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225 Royal Caribbean Vancouver Cruise Reviews

We were amazed by our alaskan experience, Radience ship was excellent despite reviews from some other reviewers. Staff were friendly and courteous, quickly got to know us. Tours were very well organised and not too pricey- the ... Read More
We were amazed by our alaskan experience, Radience ship was excellent despite reviews from some other reviewers. Staff were friendly and courteous, quickly got to know us. Tours were very well organised and not too pricey- the Mendenhall glacier is a must! Hubbard was spectacular and the captain got the ship very close. Spa was excellent value for money with plenty of special offers Would recommend booking the train transfer to Seward, it's like another excursion and only 25 dollars extra if you have booked transport by bus to anchorage. We were at a table for 10 and with great people, including chuck Bertrand the guest canadian mount speaker who was knowledgeable and highly entertaining, go to his talks if you get the chance. Dinner portions are not huge but with all you can eat at the windjammer for lunch and breakfast we found dinner was just fine. Can't wait to go back, well done rccl Read Less
Sail Date June 2012
Radiance of the Seas in Alaska N&S: Long review, photo link, what to pack, and port options. I took back to back Alaska cruises on the Radiance of the Seas (northbound and southbound) in late June and early July, 2012, hoping that ... Read More
Radiance of the Seas in Alaska N&S: Long review, photo link, what to pack, and port options. I took back to back Alaska cruises on the Radiance of the Seas (northbound and southbound) in late June and early July, 2012, hoping that at least one of the cruises would have good weather in one of the rainiest parts of America. More about that later.... These were my second and third cruises with Royal Caribbean International, and I was very pleased with RCI and the Radiance in every respect: ship, crew, activities, shore excursions, dining, price, and ports of call. I shall describe each of them in that order and add suggestions on what to pack for Alaska's weather. SHIP: The Radiance is not a new ship (it is about 10 years old), but it is ideal for Alaska cruising because almost every lounge and dining venue has floor to ceiling windows, which afford great views of the Inside Passage. Even the elevators have glass walls, some toward the atrium and some toward the outdoors. Much has been said about the recent makeover of the ship. To me it seems that most of the investment was devoted to new revenue-producing alternative dining venues -- there were half a dozen, putting the dining options on par with much larger ships. Photos of most of these new venues are included in my photo link, which follows later. I worried that the new Jumbotron over the pool would just add more noise to an area that I prefer quiet, but on the one day that it was warm enough for an outdoor movie, it was actually fun to watch. Less appears to have been invested in the cabins, which are still pleasant even though the carpeting, upholstery, and cabinetry do not appear to be new. There are new flat screen TVs, but I never could find the interactive capability that is advertised. At best the interactive menu offered canned info about various ship venues and services that one could read in any brochure. Some day I hope their interactive TV system allows one to review one's shipboard account, order room service, review menus and wine lists of the day, reserve tables and tours, select background music of various genres, log on to the internet, etc. None of this was available when I tried the interactive menu multiple times over two weeks. On the northbound cruise I was given an accessible inside cabin since no other inside was left. This is well-designed for wheelchair users, and I have included photos of it in my link. Basically it is two standard cabins joined together to allow adequate space for a wheel-in shower and for electric carts to turn full circle between bed, couch, and closet. On the southbound cruise I was upgraded to a standard outside, which seemed snug in comparison but was functional and comfortable. Both of my cabins were near the forward elevators. Be aware that cabins near the central atrium may get noise from the many activities that occur there, and that top deck balcony cabins midship and aft are shaded by the large pool and buffet overhangs. One minor annoyance is that each cabin has a mini-bar which cannot be locked, sealed, or even emptied (I requested this multiple times to multiple people, but it never happened). This means that one may find an erroneous mini-bar charge on one's account on the last day when one hoped to disembark early rather than wait at guest services (as happened to me). Hopefully RCI will give guests, especially those traveling with young children, the option to have the mini-bar locked or emptied. There are parental controls on the TV, why not on the mini-bars? There are new interactive touch screen TVs near the elevators to check activity schedules and find venues. These worked well. The public areas are quite pleasant, and except for the central shopping area they never seemed crowded. The Radiance is smaller than the newer RCI ships, which have expanded the central atrium into a wide shopping mall (some are even open air in the largest ships). I was quite pleased with the size of the Radiance, and found it ideal for the Alaskan itinerary. My favorite semi-public area is the Diamond Lounge located in the (iconic for RCI) glass-walled and circular deck 13, above and aft of the outdoor pool. A portion of the adjacent Starquest lounge has been partitioned off for the use of frequent cruisers who have RCI diamond status or higher (I qualified due to reciprocity with my status on Celebrity, RCI's sister cruise line). The Diamond Lounge was my daily refuge at sea for several reasons: there is no Muzak (I consider other peoples' lounge and dining music as annoying as secondhand smoke); there is a nice continental breakfast each morning; there are free house brand drinks with elegant hors d'oeuvres each evening; the views are spectacular; and the concierge Andrew does a fine job making everyone feel welcome. Be aware that RCI is explicit in limiting use to diamond members and not their friends and relatives, which seems appropriate since the lounge is relatively small and is inappropriate for children. A similar but larger lounge is aft on the same deck for passengers in Concierge Club cabins. Although most of the itinerary is in protected waters, crossing the Gulf of Alaska occasionally can be a little rough. At the most we had mild 4-5 ft (1.5m) swells and the Radiance made it feel as smooth as glass. CREW: The crew is a good mix of nationalities, with many from India (especially Goa), the Philippines, and Indonesia. They all do a wonderful job, from cabin stewards to dining and bar servers to the many workers behind the scenes who keep the Radiance shipshape. This was the first time on any cruise where I saw a cadre of crew members with shoulder bags throughout the ship. They continually check that everything is spotless, and they carry cleaning supplies in their bags in case it is not. I was amazed that the crew addressed me by name frequently, even more often than I have experienced on luxury cruise ships. I do not know how they do it, but it certainly makes one feel a welcome member of the RCI family. I heard the crew addressing other guests by name similarly. Because I opted for My Time dining, my crew gratuities were pre-paid. This is problematic if one wants to add additional amounts to the gratuities of the dining staff, which rotates daily as one changes tables. On this cruise I learned from the captain's Q&A session on the last day (which I highly recommend) that there is a general crew welfare fund, which is funded by recycling profits and other revenues. I was able to add extra gratuities to that fund for the benefit of all the crew members who are not otherwise recognized by the passengers. The current Radiance captain (Sindre) is Norwegian and shows more empathy for the crew (and passengers) than most captains. He is at least tri-lingual (since he now lives in Spain), and he has a pleasant sense of humor and a genial personality. He is relatively young, and I hope his physical health does not prevent many more years of sailing. I enjoyed his noon announcements and always chuckled when he greeted us as "Ladies and gentlemen, guests and crew". I also chuckled when he reminded us on each rainy day that there is no bad weather, just inadequate clothing (true, but he himself moved from frigid Norway to sunny Spain). The cruise director northbound was Paul and southbound was Dennis. Both did a fine job at what must be a most difficult task -- remaining upbeat and engaged almost non-stop around the clock, even though they have seen all the shows and activities and ports dozens of times before. My hat is off to both of them. I was also impressed by the photo staff, who are low key and skillful. As part of my diamond package I received a free 8x10 photo on each cruise, and both were top notch. It must not be easy to dress up as animals for dockside photos with families, but they took it all in stride. ACTIVITIES: The daily Compass lists numerous activities, but in Alaska I spent so much time and energy on land that I did not participate frequently onboard. The Radiance is large enough for a climbing wall, mini-golf, a ball court, an indoor (adult) and well-heated outdoor (family) pool, and many other venues. There were quite a few children onboard, but their own activities and programs kept them busy so that the ship never seemed over-run with kids. Their parents probably appreciated this even more than I did. The only negative I heard from parents is that the curfew for unaccompanied children of all ages is 1:00 am. Some felt that this should be earlier and age dependent. I especially enjoyed the gym because the equipment was arrayed along floor to ceiling windows, which afforded beautiful views while one exercised. James, the trainer, did a nice job providing (free) stretch and abs classes early each morning, in addition to the usual fee activities of the gym and spa. Keep in mind that the spa's saunas, steam rooms, and showers are free to all guests, and are a great way to warm up after a cold and wet day ashore or on deck. EXCURSIONS: Shore excursions are a major factor (and can be a major cost) on any Alaska cruise. I was surprised how much these have increased in price since my previous Alaska cruises. Most excursions now range from $100-$300 per person, and some are even more expensive. Flight-seeing, whale and bear watching, and sport fishing are so attractive in Alaska that one can easily spend more on excursions than on the cruise itself. For an entire family this can add up quickly, and travelers should factor this cost into their vacation planning in advance. The RCI website should help with this. Fellow passengers seemed pleased with their excursions, but I did not purchase any excursions on either cruise. I did my own research and enjoyed my own port visits without the help of any local guides or tour companies. One benefit was that I was not locked into an excursion during bad weather. I shall give my suggestions for low cost and no cost excursions in my port options section at the end of this review. DINING: In spite of the numerous new alternative (surcharged) dining venues, I did not try any because I was very happy with the buffet at breakfast, the Bistro30 salad bar (in the main dining room) at lunch on sea days, and the regular menu in the main dining room each evening. Shipboard buffets are always good at breakfast (especially the fresh fruit and crispy bacon), but at lunch buffets I tend to avoid the steam table options (which are necessarily over-cooked) and enjoy the cold items instead. When eating in the Windjammer buffet, seating can be at a premium because much of the former space has been taken up by the new alternative Mexican and Asian restaurants. The good news is that both of these venues are unused and available for buffet seating during breakfast and lunch. Izumi, the beautiful new Asian restaurant, is especially quiet and pleasant at those times, with huge windows and outdoor access. On sea days (two in each direction) the main dining room is converted into a bistro which promises lunch in 30 minutes or less. On RCI this features the best salad bar on land or sea. The salad choices are extensive and are prepared individually, just make certain that your salad is not over-dressed or chopped up by the eager chefs. The main dining room is quite attractive and the service is excellent. The menu is nearly identical to that which I experienced on my first RCI (transatlantic) cruise two months earlier. Appetizers, soups, and salads are all clustered in one section of the menu rather than being presented as separate courses. The main courses vary each night, with the same four off-menu alternatives and three surcharged alternatives each night. Although the off-menu sirloin steak is flavorful but a bit tough, the other beef dishes are tender and appropriately rare on request. The fish and shellfish were always cooked to perfection, although salmon was not a nightly alternative choice as it had been on my previous RCI cruise. There is no rack of lamb (no surprise considering the cost), but the lamb shank and venison are slow-cooked to tenderness. I did not sample the pork or poultry since I have those so often at home. I usually asked for extra vegetables instead of potatoes or rice, which the waiters did without hesitation. After all my hiking and occasional skipped desserts, I did not gain any weight on these two cruises. Yes, it can be done! I found that with My Time dining it was easy to get a table early (6pm) or late (8pm), but more crowded between those times. I enjoy sharing tables and meeting new friends, but the maitre d' also gave me a table for two when I requested it. I am surprised that some passengers try to turn My Time into My Table dining and expect to have the same table, time slot, and waiter every night. This seems to defeat the purpose of open dining and seems unfair to other passengers who may also want scarce tables for two. My recommendation is to avoid the few tables for ten (unless you are traveling with a group that size). These are too large for quiet conversation and are too slow to fill and serve (guests may arrive after others have started, and one in ten guests always seems to want double courses). PRICE: I am a solo traveler, and this year I have found that RCI usually offers me the best combination of high quality and good value for the itineraries I want. My previously favored cruise lines start their seasons with high prices and may drop them to RCI levels a few weeks before departure if they have excess inventory, but by then it is too late for decent airfares. In addition, RCI is one of the few mainstream cruise lines which offers a break (less than 200% cost) to solo cruisers. My previously favored cruise lines usually offer special rates only to double occupancy cruisers, making the solo rate as much as 300-400% of the double occupancy rate. Each of my RCI Alaska cruises cost me less than 1,000 USD including all taxes, fees, and pre-paid gratuities, for a large accessible inside double cabin northbound and a standard outside double cabin southbound. These prices were far enough in advance that I was able to use my frequent flier miles for one of those elusive "free" airfares. For Alaska in peak season, I think that solo cruise fare is a deal. WHAT TO PACK FOR ALASKA: As I hinted at the beginning, the weather on both cruises was wet and cold, with only one sunny day (the last) on each cruise. Daytime temperatures were often in the 50's F (low teens C) and nighttime in the 40's (high single digits C). This was the coldest and wettest Alaskan cruise I have experienced, even though it was high summer and the lower 48 states were experiencing heat waves and droughts. I always travel (even on cruises) with just an airline carry-on. However, for Alaska I needed a small piggyback bag for my hiking gear. In addition to the usual dark suit (which doubles as a sport jacket), light wool sweater (smart casual), one pair of wash slacks (smart casual), one pair of nylon gym slacks, three shirts, two T-shirts, three sets of underwear, black shoes and sport sandals, for this trip I recommend a good quality gore-tex rain suit (which doubles as a windbreaker and hiking pants), a fleece jacket, a fleece or wool cap, an optional dacron or down-filled vest, and lightweight hiking boots with vibram soles (wet rocks are slippery). Dress in layers and take a day pack to carry water, snacks, and extra clothes in case the weather changes. A small folding umbrella can be useful in port for light drizzle. When we married, I promised my wife I would take her anywhere in the world she wanted to go as long as we each traveled