83 Sydney (Australia) Royal Caribbean Radiance of the Seas Cruise Reviews

My wife and I travelled with our family - children and grandchildren - we had cruised before but none of the others had.  The cruise was terrific in that the grandchildren were well catered for - food, entertainment, port activities - but ... Read More
My wife and I travelled with our family - children and grandchildren - we had cruised before but none of the others had.  The cruise was terrific in that the grandchildren were well catered for - food, entertainment, port activities - but you MUST remember to take you own reef shoes, goggles, snorkel and flippers - thankfully they did.  The adults enjoyed the experience and the benefits of cruising life - including the kids club and kids entertainment/activities.  Our reading said the ship had a re-furb in 2011 - our daughter suggested it was a 'soft' re-refurb as there were parts of the ship that still looked 'tired'.  Staff were polite and reasonably friendly but seemed to lack the 'zest' for their jobs - it was like they were going through the motions.  Having said that we were super impressed by our waiters in the Cascades Restaurant - they were brilliant - they were patient with the children and attentive, knowledgeable and courteous with the adults.  The same could not be said for the fee-for restaurant Chops Grille - the meal was quite good but the service left a lot to be desired, mainly due to being short staffed, very short staffed - I had no qualms about tipping in Cascades but didn't even consider it in Chops - give it the Chop.  We had anytime dining but because of the size of the group were able to secure a regular time slot but our observations were that there was always a wait to be seated if you didn't have a booking - no matter what size your party was - at better choice may have been set time where the dining room/area seemed to be slightly better - but we did have the best waiters/servers you could ask for.  My wife and I continually compared this cruise with the cruises aimed at the adult market and we did find that it didn't compare but we were there for a family holiday and in that sense - mission accomplished. Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
This was my 6th cruise, 1st time on Royal Caribbean. I had heard lots of good things about RC so I was a little disappointed. Firstly I agree with some of the comments others have made here; greatly under staffed in areas. Whilst the staff ... Read More
This was my 6th cruise, 1st time on Royal Caribbean. I had heard lots of good things about RC so I was a little disappointed. Firstly I agree with some of the comments others have made here; greatly under staffed in areas. Whilst the staff do their utmost, they are run off their feet. Most mornings there was a 30 - 40 minute wait for coffee at the Cafe and the quality of the coffee was appalling. My biggest complaint would have to be the quality of the food and cocktails. I purchased a drinks package prior to departing. If I had know that all cocktails are pre-mixed out of a carton I probably would not have done so. They were horrible sugary, artificial tasting crap! I tried to think up cocktails that might not come out of a carton and decided on a caprioska to be told they had no limes, then mysteriously on the last day, they had no lemons only limes!! Go figure. Even some of the food tasted like it came out of a packet. Eggs benedict served with a packet mix sauce and most of the desserts were a gelatinous packet mix concoction. Christmas lunch / dinner was a disappointment as stated by others. the entertainment was disappointing also. No sailaway parties and Christmas and New Year were celebrated in the centrium which was only a small are where a few could actually join in leaving the rest of us to hang over the railings on the upper levels watching and not being able to join in. why not have it up on the deck pools side where there was a lot more room and also not so stuffy and hot?? it didn't make sense. Having been on P&O, Princess and now Royal Caribbean I would say P&O have the best value, food and drinks. Royal do have a nice ship and Princess... I think I'll wait another 10 - 20 years before I go back on one of their cruises. Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
Firstly, we are a couple in the late 40's to 50 bracket, and this trip was a large part of that 50th birthday present!This was our 6th cruise, in different parts of the world, and put us up to Emerald class. We left the UK a week ... Read More
Firstly, we are a couple in the late 40's to 50 bracket, and this trip was a large part of that 50th birthday present!This was our 6th cruise, in different parts of the world, and put us up to Emerald class. We left the UK a week before the sailing flying Emirates to Singapore, where we have relatives, and spend a few busy days enjoying the atmosphere and good food. We have been here several times and can recommend the night zoo, Sentosa Island and the many nature walks in the rainforest where you come across monkeys, turtles, lizards and the occasional snake in their natural environment! We then flew o/night to Sydney with Qantas and stayed in the Sydney Boulevard Hotel for 3 nights. Its located just out of the C.B.D. but for the price, harbour view and great walks we had through the parks to Circular quay, we cannot fault it. We did the Bridge Climb [excellent!}, Sydney Opera House tour {very good!} and a full day tour with a small local company to the Blue Mountains {excellent!}. On cruise day we got a taxi, with the grumpiest most miserable driver ever, to the O.P.T. and after the usual boarding procedure got to see our home for the next 2 weeks. This was the first time we have been on a Radiance size ship, having been on both smaller and larger, and overall it was a good balance. Plenty of space {inside and out}, plenty of restaurants to try {foods a big part of any cruise!} and well signposted, although it did take one of us most of the cruise to find our way about! We got into our cabin around 1pm and had booked a JS on the midship port side as this meant we would see the land on cruising clockwise around NZ. The cabin was large,clean, airy and had a large walk in cupboard. The bath is a must for us for health reasons, and was full sized, tiled and mould free! The bed was comfy and the balcony spacious with table and 2 chairs. { had space for an extra lounger} We always had hot water and everything worked as it should, so can't ask for much more. Ok, will break down the cruise as best I can from here. Crew As usual they mostly worked hard to provide a good overall experience, with standouts being the cabin stewards{as usual}, the waiters in the main dining room and the cruise director. Food We had anytime dining which was the best we have had. Food always well prepared and hot. Waiters knew your likes etc after a few days and we always asked and got extra veggies as this was always lacking on the plate. The dining room was large,sometimes noisy, but with glass all around and well decorated was a nice place to have your dinner and meet new friends. We tried Chops Grill {twice!] Izumi, Giovani's Table and Samba Grill during the 2 weeks. No need to tell you our favourite, but all excellent except the Italian. It was good but I think the problem we had was that there are lots of good Italians around which did not make this anything special or worth the extra money. My wife says the speciality coffee at cafe Latittudes was excellent, so that was her morning sorted! This was a port intensive cruise with the exception of the 2 days at sea either end. We are not big drinkers{anymore} so the drinks packages were not for us. That said, we enjoyed the odd bottle of wine with dinner. Entertainment Cruise director Amy was a live wire! I think she terrified some of the passengers particularly if they tried to leave the theatre at the end of the show before she had said her bit. She was seen to chase a few up the aisle and back to their seats! The shows in the main theatre were mainly excellent with a higher than normal number of headline acts brought onboard. We were knackered most evenings after early rises and full days ashore and with the exception of dinner and a show we headed for bed early most evenings so cannot say to much about the bars and other entertainment. Shore Excursions Before we came on the cruise we had all but one of our excursions booked with local small independent tours which were significantly cheaper than the ships. Only one let us down at the last minute but we replaced it easily locally. All of our excursions were well run,informative and in small groups and we believe we saw and learned more as a result. Leaving Disembarking went well and only took about 20 mins. We had booked a hotel the other side of Circular Quay for 2 nights and just pulled the cases for 10 mins. The hotel was the Sir Stamford. This is one of the best hotels we have ever stayed in. I chanced my arm on booking re an upgrade for the birthday and surprisingly got one. We had a large room overlooking Circular Quay, bridge and Opera house and got to watch the ships come and go. Breakfast was excellent as were the staff. Took the ferry to the zoo opposite{high quality zoo} and went to Manly. One of the highlights though was walking the coastal path from Bondi to Cougee. Magnificent views! Had a 3 night stopover in Dubai after the 14.5 hr flight and stayed in the Radisson Blu at the Creek. Excellent hotel and location with metro lines nearby. Had a fantastic holiday and life experience and working on next cruise trip!   Read Less
Sail Date November 2014
We arrived half an hour early, fortunately for us, as those that arrived later must have a worse experience. Due to work being done on the terminal, we were led into a large tent and progressed quickly through the usual mazelike system ... Read More
We arrived half an hour early, fortunately for us, as those that arrived later must have a worse experience. Due to work being done on the terminal, we were led into a large tent and progressed quickly through the usual mazelike system until, about two lines from the exit, we stopped. We stood there for about two hours, with no food or drink supplied, or even available for sale, and no information given about the delay. We found out later it was partly due to a breakdown in the camera used to take our photos for our cruise card. Further delay was caused by having to obtain a visa for Bali, which could have been done later, as we would not be there for about eight days. It took about three hours to get to our cabin ( Stateroom - are they trying to make it sound better than it is?), The worst parts about all this was the lack of info, and the fact that there were many aged and incapacitated people in the line, and they were not offered seating or sustenance while in the cue. In fact, I started to call it a Cue Ship, not a Cruise Ship. They a great point of the fact that people who book land tours through the ship get preference on the tenders, They did on the way to shore, when it suited the ship, but when returning to the ship after a tour, you got in the line with all the people who had gone ashore on their own, More cueing! Some of the tours were very ordinary, but there were some very good ones - Darwin War History and The Wildlife and Bird Sanctuary at Geralton were very good. The choices on the menu in the dining room were a bit repetitive, but the food was good. The table waiter, Richard, was brilliant, and so was our cabin steward. The cabin was average for a cruise ship, although the shower was very small. Due to the large number od days "at sea" some of the onboard facilities were stretched. Finding a card table in the prescribed area was difficult. Generally the ship was comfortable, and we had no complaints about the normal functioning of it. One thing which does annoy me is the price of wine in the restaurant. When they pay no tax on it and still want to charge about four time the price I can buy the same bottle in my local shop, I call this gouging. But this applies to all cruise lines, not just RCI.   Read Less
Sail Date October 2014
The Good. Being a bit up the loyalty level helps for a speedy embarkation. From the wharf to my cabin in less than 15 minutes. I did a "walk off" (take your own luggage) disembarkation and I must have blinked and missed it. This ... Read More
The Good. Being a bit up the loyalty level helps for a speedy embarkation. From the wharf to my cabin in less than 15 minutes. I did a "walk off" (take your own luggage) disembarkation and I must have blinked and missed it. This was my third cruise on the Radiance and as before the food in the Windjammers was really enjoyable. Best buffet on any ship I have been on. That's it for the good. The Bad. Entertainment? What entertainment? There were no guest performers for the first five days. In our last port before coming home we picked up The Beatnix who did a pretty good job of taking off the Beatle, a hypnotist who spent about half an hour too long on stage and a comedian from Boston who was pretty good but only on for thirty minutes. Staff levels are declining as i have seen over the past four years or so which is very noticeable around the bar areas. Almost impossible to see a drink waiter on the prowl especially around the main pool. As for happy hours, they seem to be a thing of the past no the beverage packages have appeared. My last cruise on the Rhapsody in March this year saw cocktail happy hours in the casino every sea day afternoon. Just one solitary happy hour this trip at 6:00pm on the last night when most people have had enough and are packing their bags. As for my cabin. It was one of the new cabins built last refit when they trimmed a corner off the main dining room. These are midships on deck four and being so close to the machinery spaces have a constant humming vibration coming from the diesel generators. So if you are a light sleeper you might want to give this area a miss. And as for the air conditioner in my room. I can only describe it as uncomfortably warm set on minimum temp. The Ugly. Once again RCCL have found ways of relieving you of your money. Rita's Cantina used to be at the back of the windjammers bistro with reasonably priced food (which I think one shouldn't have to pay for anyway) and happy hour margaritas very afternoon. It is now called Rita's Crab Shack and the cheapest thing on the menu is a hamburger and fries ( next door for free) for USD $11.50. Movies in your cabin have gone to $11.95 for a new release. So be careful what you do with your remote, it's easy to slip one onto your account at the flick of a button. And now for the real ugly. If you want to gamble you will be slugged 5% surcharge to draw out USD to use on the tables and slots. And beer prices. Well I am still fuming over the rise in beer prices since my last cruise in march this year. A stubbie of XXXX was $5.25 and is now $7.25. And that's USD, so do the conversion and that's AUD $8.34. And finally, if you forget to take a bottle of water ashore with you when you hit Noumea you will be slugged USD $6.00 for a 500 ml bottle at the information terminal.   Read Less
Sail Date October 2014
We have now done 3 Cruises on 3 different Cruise Lines, we are not loyal to any one line and always look for the best overall Deal. So with that in mind I will do a Comparison of our 3 Cruises. 2012 Holland America Zuderdum Alsaka 2013 ... Read More
