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After sailing Royal Caribbean's mega ships, I tried a small ship and here's what I liked about it

25 Nov 2023

In the world of cruising, bigger isn’t always better.

Many cruisers are familiar with the grandeur and scale of Royal Caribbean’s exciting mega-ships. 

I personally experienced luxury cruises on some of those colossal vessels, such as the Wonder of the Seas and Freedom of the Seas

After cruises on the bigger Oasis and Freedom Class ships, it was time for me to try a cruise on a smaller ship.

I sailed on Radiance of the Seas, a Radiance Class ship.

While not the smallest Royal Caribbean has to offer, the ship only has 13 decks and a capacity of 2,500 guests. 

The contrast from the larger ships was stark. The experience opened my eyes to the potential charm and advantages of a smaller cruise adventure. 

I found that, although there are disadvantages to a smaller ship, this type of cruise can also offer a refreshing change of pace.

In this article, I’ll share my insights into the unique aspects that set small Royal Caribbean ships apart from their larger counterparts. 

1. The ship had a more defined, intimate culture

One of the most significant differences of sailing on a small ship was the sense of a more defined, intimate ship culture that permeated the experience.

While on the ship, I noticed crew members acting closely and calling one another by name, even over ship announcements. 

The ship’s captain, Captain Marek, also brought a much more personal touch to the sailing. I saw him walk around the ship, taking pictures with guests. He even performed one night, singing songs in the Centrum. 

I also attended the Captain’s Q&A, which is present on other Royal Caribbean ships, but felt more personal with a smaller group.

While some of this is dependent on Captain Marek’s sociable and kind personality, I’m sure that piloting a smaller ship helps him spread that friendly energy and create a more intimate ship community.

Personal touches like these make the ship a warm, welcoming atmosphere and allow guests to feel like more than just passengers—they feel like part of a close-knit cruising community.

2. The atmosphere felt quiet and calm

One difference that became very apparent once I stopped onboard was the sense of calm and serenity around the vessel. Unlike some of the larger, bustling ships, Radiance of the Seas felt like a much more tranquil and laid-back place.

There were so few crowds and noise everywhere onboard that my introverted spirit began to soar.

Especially at night, I could walk around a completely quiet ship. Most cruisers clustered at the bars or in the nightclub, leaving the majority of the ship tranquil.

For example, my friend and I would walk around the upper decks to look at the stars outdoors. Sometimes we would travel the whole deck without seeing anyone else!

This was a stark contrast to my cruises on larger ships, especially on Wonder of the Seas, where I could barely find a quiet place, much less one with no people around. 

If getting some peace and quiet is a concern for your future cruises, I highly recommend sailing on a smaller ship.

The absence of crowds and noise made it easier to unwind and enjoy the breathtaking views of the open sea without the noise and distractions found on larger ships.

Read more: 10 reasons why I didn't want to go on a cruise, but glad I gave it a try

3. Staff was more attentive, providing a personalized experience 

While Royal Caribbean has always impressed me with the quality of guest care, I could tell that the smaller scale of the ship allowed staff to be even more attentive to the needs of each guest.

From the dining room to the room service, the crew members went above and beyond to ensure a comfortable cruise experience. 

I noticed that crew members would recognize and greet me again after seeing me on the deck.

When we ordered room service breakfast, staff would call us before delivering to make sure we were ready to receive it. 

This attention to detail made sure my needs were always anticipated and met. I felt that the smaller ship lent itself to more genuine hospitality from crew members and created an environment where passengers’ individual needs could be even more prioritized. 

4. I navigated the ship with ease

Navigating Royal Caribbean’s mega-ships had felt like a daunting task. The larger ships, such as Wonder of the Seas, have multiple neighborhoods and many decks, making you feel like you’re traversing a small town.

I’m not the best with directions, so took me about 3-4 days to get comfortable navigating the larger ships. It was hard to even remember which end was the fore and which was the aft!

On the smaller cruise ship, however, the layout was more straightforward and compact, making it easy for me to find my way around. With fewer decks and a more compact design, I felt comfortable traversing Radiance of the Seas by Day 2 of the cruise.

This saved us time when it came to getting lost and deciphering maps and allowed us to spend more time enjoying the amenities and activities onboard.

We didn’t have to rely on crowded, slow elevators for the whole of the cruise, as well. I was comfortable taking the stairs for much more of this cruise due to the ship’s smaller size. 

5. There was no need to make reservations

On my larger cruise ship experiences, I had to be on the lookout for events and venues that could fill up quickly or require a reservation.

We had to move fast when it came to dining reservations and show up early to find a seat in the shows.

Unlike on mega-ships, where availability was limited, my smaller cruise offered a hassle-free experience. There was no need for me to plan ahead, as I found I could simply show up to whatever activity or event I wanted and find plenty of spots available. 

