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68 Transpacific Repositioning Cruise Reviews

We booked this cruise for the itinerary - and the fact we could do back to back all the way to Sydney. We had a balcony cabin - number 9644 in this case It was perfectly fine but since the ship was in dry dock, the cabin has changed ... Read More
We booked this cruise for the itinerary - and the fact we could do back to back all the way to Sydney. We had a balcony cabin - number 9644 in this case It was perfectly fine but since the ship was in dry dock, the cabin has changed slightly in that only one side of the bed has a cabinet. This was a little awkward and I don't really understand why they did this. The storage was adequate with plenty of room under the bed for a hard body suitcase on each side and also the hand luggage trolley cases fit too. The bathroom was fine - my criteria of trying to not book cruises with shower curtains was fully met and so I was happy with that. Embarkation was perfectly fine with a small amount of queueing. We noticed that, if you have a disability of any kind, there was a separate area with seating so that is a "mind at rest" thing for some people. We were allowed into our cabins after a fairly short wait and the luggage arrived pretty quickly so that we could unpack and explore before attending the drill. We didn't have a dining package on this cruise and so used the main rooms and Chin Chin (our favourite because the service is just so much better than the other places, even though the menu is more limited). We also ate a couple of times in O'Sheehans, especially after getting back on the ship after a hard day's exploring. We did have some complaints including the ubiquitous "over-cooked fish" - I just don't get why, when you send it back, it comes back nearly every time perfectly cooked, they don't just do it that way the first time around. Its such a waste of food, but it was completely inedible on a number of occasions. I was also served some frozen potatoes which sort of explains the fish as they must pre-cook and freeze a lot of the dishes. I suppose that's fine for most things, after all it is mass-catering, but they need to work on it. We had attended the meet and greet and so had received the card with the phone numbers on. We used them and things improved a little, along with a little complimentary Sushi to apologise, which was very nice and unexpected. The ship had a lot of new crew on board and it was especially noticeable in Tsar's Palace dining room. They have to be trained, of course, but maybe don't put all of the new staff in the same place! Azura was better and the staff in there were much more upbeat and good at service. There were good staff in Tsar's Palace but, on this occasion, the atmosphere could be strained at times whereas the other venues didnt have that vibe. I'm sure it is temporary and will be back to normal once the staff find their feet. The shows were outstanding, as usual. In particular we loved Rock you Tonight, Anna and Vlad, Le Cirque Bijou and Velvet. The other shows were good, just these were great. The Tap Pack could become a favourite in time. The comedians and hypnotists were not to my taste but others enjoyed them. Overall the entertainment staff do a great job. A shout out to Dexter for the dance classes on sea days. We had a lot of sea days on this leg and so the enrichment programmes become important, especially when you have 2 or 3 days of not so good weather. We enjoyed the talks on Polynesian Art and the navigation and Atoll talks. We didn't ever use the pool or the sun loungers but I didn't hear any complaints. (I'm too pale to sit in that sort of sun unfortunately but I did enjoy sitting on my balcony in the shade and watching out for sea life - the pacific is so vast that we didn't see a single other ship on the 5 days at sea, only a couple of flying fish and one pod of dolphins but hey the colours of the sea and just the peace was great). We embarked in Oahu and had spent a couple of days beforehand exploring with friends who had hired a car. I can highly recommend a visit to Pearl Harbour and some shopping in Honolulu - there are some great deals to be had if you search them out! The Hawaii Islands were a great place to have some really good days out, Volcanos, Blow Holes, Mountains, Views, Beaches, Waterfalls - whatever you like you will find it. My own highlight was the sailaway from Nawiliwili and viewing the Napali Coast from the deck of the ship. What an awesome place. However, that wasn't the only highlight. I think my favourite was Kauai Island but its truly hard to chose. I don't know what excursions were on offer specifically from the ship but the usual comment about the price is in order. It cost us $280 over the full four islands for four of us - including hiring a car, petrol, entrance fees to whatever we wanted to see and some drinks - including coffees in McDs for the free wifi. That was $140 per couple. As far as I could see $140 per person per day was the average cost of the excursions in each port - just not good value for money at all. This needs to be fixed by the company. Nuku Hiva was pretty special - we had a beach day but there were other things to do. We didn't book any ships excursions on this leg of the trip and were certainly glad as they are completely overpriced. You can book on the dockside for around a third of the price and better if you have a large group as you have bargaining power. Mo'orea - booked a lagoon sailing with sharks and stingrays - utterly beautiful although I didn't swim with the sharks! Despite what was being claimed, I had read that three weeks earlier, in the exact same reefs, a woman had her hands and boobs eaten by a shark. While the people in the boats keep feeding them and the stingrays, they will continue to be a danger to human beings. After the tour we had a good wander and found a local beer (delicious). Raiatea - again booked a tour at the harbour and visited Marae Taputapuatea which was very spiritual. Pearls, Vanilla, Volcanic Craters, Rivers that are the sea as well. We saw children having swimming lessons with the fish around them. I think this was my favourite place of the whole trip but I loved it all tbh. Bora Bora - again got off the tender boat (which was always easy and there were few queues except first thing in the morning. We visited this port twice on the back to back so on this visit we did a land tour and met the delightful Delores (who used to be in the tank regiment just outside of Paris). We visited Bloody Mary's bar but didn't have a drink - although you could. I took the advice of friends and stayed off the beach area there as it is renowned for people being bitten by sand flies. The visit to the place where they hand make the Pareau ended in my purse being lightened as I couldn't resist one of the dresses they were selling. The views all around the island are stunning. We did a lagoon tour on the next visit so I shall cover that in my next review. Pape'ete Tahiti. - Not my favourite place of the tour but that may have been coloured by the poor showing on the tour we booked dockside. I'm not sure that any of the others, including the ships tours, were any better - I didn't hear anyone praising the place but it was still nice to see the island. This was the end of this part of the cruise and was disembarkation day. We had to change cabins and it was chaotic due to the card printing machine not working properly. I'm not sure why the crew couldn't have delivered the new key cards to the cabins as there was no checking of ID etc. It resulted in huge queues at the guest services desk where they were having to reprint nearly all of the cards as none of them seemed to work on board (although they did work so that you could get on and off the ship). There must be a better way and it will be interesting to see if it was any better in Sydney as there were quite a number of guests staying on until Auckland. There was very little wifi to be had once you left the accessibility of McD's or Starbucks in Hawaii. Bora Bora - there was a cafe not far from the port where you could pay $5 for 30 minutes but it was very slow. There was free wifi in the tourist information centre but it hardly ever worked. Pape'ete - there was good wifi in a cafe near the port, you just had to buy a drink and also there was free wifi in the tourist information centre, but I dont know if it was fast or not. If you can afford it I would upgrade your wifi packages on the ship if you need to be in contact with home for whatever reason. Nuku Hiva had wifi in the cafe on the port - free as long as you bought food - I'm not sure that anyone on a cruise needs to eat food in a port - but crack on if you can manage it. It certainly smelled good! We loved the cruise. Being from the UK, it means that these places are normally too far away so this was an ideal opportunity. We found the sea days fine, although the sea day in between Nuku Hiva and Mo'orea was a killer for us - nothing wrong with the ships entertainment, it was just a perception that this was definitely the longest day. We crossed the equator during this trip and they did the ceremony! We got wrapped in togas (bed sheets!) King Neptune granted us safe passage as long as we kissed the (most disgusting) fish and then submitted to a glug of slime. It was great fun although in 85% humidity the togas were a little on the warm side! We didn't have any children with us but there were some on the cruise. They genuinely seemed to having a great time - even the "too cool for school" teenagers! We hardly ever saw or heard them during the sea days which usually means there is plenty to do to keep them out of trouble and harms way. The Jewel is a lovely ship with some seriously nice crew who go out of their way to try to make sure you have a good time. The food is my only bug bear but it never is bad enough to spoil my adventures. I would go back no problem at all - where is that lottery ticket! Read Less
Sail Date November 2019
As my husband had just retired it was time for us to try a longer cruise and The Splendour Journey Cruise of 24 days looked perfect. After a bit of a problem getting onto the ship (3 hour wait) due to technical issues with collecting ... Read More
As my husband had just retired it was time for us to try a longer cruise and The Splendour Journey Cruise of 24 days looked perfect. After a bit of a problem getting onto the ship (3 hour wait) due to technical issues with collecting passports and other paperwork, we were onboard. Our cabin was an inside on deck 6 midships. It was a nice size and had plenty of wardrobe and drawer space. It has an un stocked fridge which was very handy for the sodas and water we brought on board. The shower was adequate but has a curtain, the sort that grabs you during the shower for a slow dance! There are shower gel and shampoo dispensers in the cubicle. We had a problem with the 2 single beds which had been pushed together to make a double bed, on previous lines the mattresses had been zipped together but not on Splendor I woke a couple of times almost down the hole in the middle of the bed. This ship has unusual décor she is all pink and pearls. I loved it I felt like I was in a mermaid's palace. A lot of people were hoping she was going to be changed in the dry dock she is undergoing as I type. But no she is staying pretty in pink I am glad to say. The sailing was very smooth the whole journey, no sun shone for us we had many cooling showers but it was a welcome distraction from the searing heat and 80% plus humidity. We spent our sea days mostly on serenity deck where there are lovely padded sunbeds and cabanas. There is a bar from 10 til dusk. It was a great place for reading the only interruptions were the bean bag toss and mini golf competitions on the deck above, but it was nice to hear people having fun. I let Carnival know in advance that I have a dairy allergy, tried to see the Maître'd on boarding but due to the tech problems it was late and not possible. It was a bit hit and miss at first. I was given the menu the evening before to make my choices. A great idea in practice but when the chef deemed my choices were not available to be made dairy free he often did not send a substitute. Meaning my husbands 's meal was either over or cold by the time my meal arrived. We hit a few bumps in the road when I was served such boring food I ended up in tears. After a good talk to the Maître'd and Sheena the diet coordinator things did improve. I had some lovely meals and the chef's choice deserts were great. I had soya custard with fruit, fruit crumbles, cakes, sorbet, and of course the dairy free Carnival Melting cake which was delightful. I was disappointed that there were no soya yogurts at breakfast but the chef did make some lovely pancakes for me. If you order chef's choice for breakfast you will get dairy free oatmeal with nuts and fruit, avocado on toast with or without poached eggs. and often pancakes too. The cruise director was Lee Mason (good morning Carnival Splendor Family this is Lee your cruise director) he is amazing, the best one yet. He is so hard working and always makes time to chat to passengers. The captain called him a Duracell bunny as he never stops. He even got the chance to shout out - Good Morning Vietnam in memory of Robin Williams and our many veterans of that war who were on board. We had a military appreciation service on the morning we arrived in Vietnam for all service veterans. We were entertained day and night always plenty to do, which was important on such a long cruise. The viva variety acts were great magicians, jugglers, singers trumpet players. Ventriloquists, the list goes on. The shows were amazing we had shows in the afternoon as well as the evening. We even had a first time show with our pianist putting on a full tribute show to Elton John the place was packed and the show was amazing. The staff from Thailand and Bali put on shows in the afternoon also showing off their talents with their national dances. The staff from top to bottom of the ship were fantastic, nothing was ever too much trouble. From guest services to the dining room smiles and great service. Sevorina greeted us with a wave and a smile each evening and found us a lovely window seat most days. Apple and Sheena recovered my order and escorted us to our seats, we had anytime dining. Our main waiters was Iwayan, but we had many more who looked after us so well. I must mention Jeffrey who when I ordered a steak sandwich at lunch and was told I couldn't have it due to the sauce, went back up to the chef and insisted I got my sandwich. I did and it was delicious with a dairy free sauce. We booked 2 of our our trips with another passenger called Theresa this was for Kota Kinabalu in Borneo and Vietnam. Both trips were amazing. I would certainly do it again. In Honalulu we took a trip with a local from the port building and got great value for money, we saw a lot of the Island and got some shopping time in Waikiki too. In Guam we just pottered around the town after taking the free shuttle bus. We were greeted by 3 beauty queens in Guam who presented us with shell Lai's. Such a treat. When we sailed into Singapore it was with a heavy heart that we debarked. We self debarked and was off the ship by 7.30am. A very well organised team got the whole ship emptied by 10.30 so she could sail off to her dry dock. Thankyou Erica and team. Would I sail with Carnival again? Yes it is different but in a good way. We had a great Captain he was around chatting at some point in each day. We had a great cruise director in Lee and his Boss Erica worked hard getting everything organised for us pre sailing. So it is a definite yes. Would I choose a longer cruise again 24days plus? YES I would it went by in a flash and I did not want it to end. Read Less
