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LUXURY CRUISE: Radiance of the Seas
Style: Light, airy spacious
The Scene: Sailing Sydney to Hobart
Seen on Deck: Couples, multi-gen families
Just as brides are radiant, Radiance of the Seas echoes the description splendidly. Maybe she isn't a super-luxurious Queen but she is definitely worth considering. After a seven day cruise sailing on Radiance from Sydney in pursuit of the sun (I found it in Melbourne and Hobart) I was beaming radiantly. The ship is currently home-ported in Australian waters, when she completes her Australian program; she heads back across the Pacific for her northern summer home in Alaska.

radiance of the seas

Radiance of the Seas is contemporary, comfortable, and definitely classy in her four-plus category. Her overall demeanour makes her a stand-out among competitors. She is one of Royal Caribbean Line's four Radiance Class ships. Royal Caribbean International (RCI) is a global brand which also includes the luxurious Azamara Club Cruises. As for Radiance of the Seas is indeed a well-endowed beauty-queen - all 13-decks and 90,090 tonnes of her. Her total passenger capacity is 2,139. An impressive feature in these environmentally-challenging times is her engines. Instead of conventional propeller shafts and rudders, she is powered by two azimuthing pods - in simple terms, these are rather like two gigantic outboard motors which enable her to do a 360 degree turn in either direction faster than the blink of an eye.
Business-end out of the way, how about luxury appointments? Although Radiance doesn't pose as an all-inclusive luxury cruise ship, she has many 5 star attributes - most evident in her seven, new, specialty dining venues; a Day Spa with luxurious treatment rooms; an adults-only African-theme solarium with indoor pool and waterfalls; Royal Babies and Tot Nursery for children 6-36 months and a new Concierge Lounge for suite guests.
Almost half Radiance's standard state-rooms have private sea-facing balconies. These account for almost 50% of the accommodation - a more generous (and affordable) concession than other ships in the region. All have private bathrooms, interactive flat-screen televisions and 24-hour room service. TLTB readers might prefer to head for the Owners Suite or the top of the range Royal Suites, some of which have baby grand pianos. For luxury-loving families the Royal Family Suite can accommodate up to eight people.
The food. The main two-tiered dining room Cascades, is where the majority of guests dine most of the time. A new initiative is My Time Dining which allows guests to nominate their time of choice rather than be committed to the old tradition of first and second sittings. By and large the food here is predictable large-scale catering style. The Windjammer Café - the popular choice for breakfast, lunch, or more casual buffet-style dining, is similar.
But when it comes to the exciting new dining options, the food is outstanding. (These specialty restaurants all attract a modest surcharge). Choices are the Samba Grill Brazilian Steakhouse - great fun but very meaty (vegetarians need not apply); Giovanni's Table (top drawer Italian); Rita's Cantina (Mexican); Izumi (Japanese); Chop's Grill - self-explanatory, but also includes fish and seafood.
...Radiance of the Seas is indeed a well-endowed beauty-queen
The dining triumph however, is Chef's Table. This is a do-not-miss experience, so book on-line before you sail. Up to 14 guests are seated at a long table which is fastidiously set with an array of wine glasses appropriate to each wine type that has been paired with the delectable and exquisitely-presented, five courses. You don't have to be a connoisseur to share the conviviality or appreciate the fine art and flavours of perfectly-paired food and wine.
Travelling with teenagers? Steer them to the Dog House, where they can do their own pairings of hot dogs and accoutrements. When it comes to entertainment amenities cross all age ranges, Radiance is ahead of the game with RCI's famous 30ft high rock-climbing wall; a basketball court and a teen-only dance club that will keep low-threshold of boredom adolescents occupied for hours on end, and a 9-hole mini-golf course.
For junior luxies there is the Adventure Beach kid's area with waterslide (big enough for Mum or Dad to fit too). And if anyone feels the need to tell the folks back home what you are up to, there is ship-wide Wi-Fi internet.
If after all these activities you need to retreat to a quieter zone, try a comfy chair in the Colony Club or the Champagne Bar or Schooner Bar perhaps? These venues do get more vocal around the cocktail time hour and beyond. So you could always try the library overlooking the nine-deck atrium (called Centrum) and enjoy the lovely live, easy-listening music such as mellow classical guitar or string trio.
Overall impression? Service is tops and everything ticks along very neatly. AND, they have boat drill before the ship leaves port on cruise departure. Very reassuring.
Ultimate Luxury: The Owners Suite
Most Indulgent Moment: Participating in a Chef's table dinner
Insider Secrets: This ship has more to offer luxury lovers than the price tag implies
Junior Luxies: Plenty for children and, more rare, for teens.
Dress code: More casual than aboard all-inclusive luxury ships. On formal nights about half the men opt for dark suits instead of tuxedoes.
Dent in the platinum:
Luxury Cruise Link: www.royalcaribbean.com.au

Maggy Oehlbeck 11/5/12

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