We have now done 3 Cruises on 3 different Cruise Lines, we are not loyal to any one line and always look for the best overall Deal. So with that in mind I will do a Comparison of our 3 Cruises. 2012 Holland America Zuderdum Alsaka 2013 Carnival Spirit South Pacific 2014 Royal Carribean Radiance of the Seas South Pacific Embarkment Holland America excellent took about 30mins Carnival also excellent about 40mins Royal Carribean not so good lined up in a hot tent of about 300 people took about 40mins to get to the front only to findout that there was another even longer line inside the passanger terminal took about 90mins in the heat standing all the time. Rating 1 HAL 2 Carnival 3 RCI Cabins All had very similar layouts but not all the same in size. HAL and Carnival were both about equal. Royal Carribean was much smaller, especially the shower it felt so very cramped and was almost impossible to stop water getting all through the bathroom floor. 1 Carnival 2 HAL 3 RCI Food Lido deck / Breakfast/Lunch Would have to say that the Breakfast on all 3 ships had the same offerings everyday and were quite OK, Lunch however was different. The quality of the food was much better on HAL and RCI than that offered on Carnival, However Carnival had better Variety. 1 HAL 2 RCI 3 Carnival Main Dining Room Here is were the difference in the quality of the food was most evident, both HAL and RCI had resturant quality food Carnival on the other hand had what I consider Pub food, still OK but no where near RCI or HAL Overall food rating 1 HAL ( just ) 2 RCI 3 Carnival Entertainment Whilst all 3 lines had events designed to get you into the Spa and or Fitness areas were they could sell you Extra treatments etc, RCI had gone overboard with it, everyday there was at lest 6/7 "Activities" designed around this and repeated everyday. RCI also scheduled Trivia/ games at times that clashed with Dinner and shows. The nightly shows with the line singing and dance groups were better on HAL and Carnival than RCI but RCI had more Guest artists and they were excellent. 1 Carnival 2 RCI ( the guest artists out weighed the Spa and Gym issue ) 3 HAL Staff I cant split the lines here all the staff we encountered on all lines were exceptional Tendering did not need to tender with HAL, but Carnival and RCI we did need ti tender to some of the Pacific Islands, Carnival handled this very well and issued tickets for specific times to get onto the Tenders, RCI had no such system and the wait for a tender was 2 floors long. 1 Carnival 2 RCI Disembarkment Very good for all 3 and they all used the same system Ship layout All 3 ships had similar layouts, one issue we had with RCI was trying to get a lift from floor 7 to the MDR for our 6pm setting, it was impossible they were always full and we had to walk to the MDR every night which is not that much of an issue but was for the people with walking frames/wheelchairs. I dont know why it was such an issue on RCI. One issue we had with Carnival Spirit is that the MDR and Theater were on lower decks and my Wife felt like she was being pushed down into the floor, Spirit also had a very noticable vibration through out the ship 24/7 when we asked some the crew they said it had been there when they joined the ship. So in summary it depends what you most want in a cruise as the lines are good at some things but not at others, for us we will continue to seek out the best deals, hopefully Celebrity will be our next Cruise line depending on the Deal we can get. One thing for sure because of the vibration and pressure my wife felt on Carnival Spirit we will not Cruise on the Spirit again   Read Less
Sail Date October 2014
I am 50-60 yr old single lady passenger, who chose Radiance of the Seas particularly because of its lovely balconies - glass all the way for me! Cabin #7024 (front, port) was just adequate, but I think represented value for money for 2 ... Read More
I am 50-60 yr old single lady passenger, who chose Radiance of the Seas particularly because of its lovely balconies - glass all the way for me! Cabin #7024 (front, port) was just adequate, but I think represented value for money for 2 people. (I have also written an extensive Cabin Review so will not double up on that info here.) The itinerary was chosen to coincide with my birthday AND include NZ's Bay of Islands, as well as depart from a logical point (ie I would not travel from Brisbane to NZ because there would be more sea days.) I travelled with a female friend that I spend my youth with, and had recently made a re-acquaintance. It felt it should be great to travel with someone-else. We boarded the ship at Sydney, Australia, headed for 13 nights to New Zealand, travelling from the south to the north. A tip - ask the taxi to drop you off at Circular Quay *STATION* (Alfred St), rather than the OPT drop-off as it can take a long time to get around to the departure point in a car, whereas it is a short trundle along an interesting part of the quay from the station, which is not usually that busy early in the morning. There was an early drop-off area for big cases, so we only had to manage our smaller cases to get on board. RCI states that we should board in accordance to our deck number so we waited around a while (had breakfast) then went to the (short) line about 1 hour before the time stated. The port personnel said to go on through, as the ship would be only TOO happy to have us on board asap, so we could start spending money on drinks! We had to complete departure info for outgoing passengers, as well as a statement about our health. All very easy. In the OPT, we received our cruise-keycard (a combined door-entry and charge card). There were the obligatory ship photos before passing through the security screening, then a final photo check as we boarded the vessel (this is matched to your cruise card, so they can see who is coming and leaving using that card). Boarding was well organised and relatively quick - about one hour - so we were at the Centrum by 1:30pm, our 'original' boarding time! As we entered the Centrum (a magnificent void running from Deck 3 to Deck 11 in the centre of the ship), we were able to sign up for various 'drinks packages' and specialty restaurants. Unless you are intending to imbibe a fair bit, you should first weigh up the costs of your drinking habits to check if these represent value for money. You can always sign up later in the comfort of your room, courtesy of the clever account system available on internal video. I had deliberately booked early on this cruise, to get a specific cabin, #7024. I wanted the port side (as land would be on that side) and I wanted to try a balcony, so that I could enjoy proximity to the outdoors in the comfort of a cabin. I also wanted to be nearer the front, as I love to watch and hear the crashing waters against the hull of the ship. This was only my 3rd time cruising, once was working in the children's program as a young uni student (tiny inside cabin in the bowels of the ship) and a recent 7 day cruise from Fremantle to Broome (West Aust), in a window cabin. On arrival in our cabin, I was disappointed to find the bed made up as a double and not twins as requested when booking, Obviously there is someone in the chain that does not particularly care about their job, or was not able to read the instructions... There was a standard note saying a request to the Room Attendant would see this rectified. (A waste of their time, which on the first day, must be very busy!) Our Cabin Attendant was a pleasant fellow from Indonesia. He performed his duties to a level I would have expected, but not anything above that. He was always gracious, especially when we were in the room at the time he hoped to prepare it. Our Cruise Critic contributors had arranged to meet at 3:30pm at the Sky Bar to get to know everyone, so we headed to Deck 11 (Windjammers Buffet) for lunch and then walked around to try to find the bar. It was right in the hot sun, and not a pleasant place to be at that time of day! I saw the organiser, but she was heading back downstairs, so I wasn't sure of what was happening, so we ended up going back to our room to start unpacking. We had to attend the safety drill (without life jackets) and our designated meeting place was the Aurora Theatre, a well-designed entertainment area, in which we spent many evenings. Soon after that our cases arrived so we unpacked. At the departure, we were happily taking photos of the Opera House & Harbour Bridge, when my camera battery went flat. I raced back to my room, only to find my key-card would not work!!! Most distressing!! So, I missed some of the departure trying to get that rectified. Apparently ANY contact with ANYthing magnetised (like a credit card or camera) will demagnetise it, and it has to be replaced. I had to do that 2x over the cruise, and I bet 100s of others did, too! A simple instruction & warning when receiving the card could have prevented this annoyance. We had very calm sea days across the Tasman (unbelievable!) with just a gentle rolling 2m swell from the south west. Took a few Kwells in the early days to ensure the "motion from the ocean" didn't overcome me! (Had also been taking ginger tablets in the week leading up to it, but have no idea if they worked.) There was always plenty to do on board, and activities catered to a variety of interests, although if you were a regular cruiser, you would have probably seen them all before. I would have liked to have seen some more educational / informative activities, but they were mainly catering for “fun” times. It seemed as soon as one activity was over, it was time to eat again! I have a theory that there are 2 types of people on board - the 'early risers' and the 'late stayers'. We tried to be both for a while, but I couldn't keep up the pace! I regret that I didn't go to know any other fellow travellers very well. It seemed that most were couples and family groups. We generally ate at the Buffet and although food was tasty enough, it always had a "same-ness" about it. As a vegetarian, I found offerings WAY too short on vegetarian protein. Only had chick peas, and that only sometimes, although always baked beans at breakfast time. Once when I couldn't find ANY protein at lunch, I asked one of the staff, and he quickly fried up some tofu squares, which were absolutely tasteless because they had not been soaked in any flavours. The three times we had dinner in the MDR (had My Choice Dining), there were only 2 vegetarian choices on the menu and they were the same. Others said the menu changes were good, but not for me, unfortunately (or maybe I just managed to jag the nights with the same choices??). Couldn't stomach eating risotto or linguine EVERY night of the week! I tried to eat the usual portions I would have at home, but occasionally strayed to have beautiful afternoon teas and desserts towards the end of the trip. Detested the way the wait staff constantly referred to the desserts as "yummy-yummies" - "Would you like some yummy-yummies?" Loved the banana-crumble in the buffet but after seeing it served up repeatedly, or as pear-crumble, was a bit disappointed they never quite got around to making an apple crumble, as the crumble WAS delicious! Salads were tasty and plentiful with a satisfactory variety over the 2 weeks. Unfortunately, a lot of the fresh fruit was tasteless, probably from being bought too early, and not allowed to ripen sufficiently before use. I never tried any of the specialty restaurants - probably too much of a miser to pay the extra US$30pp to book? The buffet breakfasts had a selection of at least 6 (packet) cereals, the same 2 cheap yogurts (plain or strawberry), fresh fruits (no thanks!), pastries, standard English breakfast, delicious potato gems (the item that was eaten the MOST of, all cruise - so not just by me!), English muffins or toast (that you could have used to tile a wall with, they were so hard - until slightly softened by well placed eggs, tomatoes or baked beans) and jams. There were little "yummies" available at morning tea, too, I think, but we hardly were there at that time. Lunches were standard cold meats and spreads, a variety of salads, and I can't remember what else! Pastries? I mainly kept an eye out for vegetarian foods, so didn't commit to memory other foods that were on offer. I'm not a big foodie, so this was not a great importance to me - as long as I could find something I thought would agree with my philosophy and taste-buds, I was happy! A variety of desserts also available, but many seemed to have that "out of a packet", or pre-cooked and defrosted look. However, the chocolate syrup was to die for, and I reckon that must have been the 2nd most popular food choice in the buffet! Buffet dinners always had choices of roasts, Indian, hamburgers, hot or cold vegies and lovely desserts. Once again, vegetarians not well catered for... so I mostly ended up with plates of roasted vegies (oh, and potato gems, of course!) I stuck to water, orange 'fruit juice' or watered-down lemonade and some hot chocolate (in packets) when the weather cooled, but you could have bought wines and beers. Hot water (a little tepid, so passengers "don't burn themselves - safe, you stay safe") available all night in Hot Dog area (which was hardly EVER used, probably because there was so few kids) for self-serve teas, coffee & hot chocolate. Room Service menu not extensive and quite ordinary - nothing special there but its free up until midnight. Be careful though! One night I ordered Room Service around 8:30pm as I had been feeling ill that evening from a heavy cold I had developed, so had got into my pjs and was resting in bed. My travel buddy was out at a show. When finished eating, I took the plate and tray and dutifully left it outside the door, as I had seen fellow passengers doing. Suddenly the ship gently rolled, and 'CLICK', my door closed! And me with no key card around my neck and in my winter pjs - and feeling crook to boot! I just sat there dismally for about 15 mins before thinking I might wander out to the lift area to see if there was a phone nearby. There was (and no guests, thank goodness) - not that I knew which number to call! I remembered the room service number and dialled that - the lass said in broken English she would let 'someone' know. ~40 mins later & still no-one. A fellow passenger had been passed and given me commiserations, but I was too ill to think to ask if she could ring someone for me - and she was too tipsy to care! Luckily, a staff member with a few stripes on his sleeve walked into our passageway, so I called him back, and FORTUNATELY he could get straight into my room! What a relief! When I rang Room Service to let them know I was back in my room, it was if I had never called in the first place. Absolutely NO recollection of any request to get back into a room! Even the Room Manager knew nothing about it! I did not do any of the ship's tours as I found them far too expensive, so I did all my own planning and booking on the internet, reading reviews on Trip Advisor. Used a hire car at Dunedin, Tauranga & Paihai (Bay of Islands). Phoned a place in Paihia to work out the best way to get 20kms to Kawiti Glow Worm Caves and found the cheapest option was to hire a car (Rent-A-Dent - a good guy, and knowledgeable). I know these car tour businesses only have the cruise season to make their money but charging $40pp to get just out of town is unethical, I reckon. It would have cost us $80, but the car hire was only $65! Getting around was made easier by internet pre-planning but I still managed to forget my way out of an Eco-Sanctuary near Dunedin, so I quickly decided to spend some $$$ on the ship's internet that