21 Royal Caribbean Radiance of the Seas Group and Theme Cruise Reviews

The only reason I went on this ship was to be part of the Bravo Cruise of Performing Arts. Whilst a regular on Princess and Celebrity, this was my first taste of the Royal Carribean fleet. I had heard mixed opinions from friends, most ... Read More
The only reason I went on this ship was to be part of the Bravo Cruise of Performing Arts. Whilst a regular on Princess and Celebrity, this was my first taste of the Royal Carribean fleet. I had heard mixed opinions from friends, most of whom did not place the Radiance in the WOW category. So I went with less than high expectations. How wrong I was. The ship is older and smaller than the mega vessels floating around. But I was really impressed by the leadership of eh captain and officers. They run a tight ship, so to speak. Cleanliness was of very high importance. Everywhere, all day and night, crew members were washing, polishing, scrubbing. Our hands were sanitised so many times they began to be squeaky! But from the beginning. Check-in was smooth and painless. We were on board at 11 am. The upstairs Windjammer Cafe was in full swing with a really good selection of food. Alas, no cabins were open until 2 pm so there was a bit of hanging around! My stateroom was a Royal Suite on deck 10 which was all one could ask for. Well laid out, large balcony, good quality furniture and fabric, coffee machine (with poor US coffee) However, one brickbat was that there was no walk-in shower, and you had to clamber into the bathtub to have a shower. Quite an ordeal for some passengers. There were no grip rails to hang on to either. Dining was extensive. As well as the Windjammer, the main dining room was Cascades which was fine but nothing to rave about. Dining times were fixed at 5.30 and 8.30 and you could not change. The Italian restaurant, Giovanni's Table had food to die for. Faultless and the wine list was pretty good as well. Other specialist eateries were Chops Grille, Izumi Asian eatery and a host of casual cafes. For a ship this size, it had excellent choices. Bars were good too. The champagne bar was a bit of a misnomer as it served nearly everything else but. The schooner bar and colony club had great ambience. The casino was vast, but on our trip, the players were vastly outnumbered by the croupiers. Staff were obviously very well trained, friendly and genuine. As this cruise sailed from Sydney, there was no expectation of tipping, so the service was sincere and not in the quest for the dollar! Being a suite guest, there was a wonderful private Concierge club with an open bar, and special arrangements for dining in special areas. Officers were evident and approachable, not like on many other ships. As I stated before the reason we went on this ship was because it was a charter for the Bravo Cruise of Performing Arts. 35 acts, ranging from a full orchestra, string quartets, trios and duets, soloists, choirs. Music from go to woe everywhere on the ship. And what was so nice was that you could hear cabin attendants and cleaners humming opera as they went about their work. This voyage on the Radiance was outstanding., Read Less
Sail Date November 2019
I went on this cruise with a group of 10 friends. The ship, cabin Stewart, wait staff were awesome as was the entertainment. The food in the restaurants and cafes was just awful. Cold, tasteless and low quality. I literally starved ... Read More
I went on this cruise with a group of 10 friends. The ship, cabin Stewart, wait staff were awesome as was the entertainment. The food in the restaurants and cafes was just awful. Cold, tasteless and low quality. I literally starved when onboard. I ate off ship every chance I had. We had to order everything at once and the courses were pushed at us so we hurried. Except for after dinner coffee, good luck getting it. Even the bar drinks were bad but expensive. We were bombard every dinner with selling the dinners. The photographer interrupted us eating each time and was pushy. Since we had a big group it was fine getting photos taken then the last 2 nights all of a sudden we had to break into 2 groups, no large groups allowed??? At the start of the booking the rep put my birth date in the system wrong so I could never log in. After months of calling they finally realized the problem and in fixing it deleted my roomate and all they're excursions with discounts! When I called twice asking them to restore my roommates excursions and honor the price they said it's not their policy to do that, too bad. I had an awesome onboard credit I was told I could use on ship but it disappeared and guest services was no help when me I got My bill. They asked me if I had proof! It was showing online when I left for the trip. My friends had a horrible excursion guide in one port, had no clue what he was doing, couldn't answer questions, just dropped them places. Another one of their excursions, the guide didn't know they had to return to the ship by a specified time. My friends finally told her, she called her office and they told her to head back. The ship had to wait for them. Like I said the ship was nice, our cabin great but the food was disgusting and RC customer service is nonexistent. I'm hoping to NEVER do another Royal cruise. I have cruised since the 80s on many lines and have experience on what to realistically expect. Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
We have just completed the cruise and groove ( Elvis Tour) and was disappointed with it. We booked this cruise way back when it was first advertised. Our statement of account was issued on 19.8.17 from Helloworld Carindale. That is nearly ... Read More
