Getting there was a problem as our plane was delayed twice, once in RDU for 3 1/2 hours, and again in Chicago for 1 1/2 hr. Missed ship. Other than these formalities: Great cruise
The Radiance of Sea was voted best ship in RCI stable for 2004. It is a beautiful ship that has many great qualities. If it has a fault it gets crowded in area of shops when they put items in aisle.
Food was great. Ate mostly in dining room but did eat several times in Windjammer. Was most surprised at the set up there. Having travels on several RCI ships, I found the display of food was amazing. You had food bars, containing many different items.
I found this most useful and saved time looking for specialty foods.
Entertainment: Was great, varied, and well presented:
Staff: Went beyond expectations: Helpful, understanding and always polite.
Would and will travel Radiance of Sea. I would give it 4 1/2 stars.
Rather than write a detailed review of the cruise I will just discuss some tips and observations about the ship, cruise line and ports. By way of note this was my 4th Alaska cruise in the last 7 years and my second Alaska cruise on the Radiance. Total cruises are now 30.
Embarkation was very quick and smooth. We embarked at Ballantyne Pier. It's about a 15 minute bus ride from downtown. Not nearly as nice as Canada Place. In the last year or so the cruise lines have started letting passengers on the ships very early and often before the staterooms are ready. This is far more comfortable for the passengers and eliminates long waits in the terminal. This was true of the Radiance. I arrived at the pier around 11:45AM from the Sutton Place Hotel using RCL transfers. I usually do not take cruise line transfers, but they were included with my airline tickets. Security checked passenger ID's and carry on bags. There was a Platinum/Diamond member check-in line which I used and numerous lines for non members. Lines were short and it took no m ore than 15 minutesto get on board. They directed everyone to have lunch at the Windjammer until around 1:00PM when cabins were ready.
We have learned from experience to always check our dinner table location immediately. I am glad we did. It was in a dark corner, no windows nearby, right by the busy entrance. The Maitre D' was very accommodating (better than most I have seen) and using a computer offered us 4 or 5 choices of better tables. He even gave us the other passenger's names and ages. We selected a large table on the upper floor right next to the windows.
The food at dinner was quite good. Each night they offered at least 5 entrees. One was roast beef or steak, chicken, fish, a vegetarian dish, pasta, and lamb or veal. Always available was a steak, chicken, Caesar salad, and a few other items. Bread and desserts were very good. A casual dinner was served each night in the Windjammer. They had a sushi bar as well several nights. There is a $12 corkage fee to bring your own wine to dinner. I will post a few menu's oat my photo gallery.
We had dinner one night at the Portofino Restaurant. The food was very good especially the desserts. It is well worth the $20 per person charge. The Cruise Compass says that tips are included, but I always tip an extra $5 or $10 cash based on service. The Cruise Compass comes out every day and lists the day's activities. I will post some samples in my photo gallery.
For some reason the formal nights were the 2nd and 5th night. Most 7 day cruises have formal nights on the 2nd night and 6th night. Lobster tails were not served the second formal night but the 6th night. As for the dress code, I took my tuxedo as usual but was in the minority. Alaskan cruises for some reason seem less dressy. Maybe 25% of the men wore tuxedos, 50% suits, 20% sports coats, and the rest ??? There were two formal nights, one "smart casual", one "casual/50's & 60's", one "casual/Klondike Country attire", and 2 casual. Shorts are permitted at breakfast and lunch only in the dining room. I actually saw two men on a formal night in Blue Jean shorts with suspenders, white tee shirts and hats. Nobody stopped them from eating. Lunch in the dining room was different from my last cruise on the Radiance. They have the same menu every day except for one new special entree and dessert.
I really like the layout of the Windjammer on this ship. Rather than several long buffet tables where long lines occur, the Radiance has many large "stations" where you can go to select different items. The breakfast buffet was pretty good. They had typical breakfast fare and an omelet station for fresh made egg dishes. Lunch in the buffet was not as good and had typical buffet food. They had a nice salad bar, carving station, dessert area and soft serve ice cream. Pizza was good but the hamburgers are not made to order. I never tried it for dinner.
Latitudes is their premium coffee shop. They use Seattle's Best coffee here and you get a free pastry with any drink. They claim to use Seattles Best "in the dining rooms", but coffee in the Windjammer definitely not made from freshly ground beans. It is not very good.
