Radiance of the Seas, An Alaskan Cruise For Foodies and Families
In September 2022, I went on my first cruise to Alaska aboard Royal Caribbean’s Radiance of the Seas. I will start off by saying that yes, it was overall pretty awesome and filled with once-in-a-lifetime experiences. I won’t get too much into the excursions though here. This particularly post will just go into the pros and cons of the ship itself to better help you plan your perfect getaway sailing the high seas!
Table of Contents
Plan Your Fun-Filled Itinerary
Wifi & Drink Packages
|Above Deck Amenities|
|Below Deck Amenities|
|A Foodie’s Paradise|
Get all the Radiance on a Budget
Radiance of the Seas is one of 27 Royal Caribbean ships and is one of the oldest, being built in 2001. Don’t get me wrong though — old doesn’t mean dirty or not nice at all. This ship is pretty swanky and elegantly designed and boasts the most glass of any of their ships, even the elevator is all glass. The downside is that it has less amenities than some of the newer ships. But the plus side of that is tickets are SO stinking cheap! I was able to buy two tickets for just $1100 all-inclusive, which is a total steal for what you get.
A ship for foodies and families alike
If you’re looking for something that is family-friendly, this is the ship for you, especially since you can save so much per head with the low prices. Or if you’re looking to indulge in good food and drinks (for all my foodies out there), this ship is also for you too! My boyfriend and I went with his two aunts, so we weren’t exactly looking for hardcore partying or anything. But if you’re okay with a more chill nightlife — with plenty of drinking still — then climb aboard!
Plan Your Fun-filled Itinerary
As far as activities, you’ll want to download the Royal Caribbean app to keep track of the daily itinerary. It shows every excursion available so if you need to book one last minute, you can do so right on your phone. The app also includes different activities on-board.
There are fun events like themed trivia, live music performances on the main inside deck, fitness classes, putt putt competitions, and movie showings.
And what’s really useful is the money page that shows any charges so you can check for accuracy on anything you spend. And trust me, you’ll want to double check. For some reason, Aidan’s two aunts kept getting charged for the other’s charges as if the boat’s system had them mixed up, so they had several trips to Guest Services to get it worked out.
Additional Packages You’ll spend extra $$ on
Don’t Go Without Wifi
Quick note on additional prices you may or may not end up spending. To have wifi at sea, you’ll have to purchase the wifi package. I spent $175 for 1 device. You may not think you’ll want wifi, but you literally won’t be able to communicate with the people you’re with if you don’t purchase it… Since my boyfriend and I pretty much agreed to go everywhere together, only I got the wifi package. His aunts both got the wifi packages, so the three of us could text each other where to meet up whenever we went separate ways.
There are landline phones in the rooms, but with anyone hardly in the room ever, it’s not great to rely on. Only once did my boyfriend and I get separated where I had absolutely no way to contact or track him until he eventually came back to the room. So if you have kids, keep them close.
Quick note on safety
Another reason to travel using the buddy system… There’s no one monitoring every edge of the top deck. We heard from a friend a horror story on their cruise in the Caribbean where a guy was drinking too much and fell off the ship into the water and was found by another ship. In Alaska, the water is cold AF, so if you fall in, you probably won’t make it out alive. Just saying. And check out the fog we were up against in the video below — keep away from the edges people!
If You Drink Like a Sailor
On another hand, if you like to drink a lot — not just alcoholic beverages, but also coffee and any other specialty drink or bottled water — you’ll want to buy the unlimited drink package. For seven days, it’s about $700 and they had a deal where you could do buy-one-get-one half off. I didn’t need it since I hardly ever had more than three drinks in a day to make it worth it.
My boyfriend and one of his aunts did the BOGO deal together. For Aidan, who paid the half off price in the deal, it got to the point where he was forcing himself to drink more just to get his money’s worth LOL. But he did rather enjoy getting his daily morning Starbucks.
the Suite Life on Deck
Being above deck on Radiance of the Seas provides some pretty wild views, especially while sailing the coast of Alaska. On the other hand, because you’re sailing through Alaska (in September), the top deck doesn’t get much use. There are some cool amenities that make this ship perfect for a warmer time of year in Alaska or a different destination like the Caribbean.
The coolest parts about the deck is that it comes with a putt-putt course, a rock-climbing wall, a pool, two hot tubs, a basketball court, and an outdoor track.
