We flew from Los Angeles to Ft. Lauderdale one day early, Friday, April 6, 2001, which was my birthday. We had a change of planes in Atlanta. The original connecting flight was canceled, however, Delta found another plane and we were in Ft. Lauderdale by 9 p.m. Our original documents from RCCL requested that we place the RCI luggage tags on all luggage and to take carry on luggage with a change of clothing, as we would not see our luggage until it was delivered to our room on Saturday. However, after reading so much about "lost luggage," we decided to tag ours after arriving in Ft. Lauderdale. All pieces made it and were tagged. We stayed at the Airport Hilton in Ft. Lauderdale. Older hotel, but decent room, with in room high-speed Internet access.
Embarkation: At the advise of seasoned cruise friends, we took a taxi to the pier, stopped at a convenience store on the way and picked up Pepsi and beer. Arrived at the pier at approximately 10:30 a.m. RCI employees in the terminal going around requesting that everyone check their docs to see if they were complete etc. Check in opened at about 10:45 a.m. We were in our cabin by 11:15 a.m. Luggage was received prior to muster, which was at 4:15 p.m., we noticed that one piece of luggage had been opened. We immediately reported the loss of a camera. We had purchased the insurance so we will be filing a claim. Also, upon embarkation we immediately went to the Business Center to sign up for the unlimited Internet access. We were expecting to pay $100 a week, for a total of $200. However, the Manager said that it would only be $100 for entire cruise! Wow, now I could really post my pictures and updates.
Muster was on Deck 6 in the Schooner Bar, not at the lifeboats as we had experienced prior. We missed sail away from Ft. Lauderdale as we had been incorrectly informed that they would be doing a room search when we reported the missing camera. Oh well. Before sail away, I used our cell phone to call the two credit card companies to inform them that we may be making purchases and what our Itinerary was. I had read this was a good thing to do so that your card isn't "frozen" due to out of the country purchases that is not your normal pattern.
We were assigned Main Seating, which we had requested. We had a table for 10. Met our tablemates, 4 were traveling together from Massachusetts, 4 were parents and son and significant other (John & Janet, Dave & Marie) Art & Dot, and Ken & Nancy. The later 4 were part of the group we had booked with. When they found out what time we were on the ship, they weren't happy. They followed instructions and weren't on the ship until after 3:00 p.m.
After dinner, made our way to the "Explorations/Guest Relations" desk to sign up for our excursions, since we were unable to do so from our room. We filled out the form and put it in the box. We were told we should have all of our tickets later that night or early tomorrow. However, hubby was very disappointed as the scuba dive tour was not available. With some information from one of the Explorations employees hubby was able to schedule a dive in Aruba, via the internet!
First two days were at sea. Hubby and I aren't sun worshippers but there were plenty of them on deck. Lots of saved lounge chairs, but I did notice that they were removing towels! I said to myself, "Ahhh HA! I have to definitely post this information in my review!" As we hadn't received our tour tickets yet, went to the Guest Relations, they check our file and found nothing had been booked, so we booked them and walked away with our tickets for our tours.
Aruba - Hubby had a morning dive, I slept in, took it easy. Met him on the pier, ran back to the cabin for him to change, ran to the Windjammer for a quick lunch, then back down to the pier for our afternoon "Off Road Adventure" Tour. Great tour. But very windy and dusty! But loads of fun. Sail away at 12:30 a.m.!
Another sea day - day to relax, read, walk, talk, take pictures
Panama Canal - WOW what a sight! We had a balcony on the starboard side and that was nice to get away from everyone on deck. We did use our balcony when we wanted peace and quiet. The solarium was always full.
Another Sea day - day to relax, read, walk, talk, take pictures (we took a lot of pictures!)!
Costa Rica - Puntarenas: We took the River Adventure Tour. This was a tour of a river where the Guide explained all about the river, the mangrove trees, the crocodiles, birds etc. Nice calm ride which is exactly what we had wanted. The guide also provided information as we rode on the bus to the location. Fresh fruit and cold drinks were provided as part of the tour. We saw very colorful crabs as we walked to the rivers edge to the boats.
Two Days at Sea - Crown and Anchor Society Cocktail Party. Captain Kent Ringborn sang, beautiful voice. Gordon Whatman is our cruise director. We didn't really participate in any pool side games.
