Ahoy Mates :-)
Here is my review of our 12 day cruise on the beautiful Radiance of the Seas from Vancouver to Hawaii. This was our 18th cruise but our first with Royal Caribbean. The Radiance definitely exceeded our expectations - Big Time! She truly is a beautiful and elegant floating masterpiece of a cruise ship in every imaginable way. There is nothing which can compare with the pleasure of cruising on a new luxury liner.
EMBARKATION Mary and I arrived at LAX at about 6:30 AM to be processed through security for our 9:20 AM flight on Alaska Airlines to Vancouver. Since our RCI tags were attached to our luggage, RCI reps picked it up at the airport and transported it to the Radiance.
We boarded the motor coach for the 30 minute ride to the pier. There were long lines of passengers waiting to be checked through security prior to advancing to the check in counter. However, since our luggage had been security checked at the airport of origin and controlled by RCI from the airport to the pier, we bypassed the securityprocess and went directly to the check in counter. Within a few minutes, we had finished the processing procedure and were on board the elegant Radiance.
CRUISE ADDICTS MEETING Several years ago, I learned a formula for enriching one's life as well as the lives of others. It is known as ‘Consider the Utility of the Act vs. the Magnitude of the consequences'. So, if the utility only takes a few minutes and the consequences result in someone else receiving pleasure and enjoyment, then it was a wise investment of your time.
I had posted our cruise date and itinerary on the Cruise Addicts Cruise Exchange Board and, as time grew shorter, I received several responses. I offered to put together a list of Cruise Addicts if each person would send me a brief bio. Well, we wound up with a great group of 29 happy adult cruisers and 3 children who met in the Windjammer Cafe on Deck 11 in the afternoon of the 2nd day of our cruise. Since we had exchanged e-mail several times before our meeting, we felt like old friends when we finally met. The next afternoon, we met in the Champagne Bar on Deck 6 which was a more intimate place to meet. These meetings were an overwhelming success which enhanced everyone's enjoyment of our cruise.
We had two group pictures taken by the ship's photographers which made memorable souvenirs for everyone. Near the end of our cruise, Christine and Richard graciously provided light snacks for a cocktail party in the Starquest Disco Bar in the Viking Crown Lounge which was our last group meeting and another one with many fond memories.
Our Cruise Addicts included: VONNIE@Sonic.net, Vonnie and Rick from Santa Rosa, California; CCURATOLO@imf.org, Christine and Richard from Washington D. C.; JVMOTLEY@gte.net, Virginia from Lancaster, California; JC.METZELTHIN@harrycooper.com, JC and Krystal from Springfield, Missouri; HISCHILD@cwnet.com, Cheri and Lloyd and their granddaughter, Malissa, from Red bluff, California; MT10@worldnet.att.net, Tracy and Mike and their two children, John (9) and Lexy (6) from Rock Island, Illinois: SLAWHON@earthlink.net, Shelby and Susan from Springfield, Missouri; GRETCHEN.MONTERO@rskco.com, Gretchen and Dudley from Lafayette, Louisiana; Kn6io@aol.com, Jack and Carol from Windsor, California; XARNEST@tco.net, Randy and Denise from Red Bluff, California; PTOMASZEWSKI@sequoianet.com, Pam and Larry from Michigan; SMINTY@rochester.rr.com, Steve and Barb from Rochester, New York; Lancaster.Ru@rittal.ca, Ruth and Tom from Mississauga, Canada; GEOFFFRANKLIN@aol.com, Judith and Geoff from London, England; BETHE.TRUEB@gmx.ch, Benthe and her friend Ann from Zurich, Switzerland.
OUR CABIN Our cabin was a Category E1, Superior Ocean View with a balcony, on Deck 8, which had beige walls and walnut wood for the vanity and chairs. Upon entering, the large closet was on the left, with ample storage space and removable hangers. The bathroom was on the right and it had a triple mirror with a medicine cabinet and a shelf below the counter for additional storage. The shower was circular and ‘cozy' is the word which comes to mind. Since we didn't spend much time in the shower, it was adequate. However, those with large bodied might wish to use the recommended RCI shower procedure - ‘soap the walls -- then, step in and spin around'. Our luggage was stored under the bed. The vanity had a large mirror, 6 small drawers and a hair dryer. There was a cabinet with a large safe over the Interactive TV and a mini refrigerator beneath the TV. There was a small sofa for two (facing the vanity and TV) between the bathroom and the queen sized bed after which was the doorway; to the balcony. The cabin arrangement was very convenient and one which made us feel most comfortable. Our cabin attendant was Maria, who was from; Colombia. She provided excellent service and did so in a friendly manner. We asked Maria to remove the beverages for sale from the frig so we could use it for other purposes and she gladly complied. She always managed a cheerful greeting any time she saw us in the hallway. When she turned down our bed each evening, she arranged our towels into such clever animal arrangements. A nice touch to end an exciting day.
