Radiance review 12/5-12/12/04
Just a quick idea as to who was in our group. We were a group of 9 including three children under age 4. The adults were all Diamond or Platinum C&A members.
We arrived at the Port of Miami at 11:30 and proceeded immediately to check-in. We went to the Platinum and Diamond members check-in. We actually had to wait 15 minutes for check-in while the regular lines were empty with no wait!!!! The benefits of seniority!!
The ship is beautiful. We took a quick tour of the ship, enjoyed lunch in the Windjammer and registered our son in the Adventure Ocean program. After asking, the staff member informed us that there were 40 kids in the 3-5 year old group for that cruise!!!
Our rooms were toward the aft of the ship and it was quite a walk to the elevators. Since there are no elevators at the aft, the elevators at mid ship were almost always quite busy. This was a problem since we were always traveling with a stroller, the stairs weren't an option. The elevators at the front never seemed busy.
We all had balcony rooms and if you are going Eastern Caribbean on the Radiance I would highly recommend a port side room. We had excellent views in both St. Thomas and St. Maarten. The room was a bit tight with a crib for our 20 month old. (We were lucky to get a crib since we talked to others with infants who were not able to get one). The RCI website states they use Pack-n-plays for cribs but what we received was a hospital/daycare style crib that wasn't very sturdy, we actually had to tighten some of the screws ourselves because it was so shaky). Basically you had no use of the "couch" except for storage because the only place in the room the crib would fit was right in front of it. The balcony was small compared to the Caribbean Princess but it was still nice. The refrigerator in the room is not a refrigerator but a mini bar and yes they are still using the automatic counter on the minibars because my parents were charged for things when they moved them out to make room for some other things. Also, RCI does not provide hand lotion anymore or only if you are in a suite. I did not bring lotion as I would expect that a cruise line would provide the same amenities I receive at the local Comfort Inn or Holiday Inn. So, unless you are in a suite bring your own lotion.
We enjoyed meeting with everyone from our Roll Call and even won a bottle of champagne at the Meet and Mingle.
The food was good. We had early seating. Our waiter and busboy were very good. The main complaint we had was that on several nights my 20 month old daughter and 10 month old nephew were given high chairs with no trays. We were told there weren't enough trays for everyone?? What kind of deal was that? The Windjammer was very nice and the omelets were excellent. I wish they would have offered more variety but I never had a problem finding something to eat. The pizza at the Windjammer was not very good, it was better in the Solarium Cafe. The onion rings, tuna melt sub, fish and chips, etc. were excellent at the Seaview Cafe. I would highly recommend going there. The pasta for lunch in the dining room was also excellent. On the last day there was no more whole milk, at least that's what everyone I asked told me.
Coco Cay we enjoyed the day at the beach. There wasn't too much shade around, you had to look pretty hard but I think the recent hurricanes did that trick. The pork ribs at the beach BBQ lunch were excellent. Watch out for the chickens though, they can get aggressive, as one almost landed on our table trying to get some food. I don't think it helped that we had 3 kids that kept dropping things as they were eating!!
St. Thomas and St. Maarten - It rained in St. Thomas so we did some shopping. I enjoyed the Dutch side more than the French side on St. Maarten.
Adventure Ocean (aquanauts 3-5):
We were comparing the Adventure Ocean experience on RCI with our experience on Princess only 2 months ago. Overall, RCI had much better activities for the kids. They offered activities everyday, even the port days which was nice. On Princess you had to sign up ahead for port days. The kid's pool area was really nice on the Radiance but there were A LOT of kids on board this week and it would get very crowded. The facility itself and the room for the 3-5 year olds was very small and I think the staff was somewhat overwhelmed at times with so many kids on board and in the program. The facility itself on the Caribbean Princess was far superior, but that is a brand new ship. We also liked that on Princess younger children can use the kid's area as long as a parent is with them, RCI doesn't allow that. On this cruise I could see why they don't as there were just a ton of kids!!
The ship was cleared at 7:15 a.m. and we were off by 8:15. Everything went very smoothly with no mobs building in the stairwells and Centrum lobby.
Overall, we all had a great time. Waiting until the next cruise....