Carnival Radiance debuted in December 2021 after a $200-million-dollar dry dock makeover that revamped the former Carnival Victory. The massive refit allowed Carnival to stock the 2,984-passenger ship with the line's fan favorites – think: WaterWorks slides, SkyCourse ropes course and a thermal suite, to name a few -- along with new top-line features, such as Shaq O'Neal's crowd-pleasing Big Chicken shack. Radiance has arrived primed to offer big-ship amenities with the coziness of a mid-size ship, making it a fun, easy-to-navigate, all hands-on deck cruise experience for newbies and veterans alike.
In 2018, Carnival Victory received its first round of updates, laying the foundation for its ultimate conversion into Carnival Radiance just three years later. Updates in 2018 introduced Carnival Fun Ship 2.0 features, such as Guy's Burger Joint, BlueIguana Cantina, Carnival Deli, Alchemy Bar, RedFrog Rum Bar, BlueIguana Tequila Bar, Cherry on Top, Bonsai Sushi and a handful of new staterooms.
For cruisers who had the opportunity to sail on Carnival Victory (or any other Carnival Triumph-class ship), the bones of the 2022 Destiny-class Carnival Radiance will feel faintly familiar. Completely reimagined spaces and noticeable modifications of Carnival Radiance's deck plans make it look and feel like a completely different ship.
Adding to the new experience is the replacement of Carnival Victory's love-it-or-hate-it spunky, bold and dark color scheme. Radiance sports an entirely new, updated palette that gives off big beach vibes. Classic, airy and fresh sea tones like peach salmon and seafoam green can be found throughout the ship, along with delicate and modern light fixtures
Passengers looking to balance out their Fun Ship cruise with a little R&R might want to consider upgrading their interior or balcony room to one of the ship's new Cloud 9 Spa rooms. These rooms have a more relaxing color palette in their decor and come with great perks, including unlimited free access to the onboard thermal suite – a new Radiance feature -- often well worth the price of the upgrade on its own.
Other Cloud 9 room perks include priority spa appointments, treatment discounts on port days, a free scrub kit, two free fitness classes per stateroom guest, free body composition analysis and in-room extras such as spa bathrobes and slippers and Elemis shower products.
Spa Cloud 9 rooms are located at the forward of the ship, on Deck 10 (Panorama Deck) and Deck 11 (Spa Deck), giving guests close access to the gym, spa and thermal suites. One downside to the otherwise clutch location of these rooms is that port side Cloud 9 Spa rooms on Deck 11 are located directly below the ship's Camp Ocean kids club. Expect to hear running and stomping nightly until the kids club closes late into the night.
Between the buffet, main dining room, three specialty restaurants and six eateries, there's no shortage of places to eat on Carnival Radiance. And we love that, in typical Carnival fashion, the majority of the onboard eateries are included in the price of the cruise. That said, expect long lines during peak times for popular spots such as Guy's Burger Joint, BlueIguana Cantina, Pizzeria del Capitano, and Big Chicken.
Carnival Deli, Guy's Pig & Anchor, Seafood Shack and Bonsai Sushi are less likely to have exceedingly long lines during peak times, though the latter two options cost extra.
Guy's Pig & Anchor, Pizzeria del Capitano, Cucina del Capitano, Fahrenheit 555 Steakhouse and Shaq's wildly-popular Big Chicken are all new additions on Radiance.
It's worth remembering that Radiance's bones date back to 2000, granting a finite amount of space onboard available to refit. For those curious how big Carnival Radiance is, consider this: while Victory may have been one of the largest ships of its time, Radiance -- which has 101,509 gross tonnage -- is now considered to be a mid-sized ship. The sheer number of new features Carnival was able to bring onboard Radiance is nothing short of impressive.
The trade-off for having the best that Carnival has to offer at your fingertips is that some indoor venues come off being tight on space. The squeeze is particularly felt in the Fahrenheit 555 steakhouse, the Liquid Lounge main theater, Lido Marketplace buffet line and in the casino. That said, the RedFrog Pub, Alchemy Bar, the spa and thermal suite, gym, outdoor eateries and bars and pool areas feel as spacious as usual.
Our initial sailing aboard Carnival Radiance took place during the omicron surge, resulting in at abnormally low capacity. Still, we were happy to see a diverse mix of passengers onboard with us. Fellow passengers ranged in ages from wee kiddos to retirees, with many passengers appearing to be in their late 30s to mid-50s and from all over the U.S.
Couples, solo cruisers, families and friends could be found throughout the ship. Radiance is perfectly set up to appeal to partiers, sun bathers, day drinkers, night owls and quiet folks, all just looking for an easy and fun escape.