49 Miami Royal Caribbean Radiance of the Seas Cruise Reviews

I take a cruise for my birthday each year. This year I chose a cruise in the Eastern Caribbean for two reasons: (1) It was a change from my usual Mexico trips, and (2) I was sailing with a group of friends  one couple who had never ... Read More
I take a cruise for my birthday each year. This year I chose a cruise in the Eastern Caribbean for two reasons: (1) It was a change from my usual Mexico trips, and (2) I was sailing with a group of friends  one couple who had never cruised. And because we had first timers along, I wanted this cruise to be special: and it was. Because we took a midnight flight from Oregon to Miami, we decided to leave one day early and spend the night in South Beach. It was a great choice. Even though we were awakened at 6 AM by a marathon, it was great to have a day in Miami to decompress. We arrived at the ship around noon on Sunday  fully rested and ready for 7 days of cruising fun. The embarkation was perfect. Because we arrived by private car, we did not need to worry about long lines. We had a very good chat with the counter personnel and were on board in less than 10 minutes. Everyone at the counter was professional and able to answer all of our questions. When we looked at our sea pass cards, we noted that between the 6 of us, we were seated at 4 different tables. But we knew the drill. Three of us headed off to the dining room to talk with the head waiter. Usually the reassignment goes very easily. For some reason, we seemed to tick off the head waiter. He got all of us at the same table, but it was right next to the kitchen door. (More on that later.) But we were happy because we were together. Let me get the one disappointment out of the way. I have never had bad dining room service on an RCI cruise, and the service on this cruise was not bad  simply not what I have come to expect. Our waiter and assistant waiter seemed to be constantly distracted. Our assistant waiter would leave one roll, fill the water glasses, and disappear. That may be why they were at the kitchen door table. There is an old phrase that everything is ruined by repetition  even Paris. And the phrase applies to the RCI dinner menu. It seems to have remained unchanged for the past two years. And that is not necessarily bad. I now know on each cruise what I will have on each night. It us a little like walking into your neighborhood restaurant. Cruise food in the dining room will never be outstanding. It cannot be. It is the equivalent of political fund raiser dinners. You need to feed a large group of people in a very small amount of time. Personalized dinners should not be expected. But they should be expected in the specialty restaurants. And the Radiance did not disappoint. We ate in Chops two nights. It is easily as good as any of the major steak houses such as Mortons and El Gaucho, with highly professional service and personalized dinners. Portofino (the Italian restaurant) was good. We ate there one night sponsoring a farewell dinner for the singers and dancers. I would not rate it as high as Chops for food, but I was definitely pay another visit. Well, you now know what I like about cruising  eating. But the rest of the cruise was every bit as good as the food  often better. I took a cruise on my first Radiance class ship last August: on the Jewel. I really like the moderate size of the ships. They offer a lot of the qualities of a Voyager class with the intimacy of a Vision class. Even though the Radiance went into dry dock immediately following this cruise, everyone did a superb job at keeping it looking in top shape. The public rooms were always clean. And the entertainers: superb. One reason I go on cruises is live entertainment. Between the solo and group entertainers in the bars and public rooms and the evening shows, there is always something going on. I like the headliners, but my favorites are the singer and dancer casts. And RCI knows how to put on a quality show. I have noted that some cruisers tend to think of the dancers and singers as being similar to the neighborhood kids putting on a show. That attitude truly demeans these professionals. They know their craft and they perform it expertly. Unfortunately the group on the Radiance completely dispersed on their individual ways when the ship entered dry dock. I had a balcony cabin on the fantail. It was a perfect place to have room service breakfast in the morning and to wrap up a day watching the ships wake disappear over the horizon. Being a nonsmoker, I was a bit surprised to notice how often I could smell cigarette smoke on the balcony. But I decided that is simply the smell of freedom and it made my libertarian heart happy. We Americans spend far too much time trying to regulate other peoples lives. Yes, the ship did stop at ports  even though I thoroughly enjoyed the three sea days. Our first port was Coco Cay, RCIs private island. A friend and I spent the day parasailing and riding waverunners. I sky dive, so the parasailing was a bit tame. But even being a motorcycle rider did not prepare me for the thrill of the waverunners on the choppy sea. For a full hour I had a blast  convinced that every second would be my last. I then went snorkeling. That day was one of the best days of the vacation. I strongly recommend the waverunners. But be prepared to be scared to death  and to laugh and survive in the process. The second port was St. Thomas. We were there a year ago and spent our full day at Coki Point. The snorkeling there is fantastic. The fish have become addicted to dog biscuits, so you will not see them acting naturally on the main beach. But at the south end of the point there is a small reef where few people go. The viewing is far better there. The third port was St. Maarten. We rented a van and drove around the island. When we were there last year, the traffic was terrible. This time we made the full circuit far too fast. We had planned on eating lunch in a village on the French side. But we were there at 10:30  far too early for lunch. Instead we stopped at two beaches and went shopping in town. When we arrived in Miami, I dreaded leaving the ship. My experience has been that RCI has one of the worst departure procedures I have ever seen. I was more than pleasantly surprised. Our tag color was called while I was raising my fist fork of breakfast. Between the call and walking out of customs, no more than 15 minutes passed. Great job, RCI! Overall, this was an incredibly memorable cruise. Like everything in life, some things could have been better, but only a very small person would allow a few blemishes ruin an otherwise marvelous experience. My barometer is based on the response of the first timers with us: they are ready to cruise again. I look forward to seeing the Radiance when it leaves dry dock. Read Less
Sail Date January 2006
I took the 12/4-12/11 Easter Caribbean cruise with my husband, mother, and mother-in-law. Overall we had an excellent time and would wholeheartedly recommend this ship and itinerary to anyone. A few specifics below: Ship The Radiance ... Read More
I took the 12/4-12/11 Easter Caribbean cruise with my husband, mother, and mother-in-law. Overall we had an excellent time and would wholeheartedly recommend this ship and itinerary to anyone. A few specifics below: Ship The Radiance is a clean and beautiful ship. I did notice some wear and tear on the carpets and furniture in the Windjammer area, but other than that everything was top-notch. The Solarium was really beautiful, as was the Cascades dining room. Our first night we were seated at a small table for 4, and with three of us being extremely tall it was rather uncomfortable. We mentioned this to the waiter on the 2nd night, and by the 3rd night we were seated at the captains table in the center of the dining room with a fabulous view of the waterfall. The outdoor pool was a little small in my opinion, without a lot of room for deck chairs in the sun. Overall the service was excellent, although we were supposed to get a ship-board credit and it took several days for this to happen. Cabin My husband and I had an oceanview cabin on Deck 4, while the Moms enjoyed a balcony cabin on deck 8. I thought being on Deck 4 was perfect because we were close to the dining room, and auditorium, so at the end of the evening we didnt have to walk far to get back to our cabin. For the few hundred dollars more I highly recommend the balcony, however the oceanview was nice as well. It was larger than we had anticipated, with tons of closet space. Food The food was excellent in the dining room every night. My mother and I are Indian, and the head waiter had lamb curry and chicken curry made especially for us one evening. That was a nice touch. We tried a lot of the sugar-free desserts and they were excellent. Windjammer food was good as well, with lots of nice choices for hot entrees. For breakfast I typically had cereal and fruit, however the omelettes were nice. There was usually a long wait, though, and for some reason there were a number of rude complainers on this cruise. I tried my best to ignore them. Shipshape Center I thought this deserved a separate caption because the gym was fantastic! My husband and I worked out every day, and there is nothing better than being able to look out onto the water or at a beautiful island while you are working out. I did the spinning class 3 times, and it was a great workout. Entertainment Absolutely the worst singers and dancers I have ever witnessed. The Piano Man show was laugh out loud funny in some spots, because it was so horrible, not because it was supposed to be funny. At one point my mother in law and I were crying we were laughing so hard. These singers and dancers were really trying, but the shows were just horrible. The comedian on the first night was really funny, and they had him come back to do an adult encore. Both times he was hilarious. The casino was nice; we won some money in the slots. The movie theatre looked nice too, although I did not watch any movies. Cruise director reminded me of Ryan Seacrest. Ports Coco Cay was a fabulous place to spend an afternoon. It was just what we needed on the first day to get into the swing of being on vacation. ST. Thomas was just like all the other islands, with shopping and beaches. We took a cab to the main shopping area, browsed for a bit, and had another cabbie take us around the island for $25pp. He then took us to a beach (I believe it was at the Marriott resort) which was absolutely beautiful and not too busy. He came back after a few hours and we went back to the ship. A perfect day. It rained when were in St. Martin, but not until after we got to Dawn Beach via taxi. We had some beers at a beachside bar, and then went back to the ship. Overall, the Radiance is a fantastic ship, and I would recommend it to anyone! Read Less
Sail Date December 2005
We had not cruised on RCCL for a while. We are extremely impressed. This is one of the most beautiful ships we've been on-- mid-size- elegant and glamorous but not too glitzy. The crew all spoke English extremely well- could not say ... Read More
We had not cruised on RCCL for a while. We are extremely impressed. This is one of the most beautiful ships we've been on-- mid-size- elegant and glamorous but not too glitzy. The crew all spoke English extremely well- could not say the same on HAL-- and the service we received was the best ever including HAL and Celebrity!!!!!. Entertainment was excellent- we actually went to every show and enjoyed them all. The age of the passengers was very varied which was good. The ship layout was well organized and was relatively easy to get from here to there. Only complaint was the elevators were sometimes too slow and you had to run from one end to the other to catch the arriving car. I especially liked the serving arrangement of the food upstairs in the buffet which has always been one of my pet peeves. Here they had different stations so you didn't have to wait on a long slow moving line wanting to get an item at the end of the buffet and not wanting to cut in ahead of other passengers. Here foods were arranged in pods or stations and you could walk right up and get what you needed. The quality and selection of food in the dining room was not as good as we've had on other ships and they were especially lacking in sugar free desserts- there was only 1 choice!! I had a problem with a very noisy neighbor in the adjoining cabin and customer service was very responsive and helpful. The only real complaint was over 300 passengers being kept herded into the gangway area for over 30 minutes with no explanations while the ship got clearance to dock in St. Thomas. We weren't supposed to have had to go through customs according to the ship's officers but due to some last minute regulations, we were forced to which is what caused the confusion. We all understood that, what we were angry about was being herded like cattle into the gangway area for over 30 minutes with no air, water, seats etc. AND NO EXPLANATION OR CREW MEMBER present to assist. It put a damper on our day. Otherwise, we had a wonderful time-- great fellow passengers-- greatest crew ever and a magnificent ship. We heartily recommend it. Read Less
Sail Date November 2005
I took the Thanksgiving cruise on the Radiance of the Seas. I went with my DH, DD, DS. We had connecting inside cabins on Deck 4. Embarkation- As we were going down the pier in Miami, I was able to see what the other cruise lines did as ... Read More
I took the Thanksgiving cruise on the Radiance of the Seas. I went with my DH, DD, DS. We had connecting inside cabins on Deck 4. Embarkation- As we were going down the pier in Miami, I was able to see what the other cruise lines did as far as embarkation. To say I was dismayed is an understatement. People were standing in line outside in 85 degree heat and their luggage was being abused like the gorilla commercials for Samsonite. We pulled up to the RCCL area and there was almost no one around. We immediately gave our luggage to the porter and they took care of everything else. We got there at 11:45 so I figured everyone was inside the building. From the curb to the Windjammer it took us 15 minutes. We literally walked at a consistent pace through the check in area and onto the ship. I was very relieved and impressed. Food- The Windjammer was our first eating opportunity and it was very good. A buffet meal but very good quality. The main dining room was very good also. We sat at an upper table for four and were served well by Ruati and Peter. Our favorite spot was the Seaview Cafe. The food was very good and the service excellent. It is kind of a hidden gem and we never had a bad meal. The kids also ate there frequently for lunch and loved it. We ordered room service 2 times and it was prompt and good. We tended to use this service on Port days so that we could get off quickly. We ate pizza in the Solarium once and it was OK, not up there with the best but I tried fruit pizza for the first time. We also ate once in the dining room for breakfast and had a very entertaining waiter. I tried Eggs Benedict for the first time and they were great!! Yum!! Adventure Ocean programs- Kids not very interested. Very few kids in the 12-14 age group for DD-7 I think. Really no one ever there. The 15-17 had many more but DS is really not a joiner. Note of caution the older kids talk and spend time trying to get drinks and cigarettes. Not all but some just keep an eye on your kids. There were 500 kids on board and I never saw any bad behavior. They kept an eye on them and made announcements reminding parents to watch their kids. That seemed to work well. Entertainment- We thoroughly enjoyed the entertainment on this ship. It was top notch-Don't miss the Piano Man- awesome and I am totally impressed with the quality of cast members and stage. They rival Broadway. We also went to Love and Marriage- hysterical, and Bingo in the Aurora Theater. Comfortable seating and fun atmosphere. We also enjoyed the Karaoke and the Quest game. The Cruise Critic Radiance Gobblers- That's our Meet and Mingle name- Participated and had a great time!!We also loved the Belly flop contest and all the music supplied in the Centrum and all around the ship. One night I was on Deck 7 and looked into the Centrum and this older couple were waltzing to the musician-piano I think- they were all by themselves in the area and they looked beautiful and graceful. Rooms- We had two connecting rooms right off the Centrum- very quite I hardly ever heard anything-I was really amazed. The rooms are larger than you picture them although I was glad that we only had two to a room. Any more really would get a little crowded. The rooms were in great shape and the showers aren't that bad. I used 4 clothes pins on the bottom and had no problem with shower curtain cling. Our attendants were invisible but very competent and Orlando did assist my husband with his ties...Thank Goodness. Ports- Very organized disembarkment and again RCCL couldn't have done it any better. Even immigration was quick and easy. I was always amazed how they could do this with such speed and efficiency. Anyway - Our tour in St. Thomas was wonderful. I found the tour guide in the ports of call area. St. Thomas has excellent quality in jewelry. The prices are very competitive- but the selling style is very aggressive. Not great for the browsers among us. Just say no politely though and they leave you alone. We loved our tour and Sapphire Beach is lovely. Good snorkeling. Easy re-entry onto the ship. Make sure you make your arrangements on island time- which can be one hour off during daylight savings time. St. Maarten was beautiful- again a private tour. Enjoyed the sights and history of the island. Very laid back especially compared to St. Thomas. The shopping experience was calm but I found the quality of the jewelry a little light in the gold department but bigger stones. I would return to this area for a land based vacation in a minute!! CocoCay- Was very well kept up and a nice place to unwind for the first day of the cruising. Even with touchy weather it was quite relaxing. Photography- There are so many options for different kinds of pictures. Make sure you try at least some of them. The Black and White was awesome. The photographers are very talented. It took us almost the whole cruise to get a keeper but we really had a hard time with our facial expressions. You have to go to the Schooner bar-say hi to Rada and Simon. They have a great piano player and great bands in the colony club. You have to play at least one game of pool on the self adjusting tables- Very neat!! Staff- The staff was kind, generous, and highly competent. We rarely received the miraculous treatment that some speak of, but we were treated very well and I have the utmost respect for the hard work and dedication that they all show every day. I never saw one glimmer of bad behavior- Note One of our group experienced something that I must mention. Please put your purchases away so that the cabin attendant does not think the bag is garbage. They will throw it out. It broke their hearts and put a damper on their last night. Believe it or not you may find yourselves alone in areas on this ship. With 2400 people onboard, we found ourselves all alone on many decks. On the helipad, and in the Solarium. It was really cool when it happened. I couldn't believe that with that many people aboard we really never stood in a long line or felt crowded except on the elevators. Sometimes you had to wait quite a bit. I solved that by walking the stairs. Two things that accomplishes, get there quicker and burning calories. When I got home I had gained one pound and I admit I didn't really restrain myself much. Try the sugar free desserts and they have a salad with crab salad in the Seaview that is yummy. Working out in the gym was great. I only got there one day but walked constantly. The rock wall was an experience. Especially for those afraid of heights. I was put on an intermediate -Brown grips- part and I almost made it to the top but the wall curves a little and you can't see the grips. At that point you have to look around and my knees started shaking and fear set in. Happens to everyone but worth the experience. Read your Compass and mark what you want to do. You can be as busy or not as you want!! Disembarkation- Packing always sucks but it helps to have a garbage bag on hand for packing dirty clothes. This process was also quick and orderly and I was totally amazed by their efficiency. Remember to count your bags. We left one there in the luggage are but RCCL kindly sent it UPS to our house. It only took about 4-5 days and was $18. They called right away on my cell phone number. Put this on your luggage instead of home number. There is no one at home. Read Less
