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33 Royal Caribbean British Columbia Cruise Reviews

This was a girlfriend's cruise. We all live in or near Seattle and we're celebrating our friend's 70th birthday. What I liked about the cruise/cruise ship: *The public ship areas were pretty and well-maintained. ... Read More
This was a girlfriend's cruise. We all live in or near Seattle and we're celebrating our friend's 70th birthday. What I liked about the cruise/cruise ship: *The public ship areas were pretty and well-maintained. *We liked the disco dance party on the first night and watching Karaoke on the 2nd night. On the 3rd night we saw the magician--he was funny and entertaining. On the last day, we saw the ice show (well done!) and the headliner comedian/impressionist who was awesome! *My shower was awesome. Great water pressure. *I really liked the interactive ship screens that told you a) what was going on right then, and b) how to get where you were going. *Our main dining room waiter and helper were awesome. Shout out to Desmond & Ashook! *We also had a great bartender in the Viking Lounge. Sadly I didn't catch his name. *Archee the photographer was very engaging. He made us feel special and he really captured us having a fun time! Destinations were okay; we picked this cruise because it left out of SEATTLE and was only for four days. We did not pick it for the destinations or the excursions. That being said, the Canadians were lovely. Very warm and welcoming! What I didn't like about the cruise/cruise ship: **Our stateroom was at the end of a hallway (no problem there) but our room smelled like dirty linens. They were skimpy on the quantity of towels and the towel quality was reminiscent of a low end motel. The towels looked like like carwash towels; they were beat up. The drawers were dirty and needed to be wiped down or cleaned up. **The food quality was poor. I really don't know how so much food could be so bland and tasteless. The free cookies, pastries, sandwiches, and wraps (available mid ship) were horrible. The free lemonade was so watered down it was un-drinkable. **Main dining room food: bland, tasteless and so lacking in imagination. I felt like I was eating at an old folks home. We had better food and service on shore in town. **We had "anytime dining". It's a misnomer. You can only dine "anytime" if there is room available. **The crew, overall, was not very friendly. From the first waiter that took our drink order, to others we encountered, they seemed to be disinterested. We learned that they had just come from Australia on a 20+ day cruise. I think they were burnt out or something. There was no energy on the ship. A lot of the staff seemed robotic. Over all our cruise time, we only had 4 memorable crew members. That's pretty sad. Having just sailed (March 2016) on another cruise line, I was expecting equal treatment from RCL and was sadly disappointed. Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
My DD was turning 21 and she loves to cruise, so I decided to book a cruise to celebrate. I had only been on Royal once in 2000. I did not care for Royal then, but I kept hearing good things about Royal and I liked the Explorer’s ... Read More
My DD was turning 21 and she loves to cruise, so I decided to book a cruise to celebrate. I had only been on Royal once in 2000. I did not care for Royal then, but I kept hearing good things about Royal and I liked the Explorer’s itinerary, so I decided to book. We have only stayed in a suite once on NCL and we were spoiled. I decided to book a suite with Royal even though I knew the perks were nothing like NCL. We arrived at the Seattle port around 11 am and quickly went through security. We then found ourselves in a line for suite guest to check in. The line was not nearly as long as the other lines, but it was still long. Once it was our turn to check in and get our sea pass cards, there was a note attached to my sea pass card that stated we were invited to a “lite lunch” at Dizzy lounge to wait for our suite to become available. As soon as we got on the ship, we immediately went to Dizzy’s lounge for our “lite lunch” all to find an empty lounge. There was a staff member standing there and I asked her about it and she had no idea what I was talking about. I showed her the note and she tells me that it does not start until 1:30. We were hungry and decided to head to the Windjammer since nothing else was open. What we saw next, I never imagined would happen. The elevator arrived to deck 11 and the door open, to our surprise that is where the line ended to get into the Windjammer. We decided to go eat at the Café Promenade, but when we got there, it was closed. We went back to the Windjammer and waited in line. After waiting about 20 minutes, I sent my daughter back down to the Café to see if it were open and it was not. We waited an hour to get into the Windjammer. As if waiting an hour was not bad enough, once we finally got to the food, the only food they were serving were hamburgers, hot dogs, and French fries. There wasn’t even cheese. Dessert was JELLO! My daughter looked at me and asked if it was too late to get off the ship! It was very clear that they had run out of food. After our wonderful lunch….NOT, we went back to Dizzy lounge and inside the Diamond lounge and there still was no “lite lunch”. We then went to check out our suite. We ran into our cabin attendant Ravi and he introduced himself to us. We saw there was no fruit basket and we asked Ravi about it and he told us that yes, they had run out of food and were in the process of restocking and that our fruit should arrive later. The suite was nice and what I had expected. Lots of storage which was great. We had the 5:30 traditional dining and we enjoyed having the same wait staff nightly. We had Rosemarie and Charlston and they were wonderful. The food in the MDR was good and we felt was better than NCL. We did not try any specialty restaurants mainly because we wanted to see if we would enjoy the MDR food and for the most part we did. Being in a suite we were able to have breakfast in Chops and the food was typical cruise breakfast food. The biggest disappointment is that the only non paid food options for lunch is the buffet or Café Promenade. The buffet was not very appealing. The food choices were always the same and nothing looked good. They had pasta sitting out but it looked over cooked and soggy. Never tried it, so I don’t know if it was any good. The only day we ate lunch at Windjammer is on the first day. We always went to see if the choices got better, but never did. We ate lunch everyday at Café Promenade and the sandwiches were okay. We have cruised on NCL numerous times and have always enjoyed their shows. Every night we went to a show on Royal and only lasted 15 minutes before we would leave. I feel like the shows were for the older crowd and not our style. Other’s seemed to have enjoyed the shows, so I guess it just depends on what you like. I prepurchased voom for 1 device and it was not worth the price I paid. It rarely worked and we would lose connectivity more often than it worked. The staff on the Explorer were WONDERFUL and we never had to wait for drinks at the bar. We really wanted to love Royal, but we didn’t. I know I would never spend the money on a suite with Royal again. I may cruise on Royal again if it was a great deal, but I really doubt it. Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
This was our 4th cruise from this port with this destination but the first on Royal Caribbean from this port, second on Royal Caribbean total. The embarkation was standard, but as we boarded we went to a bar to buy a couple of beers to ... Read More
This was our 4th cruise from this port with this destination but the first on Royal Caribbean from this port, second on Royal Caribbean total. The embarkation was standard, but as we boarded we went to a bar to buy a couple of beers to send us off, and we were told it was a "Specialty Bar". no beer. Interesting. We had a cabin on the 11th deck with balcony and we highly recommend it, the balcony dividers opened up to other s if you had a friend or family next door which we did which was very cool. We bought the drink pass for $184 @ person and definitely had it pay for itself. Right on our deck was the pool area and 3-4 bars. Since we had smokers with us we hung out at the upper level pool bar and played cards, drank, and watched all that was going on. This part was awesome. The food was less than average. The buffet(Windjammer) was average at best. We never went the the Main Dining rooms so I cant comment, the Cafe(only other free eats) was always busy for snack food because it was the only other eats. Johnny Rockets($6.95 per person) once was good, second time we walked out as the service wasnt even able to meet anyones needs, just downright awful, they screwed up everything and couldnt make it right, awful. So lack of food was an issue, and room service, if you could get them to answer the phone was no better, small portions and sometimes they would just leave an item out because they were to busy, so they said. The activities were good, we played mini-golf, shuffleboard,some trivia games, basketball, all good. The theater shows were great. Overall we enjoyed ourselves very much and because of convinence we will look at going again, but I would look at other cruise lines first. A fellow passenger commented to us that they had been on numerous Royal Caribbean cruises and this was by far the most unorganized one ever. That seemed to sum it up. Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
I agree with some of the other reviewers regarding this particular cruise. I felt like we were the "leftover" cruisers. This ship had come from the South Pacific/Australia, and was gearing up for the Alaska cruise season. RCI ... Read More
I agree with some of the other reviewers regarding this particular cruise. I felt like we were the "leftover" cruisers. This ship had come from the South Pacific/Australia, and was gearing up for the Alaska cruise season. RCI was trying to fill a five-day gap and so they created this special cruise. First the good stuff: dining in the dining room was great. We were fortunate enough to get a set dining time (late seating), so we didn't have to wait in the long lines that the other guests did who were unable to get assigned dining times. Our waiters were terrific - very friendly, personable, and got us everything we asked for. The odd thing was that there were five of us, but we were seated at a table for ten. We never learned whether there were five other guests assigned to that table, or if they just needed to use the larger table. The shows were good too. Good, clean entertainment - nothing we had to be concerned that our teenage kids were hearing. And the ice show was truly outstanding. On the negative side - as others have said, the Windjammer Cafe was way too crowded and the food selections were quite sparse. No fresh fish except once, and that was just a few pieces of cod. No matter what time of day we went, they were out of the good stuff. Lots of jello and not much for nice desserts. And there were way too many passengers for the size of the cafe. We always had to wait for a table. And we often had to get our own drinks because the attendants were overwhelmed trying to get the tables cleared for the guests who were waiting to sit down. Our cabins were nice and our cabin attendants were great. Very efficient and we never had to ask for anything. We had a balcony room, but we were on a lower deck where the balconies were sort of closed in. We didn't really like that too much. The beds weren't as comfortable as we would have liked - mattresses were wearing down and the pillow were flat. I think we were in a part of the ship that hadn't yet been renovated. As far as the itinerary goes - Victoria was nice and we enjoyed Butchart Gardens. Nanaimo did not have much to offer, but we hope they are able to build up their cruise guest amenities. They were very welcoming to the passengers. Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
My husband and I have taken over 15 cruises so this was not a first time experience. First, the embarking the Radiance of the Seas at Canada Place was a nightmare. Three ships were sailing from the port on the same day so the shuttles ... Read More
My husband and I have taken over 15 cruises so this was not a first time experience. First, the embarking the Radiance of the Seas at Canada Place was a nightmare. Three ships were sailing from the port on the same day so the shuttles could not park in their usual places. My husband walks with a cane and needed wheelchair assistance, but all the chairs were in use. We were told that we would have to wait 45 minutes to an hour for help. We decided to walk which was over a quarter of a mile up and down stairs and pushing past huge lines of people. We finally got on board and headed for our cabin. The cabin was roomy, clean and had lots of storage space in the closet and drawers. The shower was small with only a flimsy shower curtain. Each time we showered, the water would run onto the floor. Our cabin steward, Hamden, was wonderful. He was pleasant, courteous, and kept our room spotless without intruding on our privacy. The food: this was a real disappointment. RC has definitely gone "on the cheap". We ate in the Windjammer most meals, and the food was tasteless and below par. Everything was made into a gloppy casserole with some kind of gravy. The chicken was dry and tasteless, and the pizza tasted like cardboard. We wondered who came up with the idea of a Hot Dog Grill area instead of cooking fresh hamburgers and chicken like other cruise lines. We guessed that hot dogs are cheap. The hamburgers were precooked and left in a tin for hours instead of being freshly grilled. RC should drop the Hot Dog area and install a hamburger station. One good area was the Cafe which served fresh, make your own salads. We started going there for lunch each day since it was the best meal we had. RC offers nothing special for its guests - no lotions, individual shampoo, or conditioner. They even have dropped the nightly candy on your pillow! We realized that if we wanted to eat a truly good meal, we would have to go to one of the "specialty" restaurants which are advertised all over the ship. Guests should be able to get a good meal without having to pay an extra $20-30 per person. RC costs more than many other lines, but gives less. We sailed with RC many years ago and decided to give them another try - what a differenced! Profit seems to have trumped giving good quality. We must add that the staff was very pleasant and friendly and the service was always with a smile. This made up for a lot of deficiencies. Entertainment was good overall. The singers and dancers were energetic and the shows were well choreographed. The special guest entertainers were also very entertaining. Overall, we will go back to Princess or Celebrity when cruising again. Read Less
Sail Date September 2013
First, we had wonderful weather throughout the entire trip, so lucky!!! Also experienced the pre-cruise tour through Royal Caribbean. I was solo, so paid double for the whole experience. Tour hotels, I was placed in parking lot views at ... Read More
First, we had wonderful weather throughout the entire trip, so lucky!!! Also experienced the pre-cruise tour through Royal Caribbean. I was solo, so paid double for the whole experience. Tour hotels, I was placed in parking lot views at both the McKinley Village Lodge and The Talkeetna Alaskan Lodge. I went straight to the front desk at McKinley, and nicely asked if there were any river front rooms available. Dear Ricky immediately obliged me and moved my bags. I spent the rest of the day in heaven, right in front of the river, loving that view! Thanks Ricky! At the Talkeetna Alaskan Lodge, after seeing the parking lot room, I went to the front desk and asked about a Denali range view, such as my fellow travelers were given, only to be told there were rooms available, and I could have one for $100 upcharge. Rather insulting, since I was being charged same as a couple on this trip. Eventually, it was worked out, and the $100 upcharge was waived. So, then, I was able to love the view of the entire Denali range, clear as a bell, incredible!!! Otherwise, the land tour was really great, my favorite part of the trip, really. On the ship... This was the second cruise of the season for Radiance. Many of the employees didn't really know what they were talking about. First night we ate at Park Cafe, as we were told Cascades was closed. Incorrect information. Breakfasts in dining room, just ok, rancid bacon one day, food never actually hot, service indifferent. Dinners were very good, and we ate in Cascades, main dining room, every night after the first mis-direction. Really enjoyed our evening waiters, Norberto and Ariel. Really worked hard for us, great magic tricks, Norberto! My cabin was 9074. Very nice with a fantastic view of the most beautiful scenery! I would have that cabin again, if I were ever to go on Royal Caribbean again, which I won't. I would get my coffee room service every morning, WONDERFUL!!! I would sit out on my balcony bundled in jacket and socks over jammies and watch the beautiful world go by!Room service for coffee was wonderful! The only really royal feeling I got! I had a good room attendant, Rosli, who kept my room neat, so did I, and made several different towel animals, which I liked very much. The bathroom was tiny, tiny! size of a small rv head, really, and smelled like any little boat head. Having owned several sail boats, it reminded me of old times. HINT, get some lysol before you board, and keep it in the head, this helps a little. Now, here is where I notice all the little corners being cut by RC. The only toiletry in the whole cabin was made in China bar soap in the head. What is Royal about that! Glad I had already read this, and brought my own. Also, in the buffet, cheap, tasteless, olive oil and balsamic vinegar! Try something else. Once the norovirus hit, everything changed on the ship. To use the buffet, all employees were there to serve you from plastic gloved hands, many of these employees had never served before, it was an all-call to action! I have been taking probiotics for a couple of years, now, and suggest it for anyone thinking of cruising. Although I got it, I only had mild symptoms for a day. I will always believe it was food poisoning from the rancid bacon. Everyone who reported their case were isolated for a day. I've read that it takes longer than that to become free from being contagious. Most of us didn't report, and just dealt with it. We were told constantly to wash our hands (with the cheap chinese bar soap?) Which was a good reminder for some, I guess. Mine became raw from all the washing, but was more than happy to comply! Went to several shows, the Motown show was really very good, the Showman piano player was also very good. The other one a review medley sort of thing was lousy. Enjoyed listening to Rosario strings very much. They are two fellows, one on acoustic guitar, the other a violin. They play some classical and some music from musicals you may have seen. In the Schooner lounge, in the evenings. Nice. I felt very, very lucky not to have smokers near me, as RC allows smoking on balconies. That was very worrisome for me, and was a great relief to have nice, fresh air! Oh, my tracfone worked clearly all over Alaska, at every hotel on land, in all the ports, and on the ship at port, just not out to sea. All the hotels had wifi, and it was usually free, if not in all rooms, in all lobbies. It was easy to stay in contact with my elderly parents, until Canada. My phone no longer worked in Canada, and had to rely on e-mail. I just loved Alaska, and will probably go back, but will try a different cruise line, for sure. Read Less
