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1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: March 2019
This was our second cruise on the Ovation. We had upgraded to the Grand suite and definitely worth it with all the inclusions of specialty restaurants, butler, vip dining etc and the room was amazing and spacious. Great storage for us both ... Read More
This was our second cruise on the Ovation. We had upgraded to the Grand suite and definitely worth it with all the inclusions of specialty restaurants, butler, vip dining etc and the room was amazing and spacious. Great storage for us both and the view of the sounds as we sat on the balcony was wonderful. Your room receives a daily planner of activities and I wish they would update over the speakers throughout the day as a reminder as there is so many things on and spread out across the ship I found it difficult sometimes to plan properly. The food in the coastal kitchen and solarium was outstanding and recommend booking the Chefs table early as it sells out quickly. With 5 courses matched with wines including the chef who explains all about each dish and why the wine was chosen is a great experience. The only con is the constant up selling from staff, but say no once they tend to leave you alone. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
Suite Cabin 11234 - Owner's Suite - Sky Class:- * Coastal Kitchen - amazing service, management and staff * Concierge Lounge - amazing service and great staff * Main Dining Rooms - American and Silk - barely acceptable - very ... Read More
Suite Cabin 11234 - Owner's Suite - Sky Class:- * Coastal Kitchen - amazing service, management and staff * Concierge Lounge - amazing service and great staff * Main Dining Rooms - American and Silk - barely acceptable - very basic * Windjammer Restaurant - nothing more than disgusting, overcrowded, never find a seat * Wonderland Restaurant - plays on gimmicks - food disgusting and certainly not worth the money - service was terrible and took over 40 minutes to get starters * Jamie Olivers - plain and very ordinary and service to match * Chops - simply amazing service (great staff) and amazing food We had kids running around the ship pressing door bells at all hours of the night. Security onboard did nothing the first time we complained until the follow day when we got a little louder when woken up at 1.30am in the morning. Plenty of activities onboard such as rock climbing, ifly, northern star, bumper cars, surf rider and great staff to look after you. Expect long queues for everything - some people we spoke to waiting over 2 hours to get on the Norther Star (always try to pre-book). Entertainment onboard such as pixels, broadway productions, singers, comedians was ok - i've had better on other ships. If you have priority disembarkation then you will get off the ship very fast, otherwise you will end up in a queue a mile long. Overall felt like a cash cow with everyone trying to get a slice of your money - staff told by Miami office (so i was told) to hard sell to meet their targets - you get a little tired of this behaviour especially when your their to relax and enjoy a holiday. Would i ever do Ovation of the Seas again - NO - found it over crowded with far too many people with queues everywhere. Read Less
14 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
I had heard Royal Caribbean (RC) was highly regarded so I had always wanted to try them and booked the New Zealand cruise as part of our Aussie vacation. So far, only day 2, I am underwhelmed. The ship looks great but soon reminded me ... Read More
I had heard Royal Caribbean (RC) was highly regarded so I had always wanted to try them and booked the New Zealand cruise as part of our Aussie vacation. So far, only day 2, I am underwhelmed. The ship looks great but soon reminded me of the song, “She ain’t pretty, she just looks that way”. It is new, big and impressive looking and unfortunately, not designed for the passengers - at least for the usual amenities. Check-in went reasonably smooth. We arrived on time for our scheduled boarding time and were on the ship within about 40 minutes. The only confusion was in realizing we did not receive the usual ship credit card that opens your stateroom door but soon discovered it was left on the stateroom message slot. Despite dropping our luggage of a few hours before our boarding time it was not in our stateroom but no big deal. It was only returning to our stateroom an hour or so later I happened to notice one of our bags in amongst a large number of luggage about 20 rooms away from ours. All of it was there. I guess RC doesn’t bother delivering luggage they just put it on the correct floor and let their guests figure it out for themselves - a bonus game we didn’t have to pay for! Our holiday was a 35-day trip with the cruise starting after 6 days in Sydney. Having been on 5 different ships with 4 different cruise companies we were not worried about laundry as all previous ships had guest laundromats so we were utterly astonished to discover RC doesn’t bother with such things - what better way to increase revenue than to have guests have to use their much higher priced cleaning service. Despite talking to guest services, they weren’t prepared to offer any kind of deal so we bit the bullet and had the bare minimum cleaned to keep us in clean underwear and shirts. The same day it was returned, with a $40 price tag guests got an offer to have their clothes cleaned - all they could fit into an attached bag, with no restrictions on numbers - for the price of $25. Talk about adding insult to injury! It would have been nice to know about that ahead of time. I mentioned the ship was not designed with usual amenities in mind. It has some incredible attractions- more about that later - but those come at a price, like dining areas. The main cafeteria area is about 1/2 the size then those on the “older” ships only carrying about 2/3 to 3/4 of the same number of passengers. Needless to say, this meant listening to numerous announcements to please vacate your seat so other passengers can eat and wandering to and fro trying to find a table. The food itself was barely adequate. On other cruises I was always surprised but pleased to always find the food hot and fresh - not so on RC. I seldom could find anything I wanted that was both hot and fresh. Luke warm to cool seems to be the norm temperature-wise and nothing seems to be removed if it is not eaten in a timely manner. I saw what I thought was a fresh tray of eggs Benedict only to find it had been there a while and were rock hard and cold. The only exception to this was the team responsible for soups and sauces. Soups were hot and delicious and the sauces tasty. There were other options for dining, but I found little difference between the various locations, except for the pizza. It was fresh, hot and good so of course there was always a big line up. The main dining for dinner, the food was better and usually toward the warmer side but there were still glitches. If you recall my soup compliment earlier, you can imagine my surprise to find the one exception was French onion soup. The first try was cold with the cheese-like substance on top congealed into an almost impenetrable glob. The second attempt was better, but not by a huge margin and I think I found an actual onion amongst the sodden mess of some sort of bread beneath the glob of cheese that soaked up most of the liquid. The other thing lacking in food was variety - at least as part of the regular fare. On other cruises I always enjoyed searching out where they placed the various treat spots like Sushi, pasta bars and the like. RC had those - but they all were an extra cost. On other cruises the crew was usually a treat. On RC, I found a mixed bag. Some were great - friendly and helpful while others were sullen, and while not quite rude, not what I would consider helpful. This ship has bumper cars, a surf machine, faux skydiving and the North Star that lifts you up 25-30 meters above the ship giving you a good view. It was here I learned of RC’s caste system. You had to stand in line and wait your turn which is fair - unless you are one RC’s Star class or something like that. Then you got to cut the line and go in front of those mere peons who had waited patiently for their turn. The angry responses of those still in line might explain the staff’s sullenness. Going into the theatre one evening we were told we couldn’t sit in an empty section of seats as they were reserved for the same elite caste. I pointed out to the staff member the irony as the notice posted on all screens in the theatre that stated clearly that there was no reserving of seats for any reason - she could only shrug helplessly. Was the cruise a complete disaster? No, we still had fun and once we figured out what to eat - soups, fruits, salads, baking and surprisingly good coffee and when the crowds weren’t too bad, we didn’t starve. However, would I cruise RC again? No, not unless there was no other option for where I wanted to go. TLDR - give RC a miss. There are far better cruise lines out there. I felt my only purpose on board was to be held upside down to see how much they could pry out of my pockets. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
I am on board this ship attending a genealogy conference. Thank goodness I AM attending a conference because the overall options for things to do on this ship are terrible. Everything is aimed at young families - the ones where the parents ... Read More
