I consider we were very lucky to have been able to go on this. A year ago, we were booked on one to go from Venice to Turkey, but I was unable to get on the ship for medical reasons.
Royal Caribbean, the cruise company, gave us vouchers, not for the full value but nearly and the insurance company topped up the rest, so we booked a cruise that left from Sydney, up to New Caledonia, Lifou, then Vanuatu, and back to Sydney. This is called the 9 day cruise.
Getting on board was relatively painless, only a 20 minute wait. Your first impression is of a luxury hotel, not a ship. It has a large atrium right in the centre of the ship, which runs from Level 4 right up to level 10 (I think!). This is a beautiful piece of interior design.
The advertising/marketing goes on about the WOW factor, but in this case it really does live up to the hype. It would be nice if every human on the planet could go on one of these cruises. In the past I was dismissive of the idea, but I would say, try it, you will love it.
You can stand on one of the levels and look down into the atrium and if you look carefully, you will see layer upon layer of subtle design variances.
It has two glassed in lifts in the inner part of the atrium, and several more on the outer part, which are glass fronted as well allowing a brilliant view over the sea on the left side of the ship.
This is the main atrium and a level just off it.
Finding our cabin was fun, but easy enough, we had room 3024, which meant we were on level 3, near the bow. There was a large round porthole. The room was quite spacious. The bathroom was fine, except the shower was on the small side, but OK.
Then up to deck 11 to look at the departure from Sydney. Just a fantastic view of this great harbour from high up on deck 11, and then off to the open sea.
This is just going past the North Head in Sydney Harbour.
Time for dinner. All food was included in the fare, so we were keen to see what was on the menu. Our first call was at the Windjammer Cafe, located on the top at the rear of the ship.
Talk about food! There was a smorgasbord going, and you could have chips, burgers, eggs, salads, you name it. I tried to keep the intake down, but it was tempting.
Just looking around it seemed like most of my fellow passengers were overweight: was this because they came cruising often? At the end of the cruise I checked: a gain of 3 kg. Hmff.
The next evening we tried the fine dining option, in the Cascades Dining Room. Imagine a 5 star restaurant with a view of the sea, a 3 course meal on offer. Yum!
This is the Cascades Dining Room on Level 5
This is the Solarium, a glass roofed swimming pool and hot tub.
They had bird noises playing, giving it a hanging garden feel. Artificial plants but the whole effect was wonderful.
Time on board went extremely quickly, what with exploring the ship, eating, and seeing a show or two. They had live entertainment each night in a large theatre, and it seemed to be of mostly high quality.
The first day I climbed 9 sets of stairs to the gym and did a short workout. By the time we reached Noumea I had slid backwards into a more relaxed attitude, besides we went on a bus tour of Noumea.
This is Lemon Bay in Noumea.A day later and we anchored off a small island called Lifou. They had tenders to take us to the island, where we walked along the beach and I did a bit of snorkelling in about 1500mm of water. Nice, but not spectacular.
At our next port, Vila in Vanuatu, we booked on a tour called "Dream Cove Cruise". A van picked us up from the ship, took us to a wharf in town, and onto a 70 foot yacht. Half an hour cruising later, we stopped in a bay with really clear water. I jumped over board and swam to a nearby coral reef, which had plenty of fish and coral to look at.
Then three days cruising at sea. I just cannot believe how quick it went.
Back at Sydney, we were just off the ship thinking where was the train to my brother's place and there he was!
You can check out the ship here:
Radiance of the Seas