Sail Date October 2019
This cruise was a good price and left Vancouver which is is close to where we live in Edmonton. We always wanted to see Tahiti, New Zealand and Australia. This cruise was nice because a previous cruise did not allow us to see Victoria ... Read More
This cruise was a good price and left Vancouver which is is close to where we live in Edmonton. We always wanted to see Tahiti, New Zealand and Australia. This cruise was nice because a previous cruise did not allow us to see Victoria because of the rain and wind. Emarkation was effortless. If only service on land was this smooth. We had fabulous weather and calm seas throughout. San Francisco was warm enough and we saw Sausalito as well as Alcatraz. Alcatraz is not to be missed. On to Hilo and Honolulu. Didn't take excursions because we have been there before. Walked and took the shuttle to various venues. Sometimes you see more just by walking than just driving around. Bora Bora is small but beautiful and rural. Refreshing to see that. Walked around and saw how the locals live. Tahiti was very beautiful and Papeete much larger and more of a modern city. Moorea, a ferry boat away, is even more beautiful. American Samoa was very lovely and the people are incredibly friendly. We were like rock stars! The Samoans are not to be fooled with. They are huge and what they eat in a day is what I would eat in 3. Interestingly, they are US citizens but can't vote. Auckland was fabulous. What a clean, well run city. No thugs downtown that I saw. Well dressed, well behaved, extremely friendly, happy. Loved it. Nice, as Canadians to have another currency worth less than the Canadian dollar. The cruise ended in Auckland but we flew to Brisbane and enjoyed that city very much as well. Another very beautiful and well run city. Clean and scenic. Golden Princess. One of the "shopping cart" ships because of Skywalkers Lounge. Ship shows very well for her age. She was refurbished in April 2018 and was up to snuff. The ship is sold to P & O cruises in April 2020. Our cabin was an MB mini suite. Love the extra room, sofa, 2 tvs, and the bathtub. On a longer cruise was so nice to have the extra space for storage and lounging. The bathtub makes the bathroom larger and gives more space for everything. We each get a nice glass of champagne on departure. Because we are Elite, and because techincally it is 2 cruises, we got the 2 mini bar setups, the 650 free internet minutes, and free laundry. Great perks on a long 23 day cruise. We had the late sitting for dinner. Best waiter, assistant waiter, and head waiter of all my cruises. Chris the waiter, Nathaniel the assistant and Constantin the head waiter. Superb service and timing. They always remembered the little things, lemon in the water, the buns with the seeds, our names, and so attentive. Top notch in any restaurant in the world. Entertainment was the best we have ever had and the cruise director and his assistants were great. Funny, witty, smooth, professional, and excellent. Service was great. The odd time the romm service in the morning forgot the odd item but nothing to complain about. They were so pleasant. Met some great people on the ship. Always meet new friends and enjoy life's memories. Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
An outstanding cruise which combines a repositioning with multi country/culture adventure. Seeing Alaska, Russia and Japan all while gaining extra sleep every other day made this relaxing. This ship (like all the Viking cruise ship) is as ... Read More
An outstanding cruise which combines a repositioning with multi country/culture adventure. Seeing Alaska, Russia and Japan all while gaining extra sleep every other day made this relaxing. This ship (like all the Viking cruise ship) is as near perfect as you can get. Comfort, food, service, public spaces, what’s included and what’s not ( no casino, kids, photos, auctions, crowds, etc) makes it a top cruise line. The entertainment was very good and varied as they pick-up up new entertainers all along the 22 days. But the talks were the best. Especially the NASA mission specialist / astronaut who took 5 trips into earth orbit and worked on the Hubble telescope. The planetarium was a nice change but needs better shows. Specialty restaurants were outstanding. We ate there many times but also loved the dining room. There were many nationalities represented on the cruise with the majority being Australians the Americans. Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
I have always wanted to go to Alaska and my husband wanted to go to Japan, so on this cruise we got to do a bit of both! Boarded in Yokohama Japan. We stayed at Sotetsu Fresca Inn Sakuragi-cho in Yokohama. This was fine and we were able ... Read More
I have always wanted to go to Alaska and my husband wanted to go to Japan, so on this cruise we got to do a bit of both! Boarded in Yokohama Japan. We stayed at Sotetsu Fresca Inn Sakuragi-cho in Yokohama. This was fine and we were able to walk to the port from here - although was a good 25 minute walk. Embarkation was a little unorganised and long, but we were also quite early! Once on board, everything was easy. We mainly ate breakfast in buffet, and this was good. Sometimes had to walk around a bit to find a seat, but no major trouble. Plenty of selection and options, although it is amazing how after two weeks you still get a little bored with whats on offer! My bad! For lunch we ate in various restaurants, we gave all the complimentary ones a go! Menu didn't change much for lunch tho. Really enjoyed O'Sheehans for lunch - their fajitas and burgers were great, better than the ones at Tsars! Massive selection at buffet for lunch and options changed daily. Nice steaks out by the pool at Topsiders Grill - although this area was closed on cold wet days. For dinner we always went to either Tsars or Azura. Same menu in both, but just different atmosphere and decor. The waiters were amazing in these restaurants. Also loved Alvin who did the table allocation at Tsars, he was great with names and very welcoming. The food was very very good. Not amazing, but very very good considering the volume they are producing for. The ship production crew shows were amazing, especially the cirque inspired one!! Other shows were entertaining, some better than others. The nice guy giving the lectures each day was very good, but a little too indepth on certain things for me! We enjoyed all our cruise port stops. Alaska was amazing!! One bit of advice for cruises that go to Petropavlovsk in Russia. Although the ship berthed at 5am and some 30-40 russian immigration guys were expected to arrive soon after to do immigration checks for all passengers. It was 11.30 before our deck 5 was able to disembark. This meant that we missed our privately organised and prepaid tour. The various decks were allowed to retrieve their passports and depart according to deck, commencing from ship excursion passengers, haven passengers, deck 11, deck 10, deck 9 etc. down to deck 4, all with allocation times approx 30 mins apart. If we had been on deck 11 we would probably have got off about 9.30, but deck 5 was second last. If visiting this port would be better to do a ship excursion (something I rarely do!) or select a cabin on a high deck! Although we missed our excursion (the tour company did wait over an hour for us, but then had to go as had others with them), we were able to walk off the ship and into town ourselves for a look around. Was about a 10 minute walk. The ship had said that we would require to buy an $8 shuttle ticket, but this was not necessary. No one even checked us to see if we had a rebooked excursion or shuttle ticket. Spas were lovely and hot and the pools were heated too. We loved spending time upstairs in the Spinnaker Lounge. This was a lovely quiet spot with comfy lounges and great views!! There are also some little computer screens at front of some bars/restaurants that you can take a selfie photo of yourself and send a brief message via email back home - handy to let loved ones know how you are going! We had the free internet package and our 250 hours were rationed amongst the sea days and worked fine. We never did work out how to do the phone package to call our kids on their mobiles tho! Drinks package was great, it was included which was good, because we probably only drank 2 or 3 drinks a day which was more than normal!, but not enough to justify buying a package! Loved the manager, think his name was Steven Jacobson, very friendly and helpful. Also loved the cruise director Dan. There was enough entertainment around the ships, although there were still times where we didn't know what to do, but thats the time to grab a good book! Easy disembark, just did it ourselves and walked straight off! Read Less
Sail Date May 2019
We took this cruise as a gentle way to go home to Canada from Japan. (We had done an around Japan cruise with Windstar beforehand) It was very enjoyable, food great, staff lovely, entertainment good. There were alot of sea days ... Read More
We took this cruise as a gentle way to go home to Canada from Japan. (We had done an around Japan cruise with Windstar beforehand) It was very enjoyable, food great, staff lovely, entertainment good. There were alot of sea days together but we got a routine of trivias, podium talks, hot tubs and eating in the day as the weather was too cold to be out on deck much or in the swimming pool. The speakers were entertaining, one gave talks on major trials. Another did Buddhism history and meditation and a third did varied talks from Rasputin to dog behaviour. The afternoon progressive trivia was fun if you had got a team together. It wasnt too rough so seasickness wasnt an issue either. We did have to change our clocks forward about 6 separate times to be on Vancouver time by arrival butbetter than getting full jetlag. So repositioing was worth doing, although the stop in Russia was a waste of time except to stretch your legs! Read Less
Sail Date April 2019
We have completed 13 Regent cruises (with 222 nights), and was surprised with a poor review on Cruise Critic from one couple. We were on that same Regent Mariner cruise and had none of the 'problems' described--we adapted ... Read More
We have completed 13 Regent cruises (with 222 nights), and was surprised with a poor review on Cruise Critic from one couple. We were on that same Regent Mariner cruise and had none of the 'problems' described--we adapted to changes that we could not control. Both Regent and we could not control the weather. First--If they did not like their multi-hour air-schedule, it can be changed. We were scheduled on an overnight flight from Vancouver to NYC but we changed it to an early afternoon flight that got us home. Regent’s initial late-day flight selection gave guests the opportunity to take a tour of Vancouver! Ask, and Regent changes the air flights--yes it cost a little money, but we are Platinum level, and one flight schedule change was allowed. Second—This was a relocation cruise--we expected multiple days at sea. We were scheduled to have 5-days-at-sea, and we had 6-days-at-sea, when we bypassed the Russian port. There were wonderful lectures by Hugh Neighbour and Karen Dodd. There were extra social events added to entertain the guests. If you were bored, that was your fault. Third--YES, we skipped the Russian port. Their comment that “ALL OF THE GUESTS WERE UPSET” is very unfair and UNTRUE. There were 50-knot winds over the deck--added to the forward speed of the Mariner, it gives a 75mph deck wind. The decks were closed for outside walking. My wife and I exercised by walking the interior walkways on various decks. There were 23 feet swells. We had very wet and salt encrusted balcony windows, which were cleaned at the next port. I enclosed two photos of the TV screen in our suite showing these numbers. The Mariner has stabilizers, I knew of no one who was sick from mal de mer. The captain/master changed the direction (and avoided the worst of the storm). I saw him at the Coffee Connection, and thanked him, for consideration of the safety of the guests. After his direction changes, we then had MUCH weaker winds, and less than six feet swell. [I BELIEVE that the Mariner was originally scheduled to use their tenders to transport the guests to and from shore at the Russian port. With a pitching sea, it could be a human disaster! On two previous Regent cruises (Amalfi coast, Italy and Galle, Sri Lanka), the Captain declared that the sea was too rough to have guests enter the tenders and we skipped the port!] Fourth--We had great weather on all Alaskan ports; but it rained at Ketchikan, as usual. We did not see the Hubbard Glacier because there was very dense fog. Many guests, including me, stood on the top deck and got wet from the weather. Regent did supply snacks and hot coffee for those awaiting a breeze to dissipate the fog. After about an hour of only seeing sea-ice, the Mariner left Yakutat Bay. The weather then was fine, at distance of about 10-miles where some wind, and a change in air-temperature resulted in no fog and a blue-sky. When the ship was docked in any Alaska port, we often sat outside in the sun on the pool deck for lunch and enjoyed the snow covered mountains, numerous playful otters, eagles, (once saw some orcas playing by our ship), and had another great meal. I know of no one who used the pool, but the hot tubs were used by some. I really cannot understand such a negative review--but it was from one couple. We have three more Regent cruises booked, and look forward to the ship, food, staff, and meeting other well-traveled guests. It is a pleasure to be take care of by Regent. I would highly recommend cruising with Regent for those people who enjoy “joie de vie”. Read Less
Sail Date April 2019
we went on this cruise to celibate my wife's milestone birthday, was a little concerned about the amount of sea days but the ship had everything and more that made it all go too quick. Sailing out of Sydney we sailed to Tahiti ... Read More
we went on this cruise to celibate my wife's milestone birthday, was a little concerned about the amount of sea days but the ship had everything and more that made it all go too quick. Sailing out of Sydney we sailed to Tahiti which was nice just ask SIMON, but there was no Imperial Leather on board :)( Aussies of the right age bracket would get this in joke) then onto Moorea, then onto to Bora Bora ( best snorkeling on the planet in my opnion, then finally on to Honolulu, we missed Maui due to some inspections needed in Honolulu. The service was excellent through the ship although our cabin steward I think needed L plates for Suite service as he was not quite there. Cabin The Owners suite was very spacious and the beds were very comfortable , apparently no expense was spared on this ship when it was fitted out. Dining I was a little disappointed with the main dining room as it was originally designed for the Asian market and there was no Grand Dinning room across multiple levels like on other ships, just two separate dinning rooms which felt a little cramped. The Service was exceptional and the food was wonderful. Our favorite specialty dining was Jamie Oliver although the Wounderland was and experience within its self. Read Less
