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29 Australia & New Zealand Gay & Lesbian Cruise Reviews

we chose this ship because it was new but it is badly designed you have to go to different floors to get from one end to the other end of the ship food was average would not sail again on this one found the sun and diamond princess ships ... Read More
we chose this ship because it was new but it is badly designed you have to go to different floors to get from one end to the other end of the ship food was average would not sail again on this one found the sun and diamond princess ships are better. Not enough cover around the pool area dance floor between the pools was a wasted space not enough seating for 3500 people no entertainment on pool decks just movies no good for families used passengers as entertainment with line dancing every day played lawn bowls in front of lifts .this ship is ok if you are over 70 and you like gambling or wake up in the morning have breaky then lay at the pool and sleep until lunch have lunch then go back to the pool and sleep until dinner when you have finished dinner they are ready for bed same again next day. Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
My family needed a cruise suitable for our range of ages and tastes and this family friendly, low stress cruise absolutely matched our needs. Very clean ship inside and out with friendly staff and fun entertainers. We travelled from ... Read More
My family needed a cruise suitable for our range of ages and tastes and this family friendly, low stress cruise absolutely matched our needs. Very clean ship inside and out with friendly staff and fun entertainers. We travelled from Sydney, Australia to Melbourne and Hobart and then went to New Zealand getting stops at Port Chalmers, Akaroa, Tauranga and Auckland. There was a large variety of activities that suited the seniors in our group as well as the younger cousins, too. From Zumba to Bingo to jaw-dropping production shows, we were thoroughly entertained onboard. Food was easy to acquire and change to our tastes as necessary for those with food allergies. I am pleased to note that there were accessible shore excursions and the entire ship was accessible for people with mobility issues. The outside and inside of the ship were truly majestic, with details everywhere to enhance the experience for guests of any culture. Read Less
Sail Date February 2019
We sailed for 14 days from Sydney to Auckland. There was a lot of confusion about which port we would depart from Sydney. Was very confusing up until almost the last minute as the original plan seemed to have been the Overseas Cruise ... Read More
We sailed for 14 days from Sydney to Auckland. There was a lot of confusion about which port we would depart from Sydney. Was very confusing up until almost the last minute as the original plan seemed to have been the Overseas Cruise Terminal - located near Circular Quay at the Rocks. Instead we left from White Bay Cruise Terminal. (Apparently they've had alot of confusion as we later learned that Azamara sent a representative to the OCT to redirect guests.) While many chose to be unhappy about it - the silver lining we found was that this allowed us to sail UNDER the Sydney Harbour Bridge - which made for some cool pics and videos. The ship itself seemed to be in good shape. I was surprised to hear that it is scheduled for dry dock in Singapore in a couple of months. Public areas, furniture, and cabins appeared to be in good shape - with nothing standing out as needing updates. We have sailed with Azamara a few times - but always on the Journey. Last time was in 2015. The Quest - as previously reported by others - is the same layout. Since our last sailing, they introduced the Living Room concept on deck 10 - replacing the Looking Glass. We really liked it. On bad weather sea days, it was packed. Service was great throughout the cruise. From bars to restaurants to cabin staff - they did a great job as they have in the past. We had one issue that we weren't initially happy with how they handled it - but then they reconsidered (without our asking) and contacted us to resolve in our favor. To make a long story short, we purchased the Ultimate Bundle - which was really worth it. Includes internet, spa credit, excursions credit, drinks package, laundry, etc. We expected that we would get the $40 credit per person for our status that we would have gotten if we bought just the internet package. They said that applied only to purchases of internet packages and not if it was purchased as part of a bundle. Sounds ridiculous and they finally understood why a guest would be confused between a package and a bundle. As I said, they eventually got it and gave us an onboard credit - which was what we requested. Food was good but not great. Discoveries (main dining room) had a pretty good menu with rotating selections. Always love that they consistently offer shrimp cocktail and french onion soup! Windows cafe was good for breakfast and lunch. We only tried it for one night for dinner and it was just ok. We are not buffet people - so we are probably biased anyway! The Living Room had a nice supply of sandwiches, tea (scones & cakes), and tapas throughout the day. Our bundle included the Ultimate Drink package. They had a nice offering but honestly didn't need it as most of the included wines they poured were acceptable. It's also nice that since our last sailing they have added prosecco to the complimentary list - as it was awkward to not have any bubbles on that list. (Although I should note that I take small offense to them calling it complimentary since we paid for an all inclusive cruise. They should said "included" or something instead." The White Night deck party was alot of fun. Lots of people remembered to pack their whites - so it really turned out to be a nice night. They brought a local band onboard who played fun jazz - followed of course by the ship's entertainers who did a great job leading dances, etc. Our fellow guests were mainly retired folks with a spattering of working age folks (40-60) from all over. Alot of Europeans (especially Scots & Brits), some Americans, and surprisingly alot of Kiwis and Australians (guess its easy to get to or from the ship!). We met lots of folks and enjoyed most. 14 days is a long time with some people - including those who jump in line or ignore that you are next for the bus and take the last 2 seats ahead of you ... Thankfully these folks were the exception and not the rule. Most of our fellow guests were classy and realized that common courtesy was the best way to go. As I frequently remind people who have to be "first" for everything - the cruise lines know what they are doing and never seem to run out of what people want! They take care of everyone! We had a balcony cabin on the eighth deck forward. Even with a few days of high seas, we did ok being forward. Tasman crossings can always be a bit rough they said. They were right! As described as naseum in other reviews, the bathroom (shower in particular) are laughably small. 14 days is a long cruise for us - but we found the size of the cabin to be adequate, including plenty of storage. Ok - now the areas where Azamara could improve ... 1. they seem to have started nickel and diming for some things... charging for movies on the TV ($12 or something) seems a little much ... and charging for a bridge tour or behind the scenes tour .... Seems rather Royal Caribbean, instead of Azamara ... 2. When the Living Room was packed, it sometimes took awhile to get served ... once they saw you needed something, they were helpful. More a matter of not enough servers instead of the staff being lazy 3. Entertainment was the same as on small ships... They could learn from the larger ships and try to make this a bit better 4. Prime C was just ok ... seems like they could improve quality of beef ... (Aqualina was excellent). 5. Excursions were pricey. Disappointed a few were cancelled due to lack of interest. Overall - super happy with this cruise. Kudos to Azamara for having some of the friendliest crew and definitely the most engaging officers at sea. We sail with Seabourn, Oceania, and SilverSea regularly and think Azamara is just as enjoyable and a much better value! Read Less
Sail Date February 2019
We chose this cruise simply for the itinerary. We didn't make it to the fiordlands due to weather, which we understand. The ship seemed understaffed and I've definitely been on happier ships. Late embarking led to harried crew ... Read More
We chose this cruise simply for the itinerary. We didn't make it to the fiordlands due to weather, which we understand. The ship seemed understaffed and I've definitely been on happier ships. Late embarking led to harried crew ordering us to our muster station, where we were told to move when we tried to put our heavy carry on luggage and stroller down. So sitting on a step which was the only available seating, we waited 40mins for the muster briefing to begin. Time enough I would have thought to drop our hand luggage and stroller in the cabin. When we did get to our cabin, it was to find a dirty plate with cold food under the bed along with a dirty sock and paper. I won't mention what was near the drinks tray, suffice to say the room felt vey dirty. Again I blame understaffing. The attitude of the crew improved toward the end of the first week however, the emphasis on 'cruise status' and the colour of your ships card was obvious all through the cruise. Very disappointing. The upper bunks in our cabin were incredibly uncomfortable, with mattresses like cement. We initiated a roster system so the adults could take turns having a comfortable nights sleep in the lower bunk. Princess it seems have iniated a Third Class system, keeping tradition with the Titanic. While there were some fun moments, those aimed at a younger demographic for a change, they were far and few between. Our grandson loved kids club, and was cared for beautifully by them. Sadly there were no really child friendly outdoor areas, and instead of an adults sanctuary, which was in fact the whole ship, we could have done with a family sanctuary, one to keep out the grumpy older passengers. We are a fit 63 years old, yet on this ship I felt 30 years old still the overly loud music played near the pool was a poor effort to acknowledge younger minded passengers. I'm a retired RN, and I understand the special needs of the elderly however, almost an entire ship devoted to them alone is too much. If the line only wants that demographic on board they should be fair and state as much in their marketing. Traditional dining in the Rigaletto restaurant was fantastic. Our waiter Rod and assistant waiter Joel were unbelievably caring and attentive. Service was impeccable. They were incredibly patient with our grandson and intuitive of our needs. We can't thank them enough. Buffet dining was relatively bland and hot foods were especially lacking in variety at breakfast and lunch. Food options it appears were sacrificed for a larger seating area, which given the number of passengers who ignored signs designating tables for the disabled, it seems there still weren't enough. We had no trouble finding a table somewhere everyday though. We paid over $600 to go to Hobbiton on a bus with non-existent air-conditioning for an hour both ways, were rushed back to the bus because the driver gave us the wrong time. Too huge a group meant standing for too long in the heat, with a couple of people close to fainting. Not worth the cost. Price of alcohol on board was phenomenal. A bottle of wine on board selling for $55 can be bought for $30 in Australia. Wine by the glass averaged at $15 a glass. Cocktails averaged at $15 a glass. Our cabin was noisy on port days as the ship docked and the disembarkation equipment was erected. On one night at 10.30pm a balloon drop party with loud rock and roll music was held 100 metres from our room and went on until 11.05pm, waking our grandson and his designated babysitter - grandfather, but then again third class doesn't count. Considering the complaints we had to hear from certain upper deck passengers when forced to queue at ports, I understand the need to inflict the party on us. If I sound a little unhappy it's because I am, an expensive, long anticipated holiday was a disappointment. Princess line please be honest in your marketing approach, and try to remember the colour of your cruise card just depends on how many repeat cruises you make. Mine will forever remain the colour it is. Read Less
Sail Date January 2019
My partner and I with a group of friends cruised on Silver Muse for 14 nights from Sydney to Auckland. It was a wonderful cruise that exceeded all expectations; we have been cruising with SIlversea for over 20 years and have been on each ... Read More
My partner and I with a group of friends cruised on Silver Muse for 14 nights from Sydney to Auckland. It was a wonderful cruise that exceeded all expectations; we have been cruising with SIlversea for over 20 years and have been on each of the Silversea vessels many times; this was our first time on the Muse and we absolutely loved it. We were very impressed with the new direction that Silversea is taking: everything seemed to be more modern and more upmarket (and the product was terrific in the first place.) Lets start with the ship: its gorgeous! The layout is similar to the Spirit with certain areas expanded and improved, the décor is beautiful with a modern and elegant look, all of the rooms and spaces are accounted for with new additions such as the cute Arts Café and a supersized Lobby/Dolce Vita area, and the outdoor space has been enhanced with a pool and deck area that is longer/larger than the equivalent space on the Spirit (before it was lengthened) and an extra Jacuzzi aft. All good. We had a Deluxe Veranda Suite that was simply beautiful; the suites are (I think) slightly larger than on the Spirit but the new and very beautiful interior design makes the suites feel roomier and brighter. There was a super bathroom, good walk in closet, and lots of storage; all as expected on Silversea. Everything being new and fresh is a good thing and we enjoyed our Suite very much - simply superb! Dining was extraordinary: the food was terrific in each of the eight restaurants. The dining and reservation issue seems to have worked out on the Muse; the system is now perfected. We had advance reservations for many evenings and everything went according to plan; on our non-reservation evenings (when we ate at Atlantide or Indochine) we never had a problem getting a table directly even around 800PM which seemed to be the peak dinner hour. The décor at the restaurants is pretty and each venue has its own design and style. The food at each Restaurant was wonderful: we ourselves were surprised that we enjoyed Indochine as much as we did. Of course, La Dame is a wonderful dining experience and our dinner at Silver Note was an adventure in dining. So much fun. We also thought that the wines being served (and there was much variety in the standard categories) were rather good; Frank, the chief sommelier who we know for years, was onboard and very gracious towards us. The service that we received onboard was nothing short of spectacular; we knew many of the crew members and (I think) that they were genuinely happy to see us. At the restaurants, we were catered to at each and every meal regardless of venue - the head waiters and maître d's always checking and making sure that we were pleased. A big thanks to all of them, especially Giwa who made sure everything went well. Waiters, bar staff, and the pool staff were all active and engaged, knew our names by the second or third day, and looked after us. Our butler, Alan, was marvelous and took care of many details for us (including a ridiculous amount of laundry) and