Royal Caribbean's Radiance of the Seas. 4th February -- 15th February 2013.
This was our 2nd cruise. The first was with P&O Australia on the Pacific Jewel in a suite. It was interesting to compare the two.
The cruise was an 11 night cruise from Sydney Australia to the South Pacific Islands. There were 6 ports in total. 1. Isle of Pines, 2 Mystery Island, 3 Champagne Bay, 4 Port Vila, 5 Lifou, 6 Noumea.
On the Radiance of the Seas we decided to save some money and opt for an outside cabin on deck 3. Room 3064 which is in the middle of the ship. I would recommend deck 3 over deck 4. On deck 3 you have cabins above you, while on deck 4 you have the public areas where people can be heard walking above you. Several people said this about deck 11 suites too.
Day 1: Embarkation. As we were on deck 3 we were told to board at 3:30pm. We arrived at Circular Quay about 11:00am and first saw the sheer size of Radiance of the Seas. It was a great photo opportunity as it was tied up between the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House. We were able to drop our bags off and went and had some lunch. We returned at 2:00pm and were able to board as there was no queue. Clearing Customs and getting the cruise cards was easy and only took about 15 minutes from the time we started until we were in the room.
Our Cabin Steward was Leroy. He was efficient and always friendly. We cashed up our cruise cards and went up on deck to watch the picturesque sail away through Sydney Heads. We then unpacked and had dinner in the Cascades Dining Room. We ate at Cascades most nights and at 4 of the specialty restaurants. We had lunch a couple of times at the Wind Jammers Buffet.
The show mentioned was the 'Welcome Aboard Show'. I was thinking it would be some information about the ship and cruise, however it featured Greg Hayes. Hayes is an Australian joke teller/singer. He was okay. I spoke to him a couple of times over the cruise and he is a nice guy, but I wouldn't race back to see his show.
Day 2: At Sea. Formal Night. The day was spent relaxing poolside and then had a go of bingo. We attended the Captains Welcome Aboard talk in the Colony Bar. It was good to meet him and the head staff. We then went to the show which was 'Two Funny Guys' Mario and Daniel. They were from Las Vegas and good at what they do.
It was a shame that there were a percentage of people that didn't dress up for formal night (I mean t-shirt, shorts, and sandals) I feel it ruins the mood of the night. I think a button up shirt and pants/jeans would be okay.
We had lunch at a poolside, where the BBQ ribs were great.
Day 3. At Sea. Again, the day was spent poolside. The show was a Formal Pianist, Jon DARSK. He was good, but not our cup of tea. We had an early night as we were going to an Island the next day.
Day 4. Isle of Pines, New Caledonia. We were on tender boats to get to Isle of Pines. It ran smoothly. Isle of Pines is a great Island. The sand is amazingly fine and white. The water was warm and the snorkelling was okay. I have noticed the coral has died or been broken off from 3 years ago. It was paradise on the Island.
The show was Morgan Kent, a Rod Stewart impressionist. He was awful, we felt sorry for Rod Stewart. We stayed for 10 minutes before deciding to leave and it was like the crowed was waiting for someone to leave first. When we stood up and went I would say about 20 other people did too. I heard that half the crowed left by the end of the show. The funniest part of the night was that a man doing karaoke after we walked out of the show was singing Rod Stewart, and doing a better job.
Day 5: Mystery Island, Vanuatu. Tenders were used again. Mystery Island is small and can be walked around in 10 minutes. It was hot, and had good snorkelling. The locals have come and to sing and dance.
We went back to the ship around 3:00pm and there was another pool side BBQ, so more ribs. The show was a variety show with Greg Hayes, Two Funny Guys, and Jon Darsk.
Day 6: Champagne Bay, Vanuatu. Tenders were used, but again were quick. It was a great place to watch the ship sail into. We went to the Blue Lagoon and had a swim. It was a fresh water Lagoon that is a short bus trip away from the Champagne Bay. It water was crystal clear and nice to swim in.
Snorkelling was average on the island; however the treat was having fresh cooked lobster. They store live in crates in the water. You pick out your lobster and they cook it in a pot right in front of you. It was great. The island lifestyle was laid back.
There was a 70's party in the Centrum which grew a good crowd. The show for the night was Tango Buenos Aires. It was a production from the Royal Caribbean singers and dancers. It was there maiden show. They are all talented.