I am on board this ship attending a genealogy conference. Thank goodness I AM attending a conference because the overall options for things to do on this ship are terrible. Everything is aimed at young families - the ones where the parents traipse off and have a good time but leave their brats to run amok and annoy fellow guests. Then there is the food - the Windjammer is terrible, all food is well overcooked and what is not eaten is served up the next day in a variety of stir fry's and casserole-type dishes. The Sapphire Dining Room is just as bad. The only decent meals are to be had in the speciality restaurants which leads me to think they make the general food so bad you will naturally take up the specialities! It would also appear that the shore excursion staff are not kept informed about any changes to excursions until the very last minute and are not able to get the message out to its passengers. For one excursion I was booked on, I was complaining about the change of date at such late notice (the evening before) when several other passengers advised they had had 4 date changes to the same excursion. Was also booked on the Tour of the Ship only to be told while waiting for the tour to commence that it would not be happening because we were sailing through the Torres Straits and no one is allowed to enter the bridge or engine room on this day. HELLO why was the day available for the booking in the first place when the organisers would have known we would be travelling through those Straits on that day. Arrived in Darwin to be told our collected tour group (who had to meet at the fore theatre room on Deck 3 had to walk up to Deck 4, across to the aft elevators and go down to Deck 1. We get down there having had to wait many minutes for elevators (they only take so many people) to be told, no you are exiting from Deck 4. Up we go again to find we have to disembark down the steepest, wet, gangway I have every seen. Our group consisted of many elderly persons with mobility problems including a totally blind woman with a stick. Surely this is a health and safety risk just waiting for a passenger to have a fall and sue the pants off of Royal Caribbean. I have done several cruises with their sister company Celebrity and the difference between the two is staggering. Royal Caribbean - Explorer of the Seas - no longer supplies fresh water jugs to your cabin; no longer gives you that little chocolate on your bed making you feel special; instead of two cabin stewards there is only one very overworked steward; the conference room in the fore of the ship has only 1 toilet for up to a hundred people. Then there is the state of the elevators, one of which kept breaking down - to be honest it was the one you could rely on because it wasn't working with the others continually whizzing past your floor or staying on each deck for around 4 or 5 minutes minimum. Much quicker to take the stairs but not suitable for the elderly or those with mobility problems. I could go on but then I'd only be seen as a whinger - along with at least half of the passengers on this cruise. My advice - pay the extra and go with Celebrity or its ilk. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
We chose this cruise because of its itinerary. We hadn’t been on Royal for a few years and didn’t expect that it would be so changed. It has or it’s just that we are spoiled from our other non royal cruises. The staff didn’t ... Read More
We chose this cruise because of its itinerary. We hadn’t been on Royal for a few years and didn’t expect that it would be so changed. It has or it’s just that we are spoiled from our other non royal cruises. The staff didn’t care. For instance it took two full hours to disembark. No staff to direct passengers while waiting or offer suggestions as to where to stand. We were the first group scheduled and we were self assist. It appeared that they were discharging their tour groups first so there we were along with another 1000 or so people waiting two hours. And then the announcer actually told the following group to report while we were still there. Total chaos and rude staff. Elevators ran inconsistently or not at all. They were also out of service for much of the trip. We were sitting in the shade poolside for several hours when a representative said”hey guys we have to move you”. Really? They had decided to set up a poolside buffet and told 40 people to move. Poor planning. And very rude to top it off. There are too many choices to use vacation time and money but this is a no brainer. We won’t be back. They won’t miss us and we won’t miss them. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
We are Diamond Plus RCI cruisers. Have always enjoyed our RCI cruises. I must say that this was the Most Disorganized cruise we have ever taken. It seemed that one department had no idea what another department was doing. We had ... Read More
We are Diamond Plus RCI cruisers. Have always enjoyed our RCI cruises. I must say that this was the Most Disorganized cruise we have ever taken. It seemed that one department had no idea what another department was doing. We had great waiters in main Dining Room, we were on My Time, deck 3. The evening menus seemed to be same menu day after day. We truly missed the Chef's Suggestion of the Day that we used to have. The breakfast menu on deck 3 was the same everyday. We just walked over to center of Dining Room for buffet. The Royal Caribbean Dancers and Sinhers were a highlight for our entertainment. The rest of the entertainment was a major disappointment and that's probably why the Palace Theater was hardly more than half full regardless if it were early or late show. First RCI ship we have been on where entire crew (all departments) were not represented at Closing Show. We were sad to see that it was only cruise director/activity director staff and Royal Caribbean Singers and Dancers. I realize that this Review sounds like I am a complainer but I really am not. I spoke with countless other passengers to see if I was off base. Most that I spoke with felt as I did I found. To be honest with you, if this was my first RCI experience I would not be cruising on RCI again. As it is we have four more RCI cruises booked at this time with another on Explorer of the Seas on November 4th. If we didn't already have plane and hotel reservations already paid for I would cancel the cruise on the Explorer. I am praying that there will be a different management crew on that cruise and things will change for the better. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: March 2019
I booked this trip well over a year ago, and had six friends join us which was great. We were all very excited and had pre-booked and pre-planned everything possible. To start with, the embarkation at Sydney was fairly quick and our ... Read More
I booked this trip well over a year ago, and had six friends join us which was great. We were all very excited and had pre-booked and pre-planned everything possible. To start with, the embarkation at Sydney was fairly quick and our room was available straightaway, and this was probably around 1 pm. We were immensely happy with our particular room up on level 12 but I will go into that in more details later. We had lunch up in the windjammer cafe which was very nice with plenty of variety and it didn’t take too long until we found seats for all of us. By the time we got back ,our bags had arrived so it was a very efficient service. We had pre-booked the chefs dinner, The gallery tour and lunch, and also the wine around the world talk and tasting. All the information for these were waiting in our cabin for us which again is great service. We met our cabin Steward KOLI..He turned out to be a lovely young gentleman, very personable and very very efficient. So we all just wandered around the ship and checked everything out and eventually met for dinner in the main dining room, where on that night, and every other night following, we had really really nice food. We had Billy and Inyomen, looking after us every night, and they also were extremely friendly, extremely efficient, with a great sense of humour. We had some people with food allergies and one vegetarian, and they went out of their way to ensure everything was okay for them. My husband and I are not great socialisers , as we don’t drink a real lot, and generally don’t bother with the shows, we just like to relax, read a book, have a nap, and do very little. And many times we did do this. But my friends are more outgoing and like to do all the activities and see the shows, so we went along to a few of these things, like trivia, karaoke, and all sorts of other shows, and I have to say, that despite myself, I had a really good time at these activities. We saw ice shows , Movies, parades, art shows, and I watched the wave Rider and golf activities. And generally kept myself entertained, together with long long periods in the Jacuzzi that was in the spa , Very near our room. We thoroughly enjoyed our gallery tour and huge lunch and bottomless champagne..wow Same with the wine tasting.. I’ve been to Champagne in France, and many wineries in Australia, but still learnt things from the sommelier on this cruise.. The best of course was the chefs dinner. Wow wow wow..worth every cent.. way too much food and wine, but a fantastic experience.. So, we also had some other stuff go on...Two medical airlifts early on in the cruise.. not that great for the patients ( who I believe are ok now) but quite exciting for those watching the skill of the pilots and medical staff. Our cabin afforded us the best view ...so many photos and videos taken.. Apparently another medical problem which meant we departed Darwin abit late.. Two missed ports of call. Airlie and Yorkies Knob.. which meant we only stopped at Brisbane and Darwin... Quite a few people disappointed, but really didn’t bother me, as I’m aware that these stops are often missed due to the weather.. those people who set their hearts on seeing the Great Barrier Reef, would have been better just going up there for a few days , as cruising and using tenders is a 50/50% chance.. I had prebooked private excursions at both places and was SUPER surprised to get my money back immediately...no questions asked. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
