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Radiance Review 1/30-2/6

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Below is a review of our 1/30/2005 Eastern Caribbean sailing on Radiance of the Seas.

 

Embarkation – Grade A+

Smooth, Easy and Fast. We arrived around 1:00PM and found virtually no line to check in. The only line was waiting to get your Seapass scanned the first time, which was all of 5 minutes.

 

Ship Overall– Grade A+

This is the first time for us on a Radiance class ship. Our previous experience has been one time on a Vision class ship and a bunch of times on Voyager class ships. Radiance is a beautiful ship. It is decorated very elegantly and warm with all the wood. I will break down my comments into several areas as follows:

 

Our Cabin – Grade A

We stayed in a Junior suite, cabin 1542. It is about midship on the starboard side. Very convenient to everything. The room is in great shape. We found the bed slightly stiff compared to home, but we adjusted. The pillows were the best we have had on any ship. The cabins was kept very spic and span by our cabin attendant, Aaron, who did a great job.

 

A couple of notes about our room:

The chair in our room was not very comfortable at all – very stiff.

The fridge comes loaded with drink and snacks. It has electronic sensors that charge you for the item when removed. We asked our cabin attendant to remove everything out of the fridge for us and he did with no problem.

 

 

 

Centrum Area – Grade A+

The Centrum area acts as the heart of the ship. There is a constant buzz of activity going on. Bands playing music, bars open, guests meeting, mingling and hanging out, special presentations being made such as cooking demonstrations and much more. This was nice to see.

 

The Centrum is decorated very elegantly. The bottom is on deck 4, which hosts a bar, sitting area and guest relations. On one side is the main bank of elevator for the ship. All of them are glass elevators. Two of them face the Centrum with a great view of the ship. Then there are 4 of them that face the ocean with breathtaking views of the ocean. One side note about these elevators though. They are designed so narrow that the buttons were placed on the sidewall. This is a real problem because as people stand in the crowded elevator, they tend to lean up against the wall (and buttons) which creates many extra stops.

 

Promenade – Grade A

The main promenade (at least this is what I call it) hosts a good portion of the night life (other than the main theater). This is on deck 6 aft of the Centrum and hosts the Schooner Bar, Billiard Club and Colony Club. All are decorated very nicely and all offer great views outside.

 

When you enter the Schooner bar area, you go through a walkway that has a smell to it. Not sure what it was by my wife thinks it smells like beef jerky. It was not a bad smell, just different. Once in the Schooner bar area there is amble seating at tables and chairs along with the bar and piano. This entire area is non smoking which we liked.

 

If you continue past the Schooner bar area you get to the Billiard Club where the self leveling pool tables are. It was very cool to watch them. We play a game one night when it was a bit bumpy out and the balls did not move a bit. The table bit though. Go to take a shot and the table itself is moving up and down a good 12 inches or so.

 

Continuing past the Billiard club is the Colony Club. This area features a couple of bars, a stage, dance floor and in one area card tables and board games. This is a fun place to be at night.

 

 

Windjammer – Grade B

The Windjammer is elegantly decorated. For the most part it is well laid out. The food stations are broken down into several small sections with about 2 sections each having the same offerings. I am torn as to how well I like the setup. On one hand it makes lines look smaller. On the other hand it creates lots of traffic problems as people jump from station to station to see if there is something different or better.

 

There is an outdoor section in the back that seems real nice. Unfortunately we did not check it out towards the end of the cruise and thus did not get to take advantage of it.

 

The only real negative I can say about the Windjammer is that on the port side, the basketball court is directly above. It makes a lot of noise in the Windjammer. If you sit on that side, you will be greeted with a constant boom, boom, boom. There are supposed to be limited hours on the court above (e.g. closed before 9:00AM and closed during main dinner hour at 6:00PM) but we observed this problem numerous days at early hours and during dinner time.

 

 

Pool Deck

We did not spend any length of time at the main pool, however it seemed to be in great shape and adequate. The band played by the pool most days and they had most of the typical games such as the belly flop competition.

 

Solarium

The solarium is decorated very uniquely and is a very pleasant, relaxing place to be. We used the pool there one day and it was heated with fresh water. Yes, that right, fresh water. That’s not a misprint.

