We sailed out on 9th November - 23rd Nov - 14 day south pacific / NZ cruise - this was our first cruise. We travelled in a group of 18, family and friends ( ages 70s, 40s, 20s). Travelling in a group will make a difference on any cruise. We made a mistake of not booking as a group and therefore did lose out on many of the perks that come along with group bookings
Check-in was so easy and fast - we had nothing to complain about. There were many people at the terminal and I felt the staff went out of their way to get people on board as quickly as possible. Once on the ship we had to wait until 1pm to go to our cabins. We were able to have lunch at the Windjammer but besides that there wasn't much to do.
CABINS ( Junior Suites)
We had 2 junior suites with balcony on the 10th deck . We had my parents & sister & her fam in the same cabins in deck 9 and we had others in our party in deck 8 & 7.
I was very sceptical about getting on this ship as I was aware that it is due to be dry docked in April. This always sounds alarm bells. The size of the suite was excellent - my husband wanted to upgrade and Im glad that we didn't as there was sufficient space for our many pieces of luggage ( we travel heavy!) and we only ever slept in the cabin and really didn't spend much time in it.
The size of the WARDROBE was excellent in these rooms! We kept our many pieces of luggage and still had plenty of room to hang our clothes!
The cabins were needing some urgent maintenance attention. The bathroom had broken tiles and cracked ceramic - corners were cracked and rusted. Balconies were a decent size. The furniture pieces in the balcony were so bad ( torn/ old/ rusted) that you wouldn't find anything like it in a 2 star hotel! For the $$ that we paid for these rooms I expected such details to have been looked at and fixed before we boarded. Im sure RCI is trying to make as much $$ from Australian Cruises before the ship is dry docked and refurbished and then I wonder if we'll get it back to our shores.
CABINS (Royal Suite)
We had originally booked the Royal Suite for this cruise. My husband & I were celebrating our 25th year anniversary and he wanted to splurge. I had read so many bad reviews about this room that I decided to email RCI directly and address all my concerns before we finalised our payment ( broken showers, taps, old furniture, old spa ec) They never replied. I forward my email a week later with my original email re queries and putting them on alert that I was prepared to cancel the trip. It took almost another week before they replied and I wish I had kept the email! Not one of my queries was answered , they veered away as professionally as they could and wished me happy cruising . There was no reassurance so we decided to cancel this room. Again , alarm bells were ringing and we decided to play it safe and lock in the two suites.
The cabin assistant was excellent (they all work so hard although I felt that the Phillipinos worked much harder at putting a smile on their faces than the indians) ! VINCENT a big thank you to you!!!! Nothing was too much trouble for Vincent. On one of our formal nights he ran with my husband's shirt which we gave to him mins before heading out , to have it pressed. He returned in minutes and presented us with a well pressed shirt! ( we asked on the off chance that it could be done but really didn't expect it to be)
Our cabin was serviced twice a day and my 3 twenty yr olds kept their cabin just like their bedrooms and poor Vincent made it look like a castle after he'd been in there! He even folded my son's clothes. We couldn't thank him enough and although our gratuities were built into our package , we did tip him on the side. They well deserve it.
We had a different towel animal made up in our room every night! NO chocolates :( but again who needs chocolate when there is so much food!
One thing that I found annoying is that there is no PAPER & PEN. Its a floating hotel! Every hotel has paper & pen in the rooms! Cost cutting in this dept is a silly idea!
They also need to upgrade those awful side table alarm clocks bought in the last decade!
WALKWAYS / ELEVATORS
The walkways to the cabins were still looking good. RCI has obviously spent time in making sure these areas are looked after in appearance.
The elevators were always packed but I was told a number of times that this was a much faster service than the elevators in the Carnival and P&O cruises.
I loved how they changed the "day" carpet in the elevators each morning!
They were stuffy! NO air cond!
SHIP / PROMENADE /BARS /SHOPS
This ship is huge . I hate to see how big the new ones are!