These events, such as comedy shows, Zumba classes, or groups on the pool deck, felt more intimate and connected with much fewer people present.

6. Seating was more easily available 

One common struggle on larger ships is finding a vacant seat, especially in popular dining areas like the Windjammer buffet. 

On the smaller ship, I found that many more seating options were available. In the Windjammer, I could enjoy meals without the stress of searching for a table.

And the bars had hardly any lines, whereas I would have had to wait for several minutes on a larger ship.

This contrast added comfort to the already-relaxed atmosphere onboard.

Of course, this difference has two sides: on one hand, the smaller ship has fewer people aboard, meaning that more seating was available in some areas. 

However, on the other hand, the smaller ship meant smaller areas, so I did find fewer seats available in places like the pool deck.

7. Provides the unique experience of sailing out of small ports


Choosing a smaller ship opens up the possibility of disembarking from smaller ports.

In the case of my Radiance of the Seas cruise, this meant we could sail out of Tampa.

This smaller port allowed for a more convenient, streamlined departure experience. 

The ship could also sail directly under the iconic Sunshine Skyway Bridge, the gateway to Tampa Bay. Radiance of the Seas clears the bridge with just 6 feet of leeway, so it is an incredible opportunity to watch the small ship navigate.

We could also sail right up to our ports of call at Costa Maya and Cozumel, meaning no extra tender ships were required. 

I chose to cruise on a smaller Royal Caribbean cruise ship. It saved me money and brought me to ports I prefer

16 Nov 2023

Sometimes picking a cruise ship to sail on can feel like picking your favorite child: you don't have one, but sometimes you prefer one over the other for different reasons.

Radiance of the Seas

It can be daunting to choose between different cruise ships for a vacation, and even I can sometimes find myself second guessing the decision.

I recently sailed on one of Royal Caribbean's smallest cruise ships for a few important reasons, and it provided me an affordable cruise to the places I wanted to visit, even if it did not have all the bells and whistles of other ships.

Radiance of the Seas logo

Radiance of the Seas is the oldest Radiance Class cruise ship, having launched on June 15, 2000.  Cruise ships that reach the 20 year plateau are becoming far more commonplace than it used to be, so age is not the factor it used to be in evaluating how good a cruise ship is.

Read moreWhy you can't trust online reviews of cruise ships

Radiance is also on the small end of Royal Caribbean's fleet.  She has a capacity of 2,501 guests and a length of 961 feet.  Compared to new cruise ships, like Wonder of the Seas, she is in a different category of cruise ship layout and feel.

Centrum on Radiance of the Seas

Ultimately, I picked Radiance of the Seas because it was the right cruise ship for what I wanted: an inexpensive getaway cruise to ports of call in Mexico from a convenient homeport.

Here's why my cruise on Radiance of the Seas ended up being a great choice.

Inexpensive last-minute fare

Balcony cabin on Radiance of the Seas

It seems like a last-minute cruise deal is getting harder and harder to find because of rising cruise prices.  Royal Caribbean is seeing exceptional demand, and that means there's less incentive to offer a lower price.

I booked this cruise exactly 31 days before embarkation, and got a Category 4D balcony stateroom for $1,390.79 (including gratuities), plus $50 onboard credit.  

Read moreThe 5 best cabin locations on a cruise ship

Balcony cabin on Radiance of the Seas

This was a 5-night cruise that visited two ports of call in Mexico, Costa Maya and Cozumel.

I could have gone with a category 2V inside cabin instead for $1,063.79  (including gratuities), plus $50 onboard credit.  I decided the extra $300 was worth having a balcony and more space.

Read more8 reasons a balcony cabin is worth it to book on a cruise

I didn't set any records for the lowest cruise fare ever, but considering I booked the cruise just a month before sailing, I think it's a pretty good price for a last-minute cruise in 2023.

Tampa sign for Radiance

At the time of booking, there were very few options that worked for the timeframe I wanted, but more important, I was going to pay more for them too.

Cruises from other ports around Florida had higher prices and worse cabin choices.

My cabin had lots of space, and the private balcony was so nice to have on the two sea days we had.

Cabin on Radiance of the Seas

I was in cabin 8516, located near the forward elevator bank. There were no noise issues to contend with, and it was very convenient to have an elevator so close by.

Not only does a balcony cabin get natural light from the sliding glass door, but I was able to spend time on my balcony with the fresh air or a view from in my room if it got too hot.

Convenient homeport

Radiance of the Seas in Tampa

Radiance of the Seas is spending the winter cruise season in Tampa, Florida, and it's one of my favorite ports to sail from because of how easy it is.

Tampa does not get the bigger cruise ships that you'll find in South Florida or even across the state in Port Canaveral, but it's such an easy process to cruise from there.

