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Sail Date: June 2018
We chose this cruise because we have been on four previous RCI cruises- on Freedom and Oasis and had exceptional experiences every time. We knew we wanted to go to Alaska, so RCI seemed like the obvious choice. However, since the moment we ... Read More
We chose this cruise because we have been on four previous RCI cruises- on Freedom and Oasis and had exceptional experiences every time. We knew we wanted to go to Alaska, so RCI seemed like the obvious choice. However, since the moment we got on the boat, the vibe was just... different. Staff does NOT seem to enjoy their jobs. The ship is smaller and older, which we knew already, but the problem is that it gets treated like a second class ship. Dinner in the main dining room took 70 minutes to come out the first night. Understandable, so that wasn’t a big deal. But then the annoyances started adding up. Dishes in the Solarium piled up. Loud construction in the solarium on the first sea day- again, maybe unavoidable but still annoying. Food was nothing to write home about- far below quality we had had on Freedom and Oasis class. Service was hit or miss. When we mentioned some of these issues, they were very nice and attentive, but outside of that, many staff members were very standoffish and seemingly annoyed at serving food, drinks, and counters. There was also not much to do on the ship. It was definitely geared towards an older crowd and lacking in activities and amenities. It was very disappointing overall for the quality we had come to expect. If you want to go to Alaska I highly recommend the Northbound itinerary- it was GORGEOUS! But if you can find it on a different cruise line, that would be a better choice than sailing Radiance of the Seas. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2018
We had been to Alaska 6 years ago on an 11 night land and sea. We wanted more time on land so we booked additional nights on land this time. We also were now Diamond status on Royal so we chose them over Princess. We truly had a wonderful ... Read More
We had been to Alaska 6 years ago on an 11 night land and sea. We wanted more time on land so we booked additional nights on land this time. We also were now Diamond status on Royal so we chose them over Princess. We truly had a wonderful time on land with the additional days and tours. Breaking up the travel with shorter intervals on the train were good as well instead of the all day train with Princess. The disappointment truly was the Radiance which is an aging ship that has not been well maintained. Sewage smell from day one in stateroom bathroom. One day the sewage line was totally blocked on our side of the ship on level 7. Rust on our balcony and dirty sliding glass door windows as well were a disappointment. Wait staff was friendly but not always attentive (Linda the assistant waiter was the exception in the Main Dining Room). The food, including the lobster, truly was mediocre with no assistance to remove the meat from the table. We barely saw the assigned head waiter and did not see him perform any hands on assistance at all. The entertainment was mediocre (even the headliners). The shore excursions truly made this cruise acceptable. The casino had outdated slots and roulette tables with no towers or nonfunctioning towers. The Park Cafe was poorly staffed on several days as well. Forget the Windjammer since food selection was mediocre at best also. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: May 2018
We very much like the Radiance class of ships. And have taken the Brilliance many times. There are a lot of windowed public areas- which works great for the Alaskan weather. The Diamond Lounge and the host JD were fantastic. And the ... Read More
We very much like the Radiance class of ships. And have taken the Brilliance many times. There are a lot of windowed public areas- which works great for the Alaskan weather. The Diamond Lounge and the host JD were fantastic. And the cruise, the crew and the views were wonderful. Our room steward was Ery, and hewas attentive and caring. Chops Grill is first class and a super food. The Windjammer dining room was very disappointing. As the food was very mediocre, not a big variety, and seemed no where as good as on the Brilliance of the Seas. The Windjammer staff did not seem engaged. The Balcony room on the port side was great going south as seeing the view was amazing. Also ask to go on the "behind the scenes entertainment tour" on the last sea day...and the entertainers are very nice and accommodating. Also would recommend that you take the Wilderness Express train from Anchorage to Denali on the way up and spend a few days at the Denali Bluffs Lodge. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2018
Just off of a very disappointing cruise on the Allure and I needed something to restore my faith in Royal. I always preferred the Voyager class ships above the others and the Explorer and this itinerary brought me around again. So easy to ... Read More
