7 Royal Caribbean Radiance of the Seas British Columbia Cruise Reviews

My husband and I have taken over 15 cruises so this was not a first time experience. First, the embarking the Radiance of the Seas at Canada Place was a nightmare. Three ships were sailing from the port on the same day so the shuttles ... Read More
My husband and I have taken over 15 cruises so this was not a first time experience. First, the embarking the Radiance of the Seas at Canada Place was a nightmare. Three ships were sailing from the port on the same day so the shuttles could not park in their usual places. My husband walks with a cane and needed wheelchair assistance, but all the chairs were in use. We were told that we would have to wait 45 minutes to an hour for help. We decided to walk which was over a quarter of a mile up and down stairs and pushing past huge lines of people. We finally got on board and headed for our cabin. The cabin was roomy, clean and had lots of storage space in the closet and drawers. The shower was small with only a flimsy shower curtain. Each time we showered, the water would run onto the floor. Our cabin steward, Hamden, was wonderful. He was pleasant, courteous, and kept our room spotless without intruding on our privacy. The food: this was a real disappointment. RC has definitely gone "on the cheap". We ate in the Windjammer most meals, and the food was tasteless and below par. Everything was made into a gloppy casserole with some kind of gravy. The chicken was dry and tasteless, and the pizza tasted like cardboard. We wondered who came up with the idea of a Hot Dog Grill area instead of cooking fresh hamburgers and chicken like other cruise lines. We guessed that hot dogs are cheap. The hamburgers were precooked and left in a tin for hours instead of being freshly grilled. RC should drop the Hot Dog area and install a hamburger station. One good area was the Cafe which served fresh, make your own salads. We started going there for lunch each day since it was the best meal we had. RC offers nothing special for its guests - no lotions, individual shampoo, or conditioner. They even have dropped the nightly candy on your pillow! We realized that if we wanted to eat a truly good meal, we would have to go to one of the "specialty" restaurants which are advertised all over the ship. Guests should be able to get a good meal without having to pay an extra $20-30 per person. RC costs more than many other lines, but gives less. We sailed with RC many years ago and decided to give them another try - what a differenced! Profit seems to have trumped giving good quality. We must add that the staff was very pleasant and friendly and the service was always with a smile. This made up for a lot of deficiencies. Entertainment was good overall. The singers and dancers were energetic and the shows were well choreographed. The special guest entertainers were also very entertaining. Overall, we will go back to Princess or Celebrity when cruising again. Read Less
Sail Date September 2013
First, we had wonderful weather throughout the entire trip, so lucky!!! Also experienced the pre-cruise tour through Royal Caribbean. I was solo, so paid double for the whole experience. Tour hotels, I was placed in parking lot views at ... Read More
First, we had wonderful weather throughout the entire trip, so lucky!!! Also experienced the pre-cruise tour through Royal Caribbean. I was solo, so paid double for the whole experience. Tour hotels, I was placed in parking lot views at both the McKinley Village Lodge and The Talkeetna Alaskan Lodge. I went straight to the front desk at McKinley, and nicely asked if there were any river front rooms available. Dear Ricky immediately obliged me and moved my bags. I spent the rest of the day in heaven, right in front of the river, loving that view! Thanks Ricky! At the Talkeetna Alaskan Lodge, after seeing the parking lot room, I went to the front desk and asked about a Denali range view, such as my fellow travelers were given, only to be told there were rooms available, and I could have one for $100 upcharge. Rather insulting, since I was being charged same as a couple on this trip. Eventually, it was worked out, and the $100 upcharge was waived. So, then, I was able to love the view of the entire Denali range, clear as a bell, incredible!!! Otherwise, the land tour was really great, my favorite part of the trip, really. On the ship... This was the second cruise of the season for Radiance. Many of the employees didn't really know what they were talking about. First night we ate at Park Cafe, as we were told Cascades was closed. Incorrect information. Breakfasts in dining room, just ok, rancid bacon one day, food never actually hot, service indifferent. Dinners were very good, and we ate in Cascades, main dining room, every night after the first mis-direction. Really enjoyed our evening waiters, Norberto and Ariel. Really worked hard for us, great magic tricks, Norberto! My cabin was 9074. Very nice with a fantastic view of the most beautiful scenery! I would have that cabin again, if I were ever to go on Royal Caribbean again, which I won't. I would get my coffee room service every morning, WONDERFUL!!! I would sit out on my balcony bundled in jacket and socks over jammies and watch the beautiful world go by!Room service for coffee was wonderful! The only really royal feeling I got! I had a good room attendant, Rosli, who kept my room neat, so did I, and made several different towel animals, which I liked very much. The bathroom was tiny, tiny! size of a small rv head, really, and smelled like any little boat head. Having owned several sail boats, it reminded me of old times. HINT, get some lysol before you board, and keep it in the head, this helps a little. Now, here is where I notice all the little corners being cut by RC. The only toiletry in the whole cabin was made in China bar soap in the head. What is Royal about that! Glad I had already read this, and brought my own. Also, in the buffet, cheap, tasteless, olive oil and balsamic vinegar! Try something else. Once the norovirus hit, everything changed on the ship. To use the buffet, all employees were there to serve you from plastic gloved hands, many of these employees had never served before, it was an all-call to action! I have been taking probiotics for a couple of years, now, and suggest it for anyone thinking of cruising. Although I got it, I only had mild symptoms for a day. I will always believe it was food poisoning from the rancid bacon. Everyone who reported their case were isolated for a day. I've read that it takes longer than that to become free from being contagious. Most of us didn't report, and just dealt with it. We were told constantly to wash our hands (with the cheap chinese bar soap?) Which was a good reminder for some, I guess. Mine became raw from all the washing, but was more than happy to comply! Went to several shows, the Motown show was really very good, the Showman piano player was also very good. The other one a review medley sort of thing was lousy. Enjoyed listening to Rosario strings very much. They are two fellows, one on acoustic guitar, the other a violin. They play some classical and some music from musicals you may have seen. In the Schooner lounge, in the evenings. Nice. I felt very, very lucky not to have smokers near me, as RC allows smoking on balconies. That was very worrisome for me, and was a great relief to have nice, fresh air! Oh, my tracfone worked clearly all over Alaska, at every hotel on land, in all the ports, and on the ship at port, just not out to sea. All the hotels had wifi, and it was usually free, if not in all rooms, in all lobbies. It was easy to stay in contact with my elderly parents, until Canada. My phone no longer worked in Canada, and had to rely on e-mail. I just loved Alaska, and will probably go back, but will try a different cruise line, for sure. Read Less
Sail Date June 2013
We boarded the Radiance at approx 2.30 had lunch and returned to our cabin to await the arrival of our luggage. Everytime we asked guest relations, we were blown off, it's definitely coming, and basically don't bother us. At ... Read More
