Radiance of the Seas (Royal Caribbean)
Radiance of the Seas
Maiden voyage: 2001
We were on board this ship in Oct 2010, sailing out of Tampa. The Radiance of the Seas is the first of the Radiance class vessels. By some accounts, I think the Radiance class ships are the best of the Royal Caribbean fleet.
We booked a balcony on this ship as we had my son with us, so for three people, the balcony room offered a bit more space. However, One characteristic of the balcony, especially on deck 7, is that you cannot look straight down and see the ocean as you can with other ships (the Freedom of the Seas for instance). Deck 6, the Promenade deck, has a roof that runs almost the entire length of the ship,which won't allow you to look straight down to the sea.
The decks are somewhat cantilevered, so the view improves as you go higher up on the ship, but to some degree, all of the balcony cabins will see the roof of the Promenade deck.
On this ship, the Windjammer (buffet style) resturant is rather unique with both inside and outside seating areas. This ship spends time in Alaska, Hawaii, as well as the Caribbean and other locales, so it may not always be too hot for outside seating.
Deck 7 balcony view showing the Promenade Deck roof.
The ship features all of the modern equipment such as azipod propulsion, stabilizers, and rock-climbing wall. One unique feature are two gyro stabilized pool tables. It is a wierd sensation to see the pool table stabilize in a pitching sea. You could almost become sea-sick just watching the table move.
This ship has a rather unique propulsion system, and is considered a "green" ship, having a 90% reduction in emissions vs. diesel powered ships. The ship is called a "GTV"; Gas Turbine Vessel, and is powered by two GE gas turbine engines, the same ones that are used on DC-10 aircraft. The engines are coupled to generators which provide the electric power to the electric motors on the azipods, as well as all of the other electrical needs. In addition, there is a third system that captures the 500 deg heat out of the engine exhaust and through the use of a steam generator, additional power is created.
One item of interest is the engines are too powerful for use within port situations, so a small "harbor diesel" engine is used to supply the power for manouvering in port.
GTV badging - Gas Turbine Vessel
The ship is known as a "pana-max" vessel which means it can traverse the Panama Canal. So it is significantly smaller than the Voyager, Freedom, and Oasis class mega-ships, and can get into smaller ports.
After being on the larger ships, its amazing that they don't seem too crowded, given 3,000 or more passengers are aboard. In contrast, the Radiance at times did seem a bit more crowded to me. There were no significant lines or anything like that, but you got the sensation that there were a lot of people on board. Regardless, I felt this was one of the nicer ships in the fleet.