Sam, our cabin attendant did an outstanding job looking after of our cabin which was always spotless. Although we do not do ship shore excursions, the members of the shore excursion team were helpful and assisted us with a smile. All good. As for entertainment and activities, its standard Silversea. The singers were lovely and had talent and we went to a few shows.....but entertainment has never been and never will be Silversea's strongest point; this is not where small ship cruise lines excel. The cruise director, lecturers, entertainers and social staff were all engaged and passengers seemed quite happy. The only odd thing was that many of the production shows were scheduled for 615PM which we found unacceptable as we don't care for early shows; scheduling the shows early left us with little to do after dinner. It was not a big deal, just strange. As always with Silversea, embarkation was a breeze (from curbside at the port to La Terraza for Lunch in less than 30 minutes) and debarkation was even quicker with us leaving exactly at the designated time. Our Sydney to Auckland itinerary was lovely: this is the third time that we have done this cruise over the years but Australia and New Zealand are absolutely beautiful and the ports of Burnie, Picton, Napier and Gisbonre were all new to us. And, its always wonderful to spend a few days in Sydney before embarkation. I cannot comment on the shore excursions: we make our own arrangements and tour independently with private guides so that we can set out own pace (we move more quickly than most ship operated excursions) - it works out better for us. Our only issue was internet at sea; its frustrating and remains so on the Muse. In our technology driven world where we are all dependent on the internet for just about everything, its time for internet at sea to catch up. I understand that this is not a Silversea issue (we have had the same problem on Regent and other small ship cruise lines) but, nonetheless, reliable and fast wifi is a necessity and not a luxury in 2019. In summary, we had a wonderful experience on Silver Muse and look forward to her sisters Silver Moon and Silver Dawn joining the fleet; as a "small-ship person" I never thought that my partner and I would like the "larger" Muse as much as we did. Also, we adapted to the multiple dining venues much more easily than we thought we would - we both always loved the ease and simplicity of the Restaurant on the smaller Silversea vessels. We cant wait to return and are already planning our next voyage with Silversea: we are deciding between the Med and Northern Europe for the summer and its probably South America next winter Read Less
Sail Date January 2019
We spent 4 nights sailing around the Great Barrier Reef. Most of the excursions are snorkelling the reef which was absolutely amazing.The ship was very comfortable with good size cabins and nice common areas. The food was very good, well ... Read More
We spent 4 nights sailing around the Great Barrier Reef. Most of the excursions are snorkelling the reef which was absolutely amazing.The ship was very comfortable with good size cabins and nice common areas. The food was very good, well presented and more then enough to eat. The staff were wonderful, very friendly and went out of their way to help. My mother is a weak swimmer and the trip director pull her around with life ring every time we went snorkelling. The staff was very careful to keep an eye on everyone in the water and ready to help you with your equipment. There was glass bottom boat rides as well as snorkelling at each reef. Getting on and off the boat was very easy. This has been my favourite thing we have done on our trip to Australia. I would come back just to do this cruise again. Everything went very smoothly. Highly recommend. Read Less
Sail Date May 2018
Celebrity Cruises South Pacific Sydney to Sydney To put our trip report into context, this was our third cruise and the first one on Celebrity. Our previous cruises had both been with Royal Caribbean which we understand owns Celebrity ... Read More
Celebrity Cruises South Pacific Sydney to Sydney To put our trip report into context, this was our third cruise and the first one on Celebrity. Our previous cruises had both been with Royal Caribbean which we understand owns Celebrity as well. The RCC ships were all a bit too gimmicky for us and we hardly ever used all the facilities and rather got annoyed by all the screaming little kids and multi-generational families you encounter everywhere. So this time, we thought we go a bit classier and give Celebrity a go. We are a gay couple in our mid 30ies and traveled together with one of our best friends who stayed by himself in a separate stateroom of the ship. We had a really good deal so we all stayed in Concierge class which turned out to be totally not worth the money had we paid in full instead of getting a discount, but more on that later. For our friend, it was his first ever cruise so we were very keen to ensure he has a great trip. As always, we did extensive research on forums like this beforehand but many little quirks had to be found out directly on the ship, as we soon realized. But let’s start from the beginning: We had learnt on previous cruises that the “recommended boarding time” is a simple measure of crowd control which can be completely ignored, as was the case on this ship. Actually, had we followed the cruise lines advice, we would have missed the lovely welcome lunch for Concierge class guests which turned out to be one of the few real benefits of this cabin class. This lunch is not very widely published and only runs from 12 to 1:30pm on embarkation day. Luckily, we arrived just shortly before 12 and the boarding process in Sydney was very fast and efficient. About half an hour after arriving all up we had cleared check in and emigration and got onto the ship. There we headed straight to the main dining room for our welcome lunch which turned out to be lovely. Great to avoid the usual zoo up at the buffet on your first day and the lunch consisted of about 5 different choices for main, plenty for everyone to find something for their taste. We had ordered and paid for both the Premium Alcohol package as well as a Dining Package for the specialty restaurants online before the cruise which helped us to brush off the constant and often borderline aggressive attempts to upsell us at every possible occasion. This is one of those many things that just don’t fit well with the so-called “Modern luxury” image that celebrity portraits in their advertising. The other big thing that is totally removed from all the happy mid 40ies couples in their ad material is the average age on this ship, which is decades older that what Celebrity shows in their advertising collateral. I actually didn’t mind it quite so much as I find most of those oldies to be very friendly and polite but my slightly younger partner and our friend found the old age rather depressing. One bad side effect of this which turned out to be the biggest issue with this entire cruise was the music played on the ship. Wherever you go, nothing but music for our parents’ generation or even older. And regardless of this rather old average age, we still had dozens of the usual screaming babies on board, I seem to attract them like a magnet wherever I go. After the lunch, we went to see the one guy who has access to the table bookings in the main dining room and had to queue up for about half an hour because the guests from hell were in front of us trying to sort out their dinner bookings for a party of 20. Once we finally got to see the guy, we were lucky that we did, as the Celebrity online systems had failed us as ever so often: We had linked our two bookings ages ago online but no trace of this was to be found once on board. We had specialty dining booked for this first night anyway which gave staff a chance to move people around and were promised to sit together (as requested all along) from night 2. Unlike some other requests, this one actually worked and we got assigned a lovely table in the middle of the MDR from the second night onwards. When we got to our stateroom shortly past 1pm, there was no trace of our room attendant which turned out to be the regular thing with her and we were disappointed to find none of the promised Concierge class amenities in the room. No trace of “Plush bathrobes” or a welcome sparkling on arrival. Once our attendant, Marion, finally showed up, we had a whole list of things to ask her. Besides the amenities, my partner uses a CPAP machine at night for his sleep apnea and we had requested an extension cord and some water beforehand but nothing was there so we asked her for these as well as all the other little things that were missing. We wanted to do the right thing and specifically took some US Dollar notes with us for tipping which is a highly unusual thing to do here in Australia so a 10$ note indeed did wonders with her. Unfortunately, we were about to learn that we had the slackest room attendant ever on this cruise which was very disappointing. She was always the last one in our hallway to start servicing the rooms compared with the otgher super efficient attendant on our floor who we saw constantly working and if you didn’t tell her every single thing, she wouldn’t do it (and even then she sometimes ignored it!). Our friend at the other end of the ship had a much better experience so I am certain it was just her specifically. Most of the time, if she would show up at all, you’d find her at the end of the hallway having endless chitty chats with other crew members and overall we had the feeling that she didn’t like working. Somehow, the cruise line managed to knock off the name tag from my partners luggage and stuffed it into an incorrect bag, missing the fact that that other bag actually had someone else’s name on it too. The missing bag was found by the late evening but it was still an inconvenience that could have easily been avoided. Let’s talk a bit about Concierge class as some of you might wonder if it is worthwhile. If you were to pay extra for it, let me assure you it is not (unless you are after the additional Captain’s club points, that is). We got our bathrobes and the free welcome sparkling later on the first day but both were nothing to write home about. The “Plush bath towels” were a total lie as they were thin and ripped and crappy on most days- if they were any worse in the normal cabins, you’d dry yourself in paper! Speaking of it, Celebrity uses the cheapest possible toilet paper which you usually only find on the lower shelves of US supermarkets, so prepare yourself to wipe your bum with sandpaper. Top tip: We found the facial tissue in the bathroom to be the much better option so do your behind a favor and use these instead! Aside this, neither the pillow menu nor the apparently upgraded bedding was anything special. As always with these “Twin bed converts to a King” configurations, we could always feel the gap between the two single matrasses- a bit like the princess and the pea. In general, we found the room to be exactly the same size and, unfortunately, also the same décor as the RCC ships we’ve been on before. The upgraded massage showerhead offered in Concierge class was also one big joke as it’s still one of those old-fashioned showerheads that are attached on the wall of the shower. I couldn’t really care less whether it’s a Grohe showerhead or whatever brand it might be, as long as I can’t remove the damn thing to properly clean my body. You really have to wonder why Celebrity can’t install a proper showerhead if every decent 4 or 5 star hotel can do it and Emirates even has one on their airplanes which is better than that! As for the “Evening canapés”, this was a typical case of on Celebrity, the only consistency being nothing being consistent: On the first night, we asked our hopeless room attendant how we order these. She, truly herself, told us incorrectly that there is no need to order and they “simply show up every night”. Only to two hours later leave an order form for the canapés on our bed (imagine an eye rolling emoji here). And then, over the 9 nights of the cruise, we experienced every single possible combination: Filled in the form, got the canapés. Filled in the form and didn’t get them. Were in the room at the scheduled time of delivery (the form tells you that you only get them when you are present at that time) and still didn’t get them. Were not in the room and got them anyway. Then one night, we didn’t get any form but canapés showed up anyway. Another night, again no form so we left a Post-it note instead asking for our canapés but guess what, nothing arrived. Writing all this, I realize that it was quite futile anyway as these canapés were always TRULY awful. And I am not exaggerating here, not only were they “nothing special” but they were always soggy and had clearly stood there for hours which (especially with the always included seafood) was nothing too appealing. Our friend never touched them at all and we tried a few but really, get some crackers with cream cheese and olives at ALDI and you’ll have (way!) better quality canapés than what Celebrity offers. Besides those canapés, the food turned out to be one of the highlights on this ship and in our eyes, the biggest difference to Royal Caribbean main line. The specialty dining in Murano was out of this world and we decided to come back a second time towards the end of the cruise (they pretty much flambé everything at your table from the lobster to the desert which is pretty amazing) and Tuscan Grill was also very nice. We were told that the Sushi place is excellent also but Silk Harvest, the Asian specialty restaurant sounds to be really awful as we are really spoilt for good Asian cuisine here in Australia (we haven’t been ourselves but our friend ate there and didn’t rate it at all). The biggest surprise, however, was the MDR. We opted for fixed seating this time as the flexible seating in our experience always ended up with being shoved to some side table and waiting in line forever and indeed we did not regret: The flexible dining always had endless lines on deck 4 while the fixed seating on deck 3 was lovely. We can only recommend to anyone to choose the fixed seating and we will definitely continue to do so from now on. Staff was always very friendly and attentive throughout even though a little bit scripted as always on these ships. This became particularly clear when our waiter raddled of the his “Tips of the day” which he had clearly learnt by heart from some prepared script and probably never eaten himself. Our favorite each night was the freshly baked super-crispy “French” style baguette which we remembered had been exactly the same on Royal Caribbean. One important point worth nothing: A lot of things on this ship are making it very obvious that it’s an American ship. We actually LOVE the US so for us it wasn’t a big deal but the food, for example, is VERY American- from whipped butter to the salad dressings and calling the main an “entrée”, it’s all clearly US-influenced. Again, we actually liked this but many Aussies would probably not agree (they even had “proper” American deep fried cheese sticks which is a rarity outside the US, yumm!). The same was true for many of the wines but unfortunately not for the beer selection on this ship- we had looked at many menus posted online but in reality, they turned out to be useless on an Aussie cruise as most of the beers had been swapped with delicious Bogan-delights like VB or XXXX, yikes. While all the menu cards still told you there nice beers like Blue Moon or Sam Adams available, unfortunately this was a lie- I tried every single bar and the only thing I could find was some rather odd leftover Sam Adams ale which I didn’t like. Luckily, you could get Heineken and Beck’s at