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1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: March 2019
Bucket-list cruise. Check-in was a bit rough: new program scanned my wife's passport and said she was born on some tropical island I've never heard of; a supervisor had to be called to update the location to NY. Night 2, around ... Read More
Bucket-list cruise. Check-in was a bit rough: new program scanned my wife's passport and said she was born on some tropical island I've never heard of; a supervisor had to be called to update the location to NY. Night 2, around 9:45, we were in the Schooner bar having a drink and listening to Joy Wade the piano player. He was going along quite nicely, until he got bored or ran out of popular songs, and then started playing something that talked about sex and killing someone. There were a few nervous laughs from the folks sitting nearby, but we found it inappropriate and walked out. We're not prudes, but that was out of line. The rest of our cruise was great. We found the food in the main dining room to be much better than what we had on Freedom last year; even the choices in the Windjammer were better. The forays off the ship were eye-opening. We did a mix of RCCL and Costco excursions. We enjoyed them all, but driving through the impoverished areas with the shanties and garbage strewn everywhere made me feel sad. And Colon, Panama looked like Dresden after the bombings of WW2. Cartagena was beautiful. We did a Dora tour and we highly recommend it. 4 hours total between driving and walking around the city. The vendors are relentless, but a firm "No, gracias" usually did the trick. There was a running commentary during our Panama Canal transit, which was very informative. The ship was very clean, and the crew was constantly wiping down/disinfecting the common areas and handrails. We were asked EVERY day about dining in the specialty restaurants. We actually went to Chops Grill on embarkation day as part of The Key package, and dined at Giovanni's Table on the last night on board; both were excellent. Speaking of The Key, I highly recommend it. For 20 bucks per day per person, you get a lot of perks. We walked on the ship with the Diamond and Pinnacle folks, we had the free luncheon at Chops, we had the Voom Internet and streaming package on our phones for the whole cruise, we had some free and then half-price drinks, we had a bottle of sparkling wine waiting in our cabin on day 1, we had priority disembarkation at all the ports, we had reserved seats at all the shows, we had an a la carte breakfast in the dining room on the last day, and we could walk off the ship whenever we were ready to go. Everything was pretty smooth (even if the ocean wasn't on a couple of days, turning the pools into wave pools), until the day we ended in Miami. The breakfast for The Key was very nice, but afterwards, there was supposed to be someone there to escort folks to the gangway; it's no big deal, we found our way off the ship by ourselves. It was a nice touch to see Andrea, the cruise director, waiting by the gangway and wishing each guest safe travels. After getting our luggage and going through customs, there was no one from the crew directing people to the shuttle buses for the airports; there were crew members there with signs for excursions, though! We eventually found our ride, but a little nudge in the right direction would have helped. Overall, we had a really nice time on this once-in-a-lifetime (for us) cruise. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2019
Nice ship, just the right size for this type of cruise. Nice crew. The waiters in the main ding room went out of their way to remember what your favorite food items were. Disappointed that our spacious ocean view balcony was really an ... Read More
Nice ship, just the right size for this type of cruise. Nice crew. The waiters in the main ding room went out of their way to remember what your favorite food items were. Disappointed that our spacious ocean view balcony was really an obstructed barely ocean view balcony (still awaiting a response from RCCL on that one). Good food. Windjammer was actually a nice experience on this ship with a great variety at lunch. Excellent Chef’s Table. Service slow in both Giovanni’s and Chops, but good food. Decent shows. Five of the six ports were good, the exception being Colon, Panama - a disgusting, dirty, garbage strewn city as soon as you leave the confines of the port. The only good part of our tour was going to the Agua Clara Locks Visitor Center, but we barely had any time there. Thrilling to transit the canal. Even though the ship is older, they keep it immaculate. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
We typically cruise with Carnival, but wanted to do a full transit through the Panama Canal, which Carnival rarely offers. So we booked a cruise on Jewel of the Seas, we have been on Explorer of the Seas back in 2002. We have been on nine ... Read More
We typically cruise with Carnival, but wanted to do a full transit through the Panama Canal, which Carnival rarely offers. So we booked a cruise on Jewel of the Seas, we have been on Explorer of the Seas back in 2002. We have been on nine cruises, we are in our mid sixties, husband and wife. We have never had a bad cruise and we did enjoy Jewel, Some people might be upset that I am doing a comparison, but it may help explain our views on the ship and may help others deciding what cruise line is best for them. Our cruise left on March 13th out of San Diego, we did an overnight in Cabo San Lucas, next port was Puerto Vallarta, Puerto Quetzal Guatemala, Puntarenas Costa Rica, cruising through the Canal, Colon Panama, Cartagena Columbia, ending in Miami on March 29th. Embarkation: We arrived a day early in San Diego and stayed at The Courtyard in Liberty Station. Embarkation on the 13th seemed to take longer than Carnivals, with both there are long lines, Carnival seems to move all the time, we stood barely moving in Royals lines for about 45 minutes. We headed to Windjammer for lunch as expected, it was crowded. Lido Marketplace on Carnival is even more difficult to get a seat on the first day, but Carnival has alternatives to go to and avoid the crowd, we usually go to Guy’s Pig and Anchor BBQ or Pasta Bella, which are free for lunch but away from the crowds. It would have been nice to have an alternative on Jewel, say lunch in the main dining room. Ship Décor: Jewel of the Seas is much more toned down and drab, I am used to the bright, flashy décor on Carnival. That being said, she is a lovely ship once I got used to the subdued look. I found her very easy to learn my way about the ship, I rarely got lost. The Coral Theater have great line of sight and as long as you arrived to the shows about 30 minutes early, there was no problem finding a great seat. Most shows were full by the time they started. Windjammer could get very crowded, but we tend to eat lunch early and I loved the outside tables. The main dining room was nice too, but I felt the tables were too crowded together, it could be difficult just maneuvering to get to your table. Schooner Bar and Safari Club were lovely; we often got an afternoon drink at the Schooner Bar. And I often read or did my sewing (appliqué) sitting in Vintages, I loved the big windows to look out. We don’t gamble, though the casino was quite pretty and we don’t use the spa or gym. The Solarium was probably the most beautiful part of the ship, both in the décor and plants, it beats Carnival’s Serenity hands down in ambiance. I was really looking forward to spending time here, boy was I disappointed. There are not only lounge chairs, but there are tables with chairs which is nice when getting a snack at Solarium Café. But what happened is that groups of people would come and sit at the tables, conversing loudly, spoiling what should be a quiet area. On cool days, people who sit at the outdoor pool took all the seating inside. Noisy music from the pool deck bled in every time the doors opened. And I found the bird noises annoying after a short time. After the first two days of trying to enjoy the Solarium, I was chased off by the lack of serenity to the area. I ended up spending the time I would have in the Solarium at Vintages. Cabin: We almost always get a balcony cabin. First off, I was disappointed that the view over the side of the ship was obstructed by the roof over the lifeboats. You could look out just fine, but not down to see the ship cutting through the water. This was my mistake as I should have checked to see if there was a sight line down (if you have a balcony at the front of the ship, the roof does not extend there). The room itself felt smaller than Carnival’s cabins, it only had a loveseat instead of a sofa. But Jewel’s actual balcony was probably twice as large as what we get on Carnival. The railing on Jewel was right at sightline when sitting in the chair, you had to bend down to see the horizon. Carnival’s is positioned differently as I never had a problem seeing the horizon. The bed was fine, a bit hard but we had no trouble sleeping on it. The cabins seemed to be soundproofed well, either that or we had quiet neighbors. We did not get much hall noise either (unlike Carnival where the partiers make a lot of noise). The bathroom has less storage of toiletries than Carnival, but the shower with a door is far better than Carnival’s curtain which does not keep the water in. Entertainment: The shows offered in the Coral Theater were good to excellent. My biggest problem was the lack of choices. There was usually one show: dance production, singers, comedian, juggler, hypnotist, etc. Carnival offers a show in the theater and four different routines in the comedy club every night. We were always busy going back and forth. On Jewell we usually went to bed after the show, nothing else offered that interested us. (We are not into Trivia or karaoke). There were a few shows in the Centrum, like finish the phrase, copy cat, dance moves which were entertaining, but seating was limited around the Centrum. Live Music: We enjoyed the Jewel Orchestra very much, supper talented bunch of musicians. There was duo of strings offered occasionally in Centrum and Mood Icons were good. Activities: My favorite activity on Jewel was the knit, crochet, and sew group that met every sea day in Vintages. I had brought handwork specifically for sea days and was pleased to see they offered a group meeting (self lead). I met several wonderful ladies that share a passion of handiwork. Bingo is another favorite of ours, but the bingo costs more than on Carnival. We typically buy six cards to play, Carnival offers this for $29.95 for three games. Jewel had a six card offered for $29.95 for one game a couple of times and $39.95 for three games other times. A lot of money to play bingo. But I have to admit, the final day of bingo on Royal is better. Carnival offers $5000.00 in a coverall, but if no one wins after 50 balls are drawn, reverts back to just a percentage of the take. Royal offers a free cruise and they play until someone wins. We also signed up for the galley tour which we were very interested in, it was offered three times during the cruise. It was offered on the first sea day, we wanted to explore the ship. We booked the second time it was offered, but found out it was the same time as the lecture on the building of the canal, which we did not want to miss. So we booked it the last sea day, showed up and were told it was canceled due to lack of attendance. Fellow Cruisers: We usually do a seven day cruise on Carnival and you do get a lot of partiers. For a 16 day cruise I figured it would be an older crowd and I was right, my guess is the medium age was 70s to early 80s. The other interesting thing we noticed, Carnival sells a lot of beer, very few people had beer on Jewell. The drink of choice is wine. The activities reflected that this is an older group. Dress in the dining room: Carnival and Jewell are very similar in dress code. We had three formal nights, few ball gowns and suits, but mostly nice dresses and sport coats and ties. Casual was the same for both, my husband wore shorts every night with nothing said. My Time Dining: When I booked the cruise the traditional dining was booked full for the early slot and I don’t like to eat late. So I booked My Time Dining. I found that I could book a reservation for My Time Dining, which I did for 6:00 pm every day. It worked out wonderfully, we had the same table for two every night right at a window. Granted the tables for two were close together and we really liked the two couples next to us at tables for two. But if we had not cared for them, we could have ignored them as we weren’t really sitting with them. We always walked right in and were seated immediately. Crew and Staff: This was the biggest jolt to me, on Carnival every single employee whether staff or deck hand, met your eyes when passing and have a smile on their face. I was shocked at how the crew usually avoided eye contact and rarely smiled. They did not make me feel welcome on the ship. Our personal attendants in the stateroom and in the dining room were fantastic. Very attentive and made sure our every request was met. There were many attendants in Windjammer that were friendly and happy to see us. On Carnival I would say that 99% of the employees have a smile on their face and are happy to see me, even just passing. Royal I would say maybe 50% are that way. We saw the cruise director at the beginning of the shows in the Coral Theater and that is about all we ever saw him. Carnival’s cruise directors are much more visible and inactive with the passengers. We always have a Q & A with Carnival’s cruise director which is very entertaining. Not so on the Jewel. Food: This is a very subjective topic, but we found the food to be good to excellent. Windjammer at lunch had a great variety and usually very good. We loved the curry dishes and they usually had all different kinds of roast chicken, stews, and good assortment of vegetables. But, Carnival has Guy’s Burgers and the Mexican Cantina, which are fantastic. Windjammer had hamburgers that I would not even try, they looked gray and dry. Windjammer usually has cookies, mousse, custard pies, a chocolate cake and fruit for dessert. Sometimes a warm dessert was offered such as rice pudding or peach cobbler. Carnival has a dessert station with tempting an assortment cakes and pastries. The main dining room had good food, just not much variety. Appetizers