Review of GTV Radiance of the Seas Cruise - Western Caribbean - January 25, 2004 Ft. Lauderdale, Key West, Cozumel, Roatan, Grand Cayman, Ft. Lauderdale
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: email@example.com Read Less