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13 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2016
This is our third cruise, all with Royal Caribbean, and first time on the Radiance. We had never been to Hawaii and with some extra vacation time accrued needing to be used up, we decided to make good use of it by doing a 19 day land-sea ... Read More
This is our third cruise, all with Royal Caribbean, and first time on the Radiance. We had never been to Hawaii and with some extra vacation time accrued needing to be used up, we decided to make good use of it by doing a 19 day land-sea vacation combo. Cliff Notes Version of My Review: Overall, I really enjoyed the cruise. I did not allow some aggravations to dull my, otherwise positive, experience. Even hubby was able to internally resolve (somewhat) his few disappointing encounters so much so that HE was the one who initiated a NextCruise booking for Fall 2017. We were fortunate to have upgraded to a guaranteed balcony stateroom without additional cost and even more grateful that it was located on the 9th floor closer to the aft of the ship. We've never had an outside balcony so it was quite a treat despite the cabin's less than spotless upkeep by our attendant. Like many have pointed out, the ship is really wonderful with a lot of glass in public spaces for viewing the scenery outside. Radiance is quite spacious for not being among the largest in RCL's fleet though it definitely looked like she was in dire need of dry-dock repairs which was scheduled immediately after our cruise; but not so run-down that I couldn't see how beautiful she was beyond the grime, faulty toilets, and a broken anchor, to name a few. The Cruise Compass was chock-full of activities every day that we couldn't get to all of them. There were the usual and expectedly funny staples of any cruise itinerary including the Quest, Love and Marriage, and the Belly Flop Contest. The production shows and headliners were fantastic for the most part. Food was predictably plenty as customary. We ate mostly at the Windjammer for breakfast and lunch, then split our time between the MDR and specialty venues with our 5-night specialty dining package splurge, all of which were great, but not necessarily exceptional. Service was where she really did shine though there were a few that were forgettable. Our MDR waitstaff were awesome, solicitous, and self-deprecating. Thank you, Regan, for your great efforts and regularly reminding us to fill out our post-cruise survey for you and Alfredo–10 of which is the highest and 8 being the lowest on the scale (which progressed to 10 as a high and 10 as the low on our last night of the cruise). Gotta love your initiative! There were two barristas at Latte-tudes who were very friendly, no matter how frantically busy they got. Even though we had to seek out the WOW factor at the Windjammer, we were able to connect with some wonderful waiters who elevated their jobs above and beyond simply bussing tables. We booked our own excursions so can't comment on the ship's offerings other than to say that they tend to be more expensive than we have the budget for so we opted to seek out independent tours or rented a car to really see what the different islands had to offer. In the end, I give it a 4-star review but I suppose it could have easily been a 3.5 if there was such an option. To be fair, the best barometer of how well my experience turned out to be, is the fact that I really wasn't ready to leave. Just one more day, please. Extended Version: (AKA, I can go on and on if you have time or just skip the subjects you want to look at.) PLANNING: We booked this cruise 400+ days prior. As in the past, I booked with a major cruise TA. I have heard of so many people having great experiences with TA's who "do all the work for you." I've decided that one has to give up perks and incentives to get that elusive special service. It isn't so much a complaint as it is a fact and the reality that I still have to do my due diligence to get the best product for my money. Since I like to "plan" it wasn't such a hardship and actually gave me something to look forward to as I waited for the BIG DAY to arrive. On the other hand, if you're reading this and you know of a GREAT TA who works with an agency that also offers great perks and incentives, I'd love to hear about it. TIP: If you don't ask, you don't get. Don't hesitate to ask for an upgrade even if it is past the final payment date. A price drop occurred after the 90 day prior-to-sailing window that offered a Guarantee Balcony for just a little bit less than what I had already paid for my Oceanview cabin. My TA was able to make this trade for me, albeit I didn't get a refund for the difference. But RCL gave me an upgrade to my upgrade of a Superior Oceanview instead of the original Deluxe Oceanview Guarantee initially assigned to me. From a location standpoint, portside cabin 9244 was perfect. EMBARKATION: We were warned by email and texts that the check-in process will not begin until 12:30 pm because Radiance had to undergo a complete inspection by CBP and USCG after her season in Australia so we arrived at 1pm. My overall impression of the process from curb to gangway was that it seemed somewhat disorganized and lengthy at 1-1/2 hours of waiting in line through security, check-in, and the final bottleneck just before the bridge where the ship security staff took our photos for identification. This is different from our past experience at Port Everglades where the photo ID was taken at the time of check-in. We took it in stride, blessed to have this opportunity. TIP: We learned that the car agencies do not offer courtesy shuttles to the port. Our cheapest route was to take Roberts Hawaii at $8/pp if reserved online to shuttle us from the airport to Pier 2. Once inside and past security, if you find a shorter line, take it. Don't follow like sheep. Until they figure out how to do their jobs, the port staff directs you to a line based on your status unless you have specific high-priority boarding. But in the end, no one really verified who was who. SHIP: Prior to the Radiance, we have only been on the Freedom Class of ships and were dazzled by their size and onboard amenities so I read as much as I could about this smaller ship and kept an open mind. Objectively, she is a beautiful ship with so much glass to view the outside. I'm not sure why some people consider her dated though she is definitely deserving of some TLC and her scheduled dry-dock before starting the Alaska Season will hopefully address a lot of the wear and tear we noticed throughout the ship. It is also well laid-out and didn't really take much time to orient ourselves, yet, not so small that I felt confined. In fact, there were areas of the ship that I never managed to make it to during our 11-night itinerary. There is