But don’t let me sell you too hard on going during the warmer climates… Seeing glaciers and also massive huge whales up close is seriously unreal and worth a trip to go see, even in less busier traveling times like September.
Most people during our cruise just utilized the deck for viewing things like the glaciers we came across while sailing. The wind otherwise just gets too cold to be out there for long periods of time, especially at night! Aidan and I even dared to get in the outdoor hot tubs one night… HUGE mistake. The water isn’t all that hot to begin with like you’d expect a hot tub to be, and getting out is actually quite painful with how frigid cold the weather was.
Below Deck Amenities
Obviously being inside the ship was a lot more ideal. Again, the design alone is incredible, especially how you can view the main floor from the balconies of every floor above it.
There’s a theatre with live performances, an art gallery, small shops with designer watches and purses, plenty of bars and restaurants, a casino, and the solarium with an indoor pool and hot tub.
The solarium in Radiance of the Seas definitely seems like it’d be the main spot to go, but to be quite honest, it’s fairly small with only one hot tub. And seeing as most people wanted to avoid using the above deck hot tubs, this one was almost always full.
Find Your Zen at The Spa
There’s also the spa, which initially impressed me although I didn’t end up spending so much time there. The spa in Radiance of the Seas has quite a lot. It has an open sauna and steam room, along with a private one. Plus, there’s an entire salon to get your nails and even your hair done if needed. And of course you can get massages here as well.
I actually got my nails done once my at-home manicure started to come off and the girl did a really great job fixing me up. I also added the hot stone massage to my manicure, which was so soothing and also not too expensive at around $80.
Quick note on spa hygiene
Fair warning — if you’re going to use the spa, use the steam room with caution. I personally hadn’t realized how gross steam rooms can be in general with the humidity causing bacteria growth in some situations, and I’m like 99% certain I got really sick from being in there. And I have a fantastic immune system! Like I hardly ever get sick with all the vitamins and supplements I take. Sure, I could have been exposed earlier than that but if so, I still think the steam room fully depleted my immune system. I mean my entire throat started to feel so scratchy within a few hours and the next day I had a full on cold that didn’t go away for a few days.
Get Your Sweat on in The Fitness Center
The workout room was quite spacious and had all the machines you could want. Aidan and I went almost every day and were fairly surprised at how few people spent time in there LOL. I am only slightly judging people because we were definitely stuffing our faces with food and drinks all day long so I KNOW everyone else was too!!! But y’all do you…
For those who like to lift weight, there’s plenty of free weights and machines. And there’s a ton of cardio machines as well. If you travel on your cruise during peak summer seasons, there’s an enforced 30 minute rule on treadmills, so keep that in mind. In the middle of the gym, there is also an open floor for group classes! Some of them looked pretty fun, although I didn’t make it to any of the times.
WARNING — treadmills at sea are not as stable as they appear
The only annoying thing about the gym in Radiance of the Seas is the treadmills. When the ship is moving, the motion makes it hard not to lose your balance on the treadmill. No seriously, like I almost fell a couple times while running when the boat was at full speed. To be fair though, Aidan was running much faster than me and didn’t manage to lose his balance at all… But it wasn’t just me — most people couldn’t run for very long on there. ALSO, the treadmills weren’t always accurate (I know, weird right?) Apparently, because of the boat’s movement, the treadmills don’t accurately track how far you’ve gone or how fast you’re actually going. I normally run between 5 and 6.5 mph max for a steady long run, and I was getting up to 10 mph at times! Okay, rant over.
Rooms like the Titanic
Radiance of the Seas offers four types of rooms: interior with no window or obstructed views, outside view with a window, balcony rooms, and suites.
Originally, Aidan and I booked a room with no window to save a little money — we figured we wouldn’t need a window anyway since we’d be exploring the cruise all day. Luckily though, his aunts upgraded us to a room with a window! It’s not much more in price (roughly $200), but it’s definitely worth having a window. The views you get while at sea are unlike any other. They’re just breathtaking.
Aidan’s aunts got a room with a balcony, which was even cooler to see. That’s roughly over $1,000 per person though if you’re willing to spend the extra money. But honestly, after being on the ship, I’d say it’s worth the price in warmer months for sure. In colder months, you’re not spending much time outside anyway, but since Radiance of the Seas is fairly small with less amenities, I could totally see myself spending time out on the balcony, even at night.
