Radiance of the Seas Cruise Review by rochester couples 25 anniversary
- Sail Date: February 2005
- Destination: Eastern Caribbean
The ship: This ship is wonderful and our opinion was confirmed when it was announced during the week of our sailing that the Radiance was rated #1 Ship's Crew for 2004!!!
The itinerary: The definite plus on this was 3 full sailing days allowing additional time to enjoy the ship that the other itineraries might lack with 1 or 2 full sailing days. This was great for us first time cruisers.
The fitness area, swimming pools and hot tubs, miniature golf all were very enjoyable. Although this ship has the rocking climbing wall, we decided not do this.
Our inside cabin on Deck 7 was more than adequate for our needs with plenty of storage for our week's clothing and luggage and our stateroom attendants very helpful and attentive. Our stateroom toilet wouldn't flush near the end of the week and upon calling the ship's maintenance, they promptly reported and fixed the problem within about 20 mins.
Value for price: We felt we got our money's worth and this was an excellent vacation. We originally purchased the round trip transfers from the Miami airport to the ship at $44 for the 2 of us and after we decided to do a post excursion to the Everglades that ended with our transport to the Miami airport, Royal Caribbean refunded us the one way transfer cost before we even left for this trip.
Dining: The cuisine at dinner time was some of the best we had ever had in our lives. 5 star quality!! Our head waiter and assistant waitress were eager to serve and please our palettes. There were different menus each night with different themes that always included 5 or 6 different appetizers and entrees as well as alternative selections of entrees that listed additional vegetarian, steak and chicken selections if you didn't like what was on the regular menu. A separate dessert menu had 4-5 listings to choose from as well as lighter and/or sugar-free desserts and ice creams. They always remembered our drink preferences after the first night and fulfilled our menu requests accurately every time!
Entertainment: This was an area that we thought could use some improvement. While the shows were ok, we thought they lacked the quality of Broadway shows, live entertainers we've seen before, and movies in the theater we've enjoyed. We played the slot machines once and we are not black jack or poker players by any means. We entertained ourselves enjoyably by going to the hot tub in the evening, watching what was offered on our stateroom TV, and reading the Cruise Compass to plan our activities for the next day.
Shore Excursions: Be sure to go to the RCL shopping show on the Tuesday At Sea day on the ship before visiting St. Thomas and St. Maarten. They offer some wise advise and recommended stores to shop at.
Our ports of call included Coco Cay, Bahamas, St. Thomas, USVI, and Phillipsburg, St. Maarten. We booked our excursions via the Royal Caribbean website because we were unsure about navigating negotiations with the locals as to where we wanted to go. We also thought that we did not want to run the risk of missing our ship's sailing out of the port if a driver didn't return to pick us up from somewhere.
We chose snorkeling excursions (we had done once before successfully and happily in Key West in March 2003) on both Coco Cay and in St. John from our port of St. Thomas. We would not book the snorkeling excursions in future because the seas were a little bit rough in both of these areas and after swallowing salt water multiple times at both locations, we gave up. We also noticed 3 Jet-Ski lifeguards pulling several snorkelers into shore on Coco Cay after they had become exhausted trying or swallowing the salt water. We thought you have to be a more experienced snorkeler that we were to enjoy this type of excursion. Coco Cay has many lounge chairs on the beach and swimming can be enjoyed. RC brings a BBQ lunch over while you're there so we didn't have to go back to the ship.
We enjoyed the Afternoon Beach Bash in St. Maarten and were entertained by those that chose the "Clothing Optional" preference. We spent the morning shopping in Phillipsburg, St. Maarten that was accessible for a $5/person charge for unlimited riding all day on the water taxi. We purchased a sapphire and diamond ring at the Venetian Jewelers and were attentively served by a young lady who was assigned to us personally by Ash, the head designer at this location. There is no tax if you purchase less than $800/person to bring back into the U.S. and the jeweler reset the white gold ring into yellow gold and engraved it within 2 hours on the same day as our purchase. The prices were so reasonable, we also purchased emerald and amethyst birthstone pendants for our college-age daughters. We had a coupon for a free 1 carat gemstone at this jeweler with the purchase of a setting and I gained a second ring.
We did a post cruise excursion to the Everglades that got us one of the first off the ship on Sunday morning. While we enjoyed it, be prepared to purchase your lunch ($22 for the 2 of us for a sandwich, chips and drink) at the one spot where the hydrofoil ride into the Everglades went from or be prepared to wait to get your lunch upon your return to the Miami airport. They do offer alligator meat selections, but we weren't adventuresome enough to try it. You have to have a domestic flight that leaves later than 3:00 pm to do this excursion.
Debarkation: We attached the debarkation tags to our garment bag loop that we left with our other luggage outside our stateroom the night before, and we had some nervous moments when we debarked the ship after going through customs and waited for some time at the luggage carousel in the Port of Miami looking for this piece of our luggage after retrieving our other pieces. We proceeded to begin filling out a claim form for the lost luggage when my husband went to a lost luggage area with an attendant and found our garment bag. The RCL tag had come off. In hindsight, we thought that when attaching this tag to a garment bag, peel off the entire adhesive to affix the whole strip flat on the garment bag so there is not the risk of a looped tag getting torn off.
We obtained doctor's prescriptions of transdermal scolpolamine patches to wear behind our ears for motion sickness and while you experience what I would describe as a baby rocking -in - a - cradle motion while on the ship, we did not experience any sickness or severe loss of balance. We put the patches on the Saturday night before our Sunday sailing as recommended and changed them every 3 days (3 patches for each of us for the 7 night cruise).
Overall cruise: We so enjoyed ourselves that we hated to leave upon our debarkation and within a week of our return, we were talking about our next cruise. We recommend this form of travel as most of what you basically need is included in the price, it is very relaxing, and the weather was beautiful with high 70's to low 80's every day.
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