This was our first time cruising with Royal Caribbean and it will be our last. On a number of occasions we raised our concerns with the management of the ship. Concerns raised include stains on towels ( which looked like blood on one ... Read More
This was our first time cruising with Royal Caribbean and it will be our last. On a number of occasions we raised our concerns with the management of the ship. Concerns raised include stains on towels ( which looked like blood on one occasion and mascara on another) on the first occasion I rang the Hotel director, whose number was in the cabin, re the towel issue to be informed that someone would be down with clean towels , ( I am still waiting) and the to be asked how I got his number, the card din the cabin disappeared that evening. The next night we had the issue of what looked like mascara stains, this time I went to the guest services desk. The towels were replace and we had a visit from the deck supervisor. On the first sea day between Sydney and Brisbane, when the weather was poor. There is insufficient break away areas for the number of passengers that were on the ship. The promenade area was parked like sardines and some bright spark then decided to run the morning Zumba class in that area. We were on My Time dining, for the first seven days of the cruise, all 4 of us thought the food was poor and the service was shoddy. After the mid cruise questionnaire, where we raised the issue of service, quality of food, things did improve drastically. There appears to be a significant number of middle managers/supervisors standing around in the dining room doing little while the waiters and assistant waiters are running around Unfortunately due to the swell two ports, that were tender ports were missed. But the at Darwin, you had to be a mountain climber to get on and off the ship due to the extreme angle of the gang ways. I requested to see the health and safety officer plus a copy of the risk assessments for the gang planks at Darwin in at least 4 occasions, I have still not received anything despite being informed by 4 staff that someone will be in touch and it being logged - still waiting! The cabin was good, for an accessible cabin but it was showing its age. Bed linen was rather thin. Entertainment- the dancers/singers were good and delivered 3 strong performances as did the ice skaters. We didn’t attend the other shows. We thought the range of activities on offer through the sea days were weak. Given our experience on this ship, with a management team who on the face of it, say yes but then totally ignore passengers comments. We will never cruise Royal Caribbean again Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
Explorer of the Seas is showing its age now, with many areas looking tired and in need of renovating. Was almost the worst cruise we have been on, only saved from this by having good food and wonderful dining room staff. The buffet ... Read More
Explorer of the Seas is showing its age now, with many areas looking tired and in need of renovating. Was almost the worst cruise we have been on, only saved from this by having good food and wonderful dining room staff. The buffet area seemed more crowded than on ships of a similar size, and at sometimes it was a problem to find a table. The choice of food however was up to RCI’s usual standards. The main dining room experience was good, with a varied menu each night as well as the standard dishes available every night. One of our party was vegetarian and there were at least two main courses available each night. Additionally, our waiter produced the following nights menu to look at, and if the veggie options didn’t appeal, he arranged for an off-menu dish to be prepared for the following night, an excellent service which we have only had before on Celebrity cruises. We were well looked after by our waiters Benjaman and Rovie. we went to the main dining room for breakfast once to avoid the crush oft he Windjammer, and was surprised to see how chaotic it was. Diners were getting their meals 15 minutes after their partners on the same table, teas and coffees were ordered, never to appear. Where this cruise failed miserably was with the entertainment programme. The ships singers and dancers only appeared in three shows during the three-week cruise, when normally this form of entertainment would appear at least twice per week. Other acts in the evening included a juggler who could only juggle with three clubs and an Australian comedian whose act consisted on identifying non-Australians in the audience and then insulting them, explaining because we are friends, he could?? There were two good acts, a musical impersonator and a Liberace style pianist. Daytime entertainment consisted of trivia quizzes and bingo. Poolside entertainment only appeared in the third week, and there were no sail-away parties. There was a very good ice show, but access was limited on a rota basis. This was without doubt the worst entertainment we have had on any cruise and certainly not up to RCI’s usual level. Possibly because it was a re-positioning cruise RCI were doing things on the cheap, as people we had met who had sailed on Explorer earlier in the season said it was much better then. The biggest disappointment of the cruise was the failure to make the two stops at the Great Barrier Reef, due to weather conditions restricting tender use apparently, although certainly on the second stop at Cairns most people said on previous cruise’s they had used tenders in worst weather. No attempt was made to stop and the Captain was in a rush to get out to sea and open the casinos and shops, obviously people spending on board was more important than waiting to see if the weather moderated. In both cases the ship was out to sea before the announcements were made. As a compensation the Cruise Director offered free access to the films on the interactive TV for the two days it would take to sail to Darwin, but that day the interactive TV stopped working only to miraculously start again the day we docked at Darwin – nice offer RCI. The reason given for not using the tenders was Health and Safety, and yet at Darwin the angle of the boarding ramps almost necessitated ropes and climbing boots and health and Safety did not seem to be an issue Another issue with RCI was that at Brisbane, (and at Cairns had we stopped), because the ports are a distance from the centres, shuttle buses would be needed to get there, for which RCI levied a $25 dollar fee, unless you were on an RCI excursion. Other cruise lines in this situation provide a free shuttle from/to the port. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
My wife and I have sailed on the Explorer of the Seas for multiple cruises and had high expectations for the 4 B2B Odyssey cruise that was offered from Sydney to Southampton, UK from March 29th to May 7th. Those expectations have not been ... Read More
My wife and I have sailed on the Explorer of the Seas for multiple cruises and had high expectations for the 4 B2B Odyssey cruise that was offered from Sydney to Southampton, UK from March 29th to May 7th. Those expectations have not been achieved. Due to a high number of older and more experienced cruisers, who are apparently much more tight with the pocketbook, we have had many of the venues we enjoyed stopped or marginalized for Royal Caribbean to cater to their Diamond and Diamond plus cruisers at the expense of anyone lower. Bingo was stopped due to low participation, yet the problem, was very little advertising, playing Australian versus US Bingo, low payouts and constant switching of the venue time and location. The Casino has been lightly attended and part of that was the introduction of new slots with higher minimums. They even increased the minimums on the Blackjack tables. They refused to change out card decks if a player requested it. If you wanted to play craps many times one would have to play alone and only late in the evening. Many of the scheduled poker, blackjack and slot tournaments were canceled due to lack of minimum players. Even when we tried to recruit more players to come, the ship refused to broadcast that we were seeking a few more players to play. Complaints to the CD were dismissed by his saying that the decisions were coming out of Miami. Laundry was refused due to being in the wrong bag. (It was a plastic bag for a special one cost for the bag that our steward had left us earlier and we had not utilized but they only ran on certain days versus the higher cost itemized laundry bag.) This has been a very disappointing cruise, and seems to be getting worse as it goes on. Since this was 4 B2B instead for just one repositioning cruise, the entertainment was stale by the second leg of the trip. Timing was not very well coordinated with other activities like meals. We enjoyed the enthusiasm of the entertainment staff but the Cruise Director and Asst. Cruise Director tended to act like a couple of juveniles with a morning show that was a level of entertainment not much above that of juveniles. Sort of Bennie Hill type of humor. Maybe the geriatric crowd aboard Royal Caribbean on these repositioning cruises love this sort of stupid antics but I found it demeaning at many times. My recommendations are not to take the repositioning cruises on Royal Caribbean unless you are a Diamond or above in their Crown and Anchor Society. it just does not pay to be onboard. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
