Sail Date: April 2019
An excellent cruise. Wonderful crew and great friendly staff. Ship layout was good and the lifts were fast and regular. Shopping was fun and there were many bargains on board. Duty free shopping at the Yellow shop in Vanuatu was ... Read More
An excellent cruise. Wonderful crew and great friendly staff. Ship layout was good and the lifts were fast and regular. Shopping was fun and there were many bargains on board. Duty free shopping at the Yellow shop in Vanuatu was unbelievable. Food was great except for main dining room (level 4) where I found it wanting, Steaks were over cooked even when replaced and the Roast Lamb on the last night was as tough as old shoe leather.Service in the main dining room however, was good. Windjammer was one of the best on-board buffets I have seen. Food was varied and excellent quality, stewards and wait staff were a happy bunch and service was great . Visiting Noumea on a Sunday is a waste of time. Almost everything is shut in the city. Entertainment and shows on board were first class. The Freddie Mercury shows were great . Steven Larkins earned every second of three standing ovations. Belinda Marks was also great entertainment. The on-board dancers were exceptional. Embarkation and disembarkation was very efficient as was the tendering process at a number of ports. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2019
I booked this March 23, 2019 cruise for the itinerary. I’m an American, and I’ve always wanted to see New Zealand and thought a cruise with many ports of call on a 12-night cruise would be a good introduction. Ports included cities ... Read More
I booked this March 23, 2019 cruise for the itinerary. I’m an American, and I’ve always wanted to see New Zealand and thought a cruise with many ports of call on a 12-night cruise would be a good introduction. Ports included cities in both the North and South Island, including all day to view the three South Island Sounds (Dusky, Doubtful and Milford) before heading back to Sydney. I arrived on the sidewalk at the Overseas Cruise Terminal in Sydney at 11:10 and was seated for lunch in Chops Grille at 12:20. I had purchased the new KEY program which brings certain perks formally reserved for those with many cruises in their portfolio. It included a good internet package (which I was already going to purchase) and also included priority boarding to tender ports. Unfortunately, did not get to use that much… I had a balcony cabin on the 7th deck at the front of the ship. Maria was my cabin steward and after a five-minute introduction and chat, I was on my way to 12 wonderful nights under her care. There is a lot of storage space in the cabin, and as a solo traveler I didn’t use most of it. There was enough room under the bed to store my suitcases, and I used the in room safe. The refrigerator wasn’t very cold, and even after having maintenance look at it, no improvement. Maria kept my room stocked with ice and made sure the turn down service was done while I was at the late seating dinner. Let’s get the “bad” out of the way. We started with ports on the North Island. A major storm formed at the lower part of the South Island about Day 4. The captain was in contact with the weather services and informed us an itinerary change might be necessary. Yes, that is what happened. We did not visit Dunedin or any of the Sounds. We detoured between the North and South Island, and also missed the makeup port of Picton due to bad weather. However, the makeup port of Wellington greeted us (unexpectedly for them) on a brilliant, warm, non windy Sunday morning and rolled out the red carpet of hospitality to ensure Radiance passengers had a wonderful experience in Wellington. The Zealandia nature park there is like stepping into Jurassic Park, and it did not disappoint as part of a ship’s excursion. Ron, our park guide, was fantastic. When the captain announced our itinerary would change, I heard grumblings amongst some passengers. However, later some of those grumblers had watched the weather forecast themselves, or their families had contacted them because the forecast made international headlines. The captain was visible every morning around the Café Latte-tudes coffee bar area to personally discuss concerns with the passengers. I saw him speak on the phone to a family member, assuring them their loved ones would be taken care of with safe passage, albeit a significantly revised itinerary. Way to go Captain Espen Been!!! Now that more sea days were added to our itinerary, the Cruise Directors staff stepped up and ensured there were activities throughout those days. There were several movies in the large performance theater so hundreds of passengers could enjoy them, dance lessons in the Centrum, extra musical entertainment throughout the day, etc. etc. Speaking of musical entertainment, Ron Kingston was a featured performer in the Quill and Compass Pub every night. He was amazing in his ability to connect with the audience and sing a variety of songs for all ages and from different cultures (American, Australia, New Zealand, British). It was kind of like a Piano Man singalong but with his voice, personality, and his guitar skills and unique sound system that really make the room rock. Was my go to event before bedtime. I signed up for the late dinner seating (8 pm) and requested to be seated at a large table. It did not disappoint. I’ve met Aussie friends for life. The food was very good, and by the