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Radiance of the Seas - Alaska/Vancouver Round Trip


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Hello all,

I posted this in a previously sailed roll call and realized it may not get read, so I figured I’d start a new one.

I am very close to booking an 8 night round trip Vancouver to Alaska on Radiance for May 2023.  I was wondering if anyone has sailed that itinerary and what the weather, ship and excursions were like?  What were the pros and cons overall?  I watched a walk-through of Radiance on YouTube, and was quite impressed by how nice it is for a 20+ year old ship.  I toyed with idea of sailing southbound flying to Anchorage, but the flights are too pricey and there is only one direct flight a day to Los Angeles.  

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18 hours ago, Aron_Ross said:

Hello all,

I posted this in a previously sailed roll call and realized it may not get read, so I figured I’d start a new one.

I am very close to booking an 8 night round trip Vancouver to Alaska on Radiance for May 2023.  I was wondering if anyone has sailed that itinerary and what the weather, ship and excursions were like?  What were the pros and cons overall?  I watched a walk-through of Radiance on YouTube, and was quite impressed by how nice it is for a 20+ year old ship.  I toyed with idea of sailing southbound flying to Anchorage, but the flights are too pricey and there is only one direct flight a day to Los Angeles.  

I recently booked this cruise, but it's not round trip. You can either go Northbound Vancouver to Seward or Southbound Seward to Vancouver, unless of course you are lucky enough to do a back to back cruise and do both!

I have been watching a bunch of videos too and I'm so excited. Lots of planning to do! 🙂

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I just sailed on Radiance one-way to Seward (Anchorage) from Vancouver and had a wonderful time! Matt shared my live blog above if you want to read about the day to day life onboard.

The 8 day roundtrip on May 11, 2023 looks nice if that's the one you are thinking of. I would probably do that one instead of the one-way unless you plan to spend time in Alaska on land either before or after a one-way cruise. It was kind of a pain (and more expensive) having to fly back from Anchorage as opposed to Vancouver after my cruise!

Plus, it visits 4 Alaska ports in addition to Hubbard Glacier. That's the same you'll see on a 7-night one-way cruise.

The roundtrip sailings from Seattle typically visit only 3 Alaska ports and then Victoria, Canada. So this itinerary looks better in my opinion! Plus it goes to Ketchikan, which has been my favorite Alaska port so far. Price looks nice too.

I'd say go for it!

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1 hour ago, NJCruisers said:

I recently booked this cruise, but it's not round trip. You can either go Northbound Vancouver to Seward or Southbound Seward to Vancouver, unless of course you are lucky enough to do a back to back cruise and do both!

I have been watching a bunch of videos too and I'm so excited. Lots of planning to do! 🙂

Hi NJCruisers,

Looks like you are from the NJ area?  I actually grew up in NYC and have been living in Los Angeles for 15 years now.  I SOOO regret never experiencing the Caribbean or cruising when I lived in NY.  Traveling or cruising there from LA is a little more of a hassle.  Anyway, a few years ago my girlfriend and I sailed on Carnival to the Caribbean out of New Orleans and it was a total game changer.  We fell in love with the Caribbean!  We have sailed the Mexican Riviera out here, but it just doesn't compare.  My aunt lives in Jersey City, is retired and often sails out of Bayonne on Oasis and sometimes on Anthem I think.  I recently asked her if she gets tired of the same itinerary: Port Canaveral, Coco Cay, Nassau and she loves it every time!  I'm sure I would too...ha ha! 

Glad to hear you booked an Alaska cruise.  Wow, I wish we could do back to back hopefully one day.  I'm just so surprised at how few flights there are daily from Anchorage to LA and vice versa.  Good to hear you are also watching videos they provide so much information.  Matt's blog has been incredibly helpful too!  I'm so glad I discovered it and his YouTube channel.  Can't plan anything for Alaska yet since we have a cruise coming up in Nov on Harmony to SO Caribbean.  It will be our first time on an Oasis class, and first to Labadee, Aruba and Curacao.  We are SO excited and have been counting down since we booked that cruise in Feb of this year.  Sorry for the long response I could discuss these topics endlessly.

 

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32 minutes ago, JennaRCB said:

I just sailed on Radiance one-way to Seward (Anchorage) from Vancouver and had a wonderful time! Matt shared my live blog above if you want to read about the day to day life onboard.