The ship itself was very clean. Some carpets and chairs were a bit worn, but generally the ship was in excellent condition. Everywhere you looked crew members were cleaning, sweeping and polishing. We never ran across anyone who wasn't friendly and helpful. Waiters, cabin stewards, store employees, and the cruise staff were first rate. Our waiter, Shareef, was one of the best ever!!
Entertainment was pretty good too. The two production shows were very good. The entertainment consisted of comedians, a singer, comedy Juggler (Mario and Jenny), who we have seen before and a magician.
I am not a smoker but was very happy with the fairly rigid smoking policy. This is essentially a non-smoking ship. They allow smoking in open areas of most decks on the port side, in the casino, and the aft area of the Colony Club and Starquest lounge. That means no smoking in the halls, dining rooms, Centrum, shops, or the many bars or other public rooms. I assume they allow it in your stateroom since you can get an ashtray from the cabin attendant.
The swimming pools are salt water. The indoor and outdoor pools and spa are open 24 hours a day. The gym is open from 6:00AM to 11:00PM.
We booked this cruise about two weeks before it sailed and only 5 inside cabins were available. But one was a handicapped cabin which I took. They release them to the general public if they remain open about 60 days before the sailing. It was great. Essentially it's two cabins. About 330 s.f. with a huge bathroom and shower. There is a decent hairdryer on the desk, a small refrigerator, small TV, two U. S. style electric plugs, and Ethernet connections in the room. The beds were a typical hard mattress on a platform. Not like those wonderful pillow top mattresses on HAL. We did ask for a foam mattress pad that the cabin attendant put on. It helped a bit and eliminated any "crack' between the two twin beds that were set together. Handicapped rooms have a "push "button" system for opening the cabin doors. It's great from the outside, but the inside button is right below the lights for the bathroom. I had visions of accidentally hitting it one night in our dark inside cabin and opening the cabin door by mistake. I always take a small night light if I have an inside cabin so that helped.
Tips may be put on your credit card or given in cash to crew members. They had a form to sign if you wanted tips put on your credit card. Then the last night they give you envelopes and small receipts so the crew new you gave them a tip via credit card. I tipped a bit extra too by putting cash in with the receipts. They charge $9.75 a day if you charge the tips. This can be adjusted I believe or just use cash.
Diamond and Platinum Club members are treated to a wonderful brunch in the Portofino restaurant one morning. They also get a very nice booklet with discount coupons and a small gift. The coupons give you 2 for 1 savings on photos, free drinks, $4.00 free cash from the casino, etc.
They are always running specials in the shops and my wife won a beautiful necklace one day and a friend won an Amber Pendent at the "Guess the Fake Amber" drawing. The ring set in gold is the fake. The real ones are set in silver. They sell liquor in the shops and for an extra $9.50 you can take it to your room.
Having been to Alaska three other times we only took one ships tour. It was a Salmon bake, Mendenhall Glacier and hatchery tour in Juneau. We took this because friends we met on the ship were on it. But you can find far cheaper tours to most of the same places on shore. I saw very good deals from private vendors in Skagway and Juneau. Less so in Ketchikan, but they are available . This cruise included Hubbard Glacier. Previously I visited Glacier Bay. It was very overcast that day, but the glacier was especially blue and the Captain got the ship very close. One thing to watch about cruises to Hubbard Glacier. The ship leaves the protected waters of the Inside Passage and goes out into the Pacific Ocean. That afternoon we hit some every rough water and many passengers got sick and missed dinner. My wife, who uses a patch in rough water, was unprepared (as were most passengers) and for the first time got seasick. The crew said this is very rare, but just be cautious.
Debarkation was a bit different than on my other cruises out of Vancouver. I usually hate flying out of Vancouver airport since you are forced to stand in many long lines and drag your suitcases around. They now offer an expedited debarkation and onboard airline check-in for $20 per person. This includes the Vancouver airport passenger fee you usually pay at the airport. Basically they give you bar coded luggage tags the night before you leave. You put them on your suitcase and leave them outside your door as usual. You do not see your bags again until you get home. Then about 7:15AM in the Aurora Theater you get your boarding passes, luggage claim checks and a pass for the expedited customs and security checks. We boarded the bus at 8:20AM and headed to a special area outside the airport where immigration was cleared on the bus. Then off to a back gate where they had a special security check area and U.S. customs. We exited through a door right near our gate. Total time 90 minutes from the ship to our gate. And we never saw our luggage until we arrived home.
