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PAGA

Just off Radiance Thanksgiving Cruise

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Just back from our 15th cruise (4 Celebrity, 11 RCCL). We are a married couple in our 30's traveling with our kids (7 & 15) and my husband's parents (mid-50's). Our itinerary was Eastern Caribbean.

 

This was our first experience on a Radiance-class ship. The adults loved the ship's layout and were very pleased with how empty the ship felt compared to our 5 cruises on Voyager-class ships. We were happy not to wait in any lines at the Windjammer and never had to wander the Windjammer in search of a table. Unfrotunately, pool chairs were still a hot commodity!

 

The only place we sometimes felt over-crowded was in the Colony Club where events like Quest, Karaoke, and the Captain's/C&A receptions were held. In the case of the receptions, the problem would have been resolved by having separate events for main and late seating guests...especially on a holiday sailing where the number of repeat guests is often higher than usual.

 

Our 7 year old liked the smaller Adventure Ocean facility just fine...but our 15 year old did not like the teen program at all. This was her 5th cruise utilizing the teen program and the first time she has ever had a single complaint. She found the activities lacking and the Optix club very overcrowded -- not to mention that the 15-17 crowd was often kicked out of Optix for 2 or more hours at a time in the evening so that the 12-14 year olds could be accommodated -- on Voyager-class ships, they utilize the card room or some alternate facility so that both teen age groups always have a designated area to hang out. Even though we have cruised previous holidays and school breaks, this cruise was the first time I really felt like the ship was, at times, over-run by teens with nothing to do -- I definitely recommend Voyager-class ships if you have teens.

 

One note about the Concierge facility (we're Diamond C&A) -- Guests 17 and under were not allowed in the Concierge Lounge AT ALL during the cruise (I've seen previous posts where children were only prohibited during evening cocktail hours). Likewise, guests 18-20 could only use the lounge with an accompnaying adult 21+. Not sure if this was normal operating procedure or special for the Holiday sailing. Likewise, the evening cocktail hour was in the Hollywood Oddessy lounge on Deck 13 instead of in the normal concierge lounge...again, may have just been for the Holiday crowds. Because we were traveling with kids and our in-laws (who are Platinum, so don't have concierge priveleges) we only made it to the evening cocktails once and never even saw the regular concierge lounge on Deck 10...Here's my suggestion: If RCCL promotes itself as a "family" line, couldn't they either offer 2 concierge lounges (1 with and 1 without kids) or at least offer "family nights" in the concierge lounge a few times throughout the week??? -- we suggested this on our comment card and encourage others who are like-minded to do the same. We don't want to take the exclusivity away from those adults who would like to enjoy the lounge without children -- we just want an opportunity for those of us with children to enjoy the evening cocktail priveleges, too!

 

The main disappointment of our cruise was our dining room service team. Our waiter was newly promoted from "assistant" to "waiter" -- and not only was it his first week as a waiter, but also his first week back from his 6-week break, so he admitted his recollection of the menu and procedures was a bit "rusty". To make the situation worse, our assistant waiter was very vocal about the fact that he had just been !!demoted!! from waiter to assistant. I fault the head waiter for assigning such a mis-matched team!! Needless to say the assistant was spiteful and performed almost none of his duties (refilling water, offering bread and condiments, etc) and our poor newly promoted waiter was so busy trying to do his new job that he never noticed...We did mention the problems to our waiter and head waiter on the second night and things did improve...but then the waiter began hovering and asking each individual about 3 times *per course* if we needed anything else (he had extra time because he only had 2 tables and after the second night his other table only showed up once). It was a shame because for us dinner is such a major highlight of our cruises...and the service became such an overwhelming issue/topic of discussion that it detracted from our overall enjoyment of the trip...

 

I'd be happy to anwer any questions you might have...

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Hi, thanks for posting your up to date review of the Radiance. We're on the 1/2 sailing. We're staying in a GS, so I had been looking forward to enjoying concierge lounge, but we will have DS 10 with us, so your post concerns me. Maybe, as you say, that was for a Holiday week, whereas the 1/2 cruise is considered (and priced) as post-holiday.

 

DS will want to know if the room where the self-leveling pool tables are located (Colony Club?) is adults only, or can a 10 years shoot some stick w/ dad.

 

I've also seen posts that much of the ship is non-smoking. True? Are staterooms non-smoking, or might we check in after some heavy smokers filled the stateroom w/ cigarette smoke?