Sail Date November 2005
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
Sail Date November 2005
This was my first cruise with Royal Caribbean and my first Back to Back Cruise. Check In Arrived at the pier about 10:30am and was on board by 11:30am. I had completed the SetSail details online previously. This obviously had a major ... Read More
This was my first cruise with Royal Caribbean and my first Back to Back Cruise. Check In Arrived at the pier about 10:30am and was on board by 11:30am. I had completed the SetSail details online previously. This obviously had a major effect on checking in. I recommend that everyone complete this before travelling. The only draw back I had with the check in, and it was nothing to do with RCL, was that US-Visit were not prepared for us and therefore had to wait for them. But I suppose if you turn up early you have to expect this. Once onboard I met up with my fellow Nutz in the Windjammer. The staterooms were not available until 1pm. Staterooms I was on Deck 8 (room 8564). The room was pleasantly big and had a balcony. The view was very good. The room had the TV, safe, cupboards and wardrobes. The bathroom was just OK. On previous cruises with other lines we have had toiletries available and replaced daily. This cruise we had a soap bar and shower gel in a dispenser. The sink only gave out warm or hot water. There was a problem with the toilet in that it was difficult to flush. The staff on board quickly sorted that out. Interactive TV The TV has all the usual news, sport and movie channels. The TV was also good to order room service, book excursions and check your bill. Stateroom Attendant We had an excellent stateroom attendant, Owen. He looked after us everyday. Whatever we wanted he made sure we got. You couldn't ask for more. And he made up plenty of towel animals for us. Windjammer I thought that this was one of the Radiance's best features. The food was plentiful and a wide choice. For a diabetic there was a good selection of sugar free desserts. There are several food islands serving up salads, hot food, snacks, fruit, etc. The table service was also very good, with refills for drinks being provided. Main Dining Room The dining room was very nice and the table staff were excellent. Our waiter was Fahri, from Turkey. He looked after us. Whatever we wanted we got. Nothing was too much trouble. On our second week he took extra care of us. The food was good but I would say I have had better elsewhere. My favourite dishes were the Shrimp Cocktail, Thai Chicken and Savarin. Chops If you like steak then this is the place for you. Good service and delicious onion bread are provided. It is nice and intimate in here. Entertainment The shows were very good. There was only one show I didn't like on board, but that is my personal taste. The shows put on by the Radiance Singers and Dancers were excellent. The shows in the other parts of the ship were OK. I would say they do not have that much provided compared to other cruise lines that I have experienced. There is the usual trivia, Karaoke,quizzes and the infamous Quest. Cruise Director & Staff The first week we had Gordon Whatman. A true professional in my book. If you have him as Cruise Director you are lucky. The second week we had Marc Walker. He too was good. I would give him 8/10 whilst Gordon I would give 10/10. The Cruise Director's staff were all pleasant and friendly. Bar Staff They were all generally very good, especially Xentia from Mexico. A real star. The one disappointing part was that one bar man would not get your drinks order if you used the soda card. He would take the order and then forget about you. The Schooner Bar This was the bar that I mainly stayed at. It was very nice. However to enter it you have to pass through the smell of gunpowder. There is a pianist playing in the evening. He can't sing and does not have a sense of humour. Art Auctions These were fun and a good opportunity to enjoy free Champagne. If your art auctioneers are Megan or Tara sit in the two front rows. There is only one drawback. If you like a picture and want to buy it you have to keep on insisting that it comes up for auction. They seem to like putting up expensive pieces of work no one was buying. Meet & Mingle We had all met up previously and so this was just another social gathering for us. The day it was held on did not correspond with that previously given. I only received the official invite advising me of the new arrangements an hour before the meeting. Thankfully I knew everyone beforehand and I had been informed. Swimming Pools There were three, a children's, family and adults (which is the Solarium and where I liked to hang out) Photographers I felt that these were a hindrance. I think if you want a picture taken you should go the photographer. At dinner time they interrupt you when you are eating, barge into you to take photos of other tables without a word of apology. When you leave the ship at a port they want your photo. At Labadee we had to run the gauntlet and were even chased and told to comeback for the photo. In Grand Cayman there was two lines of passengers at the piers. One for leaving the tender and one for boarding. The photographers stood in the line for those leaving. They caused no end of chaos. In the end RCL security had to escort them away. The Photographers were not happy. Ports of Call We visited CocoCay (The Bahamas), RCL private island. A very nice and peaceful island. St. Thomas. We did the Coral Reef and Coral World Trip. A nice place and worth a visit. If you like shopping this is the place to go. We took the skyride to get a good view of the island. Try the drink Bushwhackers it was delicious. With your ticket you can get $1 off. St Maarten. This was another nice island. I took a tour around the island and did a bit of shopping. I preferred the French side of the island. Labadee (Haiti). The place e looked nice but it was not my favourite place. In the straw market the stall holders harass you. In a couple of instances my wife and I were grabbed by stallholders. we didn't like it. All along the beeches you are harassed for sun loungers. Ocho Rios, Jamaica. This was my favourite place. We visited the Ruins (waterfall and gardens and songs provided by the tour guides), Dunn's River Falls. I climbed to the top. At all times I felt safe and well looked after. The climb was my highlight and I wanted to do it again. To end off we visited Margaritaville for a couple of free shots. A great little party place. Grand Cayman - a great place to shop. That is all we did. We had previously visited Stingray City, the Turtle Farm and Hell Belize- Again this was just a shopping trip. Bad weather was on the horizon and many tours were cancelled. Back to Back Midcruise Check in This is one area that RCL let us all down. However I was fortunate to remember what happened the week before. We had to meet in The Schooner bar. Once everyone had left the ship we had to disembark and go through passport control because we were entering the USA. Then go through Passport control again as we were leaving the USA. On both occasions we had to have our finger prints taken and our eye photo taken. I think this sonly applies to non USA residents. However once on board you can not go back to your room until 1pm. RCL do not tell you this. We were lucky as we packed a bag with a towel, book, bottle of water and all the other incidentals we needed. In all the cruise was excellent and full of memories to last a life time. Read Less
Sail Date November 2005
We live in SW FL so we drove to the Port of Miami. They have really done a lot with that port. Port Everglades should take notes. I pulled up to the curb, unloaded the bags, a porter whisked them away and showed us which door to enter. ... Read More
We live in SW FL so we drove to the Port of Miami. They have really done a lot with that port. Port Everglades should take notes. I pulled up to the curb, unloaded the bags, a porter whisked them away and showed us which door to enter. Since my husband uses a cane and has trouble walking the lady from the cruise line got us near the front of the line for security. That was a real help. We then waited about 10 minutes in the Platinum C&A lounge for our SeaPass cards. As soon as we got them we boarded the ship. I was able to check our carry on in the dining room until 12:55 PM since the rooms were not ready until 1PM. This is a nice feature. Our bags were delivered by 3PM and by PM we were unpacked and ready to go. Smoothest embarkation I have ever had. We were in Cabin 9094 a D1 on Deck 9. Instead of a loveseat we had a full size sofa which really helped make the room feel much larger. It is only about 25 sq ft larger than the other balcony cabins but it does make a difference. Our balcony was odd shaped with one wall about 10 ft long and the other about 41/2 ft. We could see all the way aft but not forward as the cabin next door blocked our view. That was all right though. We like the Schooner Bar and the piano bar in there. We made the acquaintance of Kelly and Jewan on the first day. They always remembered our names and drinks. Not bad since we both drink one thing before dinner and something different after dinner. They had jokes and puzzles with the stirrers that kept us laughing. They were also good at getting the "regulars" talking to each other. Small things but they do enhance the cruise for us. Our table in the dining room was on the second level near the grand staircase. A very good spot. There were 10 at our table and for the most part a nice mix. A few isolated incidents that were downers but nothing major and certainly not enough to make for a truly bad experience. Shareef, our waiter and Sarah the Asst. Waiter were truly outstanding. Two of the best I've ever had. We had a wine pkg and Sarah did an excellent job of serving every evening. The weather was beautiful with the exception of our last sea day. Clouds in the am but then the sun came out in the pm. Seas a little rough the last day but Capt. Kent took a smoother route and we were fine. Our ports were Coco Cay, St. Thomas and St. Martin. Sat on the beach at CC, booze shopping and a taxi tour on St. Thomas and Orient Beach in St. I had been to Orient once before and was not too impressed. I was on the end near the nude beach and it was very crowded. This time the cab took us to Kakoa Beach and it was just gorgeous!! Now I see why everyone raves about Orient. I will go back there in a heartbeat. I did get to cross one more thing off my 'To Do Before I Die' list. I went parasailing!! Not bad for a 63 yr old overweight lady. I was going to try on CC but they wanted $79. Good thing I waited, it was only $50 at Orient. I noticed that RCI did not have the Horse Racing at the pool. Don't know why. There was the usual Capt's cocktail party which was very nice, and the repeaters party which we missed. A new feature was a brunch for Plat and Diam. C&A members. It was wonderful. Not the usual bacon and eggs. They had a duck crepe that was to die for. Also a puff pastry filled with a ham and mushroom filling that was delicious. A very nice affair and something I hope they continue. John Davidson was the headline entertainer on this cruise. I was really looking forward to seeing him as he was so cute on Hollywood Squares. He was AWFUL. People were getting up and leaving in droves in the middle of the show. What a disappointment. The production show Piano Man was very good. The Radiance singers and dancers do a great job. The comedian at the Welcome show was very funny as was the comedic juggler at the Farewell show. We didn't go the rest of the shows. We also skipped the Quest which I have seen many times. When it first started it was a lot more fun than it is now. It was more spontaneous. Now folks know what to expect and they come with bags of stuff. Capt Kent Ringborn is a very pleasant visible man with a wonderful voice. Too bad he is retiring when the Radiance gets to Alaska. Gordon Whatman is a great cruise director with a beautiful singing voice as well. He and his staff are all very approachable and friendly. The food was very good in both the dining room and the Windjammer. I really like the 'stations' in the WJ rather than the long cafeteria line. Never had to wait in a long line. Didn't get to the Seaview this trip but last time had the awesome onion rings. Disembarkation was a breeze. We got up at 7am , went to the area for Plat C&A and had coffee and juice and by 9:15 we were on I95 headed home. Easiest ever. Love that Port of Miami. Since I started cruising in 1986 I have seen a lot of changes in the cruise experience, some good ,some bad. Given the size of today's ships I can see why some of the changes had to be made for practical reasons. Some of the changes I am just not so sure of. Drink prices are comparable to what you would pay at an upscale cocktail lounge on land but I miss the reduced drink prices on the drink of the day. Now it is not cheaper you just get to keep the glass. Used to get Bloody Mary's and Screwdrivers in the am for a reduced price. Also miss some of the pool games, where they got couples involved. And of course the old style of horse racing where you didn't have to buy a horse, just bet on them. I am sure they have to keep changing things or else get stale. Maybe if I cruise long enough what is old will be new again. Good a reason as any to keep cruising; as if I needed a reason. The Radiance is a beautiful ship. I prefer the smaller ships and this is just right. Easy to navigate the decks. All eating is aft, show lounge forward and the places to lose your money are midships. How easy is that! This was only cruise number 2 for DH. I had to drag him on the first time but this time he got the fatal disease.....cruise addiction. He decided to cancel our planned vacation in New Orleans for next year and booked us on the Brilliance to the Panama Canal. Thank you Cruise gods. Read Less
Sail Date April 2005
Preface: We've cruised on many cruise ships, seen many places, however, we have never taken a cruise ship through the Panama Canal. We chose this 14-day itinerary because it finished up in our home town of San Diego. This was a very ... Read More
