309 Royal Caribbean Radiance of the Seas Cruise Reviews

I traveled with my husband and my parents on the 3-5-06 Radiance of the Seas sailing to the Western Caribbean. Checking in was the easiest and quickest I have ever experienced on any cruise line. Dont leave home without registering ... Read More
I traveled with my husband and my parents on the 3-5-06 Radiance of the Seas sailing to the Western Caribbean. Checking in was the easiest and quickest I have ever experienced on any cruise line. Dont leave home without registering online. You need to complete the online registration 24 hours before departure. Remember to print out your Sea Pass. Youll need your Passport (ID), and Credit Card upon check-in. Once youre on board, take time to explore the ship. Buffet lunch is served until 3:00pm in the Windjammer Cafe on Deck 11. Staff Captain Hernan Zini runs a tight ship. He is extremely friendly and approachable. My father looked away while posing with my mom and the Captain during the welcome reception. My mother was quite upset, and when I explained this to Captain Zini, he posed with them again during the Crown & Anchor Welcome Aboard Party so I could take another picture. Peter, our Cruise Director, made the cruise extremely enjoyable. The staff was friendly and professional  Guest relations, Head Waiter, Our Waiter Basilio, our Assistant Waiter, Victor, our Room Steward Sharon, Windjammer Cafe personnel  everyone seemed to have a smile and their face and never too busy to greet or help us. I compare the staff to other cruise lines/ships, and I must say they were outstanding. Ship -- The Radiance of the Seas, the oldest of the 4 ships comprising the Radiance family, is a nice ship. However, it is showing wear, and RCCL should consider refurbishing it soon. Although the staff was diligently working around the clock, the carpeting in the public areas and rooms looked extremely worn. The furniture in my parents room was extremely scratched, faded, and worn  even the toilet seat in my room was chipped and worn. Activities -- Since this cruise only had 2 sea days, we couldnt enjoy all the activities. Whether youre interested in spinning, spa treatments, basketball, bingo, theres always something to do. One of my favorite parts of the cruise is the pictures. Besides the traditional Formal Portraits, dont miss the Freestyle Black & White Portraits. Youll want to take them all home with you. Entertainment -- The Royal Caribbean Singers & Dancers had 2 productions  Piano Man and City of Dreams, the latter being the most extravagant productions I have seen on RCCL cruises. I was pleasantly surprised to see BeatleMania Live. This was definitely the highlight of all nights. My husband and I had previously seen them in Ft. Lauderdale, and thoroughly enjoyed seeing them again. The weakest show was Hal Frazier. He definitely is talented, but seemed disoriented and rattled on in his monologue portion of the show. Santino & Blackjax (live band) was amazing. He had everyone on their feet in the Centrum. Rosario Strings, Lorenzo Dino, Serenade Trio, and Tom Scott all made the cruise enjoyable. Food -- The Windjammer Cafes breakfast was very good. The omelette station chefs were great! I had my eggs over medium every morning, and there were plenty of accompaniments to choose from  cereal bar, fresh fruit, yogurt, breads, cold cuts, pancakes, waffles, hash browns, etc. Lunch and dinner were average  probably a bit better than regular buffet food. The barbecue lunch buffet in Labadee was lacking. Dark meat  chicken legs  was the only cut available. The hamburgers had been cooked earlier on the ship, so they were dry. The pavilion was poorly positioned  too far from the main entrance. Dinner in the Cascades Dining Room was good, but not great. I cant say it was any better or worse than any other RCCL, Carnival, or NCL cruise Ive been on. I cannot comment on Specialty Dining. Ports of Call Labadee, Haiti -- Labadee is on a peninsula on the north coast of Hispaniola, otherwise known as Haiti. Royal Caribbean has cordoned off a remote portion of this island, and the totally safe and private compound provides guests an opportunity to experience the beauty of this region. Youll find most of the information you need at the following link: http://www.caribbeanportreviews.com/Labadee.htm Georgetown, Grand Cayman -- Grand Cayman is a relatively small island that is modern in every way. With over 500 banks and hundreds of insurance companies located in the Cayman Islands, it is the fifth largest economy in the world. Besides its economic activities, Grand Cayman offers fabulous beaches, excellent duty free shopping and plenty to do. This is a tender port. The tenders leave you right in the middle of downtown. I found the best shops to be the ones closest to the pier. After shopping in downtown, we took the $5.00 (per person) taxi to SeaGrape Beach which is part of 7 mile beach. Beautiful clear aquamarine water. White powdery sand. Bar and changing facilities just feet away from the water. Plenty of aqua sports right on the shore. Absolutely amazing. http://www.caribbeanportreviews.com/GrandCayman.htm Ocho Rios, Jamaica -- Ocho Rios is a medium sized town with all the flavor of Jamaica. It offers a gateway to sightseeing, shopping and a good look into the Jamaican culture. To experience the Jamaican culture I used Marva Shaw. She was an excellent guide that catered to my fathers limitations. After stopping right by Dunn's River Falls for a look at the crowd climbing the falls, we went through the Fern Gulley, made a stop in Spice Valley and tasted some of the native fruits and spices, and then took a tour of Coyaba River Gardens with Happy. Happy was the most knowledgeable guide I have ever had. The word coyaba comes from the Arawak name for paradise. Coyaba is a Spanish-style museum with a river and gardens filled with native flora, a cut-stone courtyard, fountains, and a crafts shop and bar. If you visit Coyaba River Gardens, please be sure to request him. Be sure to ask for the tour that includes Mahoe Falls. We paid $10.00 per person. After a swim in the falls, hunger kicked in, and we ended the tour with a wonderful Jamaican lunch at The Ranch. Marva arranged everything. The food was great. 5 of us ate jerk chicken, had a juice or Red Stripe, and the bill was $53.00. For more information on Marvas tours, please visit www.knowjamaica.com. Youll be happy that you did. Suggestion -- Please remember to get change before you get off the ship. It will be a lot easier if you have exact change with smaller denomination bills. Vendors can be very, very persistent, and you will find them at every stop. If you have a few souvenirs to purchase, pace yourself so youre able to help multiple vendors. Remember to be friendly and respectful and you will have a great time. http://www.caribbeanportreviews.com/OchoRiosJamaica.htm Cozumel, Mexico -- Cozumel is a small island off the east coast of Mexico in the Caribbean Sea. Although it was hit really hard with last years hurricanes, the locals worked extremely hard to get the island ready for visitors. It is the proverbial fishing village in paradise with all of the creature comforts that anyone could want. If you go to Discover Shopping Show, youll get lots of information and advice. Plus, youll get a voucher for a taxi ride to The Forum. Youll have great shopping and can work yourself down the street. After lunch, we took a $12 cab to Paradise Beach. The sea was rough that day and the beach was not particularly good for swimming, but I understand the beach is usually beautiful. http://www.caribbeanportreviews.com/Cozumel.htm Read Less
Sail Date March 2006
We have been looking forward to this cruise for over a year. It was myself, my DH, my Brother and a girlfriend. Our cruise dates were December 4 - 11, 2005. We arrived in Miami on Saturday, December 3rd. We stayed at the Hyatt Regency ... Read More
We have been looking forward to this cruise for over a year. It was myself, my DH, my Brother and a girlfriend. Our cruise dates were December 4 - 11, 2005. We arrived in Miami on Saturday, December 3rd. We stayed at the Hyatt Regency (excellent). We did our air on our own, and did the hotel via Priceline. We arrived in Miami about 3:00pm, checked-in and then went to Bayside. We walked and had dinner at Bubba Gump Restaurant (very nice). We woke up on cruise morning about 8:30am, had breakfast and took a taxi to the port around 12:30pm. Embarkation was excellent. The ship is absolutely beautiful. Our cabin was ready at 1:00pm. We stayed in 9094 (Superior balcony room), very close to the elevators. Excellent room. My Brother and my GF were in 9096, a connecting room. We asked the stateroom attendant to open the inside door. When I got on the ship my H noticed that I did not have our camcorder any longer. He gave it to me while checking in at RC. I went immediately to Guest Relations to see if anyone turned it in, they said no, and to check periodically, which I did for the first 2 days, what a bummer. The Guest Relations staff was very nonchalant. While I take full responsibility, I would have hoped for better customer service. They said they would email the port to see if I left it there, and I never heard anything back. I thought a call to my stateroom saying that they hadn't received word back, or go to hell, or anything would be better than nothing. I also went to Guest Relations about American Airlines being at the port. They said that they knew nothing about it. American Airlines is at the port, and we were able to get our tickets and check our luggage there. Needless to say, I was not pleased with Guest Relations. They had a very "don't bother me" attitude. When I was on the Mariner, they went out of there way to be helpful. The dining experience was wonderful. Our waiter (Karoly) and