 

Another DS item of importance--okay, mine too--is there a soft-serve ice cream machine in the windjammer or elsewhere that is not an added fee? Or just Ben & Jerry's? (I don't need the fancy flavors, I just feel relaxed w/ soft serve vanilla, one of life's simple pleasures--DS is a chocolate ice cream kind of guy).

 

Entertainment--any of the shows worth seeing? Any family friendly comedian or magician or juggler that a 10 yr old might appreciate?

 

Were the football games shown somewhere--this might be for another member of your family to answer--there will be bowl games on 1/2, 1/3 and 1/4 for us, and we're from college football country, so DS will want to watch.

 

Was it possible for an adult to get in a hot tub somewhere that wasn't children filled? Solarium, perhaps?

 

Thanks for any additional info along those lines. This will be just the second RCI cruise for DW and I and the last one was the Nordic Empress, not one of the better ships at all IMHO but it was our first cruise, 1st for DS, and we'll all have comparisons w/ Disney Cruise Line in the back of our mind, though we expect this to be a terrific trip, just different than Disney, same as many great land vacations are not to WDW.

 

oh--how was disembarkation? we have an 11:49 a.m. flight at MIA on that date.

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Logan1,

 

I'll try to answer your questions. We sailed with our two sons ages 9 and 11 and all had a great time.

 

1. My 11 year old and I played on the pool tables 3 or 4 times during the week. They limit you to 1/2 hour when there is a waiting list, but the longest we waited was about 20 minutes. The tables work great, but some of the pockets are beginning to show some wear. By the way, we had a lot of fun on the mini-golf course as well.

 

2. I am very sensitive to smoking as well and had no problems during the week. Maybe we were just lucky, but our cabins had no trace of odor. About the only area noticably smoky was the casino.

 

3. Soft serve yogurt is available (for free) in the Windjammer when it is open - which is most of the day between 6:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m. They had vanilla, chocolate, or swirl.

 

4. I think any of the regular shows would be OK for your DS. Our boys especially liked the Comedian/Magician. (I think his name was Mark Chesnick?) He had a very family oriented show. We missed the Juggler on the last night but heard he was good as well. The production shows are just OK (in our opinion) and might be a little boring your DS.

 

5. Football was on regularly. (Although we missed the GA, Tech game.)

 

6. Hot Tubs by the pool were regularly full, but you should have no trouble in the Solarium.

 

7. Our boys both loved the Adventure Ocean program and actually begged to stay in the after hours program ($5/hr. after 10 p.m.)

 

8. Disembarkation was a breeze for us. We elected to carry off our luggage and were through customs by 8:00 a.m. I'm not sure how the process was for those who checked their luggage.

 

The ship is in excellent shape. Although this was our first cruise and we don't have anything to compare to, I am sure you will have a great time. We supposedly were totally full and we did not ever feel like we were crowded. Let me know if I can answer any other questions.

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Logan1_2000:

 

Re: Concierge Lounge -- If you have late dinner seating and your son will not be joining you for dinner you could use the concierge lounge. Adventure Ocean dinners and early seating both begin at 6pm and late seating dinner was 8:30pm. It never fit our schedule, but those with early dinner seating could also use the concierge lounge for an after-dinner drink (Adventure Ocean opens at 7pm and I believe the concierge lounge remained open until late seating began at 8:30). Other than working it these two ways, however, I'm afraid you'll be out of luck -- all posts have been consistant lately that minors have not been allowed in the concierge lounge after 5pm -- the only surprise to me was that they weren't allowed in during the day either...

 

There are only 2 pool tables at the entrance to the Colony Club and both were always occupied whenever we passed by...but yes, if you're lucky enough to get access to a table children can use the tables with adult supervision.

 

Free, soft serve, frozen yogurt is available free in the windjammer from breakfast time until about 9pm when the Windjammer closes for the evening. Vanilla, Chocolate and Strawberry were available every day. Milkshakes and Ben & Jerry's ice cream bars/posicles are available for purchase at the Seaview Cafe...There was not a Ben & Jerry's ice cream station where you could purchase by the scoop...only the popsicles.

 

I believe you can smoke in all RCCL staterooms...but they do such a great job disinefecting that you'd never notice.

 

Now for the bad news -- one of the few places smoking is allowed on Radiance is the Sports bar located just off the casino. So, in answer to your football viewing question, yes - there were always games on...but it is a very smoke-filled environment. There is also a free fooseball table in the sports bar. I noticed there was also one large TV in the Schooner bar that often had sporting events on...it's a non-smoking lounge, so you may try there, too.