evening and printed out the maps I had created earlier on MapMyRide, plus I was happy to use public transport if available. We also found being interested in one part of a trip meant we had to miss out on other parts planned. Road works nearly all the way down from Tauranga to Rotorua, on Pyes Pa Rd (we went to AgroVentrues to do the Swoop & Jetboating - the Freefall wasn't operating), and the State Highway (on the return journey) made timing awkward, so we had to forgo a planned stop-off at Hell's Gates. Didn't mind too much, as we had a great tour at Te Puia, and learned a lot about Maori Culture and had seen the famous Pohutu Geyser gushing steam and boiling water. We also found bus timetables not very reliable in Auckland, so missed a booked activity that afternoon rather than try to catch another taxi (we had already just missed a train to a venue, so by this time, my travel buddy was losing it! She had missed out on a planned massage and had to sit around doing nothing whilst I had mine, because the place did not honour their agreement with us but we had to dash, & I never found out why that happened. I copped a fair bit of verbal abuse from her after the trip - so be wary of who you take as a travel companion! I also found out she HATED public transport, when we came across a fellow bus passenger talking loudly to himself - and us? He had such a rich tone and a theatrical sounding voice, and reminded me of Peter O'Toole. I'm sure he would have been fascinating to get to know!) We saw some excellent shows on board - in particular "multi"-musician Danny Elliot, and the Radiance Singers & Dancers put on some cheesy but beautifully choreographed shows. Back drops were outstanding! Hypnotist good but quite tame. Was oddly funny (but not for the hypnotised) to see them barking and quacking when someone shook their hand, after the show (definitely NOT PC!). Most informative was the commentary through the Fiordlands (Milford, Doubtful & Dusky Sounds) by an ex-ranger, who knew the place like the back of his hand, but it was not always possible to hear what he was saying. Funniest moments had to be the Captain / Cruise Director Cake Decorating Competition. Couldn't help but laugh at the Captain's antics! New Zealand has such beautiful scenery and is a country I'll certainly want to go back to explore in a little more depth. I think my favourite places were Akaroa, where we did a boat trip called Coast Up Close in the morning, and in the afternoon, took a ride up into the hills on a Honda Goldwing 1500cc with a sidecar, and Bay of Islands, where we went to Hole in the Rock and then down to the lovely Kawiti Glow Worm Caves. We had perfect weather, too! The worst features of Radiance were the cheap jewellery and watches being sold at high prices, and the exhorbitant prices for optional extras (ship photos @ $25ea, specialty dining, Chef's Table @ US$135, Salon Services - although I did have an acupuncture session @US$155, and went to the hairdressers once, and had a Fire & Ice pedicure, plus bought some products - which are all far too expensive to warrant buying / using. There were SO many photos left on the last day, and taking them has been a waste, even though the quality is good. Lower the prices, and you'll improved your sales! Although maybe they are busy already, with those who are a little more cashed-up? I also refused to see the doc when I fell ill, as I had been told it was $50 to make an appointment, another $50 for the visit, and another $50 to get a script filled! (So I waited until I got back to Aussie soil.) Radiance of the Seas is a comfortable ship, but would I use her again? I don't think so, at least not for the same part of the world - maybe Alaska? I'd like to explore other ships such as Celebrity Solstice (also has glassed balconies), so only time will tell! Although I DO like the idea of chalking up reward points for cruise line loyalty! Read Less
Sail Date March 2014
My husband and I just returned from 33 days of sailing on the Radiance. We thoroughly enjoyed the cruise and had few complaints. I have read some of the reviews and appreciate some of the negative comments but overall we were pleased. We ... Read More
My husband and I just returned from 33 days of sailing on the Radiance. We thoroughly enjoyed the cruise and had few complaints. I have read some of the reviews and appreciate some of the negative comments but overall we were pleased. We originally booked the first 17 night cruise. Our junior suite, 1542 was lovely but the balcony was underneath the pool deck. There was no way to know this ahead of time. Our deck was mostly wet but just about everything on Deck 10 was the same, even the spa windows. There was just that much spray. On our second cruise, we moved to the back of the ship which was glorious. Room 1602. We agree that on the first cruise, there was some disorganization getting people off of the ship when tendering. However, the rudeness of the cruisers was uncalled for. They were shouting and yelling at the staff who could not help the situation. When 2000 people all decide to leave the ship at the same time, and fail to adhere to the rules, chaos ensues. People were leaving on tenders and they had no tender numbers so it was chaotic. The second cruise was much more organized although they were delays - due to weather, tender problems, shore excursions all arriving back at the same time, etc. Again, if you travel a lot, as we do, you just have to be patient!! We loved the first cruise so much that we booked the second one about three days prior to the end of the first one. And the second one was just as great. Favorites were Windel and Joy in the Schooner Bar on the first, Joy and Rebecca in the Champagne Bar on the second. We met many wonderful people and loved the Australians aboard - almost half the ship. New Zealand was phenomenal even though there were some cool days. But they were sunny! Picton was a beautiful port but there wasn't much to see or do there. Wellington of course brought the Cable Car ride and then we visited Zealandia. That was a disappointment. Some unique birds but other than that, not much. In Akaroa, we took the Sailing Ketch trip which was fantastic. We saw seals, dolphins, penguins and lots of bird settlements. In Dunedin, we took the Penguin sanctuary trip. Beautiful ride through the hills and along the coast. Sailing through the Sounds was beautiful but the weather was icky, very cloudy and rainy. It would have been great in better weather. Melbourne, we took the Puffin Billy trip, which was 4 hours. Spent 20 minutes on the train and 10 minutes at the Bird Site - very disappointing. In Adelaide, we took the train to town - highly recommended over the cruise shuttles, a lot less expensive. Toured the zoo on our own - great zoo. In Esperance we went on a shore excursion to Cape Le Grand which was good. Beautiful beaches and stonehenge. Second Cruise; first port Geraldton, we had to skip due to weather. Could not get into the port and tendering was impossible. Port Hedland, not much to see but we sat on the ship and watched the harbor activities - very impressive. Bali was one of the highlights. We took the all day Balinese Way of Life for $99. Best tour for the money ever!! Too much to describe but fantastic, especially the lunch at the top of the mountain. Darwin, we took the Territory Wildlife and Eco Cruise. Wildlife park was so, so. Cruise was great except it got cut short due to rain storms. What a hair raising ride we had back to the ship, trying to outrun the storms. Airlie Beach was the Tropical Rainforest and Countryside - basically a waste other than the short visit to Cedar Creek Falls. Brisbane was the one of the better tours, Brisbane Sights and Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary. Great tour.   Read Less
Sail Date February 2014
This was my fifth cruise, and my first with RCI. It was probably also the first time I have left a cruise feeling less than very satisfied. We love cruising and very rarely notice the issues that bug other people. In many ways the problems ... Read More
This was my fifth cruise, and my first with RCI. It was probably also the first time I have left a cruise feeling less than very satisfied. We love cruising and very rarely notice the issues that bug other people. In many ways the problems at the Radiance are typical of most other cruise lines at present, but I think this time they mounted up to be just too notable to ignore. The Radiance is a nice ship. We had a Junior Suite which was spacious, good value for the extra money and very nicely decorated. The balcony is excellent, although there was no footrest which is a shame for a space that large. The public areas of the ship are a mixed bunch - the Schooner Bar and Colony Club are great, as are the specialty restaurants. The main atrium is starting to look a bit dated. The flow of the ship has been messed about a bit with the retrofits, with a great area at the stern (which is part of the Windjammer) now deserted because you have to walk through the new restaurants with your trays to access it. The pool decks are a little too small and the solarium is always packed - there just seems too much space lost on deck to the kids pool at the rear. The ship overall had quite a lot of maintenance requirements - there is a fair bit of rust around and a lot of the woodwork needs attention. It was probably the least well-maintained ship I have travelled on and I was quite surprised. Service was good, with an excellent stateroom attendant and generally friendly and efficient restaurant/bar staff. However, there was just the slow drip of obvious cost cutting and lack of attention to detail that eventually wore down on us: 1. There were only 2 production shows on an 11 night cruise, which is at least one or two less than other lines. These performers were great, but the budget was obviously limited. Given they were on board the whole time, I have no idea why we saw so little of them. The lack of production shows would probably prevent me travelling on RCI again - they are a major part of the experience for me (and were of course packed out). 2. Entertainment was mixed - some very good and some that even the CD must have known were not up to par. They twice repeated performers and three times just had one showtime for the whole ship. In the past, if they bring an entertainer back for a second show it is usually a bonus show - not here. There was never more than one event per evening. It just seemed done on the cheap - lots of comedians, no musicians and just not enough variety. It just seems silly (and cheap) to have all that staging and lighting and then just keep putting on one guy with no set and a spotlight. 3. The food was well prepared, but there is no getting away from the fact that the quality of ingredients has been cut. We did not see any shellfish or game the whole cruise, even in the specialty restaurants. The Chef’s Table was more of the same - well prepared but frankly pretty basic food for ‘fine’ dining. The wow factor was provided by the setting, not the food. We did not have a ‘bad’ meal and I understand that they want to push us to specialty restaurants which I have no issue with - but even there the food was pretty basic. The menu for Chops Grille has zero imagination, but the food is great, as long as you just want a nice steak on its own. 4. RCI are very sneaky about extras on the menu. They mix up additional cost items with other menu items and then say in TINY print ‘available at current bar prices’ (whatever they are). We are constantly assailed with offers of ‘special’ orange juice, and waiters walking around with mineral water bottles. The wine suggestions always seemed to include stuff that was far too expensive for most people. It should be really simple - if you want to charge for something, make it clear on the menu and actually put the price down. I don’t mind being asked politely if I want mineral water (I don’t), but I do object to various items being waved in my face every mealtime. 5. The ‘free’ coffee is awful, but the stuff at Latte-tudes was just as bad. Everyone hated it and I have no idea why they cannot get this right. The tea bags were a running joke the whole cruise - nothing comes out of them! (stick to Lipton). The waiters all knew, so did the guests - so why were they still using them? I assume to force people to pay for something else. 6. The poor maintenance was quite noticeable. The Radiance had a refit in 2011, but as usual it was only a partial affair, so some areas are just too worn. In the MDR the carpet was dirty, the chairs battered and the curtain blinds falling down, there were a lot of blown bulbs and the lacquer was coming off some of the wood panelling. It is a lovely room, but just let down by lack of attention. This was the case in some other areas. Many people on the forums commented unfavourably about the CD, Amy. Personally, I liked her and thought she did a good job and had great energy. However, some of her assistants needed to be reigned in and obviously thought that the whole thing was all about them showing off. Surely they must realise that many people do not appreciate their constant references to their own sexuality. The ports of call were good and we took two ship-arranged shore excursions which were, as usual, well organised. At tender ports they have an early-bird arrangement where you get go straight off without a ticket in the first hour - WELL worth doing, we never encountered any type of delay tendering. The Champagne Bar (with Rebecca) was a highlight. I thought the cocktails were excellent and drinks reasonably priced (as long as you do not accept their wine suggestion!). We had the 5 bottle wine package - the admin of this was a bit of a mess but the wines were good value and certainly of a suitable quality for most. Overall we had a good cruise, but the problem was that whilst the Radiance does everything competently, there is nothing really special about anything. I don’t remember any real moments where my expectations were exceeded. Everything had the feeling of being done to a price. I travelled on the Celebrity Solstice last year and I would say that ship and service is in a different class, and frankly no more expensive. I have already booked to go back to the Solstice on our next cruise - I just hope that their parent company can resist cost cutting and undermining that superior experience. Read Less
Sail Date February 2014
This is the second time my family and I have cruised on the Radiance, we returned as our first experience was memorable, I cannot think of a better holiday cruising with my family, who along with myself thoroughly enjoyed this cruise. I ... Read More
