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I had done an Alaska cruise on this same ship a couple of years ago with friends, but this time it was with my mom and SO. TL/DR: * Suites are sweet and you should do it at least once in your life * Royal Caribbean is awesome onboard for special needs, like food allergies and limited mobility * Radiance class ships are the absolute perfect size * RCCL invests in great entertainment * RCCL staff are second-to-none * RCCL does need to invest in refinishing all surfaces, and maybe more durable materials * RCCL should do more communication with people with special needs before cruises * Cruise travel with a service dog is not easy * Vancouver port needs a lot more work to be customer-friendly * Don't count on the same level of onboard activities with the entertainment staff The deets: About my crew: me and my SO are active, 40-ish, and are Emerald Level (I've been on over 12 cruises). I have a capsacin food allergy, which is uncommon and comes up a lot as peppers are in like everything. My mom hadn't been on a cruise in 40 years and is limited mobility, using a walker and a large, 90-pound mobility service dog. She has a black pepper allergy, even harder to avoid. My mom lives in Seattle, and the journey starts there. We took the morning Amtrak Cascades up to Vancouver, which was a perfect start to the cruise. We got into Vancouver in plenty of time to take a cab to the cruise port and get on the ship for lunch. I'm used to walking/public transport to cruise terminals, so it was cool to see the cabs at Canada Place drop you off inside the parking garage (so no worry about weather) and right where the bag porters are. So when we entered Canada Place, we expected the check-in to be right there, and wheelchair valets for folks with disabilities (no such luck). Instead, we were directed to elevators. We probably walked 1/2 mile or more overall, between check-in, customs, and so on before we got to the ship. We even passed wheelchair valets waiting for a call, and no one in the process indicated how long of a walk it may be. With my mom obviously mobility limited, I was surprised at that. Luckily, after several breaks, she managed onto the ship. Once on the ship, she was quickly taken care of for an easy way to get to a sitting spot. This was my first suite (see details below). It is awesome to have a taste of the upper tier. Leaving all that relates to being in the suites in the cabin review below. We ate at the MDR every night. I like that the my time dining has been moved to the lower floor of the MDR so there are more seats and variety of seats. We were able to reserve the same table and same time for the whole cruise. My mom and I both have weird food allergies (above), so it's really important to have consistent dining staff. We did fill out the special needs form beforehand, but you really have to communicate food allergies to the head waiter and your specific wait staff the first meal. I prefer to bring a paper listing all of the foods/types that I can't eat so there's no confusion. Our wait staff were excellent, not only taking care of us for dinner, but passing along meal requests to Windjammer and other venues for breakfast and lunch and special meals. You can't be as spontaneous, since you have to order food the day before, but you have peace of mind. Being as it was early in the season, they had Atlantic salmon on the menu the first few nights, but then had Alaskan seafood near the end once we hit the Alaskan ports. The food was excellent as always, with a broad variety, inventive dishes, fresh, and delicious. The biggest bummer was that the MDR wasn't open for lunch during port days (so most all days). During the day, the stars were the ports. I've done the active shore excursions and the cultural ones, you really can't go wrong. But you have to always plan that your day will contain rain, and book accordingly. We didn't have that problem this particular cruise; all of our days were sunny or partly cloudy and mid 60s. But, if you happen to get back early on the boat or decide to stay on the boat, don't count on a wide variety of entertainment staff activities. Maybe some trivia, games here and there. But they really don't program much of anything, expecting everyone to be out on shore. Note: even though the Icy Strait Point port said we would be tendering, we did dock. Accessibility excursion notes: the Saxman Totem tour was awesome as they set up a smaller bus; you have to be able to board the bus, but it was nice to have the shorter steps and easy seating. The Icy Strait Point whale watching tour was very good on the boat, but because of low tides we had to go to the far end of the boardwalk to get aboard (usually it's on the dock right next to the ship); luckily, they have an electric cart for mobility access. The WP&YR railroad is also great for accessibility, short walk if you can make it; if not, they have a cart--they also have a dedicated handicapped car with a larger bathroom. The ship had just taken on a new dance crew, so we didn't have any production shows. The one night we were to have a production show (Piano Man), the seas were rough and some of the crew were seasick, much less the difficulty of dancing on a rockin' ship. The acts we had were awesome: comedy, magic, juggling, etc. There was always an option of movies day, afternoon, and evening both beside the pool and in the cinema. I was pleased by the variety of movies they showed, from Blue Hawaii to Bohemian Rhapsody to Carmen (the opera). Speaking on onboard activities, the Alaska cruises always have some kind of enrichment speaker. We had a retired mountie who was new,so I'm sure he'll get better as he goes. The couple doing the Alaska history talks were awesome and should be onboard most this season. Ship environment: Radiance OTS was last refurbished in 2016, but honestly, it doesn't look it. There's a lot of wear in the wood and fabrics that make it seem older. However, the ship mechanicals all worked the whole cruise. This ship is a perfect size to have a variety of activity centers, like the cinema, pub, and Starquest lounge, while not being too big for walking (especially if you can't walk far distances). We got to meet most everyone on the ship--you don't get far with a dog without people noticing. Ship accessibility: This was my first cruise where I worried about accessibility. We had a cabin just off the Centrum elevators, so my mom had only a short walk to get anywhere. The longest was a 75 ft. walk to the theater. It was easy to get in and out of and get an accessible seat in the MDR and theater, and you could get into every venue. Handicapped bathrooms were well-placed to the main venues. I could see, though, if there were more than 4-5 scooters or mobility devices onboard, the accessibility would get more frustrating. Where my mom had problems was getting over the thresholds of the exterior doors (i.e., walking to the deck 5 exterior deck). These thresholds need to be smoothed out to meet ADA requirements--she had to physically lift the walker to get over them. Service dog: RCCL did accommodate the service dog, but could have done better. We filled out all of the requisite paperwork, and the ship seemed ready for us. By booking RCCL shore excursions, they passed forward info about the service dog. However, the dog relief station could have been better. It was located right next to the smoking section, on the walk to the helipad. So mom had to endure smoke to take her dog out, and since it is not used to people being around when it uses the facilities, I had to literally stop people coming down from the helipad. The box is 4'x4', with a plywood lid that mom couldn't lift and needed my help when the staff put the lid back on. The box was filled with shavings litter, even though they offer sod on the accessibility form, but the shavings weren't replaced or refreshed the whole cruise. There was a little can beside the box to dispose of poop. We wish that RCCL had been in communication with us before the cruise about the litter box and its location (I had to hunt it down once on board because no one knew about it). If we had known they couldn't provide sod this journey, we could have trained the dog to use shavings. And if we had known the location of the box and the distance from our cabin, we could have trained the dog appropriately. Lastly, let's talk about why to choose RCCL. There's always people that like one cruise line over another for some reason, so here's my spiel for why this line. I've been on all the major lines but HAL. I love the people that cruise RCCL--not too party, not all old, great balance of ages, and not too many kids. And I love even more the staff of RCCL--I've run into staff that remember me 4 years later on a different ship, and there is a loyalty to the cruise line and the customers that I like to come back to every cruise. And you get a great value for your $$.