We boarded the Radiance at approx 2.30 had lunch and returned to our cabin to await the arrival of our luggage. Everytime we asked guest relations, we were blown off, it's definitely coming, and basically don't bother us. At approx. 8.15 pm, after many calls to guest relations and checking with our steward we were finally told to go down to the GR desk and look for our bags. It was there alright, in the lost baggage room, with every name tag and baggage tag torn off. It was suggested to us that the baggage handlers at San Diego pier may be a bit disgruntled as there were several other bags in the room without tags. RCCL made sure we knew these people were not RCCL employees. ......However RCCL contracts them so....... We had a large balcony but found the room painfully small, 177 sq.ft. One tiny sofa and one chair at the vanity, we were crawling over each other trying to get dressed. We have been on other ships and the standard size for a room in this category is about 195 -210 feet. The balcony isn't much use on a Coastal Cruise so you really can't get away from each other. The "mini bar" is not a bar at all. No alcohol, just a few cans of pop and water, so you have to call room service everytime you want a drink in your room. Also no bathrobes unless you have cruised 5 times and become platinum. We were lowly gold having sailed with them once before 10 yrs ago. HAL offers bathrobes to everyone, and we really missed them on the cruise as Coastal Cruises are chilly. Life boat drill was strange. Our category A1 thru A4 was directed to go to the Aurora Theatre, where we were given instructions on how to put on a life jacket, which we already had on, and then given two speeches, one by a staff member and one by the captain on 'Rules of Conduct".No bad behavior is tolerated, or excessive drinking etc. etc. I don't see why this was necessary, it's just common sense. We were never told where our lifeboats were or how to get to them or any procedure on leaving the ship. The joke was that the theatre must break off from the ship and float away on it's own. The ships is quite lovely, the food is pretty good and if you don't enjoy your dinner the staff would exchange it for something else. Only had to do this once with the Tempura, very bad. Windjammer cafe is nicely laid out with many different islands of different foods, so no long lines. I can't say I found the staff overly helpful, especially at guest relations. They have a unique way of telling you that no matter what the problem is, somehow it's your fault. EG. I should have had a clear plastic pocket on my suitcase with the name tag secured in it. My suitcase doesn't have one. Our room steward was very nice however. We sailed with HAL last fall on a coastal and just felt pampered everywhere. The small rooms, lack of mini bar in the rooms, no bathrobes would probably deter me from sailing with RCCL again. Read Less
Sail Date May 2007
Radiance of the Seas May 12-18, 2007 My wife and I took the repositioning cruise from San Diego to Vancouver May 12 through 18, 2007. This was the second cruise for both of us- both on Royal Caribbean and both on a Radiance Class ship. ... Read More
Radiance of the Seas May 12-18, 2007 My wife and I took the repositioning cruise from San Diego to Vancouver May 12 through 18, 2007. This was the second cruise for both of us- both on Royal Caribbean and both on a Radiance Class ship. (The other was on the Jewel of the Seas.) We chose this cruise mainly for the ports of call, and we were not disappointed. We arrived in San Diego two days before the cruise and spent some time at Seaport Village, the Gaslamp Quarter, Coronado, and Balboa Park. Our hotel was the Best Western Bayside Inn and it was perfect for a pre-cruise stay. They provide a free shuttle ride from the airport and also to the cruise port. That more than makes up for the lack of a free breakfast. Embarkation at the Port of San Diego was fast and easy. This was exactly the same experience as our first cruise. Since our cruise ship was scheduled to depart at 6 pm, our embarkation instructions said to arrive between 3 and 5 pm. We arrived at the port around 2:30 pm, had no trouble offloading our luggage to the port baggage handlers, and breezed through the Sea Pass card process with our Set Sail documents already completed. We boarded the ship directly and had immediate access to our cabin, balcony unit #9564 on the starboard side. We chose the starboard side thinking that we might have a view of the west coast as we headed north. However, the ship travels in the shipping lane so far from land that it really didn't matter for much of the cruise. Where the right side really paid off was when we were traveling the Straits of Juan de Fuca entering British Columbia. Here we had a terrific view of the Washington State mountains from our balcony. Our luggage arrived not more than a half hour after boarding. This was much faster than on our last cruise, and we were actually able to unpack before the muster drill. We headed off to the Tides dining room, and this is where we encountered the most difficulty on our cruise. When we reached the head waiter, we were told that we did not have a table assignment and that we would need to stand aside along the wall with all the other people who had received a table assignment of "000." I was taken completely by surprise that our request for main seating had not been accommodated. Our cruise documents listed main seating and did not contain the customary asterisk if your first seating request could not be accommodated. We waited against the wall for 15 minutes while all the other guests (arriving late) were seated. The head waiter then called up each party in the waiting list line one at a time to give them a new seating assignment for dinner. When it was our turn, we were asked to come back for second seating. When we complained about this, we were surprisingly given a table for two at main seating that night. While this was fine, it was only for that night. Our table assignment was then changed for the next night, and since we planned on dining at Portofino's the second night, we didn't actually meet our dinner table partners until much later in the cruise. Besides the seating confusion, I thought that most of the entrees were very mediocre and that the service was quite average. It was very difficult to get soft drinks delivered to the dining room in a timely fashion. As expected, the quality of the food in the alternate restaurants, Chops and Portofinos ($20 per person), was much better. The west coast weather was quite chilly and windy while we were at sea, so most on-deck activities were cancelled. However, we enjoyed the self-leveling pool tables, the technical talk by the Captain, the trivia-contests, and the wonderful shows in the Aurora Theater. The Radiance did have some additional wear compared to the newer Jewel, but we expected that and were not too disappointed in the condition of the ship. It is quite lovely if you haven't already seen the Jewel. Our first port of call was San Francisco, and it was thrilling to cruise in under the Golden Gate Bridge at daybreak with the sea lions at Pier 39 barking and Alcatraz visible through the morning fog. We booked an early-day excursion to Muir Woods and Sausolito through the cruise line, and then visited Fisherman's Wharf/Pier 39 on our own later in the day. We enjoyed our day there very much and were glad to have so much time in port. Our next port of call was Astoria, Oregon. The city was quaint and the view of the Columbia River was beautiful, but I couldn’t help thinking that this city wasn’t really ready for cruise ships. The waterfront is underdeveloped and the riverwalk trolley was unable to handle the crush of tourists pouring from cruise ship. Tour buses did handle some of the demand, but there were many people who purchased “all-day ride” tickets on the trolley who simply couldn’t reboard at any of the major stops because the trolley was always too full. We took the excursion to Cannon and Seaside Beach. We got some terrific shots of the Haystack Rock at Cannon Beach, but we were never dropped off right at the Rock. All of our stops were just a little too far to allow us get to the rock and back before the bus departed, so we were a little disappointed in the excursion. Perhaps we would have enjoyed this port better if we had taken the longer excursion to Mount St. Helens, but I’m not sure the visibility would have been very good. In short, Astoria’s waterfront has tremendous promise but it is completely unrealized at present, and cruise ships should bypass this port until that changes. After a day at sea, we arrived in Victoria, British Columbia and were immediately charmed by this beautiful city. Our excursions included the Butchart Gardens (absolutely stunning) and the Butterfly House (too crowded to enjoy). We also spent some time in downtown Victoria visiting the Empress Hotel and the Parliament building. The views from any vantage point in the city were gorgeous, and we could have definitely spent more time there. We finished up our cruise at Vancouver, British Columbia with a departure excursion which included a city highlights tour. We were somewhat disappointed by our tour bus. It had advertisements plastered all over the windows which greatly restricted our view. The ads were supposed to be “see-through” from inside the bus, but it was much like looking at everything through a gray fog. If we would have been heading back to the ship after this excursion, we probably would have complained to RCI about the quality of the bus. We spend a night at the wonderful Richmond Marriott Hotel before flying out of Vancouver Airport back to the U.S. The Vancouver Airport was fine, but if I had it to do over, I’d catch a transfer by bus back to Seattle, and fly home from there since it is cheaper. The quality of the RCI cruising experience seemed to be quite consistent from our last cruise to this one. The area most in need of improvement continues to be the standard dining room and buffet food. While the alternate restaurants always provide outstanding food and quality service, the buffet and dining room are usually quite mediocre. The featured chef selection entrees at dinner were usually the best offering. In the Windjammer, we noticed that the buffet food was seldom hot, but at least the crew does a good job at keeping item trays filled. Since, for us, cruises are not primarily about the food, we can overlook this disappointment and still consider the cruise a good value. On the plus side, our cabin, cabin attendant service, cruise shows and productions were all terrific. The ship activities were sufficient for adults, and the staff had special activities and clubs to keep kids occupied. I do, however, think this cruise itinerary is strongly geared toward adults, and especially seniors. I went on this trip feeling that RCI provides a quality cruise for a reasonable price, and my experience on the Radiance has not changed that opinion. Read Less
