We ate lunch in the Windjammer then walked off the ship and had a sightseeing walk around the city of Sydney. When we came back on board, we requested an upgrade and agreed to pay $400US for a larger room on Deck 7 with a balcony. We were so glad we did! And although we were only 4 cabins along from the previous reviewer, Kezzh2, we didn't smell any cigarette smoke at all and enjoyed our balcony immensely. It was like an extra room as we had perfect weather (99% of the time). We loved hanging out on the balcony, especially when we arrived in port! Like Kezzh2, the previous reviewer, our cabin was attended by Gene, who was outstanding in professionalism, cleanliness, politeness and friendliness. He cleaned every part of our room! It was always spotless! Cleaning up after 4 women in one cabin would not be easy! I even saw him cleaning the tracks of the sliding doors! The food was great with lots of variety both in the Windjammer and the diningroom. Were the waiters doing our figures any favors when they kept giving us more and more wonderful and varied desserts? We loved the food, especially the smoked salmon (with bagels, cream cheese and capers) for breakfast. The Windjammer food was good but the diningroom was more social and we met many interesting people from all around the world.
There were many great activities on board and we always felt we had plenty of choices. I enjoyed learning the basics of Bridge and my new dinner companions taught me Bolivia. We tried out other activities too and still had time to waste around the pool swimming and enjoying watching such things as the Belly flop competition. The ports were great- NOUMEA - We looked around town, caught a local bus to the Cultural Centre (luckily it was on strike and we didn't have to pay), went to an internet cafe and coped with a confusing French keyboard and walked to Baie de Citrons where we had a beer in a restaurant and a swim at the beach. LUGANVILLE - We looked around town and then went to Aore Island. This was the perfect place to be - close to the ship, great coral and tropical fish, peaceful with a library and pool, bar and restaurant - all for the cost of a drink on the island. VILA- We just did dutyfree shopping. My children were not all impressed by the fake brandname T-shirts that I brought home. We had already seen the Cascades, Erakor Island, Irriki Island and villages on previous trips. ISLE OF PINES - The beaches were so beautiful! We had a great day at the beaches snorkeling looking at the tropical fish and the coral. We were shocked to see how much coral had been destroyed since 2005. Even more shocked when I think back to all the coral I saw in 1982. Our only complaints on the cruise were the high cost of drinks and activities such as Bingo. You will find many ways on Rhapsody to cut your drink bill. We drank well every day without blowing our budget. Take advantage of the drink of the day specials and 2 for 1 offers. Sometimes this meant we had to buy the drinks in the smoky Viking Lounge and carry them to another bar, but that's OK. Go to the Captain's Welcome, the jewelry raffle and the art auction where the drinks were free.
Our other complaint related to the rules on the Rhapsody that were NEVER enforced. Like people changing their child's nappy before and after they had been swimming in the pool, right in front of a 'NO DIAPERS IN POOL' sign. And kids who were running and jumping into the adult only pool every day. And people who wore short shorts and T shirts in the dining room at 8:30pm. Rules were written, but I don't think any were ever enforced by RCCL staff.
ENTERTAINMENT - The Shows were very professional and enjoyed by everyone. We also enjoyed the after dinner games in the Shall We Dance Lounge such as Quest, Finish That Tune(?), Battle of the Sexes, Balderdash(?) and the Island night on deck and the 70's night in the Centrum. All the music was from the 50's, 60's & 70's and it would have been nice to hear some updated music from the 90's or this century. It was a surprise when we heard Radiohead (with sanitized lyrics)! Please RCCL, update your music!!!!
Getting off the ship was just as quick and stress free as getting on! We had a wonderful cruise and it all went so fast!!! How did eleven days go so quickly??