Just off of a very disappointing cruise on the Allure and I needed something to restore my faith in Royal. I always preferred the Voyager class ships above the others and the Explorer and this itinerary brought me around again. So easy to move around and yet plenty to do. The MDR had a couple of so-so dinners, but the rest were superb. Our MDR waitress "Lucy" and assistant I-Wayan were top notch, and the same for our stateroom attendant who kept the stateroom immaculate. The cruise director Graham Seymour was hilariously entertaining. My wife was picked to assist in the magic show. She still can't figure out how he did what he did. Then she roped me into participating in the "Love and Marriage (and maybe a divorce)" show which did turn out to be fun to be in. We thoroughly enjoyed the whale watching, Mendenhall Glacier, and wildlife viewing excursion, which was a bit pricy, but worth every penny. We also enjoyed the White Pass railway excursion in Skagway. The staff made the trip interesting and the views are absolutely stunning. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: May 2018
Last year my wife and I sailed the Celebrity Solstice, doing the Inside Passage from Seattle. We enjoyed it so much we decided to go northbound on the Vancouver-Seward run and after a couple years, went back to RCCI. We sailed with another ... Read More
Last year my wife and I sailed the Celebrity Solstice, doing the Inside Passage from Seattle. We enjoyed it so much we decided to go northbound on the Vancouver-Seward run and after a couple years, went back to RCCI. We sailed with another couple. We arrived in Vancouver a day early (it was supposed to be 2 nights early - thanks Delta!). We enjoyed our time in the city and felt like it would be a cool place to explore with more time. What surprised me most was how easy the embarkation was. If Seattle was utter chaos, including being sent to Uber hell, Vancouver was perhaps the simplest embarkation of any cruise we have taken. A few thoughts on the cruise. The CD on Radiance is average to bland. The Love and Marriage Game show was pretty lame. The entertainment was OK but not great and they didn't have a good musical guest. The pub entertainer was great, but he really packed the place out! I did find they had some good and unique trivia, which is great. We had outstanding service and very good food in MDR and Samba (Samba was one of my highlights). But then we found food in the Windjammer was not great, especially at lunch. The variety was not there, and some of the items were not very good. Not that you should judge a cruise by it's pizza but dang the pizza was nasty and so under-cooked that the cheese wasn't melted. The itinerary was good. I will review ports below. In general, I think they should find an alternative for Icy Point Straight. We were not impressed. Perhaps they should sub it out for Sitka. Or perhaps an overnight in Juneau? The Hubbard Glacier was impressive, though we didn't see any calving. Disembarkation was great. We took the train through RCCI to Anchorage. That was another highlight - the scenery was outstanding. It was the shortest 4 1/2 hours ever. The only bizarre part was that the train drops you off at the airport, but your luggage is in downtown at the convention center. Fortunately we were renting a car so it wasn't a big deal. We had 2+ days in Anchorage - there is a lot of fun stuff to do if you have a car. Read Less
13 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2017
We Finally Made It ! My husband felt we were the only people in America who had not visited Alaska, so we were excited to finally embark – and found embarkation quick and easy. Overall, we enjoyed the ship and particularly liked ... Read More
We Finally Made It ! My husband felt we were the only people in America who had not visited Alaska, so we were excited to finally embark – and found embarkation quick and easy. Overall, we enjoyed the ship and particularly liked Skagway and Victoria. Cabin: We were in 8211 and I must say it was the quietest cabin we've ever had in 9 cruises. End of hall, forward. It was fairly easy to hop on the forward elevators to 5, which takes you to Cafe Promenade for coffee, snacks and soda machines – also, 5 is a good place to walk aft to the main dining rooms. We did decide, though, that a king in this size cabin no longer works well for us, so we will try two twins in the future. Dining: We had the two best waiters for traditional dining that we've ever had. They were attentive, cordial and funny. We have learned in cruise ship dining rooms you need to be very clear and precise about what you want, perhaps due to a combination of language barriers and haste. Do be assertive (while being polite) and feel free to order things like two appetizers or two entrees. If you want a baked potato or a fruit plate, ask -- even if it's not on the menu. We enjoyed every entree we tried: the beef tenderloin and lobster were especially tasty; turkey and pork tenderloin okay but not memorable. If you like ordering from a menu, go to the MDR for breakfast and/or lunch when offered. It offers a buffet as well. Windjammer was okay but when busy, you feel like you're at Golden Corral, or worse. They seem to have serious problems keeping food hot. Kudos regarding first-day Windjammer carved turkey (melted in your mouth) and bread pudding; also last nite in MDR tiramisu dessert was delicious. The soda package worked well: machines had so many choices. You can order Cokes and Sprites in the dining room also on your soda card, as well as at any bar (but not all the other flavors). Entertainment: Do not – I repeat not – miss the ice skating show Seasons. Talented skaters, well choreographed, never drags, good flow. The full production with impressive set changes featuring the ship's orchestra and singers was quite good too. The two ballroom dancers were exceptional all week. Activities: The indoor large hot tub in