RCI has kept the common ares on this ship fit for a king. Yes, in this area they haven't faulted.. Furniture was new and/or well looked after. Very clean!
The promenade was the place to be when the wind picked up outside . Always buzzing. I would not have liked to have been in the cabins looking into the promenade. You are too exposed to the crowds and the noise level must be very high , day and night.
I expected to see more shops! They all seemed to have the same thing! Total disappointment, although maybe a blessing in disguise as I still managed to do some real damage. How many bag and watch shops can one ship hold!!??
Not one BOUTIQUE!! Come on guys! Im sure a boutique with some summer dresses, shirts, swimming costumes and creams would do very well!
NO CHEMIST/PHARMACY !!! WHAT!!…so if you're a female , be sure to travel with enough 'female' toiletries because there isn't a chemist on the ship! And hope you don't get a headache and run out of panadols! ( Im sure that you could get them from the drs but you should just be able to buy them over the counter).
Bars, lots of them! Quiet ones, noisy ones, elegant ones, casual ones….you name it , there was one that could accommodate the mood for the day! Service, excellent!
I wanted to shake the girl in this department (blonde/tall/ swedish I think?)
How many times do we need to ask them to put up the nets for volleyball!? In fact , one morning it was part of the program and she decided it was 'too windy' even though there was a sufficient number of people wanting to play. I found her lazy! The following day we didn't even bother to argue with her again. Walking through that area we noticed a couple of passengers that were putting up the nets. They told us the same story and offered to put up the nets themselves ( which they did) It only took a min and there was a huge group of us playing for hrs! TAKE NOTE SPORT ORGANISER some of your staff are lazy and they need to be sent down to clean cabins so they can understand the definition of good service1 ( PLEASE NOTE: it wasn't that the courts were being used by others! )
ROCK CLIMBING : One of the girls was totally disinterested. Some of the younger kids, my nephew being one of them, was hooked up and that was it! No explanation on how to climb, no interest placed at all! I found that somewhat annoying. We were trying to guide him and explain the very little amount that we knew to him.
Too cold to jump in! There were many spas if you like that sort of thing. I didn't visit the adults-only pool as I found it too quiet for my liking . I much preferred the main pool area where all the action was happening. THE BAND the JAMAICANS were FANTASTIC!! We always rushed to the main pool bar to listen to them - great choice of summer mixes with a latin/jamaican flavour. I thoroughly enjoyed it and so did the party we travelled with!
On the last day of our cruise I decided to test the waters in the adult only pool - they were warm!! OMG they heat this pool and not the main one and we didn't know!
POOL (ADULTS ONLY) - DISSAPOINTED
Even though we partied until late, Im still an early riser. I like to visit the gym early in the morning & what I saw I didn't like. Im sure the RCI are aware of this but it looked very unattractive .
My suspicion is that in the last couple of weeks the cruise is sold at very affordable prices so they can fill up the ship - without hesitation I know these cabins are allocated in the much lower decks. On rocky days, especially in the mornings, I found many people sleeping in the adults pool area where it is protected from the wind and the sun lounges are cushioned. One morning at around 6am this area was jam packed with 'sleepers'. Totally unattractive and cheap. It was extremely visible what these people do. They leave their cabins and make their ' new home" these lounge chairs. We're not silly RCI, fix this problem. It was looking like a ghetto!
SUN LOUNGES IN MAIN POOL AREA
Always a generous amount of sun lounges to select from , never really had any problems in finding sun chairs that accommodated a large group of us , but I will say that that wasted space on either side of the bar area which was only for the use of GOLD PASSES was a waste! Hardly used by anyone! I don't know where the GOLD PASS MEMBERS were but they certainly never went to the pool area!
What a mess!! Seriously? You walk a mile to get towels ( one point only in the whole pool area) and they need your sea pass to release them to you. You then need to return them and again scan your sea pass , this is so you 'don't steal them'??? What is this all about!? Those horrible blue towels get stolen??? Have you seen the state of those blue towels??? For god's sake, you have staff ( like any hotel) that can go around and collect used towels ! This was a complete joke…….one particular day we left the towels for staff to collect them and the following day we were questioned as to where these towels were as they had no record of them being returned??…If RCI read this , come on guys , you have a brain, use it! Totally ridiculous!
