16 Royal Caribbean Radiance of the Seas Fitness Cruise Reviews

We left August 10th on Radiance of the Seas. Our plane was late but we booked our travel through RC so they waited for us, several were on our particular plane. Embarkation was great as we were rushed onto the ship. We researched the ship ... Read More
We left August 10th on Radiance of the Seas. Our plane was late but we booked our travel through RC so they waited for us, several were on our particular plane. Embarkation was great as we were rushed onto the ship. We researched the ship prior to our cruise and saw quite a few negative comments. We were pleasantly surprised by the ship and the crew. From our room stewart to the wait staff in the main dining room to most all the crew we encountered, everyone was pleasant and very helpful. The ship is older, yes, but it is not falling apart. It was clean everywhere. We booked a junior suite and had plenty of room. The closet was large and the room was big. The food in the MDR was good as well as, of course, Chops Grill. We were not impressed with Giovanni's or the brazilian steakhouse, Samba. That might just be our personal taste. There was not too much in the way of entertainment but we usually do not attend to many shows. We did go one night to a comedian which he was very good. Most people on the ship were 40-50-60ish but there were also a lot of kids and younger adults. We had booked all our excursions prior to boarding the ship so we did get them at a discount. One excursion, dog mushing, was cancelled due to weather and no snow on the glacier but we rebooked at the dock to another helicopter onto a glacier which was awesome. All our other excursions were great too. In Ketchican, we went on a boat ride and after had a delicious lunch of all you can eat dungeonous crabs. We definitely recommend this excursion. Next stop was Icy Straight Point where we went out on a boat for whale watching. We did see whales and orcas. Then Juneau where we went up on the glacier. Next was Skagway where we enjoyed a wonderful salmon bake. We ended in Seward and continued on to the land tour. Starting in Anchorage we boarded the Wilderness Express train to Talkeetna for one night, then onto Danali by train for two nights and finally by a third train to Fairbanks for two nights. Although we thoroughly enjoyed all the sights, we wish we had had the itenerary for this land tour ahead of time. No food or extra excursions along the way were included in the cruise price. And food is VERY expensive in Alaska. Plus in some of the places you are very limited on places to eat. You are also very busy everyday especially if you went on the extra excursions that were not included in the price and were also expensive. Plan on spending about another $2000 on food and excursions. That doesn't include any souveniers you may want to buy. The three train rides were fabulous and most all of the excursions included in the price were great except for the salmon bake in Fairbanks. Of note, the bus ride into Danali National Park was long, about 8 hours, and was on a remodeled school bus. The only time you could get out of the bus was on bathroom breaks. You could only take pictures from the bus windows and on the bathroom breaks. We did see some wildlife but mostly from very far away and you really needed a long range camera len to get close up pictures. We absolutely enjoyed our cruise and land tour and would recommend it to anyone wishing to go to Alaska. It is a bucket list place. Read Less
Sail Date August 2018
We chose this cruise on the recommendations of several people we have met since we started cruiseing just over six years ago. It was also somewhere we wanted to go. We enjoyed the Land tour and saw some wonderful sites and a lot of ... Read More
We chose this cruise on the recommendations of several people we have met since we started cruiseing just over six years ago. It was also somewhere we wanted to go. We enjoyed the Land tour and saw some wonderful sites and a lot of wildlife, some that are not seen frequently. But the train rides were to ch at times. Luckily we had a good group of people to break up the time spent onboard. However the cruise was what we are use to by RC's crew, had a fantastic time, but after 31 cruises now it is difficult to say which ship or crew is the best, because we find every one has been wonderful, we know some people would disagree, but it's what you make out of the vacation to how well it goes off. Roll on our next cruise, which is in five weeks time from Copenhagen around the Baltic. Keep providing RC. Read Less
Sail Date June 2017
Here's the feedback I gave Royal Caribbean on this cruise: The ship is beautifully designed with lots of natural light. There also seems to be more public space than Voyager, resulting in less queues and a much less crowded feel. ... Read More
Here's the feedback I gave Royal Caribbean on this cruise: The ship is beautifully designed with lots of natural light. There also seems to be more public space than Voyager, resulting in less queues and a much less crowded feel. I continue to find the pressure selling of everything from art to shoe inserts and supplements annoying. It's not a 'seminar' if it's really just another attempt to sell me something. It's a promotion. The techniques used for selling in the art auction are, in my opinion, highly unethical; give people a bit of alcohol and generate some mildly hypnotic frenzy. I believe this selling method would be prevented if you tried it in Australia. The stateroom was beautiful but dusty and the carpet was full of grit (sand?). The mattress was firm but okay however the pillows had been compressed to pancakes of filling with no loft or support. Perhaps take a look at the Ecodownunder brand of pillows; they come with a side zipper so that the filling can be restored or replaced. The food was outstanding (much better than Voyager) and the staff were exceptional. Sad to see Starbucks coffee has replaced good coffee and that staff have been directed to make more than one cup from a filled espresso cap. The coffee is really awful and the filter coffee in the restaurants is not much better. Fortunately this cruise had three Australian destinations; I wanted to bring coffee back on board! The chef's table was exceptional in terms of both food and service and I would highly recommend it to anyone travelling on the Radiance but why were we subjected to a very loud rehearsal right outside the dining room?! Our host apologised and told us it would only be another 20 minutes but it went on for another hour and half, and some of it was not pleasant to listen to. If you're going to charge $85 and promote something as an exclusive event then surely a quiet room is not an unreasonable expectation. The on board entertainment team are talented and joyful but why are the women put in those terrible, tired wigs? They look ridiculous and detract from the professionalism of the shows. Sad to see that two of the shows (City of Dreams and Tango) have been around since at least 2012! Isn't it time for something new? Also, can someone fix Melissa's sound please. I appreciate she has a big voice but putting echo on it and turning the volume up made it deafening. The gym is possibly one of the best at sea with beautiful views and great equipment. Good to see some free exercise classes being included in the program but why charge for the others? Surely free yoga is not a hard thing to offer. P&O now also provide a private yoga mat delivered to your room for anyone wanting to do their own yoga on deck (I packed my own mat knowing you didn't provide them). Sad to see that the jogging track still includes an unpleasant smokers area! Who wants to run through cigarette smoke! Given the diminishing number of smokers you might like to consider moving all of them to deck 5. It was also disturbing to see a smokers area right next to the pool where so many children are playing. Although this area is outdoors, the overhead cover means that smoke drifts along the deck and the smell reaches the solarium. Disgusting. Loved the cruise director's 'Thriller' classes and the final performance and also his 'great debates'. Pity the arts and crafts isn't a bit more challenging and interesting and I've often thought it would be good to see a dedicated craft room with kits available at reasonable prices so that guests could head there when it was open and find something creative to do. I've been to land based resorts that have similar and they work well. The space can be used for dedicated classes and also for self-directed craft activities. Perhaps different tables for things like jewellery making, plaster art, colouring in etc? This would also give crafty guests the opportunity to interact. Great to see the photographers have been taught to be less pushy since my last cruise with you. We bought a couple of lovely photos of the two of us and didn't feel pressured to either have more photos taken or to purchase more than we wanted. The onboard shopping experience continues to disappoint. RC once had a strong reputation for good shopping but the prices, once conversion rates are taken into account, are no better than onshore and there's some very serious issues with the way jewellery and watches are described and represented to customers. The various raffles had poor quality prizes and were clearly just a marketing tool to gather customers. The souvenirs in the shop were of good quality and probably a bit on the expensive side, but still appealing. It was great to see the inclusion of products by indigenous Australian artists. It's a pity they didn't get any mention in the Australia Day activities. The tipping policy continues to be a source of annoyance for Australian customers with lots of objections to the automatic deductions for those that didn't prepay. Once again, in Australia you'd be required to include this as part of the total price. You wouldn't be able to induce people with one price and then add a tipping surcharge without permission. The main reasons people are giving for switching to Princess over RC is the difference in tipping policy and the use of Australian currency when they are departing from Australia. I was particularly annoyed that even though I was paying $13.50 per person per day I was still hit with an enormous surcharge by the already expensive day spa. We only had one treatment there and then made arrangements for treatments on shore because the cost was around half. The pressure selling of products following treatment was also annoying. We took two shore excursions. Both involved too much time on the bus and not enough time at the destination. It would be useful if you put time estimates in the descriptions to help manage expectations. The trip to Hahndorf included a very loud and talkative driver (even though there was an onboard tour guide) who used his microphone to regale us with trivia questions, Dad jokes and stories about other countries where he's been a bus driver. I wanted to hear about Adelaide, not his personal adventures. He seemed to be allergic to any amount to quiet and the volume on his microphone was excessive, so we were all tired and annoyed following an hour and a half the Hahndorf and an hour and a half back again, particularly when we had so little time in Hahndorf. The Hobart trip was better with an excellent driver/commentator with good knowledge of the area's history but with only half an hour at the Botanic gardens this was little more than a toilet stop. Once again, knowing how much time was allocated to each activity would have avoided disappointment. The annoying thing about the Hobart trip was that there was ample time available. It was obviously a cost issue that resulted in the too-short stay at the gardens. Had I known I would have made my own onshore arrangements by taxi. It wouldn't have cost much more for the two of us and we could have actually seen something of the famous Botanical Gardens. There was a strong smell of sewerage near the entrance to the Colony Club for the whole of the cruise. This dissipated somewhat when you entered the room but remained strong enough that we couldn't stay there for any length of time. I suspect some kind of leak or ventilation problem. In spite of your marketing, around $13 per day for basic internet access is not a great deal. Princess has free internet. The arrangements for disembarkation on this trip were a nightmare. Due to the arrival of Ovation we were anchored in the harbour and tendered off. While guests were all given luggage tags and allocated departure times, there was no way for staff to verify who was entitled to be tendered and this resulted in many people lying to staff and queueing for earlier boats. The result was a time lag and a back log of angry customers, including many that missed trains home. I would recommend issuing tender tickets with luggage tags to prevent this. As an example, we were told we would be tendered off around 9.00am but in fact didn't get on a tender until 10.15 and didn't reach the terminal until 10.45. On arrival, the terminal at White Bay was a large temporary marquee which was supposed to be air conditioned but was, in fact, stiflingly hot. Passengers sitting and waiting for transfers were extremely uncomfortable. I was also concerned for the welfare of RC staff left standing in full sun in the middle of a heat wave. They should have at least had umbrellas. If asked about cruising I'd be inclined to recommend Princess over RC. I think Radiance is possibly the most beautifully designed ship given the sloped windows and the abundance of natural light, but the constant pressure selling, the tired traditional entertainment and activities, the gouging prices for the spa, the annoying tipping policy, the currency conversion hassles and the lack of free wifi all give Princess the edge. Read Less
