packed at all times, I actually never spent any time there at all. In comparison, the main pool was never really that crowded, even on sea days, and all the poolside activities always seemed to have the same group of people involved (Hi Nancy!!!), because the average age on this cruise was somewhere around 70. Those of us younger (in age or spirit!) were always doing things together while the majority of the passengers just sat in chairs or ate. The Starquest (Viking Crown) was a disco for adults and played the same music every night. It was fun but got old for me quickly. The Colony Club had some different music every night, but the best music on the ship was by the band Horizon in the Colony Club. They played a variety, but mostly rock and roll and was much more my kind of dancing spot. The walking/jogging track was too narrow and with all the slower moving folks on board, it was impossible to get a workout on it. Which was fine because the fitness center was fantastic. Completely modern machines and it was empty if you went early enough in the morning. The rock-climbing wall was shorter and easier than the one on Explorer (which I did not make it to the top on, even though I have rock-climbed quite a bit in my younger days). On Radiance though, both Cindy and I made the top with relative ease. The Adventure Ocean area looked like a fun area for kids, but there were probably less than a dozen kids 16 or younger on the whole ship, and two of them were the captain's kids. There is a very large casino on board (probably bigger than the one on Explorer) and there were 2 tournament days with one Slot and one Blackjack tournament each day. These were the opposite from Explorer; the Slot tournament on Radiance was much larger than the Blackjack (again, probably a function of the demographic of this cruise). I never once played the slot machines and played Blackjack only once. I broke even and Cindy won $20. She also won about $100 on the Wheel of Fortune slot machine. There are only 2 Wheel of Fortune slots on this ship and I know for a fact that they paid at least 4 $1000 jackpots on our sailing. Food Not as good as Explorer. The first four nights in the dining room were really not very good at all, especially the fish dishes. This improved drastically later in the cruise and I thought the lobster was excellent, both in the dining room and in Portofino's. The Windjammer food was good, not great, and I actually liked the food served during the 'Afternoon Tea' there much better than the lunch choices. Lunch was sandwiches, salads and light pastas, and burgers and hot dogs. The Tea had a taco station and heartier foods like Lasagna. The desserts were good, not great, except for my downfall, the flourless chocolate cake. As some other posters have stated, there were strange choices made for the dining room menus. There was neither Filet Mignon nor Lobster on either of the two formal nights. What's up with that? Room service lost our breakfast order twice so we just got coffee for our morning balcony repose and then walked up for breakfast in the Windjammer after that. There was also mention of the bread baskets not being left on the tables. One word to our headwaiter Mimi (the best customer service person on the seas), and we had hot bread baskets left on our table every night after that. On the other hand, Portofino's was spectacular. The service and food were impeccable. It also didn't hurt that Mimi had taken a liking to our table downstairs and was checking up on us. First he got us a reservation at a window table during sunset on a night when Portofino's was supposed to be sold out. Then, at one point the general manager of Portofino's came by and said, 'I don't know what your situation is, but Mimi is calling every 10 minutes to make sure we are taking care of you'. I would HIGHLY recommend doing at least one dinner here. I heard that the Seaview Cafe food was good, but rich (ie: greasy). The Solarium Cafe was nothing to speak of. Drink We don't drink soda, mostly just water (for non-alcoholic drinks), so I can't tell you about the pricing of that. However, one of the big negatives about this sailing compared to Explorer is that there are no longer drink cards for alcoholic beverages. That, plus the seemingly higher prices on Radiance meant that the minimum for a glass of wine (my preferred poison) went from $3.75 (with the drink card) on Explorer to $6.33 on Radiance. Ridiculous. Even doing the Wine and Dine card for dinners, we got hammered on drink costs at the end of the cruise. It's RCCL's fault, but they're going to drive me to do something I never have. Can you say smuggle? If they bring back the drink cards or have reasonable prices for a house wine, I may change my mind, but $6.33 per glass is just way too much. Ports Kauai By far the best tour we did was the helicopter tour on Kauai. It was absolutely incredible! We used a company called Bali Hai Tours, but for two reasons I would recommend Safari Tours instead. First, Bali Hai is out of Port Allen, which is about a 1/2 hour drive from the port at Nawiliwili. It would have been an $80 cab ride round trip for the two of us, so we just rented a car that morning ($35 for the day from Alamo and they pick you up and drop off right at the ship). Safari Helicopter Tours is located right at the airport, just 5 minutes from the port and they will pick you up at the ship. Second, Bali Hai does not do a tour video that you can buy. Some companies do the videos using stock footage and then add some audio and video from your tour. From talking to folks who used Safari, they do the entire video from footage and conversation on your specific tour. The tour itself was fantastic. The pilot said we had lucked out. It had rained all night the night before but cleared the day we were there, so we got to see all the waterfalls in their full glory. There were literally hundreds and hundreds of them everywhere. The Na'pali coast was awesome. Just get up the nerve and take one of these tours. You will never forget it. We spent a couple more hours driving around to some of the falls, and then we were getting pooped, so we headed back to the ship. As we did the sailaway, with the sunset directly off our aft balcony, it really felt like we were sailing away from Jurassic Park, with the fiery red sunset hanging over the jungle-laden cliffs of the island. Maui We had two days in Lahaina, my favorite of all the towns we visited in Hawaii. The first day we rented a car and drove part of the famous Hana Highway. We rented from Alamo at the Kapalua airport, about 10-15 minutes from the port. They told us they did not pick up at the port but that turned