We have just completed the cruise and groove ( Elvis Tour) and was disappointed with it. We booked this cruise way back when it was first advertised. Our statement of account was issued on 19.8.17 from Helloworld Carindale. That is nearly 15 months before the embarkation date. From meeting lots of people and talking, we found out that those lots of people all got upgraded. Especially the two ladies in cabin 3016, who got upgraded to an ocean view cabin. Why is it good enough for some to get upgraded, and not good enough for some others to not get upgraded. I would think that if you booked over 12 months ahead that those people would be the first to get chosen. Sadly and very unfortunately on our part we didn’t get upgraded. We think this is very unfair. Please tell me how the system works and which people you choose to upgrade first. The entertainment of the artists was fantastic. I was disappointed with the organising of the venues. We had early dining and late show, and when you went to other venues you just could not get in due to the amount of people.The dining menu hardly changed and some people sent meals back as they weren’t cooked properly. If you happened to go for a late night feed, all there was to offer was hotdogs and pizzas.We have travelled other cruise lines and you can just about get anything to eat till early hours of the morning.The staff in the dining room were polite and very, very helpful, they were great. When it came to the activity programs delivered to your cabin each night,there should be more clear information.It showed a sushi class and my wife went and later next day she was charged something like $33, so for people with poor eyesight you couldn’t see the little $ sign. When complained about it my wife was told she should have booked, but we said where does it say to book. They could not answer that question. One last complaint, I did not like crew members coming around trying to sell you food or drink packages while you are having your meal, and also in foyers, it was annoying. I am sorry to say but I don’t think we will return to Royal Caribbean cruising in the future, unless better deals are made. Read Less
Sail Date November 2018
A birthday party that started badly with a three hour entry. A casacade dining experience where we couldnt sit with birthday group. Poor restuarant food so paid extra for dinners. Public areas were so brightly lit and loud. I never ... Read More
A birthday party that started badly with a three hour entry. A casacade dining experience where we couldnt sit with birthday group. Poor restuarant food so paid extra for dinners. Public areas were so brightly lit and loud. I never found a nice quiet place with a musican to sit and relax. Entertainment was the best part of the cruise. Dining staff in main restuatant were ran off their feet as were. Many bar staff. We waited for half an hour to get some beer. Thet could have seperate lines fir cocktails and beers. Glass walls were nice and i enjoyed leaving from circular key. The arrival back to sydney and our departure went smoothly, though again the breakfast was so poor , i was very much surprised. The hash brown tasted like flour not potatoe and scrambled eggs were hard. The tomatoe was fine. The toast was cold and the tea was bitter. Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
I went on the Bravo Cruise, to experience the musical entertainment program, including numerous renowned performers, all of whom were absolutely wonderful in every way. I was able to go on this cruise because of the special reductions ... Read More
I went on the Bravo Cruise, to experience the musical entertainment program, including numerous renowned performers, all of whom were absolutely wonderful in every way. I was able to go on this cruise because of the special reductions ofrered in the month prior to sailing. As a solo traveller, it became affordable. However, there were numerous disappointments and overall expectations of the sailing experience were not met. Although this is a charter cruise, there were certain cuts made to amenities and basic offerings which I found unacceptable. As far as toiletries go, only small rounds of soap were provided, and absolutely nothing more. There was an empty mini-bar, with not even water provided. Bottled water had to be purchased at USD2 per bottle. Any coffee from a coffee machine was regarded as 'specialty coffee' and had to be purchased, a regular size costing USD3. Cleanliness of the cabins and general condition left a lot to be desired. It was not uncommon to receive badly worn and marked towels. The interior of the wardrobe had badly soiled and unswept carpet. The floor beneath the dresser was dirty on arrival and remained so throughout the trip. Public areas of the ship are generally better maintained, although much of the main resturant seating is badly marked and due for re-upholstering. The standard of food offered just makes the 'fair' grade, and nothing more. Service varies by section of the main restaurant, some staff being properly trained but the majority being very poor at their job and often quite arrogant as well. Their focus is on selling the extra packages, for dining in specialty restaurants and drink packages. There was incessant repetition of these offers which waiting staff are keen to sell in order to get recognition in some form. They were also not backward in reminding the customers to tip at the end of the cruise. The organisation of the daily headliners concerts was an absolute disgrace. People were expected to queue for up to an hour and a quarter on average before gaining access to the main theatre. Then there was rush to get seats and keep seats for others. No attempt was made by the organisers to accomodate mobility impaired customers; they were expected to queue along with everyone else. Once inside the theatre, the waiting time before a performance was usually at least 45 minutes. Surely for cruises such as this, seating for the shows could be pre-organised ( just as for dining preferences- early or late sittings) and allocated on the basis of date of booking, where possible allowing for individual preferences as to fron or back stalls or circle. During the day, when a variety of musical performances were offered in different areas of the ship, there was always a rush for seating and never sufficient for those who wanted to attend. Concerts in the ship's atrium area (The Centrum) were always packed and many people had to try to find seating on the decks above, overlooking the atrium. The acoustics, however, were not conducive to this being a great solution. One had to spend a lot of time just trying to get a seat for a performance, or standing space in some cases. Additional seating for the number of people attending the most popular events has to be addressed as a priority. The most positive comment I can make about this cruise line is that boarding and disembarkation are very well organised and flow smoothly. Would I go on this cruise again? No, not unless significant changes were made. Read Less