Assistant waiter (Pablo) were very nice. Pablo was new, so he would forget things, but he was very sweet, and we had no problems in giving him reminders. The food was great in the dining room. My GF and I went to the Murder Mystery on Wednesday at Portofinos. It was not worth $49.50. The food was excellent at Portofinos. The play should be free. Would not do that again. We stayed at the Seaview Cafe and Windjammer. The Windjammer was mediocre to good. The seaview was very good. We never went to the Solarium Cafe. The casino staff was excellent, very polite, and a lot of fun. Our stateroom attendant was nice but, he seemed to also want to hurry us up, or not have time for questions. For example, I purchased alcohol in St. Thomas, the liquor store told me to contact our stateroom attendant at 7:30pm that evening to make certain that it was delivered to the ship. I called at 7:30pm to ask, and before I got the question out, he said, "no alcohol is allowed in the room, call Guest Relations". I knew the alcohol would be delivered to us before we departed the ship, I just felt rushed, as though he was too busy to even listen to my question. I called Guest Relations, and got the same response until I firmed up and said, "please let me ask the question first." I just want to be sure it made it on the ship, I don't want it in the room. Our attendant got better as the week progressed. Not our best, but he turned out pretty nice. The Ports of call were CocoCay (nice), St. Thomas (nice), and St. Maarten (really nice). I did most of my shopping in St. Maarten. I enjoyed all three. The ship also stopped in St. Croix to refuel. We could get off the ship, but it was during the Murder Mystery so we didn't. Overall, my vacation was fabulous. The Cruise Director was very nice however, his staff was not very approachable. I got the impression, whether right or wrong, that this was a first cruise for many (CD staff, Assist. Waiter, Stateroom Attendant, Guest Relations personnel) I have sailed with RC 3 times and by far this was my least favorite, but it was still a great cruise. They are normally so superb that any slight problem, becomes huge. I would highly recommend this ship to anyone, all of the problems that I experienced could be fixed with experience and better customer service training. I will more than likely pick Voyager class ships from now on, but, I would not totally be against the radiance class. I had a wonderful time, and I hope that if you have a cruise coming up, that you have a great time as well. Read Less
Sail Date December 2005
We were on the Radiance for the November 6, 2005 Eastern Caribbean sailing with the Cruise Critic's Radiance of the Seas NUTZ group. The group had some extensive cruisers. We were in the minority with this being my third cruise and my ... Read More
We were on the Radiance for the November 6, 2005 Eastern Caribbean sailing with the Cruise Critic's Radiance of the Seas NUTZ group. The group had some extensive cruisers. We were in the minority with this being my third cruise and my Wife's fourth. The Radiance is a beautiful ship. The extensive glass has been written about along with the glass elevators that face inside or outside. She is a very open ship appointed with beautiful artwork, but she is starting to show her age for one so young. We are told she will be going into dry dock for refitting next February. Dining -- We ate in the main dining room for all but one Dinner. The Cascades is beautiful and the service we received surpassed our expectations. We are not fancy eaters but I like to try new dishes while on a cruise. I must say everything I had was very good to the taste and pleasing to the eye. The Windjammer received most of our dining time. The food was good and there was a large selection. The layout of the Windjammer leads to an easy dining experience. The service there was wonderful. After getting your food and sitting down you were soon approached by an attendant asking if there was anything you desired. Once in between their visits I had run out of coffee and got up to get more. The attendant not assigned to our table saw me and would not allow me to get it myself. He was insistent on serving me. We were very impressed with all of the staff dealing with food service. As the food and service was so good in the Cascades and the Windjammer we saw no reason to go the specialty restaurants. We understand they were very good though. Stateroom -- We had a wonderful Junior Suite located on the back of the ship. This was a great location as the deck was very large and the winds were not strong when underway. This stateroom had a real walk-in closet and more than enough storage room. The bathroom was showing it's age with pieces of chrome missing off the mirrors and the bolt covers for the toilet were missing as well. Speaking of the bathroom we were very surprised of the lack of toiletries offered. In every other Jr. Suite we have been in, there were different soaps, shampoos and on Grandeur we received shower scrunches for use in addition to washcloths. Nothing like that was available. Not even a shower cap. Our cabin attendant gave us everything we asked for and was very friendly. He didn't offer extras though. An example was on the first formal night my wife used the last tissue for her makeup. Lucky she didn't need any more because there was no extra box. There was no extra roll of toilet paper -- we ran out but at least that time there were plenty of tissues. The customer should never run out of anything. Great room but we were disappointed with the amenities. Entertainment -- We saw two shows on this cruise. One was provided by the Radiance Singers and Dancers and was very good. We also enjoyed the celebrity show. That said I feel RCCL needs to have a well-known name for their celebrity shows. Although the entertainer's act was good and enjoyable, his only claim to fame is singing the song for the Happy Days show. It is not that the show wasn't good, it was but I feel the celebrity in the Celebrity Headliner Show would be someone that at least a fourth of the ship's guest would know his/her name. The entertainment in the Schooner Lounge was a pianist or a pianist/singer. After leaving the Grandeur this March, a comparison could not be helped. The Grandeur had Bing, a pianist/singer and Major Handy, a do everything musically entertainer. If you rate these entertainers on a scale of one to five, the Grandeur Schooner would get a five and the Radiance Schooner would receive a two. The service and drinks were excellent though. The entertainment poolside was good. The drinks were unpredictable. One "drink of the day" was so bad I had to throw it out. The service poolside was the worst I have ever seen on a RCCL ship. The servers were almost non-existent in the bar area. The one time I did see them they blew by me. Since I determined the only way to get a drink poolside was to fight through the crowd at the bar I didn't frequent this location. SPA services -- The wife had an expensive facial done. The facial was very good for her but she felt rushed. Even though she bought additional creams (guys you know these aren't cheap) she felt that they couldn't wait to get her out to start on the next appointment. Very unnerving for what was suppose to be a relaxing time. Colony Club -- This is a nice place. The entertainment was usually good and this is the location for Quest. Don't miss it. The pool tables are flat out amazing. If you are a pool fan you must try this. You have no idea the ship is moving as much as it is until you watch the tables. Remember to check the red light during a pool tournament. If it is on, the table is not working and you find out quickly why these tables are so special. The tables are not level and as predictable as the ocean if the red light is on. Otherwise it is an unusual feeling playing on a table that is level but you move up and down. St. Thomas -- St. Thomas is a beautiful island and has shopping. We have not had the pleasure of shopping there even though this is our second visit. During the first visit we were on two shore excursions, as we knew there were things we wanted at St. Maarten. This time the Immigration rules have changed. Although the Radiance crew stated they were in the hands of the US Immigration officials, they share in the worst experience we have ever had on a RCCL ship. We got up extra early as we were told that US citizens would now have to go through immigration proceedings. This was not the case before. We had to be there early as we had an early shore excursion so we have time to enjoy shopping St Thomas. The day started when we arrived at the Windjammer for a continental breakfast as the main Windjammer restaurant was not open yet. The continental breakfast had only donuts with white icing. The had plenty of hot water, tea bags and sugar for my Wife's tea but nothing to stir it with. I was noting all this when I went for coffee. It is all I really needed. The coffee was out and it was going to take 15 minutes to brew more. As we were storming out the Windjammer opened 10 minutes early. We were able to dash in and eat before making it to a long line already formed for immigration. When the Immigration officials got there the line moved fairly quickly. Our sea-passes were marked and we told to go through the door to the outside deck. Once outside on deck 5 we followed the line, as there was no Radiance crew seen. The line led back to the Centrum where we clashed with the non-American guests who were trying to work their way through their own line. I reasoned we had to get to deck 2 to get off the ship and tried the elevators. Either they were not working or I could not see them because of the huge crowd that was gathering. My Wife found the first Radiance crew member standing in the middle of this huge gathering