Western Caribbean Cruise
Posted by Clint Leung
Review of Western Caribbean cruise on Royal Caribbean Cruiselines. Ports included Labadee (Haiti), Grand Cayman, Ochos Rios and Cozumel.
We were on the Radiance of the Seas for the western Caribbean cruise on November 28/04. This was our second cruise with Royal Caribbean with our first last year on the larger Adventure of the Seas. After one cruise with RCI, I expected roughly the same standards with the Radiance and in general, I wasn't disappointed.
Our stateroom was an inside aft cabin and we were not disappointed. It was roomy enough and the lighting was adequate. Closet space and drawers were also sufficient for our use. We noticed that the double beds here were actually a bit better than the one we had on the Adventure since we couldn't really feel the split between the two separate beds like we did last time. If there's one thing that can be improved is the shower curtain. The one installed was not adequate in keeping in all the water from the shower. The shower on the Adventure utilized a double glass door system which was far superior. Otherwise, the cabin was nice and dark for sleeping at night. Although we heard a little noise from the cabins next to us, it was minimal. We didn't miss having any window or balcony at all since we were hardly ever in our stateroom. We were either at port or elsewhere on the ship and went back to our cabins just to relax or sleep. We would definitely book an inside cabin again with RCI unless we had a free upgrade.
The main Cascades dining room was nice and meals were good. Breakfasts had the same menu every morning. Lunch at the dining room was okay. The dinners were good but not every meal item was a winner. There was the odd appetizer and dessert that was not up to par. One thing that my partner noticed was that the portions of the main courses seemed to be smaller than those served on the Adventure. We usually went upstairs to the Windjammer to get more food after dining at the Cascades. In some parts of the Cascades room, the tables were placed too cramp so walking to out own table was tricky at times. The self serve Windjammer was good. It usually had more variety of food than served downstairs at the Cascades. Breakfast and lunch were busy at the Windjammer but during evenings, most people chose to dine at the Cascades. The two other optional restaurants onboard Portafino and Choppe House were available at $20 US per person but we never tried them since the meals already included at the Cascades and Windjammer were fine by us. Other passengers who did go to these optional rooms told us that they were nothing special. There was another cafe available during late evenings called the Seaview and they provided fare such as sandwiches, salads and burgers. This was a nice feature. One thing we did object to was that they charged for the coffee and tea there. There was also a specialty coffee place on the main centrum of the ship and they also charged. We had more availability of free beverages on the Adventure.
The service by the stateroom attendants and dining room staff was top notch as expected.
The evening shows at the Aurora Theatre were a mix of the ship's own crew of dancers and singers plus some outside comics and singers. In general, the shows were quite good. We would have liked them to mix up the entertainment each night rather than allocate music, comedy and magic into different evenings. Rather than an entire show of magic, we would have preferred each night featuring a variety of entertainment. Live music around the ship was a nice added touch.
Although smaller than the Adventure, the Radiance had fine amenities including the gym/spa, mini golf, pools and the shops. There was internet access but at 50 cents per minute, the service is a bit steep. There were things to do during the days at sea such as art auctions, cooking demos and dance classes. However, we felt that there was more offered on the Adventure. As for embarking and disembarking, there was no problem on the Radiance. The 6th level contained the casino and for non-smokers, this was a problem. The ventilation in the casino was not great and as a result, cigarette smoke travelled to adjacent areas near the casino. My partner wanted to avoid going on the 6th level whenever possible.
In summary, we enjoyed our cruise on the Radiance of the Seas. However, comparing it to the larger Adventure of the Seas, we would rate the larger ship a bit higher. We liked the huge promenade on the Adventure which was not available on a smaller ship like the Radiance. Given a choice in the future, we would opt for the larger ship. For first time cruisers, the Radiance would still be a good ship to vacation on. This is simply the case of where veteran cruisers would expect more especially if they have been on higher end ships.
Clint Leung is owner of Free Spirit Gallery (http://www.FreeSpiritGallery.ca), an online gallery specializing in Inuit and Northwest Native American art including carvings, sculpture and prints. Free Spirit Gallery has numerous information resource articles with photos of authentic Inuit and Native Indian art as well as free eCards.