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My friend and I, both in our early 20's, took our first cruise on December 16, 2007 on the Radiance of the Seas to the Western Caribbean. We flew in to Fort Lauderdale from Canada the night before, and while it cost us quite a bit more, it was a good choice as there was a big snow storm at home on the day of the cruise with many flight cancellations. We had a short stay due to our delayed arrival at the Holiday Inn Express Air/Sea Port in Fort Lauderdale. The hotel offers a free shuttle to and from the airport, however this only runs until 1:00am, and as we arrived after that, we took a taxi - it cost about $12 from FLL. The hotel was very clean with comfortable beds, a wake-up call which rang 30 minutes early, and a very loud air-conditioner. Overall, our stay was okay though, and the free breakfast in the morning made it worthwhile. With it's close proximity to both the airport and Port Everglades, I would consider staying here again for 1 night pre or post-cruise in the future. After breakfast, the hotel called a taxi for us, which arrived within 5 minutes. It cost around $12 to get to Port Everglades, and we arrived around 10:40am. Embarkation: We got through security and into the waiting area very quickly, with no line-ups. We were given some tickets to embark with the number "3" crowd, and were called to check in around 11:30am, and we were on the ship shortly thereafter. THE SHIP: The Radiance of the Seas is beautiful! It was all that I had envisioned, and more. The whole ship was spotless, and appeared almost new. There were plenty of bars and lounges, a main outdoor pool with an abundance of lounge chairs, a gorgeous enclosed solarium pool, a childrens pool with waterslide, a variety of sports activities like basketball, mini-golf, rock-climbing, and more. The centrum elevators certainly deserve mention - 2 facing the centrum and 4 overlooking the ocean, you were guaranteed a nice view! Also, the floors had panels with the day of the week which was a helpful touch! The public areas never seemed crowded at all, which was a plus as well.STATEROOM: We booked a balcony guarantee stateroom, and we got quite lucky with an unobstructed view portside, on deck 8 towards the aft of the ship. The room was very quiet, the air-conditioning worked well, the beds were comfortable, and Aaron, our cabin steward, did a great job of keeping our room clean, furnished with a daily towel animal. While the room was quite small, once we got our luggage (which arrived earlier than expected at 1:30pm!) unpacked and put away in the closet and under the bed, we realized that there was sufficient storage room in the cupboards, drawers, and nightstands. The bathroom was small, as expected, however we did okay in it. I now understand though, why many people complain about the shower - for a tall or large person, it may be a tight. We really enjoyed having the balcony, which was a good size, with 2 chairs, and a small table. DINING: The Windjammer Buffet: The Windjammer was large, with ample seating both inside and out (both with incredible views!), and was arranged in stations, helping to control crowds. We ate here a few times for breakfast and dinner, and made frequent trips to the frozen yogurt machines as well. There was an excellent variety of food, and it was quite good too. Be sure to get an omelette from the egg station for breakfast, and try the pizza for lunch! The Cascades Dining Room: We ate here for breakfast 2 or 3 times (which is open-seating, however we requested a table for 2 with no problems), lunch once, and dinner every night. Upon our arrival, our seapass cards stated that we were at the late seating (as requested), at table 000. We went to the dining room and spoke to the head waiter, who was very helpful and opened up a table on the lower level, deck 4, at the back of the dining room, and promised to find us some other young people who hadn't been assigned tables. A few hours later, we received a note in our room, stating that our table had been switched to a table on deck 5 because it was in a better location. This was a table for 12, with a group of 4 30-something year olds, a young newlywed couple, and a family with 2 small children. No complaints though - we had plenty to talk about each evening, and had a good experience. The food in the Dining Room ranged from average to excellent. We were sure to take the advice of our servers, who always seemed to know what was good or not-so-good. The menus varied nightly, and there was a back-up menu consisting of pasta, salmon, steak, and chicken, for those whom were not excited by the daily specials. When anyone was unable to decide what to eat, they were happily brought both of their choices. The Seaview Cafe: Located on deck 12 aft with both indoor and outdoor seating, the seaview cafe is a good choice, whether for lunch, a snack, or dinner. They offered a variety of sandwiches, chicken wings, chicken fingers, fried fish, salads, and desserts. The food here is prepared to order, and was always ready within 10 minutes. The burgers, chicken fingers, fries, and onion rings were excellent, as were the milkshakes, which are worth every penny of the $3.75 they charge. On multiple occasions, we got our order to-go, and took it back to the poolside or our balcony. Be sure to check the hours of the seaview in the cruise compass, as they tend to vary. The Solarium Cafe: Open at random times (as written in the daily cruise