crowd. She was doing all she could but needed help in the worst way. She told us to get to deck 2. We took the stairs but instead of getting off the ship, we got in a line to get off the ship. After waiting awhile, I walked to the front of the line and a guest informed me that the ship had not been cleared for port. It is now 5 minutes from the time we were to meet for the shore excursion. The crowed quickly grew and the line snaked all the way to the crew's quarters and back, and then started backing up the stairs. There was no Radiance crew to let us know what was going on. When the gates opened it was pure bedlam getting off and the lines had been destroyed by the amount of people. We met our group almost an hour late, which meant the tour took an hour later so by the time we got back to the dock there was no time to shop. Now I understand that the Radiance could not do anything until Immigration cleared the ship. It is possible that the Radiance may have been responsible for the delay though. My main concern was for the lack of a coordinated effort to move these people where they needed to go. Had the Radiance saw fit to inform the people of the delay and the cause of the delay, people would not have been so frustrated. This is the worst thing I have ever been through because it showed a total lack of concern from the Radiance management for their guests. Entering and Leaving -- Boarding the ship was rather long but went without a hitch. Leaving the ship was an entirely different matter. We were assigned gray tags as our flight was leaving at 1:43. We were instructed to go to the Colony Club and wait for the color to be called. Problem is no announcements could be heard there. The speakers were not working. We moved to the Champagne Bar where we could hear. The colors were to be called in order but we heard red called. This concerned us as red were flights leaving at 3PM. Again, there was no communication by the Radiance. I asked one officer and was told gray must have been called as they always go in order. I went to where the line was forming and found another officer. He stated that was not the case. It had to do with when the carrousels were cleared and red's carrousel cleared before grays. Makes perfect sense but instead of having all these people upset, why not make a simple announcement. All the people around me were very upset wondering what had happened and were they forgotten. I told the officer about the speakers in the Colony Club and he sent a technician there. I spoke to an elderly lady while we were walking out and she was very upset. She said she saw the technician walk in and look around the walked out. Once off the ship the process was very smooth. Meet and Mingle -- The meet and mingle was great fun as this group started the thread in August 2004. We didn't get on the thread until March 2005. This group named themselves the ROS NUTZ and had planned multiple activities onboard. Most fun you can have with your clothes on. The Radiance participation in the M&M seemed lacking. The web site showed the M&M for Wednesday. The ship's schedule called for it on Tuesday catching a lot of people off guard. About twenty people were able to attend out of the 45 that signed up. Part of the reason was because of the switch. There was no Radiance officer present and although the Administrative Assistant's job is a hard one, we expected an Officer from the Radiance. It felt as though the Radiance crew went through the motions and left ASAP. The NUTZ provided their fun though so the time was not wasted. Summary -- The Radiance is a fine ship. The February refit should take care of her worn furniture and carpets, especially in the Windjammer. The crew is friendly and desires to make your stay onboard pleasing. Continuing with that, the Radiance singers and dancers worked really hard and put on a good show. The Celebrity Headliner although good should be a recognizable name. The Schooner entertainers need to play as background music. They are not good enough for anything else. The Radiance management needs to solve the problems with the immigration process and greatly improve their communication with their passengers. We booked on board this same ship through the Panama Canal. We are staying away from the suite and lowering our expectations of the ship and crew. If we are unable to do that we will reschedule that booking for a better ship. Read Less
Sail Date November 2005
This was our second RCI cruise this year, and it reinforces my option that RCI offers the best mid-tier cruising option for the family. The ship was classy and well laid out, and offered everything for my entire group (kids and adults!). ... Read More
This was our second RCI cruise this year, and it reinforces my option that RCI offers the best mid-tier cruising option for the family. The ship was classy and well laid out, and offered everything for my entire group (kids and adults!). This ship was not designed to entirely serve the warm weather ports, so deck space for sunning can get a little competitive at times. Otherwise, we really liked her. We had a balcony cabin on deck nine aft, while the children (son 8, daughter 6) shared a cabin across the hall. We employed a set of baby monitors to keep in constant contact. We prefer that option to having them in an adjoining balcony cabin...cheaper and safer in our opinion. The food was consistently good in all areas and we tried just about every venue. I think the food on the Mariner of the Seas (we sailed in June) was just a bit better, but not by much. RCI has still delivered a better dining experience than the other mid-tier cruise lines we've experienced (Disney and NCL). One issue though is the availability of pizza and snacks at "fringe" times - late afternoon or late evening. It just isn't there. Oddly, too, the pizza station is parked in the adult solarium, which makes it difficult for kids to get the pizza they want throughout the day. We also ate at the added charge venue Portofino and it was an outstanding meal. The dining service was quite good and the staff was generally attentive throughout the ship. Our cabin steward was the best we have ever had on any ship. Nothing in this area disappointed. Our kids loved the club activities, although I still question the club closing twice a day for a couple of hours like they do. It makes it difficult to schedule the day. Staff was great though and our kids had a wonderful time. We took advantage of the putting green, climbing wall, pools, etc. All were just fine, although, again, it seems odd that the kids slide is open for 4 hours total during each day...what a waste of a ship's amenities to only be open for a short time each day. We did not go to any shows, but we did enjoy the lounges and casino. The spa and gym were also great. We had a great time overall...any cruise is better than no cruise at all! Read Less
Sail Date November 2005
WEST COAST REPOSITIONING CRUISE SAN DIEGO TO VANCOUVER, B.C. ROYAL CARIBBEAN CRUISE LINES - RADIANCE OF THE SEAS MAY 1-7, 2005 My name is Phil Haggerty and my wife is Edith Goble. I am a retired city attorney and Edith is a homemaker and ... Read More
WEST COAST REPOSITIONING CRUISE SAN DIEGO TO VANCOUVER, B.C. ROYAL CARIBBEAN CRUISE LINES - RADIANCE OF THE SEAS MAY 1-7, 2005 My name is Phil Haggerty and my wife is Edith Goble. I am a retired city attorney and Edith is a homemaker and former health services provider. We live in Phoenix, Arizona and this would be our 16th cruise. Our prior sailings have been on Carnival's Elation to the Mexican Riviera; on the now defunct Commodore Line's Enchanted Isle to the Caribbean for 11 days; a 7 day cruise, also in the Caribbean on Celebrity's Galaxy; followed by a marvelous cruise from Santiago to Buenos Aires on Mercury, also a Celebrity vessel. We then did our Alaskan cruise on Sun Princess, followed by another 7 day Caribbean trip aboard Norwegian Sun and a trans-canal on Celebrity's Infinity. We then sailed on Millennium for a Mediterranean cruise in May 2003, followed by a Baltic cruise tour on Regal Princess later that year. We then went to Hawaii for the first time on Infinity in November 2003 and did our first HAL on Veendam in the Caribbean the next spring. In March 2004 we took Galaxy from Baltimore to Rome, and returned to the Caribbean in October on Zaandam. A few months before this cruise we went back to the Mexican Riviera on Diamond Princess and in March had a very adventuresome trip down the Amazon on Oceania's Insignia. WHY THIS CRUISE? We had never sailed on Royal Caribbean, nor along the West Coast. Radiance had spent the fall, winter and early spring in the Caribbean, and then sailed through the Panama Canal to San Diego. After we debarked in Vancouver it would start its summertime Alaska cruise program. The pricing on these repositioning cruises is usually quite reasonable and this trip was really a low budget excursion. PLANNING THE CRUISE This was one of our least taxing cruises for pre-planning. America West and Southwest Airlines both offer frequent, low cost flights between Phoenix and San Diego, and America West has non-stop flights from Vancouver. We therefore made our own airfare arrangements. Cruise lines have arrangements with major carriers and do not deal with regional airlines such as America West and Southwest. When we relied on Celebrity to provide our air transfers to start our Infinity cruise to Hawaii, they sent us to San Diego via Los Angeles! This was the first cruise in which I did not pack my tuxedo. Although the material supplied by RCCL suggested that on six night cruises there would be two formal nights, it turned out that there was only one, and fewer that 15% of the men wore tuxes. My dark blue blazer with dark flannel pants was perfectly suitable. We both managed to get all our belongings into one