Radiance of the Seas Cruise Review by MrSimba
- Sail Date: January 2014
- Destination: South Pacific
Hi all my review contains information on the place (ship in this case) we stayed but also the adventure and often the circumstances that lead us there, so if you only interested in the actual place, my review might not be for you, also i write how speak so don’t expect some literal award winning review.
Boarded at Circular key around 11am on the Tuesday morning, its still amazes me that people where only disembarking 2 hours previous, those staff work hard on turn around day to make the ship look new or as if it has been waiting for you in port for a day or 2. Traveling was me and the wife plus the kids 14 and almost 16. We booked a aft (rear) balcony on level 9 and a double room on level 3. If you would like to know more about family’s and multiple rooms message me and i can let you know the ins and outs.
Staff really friendly and helpful, nice to get to our rooms and meet our stateroom attendants as the Americans call them, off to lunch at the buffet, this is the only place open for boarding day lunch. Then off to explore the ship, we had been on a few smaller cruises before, the sun, pearl and dawn but this was alot bigger. There were options to purchase a drink package, unlimited soft drink (sodas they call them) this cost roughly $60USD each for the whole cruise for the kids its age scaled, another package with beer and wine and a drink yourself silly with basically anything you want, as we dont really drink we (wife and me) opted for the Royal Replenish (sounds fancy) this consisted of premium tea and coffee in other words you could go to the coffee house and get yourself a massive latte as much as you want while they where open, bottled and sparkling water, mocktails, fresh squeezed juice and unlimited soft drink. cost was $20 USD a day per person. I was really looking forward to having fresh squeezed juice throughout the trip. It was disappointing the 1st full day at sea to find out that the fresh squeezed jucie was only orange and only available at breakfast. When looking at these packages i think its important to think about how many port days you have on your cruise we had 5 port days and 6 sea days roughly. 4 out of 6 of the mocktails contained red bull so we stayed away from them. The bottled water did come in handy on port days. cocktails are not made from scratch or with fresh fruit, they are made from a pre mix, island oasis in 1 litre milk cartons labeled say pina colada mix. My wife had 1 or 2 of these and i had a taste and it was actually quite nice. I’m sure this makes its alot easier to serve people quicker.
As always we had to undertake the safety briefing in the main staff area and then off we went next stop in around 2.5 days ilse of Pines, so we had 2 and a bit days to explore this 300 metre vessel and find all the great little spots to be at different times of the day. 1st night we ate at one of the specialty restaurants (these are an extra fee) Chopps Grille, they had a discount for the 1st evening of 30% so i think it came to $24USD per person, was well worth it. Kids ate in the buffet and went off to make new friends at the teens club, ship has 1am curfew for under 18's. 2nd night was formal night so we thought we would attend in the dinning room, we opted for mytime dinning were you are either 6 or 8:30 and have the same table and people at your table each night. so we sat down at a table of 8 and another family came along and sat down unfortunately they could not speak English only Chinese, they even ordered in chinese, we were looking foward to discussing with our table mates there day and plans for the next day. So that was a bit of a let down. The next morning i rang the dining room and explained the situation and they said they would get back to me tomorrow, so we gave the dinning room a miss for the night and went back to Giovanni’s Table another specialty restaurant, we had also had lunch there the day previous and been served by Geraldine (not quite sure the the spelling) but it was excellent table service so much so we went back with the kids and although the kids enjoyed the meal they were itching to get back to there friends up stairs somewhere. Staff like Geraldine are real assets to Royal Caribbean.
Breakfast was alot easier in the buffet than the dinning room especially on port days, there’s a bloke we named Aussie Bob that greets you at entrance, this guy was even more Australian than we were yet he was from south east asia like most of the crew. It was always entertaining entering and leaving the buffet with him throwing some 70's or 80's slang at you. Another great asset to Royal Caribbean, along with the friendly nice guys in starboard windjammer bar. Heres a Tip ask for a lemonade you will get lemon cordial, if you want what i suppose we call a lemonade ask for a sprite, they do not know about Schweppes lemonade.
ilse of Pines was lovely as always, although i was told a few people went back to the ship without thongs, aussie surf thongs are highly prized over there i assume. The next day was off to Lifou it was very hot but surprising cool under the trees, the water was beautiful great temp and clear not rough, sad to go back to ship but our stomachs were rumbling for buffet, they say you gain a pound a day on a cruise, my son reckons he lost 5 kilos giving up on waiting for the lifts and using the stairs from deck 3 to 12. That evening we meet another couple in the spa and got chatting they go on cruises every 2 months they love it, we explained about our dinning experience and they invited us to sit with them as they mentioned every night there has been 4 empty chairs. So we went down to speak to dinning room staff and after re-explaining our previous situation, which had also told him the evening before, he placed us there permanently, the waiters at the table were also a little confused initially even though the couple who had invited us mentioned it to them before our arrival. Well it was all sorted finally and we had some people we could get to know and discuss our days at sea and port with. Although some what older, dinner conversation was greatly appreciated, There was a table behind us that had like 10 seats and only 1 couple on it for the 8:30 sitting, i think as it was school holidays maybe alot of family’s just preferred to eat buffet and off to see the evenings entrainment. Maybe the cruise should ask if you will be wishing to attend the dinning room always, mostly or hardly ever and seat people accordingly. Our sons friends family went once or twice at most.
Ok I never got around to Finishing this Review, the above was written in Feb 2015, its now October 2015 and we have just booked again on Radiance 13 nights on the 19th Jan this time Grandma is getting hauled along and in our infinite wisdom or madness we said the kids could bring a friend each, so 7 of us in total.
Some other thoughts from the Trip, blue hole (small fee when arrving) is amazing in luganville/champagne bay worth the trip, haggle drivers down to $50 for 4 in a car, careful of the utes they have seats made of garden sleepers in the back and load people in there, then barrel down the roads, million dollar beach/bay Luganville is worth seeing we missed it but are planning on going this time. Champagne bay its self is amazing. Port Villa again a little haggling and you can get a good deal, we got a newish Corolla air con and driver for the day $200 Aud, but they prefer you to pay them in there currency haggle in there currency and slightly better deals. Westpac with ATM in main street, Driver took us to the Coffee factory, cascades waterfalls ($25 Entry per person) very nice and the beach bar opposite the underwater post office, then on to the cheapest place in the south Pacific duty free Fung Kuei, 2 bottles of Rum 1 litres for $40, smokers 16 packets of 20s for $25 AUD, people going mad in there grabbing duty free.
Bring your Snorkeling gear to all port days, noodles help with floating around and blow up pool toys for champagne Bay are great, people often give them to the local kids upon departure,
mm what else can I remember,
travel adapters euro round 2 pin and us flat 2 pin sockets in are in the rooms, best to get one of each, charge your cameras and phones off the us socket and run the hair dryer off the euro one, sister in law used the us socket for hair dryer and was running at half power. My son worked out after forgetting his adapter that he could charge his phone of the in cabin TV.
Money all the ports we visited accepted Australian currency, although I kept getting asked for Notes to change for coins at the end of the day. Just like in Australia, currency exchange places wont take coin, so these market stalls/traders take our coin but cannot turn that into there local currency and once the ship departs they are stuck with the coin until the next ship comes in.
I suppose this is were US currency has an advantage as they have $1 bills.
This time were taking a lot of $5’s plus many $10 for purchasing items and possibly some $20’s to change for coin at the end of the day, as we can use coin on our return to Sydney.
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