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Rishi Gudka

Age: 31

Occupation:Pharmacy Manager

Number of Cruises: 6

Cruise Line: Royal Caribbean

Ship: Radiance of the Seas

Sailing Date: September 16th, 2006

Itinerary: Vancouver to Los Angeles

We departed for Vancouver from London Heathrow on 12, September 2006 and stayed at the brilliant Coast Plaza and Suites hotel in the west end area of Vancouver. The hotel was in a great location next to the English beaches and amidst shops and restaurants. Our 2 bedroom suite was on the 31st floor and had gorgeous views of the water, city and Stanley Park. It had 2 balconies and it was hard to keep away from the balconies and the windows due to the excellent sights around us. We spent 4 nights at this hotel. The day we arrived we walked along the English beach and tried to get familiar with our surroundings.

On the second day we took a big bus tour around the city and explored some brilliant sites of Vancouver like Stanley Park, Gastown, Chinatown, Granville island, Robson Street, etc. We could hop on and hop off along the way which gave us independence to see the sights that we liked.

On the third day, we took a tour to Whistler and took the sea to sky highway which had amazing views all the way. The resort was very modern and we spent about 4hrs there. Unfortunately it was drizzling most morning but the sky cleared up in the afternoon which gave us good views of the mountain peaks. On the way back, we stopped at Shannon falls and did a nature walk in a forest which was very interesting.

On our final full day in Vancouver, we went to do some shopping on Robson street in the morning and in the afternoon we took an excursion to see the capilano suspension bridge and Grouse mountain- both excellent sites and worth seeing. Hence all in all, we had a great time in this beautiful city of Vancouver which is rated one of the top 3 cities in the world and I do agree with that.

Well, finally the day we were waiting for came. It was a beautiful sunny morning and it was time to leave our hotel and head for the cruise terminal which was apparently only 10mins ride away. However it took us nearly half an hour to reach the terminal due to heavy traffic as there were 4 ships leaving on the same day- Princess Diamond, HAL’s Zuiderdam, one of the celebrity ships and our beautiful Radiance of the seas.

Once we got into the terminal, there was chaos. Everyone was trying to find where to go. We had to queue to drop our bags, then queue to go through security and then queue to check-in. Hence by the time we got into the ship it was nearly an hour. One of the worst embarkations that I’ve faced from all the cruises I’ve been on.

Hence we were glad to enter the ship which was extremely beautiful. The atrium area looked dazzling and I couldn’t wait to get to the top and look down to get beautiful views from above. Luckily, our cabins were ready. So we headed straight to the 9th floor whereby our balcony cabins were ready to be occupied. The rooms were large, similar to the layout in Princess Diamond however slightly larger. The balcony was quite big but the bathroom was quite small (once again similar to Diamond) but much smaller than the one HAL’s Zuiderdam. Anyway, we were very pleased with the room and once we dropped of our hand luggage, we headed to the 11th floor for lunch at Windjammers café. There was an extensive range of foods and it was hard to choose what to eat. Since there was an outbreak of a virus a few weeks back, all the food was being served and we weren’t allowed to touch anything. As most of the staff were occupied serving, there were very few staff clearing the tables and hence that made the café crowded not only on that day but also on a few more days to come. Thankfully the strict ban was lifted off 3 days later and the service got better.

Once we had our lunch, we went to explore the ship. There were 2 pools on the 11th floor, one was open with 2 spas and the other (solarium) was covered and had one spa. This is the one that I really liked as it was set in tropical like warm surroundings. There was a basket ball court, rock climbing wall, kids pool and slide, sea view café, mini golf etc on the floors above.

Once we finished exploring the open areas of the ship, we went downstairs to see the various bars and public areas down below. Although the ship was 5 years old, everything looked new and grand. The dining room was very elegant and we had a table right in the centre of the room which pleased me. Couldn’t wait to find out who our table partners were going to be that evening.

Anyway, once we finished exploring the ship we back to our cabin by which time the luggage had arrived. Thus we unpacked immediately and tucked the cases under the bed. By this time, it was time for lifeguard drill which was compulsory to attend. It didn’t take long to finish and we headed back to the cabin to get ready for the 6pm dinner in the beautiful cascades dining room.

Our table partners were a family from Vancouver who were very nice and we had a great time dining with them for the next 7 nights. Our waitress was very good and served us very well. The food was good too and had plenty of choice including vegetarian varieties. The maitre de came to us and asked us if we’d like Indian food to which we agreed for one or two nights during the cruise. I thought that was a very friendly gesture.

All the entertainment on the ship was excellent- the grand Broadway style shows were good and so was a musical comedy hour from an artist from Las Vegas and a juggler who was very talented. We didn’t go to the theatre on 2 nights when we had longer excursions ashore. One night we went to the cinema to watch a movie. The cinema was not too big but was adequate and had a good sound system.

The 1st day set us in the mood for the next 7 days. Our ports of call started with Nanaimo a small city on Vancouver island. Unfortunately it rained most of the day and hence we stayed mostly onboard that day but that gave us a chance to do various activities on the ship like attend an arts class, play bingo and go for a swim and relax in the spa. Thankfully this was the last of the rain we had seen. Next day, we entered Victoria, a beautiful British city which seemed to have a lot of history behind it. We did an excursion to Butchart Gardens, the world’s best gardens according to me. After the excursion we went round the town and photographed the parliament building and the legendary empress hotel.

Next day we entered United States and the port of Astoria in Oregon. Since we entered USA, we had to queue up to see the customs officials which took around 45mins. Astoria is another beautiful city situated along the mighty Colorado river. We went around the town and to the column on a hill which gave us fabulous views of the city. An enjoyable day on the whole.

The next day we were at sea and since it was very warm and sunny most people sunbathed on the decks. I was busy doing different activities on the ship until the afternoon when the captain (very amusing captain with a good sense of humor) announced that there was an emergency on board and a sick patient had to be taken to hospital on land. Thus a chopper was going to come and pick up the patient from the ship, a rare sight. We all waited and saw the unfolding of this unique event. The helicopter didn’t actually land on the heliport but threw a net and the patient was lifted onto the chopper. After the drama, we resumed doing our usual activities.

The following day we docked in San Francisco, a beautiful city set on the hills. We took an excursion to Alcatraz and Sausalito and spent the rest of the afternoon in the city going up and down in cable cars. A truly enjoyable day and wished we could have spent at least 2 days there instead of stopping at Nanaimo.

After another day at sea we landed in Los Angeles. Disembarkation was a breeze and since we had booked an excursion to see LA, we were out of the ship first. After seeing the LA highlights like Hollywood, Rodeo Drive, Sunset strip and Farmers market, we were dropped off to the airport on time.

On the whole, I loved the whole trip and the variety of ports of call made it all the more special. Radiance is a beautiful ship and the jovial captain’s leadership of a brilliant team makes it a very relaxed environment. I would go back on RCI, may be not on Radiance again as I like exploring new ships. However I do recommend everybody to go on the Radiance especially when its sailing along interesting ports of call.

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