Radiance of the Seas

Comparing the Royal Caribbean ships sailing in Alaska


If a Royal Caribbean cruise to Alaska is in the plans for 2020, then you have three great ships to consider.

Each of these ships offers onboard activities, signature attractions and specialty dining options that will compliment a vacation to the Last Frontier quite well.

Since there are a few different options for a Royal Caribbean Alaska cruise, here is a breakdown of what to expect from each.

Ovation of the Seas

Homeport: Seattle, Washington

Ports: Juneau, Skagway, the Inside Passage and Victoria, BC.

For the second year in a row, Royal Caribbean will send its Quantum Class favorite to Alaska to offer 7-night Alaska Glacier cruises (there is also a 6- and 3-night cruise also available).

Ovation of the Seas is one of the largest ships in the region, offering some of the latest innovations Royal Caribbean is known for onboard the ship. 

  • North Star observational pod takes guests 300 feet above sea level.
  • FlowRider surf simulator
  • Ripcord by iFly sky diving simulator
  • Izumi sushi
  • Chops Grille steakhouse
  • Jamie's Italian restaurant
  • Two70 theater
  • SeaPlex indoor gymnasium that offers basketball, roller skating, bumper cars and more.
  • Indoor pool for all ages
  • Solarium indoor pool for adults-only
  • Adventure Ocean childrens programming
  • Nursery for babies
  • Outdoor movie screen

Sailing from Seattle, getting to Ovation of the Seas by air is the least-expensive and most convenient choice of Royal Caribbean's Alaska fleet. Flights within the United States tend to be cheaper to Seattle, compared to Vancouver departures.

Why pick Ovation of the Seas

Ovation of the Seas offers the greatest variety of activities, things to do and dining on a Royal Caribbean ship to Alaska. 

In fact, it is among the newest and largest ships to sail to Alaska, which means guests used to a certain level of amenities on their Royal Caribbean cruises in the Caribbean will not miss a beat.

The indoor pools for guests of all ages and the indoor SeaPlex provide significantly more activities for guests in a place where rain and chilly temperatures are constantly present. Pool deck life on other ships is nearly nonexistent compared to Ovation.

Moreover, the ship sails from the convenient port of Seattle, which makes airfare cheaper and more plentiful for Americans.

Radiance of the Seas

Homeports: Vancouver, BC and Seward, Alaska

Ports: Juneau, Ketchikan, Skagway, Icy Strait Point; the Inside Passage and Hubbard Glacier (scenic cruising).

Radiance of the Seas has been one of the most consistently deployed ships by Royal Caribbean to Alaska, and she returns in 2020 to offer even-night, open-jaw itineraries between Vancouver and Seward, Alaska. 

Radiance will alternate her sailings between northbound and southbound routes, which means her sailings begin in one port, and conclude in another port.

Guests looking to maximize their time in Alaska can opt to add on a landtour that can extend their cruise before or after (or both) to visit destinations inland that would otherwise be unavailable to see on a cruise ship.

Radiance of the Seas is best known for:

  • Solarium indoor pool for adults-only
  • Chops Grille steakhouse
  • Giovanni's Table Italian restaurant
  • Izumi sushi
  • Rock climbing wall
  • Indoor movie theater
  • An abundance of glass walls and windows to provide views of the outdoors
  • Helipad access at bow of the ship for viewing
  • Mini golf
  • Adventure Ocean childrens programming
  • Nursery for babies
  • Outdoor movie screen

Why pick Radiance of the Seas

Any cruiser that has been to Alaska multiple times will tell you that Radiance of the Seas has arguably the "superior" itinerary, in terms of what you will see and experience from the ship.  Radiance sails to more ports and sees more glaciers than Ovation of the Seas, which means opportunity to see far more of the impressive and best-known glaciers and wildlife in Alaska.

A Radiance Class ship is also famous for the views you can enjoy throughout the ship, since glass is incorporated in many places.  Views around the ship while still inside are plentiful.