out to not be true. We caught free Alamo shuttles both directions. Just make a note of when the last shuttle from the rental location to the port leaves. The Hana Highway was wonderful, but we found an even better drive in Hilo a couple days later that is mentioned below. The road is not nearly as bad as described, but we stopped about 10 miles before Hana and I heard the road gets worse past Hana. There were numerous streams among the jungle, but they were all dry, so this part of the island must not have had much rain in recent days. I wanted to find a pool under a waterfall that I could swim in, but there were really none to do this in, but I did eventually get to do this, again with help from Hilo, as you will see below. On the way back, we stopped about 8 miles outside of Lahaina, where there is a snorkeling spot right off the main road. We saw many other snorkelers there, so we just pulled off the road and waded right in. There was great snorkeling right off the beach in clear waters, although the water was a bit cold. Great fun though. We later decided to just drop the car off that day and see about doing a snorkel tour the next day instead of just hanging around Lahaina as we had planned. We were VERY happy that we did the tour. The snorkel tour we did was on, I believe, the Lahaina Princess. It was about $59 per person and we just arranged it at one of the tour booths in Lahaina. We do not do tours through the ship at all. There are much better prices just booking online or at the pier. The Lahaina Princess is a big power cat, it made good time over to Lanai and the snorkeling was good. The way back to Lahaina is usually against the wind, which made for some fun wave jumping, but if you are prone to seasickness, avoid it. Also, since it is a power boat, it is not as conducive to seeing dolphins. Others in our group did the same tour but on a sail catamaran and they saw lots of dolphins. We had a great time bouncing over the waves and met some new friends that were on our ship. The women had a great time watching the guys try to negotiate the pitching deck carrying Maitais (which were free on this tour). Then it was back to the ship to watch another sunset sailaway from our balcony. Hilo In Hilo, we rented a car (also Alamo and also painless and quick and both checkout and checkin-we love Alamo) and went to the Volcanoes national park. I thought it would be boring, but it was really a lot of fun. The steaming ridge and all the other viewpoints of the Kilauea caldera are very neat. We did not walk out to see the flowing lava, it was about a 2-mile walk from the end of the road and we had other things we wanted to see in Hilo. Also in Hilo, in town, get the directions to the Rainbow Falls. As I said before, one of the things I wanted to check off my life list was to swim in a pool below a waterfall in Hawaii. Rainbow Falls is beautiful and literally right in town, but if you hike a short distance (100 yards or so) to the top of the falls, there is a big calm pool and some smaller pools under the cascades that you can swim in. The water was wonderfully refreshing (!) and I got to check that off my list. In addition, if you do get a rental car, if you head out of Hilo to the west on Highway 19, just at the edge of town you will see a sign for 'Scenic Route'. Take it and take your time on it. It is a series of tiny canyons full of tropical plants and flowers and cascading streams and waterfalls. It's like being in a ride at Disneyland except it's the real thing! It was absolutely amazing and we thought blew away the Hana Highway for sheer beauty. Kona In Kona, we did the Body Glove snorkel tour. Do the morning tour, again to avoid heavier seas that make snorkeling not as good. The Ironman Triathlon was in town and it made for tight movements for the tenders to get in. More on that below. Here's a tip: the Body Glove had a coupon in the Hawaii Entertainment book (which we bought before our cruise and it saved us hundreds of $$). We called and said we found them from their website and wanted to use the coupon. When they found out we were from the ship, they said that usually we would have to go through the ship tour, since they had a contract, but since we found them from the web, if we didn't say anything, they wouldn't either. We paid $42 per person with the coupon, would have been $89 per person through the ship. The trip out and back was fun and the snorkeling was fantastic! The ship also has a waterslide and a high dive for diving into the bay. The crew was a blast; they had a joke for everything and really know how to entertain their guests. The only problem was that we were supposed to be going on the morning tour with all the people from Radiance, but somehow our ship got bumped to the afternoon tour, so instead we were on a ship full of Infinity guests. Definitely not my type of crowd. Didn't seem very nice or fun, but oh well...We had a good time. Now for the tender situation. HUGE problem! This was the worst part of the cruise in my opinion. Celebrity Infinity was in Kona at the same time we were, as I said, and for most of the day there was only one berth for tenders. This meant long waits in the harbor and lines of 2-3 tenders waiting to drop off. Eventually Infinity was able to get a second berth that only they were using, so their lines in Kona to get back on the tenders were very short, while Radiance lines were very long and some people had to wait for 2 or 3 tenders before getting on (maybe 45 minutes to an hour in 95+ degree heat). I was even feeling light headed in the heat and we only had about a ½ hour wait. Also, Infinity had water and cold towels for their guests while Radiance had none. We actually rode back on our tender with the captain and he was on the radio trying to find a remedy, but I guess there just was not one. Anyway, we then had yet another beautiful sailaway and we were off on our 4 straight sea days. Now I love sea days and we had specifically planned our sailing to have the sea days at the end so we could recover from the GO-GO-GO of the island days. Good choice. Sea Days In contrast to another review, I felt that there was still so much to do on the sea days that I never even made it up to play miniature golf or to try out the golf simulator (which I really wanted to check out). I worked out in the gym every morning, sat by the pool for the first two days (it was cloudy and cooler the last two sea days, so not much pool action), did classes, played Bingo, bought a race horse—Go Cruisin Suzin!, did the rock wall, relaxed, ate and went out dancing with our friends every night. I just think sea days are so relaxing. There is no agenda, if