 

There is a café in the Solarium which is open in the afternoons with snacks. We found it to be convenient.

 

One thing we did miss is on Voyager ships they have lounge chairs lined up by the windows in the Solarium. We find that a great place to relax in the afternoon with a great view. Radiance has tables and chairs here and all lounge chairs are around the pool.

 

Main Theater

The main theater is comfortable. Chairs have cupholders and some as designed as loveseats which my wife likes. During our cruise, all the shows were packed and you had to arrive early to get a good seat. This has not always been true on other cruises we have taken so we were surprised.

 

Viking Crown

Up top on deck 13 is the Starquest nightclub in the Viking Crown. They have a cool bar area that rotates. We did not spend much time up here though so I do not know what the night life is like.

 

Food – Grade – C

Food is the one area that has the most room for improvement. We did not have problems with service, just the food. That’s not to say you can’t get a good meal. Our observation is that quality is at times inconsistent and the other part is that a number of menu items either don’t appeal to us or the taste just seems off to us. We eat out a lot and don’t find food we don’t like often so I have to assume it is just not us.

 

Another notation has to do with late night snacks. The only thing open is the Seaview café. That’s great if you want a meal, but it would be nice to have a pile of cookies or something else that guest can easily grab and go. That’s one thing we really missed with having the café of the voyager class ships.

 

Ports – Grade A+

CocoCay

We made the stop in CocoCay with calm seas. We have never been here and I must say seeing CocoCay from the ship was not impressive. Had I not had a waverunner tour that day we may have stayed on the ship. Once we got onto CocoCay we were pleasantly surprised and loved it. Now we can’t wait to go back.

 

St. Thomas

We did the island tour in St. Thomas through Godfrey. We learned about Godfrey from Cruise Critic and gave him a try (our first non-ship excursion). Godfrey was great. He picked us up promptly by the ship and greeting us with a sign that had our name on it. Godfrey then took us shopping downtown until noon when he picked everyone up for the island tour. I highly recommend Godfrey. He is very accommodating and knows how to treat his customers.

 

St. Croix

We made a stop in St. Croix from about 8:30PM to 1:30AM after we left St. Thomas to refuel. We did not get off the ship, but others did. They had buses set up to take people back and forth to town. I would guess that maybe a couple of hundred people got off. I never met anyone who went to town so I don’t know if it was worth it.

 

One note about the fuel stop. Guests are told about the fuels stop in the compass for that day. It is explained that we will be stopping to refuel. There is not any explanation as to why and many guests questioned it. Questions were asked about it at both C&A parties and also at the ships chat. It seems to me that quite a few guests were left with the impression that we made the stop to refuel mid cruise so we would not run out. Thus they felt that poor planning in Miami did not load enough fuel for the cruise. RCCL might want to explain this a little more so not as many people get confused.

 

St. Maarten

In St. Maarten we did not take any tours or excursions. We simply took a taxi to town and went shopping. We found a few things of interest for our house but not much. Jewelry stores account for about 75% of the stores downtown. Throw in electronics and souvenir type items and that 98% of them. It’s hard to find anything else. That’s too bad. If they cut the number of jewelry stores in half that would help everyone. St. Maarten is not alone. It is like this in all the towns. I just mention it here as this is where we looked the most at the shopping.

 

 

Entertainment Overall – Grade B

Day1

There was a comedian which they called a visual comedian named Mickey O’Connor. He did a number of funny things while juggling and acting out certain things. My wife thought he was hilarious. I thought he was good, but just not my type of comedy. A little too “dumb funny” for me.

 

Day 2

Tonight we had a comedian named Kelly Monteith. I would grade him a C on a grading scale. He had a number of parts that were funny but I never really connected like some comedians I have seen.

 

Other events were the Captains Reception, Battle of the Sexes and 70’s Disco Fever.

 

Day3

Tonight was a show performed by the Royal Caribbean singers and dancers named Piano Man. Supposedly this one is fairly new as we were told it came out in Sept when the current cast members came onboard. Both of us really like this show and thought it was great. There are a couple of very good singers in this group also. The lead singer Matt is excellent and there are 2 girls who are also very good. There is one other guy singer but my opinion is up in arms on his talent. During this show, he lip-synched it. Apparently he was sick and they played a tape over his voice. A show later in the week he did sing live and he was good at that performance, but not great.