Besides the fact I can make the drive in a little over an hour from my house, the port is set up with a valet parking option that costs just $15 more than parking in the cruise terminal garage. 

Port of Tampa

The terminal itself is a no-frills embarkation experience, and I've always found it to be quick and easy. 

I arrived for my noon check-in time (which I picked from the Royal Caribbean app) and there were no lines at all to contend with. All they had to do was check paperwork and send me on my way.

While the embarkation process is just as easy at other Florida homeports thanks to Royal Caribbean's utilization of its app to speed up the process, the folks working in the cruise terminal have done their best to ensure everything goes smoothly.

Lots of dining choices

Chops Grille

Given how old Radiance of the Seas is, I was surprised how many dining choices it has.

There are four different specialty restaurants on Radiance of the Seas, plus the Chef's Table.

When you're choosing between a small or big cruise ship, often the variety of dining choices is one consideration as big ships are known for having more.  

Windjammer on Radiance of the Seas

However, with four specialty restaurants in addition to the complimentary Windjammer and Main Dining Room, I was impressed by the variety.

Whether you decided to eat at any of the specialty restaurants or not, it's nice how many options there are on a ship of Radiance of the Seas' age and size.

Ports in Mexico

Maya Chan

A major reason I wanted to go on Radiance of the Seas was for the opportunity to sail to Mexico.

Anecdotally, it seems like there are far less cruises going to Mexico than the Eastern Caribbean. Or at least, I keep subconsciously choosing Eastern Caribbean routes.

I wanted a cruise that went to the Western Caribbean so I could review my two favorite beach shore excursions: Maya Chan and Paradise Beach.

Paradise Beach pool

Plus, I really enjoy cruises that go to Mexico because of the food.

At home, I eat plenty of Mexican food, but there's nothing like getting the real thing in Mexico. I enjoy the beautiful scenery there as well, but Mexico's food is my favorite among any Caribbean port.

An additional benefit to Radiance of the Seas was the amount of time we had in port.

RC Cozumel

In both Costa Maya and Cozumel, we were docked for the full day.  As an example, in Costa Maya we were in port from 8am to 5pm, whereas Mariner of the Seas came in on the same day, but did not arrive until 11am.  They did stay until 7pm, but in my experience so many businesses close up once you get to around 5pm.

Being that Radiance of the Seas was closer to Tampa, our distance was shorter than a cruise from Eastern Florida, and I loved having a full day in each port of call.

Fastest internet at sea

Speed test result

If having fast internet on a cruise ship is important to you, Radiance of the Seas is a great choice.

Royal Caribbean's investment in Starlink internet service has been a game changer, especially now that they seemed to have optimized their networking to better handle the traffic.

I was first blown away by how well Starlink worked when I was on Serenade of the Seas last month, which is another Radiance Class ship.

On Radiance of the Seas, the internet was almost as good as Serenade, but so much better than just a few months ago when I was on other, larger ships.

As someone that relies on the internet heavily, it was so nice to have a reliable connection for the entire cruise.

I stayed in the cheapest cabin on Royal Caribbean's Radiance of the Seas. It was small and windowless, but for $151 a night, it was a great deal — take a look.

14 Nov 2023

I recently took my first cruise on a smaller Royal Caribbean ship, choosing to sail on Radiance on the Seas.


This sailing was a 5-night cruise from Tampa, Florida, stopping at Costa Maya and Cozumel, Mexico. 

Radiance of the Seas, the first Radiance Class ship, was built in 2001 and revitalized in 2011. 

It is a smaller ship in Royal Caribbean’s fleets, with a capacity for 2,466 guests. 

Read more: 20 Radiance Class cruise ship tips and secrets

I opted to book a guarantee stateroom, choosing a cheaper price in exchange for letting Royal Caribbean assign us a less desirable cabin. Usually, they assign you the cabins that have not yet sold a few weeks before embarkation. 

The total price of the fare was $1510.74, with pre-paid gratuities included, totaling just $151 a night per person. 


About a week before my cruise, I saw that we had been assigned cabin number 4059. Located midship on the 4th deck, this was the lowest level cabin I’ve experienced before!

I appreciated the midship location, close to the elevators both in the middle of the ship and the forward end. 

It was also extremely close to our assigned table in the Main Dining Room—right there on deck 4. 

Room 4059 was a windowless inside cabin. Although Radiance of the Seas is the smallest ship I have sailed on so far, the size of the room did not disappoint. 

Despite it being a smaller inside cabin, I thought the stateroom was quite spacious, with a couch in the corner and room for two beds. 

When I walked into the room, I faced the two beds and couch on the right and the vanity and desk on the left. 

The closet was on the front left of the room, directly opposite the bathroom door. 


