Sailed from Sydney on the 4th of December. The boarding experience was good considering fairly poor facilities at the Sydney International Terminal. Our cabin was ready well prepared and in good condition. Our cabin attendant appeared almost imediately and was available and helpful for the entire trip.
We booked late sitting dining and were seated with for other couples of similar age and were enjoyable company to be with. Our table was near the Captains table on formal nights which was nice. Unfortunately next to us was a table with a young couple and a child under two who cried most nights or knocked wine and food on to the floor this tended to detract from the experience. In addition the father regularly contravened the dress code for the dining room and wore shorts and sometime T-shirts. This attire was tolerated for the entire trip by the Dining room Maitre D despite being brought to his attention by our table supervisor. The dining room dress code is clearly displayed on boards at the entrance of the dining room. The Maitre-D did not support his staff and allowed ships rules to be flagrantly floughted. We wondered what other rules might be allowed to be ignored on the ship. Our wives and most of the ladies brought outfits to dress up and it is dissapointing to see standards being lowered. Our table staff in contrast were fantastic and were 5 star plus. If a rule is not going to be enforced change it, get rid of it!
The food was good but a limited selection in the main dining room. One gets the feeling you are being encouaged to go to the pay extra restaurants. The food in the Buffet was also good with more variety though finding tables at times difficult. Generally we organised our own tours ashore as they were much cheaper. We did book a ship tour at the Bay of Islands which we missed as poor weather caused the called to cancelled. We struck fairly rough seas but the Captain did a good job minimising the discomfort and skirting the biggest seas. It was good to be on a 90,000 tonne ship with stabilisers. Unfortunately the American idea of good coffee does not meet the Australian idea of good coffee. The coffee is starbucks in cardboard mugs. Starbucks had to close a lot of their stores in Australia. The Cappuccino is particularly below what Australian's are used to in any of our capital cities. There are little signs that the accountants have been in, no daily news update to the cabins with the daily Cruise Compass, great emphasis to try and encourage passengers to go to the pay extra restaurants.
It was however a very enjoyable cruise because of very good attendants, good company and a good itinerary. Special thanks to Jimmy Archer in Tauranga. Would we cruise Royal Caribbean, as we said in the onboard reveiw maybe, maybe not as two of our first considerations are itinerary and the calender dates.