If you want the busy, active Royal Caribbean experience but prefer a classic-style ship over the city-at-sea Oasis-, Freedom-, and Voyager-class experience, the 90,090-ton, 2,100-guest Radiance of the Seas or one of her three twin sisters might be the vessels for you. Launched one per year between 2001 and 2004, they’re Royal Caribbean’s most elegantly traditional ships, with classic nautical lines and handsome, nearly traditional interiors.
In May and June of 2011, Radiance of the seas underwent an extensive refurbishment at the Victoria Shipyards in Victoria, British Columbia that saw numerous new features and amenities added to this already-popular vessel.
One of the most noticeable things about these ships’ design is the amount of glass used in their public rooms, which helps bring the outside in when sailing scenic destinations like Alaska and the Norwegian Fjords. The ship’s atrium, for instance, has a five-story wall of glass on the port side, and rooms like the Viking Crown Lounge, Singapore Sling’s piano bar, the Sky Bar, Champagne Bar, and Windjammer Café all offer huge views.
In the stern on Deck 6, a cluster of five intimate, interconnected lounges is one of the most classically designed spaces Royal Caribbean has ever created, giving a real old-world vibe with their Oriental-style rugs, parquet flooring, and woody wall paneling. The romantic Singapore Sling’s piano bar stretches across nearly the entire stern, offering views through floor-to-ceiling windows. Next door, the colonial-style Billiard Club offers some of the only pool tables at sea, kept level through gyroscopes that counteract the ship’s motion.
Other public rooms include the lovely main theater; the large Casino Royale; a sports bar with interactive bartop games; the nautically themed Schooner Bar; a specialty-coffee bar; and the Viking Crown Lounge, perched way up on Deck 13 and offering both quiet lounging space and a disco with a rotating bar.
For kids, the Adventure Ocean center on Deck 12 includes a large, multi-area playroom, a video arcade, an outdoor pool with water slide, a separate teen disco, and a nursery for babies and tots 6 through 36 months, offering playgroups and activities developed in partnerships with Fisher Price and Crayola.
Outdoors, Radiance offers a large and often busy main pool area; a covered, Asian-themed, adults-only Solarium; and a Sports Deck featuring a rock-climbing wall attached to the ship’s funnel, a basketball and volleyball court, a 9-hole miniature-golf course, a golf simulator, and a jogging track. The spa and fitness center, a two-story space on Decks 11 and 12, offers a huge aerobics floor, dozens of exercise machines, more than a dozen individual treatment rooms, and a Thermal Suite steamroom with heated tiled loungers and showers that simulate tropical rain and fog.
At dinnertime, guests can choose between several options, from elegant to casual. The two-story Cascades Dining Room is a classic, glamorous cruise ship dining room, decorated with silk-draped columns, a dramatic split staircase, and evocative artwork. The intimate, 90-seat Chops Grille is a classic steakhouse, decorated in dark woods and rich upholsteries, and offering lovely sea views. Just next door, Giovanni’s Table is a family-style Italian eatery serving pizza, pasta, and other rustic dishes. Way up in the stern on Deck 12, the Samba Grill is a South American churrascaria, where servers circulate with different cuts of meat on skewers, and keep bringing them until you say “enough.”
Deck 11 offers five different casual dining options: the Windjammer Cafe buffet restaurant; the Dog House hot dog stand; Rita’s Cantina, offering casual Mexican fare and a huge menu of margaritas; Izumi, an Asian restaurant and sushi bar; and the Park Cafe, an alternative noshing spot in the Solarium, serving light meals and snacks. Several of these options were added in mid-2011 as part of an extensive refit and refurbishment.
Staterooms on Radiance are pleasantly styled and fairly spacious. All offer small sitting areas, roomy closets, vanities with pullout trays for laptops, interactive TVs, minibars, and smallish bathrooms. More than half the cabins on board have private verandas. Most suites are located on Deck 10, and range from the 294-square-foot Junior Suite to the 951-square-foot Royal Suite, with its separate bedroom and living room, whirlpool bath, baby grand piano, and 283-square-foot veranda.
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