 

Other events tonight were Dancing through the Decades and the Quest.

 

Day 4

Tonight there was a show which the comedy/magic of Levent. He was funny and I enjoyed it.

 

Other events of the evening were the love and Marriage Show and the pool deck party at midnight.

 

 

Day 5

Tonight was the second performance by the Royal Caribbean singers and dancers. The show was called Welcome to our World. The cast did a great performance, but personally I did not care for the content of the show.

 

The only other noteworthy event was Karaoke Idol, which we did not attend. We watched the dance band, Liza Hendrix which is very good up until Karaoke started.

 

 

Day 6

Tonight was a performance by Tony Tillman. He was excellent. Don’t miss it. When the show first started I thought it was going to be terrible. I was like who the heck is this guy. We he turned out to be great. In the top 5 of guest performers we have seen.

 

Other events were family Karaoke and the Gala Buffet

 

Day 7

Tonight was the farewell show and comedian Karen Mills. She had a couple of funny bits but overall I did not think she was that great.

 

Not much else this night except karaoke finals.

 

On Board Entertainers

Caribbean Breeze – Island music by the pool

I thought they were ok, but not great. I bought there CD to try out and it jammed in our car CD player on the way home. It looked home made so not sure if that had anything to do with it.

 

Serenade Trio

This trio played in the Centrum most nights. Very well liked by everyone

 

Liza Hendrix

Classic dance hits. Played in Colony Club most nights. Very good and singer has great voice.

 

Nathaniel Malijan

Piano player in Schooner Bar. He drew a nice crown and kept all entertained. Probably not because of his singing talent but because he has fun doing it by changing words to be funny.

 

 

Ships Crew Overall – Grade A+

The crew on this ship has to be the best we have encountered. With one or two exceptions, the entire crew is all smiling faces willing to help. You really get the sense that they have good camaraderie and moral, especially with groups like the dining room waiters. Our stateroom attendant has got to be one of the best we have had.

 

Cruise Director

The cruise director was Keith Williams. My overall impression of Keith is that I did not think he was that entertaining compared to some of the other I have seen. The entertainment on the ship overall was great and ran well. I believe he is responsible for coordinating all of that so I would say he runs that very well on the ship, just him in general I never really warmed up to.

 

Captain

The Captain this sailing was Darin Bowland. We met him at the Crown and Anchor Party and also saw him at the ships chat. He is a young captain at 40 years old. He seems very personable and took the time to answer everyone’s questions no matter how silly some are.

 

Announcements

I just want to say something about ship announcements. There are way too many. Not just this cruise, but on all the RCCL cruises we have taken. Announcements such as the Captains report, letting guest know when the ship cleared customs and maybe even a once a day announcement going through activities is ok with me. But that’s it. All these bingo, shopping, art auction, pool activity and other announcements are totally unnecessary and a real annoyance. We have a Cruise Compass and if we want to go to an even we will.

 

Last Evening of Cruise

The last day and evening I noticed the ship was sailing full speed, 25+ knots. I looked at our positions and had calculated that we would be back way early. I was right, We were in Miami and docked by 2:00-2:30AM. There was a couple of trucks waiting for us near the aft of the ship. The next morning I found out it was an underwater repair team and when getting off the ship we saw them bring parts up out of the water. After we got home, a poster on CruiseCritic stated the next cruise was delayed until 2:00AM due to the repairs. Not sure what the exact problem was but it did not affect speed.

 

Debarkation

We carried our own luggage off and were out by 7:15 or so. Immigration lines were long, but moved fast. We were in our car and leaving by 7:45.

 

 

Summary

Being our first Radiance class ship, it was a new experience. I must admit after the first day I thought we would get bored as there did not seem to be as many activities at night. However I was very wrong. Once you learn your way around and where you like to be, Radiance is a wonderful ship. We would not hesitate for one instant to go again.

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jrm9999-Great Review!! Thanks!! Quick question for you. We are in that same room July 9th. Do you have any pics of the room you can share with me? How was the bathroom? Balcony size? Thanks so much!!!

