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Radiance Of The Seas, A Royal Caribbean Ship Review

Radiance of the Seas cruising in Tracy Arm Fjord, Alaska

Owned by Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines, the Radiance of the Seas is a Radiance class ship built in 2001. At construction time, the Radiance class ships had the largest expanse of glass, giving their ships an airy feel. The Radiance has a passenger capacity of about 2,500 guests.

During the summer, the Radiance sails to Alaska, offering one-way itineraries from and to Vancouver. It offers Western Caribbean cruises from New Orleans in the winter, as well as itineraries from Tampa and Galveston.

Royal Caribbean International refurnished the Radiance in 2016, updating the pool area, spa, and cruise ship staterooms. Over the next few years, it will undergo a few more updates, changing some of the ship‘s staterooms.

Today, its mid-sized charm and light-filled interior entice passengers to enjoy its tasty food and international itineraries.

I had the opportunity to sail the Radiance on a repositioning cruise from Hawaii to Vancouver. While I had cruised a 12-day itinerary from Vancouver to Oahu once before, this shorter version was just nine days.

I enjoyed the Radiance class so much that I later took a 7-day cruise on her sister ship, the Serenade of the Seas. Here is my review of the Serenade of the Seas.

I’ve always been a big fan of mid-sized ships because they have a more intimate feel, and I don’t spend time walking lengthy decks. Another big reason for selecting this ship was I scored a fantastic cruise deal in a balcony cabin for under USD 600. So, this is my review of my Radiance of the Seas cruise.

Radiance Of The Seas, First Impression

When I boarded the ship in Honolulu, Oahu, its design and ability to navigate the vessel impressed me. Walls of glass allow the light to fill areas of the ship that would otherwise be dark. Its eclectic artwork fills nooks and crannies and adds a touch of style.

One of the best features is its panoramic glass elevators next to the Centrum, the ship’s lobby. Traditionally, cruise lines build their central elevators in the middle. However, these elevators face outwards on the port side and are surrounded by a curved wall of glass.

Radiance of the Seas lobby or Centrum
The Centrum or lobby

The ingenious design allows the outside views to flood the ship. It made me want to ride the elevators all day long. Next to the elevators, the large ship layout displays made finding my way around a breeze.

 On embarkation day, I consistently tour the ship to get my bearings and discover the ship‘s unique features.

Outdoor Spaces

Being a smaller ship, the Radiance of the Seas lacks the star attractions found on the Oasis-class ships. However, with fewer people, the spaces seemed less crowded.

Still, I found plenty of things to occupy me on the five sea days back to Vancouver. The outdoor amenities include a basketball court, mini-golf, running track, and climbing wall.

Climbing wall and Ocean Adventure on the Radiance of the Seas cruise ship
Climbing wall and Ocean Adventure

It has three swimming pools; two outside and one undercover. Of the two outdoor swimming pools, one is for families and the other at Adventure Beach for the little ones. There are three whirlpools, two adjacent to the outer pool and one inside.

The Sky Bar overlooks the pool on deck twelve, with the Pool Bar on the next deck down. Also, the poolside big screen TV is a great place to watch a movie or cheer on your favorite sports team. There were plenty of loungers around the outdoor pool, and I never felt overcrowded at any time.

There were many days during my cruise when the climbing wall was closed. The staff informed me the climbing wall would not open if there were any breezes.

If you want to walk and avoid the sun, the promenade deck has a full-circle deck. With a comfy pair of walking shoes, it’s a great way to burn those extra calories while being shielded from the mid-day rays.

Radiance of the Seas pool
Radiance of the Seas pool

Radiance Of The Seas Cabins

The Radiance of the Seas has three studio staterooms classed as 2W on deck four. While there are only three cabins, they allow solo cruisers to sail without paying a pesky supplement. There’s a growing need for solo cabins, so, should you require one, it’s best to book when the itineraries are released.

I booked an ocean view balcony room that measured 179 square feet and had a 41 square foot private balcony. While the décor was dated, the balcony stateroom had everything I needed for nine days. When booking a cabin on the Radiance of the Seas, review the deck plan, and choose a stateroom with cabins above and below.

Five suite class cabins range in size from 299 square feet to almost 1,000 square feet. The 532-square-foot Owner’s Suite features two bedrooms and can accommodate up to eight guests. Guests can also choose a Royal, Junior, and Grand suite. There are also 15 accessible staterooms.

The largest stateroom, the Royal Suite, comes complete with a baby grand piano. It measures 952 square feet with an attached 283 square foot balcony. Palatial in most eyes, it’s bigger than some people’s apartments.

Some staterooms (not mine) had plumbing problems with the toilets no longer working during the cruise. This was also evident around the ship as public washrooms became out of service.

As the days ticked by, more and more restrooms closed, causing passengers to walk long distances to find a functional bathroom. The cruise line compensated some passengers with a small onboard credit, although this mishap is not how you want to earn free onboard credit.

Radiance Of The Seas Indoor Amenities

Solarium African-inspired décor
Solarium African-inspired décor

The indoor Solarium, an adult-only pool, is a nice addition to the cruise ship. Since the Radiance sails to Alaska in the summer months, guests will enjoy this area on cooler days.

While I didn’t use the Solarium while cruising around Hawaii, I enjoyed it on the cooler days crossing the Pacific Ocean. Even on those cool days, the Solarium was rarely used by passengers, so I found it a great place to read a book on a lounge bed.

The ship’s Atrium, the Centrum, hosted events throughout the day, and its many floors with seating provided a way to view the action. The Radiance of the Seas has all the usual; duty-free shops, conference center, art gallery, Royale Casino, small cinema, and Aurora Theatre.

