Updated by Terry Ward, Cruise Critic contributor
Radiance of the Seas Overview
When Royal Caribbean debuted its first-in-class Radiance of the Seas in 2001, passengers raved about the light that came streaming through the ship's glassy exterior. Ten years later, the line has put $20 million into giving the 90,090-ton, 2,139-passenger vessel something of a new identity. During a spring 2011 makeover, Radiance gained eight dining choices already found on (big) sisters Oasis and Allure of the Seas, including a Japanese restaurant and Brazilian churrascaria, as well as cabin upgrades throughout, bow-to-stern Wi-Fi and a giant poolside movie screen.
Other additions from the 2011 refurb included a new nursery for kids ages six months to 36 months (also an Oasis-class staple), 12 new cabins, interactive flat-screen TV systems in all accommodations, as well as the installation of touch-screen "wayfinders" (again, Oasis) throughout the ship to make it easier to find out what's going on where, and how best to get there.
With all the new bells and whistles, there's definitely more to love about Radiance than ever before. But the main attraction is still the "mid-sized" ship's warm, light-loving design. With vast expanses of open space and floor-to-ceiling windows at every turn, you might even find yourself wearing sunglasses inside. In fact, half of the ship's exterior is glass -- and there are even outside elevators spanning 12 decks, an innovation first seen on sister line Celebrity Cruises' Millennium-class vessels.
And, even before the Oasis-style makeover, Radiance was known for incorporating the best features from other RCI ships: the variety of activity and entertainment options of the Voyager class (like rock-climbing), the sleek profile of the Sovereign class, and the global itineraries (the ship splits time between Alaska and Australia) and wealth of windows, glass doors and canopies of the Vision class.
Post-refurb, Radiance 2.0 offers even more diversity of choice, particularly in dining, while maintaining the intimate vibe afforded by its modest size. (In the Royal Caribbean fleet, only the line's 78,491-ton Vision-class ships are smaller.) It's a ship that will make Royal Caribbean loyalists feel right at home, yet happily up with the times, too.
Radiance of the Seas Fellow Passengers
Royal Caribbean typically appeals to couples and singles in their 30's to 50's, as well as multi-generational families. The median age is in the low 40's on seven-night cruises and in the 30's on three-and four-night cruises. Passengers on cruises ten days and longer tend to be 50-plus. Royal Caribbean attracts passengers that are looking for an affordable, active vacation. During the Alaska summer season, count on cruising with mostly Americans and Canadians. When the ship repositions Down Under, the Australians naturally come out in droves.
Radiance of the Seas Dress Code
Two formal nights are scheduled on seven-day voyages. About half the men opt for dark suits instead of tuxedoes. Daytime wear is casual. Bring layers and rain gear (just in case) for Alaska.
Radiance of the Seas Gratuity
Royal Caribbean passengers are charged $12 per person, per day ($14.25 for suite guests). Gratuities can be prepaid or will be added on a daily basis to passengers' SeaPass accounts during the cruise. Passengers can modify or remove gratuities by visiting the guest services desk while onboard. A 15 percent gratuity is automatically added to bar tabs.
Embarkation; Went smoothly although our cabin was not ready; we arrived at the stated time. We had to wait along with everyone else in the Windjammer Cafe where there was not enough seating.
Cabin; Excellent. Larger than other cruise ...continue
Embarkation at Fremantle did have a queue, but we didn't notice the delay while we chatted to other passengers. Relax and enjoy the start of a holiday!
Radiance did seem to have more space per passenger as we were told and only appeared ...continue
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1. We boarded the Radiance in Sydney and continued on the following cruise around New Zealand. When we boarded originally, getting on the ship went smoothly and efficiently. But once on the ship, we were told to join a line in the dining room to ...continue