Sail Date April 2019
We chose this particular cruise as we both enjoy Sea days and the cruise experience. This particular cruise from Auckland to Vancouver had plenty of these with only six ports. Time seemed to fly by, with all the activities going on. ... Read More
We chose this particular cruise as we both enjoy Sea days and the cruise experience. This particular cruise from Auckland to Vancouver had plenty of these with only six ports. Time seemed to fly by, with all the activities going on. The crew and staff were friendly and welcoming. Activities were varied and plentiful should we wish to take part. And the food .well that was great! We chose often to go more casual dining in the horizon or indeed catch a movie and have pizza. But we also went formal to anytime dining, in the dining rooms available to us, whereby the waiters would be friendly and helpful. We had a back to back cruise so continued on to Alaska, we found that the leg from LA to Vancouver changed the dynamics of the passengers as many left in LA and others came on for a short cruise to Vancouver, then new people joint the ship for Alaska, which changed again, so this was a new experience for us. However, this did not deter from a great trip Read Less
Sail Date April 2019
If you want a ship with a casino, climbing wall, giant water slide, etc., ignore this review and Viking Oceans. If you seek a family cruise with you and your (non-adult) children, look elsewhere. If you like cruising with thinking people ... Read More
If you want a ship with a casino, climbing wall, giant water slide, etc., ignore this review and Viking Oceans. If you seek a family cruise with you and your (non-adult) children, look elsewhere. If you like cruising with thinking people and a remarkably intelligent, attentive crew visiting an itinerary of a lifetime on an impeccable, smallish ship, read on. We are just back from Viking’s Grand Pacific Explorer cruise that traced all around the Pacific, roughly following the Ring of Fire from New Zealand through Australia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, Korea, Russia (Siberia), across the Bering Sea, and down through Alaska to Vancouver. Portions of this 93-day itinerary were also available in smaller chunks of 15 to 23 days. As we came to realize, the guests on shorter legs were taking a cruise on the ship. We lived there. And it was fantastic. There were roughly two dozen of us who traveled the entire way and another fifteen or so who embarked in Sydney for 79 of the 93 days. All tolled, we traveled 19,919 nautical miles on the ship. Convert to statue miles and add on the air travel, and our adventure went far beyond the distance around the globe. What we learned: You can be happy on a Viking Oceans ship for a long time and still be happily married. Although our Penthouse Veranda was not the smallest stateroom, several of the Grand Voyagers were in the standard size (all veranda) staterooms, and there was at least one couple who survived and celebrated their 50th anniversary just afterward. The secret is the many varied public spaces on the ship. The Explorer’s Lounge is great 24/7, and you don’t have to order any booze to just sit and enjoy the view and read. Or converse in comfortable seating clusters. Add the quiet reading area in the deck 1 library, the exterior wings outside the Winter Garden, and various nooks and crannies. There is always somewhere to go. Crossing the equator and the International Dateline can be fun. Viking made sure we celebrated on both occasions. May 14 happened TWICE (thus 93 days, not 92)! The seas are never what you expect. Yes, the Tasman Sea can be “lively,” as can the Bass Strait above Tasmania, but even the Bering Sea is not necessarily going to be bad. If you count on good or bad seas, you won’t get them. It’ s pure luck. Siberia did kick up a ruckus for us for one day, but the Bering Sea was crazy calm! You will get to know the crew very, very well. They will bring you just about anything, anytime. Room service delivers ANYTHING on their menu for free anytime. Ask for the things you don’t see but crave. This applies to those on the ship for two short weeks or for three months. “Another latte, madame?” “A scone from tea in the Wintergarden?… sure I will get that for you.” The only cost is if you elect to drink alcohol from the bar. Those with the Silver Spirits package pay nothing. Others like us paid very reasonable prices with no added gratuities if we chose to drink. Of course, the minibar in our PV cabin had standard level booze and mixers of our choice, so we could always carry our own drinks to the lounge. If we had brought a bottle of our own on board-- no problem. They’ll even provide the glass and ice. No nickels. No dimes. There is a bar waiter, Ardel, who introduced me to an excellent formula for a top shelf margarita, now dubbed the “Ardel Margarita” by several of us who enjoyed it! The senior officers are incredible. Kudos to the general manager for most of our cruise, Joaquim Scherz, and to the restaurant manager Gerome Venon, for making our group of voyagers feel especially welcome and for preventing monotony from EVER setting in – as if that could happen with such a rich itinerary! Even the entertainment team added some new performances so we could enjoy the talents of two different Viking Bands who were onboard during our tenure and especially the excellent ensemble of four young Viking Vocalists Aoibhin, Jorgen, Dan, and Beth, whom we got to know quite well. (These four, by the way, were the first to be awarded a new contract by Viking to stay together on their next cruise in the Caribbean.) Kudos to cruise director Spencer who rose to the role on this, his first cruise in the position. When Viking says they are a family, they are serious. That includes the passengers. They know you. They figure you out within a few days, and they are all eager to make the cruise p-e-r-f-e-c-t. Your cabin steward knows when you are likely to be out and about or when you have an excursion scheduled. The ice is there every day on time. The things you store in you bathroom are arranged exactly as you like them. After a few days, people know your names. (The general manager told us he actually looks over each guest list in advance and learns names and scans for those he has met before.) We learned much about the way Viking hires, trains, and rotates its crew and senior officers. We boarded Viking Orion and saw crewmembers we had met four years ago on Viking Star, now promoted to higher positions and happy in “the family.” The family extends to all the ships. When the Viking Sky encountered rough seas off the coast of Norway (while we were in Australia), every crewmember on Viking Orion was paying attention, praying, and even helping to send a video to the crew of Viking Sky in support and thanks for all their efforts. Family goes both ways. We Voyagers truly got attached to Joaquim and gave him a Viking umbrella salute send-off as he departed for a well-earned vacation. There were tears. Viking is truly fortunate to have such amazing people, and Joaquim is one who has been with VO since its launch. If he has any say about it, the quality will not diminish as the company expands. We sincerely hope his influence will keep things as good as they are! Speaking of family, our group of “Voyagers” definitely became one. People who take Viking cruises are fascinating folks with endless interests and stories. When you meet new people at home, you may see them once a week or a couple of times a month. When you make new friends on a ship, you see each other as often as three meals a day plus an excursion. Yes, we could avoid seeing them, but we enjoyed getting to know each other—really well! We avoided talking politics -- which was a refreshing change for over 90 days! We compared notes about our days (what excursion did you take?), drank a LOT of free wine (opened and closed the World Café many times), and watched out for each other when someone was “solo” on an excursion. These friendships will last for sure. We learned about the tons and tons of food they bring on board and when. We noticed that the chef went into town to pick up a few things while we were out on excursions – but only if he can find provisions that met Viking’s strict quality and safety standards. Within a couple of days, the cook at the breakfast fruit and yogurt bar handed me a bowl as I walked in each day and several times kept a few strawberries aside when the stock was dwindling before the next provisioning. He found the plain Greek yogurt that I like if it is not out on display. He was genuinely apologetic when the strawberries ran out in Siberia! If it wasn’t perfect, all we had to do was ask. Just when I was muttering to myself that there weren’t any chocolate options on the desert bar in the World Café, one of the supervisors offered to go down and get a chocolate mousse from the sit-down Restaurant downstairs…. “And where are you sitting, madame?” Or if the buffet choices were not exactly what we wanted, the chef custom-prepared a strip steak (“Medium? Four minutes, please.”) and delivered it to our table, with a potato and sour cream if that was what we wanted. All this in the “buffet” style World Café, our favorite venue for every day. Manfredi’s, the Italian specialty restaurant, is a gem. People seem to figure this out quickly, so be sure to book reservations as soon as you can. Book before you embark, as we did or stop by the laptop at the entrance to the world café to add more or make changes. We also learned that they will make every effort to change your numbers as you meet people and want a larger table. (Thank you, Ian!) Yes, we also ate in the Chef’s Table, but after trying each of the (mostly delicious) menus, we found we preferred the less formal and more flexible options elsewhere. We aren’t “The Restaurant” type people, though many of our friends were and enjoyed it just as much as we enjoyed the free-ranging exploration of the world Café – the same food, but you can graze and get up from your table at will. (Just hide your fork…. They clear TOO quickly!) The only nights I personally did not enjoy as much were the Indian Buffet theme nights, but my husband loved them. I just ordered a strip steak and tasted a few other things. I made the suggestion that perhaps not EVERYTHING had to be Indian… like the weird gelato flavors. We learned SO MUCH. The itinerary was loaded with places we had always wanted to see, and Viking offered many ways to learn about each one. The guest lecturers were great, and word gets out about which ones are REALLY good. The naturalist in the north Pacific and Alaska, the historian in Southest Asia, the archaeologist in New Zealand, the reef pilot on the Great Barrier Reef, and many others were terrific. If they can keep you awake in a darkened theater on a gently rocking sea, they must be good! The video replays on demand in the cabins were a MUST to keep up with the many things to learn. What we saw: It is a challenge to summarize forty-seven ports, but there were recurring themes: wildlife, history, religions, World Heritage sites, gardens, wine/beer/whiskey. We chose to take many optional excursions, mostly because we don’t like touring on buses much. A bus to GET somewhere is fine. We tend to like walking tours better. When we compared notes with our fellow travelers, we learned that by skipping some of the included excursions, we missed some good stuff. Some of the descriptions did not make it clear just how much time would be spent on or OFF the bus. As my husband says, the descriptions are a bit like real estate ads. Example: “Enjoy a panoramic tour.” Translate: bus ride. As Viking continues in these ports, we are sure the excursions will be refined and the descriptions edited for a better match to what is actually there. In the first season of a new itinerary, this is tough. We took this cruise knowing that would happen. Our priorities for tours may not be yours. My husband is a photo buff—both wildlife and street scenes, and I tend to enjoy culture, art, crafts, and people. Sometimes we split up to see what we liked best. We did not need to stay together every day of a 93 day cruise! Don’t miss the onboard cultural visitors. There were local groups who came on board in several countries to perform music and dance. ALL were amazing. Sometimes we did not find out about them until the day before or the day of. READ the Viking Daily! Port/excursion highlights: (Unless otherwise stated, all excursions/tours were VIKING offerings) Everything in New Zealand. Lots of wildlife and Maori culture options. We especially enjoyed visiting a sheep farm outside Napier, a foodie tour I did in Wellington, a seal watch my husband did outside Wellington, and wildlife cruises outside Christchurch and Dunedin. Others went to interior locations such as the Hobbiton tour. This may not be the best way to see interior New Zealand. I wish I’d had more time at Rotorua at the native (Maori) center there. Australia: Hobart, Tasmania. This port is right in town and we wish we had stayed MUCH longer. Just walk off the ship, and you were in a pedestrian area filled with shops and history. (Think Viking River Cruises.) We took a tour outside of town and visited a winery and the charming town of Richmond. Wish we could have done BOTH. We’d like to go back to Tasmania. The koala and kangaroo sanctuary outside Melbourne. Unlike many “sanctuaries” where the animals are caged or restricted, this one has animals on their own in the wild and shows visitors how to find and follow them respectfully. No koala cuddling, but fantastic naturalists who teach and let you participate in finding the animals. Sydney: Did a pub crawl in The Rocks on a HOT day. Saw lots of local color: weddings, crazy young professionals out having fun, and of course the Opera House right at Circular Quay. Since Viking Orion is small enough to pass under the Harbor Bridge, we were docked a short shuttle FERRY ride from Circular Quay. This could have been a pain, but it’s much more fun than a shuttle bus! We had a day on our own while others disembarked and embarked. Viking did offer an excursion for the in-transit passengers, but we elected to spend time with some new friends from Sydney whom we “met” here on CC. (They joined our cruise later in Hong Kong.) Great city. Almost anything you can do would be fun. Whitsunday Islands and Cairns: both are portals to the Great Barrier Reef. We went on a smaller catamaran out to snorkel in the Whitsundays and a very large one (but well managed) in Cairns. We are not experienced snorkelers and have never seen the reef before, so we enjoyed these. Experienced GBR visitors might like more private or selective tours, but these are hard to find and schedule within port time limits. Viking did managed the tendering in Cid Harbor (Whitsundays) very well. Thursday Island--- skipped because of an incoming cyclone! Darwin: wildlife options again. We saw Jumping Crocs, which we thought would be really touristy. It actually was fun. The Territory Wildlife Park was also good, though VERY warm. Take lots of water with you! Be sure to visit the aviary. Weaker Australia ports: Newcastle, Townsville. These are perhaps good ports for their access to other places inland, but we did not find the actual towns as interesting. Maybe with time? Indonesia: In general, Indonesia has bad traffic, hot weather, and lots of temples. The blend of religions is fascinating and varies from island to island. Get a taste by seeing some of everything. Komodo: The national