you want to do something, you do, and if you want to do nothing, you do that too. The last evening, still trying to catch up on sleep from the night before, after staying up drinking and dancing all night, I went out onto our balcony in the mid-afternoon, laid a couple of towels on the lounger, pulled a pillow out of the cabin, laid down and covered up with a warm blanket (it was a bit chilly outside by this time). I proceeded to doze off to the soothing sound of the churning water below, and wake up every little while to a more a more beautiful sunset each time. I cannot think of any time in recent memory that I felt that peaceful and content. I never wanted it to end. But most good things do come to an end. Debarkation The last night was spent saying goodbye to all our new friends and exchanging cards and email addresses, assuring each other that we will stay in touch and hopefully someday get the chance to cruise together again. I walked the decks that night in the wind and said goodbye for now. The next morning we arrived in port in Ensenada at around 2 am. We had to have our checked bags packed and in the hall by 10pm the night before and we had everything else packed and ready to go as well, so we got up at 5:30am, 45 minutes before our bus was scheduled to leave. The debarkation by color and number was poorly designed, with many people arriving on time, only to have to wait for an hour + before their bus was finally called. We were scheduled for 6:15 and we actually got on our bus at 8am. For future cruisers. Just get some breakfast and then stay in your room until your number is actually called. There is no reason to show up before that time. Once your color and number are called, there is plenty of time for you to get to the theater and sign in before your group will leave. Once we did get called to go, it was relatively easy after that. We walked right onto the bus and then napped for the 2 ½ hour crossing of the border. Most of the time is consumed in the drive from the toll road to the Otay checkpoint. This drive is on city streets and takes forever. Just nap if you can and pretty soon you will reach the border. At the border, the cruise lines have clearly learned their lesson from past bad experiences. We went through a special bus line that took about 20-30 minutes to cross and we did not-I repeat-did not have to get off the bus at all! The customs agent came on the bus and checked identification and collected the customs declaration forms and that was it. We were all pleasantly surprised. From there it was another 20 minutes to the airport where we got off and got our baggage. Since we are from San Diego, we just caught a cab from there, but the bus will drop you right in front of your airline so you can check right in. Overall, what I can say is this: I'm looking at when I can book this itinerary again, since I loved it, and still have many, many things on the islands and the ship that I didn't have nearly enough time to do on this first pass! Read Less
Sail Date October 2003
Radiance of the Seas Cruise Vancouver to Hawaii Sept. 27/03 - Oct. 08/03 This was my 11th cruise to date, and my 4th cruise on Royal Caribbean. I've also previously cruised on Celebrity, Holland America, Norwegian, and Princess. ... Read More
Radiance of the Seas Cruise Vancouver to Hawaii Sept. 27/03 - Oct. 08/03 This was my 11th cruise to date, and my 4th cruise on Royal Caribbean. I've also previously cruised on Celebrity, Holland America, Norwegian, and Princess. This was the Radiance's last sailing of the season from Vancouver, after operating the Alaska cruises since May. We were to leave from Ballantyne Pier at 5:00 p.m. We arrived via taxi down at the pier around 12:30 pm. There seemed to be quite large lineups and it took us about 45 minutes to get up to the front. We immediately found out why the lines were long. Each of the ticket agents was explaining to all the guests and handing out a letter from the Captain which stated that work was being done on the starboard propulsion system, which would delay the departure from Vancouver. The expected time of departure would now be about sunrise the next morning --- guests who so wished could go ashore and return to ship by 3:00 a.m. Sunday morning. We preferred staying onboard. This work had to be done to change around the pod maneuverability from the settings they'd had it on from Alaska cruises before setting off for Hawaii. Gift shops and casino would remain closed due the fact we were still in port, other than that there was no impact on the itinerary and we did catch up the time during our 5 day at sea travels to the islands. Normally we would have pre-cleared U.S. Customs in Vancouver, however they were going to have us wait and clear customs in Hilo, Hawaii when we got there instead. All Non-Americans had to give up their passports for safe-keeping (and to speed up paperwork) with the purser's desk on this trip, as we do on the Caribbean ones. We had a category E1 balcony cabin (#1524) on Deck 10 in the fore starboard portion of the ship. We were right underneath the entranceway to the spa hair salon in one direction, and the solarium in the other. Very quiet and nice location. Cabins in the category are nice, however a little on the smaller side than most balcony cabins in the older series of ships. The beds are rounded off in an odd way and not as long as regular bed I'd bet --- was long enough for me however my partner who's 6'4" had feet sticking out. Little fridge provided with pop supplied as well as water - charged to the room when used. Our excellent cabin steward Ida (pronounced Eeda) from the Philippines was very good at servicing the room promptly and accurately and always provided us a smile and some interesting conversation. He spoke impeccable English and was always beaming. The Radiance of the Seas is a remarkably beautiful ship. The artwork alone is stunning and causes one to take a second look at everything up and down hallways and staircases. The layout of the ship is such that you never feel crowded, even though we'd heard ours was a full cruise with no available rooms left. The children have their own areas and do not bother any adults in solarium at all. The solarium is a relaxing place to lie down and rest, swim, soak in the hot tub, or grab a little snack. The Windjammer Buffet is set out in such a way that nobody is "bumping" into each other and holding things up. They have several different stations with various types of foods being at different stations from others. Beverages are received at another area or one of the wonderful servers on the floor will be happy to get whatever it is you need. That's