most bars so I was happy with these. But again, no complaints at all with any of the staff at the restaurants and bars with the sole exception of two Bartenders, both Indonesian to no big surprise, who clearly displayed a whiff of Homophobia towards us- one of them at the Passport bar which was shockingly bad anyway and another one at the Casino bar which we didn’t really enjoy very much either. Not sure where they were during the Diversity training sessions that Celebrity apparently does but luckily, they were the absolute exception. Other than that, we were treated with respect everywhere in the ship and the staff was a delight throughout. We particularly loved the bartenders at the Martini Bar and the Worldclass Bar on deck 5, Alin at Martini and Janathan & Dimitri up at the World Class bar were our favorites as was our sommelier in the main dining room, Fatma. Finally, a few general observations: We found both the captain and the cruise director highly annoying when they came on the intercom which they did far too often and always when we wanted to have a sleep in- the Greek captain didn’t speak English too well and had a super annoying way of speaking and “sing-sanging” his sentences which was usually followed by the equally annoying Canadian accent of the cruise director who was strangely upbeat even on grim days with constant rain. I must leave him that though- he did a great job moderating the “Newly wed not so newly wed” game show one night which was absolutely hilarious. Similar to those announcements, there were of course the usual sales messages on the phone EVERY SINGLE DAY trying to peddle some shore excursions or worse, overpriced handbags and jewelry in the rip-off shops on the ship. And to top it off, they had nothing better to do on land days than announcing every single damn tender boat throughout the entire ship- because the weather was pretty bad on most days we opted to sleep in instead rather than heading to a deserted rainy Island and were furiously annoyed by these announcements and didn’t understand why they couldn’t have been limited to the lower floors of the ship were guests would wait for their tender boat to be announced. Regardless of the older crowd, we still had some families with small children on this cruise and while some of them were very well behaved, others were not so creating a total nuisance for everyone else on board. The highlight was that Bogan couple (“Bogan” in Australian is similar to “Rednecks” in the US or “Chavs” in the UK so uneducated, noisy, small-minded people from the country or outer suburbia) who took their little one into the Adult only Solarium to change its dipers (!). Before I could complain, some others had done so already and it took only about 5 minutes until they were told to leave the area. The smell was still lingering for a while but I did appreciate the staff to react so quickly to the complaints. What else, hygiene is a big thing on this ship, they are obviously dead scared of these Nuro viruses and hence there are cleaners everywhere. I wondered what would happen if Airlines had to worry about the same thing- would they suddenly bother to clean their planes properly? No issues on this ship at least. All the entertainment on the ship was made for an older generation and even on the Silent Disco night you had the choice between Motown (what the heck…), 80ies and “Top 40”. The two latter styles were were US-focused, no trace of some modern dance music, house, techno, trance, anything like that- nope. As a result, the Nightclub, Qasar, was always dead empty unless there was Karaoke on which was certainly not our thing. On the pool deck, they often played American country rock which was just deadly and some of the live musicians playing… I won’t go into more details but the music on ship was just absolute horror for us but I am sure the older folks would have liked it. Despite some of the criticism, we still had a good time, met some lovely people and great staff, enjoyed the food and all the alcohol that we definitely indulged in too much and all in all had a great time. So good actually that regardless of all the complaints, we went into the “Book your next cruise” office on the ship to put the deposit down for a cruise through the Greek Islands next year on Celebrity’s new Edge ship. Read Less
Sail Date March 2018
a quick 4 night getaway on Pacific Explorer. This is my third time on this ship, and actually like the interior. The cruise was out of White Bay as there was a bigger ship in the OSPT in Circular Quay. Our cabin was a mini suite, and ... Read More
a quick 4 night getaway on Pacific Explorer. This is my third time on this ship, and actually like the interior. The cruise was out of White Bay as there was a bigger ship in the OSPT in Circular Quay. Our cabin was a mini suite, and quite tastefully furnished. The beds were comfy and the pillows are actually fine (previously the pillows had been a contention on other P&O ships). The weird thing about the mini suite is the setup of the bathroom. The shower and bath are in one area, and through the door is the toilet and sink. This means that you can't get out of the bath and brush your teeth without having to go next door to the single sink. Our cabin stewards were friendly and gave us a lot of attention. Although they didn't introduce themselves till the second night. The room was serviced twice per day. The balcony is a bit small for a mini suite, not in length but in depth. Food was actually not bad at all. We went to a taste of salt (excellent and well worth the $99 per person cover charge). We also tried Dragon Lady and Angelo's as well as Shell and Bones. The disappointing thing is that if you actually want a decent meal, you have to pay for it. No drama if it's reasonably priced. Angelo's was the star of the free meal selection. The pasta was warm and tasted excellent. The secret bar is the Bonded Store, and I can highly recommend you find this small out of the way place, it's by the blue room. Blink and you'll miss it, as it's hidden around a corner. The "nightclub" which is situated in the Blue Room after about 11:30pm was always full. I've seen this either empty or over capacity on different cruises. I guess it depends on the itinerary and if the drink packages are in operation. In Moreton Island, we took the Quad bike tour. Enjoyed this very brief excursion, and maybe P&O might consider doing a longer version, as we just drove around in the sand around a made course. Fun to drive, but not really exciting views. Overall not a bad cruise, better than other P&O cruises I've been on before. Read Less
Sail Date February 2018
On the strength of a seven day cruise on this small ship (70 passengers max) around the southern coast of New Zealand, we booked for the seven day voyage around the east, south and west coast of Tasmania. It was flawless. the captain, Gary ... Read More
On the strength of a seven day cruise on this small ship (70 passengers max) around the southern coast of New Zealand, we booked for the seven day voyage around the east, south and west coast of Tasmania. It was flawless. the captain, Gary Wilson, and his amazing crew provided us with an extremely comfortable and luxurious haven from which to experience the extraordinary Tasmanian coastline. We had wonderful weather that allowed us a near-perfect sail around to the exquisite Port Davey in Tassie's South West National Park for two nights in this World Heritage wilderness; a pristine and sheltered environment that hopefully will still be here for generations to come. Congratulations to all of those environmentalists over the years who have resisted government and industry attempts to debase such magical places with unnecessary development. Access is strictly controlled and it became clear when we climbed several local hills for panoramic views of the labyrinthine waterways, extending out to the Arthur Range on the blue horizon. For me, this was a highlight of the trip because of the difficulty in even reaching Port Davey and Bathurst Harbour in bad weather. A serene sail across a mirror-smooth Southern Ocean took us up the east coast to Freycinet where regardless of some light rain, we again were able to walk up to another lookout over Wineglass Bay. Then it was onto Maria Island for a dramatic (weatherwise) stroll to the fossil cliffs before an unforgettable sail down the east coast past the highest dolerite cliffs in the world on Cape Pillar -- 300 metres! It was right there that the finale arrived in the form of a 40 knot gale, making scenes of those foreboding cliffs even more dramatic. Another highlight for all of and extremely well handled by our ship, the Coral Discoverer, which again proved her stability in rough seas. We had previously been in nine metre seas on the south coast of New Zealand in this ship and knew of her capabilities. An alternative tour of Port Arthur with an amazing guide who, we suspect, is a Shakespearean actor (or should be) before our departure in Hobart on a fine, clear morning. Overall, a wonderful trip to an unforgettable and unique destination. Highly recommended! Read Less
Sail Date February 2018
This review is for an Atlantis Events cruise from Auckland to Sydney with six stops on a Holland America ship, Noordam (built circa 2006). This was my first cruise. We chose this cruise because many of our friends have done them and speak ... Read More
This review is for an Atlantis Events cruise from Auckland to Sydney with six stops on a Holland America ship, Noordam (built circa 2006). This was my first cruise. We chose this cruise because many of our friends have done them and speak highly of their experiences. We spent two days in Auckland before departing to Gisborne, Wellington, Akaroa (Christchurch), Hobart (Tasmania), Melbourne and Sydney. Boarding problems delayed our departure, but before long we were on our way. Being my first cruise, I wasn't really aware of and didn't pay attention to the fact that we were circling an island for several hours after we left Auckland and I am still unsure why we changed course. Atlantis Events and/or Holland America diverted the ship from making the planned stop in Akaroa (Christchurch) due to weather. Hard for me to believe that since Akaroa is a protected harbor. If you look on a map, the cruise was to go from Wellington to Akaroa and then south around the south island of New Zealand. Instead, we were stuck for three days at sea while we lumbered along at a leisurely pace to keep on schedule (i.e., not get to Hobart before we were scheduled). This significant change in schedule was, in my estimation, unnecessary, and definitely infuriating. The change in course lead to Holland America and/or Atlantis Events saving tens of thousands of dollars in fuel. We didn't get so much as a credit toward a future cruise. Keep in mind that many of the staff on the ship were lovely. Very attentive, happy to help and genuinely appeared to enjoy their jobs. Most were from Indonesia and the Philippines, and they were outstanding. Unfortunately, there were 20-25% of the employees that absolutely hated their job (or hated us). You could tell because they didn't smile, make eye contact or go beyond the minimum of what they were required. I have heard for years about how great the food is on cruises. Not being someone who enjoys eating large amounts of food (read, all-you-can-eat buffets), I wanted quality over quantity. I also don't eat a lot of meat, but there were plenty of hunks of unknown meats under heat lamps that didn't look particularly appetizing. The salad bar (not self-serve) on our cruise was ALWAYS busy and very understaffed. It was frustrating. You could go to a sit-down restaurant with table service (rather than the buffet-style food served on the lido deck), but this food was only marginally better. There was, of course, the extra-special option of going to a restaurant and actually paying for a high-end meal. Since I wasn't impressed with the food on the lido deck or the sit-down restaurant, I didn't bother. The number of deafeningly loud announcements through over-driven speakers by the crew at all hours was very disrupting and usually sounded like the adults on Peanuts. I felt like an announcement that loud should have been left for "abandon ship!" instead of "we're having a sale on (overpriced) watches on the lido deck" or whatever equally silly announcement they were making. It was ridiculous. The 'drinking' water on this ship tasted like it had been stored in a plastic container in the sun for a day or two, making it taste horrible. The upside was that we could drink the four $5 bottles of water (12 oz) left in our room every day when attendants came in to make our bed. If you're a coffee drinker, you'll need to lower your expectations considerably since the swill they served for coffee made instant coffee taste like Italian espresso, but you can go to their 'espresso bar' and pay $4.50 for a latte, so you aren't totally screwed. If you ask me, it takes a lot of chutzpah to provide undrinkable water and coffee, and then essentially force you to pay their outrageously over-priced bottled water and coffee. In the end, we paid an outrageous $1,354--almost all in drinks and one $100 bottle of wine for my birthday dinner. Holland America also enjoys using only US Dollars as its onboard currency and does not recognize the currency of those countries whose ports they frequent, so you won't enjoy any 'deals' on exchange rates. Buyer/cruiser beware! Take note of the year your ship was built. Read recent reviews of it so you know what you're getting yourself into. Ultimately, I don't think I would ever do another Atlantis Events cruise, and I would NEVER do another Holland America given this experience. Good luck! Read Less
Sail Date February 2018
Ship was chose for us as a charter cause i would not have picked it myself. While the crew were overall very nice and glad to see us, the ship itself was extremely dated and not worth the money. The furniture was worn and torn, half the ... Read More
Ship was chose for us as a charter cause i would not have picked it myself. While the crew were overall very nice and glad to see us, the ship itself was extremely dated and not worth the money. The furniture was worn and torn, half the rooms had blasting a/c and the other half were saunas. Constant plumbing issues, power issues, and the fact that the maintenance staff were either so overworked or just past the point of caring that nothing seemed to get fixed. When i realized that part of why my room was so warm was that a prior passenger had squeezed a cruise daily into the a/c vent, i called and knowing that i wouldnt get much help i begged the person to bring a phillips head screwdriver so we could get it done rather than have them look, evaluate, and schedule. The promised they would...they brought a corkscrew. They called another staffer who brought a broken leatherman with a phillips bit so worn it was an icepick. They were discussing what to do and i grabbed the leatherman and used the flat head to get it open. That and the televisions on the ship are widescreen tubes that can only be watched in a totally dark room with tylenol for the static. Rooms were caked in salt and dust and mold. There are much nicer and newer vessels out there. Do NOT pick this one. Read Less
Sail Date February 2018
BACKGROUND: Took my mom on this cruise. It was #1 on her bucket list to travel to Australia. I’m 50 , she’s 71. We chose this 12 day cruise based on itinerary, not cruise line. It covered South Australia including Tasmania and was ... Read More
