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69 South Pacific Holiday Cruise Reviews

Embarkment : no problems and very quick. Room, lovely room with extended balcony, our cabin boy was excellent and have no complaints in that area at all, room was always clean with fresh towels and turned down every night. Dining,, ... Read More
Embarkment : no problems and very quick. Room, lovely room with extended balcony, our cabin boy was excellent and have no complaints in that area at all, room was always clean with fresh towels and turned down every night. Dining,, wonderful, dining room had great meals and entertainment every night , buffet was great and 24hr pizza, entertainment, great entertainment except some shows where on at the same time as the deck parties and ended up missing one or the other. Lots of children who at times where not supervised which meant a few of injuries. Running around on a wet pool deck and stairs will do that. Overall a great cruise and I would recommended to anyone considering canival spirit. Read Less
Sail Date December 2013
As others on this cruise have written, it was generally great, with a few negatives. Although it was full of Australians enjoying Christmas, this is basically a ship offering an American cultural experience. This means that a lot of things ... Read More
As others on this cruise have written, it was generally great, with a few negatives. Although it was full of Australians enjoying Christmas, this is basically a ship offering an American cultural experience. This means that a lot of things one takes for granted are simply not available - there is NO decent coffee on board, not even at the cafe, and it is impossible to get a decent cup of tea because the water is always tepid. As far as Christmas food is concerned, there was no effort to provide a decent Christmas lunch/dinner with the normal foods Australians expect such as hot and cold turkey, sea-food salads, plum pudding and so on. It is true there was ham on one evening menu and at the buffet, but overall it didn't feel like Christmas and the constant Musak carols in every corner of the ship only was irritating. Overall, though, the food was very good to excellent, although the Mexican and Japanese offerings were just adequate and only available at night. Drink prices (without a "package") were OK but we did end up spending a great deal more on cocktails than we expected. Everything was kept spotlessly clean, the cabin service (and attendants) were great, as were most of the service staff, the Solarium pool was lovely although not big enough, the entertainment was okay to good (classical musicians were lovely) and the embarkation and tendering process was well-organised and unstressful. There really needed to be some "quiet" spaces - the pre-recorded music selections was pretty blah and some groups were loud and raucous by early afternoon. Cabin comfort was good but the bathrooms were very minimal and as noted there were no proper toiletries provided. The Royal Carribean "style" has its own logic and if you don't mind things being slightly tacky and, for Australian tastes, over the top, it was a lot of fun. Read Less
Sail Date December 2013
I thought it only fitting to let other cruisers know of our experience on the Voyager of the seas coming in to view at Circular Quay was a sight to be hold she was magnificent and just added to my excitemen embarkation was a bit hectic but ... Read More
I thought it only fitting to let other cruisers know of our experience on the Voyager of the seas coming in to view at Circular Quay was a sight to be hold she was magnificent and just added to my excitemen embarkation was a bit hectic but with over 3000 passengers to get boarded it was handled well and with consideration .. We did the Xmas cruise as I wanted to be spoilt no setting up trees and no cleaning and cooking for a large family just wanted time for us for once I was hoping my expectations weren't to high.... The minute I saw the biggest Xmas tree in the promenade My face lit up and I new this was going to be a Xmas to remember.. By the way the promenade is a street replica with a pub cafes and even a sports car I just couldn't believe my eyes.. The decor was plush and the upkeep of the ship in all areas was spotless..... The staff work very hard at maintaining her glamorous look and were always ready with a smile..... Now for our cabin .. Never had a balcony before on other ships so I couldn't contain my excitement it was just as I had hoped and the bed almost the size of a king...plenty of cupboard space and every woman's wish a full length mirror.... It was spotlessly clean and the shower was surprisingly good considering your on a ship with a large amount of guests.... so I'm thinking so far everything is perfect something must be bad so decided to head up to deck 11 to Windjammers for lunch..... It's huge all manner of food from hot dishes pastas salads desserts to much to name...... With a view to die for....... The food was tasty hot when needed and cold meats and salads fresh and crisp .... This place was so good that we preferred to eat here most of the cruise... The main dining room was beautiful and a high light was when all the waiters and bar staff sang for us all . It was a sight to see and hear..... So by now you would be thinking like me there must be something bad so I will go on to the entertainment.... Well they have guest comedians singers and the ships dancers and singers were all great and enjoyed our selves at them all .... The ice skating show is not to be missed.. It was spectacular ... My favourite the parade by all the Disney Madigastertheme ... The children's faces were a wonderful sight and I thank the Voyager staff for giving me back a little bit of my child hood the staff were exceptional in all they do including games out on the pool decks rock climbing wall and mini put put....... I can't comment on the kids clubs as we are grand parents and had no kids with us but by my observation and speaking with guests that did they had a ball .... Still no negatives you ask well as I'm finally at the end but believe me I could go on for longer about this Magnificent ship but I won't ........ok there is one gripe people smoking on the none smoking side and if you tell them not to .. They don't care so rather than argue we just moved this happened a lot ..... So my one and only gripe for this whole 9 night cruise ... That's it not bad hey........ Would My husband and I sail on Voyager Of The Seas again......in a heart beat ..... So like us go with out to much expectation and let this beautiful ship surprise you.... She did me I'm still smiling Read Less
Sail Date December 2013
You get what you pay for. Although the price for this cruise was reasonable, in the end I would have paid a little bit extra to go with someone else. We have traveled both with Princess and Royal Caribbean, Carnival do not even come ... Read More
