We arrived at Sydney's Overseas Passengers terminal at 10.30 am as we were told that check in would start at 11am.A officer walked up and down the line of people waiting making sure we had all our seapass forms already filled in and giving us custom forms to fill in while we waited for the doors to open.At 11am they opened and I was amazed at how quickly we started to move.And by 11.30am we were in and enjoying a cold drink and something to eat up at the Windjammer. We were lucky that we had arrived early and got on board so quickly.As we did hear later on that some people had to wait a long time in the sun to check in.Sydney's Overseas terminal could do with more undercover waiting area as it can take awhile to check in over 2000 people.Also it wouldn't hurt to have more people to check you in.
After lunch we went to explore the ship.And boy did it have the WOW factor that everyone told us it would have with all its glass.Also the ship was all decked out for Christmas and you knew straight away you were going to have a good time. In the Centrum there was a 2 story Christmas tree and lots of Christmas lights and on different decks around the ship they had gingerbread villages.
After 1pm we were allowed in to our cabins and we got our suitcase at around 2pm. We stayed in 2 Grand Suites (1030 & 1032) as we were traveling with our 2 children and my husbands parents. Our rooms were large with plenty of storage. The main room had a large queen size bed,a sofa, 2 chairs,coffee table and a flat screen TV.The bathroom had 2 sinks and a shower over the bath it also had plenty of storage.The balcony was large with 2 chairs a table and a sun lounge.Not long after we arrived at our suite.Our suite attendant Phillip Santos came and introduced himself and he was fantastic for the whole cruise and nothing ever seemed to much trouble for him. And he always seemed to be there to open the door for you when your arms were full after you had been out all day on a shore tour. His cheery smile and good morning was always a great start to the day. Staying in suites we were lucky enough to be able to use the concierge club. Which was a great place to go for a quiet coffee or a free pre dinner drink or 2. Our concierge Juan was a wonderful help in booking into restaurants also he was wonderful in getting my father in-law glasses fixed when they broke.
The food on the ship was wonderful with so many different places to choice from.
We ate in Windjammer for lunch and breakfast a couple of times and food was good with lots choice that you got to pick from.My daughter liked the Dog house that served different types of hot dogs for lunch the best.We also ate at the Park Cafe which had great food. They make a great roast beef roll and they also have a create your own salad bar.The main dinning room was a great place to for breakfast or lunch if you wanted table service.
We ate in the main dining room most nights and the food was wonderful with around 4 or 5 different choice for each coarse.Our wait staff Jeanette and Sandip gave great services.They made every meal wonderful and feel like a celebration.
We did go to Giovannis Table for their Murder mystery dinner and the food was great and so was the show.I would highly recommend you book before you go as they only do a couple of dinner show per cruise and they book out quick.
Christmas on the ship was a wonderful experience for both young and old at heart.With everyone singing Christmas carols in the Centrum on Christmas Eve . And the children loved it when Santa arrived on a ships tender on Christmas morning. Santa and Mrs Claus and some reindeer's had come to deliver presents to all the children (up to the 17yrs. Dinner that night was a formal night and it was a great way to celebrate Christmas day.
They had some wonderful shows on in the Theatre. With something new to go and see every night.They did have a problem with their Christmas show it was very loud and some people had to leave due to the noise. Also some people didn't like that it was very American in its contents.But we found all the rest of the shows that we went to see were great.
On past reviews we had read that people found the crew unapproachable .We found on our cruise all the staff and crew to be very approachable and friendly.(Even the Captain went to help my mother in-law finds some lemons).
We did private tours at most of our ports of call as there was 6 people in our group and it was a lot cheaper than booking through the ship.And we got to see and do what we wanted to do.
We loved every minute of our cruise and didn't want to get off at the end.