one thing I feel the Royal Caribbean staff seem to do much better than so many others --- they can always seem to talk to you, clear things away, and help you find a seat and get your beverage all at the same time. Their true friendliness makes one feel special. We ate at the Windjammer each breakfast and lunch and always had dinner at the Dining Room. We were seated at a table for 10, which made me a little wary at first (we had asked for a small table seating - I have trouble hearing) but it turned out that our dining companions were really nice and a joy to sit with. Linda & David from Detroit, and Cindy and Byron from Chicago, were both celebrating their anniversaries on this cruise, and Sverre and Torille from Norway were traveling with their sons Christopher and Patrick, both who'd been adopted from Korea when they were very young. Lots of love could be felt around the table, and many laughs were shared by us all. Our Waiter was Michael from the Philippines, Asst. Waiter was Ashton from Guyana, and the head waiter was Alan from Britain (now Miami). Lovely Rowena from Philippines made sure we had our ginger ales and sodas on the table each night. We missed out on some of the entertainers this time onboard, however a couple of the more notable shows were Kenny James (Motown Hits) - we bought his CD definitely - Spirit of Polynesia, Dave Somerville (original lead voice of the Diamonds) The Radiance Singers and Dancers had apparently just come on in Vancouver and it did seem as if they hadn't yet had enough time to practice and get themselves in perfect "sync". That said, the did put on a couple of good shows. The first one they were to have "Rockin in Paradise" on day 5 Sea Day was canceled, as the Cruise Director Angie felt there was there was too much rocking of the ship that particular night the waves were about 15 foot or so. For those interested in the attire worn on an 11 night Hawaiian cruise, it was as follows: Day 1 Casual Day 2 Formal Day 3 Casual Day 4 Smart Casual Day 5 Casual / Western Day 6 Smart Casual Day 7 Casual / Hawaiian Day 8 Casual / 50's Day 9 Formal Day 10 Casual Day 11 Casual We enjoyed our tablemates and our servers in the Cascades Dining Room so much that we didn't get to Chops Grille or Portofino Restaurant at all on this cruise. We've been on this particular cruise a few times before and weren't sure which excursions we wanted to do until we were onboard. On the Radiance one can easily book excursions from the comfort of your stateroom on the RCTV menu. We decided to return to the Tropical Botanical Gardens tour in Hilo, which we'd taken last year on the Statendam. As expected the gardens were still beautiful, yet had a different look to them being a different time of year chosen to visit. In Nawiliwili, Kauai we also returned to a favourite excursion --- the Kauai Helicopter Flightseeing ---- unbelievable sights to behold and just as spectacular to see it again as it had been the first time. Photos from there (and from this cruise) can be viewed at http://community.webshots.com/user/davemaclean In Lahaina, Maui we took an excursion we hadn't tried before called Rainforest and Water Fall Hiking Adventure. This was spectacular. Emily our naturalist drove the 7 of us who went over to the other side of the island, stopping by at various sites for windsurfing watching, etc... before heading up the Hana Highway to the Garden of Eden Botanical Garden. We took a quite strenous hike and then had a swim in a tropical pool under a waterfall. Lunch, more swimming and back up the big hill for the drive back to the ship. An excellent tour I'd do again in a minute. Speaking of doing it again --- we also had a visit with the amicable Loyalty Ambassador Cindy Dangel , (who also hails from our Province of British Columbia) and decided to book next spring's cruise from Hawaii to Vancouver onboard the new 'Serenade of the Seas'. This time we did not go to the Cruise Critic Party. It was held in the Starquest Disco on day 3 (sea day) from 9:30 - 10 AM --- I didn't even wake up until after it was over ! Passed on the Captain's gathering and the Crown and Anchor repeater's parties this time as well. After the cruise spent some time in Waikiki in the Marriot Waikiki Beach Resort before returning home to Vancouver. Thanks to RCI and to the Radiance of the Seas for providing such a wonderful vacation experience. I was hoping for a repeat of our first fantastic voyage on the Radiance, and I was not let down at all. Anyone who decides to cruise this ship is in for a treat ! Read Less
Sail Date September 2003
The Radiance of the Seas is a spectacular ship. Of course, after you've been on the Voyager, nothing compares. however, Radiance definitely had its own pluses and minuses. Overall, I'd say we had a 9 out of 10 experience. The ... Read More
The Radiance of the Seas is a spectacular ship. Of course, after you've been on the Voyager, nothing compares. however, Radiance definitely had its own pluses and minuses. Overall, I'd say we had a 9 out of 10 experience. The food was really good, with lots of choices and quality was great as usual. The best thing was this new wine program they were trying out where you can get 7 wines for about $80, so you can have a bottle every night with your dinner. There was a set list of wines which weren't fantastic wines, but they're the ones you get for about $6-7 at the store. I opted for this other plan where we paid $120 for 4 bottles, and they were NICER bottles. Since J champagne was on that list, and I wanted it, we saved about $12 a bottle (incl. tip) getting the program. We had a bottle on both our formal nights, and our first night and one other night. The thing I didn't know, was that we could take the remaining part of the bottle back to our room. I ended up leaving parts of a bottle there because my husband and I couldn't finish it while we ate dinner. I learned later online that some people would finish it off in a lounge or in their rooms. BUT, I do have to mention that I've been on a couple of cruises now, and although the displays were tremendous at the midnight buffet, there really wasn't anything phenomenal in food taste. It was all pretty basic. The chocolate buffet was better than the midnight buffet. There was a huge Harry Potter chocolate castle that had seen its day being displayed (looked old like its been around since the beginning of Alaska season), but the detail on it was so cool, and it was huge, so its no wonder they didn't want to do that one again. They did have the soda program for the kids, which my older daughter used throughout the week. I bought one for myself as well, and found I didn't really drink