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

This ship had not done its research before the cruise. The weather in northern Australia at this time is unpredictable and the ship had not prepared for the worst scenario. As a result tendering in several ports were difficult. Adequate ... Read More
This ship had not done its research before the cruise. The weather in northern Australia at this time is unpredictable and the ship had not prepared for the worst scenario. As a result tendering in several ports were difficult. Adequate local larger tenders were not firmly booked. As a result two ports were only visited by a small number of guests and those from the US and Canada were deeply disappointed. The boarding process in Sydney was a disaster, due to extra sensitization because of previous outbreak of gastro. The process was completely chaotic and disorganized. Many frail elderly were made to stand for hours. In spite of previous outbreak of gastro and extra sanitizing guests were subjected to eating buns and wraps with their fingers, without sanitizing of their hands. Whether there was anyone suffering as a result of these conditions was of course not known, by guests, but the ship was full of unhappy guest as a result. The menu was full of surprises, not in a nice way. For example, Bouillabaisse, borscht, Minestrone and clam chowder were nothing like what is commonly known. The nightly shows however were mostly excellent. To their credit the serving waiters and room attendants were all very good. This cannot be said about the higher echelon who were not very approachable. There was paranoia that all approaches were potential complaints. Perhaps this can be explained and justified as there were many complains. Australians generally abhor complaints and are easily pleased, especially regarding food. The Rhapsody of the Seas had been a success and is popular in Australia. It is a pity the Radiance is such a let down and put many off Royal Caribbean. Unfortunately for Australia it also caused many from the US and Canada not wanting to return. I hope those in the Miami Head Office would go back to the drawing board. Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
Have Just returned from Perth and the 16 night Top end of Australia Cruise. Had a very good time despite a few disappointments. RCL does have some fine tuning to do with the Radiance of the seas in order to maintain customer satisfaction ... Read More
Have Just returned from Perth and the 16 night Top end of Australia Cruise. Had a very good time despite a few disappointments. RCL does have some fine tuning to do with the Radiance of the seas in order to maintain customer satisfaction . Firstly I must say that I received NO information from RCL prior to the cruise. not one email or letter. No notification that shore excursions were available (missed out on one I wanted to do as a result of this)I thought this was appalling. Everything I found out bout my cruise I found out by myself. Last year we sailed with Princess cruises and we were inundated with pre cruise information and welcoming emails. RCL had the worst pre cruise contact I've ever experienced. Embarkation was a disaster. Long waits in Queues in the heat. Many passengers were upset and tired by the time they got on the ship. in the meantime the Moet I ordered for my room had gone warm but we eventually were settled in our cabin and ready to explore the Radiance Cabin was very nice. The rounded end beds were handy as we didn't hit the corner every time we passed but for a tall person I did get a bit fed up with my feet hanging off the bed. Décor was lovely. Bathroom was small particularly the shower but I was expecting this. The regular smell of Sewerage outside my room and on the balcony was off putting and no staff could really explain why this was so. Dining was great. We chose my time dining and we had beautiful food most of the time. Also tried 4 of the speciality restaurants. Sambra Grill, Chops Grill and Giovanni's were all superb but Izumi was only average. Went to the Windjammer a number of times and it was a great selection but needed a bit more variety. The entertainment was high quality and a lot of fun. We thoroughly enjoyed the shows. There were lots of other activities which were fun. Casino was great despite losing more than I wanted to on the poker machines. Casino staff were friendly and very accommodating. Many thanks to Robert and Inna particularly the waiters, room attendants etc were excellent and very friendly. The officers and higher levels of staff were quite "stand offish". We found the staff on the Sun Princess much more friendlier and accommodating. Loved both pools and spent a lot of time there. Shore excursions were way over priced and very disappointing in general. We spent $250 each on a nightmare tour to the barrier reef, a two hour trip to there and back had very choppy seas and resulted in most passengers terrified and vomiting. This tour should have been cancelled or our money refunded. It was far from pleasant. Other Shore excursions were way overpriced and disorganised in General. The Tendering process was generally a nightmare and the Radiance needs to sort this out for future cruises. Most of the passengers were disappointed in the change of Port from Broome to Port Headland however the reception we received from the people of Port Headland was wonderful and very touching.Seeing everyone along the foreshore cheering us as we left Port was a highlight of the trip The Ship is Beautiful and was very clean. I would recommend this ship provided that the tendering process improves but the warn everyone to be cautious about the shore excursions Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
The Sydney embarkation was a major problem and bad impression for the start of the cruise but after learning it was due to sanitizing the ship after an outbreak of the Noro virus I was happy to wait. It was a problem for older people with ... Read More
The Sydney embarkation was a major problem and bad impression for the start of the cruise but after learning it was due to sanitizing the ship after an outbreak of the Noro virus I was happy to wait. It was a problem for older people with many of them deteriorating with the heat and having to get priority boarding - the staff were very stressed by the situation. Once on baord all was well - the ship was lovely, the activites varied and interesting, the entertainment wonderful, the food suberb, the staff fantastic and the specialty restaurants a nice change for dining. I think a lot of the problems could have been solved by quickly if communication was a bit more forward coming - they only had to explain what was happening and why and a lot more people would have been a lot more understanding - especially with the tendering process which was hampered by winds and choppy seas which did not allow for the ships tenders to be used. Also as the towns visited are quite small they did well to organise alternative tenders. We met lots of lovely people and had a great time - we only did a few tours - one being cancelled to Whitehaven beach due to the weather - I think the tour operator running the great barrier reef tour should also have cancelled as it appeared not to be a very comfortable trip - but we ventured into town and had a good time. The cabin was small but quite comfortable and appreciated my many towel friends that appeared in my room. The pools were fabulous and it was a shme the weather wasnt good enough to take advantage of the outdoor screen for the movies etc most of the time. Everyone was quite dissappointed that broome had been removed as a port but port headland turned out to be a real treat with great support from the town and welcoming people - the send off was amazing. Bobby and Becky did a great job and were happy hosts. All in all a great cruise - just need to communicate problems earlier rather than later. Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
Sailed on the with Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines' "Radiance of the Seas" from Sydney to Perth via Bali on a 16 day cruise departing on a sunny Saturday afternoon from Circular Quay Sydney, 15 October 2011. This was the first ... Read More
Sailed on the with Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines' "Radiance of the Seas" from Sydney to Perth via Bali on a 16 day cruise departing on a sunny Saturday afternoon from Circular Quay Sydney, 15 October 2011. This was the first cruise of Radiance in Australian waters however its sister ship Rhapsody of the Seas has just completed its third season. Cruise overall was very enjoyable but I cannot let it pass without first commenting on the booking in procedures. Put simply the embarkation was a complete debacle. RCCL will need to get their act together on this matter before their next cruise in Australia. It was so bad the Captain made the decision to delay the mandatory safety drill till the second day at sea due to the number of elderly passengers distressed by the process. A number actually collapsed while sweltering it out in the lengthy queues. In fact the elderly couple in front of us on the queue were very distressed and needed assistance from my wife during the ordeal. The Captain did formally apologise to all passengers but the damage had obviously already been done. I think the Captain like everyone else would have been very annoyed. The embarkation process was the talking point right throughout the cruise and even on the last day it was still a subject of discussion. Having got the boarding process issue out of the way I have to say that I think Radiance has made a reasonable start to its cruise program around Australasia and has something to build on. The ship itself is very impressive. At 90.000 tonnes it is large but not overly so and you never get the feeling of overcrowding, so common on other lines, with Radiance. There were queues at various times but they were quickly dealt with and were of no real concern. The ship sails smoothly with very little discernable "bumps" of the stabilisers. Even in the quite rough seas on the trip the ship maintained a smooth course. Glass walls dominate the central atrium which itself is some 9 stories high and a spectacular centrepiece for the ship. Faculties are first glass; a well-equipped gym, two adult pools and a children's pool. Actually there are numerous children's facilities and was surprising therefore there were only 60 kids on board. The kids would also like the putt putt course, waterslide, basketball court and inside areas like the cinema and disco/games room. A highly recommended cruise for those with kids. The stand out feature of this cruise for this writer was the food and service. The dining experience was enhanced by the sterling efforts of our waiters Karen and Marvin both of who are from the Philippines, Ever courteous and efficient, but unobtrusive, they made our dining experience all the more enjoyable. The food itself was varied, good portions and beautifully presented. The late sitting was at 8:30 pm which suited out timetable and considerably less crowded than the 6:30 sitting. In fact we enjoyed the food and service in the Cascade Dining Room so much that for the first time on a cruise we did not go to one of the speciality dining restaurants. Extensive wine list is available but purchase in the single bottles is expensive. I would recommend purchase of a wine package which attracts savings of up to 40% on single bottles. As for the food and wine service ditto for our cabin attendant Joel, also from the Philippines, who was forever helpful and very discreet. Our cabin was roomy, well equipped and kept in excellent order by Joel. The beds were comfortable, well presented and there was more than enough storage space for the longest of voyages. Some commented that the shower recesses were small and that is so but this was countered somewhat by the strong water pressure which was a pleasant relief from previous ships. Linen, towelling and bedclothes were high quality. We did not do organised tours but rather made our own way around the ports in hire cars. Tours are expensive but you do get priority tender boarding. Some suggestions for the next venture of Radiance into Australian waters: 1. Improvement to the booking in procedures is a must. There has to be a better way to get 2,000 passengers onto a ship. In particular look at the procedures for issuing of Seapass cards. 2. Review procedures for tender ticket issue. Tender ticket issue for Bali was of particular concern with the queue forming at 11:00 am for a 2:15pm issue. 3. Open the pool bar after 7:00 pm. Keeps passengers on the pool decks rather than crowd the downstairs bars. Several of the insider cabin occupants were annoyed they were effectively dispatched downstairs as the pool bar had closed. 4. Have a late time show starting at 10:00 pm. People usually prefer to dine before a show. 5. Improve the quality of the inside cinema. I think a new projector is badly needed. Screen picture was barely watchable and nowhere near the quality of the large outdoor cinema. 6. Put more effort into the Port Hedland stop off. Do have to mention however that one of the highlights of the cruise however was the send-off we got form the residents of Port Hedland as they lined the shores and cheered as we left their port. 7. The bingo, at $32 a game was too expensive. As a result the crowds dropped off except for the last day. As a consequence payouts were not as high as they could have been. Things to remember before you cruise with Radiance: 1. Don't forget to bring an adapter for American power sockets. Also bring a small four gang power board to re charge all the essentials. 2. The wi fi internet works well but is quite slow and therefore expensive. Bring your mobile dongle which connects in all of the Australian Ports. If you do use the ship's wi fi and you are using an ISP make sure you address error code 550 with regards to the sending of emails. 3. Shampoo, conditioner and hand and body lotions are not provided, so don't forget to bring along. 4. There are no self-serve laundry facilities on board. Airlie beach is four days into the cruise and there is a self-service laundry just as you get of the ship. While not expensive on board ($15 per bag) we were not very happy with the standard of washing provided on board. 5. If you are going to hire cars do so before you leave. We used balieasycarretnal in Bali and were very pleased with the value, the driver and the standard of car. In Darwin AVIS and Budget are a half hour walk from the ship so is probably better to get a taxi. Radiance is a very impressive ship. An enjoyable cruise with some teething issues which I am sure management will address. Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
I booked this cruise as i was looking as a short cruise i could do while i am in AUSTRALIA and as never tried RADIANCE before i found this quite good. PRE CRUISE I flew from LONDON to ABU DHABI and had a 2 day stopover there as i ... Read More