Preface: We've cruised on many cruise ships, seen many places, however, we have never taken a cruise ship through the Panama Canal. We chose this 14-day itinerary because it finished up in our home town of San Diego. This was a very relaxing, enjoyable cruise and we hope to do this itinerary again. We began our trip on Friday by traveling from San Diego to Ft. Lauderdale on SouthWest Airlines. We love SouthWest Air and traveling into Ft. Lauderdale was a plus, since we didn't have the hectic traffic that can be experienced at the Miami International Airport. It is only a 20 minute drive from Ft. Lauderdale to Miami. We rented a car in Ft. Lauderdale since we were visiting relatives in Miami before our Sunday embarkation. We booked the InterContinental Hotel in Miami near Bayside Marketplace with points we had accumulated over the years, and enjoyed this hotel very much. We had a suite on the 29th floor which overlooked the cruise port. It was also a plus to be able to drop off our Hertz car at the kiosk in the lobby of the hotel, rather than having to return it to Hertz in the City of Miami (just a few short blocks from the hotel). We had a wonderful Cruise Critic group dinner at Bubba Gumps at the Bayside Marketplace on Saturday evening. Great food, good friends, and a perfect way to start off our journey through the Panama Canal! Embarkation: Embarkation was a piece of cake! We are Diamond members and arrived at the cruise port at 10:30 AM and were amazed to find that check-in was followed up by boarding immediately at 11:00 AM! This was a fantastic start to the cruise. Cabin: We prefer to cruise in AFT cabins and this was no exception. We originally booked 9256, but had some friends that had never cruised in the AFT cabins, so we booked 9258 and asked them to book 9256. We were glad that we had the AFT cabins on this itinerary, since the majority of the transit through the canal was seen from our cabin balcony. Our Cabin Attendant, Fannie, was a gem! We simply cannot say enough about her. She made the "BEST" towel animals we have ever seen! She was gracious and always had a smile on her face. Itinerary: This itinerary is a good one if you LOVE sea days. There are 7 sea days and 7 "ports", providing a lot of time to relax and lots to see. Aruba: Aruba is a fun port! The main interest here is their beautiful beaches and bars. We booked the "Jolly Pirates" excursion on our own, since it was not offered by RCCL. We read lots of good things about it on CC, and were very glad we booked this tour! It was a very nice way to snorkel, swim, and see some of the coastline of Aruba. The tour ended around 1:30 PM and we headed back to the ship to take showers, get dressed, and head out for the Kookookonuku Pub and Bar Crawl provided by RCCL Excursions. We didn't do the "dinner" crawl, but rather the later version. We were glad we did. The dinner version was longer and started earlier. We had the opportunity to eat dinner onboard in the Windjammer before heading out for the evening which was a plus in our book. Panama Canal Cruising: The reason we booked this cruise was to see the workings of the Panama Canal. We were definitely given a great show, with some great weather. It is very hot when you transit the canal (100 degrees is not uncommon). We got up very early (5:30 am) and went to the bow (heliport) of the ship to watch the ship enter the locks. I highly suggest watching the beginning from the bow (East to West itinerary) since it really is the best view. After transiting the first set of locks, we went up to the Windjammer and ate some breakfast. The rest of the day was spent transiting the remaining two locks and then stopping in Fuerte Amador for those folks who wished to tender to Panama City and take tours. We chose to stay onboard and relax since the intense heat really made us very lethargic and tired. Costa Rica: We were originally scheduled to port in Puntarenas. Although many of the cruisers were never given the port change information, some very observant CC members noticed that the RCCL website had changed our itinerary to "tender" in Puerto Caldera. We had a private tour with Mauricio (see "Ports" on CC) and it was just lucky that we noticed the change of itinerary. It seems that RCCL gives advantage to Celebrity when porting, since the Celebrity ship was docked in Puntarenas along with the Norwegian Sun. We chose to zipline in Mahogany Park and then have a traditional Costa Rican lunch, see the alligators and do some shopping. We loved Costa Rica (although very hot temperatures there)! This is one place I would love to visit again. Check out the "feather paintings" while you are there. The art is amazing. Huatulco, Mexico: This is a very interesting port. The area is very young for a Mexican port, and the community is trying to build itself up around some lovely beaches and resorts. We took the RCCL Swim and Sail and enjoyed this tour very much. The water can be very rough in Huatulco, so be careful if you book water excursions. Some of the group we were with spent their time at a private beach and enjoyed the day very much. Although you can go to the beach right from the cruise ship port, a short cab ride will bring you to some very pristine, unspoiled beaches very close by the ship. Acapulco: We booked a private tour in Acapulco. This was our first time in Acapulco and certainly wouldn't make it a priority to go back. We booked our tour with "Oscar" through the CC "Ports" board. Our first stop was the San Diego Fort which is directly across from where the cruise ship ports. You can easily do this via taxi! Our next destination was to take a tour through the hills of "old Acapulco". It is a very depressed area, although very interesting. We saw some of the old hotels and had a lovely stop at the Hotel that Johnny Weismuller made famous. We then headed over to the "Cliff Divers" and waited for about 30 minutes until the show began. Our next stop was up to Senor Frogs for lunch and then over to the "new" side of Acapulco where all of the Resort hotels are located. My suggestions: visit the San Diego Fort and the Cliff Divers. Driving is very dangerous in Acapulco and I would definitely advise NOT renting a car! Cabo San Lucas: We really enjoyed this port and were pleasantly surprised at how grown up and nice this area has become. We visited Cabo in 1987 and couldn't believe all of the changes! We went into the main part of town, did some shopping, visited the "factory tequila store" and then headed over to Cabo Wabo for some good times with cruise folks before returning to the ship. San Diego: This is my home town and certainly a great place to visit with lots to see and do. Dining Room: Our Dining Room table was terrific. We had previously, through the use of the "Roll Call" thread for our sailing on CC, put together a group of us to dine together on this trip. We enjoyed the good company and friendship very much. Our Waiter, Emanuelle and our Assistant Waiter, Maria, were top drawer! We thought the service and food in the Dining Room was Good to Excellent. Entertainment: Entertainment on the ship was hit and miss. We tried to attend all of the evening shows. We walked out on the "John Davidson" show. His antics and mocking of old age were enough for us. The highlights were the shows presented by the Royal Caribbean Singers and Dancers. Kudos to all of those folks for a job well done! Mystery Dinner (Portofinos): This was something that has never been offered on any of our other cruises and we decided to see what it was all about. We booked it the first thing after embarkation. We had a great time. The dinner started out in the Colony Club with appetizers and drinks, and then moved into the Portofinos Restaurant onboard where the "players" were seated with the guests. At the end of the evening, the murderer was revealed and prizes were given to those who guessed the murderer correctly. The dinner is an abbreviated menu from Portofinos and garlic was abundant! If you have never done this before, I highly suggest it! The cost was around $49.00 per person and was a very good way to enjoy an evening of fun, food and entertainment. Disembarkation: There was no "priority disembarkation". Platinum and Diamond members were given a separate area to wait for their turn to leave the ship. RCCL has decided to now allow those with flights to leave first due to security reasons and lines at the airports. If I had a flight out that day, I would have been very happy with the process. Since I live in San Diego, our turn to leave did not occur until 10:00 AM. Read Less
Sail Date April 2005
Hi, just wanted to review our 8th cruise on the Radiance of the Seas and it was great! We stayed at the Holiday Inn- Port of Miami across from Bayside Marketplace which is an open air mall with a Forrest Gump's restaurant and Hard ... Read More
Hi, just wanted to review our 8th cruise on the Radiance of the Seas and it was great! We stayed at the Holiday Inn- Port of Miami across from Bayside Marketplace which is an open air mall with a Forrest Gump's restaurant and Hard Rock Cafe and lots of fun with the bands playing that Miami Sound. Took a short millionaire's row cruise on Island Queen (check on-line for coupons) and had a terrific day! When it was all over we walked across the street back to our bayside view room and enjoyed the city lights! We have explored Miami and all of it's wonderful neighborhoods and attractions on previous trips and it was a blessing not to have to drive at all! We were happy and tired and looking forward to seeing the Radiance in Port across the bay in the morning! What a sight to see with all the ships lined up waiting for thousands of eager passengers and letting off many who didn't want to leave! I took many photos both days we were here but today was very special since it was our Ship in port! Embarkation was a breeze...... we have a special sign in desk as Platinum members in the Crown & Anchor and have never had to wait more than a couple minutes. On board, it's time to explore and await that special sail-away party on the balcony!! I got some terrific pictures of Miami skyscrapers and the jet skiers and small boats escorting us out are a blast to watch! This ship is quite beautiful with lots of windows to the water so we quickly learned our way around. We try to pick a room close to the stairs/elevators since there is always something going on you want to see or do! First stop Coco Cay, beautiful day with calm clear water this time..we always pack our own snorkeling gear and put it to good use here...brought sardines for the fish and had an up close and personal visit from the local laughing barracuda that scared me to pieces since his teeth were right in my snorkeling mask as I was trying to get a shot of a large parrot fish! Next time I will try dry cat food for the fish! (the guides in Cozumel bring a small Ziplock of dog/cat food, the fish love the stuff and you will be swarmed and feel like you are swimming in an aquarium with fish bumping into you as they are darting around!) Maybe the barracudas won't be so interested !! Great Barbecue and great relaxing day! No fees for chairs and there are always mats left over from someone done with them. Back on board we head south for St Thomas and fun, fun, fun all night and all the day at sea and all night! Welcome back parties for repeaters, and receptions for Plat/Diamond members and other goings-on will keep you busy! Remember to sign up as a cruise critic and have another party when you get 25 people to join! They have goodies and drinks and prizes to give away..a good time will be had! First cruise we have ever had a singing Cruise Director, Gordan and a singing Captain!! The production numbers were great and the backstage tour was fun! St. Thomas is busy always! Lots of shopping, great views from overlooking mountains and the water visibility is always pretty good! If you go on the Sky Tram, you can walk there from the pier and it's much cheaper to buy a ticket right there. It's got a nice hiking trail, shopping and a neat bird show and restaurant with the best views of the harbour below! We went for the Eco tour and learned about the Mangroves and native island plants & history and went snorkeling. St. Maarten, is my favorite island!! We went Rhino riding and had a blast! Got drenched by a sudden sea squall and took refuge under our life jackets! It was actually a refreshing clean water rinse after snorkeling and seeing various fish and a moray eel so no one really complained! It was over in about 7 minutes! Rejoicing we hit the sea lanes and bounced, bucked and flew back down the coast of St. Maarten on a wild ride!! On the bus ride back we asked to be let off by Front street and here's where you can do some serious trinket shopping and island wear, etc.. There are casinos and unique liquors (guavaberry) and blue delft china from Holland and chocolate shops, etc (The Dutch side is very cool!) actually the French side is awesome too but we seem to hit it about the time of the afternoon siesta every time we have been there! Many great restaurants and shops and an open air market with great trinkets that will remind you of Europe, with a tropical flair! Enjoy! Back on board and fun, fun, fun!!! We tried the scavenger hunt for adults and that was a blast! Took 2nd place and ran all over the ship looking for clues! Don't miss out on Win a Cruise Bingo! My husband has always played this bingo and I am so glad because he won! It's really true you can win a cruise and we are booked on the Navigator in November! The certificate was full of restrictions and you had to list 3 choices, soo we gave them 6 choices and fully expected to be bunking with the crew but wanted to go no matter what and then we received the Good news..... a Balcony stateroom and we only had to pay port charges and taxes!! Don't miss the final bingo session either, a young military couple won over $7K and they decided to make a down payment on their first house!!! The Midnight Buffets are great and the bartenders doing their stunts were neat and the casino was hopping with winners (some nights!) the art auctions are interesting, don't miss trivia or the game shows and most of all have fun! It will be the best vacation of your life! Read Less
Sail Date April 2005
Cruise review - Radiance of the Seas Panama Canal full transition (Westbound) April 17-May 1 This was a special cruise booked a year ago, with it being a 14-day cruise. RCI don't do many longer cruises as they now seem to focus on ... Read More
Cruise review - Radiance of the Seas Panama Canal full transition (Westbound) April 17-May 1 This was a special cruise booked a year ago, with it being a 14-day cruise. RCI don't do many longer cruises as they now seem to focus on mass-market 7 day cruises so this was a great opportunity to enjoy their longer product. Radiance of the Seas was the first "Radiance" class ship and is now 3½ years old. She is still in fine form with very few signs of age. We are not casino people so didn't use that facility. We mainly drank in the champagne bar and Schooner's. Pre-cruise arrangements. We booked this cruise as a package through our travel agents. This included indirect flights from London Heathrow to Miami through NYC. The transatlantic flights were very comfortable and the food and service was markedly improved from last time we flew with AA. We then transferred to the Sofitel Hotel in Miami for one night. We found the hotel informal and comfortable, with a good bar area and excellent breakfast the next morning. We then transferred by coach to the pier at 11am the next morning. The whole package was flawless and congratulations to the travel agent for putting together such a superlative package Embarkation. Yet again this was a bit disappointing since the "platinum & diamond" queue was longer than the normal queue and we could have saved time by using the normal line. We also got treated with derision by one of the staff as he didn't seem to believe we were platinum members. Once on though it was fine. There was a huge queue for embarkation photos which we just skipped. Luggage was in our room by 1.30pm. Cabin. We had a standard inside cabin on deck 8 (8635) which was fine. There were some plumbing issues and the toilet regularly failed to flush and this seemed to be a deck-wide problem. The showers are very small on these ships. Great cabin attendant in Dennis who was attentive and unobtrusive. Food/Dining. Windjammer cafe: This was better than normal, with a wide selection of food of very high quality. We ate here most breakfasts and lunchtimes. Seaview cafe: We ate snacks here a couple of days which were of OK quality. Cascades Dining Room: We had table 520 second seating. We had an absolutely superb dining room experiences as we were blessed with an exceptional waiting-on team (Mehmet Soyler from Turkey, Dev Thomas from Trinidad and Branka from Slovakia) and wonderful fellow diners who made the evening meal one of the highlights of the cruise. The food was usually of very high quality. We had the platinum wine package which seemed good value. Best meals were prime rib and duck. Portofinos: We ate in here for the Murder Mystery theatre. Enjoyed this very much but the meal was completely saturated with garlic which spoilt it. Entertainment. We were blessed with having Gordon Whatman as our cruise director and he really shone over the 14 days. The entertainment was, by and large, excellent although there were some mixed views on this. The show band, Next Level, were excellent although I didn't really rate the Sandra Mandella Trio who did the classic dance hits. Tom McTigue (comedy) - very funny on day one, usual "cruise humour" John Davidson (musical comedy) - didn't go to this but he had a very mixed reception Jacqi Michaels (vocalist) - was very good Phil Palisoul (comedy) - did not see Piano Man (production show) - absolutely fabulous. Have to say that the "Piano Man" himself was truly exceptional and the rest of the cast were not too far behind. This was a marvellous show and certainly the best we have seen on this ship, well done RCI. El Gaucho! (Cowboy) - didn't tickle our fancy but was well received by those who went Lenny Welch (singer) - a bit passed it really and a little sad Martin Lewis (magician) - very funny indeed Blair Shannon (singer/comedy) - what an exceptional man! Great singer and very funny, seemed a true gentleman and also sang with the showband as well. A pleasure to see and wish him well. David Pengally (singer/ukulele) - OK I suppose, not my cup of tea Sean O'Shea (impressionist) - very aggressive with the crowd, did not like him Welcome to our World (production show) - again a true showcase of talent, did not have the wow factor of Piano Man but still exceptional. Craig Dahn ("Showman") - did not see him as went to Portofinos Steve Carte (Comedy Juggler) - was excellent! Captain. Again we were blessed to have Captain Kent Ringborn on his penultimate cruise. An exceptionally kind, funny and articulate man, he tops it all by singing regularly throughout the cruise. He completely won his guests over and I am glad we had the opportunity of meeting him. Open Decks. We used the solarium quite a lot since the weather was truly blistering. The ship had the solarium roof open when in port which was nice. There was very few problems getting a sunbed which was a pleasant change. Meet and Mingle. This cruise had an unbelievable active Cruise Critic Meet and Mingle group (5,200 posts going into the cruise) and it was a delight to meet all these people at the M&M party on day two. There were around 50 folk and there was a gift exchange. A little disappointing not to see Gordon there. We made good friends and this blossomed over the two weeks which made for a really unforgettable cruise experience. Hopefully the thread will stay active and everyone will keep in touch. Member Events. The welcome back party was OK, had to be split in two due to the numbers, and again the event was made by Captain Kent. The platinum "brunch" on day 9 was good, had the opportunity to chat to the captain, but we felt we again experienced a bit of "inverse ageism" since no-one else bothered to speak to us, which is strange since we (hopefully) have 50+ years if cruising ahead of us. Destinations. Aruba - we have been to Aruba before so didn't do a formal tour. Those that did did not seem to enjoy it. We had a good time on Palm Beach and sea was lovely. Many of the M&M people went to Carlos and Charlies and seemed to have a great time, do that next time. Panama Canal Transit - the experience of a lifetime. Great transit of the Canal in fabulous weather, accompanied by the Norwegian Sun all the way to further illustrate the miracle that is the Panama Canal. Hit the Gatun locks at 7am, then cruised the Gatun Lake and had a slight delay before cruising the Gailliard cut and getting to the Pedro Miguel lock and 2.30 and Miraflores at around 3.15pm. This truly needs to be done if you haven't done it already. Fuerte Amador - sadly couldn't get off the ship as clashed with dinner and also the tendering was a bit of a shambles, but apparently not too much to do when you get ashore Caldera, Costa Rica - one-horse port, not much to do there at all, hired taxi/tour to take us around Costa Rica but a little disappointing. Better to do rainforest I think. Annoying that Infinity and Norwegian Sun pushed us out of port in Puntarenas. Huatulco, Mexico - very pretty place, we took a water taxi to the beach (Bahia de Maguey) where we had pleasant beers and also watched the local people frolic on the beach. Nice day Acapulco, Mexico - did long tour which was very good, got excellent view of the cliff divers and the scenes around the town. Didn't realise the place had so many (VW) beetles!) Expected it to be a bit squalid and was pleasantly surprised. Cabo San Lucas, Mexico - Very pretty went to Lover's Beach by Water taxi which was very nice indeed. Tendering worked much better. Miscellaneous. Joe Condrill was guest lecturer on board who did 7 lectures during sea-days and was full of interesting information. He also seemed everywhere on the ship when he was not lecturing! I did not go to all of his lectures (3) but they seemed well attended. Craft classes and scrapbooking - These were good fun, and complementary. Dancing - Unfortunately the trio did not inspire people to dance very much but big up to James and Emily who really tried and were very good dance instructors. We have now learnt the Sweetheart in cha-cha which we did not grasp on the cruise. The lessons were too popular really with a good 50-60 people there. Trivia - went to several trivia events which were fun. Debarkation. Had to be up ridiculously early (6.15am) for immigration and then had over an hours wait in line. Then had another two hours before we got off the ship. Transfer to airport (handled by RCI) was exceptionally poor and the only bad part of the cruise. Summary. This was an exceptional cruise with an exceptional captain, CD, and staff. The ports of call were usually excellent and the Panama Canal is simply an experience not to be missed. Very few poor points, only the pier arrangements again let down the company. Looking forward to our next RCI cruise! Read Less
