100 San Diego Royal Caribbean Radiance of the Seas Cruise Reviews

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 October 2011
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
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 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 May 2010
This was a our 7th cruise, our fourth on Royal Caribbean,over a 20 year period. Last year we did a Panama Canal cruise on the Jewel, a Radiance class ship. It was nice after boarding to already know the layout of the ship. This cruise ... Read More
This was a our 7th cruise, our fourth on Royal Caribbean,over a 20 year period. Last year we did a Panama Canal cruise on the Jewel, a Radiance class ship. It was nice after boarding to already know the layout of the ship. This cruise was, as was the cruise on the Jewel, top notch. We love Royal Caribbean and have never had a bad experience on any of their ships. Cruise Detail: CABIN - Our stateroom on the 9th deck was just behind the centrum was very quiet and was convenient to everything. FOOD - We ate in the dining room for every evening meal on the My Time Dining plan. After the third night we joined with three other couples we liked and ate together the rest of the cruise. It was just like the early seating only we got to choose our table mates. We always found food we liked on the menu and in the Windjammer. SERVICE - We would like to make special mention of our waiter and his assistant, Arthur from Peru and Micheline from South Africa. They were the most pleasant and efficient and friendly waiters we ever had on a cruise. They added much enjoyment to our cruise experience. Our cabin steward took care of all our needs. We didn't see him much but didn't need to. ACTIVITIES - One of our main focuses was ballroom dancing. We took every dance class that Joyce and Sam offered. They were excellent teachers and interesting people. We learned some new dances and improved the ones we already knew. Joyce, a music history major in college, also gave a couple of enrichment presentations that we attended. Those were very enjoyable and interesting as well. There were many places to dance on the ship and several different groups to dance to. We got to know the other hard core dancers and formed friendships with them. We especially liked the Sock Hop, which was led by our great cruise director, and dancing to the ships orchestra. I wished the orchestra had been available for more than one night. ENTERTAINMENT - We've heard people complain about the entertainment on other posts but we were extremely pleased. We enjoyed all the shows and the dance bands. The classical guitarist was the best I've ever heard and the Rosario Strings were great as always. We didn't encounter any of the previously reported plumbing problems although there were unpleasant odors in some of the public restrooms. All in all was a great cruise. Kudos to Royal Caribbean for giving us a consistently wonderful cruise experience. Read Less
Sail Date April 2010
We just returned from the 10 night Mexican Riviera cruise onboard our favorite ship, the Radiance. For being as old as she is, I think the ship is kept in great condition and we didn't notice any problems. This was my 10th and ... Read More
We just returned from the 10 night Mexican Riviera cruise onboard our favorite ship, the Radiance. For being as old as she is, I think the ship is kept in great condition and we didn't notice any problems. This was my 10th and hubby's 11th cruise with RCI and they are our favorite cruise line. We had a balcony room and our stateroom attendant was great. Didn't see him too much but he was always friendly when we did and would get the door for us. He also made some wonderful towel animals, always a plus! Thankfully, we had no plumbing problems but I have heard of others onboard this cruise that did. The food was also good. We ate in the MDR most nights and tried My Time Dining for the first time and liked it. We were able to get the same table at the same time each night with our friends and have the same wait staff. Our waiter Sal from the Philippines was wonderful as well as his assistant. The head waiter was also great, one of the best we have ever had. He was attentive and talked to our throughout our cruise. Quite often the head waiters wait until the last few days to introduce themselves but not this one. The ports of call were good. I could do without Acapulco though. I found the people there to be very pushy and the city was just too crowded for me. I didn't feel safe either. Zihuatanejo was beautiful and our favorite port because of what a small quaint town it was and the people were nice. It was another great cruise done by RCI and we were also lucky to be cruising with some fun new and old friends!! I am looking forward to our next cruise to Australia onboard the beautiful Radiance! Read Less
Sail Date April 2010
This was our 7th cruise with Royal Caribbean and our first to the Mexican Riviera. We had planned to celebrate our anniversary in January but in the end chose to delay a cruise until the spring. The price and itinerary made this especially ... Read More
This was our 7th cruise with Royal Caribbean and our first to the Mexican Riviera. We had planned to celebrate our anniversary in January but in the end chose to delay a cruise until the spring. The price and itinerary made this especially attractive. We had been to San Diego a couple of times before, including for our honeymoon 25 years ago. We have noticed a lot of changes since then. We think San Diego is a great vacation location and so decided to stay 2 days in San Diego following the cruise. We stayed overnight in San Diego before our cruise, arriving late and staying at the Days Inn Harborview. It was also an excellent value - a clean comfortable room, free internet (although the signal was not especially strong), a reasonable breakfast and free shuttle service, to/from the airport and cruise terminal. We arrived at the cruise terminal about 1145. Embarkation went very smoothly and I surprised my wife with anniversary decorations, flowers, wine, cheese and fruit in our cabin that I had arranged beforehand by calling the cruiseline. We were very happy with our balcony stateroom. It was quite spacious and only the second time we had had a balcony. The food on board was good to very good. We took all of our suppers in the MDR except for one dinner in Chops steakhouse and one in Portofinos, the Italian restaurant. We enjoyed both but still prefer Portofinos, particularly the seafood skewer. Entertainment on board was generally good. We really enjoyed the Mexican folk show that the ship embarked in Acapulco. We also subscribed to using their thermotherapy suite in their spa area which we enjoyed. Heated, tiled lounge seats, steam sauna, dry sauna and aromatherapy room. We liked the seats and the steam sauna. Only one of the two special rain forest showers worked and it failed to deliver the ice cold drenching shower that it promised. Read Less
Sail Date April 2010
This was our first time cruising and we're glad we did it with RCI. We had a fantastic time, met a lot of wonderful people on the ship and off and are looking forward to going on a cruise again some day. This is a great cruise ... Read More
This was our first time cruising and we're glad we did it with RCI. We had a fantastic time, met a lot of wonderful people on the ship and off and are looking forward to going on a cruise again some day. This is a great cruise because it stops in six ports. My very own six pack. Each port was a joy to visit (except for one) and have the pictures to prove it. :) Emarkation and deemarkation was smooth, quick and efficient . They had a Karaoke Superstar Contest while we were on the ship, so I tried out for it. It was unreal because I had never Karaoked before in my life. My husband told me to try it because we weren't going to see any of these people ever again. I made it to the 8 finalists, having a blast the entire time. The man that actually won the Karaoke Contest was so good, he should be a professional. Our stateroom was most excellent. Clean and roomier than we had expected it to be. Our stateroom attendant was always around to help us with anything we wished. She was always in a good mood and wearing a smile. The main dining room had terrific choices for dinner. WE never ate anywhere for dinner other than the MDR. Our waiter and assistant were great too. She was most attentive, giving us all the things we needed in the evening. I tried something new and exciting every single night. It was fun. Our table mates were great and I hope we see them again some day on another cruise. 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
Embarkation at San Diego was quick and easy and it's worth mentioning that we stayed at the Holiday Inn just across the road from the cruise terminal which was amazingly convenient. The cabin (stateroom) and bathroom were clean and ... Read More
Embarkation at San Diego was quick and easy and it's worth mentioning that we stayed at the Holiday Inn just across the road from the cruise terminal which was amazingly convenient. The cabin (stateroom) and bathroom were clean and showed almost no sign of wear and tear. The itinerary was an excellent balance of ports of call and days at sea. There was a full day at sea at the start before arriving at Cabo San Lucas. On the return there were 2 days at sea after leaving Puerto Vallarta and we would have preferred the 2 days at sea to be at the start of the cruise as opposed to at the end of the cruise. The other places visited were Mazatlan, Acapulco and Ixtapa (Zihuatanejo). In Cabo we hit the beach which is lively and entertaining. In Mazatlan we did the canopy zip lining tour which we booked direct with the organiser via the web saving ourselves some $40 per person - great fun and recommended. In Acapulco we hired a taxi and guide for a 4 hour tour with the main aim of seeing the world famous divers which for us was just about the only thing worth seeing. We saw the divers from the El Mirador hotel where for a small fee we had 2 drinks each and we added some cheesy nachos. We had a fantastic view of the divers from our table on the shady terrace. In Zihuatanejo we went ashore for a couple of hours for a walk around the very pretty town where we noticed the ship's crew buying freshly landed fish on the beach. In Puerto Vallarta we spent the day on the beach where the swimming was excellent. On the days at sea we had no problem finding empty sunbeds however the incessant live music nearly drove us mad - whatever happened to some peace and quiet? Live music is great in small doses and especially if the band and singer are good - this band was pretty bad! The bar waiters always seem to be around when you least feel like a drink and then you can never find one when you do. Drink prices are high as is the compulsory service charge however you expect that with American cruise lines. What we dislike is the space for additional tips on all the cabin charge receipts and the need to fill out the total before signing. We believe that this puts passengers under pressure to tip even though the 15% service charge is already added. We ate breakfast in our cabin most mornings in an attempt not to eat too much. Room service is not bad but one morning our breakfast came almost an hour earlier than requested. Often the order was incorrect and one of our biggest grumbles is that the hot water for tea is delivered in a jug that has been used for coffee therefore the water is always tainted by coffee flavour and makes the tea taste revolting. Royal Caribbean - you have to do something about this because the staff do not understand the frustration when they consistently keep bringing coffee flavoured hot water for tea. The only way to get a decent cup of tea was to either buy it at Lattetudes or after dinner when it was served in a proper tea pot. Breakfast and lunch in the Windjammer cafe is excellent and the quality of the food cannot be faulted. In fact the food in the Windjammer is far superior to the food served in the main restaurant (Cascades). The only complaint we had about Windjammer is the time it takes for the tables to be cleared after they have been vacated especially on the outside terrace where the staff don't appear to be under supervision. However we now wish that we had eaten in the Windjammer for some of our dinners as the food is so much better. The service we received in the restaurant was excellent by our waiter Sergey and his assistant. However apart from a few exceptions the food was a disappointment. The food delivered often did not resemble the menu descriptions and the main thing missing was taste! On 3 occasions we ate in the premium restaurants at a supplement of $20 per person which is well worth the additional charge. The Chops Grille was good but not fantastic however the Portofino was excellent. Wine is very expensive and we purchased the Platinum wine package to try to get some of the better wines at a slight reduction. Again the service charge is a killer! The entertainment was very good as far as cruise ship entertainment goes however we still don't like the shows for second sitting diners being before dinner as opposed to after. We only saw 3 shows as a result and would definitely had seen more if they followed dinner. The Starquest nightclub and bar on deck 13 is a great venue with its revolving bar - much better than being housed below decks like on the bigger ships. As usual though with all Royal Caribbean and Celebrity DJs the DJ played music that he liked and not what the audience wanted unless it was a themed night e.g. 70s, 80s or Motown. Also he was quite rude, even over the microphone when we pointed out that no one was dancing. It's unfortunate when staff forget who the customers are. However we met a great crowd of people in this bar and we managed to have a great time despite the DJs choice of music and as mentioned it is the same on all Royal Caribbean and Celebrity ships we've cruised on. We did chat to the Cruise Director about it and he sympathised and apologised. The cabin was kept very clean however our cabin attendant was not exactly the most friendly of people although polite at all times. Be warned - don't use the laundry facilities as your clothes will be ruined. They will either shrink or be discoloured. We had a number of shirts and T shirts laundered on board and they are ruined, not noticed until we returned to the UK. All in all we had a great holiday and despite the moans about food etc above we would still cruise with Royal Caribbean if the itinerary suits and the choice of cruise lines is limited and preferably on a Radiance class ship. However there are visible cutbacks and it is reflected in the quality of the food which after all is a key element of the cruise. We believe that this needs to be addressed by the company otherwise passengers will migrate to other companies. 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
Sail Date April 2010
First, sorry for my bad english. I can not use the same words to descript this review as detailed like others do. This cruise was our 4. cruise (Royal, Carnival and Costa). We enjoyed the cruise very well. We started in San Diego where the ... Read More