This is the second time my family and I have cruised on the Radiance, we returned as our first experience was memorable, I cannot think of a better holiday cruising with my family, who along with myself thoroughly enjoyed this cruise. I do believe though in constructive feedback as the experience was very different to our last cruise. Several areas such as cost cutting, poor entertainment, high pressure sales and maintenance issues need review. It is also disappointing to find that RCCL does not respond to feedback or complaints, it is now over 1 month since I provided feedback to them and they are yet to comment which disappoints me as a customer who overall has enjoyed the experience and facilities provided on their ships and has 3 additional bookings over the next 12 months. It was hard to then score each item as we had both great experiences and very disappointing experiences for the same categories. Dining The dining aboard the Radiance is impressive, with multiple free dining options and great speciality restaurants. I would definitely recommend purchasing a specialty restaurant package. Main Dining Room Our first trip on the Radiance we chose My Time Dining and this time traditional dining. As mentioned above, I am yet to receive a reply from RCCL as the service I received this time was poor, particularly in comparison to my last cruise where I couldn’t fault the main dining room, the service was impeccable and memorable. My family was looking forward to the main dining room, our last cruise on the Radiance was one to remember, the experience was amazing, I couldn’t fault the main dining room, the service was impeccable, the staff knew all our names, they knew our drink preferences, remembered our favourite meals and would attend to our every need. Even the simplest of things like having a high chair ready for our baby when we arrived, having my favourite drink ready as I sat down and if I didn’t feel like it that night, there was no charge or they would replace it for something else. This cruise however was the opposite, we didn't even get to know the head waiter, only on the 8th night of the cruise he turned up at our table and asked about the service in which we where honest about it. We had to request a high chair each time, the drinks service was not existent, however the table beside us who ALL had the premium drinks package was showered in service with drinks being offered without being requested consistently, each night they were offered pre dinner drinks, shots and other beverages (which astounds me as to why you want to push drinks on someone who has bought an ALL inclusive package rather than the people who are paying for their drinks individually), yet our table of people were neglected and I often had to ask for service just to get a drink. The service from our wait staff was extremely poor and the even the people sitting with us (first time cruisers with RCCL) vowed never to come on RCCL again. Windjammer The windjammer is a decent buffet even if at times it is repetitive, the food is always hot and fresh, well presented and enough selection however it appears that the quality of the ingredients has been reduced using cheaper ingredients to cut costs. Several dishes were basic and they need to improve the quality of their pastries and Pizza, the general choices available and seating area makes it a great place to dine. The panoramic windows provide a great outlook and overall the buffet met our requirements. Specialty Restaurants I’ll start out by saying that we really enjoy the speciality restaurants, the food is always superb, the decor impressive and is great value for money. I am surprised that they have to push so much to upgrade people to this option, the cost is small, but it provides such an experience if you want a quieter, private dining experience. I will note that this cruise for some reason the wait staff seemed to be instructed to pressure the diner to purchase the more premium wines. On each occasion and the moment we sat down, we were presented with the some of the more pricey bottles in the restaurant, not just the $30-$80 range, but $120 - $200 and then when we declined, it appeared the waiter got very disappointed and the service then suffered, this wasn’t isolated and occurred in each restaurant, with the worst service in Chops Grille. If you are cruising on the Radiance, then I recommend the speciality restaurants, you will not be disappointed and I hope they change their attitude about pushing the wines and just get on with the fabulous service I experienced on the last cruise. Public Rooms The Public rooms are generally great, although Radiance doesn’t have the main promenade like some of the larger ships, it has a sense of intimacy yet still has a lot of people on board, and you never feel over crowded except for maybe by the main pool or the movie cinema which is very small, there are lots of places to enjoy a crowd of people and just as many to have all to yourself. We felt that the shopping range could be larger and improved with more shops. Pool The pool is too small for a ship this size and when the pool is undergoing renovation or painting they wouldn’t let our children in the Solarium Pool which was disappointing. The children’s pool is also very small; it’s literally a 2m wide 50cm deep pond. This aside the children still had fun, but improvements could be made to this pool area. The waterslide for one could be open at more times, it was only open on sea days and also only open for approx 2hrs per day, so if you wanted to use it, you had to time your visits. Cabin We had balcony cabin 9658, when we booked the RCCL operator did not inform us it was a obstructed view cabin, when I found out what the obstructed view was, I endeavoured to change it but the ship was full and when I arrived onboard, they had put me on a wait list for room changes. The obstruction is the window washing ladder that moves on port days, it is fixed the remainder of the cruise. It definitely obstructs the view and could pose a security issue as someone could climb from a lower or higher deck to your balcony, if you have young children, they might be inquisitive to climb on it. The major issue I had was during the night we heard the structure bang against the ship, I called the maintenance team and tried to secure it tighter but it still made noise when it moved. The second issue with our cabin was cleanliness, when we arrived my 18 month old daughter found a pair of underpants and women sanitary pad on the floor and picked it up. I photographed it for use later, this was unacceptable, however the most amazing thing was no concern by the staff, I rang the front desk and they advised the cleaner will come and pick it up at his next service at 5pm as he is on a break now. When 5pm did come, I noticed the cleaner in the hallway and spoke with him, he had no knowledge of my complaint, but did come and remove the items. It makes me wonder what else is missed when they clean the staterooms. I felt sorry for some of the cabins on our floor, consistently being flooded and our hallway smelling damp and wet with blowers on every day. The room attendants advised that this always happens. If I had one of the rooms, I would be complaining as it appears the problem is well known and they keep placing guests in these rooms. Entertainment The entertainment was a real let down and although the cruise director Amy was enthusiastic there could have been a lot more parties during the evening that kept the night alive. The entertainment in the main showroom was fair, it appeared something was missing, there was not as many shows as I remembered last time. The theatre was always full when there was a show so I do not understand why they don’t utilise it more. The headline acts were few and far between, why they didn’t have more considering the entertainers advised they were on the ship for the full cruise surprises me. It appears this is an area of cost cutting and if the entertainment doesn’t improve I will be reconsidering sailing on RCCL again My wife and I thoroughly enjoyed the disco night and other themed nights, but again felt there could have been more. Family and Children The staff in the kids club are great and our 4 year old daughter really enjoyed attending, so much so she was asking to go there. We purchased the Barbie experience and the excitement it brought to my daughter was priceless and she still sleeps on the same pillow and uses the same mini blanket 2 weeks later. I felt the programme was worth it for the pure joy it provided my wife and I to see our daughter so happy, but there could have been improvements, the stateroom decor was not the same as in the photos such as the hanging pink chandelier and the pink bow was only on the chairs and not on the curtains. The staff wore their blue and yellow uniform to all the Barbie events except the final fashion show and I think had they been dressed in themed colours it would have been better. The staff involved Boo Boo and Jessica were friendly, very enthusiastic and accommodating with the kids and great choice for the Barbie experience. We also used the Nursery for our 18 month old. The Nursery team were caring and made a real effort to make us feel at ease that they were caring for our children. The Nursery however was understaffed and we could only pre-book a certain number of slots as the cruise had 29 children under 3 and only 8 spaces in the Nursery. It was disappointing that management do not pre-plan this considering they know the numbers of children attending prior. There was no babysitting on this cruise, so when you read the fine print about “being subject to availability” do not assume it means first in first served, from the staff at the front desk they explained that most cruises in Australia do not have this service and it only occurs when certain trained staff are on the cruise and generally these are part of the entertainment team.   Read Less
Sail Date February 2014
Jan 20th to Jan 31st 2014 Hi all my review contains information on the place (ship in this case) we stayed but also the adventure and often the circumstances that lead us there, so if you only interested in the actual place, my review ... Read More
Jan 20th to Jan 31st 2014 Hi all my review contains information on the place (ship in this case) we stayed but also the adventure and often the circumstances that lead us there, so if you only interested in the actual place, my review might not be for you, also i write how speak so don’t expect some literal award winning review. Boarded at Circular key around 11am on the Tuesday morning, its still amazes me that people where only disembarking 2 hours previous, those staff work hard on turn around day to make the ship look new or as if it has been waiting for you in port for a day or 2. Traveling was me and the wife plus the kids 14 and almost 16. We booked a aft (rear) balcony on level 9 and a double room on level 3. If you would like to know more about family’s and multiple rooms message me and i can let you know the ins and outs. Staff really friendly and helpful, nice to get to our rooms and meet our stateroom attendants as the Americans call them, off to lunch at the buffet, this is the only place open for boarding day lunch. Then off to explore the ship, we had been on a few smaller cruises before, the sun, pearl and dawn but this was alot bigger. There were options to purchase a drink package, unlimited soft drink (sodas they call them) this cost roughly $60USD each for the whole cruise for the kids its age scaled, another package with beer and wine and a drink yourself silly with basically anything you want, as we dont really drink we (wife and me) opted for the Royal Replenish (sounds fancy) this consisted of premium tea and coffee in other words you could go to the coffee house and get yourself a massive latte as much as you want while they where open, bottled and sparkling water, mocktails, fresh squeezed juice and unlimited soft drink. cost was $20 USD a day per person. I was really looking forward to having fresh squeezed juice throughout the trip. It was disappointing the 1st full day at sea to find out that the fresh squeezed jucie was only orange and only available at breakfast. When looking at these packages i think its important to think about how many port days you have on your cruise we had 5 port days and 6 sea days roughly. 4 out of 6 of the mocktails contained red bull so we stayed away from them. The bottled water did come in handy on port days. cocktails are not made from scratch or with fresh fruit, they are made from a pre mix, island oasis in 1 litre milk cartons labeled say pina colada mix. My wife had 1 or 2 of these and i had a taste and it was actually quite nice. I’m sure this makes its alot easier to serve people quicker. As always we had to undertake the safety briefing in the main staff area and then off we went next stop in around 2.5 days ilse of Pines, so we had 2 and a bit days to explore this 300 metre vessel and find all the great little spots to be at different times of the day. 1st night we ate at one of the specialty restaurants (these are an extra fee) Chopps Grille, they had a discount for the 1st evening of 30% so i think it came to $24USD per person, was well worth it. Kids ate in the buffet and went off to make new friends at the teens club, ship has 1am curfew for under 18's. 2nd night was formal night so we thought we would attend in the dinning room, we opted for mytime dinning were you are either 6 or 8:30 and have the same table and people at your table each night. so we sat down at a table of 8 and another family came along and sat down unfortunately they could not speak English only Chinese, they even ordered in chinese, we were looking foward to discussing with our table mates there day and plans for the next day. So that was a bit of a let down. The next morning i rang the dining room and explained the situation and they said they would get back to me tomorrow, so we gave the dinning room a miss for the night and went back to Giovanni’s Table another specialty restaurant, we had also had lunch there the day previous and been served by Geraldine (not quite sure the the spelling) but it was excellent table service so much so we went back with the kids and although the kids enjoyed the meal they were itching to get back to there friends up stairs somewhere. Staff like Geraldine are real assets to Royal Caribbean. Breakfast was alot easier in the buffet than the dinning room especially on port days, there’s a bloke we named Aussie Bob that greets you at entrance, this guy was even more Australian than we were yet he was from south east asia like most of the crew. It was always entertaining entering and leaving the buffet with him throwing some 70's or 80's slang at you. Another great asset to Royal Caribbean, along with the friendly nice guys in starboard windjammer bar. Heres a Tip ask for a lemonade you will get lemon cordial, if you want what i suppose we call a lemonade ask for a sprite, they do not know about Schweppes lemonade. ilse of Pines was lovely as always, although i was told a few people went back to the ship without thongs, aussie surf thongs are highly prized over there i assume. The next day was off to Lifou it was very hot but surprising cool under the trees, the water was beautiful great temp and clear not rough, sad to go back to ship but our stomachs were rumbling for buffet, they say you gain a pound a day on a cruise, my son reckons he lost 5 kilos giving up on waiting for the lifts and using the stairs from deck 3 to 12. That evening we meet another couple in the spa and got chatting they go on cruises every 2 months they love it, we explained about our dinning experience and they invited us to sit with them as they mentioned every night there has been 4 empty chairs. So we went down to speak to dinning room staff and after re-explaining our previous situation, which had also told him the evening before, he placed us there permanently, the waiters at the table were also a little confused initially even though the couple who had invited us mentioned it to them before our arrival. Well it was all sorted finally and we had some people we could get to know and discuss our days at sea and port with. Although some what older, dinner conversation was greatly appreciated, There was a table behind us that had like 10 seats and only 1 couple on it for the 8:30 sitting, i think as it was school