Alaska cruises + RCCL = Awesome!

Radiance of the Seas Cruise Review by MDtechiecruiser

8 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: May 2019
  • Destination: Alaska
  • Cabin Type: Owner's Suite - 1 Bedroom
I had done an Alaska cruise on this same ship a couple of years ago with friends, but this time it was with my mom and SO.

TL/DR:

* Suites are sweet and you should do it at least once in your life

* Royal Caribbean is awesome onboard for special needs, like food allergies and limited mobility

* Radiance class ships are the absolute perfect size

* RCCL invests in great entertainment

* RCCL staff are second-to-none

* RCCL does need to invest in refinishing all surfaces, and maybe more durable materials

* RCCL should do more communication with people with special needs before cruises

* Cruise travel with a service dog is not easy

* Vancouver port needs a lot more work to be customer-friendly

* Don't count on the same level of onboard activities with the entertainment staff

The deets:

About my crew: me and my SO are active, 40-ish, and are Emerald Level (I've been on over 12 cruises). I have a capsacin food allergy, which is uncommon and comes up a lot as peppers are in like everything. My mom hadn't been on a cruise in 40 years and is limited mobility, using a walker and a large, 90-pound mobility service dog. She has a black pepper allergy, even harder to avoid.

My mom lives in Seattle, and the journey starts there. We took the morning Amtrak Cascades up to Vancouver, which was a perfect start to the cruise. We got into Vancouver in plenty of time to take a cab to the cruise port and get on the ship for lunch.