with a carry-on only. We did it for many years (including many cruises) and never regretted our lightweight travel style. Although I cannot tell ladies exactly what to take, I know it can be done with just a carry-on and occasionally a small piggyback bag. Remember, people are more interested in how they themselves look than in what you are wearing. PHOTOS: The following link will give you an idea what the renovated Radiance looks like and what the ports of call offer. https://picasaweb.google.com/efschlenk/AlbumAlaskaJune2012?authkey=Gv1sRgCI-dm__xn7j9cQ# Click on the link (or copy and paste it in your browser window) and then thumbnail photos will appear. If you get a "stack overload" message (there are lots of photos), just keeping closing it until it goes away. Then click on the "slideshow" option in the upper left. Wiggle your mouse to access the control panel (pause, set speed, etc.). The photos are degraded to save internet file space, but they are still enjoyable. PORTS OF CALL: I recommend using the Lonely Planet Alaska guide (available at your library) for sightseeing and hiking tips, and for town maps. All of the ports of call on this itinerary are picturesque small towns with beautiful hikes nearby. (Icy Strait is an exception, since the prevalence of coastal brown bears means there is no hiking away from the sidewalk which connects the port and the town.) Some ports have excellent public buses which can take you on cheap excursions. I shall tell you about those also. In addition to the excursions offered onboard, every port has a dockside visitor center with maps and local tourist information, and independent tour operators await you at most ports. Most are on the internet and can be reserved in advance. I have no experience with them, but this website has reviews of many of them. If the price of onboard internet service gets you down (fortunately, diamond cruisers get 30 minutes of free internet), the libraries in some ports offer free internet access. Juneau is especially convenient in this regard, since the library is on the top of a parking structure next to the dock, and it has a dozen free terminals. VANCOUVER: Vancouver is a beautiful city, well worth an extra day or two before or after your cruise. The Skytrain (Canada line) links the airport with the downtown in only 30 minutes. A transport day pass ($9 adult, $7 senior) includes the Skytrain, all city buses, and the harbor ferry. The always friendly bus drivers usually have a schedule booklet, which includes a route map. The Skytrain operates from about 5am to midnight. If you arrive outside these times, a taxi from the airport to downtown costs about $35 plus tip. The best budget hotel in central Vancouver is the Kingston Hotel, a euro-style inn with a sink in each room and showers and toilets down the hall. Terry bathrobes and disposable slippers are included with each room. The Kingston is only two blocks from the Vancouver Central Skytrain station, and is in a very safe central business neighborhood. From the Kingston Hotel it is a 10 minute walk (or short taxi ride) to Canada Place, the cruise terminal. Enter the terminal by the sidewalk next to the underground parking entry, then follow the signs. Be aware, however, that construction is going on adjacent to the hotel, with work lasting from about 8am to 5pm. Those are the times I was away sightseeing, and the nights were quiet. My small but convenient single cost $65 plus tax per night, a bargain for central Vancouver. From the Kingston Hotel the new Vancouver Public Library, which looks like a modern take on the Roman colosseum, is only two blocks east. It offers free internet (ask for a temporary library card) and a variety of lectures and programs. From downtown I recommend taking bus #19 west on Pender St. to Stanley Park. The views back to the city are beautiful, and the forest walks and rose garden are pleasant. Buses #19 or #22 eastbound on Pender St. will take you the short distance to Chinatown, for cheap dim sum and fun shopping. Between Chinatown and downtown is Gastown, the renovated historic district. Across the bay from downtown on bus #50 southbound via Granville St. is Granville Island, an artsy area with a nice farmers market. Go there in the morning, because the afternoons tend to get crowded. Near the island you can transfer to bus #44 or #84 westbound on 4th Ave. to the U of BC campus, where you will find the wonderful Museum of Anthropology, which has a beautiful collection of NW native art. Ask the bus driver to drop you nearest the museum and walk the several extra blocks. From the museum, the Nitobe Japanese Garden is a short walk and a pleasant zen-like interlude. The ticket office at either can tell you where and when to catch the shuttle back to the campus bus terminus. Your transport pass includes the Seabus ferry north across the Burrard Inlet, but it is enclosed and not good for photos of the city. You get better skyline views from the cruise ship. KETCHIKAN: Ketchikan is the southernmost and rainiest of Alaska's cruise ports. It receives about 13 ft (4m) of rain each year. If it is sunny, you are lucky. Avid hikers will enjoy the 3,000 ft (1,000m) high, 3 mile long climb up Deer Mountain, with nice viewpoints over the Inside Passage near the one and two mile markers. The trailhead is at the southeast edge of town -- any local can direct you. On the way there you can walk along Creek Street, the old brothel district which is now a tourist shopping area. Alternately, buy a bus day pass for only $2 for unlimited rides on any or all of the town's three bus lines. One heads north to Totem Bight State Park (highly recommended and free), one covers the downtown, and the third heads south to Saxman Village (closer but not as nice as the Bight). Each bus runs once an hour, and they depart at 20 minute intervals for maximal overlap. All stop at the Wal-Mart north of town. The northbound bus gives you an hour at the park until the next bus arrives. You can leave the southbound bus on the highway at Saxman Village, walk up the hill past the totem poles, and catch it 10 minutes later in front of the clan house as the bus returns to town. A bus map and schedule is available on the internet and at the dockside tourist info center. The info center also loans free GPS rescue alarms to carry if you are doing serious hiking. ICY STRAIT (Hoonah): This is a made-for-cruisers tender port which offers an old cannery skillfully converted into a museum and tour hub. The small native village is a 20 minute walk away on the newly completed cement sidewalk (wheelchair friendly, or take the inexpensive shuttle bus). There is not much to do at either the cannery or in town, although it is nice to get a feeling for life in an Alaskan fishing village. Near the school is a windowless storage building that houses the local tribe's new totem poles and clan house facade. The carvers will be happy to give you a brief talk about the meaning of the carved symbols and the tribe's history in the area. Farther across town is the small boat harbor, which was ringed by bald eagles (more than a dozen) when I was there. Unfortunately there is no hiking into the interior of the island because of the many coastal brown bears. Most cruisers use this port for tours and excursions, both from RCI and from independent operators (reviewed on the internet). Whale and bear watchers had a good time here, and zip-liners were awed by the mile-long, 300 ft (100m) above-the-forest-canopy descent on cables. On the northbound cruise the top of the zip-line was in the clouds. There is a nice restaurant patio at the base station for friends and family to watch and photograph the descent, and nearby is a short but pleasant nature walk. This is the only tender port, but the crew is very good with mobility-impaired passengers. JUNEAU: Juneau is the state capital and the largest port on the itinerary. As I mentioned before, the public library is near the cruise dock and offers free internet access. From Juneau one can take the public bus for $1.50 northbound toward the Mendenhall Lake and Glacier, but it is an extra 30 minute walk from the public bus stop to the eastside visitor center or westside trailhead, and public buses leave only hourly. An $8 shuttle bus is available from the cruise dock directly to the glacier visitor center, where there are several short hikes and nice views. An easy trail which leaves from the north end of town (follow dockside Franklin St. up hill to its end and then dogleg east and north) is the Perseverance Trail. This is a well-maintained dirt road then trail which follows Gold Creek past a mining museum up into the valley. There is minimal altitude gain over the three miles, with nice mountain views and waterfalls along the way. The locals use this as a jogging path on week-ends. A more challenging trail leaves town and traverses up Mt. Roberts. I have not taken this trail in many years and do not know its current condition. A tramway ($30 round trip) goes part way up Mt. Roberts directly from the dockside, and offers back country trails (and shopping) at the upper station. Also in Juneau are several small museums that one can read about in guidebooks or on the internet. As usual, private tour operators meet the ships at the dock, and the visitor centers are very helpful. SKAGWAY: Skagway was the start of the old Yukon Trail in 1898 gold rush days, and it is now the most picturesque port because it is preserved by the National Park Service as a historic district. Most cruisers opt for a ride on the old Yukon railway (now mostly pulled by diesel engines, with a few steam engines by request). Tours go to the top of the pass (take your passport for all train rides an most bus tours, since the Yukon Territory is in Canada). Alternately, one can purchase individual train tickets for the 8am departure for the Denver Glacier trailhead (at the 5 mile marker, $32) or the Laughton Glacier trailhead (at the 12 mile marker, $67). On this cruise I opted for the latter since it is a well-maintained trail through the forest and then an easy scramble up the riverbed for awesome views of the hanging glacier. One can walk on the lower glacier, but I chose not to since I was hiking without ice gear or guide. Both Denver and Laughton are also available as guided hikes from the cruise ship. Make certain that you are back to the trailhead in time for the return train, usually at 315pm. In high season this independent hikers shuttle is not available on the northbound cruise (Wednesday is considered too busy with tour groups), but is available on the southbound cruise (Monday). For short and easy hikes with nice views I recommend the Lower Dewey Lake trail which leaves town across the tracks from east 2nd Street, or the Yakutania Point and Smugglers Cove trail which leaves town from west 1st Street past the small airport and over the bridge. In town the building covered with driftwood is the local hiking center. They have free maps and good trail information. HUBBARD GLACIER: Viewing the glacier and all of Yakutat Bay from the ship is the high point of the cruise. One can watch from inside, but this is an experience of a lifetime best appreciated from the open decks. The forward and port side decks offer the best views, and the heliport (climb the stairs from deck 5 under the lifeboats to deck 6 forward) is open for all who want to watch from the bow. Dress warmly and take your rain gear because you will be there for several hours, surrounded by small icebergs and chilling winds. SEWARD: Seward is worth a day-long visit in good weather for either of two reasons: Exit Glacier National Park or Kenai Fjords National Park. The former is accessible by $10 RT shuttle bus through Exit Glacier Guides downtown (about 20 minutes walk from the cruise ship, check their web site for schedules and details). From the park one can easily walk to the toe of the glacier and/or hike up the Harding Icefield trail for beautiful views looking down on the glacier and across the huge icefields above the glacier. The upper portion of this trail still had snow in early July, so hiking poles or an ice axe to arrest a slide are recommended. Rangers also give several free guided walks during the day. The Kenai Fjords National Park is accessible only by boat, and tour operators downtown offer several options. In good weather these boat tours give incredible wildlife and glacier views. I have not been on one in several years, but I highly recommend this option if one has the time and money and good weather. Check the internet for schedules and prices. PHOTOS: Again, the following link will give you an idea what the renovated Radiance looks like and what the ports of call offer. https://picasaweb.google.com/efschlenk/AlbumAlaskaJune2012?authkey=Gv1sRgCI-dm__xn7j9cQ# Click on the link (or copy and paste it in your browser window) and then thumbnail photos will appear. If you get a "stack overload" message (there are lots of photos), just keeping closing it until it goes away. Then click on the "slideshow" option in the upper left. Wiggle your mouse to access the control panel (pause, set speed, etc.). The photos are degraded to save internet file space, but they are still enjoyable. ENJOY YOUR ALASKA CRUISE -- IT IS ONE OF THE BEST ITINERARIES IN THE WORLD AND THE RADIANCE IS A VERY GOOD WAY TO ENJOY IT! Read Less
Sail Date June 2012
Great cruise! Capt Svender and his crew are amazing. In typical Royal Caribbean fashion, all of the crew went out of their way to take care of us and tried to honor every wish. The dining staff (waiter Cynthia and asst. waiter Marshall) ... Read More
Great cruise! Capt Svender and his crew are amazing. In typical Royal Caribbean fashion, all of the crew went out of their way to take care of us and tried to honor every wish. The dining staff (waiter Cynthia and asst. waiter Marshall) were some of the best we've ever had! Merrick (maitre'd) and David (our head waiter) arranged a few specialty dishes at our request. Chef Sateesh makes some amazing dishes...the souffle and risotto were superb...according to the chef traveling in our party! Cabin staff (Edward from Philippines) was exceptional, the bar staff as well. On an Alaskan cruise, where it can be a bit chilly, we spent lovely relaxing times in the Starquest Lounge on Deck 13 watching whales, dolphins and sea lions. The Solarium was another favorite spot for viewing and staying warm. Thanks Edguardo and Vinnie! RCCL has upgraded the Radiance, changing and adding some specialty dining venues. Rita's Cantina, Izumi and Samba Grill (add'l chg) were added as well as the DogHouse and Park Cafe (no extra chg). Although we did not use any of them for dinner, we heard good comments from guests who did. We did take advantage of the Park Cafe in the Solarium...a concept taken from the Oasis of the Seas. It provided great salads and sandwiches without having to go to the Windjammer. Speaking of which...food was good as usual, with a great selection. The only thing that was not great was the embarkation in Vancouver. They were loading two ships through one security checkpoint, so it took longer than usual. But once you get past security and in line for your ship, it goes smoothly and quickly. Best to arrive at the port early rather than later because of this. (we arrived at about 1pm). Disembarkation in Seward was seamless and we had no problem there. Ports: Ketchikan and Skagway are great for shopping or souvenirs. Try the halibut pizza at the Misty Bay Lodge in Icy Strait Point. Excursions (from past & present experience)... Whale watch in Icy Strait; do the Glacier Trek/helicopter to Mendenhall Glacier in Juneau, and do the White Pass Railway train ride in Skagway. All amazing! Hubbard Glacier---beautiful!!! Capt Svender was able to get us to within 200-300 yards from the glacier face. The view from the deck is great, but if you have a balcony cabin, view it from there...without the noise from the crowds, you can hear the "white thunder" as the glacier would calve....absolutely amazing! Now awaiting our train ride from Seward to Anchorage on the Alaska Railroad and excited about seeing glaciers and moose! Read Less
Sail Date May 2012
This was our second trip to Alaska, but we were especially interested in seeing the changes to Radiance since cruising on-board her in the Caribbean last April. Also of note, we travelled with a 7 month old baby for the first time (more ... Read More