one venue that I thought seemed oddly out of place. The Samba Grill is located just above the Windjammer on Deck 12. You reach it by going outside to the sports deck or by stairs from the aft open air dining area of the Windjammer. There are also no adjoining restrooms up there so you have to go outside and back towards the elevators–inconvenient, as was the case when we went there to have dinner one night. It was a cold, windy, and drizzly walk. TIP: On the plus side, we found that outside dining area on the back of the Windjammer was less congested and a great place to sit down and eat a meal (unless it's in Alaska...maybe not so much). CABIN: With 5 sea days to enjoy, we really were excited to have a balcony and an unexpectedly larger cabin than anticipated. Never mind that our cabin steward could have been a little more meticulous with his housekeeping skills. Yes, it did bother me that the cabin–while tidy–was dusty, fingerprints from the previous guests still lingered on the glass doors and a few other places, and greasy film on the balcony glass dulled my view of the sea. On the other hand, our bed was made morning and night. The bathroom was wiped down and cleaned daily. I also did get a few paltry towel animals out of the deal. I decided to let it go as best I could because we got to crack the door open so we could listen to the ocean and allow some fresh air in while we slept. We got to see some amazing sunsets without leaving our room. We saw the passing ocean, the islands, and Vancouver's Lions Gate Bridge at Sunrise. Yeah. It was still perfect. DINING COURTESY VENUES: I mentioned at the beginning that food wasn't exceptional. By no means was it either inedible. It just wasn't as spectacular as I remembered from our previous two cruises. So much so that by the back half of the cruise, I was content to eat their surprsingly decent burgers every day for lunch at the windjammer and skipped the nightly desserts at the MDR. The Park Cafe is really just a very scaled down version of the Windjammer. The Boardwalk Doghouse was ok. I think you have to be a hotdog lover to appreciate it. I heard some people rave about it and some said it sucked. Cafe Latte-tudes was a go-to hangout for us. The scones and cheesecake popsicles are always a great stand-by. The coffee is not brewed. They use their espresso machines so if you're not into strong coffee, they will have you bouncing off the walls. The MDR turns into the Brasserie for breakfast and lunch. We went there once and the food was on par in quality as the Windjammer but limited to what was on the menu and some waiting since it's full-serve dining. TIP: I love the fact that the Windjammer cooks are more than happy to put your bread bun on a grill or your sliced bread freshly toasted if you don't like it straight out of the bag. DINING FEE BASED VENUES: Hubby and I purchased a 5-Night Specialty Dining Package before the cruise. I do think that it was worth the $100/pp we paid for it. There are some caveats. It did not include the Chef's Table and, surprisingly, Rita's Crabshack. The former being too expensive at $90/pp while the package only allots $30 value per venue and the latter is something of a mystery. I don't think that I ever saw anyone order anything from that station other than beer or wine. I did notice a daily special of "surf & turf" burger and chips for $11 which I wanted to try but never got around to. It also didn't include Mystery Dinner Theatre at $65/pp which I would have gone to as it featured (at least in this cruise) a post-show dinner offering at Giovanni's Table which we really loved and visited twice. I guess they classified it as entertainment instead of dining. I also thought I would love Samba Grill but I didn't. As my trusted MDR waiter warned me, there's a lot of meat and I don't know why that didn't register in my head. My steak and potatoes man enjoyed it but I don't eat steak or lamb though there was a bacon wrapped chicken and pork loin. In fact, the best dishes are in their appetizer bar. Next time, I'll skip the skewered meat. That said, I'm not sure it's still worth the cover charge. Chops Grille was great though I stuck to the shrimp entree on the menu. Giovanni's Table was our favorite. It's claim to fame is the Tiramisu and there's no doubting that. Izumi was awesome but it's a la carte so plan to spend a little bit more above the $30 allotment. We skipped the dessert to keep the overage down and went to the Windjammer for some sweet treats instead. TIP: For those who said that the cover charge at Chops and Giovanni's allows you to order as much as you want, that is not the case. On this sailing, we were told that each additional main entree we selected was $10 more. Is it a new policy across the board or a new thing just on this ship? To be fair, we're not the type to eat "everything off the menu" but there was a dish or two we wouldn't have minded trying out between the two of us. BARS AND GAMBLING: As much as I would like to say I drank like a fish, I didn't. Sadly, I have a really poor alcohol absorbtion and, for that matter, we don't imbibe much so the drink packages would have been a losing situation for us. The house always wins so we skipped the casinos but if you want better odds, I'd say go to Royal Bingo! ENTERTAINMENT AND ACTIVITIES: One of our biggest concerns is the possibility of not having much to do during extended sea days as this is a repositioning cruise. I was wrong. At least, not with this particular sailing. The cruise director and his staff certainly put together a pretty comprehensive list of things to do and see for guests. There was even a three-part event called Great Debates where Steve, the CD, focused on serious topics to add a little reality check to your vacation like the issue of Death Penalty. TIP: With so much to do, I noticed that a lot of people, myself included, carried around a cruise compass along with a tablet or smartphone. On day 9, the lightbulb came on and I started taking a snapshot of the back page schedule so I didn't have to drag around that piece of paper. Duh! SERVICE: Without a doubt, the crew of any cruise ship works harder than anyone I am aware of on land. They work 12 hour shifts every day with minimal time off until they buckle that airplane seat belt on their way home. Waitstaff and housekeeping are tip-wage earners and we are happy to do auto-gratuities when we book a cruise. However, my biggest "concern" (I won't call it the other "c" word) was the hit and miss service. Hubby wasn't happy to learn on Day 2 that we were charged for two shore excursions we didn't sign up for and, though he let that slide, he was no longer willing to play after a second charge was added to our seapass account for the two dining packages that we had already paid for months ago. Finding two erroneous charges and the added inconvenience of