We recently picked up the Radiance of the Seas on the 14 day voyage of New Zealand from Sydney.
The previous year we had been on the NCL Epic for 7 days around the Caribbean which we had enjoyed but the Radiance was 100 times better!
We were a bit concerned that this may be a cruise for older people (we are in our early 30's) and that 2 weeks would be too long to spend on a ship, we would either love it or be desperate to get off. In fact we nearly cried when we had to leave in Sydney on our last day, we loved it so much and the time flew by.
The ship was docked in Sydney next to the Harbour Bridge with views of the opera house & the city, what a fantastic start.
The embarkation was a bit slow, it all seemed a bit chaotic at first, no staff to point you in the direction, some people were filling in forms at various tables dotted about, but we weren't informed where to get the forms or what they were, eventually we found a luggage drop off and then we decided to go for a coffee at a nearby cafe until the first. After queuing for around two hours to go through the check in process we were on board.
We had booked a balcony state room on deck 9 which we weren't disappointed with. The room was spacious, loads of storage space, a large sofa seating area, it was just perfect, very clean and very practical for a two week stay. Thank you to Clyde our room attendant who looked after us.
Time to explore the ship.... Wow, the atrium, was spectacular as were the lifts with views over the ocean. The pool deck was also well designed and we liked the new large TV screen. The whole ship was spotlessly clean and everything looked immaculate.
I couldn't get over how much space there was on the Radiance, tons of places to sit & walk about. Compared to the Norwegian Epic our previous cruise there were open decks everywhere all waiting to be explored. Crazy Golf, Basketball court, water slides. There are two pool bars which were never too busy but they always kept open. The pool was a good size and luckily for us there were hardly any kids on this trip so it was quite relaxing by the pool. We didn't use the Solarium which looked nice but was always quite busy, we did like the Park Cafe nearby which served some delicious snacks. The 'Dog House' was good but could have offered more choice and it would have been nice to have had a burger.
The Windjammer cafe was always quite busy and this is probably the only negative part of our cruise. They usually open up the nearby restaurant Izumi for the over flow of guests. The food was okay but I did find that a lot of it was usually luke warm, and it may have been left out for a while. I think the desserts should also be individually portioned as they were generally unattractive after everyone had poked around trying to take portions out of each dish.
We were on the 'My Time' dining option as we didn't want to be tied down to a specific time each night. It wasn't until the 3rd night we visited the Cascades restaurant, and we were so impressed with the service and the professional staff. We were looked after by Ryan & Deepay and we couldn't fault them in any way. Each night we would go for dinner around 8.30pm, the lady on the desk (Mariska) would be calling to check we could have a table in the same place even before we got to her desk. The staff seemed to learn what the guests required which made the whole experience fantastic. We thought the dining experience may be a bit formal & stuffy with most people dressed up but it actually it turned out to be fabulous. The menu choices were very good and our waiters were very knowledgeable on the menu. Rita (one of the head waiters) was also very kind.
The entertainment on the ship was also excellent, after a previous cruise on the NCL Epic we thought it was best to sit near the back so we could make a quick exit if needed but we really enjoyed everything we saw. The Royal Caribbean Singers & Dancers did some wonderful shows, very professional dancing, singing and some great scenery on stage. Some of the other acts were apparently flown in from various parts of the world to entertain the passengers and were also very good.
We found there so much to do on the Radiance, in fact I was hoping for a rest but didn't want to miss out on things to watch, and all the venues to visit. The disco night club 'Starquest' was fun even though it never really got very busy, possibly as most of the passengers were older. The main seating area around the bar slowly rotated so if the drinks weren't enough to make you go dizzy this would!
The entertainments manager Bobby & his partner Becky did a great job, we especially enjoyed waking up watching them on the in house TV channel at 7am while they sipped cocktails and told us about the days event. Bobby decorating a gateau was hilarious!
There is a nice Champagne bar overlooking the sea and the atrium which was also a lovely place to sit and have a drink meet fellow passengers. The girls on the bar were very entertaining and greeted us by our names every time we saw them, making us feel special. Thank you.
We had some enjoyable days at the ports we visited, New Zealand is a lovely country and we always looked forward to returning back to our ship in the afternoons. One of my highlights was the Scottish pipers playing alongside the port as we departed Dunedin, what a great atmosphere.
We enjoyed listening to the captain Claus for his daily announcements and the Captains Corner in the theatre was fascinating & funny. He made us feel like it was his first cruise with his enthusiasm for the ports we visited, along with the Pilot who was very informative especially when we visited the Fjords. The approach to the waterfall was also a real highlight on our trip!
The bbq's alongside the pool were beautiful laid out, and the food was delicious, even though some of the passengers looked like they hadn't eaten for weeks, let alone 2hours after breakfast with plates piled high of giant prawns & ribs!
We only tried one of the other paid restaurants on our last night in Sydney where they had laid up the Samba grill tables outside on the deck. We sat and ate watching the sun setting over Sydney harbour. The meats, salads & vegetables were delicious; it was a perfect end to a dream holiday.
Thank you Royal Caribbean, Radiance of the Seas, Captain Claus and all the staff who made our trip, we are currently looking to book up our next cruise on Royal Caribbean.