The bathroom was small, as I am now used to on Royal Caribbean ships. The lights were slow to flicker on, but there was nothing else to suggest that the cabin was outdated. 

Honestly, if I hadn’t already known the age of this ship, I would never have guessed that she’s as old as I am!

Read more: I sailed again on Royal Caribbean's Radiance Class ships, but think these ships need upgrades


One aspect that I did not like about the bathroom was that the shower curtain was a thin fabric instead of a plexiglass door. Water would spill under the curtain out onto the floor if I wasn’t careful. 


However, all other aspects of the bathroom were great: lots of mirrors, enough shelf space, and fresh towels daily. 


Opposite the bathroom, the closet held 6 wide shelves and countless hangers. This is one of the largest closets I've taken advantage of on my cruises. There was enough space for myself and my friend, who was traveling with me, to fill the shelves with our clothes, place our luggage on the floor of the closet, and hang jackets and dresses on the hangers. 

Further on in the room, I loved the full-length mirror opposite the vanity and the vanity aspect with lights under the mirror. 


The desk/vanity had a comfortable chair and many drawers, which were ample enough for my friend and I to store any other items there.


Tucked to the right of this desk was a small refrigerator. However, it didn’t have any cooling unit of its own, so it served more as a storage container rather than a cooler. I was able to store food there but found that it didn’t stay very cold. I put a vegan sorbet from the Main Dining Room inside this cooler, and it had melted by the next day. 


Above the desk was a small TV, which was not a smart TV but had a few free channels. 


The couch was large enough for two people to sit on, and I loved the small table next to it, where we served ourselves room-service breakfast in the mornings. 

The two beds came separated, each with a small nightstand and a lamp above it. I loved that the lamps had two settings: one dim and one much brighter.

The beds were comfortable and cozy, with fluffy pillows I couldn’t wait to rest in every night. 

There were no electricity ports on these nightstands that I could find, so we had to share the ones at the desk. Thankfully, I brought an extension cord to add several extra ports.


I also chose to bring magnetic hooks, as many people suggest, since they can stick to the steel cabin walls. 

I can't believe I didn't take advantage of this hack earlier! It was a great way to hang scarves and jewelry on the wall and keep them from getting tangled up. 


This cabin was my first one with a connecting door to the room next door. The room was connected with #4057. Since we weren’t traveling with a group, of course, we kept the connecting door locked. 

However, I did find that it was easy to hear our next-door neighbors, especially when it got quiet at night. I could hear them coughing late at night, and I’m sure they could hear my friend and I talking. 

The walls seemed thin all around, as I could also hear steps above me and people out in the hallway. 

We were also located quite near the elevators, lobby bar, and Guest Services, so we could hear the live music playing and people talking from that area. 

However, it wasn't so loud that we could not sleep. As a matter of fact, the windowless room stayed so dark that we slept very soundly most nights. 

Despite the midship location, I did find myself getting pretty seasick inside the room, maybe due to the lack of windows and no view of the horizon. Getting fresh air and taking Dramamine every day helped a lot. 

I took full advantage of room service breakfast on this trip and found that they would call us about 15 minutes before they came to deliver the breakfast. It was a great way to sleep in and enjoy a meal in the cabin. 

Despite the fact that this was a cheaper inside cabin, I found that it was large enough and nice enough that we wanted to spend time in this cabin. Saving money on booking to receive this cabin was definitely worth it! 

After 2 cancelled cruises, Royal Caribbean cruise ship will resume sailings

10 Sep 2023

Royal Caribbean confirmed it will be able to resume sailings on Radiance of the Seas.

Radiance of the Seas in Alaska

The cruise line was forced to cancel two last-minute Alaska cruises on Radiance of the Seas due to a problem with the ship's propulsion.

It appears as though the issues are now resolved.

Guests booked on the September 15th sailing received the email they were hoping for. Royal Caribbean Blog reader Gord Wainwright shared a copy of the email Royal Caribbean sent out.

Radiance of the Seas in Seward, Alaska

"Our Marine technical team has given us the green light and we’re thrilled to announce that Radiance of the Seas will be returning to service beginning with our September 15th sailing," is what Royal Caribbean conveyed in the announcement.

"With repairs wrapping up and sea trial preparations underway, we’re now able to confirm our ability to sail as intended."

In addition to informing booked passengers the ship is good to go, Royal Caribbean's  also wanted to address rumors of the ship's seaworthiness.

Radiance of the Seas letter

Royal Caribbean Associate Vice President, Guest Experience, mentioned the ship is ready to go.

"In response to some comments I've seen and heard, seaworthiness was never in question - the propulsion issue only impacted our speed and ability to make it to ports on time," is what the email stated.

