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koach

radiance 3/21 western caribbean - long(er than i thought)

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flew in the day of the cruise. arrived at FLL at 12:30pm, took a cab ($11) over to the port.

check-in went smoothly despite only having one page of my edocs (they one where u have to sign all your rights away) and no luggage tags (they were given to us by the porter to fill out ourselves).

cabin:

had an e1 cabin on deck 7 forward. nice size balcony but i was really bothered by the fact that the dividers don't go all the way to the railing allowing your ugly freak neighbors to stare over ALL DAY LONG.

note to self: deck 8 or higher next time. i'll gladly trade the bigger space for more privacy. slept with the balcony door open most nights.

food:

not a big fan of the windjammer food but the outdoor seating is nice and it was OK for breakfast.

seaview cafe has yummy cuban and reuben sandwiches for lunch although there tends to be a bit of wait.

dinners in cascades were mostly good, and overall much better than expected after reading the reviews on this board. when in doubt go with the chef’s recommendation which is marked with a star on the menu.

ordered room service (which we loved) for breakfast 3x and for dinner 2x. took about 40 minutes for dinner but you can pre-order breakfast and chose a 30 min. window for delivery.

got the wine&dine for $125 incl. service charge. good deal if you’re into wine (and even better deal if they forget to punch a hole in your wine&dine card), and we had no problems getting wine with room service.

service:

we changed tables about as often as our underwear (i.e. once - JUST KIDDING) but the service was excellent no matter who the waiter was. our stateroom attendant was alright. he did his job for the most part but usually didn't say anything when asked him for things. he was always around since his cart was parked outside our cabin (prompting us to modify RCCL's slogan to HE'S OUT THERE!). all other employees were neither hateful nor hostile as seen on carnival.

ship & activities:

a truly beautiful ship. rock climbing was free but due to the winds i only saw it open on day 2 in key west. gym was also pretty good (nice nautilus-type machines) and usually not crowded. solarium was best @ 7am or during dinner time when it was empty except for us. never tried the main pool which looked like a zoo.

we tried the stand-up comedian the first night but there is a good reason he can be found on a cruise ship just like the semi-celebrity performers from great 70s shows no one has ever heard of: they're not that good.

so we skipped pretty much all of it except the ship talk which was lame (what's the diameter of the propeller? YAWN) except when a vet cruiser asked the FANTAAAHSTIC captn darren why there are never any american waiters on any of the ships. “international recruiting†was the answer instead of “crappy pay and 12-hour work daysâ€.

on a side note, i was rather surprised how rocky the ride became once we left florida waters.

ports:

key west:

hated it the first time i went there and hated it this time. not very tranquil at all. lotsa leaf blowers, cars and scooters. might be more fun at sunset. certainly couldn’t be any less - unless you’re into polydactyl cats or roosters.

cozumel:

went on a two-site snorkeling trip with eagle ray which for $50 pp is a waste of money IMHO. crew was friendly but the stops were so close to shore (dzul ha and paradise reefs) we could have easily driven there since we had a rental for the day. speaking of, we had a reservation with hertz but of course the guy who works the hertz counter had no record of it. good thing i had have a print-out of the reservation which he honored despite quoting us a higher rate initially. and yes, we got the insurance.

drove to the eastern side of the island after snorkeling, had lunch at chen rio (pretty setting but rather pricey I thought) instead of coconuts which was way too loud and crowded, and then continued on to san miguel. we’re not into drinking and driving or shopping for HANDMADE CRAFTS FROM CHICHEN ITZA, so we left after about 30 minutes, and i don’t feel as though i missed much.

roatan:

favorite port hands down. took a cab from the pier to sandy bay ($5), snorkeled for a bit, then flagged down another taxi to the west end (another $5, while i am aware that locals pay about $2 to go from coxen hole to the west end, I didn’t mind paying five times the “regular†fare as the taxistas are quite friendly and can surely use the money better than, say, RCCL who charges you about $50 r/t to go to west bay in a rickety school bus). the west end is mellow place; very laid back. being the moron that I am, i then decided to walk to west bay thinking 5km ain’t that bad. well, it wouldn’t be if it wasn’t all uphill. i loved the walk though as it offered some nice views. i ended up at canopy tours after about 1 hour. lucky coincidence b/c I wanted to try them anyway and they were just about to start a tour. I paid the $35 and off we went. i had a lot of fun. here’s some advice: when the guide says ‘brake’, BRAKE. or you’ll crash into the trees like two people in my group who chose to ignore the signs. george, george, george of the jungle… watch out for that tree. Also, don’t tease the outbreak ebola monkeys down towards the beach.

took a taxi back to coxen hole for another $10, walked around a bit and felt almost ashamed to go back on the luxurious ship. i imagine roatan’s arrival on the cruise circuit will be good for the local economy but i’d hate to see what i’ll do to the island itself. go now b/c you won’t recognize the place in 5 years.

grand cayman:

the ship’s stingray city tours except for one were canceled due to the weather but who goes on ship-sponsored excursions anyway? we had booked nativeway, and except for the one-hour wait for customers (due to the late arrival of the radiance in GC) who ended up not showing after all, they were rather good. small group of 10 or so people. it was quite choppy out at stingray city but i thought it was amazing even though i had some reservations about joining what i perceive to be organized ray harassment. sure, they put up with it but i assume the desire for food outweighs the annoyance of being lifted up into the air and put on people’s heads. but what do i know, i neither speak eagle ray nor am i jaques cousteau. snorkeling at coral gardens was uneventful but i was nice to see a couple of rays that were apparently on break from active stingray city duty hang out here.

asked to be dropped off at the treehouse for lunch during the hellish drive back along 7-mile beach. we thoroughly enjoyed the treehouse. you can sit right on the water and watch huge tarpon and barracuda.

walked back to george town, used the at&t internet place at the tender pier (at ‘only’ $.25/min vs $.50 on the ship) to reserve a rental car for FLL for sunday, and did some shore snorkeling at eden rock (again, huge tarpon and turtles farther out) before tendering back.

disembarkation:

had red tags for folks with flights before noon by which i mean folks with rental car reservations @ 9am. no problems getting off although luggage retrieval was a bit chaotic. waited 15 minutes for an alamo shuttle but then decided to take a cab to the rental place only to see the shuttle pull up as we were getting into the cab. but what’s another $8 at this point? drove around fort lauderdale (skip the riverwalk if you’re there at 10am), headed east to the dirty beach, and had lunch at some skanky dive on dumpy beach place called ‘margaritas’or sth. if i had to do it all over again, i’d get a sandwich to go from subway on las olas, pay the $4 fee to get the into hugh taylor birch state park, grab a picnic table by the canal and hang out there until it’s time to go to the airport. but that’s just me.

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