A YEAR AND A HALF AGO, in February 2009, I spent two days sailing on board Mariner of the Seas, Royal Caribbean’s quite large ship that had just been moved to Los Angeles. My experience on this ship was pleasantly surprising and I discussed it on a blog post at that time.
If you follow my postings, or know me, you know that my specialty is luxury cruising, i.e. Seabourn or Crystal. But as their ships are not suitable for an action packed , fun family vacation, another option is required – and I have to say that Royal Caribbean has done a great job of understanding this market. Besides the rock climbing wall, ice skating rink, Johnny Rockets and other type of kid activities and venues, they also have places on the ship for each age group with supervised activities. And for teens, they have a private club which has a very grown up feel with music videos, a bar (Mountain Dew I suppose) andlounge area. Not to mention a nearby video arcade. Royal Caribbean’s My Family Time Dining program also allows parents to begin their dinner with their kids, and then after 45 minutes the little ones are whisked away to their private adventures while mom and dad’s table is reset and their romantic evening ensues.
While the typical words “understated elegance” used to describe a small luxury ship wouldn’t apply here, RCI desginers didn’t learn their trade designing Walmarts either. Both the Mariner of the Seas and the Radiance of Seas are contemporary, clean and, dare I say, sophisticated in look and feel. My friends at SFMOMA might even be impressed. The Radiance uses lots of glass, light colors and wide open spaces. There is almost nothing stuffy on the ship, save the library. Check out my pictures and make your own decision.
Complimenting the look, the staff overall was very helpful and friendly – in my book the most important quality any service focused company must have. They’re not trained to work in a Four Seasons, but the pride most employees put into their work was impressive. It was better during my afternoon and evening spent on board this time, though, than it was on the Mariner last year.
I’m a Bay Area foodie and I’ll say that my dinner in the Radiance’s specialty restaurant Chops Grill was good. I’d give it a 4 out of 5. I’m also a design guy and it’s rare that I can enjoy a meal in an unattractive place. It does something to my tastebuds. At Chops, I really liked the purple velvet drapes, the sea view and the Scandinavian designed flat ware and dinnerware. Very snazzy. Service was very friendly if not San Francisco polished, and I had a hard time understanding the waiter’s English.
For more information on Royal Caribbean family vacations, traditional luxury cruising and your complimentary membership in our Voyager Club, don’t hesitate to contact me.
For my complete set of photos from this trip and others, visit my photo home page.