Sail Date May 2007
Background on us: Family of 4 traveling - 2 adults (30's) and 2 children (ages 1 and 4). This was my husband and my 5th cruise (previously one Renaissance, one Princess, 2 RCCL), my older child's 3rd cruise (previously one ... Read More
Background on us: Family of 4 traveling - 2 adults (30's) and 2 children (ages 1 and 4). This was my husband and my 5th cruise (previously one Renaissance, one Princess, 2 RCCL), my older child's 3rd cruise (previously one Princess, 1 RCCL) and my son's first cruise. Pre-cruise, we stayed at the Omni San Diego (won on Priceline) and post cruise we spent one night at the Westin Grand in Vancouver (also won on Priceline). I was wa happy with both hotels, the concierge at the Westin really went above and beyond the call of duty for us. Embarkation: Embarkation in San Diego was a breeze. A short cab ride from our hotel. We embarked at approximately 1:30 pm. There was no line or waiting at all. Simply perfect. First Impression of Radiance of the Seas: We previously sailed on this ship in 2002, so I was anxious to see how she was aging. In sum, she's aging gracefully. Yes, there are slight signs of wear - scattered carpet stains, evidence of replaced carpet, etc. However, the decor and the ship in general is as beautiful as I remembered. Our Cabin: We stayed in JS 1560 - what a gem - perfect location on the hump of the ship, sandwiched between the Royal Suite and an Owner's Suite. The JS's on Radiance class ships are huge - much larger than the mini-suite we had on Princess. We were looking for a cabin which would have enough room for the sofa to be pulled out for our 4 year old, with room left over for a crib for our one year old. We got that and more with this JS. Highly recommended in size and for the location. Our cabin steward was also very good. She was very friendly and remembered our children's names and repeatedly said hello to them throughout the cruise. Dining: We had early seating for dinner at our own table for 4 with a very efficient waitstaff, not exceedingly friendly, but very conscientious of our situation (two young children). After the first day, along with a high chair and a booster, there were glasses of milk for the children and bowls of diced fruit waiting at the table for us, so the kids were quickly occupied. We were able to bypass some courses (generally my husband and I each ordered an appetizer or salad and entree instead of all three) because there was no one else at the table. We were usually finished with dessert before other tables had had their entrees cleared. That was fine by us because our youngest only has about an hour and 15 minutes worth of patience at dinner anyway. We ate dinner in the dining room 4 of 6 nights - one night we ate in port and we ate in the Windjammer on the second formal night simply because we didn't want to pack a second formal ensemble for each of us. Aside from one lunch in the Seaview Cafe, we ate all breakfasts and lunches in the Windjammer. Food all over the ship was good - not spectacular and some things were better than others, but overall, except for the whole fruit which always seemed to be bruised, the quality was good. Children's Club - our 4 year old was an Aquanaut. She loved every minute she spent in the kids' club and would have been there the entire cruise had we allowed it. There were only 60 children between the ages of 3 -17 on the entire ship, so she got lots of attention. Highlights of her time in Adventure Ocean included looking for Fuzz Buzz (the alien), the talent show and the Pirate Parade. She came back with her face painted more than once and created lots of fun art and science projects. I can't speak highly enough of her experience there. Aquatots - our 1 year old participated in the Fisher Price Aquatots program on both sea days (it was held while we were in port on the other days) and he really enjoyed himself. Each day, the children (well, parents mostly) sang songs, the children listened to a story, colored a theme picture and played with Fisher Price toys. It was nice to meet parents of the under 3's as well (12 on board for this cruise) Entertainment: The entertainment that I saw was typical of RCCL - a comedian and a production show (the other nights I was in with the kids). I also saw the Love and Marriage Game Show and The Quest - hilarious as always. I felt that the activities staff was not quite up to scratch, especially one woman who hosted karaoke and I think towel animal folding. Her small talk left much to be desired - all she could say was "awesome". "What song are you singing? .. . Awesome." "You did an awesome job", etc. It grated on my nerves. Activities/Features of the Ship. This cruise was quite cold, so no one spent much time on deck. For example, we used the ball court before we departed San Diego and then never again. No chair hogs on this cruise. Aside from one or two brave souls in Victoria, no one swam in either the regular outdoor pool or the children's pool - it was just too cold and windy. Guest Relations and other service staff: Guest Relations and the other service staff ran hot and cold with us. It seemed that very few people had any hard information and if you asked different people the same question you got different answers. For example, because for the majority of the cruise, the temperature never rose out of the 50's, we asked at Guest Relations whether there would be any family swim time in the Solarium. They kept responding, I don't know. Then they would place three phone calls and still not have an answer. Finally on the 4th phone call they would tell us, yes - family swim will be from 12 - 2 pm. We would then run into other parents and say - did you hear - the Solarium will be open for family swim from 12 - 2? They would say, really? We were told family swim was going to be from 3 - 5. That was frustrating. Finally the Family Swim times were posted in the Cruise Compass and that helped a lot for the families and for people who actually read their Compass (but not for the many adults who gave my fully potty trained 4 year old and myself looks of disdain - like why are you invading an Adults Only area (because it's 50 degrees outside, the kids CAN'T swim anywhere else, and management has set aside this time for families - that's why!) But, then Guest Relations would turn around and be really great. I had enquired into in cabin babysitting and the next day (when I was at Guest Relations for something else) the woman remembered me and followed up on my request without my even asking. Disembarkation: The actual disembarkation process was smooth, but getting a taxi at the port? Holy Cow - I think the cab line ended up being over 3 hours. The entire city has approximately 435 cabs for a population of 1.5 million (and with three ships in port - 6,000 cruises on top of that). We eventually called our hotel (the Westin) and made arrangements with them directly. It was a nightmare. Vancouver overall was a beautiful city, I'm glad we spent an extra day there. All in all a great cruise. I'm very happy we went. Read Less
Sail Date May 2007
Radiance of the Seas Review: September 16, 2006 Pacific Northwest Cruise My husband and I departed from Vancouver, British Columbia on September 16, 2006 on a seven night Pacific Northwest one-way repositioning cruise aboard Royal ... Read More