park is going to be closed for 2020. We were lucky to see the dragons. Very hot, and the most aggressive vendors we saw on the entire cruise were in the tent as we left the park. Be prepared to be tough and to haggle. Otherwise just duck and keep on walking! TAKE WATER. Viking did an outstanding job of managing the tendering and keeping guests hydrated and safe. They were on the dock with COLD towels and drinks as we finished the tour. The really wanted everyone to drink and stay safe. Bali: another disembarkation/embarkation port. On the day on our own, we traveled by cab into Denpasar to visit the fabric street—a MUST for any quilter or sewing enthusiast. We did an evening dinner and performance that evening which was fun, though touristy. We enjoyed seeing Batiks being made and wood carvers in action on a Viking excursion the next day. Surabaya: We visited a temple that is actually within an amusement park. Though it looked like we were entering Wally World, the temple, right next to the water, was interesting. The seafood lunch served on the way was excellent though a bit crowded. Our highlight was a stop at a T-shirt place that had graphically bold shirts at very low (fixed) prices. Thanks to a good tour guide. We’ve gotten compliments on those shirts everywhere. Semarang: Entre to a daylong trip to Borobudur, a must-see. Don’t do the included tour. Not much there. The Rainbow Village is not as enthralling as they say. Those who went to Borobudur said the long ride was definitely worth it, especially with the police escort that accompanied the bus caravan, stopping the challenging traffic. Think presidential motorcade. Viking managed an unfortunate bus accident between two buses that were following too closely pretty well. Fortunately, no one was seriously hurt. Jakarta: Interesting but not worth two days? Went on a tour that included an inside visit to a large mosque and Catholic cathedral and a walk through Chinatown Had some time on the second day to go into town on the Viking shuttle to a shopping mall that offered great shopping for authentic batik shirts and much more. I think half the ship bought batik shirts. Weaker ports in Indonesia: Lombok? We actually did not go into this tender port. Those who did said we did not miss much. We really should not judge. Singapore One day, and not enough. Unfortunately, immigration stole over 90 minutes of our day—through no fault of Viking. If there were way for the ship to stay two days and not have to do this each day, it would be worth it. We did a walking “Odyssey” tour and saw little India, Chinatown, and an area called Arab Street. I’d do that tour again. We had time to explore on our own, which we always like. I’d like to have seen the gardens at Singapore Marina Bay, but we did not have time. I’d REALLY like to swim in the world’s largest infinity pool on the rooftop there, but you have to stay in the hotel to do that… unless Viking has connections? Malaysia (Kuala Lumpur) Our one day was a quick stop. My husband and I did separate tours. He enjoyed the Batu Caves and Pewter factory tour, managing to avoid having his hat stolen by the monkeys. I did the Blue Mosque tour, which was a misnomer. We saw a view of the mosque at a GREAT distance. We did enjoy a tour of several sites in the city and a FANTASTIC lunch at the Renaissance Hotel. Of course, the last thing we needed was more good food! We honestly cannot say whether Kuala Lumpur is worth more time. Thailand Bangkok: The port is VERY, very far from the city, at least two hours drive if traffic is not bad. We had three days in Bangkok, the middle one a disembarkation/embarkation day for other passengers. We did Viking’s Bangkok After Dark tour, which was twelve hours long! The heat was oppressive, and the guide kept a pace that was a bit too enthusiastic for the heat. It did take us to great things and included a much appreciated foot massage after a lot of walking. We had a local dinner of SPICY pad thai and time shopping in the iconic night market. The tour is good, but plan on being totally soaked with sweat. Pace yourself and carry water. We took a private tour on the ship’s changeover day, and that was smart. We had a small van with great A/C and endless water. We could get back into the cool van often. We split the tour cost with three other friends, so it was quite reasonable. We visited locations our first tour did not include. Day 3 took my husband on the Viking tour out to the Summer Palace and Ayutthaya. He declared that tour to be excellent, including the golf carts! (I rested and did much-needed laundry out of the heat.) Cambodia Sihanoukville: This is the toughest port to talk about. It is not pretty, and the people lack hope. This port sparked great debate among our friends onboard. In my opinion, Viking needs to be honest about what you will see (poverty, loads of trash, hopelessness). The contrasts of the hotel where Jackie Kennedy stayed (a claim to fame in this miserable town) and the life in a local fishing village are painful. The Cambodian Cuisine tour we took involved riding in tuktuks through dusty, dirty streets. I did not initially appreciate the mask they gave me to wear, as I have never had respiratory issues. In the end, I actually needed it. The market offered a realistic view of what people buy and eat. The beachfront barbecue food attracted too many flies for us to taste it. Then we went to the Jackie hotel and had delicious hors d’oeuvres and drinks while feeling hollowly fortunate. The second day we took the included tour, but we were warned by our friends to expect very sad scenes and sickening smells. They were right. The little children who should have been in school -- but had never even been REGISTERED to attend -- bore witness to the lack of hope of the Cambodian people. Yes, Viking should let us all see the realities, but the descriptions also need to be accurate. This port is a place to learn and think, not to enjoy. If the corrupt government is benefitting from Viking’s visits, perhaps this is not a good idea? Sadly, the countryside beyond the city has exceptional natural beauty, and the guides were very honest about their plight. Vietnam What a contrast to Cambodia. There is hope, and education is highly valued in this rapidly-growing economy. VERY. VERY. HOT. Ho Chi Minh City (known to the locals as Saigon): Three days. A fair distance from the port -- about an hour. Fantastic city to visit! We did the Saigon Cooking Class, which was excellent in both organization and fun. We shopped in the market, cooked, learned a lot, and enjoyed our own cooking. The next day we enjoyed a special visit to the Hotel Reverie with our fellow Voyagers (NOT an excursion) for high tea. This was arranged by the general manager and restaurant manager just for our group. WOW. If you have a chance to do this high tea on your own, DO IT. We’ve never, ever seen anything like it! Try the iced Vietnamese coffee. It’s addictive. The third day we did Viking’s “Iconic Ben Thanh Market” tour which was disappointing. We spent more time being served food than exploring the market (allowing NO time for this). I expect Viking will be clarifying expectations with the tour operator on this, as several of us spoke to the ship about it. Chan May (near Danang): Excursion to Ancient Hoi An. This city was swamped with tourists, and the tour was too commercialized for us. We had hoped for an interesting walking tour. We were herded into places to buy things, stopped ever so briefly amid the crowds to take pictures of landmarks with said crowds. Little to no time on our own as was advertised. Other guides were apparently more flexible, and our friends enjoyed their tours. Ha Long Bay (overnight): Wow. This place is drop dead gorgeous. Even the included tour is amazing. We did a longer, slightly different boat tour of the bay, including a stop at a floating village. Great tour! We also went outside the city to the mountains and Yen Tu Monastery. What a wonderful change of pace. We meditated and talked with the leader of the monastery, a man with remarkable charisma. The tour also included a delicious dinner at a resort hotel in the mountains. A winner! Hong Kong (3 days) Another changeover port. The included tour was good- Victoria Peak (in clouds), sampan ride in Aberdeen, and Stanley Market with free time. Spent our “off day” on our own with a friend who lives nearby then did more exploring on the third day with some fellow travelers. We then did the Hong Kong by Night tour which was OK but went back to some places we had already seen on our own. It would be great for people just starting out in HK. Taipei (Keelung port)- one day We did the tour to Yehliu Geopark with its amazing rock formations. Great photo op if you can go early enough for smaller crowds. Then went to mountain village of Jiufen. Cute, though filled with tourists. There were some nice places to have tea with a great view. The Taiwan landscape is very pretty! JAPAN! Japan was perhaps the biggest “surprise” of our trip. We had heard that it was beautiful, but it was MORE beautiful than we thought. We had also heard about the crowds during Golden Week—extended this year due to the installation of a new emperor. It was more crowded in some places than we could ever imagine. AVOID Golden Week. This was Viking’s first visit to the Japanese ports, so ALL of them did something special at the port: bands, dancers, etc.! Lots of fun. Japanese weather was a welcome relief from the heat in previous ports. Kagoshima: Great tour to Kamikaze museum and Chimai samurai historic district with classic Japanese gardens. Terrific intro to just some of the subtleties of Japanese culture. Nagasaki: (separate excursions). Imari and Arita pottery tour was outstanding. Learned a LOT about the aesthetic, the history, and the processes. Beautiful scenery en route. Husband did Historic Nagasaki tour for the atomic bomb story and more. Korea (a one day stop in Busan in the midst of Japan ports): Beomosa Temple and Fish Market tour was good. Lots of walking up hill. Fish Market is a true cultural experience, especially on the weekend! More Japan Hiroshima (2 days): Sobering as you would expect. The included tour to the Peace Park is good at hitting highlights on foot, though it was pouring rain. The museum would have been interesting, but the line stretched around a half mile! Optional tour to Itsukushima Shrine was great. Crowded because of Golden week. Go as early in the day as you can. We were on the 7 am ferry. Great photo ops of the floating torii gate you always see on brochures. Be sure to try some maple leaf shaped cakes. Osaka (Kyoto): We took the tour that traveled to Ancient Kyoto. Worst crowds we have ever seen. Heel to toe and shoulder to shoulder in a mob. Easy to lose the guide. (Others shared pictures taken by friends on “regular” weekdays showing NO crowds.) DO NOT GO during Golden Week. Very long path of thousands of torii gates, but too packed to enter. Scary crowded! The Golden Palace late in the day was less crowded and saved the day for us. Shimizu: (day and a half): Nice city with very friendly people. They had quite a welcome for us at the port since this was Viking’s first visit there. Amazing views of Fuji that cleared off for us. I went to Hiroshige Utagawa Museum. Speechless how good it was. Included tour also good… good photo ops. Tokyo ( 3 days): Port is immediately next to the Olympic Village they are building for 2020! This was our last disembarkation/embarkation port getting hundreds of new passengers onboard. Kamakuri tour to three shrine and temples very good but again crowded. 43 foot Buddha! Took Viking’s shuttle to downtown on the middle day, a Sunday, and discovered that NO ONE was in town during Golden Week. Walked to Iperial Palace Grdens (beautiful) and around the area near Nihonbaski Mitsubishi. The department store is worthy of a visit on its own, very old school and filled with amazing things, including a full basement are of food. See where people custom order their $50K silk kimonos! Third day took Edo-Tokyo Museum and City Tower tour. City tower not that great. The sky tower is better, I think, if you like that sort of thing. Museum and smaller local garden were nice. Tokyo is a gorgeous city, and SOOO clean! Be sure to try every Japanese bathroom. After Indonesia and others, they are a delight! Sapporo/Otaru: Beautiful location on Japan’s northern island of Hokkaido. We took the optional tour to Nikko whiskey. Lots of fun. It SMELLED of whiskey when you walked onto the grounds. Friend told us the included tour was also very good. Much cooler here. The cherry blossoms were out, as this part of Japan is weeks behind the more southern areas. Russia (Siberia) Koraskov: Did the included tour. Damp, cold, and cloudy/drizzly. Not much here, and quite sad after Japan. The people are clearly longing for the good old days of the USSR. The performance was fun, and the vendors selling crafts there were very genuine. Most are happy to take USD, though they may cheat a bit on exchange rates! Petrapavlosk-Kamchatsky: This city benefits from the large Navy base (out of sight from the port). Volcanoes abound. We did the military history tour. Too much talking at you. Choose a different one, perhaps just the included. Orthodox cathedral is less than ten years old! Someone showed us video from the helicopter tour over the volcano, and it was amazing. (But I don’t think I’d go with a Russian pilot in a Russian-maintained helicopter! Very pricey, too.) USA Dutch Harbor, AK: No tours offered, but there was a shuttle (school) bus into town. The locals are VERY friendly and talk on the buses. Go to the Alaska Ship Supply for fun, and perhaps to Safeway just to see how the locals live. Bald eagles everywhere—like pigeons! Take a hike or a walk. If you’re an American who’s been away for a long time, stop in a local bar for American bar food… nachos or a cheeseburger? If you watch Deadliest Catch, you’ll recognize many locations. Kodiak, AK: Nature photo cruise was a real highlight. Small boat with only 6 guests and a very knowledgeable couple guiding it. WELL worth it! Small town with simple self-guided (walking) tour and a shuttle bus. Very genuine. Seward, AK: Kenai Fiords cruise was incredible. Whales, dolphins, eagles, and a glacier thrown in. Entire pods of orcas! This was a MUST MUST MUST DO, even on a drizzly day. Stay in town for a visit to the Sea Life Center or some shopping, A regular shuttle goes back to the ship. Icy Strait Point (Hoonah), AK: This small town with its native tribe of 760 people owns the port through a small corporation that benefits the tribe. They market it well, with many activities and tours. The whale watch cruise we took was actually done by a separate company that cooperates with the corporation. It was excellent. Great photos of humpbacks, including mama and baby. Sea lions, and more. Another keeper! Warning: the bridge you walk across into the port area is COLD because of the wind, but the temps are much nicer around the corner and out of the wind. Wear layers. Friend did the zipline and loved it. Sitka, AK: Busier port with another ship in port at same time. Cute, smallish town. Walking tour went 5+ miles to see historic sites, totem area, and Raptor Center. All are worth seeing. Wish we’d had longer in totems and Raptor Center. People who took included tour said it was good, too. Note: if you are looking for the post office, you have to go outside of town, They closed the location right next to the port! Ketchikan: VERY, very touristy. We saw a total of