You get what you pay for. Although the price for this cruise was reasonable, in the end I would have paid a little bit extra to go with someone else. We have traveled both with Princess and Royal Caribbean, Carnival do not even come close to them in terms of service and facilities.The set up of the buffet is confusing and variety of food is poor, not to mention operating times were inconvenient to say the least. Service was slow in the main dinning room having nearly finished our meal by the time the drinks waiter made it to our table. The decor was some what depressing compared to the airy feeling of both Princess and Royal Caribbean , feels like you are trapped in a mummy's tomb! The cabin (interior) was ok...not much you can stuff up there, and staff were much the same in terms of service as anywhere else. Buffet times were also a point of contention. The layout is the main problem as you seem to wonder around looking for seating. On other trips the buffet operates practically 24hrs, but on carnival for only a small window around lunchtime and then the "buffet closed" signs come up. Feeling pekish between lunch and dinner? Forget it! Entertainment was nothing to write home about, the magic show being the exception. What really was annoying was the tendering setup. It took hours to get off the ship with only two tenders operating at one time. There were people still getting off as we were making our way back in the afternoon! At the isle of pines people were left waiting in the que in the pouring rain for over an hour as only two slow tenders came and went. Shore excursions are much the same as anywhere else ( a ripoff). If the kids are looking forward to using the water slides, then don't get their hopes up as they only operated for a couple of days out of the eight. There is no poolside entertainment apart from a lone and bored looking dj churning out distorted tunes for half the day The only positive I can mention is the non compulsory tipping, but drink prices are more expensive to cover this. We love cruising but couldn't wait to get of this one. Read Less
Sail Date June 2013
I'll start by saying that I am a frequent cruiser and this was my 50th cruise overall. Mostly with Princess and P&O Cruises (UK and Australia). Carnival have just started cruising out of Sydney to the South Pacific and to New ... Read More
I'll start by saying that I am a frequent cruiser and this was my 50th cruise overall. Mostly with Princess and P&O Cruises (UK and Australia). Carnival have just started cruising out of Sydney to the South Pacific and to New Zealand. My friend and I stayed a couple of nights before at the Sofitel in Sydney before we embarked on our cruise. Our hotel was close to the terminal, and we could have easily have walked to the Overseas Passenger Terminal in Circular Quay. We decided to take a cab, as it would be less stressful. I booked this cruise with an idea that it would be a different style of cruising compared to previous experiences. My last cruise before this one was on P&O Australia's Pacific Jewel. I will not return to P&O (unless the price is right!) because of their poor quality food and the age of their ships. I wanted something newer and larger than P&O can offer, and this is where Carnival fitted in nicely with newer ships and hopefully better food. Our embarkation was a breeze, we had a 12:30pm-1:00pm check in time, due to the fact that we had a Vista Suite on deck 6 (6260). We arrived by cab and our baggage was taken from us and we were shown into the terminal building. We had forgotten to fill in the departure cards, and therefore this took us an additional 5 minutes that we need not have wasted. We were shown up to the check in counter, where the VIP line was. We only waited 20 seconds before being called. There was an issue with my friends passport, as he is German and their computers didn't want to recognise it. However this was sorted and we were on our way through security and onto the ship in no time. Our cabin was a Vista Suite, and to be honest, it looked like it had been designed by a 3 year old child. There were doors that were pointless, the entrance hall seemed to be the biggest part of the cabin, as this was long and narrow. The best thing about this cabin was the Balcony and Bathroom. The balcony was huge and had 2 loungers, 2 chairs and a table on it. It was nearly as big as the cabin!! It was long and narrow, not wide and short. The furnishings in the cabin were fine, and had the correct Australian plugs etc. The beds were comfy and although in a twin formation, they were large enough for someone like myself (201cm tall). The TV's and electricals had been changed for the Australian market. Our cabin steward was to say the least, VERY average. I tipped him $50 on the first day, and asked him to take care of us, with the promise that if he did, there would be another tip at the end of the cruise. He wasn't bad, just not really efficient. I had to remind him several times to collect my dry cleaning, and also he would sometimes wait till much later to clean the cabin. On one occasion, we slept in and lazed around the balcony till 2pm. I understand that they need a break, and by 8pm the cabin still hadn't been made up. On our return at 9:30pm he was just finishing. Not satisfactory if you're in a suite. The suite does NOT come with any perks. No priority tender service from the ship, no extra cocktail parties, no offers of a dining reservation with senior members of the ships company, and no priority disembarkation. This to me was the worst part about the cruise. I know I sound like the complaining type, but honestly, if you cruise with other lines this comes as standard (even Princess and P&O, Which are under the companies umbrella). Dining was a mix of very good and awful, some nights the food was just not up to scratch, and others it was amazing. I think that the food overall was much better than P&O (Australia). the BEST thing was the chocolate melting cake... We had that every night, and shared another dessert between us. Soups were generally good, and on a couple of occasions the beef was excellent. Our table waters were AMAZING. They did a good job of making sure that each table got to order first at least once or twice during the cruise. Andrej was a mind reader, he made sure that we were always happy with our food, and once or twice went back into the kitchen to get a fresh dish, when the dish was cold. Nothing was too much trouble for him, and he made dining a pleasure. I can't remember his sidekicks name, but he was friendly and always seemed to be doing a good job. I must congratulate Andrej for his efforts. He was one of the senior waiters, and during the day he was in charge of the buffet. We dined in the steakhouse on one occasion and paid a $35 supplement to do so. The food was good, however the service was not on par with the dining room downstairs. We decided to cancel our second visit, as although the food was good (and large portions!) the poor quality of the wait staff made us change our mind. The ship can be a little visually challenging from the inside. The overall design of the ship is good, and easy to navigate around. I got very confused by the deck numbers, as normally deck 7 is the promenade, on the spirit, this is deck 3! I think the interior designer must have been on some rather large trip when he planned the interior. It took a couple of days to adjust to the gawdyness, before accepting it and just treating it as normal. The serenity area (Adults only) is a great place to hang around during sea days. There are plenty of loungers and a spa and pool. The bar was also very well used here during our cruise. Live music happened sometimes, and this was a good change from piped music that you normally get. The best thing was it was kid free. The buffet was very standard, nothing special and not really of good quality. However a special mention to the 24 hour pizza place and the free flow "Mr whippy" ice-cream machine! I also liked the fact that during the day, you could always get a lemon squash or iced tea. I purchased a