I booked this cruise as i was looking as a short cruise i could do while i am in AUSTRALIA and as never tried RADIANCE before i found this quite good. PRE CRUISE I flew from LONDON to ABU DHABI and had a 2 day stopover there as i wanted to go to DUBAI mainly to see the great ship QE2 there. I booked a hotel close by and could see her out my bedroom. It broke up a very long flight. i then flew to MELBOURNE to visit a couple of friends i had met on a cruise to AUSTRALIA in 2005(sadly the ship's engines had a problem)and we were stuck in EGYPT for a week. i STAYED IN melbourne for 8 nights i always use BOOKING.COM as i always get good prices and do not have to pay till i get there. "SLEEP AND GO" was my hotel in MELBOURNE. Then i flew MELBOURNE to SYDNEY and stayed in a HOSTEL(I had my own single room) there was a bunk bed and bathroom,free wi fi and continental breakfast. Sadly my time in SYDNEY we had quite a bit of rain! EMBARKATION i left the HOSTEL at 10am and got the train to CIRCULAR QUAY, there were lifts at the station so carrying luggage was easy. When i got off at CIRCULAR QUAY it was only a few steps to the dock. My luggage was taken away, they changed the check in a few times as we were not leaving till 10pm. 4pm,2pm then 11am. But the ship had arrived a bit late and passengers were still getting off. So 1130 we started moving, as i was a PLATINUM MEMBER(over 30 nts cruising) i got a faster check in. the lady checked me in quick but forgot to give me a card to get onto the ship so i had to go back to get it. After the usual embarkation picture i went onto the ship. As the cabins were not ready till 1pm i went to the buffet. i was one of the 1st to go there and it was deserted, later it got quite full. CABIN After the lunch buffet i made my way to deck 10 to my cabin 1604 at the aft end. I loved the balcony it was quite long with 2 loungers and 2 chairs and a table. we were allowed to smoke out the balcony but i had to ask the steward for an ashtray. I saw a utube video of these cabins and sounded like the bathroom was a bit small but it was better. I had a lovely double bed it was very comfortable. a sofa which surprisingly was not that soft. I tried the tv but could not get it to work properly so called maintenance. they came quickly and spent 30mins taking the wire out and redoing it. if someone else had nmy cabin, whatever happened? the mini bar only had soft drinks and snacks and no ice you had to ask the steward to do that! LIFEBOAT DRILL We did this at 5pm despite not leaving till 10pm it didv not take long and did not have to take out life-jackets. RESTAURANTS As it was a short cruise i did not bother trying other restaurants as they were all full and had to pay extra. a shame as i would like to see what i thought. I had 1st sitting i guess i must have asked for a large table as it was for 10! I sat there on my own and waited! and waited!! finally a young man sat with me, he said the others went to the SAMBA GRILL. He only came as he changed from 2nd sitting to 1st otherwise i would have been on my own. ( i wonder if they would have sat me with someone else,I BET NOT!) The menu was very varied and i loved all of the food. I looked at the WINE LIST no carafe's of wine and the cheapest was $7 for a glass. I ordered a beer instead, but the waiter gave me someone else's card when i returned as i could not get into my cabin he did not seemed to be bothered. After that i did not bother ordering anymore. ENTERTAINMENT I went to both shows one was a LAS VEGAS STYLE with singers and dancers and the other was TANGO BUENOS AIRES also very good. It was never full and could easily get a seat. PORTS OF CALL As it was a cruise to nowhere we stopped nowhere in fact we only got out 42 miles enough to open the shops and casino. SHOPS I thought they had a pretty good choice of things. i like souvenirs with items of the ship and found quite a few. also ships models seems to be on most of the ships which i love. MEET AND GREET As it was a very short cruise i was surprised that they had a roll call for it. They had a sailaway meet but only a few turned up and i did not want to miss leaving port and the fireworks. the 2nd was the next day as was much better attended.I sat down and for the most part i was ignored(A GREAT SHAME) THINGS TO DO They had a rock climbing wall, i loved watching them go up but it was very scary looking. i missed the MINI GOLF but tried it the day we left and enjoyed that. LIBRARY This is the smallest library i have ever seen on a cruiseship for a large ship i was a bit surprised. FUTURE SALES Other lines like NCL really push these incentives to book a cruise onboard. But royal carribean did not, in fact you had to make an appointment to see someone. there was a way to get them to call you on the interactive tv but i made 2 requests and they did not even bother to call! DISEMBARKATION I was asked when i wanted to leave the ship i said 9am not wanting to rush. I had decided to [ pay by credit card i had to tell them i wanted the tips added to my bill. I got up early to get up the front(LIKE TITANIC! i like this idea!) Then had breakfast leaving my belongings in my cabin and shut the door. I still had not got the bill. I asked the steward and he said he would put mine on the door. i returned from breakfast to find no bill and my cabin wedged open by the steward. With all my belongings there for anyone to help themselves to. I had to queue up at the reception and wrote a complaint about the steward. I then realised my ipod touch had gone missing! i dropped it on the mini golf and some thoughtful person must have handed it in, i did not expect to get it back. AFTER CRUISE After leaving the ship i made it back to the hostel for another 2 nts in sydney before i flew home. ALL IN ALL The cruise was good only made one really good friend and not sure if i will do the RADIANCE AGAIN! Read Less
Sail Date November 2011
On November 20, 2011, we boarded Radiance of the Seas for a wonderful 14 day trip around New Zealand with a total of 8 stops along the way. This is a beautiful ship with lots of glass, a great atrium area and very easy to navigate from ... Read More
On November 20, 2011, we boarded Radiance of the Seas for a wonderful 14 day trip around New Zealand with a total of 8 stops along the way. This is a beautiful ship with lots of glass, a great atrium area and very easy to navigate from one end to the other. We were in an aft cabin on Deck 9 and did lots of walking to the elevators in the middle of the ship, not too long a walk, we got great exercise. Our cabin had lots of storage space for all of our clothes for a 14 day trip and the luggage stored easily under the bed. The cabin had a nice flat screen tv to watch our map which detailed where we were on the trip, along with the daily updates from the cruise director. The Tasman Sea was a bit rough on the way to New Zealand but just rocked us to sleep. We cruised Milford, Doubtful and Dusky Sounds. Cruising through the Sounds was absolutely amazing, it was raining as we went through, but the waterfalls were full and some of them traveled down the entire length of the cliffs. Fortunately we had an aft cabin and were able to stand under the overhang and take some fantastic pictures. Cannot believe how close the Captain got the ship under a waterfall - everyone at the front was getting very wet, truly a once in a lifetime event. All our excursions were booked through Royal Caribbean. Our next stop was in Dundedin, we took the Taieri Gorge Train Excursion. The train picked us up right at the dock and whisked us away on a beautiful ride through the countryside. We also had tea, a snack and lunch on the train. A very nice trip. The stop in Akoroa we boarded a bus to go to Middle Earth where they filmed The Lord Of the Rings. Our tour guide was Hammond Peek who won an Oscar for Sound Mixing the Lord of the Rings - Return of the King, and his personal stories made the film come to life on the bus. We saw where Edora was constructed. In Tarangua we toured a Kiwi farm and the Elms Mission House, amazing experience. In Auckland we sailed on the harbour and took a highlight tour through the city stopping at the Maritime Museum, Winter Garden and Kelly Tarlton's Underwater World to see the penguins. Our last land trip was back in Sydney to the Wildlife World, koalas, kangaroos, etc. and the aquarium. So much to see in two weeks but it was the best cruise of the 10 I have taken. The food was very good in the main dining room, adequate in the buffet at the Windjammer, and we enjoyed snacking at the Park Cafe. We went to a show every night except one and were entertained by many artists, singers and dancers, well done Royal Caribbean. We visited the spa for a massage, facial and hand massage - very relaxing. There was plenty to keep us busy on the sea days, bingo, trivia, dance lessons, golf, horse racing, gambling - never a dull moment. My sister and I thoroughly enjoyed this trip and now want to go back and do the entire country of Australia. Read Less
Sail Date November 2011
Royal Caribbean Radiance of the Seas personal review. 16 night cruise sailing out of Sydney 18th December 2011. Embarkation 12noon. Arrived at Sydney's International Passenger Cruise Terminal located at the Rocks area (near ... Read More
Royal Caribbean Radiance of the Seas personal review. 16 night cruise sailing out of Sydney 18th December 2011. Embarkation 12noon. Arrived at Sydney's International Passenger Cruise Terminal located at the Rocks area (near Circular Quay), to be met with long lines of passengers waiting to board and go through security. Baggage taken to the drop off point and we seemed to join the line at a break point in the line, as instructed by a guy giving out health slips to fill in. Time from arrival by taxi, to boarding the ship, approximately 50 minutes. Radiance of the Seas has recently gone through a multimillion dollar refurbishment of the public areas and staterooms in May-June of 2011. The main public areas located on deck 6 are extensive and spacious, giving three separate entertainment and bar venues in a line. Indeed there are numerous bars located throughout this cruise liner, certainly drinkers are very well catered for on this ship, nobody should go thirsty cruising on this lady of the seas. We never found it difficult to find a relaxing seat to enjoy a tipple or, to sit and just read a book on a sea day. Occasionally the Colony Club was a tad cold with the air conditioning, as this is where all the main cocktail parties were held, when chocker bloc with bodies in the Colony Club the temperature was just right. So this is why when not fully occupied, I guess this room was set to be cooler than the other excellent venues. Overall though, the whole ship seemed to be at an excellent temperature to enjoy this luxurious ship. This is Radiance of the Seas first season sailing out of Australia and, I consider it to be the best overall luxury ship currently located here for the Australian summer season and in the main the Australian market. The staterooms are spacious, bright and well designed to give a good feel. The beds have rounded corners, again I suspect, to give that extra feel of space. I'm 5'10 and always my feet were hanging over the end of the bed. Nevertheless, an idea that made the cabin feel bigger than it actually was, although I would have preferred a full length bed. The mattress's had a comforter on top and this helped with a softer feel than those without. Pillows are supplied in two size heights, one firm, and one softer. The bathroom is tiny and the shower the smallest I have encountered in 20 years of cruising. I think that some larger framed individuals would find it a challenge to squeeze into these shower cubicles. If you have a balcony cabin, either forward or towards the aft, you will not be able to view the length of the ship at anytime, as at mid-ships it has been designed with a curve that overhangs the decks below. This prevents you seeing what a monster length this ship has and unlike some ships when you view the internal corridors you feel, wow what a length, with this one, you feel you are on a much smaller ship than what you actually are. I personally liked the effect on the corridors but would have preferred to be able to see both the bow and towards the stern from my balcony. But as they say, you just can't have it both ways. The food in the Windjammer both for breakfast and lunch was always plentiful and fresh, along with being extremely appetizing. At breakfast the choice was excellent, with both English, Continental and American sausages on offer. With lean back bacon on offer as preferred by the English and Australian guests, along with the fattier streaky, crunchier type bacon as taken by our American cousins. Eggs of all types we freshly cooked to order and, on the three occasions that I was tempted to throw caution to the wind, mine were cooked to perfection. A very full and outstanding quality breakfast was available each and every day of our 16 day cruise. Outstanding is the only word to describe this breakfast and one has to compliment the Radiance of the Seas for achieving such constantly high quality of food, day in and day out. Lunch in the Windjammer again was of an extremely high quality, with the hot plate dishes and variety changing daily. Along with the roast meat choice, this again, was always immaculately cooked and served to you by a delightfully helpful chef. The vegetables also changed daily along with the choice of European/ American and or, Asian/Indian type dishes, again, absolutely outstanding. Always hot, always fresh and never left to go dry or cold. My only little crib, as if I only say the good things about this, you would all feel I have been paid to write this for Royal Caribbean, is the fact that at lunchtimes only one type of sliced bread is offered, which you could make a sandwich with. Yes, there are also available two types of small cob style rolls, but, these are small and are ideal to accompany soup but, not ideal for a lunch roll. The bead was also the very hard full wheat type, not enjoyed by most European/ Australian palates. So a plain brown or multi grain full size sliced bread would have been a welcome change, in which to fill and make a sandwich. Also the cooked meats offered, were a mortadella, cooked thinly sliced ham and processed sliced chicken these three never changed or varied. Every day it was the same selection which made you feel that the food was always the same. Which as indicated here, it most certainly was not. Both the variety of cooked food and hot plates did change daily but the cold selection was always the same. But please this is the only negative I could find with my Windjammer experience. In the main evening restaurant Cascades, again the food was of a very acceptable standard. Although I did find that on level 4, the main dining option floor for first or second seating, the food was cooked and presented much better than that of level 5, the my time dining option. Both floors have their own kitchen and different chefs in both, for us, as we experienced 9 days down and 7 up, although the food served and being offered was identical, both the quality and standard were simply miles apart. We also found that the service on level 4 was of a much higher standard than that offered on level 5. Our conclusion on this is that level 4, each waiter gets to keep their own tips/gratuities unlike level 5, the My Time Dining option. On this level you may get a different table on a regular basis and therefore the cruise line distributes the tips on level 5 equally to all waiters. Hence they know if they provide you with a bad service they will still get their share of all the tips given automatically by guests, unlike level 4, where if they don't perform you can revoke your gratuities. This proving, that by keeping control of your gratuities you will receive a better service during your cruise. Cruise lines sailing regularly out of Australian ports have started to include tipping in your cruise ticket price and listing the cruise as no tipping required. We should not allow or encourage the cruise lines to do this, as clearly our experience shows here, that by keeping control of your tips/ gratuities you will receive a better overall cruise service experience. Officers and Crew: All crew were delightful and helpful. That being your cabin steward/ dining room waiters and any other service provided to you onboard. The officers on this ship remained mainly behind the scenes, as if they didn't want to mix with the riff-raff, me and you. The front desk/hotel reception staff were all manned by low ranking 1 bar officers. But in reality, I wouldn't call them a real officer, I think they are given the rank to do the job not because they deserve it. Some on the desk were kind and very knowledgeable but most were completely hopeless and useless with their knowledge and understanding of the real world. For example if you wanted to change currency from AU$ to NZ$, firstly this ship has a company policy to change your money to the US dollar then into the NZ dollar, hence charging you a whopping 20% commission level. When asked if they doubled charged you for commission exchange rates some of the front desk couldn't understand the question. Although clearly they were charging you a double rate commission. Only one person out of the 5 on the desk knew that in reality, you were being double charged, but its company policy. Some of the front desk staff also treated you with contempt and insolence, always agreeing with you and yet failing to resolve any issues that you may have. They would not act upon your request unless you made a stand and demanded to see a more senior officer, which produced results, whilst our experience on other ships was a more helpful and obliging front desk, this one thought they were far superior to any of the guest they were supposed to be serving. The entertainment whilst we were onboard was some of the best overall we have experienced whilst at sea. I managed to see all but one of the shows in the Theatre and enjoyed each and everyone. Normally you get a couple of duff shows during a 14 night cruise but this one excelled my expectations. The onboard speciality restaurants seemed to be well patronized although I only experienced the Chops restaurant twice on our 16 night cruise. Both times the meals were excellent and the quality equal to that you would receive in such places as the fine dining room of the Versace hotel on the Gold Coast. The steaks were some of the tenderest I have ever eaten, they simply just melted in your mouth. A truly wonderful experience whilst at sea, everyone should do it at least once on a cruise on this ship. The ship only marketed itself as a 4* cruise ship and as such I think that it probably exceeded that in many ways. So, overall, I cannot say they did not live up to my expectations apart from:- I do have issues with Royal Caribbean as we paid some $9150 for our cabin and yet 12 weeks prior to departure they were selling Balcony cabins for a low $4500, which makes your blood boil when you know, everyone is treaded the same no matter which fare you choose. But for cruise lines to reduce the fare to such an extent does create problems which I will not go into here. Long-term cruises will know what I am talking about and as such and due to our recent experience of being physically assaulted by a fellow passenger on this cruise, whilst being seated in the main dining room, I will never be returning to another Royal Caribbean ship, or indeed, any cruise ship that discounts their product down to such a degree as was available on this particular cruise. The ship did take the assault seriously and gave a notice to the offending passenger, but for me, that was simply not good enough, the offender should have be put off the ship and the very next port and not allowed to continue his journey albeit under an expulsion/good behaviour notice order issued to him. Read Less