had two to three different offerings, then always had French Onion soup, Cesar salad, shrimp cocktail, and maybe a few more. Main offerings usually had two seafood, a beef, lamb or duck, a vegetarian, and always had a roast chicken breast and New York Strip. Desserts had two different options, then every night had cheesecake, crème Brule, chocolate cake, fruit and ice cream. Carnival’s menus have very few repeats in any category. We happened to go up twice after dinner to see what Windjammer had and felt we might be better off there. One time they had a whole roast turkey, what was offered in the main dining room was turkey roll. On the last night they had a chocolate buffet (which was not advertised in the compass). Beverage packages; We do not usually buy beverage packages, I don’t drink much and my husband has a beer or two. On Jewel they offered a refreshment package, which I was able to buy just for me. This is a great deal. In the morning I would get specialty coffee at the Lattatudes, at breakfast I would get fresh squeezed orange juice and I used the freestyle machines to get soda , sparkling water and carbonated water, in different flavors It does not include alcohol but I was very satisfied to get fruit slushies at night. It was a great package and I would buy it again in a heartbeat (I got it on a black Friday sale for $17.00 a day). My husband likes beer on tap and Jewel offered 10 beer for $49.50 (they had to be on tap, which works for him). App on board: On Jewel we had to use a paper to find out activities (the compass). For menus we had to find an interactive screen near the dining room. For our bill, we had to look on the TV. This all seems very primitive compared to the Carnival App. On the Carnival App (at no charge) we can see menus for the entire cruise, hours of operation, all activities (and can like them so it reminds us when it is coming up and tell us which of our party is going), our shipboard charges, all on our phone. And there is a chat feature to talk to others in my party for $5.00, one time charge. Conclusion: When considering a cruise, if all ports and time is equal, we will choose a Carnival cruise. But I now love a long cruise, which Carnival does not offer. I would certainly book another Royal cruise, on the whole I was pretty happy with it. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2019
We love Royal and especially Royal sailing in our backyard in San Diego California! You should know about embarkation - Royal doesn't have their own terminal in California, so they were using another cruise company's ... Read More
We love Royal and especially Royal sailing in our backyard in San Diego California! You should know about embarkation - Royal doesn't have their own terminal in California, so they were using another cruise company's facility. This meant a little more chaos then we had seen at Galveston or Miami. The process for platinum up to diamond category was no faster than a first cruiser would have taken, as the only short lines were for key program or pinnacle. No benefits for loyalty points, unless the top tier or paid. Once on board, we explored this smaller ship in a short time. Finding a comfortable bar, and staying put until the cabin is ready. We booked this cruise late, meaning we were able to book an ocean view, not a typical balcony. We were blessed to bid an upgrade and received a balcony cabin on the 10th floor. The ports and excursions: Leaving San Diego, the ship stayed two days in Cabo and Puerto Vallarta. Although we had visited both these ports before, the weather in March was wonderful. Our stops in Central America were new to us, so we were excited to everywhere. The service was as usual fantastic by room steward and dining room staff. We would definitely cruise on the Jewel and other Radiance class ships, as long as we were not under the Windjammer. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: March 2019
We picked it for the Cruise Destinations, thru the Panama. Started in San Diego, loved SD, stay at the Sheraton (close to airport and cruise port) and walked around, to Little Italy, the docks, Dinner at the Fish Market. We love the ... Read More
We picked it for the Cruise Destinations, thru the Panama. Started in San Diego, loved SD, stay at the Sheraton (close to airport and cruise port) and walked around, to Little Italy, the docks, Dinner at the Fish Market. We love the Jewel, food and service, superb! Clean and not small not huge. Los Cabos - walked around, visiting shops, stopped at a cpl bars for Mexican home made salsa and guac, Margaritas, people watching around the Marina, whale watching the 1st afternoon - private excursion about 8 of us so went out to Lands End too. Puerto Vallarta - met great friends and went to Marriott Resort, day pass, had access to pool and Ocean, lounge chairs, bar and food, was beautiful, safe, fun! Peurto Quetzel, Guatamala- RC excursion - Coffee Plantation etc, very good narration out to the farm and sight seeing there and back. Great coffee too! Punterenas Cost Rica, did a private excursion with 6 new cruise buddies, comfy, AC van, with Dimas Saravua Azcarate Tours, met us at the dock, wild monkey stop - not a stop on the road but natural habitat private farm area, zipling - outstanding, and Wild Adventures Croc cruise in the river, then lunch on one of the nearby mtns overlooking the Ocean and countryside, Dimas was Great! the whole excursion was well done and appreciated by all of us! Panama Canal - one day thru the locks - narrated thru out the day on the ship, and views were cool! Colon Panama - we had nothing planned for this port but go to the Free Zone, somewhat disappointed, once outside of the Cruise/Port gates, it was messy and chaos, with construction, dirty, garbage, difficult to traverse to free zone shopping, stores were dirty and nothing really great for sales....back to the ship! Cartagena Columbia - Our best surprise, clean, fun, Port, went to Teirra Bomba island, private excursion to a private beach bar location the Beach Bomba, we got to arranged pick up area, there was 8 of us, quick boat ride and great beach, water, beer, food Pina's, etc We had a Balcony SR, on the 7th which gives you extended balcony room, so the xtra room was nice! Entertainment was good, we made our own gathering and fun. great at Chops, Chefs Dinner, Mystery Who Done it Dinner, Azumi and Giavonnis, all outstanding! Read Less
Sail Date: May 2015
When a company tries to nickel and dime their customers, they are destroying customer relations. And that is what Royal Caribbean has done for me on this my last cruise, and very certainly my last cruise with RC for some time. Pros: ... Read More
When a company tries to nickel and dime their customers, they are destroying customer relations. And that is what Royal Caribbean has done for me on this my last cruise, and very certainly my last cruise with RC for some time. Pros: 1. Great itinerary. The overnight in San Francisco was great! 2. The people. Most of the staff were great people. Even if they weren't helpful, they still tried hard. No complaints there. Cons: 1. Tried to nickel and dime by insisting on doing the conversion (from US$ to CDN$) of charges on the credit card when I specifically asked them not to during check-in and at the guest relations desk. 2. Guest Relations Desk was very unwilling to help. 3. Make the check-in process more bearable. We had gold status but the ones in the regular lines must have been there for over an hour. 4. Couldn't get our dining request for table of 4, even though we'd booked 6 months in advance and our travel agent had asked ahead of time. In fact, 2 of us were on one table, and our moms were on a different table, even though we checked in together. In the end, they never did meet our request, and so we spent only half the time at the formal dining room. 5. Pay more attention to the quality of food. Some of the items in the formal dining room was terrible! 6. Make the food service more available. There's a big gap between 8:30 and 11:30pm where you cannot get food unless you're willing to pay for it. 7. Bear responsibility for the ship's mechanical problems instead of calling it a "safety issue" and making the passenger's suffer. Due to mechanical issues, we were late leaving SF for about 8 hours, which resulted in our arriving in Victoria at night, when everything was closed. All of our plans were wrecked. And, we asked for internet to compensate so that we could do some of the things we had planned to do online during business hours if we had been in port, but that simple request was denied. As you can see, there's something VERY LACKING in terms of customer relations on this ship. And fact is, some of these issues were experienced on other Royal Caribbean cruises. You can fill out their survey after the cruise, but nothing changes. In all fairness, not all was lost, and we still managed to have a good time. But when the industry is so competitive, and there are so many cruise lines to choose from, I would have to say, RC would be my least favorite. If their itinerary wasn't the one that met our needs the most, for a certainty we would not sail with them again. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2015
This was my 6th cruise, and first on RCCL. I was traveling with my Mother. We have cruised together several times. This cruise went to Catalina Island, San Francisco (with overnight), Victoria, and ended in Vancouver. Embarkation: We ... Read More
This was my 6th cruise, and first on RCCL. I was traveling with my Mother. We have cruised together several times. This cruise went to Catalina Island, San Francisco (with overnight), Victoria, and ended in Vancouver. Embarkation: We arrived at the pier rather late, so there was zero wait for embarkation. Luggage was also delivered well before dinner on departure day. We did find the muster drill to be less serious than is typical. Disembarkation was also efficient, although we had been assigned a 9:30 time and were getting the final warning all call at 9:15 (but I assume this would be a plus for most people, so no harm). Getting on and off the ship in ports was easy. There was a bit of a back-up to board tenders at Catalina, but the water was choppy so very understandable. Also beware that the security folks (port not RCCL) in San Francisco were being exceptionally strict with respect to any food (they had to discuss weather I was permitted to bring on Pringles in a sealed pack). We saw lots and lots of sourdough in the trash. Public Spaces: We found the public spaces on the ship to be very nice, clean, and generally well apportioned. The Schooner Lounge was an especially nice spot. On the two sea days (one scheduled plus most of the next day - which I will explain below), we spent a significant amount of time in the solarium. We were shocked to be able to find deck chairs so easily, especially since weather precluded using any of the outdoor pool areas (save for a few brave polar bears!!). One drawback, the deck chairs (wooden slatted with cushions) were exceptionally uncomfortable. We brought out pillows to use. All-in-all, the public spaces certainly were the best part of the ship. Dining: The food on the ship was decent. It wasn't great, it wasn't poor, it was what you expect. BUT, the availability of food was absolutely ridiculous. Obviously the days of huge midnight buffets every night are over (probably just as well). And I am not one to pig out constantly during a cruise, but I do expect to be able to sit down and eat a meal anytime I want (excluding the middle of the night). We had a 6:30p tour to Alcatraz. We went to the Windjammer (the Lido/Pool deck cafe) at 5:30 - CLOSED. We returned from the excursion at 10 and went to the Windjammer - CLOSED. In fact, at 10pm there is no food available anywhere on the ship. At 11pm you can go to a little cafe that serves hamburgers for a $10 surcharge. A hot dog was available for free....just as long as you had paid 10$ for a hamburger first. The food in the main dining room was fine, the service good. I was surprised that the premium cuts of beef were extra, even on formal night. I have been served beef wellington on a Carnival ship on formal night - but not here. Even in the premium steakhouse ( $35 surcharge) you will only get a 6oz filet - a nicer cut of meat is another 20$. 10$ surcharge for a hamburger 55$ surcharge for the steakhouse with a ribeye. That tells you what is being spent on the food available elsewhere. Enrichment Activities: "Enrichment" was nonexistent (the only port talk took place prior to us even boarding the ship. There were typical pool activities, most of which were canceled due to inclement weather (news flash: overcast, 55, and windy while on the pacific in May is not inclement - it's normal). Entertainment: The music around the ship was good. Very basic, but the vocalists and musicians were high quality. We saw one show with the singers and dancers, it was nicely done. We heard the comedian during the welcome show, and that was all we needed to hear of him. Bowzer also did a performance, and that was entertaining to the older folks on board. Service: We found the service to be fine. There were very few, if any crew members who stood out as being either poor or spectacular. Dining room service was a little rushed the first night but was very solid after that. Requests were met, and dish temperatures, sides, dressings were all brought as ordered. The one thing that I did not like was the lack of bar service in the Windjammer, theater and pool deck. My guess is, now that RCCL is talking folks into the drink packages, they have lost the incentive to come around a sell drinks. This is not the case in the dining room, but is the case elsewhere. Mechanical Issue: We did have a mechanical problem on the ship. Obviously these things happen, and we ended up leaving San Francisco some 9 hours late. We were not notified of the new arrival time in Victoria until Noon the next day. We ended up having a few hours less in Victoria (6:30 - 10:30 instead of 12 - 7), which was unfortunate. The biggest problem here was that when everyone got back to the boat, again, all the restaurants were closed. People at the windjammer were very upset. We finally went back to our cabin and from our balcony we could see all the activity at the cafe on Solstice (which was docked adjacent to us); that was as close to a meal as we would get. All-in-all, the time we spent on the cruise was very enjoyable. We loved the ports, and the ship's public spaces; staff and our fellow cruisers were warm and friendly. That being said, RCCL is not for us. Too many corners cut, too little attention to detail, and too small a cabin. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2015