soda card and felt this to be very good value at $7 per day. Our ports of call included Isle of Pines, Noumea, Lefou and Mare. We took the beach tour in Lefou as I had done this previously and found the beach to be amazing. This time however, a storm had come through and it wasn't as good as my two previous visits. We also took a tour in Mare to the beach, and this was great. In Noumea it was a Sunday, and everything was shut. I stayed on the ship and my friend ventured ashore, only to return 40 minutes later as there was nothing open. Isle of pines we just swam from where the tender landed. Nice beaches on this trip! Entertainment was actually quite good. We went to several shows, including the hypnotist. He was quite funny but was also inappropriate with the ladies during the adult only shows. I think the words.. God's gift comes to mind. Many other passengers thought he was very creepy. Comedy shows were ok,. but the live music and shows were of a better standard that expected. Overall we had a great time, some good points (waiter, some meals onboard, good ports of call) and some bad points (no suite perks, having to queue for tenders for over 2 hours! and some disappointing food on some occasions.) I've booked to go back in September with another friend of mine, this time in a Grand Suite which, hopefully is better laid out than the Vista Suite and I get a better cabin steward! Read Less
Sail Date April 2013
Just got back yesterday - we were really surprised at how fantastic the Cruise was! We thought only boring old farts went on Cruises - well, yes they do but lots of other fun, young people do too! The weather was cloudy/rainy for the ... Read More
Just got back yesterday - we were really surprised at how fantastic the Cruise was! We thought only boring old farts went on Cruises - well, yes they do but lots of other fun, young people do too! The weather was cloudy/rainy for the first few days but then the sun came out and it was all so perfect. We had a cabin right at the pointy end of the ship on Deck 2 - we actually loved being able to really feel like we were on a boat (think crashing waves, portholes, lots of motion from the ocean and being able to feel like the anchor was coming down right through the centre of our cabin!), even though I got seasick the first night, some free Bonine from Guest Services fixed that immediately. The staff are beyond excellent - Abdul we love you and wish you could've come home with us! The place is sparkling clean all the time, everywhere without exception. The food in the buffet was fabulous; the food in the Edelweiss dining room was beyond excellent; Chops Grille was outstanding (OMG the creme brulee on fire was to die for) and the Chef's Table was like we'd died and gone to heaven! The snorkelling at the Isle of Pines was amazing - definitely go to the left of the sacred rock - forget about the right hand side. Snorkelling at Mystery Island was awesome - walk to the far side of the island and head right towards the tip - reefs right up to the beach - awesome. Lifou snorkelling was absolutely amazing - walk straight up the hill above the little marketplace then turn left at the T intersection until you get to the empty carpark area and then aim diagonally downhill to find a whole bunch of locals set up selling chips and soft drinks, plus hiring out snorkelling gear, and a new set of steps down to the most incredible reefs I have seen (better than Australia sorry guys!). Port Vila was awesome - we opted to get a taxi to the Holiday Inn (sounds daggy - is the most amazing resort ever love love love) and spent the day swimming, going to the Spa and chilling out. Noumea was great for shoe shopping and Lemon Bay is awesome. Forget the excursions just buy a $10 Hop on Hop off bus ticket and go everywhere all day. Great cafes opposite Lemon Bay too. Entertainment was first class every night; the movies were great; the casino was crap unless you like Blackjack and Slots (we don't), the Solarium Pool area was fabulous when it was raining with the big glass roof overhead and even more fabulous with the roof completely open and the perfect blue sky above! What more can I say - we are booking our next Cruise already! Royal Caribbean get our vote every time. Cost us about $2500 for 11 days plus we only spent $350 between two of us on drinks and gifts which is pretty good even though we had several cocktails every day! Drinks start at about $5 for beer, $6.75 for Torched Cherry Cocktails and wine for about $7 a glass - cheap! If you want to feel like you're Royalty then do a cruise with RCL - the staff were unbelievable. We loved every minute. Happy to answer questions if you have specifics. Happy Cruisin'! Read Less
Sail Date March 2013
A little about us first, my husband is in his sixties and I am 55, we have cruised over 20 times on numerous lines from the 320 passenger Paul Gaugian to the Queen Mary. We cruise two to three times a year departing from different ports ... Read More
A little about us first, my husband is in his sixties and I am 55, we have cruised over 20 times on numerous lines from the 320 passenger Paul Gaugian to the Queen Mary. We cruise two to three times a year departing from different ports around the world, our cruises range from 12-22 days. This was our second cruise with HAL, our first being on the Volendam. We had booked an SY guarantee and were lucky enough to get an up-sell to a SA suite. EMBARKATION/SUITE Our embarkation point was originally to be the overseas passenger terminal in Sydney but because of issues related to the Australia Day Celebrations the ship docked in the Darling Harbour area. Passengers were informed that due to the later arrival of the Oosterdam boarding would not commence until 1.00pm. We arrived at the wharf just after 11.00am and handed in our suitcases. We were one of the first to check in as we had priority boarding however the process was delayed due to a breakdown with the computer system, once checked in it was suggested that we go for a walk and have a look at the local area and return after 1.00pm. We decided to wait it out and were allowed to board at 12.30pm, we were met with smiles as we boarded and given directions to out suite. In the past we have normally had verandah cabins and this was our third experience in a suite. Dennis and I were very impressed with our room, en suite with double basins, separate shower and jacuzzi, we fell in love with our large balcony and spent a lot of time out there. Opposite our cabin was the Neptune Lounge which became our second home over the next 11 days, the Neptune lounge is exclusively for the use of Penthouse and Deluxe veranda suite guests,we would drop in for cold drinks, coffee, tea and nibbles throughout the day and were looked after by the fabulous Diane and Essay who were always so welcoming and remembered our names from the first day! We availed ourselves of the light lunch most days and canapes in the afternoon to get us through to dinner. On our previous cruises we have not really taken advantage of room service however with the larger balcony most nights we ordered dinner from the Main Dining room menu and ate on our balcony as the sun set! It was truly magical. Room service normally quoted a wait of 45 minutes but in reality it was never more than a 30 minute wait, the food always arrived hot and very well presented. Suite guests also have the benefit of enjoying breakfast in the Pinnacle grill, a very refined and soothing experience, staff were great and always