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33 Australia & New Zealand Gay & Lesbian Cruise Reviews

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
We embarked on our Singapore to Sydney cruise very smoothly and were impressed by our cabin. C103, with its in port only balcony . We found there was lots to do during the day and evening, although I would have liked more classical music ... Read More
We embarked on our Singapore to Sydney cruise very smoothly and were impressed by our cabin. C103, with its in port only balcony . We found there was lots to do during the day and evening, although I would have liked more classical music concerts (there was one and it was excellent). We were disappointed with the night club. DJ Mikey has no idea how to get a party going and his "Abba Night" consisted of 25 minutes of songs because, he said, "i tunes only have this amount of playing time of Abba available". However the lounge bands were good. We were particularly impressed by the food on the Diamond Princess. At lunchtime there were a variety of venues all serving good quality fresly cooked food. In the evening we went for Anytime Dining which was good because there were lots of people from around the world to talk to in a choice of 4 restaurants. In fact many of the waiting staff were highly qualified and spoke several languages and were interesting to talk to also! The choice and quality of the dishes was excellent. We booked a couple of excursions with people we'd met through Cruise Critic and these worked out really well, and were cheaper than those organised with the ship. Although I had booked and paid for the cruise most of the administration, including the after-cruise evaluation, was sent only to my (male) partner. He e mailed me the evaluation form but I was not allowed by the system to fill it in! ! made a formal complaint a month ago and still have not received a reply. Despite this lack of courtesy, I would certailnly go again on a Princess cruise and would recommend this particular one, Singapore to Sydney (sailing for the first time into Sydney harbour is magical!) Read Less
Sail Date November 2013
Overview: This was our first cruise with HAL, first time in the southern hemisphere, and first three week vacation. It was a specialty cruise where Atlantis Events chartered the entire ship for a primarily gay cruise starting in ... Read More
Overview: This was our first cruise with HAL, first time in the southern hemisphere, and first three week vacation. It was a specialty cruise where Atlantis Events chartered the entire ship for a primarily gay cruise starting in Auckland, New Zealand and ending in Sydney, Australia for the Mardi Gras parade and Mardigrasland party. This was our third cruise and second with Atlantis. On the whole we enjoyed the trip, found the ship comfortable, most of the crew polite and friendly, made new friends, enjoyed most of the meals, and had some nice adventures on the excursions. Our previous two cruises were with RCI and we are likely to return to a Royal Caribbean ship for future cruises. We found the HAL experience rated just a little lower than RCI in almost every category except for cabin size and comfort. The cabin on this cruise was large, comfortable, and everything worked perfectly. Air travel: On the whole we logged more than 20,000 miles in three weeks for this trip. That's a lot of flying. To break up the trip, we flew Southwest Airlines from the east coast to Los Angeles and stayed with friends for two nights. We booked Air New Zealand (ANZ) to Auckland with a 9 hour layover in Honolulu to further break up the trip. I learned two things I want to share. First, ANZ partners with other airlines such as United. Even though all of your reservation documentation may show a ANZ flight numbers, you may still need to board another carrier's aircraft and flight number. Fortunately we were using the FlightTrack app so we didn't have our driver drop us off at the ANZ terminal #2. The app showed the flight was originally scheduled to leave Delta terminal #6 but was updated to United terminal #7 during our drive to the airport. Neither Delta nor United personnel claimed they found us in their system. I had to call ANZ and speak with someone with a strong New Zealand accent to learn which carrier and flight number on which we were booked to Honolulu. With the United flight number we approached the United counter again and successfully checked into the flight. Once in Honolulu we were upgraded by Dollar to a new, convertible Mustang and enjoyed exploring the island for a six hours. The flight to Auckland was a real ANZ flight. Their flight crew is very friendly, the aircraft modern with lots of entertainment options, food is delicious, and the safety video is Lord of the Rings themed and entertaining. After the vacation flying ANZ back to the USA resulted in more confusion. They received a new computer system the day before and their terminal and staff were in chaos. Eventually we learned ANZ had again passed us off to United so we had to make our way to United and check in with them for our direct flight from Sydney to Los Angeles. I'll avoid ANZ and look to Qantas in the future. The second thing I learned was flying from the USA to AU/NZ you lose one day and gain it back on the return. Embarkation: While I didn't expect embarkation to be