The trouble began for Radiance of the Seas last week when the cruise line cancelled the September 1st sailing after the ship experienced problems with its propulsions. On the last night of the August 25th sailing before it concluded in Seward, Alaska is likely when the issues cropped up.

Radiance of the Seas azipod

Radiance of the Seas has two Azipods, which are multidirectional pods that drive the ship and can be rotated 360 degrees and are have been the standard form of propulsion for all of Royal Caribbean's new cruise ships in recent years.

The September 1 and September 8 sailings were the sailings cancelled.

Royal Caribbean is issuing affected customers a full refund, plus a future cruise credit that can be used for a sailing departing within one year.

Radiance of the Seas in Alaska

For the September 8 cancellation, the cruise line will also reimburse non-refundable, pre-purchased travel fees (such as a flight, hotel, train ticket, or rental car) of up to $250 per guest for domestic travel, or up to $500 per guest for international travel.

The September 1 cruise was canceled on the same day the ship was scheduled to depart, meaning many customers had already traveled to the ship's port of departure.

A cancelled cruise is quite rare, but having two in a row is nearly unheard of in the industry.

Royal Caribbean International President and CEO Michael Bayley took to social media to talk about the progress being made to repair the ship, as many other people with booked cruises were concerned their sailings might also be affected.

On his Facebook page, Mr. Bayley celebrated the ship returning to service and thanked the people that made it happen.

“Thank you to our Marine Technical team who have worked tirelessly to get the Azipod back on track.”

“Thank you to all our guests for your understanding and our amazing Guest services team.”

“For anyone who has owned a boat you know the journey ! And this is a huge ship !   Boarding day the drinks are on us !  Enjoy !”

Royal Caribbean CEO reports progress in repairing cruise ship with 2 cancelled sailings

07 Sep 2023

If you have a Radiance of the Seas cruise booked in the near future, there's good news to share.

Radiance of the Seas in Ketchikan

Royal Caribbean has had to cancel two Alaska cruises so far on Radiance of the Seas because of problems with the ship's propulsion.  This has others with upcoming cruises worried about the fate of their sailings.

Royal Caribbean International President and CEO Michael Bayley posted an update on Thursday to provide more context into what is happening.

On his Facebook page, Mr. Bayley posted three "thumbs up" emojis with some positive news to share, "The team report continued positive progress and increased confidence all will be good to go for the 15th.    

He added that the ship is scheduled to put the repairs to the test this weekend, "We have a sea trial on the 10th and if all goes as expected then Bingo off we go!  Thanks for the patience and understanding."

Bayley Radiance update

The trouble began for Radiance of the Seas last week when the cruise line cancelled the September 1st sailing after the ship experienced problems with its propulsions. On the last night of the August 25th sailing before it concluded in Seward, Alaska is likely when the issues cropped up.

Radiance of the Seas has two Azipods, which are multidirectional pods that drive the ship and can be rotated 360 degrees and are have been the standard form of propulsion for all of Royal Caribbean's new cruise ships in recent years.

Royal Caribbean cancelled the September 1st sailing on the same day guests were boarding the ship for their cruise. They received the unfortunate news while the ship was docked in port.

Radiance of the Seas in St Thomas

A cancelled cruise is quite rare, and two cancelled cruises is even rarer.

The September 8th sailing was also cancelled just a few days later.

Guests on the cancelled cruises received a full refund, as well as a future cruise credit equal to what they paid for the sailing.

Mr. Bayley originally commented that the issue was troubling, but the company had a plan, "One of the ships Azipod’s had a problem requiring highly specialized technicians from Northern Europe to travel to Alaska to fix and repair that problem."

Radiance of the Seas in Vancouver

He added for those on the next scheduled Radiance of the Seas sailing, the plan is still for that cruise to happen, "To our September 15th guests we are confident repairs will be completed in the next few days in time for your sailing. and we will keep you informed should that change."

Mr. Bayley also thanked the crew members and shoreside staff working to manage guests affected by the cancellations, "To our shipboard Crew and shoreside Staff who have worked tirelessly to manage this situation and support getting our guests home safely a big thank you and to our guests whose vacation was so rudely interrupted our apologies."

Pool deck in Alaska

As of the publishing of this article, data shows Radiance of the Seas is sailing outside of Seward.

Radiance is wrapping up her 2023 Alaska cruise season, where she's offering alternating 7-night Northbound and Southbound Alaska and Glacier sailings.  It's also a popular option to add-on a cruisetour, where guests can include a tour of inland Alaska before or after their cruise.

Radiance of the Seas is a 90,900 gross ton Radiance Class cruise ship. She had her maiden voyage in 2001.

Radiance is a smaller ship by today's standards, and has a capacity of 2,466 guests at double occupancy.

She is 962 feet long.