GYM & SPA
I loved the gym! Spacious, lots of treadmills, walkers, rowers. The weights area was quite large. The aerobics area was way too small!! They have all those bikes taking up so much space - the instructor ( swedish guy) was very good . WHen you're doing a class you want to be in your own little space , not on top of each other . This was a turn off. We did some classes but I could stand the crowded area.
One thing that they need is to have more accessibility for is wipes and bins. I noticed many gym users did not wipe the equipment after they finished . THIS DROVE ME NUTS! There was no one to supervise , nor was there any signs to remind all PLEASE WIPE DOWN AFTER USE. My first day , it took me a few mins searching high and low for wipes, finally found one packet to accommodate twenty bikes and treadmills! It then took me another 5 mins to locate a bin so I could dispose of it. ( The bin was outside of the gym area) I can't believe no one has complaint about this before. I did try to find a staff member so I could bring this to their attention, but I never had any luck.
We had a visit of the Spa and the girls there are busting to get your business. Im sure its very good , these girls seemed to have an enormous amount of experience but unfortunately we were kept so busy with other things on the ship that we never got time to visit. I think if you are travelling on your own and not in a large group this has to be a must!
FOOD - BREAKFAST
There are a number of places to eat breakfast
Hot food at the WINDJAMMER was buffet style. I couldn't cope with the crowds and the table selection. You had to jump to grab a table and then had to wait for those poor staff members that run frantically from one table to another , to wipe it down. This was a horrible experience and we did it only once. YES there is a lot of variety in this dining room.
Hot food MAIN DINING - this is menu based. Yes you get seated , there may be a short wait but never a long time. You get asked if you mind sharing or prefer solo. You select from a menu, not as much selection but service was much better & STAFF FANTASTIC!!! I can't remember the ladies name at the entry of the Main Dining, this lady knew all our names! WAY TOO SPECIAL!!
You could have muffins and hot sandwiches and cakes in the main bistro in the promenade if you wanted a lighter meal. ROOM SERVICE was of no charge!
FOOD - LUNCH
So much variety! I had read that some of the other ships in RCI fleet serve more variety. We couldn't complain. They had the BBQ by the pool side, excellent idea . I found it to have lots of variety, from meats, sausages, seafood of all sort , cold meats, and salads…..then there was the sushi and of of course your pastas, veggies, meats, fish, pizza, you name it, served in the WINDJAMMER.. There was also sandwiches and desserts to select from the main bistro at no extra cost.
FOOD - DINNER
This was my favourite part of dining in all aspects!
Let me start first of all by explaining that there was 18 of us to sit and it was a challenge for those in charge to accommodate us all . ROLLY a huge thank you to you ! When we arrived we all had been allocated different times and different levels to dine on. This was just crazy! Even the five of us booked by the same travel agent , were split. Two of us had "my time dining" others had 8.30 but different levels. Nothing less than crazy! It took them 3 days to get us all together the way we wanted it to be ( one long large table made up of three) and we had the best of times on this table!!
MICHEAL, THANK YIOUUUU, you and the boys were the best!!!
They knew all our names!
They knew what drinks we had each night!
They didn't miss a beat!!
The service was the BEST we've had in a very long time!!
THE FOOD was delicious!! Im a huge critic on food! ANd perhaps the food at WINDJAMMER would have let me down for dinnertime however we were never disappointed with the servings and the quality of food served at MAIN DINING . Between the 18 of us we tried many dishes and not one of us was disappointed. I had read a lot about cold food being served on RCI , in the 14 nights not one of us was served a cold dish. The meat dishes were outstanding!! The desserts were delicious!! There were a couple of nights after returning from land excursions, we were quite hungry and it was no problems serving us 2 mains rather than entree/main…….this was my favourite time of the day where we all got together to chat about our day trips ext and MICHEAL and his team made it even that more special ….a huge thankyou to them!