holidays maybe alot of family’s just preferred to eat buffet and off to see the evenings entrainment. Maybe the cruise should ask if you will be wishing to attend the dinning room always, mostly or hardly ever and seat people accordingly. Our sons friends family went once or twice at most. Ok I never got around to Finishing this Review, the above was written in Feb 2015, its now October 2015 and we have just booked again on Radiance 13 nights on the 19th Jan this time Grandma is getting hauled along and in our infinite wisdom or madness we said the kids could bring a friend each, so 7 of us in total. Some other thoughts from the Trip, blue hole (small fee when arrving) is amazing in luganville/champagne bay worth the trip, haggle drivers down to $50 for 4 in a car, careful of the utes they have seats made of garden sleepers in the back and load people in there, then barrel down the roads, million dollar beach/bay Luganville is worth seeing we missed it but are planning on going this time. Champagne bay its self is amazing. Port Villa again a little haggling and you can get a good deal, we got a newish Corolla air con and driver for the day $200 Aud, but they prefer you to pay them in there currency haggle in there currency and slightly better deals. Westpac with ATM in main street, Driver took us to the Coffee factory, cascades waterfalls ($25 Entry per person) very nice and the beach bar opposite the underwater post office, then on to the cheapest place in the south Pacific duty free Fung Kuei, 2 bottles of Rum 1 litres for $40, smokers 16 packets of 20s for $25 AUD, people going mad in there grabbing duty free. Bring your Snorkeling gear to all port days, noodles help with floating around and blow up pool toys for champagne Bay are great, people often give them to the local kids upon departure, mm what else can I remember, travel adapters euro round 2 pin and us flat 2 pin sockets in are in the rooms, best to get one of each, charge your cameras and phones off the us socket and run the hair dryer off the euro one, sister in law used the us socket for hair dryer and was running at half power. My son worked out after forgetting his adapter that he could charge his phone of the in cabin TV. Money all the ports we visited accepted Australian currency, although I kept getting asked for Notes to change for coins at the end of the day. Just like in Australia, currency exchange places wont take coin, so these market stalls/traders take our coin but cannot turn that into there local currency and once the ship departs they are stuck with the coin until the next ship comes in. I suppose this is were US currency has an advantage as they have $1 bills. This time were taking a lot of $5’s plus many $10 for purchasing items and possibly some $20’s to change for coin at the end of the day, as we can use coin on our return to Sydney. Read Less
Sail Date January 2014
I've sailed on Radiance before and it was glitzy and full of activities and fun. EMBARKING This is so streamlined now, it is very impressive. There is an early bag check in. This time we dropped our bags off and got on at 11.30am. ... Read More
I've sailed on Radiance before and it was glitzy and full of activities and fun. EMBARKING This is so streamlined now, it is very impressive. There is an early bag check in. This time we dropped our bags off and got on at 11.30am. Before the cruise, we had downloaded all the luggage tags, and the set sail forms. We went on within 30 minutes. Being in the Crown and Anchor society meant we were fast tracked and it is well worth joining, once you have cruised, as you will not have to wait in long queues. Your sea pass card now has a hole already punched in it and ready to go. Lovely lanyards are available in the shop or sometimes provided by your cruise booking company. SUITCASES TO YOUR CABIN These dont always arrive fast nor do they always arrived together with your partners case, despite being checked in together. The hubby had his bag, but I didnt have mine for hours. We had to go hunting for it and discovered it in with bags on the other side of the ship. TIP= if you bring alcohol in your suitcase, it will be taken away from you and returned to you when you leave the ship. We took diet drinks because of my husbands diabetes. that wasn't a problem. FOOD Food in the Windjammer was good although much of it was the same or repeated. I decided to eat cautiously from experience on other cruises (Eyes seems to be bigger then the stomach!!) So whatever was on the plate, I chose to eat only half. AND when I got home, I found I didnt put any weight on... SMOKING POLICY The new smoking policy is interesting. We smelt smoke in our room from someone smoking close by. Management were doing their best to fix the problem. But the smoking area on deck 11, right near the doors to the Windjammer is a problem. Smoke fills the corridor to the dining hall and lifts. Its not nice walking through smoke. KIDS This cruise had over 700 kids on board. Mostly they were well behaved but due to the amount of kids, there were hardly any activities for adults. Some of the kids got into the games and completely mixed ALL the cards and scattered all the game pieces. That was disappointing. PORTS OF CALL We didnt do any of the tours this time. Instead, we got off at the ports and checked out the sights. Our first stop was Newcastle. Free shuttle to town and back. Next was Airlie Beach, which was amazing. We paid $5 for a tender, each way. Airlie beach is AMAZING, although the ship could've advertised more of what was on offer in the region, aside from water activities, such as the Coffee Plantation and the Falls, The last port was Brisbane and the cost of the shuttle was steep. $12 each way.Because the ship is too deep to sail into the port, we had to dock way out and then pay the cost of getting a shuttle. I thought it was expensive.No mention, prior to the cruise, about the cost of the shuttles. Advance warning would have been good. The shuttles cost us an extra $80 for this cruise. We were disappointed that the ship didnt give info on things to see.(apart from the tours) We found the free water ferry, which provided an awesome view of Brisbane. We visited the Maritime Museum, the markets and the city centre. The ship looked tired, Needing some maintenance. COFFEE The coffee is still disgusting. So we take our own coffee. But the lemon drink is yum and the iced water is refreshing. SICKNESS Unfortunately a stomach bug was going around. We were fortunate enough to miss this but people were seeing the medical facilities. Many didnt use the antibacteria gel in the dining rooms so the spread of bugs was to be expected. On our last cruise on the Voyager of the seas, it was manditory to use the gel. SHOPS ON BOARD The Shops were a let down. Expensive and unappealing. I wish RCI would have more affordable things available. We saw watches for over $2000. Then at the other extreme $10 frenzy. The items were a bit tacky. But it made it fun and to see people going crazy over trinkets was funny. Many of the jewellery I have seen on past cruises was available but marked up. We are platinum crown and anchor society members and received our voucher booklet in the stateroom. The majority of the booklet is useless if you dont gamble. PARK CAFE Park Cafe is awesome. An adults pool and a cafe open when the dining rooms arent. The meat pies are so good! I would recommend this area if you are looking for seclusion around a lovely tropical pool, complete with elephants and a large black cat lazing by the pool. The chirping birds and greenery amongst the greek pillars was refreshing. Pool towels are no longer white with the RCI crest. They are blue and you no longer need to give your cabin number, which I thought was odd, as previously if you didnt return your towel, you were billed for it. THE CABIN The cabin was great. 8008. From the ship plan, the balcony looked half sized, but it was actually bigger than most! We had and extra foot the whole width. We were able to see alot because our cabin was on the bit of the ship which poked out. It gave us a good view of everything. The metal side that curved around was great as it shielded the balcony from the strong winds and sun. We had privacy and the benefit of a larger balcony. I would definitely recommend this cabin. The inside is what you normally get with a stateroom, no surprises there. There were some maintenance things in the room which need attention and I got the feeling that RCI didnt really care to fix them. Switches at the desk were busted, panels falling out near the fridge, decor stuck up with glue which looked tacky and the shower head sprayed water all over the bathroom due to a seal which was obviously broken. I just ordered more bathmats and that helped soak up the water that was all over the floor. The bed was unbearable. Seriously, the mattresses need to be thrown out. We couldnt sleep because the mattresses were so bad. When we told the attendant, he said that there were no others. 9 days of backache and misery. They need to replace them. Cabin 8008 is portside and at the front. We had rough seas on the way back to Sydney and being so high up and at the front, we did experience the motion more than lower decks. It is also further from the dining rooms, but close to Park cafe and the fitness centre. ROOM SERVICE We used room service for breakfast Filled out the menu and placed it on the door before 3am. The order was filled correctly most of the time and we enjoyed eating breakfast on the balcony. The balcony had a table and two chairs. Room service ordering via the TV is something to keep an eye on. The system does not always work and you can be waiting hours for your order because they didnt get it! TIP = Make sure you get the message that they received the order on the tv and always call them to see if they received it. The order is generally quick. We had orders within 30 minutes, which was fast considering how far they had to walk to our room. INTERNET We did not use the internet as we had coverage for most of the trip via our mobiles. The internet is available at a station near guest services and wirelessly on the ship. DISEMBARKING This was quick also. The night before, you will be given your disembarkment number, which will correlate with a time to be at your leaving area. Ours was #10 and this was 8.40am in the Aroura Theatre. You will need to pack your case and have it outside your cabin before 10.30pm. There is time to have breakfast before heading off. We arrived at the theatre at 8.40 and were told to head out. From here you head to the terminal and pass through security to be checked off. Your suitcases are found in numbered rows. Ours was #10 and the bags were there when we left. This time there was no immigration to go through so we took our bags and were out of the terminal within 10 minutes. FEEDBACK An email wanting feedback was waiting in our inbox when we arrived home. TIP= if you have anything you want to tell RCI, now is the time to do it. And they do read them all. This was our 5th cruise and in previous reviews I said that Radiance was a better cruise ship, but now I am changing my views. It looked tired and in need of freshness, in comparison to Voyager of the Seas. Out of the two, the latter would be the one I would choose, just for the fact that there is so much more to see and do. I felt that this cruise on Radiance was lacking something. Im hoping this is not a feeling we get when we cruise frequently? Read Less
Sail Date January 2014
This is a good mid sized ship although she has seen better days and needs some attention to detail. Considering the number of passengers, the pools are small, over crowded and therefore not pristine. There are not enough spas and good luck ... Read More
This is a good mid sized ship although she has seen better days and needs some attention to detail. Considering the number of passengers, the pools are small, over crowded and therefore not pristine. There are not enough spas and good luck in prising out one of the human fixtures within them. The fake plants in the pool atrium look cheap and nasty and need a makeover. The dinning room is one of her better features, although the waiting staff do vary quite considerably in their abilities, with some being excellent and others poor. If you manage to get a good table stick with it. The maitre d seemed to lack the style and finesse of a person in this position. The Windjammer cafe is quantity over quality with many patrons making the most of things in this regard. The shows are good and of a high standard. The stateroom steward in our instance was very good and the crew around the ship are pleasant. The shore excursions were good and well executed. The entertainment for teenagers was very unstructured and left alot to be desired. All in all it's a 7 out of 10! Read Less
Sail Date January 2014
I've wanted to visit New Zealand for years so this was like a dream vacation. The itinerary was okay, although I would have preferred a one-way journey from Australia to NZ so there weren't so many sea days. Those passengers who ... Read More
I've wanted to visit New Zealand for years so this was like a dream vacation. The itinerary was okay, although I would have preferred a one-way journey from Australia to NZ so there weren't so many sea days. Those passengers who enjoy the lazy days at sea vs. sightseeing might prefer this type of round-trip itinerary. Embarkation was a breeze. We arrived early, straight from the airport and jet-lagged, so it was a relief that we had only a brief wait before we were aboard. It was nice that they were serving a buffet lunch, although the food was so disappointing we stuck to the main dining room thereafter for lunches any time it was open. The ship is beautiful and well laid out, so it was easy to find everything. Our stateroom 8066 was conveniently located and quiet, with no noise reaching it from the Centrum. On the plus side, the beds were very comfy, the linens soft, and although the pillows are rather hard I had no trouble sleeping. There's only one closet but even so there is plenty of storage space (closet, drawers, shelves, cupboards), and plenty of hangers. The balcony was sheltered from the winds, so we were able to eat breakfast on the balcony, or sit and read, when it was too windy to do so up on deck. The biggest negative: the toilets don't work well!! We had to call for a plumber at least a half dozen, maybe even 8 times. At no time did we get any type of apology or even acknowledgement from RC about the inconvenience. And the hallway sometimes had a foul odor, which was so unpleasant, although thank goodness our stateroom didn't. The shower is small, although there was good water pressure, thank goodness. There's a clothesline in the shower to hang wet bathing suits (or handwashed items) but no heat light and no exhaust fan. There are no outlets near the bed which is so annoying for charging ereaders while reading in bed, or using a plugged-in laptop. There are not enough outlets period, so it took constant planning to keep all our various devices charged (2 phones, 2 cameras, 2 ereaders and a laptop). This was my first time cruising with RC. I've cruised with 8 other lines, most recently on Holland America, and there were many little things that I missed and found disappointing. There is no DVD player in the room, something my daughter really missed. She's used to checking out DVDs from cruise ship libraries and enjoying a movie in the room before going to bed, and I found the $$ charged for watching a movie to be too high. In this and many other ways I felt nickel and dimed. There are no bathrobes. There are no nice toiletries provided. There are no chocolates placed on the pillows at night. Most of the wait staff in the restaurants were very friendly, and our stateroom steward was lovely. We enjoyed the meals in the main dining room, and the lunches there were terrific, with a wonderful salad bar. We had some breakfasts in our room and some in the buffett, which has nice English sausages but terrible scrambled eggs -- opt for freshly made omelets instead. Coffee was sometimes almost drinkable in the main dining room, but always tasted like sludge in the buffet. The tea was pathetic too, so it was either pay for pricey coffee or go without. I'm not even fussy about coffee, but it was truly appalling. Same with the orange juice -- the complimentary OJ is so watered down, you can only get a decent glass of juice if you are willing to fork out again for the fresh-squeezed. My daughter had just turned 18 and was distraught that she wasn't allowed to participate in any teen events, in fact they wouldn't even let her in the room, and there were no organized events for older teens/college age kids. So for her it was the loneliest of all the cruises she's been on with me, as she had no organized way to make friends and had to hang out with her mom all the time. The airport and hotel transfers with RC were great, very convenient, clean cars, timely pickups. We did the post-cruise stay at Sheraton on the Park, and I highly recommend this hotel. The best shore excursion is the overnight to Queenstown. Not to be missed! Read Less