If you have the means, an optional land tour can be combined with a Radiance of the Seas cruise to become truly immersed in Alaska.

Serenade of the Seas

Homeports: Vancouver, BC and Seward, Alaska

Ports: Juneau, Ketchikan, Skagway, Icy Strait Point; Sitka, Tracy Arm Fjord (scenic cruising)

Returning to Alaska is Serenade of the Seas for the first time since 2009, and she will offer 7-night roundtrip sailings from Vancouver, British Columbia.

An Alaska cruise on Serenade of the Seas will offer sailings that cover 500 miles of shoreline that is the Inside Passage, calling on Ketchikan, Juneau and Icy Strait Point, Alaska, from Vancouver.

Serenade of the Seas is best known for:

  • Solarium indoor pool for adults-only
  • Chops Grille steakhouse
  • Giovanni's Table Italian restaurant
  • Izumi sushi
  • Rock climbing wall
  • Indoor movie theater
  • An abundance of glass walls and windows to provide views of the outdoors
  • Helipad access at bow of the ship for viewing
  • Mini golf
  • Adventure Ocean childrens programming
  • Nursery for babies
  • Outdoor movie screen

Why pick Serenade of the Seas

Comparing Serenade of the Seas' sailings to sister ship Radiance of the Seas, the basic difference is Serenade offers a more convenient roundtrip sailing, instead of an open-jaw itinerary.

Something else worth noting is that Royal Caribbean has been offering Kids Sail Free offers on all 2020 Serenade of the Seas Alaska sailings, including the popular summer season.  This represents potentially tremendous savings for families looking to explore Alaska.

Like Radiance, Serenade offers add-on land tours as well to enhance the visit.

More Alaska cruise info

Want to learn more about a Royal Caribbean cruise to Alaska, as well as helpful tips and secrets? Check out these blog posts:

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


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


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.

Royal Caribbean releases 2020 Alaska and Hawaii sailings


UPDATE: While the sailings appear on Royal Caribbean's website, the sailings do not appear to be bookable.

Royal Caribbean's website is now showing 2020 Alaska and Hawaii sailings are viewable on the website.

While no official announcement has been made, we were able to browse the Royal Caribbean website to see and book the new sailings.

There will be three ships sailing to Alaska in 2020.

Ovation of the Seas will offer a 12-night sailing from Honolulu to Vancouver on May 7, 2020, before starting 7-night roundtrip Alaska Glacier cruises from Seattle, Washington that will begin later in May 2020. Following her Alaska season, Ovation will sail a 10-night Hawaii cruise from Vancouver to Honolulu.

Radiance of the Seas will first sail from Honolulu, Hawaii to Vancouver in May 2020, prior to offering 9-night Destination Denali open-jaw sailings between Vancouver, British Columbia and Seward, Alaska. She will also offer 10-night and 13-night open-jaw sailings between Seward, Alaska and Vancouver, British Columbia (optionally in both directions). Radiance of the Seas will offer a 10-night Hawaii cruise  from Vancouver, British Columbia to Honolulu, Hawaii in September 2020.

By August 2020, Serenade of the Seas will offer primarily 7-night roundtrip Alaska Glacier cruises from Vancouver, British Columbia. Serenade of the Seas will offer a 11-night Hawaii cruise from Vancouver, British Columbia to Honolulu, Hawaii in September 2020.

Be sure to consult the Royal Caribbean website or your travel professional for further assistance with itinerary options and booking.

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


Royal Caribbean informed guests booked on an upcoming Radiance of the Seas sailing their sailing has been cancelled as a result of needed repairs.

The cruise line announced the upcoming 11-night cruise on Radiance of the Seas departing April 6, 2018 will be cancelled in order to conduct necessary repairs on the ship's Azipod propulsion system, which impacts the ships’ speed and ability to deliver future scheduled cruises.