Sail Date January 2017
I cruised with a group of runners, and that part of the cruise was fantastic. Our group was well taken-care-of, from start to finish. Our group breakfasts (private buffet) were FANTASTIC! That said, there were some odd issues I have ... Read More
I cruised with a group of runners, and that part of the cruise was fantastic. Our group was well taken-care-of, from start to finish. Our group breakfasts (private buffet) were FANTASTIC! That said, there were some odd issues I have not seen before on Royal Caribbean. The dining room service was mediocre at best. Very poor bar service in the dining room--you were better off getting your own drink and bringing it in. I LOVE breakfast in the dining room most of the time, but on Radiance it was indifferent. Poor service and barely adequate food. I'm not a foodie, not really fussy at all, but if you requested something specific, you weren't going to get it. Some of the shows and entertainment were fun, but there was one truly terrible show (Piano Man), and one duo that was pretty awful. The Piano Man show made no sense--it was like they all decided which songs they wanted to sing and then tried to find a theme to unify them--totally did not work. Also, it would have been better if the main female singer was not singing flat--ouch! Alaska was incredible, and we liked Dr. Ryan, the naturalist, who told us what to look for and where to go. The captain took us in really close to Hubbard Glacier, and got us into all the ports early. Read Less
Sail Date July 2016
Where to start, embarkation excellent, swift fast with great staff. Once on board, got the drinks package, they have changed, they took out bottle water from the packages and increased the price. Not impressed with the changes, bring ... Read More
Where to start, embarkation excellent, swift fast with great staff. Once on board, got the drinks package, they have changed, they took out bottle water from the packages and increased the price. Not impressed with the changes, bring back the old packages. Dining - Head Waiter Ferit Acikoz - one word outstanding! He made the holiday for us, attention to detail, hard work and they way he commanded his staff without the need for words, definitely the WOW factor. He entertained us with his wit and fascinating tales. He was professional, courteous and indeed overdue for promotion. His appearance at our table with a smile every evening was appreciated by my family. He made the children laugh and his interaction with other guests was lovely to watch. We miss his face already. Our serving staff were Sachin and Putra, again outstanding service from both of them. Was so pleased with the whole dining experience we are booked for 2 more cruises on this ship in 2017. Never had to wait for food or ask for something, they were there, they were like a well oiled machine, thanks to them both. Entertainment - you just cant fault the staff on this ship, down right excellence from beginning to end. We were totally entertained the whole time we were on board. Cruise Director - Well talk about laughs, he had us smiling every day with his quick retorts and his interactions with passengers was a delight to watch. Captain and officers - Just lovely, seen regularly and interacted with the guests at all levels, lovely crew from all professions working together to make this a holiday of a lifetime. Disembarkation - A total breeze so pleased with how quick and easy it was to get off the ship, of course our time was over and it was sad to leave but coming back so more memories to make. Cabin Steward - Gede - lovely man, clean, neat tidy and such attention to detail. No faults. Food - Wind Jammer and Cascades - Amazing!! Curries and spicy food is my favourite, the children had all their needs catered to. No one can go hungry on this ship the chef and staff went that extra mile to deliver! Hygiene - 10/10 no faults, everything was spotless Gym - Gorgeous views of the ocean no matter what you are doing, lots of varied equipment and choice of activities were available One downside being the drinks packages, which is not the fault of the ship rather the cruise line need to re assess this. I had the best time with my family and cant wait to sail on this ship again! Would love and Australia only port of call in 2017 over xmas - with no passports required. I see these cruises fully booked and sell out fast!! Bring on the waves :) Read Less
Sail Date December 2015
Background: I am a Disney Cruise Line girl through and through, but the group I was traveling with uses Royal Caribbean, so I was giving it a try. Sixth cruise overall, first on Royal Caribbean. Overall I found the Radiance to be a ... Read More
Background: I am a Disney Cruise Line girl through and through, but the group I was traveling with uses Royal Caribbean, so I was giving it a try. Sixth cruise overall, first on Royal Caribbean. Overall I found the Radiance to be a beautiful ship and found myself very comfortable with the service on Royal Caribbean. (So much that I booked a new cruise while onboard!) My cabin steward was fantastic - the first day she seemed a little brusque, but much of that was just first day busy-ness I think as once I got to talk with her the next morning, she was delightful and always checked on me. Dining room servers were great as well. We spent the night in Anchorage the night before the cruise, and then our group split about 50/50 between taking a train to Seward or taking a bus. I opted for the bus as it was the less expensive option, and having done Alaska last year this was to be my budget trip. The road ran parallel to the train tracks for a good portion of the route, so unless you absolutely MUST ride on a train, I'd say the bus is fine. I'd definitely go with Royal's shuttle service though, because there is one road going between Anchorage and Seward. And if something happens... In fact, we were delayed leaving Seward because there had been a bad accident that shut down the road between Anchorage and Seward for hours and some 800 people were stuck on Royal Caribbean shuttles, so we waited. This meant that we didn't sail until around 2:30am and we had to miss the Hubbard Glacier. Disappointing, but these things happen - and we were all alive and safe. I opted for an interior cabin (was assigned 3067) and had no issues with it. I had never been in an inside cabin before and will admit to being nervous about it. The first couple of nights I left the television on to the bridge view channel, but once I discovered I didn't really need it, I stopped. There were lights on either side of the bed, so it's not like I had to walk across a totally dark cabin if I needed to get up in the night. My one quibble is that for some reason the mattresses, while pushed together, did not seem to be tethered at all and I would find myself waking up with an arm and leg between them. There was a covering that kept them from sliding totally apart, and I went to speak with guest services who sent a note to the deck supervisor to have another covering put on and tightened, which worked for a couple of nights. But they could really benefit from talking with Holland America to see how they keep their mattresses from coming apart when the twin beds are requested together. (The one thing Holland has over Royal in my mind. Since Disney is kind enough to have regular queen beds, they win in this category.) There is clearly a strap or something that makes them not come apart. But other than that the cabin was fine, and I never felt cramped. The shower is small, yes. But I didn't have the issue with the shower curtain getting all over me and water getting all over the floor that some people seem to have. I guess there are some advantages to being accustomed to a small shower in my NYC apartment. I found the food to be good in the main dining room. I fell in love with their cold fruit soups, and could have made meals off of just those. The Windjammer Buffet was nice, but I did wish that at least one day they had had chicken fingers. There were always burgers, hot dogs, and fries; Indian food; pasta; salads; soups; some other kind of meat and vegetable; but never chicken fingers. I'm not picky, and I'm not addicted to them, but it would be nice to have the option at least once! Our servers in the dining room were all great (we had 9-10 tables and rotated between them) - very helpful in making suggestions, and very vigilant about anything that might contain peanuts due to my sensitivity (not full-blown allergy yet...just get itchy and wheezy). I can't comment on the kids' clubs as I don't have children. I didn't really do the activities onboard either as I'm not into BINGO, casinos, or silly games. When I cruise, I cruise to relax and enjoy myself - those things don't make me enjoy myself, so I skip them. I would rather hang out with the group I was with - or if I'm solo, just wander, or sit and read, or just watch the water and scenery go by. I did sit through one of the Royal Caribbean-produced shows one night, and while the singing was good and the dancing was acceptable, they desperately need to hire a storyteller to make the shows make coherent sense as this one did not. I won't rate a cruiseline down on that though as you are not required to attend the entertainment. I tried it, and I know I don't need to go back. Port-wise, they were beautiful. Icy Straight Point (Hoonah) is one where there is not much to do unless you are doing an excursion. This may change as they complete the dock and other cruise lines begin to go there when a tender is not required, but for now I'd definitely plan on either a ship day or doing an excursion when you hit that port. I kind of wish I'd done an excursion in Skagway as well - but I did opt to hike to a lake people told me about (it is steep, rocky, and not for the inexperienced though), so it was ok. Juneau has inexpensive shuttles out to the Mendenhall Glacier, and that is gorgeous. Plus I got to see a 2 year old bear cub trying to learn to catch salmon! Ketchikan is fun as well. Disembarkation was super! I love the group system they use - as well as the fact that I was able to go to breakfast and then back to my cabin to hang out for a couple of hours before reporting to my assigned debarkation lounge. I had a slight issue finding my luggage as my little bag had been turned sideways and put between other larger bags, but once those were moved there mine was. Getting out of Canada Place was a breeze - they only took our declaration forms and never even glanced at our passports! (Granted, you need it when getting out of Canada, so don't think you can skip it.) Overall I had a great time on Radiance of the Seas. There were a few things I missed - but those were Disney touches I wouldn't expect to find anywhere else. Still, I loved Royal Caribbean enough I did book another cruise onboard! Read Less
Sail Date July 2015
We arrived half an hour early, fortunately for us, as those that arrived later must have a worse experience. Due to work being done on the terminal, we were led into a large tent and progressed quickly through the usual mazelike system ... Read More
We arrived half an hour early, fortunately for us, as those that arrived later must have a worse experience. Due to work being done on the terminal, we were led into a large tent and progressed quickly through the usual mazelike system until, about two lines from the exit, we stopped. We stood there for about two hours, with no food or drink supplied, or even available for sale, and no information given about the delay. We found out later it was partly due to a breakdown in the camera used to take our photos for our cruise card. Further delay was caused by having to obtain a visa for Bali, which could have been done later, as we would not be there for about eight days. It took about three hours to get to our cabin ( Stateroom - are they trying to make it sound better than it is?), The worst parts about all this was the lack of info, and the fact that there were many aged and incapacitated people in the line, and they were not offered seating or sustenance while in the cue. In fact, I started to call it a Cue Ship, not a Cruise Ship. They a great point of the fact that people who book land tours through the ship get preference on the tenders, They did on the way to shore, when it suited the ship, but when returning to the ship after a tour, you got in the line with all the people who had gone ashore on their own, More cueing! Some of the tours were very ordinary, but there were some very good ones - Darwin War History and The Wildlife and Bird Sanctuary at Geralton were very good. The choices on the menu in the dining room were a bit repetitive, but the food was good. The table waiter, Richard, was brilliant, and so was our cabin steward. The cabin was average for a cruise ship, although the shower was very small. Due to the large number od days "at sea" some of the onboard facilities were stretched. Finding a card table in the prescribed area was difficult. Generally the ship was comfortable, and we had no complaints about the normal functioning of it. One thing which does annoy me is the price of wine in the restaurant. When they pay no tax on it and still want to charge about four time the price I can buy the same bottle in my local shop, I call this gouging. But this applies to all cruise lines, not just RCI.   Read Less
Sail Date October 2014
I have just returned from the 8 nights on Radiance from Sydney to Newcastle, Brisbane and Airlie Beach. I was travelling with my mother and, next door, my sister and her husband. The dancing started at the Sail Away Party and continued ... Read More