This was our second trip to Alaska, but we were especially interested in seeing the changes to Radiance since cruising on-board her in the Caribbean last April. Also of note, we travelled with a 7 month old baby for the first time (more on that later). We flew into Vancouver a day early and stayed at the Blue Horizon Hotel. With five family members and more bags than I can count, an airport limo was an economical and a fun way to start the trip. We stepped right into the car at the terminal entrance. The hotel was very nice with a convenience store just up the street if anything was forgotten. On cruise day, three adults took a 3 hour tour that started at the hotel and ended at the terminal with our luggage. The baby and I hung out at the hotel, then simply walked 15 minutes to the terminal. Embarkation was smooth. Long line, but nothing different from other trips. The ship was amazing. The updates added to the beauty and functionality of the vessel. The improved food service at the Solarium offered a nice alternative to the Windjammer. We sampled the sushi and hot dog options, but didn't go to the other new places. Our fellow passengers offered good reviews. Food was standard RC fare. Some meals were better than others, but no problems finding something tasty. The passenger demographic was heavily Asian, and it felt like there were more Asian/Indian options in the Windjammer than normal. That made selecting what to eat even more fun. We ate one evening meal in the Windjammer enjoying excellent cooked-to-order salmon and chocolate covered strawberries. For other nights we did My Time dining. Great service as usual. Making reservations online from home was a good move. Some folks who waited until on-board could not get their desired seating. Walk up seating during peak hours was clearly seldom available. The crew was very nice and worked to keep everyone happy. They quickly provided anything we asked for. Our cabin, 7066, had the view obstructed by the window cleaning platform. That was a downer, but having the adjoining room for the grandparents was a plus. When the attendant needed to clean one room, we just slipped over to the other and vice versa. Maria, our attendant, did a good job. This was our first Diamond level trip. The new lounge was incredible. Amazing views with comfort and great service. The Diamond Lounge is now a selling point for us on future cruise choices. Ports were great even with marginal weather. Whale watching in Icy Straight via RC (bad weather, otherwise boat and crew great). Whale watching in Juneau with Orca Enterprises (highly recommended, crew and boat great, lots of whales). Flight seeing in Ketchikan with Island Wings (breathtaking, words can't describe). Hubbard Glacier was fabulous. My main comment on ports is that debarkation became more difficult later in the day. There were long lines at security mainly due to passengers not removing cell phones and the like before going through the metal detectors. You could get off, but had to go against the flow of people coming on at both gangways. One day I wandered the ship trying to figure out how/where to get off until I ran into a crewman also leaving. Better signage or instructions would have been helpful, especially when rising tides forced a change of embark/debark deck. There were problems with debarkation in Vancouver. A broken crane delayed luggage offload from half the ship. Bags were organized into debarkation groups as they could be collected instead of in sequence. We ultimately debarked over an hour late, but ahead of other numbers(lucky for us). The terminal was packed with passengers from two ships. The RC staff worked hard to shepherd folks through, but the Canadian Customs line was quite long. Once out of the terminal, we were whisked to the taxi pick up. Of note--no more than 3 folks per cab in Vancouver. The driver did take US currency. As we escaped early, there was no line at the airport. We splurged and used a porter. This expedited us further because he helped with shortcuts. Later arrivals reported the terminal became quite crowded. We made our 12:25 flight with an hour to spare, but might opt for a later time in the future just in case. Comments about traveling with an infant-- I thought I was crazy doing it, but am sure glad I did. The crew was incredibly supportive of family needs. Most had little ones of their own at home, so they doted on our son. We made lots of messes and required a little more space at dinner, but they helped us out always with a smile. We didn't use the nursery services, but did take advantage of open play time. The new nursery is well designed and fun. There were lots of new toys to try. This was a great amenity for us. If you are considering traveling with a baby, it takes a lot of work and bags, but it can still be loads of fun. Overall-Another great experience from Royal Caribbean. Read Less
Sail Date May 2012
This was my fifth cruise, and first ever on my own. I'd booked a balcony cabin for my sister and I, and she couldn't get away from her new job, so I elected to pay the difference and go anyway, since I had the vacation time all ... Read More
This was my fifth cruise, and first ever on my own. I'd booked a balcony cabin for my sister and I, and she couldn't get away from her new job, so I elected to pay the difference and go anyway, since I had the vacation time all set. What a great decision! My apprehension about cruising on my own was alleviated the first night, when I met the gang at the dinner table, more on that later. I'll get all the negatives out of the way first (not many), and it's all praise after that. Flew into Vancouver from LAX, flight delayed 45 minutes due to Air Force One takeoff, which we watched from the plane! Vancouver customs was a zoo, thanks to embarkation of 4 ships that day from Canada Place, and planes full of cruisers all coming in at the same time, two of which were Royal Carribbean. Out of customs and onto RCC buses for the slow but interesting journey to the dock. Again a long, long process through security and American customs to get to the cruise checkin. Once at the RCC checkin, all went smoothly, but all the ships sailed somewhat late, including ours. Better traffic management by the dock itself would have helped, it was 4 hours of waiting in lines. Cabin was lovely, spacious, lots of storage, new decor, no glitches there. Cabin attendant very personable and helpful and his service was perfect. Plenty of options on the flat-screen TV, including free movies, CBS, CNN and a few others. $11.99 per on-demand movie, they need to drop that to about $5 to get a better takeup rate. Wireless rate of $150 for 500 minutes, expensive but bought it, it worked well and I used it all up with my iPAD. Explored the ship and I could go on and on about how beautiful it is, the decor, and giant floor to ceiling glass everywhere. Surrounded by scenic beauty this whole cruise, and always a good view from all parts of the ship. Had 8:30 Main Dining Room seating, beautiful table for 8 by the window. Two wonderful couples from Australia traveling together, couple from the Netherlands, and a nice young fellow from Italy were my dinner companions, and we all got on so well that none of us went to the alternate dining during the rest of the cruise. We also stayed together for the disco and met for early drinks during the cruise, too. What we lost for RCC in alternate dining revenue we more than made up for with cocktails! Breakfast and lunch were either in the main dining room (open seating) or at the buffet or sandwich shop, both good. Buffet had international foods and was well organized, but when the dining room was open for lunch, it had better food. Shore excursions, I did two whale watching tours through RCC, thought they were both great and different from each other, at Icy Straits Point and at Juneau. In Ketchikan and Skagway, just explored the towns, very interesting, lots to see. Skagway was cold and slightly snowy though, so skipped the train ride and headed back to the nice warm ship. Hubbard Glacier was spectacular from the ship, highlight of the trip. Took the scenic train up to Anchorage, beautiful and would recommend. It takes you right the airport. Used RCC's luggage valet on the way back, and that saved no end of hassles others were having. They print your boarding passes and you don't see your luggage again until home airport, no worries, best 20 bucks ever spent! Go see Alaska, and go on this ship is all I can say. And go on your own if you have to, you'll have a fantastic time. Read Less
Sail Date May 2012
Flew into Vancouver from Atlanta the night before the cruise. Used up the last of the Holiday Inn points and stayed for free at the Holiday Inn Express Richmond. The hotel was okay, but the choices for places to eat within walking ... Read More
Flew into Vancouver from Atlanta the night before the cruise. Used up the last of the Holiday Inn points and stayed for free at the Holiday Inn Express Richmond. The hotel was okay, but the choices for places to eat within walking distance was limited. We chose to order from a local place that delivered to the hotel and spent a quiet night trying to get used to the time change. We took a cab to Canada Place around 10:30 ($35). We dropped off our luggage and was on board the vessel by 11:00. The Windjammer had just opened and it was the only time all week that we were able to get a table without circling the entire dining room to look for a place to sit. Rooms opened at 1pm and we were off to the tail of the ship. JS 1100 is on the tail of the ship in the back corner. The balcony was the highlight and almost as large as the room itself. It held 2 lounge chairs, 2 regular chairs and a table. We could have easily fit more chairs/tables if we needed. It was nice to see the full back view and also a bit of the port side, especially in Hubbard Glacier. It was really cold at times, but it was awesome to sit and see a full view instead of just one side. Being D+, we requested a table for two. We found that our table was for 10 and went to the head waiter for a change. The next night we were placed at a table for 2, inside a small room off of the MDR. It had another small table of 4, with two young ladies and a table for 20 with a family reunion. We went to the Concierge and quickly had this changed for the remainder of the cruise. Be careful of what you wish for, we were then seated at a table for 8 next the original table for 10. Concierge lounge was great - Vanessa was a great bartender. Stephen, the Concierge was very helpful - especially with the MDR muddle. Food was okay for the week. After taking many cruises, you can almost predict what will be on the next day's menu. It was good and plentiful. I see where the deserts are getting less attention, but I suppose that is a good thing with all that there is to eat. This is the first time we have been on a ship with a Dog House. The hot dogs were good and it was fun to try different varieties that they served. One night we had tried the new Brazilian Steakhouse. It was good and worth the extra expense. Meat is not cooked over an open pit (obviously) but in a rotisserie. Still very good and the chimichurri sauce they have as a side was the best. I think we put it on everything. Okay, with the addition of Rita's Cantina and the Dog House, the Windjammer seating shrunk. It was difficult to find a seat during peak breakfast/lunch times, but with two people we were always able to find a counter seat or sit with another couple. We didn't go to any of the shows. We are not interested in comedians and show productions were ones we have seen before. We did try our luck in the casino and came out a little ahead. That's a first for us and decided to quit while the going was good. At ports of call, we really didn't have any problems with lines getting on or off the ship. The ramps at Icy Point and in Ketchikan are both steep. I don't know whether it would have made a difference if it was low or high tide, but I could see that it was difficult for some to get on/off the ship comfortably. The weather was rainy and cool for the most part. The last Alaskan cruise we went on was sunny, so this put a different light on the scenery. A must have is a good camera with a large card. If we had to have developed film, our bill for pictures would have been more than the cruise ;). Binoculars are also a must. Disembarkation in Seward went smoothly. The luggage is in a warehouse by number. Since we had priority departure, we were off and able to find our luggage before it was overwhelmed with people. The last part of the journey was the worse. We had booked an independent transfer to Anchorage with Alaska Cruise Transfer. They stated that the bus would leave at 8AM. By 9:30, we were still waiting. Another driver told us that the bus was delayed by road work. When the bus had finally shown up, they wouldn't allow the passengers to board. Once on board, there were no seats together and they told one passenger to hold their 6 year old on their lap since someone in the office had overbooked. The gentleman that I sat next to told me that his wife was booked with the same company on an 8 hour tour. They had booked together to be called the next day and told that they couldn't get on. They put him on a 4 hour tour transfer and kept her on the 8 hour transfer. When he went to get onto the bus for the 4 hour tour, he was told that he was on the direct transfer. I don't know how long this company has been in business, but they were unwilling to help, unorganized and rude. The driver left us off behind our hotel and we had to walk up hill and around the building with all of our luggage to check in. We stayed 2 nights in Anchorage. We stayed at the Embassy Suites hotel. It was booked through hotels.com and was an excellent hotel. Happy hour and breakfast were great. While in Anchorage, we rented a car from the airport. It's easy to get around, but difficult to find places to park. The hotel will bring you downtown by shuttle and drop you off. Since we wanted to explore out of the way places like Ship's Creek, Wild West Guns and Alyeska Resort, we enjoyed having the comfort of our own transportation. Overall, it was a great cruise. The ship is newly renovated and looking clean and up to date. The room was great with a greater view. The food was good and plentiful and the staff was excellent in customer service. I would recommend this ship and itinerary to anyone. I wouldn't recommend the HI Express nor the Alaska Cruise Transfer. I would also recommend the Embassy Suites Hotel. Read Less
Sail Date May 2012
This was our 14th cruise and it was for us to celebrate our 57th wedding anniversary. We have experienced cruising on 7 different cruise lines, some as small as 500 passengers and on some as large as 3,000+ passengers. This was our 3rd ... Read More
This was our 14th cruise and it was for us to celebrate our 57th wedding anniversary. We have experienced cruising on 7 different cruise lines, some as small as 500 passengers and on some as large as 3,000+ passengers. This was our 3rd different RCCL ship, and we have never been disappointed with RCCL. The ship was exceptionally clean, not a day passed that we didn't see multiple crew members cleaning bannisters, windows, floors, etc. Without a doubt, the crew on the Rhapsody of the Seas, overall, was the the most friendly and courteous that we had ever experienced. Being retired from an executive position at Walt Disney World I am very qualified to access guest relations, and this crew would have passed approval at Disney. The entertainment was varied to appeal to all desired tastes and was indeed entertaining. We always prefer having our dinners in the Main Dining Room, after all, this is one of the special features in cruising. Our waiter and his assistant, both from China, were the best we have ever experienced. After our 1st night of dining and selecting particular beverages and breads, we found those same items already awaiting us each night when we arrived at our sittings at the table. Our ports were all enjoyable and interesting. Debarkation in Honolulu was exceptionally quick and easy. The only slightly inconvenience that we experienced were delays in tendering, using the ships boats, several times. The Captains updates each noon were delightful, very informative, friendly, and we could even understand what he was saying, clean English. I am right now working on arranging for us to later in 2012 to take a Panama Canal Cruise on a RCCL ship. Read Less
Sail Date September 2011
We sailed on Radiance the last week of August from Vancouver BC to Anchorage AK. Overall the experience was great. This being said we went from spectacular service to the unexpectedly strange. In a nut shell, part of our ... Read More
