This was my first cruise with Royal Caribbean and my first Back to Back Cruise.
Arrived at the pier about 10:30am and was on board by 11:30am. I had completed the SetSail details online previously. This obviously had a major effect on checking in. I recommend that everyone complete this before travelling. The only draw back I had with the check in, and it was nothing to do with RCL, was that US-Visit were not prepared for us and therefore had to wait for them. But I suppose if you turn up early you have to expect this.
Once onboard I met up with my fellow Nutz in the Windjammer. The staterooms were not available until 1pm.
I was on Deck 8 (room 8564). The room was pleasantly big and had a balcony. The view was very good. The room had the TV, safe, cupboards and wardrobes.
The bathroom was just OK. On previous cruises with other lines we have had toiletries available and replaced daily. This cruise we had a soap bar and shower gel in a dispenser. The sink only gave out warm or hot water. There was a problem with the toilet in that it was difficult to flush. The staff on board quickly sorted that out.
The TV has all the usual news, sport and movie channels. The TV was also good to order room service, book excursions and check your bill.
We had an excellent stateroom attendant, Owen. He looked after us everyday. Whatever we wanted he made sure we got. You couldn't ask for more. And he made up plenty of towel animals for us.
I thought that this was one of the Radiance's best features. The food was plentiful and a wide choice. For a diabetic there was a good selection of sugar free desserts. There are several food islands serving up salads, hot food, snacks, fruit, etc. The table service was also very good, with refills for drinks being provided.
Main Dining Room
The dining room was very nice and the table staff were excellent. Our waiter was Fahri, from Turkey. He looked after us. Whatever we wanted we got. Nothing was too much trouble. On our second week he took extra care of us. The food was good but I would say I have had better elsewhere. My favourite dishes were the Shrimp Cocktail, Thai Chicken and Savarin.
If you like steak then this is the place for you. Good service and delicious onion bread are provided. It is nice and intimate in here.
The shows were very good. There was only one show I didn't like on board, but that is my personal taste. The shows put on by the Radiance Singers and Dancers were excellent.
The shows in the other parts of the ship were OK. I would say they do not have that much provided compared to other cruise lines that I have experienced. There is the usual trivia, Karaoke,quizzes and the infamous Quest.
Cruise Director & Staff
The first week we had Gordon Whatman. A true professional in my book. If you have him as Cruise Director you are lucky. The second week we had Marc Walker. He too was good. I would give him 8/10 whilst Gordon I would give 10/10.
The Cruise Director's staff were all pleasant and friendly.
They were all generally very good, especially Xentia from Mexico. A real star. The one disappointing part was that one bar man would not get your drinks order if you used the soda card. He would take the order and then forget about you.
The Schooner Bar
This was the bar that I mainly stayed at. It was very nice. However to enter it you have to pass through the smell of gunpowder. There is a pianist playing in the evening. He can't sing and does not have a sense of humour.
These were fun and a good opportunity to enjoy free Champagne. If your art auctioneers are Megan or Tara sit in the two front rows. There is only one drawback. If you like a picture and want to buy it you have to keep on insisting that it comes up for auction. They seem to like putting up expensive pieces of work no one was buying.
Meet & Mingle
We had all met up previously and so this was just another social gathering for us. The day it was held on did not correspond with that previously given. I only received the official invite advising me of the new arrangements an hour before the meeting. Thankfully I knew everyone beforehand and I had been informed.
There were three, a children's, family and adults (which is the Solarium and where I liked to hang out)
I felt that these were a hindrance. I think if you want a picture taken you should go the photographer. At dinner time they interrupt you when you are eating, barge into you to take photos of other tables without a word of apology. When you leave the ship at a port they want your photo. At Labadee we had to run the gauntlet and were even chased and told to comeback for the photo. In Grand Cayman there was two lines of passengers at the piers. One for leaving the tender and one for boarding. The photographers stood in the line for those leaving. They caused no end of chaos. In the end RCL security had to escort them away. The Photographers were not happy.
Ports of Call
We visited CocoCay (The Bahamas), RCL private island. A very nice and peaceful island.
St. Thomas. We did the Coral Reef and Coral World Trip. A nice place and worth a visit. If you like shopping this is the place to go. We took the skyride to get a good view of the island. Try the drink Bushwhackers it was delicious. With your ticket you can get $1 off.
St Maarten. This was another nice island. I took a tour around the island and did a bit of shopping. I preferred the French side of the island.
Labadee (Haiti). The place e looked nice but it was not my favourite place. In the straw market the stall holders harass you. In a couple of instances my wife and I were grabbed by stallholders. we didn't like it. All along the beeches you are harassed for sun loungers.
Ocho Rios, Jamaica. This was my favourite place. We visited the Ruins (waterfall and gardens and songs provided by the tour guides), Dunn's River Falls. I climbed to the top. At all times I felt safe and well looked after. The climb was my highlight and I wanted to do it again. To end off we visited Margaritaville for a couple of free shots. A great little party place.
Grand Cayman - a great place to shop. That is all we did. We had previously visited Stingray City, the Turtle Farm and Hell
Belize- Again this was just a shopping trip. Bad weather was on the horizon and many tours were cancelled.
Back to Back Midcruise Check in
This is one area that RCL let us all down. However I was fortunate to remember what happened the week before. We had to meet in The Schooner bar. Once everyone had left the ship we had to disembark and go through passport control because we were entering the USA. Then go through Passport control again as we were leaving the USA. On both occasions we had to have our finger prints taken and our eye photo taken. I think this sonly applies to non USA residents. However once on board you can not go back to your room until 1pm. RCL do not tell you this. We were lucky as we packed a bag with a towel, book, bottle of water and all the other incidentals we needed.
In all the cruise was excellent and full of memories to last a life time.