Radiance of the Seas Review: September 16, 2006 Pacific Northwest Cruise My husband and I departed from Vancouver, British Columbia on September 16, 2006 on a seven night Pacific Northwest one-way repositioning cruise aboard Royal Caribbean's Radiance of the Seas; a relaxing voyage calling on Nanaimo and Victoria in British Columbia, Astoria Oregon and San Francisco. Our final destination was Los Angeles, California, with two days at sea. As you may already know, the Radiance has a seasonal itinerary that takes it to Alaska in the summer and to Hawaii and through the Panama Canal before arriving in south Florida, where she winters. We had a very enjoyable cruise and wouldn't hesitate to do it again. Not every aspect of the cruise was perfect, but we didn't have any major issues that put a damper on our vacation. And we found the ship, our accommodations, service and overall value to far exceed our expectations. Ship Overview The Radiance of the Seas is the first Radiance class ship to be built; it is slightly larger than Royal Caribbean's Vision class ships and a little smaller than Voyager class ships. Its design incorporates the best of both ships, including a solarium and lots of glass everywhere, making it perfect for Alaska and the Pacific Northwest as the glass provides lots of windbreaks. It also has a lot of the features that have made Voyager class ships so popular, including a rock climbing wall and two alternative restaurants. If you ask people who are familiar with Royal Caribbean's fleet, they will tell you it has many Voyager class ship features without the hoards of people. As a fan of Voyager class ships, I can see why so many people consider the Radiance class of ships their favorite. Its interior is done in muted colors and has a very upscale feel to it. The designers did a great job incorporating all the windows - those glass elevators overlooking the water while the ship is in motion are not to be missed! The Radiance was built in 2000, making it six years old. It's a fairly large ship, weighing in at around 90,000 tons; it can accommodate around 2500 people, though it was announced that we had about 2100 people. The ship was surprisingly well maintained and sparkling clean; there had been another Norwalk Virus breakout a few weeks earlier, so all the public areas were kept very clean. This issue also had a few negatives; until the captain gave the order to relax the 'outbreak procedures' no one could serve themselves in the Windjammer Buffet. This caused long lines and a lot of headaches, as they didn't bother to open up the formal dining room to ease some of the congestion. Eventually, by mid-cruise, we could serve ourselves in the buffet lines, but until then, it took twice as long to eat breakfast or lunch. Embarkation We flew into Seattle and took the cruise line bus to the port in Vancouver. After collecting our luggage, we checked in with the Royal Caribbean reps who handle the bus transfers. We waited about 20 minutes, got on the bus and arrived at Canada Place three hours later. The bus ride over took longer than our flight to Seattle! The tour bus that transported us wasn't in the best shape, but it was convenient and we arrived exactly like they said we would. We got off the bus, checked in and found that our cabin on Deck 7 wasn't ready. A land-based company was replacing all balcony dividers, and they were still working on the cabins on our deck. About the time they were announcing the lifeboat drill was when we finally could go to our room. Was it a little irritating to not be able to get to you room? Sure, but what can you do; we went to eat a late lunch and then it was off to the lifeboat drill. By the time we returned to our room, our luggage was outside our door, so we proceeded to unpack; then it was off to the Concierge Lounge to decompress. Our Stateroom We had a low-end balcony on deck 7, a very 'standard' stateroom with a nice balcony towards the front of the ship which we received as an upgrade. It was tastefully decorated; our two beds were moved together and made up as a queen size bed. The beds were okay, and by cruise end, we got used to it. But they weren't in the best of shape - some lumps and bumps mostly. I understand that the Radiance is scheduled to get new beds, so by the time you cruise, this may be a mute point. As a side note, I never sleep that well in strange beds, so more often than not, I have to make due with what we get. The only exception was on our last Carnival cruise in February; that bed was better than any other we have had on a cruise! The room had a small couch, a glass topped coffee table and a lighted vanity desk. Storage wasn't a problem, as we had two night stands, shelf storage in and around the vanity with a few drawers, as well as a divided closet with shelves and hangers. There was a minibar/refrigerator in our cabin though we never used it. Our on-board telephone had a great voice mail system, so new friends and people traveling with you can leave you a message anytime. The bathroom came equipped with shampoo and soap, but no conditioner. The shampoo can double as a nice body wash, but I wouldn't recommend it for your hair. There was a hair dryer in the vanity - it worked quite well, so I never used the one I packed. I found the storage space in the bathroom more than met our needs, and I always seem to over pack when it comes to toiletries, so I'm pretty sure you too will find the storage space adequate. All in all, I really had no disappointments when it came to our stateroom. At 200+ square feet plus another 45 on the balcony, we found our room very comfortable. Our balcony was everything you would expect a balcony to be. I know people who would never cruise with anything less than a balcony stateroom; but I have to be honest with you, those times we cruised in inside or outside accommodations were no worse than our balcony, as we never spent much time in any of our rooms. Having the additional square footage that comes with a balcony is by far the best benefit I can see. But on most new ships, even inside cabins these days have larger rooms. At least that is what I have noticed. It's up to you whether it's worth spending the extra money on a balcony. If you do, I recommend you make an effort to use it! Public Areas of the Ship All in all, the public areas of the ship such as the Aurora Theater show lounge, the many bars around the ship, the pool areas and the dining room were tastefully decorated. The Radiance is now six years old, and with constant use, it does in places, show some wear and tear. But for the most part, it's in good repair and it's very clean. Everyone from officers, to management to custodial staff to service personnel were for the most part friendly and professional. What Is There To Do? You will find destination & shopping lectures presented by cruise staff and guest lecturers, a fully equipped Shipshape Fitness Center with state-of-the-art gym and aerobics room, and a full service spa with sauna/steam rooms and massage. There are three swimming pools, including one with a retractable roof and several whirlpool spas. There's also a couple of 'way cool' self-leveling pool tables, a sports court with basketball (no volleyball), a jogging track and a rock climbing wall. All in all, you will find quite a bit to keep you entertained when you are NOT in ports of call. Like Voyager class ships, all Radiance class of ships were designed for the more active person in mind. Formal and Informal Dining A lot has been written about the food one can get on a cruise ship, and yes, you'll find plenty to eat on the Radiance of the Seas. But the quality of the food one gets today is NOT what it used to be, even if the quantity is the same. I found the dinners we ate in the formal dining to be very good, but NOT outstanding; meaning it was comparable to the quality you would expect from a mid-range restaurant. I always managed to find something I liked. Our meals were warm, but never piping hot; the service was excellent and special requests were accommodated cheerfully. This is NOT four star cuisine, however, the menu items were tastefully presented, and offerings included escargot, refreshing cold soups, and lobster tail and rack of lamb. Suffice it to say, everyone at our table came away having enjoyed their dinner. The Windjammer Buffet is where we ate breakfast and lunch most days. It was standard buffet type food; nothing out of the ordinary, but lots of fresh fruit, home baked breads and pastries for breakfast as well as eggs and pancakes. At lunch, there were sandwiches and hot food items, a salad bar and even pizza. The Windjammer buffet was always busy, so staff was constantly refilling empty food containers with fresh items. As I mentioned earlier, the formal dining room was never open for lunch on days we were in port. It was such a chore to eat in the Windjammer early in the week - long lines, rude people everywhere cutting in, overworked staff members serving the food, and finally, never being able to find a clean table! Thankfully, the 'outbreak' procedures were relaxed by the fourth day and the Windjammer got back to normal! On the two days at sea, the dining room was open for both breakfast and lunch and we made a point of eating there. The lunch menu was just okay, and the quality of the food wasn't really any better than what you could get up at the Windjammer, in my opinion. But you didn't have to fight the crowds, so it was more relaxing and much less stressful. I never ate dinner up at the buffet, but heard it was 'just okay'; people remarked that many of the same dinner items served in the formal dining room were available in the buffet but were consistently less fresh and dried out. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly It's been a while since we took a "perfect" vacation; our trip to the Maui Four Season's a few years ago comes to mind. Although enjoyable, our cruise had a few minor "issues" that are probably not even worth mentioning - they weren't enough to put a damper on our vacation. Suffice it to say, they guy who ran the Concierge Lounge had his 'favorite' past guests' and pretty much ignored everyone else. This was by no means a problem for us, as we stuck pretty much to ourselves and we had no problems going up to the bar to request drinks. Willie, the Concierge, had a tendency to be short with some passengers (like me) when asked for assistance; others we spoke to felt he was the best Concierge ever! Therefore, please take my comments with a grain of salt - I have never met this person before, so it could be he was just having a bad day! In case you are wondering, the Concierge Lounge is a very nice past guest perk for Diamond and above Crown & Anchor Society members (Royal Caribbean's past guest program - Diamond level is 10 cruises or more) and for high-end suite passengers where they serve complementary drinks every night from 5:00pm-8:30pm. The evening lounge was in the Hollywood Odyssey Lounge, Deck 13, but the Concierge was located on Deck 10. Our second "issue" really wasn't Royal Caribbean's fault, as it had to do with rude and aggressive passengers. Not sure why there were so many aboard this particular sailing, but they were out in-force EVERYWHERE! The 'outbreak' procedures in the Windjammer probably caused this, however, once they relaxed a bit, it did get better. Ports of Call The reason we booked this cruise was for the ports of call. We had never visited Nanaimo, Victoria or Astoria, so it was a real treat to explore these ports of call. We also called on San Francisco, and made the decision to visit areas we had never been to, so getting off the ship was a real adventure. In San Francisco, Nanaimo and Victoria, we booked shore excursions through Royal Caribbean. They were well run and enjoyable. We took a walking tour of the city in Nanaimo - it was very informative and I came away learning about its culture and history. In Victoria, we visited Buchart Gardens and a small winery. I felt we didn't have enough time at the Gardens, so next time I would NOT do a forma tour, but rather go on my own. In Astoria, we had access to a car and drove up and down the coast - from the mouth of the Columbia River to CannonBeach. That was by far the best day we had in port. In San Francisco, we took a tour to Muir Woods and Sausalito; it was okay - however, one hour was not enough time at Muir Woods. Sausalito was okay if you liked strolling up and down a tourist hot spot - restaurants, tee shirt stores and art galleries. About Us We are in our 40's - work full time and have no kids. We enjoy scuba diving, skiing and hiking vacations and although we do enjoy cruising, it's not the only type of vacation we take. I lead 'active' cruise groups for Cruise Critic a few times a year and occasionally we cruise to simply 'get a way' - as was the case this time. I also used to consult for the cruise lines 'education' programs years ago when they restructured their kid's programs. We run into many 'cruise experts' who cruise all the time - they are on a first name basis with ship staff and seem to be 'in the know' when it comes to the ship all the time! Many work in the travel industry or are retired. Many cruise to cruise - the ports of call tend not to always be that high up on their list of priorities. I am just the opposite - the ports of call are more important to me than the cruise 'experience' or the ship. Sure, when given a choice between identical itineraries I will go with the ship that gets the better reviews, is recommended or somehow offers me 'something special'. But please note that I base my decision to cruise on the itinerary. Please don't hesitate to email me if you have any questions. Read Less
Sail Date September 2006
WEST COAST REPOSITIONING CRUISE SAN DIEGO TO VANCOUVER, B.C. ROYAL CARIBBEAN CRUISE LINES - RADIANCE OF THE SEAS MAY 1-7, 2005 My name is Phil Haggerty and my wife is Edith Goble. I am a retired city attorney and Edith is a homemaker and ... Read More
WEST COAST REPOSITIONING CRUISE SAN DIEGO TO VANCOUVER, B.C. ROYAL CARIBBEAN CRUISE LINES - RADIANCE OF THE SEAS MAY 1-7, 2005 My name is Phil Haggerty and my wife is Edith Goble. I am a retired city attorney and Edith is a homemaker and former health services provider. We live in Phoenix, Arizona and this would be our 16th cruise. Our prior sailings have been on Carnival's Elation to the Mexican Riviera; on the now defunct Commodore Line's Enchanted Isle to the Caribbean for 11 days; a 7 day cruise, also in the Caribbean on Celebrity's Galaxy; followed by a marvelous cruise from Santiago to Buenos Aires on Mercury, also a Celebrity vessel. We then did our Alaskan cruise on Sun Princess, followed by another 7 day Caribbean trip aboard Norwegian Sun and a trans-canal on Celebrity's Infinity. We then sailed on Millennium for a Mediterranean cruise in May 2003, followed by a Baltic cruise tour on Regal Princess later that year. We then went to Hawaii for the first time on Infinity in November 2003 and did our first HAL on Veendam in the Caribbean the next spring. In March 2004 we took Galaxy from Baltimore to Rome, and returned to the Caribbean in October on Zaandam. A few months before this cruise we went back to the Mexican Riviera on Diamond Princess and in March had a very adventuresome trip down the Amazon on Oceania's Insignia. WHY THIS CRUISE? We had never sailed on Royal Caribbean, nor along the West Coast. Radiance had spent the fall, winter and early spring in the Caribbean, and then sailed through the Panama Canal to San Diego. After we debarked in Vancouver it would start its summertime Alaska cruise program. The pricing on these repositioning cruises is usually quite reasonable and this trip was really a low budget excursion. PLANNING THE CRUISE This was one of our least taxing cruises for pre-planning. America West and Southwest Airlines both offer frequent, low cost flights between Phoenix and San Diego, and America West has non-stop flights from Vancouver. We therefore made our own airfare arrangements. Cruise lines have arrangements with major carriers and do not deal with regional airlines such as America West and Southwest. When we relied on Celebrity to provide our air transfers to start our Infinity cruise to Hawaii, they sent us to San Diego via Los Angeles! This was the first cruise in which I did not pack my tuxedo. Although the material supplied by RCCL suggested that on six night cruises there would be two formal nights, it turned out that there was only one, and fewer that 15% of the men wore tuxes. My dark blue blazer with dark flannel pants was perfectly suitable. We both managed to get all our belongings into one suitcase apiece plus two carry-ons for Edith and one for me. We were a little concerned about the possibility of cold and rain on the West Coast at this time of year, but we each did fine with a sweater and a light rain jacket. DEPARTURE This was as easy and comfortable an embarkation as we have ever experienced. The flight to San Diego is just a little over an hour. Dropping rapidly in to Lindbergh Field directly over the downtown high rises is always entertaining. Once past downtown we saw Radiance shining bright and white in the harbor; a marvelous prospect. We were on the ground quickly and took a ten-minute cab ride to the Harbor Pier for $9.00 with tip. We drove directly up to where they took our two bags, and walked into the pier side check-in. This was about 2:30 in the afternoon and they had been embarking passengers for a while. The documents said boarding would start at 2:00, but it obviously had begun before that. There were about 20 manned check-in stations, only half of which had customers, so we walked up to a vacant station and were processed through in a couple of minutes and in our cabin by 2:45. RADIANCE OF THE SEAS - THE SHIP Radiance is a large vessel of more than 90,000 tons. It is a Panamax ship, meaning that it is as large as a vessel can be to transit the Panama Canal. It first sailed in 2001, so it is fairly new. The design has some good points and some aspects that we considered to be less than helpful. The passenger flow is designed around a central atrium, called The Centrum, which stretches from Deck 4 up through Deck 11. This Centrum is located slight aft of midships. The main elevator bank is on the port side of the Centrum, with two glass faced elevators looking inwards to the atrium, and four looking out to sea. The main stairwell is directly aft of the Centrum. There are no other elevators or stairwells any further aft of the Centrum, only a three elevator bank with adjacent stairs forward. This had the effect of making elevator service slow at high demand times. It also resulted in being unable to go by elevator to the Seaview aft on Deck 13. Since the hours of this venue were limited, and it was quite cold and windy on deck at night, we were among the hordes who did not use this cafe despite its good reputation. Nor do I expect it will