Royal Caribbean cancels another Radiance of the Seas cruise due to ongoing propulsion problem

05 Sep 2023

Another Alaska cruise has been canceled on Radiance of the Seas because of a problem with the ship's engine.


Guests booked on the September 8th cruise received an update on Tuesday that their sailing has been cancelled due to time needed to complete repairs to Radiance of the Seas' engines.

This is the second sailing in a row to be cancelled.

Radiance of the Seas was scheduled to offer a 7-night Northbound Alaska & Hubbard Glacier sailing.

Royal Caribbean had intended to conduct this sailing, but evidently repairs will take longer than anticipated.

Radiance pulling into Seward

Reddit reader legilimensmaster posted a copy of the letter.

The email to guests stated they tried their best to get the work done, but need more time.

"As you may know, Radiance of the Seas' propulsion system experienced a technical issue. Our crew started working on restoring the system immediately and we deployed the best experts."

"Despite our efforts, we were unable to complete the needed repairs to make it in time to Vancouver. As a result, we'll be canceling our Radiance of the Seas September 8th, 2023 sailing. "

Cancellation email for Radiance of the Seas

As of the publishing of this article, Radiance of the Seas is still in Seward.

Royal Caribbean also apologized for having to cancel the cruise, "We know how much time and effort go into planning your cruise, and we're truly sorry for this disappointing news."

The problem began on the last night of the August 25th sailing before it concluded in Seward, Alaska, when guests reported hearing a strange noise overnight.  Radiance made it to Seward, but it became apparent the cruise had to be cancelled.

Unfortunately for the people booked on the September 1st sailing, they didn't know the cruise would cancelled until they boarded the ship that day.

Later on embarkation day, it was announced the sailing was cancelled.

Guests booked on the September 8th sailing received an email update on Monday to inform them that "repairs are underway and we are progressing to resolve the issue."

"At this time, we intend to sail as planned on September 8th".

The Tuesday update confirmed many guests fears that their sailing would also be impacted.


Just like anyone booked on the September 1st sailing, those affected by the September 8th cancellation are entitled to a 100% refund, including taxes and fees, pre-paid packages and gratuities, amenities, shore excursions and any flights purchased through Royal Caribbean.

Additionally, to make up for this, passengers will also receive a 100% Future Cruise Credit (FCC) to be used towards a future sailing departing within one year.

Any non-refundable, pre-purchased travel fees will be re-imbursed (such as flight, hotel, train ticket or rental) car for up to $250 for domestic changes and up to $500 for international changes.

The problem with the cruise ship

Radiance azipod

We don't have many details as to the exact nature of the issue, other than the ship's propulsion system is damaged in some way.

Royal Caribbean's only official comment on the problem is that the ship's "propulsion system experienced a technical issue."

Radiance of the Seas has two Azipods, which are multidirectional pods that drive the ship and can be rotated 360 degrees and are have been the standard form of propulsion for all of Royal Caribbean's new cruise ships in recent years.

Radiance in dry dock

On the final night of the August 25th sailing, some guests reported hearing a noise that seemed to come from the direction of the engines. 

There's all sorts of speculation as to what the possible malfunction could be, but there's nothing but rumors at this point.

Given that Radiance is headed south, it stands to reason the ship needs to go somewhere else to conduct repairs.  Seward is not a major cruise port, so it may not have the personnel, parts, or both needed.

"We're gutted"

Radiance of the Seas docked in Vancouver

As you might imagine, anyone booked on on the cancelled cruise is likely disappointed and disheartened of the change.

"We're gutted. Months planning this trip to celebrate our 10 year anniversary down the drain with no time to pivot," is what SnuggleCookie posted on Reddit about the now cancelled cruise.

"This was so much more than a cruise or anniversary for us. It's been a hard couple of years and this trip has felt like our only light to look forward to."

"Absolutely devastated."


Royal Caribbean cancels Radiance of the Seas sailing to due to propulsion problem

02 Sep 2023

An issue with one Royal Caribbean cruise ship's engines has forced the line to cancel an entire sailing.

Radiance of the Seas in Icy Strait Point

Guests booked on the September 1 sailing of Radiance of the Seas were informed on embarkation day that their cruise would have to be cancelled.

Royal Caribbean informed guests that the issue began as Radiance of the Seas was completing her open-jaw sailing to Seward, Alaska. On that sailing, the ship departed Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, sailed the inside passage to Alaska, and then concluded the cruise in Seward.

Royal Caribbean Blog reader Antonio Ceritelli shared the letter he received to inform him of the cancellation. 

Radiance of the Seas in Seward, Alaska

"On our return to Seward, Alaska, Radiance of the Seas' propulsion system experienced a technical issue which impacts the ship's speed," a letter explained to passengers.

The letter did not specify exactly which aspect of the propulsion system was impacted.