We sailed on Radiance the last week of August from Vancouver BC to Anchorage AK. Overall the experience was great. This being said we went from spectacular service to the unexpectedly strange. In a nut shell, part of our group was stuck in the fog in San Francisco enough to have missed the ship if not for spectacular teamwork from the pier and ship crew who managed this thing military discipline and coordination. In the end the last part of our family was on board and saw the gang way off right behind them !!! We were already fans of RCCL but this just made us converts for years to come. The cabin attendant was exceptional and made everything to make our two small grand children feel very welcomed. He made puppets and dolls every day and placed them under the blanket in their respective beds for them to discover every day...GREAT JOB. My wife and I took the opportunity to try the Chef's Table as it seemed an experience to make on our wedding anniversary. The food was really exceptional, the wine was a perfect match with every course. We found however that for 95$ a head, the proximity to a dance bar created annoying loud music for such a classy expectation. The staff, although very courteous, still has to raise to the level of the promise created in this luxury product by being somewhat more discrete, better adjusted to their guests expectations and act really as if this dinner is taking place at a real chef's place. The biggest surprised came in two ways at the end: first completely out of nowhere we were all presented with a charge slip to add tip on top of the 95$ each...Guys, charge 110$ if you wish but please do not insult your guests by asking for more !!!!! second, and after all this wonderful meal, no coffee, tea, water, anything. How many of us would find acceptable to spend that money and not even get a sip of anything at the end the meal. VERY STRANGE behaviour. Otherwise great cruise and RCCL is a great Cruise Line. Beware of introducing products that may be a bit out of your core culture and or of your target market. The train ride at the end, between Seward and Anchorage, is a must do ! Read Less
Sail Date August 2011
After a hot summer, it was a delight to head north. We flew into Vancouver the day before sailing , and were greeted by a warm and sunny day in this beautiful city. After checking into the Renaissance near the waterfront, we headed out to ... Read More
After a hot summer, it was a delight to head north. We flew into Vancouver the day before sailing , and were greeted by a warm and sunny day in this beautiful city. After checking into the Renaissance near the waterfront, we headed out to admire the view of the water, mountains and many seaplanes zipping in and out . A short walk away was the site of the Olympic Torch from the 2010 Winter Olympics - beautiful! The next day we utilized the Big Bus for a nice 2-hr tour of the city and surrounding - another warm and sunny day - perfect for a quick overview of this lovely area . It was a good way to see everything in a short amount of time. We arrived at the cruise port around 1:30, where we joined a long and slow-moving line. After clearing the Canadian Customs, we stepped into another room , where it was time to wait yet another 1.5 hrs to go thru US Customs. This was pretty ridiculout-there were 14 stations, and only 4 agents. The Canadian reps were busy apologizing and saying that under-scheduling and computer problems were the cause , but we think that government cut-backs were the real culprit. There weren't many genuine smiles by the time we made it to the embarkation photo-spot. Needless to say , we didn't purchase that one. Starving , we headed to the Windjammer for a bite. Unfortunately it closed 10 minutes later so we grabbed what was left and ate quickly. It was time for the emergency briefing. That has been streamlined since we last sailed,with no life jackets required. Afterward, we finally got to check out the cabin . It was a good one-a large outside cabin near the Centrum . It was among a group of brand-new cabins added during the recent refurb , and the over sized porthole went from the top of the mattress to the ceiling- giving amazing views from everywhere ! There was plenty of closet space, drawers and shelves- with everything done in lovely wood. We were very happy with the comfy bed, sitting area and other amenities. We'd booked the MyTime dining , and that worked out very well. Service was very nice , quite consistent and we always had the table for 2 we'd requested. The strength in the menu was definitely the entrees, and we were not disappointed. The apps and desserts weren't quite as good, but overall, the food was creative , fresh and served at the correct temperature. The ship was lovely , and the staff very friendly and welcoming. The entertainment was skewed for a slightly older crowd, but we enjoyed the live music anyway. The production shows aren't really our thing, but we gave them a chance - a few of the performers have remarkable voices and are very talented. The highlight of our activities was a helicopter/dog sled day out of Juneau. We'd booked it on our own with Coastal Helicopters, and they were great. As it was another rainy day, we were worried they may have to cancel, but luck was with us , and we had a great time - so memorable ! Our musher , Eric Rogers had run the Iditarod 4 times, and completed the 1000-mile race 3 times. His energy , love for his dogs and the surroundings was so contagious . It was amazing - we'll never forget it . The last day of the cruise was my birthday- we awoke to small icebergs in the water , and hurried to the top deck for the Hubbard Glacier. We were very lucky that the weather cleared just in time for our 2-hr visit at this incredible place , and were treated to quite a few "calving" events. We both had a great time with our camera gear and these photos are amazing! When the captain spun the ship, we simply moved with it and stayed in front of the expansive view the whole time -as an hobbyist photographer, I was in heaven! When it was time to leave, the rain returned -perfect timing ! We took the Alaska Railroad to Anchorage from Seward - very scenic and relaxing . We did spot a few eagles along the way , and when we arrived at the airport were sad to head home . It was a great vacation ! Read Less
Sail Date August 2011
My husband I took our honeymoon to Alaska this summer on the Radiance. We flew in the day before embarkations and stayed at the Sutton Place Hotel. This hotel is beautiful and we got a great deal on expedia. It was a 2 minute cab ride from ... Read More
My husband I took our honeymoon to Alaska this summer on the Radiance. We flew in the day before embarkations and stayed at the Sutton Place Hotel. This hotel is beautiful and we got a great deal on expedia. It was a 2 minute cab ride from the cruise terminal. Embarkation was a breeze. We arrived at the terminal at 12:00 and were having lunch by 1:00. Our room was ready by 2:00 and our bags arrived at our room at 5:30 (which made me a little nervous as a first-time cruiser). The cabin was spacious enough to store all our luggage (we totally over-packed). The staff was friendly and very helpful (with one exception below). We were surprised at how good the food in the main dining room was, and with such a great selection, especially vegetarian. Our waiters not only knew our names, but our preferences by the 2nd night. We decided to eat the for-fee Mexican restaurant, Rita's Cantina, and it was a disaster. The food was terrible. The chicken in the tacos had more of an Indian spice than Mexican and their nachos did not use real cheese. I'm not at all picky, but I expected food at least on the level of a Taco Bell. Our waitress was more than accommodating, but when the supervisor asked why we were changing our order, we felt very uncomfortable. All he cared about was whether the food was cooked. Once I explained that I wasn't crazy about the quality, he just walked away. We did an excursion at each port of call. Ketchikan: historic trolley to Saxman Native Village to see totem poles. Our guide was funny and knowledgeable. We spent some time on Creek Street, which was very cute. Icy Strait Point: we saw the Cultural Legends dance performance with was very interesting and interactive! At the last minute, we decided to do the zip-rider, which is the world's longest and tallest zip line. YOU MUST DO THIS! It was one of the highlights of the trip! Not nearly as scary as it looks and the best views of Alaska!Juenau: we did a combo Mendenhall Glacier and Whale Watching quest. We saw loads of orcas and humpbacks. It was breathtaking! The Mount Roberts tram was fun and provided beautiful views. Skagway: we book To The Summit! a bus ride to the klondike. It is shorter than the White Pass train, for which we had little time. Beautiful views and very informative. We also did the three-day land tour after the cruise, which was totally worth it! Denali was amazing and Talkeetna was a quaint, fun little town (and I do mean little!) All in all, we had the trip of a lifetime with very few glitches along the way! Read Less
Sail Date August 2011
This was our daughter's graduation gift. We were on the Radiance 2 years ago on an Alaskan North Bound Cruise and enjoyed it. The Radiance is our favorite size ship, not too small, not too big. First, we met two of the ... Read More
This was our daughter's graduation gift. We were on the Radiance 2 years ago on an Alaskan North Bound Cruise and enjoyed it. The Radiance is our favorite size ship, not too small, not too big. First, we met two of the people from Cruise Critics on the first day, one in the boarding line (MJN and her husband Butch), and the second (ChuckiesGirl and her husband Bob (actually Chuck)) in the Schooner Bar. They both added to the cruise. Great people. We enjoyed most of the changes to the ship. Two of our favorites were the Park Cafe and the Quill and Compass. The Park Cafe adds a nice break from the Windjammer, plus they have awesome roast beef sandwiches... Almost as good as the ones we used to get in Tonawanda, NY. The Quill and Compass with a nice beer selection also had an entertainer named Chuck Brown. You walked in to the pub and were greeted just like a friend. We went there every evening. Don't be afraid if you hear people cheering when you walk in. The dining room was very nice. It was a little rough the first evening, but from the second evening on, it was a wonderful experience. The wait staff took care of us and spoiled our daughter. The food choices were excellent and well prepared. The variety was good, even for a finicky eater. We also had dinner one night at Chops. The wait staff was top notched, and the food, well, I wish I could of ate more, it was excellent. We joined Chuckiesgirl, Chuck and friends of theirs for dinner. It was a great evening. The entertainment was okay. Nothing to write home about. But, if we didn't care for the show, off to the Quill and Compass for fun cheering with Chuck Brown. Another member of the staff, who added to our cruise was a photographer from South Africa named Lee. Pleasant, professional, and she could take some great pictures. We had two down sides on this cruise. The first was our cabin attendant. Normally you get to meet them, and they work with you. I don't know if I ever saw our cabin attendant, plus, his definition of clean and ours was a little bit different. Mirrors not cleaned, ashtray on balcony not emptied, plus some other things. Needless to say, the cabin attendant received the basic tip, nothing else. The next was other passengers... Where have manners gone? Where has respect gone? We were pushed, bumped into to the point I thought I was on a subway train. Also, the Radiance is not a big play ground for unsupervised children and youth, parents please do your job. I treated my wife and daughter to a "Traveler's Stress Relief Massage" on the first evening. They both enjoyed it, and tried to convince me they needed another one before the cruise was over. Due to weight and space restrictions in our suitcases, we didn't use the fitness center. We also did not watch any movies on the big screen. All and all, I would recommend this cruise to anybody wanting to go on an Alaskan Cruise. Read Less
Sail Date July 2011
This was our first cruise so we did not know what to expect. We had read a lot online and the reviews were mostly positive for the Radiance of the Seas Alaskan cruises with the exception of the first two cruises out of the recent dry dock ... Read More
This was our first cruise so we did not know what to expect. We had read a lot online and the reviews were mostly positive for the Radiance of the Seas Alaskan cruises with the exception of the first two cruises out of the recent dry dock for renovation. So we were a little nervous going in. We were a group of five ranging in age from 15 to 75 years old with the elder being in a wheel chair. We spent a day in Seattle and a day in Vancouver prior to the cruise. In Seattle we took the ARGOS harbor tour and it was wonderful. Views of the city and of Mt. Ranier in the distance were spectacular as there was not a cloud in the sky most of the day. We stayed at the Spring Hill Suites in Renton and it was clean and relatively low cost. Vancouver was rainy but we toured some gardens near the city and can recommend the Marriott Renaissance Harbour based on our experience. It was located only a couple of blocks from Canada Place and the cab ride to the pier was under $10. On July 8th we arrived at the pier around 11:45 am (scheduled time was noon) and we were on the ship by 12:15. The lines moved quickly and once aboard we were directed to the Windjammer for lunch while we waited for the staterooms to be prepared. Several folks in previous reviews had commented on the overcrowding in the Windjammer and having to wait for a table -- we never saw that. We always found a table for 5, no problem. By 2pm we were allowed in our rooms and they were as advertised. We had 2 interior staterooms (1503,1505) on deck 10 and as expected, they were pretty small. However, there was a LOT of storage space (including under the beds) and so we were never climbing over luggage. The bathrooms are remarkably small, but functional. The shower was very confining (reminded me of getting an MRI!) but got the job done. We met our cabin steward, Roxanne, and she was very attentive during the entire cruise. She also proved to be very talented at making towel animals! During our stay we received a dog, a bat, an owl, a duck, and most impressive, a lobster. Cruise Director Keith was very entertaining and kept everyone well organized. The staff was very friendly and would greet us with a smile all the time. On a negative/positive we had multiple toilet issues (would not flush) during the cruise in cabin 1503 (deck 10), but each time the problem was resolved in just a few minutes. I was very impressed with the responsiveness of the maintenance staff. The ship layout was very convenient as there never was really too far to walk for where you wanted to go. It only took about a day to learn the lay of the land. If I had one complaint it would be the elevator system on the outside of the ship. The glass elevators are beautiful and provide wonderful views outside -- however, they are spaced far enough apart in the lobby that we felt like we were playing "Whack-a-Mole" with the elevators. We would hear the ding, and by the time we realized which doors were opening, it would be too late and we would have to try again. In all fairness, we did have someone in a wheelchair so our reaction time was slightly slower than that of a typical couple. That said, when I made the "Whack-a-Mole" joke on board (many times), laughs of agreement came often. No issues with the interior elevators at all. The ship is really beautiful. FOOD Food on the ship was very good and we spent the majority of the time in the Windjammer buffet (versus the main dining room) due to having a late dining room time (8:30) and traveling with someone who was ill and would be asleep by then. I'm not a food connoisseur, but most of the food in Windjammer was comparable to what I would get in a nice restaurant at home and the variety was excellent. Breakfast was the strongest meal of the day followed by dinner and finally lunch. I was surprised to find lox available every morning and it was of high quality. The main dining room was beautiful and the service was excellent during our limited number of visits. Food in the main dining room was a little better than in the buffet (not a surprise). When the Windjammer was not open, the Park Cafe provided light fare that was excellent in quality. We never used room service. We only had one meal in a specialty restaurant (additional fee required) and that was at Samba Grill -- the Brazilian steak house. This meal was the highlight of the trip for me and my son and I recommend it to anyone who boards. We sampled every one of the 9 different meats and all of the desserts offered. Everything was delicious! One suggestion, however, is that RCI build a sheltered path to the restaurant that avoids the open deck -- the wind blowing basically messes everyone's hair prior to entering the restaurant. Of course, if you are in port, this is less of an issue. ENTERTAINMENT We watched just about every show offered each night in the Aurora Theatre as well as most of the small acts around the ship. The production shows were generally very good (the performers are really very talented!) but the Piano Man show and the Tony Pace show were the best overall. We were very impressed with the overall production quality of the shows. In other areas of the ship we liked the Zig Zag band (oldies), Lauren Evans and the Radiance of the Seas orchestra, and in particular, Kelly Goodrich on piano every night in the Colony Club who puts on an excellent show and takes requests. The bottom line on entertainment is that after 5 pm there is ALWAYS a show going on somewhere and usually several at once. There