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Hoopster95

RADIANCE/HAWAII Sept 11-21,2015 REVIEW w/lots of photos

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Hey CC family! :D

 

I have a somewhat rare review to post so I do hope you all enjoy it, especially those of you booked over the next couple of years on this same sailing (either westbound or eastbound), or those curious to see whether this could be something you'd book in the future. This was a 10 day cruise with the following itinerary:

 

 

Sept 11 - Vancouver, BC

Sept 12-16 - at sea

Sept 17 - Hilo, Hawaii

Sept 18 - Kona, Hawaii

Sept 19 - Lahaina, Maui

Sept 20 - Nawiliwili, Kauai

Sept 21-23 - Honolulu, Oahu

 

I did a lot of firsts on this cruise including lots of specialty dining, and I'll be posting the first Samba's and Rita's Crab Shack reviews I've ever seen on CC (I think). I took pics of way more food than I normally do, and I'll stick to mostly ship related stuff rather than the Hawaii excursions, but please do ask any questions and I'll do my best to answer if I can.

 

I just stepped off the plane this morning at 7am... in my office at 9:30am... UGH!! :mad: I've had a heavy 1st day back at work, and have yet to upload my usual bazillion photos to photobucket for this review, so I'll throw in a couple of teaser pics to start this review off as I normally do. Stay tuned!

 

Radiance leaving my beautiful home port of Vancouver from Canada Place Pier

 

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An extremely rare (my first time ever seen) open Solarium roof in Maui

 

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One of my usual goofy timed jump pics within the Kilauea Carter (Hilo).

 

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Kohala Coast helicopter excursion (Kona).

 

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Following along ... we loved the Radiance ... someday I would like to do the Vancouver/Hawaii route. (Hawaii is so beautiful ... it calls to you to come back.)

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I would love to see pictures when you have time, I've never really thought about a cruise to Hawaii, but the pictures may change my mind, the caribbean is getting old.

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Having done this cruise almost ten years ago it will be nice to relive it again through your eyes. I can't wait for the helicopter photos as our chopper flight over the volcanos was cancelled due to torrential rains. We were hitting the tail end of a tropical depression when we arrived in Hilo.

Edited by A&L_Ont

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Looking forward to this. We did "the opposite" cruise in 2013, but as I was due for a little surgery a couple weeks after getting home, my daily activity was on the limited side. The extremely tentative plans are to try for it again is 2018 (da big 5-0).

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The DW and I are hoping to pull this cruise off in 2017.

Tjis is one my radar too. I want to book this cruise for 2017 when it becomes available. We have a cruise on April 27. I hope it opens up for us to book onboard.

 

I am looking forward to reading all of your posts.

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We got off Radiance on the 11th as you got on.

 

How were the seas ?...Thought you might have had some rockin with hurricanes and tsunami warning.

 

There seemed to be many on our cruise (sept 4-11) that were staying on to Hawaii and even a few staying on to Australia.

 

Did Captain Goran get back onboard or was it Capt. Juan? Cpt. Goran I think had a meeting to go to and got off in Juneau during our cruise.

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I apologize for the delay in starting this review.... crazy work day catching up with things. I still don't have many photos uploaded to Photobucket but I'll start this off with a few posts just to get this review on it's way.

 

First of all I want to mention that I'm not happy with my photos as I have been on previous sailings/reviews... for example I find my Serenade review from last year so much better for actual shots around the ship. so those of you looking for more Radiance Class pics you can click on that review below in my signature.

 

Many of you who have read previous reviews or read posts I've made on other threads know that I'm in the minority when I say Radiance Class is not my preferred class/size of ship... in fact it's at the bottom of the list for various reasons. Also I remember replying to a thread here on CC before I sailed regarding possible boredom on anything smaller than a Voyager Class when sailing on a TransAtlantic or TransPacific with 5-7 sea days... I'll touch on both of the above points as I go through the review, but I'll quickly mention that I have re-enforced both of my own personal opinion above in that Radiance Class is not a class I enjoy the most and also that Radiance, depending on your preferences of what you like to do on sea days (ie. how active you are, or if you like sitting on your balcony all day reading a book. etc.), can also be somewhat boring weather depending on a cross ocean voyage.

