We’d booked this cruise fully a year ago and had toured around Australia with family for two weeks prior. As we’d stayed at the Rendezvous Hotel, The Rocks, the night before the cruise, we only had to roll our suitcases down a hill to ... Read More
We’d booked this cruise fully a year ago and had toured around Australia with family for two weeks prior. As we’d stayed at the Rendezvous Hotel, The Rocks, the night before the cruise, we only had to roll our suitcases down a hill to reach the cruise terminal. Luggage drop-off and check-in were quick and very easy (we had booked a Grand Suite, so check-in was expedited.)
Unlike our last cruise in a suite, on NCL, no one escorted us onboard or guided us to the Concierge Club, so we boarded the ship and headed toward the Windjammer Café for a good lunch. All rooms were ready by 1 pm, so we dropped our carry-ons and explored the suite.
The bathroom was large and well-equipped, with double sinks and a shower and tub. My only “complaint” was that there was a very high step up into the tub. The bed was extremely comfortable, there was a very generous amount of storage, the balcony was of a good size, and there was a comfortable sofa and chair and a well-equipped bar area. There were curtains to separate the sleeping area from the rest of the suite. Our room steward, Anak, was among the best we’ve ever had; he was efficient, thorough, and had our room ready by the time we were back from breakfast virtually every day.
We had My Time Dining, with reservations for each evening that we weren’t at a specialty restaurant. Most evenings we were seated at the same table for two in a row of tables for two, and had a lovely time chatting with the couples on either side of us. Service was very good, as were most dinners. We generally had lunch in the section of the MDR set aside for suite, Diamond, Diamond Plus and Pinnacle guests and enjoyed getting to meet a variety of people, most of them Australians, with a few Americans and Brits. We tried room service breakfast a few days, and were underwhelmed, so we usually went to the buffet in the MDR, which was excellent, if very busy.
We had a three-night specialty restaurant plan. Chops was outstanding, Giovanni’s Table thoroughly enjoyable, and Izumi a new experience for us; we hadn’t cooked dinner on Hot Rocks before, but we managed, and the food was delicious.
We had booked the Leisurely Brisbane excursion through RCCL. The day was pretty rainy, and the tour a disappointment. There was no tour guide assigned, and the bus driver had to do both jobs. He was OK, but at one point dropped us all off on the South side of town to fend for ourselves with no suggestions. Wasted time. We did enjoy the beautiful Queenslander architecture and the (foggy) view from Mt. Coot-tha.
In Airlie Beach, we did the Aqua Bus tour; this was about the most enjoyable excursion we’ve ever had. The narrator was informative, hilarious, and it was great fun at a very reasonable cost. Loved it! We also thought Airlie Beach was a gorgeous place; I’d love to see more of the Whitsunday Islands.
For Cairns, (Yorkey’s Knob) we’d booked through the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway – the cable car up and the scenic railway (Gold service) back. My husband did the tour on his own, as I wasn’t feeling well the day of the tour. To my complete astonishment, when I notified the Skyrail people that I wasn’t able to come, they refunded my money in full… on the day of the tour! I was amazed and grateful. They had also been very helpful with times, reservations, etc., prior to the cruise; I can’t say enough good things about them. Additionally, their cost, including the Gold service on the train, was considerably less than the ship’s cost for an ordinary booking. My husband raved about the excursion and loved Kuranda.
I must say something about the tender service. Though my husband was the first person on the tender to Yorkey’s Knob, he barely made it in time to meet the Skyrail bus. There were all sorts of problems getting people loaded, apparently due to rough seas and some confusion about what tenders could be used. There were plenty of very angry people, some of whom missed excursions. There had evidently also been tender issues at Airlie Beach, though we were fine.
We had been very excited about seeing Darwin due to its WWII history and had booked the ship’s Darwin/WWII tour. We were especially delighted that we were to be there on Anzac Day, with its parade and festivities. One would think that the ship’s excursion team would have made the connection and incorporated some of the parade into the tour; alas, that did not happen. The first stop on the tour was a museum with no connection to WWII history apart from an art exhibition with pieces made from WWII debris. One couple was 25 minutes late returning to the bus, meaning that we had wasted a good hour. There were visits to a War Museum and an Aviation Museum, both of them pretty good, but the stops there were rushed. The time wasted on the first stop would have been better used at these stops. All in all, a very disappointing excursion.
During the many sea days, we went to a dance lesson or two, which were fun and well-taught, saw a couple of the evening movies by the pool (great fun), but largely read and relaxed. We made good use of our balcony. The Concierge Club was small and sometimes crowded (especially for Happy Hour) but often was deserted or nearly so, making it a cozy spot for a cup of tea, continental breakfast, or pre-dinner drinks.
Entertainment was, for us, somewhat "meh." We enjoyed The Aussie Boys and the magicians, and the singers and dancers were good, though the shows weren't as good as others we've seen. We did enjoy the skating shows - very talented skaters.
One of the absolute highlights of the cruise was receiving an invitation to the Captain’s Table for dinner with 4 other couples. We were completely astonished. We’d seen most of the other couples in the Concierge Club, and really hit it off with most of them – completely delightful people. One couple was even from my home state, Massachusetts, and we had met them earlier at a suite cocktail party. Captain Pehrsson was a delight, interesting, funny, and put everyone at ease; he also spoke of his love for Cape Cod, one of our favorite places, which reminded him of parts of Sweden. It was a wonderful evening.
Disembarkation in Singapore was easy, as we were escorted off the ship with other suite guests. Luggage was waiting, and our cruise was over. We stayed 2 days in Singapore, which we loved, despite the humidity. It was a terrific two weeks, and we would love to get back to Australia. Read Less