FOOD AFTER HRS
Anything! Its dangerous stuff!
I can't count how many times we'd come back from dancing at an early hr of the morning and the staff at the bistro would see us coming and the pizzas would start flowing!
Im not a coffee drinker but my husband and many of our family and friends travelling with us are coffee drinkers. You could BUY 'real' coffee at only one place on the ship, the rest of the ship served dirty brown water! Everyone complaint about the coffee!
This is tricky but again I have to give credit where credit is due. Thank you to RCI for sorting this out after some arguing on the first day. ( but it was sorted and thats all that matters)
I don't drink alcohol so therefore I opted for a water package . We also purchased soft drink packages & water packages for our other cabin and we tried to purchase an all inclusive alcohol package for my husband. After many attempts on line it was explained to us that this could not be achieved unless all parties staying in the same cabin purchased this package. i.e I also had to purchase one for my husband to purchase his. After a number of calls to head office RCI we were told that we needed to do this at reception once on board the ship as it is something that can only be overridden on the on-board system.
This is when the fun started!!!
They told us that it was not possible unless I purchased the package.
I explained i don't drink alcohol.
They asked me to produce a medical certificate as to why I don't drink alcohol.
I can't even begin to express my facial expression with such a question thrown at me!! I was furious!! I said are you discriminating against a non drinker? Should I be asking drinkers for their medical certificate to show why they drink alcohol.! This was going to finish ugly…….I asked to speak to Management! We waited & waited and it was finally granted !
Good luck to all that fall in this category . Take the above advice and be prepared to argue for your rights!
DRINKS (FREE) on Board - there are free non alcoholic drinks offered on the ship - water, iced tea ( which tastes disgusting!) and a lemon drink which was so refreshing and made from real lemons! This one was very popular!
FORMAL NIGHTS - three in a 14 day cruise although we did get dressed up for most dinner nights ( heels and all)
Again , I read lots of scary stories about the whole ship getting sick and I must say this was my biggest fear. Travelling in a large group allows you to do things that you don't ordinary do , such as dance the night away until early hrs of the morning, and in doing so we saw how they clean the ship when everyone else is sleeping…..incredible!! They had ladders, vacuums, brushes, you name it , every corner of the ship gets a clean. The deco around the ship, no matter how high it was , there was someone there blowing away the dust……the elevator buttons where cleaned a number of times during the day as was the hand rails of the stairs. Nothing was missed and it showed!
The beautiful lady outside the WINDJAMMER singing 'wasssshy washhhy hands" was a delight to have around to remind all to wash hands with the 'dry soap' from the dispensers at the entry of each dining room .
They covered activities for the young ones and the older crowd. They ran classes for cupcakes, sports tournaments, quiz tournaments, casino tournaments, zumba and line dancing, card lessons, karaoke, auctions, seminars galore. We walked with our programmes everywhere . There was approx 2-3 things to chose from at each time slot.
The girls doing the Zumba and Flash Mob where great….but I can't say the same of the LATIN BALLROOM teacher…….this man has to go!
The 10 of us walked out of the room. You go on a cruise to have fun…he turned around at one time to SHHHHHHH us because we were laughing too loud ( and we were laughing at how bad we all were) He'd stop each time someone wasn't paying attention….THIS RUSSIAN MAN HAS TO BE SENT BACK TO RUSSIA AND LEFT THERE. Im sure there are many others out there wanting his job and making it fun for the passengers!
I think there was a lack of activities for the 18s-25s age group but again , we were in a large group with 6 of us in that age group and they made up for it in their own way.
ACTIVITIES CO-ORDINATOR ( LUKE I think his name is)
I don't know about this guy. Yeah, sure he had personality but did I ever see him around the ship? NEVER!!
He likes his morning TV show and he's good at that but when it comes to coming out and getting people together and 'getting the party started'….he was nowhere to be seen! A complete phantom!!