Sail Date June 2013
This describes our 11 night cruise on the Rhapsody of the Seas on April 30 to May 11th. We stayed in stateroom 8062, a mini-suite, with a great attendant Manuel. Embarkation in Honolulu was quick and painless. We were in the Windjammer ... Read More
This describes our 11 night cruise on the Rhapsody of the Seas on April 30 to May 11th. We stayed in stateroom 8062, a mini-suite, with a great attendant Manuel. Embarkation in Honolulu was quick and painless. We were in the Windjammer Cafe buffet at 11:30 having lunch. Great lunch spread! Easy drill on departing cruise day May 1st. 82 degrees and sunny in Honolulu. Ship: this mid-size ship is beautiful and grand, (750 employees) several lounges, restaurants, beautiful theater, pools, hot tubs ( which were open late- GREAT). It is very well maintained, immaculate, staff cleaning at all times. Stateroom: lovely and spacious, with large bathroom and adequate storage. We were 3 adults in this room and my daughter slept on the sofa bed, alway made up for her in the evening, along with towel art. Beds were very comfortable. We loved our suite. Dining: We had booked Our time dining (having to prepay gratuities). Ok, no problem. But, we didn't know we had to go reserve our dining time upon boarding. So, when we went for dinner, everything was booked till 7:30. Too late for us, considering we wanted to attend the 9:00pm show. Therefore on a few evenings, we ate in the Windjammer which did not open before 6;30pm. What is That? The lesson is: If you book Your Time Dining, Go see the Maitre D, after boarding and reserve your favorite time right away, OR book your favorite time when you book your cruise (months in advance even). Enough said about that. The highlight of our dining experience was with Maria, the hostess. Such a lovely, bubbly lady. RC is lucky to have her at this post. She is a true gem!!! Another point to be made: After 9pm there was hardly nowhere to eat, only a cafe serving sandwiches and pasta salads and cakes. Also, Windjammer was closed between 3pm and 6:30pm. Where do you eat when returning ship from port? RC should re-evaluate their dining venues and times. It did not bother us too much but others in our party, younger crowd like to have good dining options available at all times of day. Food:We thought the food was very good to average depending on the venue. The windjammer buffet for breakfast was plentiful with several options: fruits, eggs, bacon, pancakes etc.... I didn't eat at the buffet for lunch but I hear there was quite a spread and large variety of items fit for all. But for dinner it was sometimes hit/miss-limited selection, tasteless at times. Food in the main dining room was always very good, the times we did actually eat there. While the menu serves 3 courses (appetizers, entree, dessert), you could order whatever you wished ( appetizer, soup, and salad, entree, dessert). The waiters always accommodated our requests. The variety of entrees was very good-lamb, coq au vin, chicken, beef (filet mignon), fish, veal, vegetarian, pasta etc... Desserts were fabulous. We ate at 2 of the specialy restaurants: Italian and Japanese: both very good food and service but with a price. We prefered the Italian venue. Entertainment: We loved our cruise director Casey, very funny, hard-working, alway visible, organizing all sorts of activites along with his staff. The cruise orchestra was amazingly talented but was not seen or heard nearly enough. However, there were alway many activities to entertain or keep guests busy: trivia, lectures, games, arts and crafts etc.... The ship singers and dancers were talented, energetic and hard working and put on very good shows. But again, they were not used enough to help entertain guests during the days, although it may have been difficult to motivate the crowd ( quite older 60 yrs and up). The pool group Kool Vibes were OK at first but annoying after 2nd day, way too repetitive. The group New Version were a welcome relief for the next few days, more up -beat tunes. Jim Brookhart, in the Schooner Bar was a favorite. Pools/Hot tubs: 2 pools, one indoor for cooler days ( 5 days at sea from Hawai to Vancouver were cool/cold, hence everyone headed for the indoor pool.) Quite buzy in there. We opted to stay inside in lounges/ activities or hot tubs. Enjoyed the hot tubs but the jets were not strong enough. They were open late though, which is a plus. Overall experience: We sooo enjoyed this cruise. Service/Staff: Fantastic service from every member of crew, and alway with care and a smile. RC is to be commended for its fantastic staff providing excellent care to its guests. Captain Rob chatted with us every day at noon, with a great sense of humour. One day, Service Desk called to say they needed to to maintenance in our room. They gave us a complimentary entry to the Italian specialty, courtesy of RC for our inconvenience. How lovely of them. Very appreciated. Ports: Honolulu: loved this city, beautiful scenery, mountains, rainbows, Waikiki beach. We did a long stroll in the city and did a dive with North Shore Shark Adventure. Great exciting fun. Lahaina Maui: Favorite Port, Just beautiful. Amzazing scenery. Rented a car and drove around the island and stopped for shopping downtown. Stopped at a public beach for swimming. Saw giant turtles. Great day. Hilo, Big Island: Did a Helicopter Tour over Volcanoes,(50 minutes) just amazing to see lava flowing, and also great waterfalls. Rented a car to visit more waterfalls. Great port. Debarkation: Very long and delayed, There were 2 ships at port in Vancouver. Long custom lines. Such is travelling!! The only area where I would rate it 3.5 is the My Time Dining Experience, but overall the entire vacation was a strong 4* of 5 WE LOVED OUR CRUISE !! Thank you RCCL for an amazing vacation. Read Less
Sail Date April 2012
What a surprise to find some 1100 Canadians, 200 Aussies, and 600 (U.S.) Americans on board in Honolulu for a 10 day trip through the islands on to Vancouver BC. The weather was cooperative for the most part. There was a rocky period in ... Read More
What a surprise to find some 1100 Canadians, 200 Aussies, and 600 (U.S.) Americans on board in Honolulu for a 10 day trip through the islands on to Vancouver BC. The weather was cooperative for the most part. There was a rocky period in Lahaina, when the tender had to cease operating for 2 hours because of rough seas. The ship turned around in an attempt to allow smoother boarding. Overall, while the tender is a time eater, it went as smooth as could be expected. My husband and I had a inside cabin forward, and we certainly felt it our first day out of Hilo. We were confined to quarters for one day. After that, it was much better. The company was great...we were assigned to a table of six, and so met two other couples. Other folks we met at mealtimes, various classes, Wii contests were fun. Mealtimes were a pleasure...we used the dining room to the max...why schlep your plate through the buffet and hunt for a table? Service was impeccable...the dining staff hustle their buns! Housekeeping did a top notch job, and when we asked that the extraneous decorative pillows be left off the bed, we didn't see them (the pillows) again. We did our own walking tour of Lahaina, and took the shuttle to Kanaapali. In Kona, we walked to a recommended fabric store and were not disappointed. The nighttime view of the volcano was a highlight...it looked like a chain of beach bonfires with showers of sparks from time to time and steam where the lava met the ocean. Spectacular! In Hilo, we arranged a tour with Ricky of rickystours@yahoo.com. We met 2 other couples on the ship who were interested in going together, so for $50p/p, we had a 6+ hour treat. Ricky is a gentleman who has been running tours for 17 years. He was once a volunteer at Volcano National park, and knows the ins and outs of the park. He took us to viewpoints with the best views (and fewest people) and recommended spots to take photos. Being in a smaller group gave us opportunities to use our time to best advantage. Other included sites were the Mac Nut farm, a gorgeous orchid farm, lava tube, Rainbow Falls. When some of the ladies asked for some time at Macy's dept. store, Ricky gave extra time to accommodate their wishes. What a guy! Highly recommend using his services. One complaint was the lack of internet due to satellite problems. Folks demanded sports scores! We were on vacation and didn't mind. Entry to Vancouver under Lion's Gate bridge was another Kodak moment. Vancouver's skyline has changed in the ten years since we visited. Good or bad, it's striking! Entertainment: Marty Allen is a gas, the Royal Caribbean cast is great! Read Less
Sail Date April 2010
We have always wanted to try a Promenade room, and being that this was a low budget cruise, they all are, but be finally tried it and stuck with it; Getting to the just of this trip. We booked a 7 night cruise to the Mexican Riviera ... Read More
We have always wanted to try a Promenade room, and being that this was a low budget cruise, they all are, but be finally tried it and stuck with it; Getting to the just of this trip. We booked a 7 night cruise to the Mexican Riviera but the Swine Flu halted that one. RCCL was actually better to us than the cruises before and after us. They allowed us to cancel without penalty, or take a $250 OBC + a $250 FCC on our next Mex Riv cruise. Unfortunately for RCCL, they had to drop the room prices so drastically by giving Senior or Residency rates that we actually were above to save more than $500 by asking for a new rate. We already had a large OBC so we were in good shape. Packing was our only problem. Gone were the shorts and on came the sweaters. We love the Mariner and this trip was no different. We were lucky enough to have Captain Johnny and Cruise Director Ken Rush on this cruise. Although the weather was cold the first 5 days, we still had a great time doing all the indoor things with the many friends we had made through the Mix and Mingle group we chatted with on the CC boards. Our group did a cabin crawl, a pub crawl along with a poker run, we had a pre boarding party at a nice land Restaurant in LA, we had a "get leid" party in Schooner's before the Muster and a nice Sail away party at the Sky Bar. We also had one great "Slot Pull" that had half the casino rooting for us. We doubled our money - that's $9 the hard way. The food as always was great. We enjoyed breakfast, although a little more crowded than usual due to cool weather, in the Windjammer. We lunch and dinner every day in the dining room. We even cut our excursions short so we don't miss our early dinner time. I love to order a side of the daily pasta with marinara sauce with each dinner. I watched a couple of our table mates, all Cruise Critic M&M pals, order all appetizer dinners on one nite. Our PR room was a lot smaller than I was ready for, being we had balcony rooms in the past. I loved the window seat and view of the promenade but having the bed in the middle of this room made it cramped. All in all, it was still a good value cabin for the money we spent and I'd do it again if I was on limited funds... especially if I had a warm weather destination. The PR became tight mostly because we spent more time in it due to unavailablity (or undesirability) of the pool area for lounging... even the library was full the first 5 days while sailing. Now, 5/6 months before this cruise we cruised the Mariner out of Canaveral (nice port) and so we saw all the same RCCL shows we had before. But, we loved the shows which seemed to change based on the fact that we had Ken and now Drew this time (Drew is a very good Cruise Director, too.) The booked entertainers were different and that was enough to make the cruise different, not that it had to be. We love meeting new friends and enjoying a nice time on board, dancing and listening to the music, relaxing and eating (IMHO) fine food. We didn't like having to go to the COLD Northwest but we still loved being onboard this ship.. she is glorious regardless of the destination. Astoria, Oregon: RCCL and Astoria were not ready for this ship. One gang plank in the middle of the ship. It took hours to get everyone off. They had a nice little flea market just off ship. We disembarked last, did the flea market in the cold and rain and jumped back on before the lines to re-board got long. We watched those lines get long as we dined. I'm betting this was a nice pier, too. Read Less
Sail Date August 2009
Embarkation:  It was fairly easy and the RC staff was friendly and very efficient.  We arrived at 12:00 PM and were on board by 12:45 PM.  Luggage arrived promptly to our cabin around 5:30 PM.Cabin:  Normally, we stay in a suite (our ... Read More
Embarkation:  It was fairly easy and the RC staff was friendly and very efficient.  We arrived at 12:00 PM and were on board by 12:45 PM.  Luggage arrived promptly to our cabin around 5:30 PM.Cabin:  Normally, we stay in a suite (our last RC cabin was the Royal Suite, complete with a baby grand piano!), but this time, we were doing a last minute, 'cheapie' cruise and grabbed an inside cabin with a window overlooking the royal promenade ($481 per person, how could we go wrong?!).  The cabin, even though it was small, was well laid out.  Kudo's to RC for no shower curtain!  The shower doors are a nice touch!  The linens on the bed were nice and soft.  The old style, non flat screen TV should be replaced.  The stateroom attendant, Clova, was magnificent!  She was even kind enough to clean out our mini-bar fridge so we could store the bottles of water in there, that we had brought on board (shh!) in our checked luggage.   I was worried that the cabin might be a bit noisy due to the parades and bars on the royal promenade, but that was absolutely not the case.  We had no trouble at all sleeping in!  This cabin was a great deal for the money!   Itinerary:  Normally, this cruise was scheduled to go to Mexico.  Since we live in San Diego, 30 minutes from the Mexico border, there is NO way we would ever travel to Mexico; especially knowing all the turmoil that is going on there currently (dh is a SDPD officer and hears all the frightening stories!).  We were thrilled when RC said they were switching the itinerary to the Pacific Northwest (due to Swine Flu).  We immediately jumped on the deal and so did several of our friends!  Los Angeles: Embarkation was a breeze!  We showed up at noon and were on the boat by 12:45.    San Francisco:  What a lovely time it is to sail under the Golden Gate Bridge!  If you ever get the chance to do this, do NOT miss it!  Literally, the ship's radar ball clears the bridge by only 10 feet!  We did the Alcatraz Tour and it was fabulous.  My mom really enjoyed seeing the famous "Rock".   Victoria, BC:  RC's excursion desk really let us down on this one.  We purchased a night time Butchart Gardens to see the largest low voltage landscaping lighting installation in North America... Unfortunately, our tour ended at 8:30 PM and sunset did not occur until 9:30 PM.  As per usual, the shore excursion desk team bordered on rude and insolent and would not do anything to make it right.  We still LOVED our time in BC and would go back again and again!  Why are shore excursion desk employees usually the surliest staff members?   Activities on board:  Well, the activities seemed to really have been trimmed back.  I found it odd that the Captain's Book Signing (and yes, you were expected to purchase his book) was considered an 'activity'.  Also, the puffy eye symposium, fighting the female fat cell, and other various gimmicks all designed to sell you something, were border line insulting as 'activities.   The movies being shown in the screening room were simply awful.  