First, sorry for my bad english. I can not use the same words to descript this review as detailed like others do. This cruise was our 4. cruise (Royal, Carnival and Costa). We enjoyed the cruise very well. We started in San Diego where the embarking was very fast. We stayed at the pier at 11.30 h a.m. an on bord a half hour later. Our stateroom was allready at 2 p.m. after we had lunch. We had a balcony room with lot of space for two people with normal sizes (also in the bathroom and the shower (curtain))The staterooms were made for people there are in good shape, others have to knew that. All day the cabine was clean and the steward was very helpful and friendly. We had no problems at all (no plumping or other problems). The ships interior for us was very nice, not overloaded like carnival. As we knew that they had no table reservation for our first setting in the main restaurant, the headwaiter give us a table in an second room. First we didn`t need that, than we enjoyed it. The room with 4 tables was a very quiet place. The dinner was every time very good, also in the windjammercafe, we had dinner there for three times. Where over the world you get sushi as much as you want, and pay nothing more? The rest of the buffet there, breakfast an dinner was very good. The dinner times in the windjammer we enjoyed so much, there were so less people, you can`t believe it. And all the time the food was excellent. If you don't need the pool with his music, you find always a quiet place on the ship. The first shows at the theater were not good an very short. Than the shows were better every day. To the ship: it is an ship 9 years old, so what? There is an spot on the carpet in the hallway where every day cruise 2000 people? Ha, ha. What for a critic! On the other hand, people they pick food like an tower on their dishes an eating less this is for me immoderate. I see that so many times, unbelievable. The stuff overall was friendly. We like that ship, that cruising, the port of calls Read Less
Sail Date April 2010
Pre-hotel stay: We flew in the day before and stayed at the Holiday Inn San Diego on the Bay. They have free airport pick up every ½ hour. Great hotel, and was very nice to see the ship out the window when we woke up the next morning! ... Read More
Pre-hotel stay: We flew in the day before and stayed at the Holiday Inn San Diego on the Bay. They have free airport pick up every ½ hour. Great hotel, and was very nice to see the ship out the window when we woke up the next morning! The hotel is so close you can walk to the port. They do offer free transfers to the port as well, but we chose to walk it was quicker, and all our luggage was easily pulled. Ship: The ship is beautiful, we have traveled on many of the voyager class ships as well as Celebrity and Disney, but I think the Radiance class is my favorite. My husband and I had sailed her to Alaska. I love seeing the ocean all the time from the public areas and the elevators. Food: I thought the food was very good. The Windjammer had lots of variety. The main dining room food was very good this time. Although some of the selections maybe weren't as good as in the past, I think the actually taste was better. Our waiter, Ashley from India was excellent. He always helped steer us to the best choices which I think helped. Seemed like there was more chocolate desserts on this trip, which was lacking the last time we cruised. Only problems with food/dining was that we were at a table for 8 on deck 5 (second deck of dining room). Our table was right inside the door against the back wall and the dining room was very warm every night. Second issue was we were traveling with my parents who live in another state, so this trip was an opportunity to spend time with them. On other cruises we like to sit at large tables with other people, but this time we had hoped for a table with just us. We asked for a table for 8, assuming that with 7 of us, we would have a table to ourselves. Surprisingly on the first night about 15 minutes into the seating they sat an older gentleman with us, who was travelling alone. I would have thought they would put single travelers together, or at least at a table that was a mixture of different people so there would be ample opportunity to meet people. While the gentleman was very nice, it was awkward to have family conversations because we had to keep filling him in on what we were discussing. Thought after the first night he would request a different table, but he didn't so here was there every night. Cabins: We had two cabins next to each other on deck 4, outside cabins, 4052 and 4054. (My parents were in balcony room on deck 7). Our rooms were in a very good locations, only 6 or so rooms from the elevators and Centrum. Very good room steward who was patient with my boy's room. This was our first time with the boys not in a connecting cabin. Guest relations were very happy to give us an extra key for their room. Entertainment: The shows in the theatre were hit and miss. A comedian and magician were very good, but the production shows, and others were just ok. One we thought was horrible was Judy Koba, (sp?) but entertainment is very subjective. The entertainment around the ship was excellent! There was a classical guitar player that was so good every time he played in the Centrum there would be people everywhere listening on all the levels. The Centrum was very busy all the time which was nice, with lots of activities/music and even people dancing. Teen clubs: My kids had an excellent time. The teen program is different than the kids club, not as structured and often times they don't do an activity because there aren't enough kids interested. Therefore, it is very important to go the first night to find other kids their age so they have someone to hang out with all week. My boys met some great kids from England, Scotland, Ohio and California and hung around with them the whole trip. It was Spring Break so there were probably many more teens on board than a normal 10 day sailing, but not so many that it was crazy. There didn't seem to be as many in the younger age groups, of 4-11 years. Sometimes they did the activities, like dodge ball, or just hung out in the teen area, and often around deck 12 in the evening. There was a 1 am curfew on the ship which was nice, so they knew they had to be back by then to avoid getting in trouble. Debarkation: Went very smooth, we had Orange tags and were told to wait in the Deck 5 dining room. We were off the ship by 9:15 or so, very quick to find luggage and get a cab to the airport. All we had to do was turn our form in to customs, they didn't check our passports or anything like on other ships. Ports: Cabo San Lucas - We went to Medondo Beach to Billigans. A lot of fun, the water was a bit cold, but it was a very beautiful beach. The sand on the beach was very coarse. The drinks and food were good but a bit expensive. This was the most expensive of the 3 beaches we went to. This was the most beautiful port, make sure you are on deck when heading into this port, lands end was just gorgeous! Mazatlan - The ship docked at a container area, not pretty by any means. Everyone had to take a free but compulsory tram to the cruise terminal which was about a 3 or 4 minute ride through all the containers. We walked the few blocks to the water taxi to Stone Island. We were the only ones walking that way, so weren't sure if we were going in the right direction, but did find our way. Water taxi is only $2 per person round trip. Once over there we walked just a little bit across some rocks and we were on the beach. Very different from the beach in Cabo, much more primitive and natural, with the sand very fine and dark. I don't remember the name of the restaurant we sat at, but had a few beers and rented a kayak. The waves weren't very big here, but were fun to play in. Water was a bit warmer than in Cabo. Acapulco - We had a tour with Sammy from Tourbyvan. Very good tour, went to all kinds of places here, saw lots of history as well as the markets where the locals shop. He told us a lot of history of the area , he had lived there is whole life and we got to see the cliff divers. I had always wanted to see Acapulco and it was one of the reasons we chose the 10 day trip on Radiance over the 7 day on Mariner. It was kind of sad to see that Acapulco is past its prime. Sammy was telling us how there is 35% unemployment, and that once Cancun was built the tourism really dropped in Acapulco. Many of the hotel chains have pulled out of the city. This was a very hot day when not in the air conditioned van. Ixtapa/Zihuatanejo - We went to Playa La Ropa beach. This was the biggest waves we had of the three beach stops. Beautiful with the ship in the background with the warmest water. We had a lot of fun at this port. We had a few drinks but didn't eat here. We went back to the ship for that. The town of Zihuatanejo was very nice and had some good shopping. Puerto Vallarta - The ship docks directly across from the Walmart and Sam's Club. Very weird to see that out the cabin window! We did go to the Walmart, but didn't see anything worth buying. We took a taxi to the downtown area. It was very nice shopping and we got the best souvenirs here. This was the only overcast day we had the whole trip. The boys chose not to go to the beach that day, I think they were beached out. Read Less
Sail Date April 2010
Introduction This was our third cruise on Radiance. We had done B2B cruises last April from Buenos Aires to Valparaiso and then Valparaiso to San Diego. Because of the "Swine Flu" problems in Mexico we were not able to stop at ... Read More
Introduction This was our third cruise on Radiance. We had done B2B cruises last April from Buenos Aires to Valparaiso and then Valparaiso to San Diego. Because of the "Swine Flu" problems in Mexico we were not able to stop at three Mexican ports (Huatulco, Puerto Vallarta, Cabo). Captain Selvag and the folks in Miami compensated us generously with a FCC equal to 1/4 of the cost of our cruise. The only condition was that it had to be used on Radiance or Mariner and it had to be on a Mexican Riviera cruise. This showed real class to us. They were under no legal obligation to do anything except get us to our final destination which they did one day early. We were given the choice of spending a night onboard in San Diego (which we did) or disembarking on the first day. The FCC was the main reason we did this cruise. Sadly it wasn't combinable with the Diamond Balcony credit or the Shareholder Credit. Boarding We had taken the Amtrak Surfliner to San Diego from our home in Santa Barbara (It's a beautiful train ride with much of it being right next to the ocean!) and had an easy walk from the old Santa Fe depot to the pier. We did not have tags for our bags but that was taken care of very quickly and we were soon inside to begin the boarding process. This was our first cruise as Diamond members of C&A and we appreciated the special line. It took perhaps fifteen minutes for us to complete the checkin process and proceed to our cabin. It was ready so we were able to drop our carryons, meet our cabin attendant and head up to the Windjammer for some lunch. We were pleasantly surprised to find two people we had cruised with on our South America cruises already there and even more surprised to find our favorite waiter, "Ida From Idaho" (Actually from Bali) there to greet us. Cabin We were fortunate enough to have the same cabin we had from Buenos Aires to Valparaiso. 9594 is a D1 balcony at the aft edge of the "hump". Because of that it has a somewhat larger balcony and a nice view aft as well as straight out. It is also very close to the elevators (no problem with noise) and the Library which is an excellent wi-fi hotspot. The cabin was in good repair and we only had one problem with the plumbing. There was never any really hot water in the sink. The shower curtain, of course, becomes your new best friend. Our attendant, Inyoman, was outstanding. He always had a smile and we never came back to the cabin without finding it made up. He was very quick to take care of a few special requests: Isotonic pillows, extra red and white wine glasses and ice twice a day. Our bathrobes and Diamond coupon books were in the cabin when we boarded. One very small complaint is that there are no more free postcards of the ship. They were available for 50 cents each in the Gift Shop but they didn't seem to sell many. I think they are missing out on a good publicity opportunity here. Food The food in all of the venues we tried was very good to excellent. We were on MTD and, except for a few nights, were able to have the time and table we wanted. It was really nice to have Ida back. He would, most nights, just tell me what I should have or shake his head if I made a choice he didn't think I would enjoy. (Remember, we had spent 29 days together going around South America.) His assistant, John from Goa, was also outstanding. Every night he brought the bread we each liked without asking and when I had my after dinner coffee he would bring the cream and pour it for me. He will move up very quickly. One night, through a misunderstanding with reservations for MTD, we had dinner in the Windjammer. We were pleasantly surprised by the quality and variety of food. We renewed our acquaintance with the manager (She also happens to be the Captain's wife.) and told her how pleased we were. We ate at Chops one night and had a wonderful meal. It is well worth the surcharge for the food and the atmosphere. They do offer one of the Chop's steaks on the MDR menu at a surcharge but I would suggest going for the whole deal! Diamond Experience Since this was our first time on RCCL as Diamond we were interested in what would be offered. The coupons are pretty standard but were useful for buying internet time and for a couple of glasses of wine on the "2 for 1" offer. The best perks, though, were the lounge event in the evening and breakfast in Portofino. They used the Hollywood Odyssey for the Diamond/Diamond Plus lounge and we really enjoyed the complimentary wine and discounted cocktails. Because we went when most people were at Early Sitting it was never crowded. Beresford was our bartender and he does a generous pour. Breakfast was a real treat. There was always a nice special and the service was good and very personalized. Ports Cabo San Lucas -- We did an independently arranged whale watching trip on the Pez Gato. It was a fun way to spend a couple of hours and we did see whales up close! Mazatlan -- We did another private tour here that included the highlights of both the old town and the "Golden Zone". We had a pleasant lunch on the beach at "Tony's On the Beach". The tour was led by "Mazatlan Frank" who does a great job. He learned his English is Canada as a kid. A special treat was having his eight year old son Fernando along as "Assistant". There was no school because of Mardi Gras. Acapulco -- Yet another private tour, this one with "Rudy". He does a great job and we got the highlights of old and new Acapulco. It's a bit sad to see this resort in the state it is in, however. We had a nice lunch on the beach at Playa Caleta and Rudy also took us to the Casa Blanca hotel which is almost in ruins. It was "the" hotel in the '40's and '50's and the view is still spectacular. Ixtapa/Zihuatanejo -- We really liked Zihuat. We didn't go to Ixtapa at all since we met up with friends from San Diego who were in port on their 50 foot catamaran. We hung out with them, did some shopping in the mercado and just generally soaked up the atmosphere. From nowhere the Spanish for orange juicer (exprimadora), which is what they were looking for, came to