THE SHIP - FACTS AND FIGURES Captain Kent Ringborn was dispatched to Germany for two year to oversee the construction of the Radiance. He did an outstanding job for it is an impressive ship in every minute detail.
The Radiance was built at Meyer-Werft Yard, Papenburg, Germany. 90,090 Gross Tonnage - 962 feet long - 106 feet beam - 28 feet draft - 24 knots cruising speed. It is environmentally friendly and powered by two smokeless Gas Turbine Engines and one steam turbine which generate 77,000 horse power. 2,150 guest capacity (double occupancy) and 2,500 maximum guest capacity. The maiden voyage was on April 7, 2001. Disembarkation to the pier or the tenders was from Deck 2 rather than Deck 4 on most other ships which we have sailed. This eliminated the need for an elevated stairway for the gangway which was a problem for those confined to wheelchairs.
DECK 13 The Viking Crown Lounge, the climbing wall and the putting green.
DECK 12 The shipshape Fitness center, jogging track, game arcade, art studio, voyagers and explorers areas for children, teen pool, sports court, golf simulator and Seaview Cafe.
DECK 11 Shipshape Spa, Solarium pool and whirlpool and the Windjammer Cafe. DECKS 10, 9. 8 AND 7 Passengers' cabins.
DECK 6 Aurora Theatre Balcony, Video Arcade, Casino, Schooner Bar, Chops Grill, The Colony Club, Portofino Restaurant, Bombay Billiard Club, Calcutta Card Club, Jakarta Lounge and Singapore Sling's Bar.
DECK 5 Aurora Theatre Balcony, Photo Shop, Art Gallery, shops, Royal Caribbean Online and the Cascades Dining Room, Upper Level.
DECK 4 Aurora Theatre, Conference Room, Guest Relations Desk, Explorers Tour Office, Breakers Bar, Tides Bar and the Cascades Dining Room.
DECKS 3 and 2 Passengers' cabins.
THE ATRIUM Words alone could not describe the magnificent atrium which was open from Deck 4 up to Deck 12. The view from the mini balcony on each deck was spectacular for you could view the vast openness of the atrium and appreciate the detail planning which went into its breathtaking design. The floors were covered with beautiful marble and hardwood in the main lobby area of Deck 4. There was a curving stairway from Deck 5 down to Deck 4 which was under lighted with green lights in the evenings. The chairs were upholstered in medium blue with walnut arms and trim. There was a small stage for musicians who played for us at various times during the days and evenings. There were two glass elevators with a stunning view of the atrium and four others which provided an ocean view for your ascents and descents to your choice of activities.
CASCADES DINING ROOM The dining room was situated on decks 4 and 5 with two staircases from the upper level curving around a lovely waterfall ‘cascading' into a small pool on the lower level. The chairs were upholstered in medium blue with walnut arms and trim, the carpeting was dark blue and gold and the table cloth and napkins were subdued yellow to harmonize with the gold in the carpet. An impressive dining room, to say the least.
We were seated at a table for ten and our dining companions were Jim and Shirley, from Oologah, Oklahoma, (birthplace of Will Rogers), Joe and Joyce, from Lajal, Quebec, Canada, Harold and Em from New Westminister, B. C., Canada, and Orlando and Pearl, from Penticton, B. C., Canada. We all exchanged interesting stories (OK, some weren't so good) during our cruise. We were a very compatible group. We were fortunate to have two exceptional servers who provided us with excellent service to enhance our dining experience. Our waiter, Ovidio, was from Rumania and our assistant waiter, Sunjah, was from India and both always had a cheerful smile and a friendly greeting when we arrived for our evening meal.
Breakfast and lunch in the dining room were open seating. The menu included a variety of seafood, chicken, lamb and beef dishes and all of our choices were well prepared and of very high quality. The filet mignon and lobster tail were as good as any that I've ever had. Needless to say that the deserts were sinfully delicious. Chocolate lovers thought that they had found heaven on a cruise ship.
WINDJAMMER CAFÉ The Windjammer cafe was located on Deck 11 and rather than having long, continuos serving counters, the serving stations were on separate islands. There was one for hot entrees, and others for fresh fruits, bred and rolls, an egg station and one for deserts. The food quality was very good and we had breakfast and lunch in this cafe daily.
