1St trip on Royal Caribbean 10th Cruise, 2 on Carnival Spirit and 7 on P&O and one very old Cruise on the late Mikhail Lermontov in 1986 just before she sank (LoL) we decided to do the RCCL as we are booked on the Radiance from Hawaii to Sydney in September and wanted to see what RCCL was like and had to offer. There was 5 of us Myself, Wife and 3YO Daughter and also my Mother and Father.
Fantastic Traveled to Circular Quay by Train arrived at 10.10am and casually walked to the OPT dropped of the bags and walked up to the entrance and were told that we could board straight away. walked up stairs and there were 30+ checking agents with about 10 people checking in straight through to customs and then on to the boat typical pain in the bum photo's that you could not skip then bag and security scans however we were on the boat in less than 15 Minutes from entering the terminal the best ever.
On the Ship:
We embarked and had the Drink More
package so it was straight up to deck 9 for a beer, after a couple we went in to the windjamer for lunch. Nice food good variety friendly staff. A few teething issues with drinks but all OK very quickly. Cabins were ready at 1PM. My Family had an Inside cabin #7021 and my parents a Balcony 7592 Both great cabins bathrooms a tad small I am a big Man and did fight with the shower curtain but that's they was it goes. Our cabin Steward was the best I have had (Yani) he was fantastic in every way. His approach to the way he dealt with the cabin was perfection and the relationship he had with my 3 YO was unbelievable to the point that she kept asking where is yani I want to go see Him. A credit to his service. My parents Cabin was also attended very well by their cabin steward Stanley.
When we booked My Family booked 6 Months from departure and ware assigned Early dining and my parents booked about 2 months before and were wait listed for early but when we boarded we were all at the same table by default. our wait staff (names escape me) were brilliant nothing was too much trouble, as with most dining experiences I like to try something different and this trip was no different but when I got something that was not to my liking there was no questions I had to order something better (the head waiter was adamant). If the head waiter thought that something that any of us ordered was a bit small he also ordered something else and put on the table for us to try. Best service. As we had the Beverage package after the first night our drink of choice was waiting for us at the table when we arrived and were quickly replaced if we wanted more.
We did enjoy having a drink in all of the bars over the 10 Days but I have to say that our favorite was the schooner bar on deck 6 it did have a small issue with a leaking pipe that did cause a small smell however the service form one of the waiter’s ‘Lorend’ was exceptional. Nothing was a problem we was extremely attentive once you dink was close to empty he was there asking if you would like another offering suggestions as to what cocktails we may like. We had the drink package as I mentioned earlier and most waiters will steer clear of you as they don't get the 15% tip on the bill as is charged normally but this did not bother him he was the best staff member I met on the ship. All other Bars were nice and the casino staff were also better than average. The only down side that I can mention is that some bars did at time run out of items (I drink VB most of the time) and in some instances a bar would run out and say that they will have more tomorrow. My opinion is that if they have more on the ship, get someone to go get it (LOL).
Something that normally does not bother me, however this is where I think that RCCL have dropped the ball. On the 10 night cruise there was only two guest entertainers (advertised). An illusionist about day 5 and a comedian on the last night. Both were very good (the Comedian was one of the best I have seen). The cruise director did an Adults only comedy show, don't get me wrong he was funny but why are they getting the cruise director doing shows that all other company's hire comedians for? During the day they have the usual stuff like talks and trivia but a little more imagination would not go astray.
The little things:
The park Cafe was not open at appropriate times. On port days not open for lunch until 1:00 closed early at breakfast why who knows.
The Windjamer - men can't wear a singlet to but women can ???. Are we not on holidays?
Internet very expensive.
We did not do any shore excursion so can't make comment except they did seem overpriced.
Nice place when we were there it was a bit windy and the water was a bit stirred up so snorkeling was not the best lovely people and a good day.
Great place only down side is that you need to get a bus/taxi to anywhere as it is a long way from the ship to the main part of town but well worth the visit. I have spent a lot of time in Villa and believe that it is one of the best places in the south pacific. Must do the cascade water falls.
Nice place to visit the markets at the dock are good you can get trips to the blue holes which I am told are nice but other than that if you are not a certified diver not much to do.
Champagne Bay (Hog Harbor)
The best port of the trip. The people were amazing they really wanted us to be there. The water was amazing from about two meters from the shore you were able to snorkel and see the amazing coral and sea life I personally spent about 2-3 hours swimming around looking at the fish and coral I wished we could have spent a couple of days there it was that great. The locals cooked lobsters on the beach at reasonable prices and from what I heard they were straight from the water and absolutely amazing.
Very smooth we opted for 'you take the bags and we walk off' and it was very smooth from the time we left the boat to we were waiting for our shuttle bus was about 15min very well organized.
We have a really nice time I was told by a lot of people that once we had been on RCCL that we would not go back to Carnival or P&O Australia. At this time I would have to disagree, although I had a great time I do believe that on the Rhapsody of the Seas there is not enough for kids to do (kids of all ages U3 to U18) and feel that if you want a good family cruise (young Kids) that his may not be the boat for you. I am however looking forward to my trans pacific cruise on the Radiance of the seas in September from the lovely Hawaii to Sydney a bigger ship with more activities for Kids I have been told