 

I'll mention now a few things about this cruise that struck me the most and made this sailing memorable for me:

 

  • Sunil D'Sousa (normally from Indy) was the DL Concierge, and hands down the best concierge I have ever encountered thus far.
  • Specialty Dining was stellar at all venues, including Izumi which I have in the past stayed away from
  • Steve Davis, CD taking over from Amy as his first cruise on Radiance, I felt did a great job. It was like he had always been on the ship from day 1 and was always visible and engaging to passengers.
  • Production shows were much better than average. All 4 singers were far and away the strongest 4 as a group, and individually, that I've seen in a while.
  • As usual, people I met were awesome! A big shout out goes out to infamous CC'er UNV-IT and gf Sammi who I spent a ton of time with... friends for life. Lisa and I totally love you guys!

 

Now on with the review....

 

I'll start out by saying this was the first time ever I did not have to fly to an embarkation port. It was surreal beyond belief getting in my car that morning knowing that I'd be on a ship in a couple of hours rather than having to fly a whole day. For those of you needing advice on how to get from the airport to downtown Vancouver quickly, easily and inexpensively, this is how it's done....

 

We drove to YVR airport to park, and obviously have our car waiting for us once flying back from Hawaii. The car park shuttles drop off right in front of the international arrivals building, and also immediately across the street to the short term car parkade. Whether you come off a plane inside, or from one of the long term parking lots, there's tons of signage everywhere pointing you in the direction of "Train to City"

 

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Head on up the series of escalators to the top level and there you'll find the turnstiles onto the Skytrain platform.

 

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Like any major city subway system, convenient and easily understandable ticket machines are ready and waiting. The cost for a one-way ticket to downtown Vancouver is $9 per adult... put in your credit card or cash, the ticket spits out in seconds. Easy peasy.

 

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During the day, trains depart every 5-8 minutes. We waited maybe 5 minutes when the train pulled in.

 

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These cars on this specific train line, called the Canada Line, were made wider and with a little less seating than it's predecessor train cars on the other two lines in order to accommodate luggage. Note the picture below... Having said that, even at 10am the car I was on was standing room only within 3-4 stops heading to Vancouver so I suspect rush hour could be a bit of a mess.

 

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In approx 1/2 hour, we arrived at waterfront station. Winding our way through and up the escalators we popped out street level within 1/2 block of the ramp which leads down to the cruse terminal check-in at Canada Place. We arrived at Canada Place around 10:30'ish. It's almost time for the "Bong Bong Bong" of those first sea pass card swipes we all hear going up the gangway!!!!

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Rather than zipping down the ramp to the cruise terminal, we cut across the front of the hotel to the other side as the Celebrity Millennium was docked on the East pier (where I had seen Radiance docked in the past). I've always seen HAL ships on the West pier but knowing no other ships were in port, ROS just had to be there and I wanted to get my first glimpse... and there she was! Woohooo!!!

 

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I had read plenty of horror stories through the Alaska season of poor embarkation experiences and long lines through customs. I had read to show up later in the afternoon (say 1-2pm) for short lines and easy access so I was prepared for a longer wait to get on board this early. This never materialized. A porter had my luggage in minutes, I was through customs and security scanning maybe in 10-15 min, and again was checked in and had my seapass in another 10 min. The access to the gangway was already open so on we went (I'll mention here that several cruisers did tell me later in the afternoon there were longer lines through security, for example, around 1-2pm, totally opposite from previous threads, so I truly don't know what t say, but as mentioned I was on board as easily as if I was getting on Oasis in PE)

 

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Unlike my normal routine of staying away from the WJ on embarkation, we boarded hungry expecting Radiance to be parked with her aft end (and thus the WJ outdoor aft seating) facing outward toward the port with great views of the North Shore and Stanley Park, but as you can see from the 1st picture above her aft was facing towards the city. Nonetheless, we wanted our first meal at WJ outside, so we headed up regardless. By sitting on the port side of the outdoor seating (Izumi side) we still enjoyed an awesome view of both downtown Vancouver and Stanley Park with a good first meal to get us going.