Acapulco - We had signed up for an afternoon tour so hubby and I joined our tablemates from Massachusetts for shopping in the morning. WOW was that an eye opener. They can really bargain! They had been in Acapulco previously on a land vacation so they knew what they were doing. I'm glad we went with them, otherwise, I would have paid way too much for our stuff!! Everyone at our table was booked for the Shotover Jet Boat Tour. The timing was 3 to 3 � hrs. We left at 1 p.m., we didn't return to the Ship until 6:30 p.m. This is a new tour and RCCL and the ground operator really needs to work some issues. The information about the tour didn't say anything about getting wet, therefore, suggesting you wear your swimsuit. We saw what we were in for! These were JET BOATS! Looked Scary but also like loads of fun. The tour was a blast! We received a 20% refund from that tour, guess that's because one of the RCI Guest Relations personnel was on that tour and he was 2 � hrs late reporting to work!
Another day at sea
Cabo San Lucas, hubby had arranged another dive through the internet but was unable to get off the ship in time due to it not being a ships tour, and it is a tender port.
Last day at Sea - Farewell show was very good. Captain sang and so did our cruise Director, both have wonderful voices.
Food in the dining room was very good. We aren't gourmet eaters and we aren't that picky. Our Waitress, Mihaela, from Romania, was very good. They had brought her over from the Sovereign for one month. I'm glad we got her! Our Assistant Waitress, Aysun, first time on a ship. Has a bachelors degree in hotel management. Our Head Waiter was Mustafa, and he, too, had been brought over from the Sovereign. Mustafa stopped at our table every night. Even got us Escargot one night (when it wasn't on the menu!).
Windjammer food we thought was fine. Not dining room fare, but ok for what it was. We always found something we could eat. Usually kept it light and took the stairs a lot! I did get a snack in the Seaview Cafe one night, it was very good. Nothing cost extra there. Food and Soda. We did have dinner at Chops one night, in port in Costa Rica. It was very very very good! The New England Clam Chowder was EXCELLENT! I had the Filet and hubby had the prime rib! We weren't sure about the tipping. So I just asked, the waitress informed us that $3.00 per $20 was the tip. Well, we felt that they really did take care of you so we did add an additional sum for the tip. Alcoholic drinks are not part of the $20 per person.
Our Cabin Steward came on board the day of sailing, we really didn't see him much, however, he did his job well and we tipped him accordingly. One thing I saw, and was very happy about, is they closed the Windjammer buffet the last night. So the only way to get out of tipping at dinner was to have room service! After dinner we all got up and hugged our waitress and assistant waitress. I really felt like crying. They are my friends and I didn't want to leave them. And yes we tipped Mustafa, our Head Waiter; he had stopped by every night and did get the Escargot (I only tasted one - UGH! Gave the rest to hubby!)
We had a wonderful cruise. Things weren't perfect, like getting the items for our Grand Romance Package, but heck we got the better robes instead of the cheap ones. Our pillow chocolates started appearing on the third night. The canapes and late night sweets were delivered twice, at the wrong times and wrong days (supposed to be two formal nights). We reported this to Guest Relations and we received two bottles of champagne at dinner that night (celebrated two birthdays) as compensation for the error. Then received them two more times. We just laughed! Photographers, were not obtrusive! I noticed when we got to port (and we left the ship early enough), if you didn't want your picture taken, you weren't 'stopped' from walking right on by!
The ship never felt over crowded. We saw Mission Impossible 2 in the Theater. It was an 11 p.m. showing, now we asked ourselves why are all these elderly people awake and in the theater (only held 40). Being a 14-day cruise, much older crowd! There were some kids on board, pretty much behaved. Really none over 16.
Debarkation - We were delayed debarking due to immigration officials looking for several people who had not reported. The ship was cleared at about 10:45. Our son was waiting for us. No bus for us, we live in the Los Angeles area! We were able to stay in our cabin until about 10:15 a.m.
So in closing - WE HAD A WONDERFUL CRUISE. It seems that on the day of sailing, they had brought over staff from other ships. We found a great bartender brought over from the Monarch, so if you're on the Radiance in the Hollywood Lounge, tell Owens, Lee & Terri miss him! He makes the best drinks and a smooth Kamakazi! To read my posts and pictures submitted from onboard the Radiance, please check out www.seacruisechat.com.