FIVE other ships in one day, one of whom was waiting for us to pull out. Downtown is all shops, some owned by other cruise companies. We went out of town to a Fishing lodge for a crab feast. It was fun, including the boat ride out to the island. Good wildlife and newspapers-in-the-picnic-table crab boil. Dress for the weather because you are on an outdoor deck. You also get a walk in a temperate rainforest at the lodge. If you want nothing but shopping, stay in town and walk off the ship. Some ships dock a bit outside of town. Vancouver, Canada: Kudos to Viking for handling the challenge of disembarking over 900 passengers by tender! It went quite well. We were off the ship and on our way to the airport ahead of schedule. We hope everyone’s bags went to the right place. Ours did. Viking, you made a difficult good-bye palatable by keeping it smooth and easy. Suggestions for Viking: Consider changing the itinerary for Jakarta and Singapore. Maybe steal a day from Jakarta and add it to Singapore? You could play with some of Indonesia, perhaps. What about Lombok? Semarang is not great, though you need it for Borobodur. Think about solving that? Think about how you want to “sell” your port call in Cambodia Continue to refine the excursions. We know you do this because of wise changes that were made after Viking Ocean’s first summer in the Baltic. Suggestions for future Grand Voyagers: Plan for HOT weather and extreme high humidity on this itinerary of traveling Feb-May as we did. We live in the southeast US and know humidity, but this is FAR worse. Plan to change your clothes from the skin out 2-3 times a day in many of these ports. Take enough clothing so you can do that. If you are on a long cruise with people getting on and off for various shorter :legs, “ ask the management to gather the “voyagers’ for cocktails and /or dinner and get everyone’s first names and cabin number while they are at that first gathering, That way you will know where to find each other! Emails help, too, if you want to be able to contact everyone. The ship management cannot give you this info. Thanks to TL from our group who spearheaded this! A long cruise is a marathon, not a sprint. If one excursions or day is lousy, just look to the next one. Share your feedback in a constructive manner. It goes much further, and the crew will always want to help you. Vary your excursions. Don’t book too many temples, street market visits, or anything else. You’ll get tired of it! READ the Viking Daily—before you go to bed! Get accustomed to giving laundry advice in Viking’s free launderettes. You know how they work, and you don’t want the newbies to break the machines! Read Less
Sail Date February 2019
This is going to be long winded! So many times, I have read that this itinerary only comes around twice a year and therefore, fewer reviews. If I can help anyone decide to take this journey, my job will be done. I decided to sail from ... Read More
This is going to be long winded! So many times, I have read that this itinerary only comes around twice a year and therefore, fewer reviews. If I can help anyone decide to take this journey, my job will be done. I decided to sail from Honolulu instead of Sydney mainly to escape airline luggage restrictions and also to rest after my first visit to Hawaii. This trip was 18 months in planning with no stones unturned. I really don’t know where to start. I’m always sceptical about people who have a gripe against a cruise line or hotel when something goes wrong that clouds their entire review (sometimes due to unrealistic expectations), or those, much like me, who can see no wrong. I’m a glass half full kind of person. I will try to give this review balance. A little background. I have always wanted to go to Hawaii and more importantly, to Bora Bora, my bucket list place. My youngest daughter aged 19 and I flew to Hawaii on Jetstar on September 24 from Sydney. We spent a marvellous week there before embarking the Solstice on Oct 1 for the cruise home via French Polynesia and New Zealand. What a month-long journey it was…. We stayed at the Aston Waikiki Beach Hotel in a premier oceanfront room. The view was stunning and well worth the extra cost for this room in my opinion. It made me constantly “feel” I was finally in Hawaii. It’s located next to the Park Shore Hotel and the Zoo in the quieter end of Waikiki. It was an easy 10-minute walk to Waikiki central. The staff at this hotel were friendly, helpful and professional. We luckily paid $USD60 for an early check in which was much appreciated after arriving from Sydney at 6am. Those overnight flights are brutal if you can’t sleep on a plane (like me). Check in and check out was super easy and fast. The pool area was very pleasant. You could check out towels and deck chairs to take to the beach across the road without charge. There’s an ice machine on some floors. One thing about this hotel is that there is no room service. That didn’t bother us in the least because there were 2 ABC stores, a Wolfgang Puck, a juice place, a cookie store and a Subway on the ground level. The weather in Hawaii was very warm and humid. The locals saying that it was unusually so due to the recent hurricanes and volcanic activity around the islands. I enjoyed swimming at Kuhio Beach to cool down on many occasions. The ocean was refreshing and not cold. Whilst in Hawaii we went with Oahu Photography Tours to the “North Shore” and a “Beautiful Hawaii” tour. I can highly recommend them. You don’t need to be a photographer. They will help you get great shots at some beautiful locations if you want or you can do your own thing. An iphone is just as good as an SLR. We took both. It’s a great way to see the island. I do have to say here that many people we spoke with went to the North Shore with Hi5. It sounds that this may have been a better option. I will go with them next time. Oh, and there will be a next time. Already booked for next June before I even left Hawaii. LOL. We also went to Pearl Harbour. Got a shuttle from our hotel, for something like $USD32 return for both of us. Of course, you still can’t disembark the boat onto the memorial due to structural defects, however, the moving video and 2 free museums were well worth the visit. The movie really explained in simple terms why and how the bombing of Pearl Harbour occurred. Such a tragedy. I booked Arizona tickets online two months out. We got there two hours before our tour asked if we could change our times. Numbers are down so we were able to do that no problem and did not have to wait. One morning at 6am we hiked Diamond Head. We caught an Uber as the buses weren’t running that early. My daughter called it the “death hike” although it wasn’t that bad. It was tough though. There were lots of places to stop and rest on the way up with great photo opportunities. There are lots of uneven lava paths, tunnels and stairs +++. I saw some young and older people have trips and spills. TIP. Once you get to the top and arrive at the near vertical stairs on your right, turn left, a much easier climb to the summit. We were greeted by an amazing scene that included a rainbow! Well worth the effort. Some other things we did was to eat Poke’ in backstreet restaurants, tuna, salmon and octopus, yum. I tried Loco Moco once, and ate at a lovely Italian place, Arancino Di Mare, down near the zoo. Beautiful food. Of course, we went to the Cheesecake Factory and Dukes. No complaints. Lulu’s attached to the Park Shore had great breakfast although way to big portions that were very tasty and economical. Get one meal for two. Great views too. Tikis grill at our hotel was lovely too. You could have a light meal by the pool with drinks or dine in the restaurant for a more a la carte menu. There was nightly music and entertainment. We were on the 10th floor and the music was enjoyable, not intrusive. Of course, we also did some retail therapy at the Waikele outlets and Ala Moana Centre and got some high-end bargains compared to prices in Australia. We caught an Uber to the outlets from Ala Moana, $USD35, and then got a Robert’s air-conditioned bus back to the hotel for $USD10 each which you could book at the outlets. Now to the cruise October 1, got to the terminal by 11am with Hawaii23 shuttle service and were on board by 12 eating lunch at a dedicated dining room function for Concierge class. A lovely way to start. This would be my 7th cruise. All the others on Royal Caribbean. As Concierge class we were invited by the concierge Javier, to the bridge and to sail into Auckland on the helipad which were really nice touches. The main advantage of Concierge class for me was the location. We had a hump cabin on the pool deck with a bigger balcony. We were starboard and had shade most of the day. From day 1 I was blown away. This ship by far is the best I have been on. Probably the biggest difference is that this ship seems to have 2 passengers to each crew member. That is amazing. Considering I have been on Ovation where it was probably 10 to 1. There were no lines on this ship! The Solstice staff were standout. They are truly a credit to their ship and industry. So friendly and willing to help anyone and assist at every opportunity. I could name so many people. But here goes some….Greg and Abel on the pool deck, Maurice, our room attendant, Jim, Faishoul, Kim and Almandi in the dining room. Thank you. You deserve all the recognition you can get. The Solstice has tendering down to a fine art. We had no problems getting off or back on the ship whenever we wanted. We were docked for Honolulu, Papeete, Auckland and of course Sydney. The entertainment was enjoyable with a few standout performances. I enjoyed the enrichment talks about sharks, rays and turtles etc with Brent Nixon prior to French Polynesia. They were appropriate and informative. Especially as we would be swimming with them in Bora Bora. The food was amazing. Not one bad meal. We were careful not to overeat and enjoyed our food. Often skipping lunch after a lovely breakfast where you are spoiled for choice. Occasionally we had a hot dog or burger from the Mast Grill that were always tasty. We dined at many of the specialty restaurants, namely Murano, Silk Harvest, and Tuscan Grill. The flambé lobster at Murano was particularly good. At Silk Harvest, we did a set menu that consisted of a lot of seafood with an Asian twist titled Silk ‘n’ Soul. Very nice. Tuscan Grill was my least favourite, only because I am not a steak person. We had pre-purchased a 3-night dining package. Most nights we did select dining and did not ever wait to be seated. We were treated like royalty. We ate breakfast in the Oceanview café daily except when we ordered room service on days that we had early tenders. It was on time, complete and still hot enough to eat. I was not going to purchase a drink package; however, I could not pass up the premium package for $AUD46 a day! It went on sale just before our cruise. By the time I had daily bottled water, speciality coffees, soft drink, nightly wine with dinner and a cocktail or two, it worked out economical for me. Whenever we went ashore I would grab some cold bottled water to take with me. I suppose I should mention here that we were advised not to drink anything other than sealed bottles of water in French Polynesia which surprised me a little. We were also warned about having drinks with ice in it. My daughter had the premium non-alcoholic package which was not on sale. I was under the impression that she would not be able to drink alcohol as this cruise originated in the USA where drinking laws are 21. However, after clearing Hawaii and in international waters, the drinking age was reduced to 18. So, she ended up having a couple of drinks which were charged at full price and 18% gratuity. Luckily for me she doesn’t drink much. Our first port of call was Maui after departing Honolulu at midnight. We had organised a ship’s tour on what was a beautiful day without any wind. A 45min helicopter flight. How else to see the most of Maui in one day? I can only say that it was worth every dollar. My daughter and I travelled in the front with the pilot as we ascended 10000 feet to the Haleakala Crater. Awe inspiring. It looked like something out of a sci fi movie. A bit like Mars, the red planet. We then travelled the road to Hana by air and saw majestic waterfalls and beautiful terrain that you can’t see from the road. We travelled the famous Jurassic Park helicopter scene into the “park” as Blue Hawaiian had the contract for all the helicopter scenes for all the Jurassic movies. On return to the port we visited the shops and bought some souvenirs and enjoyed the shade of the Banyan Tree. After Maui we had 5 sea days. There was always something to do around the ship or relax around the pool. The cruise director, Rick Spacey and his team could certainly entertain. The uniformed staff often played games against passengers which I think they genuinely enjoyed. Many people debated that 5 sea days in a row were too much, however, I didn’t think so. I used the Canyon Ranch Spa for a massage and a manicure however I found the staff unengaging, condescending and dismissive on two different occasions. Karin who did the massage and Kim the advanced aesthetics technician who did my nails were less than happy to be there in my opinion. I believe they are not employed by Celebrity which could have enhanced their business in my eyes. I could not wait to get out of there. Our next port of call was Papeete, Tahiti. The city itself was like any other capital city with a French flavour. We did another ships tour down the West Coast. It was a nice way to see some of the island. We visited a grotto, a scared ground, and a botanical garden. We called into the markets to buy some souvenirs and found them to be quite expensive. $USD10 for a fridge magnet minimum. This was the same all over French Polynesia. I did get some beautiful unique flower arrangements for my granddaughters to wear in their hair. The next port day was Bora Bora. My destination!! I was up early because I was so excited. It was another beautiful day. I had organised a private tour for about 30 cruisers with Maohi Nui. We had booked nearly a year out to ensure we could experience all Bora Bora has to offer. 