Repairs to Radiance of the Seas will take place from April 6 to April 17.

Royal Caribbean adding new stateroom categories for 2019 Alaska sailings on Radiance of the Seas


Royal Caribbean announced beginning with the 2019 deployment season, Radiance of the Seas sailings will feature two new stateroom categories within Ocean View and Balcony accommodations — Northbound Preferred and Southbound Preferred.

This change will appear with the opening of 2019 Alaska sailings on Radiance of the Seas, which is scheduled for the week of December 11, 2017. These stateroom categories offer guaranteed premium views of the scenic Alaskan coast. Royal Caribbean hopes this change will eliminate confusion about which side of the ship is more desirable.

The new stateroom categories offer, "guaranteed premium views of the scenic Alaskan coast" and is applicable to Radiance of the Seas sailings between May 5, 2019 and August 30, 2019.



7 fun facts about Royal Caribbean's Radiance of the Seas


While Radiance of the Seas had her maiden voyage in 2001, she remains a staple of Royal Caribbean's fleet.  Built in Papenburg, Germany at the Meyer Werft shipyard, many guests from all over the world have enjoyed cruises on her. 

Looking back on her history, we dug through Radiance of the Seas' history to share with you seven fun facts about this fantastic ship. Whether you have sailed on her before, or are planning on taking a cruise soon, check out what makes Radiance of the Seas so special.

Designed to sail the world

When Royal Caribbean build Radiance of the Seas, they called her a "New Generation World Cruiser," because she was intended to sail worldwide itineraries.

The 88,000 tons ship is build to be flexible and to cruise comfortably in destinations from Alaska to the Pacific Northwest to Hawaii to the Panama Canal to the Caribbean. In the years since, Radiance of the Seas has even found her way to Australia and the South Pacific.

Radiance of the Seas is faster and has better maneuverability because of a combination of an Azipod propulsion system, unusually powerful bow thrusters, and a dynamic positioning system that uses GPS navigator to allows the ship to maintain a better position.

Radiance of the Seas was designed to be linked to the water in both warm and cool climates.  The abundance of windows, stateroom verandas, the wall of glass along the atrium, and the all-glass elevators facing the seas were all elements introduced in order to foster a relationship between the vessel's interior and the landscape design.

Incorporated a lot of Voyager Class amenities

Radiance of the Seas debuted just after the first Voyager Class ships launched, Voyager of the Seas and Explorer of the Seas.  As a result, Radiance features main cutting-edge features that she inherited.

The Steering Committee responsible for Radiance of the Seas' very being knew they wanted to incorporate many of Voyager of the Seas' entertainment and dining options, the global itineraries of the Vision Class ships, and some new innovations as well.

Specifically, Senior Vice President of Marine Operations Harri Kulovaara said, "We wanted to use some of the elements of the Voyager class and put them into a Panamax-size ship.  We wanted the ship to be sleek and represent something new in the exterior design, to be more of a mega-yacht and less of a bulky megaship."

Ushered in new design of Viking Crown Lounge

Royal Caribbean made a name for itself with its signature space, the Viking Crown Lounge.  It was originally created in 1970 for Song of Norway, and became so popular it continued be a staple of Royal Caribbean ship design.  Over the years, as ships grew in size, the Viking Crown Lounge grew, too, and starting with the Vision Class ships in 1995, moved from its position on the smokestacks to a nearby larger spot amidships with equally stunning views.

While you will still find a Viking Crown Lounge on Radiance of the Seas, the Viking Crown Lounge has evolved into an entertainment complex, with several venues under one roof. 

On Radiance of the Seas, RTKL/Snoweiss Design Group created two distinct nightclubs.  Starquest is a "futuristic" disco with revolving bar, while Hollywood Odyssey is a more mellow, intimate spot adorned with Hollywood memorabilia and featuring entertainment from comedians to jazz ensembles. In the years since, Royal Caribbean took some of the space in the Viking Crown Lounge to offer a Concierge Lounge and Diamond Club.