ENTERTAINMENT Gordon Whatman, from merry ole England, was one of the best Cruise Directors we have had the pleasure of cruising with on any of our cruises. He was never at a loss for words and most of his comments were clever and witty. He kept his audience laughing during the cruise. The Royal Caribbean Singers and Dancers put on two production shows, "Welcome To Our World" on day two and "Rockin' In Paradise" on day ten. Both were presented in a professional and entertaining manner. Gordon later told us that each show is cast in Miami and rehearsed for three weeks before being assigned to a cruise ship. Their contracts run for six months. Other entertainers included Burt Leigh, a comedian, Comedian Marty Allen and Kate Blackwell, a singer and his wife. Jan Downs, a singer and impressionist. Lenny Welch, a great singer, one of our favorite performers on this cruise. Terri Bryant, a former 5th Dimension singer, who had a terrible attitude and insulted the audience to the point that several got up and left the Theatre in the middle of her sarcastic remarks about low level of our applause. Wild and Hanes, billed as dangerous comedians, and they were a riot and extremely funny. Martin Lass, an international violinist. The Diamonds, who sang the favorite songs of the 1950s and 1960s. The final show included the comedy of Milt Abel, who talked so fast that it was hard to follow his stories. Gordon Whatman closed with a song and had a remarkably good singing voice. I need to mention that Captain Kent Ringborn, who was born and raised in Sweden, had a great baritone singing voice and sang for us at the Captain's Welcome Cocktail Party.
PORTS O' CALL After six days at sea, we called at our first port which was Hilo, Hawaii, the largest of the Hawaiian Islands at 4,038 square miles. It is known as The Big Island, and is the youngest of the island chain. Tours were available to Volcano National Park, the Parker Ranch near Kamuela with 480,000 acres of land, and a city tour. We went shopping to help improve the islands' depressed economy. Day eight was Maui, the Valley Island, and we were there for two days and had to tender in to this island. We took the tour to the Haleakala Volcano National Park, at 10,023 feet, which is dormant, and to the Iao Valley State Park which is in the crater of another dormant volcano. The weather was good and the cloud cover stayed below 8,000 feet so we were able to take several pictures of the magnificent scenery on this lovely island. Day ten was Nawiliwili, Kauai, the Garden Island, and fourth largest and the oldest island. We took the boa tour up the Wailua River to the Fern Grotto, where hundreds of weddings are performed every year, mostly for Japanese tourist. Another tour which we had taken in a past visit was of the Waimea Canyon, known as the ‘Grand Canyon of the Pacific', which is 200 million younger than its Arizona cousin. The colorful river cut gorge is 2,758 feet deep. Also, many movies have been filmed on this island including Elvis Presley's ‘Blue Hawaii', all three Jurassic Park pictures and several others. Day eleven was Kona, on the Big Island, known for the famous Kona coffee. We went shopping and did some sight seeing. Day twelve was Honolulu, Oahu, which is the capital of Hawaii. After shopping at the International Market in the morning, we met with Carole and Gerry who have lived on Oahu for several years. We had become acquainted via e-mail with Carole and had looked forward to this meeting for several months. It was a delightful afternoon spent chatting about our children, pets and life in general. The time went by far too quickly and it was time to say good-bye. It was a joyful ending ashore to our wonderful cruise.
DISEMBARKATION The night before disembarkation, Gordon Whatman told us of a significant change to the usual procedure for leaving the ship the next morning. Instead of gathering our carry on luggage and waiting in one of the public areas, Gordon invited us to join him in the Aurora Theatre for a little entertainment. He would have two chairs on stage and invite members of the audience up to ask questions and chat with him. This was a terrific way to spend the last few minutes on board the Radiance and enjoy Gordon's humor and have a few good laughs. We were off the ship before 9 AM and on busses to the airport to catch our flight home. Our flight wasn't until 12:55 PM and it was a good thing with the increased time spent going through the security process. We had our checked luggage x-rayed before going to the check in counter and for some unexplained reason, they were screened again afterward. This meant that all of us from the Radiance had to stand in yet another line. Before we were able to board the airplane, we had random checks of our carry on bags. We were among the lucky ones who had our checked thoroughly. As a consequence, our flight departed about 15 minutes late. I think that everyone felt that it was justified and believed that the flight was more secure. After arriving at LAX on time, we claimed our luggage and took the shuttle to the parking lot and drove home.
CONCLUSION We thought that the staff on board the Radiance was the warmest and most friendly of any ship on which we have cruised. During the cruise, many other passengers indicated that they felt exactly the same way. Naturally, your last cruise is always the best one and that definitely was true this time. Because of all of our cyber friends we met on board and in Hawaii, it was one of our more memorable cruises. In the future, we will have the Radiance and her sister ship, the Brilliance of the Seas to choose for our cruises.
Life is good.