me. We bought it for them as a boat gift. Puerto Vallarta -- We were surprised when we came back to our cabin after breakfast to find that our view was of a huge WalMart. We had booked another private tour here with Alfredo AKA "El Oso". He is a friend of Mazatlan Frank's and does an excellent job. We had some free time in the old part of town where I found the hotel I'd stayed in 40 years ago and also the "Sister City" dolphin fountain from Santa Barbara. They've done a nice job of cleaning up the area. From there we drove down the coast with a stop for drinks and guacamole and views at "El Set" and also at Mismaloya. Our last stop was at a small, family run Tequila Factory. It was interesting to see the process and also sample the wares. On board Activities The Activities Staff was busy all the time. We played BINGO a couple of times and our team ended up winning the "Progressive Trivia" competition. We got nice shirts, and other gifts. The shows were good to very good. It was especially good to see "Tango Buenos Aires" again. It is probably the best show we have ever seen on a cruise ship but I understand that the contract is up and the show is not on the schedule any more. There is a version of "Don't Cry For Me, Argentina"/"No me llores, Argentina" that is just incredible. We saw this production twice on the South America cruises and once on this one and the crowd went wild with a true standing ovation all three times. Disembarkation We had a leisurely breakfast in the Windjammer and then headed to the Diamond/Diamond Plus waiting area in the MDR. There were too many people for that area and very little organization. The young woman calling groups really needed a microphone. Once our group was called, though, we were off the ship quickly and found our luggage with no problems. We did the walk back to the train station and had an uneventful train ride back up the coast. Overview We had a great time but don't think we'll go back to any of the ports with the possible exception of Zihuat. We really like Radiance and suspect we would enjoy the other ships in this class as much. The only real complaint we had was on the second South America cruise where we had a Jr. Suite that was near the stern. It is a loooong walk from there to the Centrum. Thanks to Captain Trym Selvag and Officers and crew! Our next cruises will be on Navigator and we will report back on how we liked the larger ships. Read Less
Sail Date March 2010
We were on our 5 Radiance class Royal Caribbean cruise on a 10 night Mexico. We'd been on the Brilliance for a transatlantic, the Serenade for several Ultimate Alaska repositionings and decided to head to the warm on the Radiance. ... Read More
We were on our 5 Radiance class Royal Caribbean cruise on a 10 night Mexico. We'd been on the Brilliance for a transatlantic, the Serenade for several Ultimate Alaska repositionings and decided to head to the warm on the Radiance. The class is our favorits and felt like home at once with several differences in decor. The funniest is what appears to be concrete, deteriorated piles of soccer balls in the entrance to the Cascades dining room both side of deck 5. Made us laugh. We also missed the sculpture of the bathing capped guy with the rubber inner tube in the deck 11 pool area. Other than those and the shower curtains rather than the shower enclosures on the Serenade, a great ship layout. Love the theater curtain! The plumbing problems reported on these boards continued the entire time with decks 7-9 bearing the brunt of non flushing toilets and water turn offs. Although our lower hall had wet carpet under foot and workmen tearing wall & ceiling panels off looking for the problems. One of our tablemates reported that she woke at 4 am to use the toilet, found no water or flush and ended up heading to deck 11 in a bathing suit cover up to use the rest room, found the water off, and had to use deck 6. We had an oceanview, as we were later in the year than usual for us and knew it would be too hot for us to make much use of the balcony (hey! we're Pacific Northwest!) with one of the best room stewards we've ever had. Alberto from the Philippines. Really efficient and the first time we've ever gotten a lobster as a towel animal! Cool!!! The entertainment was really outstanding with Fallon Magic (whom we had in Alaska on the Serenade last y3ear and really enjoyed) who did Mastering The Mystery shows with a hypnotim show as well (and an intimate afternoon show for the Platinum & diamonds. The Tango Buenos Ares was spectacular but unfortunately the last as the star duo ended their contract & headed back to Argentina. WOW!!!! The juggler Dan Bennet was teriffic with a bird & a vulture. Couldn't believe he could show what an out of sync TV track looks like with the mouth moving and the words coming out at a different tempo. Gary Mule Dale was great comedy & a little Johnny Cash. There were great dance groups, a classical guitarist, tango combo, pianist...some of the best cruise entertainment we've seen. We played lots of trivia and our team of 4 came in 2nd to a team of 8. We were thrilled!!! Thanks to Chris & Jim!!! There was so many activities. The ports were not a big deal for us as we had visited them all before and only got off for 2 because of the heat. It was upper 80s to low 90s with that much humidity. But who cares when you are on a cruise! The food was ho hum...RCCL has unfortunately been declining in the food department as far as we are concerned. The main dining service was very good but the food choices have been reduced and I had a hard time finding some vegetarian choices that weren't high fat or Indian. I LOVE Indian, but theirs is a bit too hot for me, and was usually the only non meat choice on the menu. I do eat fish & chicken, but (and my DH who will eat most anything) also felt there was not a varied enough menu. Where the tragedy comes in is the last formal night, during the platinum & diamond Captain's cocktail party the call rang out Oscar! Oscar! port sidee...which means man overboard. We found out later that a ship's employee had jumped off deck 12 the the horro of folks enjoying the sunset up there. The response was immediate, dramatic and emeplary. The person was located and brought onboard, but to no avail. There was a somber note for the last 2 days of the cruise. The way the crew and staff handled the incident was perfect and we were kept informed through. Our hearts went out to the young man and his family. We got in this morning and flew home to Seattle, back to cool weather. Now the only thing is...when's the next cruise??? Read Less
Sail Date March 2010
Background Information: We are a cruise loving couple 49 & 57 years old with no children. This was our 32 cruise overall, and our first cruise on Royal Caribbean, but certainly not our last. We live in the San Francisco bay area and ... Read More
Background Information: We are a cruise loving couple 49 & 57 years old with no children. This was our 32 cruise overall, and our first cruise on Royal Caribbean, but certainly not our last. We live in the San Francisco bay area and tend to cruise on the west coast to stay rather close to home, at least at this point in our lives. We have cruised the Mexican Riviera several times prior to this cruise on Princess, Carnival, Norwegian and Celebrity and have stayed at hotels in many of these ports before. Hotel Info: We flew from the bay area to San Diego the morning of the cruise so had no pre-cruise experience to report. We did stay one night afterwards at the Hyatt Grand Manchester Hotel, which is located right at the edge of Seaport Village and also within walking distance of the pier (although wouldn't attempt the walk with luggage). What a great choice, even though by the time the cruise was completed, we were ready to just come home. Although we didn't pay for the more expensive room, they were kind enough to put us into a bay view room with a great view of Coronado and the bridge. The train did wake us up a couple of times during the night, but we were warned of this. As mentioned, we were tired by the time we got back to San Diego (a bit more on that later) so kind of just wanted to go home. We did, however, venture out and did thoroughly enjoy the aircraft carrier museum that was located right next to the cruiseship pier. It was well worth the effort for these tired travellers. If you visit the visitor's center across the street from the cruiseship terminal, they sell the tickets for the museum at a slight discount. The real purpose to make a stop in there, though, is that they spend time with you to make sure you make the most out of your time in San Diego. Great tips to be had with very personable volunteers! Travel To Port of Embarkation: As mentioned, we took the short flight from the bay area to San Diego the morning of the cruise. I love sailing out of San Diego as it is located within just a couple of miles to the pier so once you land, you are almost already there. We got to the pier to see our new residence for the next 11 nights by 11:00 AM. This was the only ship in port and we were pretty early in arriving so absolutely no crowds to contend with. We checked our luggage with the porters (inside the terminal) and proceeded to check in with no lines. After a speedy and efficient check in by a most friendly woman, we directed to the waiting area as boarding had not yet begun. Although the terminal is not the most comfortable one ever seen, it was clean and a Royal Caribbean representative kept us posted on when we could expect to board. We really only waited a matter of 45 minutes and we were well on our way onboard. Ship Info: Once onboard, we were not allowed to drop off our carry on luggage in our room (sometimes this is allowed), so had to drag it along up to the Windjammer to get a bite to eat and sit down. We were happy that the elevators all seemed to be operational and rather quick so we didn't have to carry the luggage up the stairs. Once in the Windjammer, we were rather surprised at how nice the tables and chairs were and also the separate food stations which really cut down on the lines. This could have been ugly because everyone had their carry on luggage, but seemed to move along seamlessly. As it did get later, the Windjammer got a lot more crowded and we were more than happy to share our table with some experienced RCCL pax that gave us tips on how to best enjoy our cruise. This is also where we met AP, a bar server that did her best to meet our request. We had pre-purchased a wine package and were inquiring about having a bottle brought to our table so we could celebrate our sailing. Alas, we were told that the wine had not yet been loaded onboard and we would have to wait until dinner to actually get one of our bottles. One improvement would be if Royal Caribbean would actually allow you to arrange for a bottle of wine in your room to sip during sail away, but it really didn't detract from our overall experience. Plus, it was so nice to meet AP in her attempts to help us out, that we made a friend which we enjoyed chatting with during the entire cruise. Once we were allowed (about 1 1/2 hours later) we made our way down to our room (more on that below) to drop off our luggage and tour the ship. We were greatly impressed by the layout of this ship and all the beautiful woodwork and nautical theme. Oh yes, and all the glass...it was so beautiful. She is certainly the prettiest ship I have ever seen. Nothing seemed to be awkward as we made our way around the decks. We really love ships this size, about 2000-2500 pax capacity and also love having an indoor pool. This area quickly became one of our favorite areas to hang out but spent a lot of time at the outdoor pool as well. We loved the layout of the ship and the ease of getting around. Everything was kept so clean and even though she is a bit older, things seemed to be kept in pretty good condition. The Centrum was fabulous and loved being able to enjoy the entertainment from any level....it never seemed crowded. There were lounge chairs of all different types throughout the ship on the outside decks, although they were packed in a bit tight and those small tables seemed to be nonexistent. However, you could always find a place for some solitude if you wanted. I also loved that aspect of this ship. The Aurora theater and lounges were of ample size and they never seemed overcrowded and we didn't have any trouble getting a seat for the shows or presentations. Oh, and the casino -- have to mention this as we also spent a lot of time in there, too. It was a decent sized casino, typical for a cruiseship. One side was supposed to be non-smoking but that never really caught on. It was fortunate for us that this was not a big smoking cruise even though a fair number of people did not seem to be from California. Formal nights were completely non-smoking so this was our entertainment on these nights. We found some great poker machines but were rarely open and got hooked on that machine that pushes the quarters off the ledge. Needless to say, we left a lot more there than we took out and it didn't seem like anyone was really winning much in there but this is typical for a cruiseship casino. Activities: Cannot believe we missed the Quest activity, everyone mentioned it was a blast. Don't even know when this occurred but we had so much fun that we might just have to hit it next time around. They had some fun activities around the pool, which I love and a pretty decent band that played music from the Caribbean at the pool stage. The activity staff seemed to keep everyone smiling and laughing. We did play the rock and roll music trivia -- almost won, fell a couple of points short is all. That was great fun and met a nice family there as well. Service: This is where Royal Caribbean excelled in my opinion. We had the best customer service of any cruiseline with only Celebrity coming close. I just cannot say enough about the service we received and as mentioned, we aren't Diamond members or anything close. We ran into a couple of issues while on the cruise which were remedied immediately!! One time, our toilet stopped flushing. We received a phone call within 5 minutes of reporting this stating the issue had been fixed and the girl that called offered to wait on the line while I checked on this to make sure we were happy. We also booked one tour that was a total bust, so much so, we took a cab back to the ship. Upon our return, we reported this to the guest relations manager and the tour charge was immediately removed from our shipboard account, as well as the cab fare. No second report necessary, it was immediately resolved. Wow, that is customer service. As mentioned above, AP fast became our favorite bar server. But there are many more staff members that seemed to go above and beyond. John, the MTD coordinator did his best to get us the table we loved from day 1 (as a matter of fact, only one night, he had to seat us elsewhere but still in the same station). Tao, the head waiter checked on us every night to make sure all was perfect and we were happy, happy. Well, how could you be unhappy when Ida (pronounced Eeda) and Davesther were our waiters at table 550. Every night, our wine glasses, white for me and red for my DH, were in proper position when we arrived to our table. More on MTD below. Idessy, our room stewardess and Nelson, her helper, were the BEST room stewards known to man. I cannot say enough about how they anticipated our every