This is a combined review for three cruises:
HAL's, Maasdam (3/25/01, 7 days, K579, Western Caribbean); stats are 1993, 55,000 tons, 1266 capacity, 600 crew
Celebrity's Millennium (4/21/02, 8 days, Penthouse 6018, Eastern Caribbean); stats are 2000, 91,000 tons, 1950 capacity, 999 crew
RCCL's Radiance of the Seas (5/24/02, 3 days, 8602, Pacific Northwest); stats are 2001, 88,000 tons, 2100 capacity,
Where possible, I will try to provide facts for all three ships. We are big band, ballroom dancers; thus, our cruising experiences are geared toward dancing. Port information is not provided in this review. We cruise to dance; and sometimes will even overlook eating to enjoy good dancing. We bypass the port activities in order to rest up for the evening's activities and other onboard events.
Topic Headings are as follows:
Who We Are; Prior Cruises; Future Cruises; Travel Agent; PreCruise Activities; Embarkation; Ship's Captains; Cruise Directors; Cabins; Room Service; Mini-Bar; Luggage Storage; Room Safes; Bathrooms; Ship's Newsletters; Noise On The Ships; Service, Cleanliness, Etc.; Breakfast; Lunch; Dinner; Desserts; Specialty Restaurants; Ice Cream; Theater; Dancing; Pools & Whirlpools; Photography & Videos; Fire Drills; Medical Facility; Non Sea Days; Sea Days; Ports; People We Met; Sun, Rain, Wind; Improvements That Could Be Made; and Disembarkation
Who We Are: I am a woman over 60, semi retired, and my traveling partner, life-companion, is a "few years older." We both lost spouses, mine to emphysema (smokers out there should try to quit smoking) and his to cancer. We both met during senior dance activities and feel that God brought us together. We are enjoying a tremendously happy life filled with love for each other, dancing and traveling together. He has been dancing since he was 16 in high school and throughout his life. I, too, loved dancing in high school, but stopped after marriage. Why do we cruise to dance when we can dance at home (approximately five times a week)? Well, at home you do have to pay fees, travel to and from the location and find a parking place, etc. And, if you have a drink or two, you need to worry about driving home. Not so on a ship with dance activities; just a few steps here and a few steps there. And the ambiance of dancing on a beautiful ship with dinner included and wine, if desired, is a great deciding factor.
Prior Cruises: He, a former major in the US Army, was stationed in China for two years and has traveled the world, first cruising on the Mariposa (actually a pleasure cruise ship taken over by the Merchant Marines), and then traveling throughout Northern Burma, India and South China. Since then he has been on eight cruises and introduced me to cruising last year. The Radiance was my third cruise; I just love this way of life.
Future Cruises: We currently have booked a 10-day cruise to the Southern Caribbean on HAL's Amsterdam, set to sail November 11, 2002. And the big band Tommy Dorsey Orchestra is scheduled for this cruise. Also, we are planning a trip to China next year, most likely by air and land travel because we cannot find a cruise just in the areas in which we wish to travel.
Travel Agent: We have been using AAA in Bellevue for the last couple of years and have been very satisfied with their service. We also take advantage of the maps and tour books for the various trips, both cruises and other air/land trips, that we have taken over the years. We usually do the research first on the Internet, and find fares, etc. And our agent adds in the AAA rate and the senior rate, etc. and ends up getting us the best fares. So, we are pleased. She is such a sweet person and has provided us with a welcoming bottle of champagne in our stateroom on each of our Caribbean cruises.
PreCruise Activities: We usually elect to stay overnight in Fort Lauderdale. Last year, it was the Hilton and this year we stayed at the Best Western Inn, 1221 State Road 84. Both rooms were OK and served its purpose. Last year we had a late dinner at the Hilton. Since we arrived earlier this year and since the Best Western had no place to eat (they have continental breakfast), we went across the State Road 84 to a German restaurant. It was an excellent place to eat, drink wine and dance. Yes, they had dancing and we took advantage of it. We just wished that they stayed open later. They closed at 11:00 p.m. (Saturday night). Both places have vans to take you to the ships at Port Everglades.