The 8 day roundtrip on May 11, 2023 looks nice if that's the one you are thinking of. I would probably do that one instead of the one-way unless you plan to spend time in Alaska on land either before or after a one-way cruise. It was kind of a pain (and more expensive) having to fly back from Anchorage as opposed to Vancouver after my cruise!

Plus, it visits 4 Alaska ports in addition to Hubbard Glacier. That's the same you'll see on a 7-night one-way cruise.

The roundtrip sailings from Seattle typically visit only 3 Alaska ports and then Victoria, Canada. So this itinerary looks better in my opinion! Plus it goes to Ketchikan, which has been my favorite Alaska port so far. Price looks nice too.

I'd say go for it!

Jenna!!..Well hi there,  

Of course, I read every bit of your recent blog and loved it!  There was so much insight and I almost felt like I was there with you.  And yes the May 11th sailing is the one I will probably book tomorrow with MEI.  I have been going back and forth on which sailing looked the best and that one seems to be the winner.  I would love to do a Quantum class ship and Seattle is a little easier, but my girlfriend keeps reminding me that we are going for the itinerary and not the ship.  And as I stated in the thread, I am very impressed with Radiance for an older ship.  We also have never been to Vancouver, so we plan on at least two days there and then sail away.

Thank you for responding and your advice on that sailing.  I agree with everything you wrote.  I think I will be booking it for sure! 

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2 hours ago, Aron_Ross said:

Jenna!!..Well hi there,  

Of course, I read every bit of your recent blog and loved it!  There was so much insight and I almost felt like I was there with you.  And yes the May 11th sailing is the one I will probably book tomorrow with MEI.  I have been going back and forth on which sailing looked the best and that one seems to be the winner.  I would love to do a Quantum class ship and Seattle is a little easier, but my girlfriend keeps reminding me that we are going for the itinerary and not the ship.  And as I stated in the thread, I am very impressed with Radiance for an older ship.  We also have never been to Vancouver, so we plan on at least two days there and then sail away.

Thank you for responding and your advice on that sailing.  I agree with everything you wrote.  I think I will be booking it for sure! 

Great!! Have fun! 🙂

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6 hours ago, NJCruisers said:

I recently booked this cruise, but it's not round trip. You can either go Northbound Vancouver to Seward or Southbound Seward to Vancouver, unless of course you are lucky enough to do a back to back cruise and do both!

I have been watching a bunch of videos too and I'm so excited. Lots of planning to do! 🙂

There is one in May 2023 that is eight nights, round-trip Vancouver. It’s a unique itinerary, not the normal north or south bound.

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I did the northbound cruise on Radiance back in June. Great cruise.  My advice:

1. Take this cruise because you want to see Alaska.  Radiance is a beautiful ship, but doesn't have the floating amusement park activities that larger ships have.

2. Plan your excursions carefully.  All of the towns are walkable,  but there's lots to see outside of town.

3. Keep you eyes open while on the ship. Whale, dolphin and other wildlife sightings are common from the ship.

4. Don't forget Seward as a place worthy of a day or 2. Kenai Fjords national park is there and offers boat tours, visits to the exit glacier and hiking to the ice fields. The Alaska railroad starts in Seward as well.

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8 hours ago, Aron_Ross said:

Hi NJCruisers,

Looks like you are from the NJ area?  I actually grew up in NYC and have been living in Los Angeles for 15 years now.  I SOOO regret never experiencing the Caribbean or cruising when I lived in NY.  Traveling or cruising there from LA is a little more of a hassle.  Anyway, a few years ago my girlfriend and I sailed on Carnival to the Caribbean out of New Orleans and it was a total game changer.  We fell in love with the Caribbean!  We have sailed the Mexican Riviera out here, but it just doesn't compare.  My aunt lives in Jersey City, is retired and often sails out of Bayonne on Oasis and sometimes on Anthem I think.  I recently asked her if she gets tired of the same itinerary: Port Canaveral, Coco Cay, Nassau and she loves it every time!  I'm sure I would too...ha ha! 

Glad to hear you booked an Alaska cruise.  Wow, I wish we could do back to back hopefully one day.  I'm just so surprised at how few flights there are daily from Anchorage to LA and vice versa.  Good to hear you are also watching videos they provide so much information.  Matt's blog has been incredibly helpful too!  I'm so glad I discovered it and his YouTube channel.  Can't plan anything for Alaska yet since we have a cruise coming up in Nov on Harmony to SO Caribbean.  It will be our first time on an Oasis class, and first to Labadee, Aruba and Curacao.  We are SO excited and have been counting down since we booked that cruise in Feb of this year.  Sorry for the long response I could discuss these topics endlessly.