need. I like to have a robe for after I take a shower. She was kind enough to locate 2 spares for us to use and she didn't even take them away on the last night of the cruise as is done on some lines. She also made the cutest little family of towel animals, one per night, they kept gathering on the sofa and I ended up using them as holders for my reading and sun glasses. She would move them around from animal to animal to get a laugh out of me...which always worked. One day, I made eyes for all of the critters. We just had so much fun with her...where is she now when I need her so badly?? Ah, we were never in need of anything as she took such great care of us. Stateroom: OK...this is what is going to be hard to beat from here on out. We were on the elevator side of the midship hump. This was by far the nicest balcony cabin we have had in 32 cruises. The D1 categories are more like a mini-suite in comparison to Princess cabins, but without the high price. I like that the curtain actually spanned across the room so I could actually watch TV without disturbing my DS in the bed area. I did have to share the sofa with the 'family of towel animals' but they weren't disturbed too much. Our room location was perfect! We had an extra large balcony with 2 lounge chairs, two sitting chairs and a small table. So much room, we actually napped out on the balcony several times. The bed was quite comfortable as were the pillows. The bathroom was small but efficient. The shower was a bit too small (or are is cruising catching up with me?). I thought the tile in the bathroom was a nice touch and it was definitely a plus to have a medicine chest behind the mirror. We did encounter some brown or yellow water in the toilet (after flushing) from time to time and sometimes (but not too often) did have that nasty smell come up through the shower drain but didn't experience any of the other plumbing problems that we heard so much about on deck 7. This cruise seemed to really effect those on deck 7 with a lot of flooding reported. We really only had the 5 minutes of no flushing happen to us. Overall, we were really pleased with our room choice and especially that balcony. We only smelled someone's smoke a couple of times from other balconies. It really was not that intrusive at all. The ship seemed to be very stable overall, but the room creaked like crazy the first night out and the last night back. It was something me and the 'family' got used to, though, so really wasn't that much of a problem. The only issue was being woken up two nights in a row at the end of the cruise, which is why we were so tired by the time we reached San Diego and just wanted to go back home instead of extending our vacation by one more night. Anyhow, I don't begrudge the captain at all for having to interrupt our sleep for the missing person -- some stupid teenager named Keanna that was sleeping in someone else's room. No more needs to be said about that one ????, other than she really owed everyone an apology including the Captain, whom I am sure was also woken up in the middle of the night. The night before that, I believe, was a medical emergency ....don't really know why that announcement was piped into the staterooms, but it was. The, the very last night, there were pretty rough seas and very creaky noises in the room. Oh, all's well that ends well, though. Dining: We are not extremely picky eaters although I do not eat red meat and my DS does not like fish. We found the room in the main dining room to be quite good and even though we usually do not go to the main dining room dinner every night on a cruise, we didn't miss it once on this cruise. As I mentioned, Ida and Davesther were our waiters and they were so fantastic, we looked forward to seeing them every night. Ida would give us his recommendations and we soon learned to not even bother ordering anything else. He knew what we liked and he was always right on the money. If we ordered something he knew we wouldn't care for, he gave us the cutest nod of the head and we knew we would be making a mistake. He was fabulous, as was Dave. They certainly do have a following, although Dave was taking his vacation right after our cruise. We loved our little table for two back by the kitchen. It was very cozy and we were so comfortable there. We never made it to one of the specialty restaurants but enjoyed the food at the Windjammer, the Seaview Cafe and the Solarium Cafe. Since we were in such a great location, we only got room service once, all the other times, we would just grab a cup of coffee and bring it back down to enjoy on our balcony. The one day we did get room service, it was quick, still hot and the man that delivered it was friendly and almost seemed shocked that we tipped him for the multiple trays of food he brought in. I am used to seeing them with their hands out on other cruiselines and of course we tip everytime we get room service, but for some reason, it didn't seem expected but appreciated from this one. As for the MTD, we were rather hungry the first night at around 6 PM. We waited in the MTD line for about 15-20 minutes. When we finally got to the front of the line, John explained that they were not able to accomodate us at this time (they were jam packed) and asked if we could come back around 8:15. This was really no problem for us as we knew the casino was open. We returned at the requested time and after figuring out the timing of the shows, we requested that same dining time every night at the same table. So, maybe not really 'MY' time dining but it really worked out well for us, nonetheless. I would imagine as more people like this dining option, it will be expanded a bit. I like the option to be available, which is why it took us so long to try Royal Caribbean. Children's Clubs: Don't know about this option but there were several children onboard. A word to those parents that let their children run wild, and they were running wild....up and down the hallways, almost tripping people on the stairs and crashing into everything in site....nobody really appreciates this behavior. Why these parents didn't seem to be watching their kids was beyond my comprehension. Thank goodness this cruise spanned 2 full school weeks or there may have been a disaster onboard...even more so than the 16 year old sleeping(?) in someone else's room in the middle of the night. Entertainment: We usually only watch one production show, which we did, and it was good. We always try to hit the comedy shows, the magicians and newlywed shows. The comedian was quite funny, we missed the magician but found the newlywed show to be very entertaining. I was glad to see it in a venue that seated several hundred people. We went to the hypnotist show, this was very good. Not everyone knew about it as it was in the afternoon but it was a fun thing to do. What I loved was the entertainment in the Centrum every evening. I thought it might be bothersome with our room being right at the edge, but as soon as the stateroom door was closed, it really wasn't noisy at all....although you could hear it faintly. The Asian singer had the most amazing voice, so if I heard her, I made a point of sitting at the library to watch from above. She also sang at the Captain's welcome party...simply awesome. I could listen to her forever. The guitar player was also excellent. There was a 70's show and dancing one night that was a riot. I loved the entertainment of the Centrum...never seen this on any other ship before and I was so impressed. We never went to the disco so cannot speak to this. We did enjoy the band that played by the pool. Disembarkation: This went very smoothly for us. We headed to the Colony Club about 15 minutes before our departure time. They had tables with OJ, coffee and muffins for anyone that may have missed breakfast. They called our color/number and we disembarked about 15 minutes later than the anticipated time (which is excellent). We found our luggage and we out the door in no time. This time, there was another Carnival ship in port that was also disembarking, so a bit crowded out on the sidewalk. We did wait about 20 minutes to get a cab. If we were going to the airport, we would have caught the $5 pp shuttle, but we were staying the one extra night so did need the cab. It didn't seem like the others in line, from both ships, were aware of the shuttle service, as there was no line over there. So, maybe this is something that could be improved upon. Once in the cab, it was only a matter of minutes to get to the hotel. I think we were checked in and in our room by 10:30 AM....so really quick in actuality. Summary: So, this was actually one of the best cruises we have ever been on, mostly because we loved the ship and the ship's crew and staff. We booked all our tours we took through the cruise ship due to all the recent problems with violence down in Mexico and aside from the one problem in Manzanillo, we really had a lot of fun on these excursions. If you are interested in the ports of call (I know this has been a very long review), I will include this below. Read Less
Sail Date March 2010
This was our third cruise with RCI and first on their Radiance Class of ship.Previously we had cruised on the Legend OS and the Explorer OS so this gave us a good contrast with the smaller Legend and larger Explorer.This was my least ... Read More
This was our third cruise with RCI and first on their Radiance Class of ship.Previously we had cruised on the Legend OS and the Explorer OS so this gave us a good contrast with the smaller Legend and larger Explorer.This was my least favorite ship of the three and would probably not book this class again.On all 3 cruises we have sailed in Suites as we prefer fewer cruises but more "perks" and larger accommodations.Overall I was very pleased with just about everything on this cruise except for the few SNAFUs I will cover later. We had spent 3 days in San Diego prior to departure at the US Grant hotel..which for a hotel advertising itself as part of the "Luxury Collection" certainly leaves a lot to be desired in the area of service.No doubt it is a beautifully restored and furnished property but it seems that the staff attitude needs an overhaul.Little things like a pot of coffee pre ordered the night before for a 6am delivery to the room that when phoned to locate at 6.10am and being told "Oh yes its on its way" and then again at 6.30 upon phoning room service being told "Oh we don't have a record of the order..Sorry" Not major disasters but at a hotel claiming to be "Luxury" and charging "Luxury" prices certainly very annoying. Check in on Mar 22 was a breeze.We arrived at the port at 11am and after ridding ourselves of our luggage we proceeded inside to find check in was open.Formalities took about 10 mins and we were on board by 11.25am.As usual rooms are not available until 1pm so we wandered off to the windjammer for a buffet lunch.Ran into a few of our CC friends (group shirts are a great idea BTW) so killing time until 1pm was a breeze. Our stateroom was as expected-spacious-lots of storage and very nicely decorated with warm colors and comfortable sitting area.One comment on the balconies for the OS-on both Radiance and Explorer the balcony is MINISCULE (57 sq.ft.) and only has room for a small table and 2 lawn chairs-no chance of a chaise fitting on such a small space.If you like to spend a lot of time on your balcony you should probably stay in a different cabin.We met our Cabin Attendant shortly after arriving in our room-a gem of a young man named Ferree from the Philippines.He is without doubt the best steward we have ever had. Not pushy but uncannily seemed to know when we needed something and magically appeared at the right time.Anything we asked for was provided immediately and with a beaming smile. Food on the Radiance was generally very good with lots of choices and options for all those "finicky" eaters that seem to take delight in slamming RCL food. Considering you have anywhere from 2000-3000 people in the middle of the ocean consuming upwards if 12000 meals a day I think anyone that complains about menu options and food quality needs to reevaluate their values.Sure you don't get Lobster or Filet Mignon every night but do you eat it every night at home? Our waiters were Roderick and Nicolas and they ensured we had as much food as we could eat served promptly and with a cheerful demeanour.Seconds or even thirds were never a problem..except for my waistband!!! We did use specialty dining twice-once each at Portofinos (OUTSTANDING) and once at Chops (very disappointing).Final comment on Dining experience: I had requested a table for 8-early/main seating at the time of original booking but on arrival on board I always physically check my table to verify I have been assigned what I reserved.To my chagrin we had been assigned a table for 4.After some discussion with one of the staff attempting to sort out MyTime reservations for a throng of impatient passengers I was finally passed over to a Head Waiter who immediately reassigned us to a table for 8 with no problem at all.Minor annoyance but again RCI fixed the error promptly. Entertainment on board this cruise was of a lower standard then previously experienced.One comedian was quite good but the Ageing lounge singer,juggler,lady violin player and even the RoS singers and dancers were not as good as we have experienced on previous cruises.The Cruise Director Kirk Detweiler(sp?)was good and all his staff tried very hard to keep passengers entertained.The Quest was a complete riot as per usual. The minor problems alluded to earlier were two middle of the night alarms that woke the entire ship.One for what turned out to be a medical emergency that required a passenger to be transported to the medical facility on board immediately at 3.30am.The second was a missing persons alarm (1.30am) where a 16yr old girl was reported missing.Happily she was found shortly after apparently asleep in a friends stateroom.We also had a fire alarm one day for a fire in the main galley that required 2 alarm calls before it was under control with no apparent loss of food service. Despite there being a fairly large number of children on this cruise I must commend all parents for the total lack of the usual problems of hallway running/shreiking/dining room wailing and other annoyances.Of the over 100 young'uns on board only one could I classify as an obnoxious brat. Disembarkation was very simple-clear US immigration on board for us non-US citizens by 8am and then simply wait for that process to be completed for all non-US passport holders before we were allowed to leave the ship by color code.We left at 9am -our baggage was waiting as promised and we were out of the port area by 9.20am. Would I use RCI again? You bet I would.I believe they offer very good value for money cruises aimed at a mass market segment of the travelling public and as long as you don't expect Rolls Royce quality and service at Chevrolet prices RCI will continue to be a good choice for a cruise vacation. Read Less
Sail Date March 2010
Recently returned from an eleven night Mexican Riviera cruise on the RCI Radiance. This was our fifth cruise with RCI and we were shocked at the condition of the ship. It was clean but everything including carpeting, drapery and furniture ... Read More
