Four seniors escaping from the Arizona heat to Vancouver on Sept. 6. Flew in 1 night early - our party of 2 - and stayed near the YVR airport at Ramada Inn as it had a free shuttle and free breakfast. Room was small but clean and quiet. On boarding day (9/7) we joined with another cruise couple at our hotel and split a cab to Canada Place. $36.30 + tip CDN. 30 minutes after arrival we were on board the ship - one of the fastest check ins and boardings ever for us. Kudos to the folks at the Vancouver Cruise Terminal and RCL. Staterooms available at 115 pm, departure on time at 515 pm. Our group of 4 had the 530 traditional dining each night in the MDR.
THE CRUISE - 10 days total, 5 sea days then 5 Hawaii ports - Hilo on the big island, was replaced by Lahaina for 2 days. So Lahaina 2 days, Hana - 1 day, Kauai - 1 day with a drop at Honolulu on the final morning. Lahaina and Hana were both tenders so that is more of a challenge and problem to come and go.
OUR CABIN - mid ship interior Deck 3 - good for the 5 sea days due to some 6 - 8 ft. swells. Room was quiet, clean in good shape, bed comfortable, room temp good and cold for sleeping. Attendant Elmer did an excellent job for us and was always pleasant. Flat screen TV with a good variety of cable channels and generally a good picture.
SHIP CONDITION - Though one of the older ships, 2300 passengers and 13 decks, we found it in great shape and was kept clean. Plenty of friendly staff who did their job well. Captain Ryan - low profile but daily announcements at 12 noon with our status.
With the 5 sea days we played lots of trivia - Hannah, James, Sophie were usually in charge - they were fun and entertaining.
FELLOW PASSENGERS - a diverse group - mostly 60 and up but I would say 20% were 30 to 60 in age, some young families - approximately 80 children on board and a number of pre school. Always enjoy talking with people from all over the US and the world on these cruises. Everyone I spoke to was friendly and pleasant.
SHOWS/ENTERTAINMENT - Cruise Director John Blair we liked and enjoyed but it appears RCL has decidedly cut this budget. We normally go to the evening show after dining. Some of the shows and entertainers were okay, many were just fair to mediocre. No WOW on the evening shows on this cruise, but at least it was easy to get a seat to attend.
DINING - at every evening meal in the MDR at 530 pm. 2 formal nights - waiters - Salvador and Benny - fun to deal with, did their job well and made dinner a good time for all. Food selection always good, service always good, food quality normally good, pacing of meal good - not too slow - not too fast.
Ate in 1 specialty restaurant, Giovanni’s for lunch - ½ the dinner price - great meal, great service, excellent meal and dessert. Total price including tip for 4 (no alcohol) was $75. The chocolate cake alone was worth the price of the meal.
Had lunch 1 time in the dining room for a change - very good too. Normally did breakfast and lunch in the windjammer. We were happy there with the selection and taste, cleanliness, staff attitude and their job performance. Weakest item in the WJ was the desserts (we felt).
Windjammer - additional comment - most every morning as I tried to enjoy my breakfast, usually at 7 AM, the very loud, hip hop music was blaring above our table, sometimes too loud to even have a conversation. Does anyone in the WJ management see who is eating breakfast at 7 AM ? I guess not or who is the music really for - the employees or the paying customers? This could be so much better for all these 60 year olds as they try to converse and enjoy their breakfast. There are so many good music choices that could be made for us to dine by. Perhaps a majority of instrumentals as a suggestion. Music like this is okay at lunch or dinner but please not at 7 AM - please look at this hard and address it.
FITNESS CENTER - Did not use
FAVORITE LOUNGE - the one on deck 13 - great for reading, chatting or playing games.
MEDICAL UNIT - Unfortunately our friends had the chance to use the medical unit. She saw their 2 doctors and was very pleased with their treatment and handling of her problem. Also the nursing staff was very knowledgable. Only downside is charges go right on the sea pass - no insurance claims here, but even at that was not excessively priced.
INTERNET - the fastest I’ve seen on a cruise ship. Offered 1 hour for $9.99 - worked for us. Big improvement here on rates and speed - at least on the Radiance.