BACKGROUND: Took my mom on this cruise. It was #1 on her bucket list to travel to Australia. I’m 50 , she’s 71. We chose this 12 day cruise based on itinerary, not cruise line. It covered South Australia including Tasmania and was round trip from Sydney. I normally cruise on Silversea but have also cruised one time each on RCCL, Paul Gauguin, Celebrity and Azamara. HOTEL: We stayed for 3 days pre cruise at Hotel Intercontinental which is a fantastic location and beautiful hotel. I have been to Sydney 4 times and this was by the best location. Circular Quay really is the heart of Sydney and is the easiest location to venture to other parts of the city. Definitely will stay here again or Marriott which is also right there as well. EMBARKATION: very easy. Porters met us as soon as we exited limo. We went inside, filled out health questionnaire and proceeded to desk to check in., No lines, very nice staff. In a matter of minutes we were on board. FIRST IMPRESSION: I had low expectations honestly . Having read cruise critic before trip and I had googled photos. But much to my dismay, the pictures I had seen actually made it look nicer than it really was. I knew it wouldn’t be modern and shiny like Silversea and Celebrity but was shocked the second I walked on. It was terrible. Ugly dark blue carpeting, with bright red accents and the lighting was literally yellow with ugly brass sculptures and trim. I know this ship was built in 2006 but cant imagine it was even stylish back then. We made our way to deck 6 and as we walked aft to our room , I couldn’t believe how ugly even the hallway was. Ugly wall covering, peeling in most places, cabin doors that looked like cork and ugly blue funky carpeting. My heart sank..The ship is so dated and worn. I know it’s going in to dry dock for a refurbishment in May....but I’m not sure HAL will do enough to make this ship really competitive in the industry. There are so many new ships out there and ships being remodeled, I would think HAL must be losing ground. I noticed when I got home they are advertising a lot and wonder if they are beginning to have trouble filling up ships with all the stiff competition out there. CABIN: See below on cabin review...but we had a Neptune Suite 6177. LOVED LOVED the huge wraparound veranda. DINING: i prepaid 6 specialty restaurants ,,,3 for Pinnacle and 3 for Canaletto. I was happy to find out that we had the same 2 top reserved for the whole cruise in the Main Dining Room . I dont know if that is normal, a suite perk or our travel agent set it up for us, but it was a lovely surprise. I loved the food on this cruise. I thought it was better than Celebrity and not too far off from Silversea. There were lots of choices every night. After eating one night each in Canaletto and Pinnacle, we decided that although very good, I dont think they are worth the upcharge as the MDR was so good and I dont think they were better than the MDR in my opinion, so we canceled the remaining reservations at specialties. We also had very good service in the MDR>. Loved our waiter and asst waiter and we felt the service was quicker in the MDR and a bit slow in Pinnacle and Canaletto. I dont like to linger at the table for hours on end during dinner, so I appreciated the quicker service in the MDR. Every meal I had was good (except room service). The only thing we didnt like at the restaurants was a ginger chocolate cake one night for dessert. Had no flavor, seemed a bit “wet”...just blah. It wa like a major ingredient was left out . We only ate at LIdo Buffet twice as I hate buffets. We did salads for 2 lunches and they were good. LIdo Buffet dining room was always packed and hard to find a place to sit. Decor looked straight out of Golden Girls episode. ROOM SERVICE: Definitelly needs improvement. Without going into detail on each item we ordered....just seemed like it lacked someone doing quality control. Missing or short ingredients in salad, food not to temperature, omelette bathed in butter/oil, only hot milk brought for cereal, Every time we got it, we were disappointed. Fortunately, we had access to Neptune’s Lounge and there are always snacks and sweets there all day long. ENTERTAINMENT: I dont normally like cruise ship entertainment, so i didnt go to any shows , so I cant really comment . I can only say that friends I made on the ship didnt have anything good to say about the shows. SERVICE: Noordam really shined here. Everyone from our cabin stewards, to our waiters, to bartenders etc, were all excellent. Everyone was so nice and friendly and even though it’s a larger ship than what I m used to, i was surprised at how many workers knew my name and used it frequently. The only place where employees werent friendly was Explorations Cafe....I felt like I was in the “soup nazi: episode of Seinfeld. Order quickly then move down counter to collect your coffee and pastry. They didnt smile, didnt seem like they enjoyed their job, seemed annoyed if you didnt know what you wanted right away. OVERALL: It was such a mixed bag of experiences. While I loved the service and the food and the passengers were pretty social (unlike Silversea sometimes). The dreariness of the ship tarnished the experience. I loved the pool aft, big open space and never crowded. I never did the midship pool because it seemed like every time I walked through it, the roof was closed and they were doing some type of sidewalk sale from the shops and there were tons of people clogging up the space and being noisy. I loved that HAL has happy hour from 4-5 and 9-10. The bars were packed and a lot of fun and dare i say a great value for dinks on a ship! I got 2 gin and tonics or old fashioned s for $11 total including gratuity. Celebirty is outrageous...so I was very pleased. SPA: so while i dont do spa treatments on cruise ships as I think they are way too expensive, my mom loves pampering herself and so I encouraged her to enjoy. What I will say is that on day one, we did a tour of the spa and fitness area and was totally turned off/irritated. There was such a hard sell on this ship like I have seen on no other. I dont like when they wont take no for an answer. I had to get pretty curt in order to overcome their hard core selling pressure. My mom did 5 spa services and after the first one , she came back to the cabin with hundreds of dollars of unneeded and overpriced products. She’s very soft and easily influenced and the spa crew definitely knew her number. I was furious...feeling like they take advantage of an older person. GYM: old equipment and too small of a free weight area. PORTS: SYDNEY...MY FAVORITE CITY IN AUSTRALIA...BEEN 4 TIMES, LOVE IT! MELBOURNE: feel like it is overrated. Surprisingly, I didnt care much for it. We did our own thing...lots of locals at port to help with tourism advice. We uber’d Everywhere and it was easy. We did the Royal Botanic Gardens...Amazing!! It’s huge and gorgeous. Probably the best I have done anywhere. Then we went to St Kilda Beach. A great beach town south of town. Beach not as nice as many in Sydney, but clean. The village there has lots of local boutiques, restaurants etc...kind of a funky, hip town. Had a good lunch there in one of the many sidewalk cafes. Then we went to city center for some shopping. Ugh, what a mistake. Felt like just another huge city, with too many cars , people etc....it was claustrophobic....didnt feel like it was unique or interesting. General consensus of my happy hour friends that night was the same....Melbourne was a bit of a disappointment. ADELAIDE: we overnighted here. However, it’s a 45 min train ride into the city, so not as convenient. Train was free that weekend....it isn’t usually, but for whatever reason, that line was free. We loved all the beautiful architecture in Adelaide. It’s a smaller city which I liked and easy to walk. We also did the botanical gardens there which were very nice as well. Shopping is good ...they have a huge pedestrian mall/street there with anything and everything you would want...and lots of restaurants. Seemed to be the hub of the city. . Would definitely go back. PORT LINCOLN: small town of about 15k. Did a ship excursion that gave us a bus tour of the highlights of this fishing village. Then we walked around the town, poked in some shops. Some might not like it since its small and not a lot to do, but i love small towns and enjoyed the slower pace very much! KANGAROO ISLAND: wow....this was probably everyone’s favorite destination. Anyone we talked to , raved about this island. You go here for wildlife. We did a ship excursion..but you could easily do it with a rental car as my friends did. It’s a sparsely populated island and easy to drive around and see the same sights we did on ship tour. Its gorgeous, the seals are amazing, seal lions, koalas, birds , kangaroos etc...it was a very long day, but absolutely stunning and magnicient. PORT ARTHUR TASMANIA: We did a ship tour. It was an eco cruise along the coastline for about 3 hours. It was a wild crazy fun ride. Swells were huge.....but it was such a gorgeous ride. A couple people got seasick...but the rest thought it was exhiliarating! HOBART TASMANIA. We did ship tour here to Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary. They only gave us 1 hour here which was disappointing. Lots of kangaroos to feed and pet. But lots of other Australian wildlife. This place isi great and no one wanted to leave. Then we went to historic town of Richmond....no tour...just dropped us off the bus and gave us an hour to walk around. Town was boring...even the shopping wasn’t very good. My big purchase there was a Red Bull to keep me awake. Once back to Hobart, we walked over the city. REally cute quaint city...in particular the trendy area of Salamanca....beautiful old buildings turned in to cool restaurants and shops...loved it. DISEMBARKATION ...super easy and quick....took the ship arranged bus to Sydney airport for flight home. We had an amazing vacation and loved our trip, our time together, the food , the amazing new friends I met on the ship...just wish it had been on a beautiful ship where I felt more upscale and special. Read Less
Sail Date January 2018
the ship is new and has some quirky new features (bionic bar, the big arm that takes you into the air high above the ship by the way this is free) but they still allow smoking on the pool deck near the centre pools and kids area which most ... Read More
the ship is new and has some quirky new features (bionic bar, the big arm that takes you into the air high above the ship by the way this is free) but they still allow smoking on the pool deck near the centre pools and kids area which most passengers cannot believe as you have to walk through this stinking area to get to the wind jammers if you are coming from the front of the ship, RCCL should ban smoking all together or put the smoking area right down the back of the ship away from everyone especially KIDS. we stayed in a front cabin which are nice and well appionted below the bridge overlooking the helicopter pad (got to see a very smooth helicopter winch operation REALLY close up courtesy of RAC rescue WA off Bunbury and have video ) BUT these rooms get a lot of wave noise from the hull even in small swell so beware there can be a lot of booming which travels through the superstructure into these 9500, 9502 9504 etc ,etc. there was an out break of GI but you need to look at the bigger picture there were a lot of ignorant passengers who we witnessed NOT washing their hands so they only have them selves to blame, plus this ship did originate out of china and had been working the rounds there for some months so we firmly believe GI was already on the ship prior to boarding in Singapore. on a brighter note the diamond club was excellent and because there were so many D members on board they expanded the D club into the music hall which worked well. this was policed by staff so that only members were allowed to enter having to show your sea pass (stopped all the free loaders). all staff went above and beyond to make sure that all areas and passengers were constantly sanitised and could not have done a better job. we as many other passengers were not effected BECAUSE WE followed the rules and instructions. overall we had a pleasant time. Read Less
Sail Date November 2017
Saw this ship all over the news last year, being the largest cruise ship to ever visit Australia and thought it would be something new and exciting to try. We booked through a local travel agent which made things easier, but there are ... Read More
Saw this ship all over the news last year, being the largest cruise ship to ever visit Australia and thought it would be something new and exciting to try. We booked through a local travel agent which made things easier, but there are caveats first time cruisers need to be aware of (and they don't let you know up front) Firstly, we discovered the cruise was split in half by the agent, this caused many issues we weren't aware of. When we logged into the RCI website to book shows and drinks/internet packages, it showed us travelling for the entire duration of the cruise. This was wrong and prevented us from booking internet/drinks packages in AUD, so we had to pay more once on board as everything is charge in USD. This cost us quite a bit more ultimately. Also shows advertised were booked out quickly as it took forever to get our login, or they weren't showing until after we departed the cruise. All very confusing and not a great start. The other issue we had going via a travel agent was when we checked in at the hotel and the cruise terminal, there were issues that took quite some time to resolve. In Singapore they had 4 people listed as checking in! Obviously the other couple were checking in the day we departed in Fremantle, but their systems can't cope with this arrangement. The hotel was nice, but didn't honour our requests. We also couldn't get exit row seats for the flight thanks to using an agent. Being 197cm tall this was a worry, but it turned out the flight wasn't full and I could find some seats with more legroom. Anyway back to the cruise ship. Once onboard, we were bombarded with people trying to sell us drinks packages. Of course you didn't have to be a genius to work out, even in USD, that this package would pay for itself after only 5 or 6 cocktails. It also included unlimited soft drink refills and a cup with a NFC chip in it you can refill at special dispenser stations (over 100 flavours!) or most bars/restaurants (in very limited flavours). Drinks package includes drinks to the value of $14, after that you pay the difference. Not many drinks were over that price. I signed up for Voom, their excellent internet at sea service. It cost us $18US per day so not cheap but the speed is reasonable (5 Mbps down and about 3 Mbps up), ping times around 200ms which is fine for Skype, FaceTime or WiFi Calling, I made several calls with no noticeable delays which is great for satellite services. The ship also has a mobile base station so your mobile can "roam" if enabled to allow calls/texts although these are at very high rates, around $5/min calling. Stick to Skype, FaceTime or WiFi Calling if you purchase the Voom package it won't cost a cent. I didn't know how to sign up for their internet but you simply connect to "royal-wifi" (no password required) - a browser should open up but it may be in Chinese, simply select English from the top corner near the Earth icon and you can sign up without anyone's help. You should even be able to do this before you get onboard as we could pick up the WifI in the passenger terminal. Also its now a good time to download the Royal IQ from your App Store. This lets you check your statement, book restaurants and check out much more. You don't need to pay for internet to access this onboard, it will work as long as you connect to "royal-wifi". I found the app had some issues, we couldn't book restaurants on it (possibly because our cruise was split in half by the agent?) - but it does keep a track of all drinks and restaurants you get, so its good to see if you are getting value from your drinks / food packages. More tech