Radiance of the Seas Cruise Review by storie: Great ship; lackluster dining room
Overall Member Rating
Great ship; lackluster dining room
Our friends got married in Anchorage and wanted to cruise in Alaska after. We were excited; my fiance and I are getting married soon, so we counted this as our honeymoon too!
We departed Anchorage and drove our rented cars down to Seward. We stopped at Chugach and Beluga Point to take pictures. If you do drive, Google Maps is right: it WILL take 2.5-3 hours even though it's not that long mileage-wise. It's an easy drive, but you will get stuck behind motorcoaches. Embarkation was super-easy. We were still in our clothes from the wedding ceremony, so we got some odd stares. Security was no more or less invasive than what you'd expect at any American airport.
The Radiance is looking good after its renovation. I've only cruised once, on the Sovereign a few years back, and the cabins look much nicer and cleaner. Our interior suite was bright, clean, and more spacious than I thought it would be (don't be slobs like us, though; take the time to put away your clothes More each day or else you'll get claustrophobic). We hung out in the Colony Club and Schooner Bar, but spent almost all of the cruise at Champagne Bar or in the Solarium. We LOVED the Champagne Bar with its menu of nightcaps, and I'm not sure why but the Solarium was abandoned every night. We had the whole joint to ourselves! We checked out the ShipShape spa and there didn't seem to be a lot for us - we both just prefer barbells and rack cages, which weren't present (for obvious reasons).
The entertainment seemed geared towards an older set. We were all upper-20's, and we all brought books and our own card games so it wasn't a huge deal. As I said before, most of the public spaces were empty post-dinner, so public spaces were easy to find and comfortable. We did do the pub trivia and had a blast.
The only area where there's real room for improvement on Radiance is the dining room. We chose MyTime and linked our reservations to guarantee we'd be able to set together. Unfortunately, we were a party of seven. Instead of seating us at a table for eight, most nights we were seated at this awful table for six that was up against a column. And we were four big, broad guys, and one of the women was five months pregnant. It was a really tight squeeze, and we complained, but didn't get a good table till the second to last night of our cruise. Ordering drinks at dinner was ridiculous; if you wanted something, the waiter would call over a barman, but then if you wanted wine, the barman would call over an assistant waiter, but if you had the alcohol package and wanted the house wine, the assistant waiter would call the barman back over.
Two of the people in my party have pretty severe food allergies, which we noted on our reservations. The dining staff didn't seem to take notice. My friend who is allergic to almonds ordered a dessert that didn't mention the thing contained almonds, and thankfully his wife saw them before he took a bite. I was surprised that our waiters didn't catch that.
By the last night, we were so sick of the dining room that we had dinner in Windjammer instead. The selection was good, and the joint was empty. I recommend it.
Other than that, the service and staff were excellent. Our stateroom attendant seemed a little surprised/bothered at first about serving a gay couple, but he was fine after day one. Rebecca at Champagne Bar and the man who worked the closing shift at the Solarium Bar were both a godsend.
As for the ports, most of them are the same chintzy jewelry stores and you really have to look. I found Skagway horrible and stayed in my room after walking around for an hour, but my fiance took the ferry to Haines and had a wonderful time. I strongly recommend the Bike and Brew and Glacier View tour in Juneau, and the Hoonah Bike Trek in Icy Strait. Neither is particularly strenuous, but they are very fun and educational.
All in all, we had a great time. This is actually a good cruise for 20somethings: Don't insist on going to the dining room every night, stay up late and enjoy having the ship to yourself, and book some fun, physical excursions, and you'll have a wonderful vacation. Less
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Cabin review: N9617 Interior Stateroom
The cabin was spacious and comfortable, much more than I was expecting. Keep it clean and you won't get claustrophobic like we did. ;)Read All Interior Stateroom (N) Reviews >>
Port and Shore Excursions
Had a great time on the Hoonah Bike Trek. The guides where two local girls, one in high school and one who had just graduated. We rode through the town, down to the airport, and back. On the way back we stopped by a carving project that the National Park Service is funding, a big house that tells the story of the local Tlingits and how they came to be in Hoonah.
Icy Strait was, by far, my favorite port. No tacky jewelry stores, no obnoxious hawkers, just some beautiful scenery.
Bike and Brew and Glacier View tour. $99 for a ten-mile bike ride, TWO breathtaking views of the glacier, entertaining local guides, and a beer tasting flight. It was an excellent deal and we had a lot of fun.
Our original excursion was cancelled and we didn't plan on taking another one. I'd been to Ketchikan before and knew my way around so we thought we'd play it by ear. At the end of the gangway a tour bus operator still had some seats open that he was selling at a discount. We took the bait.
The driver was a bit of a weirdo. Also, they used the promise of a possible bear sighting to lure us. The "ideal bear watching spot" was crowded with four other tour busses, plus it was low tide, plus there were no fish in the water, and it was an active construction zone. So, ideal bear-watching, right? But at the stop at Rotary Beach we saw a ton of bald eagles and got some very good close-up shots, so it wasn't all bad.
Don't bother leaving the boat unless you're doing a shore excursion. It's just block after annoying block of the same touristy stuff you see in other ports.
My fiance booked a photography tour through ShoreTrips.com. It was 6.5 hours in Haines, and he had a great time.
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