This was our 12th cruise and first with with RCCL (Age: early fifties).
This was a 16 night itinerary. Port Hedland iron ore tour was a 1 1/4 hours endurance test of babble from the tour guide onboard a bus - we were expecting to actually go into the mining area). End result was paying $69 USD for a BHP BILLITON cap. This is only a re-fuelling stop for the ship. Also Airlie Beach should be discontinued from itineraries. There is nothing there and the shuttle dumps you at a boring market. Cairns or Port Douglas would be much better choice.
Also Brisbane port is way too far out from the CBD to bother venturing in (50 mins) .
Radiance had large disabled contingent (scooters, wheelchairs, walkers, walking sticks) which increases the chance of catching gastro intestinal illness/flu/viruses as well as slowing down the movement around the ship considerably. Tenders were also slowed down as a result. Normally wheelchairs are not allowed on tender boats but were being allowed on this cruise causing delays. The lifts were slow and overcrowded due to age group and shortage of lifts. Also noticed increase in tattooed persons onboard where previously this was not seen and considered bad taste.
Smoking was allowed on balconies which if known about we would not have booked a cruise with RCCL (smoke wafted in from other balconies and was intolerable).
Main dining room meals were too fancy generally and didn't seem to cater for the Australian market. RCCL need to simplify dish offerings and focus on high quality meal basics. Escargot were on the menu every night. The low fat dishes often had cream and high fat ingredients. Also chargeable food items have now appeared on the main dining room menu which has never occurred before on other cruises. The DOGHOUSE seems a waste of space and under utilised. Again this is not suitable for the Australian market. Rita's Cantina and Izumi were not patronised during the day indicating a lack of interest in paying for these restaurants and taking up valuable space.
Drinks packages are poor especially for non-alcoholic (CELEBRITY cruises have far superior drinks packages). There were no coffee packages or cards available either. Brewed coffee is undrinkable so it is off to Latte-tudes at $5.50 USD a pop for a coffee with a reasonable strength. The buffet (WINDJAMMERS) closes at 9.30 pm which is very unusual as most ships offer some late night buffet. The Park Cafe makes a weak attempt at late night snacks with a minimal pizza ingredient offering (corn kernels, broccoli & cauliflower ?). There should also be a fesh juice and smoothie bar around pool area.
Production shows seemed weak and 1 show especially had dancers out of synch and vocals were hard to understand. Couple of the singers looked like cabin attendants. They need a higher costume budget for production shows. They also need to reference PRINCESS cruises production show standards. The orchestra was of a very high standard .The headliner acts were mixed (some awful and others very good). Staff doing tired old 'If I were not upon the sea' routine and not very well either. Need more enrichment lectures and less infantile activities- they seem to cater to low intellect groups (belly flopping ?).
The astronomy lectures (Noleen) were very good. The destination lectures need to have more interest value to engage passengers - not just boring names and dates.
Captain was very good and informative throughout the cruise and had a good sense of humour. Officers and most staff were also friendly. Bobby the cruise director arrived on board 7 days late (Darwin) . He was very professional and not patronising like some .
There was an overall sense of budget cut backs: (no lobster night,no toiletries (balcony or lower), no pen and pad in cabin, no pillow chocolates, pool towels have to be signed out and in with a threat of $30 cabin charge for non-return) . There is a sense of bullying about gratuities with RCCL which other cruise lines have recently backed away from in Australian market. RCCL still want Australians to be American.
Overall the ship looks tired in spots - visible rust and outdated colours on open deck areas particularly.
Promenade is a good wrap around deck but needs chair cushions for comfort. There are some well presented public areas (e.g. colony club, theatre ). The GYM was well appointed.
There is nothing outstanding with RCCL to seduce us back onboard again.
Looks like back to CELEBRITY and PRINCESS cruises to show how it is done..