remembered our names and beverage preferences, some mornings we just enjoyed room service and ate on the balcony. We ate at the Pinnacle Grill one night and the food, ambiance and service were surreal, it was our 20th wedding anniversary and one we will always remember. ENTERTAINMENT We attended a couple of shows and really enjoyed them, we found the venue to be well laid out and never had any problems seeing the stage from the circle, drink service was very efficient. STAFF From our arrival until that sad final walk down the gangway we found the staff to be excellent, always willing to chat and ask how our day in port had been, our room stewards Ary and Bagus were excellent and took very good care of us. THE SHIP we loved the Oosterdam, loved the bright colours, art work, lamps and everything else about her, we liked that there were many little bars and no large atrium where crowds tend to gather. Thinking back the only thing I think I would change would be the lounge/cafe/library/computer room/bar at the top front of the ship, just make it a lounge with bar and move the cafe, library and computes elsewhere. We found the Oosterdam to be sparkling clean and there always seemed to be staff cleaning, yes she could do with some minor updates but we love her as she is. THE FOOD We really enjoyed the food as previously mentioned, our couple of visits to the MDR were not disappointing, we were on select dining but never had to wait for more than 10 minutes. I cannot comment on the buffet lunches as we would normally eat in the Neptune Lounge. PORTS We had six ports, we missed one due to weather, two of the ports were tender and three docked. Tender process was not a problem for us as we had priority tendering. Our favourite port was the Ile de Pins in New Caledonia, a superb beach and the softest sand. We did not do any of the ships excursions, this cruise was about lying on beautiful beaches and relaxing. THE END With heavy hearts we left the Oosterdam with promises to return, this has been one of our favourite cruises and one we will not forget. There is something about the Oosterdam that endears her to us, can't put a finger on it but we will return again for her to work her magic on us. Marina and Dennis Read Less
Sail Date January 2013
Hi everyone, I just returned from my second cruise on Rhapsody of the Seas, I first sailed on her in November 2011 before she was refurbished and then again in December 2012 on the Christmas Cruise for 10 nights travelling to the South ... Read More
Hi everyone, I just returned from my second cruise on Rhapsody of the Seas, I first sailed on her in November 2011 before she was refurbished and then again in December 2012 on the Christmas Cruise for 10 nights travelling to the South Pacific, my wife is partly disabled and can't walk for long distances and needs to use a wheelchair as well as being large, so a standard stateroom is too small for her so we booked disabled stateroom 2102 on deck 2. THE STATEROOM This was a category F, lower class stateroom on Deck 2 with a window. We really liked it, it was large at 254 square feet, about 20 square feet smaller than a junior suite but without a balcony. It had plenty of room for a wheelchair and walking room around everything, features a queen bed ( 2 singles joined together which felt more like a king size bed ), ample room but the mattress was a little too firm for our liking and the pillows felt like we were sleeping on rocks, hence we had stiff necks in the morning and sore backs but for what its worth, any bed outside of your home will never be like your sweet home bed. The bathroom was very spacious featuring a large disabled shower, with a shower chair that folded down on the wall as well as a free standing shower chair, flexible and fully adjustable shower head and outstanding water pressure and temperature control, I only wish our home shower was this good. We had a fridge in our room but we had to request that at the time of booking so I could store my insulin as I am diabetic, lower class staterooms on Rhapsody do not come with fridges but they give you a minibar featuring the coca cola range and spring water WITHOUT A FRIDGE in low class, I think that's ridiculous without a fridge as standard, I mean who wants to drink warm coke! We had a Samsung 24 inch flat t.v panel in the room which was part of the ships refurb which was excellent, first cruise we did on Rhapsody we had this old 12 inch boxy Sony trinitron old school crt television which you could hardly see a thing on, the new T.Vs are a definite improvement and the channel line up was better featuring several channels plugging Royal Caribbean programming and propaganda as well as an action movie channel, Turner Classic Movies TCM, a news channel, ESPN sports, Australia Network,a channel featuring American CBS network programming which included Hawaii Five O, Cartoon Network, another movie channel and a few useless french channels, the movie channels ran in a loop replaying the same line up of movies each day, on this cruise a few Christmas themed. The channel line up and variety could be improved,but then you are meant to be out of your cabin a lot. Our stateroom attendant, "I made", a native Philipian was excellent, he could not help us enough and at times my wife was sick with back and muscle problems and stayed in the cabin, he always checked on her while I was out and about and always ready to help us. THE SHIP AND ACTIVITIES On this cruise the ship was packed to cpacity, 2260 passengers, it could get rather crowded in the Centrum, the central area of the ship which starts on Deck 4 and is 6 stories high and is the main activity hive of the ship for music and demonstrations on cooking etc. I found there was excessive art auctions on this cruise occupying the Centrum during the day, where really you wanted to sit in quiet and relax, I found the auctions annoying, there were other areas of the ship such as one of the dance lounges where this activity could be tucked away out of sight, for the record most of the auctions I heard were passed in and nobody bought the art. The Centrum was one of the main areas that was refurbished and was very nice, featuring colour changing lighting and an area above were trapeze artists from the crew perform, on this cruise they performed 3 times briefly but you really did not see that much of them. At night the Centrum was a hive of activity with dance contests and live music/singers and it was very crowded, impossible to get a seat there most nights so we went back to our cabin to relax. On the pool deck, Deck 9 another refurb was the giant movie screen above the main pool, they only played one movie on it the whole cruise at night "Finding Nemo" and the rest of the time they played tropical and ocean scenery in a continuous loop day and night. THE NEW SPECIALITY RESTAURANTS - THE THINGS THAT DON'T COME FREE Rhapsody had 3 new restaurants aboard her, Giovanni's Table, Izumi, and Chops Grill. We were fortunate enough to dine one night ( it was our 4th wedding anniversary ) at Giovanni's Table, a 50 seat Italian Tuscan style restaurant that costs $20 USD EXTRA PER HEAD TO DINE THERE. We found this well worth it, not only was the food excellent, there was mountains of it, we dined on a 5 course meal and our stomachs were bursting at the seams well before the finish of it. We recommend Giovanni's Table, its worth the extra you pay for it, its food is well above the standard of the main dining room and the buffet and we advise pre-booking