This is my fourth cruise - same as my wife. Two with Carnival and two with Royal Caribbean. We decided to take a cruise to Hawaii primarily because of the number of days at sea.
Day 1 and Embarkation - We decided to fly via JetBlue to the Long Beach airport since it was closer to the pier than LAX. We prefer to fly JetBlue over most US airlines. When we got to the pier there was a very long line but it moved rather quick. We were checked in and on the ship within one hour.
We got to the room to drop off our luggage and immediately went to the gym & spa to signup for gym classes and spa treatments. Spin, Yoga, and Pilates classes cost an additional $10 each but there is a package discount offered as well. (more on the gym and spa later). We then took advantage of the lunch buffet before heading back to our stateroom for a little rest and unpacking.
Days at sea - We had 4 days at sea on the way down to Hawaii and there are plenty of things to do. We thought we might get a chance to get caught up on some books and some other stuff but we could not believe how fast our days filled up with activities and things to do. One of the best things about the days at sea was the fact that we could not see anything but water in all directions.
Big Island - We had two stops on the Big Island of Hawaii. The first stop (Kona) proved to be the most challenging due to the 'tender ticketing process'. This lead to a huge delay for us getting off the ship - two hours. I think RC will learn to improve this imperfection. We found a beach and had a great day. In Hilo (our second stop) we took a helicopter tour with Blue Hawaiian Helicopter and went to Volcano National Park. Overall, the island was nice - especially seeing the volcano and black sand beach. We rented a car on all of the islands and found our way to the sights and locations we wanted.
Maui - We took a helicopter tour and spent some time at the beach. Since we spent two days on the island I spent the second day scuba diving. We had lunch at a hotel one day and spent $50 for a burger and chicken satay - we then realized the value of the food on the ship versus the on-shore.
Oahu - We drive around most of the island and hit a few beaches. We ended up in Waikiki Beach for the sunset. Awesome and relaxing sight.
Return - We had 5 days at sea on the way back so there was not much pressure or depression after leaving Hawaii. Same as on the trip down there were plenty of things to do - from dodge ball to watching crew demonstrations. The Captain took some time from running the ship to partake in the cake decorating demonstration - such a good guy.
Disembarkation - A bit of a wait and was sad to leave.
Ship - This ship is awesome. This is not a very large ship but it is just the right size. The layout is efficient and has many places to relax. There are various sitting rooms, lounges, and open spaces throughout the ship and at times you do not feel like you are on a ship at all. The self-leveling pool tables and rock climbing wall were cool.
Stateroom - We were lucky to get an aft cabin on deck 7. The room had plenty of room for us to store our belongings. With 15 nights, we packed a lot for the trip and we were able to place everything within reach. We stored our bags under our bed and did not see them for two weeks - a very nice feeling by the way. The balcony and room was large enough for the two of us and provided a nice refuge to relax.
Crew & Staff - As with every cruise the crew pamper you and make you feel welcome. No exception here. The crew were warn and quite helpful if there were any questions. Past guests voted the ship as the 'friendliest' ship and that distinction is well deserved.
Our cabin steward Myra took great care of us and kept our room in top shape. She was warm, personable, and extremely happy. She asked us each day if we need anything and took care of it. Our waitress - Cecelia, assistant waiter - Ian, and dinning room waiter - Delroy made our dinning experience each night such a pleasure. We did not need to go to the specialty restaurants because they were so good and made us feel like family.
The cruise director staff were exceptional. Simon and Kirk were all over the ship each day and updated everyone each day with a fun show - The Kirk and Simon Show - each day via TV. Kirk also lead an hour long exercise session each day in the gym. Simon - who went to clown school - was funny and very entertaining. They had our day filled with a variety of activities so there was never a dull moment.
The crew kept this ship spotless and in constant good shape. We saw members of the crew cleaning the ship throughout the day and night, changing carpet, etc. They worked very hard to keep the ship in good shape.
Gym and Spa - The gym was quite good and had almost everything I needed to stay in shape. I spent almost everyday in the gym. The gym staff (Kylie and Matt) were exceptional and pushed us to realize our potential. I looked forward to their workouts and as a result I was in better shape because of them.
The spa was awesome. In addition to the separate men's and women's treatment rooms, there is a steam room situated on the side of the ship with floor to ceiling windows allowing you a great view. The spa treatments (my wife took a few treatments) were good.
Weather and sea conditions - Pleasant each day and some days the water was like glass.
Overall - A fantastic ship and wonderful trip. Can't wait for our next cruise. Hats off to the Radiance crew & staff for a wonderful voyage.