Embarkation: Last year, getting on the Maasdam took a little longer. It may be better now. This year, while at the Best Western we discovered that I forgot to pack my beloved's medication. Thus, we were frantically calling the Millennium at midnight. We had a ship to shore call which cost us $95. But we were very much relieved when the ship's nurse was reached and informed us that they had the medications on board and would be able to assist us. We were told to arrive at 10:30 am the following morning and let them know that we had an appointment with the ship's doctor. Once on board, we saw the doctor and got prescriptions for the medications, which the ship filled for us. Everyone was very nice to us and thus our embarkation process on the Millennium was very good. Later that day, we joined the Captain's Club to gain the special departure privileges.
On the Radiance, since we live in the Bellevue area, we drove our car to Seattle's Pier 66 and entered the parking garage for the Bell Street Pier. Once inside, they took our luggage and told us where to park. We parked on the 4th floor level where the sky bridge is and walked across the sky bridge. We headed up the escalator to where check in is. There was a large line, but for some reason, someone stopped us and said "This is your lucky day" and she escorted us to the check in counter. The check-in process had not started yet and everyone was getting their computer to log on to the company's network. They had difficulty and we waited in front of the counter for about ten minutes before the lady got logged on. Then it was a short ten-minute wait to go up the "gangway" and take a picture and then board the ship.
Ship Captains: All three ships' captains were very nice, congenial hosts who genuinely seemed pleased that we were aboard. All three ships had no vacancies.
Captain Peter Jan van Maurik, HAL's Maasdam; attended the Champagne Welcome Party and a Mariner's Reception.
Captain Antonio Manaras, Celebrity's Millennium; met him at the Captain's Welcome Aboard Cocktail Party and at the Captain's Club Receptions.
Captain Kent Ringborn, RCCI's Radiance of the Seas, has a great singing voice; he sang during the Captain's Welcome Aboard Reception, greeted everyone personally and also took pictures with all guests who requested it. I have a very nice picture of the three of us.
Cruise Directors: We believe the best cruise director on all three ships is a toss up between Susan Wood on the Maasdam and Jim Cannon on the Millennium. These two were the most enthusiastic persons on their respective ships, always greeting us with a smile and talking to us and conducting classes we took part in. The Radiance's Ken Rush, although he too was a nice personable friendly person, did not provide the dance entertainment that the other two did.
Cabins: The cabins on all three ships were approximately the same size: 179 square feet on the Radiance, 170 square feet on the Millennium and 182 square feet on the Maasdam. General layout of the rooms and storage space were all excellent. One nice touch on the Radiance was a drape room divider between the bed and the sitting area. All you needed to do was unhook the clasp and pull the drape across the upper rod. This was very much appreciated when one wanted to nap and the other did not, etc. And if one had difficulty sleeping, then one could read without disturbing the other. Another feature of the Radiance was that each of the bed lamps had two switches, one to control the lamp and the other to control a night light built into the lamp, which could be directed in various directions. The sofa on the Maasdam was larger than the ones on the other two ships. And the storage space was larger for the vanity/desk area. The hangers on the Radiance, however, were better than the other two. The Millennium closet and storage was the largest. A fruit basket was provided daily on the Maasdam. Ice bucket and water were provided on all three ships, although the Millennium was the nicest arrangement.
One thing that bugged me was to have the bedspread on the bed with the top folded enveloping our pillows. This way of bed making is also done in some hotels. This, to me, is not the proper way to make the bed. One should pull the top sheet over the pillows to keep the pillows clean and then put the bedspread on the bed. Everyone knows that the bedspread is not washed daily or even weekly. Who knows how often the bedspread is washed and where it has been lying around or what has happened to it? When we travel, we always request that the bed spread be kept folded up in a drawer somewhere. One usually cannot sleep with it on the bed; it is too heavy.
Room Service: We did not order room service on any of the ships; thus we have nothing to report on this.