was always something to do including putt putt golf, rock climbing, shooting pool on tables that auto level (a very bizarre sensation when the ship is rocking), ice carving demonstrations, and many seminars on different topics ranging from Alaskan culture, to reducing memory loss, to other topics which I forget ;-). Bottom line is that we loved the entertainment and there was lots to keep anyone busy. FITNESS CENTER The ship has a well-equipped fitness center that was never too busy and provided nice exterior views as well as TV on many machines. STOPS AND EXCURSIONS Ketchikan -- took the Misty Fjords boat cruise. Was not overly impressed and felt it took too long (5 hours). Would suggest the aerial tour instead so you have more time to walk around the city (if the fjords are your thing). Ice Straits -- took the whale and mammal explorer excursion and saw no less that 30 whale breaches. Absolutely fantastic tour -- one of the highlights during the week. Juneau -- Took the helicopter ride to the Mendenhall Glacier and walked on the glacier for a while. This was run by Temsco and was great! We were fortunate to have a sunny day and the views were spectacular. Warning -- be sure to dress for the glacier! It was cold and very windy on the surface! Also took the Mt Roberts tram and had lunch at the top of the mountain -- great views and some good hiking opportunities. Skagway -- Took the White Pass train to the summit -- very enjoyable with incredible views. Hubbard Glacier - this was the only day at sea that wasn't sunny with blue skies. Nonetheless, the glacier views were great and we were close enough to see the terminus clearly and hear the calving (4 times for me). While the schedule says 7 am to 11 am for the glacier, we departed around 10 am -- make sure you wake up early enough to see it! Debarkation from the ship was as painless as embarkation -- no issues -- everything moved smoothly and in a timely manner. All in all the 7 days on the ship were the most fun we have ever had on vacation. The boat is beautiful, there is lots to do, and the staff is very friendly and helpful! After the cruise, we also took the three additional land days option which took us to Talkeetna, Denali, and Anchorage. In hindsight, we felt that if we had rented a car in Seward, we might have been able to cover the tour in half the time we spent. Next time, we will do just that. That said, Talkeetna Alaskan Lodge is very nice and provides an excellent view of McKinley off the back porch when the weather permits. I was less impressed with the McKinley Village Lodge near Denali, but then back in Anchorage, the Marriott was very nice. On the second day there was a Denali Natural History Tour which seemed focused on the flora of the area versus the fauna. We really wanted to see animals in the wild, and this is not the tour for that. We did see a moose near the road (neat!) and someone spotted a Caribou in the distance for which the next 20 minutes were spent by the Park Service driver trying to convince 90% of the bus that the tiny brown spec in the distance was wildlife. While it was true there was a caribou (binocs confirmed) -- I think we spent way too much time looking at something that only one in 10 could see. As a side note, these 1 in 10 also claim to be able to see the Andromeda galaxy with their naked eye! :-) The RCI driver and tour guide for the three day land portion were very friendly and competent. They explained procedures very well so there was never any confusion at any time regarding luggage or where the best places to eat were located. The highlights of the land tour for us were rafting the Nenana river (a ton of fun -- $95 per head) and visiting the Alaskan Natural Wildlife Conservation Center past Girdwood (outside of Anchorage). The Center helps injured animals to recover and includes several bears, moose, oxen, elk, caribou, etc up close and personal. We had a taxi driver take us out to the Center (all rental cars were sold out) and he actually drive us around within the center as well -- a nice perk! During this land portion, the luggage handling was exceptional -- we never had to lift a finger and the luggage was always in our rooms. RCI also provided transfer to the airport -- again handling all the luggage along the way. All in all, this was an outstanding cruise vacation that I would highly recommend. Thanks Royal Caribbean for a great time! Read Less
Sail Date July 2011
Perfect size for going to Alaska.....no seasickness! Awesome view of the Hubbard Glacier......the ship actually went through the ice field. Don't waste your money with a shipboard excursion in Skagway.....we rented a car and saw ... Read More
Perfect size for going to Alaska.....no seasickness! Awesome view of the Hubbard Glacier......the ship actually went through the ice field. Don't waste your money with a shipboard excursion in Skagway.....we rented a car and saw everything the tours did, fo a lot less money! In Ketchikan we saw the misty fjords; great boat ride on a catamaran! Icy Strait Point is mostly controlled by an Indian tribe......we went looking for bears but it was too hot for them! So we went salmon fishing instead. In Juneau we booked a whale watching with Capt. Jack....worth every penny, and in the afternoon we went to the Mendenhall Glacier! You won't be disappointed in this ship or the inside passage. We started in Vancouver and went north. We also did the post cruise tour on the glass domed train.....it was so much fun! In Denali be sure to do the husky puppy tour; it is run by Jeff King, who has won the Iditarod 4 times, and you get to see a fantastic presentation! Read Less
Sail Date July 2011
The Radiance of the Seas with Royal Caribbean is a giant ship with very understated elegance. It was smooth sailing even on seas that got a little rough in some patches. Our deluxe stateroom was much larger & nicer than we expected. It ... Read More
The Radiance of the Seas with Royal Caribbean is a giant ship with very understated elegance. It was smooth sailing even on seas that got a little rough in some patches. Our deluxe stateroom was much larger & nicer than we expected. It had an extremely comfortable queen bed (that could be separated into 2 twins)that was both firm & plush. Plenty of pillows & towels added to our comfort. The room steward, Jagpur, was courteous, friendly, helpful and ever attentive to our needs...and often even anticipated our needs before we did. Unlike most hotels it was extremely quiet & made for very restful sleep. The dining experience in the Cascade Dining Room was wonderful. The waiters )Putu & Jose)were very experienced, patient, informative and fun. My husband purchased bottle service & we were amazed at the fine quality of the wines & the recommendations of our waiter/sommelier were always spot on. The meals were very fine to absolutely exquisite. Colorful, flavorful & a nice variety of choices each night. Everything was cooked to perfection. Even our 2 picky eaters enjoyed the food. One night we went to Giovanni's Italian Restaurant to celebrate my mother in law's 85th birthday & we had a wonderful time. We were there 3 to 4 hours dine & enjoyed dish after dish of the most delicious & beautiful Italian food I've ever had. It was very relaxing & the waiter was fabulous. He made us laugh & he told us amazing stories about the food & about his life & travels. The desserts were decadent & delicious. Another amazing dining experience! We used the fitness room quite a bit and we were pleasantly surprised at how large it is & the many cycles & weight machines they have to offer. My daughter & niece also took frequent advantage of the exercise, spinning & yoga classes. The instructors managed clients from totally inexperienced to vastly experienced & were able to challenge & encourage them all. Kudos to them. We were a group of 13 in our family on this trip. We have varying interests so we chose different excursions. Some went on sitting tours around the towns, some did walking tours, others did kayaking, rafting, hiking, dog sledding and boating excursions. We all were quite happy with the tours & excursions. The kayaking & whale watching excursions were well worth the cost. I would suggest that you choose & pay for your excursions 1-2months before you travel. Some of the excursions filled up, so we had to make alternative choices even though we booked 1 month in advance. You can book for excursions on shore too, but some excursions got cancelled & the other people didn't always get a refund. Also if an excursion runs late & it's booked through the ship, the ship will wait on sailing. This happened twice. If you book on shore & are late, you'll have to arrange your own transportation back to the ship in the next port. We also went shopping and had some of the local fare to eat. We had a fun time & great food (the crispy salmon wrap was delicious!) & beer at the Red Dog Saloon in one of the towns. The Mindenhall & Hubbard Glaciers are spectacular sites & really shouldn't be missed. We were fortunate to have wonderful weather (only a couple of days of light rain intermittently) & were able to cruise really close to the Hubbard Glacier. Our captain said it was the most beautiful day at the Glacier & he maneuvered us closer than he was ever able to go. Amazing! I could go on & on about our wonderful experiences on this trip. It was such an amazing adventure & we are ready for more! p.s. The Schooner Bar is a wonderful place to hang out with friends & family. The huge windows give an amazing view while cruising. The staff is friendly & ever attentive. There are comfortable chairs arranged in groups for conversation. They frequently have triva games, bingo & such to play. It's a very casual & relaxed place to spend some time. Read Less
Sail Date July 2011
Our biggest mistake on this cruise was to choose a northbound. After a week of seeing and doing all we could do, the flight home from Anchorage was brutle. If I could plan it all again, I would fly into Anchorage a day early. Take a ... Read More
Our biggest mistake on this cruise was to choose a northbound. After a week of seeing and doing all we could do, the flight home from Anchorage was brutle. If I could plan it all again, I would fly into Anchorage a day early. Take a transfer tour down to Portage, Girdwood, Alyeska, ending in Seward. Then spend the night in Seward and get on the ship the following day. Maybe even fit in a Kanai tour if I could. We did the reverse and we were exhausted. Embarkation: We actually flew into Seattle and spent a day and night there. Then took the Clipper Ferry up to Victoria for a day and a night. Had a lovely visit in Victoria. Stayed over night at the Magnolia. Enjoyed a water taxi over to Barb's Fish & Chips. Had a carriage ride. Loved Victoria. Harbour Air was fantastic! Harbour Air took our excess baggage for free on an earlier flight that morning. Then we flew over and claimed it. Also Harbour Air gave us a free shuttle ride to the ship. At the ship terminal, we turned in our large suitcases and got in the security line with our carryons. Then there was a registration line, and customs line, and finally a line to get our picture taken for our ID cards. Then "ding" and we were on the ship. The ship: Loved it! Gorgeous views from everywhere. Our cabin was a junior suite featuring an extra large balcony with 3 large lounge chairs, 2 regular chairs, and a table. We were aft. No noise from the Windjammer above, and only one day did we notice a little bit of suit sprinkled onto our balcony. The Adventure Ocean staff was great. Our 6 year old loved it. He spent most evenings there doing the activities. There were several kids onboard. He also loved Adventure dining. He did that about 5 of the nights. You sign up sometime during the day and choose what entree your child would like. Then deliver your child to them by 6:00pm and they take him to the Windjammer Cafe for dinner and then on to the activities that evening. Our son actually preferred that to the dining room. However, he did dine with us in the main dining room 2 nights and he did fine. The servers made over him even making him his own ice cream dessert! Loved Chops! Had their crab cake, filet, and mud pie. I even paid extra in the main dining room to upgrade to a Chops filet a few of the nights. Disappointed in the desserts in the main dining room. I would have paid every night to upgrade to a mud pie! Hope they get the hint. Please provide more desserts even if it's an upcharge. Sambas for us was fine. Still enjoyed Chops a bit more. The view from both restaurants was fantastic. For Sambas, the different choices on the salad bar were a little too ambitious for me. And I held back on trying all the meats until I could get to the filet at the end. I think I sampled a couple of the meat offerings. But the filet at the end was the best. Also I believe they had 3 dessert offerings. I chose the chocolate layer cake. Looked like a Hostess Ding Dong with several layers of cake and frosting inside. Delicious! And why couldn't they have more desserts like this in the main dining room. The pool: We went to the Solarium pool on the Jewel on the New England/Canada cruise and it was nice and toasty. This cruise, the water in the solarium pool was too chilly. We asked about it and we were told it was heated water, but it sure didn't feel like it. Debarkation: Easy! We signed up for Luggage Valet. RCCL checked us in for our flights and put our luggage check fees on our set sail pass. So once we put our suitcases in the hallway, we did not see them again until we were home. We were told we could exit the ship whenever we liked. So we had a nice breakfast and left out the exit on deck 5 near the theater. Easy! Walked right off and into the terminal building. Passed by all the luggage and found a nice bench to sit on until our tour guide got there. We hired Salmonberry Tours to take us on a transport tour. We had stops all along the way back to Anchorage. We also had a tour of Anchorage. Long day but we saw a lot. Some of the scenery along the way was top notch! Cameras just don't do it all justice. We enjoyed our stops at the Wildlife Conservation Center, and Alyeska the best. The ports: Ketchikan - had a flight with SeaWind Aviation to Misty Fjord. Gorgeous! Our pilot landed near a flat rock on a lake and we all got out for pictures. Then we returned to Ketchikan. We walked to the incline near Creek Street and rode up to have lunch at Cape Fox Lodge. Then walked down the Married Man trail behind the lodge. Great shopping in this town. Icy Strait - morning we walked the beach trail, walked thru the Landing Zone restaurant and watched the zipliners come down. (restrooms here). Then we walked the forest trail. Shopped in the red buildings. Lunch back on the ship. Then we had an afternoon whale watch with F.I.S.H.E.S. This was the highlight of the entire week. Floyd was great! It was a 45 minute ride out to where the whales are and we loved every minute of it! One came right up by our boat. There were just 4 adults and 1 child along (ours). Our son sat inside and played his DS. The rest of us went out to the front side of the boat for viewing. Skagway - we took the Chilkoot Summit bus/train tour. We did the bus first. It had stops at an overview, and the Alaska welcome sign, and ended in Fraser. Fraser is just a bus/train station. That's all that is there. Then we loaded on the train and came back. It was a 3 1/2 hour tour. It was scenic. Had a couple of tunnels. Customs checked us in Fraser and then USA customs checked us when we arrived back in Skagway. Of all the tours, the train was the least of my favorites. It was scenic, but I was glad we weren't on the longer train ride. Had lunch at Skagway Brewing Company. Good but very crowded. There's an IGA grocery here. We purchased a loaf of bread here. Juneau - Historic Gold Mine tour here this morning. This was the only ship sponsored tour we had. It was very informative. Different persons did different sections of the tour explaining in detail how all the mining worked. Liked the portion in the mine the best. There were portopotties here and a nice giftshop. For lunch, check out the Twisted Fish in the Taku building. Great lunch here. Then we bought a ticket to go to Mendenhall Glacier. There are blue buses (MGT) and white buses (Juneau Tours). Both go to the same place and both are the same price. Wish we had just bought one way tickets though. When we were ready to leave, there was a blue bus waiting, but we had tickets on the white bus so we had to wait a bit for the next white bus. At Mendenhall, we hit the restrooms first, then walked to the photo spot. Then we took the trail to Nugget Falls. The trail breaks into two paths. Both paths lead to the falls. We walked both. The left path was more direct and we just had to cross a couple little brooks and only had to step in about an inch or water. There were rocks to walk on also. The right path was more groomed, but seemed to be longer. The walk over and back took about 1 hour. Moskitoes: We only saw a couple moskitoes all week. (at Mendenhall glacier, and at Exit Glacier in Seward). Never needed any bug spray. (our tour was last week of June). Scenery: Make sure you have a good zoom on your camera. We took binoculars too, but often forgot to use them because we were took busy taking pictures. Weathergear: We took waterproof shell jackets. Then we bought fleece jackets there. Fleece jackets are everywhere and start at 19.99 to 29.99 or so if I remember correctly. I did not need the waterproof sneakers that I purchased. It only rained one day (Juneau) and it was just a drizzle, but lasted all day. So glad to have those waterproof coats. This was the only day we really needed the fleece. On the ship, we did not take formalwear in order to save precious packing room. Instead we had reservations at Chops and Sambas and dressed smart casual. Worked great! We have decided we will do Chops for all formal nights in the future. We only saw two shows onboard. Piano Man was a new show for us and we loved it. City of Dreams we've seen several times and it's feeling old and tired to us. Wishing for new shows or even mini-musicals. This is the first cruise that we did the soft drink package. Loved it. Got a nice souvenior cup the first day (for each of us). Plenty of refills for us. We especially loved our diet coke in the main dining room each evening. We are now spoiled and will want Chops, the soda package, and a junior suite for all future cruises! Read Less