I have just returned from the 8 nights on Radiance from Sydney to Newcastle, Brisbane and Airlie Beach. I was travelling with my mother and, next door, my sister and her husband. The dancing started at the Sail Away Party and continued all voyage! The entertainment team usually started it off by getting everyone up for a few fun group dances like the YMCA, Macarena, Saturday Night Fever and other fun line dancing types and then people all continued on from there. We danced almost every night in the Centrum because they had a few properly advertised ( in the daily newsletter) and organised theme parties( where you dressed up if you wanted) and on other nights they had a duo playing who did some good dance numbers. The disco was lively most nights with plenty of people dancing. ( Other ships like Voyager, Jan. 2013 had the most dead disco ever.) Only real complaint was because we had 740 children on board and they took over the tiny little main pool, chased each other around, divebombed, dived ,kicked water, climbed up on top of the railing at the steps and jumped in etc splashing everyone. All this happening at peak times when adults were just trying to cool off in the water or lie in the shallow area. I am a school teacher so didn't hesitate( pleasantly) to point out to children the signs saying no diving, jumping etc. All chn. seemed surprised to hear it. Please Radiance staff police pool behaviour because it really puts me off what was a great ship otherwise. Newcastle had beautiful surf beaches, the first one only 10 minutes walk from bus drop-off, large free enclosed ocean pool only a 5 min. walk from that. Brisbane. We were not warned by RCL that our berth was so far out of town so our large party of local relatives who turned up to see us and take us sight-seeing were miles away at the wrong (P&O) wharf. Two carloads then tried to find our ship but got lost and had to go back. It cost our party of 4 approx NZ$130 for a taxi,water ferries and then the A$12 shuttle each back from town instead of just being picked up by car. Airlie Beach. Lovely day. The local life-guard at the man-made lagoon told us we could swim at the beach within the very large jelly-fish net protected area just 2 minutes walk from behind the shuttle drop off point. We had a lovely swim there! Unfortunately the Shuttle-bus drivers told everyone else that no-one could swim at the beaches, so we were the only ones!   Read Less
Sail Date January 2014
Given my intro, I will add that I do not complain about things on cruises...but this time I'm making an exception. This New Zealand cruise, which was lovely by itself, was a disappointment when it came to the cruise ship experience. ... Read More
Given my intro, I will add that I do not complain about things on cruises...but this time I'm making an exception. This New Zealand cruise, which was lovely by itself, was a disappointment when it came to the cruise ship experience. I was disappointed that the dining room food was so overly salted to the point that I had to return my entrees on two occasions because they were inedible. I am definitely not fussy about food, but I would think, given the average age of most cruisers on this trip (65+), that the chef would be more sensitive to the needs of this group of people, i.e. less salt in the food. Everyone can add as much salt as they want, but you can't remove it once it's on your plate. I will also add that the menu itself provided few "oooooh, yummy" moments. The prime rib - when we had it - was excellent, but on the whole I looked at the menu and tried to pick out something/anything that sounded good. The options were poor, in my opinion...and I've certainly never experienced that in all the sailings I've done. Finally, I was surprised at the lack of interesting things to do on the ship. Yes, I'll admit I no longer go to the towel folding or vegetable carving demonstrations. But the daily activity sheet contained mostly spa selling disguised as health "seminars", casino tournaments or bingo, and the (very) occasional class. No port lectures, not even the usual lecture going over the upcoming excursions. Heaven forbid something vaguely intellectual. The movie theater was so tiny that you had to go at least 30 minutes early to get in, while the main theater was empty. Why didn't they at least show the movies in there when they could? Given all this complaining, I am now done for the next 10 years. I'll go on RCI again, but hope that things are better on the next cruise. Read Less
Sail Date January 2013
We were delighted with this trip. Hope you're sitting comfortably as we had struggled to find out info about it and we have lots to tell about it which we hope will help you We left behind a snow trapped England, being grateful to ... Read More
We were delighted with this trip. Hope you're sitting comfortably as we had struggled to find out info about it and we have lots to tell about it which we hope will help you We left behind a snow trapped England, being grateful to make it out on time on an excellent Emirates flight via Dubai travelling Dubai to Sydney on the fabulous, comfortable and quiet A380. On arrival at Sydney we took the easy 20 mins train journey from the airport to the Central Quay and simply walked to the nearby ship. After a short rest in the early morning sunshine admiring the beautiful harbour and having a drink in a local cafe (they were plentiful)we left out luggage with the ship staff and went off exploring Sydney before returning to check in at times allocated at the dock side according to your deck number. We were allocated 11.30 but walked on with no queue to speak of and a smooth check in process at 11.15. Our room was ready at 1 and our luggage arrived early afternoon. We had lunch in the Windjammer which was good and not too busy but we should have remembered to go to the Park Cafe in the solarium as another reviewer had recommended - there it was peaceful and the food excellent. As we were docked overnight in Sydney we had a wonderful opportunity to explore Sydney, coming and going as we pleased on and off of the ship until we left the following day at 5pm. Being docked in Sydney is great. You walk off the ship directly to the quayside brimming with restaurants, surrounded by the beautiful harbour views of Sydney Bridge and the Opera House, walking easliy to either of these.Just beyond the Opera House are the Botanical Gardens which are free and beautiful with wonderful views. In the evening we walked along the Sydney Bridge which gave amazing views of Sydney by night. Sydney is a very clean city. It is easy to get around, much of it by foot, but also with easy access via short and cheap ferries from the Quayside to places such as nearby Manley Beach and Bondi Beach, both of which are beautiful and well worth visiting. The Sky Tower again gives good views out to Botany Bay and the Blue Mountains - but we were fortunate to go on a very clear day. I dont think we could have started from a better port. So we set sail on the second afternoon across the Tasman sea for 2.5 days - fortunately it was calm for us. There was plenty to do during that time. The highest proportion of guests were Australian, then Americans and then British.We have to say that we really liked the atmosphere on board with a predominance of Australians who were generally very friendly, cheerful, non complaining and at ease, which helped everyone to feel comfortable. Thanks folks! Our cabin was midship D2 category and very comfortable and always spotless and well serviced. It had a slightly larger balcony on the area that jutts out which was good. The bed was near the window and the settee was quite large ('3 seater') and comfy. The bed was very comfy. There was lots of storage space in areas hidden behind mirrors etc. The bathroom was a bit small (shower with curtain) but adequate and always spotlessly clean. The room had some improvements since the 2011 refurb but not loads - it seemed just to be a flat screen TV and modern bedding really. Lighting was good. It was easy to find your way around the ship and this had been improved by the touch screen guides by the lifts. Some of the lifts look out to sea and are glass walled. The theatre holds almost 1000 and was good. The shows varied. The RC dancers and singers were excellent but just did 3 shows in 14 nights. The guest artists varied greatly. Some left much to be desired (eg Rod Stewart act) and there was bit too much emphasis on Australian humour for a ship with so many different nationalities but on the whole we had a good time in the theatre. The main dining room was very good. It was charming and service excellent. We chose as usual to go My Time which worked well for us.We like being flexible and being able to meet different people.We didnt feel that the table allocation was very good though unlike previous cruises - often the allocation would leave huge tables for 10 part empty or we would even be put on a table and then no one else sent to join us which was disappointing. The food was very good. There was ample choice. We did eat in Choppes Grille, the speciality steak resturant (for which there is a supplement) one night and it was excellent. The Filet Mingnon was delicious. The MDR is very good indeed but there is something more special about the speciality restaurant if you feel like a different dining experience. Breakfast in the MDR is very nice too - a lovely way to start the day - as is complementary breakfast on your balcony when the weather is lovely.Food is also available in the Park Cafe in the solarium much of the day until 1 am and it is very good. The Windjammer buffet restaurant is Ok but generally find it a bit hectic. Formal nights were special. There are quite alot of folk who dont keep to the dress code in the MDR though which is a bit disappointing for those who look forward to the Formal Night. Photographers are every where of course and you will have your photo taken loads of times. They are a bit pricey but that said it is a good opportunity to have a lovely photo and its unlikely after so many being taken that you wont find one you like! The staff are all very good. We had an excellent Captain with a great sense of humour. Our cruise Director was good too. We enjoyed the pools - one open air and one in the indoor solarium (adults only. The children also had a separate water slide elsewhere open for a few hours a day. The gym was well equipped but we werent impressed with the advice given by one of the leaders of the gym staff which we felt was somewhat dubious. There were some shops on board which were OK There was a good cimema, an open air cinema screen, good, mini golf and shuffle board. There were other facilities such as rock climbing and casino but we didnt use these. The Ports We first arrived at Milford Sound in South Island NZ. This is spectacular. We chose to risk it and take the apparently pricey overnight, overland trip from there via Queenstown to rejoin the ship at Dunedin the next evening. This trip was amazing and worth every penny. We were so glad to did it. 40 of us tendered off at 7.30 am, seeing the Sound from an amazing perspective and took a short coach trip to the lake side to walk along and look back at the ship dwarfed by the Sound and sitting beneath the huge waterfall - lovely sight. The lakeside walk was followed by a forest & waterfalls walk (think Lord of the Rings Forest), then the amazing Mirror lakes, and through breathkaing Alps and snow capped mountains and avalances to Queenstown. We stayed in a good hotel (Millenium) and had the afternoon to ourselves to explore this beautiful place before meeting for a cruise across the lake to a beautiful lakesie restaurant for a delicious meal. This was followed by an interesting sheep shearing and sheep dog exhibition and back to the hotel via the steamer boat for 10.15 so the day was very full. An early start the next day took us to Arrow Town, gold mining village and then the home of Bunje jumping where our amazing tour guide jumped for us as no one was waiting to go!! Thats a guide and a half! We then headed to a winery, saw more sepctacular scenery, had lunch and headed to Dunedin for a tour of the sights before returning to the ship. A trip never to be forgotten. Akaroa was an opportunity to see Christchurch but as it was 1.5 hrs away and there was still so much earthquake damage we decided to enjoy Akaroa. We were tendered off and then independently took a boat trip with Black Cat around the harbour to see the wildlife. It was easy to book yourself and much cheaper than the ship trip with the same company (remember the ships trips are in US dollars and the local tours in NZ dollars). We saw lots of wildlife - 30-40 Hector dolphins, the Blue eyed penguins and lots of seals. It was excellent - good boat and very clear and informative commentary. Loved it. We then walked around the bays, went up the lighthouse, to the church for a guided tour etc and had a fantastic day. Its a lovely place and easy to explore and get walking around independently after being on the ship. Weather was amazing Wellington is the capital. You can walk about 20/30 mins into the centre or take a shuttle. We went to the Museum which was very interactive, varied and interesting and then to the Cable car which takes you to the top of the Botanical gardens. From there its a knee aching steep walk down (wouldnt want to go up !!)through lovey gardens and views to the rose gardens at the bottom. Then an easy walk back to the ship but make sure you cross up and over the railway on a bridge as soon as you meet it or else you are stuck across the railwaylines from the ship and have to walk all the way back (take it from us...a kind local walked back with us!!). We also went to the lovely wooden Old St Pauls cathedral which is worth visiting. Tauaranga was a