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Wow... what a great review. My first experience on the Radiance class will be February 27. I absolutely loved the Voyager class and was a little hesitant with changing, but it sounds like I won't be disappointed. Out of curiousity, did they offer a Murder Mystery dinner onboard your sailing?

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I was on the 1/30 sailing on the Radiance. In regards to the stop in St. Croix it was very unorganized. There were no organized lines to get on the buses to go into town. We experienced lots of pushing and shoving. There were lots of heated words exchanged between passengers trying to get on the bus. Once in town we were offered rum punch and information on St. Croix. There were only 2 streets open to the public. There were several street performances or parades in town which were interesting. The highlight of the trip into town was buying the extremely cheap cruzan rum. Much cheaper than in St. Thomas.

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Wow... what a great review. My first experience on the Radiance class will be February 27. I absolutely loved the Voyager class and was a little hesitant with changing, but it sounds like I won't be disappointed. Out of curiousity, did they offer a Murder Mystery dinner onboard your sailing?

 

I was on this sailing also. They did offer a Murder Mystery that I wasn't overly interested in, but we were at Portofino's the night before. The manager, Alan Biggs, came over and talked to us and within a couple of minutes he had convinced me to take the chance. It was "cheesy" (his words), but it was a lot of fun! He's a heckuva guy and we made a great friend in the process!

He did say that the Radiance is the only ship that consistently has a Murder Mystery. Some of the others have tried, but haven't been as successful in keeping it running. It usually runs on Wed night, as that's usually the night he can secure the actors from their normal production show gigs. Hope this helps....

Laird (a newbie!):)

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jrm9999-Great Review!! Thanks!! Quick question for you. We are in that same room July 9th. Do you have any pics of the room you can share with me? How was the bathroom? Balcony size? Thanks so much!!!

 

I don't have any actual pictures of the room. It is laid out just like the JS cabins show in the Royal Caribbean brochures, but decorated nicer IMO. The wood color in particular was much nicer than some other ships.

 

The balcony was decent sized. There are two chairs and a table out there with room to spare. The chairs were much more comfortable than some other ships I have been on. As for width, you could easily line up approximately 5 people along the railing to look at the view.

 

The bathroom was decent sized by ship standards. It was kept completely spotless by the cabin attendant. No signs of any mold or mildew. The walls were tile and the counter top a nice blue color. The vanity had 2 sides to it for storing your belongings.

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I was on the 1/30 sailing on the Radiance. In regards to the stop in St. Croix it was very unorganized. There were no organized lines to get on the buses to go into town. We experienced lots of pushing and shoving. There were lots of heated words exchanged between passengers trying to get on the bus. Once in town we were offered rum punch and information on St. Croix. There were only 2 streets open to the public. There were several street performances or parades in town which were interesting. The highlight of the trip into town was buying the extremely cheap cruzan rum. Much cheaper than in St. Thomas.

 

Thanks for the info. All I had seen was people getting on the buses below.

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Wow... what a great review. My first experience on the Radiance class will be February 27. I absolutely loved the Voyager class and was a little hesitant with changing, but it sounds like I won't be disappointed. Out of curiousity, did they offer a Murder Mystery dinner onboard your sailing?

 

As stated by another poster, yes there was the murder mystery on Wednesday night. As for being disappointed, I don't think you will be. It is much different than Voyager class and takes awhile to figure eveything out and find the places you like to hang out the best.

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We had the Jan. 2 sailing of the Radiance with the same itinerary as yours. We had a fabulous time but didn't take advantage of many of the ship's activities - we were busy doing other things onboard. There's so much to do and so little time! We had the late seating at dinner and then always went to the show which didn't start until 10:30 - that will pretty much take up a person's evening.

 

We got off the ship at St. Croix - just to say we did - I found it rather spooky since it was so dark. We left the ship about 10:00 PM and there's was no line at all, stayed about 30 minutes and came back.

 

Thanks for the trip down memory lane. I can't wait to go again!

