Radiance of the Seas Cruise Review by mrell345: Radiance of Seas 18 to 25 May 2012
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Radiance of Seas 18 to 25 May 2012
Overall the cruise was good,
The Radiance of the seas is a beautiful ship and the fact that we could get up to the bow all during the cruise was a bonus. We found the staff to be very friendly and helpful throughout the cruise.
I had originally booked an ocean view on deck 3, but 3 weeks before the cruise I was able to upgrade us to one of the family ocean views on deck 7 (room 7504) as it had not yet been reserved. The family ocean view is around 328 square feet as opposed to the 161 square feet of the standard ocean view. You also have tons of drawers and closet space for just two people. The second bedroom with the single bed was not used by us other than to store our luggage while not in use. The cabin is all the way forward on the starboard side with two large windows looking out over the front of the ship, it was quite a nice view. There was next to no noise in this room, other than the one day we stopped in Icy Strait point, they dropped the anchor at More around 06:30 in the morning and you really heard it go, a minor point as we were up at this point and it doesn't happen all the time. The first two days were rough seas, though it didn't bother us much, being as we were near the bow we did hear the occasional large wave striking the bow, but it was not really that loud. If you are susceptible to sea sickness though you might consider something closer amidships as it will reduce the motion for you.
The fitness center is very good, clean large and lots of treadmills stationary bikes and rowing machines. There are lots of classes every day for those that want to work out. There were Yoga, spinning and stretching classes as well as a workout program that could be signed up for that had multiple classes every day with an instructor. The running track outside is good with about 7 laps per mile, there are two water fountains up forward near the running track if you don't carry your own water bottle.
The first day we received an invitation from one of the Canadian members of the crew to a lunch at Geovanis restaurant, she was inviting a number of Canadians to discuss how we felt the services were for Canadians in general. We made a few comments at this time but really we had only just gotten on the ship and had not really had the chance to try most things yet.
Geovanis Restaurant (lunch): Excellent food (and lots of it), great service and the deserts looked very good (we did not eat the dessert as we were going to the Chef's table that night.
Chef's Table: All I can say is Wow! The food was superb with a wine paring for every course (5). The chef came out before every course and explained the dish, how it was made, the ingredients and the inspiration, then the sommelier would come out and explain the wine pairing. We were only 6 that night though the chef's table normally does not sit with less than 10 and can handle up to 14. Our cruise only had 3 nights where the chef's table was held. The chef's table costs $95.00 per person and at the end of the meal you get two aprons and a Royal Caribbean cook book per couple. They send a nice invitation to your stateroom the night before inviting you to the dinner, it explains where to go to meet up prior to your meal. The Maitre-D comes out and sits you down outside the chef's table dining area and you are served with a glass of champagne prior to going in and sitting down for the meal.
Main dining room (Cascades deck 4): The service was quite good and our waiter was very friendly and helpful, she had no problems getting another plate of food if we wanted seconds on something. Unfortunately the food was quite ordinary and the deserts were uninspired. I can not think of any of the meals were I was able to say wow at the end of the meal. We have previously sailed with Princess and every meal in the main dining rooms there felt like a five star restaurant, sadly I cannot say the same for the dining room here, at most I would give the food a 3.0 out of 5. I do not feel that the pastry/dessert chef was very inspired as the desserts did not have that extra touch that made them pop and really stand out. We only had 6 people at our table at the first service at 6 PM (the table was capable of 10 people). The my time diners were for the most part up on deck 5 of the main dining room. We had a large window next to our table with good views. One night we had a loud buzzing noise coming from somewhere near the window and it took them about 20 minutes to find out what it was and stop it, however the dining room staff (including the head waiter and Maitre-D) was evidently doing everything to try and find out what it was, the wait was for the maintenance staff. Our Head waiter was very friendly and we had quite a few lively conversations with him between courses so for our dining room staff I can give a 4.5 out of 5.
Windjammer restaurant: Lots of choice including lots of fresh fruit and vegetables and there was never a lack of anything. Again quality of the food 3.0 out of 5, but this is the buffet restaurant and I do not hold it to as high a standard as the main dining room, for some reason we always had coffee grounds in our cups of coffee, keep an eye out when you get near the bottom of your cup. The coffee was not the greatest, usually pretty bitter.
Cafe Latte-tudes: Good Starbucks coffee with a dessert counter. The cookies they served were rock hard and you could have used them to break the windows (everyone was complaining about this that I heard try them), the brownie bars were ok but the other desserts were uninspired and the lemon poppy seed cake that they serve in all starbucks wasn't nearly as good as what they serve up here at the starbucks in Canada. There is a nice seating area overlooking the centrum and you could listen to the music from below where the entertainers come to play.
3.5 out of 5. Maybe I was spoiled by the coffee shop on the princess cruise ships but there they had a pastry chef out doing him(or her)self on the desserts being served.
Park Cafe: Up on deck 11, a nice little food corner in the solarium. Food was generally good and they had coffee pots out at all hours. The only problem was the coffee pot got put out at about 11PM-midnight and would not be changed till around 5:30-6 AM. If you got up early and tried to have a coffee it was lukewarm leftovers (yeuch). I did complain about this to our waiter and the second to last morning there was a fresh and hot pot of coffee on at 4:30 when I went up ( we are from the eastern time zone, 4 hours ahead of Alaska time, and I kept getting up early hoping to get pictures of whales, dolphins and other wildlife). Again as with everywhere else the deserts were ordinary and the cookies were hard as rock.
