This is our 10th cruise and, like all our previous cruises, we ensure we take advantage of the departure port and get there several days in advance to enjoy the particular city prior to boarding. Honolulu was no exception and we thoroughly enjoyed our 6 day pre-cruise visit.
RADIANCE is big and "strong" and amazing how it handled the big swells of the Pacific. Advanced stabilizers kept the ship on an even keel (excuse the pun) as she cut through the seas at an incredible 25 knots.
However, after all the jazzed up reports of the makeover, I was disappointed. I was expecting more. Sure the added specialty dining rooms and outdoor movie screen were the main changes done, and they were spanking new of course, but I had wrongly assumed the staterooms had been overhauled as well (apart from the flat screen TV).
Easy; boarding staff were friendly. Getting to the port was also a breeze. $6 on a shuttle bus with a friendly driver was a good start to More
Not what I expected; drab and "tired" and musty smell. Sofa was worn and faded (this was the same through other staterooms that I visited) and I really didn't feel comfortable sitting on it, curtains old and "whoofy" odour. But our stateroom steward attended to the smell and deodorised the room within a few hours. I got over the initial bad impression and all well after this; my idea of a ship overhaul is obviously different to RCC International's!
Bathroom small but sufficient storage in mirror cabinet to keep all toiletries. Shower oh so small, but this is the same on all cruise lines in this class cabin. A real plus is the amazing water pressure in the shower (reminded me of the Seinfeld episode with Kramer!)
Storage for clothes was adequate.
Bed? Excellent - very, very comfortable. Food:
We honestly had no problems. Find it hard to believe other reviewers had issues. In fact, we enjoyed the food so much in the Cascades and Windjammer that we never got to try any of the specialty places. Our excellent table waiters Aleksander and David were outstanding and our dining companions were also fun.
We did find however that breakfast or lunch in the Cascades to be a bit "pressured". Staff were polite but you could see they were under extreme pressure to provide the timely service. While the "cereal bar" for breakfast and "salad bar" for lunch were interesting, it did confuse many people. One could go to the central area and waiters there would serve you cereal, juice etc as an "entree" and the table waiter would take your order for the "main" course. I must admit the salad bar was amazing! Everything so fresh - no wilted leaves to be seen ever. So many ingredients - all types of salad leaves, peppers, corn, sprouts, seeds, salmon, chicken pieces, and various salad dressing - and even prawns! One could simply forgo the main course and just indulge in the salad bar.
As previously touched on, dinner at Cascades was something we looked forward to each evening. Food was outstanding and Aleksander and David bent over backwards to please. A nice touch here is that they called us by our first names and not SIR or MADAM or MR x or Mrs x... made the dining experience more special.
I must point out however, that table waiters and table companions are a key to a pleasant dining experience. If these don't "work for you" then you would need to change tables up front or head to the Windjammer or specialty restaurants. Solarium - adult pool area.
Was disappointed the captain did not retract the glass roof on our sunny days as it was quite stifling in there although cosy on the dreary cold days.
Park Cafe - brilliant - salad bar, hot roast beef rolls, pastries etc.
RCC obviously didn't deem it important enough to replace the "greenery" in the Solarium. Tired, discoloured plastic vines and leaves really took away from the "jungle" ambiance.
Lot of nooks and crannies to relax eg. library (small but quiet), Starquest lounge (on highest deck and great forward view) so quiet and peaceful. Helicopter area far forward- do your impression of The Titanic scene here if you wish or just sit on the comfy benches and drift away- not a sound here except the wind and the waves.
Golf course - loved it. Apparently this was part of the renovation and it showed - beautiful artificial turf and rockery that looked so real. Apart from really windy and rocky days, it played quite true.
TV in stateroom:
appalling programming; ad nauseum repeats.
Entertainment: very good... Tango Buenos Aires a highlight. An early 7pm show for the 2nd sitting diners was a superb idea instead of a late 10:30... well done RCC
Nothing different here... it amazes me how politely rude, or rudely polite these people can be. OK, they basically deal with complaints 24/7 but that's their job.... a smile wouldn't hurt. 10 cruises and the same 10 experiences.
Final note: very surprised that there were 1500+ Australians onboard but even more surprised that that there were 160 kids also! We knew it was school holiday time but we didn't expect Aussies to fly all the way over to Hawaii with their kids for a 17 day cruise. Live and learn. Less
Radiance of the Seas Cruises to Australia & New Zealand
Bay of Islands was cancelled off our itinerary so that is why we spent two days here instead of just one. Rain can really put a negative spin on any port visit but you have to take it on the chin and make do.
Shopping and museum tours took up our time here. The hop on-off bus is great but be advised - it is a DAY pass not 24 hour like so many other cities around the world. To efficiently make use of your ticket, you really need to be first on at 9am and last off at 5:30. The bus gave me a flavour of the city which was abuzz with World Rugby fever. It also took me to the Auckland Museum and Maritime Museum which I really enjoyed.
RADIANCE had to re-position to another berth on day 2 for refuelling. Unfortunately a shuttle system organised between RCC and the Port could have worked much better with many passengers having to walk back to the ship from the city. This may have been more acceptable had the weather been more favourable.
Bora Bora - here we did take a 2 hour mini van tour (not through the cruiseline) around the island. This was run by a local who was very passionate about his home. He explained the culture and customs and showed us amazing beaches as well as the famous Bloody Mary's.
Moorea - now this is what I call tropical. Anchored in a tiny bay with towering mountains around you. As I said, no tour, but simply walking around the tender drop-off area and exploring the "real" local scene. Local dancers greet each tender and a table of tropical fruits awaits.