In September 2011 we flew to Honolulu from Brisbane for our first ever cruise. Having researched a number of cruise lines and destinations the Radiance inaugural voyage to Australia. The Radiance usually does the Alaska/ Hawaii cruisers. Sometime in July Radiance went into dry dock in Vancouver and underwent a major renovation - adding restaurants, a few single cabins and sprucing up other cabins/ main areas. The ship definitely sparkles!
Our flight to Honolulu was fairly easy, despite the 5 hour lay over in Nadi, Fiji. We stayed in the airport and just relaxed/ people watched and enjoyed a rather delicious pizza. We flew Air Pacific - smallish plane but just comfortable enough for the journey.
In Honolulu (we were there for 2.5 days) we stayed at Moana Surfrider - a hotel we can highly recommend! It was charming, luxurious and just went way beyond our expectations. For $365AUD for a Classic Ocean Banyon room it was worth paying more than what we would normally. It was a special occasion so we thought 'Why not!'.
Excited by the cruise we triple checked our boarding passes and realised that despite the cruise guest booklet we had been emailed/ downloaded from the Royal Caribbean website stating the boarding time was 9pm (we thought that was odd) it was actually 1.30pm - though they were accepting passengers from 11am. We gave up any plans of a visit to Pearl Harbour - packed up and headed to the terminal.
Boarding was a breeze! Even though we had a trainee learning the ropes to check us in it was smooth and uncomplicated. In no time we were on the ship - with our new favourite thing: the Sea Pass. Straight into our room to have a look around before we explored the ship. We had a balcony room on the 7th floor - room 7122. Perfect for us. Great size. Amazing storage and very comfortable bed.
For the next 17 days we enjoyed every moment of our holiday. So much so it would be hard to pick a favourite activity. We tried every restaurant and not once let down. However some of the serving sizes are just completely overboard! Tip: if you go to Samba Grill - don't eat much that day - save yourself!
The entertainment was a little cheesy but gave us a laugh. The bars were fun and we made some great friends that we enjoyed several nights out with. The pool deck can get crowded but eventually we always found a seat and enjoyed the pool that at times felt like a wave pool because of the swells in the ocean. Fun!
We enjoyed a few shore excursions - taking advantage of a lot of advice to not book on the ship. There were so many options at the wharf in each port of call and usually 1/3 of the price! We highly recommend a helicopter ride over Bora Bora (about $450 for 15mins for 2 people) stunning!!!
The staff on the Radiance were always on top of their game. Never once letting us down and not a grumpy one amongst all 900 of them (that we saw!). Most of the staff had never been to Australia before so they were excited about the new summer season cruising in Australia / New Zealand. We were sad to disembark in Sydney as we would have desperately loved to cruise all the way around to Perth. Maybe next time!
Our photos and more in depth tips/ review can be seen on our blog. Please comment - we would love to hear your stories and answer questions. As first time cruisers we have found our passion! Just have to plan the next one :)
Cabin 7122 - Great size with a decent size bed. Fantastic uninterrupted view. Spotless and plenty of storage in the hallway. Bathroom was a good size with endless hot water!
Easy port to enjoy - a bus tour around the island takes 2 hours ($25). Shuttle buses run to the main swimming beach regularly ($5). Very friendly locals, a couple of snack bars near the wharf and plenty of black pearl selling stores.