dealing with it–not once but twice–in my opinion is a service issue. Unfortunately, neither guest services nor the C&A "Loyalty Ambassador" viewed it that way and offered us a bottle of wine a a "gesture of good will" which we declined. Also,during the first few days of sailing, it seemed that some of the staff were a bit sluggish and unengaged though I sensed a greater degree of effort on their part as the days went by. As much as we loved eating at the open-air dining area of the Windjammer, we had to finally give it up after the third day when we realized that the server assigned to that station hardly sought out guests to see if they needed anything else. Our cabin attendant, though friendly and brisk with his chores, made me want to ask someone if I could switch attendants with the other steward a few doors down whom I noticed wiped down the door knobs every day and carried a squeegee in his trolley. It certainly gave new meaning to RCL's current ad campaign, COME SEEK, because we had to actively look for the WOW, which we did. We just didn't expect to chase it. PORTS AND EXCURSIONS: We didn't partake of the ship excursions. However, these are what we did with our port stops: Oah'u - Since embarkation is out of Honolulu, we arrived a day early and rented a car, then headed to Pearl Harbor and visited the Arizona Memorial and Battleship Missouri in the morning. After checking in at the Coconut Waikiki for our night's stay, we walked down towards Waikiki Beach and strolled along Waikiki Drive before enjoying a relaxing dinner and Mai Tai at the Hula Girl Resturant inside the Outrigger Hotel. The following morning, we woke up and treated ourselves to an early 5am drive to Leonard's for malasadas! Maui - We rented a car and headed south towards Wailuku on a mission to find a place called Home Maid bakery that sells malasadas then looped our way past Kahului and back towards Lahaina. We stopped at Olowalu Beach to do a little snorkeling since we brought our gear with us. When we had our fill of that, we headed back and checked out Old Lahaina and picked up a few more souvies before tendering back on the ship for the night. At 2:30 the following morning, we took a tender back into town to pick up our rented car that we left in a paid lot and made our way to Haleakala Summit for the most worthwhile sunrise show. Kauai - Our port time here was curiously short (8am-3:30pm). And because we had to tender, it made it even more challenging to do much beyond the excursion that we had booked through Kauai Photo Tours. This was a fantastic tour and grateful to a Cruise Critic member for suggesting it. Our guide selected some camera-worthy locations that were off-the-beaten-path we would likely not have seen if we had selected a ship tour. Hawai'i - I admit that the Big Island is our favorite. Honolulu was a busy, urban area. Old Lahaina in Maui just felt kitschy to us. Everywhere in Kauai was beautiful but pretentious with its high-brow residents dotting the island. Kona seemed more low-key and mellow. It is also a great starting point for the Island. We actually did a 5-day pre-cruise stay here and toured much of the island in our rental car. We went on a snorkeling tour with Wahine Charters who took us south to the Captain James Cook Monument. The boat captain stopped midway to let us swim with dolphins nearby before heading towards Kealakekula Bay where we got up and close to the most amazing coral reef and incredible array of tropical fish. During our stay, we drove up to the Mauna Kea Visitor's Center, checked out the white, green, and black sand beaches of the Big Island, did an abbreviated tour of Volcanoes National Park (due to fog, rain, and limited visibility), ate most of our meals at L & L (a Hawaiian chain of restaurants featuring local favorites like kalua pork, macaroni salad, and spam misubi). You know what they say, "When in Rome..." TIP: if you have the room, bring your own snorkeling gear and a good underwater camera. It doesn't have to be a GoPro but you just can't expect a "waterproof" smartphone case to be truly waterproof as learned the hard way by some gals in our group who lost two iPhones as a result of using LifeProof cases. I use Watershot Splash camera housing and it has not failed me yet. It is specifically designed for use with iPhones for underwater snorkeling and diving use. ADDITIONAL TIPS AND SURPRISES: Go prepared. Taking that northbound Honolulu to Vancouver repositioning cruise was worthwile. It also gets cold if you plan to take a trip up to Mauna Kea or Mt. Haleakala. Since this is a Spring sailing, as the ship continues northbound, the temperatures also start to drop. Bring a lightweight but packable down jacket. Seriously. A pleasant surprise! If you have a celebration going on during your cruise, note it on your booking. Not only did I get a happy birthday song from our waiters but I came back to our stateroom one day to a gift certficate from the Spa for $50 off any service. NEXTCRUISE: We got past our hiccups and booked another cruise and took advantage of the NextCruise booking incentive. I overheard a couple say that the starting $50 OBC wasn't worth it. I disagree. We decided to defer using our OBC for the sailing we had chosen instead of using it during this cruise. There is a fine print, of course. But if you plan to cruise again, it is worth it. Sign up for an appointment early though. I noticed that the appointment book fills up fast. You can check current promotions and future sailings online for free before you talk to an agent. Just remember that if you choose to use your OBC at the time you book it on the ship and decide later that you want to cancel this NextCruise booking, you will lose your deposit. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2015
This was our first cruise and we flew from Heathrow, England, to join the ship in Vancouver. We had a delay in England and arrived in Vancouver 5 hours late although we were staying in a hotel overnight so we were ok. We joined Radiance ... Read More