Letter sent to passengers on Radiance of the Seas

"Unfortunately, our teams were unable to complete the needed repairs to be able to depart today on our sailing. As a result, we'll be cancelling this current sailing."

Radiance of the Seas was scheduled to offer a 7-night Southbound Alaska & Hubbard Glacier sailing.

Radiance of the Seas in Alaska waters

Radiance of the Seas is a 90,900 gross ton Radiance Class cruise ship. She had her maiden voyage in 2001.

Radiance is a smaller ship by today's standards, and has a capacity of 2,466 guests at double occupancy.

She is 962 feet long.

In the meantime, guests can stay aboard Radiance as a floating hotel until Sunday, so they have time to figure out their travel plans.

Radiance of the Seas in Alaska

There is no word yet as to if other upcoming sailings will be affected by the issue.


Radiance of the Seas

Cancelling an entire cruise is quite a rare occurrence, and as a result, the compensation to make it up to passengers is their attempt to soften the blow of the news.

"We're truly sorry for this disappointing news," is what Royal Caribbean wrote in their letter to guests and expressed what those on the now cancelled sailing can expect to receive. 

Guests booked on this sailing are entitled to  a 100% refund, including taxes and fees, pre-paid packages and gratuities, amenities, shore excursions and any flights purchased through Royal Caribbean.

Radiance pool deck in Alaska

Additionally, to make up for this, passengers will also receive a 100% Future Cruise Credit (FCC) to be used towards a future sailing departing within one year.

The cruise line will also cover any pre-paid transportation change fees up to $600 USD.

Royal Caribbean will also assist in rebooking flights, regardless of if you originally booked your flights through the cruise line.

Radiance of the Seas seal

Since Radiance will act as a floating hotel in the interim, guests can enjoy the ship as follows:

  • The bars will be open and all wine by the glass, beer, and spirits will complimentary.
  • Complimentary internet services will be available onboard.
  • A daily gratuity will be placed on your account based on your stateroom and the time you stay (pre-paid gratuities were refunded).
  • Entertainment and activities for you to enjoy onboard
  • A complimentary shuttle will be available to take into Seward. 

What's wrong with the ship?

Radiance of the Seas azipod

Royal Caribbean's only official comment on the problem is that the ship's "propulsion system experienced a technical issue which impacts the ship's speed."

One cruiser aboard the ship, was told by Guest Service that one of the Azipod's has a problem, and that technicians from ABB are going to the ship to assess the situation.

Azipods are multidirectional pods that drive the ship and can be rotated 360 degrees, providing the ship maximum maneuverability and are have been the standard form of propulsion for all of Royal Caribbean's new cruise ships in recent years.

Radiance of the Seas azipod

It's important to note that report is merely a second-hand report.

Another person that was on the previous sailing reported Radiance made it into Seward a couple of hours late due to the technical issue.

Not the first time this happened

Radiance of the Seas bow

An entire cruise cancelled due to a technical issue is quite rare, but not unheard of.

In 2018, Radiance of the Seas had an 11-night Australia cruise cancelled also due to a problem with the ship's Azipod propulsion system.

Other cruise ships have had propulsion issues that forced a cancellation or at least an itinerary change. It's more common for the ship speed to be affected and itinerary changed than the entire sailing cancelled.

Granduer of the Seas

Grandeur of the Seas had a propulsion issue cancel a cruise in March 2019.

Propulsion problems are not uncommon among cruise ships, resulting in slower speeds until the issue can be addressed in port. Anthem of the Seas had a similar issue in March 2017Liberty of the Seas in 2015Freedom of the Seas in 2014, and even Allure of the Seas back in 2013.

In short, it's a very rare occurrence for a propulsion issue to hamper a ship, and even rarer for it to cancel a cruise.

Importance of travel insurance

While the chances of your cruise being cancelled due to a technical issue like this are extremely rare, it's nonetheless a good reminder how important travel insurance is to any traveler.

Travel insurance is an optional add-on for any cruise that provides additional coverage should an unexpected event occur, including your cruise being cancelled.

It's far more common for travel insurance to be useful in other scenarios, such as a cancelled flight, lost luggage, loss of employment, death in the family, or injury on a cruise.

travel insurance

Travel insurance policies will greatly depend on the policy you select, and not every single scenario is necessary covered.  It's why it is important to review the policy before purchasing so you know what you're getting.

While Royal Caribbean's compensation is generous in this situation with Radiance of the Seas, it may not cover all of your travel expenses.

Airplane flights may cost more than Royal Caribbean will provide, and then there's other travel incidentals including hotels, prepaid tickets, rental cars and more.

Vancouver aerial

Depending on your travel insurance policy, it may cover some or all of these added costs.