Day 7: Port Vila, Vanuatu. We were docked in the port. There were many markets set up where you leave the ship. They sell island clothing and souvenirs. The mini-bus and taxi drivers are very pushy when you first get off the ship and some won't leave you alone. We decided to get a taxi into town to do some shopping and agreed to $5 for the trip. He took us in the other direction and said "I'll take you to the Cascade Waterfalls for only $60". We had to make it clear to him that we wanted to town. He had to turn around and take us to town and then tried to ask for $10. We did our shopping (good duty free at the end of town) and then took it back to the ship. We then went to the Cascade Waterfalls which are great. The mini-bus cost $40 return and the Waterfalls charge $25 per person to get in. Total coast $90. It's easy to organise by yourself. Royal Caribbean charge $138 for the same thing.
The show was a Mentalist/Mind Reader named Anthony Laye. He was very good and entertaining.
Day 8: Lifou, Loyalty Islands. Another quick tender. We walked from the beach to the road. We turned right and walked for about 5 minutes and went to the cave. At the bottom of the cave is a swimming hole. The water is fresh and refreshing. It was fun to jump into the water, and it was about ten meters deep and crystal clear. We then walked back past the beach and went to the church on the headland. It's a great view. From there we went to the beach at the back of the church. It had the best snorkelling of the whole cruise with colourful coral and large tropical fish.
That night was a Love and Marriage Game Show. It had some good contestants and got a laugh. Then it was a Poolside Party on the Pool deck. It was packed with everyone dancing and having a great time. Unfortunately midnight came around and it suddenly stopped. It would be good if they kept it going since everyone from 7 to seventy was having a good time.
Day 9: Noumea, New Caledonia. We were docked in an industrial port and had a bus ride into the town centre. We could have a bus tour of town and two look outs. It took just over an hour and only cost $10 each. It also included free travel on a hop on/hop off bus for the rest of the day. Royal Caribbean charge $32 each for the same thing. Royal Caribbean also charge $55 each for the Tchou Tchou train tour. If you organise it yourself it is $20 each. I recommend you organise tours yourself.
We had to change over some currency to buy some things, but it can be done at ATM's around town. We had some French Pastries at a Patisserie, had some time at Anse Vata Beach. We finished off by looking around town. The locals speak French and some English. Noumea is a great place to visit as it is culturally different to the other islands.
The show for the night was Mark Anthony, Hypnotist. He was very entertaining and knew how to work the crowd.
Day 10: Formal night. At sea. The day was a good day to catch up on some rest. We lazed by the pool during the day. The show was a comedian, Simon PALOMARES. He got a good laugh from the crowed. This was followed by another appearance by the Hypnotist, Mark Anthony. This was an adult only show. It was similar to his first show except he swore a few times and had a couple of sexual things thrown in. I was expecting it would be a lot ruder then it was.
Day 11: Valentine's day. At sea. Another day by the pool, with a poolside BBQ for lunch. They had the Worlds Sexiest Man and Miss Bicep's Competition as well as an Ice carving show. Later in the afternoon they had the Captains Corner talk.
The show was the second of the Royal Caribbean Performers show. It was called 'The Piano Man' and was songs of rock n roll and others you could sing along too. After the show the Captain and staff came onto the stage and wished us farewell. This was followed by an adult's only comedy show by Simon PALOMARES.
As it was Valentine's I bought my wife 3 roses in a vase from the flower cart. They were also selling single roses, 6 roses and a dozen roses.
Day 12: Disembarkation. It again ran smoothly and quickly. The biggest disappointment was that we had to hand over the roses as they weren't allowed in by Quarantine. It was annoying as they didn't say anything when they were bought. I thought that as they were purchased on the ship it would be okay. Clearing customs was easy.
The weather was sunny and hot for the whole cruise and the seas were smooth.
We tried 4 of the speciality restaurants. Giovanni's Table is the best of the 4 we tried. The food was perfect. Izumi's had nice sushi and good Sake Martini's, the hot stone wasn't great. Samba Grill was an experience, but while some of the meat was great, other meat wasn't. Chops Grille was nice, the steak was what us Australian's would consider good. People from other countries would say it is the best meat they have tried.
The Captain was Captain PETERSON. He seemed knowledgeable but seemed a bit uncomfortable interacting with people.
The Cruise Director was Bobby BROWN. He was good and interacted with people during the whole cruise. He seemed to be everywhere all the time.
Overall the cruise was fantastic. We both enjoyed a piano player on the Schooner Bar named Anselmo BOLES. He would tell a joke and play requests. He would get the crowd to sing along with him. The trivia was also good, with questions for all levels. The bars are good and the bar staff quick to serve. I didn't use the Gym but it was well equipped and had a great view. One of the good places to watch the world go by was out the front of the ship on deck 5.
I found the shows with P&O to be better but RCI have better ships and better bars. I found the photographers to be annoying, but this was the same as on P&O.
I would cruise on Radiance of the Seas and with RCI again.