Sail Date November 2011
The Cruise - 14 day cruise to New Zealand on Radiance of the Seas departing Sydney Australia on the 20th November 2011 returning to Sydney Australia on the 4 December 2011. The reviewer is Icerecon - aka Stan Jarvis - 56 year old who ... Read More
The Cruise - 14 day cruise to New Zealand on Radiance of the Seas departing Sydney Australia on the 20th November 2011 returning to Sydney Australia on the 4 December 2011. The reviewer is Icerecon - aka Stan Jarvis - 56 year old who travelled with his wife Annette. This was my 1st ever cruise and my wife's 2nd (her 1st with P&O). In Summary This was an excellent first experience to cruising, the ship and amenities where excellent, our cabin was great and the Captain and crew where friendly and helpful, however the itinerary was a little rushed 8 stops in 14 days. The Ship Radiance of the Seas is the first of the Radiance class of ship with a 90.090 gross tonnage. Built for the Royal Caribbean Cruise Line in 2001 this ship was newly renovated for it season down under. Considering the ship is 10 years of age it has been well maintained and is being constantly painted and varnished. The Captain and Crew obviously are proud of their ship and try to keep it in tip top condition. It was very easy to get a meal on board with a great selection of restaurants (7) we opted for the 'My Time Dining' and used it to its fullest in that we did not have dinner at the same time on any one night; we sat by ourselves some nights as well as with groups, we meet some very interesting people and if you are reading this thanks for your friendship and conversations. Breakfast was taken most days by us at the Park Cafe, lunch usually at Windjammers, and the evening meal in the Cascades Dining room. The meals where terrific, 3 courses not too big but you never left the table feeling hungry. Wine and bar drinks could also be ordered at the table. Our Cabin We were in 7092 it is classed E2 because it has a larger balcony than standard; it is on the port side of the ship and only the second cabin from the elevators on the hump. I read many reports bagging this cabin with noise complaints and not being able to see the ocean touching the side of the hull because of the life boat covers (true but who cares) these comments came from writers who had never spent a night in this cabin, I guess. The only noise we heard was from the entertainers in the Atrium but it was not loud and on reflection was nice and usually finished before midnight about the same time we were going to bed. We did not hear the elevators or the other guest using them or the passage way. Our cabin steward (Solomon) was excellent and he had the room made up and turned down with no fuss. Having the cabin looked after so well made our cruise even more relaxing and enjoyable. Meet and Mingle On Cruise Critic web site you have an opportunity to register and attend a Meet and Mingle. We joined the group having never attended one before. There was about 30 odd people attending, I thought it would be a good way of meeting others from the forum, or was it. When we read about M&M it stated that there will be no seating, this will ensure you meet others. On our arrival to the Starquest Lounge we were ushered into seats and only met about 2 other people. Other cruisers that had met each other before soon joined into their own cliques. So I will mark this as a failure and if we attend another will try and influence the crew/staff organising it to ensure it is a 'Meet and Mingle'. The Itinerary 14 Days on the Radiance with day 4 cruising Milford, Doubtful, and Dusky Sounds; unbelievable, cool and wet which made Milford Sound come alive with waterfalls running down every rock. Capt. Sindre placed the bow of Radiance nicely under a waterfall about 10m off the rocks. Day 5 found us at Port Chalmers - Dunedin some transport problems and some strange ideas from Port Security nearly turned this stop into a disaster; teething problems maybe!! Day 6 Akaroa we went ashore on the tenders my first experience at tendering my advice is to listen to the crew they know their job so for your safety listen to these guys and girls. Day 7 Wellington, Day 8 Napier, Day 9 Tauranga, Day 10 Auckland the ship docked transport and port security went without a hitch this time. Day 11 Bay of Islands another tender journey the 'motion of the ocean' caused a few problems with one tender damaging an engine but the crew (engineers) had everything up and running within an hour. You will note that I am not reviewing the destinations there is enough information on Cruise Critics and other web site for that, one point is that if you are after information go to I-Sites for trips, sight-seeing, transport information etc whilst in New Zearland. Day 15 Please 'Go Home' I will say that it was a sad day I waited for nearly a year to do this cruise and on day 15 I had to leave and go home. The experience was over or was it. The Aftermath Many people have asked us about this cruise, the ship, the other guests, the crew even questions about the Captain. I did not know so many people have this general interest about cruising. I can only say good things about the experience we had on Radiance of the Seas. Royal Caribbean may send you an online questionnaire or two in our case. Having said that our cruise was terrific the only ugly part has been the post cruise administration. We joined the Crown and Anchor Club whilst on board, the attendant advised that we would get a membership card and further information about two weeks after our cruise, nothing. I contacted the Crown and Anchor Club through their website you know the one that says it will get back to you in 48 hours, nothing. So I emailed the Sydney office so far after 5 days, nothing. I know it is Christmas, but there are no notifications about office closures and they are accepting bookings online and Facebook is still operating, don't figure. If Royal Caribbean wants my loyalty they need to improve this aspect of their service. I would guess that if there was money involved in joining Crown and Anchor Society it may be a better service. We are considering another cruise with Royal Caribbean but will not book until this problem has been resolved. Read Less
Sail Date November 2011
We arrived at Sydney's Overseas Passengers terminal at 10.30 am as we were told that check in would start at 11am.A officer walked up and down the line of people waiting making sure we had all our seapass forms already filled in and ... Read More
We arrived at Sydney's Overseas Passengers terminal at 10.30 am as we were told that check in would start at 11am.A officer walked up and down the line of people waiting making sure we had all our seapass forms already filled in and giving us custom forms to fill in while we waited for the doors to open.At 11am they opened and I was amazed at how quickly we started to move.And by 11.30am we were in and enjoying a cold drink and something to eat up at the Windjammer. We were lucky that we had arrived early and got on board so quickly.As we did hear later on that some people had to wait a long time in the sun to check in.Sydney's Overseas terminal could do with more undercover waiting area as it can take awhile to check in over 2000 people.Also it wouldn't hurt to have more people to check you in. After lunch we went to explore the ship.And boy did it have the WOW factor that everyone told us it would have with all its glass.Also the ship was all decked out for Christmas and you knew straight away you were going to have a good time. In the Centrum there was a 2 story Christmas tree and lots of Christmas lights and on different decks around the ship they had gingerbread villages. After 1pm we were allowed in to our cabins and we got our suitcase at around 2pm. We stayed in 2 Grand Suites (1030 & 1032) as we were traveling with our 2 children and my husbands parents. Our rooms were large with plenty of storage. The main room had a large queen size bed,a sofa, 2 chairs,coffee table and a flat screen TV.The bathroom had 2 sinks and a shower over the bath it also had plenty of storage.The balcony was large with 2 chairs a table and a sun lounge.Not long after we arrived at our suite.Our suite attendant Phillip Santos came and introduced himself and he was fantastic for the whole cruise and nothing ever seemed to much trouble for him. And he always seemed to be there to open the door for you when your arms were full after you had been out all day on a shore tour. His cheery smile and good morning was always a great start to the day. Staying in suites we were lucky enough to be able to use the concierge club. Which was a great place to go for a quiet coffee or a free pre dinner drink or 2. Our concierge Juan was a wonderful help in booking into restaurants also he was wonderful in getting my father in-law glasses fixed when they broke. The food on the ship was wonderful with so many different places to choice from. We ate in Windjammer for lunch and breakfast a couple of times and food was good with lots choice that you got to pick from.My daughter liked the Dog house that served different types of hot dogs for lunch the best.We also ate at the Park Cafe which had great food. They make a great roast beef roll and they also have a create your own salad bar.The main dinning room was a great place to for breakfast or lunch if you wanted table service. We ate in the main dining room most nights and the food was wonderful with around 4 or 5 different choice for each coarse.Our wait staff Jeanette and Sandip gave great services.They made every meal wonderful and feel like a celebration. We did go to Giovannis Table for their Murder mystery dinner and the food was great and so was the show.I would highly recommend you book before you go as they only do a couple of dinner show per cruise and they book out quick. Christmas on the ship was a wonderful experience for both young and old at heart.With everyone singing Christmas carols in the Centrum on Christmas Eve . And the children loved it when Santa arrived on a ships tender on Christmas morning. Santa and Mrs Claus and some reindeer's had come to deliver presents to all the children (up to the 17yrs. Dinner that night was a formal night and it was a great way to celebrate Christmas day. They had some wonderful shows on in the Theatre. With something new to go and see every night.They did have a problem with their Christmas show it was very loud and some people had to leave due to the noise. Also some people didn't like that it was very American in its contents.But we found all the rest of the shows that we went to see were great. On past reviews we had read that people found the crew unapproachable .We found on our cruise all the staff and crew to be very approachable and friendly.(Even the Captain went to help my mother in-law finds some lemons). We did private tours at most of our ports of call as there was 6 people in our group and it was a lot cheaper than booking through the ship.And we got to see and do what we wanted to do. We loved every minute of our cruise and didn't want to get off at the end. Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
The cruise was booked last year not long after returning from a very good Vietnam cruise on the Legend of the Seas. The line does not leave from Brisbane so it was Qantas to Sydney (business class on points) and then cab. The flight was ... Read More
The cruise was booked last year not long after returning from a very good Vietnam cruise on the Legend of the Seas. The line does not leave from Brisbane so it was Qantas to Sydney (business class on points) and then cab. The flight was very good and so was the food. The taxi was swift and just under $50 from mascot to the ship. Four days before we sailed we had received news of an upgrade to cabin 1104 so everything had started off in the right direction. We arrived at around 4.00pm and had no hassles boarding, the rush was over I guess. The cabin was ready and it was a pleasant surprise with a very large balcony that, in Sydney, looked out on both the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge. Surely one of the great views in cruising. General crew notes. Cabin Steward: Edmund. Absolutely superb. Totally unobtrusive and everything was always ready when needed. This man is very, very good. Restaurant Staff: Waiter, Roberto Assistant Waiter Ashley. Table service was brilliant and the team worked very smoothly with high efficiency. A few waiters in so called high class restaurants could take some guidance from these two. David the head waiter and Karen the table allocator were also great. Hasan ran the whole area with ease gliding around unobtrusively to ensure things were working. Special mention to the table re makers. The team did a great job and again were totally unobtrusive. It is easy for staff to become over familiar with 14 nights of service but it did not happen here. Truly professional. The Captain ran a tight ship and kept everyone informed on what was a bad weather cruise that required the missing of the final port. His clear and concise summation of events made a difficult passage much easier. His presence and easy general nature around the ship is a major plus. All the crew were friendly and very helpful except the Security Staff. Yes they have a difficult job and I am referring to when passengers return to the ship after a day's excursions. If all the other members of the crew can smile and be helpful and polite at all times the Security Staff can do the same to returning passengers. Yes it is a bore to have to do the screening and it is a pain to be screened especially when the machine seems to have a mind of its own. Perhaps it is time to lose the American airport screening attitude and come back to cruise mode. It can be done efficiently and pleasantly. Food. Cascades: My Time Dining 7.30 Dinner: Good selection and superb service. Food was superior to the Legend and some of the sauces and soups very, very good. Lunch. Dined a few times and found it very good. The salad bar with he service was great. Breakfast was very good and leisurely. Windjammer. The food was good and of course plentiful. The "English" bacon is a nice addition, lol. Room Service. Breakfast on the balcony twice, delivered on time and still hot. Park Cafe: Very good. Dog House. Good selection and rather enjoyable. No specialty restaurants were visited. Note: As a very experienced traveller for both business and pleasure I have dined at all all levels and given this was a cruise on a 4+ star ship the food was superb. Entertainment. Went to five shows and they were all very good. Slight hint on the last night Christmas show. The artists were great but the content was typically American. A little local marker research would help here on what the content should be. Live entertainment throughout the ship was of a great standard. Listening to the trio in the Centrum before dinner each night was nice and relaxing. General Comments. The cruise was on the rough side given the weather and there was some sea sickness about. We had no problems. The captain's decision to miss the final port (Bay of Islands) was a studied and constructive move by the Captain given the rather bad weather and the chartered course further north than planned to home was a very astute move. Great cruise, great ship, great captain, great crew, great time. Pleanty of taxis following a quick leaving of the ship and a good Qantas flight home. Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