 

For evening shows, everything was family friendly (there wasn't even a late-night adult comic this week). Entertainment varies by week, but we had 2 comedians, a juggler, a magician, a singer and 2 production shows. You can contact RCCL customer service by email, tell them your sail date and request a list of the performers for your cruise. They usually get back to you within a few days.

 

Disembarkation was awesome!! We had white luggage tags (first off) due to our Diamond status and we were called to disembark by 7:25am. I can tell you that priority is given to guests who have booked excursions and those who are using RCCL transportation. Regardless of flight time, everyone using RCCL transportation disembarked first, then disembarkement proceeded (regardless of flight time) by the deck number on which your cabin was located. I believe the scheudle said the last color would be called by 9:25am. But since you have concierge access, I understand that if you can't convince your cabin steard to give you white luggage tags that the concierge usually will.

 

Some other info for your son -- there is a fun waterslide at the kids' pool, but it is only open during hours that Adventure Ocean is also open (sea days: 10a-12p and 2p-4p) -- so in order to use the slide your son will have to give up some scheduled activites in Adventure Ocean. Also, the waiters are more than happy to bring your son's meal/dessert early at dinner (if ordering off the children's menu)...but if you don't intend to get up during your meal and take your son to Adventure Ocean for the 7pm opening I do not recommend having the waiters increase the pace of your son's meal unless he is a very patient child (of course the 9-11 year olds can check themselves in and out of Adventure Ocean if you so authorize, so if you go with that option you won't have a problem)!! Our son was always finished with dinner and dessert within 25 minutes of entering the dining room...our teen daughter would end up running him up to the kids center between courses because he was so anxious to get there that he was driving the rest of us crazy and we couldn't enjoy our meal...

 

If you have any other questions, please let me know...

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Did you take in any of the specialty restaurants? Your thoughts?

 

Any commentary on the ports of call? Did you have three stops or four?

 

 

We had 3 ports of call: CoCo Cay, St Thomas and St Maarten.

 

We did not get off the ship at CoCo Cay -- it as a fairly gloomy weather day.

 

In St Thomas we went to Coki Beach for snorkeling and swimming. Beautiful location, easy snorkeling from the beach, rental equipment and beach chairs/floating mats available for rent. $9pp cab fare each way.

 

In St Maarten we had lunch and guavaberry coladas at Taloula Magoes along the new boardwalk. Lunch was excellent and there was a fabuous band with a very animated singer who strolled through the various restaurants.

 

We did not dine at any of the specialty restaurants on this trip, but I can tell you that on Wednesdays Portofinos is closed for the Murder Mystery dinner -- which sold-out quickly at $49pp. We've eaten at Portofinos on Adventure and Explorer and loved it both times...the menu on Radiance was the same. I also know that Portofinos reservations filled quickly...not sure about Chops.

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Hi all... can you tell me if soda (in cans)is available in the concierge lounge. As a non driker i would love to know this.

 

Thanks!

 

Pat

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What night is "Caribbean" night in the dining room?

 

It is a menu "theme" and suggested attire. Jerk chicken is the waiter "recommended" menu item...but this is also the evening the dining room waiters all recommend you try a specialty restaurant because nothing on the dining room menu is very good that night. Caribbean night is also the night there is dancing under the stars and a midnight buffet on the pool deck.

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Hi all... can you tell me if soda (in cans)is available in the concierge lounge. As a non driker i would love to know this.

 

Thanks!

 

Pat

 

I can tell you there was fountain soda available during the evening cocktail receptions in the Hollywood Oddessey, but we never made it into the actual concierge lounge. Based on what I've read, however, I do not think complimentary beverages of any kind are available outside if the 5-8:30pm cocktail hour.

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It is a menu "theme" and suggested attire. Jerk chicken is the waiter "recommended" menu item...but this is also the evening the dining room waiters all recommend you try a specialty restaurant because nothing on the dining room menu is very good that night. Caribbean night is also the night there is dancing under the stars and a midnight buffet on the pool deck.

That is why I was asking about what night they are doing this, I was going to book a specialty restaurant for the same eve. Does anyone know when it will be during the Eastern route next week?

 

Thanks!