savvy people may want to invest in a cheap wifi router to create your own wifi network onboard, this means you will only need 1 Voom package but will be able to share it amongst multiple devices (we had 8 between us, including iPads, apple watches etc) - you only get the 5Mbps speeds to share amongst the devices so it isn't abusing the connection, but you may find its frowned upon by crew. It means your devices have an extra layer of protection via WPA. If you don't want to go to this level, you can simply log off and on to devices as you need. Apple's iMessage works without having a Voom subscription which is excellent making it easy to keep in contact with other iPhone users onboard. The ship itself is just majestic, we were in room 6142 on deck 6, a perfect location it was only a deck or two away from 24 hour food, drinks and entertainment. The room was very modern and clean, we had a balcony suite which although we didn't spend as much time as we thought out there, was just so relaxing to watch from the bed. I highly recommend an outside facing room. The bathroom is a little on the small size for someone as big as me, but we coped. The shower head has multiple settings and good water flow. Its detachable so you can wash all your bits with ease! The toilet was fine, although we found it blocked a couple of times (as did our friends staying next door) - looks like if you flush it multiple times it may stop flushing, not sure if this is a fault or a feature, but we learned to just flush once and wait if it needed flushing again. There is a shaver power outlet and plenty of light, a toilet brush (thank you!) and plenty of room to store/hang things considering it size. Our cabin had a king size bed, it felt a little shorter than a regular king and occasionally felt uncomfortable hanging off the edge (bear in mind I'm nearly 2 metres long), I also wish they had fitted sheets because I found in the morning the sheets had ridden up and I was laying on the mattress. There was a US 110v power socket on the right size of the bed under the lamp, I purchased a travel adapter that converted this to two x AU sockets to get around the fact they frown on power boards/strips. My partner uses CPAP so that left one socket for my phone and other USB devices. The bedroom desk has a EU 220V socket, and a couple more US 110V sockets. They suggest you use the 220V power by supplying a EU to AU adapter, which you must pay $25 for if you remove it from the ship. We advised my partner uses a CPAP machine prior to boarding and they supplied an adapter, an extension lead and distilled water, nice touch! There are also a couple of USB ports on the desk but found these to be low powered and a bit loose so you had to make sure not to bump the plug otherwise it wouldn't supply power. There is a flat screen TV which plays safety information when you first enter your room. It's done quite well and is entertaining to watch while you learn at the same time. It has plenty of channels which we didn't really watch, it also has a channel that shows you the ships position and speed, and live feeds from all over the ship. In the cabin there is PLENTY of room to hang and store your stuff, very well thought out, even the bedside tables have shelves to store heaps of stuff. Never felt cramped or like we had to live out of our suitcase. The dining was excellent. Service was far above what I expected. So many staff all smiling and only happy to help. I don't think I came across anyone that wasn't happy to help with our requests. Our cabin attendant was amazing and we left him an extra tip when we left. His towel animals always got us excited to return to our cabin each night. Food at Windjammer was great, so much choice. After eating here every day though tends to get old which is why they have more than a dozen other places to eat. Some free some you pay for. Jamies Italian was great, Wonderland was amazing, you just have to try it! They really look after any food restrictions you might have (mine was no seafood - they were great about that!) The entertainment was great, we had plenty of things to do, I got a bit seasick the day of my ship tour which I was REALLY looking forward to, but I just couldn't finish it. That's the only downside of booking in advance, if you don't you miss out, if you do, you may not be able to do it on the day. I might have been able to try to get a refund but I didn't bother, I got to the bridge and that was my highlight! The shows were fantastic, Pixels was great, those moving screens are incredible and must cost a fortune. The lighting and dancers were great too. So well choreographed. The other show I absolutely loved was called Live Love Legs. This was a show we were going to miss, but it got brought forward to the night before we departed. Just brilliant! So much work gone into this show and it showed. The artwork spread across the ship is just fantastic, it makes you want to walk down 15 flights of stairs instead of taking a lift just to see all the amazing art. I just can't describe the actual beauty when onboard, everywhere you look there was something different and exciting to look at or interact with. We spent some time in the Seaplex, geared towards kids/teenagers, went up in the North Star, and sat in some pools / spas. There is just so much to do, in 7 days we couldn't get around to all of it. We had a few issues with billing, we got a letter on our bed night after night saying our card couldn't be charged, even though they had already taken it off our credit card. This involved several visits to Customer Service but they were quick to fix the issue. I also don't recommend the NFC wrist bands, they cost $5 and we were told we could use them anywhere on the ship, but they didn't always work or were accepted, the band just fit my arm, and I wear a watch, it wasn't very comfortable in the tropics either as it became sweaty quickly. You almost always had to remove it to give it to a bar person. Just use your sea pass in a lanyard (bring your own they charge $9 on board!) It amazed me seeing such a technologically advanced ship still couldn't do everything with NFC, some places had to write down our names/room numbers and get us to sign. The bionic bar wasn't working properly, only one arm was functional, and then we got charged accidentally. Lucky we checked, they had someone there crediting peoples accounts just for that reason. and the app could use some improvement, it was buggy, even using the onboard iPads to try to book restaurants wouldn't work. I came home sick, having caught a cold onboard, and was seasick on the last day or two due to the rough waters coming down the west coast of Australia. There was a warning issued at one stage about gastro, but everyone was obsessed with cleaning hands at the plethora of dispensing machines and sinks it didn't effect us. In summary, I absolutely loved my first cruise, I really miss the ship and the people, the atmosphere (being Christmas may have helped) - but I would most certainly go on this ship again. Was an unforgettable experience! Read Less
Sail Date October 2017
As soon as I knew this huge ship was coming to Australia, I was determined to sail away on her, even if it meant cruising solo Fortuneately I had the company of a very good friend and after booking a virtual balcony interior room many ... Read More
As soon as I knew this huge ship was coming to Australia, I was determined to sail away on her, even if it meant cruising solo Fortuneately I had the company of a very good friend and after booking a virtual balcony interior room many months ago, the upgrade fairy visited 2 days prior to sailing with a balcony on deck 13 This was a fabulous posltion, right opposite the lifts and one flight of stairs up to the solarium bistro and the adult only tiered pools...our room had the twin beds in the middle of the cabin with a lounge near the balcony doors, I prefer the bed to be nearer the balcony as I think it would give a more open area as we had limited area to get past but the beds were super comfy, so much cupboard space for 2 ladies and a fabulous on wall TV.... we loved the bathroom with a night light which was much appreciated by 2 older ladies We proceeded to the two70 lounge where we were lucky to get 2 comfy chairs right against the large 3-4 story windows and with a drink in hand, watched this massive beast reverse out of the overseas terminal and with the sydney harbour bridge in the background, it was full steam ahead This was an 8 night cruise to Hobart overnight in Tasmania and a visit to Adelaide, the ship is docked right in Hobart and lucky for us it was a Saturday, the famous Salamanca markets which meant lots of shopping with no worry about weight taking our purchases home Obviously over 4 sea days, we explored the ship from top to bottom but still not managing to see it all We did not like the 4 indiviual included in the fare restaurants as we felt they lacked atmosphere and seemed quite cramped so we elected to eat in the Windjammer and once at Jaimie Olivers and only twice in the American Grill....the choices in Windjammer were mind boggling, so many choices and beautifully presented but our favourite was the breakfast in the Solarium Bistro, only a small choice but we were able to get our selection and sit outside and linger in lovely surroundings We saw 2 shows, Pixels and The Dream, we regularly visit live theatre but even though the voices, sets and costumes were world class, we were left scratching our heads as to what it was all about...Pixels was very entertaining with the dancing screens and a variety of acts We pre booked some activities on board prior to sailing, this disappointed many older people, as they had no idea that this could be done and were left trying to queue for the Northstar and shows ...I didnt like this aspect but with 5000 odd passengers, I understand the reasoning but not exactly what you cruise for We loved the two70 lounge, the small deli connected to it with its wraps and soups and yummy desserts, we spent quite a bit of time in this lounge as I could stare at the seas for hours on end....this area is utilised a lot during the day with a talk by a very yummy captain, a highlight The seaplex also had us tearing around in the dodgem cars, watching young adults playing dodgeball and attempting the roller skating, so much to do for teenagers, they could never get bored....we didnt try the flow rider or ifly but had fun watching people attempt and fail on this fast moving water....so many other things to do We loved the indoor air controlled swimming pool, this was a large size with some people able to do laps, i spent some time in the very heated tiered pools at the front of the ship but for some the smell of chlorine was quite over powering at times The main negative we heard from various people was the "friendliness" of the crew....someone described them as robotic, very attentive, polite, helpful but with none of the playfulness of other family geared cruise lines....it is a large ship and trying to find out information was not always easy, when the queues were too long, we retreated to our cabin and phoned, much quicker and query resolved I would prefer the big open dining rooms, where you felt you were part of a family and it would be easy actually to get a bit lonely unless you put yourself out there to talk to people We loved the silent disco, something you need to see but all "parties" were held indoors at the two70, I missed the deck parties usually associated with cruising This was only my 2nd RCL cruise as I am platinum on Carnival but wanted to experience this ship Would I cruise again??? definitely, in fact I booked another cruise for next year, 7 days was not enough to experience all this ship has to offer...obviously its more expensive but that is to be expected when you look at the maintenance and crew necessary to keep a ship 3 football lenghts operational Read Less
Sail Date February 2017
Just returned from the Tassie cruise (23 – 28 Jan) and I wanted to comment on our experience (having noted some negative feedback from others on the NZ trip) We are seasoned travellers although this is only our 2nd cruise (previously ... Read More
Just returned from the Tassie cruise (23 – 28 Jan) and I wanted to comment on our experience (having noted some negative feedback from others on the NZ trip) We are seasoned travellers although this is only our 2nd cruise (previously we sailed with Carnival Spirit to New Caledonia) We were a party of 5 and all had a great time. Plenty to do and lots of options for food and beverage. Some tips/points to be aware of: (meant as helpful advice not criticism!) All prices on board are US$ and there is an automatic 18% service charge on most items you need to pay for (speciality restaurants etc.) see below: Cabins (well at least ours) didn’t have Aus plug sockets so bring an EU or US adaptor (there were 2 USB hubs for phones, ipads etc) The voltage didn’t support an aus hair dryer (the new dyson) or a hand held steamer – there was a hair dryer in the cabin though. If you have a power board or alcohol in your check in luggage it will be held in a secure area and not delivered to your room (they x ray all items) so you’ll need to visit deck 2 to collect your bags once under way. (power boards are held and given back when you get back to Sydney) - not end of world but a hassle on day one you don't need so just be mindful? Bags are checked (X rayed) when you return from shore tours and alcohol etc is kept and delivered back to you the night before you dock. There was no option/laundry room to wash or to iron your own clothes – you can get them done by room service but there is an additional charge (as around $4US for a man’s shirt to be ironed) I had some creased clothes straight from the laundry basket at home (planning to iron them when I had more time in the planning and packing mayhem pre-trip) so they stayed in the case and I made do with what I had – 1st world problem! LOL The ship holds around 5,000 guests so some shows, dining options and attractions get booked out early and queues on day 1 were massive so book on-line in advance if you can or wait a day or so and you should be able to book/see most options. A lanyard to hold your key card (ID And all charges are via the card) is useful – we saw a few cases where people had lost them (including a young kid who’s card was then used by others to charge items). Go with a happy attitude and you’ll likely have a great time (we encountered a few who were determined to be unhappy and they were!) General feedback: A very very good operation. - the boat is super modern and has some amazing features and benefits! Check in process was prompt and efficient. Room was well presented, spacious and functional and cabin staff did a great job of keeping it clean and tidy. We tried quite a few of the food options and were happy with pretty much all:- Windjammer was the “food court” area with a wide selection of smorgasboard and made to order options (there was also a gluten free section I noticed) Plenty of healthy options and I’d be surprised if anyone left hungry or couldn’t find something they enjoyed. We had breakfast, lunch and dinner there at various stages and had no complaints – clean tables, good food, well cooked and presented and staff were friendly, efficient and cheerful. We ate at Izumi one night (Japanese) – we paid extra for this but were very happy with the food, service and experience. We chose “anytime dining” which gave us an (complimentary) option of Silks or American Icon to choose from (deck 4) – both a la carte, similar menus and again great food, service and hospitality. You can reserve tables in advance when on board but may experience a short wait on arrival during the busy dinner periods – no drama’s they’ll seat you asap and they won’t run out of food! Staff were