My husband and I spent 2 nights at the Catamaran Resort and Spa in San Diego prior to our sailing. The hotel was nice. It's located in the Mission Bay area of San Diego, about 20 minutes from the pier. San Diego is a wonderful city, we absolutely loved everything about it and hope to return there someday.
Embarkation: Very quick and easy. We arrived at the pier about noon and were on the ship within 20 minutes. We couldn't access our cabin until 1 p.m., which meant we had to bring our carry-on luggage with us to the Windjammer, which was a bit of a pain but not such a huge deal. 5* for embarkation
Baggage: DO NOT BRING A FLAT IRON with you....your baggage will be held up in security. My husband's suitcase never showed up and when we inquired about it we were told he had to go down to security. Well turns out they x-ray every suitcase and if they see a flat iron they won't allow it to be delivered. So they confiscate the iron and you get it back at the end of the cruise. I feel this is a way for RCCL to make extra money. We had to pay to have our clothes pressed. We sailed on Princess last Sept and were able to bring our iron. So people can smoke on board but you can't iron your clothes? Also some people's curling irons were confiscated, luckily mine made it through.
Cabin: We had a Superior Oceanview Balcony stateroom. It felt very "roomy" and there was plenty of storage. The balcony has 2 chairs and a table. Yes, the shower is small but so is every other shower on every other cruise ship we've been on in the past. 5* for the cabin
Cabin Steward: Ours was just "so so". Our first evening on board we came back to our cabin to find a dirty duvet on our bed. There were many large yellow stains all over the top of the duvet....obviously he HAD to have seen them if we did. We phoned the steward on call and 2 gentlemen came up immediately. As soon as they saw it they apologized and took it off and remade our bed. 3* for our steward
Ship: Is beautiful! We've sailed on many different sized ships and the Radiance is by far our favorite. She's the perfect size. She never felt crowded (cruise was about 300 people shy of being sold out), the lay out is perfect and the common areas are very roomy. I especially loved the tasteful understated decor throughout the ship. I didn't see any signs or wear and tear that other reviewers have written about. I think for a ship that's 10 years old she's still very "Radiant". 5*+ for the ship
Entertainment: Pleasantly surprised us. We've seen many "cruise ship" shows and after a while they all seem the same or worse then the last. Well, not on the Radiance. On our cruise there was a Tango dance couple from Argentina. The main show was designed around them and they were fantastic, I could have watched them dance all night. The Piano Man show with the RCCL singers and dancers was also very good. There was also a comedian and a juggler/comedian and both of them were very entertaining. So all in all I'd have to say the entertainment was very good. 5* for the entertainment
Dining- Main dining room: So here is where we have seen the biggest drop in quality since we first started cruising over 18 yrs ago. I guess they have to cut back somewhere and unfortunately this is where we notice it. We ate 3 nights in the main dining room. The first night we had prime-rib and it was really good. The other 2 nights were really below average, limited choices, small portions, poorly cooked steaks etc. Our waiter would shake his head if he didn't think we should order something, and he kept saying "those were the days" when we spoke about cruise ship dining in the past. I remember when we first cruised we would order a couple of entrees because we couldn't make up our minds and everything including the desserts was so delicious. Not so much anymore. 2-1/2* for the food in the Main Dining Room Cascades
Dining-Specialty restaurants: SAVED US!!! LOL!! Portofino is magnificent...from the service to the atmosphere to the food...PERFECTION! I ordered the Fillet Mignon and it melted in my mouth. I highly recommend this @ $20 per person it's well worth the money. Chops is also very good, not as nice as Portofino but still worth the extra expense. I had a wonderful Fillet Mignon here too. It's a nice break from the Main Dining Room and it is actually what dining USED to be like years ago on cruises...now you just have to pay extra for it. 5*+ for specialty restaurants
The Windjammer: In my opinion, is the best laid out buffet restaurant of any cruise ship we've sailed on in the past. It never felt crowded. There were always plenty of tables available and there are a number of buffet stations. The food was always consistently good and hot and the choices were numerous. 5* for the Windjammer
All in all we had a fabulous time. You really can't beat the value. My husband and I reflected on our past cruises and realized that 18 yrs ago we paid the same amount of money per person for our cruises as we paid for this cruise. The price really hasn't gone up in 18 yrs.
The cruise lines are trying to keep this an affordable vacation, so in order to do that they have to cut back on some "extras". They no longer place a chocolate on your pillow at night, the toiletries in the staterooms are limited, the alcohol is very expensive ($20 and up for 2 glasses of wine) and the food quality has dropped significantly in the main dining rooms.
BUT it's still a great value for the money. We paid just under $500 per person for a balcony cabin, so I'm not complaining by any means.
Please don't read too much into the negative reviews on this site. If you keep in mind the amount of money you're paying for this vacation it's all relative.
If you want 5*+ service then this is not the line for you, but if you're looking for a great vacation at a great value then it is.
For what we spent....I'd rate it a 4* overall vacation.
We loved the location of our cabin. The 9th deck is basically all cabins with the exception of the library near the centrum. What we loved the most about our cabin was that there were no inside cabins across from us so our hallway was very quiet and deserted most of the time.
It was also located in the middle of the elevators/stairs in the center centrum area and to the ones in the front of the ship which gives you access to the Aurora theater, Fitness, Solarium etc. Great location overall.
Pleasantly surprised. We took the tour to Rosarita and the hour long drive through the mountains was so scenic but scary. Our bus driver was going very fast around the hair-pin curves and there were very low guardrails. I kept my eyes closed for a good part of that trip. LOL.
Beautiful port. We took a tour to a beach resort (Villa del Palmar)where we spent the day and had use of their facilities, a buffet lunch and unlimited beer, soda and tea and 2 mimosas. All in all it was a nice day. Shopping is not as good as in other Mexican ports we've visited in the past. The vendors were not as willing to "make a deal" and we actually walked away from quite a few who were not willing to budge on their prices. Never had that happen before in Mexico.