more than a couple of sodas. But my toddler was with us and wanted them, so I would end up using it more to get one for her than me. In hindsight, since the kids drink cards are a few bucks cheaper, I should have just bought one for her instead, and sipped her sodas. I always had to go up to the bar anyhow. It was a few times in the Centrum that I found myself looking for a bar waitress, and it was easier to go to the bar and get my own soda. I would go up with the two drink cards and get 2 sodas for us. Thus, it would have been OK to get the second youth drink card instead of adult.... didn't make much difference to them at that point. Youth program for older kids was nice. My 11 yr old daughter loved it, but had enough by 11 pm. She would hang out for an hour in the extended program, and check herself out, come back to the room, and fall asleep from exhaustion - or want to go to the buffet with me. My nephew was same age and would hang out longer til 12 or 1, and be dead as an anchor the next morning. So, if you have kids and plans for an early morning, be sure to get them into bed and not opt for the late night programs. It's safe on board, and they're OK back in the rooms if they're older. I wouldn't suggest it for an 8 year old, but you'd be surprised how many small kids were running around the ship doing scavenger hunts at 11 pm. I also had my 3 year old with us who had just turned old enough by a couple of days, to go into the program. BUT, she wouldn't have anything to do with them. Not because they weren't good or nice, but she used logic on me... geez. She said in her most authoritative voice that she was on vacation too, and didn't want to go to daycare on her vacation cuz that's all she did when she was home. Well, how do you argue with that? But my husband and I wanted time alone and go see the shows, etc. So, we told her if she was good she could stay with us, and if she complained at all, she went into the daycare. She said OK - and was a perfect little angel the whole evening and went everywhere, and never whined a bit. So, she stayed with us. Then my older daughter would be back by midnight anyhow, so she would stay and sleep with the toddler so my husband and I could grab a quick drink and wind down for the night. It was funny. We would stay out for an hour, and that was enough anyhow. We were so tired from the day's events that we just wanted to go to sleep. Our room on board was overall a great room. But the Voyager rooms had some extra length to them from door to verandah, so the second bed was actually two twins that my two kids could sleep on. The Radiance left a lot to be desired, because the extra bed was only a single roll out futon type bed. It wasn't long enough for my 11 year old or my husband, so she slept in a berth over the main bed. The extra bed was just big enough for my toddler, but was so low, she felt like she was the dog on the floor, and refused to sleep in it. So, there was a bed that was good for nothing on the side, and three of us crowded into the main bed. Our next trip is on the Serenade, which is the same size, and I'm already anticipating sharing our bed again, but at least I know this time. The service of our cabin steward was remarkable. It was always clean (wow, 4 people in a small area does not usually stay clean - I want him for my housekeeper), and he would have fun with the kids toys and make different sculptures and displays with the animals and toys and chocolates he'd leave for us. My brothers travelled with us in different rooms, and said none of them got any of that, but then, they didn't have the props. There were times we'd all come back to our room, and they got to see it too, and thought it was too cute. I paid the extra $40 per cabin to have the extra sized balcony. I got the last one left on the ship we were on, thus the cost of E1 for an E2 room. But the balcony was huge and about 6 of us shared it comfortably to watch the Hubbard Glacier from, as it spun around.... my girls were definitely spoiled as they watched through the glass balcony at the ocean and the glaciers and the inside passage. My older daughter was always outside enjoying the breeze and the wonderful weather we had. The worst experience I'd say we had was embarkation. I had just had back surgery before our trip, and was stuck waiting in an uncomfortable chair for an hour to walk up an elevated, ramped, long passageway throughout the Vancouver terminal. If you have any difficulties walking up an incline, please notify someone, because they make you walk up these frustrating passageways and suffer if you don't say anything. But they did have employee elevators that we were able to use as we disembarked and opted for the disabled disembarkation process. I wanted a wheelchair when we left - so we got to sit in the dining room, but had to wait til practically everyone was off the ship before they came back to help us. Since I was ambulatory, but asked for a wheelchair, and didn't have a plane to catch, I had to wait the longest. I think my family was literally the last ones off the ship. I guess they thought we'd give up and walk out. But I couldn't handle the distance and my back was hurting. So, we waited nearly two hours for a wheelchair and help to get out. We almost grabbed one we saw and went out with my husband pushing, but we figured we wouldn't know how to get out with it... so when the guy came back for us, we were happy to find out that he rushed us right out to the baggage area through employee passages and elevators, expedited our baggage and customs check, and rolled me right out to the taxi, bypassing all these other people who had been waiting in the humungous taxi line. My brothers were so happy to be off the ship early, but hit the lines in baggage and customs and the taxi, that I ended up passing all of them and got in a taxi about 5 taxis before them (which was the funniest part cuz I thought I'd be the last to the hotel). Let's hear it for RCCL service. Vancouver really needs to improve their terminal and check-in areas. It's very uncomfortable and long and I don't really fault the cruiseline for the discomfort I experienced in the beginning. I just wish I had the sense to say something about my surgery to someone so that they would have helped from the start. They were overall pretty good about accommodating the disabled though. The only time I had a problem was when I was walking through the midnight buffet. Because I walked with a cane, I wasn't permitted to go into the wheelchair access to the buffet. I had to go upstairs to wait in a line and descend a staircase. I walked slow, so people in back of me were a little upset