compass) for snacks, the solarium cafe has pizza, wraps, sandwiches, crepes (made to order), and cookies, and is a good choice for a daytime snack. On a side-note, while drinks like alcohol and soda come at an extra charge (we purchased the soda package - $6/day got us unlimited fountain pop), iced tea, lemonade, and fruit punch are available for free in the dining room, as well as the Windjammer (there are self-serve machines outside the Windjammer open 24 hours/day, and pre-poured glasses inside the Windjammer). If you are looking to save money on your drinks, ask for them in a "regular glass" to avoid the souvenir glasses which come at an extra cost. SERVICE: Service was amazing everywhere from the bars, to the restaurants, to housekeeping, to guest services. Everyone had a smile on their face and appeared genuinely happy to be serving us. As Simon, the cruise director (who did a great job!) re-iterated again and again, the Radiance of the Seas was rated the friendliest ship for 4 years in a row!ENTERTAINMENT: Having never been on a cruise, I cannot compare the shows to other ships, however they were average to good. There were 2 production shows, a couple audience-involved game-shows (i.e. Love and Marriage), a "Karaoke Superstar" show, a comedian, a magician, and more. Being in the 8:30 dinner seating, many of our shows were before dinner around 7:15, which wasn't a problem for us, as it gave us more time afterwards to see other shows, head to the casino (where I came out up $10), or to one of the lounges where there was live music. There was always plenty to choose from, so be sure to read your cruise compass to see what's happening, when, and where! ACTIVITIES: There were always multiple activities going on, and it was often hard to decide which to do! There was everything from dance lessons by the pool, to bowling in the Colony Club, to art auctions, to towel folding lessons, to ice-carving demonstrations, and the daily Bingo games! There was no shortage of activities for any age group! The rock wall was open at different times each day, and the activities staff were very helpful for beginners! Mini-golf on deck 13 was open 24 hours, and golf clubs and balls were self-serve on deck 12. There was also a half basketball court which was always open, and had organized activities and contests on various occasions. I cannot comment on the Adventure Ocean Kids Club as we did not use it, however the kids around the ship appeared to be having a good time. PORTS: We had 4 ports on our cruise, and 1 day at sea. Key West: It was quite a cool and windy day, so we did not last long outside, however we walked around some of the touristy areas and the shops before heading back to the ship and to the nice, warm solarium pool! Cozumel: We took a taxi on our own to Paradise Beach, which cost $12 each way, had free admission and chairs/umbrellas, and good food and drinks. We spent a while here, enjoying the free internet, and relaxing in the sun. Grand Cayman: This was a tender-port, however having a shore-excursion, we did not need tender tickets. We simply joined the long line (which spanned from deck 2 to deck 8), and were on a tender to shore about 45 minutes later. This was the only port where we booked a shore excursion. We wanted to see the fish, but as non-swimmers, we were reluctant to snorkel, so we booked the Sea Spi excursion through Royal Caribbean approximately a month before the cruise. We were picked up at the port by a guide, and driven down the street to the Sea Spi's. Here, we had a few minutes to change, and then walked down a few steps into the water, where we boarded our own flat motorized watercraft complete with a glass viewing window under our faces when we lied on our stomachs. Using a joystick, we could drove our sea-spis which held 2 people, out to Cheeseburger Reef, where we had an hour to drive around and see what we wanted to. It was lots of fun, however we did not see as much as we expected, partly because the fish do not swim close to the surface, even when fed bread. It was still a fun day, and I would recommend this excursion as it was very different! Montego Bay: We stayed on the ship and enjoyed the quiet peace and relaxation, as well as the beautiful views of Jamaica! THE SEAS... We travelled the week after a tropical storm, and it was very windy, and the seas were quite rough for the first few days of our trip. We took Bonine daily and did not get sea-sick, however we did meet a few fellow passengers on the Radiance, and some people from other ships that were sea-sick. I would strongly suggest consulting your doctor and bringing along some medication just incase, as you never know how the seas are going to be when you travel. Also, there were multiple passengers who were ill with Norovirus on our trip, however thanks to frequent and thorough handwashing, we were not affected. Once the "outbreak" began, the restaurants started handing out hand-sanitizing wipes upon entry, and the staff were instructed not to shake hands with passengers to try to contain it's spread. Additionally, the main pool was closed for an entire day for draining and cleaning. DEBARKATION: Debarkation was extremely smooth! We were given one of the last coloured luggage tags due to our late flight home, and we were off the ship by 9:15-9:30am! SUMMARY: Overall, we had a wonderful cruise, and will likely cruise with Royal Caribbean again! We thoroughly enjoyed the Radiance due to it's moderate size and beautiful design.

