Back to All Cruise Industry News

Register for Cruise Ship Jobs Now!


Royal Caribbean Radiance of the Seas cruise ship

Royal Caribbean International’s Radiance of the Seas will sail away from the Victoria Shipyards in British Columbia today after a $20 million renovation. The 21-day revamp, which included a dry-dock period, adds many of the features found on Royal Caribbean’s two newest ships, the 225,282-ton Oasis of the Seas and twin Allure of the Seas.

As part of a press group invited to a hard-hat tour of the ship last week, I was amazed at the extent of the work. Indeed, the Radiance looked almost like a newbuild in its final days at the shipyard, with wires, bare walls and floors, and construction materials and workers everywhere. It seemed as if virtually the entire ship was being freshened up, rebuilt or reconfigured.

The 10-year-old, 90,090-ton Radiance will end up with the same number of restaurants as Oasis and Allure, though it won’t have the high-end 150 Central Park and burger joint Johnny Rocket’s. The extent of the dining options is certainly impressive given a ship the size of Radiance. Additions include Samba Grill Brazilian steakhouse, the casual Park Café, the Asian Izumi, Rita’s Cantina, Quill & Compass Pub, Giovanni’s Table, the Boardwalk Doghouse and the upscale 16-seat Chef’s Table.

Lisa Bauer, senior vice president of hotel operations, said Royal Caribbean was careful to balance the number of restaurants that charge service fees and those that don’t. For example, the Boardwalk Doghouse, which is free, serves as many as 1,200 hot dogs a day on Allure of the Seas. The most upscale experience is Chef’s Table, which serves 16 people a five-course dinner paired with wine for $95 per person. Royal Caribbean is finding that people are willing to shell out for that experience -- it has sold out every night since it was introduced on Oasis, according to Frank Weber, vice president of food and beverage operations.

Also being added to Radiance are three inside single staterooms, an oversized outdoor movie screen, enhanced Wi-Fi throughout the ship, and the Royal Babies and Tots Nursery, where certified staffers care for children age 6 to 36 months, often until midnight. The latter has proven quite popular with parents eager for a night out while on vacation.

Aside from upgrading a decade-old ship, the renovations will help Royal Caribbean “create a consistent footprint” among the ships in the fleet, Bauer says. That consistency will let passengers who can’t or don’t want to sail on Oasis and Allure take advantage of the additional amenities and restaurants that have proven so popular on those two ships. It also will allow you as travel agents to promote the same features on several ships of varying sizes and destinations. In order to create that consistent footprint, the line is renovating other ships as well under its $70 million Royal Advantage program, but the renovation of Radiance was more extensive than most of the others will be.

Although less than two years old, Oasis of the Seas was included in the program to receive the DreamWorks Experience and a 3-D movie theater introduced on Allure. The 154,000-ton sisters Liberty of the Seas and Freedom of the Seas also have completed renovations that added the DreamWorks Experience, 3-D theater, poolside movie screen, nursery, enhanced Wi-Fi and other amenities. Next up is the 69,130-ton Splendour of the Seas, which will begin a 28-day refit in Cadiz, Spain, in November.

Royal Caribbean’s ambitious Royal Advantage program aims to breathe new life into the line’s older ships. And I suspect that passengers boarding Radiance of the Seas today will feel almost like they’re on a brand-new ship. I certainly felt that way. For more information on Royal Caribbean, visit the line’s agent website at