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Cruise review - Radiance of the Seas Panama Canal full transition (Westbound) April 17-May 1 This was a special cruise booked a year ago, with it being a 14-day cruise. RCI don't do many longer cruises as they now seem to focus on mass-market 7 day cruises so this was a great opportunity to enjoy their longer product. Radiance of the Seas was the first "Radiance" class ship and is now 3½ years old. She is still in fine form with very few signs of age. We are not casino people so didn't use that facility. We mainly drank in the champagne bar and Schooner's. Pre-cruise arrangements. We booked this cruise as a package through our travel agents. This included indirect flights from London Heathrow to Miami through NYC. The transatlantic flights were very comfortable and the food and service was markedly improved from last time we flew with AA. We then transferred to the Sofitel Hotel in Miami for one night. We found the hotel informal and comfortable, with a good bar area and excellent breakfast the next morning. We then transferred by coach to the pier at 11am the next morning. The whole package was flawless and congratulations to the travel agent for putting together such a superlative package Embarkation. Yet again this was a bit disappointing since the "platinum & diamond" queue was longer than the normal queue and we could have saved time by using the normal line. We also got treated with derision by one of the staff as he didn't seem to believe we were platinum members. Once on though it was fine. There was a huge queue for embarkation photos which we just skipped. Luggage was in our room by 1.30pm. Cabin. We had a standard inside cabin on deck 8 (8635) which was fine. There were some plumbing issues and the toilet regularly failed to flush and this seemed to be a deck-wide problem. The showers are very small on these ships. Great cabin attendant in Dennis who was attentive and unobtrusive. Food/Dining. Windjammer cafe: This was better than normal, with a wide selection of food of very high quality. We ate here most breakfasts and lunchtimes. Seaview cafe: We ate snacks here a couple of days which were of OK quality. Cascades Dining Room: We had table 520 second seating. We had an absolutely superb dining room experiences as we were blessed with an exceptional waiting-on team (Mehmet Soyler from Turkey, Dev Thomas from Trinidad and Branka from Slovakia) and wonderful fellow diners who made the evening meal one of the highlights of the cruise. The food was usually of very high quality. We had the platinum wine package which seemed good value. Best meals were prime rib and duck. Portofinos: We ate in here for the Murder Mystery theatre. Enjoyed this very much but the meal was completely saturated with garlic which spoilt it. Entertainment. We were blessed with having Gordon Whatman as our cruise director and he really shone over the 14 days. The entertainment was, by and large, excellent although there were some mixed views on this. The show band, Next Level, were excellent although I didn't really rate the Sandra Mandella Trio who did the classic dance hits. Tom McTigue (comedy) - very funny on day one, usual "cruise humour" John Davidson (musical comedy) - didn't go to this but he had a very mixed reception Jacqi Michaels (vocalist) - was very good Phil Palisoul (comedy) - did not see Piano Man (production show) - absolutely fabulous. Have to say that the "Piano Man" himself was truly exceptional and the rest of the cast were not too far behind. This was a marvellous show and certainly the best we have seen on this ship, well done RCI. El Gaucho! (Cowboy) - didn't tickle our fancy but was well received by those who went Lenny Welch (singer) - a bit passed it really and a little sad Martin Lewis (magician) - very funny indeed Blair Shannon (singer/comedy) - what an exceptional man! Great singer and very funny, seemed a true gentleman and also sang with the showband as well. A pleasure to see and wish him well. David Pengally (singer/ukulele) - OK I suppose, not my cup of tea Sean O'Shea (impressionist) - very aggressive with the crowd, did not like him Welcome to our World (production show) - again a true showcase of talent, did not have the wow factor of Piano Man but still exceptional. Craig Dahn ("Showman") - did not see him as went to Portofinos Steve Carte (Comedy Juggler) - was excellent! Captain. Again we were blessed to have Captain Kent Ringborn on his penultimate cruise. An exceptionally kind, funny and articulate man, he tops it all by singing regularly throughout the cruise. He completely won his guests over and I am glad we had the opportunity of meeting him. Open Decks. We used the solarium quite a lot since the weather was truly blistering. The ship had the solarium roof open when in port which was nice. There was very few problems getting a sunbed which was a pleasant change. Meet and Mingle. This cruise had an unbelievable active Cruise Critic Meet and Mingle group (5,200 posts going into the cruise) and it was a delight to meet all these people at the M&M party on day two. There were around 50 folk and there was a gift exchange. A little disappointing not to see Gordon there. We made good friends and this blossomed over the two weeks which made for a really unforgettable cruise experience. Hopefully the thread will stay active and everyone will keep in touch. Member Events. The welcome back party was OK, had to be split in two due to the numbers, and again the event was made by Captain Kent. The platinum "brunch" on day 9 was good, had the opportunity to chat to the captain, but we felt we again experienced a bit of "inverse ageism" since no-one else bothered to speak to us, which is strange since we (hopefully) have 50+ years if cruising ahead of us. Destinations. Aruba - we have been to Aruba before so didn't do a formal tour. Those that did did not seem to enjoy it. We had a good time on Palm Beach and sea was lovely. Many of the M&M people went to Carlos and Charlies and seemed to have a great time, do that next time. Panama Canal Transit - the experience of a lifetime. Great transit of the Canal in fabulous weather, accompanied by the Norwegian Sun all the way to further illustrate the miracle that is the Panama Canal. Hit the Gatun locks at 7am, then cruised the Gatun Lake and had a slight delay before cruising the Gailliard cut and getting to the Pedro Miguel lock and 2.30 and Miraflores at around 3.15pm. This truly needs to be done if you haven't done it already. Fuerte Amador - sadly couldn't get off the ship as clashed with dinner and also the tendering was a bit of a shambles, but apparently not too much to do when you get ashore Caldera, Costa Rica - one-horse port, not much to do there at all, hired taxi/tour to take us around Costa Rica but a little disappointing. Better to do rainforest I think. Annoying that Infinity and Norwegian Sun pushed us out of port in Puntarenas. Huatulco, Mexico - very pretty place, we took a water taxi to the beach (Bahia de Maguey) where we had pleasant beers and also watched the local people frolic on the beach. Nice day Acapulco, Mexico - did long tour which was very good, got excellent view of the cliff divers and the scenes around the town. Didn't realise the place had so many (VW) beetles!) Expected it to be a bit squalid and was pleasantly surprised. Cabo San Lucas, Mexico - Very pretty went to Lover's Beach by Water taxi which was very nice indeed. Tendering worked much better. Miscellaneous. Joe Condrill was guest lecturer on board who did 7 lectures during sea-days and was full of interesting information. He also seemed everywhere on the ship when he was not lecturing! I did not go to all of his lectures (3) but they seemed well attended. Craft classes and scrapbooking - These were good fun, and complementary. Dancing - Unfortunately the trio did not inspire people to dance very much but big up to James and Emily who really tried and were very good dance instructors. We have now learnt the Sweetheart in cha-cha which we did not grasp on the cruise. The lessons were too popular really with a good 50-60 people there. Trivia - went to several trivia events which were fun. Debarkation. Had to be up ridiculously early (6.15am) for immigration and then had over an hours wait in line. Then had another two hours before we got off the ship. Transfer to airport (handled by RCI) was exceptionally poor and the only bad part of the cruise. Summary. This was an exceptional cruise with an exceptional captain, CD, and staff. The ports of call were usually excellent and the Panama Canal is simply an experience not to be missed. Very few poor points, only the pier arrangements again let down the company. Looking forward to our next RCI cruise!

Radiance of the Seas - Central America/Panama Canal

Radiance of the Seas Cruise Review by savva0122

Trip Details
Cruise review - Radiance of the Seas Panama Canal full transition (Westbound) April 17-May 1
This was a special cruise booked a year ago, with it being a 14-day cruise. RCI don't do many longer cruises as they now seem to focus on mass-market 7 day cruises so this was a great opportunity to enjoy their longer product.
Radiance of the Seas was the first "Radiance" class ship and is now 3½ years old. She is still in fine form with very few signs of age. We are not casino people so didn't use that facility. We mainly drank in the champagne bar and Schooner's.
Pre-cruise arrangements. We booked this cruise as a package through our travel agents. This included indirect flights from London Heathrow to Miami through NYC. The transatlantic flights were very comfortable and the food and service was markedly improved from last time we flew with AA. We then transferred to the Sofitel Hotel in Miami for one night. We found the hotel informal and comfortable, with a good bar area and excellent breakfast the next morning. We then transferred by coach to the pier at 11am the next morning. The whole package was flawless and congratulations to the travel agent for putting together such a superlative package
Embarkation. Yet again this was a bit disappointing since the "platinum & diamond" queue was longer than the normal queue and we could have saved time by using the normal line. We also got treated with derision by one of the staff as he didn't seem to believe we were platinum members. Once on though it was fine. There was a huge queue for embarkation photos which we just skipped. Luggage was in our room by 1.30pm.
Cabin. We had a standard inside cabin on deck 8 (8635) which was fine. There were some plumbing issues and the toilet regularly failed to flush and this seemed to be a deck-wide problem. The showers are very small on these ships. Great cabin attendant in Dennis who was attentive and unobtrusive.
Food/Dining. Windjammer cafe: This was better than normal, with a wide selection of food of very high quality. We ate here most breakfasts and lunchtimes. Seaview cafe: We ate snacks here a couple of days which were of OK quality. Cascades Dining Room: We had table 520 second seating. We had an absolutely superb dining room experiences as we were blessed with an exceptional waiting-on team (Mehmet Soyler from Turkey, Dev Thomas from Trinidad and Branka from Slovakia) and wonderful fellow diners who made the evening meal one of the highlights of the cruise. The food was usually of very high quality. We had the platinum wine package which seemed good value. Best meals were prime rib and duck. Portofinos: We ate in here for the Murder Mystery theatre. Enjoyed this very much but the meal was completely saturated with garlic which spoilt it.