SLOTS - CASINO - 186 slot machines and 10 tables, mostly older machines but some new too. Some of the lowest minimum bet machines in abundance - many could be played for 10 to 30 cents a spin and I think an above average pay out for a cruise ship casino. We played every day but stuck to our budget - casino opened each day at 8 AM but once in Hawaiian waters the entire casino closed the last 5 days of our cruise.
BINGO - like the slots - once in Hawaiian waters no more bingo so again that was for the last 5 days of the cruise.
We usually do not play ship bingo feeling it is too expensive for the prizes and is way too short but we tried it this time. Buy in was $29 to $69 per player for 3 games on 4 of the sessions, 1 session was a cover all for 1 game only for $30.
These 4 different days consisted of 3 games per session - first was a regular bingo, 2nd 4 corner bingo, 3rd the X. Bingo was hit very quickly, in some cases 4 or 5 numbers and that game was over on games 1 and 2. Took about 10 mins to play the 3 games and we were done. I urged them to do some longer games - I want more play for $29 minimum buying those 3 games. I feel if they brought the price down and did more lengthy games there would be more participation (and enjoyment) !! This suggestion fell on deaf ears.
SEA DAY ACTIVITY - we felt this was a really weak point on this cruise - not much going on during the afternoon - how about some shows in the afternoon - the Serenade had them 1 year ago while on there. Just not enough going on to help fill those sea days.
DRINK PRICES - the coca colas were $3.84 (including tip) and the alcohol seemed to start at $12 per drink + 18%. Far too expensive and little chance to buy a special or happy hour. As a result we did not buy 1 alcoholic drink this cruise.
SUMMARY - Well we did kind of escape the Arizona heat for a short period. Most all of our Hawaii time on shore it was hot and humid - unusual according to the locals.
1 year ago we took the sister ship, the Serenade one way Copenhagen to Boston - that experience vs. this one is 180 degrees. The Serenade provided us with our worst MDR dining experience ever on RCL, from the wait staff, their attitude, food selection and delivery, dinner pacing, a challenge every night to dine. The entire atmosphere of that ship vs. the Radiance was entirely different - like the attitude of the staff wherever you went - so positive on the Radiance. I guess the overall experience is very ship specific. The only area we liked better on Serenade was they provided more to do on sea days, as that itinerary had 5 sea days as well.
Friends did a Celebrity future booking while on board - the $100 each deposit program is still in place and nice to be able to book Celebrity and RCL while onboard.
Just a few complaints from us as mentioned, otherwise very satisfied - this experience was what we expect of RCL as we cruise with them and why we continue to return.
We stayed at the Ramada in Richmond, near the airport as it provided free shuttle from the airport and was very reasonable in cost for Vancouver plus a free breakfast the next morning. Having been to Vancouver several times did no touring there but sure did enjoy the cool temps vs. Phoenix. Our friends stayed at the Hampton downtown, which offered them a free shuttle from hotel to Canada place on cruise day - they used points for their stay. We were able to share a cab with another cruise couple in our hotel which cost $36.30 + tip (canadian $) so very convenient and inexpensive to get to the pier the next day. Our room at Ramada was small but quiet, comfortable and so reasonable for this city.
Lahaina was our 1st stop after 5 sea days and was a tender so more of a hassle to come and go. Wound up adding a 2nd day here as our Hilo stop was cancelled - city was okay - took no tour - have been on Maui several times before. What really left an impression was how hot and humid this port day was - we walked around for 2 hours early in the day, no breeze just hot and humid. Not much memorable in the shopping area though scenery was good as you might expect.
Very pretty stop but a mile or so from the city - merchants ran free shuttles to their stores which we utilized. Coolest weather of our Hawaii ports - not a tender. We got off and did some walking near the ship - enjoyed the grounds of the Kauai Marriott hotel. Shops we saw had very little to offer that was new or interesting and we have been to Kauai several times prior.
We did express walk off - had a 936 am Hawaiian Air flight to Maui from here. Boat docked at 630 am - walked off about 7:50 am and were to the HNL airport by 8:20 through security and at the gate by 8:30am, no problem making 9:36 but it was rush hour in town and did take 25 minutes to do from ship to airport - we had an excellent cabbie. Taxi was $38.00 + tip for 4 of us including luggage - convenient handy and certainly the cheapest way to do this splitting a cab with four people. No wiggle room if anything went wrong with that 9:36 am departure from HNL. Fortunately it did not, RCL was charging $24.75 each to ride their shuttle to the airport.