Sail Date October 2017
This was a 'performing arts' cruise with a stunning array of talented performers. All performers gave it everything they had and mixed freely with passengers. Unfortunately the joy of experiencing their performances was ... Read More
This was a 'performing arts' cruise with a stunning array of talented performers. All performers gave it everything they had and mixed freely with passengers. Unfortunately the joy of experiencing their performances was overshadowed by the need to queue for up to 2 hours for the main theatre to ensure you got a seat, even though you were allocated to that particular show. Passengers were allocated to late show/early dinner or early show/late dinner on embarkation with no option for changing, however some dishonest passengers used a scam of double-dipping to get them to the shows they wanted and leave other genuine audience members with nowhere to sit. Cruise staff did not do anything about this until the second last night! The problem of overcrowding and queuing for almost everything - coffee, lifts, shows, bars, seating in Windjammers took the glow off everything else. Our balcony cabin was great, kept well & everything worked. Staff were all friendly, polite & helpful. Staff in Cascades dining room were excellent although the food served did not match its description on the menu - very disappointing. Overall impression was that the ship was overbooked for the facilities available on board. There was an emphasis on making as much money as possible from drink, food, spa & outrageous internet packages, as well as jewellery, watches, clothing, cosmetic & NZ souvenir sales. The focus of the cruise was performing arts but a lot of performances took place in Centrum where there was never sufficient seating, even when using seats on upper decks. Unfortunately the gastro bug hit on Day 2. This meant no more self-service in Windjammers. Barriers went up & all food was served by staff, leading to queues at all counters. Meals became a chore instead of enjoyable. Excursions in Mare & Noumea were appropriate and excellently handled by all staff involved. Embarkation & disembarkation both were handled smoothly and with happy smiles. Read Less
Sail Date October 2016
We chose Royal Caribbean because we had sailed with them many times We took a 5 day land tour prior to the cruise. We were extremely satisfied with the exception of our stay in Denali. We had been told prior to the final payment that we ... Read More
We chose Royal Caribbean because we had sailed with them many times We took a 5 day land tour prior to the cruise. We were extremely satisfied with the exception of our stay in Denali. We had been told prior to the final payment that we would be staying at the Denali Grand Hotel. I made additional inquiries to Royal Caribbean in making plans for the trip and was sent a web link for the Grand and opportunities to explore the area. I called the Grand 3 days before the cruise to arrange for some special requests and found that they did not have us registered. Making a long story short, we finally found that we were booked at the Denali Park Village. Let me says that not only were we dissatisfied but most of the people we talked to Including guests in the other buildings and they were equally unhappy. The only redeeming feature of the two day stay was that the beds were comfortable. The food was expensive (as expected), very limited menu items, and fair at best in the taste category. If you chose to leave and go into the town you had to pay $5.00 per person each way (the Grand offered the same service for free), so before the 5 of us left the room we knew we had spent $50. The staff was friendly but poorly managed! Once on the ship we really enjoyed all the ports. The food was good, staff exceptional, and our 12 yr old granddaughter had a great time. This was a trip of a lifetime and have great memories. The trip would have been perfect if not for the our stay in Denali. The Talkeetna Alaskan Lodge and the Hotel Alyeska were marvelous. The Denali tundra tour was glorious. Read Less
Sail Date June 2016
We traveled with a group and others in the group decided the cruise line, dates and itinerary. The embarkation process prior to getting on the ship was very fast, easy and smooth. The cabin (7054) was wonderful - I love the layout with ... Read More
We traveled with a group and others in the group decided the cruise line, dates and itinerary. The embarkation process prior to getting on the ship was very fast, easy and smooth. The cabin (7054) was wonderful - I love the layout with the desk/seating area near the door rather than on the other side of the bed near the balony. The ship looked nice and seemed nicely decorated. The first negative experience was coming on the ship. Other cruises we've been greeted with free drinks and appitizers, but this one made you walk a gantlet of people trying to sell you upgrades, drink packages, spa, etc. We had to push our way to the elevator to escape! Most everything about the ship and cruise was fine except the dining. Has the cruise industry gone the way of the airlines? It seemed that everything was scaled back and on the cheap. No more chocolate on the pillow. Only 3 courses (appitizer/soup/salad, main and dessert. Other cruises had 4 appitizer, soup/salad, main, dessert. Unlike other cruises I struggled to find 3 offerings I thought sounded at all good every night. I was really surprised by dessert. I haven't met many desserts that I don't love. I had ice cream several nights because nothing else looked at all appealing. There way a distinct shortage of chocolate!! The few time chocolate was offered, it was with something coffee - and I don't like coffee or just a dribble of it. The dessert selection at the buffet was equally dismal. No chocolate, hard/cheap store-bought cookies, only soft-serve ice cream in strawberry and vanilla (again, no chocolate!!). The one night they did have a main course I liked (lobster), they also offered a crab salad and thai chicken. Why couldn't they offer those on other nights? Being cheap with the lobster and crab? I don't get it. Read Less