suitcase apiece plus two carry-ons for Edith and one for me. We were a little concerned about the possibility of cold and rain on the West Coast at this time of year, but we each did fine with a sweater and a light rain jacket. DEPARTURE This was as easy and comfortable an embarkation as we have ever experienced. The flight to San Diego is just a little over an hour. Dropping rapidly in to Lindbergh Field directly over the downtown high rises is always entertaining. Once past downtown we saw Radiance shining bright and white in the harbor; a marvelous prospect. We were on the ground quickly and took a ten-minute cab ride to the Harbor Pier for $9.00 with tip. We drove directly up to where they took our two bags, and walked into the pier side check-in. This was about 2:30 in the afternoon and they had been embarking passengers for a while. The documents said boarding would start at 2:00, but it obviously had begun before that. There were about 20 manned check-in stations, only half of which had customers, so we walked up to a vacant station and were processed through in a couple of minutes and in our cabin by 2:45. RADIANCE OF THE SEAS - THE SHIP Radiance is a large vessel of more than 90,000 tons. It is a Panamax ship, meaning that it is as large as a vessel can be to transit the Panama Canal. It first sailed in 2001, so it is fairly new. The design has some good points and some aspects that we considered to be less than helpful. The passenger flow is designed around a central atrium, called The Centrum, which stretches from Deck 4 up through Deck 11. This Centrum is located slight aft of midships. The main elevator bank is on the port side of the Centrum, with two glass faced elevators looking inwards to the atrium, and four looking out to sea. The main stairwell is directly aft of the Centrum. There are no other elevators or stairwells any further aft of the Centrum, only a three elevator bank with adjacent stairs forward. This had the effect of making elevator service slow at high demand times. It also resulted in being unable to go by elevator to the Seaview aft on Deck 13. Since the hours of this venue were limited, and it was quite cold and windy on deck at night, we were among the hordes who did not use this cafe despite its good reputation. Nor do I expect it will get much business at night on Radiance's Alaskan cruises. Radiance lacks a high, forward looking lounge area. The Viking Crown Lounge, also known as Starquest, on Deck 13 is also midships and has a smashing view of the forward superstructure and radar antennae. The forward portions of both Deck 11 and 12 are taken up with the gym and spa, although both these decks have open air forward areas which provided a great spot to see the Golden Gate Bridge on the third day of the cruise. By way of partial compensation for the lack of a forward lounge, the public area of all the lower decks have many windows on either side, affording frequent visual connection with the sea. Aside from these criticisms, it is a well decorated, maintained and reasonably designed ship. There are about 28 inside and outside cabins on Deck 2. Deck 3 is a passenger deck with tender access. Deck 4 has cabins forward. The Centrum begins here, with a bar, a small dance floor and a bandstand. The Guest Relations Desk is starboard, with the excursion desk attached. One either side are entrances into the lower level of the main dining room, called Cascades. There are actually two small rooms before you enter the dining room proper, one called Breakers, where we were seated, and the other called Tides, which was used only for occasional meetings, but not dining. There are good windows on either side of the dining room, but since the galley is behind the dining room, there are no windows looking aft as on many ships such as Celebrity's main fleet. Deck 4 also has an outside promenade which goes completely around the ship, although you have to go up one deck as you approach the prow. This stairwell leads to the helicopter landing deck, which is actually open to the public and affords a great "Titanic" view over the water forward. Deck 5 stars with the Aurora Theatre forward, and proceeds aft through the art gallery/photo shop area on the starboard side and a conference room portside. You next enter the shopping section with a reasonable selection of mid priced stores. Aft of this is the Centrum area, with the Latte-Tudes coffee bar starboard and the internet cafe to port. Behind Latte-Tudes is a nice seating lounge. Once past the Centrum you enter the Deck 5 access to Cascades Dining Room. There is a Grand Staircase from this deck to Deck 4 of the restaurant. Deck 6 starts with the upper level of the Aurora Theatre, and proceeds aft past the motion picture theater. This is a small room, but has the new "stadium" seating at a steep pitch so each seat has a clear view of the screen. You then pass through the fairly large casino. This location means that no one is required to go through the Casino to get anywhere, except the motion picture theater, since access to the main show theater is very convenient from Deck 5. We heard that there was one really high roller who lost a lot on this trip. We do not indulge in the joy of waving good-bye to our money. Aft of the Casino you are back at the Centrum and then you can only continue along the starboard side of the ship. You first pass through a long and narrow bar called The Schooner Bar. This largely has a nice sea view. Opening off this lounge are the two specialty restaurants, Chops Grill and Portofino's. They both had port side window views and seemed very pleasant. Aft of this you entered the Colony Club, a lounge, entertainment and dance venue containing 5 distinct areas. First you pass the billiard room with self-leveling tables. We never had a sea rough enough to inspire a visit here to see if they work. Past this is an area labeled the Jakarta Lounge for no apparent reason, a dance floor with bandstand, another bar at the aft end of this deck with adjacent tables, and yet another small lounge area on the port side called the Calcutta Card Club. The Colony Club was used for Bingo among other things. Decks 7, 8, 9 and 10 are passenger cabin decks. On each deck there is a small area forward of the open Centrum. Three of these seemed to be used only as small sitting areas, but Deck 9 housed the miniscule library. Deck 11 has a large spa forward. Aft of this is the Solarium, which is a glass roofed covered pool area with padded deck chairs and a jacuzzi. Then you go outside to the outdoor pool with its deck chairs; aluminum affairs with stretched nylon coverings. Aft of this you are back indoors in the Centrum leading to the Windjammer Cafe. This buffet has a variety of indoor and outdoor portions; some exposed to the air, some partially enclosed, with the main seating area entirely indoors of course. Deck 12 has the fitness center and exercise room forward. You then go outside and back to the Centrum portion, which of course is enclosed, and has a small room for Crown and Anchor members. It also has a small round window, which is at the top of the Centrum and enables one to look all the way down to Deck 4. Attached to this room aft is the Game Arcade, Art Studio and Adventure Ocean rooms for kids. You then go outside past the children's pool with slide and arrive at a small building which houses the Seaview Cafe starboard, Golf Simulator aft and sports area portside. Deck 13 starts in the middle of the ship and has the Starquest Lounge. Leaving this lounge and proceeding aft outside you pass the famous Royal Caribbean Climbing Wall. I never saw anybody using it, but we understand that it was attempted by some. You then go aft by a bridge in the middle of the ship above the children's pool, and reach the putting range, a nine hole course with some challenges in addition to the wind. All of the public areas were well very decorated and maintained, although I did see some carpet staining in the stairwells, a not infrequent result of people carrying food from the buffet to their cabins. The tables in the bar and lounge areas were a nice dark wood, with pleasant brass lighting. The Centrum was quite resplendent in white painted surfaces and shiny brass fixtures. The stairwells reminded me of Celebrity with their art deco brushed aluminum, light wood and glass. Some of the art work was quite striking, and we liked the outdoor statuary. The cabins were supplied with a ship's art guide that was very detailed and informative. This is the first such guide we have seen and more cruise lines should provide something like this if they really are proud of their art. The tables and furnishings in the Windjammer Cafe were quite nice, and there was one area of this cafe, which had deep padded cane armchairs and love seats, which were extremely comfortable, but always in demand. The seats in the Aurora Theatre were good and offered adequate sightlines. The aluminum and nylon deck chairs provided everywhere except the solarium conveyed a bargain basement impression. The Solarium itself was one of the nicer places on board, with its sculptures, warm atmosphere and padded lounges. The open glass elevator cages provided views of either the ocean or the atrium, but the design of these makes them smaller than normal elevators, and as I noted, they were frequently crowded and slow. We tried to use the stairs as much as possible. In addition to the usual locations for art, the walls through the cabin halls did have some small art pieces; not as much as on Celebrity, but at least a minor break in otherwise drab areas. OUR STATEROOM Our cabin was No. 9604, a Class D1 Superior Ocean View with balcony. I am not sure what made it "Superior", but it may have been slightly deeper than the normal ocean view balcony cabins. As you entered it had a small bathroom