get much business at night on Radiance's Alaskan cruises. Radiance lacks a high, forward looking lounge area. The Viking Crown Lounge, also known as Starquest, on Deck 13 is also midships and has a smashing view of the forward superstructure and radar antennae. The forward portions of both Deck 11 and 12 are taken up with the gym and spa, although both these decks have open air forward areas which provided a great spot to see the Golden Gate Bridge on the third day of the cruise. By way of partial compensation for the lack of a forward lounge, the public area of all the lower decks have many windows on either side, affording frequent visual connection with the sea. Aside from these criticisms, it is a well decorated, maintained and reasonably designed ship. There are about 28 inside and outside cabins on Deck 2. Deck 3 is a passenger deck with tender access. Deck 4 has cabins forward. The Centrum begins here, with a bar, a small dance floor and a bandstand. The Guest Relations Desk is starboard, with the excursion desk attached. One either side are entrances into the lower level of the main dining room, called Cascades. There are actually two small rooms before you enter the dining room proper, one called Breakers, where we were seated, and the other called Tides, which was used only for occasional meetings, but not dining. There are good windows on either side of the dining room, but since the galley is behind the dining room, there are no windows looking aft as on many ships such as Celebrity's main fleet. Deck 4 also has an outside promenade which goes completely around the ship, although you have to go up one deck as you approach the prow. This stairwell leads to the helicopter landing deck, which is actually open to the public and affords a great "Titanic" view over the water forward. Deck 5 stars with the Aurora Theatre forward, and proceeds aft through the art gallery/photo shop area on the starboard side and a conference room portside. You next enter the shopping section with a reasonable selection of mid priced stores. Aft of this is the Centrum area, with the Latte-Tudes coffee bar starboard and the internet cafe to port. Behind Latte-Tudes is a nice seating lounge. Once past the Centrum you enter the Deck 5 access to Cascades Dining Room. There is a Grand Staircase from this deck to Deck 4 of the restaurant. Deck 6 starts with the upper level of the Aurora Theatre, and proceeds aft past the motion picture theater. This is a small room, but has the new "stadium" seating at a steep pitch so each seat has a clear view of the screen. You then pass through the fairly large casino. This location means that no one is required to go through the Casino to get anywhere, except the motion picture theater, since access to the main show theater is very convenient from Deck 5. We heard that there was one really high roller who lost a lot on this trip. We do not indulge in the joy of waving good-bye to our money. Aft of the Casino you are back at the Centrum and then you can only continue along the starboard side of the ship. You first pass through a long and narrow bar called The Schooner Bar. This largely has a nice sea view. Opening off this lounge are the two specialty restaurants, Chops Grill and Portofino's. They both had port side window views and seemed very pleasant. Aft of this you entered the Colony Club, a lounge, entertainment and dance venue containing 5 distinct areas. First you pass the billiard room with self-leveling tables. We never had a sea rough enough to inspire a visit here to see if they work. Past this is an area labeled the Jakarta Lounge for no apparent reason, a dance floor with bandstand, another bar at the aft end of this deck with adjacent tables, and yet another small lounge area on the port side called the Calcutta Card Club. The Colony Club was used for Bingo among other things. Decks 7, 8, 9 and 10 are passenger cabin decks. On each deck there is a small area forward of the open Centrum. Three of these seemed to be used only as small sitting areas, but Deck 9 housed the miniscule library. Deck 11 has a large spa forward. Aft of this is the Solarium, which is a glass roofed covered pool area with padded deck chairs and a jacuzzi. Then you go outside to the outdoor pool with its deck chairs; aluminum affairs with stretched nylon coverings. Aft of this you are back indoors in the Centrum leading to the Windjammer Cafe. This buffet has a variety of indoor and outdoor portions; some exposed to the air, some partially enclosed, with the main seating area entirely indoors of course. Deck 12 has the fitness center and exercise room forward. You then go outside and back to the Centrum portion, which of course is enclosed, and has a small room for Crown and Anchor members. It also has a small round window, which is at the top of the Centrum and enables one to look all the way down to Deck 4. Attached to this room aft is the Game Arcade, Art Studio and Adventure Ocean rooms for kids. You then go outside past the children's pool with slide and arrive at a small building which houses the Seaview Cafe starboard, Golf Simulator aft and sports area portside. Deck 13 starts in the middle of the ship and has the Starquest Lounge. Leaving this lounge and proceeding aft outside you pass the famous Royal Caribbean Climbing Wall. I never saw anybody using it, but we understand that it was attempted by some. You then go aft by a bridge in the middle of the ship above the children's pool, and reach the putting range, a nine hole course with some challenges in addition to the wind. All of the public areas were well very decorated and maintained, although I did see some carpet staining in the stairwells, a not infrequent result of people carrying food from the buffet to their cabins. The tables in the bar and lounge areas were a nice dark wood, with pleasant brass lighting. The Centrum was quite resplendent in white painted surfaces and shiny brass fixtures. The stairwells reminded me of Celebrity with their art deco brushed aluminum, light wood and glass. Some of the art work was quite striking, and we liked the outdoor statuary. The cabins were supplied with a ship's art guide that was very detailed and informative. This is the first such guide we have seen and more cruise lines should provide something like this if they really are proud of their art. The tables and furnishings in the Windjammer Cafe were quite nice, and there was one area of this cafe, which had deep padded cane armchairs and love seats, which were extremely comfortable, but always in demand. The seats in the Aurora Theatre were good and offered adequate sightlines. The aluminum and nylon deck chairs provided everywhere except the solarium conveyed a bargain basement impression. The Solarium itself was one of the nicer places on board, with its sculptures, warm atmosphere and padded lounges. The open glass elevator cages provided views of either the ocean or the atrium, but the design of these makes them smaller than normal elevators, and as I noted, they were frequently crowded and slow. We tried to use the stairs as much as possible. In addition to the usual locations for art, the walls through the cabin halls did have some small art pieces; not as much as on Celebrity, but at least a minor break in otherwise drab areas. OUR STATEROOM Our cabin was No. 9604, a Class D1 Superior Ocean View with balcony. I am not sure what made it "Superior", but it may have been slightly deeper than the normal ocean view balcony cabins. As you entered it had a small bathroom to the right and closet to the left. The closet had fairly adequate hanging space and shelf space. The door arrangement was a tad strange, with one main door to the closet proper and one to the shelf area with "reach around" access to part of the closet. The closet was actually part of a nice dark wood console, which continued into the cabin to form the desk area and another console area containing the TV, safe and more shelf space. Typically we had more than enough room for our accoutrements. The bathroom has a small shower with curtain; large enough for relatively slender people such as Edith and me, but certainly not generous. The shower contained a wall unit for shampoo/conditioner dispenser which was empty when we arrived, a fact not noticed until my first shower. Soap is provided, but no other toiletries, which seemed pretty chintzy. Opposite the desk was a small love seat with a fixed table. The seating/desk area had a curtain between it and the sleeping area, which was nice. The bed therefore was next to the doors leading out to the balcony; the first time we had experienced this arrangement. The bed itself was provided with a rather thin mattress, but as usual, we had little trouble sleeping most nights. There were two pictures on the painted walls. There were a couple of somewhat unique lamps by each side of the bed, with a normal bulb plus a focused spotlight inside the vertical shaft of the lamp. The balcony was quite shallow, probably about four feet in depth, with two side chairs and a small table. A teak rail topped a glass body