He made an appearance in the pool for the water volleyball and that was it. I read so many great reviews about co-ordinators on other ships that I was heavily disappointed with this guy!
OMG how expensive is this ! You are better off to enter the BlackJack tournament for $20 each day than to play BINGO. There was 5 of us which I had too pay PP at $38 each game, just under $200. We only played once…..heavily disappointed! AND heavily disappointed with the CALLER, there wasn't any real enthusiasm or fun…….SUGGESTION , more winners at smaller $$ prices rather than one or two large lots of money prices!
There isn't one person who doesn't say P&O do this the best. OK possibly a younger group however we are a real partying lot and I think we did better than the phantom co-ordinator on this cruise ! He was nowhere to be seen at these so -called parties!! A REAL LET DOWN RCI !! As a group we make it happen and therefore we had a lot of fun ( can I also say we got people up to dance with us!) If I had been traveling on my own , it would have been such a let down!! AND I BLAME IT ON THE CO_ORDINATOR who was NEVER THERE! Who ever hired him thinks he has so much personality….yes for TV , not for cruising!
SPECIALTY NIGHT - they announced on the ship that there would be an 80's night ( which was fun) Our macho co-ordinator did a Macho Man dance with some other guys on the bridge across the promenade and we never saw him again….
They had a hawaiian night in WELLINGTON , do they not know that NZ is freezing at nights! We managed to buy some leis for the night and they looked great over our jumpers! But none else took anything because none else was warned about these nights before we left Sydney.
I real let down in the entertainment department..again!
He was our man!
Smart enough to test the crowd with music….he knew exactly what we liked and he kept us dancing to the early hrs of the morning with his latin beat , 80s and dance music…..we had a blast with him!!
We come from an entertainment background so my expectations where not going to be met. We also have an ice skater in the family so again I was going to be very critical of these shows.
The main singer in the showcase was very good
The three boys -singers - That show was very entertaining and great singing.
The first comedian was excellent! The other two could have just gone home - one was so vulgar , families with the kids were getting up and leaving ( along with us)
ICE SHOW - The costumes, amazing - the main skater pulled out of her doubles all show! Again, the american crowd would have been disappointed! They know their skating!
Who selects for these shows! If you spin you can't travel half way down the rink - very amateur…the Russian skater with the ring was excellent!!! Now that was good to see! The duo were excellent as well…..over all you will enjoy - You are allocated a day for this show so if you miss you don't get another chance! They do this due to the numbering of seat in the (ice) theatre.
This ship is too large to drop tenders in shallow waters so it is very limited in the destinations its able to visit. The DESTINATIONS it stops at are not so attractive . Most are working ports that make you question yourself if its worth getting off the ship!
1st STOP - NEW CALEDONIA
DONT purchase your bus/tour ticket on the ship!
They were charging $ 160 for a ticket that cost us $10 each! And I believe there were passengers that bought it at $5!
There are two bus companies and they both do the same route. One is green other one is red. You can get off and visit the city or you could get off at any point and sight-see and then hop back on a bus to get you to the depot. The ship organises free shuttle buses to the depot. We stopped at a beach we like the look of ( opposite duck island) , we then had lunch across the road from there ( pizza) which was pricy. We found the people in New Caledonia a little on the arrogant side unfortunately , no smiles here!
2nd STOP - FIJI
Again , the port is terrible!! Ugly! DOnt expect anything beautiful at all!
Except the people, there are truly beautiful!
As the ship neared the port, we were surrounded with small boats screaming BULA at as…it was a wonderful welcoming !!
I took some advice from this sight and it backfired on me….
The advice was to purchase tickets for excursions on the island - they were half price to what you pay on the ship. The problem was that the ship came in late and all excursions had already left and even though we could have got ourselves to an island, we couldn't get a return trip in time to get back on the ship. If purchased by via the trip , we would have got off as a priority and straight on a bus.
The taxi fee was ridiculous…….we started at $70 each one of us….and we got it down to $20 each , they drove us to Denaru (Sheraton). We were warned about drinking water in Fiji so I was totally paranoid. The Sheraton seemed like a safe bet!
