A little background - I am 23 years old, a graduate student working on my Ph.D. My girlfriend (also 23) and I had been planning this cruise since Feb, 2005. We had cruised together on Majesty of the Seas in June of 2004, and had a ... Read More
A little background - I am 23 years old, a graduate student working on my Ph.D. My girlfriend (also 23) and I had been planning this cruise since Feb, 2005. We had cruised together on Majesty of the Seas in June of 2004, and had a fantastic time. We were attracted to this Radiance cruise primarily because of length of the cruise (our previous longest was 4 nights, this one was 7) and price (booked at $509 per person). We originally booked for a Category N interior stateroom on Deck 3, as it was the cheapest alternative and we are on a tight budget. However, our Travel Agent forgot to forward our initial deposit to Royal Caribbean, and the original reservation was cancelled. The Travel Agent had to rebook the cruise, but by that time there was no interior staterooms available, so we were upgraded (by the TA) free of charge to an Oceanview on Deck 3. Needless to say, we were shocked (SHOCKED!) to discover at the pier that Royal Caribbean had upgraded us AGAIN to a balcony stateroom.
Speaking of the pier, we utilized Royal Caribbean's new SetSail Pass (online check-in), and had a near-instant embarkation. We arrived at the cruise terminal at 12:25 and we were on the ship eating lunch by 12:45. I personally did not experience it, but the shuttle bus that dropped us off at the pier passed by the Carnival cruise terminal, and the line was out the door. No lines with RC though. The stateroom was a tremendous upgrade to what we were used to (interiors). The room was quite spacious, the balcony was a decent size, and the bathroom was much bigger than those on Majesty. Also - PLENTY of storage space in the room. No visible wear to the room, and the balcony was in good shape (even better after routine maintenance to it during our cruise).
The public spaces were gorgeous - LOVED the Solarium, which was pretty low-traffic the entire cruise. The theater was really cool to look at, and the shows were great (more on that later). The centrum was also beautiful, with lights dancing around at night, a great bar, and even dancing. Another can't-miss on this ship is the Colony Club. Stop by to play billiards, chess, trivia, or just to relax - it is another great space on this ship. A great place late at night for dancing and drinks is the Viking Crown Lounge/Starquest. The stars in the ceiling was a nice touch. The casino was larger than I was used to, and reminded me of Vegas. Everything seemed well maintained, often saw cleaning going on, and even saw some sections of carpet being replaced (and the old carpet didn't look that old!).
None of the public spaces ever seemed to get too crowded, except maybe for the Colony Club during The Quest and the Captain's Reception. Oh, and if you want to stargaze, go out to the Helipad in the middle of the night - great view of the stars and hardly anybody out there.
Dining - The food was consistently very good. Room service was prompt with breakfast, and the meal was warm upon arrival. The Windjammer had a good variety for breakfast and lunch - the omelet station was especially tasty and catered to virtually all requests (a fellow cruiser requested an omelet...with cream cheese!?!). Food in the dining room was especially tasty, with my personal favorite being the Thai chicken, Maryland crab cakes, and the tiramisu. Another great place for a late night snack is the Seaview Cafe - good desserts and a pretty decent Reuben sandwich! Another outstanding aspect of this ship is its fine crew. The service, from top to bottom, was never lacking. The Captain (Rune Looking) was a riot, and had a great sense of humor. Our cruise director, Marc Walker, was extremely energetic and could be found often throughout the ship, not just during showtimes.
Guest Relations was helpful and answered questions promptly via phone. Our room steward, Vic from Costa Rica, did an excellent job and made great towel animals (and timely too - a stingray after our day at Stingray City). He would also get the door for me if my hands were full of food from the Windjammer. Our waiter, Alexander from India, was perfect. We got to know him quite a bit throughout our cruise, and his recommendations were always right on. My girlfriend asked him for his recommendation between two desserts, and he said "I'll take care of it." He came back with both desserts, and both were top notch.
Another thing that amazed me about this cruise was the response I would get from the workers. A cleaner polishing the banister would say "Good Morning Sir". An assistant waiter pouring drinks at the Windjammer would always reply "It was my pleasure" after getting me hot water for tea. We caught the Captain wandering the Centrum and asked him to pose for a picture (not Captain's night). He said "Gladly" and "I hope you enjoy your vacation with us". In my opinion, top notch all the way.
Fitness Center was great, and we were put through the ringer with a few of those aerobic classes. Do the aerobics and you will LOSE weight on the cruise, guaranteed! Between the two of us, we collected $19 ShipShape dollars throughout the cruise, and got a gym bag and a lanyard.
The entertainment was good. Through our cruise, the dinner shows consisted of 2 production shows, 4 comedy shows, and The Coasters. All of these shows were good. The other entertainment was also outstanding - especially The Quest, Love and Marriage Game Show, and the Trivia Challenges. My only complaint about the entertainment would be that, with very few children on this cruise (we found this out from an Adventure Ocean staffer - there weren't too many), a few more "adult" shows would have been nice. None of the main shows entered into even PG-13 territory.
A quick note on Shore Excursions: We purchased 2 excursions thru Royal Caribbean. The first was horseback riding in Jamaica - an outstanding experience. The guides were great, and the excursion was very much worthwhile. The second was the Tulum Mayan Ruins Express. This was a disappointment, though not really Royal Caribbean's fault. We understood that we would have to take a ferry to the mainland, and that during bad weather the ride is bumpy. However, we had GREAT weather the entire cruise, and the ferry ride to the mainland was still like a roller coaster. My girlfriend became seasick for the first time ever, and was joined by about 1/3 of the rest of the people on the ferry. If you even have the slightest notion of motion sickness, this excursion may not be for you. The bus rides were also long (again, we understood this going into it), but the amount of travel time was not worth the ruins. We were disappointed in the size of the ruins (smaller than expected), the fact we couldn't walk through them, only around them, and that beach access (which was advertised and we were prepared for) was closed. The bus driver also discarded one of our lunches that wasn't yet eaten (no explanation as to why was given), and the "Mayan Dancers" were quite rude (one walks around asking for tips/donations, BEFORE they had even done anything. I tried to explain that we were just passing through, and he cursed at me, in Spanish, under his breath. I have a good knowledge of Spanish, and told him, in Spanish, that he should watch his language around bilingual tourists.)
Overall, I would recommend this tour once if you have never seen a Mayan ruin (if you don't get motion sickness), and even then I just barely recommend it. Otherwise, enjoy the island of Cozumel.
To sum it up, the cruise was great, and really worth the price we paid. I think the cruise would have been a great value in our original Cat. N interior, but being upgraded TWICE to a balcony just made it even more worthwhile. We already have another reservation with Royal Caribbean for March, and we are looking to book another cruise on the one in March. Read Less