This was part of a 3 leg repositioning cruise from Australia to Europe ... with hardly any stops on the 13 day leg from Dubai, we transited the Suez Canal without proper narration as to what we are seeing starting at 4 am. The only ... Read More
This was part of a 3 leg repositioning cruise from Australia to Europe ... with hardly any stops on the 13 day leg from Dubai, we transited the Suez Canal without proper narration as to what we are seeing starting at 4 am. The only other port calls were Athens and Valletta... both stops if you haven't been before were guessing games as the cruise line did not give port information for those wanting to explore on their own.. it's all geared to those taking shore excursions This cruise had a lot of sick people on board .. it was difficult not to catch whatever was going around. The captain withheld much information about what was going on on the ship and of course sugar coated what little information he gave... of course with 3,000 people you don't want to cause alarm but intelligent people are not sheep.. Although the Explorer OTS is my favorite class of ship in the RCI fleet, the ship is very tired.. obviously in need of maintenance and refurbishment..it will be limping into the shipyard.. Our last cabin was a disgrace.. so many items broken or not working.. (our reward for Royaling Up) .. Dining room service for breakfast and lunch..? How about waiting for 40 minutes for a menu item that they don't have... grapefruit! Lunches were only good on sea days when you could help yourself to the salad bar buffet style... I don't understand if the wait staff is short handed or something else.. The entertainment is never the best on repositioning cruises but this was probably the worst.. Some of the dancers were sent home at selected ports as they also got sick..The ventriloquist stayed healthy but...! The ice show is always good, but at one point the lead female ice dancer got sick and was also sent home.. The ports from Australia to Dubai were selected for the convenience of RCI .. not enough hours in any port except Darwin and Dubai where the ship stayed overnight.. The inconvenience of having to pack up everything and move to another cabin defeated the purpose of unpacking once and enjoying a relaxing cruise ... totally for the convenience of the cruise line ...this cruise, not even offering to move your closet of hanging clothes for you to lessen the blow.. imagine being sick and having to pack your bags and move to another cabin ... Would i take this particular cruise again...? probably not! Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
This was the worst cruise we have ever had. Missed two stops, they said it was too rough, CRAP, just too many old people who would have been a pain to get them off. Food was poor, i got sick from Japanese. Italian was frozen pasta. We sent ... Read More
This was the worst cruise we have ever had. Missed two stops, they said it was too rough, CRAP, just too many old people who would have been a pain to get them off. Food was poor, i got sick from Japanese. Italian was frozen pasta. We sent our washing to the laundry, and they lost all our clothes, so when we got off the ship, we had no clothes for three days, in Singapore. We contacted them when we got home, and they insulted us by saying they will only pay us 60% of the cost of our clothes. NOT GOOD ENOUGH! Room was clean, but every morning, we would be woken up by loud banging, them fixing pipes in the walls that were leaking. The hand basin leaked into my cosmetics bag, and destroyed lots of items. Once again, they didnt care. I tried to buy a drinks package before we got on the ship, as they said it was cheaper to do before, but they locked me out 2 days before we were to go on the cruise, so we got stung a huge price when we got it on board. We spent over $3500 on board, and this is how we got treated. I wrote to them telling them all the issues we had, and not a response....... Never ever ever again....... Holland America all they way now. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
I booked this March 23, 2019 cruise for the itinerary. I’m an American, and I’ve always wanted to see New Zealand and thought a cruise with many ports of call on a 12-night cruise would be a good introduction. Ports included cities ... Read More
I booked this March 23, 2019 cruise for the itinerary. I’m an American, and I’ve always wanted to see New Zealand and thought a cruise with many ports of call on a 12-night cruise would be a good introduction. Ports included cities in both the North and South Island, including all day to view the three South Island Sounds (Dusky, Doubtful and Milford) before heading back to Sydney. I arrived on the sidewalk at the Overseas Cruise Terminal in Sydney at 11:10 and was seated for lunch in Chops Grille at 12:20. I had purchased the new KEY program which brings certain perks formally reserved for those with many cruises in their portfolio. It included a good internet package (which I was already going to purchase) and also included priority boarding to tender ports. Unfortunately, did not get to use that much… I had a balcony cabin on the 7th deck at the front of the ship. Maria was my cabin steward and after a five-minute introduction and chat, I was on my way to 12 wonderful nights under her care. There is a lot of storage space in the cabin, and as a solo traveler I didn’t use most of it. There was enough room under the bed to store my suitcases, and I used the in room safe. The refrigerator wasn’t very cold, and even after having maintenance look at it, no improvement. Maria kept my room stocked with ice and made sure the turn down service was done while I was at the late seating dinner. Let’s get the “bad” out of the way. We started with ports on the North Island. A major storm formed at the lower part of the South Island about Day 4. The captain was in contact with the weather services and informed us an itinerary change might be necessary. Yes, that is what happened. We did not visit Dunedin or any of the Sounds. We detoured between the North and South Island, and also missed the makeup port of Picton due to bad weather. However, the makeup port of Wellington greeted us (unexpectedly for them) on a brilliant, warm, non windy Sunday morning and rolled out the red carpet of hospitality to ensure Radiance passengers had a wonderful experience in Wellington. The Zealandia nature park there is like stepping into Jurassic Park, and it did not disappoint as part of a ship’s excursion. Ron, our park guide, was fantastic. When the captain announced our itinerary would change, I heard grumblings amongst some passengers. However, later some of those grumblers had watched the weather forecast themselves, or their families had contacted them because the forecast made international headlines. The captain was visible every morning around the Café Latte-tudes coffee bar area to personally discuss concerns with the passengers. I saw him speak on the phone to a family member, assuring them their loved ones would be taken care of with safe passage, albeit a significantly revised itinerary. Way to go Captain Espen Been!!! Now that more sea days were added to our itinerary, the Cruise Directors staff stepped up and ensured there were activities throughout those days. There were several movies in the large performance theater so hundreds of passengers could enjoy them, dance lessons in the Centrum, extra musical entertainment throughout the day, etc. etc. Speaking of musical entertainment, Ron Kingston was a featured performer in the Quill and Compass Pub every night. He was amazing in his ability to connect with the audience and sing a variety of songs for all ages and from different cultures (American, Australia, New Zealand, British). It was kind of like a Piano Man singalong but with his voice, personality, and his guitar skills and unique sound system that really make the room rock. Was my go to event before bedtime. I signed up for the late dinner seating (8 pm) and requested to be seated at a large table. It did not disappoint. I’ve met Aussie friends for life. The food was very good, and by the second night my dinner cocktail was waiting for me upon arrival. There is an “upsell” for the high end steak and lobster dinners. Several table mates ordered the grilled lobster and were very pleased with it. The waiter and assistant waiter at table 505 were outstanding! A few nights I wanted to attend the 9 pm dance parties, and the staff at table 505 made sure my dinner was out in time for me to join in on the fun (I did skip dessert those evenings). I just told them when I was seated and they took care of the rest! The Radiance public areas look very good. The wait staff in bars and lounges were excellent. I discovered Angela in the Champagne Bar who makes an outstanding personalized espresso martini, which I enjoyed pre-dinner each evening. Simon in the Schooners Bar took good care of me during trivia events. And the bartenders in the Colony Club and the Centrum Lobby Bar on dance party nights never disappointed. There was a 50s/60s dance party, a 70s dance party and an 80s dance party on this cruise. Also a