 

Yes, I am originally from NYC myself but made the move to NJ almost 25 years ago. Ironically I've never taken a cruise from here. I've done 1 out of Florida and 2 out of Puerto Rico. Alaska is definitely a big deal, I hate to fly and I'm already nervous about it! I love planning vacations though. 

Aruba & Curacao are both amazing, I've been to both of them twice. Curacao was so fun to just walk around town on our own and explore. We did a beach excursion through the ship in the morning, went back and had lunch on the ship then toured Curacao. We had drinks at that place by the Queen Emma Bridge and just watched it for like an hour before heading back to the ship.

We did Trikes Aruba and toured the island in the morning then spent the day at the beach & had a fabulous dinner at Barefoot Aruba.  

You will love it there!

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Thought I would add my two cents:
Got off Radiance of the Seas on August 26 (turns out right as Jenna got on). The cruise was a 7 day southbound cruise from Seward to Vancouver. This was my 12th cruise on Royal Caribbean but my first time in Alaska.  Main takeaway:

  • As cruises go, this was our worst Royal cruise ever
  • However, it had no effect on our vacation. Alaska was fantastic and I WOULD DO IT ALL OVER AGAIN.

What was wrong with the cruise:

  • Wifi and internet were awful.  I knew the internet would be slow so I only purchased surf and stream for one device and shared it with my wife.  None of our devices would stay on WiFi.  We were constantly having to rejoin the WiFi network and if we wanted internet we would have to log into our account over and over again.  At times, we couldn’t even use the WiFi to look at the menus.  There was also no WiFi in our stateroom, we had to leave the stateroom to do anything. It was beyond frustrating.
  • The bartenders were awful. Every drink we ordered was half to three quarters full and not prepared well. We were using our diamond drinks, so we didn’t complain too much but it was an issue.
  • i am guessing that the crew was very inexperienced. There were way too many little forgetful errors.  Received clean towels but no wash clothes, items ordered at dinner were never delivered, etc.  Little things like this happen on every cruise but this just seemed to happen multiple times a day.  It did not appear to be the crew’s lack of effort or caring either.  The crew worked hard and when you asked or reminded them about something they appeared genuinely.apologetic and reacted immediately. 
  • The entertainment was awful, we found time to attend 2 shows but never went back.
  • Bottom line, the cruise experience was not up to the Royal standard we have come to expect.

in May 2023, I would not expect an improvement in WiFi, internet access or entertainment but I would expect a different crew and hopefully one with more experience.

Why didn’t it matter? Because you are in Alaska.  We weren’t on the ship that much, it really was just a place to sleep and eat and you really don’t have to count on the ship for entertainment or activities. At the end of most days we were so tired we would prepare for the next and go to  sleep. The sights are unbelievable, everyone says the pictures don’t do it justice and they are correct. I believe you should pick the cruise that permits you to accomplish the things you want to do and see in Alaska. 

Why did we pick Radiance? We wanted to do a land portion first, including Denali and we wanted to take the Alaskan railroad. The Seward to Vancouver cruise completed our itinerary perfectly.

Our ports are the same as yours but the same excursion in May are likely to be different than in August. Not better or worse just different.

We stopped in Juneau and our excursion was a whale watching tour and then a short hike to Mendenhall Glacier. I highly recommend this excursion.

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In Skagway we.took a canoe ride to Davidson glacier.

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In Icy Strait Point we went on a Spasski River bear and wildlife search.

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Finally in Ketchikan, we went on a Misty Fjord flight seeing tour.


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Happy to answer any questions.

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Alaska was wonderful.  We did the 4 day land option to Denali then picked up Radiance of the Sea at Seward, arriving at Vancouver in July, 2022.  We would do it again in a minute.  We loved the land portion and the ports in Alaska.  I do agree that Radiance was a bit of a disappointment.  It was an older ship, fewer entertainment and dining options.  We took a family cruise in July, 2019, round trip leaving from Seattle on Ovation to Alaska and liked the ship much better but had fewer ports.  We really liked Ketchikan that was unavailable on the round trip cruise.