Sailed from Sydney on the 4th of December. The boarding experience was good considering fairly poor facilities at the Sydney International Terminal. Our cabin was ready well prepared and in good condition. Our cabin attendant appeared ... Read More
Sailed from Sydney on the 4th of December. The boarding experience was good considering fairly poor facilities at the Sydney International Terminal. Our cabin was ready well prepared and in good condition. Our cabin attendant appeared almost imediately and was available and helpful for the entire trip. We booked late sitting dining and were seated with for other couples of similar age and were enjoyable company to be with. Our table was near the Captains table on formal nights which was nice. Unfortunately next to us was a table with a young couple and a child under two who cried most nights or knocked wine and food on to the floor this tended to detract from the experience. In addition the father regularly contravened the dress code for the dining room and wore shorts and sometime T-shirts. This attire was tolerated for the entire trip by the Dining room Maitre D despite being brought to his attention by our table supervisor. The dining room dress code is clearly displayed on boards at the entrance of the dining room. The Maitre-D did not support his staff and allowed ships rules to be flagrantly floughted. We wondered what other rules might be allowed to be ignored on the ship. Our wives and most of the ladies brought outfits to dress up and it is dissapointing to see standards being lowered. Our table staff in contrast were fantastic and were 5 star plus. If a rule is not going to be enforced change it, get rid of it! The food was good but a limited selection in the main dining room. One gets the feeling you are being encouaged to go to the pay extra restaurants. The food in the Buffet was also good with more variety though finding tables at times difficult. Generally we organised our own tours ashore as they were much cheaper. We did book a ship tour at the Bay of Islands which we missed as poor weather caused the called to cancelled. We struck fairly rough seas but the Captain did a good job minimising the discomfort and skirting the biggest seas. It was good to be on a 90,000 tonne ship with stabilisers. Unfortunately the American idea of good coffee does not meet the Australian idea of good coffee. The coffee is starbucks in cardboard mugs. Starbucks had to close a lot of their stores in Australia. The Cappuccino is particularly below what Australian's are used to in any of our capital cities. There are little signs that the accountants have been in, no daily news update to the cabins with the daily Cruise Compass, great emphasis to try and encourage passengers to go to the pay extra restaurants. It was however a very enjoyable cruise because of very good attendants, good company and a good itinerary. Special thanks to Jimmy Archer in Tauranga. Would we cruise Royal Caribbean, as we said in the onboard reveiw maybe, maybe not as two of our first considerations are itinerary and the calender dates. Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
We arrived at Sydney's Overseas Passengers terminal at 10.30 am with my son and his wife and 2 children. A nice porter came out to take our bags to for us.he was very helpful and we gave him a tip for this service.And we then joined ... Read More
We arrived at Sydney's Overseas Passengers terminal at 10.30 am with my son and his wife and 2 children. A nice porter came out to take our bags to for us.he was very helpful and we gave him a tip for this service.And we then joined the line at the door to get checked in.An officer walked up and down the line of people waiting making sure we had all our seapass forms already filled in and giving us custom forms to fill in while we waited for the doors to open.At 11am they opened and as I had a walker I was guided to the elevators to take me and my son up to be checked in.I was amazed at how quickly and friendly everyone was. The check in process didn't take long and by 11.30am we were on this lovely ship.As we couldn't get into our cabin until 1pm and a lovely crew member said we could get a cold drink and something to eat up at the Windjammer.The Windjammer was lovely and had lots of choice to eat and lovely friendly staff asking if they could help.As I had a walker I found this very helpful as then I was not always asking a one of my family to do thinks for me.As there was always a lovely staff member only to happy to help me. After we had lunch and a rest watching the lovely Sydney Harbour we went to find our cabin.We had grand suite 1032 on deck 10.My son and his wife also had a suite next door suite 1030. Our room was very large and had plenty of storage. The cabin had a large queen size bed,a sofa, 2 chairs,coffee table and flat screen TV.The bar area had a small fridge/cooler and glasses,ice bucket, tea/coffee and kettle.The bathroom had 2 sinks and a shower over the bath it also had plenty of storage.The balcony was large with 2 chairs a table and a sun lounge.It didn't take long after we arrived that got our suit cases.Our suite attendant Phillip Santos came to say hello and to make sure we didn't need anything. He was fantastic for the whole cruise and always kept everything clean and made sure we always had plenty of towels. And he always seemed to be there to open the door for you with his cheery smile and good morning or good evening. My son went to check out where we would all be sitting in the dining room.This is a great tip as if they have made any mistake or you would like to make any changes it is easier for them to change it now than at dinner time. We had no problems and loved our table as it was near the main stairs so we got a great view when the waitstaff did their show. We then went to explore the ship and as it was a Christmas cruise and we would be away for Christmas the whole ship was all decorated beautifully. In the Centrum there was a 2 story Christmas tree with lots of Christmas lights and on different decks around the ship they had gingerbread villages and more decorations.Before we had left Sydney we all knew we would have a lovely cruise as everywhere we went the ship looked more and more beautiful .And we also met lovely friendly staff and crew members only to happy to help. There was as so lots of windows all around the ship to let in lots of light. And there was lots of places to sit and look out and enjoy the world go by.The ship also had glass lifts so you could look out over the seas or the Centrum.A lovely quiet place during the day to sit and read was the starquest lounge.As the bar is not open during the day and it is only open as a quiet room during the day.And it has great views. Staying in suites we were lucky enough to be able to use the concierge club on deck 13.It was nice to be able to go for a quiet coffee or a pre dinner drink. Our concierge Juan was a wonderful help if you need him to book you into one of the restaurants.He was also wonderful in getting my husbands glasses fixed in Wellington for him.As we didn't know where to go but he just said "leave it with me.' Now that is Great customer service. We found the food on the ship to be wonderful with lots of choices to pick from.In the beautiful main dining room our waitstaff Jeanette and Sandip always made our evening enjoyable and that we got all our meal quickly and hot.On the 16 nights I don't remember ever getting the same menu.Christmas day was lovely on the ship with Santa coming and giving the children all a gift and the carol singing was lovely too. The food was wonderful too but it would of been nice to have plum pudding.We found the Radiance had plenty of things to keep everyone happy and you could do as much or as little as you wanted.We found on our cruise some people were not happy and complained about there not being bananas after the first 3 day.We saw and had bananas for the whole cruise.So we are not sure why they didn't have any.And we also found if you couldn't find something all you had to do was ask. There was also a couple that complained about there not being a band by the pool and then another that the band was too loud.( yes there was a band and sometimes it did get a bit loud but it was no problem to move away as the younger people were having such a good time). My tip for first time cruisers would be.If you want to go on a cruise go with an open mind and decide for yourself if this cruise ship is right for you. This was our family first cruise and we had people from age 13 to 85 we all had a wonderful time doing thing together or just sitting quietly watching the world go by. Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
Currently sitting in the Colony Club Lounge on the last night of a 16 night cruise Sydney - New Zealand - Sydney. 26 degrees c, clear blue sky, virtually moored alongside the Sydney Harbour Bridge on one side with the Opera house on the ... Read More
Currently sitting in the Colony Club Lounge on the last night of a 16 night cruise Sydney - New Zealand - Sydney. 26 degrees c, clear blue sky, virtually moored alongside the Sydney Harbour Bridge on one side with the Opera house on the other. Absolutely the most outstanding view and a fitting end to a great experience on Radiance of the Seas. The ship was dressed for Xmas with highlights on every deck, a two deck high Xmas tree was a feature of the Centrum - The Yanks sure know how to do Xmas, except they still do mashed spuds for Xmas dinner! The ship is in great condition following a recent update. All our previous cruises have been with Oceania with much smaller ships and we were intrigued to see how we would react to a much larger ship with lots of children. It was not a problem even during extended time at sea. The Xmas and New Year events and activities were a great success and it would appear to be a great option for many families. Royal Caribbean seems to agree as next year they are introducing a larger Voyager class ship for this cruise. Generally a great experience, excellent food in the main dining area, a bit of a bun fight in the buffet, Windjammer, with average food selections. The big problem is embarkation, it is an absolute mess and for a company that must have a lot of experience boarding large ships their Sydney effort was awful - 3 hours standing in a queue,mostly in the open, will be a total nightmare if it rains. Boarding time was extended by two hours after a similar experience a month earlier but did not seem to make any difference. Big tip for any boarding in Sydney - don't even think about turning up until the last half hour. Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
It has always been my dream to visit Australia/New Zealand and now I'll be on the Radiance with its floor-to-ceiling windows to view the stunning scenery. My DH & I flew from Vancouver to Sydney direct on Air Canada...17 hrs ! ... Read More
It has always been my dream to visit Australia/New Zealand and now I'll be on the Radiance with its floor-to-ceiling windows to view the stunning scenery. My DH & I flew from Vancouver to Sydney direct on Air Canada...17 hrs ! But we survived, thanks to the seatback television. Upon arrival, we were met by the RCI cruise line rep & arrived at the cruise terminal 20 minutes later. Trains are also available to Circular Quay. It's about a 2 block walk on even pavement to the cruise terminal. Airporter buses will also take you to the cruise terminal. If you don't see a longshoremen to hand over your luggage, go the the tent which will be on the far right side of the long line. Day 1 Sydney, Australia Muster drill is at 4:15 pm, no life jackets required. All the entertainers onboard are from Australia. Tonight, it's comedian Martin Ralph. Most showtimes are 7 pm for 2nd seating guests + 9 pm for 1st seating guests. If you eat in the Windjammer which doesn't open till 6:30 pm, you'll see the 7 pm show, then eat dinner. The shows are all 1 hour. Cruise director is Bill Brunkhorst from New Jersey, USA. They show the same movie all day long in the cinema or the Aurora Theatre, showing at 1 pm, 4 pm, 7 pm & 10 pm. They also have movies on the Poolside big screen. But most days, it was too cold to watch a movie there. Tonight's movie is 'Pirates of the Caribbean on Stranger Tides'. Dining times are 6 pm + 8:30 pm. Windjammer is open for dinner from 6:30 -- 9 pm. My Time dining is 5:30 -- 9:30 pm. It's highly recommended to pre-book your dining time online if you don't want to wait for a table. You can also specify if you want to sit with others or just by yourselves. I requested a table for 2 and we were seated at the same table every night with the same waiters, so that was nice. Specialty restaurants open for dinner from 6 -- 9:30 pm. Now that Radiance has the dining packages, they don't offer reduced prices for the specialty restaurants anymore, except for embarkation day where dinner is 20% off. New Zealand is 2 hours ahead of Australia, so you will be turning your clocks back. Day 2 -- at sea - Formal Captain's Welcome Aboard reception, Production Showtime 'Piano Man' ( great show ). Cinema -- Battle Los Angeles, Aurora Theater & Poolside -- The Help Day 3 -- at sea -- Smart Casual Headline Showtime starring Steven Fisher King ( excellent ) Cinema -- 'Soul Surfer', Aurora Theater -- 'The Adjustment Bureau' Day 4 -- Milford, Dusky + Doubtful Sound -- Casual Headliner Showtime -- Bernard Walz ( good ), Cinema 'Thor', Aurora Theater & Poolside'Green Lantern' It was very windy in Milford Sound with a couple of beautiful waterfalls. I could only stand to be on deck for 15 minutes before I retreated to our stateroom balcony, bundled ourselves in our winter coats & bathrobes to watch the scenery. Day 5 -- Dunedin, New Zealand -- Casual Aurora Theater -- 'Cars 2' Headliner Showtime 'John Taylor + Cherry' Illusionist ( just average ) Dunedin is a working port & you cannot just walk out of there. There is a shuttle available at $ 8 NZD each way. Travel time to the city center is 25 minutes.' Here we took the Taieri Gorges Railway tour for $ 199 USD. It includes morning refreshment of a shortbread cookie, coffee, tea or orange juice. Lunch is a vegetarian lunch box with a small salad, small wrap, cheese & cracker, a kiwi fruit that was very difficult to eat with the flimsy spoon that was provided. Wine was also provided with lunch. If you don't drink wine, be sure to ask for something else to drink, like a soda pop, water or juice because no alternative was offered. Also, later in the afternoon, you'll be asked if you want a beer ( already included in price ). You can drink as many as you want. We saw llamas ( white & black ), lambs, sheep, horses. The water levels were pretty low so the gorges didn't seem that spectacular. There are 2 stops along the way. Both are shopping shops for local handicrafts. The prices are quite reasonable. The 2nd stop has more locally-made fashions. At the end of the trip, you can either disembark at the train station & make your own way back to the ship or stay on the train & it takes you directly back to the ship. The quarantine control in New Zealand is very strict. They do not allow any food products to be taken ashore. Only water in sealed, unopened bottles is allowed ashore. They do have Quarantine officers checking as you disembark the ship. In some ports, they even had a dog sniffing your bags. Day 6 -- Akaroa, New Zealand -- Casual Production Showtime 'City of Dreams' ( quite good ) Poolside 'Zookeeper' Akaroa is a tender port. If you are not on a cruise line tour, you'll need a tender ticket. But if you depart the ship before 8:30 am, you won't need a tender ticket. Akaroa is a quaint seaside village which is 90 minutes from Christchurch. There is a free shuttle from the pier to the city center. There are also many tour operators lined up on the pier for day trips, scuba/snorkel