This was our first cruise and we flew from Heathrow, England, to join the ship in Vancouver. We had a delay in England and arrived in Vancouver 5 hours late although we were staying in a hotel overnight so we were ok. We joined Radiance of the seas the following day and our initial experience was good. The interior suite was bigger than we thought it would be and was perfect. Plenty of room and comfortable. The ship was easy to find our way around as there were lifts and each floor had a plan . The staff were always happy and helpful. Our room was cleaned every day and the cleaner always asked if we needed anything or how everything was, after a couple of days he even knew our names. We had 6 days at sea and made lots of friends who we sat with every evening for our meals. Apart from the first day when we went to the Windjammer buffet restaurant we ate at Cascades for all our meals. It was waiter service and easier to watch what we ate. There was always a full program of activities or you can do your own thing. We thought the prices of drinks were steep at $10 a cocktail plus tax and $5 for decent coffee at Latitudes Starbucks. We were disappointed with the fact that there were no overnight stops in Hawaii as we sailed 6 pm every night out of the 5 days in Hawaii. We would have liked to have gone to a Luau and because Honolulu was our final stop and we had to fly home we weren't able to visit Pearl Harbor, 2 of the main things to visit Hawaii for. As for the ship it was amazing and we would definitely cruise again . The cleanliness and the food plus the facilities were second to none, and the staff amazing. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2015
Boarded the ship in Vancouver to sail to Hawaii and then do a back to back cruise to Sydney. Cabin was big enough, enough hanging space in the wardrobe and plenty of drawers. The bathroom was on the small side and if you dropped the soap, ... Read More
Boarded the ship in Vancouver to sail to Hawaii and then do a back to back cruise to Sydney. Cabin was big enough, enough hanging space in the wardrobe and plenty of drawers. The bathroom was on the small side and if you dropped the soap, you ended up with you backside out of the shower curtain and water spilling out on to the floor. The TV in our cabin was used to promote cruise deals and shore excursions. We would have loved to see a 'free' movie or two. You could purchase a movie for US$12 or go and see the movie of the day in the cinema. (Which by the way included Blue Hawaii and Breakfast at Tiffany's - come on!) Our Stateroom attendant was excellent, nothing was too much trouble and always had a smile. The waiters in the dining room were the same, always smiling and attending to the small things like topping up your water and wine, asking if you would like another bread roll etc. The food was very good in the dining room, but found the food in the buffet very salty, and did not find the experience very pleasant. Walking around with a plate to all the different stations to get some food was very off putting. Some of the waiters in some of the bars/lounges looked bored, while others were happy to interact with the passengers. The entertainment was so-so, not great but okay when you were desperate for entertainment. Some of the artists were pathetic especially on the Hawaii to Sydney cruise. When you have a lot of 'at sea' days, there should be more options for the passengers to choose from instead of 'vegetable carving' or 'towel folding' or 'cake decorating'. I personally found the shore excursions very expensive and in one case they should have paid us for getting on the old bus. I found lining up all the time to get on or off the ship very tiresome, but I understand we had to go through all the checks for our own safety. The Solarium was one of the places I frequented, especially as the air conditioning on the ship in a lot of places was freezing. (Yes, I ended up with a bad cold as did half of the ship) Disembarkation was a painful process, we were told an approximate disembarkation time but did not expect to be sitting around for an hour beyond that time. The drinks on board were very expensive and had the gratuity added automatically, but what I objected to, was on the Hawaii to Sydney cruise, the drinks went UP in price. When this was queried, we were told that as Australians don't normally like to tip, the tip was added which made the drinks more expensive. The gratuity was already added so they were adding another tip on top of that. I will tip for good service as will most Australians but we do not like to be forced into it. Use of the Internet was outrageously expensive. I doubt very much if I will ever cruise on the Royal Caribbean line again, I would prefer to go on the Princess line where they deal in Australian dollars and are more gracious. The cruising was very relaxing, the staff very helpful and happy, the food in the dining room was quite good, the entertainment left a bit to be desired. The balcony cabin was adequate. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2015
we did the 10 days from vancouver to Hawaii this fall. loved the 6 sea days. the staff on this ship are so attentive and personable. lots of fun activities. Steve the CD and Jeremy the AD were both a blast and planned a great trip for us. ... Read More
we did the 10 days from vancouver to Hawaii this fall. loved the 6 sea days. the staff on this ship are so attentive and personable. lots of fun activities. Steve the CD and Jeremy the AD were both a blast and planned a great trip for us. food was exceptional and the nightly shows were a good mix to make everyone happy. our favorite part was the sea days. just miles of blue water, sitting on deck, napping. forced relaxation. would definitely do this trip again. we are a lesbian couple and were concerned about how we would be treated, especially when i dressed in a tux for formal night. at all times we were treated with the best service and respect. highly recommend this cruise line for gay and lesbian travelers. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2015
As with any holiday it is the people that make it. Thanks to all of our Cruise Critic friends who helped make this an incredibly awesome 28 day trip. I would however not sail on the Radiance again. The ship itself is very tired looking and ... Read More
As with any holiday it is the people that make it. Thanks to all of our Cruise Critic friends who helped make this an incredibly awesome 28 day trip. I would however not sail on the Radiance again. The ship itself is very tired looking and everything cries for a spruce up, not only in public areas but the cabins as well. The washrooms were always a problem either in the common areas or our cabin. We were in two different ones and there were constant problems. We did not like the layout of the ship. It was very chopped up and other then the very crowded lobby bar no general meeting area. The food was good in the Windjammer but the egg and omelette station could be made bigger and more visible. Would it hurt to have a grill for hot dogs and hamburgers instead of the VERY old dried out ones that were offered. Also a toaster would be nice as opposed to hard dried out bread, bagels and English muffins. We ate most dinners in the main dining room as our server Ernesto and assistant Sandip were the best. We did not like the frequent menu substitutions. One night it was red snapper instead of Sea Bass, another dried out roast beef instead of strip steak. All of the food was extremely salty, especially the soups. We really enjoy soup before our meal but we stopped ordering it as not one had any flavor. The cream soups appeared to all have