affording a clear view outwards. The cool weather on this cruise was not conducive to outdoor lounging, even if there had been more room on the balcony. Its principal utility was to take advantage of an occasional view of land or another ship, as well as the harbors we visited. The deck was some kind of composition and the partitions between the balconies as usual were open at the top and bottom. The carpeting was good, and the overall stateroom impression, except for the bathroom, was favorable. Two pool towels were provided in each room, with an exchange plan for the pool area. The towels provided in the bathroom were skimpy as to number and certainly not of high quality. DINING ON RADIANCE OF THE SEAS If one does not count the mid afternoon snack on boarding, this short cruise afforded the opportunity for 6 breakfasts and dinners and 5 lunches. We actually had 6 breakfasts, but only 5 dinners and 4 lunches due to our shore visits, so our impressions were based on somewhat limited experiences compared to other cruises. We ate dinner only in the Cascades Dining Room, not wanting to bother with the specialty restaurants on this short a trip. We had heard they were good, but the menus did not reach out and cause us to change our plans. They charge an extra $20.00 per person. All our breakfasts and lunches were in the Windjammer Cafe. The dinners were quite good; at least up to Princess and possibly HAL standards for preparation and flavor. The menus combined appetizers and soups, without making it clear that you could order both. The entree selection was reasonable without being very imaginative. Dessert is ordered off a separate menu; although we much prefer Celebrity's method of bringing around a sample tray so you can see what you can have. Edith reported that the vegetarian menu was the best she had ever experienced in any restaurant on land or sea. Meat which was ordered with a choice of degree of "doneness"; came as requested. Reynaldo, our waiter from the Philippines and Mark, his assistant from Trinidad were quite good and very cheerful, especially Mark. The Windjammer Cafe is a very pleasant venue, with nice dark wood tables, comfortable arm chairs, a lot of space and a generally attractive atmosphere. The buffet stations are separate enough to allow easy access; and the only time there was any crowding was at breakfast on debarkation day in Vancouver. However, no trays are provided. Each station has a supply of large oval plastic "plates", plus available small bowls and small plates. Silverware is wrapped in napkins at each station, nothing being provided at the tables beyond salt, pepper and sugar. Coffee stations are scattered about, some self serve, some in bar like arrangements with servers. The selection for breakfast was adequate, with the usual items available and an omelet station. I never saw a toasting set-up, and missed the excellent provision for toast and toasted bagels found on Insignia. Juice was either orange or apple, and pre-poured into glasses. Lunch was also rather uninspired as to selection, which did not seem to vary much. I have gotten into the habit of eating more substantial breakfasts and having only a small piece of fish and one vegetable for lunch (plus dessert of course!). The food comments apart, we greatly enjoyed dinner because of our table companions. We were assigned, at our choice, to early dining and at a large table. The table was set for 12, but only 10 of us showed up. There were Don and Ann from Escondido, CA; Dennis and Sandy from Dana Point, CA; Dave and Connie from Colorado Springs (on their first cruise) and Amy with her 3½ year old daughter Amalya, from San Diego. We were a merry band indeed, much enjoying each other's company. We have usually been fortunate with our dinner companions, and this trip certainly retained or raised the standard. THE CRUISE - ENTERTAINMENT Perhaps the most memorable entertainer was - the Captain. I had heard from prior reviews of Radiance that Captain Kent Ringborn was the Singing Captain. This certainly was true. He not only sang at his reception; but also took a major role in the final show. And we were provided with a CD each of his songs, delivered to our cabin on the last night. This was a special trip for him as he was leaving the ship in Vancouver for retirement to Portugal. He has a pleasant bass-baritone, and I enjoyed his selection of songs, which were fairly traditional. Aside from this, the entertainment was standard cruise fare. The Cruise Director, Gordon Whatman also sang. There was one production number; a highly touted song and dance collection called "The Piano Man". We saw a singer-impressionist- pianist named Bobby Arvon whose main claim to fame was that he sang the theme song to the old TV show "Happy Days". and Craig Dahn, another singer . Our port visit to San Francisco was from 7:00 A.M. to midnight, so there was no show that night. All in all the level of entertainment was pleasantly unsophisticated, and not very memorable except for Captain Ringborn. In addition to the shows, there was a "classical" acoustic guitarist who played in the Centrum lounge, a string group performing one or twice a day in the Schooner Bar or Centrum Lounge, and a dance band that played at various spots. There also was a solo pianist who played mostly in the Schooner Bar. The level of entertainment appeared very minimal for a large ship with more than 2000 passengers. THE CRUISE - SHIP'S SERVICES The daily newssheet is called "Cruise Compass". It has 4 pages, the last two of which have all the daily activities, dining hours, music and dancing hours etc. It is designed so that these pages can be separated from the first two pages and folded for easy carrying. However the print is small and the information limited. Some of the events receive an expanded treatment on Pages 1 and 2. Printed daily news reports from the real world were provided on Deck 4. The TV had a station which clearly showed the ship's location, heading, speed and a variety of navigational and weather information. One's account status can be brought up also; but there was no TV guide to the movies or satellite station shows available. We did not use the excursion desk, but Guest Relations personnel were very pleasant and helpful. When I made my first card purchase, at one of the shops, it did not go through. We had to go to Guest Relations where they re-entered my credit card and explained that some of the data collected at the pier side check-in had not been transmitted correctly to the ship's computers. The Captain came on at noon each day with a regular report. Each cabin had a knob, which could lower the volume on all ship's announcements except emergency messages. Aside from the lifeboat drill announcement, which we expected, there was one occasion after we retired to bed in San Francisco, and were woken up at 11:30 with the loudspeaker asking two or three passengers to check in. We found out later that at least one or two people never made it back on board that night. In the public areas there were the usual announcements about Bingo, Art Auctions, etc. We don't mind the daily Captain's report, but much prefer cruise lines like Celebrity and Oceania without advertising distractions. Radiance was unique among all ships we have sailed in that it did not provide signs in the stairwell or elevator areas directing people to the gangways or tender boarding locations on port days. These locations were not intuitive, and the announcements not always clear, and we wandered about on two decks trying to find the tender location in Astoria. THE CRUISE - PORTS Our three ports were not ones receiving great hordes of ship borne visitors, although San Francisco and Victoria are major tourist destinations. We arrived at the Golden Gate at 5:45 in the morning; just at first light. The outside decks were crowded as we enjoyed the unique experience of sailing beneath the magnificent bridge into the harbor. Fortunately we had a sunny day all day to enjoy the city which the writer O. Henry; in a more romantic time; called "Baghdad by the Bay". Since no one can see the entire city in one day, and we both had visited it several times, we chose to rent a car and drive across the bridge north to Marin County. We first visited the John Muir Woods National Monument immediately west of Sausalito, and then drove north to Bodega Bay to have lunch in the restaurant on the pier made famous in the Hitchcock movie "The Birds". We returned to the city after stopping to see a friend in Larkspur, and drove back across the bridge about 6:00 P.M. We returned the car and took a taxi to the pier next to our ship's docking point to have dinner with my nephew at a typical, eclectic San Francisco restaurant. The Muir Woods is a magnificent small park with a beautiful stand of redwood trees, which have never been logged. Fortunately we arrived fairly early and were able to see a fair sized portion of it without too many other people around. As we were leaving, several busloads of other tourists arrived which would make it rather crowded. Once again the value of renting