that I wasn't walking faster and there would be a gap in front of us that others from the other side would fill in, and basically be cutting in front of us. They were mad, I was mad.... and then one person calmly told me "hey, it's vacation... don't sweat it. Let em wait... you take your time or you'll fall and get hurt." And she was right. It took one kind person to remind me that I didn't need the stress, and to relax again. But RCCL could have let me in from the bottom floor too. The stupidest thing was the Survivor thing they were doing where they only had 5 or 6 people participating in, and it dwindled down to the winner. They had people watching, but overall, it was getting old, and I don't watch survivor. And every time we went to a show at night, it would start off with what was going on with the Survivor game, and everyone would vote for someone to be OUT. Wouldn't miss this if they took it out. It's not like the winner got a free cruise... they probably just got a video they had to pay for. I had been spoiled by the amount of activities and services on board the Voyager, but Radiance still provided everything I needed, and I still didn't get to do everything I wanted, cuz there wasn't time. I spent every minute I could in port off the ship, so basically, there wasn't more than two days on board to do all the day stuff, or go do the arts/crafts classes, if you wanted a massage and go swim with kids, or go to a wine tasting... there's things to do. In fact, I don't remember lounging at anytime like I had envisioned, when I originally booked the cruise, saw the TV ads, and dreamt about actually sleeping and relaxing. I was hustling everywhere, waiting in lines, and the only time I got to relax was in the art auctions when I got to sit and bid for some beautiful prints. My husband was pleasantly surprised and didn't think he'd like Alaska but he loved each port, got to go salmon fishing in Skagway, dog sledding in the dirt in Ketchikan, and whale watching in Juneau (we saw 4 pods of whales!! 16 humpbacks all together!! wow!) Plus he loved the amount of things to do onboard - he thought he'd be bored. If I can get him to love it, chances are, anyone will. And he gets seasick, but didn't experience any discomfort except the first day when he was getting used to it. So, I highly recommend this cruise to everyone, just do your homework before going so you can plan an awesome trip. These boards helped me tremendously in planning for clothes, money savers, basic cruising tips, and excursions. If you travel a lot and like to do the planning rather than paying for the cruiseline to handle it, have fun and explore the web. I did. I saved a bundle. My brothers paid a fortune for the cruiseline to handle their stuff. And one wanted to go dogsledding in the glaciers, only to find out the weather wasn't great and he got stuck with nothing to do while we went dogsledding, so he ended up taking some train trip that ended up keeping them out all day. He was OK with that, but said it cost him about $300 per couple to plan something last minute because he was at the mercy of the vendors next to the cruiseship, and wanted someplace that had food during the excursion. It was completely booked on our dogsleds, so he couldn't join us... we had a blast! The girls loved holding the puppies and playing with them. Have fun everyone!! Read Less
Sail Date August 2003
My first cruise with Royal Caribbean and first time to Alaska. I will never forget this trip! The ship was enormous and absolutely stunning. We had a Grand Ocean View Suite (Category B) which was lovely. Our cabin steward, Alicia, was ... Read More
My first cruise with Royal Caribbean and first time to Alaska. I will never forget this trip! The ship was enormous and absolutely stunning. We had a Grand Ocean View Suite (Category B) which was lovely. Our cabin steward, Alicia, was wonderful; always attentive and cared about our needs. All of the public rooms were warmly decorated and large. The dining room, Cascades, was two stories and lovely. It reminded me of the elegance of 1930s Hollywood with a contemporary spin. The food was very good, especially on the formal nights. I highly recommend the beef tenderloin and the lobster. Our waitress, Eva, was a delight. She was friendly and very professional. Our assistant waiter, Sameer, was also a joy to have serve us. Overall, the food in the dining room was great. The Windjammer Cafe had a good breakfast and lunch selection, but I recommend the Seaview CAfe for lunch. The theater was beautiful and the production shows were always fun and lively. Our cruise director, Jannie, was hilarious. We also enjoyed Bingo with Warren in the Colony Club. The Colony Club was a great place to relax, have drinks, and even shoot some pool with friends! The ports of call were Juneau, Skagway, and Ketchikan. All ports were fun and RCI offered great excursions. My favorite was the White Pass and Yukon Route train ride in Skagway. The rafting trip in Juneau was also a blast. Boarding the ship in Vancouver was time consuming and unorderly. On the contrary, getting off the ship was a breeze and took no time at all. If anyone is looking for an awesome Alaskan adventure, I would highly recommend the Radiance of the Seas. Read Less
Sail Date June 2003
Intro: This was our second cruise on the Radiance of the Seas. We sailed on her in January 2002 out of San Juan on the Southern Caribbean itinerary. (See my review dated 1/28/02.) I apologize for the review's length in advance, but ... Read More
Intro: This was our second cruise on the Radiance of the Seas. We sailed on her in January 2002 out of San Juan on the Southern Caribbean itinerary. (See my review dated 1/28/02.) I apologize for the review's length in advance, but I wanted to also share our Alaska impressions. If you've been there done that, please scroll to my summary paragraph at the end. This was my wife Joanne's and my first trip to Alaska and it was the first Alaska cruise for the Radiance this season, having just transited the Canal and sailed up the West Coast to Vancouver. Saturday - Depart Vancouver: We arrived from Atlanta around 12:30 p.m. and were at the pier around 2:00 p.m. I think most everyone on the flight was headed for one of the three cruise ships departing that day. Although we made our own flight reservations, we made sure the RCI luggage tags were on our four pieces of luggage. At the airport baggage terminal, an RCI employee told us that we didn't need to collect them and that we could head right to the ship. They would get our luggage and see that it got aboard. After getting back to our cabin after the late seating dinner, all our bags