Dancing with the Stripes dance contest, where passengers selected at random are paired with crew members and the onlookers vote on the winners. The presentation of the flags from all employee nations onboard is not to be missed in the Centrum the last afternoon at sea. The casino on this cruise was totally nonsmoking, so I played there a few nights. Overall, I was even on the slot machines and roulette table, but the casino was empty most nights. Friendly, competent group of employees, however. This was cruise #13 for me, on various lines and itineraries. I had a wonderful time on the Radiance as a solo traveler, but I didn’t come for the floating theme park experience found on larger vessels. I came for the fun and the companionship of Aussies and others. I would do it again in a heartbeat, but it’s an 18 hour flight from Dallas, Texas, and I’m from North Carolina, so it may be some time before I’m back. Getting off the ship was a breeze, as I had the KEY package with a special program for the last morning. My bags were tagged differently and waiting for me in a designated area when I disembarked after a KEY breakfast in the dining room. I was staying on in Sydney for more time Down Under, so I didn’t feel rushed and took my time getting off the ship. As an aside, after the cruise ended, I did return to New Zealand on my own to experience the Fiordlands National Park and Milford Sound. Spent the night in Milford Sound on a vessel and tour operated by Real Journeys out of Queenstown NZ. Excellent weather….worth every dollar! Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
My only previous cruise experience was a 2 month voyage on Queen Victoria sailing from Sydney to Southampton. If I were to compare the experience with my voyage on Explorer of the seas I am highly impressed with my latest venture. I ... Read More
My only previous cruise experience was a 2 month voyage on Queen Victoria sailing from Sydney to Southampton. If I were to compare the experience with my voyage on Explorer of the seas I am highly impressed with my latest venture. I was pleased to find that the crew were so friendly and obliging. Our room attendant, Jasina, always had a smile for us and prepared our room spotlessly and at times that suited our comings and goings. We dined most evenings in the Sapphire Dining Room(level 3) and our group of 9 could not believe our luck to have our sensational waiters, Shival and Kisan. we all agreed that you could not wish to meet more friendly, courteous and professional gentlemen. After dinner we would enjoy listening to Liz on the piano, where we also met two more of your wonderful crew, Adriana and Rakanathwa. Congratulations to all and I look forward to maybe one day enjoying your company once more Read Less
10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
Cabin was 12583 - Virtual Balcony. Room was very small and virtual balcony hardly ever worked. We purchased THE KEY which apparently provides more benefits. Embarkation and Disembarkation were fast and easy thanks to the Key. We ... Read More
Cabin was 12583 - Virtual Balcony. Room was very small and virtual balcony hardly ever worked. We purchased THE KEY which apparently provides more benefits. Embarkation and Disembarkation were fast and easy thanks to the Key. We got some fruit in our room thanks to the Key. There was a special section in the theater for some shows for people who purchased the Key. Key holders were mean to be provided an express service when docking in places. This does not work when you have a short excursion booked via Royal Caribbean. We found the shore excursions booked via Royal were an utter shambles with how they 'organised' everything. The best dining on board were the specialty restaurants and they cannot be faulted. The buffet 'WindJammer' was however very hit and miss. The overall service by staff was very pleasant however at times felt that maybe management need to get onto the actual floor to see how hard the staff work with the minimal information they are provided. Be careful buying the products they sell when they have alleged sales ..a quick check of google confirmed watches were cheaper on Sydney than they were selling on board at an alleged up to 75% off. Overall it is a very large ship and did seem to attract some fairly low demographic type people. A quick walk through the smoking area on level 14 (in front of the buffet - dumb planning Royal) confirmed the amount of feral bogan's were alot more than anyone would want to cruise with. Found the whole Royal Caribbean experience on board Ovation average at best. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: March 2019
We went on this cruise as part of a group of 20. We have always wanted to cruise to new Zealand and RCI had some great prices so we eneded up on the Ovation. We went during the school term so children overload on board wasnt a problem ... Read More
We went on this cruise as part of a group of 20. We have always wanted to cruise to new Zealand and RCI had some great prices so we eneded up on the Ovation. We went during the school term so children overload on board wasnt a problem and there were plenty of activities for the kids and yong at heart to do. Some waiting in line is required at some activities such as the flow rider, dogem cars etc. It is a big ship and it carries a lot of people so sometimes you had to line up and wait which isnt a problem for us but it might be for some. Some of the Theatre shows were great, others I thought were average and there werent a lot of comedy shows, I love a good laugh. The Buffett is as always a challenge to get a seat especially when youre with a family so we generally stuck to the MDR.The MDR was fantastic, service was excellant and so was the food. Any dramas and the staff fixed it ASAP. My two main negatives- 1 The location of the smoking area was part of a main walkway and near the pool/family/kids area, surely it could be put somewhere more out of the way, where far fewer people are exposed to it. 2 The running/walking track 60-70% of the track is surrounded by sun chairs, and its located on proably one of the busiest decks on the ship, especially ner the back where the climbing wall and everything is, it becomes quite a choke point for people avoiding runners/walkers and everyone else. The amout of times I had to steer my kids around runners or felt like we were constantly in peoples way was amazing. That area was poorly planned. Overall the ship was good, lots to do and see. The service was great as were the staff. But if you dont like a lot of people or having to wait then this ship may not be for you, and most definately not during school holidays Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
I average 2-3 cruises a year on RCCL for the past 18 years. It seems that as the ships get bigger, the quality gets worse. I loved the two-week itinerary from Sydney around both the North and South Islands of New Zealand. It's an ... Read More
I average 2-3 cruises a year on RCCL for the past 18 years. It seems that as the ships get bigger, the quality gets worse. I loved the two-week itinerary from Sydney around both the North and South Islands of New Zealand. It's an amazing itinerary with great ports of call, so I can't fault that even a little. We had a balcony cabin. It was roomy with plenty of storage space and a nicely sized balcony. Our cabin steward was excellent. First, a tiny thing: The Cruise critic meet and greet was set for the first morning at 8 a.m. Really crappy time to have a meet and greet when many of the passengers flew 20+ hours and (in my case) 17 time zones to get there. Especially as launch time the night before wasn't until 9pm. I'm afraid to say I slept right through the meet and greet and I hate that! The ship itself is impressively huge. I'll give it that. But with very few exceptions, the artwork was very mundane. I usually love the stairwell art but other than maybe two or three pieces, they were similarly boring. Additionally, having artwork up and down those endless hallways keeps me entertained on most ships, but this one didn't have anything other than the same metal piece repeated a gazillion times up and down the hallways...put me to sleep by the time I got to my cabin! There were two interactive screens that were pretty cool...one that had butterflies on it that moved when you touched them and one set of screens that changed as you walked past. Someone working on the set of screens said that they stay broken most of the time because people pound on them and kick them. Unlike most boats that have fabulous views from most of the bars and venues, there is little of that on this boat. I get that this is due to the huge percentage of outside rooms and balcony rooms. I just miss being able to see outside. It reminded me of being inside a casino where you don't know if it's day or night. And that gives me a great segue into the staff: The bar staff at Vintages was comatose most nights. A group of us would meet there almost every evening to play cards or a game. We all had drink packages...but we had to practically beg for service. NOT ONCE did a waiter approach the table. Every single night we had to go up to the bar and ask to be served. There were three or four waiters standing around looking bored, but even after they'd serve us the drink we ordered at the bar, they'd ignore us the rest of the night. It wasn't ever crowded...never more than 20 people in there, but they just didn't care. The casino staff was even worse. The guy on the roulette table was rude and looked like he would rather eat his own hair than crack a smile or be nice to