the spa was wonderful given the outdoor cooler temperatures and sometimes clouds/rain. The Solarium outdoor pool was quite warm the first sea day but cooler later in the cruise. Ports: In Juneau, we took the bus to Mendenhall Glacier which had a good visitor center. We made the best of hiking since it rained the whole time – only did the short walk to photo point, not all the way to the waterfall. Booked through Viator and were satisfied; liked the flexibility of how long you wished to stay there. They used Juneau Tours as their local vendor. (Viator is owned by Trip Advisor and we used them for all our excursions this time. We found it way cheaper than Royal Caribbean, and they offered trips that matched our desires. Our expectations were met on all three). In Skagway, we took a 3 ½ hour van tour up the Klondike Hwy to the Yukon, through Viator (they used Frontier locally) and were quite happy with our experience. The tour guide talked about herself a bit too much and told a couple long and very strange stories, but other than that she was informative and friendly. Best thing is she stopped at least ten times for photos, enabling some great pix. Also nice to stretch your legs and get some fresh mountain air. After that we spent an hour on our own in the town itself, and it does have some historical buildings and charm, although sometimes the commercialism clouds that, as in many ports. Victoria: We took a Viator-sponsored narrated bus ride to Butchart Gardens and we were given flexibility to choose our time to come back. The Gardens are beautiful, and we feel one should allow 2 to 2 ½ hours to savor it (Royal's excursion only gives people 1 ¾ hours there). Enough flowers were still in bloom--lots of reds and yellows for Fall. They dropped us (our choice) at the Empress at the end. We went in to see it, then walked the waterfront footpath most of the way back to our ship, which we highly recommend. Just grab a tourist map so you can find your ship again before it sets sail! It was so scenic and interesting: seaplanes, ferries, clippers -- lots to enjoy in the lovely Inner Harbor. After disembarking, lines were very long and slow even for those of us who had prepaid RCI for buses to the airport. As a general observation, Royal Caribbean is gradually taking away more and more little things. Some things are only available if you specifically ask (and of course they hope most people don't know that and won't ask). My examples taken separately sound petty but it all adds up to not feeling as “royally treated” as guests once felt. No mint on pillow, no separate bottled toiletries (you only get shampoo on the wall; if you ask, they do have lotions and shower gels, shampoos and conditioners in bottles) no welcome pouch, no RCI pen and paper, no ice buckets in the room unless you ask, no robes unless you ask, no included hot food for breakfast room service, no fresh sheets for seven days other than first day, no filet mignon in the MDR (you'd have to pay for a specialty restaurant), no ice sculptures or fruit sculptures and on and on. Again, taken separately, you might say who cares? But eventually it all adds up to Royal feeling less "royal". We're sensing less and less that we are on a luxury all-inclusive floating resort that were found so special in the past. To us, part of what we love is the feeling of being pampered; sadly, some of that seems to be eroding (and we only started cruising in 2009 – we don't even know what the more experienced cruisers all relished before that). After nine RCI cruises and reaching Platinum, it's kind of sad that we're reaching the point where we want to try a different cruise line. On a positive note, we met some interesting people. We found the vibe on an Alaskan cruise different than on a Caribbean: People generally don't come to party, but more for the ports and scenery, which suited our style fine. The Explorer itself is an attractive ship and for its age is quite well maintained. One recommendation: if you haven't booked yet, we think you may find more snow and ice in May/June/July. Sailing the week of September 8th, while the beauty was still impressive, we were somewhat disappointed in that regard (lots of melting had occurred). Of possibly a ship smaller than Explorer can go to different spots? If you haven't gone yet, Bon Voyage as you head "North to Alaska!" Read Less
9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2017
8th time Alaska, 4th time on Explorer including Caribbean. 4th time end of season and weather has always been fairly good. Read tons of negative reviews before hand. Did not encounter any of them. Was totally impressed with everything, ... Read More
8th time Alaska, 4th time on Explorer including Caribbean. 4th time end of season and weather has always been fairly good. Read tons of negative reviews before hand. Did not encounter any of them. Was totally impressed with everything, staff, food, ship condition. Our first Trip with a mobility impairment. We were in a aft cabin reasonably close to the elevator. Thus food and concierge club along with the diamond club were just a matter of up and down. Biggest comment on ship was I ate too much. The food was very good. Only time off of ship was Victoria. RCCL was very good and got us off and to our town car. We then went wine tasting in Cowichan Valley. It was a very good day. On return though the Victoria Port Authority had no handicap facilities and did not care. Again RCCL is very good on handicap care. Once at the gangway we were good in their hands. Our junior suite was amazing. The tub was hard at first but we quickly adjusted to it. One caution on the junior suite is be careful and remember where you place things when unpacking. There is a tremendous amount of storage. The balcony was the most private that I have ever seen. It was also the cleanest and best maintained that I have seen. Very little extra noise in the room. Met extraordinary people in the diamond club again. The one negative comment is that the concierge club just isn't up to par so us and most others just went to the beautiful diamond club. All in all it was a very good trip and we were very surprised that all the negative reviews that we had read were not at any time experienced by us. 80th cruise Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2017