Sail Date April 2005
This was our 3rd cruise, 2nd time on Royal Caribbean (we took one trip on Carnival, never to return!). We are sold, and will probably never do another line! Of 2300 souls onboard our cruise, 450+ were repeaters, and for good reason. We ... Read More
This was our 3rd cruise, 2nd time on Royal Caribbean (we took one trip on Carnival, never to return!). We are sold, and will probably never do another line! Of 2300 souls onboard our cruise, 450+ were repeaters, and for good reason. We will definitely fleet up to the (larger) Voyager class next time for 2 reasons: they have an onboard dive shop that offers certification during the cruise (something my husband and I want to pursue) and they have a larger kids program. Our special-needs 10-year old son (autism) had a good time, and never fussed about being dropped off. But the amenities for kids and number of staffers in the kids program (Adventure Ocean) were not optimum on this mid-size ship. That said, the service is what makes RC #1 for us. But it is not white-gloved and stuffy. Our dinner waiter was cheerful and enthusiastic, having requested a transfer from one of the exclusive, extra fee dining rooms, because he missed the fun of the main dining room. Joselito was a delight! 2 examples of going the extra mile: 1) Our first night, the head waiter called up to Adventure Ocean to extend our son for after-hours sitting because we were not yet finished with our late-seating dinner at 10 PM. 2) a nameless waiter in the casual buffet dining room (the Windjammer), took it upon himself to track down a box of Frosted Flakes for our son (after I simply asked if they had any), found our table, and presented it along with a bowl, spoon and milk! OK, so maybe I impress easily, but I thought it was great. Can't wait until our next one! PS, after doing 2 trips to the Western Caribbean, we much preferred the ports on the Eastern Caribbean cruise, esp. St. Thomas and St. Maarten. Read Less
Sail Date March 2005
RADIANCE OF THE SEAS Western Caribbean March 6 - 13, 2005 By Mary & Vincent Finelli Thomas Wolfe once wrote "You Can't Go Home again" (1940), but this cruise proved him wrong. After only being back on board the ... Read More
RADIANCE OF THE SEAS Western Caribbean March 6 - 13, 2005 By Mary & Vincent Finelli Thomas Wolfe once wrote "You Can't Go Home again" (1940), but this cruise proved him wrong. After only being back on board the Radiance of the Seas just five minutes, we encountered Captain Kent Ringborn; it was as if the last four years had never happened. We were home again. For two years he was RCI's manager for the Radiance building project in Papenburg, Germany and he personally oversaw the creation of the Radiance (2001). She is the first ship of the Radiance Class which now includes the following: The Brilliance of the Seas (2002), The Serenade of the Seas (2003), and the Jewel of the Seas (2004) upon all of which we have sailed. When we met this singing Captain, his gentle, caring nature immediately impressed us; during this cruise we noted that those who sail with him never forget his kind friendliness or his beautiful baritone voice. On Monday he invited us to dine at his table on formal night, and later in the week with him at Chops Grille. This cruise felt like it was a family reunion. Unfortunately for us and RCI, he retires in May (2005). If there ever was a Captain who set an inviting tone on board, it is Captain Kent Ringborn! This cruise negated Wolfe's statement ----- we did go home again. EMBARKATION On Sunday the Port of Miami is easily accessible. No traffic and an excellent port crew made boarding fast and painless. A steward greeted us curbside, took our luggage and wheeled Vincent's chair through security to the Ambassador's Lounge where we picked up our boarding passes, signed our charge account and that was it; since all documents are checked weeks ahead. As Crown & Anchor members we enjoy priority boarding. In less than ten minutes, we were on board and in our stateroom. We have a specific routine for day one: first, we go to the buffet (a very nice one of roast beef, salads, pastas, pizzas, soups (potato leek) fruits and desserts, including RCI's famous cookies); second, we go to the Dining Room to meet the staff and check our seating for dinner. This day Maitre D' Metin Camurlu set us up with a table for two, near the entrance at the foot of the massive staircase. Perfect, from a perfect Maitre D'! Next, we go back to the stateroom and rest until the boat drill, in this case it was held at 4:30pm. We are now in cruise mode: well fed, oriented and shedding all shore side cares. THE SHIP The GTV (Gas Turbine Vessel) Radiance of the Seas is 90,090 tons, 962 ft. long, 105.6 ft. wide and carries 2,100 passengers (this cruise had 2,207 double occupancy.) and a crew of 900. She boasts of over three acres of exterior glass and elevators overlooking the sea and the centrum. Media and cruisers have deemed this class ship to be the epitome of beauty, size and style. It has maintained the overall profile of a huge private yacht, yet with all the accouterments of the largest ships afloat. The Radiance holds the award for the "Ship Team of the Year 2004" and the "Environmental Ship of the Year 2003," and the media have voted the Radiance Class the "Most Beautiful Ships at Sea." We reported in our 2001 review many details on this ship's decorations; thus, this review will center on general comments and special crew members. Immediately upon arrival, passengers are first impressed with the beauty of the nine deck centrum with its waterfalls, cymbidium orchids and semi-circular balconies located on each deck. Be sure to go to deck 12, where the Crown & Anchor Society Lounge has a window set in the center of the floor, from which the entire centrum is visible all the way down to Deck 4. This is an incredible view not to be missed. There are thirteen decks. Deck 2 has some interior (Cat. Q) and ocean view (Cat. I) staterooms. Deck 3 has mostly ocean view (Cat. H), some interior (Cat. N and O) with two wheelchair accessible staterooms. Deck 4 has ocean view staterooms (Cat. G) with two wheelchair accessible ones, and interior staterooms (Cat. N) with two more wheelchair accessible ones. Forward is the first level of the Aurora Theatre with its crystal embossed curtain and simple elegant seating and decor. Midship is the Lobby Bar, Guest Relations and Explorations Desks. There are six Centrum Elevators, four overlook the sea and two overlook the centrum. We wish the buttons controlling these elevators were divided in two sections; since, it is difficult to reach the opposite end elevator when pushing a wheelchair. Usually the doors closed, just as we reached it: It was especially difficult for those of us with mobility problems. All the way aft is the first level of the Cascades Dining Room, a beautiful dark teak wood embellished room with a bandstand located in front of the waterfall and two curved staircases leading to the balcony. The aft wall is a two deck tall stunning mosaic of the Roman Goddess Aurora rising from the sea while watching a dolphin frolic before her in the ocean. There are figures sitting on clouds exhaling wind and the colors are wonderful: gold, blue, aqua, and copper. Deck 5 forward has the main floor seating of the theatre. Midship is the Conference Center, Art Gallery and the Photo Shop. The boutiques and shops are also located here (logo wear, perfumes, resort wear, etc.). Next is "Latte-Tudes" coffee shop and RCI On Line computers/internet. Aft is the balcony of the Cascades Dining Room. Deck 6 forward has the balcony of the Aurora Theatre; toward midship is the Cinema and Scoreboard Sports Bar with its many screens showing live venues from around the world. Then, midship is the Royale Casino for slots and gaming ---- very posh with beautiful peacocks and a lighted, colored glass ceiling. Also, near the Centrum is the Champagne Bar. Going aft is the Schooner Bar, which is the most nautically decorated area: cannons, cannon balls, and even creosote soaked ropes enhancing the ambiance through the sense of smell. Murals by H.E. Nissen (Norway) depict seascapes and Columbus setting foot on the New World. A lovely full length portrait of Jenny Lind the "Swedish Nightingale" is paired with a painting of the ship "The Nightingale" weathering a storm. Here are located the bar and two specialty restaurants, Chops Grille and Portofino (both with $20 cover charge per person.) Aft is the Bombay Billiards Club with two gyroscopic self leveling pool tables ---- which are fun to watch on a rough sea day. There was just one of those days this cruise. Next is the Jakarta Lounge with handy chess set ups overlooking the sea. Also located here are the Singapore Sling's Bar, the Calcutta Card Club and the Colony Club, all of which have the atmosphere of an English gentlemen's club with bookcase lined walls, elegant wood and plush seating. Decks 7, 8, 9 and 10 are all staterooms, eight of which are wheel chair accessible with balcony, bringing the total of special needs cabins to 14. Always located near the Centrum elevators on each of these decks are additional passenger services: On Deck 7 are the business services; on Deck 8 is the Explorers' Court; on Deck 9 is the library and on Deck 10 is the Concierge Club which is available only to Crown & Anchor Diamond Members and Suite occupants. Here, Concierge Willie Salaya was very attentive and courteous. Thank you Willie! Decks 11, 12, and 13 are all passenger areas. On Deck 11 forward is the Ship Shape Spa with the Massage Center, separate Men's and Women's locker rooms, a Thermal Suite and the Hair Salon. Next is the Solarium, where Vincent can be found every morning in the whirlpool. Mary prefers the lap pool which is filled with sea water (the water was cool and hard to get into, but refreshing once in). The jungle atmosphere is nice and most cruisers take pictures of the life size elephant statues. Aft is the Windjammer Cafe with buffet dining and both indoor and outdoor seating. Deck 12 forward has the Ship Shape Fitness Center, midship is the Jogger's Track. There is an Optix Teen Center, Game Arcade, the Adventure Ocean Club and Beach, all for the younger cruisers. The children's program is free except for baby sitting after 10pm. We saw the children "Pirates" marching and singing in the theatre, lead by a crew member. They were scary, funny and loud and received a great ovation. Parents seated near us in the theatre told us that their children liked the youth programs so much that they rarely wanted to stay with the adults. Aft are the Golf and Sports area, Golf Simulators and the Sea View Cafe serving excellent snacks and lunch. Finally on Deck 13 there is the Viking Crown Lounge with a star shaped bar and beautiful windows overlooking the sea. There are also the Vortex Night Club and the Hollywood Odyssey, an intimate Show Club (check out the life size statue of Marilyn Monroe with billowing skirts from the famous scene in the "Seven Year Itch"). Outside, on this deck, is where the Rock Climbing wall and the Putting Green are located. The stair wells of the ship have bright colorful art work; near the Centrum are unique murals of glass inlays. The ship is gleaming under Chief Housekeeper Renita Kumari. CABIN Stateroom #7610 is wheelchair accessible with an automatic door opener. When entering on the right, there is a large bathroom with a 5'x5' shower, with safety rails, a bench and an emergency phone and call button. The sink has a mirrored medicine cabinet with shelves. Then, there is a queen size bed with two night stands and reading lamps. When entering on the left, there is a double armoire inside which the personal safe is inconveniently located. This was difficult to access, especially after clothes were hung in the closet. Next is a lighted, mirrored vanity/desk with six drawers (so narrow that 8"x11" paper cannot lie flat!). There is a TV and a cabinet above it. There is also a navy blue sofa, two chairs and a teeny tiny coffee table. The far wall is all windows, floor to ceiling, and a door which opens on to the trapezoidal shaped balcony, holding two chairs, and a large table, to which our steward added a chaise lounge. Our excellent steward Cassandra Dasilva was amazing. She anticipated all our needs and was efficient and friendly. Thanks Cassandra for everything. FOOD & SERVICE We have a new friend, Maitre D' Metin Camurlu, who oversees an excellent staff. We also visited with our old friend, Food & Beverage Manager Rinaldo Lima, whom we met on the Brilliance. We were wonderfully served by Waiter Kristian Dukic and his assistant Joel Loayon under the watchful eyes of Head Waiter Leonardo Spinelli. Executive Chef Rana Bir has an enormous task serving over 9,000 meals daily, but he is certainly up to it! The food is generally good with flashes of excellence. Dinner with Captain Kent Ringborn is always a treat and this time was no exception. On the menu was Shrimp Cocktail, Escargots Bourguignon, Lobster Bisque, Chilled Pear nectar (Mary thought this was delectable) and Caesar Salad. The entrees included the following: Teriyaki Glazed Fresh Alaskan Salmon, Duck a` L'Orange and grilled Beef Tenderloin. The Captain enjoyed his salmon; Vincent said his beef was excellent (and he is not easily pleased); Mary thought her duck was crispy and very tasty. What is there to say but, fine food, fine service and fine company, all contribute to a fine evening. We also dined at Chops with Captain Kent and the delightful Rolfes (109 cruises with RCI, when do they ever see home?). During this meal we got an up close and personal view of what a Master's life is really like. He received and made various calls to the Bridge concerning the weather in Grand Cayman, our next port of call. He ultimately decided to change course and head instead for Cozumel, Mexico; thereby, avoiding rough weather and giving the passengers an extra night in Mexico. RCI and the Captain stress safety first and we concur. Room Service took about 15 to 30 minutes; we ordered breakfast every morning in our stateroom: and the coffee and omelets were hot, the fruit and juices were fresh. The variety on the dining room menu was more than adequate; however, both Head Waiter Leonardo and Kristian offered to get us whatever we desired, even if the items were not on the menu. According to Rinaldo Lima the Midnight Buffet was the best he had ever seen, and that is saying something, since he has seen so many. Food and service on board deserve high marks. Vincent, a retired Professor of Environmental Health, had a very enjoyable meeting with Environmental Officer Mark Curtis (a graduate of the Massachusetts Maritime Academy). He gave us interesting information on the Advanced Wastewater Reduction System and other recycling programs on board. He and the Captain should be proud of the Radiance's high marks on environmental issues and its award winning status. We spent some time with the especially helpful Loyalty Ambassador Carol Williams talking about the Crown & Anchor Society and Diamond Plus membership perks such as the following: 1. Special tours of the Bridge, Galley and back stage. 2. Choice of Amenities (wine or flowers). 3. Discounts on early bookings. 4. Dinner with the Captain or other ship officers. 5. Schedules of key crew members. We feel strongly that RCI truly appreciates its returning passengers, and knows how to show them that they are valued through special cocktail parties and other perks. There is also on board credit for RCI shareholders and those who reserve a future cruise while on board. ENTERTAINMENT We had sailed with Cruise Director Gordon Whatman before and were happy to encounter him again. He is an extremely upbeat and active leader. He inspires his group and the passengers with his singing (he has had operatic training and it shows). Throughout the cruise there was bingo, trivia, scavenger hunts, pool parties, 50's dances, Casino tournaments, etc.... We also enjoyed some of the music played around the ship, especially that of the terrific Sandra Mandella trio in the Centrum. The RCI 's Singers & Dancers new show "Piano Man" was a hit. Mary enjoyed "Beetle Mania" especially "Yesterday" and "You May Think That I'm a Dreamer" by John Lennon and dreams of world wide peace. "Welcome to Our World" was warmly received; Bobby Arvon, the voice of "Happy Days," wowed the audience with his singing, impressions and piano playing. He put it all into his show and it was appreciated with a standing ovation. The nicest final touch was the "Farewell Show" featuring Captain Kent's warm baritone voice. It is tough to say "Good bye" after such a terrific week. But all good things must come to an end. Arriverderci a presto! Till we meet again soon. PORTS OF CALL Day 1. Miami, Florida Departure 5:00pm Day 2. At Sea Day 3. Labadee, Haiti Arrival 8:00am Departure 4:00pm Day 4. Ocho Rios, Jamaica Arrival 9:00am Departure 5:00pm Day 5. Georgetown, Grand Cayman canceled due to high winds and danger for tendering. Set sail for Cozumel. Arrival in Cozumel 8:00pm. Day 6. Cozumel, Mexico Departure 8:00pm Day 7. At Sea Day 8. Miami, Florida Arrival 8:00am CONCLUSION This was our 50th cruise and our 25th on RCI ships. It appears that the more we cruise the more we enjoy it. We definitely are addicted to cruising and Vincent gets "withdrawal syndrome" if at anytime he has not booked two or more future cruises. He was showing symptoms while we were on this ship, since he had only one more cruise reservation, the transatlantic crossing on the Costa Mediterranea for this April. The problem was solved aboard by booking a cruise on the behemoth Freedom of the Seas, the next RCI cruise ship which will be launched in May 2006 and will take the title from the Queen Mary II of the largest cruise ship afloat. We hope that there will be many more cruises in between these two bookings, but we have not yet decided on which ones. It would be nice if it were possible to do around the world cruising on several different ships, each leg on a different ship; i.e., from the USA to South America, then on to the South Pacific, Australia, Japan, China, India, Africa, through Suez Canal to Europe, and back to USA, or a similar itinerary. We know that some cruise lines are doing such an itinerary on some smaller ships, but we would like to see it done in a sequence of legs on several ships to fully enjoy the cruises and land tours. Happy Sailing! Read Less