fantastic, wine prices were reasonable (we didn’t take the drink package options) There is a free hot dog stand near the kids entertainment quarter – some options not available when we had one but still – free hot dogs!! A free pizza parlour (next to the pub on deck 4) Mmmm...Pizza! The pub staff were great – draught Heineken at $8US a pint and I like a scotch egg – theirs were fantastic! We saw both shows – Legs, live love and Pixels – both great (pre-book shows preferably if you can – we didn’t but got in on stand by as we just turned up but there was a slight wait until the reserved patrons had gotten in. Bingo was popular – mind you some were taken aback at the cost of a book of 5 for 4 games which was $49US and another session was $20 US for one game of full house for a book of 5 – we won one session though and got $500 US so happy happy happy, smiley smiley smiley!! Trivia comps were fun, pools popular with kids and adults alike and the sports courts/dodgem area popular and although there were queues they made sure they moved it along and everyone had a turn. The ifly sky dive simulator was popular and bookings essential – note there are height and weight restrictions – if you are under 6ft and weigh over 104Kilo – no go and there are also restrictions for people over 6ft so worth checking before your allotted slot if you get one? Your trip bill is automatically charged to your nominated credit card at the end of the trip (there are cash options) – be careful and check the small print as to the rate they use to convert from US $ to Aus plus they Royal Caribbean also charge a 3% fee on top (as well as an automatic gratuity of $13.50 US per person per day) We have an international currency debit card (ours is Commbank but most banks offer them) and we loaded it with US dollars at a good rate before we travelled and paid the bill in US dollars using that card which saved us a fair bit. You can check your bill by using the on-board app (check your trip booklet when you book and pay for your trip) or via the TV option in your room or at guest services - Note queues on the night before arriving back to Sydney and the morning of disembarkation were long so best to check and sort things out sooner than leave it to the end of the week if you have any queries? The spa offers some great packages and the steam/sauna option was lovely but a bit pricey at $200US a couple. To help offset the increased calorific intake (!!!!!) I used the gym each day and plenty of machines available (usual sort of stuff for most well equipped gyms) and there were a number of complimentary or pay as you go options for classes/training or seminars. We didn’t get to use the North star “eye” as it was booked solid. Plenty of on-board shopping (including Cartier and other high end stores) Bags are checked (X rayed) when you return from shore tours and alcohol etc is kept and delivered back to you the night before you dock. The boat docked in Hobart very close to Salamanca so an easy walk to some great things to see and do - there were a number of trips you can pre-book plus minibuses and private hire cars waiting to offer their services for trips to points of interest. We know the town well so did our own thing including a day trip to MONA which was great as always. In Summary – we had a great time and from the general chats we had with others they did too. Some people (only a very few) were just plain rude and grumpy but I guess a cruise can’t work miracles so read in to that what you will. A real mix of nations and everyone (most) seemed keen to have a good time and interact well with other guests. All meals were well cooked, well presented and there were plenty of options – great! – well done to the chefs and support crew – your efforts are recognised and appreciated by many. Entertainment – great – some amazing shows and plenty to keep us all amused – but still plenty of space on board to sit and relax with a book or a cocktail and people watch if you wished. Staff – excellent – not a bad word to say about any of them – each played a part in what was a great holiday experience. A big boat with a lot of people on board but very well managed and well organised – credit to the whole crew – well done and thanks! We had a 9.15am slot to assemble to leave the boat, were called at 9.20 and off the boat at around 9.30 and in a taxi - easy! Just read the info sheet they give you the night before and follow the instructions - Easy Read Less
Sail Date January 2017
Yes, there were long queues at embarkation but it's a world wide issue as port authorities ignore the need to rethink the embarkation process/facilities. All cruise lines are limited by the design of the terminals. Port authorities ... Read More
Yes, there were long queues at embarkation but it's a world wide issue as port authorities ignore the need to rethink the embarkation process/facilities. All cruise lines are limited by the design of the terminals. Port authorities need to allow for multiple entry points to the ships instead of funnelling thousands of passengers into one entry point. Enough said. Once on board, the Princess crew were all over the place providing assistance to locate our cabins. Food was already being served and it never stopped for the eleven days we were on board. The decor on the Emerald Princess is tasteful and subdued with a mix of many shades of blues and browns but lacking a little pizzazz. Nonetheless all areas and venues are clean and comfortable. Our mini-suite (D526) was immaculately clean and our cabin steward couldn't have been more helpful and responsive to our requests. As cabins go our mini-suite was very spacious and comfortable. When selecting the cabin, we didn't realise the balcony was open/visible to the decks above but worse, there was no relief from the sun. We did change the pillows for smaller ones as the standard ones were so big and luxurious we were almost smothered as our heads descended into pillow overload. The air-con all over the ship was on the cold side for my liking so make sure you take some longer sleeved items and a cardi/jacket. Of course you can buy on board! We didn't bother with the specialty dining venues (at additional cost) as the food in the main dining rooms was perfectly fine. A few misses but in the main, the options were many and varied and well cooked and presented. Still amazed at the precision and quality considering the number of passengers. We chose "anytime dining" and shared tables at lunch and dinner and we met many delightful people, some of whom we will keep in touch with. Great staff in the dining rooms too. We are not fans of buffets but when in port, it's the main eating venue on board. Food was fine. A tip for coffee lovers... there is often a long queue to order lattes etc. in the International Cafe (deck 5) despite having to purchase them. Just sit down at a table and flag a waiter who will order for you and deliver it to your table (even if you want takeaway). There is a variety of entertainment from musical stage productions, to comedy, mood music, ballroom dance lessons, line dancing, Zumba, a full gym, in cabin TV/movies, a giant screen for movies under the stars, a kids club, games on deck, art auctions, shopping sales, spa services, competitions, giveaways and if that's not enough you can attend churches services too! Excursions are not always good value for money but if you do your own thing you really need to do a lot of research beforehand and be aware if you don't get back to the ship on time, it doesn't wait for you! Some South Pacific Islands are really beautiful like Isle of PInes (not visited this trip) and Champagne Bay but Noumea is very tired looking and the locals not particularly friendly. Port Vila is run down and dirty but the people are all very friendly and chatty. Of course there is no need to go ashore as the entertainment just keeps going on board. We met many people who have cruised on Princess ships many times and some debatable incentives are offered for loyalty. There are still other cruise lines I wouldn't mind trying but I have no hesitation in recommending the Emerald Princess and may well cruise on her again. Read Less
Sail Date January 2017
We chose this cruise as it fitted in with our annual company closedown in January each year, when we must take most of our annual holiday leave. The price was great for this peak holiday time in Australia. Both the embarkation and ... Read More
We chose this cruise as it fitted in with our annual company closedown in January each year, when we must take most of our annual holiday leave. The price was great for this peak holiday time in Australia. Both the embarkation and disembarkation processes ran extremely well, no queues All food was fresh and good quality, with the dining room providing gourmet meals each night. We initially asked for extra vegetables with our meal, thereafter a separate plate of steamed vegetables was automatically provided for our table to share each night. Dining room service was excellent. The free food on the swimming pool deck was welcome, we have cruised with other lines three times & always needed to pay for food outside the dining room & cafeteria. In addition, each day a self-serve Mexican food bar was set up on that deck, enabling us to enjoy tacos & nachos - the pulled beef was yummy! WE dined in the Pinnacle Grill for lunch on two occasions. For an extra US$10 per head for three courses plus tea or expresso coffee, this was most worthwhile. The prawn bruschetta (entree) & seafood in tomato broth (main) were highlights. We were each able to take a 750ml bottle of wine aboard on embarkation, which we could drink in our cabin. To take a bottle to the main dining room incurred a corkage fee of US$18. When we visited a wine region in New Zealand, we were each permitted to take a further bottle aboard for use in the dining room, without incurring the corkage fee. A good move by Holland America. The first sitting for dining was at 5.30pm, which meant we sometimes missed dining there due to still being ashore on port days, or missed viewing the ship's departure from ports as we were in the dining room. In hindsight we would choose the later dining option. Our major gripe was with the cost on internet on board the ship, very expensive. Also quite slow according to those who did use it. Accordingly, we waited for port days to use free wifi at local libraries or cafes. However, in NZ this was not always satisfactory as it appears they are still using 3G, at times we were unable to read incoming emails & text messages, & most times could not send emails, although text messages were fine. The entertainment on board was first class, ranging from an in-house band, in-house singers & dancers, to guest comedians, musicians, & singers. There were a variety of classes especially on sea days, including a unique series of computer classes dealing with all aspects of Windows 10, & also several computer Q & A sessions .Everyone found these classes very helpful. Other activities included cooking demonstration, DIY cocktails, galley tour, fitness classes, health & beauty talks, excursion previews, just to name a few. We didn't take any ship organised excursions, mainly due to cost. As we travelled with another couple, we hired cars at two ports to travel further afield, & noticed other groups especially families, did this as well. One excursion I saw advertised privately online prior to the cruise for NZ$50 (Napier town tour 1 hr), yet the ship charged US$69 for exactly the same tour, with the same company, which was double the price (taking into account the exchange rate). This is something cruise ships need to look at closely, to encourage more use of their own shore excursions. For the cost of our cruise, we would definitely sail with Holland America again! Read Less
Sail Date January 2017
Ovation of the Sea- Syd/Tas/NZ/Syd 15th December 2016 Embarkation/Disembarkation Ironically Ch9 was doing a live telecast from the ship and they were heavily promoting it as the “ Love Boat” including the presenters heads in ... Read More
Ovation of the Sea- Syd/Tas/NZ/Syd 15th December 2016 Embarkation/Disembarkation Ironically Ch9 was doing a live telecast from the ship and they were heavily promoting it as the “ Love Boat” including the presenters heads in buoys !, it should have been a warning. Our experience has shown from “Allure” and now “Ovation” that RCL has this down to “pat” and all move fairly quickly and smoothly providing people stick to the RCL guidelines and time slots given with your paperwork, the hold ups ,if any, normally comes from Customs, having said that, both on and off the ship on the 15th/30th December was very fast for us. Plenty of Taxi’s were also available. Cabin etc Our balcony cabin was on deck 13 and it was a little longer than normal, however, it was not as wide, therefore the balcony was very small, having said that, it worked well for us, the shower in these smaller type rooms was very roomy and possibly one of the better we have experienced in the thousands of nights we have now spent at sea over the decades- there was no toiletries. We booked this cruise 8 months out to experience the ”premium ship” and the “bells n whistles”, we were told by RCL themselves at the time of booking that deck 13 was the only cabins ( at a premium) that were available, this we have since found out not to be true, deck 13 has above it the Pool and the Windjammer- therefore I would not recommend this even if it was the “last of the balconies” The “paperless” approach that is being taken left the room with NO information in relation to how to do anything unlike previous cruises where there was a iPad in your room to book shows etc.,( or the TV) this was not the case nor was our TV working and when it was fixed it did everything other than ROYAL IQ, ( there are 2 iPad’s at the elevators so you will need to line up at times) It appears there is at least 2 balcony cabin “layouts” a. with the bed closer to the bathroom and the divan next to the balcony door/window and b. the other way round. If you like lying in bed and looking at the ocean then make sure you have layout “b” although it is a tight squeeze between bed and window. A very common complaint from many women was that the toilet paper was rough and a thin single sheet of poor quality so you may consider bringing on your own, albeit it this is supposed to be a “premium ship and cruise” where you are paying up to 30% more for a similar itinerary on a similar “star” ship The TV in the cabin has a great picture, it has the normal channels HOWEVER it doesn’t offer the movie that was shown the day before and your only offering in movies is to purchase them at US$ 12 so a movie will end up costing you around AUD$ 15-18 ! there is no on board Show Channel because there is a total lack of this type of entertainment on the ship. The telephone has Chinese as the 1st language and English the 2nd as with much of the information on the ship. Ports The good itinerary ( only port lacking was Napier) started with our first port of call Hobart with all as expected, however we ran into very poor weather and had 3 days of the “premium bells n whistles” shut down while crossing the Tasman from Hobart to Milford Sound where we entered the sound and sat for 6 hours having being told the day before we would be not calling into Dunedin and instead going up the west side of the south island into Wellington, then onto Picton a fantastic small port that each year keeps re inventing / improving itself for cruise passengers ( much like Napier has) and certainly a port you want you to go back to then onto Tauranga ( the locations is really the port of Mount Maunganui and you can get a “express bus” into Tauranga for $10 return. (It amazes me for over a decade they have been charging / treating tourists all over NZ that a AUD$/US$/GBP has the same value as