We live in SW FL so we drove to the Port of Miami. They have really done a lot with that port. Port Everglades should take notes. I pulled up to the curb, unloaded the bags, a porter whisked them away and showed us which door to enter. Since my husband uses a cane and has trouble walking the lady from the cruise line got us near the front of the line for security. That was a real help. We then waited about 10 minutes in the Platinum C&A lounge for our SeaPass cards. As soon as we got them we boarded the ship. I was able to check our carry on in the dining room until 12:55 PM since the rooms were not ready until 1PM. This is a nice feature. Our bags were delivered by 3PM and by PM we were unpacked and ready to go. Smoothest embarkation I have ever had.
We were in Cabin 9094 a D1 on Deck 9. Instead of a loveseat we had a full size sofa which really helped make the room feel much larger. It is only about 25 sq ft larger than the other balcony cabins but it does make a difference. Our balcony was odd shaped with one wall about 10 ft long and the other about 41/2 ft. We could see all the way aft but not forward as the cabin next door blocked our view. That was all right though.
We like the Schooner Bar and the piano bar in there. We made the acquaintance of Kelly and Jewan on the first day. They always remembered our names and drinks. Not bad since we both drink one thing before dinner and something different after dinner. They had jokes and puzzles with the stirrers that kept us laughing. They were also good at getting the "regulars" talking to each other. Small things but they do enhance the cruise for us.
Our table in the dining room was on the second level near the grand staircase. A very good spot. There were 10 at our table and for the most part a nice mix. A few isolated incidents that were downers but nothing major and certainly not enough to make for a truly bad experience.
Shareef, our waiter and Sarah the Asst. Waiter were truly outstanding. Two of the best I've ever had. We had a wine pkg and Sarah did an excellent job of serving every evening.
The weather was beautiful with the exception of our last sea day. Clouds in the am but then the sun came out in the pm. Seas a little rough the last day but Capt. Kent took a smoother route and we were fine.
Our ports were Coco Cay, St. Thomas and St. Martin. Sat on the beach at CC, booze shopping and a taxi tour on St. Thomas and Orient Beach in St. I had been to Orient once before and was not too impressed. I was on the end near the nude beach and it was very crowded. This time the cab took us to Kakoa Beach and it was just gorgeous!! Now I see why everyone raves about Orient. I will go back there in a heartbeat. I did get to cross one more thing off my 'To Do Before I Die' list. I went parasailing!! Not bad for a 63 yr old overweight lady. I was going to try on CC but they wanted $79. Good thing I waited, it was only $50 at Orient.
I noticed that RCI did not have the Horse Racing at the pool. Don't know why.
There was the usual Capt's cocktail party which was very nice, and the repeaters party which we missed. A new feature was a brunch for Plat and Diam. C&A members. It was wonderful. Not the usual bacon and eggs. They had a duck crepe that was to die for. Also a puff pastry filled with a ham and mushroom filling that was delicious. A very nice affair and something I hope they continue.
John Davidson was the headline entertainer on this cruise. I was really looking forward to seeing him as he was so cute on Hollywood Squares. He was AWFUL. People were getting up and leaving in droves in the middle of the show. What a disappointment. The production show Piano Man was very good. The Radiance singers and dancers do a great job. The comedian at the Welcome show was very funny as was the comedic juggler at the Farewell show. We didn't go the rest of the shows. We also skipped the Quest which I have seen many times. When it first started it was a lot more fun than it is now. It was more spontaneous. Now folks know what to expect and they come with bags of stuff.
Capt Kent Ringborn is a very pleasant visible man with a wonderful voice. Too bad he is retiring when the Radiance gets to Alaska. Gordon Whatman is a great cruise director with a beautiful singing voice as well. He and his staff are all very approachable and friendly.
The food was very good in both the dining room and the Windjammer. I really like the 'stations' in the WJ rather than the long cafeteria line. Never had to wait in a long line. Didn't get to the Seaview this trip but last time had the awesome onion rings.
Disembarkation was a breeze. We got up at 7am , went to the area for Plat C&A and had coffee and juice and by 9:15 we were on I95 headed home. Easiest ever. Love that Port of Miami.
Since I started cruising in 1986 I have seen a lot of changes in the cruise experience, some good ,some bad. Given the size of today's ships I can see why some of the changes had to be made for practical reasons. Some of the changes I am just not so sure of. Drink prices are comparable to what you would pay at an upscale cocktail lounge on land but I miss the reduced drink prices on the drink of the day. Now it is not cheaper you just get to keep the glass. Used to get Bloody Mary's and Screwdrivers in the am for a reduced price. Also miss some of the pool games, where they got couples involved. And of course the old style of horse racing where you didn't have to buy a horse, just bet on them. I am sure they have to keep changing things or else get stale. Maybe if I cruise long enough what is old will be new again. Good a reason as any to keep cruising; as if I needed a reason.
The Radiance is a beautiful ship. I prefer the smaller ships and this is just right. Easy to navigate the decks. All eating is aft, show lounge forward and the places to lose your money are midships. How easy is that!
This was only cruise number 2 for DH. I had to drag him on the first time but this time he got the fatal disease.....cruise addiction. He decided to cancel our planned vacation in New Orleans for next year and booked us on the Brilliance to the Panama Canal. Thank you Cruise gods.