Aboard the Radiance of the Seas

Posted on Tuesday, February 7, 2012 |
Some Cruise Republicans got onboard Royal Caribbean's Radiance of the Seas this week while she was in port at Auckland, for a good look around and lunch! The Radiance is not one of Royal Caribbean's biggest ships, but she sure appears large and looming in our modest Waitemata Harbour. The original of the Radiance class, like Dr Who's Tardis she seems bigger on the inside too- due to her famed glass walls illuminating the interior. Nothing seems tucked away in the bowels of the ship, and even on the lifts you are in natural light- they are located near the outside glass walls and made of glass. Quite an experience it is dropping down 8 or more floors with a view of the ocean!

The atrium is a sight to see, soaring eight levels high and with an impressive sculpture suspended from the top. In the Crown and Anchor booking office near the top of the ship, there is a glass floor which allows you to stand over the atrium and look down on the many metres to the bottom- very cool! Around the outside of the atrium you can find various bars, library, duty free shops, the main restaurant, the casino, and the photo centre and tours desk.



There are a lot of specialty restaurants on this ship- although you certainly wouldn't go hungry or lack any variety by eating at the complimentary dining venues, which include the Windjammer buffet restaurant, the Cascades restaurant which is the main dining area with 6:15pm and 8:30pm dining times, (with the option of My Time Dining, where you can dine at any time, preferably with prior notice), the Boardwalk Dog House for very casual hot dogs and such, and the Park cafe in the adults-only Solarium which offers healthy options. We ate lunch in the Cascades Restaurant and I was very pleased with my beef stroganoff and apple pie, as well as with the surroundings- a nice-looking restaurant on two levels with a grand staircase and cascading waterfall, which does not feel at all like a dining hall.

Lunch in the Cascades:




The buffet looked extensive, and the Dog House was conveniently located near the pools and outdoor activities for a quick bite.

Windjammer:
Dog House:



The specialty restaurants are dotted all around the ship, so it would be necessary to note which places are complimentary and which have a cover charge before wandering in to the wrong one! The Chops Grille is a good one, with a USD$40 charge, or Giovanni's if you would like to dine Italian at USD$25. There are several more casual ethnic restaurants around, which are generally cheaper- a la carte Japanese at Izumi, tapas at Rita's Cantina or Brazilian BBQ at Samba Grill. The epitome of fine dining comes at the Chef's Table, where only 16 people per night can enjoy a 3-4 hour degustation experience with fine wine pairings at USD$95 a head. These will add up if you want to try them all- and this is where the amazing Chef's Dining Package comes in. I was impressed with this- for just USD$120 you can dine at the Chef's Tavle, Chops Grille, Giovanni's, the Samba Grill and Izumi. This is a great deal, and would pay for itself with just the Chef's Table and Giovanni's. Room service is free but incurs a small delivery charge between midnight and 5am.

Chops Grille:

Giovanni's Table:
Chef's Table:
Samba Grill:

Rita's Cantina:
Izumi:


We could only see the public areas of the ship as it was on a port visit and all cabins were occupied, so unfortunately couldn't get in to a cabin. However what struck me about the public areas was the light- a ship can easily become poky and dark, but the huge glass windows in the center of the ship sorted that problem for most areas. Often tucked away in the middle of the ship, the gym had large windows looking over the stern for views as you sweat, and the spa also had natural light in the thermal suite and elsewhere.

Thermal Suite:


Bars and clubs are scattered everywhere- there is the Quill and Compass, an English pub with live sports playing, the Star Quest nightclub with a rotating bar, and many other areas where you can purchase drinks and chill lout before dinner or a show. These are used as venues for quizzes and games during the day, and often have live music in the evenings- There are even self-levelling pool tables so you can enjoy a game even when there's a bit of motion. To help you figure out what's going on there are interactive info screens outside the lifts on all levels. I thought these were great- they have a touch screen and you can get directions, find out what's on at various venues and even get menus for the restaurants.

Quill and Compass:
Star Quest:

On the outside decks you will find the requisite pool, which is quite small as in most cruise ships. If you are over 16, you can use the pool in the Solarium, a great climate-controlled area with a retractable roof. Also outside there is a half basketball court, a rock-climbing wall, 9-hole mini golf, a kids area with pool and waterslide and a jogging track. Also, of course, the many sun loungers!


Solarium:


Entertainment inside the ship is just as extensive. The main theatre is called the Aurora theatre adn shows a variety of things- musicals, circus-type acts, comedy and music. Shows play twice each night to accommodate early and late diners. We could not take photos in the theatre as rehearsals were in progress but it was a good size and looked as though it would be easy to get a seat. There was a bar in the theatre and you can order drinks from your seat.


There is also a small movie theatre with movies playing on board, and these are screened on the in-cabin televisions a few days later. The casino is open when the ship is in international waters, and there are duty-free shops for those who can't wait for port stops to do their shopping. The aforementioned self-levelling pool tables are a very popular option. When we were there, we walked past a pub quiz in progress, which looked like a lot of fun and quite intimate and friendly as most people were off the ship visiting Auckland.

The kid's programmes include all ages up to the teens, who have a well-equipped hangout area with many games- both electronic and not! A new addition from the recent upgrade to the ship is a nursery for "Royal Babies and Tots."


Overall, the Radiance is a great mid-sized ship. I particularly liked the big windows and glass lifts, and the variety of outdoor entertainment available- mini golf and rock-climbing would be right up my alley! The Chef's Dining Package struck me as a great deal for specialty restaurant dining, and I was impressed with the extremely useful 'Cruise Compass' information touch screens. For antipodean customers, be aware that everything is priced in USD- but the upside of the US-focused ships is the extravagance. Royal Caribbean ships are a lot fancier and usually larger than the more modest tastes of the south pacific, making them a treat to travel on.




Author: Ryan Posa+

2 comments:

John Liverpool said...

A fantastic ship. Highly recommenced.

Cruise Deals said...

Agreed!

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