anyone. He didn't even bother to wave his hand over the wheel for last bets, he just mumbled something and then snapped at anyone who hadnt heard him. He kept looking around like he was embarrassed to even be there. The table dealers weren't much better...not a personality to be found among any of them. The food is getting worse on every cruise. I eat exclusively in the dining room at night. We were second seating and I'd say the dining room was only 30-50% full any particular night. The menu was almost identical every night. They'd have a different meat dish, pasta dish and fish dish each night and everything else was essentially the same. The steaks were small and tough, the chicken was identical regardless of what they called it, the desserts were boring. This is a tiny thing, but they don't even bother to change the flavor of the creme brulee each night...used to be one night was mango, one was Bailey's, etc...now it's vanilla creme brulee every night. And they had Mahi Mahi on the menu four or five different times, yet when we tried to order it we were told they didn't actually have it on board. Here's a suggestion: TAKE IT OFF THE MENU. Dining room staff was decent, but not great. It felt like maybe they were depressed at not having very many people to wait on. It was just a weird vibe all around. Another reviewer mentioned that no dress code standards were applied in the dining room. One formal night we watched a woman in a lovely dress arrive with a gentleman wearing raggy cutoff shorts, a sleeveless tee shirt and flip flops. I thought that was pretty bad until I saw another woman arrive on the other formal night wearing (I am NOT kidding): a bikini, flip flops and a very short, very sheer bathing suit cover-up. I am not a snob, but holy cow people, why why WHY? Windjammer: gets worse and worse all the time. It's not even worth the time it takes to type more about it than to say that it's standard cafeteria fare at best. Thank goodness for the pizza place. Entertainment: Pixels was the only show you could get reservations for. So we made reservations. I'm not sure why, because we got there (15 minutes before showtime) and they were letting anyone in, with or without a reservation. It was already standing room only, so we ended up standing in the back of the room. The Two-Seventy Lounge is obviously where RCCL put all their money, but it's a crappy venue for anything bigger than a few hundred people. There are huge lamps sporadically spaced through the room and huge pillars that block the view. The accoustics aren't great either. I've seen some excellent shows on board, but Pixels wasn't one of them. It was technically really cool...would love to know how much they paid for those huge articulated screens. But the show didn't make a lot of sense, there was no central theme to it, just a hodgepodge of music and an inexplicable video of an African rap group that made absolutely no sense and added nothing to the show. The tribute bands were good, but again, the venue was way too small and not conducive to good musical listening. What is with the "virtual symphony?" Seriously? I paid to be entertained...I can watch a symphony any day of the week on my own television with a better view and better sound quality. That was really cheesy. Would have loved more cultural talks about, for example, the history of Australia and NZ, or about the Aborigines of Aus or the Maori of NZ. There was one lady who talked about three Kiwi women, and it was okay, but I wanted more in depth inforrmation. The comedian was pretty funny...I saw the late night adult show. Was pretty shocked at the number of (unattended) children in the audience. Speaking of unattended children: People, why do you turn your children loose on a boat with 7000 strangers as if nothing bad could possibly happen to them? 7000 strangers who have access to private rooms and the ocean? What could possibly go wrong? Do people just completely lose their minds when they cross the gangway getting onto the ship? I have just one more complaint, and then I'll shut up: Dear Royal Caribbean: please stop wasting precious floor space for designer stores such as Cartier....during the entire cruise, I never saw anyone in there. What a supreme waste of real estate. People who shop at Cartier don't cruise on Royal Caribbean...they cruise on Seven Seas or one of the other upscale lines. How about opening a shop that carries sundries, convenience items and snacks? My roommate bought one of the three Snickers bars available in the liquor store on board and it had expired two years ago. I never book shore excursions through RCCL, so I didn't rate that. I will say, however, that at Bay of Islands, the docking area for the tenders was a half hour walk to anywhere. They had buses to take us from the dock to the town but those buses were used as school buses in the afternoon. So many people had to walk back to the tenders. And once we got there, there was a mammoth line of about an hour and a half to wait for the tenders. Somebody dropped the ball on that whole operation. It's a small town and with that many people descending on it, they need to plan better. I hate to be so negative...I had a great time on this cruise. But that was no thanks to Royal Caribbean. I hate to start back at zero status on another cruise line, but I think I just might. RCCL doesn't really give you anything worthwhile for high status anyway, so I probably won't miss my "status." Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
The Radiance of the Seas is a lovely ship, there was plenty going on with trivia and activities. The choices of dining experience for lunch and dinner were up too the individual you had the choice of the Windjammer buffet a help yourself ... Read More
The Radiance of the Seas is a lovely ship, there was plenty going on with trivia and activities. The choices of dining experience for lunch and dinner were up too the individual you had the choice of the Windjammer buffet a help yourself with plenty of choices (although getting a seat could be somewhat difficult)or if you wanted something a little more special the Cascades main dining room did lunch with menu choices. There was plenty of entertainment and activities going on and you could do as much or as little as you wanted to do. The staff/crew were as always working hard and were very polite and friendly, they always seemed to find the time to have a little chat, and made you feel so special. The port days were good and some lovely places were on our itinerary, with the choices of booking a trip or Making your own way round. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
I went on this cruise with a group of 10 friends. The ship, cabin Stewart, wait staff were awesome as was the entertainment. The food in the restaurants and cafes was just awful. Cold, tasteless and low quality. I literally starved ... Read More
I went on this cruise with a group of 10 friends. The ship, cabin Stewart, wait staff were awesome as was the entertainment. The food in the restaurants and cafes was just awful. Cold, tasteless and low quality. I literally starved when onboard. I ate off ship every chance I had. We had to order everything at once and the courses were pushed at us so we hurried. Except for after dinner coffee, good luck getting it. Even the bar drinks were bad but expensive. We were bombard every dinner with selling the dinners. The photographer interrupted us eating each time and was pushy. Since we had a big group it was fine getting photos taken then the last 2 nights all of a sudden we had to break into 2 groups, no large groups allowed??? At the start of the booking the rep put my birth date in the system wrong so I could never log in. After months of calling they finally realized the problem and in fixing it deleted my roomate and all they're excursions with discounts! When I called twice asking them to restore my roommates excursions and honor the price they said it's not their policy to do that, too bad. I had an awesome onboard credit I was told I could use on ship but it disappeared and guest services was no help when me I got My bill. They asked me if I had proof! It was showing online when I left for the trip. My friends had a horrible excursion guide in one port, had no clue what he was doing, couldn't answer questions, just dropped them places. Another one of their excursions, the guide didn't know they had to return to the ship by a specified time. My friends finally told her, she called her office and they told her to head back. The ship had to wait for them. Like I said the ship was nice, our cabin great but the food was disgusting and RC customer service is nonexistent. I'm hoping to NEVER do another Royal cruise. I have cruised since the 80s on many lines and have experience on what to realistically expect. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2019
Staff- amazing Ship-amazing Food-amazing Activities-amazing Shows-amazing State Room-amazing Overall - fantastically awesomely wonderfully AMAZING AMAZING AMAZING We will be on board again in December for the ... Read More
Staff- amazing Ship-amazing Food-amazing Activities-amazing Shows-amazing State Room-amazing Overall - fantastically awesomely wonderfully AMAZING AMAZING AMAZING We will be on board again in December for the Christmas cruise with family and friends and we are really looking forward to it. Hopefully we will meet up with some of the fantastic staff again. We will definitely be showing up for the bingo again. Didn't know bingo could be so much fun. We will also try out the dodgem cars next time as we missed them this time. The North Star was a highlight for me. The view out in Picton harbour was fantastic. Special mention to our wait staff in Chic restaurant I Wayan and Dedey their wonderful personalities was really something to look forward to as part of our restaurant experience, and healing about their home towns and customs was very interesting. We highly recommend a holiday on your wonderful OVATION OF THE SEAS. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2019
