On time flight with Air New Zealand from Christchurch bought us to Circular Quay at 1000hrs and helpful and friendly porters took our luggage off us. We wandered to the Opera House to photograph the beautiful Rhapsody of the Seas in this glorious harbor setting( One of my must do's to sail out of Sydney).
By the time we returned to the Ship due to our C & A membership we were able to check in. The whole occurrence took no longer than 10 minutes with all staff friendly & efficient. Before we knew where we were , we found ourselves on deck 10 by the pool. We had taken the Premium Beverage package so after a few enquiries to various desks we were directed to the R bar on deck 4 to obtain a stamp on our SeaPass which entitled us to complimentary beverages for the entire voyage. We found this package fantastic value for money. My only comment was that we have to sign for every drink (be it a zero charge) but we got the feeling that the staff were pushing the gratuity system and expecting a tip to be added each time( even though we had paid the 15% when purchasing the package.
After a beer and a bite to eat in the Windjammer and a quick tour of the ship we found ourselves at our cabin , bags outside and cabin ready. Wilfred on hand to show us round this larger than average size cabin. Wilfred was a fantastic cabin attendant with the cabin and bathroom being kept pristine at every chance.
We nominated him as our WOW employee ass we felt that he was a credit to the Cruise Line.
This cabin was a great surprise with plenty of room for 2 with a great space under the bed for our cases. My only pet hate was the shower curtain, hideous!!!
However not much of a problem not to use it and keep it aside.
Public areas on the Rhapsody are roomy and have been well revitalized during her time in Singapore. The only area we felt out of place was the R bar which appeared to be stuck in an awkward corner. Bar staff on the whole were good with the staff at the Schooner Bar( Mo and colleagues) brilliant and outshone all others.
Dining room appeared disjointed from previous cruises with the upper tier being used for My Time dining. We had a great table (number 2) of ten with a great waiter and assistant and entertaining Italian Aussies( thanks for the laughs)
Entertainment overall was average with some of the Cruise staff trying harder than others. We enjoyed the Trivia however we felt that the My Way or No Way attitude of the host was not the right approach. We have encountered repartee with the passengers and hosts being handled better on other lines.
We found Ricky and Patrick extremely enthusiastic with everything they did and went beyond the norm to ensure that all activities were a success to all involved. Their efforts on the daily TV show however were weak and unprofessional.
Captain Rob was an absolute delight. With his dry sense of humor the 12 noon briefings were an anticipated highlight of the day. I attended his Q & A on the last day and was probably the most entertaining event of the trip.
Personnel wise we felt that the only area we had a problem was the photographers who we felt were too pushy when out and about on the ship and ashore. We realize that the company needs to maximize their revenue but when we say we don't want to be photographed we don't expect to have to tell them twice.
The food overall was faultless. The Windjammer was at peak time a bit of a scrum
however we had most breakfasts in the main dining room which gave us a chance to meet with other passengers with open seating. Lunch was either in the main dining room or later in the cruise the Park Cafe ( great food and fantastic staff) Dinner was always taken in the dining room on a late sitting. Food was always great and wait staff ensured we got everything we required even giving us extra plates to ensure we got to taste all we desired on the menu.
After the first night the assistant waiter knew what wine we drank and it was on the table shortly after walking into the dining room and glasses were filled as and when required. ( Well done)
The itinerary on this cruise we doubted at first however this is a great trip to see some of the best Australia has to offer. We had visited Newcastle on a road trip about 5 years ago and didn't think much of it however on this trip we were met in town by senior citizens playing the ukulele and a fantastic event it was. We visited Fort Scratchley and met with one of the volunteers who gave us the full rundown on the site including the 2nd WW events. Was great that they fired the guns on our passing of the Fort on departure.
Cairns was a great city to spend an overnight stop. We missed out on booking the Train and Sky Rail however we hired a car for $60 and drove up to Port Douglas and then back down to Kuranda via the hinterland. What a great day done at our own pace. Cairns lagoon is a fantastic free attraction for which the city should be proud.
Airlie Beach was a great find particularly as it is often outshone by Hayman Island. However Airlie is a gem in itself. Our first cruises with Royal Caribbean was on the Monarch and Majesty in the Caribbean and Airlie could be any of the Caribbean resorts. Once again the Lagoon was a great find.
Brisbane has always been my favorite Aussie city and it was a shame that the Rhapsody couldn't berth at the Cruise terminal as the grain terminal isn't the most attractive place to berth however the transfer was well handled and good value.
We had 5 days at sea which we love as its one of the reasons for cruising. 2 days were a dead loss with driving rain and gales and quite heavy swells however on the whole we had great weather with all days in port fine and sunny.
All in all we had a great cruise and as a result we are looking at a Northern Australia on the Radiance in October and a relocation cruise on the Voyager in March.
Well done Royal Caribbean thanks for a great vacation. How about a Freedom -class for 2014/15???