second night my dinner cocktail was waiting for me upon arrival. There is an “upsell” for the high end steak and lobster dinners. Several table mates ordered the grilled lobster and were very pleased with it. The waiter and assistant waiter at table 505 were outstanding! A few nights I wanted to attend the 9 pm dance parties, and the staff at table 505 made sure my dinner was out in time for me to join in on the fun (I did skip dessert those evenings). I just told them when I was seated and they took care of the rest! The Radiance public areas look very good. The wait staff in bars and lounges were excellent. I discovered Angela in the Champagne Bar who makes an outstanding personalized espresso martini, which I enjoyed pre-dinner each evening. Simon in the Schooners Bar took good care of me during trivia events. And the bartenders in the Colony Club and the Centrum Lobby Bar on dance party nights never disappointed. There was a 50s/60s dance party, a 70s dance party and an 80s dance party on this cruise. Also a Dancing with the Stripes dance contest, where passengers selected at random are paired with crew members and the onlookers vote on the winners. The presentation of the flags from all employee nations onboard is not to be missed in the Centrum the last afternoon at sea. The casino on this cruise was totally nonsmoking, so I played there a few nights. Overall, I was even on the slot machines and roulette table, but the casino was empty most nights. Friendly, competent group of employees, however. This was cruise #13 for me, on various lines and itineraries. I had a wonderful time on the Radiance as a solo traveler, but I didn’t come for the floating theme park experience found on larger vessels. I came for the fun and the companionship of Aussies and others. I would do it again in a heartbeat, but it’s an 18 hour flight from Dallas, Texas, and I’m from North Carolina, so it may be some time before I’m back. Getting off the ship was a breeze, as I had the KEY package with a special program for the last morning. My bags were tagged differently and waiting for me in a designated area when I disembarked after a KEY breakfast in the dining room. I was staying on in Sydney for more time Down Under, so I didn’t feel rushed and took my time getting off the ship. As an aside, after the cruise ended, I did return to New Zealand on my own to experience the Fiordlands National Park and Milford Sound. Spent the night in Milford Sound on a vessel and tour operated by Real Journeys out of Queenstown NZ. Excellent weather….worth every dollar! Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
The Radiance of the Seas is a lovely ship, there was plenty going on with trivia and activities. The choices of dining experience for lunch and dinner were up too the individual you had the choice of the Windjammer buffet a help yourself ... Read More
The Radiance of the Seas is a lovely ship, there was plenty going on with trivia and activities. The choices of dining experience for lunch and dinner were up too the individual you had the choice of the Windjammer buffet a help yourself with plenty of choices (although getting a seat could be somewhat difficult)or if you wanted something a little more special the Cascades main dining room did lunch with menu choices. There was plenty of entertainment and activities going on and you could do as much or as little as you wanted to do. The staff/crew were as always working hard and were very polite and friendly, they always seemed to find the time to have a little chat, and made you feel so special. The port days were good and some lovely places were on our itinerary, with the choices of booking a trip or Making your own way round. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2019
My friend and I both near 70 have just cruised from Sydney to Auckland for 10 nights and what a wonderful time we had. embarkation was very quick and we were onboard in about 35 minutes - the only queuing we did, disembarking took us even ... Read More
My friend and I both near 70 have just cruised from Sydney to Auckland for 10 nights and what a wonderful time we had. embarkation was very quick and we were onboard in about 35 minutes - the only queuing we did, disembarking took us even less time. All staff from the Captain to cleaners were very polite and would chat happily, were always attentive and nothing was too much trouble. The ship was great, comfortable, lovely big windows. The cabin was an inside one and while small, especially the shower, we had everything we needed. I am not sure I would have liked a room that size with more than two people though. We had all our meals in the Windjammer and certainly had nothing to complain about, plenty of choice. Our waiters got to know us and brought us drinks as soon as we sat down. Plenty of activities for everyone though we had gone to rest and relax so didn't take part in lots of things. I have to confess that I wasn't so impressed with the shows. A couple of comedians were quite crude and not appropriate for family shows. The dances and singers were good, as was the ventriloquist and hypnotist. My only real complaint was that everything that happened in the centrum was so loud you couldn't hold a conversation. We got off a tour bus one day that stopped a few hundred metres from the ship and you could hear the noise as soon as the bus doors opened. The ports were good and we did go ashore in Akaroa, Wellington and the Bay of Islands. Great sailing through the Fiordland sounds. We are both keen to go on another cruise and would certainly look at this ship first. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2018
