It seems the travel industry has decided big is beautiful, we now see huge resorts covering hectares and more to the point cruise liners being the equivalent of land based resorts. I am of course talking about cruising in ships like the Ovation of the Seas versus the Radiance of the seas. It all comes down to personal choice, you might prefer to spend 14 days cruising on a floating hotel with upto 18 restaurants (which means of course at least 4 will miss out) or alternatively spend 34 days cruising and discover maybe 75% of all the liner has to offer. Or choose a smaller ship like the Oosterdam or the Radiance. Both will have specialty restaurants and a variety of activities for all ages and inclinations. I want to talk about the Radiance as this ship was my most recent cruise and therefore the best remembered.
The Radiance is one of the smaller ships in the Royal Caribbean fleet; it is also one of the oldest but has undergone some fairly recent refurbishments. It holds about 2300 passengers and 859 crew. It has the hallmark specialty restaurant Giovanni’s which seems to be on all RC ships. It is a not to be missed experience. I have been on three other RC cruises and all Giovannis’ are a gourmet delight. The Radiance also had another hallmark RC restaurant – Izumi and if you’re into Asian food I cannot recommend this more highly. I also dined at the Samba Grill a Brazilian restaurant not seen on other ships. Be advised – starve yourself all day! Now, anyone would think my entire cruising is focused around eating. Admittedly, it’s an important part of a holiday not having to cook any meals and the Lido (cafeteria style) or main dining rooms (silver service) provide wonderful menus.
But like all RC ships/cruises they do cater for all ages and interests. There’s the climbing wall and age is no deterrent(!), two swimming pools one in a solarium environment and child free, there is a supervised children play area, seminars, cooking or wine demonstrations in other words the options go on and on.
I can only comment on my cabin 7528 as I booked late. It has a large verandah which of course means a smaller cabin (stateroom!). The layout of all the cabins excluding suites is basically the same and they are very adequate for short to medium cruises. The bathroom is a tad small, slightly compensated by a shower curtain rather than a shower screen. The shower is tiny and if you’re a large cruiser – don’t drop the soap!
The layout of the main entertainment area is poor and obviously while the concept was great, ships like the Voyager or Explorer have improved on it vastly. On the Radiance the focal point is called the Centrium and located on Deck 4. As the name suggests it’s midship and circular with a bank of 3 lifts on either side. All the main attractions are held here (other than the booked entrainment) it is too small and if you need to sit get there 1 hour earlier. The lifts have a poor configuration and your eyes need swivel 180 degrees or have amazing hearing. And when you do grab one be prepared to be completely disorientated as to forward or aft. I didn’t need to exercise as I spent so much energy walking in the wrong direction for my cabin!
But the one thing that sets the Radiance apart from any other ship I have been on is the crew. They are exceptional, if you decide to make one bar your bar then within days the staff remember you and your drink. The cabin stewards are equally attentive and will pretty well try to accommodate any of your wishes. Super glue for broken reading glasses was a bit beyond them!
Smaller is personal and that alone makes the Radiance a beautiful cruise ship.