Either the one way or round trip was a wonderful trip.  Enjoy Alaska!

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I notice a lot of people seem to dislike Radiance.  Personally, I enjoy her, but that's neither here nor there.

If you take a Radiance class ship, come prepared.  These ships were built to fit through the original locks of the Panama Canal.  This makes it much smaller than most other Royal ships and they simply don't have room for all of the bells and whistles.

Which leads me to another point.  If the original Panama Canal is on your bucket list, do it quick.  There's no telling how much longer Royal, or its competitors, are going to keep these aging ships!  Once they are gone, it will be very difficult to see the original canal.

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On 9/13/2022 at 9:15 AM, steverk said:

I notice a lot of people seem to dislike Radiance.  Personally, I enjoy her, but that's neither here nor there.

If you take a Radiance class ship, come prepared.  These ships were built to fit through the original locks of the Panama Canal.  This makes it much smaller than most other Royal ships and they simply don't have room for all of the bells and whistles.

Which leads me to another point.  If the original Panama Canal is on your bucket list, do it quick.  There's no telling how much longer Royal, or its competitors, are going to keep these aging ships!  Once they are gone, it will be very difficult to see the original canal.

I've only been on a few cruises but I'm excited for Radiance. We no longer have kids traveling with us & we are planning on busy days in Alaska. I think it's big enough for this trip for sure. We are traveling with others who have never cruised before so they won't have anything to compare it to. 

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@SolariumSnoozer Wow what an in depth review.  Sorry to hear the ship wasn’t the greatest.  Thank you for your input and sharing those awesome photos! 

I appreciate everyone's thoughts and input.  Seems like no matter what you do, or which ship one sails on, Alaska is one amazing place!  I would love to sail on a Quantum class ship, and wish it could do that same itinerary as the May 11th Radiance sailing.  It would be an interesting comparison, especially since I will be sailing on Harmony (1st Oasis Class sailing) this coming November..... 69 days to go!!

 

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Let me ask everyone another question...

If you had a choice between these two ships and their itinerary, which would you choose and why?  Keep in mind this would be our first Alaska cruise, and I'm aware of the difference between Ovation and Radiance.  Most likely we would have to go with an interior.

Is Hubbard that much better than Enditcott Arm? Is Ovation also made for views both inside and on deck like Radiance?  Notice Radiance goes to Icy Straight plus the Inside Passage and Ovation does not. So here are two examples...

RADIANCE of the SEAS 8 nights out of Vancouver 

Day 1 Vancouver

Day 2 At Sea

Day 3 Juneau 11am to 8pm

Day 4 Skagway 7am to 8pm

Day 5 Hubbard Glacier 2pm to 6pm

Day 6 Icy Straight Point 6:30 am to 3pm

Day 7 Ketchikan 9am to 5pm

Day 8 Inside Passage

Day 9 Vancouver

 

Ovation of the Seas 8 nights out of Vancouver to Seattle

Day 1 Vancouver

Day 2 At Sea

Day 3 Sitka 11am to 7pm

Day 4 Juneau 9am to 9pm

Day 5 Skagway 7am to 8pm

Day 6 Edicott Arm and Dawes Glacier

Day 7 Ketchikan 8am to 6pm

Day 8 At sea

Day 9 SEATTLE

 

1
 
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On 9/15/2022 at 10:21 AM, steverk said:

Radiance does round trip Vancouver, which is easier to manage than ovations Vancouver to Seattle. 

Better than either one would be a one way Vancouver to Seward.

Not sure why Vancouver round trip would be easier, I would think flying back from Seattle would be.  Also we live in Los Angeles which is a little cheaper and a lot more flight options.  

Believe me I would love to do a one way, but it's way too inconvenient and expensive.  

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45 minutes ago, Aron_Ross said:

Not sure why Vancouver round trip would be easier, I would think flying back from Seattle would be.  Also we live in Los Angeles which is a little cheaper and a lot more flight options.  

Believe me I would love to do a one way, but it's way too inconvenient and expensive.  

I find it easier, and frequently cheaper, to book a round trip flight rather than 2 one way flights from different airports.  

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Hubbard glacier doesn't really matter as they spin in place giving everyone a view.

Most people prefer starboard on northbound and port on starboard as you have somewhat more of a view of land.

Either side works well though as you spend most of your time sailing among islands. 

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