Being our first cruise it did take a few days to settle in and 'get it'. Boarding in Sydney was a breeze and we were on board having lunch in under 30 minutes and our bags didn't take much longer to get to the room. ... Read More
Being our first cruise it did take a few days to settle in and 'get it'. Boarding in Sydney was a breeze and we were on board having lunch in under 30 minutes and our bags didn't take much longer to get to the room. The cruise was quite good. Pros included just about everything in NZ. Certainly a lovely destination. Wellington, Picton, Dunedin and Milford Sound were brilliant. The cruise buffet at the "Windjammer' café was very good (but a little crowded). A constantly varied menu with a good choice. I can't recall anything bad about eating there. The headline shows were very good as too the cruise Director, John Blair. He was extremely entertaining and so was his Neil Diamond tribute show. Cons were that the cruise was in reality, just like a floating RSL (which everyone said wasn't the case). The day revolves around eating and in the evening there are shows. The shows overall were quite ordinary (except for the headline performances of which there were only two). The main dining room was bad. The menu didn't really change from day 1. We had breakfast there three times. Each time we ordered a different breakfast combination and each time we got exactly the same breakfast? Other downsides were the small bathrooms, tiny showers, terrible TV choices, limited movie selections at the very tiny cinema (a tip is to get there an hour early for a seat). We had a cabin with a balcony towards the front starboard side on level 9 which provided us with shore views at every port which was nice. The shops were selling $100 watches from Costco for $700 and even with their so-called sale offering 75% discount, you were still getting ripped off. As it was our first cruise we can't really compare it to anything else but strangely enough, despite all the shortcomings, we quite enjoyed the experience but would probably try another cruise line for a better comparison. One last point, we booked through a company called Cruise1st and they were pretty ordinary. Great from a sales point of view but from there on, customer service was non-existent. We ended up going to Royal Caribbean US for a variation and they helped us. My advice would be to deal directly with the cruise line? Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2018
Radiance of the Seas 9 night cruise to NZ South Island 28 October 2018 This was our honeymoon cruise for myself, new bride and almost 2.5yr old toddler. I chose this cruise I have never done the South Island and have always wanted to ... Read More
Radiance of the Seas 9 night cruise to NZ South Island 28 October 2018 This was our honeymoon cruise for myself, new bride and almost 2.5yr old toddler. I chose this cruise I have never done the South Island and have always wanted to see the Sounds. This was my third time on Radiance. Embarkation was super smooth and quick. We had checked in and were on the ship within 15-20 mins. Our room was ready at 1pm as per usual. On this cruise we chose interior cabin which I am not overly used to as I like a Balcony however worked out great as it was so cold, rough and windy for most of the cruise that we never would have benefited. After leaving Sydney we encountered a low pressure system which we were stuck in for the next two sea days. Whilst it did not bother me in the slightest several guests remained in their cabins the first few days and I am told some even got off and flew home once we reached NZ. The top deck was closed most of the first two days as was the pools and promenade deck. To be honest the ship handled the swells very well which ranged between 6-10m at one point. Day 2 was the evening we had our first formal night and 70's night. My only grip was having a theme night on formal night as it meant getting dressed up twice. The 70's night was VERY tame as I think most passengers were suffering sea sickness and this was the night of the biggest swells. My wife and I seemed to be the only ones who went all out in our costumes. When we arrived closer to the NZ coast the weather improved which enabled us to enter Milford Sound which was AMAZING. It was also freezing cold. It was everything I had hoped. Doubtful Sound was also beautiful but even more cold and we even had light snow flurries. That night was Halloween and the turnout in the Centrum was huge. The ship was well decorated and many people got dressed up for the occasion. Again the Bride and I went all out and won a best dressed prize which was nice.....more alcohol. Our first real port was Dunedin. We wanted to do the Gorge train however it had already booked out unless you wanted to book thru the ship and I was not prepared to pay double the price of what you pay when you book direct with Dunedin Railway. Instead we chose to go on the Seasider which was a 90 minute trip along the coastline. The scenery was amazing and I highly recommend this trip. You can also book direct with Dunedin Railways. Day 6 saw us arrive in Wellington. We decided to stay on the ship and enjoy a bit of quietness plus arriving at 1pm and departing at 8pm did not offer much to do. Day 7 we arrived into