tours. We just walked into town, about 20 minutes. If you want a cheap snack or souvenir, head to the Four Square supermarket in town. Later that afternoon, we were napping in our stateroom when we felt a violent shaking. I was too sleepy to worry about it but later the Captain announced that there was an earthquake in Christchurch. An hour later, there was another shaking. Thankfully, all the guests that went to Christchurch on tours that day returned safely & we were only 30 minutes late departing Akaroa. Quite scary, though ! And the following week, they had another earthquake !. Day 7 -- Wellington, New Zealand -- Smart casual Headliner Showtime 'Flyright Brothers' sing the blues ( not my cup of tea ) A pedestrian path was created in 2010. Follow the signs as you exit the cruise terminal. It's about a 20 minute walk to the city center. They also have a shuttle bus for $ 8 NZD each way. You can also use the internet $ 2 NZD for 15 minutes & make phone calls from the cruise terminal. Here we did the 9 am Cable Car + Zeelandia Sanctuary. There is also a 12 pm departure. I chose the 9 am 'cause I didn't walk to be too hot walking around in the afternoon. However, it was still cool in the morning & the animals & birds weren't really out & about yet. We were given a 2 hour guided tour, then only 10 minutes to browse the exhibition & gift shop ( wished we had more time here ). Then at the cable car, it only runs every 10 minutes, so you much be proactive & ensure you get on the next car that comes, otherwise, you'll miss out on the time at the top of the cable car ( lots to see & do here...gardens, observatory etc ) but you'll only have 45 minutes here. The main shopping street was bustling with people. One thing I found disturbing were children playing musical instruments in the streets. Were they really begging or just doing it for pocket money ? Day 8 -- at sea -- Christmas day -- Formal Santa & Mrs Claus arrived by tender at 9:45 am. All kids 17 + under received a gift. Afterwards, anyone who wanted a photo with Santa could also do so. Day 9 -- Napier, New Zealand -- Casual/White Headliner Showtime 'Amber Jade' Instrumentalist ( quite good ) Cinema 'Fast Five', Poolside 'Burlesque' There is a free shuttle into Napier to the Visitor Center. We loved shopping in Napier, quite inexpensive compared to the other ports. You can also visit the Aquarium gift shop for inexpensive souvenirs. Day 10 -- cruising Volcanic White Island -- Smart Casual Headliner Showtime 'Jennifer Green' a tribute to Shirley Bassey ( excellent ) Cinema 'Arthur', Poolside 'Grease Sing-a-long' Cruising Volcanic White Island approx 3 -- 6 pm. Very interesting. Day 11 -- Tauranga, New Zealand -- Casual/70's Headliner Showtime ' Bob Howe' Guitarist ( excellent ) Cinema 'Rango', Poolside'Smurfs' In every port, there'll be at least one Starbucks & that's where you'll have free wireless internet ! Yippee ! Very easy to walk around here if you don't want to take excursions to Rotorua ( 90 minutes travel each way ). Day 12 -- Auckland, New Zealand -- Casual Headliner Showtime 'Sean Laughlin' comedic juggler ( neither funny, nor juggles much; don't waste your time ) Cinema 'Love, Wedding, Marriage', Poolside 'Camel Cowboy' We were docked at Queen's Wharf which is a working port. You cannot walk around here. You must take the free shuttle which drops you at the port gate. From here, you can walk to the city center easily. Day 13 -- Bay of Islands, New Zealand ( tender port ) -- Casual/50's & 60's Tender takes approx 25 mins to the pier, free shuttle to town, can walk entire town in 20 minutes. Can also take day tours to a winery or ferry to Russell. Headliner Showtime 'Tango Buenos Aires' ( excellent, must-see ! ) Cinema 'Limitless', Poolside 'Grease Sing-a-Long' Day 14 -- at sea New Year's Eve -- Formal Headliner Showtime 'Fabba' ( tribute to Abba, excellent ! ) Cinema 'Something Borrowed', Poolside ' Kangaroo Kaos Documentary' Make a Cake Challenge ( hilarious ) At dinner in the dining room, they had hats & noisemakers for everyone. Starting at 10 pm, all the lounges had New Year's Eve parties. At midnight, Captain Sindre did the countdown in the Centrum, then balloons & confetti fell from the ceiling and free champagne was flowing. Day 15 -- at sea -- Casual Headliner Showtime 'Grant Galea' ( good ) Cinema 'Super 8', Poolside 'Vertigo, U2 in Concert' Day 16 -- Sydney, Australia -- Casual Headliner Showtime 'Ian Cooper' violinist ( excellent ) Cinema 'Soul Surfer', Poolside 'Captain America', Aurora Theater 'Crazy, Stupid Love' If you are disembarking the ship today, you can only do it from 10 -- 11 am. There's a free shuttle that goes around the CBD ( Central Business District ), route 555 every 15minutes. Take it from Stand E at Circular Quay. Last shuttle returns at 3 pm on regular days or 6 pm on public holidays. Paddy's market is the place if you like flea markets. We walked through Hyde Park and saw & heard a kookaburra. Brought that song from grade school to mind 'kookaburra sitting in the old gum tree...' Day 17 -- Sydney, Australia -- disembarkation Everyone will be off the ship by 9:45 am. Enjoyed our cruise minus some frustrations with the Guest Relations staff. In the Windjammer buffet, every day they have an Asian, Indian, make your own pizza, stations. In the morning, they have congee; lunch, make your own soup etc. I saw many gluten-free, sugar-free options, not so many fat-free or vegetarian labelled options. At tea time, they have scones.l Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
Our group had been looking forward to this cruise since booking in early April. Between booking and embarkation there was quite a few price drops. After a little persistence RCI came to the party. We arrived early on Dec 18Th at around ... Read More
Our group had been looking forward to this cruise since booking in early April. Between booking and embarkation there was quite a few price drops. After a little persistence RCI came to the party. We arrived early on Dec 18Th at around 8:30am and reached Syd OPT about 9:30am. We were able to drop our luggage off soon after which made it a lot easier to get around. We started boarding around 11am but were told the staterooms would not be ready until 1pm. This gave us a little time for lunch and to explore some of the ship. The ship was very clean and well decorated for Christmas. After a quick look around we made our way to the helipad to meet up with friends and a few beers as we sailed away from Sydney Harbour. We had the best view, kind of like Kate Winslet had in Titanic. We were travelling with my parents "first time cruisers" and after the 3rd day they had already booked our next cruise. Booking on-board for a stateroom only was $100 per person plus we received a very handy tote bag. If you were booking a suite then the deposit is considerably more. The captain was very active in his announcements throughout the cruise, keeping us informed on what the situations were both at sea and on land. The food on board was excellent, the table service in the main dining room (Cascades) was above and beyond. We visited 4 of the 6 specialty restaurants (Chops Grill, Izumis, Giovannie's and The Samba Grill) , We purchased a package on board that gave us the 4 specialty restaurants for $70 or $120 which included the chefs table. We decided not to do the chefs table on this cruise, but will defiantly do it next year. We booked our tours independently, Iconic Tours for Dunedin and Archers Tours for Tauranga, both gave us a real personal tour experience. We would highly recommend both tour companies. Entertainment on-board was a little disappointing, but may have had something to do with the time of the cruise, (performers on holidays???) We had a bit of excitement when there was an "Oscar Oscar" call one afternoon. The captain slowed the ship down and turned around to where the flares and life rings were deployed. A rescue boat was also deployed into the water and did a search. The captain informed us that it was a false alarm and all passengers were on board. Nobody knew for sure what happened, and there was allot of speculation. We did however have a guard on duty 24hrs a day for 2 days opposite our cabin, so I guess someone was distressed. The only real negative I had about this cruise was doing a cruise during school holidays. The spas and pools were overrun by children and teenagers along with the pool tables in the colony club. There was also rumours of violence and thefts among the teens as well. All in all it was a great cruise with a fun group of people. Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
We expected to have a good relaxing time and be fed good to excellent food - no so unfortunately. It is a real pity the Royal Caribbean seem to have little regard for anything other than extracting maximum dollars and have little regard ... Read More
We expected to have a good relaxing time and be fed good to excellent food - no so unfortunately. It is a real pity the Royal Caribbean seem to have little regard for anything other than extracting maximum dollars and have little regard for the tastes and preferences of culturally different tastes - particularly regarding the food - Australia and New Zealand tastes are quite different it seems to what is considered acceptable in the US - or maybe they just don't care. One fellow passenger told us she felt really embarrassed that she had persuaded her entire extended family to take the cruise based on her previous excellent experiences in sailing from a USA port. Everything on this cruise from food to staff interactions / attitudes and activities showed absolute lack of interest in creating a satisfying experience. Activities - some but very few activities required no additional cost. Food - described as below poor RSL standard - some dishes, most memorably the Beef Stroganoff, were unimpressive to the point of being inedible - dog food looked more attractive. We were tricked into paying $9 each for what we thought was a welcome drink on the first day - as soon as it was in our hands, the staff member revealed the small sign with the price and demanded our room card to charge the "purchase" There were very few places on board to just sit and read or talk which were no bars, and therefore we were constantly being asked to buy drinks - yes they left us alone if we said no, but the body language was very disappointed.This is a copy of part of the survey response provided to Royal Caribbean - there were many other issues but I would need a book to include it all!! Food - generally low average to inedible - some dishes served in the dining room appeared to have no relationship to descriptions - some I wouldn't feed to a dog - beef stroganoff is one example Smoking - we paid for a balcony - couldn't use it much of the time as the people next door were smokers -- every time thy lit up, our cabin was filled with smoke an rapidly began smelling like an ashtray Guest Services desk staff - generally unhelpful to downright aggressive if faced with a question they didn't like e.g. when we queried the smoking policy we were angrily -- yes angrily -- told smoking was allowed on balconies -- basically tough if we didn't like it Promises to return answers -- on 2 occasions restaurant (Main/My-time & Giovanni's) Managers promised to get back to us the day we made the query -- neither did -- and this in on your records as found out by your guest services staff when my husband complained for the 3rd time that the vanity in our cabin had still not been repaired -- "oophs" was the response -- not satisfactory Maintenance -- on first entering our cabin we found the corner of the vanity's previous repair had failed -- there was an obvious and open crack of about 3 -- 4 centimetres in one corner, with one edge raised. We pointed this and the piece of piping on the sofa that was detached to the rom steward -- he was distressed about the piping but tried to tell us the vanity was not broken. When we insisted it was broken and needed to be fixed, he got on the phone and reported it to maintenance. A few days later the piping was fixed but the vanity was not. I met the maintenance man in the corridor and queried him about this -- he said there was no report of a broken vanity -- so I showed it to him and he agreed that it was broken and also got on the phone to report it. Still some days after and still not fixed, my husband spoke to guest services -- no reports of a broken vanity -- what happens to these reports -- anything too hard seems to disappear into telephone space. After considerable insistence a maintenance person was dispatched and, on examining the vanity, felt it couldn't be fixed until port. More discussion with my husband and suddenly the maintenance crew found they could fix the problem after all -- it took about ½ hour and a small amount of filler Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
We got a last-minute cruise offer in late November as the ship was nearly full, and only interior cabins were left. We have always travelled with a balcony on previous cruises but decided we would try an interior cabin this time as it can ... Read More
We got a last-minute cruise offer in late November as the ship was nearly full, and only interior cabins were left. We have always travelled with a balcony on previous cruises but decided we would try an interior cabin this time as it can be quite a lot cheaper. We found we coped very well with no windows and the cabin had everything we needed and was very quiet and in a good location on level 3 (just a quick walk up to the main decks on 4, 5 and 6 where all the facilities were located (dining room, guest reception, atrium bar, shops, theatre etc.) Close to the external glass lifts which gave a very spacious feel and view to the inside and outside. Looking down 9 floors into the Atrium through the internal lifts was very pleasant. Also as my partner was a smoker, he could take a quick walk upstairs to deck 5 and onto the promenade deck where one side is designated for smokers, as well as an area on deck 11 near the pool. However the deck 11 area was always choking with cigarette smoke and deck 5 was a better option. Only one suggestion would be to make sure you take a digital clock which lights up at night as it was hard to see the time on my mobile phone without finding my glasses. Having said that, once you were in the darkened room there was some light from the airconditioning control and sprinkler on the ceiling, and just a small amount from around the outside of the door. I was able to see sufficiently to get to the bathroom door in the dark before turning the light on. Embarkation was not good. An email advised that we could start from 11am but on arrival from the airport at 11.30am, the lines were very long and people were standing out in the hot sun. There is little cover and you have to line up outside the entry area before proceeding upstairs to the security and customs area. We went away to have lunch in the Rocks area and did not come back until about 1.45pm. The lines had reduced but it still took 1.5 hours to get through the embarkation process. Not the cruise lines fault but the poor design of the overseas passenger terminal to service such a large ship. Same delay was had at the Darling Harbour terminal in 2010 for a Princess Cruise, nearly 2 hours of waiting. In future we would not arrive until after 2-3pm to embark. At least at Circular Quay you can go away to the markets in the Rocks area and enjoy some of the Sydney views. The markets are very good with quality and different goods and in pleasant surroundings. Disembarkation also took quite some time. A bottleneck getting off the ship and then finding transport outside. We were scheduled to disembark at 9.10am and did not get off for about an hour and then had to wait for the shuttle bus to the domestic airport, arriving at about 11.30am. Do not be in a hurry and book an early flight!!!! Dining Options: Something to know for cruisers to New Zealand is that the sun does not set until about 9pm. So going to dinner at 8pm it is still daylight outside so you can see the sunset for the late sitting of dinner. We had "My Time" dining and liked the experience. Tried an early time for dining to go to the 7pm show afterwards, but found it was the most popular and when you finished you had to go to the theatre about 30 minutes before the show otherwise it would be full. We then decided to see the early show at 7pm and book for 8pm dinner in the My Time dining area on level 5. Meals were of a good small size, variety and presented well. We had purchased a