this before you board the ship to get a seat as it only serves lunch and dinner ( the menu's are different for lunch and dinner ) and can only hold 50 people at a time, its located on Deck 6 at the back of the Schooner Bar. THE ON BOARD ENTERTAINMENT We found apart from the new carpet, the 1200 seat Broadway Melodies theatre on 2 levels on Decks 5 and 6 at the front of the ship had not really changed that much, as for the shows, they had several guest entertainers, the second night we had a U.S artist buy the name of Bruce Parker who sang tributes to the great crooners such as Frank Sinatra and songs from the 50's and 60's mixed in with a bit of comedy, he was really good and has worked with famous artists such as Michael Jackson on background vocals etc., that was a good show. Then there were the standard Royal Carribean dancers and singing troupe with their headliner shows which had not changed from our previous cruise, with themes such as country and western and 50's rock and roll, they were good but when you have seen it all before it can get a little tedious. Overall there was a mix of other activities during the day aimed at the older age group 30 to 60 such as scrap booking and jewellery making which my wife did, trivia contests, bingo which at $32 for 4 games was too expensive to play, belly dancing, those pain in the butt art auctions etc. I am 48 year old man and got bored on the ship and started hanging out in the casino too much but fortunately my wins mostly balanced my losses and I only ended up loosing $100 for a 10 day cruise which was not bad but the casino can be very costly and my advice is stay out and find something better to do if you can. THE FOOD Well its American style food cooked in the American Way, I had my mother-in-law with us on this cruise and she complained she did not like any of the food, the woman is a very fussy eater and whined when the meat was rare and underdone and I could have pushed her over the side as she whined too much, the food is okay, it will never win any Michelin Stars and get bagged by Gordon Ramsay but this is a middle of the range cruise line and your not paying for paying to eat top class food in a top class restaurant, its suites most peoples tastes, the Windjammer buffet can wear you down thin with the food range some nights and the fine dining in the Edelweiss Restaurant, although being better quality food, it serves a la carte small size portions that leave you wanting for more at the end but if you were still hungry after eating at fine dining, you could always go to the buffet or get room service and have a Bistro Burger which was a pretty okay hamburger that was bought to your room free of charge,its part of the complimentary food that comes in your package. As for drinks, we strongly recommend you pre-purchase the unlimited soda package before you board the ship, the packages come out about 2 months before your cruise date and can be paid online at Royal Carribean and added to your cruise. The Soda Package for our 10 day cruise was $72 USD a head but it gave you unlimited soft drink from the Coca Cola range of beverages, it was money saver for those hot tropical days when you got really thirsty. The alcoholic drinks, the cocktails ranged from about USD $7.50 to about $12 plus they automatically add a 15% gratuity or tip on each alcoholic drink you buy, this also applies to soft drink if you don't buy the soda package. Wine is very expensive on this ship with the cheapest glass at USD $13 and bottles are from about USD $50 to $295. Beer is reasonably priced, a 330 ml Corona Extra costs $5.50 usd and a 750 ml Foster's oil can costs $8, a huge beer that you can share between 2 people. OVERALL CRUISE RATING AND EXPERIENCE We did enjoy this cruise but found it a little crowded at times but as it was a peak season Christmas cruise we expected this may be the case, some things were repeats of our last cruise including part of the cruise destination itinerary, it was a good cruise but after 10 days we were a little weary of it and we need to change to another ship/cruise line and itinerary. Rhapsody is a good ship, most people will find little to complain about, the crew must be the friendliest on the seas, they perform their jobs with enthusiasm and it appeared to us they like working on this ship Read Less
Sail Date December 2012
Just got back from New Years eve cruise. Here is the high (sic low) lights of the 14 days. Before embarkation you are issued with a cruisecard - it is your onboard credit/ security card. Upon entry stood in a cue for over 20 minutes only ... Read More
Just got back from New Years eve cruise. Here is the high (sic low) lights of the 14 days. Before embarkation you are issued with a cruisecard - it is your onboard credit/ security card. Upon entry stood in a cue for over 20 minutes only to find out this was to have a hole punched in the card - great 1st impression. Hey - puch a hole in the card before you issue it!!!! Then into another cue to be stung $8 for a lanyard to hang this card from your neck. 50 cent lanyard for $8. The Moral - bring your own lanyard and avoid any cues unless you know EXACTLY what the cue is for as the crew won't tell you and often its to up sell you. This is the 1st of many up-sell episodes onboard. Ships itinerary was changed due to cyclone- no one can help that - but this throws out all the booked shore excursions. Ship avoids telling passengers to last minute that the excursion they have booked is now "altered" to offer less excursion but same price and if you don't realise this 48hr beforehand they won't let you cancel. they knew upto 10 days beforehand that a lot of the shore excursions would deliver less than that was advertised due to dates and times changing but made no attempt to contact passengers in enough time to allow them to cancel or change. I found out that some of the experienced passengers knew this would occur and cancelled, then the ship sold this spot to another less suspecting passenger who was wait listed for the same excursion. As we found out the ships excursion fee was upto double what is normally charged for the same excursion if booked off the ship. So much for group discount. Absolute RIPOFF. Do your own research beforehand. Ship is overpriced and deceitful. Do NOT, repeat DO NOT book another excursion via the ship. No dryers to dry clothes. Tip - they will offer complimentary drying of your clothes but only if you complain. Tip - to get anything fixed or done - you have to complain. They will not proactively inform you of what you can do. Makes for a great, relaxing holiday when you have to whinge all the time simply to get something that you have already paid for. Cocktails are $11 for a glass of ice and some cocktail if you are lucky - maybe 3 mouthfuls per glass. bottled water $5. Softdrinks (cans) $2.50. Buy a sticker that gives you unlimited soft drinks (post mix) its worth it if there are more than 2 kids. Ship was affected by vomit and diaohhea bug - quarritined people made to stay in cabins and all self service aspects stopped( ie food and drink etc), ie staff served you which delayed service immensely. You often had finished your meal before your drink order was taken. No cold water in the health spa or gym to stop bugs spreading and tap water on ship runs warm. Takes some water bottles and refrigerate them at night (that is - if your fridge works). If you enjoy a nice coffee - don't go on this ship. Coffee card is $35 for 10 brews. This was the second most common complaint I heard after the shore excurion rip offs. If you can take your own coffee you might be able to get one of the crew to brew it - good luck as they are programmed robots who simply follow procedure. Gym has limited equipment but adequate. Health spa is nice but over priced - check what discount they will offer if you book multiple sessions. Take an umbrella and some rain gear for going ashore. At Isle of pines the cue to return to the main ship was over 90 minutes long- standing there in high humidity, rain and heat without shelter - tragically poor organisation and no communication. Just great if you have kids or are elderly. They don't tell you where toilets are etc on the shore excursions. THe offered lunch on one excursions was a pack of arnotts biscuits - "only take one please" and a bottle of water = A$80 - BARGIN Take a power board as limited power points in cabins to charge all items we use these days. INternet $65 per 100min or $0.75 per minute and slow speed so avoid skype etc. In short - don't go. Read Less