Picton and wow it is a pretty little port. We took the Marlborough Flyer which is a 1903 built steam train up to Blenheim which is the heart of the Marlborough wine region. Rather than do any wine tours (remembering we had a toddler) we simply potted around town.That night we went to the Love and Marriage Game show as we put our little man in the nursery for the first time. The staff were great and he had them all to himself. For the 3 hours he was there it cost us $24 US which was worth every cent. Being on our Honeymoon we were selected to take part in the game show which was a real hoot and yet another prize of a bottle of wine. Day 8 was our first of two sea days heading back to Sydney. We again encountered rough swells and the pools and decks were closed but not as rough on the way over. This was also our second formal night followed by the Rock party which was a lot of fun and also attended by many. Day 9 was our last sea day and finally some calm seas. In terms of food we had the 3 specialty dining package and we ate at Chops which was superb as well as Samba Grille and Izumi which were also fantastic. We only ate in the MDR once as we found the food in Windjammer to be excellent and more than enough. To be honest we found our one meal in the MDR to be just average and even below the standard of Windjammer. Late night snacks such as pizza, pies and subs were all from the Solarium Cafe. We also ordered room serice one night which was excellent value and for a flat fee of $7.95 we ordered as much as we wanted and we did not hold back. The chicken tenders, quesadilla, burger and Philly cheese sub were all yum. We had the deluxe drinks package and on this cruise i tended to find that the drinks seemed to be far more watered down than previous cruises but nothing stopping you going back for more. We also purchased the streaming internet package and found it worked really well 99% of the time. Due to the little fella we did not really see any shows except Love and Marriage game show and the ventriloquist at the farewell party who was very very funny. The bands on the ship were great and the activities seemed fitting for the clientele although the timing of some things could have been better. In summary we had an amazing trip. Radiance may be approaching 20 years old but you would never know it. She is in beautiful condition throughout. All the staff we encountered were wonderful. I cannot think of one staff member who was not happy, friendly and polite. I would highly recommend this itinerary and ship if you are thinking of visiting the Sounds Read Less
Sail Date: September 2018
had previously cruises NZ with Radiance and found the cabin clean, food great and entertainment sufficiently good to balance out the cruise. We had any time dining but found the windjammer food different menus good to suit our taste and ... Read More
had previously cruises NZ with Radiance and found the cabin clean, food great and entertainment sufficiently good to balance out the cruise. We had any time dining but found the windjammer food different menus good to suit our taste and we had the drinks package so good morning coffee, fresh juice and cocktails by the pool were all good. The ship was late leaving Hawaii but the sailing was smooth virtually all the way until we reached Sydney. The pick of the shore excursions was bora bora although Moreau was also very cool and we swam amongst the rays and small sharks. The entertainment was mixed and I guess I was not a fan of the ships host (and hostess) forgotten their names but they seemed to not be very genuine or funny - they did their jobs but that was about it. Overall the variety of entertainers was good. overall a great cruise. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2018
Four seniors escaping from the Arizona heat to Vancouver on Sept. 6. Flew in 1 night early - our party of 2 - and stayed near the YVR airport at Ramada Inn as it had a free shuttle and free breakfast. Room was small but clean and quiet. ... Read More
Four seniors escaping from the Arizona heat to Vancouver on Sept. 6. Flew in 1 night early - our party of 2 - and stayed near the YVR airport at Ramada Inn as it had a free shuttle and free breakfast. Room was small but clean and quiet. On boarding day (9/7) we joined with another cruise couple at our hotel and split a cab to Canada Place. $36.30 + tip CDN. 30 minutes after arrival we were on board the ship - one of the fastest check ins and boardings ever for us. Kudos to the folks at the Vancouver Cruise Terminal and RCL. Staterooms available at 115 pm, departure on time at 515 pm. Our group of 4 had the 530 traditional dining each night in the MDR. THE CRUISE - 10 days total, 5 sea days then 5 Hawaii ports - Hilo on the big island, was replaced by Lahaina for 2 days. So Lahaina 2 days, Hana - 1 day, Kauai - 1 day with a drop at Honolulu on the final morning. Lahaina and Hana were both tenders so that is more of a challenge and problem to come and go. OUR CABIN - mid ship interior Deck 3 - good for the 5 sea days due to some 6 - 8 ft. swells. Room was quiet, clean in good shape, bed comfortable, room temp good and cold for sleeping. Attendant Elmer did an excellent job for us and was always pleasant. Flat screen TV with a good variety of cable channels and generally a good picture. SHIP CONDITION - Though one of the older ships, 2300 passengers and 13 decks, we found it in great shape and was kept clean. Plenty of friendly staff who did