They were movies that we had never heard of.  It was almost as if the cruise director picked them up at the dollar store in the clearance bin!  Also, the TV selections for entertainment in our cabin were pretty bad.  Fox news only had reception for 1/3 of the voyage and other than that, there were 2 border line PORN type programs on about Hugh Hefner and all of his Playboy bunnies and some program about South American models and their love interests.  Both were completely inappropriate for a family style cruise, and both shows ran 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.    Entertainment:  My mom and I couldn't put our finger on what was missing with the production shows.  The performers were good and obviously working their tails off, but the material they had to work with just was lacking.  The 80's production show did not go over well with the older folks who had no idea who Duran Duran, Culture Club, Frankie Goes To Hollywood, etc. were.  Also, the sound guy pumped in so much "Karaoke echo" effects onto the singers voices, that it really cheapened the production.    The magicians, "LaRaff", were like watching a car wreck!  The first 15 minutes were simply awful and much of the 1400 audience members started walking out!  The show did get better towards the end, so we were glad we stayed.   Matt Yee is not to be missed!  He does a great piano bar, sing along in the Schooner Bar.  His shows are pretty much the same, night after night, so one show is probably enough, but be sure not to miss him.  He is hilarious!!!   Food:  First, let me say that Chops Grill is NOT, NOT, NOT to be missed.  This would have easily been a $200 meal back in San Diego, so I was thrilled to pay $25 per person plus an extra gratuity.  My mom had fish and I had chicken w/ sautEed mushrooms.  The appetizers were incredible.  The desserts were stellar... The service was uber friendly and not stuffy at all.  I wish I would have made reservations for more than one night.    Dining Room Food:  Ho Hum... Can you say Golden Corral?!  On the nights that I had to order a grilled chicken breast because there was nothing on the main menu that would work for me, it was truly awful.  Our dining companions started calling it the "Spencer Gift Joke Chicken" because it was so dry and rubbery.  The baked potatoes were the size of a small child's hand (more like a baked red potato).   The desserts were bland, at best.  The apple pie was very similar to the kind that you buy at the grocery store in the freezer section.  Thank goodness for the good dinner rolls.  We all ended up filling up on those every night (sigh).  On 'prime rib' night, we were told that they didn't have horseradish on board!  Huh?  I'm sorry; did I accidentally get on to the Carnival ship instead of Royal Caribbean?   Also, the kitchen had a hard time getting our table of 6 - 8 entrees to come out at the same time.  Talk about uncomfortable... You would get your meal, but your dining companion right next to you doesn't get his meal for about 10-15 minutes, even though you ordered at the same time.  This happened on two different occasions.  Our waiter was frantic, and kept going back to the galley, so I don't think it was his fault.  Overall, the dining room service was fantastic.  Always friendly and they are always trying hard to please you.   Buffet:  Windjammer Cafe:  So the midnight buffet has gone the way of the Dodo bird... OK, that's not a big deal.  But what is a big deal is Royal Caribbean's new times for meals:  Breakfast 7:00 - 11:00, Lunch 11:30 - 2:00 PM, Dinner 6:30 - 9:00 PM.  Did you catch that large gap between lunch and dinner?  If you miss lunch, and you're hungry, your only choices are room service or the dried up Pizza and teenie tiny premade sandwiches in Cafe Promenade.   This is truly unacceptable.  Even on Princess, they have a grill going outside by the pool with chicken sandwiches, hamburgers and hot dogs during the afternoon.  The soft serve yogurt on RC is a nice touch.  However, they don't start the machine up until the THIRD day of the cruise (no kidding!).  They say it's for environmental reasons, but it has to be for cost reasons.   My mom and I are booked in a Crown Loft Suite on Oasis of the Seas, but after this trip, there is NO way we will be spending $10,000+ with RC.  It's one thing to spend $481 per person... your expectations just aren't that high; however, spending $10K is an entirely different arena.  We have rebooked with Regent and are going to be able to sail in a suite, 11 days, all inclusive (including shore excursions, cocktails, etc!) for less than the $10,000 with RC!  If RC isn't careful about becoming a slightly classier Carnival, they will lose more customers like my family and me to Regent or Seabourn.  Oasis and Allure are so expensive, that you can do a luxury cruise for nearly the same cost and get so much more.  Royal Caribbean has super friendly employees and that continues to be their strong point.  However, they better remember that consumers want good value and GREAT entertainment and a book signing by the Captain, or a Puffy Eye Symposium just isn't going to cut it. 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Sail Date June 2009
Our first cruise. We booked 3 months ago and were really looking forward to the trip to Mexico! Imagine our surprise (and initial disappointment) when swine flu changed our itinerary to San Francisco, Seattle, and Victoria. We already had ... Read More
Our first cruise. We booked 3 months ago and were really looking forward to the trip to Mexico! Imagine our surprise (and initial disappointment) when swine flu changed our itinerary to San Francisco, Seattle, and Victoria. We already had airfare paid for, childcare arranged, and my work was covered (also very difficult to do, and moreso to undo). So whether we were up for the cruise or not, we had no choice. We were going!The transfer from LAX to the port went just as expected. We stayed in a hotel the night before (flew in Sat evening) and shuttled back to the airport and had no problem finding the RC shuttle people. They were very friendly and helpful.Saturday night, we stayed at the travel lodge. Unfortunately, the shuttle took us to the wrong travel lodge. There are two, and one has its own shuttle, and one doesn't. It was very confusing. We finally found a taxi to get us to the right hotel.Embarkation. Oh. My. Goodness. It was an awful mess. We hadn't eaten - and didn't expect it to be a 2 - 3 hour embarking process. Next time, we know to eat. Embarking itself wasn't bad, but the lines were long and slow. Our travel agent had put us in an upgrade line for the cabin - we knew there'd be alot of people canceling, and were hoping for a little cabin upgrade. The agent walked us to the line for that, which was actually the incorrect line. Finally, they walked us to the correct line. We were told that it'd be between 100 and 1000 dollars to upgrade. We got our names on a list, and then proceeded to wait. Forever. And ever. And finally the lady came out, and instead of having the courtesy to walk to the group of folks waiting on her (maybe 75 - 100 of us), she allowed herself to be stopped by an irate group of about 6 or 8 folks and she didn't budge. We finally gave up and just got on the ship. I couldn't imagine the embarking process going any worse than it did. We ended up in our original stateroom that we booked. The sad thing is, I would've even been willing to pay for the upgrade, but the Los Angeles RC crew didn't give us the time of day to do so. I'll definitely try to avoid cruising out of LA in the future. At this point, we were regretting booking the cruise. It was a terrible start to our week, and even though some of the ground staff were very friendly and helpful, ultimately, it really tried our patience and if you would've asked me then if I would ever sail RC again, I wouldn't have let you finish the sentence before saying "Absolutely not."Now, on to the positives, because everything else was positive!Public Rooms. No lack of em! Our favorite was Ellingtons on the 15th floor. I devoured many oreo milkshakes there. We enjoyed the promenade alot too. The theatre was very nice. We didn't try out the smaller movie theatre. The ice-skating rink/Studio B was great too. All of the public areas were great and the service was great too.Our Cabin (6109) was nice, but our stateroom attendant was superior. He took awesome care of us. We took afternoon naps several times. We never woke up because of anything we heard except on the first two nights, where the swells were very high. We heard the waves crashing on the front of the boat a few times and that was loud enough to rouse us.Fitness and Rec. We didn't do anything but play putt putt. We decided to just be lazy this week. We did have a spa treatment, which was nice, but pricey. Same for the hair salon. The people working those stations were very friendly and helpful, but most services were above what we were willing to pay.Rates - well, we could've spent more money, and could've spent less. Some things were reasonable and some things were quite high. The fountain drink package was a saver, even though it was expensive in its own right. If we wouldn't have purchased that for both of us, we would've racked up quite a bill in cokes. It ran about 40 or 50 per person. We didn't have alcohol, so I can't comment on those rates. The pictures were nice, and at 20 bucks, weren't too bad. We ended up with 2 really nice 8 x 11 portraits as keepsakes. And don't buy the RC wear on the first few days. On the last few days, they have a big sale, and some awesome stuff is 50 percent off. I made some great purchases right there in the promenade for some really nice clothing.Dining. I expected to not be overwhelmed here because of the reviews. Maybe it is because I am a first time cruiser, but I thought this was a highlight of our trip. The dining was fantastic, bar none. We ate in Windjammer for the first 2 days (we ate there on day 1, liked it, and returned for day 2). Finally on day 3 we went to our assigned dining time (Rhapsody dining room, 8:30 dining time) and we went there from then on out. It was so nice. The food was wonderful. Alex, our waiter from India, and his assistant, were by far the best waiters I have ever had in my entire life (no kidding, they were that awesome!). They both had our names down the 2nd night and we didn't have to ask for anything. He spoiled us. My entire table (9 of us) wanted to take him home with us. We might have been abit worried about sitting with strangers, but this ended up as a highlight of our trip too. We made great friends and we are so glad we didn't get a table for 2 (and thus, not meet anyone). On the first night, we also ate at Portofino for the Murder Mystery Dinner and the food there was fantastic too! But the main dining room was the food highlight of our trip.Entertainment. There was a constant variety of things to do at all times. We didn't do nearly everything, but we experienced quite a bit. So much to do. Some of the highlights for us personally - The Quest (big scavenger hunt, I never laughed so loud in my life), the Love and Marriage game show, the comedians and jugglers, and the ice skating spectacular. All of these were just excellent. The cruise director, Ken, and his staff made these things even better. I only wish I could've seen more. The first two nights were rougher on us as far as bedtimes go, but we were able to actually watch the shows we missed on the television in the stateroom, so that was pretty cool too.Service. I saw some lower reviews in service, but I didn't see this at all. As I already mentioned, those who took care of us did so in a wonderful fashion, and the entire crew seemed friendly and always said hello and did their best to make our time a pleasant time.Excursions. We ended up only going on one, the whale watching trip with Orca Spirit in Victoria. Highly recommend, with weather as quite a variable.Our disembarkation and transfer back to LAX went much better than day 1. It was smooth and we made it to LAX in more than enough time. Read Less
Sail Date May 2009
First, let me explain our cruise plans.  We had been planning this "wonderful family trip" to Mexico for over 2 years.  My son was on a church mission and returned last winter.  Instead of going to pick him up, we decided to ... Read More
First, let me explain our cruise plans.  We had been planning this "wonderful family trip" to Mexico for over 2 years.  My son was on a church mission and returned last winter.  Instead of going to pick him up, we decided to take the entire family adults (3 additional married sisters ranging from 25 to 33 and their husbands) on a cruise vacation as a "Welcome Home Party".  I was so disappointed when RC cancelled our trip to Mexico that I even tried to reschedule to the Caribbean, but it was almost impossible due to the length of time we had until our trip.  I understand RC and their reasoning and feel they did everything within their power to make it an enjoyable experience.  They agreed to lower our price and made some other concessions and after reviewing our options and the money we would lose by cancelling our airline tickets, we decided to just go ahead and do it. EMBARKATION - One of my daughters had made the transfer arrangements from the airport to the port and everything worked just fine.  The only issue was our decision to fly into Long Beach Airport because it was closer and a little cheaper.  We thought we could get a bite to eat prior to going to the port, due to my experience with another cruise line a few years ago where it took forever to register and board.  The food at the airport was almost non-existent, but we did have a nice ice cream treat while waiting for our ride.  I was prepared for the worst at the port.  SURPRISE!!  We arrived a little later than most (3:00 PM) due to our connections and it was so slick I cannot even believe it.  From baggage scanning to walking on the ship took no more than 10 minutes and 8 of this was spent walking.  When you handle this many people, I just expect to stand it lines, but it was a real relief.  By the time we arrived and unpacked it was Bon Voyage and we were off. THE SHIP - Mariner of the Seas is a tremendous ship.  It was built in 2004 and is now over 5 years old, but she does not look her age.  One of my son in laws commented about another cruise ship parked next to us that had areas of rust on her hull.  None of this was observed on Mariner of the Seas.  The carpets all appear almost brand new and I did not notice many areas of wear.  While we were there, a continual repair and upgrade was going on.  Two holes on the miniature golf course were in a state of being repaired and a couple of the benches around the two family swimming pools were also being repaired.  Neither of these were an inconvenience to a great degree.  Instead, they added reinforcement that the company actually cares about the ship and keeping it in good shape.  The ride was generally smooth and enjoyed by all; although one son in law did experience seasickness one evening due to rough seas.  (I would encourage everyone to bring a supply of seasickness patches or pill to assist with this.)  The rest of our group, although they could feel the roll of the ship from time to time, were not affected to any great degree.  It was actually a little fun stumbling down the hallways from time to time.  The ship looked wonderful from the theatre to the spa with little need for repairs.  I was particularly impresses with the bow-thrusters and the full rotating stern drive that allowed us to easily approach the piers.  It was a pleasure to ride on this ship. ACCOMODATIONS - We had originally selected adjoining cabins with balconies.  All of the rooms were very nice.  Needless to say, they are smaller than they appear on the web site, but that is to be expected and was not a big deal after the initial shock.  We did have some minor issues with heating and the like, but based on the total experience, these were only minor inconveniences since we came to play.  Our cabin steward, like all service on this RC trip was outstanding.  I remember asking her to see if she could have someone check into the heating issue.  By the time we returned the hallway wall was torn apart and the repairman satisfactorily resolved the issue. FOOD AND DINING - We had requested the 6:00 PM dining and had requested to all sit together.  What a treat!  We were on the outside of the Sound of Music (Deck 5) right by the windows.  It was nothing short of spectacular!  (Two of the seven nights we had dolphins racing outside our windows.)  Our waiter and assistant waiter were outstanding.  We ate all dinners but one in the dining room and after the first night, we were on a first name basis.  I had read a number of reviews that were not complimentary of the food in the formal dining rooms.  I did not find this to be the case.  Living in a small town in Utah, our dining options are limited, but our three daughters also felt the same way.  They live in larger communities (one just outside of Seattle) and each one of them were very pleased with the dinners.  Our son-in-laws also enjoyed the ability to order multiple main courses which added to their satisfaction.  Given the task of feeding 1,000+ two times a night, I found the food very good.  We failed to eat in the dining room for breakfast and lunch so I cannot give any opinion of these meals, but I heard nothing but good comments from everyone I talked with.  The food on the Windjammer was also good, given the situation. (Some might refer to this as average.) There were usually several specialty items that changed throughout the week, but most of the food was consistent and very acceptable.  