Our group of friends found a good deal for a cruise and not many of us had been on one before so we took a shot at it. We found the rooms to be quite small but very clean and comfortable. Everything looked great at the start - the ship was pretty, seemed to be well kept/maintained, there seemed to be a large selection of food and activities.
I'll start with the pros:
The cruise offered free shows and entertainment every night. These were absolutely fantastic - singing, dancing, comedy - the production value was great and I thoroughly enjoyed all of them. The entertainers are incredibly talented and the sets and music were beautiful and I highly recommend going to see every show. Apart from the set shows, the live music in the different lounges/public areas was nice. A lot of the activities we were interested in had to be paid for so we didn't do those, except for one show "Love Riot" which was decent.
The service on the cruise is stellar - our room stewardess was incredibly kind and helpful, as were all the waiters/waitresses and servers at the restaurants and "the Pantry". They seemed incredibly hard working and underpaid, and were the friendliest people I encountered on the cruise.
The ship itself looked nice. As previously mentioned it was clean, well-kept and maintained. Pleasing enough to look at and comfortable enough to hang out in with friends. The rooms were clean, the beds were comfortable and room service was lovely.
There are two waterslides on the cruise that were also quite fun. Didn't have to wait long to use them and they were a good length.
We visited Moreton island and booked a Snorkelling Tour which was incredible. Definitely recommend that and keen to go snorkelling again.
Very quick and easy to replace your cruise card if you lose it. Visit reception, tell them your room number and name, and they print a new one within the minute. Surprisingly no fee either.
Where to begin? Each of us purchased an additional $30 package that led us to believe we would EACH get $50 of on-board credit to spend on the cruise how we liked. That was a lie. We received "$50 of cabin credit". With 2-4 of us in a room, we collectively spent an extra $420 to only receive $200 of "on board" credit. Absolutely ripped off. We spoke to reception about it multiple times to see if it was a mix up, only to be turned away and once even told "the system is down". Fees everywhere, some of them very sneaky and hidden. Large bottles of water in our room which were not free, bathrobe and slippers which were not free, everyone was automatically charged a "$1 donation" which we were not told about (only found out once we checked our accounts).
The food is terrible. The main food area (The Pantry) is a cafeteria-style buffet which looked great upon first impression with a wide variety of food. Everything is set up in different sections of cuisine and set out very nicely. That's where the good impressions end though - most of the food was dry, bland and flavourless. Each night we visited a restaurant that required a reservation (The Waterfront, Dragon Lady and Angelo's) and most of the food was disappointing save for a few dishes. Despite the terrible food at The Pantry, we had some hopes for the restaurants only to be disappointed each night. The Waterfront was the best of the three - particularly the "casserole" dish entree which was really good. All the best food on the cruise had to be paid for separately - our group regularly visited Luke's for burgers and fries, and the pizzeria.
Not much to do at night and strange rules. Granted, there are parties almost every night however I am not a big party person and prefer quiet nights. Attempted to play ping-pong on the first night only to be told that the ping-pong tables "close at 5pm" (??????). It's not even dark by 5pm - an Australian sunset in December is at 8pm. Pools also close early so no chance for a night swim. On the last night, three friends and I found a quiet area to sit down and talk, only to be told to move to the main outdoor deck. This is more a stab at the other cruise passengers than the cruise itself, but the people there were very loud and rowdy, smoked so much (I was coughing the entire time) and even destroying property - I witnessed people punching down and kicking signs with no consequence. We felt insulted to be told off for talking in a quiet space and then witnessing this idiotic behaviour without a peep from the crew, and eventually decided to retire to a cabin.
There is very little mobile reception/service on the cruise (you could buy wifi packages that were pricey). The ship had it's own free wifi where you could access a website to talk with other people on the cruise. This was a nice feature to include however the website design is terrible. Incredibly slow and clunky, I couldn't even read all of my messages because I had so much trouble scrolling up conversations. Terrible UI and design.
I'll end the review here. I had a decent time because of the people I was with and the pros I mentioned, however I will not be recommending this cruise to anyone. The cons heavily outweigh the pros and I have a sour taste in my mouth from this experience. I guess that's what you get on a "cheap" cruise. At least I got some cute photos.
Snorkelling was an amazing experience, very relaxing and loved every bit of it.