All in all it was a B+ cruise.
This was a terrific cruise. Having never sailed with Royal Carribean before, we were apprehensive about sailing another mainstream cruise line. What was most remarkable about the cruise was the staff. Except for a few disgruntled crew memebers, the crew was truly amazing.
People who worked aboard seemed to really enjoy their jobs. The food was passable and we always found plenty of choices that were above par. This was our first cruise on a mega ship and we never found ourselves in a crowd. We came away very happy with Royal Carribean.
Our cruise departed from Miami, where embarkation was a breeze. We arrived at the terminal about 12:15 and were on board having lunch at 12:45. Luggage was delivered around 2:30 - quickest ever in 12 cruises! We were extremely impressed with every aspect of our trip. I paid special attention to complaints posted on message boards - food, pool deck problems, etc. We found the food to be the best of all our cruises, especially in the Windjammer where we had breakfast and lunch most days. Sure, lots of items were always on the buffets, but there were literally HUNDREDS of items being offered so you never have to have the same item twice unless you choose to. Everyone was right about the onion rings in the Seaview - terrific. For the most part, dinners in the dining room were escellent. The roasted garlic soup was absolutely to die for. I think the soups, breads and desserts are areas where the chefs really shine. Our waiter and asst. waiter were EXCELLENT - Erkan and Ceon. They made avery meal special.
Our cabin was on deck 9 with balcony - can't goanymore without one. The first afternoon our cabin attendant introduced herself as Lilli. I asked her for an ashtray and for our robes which were not in the cabin. I also took advice I saw on message boards and gave her $10 up front. When we returned later that night, we had no ashtray or robes. I called the speedial and requested the items, and they were delivered by a gentleman in 5 minutes. The next morning we had a new attendant, Edna, who had no idea what had become of Lilli, was just marvelous. I told her she should find Lilli and get the $10 - don't think I'll do that again! Someone in the executive area on the ship left me a message to call about Lilli, but my husband accidentally deleted the message so I didn't know whom to call.
Everyone is right - there is a lot of saving of chairs. In my opinion, if people make the effort to get up and dressed early they should get the best chairs. You can't expect to sleep until 11:00 and think you're going to find the best location. For the most part, we didn't notice many chairs that were saved with no one using them for extended periods. Hot tubs were LOADED with little kids all the time in spite of the clearly marked signs forbidding that. On the tender back to the ship from Labadee, I actually heard a mother with a number of little ones telling her friend that the kids just wanted to get back to the hot tubs. It was all I could do to keep my mouth shut.
We were not able to stop at Grand Cayman - rough seas closed the port, but the ship was so wonderful that we barely missed it. All in all, this was the best one ever for us - we even booked our next cruise on the Jewel before we left the ship.
Debarkation went very smoothly as well - we were off the ship among the last because we were spending the day in Miami and flying home the next day and were still at our hotel by 9:15.
Another TERRIFIC job, Royal Caribbean!!
I have been on two prior cruises on a different cruise line. This was the best cruise so far. The ship is very well maintained and our cabin was very spacious. I don't know why, but we were upgraded to a family oceanview cabin which is approximately 300 square feet. This was really helpful since we were traveling with a teenager. The food was very good and room service was punctual. My only complaint is that the teen program for the age group of 12 through 17 left much to be desired. They had few activities for this age group and many activities that were scheduled they failed to do with the teenagers. The program needs to be more structured and have more variety for this age range. The other children programs for the other age groups seem to be very well organized and structured. Overall, I can't wait to take another trip with RCCL.
This was our first cruise experience. Everything went great and better than expected. Embarkation went very smooth in Port Everglades. We were dropped off and on the ship within 30 minutes.
We immediately checked out our cabin and our dining room table and headed to the Windjammer. Food in the Windjammer is good and was kept well stocked considering the number of people eating there everyday.
The dining room food was great and the service was spectacular. One of our table mates had a food allergy and they took special care to make sure she always had options that avoided her allergy.