12 of us, 6 at a time, did a full day combo tour for $USD215 each which included going up the mountain in a 4-wheel drive for some stunning views, a drive around the island with commentary from Arii who was obviously proud of his country and culture. Up the mountain we visited an artist studio where I bought 4 beautiful hand painted sarongs for my family at home. They were not cheap but definitely unique and of good quality. The artist said it takes him 4-5 hours to paint each one. We then went down the mountain and boarded a 12-seater outrigger canoe with Teddy and Vaitiare and went snorkelling in a coral garden. So many fish all swimming around you. We were serenaded by ukulele as we were taken through the pristine waters to Patrick’s private motu for a true Polynesian feast of suckling pig cooked underground. It was melt in the mouth good! It was served with fruits cooked in the oven, two types of BBQ fish, a chicken and spinach dish and some salad. Cold drinks were supplied and included bottled water, beer, wine, soft drink and champagne. We ate with our hands as you do in Bora Bora from banana leaf plates. After lunch, Patrick performed his fire dance before we headed back to the outrigger to swim with sharks and rays, and that we did in 1-2 metres of water! It was thrilling. Finally, we headed out to the reef to swim in 40ft of deep blue water on top of sharks deep below. To top everything off, a mother and calf whale breached in front of our outrigger as we headed back to the port. What a day! Words are not enough. This day turned out to be the highlight of our month-long holiday. It’s a good idea to take water shoes, an underwater camera, and your own snorkels as we did. If you go to Bora Bora, do yourself a favour and tour with Maohi Nui. Vaitiare likes to book groups to make her job easier so use your roll call and organise things early with one person to do the planning. I do recommend the combo tour however only 12 people per day can do this. The other cruisers did the full day tour and Polynesian lunch minus the 4 wheel drive up and around the island and most raved about the day. All money is payable on the day in cash. The last port of call in French Polynesia was Moorea. It was very hot and humid. We booked the ships Capture Moorea photo tour. It was a lovely way to see the island from Belvedere Lookout and atop Magic Mountain. It was very majestic scenery. After we left French Polynesia, the weather changed. We had cold windy weather with 4 metre swells. They closed the top decks for a couple of days. I was rocked to sleep two nights in a row. The weather settled a little in New Zealand and remained cool till we reached Sydney. Fortunately, I heard of no one coming down with gastro. Unfortunately, many people including myself became unwell in the last few days of the cruise. Many people were quarantined due to influenza A or another virus going around that caused razor blade throats and a hacking cough. I am still recovering. I don’t blame Celebrity for this. The ship was kept meticulously clean and they maintained mandatory hand sanitising. It was just a consequence of many people in a confined space with viruses that were airborne and helped along via the air conditioning when everyone was forced inside due to inclement weather. Despite the illness, I had the time of my life!! I met so many nice people to share my time with. I can now tick off Bora Bora and hope that you can too one day. It really is paradise. Everything else on this remarkable voyage was a bonus. Tours Hana and Haleakala Helicopter Exploration ++++ Discover Tahiti’s West Coast +++ Maohi Nui- Bora Bora ++++++ Capture Moorea- Photo tour ++++ Auckland- Hop on Hop off bus and the Skywalk +++ Bay of Islands- Island and Cave Adventure ++ Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
We did the Tahitian Treasures Cruise on Solstice from Honolulu to Sydney for the second time now. We enjoy seadays and chose Aqua Class because of the breakfast in Blu and access to Persian Gardens. Dinner in Blu is a nice plus and we are ... Read More
We did the Tahitian Treasures Cruise on Solstice from Honolulu to Sydney for the second time now. We enjoy seadays and chose Aqua Class because of the breakfast in Blu and access to Persian Gardens. Dinner in Blu is a nice plus and we are happy to report that the food has been significantly better compared to our Blu experience from last year! Our cabin 1543 showed some wear under the roof on the balcony (visible and rusty holes) beside this, it was kept extraordinarily well by our steward Santan. He was incredibly hard working and we can't praise him enough! Overall the ship is still in very good condition - just the seats in the theatre desperatly need a new padding and one hot chair in Persian Guardens seems to be out of order for more than 1 year! We love seadays and we have immensely enjoyed Brent Nixon's lectures and those of Mary Amanda (B. Nixon's wife). The Hawaiian enrichment where enjoyable and authentic, but we had the feeling, that they have just been squeezed into the daily programme without very much attention - which resulted often tin conflicts with other important programme points. Too bad, because our tutors where hard working and overly friendly and helpful. The shows where hit and miss, often very good and spectacular, but then noticeably cheap (repetetive jugglers and the comedian was not funny at all) and boring. Our cruise director Richard and his sidekick Tim where more entertaining than the jugglers and comedians of the main program. Food in Blu was outstanding all the way and Ocenview Cafe always offered an incredible offering of various food and we always found something delicious there. The crew is exceptionally hardworking and overly friendy - with one exception: Guest Service who had a different attitude: "No, you customer are wrong, we can't help you" and we could always feel that they where afraid that complaints could lead to potential refunds (which we never asked for). We dined twice in Murano - top notch from beginning to end and being helped by Sandra was like being guest at a friend's home! She's a gem! We also dined twice in Sushi on 5 and where excited about their offerings that had nothing to do with Sushi! We enjoyed the Lobster Ramen, the Lobster Wan Tan and in particular the Ramen Sliders (Wagyu burgers). Having booked the dining package for 4 nights in advance, Sushi on 5 and Murano gave a very good value for money. All meals in Blu where excellent and beyond what we have experienced last year, the staff around Tanja where absolutely outstanding and it was just like returning to family. It really was that good! We did read a lot about Celebrity diming down and to be honest (with the exception of the lack of the daily 2 bottles of water) we could not sense anything compared to last year - quite the opposite: Everything was slightly better compared to last year. One negative thing: We had to leave ports in Bora Bora at 6:00, Moorea at 5:00, Auckland and Bay of Island at 6:00. Keeping in mind the tender times, this all left not enough time at the destinations and we have heard complaints, that Celebrity excursions left viewpoints before sunset just to be right on time back on the ships. These stays should be longer (and have been mostly longer in the last year) to enable guests to enjoy more of these phantastic destinations. Another niggle: Last year, we had an Hawaiian Farewell show with Hula dancers of all ages (particularly the little boys and girls where just adorable!!!) - nothing like that this year and we really missed it! All in all, it was an almost perfect experience and we can highly recommend cruising on Celebrity Solstice! Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
My wife and I had twelve prior cruises under our belt, but had never done a re-positioning cruise. The "Tahitian Treasures" cruise from Honolulu to Sydney via French Polynesia and New Zealand sounded like just the ticket for our ... Read More
My wife and I had twelve prior cruises under our belt, but had never done a re-positioning cruise. The "Tahitian Treasures" cruise from Honolulu to Sydney via French Polynesia and New Zealand sounded like just the ticket for our inaugural re-positioning, and we were not disappointed in the slightest. The Solstice, although the oldest of the Solstice class ships, is still relatively young (in service since 2008) and is in tip-top shape. Everything is sparkling clean, in good working order, and we didn't see anything that showed signs of wear and tear. Our stateroom was reasonably spacious for two, as was the veranda. One thing I liked was that the bed frames were high enough off the floor to easily allow our 29-inch suitcases (and we had four of them since we were staying on in Australia after the cruise and needed clothing for a couple of climate zones) to fit underneath them. There is also a nice-sized couch in addition to a small but functional desk. The large TV provided for easy viewing and the controls worked well. Storage space was adequate, but just barely. More drawer space would have been nice although I'm not sure where it could have gone. One minor complaint is that the safe was in a less-than-convenient spot, requiring you to get on your hands and knees to operate it. At least there was a safe, however, which we think is a critical piece of equipment for storing passports and other valuable. This was the first time we opted for Celebrity's "Select Dining" rather than having a fixed dining time and fixed seating assignment, and we found it worked quite well. Being able to eat when we wanted was very convenient, and allowed us to select the time that best worked relative to shows or other activities that we wished to see. We never had to wait for a table, and although the tables are relatively close together, it afforded us the opportunity to meet some very nice people while also avoiding the situation, which has sometimes occurred, of being seated for the whole cruise at a table with people with whom you have nothing in common. Also, over time Celebrity has cut back on the selections available in the main dining room, and we found that on some nights where there was nothing that compelling on the main menu we enjoyed the more relaxed atmosphere of the buffet in the Ocean View Cafe. Food quality was uniformly good in the main dining room and the Ocean View Cafe. We also tried three of the premium restaurants -- Silk Harvest (Asian fusion--nothing particularly impressive), Murano (continental--limited menu but excellent quality and superb service), and Tuscan Grill (Italian/steak house--good amount of choices, also with excellent quality and service). We found the entertainment on this cruise to be somewhat better than on other Celebrity cruises we have taken in the last couple of years. There was a good variety of singers, comedians, and production shows. We particularly enjoyed Ivan Rutherford, who for many years was in the Broadway production of Les Miserables, and Nikki Barrett, an Australian singer. The singers, dancers and band really put their all into the production shows. Although we enjoyed some of the shows more than others, we never for a moment felt that any of the cast were putting less than 100% into their efforts, even though by this point (they were all near the end of their tours) they must have done these shows any number of times. The only entertainer we were a little put off by was a juggler who, although quite talented, made a number of comments we thought were a bit too edgy for an audience that included some (although granted not a lot) of children. Special mention goes to one of the bands, Jeam Beam, who we thought did an excellent job with every genre of rock, pop and contemporary music. Service was exemplary. We don't know how they do it day in and day out, but one thing we have found on every Celebrity cruise we have taken is that to a person, the crew is friendly, cheerful, and anxious to please. Being a re-positioning cruise, there were lots of sea days, but we never felt bored or as if we were going through the same routine day after day. There were a variety of activities to keep us busy, and plenty of time to just sit, relax, and read if that's all we wanted to do for the moment. We enjoyed all the ports of call and the shore excursions we did, although Papeete on Tahiti was something of a disappointment--a bit grungy around the edges. Bora Bora and Moorea were excellent, and we highly recommend the Aqua Safari on Bora Bora--you put on a diving helmet into which air is pumped under pressure so it keeps the water out, and you can walk on the sea bed 15 feet below the surface, surrounded by hordes of tropical fish. A truly memorable experience! Moorea was scenically magical--very reminiscent of Bali Hai in South Pacific. For some reason, it has been dropped from next year's itinerary for this cruise, however. Would we do this cruise again? In a heartbeat! It was one of the best we've ever done. Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
Ports, food, entertainment,staff, beds, services, equipment, all were 5 stars. Consistency of delivery is the standout and above its peers. After 10+ cruises on many different lines spread over 40 years in all seas and types of ... Read More
Ports, food, entertainment,staff, beds, services, equipment, all were 5 stars. Consistency of delivery is the standout and above its peers. After 10+ cruises on many different lines spread over 40 years in all seas and types of ships, I believe Princess Cruises is by far and away the best value for money experience. They take the best of the rest and combine it with 30+ years of their own experience to deliver the most consistently high class delivery of service food and travel experiences. The ability to deliver, process and anticipate travellers' needs is exceptional and remarkable. Doesn't matter which ship or which sea journey you take it seems to me that the expectation is always met, without disappointment, often before you identify fully what you really need. Princess acknowledge and seek out repeat customers and will do all possible to achieve that repeat sale (sail?). Perhaps they could improve by thinking about a new loyalty customer level between Platinum and Elite levels - but apart from that - don't change anything. Read Less
Sail Date September 2018
The ship was on its way to dry dock, so a few things needed updating, but all in all it was beautiful. We were in a balcony cabin, not as big as I would like, but we made do. The staff was outstanding. I ate in most of the specialty ... Read More
The ship was on its way to dry dock, so a few things needed updating, but all in all it was beautiful. We were in a balcony cabin, not as big as I would like, but we made do. The staff was outstanding. I ate in most of the specialty restaurants, and they were all wonderful. When we ate in the main dinning room, we were able to have the same table with the same wait staff each night who treated us royalty. The ports were all interesting. I did not do any ship shore excursions in Alaska, as I have done them before, however I did do the excursions in Russia and each port in Japan. All done well with good English speaking guides. The last tour/excursion was in Tokyo and this took us to the hotel NCL had arranged. The hotel was magnificent. Another great experience thanks to NCL. Read Less
Sail Date September 2018
We chose this cruise because we had been on Silversea twice before and enjoyed the complete luxury as well as the intimacy of a small ship. We had never been to either Alaska nor Japan so we thought that it would be a great experience. ... Read More