When we got there , the staff told us we were not able to use the pool area and like good people we are , we nodded and jumped in! At the end of the day we bought lunch and drinks and paid for water sports - we deserved to jump in the pool! :) :) We played music ( the resort had no music playing!) and we played volleyball with the locals - it was a great day!
FIJI has terrible beaches on the mainland ( if thats what you call them) & it has beautiful islands! Do not believe them if they tell you that they will take you to a sandy beach on the mainland, there aren't any! It has to be an island excursion. This is where I think the VOYAGER lets you down if you're looking for water activities……too far from them!
As we departed , the Fijians on the port gave us a farewell show that brought tears to my eyes - great people!
3rd STOP - AUCKLAND
Id been to Auckland before and I knew it wasn't going to impress me all that much. We did have two from our party do the FALL from the SKY TOWER. Expensive but they do a great package for you (approx $300 pp) .. There is always some entertainment on the port side that you'll enjoy.
The port is right beside the HILTON - we were eye to eye with our Hiton neighbours in their room! First time I had to draw the curtains closed, and that wasn't any fun on a ship!
4th STOP - TAURANGA
Beautifull, what a gorgeous place this was. I wish I had seen more of this place!
It was complete madness when we disembarked at this destination. We had nothing booked and there were passengers from two cruise liners trying to do the same as us!
They ran out of cars to hire. We were so disappointed. I don't understand a tourist destination can run out of cars for hire. They are aware that there over 7,000 passengers getting off these ships and they are not prepared!?
We walked to the centre of town and decided to browse through some pamphlets that I had collected . We called every car company until we hit gold! One wonderful helpful lady said that they use a mini bus for transporting kids but it wasn't required on that day so she gave it to us! ($200 and seated 12)
We drove for 3 hrs into the countryside and found a place called TAUPO reknown for its fishing. We did the RAPID JETS (approx $99 per head) on the Aratiatia Rapids , which I highly recommend! This is not jet boats on flat water nor is is white water rafting , but it certainly guaranteed to get you soaked and thrill you!! The photos they took were amazing ($35 on CD )…we highly recommend you do this!
5th STOP - WELLINGTON
I actually said to myself , this will be my relaxation day…
wrong! It was an absolutely glorious hot day ( very unusual for Wellington- we had packed our winters for this trip!) We took a day trip around the city and the surroundings ($10 bus transfer to the city from port & tour $75 pp) A lot cheaper than on the ship! . We took the tram down to the city ( don't take it up to the mountain , you won't be able to take photos & you'll pay double & the lines are so long ), we visited the Botanical Gardens and the local beaches ( water was a crazy 10 degrees cold!) It was a fun day…..again The Voyager stops at a horrible port , more so based in the city and you are parallel to the freeways…..
If I travel again in a group, whether it be 18 or 2 of us, I will go to Dick Smith and buy myself walkie talkies. Quite a few people had them and it made life so much easier on such a large ship. I asked at concierge and they don't have any available for hire.
I tried to get a power converter for the use of my blow drier and was totally unsuccessful - yes they have blow driers and they are ok. Your straightener will work. You are not allowed irons on this liner however I took a travel iron and they didn't find it! This just helps take off some of the crease. There is no self use laundry so everything gets charged . They do have one day during the last week on the ship which they offer you for a low price of $30 to wash a bag full of clothes - extra to have them pressed.
INTERNET - don't bother!! You will be charged for starring at a screen loading for 10mins! Give up before you get charged $$ for not a thing. We tried three times and were completely unsuccessful. Best holiday Ive ever had!
Would I do this cruise again?…..No, not the same itinerary
Would I go back on the Voyager ?…Yes, specially after April, after its had its renovations but I find it hard to think where else does it go other than all around NZ- they really don't know what to do with this ship here in Australia!
Would I cruise again?…Ive asked my husband why has it taken tis long to discover cruising. No more land holidays for me!