I booked this cruise in May of 2001 in a category M guarantee. I was assigned cabin # 1005, a category M, on the top passenger deck. It was a good location, other than being almost all the way forward. It was 1 cabin from the bridge.
I took this cruise with my mom who had never cruised before. This was my 3rd Royal Caribbean Cruise and 4th over all (the other being Celebrity Infinity in March 2001 to Hawaii). The Radiance and the Infinity are built on the same hull design, but are quite different in the public areas. The Infinity is quite elegant with bizarre artwork. The Radiance has more of a "wow" factor, more color, and I found the art more tasteful and more pleasant. The Infinity, however, wins hands down for more pools and more hot tubs! The Radiance has only 1 hot tub in the Solarium and 2 outside, whereas Infinity has 2 and 4, respectively. If I were going to Alaska, I would take that into account.
Now for the cruise itself!
We arrived at the Port of Seattle a little after 11 am on Monday the 8th of October. We had dropped our Hertz rental car at their downtown location and they gave us a $5.00 credit to cab it to the pier. We rented the car at the airport on Saturday and spent 2 days visiting friends and relatives. No charge to drop downtown?good deal! We gave our big suitcases to a porter at the door and then proceeded to get in line.
Security was definitely extra tight. I have never had to show my I.D. so many times to get on a ship! The lines were not too long and we checked in, got our super-charge blue cards activated, and we went to wait by the door. Good news! Only 1 card to carry! Your super-charge is also your room key. This was not the case on my previous RCI cruises. They made an announcement that we could board, but not to go to our rooms until 1 pm. Lunch would commence at Noon, so we had some to look around before eating. The ship is definitely stunning. We went up to deck 11 and viewed the Seattle skyline. It had been raining in the morning, but it was starting to clear up and blue sky was peeking through the clouds!
At noon, we went to the Windjammer for the welcome aboard buffet. It was very good! I have only made it to 1 welcome aboard buffet before (on the Enchantment) and this was ten times better than that one was. They had carved roast beef, mashed potatoes & gravy, wrap sandwiches, pasta, salad, salmon, veal stew, fruit, etc. But the desserts were AMAZING! They had pastry tarts filled with cheesecake and fruit on top (peaches, kiwi, blackberries, raspberries, etc.) that were very good. They also had several other selections, including a very rich chocolate cake brownie. Royal Caribbean's desserts are much better than Celebrity's in my opinion.
by the time we were finished eating it was 1 pm so we went to check out our cabin. It was much bigger than previous inside cabins I have had (Category M on the Rhapsody and Category K on the Enchantment). There was room for a loveseat and the table was nice and small so it didn't get in the way. Our beds were pushed together, so we talked to our cabin steward about making them into twins. I guess he didn't understand, because they were still together after dinner. So we just pushed them apart ourselves, and put the night stands in the middle. Our luggage arrived in the afternoon sometime and my mom and I took turns unpacking and we found enough space for all of our stuff.
For sail-away, I had made plans to meet with Carol and Terry from B.C. and their friends Dan and Denise poolside. Carol and I had been e-mailing each other before the cruise, and she was nice to send me brochures of things to do in Victoria because she lives 30 minutes from there. My mom and I ordered a drink from the Solarium bar and off we went! It was a little chilly, but we managed to stay out there awhile. We all went up to deck 12 to get a better view.
We went back to our cabin to freshen up for dinner and there was a note on the door that our table was changed to 407, a large table by the window.
We went to the dining room and a waiter brought us to our table. We were the first to arrive so we took a window seat. The Cascades Dining Room is very nice, but not as stunning as the Infinity with her windows spanning both levels in the back.
Our other dining companions were Leslie and Marshall from Dayton, TN; JP and Cindy from Vancouver, BC; and Mike and Kathy from Vancouver. Mike and Kathy only ate with us once as they ate in Chops the first night, dined with the Captain the second night, and in Portofino on the last night.
Mike was the manager/director of the Port of Vancouver/Canada Place so he knew Captain Kent. Mike had toured the Radiance early in the season and said he told his wife they had to take a cruise on this ship! He was very impressed.