Mini-Bar: There was no mini-bar on the Maasdam, nor the Radiance, although the Radiance had a refrigerator, which may have been useful on a longer trip. The Millennium had a mini-bar and we requested that everything be removed and thereafter we used it for our own use.
Luggage Storage: The suitcases can fit under the beds of all three ships. If you have one that is too large, then leave it open and slide it under. The best thing to do is to unpack everything and then store your suitcases below the beds.
Room Safes: The Radiance and the Millennium had room safes that use a number code, four digits on the Radiance and six on the Millennium. These are easy to use and easy to check to see if the safe is locked shut. The Maasdam did not have a room safe. However, each of the bedside tables had a locking top drawer with key.
While on the Radiance, our room safe at one time would not open. We discovered that perhaps when pressing the digit it did not register. Anyway, a call to our Cabin attendant, Fannie, quickly brought a young man from maintenance. It only took him a minute to make some kind of adjustment and we then could access our safe. What a relief!
Bathrooms: We had showers in all three bath areas. The nicest bath area was on the Millennium. The Radiance had a built in cabinet with mirror. We thought that if they had installed it the reverse, then one would be able to see the back of one's hair in the mirror. But, they did not have this foresight. There was probably no woman involved in the planning. The Millennium has a nice area with curved horizontal bars on a three level shelf area to hold toiletries, etc. What we did was bring a sock holder, not a shoe holder, but a 12 pair plastic see-through sock holder with a hanger and hung it on the bathroom door. This made it very convenient to see everything and have it all in one handy place.
Ship's Newsletters: All ships have a daily newsletter. However, the Radiance of the Seas has the most attractive (yellow, blue, ivory and shading throughout). The Compass provides a very nice newsletter headlined with Day One, Day Two, etc., which lists all the daily activities and other events in topic paragraphs. Accompanying the newsletter is a down sized 4.25" x 11" 4 page Compass Planner. This single letter-size page, which has been folded in half, mirrors to a smaller degree the larger sized Compass newsletter. The Planner lists everything in chronological order and is just the right size to fit in a man's shirt pocket or woman's purse. We packed a yellow highlighter to highlight the activities of interest to us.
A disappointment was that the Millennium Daily was never delivered prior to 11 or 12 p.m. every evening. A complaint to the front desk indicated that they were having difficulty with the printer. However, it was every night, except perhaps once or twice that no delivery was made and we had to retrieve it from outside the door every morning. The Daily did have a single page pull out listing all the daily activities.
The Maasdam's Newsletter provides a perforated section that you can tear out and fold up listing all the daily activities, along with service hours, dining hours and bar and lounge hours. And this section can then be folded and carried in your shirt pocket or purse.
All ships printed other newsletters, in different languages, depicting what was happening in other cities and countries around the world. You can usually obtain these from the reception desk area.
Noise On The Ships: All three ships were quiet and restful. We only recall one event that drove us crazy. One evening while on the Millennium, when we were trying to get to sleep, we could hear a cracking or noise that seemed like it was coming from the movement of the ship. We discovered, however, and much to our delight, that it was the sliding door to the balcony. We opened and closed it again and the noise disappeared.
Service, Cleanliness, Etc.: We just heard that the Maasdam received a 98 inspection score from the Coast Guard. If you will notice the stats above, the Maasdam has 600 crew members to a capacity passenger number of 1266. She almost has a 2 to 1 ratio of passengers to crew members. Thus, this will indicate why we feel that the best service is on HAL's Maasdam. Yes, the service was the best. Why is that? Well, we believe that the crew tries harder; they know that tips are not automatic and that if they want any, they will have to earn them. Holland America advocates that tips are not mandatory, while the Millennium and the Radiance provide you with envelopes and guidelines on what to tip and who to tip. And they expect you to follow the guidelines. They also attach an automatic 15% tip to all bar bills. There is something to be said about feeling good and being able to add a tip to a bar bill depending on whether or not you received good service. And to provide all other persons with a tip at the end of a cruise, also depending on whether you received the expected service, is HAL's way.
