Went on ROS during April school holidays with four kids and we all had a great time. We picked two interconnecting oceanview rooms, a four berth for the kids and two berth for parents. We booked directly with the RCI Australia website as we were frustrated with the service from a TA. The website let us pick and book connecting rooms.
Embarkation was very fast - we got to the Sydney terminal at 10:15 and the only hitch was a walk through the rain to drop of baggage at the baggage tent. We were onboard in fifteen minutes and the longest step was filling out the departure forms.
- Noumea had a very good market for handmade jewerly and clothes, it was one of the stops on the hop on hop off tourist bus. Most vendors offered a good exchange rate on Australian dollars. I found the exchange rate offered by vendors varied by up to 50% and you usually got a better rate if you had Francs. The Noumea shopping area looked run down but the kids enjoyed playing on a beach.
- Lifou was a great place to teach the kids how to snorkel. The beach is waist deep with areas of coral and interesting fish and we had a sea turtle swim around us. The market was interesting, there were some local tours on offer but we didn't take one, we just enjoyed the snorkeling.
- Mystery Island was my favourite stop as there was a lot of interesting snorkeling spots all around the island. On the far side of the island there were large clumps of coral, some of it a long swim out, teeming with fish. On the tendering side fo the island there were tutles, star fish, pipe fish.
- Isle of Pines was a beautiful island with some of the most interesting shops and food stalls. It had only a small coral area close to the ship which could get quite crowded and close to shore most of the coral had been trampled by numerous cruise ship passengers. There are probably more rewarding spots if you drove to another part of the island.
The food was excellent and I thought the choice for all courses was excellent. We ate at 6pm dining in the dining room every night. The kids menu was a bit limited, too much fried food with chips and no changes, the kids occassionally spotted something they liked from the standard menu. We used Family Time Dining a couple times where the kids got fed by 6:45 and were handed over to Adventure Ocean staff outside the dining room entry so we could continue our meal. We also used the Adventure Ocean Windjammer dining option one night. We enjoyed Windjammer for breakfast and lunch, we found the dining room service was too slow at those times as our kids wanted to rush off and do things.
Adventure Ocean was excellent for our 7 and 9 year olds. Our 9 yo did one or two sessions a day and seemed to enjoy the evening session the most. Our 7 yo did one session a day. Our 10 yo hated Adventure Ocean and she reported that most of the kids her age felt the same. On ROS Adventure Ocean seems too small for the 10 and 11 yo kids and they were trapped in the room without an option for interesting hosted activities around the ship. She was jealous of the teen club and spent a lot of time at the pool or playing table tennis. Our 12 yo loved the teen club, especially by day 3 she was going to activities throughout the day and evening and enjoyed the freedom of going to general ship events as well.
We enjoyed some of the entertainment activities. The game shows were very funny, the cruise director was excellent, I enjoyed the Motown show. I found a couple of the other headline shows to be too cheesy, imagine Bob Downs going over the top. I was impressed at the variety of entertainment and number of live bands on board. It was great to chill out to music by the pool.
Overall this was our best family vacation, one that all of us could enjoy and that gave our kids a lot of freedom to explore and go to events. We thought it was very good value for money for a school holiday when compared to accomodation costs for a family of six at that time of year. My favourite thing was the snorkling and rich coral.