wine package which was very economical and had some really good wines - we particularly like the Estancia Pinot Noir from California. Definitely worthwhile buying a wine package. You can have a glass or two and it is put aside for the next night with your room number. Also you can buy a bottle of wine in the bars and take it with you if you have not finished it, to another bar or your room, but cannot take your bottle from the dining room. Did not use any of the speciality restaurants as we felt the Cascades dining room, Windows and other eating areas provided a wide range of fresh and suitable food for all tastes. Had a light breakfast and lunch at Park Cafe in the Solarium area, and it is also open to 1am for a late night snack and coffee. Entertainment: Generally very good. Royal Caribbean dancers and singers were very entertaining and professional. Guest artists were varied and were of good to excellent quality. From solo singers, magician, musicians etc. However the highlight of the entertainment was the Puppet Man. Very skilled in his craft but also the funniest comedian and entertainer, and kept everyone entertained or his 50 minute show. Including his excellent singing with his puppet. Yes, he did both voices while singing. Singers, musicians and bands in all bars were excellent and entertaining and played to the wants of the crowd. Late night entertainment in the Colony and Schooner bars and the pub were varied and entertaining. They played music for the age group on board - mainly 50+ but a sprinkling of younger ones with only about 50 young people for the childrens club on this particularly sailing. Ship Appearance, Cabins and facilities: Very clean and tidy, hand sanitisers at the entry to all food areas and people encouraged to use them. We did our walking around deck 12 and also the promenade deck on level 5, depending on the weather. It was too cool to use the outside swimming pool but used the hot tub and pool in the solarium and it was very nice. This is a popular area and you have to be quick to get a lounger or chair. Great place to read and look outside, but protected from the wind. I reported that the shower was not draining and seemed to be blocked and this was fixed within an hour or so. Cabins had plenty of cupboard space with nooks and shelving behind many glass panels. Fittings and furniture are OK but some of the drawers stick and need attention. Bedding linen was luxurious and soft, and the beds were very comfortable. Shower always leaked onto the floor as the water nozzle had a mind of its own. Once we worked out to set the heating of the water we were right. Just ask your room steward for assistance otherwise you will have cool showers. We would have no problem going on this ship again. It was a full cruise but we did not feel crowded except waiting to be seated for dinner after the show when everyone went to the dining room. Otherwise it is a very spacious, clean, with lots of areas and bars for sitting around. One complaint: Many cruise ships have added the giant screen on the pool deck. On this cruise it was blaring CNN news, loud music and movies all the time. It is so intrusive to anyone who is on the pool deck or on the walking track on deck 12 and they are bombarded with noise. You cannot find a quite spot to sit and read without this insistent noise from the big screen in the outdoor area. I found this personally annoying and noticed that many others on the deck were shouting to be heard over the continual noise. Perhaps the cruise line should look at what they put on and even turn it off sometimes. Not everyone needs to watch a movie on the pool deck or what the latest is happening in presidential nominations. Ports of Call: Bay of Islands - a beautiful morning to sail along the passage to Paihia and Russell. Mist on the mountains but the sun did shine later. Very similar scenery to the Whitsunday Passages for those that have been there. Tenders to shore were very efficient with the ship excursions being off first. Tender numbering system by the activities staff was well done and managed the huge number of people wanting to ashore. They can only move 400-500 per hour so with nearly 2000 people it took 4-5 hours. We only went off about 11am into Paihia for a walk around. A free shuttle bus was provided from the wharf into the town or it is a 15 minute walk. You can take a guided tour of the Waitangi treaty site and meeting house or walk round the area. There were markets in the park and plenty of shops with souvenirs. Very pretty waterfront and many took the ferry to Russell. We had a cool local beer on the deck on the waterfront watching people come and go. Helicopter lands nearby for rides across the bay. Auckland - a modern city not much different to Brisbane, Sydney or Melbourne. We berthed in the city centre so easy to get around. We were meeting friends and found a lovely cafe with free wifi near the waterfront. It was cloudy, drizzling rain and cool most of the day. Tauranga - the ship berthed at Mt Maunganui which is a seaside hamlet and close to Tauranga. It was cool weather and cloudy but a pleasant walk into town. You can get free wi-fi in a number of shop and Starbucks or Burger King by buying a coffee. We were going to take a walk around the little hill at the end of town where there are hot springs, but had to find a dentist instead. Easy to catch a local bus into Tauranga and look around. Napier - The ship had to reverse into the port area here and it was very interesting as it had to swing to the right and then reverse back into a working port area. We could not walk off this port area but had to be bused into Napier and back to the ship. Unfortunately we could not find a dentist available for an appointment in Tauranga the day before and had to contact our insurance company for assistance who found an emergency dentist in the Hawkes Bay area. The dentist was about a 20 minute ride to Havelock North and was going to cost about $80 each way by taxi. No buses available on a Saturday to get us there either. After speaking to a volunteer who takes guided walking tours around the town of Napier, she offered to take us to the dentist and wait and bring us back. We had an appointment at 2.30pm. So she picked us up and gave us a guided tour on the way out, waited for the repair and then took us on a guided tour of all of the wineries around the area and finally stopped at the Mission Winery Estate, one of the oldest in New Zealand and established by the Marist Brothers. She was the most helpful, warm and entertaining ambassador for the town of Napier and the local tourism area. Beth was delightful and certainly was the highlight of our visit to New Zealand. Napier is a very pretty Art Deco style town with lots of well-maintained building, a large central mall and the locals provide entertainment, and dress in the art deco style throughout the town, providing musical numbers and vintage cars on the wharf and in the town centre. Free wifi in the city centre for 30 minutes. We will return to visit this beautiful region in the future. Wellington - This is a beautiful harbour and I was returning after leaving nearly 30 years ago. On a fine and sunny day it is very picturesque but it was misty, cloudy and cool. The ship berthed in the city centre and there were buses into the city with 2 drop off points or you could walk. There were taxis just outside the gates and you could take a guided tour with them for a couple of hours in the city or up to 5 hours including the city and northwards into the country for NZ$60-$70 per hour. We took an hour taxi ride and I was able to visit places where I had lived, drove around the bays and across to Miramar and the airport and the driver was very entertaining and informative. Showed us where the Lord of the Rings studios are located and where they do all of the digital graphics for movies such as Avatar etc. We got dropped off at the top of the Cable Car and then walked back to the ship after wandering around the city centre. A very easy city to get around from the ship. Akaroa - this is the access port for the city of Christchurch as the Lyttleton port area was destroyed in the earthquake and is still not re-constructed. It is a very pretty harbour area and we once again had tenders in. It was again cloudy, cool and showery and we went for a walk along the waterfront. It has a very French history with street names and buildings with a French heritage. It was a public holiday and many people were visiting from Christchurch, so we strolled around and went back onto the ship. However we were fascinated to hear about the blue pearl which is naturally grown in the local waters and is only found here. They were very different and the jewellery it was manufactured in was beautiful. Unfortunately I did not have enough time to consider buying one, but may next time we visit as they were so unusual and beautiful. Dunedin - It was very cold and windy when we berthed at Port Chambers, the port for Dunedin. A bus ride was $8 each way so it would have been $32 just to get in and back. We elected to stay on the ship and enjoy the ambiance. Many people went on the train journey up the gorge and enjoyed it. There was a huge pile of woodchip on the wharf but with the strong winds, much of it was blown on to the ship and they had to wash it down that night and the next day to clean it up. Dusky, Doubtful and Milford Sound - The weather was again cool and cloudy but not as windy as the day before and the cruise through the first 2 sounds was serene and picturesque. Then into Milford Sound and it was majestic with the mountains going straight up. There were many small craft sailing up and down the sound and then the captain slowed down and put the nose of the ship under a 500 foot waterfall. This was a very skilful exercise and done to perfection. We then went to the end of the sound to the town of Milford and collected some passengers who had gotten off in Dunedin and taken an overnight trip inland to Queenstown and then onto to Milford Sound to be picked up again. While we were there the cloud lifted for a short time and revealed the top of the peak and also some snowfields on top of the mountains. We were very fortunate to have been able to sail in such good weather as some cruise ships apparently have not been able to visit due to bad weather in recent days. Sailing days - there were 2 full sailing days over and back and it was enjoyable just to enjoy the ship's facilities and entertainment. On the way over it was quite windy and it cooled down so there was not much activity outside. Sydney - we arrived on Saturday morning and sailed through the heads and it is really a beautiful sail-in and harbour to arrive in. We were berthed overnight at the Overseas Passenger Terminal opposite the Opera House and disembarked on the Sunday. Sydney is a beautiful city day and night and there was a spectacular fireworks display at about 10.15pm in the bay near the Opera House. The views of the city, harbour bridge, opera house and foreshore from the ship were fantastic. Most of the cruise to New Zealand was cool, cloudy and showery in most ports with only the first and last day warm enough to enjoy the sunshine on deck. Even though it is summer, the weather can be changeable and cooler than Sydney or Brisbane. Read Less
Sail Date January 2012
First to start with I found the check in at Circular Quay with Royal Caribbean a lot better than with other cruise lines I have traveled with out of this Terminal less than 30 minutes at peak time which is very quick, But i must say that ... Read More
First to start with I found the check in at Circular Quay with Royal Caribbean a lot better than with other cruise lines I have traveled with out of this Terminal less than 30 minutes at peak time which is very quick, But i must say that Sydney's Cruise Terminals are poor and would expect better from Sydney. The cabin we had was a Superior Ocean view With Balcony on deck 7 the balcony was double the size of a normal balcony the room was well maintained and clean. The shower was a little small but I could live with that and the interactive tv which could do a number of things was excellent we mainly used it to check our account balance and for room service. The cabin steward as usual was excellent he kept the cabin in great condition and every other night we got a different animal made up from towels. For the dining we used the Cascades deck 4 for our evening meal we keep to the same table every night, The waiters were great and the head waiter was excellent and would go around to different tables when Fish or Duck was served and cut the bones out for people great service, The only problem would be is the Food was only average. Other times we used the Windjammers or Park Cafe a good selection of food was provided and it was above average for a buffet style also the Hot Dog outlet was great and served many different Hot Dogs from around the world.The staff was always at the front of all the dining area's to sanitise passengers hands and other staff were walking around the ship to keep it clean at all times good stuff. The Cruise director and his staff were the best I have seen on any ship I have travelled on from Cunard to P&O and he was not stereotyped like many I have seen in Oz where they use the same old jokes. The Entertainment was good but for me the Rat-pack show on the second last night was fantastic. Overall the best cruise we have had out of Australia and would recommend to anyone and have already book our next one on Radiance. My only hope is Royal Caribbean do not put a ship like Radiance permanently in Oz as they seem to always go down hill like many others have. Read Less
Sail Date January 2012
This was our fourth Royal Caribbean cruise and our first on this class of ship. We have always experienced great service and attention to care on RCI cruises and this was no exception. The ship itself is beautiful - large enough to not ... Read More
This was our fourth Royal Caribbean cruise and our first on this class of ship. We have always experienced great service and attention to care on RCI cruises and this was no exception. The ship itself is beautiful - large enough to not realise there were 700+ children onboard and small enough for my 89 year old father-in-law to get around. We cruise for the ship not for the destinations and we chose this itinerary as it was during school holidays, after Christmas and because we have been to all the ports before, other then Champagne Bay. My father-in-law loves sitting on the balcony watching the tenders go to and fro the shore so the number of ports with tendering requirements was great for him. We experienced some of the new Specialty Restaurants. Samba Grill was quite the experience - ensure you arrive hungry as there were 9 courses of meat - it is quite the carnivorous experience. Chopps Grille was sensational - one of the best steaks I have ever eaten, magnificent service by Randolph and the desserts ... oh my! I'm still dreaming about the Red Velvet cake. Rita's Cantina was a let down. I love mexican food and I was looking forward to this restaurant. The lighting was wonderful, the margaritas delicious (albeit quite a long wait - an unusual experience on RCI ships) but the food and service was less than spectacular. We didn't try Giovannis but feedback from other passengers was that it was really great. The quality of the food in the dining room has slipped over the years. Cost cutting has meant that the menu is a little less special than in previous years but it is still appetising and the waitstaff are truly outstanding, making every experience a good one. I especially appreciated Captain Sindre Borsheim - such a knowledgable,generous and humorous captain. His midday annoucements and 1 1/2 hr Captains Corner Q&A session were really great. He was very amiable and visible. Unfortunately the same can't be said for Bill the Cruise Director. The Cruise Directors staff were wonderful, but the Cruise Director himself was bland and sparkless. I saw the Captain more than I saw him. His humour seemed false and rehearsed - not the best RCI has to offer. As usual the Production shows as well as the other shows and acts were great quality. I liked the new Piano Man, City of Dreams and the Tango show as well s the magician, pianist, singer and juggler. The one show I absolutely hated was the Aussie Boys. Over the top, fake smiles and daft humour spoiled the fact that they could actually sing. This act is much better suited to a non-Australian audience. We loved the ship so much that we hope to sail on her again Christmas 2012 - it was a wonderful holiday. Read Less
