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Radiance of the Seas Review

4.0 / 5.0
1,243 reviews
Radiance of the Seas docked in Icy Strait Point, Alaska (Photo: Jorge Oliver)
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Editor Rating
4.0
Very Good
Overall
Jorge Oliver
Editor

Originally launched in 2001, Radiance of the Seas can be rightfully considered a senior member of Royal Caribbean’s fleet. But what the 2,466-passenger vessel lacks in youth it more than makes up in personality. Central to its appeal is the ship’s timeless, dazzling design: half of the ship's exterior is glass -- and there are even outside elevators spanning 12 decks. With generous expanses of open space and floor-to-ceiling windows at every turn, you might even find yourself wearing sunglasses inside.

The ship’s balanced combination of indoor and outdoor spaces makes it equally appropriate for warm- and cold-weather destinations. And that’s quite convenient, as Radiance of the Seas typically spends its time between Alaska and the Caribbean.

While the ship’s signature glass exterior invites passengers to admire the great outdoors, Radiance of the Seas’ indoor public spaces shine with a light of their own. With a solid mix of restaurants, bars and recreational venues, there’s enough to discover within the ship’s 13 decks. But it’s also the playfully memorable aesthetic of some these spaces that brings an endearing quality that has made Radiance of the Seas a fan favorite.

For proof, look no further than the larger-than-life Schooner Bar – a Royal Caribbean mainstay that takes on more prominence than arguably any other ship, with an irresistibly inviting vibe brought to life by nautical memorabilia, faux cannons and a faint scent of gunpowder. Or the African-themed Solarium: a sheltered wellness area that looks like an oasis plucked out of a stage production of the Lion King.

The ship’s age, though, is inescapable. Some of its interior design choices can’t help but feel dated or somewhat inefficient. Examples include the crowded Windjammer Café (a venue that has been much improved in newer Royal Caribbean ships) or most cabin bathrooms, outfitted with clingy curtains. And waiting for the midships elevators can be a chore during busy times.

But if your idea of a fun mainstream cruise takes place on a smaller ship that places greater emphasis on building an intimate and engaging atmosphere rather than flaunting all the latest bells and whistles, you will find plenty to enjoy onboard Radiance of the Seas.

The Radiance of the Seas Deck Plan Emphasizes Natural Light and Socialization

In lieu of Royal Caribbean’s signature Royal Promenade, Radiance of the Seas has the Centrum; a nine-story open space with outside-facing elevators. Here is where you’ll find most of the ship’s service desks, like Guest Relations, shore excursions, Next Cruise and RC Online, as well as the uber-popular Lobby Bar. True to its name, Centrum serves as the ship’s core, providing easy access to most of the ship’s public areas.

Most indoor public areas are found between decks 4 and 6, including the Cascades main dining room, Aurora Theater, Casino Royale, the Colony Club, the cinema, onboard shops and photo gallery, several bars (Schooner Bar, Champagne Bar, Lobby Bar, Quill and Compass) and a handful of specialty restaurants (Chops Grille, Giovanni’s Table, Chef’s Table). Deck 5 is also home to the outdoor Promenade Deck, running the length of the ship on both the starboard and port sides.

A combination of outdoor and indoor spaces is found between Decks 11 and 13, including Windjammer Café, the Solarium, Vitality Spa, the main pool, the kids clubs, Starquest Lounge, the fitness center, the jogging track, the sports court, Sky Bar, Pool Bar, the Viking Crown Lounge and two specialty restaurants: Izumi and Samba Grill.

The relative abundance and ease of connectivity of the ship’s lounges encourages socialization, aided by the myriad activities available at day and night time.

More than Half of Radiance of the Seas Cabins Have Balconies

There are 1,071 cabins aboard Radiance of the Seas in four main categories: inside, ocean view, balcony and suites. Taking advantage of the ship’s light-friendly design, the majority of the cabins (825) offer outside views and more than half (578) are balcony cabins.

Additionally, 571 cabins have the ability to accommodate third and fourth passengers, and a total of 15 cabins are wheelchair accessible. There are, however, no solo cabins on Radiance of the Seas.

In sync with Radiance of the Seas' outward facing design and itineraries that emphasize majestic destinations like Alaska, the best cabins aboard are the ones that allow you to enjoy the scenery from the comfort of your balcony. Alternatively, cabins to avoid include options located near public spaces, especially around the Centrum area.