We were accustomed to Celebrity on several recent cruises but remembered nice ones that had been taken with other 4 RCCL ships. This time because of convenient dates we decided to take this cruise and were not happy we had done so.It ... Read More
We were accustomed to Celebrity on several recent cruises but remembered nice ones that had been taken with other 4 RCCL ships. This time because of convenient dates we decided to take this cruise and were not happy we had done so.It started at embarkation in San Diego when our passports were kept by the attendant at check-in with the information that they would be returned aboard. Little did we know at that time that they were being confiscated to be returned only at the very last night of our cruise.We did not receive any plausible justification for that action and were always greeted with certain discomfort at guest relation desk with "legal reasons" excuses. Being deprived of our documents ( the only legal documents to be used on international travelling) generated unnecessary stress during the entire journey as we felt insecure to disembark in foreign ports of call without the necessary identification. Food was very good at Windjammer Buffet, good entrees and desserts and poor main courses at dinner.Our table attendants Constantin and Elena were efficient and served us well. Cost of drinks of any kind, shore excursions, spa treatments , fotos and internet access all had outrageous prices for what was being offered. We found that visits to the bridge, galley and backstage that were free (we took then ,some years ago) became US$150.00 per person "events"!!! Shows were some good (outstanding comedians) some were just regular. The Cruise Director (John Blair) was probably the best one we have seen on our more than a dozen cruises. Last but not least, we understand that the Jewel is going for refurbishing next year and it probably gave everybody a warning sign, when one of the gas turbines was malfunctioning delaying our departure from San Francisco for almost 8 hours. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2015
The following are some experiences and observations about our 5/16 California repositioning cruise on the Jewel of the Seas - sailing out of San Diego. We chose this cruise specifically for the itinerary, but we are also big fans of the ... Read More
The following are some experiences and observations about our 5/16 California repositioning cruise on the Jewel of the Seas - sailing out of San Diego. We chose this cruise specifically for the itinerary, but we are also big fans of the RCL Radiance class ship. San Diego is a great departure port; taxi fares to almost anywhere in San Diego proper are very reasonable and cabs are easy to find. We decided on the Marriot Courtyard in the “Gaslight District”. This historic property is a real gem with friendly, polite staff and a great, central location. There are many restaurants, nightlife venues, grocery and drug stores within a short walking distance; if you forget to pack something or want to pick up a few bottles of vino to bring onboard, it is all readily available. We visited the USS Midway. It is a short $10 cab ride from the Gaslight District and the ship is docked about a half mile or so from the cruise pier. This is a wonderful museum and it was an honor to tour the ship and talk to the many volunteers who serve as docents and guides. Many of these gentlemen served on the Midway; all were friendly, very knowledgeable and eager to share their experiences about life on board. This is remarkable and very memorable tribute to our naval history. We arrived at the cruise pier about 12:30 PM; we booked a GS category cabin and with priority embarkation we were walking onboard in under 10 minutes. Everything was very efficient. We stayed in GS suite #1554; the cabin was showing some wear and tear and in need of an update but overall, it was OK. The location was excellent since it is very close to both the elevators and the Concierge Lounge. Unfortunately the weather during almost the entire cruise was not cooperative so we got very little use of the balcony. I am not a big fan of the design of the balcony in these “hump cabins”; even though I believe that it is a bit larger, privacy is compromised. Overall the areas of the ship we visited were pretty nice; but like the room, some signs of wear and tear - but nothing too significant. Food – a very subjective topic but overall we were surprisingly pleased with the MDR food quality and presentation. Every night escargot was available and twice during the week they served the “fisherman’s platter” entre, which features twin lobster tails; certainly not as good as the “old days” but pretty decent nevertheless. We enjoyed the other nightly menu selections and thought dinners overall were fairly good; we typically share a dessert and we were very pleased with the selection and quality. Lunch in the MDR was also pretty good; and they offer an excellent, server prepared salad bar which I really enjoyed. Suite guests are served breakfast at Chops Grill; again, we enjoyed the food quality and especially the friendly service. It seems that on JOS, RCL is trying to keep the Sea view Café a secret. I knew it was there from previous sailings on this class ship but in the dailies, it is only offered as a cover charge ($10) venue. However, it is free during the late afternoon; either this was an oversight or it is being downplayed as a free restaurant for some reason. My favorite, grilled grouper and Cesar salad, is still available but it just didn’t seem as good as I remembered it on past sailings. Entertainment – with the exception of the (non-singing) piano player, we thought all of performers in the bar venues were mediocre. Mid-week we caught the show with Bowser of Sha Na Na fame and really enjoyed his performance. We didn’t attend any of the production shows until the final afternoon and after seeing that show, we thought we probably had missed some good productions. The Cruise Director was actually a very good performer; funny, personable and a very good singer. His wife works with him and she is also very talented and connects with the audience. Missing on the JOS was the big “cirque du soleil” style show in the Centrum. We saw this production on the Brilliance a few years back and thought it was spectacular. Whether the show is off the roster, or this ship is just not set up for it wasn’t clear but we really missed it. Casino – some good, well trained dealers and slots that at least produced some “seed money”. Unfortunately RCL still hasn’t gone totally non-smoking in their casino so for non-smokers like us, it is occasionally unpleasant. Service on the ship was spotty but overall good. It seemed clear to us that RCL has under-staffed the ship and it is reflected in both the level of service and the overall vibe of the staff. Our room attendant had a great attitude and worked very hard to please, but the poor man had so many rooms to service it seemed he was always rushed. Unlike sister company Celebrity, as well as HAL, there is no “butler” type specialized service that comes with a full suite cabin; the room attendant is expected to do it all. Fetch luggage, clean and attend to the perks you hope to receive with the cabin category. We tipped generously because he tried so hard and we truly felt for bad for him with so much on his plate. MDR servers also tried very hard to please; we chose MTD and thanks to a great maitre d’, sat in the same dining area every evening. We had the same servers each night and we could not have been more pleased. But again, it was obvious watching them they were stretched very thin and had a lot of tables and diners to manage. Bars, Café Latte-tudes, casino etc. all appeared to be short of servers. There never seemed to be enough staff to attend to customers and when things backed up a little, service slowed way down. A few times I wanted bottled water while playing in the casino; one of the casino staff actually called over the bartender to take my drink order. Beverage package – I purchased the “premium beverage package”. Depending on what and how much you drink, this could be a good option. I was not happy with it and cancelled after a few days; a pro-rated refund appeared on my sea pass account. I only drink wine, water, juice in the morning and an occasional beer. The wines on the wine list I would enjoy were never actually available in the bars. For water, only a small bottle of Crystal Geyser or club soda were available and in the MDR at breakfast, OJ was available but for a $2.50 fee. There seemed to be too many rules and not enough options to make this have value. And of course, there were never enough servers. One bright spot however was the “Champagne Bar”; good service along with some decent selections made this one of our favorite venues for relaxing with a glass of wine before dinner. Suite amenities – if you’re looking for something comparable to the higher end suite perks offered by Celebrity and HAL, you will no longer find them on RCL. Aside from a bigger room, priority embarkation/disembarkation/tendering and access to the Concierge Lounge, there isn’t a whole lot else offered for the considerable jump in price. However the concierge on this ship, Diego Tripaldi, is a first rate ambassador for RCL; always eager to please and help. This guy has a real future in the hospitality industry. Ports – some brief comments on the itinerary. Since this was a repositioning cruise, it is not regularly offered by RCL but it is an interesting alternative if you’re looking for something a little bit different. Although the weather wasn’t very cooperative, this was still an interesting experience. In my opinion, Catalina is all about Avalon. Although we did an RCL sponsored tour of the island, there really isn’t all that much to see after the first hour. Taking the tour didn’t give us as much time in Avalon but we still had time for a great lunch (Bluewater Avalon Seafood) and to stroll around this scenic little town. San Francisco – what can be said about this incredible city? The ship docked at pier 27, a beautiful, new facility minutes away from many “Fisherman’s Wharf” attractions and ferries. We decided on Alcatraz and a day in Sausalito, but I don’t think you can make a bad choice with 2 days in port and so many options. Victoria BC – our stop at this port was cut very short because of a mechanical delay departing SF. This is a regular stop on many Alaskan itineraries and it is a beautiful city with many fine dining options. Summary – as much as we enjoyed this cruise, it was probably our least favorite of all. Perhaps it is the cumulative effect of RCL cut-backs and under-staffing but the “wow factor” of an eager, friendly staff and the little things that made a cruise experience special were just off. And that is not to say that there weren’t some really engaged staff we crossed paths with throughout the week. There were some standouts but in general, we always felt like many of the service personnel were just going through the motions. A final word on the delay departing SF. We talked about this with a ship officer who happened by one day. Evidently (and in complete layman’s terminology on my part), a new part was installed on one of the turbines and there was a soft-ware issue that prevented it from starting. While it was a back-up turbine, the Captain wisely chose not to depart until it is was in working order. I applaud what I believe to be a wise decision; putting safety first is the most important consideration of all in my opinion. Thanks for reading. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2015
This was our first cruise on RC and only our second cruise overall. We cruised from San Diego to Vancouver, BC, though we disembarked in Victoria to visit family. When we entered the cruise embarkation area, we were whisked around the ... Read More
This was our first cruise on RC and only our second cruise overall. We cruised from San Diego to Vancouver, BC, though we disembarked in Victoria to visit family. When we entered the cruise embarkation area, we were whisked around the long line-up to a counter where our check-in occurred quickly and efficiently. I presume that was because we were booked in a junior suite, but, regardless, it was a nice perk. We checked out our room and had lunch in the Windjammer. One of our suitcases was delivered quickly and we waited hours for the other, which never came. After we left port, we went to Guest Services to see about the missing bag and were told to go to "Confiscated Luggage". We found this area and there was my bag. I travel with a small portable fan and apparently this is not allowed (Princess did not have a problem with it). So, though my fan was confiscated for the rest of the trip, I did have my luggage at long last. The communication process re: confiscated luggage could use improvement since ongoing concerns about missing luggage detract from one's ability to relax and enjoy their cruise. We had dinner that night in The Tides. The service was good, but my husband said his steak was lousy and tasted as if it had been "boiled". The portions were also quite small. I enjoyed my meal (though I can't remember what I had...). We went to the show that night and it was OK. The sets were very professional, but the theme seemed confused. As a result, we didn't go to any more shows. We thoroughly enjoyed the entertainment in the Centrum: various duets, trios, soloists. The flow of people on the ship was good. We enjoyed the casino and buffets. We particularly liked that our picture was not being taken every time we left the ship and there was no pressure to buy, buy, buy pictures. We had a $300 on-board credit that we didn't know about until 2 days before we got off the ship and checked our account on the TV. The price of the drink packages was exorbitant/ridiculous, so we didn't buy them (and we don't even drink alcohol). We wished there was at-your-table drink re-fill service in the Windjammer during meals. The shopping was fun. The art auction was a bit odd for us, but mildly entertaining. We enjoyed the trivia games. We were delayed leaving San Francisco by 9 hours due to engine trouble, so we arrived in Victoria 5 - 6 hours late. Our arrangements (lodging, car) in Victoria had to be re-arranged and RC was kind enough to place phone calls for me at no charge to make modifications. Many people were disappointed that their excursions in Victoria were cancelled. Overall, we enjoyed our cruise, but wished the weather had been warmer and sunnier. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2015