were in our cabin. Joanne could now relax and enjoy the week to come without fear of a limited wardrobe. Vancouver was gray with a misty rain that stopped at departure time. Our expectations were that the weather for the coming week would be cool, gray and rainy. In the week to come, we were actually blessed with what many of the crew and our fellow passengers described as a week of exceptional weather. Our cabin for the week was 8022, an E1 category, which is portside about four cabins towards the bow from the forward elevator lobby. A sign in the deck four atrium lobby reported no upgrade cabins were available. The ship was pretty much full. Johana, our cabin attendant from Chile, always seemed to be around with a smile and a cheerful "Hello Mr. Austin and good morning Miss Joanne." At dinner, we met our wonderful tablemates for the week as well as our waiter, Sandeep, and Kris his assistant. Everyone treated us like a VIP that they were determined to spoil for the next week. They all did. I had Alaskan Cod for dinner that was moist and delicious. Each night at dinner, there seemed to be a fish dish featuring an advertised "Alaskan" fish. Although I didn't have the fish every night, my fellow diners who did, loved it and cleaned their plates. We purchased a 7-bottle wine package for the week for $109. We generally had Sandeep select a bottle for us each night from the available choices based on our entrEes. Sunday - Cruising: At 6:00 a.m. we passed the northern tip of Vancouver Island. We started to pick up swells from direct exposure to the open Pacific. Despite the ship's 962 feet and 90,000 tons, she started to move. We were gently rocked back to sleep for another hour or so. It's good to be at sea again. Although overcast and in the mid 50s we only had a few minutes of off and on rain showers throughout the day. We spent the day getting reacquainted with this beautiful ship, read, photograph and gawk at some incredible British Columbia scenery. Prior to returning to unmoving sheltered waters, we strolled through the Bombay Billiard Club on deck six. That's where the two $70,000-a-piece, gyro-stabilized, pool tables sit. A single billiard ball remained absolutely motionless in the center while the tables silently and very visibly, adjusted to the pitching and rolling of the Radiance. Joanne wondered if anyone would mind if she climbed onto one of the tables so she could see what it was like to sit still while the rest of the ship moved around her. I suggested she hold off until the return leg to Vancouver so as not to get us kicked off the ship too early into our voyage. At around 2:00 p.m. we entered a stretch of water called the Greenville Passage. At its widest point, it may have been one-half a mile but we generally had a maximum of 50 yards to the shoreline at any time. Usually less and the ship cruised at 20 knots. Spectacular all the way. (I'm going to run out of superlatives before the end of this review.) A naturalist on board broadcasted a commentary of the scenery and wildlife. To spot a bald eagle, look for the white golf ball in the treetop and the rest of the eagle will be beneath it. Several passengers told us they spotted whales but we didn't. You pass nameless waterfalls cascading down from snow capped peaks that would be major tourist destinations in any of the lower 48 states. Sunday was our first of two formal nights. There were relatively few men in black tie, with the preference being dark suits or sport coats. The ladies brought out the fancy dresses. Dinner was preceded by the Captain's welcome reception in the Colony Club at the stern on deck six. Captain Kent Ringborn took the microphone and sang "Welcome to my World" to his guests. Not only can he drive a ship, but he can sing! The specialty at dinner was the fillet. Cooked to everyone's personal perfection. Monday - Juneau: We were scheduled to arrive around noon. In the passage, as we approached the Alaskan capital, we passed a departing U.S. destroyer heading back to sea...an arrow in the eagle's talon. Gray, sleek and deadly looking, it was making a Memorial Day weekend port call. The naturalist on board was from Juneau and told us on Sunday that sunny days in Juneau were such an unusual occasion that schools closed to let the kids out and enjoy the rare treat. Juneau was sunny and warm! Break out the shades and SPF 30 sunblock. The Princess Star and the Holland America Amsterdam and Zaandam occupied the three available berths. The Radiance, we were told, would have a berth in a few weeks. We "parked" a few hundred yards offshore and lowered four tenders to get everyone to town. I didn't see an anchor lowered, so I think the captain used his autopilot, GPS, Azipod engines and thrusters to hold the ship's position rock steady. It's like telling your dog to sit and stay. We booked a jet boat whale watch excursion for $109 each. The busses took about 65 of us to Auke Bay about ten miles north of town. We were able to get a brief peek at the Mendenhall Glacier along the way. Dolphin Jet Boat Tours guarantees you'll see whales or your money back. After a few minutes of roaring along at 40 knots, we spotted a pod of around six to eight Orcas. These were followed by Stellar Sea Lions, a couple of Humpback whales, an eagle perched on a navigation buoy with more sea lions and more Orcas. Each seat on the boat had a pair of 7x50 binoculars. Windows all around and the ability to go out on deck fore and aft meant everyone got a good view and could burn up the film. The backdrop to the National Geographic wild life show were lush forests topped with snow capped peaks and views of some of the glaciers that are in the Juneau area. Everyone aboard felt this was a tremendous trip. Upon arriving back at Auke Bay, each woman aboard was presented with a fresh rose. It was a touching gesture saying simply thank you for being here. It turns out that our excursion was the first of this year's short tourist season and the tour boat folks wanted to sincerely thank everyone for coming and ensure good karma for the summer. On our last Radiance cruise, we tried and enjoyed Chops restaurant. Tonight we dined in Portofino's. We missed lunch and that worked out well as preparation for dinner. Bring your appetite and you will not be disappointed. It's worth the $20 charge. We both had the lobster entrEe and about nine other delicious courses. Tuesday - Skagway: Joanne and I took the White Pass & Yukon Railroad excursion leaving at 8:30 a.m. You pick the train up from the pier, just a short walk, and there are several departure times. The cost is $95. This is a great way to get a look at more of Alaska's incredible scenery. We