their job well. Captain Ryan - low profile but daily announcements at 12 noon with our status. With the 5 sea days we played lots of trivia - Hannah, James, Sophie were usually in charge - they were fun and entertaining. FELLOW PASSENGERS - a diverse group - mostly 60 and up but I would say 20% were 30 to 60 in age, some young families - approximately 80 children on board and a number of pre school. Always enjoy talking with people from all over the US and the world on these cruises. Everyone I spoke to was friendly and pleasant. SHOWS/ENTERTAINMENT - Cruise Director John Blair we liked and enjoyed but it appears RCL has decidedly cut this budget. We normally go to the evening show after dining. Some of the shows and entertainers were okay, many were just fair to mediocre. No WOW on the evening shows on this cruise, but at least it was easy to get a seat to attend. DINING - at every evening meal in the MDR at 530 pm. 2 formal nights - waiters - Salvador and Benny - fun to deal with, did their job well and made dinner a good time for all. Food selection always good, service always good, food quality normally good, pacing of meal good - not too slow - not too fast. Ate in 1 specialty restaurant, Giovanni’s for lunch - ½ the dinner price - great meal, great service, excellent meal and dessert. Total price including tip for 4 (no alcohol) was $75. The chocolate cake alone was worth the price of the meal. Had lunch 1 time in the dining room for a change - very good too. Normally did breakfast and lunch in the windjammer. We were happy there with the selection and taste, cleanliness, staff attitude and their job performance. Weakest item in the WJ was the desserts (we felt). Windjammer - additional comment - most every morning as I tried to enjoy my breakfast, usually at 7 AM, the very loud, hip hop music was blaring above our table, sometimes too loud to even have a conversation. Does anyone in the WJ management see who is eating breakfast at 7 AM ? I guess not or who is the music really for - the employees or the paying customers? This could be so much better for all these 60 year olds as they try to converse and enjoy their breakfast. There are so many good music choices that could be made for us to dine by. Perhaps a majority of instrumentals as a suggestion. Music like this is okay at lunch or dinner but please not at 7 AM - please look at this hard and address it. FITNESS CENTER - Did not use FAVORITE LOUNGE - the one on deck 13 - great for reading, chatting or playing games. MEDICAL UNIT - Unfortunately our friends had the chance to use the medical unit. She saw their 2 doctors and was very pleased with their treatment and handling of her problem. Also the nursing staff was very knowledgable. Only downside is charges go right on the sea pass - no insurance claims here, but even at that was not excessively priced. INTERNET - the fastest I’ve seen on a cruise ship. Offered 1 hour for $9.99 - worked for us. Big improvement here on rates and speed - at least on the Radiance. SLOTS - CASINO - 186 slot machines and 10 tables, mostly older machines but some new too. Some of the lowest minimum bet machines in abundance - many could be played for 10 to 30 cents a spin and I think an above average pay out for a cruise ship casino. We played every day but stuck to our budget - casino opened each day at 8 AM but once in Hawaiian waters the entire casino closed the last 5 days of our cruise. BINGO - like the slots - once in Hawaiian waters no more bingo so again that was for the last 5 days of the cruise. We usually do not play ship bingo feeling it is too expensive for the prizes and is way too short but we tried it this time. Buy in was $29 to $69 per player for 3 games on 4 of the sessions, 1 session was a cover all for 1 game only for $30. These 4 different days consisted of 3 games per session - first was a regular bingo, 2nd 4 corner bingo, 3rd the X. Bingo was hit very quickly, in some cases 4 or 5 numbers and that game was over on games 1 and 2. Took about 10 mins to play the 3 games and we were done. I urged them to do some longer games - I want more play for $29 minimum buying those 3 games. I feel if they brought the price down and did more lengthy games there would be more participation (and enjoyment) !! This suggestion fell on deaf ears. SEA DAY ACTIVITY - we felt this was a really weak point on this cruise - not much going on during the afternoon - how about some shows in the afternoon - the Serenade had them 1 year ago while on there. Just not enough going on to help fill those sea days. DRINK PRICES - the coca colas were $3.84 (including tip) and the alcohol seemed to start at $12 per drink + 18%. Far too expensive and little chance to buy a special or happy hour. As a result we did not buy 1 alcoholic drink this cruise. SUMMARY - Well we did kind of escape the Arizona heat for a short period. Most all of our Hawaii time on shore it was hot and humid - unusual according to the locals. 1 year ago we took the sister ship, the Serenade one way Copenhagen to Boston - that experience vs. this one is 180 degrees. The Serenade provided us with our worst MDR dining experience ever on RCL, from the wait staff, their attitude, food selection and delivery, dinner pacing, a challenge every night to dine. The entire atmosphere of that ship vs. the Radiance was entirely different - like the attitude of the staff wherever you went - so positive on the Radiance. I guess the overall experience is very ship specific. The only area we liked better on Serenade was they provided more to do on sea days, as that itinerary had 5 sea days as well. Friends did a Celebrity future booking while on board - the $100 each deposit program is still in place and nice to be able to book Celebrity and RCL while onboard. Just a few complaints from us as mentioned, otherwise very satisfied - this experience was what we expect of RCL as we cruise with them and why we continue to return. Read Less