It was an interesting trip. We flew into San Diego from Houston. We had booked our pre-cruise room at the Hilton San Diego Bay Hotel. We arrived a little bit after 12:00 pm. The Hotel looked nice from the outside. The lobby was ... Read More
It was an interesting trip. We flew into San Diego from Houston. We had booked our pre-cruise room at the Hilton San Diego Bay Hotel. We arrived a little bit after 12:00 pm. The Hotel looked nice from the outside. The lobby was spacious. The location was great. It was a short walk over the pedestrian bridge from PETCO Ball park. It was a short cab ride to the Cruise terminal. The Gas Light district is right across the street as well. There is a "metro rail line" close by as well. and on San Diego Bay. The down side of the hotel was having to pay extra [$25.00] for early check-in (we were there a little after noon). If you did not want to pay for early check-in, having to pay extra for a bay side view [$20.00], which then allowed you to check in early. It all boiled down to paying extra to get into the hotel or paying extra to leave your bags with the bellman. We ate lunch and breakfast at the hotel. It was a bit pricey [what hotel restaurant isn't], but the food was good and the value was reasonable. The ship departed for a 6 day repositioning from San Diego, California to Vancouver, B.C. Canada. Our stops included Santa Catalina Island, Ca., San Francisco, Ca., Victoria, B.C., Canada, and ended in Vancouver, B.C. Canada. Boarding was quick and painless. It was funny that the Platinum line was checking in quicker than the Diamond and Diamond plus line. It did not take that long to get processed and join the ship. Our dining times were confirmed, our table position checked out, spa appointments made, and on to the Windjammer. At 1:00 p.m., they opened the rooms for passengers. We were in Room 8664. It is a starboard side balcony room with a partially obstructed view. The obstruction was the ships "washing" platform that was "parked on the forward part of our balcony and the aft portion of room 8662. It got in the way of a few pictures, but you soon learned to either wait or zoom. This was a standard room. We normally store our suitcases opened underneath the bed, but you had to fold it at a 90 degree angle to get them started under the bed. Then you could put the items you did not put in the closet and drawers back. This room was a long walk to the elevators [aft]. If you do not want to walk 100 yards to and from your room each way, then get something closer to midships or forward. Given that this ship runs on gas turbine - electric motors, it was pretty quite. Our room attendant was Debbie Roberts. She was good natured, friendly, and efficient. We would sing a duet or get a friendly greeting every time we saw her. Thanks Debbie. We ate in the main dining room at the first seating. Our dining table attendants were Sampong [Thailand] and Julian [Saint Lucia]. They did a great job. They helped us enjoy the cruise. They were both outgoing, friendly, and attentive. Julian was a bit of a character. Both were also funny and engaging. Thank you gentlemen. Our first stop was on Santa Catalina Island. The ship stopped and tendered into Avalon. It was just a get off for us and walk around the shops in town to see what was there. Since I was stationed on San Nicolas Island for about 20 months, I passed on the nature excursions. SNI was about fifty miles west of Santa Catalina Island. With the exception of the million dollar buildings on SCI, San Nicolas Island contained a lot of diverse wildlife, birds, and flora that we were able to get right next to or even in the middle of to enjoy. The cruise up to San Francisco had a few large whales and a lot of pilot whales. There were a few dolphins, seal lions, seals, and birds near San Francisco tearing up a bait ball [feeding]. The weather was cool [50s-60s]. It was interesting to come in under the Golden Gate Bridge. I believe the Captain said that we had about 15 meters from the top of the ship to the bottom of the road deck of the bridge when we went under it. Even staying overnight in S.F., we could not cover much of it. We went on the hop on - hop off double decker bus tour. Unlike Sydney Australia's version [travels in both directions], this one only went one way. So if you missed getting off at a stop, you had to either ride the 2 1/2 hours around to get there again or catch a cab from the next stop. This was a bit disappointing. The first day in we rode the bus around it's entire course and then got off at Fisherman's Wharf. While we were walking around Fisherman's Wharf, there was a power outage shutting down the shops, stores, and restaurants. So we walked the mile or so back to the ship and kicked back waiting for dinner. On the second day, we went to the Academy of Sciences in the Golden Gate Park. It was interesting, but plan on being there for several hours if you want to give it justice in looking at all of the exhibits. They have a nice aquarium, butterfly garden [rain forest], whale exhibit [on loan from New Zealand], planetarium, earth quake simulator, and other exhibits. We did not go through all of them. We then boarded the bus back to the ship. We were supposed to stay in S.F. until 5 p.m. and then depart for Canada. However, the ship had a problem starting one of its gas turbines. There are two on board and at the speeds we were traveling, they only needed one, but the USCG would not let them leave port until the problem with the second turbine was fixed [can't blame them, it is a safety item]. We did not leave until approximately 2:00 a.m. I know, I stayed up and videotaped the departure and travel under the Golden Gate Bridge. We were approximately 5 1/2 hours late getting into Victoria, B.C. This put us in too late to go on our tour to Butchart Gardens and also make dinner on board. Being that it was the last night on board, we always go to dinner to tip our wait staff and thank them for helping make our cruise enjoyable. Instead of taking the tour out to Butchart Gardens, we took a cab into Victoria and then walked from China Town down to the wharf near the Parliament Building. We had been here before, and we just wanted to roam around and see the town under the lights. The Parliament Building was brightly lit up. A little souvenir shopping later, we took a cab back to the ship. We enjoyed the on board entertainment. We had seen one of the entertainers on two prior cruises. He is a comedian and entertainer. He had updated a lot of his act, so it was good. We either participated in or watched a lot of the on board activities in the lounges or clubs. We were visiting with friends from Arizona on this cruise. We had fun. The only thing we were truly disappointed with on the cruise was the lack of any real late night snacks, "late night bites" [gone for years], cookies, and burgers/fries. The only place to go to was the Solarium [opens at 11:00 pm]. You could get pizza, hotdogs, sometimes wraps, and sometimes turkey sandwiches on "chibata" bread. Your drink choice was water or water. They could have had cookies, coffee, tea, lemonade, and water without much of a hassle. We always asked the "chef" if he had cookies. One night we brought some, asked him if he had any, and when he replied, "we don't have any", we offered him some. He got a good laugh out of that. The short jaunt to Vancouver was uneventful. We waited to get off until our scheduled time of near 9:30, and then discovered that my suit case had been seriously damaged. They tore three of the four wheels partially off of the suitcase. This was quickly reported and a report taken by one of RCI's personnel. We then went out to the taxi line to depart, and it took us over 90 minutes to get a cab. That was disappointing. If we had known that there would be this kind of delay, we would have arranged for a shuttle or a limousine to take us to our hotel in Richmond, B.C. We took a cab from the Cruise port to a nearby car rental agency, rented a car, and then arrived at the Pacific Gateway Hotel in Richmond, B.C. [next to Vancouver International Airport] at approximately noon. We were met outside by a bellman [which we did not need] who greeted us and directed us to the front desk. The lobby was spacious, but it lacked seating space if the desk was busy and you needed to sit down. When we arrived, there were only two people ahead of us, so it was no big deal. There was an $18.00 CAD per day parking fee. There is a small lobby shop, but it did not have much in the way of drinks. Check in went smoothly. We provided a credit card for incidentals, obtained magnetic keys, and we were off to our room. You need to have a room key to go up in the elevators. Our first room was 713. We got into the room and then moved the thermostat down to 68 F. The fan did not come on and the Air conditioner did not come on. We called the front Desk and they promptly supplied us with another room [836]. The A/C came on when we moved the thermostat down to 68 F. This was a King size no smoking room. While it faced the airport, it was not too noisy. My wife told me that she heard several sirens the first evening/night. It turned out there is a local fire hall [fire station to us] about a half mile up the road. The room was fine for the two of us. The side chair was a bit boxy and reminded me of an office chair for a lobby visitor. There was a desk with various connections and outlets. WiFi was free. The bathroom was clean and had a tub and shower [in one]. As we were packing to leave, my wife commented that the dust ruffles on the bed could stand to be cleaned. We did turn the thermostat down to 66 F as it was a bit warm to us at its 68 F setting for sleeping. There is a connected bar and grill [Pier 73]. There is a "tidal river" adjacent to the Hotel. It was spacious, had an outside deck, and the food was good. As with most hotels, it was a little on the high side of mid ranged fare. We did not eat in the breakfast restaurant inside. There are two direct contact flight "computers" for carry on fliers only. There were two computer terminals with a common printer for other uses including checking in for flights that did not require scanning your passport. Given that we were flying international, we called the 800 number to get a confirmation for our flight. The hotel had a 24/7 shuttle to the airport. It left the hotel on the hour, 20-minutes after the hour, and 40-minutes after the hour. It picked up passengers at the terminals at 10-minutes after the hour, 30-minutes after the hour, and 50-minutes after the hour. It was handy when we dropped our rental car, and then the next morning [5 am] when we went to the airport to catch our home flight. All in all, we enjoyed the trip. Six days was short for a cruise [even though most we have been on were 7 days]. Notes: The advantage that existed in on board pre-booking an open cruise ticket have essentially disappeared. The only real advantage is a $25.00 cabin credit. We still have an open ticket from last year that we will use in the future. We were told that the Jewel of the Seas will be undergoing its 30 day dry docking in 2016. That will freshen up the ship and give her that new feeling. It should be noted that the Diamond, Diamond Plus Lounge was created by using the Viking Crown Lounge and Vortex Nightclub as an exclusive venue from 5:00 pm until 8:30 pm each night [good idea when there is no dedicated lounge]. There were a lot of Diamond and Diamond Plus members there. The first night was not well prepared. Someone "forgot the canapes" and a "make do" set up was put together. After that, the canapes were done right. There was only one bar tender and one server for the area. That needs to be fixed for future cruises. The service was slow. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2015
I recently returned from the Pacific Coastal cruise I went on with two family members, with only one who had been on a cruise before (he sailed on Celebrity). We were very disappointed with Royal Caribbean's customer service on this ... Read More
I recently returned from the Pacific Coastal cruise I went on with two family members, with only one who had been on a cruise before (he sailed on Celebrity). We were very disappointed with Royal Caribbean's customer service on this ship and off the ship. First of all, we waited in the check in line in San Diego for two and a half hours. It was a cattle line, and there were not any chairs to sit in once you were in line. I am in my twenties and it was hard enough to stand that long, but I can't even imagine how others must have felt. There were people with walkers who had to stand the whole time! The workers directing everyone to the lines were confused and downright rude. By the time we actually got on the ship it had been three hours. HORRIBLE. Only 1 out of 3 suitcases got to the room early. The other 2 were late. Positives: We loved the ports. San Diego, Catalina Island, and San Francisco were incredible. Canada was ok. We had so much fun. We did not buy any shore excursions, as we preferred to tour around and do our own thing. We found a good deal online for the hop on hop off bus tour in San Francisco. Warning: It can get extremely cold if you sit on the upper outside deck of the bus. We went over Golden Gate Bridge at 40 mph and it was 20 degrees cooler up there. I can't remember the last time I was that cold. There wasn't room on the bottom inside deck of the bus where everyone was warm, so plan accordingly. We enjoyed the food, especially in the dining room. A few desserts were questionable, but we had a great time. We requested a table to ourselves, but were put at a table with 12 people. However, we were lucky and loved the people at our table. The Windjammer buffet was good. The breakfasts were just ok, but lunch was great. The staff in the Windjammer was extremely friendly and entertaining! The Schooner bar was nice too- loved the staff there as well. I loved walking around- the interior is beautiful and clean. The glass theme is awesome. Disembarkation was very simple. We did not have any customs to go through in Canada, which was surprising. However, there needed to be better signs directing people how to get out of the terminal in Vancouver. Good thing we didn't have an early flight, or we would have been cutting it close. Negatives: Everyone was told to go to deck 2 to get off the ship in San Francisco. Well that changed two times, but they did not make an announcement. Everyone was crowded together outside of the lobby area on deck 4, and they were not letting people use the stairs to get to deck 5, which ended up being the departure floor. We waited about an hour... Insanity. We were also late getting into San Francisco (with no explanation), and we had a family member waiting for us at the port. She waited about two hours from the time she saw the ship arriving. Communication was the main problem overall, as you can tell. The ship had a mechanical issue and we were supposed to leave San Fran at 5 pm, but left at 2 am. The announcements were vague and we basically had a second sea day. We barely had any time in Victoria BC, as we got off the ship around 6:30 pm. We should have received ship credit or SOMETHING. We were there 4 hours instead of 7 hours and there was not much to do that late. The activities on the ship were boring. Not everyone likes trivia or bingo (which costs $). There should have been more activities on our sea days. The entertainment needed some work. We saw one production with the singers and dancers and it was cheesy and did not make sense. The best show was Bowzer from Sha na na. Very entertaining. It was nice when they showed a movie - American Sniper - in the Coral Theater on a sea day. They should have done that more. We tried seeing American Sniper the previous day in the movie theater, but since the movie theater was so small, it was full about 40 min prior to the movie starting. Overall, it was a nice cruise ship, the ports were fun, and the staff in the bars and restaurants were incredible, but the communication issues need work. The customers pay a lot for these cruises, and should be treated better. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2013