I'm used to walking/public transport to cruise terminals, so it was cool to see the cabs at Canada Place drop you off inside the parking garage (so no worry about weather) and right where the bag porters are. So when we entered Canada Place, we expected the check-in to be right there, and wheelchair valets for folks with disabilities (no such luck). Instead, we were directed to elevators. We probably walked 1/2 mile or more overall, between check-in, customs, and so on before we got to the ship. We even passed wheelchair valets waiting for a call, and no one in the process indicated how long of a walk it may be. With my mom obviously mobility limited, I was surprised at that. Luckily, after several breaks, she managed onto the ship. Once on the ship, she was quickly taken care of for an easy way to get to a sitting spot.

This was my first suite (see details below). It is awesome to have a taste of the upper tier. Leaving all that relates to being in the suites in the cabin review below.

We ate at the MDR every night. I like that the my time dining has been moved to the lower floor of the MDR so there are more seats and variety of seats. We were able to reserve the same table and same time for the whole cruise. My mom and I both have weird food allergies (above), so it's really important to have consistent dining staff. We did fill out the special needs form beforehand, but you really have to communicate food allergies to the head waiter and your specific wait staff the first meal. I prefer to bring a paper listing all of the foods/types that I can't eat so there's no confusion. Our wait staff were excellent, not only taking care of us for dinner, but passing along meal requests to Windjammer and other venues for breakfast and lunch and special meals. You can't be as spontaneous, since you have to order food the day before, but you have peace of mind. Being as it was early in the season, they had Atlantic salmon on the menu the first few nights, but then had Alaskan seafood near the end once we hit the Alaskan ports. The food was excellent as always, with a broad variety, inventive dishes, fresh, and delicious. The biggest bummer was that the MDR wasn't open for lunch during port days (so most all days).

During the day, the stars were the ports. I've done the active shore excursions and the cultural ones, you really can't go wrong. But you have to always plan that your day will contain rain, and book accordingly. We didn't have that problem this particular cruise; all of our days were sunny or partly cloudy and mid 60s. But, if you happen to get back early on the boat or decide to stay on the boat, don't count on a wide variety of entertainment staff activities. Maybe some trivia, games here and there. But they really don't program much of anything, expecting everyone to be out on shore. Note: even though the Icy Strait Point port said we would be tendering, we did dock.

Accessibility excursion notes: the Saxman Totem tour was awesome as they set up a smaller bus; you have to be able to board the bus, but it was nice to have the shorter steps and easy seating. The Icy Strait Point whale watching tour was very good on the boat, but because of low tides we had to go to the far end of the boardwalk to get aboard (usually it's on the dock right next to the ship); luckily, they have an electric cart for mobility access. The WP&YR railroad is also great for accessibility, short walk if you can make it; if not, they have a cart--they also have a dedicated handicapped car with a larger bathroom.

The ship had just taken on a new dance crew, so we didn't have any production shows. The one night we were to have a production show (Piano Man), the seas were rough and some of the crew were seasick, much less the difficulty of dancing on a rockin' ship. The acts we had were awesome: comedy, magic, juggling, etc. There was always an option of movies day, afternoon, and evening both beside the pool and in the cinema. I was pleased by the variety of movies they showed, from Blue Hawaii to Bohemian Rhapsody to Carmen (the opera).

Speaking on onboard activities, the Alaska cruises always have some kind of enrichment speaker. We had a retired mountie who was new,so I'm sure he'll get better as he goes. The couple doing the Alaska history talks were awesome and should be onboard most this season.

Ship environment: Radiance OTS was last refurbished in 2016, but honestly, it doesn't look it. There's a lot of wear in the wood and fabrics that make it seem older. However, the ship mechanicals all worked the whole cruise. This ship is a perfect size to have a variety of activity centers, like the cinema, pub, and Starquest lounge, while not being too big for walking (especially if you can't walk far distances). We got to meet most everyone on the ship--you don't get far with a dog without people noticing.

Ship accessibility: This was my first cruise where I worried about accessibility. We had a cabin just off the Centrum elevators, so my mom had only a short walk to get anywhere. The longest was a 75 ft. walk to the theater. It was easy to get in and out of and get an accessible seat in the MDR and theater, and you could get into every venue. Handicapped bathrooms were well-placed to the main venues. I could see, though, if there were more than 4-5 scooters or mobility devices onboard, the accessibility would get more frustrating. Where my mom had problems was getting over the thresholds of the exterior doors (i.e., walking to the deck 5 exterior deck). These thresholds need to be smoothed out to meet ADA requirements--she had to physically lift the walker to get over them.