We chose this cruise because we had been on Silversea twice before and enjoyed the complete luxury as well as the intimacy of a small ship. We had never been to either Alaska nor Japan so we thought that it would be a great experience. Knowing that there would be several sea days we thought that we would play bridge on those days ( or read). What was a real treat for us was the enrichment lecturers; each of them was very well prepared and so elevant to our cruise. The first lecturer was a professor of Migration economics who lectured about each destination in great detail before we arrived there. He went into detail about the history as well as the economy and demographics of our destinations. The second lecturer was a professor of the theater. Each sea day he would discuss a different show about East meets West. He went from the Mikado to South Pacific to The King and I and Miss Saigon. In each of these he discussed how the show portrayed the West meeting Eastern cultures. As an added treat on the last sea day he discussed Hamilton in detail. As always on a Silversea cruise the food was fantastic (as were the bar selections). While we could have dined alone at each meal we chose to sit with others each night at dinner, thereby meeting many others all of whom we thoroughly enjoyed dining with. I do have some problems with a few foods but the Maitre D' took care that each of our waiters were aware of my food allergies and I never hhad problems The ambience on the Silvershadow makes you think of the Italian influence on Silversea. This was especially evident in the bar which makes one think of an intimate European living room. Here we would enjoy cocktails and canapés as well as lovely piano playing each night before dinner. Our suite was lovely ( and very well located mid ship). As on all Silversea ships we were served by a butler as well as a steward. Needless to say, we wanted for nothing. The ports were interesting, especially the Japanese Northern most islands, which we would never have visited but for this cruise. The island of Hakodate is well known for its fantastic sushi but which we enjoyed. However, a real treat were the peoples themselves. Our first port, Kushiro, is a tiny port on the bottom of the island. Here the people went out of their way to treat us to a cultural show with Japanese dance, music and origami. As we sailed away those of us on port side were treated to Japanese music and dancing. ( We also had this at another Japanese port, Aomori. All in all, we could not rave about this cruise enough My only complaint is that my husband has mobility issues and there were very few shore excursions that he could do. Read Less
Sail Date September 2018
Seabourn is the ultimate experience. Worth every cent. Staff are superb and you just can’t go past Seabourn. It is the only cruise line for us now. I have never enjoyed a cruise or any holiday as much as the 21 days on Seabourn from Kobe ... Read More
Seabourn is the ultimate experience. Worth every cent. Staff are superb and you just can’t go past Seabourn. It is the only cruise line for us now. I have never enjoyed a cruise or any holiday as much as the 21 days on Seabourn from Kobe to Vancouver. The dining was perfect. Loved the patio area and the cocktails. Even on a cold night it was great and staff spoiled us with plush orange snuggly blankets and heaters. Day at Hubbard Glacier was one of those rare moments in life that remain with you forever. The Captain and crew made the day so perfect and Champagne to sip along the way. Sophie the cruise director was fantastic and like all staff knew our names within a day. Benita one of the wait and bar staff is to be congratulated for her attention and spoiling. Breakfast in the dining room with Marine was a superb way to start the day. Dritian and the 2 young girls in the coffee shop were lovely and knew our regular order and had it ready before we could blink. I can truly say that the cruise exceeded all our expectations. Seabourn organised the lot from airlines to transfers and not one hitch. Seabourn are heaven. Read Less
Sail Date May 2018
Cruised from Japan to Seattle, USA. The cruise ship was great, the staff very friendly, the food was good. We had an outside cabin with a large window. Included was the drinks package, special coffees (which could only be used in the ... Read More
Cruised from Japan to Seattle, USA. The cruise ship was great, the staff very friendly, the food was good. We had an outside cabin with a large window. Included was the drinks package, special coffees (which could only be used in the restaurants or the Irish bar), and water, and gratuities. The itinerary was very good with stops in Japan, Russia and Alaska. Getting off the ship at our final destination in Seattle was very slow and some people missed their flights. We arranged our own shore excursions throughout the trip. The only problem was when we were trying to purchase an expensive bracelet in the Tradewinds shop on board and the staff were telling us it was an Effy product, but when we visited the Effy shops on shore they advised it was not an Effy product. The ship could not tell us who actually was the manufacturer. Luckily we did not buy. Read Less
Sail Date May 2018
Embarkation was quick and easy compared to recent large ship and midsize ship embarkations. After arriving at the cruise terminal in Honolulu, we were guided to our line for our cabin class and we walked right to the counter. After ... Read More
Embarkation was quick and easy compared to recent large ship and midsize ship embarkations. After arriving at the cruise terminal in Honolulu, we were guided to our line for our cabin class and we walked right to the counter. After answering the quick health questionnaire our photos were taken and we were escorted to our cabin by ship's staff. Twenty minutes from unloading at the dock and getting to our cabin. Disembarkation was the also the easiest we have ever had as the Destinations Manager escorted us off the ship, to our luggage and then to our awaiting car to take us to the airport. Our suite was well appointed with only the sofa cushions showing some wear, otherwise the Suite was perfect. Dining at Luminae, Tuscan Grille, Morano and Sushi On Five was the best dining we have had in terms of quality and variety on any ship. Michael's Club, where after the first night the bar tender knew our choice of libations and the string duet and the classical guitar entertained was our favorite spot before dinner. The service on board was excellent from the butler, cabin steward, to the whole staff at Luminae, Sushi On Five, Tuscan Grille and Morano, we did not want for anything. We had chosen some interesting shore excursions including the Road to Hana and the Pineapple Plantation on Maui, the Atlantis Submarine in Kona as well as the Glass Bottom Boat and we recommend those excursions. The most interesting shore excursion, and it was a matter of timing, was the visit to Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park, and hiking through Kilauea Iki Crater as the plume from the Kilauea Caldera rose behind us. The 5.1 earthquake which occurred while we were in the crater and brought rock down from the crater sides was pretty exciting and then experiencing the 6.9 earthquake while at the Jaggar Volcano Overlook topped off the day. It was a matter of timing! I will add, that we never felt in danger as the guides and the rangers were well trained and safety came first in dealing with the guests and the situation. Read Less
Sail Date April 2018
This was the first time my wife and I have cruised with Royal after cruising 4 times with Celebrity. We were expecting it to be a bit less quality to Celebrity. But it wasn't at all. The ship is 18 years old. Royal have done a great ... Read More
This was the first time my wife and I have cruised with Royal after cruising 4 times with Celebrity. We were expecting it to be a bit less quality to Celebrity. But it wasn't at all. The ship is 18 years old. Royal have done a great job keeping the ship in good condition. There isn't really anything to complain about. All the bars are great, the specialist restaurants were amazing. The main dining room was good. The windjammer food was ok. Celebrity buffet was a lot better. One small issue we found was there isn't a lot of inside areas to sit. Alot of areas are closed off for the upper levels of the crown and anchor society. We completed the behind the scenes tour as we have done on the other cruises but found the tour with Royal was not worth the $89 per person they charge. We cruised from Sydney to Seattle for 23 nights and had a ball. We had the drink package as we were lucky to get it at a sale price months before we sailed. After about 3 days the bars were selling drink cards at 10 drinks for $70 dollars, so I really good deal as most wines are $9 or more and top shelf and cocktails at $14. Not sure if they do it all the time. We will be cruising with Royal again. Read Less
Sail Date April 2018
We frequently visit family in Australia and wanted to combine it with something different, and this cruise fitted in well with our timings. We know Sydney very well and it was nice to board a cruise there. Embarkation at Circular Quay ... Read More
We frequently visit family in Australia and wanted to combine it with something different, and this cruise fitted in well with our timings. We know Sydney very well and it was nice to board a cruise there. Embarkation at Circular Quay could have been a tad better organised, at least outside the terminal. When there are 3500 passengers all wanting to get on board the scrum for getting rid of bags was a bit tiresome, although expected. The ship, despite being overtaken by many others now in the "size race" is pretty large but very manageable. It felt quite fresh and up to date, with only a few weak pints encountered in our 23 day cruise. Our stateroom (7676, easy to remember) was very pleasant, with a good deal of storage space, even for such a long cruise. Our attendant was good and unobtrusive, how we like them to be. We signed up for "Mytime" dining, which we liked a lot. Being seated with different people most nights gave variety to what can otherwise be a little tiresome. The food was good throughout, both in the main dining room and in the buffet. We did not visit any specialty restaurants, mainly because we watch our wight and eating even more food doesn't help much in that area. We thought the entertainment was very good, and the Cruise Director was outstanding, the best we have ever had. As Bridge players, we were delighted to find that there was organised bridge on board for the many sea days. That certainly helped to make the trip good for us. Royal Caribbean did not advertise this beforehand, which seems odd. The ship's staff were universally good, at least those we came across. Always ready to help and smile. The Pacific island stops were fine. We took a few excursions and were happy with them, although, as ever, they can be a bit pricey. We cleared US immigration on the ship when we reached Honolulu which was easy, and saved a lot of hassle when we docked in Seattle. Disembarkation was effortless and well organised. Read Less
Sail Date April 2018
I have just been on the most amazing cruise on the Radiance of the Seas from Sydney, Australia to Honolulu, Hawaii, over 17 nights - departing on the 17th of April 2018. I cannot speak highly enough of everything about the cruise. 1. The ... Read More
I have just been on the most amazing cruise on the Radiance of the Seas from Sydney, Australia to Honolulu, Hawaii, over 17 nights - departing on the 17th of April 2018. I cannot speak highly enough of everything about the cruise. 1. The staff were brilliant - they could not do enough to help in everyway possible. 2. The food in all restaurants was just amazing with the quality and choice being 1st class at all times. 3. The entertainment was incredible with nightly shows in the Aurora Theatre being of top class. 4. The daily activities organised were wonderful with something for everyone, or you could do nothing if you wished! I have read some bad reviews recently about the Radiance and wonder if these people were talking about the same ship that I was on. There are no holes in the carpets, the food was not edible etc...………..!!! Thank you to Royal Caribbean, the crew and all involved in giving me the holiday of a lifetime. I know I speak for many on board that we didn't want to get off - just keep cruising! Read Less
Sail Date April 2018
We spent a couple of weeks exploring Auckland, NZ and New South Wales before boarding the ship in Sydney, Australia. The CC Roll Call Group met for a pre-cruise dinner in Sydney the night before embarkation. We stayed at the Amora ... Read More
We spent a couple of weeks exploring Auckland, NZ and New South Wales before boarding the ship in Sydney, Australia. The CC Roll Call Group met for a pre-cruise dinner in Sydney the night before embarkation. We stayed at the Amora Jamison Hotel, which was very nice and convenient for walking our suitcases to the ship, followed by a very easy embarkation. I should say that we had terrific weather throughout our stay, both on land and during the 17-day cruise. The CC roll call group was the best we've ever experienced. There were various activities and tours organized ahead of time, with spreadsheets to keep us all organized. Everyone we met was so friendly -- it made for a very positive cruise experience. Onboard the Radiance OTS, the staff was very hard-working, keeping everything clean. We had the best stateroom attendant, who was great at satisfying our every request, as well as keeping the cabin immaculate. The food and service were great in both the Main Dining Room and in the Windjammer buffet. We ate all dinners in the MDR (early dining) and really enjoyed the daily chats with our 6 tablemates and the servers. The Windjammer staff was always attentive, assisting with trays if the floors were a bit slippery, or serving coffee/tea/water at the tables. We did not use the Specialty restaurants. The Activities Director Alex and staff member Sophie were always around and tirelessly worked to make our vacation a great one. Their enthusiasm and friendliness was very much appreciated. The shows in the Aurora Theater were well done, and the theater is nicely arranged to allow everyone a good view. Also the shows & games in the Colony Club were very entertaining. Ports of Call: Picton NZ: Picton's shore excursions seem to center around winery tours, but since my DH is a non-drinker, that didn't appeal, so we just wandered around the town for the few hours we were there. Wellington NZ: We had pre-arranged a Walk Wellington tour, which was very interesting and well-paced. Afterwards, we explored the Te Papa museum, also very interesting. Papeete Tahiti: The roll call had organized a Full-Island Tour with Dave's VIP tours in a 10-seater van. The tour was great, but the van was a bit cramped with 9 adult passengers. Bora Bora: The roll call had organized a 3/4 day Lagoon tour in outrigger canoes, with beach luau-style lunch, with Patrick's Tours. It was a great day, and we saw lots of fish, swam with sharks and rays -- a fabulous experience. Sea days: Always lots to do, if you wanted, or you could just relax. The M&M was very well attended, on the first sea day. We swam in the pools, played mini-golf, made $11 on the slot machines, walked the jogging track and the stairs, used the gym, line-danced, did the daily Suduko puzzle from the Library, relaxed by the pool or on our balcony and ate a lot! Read Less
Sail Date April 2018
We just completed our trip, sailing on the Solstice for a 19 night transpacific cruise. This was our 42nd cruise and DW says it was the best vacation we have ever taken! We live in Mesa AZ and started our adventure on April 4, 2018 ... Read More