great port. Everything says its Tauaranga but it is actually Mount Maunganui which is lovely. Some took a bus ride to Tauranga but didnt think much to it. The ususal thing to do from this port is to see the geothermal activity around Rotarua which is amazing. We did that but would have liked another day just to be at Mount Maunganui too. There is a Mount to climb and lovely beaches to enjoy including a peaceful harbour side beach and surfing ocean side beach (which goes on for miles). We walked off the ship and chose a tour from an information centre just off the ship. It was much cheaper than the ships tour. They book up quickly though so its worth getting off early to make the most of the day. 9 of us went in a comfy mini bus with an excellent local guide to the thermal springs Rotarua at Whakarewarewa where we saw bubbling mud, Champagne pool, Guysers, Mauri show etc. We also visited Kiwi farms and saw beautiful lakes, crystal clear springs and beauutiful countryside. The local tours stop at lots of interesting extra places cf the large coach tours too. There was just time on return for a walk on the beach then back to the ship. Auckland - here you dock right next to the Hilton and take a strange and tortuous route off the ship through the hotel area. But its easy to get straight to the city centre. We did our own thing again here and chose to take a nearby ferry across to Devonport - a quiant suburb with lovely old wooden houses and sandy beaches where we were able to swim and walk along the coast. It was lovely. We also visited the excellent free Maritime museum where there is a fabulous waterfront cafe with to die for home made snacks (try the warm savoury scones!). Our last port was Bay of Islands. It was bit dull and cloudy so it didnt seem worth the helicopter tour which would have been spectacular if the sky and sea had been their usual brilliant colours. We were tendered off here with an option for an early bird tender if you were not on a ship trip (they get priority tenders usually). We took the early bird. The local tour facility seemed inclined just to try to sell the helicopter tours. We walked outside and took a local trip with another couple which turned out to be great. We went to the local waterfalls, ancient stone hose, its oldest house in NZ and its lovely cafe, an ancient Kauri Forest, Chocolate and woodwork factories and Glow worm caves (which were very good). A full day and well worth it. There was a craft market and shops at the central area of the bay. It was nice to walk back along the bay to the tender rather than taking the shuttle. So most of the ports were easy to explore independently and take tours arranged with locals at the time if you wnated. The locals are so very friendly and pleasant and relaxed. We were fortunate to have excellent weather. The colours of sky, landscape and sea were amazing. The beauty of NZ is indescribable - there is no way that you can do justice to it. The cruise was an excellent way to see it and we were gald we chose this way rather than a mobile home. If you're wondering about it - just do it! You wont regret it! Just a couple of last comments - the Tasman Sea can be choppy. We were fortunate but it was bit choppy returning. Lastly - we stayed in Sydney after disembarking, at the Intercontinental in a club room with access to the club lounge on the roof top. What a bonus this turned out to be ! Not only was the hotel, club lounge and food great and so close to the ship, but we watched the ship sail out the next night from the roof top! It was quite emotional seeing it sailing out of that beautiful harbour and quite the icing on the cake at end of a wonderful holiday! Oh - and one final thing! Take the ferry from Darling Harbour to Central Quay -this was the last thing we did and fantastic - perfect views of the Opera House and Bridge and the ferry goes under the bridge - great! Read Less
Sail Date January 2013
My wife and I (early 30s), her parents, and their friends cruised northbound from Vancouver to Anchorage on July 20th, 2012. Overall we had a fabulous time and there were only a couple of minor issues. It was my 17th cruise, my ... Read More
My wife and I (early 30s), her parents, and their friends cruised northbound from Vancouver to Anchorage on July 20th, 2012. Overall we had a fabulous time and there were only a couple of minor issues. It was my 17th cruise, my wife's 6th, and the first for everyone else. We snagged a great deal on Priceline for the 4 star Westin Bayshore Hotel in Vancouver. We took the Skytrain from Vancouver airport, made one quick transfer, and we were at the hotel in about 25 minutes. A tip if you have a large party is to purchase Skytrain tickets at the 7-11 in the airport. A block of ten "two zone" tickets run about $3.25 each as opposed to the $8.75 they charge on the platform. The only negative is that you have to buy ten tickets, so either have a big group or plan to sell them to some other tourists on the platform. The hotel was in a great location steps from Stanley Park. There were also various shops, restaurants, and grocery stores within walking distance. The hotel was quiet and comfortable. On the day of embarkation, we were all planning to walk to the ship, but there was a bit of rain. My wife and I walked (the rain stopped right when we started) while our bags traveled with everyone else in a taxi. It was only about a ten minute walk, and we had a nice surprise as we went right past the Olympic cauldron. We arrived early (around 11am), and we were on the ship in less than 30 minutes. The ship is in fantastic shape - you'd never know it was over a decade old. Having sailed mostly larger ships (3,000 passengers plus), this was an equally enjoyable experience. What you lack in some missing/smaller facilities you make up for with less crowds. It is also easier to make friends since you run into the same people a little more often. Our inside mid-ship room on the third deck was more than adequate for us. We don't spend much time in the room besides sleeping, so it was perfect for us. Everything was in great shape and we had all that we needed. We ordered room service most mornings just to have some drinks/snacks, and it was perfect. They called the room before delivering, which was nice. We all thought the food was fantastic! I enjoyed both the main dining room and the Windjammer buffet. I also had a couple of dogs at the Boardwalk Dog House, which were good, and had many snacks at the Park Cafe. All were great. My father-in-law and his friend really enjoyed the dogs as well as the soft serve ice cream in the buffet! There were a few items in the dining room that weren't particularly hot, but most were perfect. For example, cherries jubilee was room temperature with melting ice cream. I can forgive a few occurrences like this since I realize they are serving several thousand meals a day. Since we only had one full sea day, we spent a lot of time off the ship. Nonetheless, when we were on board there were plenty of activities to keep us entertained. I will say there were a couple sports court activities that I attended only to find out that no staff members were there to run the events. The kid in me tries to get in on any games available, so this was a minor disappointment, but not a huge deal. We did at least one trivia each day, and it was a blast (although we never won). "Cash King" Kinsey is the best trivia host ever! We really enjoyed the evening entertainment as well. The singer and dancer shows were as expected - good, but not our favorite shows. They had a piano player one night who was remarkably talented and entertaining. They also had a magician who was excellent and very funny. The comedian did 15 minutes the first night and was good. He also did a late night show the last night that we didn't see. One hour of work in a week? Sign me up! The Beatles tribute show was great as well. Service was outstanding and the best I remember in both the dining room and stateroom. Our dining staff was excellent, lead by Diogo. He not only did his job professionally and with great care, but he was also very friendly and entertaining. He presented us with a brain teaser each night to work on before dessert. He was a lot of fun and even though we've been off the ship for over a week, we still reminisce about wanting to be at his table. Rendy, our cabin steward, was equally magnificent. He greeted us by name every time we saw him and was a blast to talk to. The first day he told us the hours he'd be working, but also said we could page him any time of day if we needed anything. Now that is dedication! Since this was a fairly expensive venture, we wanted to do as much as we could in each of the ports. We planned for months and came up with the following activities: Ketchikan - We walked around on our own and then attended the Lumberjack Show. We did this last year as well when we were in town, and it didn't disappoint. It is a very entertaining show with a reasonable price tag ($35 pp). Icy Straight Point - We did the combination zip line and bike tour through the ship. The bike tour guide was truly awful. He was barely audible, seemed to have no concern for those lagging behind, didn't know much of anything, and was clearly just collecting a pay check. He was the exact opposite of our waiter and steward in terms of service. Still, it was a cheap add on to the zip line, so it was worth it to get a little exercise and see Hoonah. The highlight was the bald eagle's nest was saw. The zip line was a truly exhilarating experience. It is the world's longest zip line at over a mile long and you get up to 60 mph! If you go, ask at the top if there is a trick to not going sideways. Most of our group traveled down in that fashion, but we heard later you could do something with your legs to straighten out. After the excursion, we saw killer whales in port. Juneau - We rented a car through the Juneau Car Rental Co, which is about a 15 min walk from the pier. We drove to the West Glacier Trail at Mendenhall Glacier, and then to the Visitor's Center on the east side. Four of our original group and two Aussies we met on the ship made this trip. The cost for the car with gas was under $80, which was a great deal since it is $16 pp round trip just to get to the Visitor's Center, and you'd need a taxi to get to the west side. The West Glacier Trail is an awesome hike - the only way to get right up to Mendenhall Glacier and actually touch/walk on it. The views from both sides are great - you can walk right up to the waterfall on the east side. Mendenhall is a must do in Juneau. On the way back we stopped at the salmon hatchery, which was really cool. The fish are literally on top of each other and it was neat to see them jumping. They also have an underwater glass viewing window, so you could check them out there as well. Well worth the free stop. Skagway - The favorite town of most of us, Skagway is a really cool place to just walk through. We started our day by doing the White Pass Railroad trip. Although we did barely enter Canada, you do not need a passport since you do not get out. The four hour trip offered some magnificent views and was quite an experience. The train is guided, so you will learn some cool facts. Hubbard Glacier - Hubbard was probably the highlight of the trip. Do yourself a favor and get up early and onto one of the forward outside decks. We got within 1/8th of a mile of the glacier, which was impressive. The calving was unbelievable, and the captain said he saw the biggest calving of the season when we were there. It was like watching a tennis match as you'd look back and forth as ice fell from everywhere. Make sure your camera is charged with lots of memory, as a couple folks there ran out of room/juice. Disembarkation was easy as could be. We had an 8:30 shuttle bus to Anchorage, and we were able to walk right off the ship around 8:00 and be on dry land in just a few minutes. No customs to go through in Seward. We continued our trip a couple days by renting a car in Anchorage and seeing Denali for a day. We saw three out of the five "Big Five" (dall sheep, grizzly bear, caribou... but not moose or the rare gray wolf... although we did see moose on the road the day before). I'd highly recommend adding a trip to Denali if you are in Anchorage and haven't been there before. Views are great and it was one of those once in a lifetime experiences. We had a clear view of Mt. McKinley for two days, which was remarkable. They say only about 30% of visitors get to see it, so we were very lucky. The weather was magnificent all week in fact, as we only had a bit of rain in Vancouver. Overall a wonderful trip that we will always remember! Read Less
Sail Date July 2012
This was our first cruise so we did not know what to expect. We had read a lot online and the reviews were mostly positive for the Radiance of the Seas Alaskan cruises with the exception of the first two cruises out of the recent dry dock ... Read More