Sail Date January 2012
We joined the Cruise in Sydney and after an efficient embarkation we enjoyed lunch until our Stateroom was ready. When we arrived at our Stateroom we were soon met by our room attendant, a young man who proved to be polite and ... Read More
We joined the Cruise in Sydney and after an efficient embarkation we enjoyed lunch until our Stateroom was ready. When we arrived at our Stateroom we were soon met by our room attendant, a young man who proved to be polite and efficient. We were right at the front of the ship and had great views through the large dormer windows. Of course we soon began the exploration of the ship and found things nicely positioned and well signed. We ate in the main dining room, early sitting, and enjoyed the company of 4 other couples. Each evening we were able to share the day's experiences. New Zealand is wonderful and our visit included many locations we had not experienced before. Of course the highlight was cruising Milford Sound. Overall we had a great time and found the ship facilities and crew members to be first class. We have previously sailed Celebrity Cruises and my feel is that there was little difference between the two cruise lines = of course they are "related" so it was no surprise to see things done the same way. Read Less
Sail Date January 2012
Radiance Of The Seas - Handicapped Cabin 7112 Travelled ex-Sydney on 15 January 2012. (with 85 year old parents, one of them in a wheelchair). Special needs cabin 7112 is a disabled equipped cabin located mid-ship close to the Centrum ... Read More
Radiance Of The Seas - Handicapped Cabin 7112 Travelled ex-Sydney on 15 January 2012. (with 85 year old parents, one of them in a wheelchair). Special needs cabin 7112 is a disabled equipped cabin located mid-ship close to the Centrum bank of 6 elevators. Entry to the room is activated by inserting your card key into a special black card reader. The extra wide door is connected to an automatic motorised door opener & closer allowing wheelchairs to enter without pushing against the door. When exiting the room, there is a button on the wall to open the door from the inside. Again, opening and closing the door automatically. Upon entry you realise that the cabin is spacious and allows ample room to manoeuvre a wheelchair. The room facilities include: * Option to configure as either a Queen size bed or 2 singles * Bedside tables are movable * Bedside lamps have special little reading lights. * On the wall beside the bed are jacks for hearing headphones. * Above the hearing jack was an emergency assistance button. (Accidently pressed at one point which resulted in a gentle knocking on the door and the appearance of a wonderful female security officer entering the cabin to check that everything was OK.) Very reassuring to know that assistance is swiftly offered. * Phone beside bed allows hands free calls with an inbuilt speaker. * A comfortable 2 seater lounge and small movable coffee table * Writing desk and single chair * Mini bar fridge * Safe in top cupboard above TV (not easily reached by those in wheelchairs) * Special flashing emergency lamps are on the wall for hearing impaired passengers * Full length mirror on the wall behind the wardrobe * Wardrobe has ample shelf space and hangers, the good ones that you can easily remove and replace on the rack. (Not those silly ones you have to fiddle with to put them back by finding the tiny little slot in the hanging ring) * A fantastic mechanism in the wardrobe allows you to pull down on a vertical bar to have the entire horizontal hanging rack move down to eye level when sitting in a wheelchair. No reaching to get clothes off the rack and hang them back up * The bathroom door is extra wide and swings wide for each access. * There is no lip or step on entry to the bathroom, nor into the shower, allowing easy roll-in/roll-out by the wheelchair. * There are grip rails around the walls of the bathroom * There is a phone on the wall between the shower and the toilet area. * An emergency assistance button on the wall plus an emergency pull cord down to floor level is behind toilet. * The shower has a generous size fold down bench seat and the floor has a slight level change to prevent water running the wrong direction. If the water does run the wrong way, there is another drain across the doorway. * Showerhead rose has adjustable height. Adjustable water temp and pressure flow changes. * Limited vanity space, but you can roll wheelchair under. * A non-slip rubber ramp runs up to the level of the balcony * The balcony is a constructed teak decking laid at the same level allowing easy wheelchair access and has special grip railings above normal deck railings. * On the balcony are 2 comfortable chairs and a small table. (perfect for a room service breakfast) It appears that all the handicapped cabins on Radiance are identically equipped with the exception of whether you have a Balcony, Ocean View or Inside cabin. As for wheelchair access on Radiance, it is very good and there were very few spots onboard that you can not get to in a wheelchair. As for pool access, the outdoor pool does have a chair lift to both the pool and one of the hot-tubs. The solarium pool only has stairs and a grip rail down into the pool. Disembarking via gangway access in ports with berthing facilities was easy from deck 3 forward, rather than deck 4. Embarkation back onboard was made easy when security radioed onboard staff who magically appeared and took control of the wheelchair and pushed it back up the ramp with Mum in it for us. Fantastic service! Then to be greeted by the security team with "Welcome Home!" just made it all so special. As for ports that required using tenders to shore, we can not comment on as we stayed onboard during those days.(Akoroa and The Bay of Islands. Fantastic days for quiet family time. I hope that this information can assist future special needs passengers aboard Radiance. I know how important it is to help in planning a holiday when there is a lack of specific and detailed information regarding these handicapped cabins. The facilities available onboard certainly made our holiday so very special and memorable for us whilst we travelled on probably our final family holiday with our parents. Read Less
Sail Date January 2012
Having never cruised before, my partner and I decided to try a 14 day round trip cruise to New Zealand from Sydney, Australia. A big factor in helping us choose a cruise line and ship was the activities offered on board; my partner likes ... Read More
Having never cruised before, my partner and I decided to try a 14 day round trip cruise to New Zealand from Sydney, Australia. A big factor in helping us choose a cruise line and ship was the activities offered on board; my partner likes to keep busy and I wanted to make sure he wouldn't get bored. Radiance offered a lot of activities and on paper, she looked like a fun ship with heaps to do. She certainly didn't disappoint! Travel to Embarkation point & embarkation process As we travelled from interstate to get to Sydney, we decided to take the airport train to Circular Quay, a 20 minute trip which cost AUD$30 per person. It was very easy to travel to the embarkation point this way straight from the airport terminal. The embarkation process itself was quite long - as we had not been through the process before being first time cruisers, we left it to our TA to arrange the air travel and arrived about 1.15pm in the Sydney Overseas Passenger Terminal (OPT) at Circular Quay. Unfortunately, so did everyone else on the cruise! It took us about 2 hours to get checked in and onto the ship. Next time, we will make sure we get to the terminal as early as possible to check in. We talked to another couple at the end of our trip who told us they checked in at 11am and hardly had to wait at all. The facilities are a little outdated at the OPT so this may have been part of the reason why embarkation took so long. In addition, we were told by one of the Customs officers that some people checking in before us had not completed their paperwork for check in so this led to longer delays while we waited for these people to complete their paperwork. The check in process itself is quite quick but take it from me - make sure you have all your paperwork filled in and completed properly, this will ensure a quicker check-in process for everyone! Staterooms, Facilities and Service on Radiance of the Seas The ship facilities and decor are of a high quality standard considering the ship underwent major refurbishment in April 2011. We could not fault the service from any of the staff for the entire two weeks, everyone was very polite and helpful. Our stateroom attendant, Ni, greeted us in the corridor as we went to see our room after we checked in. She was always polite, unobtrusive and could not do enough to help us. During the trip, we received our Cruise Compass (newsletter) each night and every couple of days we had a towel animal on our bed waiting to greet us. The newsletters were well set out, informative and provided more than ample information on the ports we were sailing to and the dining and activities aboard the ship each day. Our balcony stateroom was of a good size, the decor was elegant and not garish or over the top. We had a room right at the aft of the ship with a 'partially obstructed view' which was a ladder that is used by the crew for washing windows on the ship. It only annoyed me periodically when I wanted to take some photos from the balcony, otherwise the slightly bigger balcony was great as we had room for a sun lounge as well as the table & two chairs. As the balcony formed part of the superstructure of the ship at the aft end, it was also quite protected from the elements. The other advantage of this room is that it is very quiet as you are situated between two decks with staterooms and you only have one adjoining room. The bathroom was a little small as was the shower but both of us were more than used to it by the end of the cruise. We are both quite tall and didn't have a problem with the size of the shower. The bed was very comfortable and very large! Generally, we didn't have a lot of trouble sleeping but with the rolling motion of the ship on the days where it was a little rough, I found it a little more difficult to sleep and kept waking up during the night. The stateroom had an interactive flat screen TV with several movie channels, one or two news channels, a sports channel and you could also order room service or check your account from the TV. We also found the channels dedicated to the ship information very helpful, especially the Cruise Directors' daily show which went through all the activities for that particular day. The TV selections with movies etc was quite limited and quite repetitive but really, who goes on a cruise to watch TV? There was also a large sofa, small coffee table, small desk space with chair and a large cupboard space for all of your clothes and shoes. Overall, I would most certainly get this cabin again on a future cruise, the advantages more than outweighed the disadvantages. While we were at sea en route to NZ, I tried out the Day Spa on board and the spa staff were extremely friendly and the treatments are 5 star quality. The only complaint here is that the spa treatments are very pricey, as is the sauna & steam room facilities. They do have specials on the shore days but even then, I thought they were quite expensive. The ship had many activities offered, especially during sea days, from horse racing to bingo, belly flop competitions, darts, art auctions - the activities program was very good and there was always something to do. My partner is an avid fan of rock climbing and he utilised the rock wall on the way to NZ during a sea day. The ship also has a basketball / games court, 9 hole mini-golf course and well equipped video arcade - we kept ourselves busy with the Guitar Hero machine on board on more than one occasion! We didn't see any of the shows onboard, nor are we particularly interested in the formal nights so we didn't take part in these activities. The ship was always clean and we saw the maintenance men constantly maintaining the ship during our trip. There is internet service on the ship, however it is quite expensive and slow so we only bought a package for what we thought we needed. Wi-Fi is available everywhere on the ship, however I had trouble with our iPad at times. We preferred to buy a pre-paid wireless card when we got to NZ and used this throughout our trip. Definitely a much cheaper and easier option if you will be spending most of your time in one country on the cruise. Food and Dining Now as for the food & drinks - OH MY GOD! I don't think I have eaten more food in a two week period than what I did on the ship. The quality of the food in the Dining room and the specialty restaurants was easily as good, if not better than, a 5 star hotel. The additional money we paid to eat at the 4 restaurants on board was well worth it in my opinion. Each of the 4 restaurants had very high quality food and you rolled out of each restaurant following your meal absolutely full! Take it from us - make sure you don't eat for half the day before you go to the restaurants, especially the Samba Grill. You certainly need to make room for the 9 types of meat they serve as they are absolutely delicious! We didn't eat much in the Windjammer cafe as it was quite crowded at times and unfortunately we aren't really people who like buffet style food so maybe that was a factor. I preferred to eat breakfast at the Park Cafe because it was quieter than the Windjammer. My partner loves hot dogs so he was a regular at the Boardwalk Dog House. The hot dogs were pretty good although we didn't try anything other than the usual Coney Island hot dog. There are about 7 or 8 different types of sausages you can have in your hot dog here. It would have been nice to be able to make a decent tea or coffee in your stateroom, there was only tea bags available and the coffee wasn't good. Even the Starbucks coffee you paid for wasn't fantastic. The bar service was good and the ship has many places to go for a quiet drink or, if you like, find a happening place for a party! The range of drinks offered was very wide and varied from many different types of cocktails to beer, wine & soft drink. We paid additional for the soft drink package which was worth the money in my opinion. The drink prices were very reasonable on the ship and again, you always got service with a smile from the staff. Unfortunately, you could not buy alcohol and take it on board the ship to consume; the staff would take it from you when you boarded the ship and store it until the end of the cruise. I thought the bottles of wine onboard were a little pricey so I usually bought these by the glass, however you could buy a bottle of wine and if you didn't finish it, you could have the staff store it for you and have it the next night, whether you were dining in one of the restaurants or in the dining room. During the first sea day on the way to NZ, we went to Rita's Cantina for 'Margarita happy hour'. The margaritas were good and it was great to see the sunset at sea from the back of the ship. Safety Drill and Tendering process The mandatory safety drill took place before we sailed from Sydney, was well organised and all the staff took this very seriously which was good to see. The two days where we were required to be ferried ashore by tenders was also well organised by the crew. We never had to wait for too long to board the tenders and we thought the process was quite efficient considering there were 2100 passengers aboard the ship. Shore Excursions The shore excursions were also well organised but we were a little disappointed when our excursions we had arranged for two of the ports were cancelled as we were the only people who had booked those particular excursions on those days. Next time though, I wouldn't book excursions for each port and do some more research on what we would really like to see in each place. If the excursions offered on the ship don't suit, we would book our own. Generally though, the tours were good and offered friendly bus drivers who were very knowledgeable about their respective local areas. I thought the prices were reasonable for the shore excursions. Disembarkation The disembarkation process was quite organised and we were off the ship and through Customs / Quarantine within 30 minutes. Much quicker than embarkation! Negatives and Conclusion The only thing we noticed on the negative side was that some of the older generation passengers on the ship appeared quite rude, pushing past you often without apologising, not waiting for you to exit the lifts before they pushed past you to get in and God help you if you got in their way when they were heading for the food! This did not apply to all of the elder generation onboard, but we thought that those who were rude could have displayed a little more courtesy and patience, after all, aren't they are supposed to be on holidays? We also had a couple of days where the sea was about a 3 metre swell and particularly at the beginning of the cruise when we were still getting our sea legs, we both felt a little queasy but never totally seasick! Thankfully this passed very quickly and we felt fine the next day. Overall, our first time cruising experience was about as good as it could be and we are already planning our next trip. Although the ship capacity is 2,501 passengers, we never felt crowded and in fact, we wondered where all the people were at times! We enjoyed our first cruise immensely; it was a stress-free holiday that we would recommend to everyone. In fact, we are a little worried that the bar has been set very high with this cruise and that we could be disappointed next time! Read Less
