This is the second time my family and I have cruised on the Radiance, we returned as our first experience was memorable, I cannot think of a better holiday cruising with my family, who along with myself thoroughly enjoyed this cruise.
I do believe though in constructive feedback as the experience was very different to our last cruise. Several areas such as cost cutting, poor entertainment, high pressure sales and maintenance issues need review.
It is also disappointing to find that RCCL does not respond to feedback or complaints, it is now over 1 month since I provided feedback to them and they are yet to comment which disappoints me as a customer who overall has enjoyed the experience and facilities provided on their ships and has 3 additional bookings over the next 12 months.
It was hard to then score each item as we had both great experiences and very disappointing experiences for the same categories.
The dining aboard the Radiance is impressive, with multiple free dining options and great speciality restaurants. I would definitely recommend purchasing a specialty restaurant package.
Main Dining Room
Our first trip on the Radiance we chose My Time Dining and this time traditional dining. As mentioned above, I am yet to receive a reply from RCCL as the service I received this time was poor, particularly in comparison to my last cruise where I couldn’t fault the main dining room, the service was impeccable and memorable.
My family was looking forward to the main dining room, our last cruise on the Radiance was one to remember, the experience was amazing, I couldn’t fault the main dining room, the service was impeccable, the staff knew all our names, they knew our drink preferences, remembered our favourite meals and would attend to our every need. Even the simplest of things like having a high chair ready for our baby when we arrived, having my favourite drink ready as I sat down and if I didn’t feel like it that night, there was no charge or they would replace it for something else.
This cruise however was the opposite, we didn't even get to know the head waiter, only on the 8th night of the cruise he turned up at our table and asked about the service in which we where honest about it. We had to request a high chair each time, the drinks service was not existent, however the table beside us who ALL had the premium drinks package was showered in service with drinks being offered without being requested consistently, each night they were offered pre dinner drinks, shots and other beverages (which astounds me as to why you want to push drinks on someone who has bought an ALL inclusive package rather than the people who are paying for their drinks individually), yet our table of people were neglected and I often had to ask for service just to get a drink.
The service from our wait staff was extremely poor and the even the people sitting with us (first time cruisers with RCCL) vowed never to come on RCCL again.
The windjammer is a decent buffet even if at times it is repetitive, the food is always hot and fresh, well presented and enough selection however it appears that the quality of the ingredients has been reduced using cheaper ingredients to cut costs. Several dishes were basic and they need to improve the quality of their pastries and Pizza, the general choices available and seating area makes it a great place to dine. The panoramic windows provide a great outlook and overall the buffet met our requirements.
I’ll start out by saying that we really enjoy the speciality restaurants, the food is always superb, the decor impressive and is great value for money. I am surprised that they have to push so much to upgrade people to this option, the cost is small, but it provides such an experience if you want a quieter, private dining experience.
I will note that this cruise for some reason the wait staff seemed to be instructed to pressure the diner to purchase the more premium wines. On each occasion and the moment we sat down, we were presented with the some of the more pricey bottles in the restaurant, not just the $30-$80 range, but $120 - $200 and then when we declined, it appeared the waiter got very disappointed and the service then suffered, this wasn’t isolated and occurred in each restaurant, with the worst service in Chops Grille.
If you are cruising on the Radiance, then I recommend the speciality restaurants, you will not be disappointed and I hope they change their attitude about pushing the wines and just get on with the fabulous service I experienced on the last cruise.
The Public rooms are generally great, although Radiance doesn’t have the main promenade like some of the larger ships, it has a sense of intimacy yet still has a lot of people on board, and you never feel over crowded except for maybe by the main pool or the movie cinema which is very small, there are lots of places to enjoy a crowd of people and just as many to have all to yourself.
We felt that the shopping range could be larger and improved with more shops.
The pool is too small for a ship this size and when the pool is undergoing renovation or painting they wouldn’t let our children in the Solarium Pool which was disappointing.
The children’s pool is also very small; it’s literally a 2m wide 50cm deep pond. This aside the children still had fun, but improvements could be made to this pool area. The waterslide for one could be open at more times, it was only open on sea days and also only open for approx 2hrs per day, so if you wanted to use it, you had to time your visits.
We had balcony cabin 9658, when we booked the RCCL operator did not inform us it was a obstructed view cabin, when I found out what the obstructed view was, I endeavoured to change it but the ship was full and when I arrived onboard, they had put me on a wait list for room changes.
The obstruction is the window washing ladder that moves on port days, it is fixed the remainder of the cruise. It definitely obstructs the view and could pose a security issue as someone could climb from a lower or higher deck to your balcony, if you have young children, they might be inquisitive to climb on it. The major issue I had was during the night we heard the structure bang against the ship, I called the maintenance team and tried to secure it tighter but it still made noise when it moved.
The second issue with our cabin was cleanliness, when we arrived my 18 month old daughter found a pair of underpants and women sanitary pad on the floor and picked it up. I photographed it for use later, this was unacceptable, however the most amazing thing was no concern by the staff, I rang the front desk and they advised the cleaner will come and pick it up at his next service at 5pm as he is on a break now. When 5pm did come, I noticed the cleaner in the hallway and spoke with him, he had no knowledge of my complaint, but did come and remove the items. It makes me wonder what else is missed when they clean the staterooms.
I felt sorry for some of the cabins on our floor, consistently being flooded and our hallway smelling damp and wet with blowers on every day. The room attendants advised that this always happens. If I had one of the rooms, I would be complaining as it appears the problem is well known and they keep placing guests in these rooms.
The entertainment was a real let down and although the cruise director Amy was enthusiastic there could have been a lot more parties during the evening that kept the night alive.
The entertainment in the main showroom was fair, it appeared something was missing, there was not as many shows as I remembered last time. The theatre was always full when there was a show so I do not understand why they don’t utilise it more.
The headline acts were few and far between, why they didn’t have more considering the entertainers advised they were on the ship for the full cruise surprises me.
It appears this is an area of cost cutting and if the entertainment doesn’t improve I will be reconsidering sailing on RCCL again
My wife and I thoroughly enjoyed the disco night and other themed nights, but again felt there could have been more.
Family and Children
The staff in the kids club are great and our 4 year old daughter really enjoyed attending, so much so she was asking to go there. We purchased the Barbie experience and the excitement it brought to my daughter was priceless and she still sleeps on the same pillow and uses the same mini blanket 2 weeks later. I felt the programme was worth it for the pure joy it provided my wife and I to see our daughter so happy, but there could have been improvements, the stateroom decor was not the same as in the photos such as the hanging pink chandelier and the pink bow was only on the chairs and not on the curtains. The staff wore their blue and yellow uniform to all the Barbie events except the final fashion show and I think had they been dressed in themed colours it would have been better. The staff involved Boo Boo and Jessica were friendly, very enthusiastic and accommodating with the kids and great choice for the Barbie experience.
We also used the Nursery for our 18 month old. The Nursery team were caring and made a real effort to make us feel at ease that they were caring for our children. The Nursery however was understaffed and we could only pre-book a certain number of slots as the cruise had 29 children under 3 and only 8 spaces in the Nursery. It was disappointing that management do not pre-plan this considering they know the numbers of children attending prior.
There was no babysitting on this cruise, so when you read the fine print about “being subject to availability” do not assume it means first in first served, from the staff at the front desk they explained that most cruises in Australia do not have this service and it only occurs when certain trained staff are on the cruise and generally these are part of the entertainment team.