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PAGA-

Thanks for the info on the kids/teen activities. We are taking two 18 year old girls and two 16 year old girls (daughters with friends) along w/our 7 and 8 and 8 year old sons. We've sailed on the Voyager, and all the kids loved it, mostly because of the Promenade/mall style with lots of centralized activity there. I'm a little worried that the Radiance won't be as entertaining for them. Plus the 18 year olds are able to drink legally...could be a bit of a worry. Wanted to try something other than another Voyager Class cruise. Any suggestions specifically for the 15/16 year olds to do other than the teen club?

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Thanks for the review PAGA. We will be going on the Radiance Feb. 19th sailing. We had been told by staff on the ship that Captain Loekling was coming back just after Christmas and would be on for our Feb. cruise. Did Captain Loekling take over from Capt. Darren this early? Was hoping he would still be on for our cruise. We really enjoy him. What do you know about this?

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That is why I was asking about what night they are doing this, I was going to book a specialty restaurant for the same eve. Does anyone know when it will be during the Eastern route next week?

 

Thanks!

 

 

Sorry...I misread your question to say "what is Caribbean night" instead of "what night is Caribbean night".

 

It was Wednesday on our Eastern Caribbean sailing on the Radiance -- the same night as the Murder Mystery in Portofinos.

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Thanks for the review PAGA. We will be going on the Radiance Feb. 19th sailing. We had been told by staff on the ship that Captain Loekling was coming back just after Christmas and would be on for our Feb. cruise. Did Captain Loekling take over from Capt. Darren this early? Was hoping he would still be on for our cruise. We really enjoy him. What do you know about this?

 

 

Sorry...all I know is that Thanksgiving was the last week for our Captain...I do not know who is the "normal" captain and who is the "relief". I can tell you that Captain Darren (Darin?? Not sure of spelling -- and this is his first name, not last) was very good and informative -- he's Canadian, so it was also very easy to understand all of his P.A. announcements. He was also very personable and was often out and about mingling.

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PAGA-

Thanks for the info on the kids/teen activities. We are taking two 18 year old girls and two 16 year old girls (daughters with friends) along w/our 7 and 8 and 8 year old sons. We've sailed on the Voyager, and all the kids loved it, mostly because of the Promenade/mall style with lots of centralized activity there. I'm a little worried that the Radiance won't be as entertaining for them. Plus the 18 year olds are able to drink legally...could be a bit of a worry. Wanted to try something other than another Voyager Class cruise. Any suggestions specifically for the 15/16 year olds to do other than the teen club?

 

 

My daughter spent a lot of time at the pool/in the hot tubs (which weren't very hot). There is also a movie theater on the ship that was showing fairly recent films (the sports bar has popcorn and the theater is located directly beside it). Almost all of my daughter's friends attended the evening shows with their parents, then met up afterwards -- this was a first for us; she was usually gone for the night as soon as dinner ended on the Voyager-class ships. There is a sports court (soccer, basketball), ping pong tables, mini golf and rock-climbing if they are at all athletically inclined (my daughter isn't).

 

Unfortunately, for the older teens it really seemed like a "make your own fun" kind of experience. The important thing is to connect with other teens...my daughter spent a lot of time hanging out in groups just talking with new friends. It was, however, as I mentioned previously a fairly disappointing experience for her compared to her 4 previous Voyager-class ship experiences...I'm just glad for her sake that our next 2 scheudled trips are on Explorer and Freedom.

 

The 7 and 8 year olds will be in the same group as my son was (6-8) -- they will have a blast and find the activities to be very similar to the Voyager-class ships' programs. The only difference is the layout of the Adventure Ocean center -- on the Radiance it is more of a big open room divided between the 6-8 and 9-11 year olds, but those age groups do remain separated in their activities with the exception of after 10pm. One heads up: if your youner kids want to dine with the A.O. staff one night you need to be in the center when it opens -- they only take 7 kids from each age group. I believe they offered the dinner 4 nights (Mon, Wed, Thurs, Fri). One plus was that you could register the younger kids for Adventure Ocean during the open house as soon as you board the ship -- unlike our experience on Voyager-class ships where you had to return to A.O. after the family welcome aboard show later in the evening (and therefore miss the main welcome aboard show in the theater).

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Glad to hear you had a great cruise and thanks for taking the time to post a review. We can't wait for our upcoming Xmas/New Year's cruise on Radiance. We've sailed her before and had a super time.

 

As for the concierge club, if I understand correctly our daughter who's 20 will be able to come in with us (we are all diamond members). Our son is 21 so he can go in on his own.

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