Have you ever noticed the large GTV initials painted on either side of the stern on Radiance of the Seas?

The initials stand for gas turbine vessel, which is an environmentally-conscious approach to ship propulsion.  Radiance of the Seas was the first ship in Royal Caribbean's fleet to have a General Electric gas and steam turbine as its primary source of power.  The power plant is more efficient and cleaner than traditional diesel-powered engines on most cruise ships employ.

The power plant on Radiance of the Seas consists of two gas turbines and one steam turbine.  The waste heat from each gas turbine is led through an HRSG (heat recovery steam generator), and steam from this generator is used by the steam turbine. Electricity generated by the turbines then powers the external propulsion pods, ABB Azipods,

The GE gas turbines burn clean distillate fuel, which contains fewer impurities than the fuel oil normally used for diesel-powered vessels, which means Radiance of the Seas has substantially lower exhaust emissions.

Moreover, the ship is quieter and there are substantially fewer vibrations because the rotating engine on Radiance of the Seas does not create the same kind of vibrations as the reciprocating diesel engines used on other ships.

$6 million art collection

Royal Caribbean ships feature lovely collections of art, and Radiance of the Seas is no different. Royal Caribbean commissioned nine architectural design teams to create the interior and exterior spaces on Radiance of the Seas. Each firm worked closely with London Contemporary Art to create the ship's fabulous $6 million collection.

The art collection on Radiance of the Seas includes paintings, sculptures, and other pieces by more than 100 different artists from countries around the world, including England, the United States, Norway, France, Italy and South Africa.

The ceiling of the dining-room foyer has a mural of exquisite cumulus clouds painted by Carlos Ozzimo and Associates.  

The electrifying centerpiece of the Centrum, spanning Decks 7 through 11, is the brilliant wire sculpture by artists Warren Seelig and Sherrie Gibson.  This delicately suspended, triple-arched geometric form, composed of softly sweeping translucent architectural mesh and radiating spokes, is meant to create an emotionally uplifting feeling, according to Seelig.

The 12-foot-high cedar totem pole carved for the ship by the famous Native American artist Nathan Jackson of Ketchikan, Alaska, stands guard like a sentry at the Mast Bar on Deck 12. According to Jackson, it tells the story "How the Raven Gave the World the Stars, the Moon and the Sun," from a book of Tlingit Indian traditions by Edward L. Keithahn.

There used to be a coffee and book shop onboard

When Radiance of the Seas debuted, there was a novel space on deck 5 adjacent to the Photo Gallery, called Books Books & Coffee.

Books Books & Coffee was meant to evoke a hip coffee bar scene, with shelves of books and magazines to buy or browse, lots of seating, and four computer stations clad in brushed stainless steel and cherrywood veneer.

The space was touted as an ultramodern bookstore-meets-cafe-meets-Internet center inviting guests to read, shop, or surf the Net while sipping espresso or savoring a chocolate eclair.  

In the years since, the bookstore was removed, and the space is now occupied by the Art Gallery.

Self-leveling pool tables

In the Bombay Billiard Club, guests will find a pair of self-leveling pool tables. 

The tables are gimbaled on a motion-sensitive, motorized gyroscope that counteracts the ship's movements to keep the tables as level as possible.  

At $90,000 each, Royal Caribbean wanted to offer its guests the most state-of-the-art diversions.

What is your favorite aspect of Radiance of the Seas? Did we miss a fact you know about? Share it all in our comments!

Royal Caribbean's Radiance of the Seas makes maiden call to Wollongong, Australia


Royal Caribbean's Radiance of the Seas arrived at the port of Wollongong in New South Wales, Australia, becoming Australia's newest cruise port.