 

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You'd figure all these years that Radiance has been sailing that more cruisers would know about the aft seating, but as I reported on Serenade last year, this sailing was the same with the aft seating becoming more popular only as the cruise progressed. And I'll mention now that even on port days in Hawaii on mornings when cruisers were stumbling around the WJ with plates in hand waiting for a table to open up, I had no problem walking out aft and grabbing a table on the railing each and every morning that I wanted. This afternoon besides us and one other table, the aft seating back here was a ghost town so far for lunch.

 

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Thanks for posting this review. I embark on Jewel tomorrow but I am following anyway. :) My wife and I have done the westbound twice and are doing the eastbound the next two years. It's such a treat to take that cruise.

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Rather than zipping down the ramp to the cruise terminal, we cut across the front of the hotel to the other side as the Celebrity Millennium was docked on the East pier (where I had seen Radiance docked in the past). I've always seen HAL ships on the West pier but knowing no other ships were in port, ROS just had to be there and I wanted to get my first glimpse... and there she was! Woohooo!!!

 

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Nice! Always loved RoS's arse :D

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I always tour the ship on embarkation day to review the venues with as few fellow cruisers as possible, get photos, check things out, etc.... not much interesting on the aft end of deck 11 (WJ) so I wanted to head forward to the Solarium and spa/gym. I made a point that this cruise I wished to try a few things for the very first time, and a couple of things rarely talked about here on CC including Rita's Crab Shack. Walking trough Rita's I noted some of the decor on the walls are still Mexican! I thought this was comical... in fact the whole feel of the venue with the colour of the tables/chairs, the hanging lighting, etc really didn't fly a crab shack theme whatsoever, looked ridiculous is what I immediately thought.

 

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I did note the wall boards on the back wall above the bar for their specials so that I could take note for later in the cruise. We ended up ordering the 2 most expensive meals to share (Seafood basket & Rita's Combo) and I'll have full photos and thoughts on day 9.

 

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I also rarely take any pics of the WJ area with the normal amount of traffic in and out, but I snapped this one below as we walked through. Personally, I feel that the Radiance Class WJs are not very well laid out. The mornings and afternoons I experienced there's a ton of criss-cross traffic, people bumping into each other, just a very disorganized set-up with very poor flow. The WJs on Voyager/Freedom Class are much more superior.

 

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My biggest sore point on all Radiance Class ships is the much too small pool/pool deck RCL provides for it's 2400 passengers. I am not exaggerating when I say to you at 7am when heading to the gym all of the 80-100 loungers around the pool had towels on them being "reserved". It was quite pathetic frankly. On the couple of great weather days we had before arriving in Hawaii many of the loungers above the pool on deck 12, including those located beside the Solarium roof and also those heading aft underneath the Viking Crown were also full or reserved by 9:30-10am. This cruise once again re-enforced to me that Radiance Class is the perfect ship for cold weather and port intensive itineraries vs. sunny destinations or sailings with many sea days. My trick that works 100% every time?....

  • Go grab a lounger from the kids pool area aft and carry down to the pool deck, placing it right at pool's edge in front of the stage
  • Put your towels/stuff down on the wooden seating bordering the pool and sit/swim/tan/drink right at the pool's edge without the need for a lounger.

 

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Thanks for posting this review. I embark on Jewel tomorrow but I am following anyway. :) My wife and I have done the westbound twice and are doing the eastbound the next two years. It's such a treat to take that cruise.