Specialty Restaurants Elevate Food Options Aboard Radiance of the Seas

For a ship its size, Radiance of the Seas boasts a respectable number of eateries. The complimentary options start with the two-deck Main Dining Room, known as Cascades. Windjammer Café, a Royal Caribbean mainstay, is the tried-and-true buffet, while Park Café in the wellness-themed Solarium serves more health-conscious fare including paninis, salads, soups, fruit cups and more (although, in the absence of Sorrento’s, it’s also the spot to get an after-hours slice of pizza). The food-truck-at-sea concept of Dog House, serving – you guessed it —hot dogs, rounds up the restaurants included in your fare, although you can also get complimentary pastries and snacks at Cafe Latte-tudes (but all beverages are for a fee).

The specialty restaurant selection is even more generous. Royal mainstays Chops Grille and Giovanni’s Table make an appearance on Deck 6, as does Chef’s Table, one of the most exclusive and elevated culinary experiences that the cruise line has to offer. Izumi shares the space with Windjammer Café on Deck 11 while Samba Grill – Royal’s Brazilian-style churrascaria -- is perched all the way up on Deck 12.

The gulf in quality between the extra-fee specialty restaurants and the eateries included in the fare is notable, both in service and taste, making a dining package a wise investment when sailing on Radiance of the Seas. We tried Chops Grille, Samba Grill, Giovanni’s Kitchen and Izumi, and all were consistently head over shoulders above the culinary experiences found elsewhere on the ship.

Fellow Passengers

Royal Caribbean typically appeals to couples as well as multigenerational families of all ages. You can expect the mix of passengers to vary depending on the itinerary and, more importantly, the time of the year, with the median age skewing older during school months and younger during summer and winter vacations. The majority of passengers usually hail from North America, but Radiance of the Seas also attracts a wide range of nationalities, and it won’t be uncommon to hear a plurality of languages onboard.

The cruise line's "one size fits most" approach to cruising means you'll also find a decent amount of first-time cruisers onboard. Radiance of the Seas also hosts daily gatherings for sober cruisers, LGBTQ+ meetups and solo cruisers, providing a welcoming space for all walks of life.

Pros

Social vibe and gorgeous ocean views from all over the ship

Cons

Passengers may miss the bells and whistles found on Royal's larger vessels

Bottom Line

Ideal for cruisers who a classic midsized ship

About

Passengers: 2112
Crew: 894
Passenger to Crew: 2.36:1
Launched: 2001
Shore Excursions: 547

Inclusions

Included with your cruise fare:

  • All theater shows and most entertainment options

  • Most daily onboard activities, unless otherwise noted

  • Fitness center (except classes or personal training sessions)

  • All meals at Windjammer Buffet, Boardwalk Doghouse, Park Cafe and the Main Dining Room (some premium items in the main dining room cost extra)

  • Continental breakfast room service

  • All pools and hot tubs

  • Kinds and teens club

  • Sports court, jogging track, rock climbing wall and miniature golf course

Not included with your cruise fare:

  • Specialty restaurants (Chops Grille, Samba Grill, Izumi, Giovanni's Table, Chefs Table and beverages at Cafe Latte-tudes)

  • Most beverages beyond water, milk, drip coffee and lemonade

  • Gratuities

  • Shore excursions

  • Spa treatments

  • Fitness classes and personal training sessions

  • Photos and artwork

  • Onboard shops

  • Certain onboard activities (wine tasting, bingo, etc.)

  • Babysitting services

  • Room service, except for continental breakfast

  • Wi-Fi internet

Find a Radiance of the Seas Cruise from $371

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More about Royal Caribbean Radiance of the Seas

Where does Royal Caribbean Radiance of the Seas sail from?

Royal Caribbean Radiance of the Seas departs from Seward, Tampa, Vancouver, Los Angeles, Fort Lauderdale, Port Everglades, and San Diego

How much does it cost to go on Royal Caribbean Radiance of the Seas?

Cruises on Royal Caribbean Radiance of the Seas start from $371 per person.

Is Royal Caribbean Radiance of the Seas a good ship to cruise on?

Royal Caribbean Radiance of the Seas won 7 awards over the years.
Royal Caribbean Radiance of the Seas Cruiser Reviews

Excellent Easter cruise

Food in all service areas was very good and the service excellent. Radiance has some of the very best bar attendants, very friendly and efficient.Read More
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Sailer Duane

oneFirst Time Cruiser

Age 58s

Great Alaska experience

This cruise to Alaska was great, knowing the ship was not the newest, and having expected the smaller ship experience, Radiance lived up to expectations.Read More
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Brent Larson

couple2-5 Cruises

Age 50s

Radiance, the good and the not so good.

I would certainly sail on Radiance again. In fact, we are already booked in January of 2025 after the refurbishment.Read More
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Cruisingsince1994

many10+ Cruises

Age 63s

A fortnight might just have been too long for me

the Seas orchestra.Read More
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JPSemprini

many10+ Cruises

Age 66s

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