We ate at the Windjammer and the Jade every morning and although challenged to eat as a family, we could usually find tables close together.  Again the service was outstanding.  I have taken one previous cruise about 3 years ago on another cruise line.  I work in the services industry and do not remember the service that we received at that time.  To me, this means it was not special.  That is not the kind of service that I received on RC.  It was outstanding!  Staff was always on hand to meet your every need.  Beverages were constantly refreshed and the tables were always clean when we arrived.  (All of the boys purchased unlimited soft drink plans which I would recommend to everyone traveling with young adults, although one son in law did express his dissatisfaction that only Coke, Diet-Coke and Sprite were available.)  My daughter from Seattle went to dinner at Portofino, the Italian specialty restaurant.  She was thrilled with the food and the service and had an outstanding experience.  We had originally planned to dine at Chops - the steakhouse, but since the food was so good at the dining room, I could not get any of the others to join me.  We had all planned on attending Johnny Rockets for lunch, but it was so busy most of us could not get in.  One of my daughters endured the long wait and had an enjoyable meal, in fact; one son-in-law talked all of the boys into going back for a late night feast of onion rings and malts. We also enjoyed the unlimited soft serve yogurt and the Ben and Jerry's station. The one area I had a complaint with is the food available during off dining hours. The only real place to eat was at the Promenade Cafe, where food selection was quite limited.  Also, I believe RC should have other drinking options besides coffee, tea and water.  For those of us that do not drink coffee and tea, this was very limited and disappointing.  I would like to see the lemonade offered at the Windjammer also available at the cafe.  Other food options should include a limited salad bar for those not wanting to eat straight carbohydrates and sugar.  The seating is also limited and was often completely full, although during the late night you could usually find a place to sit and enjoy yourself.  I would also like to add that all of my family did not feel this way.  Some felt that the situation was just fine, but I would like to see a more balanced approach during off dining hours.  On my previous cruise, the food bar (similar to the Windjammer) was open 24 hours a day with great variety to the menu. DRINKING ESTABLISHMENTS - I cannot remember the number of bars on the Mariner.  Someone told me there were 17, maybe this is true.  As a non-drinker, this did not bother me from the sense that I am sure RC generates a substantial amount of income from this activity.  I was put-off by the fact that other types of facilities were lacking.  RC puts a lot of advertising into the fact that they are the "Why Not" company and almost all advertising include families and young married individuals.  Although I would immediately agree that we are in the minority (as non-drinkers), I could see some people not returning to RC due to the imbalance of drinking establishments and the lack of family friendly dining on the promenade.  ENTERTAINMENT- Wow is all I can say!  I was referred to RC by a friend who was a travel agent for several years.  She stated that given the age of those going, RC was the only logical choice and she was so right!  I have two acquaintances that recently cruised on other lines.  One is about the age of my children and the other is slightly younger than my wife and I.  (She had actually cruised on Mariner several years ago, but elected to go on another cruise line because of location, price and availability.) Both had poor experiences and were not pleased with their cruises.  The shows were all excellent.  The singers and dancers did a very good job while the specialty acts were also very good to excellent.  One of my daughters likes to do Karaoke, so we spent some time doing that which was interesting and enjoyable.  CRUISE DIRECTOR - Ken Rush - This man knows what he is doing!  I do not know his background, but he was a great MC and knew what to say and when to say it.  I talked with him briefly and found he was only filling in on a short term basis on the Mariner, although he did work here several years ago.  He will be taking out the Oasis of the Seas in January and his participation on that ship makes me want to go and sail on the Oasis.  If he is in charge of the program, I am sure it will be top notch.  I also found him very personable and willing to stop and talk with you at any time for any reason.  A great guy as far as I am concerned. OTHER ACTIVITIES - One of the reasons that we chose RC were the other activities and we were not disappointed.  The only negative item was the raining days in and around Seattle.  The pools were almost deserted, but we did manage to visit the hot tubs almost every night before going to bed.  Almost the entire family would go together and it was a great time to reflect upon the activities of the day.  The climbing wall was a definite hit.  We visited there on Friday as we were returning to LA and it was nice and warm.  We also visited the miniature golf, basketball, ice skating rink and the spa.  My wife and the three girls all attended sessions at the spa.  Although we did not spend huge amounts of money, they enjoyed their visits and found the staff very professional and friendly.  Some of the guys tried to attend the gym and enjoy the exercise equipment, but with the number of people on board, RC just cannot handle the numbers in the early morning hours.  The rest of the day, was not an issue, but from 7-9 AM it was very busy. One of my daughters who visited the gym repeatedly told me that this only occurred at the beginning of the cruise and it was not a problem later in the week. EXCURSIONS - We had scheduled three excursions for Mexico which were all arranged through RC and were we glad we had done so.  All three were quickly cancelled and credited back to my Visa card.  Due to some unusual circumstances, we elected to do it on our own this time around.  This was due to one of my children living around Seattle and another one that lived in Astoria at one time.  Each one of them took charge in their particular area and all came off without problem.  We were able to visit Cannon Beach and also the school from Kindergarten Cop and the Goonies House in Astoria.  In Seattle, we really appreciated the bus to the Space Needle and then visited Pike Street Market, Underground Seattle and Ye Olde Curiosity Shop down on the wharf.  We had lunch at Ivar's on the wharf which is always good.  In Victoria, we wanted to do something exciting, and I had found a ZIPLINE company, but also wanted to see Butchart Gardens.  Due to the rainy weather we decided the gardens should win out.  It was a spectacular experience, but would encourage using the ships excursions for such an outing since we spent a lot of our time waiting for the city bus to arrive downtown. Fortunately, we were able to go and return without any problems.  We also were able to visit the Empress Hotel and do some shopping downtown. SUMMARY - I started this cruise with a definite dissatisfaction, but this quickly changed.  I was overwhelmed with the customer service that was provided almost every time you turned around.  Stateroom assistants were excellent and so were the dining room staff both in the formal dining room and the Windjammer.  Food was better than expected and the responsiveness of the waiter and assistant waiter was outstanding.  We loved the outdoor activities and the skating rink, and the hot tub was a total success.  Although I do have some reservations in the area of promenade food and drink, I found the total experience outstanding and have already recommended RC to several friends and acquaintances.  Way to go RC!  We will definitely use your services in the future and encourage all we know to do the same.  Read Less
Sail Date May 2009
Background Information: My mother-in-law (50's) and I (30's) flew from Minneapolis to John Wayne Airport the day before our cruise.  It's a small airport, but in the short time we were there we found it very clean, easy to ... Read More
Background Information: My mother-in-law (50's) and I (30's) flew from Minneapolis to John Wayne Airport the day before our cruise.  It's a small airport, but in the short time we were there we found it very clean, easy to navigate and had options available for those who may need to spend more time there.  We were picked up by family members and stayed with them Saturday night.  We used this free day to take in In-N-Out Burger (a must) and visit other family members.  On the cruise we were joined by another family member (40th birthday!) and her 3 year old son.  All of us were booked previously on Mariner of the Seas sailing to the Mexican Riviera.  Royal Caribbean was generous with their onboard credits and future cruise credits in my opinion since legally they have the right to change the itinerary at their discretion.  And since they changed due to the H1N1 flu outbreak - they certainly did not HAVE to do anything.  With so many people dropping this itinerary however, we were really hoping for an upgraded stateroom.  We were told this would need to be taken care of on the ship at check in.Embarkation: We were dropped off at the port in San Pedro around 11am.  We sailed through security and did not wait in line at all for an agent to check us in.  We asked about the upgrade and we were told this would need to be taken care of on the ship at guest relations.  We waited for about 20 minutes for them to start boarding the ship and then were on and off on our adventure.  No one was allowed in their rooms until 1pm and we carried on entirely too much.  We first went to guest relations to ask about a room upgrade.  There was a sign saying the ship was full and there were no room upgrade options.  However, we did have other business to take care of there - so while speaking with the person at guest relations, we did ask if they could move our rooms closer to each other.  He said he would note the request and let us know.  Our next stop was to the dining room to talk to the Maitre D.  Since we were sailing together, obviously we wanted to eat together.  And despite our reservations being linked online prior to the cruise, we were assigned different tables and different times.  We waited in line to speak to him and it was worth it!  He was able to get us a table together and our new table was right by the window!  We were second in line and there were MANY behind us...so I believe it pays to get there early and wait.  After that we went to the Windjammer to eat and there were no tables available.  And many "vulchers" waiting to sit.  This was an extremely frustrating process for us given we had a hungry three year old and all of our bags.  Most frustrating because there were people sitting at tables reading books that could have read them ANYWHERE ELSE on the ship and given that table to people who were actually eating.  There were a few times throughout our cruise where we felt passengers were very rude and/or thoughtless.  Of course that is countered by MANY nice, kind, helpful people.  It does just make you wonder sometimes.Itinerary: Sunday: Departure from San Pedro (close to LA)Monday: At SeaTuesday: Astoria, OregonWednesday: Victoria, British ColumbiaThursday: Seattle, WashingtonFriday: At SeaSaturday: At SeaPorts of Call:Astoria, Oregon: We ate breakfast on the ship and then got off to sightsee on our own.  We walked up to the trolly "station" and hopped on that for a mere $2 per person round trip.  The trolley takes you from one end of town to the other.  Our impressions were that Astoria is a cute little town with lots of charm, but that they were not ready for a cruise ship of this size.  There were stores that were closed.  They could have much more available.  In their defense, this was a last minute change for them and I believe our sailing is the only one going there.  There are some things to see and do - but probably many more for those who have more time.  In the end - we rode the trolly to one end and walked back instead veering off to visit "main street" and see a little more of the town.  We boarded the ship just in time to get to our 6:30 dinner.Victoria, British Columbia: GORGEOUS!  Everything was very green and well kept.  We did the "Hop On, Hop Off - Double Decker Bus Tour".  We were late getting into port but they kept all excursions for the same amount of time that everyone paid for.  We were told to meet and wait in the Savoy Theater.  When they called our tour we were off and walked off the ship and over to the double decker busses.  There were a total of 8 stops, but due to construction they would not be stopping at the last 2.  It was overcast and drizzled on and off, but we had our umbrella's and had a great time nonetheless.  There were plenty of souvenier shops along the way for us to find some trinkets.  There was a lot to see and do here and I would vacation here anytime!Seattle, Washington: We were docked at Pier 91.  Royal Caribbean had buses available to shuttle passengers closer to the action.  They dropped us off at the Seattle Center (where the Space Needle is - among other things).  We hopped on the monorail which took us to the main shopping area and then we walked down to Pike's Place.  Again - Seattle is green and beautiful!  We were all pretty amazed with how clear the air seemed to be and everything just felt very fresh.  At Pike's Place we saw them throwing the fish, the flowers and fruits/vegetables were huge and gorgeous and fresh.  It was crowded, but not terrible.  We also went to the first Starbucks (my happy place!!).  We stopped at a few shops on the way back to the monorail.  We got right on the bus/shuttle and headed back to the ship.  Getting back on was a breeze as usual.The Ship: The ship was BEAUTIFUL!  Everything was in great condition and well maintained.  We were very impressed with the Mariner and would sail on this ship again in a heartbeat!  There were plenty of bars, places to eat, things to do...so on the ship we never really felt crowded. (with the exception of the first day in the Windjammer)  With so many days at sea, we wished there would have been more offered for shopping onboard, but since we didn't cruise for that - it is what it is.Cabin: I should note that we were moved at 10:30pm the first night from our interior stateroom near the back of the ship to a cabin overlooking the promenade right next door to our travel mates!!!  This was FANTASTIC!  We were on deck 6 in the middle of the ship and it was a great location!  It was fun to be able to look out on the promenade and see all that was going on.  If you plan on sleeping at 9/10 at night this might not be the room for you.  There are a couple nights when there are things going on where it may be a little loud - but it's not til all hours of the morning, so if you're taking in the parades anyway you'll be just fine!  Our cabin steward kept our room in great condition so we have no complaints.  He was not overly friendly like others we'd see.  But truthfully as long as our room was clean we took no issue with him.Dining: As mentioned, we were moved to a table by the window at the main dining on the 3rd floor - Rhapsody in Blue dining room.  We were at a table for 10, but the others never showed so we had our own table which was GREAT.  Our waiter was OK.  Our assistant waiter was fantastic.  Our head waiter was very attentive.  I was not feeling well 2 of the days where my travel mates ate lunch in the dining room.  When Merrick saw I was not with them and asked why - he promptly got a plate together with apples and soda crackers to send back the room for me.  Very thoughtful!  With so many guests and two different dinings, for him to even notice that I wasn't there was remarkable in my opinion.  I was very appreciative.  We ate breakfast in the Windjammer most days.  The fruit was always very good and fresh.  I never did get to try the omelet bar.  Lunch in the dining room was excellent.  We also ate at Johnny Rockets one day which was very good.Entertainment: We took in Ice Under the Big Top which we found very impressive and a fun night for us!  We got in line early and got front row seats!  We also saw the two shows with the RC singers and dancers in The Savoy Theater which were both quite good.  We took in the Love and Marriage game show which is always funny, and kareoke which was unusually very bad (with a couple exceptions).  There were lots of activities going on about the ship....the mens bellyflop contest and mens sexy legs contest were both funny.  There was also trivia every day and many other opportunities to join in.  Service: In general, there were some good crew members and some bad.  We often felt crew members would say they'd get right on it and then do nothing.  We had some issues getting our onboard credits taken care of so were at the guest relations desk multiple times a day.  There was one gal there that was very polite - but totally blew us off.  Another gentlemen, Gaston, was SOOOO helpful and really worked with us to get our issues resolved.  He was very understanding and really seemed to care whether we were taken care of/happy or not.In summary, we had a great cruise vacation at a great value.  We would definately cruise on Mariner again and had a wonderful time with many fond memories.  Hopefully this review is helpful. 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Sail Date May 2009
We were visiting San Diego when we observed numerous ships docking. Those with Mexican Riviera destinations had nowhere to go. Next day I got on the internet and discovered huge bargains. I contacted my travel agent and we were booked. I ... Read More