Like all insurance, it seems like a waste of money until you actually need the benefits.  If nothing else, travel insurance can provide peace of mind that should the unexpected occur, you'll be covered.

Royal Caribbean redeploys Radiance of the Seas to New Orleans & Galveston in 2023

21 Mar 2022

There's a change of plans for Radiance of the Seas winter plans.

Instead of cruising from Australia, Royal Caribbean will be based in New Orleans, Louisiana and Galveston, Texas.

The original plan was for Radiance to offer sailings from Sydney, Australia from October 2022 through April 2023. In an email to travel agents, the cruise line acknowledged the disappointment this change has caused, "We know this news may be disappointing, and we apologize for the impact to your clients' vacation plans."

There was no specific reason given why Radiance was deployed away from Australia.

Guests booked on Radiance of the Seas from Sydney will be given options for cancellation or rebooking.

Return to New Orleans

Royal Caribbean Blog - Unofficial blog about Royal Caribbean cruises

Royal Caribbean hasn't sailed from New Orleans since before the pandemic, when Majesty of the Seas was based there.

Traditionally, New Orleans has been a port Royal Caribbean bases its ships from year-round. Instead, it would base ships there temporarily, rather than having a permanent presence.

New sailings

New Orleans bridge

Radiance of the Seas will offer a Panama Canal crossing from Los Angeles on October 20, 2022, when she will begin sailing from New Orleans 

Radiance will begin her New Orleans cruises on November 3, 2022 with a 4-night Western Caribbean cruise.

20 Radiance Class cruise ship tips and secrets | Royal Caribbean Blog

Once in New Orleans, Radiance will offer 4-7 night Western Caribbean cruises that visit destinations in Mexico, Belize, Jamaica, and and Cayman islands.

In early 2023, Radiance moves to Galveston, Texas where she will offer 7-10 night Western Caribbean cruises.

The new Radiance of the Seas cruises are not yet available to book.

Radiance of the Seas to sail from Brisbane, Australia in 2020

19 Mar 2019

Royal Caribbean will offer over 20 sailings out of Brisbane, Australia from November 2020 to destinations in the South Pacific. 

Radiance will first under go a multi-million dollar dry-dock in 2020 and then homeport from Brisbane.

Radiance of the Seas will be the largest ship to sail from the Brisbane International Cruise Terminal in late-2020.

Royal Caribbean planning its biggest deployment ever to Alaska in 2020

07 Nov 2018

Royal Caribbean announced today it plans to send three ships to Alaska in 2020, marking the cruise line’s biggest presence in the region yet.

Ovation of the Seas, Radiance of the Seas and Serenade of the Seas will offer sailings to The Last Frontier in 2020. Before arriving to the Last Frontier, Ovation and Radiance will island-hop along Hawaii, while Serenade sails the Panama Canal and Golden Coast on her way west. 

Ovation of the Seas will return for its second consecutive season to offer 7-night itineraries from Seattle, Wash. 

For the first time since 2009, Serenade of the Seas will head west as it repositions from a winter in the sunny Southern Caribbean to Vancouver, British Columbia, making 2020 Royal Caribbean’s first summer season with three ships in Alaska. Serenade will sail 7-night itineraries through the 500 miles of shoreline that is the Inside Passage, calling on Ketchikan, Juneau and Icy Strait Point, Alaska.

Radiance of the Seas will once again offer 7-night, open-jaw itineraries between Vancouver and Seward, Alaska.

In repositioning to their seasonal summer homeports, all three ships will chart their own course through exotic and off-the-beaten-path locales to discover cultural treasures. Serenade of the Seas will sail through one of the largest and legendary engineering projects ever undertaken as she makes her way from Fort Lauderdale, Fla. to Los Angeles, Calif. on a 15-night Westbound Panama Canal sailing departing May 4, 2020. Along the journey, guests can encounter the charming cultures of Central America with visits to Cartagena, Colombia; Colon, Panama; Puntarenas, Costa Rica; Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala; and Puerto Vallarta and Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. On May 19, 2020, Serenade will then head over to Vancouver, British Columbia to navigate the Pacific Coast on a 7-night sailing.

Both Ovation and Radiance of the Seas will say aloha to the islands of Hawaii. Ovation will embark on its 12-night cruise from Honolulu, visiting Maui (Lahaina), Kailua Kona and Kilauea Volcano, Hawaii, on May 7, 2020. Also sailing from Honolulu and departing on May 5, 2020, Radiance will offer a 10-night itinerary to the Last Frontier with ports of call including Maui (Lahaina), Kailua Kona, Hilo and Kauai (Nawiliwili), Hawaii.

Royal Caribbean’s 2020 Alaska cruises open for bookings on Thursday, Nov. 8; Crown & Anchor Society loyalty members are able to book one day prior.

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