Quill and compass pub: The decor was very good, a nice little pub, near the casino that is well designed. Ok, this is supposed to be a pub, but only two beers on tap ? There was lots of choice in bottles but come on, I expect a pub to have lots on tap with at least one or two British ales or stouts. Apparently the sports bar it replaced in the refit had 3 tap stations with 3 beers/ales each. There is apparently not enough room to put casks under the bar. I give them a B+ for effort but a C- for execution of the concept.
The cruise critic meet and greet: The cruise director did a very good job here, everyone that signed up had invitations sent to their room and there was a prize for showing up and a raffle for prizes. We won a nice bottle of chardonnay that we had with supper. We took the warm one with us to the main dining room and they exchanged it for a cold one from the wine cooler. It was nice talking with other people from the boards.
Transfer from Anchorage to Seward by train: We were originally to check in our bags at the downtown Marriott hotel and from there we would be transferred to the airport to get on the train. As I had a rental car from the airport I checked with the Royal Caribbean rep at the Marriott 2 nights prior to see if we could just drop our bags at the airport and get directly on the train there. She said no problems and took our names. We turned in our rental car at the airport Friday morning and went directly to the Royal Caribbean kiosk they had set up there in the baggage claim area. We dropped our bags there, filled out some paperwork and went to the train terminal to await the train departure, no problems. Our bags went separately and they showed up at our room just after supper. The train trip was magnificent, we had glass topped cars that gave spectacular views, for those of us taking pictures, the upper half of all the doors between the train cars were open so we could get good views for pictures without the glass in the way. The trip from the portage area up through the mountain pass to Seward was spectacular, all I can say is if you are deciding between the bus and the train, take the train. It costs a bit more but it is well worth it, you also have very comfortable seats with a bar and hot food service (costs extra). The check in process was quick and uneventful, it took about 25 minutes from the time we walked into the terminal to the time we boarded the ship.
Shore excursions: The shore excursions were excellent, when we got off the ship there was always someone waiting with a sign and directing us to where we had to go to start the excursions. The tour guides were knowledgeable and friendly in all cases and the transport was comfortable and rapid.
We did the Photo safari by land and by sea in Juneau, excellent guide, great transport and great chances to photograph wildlife and scenery. Lots of Humpback whales, eagles and seals. On the land portion we got a great view of the mendenhall glacier.
White pass train in Skagway: Great scenery, the only hiccup we had was when one of the locomotives had a problem, fortunately we were about 5 km from the maintenance yards so they just backed up, took off the engine set and replaced it quickly. Great ride and I recommend it to anyone who loves trains and great scenery.
In Icy strait point we did a whale watching tour, lots of whales and seals with a few eagles. We got to watch one young eagle that kept diving at the water to grab something but kept coming up claws empty.
In Ketchikan we went on the Wilderness tour and crab feast. Nice bus ride out to the lodge where we boarded a boat to go and see how they pull up crab pots. Nice boat ride with lots of scenery. The crab feast was great (dungeness crab), great food, great service and a lot of fun. I even managed not to make too much of a mess of myself when eating the crab, not always easy to do :) .
Laundry: The only way to do laundry on the ship is to send your clothes to the laundry department (with the usual high cost) via the bags provided in the room. No coin op laundry machines as they have on other cruise lines. I prefer having the capability to go and do some laundry myself if needed. On a 7 day cruise it is not much of an issue, but for a longer cruise it would be a problem as you don't want to have tons of clothes with you during the voyage (not to mention most airlines charger per checked bag now). We work out a lot and if you have a sea day for your last day you can always get some done so as not to have to do a ton of laundry when you get home.
Theatre: The first show we went to was done by the comedian Marty Allen, at 90 years old he still puts on a great show, as he stated in his own words, its not often someone can keep everyone laughing without resorting to vulgar language and toilet humor but he does it. We loved his show. Unfortunately his was the only show we were able to sit all the way through, the other shows were ok but we just weren't able to sit through more that about 20 minutes to a half an hour. Less
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Cabin review: FO7504
The family ocean view is around 328 square feet as opposed to the 161 square feet of the standard ocean view. It has a second bedroom with a single bed and an upper bunk bed that can be brought down from the ceiling. The cabin is all the way forward on the starboard side with two large windows looking out over the front of the ship, it was quite a nice view. There was next to no noise in this room, other than the one day we stopped in Icy Strait point, they dropped the anchor at around 06:30 in the morning and you really heard it go, a minor point as we were up at this point and it doesn't happen all the time. The first two days were rough seas, though it didn't bother us much, being as we were near the bow we did hear the occasional large wave striking the bow, but it was not really that loud. If you are susceptible to sea sickness though you might consider something closer amidships as it will reduce the motion for you. I had originally booked a standard ocean view on deck 3, but at 4 weeks prior to the cruise this room opened up and I was able to upgrade to it for a modest fee. Normally this room can only be booked by groups of 5 or larger.