 

Hey Bill! Have an awesome cruise.... ya, I checked in on your live review too. Have a great time as I'll be following you too (I'm on Jewel for the 1st time in December). :D

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Conversely to my thoughts on the pool & pool deck, Radiance Class has mega-beautiful indoor covered Solariums, again re-affirming the "cold weather ship" thought process.

 

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Like the pool deck, all the loungers here were reserved very early in the morning and I never once witnessed any RCL staff remove belongings for being held all day. On the days I swam and used the hot-tubs here I easily placed our robes & towels on the side (ie. by the railings) close to the hot-tub and swam/hot-tubbed to our delight for a couple of hours without the need for a lounger.

 

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The Park Cafe is located here... most of you who know about this area and don't need to see more images, but for those of you who don't know it's a great option away from the WJ for breakfast (including made to order bagels, oatmeal, breakfast sandwiches & burritos) and lunches (fresh made to order salads, sandwiches incl famous Roast Beef, soups) are served here, as well as snack items through the evening (ie. pizza). I did not dine much here on this cruise so I don't have much to say specifically for Radiance other than UNV-IT fave sandwich, the Cuban, was a huge disappointment as it's grilled on other ships... on this ship they throw it in the microwave so who knows where those grill marks on the bun are made from! :eek: Had had breakfast there only once and lunch twice, all three were excellent and fresh.

 

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Edited by Hoopster95

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I also love the gym on Radiance Class with most of the cardio equipment facing outwards with superb views... windows everywhere. The equipment is in great shape and excellent access out to the jogging track. Classes were on every morning. I must say, this is one of the busiest gyms I've seen on any sailing with most of the cardio equipment in full use every sea day.

 

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The Park Cafe is located here... most of you who know about this area and don't need to see more images, but for those of you who don't know it's a great option away from the WJ for breakfast (including made to order bagels, oatmeal, breakfast sandwiches & burritos) and lunches (fresh made to order salads, sandwiches incl famous Roast Beef, soups) are served here, as well as snack items through the evening (ie. pizza). I did not dine much here on this cruise so I don't have much to say specifically for Radiance other than UNV-IT fave sandwich, the Cuban, was a huge disappointment as it's grilled on other ships... on this ship they throw it in the microwave so who knows where those grill marks on the bun are made from! :eek: Had had breakfast there only once and lunch twice, all three were excellent and fresh.

 

 

Strange, last time we were on Radiance they used the grill. The Cuban was my favourite!! Along with the roast beef roll of course!

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Hi Claudio!! I was hoping you would post one of your awesome reviews to relive this amazing cruise!!! It was great seeing you again and meeting Lisa!

 

 

Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk

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Agree...Sunil was amazing !!! We could have used the CL but since we were traveling with family that were D's this worked out great and so glad we used the DL...We had a 19 month old GS with us and being able to sit in the extended seating area with him worked out so well.

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Is there an indoor movie theater on the Radiance?

Yes..on deck #6...The movie for that day/night and times will be listed in your daily Cruise Compass. It's a small venue so best to go early and get your seat especially the 10:00pm show.

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The DW and I are hoping to pull this cruise off in 2017.

 

Do it, then stay over for some time in Hawaii. We did it September 2014:):D

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Hi Claudio!! I was hoping you would post one of your awesome reviews to relive this amazing cruise!!! It was great seeing you again and meeting Lisa!

 

 

Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk

 

Hey Debbie!! Wow... Where were you guys all hiding for 10 days ;) I really hope you had a great time and safe travels. Hopefully we'll cross paths again someday.