The cabin was larger than we thought it might be. The storage was more than adequate considering we probably brought more onboard than nost seasoned cruisers.
The ship is beautiful. That is the best way to sum it up. The Captain was pleasant during his daily announcements and the staff was always helpful when needed.
The Ports of call were great. We visited Key West, Cozumel, Grand Cayman and Jamaica. The Cozumel visit will be better when they finish repairing the hurricane damaged dock. Tendering into Cozumel was an experience.
We will definitely sail withRadiance again!
Our cruise was the Pacific Northwest repositioning cruise. We boarded the ship in San Diego California, and had stops in San Francisco, Astoria Oregon, Victoria Canada, and final destination was Vancouver Canada. We are a couple in our 40's, and traveled with our three children, ages 10, 14, and 16.
Let me just say, this trip was wonderful! The one outstanding highlite of our trip...the service of the crew! Royal Caribbean, if you are listening, way to go! This is the one thing that you get right over and over again!
Boarding the ship was smooth and uneventful. We arrived at the port approximately 11:30, and were on the ship eating lunch at the Windjammer by 12:30. We had two adjoining balcony cabins on the 7th deck aft, 7144 and 7146...great set up with children. Upon entering our rooms, we realized two things: a wheelchair had been left behind from a previous passenger, and a welcome aboard gift was in our room rather than our neighbors by mistake. We called the front desk, and in about 30 seconds, someone appeared at our door to verify and re distribute the items. *our firstglimpse of their great service*
The ship is beautiful, walls of glass windows for views everywhere. Our favorite spots: The Colony Club at the very back of the ship, the Solarium indoor pool area, and the tables around the Seaview Cafe. We explored everything that first day, and us girls made spa appointments for manicure/pedicures.
We set ground rules for our children, every night dinner would be in Cascades, and they would all be there. We gave them walkie talkies to use for communication, but a word to parents, unless you have extremely obedient children, this doesn't work. They had noise from other kids chatter and typically turned them off. We resorted to plan B...Yellow post it notes in the cabins for check in and updates.
The Cascades dining staff was fabulous! A shout out to Roderick D. and Dan H...you guys made our trip truly special, thank you again :) They kept the kids entertained at dinner, their service was outstanding, their recommendations always on target. The dining room is beautiful as well, and the staff serenades you in song once or twice during your trip.
I also want to comment on the Adventure Ocean and Teen Optix staff. My 10 year old son would race out the door in the morning and race back after lunch, so happy to be involved in the activities. My teen daughters, who were concerned they wouldn't meet anyone else, and that it would be 'lame and boring' were the first ones in tears when we left the ship, having to leave their new friends behind. Special recognition to Rachel's staff, Rob, JJ, Chris...the kids thought you guys rocked! Top notch all of you :)
Other highlites of our cruise, Captain Kent. It was his farewell cruise, and what a great man. You can see that he really made a positive impact on his staff. The farewell show, was in his honor, and he sang, which is his trademark. Great show.
The food, delicious. We ate each night at Cascades, had lunches at Windjammer or Seaview Cafe. The Windjammer was typical buffet fare, the only complaint we had was the scrambled eggs. The hamburgers were great though! Service always prompt, friendly, and helpful.
Port cities, San Francisco, Astoria, Victoria, Vancouver. San Francisco probably our favorite, perhaps because we had the longest amount of time there and were able to book two tours. Astoria, well, I can see the city is trying to attract the cruise business, but seriously, there isn't alot to see or do in this tiny town. Victoria, Butchart Gardens, really enjoyable, beautiful, and the Empress Hotel was a nice stop as well. Vancouver, we went to Stanley Park, nice scenery, but the downtown area around it surprised us...rather dirty and unkept.
Activities on board, entertaining. The weather held up for us, but it was chilly, so not many opportunities for the outdoor pool. The rock climbing wall was used alot the first day at sea, but after that was cold and windy, not used much. The indoor activities of course included bingo, art auctions, dancing, live music in several different lounges, magic acts, the nightly shows in the Aurora theater, scrapbooking classes, towel and napkin folding, ice carving. All adds up to enough to keep you busy!
Would we recommend this cruise line and the Radiance in the future, absolutely! Now...we must plan our next cruise, I hear it's the only remedy for post cruise depression!