The 2,200 guests on board arrived in Port Kembla at 8am and were welcomed with a special fly-over by a vintage Catalina flying boat, as well as thousands of excited locals waving the ship in from vantage points along the South Coast.

Guests were treated to a special "Welcome to Wollongong" marketplace at Lang Park organized by Destination Wollongong, which showcased local produce and products from the region. More than 400 local volunteers were also on hand throughout the day to help guests get the most out of their day in port.

"We have been working towards our call to Wollongong for quite some time. Guests onboard Radiance of the Seas had a wonderful day exploring the city and local area, making the dedication and hard work that’s gone into this project for the past two and a half years all worthwhile," said Adam Armstrong, managing director, Royal Caribbean Australia & New Zealand. 

Destination Wollongong General Manager, Mark Sleigh said: "When Councillor Leigh Colacino first approached Royal Caribbean to discuss bringing cruise ships to Wollongong, he promised that the community would look after their guests as well as any destination in the world.  I’m delighted that Wollongong more than delivered on that promise, and made the maiden voyage of Radiance of the Seas a day that Wollongong, and indeed our visitors, will never forget!"

This is far from the only stop Royal Caribbean will make at Wollongong.  Over the next 18 months, Voyager of the Seas and Explorer of the Seas will also call here, brining more than 16,000 visitors to the area by the end of the cruise season.

Seven different shore excursions also showcased the region outside of the city, with visits to scenic Bald Hill Lookout, Jamberoo Action Park, Kiama, Shellharbour Village, Symbio Wildlife Park and the tranquil Nan Tien Temple among some of the most popular.

"We are very proud to be the first cruise line to bring a ship to Wollongong and this historic milestone marks the beginning of a long-term relationship between Royal Caribbean and the region. We will continue to explore opportunities to utilize the port as an overflow to Sydney Harbor," Armstrong concluded.

Royal Caribbean to call at the Kingdom of Tonga for the first time


Royal Caribbean announced it will offer cruise stops at the Tongan ports of Vava'u on December 12, 2016 and Nuku’alofa on December 13, 2016 for the very first time.

Radiance of the Seas will offer these new stops in the 2016/2017 cruise season, as part of a 13-night South Pacific, Fiji and Tonga journey.  The cruise begins in Sydney on December 3 2016, and calls at the Isle of Pines in New Caledonia, Lifou in the Loyalty Islands, Suva and Lautoka in Fiji, as well as Tonga, before arriving in Auckland. 

The two new destinations offer a host of experiences unique to Tonga for guests to enjoy, such as the islands of Vava’u are renowned for their coral gardens and sparkling lagoons, while Nuku’alofa, capital of Tonga and home to the only royal family in the Pacific Islands, is a thriving hub of island charm and regal tradition. Guests will have the opportunity to explore the islands further with a range of optional excursions, including whale-watching and snorkeling in Vava’u and a cultural tour in Nuku’alofa.

"We’ve had our eye on Tonga as a destination for our guests for some time, with its vibrant culture, diverse marine life and stunning natural beauty," says Adam Armstrong, managing director for Royal Caribbean International in Australia and New Zealand.

"Radiance of the Seas is the perfect size for us to explore new ports in our region, paving the way for a number of new, exciting destinations for our guests."

A look at Royal Caribbean's refurbishment of Radiance of the Seas


Earlier this month, Royal Caribbean completed a 12-day refurbishment of Radiance of the Seas at Vigor Industrial, in Portland, Oregon.

Photo by Portland Business Journal

Royal Caribbean spent millions on both technical repairs and exterior upgrades to the ship, focusing on three key areas:

  • Updated Staterooms
  • Redesigned Vitality at Sea Spa
  • Refreshed pool deck

There was also work done on steel replacement and general maintenance propeller work.

The work was completed prior to Radiance of the Seas' next deployment to Alaska, where she will offer cruises to the Alaskan wilderness.

The 2,110-passenger capacity cruise ship weighs 90,000 tons and is 961-feet long.