Sail Date March 2005
Embarkation: Our boarding time in our cruise documents was listed as 2:00 pm, but we arrived at the Port of Miami at 11:00 am, checked in with the required boarding documents and waited an hour with fellow cruisers before we could embark ... Read More
Embarkation: Our boarding time in our cruise documents was listed as 2:00 pm, but we arrived at the Port of Miami at 11:00 am, checked in with the required boarding documents and waited an hour with fellow cruisers before we could embark on the ship at almost 12:30 pm. We understood that at the time of our arrival, the previous week cruisers are debarking the ship, the ship's crew is very busy getting ready for the new cruisers and the frequent cruisers had priority boarding. 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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Sail Date February 2005
Cruise was from 2/13/05 - 2/20/05 Embarkation: This was by far the easiest embarkation we have had. We are Platinum members and we arrived at the port a little early (10:30 a.m.). We expected to wait, since we were earlier than usual, ... Read More
Cruise was from 2/13/05 - 2/20/05 Embarkation: This was by far the easiest embarkation we have had. We are Platinum members and we arrived at the port a little early (10:30 a.m.). We expected to wait, since we were earlier than usual, and we did have to wait, but we were taken into a separate waiting room for platinum and diamond members. There were a total of 11 of us in our group. They had cookies and drinks and we were able to watch them load the ship up with all kinds of food, which was pretty neat. We were onboard by 11:45. Our rooms were not ready, so we went up to the windjammer for lunch. Room: We had a balcony stateroom, room 1088. Very nice, your typical balcony room, but we loved the location. On deck 10 aft, it was very easy to find and right below the Windjammer. I only heard noises from above on a couple of nights, but not enough to keep me awake or irritate me at all. Our cabin steward was Peter, and he was nice. We didn't want for anything. 1st stop Coco Cay: We were all a little worried that we would not make it to this port, but we did. It was a beautiful little island, but a bit chilly the day we were there (about 75). We got in the water anyway. It wasn't very deep anywhere we could find, only about waist high and no waves. There were also some slippery rocks that prevented you from venturing out any further. We didn't care, the water was warmer than we were used to and so blue! The coco loco's were delicious too, but VERY sweet. 2nd stop St. Thomas: We have been to St. Thomas before and know this port pretty well. We usually do some snorkeling or some other water activity, but decided to do a little shopping this time and go to Paradise Point. Paradise point was beautiful, but way overpriced. 32 dollars for the two of us to ride up the mountain. A little expensive for a tram ride if you ask me, but the view was worth it. I would not do it again. Got lots of "bling" in St. Thomas!! 3rd stop St. Maarten: What can I say, I love St. Maarten! Been here quite a few times and it takes my breath away every time. I would love to live there. Did the afternoon beach bash and it was just not enough time. They take you to Orient Beach (nude beach!) and let you relax for about 2 hours. Water is beautiful and the people are very nice. Food: Windjammer was nice, but it is still a buffet. I never really expect too much from the Windjammer. The dining room is nice, but I don't think the food will ever be the same since they put in Chops and Portofino's. We used to be in awe of the food we got in the dining room. My husband would eagerly anticipate the filet night, and on the past 3 or 4 cruises, he has been disappointed to say the least. We did go to Chops on this cruise, it was worth the extra money, but like I said, on previous cruises we never had to pay extra for exceptional food. Ship: I love the Radiance, but I do prefer the Promenade on the Voyager Class ships. It makes it a lot easier to find your way around. The staff on the Radiance is great and the ship is in great condition. They had hand sanitizer on the way into the Windjammer, which we used faithfully, but I was not overly worried about catching anything. This ship is kept clean and the staff was great!! I would recommend to anyone. Debarkation: We had white colored tags, since we had an 11:20 flight out of Miami. Our travel agent told us we were nuts to get a flight that early (this was the first time we did not let RCI arrange for our flight) and that RCI suggests to get a flight after 12 noon. We did not have any problems. We were off of the ship and at the airport (with our bags checked) by 8:30 a.m. Smooth and easy debarkation. Overall: Had a wonderful vacation and can't wait to start planning the next cruise!!! I think we may try Celebrity now that our credits work on that line too and we hear the food is like Chops or Portofino's in the dining room every night. Read Less
Sail Date February 2005
We decided to book our second cruise (our first was on Celebrity's Millennium) on the Radiance of the Seas. My first sight of the ship was breathtaking. Day 1 was Super Bowl Sunday. Being from Maine I was rooting for the good team, ... Read More
We decided to book our second cruise (our first was on Celebrity's Millennium) on the Radiance of the Seas. My first sight of the ship was breathtaking. Day 1 was Super Bowl Sunday. Being from Maine I was rooting for the good team, the New England Patriots. We watched the Super Bowl in the Aurora theatre which was beautiful. Unfortunately, the ship did not leave until 2:00am because of engine troubles but it didn't bring down my vacation any. We toured the ship and were very impressed. The cruise director, Gordon Whatman, was great and always funny. Entertainment was the best we've ever experienced anywhere. There were plenty of children's activities. The food was delectable every night and service was outstanding. Labadee was nice as well as Jamaica, Grand Cayman and Cozumel. In my personal opinion, cruises are the best vacations on earth and I always find it sad when the splendid week on the high seas comes to an end because the people you meet are mostly always friendly. On a cruise vacation, you will always have a good time. All in all, it was a very memorable time and it will definitely not be our last cruise experience. Read Less
Sail Date February 2005
Radiance of the Seas February 13th, 2005 My wife and I are in our late 40s, and unfortunately will not be able to describe ourselves that way again in a review. This was our 15th cruise, 8th with Royal Caribbean. This cruise was with a ... Read More
Radiance of the Seas February 13th, 2005 My wife and I are in our late 40s, and unfortunately will not be able to describe ourselves that way again in a review. This was our 15th cruise, 8th with Royal Caribbean. This cruise was with a small group of 6 family and friends, a total of 8 of us. As always, we began our vacation a day early. Our flight to Ft Lauderdale from upstate NY went very smoothly and our pre-arranged limo driver was waiting with a sign at the baggage claim for the ride to the Intercontinental in Miami. We had a very difficult time acquiring a hotel at a reasonable cost using Priceline. We bid as high as $120 for a cat 3 and were still denied. We've never had this happen in the past. We usually get something for less than $50 so we knew there must be something big going on in town this night. There was. There was a very large Carnevale the day and night of the 12th, and all but the most expensive hotels were sold out. We ended up booking at the Intercontinental for $129 plus taxes. The location next to Bayside eliminated taxi costs so we saved a few dollars there. We opened our room and the view of the ships in port could not have been better. Much closer than any hotel we've stayed in in the past. We were all hungry and went straight to Bayside (only a 5 minute walk) for dinner. After that we shopped for awhile and then headed back to our hotel while others in our group stayed and had a few drinks at one of the establishments. We were quite tired and retired early anticipating our cruise the next day. Day 1 Embarkation -- Miami Sunday, we awake to 6 cruise ships in port. What a great view! One of them is the Radiance ; we couldn't wait! Forecast temperatures today are for mid 70's, great!!! We walked over to Bayside and grabbed a coffee and danish at Starbucks. Just enough to hold us until we sample ship food. We headed to the port around 10:45 AM and upon arriving were quickly checked in at the priority desk. Our Platinum Crown and Anchor Club membership allows us to do this. The small room is full and no seating is available. Please enlarge this area, Royal Caribbean. Around noon embarkation began and we were first in line right behind the person taking us to the ship. Another perk having priority boarding. As we overlook all the people waiting in line from a walkway above, we spot my sister and brother in law in a long line below. They spot us about the same time and my dear sister informs me that I'm number one. Except for some wheelchair passengers ahead of us, we were nearly first on the ship. Once aboard you are not allowed in your staterooms until 1 PM. In the past we always dropped our carryons in the cabin and then went to eat lunch. RCCI does not even allow this anymore, as all access to the staterooms is blocked. We reluctantly dragged our carryon to the Windjammer for lunch. A little while later, most of the rest of our group (my mother who resides in Clearwater had bus transportation to port and had not caught up with us yet) joined us in the furthest to the rear part of the Windjammer. This is an outside location and is a great place to eat. We found that even during peak hours later in the cruise, there are almost always seats available. Our food was a great surprise this cruise in the Windjammer. Much better than last years cruise on the Voyager. My wife ate the fish selections quite often and was very happy with the quality. I often found the selections at the carving station to my liking. Deserts were also better than past RCCI cruises. We finished eating around 1PM and were anxious to see our cabins. We booked cabin 8594, a cat E2 on the most outer edge of the bump. The balcony size is 8' x 4'. It's one of the best non suite cabins on the ship because of the excellent views fore and aft. Views from cabins that are not on the bump are limited because you can't see past the bump. As we arrived at our cabin entrance, my mother did so at the same time. She and a friend stayed in the other outer bump cabin next to us. We checked out our cabins and were very pleased. Now it's time for the hot tub. A tradition with us, as this is the least crowded time to go during the entire cruise. We went out on deck and found only 2 small hot tubs, each only large enough for about 6 close friends. The solarium had only one hot tub, the same size. Three small hot tubs on a ship carrying over 2000 passengers is just not enough. On the Voyager class ships there are 6 hot tubs and 4 of the 6 are huge. Anyway, like I said, this is the time to go. The hot tubs were mostly empty and we spent quite awhile in them with my sister and brother in law. Our luggage had arrived when we returned to the cabin so we unpacked and got ready for muster drill at 4:30. We were happy to find our drill was held inside one of the ship lounge areas, which is so much more comfortable than outside in the hot sun. Early dinner for us was at 6PM this cruise. We had an awesome table location (437) in the Cascades dining room, right next to the captain's table. A beautiful water fall was in back of the stairs. Our waiter Eduardo from the Philippines and Vanda from Hungary served us for the week and they were among the best we've ever had. More about them later. The cod and rib eye were excellent. For desert, the key lime pie was a hit with my wife, and I never had any problem finding something that I liked. The welcome aboard show was at 7:45 to accommodate both dinner seatings. Cruise director Gordon Whitman told a couple jokes after introducing himself and then comedian Brad Upton took over the show. He was very funny. Took in some shops and then retired early. Day 2 Coco Cay -- Today is Valentines Day, our 30 year anniversary of our engagement. I thought it was a good excuse to go on a cruise. We arrived in Coco Cay right on time at 8AM. We ate in the Windjammer early, then visited the hot tub for awhile in the morning. After that we tendered over to the island. Today the beach day is going to be a welcome change from the cold Northeast that we left. It's in the mid 70's today and when the sun is out in full, it's hot. Water was freezing! The barbecue was ok, just the usual ribs, burgers, and hot dogs. The shopping is the usual island souvenirs and not very good deals here. A shot glass with Coco Cay on it was a ridiculous $10. We stayed until 3 and went back to the ship. Royal Caribbean has improved the island since our last visit, with more brightly colored huts -more options for sampling the island "spirits." This evening at 5 was the "Captain's Reception". It's also formal night and we always look forward to it. We had our fill of free drinks and then on to dinner at 6. Appetizers tonight included shrimp cocktails and escargot and most of us ordered extra. Everyone got the tenderloin except my wife who likes duck better. We all approved of our selections. Dessert included the Grand Marnier SoufflE, another favorite of my wife. Everything is excellent again tonight. We are so pleased that the food is better than in the past 2-3 RCCI cruises. Tonight's show is singer comedian Judy Kolba. She was a big hit with the audience. Very funny. After that we went to the Colony Club where the battle of the sexes was to be held. Not very good at all. The hosts running it seemed unprepared and disorganized. The same with the Karaoke held immediately afterward. The person running the Karaoke on our Voyager cruise last fall was far and above the person hosting the competition at this show. We only stayed to see about 4 people singing. We were pretty tired out from the long day and retired about midnight. Day 3 At Sea -- Today there is no reason to rush anything, so we visit the dining room for breakfast. The French Toast has been a favorite in the past and today it's good again. My wife and mother went for a long walk up on deck while I read pool side. The 2 small hot tubs were full, many times with kids. RCCI doesn't enforce their age limit for using the hot tubs, so why post signs? It's quite cool and sunny today. The captain announced that caution should be taken as the wind on deck would approach 50 MPH. We ate lunch in the dinning room today. Wife had the Cajun Catfish (excellent!) and I had a big hamburger. Desert was Coconut Crème Brulee for my wife and I had a huge chocolate brownie with a topping. Almost too much to eat, but as a chocolate lover, I couldn't waste it. We shopped for awhile and I napped for awhile while my wife read. Our group often dressed early for dinner and went to the Champagne Bar for a cocktail at around 5. This evening the waiter, Zeebe brought us chocolate covered strawberries with our drinks. He did this other evenings too. At dinner tonight I ordered the lamb and shrimp scampi and both were quite good. The tiramisu is a favorite for my wife. Another good dinner. RCCI is on a roll this week. After dinner we head to the Crown and Anchor Society reception where the free drinks flowed again. After that we head to see the first of two production shows, "The Piano Man" with the Royal Caribbean singers and dancers. This, according to our cruise director Gordon, is a new RCCI production seen only on this ship at this time. The show was excellent and was one of the best shows we've seen on a cruise ship. Every song was one that you'll recognize and were performed excellently. You can't miss it! The late night adult comedy was at midnight with Brad Upton. He was about average for adult comedy, I'd say. Not the best and not the worst we've seen in our cruise experience. Day 