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We just returned from the Western caribbean cruise of 1/9-1/16 on the Radiance. We had eight people in our group.
We were disappointed in the overall experience - the weather was awful (not something RCL could control but we had winds of over 50 MPH several days and the water was very rough - lots of rocking). Poolside activities were cancelled on a few days due to the winds and the rock wall was closed for the same reason. We basically had two good days of sun - the
rest of the time it was cloudy.
The dining room food was mediocre - our waitstaff team was not the most organized and the room was incredibly noisy, not only with table chatter but with dropped trays, clattering silverware, etc. Several times we asked questions about events/times and our team told us they'd get back to us and never did. They also forgot to give us back our wine package cards on two separate visits. When steaks came out overdone, they were sent back only to be replaced by steaks even more well-done! Requests for lemon for tea were ignored as were requests to have some foods served without the accompanying sauces. The food was always tepid, never hot.
The specialty restaurants were much better-Portofinos and Chops - we ate at both and the service and food was fantastic - it's a shame you need to pay extra to get a good dining experience. We didn't do the murder mystery but the regular dinner at Portofino's was great.
The drink package was not yet available on the Radiance - we asked several people about it and they all said it wasn't available on the ship - the best you could do was a seven bottle wine package that cost $109 - we did this and it definitely saved us money on our dinner drinks.
Regarding music, the Schooner has an incredible sing-along piano player named Nathaniel - don't miss him! The disco and motown nights were great - lots of fun as was the ladies night in the disco. The musical entertainers throughout the ship were great. The actual theatre shows were mixed - some were good (motown and the juggler) - some not so good (the production shows and the magician).
Bartenders - we definitely enjoyed our time with Vinny - he is in the solarium pool bar during the day and the cigar bar at night - the man has at least 1000 jokes - he was better than the first night's comedian by a long shot.
Internet cafe operations were mixed - sometimes fine, other times very slow. At fifty cents per minute, the costs can definitely add up.
We docked at the international pier in Cozumel - it's by Senor Frogs, another fun place. Unfortunately, the day we were there the winds were about 50 MPH so it wasn't much fun. The Dolphin swim was awesome - even if you don't want to do it, you can watch other people as it is located in Chanuknaab Park (I think I spelled it wrong) - the park is great - a very pretty beach, a botanical garden, museum, outdoor restaurant, and fun things to do - definitely worth a visit.
If you're doing the western caribbean, Labadee is a very nice private island (blows away Coco Cay!) Don't waste money on Malfini castaway excursion - it was not worth the $60 pp - nice solitude but porta-potties and a turned over canoe for a bar is a little too rustic for me!
We did Sting Ray City in Grand Cayman but did it through Captain Bryan - we were on a catamaran and did two snorkeling stops besides Stingray City. There were only 40 of us on the boat (compared to 100+ on the cruise-sponsored tours). The boat had a cash bar and we sailed back into port instead of motoring in. A very nice experience and only $39 PP. Grand Cayman has still not recovered from the hurricanes last year - much of the island still shows signs of devastation. The famous Seven Mile Beach is one of the severely affected areas.
Going back to our shipboard experience, we were on deck eight and there were a lot of problems with the toilets not working during our trip - my sister had a problem every day - it got to the point where her husband knew how to go to the panel in the hallway and adjust something which would fix it for awhile and then it would happen again. She was literally at the front desk every morning at 6 AM because the toilet was broken again. They added further insult by suggesting she wasn't flushing properly and then, when they admitted there was a problem, they offered her another room. When they went to look at it, it smelled awful and the rugs were wet - it had apparently flooded the night before. Not a good way to make points with a paying guest. We experienceed the no-flush situation sporadically during the trip as did people on decks 9 and 10 (nothing like having to get dressed in the middle of the night to find a working toilet!). It was funny that during the Crown and Anchor reception, the captain was talking about the new mega-ship, Freedom of the Seas, which supposedly will have a wave pool and water park on the top deck - my sister wanted to know how they could manage that when they couldn't even get a toilet to flush reliably.
We had an aft cabin (class D1) for the trip and it had a great balcony, great lighting, a full size sofa and lots of storage room - we never felt cramped at all. Our stateroom attendant Patrice was great - she even tried to get us help with the plumbing problems. I would definitely recommend an aft cabin (we were on deck 8) as the balcony is soooo much bigger than on a side cabin.
This was our second Royal Caribbean cruise and it will probably be our last as we were not happy with our experience - they definitely need to improve their service and their dining room food before we would consider returning to them again.
Last edited by REDHEAD5; January 19th, 2005 at 11:43 AM.