Sail Date June 2011
We sailed on the Rhapsody 7 day which left Vancouver, BC & ended up in Seattle with the standard port stops. This was our 14th Alaska cruise, 5th on RCCL but first not on the Radiance Class...our favorite RCCL class. BUT the price was ... Read More
We sailed on the Rhapsody 7 day which left Vancouver, BC & ended up in Seattle with the standard port stops. This was our 14th Alaska cruise, 5th on RCCL but first not on the Radiance Class...our favorite RCCL class. BUT the price was definitely right to squeek in an extra cruise this year, so. We have never sailed in an inside before. Have been booked in 1 3 times but was upgraded out on the others but decided to keep this to see what it was like. The inside was midship and large enough. We LOVED having a tea kettle in the room as we always bring our own teabags (Brits) and haven't seen this except on the Independence of The Seas. No fridge though...a little disconcerting to get in & find all the desk space taken up with all the things that are usually in the missing fridge. Stowed them behind the mirror sides which opened. Thought maybe no fridge because we were inside, but dinner companions in balconies didn't have fridges either. Ship is a nice midsize. Very navigable. Like the Dawn Princess or HAL Volendam, Zaandam etc. Maybe a slight tendency to roll in seas while coming back outside of Vancouver Island on the way home which bothered some folks, but we were fine. The Cruise Director Dan and his wife Becky who was the Activities Director were some of the best we have had. Very natural, down to earth and good at their jobs. Their calling & running of the horse races at sea were outstanding and the theme nights in the centrum were very well done in a smaller space and were well attended and participated in. One thing I have to say is this was the worst embarkation in our 40+ cruises. It was one of the first cruises of the year for Vancouver so don't know if that is their excuse, but we have never had this bad of a time here in Vancouver before. The Celebrity Millenium was boarding as well but that is usually the case...that another ship is leaving the same day. We stood in the security screening line for an hour before getting to the 2 baggage screeners. But then were in the Immigration lines for an hour. The line was separated into 2 sides where you were directed to zigzags. There were only 2 passport checkers on one side & 3 on the other. The folks we stood next to at the boat drill said they had spent 2 hours in the baggage screen line and 2 1/2 hours in the passport line, so I guess we got blessed. Anyway, it was not good...although as I said we have never seen it like that before. On a positive note, Canadina Captain Rick was one of the most personable and communicative captains we have had. Very friendly, gregarious and a good singer as well! He had a great pr ability. Some captains are better on the bridge than in the public settings. Kudos! Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
We just completed a 12-night sailing on the Rhapsody of the Seas and I had checked out several reviews on here prior to sailing as we were a little apprehensive to take a smaller, older ship after having sailed many times on the Radiance ... Read More
We just completed a 12-night sailing on the Rhapsody of the Seas and I had checked out several reviews on here prior to sailing as we were a little apprehensive to take a smaller, older ship after having sailed many times on the Radiance and the Serenade, but the Rhapsody was the only ship doing the itinerary we wanted at this time of year. All doubts were quelled the moment we stepped onto this ship! She was refitted in 2007 and looks like she was just launched! Our cabin was immaculate and undoubtedly had the best beds we have ever had! Thick mattress with a pillowtop! Much better than the Rhapsody and Serenade beds. The only downside on this ship were the tiny tvs in the cabin, but not a big deal as we rarely watched it. The Centrum area was by far better than the Radiance class of ships - more open with more multi-levels, allowing for more ease of traffic. The casino had a greater selection of machines than other ships and was totally smoke-free (Yay!) and the shops were much better laid out. The food was outstanding and once again, the service impeccable. In fact, in 23 cruises I don't think we have ever had better dining room service. If you have the opportunity to have Orlando and Felizio as your waiter and assistant waiter, then you are in for a treat! We are off on the Mariner of the Seas next month, but it's going to be hard to top the service we just received. I would highly recommend the Rhapsody to anyone! Read Less
Sail Date September 2010
This was our 5th cruise and 4th on RCL and first to Alaska. My husband and I are in our early 30's and love to take a cruise every year if possible. Vancouver: We arrived at our embarkation port (Vancouver) a couple days prior to ... Read More
This was our 5th cruise and 4th on RCL and first to Alaska. My husband and I are in our early 30's and love to take a cruise every year if possible. Vancouver: We arrived at our embarkation port (Vancouver) a couple days prior to sailing to ensure no glitches with air travel would get in the way of sailing. The city of Vancouver is very pretty and they have recently built a train that connects a lot of the main areas though its not as comprehensive as many cities so we still did a good deal of walking, next time I would rent a car to have a bit easier access to the sites. Embarkation: Embarkation day we arrived at the pier at about noon. This was by far the most unorganized ports we had experienced. It was mass chaos when dropping our bags with the porter but once we got in line things settled a bit and we were able to get on the ship within an hour or so. The Ship: The ship was really beautiful with very classy decor and a nice layout. I wish that we had chosen a stateroom closer to the dining rooms though because it seemed like we were constantly hoofing it across the ship to go eat. Our stateroom itself was laid out very well with a queen bed, sofa, vanity and LOTS of storage space. The walls were a bit thin however and we could hear the guests directly behind us on a few occasions as well as a crying baby periodically. Our bathroom toilet sprung a leak on the 3rd day of the cruise and was fixed promptly. Entertainment: We fell in love with the colony club and spent several evenings after dinner playing pool, chess, board games or sitting and having a drink. Ballroom dance lessons were fantastic too. :) There is a movie theatre that was a bit cramped but was nice to be able to sit and watch a movie. The cruise director on this sailing, "Dan, Dan the party man" was fantastic and had us cracking up throughout the cruise and really the entire entertainment staff did a great job to try and keep everyone laughing and having a great time. The Adult Scavenger hunt and the Karaoke Superstars were two of our favorites. SKIP the port and shopping show.... unfortunately I was suckered in to going with the lure of free giveaways. This was almost 2 hours of a nonstop pitch to buy diamonds and jewelry. They didn't discuss much else and as far as "free gifts" they were almost non existent and not worth losing precious time of my vacation on. This was the only thing that really bugged me on this cruise. Unfortunately it was a bit cold on most days, so the upper decks of the ship were a little hard to use... we did attempt to play mini golf in the wind.... not so successful but funny. The food: We chose my time dining and spoke with the maitre d upon arriving on the ship to request a table for two. They were great and accommodated us every night with a table of our own by the window each night. We had a different waiter every night and every one was wonderful and friendly. We ate at Chops on my husbands birthday.. the food and service were fantastic and definitely worth the additional fee. Windjammer didn't seem to have quite the selection as on previous cruises but the quality seemed better to us. We spent most breakfasts and lunches there. We only ate lunch in the main dining room once on the last day and wished that we had gone there more because they had a great salad buffet that the chef tosses up the ingredients for you. Ports of Call: We were a bit disappointed by the ports of call because it seemed like one gift shop after another and endless jewelry stores. However recommendations are: Ketchikan - Lumberjack Show was fun... the totem pole museum not worth visiting. Juneau - The Mendenhall glacier was spectacular....we purchased $14 pp open ended round trip ticket to the glacier and were able to hike and take photos for as long as we like. There was a trail that leads right up to an amazing waterfall not to be missed. Skagway - We only walked around here and were a bit bored... I would recommend an excursion here because there's not much to do in town. Icy Straight Point - Absolutely NOTHING to do here... the zip line seemed like a rip off and the bus ride to town was a waste of time. Unfortunately it was very rainy the day we were here so we decided to get back on the ship. Canoeing looked like a good excursion here if the weather is better. Hubbard Glacier: Get up early to get a good viewing spot along the deck and dress warm!!!... an amazing site to see. All in all a lovely cruise but I'm not convinced that I want to go on another cold weather cruise... but Alaska is definitely a place everyone should get a chance to see once in their lives. Read Less
Sail Date September 2010
I had heard all the hyperbole about Alaska and how it is a must do cruise. I, frankly, did not buy all that stuff as I believe that if it sounds too good to be true it probably isn't true. I was wrong. It is all true. Alaska is a must ... Read More
I had heard all the hyperbole about Alaska and how it is a must do cruise. I, frankly, did not buy all that stuff as I believe that if it sounds too good to be true it probably isn't true. I was wrong. It is all true. Alaska is a must see destination. This is a review of the 14 Day Alaskan Repositioning cruise on the Radiance of the Seas starting September 10, 2010. The cruise embarked in Vancouver and 14 days later terminated in San Diego. We are in our mid-50's, married for 30 years and this was our 9th cruise with RCI since April 2005. Although we normally like to travel alone we went with 2 other couples on this cruise. It was our first Alaskan cruise as I have not really wanted to risk a cool and/or rainy cruise. As luck would have it the weather was outstanding. It rained on 2 days and both were sea days. The weather at our Alaskan ports was warm and sunny with warm being subjective. Every port was between 15C to 20C (60F-70F) and cloudless. The nights were so clear that we even saw the Northern Lights the night we left Skagway. The Gods were indeed smiling on the Radiance during the entire cruise, save those 2 sea days that it rained. We stayed 1 night pre-cruise at the Sutton Place Hotel. The price was $119.00 before taxes that we booked through one of the online hotel re-sellers. We liked the hotel and had no issues. We thought we got great value for the price and we would stay there again, if the price was right. We are going to sail from Vancouver next September to Hawaii and the Sutton Place would certainly warrant consideration. We would probably go 2 days early to see more of Vancouver and the areas around it. Embarkation was a breeze. We arrived at the Canada Place Pier around 11AM. U.S. Customs and Immigration opened around 11:30 and we had no lineup to deal with. It took all of 5 minutes to get our Sea Passes and before noon we were on board. This was our first time on the Radiance but 4th time on the Radiance class so we were well acquainted with the ship prior to boarding. The ship is in excellent condition and it was continually being maintained throughout the cruise. We has cabin #7172 which is a corner aft D2 category balcony. Great views and the room was excellent except for 2 items. Firstly, there is a night club directly below and we could hear the bass from the music every night. It got loud some nights. If you are a light sleeper this is not the room for you. Secondly, the sound proofing between 7172 and 7174 is very thin. We, and they, could hear anything above a normal talking voice so any coughing, sneezing etc could be heard clearly. We got to know our neighbours well and they us. Our Stateroom Attendant was very proficient and personable. Food. No complaints. Food in the MDR was very good and in many cases excellent. We ate most of our breakfasts in the MDR and our lunches in the Windjammer. After a few days we stopped eating lunch at all as the portions are just too big and we were starting to feel bloated some of the time. We did not put any weight on during the cruise and we credit the activities we did as well as cutting out lunch the reasons why. Dinners were always in the MDR except for 2 nights where we went to Chops and Portofino. The food in the specialty restaurants is well worth the cost. Our Waiter, Asst Waiter and Head Waiter were great and they took excellent care of us. Ports. Ketchikan. We took the Misty Fjords Float Plane adventure. Although it SEEMED pricey at $265 PP the value was excellent. We booked this through the Cruise Line but you could easily do it yourself at Taquan Air. We have no regrets about taking this excursion. It is a WOW excursion. Icy Strait Point. In the morning we did the zip line and again we felt we got great value for the price. I am somewhat afraid of heights but you are so well secured into your seat that I felt exceedingly safe. There is a 45 minute drive to the top of the zip line that was very enjoyable and well narrated. When we took off it did not really feel like I was moving at all. It was as if I was stationery and everything was coming towards me at a leisurely rate. This ride is not scary and I would do it again in a heartbeat. Do not let fear of heights deter you from taking this excursion. In the afternoon I chartered a boat for whale watching. We went through Glacier Wind Charters with Captain Shawn. When compared to the ships excursion the charter was about twice as much per person. Now think about 150 people crowded onto the ships excursion boat for a very limited amount of time whale watching while we had 6 people on a 38 foot boat for over 2 hours of whale watching. No comparison really. If you are serious about whale watching do a charter. I could go on for hours about what Capt Shawn showed us. This was the highlight excursion of the cruise!!!! Juneau. We rented a car from Rent-A-Wreck as they have an office about 1KM (½ mile) from the cruise ship docks. We walked there in 10 minutes. We got to the Mendenhall Glacier BEFORE the ships excursions arrived so we had the place virtually to ourselves for the first 90 minutes. We then visited the Shrine of St Theresa and finally Eagle Beach. I returned the car about 2 hours before the ship left and walked around the downtown area. Skagway. We took the White Pass and Yukon excursion through the ship. Ours was a long tour that went to the Yukon Territories to Carcross Yukon. We took a bus from Skagway up to Carcross in just under 3 hours including Canadian Customs. The tour included lunch which was very good. After some time at a local attraction that included fabulous taxidermied animals (bears, wolves, etc etc) as well as other activities we stopped in Carcross for about 30 minutes then back down to the train about 1 hour away. IMPORTANT NOTE HERE. If you take the train starting from Skagway