This was our third cruise with RCI and first on their Radiance Class of ship.Previously we had cruised on the Legend OS and the Explorer OS so this gave us a good contrast with the smaller Legend and larger Explorer.This was my least favorite ship of the three and would probably not book this class again.On all 3 cruises we have sailed in Suites as we prefer fewer cruises but more "perks" and larger accommodations.Overall I was very pleased with just about everything on this cruise except for the few SNAFUs I will cover later.
We had spent 3 days in San Diego prior to departure at the US Grant hotel..which for a hotel advertising itself as part of the "Luxury Collection" certainly leaves a lot to be desired in the area of service.No doubt it is a beautifully restored and furnished property but it seems that the staff attitude needs an overhaul.Little things like a pot of coffee pre ordered the night before for a 6am delivery to the room that when phoned to locate at 6.10am and being told "Oh yes its on its way" and then again at 6.30 upon phoning room service being told "Oh we don't have a record of the order..Sorry" Not major disasters but at a hotel claiming to be "Luxury" and charging "Luxury" prices certainly very annoying.
Check in on Mar 22 was a breeze.We arrived at the port at 11am and after ridding ourselves of our luggage we proceeded inside to find check in was open.Formalities took about 10 mins and we were on board by 11.25am.As usual rooms are not available until 1pm so we wandered off to the windjammer for a buffet lunch.Ran into a few of our CC friends (group shirts are a great idea BTW) so killing time until 1pm was a breeze.
Our stateroom was as expected-spacious-lots of storage and very nicely decorated with warm colors and comfortable sitting area.One comment on the balconies for the OS-on both Radiance and Explorer the balcony is MINISCULE (57 sq.ft.) and only has room for a small table and 2 lawn chairs-no chance of a chaise fitting on such a small space.If you like to spend a lot of time on your balcony you should probably stay in a different cabin.We met our Cabin Attendant shortly after arriving in our room-a gem of a young man named Ferree from the Philippines.He is without doubt the best steward we have ever had. Not pushy but uncannily seemed to know when we needed something and magically appeared at the right time.Anything we asked for was provided immediately and with a beaming smile.
Food on the Radiance was generally very good with lots of choices and options for all those "finicky" eaters that seem to take delight in slamming RCL food. Considering you have anywhere from 2000-3000 people in the middle of the ocean consuming upwards if 12000 meals a day I think anyone that complains about menu options and food quality needs to reevaluate their values.Sure you don't get Lobster or Filet Mignon every night but do you eat it every night at home? Our waiters were Roderick and Nicolas and they ensured we had as much food as we could eat served promptly and with a cheerful demeanour.Seconds or even thirds were never a problem..except for my waistband!!! We did use specialty dining twice-once each at Portofinos (OUTSTANDING) and once at Chops (very disappointing).Final comment on Dining experience: I had requested a table for 8-early/main seating at the time of original booking but on arrival on board I always physically check my table to verify I have been assigned what I reserved.To my chagrin we had been assigned a table for 4.After some discussion with one of the staff attempting to sort out MyTime reservations for a throng of impatient passengers I was finally passed over to a Head Waiter who immediately reassigned us to a table for 8 with no problem at all.Minor annoyance but again RCI fixed the error promptly.
Entertainment on board this cruise was of a lower standard then previously experienced.One comedian was quite good but the Ageing lounge singer,juggler,lady violin player and even the RoS singers and dancers were not as good as we have experienced on previous cruises.The Cruise Director Kirk Detweiler(sp?)was good and all his staff tried very hard to keep passengers entertained.The Quest was a complete riot as per usual.
The minor problems alluded to earlier were two middle of the night alarms that woke the entire ship.One for what turned out to be a medical emergency that required a passenger to be transported to the medical facility on board immediately at 3.30am.The second was a missing persons alarm (1.30am) where a 16yr old girl was reported missing.Happily she was found shortly after apparently asleep in a friends stateroom.We also had a fire alarm one day for a fire in the main galley that required 2 alarm calls before it was under control with no apparent loss of food service.
Despite there being a fairly large number of children on this cruise I must commend all parents for the total lack of the usual problems of hallway running/shreiking/dining room wailing and other annoyances.Of the over 100 young'uns on board only one could I classify as an obnoxious brat.
Disembarkation was very simple-clear US immigration on board for us non-US citizens by 8am and then simply wait for that process to be completed for all non-US passport holders before we were allowed to leave the ship by color code.We left at 9am -our baggage was waiting as promised and we were out of the port area by 9.20am.
Would I use RCI again? You bet I would.I believe they offer very good value for money cruises aimed at a mass market segment of the travelling public and as long as you don't expect Rolls Royce quality and service at Chevrolet prices RCI will continue to be a good choice for a cruise vacation.
Great storage space.Minuscule balcony.Quiet location yet close to elevators/stairs.Close to concierge lounge.WiFi doesn't work in cabin but many Hot-Spots close by.