4 St Thomas -- Up early and off to the Windjammer for 7 o'clock breakfast. Ships visiting St Thomas after stopping in a foreign port must clear immigration where every passenger on the ship has to present themselves to the authorities. They want to see your passport or birth certificate, etc. to prove who you are. Today the process was very fast and were soon on our way off the ship. My sister, brother in law, and my mother joined us for the $6pp taxi ride to Megan's Bay. Cost is $3pp for admission. This has been considered one of the top 10 beaches in the world and we enjoy visiting from time to time. Brother in law Tom went in the water. The rest of us didn't as the water was not particularly warm. Lounges are available for $5 and there are also bar service, food and rest rooms. We sunned there for a couple hours and returned to the ship for lunch in the Windjammer. After lunch we headed to the shopping area right off the ship. All of the large major stores that could be visited in town are here too. We almost never go into town because it's all right off the ship. The very first store we visit, disaster strikes. My wife spots a gold bracelet that she falls for. I can see financial damage in my future. She chews him down to an acceptable price in writing and walks out. Has to visit other stores to see if there might be something better I guess. After awhile we return and purchase the bracelet. Back to the ship with a lighter wallet. Happy Valentines Day sweetie!!! Today was just a perfect day. Not too hot and with a comfortable breeze. We often come here on September cruises and it can be very warm. We changed into our suits again in hopes that there would be room in one of the hot tubs. Not going to happen today. Packed full. Many kids in them again!!!. Tonight we stop at St. Croix for a scheduled fuel stop. RCCI schedules busses for the short ride to the end of the pier. They do this because the area is under heavy construction and is not safe to walk. We skipped the show (magician) tonight in order to see the area where we remember shopping right off the pier many years ago on another cruise. The whole area was dark. We don't even know if the stores along the shore are still open or not. The buses dropped us off in the middle of a few blocked off streets where there were few street vendors selling their island souvenirs. No nice stores selling jewelry and the like. There was a band playing ,and there were a couple bars where we were encouraged to visit. There was a large sketch of what the revitalization would look like when completed. The whole Frederiksted pier area is being redone. It's been said that the reason that cruise ships stopped coming here was not so much the crime, but because of politics. When we visited here 10 years ago, the island had just been devastated by a major hurricane. There were wires hanging all over and we even saw a large boat in a hotel swimming pool in Christiansted. The merchants were so happy that the ships had started to return after 2 weeks of cleanup. About 2 years ago, St. Croix went from hosting an average of 230,000 passengers annually to 2,300 from smaller cruise companies. Now the island is hoping that the revitalization will get those passengers back. I hope so too. We'll gladly come again when it's finished. We only spent about 20 minutes before getting back on the bus with many other like-minded folk. On the way back to the ship we had to go through 2 checkpoints. We were required to hold up our seapass cards to prove we belonged on the ship. The guard at each stop was extremely friendly to the passengers and we all knew that we were wanted back soon. Back on the ship, we were able to catch the last 20 minutes or so of the magic show by Levent. He was very funny and entertaining. After the show was the "Love and Marriage Game", a show we always attend, but unfortunately not tonight. We also missed the always fun deck party. Maybe next cruise we'll take a good nap in the afternoon so we don't miss them again. Day 5 St. Maarten -- Ah, another one of our favorite ports of call. We are up early to eat breakfast and are soon on our way to Orient Beach by taxi van. Cost is $6pp. Joining us today is my brother-in-law, mother and 2 friends. We walked down the beach a ways looking for a deal on lounges and umbrellas, but it seems that this time of year vendors are less willing to deal as there are so many people coming here. I have never seen the beach so crowded. We've only come here in September's off season. You almost have the beach to yourself until 10 or so, when the tours start coming on the beach. Today the beach is already crowded at 9AM. Is wasn't bad at all even with all the people. We settled for a spot where we were able to rent a lounge chair and umbrella for $15 total. Perfect beach for people watching. We stayed until 1:30 in the afternoon. This is probably our favorite beach in the Caribbean. It's scenery is just great and you can walk for a long way along the beach. The water is warm and we just love it here. Megan's Bay in St Thomas with all it's recommendations and awards has nothing at all over this beach. On the way back to the ship, our taxi driver said that we were so lucky as it had been terrible rainy weather up until the day we arrived. Good for us! We had a light lunch and out for a hot tub visit. Not happening today either. Full of people. Doesn't take many when there are only 3 tubs on the ship! Sat out awhile and then went in to get ready for dinner. We had a pre dinner cocktail before dinner tonight with the group and then another great meal. We decided not to go to the show with Dominick Allen tonight. We just saw him a few months ago on the Voyager. We thought we'd try the hot tub after dinner instead. My brother-in-law Tom decided that would be a great idea too. At about 8:15 we went up on deck and found that there was no one in the hot tubs. Reason being they were closed. Nets over them both! Give me a break. Closing them at this hour is ridiculous. We all know they have to be serviced, but at 8 in the evening. They could certainly be done at other less popular hours of the day. We then head to the solarium to see if that hot tub was available. Yes it was open, but full of people. About 15 minutes later Tom sees us and starts walking toward us. When he was about 8-10 feet away us, his feet went out from under him and he took a terrible fall. Please go to the following link to read about that. http://cruisereview.homestead.com/Tom.html Tonight at 10:30 was "The Quest Game Show", a show that you should never miss on a Royal Caribbean Cruise Ship. It's by far the funniest show on the ocean. You should never miss it. After Tom's fall and getting him settled in his cabin, we went to meet up with the remainder of our group in the Colony Club and to inform them about Tom's fall. The quest took a back seat this evening. We stayed, but the show wasn't as funny to us because our thoughts were elsewhere. Day 6 At Sea -- We slept a little later than normal this morning. Got up to the Windjammer around 9 and then out back outside where we like to sit. I saw a whale jump in the distance. The captain later announced that they'd been doing it much of the morning. After breakfast, we went to get Tom to bring him for his "checkup". The new doctor informed him that his injury was much more serious than previously described. His ankle was broken and he would need surgery. The doctor put a cast on and we took him back to his cabin for much needed rest. No sleep at all the previous night for him or his wife. Time to eat lunch by now and then out for an afternoon on deck. It's a beautiful day today. The captain slowed the ship a bit so the wind wasn't bad. Sunny almost all day. Pre dinner drinks at the Champagne Bar again tonight. It's also formal night. Dinner once again was a real treat. Lobster and prime rib, yum! Only problem is we're missing Tom, miserable in his cabin I'm sure. Our waiter I know made his day though. After we had our dinner, he personally took Tom's meal to him in his cabin. He got the best service on the ship today. Upon arriving back at our cabin this evening, we received an invite to the Platinum and Diamond Members party in the Starquest Lounge. We didn't realize then, but the time for the party was for the afternoon of that day. We were quite disappointed when we showed up Saturday afternoon and no party. Somebody screwed up for sure. This evening is the second of the Royal Caribbean Productions, "Welcome to our World". This show was ok, but not nearly as entertaining as the Piano Man. We went to Karaoke Idle expecting to stay for the entire show this time. We got great seats and two members of our group (ladies) decided to be judges. They were seated and the show began. Only 1 or 2 singers actually got through their songs before the machine kept breaking down. Karaoke ended up getting cancelled with a full Colony Club audience waiting to hear some entertainment. This kind of killed the night for us. Sunday At Sea -- Sunday, our last day of the cruise. Depression is setting in. It's been so much fun and is soon coming to an end. We eat and then out on deck by 9. What's this? No one is in the hot tubs. No nets. Just water. Finally, we're in and we're not coming out! Ok, we did come out when it was time to eat again. We showered for the Crown and Anchor party that was held the day before. That was dumb!!! When we found out we changed again, found my mother and went to the Seaview Cafe over the Windjammer. The line was about 15 minutes. Our meals included a hamburger, a Reuben, onion rings, and fish and chips. Ok, but not really worth waiting in line for to us. We found a spot that was not too crowded up on deck 12 right near the elevators outside. Most of our group stayed there all afternoon. We even got Tom out of his cabin to join us for a beer up there. The weather again was perfect. My wife was very reluctant to go in to get ready for dinner. This is the one and only problem with early seating, in our opinion. We went to the Champagne Bar for our last pre dinner cocktail and chocolate covered strawberries. Tom made it here and to dinner. And it was another good one. Tonight's show was the Farewell Show with the cruise in review video and juggler Dario Vasquez. Ok, just nothing special. I wish the ships staff still did the "if I were upon the sea" skits that we've seen on previous cruises, years ago. These shows were always a hit on the last night. After the show we finished packing and got our bags out in the hall. My wife went to sleep and a friend and I went to the casino for a contribution. While sitting at the blackjack table around 11:30 I think, there was a power outage on the ship. The casino stayed well lit overhead, but everything else went dead. The dealers immediately covered their trays of chips. I heard that the hallways became pitch black with only emergency lighting along the floor. Something to see I guess. The captain made an announcement a few minutes later saying that everything was ok and we would still be in the port of Miami on time. Too Bad! Day 8 Debarkation Miami -- Our whole group met in the dining room at 6 am for the last breakfast. We had a few laughs and then headed to the handicapped waiting area in the dining room. We now had 2 wheelchairs in our group of 8 to leave. We were among the first to go through immigration and customs. All went quickly and we were off the ship around 7:30 and waiting for our luggage. Out on the sidewalk soon after. Only one problem now. Our limo is not scheduled to come until 9:15-9:30. We won't do that again. The limo ended up being one of the least expensive ways, $33.67pp round trip to and from Ft Lauderdale, but the trunks in these cars are not luggage friendly. We ended up having much of it in the back with us. We arrived at Ft Lauderdale Airport around 10:10 AM and found the lines to be very long. I've never seen the place so mobbed. We made it home by 8pm, and started planning our next cruise! After thoughts: Positives: The Radiance class ships are more elegant and intimate than the Voyager Class The Radiance Class have the outside elevators with glass. In fact the whole ship is glass. The ship beautifully designed and is one of the easiest to get around especially if you have a cabin close to the centrum elevators. Staff was very friendly with excellent service. Food in the dining room is much improved over the last 2-3 years. This cruise, it was excellent. Great outdoor seating in the back of the windjammer. Drinks are very reasonable. I looked up my receipts from our Monarch cruise in 1995 and found the following: Beer then $2.50, now $3.00 Frozen drinks then $3.75, now $4.75 Whisky Sour then $3.25, now $4.25 Negatives: Too few hot tubs to handle a ship with 2100 passengers. The basketball court's bouncing balls can be heard in the windjammer below it and are loud. I think that to have a basketball court on any ship is a terrible waste of deck area that could be utilized for a larger percentage of the ship's passengers with something else. I know that this review was one of my longest. Hope you enjoyed though. I'd be glad to answer any questions I can. Email me at Cruisinfantic@aol.com Read Less
Sail Date February 2005
Well, let me start by stating that this was our first cruise. My parents have been encouraging to take a cruise vacation for years, particularly, they insisted, because we have young children. There was no shortage of activities and ... Read More
Well, let me start by stating that this was our first cruise. My parents have been encouraging to take a cruise vacation for years, particularly, they insisted, because we have young children. There was no shortage of activities and entertainment. Now, we take vacations about twice a year (once with the children, then my husband and I each take a "girls only" or "boys only" mini-getaway). These vacations have always been land vacations, but I think my husband and I would definitely consider cruising again in the future. The overall experience was excellent. Before the cruise, we stayed at the Marriott Biscayne Bay and the room in that hotel (adequate), was almost the same size as our cabin on the ship...I guess it was preparing us (remember there were five of us in one room!) for tighter quarters! Now, we had a balcony in our cabin (deck 9), and I would recommend that anyone with young children who nap in the afternoon, get a cabin with a balcony. While the children napped (which was every day because they were exhausted from all the kids' activities), we could enjoy a snack and a glass of wine on the balcony and enjoy the breeze and the view (the balcony is glass so even when sitting, you can enjoy the view). Now, in terms of the main dining room, the service was absolutely excellent. Our waiter, Nikolai, could NOT have performed any better. The family we met at our table cruise every year and even they insisted that he was the best waiter they'd ever had! The food was very good (not the best I've ever had, but hey, I knew that this was not a gourmet restaurant). But with the service of the wait staff, our overall dining room experience was excellent. The kid's club was impressive. We have 3 kids aged 4, 6, 8 and before the cruise we had hoped to take advantage of an hour here and there without the kids....well, we had to force the kids OUT of the kid's club....they LOVED it. We have used kids' clubs at various Caribbean resorts, and this club tops them all. My husband and I even had dinner by ourselves twice! What a wonderful break. The shore excursions we found to be expensive so we ventured off on our own. We did Coral World in St. Thomas. The cruise wanted $64 per person. We took a cab (for $8/adult and $5/child) plus the cab driver gave us a coupon for Coral World and we paid $15 admission to Coral World. So we paid $23/adult. Plus, you have in-out privileges and Coki beach is right next door to Coral World, so we went back-forth. The kids loved this excursion because they could see and touch sea-life, like starfish, sharks, etc. NOTE: bring sanitizer to the beach -- no soap in the beach washrooms, although there was some in Coral World washrooms. The entertainment was well, entertaining! We enjoyed everything about our cruise. If I had the chance to change anything about the experience, it would be to take a 10-day cruise. I think that Royal Caribbean does a nice job of catering to families with children (although we were definitely a lot younger than most other passengers). And all of the other passengers on the cruise were very friendly, and loved chatting with our girls! See ya on a future cruise! Read Less
Sail Date January 2005
Just returned from the January 30th sailing of the Radiance. This was my 2nd cruise, both with RCI (other was Sovereign in fall). Will try to keep this somewhat brief... Embarkation: No issues. Arrived at 2 and was on the ship and in ... Read More
Just returned from the January 30th sailing of the Radiance. This was my 2nd cruise, both with RCI (other was Sovereign in fall). Will try to keep this somewhat brief... Embarkation: No issues. Arrived at 2 and was on the ship and in the room by 2:45. Minor hiccup with computers entering the ship, but no worries. Stateroom: Again, no issues. They were working on a plumbing issue in another room down the hall when we arrived. For about an hour the toilets couldn't be flushed, but soon after, a worker arrived to ensure everything was functioning correctly. We never had another issue, but a letter was delivered to everyone later in the week about a plumbing problem resulting from some idiot flushing socks and towels into the system and clogging it. Enjoyed the balcony, but a bit cool and windy at times, but what do you expect ... you're on the ocean! Food: Outstanding ... yes, some dishes were better than others, but for the most part, my wife and I loved everything. Service was exceptional also. Desserts were to die for ... gained 8 pounds! Did partake of Portofino's on three occasions (two dinner, one lunch) and loved every minute of it! Alan, the manager was awesome and my wife made a great friend! Ports: First time Radiance had made Coco Cay in two months. It was a very nice island, and made for a relaxing day. St. Thomas was also beautiful and had a blast on the catamaran sail and snorkel excursion. Just did some shopping on St. Maarten and lounged about the mostly empty ship. Three sea days made for some quality relax time. Activities/Shows: There always seemed to be something going on. Even though we aren't art lovers we watched the art auctions and found them entertaining at least. Did play bingo four times ... never did win! But it was very fun and on the last day one lady won almost $7K. Did well in the casino and came out a couple hundred ahead there. We really didn't do the production shows, but did see all the comedians. Some were better than others, but all were entertaining. To wrap this up, the Radiance is a beautiful, well-maintained ship with great personnel! The wife and I are hoping to go about this time next year on a Western itinerary. Don't know if I'll make it 'til then without maybe a short-cruise fix! Any questions, feel free to email me at WyomingWolves@aol.com. Read Less