Recently returned from an eleven night Mexican Riviera cruise on the RCI Radiance. This was our fifth cruise with RCI and we were shocked at the condition of the ship. It was clean but everything including carpeting, drapery and furniture was really worn out and needed replacing. The chairs in the lounges sank to the floor, were faded, stained and scratched. Although it must have been nice in its day, we've never been on such a shabby ship. On the positive side the food was much better than expected and the service was friendly and prompt. Getting on the ship was fast and easy but getting off carrying our own luggage which should have been a breeze, was a nightmare. They seemed to be trying to get everybody off at the same time regardless of the color codes or assigned times. The shows and shipboard activities seemed kind of skimpy but a highlight was a guitarist named Ramon who played his heart out for hours in the centrum or in one of the lounges throughout the cruise. His music and the violinist made up for the other lackluster entertainment. We looked forward to quiet times in the solarium but it was always crowded despite what we'd read and it was really difficult to find a quiet lounge to play a game or read. We can't remember being on a ship as noisy as the Radiance. The pool tables by the way are cleverly made to remain level when the ship moves, but you have to realize that just as your about to hit the ball, the table moves to accommodate the ship's rolling, so play for money only when the ship is docked. We had beautiful weather, took private tours at all the ports for no more that $15 a person and saw everything that the ship excursions covered. Most cruisers know to go out early so that you're back on time. With a complete refurbishing, this could again be a nice ship Read Less
Sail Date March 2010
Radiance of the Seas - March 22 - April 2, 2010 !Excellente! My husband, myself, and our three girls (4, 9 and 11) decided to try an 11 night cruise out of San Diego down the Mexican Riviera and then stay an extra 5 days to visit the San ... Read More
Radiance of the Seas - March 22 - April 2, 2010 !Excellente! My husband, myself, and our three girls (4, 9 and 11) decided to try an 11 night cruise out of San Diego down the Mexican Riviera and then stay an extra 5 days to visit the San Diego Zoo and Seaworld. It was great! We have a few tips for those doing a family trip below, and what to expect. The review is a bit lenthy so I've tried to separate it into sections: Booking - First off we booked directly through RCI by phone 6 months in advance to get outside connecting portside cabins and luckily the $200 cabin credits x2. Deck three is nice and quiet! We don't know why it's priced lower than Deck 4's outside cabins. On Deck 3 you have cabins above and below so you don't hear too much. After booking and putting down our deposit we watched the prices and called when the category H price dropped twice (always on a weekend so the travel agents just wouldn't have caught them). We ended up paying about $4100 CAD (plus $500 USD for tips) for the five of us for 11 nights! The cabin credits went towards gift store purchases, babysitting at the Late Night Party Zone, a 7 bottle gold wine package and Pets At Sea. After we put down the deposit and then started to search for flights. We booked those as one-ways on Expedia and the Westjet website as we avoided some tax that way (about $300 CAD/pp). Our 5 night 2 bedroom suite at Homewood Suites Liberty Station was booked through my Gold Visa points ($210/night + tax otherwise). We booked a mid-sized rental car for 5 days with the Entertainment Book coupon for $170 USD which was much cheaper than a mini-van (just use the shuttles instead to move all your luggage to the airport). Altogether with meals and using our AAA card for the San Diego Zoo and SeaWorld we spent just over $9000 CAD for our 17 day holiday. Not bad when you compare to a two week all inclusive for 9- $11,000 CAD with no excursions. Our cost also included the Stone Island Tour and other activities which totaled about $600 US in Mexico. However, if you want to swim with dolphins be prepared to pay a lot more. We mostly look for a nice beach and order beer and snacks when in port. Flight - Our flight from Calgary on Alaska Airlines was on a small plane to Seattle and then after a 3 hr wait, another small plane to San Diego. Total of 9 hours travel and no entertainment at all not even the radio plug-in onboard. Plus we paid $15 US/1st bag each. Good thing we brought our own music and Nintendo DS for the kids. We chose this flight for the price mainly and the fact it arrived the day before the cruise. The flight back on Westjet was much better (and direct in just over 3 hours). And no luggage fees for first 2 bags! But they only fly on Mon/Wed/Fri. We used our Airmiles for a free night's stay at a decent hotel (Best Western Island Palms) but no airport pickup as we arrived in the evening at 8:30 pm. Waited 30 min for a taxi van at the airport as we all wouldn't fit in one cab. Rather ridiculous that all the couples in the line ahead of us got the vans even though we advised the airport worker we would need one. Sorry, but after almost 10 hours travelling with kids I'm not that patient, especially when the youngest falls asleep in my arms while we waited the 30 minutes. The other options was to pay for 2 cabs (we had 5 full sized suitcases and 5 people). It cost about $20 for the van so we waited (instead of paying double). Boarding and Accommodations- The next day at noon we took the hotel shuttle to the cruise dock, and the only ship there was Radiance of the Seas. Boarding the ship was fast, luggage tags helped ensure our luggage made it. It didn't get to our rooms until 5 pm just before our 6 pm dinner. We toured the ship which has glass walled elevators facing out to sea for a breathtaking view daily. The ship has all the amenities we expected and the girls quickly learned which floor was ours (the Mickey Mouse artwork made for great landmarks for deck 3). The glass sculptures were beautiful. The Windjammer was nice once you figured out the layout of everything. We learned to get our drinks on a table we wanted and then we could scatter to gather our food as we knew where to meet. The back open deck past the buffet was the best kept secret too for open air and a beautiful view for breakfasts in port. We had terrific adjoining oceanview rooms 3080 (2) and 3078 (3). I had to phone to get the doors in-between unlocked by the manager - which then stay unlocked until we get off 11 days later. There are two doors back to back though and the soundproofing was pretty good when both were shut. The onboard announcements can be turned down with the switch by the bathroom, but they are always loud when Captain Erik does a fire drill (which happened at 9:30 am in Acapulco when we tried to sleep in) or the medical emergency (not sure why we all had to hear this), and the missing 16 yr old girl that fell asleep in a friend's cabin (the 1 pm curfew revealed her absence). Yawn, sometimes it would be quieter to sleep on a deck chair I think! The room was perfectly big enough for two, a bit squishy for three in the kids cabin but they're smaller so they managed ok. I wouldn't want to have all five of us in a single cabin though. The kids' cabin had a pullman bed right above the two regular beds but lengthwise over the headboards. The ladder went in between the two regular beds and it was a good economy of space. The bed itself was a bit hard so we took the queen topper we found under the beds and folded it a few times to give the bed more cushion. Too bad our bed in 3080 wasn't a little softer - we used all three toppers from under that bed, but it didn't help much.. ... they need to look at getting the foam ones rather than the thin pads. My back was still quite sore even at day 10.... I took to using the cushions from the couch and putting them under my knees for sleeping on my back... and I've given up trying to sleep on my side as if you have hips and aren't built like Sponge Bob Squarepants you'll get very sore hipbones after one night. The kids' beds seemed a bit better. The portholes on deck 3 are about 4 feet in diameter and allow for a good view of the ocean and the ports. We were portside for the first 3 ports which was neat. The ledge under the porthole window was actually an excellent place for storing our 4 yr old's outfits, since she was in our room a lot of the time getting ready to go out. We asked Marsha our room attendant to take the drinks etc from the room fridge and we stored our own bottled water/juice and pop we brought onboard in our luggage. Our boxed wine and boxed margarita mix worked great (bought at Von's which is affiliated with our Canada Safeway brand which was great as we got the discount). Storage was good but took some imagination - I do quite like the dresser area with the cupboard mirrors that you can use with the wall mirror to get all angles of your hair. The dryer has a weird plug but worked just fine, just straight warm air no choice of speeds. The tv is about 20"CRT style that is fine and can swivel a bit between the loveseat and the bed. On our cabin crawl with our cruise critic friends I think just the suites have flat screens (and wow some of them are quite nice rooms). They have about 10 channels or so with movies that they also play at the cinema. The towel animals were a big hit with the kids and the ship had a class where they could learn how to make them. There was some noise while docking or tendering but not too noticeable. One morning some people were chatting quite loudly outside our room for over 5 min waiting for the tender to Ixtapa to start at 7:45 am - but they moved on quietly when I poked my head out into the hallway and mentioned that our little ones were still sleeping. Motion at the beginning while we were getting underway was the most noticeable but gravol did the trick (can't buy bonamine in Canada I guess). The two kids that took it were asleep within 3 hours.... Otherwise, we didn't feel any motion sickness during the whole trip. The bathrooms were clean but 3080 had a semi-permanent smell of outhouse to it.... not sure why, but not a dealbreaker either. Otherwise, good, but 3078's showerhead needed replacing or cleaning as the water sprayed everywhere. At least the shower nozzle can be taken down and used by hand. Take care to make sure your shower curtain stays inside the lip of the shower floor otherwise it will leak into the main bathroom area. The muster drill did not require us to wear our lifejackets (yay!) and the kids each had to wear wristbands indicating their muster station throughout the trip. The staff were quick to replace them if they came off, as parents are asked to not go to the Adventure Ocean if there were a real emergency as the staff would see that they made it to the same muster station as the parents. We toured the Adventure Ocean at 5:30 the first day to sign the kids information forms and get an idea of what their schedules were like. The room attendant will leave the correct age activity planners for you every evening if your kids are signed in for Adventure Ocean at the start of the trip. Our location was about 20 feet from the Centrum elevators - easy to get around and up to the Windjammer/Main pool on deck 11 in the morning, the Adventure Ocean/kids' pool and waterslide/Seaview Cafe on deck 12 and the Main Dining Rooms (Cascades) on decks 4 and 5, the Movie theatre on deck 6, and Latte-tudes on deck 5 and the library/Internet hotspots areas. The only time we walked to the front of the ship was to attend the Aurora Theatre shows. Kirk and Zack were the Cruise Directors - Mindless Chatter with Kirk and Zack - they talk about different things including the contract times for the different workers on the ship. Sounded like the naval crew got the best gig with regards to time off to time working where the regular kitchen staff or Adventure Ocean staff have the longest contracts. Service - Excellent, the Windjammer staff were friendly and tried to make conversation if you looked willing. Our MDR staff Sergey and Luciano were classy and enjoyable to have waiting on us. Marsha our room attendant did have an uncanny way of knowing when we needed something. She was terrific! Food- Oh I'm still stuffed just thinking about it! It was excellent whichever choice you made. Quality rivalled our Independence of the Seas trip in 2009. The Main Dining Room was the best for multi-course meals, with superior service and atmosphere. At home we would pay $150 + for these types of dinners so we didn't miss one (well the kids did a few nights when they were allowed to stay at the kids club for dinner). My Family Time Dining (only available for 6 pm dinner) didn't quite work for us as our kids never got their food fast enough (you need to be there before they even open and get the kids orders in ASAP to get their kids meal done by 6:45 pm (forget dessert, no time). Then supposedly you troop them out the the stair landing and they'll let you sign then in right then and there. However if they changed it to 7 pm that would probably work perfectly. Our solution was to have one of us excuse ourselves at 7 pm (or when the kids were done) and take them on the short elevator ride up the 7 decks, sign them in and get back in about 6 minutes, so no big deal. It's a nice idea in theory but the food just doesn't come quick enough (and the Windjammer doesn't open until 6:30 pm so that didn't work either. ) SeaView Cafe and room service were also excellent for comfort food (chips and guacamole/salsa/sour cream). The burgers are awesome including the bacon cheese Bistro burger from the room service. The Windjammer was good for the most part as it's never easy to please everyone. I always ate too much for breakfast and then wasn't hungry for lunch -which had very nice sandwiches and ice cream. The kids really like to get their own self-serve ice-cream which was in vanilla, chocolate or mixed. I cannot comment on Chops or Portofinos as we didn't feel the need to go there as the MDR was awesome, and children weren't allowed in the specialty restaurants after 7 pm anyway. We skipped the midnight buffet and BBQ (too late for us). Latte-tudes had complimentary desserts for a late night snack (but coffee was extra) and the SeaView Cafe was great for even later night snacks. Room service had a nominal fee after midnight. Pools- The main pool was good, but not very kid-friendly, as my older daughters were afraid of the scowling adults. Really, if they don't want to swim with kids there is the Solarium pool. So all in all there really was nowhere for 8 yr - 17 yr kids to swim other than the main pool....the kids pool is about the size of a small hot tub and the rest is wading pool area with a fairly tame waterslide. Great for the 4 year old but not so much for those that can actually swim laps. This is where the bigger ships like Independence with the H20 Zone really shine vs the older ships. We figured out what the waterslide times were while on seadays and then took the older girls to the ocean on port days. Worked fine for the kids and ourselves. We tried out the Solarium hot-tub which was nice during a cold and rocky sea day, but the pool looked jam packed. Not enough pools/hot tubs in my opinion in comparison to the bigger ships (like the canti-levered ones on Independence). Adventure Ocean - Excellent programming, great staff. Our 4 year old was there a lot (at her request!), and our older girls took awhile to warm up to it, but then we couldn't get them to leave at the end of the night! Lots of activities