We are experienced cruisers, but this was only our second time on a Royal Caribbean ship. Generally we cruise Celebrity, and as such were granted Diamond membership on the Radiance.
Overall we enjoyed ourselves very much. Radiance is a beautiful ship, and in general I would rate it highly. We did experience a couple problems which, while we would not allow them to ruin our cruise, definitely had a negative impact overall. I will try to give my honest opinion of our experience. I know from reading the boards that some posters put down anyone who gives negative comments, indicating that some people can never be satisfied. That is so much not the case with us. We have cruised close to 30 times and this is the first time I have ever posted any negative feedback at all.
Food - Always a matter of opinion, but I would say overall we were very satisfied with the food and found it to be better than the food we had on our last couple of Celebrity ships.
Specialty restaurants - We ate at both and the food was outstanding. The service, however, was slow on both nights. We were told by an apologetic waiter each time that it was due to the restaurant being crowded, but considering the ship needs to staff for those crowded days I don't consider this a good excuse. We were not in a hurry so it was no big deal, and the food was so good I would do it again.
Staterooms - We had an excellent room steward - possibly the best ever. Unfortunately we also experienced the plumbing problems so many have mentioned. We had a seventh floor cabin. It was clear that work on the seventh floor is far from finished. The first couple of days, and then periodically throughout the ten days, the smell of sewer in our bathroom was enough to literally make us gag. I was truly afraid to use the water in the sink, especially the couple of occasions when it came out brown. (and make no mistake, it was brown; not rusty, not yellowish - brown!). We also had numerous occasions when the toilet would not flush. Major inconvenience? No, but you were always a bit uneasy wondering whether this is the time it would not flush, or worse yet overflow. Who wants to deal with that on vacation? Not me. Considering how long this has been an issue I consider this problem to be unacceptable.
Entertainment - Overall good. We went to a few of the shows and found them to be about on par with most mid-line cruise entertainment.
Itinerary - I won't go into info about each port, but I will say that we chose this cruise for the itinerary and we were definitely not disappointed there. Great selection of ports in my opinion. Especially loved Zihuantanejo - wish we could have spent more time there.
Rescue mission - As most have heard, we had a man overboard (Oscar) situation on our cruise. I was truly amazed at the swift action of the crew and how quickly they were able to stop the ship, launch the lifeboat, and rescue the person (unfortunately with bad results, but the ship did all it could). Kudos to the captain and crew!
Balcony - We were thrilled to have a hump cabin and a big balcony. We were less than thrilled that we were next to chain smokers (including cigars) and were unable to enjoy our balcony at all. I know this topic heats up the boards, but I can tell you that we paid extra for a balcony we literally could not use. This is wrong. There has to be some type of compromise solution to address this issue. I confess we are going back to Celebrity for this reason alone until, or if, Royal comes up with some solution that does not allow smoking on balconies - at least for some portion of the ship.
Shopping onboard - Disappointing. Am I the only one who wishes the ships would have a better selection of nice souvenirs and cute t-shirts? Overall, this is not a big deal, but I think the cruise lines are really missing out on some money making opportunities with their poor choice of merchandise on the ships. Diamond rewards - Were there some? I must have blinked and missed them. Seriously, there are very few to be had, and most are worth little. I don't choose a cruise because of this, but could really see the downgrading of benefits from our other RCCL cruise two years ago.
Summary - Overall we felt Royal Caribbean delivered a very good product. I would not, however, suggest cruising the Radiance until the plumbing problems are all fixed. I don't know about you, but I vacation to reduce stress, and I have enough problems with plumbing (and other maintenance) issues at home - I don't want to bring them on vacation with me. And finally, if you are a non-smoker, consider whether paying for a balcony is worth it as you may not be able to use it comfortably.
Wonderful balcony, and the room steward will bring lounge chairs if you ask. Little breeze or sun on balcony due to location. No elevator noise, but the Centrum music could definitely be heard in the cabin - if you retire early keep it in mind.