Service dog: RCCL did accommodate the service dog, but could have done better. We filled out all of the requisite paperwork, and the ship seemed ready for us. By booking RCCL shore excursions, they passed forward info about the service dog. However, the dog relief station could have been better. It was located right next to the smoking section, on the walk to the helipad. So mom had to endure smoke to take her dog out, and since it is not used to people being around when it uses the facilities, I had to literally stop people coming down from the helipad. The box is 4'x4', with a plywood lid that mom couldn't lift and needed my help when the staff put the lid back on. The box was filled with shavings litter, even though they offer sod on the accessibility form, but the shavings weren't replaced or refreshed the whole cruise. There was a little can beside the box to dispose of poop. We wish that RCCL had been in communication with us before the cruise about the litter box and its location (I had to hunt it down once on board because no one knew about it). If we had known they couldn't provide sod this journey, we could have trained the dog to use shavings. And if we had known the location of the box and the distance from our cabin, we could have trained the dog appropriately.

Lastly, let's talk about why to choose RCCL. There's always people that like one cruise line over another for some reason, so here's my spiel for why this line. I've been on all the major lines but HAL. I love the people that cruise RCCL--not too party, not all old, great balance of ages, and not too many kids. And I love even more the staff of RCCL--I've run into staff that remember me 4 years later on a different ship, and there is a loyalty to the cruise line and the customers that I like to come back to every cruise. And you get a great value for your $$.
MDtechiecruiser’s Full Rating Summary
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Cabin Review

Owner's Suite - 1 Bedroom
Cabin OS 1064
My first suite, it was sweet! We had 3 adults and a service dog in the room.

I couldn't believe all the room; it was bigger than my first apartment. It has huge closets and sooo many drawers. There is a refrigerator and bar area, as well as a desk in the bedroom. It includes a 4-person dining table, coffee table, and sofa with chaise lounge. The balcony was okay size, fitting a chaise and a small table with 2 chairs with not a lot of extra room. It also has a nice bay window in the bedroom with a chair and ottoman, perfect for viewing glaciers in comfort. The bathroom is well-appointed with a toilet and bidet, double sinks, jacuzzi whirlpool tub, and oversized glass-door shower.

The suite has a pillow-top bed, which wasn't the softest in the world, but softer than normal beds. The second bed is the couch folded out. It's not a "sofa-bed", it's more like a futon. So the side that was the seats is okay comfort, but the side that was the back of the couch is terribly hard and has no comfort. I was disappointed that this is considered a second bed for the suite. At least I had a really nice pillow from the "pillow menu".

Note: there are 5 plugs in the room, much more than a normal cabin. However, 4 of these plugs are in a tall cabinet in the bedroom (where the safe is), and one on the desk in the bedroom. Given you have a coffee maker and hot water pot in the bar area, I would have expected at least one outlet there. And, as usual, no real plug in the bathroom.

The room condition was good and bad. The marble and granite and artwork felt opulent. However, there was damage and delamination of wood in a number of spots. And, there was staining on the couch fabric at the foot area. Even though the room is right below the corner of the Windjammer, we never heard any noise from the Windjammer except on the glacier day, when everyone was dragging chairs to the windows.

With the suites, you get a lot of benefits that you share with Pinnacles and (sometimes) Key Club: special checkin line, special seating in the theater (reserved up to 5 minutes before showtime), breakfast in Chops Grill, seating in Izumi when you are eating at the Windjammer, a special brunch on Day 2. Usually, there's a behind-the-scenes tour, but there's not enough sea days on the Alaska cruise to do so.

There's also the concierge lounge on deck 13 that's separate from the diamond club. Open bar 4:30-8, continental breakfast, light snacks before dinner. The staff there were amazing, and it was cool to mingle with so many veteran cruisers. You could ask the concierge for anything (he staffs during the drinks time), and there's also a time the nextcruise person come up there. There's not that many window seats so don't go there for the view, but do go for the quiet during non-happy hour times.

I'm not used to having such service (or even a balcony), and we needed the extra room, so it was definitely worth it to invest in a suite for the Alaska cruise.
Deck 10 Inside Cabins, Balcony Cabins, Suite Cabins