throughout the day including science and arts and crafts. Port days often included supervised breakfast and lunch and possibly dinner with the staff. Sea days no such luck except for formal night for dinner (great if you want to plan a date-night without kids). Main hours were 9 - noon, 2 - 5 and 6:45 to 10 pm (and 10-2 am for $6/child/hour). On sea days you could pay $7.95 for lunch time supervision. I wish we could get the full list of hours for the whole trip right on the first day so I could plan things out better. Or even a month in advance when trying to figure out tours and such. Aquanauts (3-5 yrs) are in their own play area with Dora kitchens, tables/chairs for arts and crafts, and a tv area with a cushioned bench. They have scheduled something every 15 minutes so our 4 yr old loved it. She loves preschool and her favorite staff were Rainbow, Ethel and UpChuck. Day 9 they got painted up as pirates and colored a pirate scarf and marched into the Aurora Theatre at 8:50 pm to sing their pirate song and do their motions making fun of the Captain and the crew. The adults seemed to enjoy it as far as I could tell. They really don't see the younger kids that much as they're usually in Adventure Ocean. There was also a talent show on the last sea day which was cute and they all got gold medals. The kids pretty much stay inside the whole time except for ice-cream at 3:30 pm port days. So no swimming or outdoor time when they're in there even though they have doors that back right onto the kids pool and ball court. This could be considered good or bad, but we figured out the best times to take the 4 yr old swimming was right after pickup time at noon for an hour, then have lunch and back to kids club again by 2 pm. The older groups 6-8 Explorers and 9-11 Voyagers are combined if not too busy (we only had 130 kids aged 0-18 yrs on board). But our older kids 9 and 11 could sign themselves out if you agreed. They enjoyed gaga ball (ball tag), face painting, and the pajama party. They made friends and enjoyed the staff, especially Kung Fu Karl. There was a Scavenger Hunt inside the kids' club which they did and another outside which they missed. The late night party zone was available for $6/child/hr and they begged to stay in when we went to pick them up at 10 pm. The youngest couldn't stay awake though (and neither could we as she woke us up bright and early every morning) so we only let them stay late one night when we had no plans the next day. They do expect tips for Late Night Party Zone which I didn't expect but I did give them a large tip at the end of the trip which they divide amongst themselves equally which was fine as they rotate through the different kids groups. They don't get much free time in port so I would recommend tipping the Adventure Ocean staff to show your appreciation. They should really have their own envelopes at Guest Services. Ages 12-14 and 15-17 were in a different area called Optix. There were planned activities from 9-noon and then in the evening but the room is open all afternoon for unsupervised casual time. The teens seemed to be having a good time meeting each other. It's probably a good idea to make them go the first few sea days to at least meet some other kids to hang around with later on. Pets at Sea - like build a bear - $20 for the plush animal they pick and stuff and then about another$8-$10 for clothes. Limited hours usually 5-7 pm (during dinnertime of course). My girls picked the seals and dolphin. Arcade - load their seapass with cash. Not very busy, but you have to go through the arcarde to get to the Adventure Ocean check in area. Internet - 55 cents/minute.... computer stations in the arcade and at the internet room and at Latte-tudes, as well the wifi locations were near the centrum mainly. Same price if you bring your own laptop. Movie Theatre - Very nice theatre room, could probably hold 50 people or so. Movies included UP, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, the Proposal, Julie & Julia among others - times didn't coordinate well with our schedules though - usually right in middle of meal time or too late at night. However, room service was excellent so that's an option too. Rock Climbing Wall - Ages 6 and older can do this but need an adult to sign the waiver at the beginning and then their child's seapass is punched to show it's been signed. Helmets, harnesses and tight shoes are signed out as well. My older girls have taken lessons before so they kicked butt doing several different climbs from easy to hard. I did one easy one and my hubby did one of the moderately hard ones. It was fun. Shopping - The liquor wasn't a bad deal if you didn't mind buying 2 for a set price (Sheridan's 2 for $40, Tequila 2 for $35 ). The ports didn't have any better prices from what we could tell. Ternier watches/pashminas and purses for $10 each and a t-shirt sale on day 10 (2 for $20). Shows- Comedians were good, the City of Dreams was very good (nice sets/costumes) with different songs for different cities (great if you are ADHD). The impressionist was ok, but we missed the violinist and some of the other shows. The magic show was good too. The centrum entertainment was very good, and the guitarist was excellent. Library- I can always find a book to read there, some are even left by guests. I made it through 2 books plus a couple of my own that I brought. Next time I won't bother bringing any books except for the flight down. Photos - Formal nights were Day 2 and 10 (both Sea days) and most port days were casual. The photo people were pretty good but one of our favorite pictures was ruined by the kids' lanyards for their seapasses so remember to take them off prior to portrait taking. Also you can remove the kids' muster station bracelets for photos and get new ones the next day at the kids club. I kind of wished we had posed for the white background portraits during a casual day as some other people's photos were really good in different types of poses. We bought the package of 10 for $170 and we now have four of them framed and up in our house. The rest will go to grandparents and the kids' will each get one. Disembarkation - Everyone who is not American (including Canadians) need to go to the 6:30 am US customs line before leaving the ship... not a big deal but a very early morning! It was more than a bit crazy to try and get into the Aurora Theatre when all the people carrying off their luggage are blocking the way. Not great timing on their part as they were late getting off. Once we finally could get in everything went like clockwork. We got through the lines and into a van taxi in about 20 minutes after having to purposely walk side by side to block off the people that kept getting between us and our kids... yes we are all travelling together and only one adult has all of our passports in hand so no you cannot slip in front of that little kid struggling to pull a full sized suitcase because we couldn't find a porter! Sheesh, some people have no patience. It was like this after one of the shows in the Aurora Theatre as well when we were waiting our turn to walk up the stairs out of the theatre a woman frustrated by I don't know what... my eleven year old's slowness or existence? decided to cut in front to stand and wait pretty much three feet ahead of us, and guess what? She still had to wait .... seriously you need to RELAX! As well there was a lady who decided to lecture my eleven year old daughter in the ladies bathroom when she was perfectly quiet and ladylike...I later told my daughter she was being good and that I was scared of that dragon lady too! Anyway, I hope everyone enjoyed my 4 year old's impromptu show on stage while we were waiting to disembark. Not everyone is a killjoy, and some even clapped for her and her little friend! San Diego - We got to Homewood Suites Liberty Station and hung out in the breakfast area and pool table room until our room was ready. The front desk was great at letting us store our luggage and giving us pool access keys. The pool here is best in the early afternoon before the pool is in the shade. Free internet was easy to access with my laptop. The free breakfast was good and the room had a fully equipped kitchen so we had spaghetti one night for dinner. The room had two bedrooms with separate bathrooms and tvs off the kitchen/living room area where you have another tv...just like home! The location is great and if you turn left out the path behind the hotel and walk about 10 minutes you'll find a gigantic park for little kids up to age 10. There are BBQs as well for use by hotel guests and a free dinner Monday-Thursday. The San Diego Zoo was a full day 9 -7 pm and we still didn't see everything. To see the pandas you pretty much have to head there straight away or the line is insane (we skipped it). Bring a cheap collapsible stroller ($15 at Target). You can skip the seal show if you're going to Seaworld as their show was longer and funnier. To save money bring extra cups for everyone and order one memento glass that you can refill all day. Seaworld is mainly about seeing the shows so plan your day accordingly. The river raft ride wasn't worth the time but the others were good. They may or may not check your bags for snacks and drinks... they didn't check ours the day we went. We skipped Legoland after bad reviews from fellow passengers. We checked out the haunted Whaley House (again not worth going but the kids kept asking to go there). The Birch Aquarium near La Jolla was good (again AAA card discount) and the sea horses and sea dragons were really cool. The Easter Sunday earthquake shook us out of the giftshop, kids in hand so we were a little freaked out after that. We hopped in the car and went to the beach in La Jolla and found the Sea lion area and quickly decided that we should have spent the day there instead. The earthquake didn't cause too many problems and no injuries. We had a couple of aftershocks over the next 36 hours. We also checked out Point Loma and the lighthouse, and the SS Midway Aircraft Carrier museum (very cool but give yourself a few hours). We ran out of time to take the bridge to Coronado but I think we'll be back in the future to visit again. Conclusion - The kids had a wonderful time and didn't want to leave the ship even after a full 11 nights. Would we do it again? You bet! It was a great way to see different cities without unpacking more than once. Also the price point was much better than the all-inclusives to Mexico for a family of five even adding in the flights -with better service/entertainment/and WAYYY better food. Except for a few things we couldn't have had a better time! Read Less
Sail Date March 2010
We took the March 12th, 10 day Mexican Riviera cruise aboard the Radiance of the Seas. This was our 3 cruise on a Royal Caribbean ship and our 7th cruise overall. We are a family of four in our mid 30's with a 12 year old daughter and ... Read More
We took the March 12th, 10 day Mexican Riviera cruise aboard the Radiance of the Seas. This was our 3 cruise on a Royal Caribbean ship and our 7th cruise overall. We are a family of four in our mid 30's with a 12 year old daughter and 9 year old son. We also were travelling with my wife's parents. Our last cruise was on the larger, and slightly newer, Mariner of the Seas. The "wow" factor on the Mariner was much greater than the Radiance, but the Radiance was a decent ship, but nothing really special it seemed. I had read so much about how the Radiance class was a favorite by many people, but unfortunately for us, it seemed a rather plain ship. (although I really do like the look of the yacht like "lines" of the ship's exterior!) We had a great time on the cruise, even though there were a few frustrating things. We were excited about going on a 10 day cruise, and it was great having those extra days! Embarkation: We had a difficult time with Embarkation. The Carnival Elation was also in port the day we left. This meant that the waiting area to board the ship was really small, and there were very few places to sit. We always like to get to the terminal around 10:30ish, and are usually in the first few boarding groups. However, I think in the future we will wait until after noon or closer to 1pm before arriving. Since they were still debarking passengers, it was difficult to get all our luggage through the front security gate and then it was totally unclear on where to proceed to after we entered the terminal. We eventually figured it out and then just stood around waiting for and hour or so (since there was no place to sit). Once onboard, they postponed the 1pm cabin access time to 1:30. Not a really big deal, but I guess they were doing extra cleaning. Our Cabin: We had an interior cabin on Deck 7. This was one of the smallest cabins we have had, but they are all pretty small, so it wasn't a big deal. However, there was this awful smell in the bathroom when we first arrived. I think it was some sort of cleaning agent smell, but it was strong and very foul. It was pretty much gone the next day, but our shower curtain smelled like mildew every day of the cruise which just made the bathroom an unpleasant area to be in. We never had any plumbing problems thankfully, but the shower curtain situation was not good. The shower was tiny, and the curtain of course had to be dealt with each and every shower. Water always leaked all over the bathroom floor and why they don't upgrade to shower doors, just doesn't make any sense to me. There was plenty of storage space in the cabin, and the dEcor was nice. However, the beds were not comfortable, and the TV was very difficult to see from the beds. I think it was just our cabin, but this was the LOUDEST cabin we have ever been in! When I say loud, I mean creaky with rattles everywhere. If you have ever watched a movie about old time sailing ships, where the wooden hull constantly creaks and groans, you'll understand what our cabin sounded like all the time. The walls rattled, and the TV and TV stand would constantly vibrate and rattle. We ended up stuffing towels all around the TV stand and TV to try and get it to stop vibrating, but it didn't help much. My in-laws on Deck 4 and friends on Deck 9 had no problems with their cabins being noisy, so I think it was just our cabin. In fact, every time I was heading towards my cabin in the hallway on deck 7, I would hear the walls creak only on that deck. Maybe we were at some sort of "fulcrum" of the ship, as we were right in the middle of the ship it seemed. Ship Public Spaces (inside): The ship was a pretty ship, but as I mentioned earlier, it just didn't have the "wow" factor that other ships have had. One exception to that was the Colony Club. This was a beautiful area on the aft part of deck 6. It is where they have the self leveling pool tables, game room area, and lounge/dance floor/bar area. I was a great spot, and simply beautiful! The Centrum was alright, but again, nothing special. Unfortunately, the music in the Centrum was simply too loud and it was hard to sit and talk or play games anywhere near there because of the volume of the live music. I rarely ever went up to the Deck 12 lounges and cigar bar. It was more for late night DJ music, and the one time I did visit the area, they had some pretty nasty dance/rap music playing and it was very loud of course. The main Theater was pretty and seemed to have good sight lines. We always had to get there early to get good seats though. The library was small, and wasn't