We were on the Radiance, leaving from Miami, 1-02-05. We had a fantastic time- some highlights:
We had connecting balcony rooms on the 9th deck, ( husband and I and our 4 grown daughers), the rooms were wonderful, can't ever go back to no balcony!
We stayed at the Hyatt in downtown Miami the night before. I got a rate of $65.00/night through Priceline back in March. Because it was New Year's Day, I suppose I couldn't get a better rate as some have. The hotel is beautiful, good location. Unfortunately, they were sold out and were housing about 1 million cheerleaders that were in a competition. They were junior and senior high age and absolutely the loudest, most obnoxious group I have ever witnessed. Up all night screaming, running around, slamming doors, etc. We called 3 times during night and never got anything done. The hotel staff was very nice- BUT- we didn't get our 2 rooms together, we did not get 2 rooms with 2 beds each, they ran out of pillows, out of blankets. We had 7 people and were given one room with 2 beds( a handicap room), one king room with a rollaway. They blamed everything on the cheerleaders being there. We booked in March and I truly believe they don't care since we had already paid with Priceline. Also we parked in their garage and because we didn't use valet, they were very rude and we were pretty much on our own to figure out the parking.
We took the metromover to Bayside and ate dinner at Bubba Gumps- very good and lots of fun.
We had a lot of trouble with embarkation, but found out later on the ship that the Radiance had gotten bumped from their usual berth and that was the problem. We tried to get on the ship around 11:00 am and I think we would have been successful if it hadn't been for the berth problem. We were totally bummed out at first because we kept circling the port, all of the signs were wrong, it was so busy. After we finally got on the ship, it was better- we were on by 1:45, but had been trying for hours.
The ship is beautiful! We have cruised 5 times and I believe it is the prettiest ship ever! We loved the crew, our cabin, the food, etc.
We were not able to go to CocoCay because of large waves. We went to San Juan, have been there years ago, but took a taxi to the fort, toured, shopped, went to Senor Frogs. We had a good time. We wanted to go to a beach, but the excursion people said you can't trust the Puerto Rico beaches- they might have "stuff" in the water that is dumped by the hotels?- has anyone heard of this?
We went to Secret Harbour in St. Thomas- I am almost afraid to tell people this because it is so special and so wonderful. The snorkelling is fantastic- especially to the right by the rocks. The food is wonderful, drinks good. Just a wonderful day until you try to get back to the ship. There were 7 ships in port and the traffic was horrendous when you tried to get back to ship. It took us 3 times as long to get back, just sitting in traffic.
St. Maarten- we rented a van- supposed to be 7 passenger- barely 6. We used Budget and they say they are at the dock- but after you sign papers, they take you to another site and you get your car there and then return to this site, wait for someone to come and take you back to the other site at the dock. Just so they get tips- also very rude. We drove all around the island, very beautiful, went to Dawn Beach, very big waves so couldn't snorkel, but very pretty. We went to Marigot, ate at a French cafe, just ok. We went to Orient, Kon Tiki beach. The beach is beautiful, but the french chair boys were so rude they almost ruined it. We paid for 4 chairs and an umbrella- later we heard other people bargaining for better rates and getting them, but we didn't know you could do that. It was very windy and our umbrella immediately blew over. One of the boys came over and just took the umbrella and left with it. We had had it up for literally 2 minutes. I waited for about 30 minutes and just walked over to the bar and told the chair boy- very nicely- that we would just not use the umbrella because it was too windy and I would just take my money back. He started shouting that I had broken his umbrella and I owed him $100!! I could barely understand his english and I actually thought he was kidding! I started to laugh and he said "You broke my umbrella!" I told him I didn't break it and the wind blew it over and the other chair boy came over and yelled at me too- "You most certainly did break our umbrella! It will cost at least $50 to fix!" I just laughed and walked away- I don't know if this is a scam, but anyway I really don't think St. Martin is the "friendly island!!" It is beautiful though!
We had great days at sea and loved the Radiance. Our waiters were fantastic, all of the activities were fun, the entertainment was great. We think the food was really good, but I have to admit, we were on Carnival last year, and I think they are both very comparable. I have sailed RCCL 4 times, Carnival once, I prefer RCCL, but I wouldn't hesitate to go Carnival again if the itinerary and price are good.
My 2 complaints about the ship would be- Too many unsupervised kids running all over the ship. There was one pack of boys- about ages 9-12- they were all over the place and very rude and disruptive. The other complaint is the old one of chair hogs, we don't care if we get a pool chair, we couldn't get a chair period on any of the days. We didn't want to go early and since the cruise was sold out, it was very busy. There are tons of chairs all over with people leaving their stuff on them to "save" them. The staff says to just remove the belongings and take the chair, but I am not that bold. They need to have better policing of this. We just wanted to sit in the sun for an hour or so, listen to the band, have a drink. We had a fantastic balcony, but sometimes you want to be in the sun or hear the music.
Overall, it was another fantastic cruise, any questions are welcome!!