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We wanted to go to Alaska, and picked this cruise because of the Vancouver departure and one-way itinerary. We selected Royal Caribbean since we have cruised with them a long time and hoped to take advantage of our Platinum status. We liked the cruise overall, but got the strong impression that more things have become extra-cost options rather than being included in the price you pay. It would be fine if the overall price of the cruise was lower and you'd pay only for things you wanted, but the cruise price seemed about the same as before. We booked our own flights and pre-cruise hotel in Vancouver. We have found that this gives us a chance to settle in ahead of time as well as avoid worrying about getting to the ship if the flights are delayed. Boarding was efficient. You clear US customs before boarding, so you can't leave the ship once you are onboard. If you have a choice, you will have to balance the check-in crowds against spending a bit more time in Vancouver. We could have boarded at 1 pm or 2 pm instead of 11 am (which we did). We booked relatively early, but were still stuck with either a very expensive suite or an outside cabin on Deck 2. It was really pretty good, stable during sea passages, but you spend a lot of time waiting for the elevator. The ship itself was in pretty good condition, but there were a few signs of wear around the edges. They had to fix one of the Centrum elevators which was misbehaving. One of the restrooms had a large-ish metal panel held in place with a wedge of paper stuck between the frame and the panel. The green trim paint on the outside around deck 10/11 seemed to be flaking off in spots. Dining in Cascades (main dining room) was passable overall, about what you'd get at a hotel banquet function. Some entrees were quite good, and some were disappointing. We tried some specialty restaurants too. Chops: We did this on the first night for $20. I don't think it was worth much more than that, and definitely not $35 worth. Service was off, the meat was good but not top-notch, and selections were limited. The meat was not exactly done as we had ordered, but it was close. We ordered some bottles of wine since they said that they would hold the bottles for future visits in "any" shipboard restaurant. However, when we went to Cascades the next night, it took them 20 minutes and a head waiter to bring the bottles down from Chops to Cascades, and this was accompanied by a lecture that "we don't normally do this". If that was the case, then Chops should have told us that it really wasn't practical to move the wine from one restaurant to another and offered us the option to take it with us. Samba: We did this on the second sea night. For $25, this felt much better. The food was tasty and well-prepared. They cook the 7 different types of meats more or less to order for each table, so they don't have a lot that's circulating like a typical Brazilian steak house. We had to sample the last two meats since we had too much salad at the beginning and were filling up fast. Beverages: we skipped the unlimited drinks package due to high cost ($49/person/day plus 18%, even in advance) and limitations on what was included (nothing over $12 per drink, which was about half of the wines by the glass and some specialty cocktails; fairly limited choices; and a discount on wine by the bottle in the restaurants). The daily drink special seemed a bit watered down, too. You'd have to consume four drinks per day, every day, to break even on the package. On shore days, you'll generally spend several hours in town, which also reduces the amount of time to have beverages on the ship. We noted that some people were looking for bars that were open at 9 am or 10 am, so we surmised they were on drinks packages and wanted to spread things out. Shows: Most were pretty good, with lavish productions and decent enough performers. They were good cruise entertainment, but you'd probably not spend a lot of money to see the same show on land. We were disappointed in the changes at the spa/fitness center. There used to be free one-hour classes like stretch and yoga, plus a "ShipShape" program that encouraged participation. Now, the free classes are quite short (15 minutes for a stretch class? Come on!) and you have to pay for longer classes ($12/class or $49 for unlimited classes during the cruise). Again, shore days will cut into the classes that you can attend. There was a constant push to buy expensive services like skin treatments to reduce facial lines and sagging. The staff was friendly, but you didn't get much interest from them if you just wanted to do free stuff. Other shipboard activities included the usual art auctions, sales at the shops, photography packages on offer, etc. There were frequent trivia competitions in the bars, a scavenger hunt (which we won, thanks to being first back plus having one item that was worth 10 points), and "The Quest" which is a hoot for players and spectators alike. We leaned towards the free activities to show that some people like those and don't need to pay money for everything to have fun. Cuddy, the cruise director, really made things great. He seemed to be everywhere, introducing shows, promoting activities around the ship, and being part of special nights like the 70s dance party in the Centrum. I have not seen such a wild, fun "Village People" tribute before. Having Cuddy dressed up as the construction worker just topped it off. This night seemed to be a highlight for the entertainment staff too. The naturalist we had on board to talk about the glaciers was knowledgable, but not that good at communicating. I felt that he provided the same info during the on-deck commentary and the scheduled talks. We also had talks by a former RCMP (Mountie) telling of the life they lead and what they really do. We had great weather during the cruise: sun in port, a little colder and windier at sea, but I can't complain at all. We kept hearing that the weather was the best the locals had seen in weeks, so we felt quite blessed to be cruising this particular week. Of course, your experience will be different. The ports were pretty typical for this itinerary. I'll summarize our experiences. I'm more willing to book tours on my own if they leave first thing in the morning, but the afternoon ones should be booked through the ship so they won't leave without you if you get back late (which happened to us in three of four ports). There were 4-5 ships in port at each of the stops we made, except Icy Strait Point where we were the only ship. Ketchikan: A fun little town, but not much to do if you don't buy an excursion. We went on a floatplane trip to the Misty Fjords with Carlin Air, since the ship's excursion was sold out. You'll save some money booking it on your own. The air charter companies will meet you at the dock. There is also a row of kiosks where you can book a tour on the spot. The cost could be slightly higher cost that advance booking online, but perhaps you can negotiate with the people there. We walked around town, went to the Totem Heritage Center, and had some lunch at the Alaska Fish House next to the pier. We skipped the lumberjack show. Our time here was sadly quite limited, or we might have been able to fit in a trip via bus to Totem Bight or Saxman. Juneau: A nice city, lots to do, pleasant to walk and shop in the local stores. We took the tramway to the top of Mt. Roberts. It was one of the warmest days they had seen in months. We had lunch at Tracy's Crab Shack (famous, a little touristy but very popular for good reasons). We walked a few blocks to the state capitol building, but could not see that much without going up a few floors. We then took a helicopter tour in the late afternoon (pilot's choice, two landings, highly recommended if you can get it) and returned in time to walk around some more and grab a bite at Deckhand Dave's right on the pier next to our ship. Icy Strait Point: We enjoyed this stop. We took a little walk in the woods, checked out the old salmon cannery, but we had little time left after we did the bears/whale watching trip. We saw two bears plus whales having fun, sea otters, porpoises, sea lions, etc. We liked the involvement of the native people in presenting the history. You can book the same trips on site if you haven't booked them on the ship, and I did not check to see if the prices were any different than the advance bookings This port was developed with Royal Caribbean (we called it "Coco Cay of Alaska") and it was very nice. Skagway: A fun place, small enough to walk around or ride the ($5/day) bus. The dock is not that close to the town, so you'll have a bit of a walk. My wife did the glass blowing, which she enjoyed; I walked a bit, took some photos and enjoyed some shopping. We both went on the White Pass and Yukon rail excursion, which returned about 45 mins late but dropped us off right at the dock. The weather was perfect again, if perhaps a bit warm. Departure at Seward was uneventful, but we were delayed a bit. We joined a post-cruise tour, so they picked us up right at the dock. More on the post-cruise tour in another review.