pleasant, our experience at the Prince's Wharf in Auckland was worse than expected. Atlantis pushed embarkation time later to allow VIPs to board early. This narrowed the window for everyone else to less than three hours and the VIPs arrived late anyway. The terminal was very warm and and didn't seem to have any air conditioning. We joined the line with a good attitude and were making progress through one of the two available lines. An Atlantis employee appeared and scolded everyone for arriving early, closed one of the lines without telling the people in the 2nd line where to go. Fortunately another Atlantis employee noticed the confusion and instructed the people in line two who were now cut off to merge in with our line. He indicated this was done to allow the VIPs to enter first and this added about an extra hour wait to the hour we had already waited in line in this very hot building. When we reached a HAL representative we were told there was a problem printing our room keys and we should wait at the far side of the building by the exit. At least there was some fresh air by the tent exit. After 20 minutes our room keys had not appeared. An Atlantis employee was no help and seemed annoyed while implying we were being impatient. He thought we were waiting at the right place and indicated a couple of other passengers had the same issue with their keys earlier. After another ten minutes I found another HAL employee and asked. She indicated we needed to board the ship and go to the front office for our keys. I did point out the HAL employee who had misinformed us and also let the Atlantis employee know the procedure in case this happened to others. We were exhausted and soaked with sweat by the time we boarded the ship. Ship: We found the Oosterdam to be in good condition and easy to navigate. From photos I expected the colors and decor to be gaudy, but on the whole the design was appealing and I enjoyed the nautical themed art throughout the ship. The only exceptions I found odd include the childish looking modern sculptures at the aft pool (an adults only pool -- no wonder others complain about children ending up there) and the odd center ceiling with flashing color lights in the main dining room. Okay, I thought the Pinnacle Grill pacific northwest themed decor was ugly too. Mechanically everything worked properly and the elevators were amazingly speedy. A trick I learned to quickly identify fore and aft directions is that the benches are always on the aft wall in the elevator lobbies. Cabin: Our cabin was the largest we have had and found it to have significant closet and storage space. It was located in the aft part of the ship on deck 5. Crew and Atlantis staff: We found most of the crew to be polite, friendly, and helpful. Our cabin stewards (we had two) never stopped by to introduce themselves so I wrote them a note to tell them our names and ask for theirs. In the note I included the types of fruit we liked, indicated we used a lot of ice, and asked for a laundry bag. For the rest of the cruise, they provided fruit and maintained two containers of ice for us. The first two towel animals were unidentifiable but they got better and better as the cruise progressed. We did leave extra tips for them when they surpassed our expectations. We did have a few bad experiences with bar staff. After ordering two rum and Coke's a bartender asked if I would prefer a "strong double." I responded no, and he proceeded to pour extremely weak drinks. I commented, "Wow, that's a very weak single." He nodded in affirmation. I turned away and was talking to someone in line when he tapped me on the shoulder. I turned and he showed me a cup almost full of alcohol and said, "This is a strong double." I was stunned and disappointed. The roving wait staff offering drinks were too aggressive with constant pressure to purchase drinks. They have an incentive to do this for the automatic 15% gratuity and it was a gay cruise to it's possible this occurred because additional staff were on board to serve alcohol. We received massages at the spa and were a little disappointed in the quality. We expected a relaxing experience and instead received deep tissue massages followed by a couple of days of sore muscles. Atlantis staff seemed less organized and friendly on this cruise. They also provide a 2nd cruise director in addition to the HAL one. The Atlantis cruise director is the same person we had on our Med cruise seven years ago. I heard a comment that this was his 104th Atlantis cruise. It shows. He didn't seem friendly or approachable and actually came off as cranky. With the exception of one Atlantis staff member who was on his first Atlantis cruise, they all seemed a bit cranky, unorganized, and unhelpful. I think it's time for new blood at Atlantis. Food: We found food on the Oosterdam to be good although some selections were tiny. I found myself trying to read between the lines of menu descriptions to decide if it would be a tiny morsel instead of a traditional course. Our specialty cruise was 100% open seating and at sea days a brunch was served in the MDR, which I don't think is normally done. With open seating it's often nice to meet and dine with new people but I do miss having the same waiters who learn your preferences. One night we were seated with a passenger who ordered one of every dessert. Even though