My party flew into San Diego, the morning of the cruise and took a taxi from the airport over to the cruise ship terminal area. We arrived around 10:30am walked up, dropped off our luggage and then walked to the North along the pier to ... Read More
My party flew into San Diego, the morning of the cruise and took a taxi from the airport over to the cruise ship terminal area. We arrived around 10:30am walked up, dropped off our luggage and then walked to the North along the pier to have lunch at Anthony's Grotto (my favorite in San Diego - awesome clam chowder). After lunch, we walked back to the cruise terminal - it was around 11:45am by now and HOLY cow - was there a line - going out the terminal - and once we weaved our way into the terminal - about 20 minutes later - it was standing in lines for about and hour and a half (little less or more, can't remember exactly - but it was of slow standing/walking - not good on the back). Once we got up to the counter, as we entered the Platinum/Emerald line - it went a bit faster and we were on the ship by 2pm. We had a light snack and walked around to check out the Vision. So quaint and little compared to the bigger ships. Overall - the experience on board was good. I enjoyed the dining, the food was very good. I was a bit disappointed in the cruise director and cruise director staff (Elizabeth and can't remember the young gentleman from Canada, sorry - but these two were very nice and sociable, the others always seemed tired and irritated, and the cruise director himself, was not approachable - did not mingle much w/ the folk as I saw and his activities director followed him around all the time) By the way, I still remember the cruise director from my first cruise back in 2006 - on Explorer of the Seas - Chloe - fun lady and of course Ken Roman is awesome from the Allure!!- the activities on board were not to my normal expectations from Royal; however - I did notice that I was in the minority with my sailing age. It appeared to me that the majority of the guests sailing were in the senior and above range - and I do admit I met some WONDERFUL people who I will keep in touch with - however - when I go up to Karaoke at the Viking crown lounge at 10:30-11pm (not sure why so late) - it was crickets - maybe only a couple of people - the regulars who went every night - 3 or 4 people. Ports - If you didn't spend the money and go out on a long excursion in a bus, away from the ports - there was definitely NOT much to see or do near the ports. Cabo San Lucas - walk around, grab a drink and a little local shopping. Puerto Vallarto - it was my step-dads bday - so again - walk around, a little shopping and a drink. Costa Rica - little shopping and lunch at a local place - right on the corner of the main square in town. Guatemala - more local shopping Columbia - did the fortress and Cartagena city tour. It was pretty hot, but it was fascinating to see. Best for Last - The day we spent going through the canal was FANTASTIC - They had a wonderful speaker who came on board to narrate and discuss the history - he was only on board while we went through the locks. I was lucky to have a balcony on the starboard side and since each set of locks we passed on the west locks, we were able to watch what was going on through the east locks. Pretty cool stuff. I will never forget this experience and be more proud of genuine human creativity and thinking that can come up with these wonderful technologies...even so many years ago. The majority of the sailing was calm waters and smooth - except when we left Cartagena - heading back towards FL - our first evening was pretty rocky - the special speaker on board said we were crossing through something nicknamed, "The Channel of Hell" - since there were 3 different currents and gale force winds rocking us a bit. I am not sure I will sail on the Vision again, but only because of my desire for more activities - however - she is going through a re-invention this September - so best of luck to her. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2013
Having researched many Panama Canal itineraries, we were pleased with our 15-night trip on Vision of the Seas. We wanted an itinerary that actually transited the canal and also spent a day in Panama for touring. We were a bit concerned ... Read More
Having researched many Panama Canal itineraries, we were pleased with our 15-night trip on Vision of the Seas. We wanted an itinerary that actually transited the canal and also spent a day in Panama for touring. We were a bit concerned that maybe the ship would feel too small for that length of trip, but it never became an issue at all. We never felt cramped or crowded, except for the actual transit through the canal (more on that later). I had read some reviews that made it sound like the ship was in bad shape, but we did not see anything alarming. In fact, we always saw maintenance crew painting, sanding and refinishing wood rails, cleaning carpet, etc. Embarkation in San Diego was a breeze, mostly because we had priority access. The general line appeared to be quite long and some passengers commented they waited in line for well over an hour. We encountered the usual log jam caused by the boarding photos. I am not sure why they do not just make two lines, one for those who want the photo and one for those who do not. Our room was ready by 1 p.m. and we could not have been more pleased. Most of our luggage had arrived by 3 p.m., which was an added bonus. There was an overall noticeable decrease in number of staff since our last RCCL cruise, particularly in the cabin attendant areas. We did not have any problems, but some cruisers complained their rooms were not tended until late in the afternoon, short of towels, lack of towel animals, etc. Bar service was lacking, particularly in the Diamond Lounge area. We chose My Time Dining (MTD), although I have to admit I was a little nervous about having to prepay the gratuity. Surprisingly, the service far exceeded our expectations to the point where we just kept going back to the same team of Cruz and Janice every night. They always made sure our experience was exceptional, and I was ready to adopt Janice and bring her home in my suitcase! Most of the food choices were outstanding and the dinner menu never repeated during our entire cruise. I remember the shrimp ravioli and shrimp stir-fry being particularly delicious. The entertainment was quite good most of the time and, like the dinner menu, never repeated during the entire cruise. Being America's Got Talent fans, we were excited to see comedy juggler Charles Peachock, who did not disappoint! Broadway's Michelle Murlin, Star Search's Kenny James, entertaining violinist Gary Lovini and ventriloquist Brad Cummings are a few of the other performers we really enjoyed. The Ports of Call were fine, and all were made better by attending the lectures by Dr. Tom Ryan. I was a bit skeptical the lectures might be a sales pitch, but these were truly informative, educational, and entertaining lectures. Some ports/excursions were hampered by shortened length of time in port. Five hours in Cabo is barely enough time to disembark/tender/reembark. Even though we have been to Cabo many times, this time we ventured out to the Salsa Salsa excursion, which was just a ton of fun. The beach in Puerto Vallarta never disappoints. It was challenging to book an excursion in Guatemala, as our first two choices were cancelled the day before arrival. We decided to take the advice of the shore excursion staff and booked the San Juan Del Obispo Palace and Antigua. The excursion ended up being much better than the written description, great lunch, and our tour guide, Aura, was just outstanding. In Costa Rica, we did the Train, Boat, and Bus adventure, which was quite unorganized and disappointing overall. I took copious notes at the Dr. Ryan lecture, so I was ready for all the not miss' points during the Canal transit! I can't even explain how interesting it is to experience the entire process and think about all of the manpower and ingenuity it took to build the canal at time in history when all of our modern day technology did not even exist! The one low point was the abundance of rude cruisers who would block entire areas with lounge chairs, umbrellas, and about anything else they could to stake a claim' on the limited amount of deck real estate. Honestly, it was worse than anything you might have experience with people hogging chairs by the pool. This was definitely an area where Royal Caribbean did not do a good job of crowd control to make the experience equitable for everyone who paid a lot of money to transit the canal. The following day was spent in Colon, Panama. We did the Colonial Panama and Miraflores tour. Our tour guide, Rosie, was hilarious; however, the tour was less than expected. The visit to Colonial Panama was rushed. No time to go inside buildings/churches and no time for browsing at the outdoor arts and crafts market. Lunch consisted of what appeared to be a 6-inch Subway, but it was just dry bread and turkey in a Subway wrapper! The Miraflores visitor center was disappointing. I expected guides and explanations, but there was only a 10-minute movie with time for self-exploration. It was, however, fun to watch boats transit the locks like we had done the day before. Our last port was in Cartegena. I really wanted to go to Rosario Island, but the tour was not offered due to shortened time in port. We decided to go on the Land and Sea tour, which was insanely uncomfortable and overall horrible. People with long legs, extra weight from a lot of trips to the Windjammer, or ambulation issues beware! They jammed about 60 people into a small open boat. It was extremely hot and humid, but they required that we all wear bulky life vests for the entire hour and a half around the bay! No bottled water or any beverage was offered until much later. We love boating, but I was never so glad to get off a boat in my entire life. We then went to the Fort, where it required an extensive hike up an incline and many challenging steps. Some of the people on the tour opted to stay on the hot bus for more than an hour because they simply could not ambulate what was required. Again, I attribute most of this to lack of sufficient detail in the tour description. Our last two days was spent relaxing at sea (contemplating our next cruise) before arriving at Ft. Lauderdale. Disembarking went better than expected. There was a line at customs, but it moved fairly well. This was the first time we purchased the ship transfer to the airport and, I must say, it will be the last time we do that. It was an unorganized mess. Thankfully, we did not have an early flight, so we just went with the flow, but next time we will just take a cab. We can now cross this one off our bucket list. We had a great time on this cruise and might even do it again after the new locks are completed. After all, vacation is what you make of it! Read Less
Sail Date: April 2013
RCI , Royal Caribbean International Vision of the Seas Panama Canal April 2013 West to East (San Diego to Ft Lauderdale) Room 2072 (Senior Citizens , no children) Overall, a very rewarding experience, though it did not start off ... Read More