again had sunny bright weather and enjoyed the three-hour trek. It got us back for a leisurely lunch on Radiance and left plenty of time to shop in Skagway for the afternoon. The town is about four blocks wide by eight blocks long. With 850 residents, there was no cell phone service detectable. Our cabin overlooked the heliport where six helicopters ran sightseers up to the glaciers all day long. Clear weather and three ships in port kept them busy. Our head waiter at dinner that evening, remarked to our table that this was his third season in Alaska and in all his visits to Skagway it was the first time the surrounding mountain peaks were visible. In these latitudes, sunset was around 10:15 p.m. and sunrise around 4:00 a.m. I was out on our private balcony at midnight and there was enough ambient light to read a newspaper. I don't think it ever got completely dark. Wednesday - Hubbard Glacier: Here's where my vocabulary comes up short. The approach from seaward is breathtaking. Our day was cloudless, ice blue skies to match the glacier which is visible well out to sea. It was 40 degrees out on deck in the early a.m. Topside, the crew was doing a brisk business selling passengers hot chocolate in insulated souvenir mugs that contained all kinds of liquor. The Breakfast of Champions. Everyone was in parkas, gloves, hats and layers and the crew was on deck in short sleeved Hawaiian shirts. Brrrrr. I've seen the Swiss Alps and the grandeur of the Rockies. The Yakutat Bay approach is something else entirely. In the Alps or Rockies you may stand in a valley at the base of a mountain and be at 8,000 feet gazing at a peak that may be 4,000 feet in additional elevation. On the deck of the Radiance, you are effectively at sea level staring at the two highest peaks in North America behind Mt. McKinley! You are not just looking at a peak but the entire mountain as it rises 18,000 to 19,000 feet out of the ocean. The coastal chain of mountains stretched to the horizon sheathed in snow and ice. You snap a load of photographs knowing that it is impossible for film to capture what you are witnessing. You stare at the magnificent coastal chain wondering do these mountain peaks have names or has anyone climbed them? The cruise ships coordinate and time their approach to the glacier to have their own time there. Several hours and about 20 miles ahead of us was another ship. From its size in relation to the Hubbard glacier, it appeared to be one of the smaller Alaskan coastal cruisers. An hour or two later you realize, HOLY CRAP, that's the Celebrity Summit and it's essentially identical in size to the Radiance. It is absolutely dwarfed by its surroundings. Captain Ringborn was able to maneuver Radiance to within about a mile of the glacier. We witnessed large ice chunks calving into the bay with the ensuing deep rumble reaching the ship a few seconds later. When he made his closest approach, the captain pivoted the ship in a couple of 360 degree rotations so no matter what side of the ship you or your cabin might be on, you had a view of the Hubbard glacier and everything else. As the ship exited the bay amidst the floating ice, we passed another Celebrity liner arriving to take our place. We headed south to Ketchikan and the ship sailed past snow covered mountains separated by other glaciers that flowed to the sea. Don't buy the book or rent the video. Take the cruise. This evening was the cruise's second formal night and we attended the "Welcome Back" reception for Crown and Anchor members before dinner. I think more than half the passengers were members and the crew got dressed up to meet and greet everyone. There were plenty of cocktails, hors d'oeuvres and the captain took the mike and serenaded us again. He really does a nice job. Thursday - Ketchikan & Friday Cruising: We pulled up to the pier at 1:00 p.m. The afternoon was spent shopping and we felt that Ketchikan offered the best shopping opportunities of the week. While the day was overcast, it didn't rain on us and the sun broke out late in the afternoon. It's a very cute picturesque town. We didn't take any excursions but float planes departed all day long for aerial tours of Misty Fjords. On each of our port days, there were several floatplane or helicopter tour options. Juneau had the cheapest with a four glacier floatplane tour for $160. All other aerial tours were in the $200 to $400 price range. That would go a long way towards your next cruise booking. The Great Alaskan Lumberjack Show was just a short walk from the ship and within eyesight of our cabin. The inside passage back to Vancouver offers a day of beautiful relaxing cruising. This was only mildly interrupted by a flight of three F-18 Hornets that screamed northward over us up the passage at 200 feet (lower than the surrounding peaks) and considerably faster than we were sailing south. Yeah, I would gladly pay $400 if that were an offered excursion! Memo to RCI...idea for excursion opportunity. At one turn we spotted a gaggle of porpoises swimming next to the ship. They had the sharp black and white markings of Killer whales but the size and bobbing motion of dolphins. I think they were either Dahls or Pacific White Side porpoises. Given security concerns in a post-9/11 world won't permit bridge tours, attend the captain's our-long briefing. Captain Ringborn and his staff held a Q&A session in the Aurora Theater Friday afternoon. Any and all questions are fair game for he and a few key staff members. It's very interesting to hear what your fellow traveler's want to know, like whether the toilets flush with fresh or salt water and how jet turbines power this floating Eden. Summary: Go go go!!! The Radiance is a magnificent ship and you could have a great time if you were to remain tied to the pier all week. Service, food, entertainment, crew friendliness, cabin amenities and overall fun represent a wonderful value. Drop all this in the Inside Passage and the incredible panorama of Alaska and you will have a week you will remember the rest of your life. Every day is more incredible than the one before. We enjoyed ideal weather, but we selected the Radiance expecting the worst and knowing the ship's acres of glass and comfortable indoor spaces would allow us to view the spectacular scenery from within warm dry comfortable spaces without being crowded. The ship was full and you would never know it. Again, I'm sorry for the length, but please feel free to e-mail me with any questions and I will be happy to respond. pepperdog@mindspring.com Read Less
Sail Date May 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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