We have taken other cruises on Princess Cruises. We thought we would try R.C.I Radiance of the seas, as the price was actually fantastic. A lot of people have given her so many great reviews so we thought we would try it out.
On first appearance from land she looks like a fantastic ship and she is. Upon embarkation the initial feel and layout of the ship awesome Loads of wow factor. Open wide outside spaces and a great glass atrium inside the main area. The glass lifts were great and something quite different to other liners. Inside hallways etc is a different story, dull, and in need of work.
She handled the rough seas very well.
Our Cabin was a window only, on the 7th floor. The room was spacious, with a pull out sofa/bed to make it a triple.The cabin was very well appointed, however we were disappointed that the bed was right under the window which meant the only way we could see out was to stand beside the bed and hold back the curtains. We could have paid less and got an interior cabin.
On the first night we headed to the dining room. We booked a table for 6 and ended up on a table for 8! no surprises really. Unfortunately we had no friendly chatters at our table, and the service was slow, so we didn't venture in there again. We also found the menu a bit limited for our likes.
Radiance only has a 3 course meal whereas princess offer a 5 course every night. Salad,soup, entree,main,dessert.
And the push was on for us to buy drinks!
The buffet was the other place to eat, which we found very satisfactory on Princess ships. The layout on Radiance is very impressive, but not particularly functional. The offerings were not at all what I was expecting. Food was very American and fresh veg was not a big part of the menu. Burgers, fries, curries, roast meat and salads. Asian food, pretend mash. Some nights I found it hard to choose, but most every one else was really happy with the selections. The soups were great if not somewhat luke warm some nights. Desserts! Same old same old, mousse, mousse and more mousse, fresh fruit salad, and jelly and also cake slices. I actually asked the chef for good old Aussie Pav ( most were Aussie on board)and at least he tried. What we got was a very hard Meringue, almost inedible, sickly sweet.
The buffet hours were limited, I guess we were expecting it to be like our other cruises 24 hours a day. Dinner was only 6.30pm-9pm. We got caught out once and went to the fabulous Park Cafe open when the Windjammer was not with a limited menu. The food in here was pretty good, but not a meal as such, Pizzas, pies, sandwiches, cakes etc. They have meals and snacks there most of the day.
Our Cabin Steward was good at his job, but Communication was a bit of a problem, he could never pronounce our names, and they are common short names.
Captain Bill was wonderful, loads of info, and always seen out and about. Most shore days he was seeing guests off at the ports, and very friendly and charming man.
We visited a few shows and actually found them to be of a very high standard, the best, always with the cruise director in control, telling us about next days happenings. A huge disappointment, the activities were so limited, many times during every ship day there was nothing to do, Princess was different they had the opposite, having to make a choice between what we wanted to do.
Trying to get a seat that didn't have a towel minding it for someone coming later was the worst part. We never once got a seat in the Solarium, the same people hogged the same seats day after day. Bingo was overpriced to hell, I could only afford to go twice, which was a pity as the girl that ran it(KIM) was the highlight of the ship. Movies were repeated i'm not 100% sure but they may have only had 5-6 for the 18 days.
Windjammer staff were quite clumsy, (huge amounts of dropped plates etc)sullen and laid back.The one who left the others for dead was JEFFREY> He was the only waiter to offer to get us a non-alcoholic drink, that was free. When we refused the offer of wine beer etc, the others just wandered off. In the centrum, one waiter was busy texting on his phone trying to hide it behind the bar while we waited for service.
On our final night at sea, we went to Anytime dining with friends we had met, and that was quite an experience. Robert was the waiter and he was by far the best waiter I have had been served by ever. He is bright funny helpful and a real people person. I hope if goes far.
BBQ lunch on deck was delicious, very well cooked and presented. Loved these.
Tipping is a bit of an issue for Australians, so no way was I going to pay the tips that the cruise line expected us to pay. Apart from the ones I have mentioned, I couldn't b ring myself to tip others as they didn't deserve it in my eyes.
The information we received about going ashore, was very limited, often we got of and wandered blindly about. That is of course, unless you booked one of the seriously overcharged tours. Most were really exorbitant. Even the shuttle buses, $5 each person each way into town, a walk that took us about 10 Min's.
I think the worst thing the Radiance did, they have 5 eating places that aren't free. and they kept trying to sell you these "bargain priced" (certainly not my word) meal cards so you would use these places. This went on every time we went into the Windjammer every day till 3 days before we arrived back in Australia. They pushed fresh OJ @ $4 a glass for breakfast, they walked around trying to sell you drinks all the time. I'm sorry I didn't see that as good customer service I rather saw that as a major grab for the customers cash.I like being on the ship and thought it would get us away from High Pressure Selling.
The itinerary was fantastic, Freemantle, Albany, Esperance, Adelaide, Melbourne, Hobart, the beautiful Milford Sound, Dunedin, Akaroa, and Wellington. Albany and Esperance had such friendly people and the ship berths right in town. Adelaide was a way out but the cruise trminal was the best. Melbourne, and Hobart were also close to town and great. Cruising Milford Dusky and Doubtful was just beautiful, even if we had to be on the Helepad at 6am. Dunsdin I loved, Akaroa was a pretty place, a Tender port and a 2 hour bus trip to Christchurch. Our bus driver wasn't all that competent, but we returned in one piece. Wellington was good, the Musem there is not to be missed. also with in walking distance to town,if you are fit.
In all fairness it probably didn't help we had cold windy breezes all the time. We go cruising for the sun and sea, but there was little opportunity to sit on the deck. Definitely isn't RCL fault
I love cruising, and unless there was a really good reason why I would cruise on this ship again, I couldn't recommend it. I met many other fellow passengers who usually travel Princess and with out exception they all preferred princess.