We were visiting San Diego when we observed numerous ships docking. Those with Mexican Riviera destinations had nowhere to go. Next day I got on the internet and discovered huge bargains. I contacted my travel agent and we were booked. I immediately contacted friends in San Francisco and Seattle to arrange get togethers. We are in our early 60's and had previously sailed with HAL, Carnival and Princess. At times I will use such cruise lines as a comparison.The embarkation was basically sit and wait. We sat on plastic chairs for about 1 hour since our 11:00a.m arrival. We spent the time talking to other passengers, everyone was friendly and excited. We boarded around noon and went to the Windjammer buffet since our cabins were not ready until 1:00p.m. on the dot. This ship is HUGE. It dwarfed all our prior ships. It's primary focus is deck 5 which is described as the "Promenade". It duplicates the main street of a small town with shops, complimentary light meal and pastry cafe, wine bar, and a small stage for entertainment. It is also a 7 deck atrium which encompasses almost the entire length of the ship. We were impressed. This was the place to go so you do not have to linger in your cabin.Speaking of cabins, ours was in deck 2, ocean view. I prefer lower decks due to motion sickness. Seasickness was not a problem since the seas were calm and this huge ship can seem to override most choppy waves. I stopped taking bonine the third day. The cabin was 161 square feet, the same as Princess but smaller than Carnival or HAL. The configuration differed from Princess. Thus the Princess cabin had more closet space but less area to stand and walk in. In addition it had a small sofa. Both had small baths. However, the shower on this ship had a slidding shower enclosure which gives you more space and spares you from the dredded shower curtain assault.Our first port was San Francisco and Fisherman's Wharf. It was cold and windy, verifying Mark Twain, who pronounced "The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco!" We visited a free carnival machine museum and a WWII submarine then dined with friends at a local Italian restaurant. Don't miss Boudin's bakery. Their display showed a 6 foot baked bread alligator. They are famous for their soup in a sourdough bun.Next stop was Victoria B.C. The temperature was 88 degrees. A record.We toured Craigdarrock Castle which is a huge mansion built by a coal baron. Then we went to the Butchart Gardens which are beautiful. My wife is a docent at Descanso Gardens in L.A. and she was impressed. The Empress Hotel looked more spectacular outside than inside.Next stop was Seattle. Again record heat, 87 degrees. We met a friend at Pike's Place Market and had lunch at Turkish Delights which serves delicious and inexpensive Middle Eastern cuisine. At Pike's we observed the legendary fish catching. We then took the monorail to the Space Needle. Again another must. For a large city Seattle seems clean and efficient.Back on board and now to the all important dining. We dined at the main dining room which is a three level set up with each level having it's own name and unique decor. RCCL has been criticized for mediocre food. I disagree. Although not up to HAL standards, the food was good to very good. The desserts were much better than Princess. The service was excellent. Each day our waiter would inform us of the next days activities, both port and dinning choices. Clearly outstanding. The Windjammer buffet was good. During the first days most passengers would line up at the first lines thus causing conjestion. Later on they realized that there were numerous other stations available thus easing the wait.The shows on board were mostly good to average. The ice show was spectacular. Obviously a unique feature. There was nightly entertainment on the Promanade and the many, many, bars. I recommend Ellington's for the slow lane crowd since it offered easy listening sounds, just our speed.The cabin attendants were efficient and did a fine job. Several minor criticisms. Instead of shampoo bottles the showers had a dispenser. This is tacky and Motel 6 ish. The elevators were erratic and at times would go up when it was announced they were going down. At times they would skip your deck while you waited. There were few enrichment lectures. However, the numerous trivia games were well attended.Since school was mostly in session about 200 children were on board. The June 7th sailing was scheduled to have 600+ kids on board. This ship has an incredible amount of children thru teens programs. A must for families. For the older folk I would recommend sailing during the school year or bring the grandkids. All in all a great cruise.               Read Less
Sail Date May 2009
My wife and I took our ninth Royal Caribbean cruise and twentieth overall on Mariner of the Seas departing on May 31.   This was a seven night trip originating in Los Angeles with a revised itinerary because of the flu issues in ... Read More
My wife and I took our ninth Royal Caribbean cruise and twentieth overall on Mariner of the Seas departing on May 31.   This was a seven night trip originating in Los Angeles with a revised itinerary because of the flu issues in Mexico.   We booked the cruise after the ports of call were switched and were quite happy to visit San Francisco, Vitoria BC and Seattle, and in fact prefer these to the Mexican stops.   This trip was an anomaly, possibly not to be repeated so I will confine my remarks to the ship itself except to state that sailing into San Francisco bay under the Golden Gate Bridge was very special. The ship seems new, very well maintained and clean.   Our interior cabin on deck eight had a window facing the promenade.   We thought that noise from the parades and entertainment would be an inconvenience but that was not a problem.   One aspect of the room which got our attention quickly was that the windows are uncoated, plain clear glass so that all activities in one's cabin as well as those across the promenade are visible.   The curtains do block all light however, so good sleeping is possible.Our interior cabin on deck eight had a window facing the promenade.   We thought that noise from the parades and entertainment would be an inconvenience but that was not a problem.   One aspect of the room which got our attention quickly was that the windows are uncoated, plain clear glass so that all activities in one's cabin as well as those across the promenade are visible.   The curtains do block all light however, so good sleeping is possible.   Bar soap was provided instead of the dispenser type although shampoo was from a dispenser.   The cabin had a small sofa and love seat.    Closet space for hanging items was sufficient although only a slight rocking of the ship started the hangers banging together, so much so that I got up and took the empty ones off the rack and laid them down to stop the noise.   I'm a light sleeper however. The ship's employees were all friendly, courteous and eager to please.   Our dinners were in the Top Hat and Tails restaurant where we experienced excellent service from the wait staff.  As has been mentioned in other reviews the portions have been reduced and so has the quality of the food.   We think that the cuisine was at as low a level as any we had experienced on other cruise ships from the perspective of quality of the ingredients.   Preparation was good though, but as one passenger remarked, "Even a perfectly prepared taco is still just a taco".   An example of the decline in dining is that the lunch menu is identical each day.   They do provide a very nice salad bar at lunch that my wife and some other table mates greatly enjoyed. An unusual event happened to tablemates who arrived for dinner the first night and found that their seats had been preempted by two other passengers who had actually been assigned to a different table.   For unknown reasons, possibly proximity to a window these people could not or would not move to their assigned table producing an uncomfortable confrontation.   The displaced diners were reseated to our table and they were the most pleasant and fun dinner partners we could have hoped for.   Several changes have been made on RCL since our last cruise with them in October 2007 that negatively impacted the experience, in our opinion.   Some of most obvious of these are the champagne welcome has been stopped, there are no chocolates on the pillows as part of the turn down service and there are no after dinner mints or candies provided in the dining rooms.   We were told by an employee that discontinuing the pillow chocolates will save RCL $400K per year.   Food in the Windjammer was unremarkable, standard Vegas buffet variety and quality although service was very good.   We began cruising in 1999 and so still remember when almost every dish was the best we had ever had in quality of ingredients, portion size and service.   If one ordered water melon the slice served was the best water melon, the steak was the best, etc.   On this ship the food items were nothing special.   New cruisers seemed very pleased however. For part of the cruise we were shadowing the Carnival Splendor and in Victoria we were berthed next to that ship.   In conversations with those passengers it seems that Carnival, or at least the Splendor, has matched or surpassed RCL in food, amenities and staff service.   Also, contrary to some perceptions, the passengers from Carnival Splendor that one met were indistinguishable in demographics and deportment from the RCL passengers.   We had taken Norwegian Cruise Lines on our previous two cruises and they have clearly overtaken RCL, or perhaps RCL has fallen behind them in many aspects of cruising although the NCL fleet seems older and their ships smaller. In summary, Mariner of the Seas is a five star vessel with a five star staff but has three and one half star food and amenities.   We will certainly use RCL again and even made future cruise deposits but we will always choose NCL over RCL if the price is the same or less and we will probably try one of the newer Carnival ships. 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Sail Date May 2009
We arrived in Sydney over the Easter weekend and spent a couple of days exploring the area.  Sydney is a beautiful city with a lot to see.Embarkation - very fast.  The last time we cruised out of sydney on the Sapphire Princess it was ... Read More
We arrived in Sydney over the Easter weekend and spent a couple of days exploring the area.  Sydney is a beautiful city with a lot to see.Embarkation - very fast.  The last time we cruised out of sydney on the Sapphire Princess it was total chaos, seemed like 3,000 people showed up at the same time.  This time on the Rhapsody we boarded around 11 am and there were no line ups and very efficient check-in by RCI.For the first part of the cruise - Sydney to Honolulu we had a balcony cabin on deck 7, it was very roomy and a bigger bathroom than on other ships.  However for the second leg of the trip - Honolulu to Vancouver our daughter joined us and we were moved to a very small cabin on deck 2 which with a pull down from the ceiling bed.  Just not comfortable for three people.The ship is in very good shape, very clean and the staff very helpful.  We had some fantastic table mates.  The food in the dining room was very good with lots of choices, as good and if not better than other lines we have been on.  Most breakfasts and lunches were in the windjammer with good choices and good quality.Ports of Call - we arranged our own tours.  We waited until we got off the ship and discussed tours/excursions with locals at the dockside.  In Rarotonga we arranged a taxi driver to give us a tour of the Island and then drop us off at a beautiful resort where we snorkeled and swam on the coral reef.In Bora Bora we went on a "swim with stingrays" "feed the sharks" and then to a private island for swimming snorkeling.  well worth the $70 each  (ships price $148 ea)!!Raeta - French Polynesia - a very beautiful island.  We arranged a boat to a palm treed island where we swam snorkeled and spent the afternoon.  again well worth the $40 each and a bargain compared to what the ship prices were.  The sail away from Raeta was the best I've ever seen, the ship cruised close to the shore and mile after mile of beautiful undeveloped shore line.Tahiti - a disappointment again!  a typical French Island - can't use ATM anywhere, can't get cash from your credit card, will change US dollars but need to see your passport!  (passports on the ship)Taxi driver takes us to a resort - "sorry you can stay on the beach its public but don't come in to our resort"Maui - beautiful Island, we did the whale watching, saw a few whales and dolphins.  Wandered around Lahaina a quaint beautiful town with the worlds biggest Banyan tree.Honolulu- 2 days - first day wandered around Wakiki and the center of the city.  Second day rented a car and drove to the crater and walked to the top, its a beautiful hike to the top with some spectacular views of the city.  Drove up the east side of the island toward Turtle bay but had to turn around because of a big accident.Maui - renturn as part of the B2B - did the Pineapple steam train to the resort area and snorkeled.  spent the evening in Lahaina.Hilo - rented a car and drove to the volcano, it was steaming this time and we drove to the end of the road where the lava flows into the ocean.  Fantastic sail away at night with the lava flowing into the ocean and fire streaming down as the lava drops into the ocean.  The captain took the ship as close as he could go and turned the ship around.Kona - saw 20 or 30 dolphins swim under the tender as we came in to port.  spent the day snorkeling and swimming right on the downtown beach.  A beautiful town.Five days at sea to Vancouver.  We relaxed and found plenty of things to do on the sea days.  the weather got cooler as we got closer to Vancouver.The sail in to Vancouver must be the best - under the Lions Gate bridge and into the harbor with the snow capped mountains on one side and the city skyline on the other.  I think the sail away from sydney and the sail in to Vancouver must be the two best anywhere.Spent three days wandering Vancouver and up to the Capilano suspension bridge, Grouse Mountain and Whistler.Overall a fantastic trip!! Read Less
Sail Date April 2009
This was my first repositioning cruise so I didn't know what to expect. The ship had come up from Australia, arriving in Honolulu then going on to the Hawaiian islands for five days and across the Pacific for five days to Vancouver. I ... Read More
This was my first repositioning cruise so I didn't know what to expect. The ship had come up from Australia, arriving in Honolulu then going on to the Hawaiian islands for five days and across the Pacific for five days to Vancouver. I have sailed on the Voyager class of ship and therefore I thought I'd find this ship to be less desirable, however that was not the case. The Rhapsody is older but is impeccably maintained, every public space and the cabin were spotless. I loved all of the glass used, especially the Centrum. The two story dining room was nicely set up and the Windjammer Cafe was easy to access. For this particular cruise all of the inside spaces were non smoking, including the casino. Smoking was allowed on the outer starboard decks only. I found the non smoking casino to be such a pleasure I spent more time than I expected there,  happily playing the many penny slot machines. This was the first on board casino I've seen with so many new video penny slots, and they paid off in a reasonable manner. There were many places on the ship to curl up with a book, or just watch the water go by. I had an inside cabin, which was more than adequate in size, including a small loveseat, and plenty of storage.The crew and staff were the best I've encountered on a cruise, starting with the captain (who just took over the ship) and down to the cleaning crews. The captain was very visible around the ship, including at the CC Meet & Mingle. I never passed a crew member without them smiling and saying hello. My cabin steward was a young woman who was so bubbly and energetic it was contagious. Dining room service was superb, the waiter and assistant waiter learned your preferences within a day and always provided your favorite drinks. Food was excellent, both in the main dining room and on the buffet. My only complaint (which I mentioned to the chef) was that the pizza and other Italian dishes were not very tasty. Entertainment was the usual production shows, plus some very talented comedians and singers. The five sea days were filled with a reasonable amount of activities, including recent movies. Embarkation in Honolulu was fast and efficient. It was a little odd to not get under way the first day, we stayed over until 11PM on the 2nd day.  However, Vancouver was chaos, never seen such a messed up port. The various cruise lines were all merged into one long line, with baggage check in at one central point inside the terminal, would be a miracle if your bag made it on the right ship. Waited 2 hours to get a cab. Read Less
Sail Date April 2009
We boarded the Radiance at approx 2.30 had lunch and returned to our cabin to await the arrival of our luggage. Everytime we asked guest relations, we were blown off, it's definitely coming, and basically don't bother us. At ... Read More