Excellent First Cruise

Radiance of the Seas Cruise Review by newbcruiser

Trip Details
My friend and I, both in our early 20's, took our first cruise on December 16, 2007 on the Radiance of the Seas to the Western Caribbean.

We flew in to Fort Lauderdale from Canada the night before, and while it cost us quite a bit more, it was a good choice as there was a big snow storm at home on the day of the cruise with many flight cancellations. We had a short stay due to our delayed arrival at the Holiday Inn Express Air/Sea Port in Fort Lauderdale. The hotel offers a free shuttle to and from the airport, however this only runs until 1:00am, and as we arrived after that, we took a taxi - it cost about $12 from FLL. The hotel was very clean with comfortable beds, a wake-up call which rang 30 minutes early, and a very loud air-conditioner. Overall, our stay was okay though, and the free breakfast in the morning made it worthwhile. With it's close proximity to both the airport and Port Everglades, I would consider staying here again for 1 night pre or post-cruise in the future.

After breakfast, the hotel called a taxi for us, which arrived within 5 minutes. It cost around $12 to get to Port Everglades, and we arrived around 10:40am.

Embarkation: We got through security and into the waiting area very quickly, with no line-ups. We were given some tickets to embark with the number "3" crowd, and were called to check in around 11:30am, and we were on the ship shortly thereafter.

THE SHIP:
The Radiance of the Seas is beautiful! It was all that I had envisioned, and more. The whole ship was spotless, and appeared almost new. There were plenty of bars and lounges, a main outdoor pool with an abundance of lounge chairs, a gorgeous enclosed solarium pool, a childrens pool with waterslide, a variety of sports activities like basketball, mini-golf, rock-climbing, and more. The centrum elevators certainly deserve mention - 2 facing the centrum and 4 overlooking the ocean, you were guaranteed a nice view! Also, the floors had panels with the day of the week which was a helpful touch! The public areas never seemed crowded at all, which was a plus as well.STATEROOM:
We booked a balcony guarantee stateroom, and we got quite lucky with an unobstructed view portside, on deck 8 towards the aft of the ship. The room was very quiet, the air-conditioning worked well, the beds were comfortable, and Aaron, our cabin steward, did a great job of keeping our room clean, furnished with a daily towel animal. While the room was quite small, once we got our luggage (which arrived earlier than expected at 1:30pm!) unpacked and put away in the closet and under the bed, we realized that there was sufficient storage room in the cupboards, drawers, and nightstands. The bathroom was small, as expected, however we did okay in it. I now understand though, why many people complain about the shower - for a tall or large person, it may be a tight. We really enjoyed having the balcony, which was a good size, with 2 chairs, and a small table.

DINING:
The Windjammer Buffet: The Windjammer was large, with ample seating both inside and out (both with incredible views!), and was arranged in stations, helping to control crowds. We ate here a few times for breakfast and dinner, and made frequent trips to the frozen yogurt machines as well. There was an excellent variety of food, and it was quite good too. Be sure to get an omelette from the egg station for breakfast, and try the pizza for lunch!

The Cascades Dining Room: We ate here for breakfast 2 or 3 times (which is open-seating, however we requested a table for 2 with no problems), lunch once, and dinner every night. Upon our arrival, our seapass cards stated that we were at the late seating (as requested), at table 000. We went to the dining room and spoke to the head waiter, who was very helpful and opened up a table on the lower level, deck 4, at the back of the dining room, and promised to find us some other young people who hadn't been assigned tables. A few hours later, we received a note in our room, stating that our table had been switched to a table on deck 5 because it was in a better location. This was a table for 12, with a group of 4 30-something year olds, a young newlywed couple, and a family with 2 small children. No complaints though - we had plenty to talk about each evening, and had a good experience.
The food in the Dining Room ranged from average to excellent. We were sure to take the advice of our servers, who always seemed to know what was good or not-so-good. The menus varied nightly, and there was a back-up menu consisting of pasta, salmon, steak, and chicken, for those whom were not excited by the daily specials. When anyone was unable to decide what to eat, they were happily brought both of their choices.

The Seaview Cafe: Located on deck 12 aft with both indoor and outdoor seating, the seaview cafe is a good choice, whether for lunch, a snack, or dinner. They offered a variety of sandwiches, chicken wings, chicken fingers, fried fish, salads, and desserts. The food here is prepared to order, and was always ready within 10 minutes. The burgers, chicken fingers, fries, and onion rings were excellent, as were the milkshakes, which are worth every penny of the $3.75 they charge. On multiple occasions, we got our order to-go, and took it back to the poolside or our balcony. Be sure to check the hours of the seaview in the cruise compass, as they tend to vary.