Chose this cruise as we came from the UK and thought we could take the opportunity to visit Sidney and New Zealand. Things NOT to like - too many people trying to upsell you someting. Main area of ship like an airport shopping area. ... Read More
Chose this cruise as we came from the UK and thought we could take the opportunity to visit Sidney and New Zealand. Things NOT to like - too many people trying to upsell you someting. Main area of ship like an airport shopping area. Evening bars are too close so you hear the different bands in whatever one you choosre meaning there is just a general noise. Second class entertainment in essance a floating Butlins. Overbearing service from restaurant staff who are after extra tips or a good review. If you do not put your 'do not disturb' sign on your door your room attendant will knock every 20 minutes for some reason or another. NO coffee in rooms ' why?? You get coffee in a Travelodge or Holiday Inn. Queues to get off or pn board. Herded on and off if pn an organised trip and have to be labelled with a sticker. Poor quality drinks not served ay correct temperature or in correct glass. Food tastes the same in all restaurants, not sure if it the oil it is cooked in or the sauce that it is all covered in. Very small portions, the food in the Windjammer buffet is so much better but you have ro serve yourself and everything is served in plastic. Pool and Solarium areas very crowded. Got on a sunbed outside when it was very hot and sunny and was asked to move because a big wind was coming. There was mo sigm of wind I think they just wanted everyone out of the way so they could prepare for the outside cinema show. Overpriced dtinks so that they could sell you a drinks package. Things to like about this cruise - getting off. New Zealand was amazing but did not get a greay amount of time to apprevoate. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: February 2019
This was a 10 night NZ cruise from Sydney. 10 nights means fewer ports but we had been before so it suited us. This was an excellent cruise. Although this ship is BIG (about 4,500 passengers) it has a lot of space and we never felt crowded ... Read More
This was a 10 night NZ cruise from Sydney. 10 nights means fewer ports but we had been before so it suited us. This was an excellent cruise. Although this ship is BIG (about 4,500 passengers) it has a lot of space and we never felt crowded at all. There are many bars, cafes and lounges that it was relatively easy to find a quiet spot any time. The staff were excellent, outstanding service. The food was amazing. This was our second Royal Caribbean cruise and we were not happy at all with the food on our first one but this one was top notch. We ate in Silk Restaurant most evening meals because we had excellent wait staff so booked our same table every night. Nothing was too much trouble for them.The buffet was one of the best we have come across in over a dozen cruises but it was very busy. This ship has the North Star (similar to London Eye or Melbourne Star except it just goes up and down. You can book this in advance of your cruise but every afternoon it was available for non bookings, you just needed to line up. Generally the wait was less than 30 minutes. It also has the wind tunnel parachute simulator. This is bookings only but we had no trouble getting a booking on the ship. They also have dodgem cars, amazing. This was line up only but again lines I saw were rarely more than 30 minute wait and the wait was well worth it. It has the wave pool and when the dodgem cars are not on the track it is used for roller skating (skates provided). All of these attractions are FREE. They have a cafe where you can buy coffee and cake but another cafe directly opposite it where coffee, tea and a small selection of cakes are free (instant coffee style percolated only here). The shops are all a bit high end but not bad for a ship. The robot drink maker is just a gimmick but plenty of people made their own drinks (at a significant cost). Our cabin (13178) was a balcony, very roomy and well set out. It has American style electrical outlets (two straight pins) so take an adapter. Entertainment was a bit heavy on comedians which is fine if you like that but this time the general entertainment was not up to the standard we have seen before. We generally buy our excursions from Viator.com or at the port because the ships (all ships) overcharge greatly. We have never missed the ship and the fact that ships tell you they won't wait if non ship tours are late shouldn't deter you. Most Viator or on land tours work their timings out to get you back well in time. The only place this was a problem was Dunedin. We wanted to do the train trip but the ship booked it out so it was either pay them about three times what it would cost buying direct or do something else, we did something else. They have a large fitness centre with plenty of modern exercise machines. All in all we had a great cruise on a great ship. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2019
We did a 10 day cruise form Sydney to New Zealand on Ovation. We are not "brand loyal" and have cruised with a variety of companies, this was our first with Royal Caribbean. Embarkation was straightforward. We we are able to ... Read More
We did a 10 day cruise form Sydney to New Zealand on Ovation. We are not "brand loyal" and have cruised with a variety of companies, this was our first with Royal Caribbean. Embarkation was straightforward. We we are able to drop bags off at 9 am and return to check in later. taking the opportunity to have an extra part-day sightseeing in Sydney. Our bags were outside our cabin (stateroom!) when we got on board. Our balcony cabin was modern, attractively decorated and comfortable. The beds were particularly comfortable. We found all the staff to be polite, friendly and helpful. The food was good, plenty of variety and choice, served hot. We enjoyed eating in the formal restaurants at lunchtime on sea day. We had anytime dining but they very quickly try and put you an a fixed table, we purposely swapped restaurants to avoid this. As a couple we were always given a table for 2 without question. Not so good if you actually like sharing sometimes to chat and meet new people. Tables are close to each other so we often talked to our neighbours. We are not huge fans of the marketplace cafe but did go in a couple of times. There was a good variety of food available although the usual struggle to find a table at peak times. We tried Wonderland and wished we had not, dark, slow service and a lot of noise from nearby bars. Not worth the extra cost, preferred the main dining. We had the drinks package. I bought it then saw it reduced so cancelled and re-purchased, got a refund in about a week and saved 15%. There was plenty to do in the evening with different entertainment offered. I was not a huge fan of the in house theatre performances, also I know many people like pixels but we really didn't. Not keen on the music or choreography - a bit to "out there". The piano player was great in schooners as were the band in the music hall. Great Bon Jovi tribute act a couple of nights and comedians flown in. Some of the Aussie humour was lost on us, but they were very good. Lots of things for families to do. I Imagine it is very busy with children in the school holidays. My only real complaint about this cruise is that the ports were small slightly out of town, accordingly you had to be taken in by bus. That meant queuing to get off in order to make the most of the shore time and in time for booked trips. Then anther long queue for the bus back. Wellington was very poor disembarkation. You had to queue to get tickets for the bus. I queued for an hour before the time we were told to collect tickets and got ticket number 4. That meant we got off fairly quick. Others we spoke to got ticket 57 which meant less than 2 hours in Wellington. I may be British but I don't actually like queuing and did not enjoy spend so much time doing so. The issue is Ovation is really too big for the tiny ports it visited. I arranged all my own trips through Viator and they all worked out. People who had not booked trips struggled to do so on the day owing to numbers and availability. Book in advance is my advice. Loved Dunedin and our trip round the Otago peninsular Did our own thing in Wellington and got to see all the main sights including going up the cable car. Wine tasting tour in Picton was great. Napier probably my least favourite port but still interesting. The trip though the sounds was great as was the commentary and lecture that accompanied it. Overall a great holiday and worth the long flight to see Sydney and NZ. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2019
This cruise embarked from Melbourne Australia and headed to New Zealand. The ship toured the beautiful New Zealand fiords on the southwest coast. It then stopped at New Zealand cities on the country's east coast. We'd stongly ... Read More