Sail Date December 2013
We set off from Sydney, got to Circular Quay at boarding time for our deck, to find half the ship had already boarded, don't know why they even try to implement boarding times, if they don't actually stick to them. We could not ... Read More
We set off from Sydney, got to Circular Quay at boarding time for our deck, to find half the ship had already boarded, don't know why they even try to implement boarding times, if they don't actually stick to them. We could not even get a seat in the Windjammer the buffet, for lunch, went to the PARK cafe which I knew about from the internet, so at least got a small salad and sandwich in peace and the cool. Cabins not ready till 1pm, in future would just come later and not rush. Cabin was 9924, was slightly disappointed with the size, we had cruised before on Queen Mary so that had set the bar, the bathroom minute, the bed rock hard and pillows terrible, bring your own! The fridge also does not really work at all, everything lukewarm, not worth having, and others told us the same about their cabins. Ours was a so-called superior, don't bother, just go for a Deluxe and also try for level 8 as the noise above from the suites on Level 10 was horrendous. We had a small child that had obviously been put in a bed above us and the parents must have just closed their door to their bedroom, and come 5/6am every morning he jumped out of bed and started running from one side of the room to the other and that went on all day till around 12am, a continuous cycle for the whole trip, the morning of our return, he started thumping around 4am. We were very surprised by the noise transfer between the floors, the cabins next door were fine, just the occasional stuff which you would expect. The staff however made the trip, they were lovely people, couldn't do enough and were not fussed if you tipped or not. We did enjoy the evenings in the Schooner and Ritas Cantina, the young Indonesian in that bar was great, and interested to talk to us all. The food was pretty good, the Samba Grill by far the best, definitely try it and don't eat all day before. Chops Grille a real disappointment, my husband's Halibut was inedible, and my steak was just ok, the staff however were terrific once again. The wine tasting an experience and also the Martini making course great, Rebecca in the Champagne Bar was very funny and entertaining. There were some annoying things, like queuing for tender boats when we arrived at Isle of Pines, they said between 8am and 9am no tickets just go to deck 2 and queue, however the line went for miles past the cabins on deck 3, I would not have been happy if in those cabins. After everyone became used to the routine it was much better. We just had an early lunch then went off the Boat at each island. Mystery Island the best for snorkeling, very clear and cold water, more unspoilt than the other places. Could take or leave Port Vila and Noumea, spent a lot of time on the boat, which was much better, as not many on it!!! We did the one hour orientation bus tour and that was enough. The pool area good for young people, but not for us older ones and the undercover one was yucky, people just got in the spas and would not move at all. It smelt of lots of chlorine and hot days unbearable. Summing it up, we had had enough by the 7th night so next time we would go for a shorter time. We did enjoy the break from everyday life and the Staff made it a memorable experience. The drinks reasonable price and the wine package worth doing. One of our main gripes was the awful coffee as they only have long life milk all over the boat, even Lattitudes they used long life milk. They could do with hiring an Aussie barista too, the two people on the majority of the time, were terribly slow and not that good. One day at an off time I got a coffee and there was a young Asian girl, and she was great, did the same job by herself in half the time and made a much better coffee. I know Aussies are fussy when it comes to coffee, we are not far behind the Italians in our love of a good coffee. Food in the main dining was pretty good and breakfast there was very nice and relaxed, the buffet wears off after a few days. I will reiterate the main point, being THE STAFF MADE THE TRIP, VERY OBLIGING AND WORTH ANOTHER TIP AT THE END OF THE JOURNEY! THEY WORK INCREDIBLY HARD AND MADE US FEEL LIKE OUR LIVES WERE VERY BLESSED, THEY NEVER COMPLAINED AND SMILED ALL THE TIME   Read Less
Sail Date December 2013
As others on this cruise have written, it was generally great, with a few negatives. Although it was full of Australians enjoying Christmas, this is basically a ship offering an American cultural experience. This means that a lot of things ... Read More
As others on this cruise have written, it was generally great, with a few negatives. Although it was full of Australians enjoying Christmas, this is basically a ship offering an American cultural experience. This means that a lot of things one takes for granted are simply not available - there is NO decent coffee on board, not even at the cafe, and it is impossible to get a decent cup of tea because the water is always tepid. As far as Christmas food is concerned, there was no effort to provide a decent Christmas lunch/dinner with the normal foods Australians expect such as hot and cold turkey, sea-food salads, plum pudding and so on. It is true there was ham on one evening menu and at the buffet, but overall it didn't feel like Christmas and the constant Musak carols in every corner of the ship only was irritating. Overall, though, the food was very good to excellent, although the Mexican and Japanese offerings were just adequate and only available at night. Drink prices (without a "package") were OK but we did end up spending a great deal more on cocktails than we expected. Everything was kept spotlessly clean, the cabin service (and attendants) were great, as were most of the service staff, the Solarium pool was lovely although not big enough, the entertainment was okay to good (classical musicians were lovely) and the embarkation and tendering process was well-organised and unstressful. There really needed to be some "quiet" spaces - the pre-recorded music selections was pretty blah and some groups were loud and raucous by early afternoon. Cabin comfort was good but the bathrooms were very minimal and as noted there were no proper toiletries provided. The Royal Carribean "style" has its own logic and if you don't mind things being slightly tacky and, for Australian tastes, over the top, it was a lot of fun. Read Less
Sail Date December 2013
This 16 night itinerary had 2 ports which should be discontinued (Airlie beach, Port Hedland) - port headland iron ore tour was a very poor standard (1 1/4 hours of boring babble in a bus ) . Ship had large disabled contingent ... Read More
This 16 night itinerary had 2 ports which should be discontinued (Airlie beach, Port Hedland) - port headland iron ore tour was a very poor standard (1 1/4 hours of boring babble in a bus ) . Ship had large disabled contingent (scooters,wheelchairs,walkers,walking sticks) which increases the chance of catching norovirus/flu/viruses as well as slowing down the movement around the ship considerably. Tenders were also slowed down as a result. Also noticed a lot of tattooed persons onboard. Smoking was allowed on balconies which if known about we would not have booked cruise with RCL (smoke wafted in from other balconies and was intolerable). The main dining room meals were too fancy generally and didn't seem to cater for australian climate . RCL need to simplify dish offerings and focus on high quality meal basics. Drinks packages are poor especially for non-alcoholic (celebrity have far superior drinks packages) . No coffee packages or cards available either. Brewed coffee is undrinkable so it is off to Latte-Tudes at $5 a pop for a coffee with any strength. The buffet (WINDJAMMERS) closes at 9.30 pm which is very unusual as most ships offer some late night buffet. The park cafe makes a weak attempt at late night snacks with a minimal pizza ingredient offering. Production shows seem weak and 1 show especially had dancers out of synch and the vocals were hard to understand. RCL need to reference Princess production show standards. The headliner acts were mixed (some awful and others very good). Staff doing tired old 'if I were not upon the sea' routine and not very well either. Need more enrichment lectures and less infantile activities- they seem to cater to low intellect groups (belly flopping ?). Also a late night act is needed e.g. comedian in addition to the main theatre show. Princess do this very well with an alternative show venue. The captain was very good and informative throughout the cruise and had a good sense of humour. Officers and most staff were also friendly. BOBBY the cruise director arrived on board late (darwin) and was a very good MC. Overall sense of RCL budget cut backs : (no lobster night,no toiletries (balcony or lower), no pen and pad in cabin , no pillow chocolates , pool towels have to be signed out and in ) . It looks like back to CELEBRITY and PRINCESS cruises.   Read Less
Sail Date October 2013
Just back from a short 5 night cruise Sydney, Brisbane, Sydney and 3 of us had junior suite 1076. We virtually walked straight onto the ship, maybe 15 minutes. Having done some research we headed straight to Park Cafe instead of the very ... Read More
Just back from a short 5 night cruise Sydney, Brisbane, Sydney and 3 of us had junior suite 1076. We virtually walked straight onto the ship, maybe 15 minutes. Having done some research we headed straight to Park Cafe instead of the very packed buffet and what a great choice, it was quiet and had plenty of variety, fresh salads, roast meat rolls and many choices of wraps and other snack items, plus desert items. Off to the cabin and it was very good in all aspects, nicer than the JS we previously had on Legend of the Seas, cabin man Arnold very obliging. The ship is in very good condition and all facilities were clean and tidy and all staff we very good. We found the entertainment very poor but many others seem to enjoy it all. To qualify this we have been on HAL, Celebrity, Cunnard, Star, Carnival and other RCL ships and all had superior entertainment. There were no speakers or presentations and no movies were shown in the main show room, instead they were in the very small cinema. We ate in the main dinning room and the food, service and ammenity were good to very good. We tried the buffet but was always crowded and food variety average, dog house which was interesting and always had our breakfast and snacks when peckish in the Park Cafe, its a great facility. All in all a good short cruise on a nice ship. Read Less
Sail Date February 2013
We were delighted with this trip. Hope you're sitting comfortably as we had struggled to find out info about it and we have lots to tell about it which we hope will help you We left behind a snow trapped England, being grateful to ... Read More
We were delighted with this trip. Hope you're sitting comfortably as we had struggled to find out info about it and we have lots to tell about it which we hope will help you We left behind a snow trapped England, being grateful to make it out on time on an excellent Emirates flight via Dubai travelling Dubai to Sydney on the fabulous, comfortable and quiet A380. On arrival at Sydney we took the easy 20 mins train journey from the airport to the Central Quay and simply walked to the nearby ship. After a short rest in the early morning sunshine admiring the beautiful harbour and having a drink in a local cafe (they were plentiful)we left out luggage with the ship staff and went off exploring Sydney before returning to check in at times allocated at the dock side according to your deck number. We were allocated 11.30 but walked on with no queue to speak of and a smooth check in process at 11.15. Our room was ready at 1 and our luggage arrived early afternoon. We had lunch in the Windjammer which was good and not too busy but we should have remembered to go to the Park Cafe in the solarium as another reviewer had recommended - there it was peaceful and the food excellent. As we were docked overnight in Sydney we had a wonderful opportunity to explore Sydney, coming and going as we pleased on and off of the ship until we left the following day at 5pm. Being docked in Sydney is great. You walk off the ship directly to the quayside brimming with restaurants, surrounded by the beautiful harbour views of Sydney Bridge and the Opera House, walking easliy to either of these.Just beyond the Opera House are the Botanical Gardens which are free and beautiful with wonderful views. In the evening we walked along the Sydney Bridge which gave amazing views of Sydney by night. Sydney is a very clean city. It is easy to get around, much of it by foot, but also with easy access via short and cheap ferries from the Quayside to places such as nearby Manley Beach and Bondi Beach, both of which are beautiful and well worth visiting. The Sky Tower again gives good views out to Botany Bay and the Blue Mountains - but we were fortunate to go on a very clear day. I dont think we could have started from a better port. So we set sail on the second afternoon across the Tasman sea for 2.5 days - fortunately it was calm for us. There was plenty to do during that time. The highest proportion of guests were Australian, then Americans and then British.We have to say that we really liked the atmosphere on board with a predominance of Australians who were generally very friendly, cheerful, non complaining and at ease, which helped everyone to feel comfortable. Thanks folks! Our cabin was midship D2 category and very comfortable and always spotless and well serviced. It had a slightly larger balcony on the area that jutts out which was good. The bed was near the window and the settee was quite large ('3 seater') and comfy. The bed was very comfy. There was