We boarded the Radiance at approx 2.30 had lunch and returned to our cabin to await the arrival of our luggage. Everytime we asked guest relations, we were blown off, it's definitely coming, and basically don't bother us. At approx. 8.15 pm, after many calls to guest relations and checking with our steward we were finally told to go down to the GR desk and look for our bags. It was there alright, in the lost baggage room, with every name tag and baggage tag torn off. It was suggested to us that the baggage handlers at San Diego pier may be a bit disgruntled as there were several other bags in the room without tags. RCCL made sure we knew these people were not RCCL employees. ......However RCCL contracts them so....... We had a large balcony but found the room painfully small, 177 sq.ft. One tiny sofa and one chair at the vanity, we were crawling over each other trying to get dressed. We have been on other ships and the standard size for a room in this category is about 195 -210 feet. The balcony isn't much use on a Coastal Cruise so you really can't get away from each other. The "mini bar" is not a bar at all. No alcohol, just a few cans of pop and water, so you have to call room service everytime you want a drink in your room. Also no bathrobes unless you have cruised 5 times and become platinum. We were lowly gold having sailed with them once before 10 yrs ago. HAL offers bathrobes to everyone, and we really missed them on the cruise as Coastal Cruises are chilly. Life boat drill was strange. Our category A1 thru A4 was directed to go to the Aurora Theatre, where we were given instructions on how to put on a life jacket, which we already had on, and then given two speeches, one by a staff member and one by the captain on 'Rules of Conduct".No bad behavior is tolerated, or excessive drinking etc. etc. I don't see why this was necessary, it's just common sense. We were never told where our lifeboats were or how to get to them or any procedure on leaving the ship. The joke was that the theatre must break off from the ship and float away on it's own. The ships is quite lovely, the food is pretty good and if you don't enjoy your dinner the staff would exchange it for something else. Only had to do this once with the Tempura, very bad. Windjammer cafe is nicely laid out with many different islands of different foods, so no long lines. I can't say I found the staff overly helpful, especially at guest relations. They have a unique way of telling you that no matter what the problem is, somehow it's your fault. EG. I should have had a clear plastic pocket on my suitcase with the name tag secured in it. My suitcase doesn't have one. Our room steward was very nice however. We sailed with HAL last fall on a coastal and just felt pampered everywhere. The small rooms, lack of mini bar in the rooms, no bathrobes would probably deter me from sailing with RCCL again. Read Less
Sail Date May 2007
Background on us: Family of 4 traveling - 2 adults (30's) and 2 children (ages 1 and 4). This was my husband and my 5th cruise (previously one Renaissance, one Princess, 2 RCCL), my older child's 3rd cruise (previously one ... Read More
Background on us: Family of 4 traveling - 2 adults (30's) and 2 children (ages 1 and 4). This was my husband and my 5th cruise (previously one Renaissance, one Princess, 2 RCCL), my older child's 3rd cruise (previously one Princess, 1 RCCL) and my son's first cruise. Pre-cruise, we stayed at the Omni San Diego (won on Priceline) and post cruise we spent one night at the Westin Grand in Vancouver (also won on Priceline). I was wa happy with both hotels, the concierge at the Westin really went above and beyond the call of duty for us. Embarkation: Embarkation in San Diego was a breeze. A short cab ride from our hotel. We embarked at approximately 1:30 pm. There was no line or waiting at all. Simply perfect. First Impression of Radiance of the Seas: We previously sailed on this ship in 2002, so I was anxious to see how she was aging. In sum, she's aging gracefully. Yes, there are slight signs of wear - scattered carpet stains, evidence of replaced carpet, etc. However, the decor and the ship in general is as beautiful as I remembered. Our Cabin: We stayed in JS 1560 - what a gem - perfect location on the hump of the ship, sandwiched between the Royal Suite and an Owner's Suite. The JS's on Radiance class ships are huge - much larger than the mini-suite we had on Princess. We were looking for a cabin which would have enough room for the sofa to be pulled out for our 4 year old, with room left over for a crib for our one year old. We got that and more with this JS. Highly recommended in size and for the location. Our cabin steward was also very good. She was very friendly and remembered our children's names and repeatedly said hello to them throughout the cruise. Dining: We had early seating for dinner at our own table for 4 with a very efficient waitstaff, not exceedingly friendly, but very conscientious of our situation (two young children). After the first day, along with a high chair and a booster, there were glasses of milk for the children and bowls of diced fruit waiting at the table for us, so the kids were quickly occupied. We were able to bypass some courses (generally my husband and I each ordered an appetizer or salad and entree instead of all three) because there was no one else at the table. We were usually finished with dessert before other tables had had their entrees cleared. That was fine by us because our youngest only has about an hour and 15 minutes worth of patience at dinner anyway. We ate dinner in the dining room 4 of 6 nights - one night we ate in port and we ate in the Windjammer on the second formal night simply because we didn't want to pack a second formal ensemble for each of us. Aside from one lunch in the Seaview Cafe, we ate all breakfasts and lunches in the Windjammer. Food all over the ship was good - not spectacular and some things were better than others, but overall, except for the whole fruit which always seemed to be bruised, the quality was good. Children's Club - our 4 year old was an Aquanaut. She loved every minute she spent in the kids' club and would have been there the entire cruise had we allowed it. There were only 60 children between the ages of 3 -17 on the entire ship, so she got lots of attention. Highlights of her time in Adventure Ocean included looking for Fuzz Buzz (the alien), the talent show and the Pirate Parade. She came back with her face painted more than once and created lots of fun art and science projects. I can't speak highly enough of her experience there. Aquatots - our 1 year old participated in the Fisher Price Aquatots program on both sea days (it was held while we were in port on the other days) and he really enjoyed himself. Each day, the children (well, parents mostly) sang songs, the children listened to a story, colored a theme picture and played with Fisher Price toys. It was nice to meet parents of the under 3's as well (12 on board for this cruise) Entertainment: The entertainment that I saw was typical of RCCL - a comedian and a production show (the other nights I was in with the kids). I also saw the Love and Marriage Game Show and The Quest - hilarious as always. I felt that the activities staff was not quite up to scratch, especially one woman who hosted karaoke and I think towel animal folding. Her small talk left much to be desired - all she could say was "awesome". "What song are you singing? .. . Awesome." "You did an awesome job", etc. It grated on my nerves. Activities/Features of the Ship. This cruise was quite cold, so no one spent much time on deck. For example, we used the ball court before we departed San Diego and then never again. No chair hogs on this cruise. Aside from one or two brave souls in Victoria, no one swam in either the regular outdoor pool or the children's pool - it was just too cold and windy. Guest Relations and other service staff: Guest Relations and the other service staff ran hot and cold with us. It seemed that very few people had any hard information and if you asked different people the same question you got different answers. For example, because for the majority of the cruise, the temperature never rose out of the 50's, we asked at Guest Relations whether there would be any family swim time in the Solarium. They kept responding, I don't know. Then they would place three phone calls and still not have an answer. Finally on the 4th phone call they would tell us, yes - family swim will be from 12 - 2 pm. We would then run into other parents and say - did you hear - the Solarium will be open for family swim from 12 - 2? They would say, really? We were told family swim was going to be from 3 - 5. That was frustrating. Finally the Family Swim times were posted in the Cruise Compass and that helped a lot for the families and for people who actually read their Compass (but not for the many adults who gave my fully potty trained 4 year old and myself looks of disdain - like why are you invading an Adults Only area (because it's 50 degrees outside, the kids CAN'T swim anywhere else, and management has set aside this time for families - that's why!) But, then Guest Relations would turn around and be really great. I had enquired into in cabin babysitting and the next day (when I was at Guest Relations for something else) the woman remembered me and followed up on my request without my even asking. Disembarkation: The actual disembarkation process was smooth, but getting a taxi at the port? Holy Cow - I think the cab line ended up being over 3 hours. The entire city has approximately 435 cabs for a population of 1.5 million (and with three ships in port - 6,000 cruises on top of that). We eventually called our hotel (the Westin) and made arrangements with them directly. It was a nightmare. Vancouver overall was a beautiful city, I'm glad we spent an extra day there. All in all a great cruise. I'm very happy we went. Read Less
Sail Date May 2007
Radiance of the Seas May 12-18, 2007 My wife and I took the repositioning cruise from San Diego to Vancouver May 12 through 18, 2007. This was the second cruise for both of us- both on Royal Caribbean and both on a Radiance Class ship. ... Read More
Radiance of the Seas May 12-18, 2007 My wife and I took the repositioning cruise from San Diego to Vancouver May 12 through 18, 2007. This was the second cruise for both of us- both on Royal Caribbean and both on a Radiance Class ship. (The other was on the Jewel of the Seas.) We chose this cruise mainly for the ports of call, and we were not disappointed. We arrived in San Diego two days before the cruise and spent some time at Seaport Village, the Gaslamp Quarter, Coronado, and Balboa Park. Our hotel was the Best Western Bayside Inn and it was perfect for a pre-cruise stay. They provide a free shuttle ride from the airport and also to the cruise port. That more than makes up for the lack of a free breakfast. Embarkation at the Port of San Diego was fast and easy. This was exactly the same experience as our first cruise. Since our cruise ship was scheduled to depart at 6 pm, our embarkation instructions said to arrive between 3 and 5 pm. We arrived at the port around 2:30 pm, had no trouble offloading our luggage to the port baggage handlers, and breezed through the Sea Pass card process with our Set Sail documents already completed. We boarded the ship directly and had immediate access to our cabin, balcony unit #9564 on the starboard side. We chose the starboard side thinking that we might have a view of the west coast as we headed north. However, the ship travels in the shipping lane so far from land that it really didn't matter for much of the cruise. Where the right side really paid off was when we were traveling the Straits of Juan de Fuca entering British Columbia. Here we had a terrific view of the Washington State mountains from our balcony. Our luggage arrived not more than a half hour after boarding. This was much faster than on our last cruise, and we were actually able to unpack before the muster drill. We headed off to the Tides dining room, and this is where we encountered the most difficulty on our cruise. When we reached the head waiter, we were told that we did not have a table assignment and that we would need to stand aside along the wall with all the other people who had received a table assignment of "000." I was taken completely by surprise that our request for main seating had not been accommodated. Our cruise documents listed main seating and did not contain the customary asterisk if your first seating request could not be accommodated. We waited against the wall for 15 minutes while all the other guests (arriving late) were seated. The head waiter then called up each party in the waiting list line one at a time to give them a new seating assignment for dinner. When it was our turn, we were asked to come back for second seating. When we complained about this, we were surprisingly given a table for two at main seating that night. While this was fine, it was only for that night. Our table assignment was then changed for the next night, and since we planned on dining at Portofino's the second night, we didn't actually meet our dinner table partners until much later in the cruise. Besides the seating confusion, I thought that most of the entrees were very mediocre and that the service was quite average. It was very difficult to get soft drinks delivered to the dining room in a timely fashion. As expected, the quality of the food in the alternate restaurants, Chops and Portofinos ($20 per person), was much better. The west coast weather was quite chilly and windy while we were at sea, so most on-deck activities were cancelled. However, we enjoyed the self-leveling pool tables, the technical talk by the Captain, the trivia-contests, and the wonderful shows in the Aurora Theater. The Radiance did have some additional wear compared to the newer Jewel, but we expected that and were not too disappointed in the condition of the ship. It is quite lovely if you haven't already seen the Jewel. Our first port of call was San Francisco, and it was thrilling to cruise in under the Golden Gate Bridge at daybreak with the sea lions at Pier 39 barking and Alcatraz visible through the morning fog. We booked an early-day excursion to Muir Woods and Sausolito through the cruise line, and then visited Fisherman's Wharf/Pier 39 on our own later in the day. We enjoyed our day there very much and were glad to have so much time in port. Our next port of call was Astoria, Oregon. The city was quaint and the view of the Columbia River was beautiful, but I couldn’t help thinking that this city wasn’t really ready for cruise ships. The waterfront is underdeveloped and the riverwalk trolley was unable to handle the crush of tourists pouring from cruise ship. Tour buses did handle some of the demand, but there were many people who purchased “all-day ride” tickets on the trolley who simply couldn’t reboard at any of the major stops because the trolley was always too full. We took the excursion to Cannon and Seaside Beach. We got some terrific shots of the Haystack Rock at Cannon Beach, but we were never dropped off right at the Rock. All of our stops were just a little too far to allow us get to the rock and back before the bus departed, so we were a little disappointed in the excursion. Perhaps we would have enjoyed this port better if we had taken the longer excursion to Mount St. Helens, but I’m not sure the visibility would have been very good. In short, Astoria’s waterfront has tremendous promise but it is completely unrealized at present, and cruise ships should bypass this port until that changes. After a day at sea, we arrived in Victoria, British Columbia and were immediately charmed by this beautiful city. Our excursions included the Butchart Gardens (absolutely stunning) and the Butterfly House (too crowded to enjoy). We also spent some time in downtown Victoria visiting the Empress Hotel and the Parliament building. The views from any vantage point in the city were gorgeous, and we could have definitely spent more time there. We finished up our cruise at Vancouver, British Columbia with a departure excursion which included a city highlights tour. We were somewhat disappointed by our tour bus. It had advertisements plastered all over the windows which greatly restricted our view. The ads were supposed to be “see-through” from inside the bus, but it was much like looking at everything through a gray fog. If we would have been heading back to the ship after this excursion, we probably would have complained to RCI about the quality of the bus. We spend a night at the wonderful Richmond Marriott Hotel before flying out of Vancouver Airport back to the U.S. The Vancouver Airport was fine, but if I had it to do over, I’d catch a transfer by bus back to Seattle, and fly home from there since it is cheaper. The quality of the RCI cruising experience seemed to be quite consistent from our last cruise to this one. The area most in need of improvement continues to be the standard dining room and buffet food. While the alternate restaurants always provide outstanding food and quality service, the buffet and dining room are usually quite mediocre. The featured chef selection entrees at dinner were usually the best offering. In the Windjammer, we noticed that the buffet food was seldom hot, but at least the crew does a good job at keeping item trays filled. Since, for us, cruises are not primarily about the food, we can overlook this disappointment and still consider the cruise a good value. On the plus side, our cabin, cabin attendant service, cruise shows and productions were all terrific. The ship activities were sufficient for adults, and the staff had special activities and clubs to keep kids occupied. I do, however, think this cruise itinerary is strongly geared toward adults, and especially seniors. I went on this trip feeling that RCI provides a quality cruise for a reasonable price, and my experience on the Radiance has not changed that opinion. Read Less
Sail Date May 2007
This was my 14th cruise on RCCL. Reason for this one was, to once sail out of San Francisco which was really wonderful. We had the best cabin, an aft Junior Suite on deck 10, next to the corner Grand Suite. Loved it. Our room steward was ... Read More