RCI , Royal Caribbean International Vision of the Seas Panama Canal April 2013 West to East (San Diego to Ft Lauderdale) Room 2072 (Senior Citizens , no children) Overall, a very rewarding experience, though it did not start off well. 1 , San Diego Terminal embarkation , major delays lasting over 3 hours standing in line (especially taxing on the feet and knees of senior citizens as places to sit were few and far between). No satisfactory explanation as to the delay , whether due to TSA, the San Diego Port Authority, or RCI , whether staff shortages or technical problems , nothing explained. By the time boarding was allowed, any ship specials were ignored due to frustration and fatigue. Everyone gave a "poor/failure" grade on RCI's customer survey form for the embarkation process. Based on reading other reviews on this website, it seems that starting a cruise on RCI on the East Coast from Florida goes rather smoothly But West Coast passengers seem to be subjected to a 3-hour wait 2 , Food , no problems here except the coffee (other reviewers also noted the bad coffee on ship , we made do by making steamed milk and making our own lattes , more palatable that way). Otherwise, variety and quality were all excellent. However, since I've cruised many times with NCL Norwegian Cruise Line whose ships have many restaurants, I was surprised on how few venues there were to eat on such a large ship. But the ship is headed for a refit in September 2013 , supposedly, the under-utilized areas are going to be reconfigured to become another restaurant. Reviewer Richieline is correct in that the breakfasts were faster buffet-style in the Windjammer than the main dining room. But the main dining room offers breakfast both in a traditional order-menu (slow service due to limited morning personnel) and buffet-style (just as good as the Windjammer). 3 , Casino and Bingo , nothing special compared to other cruise lines - there's plenty of variety of games for anyone , won enough to pay for several on-shore excursions (yea!) , what was surprising was how "generous" the slot machines could be; usually, I avoid the slot machines on board a cruise ship as slot machines are generally programmed not to give that many payouts (why would a cruise line's casino bother as they know that they have a "captive" audience who cannot go to a different casino!) , but on Vision of the Seas, my friend won a modest amount. 4 , Entertainment , like any cruise line, there are good shows, bad ones and so-so ones. The best was the "Tribute to the Temptations" , both performing on stage and pleasant personalities when I chatted with a few of them off-stage. And like other reviewers have mentioned, the Vision of the Seas Orchestra was excellent as well as the live combo shows. More than enough trivia contests and variety of subjects to keep one's mind pleasantly occupied and a good way to socialize with fellow passengers. 5 , Spa and the Ships' Bridge Tour , didn't do either of them due to costs , I know that the airlines are charging for everything that used to be free and/or charging more for other services , same for cruise ships it seems , a "behind a scenes tour" of the ship's bridge used to be free on NCL in 2005 - better to buy the DVD at the end of the cruise , gives a quick tour of the bridge-galley-and engine room. 6 , Guest Lecturer - Dr Tom Ryan , I second Mea member critique , Dr. Ryan's presentations were FANTASTIC and "thank you" as well , this was Dr. Ryan's 194th trip through the Canal , we attended his first day lecture with about 25 other people without knowing who or what he was , the next day's lecture had about 300 people attending (word spreads FAST!) , the guy REALLY knows what he's talking about and does it in an friendly engaging manner , if he's ever aboard your ship, be absolutely sure to listen to his talks; you won't be disappointed! (found out recently that one of his lectures is on You Tube) 7 , On-Shore Excursions - we took advantage of a recommendation of Dr. Ryan's on-shore tours. My friend and I originally booked the "Panama City Experience" (item # CO55 on RCI's website). But we changed it to # CO26 , the Panama Canal Tour. Though it seems a duplication of effort of going BACK through the Canal only in a smaller boat, Dr. Ryan is correct in that one gets a great appreciation of the scale of the Panama Canal , when one is onboard a large cruise ship, you can't really see/feel the locks in operation or look at the wildlife in the distance. Good advice from Dr. Ryan and well worth it. A warning concerning Item # GQ22 , the Best of Colonial Antigua in Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala , RCI warns that Antigua is 5,000 ft above sea level, but all of us were taken by surprise when we were told that there would be a lot of walking. The description just mentioned the air-conditioned bus ride from dockside to town, but no mention of any significant walking. Also, those "mild-medium-strenuous" symbols for on-shore excursions should be notched up for Guatemala for senior citizens. The cobblestones in Antigua can be REALLY treacherous , extremely uneven , one can easily sprain an ankle (one member of our group did have a serious fall and was taken by ambulance). Though the people of Guatemala were very friendly, be prepared for extreme poverty at this port. I'm not sure if it was intentional, but RCI's DVD at the end of the cruise does not show Guatemala (however, the DVD does show all the other ports) Cartegena, Colombia also has cobblestones in the old town section , BUT those cobblestones are worn smooth and set well in the ground, making for a much easier and pleasant walking experience. I really liked my tour of Cartegena and had a nice grin to myself when I visited the very impressive fort of San Felipe as I was thinking of the Michael Douglass-Kathleen Turner movie Romancing the Stone. That'll do it for me , as other reviewers on this website have said, I also highly recommend that anyone take at least one cruise through the Canal. We had great weather (even though one knows that there is heat and humidity at these sites, the weather can still slow you down). The rainy season for Panama started almost as soon as we left Cartegena on our way to Ft Lauderdale (keep that in mind for anyone considering a Canal cruise in October). Read Less
Sail Date: April 2013
My sister and I just completed a five day visit in San Diego and a 15 day Panama Canal cruise on board the Vision of the Seas. The only negative comment I can make is the terrible check in procedure at the San Diego pier. This has to be ... Read More
My sister and I just completed a five day visit in San Diego and a 15 day Panama Canal cruise on board the Vision of the Seas. The only negative comment I can make is the terrible check in procedure at the San Diego pier. This has to be improved and upgraded to accommodate the travelling public. The check in was long and tedious and very tiring. Now with that said I only have praise for the wonderful crew of the Vision of the Seas. They sure made up for the long wait at the check in at the pier. Our dining room servers at My Time Dining - Deck 5 went well beyond what is normally expected. We were lucky to have waiters Cruz and Janice looking after us and our wonderful head waiter Gillian as well as Francisco who greeted us with kindness each evening. We always ate our breakfast and lunch in the dining room on Deck 4 and again the servers were 100%. It was a pleasure to have such wonderful servers. They were all outstanding and we certainly looked forward to our meals each day. We enjoyed the service while at the pool and always enjoyed the great personalities of photographers Marli and Lina as well as the young people in the photography department. Their service was top notch. The entertainment on the Vision was excellent and we enjoyed the shows each evening. We were told when we first came aboard that we were going to love our cruise and that we would soon see that the friendly crew would make the difference and it wasn't long before we realized we had made a good choice. We had a wonderful cabin attendant Dwi Santosa from Indonesia looking after our cabin and his work ethic was superb. It is not the size or the newness of the ship that makes the cruise, it is the crew and we certainly lucked out with this group. We enjoyed meeting Captain Liz Lauritzen and found her to be so friendly and accommodating towards her passengers. She is a humble woman and I could see she was certainly respected by the ship's officers. She was always willing to share her time with the passengers and never seemed to be in a hurry to get away. She spent time with her passengers and she was anxious to know that you were enjoying your time on the ship. I was once told the atmosphere on a ship is directed by those from the top down and you could easily see how well everyone on the Vision of the Seas worked well together to insure our cruise was a wonderful occasion. The 15 year old ship is going in for a refit in Spain this coming September and will then be based in Colon, Panama later this fall. I hope to sail on the Vision of the Seas again and I hope most of the crew will be there. I would say this was one of the best cruises for me. I thank the crew for their dedicated service. It was a job well done. I wish you all happy and safe sailing. No complaints from us. We loved every minute of the 15 day cruise. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2012
Check in was the worst of any cruise we had ever done. Despite being a Diamond member with a Jr. Suite, I was sent to the "regular" line and they couldn't do anything fast. They couldn't verify my credit card either and ... Read More
Check in was the worst of any cruise we had ever done. Despite being a Diamond member with a Jr. Suite, I was sent to the "regular" line and they couldn't do anything fast. They couldn't verify my credit card either and blamed everything on a "new software". They should have got that taken care of. I would like to see Jr. Suite and up passengers to get into their rooms earlier than 1:30, if only just to drop off luggage. Getting luggage was a nightmare. They pulled our two big bags because they accused us of having an iron. (We didn't, it was a straight iron for hair) and a small Swiss army pocket knife that I have taken on every cruise. I told the RCL security that it was a 2.5 inch blade and that if I wanted to do harm to someone I would simply go to the Windjammer Cafe and get a steak knife with a 6 inch blade. I thought this was a stupid waste of our time. We had just done a cruise the month before on the RCL ship Freedom of the Seas and had a wonderful time with none of these problems. Our Jr. Suite on Freedom seemed almost twice as big as on the Vision. Freedom had two A/C units in the room and a HUGE walk in closet and big bath that Vision didn't have. Our Jr. Suite in the Vision had furniture that was dirty with arms that were slick with grime. Some of the cabinet doors hung poorly and sagged and the room looked far from "upscale" as the Freedom did. Vision did not have the new menu that other RCL ships have and we found it "uninspiring" for the most part and that is sad because the Vision has no specialty venues like other ships do. So far things sound very negative so I'll move to some of the better ones. The common areas and decks seemed well cared for and clean. The lounges and theaters were very well done and clean and neat. The ship had a great main orchestra but the ship's singers were mediocre at best. The entertainers were varied and entertaining but the cruise director was among the most boring and least engaging of all our cruises. Internet connections were as slow as you could get on any ship. It was downright pitiful and the ship does little to help anyone with any questions. The television service was the absolute worst of any ship period. They couldn't track satellites on the four stations they tried to. They were so cheap the selections simply was terrible. They had Fox News, (which never worked well), CNN International (that showed world news, not US) and ESPN's two channels, but they were the world editions, so instead of getting college football like EVERYONE on the ship wanted, we got cricket, soccer and European crap that nobody wanted or watched. Gee RCL, get off you darn wallet and get programming geared for your passengers! This crappy TV service was a joke and an insult to me and hundreds of others we talked to. Vision had no Diamond Lounge for evening and used the Viking Crown but did nothing it seemed to chase out people who weren't Diamond members. The Loyalty Desk personnel were very good and answered all our questions quickly and thoroughly. Food was hit or miss. They did some things well and others miserably bad. The duck was like rubber and the steaks they cooked at the pool deck for a special party and meal were so tough I doubt a chain saw could have cut them and the chicken was burned on the outside and raw in the middle. Some got sick. The dining room was hit or miss too. But the Solarium grill made good burgers, hot dogs, pizza and sandwiches and lunch in the main dining room had a wonderful salad bar but the same old menus day after day it seemed. Embarkation for port calls went well and the one port we tendered seemed to fast and smoothly. The captain of the vessel was very outgoing and friendly and very accessible to the passengers. The hotel manager was likewise a great one and our Maitre D was very attentive to our concerns over bad meals and we shared many laughs with him. The main dining room drink steward was especially friendly and we enjoyed his personality a lot. Our room steward was the worst we ever had, he was lazy, sometimes not getting to our room until 1:30 and despite me offering and giving a bribe, we had to beg for ice in our room. He didn't vacuum the hallway for a week. By contrast, on the Freedom, Grandeur and Allure, other cruises we did this year, our steward had our room done when we returned from breakfast and we had all the ice we could use. They made our trips. Our room 8558 was under the Solarium and they woke us several times sliding thing across the metal floor over our heads. It was noisy during late evening and early mornings when they cleaned after people left and before they got there. I would not do the Vision again or recommend it to anyone unless it was just doing a unique itinerary as this 2 week cruise was. There are so many other ships that are just too much better. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2012
Good -Great Cruise Critic's to hang out with. 14 day cruise. Time to relax. No kids on board, they were in school. Bad -Worst room steward we have ever had. He was unhappy, complained about his job to me each time I spoke to him. ... Read More
Good -Great Cruise Critic's to hang out with. 14 day cruise. Time to relax. No kids on board, they were in school. Bad -Worst room steward we have ever had. He was unhappy, complained about his job to me each time I spoke to him. Never clean the room till after lunch. All other cruise critic's said they had a good room steward. Also Food was bad, not good at all. They need a new chef. No speciality restaurants on the ship. Only the Windjammer and the main dining room. Ugly -The singers for the Royal Caribbean shows that work for Royal Caribbean were the worst I have ever heard. They all were ready bad. It made you wonder the person who chose these employee's it they were tone death. Cabin furnishings are show their age pretty bad. They are scheduled for refurbished in 2013. I've done a lot of Royal Caribbean cruises -worst singers ever. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2011