I watched all the evening shows in the theatre, and they were all first-class. While I tried to watch a movie in the cinema, with limited capacity, it was always full, even when I arrived 45 minutes before the film’s start.

Radiance of the Seas Solarium

For those who have purchased the drink package, there are plenty of options to grab a cocktail. Singapore Sling’s lounge offers impressive views, Jarkarta Lounge has a more intimate atmosphere, and the Schooner Bar has a nautical theme.

The Colony Club has a large dance floor for those that like to party, while the English Pub offers the alternative. You can’t go wrong with the Champagne Bar or Lobby bar for those who prefer the classic locations.

On deck 13, the Viking Crown Lounge offers great views at the bow of the vessel. If you’re cruising to Alaska, it makes an ideal space to hang out if the weather isn’t favorable.

Passengers can find the gym and spa on decks eleven and twelve. The fitness center has all the standard gym equipment in a location with fantastic sea views. At the entrance to the spa, stunning wooden African-inspired wall panels adorn the walls.

On my journey home, I purchased a spa treatment, the hot stone massage. It was the most fantastic experience and the best massage I’ve had in my life (and I tried many on land).

On deck 12, the Adventure Ocean provides activities for children. Outside, Adventure Beach has a kids’ pool and splash zone.

Radiance Of The Seas Restaurants

Radiance passengers have four complimentary dining options. These include the Cascades two-story main dining room, Windjammer Café, Park Café, and Boardwalk Doghouse.

Royal Caribbean’s Radiance of the Seas

The Windjammer buffet opens for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The Park Café provides made-to-order paninis, sandwiches, and salads perfect for lunch by the pool. The food truck-style Dog House serves gourmet-style hot dogs.

I ate most of my meals in the Cascades Dining Room because I have food allergies. While it’s sometimes tricky to cruise with food challenges, Royal Caribbean did an excellent job catering to my allergies at sea.

Alternatively, continental breakfast in your room is free of charge, and passengers can get complimentary pastries and treats from the Café Latte-tudes. If you prefer a hot breakfast, room service now incurs a fee of USD 7.95.

Should you want to enjoy a specialty restaurant, the Radiance of the Seas has four choices. Giovanni’s Table serves Tuscany-inspired food, Chops Grilles specializes in steak and seafood, Izuma offers Japanese choices, and Samba Grill is a Brazilian Steakhouse.

I tried both Giovanni’s Table and Samba Grill on sea days. Both were amazing and accommodated my need for gluten-free and lactose-free without sacrificing taste.

Alternatively, diners can indulge in a five-course intimate experience at Chef’s Table. This formal dining experience takes the diner on a culinary journey hosted by an Executive Chef and Sommelier. Chef’s Table sells out quickly, so reserve your spot with fellow foodies before your cruise.

For the sweet tooth, check out Ben & Jenny’s for tasty sundaes, smoothies, and flavorful treats. Those that need a caffeine fix can get their morning brew at Café Latte-tudes for an additional fee.

Samba Grill

For meat lovers, Samba Grill offers all the meat you can eat with salads, appetizers, and desserts. Be warned, bring a healthy appetite to enjoy the delicious meats served at your table by Gauchos (servers).

Located on deck twelve on the Radiance of the Seas, the oceanside restaurant offers diners the opportunity to watch the sunset.

Since I suffer from food allergies, a head chef walked me through the buffet, letting me know what I could eat. If something I wanted contained my allergens, I could request a serving made that I could eat.

While the restaurant has a vast selection of side dishes, be careful not to take too much from the buffet. Samba Grill specializes in slow-roasted meats, and I wanted to try them all. On my table, a center signal lets my waiter know when I want more (green) or to stop (red).

The selection of meat included several cuts of beef sirloin, beef tenderloin, lamb chops, chicken wrapped in bacon, pork chops, ribs, and sausages.

I doubled the portion of lamb chops because they’re my favorite and passed on the links and pork chops due to my gluten and lactose allergies.

I finished my meal with fresh, grilled pineapple that melted in my mouth. At USD 30.00 per person, I considered it a bargain and would go again.

Giovanni’s Table

Since I’m intolerant to gluten and lactose, I tend to avoid Italian restaurants due to meals with pasta and cream sauces. However, the staff informed me the kitchen could cater to my allergies if given 24 hours notice. So, I made a reservation and chose my meal the day before.

Royal Caribbean's Radiance of the Seas lido deck

To my delight, the meal was heavenly and so flavourful. I chose the Pancetta Di Maiale, consisting of a slow-roasted pork belly with arugula and basil salad, and orange confit. My pasta choice was penne, with baby shrimp and smoked salmon in a brandy sauce.

For my entrée, I couldn’t resist the grilled lamb chops with caponata and spinach in a Merlot reduction. I finished my dinner with a simple fruit plate.

Dining with food allergies can be hit or miss. Sometimes restaurants remove sauces to eliminate gluten and lactose, leaving the meal flavorless.

Giovanni’s Table exceeded my expectations by providing courses that packed flavor without graininess. At USD 25.00 per person, it was a bargain for great food and fantastic service.

Final Thoughts

The Radiance of the Seas cruises to Alaska from Vancouver from May until September, then positions to the Caribbean for the other half of the year. The Solarium oasis makes the Radiance of the Seas an ideal ship for Alaska itineraries because the indoor space provides a retreat regardless of the weather outside.

Even though there were some plumbing problems, I wouldn’t hesitate to sail on the Radiance of the Seas again. With its upcoming refurbishments, I’m sure it will feel like a new ship.

Happy travels ~ Karen