Sail Date June 2016
We left Sydney February 18 and returned February 25, 2016. This is my 3rd cruise but 1st on Royal Caribbean. We booked Delta from MYR to SYD, NEVER again as they delayed, rebooked, stranded, and the list goes on. BUT, once we got to the ... Read More
We left Sydney February 18 and returned February 25, 2016. This is my 3rd cruise but 1st on Royal Caribbean. We booked Delta from MYR to SYD, NEVER again as they delayed, rebooked, stranded, and the list goes on. BUT, once we got to the ship, the cruise was magical. So if you fly, take Quantas or Virgin Australia as these are the dominant carriers there. My daughter turned 16 and we went to celebrate her birthday. I figured in the next years to come I may not have her time as she will be working, dating, etc, so now was my chance and it was a good choice. We were on the 9th level in the middle with a balcony overlooking the waters. Most excellent! The crew was phenominal as we were greeted by the ship director when entering, and waving to the staff when exiting. Let me mention the staff that scored a 10+...Alfred-commander, Mario-bar server, Inezbio (I apologize I misspelled your name)-room housekeeper, Hubart-waiter, Steve-cruise activity person and our favorite, Dante-our server on deck 4 early dining. The ship was clean and easy to find where your going with well placed signs and helpful staff. We enjoyed room service, always on time, and tea on our balcony every morning, very relaxing. The planner paper was circled with events we wanted to attend daily from movies, bingo, pool, music, shows, comedy show, a tango spotlight dance (most excellent), jewelry shows and give aways, retail sales, makeup discounts and fun learning stuff. Every morning was a tv morning show with Steve who is a hoot. He made everything fun. The service in the dining room is beyond compare. I felt like we were in a ritzy mansion with servers who became like family because of their professional but friendly personalities. When the cooks and wait staff went up on the stairs and sang to us, we gave the heart sign to Dante and Hubart and they saw us in the back and signed it back to us, how awesome! Dante made a rose and candle out of a cloth napkin and gave it to my daughter for her birthday while the staff sang, it touched her heart. The food was plenty and much to choose from. It was well displayed and yummy. We never had to wait to eat like prior cruises. The room was always clean, even our shoes were lined up when we returned, and the towel animals very enjoyable. The excursions were good too. In Sydney we toured the city, the bus driver, Jack was very informative and fun. He went out of his way to accommodate us. We saw the Opera House, Mrs Mckrackens chair, the town at the Rocks and more. In Melbourne, we went on the Puffer Billy. In New Castle there is a coach trip to see the sights. All good and not confusing. This was an older adult cruise with very few children and even less teenagers if any. I spoke to several disabled people on board who was happy with the accommodations provided for them as well. The prepared the night before we left so we could get up, shower and go without looking for everything at the last minute, its all about planning so you get every minute of your trip organized and get the most in that you want without disruption. I wished we had more time and we would have went to New Zealand too, but had to return because of school. This was a fabulous ship, staff, and we would do it again! Read Less
Sail Date February 2016
Very hard boarding,we were herded like cattle,arrived at port 11.30 am,told to go away and come back at 2.pm, when on ship, most of staff knew nothing, tried to book a tour at desk ; just looked at us and said nothing, he had no idea what ... Read More
Very hard boarding,we were herded like cattle,arrived at port 11.30 am,told to go away and come back at 2.pm, when on ship, most of staff knew nothing, tried to book a tour at desk ; just looked at us and said nothing, he had no idea what tours were, I asked him did he know what he was doing, with no answer, they were adding on extra costs to our account, we were always checking our account, when we were going ashore by tender, we were told to go to deck 6 and get a ticket and wait in the colony,then told they had no more tickets,so go down to deck 3, when we got there, they said where are your tickets, some were told to go back to deck 6 and get a ticket. At end of cruise, settleing our bill was a night mare, we waited in line for one and a half hours to settle our account, they had only 2 people at the customer service desk, the line of people went half way down the ship, the Captain was very rude and arrogant, I saw water on the floor outside the grill & compass bar, and told the Captain as he was walking by and all I got was a grunt, really the Radiance of the seas needs a over haul, I have always praised the Royal Caribbean, having sailed on the,Brilliance, Legends and Allure but this was the worst. Read Less
Sail Date October 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
This was a 17 night crossing of the Pacific from Honolulu to Sydney via Tahiti and New Zealand. The service was great, the food was great. We went to Chops Grill, Giovani's and the Samba Grill. Food and service was top notch. The ... Read More