Breakfast: We enjoyed breakfast at the "buffets". Actually the Lido (Maasdam) and the Ocean Cafe (Millennium) are really cafeteria style. What was nice on both ships is that there is someone to help you with your tray or assist in finding you a table and bring you coffee, tea, etc. On the Radiance, it was truly a buffet. You could help yourself to whatever you wanted. However, finding a place to sit was difficult and most of the time we found ourselves outside. One did not have a tray to use, but a big huge plastic platter. So, you filled up your platter, found a seat and then got your drinks, etc. We saw no grapefruit or oatmeal on the Radiance. We enjoyed both of these items on the Maasdam and the Millennium. We tried breakfast in the Maasdam's Rotterdam Dining Room on two mornings and enjoyed this too. Each time we got a table for two. One morning we opted for this on the Millennium, but did not like it as well because they seated us with several persons at a large table who were already in different phases of eating. And they only had half the dining room or a small section open. We went to the omelet bar on the Maasdam and had a very nice omelet. On the Millennium, we had an omelet, but could not eat it because the inside was not cooked. We noticed, however, that later on they had someone else making them and he was making sure that they were cooked. One other time we ordered eggs over easy and they were good. You can also get toast or toasted bagels on the Maasdam and the Millennium, but not the Radiance.
Lunch: All three ships had great lunch selections, although we would rate the Radiance last. They had less selections. One good item I had, however, was a tuna salad sandwich on a bun on the Radiance. They had tuna wraps and I provided a bun to the server and asked him to make me a tuna sandwich. And it was delicious, so much so, that I went back and got another.
Dinner: We had early seating on the Maasdam and the Millennium and we opted for late seating on the Radiance. After having done it either way, we believe the early seating is better, especially if you do not spend a long day in port. We thought we would try the late seating so as to accommodate an afternoon tea or late night buffet. However, none was to be had on the Radiance. Both the Maasdam and the Millennium had high teas in the afternoon, and late night buffets but we did not try them. We did view some of them, however, and thought they were very elegant and spectacular. Why did we not try them? The 4 p.m. high tea time was just too close to a 6 p.m. dinner time and the late night buffets were just too much - after eating three meals already in a day of anything and everything that we wanted or craved. We had to draw the line somewhere.
Oh yes, we did purchase a Royal Cocktails card on the Radiance of the Seas; cost is $39 + 15% gratuity for 12 drinks of choice, most house brands. And, we used it up. I am unaware if the Maasdam or the Millennium had such a program.
Desserts: Desserts on both the Maasdam and the Millennium were outstanding, both in the Lido Buffet (Maasdam) and the Ocean Cafe (Millennium). And the dining room desserts were top notch. Not so with the Radiance. The Windjammer selections were OK, but not many to choose from. The desserts in the dining room were only rated OK by us, not outstanding or excellent at all. There was one angel food cake dessert with strawberries served one evening. You can get better angel food cake at the supermarket.
Bread pudding on HAL and Baked Alaska, Cherries Jubilee, Chocolate Souffle, Crème Brulee on both HAL and Millennium are desserts that you should not miss.
Specialty Restaurants: We did not try any of the specialty restaurants on any of the ships. In actuality, the cost or fee imposed is not limited to the set service fee, but it also includes the amount of money already spent for the dinner that you will be missing in the dining room or in the buffet if you choose to eat there instead. Also, the specialty restaurants take a longer time to eat; and this would take time away from our dancing.
On the Radiance is a little known restaurant called the Seaside Cafe. Although this restaurant caters to the younger crowd, we enjoyed a hot dog and strawberry milkshake one evening. It was the last night of our cruise, after we were all packed, that we decided to go up to Deck 12 and find the place. We had some feedback on it through the Cruise Critic Boards. Up we went and ordered two hot dogs, one for each of us and a strawberry milkshake to be split between the two of us.. Our order came with the grilled hot dog in a toasted bun, smothered with onions, and with French fries, too. It was delicious. The milkshake was the only item we had to pay for. It was $3.25 and we had to get it from the bar area.
The hamburgers and hotdogs on the Millennium and the Maasdam were also great. The hot dogs on all these ships are much better than the ones that you get at a sports game or even at Costco. Costco used to toast their buns - some years ago, but no more.