This was our first cruise so we did not know what to expect. We had read a lot online and the reviews were mostly positive for the Radiance of the Seas Alaskan cruises with the exception of the first two cruises out of the recent dry dock for renovation. So we were a little nervous going in. We were a group of five ranging in age from 15 to 75 years old with the elder being in a wheel chair. We spent a day in Seattle and a day in Vancouver prior to the cruise. In Seattle we took the ARGOS harbor tour and it was wonderful. Views of the city and of Mt. Ranier in the distance were spectacular as there was not a cloud in the sky most of the day. We stayed at the Spring Hill Suites in Renton and it was clean and relatively low cost. Vancouver was rainy but we toured some gardens near the city and can recommend the Marriott Renaissance Harbour based on our experience. It was located only a couple of blocks from Canada Place and the cab ride to the pier was under $10. On July 8th we arrived at the pier around 11:45 am (scheduled time was noon) and we were on the ship by 12:15. The lines moved quickly and once aboard we were directed to the Windjammer for lunch while we waited for the staterooms to be prepared. Several folks in previous reviews had commented on the overcrowding in the Windjammer and having to wait for a table -- we never saw that. We always found a table for 5, no problem. By 2pm we were allowed in our rooms and they were as advertised. We had 2 interior staterooms (1503,1505) on deck 10 and as expected, they were pretty small. However, there was a LOT of storage space (including under the beds) and so we were never climbing over luggage. The bathrooms are remarkably small, but functional. The shower was very confining (reminded me of getting an MRI!) but got the job done. We met our cabin steward, Roxanne, and she was very attentive during the entire cruise. She also proved to be very talented at making towel animals! During our stay we received a dog, a bat, an owl, a duck, and most impressive, a lobster. Cruise Director Keith was very entertaining and kept everyone well organized. The staff was very friendly and would greet us with a smile all the time. On a negative/positive we had multiple toilet issues (would not flush) during the cruise in cabin 1503 (deck 10), but each time the problem was resolved in just a few minutes. I was very impressed with the responsiveness of the maintenance staff. The ship layout was very convenient as there never was really too far to walk for where you wanted to go. It only took about a day to learn the lay of the land. If I had one complaint it would be the elevator system on the outside of the ship. The glass elevators are beautiful and provide wonderful views outside -- however, they are spaced far enough apart in the lobby that we felt like we were playing "Whack-a-Mole" with the elevators. We would hear the ding, and by the time we realized which doors were opening, it would be too late and we would have to try again. In all fairness, we did have someone in a wheelchair so our reaction time was slightly slower than that of a typical couple. That said, when I made the "Whack-a-Mole" joke on board (many times), laughs of agreement came often. No issues with the interior elevators at all. The ship is really beautiful. FOOD Food on the ship was very good and we spent the majority of the time in the Windjammer buffet (versus the main dining room) due to having a late dining room time (8:30) and traveling with someone who was ill and would be asleep by then. I'm not a food connoisseur, but most of the food in Windjammer was comparable to what I would get in a nice restaurant at home and the variety was excellent. Breakfast was the strongest meal of the day followed by dinner and finally lunch. I was surprised to find lox available every morning and it was of high quality. The main dining room was beautiful and the service was excellent during our limited number of visits. Food in the main dining room was a little better than in the buffet (not a surprise). When the Windjammer was not open, the Park Cafe provided light fare that was excellent in quality. We never used room service. We only had one meal in a specialty restaurant (additional fee required) and that was at Samba Grill -- the Brazilian steak house. This meal was the highlight of the trip for me and my son and I recommend it to anyone who boards. We sampled every one of the 9 different meats and all of the desserts offered. Everything was delicious! One suggestion, however, is that RCI build a sheltered path to the restaurant that avoids the open deck -- the wind blowing basically messes everyone's hair prior to entering the restaurant. Of course, if you are in port, this is less of an issue. ENTERTAINMENT We watched just about every show offered each night in the Aurora Theatre as well as most of the small acts around the ship. The production shows were generally very good (the performers are really very talented!) but the Piano Man show and the Tony Pace show were the best overall. We were very impressed with the overall production quality of the shows. In other areas of the ship we liked the Zig Zag band (oldies), Lauren Evans and the Radiance of the Seas orchestra, and in particular, Kelly Goodrich on piano every night in the Colony Club who puts on an excellent show and takes requests. The bottom line on entertainment is that after 5 pm there is ALWAYS a show going on somewhere and usually several at once. There was always something to do including putt putt golf, rock climbing, shooting pool on tables that auto level (a very bizarre sensation when the ship is rocking), ice carving demonstrations, and many seminars on different topics ranging from Alaskan culture, to reducing memory loss, to other topics which I forget ;-). Bottom line is that we loved the entertainment and there was lots to keep anyone busy. FITNESS CENTER The ship has a well-equipped fitness center that was never too busy and provided nice exterior views as well as TV on many machines. STOPS AND EXCURSIONS Ketchikan -- took the Misty Fjords boat cruise. Was not overly impressed and felt it took too long (5 hours). Would suggest the aerial tour instead so you have more time to walk around the city (if the fjords are your thing). Ice Straits -- took the whale and mammal explorer excursion and saw no less that 30 whale breaches. Absolutely fantastic tour -- one of the highlights during the week. Juneau -- Took the helicopter ride to the Mendenhall Glacier and walked on the glacier for a while. This was run by Temsco and was great! We were fortunate to have a sunny day and the views were spectacular. Warning -- be sure to dress for the glacier! It was cold and very windy on the surface! Also took the Mt Roberts tram and had lunch at the top of the mountain -- great views and some good hiking opportunities. Skagway -- Took the White Pass train to the summit -- very enjoyable with incredible views. Hubbard Glacier - this was the only day at sea that wasn't sunny with blue skies. Nonetheless, the glacier views were great and we were close enough to see the terminus clearly and hear the calving (4 times for me). While the schedule says 7 am to 11 am for the glacier, we departed around 10 am -- make sure you wake up early enough to see it! Debarkation from the ship was as painless as embarkation -- no issues -- everything moved smoothly and in a timely manner. All in all the 7 days on the ship were the most fun we have ever had on vacation. The boat is beautiful, there is lots to do, and the staff is very friendly and helpful! After the cruise, we also took the three additional land days option which took us to Talkeetna, Denali, and Anchorage. In hindsight, we felt that if we had rented a car in Seward, we might have been able to cover the tour in half the time we spent. Next time, we will do just that. That said, Talkeetna Alaskan Lodge is very nice and provides an excellent view of McKinley off the back porch when the weather permits. I was less impressed with the McKinley Village Lodge near Denali, but then back in Anchorage, the Marriott was very nice. On the second day there was a Denali Natural History Tour which seemed focused on the flora of the area versus the fauna. We really wanted to see animals in the wild, and this is not the tour for that. We did see a moose near the road (neat!) and someone spotted a Caribou in the distance for which the next 20 minutes were spent by the Park Service driver trying to convince 90% of the bus that the tiny brown spec in the distance was wildlife. While it was true there was a caribou (binocs confirmed) -- I think we spent way too much time looking at something that only one in 10 could see. As a side note, these 1 in 10 also claim to be able to see the Andromeda galaxy with their naked eye! :-) The RCI driver and tour guide for the three day land portion were very friendly and competent. They explained procedures very well so there was never any confusion at any time regarding luggage or where the best places to eat were located. The highlights of the land tour for us were rafting the Nenana river (a ton of fun -- $95 per head) and visiting the Alaskan Natural Wildlife Conservation Center past Girdwood (outside of Anchorage). The Center helps injured animals to recover and includes several bears, moose, oxen, elk, caribou, etc up close and personal. We had a taxi driver take us out to the Center (all rental cars were sold out) and he actually drive us around within the center as well -- a nice perk! During this land portion, the luggage handling was exceptional -- we never had to lift a finger and the luggage was always in our rooms. RCI also provided transfer to the airport -- again handling all the luggage along the way. All in all, this was an outstanding cruise vacation that I would highly recommend. Thanks Royal Caribbean for a great time! Read Less
Sail Date July 2011
Introduction: This was my twenty second cruise, and fifth with Royal Caribbean, having previously cruised twice on Monarch and twice on Freedom. After reading so many positive reviews of Radiance of the Seas, my wife and I decided ... Read More
Introduction: This was my twenty second cruise, and fifth with Royal Caribbean, having previously cruised twice on Monarch and twice on Freedom. After reading so many positive reviews of Radiance of the Seas, my wife and I decided to try it out. Since Royal Caribbean was kind enough to put it in our back yard, I figured that we would be fools not to brave the 1.5 hour drive to Tampa to experience such a fine ship. We were originally booked into an interior cabin, but after a considerable price drop we decided to upgrade to a Junior Suite. At the time we also had 8 household points with Crown and Anchor, so the extra credit for the suite would make us Diamond Members. We were accompanied on this cruise by another couple going on their fifth cruise. We all drove down together on the first morning and got to the pier at around 11:30 am. Embarkation: I have to give the Port of Tampa a lot a credit because this was quite possibly the fastest embarkation process ever. We walked into the building at around 11:45 and were walking onto the ship at 11:55. Lines were non existent. Our Cabin: After studying the deck plans my wife found that Junior Suite #1602 had a larger than normal balcony and an aft facing view. We had been in an aft suite on Carnival Spirit and really enjoyed that view of the ship's wake. Upon getting to the room I was very impressed with the space and decoration. The room is large with a full size couch in the sitting area. The bathroom has a nicely tiled floor and a shower/tub. The balcony is very large with two lounge chairs, two upright chairs and a small table. About half of the balcony is covered by an overhang which was very nice considering that the majority of our cruise was plagued by rainy weather. It was also helpful since I prop the balcony door open at night to let in fresh air and enjoy the sound of the wake. Early on day 3 we discovered a leak coming from under the wall between the bathroom and foyer. It was not much water, but we did notify our cabin steward about it. They brought a floor blower in and let it run, but the floor had mostly dried by them. The leak did not reoccur again during the cruise. The same cannot be said for the other rooms around us. At the opposite aft corner there were blowers going constantly due to leaks, and we saw crew working on plumbing at a few spots in our area. On the last night of our cruise we received a letter stating that we would be getting a future cruise discount certificate for 15% of our cruise fare. I felt this was more than enough for the extremely minor issue we had. I can only assume that all the cabins with leaks got the same letter. The Ship: Immediately after boarding the Radiance, one can sense that the ship was designed to offer views of the outside from almost every location within the ship. Huge windows and glass walls provide panoramic views. Everything about the ship is thoughtfully designed and decorated. The layout is easily learned with only a few hours on board. It really seems like Royal Caribbean (RCI) went above and beyond making the Radiance a beautiful ship both inside and out. Starting at the bottom on deck 4 is the centerpiece of the ship, its atrium. The atrium lobby houses the guest relations and shore excursions desk, as well as a lobby bar with nearby dance floor. There is frequently live music in the lobby, which becomes an unofficial dance club at times. The atrium has the standard glass enclosed elevators, but Royal Caribbean has taken the idea a step farther. One side of the ship adjacent to the Atrium is made entirely of glass panes. There are four additional glass elevators that look out through it, offering tremendous outside views while guests ride between decks. The lower level of the Cascades Dining Room is also located on deck 4. The Cascades is a very beautiful restaurant. The scale may not compare to the dining room on Freedom of the Seas, but it more than makes up for it with its beauty. The room features a Y shaped grand staircase that flanks a large fountain in the center. At the opposite end is a huge tile mosaic that extends up through both levels. Our serving team Ozgur and Robert were both fantastic and provided us with quality service all four nights. The Aurora Theater located on deck 5 is the main show lounge of the vessel. The photo gallery, art gallery and gift shops are also located on this deck. In the atrium on deck 5 has the Latte-tudes cafe