We chose this ship after reading reviews and after seeing the ship docked in Wellington when in holiday in NZ three years ago. We could have picked up a cruise in Brisbane but we chose to fly down to Sydney as we thought the ship would be worth a special effort. We have two teenage children and were looking for a cruise that catered primarily for the adults, without ignoring the kids completely.
Embarkation was efficient and took about 45 minutes.The ship has been recently been refurbished and looked almost new.
Our cabins (or stateroom as they prefer to call them) were clean with everything in working order. Our stateroom attendant, Michael was well liked by us all. He was always asking me if there was something he could do for us.
Leaving from Sydney was certainly spectacular and was probably worth the flight down alone.
It was school holidays but we were surprised at how many kids were on board. The ship has kids clubs and pools but no other gimmicks such as ice-rinks or climbing walls that other big ships now have. It seems that plenty of other parents thought the same as we did, and the number of kids gave the cruise a younger feel, which we liked.
There are plenty of dining options and food served seemingly at all hours. The Oceanview Cafe is a large buffet which a large variety of food options. This was so popular at mealtimes and it was sometimes hard to find a seat, especially at around 2pm on shore days. Despite the wide range of food, constantly replenished, we still heard of people complaining at what they regarded as the lack of choice. You'll find whingers wherever you go.
Most nights we had our evening meal at the Main Dining Room. The quality of food was very good and portion sizes here were more sensible than the buffet where you are inclined to load up your plate as everything looks so appetising. Having said that, we never said no to dessert. Service here was friendly and efficient - our serving staff Edward and Eddy were great and the kids just loved them. We had a 6pm sitting and were usually served our three courses by 7.15 - just time for a drink or two before the 9pm show.
There were bars all over the ship that each offered their own vibe. We tried them all! Highlights included sipping drinks in the early evening at the Sunset Bar at the blunt end of the ship (stern) while the talented Michael sang and played guitar to us and about ten others - it was like a private show - and the Martini bar which become another favourite after we upgraded our 'Classic' drinks package to 'Premium' halfway through the cruise.
One constant grumble we heard from other passengers was the poor attitude of some of the bar staff at certain very busy bars. There was some merit in this, but unlike normal bars where people are primarily ordering beer and wine, on board most people are ordering cocktails which slows down the whole process and put the staff under more pressure. Celebrity try to ease this pressure by having trolleys loaded with beer and wines wheeled around the pool decks during the day - but the poolside and sunset bars remained particularly busy.
We thought the quality of live music throughout the ship was excellent. The lighting and sound quality in the theatre was of the highest standard. The ship's band were top notch. Some of the entertainers weren't to everyone's taste, including ours, but we were prepared to sit for 45 minutes and clap someone trying their hardest to entertain, while others were just plain rude and walked out. The singers, dancers and acrobats from the ship's production crew put on four top quality shows - ROCK and BROKEN STRINGS were favourites - and 45 minutes weren't enough (but hey, they were doing two shows a night!) The cruise director Ben was from Australia and his dry sense of humour was appreciated by the predominantly Australian audience. His talk about his time at Australian Zoo with Steve Irwin drew a large crowd in the theatre and was well received.
Captain Tasos is a pretty funny man for someone with such great responsibility. He gave a talk on the building of the ship to a packed theatre of over 1000 people and had the audience in stitches. The cheer he received when he entered the pool for the officers versus passengers pool volleyball game was a fair indication of the respect he had quickly gained from his guests.
The ship was always being cleaned and handrails were constantly wiped down. Everyone entering a dining area was offered hand sanitiser. I must give a special mention to the cleaners who were constantly stationed in the ship's public toilets. Although they didn't have the highest of positions on the ship, they obviously took pride in their work and they kept their toilets spotless.
Was everything perfect - no, but's that's life. Were some staff a bit rude? Yes, but most were friendly and efficient. Some things were overpriced - $250 for a weeks internet seemed pricey but then again, it is a ship in the middle of the ocean! And besides, it meant we saw our daughter's face for the first time in ages - and not just the top of her head as she constantly sends texts and Facebook posts .
Maybe as first time cruisers we are a bit naive, but if you go on this ship with a positive attitude and treat the staff with respect and not as your servants, you will have an enjoyable experience - and avoid the whingers!
Not a very interesting or attractive place
Great place - like the Blue Lagoon - until a thousand of us tourist turned up! Beware of the sea snakes.