This was our second cruise on The Radiance of the Seas. It was a 7 day cruise from Sydney to Newcastle, Hobart and Melbourne. The ship was as lovely as the first time we sailed her 14 months ago and we enjoyed this cruise even more.
Boarding was a breeze. We arrived after 2 pm and basically walked straight on and to our cabin. We had eaten before we boarded as we knew the buffet would be crowded and we wanted to avoid this. We actually didn't eat in the Windjammer at all during the cruise, so we can't comment about the food there.
We ate in the main dining room, three specialty restaurants and the Park Cafe. All the meals were excellent with the specialty restaurants being exceptional - both in food quality and service.
The fact that Royal Caribbean has changed their smoking policy and now does not allow smoking on balconies is WONDERFUL. This is the first cruise (in 3) with RC where we could make full use of the balcony and leave our door open to let fresh air into the room. In fact I think there were less smokers overall on this cruise and it was easy to avoid the smoking areas.
Our cabin was spacious and quiet. Our steward was friendly and efficient.
The pools and pool areas seemed fairly busy but it didn't affect us as we didn't use them. There were plenty of other activities to keep you busy.
We went to talks, trivia, and other events as well as simply relaxed and socialised with people we met. It was an exceptionally friendly and happy cruise. The staff around the ship were generally very friendly and the Activities staff were great. Amy is a wonderful Cruise Director and helped foster this happy, friendly atmosphere. She was hilarious when hosting the "Love and Marriage" show - better than most comedians I have seen.
We also enjoyed the Crown & Anchor events. They were well organised, well catered and we were made to feel valued as repeat cruisers.
The shows were fine and it was never a problem getting a seat. The one we enjoyed the most was Patrick Mc Mahon (singer and guitarist) who was very talented and engaged the audience and engendered a great atmosphere in the theatre.
All the ports were good. In Newcastle we wandered around and walked to Fort Scratchley. There was no queue to get the shuttle buses. In Hobart we caught the ferry to MONA. It is the most amazing building and museum and worth a visit to Hobart just to visit this attraction. Melbourne is beautiful (I am biased!) and we caught the tram into the city and walked around Southbank. We had beautiful weather in all 3 ports.
My only slight disappointment on this cruise was with the fitness classes. On my 4 past cruises I have always done the morning "stretch" classes as well as the Abs classes. I intended to do the same on this cruise. However the stretch class was only 20 minutes and this made it not worth the effort of getting up early to attend. It has usually been 30 minutes.
Secondly the Abs class was too hard and I hurt my neck on the first day and couldn't go again as I didn't want to risk any more discomfort. I think that this class was only suitable for men as it was comprised of mainly sit-ups. I am pretty fit and have always been able to do this class on other cruises. I think it needed much more variety of excercises. But it certainly didn't affect my overall enjoyment of the cruise.
The Radiance is a light, airy and lovely ship. Everything is spotlessly clean and well maintained. It did not feel crowded and we never had to queue for anything. We had a wonderful cruise and I hope to travel on her again sometime in the future.