which serves Seattle's Best coffees along with cookies and pastries. There are also several internet computer terminals in the cafe. On the exterior of deck 5 is a wrap around promenade deck, which if followed all the way forward leads to the helicopter landing pad at the bow. This area is one of my favorite features of Royal Caribbean ships as it offers some of the best views available. It is also a novelty since most ships do not allow access to the bow. I was happy to find that the area was open at night, since it was always closed on Freedom. Deck 6 is the ship's main entertainment area. It is home to the upper level of the Aurora Theater. The ships Cinema is also nearby. The movies shown on the ships televisions are also shown in the theater. It has stadium seating and surround sound, giving a very close approximation to being in a movie theater on land. Although I never used them, the Casino Royale and Scoreboard Sports Bar are located on this deck. The ship's Champagne Bar is on deck 6 in the atrium. Aft of the atrium in the gem of the entire deck, a multi purpose area that contains the Schooner Bar, Chops Grille and Portofino's Italian Restaurant. The entrance to the Schooner Bar is made to resemble the keel of a sailing ship, completed with restored antique cannons and nautical mural work. The real surprise though comes when you take your first breaths while walking in. Taking a page from Disney's play book, the faint aroma of wood smoke hangs in the air. The pleasant aroma was obviously being piped in to complete the rustic tone of the room, and it worked. I looked forward to entering the Schooner Bar just to enjoy the theme of the entrance. The Schooner Bar itself resembles its contemporaries on other RCI ships. The nautical theme of the room is replete with faux sails, ship models, and a large lighted globe. Chops Grille and Portofino's are both accessible from the Schooner Bar. I did not eat in either one of them during this cruise. Aft on deck 6 is the Colony Club complex. This area is really a unique multi use zone made up of two bar areas (Singapore Slings and Jakarta Lounge), a lounge area with a stage (The Colony Club), a board and card game area (Calcutta Card Room) and a small billiards room (Bombay Billiard Club). It is interesting that the area is divided so that each area can be used independently, or as a whole for large events. The two pool tables probably inspire the most surprise. While they appear to the naked eye to be run of the mill billiard hall pieces, they are far from it. The tables are actually gyroscopically controlled to self level regardless of the ship's movement. This allows for play regardless of the water conditions. Decks 7-10 are mostly cabins so there is not much to report. Deck 9's portion of the atrium is where the ship's small library is located. One deck above that is the "Yacht Club", a small sitting area that I could not determine a use for. The Concierge Lounge is also on deck 10, which makes sense as most of the ships suites are located on that deck. Deck 11 is the ship's lido area. The lower level of the Shipshape Spa is on this deck. It features treatment rooms, steam/sauna rooms and the beauty salon. The Solarium area is for adults only and has its own pool and Jacuzzi tub. The lounge chairs are much nicer than those by the main pool. A jungle theme with large sculpted elephants, tweeting birds and a bronze tiger lounging by the pool set the mood. The area also has a retractable glass roof and a small snack bar. Although I missed the cantilevered whirlpools, a lot more effort seems to have been put into creating the Radiance's Solarium than it's counterpart on Freedom. The forward walls have flat glass fountains that empty into a small stream (with real river rocks) that runs behind a small bridge. The main pool area is just aft of the Solarium. It is uncovered, but does have two covered hot tubs. There is also the obligatory pool bar nearby. Aft from the main pool is the Windjammer Buffet. The food was good as usual, but the attraction of this area had nothing to do with what was being served. I loved the outdoor seating areas that flank the buffet. There is an enclosed verandah on the port side of the buffet which connects to the main pool area. At the very aft end of the deck was yet more outdoor seating. Some featuring low slung patio style furniture, and the rest with typical upright tables and chairs. Having the option to dine outside is a real treat, and I wish it would have been included on later RCI designs. At the forward end of deck 12 is the ship's gymnasium. A wrap around observation deck is also found there with two mounted observation binoculars. The jogging track also encircles the gym and continues on to encircle to area above the pools. The Sky Bar is also perched on deck 12 overlooking the pool. Near the center of this ship is the teen and children's rooms. The small video arcade is also located there. Adjacent to that is the basketball court and children's pool area. The ship's water slide snakes its way through that pool area. At the aft end of deck 12 is the awesome Seaview Cafe. The table service restaurant features made to order sandwiches, soups, salads, and other dishes. I really liked it, and I ate there several times. I was dismayed to learn that it would soon be converted into a Rita's Cantina which will have a cover charge. While I have no ill will toward pay-extra venues on ships, they should not come at the expense of free dining options. The Viking Crown Lounge is at the very top of the ship on deck 13. It has two distinct areas. The StarQuest lounge is the larger of the two and serves as the observation lounge during the day. At night it becomes the ship's only nightclub. The other lounge is the Hollywood Odyssey cigar bar. There is a small stage set up for live music. They held several private functions and Diamond events being held there. They also have a small humidor with a few brands of cigars for sale. It was nice to have a place to enjoy cigars inside the ship. Aft of the Viking Crown Lounge on deck 13 is the rock climbing wall and mini golf course. Day 1, Tampa: After the incredibly fast embarkation I spent a lot of time exploring and photographing the ship. We all had a nice lunch in the Windjammer and then went to our room to drop off our carry on luggage. We arrived at the muster drill right at the end and had to stand out there a grand total of 30 seconds. Our group then made a bee line for the Viking Crown Lounge, my favored spot for sail away. After relaxing and enjoying the sail away we had a snack at the Sea View Cafe. I thought their Cuban sandwiches are very good, as are the onion rings. There wasn't a lot to do on deck since a light rain set in late in the day. Later in the afternoon we made our way down to the Colony Club and got in a few games of self-leveling pool. The seas were pretty choppy, so the gyroscopes were working overtime. Playing pool on a moving table is different to say the least. At dinner that evening we met our awesome waiters Ozgur and Robert. We had a great dinner, and turned in early since we had to wake up so early. Day 2, At Sea: Our first day at sea started with a nice breakfast in the dining room. I had intended to spend some time up on the lido, but the weather would not cooperate. It stayed overcast and rainy pretty much the entire day. So we made the best of the day by getting drunk on our balcony. My friend and I enjoyed a couple cigars out there as well. In spite of the weather we had a great time. Drunks tend to want snacks, so we devoured some delicious sandwiches in the Sea View Cafe later in the afternoon. A long afternoon nap was in order after the merry making. That night my wife and I spent a little time in the Viking Crown Lounge. Day 3, Cozumel: I woke on the second morning to a view of Cozumel, Mexico. Unfortunately it was being pummeled by rain and 30 mile per hour winds. We had a nice breakfast on the Windjammer's enclosed aft patio and waited for the rain to slack up. There were not many braving the weather heading down our pier. The Carnival Ecstasy pulled up to their pier and started letting guests off. I was surprised how many were making their way off. Once the rain slacked up we walked down the pier and checked out the duty free shops. I have been to Cozumel many times, so I wasn't interested in going to town. My buddy and I picked up some cigars and headed back to the ship. The wind and rain was down right nasty, so we stayed on board the rest of the day. The Solarium was packed so we tried to use the hot tubs by the main pool. The weather was just too nasty so we soon packed it in. We hung out in the Viking Crown Lounge for a bit and watched the rain and winds pelt the island. Unfortunately there were not many activities planned during the day since they expected most guests to be off on land. I saw the juggling and comedy show in the Aurora Theater later in the evening. It was pretty funny, but one of the guys was having trouble doing the act. This was probably due to the very noticeable rocking of the ship. Later my wife and I attended the past guest reception for Platinum Members and above in the Colony Club. It was very nice. They served free drinks and had some appetizers (wings, mini egg rolls). They also had a large assortment or chocolate covered strawberries and chocolate treats. They had the usual introduction of the ship's staff, as well as a speech by the Captain. He mostly spoke of the Sunshine class, since they just signed the letter of intent. He did not go into any details about the features. Remarkably, after the party there were still a bunch of the coveted chocolate covered strawberries left. I wasn't too proud to take a plate full to our Gold Member friends at dinner. As the reception was ending they had a medical emergency call to one of the cabins, more would be learned later. After dinner we went to the Quest. While we were waiting for it to start the Captain made an announcement that we were turning around and returning to Cozumel at top speed. The person who had the medical problem earlier needed immediate care at a hospital. A helicopter evacuation was not possible so they would have to get him to land. We stayed and watched The Quest, it was hilarious as usual. We got there early so we had good seats. We didn't get on a team, but ended up helping the team in front of us get a few points. The cruise director Dan did a good job keeping the crowd going and getting folks involved. After The Quest we went up on deck to watch our arrival back in Cozumel. Thankfully the rain had finally stopped. We pulled up to the pier around 1 am and they soon had the gangway onto the ship. There was already an ambulance waiting on the pier with EMTs. As soon as the patient and his wife debarked they untied the ship and we took off. We were told the next morning that the man had been stabilized. They had to do over 21 knots that night to make up time, so the ride was pretty rough with all the swells. Day 4, At Sea: Our last full day again started in the Windjammer for breakfast on the patio. The weather had cleared up, but the wind was still strong and cold. My friend and I enjoyed cigars and drinks on my balcony. We then went for a swim in the Solarium pool. The seas were still rough, and the pool was having three foot swells. Who needs a Flowrider when there is a wave pool on deck? Later in the day we finished off our last two cigars in the Hollywood Odyssey. We were unable to get any bar service in there, a shame since we really wanted drinks. I know the lounge isn't technically open during the day, but many people still use it. You would think there would be a waiter that would saunter through from time to time; especially since you can't walk a foot on the lido deck without being offered booze. They also don't leave ash trays out during the day. This is very odd, since its one of the few places where smoking is allowed inside. We grabbed a rocks glass from behind the bar that served the purpose. While my friend and I were enjoying our cigars, my wife took advantage of the Crown and Anchor lounge to book a cruise for us on Celebrity Eclipse. For those that have not done it, it's a very convenient process. You get an on board credit for the cruise (based on the length), and your travel agent still gets a commission. The lounge itself is very impressive. It is an island that is situated directly above the atrium. The walkways that go to it are the supports. There is a glass window in the middle of the lounge that looks down into the middle of the atrium. Those that are not made queasy by heights are free to stand on it. Prior to dinner we all spent a couple of hours enjoying the live music in the Schooner Bar. We had a great dinner on our last night and said our good byes to Ozgur and Robert. After dinner we watched "Prince of Persia" in the Cinema and went back to the cabins to finish packing. Debarkation: After a final breakfast in the Cascades Dining Room we got in line to leave the ship. The process was a little slower than embarkation, but not too much. The line to exit the ship took about 5 minutes, and there was little wait to go though customs. The whole process was about 20 minutes. Conclusion: Although the weather could not have been less cooperative, we still managed to have a great cruise on Radiance of the Seas. She is a beautiful ship with a great crew. I would like to cruise on her again, although I have read that Jewel of the Seas will replace her out of Tampa next season. I really wish RCI would put a year round ship there; it would be great if it is a Radiance Class ship. Some have criticized the Voyager, Freedom and Oasis classes for their lack of connection to the ocean. I can only say to those people that a Radiance Class ship is the way to go. There are precious few areas of the ship that lack a spectacular view of the outside. I now consider Radiance to be one of the nicest cruise ships I have been on. Read Less
