Number of Cruises: 2
Cruise Line: Royal Caribbean
Ship: Radiance of the Seas
Sailing Date: March 8th, 2003
Itinerary: Southern Caribbean
First - we made the mistake of going thru cruise.com - I originally booked for three people and a week before we left I had to add a daughter who came back home. They took me for a ride - or for a fist full of money - so that did not make me happy.
we did not receive her papers until the day before we left - had to call twice
to get them delivered to us. Live and Learn.
Now the cruise - the air and connections were good - transfers and checkin was great - ship was beautiful. We were all four in the same cabin on the 10th deck - beautiful room with lots of room and a balcony.
We never had our steward
introduce himself to us so we were never sure who he was - but he did a
great job taking care of the room - must have had a TV monitor to know
when we were out (just kidding). Room service was great -it took us 5 days
and a note to customer desk to find out where we could get ice tea and
water when the buffets were closed. Answer - room service and they were
great to bring ice tea and water and lemonade.
Food - my biggest complaint with the ship. On our Destiny cruise - we got the best food in the formal seating. On the Radiance - one must pay $20/person/meal to get the best food. The food in the regular formal seating area was not that good. We had the late seating (8:30) and the first two nights it took them over two hours to serve us - much too long and to spaced out on the items. Two couples at our table plus our family did not eat the next couple of nights because of the quality of the food and the service - one couple complained to the head waiter - we were called the next night and asked if we were coming personally by the head waiter - but again, the food was not what we expected. The other two couples ate at the two special restaurants were you pay $20 per person extra and said that the food was great! But after paying for a cruise - why should you pay extra for the "best food"?
The open buffets were fantastic and that is were we
enjoyed the best food - the Windjammer - morning, noon, or night. Also, the
seaview cafe had the best fast food and deserts - so plan for a hamburger and
onion rings at least one snack.
The pool layouts and ship decor was excellent (we do not drink) but they had plenty of bars.
We left San Juan to St. Thomas -the ship NEVER arrived early in port as we experienced on the Carnival Destiny - a real problem in that some days we were late getting off the ship. At St. Thomas we did our own thing - went to St. John's and snorkeled at Trunk bay - took the water taxi from downtown - $7/person for a 45 minute boat ride around the island to St. John - then took the short ferry and taxi back to the ship - a great day of water and seeing the islands.
Next - to Antigua - again - we arrived on time - not early - and rented a taxi for the day - had a great view of the island - and a couple hours of snorkeling on the beach. Cost - $100 for the four of us ( probably could have found someone cheaper if tried hard) but so nice to have our own taxi - much, much cheaper than the boat tours.
Next day to St. Martin - the problem day - there were 7 cruise ships in port and we did not get to anchor at the dock - we were ferried to land on the lifeboats - and did not get off the ship until 9:30 and so we missed our planned tour I made over the internet - others on the boat missed their dive boats, etc. A lot of unhappy people!!!!!. Anyway, my son and I caught a taxi to Dawn Beach for the day to snorkel and sun - BEAUTIFUL BEACH and no nudity - great for family.
Good snorkeling right off the beach. My wife and daughter took a tour of the island offered by the cruise line - they enjoyed it.
Next day - to St. Lucia - my son and I went on a full day snorkel/beach with the cruise line to ANESet -something - where there is a marine reserve - what a great day - beautiful black sand beach - clear water - great lunch - went by boat for 50 minute ride along the coast to get there - then the day on the beach. Saw octopus, moray eel - and lots of fish right off the beach. Suggest this trip. (by the way - it is $98/person - but a cab to get there is $100 each way on a lousy road for a 11/2 hour cab trip.
Finally - last day to Barbados - took a kayak and
turtle encounter off the cruise ship - good trip - enjoyed very much.
This cruise I had a had time getting the internet tours set up that I did on the last cruise. This was bad in that Royal Caribbean charges anywhere from $7-10/person more for shore trips than does Carnival. Really adds up on a cruise.
We arrived back at San Juan and the offload process was quick and the usual early hours. Was a long trip back to Dallas with many hours waiting - but everything went smoothly.
luggage - at the San Juan airport - Royal Caribbean claims your luggage - the
problem was that the airline tore off the cruise tag off my daughter's bag and
so they did not get her bag - we went to the purser - they did a great job to
get it to us by the next day on the next island - great job.
Finally - would we cruise this ship again - no - because of the meal situation - it is like "class separation" if you are not willing to pay the extra money. We paid for the all inclusive "ship" and we felt we did not have access to the entire ship.
Again - we are
meat and potato type of people - who enjoy the beautiful water and service on
the cruise - the ship was clean, and beautiful - the buffets great - being
ferried in at St. Martin was a real pain - and cost us our anticipated best trip
of the week to snorkel and sail.
So I close still a real fan of cruises - I only wish I had discovered them earlier in our lives - but we plan to make up for it in the coming years.
Take a cruise - any ship - any cruise line - what a great way to travel.