Dinner that night was an Italian theme. I had Prosciutto and Melon, Strawberry Bisque Soup, Turkey Picatta, and Tiramisu and Pistachio ice cream for dessert. My mom had the Sirloin Steak. The wait staff sang for us that night. Our waitress was Branka from Slovakia. Our server was Illi (sp?) but I can't recall where he was from. He was very quiet. Branka was an excellent waitress. She has previously worked on the Majesty and the Voyager.
That evening after dinner was the welcome aboard show. There was only one show that night at 8 pm. There were plenty of seats. Gordon Whatman, the cruise director did a little introduction and sang with the orchestra. He is very good, probably the most memorable cruise director I have had and this was the shortest cruise I have taken. Then the entertainment was the juggling comedy of Chuck Gunter. It was entertaining.
Later that evening I went to the Hollywood Odyssey to watch Karaoke (I don't sing), and then I hung out in the Starquest Disco (a.k.a. the Viking Crown Lounge) but it was pretty dead that night.
Day 2, Vancouver, BC
The night before I placed an order for some room service breakfast to be delivered, to tied us over until we could get to the Windjammer for breakfast ;) We received 2 plates of fruit, 2 plates of pastries (about 6 on each plate!), coffee, juice, and a plate of bacon (I love their bacon!) We nibbled while we each got ready for our day. We put some pastries in some Ziplocs to bring ashore. After meeting my mom in the Windjammer, we left the ship to look for the bus stop. We planned to do the Horse drawn tours of Stanley Park http://www.stanleypark.com . They had a 9:20 am scheduled pick-up by Canada place. We boarded the free bus and the driver took us to Stanley Park. We then bought tickets for the tour and got on the "trolley". It was quite nippy, but they provided blankets to sit on and place over your lap. The tour lasted 1 hour. We saw the sights and it was better than walking!
After the tour, the shuttle bus was about to leave, so we hopped on and were taken to Downtown Vancouver. We got off at the Art Museum and we walked Robson St. and shopped all afternoon. The bargains were great with the strong US dollar. Before returning to the ship, I decided I wanted to do the "Lookout!" at the Harbour Centre Tower to get a good view of the ship http://vancouverlookout.com . It was about $6.00 US to go up there but it was worth it. My mom did not join me because the Space Needle was enough for her (we did that before the cruise and she is afraid of heights!)
We returned to the ship and grabbed a bite in the Windjammer (nachos, hot dogs, sandwiches, fruit, salad, ice cream, cookies, etc. are served in the Windjammer from 3-5 pm) before we got ready for the Formal Night and the captain's cocktail party. I got a call from Carol to meet in the Champagne Bar beforehand, but we didn't get there in time. But we did manage to meet up with them in the Colony Club for the Cocktail Party. Captain Kent performed his infamous song and we were all impressed. At the cocktail party we met another couple Lois and Fred (who lived in Minnesota at one time). They have been married 50 years and they were quite a hoot, especially Lois!
For dinner we enjoyed our filet mignon! It was the best one I have had on a cruise yet! We enjoyed watching the scenery as the ship left Vancouver at 6 pm. A police boat escorted us the whole way.
The show that evening was "Welcome to Our World" by the Royal Caribbean Singers and Dancers. It was your typical cruise show, but well done. After the show, we went to watch karaoke and then I went to the 70's party in the Disco. It was fun. We all learned the John Travolta Dance and then did the Love Train. I managed to get myself in the Cruise Review Video a couple of times!
Day 3, Victoria, BC
We did not make any definite plans for the day, waiting to see what the weather would be like. Well, it was raining. And it rained most of the day. We paid the $5.00 for shuttle service from the pier to DT Victoria. We walked around downtown and did a little shopping. Then we decided to buy tickets to go to the Butchart Gardens http://www.butchartgardens.com/index2.cfm, despite the weather. We bought the tickets right where we were dropped off in the morning. At Noon we boarded a Double Decker British-style bus (http://www.grayline.ca/victoria/Butchart.shtml) and were driven to the gardens, about 30 minutes away. Our driver was a retired Victoria police officer and he gave us a good narrated tour and made the obligatory corny jokes. We had about 2 hours to explore the Gardens. Even in the rain, they were gorgeous. We had just enough time to buy some souvenirs in the gift shop and something warm to drink, and we got back on the bus to head back to Victoria. We paid about $26 US to do this and the ship charged close to $50.