the same base with very little flavor. A few extras were added to make it the "soup of the day" Clear soups were just that - tasteless broth, sometimes with a bean or stalk of celery thrown in. Chef's table was AWFUL. The food was all served ice cold and the wine was very cheap Australian. We were with a group of 16 Cruise Critic friends and not one person enjoyed it. The worst part was when the chef asked how our meal was, and we told him, he never apologized but sort of shrugged and walked away. My husband complained directly to Wim, the food and beverage manager. The person from our group who organized it sent an email on our behalf and met with people in charge to try and get at least an apology. None ever came. Apparently a small group of them had their last night's dinner paid for, but most of us didn't even get a note. When we pay that much extra for a fine ding experience the quality should be superior. IT WAS NOT!!! Very poorly handled. We made some awesome friends and all in all had a good cruise. We will do Royal Caribbean again, but not on the Radiance. By the way would it be too much to put in washers and dryers? Other cruise lines do it and it makes life much easier then hand wash and waiting two days to dry, or sending it out and having it washed and dryed in too hot temperatures and everything shrunk and misshaped, like what happened to us. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2015
we stayed in Sydney the night before the cruise. I was amazed just hoe close to the pier we actually were. On the day of boarding we had plans to look around the rocks markets as we were told we couldn't board until our cabin level was ... Read More
we stayed in Sydney the night before the cruise. I was amazed just hoe close to the pier we actually were. On the day of boarding we had plans to look around the rocks markets as we were told we couldn't board until our cabin level was called which wasn't until about 15.00. We took our bags to the pier at about 11.30 and were suddenly whisked along with everyone else and ended up being on the ship by 12.30. We were quite happy with that. We went to see our cabin and found that they had put us 2 single women who had specifically asked for single beds into a double cabin. We were asked how we wanted the room planned and when we came back after lunch were happy to see the room had been rearranged exactly how we wanted it. For the next 5 day until Picton the weather was pretty rough. As for indoor activities there was not a lot to do. Only what they had planned for a normal day. They had a picture theatre that only held 40 people. If you didn't get there first you didn't see it until the afternoon and that was if you stood out front half the day. it was suggested on more than 1 occasion by many people that if they had played the move in the theatre a lot more people could have had something to do, or even had a few more screenings through the day.The service from all the staff i had to deal with was absolutely fantastic. Everyone we had to deal with was pleasant and polite. Our cabin steward was so happy and helpful. We had My Time Dining and found the food choices excellent and the wait staff very good. We also dined at a couple of the speciality restaurants where we found the food and the prices very good. The entertainment was not what i expected.They advertise that they have broadway like shows but through the whole 18 days all they had were singers, magician a hypnotist and a couple of comedians. Totally annoyed by that. Overall i enjoyed the cruise but i think 18 days is way to long especially with so many days at sea with bad weather and not much to do. The only real fault with the cruise was the fact that the public toilets were always not working or closed for repairs most of the time. Overall the ship and all the staff made for an exceptional Holiday. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2015
This was our third cruise on the Radiance. We had a very sociable and energetic Cruise Critics group which made for a most enjoyable cruise. Embarkation - Although passengers were given different boarding times depending on the deck ... Read More
This was our third cruise on the Radiance. We had a very sociable and energetic Cruise Critics group which made for a most enjoyable cruise. Embarkation - Although passengers were given different boarding times depending on the deck on which their cabin was situated, it seems that this was ignored by many passengers and certainly not enforced by RCCL. It took a little over an hour to embark but our luggage arrived without delay. Service - as usual, the staff were fantastic. We had excellent service from our dining room stewards and cabin steward, all of whom were anxious to please and could not do enough for us. We liked the way that care was taken to ensure that we were seated with the same waiters every night even though we had My Time Dining. Itinerary - We thoroughly enjoyed all the ports of call and the leisurely nature of the cruise and highly recommend it. We did not take any shore excursions organised by the ship, preferring to take the excursions organised by Cruise Critic members. Picton – we did a Marlborough winery tour which was most enjoyable ($65). Included was a visit to the Makana Chocolate Factory where we were able to sample and buy from their expensive but delicious range. We stopped for lunch at the Allan Scott Winery which was extra. Wellington – having visited Wellington before, we spent the day at the Te Papa Museum, where we took a tour for about $7 and then attended the Gallipoli Exhibition which was fabulous and highly recommended to anyone with an interest in World War 1 history. The exhibits were created by the Weta Workshop (which works in the film industry) and were incredibly life like. We were told that this exhibition will be open for 4 years. Papeete – we joined other Cruise Critics members at the Intercontinental Hotel (an inexpensive taxi trip away) where we purchased day passes which were 12,820 XPF (about $75) per person and included an excellent lunch. We spent the day swimming, enjoying the beautiful surroundings and sipping cocktails as the sun set. A magical experience. Moorea – is beautiful. We took one of Albert’s island tours again organized by a Cruise Critics member. I purchased some very reasonably priced Tahitian pearls in the local market. Bora Bora - was jaw droppingly gorgeous. We took Patrick’s tour, also organized by a Cruise Critic member, at a cost of about $125 per person, but worth every cent. We went on motorized outrigger canoes carrying about 12 people, first to an area which was about 4 1/2 feet deep, just inside the reef, to swim with reef sharks, sting rays and many tropical fish. Even non- swimmers were able to join in the fun here. Patrick’s staff were very attentive and took care to ensure that