 

Judy

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"When you enter the Schooner bar area, you go through a walkway that has a smell to it. Not sure what it was by my wife thinks it smells like beef jerky. It was not a bad smell, just different. Once in the Schooner bar area there is amble seating at tables and chairs along with the bar and piano. This entire area is non smoking which we liked. "

 

 

The smell is supposed to be gunpowder from the cannons. Smells pretty much like a cannon had been fired recently. I have visited some old forts where they fire the cannons and the smells are very similar.

 

Great review. Sailed the Radiance last Jan and just loved the ship. Can't wait to go again in Apr.

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Wow, awesome review!!!!!!!

 

We are on Radiance, same itenerary, leaving THIS SUNDAY!!!! Sounds like you had a great time, and I can't wait to experience it myself.

 

Did you spend any time in the casino? Did you notice any organized card play in the Colony Club? As far as food goes, did you have some good meals and some not-so-good? Or were they all just okay?

 

Thanks a lot!

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Did you spend any time in the casino? Did you notice any organized card play in the Colony Club? As far as food goes, did you have some good meals and some not-so-good? Or were they all just okay?

 

Thanks a lot!

 

Can't help you with the casino. The only card playing I saw in the Colony Club was just friendly play among friends. Nothing organized.

 

As for food. A little of everything. In the dining room, about 40% great, 50% okay, 10% not-so good.

 

The Windjammer would be slightly less mainly because it is a buffet and depending on how busy it is and the time you go the food varies.

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We were on the Jan 30 cruise too. We had a nice time. The Champaigne bar and Vinnie telling jokes was lots of fun.

 

Our toilet clogged up 3 times. We were sent a note saying someone had put a towel and socks into the system. Some people toilets overflowed. It was taken care of right away when we called.

 

The pool band was so-so. We found it to be so crowded around the pool area and above it. Seemed to be too many lounge chairs all packed in and people jogging and bumping into each other.

 

Lots of little girls took over the pool and thought it was fun to jump in and around the adults. Don't really understand why the kids don't use the kid pool.

 

Food was good and the staff was very pleasant.

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WyomingWolves- Thanks for the information on the Murder Mystery dinner... I'm definitely going to give it a try. Do you happen to remember what the cost was, and where the event was held? Thanks again!

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u256601, I'm on your 2/27 cruise and plan to go to the Murder Mystery on the Radiance as well. From what I hear, you book it directly with Portofino's, the place in which the dinner portion is held. Pretty positive that the evening starts with champagne and the first act elsewhere (Colony Club? Someone who has done the dinner will have to correct me). The cost is $50 per person. Somewhat more limited menu than usual for Portofino's, but plenty good from what I've seen. All the (probably not great) champagne and wine you can drink, plus the entertainment factor are making it worth my while, IMHO. It's held on the Wednesday night of the cruise (Mar. 2, my birthday, incidentally).

 

Ah, found the menu. It's from the Brilliance, but should be at least comparable:

http://community.webshots.com/photo/63874444dplylv

 

BTW, u256601, if you haven't signed your party up for the Meet and Mingle, we're in need of more people to reach the minimum number!

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What an excellent detailed review! Thanks for taking the time to post it. Those glass elevators sound beautiful. Think we will love that open feel to the sea. Can't wait........have a while to go.

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ThatGrrl- Thanks so much for the additional info. I have in fact signed up for the Meet and Mingle, and am disappointed because we are so far away from the group we need. :-(

I'm definitely planning on attending the Murder Mystery, although I wish it was Chops instead of Portofino. :-)

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WyomingWolves- Thanks for the information on the Murder Mystery dinner... I'm definitely going to give it a try. Do you happen to remember what the cost was, and where the event was held? Thanks again!

 

It is at Portofino's and it's $49.50 per person. It's best to book as soon as you can as it has a tendency to fill quickly. We actually slid into it on Tuesday night as they had like 6 spots left. It's a ton of fun, and you won't be disappointed! It's making me look at booking our next one! :D

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ThatGrrl- Thanks so much for the additional info. I have in fact signed up for the Meet and Mingle, and am disappointed because we are so far away from the group we need. :-(

 

u256601, maybe we can do an informal M&M, if we don't meet the minimum number. Think I'll go bump the Roll Call thread. No one has posted to it since almost this time last month. Maybe that will help!

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