really a dedicated room. But, we did like the layout diversity of the various shops onboard. Pools and Sports deck: Here is where some of my big complaints come out. My kids and I are avid swimmers, and my wife and I like to use the hot tubs. First of all, I know there is a big debate over the health benefits of salt water pools vs. chlorinated fresh water pools, but I am SO tired of the salt water pools on cruise ships. Princess has it right with their fresh water pools, and I wish Royal Caribbean (and others) would just do away with salt water in their pools. Princess has a ton of pools on their ships, and they seem to have no problem producing enough fresh water to fill their pools. Likewise, the Freedom Class ships with Royal Caribbean also have fresh water, so I think I will have to go back to Princess or go on the Freedom class ships in the future. Second, the Radiance main pool area is very plain and boring. The adult solarium pool area is VERY nice though. I enjoyed just sitting at the tables in there as the solarium was lovely. Third, the Radiance has only three small hot tubs! This, along with the saltwater, will probably keep me from ever going on another Radiance class ship again. While the hot tubs were not quite as busy as I would have expected there still just wasn't enough of them. And finally, here is my biggest complaint. For some reason, the crew on the Radiance feels the need to close down the two main hot tubs by the main pool at night around 8pm-until 11pm for cleaning. I understand that they need to clean these regularly, and I am very happy they clean them. However, why can't this be done at 2am or some other early morning hour time??? There was a small group of teenagers who would be in the adult hot tub area most evenings because the main hot tubs were closed during the prime evening hours. I don't mind the teenagers being in the adult area, as they had no other place to go, but why did they have to close the main tubs down during the prime evening hours??? At least leave one of them open by the main pool. I just don't get it...and of course there is never an explanation from anyone on the ship when I tried to inquire about it. The rock climbing wall was fun and never crowded, and the mini golf was fine. They had a nice basketball court and would convert it to volleyball in the later afternoons on many days. The waterslide was rarely open, but it was such a slow waterslide, it wasn't really something my kids wanted to do anyway. The kids pools was pretty small, and they need more deck area for the parents to hang out in. But, at least the kids pool was fresh water. Too bad it wasn't larger so we could swim in it. Dining: We loved the buffet and even ate there a few times for casual dinner. While the selection was pretty much standard for breakfast, we still loved the room, layout, and choices of food. The main dining room was perfectly fine. There were only two times the waiters did the singing and dancing that we noticed, and I always wish they didn't have to do that. The waiters are so busy as it is, and it seems sort of humiliating for many of them to have to stop their work and go sing for everyone. We enjoyed the dinning room for lunch a few of the sea days. They had a nice lunch menu to choose from, and the salad bar was very popular. I had though that I would have frequented the Sea View Cafe more often, but the greasy smell of the cafe (and the hours) seemed to turn my off to the Sea View Cafe. I only went there once, and it was just alright. My kids ate there more often and seemed to enjoy it. I did like the Solarium cafe better, but I would have liked it to be open a little more often. They did serve crepes there, which I love, but they only serve the crepes during the day on Sea days. We did the Mystery Dinner Theater one evening in Portofino. The dinner was excellent, and there was unlimited wine. The acting was simply awful though. I am not sure if they meant it to be awful or what, but most of the actors and actresses looked like it was the last place they wanted to be. In addition, many of them spoke very softly and it was had to hear them. A couple of them were pretty good though. We also tried Chops on night. We had a great meal there and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. I think the mud pie we had was possibly the best dessert I have ever had in my entire life! Entertainment: The Radiance has one of the best entertainers I have ever seen on a ship (or elsewhere). His name is Ramon De La Cruz I think, and he played the acoustical guitar...in a Latin sort of style. He was simply fantastic and always drew a good crowd when playing in the Centrum. We went to a few of the main shows, and really enjoyed the ventriloquist comedian, and Gary Mule Deer, who was also a comedian/musical talent. The singing and dancing shows that we saw were average, but we didn't catch the magic show or a few of the other shows. The other entertainers on the ship, like the pool band, classical duet/trio, pop band, etc., were just average in our opinion or even bad in some cases. I thought that our cruise director Dan did a good job. Unfortunately, the couple in the love and marriage show were very boring. But, Dan did a good job of making it better than it was. I also went to see the Quest game show. It wasn't as good as the previous two I had seen, but it was ok. The venue was tough, as they did it in the Colony Club. Ports: I won't get too much into the ports, but here is a quick run down of the activities we did in each port: Cabo - Spent the day with some friends at their time share condo on the beach. Mazatlan - Went to El Cid resort and got a "day use pass" which included free drinks, food, and use of the facilities and beach. It was a slightly frustrating experience, because we were never clear on the price and they tired to charge us more at the front desk, than what we were told by the sales guy at the cruise terminal. The cruise terminal guy tries to sell you the resort pass and gets some sort of commission from the resort I guess. We spent $100 roughly (not including tip) for my family of four. Acapulco - We just went shopping at this high pressure and EXPENSIVE place. Everything there seemed high pressure and we just didn't care for it. Zihuatanejo - Took a water taxi to Las Gatas beach. We weren't sure how things worked at the beach, but basically once you get off the water taxi, there are a few guys that try to sell you on their restaurant/beach area. We picked a guy and he basically waited on us all day, gave us chairs and shade, and then just billed us for the food and drinks at the end of the day. I also got a massage on the beach for $25, and had a nice time. The beach there however is a bit rocky once you step into the water. It was murky that day, so the snorkeling wasn't good, unless you swam pretty far out past the break water. Puerto Vallarta - We did the Los Veranos zip line tour. It was a great tour and location for zip lining. However, we had heard that the ship time was different than the local time in PV before we went on the cruise, and that is not the case. It was the same time on the ship as it was in port. The bus driver took his time getting us back to port, and we barely made it back to the ship in time! The drive to the Los Veranos location is longer than I thought. It took almost an hour and a half ride to get to the location. General thoughts: We did have a very nice time on the Radiance. There were a few areas of the ship that needed some updating or better maintenance/cleaning. The pools had some wear and tear on them. Some of the out door dining areas behind the buffet needed better cleaning. And some of the carpet was looking rough on some of the stairs and hallway areas. It was also evident that the plumbing problems were still around. We didn't have any problems thankfully, but they were working on Deck 7 often, and we saw a few carpet air blowers in a few cabins and in a few hallways trying to dry things out. As other reviewers have mentioned, we did have a man overboard death on the second to last sea day. It was a somber experience, but the captain was very upfront about what happened, and it was an interesting thing to watch the rescue operations. I didn't mean to make it sound like the saltwater and hot tub complaints ruined my cruise or anything like that. I know these are probably very minor complaints for most people. But, I just thought I would mention them as they are important factors with my family. We really like the 10 day cruise option over a 7 day cruise, and it's too bad there aren't more offerings by cruise lines for longer cruises. Read Less
Sail Date March 2010
Introduction : All of our pictures are posted on : http://www.flickr.com/photos/34128007@N04/ From the day we booked this cruise, our main objective was to get-a-way (no phones, no internets) and no big plan for 10 days, we are going to go ... Read More
Introduction : All of our pictures are posted on : http://www.flickr.com/photos/34128007@N04/ From the day we booked this cruise, our main objective was to get-a-way (no phones, no internets) and no big plan for 10 days, we are going to go out there and basically "just do it" at the spur of the moment. Missing-link : Comparing to the past cruises with RCCL, ONE biggest thing that we missed : Ship-Shape Dollar, yes.... those yellow paper you collected for participating on board cruise activities and at the end of the cruise day you may exchange for some gifts (key chain, lanyard, towel, t-shirt, etc) = those are gone = As this was our motivation to join those fun activities on board RCCL. No welcome-back gift (except the coupon booklets) for repeat customers. Our story begins with : We took Amtrak (Surfliner Southbound) from Union Station Los Angeles to San Diego Santa Fe Station, and walked to the awaiting Radiance Of The Seas. We had to wait little bit more than half-hour an the Atrium, before they let us walk to our cabin after 1:30 pm. Cabin # 3045 was ready and clean when we checked in. Cabin attendant was not available until 4:00 pm, and so our luggage still not arrived, yet So we went up to Windjammers buffet to have lunch and taking leisure walk in order to get familiar with the ship & with camera in hand. Before emergency drill, we went to our room, we met Ed our cabin attendant and notice some wet spot inside the door, seemed the water came from the left side. We asked for more towel-mat, and he also provided with air-blower. Cabin supervisor Ms. Mercedes also came by to check and to make sure. We went to our second seating (08:30) dinner at table 469, and apparently 4 out of 6 people of our dining-table-mates also members of Meet & Mingle Roll Call on this site. Our waiter, in my opinion, little bit too uptight & too serious, while our assistant waiter was more playful and an out going persons. Some how they are too worried if their services were up-to-par. We missed several dinners, as my wife & I end up nibbling too much snack before 8:30 seating time at Seaview Cafe or Windjammer Buffet and we could not eat dinner anymore. Sea View Cafe was great, simple yet satisfying. Windjammer Buffet offered similar menu as main dining room, PLUS other choices, minus the waiting time for second seating. Windjammer offers Sushi Bar, carving station, and other things they kept on changing every night. So we end-up eating too much "snacking", as the result several nights we could not come anymore for dinner at 8:30pm. CABIN 3045 : Before we left for Acapulco City Tour, we noticed new wet spot on the right side of the room, and reported to Ed to be taken care of while we are off-shore in Acapulco. By the time we returned to our Cabin, we smelled quite strong wet carpet odor. This time the right side of the room was soaking wet, when we pulled away the sofa, the water was abundantly visible and the sofa fabric was absorbing most of the moisture. Ms. Mercedes already left a phone message, and she could move us to another cabin. So we decided to take up the offer and to move to Cabin 3144, an-upgrade with window. Immediately new task at hand, we had to pack and unpack, and our new cabin attendant Analiza was cheerfully welcomed us at the new cabin 3144. ENTERTAINMENT : We love the Tango Buenos Aires, and took a lot of captivating pictures of their dancing on the stage. We saw Kenny James & Fallon Magic on the other RCCL Ship (I believe on Monarch Of The Seas). CAPTAIN ERIK TENGELSEN : We have to mention his name, as he (and his team) had done a wonderful & professional job in handling the "Oscar-incident" (man-overboard). ANSWER TO MOST COMMON INQUIRIES : Is it a vacation of a life time ? [no] Are we going back to cruise again ? [yes] Did we achieve our vacation objective ? [yes] Read Less
Sail Date March 2010
We are experienced cruisers, but this was only our second time on a Royal Caribbean ship. Generally we cruise Celebrity, and as such were granted Diamond membership on the Radiance. Overall we enjoyed ourselves very much. Radiance is a ... Read More
We are experienced cruisers, but this was only our second time on a Royal Caribbean ship. Generally we cruise Celebrity, and as such were granted Diamond membership on the Radiance. Overall we enjoyed ourselves very much. Radiance is a beautiful ship, and in general I would rate it highly. We did experience a couple problems which, while we would not allow them to ruin our cruise, definitely had a negative impact overall. I will try to give my honest opinion of our experience. I know from reading the boards that some posters put down anyone who gives negative comments, indicating that some people can never be satisfied. That is so much not the case with us. We have cruised close to 30 times and this is the first time I have ever posted any negative feedback at all. Food - Always a matter of opinion, but I would say overall we were very satisfied with the food and found it to be better than the food we had on our last couple of Celebrity ships. Specialty restaurants - We ate at both and the food was outstanding. The service, however, was slow on both nights. We were told by an apologetic waiter each time that it was due to the restaurant being crowded, but considering the ship needs to staff for those crowded days I don't consider this a good excuse. We were not in a hurry so it was no big deal, and the food was so good I would do it again. Staterooms - We had an excellent room steward - possibly the best ever. Unfortunately we also experienced the plumbing problems so many have mentioned. We had a seventh floor cabin. It was clear that work on the seventh floor is far from finished. The first couple of days, and then periodically throughout the ten days, the smell of sewer in our bathroom was enough to literally make us gag. I was truly afraid to use the water in the sink, especially the couple of occasions when it came out brown. (and make no mistake, it was brown; not rusty, not yellowish - brown!). We also had numerous occasions when the toilet would not flush. Major inconvenience? No, but you were always a bit uneasy wondering whether this is the time it would not flush, or worse yet overflow. Who wants to deal with that on vacation? Not me. Considering how long this has been an issue I consider this problem to be unacceptable. Entertainment - Overall good. We went to a few of the shows and found them to be about on par with most mid-line cruise entertainment. Itinerary - I won't go into info about each port, but I will say that we chose this cruise for the itinerary and we were definitely not disappointed there. Great selection of ports in my opinion. Especially loved Zihuantanejo - wish we could have spent more time there. Rescue mission - As most have heard, we had a man overboard (Oscar) situation on our cruise. I was truly amazed at the swift action of the crew and how quickly they were able to stop the ship, launch the lifeboat, and rescue the person (unfortunately with bad results, but the ship did all it could). Kudos to the captain and crew! Balcony - We were thrilled to have a hump cabin and a big balcony. We were less than thrilled that we were next to chain smokers (including cigars) and were unable to enjoy our balcony at all. I know this topic heats up the boards, but I can tell you that we paid extra for a balcony we literally could not use. This is wrong. There has to be some type of compromise solution to address this issue. I confess we are going back to Celebrity for this reason alone until, or if, Royal comes up with some solution that does not allow smoking on balconies - at least for some portion of the ship. Shopping onboard - Disappointing. Am I the only one who wishes the ships would have a better selection of nice souvenirs and cute t-shirts? Overall, this is not a big deal, but I think the cruise lines are really missing out on some money making opportunities with their poor choice of merchandise on the ships. Diamond rewards - Were there some? I must have blinked and missed them. Seriously, there are very few to be had, and most are worth little. I don't choose a cruise because of this, but could really see the downgrading of benefits from our other RCCL cruise two years ago. Summary - Overall we felt Royal Caribbean delivered a very good product. I would not, however, suggest cruising the Radiance until the plumbing problems are all fixed. I don't know about you, but I vacation to reduce stress, and I have enough problems with plumbing (and other maintenance) issues at home - I don't want to bring them on vacation with me. And finally, if you are a non-smoker, consider whether paying for a balcony is worth it as you may not be able to use it comfortably. Read Less