even the non- swimmers had an opportunity to touch a sting ray and observe the sharks. We then went to a coral garden where it was much deeper. We went to Patrick’s private motu for a Tahitian luau lunch which was very good. Patrick even performed a fire dance for us. The scenery on the way to and from the motu was wonderful. Everyone I spoke with said that this tour was the highlight of the trip and it is highly recommend to both swimmers and non- swimmers alike. We took our own snorkeling equipment and reef shoes. A word of warning – the washroom on the private motu was very rudimentary and the toilet didn’t flush most of the time and there was no running water for washing hands! Dining - Meals in the main dining room were nicely presented but, in our view, somewhat bland. Windjammer had many different types of food on offer, but was fairly repetitive. I enjoyed the breakfast buffet and the fact that you could have eggs cooked to order, but found the food at lunch time very average. We never had dinner there. Izumi and Giovanni’s were very good. Samba, whilst good, was not really to our taste - too much meat. We dined twice at Chops Grill. On the first occasion the steward mixed up my steak with the larger steak ordered by my husband; this was unsatisfactory since we prefer our steak cooked differently. On the second occasion we had a very nice dinner. Unfortunately Chef’s Table was disappointing. This is marketed as a premium experience, however, the food, whilst good, was served lukewarm and at least some of the wine was less than premium. No menu was provided until we requested it and we also had to request teaspoons with our coffee. Little things but we expected better. RCCL ultimately responded to the criticism in an appropriate manner for some of the group. However, it is unlikely that we will return. Murder Mystery Dinner at Giovanni’s - the food was good and hot, and it was an entertaining evening, however, in my view it is somewhat overpriced at $55 per person. We did not dine at Rita’s Crab Shack, the somewhat bizarre reincarnation of “Rita’s Cantina” and we did not observe or hear of anyone else who dined there either. The prices and the fact that it is partly open to the weather (which wasn’t favourable a lot of the time) may have deterred passengers. This and the hot dog café are both poorly utilized spaces. The Ship - Radiance is a beautiful ship and overall, it is clean and well maintained. However, I am sad to report that it is looking a little tired in some areas. We noticed the change between our first cruise on Radiance in 2011 and now. For example, some chairs were heavily stained and looked quite grotty, in particular in the Champagne Bar. Carpets need replacing in some areas and the cabins are looking a bit dated. We had a balcony cabin on Deck 7 which was pleasant and comfortable, but the balcony was not private because the “stripes” and frosting on the screen between our cabin and the next had deteriorated. Also, rust was visible on some superstructure visible from the balcony. Storage in both the cabin and bathroom is good even for a longer cruise. Others have commented on the tiny showers and sticky shower curtains! On every cruise we have noticed a few more cutbacks. Now dressing gowns are not provided, unless requested. Radiance has serious plumbing problems. Our toilet was not working on the first day and then intermittently after that. Two out of three public toilets were not working outside the main dining room for several days. It was a similar experience elsewhere on the ship. Cruisers need to be aware that the view from some of the balcony cabins on Deck 7 is limited by the canopy over the life boats below. This means that you cannot look down at the sea immediately below. We tried on several occasions before we left and upon embarkation to upgrade our cabin, but RCCL refused unless we paid about $1500 more, even though there had been a considerable price drop and we had paid many hundreds of dollars more than superior cabins were selling for at that time. RCCL should not discourage repeat clients from booking early and should apply the same more generous booking conditions to Australian passengers that are applicable to US passengers. We will consider booking with other cruise lines, which have more generous booking conditions to Australian passengers in future. Laundry - There is no self-service laundry facilities on board. Every 5 days or so passengers are given the opportunity to have a bag of washing done for USD30. This has increased from USD20 since our last cruise on the Radiance in 2013, which I think is a bit steep. This is a “wash and fold” service and does not include shirts, dresses etc. which are itemised separately. Entertainment - Unfortunately the first 9 days of the cruise were cold, windy, rough and often wet. The decks were sometimes closed. However, there was limited entertainment offered during the day. The evening entertainment was varied – some of it was very good and some of it not to our taste. The same “Broadway” type shows have been presented for many years now. It would be helpful if a list and time of the shows was published on RCCL’s website. There is already provision for this, but no information posted. This would assist passengers in making reservations for dinners. It is surprising that the “Broadway” type shows were not repeated on other nights of what was a long cruise. The “enrichment lectures” were non – existent with the exception of one or two given by volunteer passengers. The “health” presentations, held it seemed on a daily basis in Centrum, were a thinly disguised attempt to persuade passengers to part with their money for expensive spa treatments and products. I was impressed with RCCL’s recognition and commemoration of ANZAC Day (the Australian/NZ Memorial Day) and the 100th anniversary of the Gallipoli landings. The night before ANZAC day a red poppy was left on the pillow of passengers and both a dawn service and later service were attended by the ship’s officers and passengers. It seemed fitting that we should be commemorating the Gallipoli landings in a ceremony held at sea. RCCL made breakfast available in the Windjammer earlier than usual to accommodate those who attended the dawn service. Well done! Disembarkation – Guest Relations would not sell us transfers to the airport as we had a 12.30 domestic flight and they said that they could not guarantee that we would make the flight. So we had to carry our substantial luggage through US Customs and off the ship ourselves. We had no difficulty in getting a taxi and we made it to the airport by 8.00am! All in all, this was a very enjoyable cruise with beautiful ports and a great group of people, but Radiance deserves some money spent refurbishing her so that she shines once again. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2014