a NZ$ and in many cases will give you back a NZ$ for change, this is so petty and shows such a poor light to visitors and why the NZ Tourist Commission hasn’t put a stop to it fails me) such is the case in this port. What I found amazing is there was no port “sail away” music in any port and what you must see is this clinical uninviting ship steam out to sea, in Tauranga a perfect opportunity was lost of promoting the ship and the perception of the cruise when we had possibly 10,000 people crowded onto the beach, docks, jetty and rooftops and a fantastic flotilla of around 50 craft that stayed with us all the way out until the pilot got off and still not one single happy party Sail Away music was to be heard, really sums up the ship, not inviting, not fun, not appealing, Then it was onto Auckland and the shock was it is a tender port ! but the worse part was still to come in that the ( I will use RCL daily Compass “we will be offering a FREE return tender service- WOW FREE TENDER AYE”) was that the tenders didn’t go into Queens Warf or Princes Warf but down into Viaduct Marina some 7 blocks away from Queens street ! Downtown Queens St is all gone ( yes even the Warehouse gone!) so maybe given 12 months there will be a more visitor useful and friendly region but at the moment those who head straight to that part of town will find it a long long walk to find all has changed. The additional problems of the tenders is that both the marine and foot traffic caused mayhem for both locals and cruisers & requires RCL to be much more firmer with Auckland Council and say it is Queens or Princes Warf or nothing to be honest IMHO. There is no Map or Information relating to ANY of the ports to take ashore. If you haven’t booked a Shore Excursion your on your own so to speak. FOOD The ship is homed in China and what we saw was the Chinese Head Chef, the Sous Chefs, Chefs and Cooks are Chinese far more than normal on a RCL cruise and to be honest it trashed the RCL brand as they simply can’t do western food, the offerings were/are the same every night and bland, and as far as cakes / sweets they have no idea, the same 2cm square cake/deserts in a different color on tray after tray, meal after meal, and as for pastries there is none, other than the “Danish” for breakfast. As a example the Napoleon slice is “pastry” and filled with some water based gunk product with no cream in sight, just not worth the calories and as for the red velvet cake it is coloured sponge and very poor. If you enjoy this part of your meal give the entire ship a miss at this stage. ENTERTAINMENT RCL have at every point of entertainment gone out to break the 80/20 rule to prove you can ruin a great brand and product in one or 2 cruises. Ovation was to be a premium cruise, on a premium brand, and what they delivered was substandard offerings at almost every point. The “bells n whistles” of this ship that people were prepared to pay up to 30% more than other cruises were, when they were working, or if you could get a booking for the few, offset by poor overall entertainment. If you are a child/teenager or part of the lycra set ( the gym is well equip however ALWAYS overly crowded) then you would have had a fair sort of time with things to do, however, as for the other 4000 passengers, you were left with Trivia every hour and THAT WAS IT in general ! , the Daily Planner ( I am sure someone called it that in jest) was so sparse of things to do that they repeated in a space of one hour the same feature ( ie Flow Rider) 3 or 4 times so the 6 or 7 items made it look like there was entertainment on the ship for most of the guests day after day. On a ship with 4600 guests the Morning Show has a following where maybe as many as six (6) people will do a shout out, or answer the riddle of the day, and that starts the Cruise Directors day with more trivia with his side kick the “Activities Manger” and I use that term very loosely, taking part and promoting her Zumba class in between the commercials to spend more money on everything you can think of. While both seem like nice people, the cruise director apart from self-promotion and a narcissistic self indulged plugging his DVD you can buy on boardwalk and what Trivia he is taking on the day is about it as there is nothing else on. The manager of the Windjammer has daily jokes & thoughts and had everyone up doing the twist so he was offering more entertainment that the Cruise Director. The entertainers and what shows there are on a 2nd or 3rd rate and not what RCL is renowned for, I guess that is because of the large Chinese numbers. Because of the lack of entertainment when there is something on the rooms are far too small to seat a ship of 4600 people, therefore you are asked to stand ( even in a 90 min movie!)if you can cram in BELLS N WHISTLES Most of these were all shut down with 3 days of bad weather and the results were disastrous. SEAPLEX-huge open floor capable of hosting everything from basketball, soccer & cricket etc and often around 200-300 people would gather to watch or participate CIRCUS SCHOOL- on Seaplex and you would have maybe up to 50 people involved DOGGEM CARS- on Seaplex and averaged the same group of people however too many breakdowns spoilt it for many. Flow Rider- fantastic ride however with only 2-20 at any given time wanting to use it again its also for a select few- you can pay for private lessens. IFLY- another fantastic experience HOWEVER on the 5th day of the entire cruise, it was totally booked out ( for your 58 second fly) and you had to really fight to even get in the hope of being so grateful to be considered as a standby- disgraceful- having said that, on the final day some had been able to get as many as 3 or 4 flys in, so the management of this was sloppy, poor & possibly not Kosher ?. NORTH STAR- again this was totally booked out and what was decided was that the 30min ride and 360 degree would be cut back to 10 mins and a up and down experience only, not the promised 360 degree experience- shabby and nothing more than a very basic outdoor experience. The problem is the ship has too many passengers with too few timeslots available for some of these experiences and I would be wary of paying such a premium cruise price to maybe get on these. BIONIC BAR – primitive robotic arms and primitive software driving it ( my wife has a “Scan n Cut” that has far more clever software) and is really below the standard of some of the other “B n W” offered on the vessel –still it is on board revenue for RCL SUMMARY Despite my poor review of Ovation, we love the RCL brand and product, however this ship is not for those that like what you normally get from RCL. The ship is not the best in “southerly” winds and is terrible in swells, the lack of entertainment is the worst we have experienced and certainly not up to a premium cruise. There was a gastro outbreak on board however little wonder when you consider the poor hygiene some of those passengers had. A excellent format was when entering Windjammer you were sent to a washing room with maybe 10 taps and soap to wash your hands, however the failure here is the staff is more interested in saying washi washi than having someone ( or video) in the room to make sure that passengers DID wash their hands or simply walk through it as many did as was the case with certain groups, and on several occasion I watched as people took the USED paper towels out of the rubbish bin and wiped their hands with them-RCL need to understand that if you have charged a premium price for a cruise then you need to offer some entertainment for the masses and not keep trying to squeeze the lemon to the point where people on principle do not want to spend any more money to go to seminars or additional charges for entertainment. The sooner Ovation gets back to her home port in China the better and let RCL Australia recover from this terribly planned season on a substandard cruise experience. Read Less
Sail Date December 2016
We chose this cruise as it was its first time in Australia they over emphasised the fact because when we got on our interpretation from the advertising was different the services were appauling. When we embarked we waited 3 hrs just to ... Read More
We chose this cruise as it was its first time in Australia they over emphasised the fact because when we got on our interpretation from the advertising was different the services were appauling. When we embarked we waited 3 hrs just to embark the line was huge and there was no effort to keep the line moving. We eventually got on and on one of the nights the ship movement was bad mostly everyone was sick, a ship like this isn't designed for Australian waters, during the night of a couple of the nights the noise from the ocean was bad as the walls and windows aren't sound resistent. Our stateroom attendant was very helpful all the way through and was very assitive. The food was appauling as they all had similar or same menus , windjammer was just basic and waiting for resturants was dissapointing. The cruise was good for those injured on crutches or in a wheeelchair as they would get priority. Entertainment for kids was good but to line up for activities was rediculous we waited 1 and a half hrs for bumper cars , had to book for Ifly, limited availability for roller skating sessions. Being on deck 3 was terrible as you could here everything. I would never travel on this ship again and it was my children's first time so we were dissapointed and unsure whether we would cruise again with royal Caribbean. Read Less
Sail Date December 2016
Having cruised only once before with Royal Caribbean, we tried Celebrity Solstice because the timing suited and the ship got great reviews - deservedly! We booked through Vacationstogo.com - they were excellent! We booked an inside ... Read More
Having cruised only once before with Royal Caribbean, we tried Celebrity Solstice because the timing suited and the ship got great reviews - deservedly! We booked through Vacationstogo.com - they were excellent! We booked an inside stateroom because we only sleep in the stateroom and this was true of this cruise too. There was too much to do elsewhere. The shows at night were excellent with a wide variety of sensational acts. Some nights we would have 2 courses to get to the 7pm show then have desert in the Cafe. Other nights we would have the complete meal in the Dinging Room then go to the 9pm show. The food in the main dining room Grand Epernay was well above standard and then we spent one evening at Murano. Murano would equal any 5 star restaurant. Particularly if you are lucky enough to get Ibraham as your waiter. We selected fixed time dining on a table of 6 people so met 2 other couples and got on so well, we looked forward to dinner each evening (I hope they did too). This is not a ship to get bored in. There is everything from the well-stocked library across two levels to a range of bands and singers during the evening and night at various locations across the ship to guided behind-the-scenes tours of various aspects the ship to dancing and shows. There is also the specialty Corning Museum of Glass exhibitions of glass blowing daily which is absolutely fascinating to see. We did not book the ship's shore excursions preferring smaller more intimate tours we booked ourselves so can't comment on these. As members of Cruise Critic, we attended a morning tea hosted by the ship and attended by some of the senior crew where we had the chance to meet some really interesting Cruise Critic members and formed friendships from day 1. I would highly recommend the Celebrity Solstice. There were 2 staff members who were particularly good - Deborah from Guest Services and Ibraham from Murano. Celebrity should be extremely proud to have these staff. Read Less
Sail Date November 2016
So my partner and I went on a 7 night cruise to Hamilton Island and Cairns. I really want to start off by saying if you're going on the Aria have an open mind! Before we left I read all of the reviews and obviously some of them are ... Read More
So my partner and I went on a 7 night cruise to Hamilton Island and Cairns. I really want to start off by saying if you're going on the Aria have an open mind! Before we left I read all of the reviews and obviously some of them are awful! The few good ones left me with some hope. I went on with an open mind wanting to have an amazing time and we did! I couldn't fault anything! The staff were so attentive and helpful. Other said there weren't enough staff and it took a long time to get a drink but we never had an issue! There was always staff walking around offering. The food was also excellent. The pantry is similar to a food court but much nicer and hyngenic. All the food there was great! We also went to the waterfront restaurant numerous times and everything was super delicious and the service was so fast and like a 5 star restaurant. It was the same at Angelos. We didn't try the dragon lady because I'm a bit fussy. Our cabin steward were so helpful and always remembered our names whenever they saw us. We only saw 2 shows because I kept forgetting they were on. The first one I thought was average and the second one was great but they also aren't really my thing but other guests said they thought they were very good! There was always lots to do the entire time, we played trivia, bingo, name that tune and movie mania. We weren't very good but they were definitely a good laugh! Disembarkment at ports and when we arrived home was all very fast and smooth. Over all we didn't encounter any issues and we had such a wonderful time so really I have no idea why others complained! I hope this helps others to go on this boat! Positive mind = positive cruising! :) Read Less
Sail Date April 2016
We have just got back from a three night comedy cruise and had a fantastic time on the Pacific Eden with our 6 year old daughter. We can't work out what the negative reviews have been about. Yes it's an older ship but the ... Read More
We have just got back from a three night comedy cruise and had a fantastic time on the Pacific Eden with our 6 year old daughter. We can't work out what the negative reviews have been about. Yes it's an older ship but the main areas have been revamped and our room was very clean and still in good condition. We had a balcony room and our room attendants Dave and Mel where excellent. The staff overall were very attentive and friendly unlike the staff we experienced on Royal Carribean's Explorer of the Seas at Christmas time. This is only our second cruise and were very surprised that in reading past reviews P&O has been referred to as a budget cruise line, yet provided better service and equal if not better food than the RCL cruise. This P &O cruise worked out at half of the cost pp per night compared to the Royal cruise. The food in Angelo's and the Dragon Lady was really nice. The Pantry was good as well despite it being buffet style only with servers so keep your expectations realistic, and there never seemed to be any problems with huge cues, we could always find somewhere to sit. Sorry, at the water front there were cues and we chose not to stand in those cue's at peak times and just went to an alternative place to eat. Once we did cue for a few minutes at the Water front and were given a pager and asked to wait in one of the bars. How, bad can it be, have a drink in a lovely bar why you wait twenty minutes. We went to the Blueroom which we loved and frequented regularly. Some folk may complain some serves of food are a bit small but if we were still hungry we would ask for another main and that was no trouble for the staff. You could also just go to the pantry and have another entire meal. The live shows were fantastic, both comedy and musical. The live music in the bars and at the pool was also great. The bar areas on the Eden were very comfortable and made you feel relaxed. The bar staff were great as well. A huge contrast to the surly bar staff we experienced on RCL, in case we haven't already provided that comparative. Our daughter had a ball in the kids club and at the pool and the staff were lovely to her. She did not need rock climbing walls and ice skating. This cruise was at capacity but never showed as we always found a table and could easily get a drink. It was a great little ship which we found we liked after the cruise on a huge ship such as Explorer of the Seas ( so size dose not always matter) and the staff seemed much more happy on the Eden. Our only negative and why it does not get 5 out of 5 is that the ship had some strange smells in some areas, which may be due to its age and plumbing issues, but saying that there were plumbing issues on Explorer as well. Bits of Eden are showing there age like the balconies and seals and finishings around Windows being very weathered. Overall we had a great time and we will definately sail P&O again even though there ships are smaller and a bit older. No point paying the extra money for big flash ships like Royal offer when the staff are unhappy and overall vibe is not there. That is our experience based on only two cruises and I'm sure others experiences on both ships may differ to ours, but for us P&O comes out in front. We will be doing a Princess Cruise New Years so we will see how they fair. In saying all that I think any cruise is a good cruise, beats being at work and at the end of the day it's how you ride the bumps and make the most of what you have paid for. The options are there, you just need to grab them when things aren't what you expected. We are hooked. Great cruise. Read Less