This was a 17 night crossing of the Pacific from Honolulu to Sydney via Tahiti and New Zealand. The service was great, the food was great. We went to Chops Grill, Giovani's and the Samba Grill. Food and service was top notch. The ports in French Polynesia were beautiful. Wellington was windy and it rained in Picton but you can't do anything about the weather. Most of the crossing was calm with 1 night of 4m swells between Tahiti & NZ but the 1st 24 hours after we left Picton was a little wild (up to 7m swells I heard) but Raidiance seamed to handle the seas very well. After 1 slight slow down due to the weather the Captain put the throttle on hard and we did about 24knots for most of the next day or so. Great thrill. In Bora Bora we did a Tour organised via another Cruise Critic member that was fantastic.. Caught up with a few staff from our previous cruise on Radiance and renewed friendships... Overall it was just a great time and I was sorry to disembark. Small items of critisism. The dance floor in the colony club was not as well utilised as we had experienced on our previous cruise. The "Big" production shows were virtual repeats from last year... You'd have thought RCI could have come up with some new shows in 12 months... Still good shows, just repeats. Read Less
Sail Date September 2013
We arrived in Vancouver a day early where we had reservations at the Listel Hotel, which is located in downtown. We had arranged for a private tour bus and went to the Capilano Suspension Bridge Park and a general tour of downtown, Al our ... Read More
We arrived in Vancouver a day early where we had reservations at the Listel Hotel, which is located in downtown. We had arranged for a private tour bus and went to the Capilano Suspension Bridge Park and a general tour of downtown, Al our guide was wonderful and Vancouver is a beautiful city. We boarded late due to extra cleaning of the ship because of a virus on the previous cruise. A little scary, but with all the precautions, no one on our cruise got sick. Check in was smooth and fast. We had rooms with a window, very large window and we loved the location of our rooms (4580-4586) on the 4th level. This is an short hall all to itself directly off the Centrum, everything was so close and easy to get to. The ship was clean, the food was excellent and the cruise activities wonderful. We had a late dinner seating in the dining room and our wait staff were superb. We didn't even try out the pay restuarants. All or part of group attended nearly every on-board activity and I can not say enough about the Cruise and Activity Directors. Jamie (Mama), Lisette and Gordon were our favs. We, but not everyone in our group purchased the deluxe drink package. We got our money's worth, but some others did not. If you are not a big drinker, don't purchase it. My DH is a big beer drinker and I love trying all different drinks. We attended most of the shows and really enjoyed them, but I did think they were a little weak, compared to some shows we've attended. Over all, a wonderful trip. Read Less
Sail Date June 2013
Just had a fantastic vacation in Alaska (June 21-28) but the cruise ship was not so great. RCCL “Radiance of the Seas” is far from the best ship afloat. The problems are many: (1)State room balconies look down on to the tops of the ... Read More
Just had a fantastic vacation in Alaska (June 21-28) but the cruise ship was not so great. RCCL “Radiance of the Seas” is far from the best ship afloat. The problems are many: (1)State room balconies look down on to the tops of the life boats obstructing views of the ocean below, a very poor design for a cruise ship. (2)The specialties restaurants “Izumi” and “Rita’s cantina” lock the rear doors to access the outside deck so one needs to go back through the “Wind Jammer cafe” to the stairs or elevator to access the stern outside setting area, how crazes is that? Even if the food was great, and it was not, one should be able to sit outside. We had record high heat and perfect weather for this June 2013 cruise and found it difficult to get to an outside deck. (3)The crew was not outstanding, most RC cruises do have great crew members but I was disappointed with both room and dinner staff and a mention to the head waiter about a problem got a confusing answer that didn’t make since at all so I replied “…no need to explain why …just fix the problem” he didn’t. Automatic tipping can be removed from ones bill but I never have done that, maybe next time I will. (4)The ice cream station (only one in WJ) worked fine most of the time but not all of the time disappointing many. (5) “The Quest” had far too many people trying to play the game. Can’t blame them for having a popular activity but maybe have it somewhere with more room or have the same activity twice. (6) Disembarkation was total nightmare mostly because the Canadian government could not decide if we were to take our bags through customs or send then directly to our plane. The positives were: 1) Embarkation was no problem at all we are Platinum members. (2) Shore excursions, handle well by staff. (3) Entertainment was good. (4) Lounges, although over crowed when at seas, were nice and I didn’t do the pools. This was our 19th cruise (8th RCCL) and honestly my most disappointed cruise ship experience by far but the excursions in Alaska and the memories we have are well worth the trip. One last thing, this is the first time I felt it necessary to write a bad review so let me be fair and say on a scale from 1 to 10 this ship “Radiance of the seas” is a “5” Dale (Maryland)   Read Less
Sail Date June 2013
A group of twelve friends embarked on June 3rd in Fairbanks heading down to Denali and then to Anchorage and Seward before boarding the Radiance of the Seas on June 7th.Connections from the airport to the hotel in Fairbanks were extremely ... Read More
