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We Made History.......Radiance of the Seas 12/21/03
We stayed pre-cruise at the Holiday Inn on 17th. Decent hotel but no coffee pots in the room. Close to port and convenient to shopping and restaurants. There were 6 of us in 3 cabins on deck 7. 2 balconies and 1 inside.
This was the first time that Port Everglades had 16 ships and 50,000 passengers sailing. We tried to get into the pier at around 10:20 and were told we couldn't. We did get in but found no where to drop our luggage. We went to the parking garage and sat there for a while and then shlepped all the suitcases across the street to the RCI area. Found a porter immediately. Went into the terminal and into the Diamond, Platinum and Suite area and waited for checkin. They served coffee and danish and later on finger sandwiches. Check in started around 11:30 and we were among the first to get on the ship. Very smooth embarkation but remember we went very early. We watched the traffic from the ship and it looked to be a mess around 1:30.
The ship was as lovely as I remembered her to be. She is elegant with lots of wood accents. I enjoyed roaming the ship and rediscovering her beauty. Also met many crew members I'd sailed with before.
We dropped off our carry ons at our cabin and headed upstairs to the dining room to check out our table. Then on to the Windjammer for lunch with a stop at the pool bar on the way. There I found an old friend Yoman. We sailed this same ship with him 2 years ago. After some more looking around I stopped at the Schooner Bar one of my favorites and there was Rey another one of my favorite bartenders from 2 years before. Spent plenty to time with him this week. The Schooner Bar is where they have a piano player and a sing along nightly.
The Cabins: First time we had 2 cabins. Balcony for us and inside for the kids. Worth the few extra dollars to have 2 bathrooms! Small but layed out well. Still hate the shower curtain.
The Ship was in excellent condition. She has been well taken care of. Very little wear shows.
The Crew was always friendly and very helpful if we had questions. Our Assistant waiter Iko was outstanding. Our cabin steward and Dining room waiter were OK. We also enjoyed the Concierge club with Giusseppe Campagna. Always willing to be helpful and he had a true caring for his passengers. Hope that we meet with him again.
The Casino is nicely laid out. We didn't win a fortune but we broke just about even. My 18 year old son was able to join us this time and he truly enjoyed it. Stay away from the slots........awful. My only disappointment was the Roulette table that was missing the board with the previous numbers. The staff was wonderful and very friendly.
The Food. I must say I had several surprises while on board regarding the food. The Windjammer food was much better then recent cruises and I must admit I enjoyed eating breakfast and lunch there. Fresh made omlets for breakfast as well has hot and cold cereals. My usual lunch consisted of salad or sandwich. There was also fresh carved meats. Very good quality. Also loved the tuna in the Solarium cafe. They served a few kinds of rolls as well as pizza in the afternoon. Also enjoyed the nacho chips in the Seaview cafe. They came with guacamole, salsa and sour cream. Wish they had the cheese too. This cafe get very crowded at some times especially when it first opens around 2:00. The Dining room food was a true disappointment to all of us. We did enjoy the Beef Wellington. I would avoid most of the pasta sauces except the seafood pasta they served one night at dinner. The beef and pork tended to be quite tough. We had to have steak knives to cut these and sometimes it just wasn't worth the effort. The worst was the last night, Prime Rib was OK but they served my daughter a black potato. I found the food to be bland in the Dining Room but much better in the Windjammer. You won't starve but don't expect gourmet food.
The Ports. St. Thomas, St Martin, San Juan, and Nassau. Really didn't do anything in any of them as this really was to be a restful trip and we have already been to all of them.
Celebrating the holidays at sea........There was a Menorah lighting each evening of Hanukkah. The ship had $60,000 worth of decorations but I really felt the ship was underdecorated in comparison to our previous holiday RCI cruises. There was no tree in the centrum which was disappointing so there were no Christmas pictures taken. RCI did a marvelous job with Christmas Eve. There was caroling (the captain joined in also), a holiday show and midnight mass. On Christmas morning Santa came to all the children. The smaller ones got backpacks and the teens got beach towels. Sorry don't remember what the middle group got. You didn't have to go to Santa to get your gift if you didn't want to. The festivities were held in the Centrum and candy canes and egg nog served. When we returned to our cabins RCI had given each cabin a rolling bag. Very nice touch on their part.
My family enjoyed this vacation and won't hesitate to sail RCI again. There are rumors that a new menu will be instituted next year and hopefully some improvements will be made in the Dining Room. All in all a very restful and pleasant trip.