I never thought that I would be writing a review, but after reading the recent terrible review of the Radiance, I feel like I have no choice as our experience was totally the opposite.
My husband and I booked this cruise to celebrate our thirtieth anniversary over Thanksgiving. We were a party of nine ranging in age from 23 to 86 (which included our three sons in their 20's). We selected this cruise because the itinerary included three days at sea and Coco Cay - a beautiful, private island. We all had a fabulous time and loved this cruise - it was terrific in almost every way!
Guest Services - especially Kendol - was terrific. There was a problem with one of our cabins and Kendol couldn't have been nicer to our kids. He solved the problem and was a personal host for the balance of the cruise.
We had no problem with the food or service in the dining room...in fact our server from India (Vonard) was one of the best we have ever had. The entertainment was superb - not only did the Drifters perform (we had also seen them on the Serenade), but there was a comedic vocalist who all agreed was the best entertainer ever seen at sea (he will be appearing on Broadway this spring).
Embarkation was quick and easy - no lines at noon (which is very unusual). Disembarkation was also surprisingly easy and quick.
The ship is beautiful. This was our 9th cruise including the sister ship to the Radiance (Serenade) last summer. Of all the ships we have sailed (including three in the Celebrity Millennium class), we love the Radiance class the best - especially the woodwork in the Schooner Bar area, the beautiful 9 story atrium and the Seaview Cafe.
Our cabin steward was adequate at best, but that is always the luck of the draw. I never saw him until the last day and don't even know his name. We had intentionally booked our cabin as it had a very deep balcony and we were told that we could have lounge chairs on this oversize balcony. Our cabin steward promised to bring the lounge chairs for the balcony (for which we gave him a tip in advance), but he never delivered or apologized.
The only negative was the ship's excursion to St. Barts which was offered in St. Maarten. I would definitely recommend to stay away from it. We decided to go to St. Barts as we had just been in St. Maarten in January. Unfortunately, the hydrofoil was more like riding a bucking bronco than riding a boat (and many, including myself, fell ill on the trip over). Upon arrival in St. Barts, there was nothing organized and the cost of a taxi tour was prohibitive unless you were with a party of six. There were stores where we disembarked, but it would have been nice to see the island rather than shop.
The cruise director Adam Dyer was fabulous - very personable, talented and full of energy. There was never a lack of activities to participate in - in fact there were so many great activities, I didn't even have a chance to read the books I had brought for the sea days. Besides the usual Love and Marriage, Bingo and Sexy Legs competition - there were dance lessons, cooking lessons, napkin folding, towel animal demonstrations, and on and on. One of the assistant cruise directors was Simon who we had sailed with on the Serenade - who was also terrific. This ship really rocked - especially with the 450 kids aboard!!!
As I mentioned before, Coco Cay is a beautiful (and relaxing) place. There are different areas of the island to suit everyone. You have to tender over from the ship. Where the tenders dock, there are the usual local shops and hair braiding and the beach is very crowded, however, if you walk a little distance further, it is very quiet and private with hammocks hung between the trees. Even though it was very hot, it was quite comfortable lying in the hammock with a breeze. The water is beautiful and you can walk out quite a distance into the water! Most water sports are available (for a fee) or you can just sit and relax. To our surprise, food service for lunch was set up so well, there were no lines or crowds even with over 2,000 people eating at one time. They had clearly marked stations (beautiful bright signs) for the different food and beverage offerings.
We celebrated our anniversary at Chops Grille and the steak was delicious and the service superb (our waitress was from Turkey). We met another family who ate at Chops and Portofino (the other alternate restaurant) every night of the cruise as they liked them so much.
We had such a great time on this ship that we would take it over and over again, especially if we could be guaranteed that everything would be exactly as it was the week of November 21st!!