Excellent weather, great excursions, almost perfect, but...

Radiance of the Seas Cruise Review by MkeCruzn

4 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: June 2018
  • Destination: Alaska
We wanted to go to Alaska, and picked this cruise because of the Vancouver departure and one-way itinerary. We selected Royal Caribbean since we have cruised with them a long time and hoped to take advantage of our Platinum status.

We liked the cruise overall, but got the strong impression that more things have become extra-cost options rather than being included in the price you pay. It would be fine if the overall price of the cruise was lower and you'd pay only for things you wanted, but the cruise price seemed about the same as before.

We booked our own flights and pre-cruise hotel in Vancouver. We have found that this gives us a chance to settle in ahead of time as well as avoid worrying about getting to the ship if the flights are delayed.

Boarding was efficient. You clear US customs before boarding, so you can't leave the ship once you are onboard. If you have a choice, you will have to balance the check-in crowds against spending a bit more time in Vancouver. We could have boarded at 1 pm or 2 pm instead of 11 am (which we did).

We booked relatively early, but were still stuck with either a very expensive suite or an outside cabin on Deck 2. It was really pretty good, stable during sea passages, but you spend a lot of time waiting for the elevator.

The ship itself was in pretty good condition, but there were a few signs of wear around the edges. They had to fix one of the Centrum elevators which was misbehaving. One of the restrooms had a large-ish metal panel held in place with a wedge of paper stuck between the frame and the panel. The green trim paint on the outside around deck 10/11 seemed to be flaking off in spots.

Dining in Cascades (main dining room) was passable overall, about what you'd get at a hotel banquet function. Some entrees were quite good, and some were disappointing.

We tried some specialty restaurants too.

Chops: We did this on the first night for $20. I don't think it was worth much more than that, and definitely not $35 worth. Service was off, the meat was good but not top-notch, and selections were limited. The meat was not exactly done as we had ordered, but it was close. We ordered some bottles of wine since they said that they would hold the bottles for future visits in "any" shipboard restaurant. However, when we went to Cascades the next night, it took them 20 minutes and a head waiter to bring the bottles down from Chops to Cascades, and this was accompanied by a lecture that "we don't normally do this". If that was the case, then Chops should have told us that it really wasn't practical to move the wine from one restaurant to another and offered us the option to take it with us.