Sail Date January 2005
Below is a review of our 1/30/2005 Eastern Caribbean sailing on Radiance of the Seas. Embarkation - Grade A+. Smooth, Easy and Fast. We arrived around 1:00 p.m. and found virtually no line to check in. The only line was waiting to get ... Read More
Below is a review of our 1/30/2005 Eastern Caribbean sailing on Radiance of the Seas. Embarkation - Grade A+. Smooth, Easy and Fast. We arrived around 1:00 p.m. and found virtually no line to check in. The only line was waiting to get your Seapass scanned the first time, which was all of 5 minutes. Ship Overall -- Grade A+. This is the first time for us on a Radiance Class ship. Our previous experience has been one time on a Vision Class ship and a bunch of times on Voyager Class ships. Radiance is a beautiful ship. It is decorated very elegantly and warm with all the wood. I will break down my comments into several areas as follows: Our Cabin -- Grade A. We stayed in a Junior suite, cabin 1542. It is about midship on the starboard side. Very convenient to everything. The room is in great shape. We found the bed slightly stiff compared to home, but we adjusted. The pillows were the best we have had on any ship. The cabins was kept very spic and span by our cabin attendant, Aaron, who did a great job. A couple of notes about our room: The chair in our room was not very comfortable at all -- very stiff. The fridge comes loaded with drink and snacks. It has electronic sensors that charge you for the item when removed. We asked our cabin attendant to remove everything out of the fridge for us and he did with no problem. Centrum Area -- Grade A+. The Centrum area acts as the heart of the ship. There is a constant buzz of activity going on. Bands playing music, bars open, guests meeting, mingling and hanging out, special presentations being made such as cooking demonstrations and much more. This was nice to see. The Centrum is decorated very elegantly. The bottom is on deck 4, which hosts a bar, sitting area and guest relations. On one side is the main bank of elevators for the ship. All of them are glass elevators. Two of them face the Centrum with a great view of the ship. Then there are 4 of them that face the ocean with breathtaking views of the ocean. One side note about these elevators though. They are designed so narrow that the buttons were placed on the sidewall. This is a real problem because as people stand in the crowded elevator, they tend to lean up against the wall (and buttons) which creates many extra stops. Promenade -- Grade A. The main promenade (at least this is what I call it) hosts a good portion of the nightlife (other than the main theater). This is on deck 6 aft of the Centrum and hosts the Schooner Bar, Billiard Club and Colony Club. All are decorated very nicely and all offer great views outside. When you enter the Schooner Bar area, you go through a walkway that has a smell to it. Not sure what it was but my wife thinks it smells like beef jerky. It was not a bad smell, just different. Once in the Schooner Bar area there is ample seating at tables and chairs along with the bar and piano. This entire area is non smoking, which we liked. If you continue past the Schooner Bar area you get to the Billiard Club where the self leveling pool tables are. It was very cool to watch them. We played a game one night when it was a bit bumpy out and the balls did not move a bit. The table bit though. Go to take a shot and the table itself is moving up and down a good 12 inches or so. Continuing past the Billiard Club is the Colony Club. This area features a couple of bars, a stage, dance floor and in one area card tables and board games. This is a fun place to be at night. Windjammer -- Grade B. The Windjammer is elegantly decorated. For the most part it is well laid out. The food stations are broken down into several small sections with about 2 sections each having the same offerings. I am torn as to how well I like the setup. On one hand it makes lines look smaller. On the other hand it creates lots of traffic problems as people jump from station to station to see if there is something different or better. There is an outdoor section in the back that seems real nice. Unfortunately we did not check it out toward the end of the cruise and thus did not get to take advantage of it. The only real negative I can say about the Windjammer is that on the port side, the basketball court is directly above. It makes a lot of noise in the Windjammer. If you sit on that side, you will be greeted with a constant boom, boom, boom. There are supposed to be limited hours on the court above (e.g. closed before 9:00 a.m. and closed during main dinner hour at 6:00 p.m.) but we observed this problem numerous days at early hours and during dinner time. Pool Deck -- We did not spend any length of time at the main pool, however it seemed to be in great shape and adequate. The band played by the pool most days and they had most of the typical games such as the belly flop competition. Solarium -- The solarium is decorated very uniquely and is a very pleasant, relaxing place to be. We used the pool there one day and it was heated with fresh water. Yes, that right, fresh water. That's not a misprint. There is a cafe in the Solarium which is open in the afternoons with snacks. We found it to be convenient. One thing we did miss is on Voyager ships they have lounge chairs lined up by the windows in the Solarium. We find that a great place to relax in the afternoon with a great view. Radiance has tables and chairs here and all lounge chairs are around the pool. Main Theater -- The main theater is comfortable. Chairs have cupholders and some are designed as loveseats, which my wife likes. During our cruise, all the shows were packed and you had to arrive early to get a good seat. This has not always been true on other cruises we have taken so we were surprised. Viking Crown -- Up top on deck 13 is the Starquest nightclub in the Viking Crown. They have a cool bar area that rotates. We did not spend much time up here though so I do not know what the nightlife is like. Food -- Grade C. Food is the one area that has the most room for improvement. We did not have problems with service, just the food. That's not to say you can't get a good meal. Our observation is that quality is at times inconsistent and the other part is that a number of menu items either don't appeal to us or the taste just seems off to us. We eat out a lot and don't find food we don't like often so I have to assume it is just not us. Another notation has to do with late night snacks. The only thing open is the Seaview cafe. That's great if you want a meal, but it would be nice to have a pile of cookies or something else that guests can easily grab and go. That's one thing we really missed with having the cafe of the Voyager Class ships. Ports -- Grade A+. CocoCay We made the stop in CocoCay with calm seas. We have never been here and I must say seeing CocoCay from the ship was not impressive. Had I not had a Waverunner tour that day we may have stayed on the ship. Once we got onto CocoCay we were pleasantly surprised and loved it. Now we can't wait to go back. St. Thomas -- We did the island tour in St. Thomas through Godfrey. We learned about Godfrey from Cruise Critic and gave him a try (our first non-ship excursion). Godfrey was great. He picked us up promptly by the ship and greeting us with a sign that had our name on it. Godfrey then took us shopping downtown until noon when he picked everyone up for the island tour. I highly recommend Godfrey. He is very accommodating and knows how to treat his customers. St. Croix -- We made a stop in St. Croix from about 8:30 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. after we left St. Thomas to refuel. We did not get off the ship, but others did. They had buses set up to take people back and forth to town. I would guess that maybe a couple of hundred people got off. I never met anyone who went to town so I don't know if it was worth it. One note about the fuel stop. Guests are told about the fuel stop in the Compass for that day. It is explained that we will be stopping to refuel. There is not any explanation as to why and many guests questioned it. Questions were asked about it at both C&A parties and also at the ship's chat. It seems to me that quite a few guests were left with the impression that we made the stop to refuel mid cruise so we would not run out. Thus they felt that poor planning in Miami did not load enough fuel for the cruise. RCI might want to explain this a little more so not as many people get confused. St. Maarten -- In St. Maarten we did not take any tours or excursions. We simply took a taxi to town and went shopping. We found a few things of interest for our house but not much. Jewelry stores account for about 75% of the stores downtown. Throw in electronics and souvenir type items and that's 98% of them. It's hard to find anything else. That's too bad. If they cut the number of jewelry stores in half that would help everyone. St. Maarten is not alone. It is like this in all the towns. I just mention it here as this is where we looked the most at the shopping. Entertainment -- Overall Grade B. Day 1 -- There was a comedian which they called a visual comedian named Mickey O'Connor. He did a number of funny things while juggling and acting out certain things. My wife thought he was hilarious. I thought he was good, but just not my type of comedy. A little too "dumb funny" for me. Day 2 -- Tonight we had a comedian named Kelly Monteith. I would grade him a C on a grading scale. He had a number of parts that were funny but I never really connected like some comedians I have seen. Other events were the Captain's Reception, Battle of the Sexes and '70s Disco Fever. Day 3 -- Tonight was a show performed by the Royal Caribbean singers and dancers named "Piano Man." Supposedly this one is fairly new as we were told it came out in Sept when the current cast members came onboard. Both of us really liked this show and thought it was great. There are a couple of very good singers in this group also. The lead singer, Matt, is excellent and there are 2 girls who are also very good. There is one other guy singer but my opinion is up in arms on his talent. During this show he lip-synched it. Apparently he was sick and they played a tape over his voice. A show later in the week he did sing live and he was good at that performance, but not great. Other events tonight were Dancing through the Decades and the Quest. Day 4 -- Tonight there was a show which the comedy/magic of Levent. He was funny and I enjoyed it. Other events of the evening were the love and Marriage Show and the pool deck party at midnight. Day 5 -- Tonight was the second performance by the Royal Caribbean singers and dancers. The show was called "Welcome to our World." The cast did a great performance, but personally I did not care for the content of the show. The only other noteworthy event was Karaoke Idol, which we did not attend. We watched the dance band, Liza Hendrix, which is very good up until Karaoke started. Day 6 -- Tonight was a performance by Tony Tillman. He was excellent. Don't miss it. When the show first started I thought it was going to be terrible. I was like who the heck is this guy. He turned out to be great. In the top 5 of guest performers we have seen. Other events were family Karaoke and the Gala Buffet. Day 7 -- Tonight was the farewell show and comedian Karen Mills. She had a couple of funny bits but overall I did not think she was that great. Not much else this night except Karaoke finals. On Board Entertainers Caribbean Breeze -- Island music by the pool -- I thought they were ok, but not great. I bought their CD to try out and it jammed in our car CD player on the way home. It looked homemade so not sure if that had anything to do with it. Serenade Trio -- This trio played in the Centrum most nights. Very well liked by everyone. Liza Hendrix -- Classic dance hits. Played in Colony Club most nights. Very good and singer has great voice. Nathaniel Malijan -- Piano player in Schooner Bar. He drew a nice crown and kept all entertained. Probably not because of his singing talent but because he has fun doing it by changing words to be funny. Ship's Crew -- Overall Grade A+. The crew on this ship has to be the best we have encountered. With one or two exceptions, the entire crew is all smiling faces willing to help. You really get the sense that they have good camaraderie and moral, especially with groups like the dining room waiters. Our stateroom attendant has got to be one of the best we have had. Cruise Director -- The cruise director was Keith Williams. My overall impression of Keith is that I did not think he was that entertaining compared to some of the others I have seen. The entertainment on the ship overall was great and ran well. I believe he is responsible for coordinating all of that so I would say he runs that very well on the ship, just him in general I never really warmed up to. Captain -- The Captain this sailing was Darin Bowland. We met him at the Crown and Anchor Party and also saw him at the ship's chat. He is a young captain at 40 years old. He seems very personable and took the time to answer everyone's questions no matter how silly some are. Announcements -- I just want to say something about ship announcements. There are way too many. Not just this cruise, but on all the RCI cruises we have taken. Announcements such as the Captain's report, letting guests know when the ship cleared customs and maybe even a once a day announcement going through activities is ok with me. But that's it. All these bingo, shopping, art auction, pool activity and other announcements are totally unnecessary and a real annoyance. We have a Cruise Compass and if we want to go to an event we will. Last Evening of Cruise -- The last day and evening I noticed the ship was sailing full speed, 25+ knots. I looked at our positions and had calculated that we would be back way early. I was right, We were in Miami and docked by 2:00-2:30 a.m. There were a couple of trucks waiting for us near the aft of the ship. The next morning I found out it was an underwater repair team and when getting off the ship we saw them bring parts up out of the water. After we got home, a poster on Cruise Critic stated the next cruise was delayed until 2:00 a.m. due to the repairs. Not sure what the exact problem was but it did not affect speed. Debarkation -- We carried our own luggage off and were out by 7:15 or so. Immigration lines were long, but moved fast. We were in our car and leaving by 7:45. Summary -- Being our first Radiance class ship, it was a new experience. I must admit after the first day I thought we would get bored as there did not seem to be as many activities at night. However I was very wrong. Once you learn your way around and where you like to be, Radiance is a wonderful ship. We would not hesitate for one instant to go again. Read Less
Sail Date January 2005
Radiance of the Sea's Review! 12/4/2004 to 12/12/2004 First off let me begin by telling you a bit about us. I have cruised 3 times before and my boyfriend, this was his 1st cruise. Both of my other cruises were on Carnival Cruise ... Read More
