We arrived in Sydney over the Easter weekend and spent a couple of days exploring the area. Sydney is a beautiful city with a lot to see. Embarkation - very fast. The last time we cruised out of sydney on the Sapphire Princess it was total chaos, seemed like 3,000 people showed up at the same time. This time on the Rhapsody we boarded around 11 am and there were no line ups and very efficient check-in by RCI.
For the first part of the cruise - Sydney to Honolulu we had a balcony cabin on deck 7, it was very roomy and a bigger bathroom than on other ships. However for the second leg of the trip - Honolulu to Vancouver our daughter joined us and we were moved to a very small cabin on deck 2 which with a pull down from the ceiling bed. Just not comfortable for three people.
The ship is in very good shape, very clean and the staff very helpful. We had some fantastic table mates. The food in the dining room was very good with lots of choices, as good and if not better than other lines we have been on. Most breakfasts and lunches were in the windjammer with good choices and good quality.
Ports of Call - we arranged our own tours. We waited until we got off the ship and discussed tours/excursions with locals at the dockside. In Rarotonga we arranged a taxi driver to give us a tour of the Island and then drop us off at a beautiful resort where we snorkeled and swam on the coral reef. In Bora Bora we went on a "swim with stingrays" "feed the sharks" and then to a private island for swimming snorkeling. well worth the $70 each (ships price $148 ea)!! Raeta - French Polynesia - a very beautiful island. We arranged a boat to a palm treed island where we swam snorkeled and spent the afternoon. again well worth the $40 each and a bargain compared to what the ship prices were. The sail away from Raeta was the best I've ever seen, the ship cruised close to the shore and mile after mile of beautiful undeveloped shore line.
Tahiti - a disappointment again! a typical French Island - can't use ATM anywhere, can't get cash from your credit card, will change US dollars but need to see your passport! (passports on the ship) Taxi driver takes us to a resort - "sorry you can stay on the beach its public but don't come in to our resort"
Maui - beautiful Island, we did the whale watching, saw a few whales and dolphins. Wandered around Lahaina a quaint beautiful town with the worlds biggest Banyan tree. Honolulu- 2 days - first day wandered around Wakiki and the center of the city. Second day rented a car and drove to the crater and walked to the top, its a beautiful hike to the top with some spectacular views of the city. Drove up the east side of the island toward Turtle bay but had to turn around because of a big accident. Maui - renturn as part of the B2B - did the Pineapple steam train to the resort area and snorkeled. spent the evening in Lahaina.
Hilo - rented a car and drove to the volcano, it was steaming this time and we drove to the end of the road where the lava flows into the ocean. Fantastic sail away at night with the lava flowing into the ocean and fire streaming down as the lava drops into the ocean. The captain took the ship as close as he could go and turned the ship around.
Kona - saw 20 or 30 dolphins swim under the tender as we came in to port. spent the day snorkeling and swimming right on the downtown beach. A beautiful town.
Five days at sea to Vancouver. We relaxed and found plenty of things to do on the sea days. the weather got cooler as we got closer to Vancouver. The sail in to Vancouver must be the best - under the Lions Gate bridge and into the harbor with the snow capped mountains on one side and the city skyline on the other. I think the sail away from sydney and the sail in to Vancouver must be the two best anywhere. Spent three days wandering Vancouver and up to the Capilano suspension bridge, Grouse Mountain and Whistler.