Entertainment. We were blessed with having Gordon Whatman as our cruise director and he really shone over the 14 days. The entertainment was, by and large, excellent although there were some mixed views on this. The show band, Next Level, were excellent although I didn't really rate the Sandra Mandella Trio who did the classic dance hits. Tom McTigue (comedy) - very funny on day one, usual "cruise humour" John Davidson (musical comedy) - didn't go to this but he had a very mixed reception Jacqi Michaels (vocalist) - was very good Phil Palisoul (comedy) - did not see Piano Man (production show) - absolutely fabulous. Have to say that the "Piano Man" himself was truly exceptional and the rest of the cast were not too far behind. This was a marvellous show and certainly the best we have seen on this ship, well done RCI. El Gaucho! (Cowboy) - didn't tickle our fancy but was well received by those who went Lenny Welch (singer) - a bit passed it really and a little sad Martin Lewis (magician) - very funny indeed Blair Shannon (singer/comedy) - what an exceptional man! Great singer and very funny, seemed a true gentleman and also sang with the showband as well. A pleasure to see and wish him well. David Pengally (singer/ukulele) - OK I suppose, not my cup of tea Sean O'Shea (impressionist) - very aggressive with the crowd, did not like him Welcome to our World (production show) - again a true showcase of talent, did not have the wow factor of Piano Man but still exceptional. Craig Dahn ("Showman") - did not see him as went to Portofinos Steve Carte (Comedy Juggler) - was excellent!
Captain. Again we were blessed to have Captain Kent Ringborn on his penultimate cruise. An exceptionally kind, funny and articulate man, he tops it all by singing regularly throughout the cruise. He completely won his guests over and I am glad we had the opportunity of meeting him.
Open Decks. We used the solarium quite a lot since the weather was truly blistering. The ship had the solarium roof open when in port which was nice. There was very few problems getting a sunbed which was a pleasant change.
Meet and Mingle. This cruise had an unbelievable active Cruise Critic Meet and Mingle group (5,200 posts going into the cruise) and it was a delight to meet all these people at the M&M party on day two. There were around 50 folk and there was a gift exchange. A little disappointing not to see Gordon there. We made good friends and this blossomed over the two weeks which made for a really unforgettable cruise experience. Hopefully the thread will stay active and everyone will keep in touch.
Member Events. The welcome back party was OK, had to be split in two due to the numbers, and again the event was made by Captain Kent. The platinum "brunch" on day 9 was good, had the opportunity to chat to the captain, but we felt we again experienced a bit of "inverse ageism" since no-one else bothered to speak to us, which is strange since we (hopefully) have 50+ years if cruising ahead of us.
Destinations. Aruba - we have been to Aruba before so didn't do a formal tour. Those that did did not seem to enjoy it. We had a good time on Palm Beach and sea was lovely. Many of the M&M people went to Carlos and Charlies and seemed to have a great time, do that next time. Panama Canal Transit - the experience of a lifetime. Great transit of the Canal in fabulous weather, accompanied by the Norwegian Sun all the way to further illustrate the miracle that is the Panama Canal. Hit the Gatun locks at 7am, then cruised the Gatun Lake and had a slight delay before cruising the Gailliard cut and getting to the Pedro Miguel lock and 2.30 and Miraflores at around 3.15pm. This truly needs to be done if you haven't done it already. Fuerte Amador - sadly couldn't get off the ship as clashed with dinner and also the tendering was a bit of a shambles, but apparently not too much to do when you get ashore Caldera, Costa Rica - one-horse port, not much to do there at all, hired taxi/tour to take us around Costa Rica but a little disappointing. Better to do rainforest I think. Annoying that Infinity and Norwegian Sun pushed us out of port in Puntarenas. Huatulco, Mexico - very pretty place, we took a water taxi to the beach (Bahia de Maguey) where we had pleasant beers and also watched the local people frolic on the beach. Nice day Acapulco, Mexico - did long tour which was very good, got excellent view of the cliff divers and the scenes around the town. Didn't realise the place had so many (VW) beetles!) Expected it to be a bit squalid and was pleasantly surprised. Cabo San Lucas, Mexico - Very pretty went to Lover's Beach by Water taxi which was very nice indeed. Tendering worked much better.
Miscellaneous. Joe Condrill was guest lecturer on board who did 7 lectures during sea-days and was full of interesting information. He also seemed everywhere on the ship when he was not lecturing! I did not go to all of his lectures (3) but they seemed well attended. Craft classes and scrapbooking - These were good fun, and complementary. Dancing - Unfortunately the trio did not inspire people to dance very much but big up to James and Emily who really tried and were very good dance instructors. We have now learnt the Sweetheart in cha-cha which we did not grasp on the cruise. The lessons were too popular really with a good 50-60 people there. Trivia - went to several trivia events which were fun.
Debarkation. Had to be up ridiculously early (6.15am) for immigration and then had over an hours wait in line. Then had another two hours before we got off the ship. Transfer to airport (handled by RCI) was exceptionally poor and the only bad part of the cruise.
Summary. This was an exceptional cruise with an exceptional captain, CD, and staff. The ports of call were usually excellent and the Panama Canal is simply an experience not to be missed. Very few poor points, only the pier arrangements again let down the company. Looking forward to our next RCI cruise!
savva0122’s Full Rating Summary
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