to the right and closet to the left. The closet had fairly adequate hanging space and shelf space. The door arrangement was a tad strange, with one main door to the closet proper and one to the shelf area with "reach around" access to part of the closet. The closet was actually part of a nice dark wood console, which continued into the cabin to form the desk area and another console area containing the TV, safe and more shelf space. Typically we had more than enough room for our accoutrements. The bathroom has a small shower with curtain; large enough for relatively slender people such as Edith and me, but certainly not generous. The shower contained a wall unit for shampoo/conditioner dispenser which was empty when we arrived, a fact not noticed until my first shower. Soap is provided, but no other toiletries, which seemed pretty chintzy. Opposite the desk was a small love seat with a fixed table. The seating/desk area had a curtain between it and the sleeping area, which was nice. The bed therefore was next to the doors leading out to the balcony; the first time we had experienced this arrangement. The bed itself was provided with a rather thin mattress, but as usual, we had little trouble sleeping most nights. There were two pictures on the painted walls. There were a couple of somewhat unique lamps by each side of the bed, with a normal bulb plus a focused spotlight inside the vertical shaft of the lamp. The balcony was quite shallow, probably about four feet in depth, with two side chairs and a small table. A teak rail topped a glass body affording a clear view outwards. The cool weather on this cruise was not conducive to outdoor lounging, even if there had been more room on the balcony. Its principal utility was to take advantage of an occasional view of land or another ship, as well as the harbors we visited. The deck was some kind of composition and the partitions between the balconies as usual were open at the top and bottom. The carpeting was good, and the overall stateroom impression, except for the bathroom, was favorable. Two pool towels were provided in each room, with an exchange plan for the pool area. The towels provided in the bathroom were skimpy as to number and certainly not of high quality. DINING ON RADIANCE OF THE SEAS If one does not count the mid afternoon snack on boarding, this short cruise afforded the opportunity for 6 breakfasts and dinners and 5 lunches. We actually had 6 breakfasts, but only 5 dinners and 4 lunches due to our shore visits, so our impressions were based on somewhat limited experiences compared to other cruises. We ate dinner only in the Cascades Dining Room, not wanting to bother with the specialty restaurants on this short a trip. We had heard they were good, but the menus did not reach out and cause us to change our plans. They charge an extra $20.00 per person. All our breakfasts and lunches were in the Windjammer Cafe. The dinners were quite good; at least up to Princess and possibly HAL standards for preparation and flavor. The menus combined appetizers and soups, without making it clear that you could order both. The entree selection was reasonable without being very imaginative. Dessert is ordered off a separate menu; although we much prefer Celebrity's method of bringing around a sample tray so you can see what you can have. Edith reported that the vegetarian menu was the best she had ever experienced in any restaurant on land or sea. Meat which was ordered with a choice of degree of "doneness"; came as requested. Reynaldo, our waiter from the Philippines and Mark, his assistant from Trinidad were quite good and very cheerful, especially Mark. The Windjammer Cafe is a very pleasant venue, with nice dark wood tables, comfortable arm chairs, a lot of space and a generally attractive atmosphere. The buffet stations are separate enough to allow easy access; and the only time there was any crowding was at breakfast on debarkation day in Vancouver. However, no trays are provided. Each station has a supply of large oval plastic "plates", plus available small bowls and small plates. Silverware is wrapped in napkins at each station, nothing being provided at the tables beyond salt, pepper and sugar. Coffee stations are scattered about, some self serve, some in bar like arrangements with servers. The selection for breakfast was adequate, with the usual items available and an omelet station. I never saw a toasting set-up, and missed the excellent provision for toast and toasted bagels found on Insignia. Juice was either orange or apple, and pre-poured into glasses. Lunch was also rather uninspired as to selection, which did not seem to vary much. I have gotten into the habit of eating more substantial breakfasts and having only a small piece of fish and one vegetable for lunch (plus dessert of course!). The food comments apart, we greatly enjoyed dinner because of our table companions. We were assigned, at our choice, to early dining and at a large table. The table was set for 12, but only 10 of us showed up. There were Don and Ann from Escondido, CA; Dennis and Sandy from Dana Point, CA; Dave and Connie from Colorado Springs (on their first cruise) and Amy with her 3½ year old daughter Amalya, from San Diego. We were a merry band indeed, much enjoying each other's company. We have usually been fortunate with our dinner companions, and this trip certainly retained or raised the standard. THE CRUISE - ENTERTAINMENT Perhaps the most memorable entertainer was - the Captain. I had heard from prior reviews of Radiance that Captain Kent Ringborn was the Singing Captain. This certainly was true. He not only sang at his reception; but also took a major role in the final show. And we were provided with a CD each of his songs, delivered to our cabin on the last night. This was a special trip for him as he was leaving the ship in Vancouver for retirement to Portugal. He has a pleasant bass-baritone, and I enjoyed his selection of songs, which were fairly traditional. Aside from this, the entertainment was standard cruise fare. The Cruise Director, Gordon Whatman also sang. There was one production number; a highly touted song and dance collection called "The Piano Man". We saw a singer-impressionist- pianist named Bobby Arvon whose main claim to fame was that he sang the theme song to the old TV show "Happy Days". and Craig Dahn, another singer . Our port visit to San Francisco was from 7:00 A.M. to midnight, so there was no show that night. All in all the level of entertainment was pleasantly unsophisticated, and not very memorable except for Captain Ringborn. In addition to the shows, there was a "classical" acoustic guitarist who played in the Centrum lounge, a string group performing one or twice a day in the Schooner Bar or Centrum Lounge, and a dance band that played at various spots. There also was a solo pianist who played mostly in the Schooner Bar. The level of entertainment appeared very minimal for a large ship with more than 2000 passengers. THE CRUISE - SHIP'S SERVICES The daily newssheet is called "Cruise Compass". It has 4 pages, the last two of which have all the daily activities, dining hours, music and dancing hours etc. It is designed so that these pages can be separated from the first two pages and folded for easy carrying. However the print is small and the information limited. Some of the events receive an expanded treatment on Pages 1 and 2. Printed daily news reports from the real world were provided on Deck 4. The TV had a station which clearly showed the ship's location, heading, speed and a variety of navigational and weather information. One's account status can be brought up also; but there was no TV guide to the movies or satellite station shows available. We did not use the excursion desk, but Guest Relations personnel were very pleasant and helpful. When I made my first card purchase, at one of the shops, it did not go through. We had to go to Guest Relations where they re-entered my credit card and explained that some of the data collected at the pier side check-in had not been transmitted correctly to the ship's computers. The Captain came on at noon each day with a regular report. Each cabin had a knob, which could lower the volume on all ship's announcements except emergency messages. Aside from the lifeboat drill announcement, which we expected, there was one occasion after we retired to bed in San Francisco, and were woken up at 11:30 with the loudspeaker asking two or three passengers to check in. We found out later that at least one or two people never made it back on board that night. In the public areas there were the usual announcements about Bingo, Art Auctions, etc. We don't mind the daily Captain's report, but much prefer cruise lines like Celebrity and Oceania without advertising distractions. Radiance was unique among all ships we have sailed in that it did not provide signs in the stairwell or elevator areas directing people to the gangways or tender boarding locations on port days. These locations were not intuitive, and the announcements not always clear, and we wandered about on two decks trying to find the tender location in Astoria. THE CRUISE - PORTS Our three ports were not ones receiving great hordes of ship borne visitors, although San Francisco and Victoria are major tourist destinations. We arrived at the Golden Gate at 5:45 in the morning; just at first light. The outside decks were crowded as we enjoyed the unique experience of sailing beneath the magnificent bridge into the harbor. Fortunately we had a sunny day all day to enjoy the city which the writer O. Henry; in a more romantic time; called "Baghdad by the Bay". Since no one can see the entire city in one day, and we both had visited it several times, we chose to rent a car and drive across the bridge north to Marin County. We first visited