A group of twelve friends embarked on June 3rd in Fairbanks heading down to Denali and then to Anchorage and Seward before boarding the Radiance of the Seas on June 7th.Connections from the airport to the hotel in Fairbanks were extremely smooth. The accommodations were fine. I thought the prices for the breakfast buffet were out of line and would be free at a Hampton Inn. We were impressed with the tours that were included in the Fairbanks area on Day 2. The Riverboat was very informative, very comfortable, and well planned. After lunch we visited the Dredge #8 and panned for gold. It was a great experience.On Day 3 we rode the train from Fairbanks to Denali. Scenery was beautiful and the train guide and bartender were good. At the park we had a walking tour which happened to have a close encounter with a moose and her calf. Accommodations at McKinley Village were adequate. The shuttle into town was convenient and free.Day 4 we took the optional WTW excursion ($310 per couple) into the park. That experience was worth the money, with numerous wildlife viewing and brief glimpses of Denali through gaps in the clouds. Day 5 we road the coach to Anchorage. Along the way we have splendid views of Denali. In Anchorage we were deposited at a downtown mall to get lunch. We spent about two hours wandering around the mall and the surrounding neighborhood. I mention this mainly to emphasize one very negative aspect of this day. When we arrived at the port in Seward it was about 5:30 PM. We had an arduous check-in procedure and finally hit the deck around 6 PM. With early seating, this meant that we had very little time to get to our room for clean-up before getting to our table around 6:20 PM. Now muster was scheduled for 7:30PM, so between having our waiters needing to get to muster duty and still serve us our dinner, suffice it to say that dinner was VERY rushed.Most of this problem I place with the Cruise Tour company that arranged the final leg of our journey. Our guide kept telling us not to worry "My dear guests," the ship does not sail until 9PM. A much shorter lunch stop would have solved the problem for us and I don't think I would have regretted a shorter zip through Anchorage.So we sailed on June 7th, heading toward Ketchikan. The ports of call were very nice and the scenery along the way was spectacular. Since we had been to Ketchikan, Skagway, and Juneau, we were content to explore the towns and skip the extra excursions. The only exception was that I took the Klondike Highway Bike tour in Skagway. That was fantastic!! The tour people were friendly, knowledgeable, and informative. The bikes were in excellent condition and the ride was well worth the $95 fee.The big problem began on Sunday in Juneau. On our way back to the ship from church, we stopped to buy some souvenirs. These included four Ulu knives (a very popular item in Alaska). These were confiscated at the security stop as we reboarded the ship. When we tried to retrieve them so we could mail them home in Skagway, we hit some big bumps in the quality of service from Guest Services. I'm pretty steamed about all of this, so I will just say that we were finally able to get the knives back in Ketchikan and mail them home. Thanks to the concierge (JD) we finally got through the issues and the Customs official in Ketchikan was very friendly as he cleared our purchase for being taken to shore. When we left the ship in Vancouver we saw many large tables full of confiscated items still waiting to be claimed, so I know we were in good company with this problem. I fault RCI for not adequately informing passengers about the problems with purchasing items for taking back to the US through Canada. If you're planning this trip, be careful and get the full information before you buy. Also, if the post office is available, I advise mailing many items home from shore and not after you try to get back on the ship.On board, our stateroom attendant was very attentive and congenial. Our dinner table waiters were also very good and provided our dinners at a good pace. I cannot say the same for lunch or breakfast.I found myself eating lunch in the Park Cafe most of the time and putting up with breakfast in the Cascade.The ship seems to be in need of some TLC. Elevator buttons frequently were inoperative and paint was peeling from the undersides of deck 11.While we usually enjoy the evening entertainment, there was only one show that kept us in our seats from beginning to end. Real sleepers!Much was made of the norovirus. I don't know how many actually caught it, but all of our group were hale and hardy throughout the two weeks we were together. The slight inconvenience of having crew serve us at the various venues and little to pay for the confidence that we'd be saved the problems of the sickness and being quaranteened.The process of leaving the ship was relatively painless and customs was a breeze. We recommend taking a shuttle to the downtown hotels in Vancouver. Inexpensive and quick. I think we checked into the Residence Inn by Marriott by 9AM. Nice new hotel with wifi and a free breakfast buffet!!! Read Less
Sail Date June 2013
1st Alaska Cruise - Southbound on Radiance OTS From the start this trip was fantastic. Everything getting on and off the ship was very organized. Train ride from Anchorage to Seward worth every penny when compared to the bus option but ... Read More
1st Alaska Cruise - Southbound on Radiance OTS From the start this trip was fantastic. Everything getting on and off the ship was very organized. Train ride from Anchorage to Seward worth every penny when compared to the bus option but you do board the ship later in the day. Got to see lots of wildlife and when we did the train slowed down to get a better view. Hubbard Glacier was AWESOME & our ship was able to get in very close to the glacier for some really good pictures. Saw 2 whales breach on the whale watching excursion in Juneau. The ships personnel where just great including the Captain who made an announcement every day. They were very courteous and helpful. Our cabin steward was just fantastic and we saw her everyday. The seaplane ride in Ketchikan was the highlight of my trip even landing on one of the fjords.Ship was very clean and the food was great although I would not recommend the Windjammer just before closing. Any other time the food was great with a very good selection. The main dinning room and the 2 specialty restaurants we ate in where great including the staff.All in all this trip was the best I have ever taken on land or sea and in the future if I sail again it will defiantly be with this cruise line. Read Less