 

For those of you who may have followed Quantum's first few sailings and my review, I met Debbie/Phil/Frank/Maria on Quantum last December and spoke to them/saw them every day at least once and usually multiple times all over the ship. On Radiance I saw Debbie maybe.... what do you think Debbie?... 3 or 4 times max?! So the myth that you see the same people everyday on smaller ships compared to the lack of "intimacy" on the larger ships is just that... a myth. The people you see everyday are based primarily on your interests and timing of the events you attend, not the size of ship whatsoever. So if you're a trivia fiend, you will see the same people there every single day. If you enjoy the nightclub after 11pm, you will see the exact same people everyday, etc.... regardless of whether you're on Oasis or Vision Class. I know Debbie had late seating and Lisa & I changed up our entire cruising experience and scheduling by doing a lot of specialty dining with early seating so schedules were way out of wack. Phil also told me you guys hung out primarily in the CL, but I stuck to the DL with Sunil. I did come looking for you guys twice in the CL but never did find you. Definitely keep in touch and please do chime in with any thoughts you have on this cruise as I go along if you have something to add :)

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Agree...Sunil was amazing !!! We could have used the CL but since we were traveling with family that were D's this worked out great and so glad we used the DL...We had a 19 month old GS with us and being able to sit in the extended seating area with him worked out so well.

 

Yes, the overflow was really nice wasn't it? I'm not one to sit in the Viking Crown during sailaway as I truly enjoy being outside on top deck or on the helipad, but I did this time just to check things out and hang out with people.

 

I'll mention now, and I'll show with pictures later today, the views from the DL are far superior than the CL... in fact the CL has almost zero view, and to me that is another bigtime deal breaker for hanging out. Compared to the CL's in both Quantum and Legend (my last two sailings), Radiance Class it's my least favorite CL space so far strictly based on lack of outside view. If I want to sit in a lounge without a view of the sea anywhere, I'll stay at home and go to a local bar. The VC/DL overflow was perfect for my preference :)

 

As a side note, the numbers quoted from Sunil (if someone has exact numbers please do post) regarding numbers of D, D+ and PN were as follows: 170'ish D, 170'ish D+, 17 PNs... so the overflow was definitely needed and I noted that the CL the few times I did check in (prior to dinner) was overcrowded and seemingly standing room.

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Is there an indoor movie theater on the Radiance?

 

Yes..on deck #6...The movie for that day/night and times will be listed in your daily Cruise Compass. It's a small venue so best to go early and get your seat especially the 10:00pm show.

 

Thx Ashland :)

Yup, very small venue... pics coming later. Couple of points while we're at it with the Cinema:

  • This was the first time I ever used the cinema, but with the poor weather the first few days and some lack of entertainment late night, I took in a 10pm show (Wonderland) with UNV-IT... got there maybe 15min early and it was almost full with no seats left (we ended down low very front 2nd row, the 1st row filled up within another few minutes)
  • Poor sound (they keep volume low, so you can hear everything from the Quill & Compass next door when music is playing)
  • The screen is not overly huge but does the job... would rather see a blockbuster in a regular theatre for sure.

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It was at this point I wanted to step outside of the gym doors to take a look at the forward top deck views looking down onto the Helipad. Those of you who followed my Serenade review to the Med/Adriatic last year know that I place a huge importance on site lines and being able to view the ports of call in all directions. I immediately noticed a real difference here compared to Serenade that somewhat shocked me.... the glass is much higher, and thus the lower 3 feet or so is blocked. The view is definitely worse on radiance than on Serenade. More on this later... it is here that I noticed the same stairs leading down to a "private" area on deck 11 (immediately above the bridge). On Serenade it's clearly marked "Gold card holders (suite guests) only", here on Radiance no such signage anywhere. I went down to have a look

 

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Like deck 12 above in front of the gym, the glass is very high up with a very tacky wave design covering the wall for about 3 feet. There's no way at all if you are lounging to have a view forward. Also note the limited space. The times I walked forward during the cruise, I witnessed only very limited amount of cruisers down there.... it's very far away from everything. This is a great thing if you want total peace and quiet, and especially privacy. Also this is the very best deck for viewing the helipad forward as the view of the helipad from deck 12 above is hampered by this deck. Also note the windows in behind the loungers are into the spa on deck 11.