lots of storage space in areas hidden behind mirrors etc. The bathroom was a bit small (shower with curtain) but adequate and always spotlessly clean. The room had some improvements since the 2011 refurb but not loads - it seemed just to be a flat screen TV and modern bedding really. Lighting was good. It was easy to find your way around the ship and this had been improved by the touch screen guides by the lifts. Some of the lifts look out to sea and are glass walled. The theatre holds almost 1000 and was good. The shows varied. The RC dancers and singers were excellent but just did 3 shows in 14 nights. The guest artists varied greatly. Some left much to be desired (eg Rod Stewart act) and there was bit too much emphasis on Australian humour for a ship with so many different nationalities but on the whole we had a good time in the theatre. The main dining room was very good. It was charming and service excellent. We chose as usual to go My Time which worked well for us.We like being flexible and being able to meet different people.We didnt feel that the table allocation was very good though unlike previous cruises - often the allocation would leave huge tables for 10 part empty or we would even be put on a table and then no one else sent to join us which was disappointing. The food was very good. There was ample choice. We did eat in Choppes Grille, the speciality steak resturant (for which there is a supplement) one night and it was excellent. The Filet Mingnon was delicious. The MDR is very good indeed but there is something more special about the speciality restaurant if you feel like a different dining experience. Breakfast in the MDR is very nice too - a lovely way to start the day - as is complementary breakfast on your balcony when the weather is lovely.Food is also available in the Park Cafe in the solarium much of the day until 1 am and it is very good. The Windjammer buffet restaurant is Ok but generally find it a bit hectic. Formal nights were special. There are quite alot of folk who dont keep to the dress code in the MDR though which is a bit disappointing for those who look forward to the Formal Night. Photographers are every where of course and you will have your photo taken loads of times. They are a bit pricey but that said it is a good opportunity to have a lovely photo and its unlikely after so many being taken that you wont find one you like! The staff are all very good. We had an excellent Captain with a great sense of humour. Our cruise Director was good too. We enjoyed the pools - one open air and one in the indoor solarium (adults only. The children also had a separate water slide elsewhere open for a few hours a day. The gym was well equipped but we werent impressed with the advice given by one of the leaders of the gym staff which we felt was somewhat dubious. There were some shops on board which were OK There was a good cimema, an open air cinema screen, good, mini golf and shuffle board. There were other facilities such as rock climbing and casino but we didnt use these. The Ports We first arrived at Milford Sound in South Island NZ. This is spectacular. We chose to risk it and take the apparently pricey overnight, overland trip from there via Queenstown to rejoin the ship at Dunedin the next evening. This trip was amazing and worth every penny. We were so glad to did it. 40 of us tendered off at 7.30 am, seeing the Sound from an amazing perspective and took a short coach trip to the lake side to walk along and look back at the ship dwarfed by the Sound and sitting beneath the huge waterfall - lovely sight. The lakeside walk was followed by a forest & waterfalls walk (think Lord of the Rings Forest), then the amazing Mirror lakes, and through breathkaing Alps and snow capped mountains and avalances to Queenstown. We stayed in a good hotel (Millenium) and had the afternoon to ourselves to explore this beautiful place before meeting for a cruise across the lake to a beautiful lakesie restaurant for a delicious meal. This was followed by an interesting sheep shearing and sheep dog exhibition and back to the hotel via the steamer boat for 10.15 so the day was very full. An early start the next day took us to Arrow Town, gold mining village and then the home of Bunje jumping where our amazing tour guide jumped for us as no one was waiting to go!! Thats a guide and a half! We then headed to a winery, saw more sepctacular scenery, had lunch and headed to Dunedin for a tour of the sights before returning to the ship. A trip never to be forgotten. Akaroa was an opportunity to see Christchurch but as it was 1.5 hrs away and there was still so much earthquake damage we decided to enjoy Akaroa. We were tendered off and then independently took a boat trip with Black Cat around the harbour to see the wildlife. It was easy to book yourself and much cheaper than the ship trip with the same company (remember the ships trips are in US dollars and the local tours in NZ dollars). We saw lots of wildlife - 30-40 Hector dolphins, the Blue eyed penguins and lots of seals. It was excellent - good boat and very clear and informative commentary. Loved it. We then walked around the bays, went up the lighthouse, to the church for a guided tour etc and had a fantastic day. Its a lovely place and easy to explore and get walking around independently after being on the ship. Weather was amazing Wellington is the capital. You can walk about 20/30 mins into the centre or take a shuttle. We went to the Museum which was very interactive, varied and interesting and then to the Cable car which takes you to the top of the Botanical gardens. From there its a knee aching steep walk down (wouldnt want to go up !!)through lovey gardens and views to the rose gardens at the bottom. Then an easy walk back to the ship but make sure you cross up and over the railway on a bridge as soon as you meet it or else you are stuck across the railwaylines from the ship and have to walk all the way back (take it from us...a kind local walked back with us!!). We also went to the lovely wooden Old St Pauls cathedral which is worth visiting. Tauaranga was a great port. Everything says its Tauaranga but it is actually Mount Maunganui which is lovely. Some took a bus ride to Tauranga but didnt think much to it. The ususal thing to do from this port is to see the geothermal activity around Rotarua which is amazing. We did that but would have liked another day just to be at Mount Maunganui too. There is a Mount to climb and lovely beaches to enjoy including a peaceful harbour side beach and surfing ocean side beach (which goes on for miles). We walked off the ship and chose a tour from an information centre just off the ship. It was much cheaper than the ships tour. They book up quickly though so its worth getting off early to make the most of the day. 9 of us went in a comfy mini bus with an excellent local guide to the thermal springs Rotarua at Whakarewarewa where we saw bubbling mud, Champagne pool, Guysers, Mauri show etc. We also visited Kiwi farms and saw beautiful lakes, crystal clear springs and beauutiful countryside. The local tours stop at lots of interesting extra places cf the large coach tours too. There was just time on return for a walk on the beach then back to the ship. Auckland - here you dock right next to the Hilton and take a strange and tortuous route off the ship through the hotel area. But its easy to get straight to the city centre. We did our own thing again here and chose to take a nearby ferry across to Devonport - a quiant suburb with lovely old wooden houses and sandy beaches where we were able to swim and walk along the coast. It was lovely. We also visited the excellent free Maritime museum where there is a fabulous waterfront cafe with to die for home made snacks (try the warm savoury scones!). Our last port was Bay of Islands. It was bit dull and cloudy so it didnt seem worth the helicopter tour which would have been spectacular if the sky and sea had been their usual brilliant colours. We were tendered off here with an option for an early bird tender if you were not on a ship trip (they get priority tenders usually). We took the early bird. The local tour facility seemed inclined just to try to sell the helicopter tours. We walked outside and took a local trip with another couple which turned out to be great. We went to the local waterfalls, ancient stone hose, its oldest house in NZ and its lovely cafe, an ancient Kauri Forest, Chocolate and woodwork factories and Glow worm caves (which were very good). A full day and well worth it. There was a craft market and shops at the central area of the bay. It was nice to walk back along the bay to the tender rather than taking the shuttle. So most of the ports were easy to explore independently and take tours arranged with locals at the time if you wnated. The locals are so very friendly and pleasant and relaxed. We were fortunate to have excellent weather. The colours of sky, landscape and sea were amazing. The beauty of NZ is indescribable - there is no way that you can do justice to it. The cruise was an excellent way to see it and we were gald we chose this way rather than a mobile home. If you're wondering about it - just do it! You wont regret it! Just a couple of last comments - the Tasman Sea can be choppy. We were fortunate but it was bit choppy returning. Lastly - we stayed in Sydney after disembarking, at the Intercontinental in a club room with access to the club lounge on the roof top. What a bonus this turned out to be ! Not only was the hotel, club lounge and food great and so close to the ship, but we watched the ship sail out the next night from the roof top! It was quite emotional seeing it sailing out of that beautiful harbour and quite the icing on the cake at end of a wonderful holiday! Oh - and one final thing! Take the ferry from Darling Harbour to Central Quay -this was the last thing we did and fantastic - perfect views of the Opera House and Bridge and the ferry goes under the bridge - great! Read Less
Sail Date January 2013
Given my intro, I will add that I do not complain about things on cruises...but this time I'm making an exception. This New Zealand cruise, which was lovely by itself, was a disappointment when it came to the cruise ship experience. ... Read More
Given my intro, I will add that I do not complain about things on cruises...but this time I'm making an exception. This New Zealand cruise, which was lovely by itself, was a disappointment when it came to the cruise ship experience. I was disappointed that the dining room food was so overly salted to the point that I had to return my entrees on two occasions because they were inedible. I am definitely not fussy about food, but I would think, given the average age of most cruisers on this trip (65+), that the chef would be more sensitive to the needs of this group of people, i.e. less salt in the food. Everyone can add as much salt as they want, but you can't remove it once it's on your plate. I will also add that the menu itself provided few "oooooh, yummy" moments. The prime rib - when we had it - was excellent, but on the whole I looked at the menu and tried to pick out something/anything that sounded good. The options were poor, in my opinion...and I've certainly never experienced that in all the sailings I've done. Finally, I was surprised at the lack of interesting things to do on the ship. Yes, I'll admit I no longer go to the towel folding or vegetable carving demonstrations. But the daily activity sheet contained mostly spa selling disguised as health "seminars", casino tournaments or bingo, and the (very) occasional class. No port lectures, not even the usual lecture going over the upcoming excursions. Heaven forbid something vaguely intellectual. The movie theater was so tiny that you had to go at least 30 minutes early to get in, while the main theater was empty. Why didn't they at least show the movies in there when they could? Given all this complaining, I am now done for the next 10 years. I'll go on RCI again, but hope that things are better on the next cruise. Read Less
Sail Date January 2013
We were a family of 4 (kids 13 and 15). The reason we chose Radiance was due to the teenage kids club and the number of dining options (my husband is a chef and food quality is important to us). We pre-booked the Chef's Table Dining ... Read More
We were a family of 4 (kids 13 and 15). The reason we chose Radiance was due to the teenage kids club and the number of dining options (my husband is a chef and food quality is important to us). We pre-booked the Chef's Table Dining Package which cost us $114 each (adults only) This gave us 5 extra dining options. Boarding was easy, we were supposed to check in at 2.30pm, however when we dropped our bags at 1pm I just asked if it was possible for us to board and they said 'no problem' so that was a good start. When we boarded we went straight to our room which was located just meters from the Guest Relations desk, at first we were concerned as we had booked a quad and it was set up as a double, however this was changed at turn down. We spent the first night as the double bed with the 2 single beds dropping down from the ceiling on either side of the cabin (directly above the double bed), but this didn't work as the only way out of the double was to crawl down the middle of the bed. The next day we asked our attendant to change it to 4 singles and this was much better as it also gave more room. The cabin was better than we had anticipated. The first 2 days were wet and rough so we all spent them being seasick, my husband and I just felt queasy all the time but our daughter was sick all day and our son a couple of times. We took all the medication possible, the complimentary tablets from the desk seemed the most effective. Reaching Noumea was a relief. Noumea is a small busy city and we chose a 3 hour private tour which was fine (air conditioned van was a relief from the heat) we then walked around the shops for a little while and headed back to the ship for the rest of the day. Lifou and Isles of Pines were lovely, disembarking was smooth. We did however go back to the ship at lunchtime on both occasions. We found the Windjammer Buffet Restaurant a pleasant surprise, a lovely variety of dishes for every meal. The Park Cafe in the Solarium was great, light lunches, healthy salads and some impressive sweets. The drinks available were great, as a non-drinker I only purchased a soft drink once in 8 days and a "real" coffee on a couple of occasions. We dined in the Cascades dining room on the second night, firstly we were disappointed that we had booked a table of 4 and were sat on a table of 10. The food is Cascades was so disappointing, definitely not of a high standard, steak requested MR came out MW, desserts bland and presentation ordinary, so glad we had purchased the package for extra dining. Izumi was at the back of the Windjammer with lovely views and fabulous service, food was OK, nice and fresh. Chopps Grille was a great dining experience, good service, lovely presentation and flavour, yummy dessert, a nice quiet escape from the 2500 other passengers. Samba Grill was on level 12 right at the back of the ship, again lovely views and a really unique dining experience. Entree was a cold buffet of salads, prawns, antipasto. Then the main was 9 courses of meat, you control the flow by using a light box on your table to inform the waiters if you were ready for the next round. The meat flavours were sensational and the quantity of food was huge. They even asked at the end if you would like a repeat of any of the meats!! Giovannis is not as casual as it likes to think, which is not a bad thing. The concept of sharing the entrees is great and we really enjoyed the whole experience, our waiter was fantastic. The desserts though were from a dessert trolley and not that great as the cannolis were stale and the chocolate cake dry. Chef's Table is the exclusive 5 course degustation dinner for 12-16 guests. The service was impeccable, the company just lovely and the food.......ok, definitely a high standard but some dishes could have been better, but we still really enjoyed the whole experience. The wine with each course was generous and the meal was finished with coffee/tea and a large selection of Petit Fours. We then got a complimentary Apron and Signed Cook Book, so well worth the price. The teenage kids had an absolute ball, we felt they were safe at all times, we checked in on them 1-2 times a day just in case they wanted to talk to us. After breakfast with us we met up again at dinner time at which point they decided whether to eat with us or not!!! They came with us to Samba and Giovannis which they both loved and we just paid the extra fee for them. The things that we were disappointed with were the entertainment, (we thought the Theatre productions were awful and walked out on 2 of them), the live music was good but were on for 1-2 hour stints only. The movies on the pool deck were dreadful, didn't watch one. Bingo was just too busy, we attempted it twice but gave up as it took too long. The one thing we were looking forward to were the self levelling pool tables, but only got to play once as they were constantly taken over by kids (not very pleasant 10-12 yr olds), there were signs around saying tables were for over 18 only but eventhough there were staff around no-one monitored this. The spas around the pool were also always full of the same aged kids. Overall I would highly recommend Radiance of The Seas, cruising was just not for us, glad we tried it though and we do have some lovely family memories. Read Less