Sail Date March 2016
First of all and up front - my long term partner left me while I was on this cruise, so i'll do my best to not let that get in the way of the review. The good: Jen Baxter - The Cruise Director. After many many cruises ... Read More
First of all and up front - my long term partner left me while I was on this cruise, so i'll do my best to not let that get in the way of the review. The good: Jen Baxter - The Cruise Director. After many many cruises across several lines, Jen is a stand out. Her quick wit and sense of humour manages to balance that all too difficult line between appropriate and inappropriate with perfection. She's the equivalent of a pixar film - entertaining for the kids with plenty of hidden gems for the adults to enjoy. She's a rare beast amongst cruise directors - as she's visible just about everywhere and works hard to make a connection with everyone. There is a striking gap between what the public expect of a cruise director, and what a cruise director is 'physically' able to do (or endure). The only downside to Jen is that she makes all other cruise directors I've encountered seem lazy and the equivalent of an FM radio drive time host going through the motions in a desperate bid to appear 'fun'. The difference with Jen is, she actually seems to 'be' fun, and as a result, if she's putting it on you'd never know. The entertainment: Terrence (might have been assistant CD?) is tops. He's like SNL's Kenan Thompson in a carnival uniform. Plenty of variety and they worked hard to keep it interesting on a cruise that was almost 75% sea days. The Average: Food: The food was nothing special. Often too salty, overcooked and chewy. It was also nothing to write home about, as chances are those at home would be eating the same thing. It's a shame - and something Carnival Australia could work on improving. The service at the restaurants would always triumph over the (often inedible) uninspiring 'nanas on a thursday' style food (if nana was drunk and jacked up on amphetamines). Ship: The ship is in need of a bit of a refurb. The decor seems less 'in your face' than Carnival Spirit, but only so far as sorbet is generally less unhealthy than ice-cream. The Bad: Staff Tensions With exception to Velmir in the dining room and Rai (our steward), there was obvious tension between the asian staff and the eastern european staff. On opening night, some of the asian staff were in tears. The eastern european staff (again, with the exception of Velmir) seemed to be disinterested and very abrupt. Cultural I know, but not what one pays for aboard an american cruise line. The 18+ area on deck 9: The age limit seemed more of a guideline, as the security staff sat idly by as toddlers and teens ran amok. On a Christmas cruise where there was a large number of kids onboard, (as a reasonable person) some concession could be made - but not to the level of nonsense that existed with kids being served at the bar! Tendering in Queensland: As a QLD resident, I would urge the cruise lines to avoid QLD until such time as they introduce suitable berthing arrangements. A 45min ride on a packed tender at Airlie Beach is both uncomfortable AND totally unacceptable. Docking at Fishermans Wharf in Brisbane, almost an hour and $15 on a bus to the CBD - unforgivable. Carnival would have been better off stopping at tangalooma on moreton island (just off brisbane) and tendering again. Room Service: Most of the food served was available free from the buffet - so why not a tray charge of $5 (for the labour) instead of the overpriced 'per item' fee? The ship's best feature is the stateroom balcony - so why not encourage the use of said balcony by introducing a better 'in-room dining experience' with an expanded menu and simple tray charge. Airport transfer staff: This was a domestic cruise. Two different carnival employees at Sydney Airport had DOZENS of passengers in a 'twist' in Terminal 2 when upon arrival (pre-cruise) they were informed by these staff that they would definitely need a passport as 'the captain has decided to take the ship more than 12nm offshore'. NONSENSE, as was confirmed after quite a nervous conversation with the call centre, and upon check in. Shore Excursions: Another prime example of why cruise lines should avoid Queensland. The offering was abysmal! Port Douglas had 4 tours available, most of which had sold out before the ship left Sydney. All other ports had bugger all, most 'advertised' options on the website weren't available due to the 'holiday season'. What a load of garbage - tour operators once ashore, including those who advertise on the carnival website were spruking as hard as they could. Saved money (sure), but with no guarantees, whats the point? Overall: 7/10 - Below what i'd expected but satisfactory. Read Less
Sail Date December 2015
As the title suggests, the cruise was pretty good overall, but not perfect by any means and not as good as it could have been with better management. This was our 6th cruise and having sailed with P & O and Celebrity, we had ... Read More
As the title suggests, the cruise was pretty good overall, but not perfect by any means and not as good as it could have been with better management. This was our 6th cruise and having sailed with P & O and Celebrity, we had obviously experienced both ends of the spectrum of quality, with P & O clearly the worst of the cruise lines on just about every front and Celebrity so far ahead a telescope would be required to see them. Before this cruise we tried to find out if we should have a drinks package, but despite a considerable effort, we could not find a definitive price list for on board drinks, so I wrote to both Princess and my own agent with a handful of questions. Oddly enough I received mixed replies and none of them accurate. For example, Princess sent me a list of prices which were so under priced as to suggest they were either from a different cruise line or decade and my agent categorically stated we would require a US electrical converter! So just to set the record straight let me list a few prices and facts here for anyone else trying to organise themselves before departure. A Crown lager is $7.95, cocktails start at around $10 and a half decent wine was $10 a glass. A bottle of red would set you back around $35, but remember all these prices are subject to a 15% gratuity. And talking of gratuity, Princess state that passengers will be automatically charged a per night gratuity of around $12 per person, unless they opt out, but in fact if you book in Australia for a cruise from Australia, they DONT charge gratuities at all and you need to make your own arrangements or opt IN to do it. There was a universal plug socket in the cabin (a mini suite of very generous proportions indeed} and the choice of in room movies was beyond impressive - we are talking dozens of them and several VERY new releases. The TV channels however were to put it mildly very poor. Having said that, we have found they usually are on Cruise ships. Now for some personal highs and the odd lows of the cruise. Embarkation at the Sydney International Passenger Terminal at Circular Quay has been improved over the past couple of years and is virtually seamless, swift and painless. We were given a boarding time and arrived about 30 minutes early. Our cases were dropped off before entering the terminal and we were on board in our cabin less than 30 minutes later and our bags were delivered soon after. Another high is the food, which in our opinion is better than Celebrity in as much as Celebrity seem to serve their food with an American twist, meaning everything is OVER sauced, over flavoured and very salty, whereas Princess 's food was delicate and subtle with LOTS of seafood across the 13 days. We chose anytime dining and had the choice of four silver service restaurants to eat at at any time in the evening we wished along with the trough - err sorry I mean the buffet upstairs, a grill with burgers and hot dogs and a pizza bar. ALL of these are included in the fare and require no surcharge. For breakfast and lunch the choice of dining venues was more limited but still more than ample with breakfast in the main Princess dining room offering table service and the trough - sorry again - the buffet offering self service and these being joined by the grill and pizza bar for lunch. The main dining room also offered a totally unnecessary but still pleasant afternoon tea as well. There are a large number of bars on the ship as you would expect, but this leads me to my first negative of the cruise. I am a rather large individual, standing over 6 foot and not exactly slim in stature, yet gaining the eye of the waiters in most bars was virtually impossible on most occasions, though I would stress there WERE the odd exceptions. I am not used to being invisible and can only surmise that the staff have somehow perfected the art of not seeing people waving frantically, with arms over their heads directly in front of them - having given up on waiting for the staff to come over of their own free will. Could only describe this aspect of the cruise as abysmal, made worse by the fact we had purchased a drinks package for over $700 and therefore it was the drinks we had already paid for they werent serving us!!! Having said that, Skywalkers Bar and the Churchill Bar were exceptions to this with excellent service and a delightful young girl called Ruri ran herself off her feet serving everyone in various bars at different times, while some of her colleagues chatted to their mates behind the bar!!!!! Other pluses included the on board musical group Evolution who were very VERY good and very , VERY approachable and pleasant, with a stunning repertoire of songs crossing all genres and datelines. The best on board entertainment ever! I wont dwell on the odd negatives, though a couple were pretty bad. One involved the staff tying up 3 out of 4 aft lifts for the benefit of around 200 passengers to the detriment of the remaining 2000, turning what was normally a good and reliable method of transport between decks into a completely useless system and forced many less mobile passengers to become prisoners of their cabin or to be exiled from their cabin if they were elsewhere when the exercise started. Another was the refusal of the International Dining room Maitre D to allow passengers to be seated as on 2 seater tables on the final morning - forcing them to sit on large tables with other passengers. This is fine for most, but not for all and the minority should have been accommodated. My final is about the disembarkation process which went horribly wrong for about an hour and a quarter through no fault of the shipping line or its staff, but which should have been handled better on board with a bit of intelligence by the officers. Basically the Immigration departments computers went on the blink and the disembarkation process all but stopped. NO announcements were made for the best part of 3/4 of an hour and when it was explained, there was no guide as to how likely it was to be fixed in the short term. As I said NOT the crews fault in ANY way that the problem occurred, BUT keeping the passengers informed as quickly as possible and keeping them, updated VERY regularly would have avoided stress for those with a timetable to keep to. Personally I would have given free internet wifi for all passengers during the delay. This would have allowed those WITH a time problem to deal with the problem using the internet on their phones and kept the other passengers occupied as they either read the news, played games or communicated with family and friends. Simple, but NOT offered. All we got was silence! Moving back to the more pleasant aspects of the trip, the tendering service from the Diamond Princess is brilliant. With 6 tender vessels operating, the longest we waited was 20 minutes to get a ride ashore. That is remarkable. The ships singers and dancers were very entertaining and the special effects, props and costumes were all excellent for all their shows. Having said that the theater didnt seem to be large enough for the number of passengers with all seats filled with 1/4 of an hour to go till the first show started. The second performance usually had a little more space. The shows were generally around 30 minutes long, which was about half the length of those on the other cruises we have done, but they were very fast paced and well choreographed. Personally, we didnt like ANY of the invited guest performers, but I guess that was just us. I havent mentioned the shops and wont, other than to say there were less shops, less variety and very little value in any of them, which surprised us a LOT. Cant really explain why they would be so much worse than on all our previous cruises, but there you go, Princess Cruises saved us a bit of money we WOULD have spent on board, so thanks! So in summing up, the ship is in great condition, rides the waves very well due to her size and offers plenty of variety for dining, drinking, entertainment and pretty much all the sorts of activities you would want on board. I would recommend it to anyone who doesnt mind large numbers of people around them and a fair number of kids. Again speaking personally, I would rate the Celebrity above the Diamond Princess but there again you pay for that difference - our Mini Suite was about $2200 each with a few on board credits included, where as our ordinary Balcony suite with Concierge class service was $2500 each, and that went to the much cheaper destination of the Pacific Islands and Fiji compared to New Zealand and at a lower season time of year. Diamond Princess is however miles ahead of P & O which has slumped from its once average to poor level of service, to its current dreadful state with ancient ships, and a policy of trying to suck money out of every passenger on ANY excuse once they get on board. We really enjoyed the cruise which seemed to pass in the blink of an eye. Met some nice people and would not rule out travelling with Princess in the future if Celebrity arent going where we want to go! Read Less
Sail Date December 2015

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