This was my 14th cruise on RCCL. Reason for this one was, to once sail out of San Francisco which was really wonderful. We had the best cabin, an aft Junior Suite on deck 10, next to the corner Grand Suite. Loved it. Our room steward was probably the best we ever had. Concierge service was equally excellent due to the fact that the "cocktail hour" each night was held on deck 13 in the viking crown lounge/disco due to the many diamond members on this cruise. Free drinks and the view - what more can you ask for... Maritza the concierge was wonderful and she made up for the poor finger food they served each night (the exact same every night!). Ports were good, overall a really nice trip, just to short for my taste as I like 12 nights or longer. Now on to the "not so good". First of all the food. The buffet was extremely boring with the same food every day. Bland, often warm instead of hot and almost no variety from day to day. Dining room experience was not much better due to different facts though. The food itself was OK, much much better than in the Windjammer (buffet), but - please RCCL , I hope someone reads this, it is definitely time to change the menus!!!! How can a cruise line, that pretends and promotes to serve excellent food ( yes I know it is not a 5 star cruise line but still not one of the cheap ones either ), keep the same menus and thus serve the same food for 7 years and longer? This is how you get rid of your loyal customers. Very simple. I also cannot believe they still do the Italian night the way they do it. It was nice and somewhat funny the first 5 times but that was years ago. Please come up with something new. I feel sorry for both, dining room staff and customers... Besides, and this is maybe even my biggest criticism, it does not look any funny with the all Asian/Indian waiters anymore, "singing" O Sole Mio... It looks cheap and stupid these days. What happened to the good old days, when the staff came from all over the world? These days, especially true on the Serenade and the Freedom ( at least this is where I experienced it ) they all come from the Philippines and India. No offense, but sorry , they don´t ( or should say didn´t ) do it right. They don´t have the slightest feeling for providing good service and for being somewhat charming. They are often pushy, don´t listen and have no table manners, this experiencing especially with the Filipinos. Again, no offense, just my experience. I know they are cheaper and especially Eastern Europeans get better jobs somewhere else these days but RCCL must know that it will not pay off in the long run if they continue that. My next cruise is on Celebrity and if I experience the same with them I will move on to another cruise line, despite my status with RCCL and Celebrity, simply because it takes away a lot of what a cruise means to me. Interesting though, I was on a short cruise 3 weeks later, this time on the Jewel of the Seas, leaving from Hamburg, Germany. It was a completely different experience, almost like being on a different cruise line. Happy staff from all over the world, lot´s of eastern Europeans, South Africans, a good mix of Indians and Asians but not as many, people from the Islands, from New Zealand and Australia. The atmosphere was completely different. Everybody was in a good mood. Service was great everywhere and from everyone and that does include the Indians and Asians this time, even in the windjammer it was very good and noticeable. When asking the staff, why it was so different on all other ships now, those that do not tour Europe, I was told that hiring mostly Asians is today´s trend, simply because they save money that way... Now figure, obviously Americans don´t seem to mind that or even notice that change or trend, but in Europe they don´t do it that way simply to keep up the good service and please the European customer... That´s at least my conclusion... Says a lot... So, in the future, if you want the good old RCCL experience, make sure you sail in Europe! So these are my biggest complaints. Please change menus (and the themes), yes that does include the specialty restaurants (!!!), and please go back to dining room and wait staff from all over the world, not only from Asia! I hope nobody feels offended by my criticism. It has nothing to do with general attitude towards people from certain countries or areas of the world. Not at all. I respect every human being, no matter where they are from. But when it comes to good service, especially when I pay a lot of money for it, I expect something else, and certainly not what I experienced with RCCL lately (except on the Jewel). However, I am looking forward to the Millenium doing transatlantic in December. Read Less
Sail Date May 2007
This review was prepared by PokrTomPdx (Tom) with input from Fierysand (Sandie). Let me state up front that this review will sound very negative, and I don't mean for it to, we enjoyed our cruise and many of the aspects of the trip, ... Read More
This review was prepared by PokrTomPdx (Tom) with input from Fierysand (Sandie). Let me state up front that this review will sound very negative, and I don't mean for it to, we enjoyed our cruise and many of the aspects of the trip, but I cannot ignore the negatives, and to be fair, I shouldn't. Our first cruises were on the Royal Caribbean Monarch of the Seas and the Carnival Paradise. Both of these ships did cruises out of Los Angeles (Long Beach) to Catalina and Ensenada. Both are smaller ships of their respective lines and are the basis of any comparisons that I made when looking at this cruise. When we booked this cruise our expectations were a little lower then if we were booking a regular itinerary for a ship because it was a repositioning cruise. We arrived for check-in around noon, which appeared to be a good time as we were able to walk right up to the check-in desk and were promptly handled by one of the agents. A few minutes of verifying paperwork and swiping a credit card and we were directed to board the ship. We learned something new on this cruise that we suspected earlier. Arriving early for check-in works to our favor and gets us aboard quickly. Score! We boarded the ship and headed to the Windjammer Restaurant for the lunch buffet. This was the first of a few disappointments for the cruise. The food for the boarding lunch was dry and bland, compared to the Monarch we were greatly disappointed and hoped that it was not the norm for this Windjammer. Sandie's comment: The food in the Windjammer on the Vision was way better then the Radiance. Unfortunately this did prove to be the norm for the Windjammer on this cruise but of course Sandie disagrees. Every time we ate in the Windjammer we found the food to be dry and relatively bland, there were a few dishes that broke the pattern but not many. Again, Sandie disagrees! When the staterooms were available we visited our stateroom and while we had an interior cabin the layout of the room made it feel larger then our previous visits to the Monarch. Our stateroom was set up with the beds together in the queen configuration, which pleased us since we did not need to request it. Additionally our Crown and Anchor books and the Terry Robes that were part of our reservation bonus were in the room waiting for us. One disappointment here was that we did not see our stateroom attendant until the 3rd day of the cruise, while he was taking care of our cabin he really did not seem interested in addressing any personal cares we may have had. Fortunately we didn't have any. Sandie got a great stateroom attendant. We loved the layout of the ship and how easy it was to get from one area to another. We were in the Centrum quite a bit and enjoyed the music that was often played in that area. The mandatory muster drill went rather quickly and our muster leader had a great attitude and did what he could to make the whole muster drill more enjoyable then it could have been. Dinner in the Aquarius Dining Room was fantastic; we were not disappointed once by the quality of the food or the service that we received there. We ate dinner in the Aquarius every night, breakfast every morning but one, and lunch twice. Where the Windjammer disappointed the Aquarius made up for. The shows put on in the main theater were enjoyable, however once again we were disappointed by the shortsightedness of some of the staff. There was a large group on the cruise that needed use of the main theatre and the staff changed the show time for the second night's second show without notifying the guests. From what I understand when the curtain raised there were around 25 people in the audience because most of the audience showed up 15-30 minutes after the show started because they expected the show at 10:45 and it started at 10:15. I took advantage of snacks in the Solarium diner a few times and was greatly disappointed by the quality of the food and the attitude of the staff. When I asked for something from the Solarium Staff I was made to feel as if my request was an imposition or annoyance, they much preferred to continue chatting with their crewmates rather than serve the guests. Sandie did not eat in the Solarium so she cannot comment but Sandie thinks the crew is AMAZING!!! The wait staff & bartender in the Schooner Lounge was attentive of us as guests and we were impressed with how much they seemed to care about our trip. The best bartenders on the ship are Rommel, Dordi, Diego, Orlando, Nestor, Tishar, and Karl!!! The Casino table game staff did not seem to know what they were doing, it seemed as if I constantly had to remind them that they did not pay a bet, did not remove a lost bet, or they just did not seem to understand their games themselves. My biggest disappointment in the Casino came from the Texas Hold-Em table, which was only opened once during the cruise, was dealt by a dealer that did not seem to understand the game, and had an outrageous rake of 10% to $10 per hand, most poker rooms, including the poker table on Carnival Paradise, only rake $3-$4 per hand and lower that rake when they don't have a full game. Internet Access, both on the ship terminals and wireless was sporadic at best. I often had 5 bars when I was wireless and could not even connect to the ships server to sign in. When using the ships terminals I rarely was able to get past the login screen and was signed out several times when I attempted to go to Gmail or the Cruise Critic forums. Lastly, Disembarking the ship in Victoria, BC was a chaotic mess, on previous trips the elevators to the gangway were disabled for the gangway deck so that guests could line up from the upper deck and not be dropped by the elevator in the beginning of the crowd allowing late comers to move in front of other guests that had been waiting patiently for the gangway to be placed and opened for disembarking. Instead guests that did not feel the need to wait in line were allowed to move in front of other guests and were being directed into place by the activities director, this really hit a sore spot for me. While I identified a lot of negatives in this review overall we did enjoy ourselves, but we can see several areas where the crew of the Vision of the Seas could improve if this is reflective of their normal attitude. Hopefully we can schedule a trip on the Vision when it is on a regular itinerary and we can see what a trip then would be like. Personally, Sandie thinks we must have been on a different cruise, because Sandie has no complaints and thinks that the ship and its crew were fantastic!!!!!!!!!! Read Less
Sail Date April 2007
My wife and I booked this cruise for our 20th wedding anniversary. We had previously taken a 4-day Catalina/Enseneda cruise aboard the Carnival Ecstasy. I had been told by most people that we would probably enjoy the Royal Caribbean ... Read More
My wife and I booked this cruise for our 20th wedding anniversary. We had previously taken a 4-day Catalina/Enseneda cruise aboard the Carnival Ecstasy. I had been told by most people that we would probably enjoy the Royal Caribbean experience more than our experience with Carnival. I can say that overall, they were right. We had a great time and really enjoyed ourselves. I used the message board and cruise reviews before we booked the cruise and I can say that the tips we learned really helped out a great deal. We took a Taxi to the cruise terminal and were very disappointed. The web site for the terminal recommends Checker Cab and we called them. They suggested the rate might be in the neighborhood of $30 to $50. They ended up transferring our fare to Yellow Cab who charged us $75 and we had to give directions! We had a one way flight back from Vancouver aboard Alaska Airlines that gave us plenty of time to explore Vancouver before our flight left. We booked Execucar from the airport back home and were very pleased. It cost us a little over $100 for this return trip and it was much more pleasant. You can book Execucar from the SuperShuttle web site but I suggest you call them. They have more booking options than are available on-line, including transportation to the port. Embarkation was a snap. We arrived at about 2:30pm and there was NOBODY in line. We were told our cabin was already ready. When we got on board we went directly to our cabin to unload our carry-on luggage where we were met by our cabin steward. He introduced himself, got our names, told us when he was on duty and how to use the "Make up my room" and "Do not Disturb" cards. He was very visible and after that one introduction he addressed me by name every time after that. We had an inside stateroom on the second deck, one of the least expensive options, and the service felt first class! We were unhappy with the bed in the room though. It was made up as a queen as it should have been but the bed was hard and you could feel the separation between the mattresses. I realize this is probably standard for this type of cabin, but we were not comfortable and had a hard time getting a good rest. The rest of the stateroom was very nice for what we remember getting on our last cruise. There were plenty of lighting options, a good-sized closet, plenty of drawer space and the customary tiny bathroom. The ship layout was outstanding. We had no trouble getting around at all! We didn't have to change decks to get from one end of the ship to the other as we have in the past. I took advantage of the two offered spinning classes on board and we did the couples massage where we learned some good techniques. This was a nice class. We noticed that there was plenty to choose from through the spa and the schedules were liberal enough that there seemed to be room in almost any program. The fitness center was a little small though with many machines requiring some amount of waiting if you like a morning workout. The food in the Windjammer was ordinary but there was a good variety and it all tasted pretty good. We found that most of the dishes were similar to what was offered in the Aquarius dining room, but the food temperature and appearance was typical for a buffet; lukewarm and overcooked. I think that is probably unavoidable for the size of the buffet and the number of people that they had to serve. We ate breakfast there every morning except one, lunch the first day only (we almost never ate a lunch) and dinner there on two occasions. We did enjoy the pasta and stir-fry bar where food was prepared to you liking while you waited. The Aquarius dining room food was outstanding but the service was just OK. Our waiter was good but the assistant was often missing in action. We had trouble getting drink refills for soda in particular and if you wanted more than one piece of bread you had to ask. If the bread plate is empty, another should be offered, unless you are at the end of your main course. Our waiter should have noticed this and corrected it. When we brought it to his attention it only marginally improved. We had main seating dining, which was a 6:00pm. A little too early for me as it seemed to interfere with our schedules, which is why we only ate there three of the five times, instead of all five. We only had a couple of occasions to get anything from the Solarium Cafe. It always seemed busy but what we did have was good. I know to stay away from hamburgers at places like this, so we did have a slice of pizza and a hot dog. I will say that the Carnival Ecstasy had the casual dining food down much better. They had much more to offer poolside than Royal Caribbean. If you are the type that expects to eat when you want to instead of according to pre-set breakfast/lunch/dinner scheduled windows, then you might be disappointed by the offerings at the Solarium Cafe. The soda was disappointing with most of it being served from warm 2-liter bottles over ice. This really destroys the taste as it really releases the carbonation from the drink while it is being pored instead of while it is being consumed. The bottles should have been pre-chilled or they should have used a soda fountain. I was guessing this was removed due to bacteria concerns. Pouring from 2-liter bottles is much better from that perspective. I should also mention that there was plenty of anti-bacterial liquid available on the ship. It was prominent and there were plenty of signs asking people to keep their hands clean to avoid illness to themselves and other passengers. We did not book any Shore Excursion in San Francisco, choosing instead to use you own exploration. We had a GREAT time exploring Fisherman's Warf, Pier 39, Lombard Street, Downtown, Coit Tower, Ghiradelli Square and a few other tourist type attractions. We ate a late lunch at Pier 39 and skipped the dining room, choosing instead to lounge at the Solarium pool and take pictures as we passed under the Golden Gate bridge coming