This cruise was very good overall. Embarking in Vancouver was a DISASTER (It took us 3 hours) but that was more the Port of Vancouver's fault than RCL. Our room was as expected... nothing more nothing less. Food in the main dining room ... Read More

This cruise was very good overall. Embarking in Vancouver was a DISASTER (It took us 3 hours) but that was more the Port of Vancouver's fault than RCL. Our room was as expected... nothing more nothing less. Food in the main dining room was not as good as normal. I'm not sure anybody at out table was wowed with more than 1 meal in the 11 we received. Oddly enough, though, food in the windjammer was better than normal. We always eat breakfasts up there, and are usually quite tired of the food up there within a week. This time, that didn't happen. Although the fare up there was typical, the quality of it was better. We did try Chops once... well worth it! The evening entertainment on this sailing was quite good. The cruise director and staff were the least friendly/charismatic we have seen, but the captain was the most friendly we have seen! There was a little less in daytime activities during the 5 sea days than I would have expected. Regarding the ship itself.... Rhapsody isn't the biggest and newest, but she is quite clean and has been upgraded recently.

All in all, the cruise was good, and I would not hesitate to do it again.

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3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2014
My wife and I did our second cruise on the Rhapsody. We wanted to do a cruise and Hawaii was the perfect place for a honeymoon. We got engaged just before our first cruise a year before on Majesty of the Seas. Flight into Vancouver was ... Read More
My wife and I did our second cruise on the Rhapsody. We wanted to do a cruise and Hawaii was the perfect place for a honeymoon. We got engaged just before our first cruise a year before on Majesty of the Seas. Flight into Vancouver was fine, the bus ride to the port was a little long but the driver did a good job of entertaining during the drive. Embarking took longer than expected as they stated we were leaving from an atypical pier. Once on the ship, i was worried the days at sea would get long, just the opposite. We had time to stay up late, sleep in, enjoy the room service, and just enjoy each others company. it was during this time that we found our favorite place on the ship (deck 5, promenade deck). We would grab some drinks, a book, or a deck of cards and just watch the sea go by. Occasionally a lonely whale or a few dolphins or flying fish would keep us company. One morning we woke up to watch the TV route tracker suddenly deviate from a straight line. Captain Hempstead later came overhead to say we had to deviate to assist a vessel in distress. This added to the joy of the cruise and a little excitement at sea with still keeping us on schedule (nice job RC!). We arrived at Lahina, Maui did a snorkeling excursion and went to Haleakala Park (Ty was our driver, he rocked). the two days. The next day we were at Hilo and did a tour of Volcanoes Nat'l park and saw the ne-ne geese. The following day we were at Kauai and went to Waimea canyon, it was beautiful. Bus AC broke but we managed. The last day was Honolulu. We got off the ship early and caught a cab to Pearl Harbor to get passes for the Arizona tour. As with all past cruises, the rooms have been good, the staff amazing, and the food great and always plentiful! We enjoy room service for an early morning or late night snack Read Less
Sail Date: September 2014