Radiance of the Sea's Review! 12/4/2004 to 12/12/2004 First off let me begin by telling you a bit about us. I have cruised 3 times before and my boyfriend, this was his 1st cruise. Both of my other cruises were on Carnival Cruise Lines. Pre-cruise: We had an early flight with only about 20 people on the whole thing; we practically had the plane to ourselves. Now the flight from Detroit to Miami, that was a different story, the plane was overbooked and loud, the landing was rough and hard. But we lived through it. We flew Northwest Airlines, but over all I would fly them again. We stayed at the Sheraton Biscayne Bay Hotel. What a great hotel it is. We had a room overlooking the bay but not the ships. This was fine due to the fact it was still a great view. After we checked in we went to Bayside Market Place and ate lunch at Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. It was great. If you like shrimp then go eat here. It is a must. After lunch we walked around Bayside and did some shopping. We then went to Hard Rock Cafe and had some dessert. We then went back to the hotel to get some rest for the big day. We took a cab to the port and it cost about $11 not bad at all. Embarkation: This was a breeze. We got to the port at about 10:00 a.m. and we were having lunch in the Windjammer at 11:30 a.m. Lunch was very good. We were both very hungry. We walked around the ship until our cabin was ready. Cabin: We had cabin 7092 -- what a nice cabin. It has a VERY large balcony. I personally loved it. The only bad thing about it is that you can not look directly down into the water. Tons of storage space for luggage and a nice size room. It was bigger than I had expected. Now the bath room was tiny but it served its purpose well. I did hate the shower curtain it sticks to your tush. Our cabin was next to the elevators and we never heard them. It was nice to be so close to the elevators. Ship: All I can say is WOW. I had to pick my jaw up off the ground when I saw her beauty in person. Pictures do not do this ship justice. All the glass everywhere there was not a bad view from this ship. You can see the ocean wherever you are. I won't go into detail about the ship due to the fact that so many other reviews do. Cabin Stewards: Well I do think that the 2 that were taking care of my cabin needed to be trained a bit more. I asked for extra pillows on the 1st night and was told ok no problem; well I never got them so I asked again the next night and was told the same thing. So on the 3rd night I asked once more and I was told that they were out and that I should have asked sooner and that they were now out of extra pillows. Well I did ask sooner and never got them. So I went to guest relations and I made them aware and needless to say I had extra pillows that night. Then one day I asked for beach towels and I was told sure and 1 hour later I still had not gotten them so I went and found them and got them myself. Also they never changed the sheets on our bed they only made up the bed with the old sheets. Well needless to say after I went to guest relations again my sheets were changed. But other than those small things I did not have a problem with them. Food: Everything we ate was oh so very good. I miss it already. I think our best meal was the lobster. Our waiter and assistant waiter were the best. We had later seating which worked out great. I would do late seating again in a heartbeat. We ate at all the restaurants except the Solarium Pool and Chops. They were all great. Murder Mystery Dinner: This was so fun and well worth the extra money. The food was to die for and the service was great. If you go try to get seated with the charter named Madam Veluca. She was so funny and played the part so well. Only 75 people can attend and there is only one per cruise and it sells out very fast. So book it as soon as you get on the ship. Soda Card: The soda card came to $48.30 for an adult, but was well worth it for my boyfriend -- he drank at least 6 sodas a day and sometimes more. The child's soda package was less. This may not be worth it to some but it was well worth it for my boyfriend. Ports of Call: Coco Cay: It was a nice sunny day. No rain. This was a very nice relaxing beach day. We walked hand in hand down the beach. Shopped, ate and even went kayaking. We spent the whole day there. It seemed like there was a bit of work being done on the island, which I am thinking is still from the recent hurricanes. But it still did not take away from the beauty of the Island. St. Thomas: It rained off and on all day long, but that did not stop us. We went for a bit of shopping right at the pier. Then we went to Paradise Point for the view. It was a nice view but would have been better if it had not been raining. We then took an excursion though RCI to Buck Island. Now that was great. Only 6 of us from the whole ship went. We sailed out to the island that was about 3 miles from St. Thomas and jumped into the water from the sailboat. We snorkeled right above a sunken ship and some awesome coral formations. The sun did come out for this tour. We must have been holding our mouths right or something. On the way back we had snacks and a nice cold drink. It did rain on the way back to the ship but that did not put a damper on the great time we had. I would recommend this tour to anyone. St. Croix: We stopped here for fuel. Since we were only there for a few hours there were no tours here. But we got off the ship and shopped a bit. Now when they get this port completed and get it going this will be a nice stop during the day. I hope to visit here when it is done. Very nice people. They all welcomed us with open arms for the time we were there. St. Maarten: The day was great, sunny all day and no rain. We did the St. Maarten Sensations tour with lunch through RCI again. This time only 15 people went on this tour. We stated by boarding a nice bus and toured both the Dutch and the French sides of the island. We stopped on the French side for some shopping. Shopping is always good. We then headed to a beach called Guna Bay. We had the beach all to ourselves. It was on the Atlantic side of the ocean so the waves were great. This is a 1 mile long beach just breath taking! I wish I lived there. The lunch they served was so very good, I had to have seconds as did my boyfriend. After lunch and more time on the beach we headed back to the ship. After that My boyfriend and I did some more shopping on the Dutch side of the island. This was a great tour as well. I would recommend this tour as well. Very nice and relaxing. Sea Days (3 of them): These are the day that I loved the most. You could either do it all or do nothing at all. I seemed to be the one to do it all. I ended up earning enough ship shape dollars to earn a backpack so what does that tell you. I went to classes, I walked, I climbed the rock wall, and I played mini golf, I played darts, I went to the horse races, I played the game the Quest. I was very active. Now my boyfriend on the other hand maybe did 3 of those things, if that. But that's fine it was his vacation too. THE QUEST: Now this is a subject all to itself. This game is so very fun and funny. My boyfriend and I were on a team and we had a blast. Now if you don't know what the Quest is then I am not going to spoil it for you. But I am here to tell you it is not to be missed. To all of you who have played or seen it I am sure you would agree. Now me and my boyfriend were on team number 1 and we just happen to be on the team that won it all. So if you were there you saw us! Entertainment: This was great as well. All I can say is that the comedians were great. All the shows were great. It is amazing how the entertainers can learn so many different shows without messing up. Room Service: Only ordered it 2 times. Once with the Romance Package and once for a late night snack. The only complaint is that my milk that was with my Romance Breakfast was bad. It was like taking a big drink of Cottage Cheese. Needless to say I went to Guest Relations over this and I got a delivery of chocolate covered strawberries for the mess up. That was nice of them. Pool Areas: Very nice but there is the same old problem of the chair hogs. There are only 2 pools and 3 hot tubs on this ship. The outdoor pool has 2 hot tubs and the Solarium pool has only 1. The Solarium is very nice. No one under the age of 16 in allowed in which makes it quiet. It is themed like Africa with bird sounds and all. I just loved the big cat on the side of the pool. And all the pools but the kiddie's pool are open 24 hours a day except for cleaning. The pools are saltwater and the hot tubs are fresh water. Disembarkation: Very well run and very fast for this sort of thing. Not that fast is good when you really don't want to get off the ship. RCI has this process down to an art. Post Cruise Stay: We stayed at the Sheraton Biscayne Bay again. Once again very nice. We spent the day touring Coconut Grove and other parts of Miami. Our flight did not leave Miami on the 13th until 4 p.m. so on Monday we went to Bayside again to shop some more before our flight. We flew Northwest. Flights went very well. It was a shock on our bodies coming from 75 degree sunny weather to 30 degree snowy weather. I want to go back I want the warm. So as you can see, with a few minor flaws we had a great cruise and I all ready have another booked for Oct 2005 with RCI. I would not hesitate to recommend or sail with them again. They have everything down to an art. I will be posting photos so keep your eyes open. Sorry for the long review. I just wanted to share my wonderful cruise with everyone. Read Less
Sail Date December 2004
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. Embarkation: We arrived at the Port of ... Read More
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. Embarkation: 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. Food: 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. Ports: 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!! Disembarkation: 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.... Read Less
Sail Date December 2004
The good, the bad, and the ugly. Some notes to start: This was our 2nd cruise (1st on Royal). We traveled as part of a 15-person family group, ages from 3 to 73. Our experience includes my wife and I and our 3 year old twins. Overall, ... Read More
The good, the bad, and the ugly. Some notes to start: This was our 2nd cruise (1st on Royal). We traveled as part of a 15-person family group, ages from 3 to 73. Our experience includes my wife and I and our 3 year old twins. Overall, we had a great vacation, on a terrific ship with great service. There are plenty of other reviews about what the ship looks like and offers, so I will say that it is beautiful, and in general the service was great. Here are some specific notes from the cruise: The GOOD: check in was VERY easy. We had our twins in a stroller (for ease with all the carry ons), and everyone was very helpful. FOOD: Those who complain are nuts. Yes, sometimes the menu was difficult, but the waiters and kitchen are always ready to do what they can to make it right. We are not the easiest when it comes to dining -- my wife and I do not like sauces in general, and specifically no cream or heavy fats, no fried foods and no butter sauces ... yet we did fine in the main dining room. I would say the food overall is equal to a very good catering hall -- not 5 star, but better than can be expected when you think that they are feeding 1,500 at a time. (One exception -- New Year's Eve was very bad -- the crew was more interested in getting to their party then making and serving dinner...) Also of note was the Seaview Cafe -- my kids ate an early dinner there every night and loved the chicken, hot dogs, fries and fruit. Also in the good column -- we had in-room babysitting that was set up at guest relations on the first night...this worked out great! The babysitter (Selsus) showed up on time each night, well dressed, freshly showered, with a great disposition. Our kids were already in bed ready to fall asleep, but waited up to say hello and good night to him. We repeatedly checked in during the night at odd times, and each time found Selsus sitting in a chair next to the bed either reading or taking a light nap (which he asked us the first night if this was ok...we said fine as long as if the kids woke up he did as well...we never had a problem, and this freed us up for some great nights at the shows, casino, etc...). The BAD: The weather was bad the entire week. While not RCI's fault, we did feel that the Cruise Director did not address this well. RCI should have an alternative "rainy day" style schedule that they can use when a day at sea becomes a wash-out. This did not happen. Our stop in Labadee was canceled due to high winds, so we ended up with an extra (3rd!) day at sea. Instead of loading up on appropriate indoor activities (ice carving, extra shows, trivia contests, extra Bingo sessions, line dancing lessons, family movies in the movie theater, etc.) the feeling on board was "oh well" it is just a lost rainy day. We did not feel that this was done well. Also in the bad list was our experience with the kid's club. Our kids go to school full time and love these types of environments. (The more scheduled they are the better...) They tend to be very outgoing, well behaved and a whole lot of fun to be around. My daughter will try anything twice. My son however, usually needs 5 minutes to warm up to new environments...once comfortable, he is the life of the party (VERY funny). We know this and tried in a variety of ways to set the stage for him. However, the kids club personnel was VERY unwelcoming to him/us. First, we went the first night to try and get him comfortable with the space. While it was supposed to be the open house, we were told we could look around but not touch anything. When I opened a cabinet to see what activities they had (just to look) I was reprimanded very harshly in front of the kids -- to the point that my son wanted to know why I was being bad, and do only bad people come to this room. Then, my wife went to the side (out of earshot) to try and let the group leader know what to expect from him the next morning (that he would cry for 5 minutes and then stop, and have a great time) and was given the cold shoulder. When we came in in the morning to drop them off, they were never greeted. Instead, the group leader said to the other worker in the room, "Oh, here comes the kid that is going to be trouble." This was exactly what we were trying to avoid. With that he started to cry, and didn't want to stay and be "in trouble." After a couple of minutes he settled down, and we were getting ready to leave. As we got up he started to cry again. We told the group leader that we were leaving him there and would be right outside the door, to give him 5 minutes (we KNEW he would stop, and have fun...this is just what he does), and that if for some reason he was still unhappy that we would take him. However, we were told that there is a zero crying tolerance policy, and that we could not leave him, AND we could not stay in the room with him and calm him down. Thus, he did not stay in the kid's club at all the entire week. My daughter stayed the first morning and had a great time, but did not want to go back without her brother... FYI -- we heard stories like this from a LOT of parents around the ship. The bottom line is, if your child is not perfect right away (no grace period) they do not want them there. (It may make their job too hard...). I am trying not to be harsh here, as I know that there are a lot of kids on board and that they can not cater to one child, but 5 minutes of kindness would have worked wonders....This room was just full of bad attitudes. The UGLY: Debarkation was an embarrassment. It took them almost 3 hours to let us off the ship (10:45 a.m.), and then we went in to an overcrowded tent with no one from RCI around. The luggage was all over the place, no porters (my mother is in a wheelchair and my father needed help with her and the luggage), and then we first needed to get on a bus to take us back to where we had parked. The parking lot bus lines had no signs or directions, so those waiting to get to the airport couldn't find their lines ... just a complete mess. We did not get back and into our car till almost 11:30. A HORRIBLE way to end a very good vacation. RCI should be ashamed. Overall, I have pointed out some of the lowlights of our experience, however I want to leave you with a positive note. In spite of the kids club and debarkation, this was one of the best vacations that we have taken, and are likely to cruise again. (And RCI would still be a viable choice for us.) I would say that the ship can be compared to a 4-star resort property (Radisson, SunSpree, Marriott, etc.) ... not the Ritz-Carlton, but a whole lot better than Best Western. Read Less
Sail Date December 2004
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 ... Read More
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!! Read Less
Sail Date November 2004
We are first time cruisers along with another couple. The reaction? The four of us really want to cruise again and are planning the next one. Specific reviews: Embarkation: went smoothly. Amazing how they can move 2500 passengers so ... Read More
We are first time cruisers along with another couple. The reaction? The four of us really want to cruise again and are planning the next one. Specific reviews: Embarkation: went smoothly. Amazing how they can move 2500 passengers so quickly. Disembarkation also smooth. They have this down to a science. Ship: Beautiful ship; not the largest but holds 2500 passengers. Rooms were extremely clean; we loved our balcony. Small shower stall. Crew: absolutely friendly and we think we had the best wait staff at dinner - Sathi always had a smile on his face, told us stories, always had time to chat, and his recommendations for dinner were always right on. He brought us any food we wanted and in any quantity. Like he promised - we would be rolling out of the dinning room. At our request, he had the chef make curry for us one night, followed by chicken curry the next - this was in addition to our regular entrees. The cabin staff were great - always a surprise every night - they were experts in creating animals out of towels; one every night. Captain Kent is the singing captain and you can buy his CD. He actually is quite good. Food: more than satisfactory. The formal dinning room had the best food - be sure to heed the waiter's suggestions. Can't go wrong. Lobster tails (yes, we ordered 4 per couple) were fabulous. The prime rib was perfect. The Windjammer cafe was buffet style for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The food is quite all right and there was a lot of choice. Always plenty of fresh fruit available. Don't buy the soda package unless you have kids. Two special restaurants on board - Portofinos (Italian) and Chops (steaks). Managed to try Portofinos - definitely worth a try. Have to pay extra though. Entertainment: Live shows every night from stand-up comedy to a comedy-juggling act - we took in every show and it was worth it. Movies galore. The different lounges had different entertainers - Dancing Through the Decades had a '50s-'60s night; '70s-'80s night; Western Night; Karaoke night; and various game shows. Never bored. Santino and the Blakjax were fabulous. There was lots of dancing and disco. Other activities: golf simulator; mini-putt; spa; rock climbing; always the pool but we religiously went to the gym to work out, hitting the steam room after. Self leveling pool tables - very apparent in rough seas. Tour of the bridge is a must. The crew were very willing to answer all questions and show us around. Casino was open every night for those wanting to gamble. The sports bar - sports on tv of course. Art auction - some very nice pieces available. Limited selection at the duty free stores, but the prices were good. Stops: Coco Cay was first stop, but rough seas scuttled the day. St. Thomas, USVI, is a shopping haven - cheap deals on jewelry and liquor. Worth to take a tour of the country. Slight rain dampened the outing. St. Maarten was next stop - unfortunate to arrive on a national holiday so there was limited shopping. Took a taxi to Orient Beach (French side) for a day; had the most wonderful lunch at Waikiki Beach cafe. Try the seafood - absolutely fresh, seasoned and cooked to perfection. Next stop was to be Nassau but the captain decided on a different route due to very rough seas (yes, many people were seasick) and therefore we did not make it to Nassau. There were rumbles, but Captain Kent did the right thing. Overall, a great cruise but less than perfect due to some rough seas. Arrival at St. Maarten on a national holiday but perhaps fortunate since we had a fantastic meal at Orient Beach. Read Less
Sail Date November 2004
Radiance of the Seas Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.2
Dining 4.0 4.0
Entertainment 4.0 3.7
Public Rooms 4.0 4.3
Fitness Recreation 4.5 4.1
Family 4.0 4.1
Shore Excursion 3.5 3.8
Enrichment 2.0 3.5
Service 4.5 4.4
Value For Money 4.5 3.8
Rates N/A 4.3

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