Sail Date February 2011
Back on the Radiance of the Seas 01-27-2011 After my first cruise on the Radiance of the Seas back in October, there were a lot of positives and a few negatives. I was visiting friends in Tampa and decided to take a 4 day cruise to ... Read More
Back on the Radiance of the Seas 01-27-2011 After my first cruise on the Radiance of the Seas back in October, there were a lot of positives and a few negatives. I was visiting friends in Tampa and decided to take a 4 day cruise to Cozumel. I have to admit, they corrected almost everything I had a problem with the Radiance in October, 2010. Here is my review based on different categories on the ship. If you do not see something about the ship, it means I did not experience them, therefore no review. I did not go to any shows, so I cannot give an honest review. (Though, my cabin was right below the Theater.) The only minor problem was the fact that the ship did not leave Tampa till almost 4 AM, but we still made it to Cozumel on time. Embarkation: I got to the pier just after 11 am. I did not need to check my bag. I only had a carry on and a laptop bag. (It amazes me how much people pack for a 4 day cruise.) There were no lines anywhere. There were a few people ahead at security and nobody in line when I checked in. From the time I got dropped off to the time I was on the ship was less than 15 minutes. I was just amazed on how the embarkation just flowed. This had to be the best embarkation I ever had. 5+ Stars for this. *****+ Cabin: I really like the cabins on this ship. The layout is great. I enjoy watching TV or eating room service on a sofa instead of a small chair or on the bed. There were some snacks and a soda waiting for me when I got to the cabin. It is a nice new touch that RCCL added for their Crown and Anchor Society perks. One of my complaints in the October cruise was the fact that the only thing you got in the bathroom was a bar of soap and shampoo on the wall. That was all that was there when I first got to the cabin on this cruise. The next day, there were some conditioner, lotion, and body bath. I only got the stuff once, but still it is something. I had no problems with the plumbing. I never had any funky sewage smells. I was quite happy with the cabin. My cabin steward was efficient. Everything got done and once he knew my schedule, I hardly saw him except in the hallway to say hello. 5 Stars ***** Food: I am not sure if it was the fact that our table was very close to the kitchen, but the hot foods were hot and the cold foods were cold. I did not have 1 bad meal in the main dining room. I ate breakfast every day in the dining room and had lunch there twice. I highly recommend going to the dining room for lunch. RCCL has put an awesome salad bar there. Now, this is not your typical salad bar, but they prepare it for you. You can easily make a meal out of it. I try to eat all my meals in the main dining room. Not a big fan of buffets. I ate at the Windjammer twice and it was ok, not great, but ok. What I noticed the most was that the service in the dining room was great. A big difference from the hit or missed service I got on my last cruise on the Radiance. Dinner service was excellent as usual. We had a great team at our table. What was great about this cruise was the fact that the service for breakfast and lunch was great as well. Room service food was good to great. This food review would not be complete without mentioning the Seaview Cafe. Great sandwiches, like Rubens and Cubans. It has some of the best chili on the seas. They had real Nathan Hot Dogs. It is a great place for a casual snack or lunch. I will definitely give the food and the food service 5 stars ***** Amenities/Shops: There really is a lot to do on board. Between the rock climbing wall, to mini-golf, I am sure you can find something to do. There is not a great amount of planned activities, but enough. My favorite place on the ship is the Solarium. Being fair skinned, it is a nice place to be without worrying about getting sunburned. My only suggestion is to heat the water up a bit in the pool. The first day, the water was barely 60F, brrrrrrrrrrrrr. The spa was well staffed and friendly. Not in the overbearing in a, "I am going to sell you something." kind of way, but though they are selling services and products, they really give the feeling of caring about your needs. Bar service and staff were quite friendly. Now, this is for you passengers, 12 people cannot fit in a Jacuzzi. It was nice to soak in them though when there was room. The shops seemed to know there stuff. My last cruise I saw a boy with a very bad sunburn on his feet and the salesperson sold his mother some really expensive after sun cream that was not meant for sunburns. As a test, I went to the shop and asked the same cosmetic counter what they had for bad sunburns. Instead of trying to sell me some expensive cream, they told me to go to the other store where they had the right stuff for sunburns. Good job you guys. There is plenty to do on this ship and long as you actively seek it. If you hope RCCL will plan your entire day, you may be disappointed. If you want to do as much or as little as you want, you are going to have a great time. 5 stars ***** Overall: I have to admit between the food, the service, and the ship in general, this was one of my favorite cruises. Too bad it was only a 4 day cruise. The ship has a great layout and it is easy to get around in. For myself, I think it is the perfect size ship. Too bad the cruise lines think that bigger is better. They throw everything they can possibly think of on new ship now and it can be overwhelming. I am hoping that they will build ships the same size as the Radiance, but looking at the trend, it is wishful thinking. Overall, I give my total experience 5 stars ***** Read Less
Sail Date January 2011
Royal Caribbean Radiance of the Seas Alaska Cruise Tour Package No.11 August 1, 2010 Pre Trip July 31, 2010 Flew from Wilmington, NC to Seattle, WA arriving at SeaTac airport on US Air. Upon arrival at the airport we ... Read More
Royal Caribbean Radiance of the Seas Alaska Cruise Tour Package No.11 August 1, 2010 Pre Trip July 31, 2010 Flew from Wilmington, NC to Seattle, WA arriving at SeaTac airport on US Air. Upon arrival at the airport we proceeded to the baggage claim area. Sky caps were nowhere to be found. Grab a luggage cart. Packing for a two week trip we had 4 large bags and a couple of carry ons. Distance from baggage claim to the hotel shuttle pick up is considerable. Take an elevator up to the first level, cross over a skyway and take an elevator down to service island number 1. Called the Hampton Inn to arrange for transport to the hotel. Service island number 1 is about 100 yards long. Stand at the front end of the service island and hail the shuttle van. Standing at the back end of the island can result in the van filling up with passengers prior to getting to your position. This happened to a woman and her family who had been waiting for the shuttle and were told they would have to wait until the shuttle to return. Our stay at the Hampton was good. Hotel was very clean. Three hour time differential and seven hours of travel made it a long day. Day 1 Fairbanks, AK Flew from Seattle, WA to Fairbanks, AK on Air Alaska. We had first class tickets and found Air Alaska to be one of the best airlines I have ever flown with. Prior to our flight we were given access to their Board Room. Very comfortable seating areas, excellent service and decent light fare. During our flight the crew was very accommodating, the meal excellent, wine glasses were real glass. No comparison between USAir and Air Alaska experience. Air Alaska 10 ..... USAir 4. Upon arrival at Fairbanks airport we were immediately greeted by a RCC representative near baggage claim and were directed to another representative located in a kiosk. He checked our name off a list and directed us to a group of luggage attendants who grabbed our luggage. Very organized and painless arrival to Fairbanks .... props to RCC. We met our tour guide, boarded a motor coach and were transported to the Wedgewood resort. Upon arrival at the resort, we were given keys to rooms and luggage was delivered. The Wedgewood resort is a complex of different buildings. Apartment style suites, hotel style accommodations, restaurant and lounge. The accommodations that RCC have contracted at the resort are the older apartment style suites. Although the entire resort is reported to be smoke free, our suite in the "Laurel" building had been smoked in. The apartments are carpeted and the flooring appears to be original. We informed our tour guide that the room was unacceptable. We were shown another room in another building and it also smelled like an ashtray. After discussions between RCC's tour guide and a resort representative we were given a hotel style room in the "Bear Lodge" building. The room was excellent. The Bear Lodge building also houses the restaurant and lounge ..... great place to stay. It appears that several other tour groups have their customers booked in the Bear Lodge. RCC would do well to offer these accommodations as standard for their customers. If you've never visited Fairbanks, several wild fires were burning on the outskirt of town and large volumes of smoke can negatively impact air quality. I was told that this is a common occurrence during the summer months. We were fortunate that the wind direction kept most of the smoke away from the Wedgewood resort. The second day we were at the resort we could smell smoke. Day 2 Fairbanks, AK Two land tours were scheduled for the day. The morning tour was a paddle wheel boat trip up the Chena river. This trip was excellent. The paddle wheel boat, it's mooring and choreographed cruise were developed by a local family over several generations. After a lunch stop in downtown Fairbanks we motor coached to the Discovery Gold mine located just outside of town. This trip was interactive and informative. After viewing a sluicing operation each person is given a sack of dirt and pans for gold. Most folks discovered small quantities of gold flakes and were given small black plastic canisters to put the flakes into. We then were directed into the obligatory gift shop where people were encouraged to have their gold weighed and purchase a small locket to put the flakes into. The entire trip was a little hokey but worth the time. Day 3 Denali Park, AK At 9:00am we boarded a RCC railcar in Fairbanks and took a 4 ½ hour train ride to Denali National Park ..... very comfortable ride. Large leather seats are located on the top level of the car and a dining room is located below. The cruise lines and tour companies supply their own rail cars that are connected to a train operated by Alaska Railroad. A note about dining. There are 80 seats located in the passenger section of the railcar. The dining section can accommodate 38 people at a time. You do the math. We ended up doing 2 ½ seatings for breakfast. By the time the last few folks got to eat "brunch", the kitchen had run out of some food items ...... eggs, pancakes and potatoes. Be advised that the normal seating for meals is from the back of the railcar to the front. Avoid sitting in the first few rows of a railcar if you want to eat a meal at a normal time. Scenery during the trip to Denali was good. Our weather was clear and warm. We saw Mt. McKinley very clearly in the distance. We arrived at Denali and were scheduled to travel on the Wilderness Tour into the National Park. The Wilderness tour is an 8 to 9 hour bus ride into the park ...... 120 miles round trip. We saw all kinds of wildlife during our trip ...... caribou, Dahl sheep, grizzly bears, moose and a wolf. We also had a great view of Mt. McKinley up close. To be honest, after a 4 ½ hour train ride and a 9 hour ride on a school bus, it made for a long day. At 9:30pm we checked into the Grand Denali Lodge. The dining room was still serving .... the food was OK. Day 4 Talkeetna, AK At 10:30am we boarded a RCC railcar in Denali and took a 4 hour train ride to Talkeetna. Scenery during the trip to Talkeetna was very good. Our travel weather was partly cloudy and cooler. Our group was seated at the back of the train and we were seated first for lunch. Food and service in the dining car was excellent. We arrived in Talkeetna and were met by our motor coach. We checked into the Talkeetna Lodge. The main lodge had a restaurant and bar. The lobby area was very beautiful with a large fireplace, comfortable leather chairs and weather permitting a great view of the mountains. As with the Wedgewood Resort, our RCC tour accommodations were not located in the main lodge. We received rooms in satellite buildings. The rooms were small and very clean. I checked on retail rates the at the main lodge and was told that there are three room categories in descending order, main lodge with mountain views, main lodge no views and satellite buildings. Day 5 Anchorage, AK At 9:30am we boarded the motor coach and took a 3 hour ride to Anchorage. We stopped at the Native American Heritage Center and spent a couple hours touring the facility. There were several lecture and dance presentations as well as a walking tour of Indian homes, ect. Lunch was served outdoors with several folks manning gas grills. Food included grilled chicken sandwiches, hamburgers and the soon to be famous reindeer hot dogs. After the tour we boarded our motor coach and headed to down town Anchorage where we checked into the Marriott hotel. Excellent accommodations ...... 