We were a family of 4 (kids 13 and 15). The reason we chose Radiance was due to the teenage kids club and the number of dining options (my husband is a chef and food quality is important to us). We pre-booked the Chef's Table Dining Package which cost us $114 each (adults only) This gave us 5 extra dining options.
Boarding was easy, we were supposed to check in at 2.30pm, however when we dropped our bags at 1pm I just asked if it was possible for us to board and they said 'no problem' so that was a good start. When we boarded we went straight to our room which was located just meters from the Guest Relations desk, at first we were concerned as we had booked a quad and it was set up as a double, however this was changed at turn down. We spent the first night as the double bed with the 2 single beds dropping down from the ceiling on either side of the cabin (directly above the double bed), but this didn't work as the only way out of the double was to crawl down the middle of the bed. The next day we asked our attendant to change it to 4 singles and this was much better as it also gave more room. The cabin was better than we had anticipated.
The first 2 days were wet and rough so we all spent them being seasick, my husband and I just felt queasy all the time but our daughter was sick all day and our son a couple of times. We took all the medication possible, the complimentary tablets from the desk seemed the most effective. Reaching Noumea was a relief.
Noumea is a small busy city and we chose a 3 hour private tour which was fine (air conditioned van was a relief from the heat) we then walked around the shops for a little while and headed back to the ship for the rest of the day.
Lifou and Isles of Pines were lovely, disembarking was smooth. We did however go back to the ship at lunchtime on both occasions.
We found the Windjammer Buffet Restaurant a pleasant surprise, a lovely variety of dishes for every meal. The Park Cafe in the Solarium was great, light lunches, healthy salads and some impressive sweets. The drinks available were great, as a non-drinker I only purchased a soft drink once in 8 days and a "real" coffee on a couple of occasions. We dined in the Cascades dining room on the second night, firstly we were disappointed that we had booked a table of 4 and were sat on a table of 10. The food is Cascades was so disappointing, definitely not of a high standard, steak requested MR came out MW, desserts bland and presentation ordinary, so glad we had purchased the package for extra dining.
Izumi was at the back of the Windjammer with lovely views and fabulous service, food was OK, nice and fresh.
Chopps Grille was a great dining experience, good service, lovely presentation and flavour, yummy dessert, a nice quiet escape from the 2500 other passengers.
Samba Grill was on level 12 right at the back of the ship, again lovely views and a really unique dining experience. Entree was a cold buffet of salads, prawns, antipasto. Then the main was 9 courses of meat, you control the flow by using a light box on your table to inform the waiters if you were ready for the next round. The meat flavours were sensational and the quantity of food was huge. They even asked at the end if you would like a repeat of any of the meats!!
Giovannis is not as casual as it likes to think, which is not a bad thing. The concept of sharing the entrees is great and we really enjoyed the whole experience, our waiter was fantastic. The desserts though were from a dessert trolley and not that great as the cannolis were stale and the chocolate cake dry.
Chef's Table is the exclusive 5 course degustation dinner for 12-16 guests. The service was impeccable, the company just lovely and the food.......ok, definitely a high standard but some dishes could have been better, but we still really enjoyed the whole experience. The wine with each course was generous and the meal was finished with coffee/tea and a large selection of Petit Fours. We then got a complimentary Apron and Signed Cook Book, so well worth the price.
The teenage kids had an absolute ball, we felt they were safe at all times, we checked in on them 1-2 times a day just in case they wanted to talk to us. After breakfast with us we met up again at dinner time at which point they decided whether to eat with us or not!!! They came with us to Samba and Giovannis which they both loved and we just paid the extra fee for them.
The things that we were disappointed with were the entertainment, (we thought the Theatre productions were awful and walked out on 2 of them), the live music was good but were on for 1-2 hour stints only. The movies on the pool deck were dreadful, didn't watch one. Bingo was just too busy, we attempted it twice but gave up as it took too long. The one thing we were looking forward to were the self levelling pool tables, but only got to play once as they were constantly taken over by kids (not very pleasant 10-12 yr olds), there were signs around saying tables were for over 18 only but eventhough there were staff around no-one monitored this. The spas around the pool were also always full of the same aged kids.
Overall I would highly recommend Radiance of The Seas, cruising was just not for us, glad we tried it though and we do have some lovely family memories.