Sail Date March 2010
With my oldest son growing up and setting off in the world, I felt that we needed one last big adventure together before they all grew up and left me. We were able to find this fabulous 11-day, 6 port Mexican Riviera cruise for a wonderful ... Read More
With my oldest son growing up and setting off in the world, I felt that we needed one last big adventure together before they all grew up and left me. We were able to find this fabulous 11-day, 6 port Mexican Riviera cruise for a wonderful family vacation. My boys were seasoned cruisers with 4 prior cruises under their belt but none over 5-days long. This 11-days along with a Deluxe Balcony was suppose to be our ultimate vacation, which it was, but it also hooked us on cruising for life! The Radiance of the Sea is a beautiful ship. Common areas are in very good repair. Maintenance defiantly keeps up with the daily wear 'n tear common to cruise ships. The public area restrooms are very beautifully decorated and maintained. Dining We had main seating dining at 6:00PM. We never had to wait in line. In fact, once we were shown our table the first day, we were able to seat ourselves just as soon as the doors were opened. I know there are a lot of people signing up for My Time Dining and some may like it but all I saw was people waiting in line to make reservations and them later standing in line to be seated for their reservations. With main seating we were in a smaller, less noisy dining room on the side of the MDR. We had the same table and the same wait staff each night, which we loved. They knew from the first day what we liked such as lemons on our water or jam with our rolls, and had those things ready for us every night after. Eating that early was closer to our normal dinner time at home and gave my teens time to work up an appetite for a 2nd desert at the Windjammer before they closed for the night at 9:00PM. Also to note, if a table of people didn't show up for dinner because they had plans to eat somewhere else like Chops or Portofino's, their table was not filled with MTD reservations. It was left empty. Our dining room was only for main seating dining. On day 5, the other 3 tables in our section were empty and we had our wait staff all to ourselves. Not only did we have their undivided attention, we had time to really talk to them and get to know them. With MTD and different staff each night, that would not have happened. The head waiter was visible every night and not only to be seen but was actively refilling water glasses, clearing plates and being of "service" along with his staff. Dinner was always relatively quick, only about 1.5 hours each night. Food was great every night. There was always plenty of food with not too large of portions. Just the right amount for when you eat as often as we did in a day. Quality, flavor, presentation & temperature were just fine. I had no complaints with the food. All three sons were able to borrow tuxedos from the high school's drama wardrobe. They totally dressed up both formal nights and dresses per guidelines each additional night. I lost count of how many people stopped at our table complimenting how well they looked. I loved it and I think they did too. Stateroom We had a D1 stateroom on the 9th deck listed as Superior Ocean View w/Balcony. We had 1 adult and 3 teen boys in the cabin and it had plenty of room. The balcony measures about 9' x 4' and was furnished with 2 chairs and a side table. We did a cabin crawl with our Mix & Mingle group and I was able to tour several different types of cabins. The inside cabin with 2 drop down bunks would have fit us fine but I really loved the balcony. The bathroom did smell bad. Kind of like sewer but not too heavy. I sprayed my Febreze and the smell went away for awhile. The room steward said it was the shower curtain and changed it for us. The bathroom was always damp but it wasn't a damp, musty smell it was a poppy smell. The steward sprayed Glade each time he made-up the room and the smell came and went with no consistency but was never strong or offensive enough to complain about. I just kept the Febreze handy. The beds were nice but the sofa bed and drop down beds were too hard for me. The boys didn't complain. I like how they have done away with the bed spreads. I never trusted how germy they might be. The beds have a nice heavy comforter enveloped with a sheet or duvet which is washed every few days. The curtains were very heavy and blocked any light from the balcony during the day plus we had a curtain separating our room in half. With the center curtain drawn, I was able to go to sleep while the boys stayed up with the lights on playing quiet games in the other half of our room. We came on-board with 9 suitcases. I know, that's a lot, but we were on the ship for 11 days and there is no self serve laundry on the Radiance. My point is that I was able to completely unpack, get everything into closets, cupboards and drawers and be able to stow my empty luggage under the beds with no problem and room to spare. I did bring two of the suitcases with the clothes still on the hanger which was good because I would not have had enough hangers otherwise. The night of the midnight poolside bar-b-q we had a ventilation problem. The air conditioning system sucked in the diesel smelling lighter fluid charcoal fumes from the grill and our room was not inhabitable for about an hour. So we went to the bar-b-que! The smell vacated any one awake on our hall and when they sent me to Guest Relation the fumes started filling the Centrum area and even the Guest Relations employees started complaining. There was no thought to stopping the poolside bar-b-q but later I thought their resolution to the problem was pretty smart. The Maintenance Engineers turned the air-conditioning on to the whole ship. They spread the smell across all the public rooms that were closed like the MRD, Windjammer and the theaters. This diluted the smell enough that it was no longer strong enough to bother anyone. When we returned to our room it smelled just fine. Some residual smell on the clothes in the closet but I just whipped out the Febreze again. Public Areas We did not spend much time at the pool on the ship as we were at the beach almost every day while at port and our sunburns didn't need any more exposure. We did spend more time than I thought we would in the card room playing Scrabble. We don't usually play this at home but I think it must be a vacation thing. They provide quite a few board games and loads of cards. Bring a small dictionary if your family doesn't trust your creative spelling in Scrabble. We stumbled into a daily trivia game of "Name that Show Tune" at the Schooner Bar. I was amazed at how well my 19 year old son knew his show tunes!?!?? We came in 2nd place. Most of those kinds of "cruise activities" we shy away from because they seem dorky but it was fun. The Casino Royal gladly took our money, again! I was pleasantly surprised that they had a no smoking area with decent games. All the machines cashed out in quarters instead of tickets making it hard to slip your winnings into your pocket for the next night. We did a slot pull with 26 people in our M&M group. One slot machine was picked and we each put in $20, so that would be $520 we invested. We each pulled a $5 (maximum) bet 4 times then stepped aside for the next person. At the end, we had $455 left so we lost a total of $2.50 each after a total of 104 $5 pulls. The payout was not very good with that much going in. It made me rethink playing slots. Guest Relations We spent too much time at the Guest Relations desk. The staff was excellent, especially Keshia, and all of our problems, large and small, were taken care of superbly. I ordered, and prepaid for an Adventure Gear package (with 4 items) to be delivered to our cabin. Half of the package was missing and the receipt delivered with it said there were only 3 items in the package. I did have my internet receipt showing what I had ordered so that was fixed. Next, I had booked when they were offering a $75 on-board credit for my class room but it didn't show up on my account. My booking statement only said "offer" in the promotion section. Keshia e-mailed the corporate offices and they responded the next day and my account was credited. Now, both of these problems were computer record problems with RCCL so make sure to print any receipts and advertisements showing what you purchased and bring them with you so you can show them what you really purchased if you have any problems. I thought 2 problems for one customer was enough to indicate that something is wrong with their system. guest relations also impressed me when I was called down to the desk the day after our midnight air-conditioning fumes experience. I was offered a voucher to have the clothes in my closet cleaned to remove the smell. Remember, I packed 9 bags of luggage so there were way too many clothes in my closet. I told them that I was fine with my Febreze but I'd love to get some underwear and t-shirts washed. No problem and I was happy. I do want to note that I was on vacation and I was having a wonderful time so I wasn't functioning in my insistent, frustrated and demanding customer mode. I did see several of those kinds of people at the desk in front of me. One lady had been offered dinner for two at Chops and a bottle of wine to solve her problem and now she was down there demanding a second bottle of wine. I don't know what her problem was but the way she behaved embarrassed me. The staff was very gracious and professional. Read Less
Sail Date March 2010
This was our first time cruising with Royal Caribbean. After all the reviews we've read we expected it to outshine the other lines we've sailed with. It didn't, but it was still a great cruise. We drove to San Diego the ... Read More
This was our first time cruising with Royal Caribbean. After all the reviews we've read we expected it to outshine the other lines we've sailed with. It didn't, but it was still a great cruise. We drove to San Diego the day before and stayed at the Holiday Inn-Downtown. The hotel was very nice, but I was irked that they charge $15 to park there and hadn't bothered to tell me about it in advance. I should have researched it better, I guess. We probably wouldn't stay there again. We took our car to a "Park -n- Go" lot which gives a discount if you print off a coupon from their website (google using keywords park go SD) They had a shuttle which took us over to the cruise port at about 11 AM. Embarkation was a breeze and we were on the ship within about 30 minutes of being dropped off at the pier. Our room was ready by 1PM and our luggage was delivered by about 3PM. The Windjammer was ready for us to have lunch as soon as we embarked and wasn't crazy busy yet. It was one of the nicest embarkation days we've ever had. We enjoyed all the shows we attended and appreciated that they had early showings (7PM) so we didn't have to stay up half the night to see them. The later show was at 9PM. The comedian and juggler were both hysterically funny, the magician/hypnotist was OK (not my favorite kind of entertainment though.) The production shows were very good, but I heard other people say they weren't all that impressed. Maybe I am just easy to please, but I thought there was a lot of terrific singing and dancing talent shown on that stage. The food was abundant and tasty. I had read a few reviews where people complained about the food on this ship, but I am inclined to think those people would be hard to please no matter what. I wish I hadn't waited til the last sea day to try the soft serve machine, it was YUMMY! I ate a variety of different things every day and enjoyed it all. We used the fitness center (ok, not much, but we did try it out) and found their equipment to be the same nice quality as our club at home. There was also a good variety and we never had to wait for machines. We played pool on the self-leveling tables and were so impressed! Those things really work. The ship was beautiful. Here again, I had read some negative comments about decor and dusty plants but the ship was spotless from what I could see. Yes, the artificial plants in the Solarium are a bit sun faded and bluish looking, but it is really no big deal. Nothing was dusty, everything was polished and sparkling. There were a few cases of gastrointestinal trouble on the ship, so there was no shortage of people cleaning and disinfecting everything in sight. Debarkation was smooth up until we walked out of the terminal. There were vehicles bumper to bumper in the circular driveway loading people and luggage. Trying to get the shuttle ride back to the Park -n- Go took us nearly an hour. That cruise port loading/unloading area is not set up for so many people and vehicles...it's not Royal Caribbean's fault though. This was a great cruise and if the price were right, I'd cruise with RCCL again in a heartbeat. Read Less
Sail Date March 2010
Radiance of the Seas Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.2
Dining 4.0 4.0
Entertainment 4.0 3.7
Public Rooms 4.0 4.3
Fitness Recreation 4.5 4.1
Family 4.0 4.1
Shore Excursion 3.5 3.8
Enrichment 2.0 3.5
Service 4.5 4.4
Value For Money 4.5 3.8
Rates N/A 4.3

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