the John Muir Woods National Monument immediately west of Sausalito, and then drove north to Bodega Bay to have lunch in the restaurant on the pier made famous in the Hitchcock movie "The Birds". We returned to the city after stopping to see a friend in Larkspur, and drove back across the bridge about 6:00 P.M. We returned the car and took a taxi to the pier next to our ship's docking point to have dinner with my nephew at a typical, eclectic San Francisco restaurant. The Muir Woods is a magnificent small park with a beautiful stand of redwood trees, which have never been logged. Fortunately we arrived fairly early and were able to see a fair sized portion of it without too many other people around. As we were leaving, several busloads of other tourists arrived which would make it rather crowded. Once again the value of renting a car rather than taking a ship's tour was demonstrated. After a sea day our next stop was Astoria, Oregon. Before we embarked we were surprised to find out that another cruise ship was arriving the same day, HAL's Oosterdam, doing a four day cruise from Vancouver. Not only that, but Oosterdam received the only pier side docking, despite its arrival at 10:00 A.M., and we were forced to tender to shore. We had rented a car from Enterprise, and they sent a van to meet another group and us. We drove eastward along the Oregon side of the Columbia River for about 50 miles and then crossed the river to head north into Washington State and Mount St. Helens. We proceeded up mountain roads, partially through clouds, and uncertain of what we would be able to see. We did come out of the clouds at about 3800 feet and at the first viewpoint had a good look at the mountain, although high clouds obscured the volcano's crater. We went on to the Coldwater Lake Visitors Center, but Johnson Ridge, the closest point was closed due to "seismic activity" which has occurred over the past few months. We understand that the trails within five miles of the peak, closed for several months, have since been re-opened. The Coldwater visitor's center has an excellent view of the valley down which the avalanche had rushed, followed by the lava flow.. The size of the area destroyed by the eruption was striking, and the whole area immensely impressive, even though we could not see the shattered peak due to high clouds. We returned via the Washington side of the river, crossing the lengthy bridge which crosses the mouth of the Columbia River. We had enough time to take a quick driving tour of Astoria which has a number of well preserved Victorian homes, many with delightful river or bay views. We sailed out past Oosterdam, and sounded our ship's horn, which drew a reply from the HAL vessel, and a louder response from us, with a further challenge following from Oosterdam. Those of us on deck hearing this "battle of the ships' horns" were greatly amused and delighted. Victoria, our final port city, is a delightful town. We docked outside the Inner Harbor, and could see the State of Washington and the snow-capped peaks of the Olympic range clearly standing out to the south across the Straits of Juan de Fuca. Shuttle buses took us to town for $5.00, a fare that was good for unlimited travel all day. We took an Inner Harbor boat tour on a tiny craft holding at the most twenty people, but carrying only four for our trip. It was a very informative and pleasant trip, lasting about 1¾ hours and costing $12.50 Canadian for the senior rate. We then went across the street to the British Columbia Royal Museum. While this is not a huge museum, its displays are extremely well arranged and provided detailed views of wildlife on the second floor and the Native People's culture as well as early European settlers life style on the third floor. There was an IMAX theater, which we did not attend since we wished to return to Radiance for lunch. After returning via our shuttle bus and being entertained by our singing bus driver, we went back to town after lunch and wandered around the busy downtown shopping area before going to tea. No, we did not go to the famous Empress Hotel High Tea, but to a more modest establishment called the St. James Bay Tea Room. Even the small amount we ordered was substantial, and very inexpensive. Many of our fellow sailors chose to visit the famous Butchart Gardens, but since I had seen them twice, and Edith once, we skipped it this time. But they are worth seeing if you have not done so already. We have to say that we were quite pleased with our port excursions. The three stops were one of the main reasons why we chose this cruise and we were not disappointed with anything except the cloud cover over the top of Mt. St. Helens; but even that was a minor flaw. THE CREW For the most part, the crew was friendly, smiling and efficient. As usual, one tends to remember the exceptions. Our shower shampoo dispenser was empty on our embarkation, but a call the next day brought a prompt refilling. One night our cabin steward evidently misunderstood us when we said we were leaving for the show, and our cabin did not receive its turndown service or the Cruise Compass. To make up for this a bottle of Chardonnay was delivered to our room the next day with an apology. I don't drink at all, and Edith does not like Chardonnay, but one of our table companions, who was proceeding on to the Alaska cruise at the completion of our trip, was pleased to have the benefit of a full bottle of wine for their cabin on their continuation cruise. On our last sea day afternoon I went to the Colony Club aft on Deck 6 for a Coke. Bingo was wrapping up, and one half of the aft section, which was served by its own bar, was reserved for a private group. But despite the fact that the relatively small Bingo crowd was not ordering much, and the private party was slow in arriving, it took well over ten minutes before a waiter came over to take my order, and I certainly have had more outgoing and friendly service. DEBARKATION For our purposes, this was remarkably smooth. We had a 2:30 flight from the Vancouver airport. When our debarkation ticket color was called; at about 9:00 which gave us time for a reasonably relaxed breakfast; we were directed from the gangplank to a bus. The bus was about ¾ full. One of the passengers had left his camera behind, and the debarkation team retrieved it for him in about ten minutes. We then pulled around to the other side of the pier (this was not the main cruise pier in Vancouver, but one about a mile south). There we waited for about 30 minutes while more people got on. They had hauled their luggage out of the pier and loaded in onto the bus in the same way we had done on all our former cruises. Our luggage however was taken directly from the ship to the airport, apparently by special truck. We then drove to the airport, a trip which takes about 40 minutes since Vancouver has no real freeway system. When we arrived we were directed to a carousel where our luggage was waiting, and we only had to take our bags a few yards to the airline check in. We then proceeded to take our bags and ourselves directly through US Customs and Immigration. This meant that when our non-stop flight landed in Phoenix, we were treated as a local, inside USA flight and landed at a regular gate to debark and picked up our luggage in the normal manner. This was as painless a procedure for debarkation in a foreign country as we have ever experienced. We think we owe this to the Vancouver BC government as well as Royal Caribbean. OVERALL EVALUATION OF RADIANCE OF THE SEAS AND ROYAL CARIBBEAN CRUISE LINES Radiance is a good looking ship, and with its maximized window usage in public areas, provides a bright and cheerful atmosphere. However the limited elevators, and small passageways off the Centrum, through which everyone passes, made for crowding and slow transit through the ship at times. The furniture, furnishings and artwork were all of high quality, and all of the public rooms were pleasant. Our cabin was quite decent and serviceable, with our only complaint being the size of the shower, less than luxurious towels, and the lack of toilet articles. We should note that the shower was at least as large as that on Diamond Princess however. The food was not bad, about the level of Princess, a little below HAL, but no match for either Celebrity or Oceania. The main dining room service was quite good, and we never had the sense that our wait staff was too rushed. Our crew had only two tables with about 14 people on a normal seating. We did not expect much by way of entertainment, and what we got was okay for a short cruise where one stop, San Francisco, lasted well past the entertainment hour. The lifeboat muster drill was as easy as we have ever had. We did not have to leave our muster station, the Schooner Bar, to go outside and stand under our life boats, and the instructions were brief and to the point. Despite some criticisms, we enjoyed this cruise. I have realized in reading many cruise reviews that those of us who have sailed more than say 8 or 10 times tend to be more critical than new cruisers who are amazed at the entire adventure. We liked the itinerary and would suggest it to anyone who has not done it before. Royal Caribbean is not unduly expensive, and does not seem to be pushy about on board activities or services that involve extra charges, so you get pretty fair value for your money. If you are looking for a short cruise with novel and entertaining ports and a couple of well spaced sea days on which to relax, this is a good trip, and we are glad we made it. Bon Voyage! Read Less
Sail Date May 2005
Overall the ship is beautiful, and the service was excellent. The food in the main dining room was better than expected and our waiters were wonderful. Unfortunately, there were still a fair amount of teens on spring break, which made ... Read More