Sail Date May 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
Arrived port of Tampa via car (we all live in Florida) and dropped off the bags while the guys parked in the covered garage across the street. Once they joined us in the terminal it took all of 15 minutes to get checked in. Made ... Read More
Arrived port of Tampa via car (we all live in Florida) and dropped off the bags while the guys parked in the covered garage across the street. Once they joined us in the terminal it took all of 15 minutes to get checked in. Made our way to Lido deck and the buffet which was one of the best buffets we have seen. The food stations were laid out so there never seemed like you were jockeying for position and the variety was outstanding and plentiful. We also liked the ice cream stations on both sides of the buffet. We had outside statements on Deck 3 and they were a great size with a really comfy bed. My only complaint would be the size of the shower. The water pressure was wonderful but the length of the shower was really, really small. Other than that, lots of storage and it was spotless. What can I say about the dining room and our wait staff. They were the best and the food was to die for. No complaints here either. We all had a great time at dinner each evening. Shows were great and certainly a big notch above the ones we've seen recently on Carnival ships. Lots and lots of places to go each evening to hear different kinds of music and dance the night away if you are so inclined. The casino was not kind to my husband but they never are. The best part of the ship during the day was the solarium. You had to get there early to grab a lounge chair but it was worth it. What a great place, especially since the weather wasn't cooperating. Getting off the ship was easy also. They have it all down to an art form. We loved everything about our 4 night cruise and the first time cruisers in our group are definitely cruising again. We would definitely go back to the Radiance again. Read Less
Sail Date February 2011
My wife and I booked with a local tour guide a group cruise and land tour with Royal Caribbean. The cruise portion was on the Radinace of the Seas. We did not know before we boarded that this week was the first week after the three week ... Read More
My wife and I booked with a local tour guide a group cruise and land tour with Royal Caribbean. The cruise portion was on the Radinace of the Seas. We did not know before we boarded that this week was the first week after the three week renovation, and we stayed on deck nine. My wife knew something was wrong because of the slight mold smell and then we saw the air blowers. I did not notice since my sense of smell is very weak. It was a great cruise. The officers and crew really tried hard to please. Our wait staff in the dining room were EXCELENT! Josie Valenqueze from Peru was the best we have had. Because we were sailing on the Radiance we did not expect A+ food but we got what I considered was at least an A. We ate every night in the Main Diningroom and loved it. I personally enjoyed the shooters every night presented in a different colored glass to keep. The problems I found were these (you must know we were on deck nine.) a. There was never any cold water in the sink, but was in our shower. b. The shower temperature was good but had to be adjusted constantly. c. There is a mold smell in the hallway but not in our stateroom. d. Our cabin steward was good but it was his first week on the job, even so he tried very hard to do well. e. The renovation changes were made to make more revenue for RCCL and not for the happiness of the passengers. Let be explain E. RCCL installed a huge screen on the pool deck. It was nice but very few passengers looked at the screen. This was a cruise to Alaska and few people used the outside pool. Plus the sound was turned up so loud you could not talk to someone unless they were right next to you. Even when the NBA finals was on the screen few people stayed very long on the deck. The ship even closed down the pool bar early, it was senseless to keep it open. RCCL eliminated a large amount of seats at the windjammer buffet to install two pay as you go restaurants. One is a oriental bar/restaurant and the other is a family style Mexican restaurant. There were never enough seats in the buffet. I saw many, many customers taking their breakfast downstairs to eat it in their cabin on their bed. (no room to eat it on the dresser.) It was not a good time there. Plus on top of it all I saw very few folks actually trying out the two restaurants. The idea is that you paid for everything you ordered. From the starters to the deserts after paying five dollars cover charge. There was installed a new Brazilian Steak Restaurant on the deck 12. It was nice, but again very few passengers used the restaurant. The price was around 30 dollars per person. I was using the walking track after dinner and saw that only two tables were being used on the first night, three tables on the second night, then for the rest of the week the higher up officers were eating at the restaurant and only two or three of the tables were being used by the guests. Why not, if the guests were leaving the tables empty why not have the upper officers use them. But, other than that the cruise was very very good, and my wife and I have been on many many cruises. They tried really hard to do a good job and we appreciated the effort. Read Less
Sail Date January 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
Now eight years old, the Radiance of the Seas, the first of RCI's Radiance class, is well maintained and in good condition. The crew was great and very friendly. A nice touch is that RCI has fixed benches to the heliport in the bow ... Read More