10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2018
My wife and I began preparing for this cruise 5 years ago when we took our first Alaskan cruise for our 30th anniversary. We had so much fun, and it was so amazing, that we decided we'd do another for our 35th. And this time ... Read More
My wife and I began preparing for this cruise 5 years ago when we took our first Alaskan cruise for our 30th anniversary. We had so much fun, and it was so amazing, that we decided we'd do another for our 35th. And this time we'd do our own pre-cruise tour before sailing southbound. I would have preferred to sail earlier in the year this time, but as it turned out it was the same timeframe as the first one, which meant we were cruising over our anniversary again. So that was fine. We arrived in Anchorage on Sunday the 26th. Unfortunately, Delta had fun with our flights a few times and our original 12:30pm arrival ended up being 3pm. With a delay in landing and then waiting for the hotel shuttle, we didn't arrive to the Lakefront Anchorage until about 4pm. Only 15 hours after we had gotten up! Somehow we managed to stay awake until dinner time and we went for a short walk around the area and the lake with all its float planes. But that was the end of Sunday. On Monday we headed for Denali National Park. We made a few stops on the way for some supplies, and we also visited the Earthquake Park. It's always interesting to see something that I've read about in the History books. That Good Friday earthquake in 1964 was something else.. We spent 3 nights at Carlo Creek Lodges in one of their private cabins with a private bathroom. The cabin was cozy, and the bathroom even more so, but it was clean, comfortable and only $124/night. The location was very nice, about 15 minutes south of the park entrance. Fortunately, we had a chance to see Mt. Denalij on our drive up to the Park. Tuesday we took the hop-on/hop-off bus into Denali. The weather was not great, with scatterings of sun, rain, fog, low clouds, etc, so we didn't do any hopping off, hopping on. Wednesday was great weather when we went to the park again This time we started the morning off climbing Mt. Healy. And then it rained as we got within the last mile of the overlook, so we came back down. We went to the Dog Sled Camp later, when the sun was back out. Thursday we drove back to Anchorage. It was a rainy drive, but when we got to Anchorage the rain stopped and we got to explore more of Anchorage. We did some shopping for souvenirs. TIP- we found stuff up in Denali area just as cheap as in Anchorage, so you don't need to panic.. This time we stayed at the Clarion Suites as they had a shuttle to the train station. They take your name for it, but someone we were overbooked. Not sure how that happened, but we got everyone to the station on time. The train ride to Seward was so much fun, and the scenery was great. We paid for the upgraded Gold Star service. The breakfast was great and the dome car was so nice to really see things It helped me spot a family of 3 moose for all to see! We met some great people on the train. As it turned out, the couple seated behind us on the train, was our next door neighbor on the cruise. When we got to Seward, we stopped at Alaska Seafood Grill for some lunch. The chowder in a bread bowl is excellent! We had reservations with Body Abode for massages before the cruise. With arrival around 11, finding lunch, walking to our massages and all that, it was 2-2:30 when we arrived at embarkation. This was the first time that we were the ONLY people in line to check in. It was surreal and, as you might expect, really quick. Best boarding ever. The ship was clean and seemed well maintained. We enjoyed it alot. The Solarium is one of the best I've seen on RC and I've 9 of the ships so far. The Park Cafe was also nice, we ate their a couple of times. We split our time between the MDR and the Windjammer. The only bad time we had though was one of the last nights in the Main Dining room. Our service was just awful. It was the first time ever in the MDR that we had bad service over 10 cruises. It seemed like our waiter and asst waiter were too busy with one of the tables near us to even bother to make sure we had water. In fact, one of the couples at our table asked for water, and they got it. But the other 4 of us didn't, and my wife's glass was pretty much dry. We then had to ask the head waiter for water for the rest of us. (And I must say that the head waiter never actually introduced herself to us at all). They were slow on bringing us our food, especially our desserts. I've never complained before, but we did that night. One of the other couples actually told us that they pulled their pre paid tips from the wait staff. That might have been a little extreme but it was frustrating. The Hubbard Glacier is amazing. We got to within a half mile that day, and we able to see some nice calving. Then they came around with hot chocolate which we could add Baileys to, and