1) Only decent stop was Juneau, where you can see Mendenhall Glacier. 2) Skagway - is hole - nothing to do there and around 3) RCL failed to enter Tracy Arm - and that was the whole point to book this cruise in the first place. If ... Read More
1) Only decent stop was Juneau, where you can see Mendenhall Glacier. 2) Skagway - is hole - nothing to do there and around 3) RCL failed to enter Tracy Arm - and that was the whole point to book this cruise in the first place. If not glaciers - you can enjoy same scenery around lake Tahoe, Oregon, Seattle and Vancouver - just almost for free. Crew blamed fog, oh yeah - you are going to get fog at 6am, ship left at 9 am - and fog was disappearing. So Tracy Arm advertizement in itinerary - is SCAM. To further confirm that this is scam - I tracked next cruise on same ship, guess what? It did same trick. It did not go into Tracy Arm - although there was Princess and other ships. It headed back to Seattle. 4) Overall scenery is very bland and unexciting. You would better fly to Juneau from Seattle, and take small boat Glacier Bay tour. You will see more, and pay twice less. 5) Oh - food. Food on board is mediocre art best, sometimes disgusting. Main Dining Room experience is joke, my family even refused to go their after third day - service there is slow and sloppy. Only edible thing on menu was same Broiled Salmon. But even that one became unedible on day three. One lunch we were unable to find anything edible on menu and left for buffet in search of food. Stay way from RCL, will think twice next time, and definitely will not use RCL and Celebrity - since they are sister companies :( Read Less
17 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2017
Royal Caribbean's pricing for the cruises are about on par with most other cruise lines, yet at the end of the day you'll spend more for less with Royal Caribbean. To start, RC does not have good food. In fact, I would say that RC's ... Read More
Royal Caribbean's pricing for the cruises are about on par with most other cruise lines, yet at the end of the day you'll spend more for less with Royal Caribbean. To start, RC does not have good food. In fact, I would say that RC's food, regardless of where you dine, is not just sub par for most cruise lines, but sub par for pedestrian junk food. Menus in the dining room should be full of options that make it hard to decide what you want because everything looks good. RC's dining room menu was hard to pick from because there was hardly anything appetizing on it. From soups that were fruit based, to main courses you can tell weren't going to be made correctly, to new 'weird' spins on desserts, RC's menu made just getting the vanilla ice cream the good part of the meal. Next, the room service food handling/taste was atrocious. Besides the fact that "hot" breakfasts had an additional "service" charge, the food was anything but good. We put that we had double the occupants to cabin just to get the correct number of place settings. Only once, out of the 4 times we ordered breakfast room service, did we get the correct order. The hash browns were obviously fried in the same oil as fish, because we never got hash browns that didn't taste fishy. Nor did we ever get orange juice that tasted like orange, coffee that wasn't burnt, or bacon that was more oil than bacon. Why was that worth another $7? On the first day of our cruise, we stopped in to Johnny Rockets. Both my fiance and I like Johnny Rockets, but on this ship, it was an embarrassment to the franchise. Beyond the fact that we paid extra just to sit down there, the items you'd go to Johnny Rockets for (i.e. milk shakes) were an additional charge. (Really?) OK, if the food is OK, then the charge is worth it. Except the food was no better than any other food on the ship. The cheese was basically 7-eleven quality nacho cheese, the fries were an oily undercooked mess, and the burgers were hardly burgers. Going to Johnny Rockets and knowing that paying extra for dining didn't correlate with better food, we decided not to try any other "premium" dining experiences. And as we can tell, anything you buy extra on your cruise with RC would not necessarily mean it was better. While we did feel the service people on board were very friendly and helpful, we found that at diner time they were too needy, didn't know when to manage certain courses, sometimes forgot we were waiting on things like coffee or dessert, and regularly reached across us just an inch or two from our faces to attend to the people sitting next to us. Some other troubling issues we found was some false advertising of ship services. The "Voom" internet service is a joke. I understand