With their classic nautical profiles and interior decor, these are Royal Caribbean's most elegantly traditional ships, though they also offer a lot of the fun and games of RCI's larger vessels, including rock climbing and miniature golf.
Typical Per Diems: $85-$140
Brilliance is not currently sailing from North America.
Jewel sails the Caribbean & Panama Canal from Fort Lauderdale (Jan-Apr 2011). She sails Canada/New England from Boston (Sept-Oct 2011), and she sails the Caribbean from Tampa (Nov 2011-Apr 2012).
Radiance sails the Caribbean from Tampa (Jan-Apr 2011); Alaska from Vancouver and Anchorage/Seward (May-Sept 2011); and Hawaii from Honolulu to Vancouver (Apr 2012).
Serenade sails the Caribbean from San Juan (year-round).
These ships are just plain handsome, with some of the adventure features of their larger Oasis-, Freedom-, and Voyager-class siblings, but a sleeker seagoing profile outside and a more nautical look and feel inside -- and acres of windows to bring the two together. These ships are of more manageable size, too. When you first board, you'll see one of Royal Caribbean's typical wiry modern art sculptures filling the bright, nine-story atrium, but venture a little farther and you'll see that the ships have a much more traditional interior, with dark-wood paneling, caramel-brown leathers, and deep-sea-blue fabrics and carpeting. Some 110,000 square feet of glass covers about half of their sleek exteriors, affording wide-open views from the Viking Crown Lounge, Singapore Sling's piano bar, Crown & Anchor Lounge, Sky Bar, Windjammer Café, and Champagne Bar. The same goes for the atrium, which is an uninterrupted wall of glass from Decks 5 through 10 portside, and has four banks of glass elevators. All this transparency comes in handy in scenic destinations such as Alaska.
Cabins are fairly spacious, with the smallest inside ones measuring 165 square feet and some 75% of outside staterooms measuring at least 180 square feet, some with 40-square-foot verandas. The rest have jumbo-size portholes. Decor is appealing, done in attractive navy blues and copper tones. All cabins have minifridges, hair dryers, interactive televisions (for buying shore excursions, checking your onboard account, and looking up stock quotes), small sitting areas with minicouches, lots of drawer space, roomy closets, bedside reading lights, and TVs. Vanity/desks have pullout trays to accommodate laptops, plus modem jacks to connect them to the Internet. Bathrooms are small, with Royal Caribbean's typical hold-your-breath-and-step-in shower stalls, but they do have lots of storage space.
All but a handful of suites are located on Deck 10. The best, the Royal Suite, measures 1,001 square feet and has a separate bedroom, living room with baby grand piano, dining table, bar, entertainment center, and 215-square-foot balcony. Six Owner's Suites are about half that size, with 57-square-foot balconies, a separate living room, a bar, and a walk-in closet; and the 35 Grand Suites are one step below at 358 to 384 square feet, with sitting areas and 106-square-foot balconies. Three 586-square-foot Royal Family Suites have 140-square-foot balconies and two bathrooms and can accommodate six people in two separate bedrooms (one with third and fourth berths, and another two on a pullout couch in the living room). Suite guests are treated to complimentary in-cabin butler service in addition to cabin stewards, and there's also a Concierge Club on Deck 10, where suite guests can request services and grab a newspaper.
One snag on the balcony front: On each ship, Cabin Decks 7 through 10 are narrower than those on the rest of the ship, resulting in cabin balconies on Deck 10 (many of them suites) being shaded by the overhanging deck above. Meanwhile, cabin balconies on the aft and forward ends of Deck 7, being indented, look out onto the top of Deck 6 instead of directly out onto the sea. Balconies on cabin nos. 7652 to 7670 and nos. 7152 to 7170, also aft on Deck 7, are not completely private because the dividers between them don't go all the way to the edge of the space. Keep your clothes on; your neighbors can look right over at you.
Fifteen cabins on each ship can accommodate wheelchair users.
Our favorite space aboard is the cluster of five intimate, wood-and-leather lounges on Deck 6, which recall the decor of classic yachts, university clubs, and cigar lounges. Expect low lighting, inlaid wood flooring, cozy couches, and Oriental-style area rugs. The best of these rooms is the romantic piano bar and lounge that stretches across each ship's stern, with a bank of floor-to-ceiling windows. For amazing views, don't miss having a cocktail here on a moonlit night. Adjacent is a lovely colonial-style Billiard Club boasting herringbone wood floors, redwood veneer paneling, and a pair of ultra-high-tech gyroscopic pool tables. No excuse for missing shots: The tables compensate for the ship's movements, staying remarkably level.
The main theaters are refreshingly different from most in the cruise biz, with a cool ambience, warm wood tones, and seats in deep-sea blues and greens. Artful handmade curtains, indirect lighting, and fiber optics all come together to create a quiet, ethereal look. But guys, watch those protruding armrests: It's very easy to snag your pants pockets on them.
Other public areas include the attractive Casino Royale, with more than 200 slot machines and dozens of gaming tables; a baseball-themed sports bar with interactive games on the bar top; the nautically themed Schooner Bar; a 24-hour Internet center; a specialty-coffee bar with several Internet stations; a small library; a conference-center complex with a small movie theater; and, high up on Deck 13, Royal Caribbean's signature Viking Crown Lounge, which is divided between a quiet lounge and a large disco with a rotating bar. Even the ships' high-style public bathrooms are impressive, with their marble floors and counters and funky portholelike mirrors.
The huge kids' area on Deck 12 includes a sprawling playroom divided into several areas, with a video arcade and an outdoor pool with water slide. Teens have their own nightclub, with a DJ booth, music videos, and a soda bar.
Pool Fitness & Spa Facilities
The Radiance vessels have tons of recreation outlets and acres of space to flop on a deck chair and sunbathe. At the main pool, passengers pack in like sardines on sunny days at sea, and deck chairs can be scarce during the prime hours before and after lunch -- par for the cruise ship course. On Radiance, the Pool Deck is presided over by a 12-foot-high cedar totem pole carved for the ship by Alaska Native artist Nathan Jackson of Ketchikan.
Much more relaxing are the ships' large, lush Solariums, with their exotic eastern motifs. Tropical foliage and waterfalls impart an Asian-spa mood, and stone reliefs, regional woodcarvings, and statues drive home the mood. The area's adjacent (and popular) pizza counter adds a little pandemonium to the otherwise serene scene (as can kids, if they happen to find the place), but overall this is a great spot to settle in for a lazy afternoon at sea. The padded wooden chaise longues are heavenly. The adjacent spa has 13 treatment rooms and a special steam-room complex with heated tiled lounges and showers that simulate tropical rain and fog.
The Sports Deck has a 9-hole miniature-golf course and golf simulators, a jogging track, a rock-climbing wall attached to the funnel, and a combo basketball, volleyball, and paddle-tennis court. The sprawling oceanview gym has a huge aerobics floor and dozens of exercise machines, including sea-facing treadmills and elliptical stair-steppers.
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Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.