Toilets for tiny people
The only downside to the rooms in Radiance of the Seas is how tiny the bathroom is! I can imagine if you booked a suite though, maybe the showers are a bit bigger? They’re so cramped, and personally, I get super grossed out by touching shower walls in general so it was like my worst nightmare being in this little space with hardly any water pressure or hot water.
Incredible Daily Room Service
What’s cool about the rooms is that you have the same staff member cleaning it everyday. We got to know our guy pretty well and he was fantastic! He’d greet us every morning and as soon as we left for the day, he’d immediately go in and make everything so nice. After Aidan won some money in the casino after a couple days, he tipped the guy like $100, which definitely made the guy like us because after that he folded our towels into fun little animals each night! Aidan’s aunt did say this is something they normally do, but apparently they don’t do it for all the guests since his aunts’ room cleaner never did this for them LOL.
A Foodie’s Dream come True
Remember how I told you at the beginning this cruise is a foodie’s paradise? Well, I wasn’t kidding. As someone who used to have just a slight problem with food binging and then having to crash diet after, this was like both heaven and hell at the same time. LMAO. Like, part of me missed the satisfaction of gorging on delicious foods until I wanted to puke, but also the new and improved me who knew the importance of eating in balance was so conflicted!
So basically I decided, I would enjoy myself and splurge a bit and just make sure I hit the gym every day. And that was easy to stick with seeing as my boyfriend never misses a gym day. My goal though was to not completely stuff myself during each meal, but needless to say, I did not succeed.
Food Options We tried
There’s a total of 12 different dining options to choose from, although we only tried five.
Kick Off with Caffeine
Cafe Latte-Tudes is the go-to place for Starbucks coffee and tea and is more of a walk-up stand than a restaurant itself. The drinks here are not included in your ticket price, so if you plan to order a handcrafted drink every morning or throughout the day, consider getting the drink package.
Go for the Buffet or Fine Dining
Windjammer is the ship’s buffet, which is included in the ticket price and offers breakfast, lunch, and dinner, so we spent a lot of time here. Just be sure to disinfect and wash your hands often here because there is a ton of traffic and sometimes sights of bad hygiene from other diners.
The main dining room is also included and is soooo swanky. It’s open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Alcoholic beverages and handcrafted coffees ordered here cost extra, so again, if you like to drink a lot, that’s where that drink package comes in handy.
The cool thing about the main dining room though is that you can order as many appetizers, salads, entrees, and desserts as you want without being charged more!
For snacks post-dinner, Aidan and I tried the Park Cafe, which was complimentary and just served pizza after hours (but it was really really good pizza!). We also ordered Room Service pretty late one night, which was more just your basic chicken tenders and burgers or salads.
My All-time Favorites
While there was A LOT of food and I probably don’t remember everything (phone only eats first sometimes…), I did have a couple favorites. This was my first experience trying escargot, or snails, which is a French delicacy, and I was actually fairly impressed. They appear a bit slimy, but ultimately, they’re chewy and were marinated in a delicious butter sauce.
It’s also no surprise that I’m a dessert fiend and a huge lover of key lime pie!!! I had the absolute most scrumptious and mouthwatering slice of key lime pie in the dining room during Sunday brunch and I still think about it to this day. I also tried their Baked Alaska, which a delightful surprise of both caked and ice cream.
An Italian Dream
Giovanni’s Table is an Italian restaurant that is not included in your ticket price, but is definitely worth going. It’s gorgeous inside with a wine wall that we were sat behind. You’ll find Italian delicacies as well as all the originals on this menu.
Also, there’s a fantastic dessert menu at this Italian gem! We even scheduled a surprise celebration dessert for Aidan for his retirement from the military. The special cakes have a custom bunny creature on top just like the towel designs in the room — so cute!
Even More dining options
- Chef’s Table, $$$$ | Exclusive dinner
- Samba Grill, $$ | Steakhouse
- Izumi, $$ | Japanese
- Dog House, Included | Hot dogs
- Chops Grille, $$ | Steakhouse
- Sorrento’s Pizza, Included | Pizza
Now that you know everything about Radiance of the Seas, get ready to set sail on your next vacay! Have you been on another Royal Caribbean cruise ship? Let me know your favorites in the comments below.