gets on the left side of the train when facing forward. If you get on the train in Canada sit on the right side of the train when facing forward. Huge difference in what you will see. Hubbard Glacier. Although you do not leave the ship this is a great experience. We saw so much calving ice falls that the small to medium ones we stopped photographing while we waited for the biggies and we saw a lot of biggies. Sitka. We booked a semi-submersible excursion through the cruise at this port. If it had been the first excursion we probably would have been WOW'd but it was just OK. The water is very murky and if it wasn't for the divers bringing some items to your window it would have been disappointing. There are better things to spend your money on in Sitka. Victoria. We paid $7.00 for a round trip bus pass to downtown. We walked around for a few hours and then went back to the ship. Relaxing. Victoria is very pretty. My wife and I have Victoria down for consideration where we will live after we retire. San Francisco. I booked a tour of the city by private vehicle (Allegro Tours). It took about 5 hours and we saw pretty much everything. Cost was $100.00 per hour for 6 people so just over $16.00 per hour per person. Great value and a great tour. In the evening we did a Segway tour of the Marina District with City Segway. I booked 3 months early for $70.00 PP. Again, great value. The next morning we did the Alcatraz tour. If you plan to do this excursion book early. You probably will not get "day of" tickets. I saw many people looking very frustrated as they were not able to get tickets for that day. Debarkation. Again great. We were called within 1 minutes of our scheduled time. Now what went wrong. Two things. Formal nights. Only 2 on a 14 day cruise. Fair enough but we saw great numbers of people in completely inappropriate dress being let into the MTD. One fellow had jeans and a white t-shirt with a TUX printed onto the t-shirt. We have decided to pass on formal nights from now on so we will use that luggage space for other things. In San Francisco we had to go through U.S. Immigration again as we had stopped at Victoria B.C.. The Cruise Compass had us starting the process at 8:15AM. By 9AM it was a zoo as the Immigration people had not yet started doing anything. There were no RCI people managing the lines and the passengers had to police the lines from people cutting in. My issue is that the lines needed to be managed and RCI had only 1 Junior Person for 1200 non-US citizens taking questions. They could have easily managed the lines. We have had to go through this type of cattle call 3 times and each time RCI had no staff coordinating anything. This issue was on my survey and if everyone else was telling the truth it would be on hundreds of surveys. All in all this was the best cruise we have been on. The funny thing is that we probably won't do Alaska again as we are afraid that it could not possible be as good, weather wise, and we may be disappointed in comparison. Bottom line is that Alaska is an absolute amazing place and everyone MUST see it at least once in their life and a cruise is the only was to see it. Read Less
Sail Date September 2010
Returned from our wonderful Alaskan cruise a week ago. The only "glitch" in our agenda was that we were supposed to leave Tulsa @ 7:10. The airlines called at 2:00 a.m. to let us know that our plane would not leave until 8:25. ... Read More
Returned from our wonderful Alaskan cruise a week ago. The only "glitch" in our agenda was that we were supposed to leave Tulsa @ 7:10. The airlines called at 2:00 a.m. to let us know that our plane would not leave until 8:25. This meant we would miss our connection. We resolved with a flight @ 6:00 and all went as planned. The embarkation was a breeze with the "U.S. Direct" program at Vancouver. Didn't have to go through customs and went to the bus waiting to take us to the pier. Vancouver was lovely and the weather mild. Upon arriving, we went through the "platinum" line and were aboard within 10 minutes. Quickly went for a late lunch at the Windjammer. Toured the ship until 5:00 departure time. Ketchikan was our first stop and we truly enjoyed all the beautiful scenery (nothing could possibly describe Alaska unless you have been there). We toured the Totem Heritage center and the fish hatchery. We ate at the pirate saloon - absolutely the best clams and sourdough bread EVER! Next stop was Juneau - we were picked up at the pier by "Harv and Marv's" whale watching bus. We stopped briefly at the Mendenhall glacier for some pics and then on to the Marina. Lucky us - we had Jay (Harv) for our guide. Say some Orca and Humpbacks - what a thrill!!! On the way back we did approx. an hour taking in the Mendenhall glacier, close up and it was breath-taking. A little cool for me - but muddled through. Stopped at "Tracy's King Crab" shack back in Juneau for the most delicious king crab lets (and I don't even care much for them). Visited the "Red Dog" saloon for some souvenirs - went back to the ship. Icy Strait Point - The cannery and shops were quaint and enjoyable. Took the $8 bus into the town (?) and there was nothing to do. Did stop at the Marina and saw a 40 pound halibut being cleaned (guess that was the highlight). We walked around the other direction and had a lovely brew at the restaurant and watched the zip-liners. Tendered back to the ship in the afternoon. Skagway - To me this was the best of all - the White Pass and Yukon train ride. We took the train up (lucky us - we were in the last car) and met our bus at the border. Terry with Chilkoot tours was fantastic! He knew so much about the history - and stopped anywhere we wanted to take photos. The lunch at Caribou Crossing was good and enjoyed the museum and sled dogs. Hubbard Glacier was indescribable - lots of calving! Can hardly believe it sounded like we were in a thunder storm - then the "rifle" shot - then the slide into the water. Fabulous!!! Last morning - off the ship and onto another train to Anchorage - took approx. 4 hours but so enjoyable - lunch was good and the scenery (with Beluga whales, moose, and Dall sheep), glacier, etc. was wonderful. Most enjoyable. Left Anchorage @ 8:50 and back to Tulsa, via Houston at 10:30 the next morning. Radiance was a lovely ship and our balcony comfortable. A smaller ship than we had previously been on (comparable to the Century prior to overhaul). Our friends traveling with us had a leak in their cabin #8024 and it was being worked on during the days we were out. There was a very noticeable "bathroom" smell on several of the floors, seems like outside the theater on 5 and the Windjammer on 11 were the worst. Not a killer - loved the trip and hope to go back again someday. Read Less
Sail Date August 2010
This was a family cruise with boys 13 and 16 and a nephew 14. One of the reasons we chose Royal Caribbean was the expectation that it would be most likely to have other teens onboard. We've only been on Disney Cruises before and were ... Read More
This was a family cruise with boys 13 and 16 and a nephew 14. One of the reasons we chose Royal Caribbean was the expectation that it would be most likely to have other teens onboard. We've only been on Disney Cruises before and were expecting to be slightly disappointed with Radiance of the Seas but it exceeded all our expectations. We flew from Philadelphia to Seattle, where we spent a couple days to start our vacation before going to Vancouver to begin our cruise. We stayed at the Marriott in Pioneer Square in Seattle, which was a great place to get the hop on/off bus to the main attractions. We had dinner at the rotating restaurant at the top of the Space Needle, about 610 feet above ground - food was excellent and the view spectacular. It was a clear day and we could even see Mt. Rainier in the distance. It was fun watching the float planes take off and land in the water 610 feet below. We enjoyed the Experience Music Project where there are exhibits of Jimmy Hendrix and lot's of interactive music technology activities; the IMAX presentation of the eruption of Mt. St. Helens, the famous Pike's Place Market where you watch the fish fly thru the air to get packed for customers, and the original Starbucks with its original logo. We took the Amtrak Cascades train from Seattle to Vancouver. This was not only more relaxing, but was much less expensive than driving a rental car to Vancouver. Once in Vancouver, we stayed a few blocks from the cruise terminal at the Marriott Pinnacle. We arrived at night so we only had a half day the next morning to explore Vancouver so we did a bus tour of Stanley Park. The highlight of our short visit at the park was the view of Vancouver from Prospect Point. We saw the Lion's Gate bridge, which has the look of a small Golden Gate bridge. We would late pass under the Lion's Gate bridge on the cruise ship. Checking in at the cruise terminal was fast and efficient. The ship was beautiful, clean, and fun; service was amazing and entertainment was great. We chose two ocean view staterooms rather than a suite because it was less expensive and because it gave us two bathrooms/showers. However, one stateroom was midships and one was the most forward stateroom. My wife and I enjoyed the coffee bar where you can get your latte with a kick, the champagne bar, and colony bar where singer/commedian David Curtis play a different theme nightly. We liked the 5 feet diameter glass floor on the 12 deck where you can walk across and look below clear down to deck 4. Food ranged from good to excellent but for teens it was always excellent. We picked anytime dining rather than a set time, but we were always given the same servers, and they were terrific. The kids tried lots of food that they typically would never order in a restaurant, including escargot. Dinner was always at the main dining room, and was very nice but this is one area where the atmosphere did not compare to the Disney Cruise Ship dining rooms. The wait staff was terrific. When one of the kids ordered a drink that came with a cherry, the server noticed that they all wanted the cherry, so each night they brought a glass of cherries to the table. My wife and I planned one special dinner at Chops for just the two of us. The food, wine, and service at Chops Steak House was excellent and the atmosphere was very enjoyable. Cruise director Dan, was very funny and informative and he really kept the atmosphere on this ship fun and enjoyable. The boys enjoyed rock climbing, golf, the gym, and other activities. They were reluctant to go to the teen club but ended up going near the end of the cruise and had lots of fun and met new friends. We did not have room to take my son's guitar and he was pleased to know that they had an acoustic and electric guitar in the teen club. The RCI website states that the atrium indoor pool was for adults only. Thought this was odd because expected Alaska temperatures would make it too cold for kids to swim in outside pool. However, the atrium had a couple hours each day that were designated family sessions and this was a great compromise. The cruise overall was amazing and was everything i have read or heard about - and more. Our ship visited Ketchikan, Juneau, Icy Straights, Hubbard Glacier, Skagway, and terminated in Seward. At Hubbard Glacier, the calving or white thunder as it is known, was incredible. The Captain maneuvered the ship so that both the port and starboard side, line with cruisers with cameras, got great views of the falling ice. The Captain said it was the best of the season and the show that nature gave us was incredible. Because the ship sails mostly in the inside passage, it was only in the last night in the Gulf of Alaska where we experienced any noticeable ship motion as there were 9 feet seas that night. At various times during the cruise, we saw many whales from our stateroom as they swam in close proximity to the ship. Hubbard Glacier (cruising) rating 5:  The Captain maneuvered the ship within ¼ mile of the front of the tidal glacier.  The blue ice was amazing to see.   You listen for the crackle or watch for the small signs that the glacier is going to calve and drop ice into the ocean.   Hubbard glacier is said to be the most active calving glacier in Alaska.  It was an amazing display of nature. The Captain said it was the best of the season.  After each larger calving event, you watch as a mini tsunami created by the calving ice, races towards the ship.  It is certainly not large enough to result in ship motion that can be felt by passengers.  With everyone lining every available spot on the ship for a view, the Captain maneuvers the ship so both port and starboard sides get a great view of the action.   This was another highlight of the cruiseDisembarking at Seward was simple and efficient. We immediately checked our luggage into the Alaska railway as we would take the Goldstar glass dome train to Anchorage later that evening. The train ride was amazing and is reported in guide books to be among the most beautiful scenery in Alaska - and it did not disappoint. We were on the upper deck of the train in reserved seats, but had a private dining room below where the food was excellent and the view while dining was incredible. We passed waterfalls, glaciers, mountains, and the train even stopped so we could watch a pod of Beluga whales. We arrived in Anchorage at 10 pm and checked into the Anchorage Marriott. Our flight to Philly was at 9 pm the next night. The sites we wanted to see were outside Anchorage and we were too exhausted by then to want to do much, so we had a mostly relaxing day before heading to the airport. We've had some great vacations, but this was really amazing, and highly recommended. We loved our cruise and would certainly sail with RCI again, and are considering the Allure of the Seas for next year. Read Less
Sail Date August 2010
This was our second cruise to Alaska, the first time 7 years ago on the Celebrity Summit. Because we'd been there before, we were less interested in exploring the ports' shopping meccas and more into the adventure excursions. In ... Read More
This was our second cruise to Alaska, the first time 7 years ago on the Celebrity Summit. Because we'd been there before, we were less interested in exploring the ports' shopping meccas and more into the adventure excursions. In that regard, we were not disappointed! As far as the Radiance and RCL, I must say I wasn't that impressed. I found the onboard entertainment and activity offerings lacking, compared to our Celebrity cruise or our two Norweigan Cruise Line's offerings in Hawaii. I was really disappointed that RCL doesn't have any type of welcome party as you board the ship. Being greeted by the crew with a flute of champagne was a real nice touch on NCL and set the tone for a "special" cruise. THE DISH ON DINING: Something has to be done with the dining situation. We chose the late dinner seating and asked to be seated at a "large" table. We were really looking forward to meeting new people. Unfortunately, four of the eight people at our table never showed ... and the other couple was habitually 15-30 minutes late each evening. A look around the dining room showed that we were not alone in the situation. I don't know if the other guests at our table opted for "My time dining" once onboard, or just went to the Windjammer each night, but the end result is not fair to those of us who were hoping for an opportunity to meet new people and share our days over the evening meal. I suppose we could have switched to "My Time Dining" as well, but felt guilty doing that to the other couple. This also seems extremely unfair to the staff as well. And, as far as arriving late to dinner, I saw a huge change in fellow guests' attitudes compared to our last cruise. There were many people who must have thought that 8:30 seating meant "come whenever you want." I think that's just plain rude to both the staff and your tablemates. It was not unusual for us to be ordering dessert at the same time our tablemates were ordering dinner. Perhaps the days of "formal seating" dinners are over? I must say I like NCL's freestyle dining better. We found both the food and service to be exceptional in the MDR. I did enjoy the breakfasts in the MDR, as you were seated at tables as you arrived, so each day brought the opportunity to meet new people. On other cruises, we would eat breakfast at the buffet, but found the food in the Windjammer to be lukewarm at best and not much variety. Had lunch a couple of times in the Seaview Cafe and it was excellent, although service is a little slow and expect your entrees to come out one at a time ... Thoroughly enjoyed the mystery dinner theatre in Portofino's! It was well worth the upcharge. Absolutely loved the "sunflower seed granola bars" in Latte-tudes cafe -- and they're free! RANDOM THOUGHTS: Husband had a stone therapy massage in the spa and loved it. The Solarium is a very nice place to sit and read. I would have liked to have seen a better selection of items for purchase in the ship's stores. We would sit in the Colony Club to read, play cards, etc. Nice quiet space, until BINGO games begin! Our cabin steward was great and the room was well-tended to. Plenty of storage space in the balcony staterooms. The only complaint I had was about Day 5, both the public restrooms and our stateroom restroom "smelled." By the end of the cruise, it was a little overbearing. Okay, so that's my honest opinion of the cruise and cruiseline. I know there are many who love RCL and the Radiance, but of the four cruises I've been on, this would be my least favorite in terms of the ship and our time onboard.   Read Less
