Trip Report

Australian newspaper reports on Radiance of the Seas cruise down under

In:
13Feb2012

The Sydney Morning Herald sent a writer to check out Royal Caribbean's Radiance of the Seas cruise from Australia to New Zealand and they seemed to be impressed.

Radiance of the Seas departed Sydney for New Zealand's South Island and Milford Sound.  The water was described as "sapphire-blue" and the area as "an untouched wilderness with towering mountains plunging into a freshwater sound, icy water pouring off the hillsides in dramatic waterfalls and jagged, snowcapped peaks tearing through clouds in search of sunlight."

The cruise was of particular interest since this was Radiance's first trip back to Australia after its revitalization this past June that afforded it many new upgrades.  They described the changes as "the hallmarks of a modern liner, with interesting artworks and a trendy interior design. It also has excellent facilities for children, decent shopping opportunities, entertainment options and plenty to keep adults as busy as they choose."

What about the new restaurants?  The writer claims the new specialty restaurants, such as Izumi, Chops Grille and Rita's Cantina, are all worth the extra money.

In addition the upgraded staterooms offer more.  While they found the rooms a little "compact", they found the stateroom to be nicely appointed with plush furninishings.

You can read the full report of their voyage aboard Radiance of the Seas here.

New Zealand travel writer tries out Royal Caribbean

In:
25Jan2012

Travel writer Keri Welham took three generations of her family on an 8-night Royal Caribbean cruise of the South Pacific to try it out. As she puts it, cruising isn't just for bingo-playing seniors and hyper-tanned singles.

Welham brought her toddler to the cruise, which presented a challenge since she felt a lot of the ship's amenities for children were aimed at older kids.  She did mention there wer children's play groups scheduled but had to be canceled due to sickness. She did manage to find stuff for her child in the form of a kids pool.

Welham enjoyed the Royal Caribbean staff too, "The Royal Caribbean staff – who made a lasting impression with their friendliness and willingness to help – dropped us off a backpack of age-appropriate educational toys from the onboard toy library, which helped the toddler settle into our room and bought us roughly 10 glorious minutes of silence each day."

Food was also a big hit, "Mealtimes were a dream. Instead of standing in the kitchen trying to fathom where her food whims might lie today, I could wander around the buffet grabbing just a mouthful of a variety of things and she'd try them all until we found something she wanted."

In all, it sounded like Welham enjoyed her cruise, "It was certainly challenging at times but the trade-off was a once-in-a-lifetime experience: We got to take our little girl to Tahiti, introduce her to the spectacle of a mammoth, rolling buffet, dress her up for formal dinners, swim on the top of a 90,090-tonne ship on sunny days, promenade around the decks while moored off Moorea, and watch her fall under the delicate spell of elderly ballroom fanatics on a dance-floor in the middle of the Pacific Ocean."

You can read the full report here.

Royal Caribbean cruise results in family harmony

In:
07Sep2010

A blogger for a New Zealand web site is in the middle of a 10 night cruise and had to report that while everything on the cruise ship was great, what was really awe inspiring was the fact that their two young sons have stopped fighting thanks to the fun of the ship.

The squabbling and bickering has stopped and no one has punched, pinched, kicked or dobbed on anyone for ages. "They're not fighting," my wife whispers, noting that our two boisterous young sons are acting out of character.

Their sons were enrolled in the Adventure Ocean Kids' Club and it sounded like they were happy with the experience in the club.

We can look forward to three themed sessions every day. On selected evenings the staff also host casual dinners so parents can eat alone. Elsewhere onboard there are activity sessions and playgroup meetings for babies and toddlers. And, next to a video-arcade room, is a "teen-only" dance club and lounge room for the older offspring. They have organised activities, too.

Star-Tribune reporter takes a cruise on Freedom of the Seas

In:
11Aug2010

Neil Clarridge of the Star-Tribune, a Virginia newspaper, chronicled his recent cruise aboard Freedom of the Seas.  In part one of a three part series, Clarridge embarked on the cruise as a graduation gift for his oldest daughter.  Clarridge chose the cruise over the traditional beach vacation to avoid the "most disturbing teenage debauchery accessible to high school graduates in our area" and off they went.

Clarridge seemed to enjoy his time on the ship, and tried a few different venues on the first night of their cruise.  Here are some of his thoughts...

  • Balcony stateroom: After supper we retired to our stateroom until the show began at 9. Since we had a balcony in our stateroom, we sat outside and watched the ocean go by.  There was nothing but blue water as far as the eye could see. Luxury surrounded by beautiful desolation.
  • Entertainment for the night: The show was very entertaining. The singers could sing, the dancers could dance, and the comedians were funny.
  • Windjammer: Deck 11 was home to the Windjammer caf/. The quality and quantity of the food was superlative.  We went to the Windjammer for breakfast and lunch.

Brilliance of the Seas: Not only for oldies

In:
06Aug2010

The Evening Herald, an Irish newspaper, sent a reporter to cruise on Brilliance of the Seas to check it out.  The reporter flew to Dubai to board Brilliance and came into the assignment with the notion that cruises were for old people but that seemed to quickly disappear once he boarded the ship.