I bore no responsibility, I was embarrassed and the time it took almost made us late for a show. We especially enjoyed dinner in the Pinnacle Grill and were served the best crab cakes I've ever had, delicious steak, and very showy, flaming baked Alaska desserts. Most nights had theme parties that ran into the early morning hours and HAL always had a very nice variety of good food in the Lido for hungry guests. Entertainment: Since this was a specialty cruise, entertainment duties were shared by HAL and Atlantis. We attended several of the shows by entertainers hired by Atlantis and enjoyed them although we didn't find them as good as our previous Atlantis cruise in the Mediterranean. The HAL shows we saw were okay, but again we didn't find them as enjoyable as entertainers on RCI cruises. Excursions: We booked a mixture of HAL and independent excursions. When scheduling allowed we booked small group, independent excursions through Viator. Even many of the HAL excursions were customized to include only passengers from our ship which resulted in smaller groups which enhanced the experience. Although we were sad to learn we would miss Christchurch because of the distance from Akaroa, NZ we really enjoyed the Duncan Barber Sheep Farm and later the two hour nature cruise in the port of Akaroa. We also really enjoyed lunch on the Colonial Tram in Melbourne. The food, service, and sightseeing was extraordinary. We found it a great way to tour Melbourne in comfort. Another highlight was a small group Blue Mountains day trip we booked in Sydney through Viator. We reached the Featherdale animal park just as they opened and were able to feed and pet animals including kangaroos and koala bears. The trip continued to uncrowded viewing location of the Blue Mountains, Olympic Park, and a cruise back to Circular Quay which avoided rush hour crowded highways. Our itinerary was adjusted for this specialty cruise and was shortened to 12 days. We had an overnight in Melbourne and an overnight in Sydney which required omitting a couple of the regular Oosterdam ports. One thing we would not do again is book the very expensive Glamstand Glambar for viewing the Mardi Gras parade in Sydney. We were promised free gourmet food and an open bar served by waiters. In reality the bar had a long, slow line with a limited selection of pre-mixed, cocktails in aluminum cans. The food was good but sparse and there were zero chairs for patrons of the "Glambar." People who opted for lower priced Glamstand tickets had stadium seating. For most Oosterdam passengers this will not be an issue since this was part of our specialty cruise. Conclusion: We enjoyed our adventure Down Under and made some great friends. HAL staff and the Oosterdam made for an overall good experience. Atlantis Events did an okay job, but missed an opportunity to make the trip amazing. 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Sail Date February 2013
Stayed at the Hilton in Auckland, so getting to embarkation was easy. Walked out the front door of the hotel. Made a left and walked about 50 yards to the Celebrity Tents set up for taking luggage. Embarkation- Smooth...with exception. ... Read More
Stayed at the Hilton in Auckland, so getting to embarkation was easy. Walked out the front door of the hotel. Made a left and walked about 50 yards to the Celebrity Tents set up for taking luggage. Embarkation- Smooth...with exception. You could tell the conference center in Auckland that was used for emabarkation was never designed for that purpose, as its quite the maze of customs, ships personnel, and luggage handlers both inside and out. Very grateful though that the process itself was smooth and flowed well. Was impressed though that they had planned for everything with tents set up outside the conference center with shade and free bottle water available should the lines go out the doors. Ship itself-The Century is the oldest ship in Celebrity's fleet (1995) and was given a 55+ million dollar makeover in 2006. It was money well spent as the ship has the outward appearance of a newer vessel, but with some real beautiful ocean liner amenities' that are forgotten on the newer vessels. You see the details on decking, dining room, and public areas that just wow you with the intricacy of a different era of workmanship. It's funny, Century was the first ship I sailed on with Celebrity 15 years ago (when Celebrity was still part of the Chandris family holdings), and was so glad to see they held true to its grandeur during the refurbishment with details that could be easily forgotten to cut costs, but they weren't. It was as grand this time as it was 15 years back. From the information I could gather after returning, Celebrity has the youngest fleet amongst its competitors with an average ship age of 8 years. Its two main competitors Princess has an average age of 10 years, and Holland America 12 years. Service to me is what puts Celebrity into a class of its own compared to other lines and Century was no exception. By about day three the stateroom attendant, his assistant, and the butler, along with our waiter and assistant waiter knew me (as well as the rest of my table mates) by name. I always feel pretty honored that they take the time and effort to learn peoples names even though odds are they won't see most again. One service feature I noticed this