We went in to this cruise expecting to be impressed. Everyone I know who has been on a cruise has loved it, raved about it, told me "you'll LOVE it - once you cruise you never go back!" And many people are repeat cruisers, so I was expecting it to be pretty enjoyable. Well....it was OK. I mean, it was better than being at work. However it was pretty massively disappointing as well. The ship itself was pretty dated. Our cabin (4007) wasn't awful, it was spacious enough, but the bathtub was grotty and full of mold, the fixtures all seemed a bit cheap and like they had lived a hard life. The bed was reasonably comfortable.
The food was a massive disappointment. The Pantry was just gross - the food was cold and inedible 90% for the time, and it was like feeding time at the zoo - just a herd of bodies trying to ram as much food in to themselves as possible. We preferred the Waterfront, which had table service and was a generally nicer atmosphere, but the food here was extremely disappointing as well, generally tasteless and often cold, with very few options. My kids hated the children's choices as well, with the gruel-like "kid's favourite soup" and other strange choices. Kids like chicken nuggets and chips, standard sandwiches, pizza....these shoudl be standard, consistent options. We tried Angelo's one night and were hugely disappointed here as well. The chef seems to think Heinz tomato sauce is a pasta sauce, as it seemed to feature heavily in the pasta bolognese and lasagna. We cancelled our second booking. We tried Dragon Lady once. The grilled trout available one night was amazing. Everything else was again, cold, weird and barely edible. It was like they were trying too hard to make the meals interesting and exotic, but they missed the mark wildly, and we would have been far happier with standard Asian fare actually done well. Service was OK in all restaurants. Not great. Not terrible. A bit slow, but not like we had anywhere to go. The best food we had were the pizza's at The Grill that had to be purchased. They were pretty cheap, but felt like a bit of a rip off given it was meant to be all inclusive.
The ports were were interesting, although we were MASSIVELY disappointed that the volcano tour in Rabaul didn't actually go up (or anywhere near) the volcano. We stayed on shore as long as possible at each port to feel like we were actually traveling.
The evening entertainment, bars etc weren't bad, but got old quickly. As my husband said "it's like being on a floating Wests club". The pool was pretty tiny, but ok. The Dolphin statues seemed like a pointless decoration given they were draped in signs saying "Do not enter this area".
The cocktails were pretty tasty by and large.
My kids loved the kids club, and here I would give them 5 stars - the kid's staff were amazing, and they had a ball making new friends and going to all the kids' events.
All in all - pretty sure we aren't "cruise" people after this, and I tend to think that the people who are (if this was all standard) have very low expectations.
Meh. Bit worn out and dingy, bathtub rusty and mouldy, but reasonably spacious and was kept clean.
Felt like we were being herded in to a tourist trap. Not so much a "festival" as just some market stalls and dancers contrived for tourists.View All 26 Alotau Cultural Festival Reviews
Rabaul town is small, extremely hot, and not a lot to see, but lots of locals selling their wares if you are interested in shopping. The tour was relatively interesting, it was nice to drive around the area and see a couple of things, but we were very disappointed that we didn't get to walk up the volcano - or even go particularly close to it. Apparently tours organised with locals will do so.View All 9 Rabaul Volcanic Tour Reviews
Loved Kiriwina. Beautiful island, lovely people, amazing cultural experience due to it being their independence day while we were there, so lots of authentic celebrations and dances. Beautiful wood art to buy and fantastic snorkeling right off the beach.
Beautiful island with amazing snorkeling right off the beach. No local population and owned by an Aussie. Food and drink was expensive, as were the few things available for purchase, so we pretty much just wandered around and enjoyed the beach and water for as long as we were allowed to stay.