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Mike Leinenbach

Age: 40

Occupation:Property Casualty Insurance Underwriter

Number of Cruises: 1

Cruise Line: Royal Caribbean

Ship: Radiance of the Seas

Sailing Date: May 8th, 2004

Itinerary: Alaska - inside passage.

This was my first cruise. I decided on Alaska after speaking with my travel agent and then this ship happened to fit with my scheduled vacation. I was traveling alone, it was my first real vacation in five years and I wanted relaxation above all.

I read the review of the couple from Sydney for this same trip and I can substantiate what they said regarding the disorganization at port on the day of departure. I arrived quite early and was given priority boarding status and still found it somewhat irritating that there was no clear direction from the staff. And with a group of 700+ from the Amway contingent boarding this cruise, they really should have had more structure than usual.

Once on the ship, I found myself relaxing at the bar (Atrium Bar) and immediately forgot about the stress outside while I waited for the suite to be ready. I reserved suite 1066, an Owner’s Suite. I had looked at pictures online over and over in advance of the cruise, but the pictures didn’t do it any justice at all. The room and balcony were so spacious and comfortable I wasn’t sure I’d ever leave. The floor to ceiling windows provided a spectacular view without having to go on the balcony. The bathroom was tastefully decorated, well equipped, and quite large. The Jacuzzi tub was a great touch, though it leaked the first time I used it. (The staff took care of the problem promptly.) The closets were spacious also. I’ll have to give the room less than a perfect score though because the queen size bed was formed by pushing two single beds together which left a very hard hump in the middle. I really couldn’t use the entire bed to sleep but had to sleep on one side or the other. My stateroom attendant, Kathryn, was attentive, professional, competent, and very nice.

FOOD: I was assigned to the main seating for dinner which I attended 3 of the nights. The food was very good and the service excellent. It also didn’t hurt that I shared a table with a very interesting couple from Florida who went on cruises regularly, so I learned a little about cruises in general. I ordered room service twice, once breakfast and once lunch. It appeared to consist of leftovers and I was very disappointed. But the fare in all the other venues was very good. I had lunch one afternoon in Il portofino, for which there was an additional charge. I remember the food being spectacular, but it could also be that I had a wonderful window seat and that was the day the ship did some 360’s in front of the Hubbard Glacier.

ENTERTAINMENT: First night there was a small opening show by the RCI entertainers and a comedian. It was quite interesting in that many passengers from the Taiwanese Amway group were in attendance, most of whom did not speak or understand English very well. So while I found the comedian to be entertaining, there wasn’t much energy in the room. Nevertheless, he did a spectacular job working with the crowd as best he could. I saw half of the next show (a pianist entertainer-Liberace protégé) then avoided the one’s thereafter. I was not very impressed with the lineup.

FACILITIES: This is one awesome boat! So many places to eat, drink, relax, read, shop, listen to music, log onto the Internet, exercise, gamble, or just enjoy the view. All of it clean, tastefully decorated, and so spacious I never felt I was in a moving vehicle, or even indoors. The concierge club was comfortable but small. And the entire staff was awesome!

ALASKA: Wow! And the weather was perfect virtually the entire time. I was a little disappointed to see that the towns we stopped in primarily consisted of jewelry stores and souvenir shops and there were not many places to eat. I tried to find an out-of-the-way pub at each shop and was only somewhat successful. I don’t shop and the only souvenir I brought home was a logo golf ball, so I found the towns in general to be a letdown. But with the perfect weather and the incredible natural beauty of the sea and landscape, it was easy to put that out of your mind.

EXCURSIONS: I went on two, both in Skagway. The helicopter tour of the glaciers, including landing and walking on a glacier, was educational and fun. I just wish it could have lasted longer. The train ride up the mountain is a must-do. Once again, the weather was perfect. I cannot think of words to express the breathtaking sights, smells, and sounds of that adventure.

MISCELLANEOUS: There was too much selling going on. The shows in the Aurora theater that were touted as being specials to teach passengers about the different ports of call turned out to be sales pitches for the souvenir shops and jewelry stores. They had art auctions and slot machine ‘contests’ and bingo. And they were constantly announcing all of these “events” over the loud speakers which got quite annoying. Except for the Hubbard Glacier, I didn’t hear any announcements about upcoming landmarks or points of interest. Yet they announced bingo and art auctions 2 hrs in advance, an hour in advance, a half-hour in advance, 15 minutes in advance, etc. Very annoying.

SUMMARY: Good stuff: Exceptional ship, beautiful stateroom, breathtaking views, great food, OK variety of activities, super staff (especially stateroom attendant Kathryn). Not-so-good stuff: Room service food (the ‘service’ part was very good), the annoying/cheap selling of everything, hard hump in the middle of the bed, check-in disorganization.

SCORES (1- 10 scale):
Food – 8 (9 minus one for room service)
Activities – 7 (too many sales pitches)
Stateroom – 9 (10 minus one for the hump in the bed)
Boarding – 5 (my priority status didn’t appear to be much of a priority)
Onboard staff – 11 (10 plus one extra for stateroom attendant Kathryn)
Alaska scenery – 1,547
Alaska towns – 6 (negative 10 for the tourist traps plus 16 for the wonderful locals in the pubs and the nice temporary residents running the excursions)
Excursions – 10 (12 for the excursions minus 2 for the prices)
Entertainment – 7 (5 for the quality plus 5 additional for the comedian’s handling of the non-English-speaking audience minus 3 for the non-staff judges’ low scores in my entry in the Karaoke competition.

FINAL NOTES: Getting off the ship went very smoothly, though I was annoyed at their inability to confirm in advance in what order the groups would be called. Overall, I went to relax. Thanks to the scenery, weather, the staff, and the people in the pubs in Juneau, Skagway, and Ketchikan, it was better than I could have hoped. And I'm just kidding about the Karaoke competition.

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