My wife and I live in California, and were planning to attend a wedding in Key West. Since we had a significant (and about to expire!) RCI credit from a Mediterranean cruise where half the ports were canceled due to weather, the Panama ... Read More
My wife and I live in California, and were planning to attend a wedding in Key West. Since we had a significant (and about to expire!) RCI credit from a Mediterranean cruise where half the ports were canceled due to weather, the Panama Canal cruise was an easy choice. Embarkation in San Diego was much easier than in our prior experiences in Europe. Having booked balcony and ocean-view rooms before, we went with the interior room this time, and actually liked it just as much or better (my wife prefers absolute darkness for sleeping). Having cruised on the Brilliance a year earlier, the ship's layout was familiar, and we actually preferred it to the larger Navigator in terms of how easy it is to get around. This cruise offered a nice mix of ports and sea days; we spent enough time at sea to compete in (and win!) a cumulative trivia contest. As appears generally to be the case in RCI cruises, there were plenty of activities available. We only took two organized excursions, preferring to wander through ports (I actually spent much of my shore time at Internet cafes, since I had to do some regular work, and RCI's terribly slow and expensive Internet services were in danger of bankrupting me). The biggest disappointment was the one port in Panama, which was basically a strip mall. The Acapulco stop was disappointing, too--and annoying because of the literally dozens of "tour guides" and taxi drivers besieging us the moment we got off the ship. Cartagena was much more interesting and navigable, even though we got caught in a downpour and I wound up having to get out and push our cab. The food on the Radiance was adequate (typical of RCI), with the exception of Portofino, which was so good (better, even in the steak dishes, than the pricier Chop) we went back twice. The dining room fare was only average, and usually most of the entrees were also available at the Windjammer buffet, where we usually ate after the first few nights. The entertainment was the usual mixed bag, with the production events vastly better than the random singers and musicians who performed. Over the course of the cruise, we became quite fond of the cruise director ("Dan, Dan, the Party Man") and his staff, who pulled off the required variety of cheesy special music nights and ersatz game shows with good humor. The cruise staff generally were competent and polite, with the exception of the poor guy who performed nightly in the piano bar, who did not have an ounce of charisma (a shock after the boozy fun every evening in our last cruise, on the Navigator). But the star of the cruise was the canal itself, a true marvel. The crew (along with the Panamanian pilot's crew who navigated the ship through the locks) did an outstanding job of fully informing us of every step in the passage. It was truly a memorable day that every cruiser ought to experience. All in all, it was a great way to get from California to Florida, and I'd do it all over again if RCI and other cruise lines would finally do something about the cost and quality of Internet services! Read Less
Sail Date: May 2010
We chose the repositioning cruise on the Radiance for our first look at Alaska. It was a wonderful trip with much warmer weather than we were warned to expect--very little rain, many sunny days. We inched very slowly toward Hubbard Glacier ... Read More
We chose the repositioning cruise on the Radiance for our first look at Alaska. It was a wonderful trip with much warmer weather than we were warned to expect--very little rain, many sunny days. We inched very slowly toward Hubbard Glacier because of all the ice in the water and watched amazing calving activity such as the crew said they had never seen. The Radiance is a beautiful, comfortable ship. Very few children aboard this time of year. I really liked the de-emphasis on art auctions. We hardly knew they were there. The number and type of other activities was about right. My only complaint was that some of the games and parties started very late at night and, especially on port days, we were very tired pretty early. Our cabin was plenty roomy but the bathroom was small with a very small shower with a little lip around the bottom to catch water. That didn't work too well. No toiletries provided. Very limited selections on the t.v. with the same movies repeated over and over the whole two weeks. I have had better food on other ships. The dinner selections were limited and consisted of small portions. Our table mates routinely ordered multiple appetizers and main courses and sometimes desserts in order to feel full. Food in the Windjammer was just okay. For those on a budget as we were, a few suggestions: Don't use the expensive Internet connection on the ship and use instead the internet at the libraries in port--20 minute sessions per person are free. The libraries in Sitka and Skagway are easy to locate in town. Also in Skagway, rangers give free walking tours of the town loaded with historical commentary and very entertaining. The walks start at the museum near the pier. In Juneau, passengers were taken to Mendenhall Glacier for $7 each way with much interesting information provided by the driver. We took the bus trip to the Canadian border out of Skagway which travels the approximate route of the train and is much less expensive. The showroom entertainment on the Radiance was the best I have seen in four cruises taken. Argentinian comedians Mario and Daniel were hilarious and then produced a phenomenal tango show a few nights later. All shows really top notch. Overall, a wonderful trip, including easy, well-organized loading and unloading, especially in Vancouver where they have cruise ship arrival down to a science. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2010
My husband and I spent 2 nights at the Catamaran Resort and Spa in San Diego prior to our sailing. The hotel was nice. It's located in the Mission Bay area of San Diego, about 20 minutes from the pier. San Diego is a wonderful city, ... Read More
My husband and I spent 2 nights at the Catamaran Resort and Spa in San Diego prior to our sailing. The hotel was nice. It's located in the Mission Bay area of San Diego, about 20 minutes from the pier. San Diego is a wonderful city, we absolutely loved everything about it and hope to return there someday. Embarkation: Very quick and easy. We arrived at the pier about noon and were on the ship within 20 minutes. We couldn't access our cabin until 1 p.m., which meant we had to bring our carry-on luggage with us to the Windjammer, which was a bit of a pain but not such a huge deal. 5* for embarkation Baggage: DO NOT BRING A FLAT IRON with you....your baggage will be held up in security. My husband's suitcase never showed up and when we inquired about it we were told he had to go down to security. Well turns out they x-ray every suitcase and if they see a flat iron they won't allow it to be delivered. So they confiscate the iron and you get it back at the end of the cruise. I feel this is a way for RCCL to make extra money. We had to pay to have our clothes pressed. We sailed on Princess last Sept and were able to bring our iron. So people can smoke on board but you can't iron your clothes? Also some people's curling irons were confiscated, luckily mine made it through. Cabin: We had a Superior Oceanview Balcony stateroom. It felt very "roomy" and there was plenty of storage. The balcony has 2 chairs and a table. Yes, the shower is small but so is every other shower on every other cruise ship we've been on in the past. 5* for the cabin Cabin Steward: Ours was just "so so". Our first evening on board we came back to our cabin to find a dirty duvet on our bed. There were many large yellow stains all over the top of the duvet....obviously he HAD to have seen them if we did. We phoned the steward on call and 2 gentlemen came up immediately. As soon as they saw it they apologized and took it off and remade our bed. 3* for our steward Ship: Is beautiful! We've sailed on many different sized ships and the Radiance is by far our favorite. She's the perfect size. She never felt crowded (cruise was about 300 people shy of being sold out), the lay out is perfect and the common areas are very roomy. I especially loved the tasteful understated decor throughout the ship. I didn't see any signs or wear and tear that other reviewers have written about. I think for a ship that's 10 years old she's still very "Radiant". 5*+ for the ship Entertainment: Pleasantly surprised us. We've seen many "cruise ship" shows and after a while they all seem the same or worse then the last. Well, not on the Radiance. On our cruise there was a Tango dance couple from Argentina. The main show was designed around them and they were fantastic, I could have watched them dance all night. The Piano Man show with the RCCL singers and dancers was also very good. There was also a comedian and a juggler/comedian and both of them were very entertaining. So all in all I'd have to say the entertainment was very good. 5* for the entertainment Dining- Main dining room: So here is where we have seen the biggest drop in quality since we first started cruising over 18 yrs ago. I guess they have to cut back somewhere and unfortunately this is where we notice it. We ate 3 nights in the main dining room. The first night we had prime-rib and it was really good. The other 2 nights were really below average, limited choices, small portions, poorly cooked steaks etc. Our waiter would shake his head if he didn't think we should order something, and he kept saying "those were the days" when we spoke about cruise ship dining in the past. I remember when we first cruised we would order a couple of entrees because we couldn't make up our minds and everything including the desserts was so delicious. Not so much anymore. 2-1/2* for the food in the Main Dining Room Cascades Dining-Specialty restaurants: SAVED US!!! LOL!! Portofino is magnificent...from the service to the atmosphere to the food...PERFECTION! I ordered the Fillet Mignon and it melted in my mouth. I highly recommend this @ $20 per person it's well worth the money. Chops is also very good, not as nice as Portofino but still worth the extra expense. I had a wonderful Fillet Mignon here too. It's a nice break from the Main Dining Room and it is actually what dining USED to be like years ago on cruises...now you just have to pay extra for it. 5*+ for specialty restaurants The Windjammer: In my opinion, is the best laid out buffet restaurant of any cruise ship we've sailed on in the past. It never felt crowded. There were always plenty of tables available and there are a number of buffet stations. The food was always consistently good and hot and the choices were numerous. 5* for the Windjammer All in all we had a fabulous time. You really can't beat the value. My husband and I reflected on our past cruises and realized that 18 yrs ago we paid the same amount of money per person for our cruises as we paid for this cruise. The price really hasn't gone up in 18 yrs. The cruise lines are trying to keep this an affordable vacation, so in order to do that they have to cut back on some "extras". They no longer place a chocolate on your pillow at night, the toiletries in the staterooms are limited, the alcohol is very expensive ($20 and up for 2 glasses of wine) and the food quality has dropped significantly in the main dining rooms. BUT it's still a great value for the money. We paid just under $500 per person for a balcony cabin, so I'm not complaining by any means. Please don't read too much into the negative reviews on this site. If you keep in mind the amount of money you're paying for this vacation it's all relative. If you want 5*+ service then this is not the line for you, but if you're looking for a great vacation at a great value then it is. For what we spent....I'd rate it a 4* overall vacation. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2010
My partner decided to take a short 5 night Mexican cruise in conjunction with a conference I had in San Diego. All in all, the cruise exceeded our expectations. We had sailed on Carnival twice before (Elation and Legend), and Royal ... Read More
My partner decided to take a short 5 night Mexican cruise in conjunction with a conference I had in San Diego. All in all, the cruise exceeded our expectations. We had sailed on Carnival twice before (Elation and Legend), and Royal Caribbean's Radiance of the Seas was a step above. The embarkation was very smooth. Royal Caribbean will send you your baggage straps by mail, via their "Check-In" option on their website - you just have to remember to request them at least 10 days before sailing. With your bags tagged, your Sign and Sail document, plus the credit card you used to pay for the trip, it's all very smooth. From the time we walked onto the pier to the time we were on board took all of about 15 minutes. The crew makes this ship remarkable. Everyone we met, from the room steward, to the bartenders, to the tender operators, all were warm and always asked us if there is anything more they could help with. Even Guest Services was helpful, unlike the typical bureaucratic way they can be! I asked several crew members about this hospitable spirit on board. It turns out that most of the senior staff on the ship was from the "Majesty of the Seas" which had been known for its crew's warmth. When "Majesty" was sold, most of the senior staff came on board "Radiance", and continued managing their staff in a similar way. The crew truly was great. The ship was very well maintained. It may not have the latest and greatest "wow!" features that the newer and larger ships are featuring, but she is large enough to provide plenty to do. Despite the fact the sailing was sold out, we could always find a table at the Windjammer buffet, and could always find an out-of the way place to get relax, converse or just chill. Some of our favorite places: The Solarium. This is an adults only area with a 6' deep heated salt water pool, under a retractable clear roof. Great bar, lots of cushy lounge chairs, tropical bird sounds on an audio track, even elephants sculpted on the wall and a bronze lioness dipping her paw in the pool. The plastic foliage on top of the columns are sun bleaching due to the UV light, but it's all very soothing. Seaview Cafe. You may never find this unless you look. It's located on the top sports deck (13?) all the way aft. You