Sail Date December 2012
We are a family of four, including two teenage daughter (19 & 17). This was our 13th cruise, 4th with Princess (on second on the Sea Princess) so we knew what to expect and were no strangers of the consummate host policy as well as ... Read More
We are a family of four, including two teenage daughter (19 & 17). This was our 13th cruise, 4th with Princess (on second on the Sea Princess) so we knew what to expect and were no strangers of the consummate host policy as well as the standard of other ships and lines. Our cruise visited Fiji, Vanautu and New Caledonia over 14 night on the Sea Princess and was a New Years Eve cruise. Due to Cyclone Freda we had to rearrange our itinerary and divert the bad weather, which meant we arrived late to Noumea by a couple of hours and had our Vila port delayed to one of our sea days. Some things which weren't to our liking or contained some issue: The tender service wasn't up to scratch. Accidents occurred at one of our ports (Savusavu, Fiji) which included a heavy collision causing glass damage and the tender not being tied properly to sure. The service was often slow and uncomfortable, taking up to 45 minutes once to proceed ashore. There was a strong smell of diesel and no open windows. On one occasion a window was left often at the front of the tender and the boat was speeding at a significant pace over large enough waves; when a large wave was hit, the water enter through the tender, hitting and soaking the two front rows completely a couple of times. The service over New Years was slowed, not that we minded. We enjoy our dinner and drinks service to be relaxed, yet for those of you more fussy or experienced passengers you wouldn't enjoy this. Nevertheless, this was only due to the influx of crowds due to the holiday cruise and the high standard of perfection needed to be upheld during the season. The steak in the dining room was inedible due to its toughness and the crème brulee had no crunch and was freezing cold. Beside that the food was quite wonderful. If you don't mind heading upstairs to the Steakhouse and paying 20 extra per head, it's an amazing culinary experience. We make it an event every Princess cruise we do. Unfortunately the spa was a major let down, especially compared to previous Princess spa treatments. Having been on the Sea Princess this time last year, the Pacific Princess in 2007 and The Diamond Princess in 2009, we enjoyed ALL our treatment sessions and were impressed by the prompt, enthusiastic and professional treatments. Most of our dissatisfaction was with the "manager" of the spa. She mixed up two of our appointments, writing down one time on a card, receiving a different time on our stateroom confirmation letter, and another time when questioned in person after this incident. It was all very confusing. Additionally my 17 year old sister had her neck and back massage in the salon, where other people were getting their hair done or manicures or pedicures. I don't think this venue was appropriate for a massage, and doesn't follow the relaxation mission statement the cruise promotes. This was not escaping completely. At Noumea the ship had to dock at an industrial port, not the commercial customs port in town, and we were confused as to why when there was no cruise liner at the other dock. Free shuttle buses were forced to take us, there was no way we were able to walk but the problem was waiting for one to leave the boat. The queue extended from outside the dining room all around the atrium and down in a circle. This is unacceptable. A more suitable solution which could have been initiated, even with the itinerary diversion was to ask cabins which time they want to leave the ship at Noumea and pass out according tickets, and then call them out over the PA in an orderly fashion. There were also queues for breakfast a couple of times in the dining room, which is unusual and we've never experienced on our 13 cruises. The cruise also push for group seatings and originally our family of four was put with another couple for dinner. This made them feel very awkward as I would feel in their shoes. 12 months ago this didn't happen. It's upsetting Princess are pushing this direction since they were known (and loved by us) for traditional family dining. On two occasions we found bugs in our salad, once in the buffet and once in the restaurant. During the restaurant occasion there were two bugs and one hair. We didn't cause a fuss, just didn't eat the rest, but it's not acceptable for a Princess cruise. The air conditioning onboard was hardly ever on and we found the dining room very hot. Additionally the roof in the dining room looked quite grubby and despite the ship having renovations done in April-May 2012, it wasn't to scratch. Entertainment in the princess theatre was very poor. The shows we didn't see due to their poor standard last time on the Sea Princess, but the violin act lacked professionalism and could have done without the comical sketches and lame jokes. I read on another review that "entertainment was an insult to intelligent people" which I agree, yet on the other hand other activities such as lectures, games and bingo were great and well hosted. Big props out to the guest history lectuer Dr Mark Johnson who was fabulous and very approachable- enjoyed his talks very much on sea days! Also every one of the bands were great,enjoyed them including the string trio and Princess band. However, on the other hand, the following include our highlights over our cruise: The bar and restaurant staff were all wonderful, catering to every single request you have. We enjoyed our 3 meals a day in the Traviata restaurant and the menu and the service was incredible! Our waiting staff Enrique, Kateryna and Siliva were wonderful. They went above and beyond to take care of us, bringing us extra food and new drinks without even requesting it. Very happy with the bar and restaurant waiters. Our room steward was just as lovely. He was prompt, polite, catered to our needs i.e. additional towels and dry cleaning concerns, and was a pleasure to be around. Our room was left clean all hours of the day. We had a minisuite which was excellent. Even the staterooms on board are good. The bread and pastas are made fresh which is excellent. They taste great. Our head waiters, Jose, Marius and Andrea were wonderful! They took extra special care of the guests and were superbly allocated. Enjoyed their company. Deck cadets handed