When Royal Caribbean debuted its first-in-class Radiance of the Seas in 2001, passengers raved about the light that came streaming through the ship's glassy exterior. Add this to a regular refurbishment program and it's no surprise Radiance of the Seas continues to retain loyal fans and win new ones, especially with the line's other ships increasing in size. With plenty of lounge areas and bars, this is a convivial ship that lends itself to socialising and good times, especially if you are up for a sing-along around the piano or a game of trivia in the Schooner Bar.
Radiance of the Seas is known as Royal Caribbean's "dining ship" in Australia as it has such a large number of free and for-a-fee dining options, especially given its modest size. With restaurants dedicated to juicy steaks, Italian, South American and Japanese cuisine -- and that's just the specialities -- it's the perfect ship for those who enjoy good food and cruising in equal measure.
However, the main attraction is still the midsized ship's warm, light-loving design. With vast expanses of open space and floor-to-ceiling windows at every turn, you might even find yourself wearing sunglasses inside. In fact, half of the ship's exterior is glass -- and there are even outside elevators spanning 12 decks. With sea views from many bars and lounges, there are plenty of places to curl up with a good book during the day or enjoy the sunset with a refreshing drink in hand as the evening’s live entertainment kicks off.
With some of the best features from other Royal Caribbean ships, Radiance offers plenty of diversity while maintaining an intimate vibe afforded by its modest size.
If you prefer a mainstream cruise experience on a smaller ship and enjoy dining out, you will find plenty to enjoy onboard Radiance of the Seas.
For more details about cabins, dining and things to do, see the separate sections of this review.
Brisbane, Cairns, Port Douglas, Australia, Brisbane
Brisbane, Noumea, Mystery Island, Port Vila, Brisbane
Brisbane, Cairns, Port Douglas, Australia, Brisbane
Royal Caribbean typically appeals to couples and singles in their 30s to 50s, as well as multigenerational families. The median age is in the low 40s on seven-night cruises and in the 30s on three-and four-night cruises. Passengers on cruises 10 days and longer tend to be 50-plus. Radiance of the Seas attracts passengers who are looking for an affordable, active vacation. When the ship sails in North America, count on cruising with mostly Americans and Canadians. When it repositions Down Under, Australians are the predominant nationality onboard.
Onboard the overall vibe is relaxed with cropped trousers, jeans, T-shirts, vest tops, swimsuits, cover-ups and sundresses for women and swimwear, shorts, jeans, collared shirts and T-shirts for men dominating during the day. T-shirts, shorts and flip-flops/thongs are acceptable for lunch throughout the ship, but swimsuits, robes, bare feet, vest tops, baseball caps and pool wear are not permitted in the main restaurants or speciality restaurants at any time.
At dinner, the dress code is smart casual for women, which Royal Caribbean sets out as skirt or trousers (no holes, rips or tears) with a blouse. While jeans are perfectly acceptable, many women do opt for dresses and a smarter look. For men, the code is trousers (no holes, rips or tears) with a collared shirt. Two formal nights are typically scheduled on seven-day voyages, with the majority of men opting for a dark suit or sports jacket instead of a tuxedo.
One of Royal Caribbean's smaller ships; highlights include rock climbing, bungee trampoline, three pools, eight bars and a Ben & Jerry's at sea; holds less than 3,000.
Older ship carrying fewer than 3,000; highlights include rock climbing, two pools, outdoor movie screen and several specialty dining venues including Ben & Jerry's at sea.
Offers three- and four-night cruises; features a rock climbing wall, Johnny Rockets at sea and smallish aqua park; can carry a bit over 2,500 cruisers.
An older ship carrying less than 3,000; features rock climbing, two pools, for-fee nursery, eight bars and lounges and more than half a dozen dining venues.
One of the smaller Royal Caribbean ships, Vision of the Seas carries 2,435 passengers and features six dining venues, rock climbing wall, solarium, outdoor movie screen and age-specific kids' clubs.
In 1999 Royal Caribbean's 3,114-passenger Voyager of the Seas became the largest cruise ship in the world and was heralded as the most revolutionary vessel ever built.
Carries 2,500 passengers, family-friendly and features eight dining venues, outdoor movie screen, casino, mini-golf, pool tables and Adventure Beach with water slides.
The second in the revolutionary Voyager-class series, Explorer of the Seas has a wealth of facilities, activities and entertainment.
Bustling atmosphere; features two-slide water park, simulated surfing, rock climbing, ice skating shows, 15 bars and the line's signature Royal Promenade; can carry upward of 4,000.
Brilliance of the Seas' mediumish size -- 2,112 passengers -- allows cruisers to feel they have the best of both worlds: a vessel with ample activities and attentive crew.
Carries some 4,400 passengers and features surf simulators, rock climbing and ice skating, 11 bars and lounges and the lively Royal Promenade.
Royal Caribbean's 3,114-passenger Mariner of the Seas launched in 2003 and was the first in its class to undergo upgrades designed to create fleet uniformity.
Carries more than 2,400 passengers and features six restaurants and bars, rock climbing wall, mini-golf, sports court, outdoor movie screen and casino.
One of Royal Caribbean's smaller ships; attractions include rock climbing and mini-golf, kids' water slide, half a dozen or so dining venues and family-specific cabins.
Can hold some 5,000 passengers; offers simulated surfing, rock climbing, a mini-golf course, dedicated karaoke bar and 10 dining venues.
The first megaship to hold more than 6,000 cruisers; features high-energy activities like zip lining, surfing and the high-diving AquaTheater.
Carries more than 4,000; features a three-slide water park, surf simulators, rock climbing wall and "Saturday Night Fever: The Musical."
A favourite with U.K. cruise passengers, Independence of the Seas offers more than 4,000 passengers an ice skating rink, whirlpools which extend over the ship's sides, six bars and six restaurants.
Mega-ship holding upwards of 6,400 passengers; features zip lining, surf simulators, rock climbing and an open-air Central Park with shops and restaurants.
Quantum of the Seas dares its passengers not to have fun. It's a bold ship that screams for your attention via its innovative features.
Carries nearly 4,500 passengers and features surf simulators, vertical skydiving, 16 dining venues and some of the largest suites at sea.
World's largest cruise ship featuring high-energy attractions including zip lining, water slides, surf simulators, rock climbing and 18 dining venues.
Royal Caribbean's newest ship will be one of the largest in the world when it launches in spring 2018; high-energy highlights include zip lining, water slides and surf simulators.
Part of Royal Caribbean's Quantum class, Ovation of the Seas boasts high-tech features such as the RipCord by iFly skydiving simulator, bumper cars and robot bartenders.
Royal Caribbean's Cuba ship with stops in Havana; features the Cuba-inspired Boleros lounge and a free mimosa or bloody mary at the daily "Sunday" brunch.
The first Quantum Ultra-Class ship will launch in the spring 2019. The class will be the next evolution of Royal Caribbean's Quantum Class, though the line has not yet said what its size will be.