have to walk through a children/tot play area to get there, and there are no obvious signs saying it's there, but it's worth it. It feels like a waterfront cafe in a sea side town, with a limited menu but great soups, chowder, fish & chips, salads, reubens, beer on tap, etc. It's open until 6:30 pm, but open from 9 pm to late. You can eat indoors, or outside on the deck, wind and weather permitting. I saw several people getting "take out" to take elsewhere on the ship. There is no additional fee. Centrum seating above. There are several small lounges on decks above the Centrum main floor, but open to the atrium. These are comfy corners to play cards, read, chat, while still enjoying the live music in the Centrum. Our balcony cabin was on the 10th deck, forward, port side. It was a bit smaller than we had on the Carnival ships, but storage was well designed. The balcony makes a huge difference. We smelled nothing that indicated plumbing problems, just smokers puffing on their balconies, with smoke drifting our way. The beds were incredible! Motion wasn't a problem until the last night, heading north into the Pacific swells heading south, but the Captain adjusted course and speed which helped a lot. Disembarkation was very smooth. There was no "mob" disembarkation as on Carnival where everyone was hauling their own luggage down the stairs. On the Radiance, you put your tagged bags in the hall by midnight, and showed up at a rendez-vous point at a specific time. They told us not to be early, and we all disembarked at the times that were stated. The first ones off were Crown and Anchor Premiere members, then those with flights home, then those with tours in San Diego. We were last, as we had driven to the port and were considered "local". Even so, we left the ship at 9:30 am, had our luggage, cleared customs and immigration, and headed for our car by 9:45. BTW, we liked the Radiance so much, we booked another cruise in a year, on her sister ship, the Brilliance of the Seas. Royal Caribbean has a current special for those booking new cruises on board. The deposit is only $100 per person if you book a cabin on another cruise. That is the total deposit and is refundable per their normal policies. If you don't know what cruise you want to book yet, you can also pay $100 per person for any future cruise, but that is nonrefundable. You can then select another cruise once you know your schedule, and no additional deposit is required until the total payment is due. Go to the Crown and Anchor lounge if this is something you're interested in. You may have to make an appointment to see their rep later in the cruise. I did and I'm glad! If there are no appointments available, you will not be able to get the deal on shore. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2010
May 3, 2010 Radiance of the Seas, 5 nights R/T San Diego to Ensenada and Cabo San Lucas. Onboard this cruise was me 44, and my daughter 4. I just made diamond. Check in: Check in went fine. We took the train down to San Diego and ... Read More
May 3, 2010 Radiance of the Seas, 5 nights R/T San Diego to Ensenada and Cabo San Lucas. Onboard this cruise was me 44, and my daughter 4. I just made diamond. Check in: Check in went fine. We took the train down to San Diego and walked to the pier. See my review of October 17th cruise for train details. Cabin: We got upgraded to regular balcony #1524. This cabin is on deck 10 the starboard side of the forward elevator lobby. I was worried that there would be quite a bit of noise in that area. We bring a white noise machine with us whenever we travel and we were very happy. Convenient location to the spa and solarium. We would have this cabin again. Steward Eduardo was fine. Soda card: I signed up for my soda card on the internet before my cruise. That way I would have it upon boarding and no sales tax. The words Coca-Cola were printed on my card when I got it at check in on the pier. Adventure Ocean: I was very happy with the children's program at Adventure Ocean. My daughter was in the 3-5 age group and did fine. I was very happy that at times the counselors took the kids to breakfast, lunch and or dinner depending on the schedule. Sometimes early afternoon care (Noon to 2PM) was free and sometimes there was a nominal charge of $7.95 to cover that time. Otherwise free until 10PM, then just $6 an hour for the first child until 2AM. There was one day that I only had her from 5-5:45PM. A little lay down and a change of play clothes. Main show room: The one notable show was "Mosaic." We also enjoyed chatting with them in Cabo. Solarium: The solarium is my favorite part of this ship. It is the one part of the ship that does not have piped in music. However I must note that since I was last on this ship October 17th they put on a 12 second loop recording of a bird. Quite loud and bothersome. I complained quite a bit to the pursers but it did not help. Also the water cascade behind the elephants was shut off. I think maybe the birds were louder than they should be because the waterfall was turned off. My time dining: Since it was just me and my 4 year old onboard I signed up on the internet for My Time Dining. I only ate in the dining room 2 nights. It seemed to work out fine. I would do it again in this situation. Windjammer: Enjoyed the omelets, Mongolian style stir fry, French fries and desserts. Room service: We had room service every morning for breakfast. The first 2 days the delivery person called me on the phone from the elevator lobby just outside our door to tell me he was coming. And then he was there. The next 2 days they called me from near the room service kitchen and then took another 20 minutes to get there. I could not quite figure that out. No room service on debarkation morning. Bummer! Sea view Cafe: The Sea view Cafe was great and close to Adventure Ocean. My daughter had the chicken nuggets and fries. Great service and they were sweet to her. We had good weather for the most part. It is very common to have a rough time on the way North from Cabo. This trip was no exception. Our worst time was the last night. We were fine. The Radiance is going to Australia. We have had table mates from Australia or have cruised Australia. There are tons of soccer/ rugby types onboard and I hope she will be okay. She will be missed. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2010
Cabin: The cabin was much better laid out and had more storage than the same category on Princess last year. Unfortunately, the toilet stopped working twice, right after morning coffee. We called maintenance and after 45 minutes went ... Read More
Cabin: The cabin was much better laid out and had more storage than the same category on Princess last year. Unfortunately, the toilet stopped working twice, right after morning coffee. We called maintenance and after 45 minutes went upstairs for relieve. The steward did an excellent job and we never had to request ice. The safe malfunctioned twice but maintenance was there in 5 minutes to fix it. Rating: 8.0 Room Service: Room service was awful. Two nights they failed to pickup the order form from the door, the two times I ordered eggs and hash browns, they were cold, we finally just gave up and ordered coffee and had breakfast at Windjamer. Rating 3.0 Dining: The dining staff was great except no one enforced the dress code. We saw two couples in shorts point at the sign that said "no shorts allowed in the dining room" laugh and walk past the greeter to their table. On Smart Casual night there was a guy at the next table in a sleeveless T. Shirt. The food was pretty good except for overcooked salmon one night, a well done "rare" steak one night and the lobster was not cooked fully one night. The buffet at the Windjammer was very good with lots of variety. Rating 7.5 Entertainment: Lots of variety and the band, singers and dancers were Las Vegas quality. Rating: 10 Ship: Great facilities, easy to find , very clean. Rating 10 Getting on and off the ship: The ports were we had to tender were a real pain. It was like the ship had never done this before. We were in line to get on a privately organized tour and the elevators emptied right int the middle of the line waiting to get off which resulted in us getting further and further back. Someone complained to the crew and they said they did not have enough staff to keep people getting off the elevators from merging in the front of the line. They could have roped it off in advance or something. The ports where we could walk off were no problem, no lines, no delays, and well managed. Rating: 5.5 Ports: The ports we visited were about what we expected. We had been to several of the same ones a couple of times and visited a couple of new ones and all were enjoyable. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2010
This was our 4th cruise, 1st with Royal Caribbean.. Embarkation: we arrived at 12:30 at San DIego Pier- we were on the boat and in the Windjammer Cafe in less than 45 minutes- most of the line, and confusion was with security- Food: ... Read More
This was our 4th cruise, 1st with Royal Caribbean.. Embarkation: we arrived at 12:30 at San DIego Pier- we were on the boat and in the Windjammer Cafe in less than 45 minutes- most of the line, and confusion was with security- Food: Seaview Cafe was the best food on the boat- (also Vinnie at the bar was really nice) -the dining room was a mess- we ate there just 5 nights because we just could not take the 2 hour plus dining experience- the staff is stretched thin with very large (8-12 people) tables- the food was lack luster- the selection was limited- even compared to Carnival- it was hard to carry on a conversation because it was just so loud and it just wasn't all that fun. -the Windjammer Cafe - breakfast was pretty much the same thing everyday. omelets took about 8-10 minutes and they had smoked salmon every morning. Lunch was hit and miss- they have hot dogs and hamburgers, cold cuts and your basic lunch items- they had pretty good nacho makings. Dinner actually served pretty much everything that the dining room was serving minus the 2 hour dining time. The coconut cookies were a favorite. Room service- pretty decent- though the eggs and potatoes were laughable- cold potatoes and a small scoop of eggs wasn't what I had in mind. Though they are very quick- they would call the room and within 2 minutes would be there. We did not try the restaurants that were additional cost. Drinks were pricey, but they were not stingy with the booze; however if you have the soda package you will always get the fountain or from a 2 liter and alot of times the soda was flat! The Room: Overall size was good- adequate closet and storage(the life-jackets for 8 people were all in the closet) Bed- hard, felt like a pull out bed- back aches, neck aches you name it- 10 days on that bed was tough. Sheets were okay- no duvet cover or down. The pillows-one was more fluffy than the other, but again no down and they were uncomfortable- even Carnival has better bedding. The shower- felt like a 2 x 2 area; they tried to add more area by rounding the shower curtain, but it still is small (we nick-named it the 'stress box')- there was always water on the floor-and the water temp fluctuated alot- I found later at night you had the best shot of a shower that did not go cold in the middle of it. the faucet never warmed up unless you let it run for 3 minutes or more..We did not experience the plumbing problems- but we saw the wet/dry vac alot in the hallway. No music channels on the tv-not a big deal but when you are on the balcony some music would have been nice. No chocolates(!) and towel animals every other night. and why do they allow smoking on the balconies? I booked a non smoking room because I do not want to smell it! they have plenty of places on the ship to smoke- eliminate it from the balcony!! The ship: not sure why the ship creaks so much but it sounds like it needs to be dipped in WD-40. it, along with the bed, kept us up alot at night. It is a beautiful ship- and it is easy to get around. The pools are salt water and were really warm until after Cabo. The whirlpool had so much chlorine it stung your eyes to be in it. The solarium was a nice place but needed more air flow because of the chlorine fumes. The miniature golf course was fun. The rock wall was tried a couple times from a person in our party and he liked it- There was some points in the shops hallway that the floor gave alot...The theater was nice, but the sound was awful! 10 days the same movies rotated. I don't believe it was a full cruise as we sometimes found ourselves to be the only foursome on a deck or in an area- that was very nice compared to the larger ships out there. Entertainment: maybe I should pre-phrase this with we were not the average age on the boat- the average passenger age was above 50 so this may have had something to do with the entertainment being geared to an older crowd.. I personally could not sit through the song and dance shows, the magic show was entertaining. We spent most of our time in the Colony Club- that's where most of the action happens - they had a great Mambo band on board - The Mambo Trio- which were really, really good. The Quest game was hilarious! it is an adult scavenger hunt that you must see to believe. They really need to start the nightly entertainment earlier in the evening and earlier in the cruise- the pool tables were fun- they did make me a little woozy trying to focus on the ball and the table. Shopping: are all the on board shops on Carnival, R.C. and Celebrity owned by the same company? they had the same stuff for sale- same booze selection, same make up, same jewelry, same Christmas ornaments. Scrap-booking items?nothing for sale on the boat except some sad photo albums. Very disappointing. The staff: not sure if it was just me but the crew acted like they did not want to be there- there were some highlights like Al our stateroom person, Vinnie in the Seaview or Jonathon in the Windjammer but beyond that none of them really made a lasting impression. the best about that was it was not an automatic gratuity- which meant you could tip accordingly to their service level. Disembarkation- fast enough- we did hang out in the outdoor seating are in the Windjammer until almost 10:00- watching the crew wrap crates of silverware. Overall the Radiance was okay- we chose this cruise for the itinerary- we had a good time and maybe we will return to Royal Caribbean someday. Read Less
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