17th floor corner room overlooking the harbor and city. We had made reservations at Simon and Seafort which was within walking distance from the hotel. Had an excellent seafood meal at a window table overlooking the harbor. Let me make a comment about the way RCC handled our rooms and luggage during the land portion of our tour. We never once had to handle our luggage .... it was always delivered to our rooms before we arrived. Room keys were always handed to us upon arrival at each resort or hotel by our tour director and we never had to check out. Excellent, hassle free way to travel. Day 6 Seward, AK We were given an option to take our motor coach or a train car operated by the Alaska Railroad from Anchorage to Seward. The train trip took a couple hours longer then the coach. We opted to take the train. We were shuttled from the hotel to the train station located at Anchorage's airport. It was a beautiful trip. The Alaska Railroad cars were not as comfortable as RCC's but the train does drop you off right on the dock were your ship is waiting. We arrived at 4:30pm proceeded through check in where we received our Sail Passes and boarded the Radiance of the Seas. Our stateroom was number 1604 located on deck 10. The room is one of six located at the aft section of the ship. It had a balcony and turned out to be a great room for the cruise portion of our trip. We set sail at 9:00pm .... still very light outside to enjoy the spectacular scenery. Our dining time was 8:30pm. We had a window table on the starboard side of the ship and were able to enjoy our trip out of Seward while we were dining. Day 7 Cruising at Sea Our first day aboard ship was spent cruising to Hubbard Glacier. Being at sea gave us a lot of time to explore the ship. We got in a work out at the ship's fitness center, dined at Portofino's Grill and saw a show headlined by the original Drifters. The ship's fitness center along with its spa facility was awesome ...... very clean and accommodating. Portofino's restaurant is one of two specialty restaurants located on the Radiance. The atmosphere was great and the food was OK. We took in the first of two show times located in the ship's Aurora theater. Show time was 9:00pm. We arrived at the theater at 8:30 and the place was packed. There were no seats available. We found a standing spot located near the bar and saw the show. The Drifters put on a good show albeit a couple of the original guys had been doing this a long ... long time. Day 8 Hubbard Glacier Highlight of the cruise portion of our trip. Hubbard Glacier is the largest tidal glacier in Alaska. This thing is huge. After a slow cruise into Yakutat Bay accompanied by Celine Dion's theme song to the Titanic movie playing over the ship's intercom system, we spent several hours at the front of the glacier. The sounds of "white thunder" and the sight of large chunks of ice falling into the ocean were awesome. The ship turned a 360 in front of the glacier before departing ....... unbelievable. Day 9 Juneau, AK We awoke in the morning already docked in Juneau. We had pre booked a shore excursion and departed the ship at 9:00am. Our excursion was called the "Bike and Brew Tour". We were driven by van to the University of Alaska Juneau campus where we were given a hybrid bike and departed to the Menenhall Glacier. There were 23 hardy souls and three guides that made the trip in the rain. The total bike trip was 9.3 miles in length with a stop at a half way point along the lake below the glacier. Once at the glacier we were given 30 minutes to walk to the visitor's center and a salmon/bear observation deck. There were salmon in the stream and a mother bear and her cub having lunch ...... not something you see every day. We were transported by van back to Juneau to a unique bar near the ship where we sampled 5 or 6 beers that were brewed in Alaska. Most of the beer was brewed in Juneau by the Alaska Brewing Company. They're Amber Ale is an exceptional beer. You will find it served during your whole Alaska adventure. Too bad we can't get on the east coast. We highly recommend this excursion. The bike ride was easy to moderate, making for a great way to get off the ship and get some exercise. It did help to burn off the 1,000 calories we drank after the bike ride. Day 10 Skagway, AK We awoke in the morning docked in Skagway. We chose to not book any shore excursions and just relaxed for the day. Breakfast was delivered to our stateroom and we ate on our balcony. Room service was always prompt and consistent. The sun was shining .... it was a beautiful morning and a great way to start the day. During breakfast we noticed a sea lion swimming right off the back of the ship. He was munching on a 10-15 pound salmon! Now that's something you don't see every day in North Carolina. (I found myself saying that a lot during our trip) Skagway was one of our favorite ports. The city has focused on maintaining the historic flavor of their downtown buildings. We did a little shopping and had lunch at a local watering hole. Day 11 Icy Point Straight (Hoonah), AK We awoke in the morning already on anchor. I stepped out on our balcony to check the weather and to my surprise there were two humpback whales feeding right off the back of the ship. The sound and sight of them blowing air and water at the surface was quite an experience. We had pre booked a shore excursion and were tendered off the ship at 9:00am. The landing area at Icy Point Straight is a refurbished salmon cannery. Some of the canning machinery has been preserved making for an interesting short tour. We also had time to walk along an improved path that rounds a point close to the landing area. Our excursion was a whale watching trip on a tour boat. We headed toward Glacier Bay and saw many Humpback whales that appeared to be feeding on large schools of herring. The total trip lasted 3 hours. Before returning to the ship we chose to eat lunch on the dock at The Crab Shack. You can't beat Dungeness crab pulled from the water, cleaned and steamed. It doesn't get any fresher than that. It was very expensive ... but worth the money. Day 12 Ketchikan, AK Awoke docked in Ketchikan. We chose not to book any shore excursions and see the town for ourselves. We disembarked the ship started out on foot to Creek Street ..... Ketchikan's historic red light district. Area was crowded with tourist and shops were very typical. The big attraction during our visit to Ketchikan Creek were thousands of salmon stacked up in the creek trying to make their way upstream to spawn. We made our way down to the harbor area where the creek empties into the salt water. Thousands of salmon where in the harbor. It was a spectacular sight. We decided to follow the creek upstream to the Native American salmon hatchery. The walk was an uphill moderate hike along streets that followed the creek. All along way were thousands of salmon swimming upstream. Total distance to the hatchery was perhaps 1.5 to 2 miles ..... uphill. We toured the hatchery. At the hatchery salmon arrive up a series of ladders from the creek where they are collected, eggs extracted, and small fry are raised to be released back into the creek. A salmon fact ... once the salmon spawn they die. We were told that after two to three years at sea, a salmon will return to within 50 feet of where it was born, spawn and die. Its body then feeds mammals and birds. Nutrients from its decomposing body feed baby salmon born from the spawn. A remarkable circle of life. Day 13 Cruising at Sea Day 13 was spent making our way through the inland passage south to Vancouver, Canada. Spectacular scenery with some narrow passages. The Captain pointed out interesting sights and history along the trip ..... even stopping to do a 360 degree turn allowing everyone on board ship to share an equal view. We got in another workout at the fitness center. I can't say enough good things about the fitness center and spa. During the evening we dined at Chop House restaurant. This was our best meal aboard ship. We were given instructions to set our luggage outside our cabin door prior to 10:00 pm our last evening of the cruise. The luggage was to be transferred to an area just outside of customs at the Canada Place Pier during the morning of our disembarkation. Day 14 Arrival at Vancouver Depending on where you were going upon disembarking the ship we were assigned a group and time to muster at the Schooner Bar. The whole disembarking thing appeared somewhat disorganized. Our time to leave the ship came and went while we sat and watched streams of people leaving the ship. Finally a RCC representative shouted out our group number and we were led off the ship. We followed a line of passengers into a large open area at the dock where our luggage was sitting ...... along with the luggage of 2,100 other passengers. This is where I think RCC dropped the ball. After being right on with regard to the logistics of moving people and their luggage on and off motor coaches, hotel rooms and aboard ship, now we appeared to be in free for all to find our luggage, find a luggage cart and figure out how to get through customs. We had pre booked motor coach transportation with Quick Coach Lines from the dock in Vancouver to Seattle's SeaTac airport. This turned out to be a great decision. We planned to overnight at the SeaTac Hampton Inn and catch our flight back to the east coast the next day. Several groups had booked 2:00 pm flights out of Seattle and spent 4-5 hours on the motor coach stressed out whether they would make their flight. The Quick Coach driver was excellent getting us through US customs at the border and dropping passengers off in Seattle at the airport and various hotels. He dropped us off right in front of the Hampton Inn and unloaded our luggage. I don't know if this is a standard practice but he earned a nice tip from us. Final Thoughts This Alaskan trip was the trip of a life time ...... if it's not on your bucket list please put it there. Speaking with other folks who have done different itineraries to the State, I believe starting in Fairbanks, working your way south by train and coach and boarding a ship for a seven day south bound inland passage cruise was a great way to see the sights. Alaska is a huge State. Royal Caribbean did a terrific job with both the land tour and ocean cruise. Hopefully this blog will lend some insight to first time cruisers and stir memories of those who have made the trip. This was our first cruise ....... we didn't think we were "cruise" people. Will we do another cruise with Royal Caribbean? Maybe we'll see you on the October 3rd 2011 Mediterranean / Egyptian trip out of Civitavecchia, Italy. Ciao. Read Less
Sail Date August 2010
We traveled to San Diego for the 9 night Mexican Rivera cruise. I should have realized with the check in and pre-cruise customer service that this was going to be a very interesting cruise. Having traveled on Disney multiple times and also ... Read More
We traveled to San Diego for the 9 night Mexican Rivera cruise. I should have realized with the check in and pre-cruise customer service that this was going to be a very interesting cruise. Having traveled on Disney multiple times and also Princess I was expecting great service from Royal Caribbean. The embarkation was delayed and everyone was waiting in the port to board and it was cattle call boarding. Something I haven't experienced for a while. Once on board we saw the cruise ship and it was in good condition clean and overall pretty nice. I guess the main place to start is what we liked about the cruise. Our favorite port was Manzanillo and Ixpacta. Maztatlan was great as well. The ports were nice. The magic show was great and so was the tango beunes aires. What was comicle to us was the final show and most of the entertainment. The shows were very interesting and not a full production or show i would suggest seeing. The nightlife on this ship was very interesting and my wife called it a boose cruise. If you don't drink as we don't it would seem that most of the entertainment is engaged with boose. What was the absolute worst. On the first night of the cruise we asked to see if we could change rooms or pay for an upgrade to another room as where we were located had abnormal amounts of movement. I thought it interesting before i could finish A No was basicly yelled to me. My wife is somewhat sensative to motion and on Disney we had no problem at all and where in a similar space, midship. This was a interesting way to start of the cruise. The food on this cruise was actually disgusting. I had better food in a college dorm. The windjammer had the same food every day. They did not have food rotation at all. When dining the basic serve cold food cold and serve hot foot hot rule wasn't followed at all. Things were always luke warm. The service was just ok and I would say that the cascades dining room didn't have quality food. the chicken was mostly pressed chicken and reminded me of McDonalds food. If you like fast food you will like the food but if fine dining and quality food is what your expecting travel on another cruise line. I did cancel our cruise in December 2010 on the Oasis ship simply to the food quality and customer service. The price for the cruise was the common value but I didn't quite realize what that meant for the cruise. I would be leary to book on RCC again as Disney and Princess obtain most of our future bookings. Sorry but i would give the cruise negative but thats not possible. The only redeeming quality to the cruise was a couple of shows, the magic show, the first commedian and the tango beunes aires show and the ports. Read Less
Sail Date January 2010
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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