it's satellite internet, which isn't great to start with. But to advertise you can "stream movies" when you can barely upload a photo is a complete lie. My guess is that if nobody on the ship was using the internet, you might be able to stream a low quality video, but otherwise, there's simply no way. Advertising it as such is a lie. I would be fine with paying for the service if it were cheaper and simply stated it's good for browsing Facebook, but I'm not OK with being told it's fast enough to stream video when that's clearly not true. Our stateroom had a loud whistle noise coming from the bathroom. Considering we're paying over $500/night to stay on board, one would assume that the quality of the cabins would be significantly higher, like a $500/night hotel would be. It's understandable for the cabins to be small, but it's not understandable for the cabins to be noisy other than the usual ship noises (i.e. fog horns). Before leaving port, my fiance and I made it to our cabin to check it out. What we found was a clean stateroom, but a dirty balcony. The glass both inside and out was smudged and dirty, and there were white paint flakes all over the floor. In addition, there seemed to have been a sewage overflow issue near our stateroom that apparently happened either the before we departed from port, or shortly after. There was a disgusting smell in the hallway that forced me and my fiance to hold our breaths during our walk from the deck elevator to our cabin. After some time, we saw the large fans used to dry carpet and we knew exactly what had happened. My fiance received a massage on board. Normally, she gets a massage here in the states for around $50. We paid $175 for a massage on the ship. Considering this is a luxury cruise liner, I figured the massage would not only be better than your average massage on land, but that the spa would go above and beyond for my fiance. Instead, she was told to dress and leave immediately after the massage. No robe and no showering off the oil. What was the point of the massage if she's not going to be able to relax after? Drink packages were incredibly expensive. Why would someone pay $25/day for coffee and tea? If coffee is $4.50/cup, You'd need to drink 6 cups of coffee a day to make up for the price. Who drinks that much coffee? Why would anyone doing the math buy that package? On Princess, we paid $15 for the entire week to have unlimited coffee and tea. We felt that was worth it. But $175/week? We already paid $3150 for the cabin, $178 for internet, $26/day in automatic gratuity, etc... Should we really need to pay for coffee and tea, too? Isn't that the point of a cruise ship? I understand paying for alcohol, but charging people for a latte when they're already going to spend over $4K just to be there is just low. And especially for coffee that either tasted burnt or too strong. My family, fiance, and I have all been on other cruises. This was our first time cruising with RC and I can honestly say there isn't a way to express how disappointed I am with spending so much money on such a terrible cruise line. Being nickled and dimed at every chance blows my mind. You can imagine my shock when my fiance was able to get some sea sickness pills without some fee. In all, I'll admit I don't have a problem spending more money on a cruise if the cruise makes it worth it. I would have spent $4,000 on our cabin, rather than $3150 if I knew that the food would be good and I wasn't going be charged for "conveniences" like hot food in the morning... Especially when our destination is Alaska. Finally, as I checked my suiter luggage, I found that it was damaged in a way that it will no longer be useful for traveling. The hanger bar for the clothing inside broke completely off the suitcase. I do not know if this was done by RC during the transfer of my luggage to the airport or if this was done by the airport. There's no way for me to know this. The only redeeming parts of this cruise were the excursions. They were amazing. Alaska and Victoria were gorgeous and made me and my entire family very happy to have taken a cruise there, regardless of how little the cruise line itself was involved in that process. Needless to say, I won't be sailing again with RC. I wouldn't ever recommend it to anyone. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2017
We cruised to Alaska and it really is a once in a lifetime trip! The scenery is amazing and with all the wildlife, glaciers, and mountains around it is something you will never forget! The Explorer was very well maintained and has a lot of ... Read More
We cruised to Alaska and it really is a once in a lifetime trip! The scenery is amazing and with all the wildlife, glaciers, and mountains around it is something you will never forget! The Explorer was very well maintained and has a lot of options for things to do. Unfortunately our cruise was rainy, windy, and cold so the pool deck was barely used so we got to know the inside of the ship very well. The casino is small, but doable. The dining experiences are fantastic, as I highly recommend the Sapphire dining room every night. It is just as good as the specialty dining experiences and changes every night. My daughter LOVES the kid's zone, Adventure Ocean. She came "home" (to our stateroom) every night with some fun story and fun theme nights. The shows were okay, as many were geared towards the older crowd, but the comedy was great. Read Less
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