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Sharon Marvin

Age: 55

Occupation:Charter Yacht Broker

Number of Cruises: 4

Cruise Line: Royal Caribbean

Ship: Radiance of the Seas

Sailing Date: December 14, 2002

Itinerary: Southern Caribbean

We loved this ship. Every inch of it was well laid out, well thought out and beautifully decorated. The festive touches for the holidays (which included many lovely and unique Christmas trees) added and complimented the look. Overall, everything was very pretty except for the pool area. Can’t figure out who fell down on the job, but it was just plain odd. We have been on two Celebrity ships and one Carnival and this ship was hands down the nicest. We loved the solarium pool area (no kids under 16). The aft deck behind the Wayfarer Café was great for all our lunches and breakfasts. Contrary to some reviews, our room steward was great and our ice didn’t melt.

We arrived from Orlando, took a taxi to the ship and bought a couple of bottles of rum at the duty free shop in the terminal before boarding the ship. Upon boarding, they were both taken out of the backpack and held for the duration of the cruise. This was a bit of a shock to us, since we have never had this happen before. Don’t know if the hardnosed approach was strictly an employee in bad humor or a change of policy. We were not informed by the store selling the liquor of any such policy. In fact, we had taken a Celebrity cruise earlier last year from the same terminal and had no problem. This was not a good omen to start off with, because we enjoy having a cocktail on our balcony before dinner. The ship, however, was delightful.

We had a balcony cabin 8084. The location was near the Centrum elevators and central stairs, which proved very handy. We never got lost. The storage didn’t seem adequate at first, but then I discovered shelves behind the mirrors. I tend to over pack, so if our clothes fit, yours will too. I also found that “cruise wear” is rather a thing of the past and most people dress down not only on the ship, but for shore excursions as well. I ended up wearing more shorts and cotton tees than Capri’s and silk tanks. We did visit the gym several times and found it very quiet with lots of equipment.

Unlike Celebrity, the first night’s seating was at your regular table. We had the late seating, which started out at 8:30PM and then was moved to 8:45PM. We all liked the later seating, but would have liked it moved back to the 8:30 time. The dining room was very pretty, but a bit crowded. They used a lot of large oval tables (perhaps to get more seating in a smaller space) but they are difficult for conversation. Ours was an oblong table for 10 by the window. We had 8 the first night and every night thereafter. The missing guests never appeared and halfway through the cruise, we asked that the leaf be taken out so that we could converse easier. The next night it was done. Our tablemates were absolutely delightful and we all looked forward to dinner each night to catch up on the adventures of the day. Our waiter and assistant waiter were very good. We ordered salmon as an alternative dinner several times and it was perfectly cooked as instructed. (Celebrity could not get this right with two tries). Several times I asked for a main dish to be made into an appetizer and it was no problem. I agree that some of the menus choices did not go together, there was always something we could order that was interesting. I would say the food was generally better than Celebrity. Surprisingly, Carnival’s food isn’t bad, but they rushed us through every meal on that cruise. On Radiance, we were always the last ones out of the dining room, which it a testament to our enjoyment of our companions and the meal.

We purchased a “discount drink card” on board. This card entitled you to 12 drinks at a reduced rate of about $3.10 per drink (plus tax & grat of course). It was good for house wine and bar drinks, or drinks that would normally cost up to $4.50 each. Worth investigating.

We find the ship’s shows are usually pretty bad, but we usually go to see the comedians. This ship had two and they both were quite funny. The first night was Andres Fernandez and the second show featured Keith Monteith. Stay up – they are good.

I read a negative comment about the captain’s party on one review of the Radiance, and I have to say that although that has been our experience in cruises past – it was not on the Radiance. On one of the Celebrity ships, the party was held in the Theater – where it was impossible to get a drink or hors d’oeuvres. The Captains party on the Radiance was held in the Colony Club. It was one of the nicest lounges I have encountered. There were stewards with trays of champagne as you entered and more circulating with additional glasses inside. The hors d’oeuvres were displayed at the entrance. They were very good and very ample. They had a nice combo playing. Of course if you don’t like champagne that might be a problem. In my opinion, it couldn’t have been done better.

We didn’t avail ourselves of any of the packaged tours offered by the ship. Several of our tablemates did with poor result. In fact, two of the couples had such bad experiences that they both complained to the tours desk and did receive rebates. If your tour isn’t what it was billed to be, complain. The ship subs these things out and they really won’t know it isn’t up to par if you don’t tell them.

Our favorite departure from the ship this time was Orient Beach in St. Maarten. The beach is beautiful, lots of very comfy beach chairs and umbrellas available and lots to do. We decided to go parasailing, which was really fun. Cost about $3.00pp for a cab full of people to the beach and $80.00 for two to do the sailing. Well worth it.

We also enjoyed the Boatyard beach in Barbados. It is probably not the prettiest beach on the island, but it is close by the ship and the pure soft white sand and swimming were great. Our friends contracted with a guy (right off this beach) to take them snorkeling. Although they were dubious at first, they decided to try it. For only a few dollars he took them to a fabulous spot with zillions of fish and provided the equipment. They said it was the best snorkeling they had ever done. I believe he was affiliated with Roger’s Scuba (but don’t quote me).

Everyone looks for something different in a cruise vacation. My husband and I quite like each other and are not looking for wild partying and loud music. We enjoyed very much our dinner companions and people we met here and there on the ship and on land. We can’t much attest to the cruise director and the antics he wove, but he was very personable as an MC and when we saw him out and about the ship. There were seating areas all around the ship where you could just talk or listen to the music from the main lobby. For us it was a very good fit.

We were pleased with - the Beautiful décor; a very pleasant crew; soundproofed halls; good food and excellent captain’s party

Needs Improvement – Air conditioning in interior areas too cold; photography service terrible; bringing liquor aboard policy needs to be rethought; late seating could be moved up a little. Tour packages need to be checked by RC from time to time. Some of them were really not at all what was expected.

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