out of the harbor. In Victoria we booked the Buchart Gardens and Butterfly Gardens tour. We purchased this tour on the Internet before we left. Our tickets were delivered to our cabin as promised. Our tour guide, Albert, was EXCELLENT. He gave us the right advice about the weather, how long to take in the gardens, advice about the gift shops, etc. Embarkation and Disembarkation from the ship in Victoria was a problem though. The ship cleared customs later than planned and the captain never did announce when that was. A bunch of people congregated in the hallways to leave. They had staff there to direct traffic, but it wasn't pretty. Security for re-embarkation was done on the ship, which slowed things down quite a bit for getting back on. In most ports there are multiple security checkpoints in the port before you get on. Not so here. We booked the Vancouver tour and airport drop-off after we boarded the ship. We were happy that we did this because it meant we were some of the first off ship. This worked out great, as long as you read the ticket correctly and went to the proper waiting point. We did, some did not and they had problems. We heard people complaining but we didn't have any complaints ourselves. The tour was delayed and we were not scheduled to arrive at the airport until 12:30. Some had flights that were scheduled to leave just after 2:00 pm and didn't feel that this was enough time to check bags, get through customs and get on the plane. That was probably right. I don't know what happened with them. The tour was OK but there was way too much traffic and road closures due to construction caused the driver to take unexpected detours. It was the unexpected part that bothered us. He should have known about road closures and planned accordingly. The entertainment was better than average and we especially liked the final act in the Aquarius. We had no problem with the show schedules as they were all posted correctly in the cruise compass. As long as you read everything and followed the published schedule there was no problem with the show times. Obviously this was a problem for many though as the magician had a very small audience for the 7:15pm show. We enjoyed the comedians and even went to the final night, late-night show. That brings me to one other complaint I had about the cruise and that is you had to read everything very carefully each day. We missed deadline to have the tips added to your stateroom. On our last cruise the customary tips were automatically added if you didn't indicate otherwise by the day before disembarkation. We expected the same from this cruise and didn't read the paperwork carefully, meaning we ended up having to get cash and put it in the little envelopes, hoping that they actually reached the right people. The Internet access was very disappointing. It didn't work in all of the areas where they published it should be working. The purser's desk told us that they knew there were problems on some of the floors. The kiosks were very slow, causing us to have to pay more than we should have. Don't count on it for doing business. Finally, we did encounter rougher seas between San Francisco and Victoria. We had read this might be case from others here on Cruise Critic so we were prepared. This was a good thing as many of our shipmates had problems. The ship had placed sickness bags on the banisters for those that were having problems. In all, the cruise experience aboard this ship was excellent. We really loved the choice of ports and the on-board experience was better than we expected. We would do this cruise again and highly recommend this particular ship. Listen to the ship's announcements, read the material delivered to your stateroom and if you have a question, ask someone. Everyone was VERY HELPFUL. Read Less
Sail Date April 2007
Radiance of the Seas Review: September 16, 2006 Pacific Northwest Cruise My husband and I departed from Vancouver, British Columbia on September 16, 2006 on a seven night Pacific Northwest one-way repositioning cruise aboard Royal ... Read More
Radiance of the Seas Review: September 16, 2006 Pacific Northwest Cruise My husband and I departed from Vancouver, British Columbia on September 16, 2006 on a seven night Pacific Northwest one-way repositioning cruise aboard Royal Caribbean's Radiance of the Seas; a relaxing voyage calling on Nanaimo and Victoria in British Columbia, Astoria Oregon and San Francisco. Our final destination was Los Angeles, California, with two days at sea. As you may already know, the Radiance has a seasonal itinerary that takes it to Alaska in the summer and to Hawaii and through the Panama Canal before arriving in south Florida, where she winters. We had a very enjoyable cruise and wouldn't hesitate to do it again. Not every aspect of the cruise was perfect, but we didn't have any major issues that put a damper on our vacation. And we found the ship, our accommodations, service and overall value to far exceed our expectations. Ship Overview The Radiance of the Seas is the first Radiance class ship to be built; it is slightly larger than Royal Caribbean's Vision class ships and a little smaller than Voyager class ships. Its design incorporates the best of both ships, including a solarium and lots of glass everywhere, making it perfect for Alaska and the Pacific Northwest as the glass provides lots of windbreaks. It also has a lot of the features that have made Voyager class ships so popular, including a rock climbing wall and two alternative restaurants. If you ask people who are familiar with Royal Caribbean's fleet, they will tell you it has many Voyager class ship features without the hoards of people. As a fan of Voyager class ships, I can see why so many people consider the Radiance class of ships their favorite. Its interior is done in muted colors and has a very upscale feel to it. The designers did a great job incorporating all the windows - those glass elevators overlooking the water while the ship is in motion are not to be missed! The Radiance was built in 2000, making it six years old. It's a fairly large ship, weighing in at around 90,000 tons; it can accommodate around 2500 people, though it was announced that we had about 2100 people. The ship was surprisingly well maintained and sparkling clean; there had been another Norwalk Virus breakout a few weeks earlier, so all the public areas were kept very clean. This issue also had a few negatives; until the captain gave the order to relax the 'outbreak procedures' no one could serve themselves in the Windjammer Buffet. This caused long lines and a lot of headaches, as they didn't bother to open up the formal dining room to ease some of the congestion. Eventually, by mid-cruise, we could serve ourselves in the buffet lines, but until then, it took twice as long to eat breakfast or lunch. Embarkation We flew into Seattle and took the cruise line bus to the port in Vancouver. After collecting our luggage, we checked in with the Royal Caribbean reps who handle the bus transfers. We waited about 20 minutes, got on the bus and arrived at Canada Place three hours later. The bus ride over took longer than our flight to Seattle! The tour bus that transported us wasn't in the best shape, but it was convenient and we arrived exactly like they said we would. We got off the bus, checked in and found that our cabin on Deck 7 wasn't ready. A land-based company was replacing all balcony dividers, and they were still working on the cabins on our deck. About the time they were announcing the lifeboat drill was when we finally could go to our room. Was it a little irritating to not be able to get to you room? Sure, but what can you do; we went to eat a late lunch and then it was off to the lifeboat drill. By the time we returned to our room, our luggage was outside our door, so we proceeded to unpack; then it was off to the Concierge Lounge to decompress. Our Stateroom We had a low-end balcony on deck 7, a very 'standard' stateroom with a nice balcony towards the front of the ship which we received as an upgrade. It was tastefully decorated; our two beds were moved together and made up as a queen size bed. The beds were okay, and by cruise end, we got used to it. But they weren't in the best of shape - some lumps and bumps mostly. I understand that the Radiance is scheduled to get new beds, so by the time you cruise, this may be a mute point. As a side note, I never sleep that well in strange beds, so more often than not, I have to make due with what we get. The only exception was on our last Carnival cruise in February; that bed was better than any other we have had on a cruise! The room had a small couch, a glass topped coffee table and a lighted vanity desk. Storage wasn't a problem, as we had two night stands, shelf storage in and around the vanity with a few drawers, as well as a divided closet with shelves and hangers. There was a minibar/refrigerator in our cabin though we never used it. Our on-board telephone had a great voice mail system, so new friends and people traveling with you can leave you a message anytime. The bathroom came equipped with shampoo and soap, but no conditioner. The shampoo can double as a nice body wash, but I wouldn't recommend it for your hair. There was a hair dryer in the vanity - it worked quite well, so I never used the one I packed. I found the storage space in the bathroom more than met our needs, and I always seem to over pack when it comes to toiletries, so I'm pretty sure you too will find the storage space adequate. All in all, I really had no disappointments when it came to our stateroom. At 200+ square feet plus another 45 on the balcony, we found our room very comfortable. Our balcony was everything you would expect a balcony to be. I know people who would never cruise with anything less than a balcony stateroom; but I have to be honest with you, those times we cruised in inside or outside accommodations were no worse than our balcony, as we never spent much time in any of our rooms. Having the additional square footage that comes with a balcony is by far the best benefit I can see. But on most new ships, even inside cabins these days have larger rooms. At least that is what I have noticed. It's up to you whether it's worth spending the extra money on a balcony. If you do, I recommend you make an effort to use it! Public Areas of the Ship All in all, the public areas of the ship such as the Aurora Theater show lounge, the many bars around the ship, the pool areas and the dining room were tastefully decorated. The Radiance is now six years old, and with constant use, it does in places, show some wear and tear. But for the most part, it's in good repair and it's very clean. Everyone from officers, to management to custodial staff to service personnel were for the most part friendly and professional. What Is There To Do? You will find destination & shopping lectures presented by cruise staff and guest lecturers, a fully equipped Shipshape Fitness Center with state-of-the-art gym and aerobics room, and a full service spa with sauna/steam rooms and massage. There are three swimming pools, including one with a retractable roof and several whirlpool spas. There's also a couple of 'way cool' self-leveling pool tables, a sports court with basketball (no volleyball), a jogging track and a rock climbing wall. All in all, you will find quite a bit to keep you entertained when you are NOT in ports of call. Like Voyager class ships, all Radiance class of ships were designed for the more active person in mind. Formal and Informal Dining A lot has been written about the food one can get on a cruise ship, and yes, you'll find plenty to eat on the Radiance of the Seas. But the quality of the food one gets today is NOT what it used to be, even if the quantity is the same. I found the dinners we ate in the formal dining to be very good, but NOT outstanding; meaning it was comparable to the quality you would expect from a mid-range restaurant. I always managed to find something I liked. Our meals were warm, but never piping hot; the service was excellent and special requests were accommodated cheerfully. This is NOT four star cuisine, however, the menu items were tastefully presented, and offerings included escargot, refreshing cold soups, and lobster tail and rack of lamb. Suffice it to say, everyone at our table came away having enjoyed their dinner. The Windjammer Buffet is where we ate breakfast and lunch most days. It was standard buffet type food; nothing out of the ordinary, but lots of fresh fruit, home baked breads and pastries for breakfast as well as eggs and pancakes. At lunch, there were sandwiches and hot food items, a salad bar and even pizza. The Windjammer buffet was always busy, so staff was constantly refilling empty food containers with fresh items. As I mentioned earlier, the formal dining room was never open for lunch on days we were in port. It was such a chore to eat in the Windjammer early in the week - long lines, rude people everywhere cutting in, overworked staff members serving the food, and finally, never being able to find a clean table! Thankfully, the 'outbreak' procedures were relaxed by the fourth day and the Windjammer got back to normal! On the two days at sea, the dining room was open for both breakfast and lunch and we made a point of eating there. The lunch menu was just okay, and the quality of the food wasn't really any better than what you could get up at the Windjammer, in my opinion. But you didn't have to fight the crowds, so it was more relaxing and much less stressful. I never ate dinner up at the buffet, but heard it was 'just okay'; people remarked that many of the same dinner items served in the formal dining room were available in the buffet but were consistently less fresh and dried out. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly It's been a while since we took a "perfect" vacation; our trip to the Maui Four Season's a few years ago comes to mind. Although enjoyable, our cruise had a few minor "issues" that are probably not even worth mentioning - they weren't enough to put a damper on our vacation. Suffice it to say, they guy who ran the Concierge Lounge had his 'favorite' past guests' and pretty much ignored everyone else. This was by no means a problem for us, as we stuck pretty much to ourselves and we had no problems going up to the bar to request drinks. Willie, the Concierge, had a tendency to be short with some passengers (like me) when asked for assistance; others we spoke to felt he was the best Concierge ever! Therefore, please take my comments with a grain of salt - I have never met this person before, so it could be he was just having a bad day! In case you are wondering, the Concierge Lounge is a very nice past guest perk for Diamond and above Crown & Anchor Society members (Royal Caribbean's past guest program - Diamond level is 10 cruises or more) and for high-end suite passengers where they serve complementary drinks every night from 5:00pm-8:30pm. The evening lounge was in the Hollywood Odyssey Lounge, Deck 13, but the Concierge was located on Deck 10. Our second "issue" really wasn't Royal Caribbean's fault, as it had to do with rude and aggressive passengers. Not sure why there were so many aboard this particular sailing, but they were out in-force EVERYWHERE! The 'outbreak' procedures in the Windjammer probably caused this, however, once they relaxed a bit, it did get better. Ports of Call The reason we booked this cruise was for the ports of call. We had never visited Nanaimo, Victoria or Astoria, so it was a real treat to explore these ports of call. We also called on San Francisco, and made the decision to visit areas we had never been to, so getting off the ship was a real adventure. In San Francisco, Nanaimo and Victoria, we booked shore excursions through Royal Caribbean. They were well run and enjoyable. We took a walking tour of the city in Nanaimo - it was very informative and I came away learning about its culture and history. In Victoria, we visited Buchart Gardens and a small winery. I felt we didn't have enough time at the Gardens, so next time I would NOT do a forma tour, but rather go on my own. In Astoria, we had access to a car and drove up and down the coast - from the mouth of the Columbia River to CannonBeach. That was by far the best day we had in port. In San Francisco, we took a tour to Muir Woods and Sausalito; it was okay - however, one hour was not enough time at Muir Woods. Sausalito was okay if you liked strolling up and down a tourist hot spot - restaurants, tee shirt stores and art galleries. About Us We are in our 40's - work full time and have no kids. We enjoy scuba diving, skiing and hiking vacations and although we do enjoy cruising, it's not the only type of vacation we take. I lead 'active' cruise groups for Cruise Critic a few times a year and occasionally we cruise to simply 'get a way' - as was the case this time. I also used to consult for the cruise lines 'education' programs years ago when they restructured their kid's programs. We run into many 'cruise experts' who cruise all the time - they are on a first name basis with ship staff and seem to be 'in the know' when it comes to the ship all the time! Many work in the travel industry or are retired. Many cruise to cruise - the ports of call tend not to always be that high up on their list of priorities. I am just the opposite - the ports of call are more important to me than the cruise 'experience' or the ship. Sure, when given a choice between identical itineraries I will go with the ship that gets the better reviews, is recommended or somehow offers me 'something special'. But please note that I base my decision to cruise on the itinerary. Please don't hesitate to email me if you have any questions. Read Less
Sail Date September 2006
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