Sail Date January 2012
We choose this Radiance of the Seas cruise for its New Zealand itinerary. We arrived in Australia two weeks before the ship's departure to visit friends in New South Wales and South Australia. We also spent a couple days in Sydney ... Read More
We choose this Radiance of the Seas cruise for its New Zealand itinerary. We arrived in Australia two weeks before the ship's departure to visit friends in New South Wales and South Australia. We also spent a couple days in Sydney before departure. We stayed at the Aspire Hotel which was within easy walking distance of Darling Harbor. Even with the Taxi fares, this was a nice 4-star hotel that was less than 1/2 of the cost of the hotel offered by RCCL. Taxi from our hotel to the ship was about $40AUD. THE SHIP EXPERIENCE: The condition of the ship was excellent as would be expected since Radiance came off refurbishment last year. All public areas were gorgeous and in absolutely top shape. The Solarium Indoor pool was our favorite relaxation spot during our "at sea" days. The Gym was also very well equipped and in excellent condition too. FELLOW PASSENGERS: We found the ship was about 80% Australians with the rest from North America and a very small number of Brits & Europeans. I am guessing the average age to between Mid 40s to Mid 50s. There were about 400 children on this cruise. Too many of these kids were unsupervised and behaved in a manner that should embarrass their parents. RCCL Crew members saw this ill behavior but seemed powerless to do anything about it. ONBOARD ACTIVITIES: Rock Wall, Mini Golf, Pools, Game Room, Library were all well maintained and in nearly constant use. OUR ROOM: We had booked early so we could choose a Balcony room (8604) on the "Hump" on the Starboard side. Our balcony on the Hump was a about twice as big as normal. The views from the Starboard side (Even Numbered cabins) were always dockside for this itinerary. The size and layout of this room was more than adequate for our needs. There was ample storage for all of our things. Our room steward was great and always had our room spotless. Two Cruise Critic Tips that served us well were to bring a Power Strip (or two 3 into 1 adapters) for all your electronic gadgets and a Digital Clock. There was absolutely no outside noise even though the room was very near the beautiful Atrium. DINING: We chose Early Seating in the Cascades (Main Dining Room) even though we knew we might have to rush back from our late tours (but this was not really an issue). We sat at a table for 10 and enjoyed the excellent company of our dining companions. The food selections were ample and the taste was usually excellent. One of our table-mates didn't like a couple of their first choices and they were offered a replacement selection that was more to their taste. Portion sizes were not large but we never walked away hungry. Windjammer Buffet: We only ate most of our breakfasts and lunches at the buffet. The selection was adequate but not extensive. Don't be shy about ordering Room Service (it is included) for your morning Coffee/Tea/breakfast. This was a real time saver while we were getting ready for those early port tours. (It also can serve as your wake-up call ;-) The only specialty restaurant that we chose was the Samba Grill, a Brazilian Dining experience. Great food & service that was well worth the $25 per person surcharge. ENTERTAINMENT: There was a very enjoyable variety of musical entertainment throughout the ship. The ships band was awesome and we did enjoy their performances throughout the ship and the cruise. The RCCL Dancers and Singers were very good and their Broadway musical was very well done. INTERNET: There was an Internet Lounge and Hotspots available throughout the ship but it was VERY EXPENSIVE ($.55 per minute when pre-buying 100 minutes) which could be acceptable (given that you are at sea) but the speed was quite slow. ITINERARY Day 1 EMBARKATION Jan 15: We arrived at 11:00 AM and that was about the same time that many others arrived. (Remember that most of the ship's passengers were from Australia so many simple drove from their homes throughout New South Wales) RCCL's staff was well organized in spite of the crowd's surge and we were on the ship within 45 minutes. Any delays were due to the fact that Sydney's Overseas Passenger Terminal needs to be updated to accommodate their increasing Cruise Ship visits. Day 2 AT SEA: Continued learning our way around the ship. The Tasman Sea was (unusually) calm so it was a fine for resting. It was our first Formal Night,(most men wore suits). Another fine dinner and the show after Dinner was wonderful. The Headline Entertainer played 7 different instruments, sang, and danced all without a fault! Day 3 Another AT SEA day so we moved slowly in the morning. We went to a Port Lecture and there was also a "Cruise Critic Meet & Mingle" group party hosted by RCCL so we met all of our fellow Cruise Critic members. Weather cooled off (it is 73 Degrees Fahrenheit) Later in the day, we had a RCCL Party for their Crown & Anchor Members. Day 4 We spent the day cruising through Milford Sound, Doubtful Sound, and Dusky Sound. The steep mountainsides went right down to the Sea. Pictures do not do the scenic beauty justice. This was one of the highlights of our cruise and a fantastic day. Day 5 DUNEDIN, NZ: We had booked the Taieri Gorge scenic railway tour. We boarded the train started dockside so it was very convenient. We saw some great scenery along the way and a box lunch and some very nice New Zealand wine was included. Overall though, I would rate this tour as somewhat enjoyable but very poor value for the price. Day 6 AKOARA NZ: This was an alternate port as the port of Christchurch was still not repaired following the 2011 Earthquake. We used the ship's Tenders to get to shore. They ran late so the day's tours were quite rushed. We booked a ship tour to Christchurch to see the Antarctic Centre (Great but rushed) as well as the NZ Air Force Museum (Yawn). (Very good value considering the transportation to Christchurch. Day 7 WELLINGTON: We had arranged a ½ day "Lord of the Rings" tour with Wellington Rover. Our guide was incredibly well informed and took us to many of the local Lord of the Rings filming locations. He had pictures of each location in the film(s) which matched the trees and scenery of each location. We ate dinner was at the Brazilian Specialty Restaurant which featured 9 different kinds of meats. I made all nine meat courses (but waived Desert) and my wife stopped at 8 (but ate desert). The after dinner show was a wonderful Argentine Tango dance show. Day 8 NAPIER: We docked at 7AM and left at Noon. We booked a private tour of the town in a Vintage Car through the Art Deco Trust (http://www.artdeconapier.com/). Our car was a splendid 1939 Packard. Our driver (David) shared the fascinating history of this wonderful little town. The buildings are all extremely well maintained so it was like stepping back into the 1930s. Without a doubt, Napier was our favorite NZ city that we would like to visit over a longer period. It was also our 2nd Formal night. Day 9 TAURANGA: None of the ship or private tours seemed enticing so we just stayed on the ship. The ship was almost deserted so we quite enjoyed our relaxing time on board. Day 10 AUCKLAND; We had booked a private tour with Bush & Beach Tours. It was a 2-part tour the first being Auckland City sights. It was nice but a large city like Auckland is not unlike many other cities. Auckland does have the largest Boating Marina though. The 2nd part of our tour package took us out to the bush areas outside Auckland. We had a fantastic Driver /Guide (Wayne) who knew everything there was to tell about the area. We made several stops along the way with great picture opportunities. Our walks took us to waterfalls and through beautiful tropical forests. This was a great tour. Our ship's departure time had moved up by a ½ hour since we booked the tour which cut our safety margin to zero so the Tour Company sent a car to drive us back to the ship. We made it back on the ship with 10 minutes to spare! Well done Bush & Beach Tours!! Day 10 BAY OF ISLANDS: My wife & I choose different tours for this day. She chose a Treaty House tour that covered the starting history of the Maori / English Treaty that formalized the creation of New Zealand as an English Territory. She thoroughly enjoyed the tour and took some great pictures. While I chose a more active tour with a Kayak trip up a river (notice I said "up a river" as in UPSTREAM against the current). They also took us through the Mangrove tress just to test our navigation skills. (Did I mention that this was my first time in a Kayak?) The trip upriver took 2 hours of nearly continuous paddling. We stopped near a waterfall that my wife has also visited on her tour so she had all the pictures. The trip back was easier for the most part down-stream except when we neared the bay. By this time, the tide was coming in so more heavy paddling to fight against the incoming current. I eventually made it back to our starting point, dropped off the equipment, and then walked back to the Pick-up point. All & all it was a very fun excursion but it not for the faint-hearted. I headed straight to lunch where I ran into my wife who has also just returned to the ship from her tour. Needless to say, she was in better condition than I, (by this time, I could barely lift my arms above my shoulders). She went for a massage (she said that it was the best massage that she had ever had) and I went to the cabin for a rest(as I look back on these choices - something does not seem quite right). We had a nice dinner and followed by a so-so show in the theatre. The ship was heading west back toward Australia so we set our clocks back for an extra hour of much needed sleep. Day 11 AT SEA: A quiet relaxing day allow us to rest up from the previous days of tours. The Captain's excellent talk covered the running of the ship. It is our 3rd (and final) Formal night. It was Australia Day so the ship had several special Australian events to mark the occasion throughout the day. Day 12 AT SEA: Another great day to rest & relax. I took the opportunity to climb the Rock Wall. We rested and reluctantly started packing. Day 13 SYDNEY: The ship spend the day & night docked in Sydney so it was like being in a hotel. We booked a tour of the Blue Mountains through the ship. (would not choose this tour again) Final Packing as we have to have our bags outside our rooms by 9 PM. Day 14, DISEMBARKATION: We were out of our rooms by 8 O'clock and off the ship by 9:30. Our luggage was well organized and easy to find. We had booked transportation to the airport as we had early afternoon flights. SUMMARY: We had a FANTASTIC trip. This itinerary was an excellent balance between port stops and relaxing days at sea. We returned home exhausted from our travels with a good overview of New Zealand. We absolutely recommend the Radiance of the Seas and this itinerary as it was a trip that we will never forget! Read Less
Sail Date January 2012
I believe this was the first time Radiance of the Seas has sailed the South Pacific. The ship is very impressive, walls of glass, fabulous restaurants, excellent food and plenty of shore stops. The evening shows are very good and the ... Read More
I believe this was the first time Radiance of the Seas has sailed the South Pacific. The ship is very impressive, walls of glass, fabulous restaurants, excellent food and plenty of shore stops. The evening shows are very good and the theatre most impressive. With regard to gratuities I would not recommend paying them in advance. The gratuities are paid to state room attendants and staff at the main dining room. If you decide to eat at other restaurants you are not able to allocate any of the prepaid gratuities to these staff. We ate at other restaurants 7 out of the 12 nights so I ended up paying much more in gratuities for the other dining staff. Additionally the prepaid gratuities apparently guarantee "my time" dining where you can choose the time that you eat. Not so. On the first night my children and I waited over an hour for "my time" dining and finally I took them to the steak house, we ate at 10.00pm and the meal cost me $120.00 plus gratuity. . If you go ashore and plan activities try to do so well beforehand. Everyone is on island time. The islands were stunning, particularly Mystery Island and Champagne Bay. Get your tender tickets to get off the boat early - there are 2199 people wanting to get off with you! The pool is very small which is probably fine for Radiance's typical route through Alaska but much too small for a South Pacific cruise where people like to swim. There is another pool but for adults only and a wading pool for children. The scene by the pool in the afternoon can become chaotic but there's always a bar nearby with a friendly bartender. Read Less
Sail Date January 2012
Embarkation at the Overseas Terminal in Sydney was chaotic, absolutely no organisation and people lined up for ages just to drop bags. Something needs to be done about this. Got a gastro virus three days out and quarantined for two days ... Read More
Embarkation at the Overseas Terminal in Sydney was chaotic, absolutely no organisation and people lined up for ages just to drop bags. Something needs to be done about this. Got a gastro virus three days out and quarantined for two days due to something I had eaten, missed Milford Sound and Dunedin. What a good start. Tendering in Arkaroa was painful with passengers standing in the blazing sun waiting and waiting for tenders to take them back to ship. The waiting staff need more training. Some were great but others were appalling and rude to boot. For instance, an ordered breakfast, after waiting for half an hour and everyone else had finished, came incomplete so I asked if I could have what I ordered. When he finally came back with the missing sausage he said "I hope you're happy now"! Excuse me! I still seethe reminding myself of this aside. Plates were never cleared away in a timely manner, a real irritation of mine. Hot water served in a teapot and 15 minutes later a teabag is offered!!! Ship had too many passengers. Children took over all activities and every pool area even the solarium. There was nowhere to get away from them. Never travel during school holidays unless you have children in tow. Passengers without children have no rights to peace and quiet? I never saw crew sanitising any part of the ship during the two weeks on board. Passengers were not encouraged to sanitise their hands prior to eating in the top floor of the main dining room. Buffet staff did enforce this. As a result my husband and I caught a bad virus and its been two weeks since we got off the ship and we are still not 100%. This is the first time on many cruises we have actually been ill, we are always very careful but still succumbed to Radiance's bugs. Maybe more cleaning would be in order. What a whine...sorry but this was our fourth cruise with RCL and I have always recommended them to friends. Is the service poorer because we are Australian and they think we don't notice bad service well they are wrong. Read Less
Sail Date February 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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