Samba: We did this on the second sea night. For $25, this felt much better. The food was tasty and well-prepared. They cook the 7 different types of meats more or less to order for each table, so they don't have a lot that's circulating like a typical Brazilian steak house. We had to sample the last two meats since we had too much salad at the beginning and were filling up fast.

Beverages: we skipped the unlimited drinks package due to high cost ($49/person/day plus 18%, even in advance) and limitations on what was included (nothing over $12 per drink, which was about half of the wines by the glass and some specialty cocktails; fairly limited choices; and a discount on wine by the bottle in the restaurants). The daily drink special seemed a bit watered down, too. You'd have to consume four drinks per day, every day, to break even on the package. On shore days, you'll generally spend several hours in town, which also reduces the amount of time to have beverages on the ship. We noted that some people were looking for bars that were open at 9 am or 10 am, so we surmised they were on drinks packages and wanted to spread things out.

Shows: Most were pretty good, with lavish productions and decent enough performers. They were good cruise entertainment, but you'd probably not spend a lot of money to see the same show on land.

We were disappointed in the changes at the spa/fitness center. There used to be free one-hour classes like stretch and yoga, plus a "ShipShape" program that encouraged participation. Now, the free classes are quite short (15 minutes for a stretch class? Come on!) and you have to pay for longer classes ($12/class or $49 for unlimited classes during the cruise). Again, shore days will cut into the classes that you can attend. There was a constant push to buy expensive services like skin treatments to reduce facial lines and sagging. The staff was friendly, but you didn't get much interest from them if you just wanted to do free stuff.

Other shipboard activities included the usual art auctions, sales at the shops, photography packages on offer, etc. There were frequent trivia competitions in the bars, a scavenger hunt (which we won, thanks to being first back plus having one item that was worth 10 points), and "The Quest" which is a hoot for players and spectators alike. We leaned towards the free activities to show that some people like those and don't need to pay money for everything to have fun.

Cuddy, the cruise director, really made things great. He seemed to be everywhere, introducing shows, promoting activities around the ship, and being part of special nights like the 70s dance party in the Centrum. I have not seen such a wild, fun "Village People" tribute before. Having Cuddy dressed up as the construction worker just topped it off. This night seemed to be a highlight for the entertainment staff too.

The naturalist we had on board to talk about the glaciers was knowledgable, but not that good at communicating. I felt that he provided the same info during the on-deck commentary and the scheduled talks. We also had talks by a former RCMP (Mountie) telling of the life they lead and what they really do.

We had great weather during the cruise: sun in port, a little colder and windier at sea, but I can't complain at all. We kept hearing that the weather was the best the locals had seen in weeks, so we felt quite blessed to be cruising this particular week. Of course, your experience will be different.

The ports were pretty typical for this itinerary. I'll summarize our experiences. I'm more willing to book tours on my own if they leave first thing in the morning, but the afternoon ones should be booked through the ship so they won't leave without you if you get back late (which happened to us in three of four ports). There were 4-5 ships in port at each of the stops we made, except Icy Strait Point where we were the only ship.

Ketchikan: A fun little town, but not much to do if you don't buy an excursion. We went on a floatplane trip to the Misty Fjords with Carlin Air, since the ship's excursion was sold out. You'll save some money booking it on your own. The air charter companies will meet you at the dock. There is also a row of kiosks where you can book a tour on the spot. The cost could be slightly higher cost that advance booking online, but perhaps you can negotiate with the people there. We walked around town, went to the Totem Heritage Center, and had some lunch at the Alaska Fish House next to the pier. We skipped the lumberjack show. Our time here was sadly quite limited, or we might have been able to fit in a trip via bus to Totem Bight or Saxman.

Juneau: A nice city, lots to do, pleasant to walk and shop in the local stores. We took the tramway to the top of Mt. Roberts. It was one of the warmest days they had seen in months. We had lunch at Tracy's Crab Shack (famous, a little touristy but very popular for good reasons). We walked a few blocks to the state capitol building, but could not see that much without going up a few floors. We then took a helicopter tour in the late afternoon (pilot's choice, two landings, highly recommended if you can get it) and returned in time to walk around some more and grab a bite at Deckhand Dave's right on the pier next to our ship.

Icy Strait Point: We enjoyed this stop. We took a little walk in the woods, checked out the old salmon cannery, but we had little time left after we did the bears/whale watching trip. We saw two bears plus whales having fun, sea otters, porpoises, sea lions, etc. We liked the involvement of the native people in presenting the history. You can book the same trips on site if you haven't booked them on the ship, and I did not check to see if the prices were any different than the advance bookings This port was developed with Royal Caribbean (we called it "Coco Cay of Alaska") and it was very nice.