Ice Cream: All three ships served ice cream. The best, however, was on the Maasdam. There was a soft serve selection, plus sorbets and other items that you could request of the server. Then you could help yourself to various toppings, including fresh strawberries and whipped cream. The Millennium had a similar setup, but with only a few toppings and the server added those items as requested. We had vanilla ice cream with toasted coconut and milk chocolate sauce. Very good. And the Radiance had soft serve machines that you could fill chocolate or vanilla ice cream cones or bowls with. But, they only had a bowl of chocolate syrup available. However, you could get whip cream from a huge bowl on the dessert table. The Radiance had very good cookies. We had an oatmeal raisin cookie and we dipped it in whip cream prior to every bite. It was delicious. Another item I enjoyed was the 2 x 3 inch apple rolled tart. These were available daily on the Radiance near the sweet rolls in the Windjammer Cafe.
On the other side of the Millennium's ice cream section, was a similar section, serving non sugar selections.
Theater: The Maasdam had the best on stage performances. The production numbers were outstanding. Next was the Millennium and then the Radiance. We made the decision not to see the last day's show on the Radiance because we did not think that the other two days were that good. The Millennium had the best theater, with wonderful plush seating with little tables for cocktails. The Maasdam was next with similar seating and then the Radiance was last. The Radiance has cup or glass holders to hold your drinks on the right arm of each seat. Sightlines on all three ships were good. We never had a bad seat watching any of the shows.
The Maasdam was also the only ship that provided an artistic covered program for each of their production numbers. It was nice to follow along and know what was going to be next, etc., and also have the names of the people performing.
Dancing: First, let me say that you cannot dance on a ship's deck, at least not ballroom dancing. Our style of dance requires a nice dance floor, and one needs to wear a shoe that will slide. Sport shoes, running shoes and tennis shoes, etc. cannot be worn for this type of dancing. Thus, any kind of shoe with a smooth bottom, usually a leather soled shoe is the best kind outside of a shoe made specifically for dancing.
The best dance floor on all three ships was at the Colony Club on the Radiance of the Seas. It has a nice large, rectangular shaped, smooth wood floor. However, we only got to dance on the floor during the Captain's Reception. We were the first to take the step and get out on the dance floor even though the band had been playing for at least 10 minutes. On Day One, they scheduled a Quest activity. And the late night 11:00 to 12:30 am Rock n' Roll party was devoted to twist. Nothing was scheduled on Day Two other than the Captain's Reception from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m. And on Day Three, they scheduled Karaoke in the Colony Club.
We would have loved a variety of music, i.e., music for the Rhumba, Cha Cha, Tango, Salsa, Swing, Jive, Hustle, Fox Trot, Waltz, California Polka, etc.
The second best dance floor is in the Ocean's Bar on HAL's Maasdam. We enjoyed dancing every evening both before dinner and after (prior to going to the evening show) and then again after the show. The Nevada Quartet were a great group and played requests, such as New York, New York and Pretty Woman. Such requests were made of the Radiance group and were turned down with them saying that they did not know the songs. We got the whole spectrum of the dances we liked with the Nevada Quartet.
And next is the the Rendevous Lounge on the Millennium. We enjoyed dancing to Howard & Rose's music. However, we felt sorry for them after awhile because they lost power to their instruments several times during the evening and on several evenings.
The Millennium's Cosmos Nightclub, Deck 11, has a beautiful dance floor, but it is not conducive to ball room dancing as one's shoe can get hung up on the ridges throughout the floor. However, we did enjoy dancing and partaking of the lessons provided by the staff. The Cruise Director, Jim Cannon, scheduled dancing one evening there with the Celebrity Orchestra and this was great. They took requests and did a good job. There should have been more activities with the Orchestra.
Oh yes, I should mention the Vibz group on the Millie that usually played on the deck by the pool. They were there during the sail aways, Tex Mex Night (line dancing) and another swing night. One night they were in the Cosmos Lounge and they were very good. And they took requests and played Pretty Woman several times during the cruise.
