My sister and her daughter flew in from Cairns and my mother, myself and my daughter flew into Sydney airport to catch the Rhapsody of the Seas leaving Sydney. Getting a cab to Circular Quay was easy but everything was a bit confusing. No one knew where to go and the staff were not very helpful. It was ages until we could make our way into the customs area and the Americans all around us were bitterly complaining as they have never had to endure this type of delay before. We were waiting for a couple of hours and there were no seats and no refreshments. My sister had a hiccup with her passport so we were all delayed for a while. We had all missed lunch due to the wait and when we were finally able to board there was no food available!!!! We would have to wait for dinner.
We had a family suite which was a great size and the stewards were good. Actually, one of them was great the other was so so. We loved the little towel animals.
We had requested a large table with others as we were a family of five. Our table was a rickety four seater stuck right in the corner where all the waiters come out! We hated this table the whole time and should have asked to be moved but the wait staff were the best wait staff we have ever experienced in our lives and we stuck it out as the wait staff were awesome. The food was not as good as our last P&O cruise and was very "American". The plates in the windjammer were ridiculously huge which encouraged overpiling. We ended up having breakfast and lunch most days in the dining room and that was excellent. Overall, the food was absolutely lovely. It would have been nice to have incorporated more Australian and NZ food or have a theme, for example, kiwi fruit pavalova when doing a port in NZ. The waiters do a flag walk where they wave flags of different countries. It would have been nice to put an Australian and NZ flag in there.
The entertainment was fantastic. The dancers were so much better than the P&O cruises. This is because they are specifically hired just for their performances and they only do that particular job. On P&O you see the dancers doing every job available, they certainly get their pound of flesh. The costumes were fantastic and the Australian entertainment was great. I don't think that the Americans really got the Australian sense of humour. P&O average age would probably be about 45-50. On this cruise, the average age would have been about 75-80!!!!!! When boarding i saw a group of about 10 young people in their early 20's and thought great. It turned out that this group were actors that were hired for "Getaway" the TV show to make the ship look like a young ship and they disembarked in Melbourne!!! The Australian market is a young market so I hope that this worked. On one of the nights they had music going back through the decades. They had 40's, 50's, 60's and 70's and then it was good night. My sister calls out "Hey, I don't remember any of that, I wasn't even born then"!!! The triva shows and game show questions were all very heavily American weighted.
This ship was so new, shiny and clean. It never seemed crowded even though it was full and it was so smooth. Most Americans were complaining that it was an "old" ship. To us, coming from a P&O culture of ancient breaking down vessels it was beautiful - in capitals. It was a shame that our two 15yr old girls could not use the indoor pool as NZ weather is not very tropical and the only pool available was an outside pool. A lot of areas were off limits to the two girls. My daughter made very good use of the teen club. It was disapointing that there was only a handful of teens on board but it was early days for Rhapsody in Australia.
The duty free shopping on board was fantastic. Much better shopping on Royal Carribean than P&O. The variety was good but it was the cheap duty free prices and the upmarket shopping that I loved. Bought a Guess handbag for a third of the Australian price and a mens watch eco drive for about a third of the aussie price.
We loved this cruise so much that I took my husband to NZ recently for our 30th wedding anniversary and our family is going cruising on Mariner of the Seas later this year. We are so over cruising the Pacific. we are now choosing a cruise ship over destination and Royal Carribean have won us over.
Christchurch is lovely too. The botanical gardens are a really great spot.
Napier. Never arrived in Napier as the propeller was damaged and had to bypass.