Overall the ship is beautiful, and the service was excellent. The food in the main dining room was better than expected and our waiters were wonderful. Unfortunately, there were still a fair amount of teens on spring break, which made for some very loud activity and obnoxious behavior. There should be areas of the ship that are "adults only", and we saw a lot of teenage drinking going on. You'd think the cruise line would be more afraid of the amount of drinking by teenagers! If it weren't for the adults only pool area, we would not have had any peace and quiet. A week was too long for us! Our balcony room was very nice and as first-time cruisers were were aware that it would not be very large- BUT you can hear EVERYTHING (and I mean everything) in the room(s) next to you! Also beware booking anything in the Spa. When we signed a sheet for a "Couples Massage Class" (without being told of the cost) we were led to believe it was a free demonstration. We ended up not going, as it was on the next to last day of our cruise and had honestly forgotten we had signed up UNTIL we were billed on our account for 1/2 of the hidden fee!! Make sure you ask up front what the cost is of anything! We felt a bit deceived and when we asked that the fee be taken off of our account, the Guest Relations desk person told us that the Spa is not owned by RCL, but another company called The Steiner Group. Not sure if we'd go on another cruise, and if so we'd probably go with another line, a more upscale one. The major redeeming factor was the crew personnel- friendly, courteous, and interesting. Overall grade- B- Read Less
Sail Date April 2005
I boarded the Radiance of the Seas on March 6, 2005 for a W. Caribbean vacation. My first impression when I first boarded was "wow, what a beautiful ship!". I've been on other ships of the same size, and I have to say, the ... Read More
I boarded the Radiance of the Seas on March 6, 2005 for a W. Caribbean vacation. My first impression when I first boarded was "wow, what a beautiful ship!". I've been on other ships of the same size, and I have to say, the Radiance's ship lay out is awesome. You can tell the designers maximized on each square inch. The ship seems larger than what it really is. The glass elevators were beautiful; especially zooming up to the upper decks with the view of the ocean. Entertainment was ok....nothing out of this world. I expected better from this class of ship. However, the Cruise Director (Gordon), was entertaining, funny and made the trip so much fun. The food was ok. They had a steak meal the was tougher than rubber. I had it exchanged for a lobster/shrimp meal. That meal was excellent! The Windjammer Buffet was ok. The eggs served during breakfast were horrible. Overall, it was good and served it purpose of offering casual dining. The specialty restaurants were excellent; both Portofino's and Chop's Grille; worth the $20 fee. I was disappointed at the lack of daytime activities, especially the days we were at sea. Actually, it was downright boring! I couldn't believe I had nothing to do at 4PM, expect just lounge at the pool and wait for Dinner/Show time later that evening. This cruise seems better suited for the older crowd who just wants to relax and prefers little activity. The night club, "Starquest", was mostly empty every night! People sleeping at 10PM on their vacations? Overall, nice ship for people looking to chill and relax. If you're looking for more activities, night life, younger crowd (20s-40s), this is not the ship for you. I would recommend a Voyager Class ship or Carnival. The ship is elegant and well designed, offering many beautiful public spaces and lounges. If you have kids, this is not the ship for them! They won't make many friends. However, if you're an experienced cruiser looking for an elegant ship and relaxing times, this ship is for you! I must say....I had a great time!!! However, I'll pick something with a little more excitement next time. Read Less
Sail Date March 2005
My wife and I booked this cruise because it was our 15th wedding anniversary. We are in our early 40s. We had been on a Voyager class (EOS-2002) ship previously, and we wanted to book another Voyager class. Because we found a great deal, ... Read More
My wife and I booked this cruise because it was our 15th wedding anniversary. We are in our early 40s. We had been on a Voyager class (EOS-2002) ship previously, and we wanted to book another Voyager class. Because we found a great deal, we decided to try a Radiance class and booked on Radiance of the Seas for this trip. We arrived to the cruise port in Miami (we drove since we live in FL) at 12:30. Since our cruise documents were lost in the mail, our travel agent made arrangements for pier pick-up. We thought this would really slow us down in the boarding process, but we were quite surprised that there was no delay. Embarkation was a snap. We inquired about an upgrade, but were told the ship was full. Nothing gained, nothing lost. When we arrived to our cabin, we were taken with our room. We booked an outside on deck #3. Our cabin was appointed in rich colors with what I would describe as a honey oak color woodwork with a red comforter on the bed and very soothing artwork. The beds were already made into one, and we were happy we did not have to request it. The roses I ordered for my wife were greeting us in the cabin, which was a very nice touch. We had ample room in our cabin and adequate storage. We like to unpack everything, and were able to find storage for everything. We both brought extra clothes hangers and wood hangers were abundant in the closet. Our empty suitcases fit nicely under the beds. We always make two advance sets of arrangements when we board on RCI. We arrange for the wine package, which was $109 plus gratuity, and we go to the extra restaurants on the ship to decide whether we would reserve at Portofino or Chops. Because we dined at Portofino previously on another ship, we decided to try Chops. Making these arrangements was convenient. We were off to the Windjammer for something to eat. We were particularly impressed with this one. It did not flow like a cattle car so to speak. It was appointed differently than other RCI ships we've been on, with a lot of blues and dark woods. It was very welcoming and soothing. At one of the cutting stations they ran out of beef, and I joked with one of the chefs about bringing it to our table when they had more. In a couple of minutes, he delivered it to out table. We were impressed that he took the time to do this. We found ourselves using the Windjammer more on this ship in the afternoon and sometimes for breakfast because it did not have the same feel of a typical Windjammer. We were also very impressed that even on the first day, the staff was abundant to clear tables and they were friendly about it. This was also evident throughout the cruise. No one was shoving alcoholic drinks down our throats. We left to tour the ship and ended up at the Spa for a tour. Because of all the windows on this ship. The Spa is breathtaking. Each treatment room looks out through the spacious windows. We saw in the Compass that there was a special for unlimited visits to the Thermal Suite for $99 per couple being offered the first day. We really enjoyed having this access. There were heated thermal lounge chairs and 3 types of different saunas: wet, dry and aromatherapy. Most of all, we were able to gaze out through the windows and use this as much as we wanted. We would visit in late afternoon, request robes and enjoy the time in this tranquil setting. Everyone in this area was clothed with bathing suits. **Recommendation: Once to sea, we noticed in the Compass that the stores were having liquor tasting and liquor for purchase. While we had brought on rum in our luggage for consumption, we found out that they were selling liquor to drink in your room without charging a fee. This was a new change and not advertised. When I went back later in the week to buy a bottle of gin, they were going to charge me the $9.50 fee. The clerk whispered that if I came back after 6:00, there would be no fee. I came back as he mentioned, and brought the gin back to our cabin without paying a fee. So the cut-off seems to be 6:00. We had checked out our table seating in the dining room. We were on the main level at a table for 6, which was toward the center of the room. We had started noticing a lot of kids on the ship (we have 3, but they were home with grandparents). Because we had the late seating, we did not see any kids at dinner. The seas were high coming out of Miami on this trip. The captain reported later that seas were 35 feet. The ship was bouncing at some points and people were having slight difficulty getting around. A lot of people did not make it to dinner because of the seas. Even at the show the first night, the cast was challenged with the way the ship was moving. The captain had announced that due to the high seas, that it was too dangerous to tender into Coco Cay, so we missed our Monday port. The good news was that we were going to San Juan instead on Tuesday. My wife and I were high 5'ing because we love Old San Juan. We were there from 12:00 p.m. until 11:00 p.m. By the time we reached the Caribbean Sea, the seas had calmed and as usual the fort leading us into San Juan was glistening in the sun. We had the very first berth at the pier which put us the closest in walking distance to Old San Juan. We had a great time and loved the extra time there. In St. Thomas we did the usual, shop. Since it was our anniversary, what better place to look for jewelry. My wife found a beautiful tennis bracelet at an excellent price. No better way to celebrate our anniversary. The captain announced that we would have a refueling stop in St. Croix at 