Cruise directors need to realize that many persons who do not dance enjoy drinking, big band music and watching those who do dance. Therefore, they not only need a big dance floor, but a large lounge or area for those who prefer to drink and watch. And those who dance also drink too. So, they are not losing the audience nor the big bucks spent on drinks when they provide dance activities.
Pools & Whirlpools: The best ship was HAL's Maasdam. The hot tubs were hot. I did not like the T pool on the Millennium. There was no place to sit. One had to slide one's body over the metal railings and lie on them. And they were always sticky, probably from everyone's sun tan lotion. The hot tubs on the Millie were OK; however, they were not hot. The temperature was pretty mild. We enjoyed getting the kinks out in the hot tub on the Maasdam. The hot temperature really did make our bodies feel better. In all fairness, we did not try the Radiance pools. We did not have good weather on our three-day trip and thus did not feel like taking a dip.
Photography & Videos: The best photography department and photographers were on the Radiance. Each one of the pictures was very good and we ended up purchasing all of the photos. We only got one on the Millennium because we did not like the others. On the Maasdam, these too, were very good and we ended buying all of them.
A cruise lasting at least seven days will usually create a video of the trip at a cost of approximately $20.
Fire Drills: All three ships conducted the mandatory fire drill. The Maasdam and the Millennium passed with flying colors, getting everyone to their muster stations, which were located on deck where they would be boarding the lifeboats. The Radiance, in my opinion, did not pass the test because all they did was get everyone to the muster station. We did not go outside to the deck, but simply stayed in the lounge area that was assigned to us. They did, however, call on the loudspeaker, all the persons who were missing. It is very important that you take part in the fire drills and not be the one to keep everyone waiting. On one ship, people were standing in the hot sun and they had to wait for others to arrive. And everyone should know that they should not be carrying anything with them for the fire drill. In the case of a real fire drill, you would not bring anything with you. Anything other than your body and life vest would take up more room and make the life boat weigh more. Thus, what you need to do, is pack your ID, Ship's Card and money, in a small wallet that will fit in your pocket.
Medical Facility: The Millennium had the best medical facility (see embarkation above), but of course, we did not have to use the ones on the other two ships, so we really have no comment on them.
We did, however, see three or four children during our cruises who were injured in some way, usually from having a door slammed on a hand. We felt sorry for these children as they had to spend the rest of the cruise with some degree of pain. If anyone needs to see the doctor, they should call first and make an appointment as the doctor will not see any one without an appointment. Of course, if it is an emergency, go directly to the facility and have someone else call and say that you are on your way. Do not sit and wait outside a closed door. Phone the number on the door as they keep the door locked and they do not know that you are waiting outside.
Non Sea Days: As mentioned above, we are not enthusiastic about non sea days or visiting the ports. There seems to be a lockdown on non sea days. Everything was closed. We wanted to use the golfing features of the Millennium, but could never find anyone there. And messages left with the pro were always returned, but we could never connect to make an appointment or just to take advantage of what they had to offer. And, of course, you cannot shop on the ships while the ships are in port. So, when can one shop? They seem to be open only from 6 to midnight. And one cannot go at 6 because of dinner. And the show follows dinner and then thereafter, if one wants to go dancing, there is no time to shop. They should have the shops open all night.
Sea Days: We love sea days because you can go out on your balcony and lounge around while the ship is moving. We had a very nice balcony on the Millennium with two lounge chairs.
Ports: We did get off the ship in St. Thomas. It was only on the island that we found out that there was a holiday that weekend and that certain streets were closed. We took a van (carries 12) into town. The driver could not get close enough due to traffic jams, so we all got out and walked about 6 blocks. We looked around a bit and then decided to return to the ship. We should have started walking right where we were. But instead we hailed another van (almost full) and he tried to get down to the water area and make a left turn back to the ships, but was turned around by traffic personnel. He then thought he would try to outsmart everyone and went in a round about way to get back down and ended up in a huge traffic jam, so huge, that he requested everyone to get out and walk back to the ship. We ended up walking 3.5 miles that day. We suggest that you take an umbrella with you. Try to find one with a fringe or ruffle, more like a parasol. I had one and was very glad that I did.
