Boarding the ship in Fremantle was long, there was a delay of some sort and we just sat around for ages, although when we arrived our bags were taken from us quickly.
I liked the ship layout, there was lots of room to move about with no crowding unless you were at the Island Cafe on deck 11 at lunch time or in the morning, it was very hard to get a seat.
Although the ship was showing signs of aging and really needing a refit, it was kept clean and tidy at all times, there were 6 of us that took up 3 cabins, all close together and we had the same cabin Stewart, he kept everything clean and tidy with beds down each night and a chocolate on the pillow's, some great Towel Animals too.
Although I thought it a little odd that on an 18 night cruise our sheets were only changed once, it was a VERY hot and sticky cruise and in summer I change my sheets every week at home, I hope because we had the gratitudes taken off at the being of the cruise the sheets were only change once because of this?
We are Australians and we don't tip, but know on most cruises this is the case, but we do tip at the end of the cruise only, so if the service is good they get a great tip.
We were unhappy with the extra costs of travelling into towns, fee's were $12, $14 & $18 US so times that by 6 people, and then we also had to pay for a $25US Visa for Bali each also (even if we did not get of the ship, extras we did not budget for.
There were to many jewellery shops on board, and only one that sold the normal cruise stuff, the alcohol shop was very cheap and did a roaring trade, the cocktails were great and we tried a different one every night, our drink waitress in the Island Cafe was the best on the ship.
Yes, as you guess we did most of our meals there, the dinning room being at the back of the ship was quite rocky and tired, the first night there the chairs felt like they were going to fall apart, they also stuffed up our booking and had us all sitting at different tables although we booked altogether for one table, the waiter was nice though, on the second time at the dining room, (second formal night) we tried the dining room again, and the waiter kept saying he wanted us to come back more, we didn't and by the end of the cruise if we seen him around the ship he would ignore us (he knew there was no tip)
70% of the staff were or seemed happy, there seemed like a large turnover as staff were getting on and off at most ports, the manager in the Islands Cafe was fantastic and held a tight hold on cleanliness and staff. I was also nice to see the ships officers have meals there, although they all sat together and never mixed with guests, but they did say hello in passing.
However, the guests on the ship were another story, most were the rudest and most arrogant I have had the opportunity to be with, and we tendered to hang around aussies on board, this is not the ships fault though.
There were only 9 children on board which was a pleasant change from our last cruise on the Sun Princess that had 300, I travelled with my 10 old niece and she loved the kids club the staff were fantastic!.
The average age on the ship would have been 60 years
The staff were good but one cabin Stewart was seen snorting and hacking in a garbage bin in the hallway (not pleasant at all) and an office kissing and fondling a female guest on the pier while we were all waiting for a tender in Cairns (not a nice thing in front of all the guests waiting)
Bingo was 4 games for $20, and more things to do while in port then at sea, at sea for 3 days from Darwin to Cairns and if not for my family would have been bored brainless unless I was a health fanatic!
Food was good although the main dining room chef was Australian the meals were more for American tastes.
Felt sorry for the smokers on board, all poked into little areas on the outside area's of ship, even when it rained, but, they were the happiest crowd on the ship!
I have done 5 cruises and I did like the ship but if these big ships are coming out to Australia for our money they need to cater for us aussie's too, our money is just as good as anywhere else in the world