Back in town, we walked to a few more shops, including Roger's Chocolates, and made some last Canadian purchases. My mom and I both managed to spend all of our Canadian money that we brought with us so we didn't have to change any back. The line for the shuttle back to the ship was growing quite long when a deluxe motor coach arrived to take us back to the pier at about 4 o'clock. We returned and had a small snack in the Windjammer again before dinner. Unfortunately, I wasn't very hungry at dinner, but I managed some how! I had the Chicken Kiev with rice and vegetables. It was quite tasty. The food was, in general, very good. It was no worse than the food I had on the Infinity and I felt we had more choices on the Radiance. Also, Alaskan Salmon was offered each night as an alternative entree, as was chicken or steak. The appetizers combined appetizers and soups (I recall these were under separate headings before) but that didn't stop me from ordering 2. Maybe that was the intent, as the first time cruisers at our table only ordered one thing at first. Half way through the cruise they realized they could order as many as they wanted, and more than one entree as well.
The show that evening was the comedy of Greg Otto. He was funny at first, and then it got too long. He was doing magic tricks at the end, which were kind of boring. After the show we went to the Colony Club to take part in Radiance Quest. In all my cruises I have never seen this so I wanted to check it out. My mom and I teamed up with the couple sitting next to us and another solo woman. Needless to say, we had a blast! I won't mention what I ended up doing to get us a point! ;) But I managed to get in the video once again!
After Radiance Quest we trekked up to the Hollywood Odyssey to watch the karaoke again. It is quite entertaining at times, but the talent this evening was lacking!
Day 4, At Sea
Our day was bright and sunny, but was quite chilly in the morning as we sailed north. By afternoon, the winds died down and it was quite pleasant. My mom got in the outdoor hot tub when it was 44 degrees outside! I opted for the Solarium pool and swam around in there for a while. The hot tubs never managed to empty, so I opted for the shower instead, which was wonderfully warm! I lounged in the Solarium for a bit longer before returning to our cabin to get ready for lunch in Portofino. Lunch was a $10.00 cover charge and included a glass of champagne or a mimosa. This was probably the highlight of our cruise dining! It was definitely worth the $10 and dinner would be worth the $20. We were first served bread and butter. Then we received a plate of bruchetta with olive oil for dipping. Then I had an antipasto platter to die for! It was so delicious. Next was the soup. I had the minestrone (excellent); my mom had the cheese tortellini. Next, we each had the Caesar salad. Our pasta entree was next: I had penne pasta with spinach and mushrooms in a light broth, sauteed with peanuts. It was very good. My mom had the lasagna, which was incredible! It was so big and just stuffed with sausage and cheese and sauce. Then, if you can believe it, we had our entree: New York Strip for me, and my mom had an omelet with shrimp. We were too stuffed for much dessert, but we managed to eat a couple chocolate-dipped strawberries! There were many activities scheduled all afternoon. My mom and I attended the art auction to see what that was like. My cousin was hired this year as an art auctioneer for Park West (she's been on a Carnival ship and the Wind Spirit in Europe), so we were curious. We didn't buy anything but it was fun.
Dinner this evening was everyone's favorite- prime rib. I think everyone at our table ordered it and it was excellent! We thanked Branka for her excellent service all week and wished her well. Then she rolled us out of the Dining Room!
The show this evening was called "Rockin' In Paradise" with the RC Singers and Dancers. It was a fun show with a lot of familiar songs. After the show I ended up going back to the cabin to pack and then I went to bed early because I was getting a cold! I ordered some Herbal Tea from Room Service to help sooth my throat. It arrived promptly.
All in all this was an enjoyable cruise, but way too short! This ship is amazing so I wish we were on it for longer than 4 days. I have not sailed on a Voyager class ship yet, but this one definitely impressed me. My mom loved it too and she has already booked another RCI cruise for this winter on the Enchantment. This time she's "letting" Dad come along!
You may view pictures from this cruise at: http://www.cruise-addicts.com/picturepost/index.php and look for "Radiance 10/8/01" in the list.