The Solarium Cafe: Open at random times (as written in the daily cruise compass) for snacks, the solarium cafe has pizza, wraps, sandwiches, crepes (made to order), and cookies, and is a good choice for a daytime snack.

On a side-note, while drinks like alcohol and soda come at an extra charge (we purchased the soda package - $6/day got us unlimited fountain pop), iced tea, lemonade, and fruit punch are available for free in the dining room, as well as the Windjammer (there are self-serve machines outside the Windjammer open 24 hours/day, and pre-poured glasses inside the Windjammer). If you are looking to save money on your drinks, ask for them in a "regular glass" to avoid the souvenir glasses which come at an extra cost.

SERVICE:
Service was amazing everywhere from the bars, to the restaurants, to housekeeping, to guest services. Everyone had a smile on their face and appeared genuinely happy to be serving us. As Simon, the cruise director (who did a great job!) re-iterated again and again, the Radiance of the Seas was rated the friendliest ship for 4 years in a row!ENTERTAINMENT:
Having never been on a cruise, I cannot compare the shows to other ships, however they were average to good. There were 2 production shows, a couple audience-involved game-shows (i.e. Love and Marriage), a "Karaoke Superstar" show, a comedian, a magician, and more. Being in the 8:30 dinner seating, many of our shows were before dinner around 7:15, which wasn't a problem for us, as it gave us more time afterwards to see other shows, head to the casino (where I came out up $10), or to one of the lounges where there was live music. There was always plenty to choose from, so be sure to read your cruise compass to see what's happening, when, and where!

ACTIVITIES:
There were always multiple activities going on, and it was often hard to decide which to do! There was everything from dance lessons by the pool, to bowling in the Colony Club, to art auctions, to towel folding lessons, to ice-carving demonstrations, and the daily Bingo games! There was no shortage of activities for any age group! The rock wall was open at different times each day, and the activities staff were very helpful for beginners! Mini-golf on deck 13 was open 24 hours, and golf clubs and balls were self-serve on deck 12. There was also a half basketball court which was always open, and had organized activities and contests on various occasions. I cannot comment on the Adventure Ocean Kids Club as we did not use it, however the kids around the ship appeared to be having a good time.

PORTS:
We had 4 ports on our cruise, and 1 day at sea.
Key West: It was quite a cool and windy day, so we did not last long outside, however we walked around some of the touristy areas and the shops before heading back to the ship and to the nice, warm solarium pool!

Cozumel: We took a taxi on our own to Paradise Beach, which cost $12 each way, had free admission and chairs/umbrellas, and good food and drinks. We spent a while here, enjoying the free internet, and relaxing in the sun.

Grand Cayman: This was a tender-port, however having a shore-excursion, we did not need tender tickets. We simply joined the long line (which spanned from deck 2 to deck 8), and were on a tender to shore about 45 minutes later. This was the only port where we booked a shore excursion. We wanted to see the fish, but as non-swimmers, we were reluctant to snorkel, so we booked the Sea Spi excursion through Royal Caribbean approximately a month before the cruise. We were picked up at the port by a guide, and driven down the street to the Sea Spi's. Here, we had a few minutes to change, and then walked down a few steps into the water, where we boarded our own flat motorized watercraft complete with a glass viewing window under our faces when we lied on our stomachs. Using a joystick, we could drove our sea-spis which held 2 people, out to Cheeseburger Reef, where we had an hour to drive around and see what we wanted to. It was lots of fun, however we did not see as much as we expected, partly because the fish do not swim close to the surface, even when fed bread. It was still a fun day, and I would recommend this excursion as it was very different!

Montego Bay: We stayed on the ship and enjoyed the quiet peace and relaxation, as well as the beautiful views of Jamaica!

THE SEAS...
We travelled the week after a tropical storm, and it was very windy, and the seas were quite rough for the first few days of our trip. We took Bonine daily and did not get sea-sick, however we did meet a few fellow passengers on the Radiance, and some people from other ships that were sea-sick. I would strongly suggest consulting your doctor and bringing along some medication just incase, as you never know how the seas are going to be when you travel.

Also, there were multiple passengers who were ill with Norovirus on our trip, however thanks to frequent and thorough handwashing, we were not affected. Once the "outbreak" began, the restaurants started handing out hand-sanitizing wipes upon entry, and the staff were instructed not to shake hands with passengers to try to contain it's spread. Additionally, the main pool was closed for an entire day for draining and cleaning.

DEBARKATION:
Debarkation was extremely smooth! We were given one of the last coloured luggage tags due to our late flight home, and we were off the ship by 9:15-9:30am!

SUMMARY:
Overall, we had a wonderful cruise, and will likely cruise with Royal Caribbean again! We thoroughly enjoyed the Radiance due to it's moderate size and beautiful design.
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