out cold towels at the more hot ports so we stayed refreshed while waiting for tenders or boarding the ship. It was a clever initiative and very comforting. Well done Princess! Captain Street, was absolutely brilliant. He made lovely and kind midday announcements updating our nautical progress. He also very kind when we met him as well, and willing for a chat and photos. He also made some excellent executive decisions due to the bad weather and the developing Cyclone Freda. The deputy cruise director, Andrew, was great. He was a kind man and often got involved with the passengers, more so than the Cruise Director who could never be found. Disembarkation and Embarkation were prompt, friendly and easy, even with customs on and off. We were impressed and pleased. Shore excurions were great. Offered variety and were pleased with our ones. If you do visit Vila Vanatau, please make it a must to see the Cascades and waterfalls in Mele. They were incredible and the tour was one of our best. Honestly made our trip! The itinerary was excellent and this is where Princess excel. Princess knows the market and take advantage of beautiful ports. Our ports were lovely and we enjoyed the cultural and geographical experience, even though we have seen a few places before. They also took advantage of New Years onboard which was the reason we chose this cruise. There were tonnes of entertainment and parties onboard, an excellent evening planned. Plus their onboard booking and credit scheme over two years is a great idea and definitely something to take advantage of if you are interested in cruising again with princess. Overall we were disappointed with Sea Princess, after witnessing a flawless vacation 12 months earlier. Yet due to the personal touch of Princess and their comparison to other lines we've sailed with e.g. PnO Australia, Louis, Thompson & Norwegian Cruise Line we'd definitely sail with them again. Read Less
Sail Date December 2012
Our Australian family of 5 (daughters 18 and 11; son 12) sailed on Rhapsody to the South Pacific for 10 nights 28 Dec to 7 Jan. Whilst we lived in Asia for 10 years and have travelled extensively, only two of us had cruised before (son ... Read More
Our Australian family of 5 (daughters 18 and 11; son 12) sailed on Rhapsody to the South Pacific for 10 nights 28 Dec to 7 Jan. Whilst we lived in Asia for 10 years and have travelled extensively, only two of us had cruised before (son and me with HAL to the Rugby World Cup in NZ 2011). We had a great time and would do it again in a heartbeat. This review is long as I've tried to cover off items that I was interested in pre-cruise and I wanted to put something back for all the helpful reviews I read in organising the cruise. If you are only interested in some aspects check out the headings below. All ship board prices shown below are in $A and incl the obligatory 15% gratuity which is 'embedded' in the list price. Embarkation We live 30 mins or so drive from OPT so I drove in at 8am and dropped luggage off at the baggage handling service - very easy and efficient. This meant we could avoid booking 2 taxis and so caught the train in for boarding at @11. Whilst our tickets suggested boarding from 12, there was no issue with doing so early. The check in and immigration process took about 30 mins. Security queried our 4 bottles of wine/champagne but were fine when I explained we had 2 cabins. Incidentally, we had no problems discretely drinking these during sail away and by the pool during the cruise, and even managed to conjure a couple of champagne glasses from the bar. We were in the Windjammer for lunch by 12 or so. Park Cafe in the Solarium did not open until 1.30 and the MDR was not open for lunch (it is only open for lunch on sea days, 12 -- 1.30). We thought the food variety and quality was very good. No, it's not the buffet at the Bangkok Peninsula Hotel, but for a family holiday, met and exceeded any reasonable expectations. The WJ was busy but seating was not a problem. Everyone was well satisfied and the kids gave the free soft serve machine a heavy work out. There is also tasty free lemonade, sugar free fruit drinks and ice tea available from machines all over the WJ and in Park Cafe. We were given access to our rooms by about 1pm and bags were delivered to our rooms by 2pm or so. Heading out of Sydney Harbour and the Heads is an experience not to be missed. It can get a bit chilly on deck once the sun goes down, so grab a warm top as well as your camera and champagne. Cabins When we cruised last year, my son was seasick for the first 24 hours. This time I made sure we were down low and in the centre of the boat. We booked two interior cabins on level 2, one with drop down additional bedding that is lowered/raised by the attendant each day. The cost differential to get a window cabin was around $500 per person and balcony around $1000 pp. For 5 people, that adds up to quite a few Mojitos, plus we had experienced interior cabins on the RWC trip and found that we slept wonderfully without daylight streaming in at 6 am. We also spent little time in the cabins other than sleeping. Cabin size was fine for 2 adults and the kids were happy in theirs. Plenty of hanging space - take extra hangers - though not a lot of luggage storage. That said, we only found the space under the beds on the day we disembarked! We had 2 suitcases per cabin, one of which fits inside the other, so we only had to navigate around one on the side of the bed. The bed itself was very comfortable. The bathroom was small but more than adequate. We took advice from a previous poster and hung a clear shoe carrier on the back of the bathroom door. This was invaluable for storing and accessing the various minutiae of daily existence, esp with three kids asking where to find the 'X' several times a day. Toiletries are limited to soap and industrial strength shampoo so you might want to take your own. There was a kettle and teabags, but no coffee satchels. Hot choc sachets were ubiquitous in the WJ so the kids regularly took these back to the rooms to make up. One small surprise was no bar fridge in the cabin. Not much of an issue, but it meant we had to source ice for our wine / champagne through our wonderful and ever helpful cabin attendant, Igusti. Mini bar was virtually non existent - a few cans of soft drink and some snack box items. The new flat screen TV worked fine and had cruise info and room service menu (no printed copy provided) on rotation. There were a number of cable channels, but we don't go on hols to watch tele so I can't tell you much about the quality of programming. There was also a bow camera channel so you could see what the weather was like before venturing out and/ or leave it on at night if you want "natural" light in the morning. Personally, I like the dark for a rare opportunity to sleep in! It is handy though to have a phone or a watch with a back light so you can tell what time it is. Note that sockets are adjacent two flat pin US variety and two round pin European ones. Take converters and a power board. There is a hairdryer provided and towels are changed seemingly every time you use them. There are no self-serve laundries, though rates for getting individual items washed and pressed or dry cleaned were reasonable ($9 for a suit compared to $19 at my local cleaner in Sydney). We were twice offered a $15 bag wash for underwear, socks, t-shirts and shorts, the first on day 4 and again, not so helpfully, on the second last day. The bag is a good size