that really hit the spot. Man, was it cold there! At Juneau, our only excursion was the twilight whale watch, so we explored Juneau on our own. We walked on the Seawalk to the new Whale fountain. We wanted to eat at Tracy's but the line was sooooo long. We went to Pier 49 and while the food was good, the wait was too long. Especially when people who ordered after us got served before us. Way before us. I would not recommend them. In Skagway we did the Bike ride down the mountain. We weren't able to book the one including the White Pass Railroad, but the ride was fun anyway. Plus we saved about $150. We also visited the local museum and we had lunch at Northern Lights pizza for burgers. Very good. And not an arm and a leg! The only about this soundbouth cruise is that all stops are one right after the other. That makes for some busy days. I would love a Sea Day in the middle to break it up, but that's probably not gonna happen. Icy straight Point is a Hoonah village and I've read where some people don't like it. I think it's great to see how the locals live and to share that experience. Not everything can be packaged and sold to lazy consumers. We just did a hike with a local and it was great. We learned a lot. It 's a nice island. Maybe next time we'll do something else. And finally in Ketchikan, we didn't do any excursions. In the morning it was raining, go Figure, so we walked to Creek Street, went up Married Man's way and saw the Fish Ladder. We went by some shops and we even bought some smoked salmon to send home. Later on, the rain stopped and the sun came out, so we went back to the fish ladder, and explored the city more. We went by Creek street again. We had a late lunch at the Alaska Fish House. seating was limited so we shared a table with a couple who turned out to be the owners of the Crab Fisherman's Experience shore excursion. Yeah, we were eating at a place the locals eat at. My wife had the chowder and I had the halibut fish and chips. I don't even remember the last day at sea, but I think it involved sleeping, reading, hot tubs and eating. When we got to Vancouver, we spent the day there, as we had a train to Seattle at 4:45pm. We went to Stanley Park and visited the aquarium there as well as walking around the flower garden. We spent time along the harbor as well enjoying the float planes. In Seattle we stayed at the Belltown. It was a nice hotel and located near some nice dining. On Saturday, we explored a bit of Seattle. We checked out the sculpture park, and visited Pike's Market again. (We had visited Seattle 5 yrs ago so all the regular tourist spots were already visited). We did go on the Locks Cruise and saw the Sleepless in Seattle houseboat. Our flight home wasn't until 12:30am, but after a nice pizza dinner at Zeeks pizza. Read Less
11 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2018
The bottom line is that we loved Alaska, loved our cruisetour, and loved the Radiance. It was a fabulous vacation! Because I was dealing with a first time cruiser and two elderly people, I wanted everything to be as easy as possible so ... Read More
The bottom line is that we loved Alaska, loved our cruisetour, and loved the Radiance. It was a fabulous vacation! Because I was dealing with a first time cruiser and two elderly people, I wanted everything to be as easy as possible so we chose to do a pre-cruise tour with Royal Caribbean (the 1B Wildlife Express). And I'm not gonna lie, it was a great choice! Everything ran smoothly, we had great weather, a wonderful guide and driver and there was nothing I could fault. Getting there was rough (hello 2am) so I definitely recommend going in a day before the day before (we had some folks who didn't join us until Denali!). Arrival and getting to our hotel could have been better and I blame RC for not communicating with us what we needed to do even though we specifically told them we were arriving the day before. Luckily the local folks who work for the other cruise lines (and maybe RC?) were extremely helpful and got us to our hotel relatively quickly. The Anchorage Marriott is a beautiful hotel in downtown and within walking distance to pretty much everything, but wi-fi is not included and the options for food and drink are limited. Luckily, so many better options are within walking distance. I do think there are better values to be found, especially if you opt for something outside of downtown. For us, I'm glad it was part of the package. We ate a late lunch on the patio at the 49th State Brewery. The food and drink were plentiful and very good and the view was fabulous! After meeting our tour guide and getting the scoop on our land tour, we did a mini pub crawl hitting two nearby places, both of which were worth the stop. Humpy's Great Alaskan Alehouse had a Belgian flight with good beers and tasty appetizers. We then went across the street to Williwaw Social to sit on the top deck and watch the sun go down. The next morning we boarded a large, chartered bus and set off. I think there were about 20 of us altogether, so it didn't feel so much like being in a herd. I'm really glad we started with the bus and then got to board the train in the middle instead of the other way around. The Wilderness Express train ride was a highlight with a bright sunny day. It was almost hot in the upper deck with all that glass warmed by so much sun. We definitely got to take the "better half" of the train ride, from Talkeetna to Denali instead of from