 

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Smack dab center of this deck is this.... does anyone know what it is? I couldn't figure it out and forgot to ask Sunil or Capt Juan. It looks like some kind of sun dial but I really couldn't tell.

 

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So after taking a quick look here we headed back up those "private" stairs back up to deck 12 so that we can continue our ship tour through the Gym & spa

 

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This post is for those of you who use the spa areas... I personally never have so I don't know much about the Vitality Spa other than the steam/changing rooms. The spaces here are quite nice and the salon seems big too.

 

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There was still so much more to see aft, so we headed out of the ShipShape Center deck 11.

 

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You've already seen pics of the Solarium & Park Cafe area, so I'll skip over those as we walk through the Solarium and back out to the pool deck. The pool deck has 2 hot-tubs, as does the Solarium... they were constantly full at peak times throughout the day. I also noted the colour scheme and general feel felt a little "tired" and dated. Also I've never liked the totem pole art in front of the SkyBar. The totem pole seems to be a bit worn now as well. I suspect with drydock coming up next year Radiance will have a super nice refreshing feel to her not unlike what I experienced on Vision and Navigator right after their refurbs.

 

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So walking along port side aft I had forgotten that this ship has a "Doghouse" on board, so we approached to take a quick look.

 

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I never had a dog as my calories went elsewhere with the great dinners we had, but UNV-IT told me he had a dog pretty much every night as they ate late® most evenings and he tried every one. Maybe he can chime in when he finds this review on how these dogs were. They have toppings such as grilled peppers & onions, sauerkraut, and all sorts of condiments.

 

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Thanks for posting your review and pictures.

This will be my first Royal cruise and first Hawaiian trip. I am very interested in your thoughts on this. Looking forward to reading the rest of your review and viewing your pictures.

 

thanks again...

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Taking the stairs up from the Windjammer up to deck 12 we headed outside to check out the aft areas of the ship, but of course not before enjoying the awesome view of Stanley Park and Vancouver from this vantage point. Note the loungers here under the Viking Crown.... these are some of the same loungers I previously mentioned that were full/reserved every sea day because the pool loungers (upper and lower decks) were totally full.

 

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Walking aft on the port side, we got to the sports court which is a half court. 3 on 3 basketball and soccer competitions were held here, there was minivolleyball and open play time. There are doors which lead directly into the Adventure Ocean so the kids programs were scheduled here as well.

 

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Continuing aft you enter the "teen" deck with access directly into the arcade and teen areas. Also on this deck is the Shuffleboard area.

 

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If you've never ventured into the arcade or teen areas, here's the lone shot I took. I had never really looked at the Adventure Ocean areas until I started reviews and I have many more better photos and descriptions on both my Serenade & Quantum review. The Serenade I suspect would be very close to the same for those of you with kids who are interested. Btw, there were a grand total of 25 children aboard on this sailing! :eek:

 

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Lol, Claudio, we did wonder at one point if you fell off the ship!! [emoji1] We actually hung out more with Phil in one of the several smoking areas. It made for great people watching. Maria and Frank had a wonderful aft balcony for suite 1600 and we had the extra-huge balcony of suite 1060 so we spent a lot of time hanging there. We would go to CL for a drink in the evening before dinner because the concierge, Mo, was so awesome and helpful.

 

I did have my nails done at the spa. It was so restful and the view was the best of the 3 I have used (Allure and Quantum being the other 2). Gorgeous view of the ocean!

 

Hot dogs were delicious!!

 

Loving your review!

 

 

Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk

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Thanks for posting your review and pictures.

This will be my first Royal cruise and first Hawaiian trip. I am very interested in your thoughts on this. Looking forward to reading the rest of your review and viewing your pictures.

 

thanks again...

 

Thx for the kind words dixielady... I hope I can help with your planning! Just remember there's so many ways to cruise, people's opinions differ so greatly, so hopefully even if you can take a couple of small things to add to your experience out of this review I'd be really happy that I could help :)

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