9:00 p.m. Since we ate at Chops that night, we ate early and the Captain announced that passengers could leave the ship and did not need to return until 12:00. However, it was late and most everything was closed. It looked like St. Croix was trying to build up their pier area because things were under construction. We walked around, and the people made a great effort to welcome everyone. There was a band playing and they were giving out tastes of rum. Other than that, there were only a handful of things open. We bought some handmade soap and returned to the ship within an hour. When we pulled into St. Maarten, we were very impressed with what we saw. They had an ultra modern port area that was outside, with little booths and shops. You could rent a car, buy sundries, shop, take a water taxi to town for $5 round trip. If you're there, check out the Octopus, supposedly it's a super yacht owned by one of the Microsoft founders that's docked at the same pier we pulled into. It had helicopters, boats on it, etc. It was a wow! St. Maarten was fun, clean, the people were friendly and we should have saved our jewelry shopping for this port. The shops were much cleaner and welcoming. Everything at this port is centrally located. The beach backs up to the street where all the shops are. You can find everything you need right there. We made the mistake of renting a car and while the countryside is beautiful, we wasted a lot of time trying to find a secluded beach. By the time we found it in the afternoon, it was windy and the water was very choppy. We should have stayed in town. We went back and laid on the beach for a while. The sun was hot and the surf calm. We look forward to seeing St. Maarten again in the future. Now back to the ship... We had a very good waiter -- Ashton. He was very attentive, and he would bring us out double orders if we asked for it. He became ill though and we had someone else fill in for him the rest of the cruise. When I asked for a double order, he told me he wasn't allowed, but when I pushed it with him, he brought what I wanted and was fine the rest of the trip. We just didn't know who would get the tips, etc., but later found out they would go to the original waiter. All in all, it ended up working out fine. Food was very good. I ate a lot of beef with vegetables. There were lobster tails Friday night, and myself and some of our table mates ended up with 3 each. Seems greedy, but it was fun. It's difficult to get full on 1 lobster tail. The only down side we found about the late seating was this. Since dinner started at 8:30, we found ourselves finishing up by 10:00-10:15. The late show was at 10:45, so we would leave the theatre at 11:45. The shops would close at 11:00, so no shopping, even though you walked through the shopping area to get back to the Centrum. We also found that the little lounges stopped bar service at 1:00, so the only place to get a drink was the disco or the casino. The Seaview Cafe was excellent. The hours they were open was convenient and I think this was one of the best little secrets on the ship. You could go there have a Cuban sandwich, Reuben, chowder, etc. The food and service were excellent. We found ourselves there late in the afternoon after coming back from a port. Chops Steakhouse was excellent. Marek the Head Waiter was excellent! We had perfect service and the food was outstanding. They acknowledged our anniversary by preparing a special dessert and the staff sang. We were so complimentary in the end, Marek invited us to attend brunch. This is something they were testing, so they only seemed to want a limited crowd. The charge was $10.00 each and the food again was excellent. We had brunch at 12:00 on our last day at sea. They offered complimentary mimosas, which was a nice touch. We had a table by the panoramic windows that we really enjoyed. Can't say more. We had one service issue on the ship. Since we are repeaters from Crown and Anchor (4 cruises), we just assumed we would receive our invitation and goodies. When we sat down to dinner one night (which happened to be our anniversary), everyone at our table was talking about the party they just came from. We asked "what party," they said the repeaters party. We were upset because we did not receive an invitation. After dinner, we followed up with guest services, and they apologized profusely and told us the loyalty ambassador would contact us directly. Well, we know that time slips away on cruises, so we wanted attention fast. The next morning, we went to the Crown and Anchor lounge and there was a fill-in person for the Loyalty Ambassador. You might as well be talking to the wall, because she did not know how to resolve service issues. She fessed up that she was filling in. Later we saw that she was one of the stage performers. Dreadful... So we asked what time Carol would be back. Carol smoothed everything over excellently. She apologized, ordered us a nice bottle of champagne, etc. Later that evening at dinner, the champagne arrived, which we shared with our table. There were chocolate covered strawberries in our cabin, our goodies, an apology letter, and a voicemail from guest services with an apology. We were very pleased. Advice: If this event is important to you, you may want to find out in advance when it will take place. Apparently, we were not the only ones this happened to on this cruise. A few hundred people did not get their invitations. Overall: We had a very nice cruise. The ship is beautiful. The number of windows makes this ship gorgeous. We had a great anniversary! We did not do rock climbing, miniature golf, etc. this time. Observations: We found the ship had a lot of over 60 crowd. We met a lot of wonderful people, and we talk to everyone. We found the lounge acts to be below par. The band in the Centrum we referred to as the Faded Rose Group. The comics they brought on board were not youthful and their material was dated. The stage shows were typical. We did have a favorite show and that was the Tribute to the Temptations. All in all, I would give entertainment a 2 out of a possible 10. We've often commented that we would pay extra to see a headliner perform. The ship is beautiful, but we've been spoiled by being on the Explorer of the Seas. We love the Promenade area on Voyager class ships. Our next cruise will be on Voyager of the Seas with the kids. We can't wait, but it will be a different kind of cruise, and we will experience it through our kids' eyes. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to send me an email. Read Less
Sail Date January 2005
Embarkation: We arrived at the port sometime around noon. We were one of the first people to arrive. Since it was our first cruise we wandered into the building and just followed signs to boarding. We showed our boarding tickets to a staff ... Read More
Embarkation: We arrived at the port sometime around noon. We were one of the first people to arrive. Since it was our first cruise we wandered into the building and just followed signs to boarding. We showed our boarding tickets to a staff member and he mistook our cabin class for a suite, so we were ushered through the first class entrance. They checked our passports and issued us our Sea Pass cards very quickly. Cabin: I can't remember the cabin class, but we had an outside cabin on Deck 8 with a small deck that had two chairs and a small table. The room was small (we expected it to be) but nicely furnished with a queen bed, small couch, small oval table and a small desk with mirror and three-shelf cabinet. The closet was large enough and had small corner shelves for shoes, etc. The bathroom was also small but useable. FYI - the towel animals the cabin attendant leaves for you are a nice touch. Food: We ate breakfast all but one day at the Windjammer on Deck 11. The food was OK but it got a little repetitious toward the end. They never changed the stations. We had breakfast in the room one day, but the food is really the same as in the Cafe. We also ate most of our lunches at the Windjammer Cafe and again the food was OK, but repetitious. Dinner was by far the best meal, and we ate at the Cascades dining room all but one night. Our waiter Luisito and our server Nicholas were FANTASTIC. We talked with Luisito for about 10 minutes or so every night after dinner and he shared stories with us about life on the ship and his family back at home. Entertainment: We did not see any of the shows, but my parents saw most of them and they did not seem impressed with many of them. The casino was smaller than we initially expected, but we soon realized that it was never too crowded. The movie theater was a nice bonus, although the movies were all edited for content (no strong language, etc.) much like on an airplane. We played bingo on one of the rainy days and got hooked. Ports of Call: Key West - A fun destination. Cozumel - Fun, only because we had never been to Mexico. Roatan, Honduras - Depressing. I would NEVER take another cruise that stopped here. If you think you get hounded to purchase things, do NOT go to Roatan. The Hondurans throw themselves at you, sometimes blocking the sidewalk in front of you to get you into there little shack or tent or front yard to buy something. Cayman Islands - We unfortunately could not stop because of the weather. Overall: We are not sure if we will take another cruise on Royal Caribbean before we try another cruise line. We are interested in trying one of the Princess ships. Read Less
Sail Date December 2003
Radiance of the Seas Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.2
Dining 4.0 4.0
Entertainment 4.0 3.7
Public Rooms 4.0 4.3
Fitness Recreation 4.5 4.1
Family 4.0 4.1
Shore Excursion 3.5 3.8
Enrichment 2.0 3.5
Service 4.5 4.4
Value For Money 4.5 3.8
Rates N/A 4.3

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