Our gruop consisted of my husband and I (50's), our three children aged 20,23 and 24 and my mother and her sister(80's).
Embarkation in Sydney was very slow and chaotic. I have left from this terminal with another cruise line without any of the hassle. Check in was a disaster with credit card accounts set up as cash accounts, and despite providing a waiver and confirming three times my 20 yo daughter still received a seapass card which prevented her from consuming alcohol.
Overall the worst service on the ship. It took two two trips to fix my daughters seapass card only to be advised that she needed to carry two pieces of paper with her at all times to be able to purchase drinks. On Day Three our children's seapass cards were cancelled as they had set up their account as a cash only account despite us registering online as a credit account and providing credit cards details at check in. Two more trips to Guest Relations to fix this problem. Day Four saw my Seapass card cancelled. They added our credit card details to the children's stateroom, but in doing so removed them from ours placing us on a cash only account. It took five trips to Guest Relations to fix this one, as the first three times they reissued cards saying I must have placed them near my mobile phone. I kept asking if there was a problem with the account and only on the forth visit did they check and told me my bank was to blame. Visit five that day and they admitted they had accidentally removed the credit cards and finally fixed it. Pretty embarrassing when every time you try to use your Seapass card it is rejected.
Ports and Shore Excusions
Being a large group we decided to arrange our own tours. Mostly hiring a vehicle and driving ourselves. Anyone who has booked a tour through the ship has priority leaving the ship meaning there was quite a wait for tenders. Even though we queued for some time to get early tender tickets it still took at least 1-/12 hours from advertised arrival time to be able to get ashore. In Brisbane we docked at the grain terminal miles from anywhere. $30 to
We purchased the dining package but only got to use 3 of the restaurants. Chops Grille was OK but we were seating at a table facing a blank corner. Food was plentiful but I did not rate the steak as any better than in the dining room. The Captains Table was a lovely meal and the wine pairing was mostly very good. A bit disappointed in the saki and amaretto which were not to every one's liking. The night was spoiled as the ship's air conditioning was not working and it was too hot in a small room. The meal at Giovanni's was excellent with very large serves. The food in the dining room was very good and always something to satisfy the very fussy eaters in our group. Our table staff Otis and Jimmy were outstanding and made a real fuss of my daughter who celebrated her birthday on the cruise. Ate lunch in the dining room a few times which was very good. Try the salad bar - excellent choice. Windjammer was OK for breakfast but the choice was the same every day. Lunch was disappointing and the quality was poor. It was impossible for us to sit together as a group and resorted to sitting outside for all meals here. There is just not enough room available.
We purchased a wine package - definitely the way to go if you want a bottle of wine with your dinner. Happy Hour at Rita's Cantina is a must - they make the best Margaritas and between 6.30 and 7.30 they have a special buy 2 get one free. The staff here are excellent and really looked after us.
Cocktails of the day were interesting and usually $6 - $8. Basic spirits were around $6.50 and cocktails range between $7 and $10. Normal beers were $6.50
We had three staterooms together on Deck 9. Our stateroom attendant was fantastic. Nothing was too much trouble. Only issue was a plumbing problem on our Deck which was fixed very quickly.
A good variety of activities catering for all of our group. Mostly the shows were of a good standard. Found you had to get to most activities around 30 minutes early to be able to get a seat.