This was our first cruise ever and wanted to get away for Christmas - just the two of us and have to say I found from the very start the ease of booking, pre information and every other part of it very professional and informative. We travelled by air to Sydney. The embarkation was very quick and simple with little or no queues.
We got our Seapass card and we were away - through Customs/ immigration and we were on the ship. Once there, our cabin was ready and was very clean and sufficient room - but not really cramped at all. We had a balcony with a double glazed sliding door. Two chairs and table the balcony which was clean and tidy.
We opted for the Our Time dining, and used the Cascades dining area as a base, however got the dining package where we were able to utilise all the Speciality restaurants which we preferred. We found Cascades very 'busy' and was the first time we had seen food from the servery brought over to us with a plastic lid - similar to what you would expect to see in a hospital. The service there was very quick, but found that it did not suit my own expectations. We did make use of all the other Dining areas on every night, and cannot commend them highly enough. Each had their own special feel to them and were fantastic. The only thing I would comment on in a slightly negative way was the Izumi (Japanese) restaurant where the food was excellent - but atmosphere was lacking. We would recommend the dining package so you have options of in our opinion exceptional restaurants. The only one that was lacking was Rita's Cantina - Mexican, which was a little average - but don't think it was part of the dining package. Of course the best value has to be the Windjammer - where food is excellent and available at most times of day with a massive selection.
Entertainment, I found that the snippets of the shows somewhat average with a comedian receiving little or no laughter. I walked out on the Aussie Boys show as I did not find it good use of my time and were again very average (in my opinion). The guys that were excellent were Gordon and Andrew (Entertainment managers? - Ive forgotten their official title/position) and were excellent value and comic who looked after many of the Trivia evenings and random ship entertainment - they had excellent personalities and wooed the crowds.
Excursions, -- Very good, I was very sad to read another comment on here about disabled persons on the cruise and their ability to use the Tenders etc. and was offended by the writers attitude. Its called Patience and be thankful for good health yourself.
Disembarkation, - Very organised, quick and efficient, and were met by a pre organised transfer coach to the airport which was good value
Overall - Fantastic ship, Fantastic crew and highly entertaining and professional Captain. Yes we have booked again.