I feared that I was entering a floating retirement home, where dinner would take place at 5pm, and a game of bingo would set you up nicely for hitting the hay at 8pm. But in truth, the stereotype didn't stick.

The stateroom seemed to be more than he was expecting and his only issue was with the shower, which he found small and the shower head wasn't very accurate.  Otherwise, he found the stateroom a nice place to spend the next few nights.

He also documented much of the activities and entertainment on Brilliance of the Seas, taking time to explore the ship properly.

The boat's central atrium, its regular clinking of glasses accompanying the tinkling of a piano, gave it the feel of a plush hotel lobby, and lulled you into the mood to slump into a comfy seat and gorge yourself on brandies.

Like many who go on cruises, food was a big deal and he seemed to be rather impressed with what he found both in the complimentary dining as well as elsewhere on the ship.

The food on board was a revelation. The main restaurant, which served buffet meals all day, catered for every imaginable taste, all laid out in a cavernous area which meant that there was no queuing, and no scramble for seats, even though up to 800 people could be eating at any one time.

I dined in Portofino, and it was better than any Italian restaurant I've been to in Dublin.

Overall, the author seemed happy with his experience and definitely seemed to be recommending a cruise aboard Brilliance of the Seas to everyone.

Matt's Pre-Trip Report on Oasis of the Seas

In:
01Jul2010

Later this month, I will embark upon a 7 night cruise aboard Oasis of the Seas and wanted to write a pre-trip report before the final trip report comes down.

Who

Me and my 4 month pregnant wife
My parents
My sisters (older than 18)

Earlier this year, my parents voiced their desire to go on a family cruise.  We have been veteran cruisers of the Caribbean, so we wanted to take a different itinerary than normal.  Originally, we were looking for a cruise to Alaska but my sisters, always looking to worship the sun gods, preferred an itinerary that was a little warmer.  The next idea was to cruise on Mariner of the Seas out of Los Angeles and do a Mexican Riviera cruise.  My wife and I planned that we would fly out a few days early and spend some time at Disneyland and all would be perfect.  

Well, then my father decided he wanted to cruise on something bigger than Mariner (seriously) and we mentioned that it doesn't get much bigger than Oasis of the Seas.  After looking into it, we all agreed on taking Oasis of the Seas, departing Fort Lauderdale on July 24, 2010.  

Cabins

We have booked 3 cabins for this cruise.  My wife and I have a cabin that overlooks Central Park (as do my sisters), while my parents have a veranda balcony over the ocean.  My wife and I are usually fine with inside cabins (we'd rather spend the money elsewhere) but the Central Park cabin gives us a balcony to sit on and people watch, which will be fun.  

Itinerary

Our cruise will stop at 3 islands, Labadee, Costa Maya and Cozumel.

Labadee: Our plan will be a beach day here.  Everyone has been to Labadee before and we will find a spot on the beach somewhere.  Currently, Barefoot beach seems like a good choice and so we're going to go there.  I'm particularly happy that the ship can now dock at Labadee, as I've always found tenders to be incredibly slow and inefficient.

Costa Maya: Plans for this stop are still very much up in the air.  My sisters will likely opt for the beach but my dad really wants to check out the Mayan ruins.  His plan is to do this at Cozumel but I've heard good things about the Mayan Ruins at Costa Maya and so I'd like to take a tour here instead since I'm not keen on spending all day at the beach.  One excursion to the Chacchoben Mayan Ruins sounds pretty interesting so we will need to discuss this stop some more.

Cozumel: I love Cozumel and my wife and I could spend days here.  Our plan is to spend the morning in the city of Cozumel doing shopping and having lunch.  Last time we were here, we went to Pancho's Backyard for lunch, which was good but it didn't feel very authentic. This time, I'm looking for some real Mexican food for lunch, so we will need to do some more research.  After lunch, we're going to take a taxi over to Paradise Beach to spend some time enjoying the beach there.  We had a great time last time at Paradise Beach and looking forward to it once more.  Not sure what the rest of my family is planning for Cozumel. I'm hoping to change my dad's plan for Mayan Ruins to Costa Maya (as previously mentioned) so we will see what they have in mind, but I kind of like the idea of spending this day with just my wife.

Ship Plans

Needless to say, Oasis of the Seas is one big ship.  Given that we are only making 3 stops, the emphasis of this cruise is spending time on the ship.  My wife is a show junky, and so she plans to go to every show on every evening.  Like a good husband, I will likely go to them as well.  The Broadway musical "Hairspray" is playing and I'm looking forward to seeing that (we have tickets for it already).  The rest of the shows don't do as much for me but we will see.

While my wife loves shows, I love the restaurants and I can't wait to check them all out.  We have a reservation already for Giovanni's Table already but I'm hoping to be able to stop at Izumi, the sushi restaurant.  I love sushi and could eat it every day so I really want to go here at least once.  The other restaurants are less intriguing for us, but we're going to leave it up in the air.  We are fans of the main dining room, so getting to know our servers and that whole experience is important to us.

Aside from that, our plans for the ship aren't laid out.  There's going to be a lot of exploring and a lot of time spent at the pools.  We're about 3 weeks away from our cruise and I can't wait!