a car rather than taking a ship's tour was demonstrated. After a sea day our next stop was Astoria, Oregon. Before we embarked we were surprised to find out that another cruise ship was arriving the same day, HAL's Oosterdam, doing a four day cruise from Vancouver. Not only that, but Oosterdam received the only pier side docking, despite its arrival at 10:00 A.M., and we were forced to tender to shore. We had rented a car from Enterprise, and they sent a van to meet another group and us. We drove eastward along the Oregon side of the Columbia River for about 50 miles and then crossed the river to head north into Washington State and Mount St. Helens. We proceeded up mountain roads, partially through clouds, and uncertain of what we would be able to see. We did come out of the clouds at about 3800 feet and at the first viewpoint had a good look at the mountain, although high clouds obscured the volcano's crater. We went on to the Coldwater Lake Visitors Center, but Johnson Ridge, the closest point was closed due to "seismic activity" which has occurred over the past few months. We understand that the trails within five miles of the peak, closed for several months, have since been re-opened. The Coldwater visitor's center has an excellent view of the valley down which the avalanche had rushed, followed by the lava flow.. The size of the area destroyed by the eruption was striking, and the whole area immensely impressive, even though we could not see the shattered peak due to high clouds. We returned via the Washington side of the river, crossing the lengthy bridge which crosses the mouth of the Columbia River. We had enough time to take a quick driving tour of Astoria which has a number of well preserved Victorian homes, many with delightful river or bay views. We sailed out past Oosterdam, and sounded our ship's horn, which drew a reply from the HAL vessel, and a louder response from us, with a further challenge following from Oosterdam. Those of us on deck hearing this "battle of the ships' horns" were greatly amused and delighted. Victoria, our final port city, is a delightful town. We docked outside the Inner Harbor, and could see the State of Washington and the snow-capped peaks of the Olympic range clearly standing out to the south across the Straits of Juan de Fuca. Shuttle buses took us to town for $5.00, a fare that was good for unlimited travel all day. We took an Inner Harbor boat tour on a tiny craft holding at the most twenty people, but carrying only four for our trip. It was a very informative and pleasant trip, lasting about 1¾ hours and costing $12.50 Canadian for the senior rate. We then went across the street to the British Columbia Royal Museum. While this is not a huge museum, its displays are extremely well arranged and provided detailed views of wildlife on the second floor and the Native People's culture as well as early European settlers life style on the third floor. There was an IMAX theater, which we did not attend since we wished to return to Radiance for lunch. After returning via our shuttle bus and being entertained by our singing bus driver, we went back to town after lunch and wandered around the busy downtown shopping area before going to tea. No, we did not go to the famous Empress Hotel High Tea, but to a more modest establishment called the St. James Bay Tea Room. Even the small amount we ordered was substantial, and very inexpensive. Many of our fellow sailors chose to visit the famous Butchart Gardens, but since I had seen them twice, and Edith once, we skipped it this time. But they are worth seeing if you have not done so already. We have to say that we were quite pleased with our port excursions. The three stops were one of the main reasons why we chose this cruise and we were not disappointed with anything except the cloud cover over the top of Mt. St. Helens; but even that was a minor flaw. THE CREW For the most part, the crew was friendly, smiling and efficient. As usual, one tends to remember the exceptions. Our shower shampoo dispenser was empty on our embarkation, but a call the next day brought a prompt refilling. One night our cabin steward evidently misunderstood us when we said we were leaving for the show, and our cabin did not receive its turndown service or the Cruise Compass. To make up for this a bottle of Chardonnay was delivered to our room the next day with an apology. I don't drink at all, and Edith does not like Chardonnay, but one of our table companions, who was proceeding on to the Alaska cruise at the completion of our trip, was pleased to have the benefit of a full bottle of wine for their cabin on their continuation cruise. On our last sea day afternoon I went to the Colony Club aft on Deck 6 for a Coke. Bingo was wrapping up, and one half of the aft section, which was served by its own bar, was reserved for a private group. But despite the fact that the relatively small Bingo crowd was not ordering much, and the private party was slow in arriving, it took well over ten minutes before a waiter came over to take my order, and I certainly have had more outgoing and friendly service. DEBARKATION For our purposes, this was remarkably smooth. We had a 2:30 flight from the Vancouver airport. When our debarkation ticket color was called; at about 9:00 which gave us time for a reasonably relaxed breakfast; we were directed from the gangplank to a bus. The bus was about ¾ full. One of the passengers had left his camera behind, and the debarkation team retrieved it for him in about ten minutes. We then pulled around to the other side of the pier (this was not the main cruise pier in Vancouver, but one about a mile south). There we waited for about 30 minutes while more people got on. They had hauled their luggage out of the pier and loaded in onto the bus in the same way we had done on all our former cruises. Our luggage however was taken directly from the ship to the airport, apparently by special truck. We then drove to the airport, a trip which takes about 40 minutes since Vancouver has no real freeway system. When we arrived we were directed to a carousel where our luggage was waiting, and we only had to take our bags a few yards to the airline check in. We then proceeded to take our bags and ourselves directly through US Customs and Immigration. This meant that when our non-stop flight landed in Phoenix, we were treated as a local, inside USA flight and landed at a regular gate to debark and picked up our luggage in the normal manner. This was as painless a procedure for debarkation in a foreign country as we have ever experienced. We think we owe this to the Vancouver BC government as well as Royal Caribbean. OVERALL EVALUATION OF RADIANCE OF THE SEAS AND ROYAL CARIBBEAN CRUISE LINES Radiance is a good looking ship, and with its maximized window usage in public areas, provides a bright and cheerful atmosphere. However the limited elevators, and small passageways off the Centrum, through which everyone passes, made for crowding and slow transit through the ship at times. The furniture, furnishings and artwork were all of high quality, and all of the public rooms were pleasant. Our cabin was quite decent and serviceable, with our only complaint being the size of the shower, less than luxurious towels, and the lack of toilet articles. We should note that the shower was at least as large as that on Diamond Princess however. The food was not bad, about the level of Princess, a little below HAL, but no match for either Celebrity or Oceania. The main dining room service was quite good, and we never had the sense that our wait staff was too rushed. Our crew had only two tables with about 14 people on a normal seating. We did not expect much by way of entertainment, and what we got was okay for a short cruise where one stop, San Francisco, lasted well past the entertainment hour. The lifeboat muster drill was as easy as we have ever had. We did not have to leave our muster station, the Schooner Bar, to go outside and stand under our life boats, and the instructions were brief and to the point. Despite some criticisms, we enjoyed this cruise. I have realized in reading many cruise reviews that those of us who have sailed more than say 8 or 10 times tend to be more critical than new cruisers who are amazed at the entire adventure. We liked the itinerary and would suggest it to anyone who has not done it before. Royal Caribbean is not unduly expensive, and does not seem to be pushy about on board activities or services that involve extra charges, so you get pretty fair value for your money. If you are looking for a short cruise with novel and entertaining ports and a couple of well spaced sea days on which to relax, this is a good trip, and we are glad we made it. Bon Voyage! Read Less
Sail Date May 2005
Radiance of the Seas Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.2
Dining 4.0 4.0
Entertainment 4.0 3.7
Public Rooms 4.0 4.3
Fitness Recreation 4.5 4.1
Family 4.0 4.1
Shore Excursion 3.5 3.8
Enrichment 2.0 3.5
Service 4.5 4.4
Value For Money 4.5 3.8
Rates N/A 4.3

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