Now eight years old, the Radiance of the Seas, the first of RCI's Radiance class, is well maintained and in good condition. The crew was great and very friendly. A nice touch is that RCI has fixed benches to the heliport in the bow where you can sit and watch where the ship is going. My stateroom was a Category H Ocean-view, far forward on Deck 3. It was spacious enough. I had expected to feel more motion but even in less than calm waters, I felt little motion. Evidence of swells was mostly experienced when water splashed over the window. We were assigned second seating at 9:00pm for dinner. That was later than usual for dinner but I believe this time was set in deference to the large number of South American passengers who normally eat dinner later. The food in the Dining Room was acceptable but mostly unremarkable. The food in the Windjammer Cafe was mediocre at best and varied little from day-to-day. The best sandwiches were found in the Seaview Cafe. There you could get freshly grilled burgers, Reuben and Cuban sandwiches. There was also food available in the Solarium; usually a variety of cold salads, bad pizza, hot dogs, cookies and brownies. Table size at dining was an issue for many people. Some guests who requested tables for 2 or 4 were put at tables for 10 and 12. My Time Dining was at capacity and people could not switch. I even tried to bribe the maitre d' but to no avail. What also bothered many was that there small tables that were never used during the cruise. The entertainment in the Aurora Theater was average. The main show planned for one night was postponed for technical difficulties. When it finally was performed, there were still technical problems. The two headliners, alleged stars of Broadway productions of Le Miserable and Phantom of the Opera, were unremarkable. I did not stay for their entire show. There was an Elvis impersonator show (Helvis or something like that) I skipped altogether. I eventually gave up on the shows and stopped going. Many of the passengers I spoke to, whether Diamond Level Crown & Anchor members or novice RCI cruisers, expressed disappointment in the overall cruise experience. RCI veterans pointed to the elimination of things such as toiletries, pillow chocolates, and the traditional champagne fountain as evidence of the cruise lines diminished service. First timers tended to say that while the cruise was okay, there was no Wow Factor. Several expressed interest in trying other cruise lines for comparison. Three of the ports were beach resorts. Porto Belo, Ilhabela and Búzios, all in Brazil, were small towns or islands where passengers tendered ashore. Ilhabela was arguably the loveliest and Búzios had the best shopping. Búzios became known as an up-scale resort when Brigitte Bardot visited in the 60's and there is a statue of her near the central Beach. Another of the most common complaints I overheard was the value of the shore excursions. In Santos, Brazil, most, if not all passengers on the Historic Santos excursions demanded refunds when they returned to the ship. The Coffee Museum (former Coffee Exchange) was apparently an empty warehouse; the Train Station was modeled after Victoria Station but is now abandoned and there were few animals in the Zoo. The remaining ports were Punta del Este, Uruguay, our first port of call, where I chose to remain on board, Rio de Janeiro and Montevideo, Uruguay. Montevideo was pleasant but I was under-whelmed during a Highlights tour. The primary destination of the itinerary was, of course, Rio de Janeiro and the Samba Parade. I learned that the parade is actually a competition between the city's top 12 Samba Schools. The Parade is held on two successive nights with six schools parading each night starting at 9:00pm. In this photo, the Parade is moving from the bottom to the top. Each school has thousands of participants parading in various costumes; dozens of dancers; floats and a band. They are given between 60 and 90 minutes to parade through the Sambodromo which is about 2300 feet long. There is a 20 minute break between each school. Many tourists left after the 1st two schools. RCI begins its shuttle service back to the ship then. I stayed for 5 of the 6 schools and finally left the Sambodromo at 4:30am. It was exciting but after a while the costumes begin to all look alike. Many passengers were upset about the cost of the Carnaval excursion. As people compared notes, it became apparent that many passengers bought tickets for the Parade on-line and had comparable or better seats for much less money. The ship excursion did include transportation but, again, the passengers I spoke to who went on their own had no problems getting to and from the ship. Two of our members went on their own and found themselves in the staging area for the schools. They had the opportunity to see and touch the costumes up close. There was also much grumbling about the seating. Many agreed, me included, that the initial description of the Excursion on RCI's website implied a reserved seat. The reality was a seat cushion and a scramble for a place to sit in grandstand Sector 7. Sector 7 is considered a good place because it is across from the judges' box and the schools paused to perform. But it is hard concrete seating, although most of the crowd is on its feet dancing and singing most of the time. People also have the opportunity to order costumes in advance and march in the parade. I also took the Best of Rio excursion on the third day in Port. It included a trip up Corcovado to the Cristo Redentor (or Christ the Redeemer) Statue, one of the Seven Modern Wonders of the World; drives along the Ipanema and Copacabana Beaches; lunch at a churrascaria (Brazilian barbecue); the cable cars at Sugar Loaf mountain and a stop at the Cathedral, which is very contemporary and was inaugurated by Pope John Paul II. Read Less
Sail Date February 2009
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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