We just completed our trip, sailing on the Solstice for a 19 night transpacific cruise. This was our 42nd cruise and DW says it was the best vacation we have ever taken! We live in Mesa AZ and started our adventure on April 4, 2018 flying on American to Sydney. The flight from LAX to SDY was almost 15 hours on a beautiful 787. We arrived in Australia at about 7am. No problems on arrival and we took a cab to our hotel. Sydney has so much road construction; at times it is faster to walk. We arrived at the Holiday Inn Old Sydney at Circular Quay at about 10 AM and were given our room right away. DW and I walked around the area for a couple hours and that made us so happy we chose this hotel. So much to see and do and we were right in the middle of it all. DW was tired from the flight and decided to just lay low the rest of the day. I did the Sydney Bridge climb that afternoon. What a treat. I was on top of the bridge for sunset for my first night in Australia. Off to a great start. The next day we too a trip on the Chef Led Hunter Valley Wine tasting. Our host picked us up and we started with a visit to Sydney’s fish market. Then breakfast at a beautiful riverside setting. Then we visited 3 different wineries were we were treated to great wines. Our host had food prepared for us to be paired with our tastings. He had scallops, stuffed mushrooms, kangaroo sliders and a sushi roll (that we had made at our breakfast stop) and then a dessert served with a port wine at the end. GREAT TRIP. Then we spent Sunday just getting around in Sydney. We bought Opal cards and were able to use all busses, trains and ferries for about $2.50 AUD for the entire day. Great deal if you are there on a Sunday! We did go to Manly Beach, a beautiful beach and a fun community. Great place to spend a day. They also have an ALDI supermarket there right at the ferry landing. Great place to get wine for the cruise. Monday we went to the Blue Mountains Day Tour with a group of new friends we had been chatting with on our roll call. This was done with Anderson's Tours. We were able to see much of the countryside with narration as we left the city and all the way to the Blue Mountain area. We saw many great spots, a tram ride seeing the Three Sisters and great walking through lush vegetation. We went to a wildlife park, fed Kangaroos and say Koalas. The return was a drive back, a quick trip through the 2000 Olympic park area then a ferry ride back to Circular Key. Another great day. Other activities in Sydney were a buffet dinner at the Sydney Eye and a sunset dinner cruise in Sydney harbor. If you want to visit the Sydney Eye, don’t do the buffet dinner! It was just another buffet and makes any ships buffet look good. To enjoy the view, just go to the desk and say you want drinks at the bar. Ride up, enjoy a beverage or 2, and you will be up there for a revolution of the bar so you will get a 360 view of Sydney. Don’t waste your money on the buffet dinner! The Sydney Harbor Dinner Cruise was great. We took the window seat option. Our boat was not full and we had a great time. On Wednesday April 11 it was time to cruise. We walked our luggage across the street from the hotel to the Overseas Passenger Terminal, this was quick and easy. We had a late checkout so we went to board just before 1PM. Check in and boarding was a smooth process and we went right onto the ship. Our cruise has begun! This was our first time on the Solstice. We had access to our cabin so we dropped off our back packs first thing. We were in cabin 6299 an obstructed view balcony at the aft of the ship. The view was not obstructed but since we were above Blu, the top of Blu extended out below us and we had no view straight down to the water. This cabin was very quiet. Our balcony had a great view of the Opera House! Our cabin steward was Cipta and he was a gem. All of our needs were met, he would race to open our cabin door for us if he saw us returning with water or tea in hand. He got off the ship and was headed home to the Philippines to get married after our cruise. Then we did the usual touring around the ship. The drill was at 4:45 and was done by video. Then, SAILAWAY! We headed up to the Sunset bar and loved sailing out of Sydney harbor. We ran into several of our fellow CC members that we already toured with and others we had chatted with. We managed to stay up for the show, OZ Boys of Motown which was very enjoyable. Our cruise director was Liam and he was great. He even put together a 4 man acapella group the did a matinee show in the show room and was excellent. Throughout the cruise, we participated on trivia (up to 3X per day) some Polynesian Specialist activities and various other typical daily cruise activities. It seemed that many activities that we wanted to do happened at the same time as other things we wanted to do so we had to make choices. I would have joined the choir they had however it seemed that the practice was always during a presentation by Mary Amanda or Brent Nixon, our on board enrichment speakers. Mary Amanda did presentations on New Zealand, Maritime women, movies from New Zealand, Titanic and more. Great information and we learned she is a ball of energy and loves her position. Brent Nixon had presentations on sharks, whales, turtles and many more. Both presenters were genuine and original(and they are husband and wife). They were a highlight for our sea days. We had 2 sea days to relax. We also had our CC meet and Mingle on our first sea day and over 100 attended. Always nice to see a good turn out for the M&G. We had a production show Broken Strings one night which was excellent and a guitarist Bayne Bacon and he was quite good as well. Our first port was Bay of Islands in NZ. This was a tender port and if you did not take a ships excursion you basically had to wait about 2 hours before getting off the ship. This precluded us from buying any excursion off the ship. We did get off and took the local ferry over to Russell Island. We walked around the town, found a couple of watering holes and they took the ferry back. The tender line was long, we went to the Bay of Islands Yacht Club(which we were lined up in front of) were we were greeted with great hospitality. We enjoyed several beverages there and caught the last tender back to the ship. The performer was Daniel Mallari, a vocalist. On to Auckland. We docked in Auckland and had a CC group on the Cruise Ship Combo Tour from Terry at Absolute Tours. It was a rainy day on Auckland but it was a good tour and we saw quite a lot around the city and surrounding area. Terry also set up a wine tasting at The Cave, a wine dealer, and it was nice. Bought a couple bottles and brought it back onboard with no problems! This was an all day tour and we arrived back at the ship 30 minutes before all aboard. The show was Cameo Rascale, acrobatic presentation and very entertaining. Off to Tahiti and 4 sea days. We started with 2 Mondays (International Date Line). Monday 1 the entertainment was Suzanne Prentice, a vocalist who has performed with many acts from the 60’s and beyond. That night was the Dateline crossing party in the Grand Foyer. Monday 2 we had a show by female violinist Yoomia. Very high energy! Next day had 2 presentations, Coral Reefs and Female Mariners, both excellent. We went to the Chef’s Table for dinner. This is an evening to be pampers, and wined and dined. We started at Cellar Masters with champagne, toured the galley as they served dinner, and then went to a private table at Murano for our dinner. 10 of us enjoyed the Chef prepare our food at the table. Different wines were served with each course. Desert was served and paired with a port wine. A great experience but be careful, the food is great but very rich. The wine was basically unlimited. Pace yourself for this if you do it. Papeete. We joined a group and took a tour to the center of the island(Tahiti Half day tour). There were 8 of us on benches facing each other in the back of a pick up truck. Not a 4 wheel trip but it was rough enough to make fillings fall out of your teeth! We saw so many beautiful look outs and so much green scenery. This was an excursion offered from the ship as we say many trucks with tags for a ships excursion. I would not recommend this type of trip for anyone with a back problem. The port itself was a bunch of shops and not very pretty. Wi-fi was not readily available and mostly you had to buy something to get a code to use it. Moorea. We did the Viatour All day cultural tour. We were met at the pier and traveled in a small SUV with A/C. We went around the entire Island. We had a lunch at a beautiful beach was we went swimming and snorkeling. After our tour, we stopped at the Intercontinental Hotel. It was nice to see the cabins out on the beautiful water. They also had dolphins there and we saw them perform for a few minutes. There was not much available within walking distance of the dock . We tried a café for internet but it was lousy. Others did find several bars closer to the Intercontinental Hotel that we heard they enjoyed and it had internet. Bora Bora. The highlight of our cruise. We joined CC members on Patrick’s ¾ day tour and it was outstanding. We boarded a catamaran and made several stops. Our first stop was for snorkeling and swimming with rays and sharks. The water was so warm and there were so many sharks and rays around and it was safe and amazing! Our next stop was snorkeling around the coral. So many fish and just beautiful coral. Lunch was like a luau on a private beach. Patrick presented the emu where he had prepared our lunch of roasted pig, fish and veggies. Drinks were also included and you had a choice of sitting at tables in the water or up on the beach. Patrick also did a fire dance after lunch. Then a ride through the beautiful water back to our pier. Back to the ship. 4 more sea days. When we crossed the equator there was a party and the pollywogs on board (those that had not previously cruised across the equator) were initiated to become shellbacks. Many kissed a fish they had and some did jump in the pool afterwards. Everyone on the ship received a certificate for the equator crossing. We enjoyed dinners at Murano, Silk and Tuscan. All were excellent food and service. Murano was our favorite, we ate there twice. The filet and lobster was prepared tableside and flambéed and was sooooo good. Crepes were also good and flambéed as well. Get the 4 dinner package for the best pricing. There were people offering discounted pricing for the specialty restaurants most days but other than the Chefs table we only ate there for our 4 dinner package. Our dining was on deck 3 and was something we actually looked forward to on the evenings we decided to eat there. We had a table for 8 with 6 great table mates. On lobster night, collectively we had 35 lobster tails and had quite the pile of tails on the table when we were done! Joseph and Janet took care of us at dinner and they were great and helped make it fun each evening. Hilo. Weather was rainy all day. We had decided before the cruise that we were not going to visit the Volcano’s Nat’l Park. We just took the Hopa on Hopa Off trolley and enjoyed Hilo. Turns out we should have visited the Volcano as it had just started the current eruption and was still safe to see an amazing site. 20/20 hindsight! Maui: A lazy day, relaxing in Maui. We went to the Old Lahaina Luau in the evening. A wonderful evening and a great authentic Hawaiian experience. The food was good, drinks were included and it was right on the ocean. It was only a 15 minute walk from the tender port. Honolulu: The ship docked at a newer cruise ship dock. I had always been at Aloha tower in the past. The port is closer to Waikiki and about a 5 or 10 minute walk to the Aloha tower. Disembarking was quick and easy. We were off the ship and at our hotel in Waikiki before 10AM. We stayed at the Ohana Malia Hotel right on Lewers St for 5 nights. A great hotel in a central Waikiki location. We did quite a bit of walking while we were there. Breakfast was at Cheeseburger in Waikiki and was $6 apiece each morning. Great way to start the day. One day we visited 3 Honolulu Breweries and made a day of that. On Wednesday night we went to the Brewseum for dinner and brews. This is a place that keeps WWII history alive. There is so many items and memories from Pearl Harbor and around Oahu from the war. They have a speakeasy bar and a brew pub bar. This is a must see if you are at all interested in history. The location is off the beaten path so look for it and enjoy! We flew home on Hawaiian Airlines. This was our choice since they had a flight at 12:30 and had us in Phoenix at 9PM so no all night flying. Now it is time to get all the planning done for our next adventure. Read Less
Sail Date April 2018
This was a bucket list check mark. So easy to embark, Pier 91, it took about an hour for the whole process. We went through a questioning about our bottle of wine, but really had no problems. We did see people with 12 & 24 packs of ... Read More
This was a bucket list check mark. So easy to embark, Pier 91, it took about an hour for the whole process. We went through a questioning about our bottle of wine, but really had no problems. We did see people with 12 & 24 packs of Pepsi products. They serve Coke products on ship. We disagree with the expensive beverage packages and think they should allow people to bring their own on board. The first few days were very rough seas. It was a shock to be so unprepared for the severity. The pools were coolish until we had a few solid days of sunlight. Swimpools were really overfilled, over flowing during rough waters and wetting anything you left chair side. Pool staff were polite, friendly and helpful. Disappointed that some cruisers forgot to bring their moms and left messes on tables, and elsewhere and not even cleaning up after themselves. Not many small kids but the few,we saw were left alone on deck and hopped from hot tub to hot tub pressing buttons. Signs are posted that children should have parent supervision at all times. Many posted rules were never enforced. Food was tasty and many options. Staff attempted to be accommodating however they had trouble understanding the difference between no added sugar and desserts without sugar except for their natural content. Sugar free jello was such a hassle to get, I gave up asking. Room Stewarts and customer service staff were efficient, complete and sought to please and fulfill every request. Excursion Sydney Opera house and airport drop off. Disembarkation with excursion to Sydney Opera house was a bomb. It was a lot of be on time and wait. It did make sense to stagger people disembarking so their customs dept could keep things moving. I think RCC should have given us more time to be in our rooms or hang out on deck. SOH was amazing, however some fellow cruisers who were part of tour were really disrespectful folks. They video taped parts of the tour that the tour guide pleaded us not to, pushed to the front of the line repeatedly and talked loudly while the tour guide talked. We drove around and saw many things in Sydney. We drove past the famous Bondi beach twice as it was Sunday and high 80* and there was no parking for our bus. We were promised time to eat lunch and shop but never had the opportunity. In exhaustion the bus decided to go right to the airport. There we were dropped off with our bags and had to walk a long distance. Sydney airport was bad. Lots of people but customer friendliness lacked. TSA - Sydney was HORRIBLE ! I am pre check. But it took almost an hour. Yes I had a small 1/2 inch scissor for medical reasons but they opened my sterile insulin pump infusion sets and contaminated them. They lost a unopened vial of insulin when they dug through my medical supplies. The head guy Jim L. did nothing. And did not even fill out an incident report. I was in tears as the insulin cost me $250.00. And I was dependant on getting home with that medication. There were several problems in getting money exchanged to local currency. RRC does not offer any foreign currency. Some ports of call did not accept the US dollar. The trip was fabulous despite 3 days of rough seas, a medical emergency for a elderly man who needed to be evacuated resulting in cancellation of a port stop in Lifou, Mystery Island. Mare in New Caledonia was so beautiful. Yedjele beach is rated one of top 5 in the world. Read Less
Sail Date October 2017

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