Sail Date December 2012
We had previously cruised for the first time on the Sun Princess, and when trying to decide on our next cruise, numerous experienced travellers suggested Royal Caribbean. We were told, "If you think Princess was good, wait until you ... Read More
We had previously cruised for the first time on the Sun Princess, and when trying to decide on our next cruise, numerous experienced travellers suggested Royal Caribbean. We were told, "If you think Princess was good, wait until you go with Royal Caribbean". Unfortunately RC did not live up to this. The room was slightly better in layout and the staff all round were exceptional. However in general the quality of the shows, food and on board activities were not impressive. While they were reasonable, there was definitely not the wow factor that we had experienced on the Sun Princess. The meals were generally dressed up versions of the upstairs buffet and lacked a lot of substance. It appeared that as the cruise progressed the food got slightly better. Some of the female dancers were overweight, out of time with the music and in general the regular on board entertainers quite amateurish. The special guest entertainers were very good, but like the food left the best to late on the cruise. The other main issues were a general disregard for rules and standards, such as young men coming to dinner in the Cascades dining room on formal nights drunk, loud and in T shirts, yet dining room managers letting them in. Children of all ages were allowed to run wild in all areas of the ship unaccompanied by any adults.The on board activities seemed to all revolve around getting more money out of you, Bingo, Casino, Fitness Programs or Beauty Treatment. There was very little information about our destinations and what there was to do at these ports, and considering our ports were reduced from 5 to 3, you would think it not that difficult. We received more helpful information from fellow travellers than from the RC staff and cruise director. Generally it was a pleasant cruise and if you were a first timer, very nice, however there were many vastly more experienced cruisers than myself also expressing similar thoughts of dissatisfaction. I am not sure if I expected too much from RC or I struck it lucky on Princess, but the experience did not live up to the hype! Read Less
Sail Date December 2012
This was the second cruise that my husband and I have taken. The first was on the Oasis, so I was interested to compare the two ships. We loved the Oasis and so were pleasantly surprised that we enjoyed the Radiance just as much. This ... Read More
This was the second cruise that my husband and I have taken. The first was on the Oasis, so I was interested to compare the two ships. We loved the Oasis and so were pleasantly surprised that we enjoyed the Radiance just as much. This particular sailing had lots of young people and 500 children. Most of the children were fairly well behaved although the stairs were quite a challenge at times - I was nearly bowled over a couple of times and also you couldn't get near the main pool. Older people were definitely in the minority on this cruise. The cabin was quite spacious, with a balcony which had a small table and two chairs. The cabin was kept immaculately clean by our cabin attendant who was very friendly. In fact, every staff member we dealt with over the 11 days was exceptionally friendly as well as very competent. Every request was happily attended to in a very courteous manner. For dining, we had My Time which is very convenient as you can adjust the time to suit different daily routines. The food in the main dining room was very good. We also bought the five restaurant Dining Package ($145 per person) which was definitely worth it. The Chef's Table was amazing - beautiful food and wines and lots of fun. We also loved Chops Grille - so much that we went a second time! The only restaurant that didn't appeal was Izumi, but Japanese food is not my taste. We ate breakfasts in the main dining room as well as lunches on some of the days. The buffet, The Windjammer, is also available but it is always full and we didn't like it that much. But it is fine if you want casual, fast dining and lots of food. The shows were a mixed bag - the production shows were good, a couple of the smaller shows not so. Johnathan Clark, in one of the Headliner shows was superb - extremely talented and very funny. Overall we were satisfied with the shows and they were all worth attending. The gym is well equipped and I didn't see anyone waiting for equipment at any stage. The stretch and yoga classes were very basic but still worth doing. The Abs class was also very good. We also NEVER used the lifts and found ourselves going up and down stairs many, many times a day which is great exercise. The ports we visited were varied - some developed (to some extent) and others undeveloped pristine beaches. Champagne Bay was truly magical - beautiful sand, scenery and water. It was not unbearable crowded and we didn't wait very long for tenders. Noumea rained all day so we didn't even go ashore. I have only one negative for Royal Caribbean - the smoking policy. Smoking is allowed on balconies and this means that if your neighbour smokes, the smoke comes into your own cabin and makes it stink. It was a shame it happened to us on both our cruises and we couldn't get much use out of the balcony. We complained on this cruise but it was a full sailing so we couldn't be moved. They were sympathetic and asked our neighbours to be considerate but it didn't stop them smoking. And even though we didn't even open our balcony door OUR cabin smelt of cigarettes for the whole cruise. Note that the smoking rules on board are regulated by what port (or country) the ship sails from. Australia has strict laws forbidding any smoking inside so this must be adhered to. This is not the case when sailing from other places ie US, Europe, Asia etc. But overall it was a great cruise and I would have given it 5 stars if it wasn't for the smoking. Bobby, the cruise director was fun and Captain Sindre was very visible throughout the cruise. He is a very personable fellow with a great sense of humour. The ship definitely has a happy, cohesive feeling about it. The other staff were wonderful and most of the other cruisers we met were very friendly. We had quite a few wet days but it didn't really affect us that much. A final tip, for breakfasts and lunches especially, and even dinners if you wish, sit at different tables and you get to meet many interesting, friendly people. It is great if you like socialising. Or you can keep to yourselves - it is everyone's individual choice. Read Less
Sail Date December 2012
A full ship of about 2300 passengers (including around 500 children as the beginning of December is a time that parents take children out of school before the end of term and before the festive season)left Sydney for 2 days at sea then ... Read More
A full ship of about 2300 passengers (including around 500 children as the beginning of December is a time that parents take children out of school before the end of term and before the festive season)left Sydney for 2 days at sea then calls by tender to Isle of Pines, Mystery Island, Champagne Bay, Lifou and port calls to Vila and Noumea before 2 days return to Sydney. This ship is normally in American waters but visits down under for a few months during the southern spring/summer. It seems to be a better class than the normal ships permanently based in Australia that do this route. Yet pricing is very competitive. The ship is clean, well equipped, lots of facilities and activities, good resources and captained by a man who respects passengers AND crew and finds time to mix with the people.Yes the captain greets everybody daily, holds a 1hour ship video/questions session, is on hand at formal dinners, has photos taken, joins in cake making and yes hello anywhere and anytime. Many people on this cruise had been on other P&O cruises and noted the significant upgrade features, facilities and services with Radiance. At least 2 couples we met booked specifically because of the ship. So now for a brief summary of the key areas- Onboard activities are multiple, continuous, pretty well organised and cater for all ages and interests. We found only the art auctions to be abit hard sell. Sure other things like casino, fitness, grooming and specialty dining were mentioned but definitely not hard sell.A couple minor issues - only a 50 seat cinema, occasional poor siting as activities crossed.The pool is small. There is no public laundry so people were not pleased with $15-25 for a bag wash only.Refridgerator is cooler only so only an issue if you neeed cold items. Dining includes the buffet/smorgasbord in the Windjammer and service in the Cascades restaurants and thirdly some specialty restaurants for a fee (which we did not participate). The Windjammer is good with only MINOR issues-very limited options for people with special diets,an over attention to fried, burger foods, not enough non red meat options and towars the end limited food choices as some had run out both persihable and non perishable.The Cascades restaurant was very good food, services, options and seating.Food quantities are adequate but not large. Entertainment in the theatre was first class and appropriate in other venues. The backstage tour was excellent into the workings and lives of the performers. Cabins were pretty good with many balcony units. Bathroom is 1 person only but adequate, bed (king) was excellent, options for pillows,but limited to poor TV options (eg movies as they have a pay option, good lighting, numerous mirrors and free room service. Shore stops and excursions were well handled with tenders for 4 locations and the 2 main cities of Vila and Noumea require bus transfer as some distance from the centre. Most people did their own thing but there was a fair number doing organised shore trips. Each location is different with its options. There was no hassling or pressure from locals except at the 2 large ports.Visiting Noumea on a Sunday is poor planning as shops, museums and other sights are closed and only cafes/restaurants are open. Even moreso if you arrive on a wet day. For the smaller stops local currency (available on ship at about 5-8% below best)is readily accepted and more emphasis in the 2 major ports on the local currency but still plenty accept A$. Sum: A good ship that is a definite 3.5/4.0 star (no real 5 star in Australia for this route)that has no real significant negatives. Only some minor issues that most Australians can work around. A ship that is better than average for this part of the world. The itinerary is OK (Noumea on Sunday the exception)and you get what most people expect. An enjoyable time and most people seemed pleased. Read Less
Sail Date December 2012
We joined the Radiance of the Seas for a December 2012 ex Sydney (Australia)South Pacific cruise to Vanuatu and New Caledonia. The ship was full partly due its presence, partly to its cruise location and partly to the date. Historically ... Read More
We joined the Radiance of the Seas for a December 2012 ex Sydney (Australia)South Pacific cruise to Vanuatu and New Caledonia. The ship was full partly due its presence, partly to its cruise location and partly to the date. Historically ships of this standard don't visit destinations in the south pacific so many people jumped at the chance. The ship lived up to expectations and previous reviews. It is a genuine 4 star ship and crew.The captain is welcoming to passengers AND crew on a daily basis, is seen about the ship and participates in Captains Corner and Cake Making sessions. His friendliness, good communications and attention to passengers seems to be contagious with the crew which pleased the predominately Australian list. The ship has all the makings for good dining, entertainment and relaxation. It may not be the biggest or newest but it is clean with a good layout and most standard trimmings. It is more middle class with a high percentage of balcony cabins yet still providing the luxury of specialty restaurants and features. It is a ship perfectly placed for the first time and middle of the road cruisers. With some 2300 passengers it is flexible with attention to dining, entertainment, personal space and comfort. OK time to be negative. Sure there are some things that could be better but I emphasise they are minor in significance. The existing formula works well. The outdoor pool is small, the bathroom is small (especially noted by large people), the refridgerator is a cooler only,the cinema is small (50)and no public laundry. Some highlights include the theatre shows and productions, quality of food (as distinct from quantity),the variety of entertainment (to cover all interests and ages), the quiet public space, the smoothness of embarkation, disembarkation,tender service and the cooperative and friendly approach of senior dining room waiters to people with special diets (there was a high number of passengers in this category). All passengers we spoke with enjoyed the ship. We would happily use it again and overall it represented good value. Read Less
Sail Date December 2012
Radiance of the Seas Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.2
Dining 4.0 4.0
Entertainment 4.0 3.7
Public Rooms 4.0 4.3
Fitness Recreation 4.5 4.1
Family 4.0 4.1
Shore Excursion 3.5 3.8
Enrichment 2.0 3.5
Service 4.5 4.4
Value For Money 4.5 3.8
Rates N/A 4.3

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