On the way back, we discovered that there were three cruise ships in port. And, of course, this added to the cause of the traffic jams throughout the city.
When we visited St. Maarten, the Adventure of the Seas was docked along side the Celebrity's Millennium. The Millie really looked small next to the AOS.
In St. Maarten, there is a water boat that takes you over to the shopping area. They wanted us to get off at the first stop and walk over to the other shopping area. That way, we would visit some of the shops along the way. However, after walking 3.5 miles the previous day, we were in no mood to do a lot of walking again. So, we insisted that we wanted to go over directly and they took us there.
It was Sunday when we visited Nassau; thus, we did nothing much but had a milkshake at the Haagen Dazs and perused a few shops that were open.
All ships provided shopping and port information, including maps and coupons.
People We Met: One of the fun reasons for cruising is meeting all the wonderful people. We had Table 503 on the Millennium, very nice table for 8, at the back of the ship on Deck 5. We enjoyed meeting and talking with you Bob, Joyce, Frank, Adele, Peter, etc. On the Radiance, we had table 418, again a very nice table, for 10 this time and it was not filled. We enjoyed talking with Arnelle, Susan, David, Shirley, Charmaine, Beth and others . We also met an upcoming author, Elaine Zale. Her first novel, Wing's of Love, was at the publisher's; and after she described it to me, I knew that I wanted to read it.
Sun, Rain, Wind: You should be aware that you may get sunburned, even while not in any direct sun. Be careful as you may receive indirect sunshine through reflections off the water, glass or in other ways. Prior to the cruise, get a good hair cut, one that will not be bothered with the wind because it will be windy while on the ship. Pack an umbrella for use when it rains and when the sun is shining. You will be glad you did as the sun gets very hot when walking around the various islands. And, if you are in the Pacific Northwest or even going to Alaska, you may need it for rainy weather.
Improvements That Could Be Made: (1) One thing that really bugged us was the lack of toilet seat covers in all public restrooms on the RCL ship. We were used to having use of them on the Millennium and the Maasdam.
(2) Why have a beautiful dance floor like the one on the Radiance and not use it? One evening it was devoted to Karaoke. Activities like this, along with Bingo, could function very well in the theater.
(3) The ship's director should make sure that the events take place as scheduled; i.e., line dancing was scheduled for 2:30 p.m. and Trivia was scheduled for 3:00 p.m. in the same area. The person conducting the Trivia arrived 10 minutes early and had to take on a quick line dance class to pacify the persons who arrived and had been waiting for the last 20 minutes. The line dance teacher never did show up. This happened on the Radiance (5/25/02).
Disembarkation: The last morning on any ship and subsequent travel to the airport always takes time. Leaving the Maasdam took the longest and the line at the airport was the worst. Imagine more than 2000 people (from several ships) arriving at the airport back in March of 2001. Waiting around the ship took hours going through customs and then disembarking. The Millennium was better because we had Captain's Club privileges and got off the ship fairly fast. It was waiting outside trying to hail a taxi cab. There were no orderly lines and everyone was trying to grab, grab, grab. And of course, it takes all day to fly home.
The Radiance was OK. However, we had to fill out disembarkation information indicating that we did not have an airplane to catch. Consequently, we had to wait until nearly 10:00 to get off the ship, until they called our Lavendar color. One does not mind waiting if one has an idea of how long, but of course, no one could tell us this. And the waiting had to be in the public areas, no waiting in the cabins, which had to be vacated by 8:00 a.m. So, we sat around for 2 hours. Once off the ship, however, it went fairly fast.
We did call the evening before with the question of how we were going to get our luggage to the car parked in the parking garage. The person at the reception said that all you have to do it get a porter and he will take you with your luggage to your car. The porter that we got informed us that he could not cross the street, but he did say that he would take us to the elevator that will get us to the sky bridge. So, once we got on the elevator, we had to maneuver our luggage across the sky bridge and to our car, which fortunately was on the same level, Level 4.