This cruise embarked from Melbourne Australia and headed to New Zealand. The ship toured the beautiful New Zealand fiords on the southwest coast. It then stopped at New Zealand cities on the country's east coast. We'd stongly advise others to allocate several days before and after the cruise to enjoy Melbourne and Sidney. Embarkation was slow with long lines at each stage of the process. Overall from arriving at the dock to walking onto the boat was a bit over two hours. Overall, the Radiance of the Seas was above average. The ship carries 2,600 people so it is not as crowded as newer mega-cruisers. While the ship is twenty years old, the interior is modern and clean. One BIG problem is that there are no laundry rooms on board. One can use the ship's clothes cleaning service but it is $35 to wash a small bag of clothes. The passengers were largely in their 50s and 60s. I'd guess that there were only about two dozen children on the entire boat. About 60% of the passengers were Australian. That was nice because us Yanks could meet the Aussies and learn a lot about where they were from and what their lives are like. Food was consistently good both in dining rooms and in the buffet. One nicety was that if something was desired that was not on display or on the menu, the crew gladly provided it. We try to eat healthy when traveling. At dinner we'd often order a fresh vegetable plate in addition to our off-the-menu choices. We'd receive a steaming hot plate of broccoli, asparagus, carrots, and spinach. At the morning buffet, I'd often get a made to order omelet and rather than have the sausage or bacon, I'd ask a crewmember to bring a plate of smoked salmon. Our inside cabin was larger than cabins we've had on Princess and Celebrity ships. My wife always takes a midday nap. Our cabin was made up twice daily so we always had made beds. We attended a lot of shows. Visiting entertainers were good. There was a gifted pianist, a comedian that did impersonations, and a magician. However, while the dancers in the ships resident song and dance troupe were remarkably talented, the singers were about as good as one might hear at a high school musical. There were all the usual ship events - games, contests, shopping, etc. There were two whiskey tasting events that were free and fairly generous with the samples. New Zealand is a beautiful country. Seeing It is well worth the long flight from the US. We found New Zealander's to be informal and friendly. They like their country and are happy to show it off and to talk about it. Our favorite stop was Dunedin, a smallish city in South New Zealand. We visited a brewery and sampled the fabulous New Zealand beer. We also took a wildlife excursion and saw a rare albatross rookery (the only such nesting site on a mainland) and fur seals that were still nursing their rambunctious pups. Wellington, the national capital was fun, too. We tried meat pies and had coffee and dessert pastries at a little lunch spot across the street from the government buildings. Our ship was supposed to stop at Ashburton but could not due to high winds and rough seas. We also spend a day at Picton, a little resort town with a marina. We didn't find much to do at Picton so we hiked and visited a grocery store where we bought a few made in New Zealand foods and some local beers to bring home. Our cruise was in late February and early March which is fall in New Zealand. We were glad we did. The weather, overall, was sunny blue skies and most days were cool but one didn't need a coat. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2019
This was our second time on the Radiance, third time around NZ, but first time cruising with friends (deliberately). Our very first cruise was on Radiance back in '08 in Alaska. That has got us hooked unto cruising so it was going to ... Read More
This was our second time on the Radiance, third time around NZ, but first time cruising with friends (deliberately). Our very first cruise was on Radiance back in '08 in Alaska. That has got us hooked unto cruising so it was going to be interesting to come back after several cruises, with a few companies,and to compare. Also we planned this with a few friends of our age group. OK, staring at the start, we were a bit worried about Melbourne as a departure point. Melbourne is not usually a customs clearance point, so we were worried a little about the whole check in process. We shouldn't have been, it may have been a fraction slower, but not really noticeable. We went through a faster lane, which was very quick, our friends though had to come through the standard lines, which did take close to an hour. I think this was because everyone came at the same time, and there were a lot more without C & A privileges, which meant the queues were longer than normal. We got our rooms pretty much on 1pm, and we also sorted out our first night dining with our friends. We then went for a bit of an explore, and that first cocktail. The ship had changed slightly, but not a lot. Other reviews talked about it ageing, and showing signs of wear and tear. She is now 18 years old, and due for another refresh in a few months. If you looked hard, yes you could find things to comment on (and as an ex-mariner you could find fault everywhere if you wanted to), but the important thing was it was clean and tidy, the crew worked well to keep the presentation to a good standard, and nothing was falling apart. Food - this is a major part of the trip. We ate in the Windjammer, Main Dining Room (fixed times), Chops, Giovanni's and Samba restaurants, and the Park Cafe. The food in all the areas was very good. We did enjoy the food at Chops the best, but in reality it was all good, and came with great service. Tip for those at Sambas, its a marathon - not a sprint (there are seven meat courses, so pace yourself). The service as usual was spot on. Were were especially fond of out MDR staff who were very attentive, friendly, and just good fun to talk to. Windjammers, of course, could be busy, and you had to pick your times a little, but we could also take the food out onto the stern area, or to other quieter places if necessary. Park Cafe had changed a little and you could now get a nice salad there during the day. Lastly the guys at Cafe Latte-tudes were really good and friendly (if you didn't try to take advantage of them like some passengers did). Room - we had room 8088. it has the larger balcony on the hump. The interior of the room is the same as most balcony rooms, and spacious enough for us. The balcony was fantastic, and was spacious enough for outside lounges, we just couldn't get any (a disappointment). This would be a joy on those longer ocean voyages. There was a down side (and it has been raised in the past) that you can hear the music from the Centrum At night it can go up to 10:30pm. What you hear is the bass thump of the music. During the day its not too bad (quieter music or events) but there are some major parties in the evening. Good thing is, if you are at the party you don't mind, and after 10:30ish it dies away and it is fine. I would probably book this room again if on a long cruise. The cabin staff were again spot on. Unobtrusive, but there when you needed them. Entertainment - being that we were with friends this time, we were quite happy to do our own things. The shows were good to very good (but not excellent), the musical tams moving around the boat were very good, and we enjoyed them immensely. The cruise staff were fantastic. We made friends with several of them, and we had a good time. It was really funny watching one of the team (all of about 23 years old) trying to run a music quiz with 60s or 70s music when she freely admitted her parents weren't even born then, while many of us lived through it! She did a great job. The biggest disappoint was the poor entertainment up in Starquest late at night. Basically preplanned music most nights. so no real soul to the place. New Zealand - Fan-bloody-tastic!! The fiordlands, Dunedin, Wellington and Picton were all magic, beautiful scenario, culture, history and people!! Unfortunately the weather did not permit tendering at Akaroa, a disappointment, but the crew compensated with an afternoon of quickly revised entertainment. NZ never disappoints and the beauty of Milford, Dusky and Doubtful sounds was awesome. A running commentary from an NZ Parks Officer made all the difference. I could go on for a while, but NZ is beautiful, and even in Wellington (one of their largest cities) the people are friendly and will tell you all about their culture or point to you to an ATM, nothing was too much for them. We didn't book any excursions through RCI as they were way (WAY) too expensive. We did have an idea of what wee wanted though, so we were able to sort ourselves out quickly once we got there. We were very lucky crossing the Tasman (twice) the weather gods were great to us, and made the trip so much enjoyable. As usual the staff made a big difference, there attentiveness, smiles and service are also an attraction for us on RCI. The ship may be getting old, but it is by no means overtly noticeable. The food was of a high standard, with some items being repeated on the menus, but changes were made every day, and that was enough (always too many options). Dietary requirements mentioned on the first day were relayed to all our restaurant bookings (a good touch). There was always some entertainment available, but with good friends and a number out out-of-the-way spots, you could just ave fun passing the time. The disembarkation at Sydney was smooth, and we were out of the terminal (and back to the real world) quickly. We will be back!!! Service, food and entertainment is just how we like it. Thanks! Read Less
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