cruise that I don't remember from previous voyages was on about day 4 they left "Attention to Detail" cards in our room, a form that was signed by the Hotel Director asking for your inputs on things they could do immediately to make your cruise better, items that could be addressed and corrected on board. I was very pleasantly surprised by the follow up on these cards. Handed mine into the guest relations desk, and gentleman there asked if he could read it. He did and asked if it would be all right to pass the comments directly on to the appropriate department heads, which he did, as my two items were corrected in less than 24 hours. The other part of this "attention to Detail" card that I found remarkably effective were the follow up to the positive comments that were made on the card. The next night at dinner the Asst matre d' came over and thanked me for the comments I had made regarding our assistant waiter and the asst matre d' service so far in the cruise. I think sometimes it's easy to give attention to detail criticism, but equally if not more important to give the praise to people doing an excellent job so to reinforce their actions. It really was interesting discussing with people at our table of 10 to hear what they put on these cards, and hearing the follow up every one received. Of course a few of the comments passengers made on these cards were downright silly in my opinion, but the follow up on every single item was given serious attention to correct the item to the guests satisfaction. Cabin-Absolutely loved the sky suite. Big balcony with two loungers and a table with a couple of chairs. Plenty of storage throughout room. Bathroom was all white marble with a jetted tub and shower. Fresh fruit and canapes brought by every day, Ports-All were beautiful but especially enjoyed Akaroa in New Zealand, and Melbourne in Australia Dining-MDR is my favorite, can't think of any meal I was disapointed with. I could live on just appetizers, soup, and salads for a whole cruise. Do admire the creativity of the dishes. The short ribs were to die for. After being spoiled by the larger buffets on Solstice class, the one on Century was a bit more scaled down. Excursions-Didn't do many this trip as the ports are smaller and most everything is close to pier side. Did a real nice Celebrity walking tour in both Wellington and Melbourne, that were a great value (~$40) for 4 hours, and found them informative and a good overview. One thing I loved about Century was the wood. The polished wood decks, the paneling in the main dining room, and just the beautiful details throughout. Disembarkation was easy, seems everyone just leaves, no matter what time their suggested times are Read Less
Sail Date January 2012
The Volendam was chartered on this cruise by Atlantis Events, a US based gay and lesbian travel operator, and timed to arrive in Sydney on the day of the Mardi Gras parade. Accordingly, I haven't included any comments about ... Read More
The Volendam was chartered on this cruise by Atlantis Events, a US based gay and lesbian travel operator, and timed to arrive in Sydney on the day of the Mardi Gras parade. Accordingly, I haven't included any comments about entertainment as this was specific to this cruise. Summary: an acceptable 4 star experience (even though my comments below look more critical than that) but overpriced for what it delivered. Cabin: we had a verandah cabin. It was spacious. It was well kept, though clearly showing signs of age. It must be said that the ship needs a refurbishment. This is not to say that the cabin was unpleasant, however for the price (USD$3,350 per person plus the USD$11 per day per person service charge) it did not present good value or an exceptional experience. Pools and other common areas: the pools were small but ok. Again, the areas needed refurbishment. The Explorer's Cafe area and the Crows Nest were very nice spaces. Dining: the main restaurant (the Rotterdam) was efficiently run. The food was of average to good quality and perfectly acceptable for a facility that serves many people per sitting. It was open dining and there was never a wait for a table. The Lido buffet was unexceptional but well run with good food choices. The Pinnacle Restaurant: we thought that this experience was not much superior to the main dining room. The best feature was that it was small and quiet with good (but, it must be said, over attentive) service. The food varied from virtually inedible (yes, really) in the form of the small taster of ravioli which was first offered, to bland (tasteless prawn/shrimp cocktail) to very good (filet mignon, although cooked extremely rare rather than the medium rare ordered) and a dessert souffle. I wasn't expecting anything out of the box and in that respect the restaurant was no great surprise. Although only a small charge (USD$20 per person), in my view not worth a visit. Service standards in the shop generally : friendly but no effort to deliver any more than a basic pleasant service. Ports: Wellington, Christchurch, Dunedin and Melbourne. Had a great time in each because we made our own arrangements (ship organised excursions were ridiculously overpriced). In Christchurch and Dunedin we hired a car and headed out of town to some wonderful scenery. Read Less
Sail Date February 2010

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