Anchorage to Talkeetna. And it was gorgeous scenery. Breathtaking. Eating lunch on the train was a plus. In Denali Park Village we were put up in the Miner's Village in relatively new rooms. Great location in the large complex. Then we opted for an excursion to visit sled dogs. The RCI tour took us to Jeff King's place and it was informative and fun. Who doesn't love active, happy puppies and dogs? The next morning was the trip into Denali itself. It was raining, but that didn't lesson our enjoyment of it, especially as it wasn't overly cold. The half day tour was plenty since the Denali buses are pretty much basic school buses and my parents really didn't need to ride for eight hours on one of those. Then we were back on our charter bus and headed back down. We stopped in Talkeetna to stay at the Talkeetna Alaskan Lodge which was beautiful. It's a wooden lodge with a huge indoor fireplace and large outdoor terrace with a breathtaking view. The town of Talkeetna is tiny and unique. We had one of the best meals I've ever eaten at Wildflower and I managed a very rapid shopping stop. Then we enjoyed the rest of the evening watching the sunset from the lodge. Wonderful! The next day was a fairly long bus ride from Talkeetna all the way to Seward to embark on the ship, but it was broken up with an early lunch stop in Anchorage and then a visit to the Wildlife Conservation Center which was the only place we could see bears and moose up close. Worth a stop! Embarkation was smooth and quick. Because it was already after 4pm, our rooms were ready and most of our bags had already arrived. My parents were in a balcony while my brother and I were in an inside cabin. Because I'd been on two of the Radiance's sister ships, I knew what to expect and nothing was jarring. We had anytime dining, but requested the same table every night as the service and attention we received was outstanding. We all enjoyed every meal there. I know the radiance class ships don't have all the "activities" that the larger ships do, but there's something about this class of ship that, to me, makes it almost perfect. It manages to be completely full yet never feels crowded or hemmed in. It's definitely "sea" focused with most everything having views of the water. And the service just seems to be that little bit friendlier and attentive. The Radiance's itinerary and size made it perfect for Alaska. The ports were the reason we were there, so I don't have that much to say about the on board entertainment. The disco was dead every night and a couple of the broadway style shows were so-so. I didn't really like the comedian at all. The jugglers/comedians were funny. We had nice long days at every port. And I noticed that other cruise lines would be there and gone while we still had hours to explore. That's why we came to Alaska and this itinerary really delivered. We had an incredible day to see Hubbard Glacier. It was sunny and relatively warm and we were so very close to the glacier. It was so cool to see it calving. In Juneau we took a Harv & Marv's whale watching excursion and had a fabulous day on the water. It was sunny and mild and it was a delight to see the whales and sea lions all while surrounded by mountains, sky, water, and even views of few glaciers. Then we had to eat at Tracy's King Crab Shack! It was amazing and an experience worth standing in line for. Lastly we took the tramway up the mountain to see the views. All in all, Juneau was a great first stop, with twelve hours in port and incredible weather. Skagway was the next stop and we did a Chilkoot Rail tour. We opted to take the train down so had a "short bus" on the way up. It was nice to be in a smaller group. We could stop more often and didn't have to dodge crowds for photos. Again we had incredible weather, a sunny warm day, and the train ride down was breathtaking. Plus, because it was the end of the season we made out like a bandit on souvenirs. The town itself has a lot of character with a lot of old buildings preserved for the tourists. In Icy Strait Point, the day started foggy and drizzly, but it all burned off into another beautiful day. We did a ship tour which was informative about the local culture and entertaining. This was an early departure, especially compared to any other port, but we still had plenty of time to see what we wanted to. The port was especially nice since they had these little extended golf cart shuttles for those who needed extra help getting into the port proper (which is a bit of a walk). Last port was Ketchikan and rain. But it dried out and the Saxman village was interesting and it was great to learn about the totem poles and Tlingit culture. We spoke to a famous carver a little bit before shopping, which was a great place to get Native souvenirs. Lastly, Vancouver Port was the nicest, most efficient port I've ever arrived in. Seriously, we were off the ship, turned to our left and there were our bags. A porter arrived a minute later and the next thing I knew we were loaded onto the bus for the airport! All in all it was worth every penny. Everyone had a great time and we'd definitely do it again. Read Less
Radiance of the Seas Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 0.0
Dining 4.0 0.0
Entertainment 4.0 0.0
Public Rooms 4.0 0.0
Fitness Recreation 4.5 0.0
Family 4.0 0.0
Shore Excursion 3.5 0.0
Enrichment 2.0 0.0
Service 4.5 0.0
Value For Money 4.5 0.0
Rates N/A 0.0

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