Sail Date August 2010
We had the distinct pleasure of sailing on RCI's Radiance of the Seas from Vancouver to Seward. In a nutshell... We choose this ship based first on itinerary. We wanted a one-way route to ensure no 'repeats' and to cover ... Read More
We had the distinct pleasure of sailing on RCI's Radiance of the Seas from Vancouver to Seward. In a nutshell... We choose this ship based first on itinerary. We wanted a one-way route to ensure no 'repeats' and to cover the most scenery possible. Second was food. She and I are almost food snobs. And wine snobs. Ok, we really like good food and wine. Based on reading far too many reviews on cruisecritic, I settled on the Radiance to fulfill both these criteria. Touchdown. The ship is beautiful, and huge. Very clean and light throughout. Our balcony room was perfect. Great use of space and storage. Comfortable bed (we like them firm). Decent size bathroom. Only negative is a shower curtain versus door. While some may feel a balcony is a waste of money, we love to enjoy our room and view and don't always want to dress/whatever to wander the decks. There was not one physical aspect of the ship (save for the shower curtain) that I found lacking. Random thoughts: Vancouver is fantastic. It would be a shame to get in just the day prior to sail since there is so much to see and do. We had four full days and loved every minute. Embarkation was a breeze. Cab dropped us off right next to the porters who took our luggage. We walked through numerous cordoned areas, never waiting. And soon enough, were on the ship. For on-board wine, we had the 7 bottle platinum package. Decent wine selection. Not great, decent—I don't regret our decision but I'm not blown away either. I also opted for the soda plan as I like a lot of soda. Prices and drinks at the bars were actually very good. I pay more for drinks at home. Seriously. Service at dinner was outstanding. I mean...OUTSTANDING! Always available, never obtrusive. As for dress, we are probably the ones that others look down upon. Not that we hate to dress up, but we are very active during the day and hate to eat late. So between shore side activities and our 6pm seating, we just didn't want the extra chore/pressure of dressing formal, or even semi formal. While we caught a few eyes in the dining room, we never felt underdressed from our other table guests or our amazing wait staff. She always managed to look awesome but I never once donned a tie or jacket. (In partial defense, I was also never in jeans, shorts, or t-shirt) So how was the food? Breakfast at the Windjammer was OK. That's all I can say. Selection remained the same. I'm a sucker for fresh fruit and smoked salmon (even if Atlantic farmed) so I was very content, but any forays into the other fare, especially cooked, was always very pedestrian. Generally dry and overcooked after sitting out on the line. Stay "fresh", be happy. Lunch was an improvement. They had a great salad bar and rotated two salads frequently which were awesome, a Thai beef and Thai chicken salad. Get 'em both. Equally appealing was the daily rotating Indian dishes (usually three of them). Always ranging from very good to awesome! Dinner was a touchdown. From app to entrEe to desert, we were always very pleased. I have to give a shout out to the cold soups! Excellent. Nothing was ever overcooked (a huge pet peeve of mine)...from seafood to beef. And I have no doubt that if it were, our wait staff would have corrected it immediately! We did not eat at Chops, but did eat at Portofino. Awesome!! Totally worth the surcharge in my mind but the main dining was so much more than adequate, that I couldn't interest the rest of our party (wife included) to pay a surcharge more than that one time. Not a reflection on Portofino, but a reflection on the main dining. Excursions. We avoided all the ship offerings because we are not fans of big busses and large moving masses of people. (Yes, I can appreciate the irony of that statement while reviewing a cruise). Plus, we are really taken aback at how much the cruise lines take of the cut...generally 25-50%. Instead, I perused the cruisecritic board and found independent contractors along the way. While this did save a little money, it more importantly gave a very personable encounter in each case. Comparing with our dinner mates, we all agreed our excursions seemed much more intimate and rewarding. Plus we felt really good about all our money going to the local operator/owner. So who do we love? Ketchikan: 'alaska seaplane tours' float plane. Ryan (owner) was our pilot/guide and we had the plane to ourselves (3 of us plus him). Misty Fjords and lake landing...with a little mountain goat spotting along the way. Incredible experience and personal service--three cheers for Ryan! By the way, Michelle from Island Wings (another independent cruisecritic favorite) sent us his way when she was full. Military discount. Skagway: Temsco Helicopter glacier tour. I'm sure they are also the service that supplies the ship excursions, but we walked right up without reservations. I would not call the experience "personal" but it was very professional. They have their glacier tour down to a science! Load up three birds, flying tour on the way to the glacier. Climb out onto the ice and be met by their guides that stay on the ice all day. After you get out, the previous tour enters the helos and returns. Lather, rinse, repeat. A very smooth and impressive operation. We loved it. Actually walking on a glacier and exploring its cracks and crevices was an awesome treat. 40 minutes on ice. We then rented a car from Avis and headed to the Yukon. Beautiful scenery and live black bear encounter. No mil discounts. Juneau: Hopped on a shuttle to Mendenhall glacier. $7 each way or $5 for military. Explored on our own. Bear scat, but no bears. Beautiful glacier and pleasant easy hiking. Then Orca Enterprises for an afternoon of whale watching. Very nice and comfortable boat with good seating, huge windows, head, and ample outdoor space, not too big or too small. Upper deck for increased visibility when stationary. Great experience and sightings. Significant mil discount. Icy Straits or Hoonah: one word, TECKK Outfitters. Ok, that was two words. We had originally contacted them for just a morning of bear searching. Edna (co-owner) handled the preliminaries. Very courteous and prompt with answers. Required no money down. Keith, her husband, did the touring. Picked us up outside the boat area, swung us by his house to pick up his pup (Trigger) and let out his geese...all the way giving a tour of Hoonah. Then he dropped off half the van occupants at the dock for their morning of whale watching as the three of us (4 counting Trigger) headed into the bush in search of bear. Seriously. The four of us (ok, five if we count Keith) heading over old forest service roads deep into the back country! We couldn't have asked for more personal, attentive service. Within minutes, I felt like family. Keith is as open and good natured as they come. We really felt like we were penetrating the real Alaska with a real Alaskan! After four hours of deep and persistent searching, we came back with no bear sightings...such is the reality when trying to find a wild animal out in the wild, but we had zero regrets. When we come again, and we will, there will be no need to call anyone else. In fact, we had such a great experience with Keith and his organization that even though we had just whale toured the prior day in Juneau, we opted to hop aboard his boat for the afternoon tour. Wow. WOW! The boat is new and totally equipped for rough seas and full fishing assemblage. And in true TECKK fashion, the experience was very personal...boat has room for pilot and lookout, and 5 guests. That's it! We spent the next four hours zipping across Point Adolphus with more whales, to include full breaches, than we could keep a count of! I'm not lying, whales were everywhere and we were right in the middle of them! Oh, and just to show the fickle nature of bears, Keith's afternoon tour ran across three large brown bears! Mil discount. In Seward, disembarkation was equally quick and efficient. We rented a full size Yukon from Hertz for the one way drive to Anchorage. Hertz picked us up at the port and drove us to the store about a quarter mile away. It was a bit pricey, but really not much more per person than any of the "coach" offerings...plus we were in full control of our stops. Visited Exit Glacier (nice), the Wildlife Refuge Center (awesome), and took the tram up Alyeska Resort (breath taking). The weather was perfect. And in hindsight, so was our trip. Special thanks to Royal Caribbean, Ryan at 'alaska seaplanes', Orca Enterprises in Juneau, Temsco in Skagway, and Keith at TECKK for a truly remarkable week! Read Less
Sail Date August 2010
Hello to all, and thank you fellow cruisers for your reviews. This is my 4th RCI cruise--the priors being in the Caribbean: Voyager x 2, then Oasis. Getting on/off the ship, dining, activities, etc. are all identical to the Caribbean trips ... Read More
Hello to all, and thank you fellow cruisers for your reviews. This is my 4th RCI cruise--the priors being in the Caribbean: Voyager x 2, then Oasis. Getting on/off the ship, dining, activities, etc. are all identical to the Caribbean trips and are smooth. RCI ships are fairly standard in their offerings in terms of service and pricing. In the dining room, the service is excellent, and for the food, I grade the appetizers an A, main courses B, and deserts a D. Cabins in the Radiance class are similar to Voyager and Oasis class at the same levels. The interiors are excellent with lots of artwork, etc. Night entertainment was similar in quality and scope to Caribbean trips--mixes of singers, comedians, dance, etc. There's no aqua show or full musical like Oasis, but the rest are the same. Featured acts were the Royal Caribbean singers/dancers (4 singers, 8 dancers), the Unexpected Boys, a version of The Drifters, and a comedian. In addition, the opening night was an Argentinian Tango dancer, with added comedy, circus acts, etc. His wife is in the show and they stayed the week--she works the loyalty desk, so they must have some employment with RCI. There are daytime lectures, one featured a Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Cruise direction--Dan Whitney is solid as any. Being our fourth RCI cruise, we are hearing the same jokes and routines, so would be nice of them to write some new material. Also the Captain (Bjorn something)fancies himself to be a part time comedian. There were several events for Crown and Anchor society members. We took the Northbound Alaskan trip, so you fly to Vancouver the night before, and cab to the port is around $35. Passports are required. Getting off the ship is Seward, and the bus to Anchorage is around $80 (2.5 hours), train at $100 and 4 hours. It is a very scenic ride. Since the ship arrives on Friday morning, we decided to return home Saturday night. This allowed for a day trip in Seward (see below), and a day to explore Anchorage. Port reviews/decisions: Kechikan. We did the Bear Creek Zip line--lots of fun for us and kids. They train you well to zip and plenty of safety measures. Almost anyone can do this other than severe disabilities. Icy Straight Point: We did the sea kayak trip. This was fun for a while when we saw whales at a distance. Other than that--lots of paddling across the wind with tired, whinny kids--pick something else. Although the port seems minimal, there are good hiking trails and shore fronts you can explore. Fresh and expensive crab at the peer--probably worth it. Juneau--we did the Mendenhall raft float. This is scenic as can be. Its a light rafting trip in that there are rapids, but the guide does all the paddling and you just sit there. So if you like no work you'r in luck, but if your expecting dramatic Colorado style paddling it will disappoint. Afterwards, we paid the $25 to ride the Mt Roberts Tramway--there are light hiking trails on the top, a restaurant with a bar, and great scenery. Skagway--definitely do the White pass rail or a tour that includes this--great for scenic photos. You will still have half a day remaining to explore the town. We hiked up to a nearby Lake. The town is small and feels like an extension of Disney's Epcott park. Seward--we did the all day tour that includes time to shop in Seward, a 5 hour Resurrection bay boat cruise with food, and then bus ride to Anchorage. We enjoyed this very much--great scenery and wildlife. The boat has a climate controlled downstairs for dining, and open upstairs decks. So overall, we spent about $600/person on side trips--much more than on a 7 day Caribbean trip, but worth it and unique. Combined with airfare, this makes the cruise a larger investment than the Caribbean. It is also worth the expense, as the cruising in the Inside passage and Hubbard Glacier are wonderful and more interesting than a standard Caribbean sea day with nothing but open water in view. Its kind of refreshing to be wearing winter cloths in July. On that note--we went first week of August which is probably the peak week for weather. Ketchikan, for example, has on average only 30 non-raining days/year, and we hit one of them. Read Less
Sail Date July 2010
You will get the GREAT and the "okay" about this cruise in this review. We LOVED the experience AND have a few suggestions. EMBARKATION: Embarkation was probably the worst organized portion of this entire trip. The Vancouver ... Read More
You will get the GREAT and the "okay" about this cruise in this review. We LOVED the experience AND have a few suggestions. EMBARKATION: Embarkation was probably the worst organized portion of this entire trip. The Vancouver staff was down to boarding using one entrance (they said they usually use 2) and they didn't think of a simple way to organize people. The result? Lots of people trying to cut in front of others. Even if you were in a Suite or a Priority Member, it did you no good! Not the way to start the cruise off. Good news? That was as bad as it got (which wasn't that bad and had NOTHING to do with the ship itself or their particular crew). CABIN: The 2 bedroom suite we had for the 8 of us was perfect. Our balcony looked straight off the back of the ship (with a slight view off the Starbird View side). Great setup. Our suite attendant was a joy to work with - always taking care of whatever we needed. Her towel creations for the boys EVERY NIGHT went above and beyond (up to 3 different animals a night for the different rooms in the cabin)!! If something was needed, she took care of it. DINING: The dining room staff was fabulous. We had 6 teenagers and preteens. They all loved dinner and the wait staff (one night chanting our waiter's name as they entered the dining room). The adults also appreciated the overwhelming customer service. The only complaint on the dining experience was the Menu a couple of nights. Not enough variety and/or simple options. Ironically, the older individuals in our group wanted a simper menu than what was offered a couple of the nights and said this was their only disappointment with the dining room experience. The Windjammer was good for breakfast and lunch. VERY NICE setup - you'll felt like you were in a restaurant instead of a cafeteria and we were always able to find a table. We enjoyed the after hours restaurant called the "SeaView Cafe" - everyone wish they had pizza on their menu (they don't). Sandwiches were okay. The fries were very good!! ENTERTAINMENT: NEED MORE VARIETY on the main stage!! Too many singers and/or song productions (2 hour productions involving singing plus 2 GUEST SINGING GROUPS on a 7 night trip). Everyone agreed the House Productions were not strong enough and so this made the lack of variety more apparent. ACTIVITIES: ABSOLUTELY FANTASTIC for all ages. Everyone had something to do at anytime they wanted (young children through adults of all ages). The children's program on the Royal Caribbean line is such a BLESSING for families. All I can say is "WOW!!" Our boys had the time of their lives which meant the world to our experience!! Plus, we and them always felt safe and free to move around the ship. OVERALL: This trip was a vacation we will always treasure - much to the credit of the Radiance of the Seas and their staff!!! Treat yourself to this experience sometime soon!! Read Less
Sail Date July 2010
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