Originally we had booked the Sept. 2015 cruise to Hawaii, but it was cancelled and RCI was nice enough to give us a $400.00 OBC. So we decided to go early, Sept. 2014.

Flight

We booked all of the flight arrangements ... Read More

Originally we had booked the Sept. 2015 cruise to Hawaii, but it was cancelled and RCI was nice enough to give us a $400.00 OBC. So we decided to go early, Sept. 2014.

Flight

We booked all of the flight arrangements separately from RCI, mainly due to the fact that I like layovers of about 1.5 hours. Now we flew straight from LAX so it wouldn't have been a big deal. We took Air Canada and it was a smooth flight into Vancouver. We had heard that customs once you get off the plane can be rather long, but it took us 20 min. total to get our luggage and get through customs.

Travel to Embarkation

We decided to get the transfer service to make it easier with the luggage. After we got out of customs there were a couple of very nice ladies waiting for us and guided us to where we needed to be. We stood outside under the overhang for about 1/2 hour to wait on the bus which wasn't too bad considering we got there at 0945. My only gripe about this was the "smoke" smell in the area while we waited. The bus driver was nice enough, and comical at times; however, he drove us all the way through Vancouver. I'm not sure if there was a faster way to get to the port but it took us forever and I really didn't need a bus tour of Chinatown in Vancouver. The Rhapsody was not in the usual port, it was in a commercial port that clearly wasn't setup for passenger vessels. This is a major point of contention for me, especially since I have travelled out of Canaveral, Lauderdale, and Miami before where within a half hour your on the ship. They had us enter a building and start sepentining our way through the line. There was not RCI representative at that point, just port staff. it took us about an hour to get through that part to get through the security checkpoint. This was the first time we saw anyone from RCI. I had to grad an employee to tell them that we had suite tickets so I could bypass some of the line. In all it took us about 2 hours to get on the boat. I felt for some of the people, I heard that it took 4 hours to get on for some, in fact they were still getting people on when the the lifeboat drills were occurring at 1530.

Cabin 8502

Obviously, I had to pay the money to have a little more space. I have spoiled myself with suites in the past and it is hard to go back to some of the other categories. The wife and I like the separate spaces the the suites offer because she can go to bed early and I can stay up and watch tv or whatever and it doesn't bother her. The cabin is what you would expect of a OS cabin, all the nice amenities, even a bade in the bathroom. My wife is a fan of the jetted tub.

The room is large, it is on the starboard side of the ship right next to the royal suite on deck 8 in the forward part of the ship. It is very far forward that no one comes down your hallway, except the folks staying in the royal suite and the bridge crew, since the door to the bridge is about 30 feet from the cabin door.

Our only gripes about this room is that, (1) it is right over the Windjammer, so there is noise of rolling carts and of things dropping at different times of the day and night, and (2) there is this creaking and popping noises in the ceiling panels while the ship is at sea, and there seems to be something loose in the bulkhead between this suite and the Royal Suite....constant knocking.

Entertainment

The entertainment on this cruise was mediocre as it was all geared toward Hawaii and the Polynesian....Maybe I'm just spoiled with the Oasis and Freedom class type shows.

Activities

The activities on this cruise where pretty standard for what you would see on every RCI ship; however, there are like a total for 10 kids on this ship....mostly mid-late aged people...why the hell are they playing kids movies and cartoons on the big screen by the pool. It seems that the Cruise director or entertainment director didn't look at the age breakdown when planning this week. Also this was week one of the NFL season.....NO games, RCI needs to enter into a deal with NFL to cover games. The internet worked great on this cruise even when we were in the middle of nowhere in the North Pacific. I gladly pay the fee just to keep up with family and friends and occasional work emails that I am tracking.

Dining

I was somewhat disappointed on the dining except the specialty restaurants, Chops and Giovannis. The Windjammer food felt and tasted like cafeteria food with the exception of the made to order items. We Really like the new Park Cafe in the Solarium, for both breakfast and lunch options.

Staff

The suite attendant, Raj, was great. There are a lot of crew that were great that I either don't remember their name or never go it, but all were polite. I really like Captain Rob, he made himself available a number of occasions throughout the cruise.

Aid at Sea

On day 3, the Captain came on the overhead and stated that the Coast Guard had asked ROS to assist a boat. We veered off course approx. 30 miles to help this boat in distress, no biggie, gave them some fuel and sent them on their way, but I fell that the entire cruise liked that event.

In Conclusion

All in all, it was a cruise vacation to Hawaii......can't complain too much i suppose, I standby RCI as a cruise line and a product. I will be a Diamond member at the conclusion of this cruise, and I look forward to many more cruises and years with Royal Caribbean.

 

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