Skagway: A fun place, small enough to walk around or ride the ($5/day) bus. The dock is not that close to the town, so you'll have a bit of a walk. My wife did the glass blowing, which she enjoyed; I walked a bit, took some photos and enjoyed some shopping. We both went on the White Pass and Yukon rail excursion, which returned about 45 mins late but dropped us off right at the dock. The weather was perfect again, if perhaps a bit warm.

Departure at Seward was uneventful, but we were delayed a bit. We joined a post-cruise tour, so they picked us up right at the dock. More on the post-cruise tour in another review.
MkeCruzn’s Full Rating Summary
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Embarkation
Dining
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Cabin Review

Cabin 2024
The cabin was good overall. Deck 2 does not get a lot of motion from the ship and is quiet at night (you don't hear music from any of the bars or activities).
If they put the top-performing cabin attendants in the suites and upper decks, one can figure out that Deck 2, or "steerage", gets the less-competent cabin attendants. Ours missed some small details along they way, like no shower mat one day (we made do with a hand towel). We didn't have towel animals every day, but the ones we had were done well.
  Radiance of the Seas Deck Plans

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

  • Whale Watching
    We enjoyed this stop. We took a little walk in the woods, checked out the old salmon cannery, but we had little time left after we did the bears/whale watching trip. We saw whales having fun (tail slaps, breaches), sea otters, porpoises, sea lions, etc. We liked the involvement of the native people in presenting the history. You can book the same trips on site if you haven't booked them on the ship, and I did not check to see if the prices were any different than the advance bookings. This port was developed with Royal Caribbean (we called it "Coco Cay of Alaska") and it was very nice.
    View All 132 Whale Watching Reviews
  • Wildlife Tour
    This was part of a combination tour. We saw two bears, one from the first platform and one from the last platform. We had to convince the guide that we all came to see bears and wanted to stay a bit longer. Even leaving 10 minutes after the expected time, we still had 15 minutes to wait before we boarded the whale watching boat.
    View All 62 Wildlife Tour Reviews
  • Helicopter Tour
    We did the "pilot's choice" tour, which is highly recommended and worth the extra cost. We had only four of us on the tour, and landed twice: once on Taku Glacier and once on a patch of snow near open tundra. It was really spectacular weather, with 150+ miles visibility and light winds. Our pilot was great, friendly, nice to talk to, and he took whatever pictures of us we wanted.
    View All 107 Helicopter Tour Reviews
  • Mount Roberts Tramway
    This was a nice way to visit the top of the mountain. We wanted to walk around a bit and see something other than the city. The ticket is good all day, but we found that everyone wanted to go back down the tramway at the same time we did, so there was a 20 minute wait. Something to keep in mind if you have to be down on a schedule.
    View All 217 Mount Roberts Tramway Reviews
  • Misty Fjords Flightseeing
    Beautiful weather, great pilot and wonderful experience. Carlin Air used an independent operator who was really good. We had two landings and got out of the plane at one of them to walk around and take pictures. They have to cancel trips due to the weather, so we felt fortunate to have really perfect weather on our visit. Highly recommended.
    View All 148 Misty Fjords Flightseeing Reviews
  • Seward
    No time here. All we did was get off the ship and board our motorcoach to head to Anchorage for our post-cruise tour.
    View All 176 Seward Cruise Port Reviews
    View Cruise Critic's Seward Cruise Port Review
  • Glass Blowing
    Only my wife did this, and she said she had a great time. I have some pictures to prove that! They will ship her glass piece to us after it's cooled and ready to go.
    View All 25 Glass Blowing Reviews
  • White Pass Scenic Railway
    I liked the rail trip overall. The route is nice. The weather was great. We did get back late (afternoon trip) but the ship waited for the hundreds who were on the train. We were in a handicap railcar, so it was less crowded, but the train was packed and access to the outside platform was very limited. I would imagine that the regular cars would have even more issues with people wanting to share the outside platforms for photos. The weather was warm and the train cars were rather warm inside too. We all wanted to jump in Summit Lake where we turned around, but of course that was not possible to do. They said they were expanding the capacity of the rail line to handle more/larger ships that they expect to get in the future. A good problem to have!
    View All 1,026 White Pass Scenic Railway Reviews
  • Vancouver
    We stayed here a few extra days at the start of the cruise. It's a nice city with good restaurants and things to do. Our departure was delayed by several hours as we waited for late-arriving airline passengers.
    View All 615 Vancouver Cruise Port Reviews
    View Cruise Critic's Vancouver Cruise Port Review