but the turn-around time is 36 hrs or so and our gear came back pretty scrunched up. No drama for your jocks but not so good for t-shirts. Restaurants As indicated above, we thought the WJ was very good, at least for breakfast and an occasional quick lunch. We generally ate breakfast here and the omelettes were great, though you do need to line up for 5 mins or so. My wife and I like our coffee and thought that the house brew was generally fine, certainly no worse than I've had in many US diners, and widely available 24 hrs. One tip for those who want specialty (Starbucks) coffee is to buy it at the bar in the Solarium. It has the same offerings as Latte-tudes but without the 30 min queue, at least earlier on in the cruse before others discover it. We ate dinner in the MDR on all bar one night when we went to Giovanni's Table. We had My Time Dining, which is not quite as flexible as it sounds, at least on a full ship. We ended up sticking to the 7.45 booking time allotted when we checked in on line several months before the cruise. We did look to change it on board, but getting an alternative time after 6 and before 7.45 was not possible. You could turn up any time without a booking, but this could mean a wait of 20+ mins. 7.45 turned out to be quite convenient as we could enjoy a sundown drink by the pool, have time for shower/change, catch the first 45 mins of the 7pm early show - typically ran until 8pm - and then be finished dinner in time for most of the later evening activities. We thought the MDR food was also very good and did not have any issues with food quality or quantity. It may not be a Terry Durack 3 Hat candidate, but think solid neighbourhood restaurant. There was good variety and healthy choices aplenty. And you're getting a linen table cloth, friendly service - our waiters Antonio and Eric were superb and nothing was too much trouble -, time with the family, no shopping, preparation or cleaning up. My wife in particular thinks it's pretty hard to beat. The one suggested improvement we have for the MDR is that the no. of drinks waiters is increased or the coordination with food waiters is enhanced. We found that our food order would be taken promptly, but that we would often wait for 15-20 mins for a drinks waiter. I had a wine package, which was always served pronto by our food waiter, but my wife and children were after "bar" drinks, which was everything other than wine, even non-alcoholic beverages. Given that the food is included but drinks are extra, hence profit for RCCL, this seemed an unlikely outcome, but proved the case for several nights until we developed a rapport with one of the few bar waiters (helped along by a few judicious tips). Formal nights - 2, 4 (for NY eve) and 7- were respected for the most part, with suits worn by the majority of us blokes. It was great to see the number of young guys in particular making the effort and looking sharp in slim cut suits and narrow ties. No-one would say anything if you didn't dress well, but I can only imagine you would feel like the proverbial pig at the Bar Mitzvah if you weren't. Giovanni's Table ($20 pp cover charge for dinner) was a mixed experience. The food when it finally arrived was mostly excellent (the crab ravioli and veal tenderloin were stand outs, the desserts a fizzer) but it took a looooong time - 55 mins for the appetizers and then over 30 mins for each subsequent course. We also discovered a flaw in the wine package system (see more below). Most of the wines on the list are only available from the MDR cellar, so if you order from a specialty restaurant, it will take a while (30 mins for us) to be retrieved. The compounding food and drink delays left us a bit fractious, but the staff ultimately handled it all well and comped us a lunch for later in the cruise. We didn't try Chops Grill, Izumi or the Captain's Table. Park Cafe in the adults only Solarium pool area - kids could order food so long as they didn't enter the pool - was a family favourite. The roast beef rolls were as yummy as others have described, and the other pre-made sandwiches and focaccia were really good. There were also salads, cookies, cakes and packets of potato chips. At breakfast it offered bacon and egg muffins, granola/fruit/yoghurt cups and other pre-packaged breakfast fare. PC was the only option open on mid-afternoon returns from port days, and would get busy. Staff were always efficient, if a little disinterested, and we never waited more than @ 5 mins. It was open until 10am for breakfast, 11.30 - 6 for 'lunch' and then 11.30pm - 1am for late night snacks - pizza and the like. Latte-tudes had a range of Starbucks coffees and free cookies and other baked items. No coffee purchase is required for these free items as the teen contingent quickly discovered. There was a perpetual 10+ min queue at Latte-tudes and only one barista on duty. This turned us off buying coffee there on a number of occasions. As with the shortage of Bar waiters in the MDR, this was illogical staffing for a high profit margin part of the business and RCCL should re-assess this. Ben & Jerry's is adjacent to Latte-tudes. We never saw anyone buying from there, which I think reflected the extremely limited range and poor placement. As a father, I was very pleased that the decision had been made to locate a pay-as-you-go ice cream shop in the dark recesses of deck 6, but I have no doubt that business would have increased 10-fold if it was located in the pool area, where 95% of kids spent most of their waking hours, and stocked with a decent selection. Drinks Ah, few things seem to excite the passions of some cruisers more than drink prices. But seriously, how many hotels have you been to that will sell you a bottle of Peroni for $5.50 incl gratuity at a pool side bar? Frozen margaritas at $7.25 - make sure you ask for a "House Margarita" as the default is a $10.50 premium one and this happened on several occasions so you need to be very clear when ordering - and Daiquiris for $8.50 are also very competitive. Draft Becks/Stella was $6.95 for 500ml. G&T was $6.25. Very good virgin cocktails were $4.50. Cans of soft drink were $2.50. Prices are the same in all bars throughout the ship, though availability of certain items varied (eg, draft beer was only available in the Pool Bar and Schooner Bar) Wolf Blass Wine could be had for $10 per 500ml carafe in the WJ. I can't comment on the quality as we purchased the "Diamond" 5 bottle wine package for $205. At $41 a bottle this may seem a bit steep, but it included a NZ Pinot I quite like that is on the main wine list for $61 and that retails in Sydney for @$25, so a reasonable mark up to $41 imho. Many others in the package were less than $41 on the main list, so it pays to do your homework. Ultimately we saved a few $, but I'm not sure we would order it again as there were limited decent selections - most of the reds were mass produced US options. The main list is much larger and has some reasonably priced Italian and other offerings that we would have liked to try but having pre purchased the package felt constrained not to. Note that there was no Aust/NZ wine package offered as I understand there was on some previous ROS cruises. I asked a number of ROS staff and no one seemed to know why. Gratuities As we opted for My Time Dining, we were required to pre-pay gratuities, which ran to around $120 per head. Whilst we do not have a tipping culture in Australia, I had no issue with paying them on the Rhapsody. The room attendants/waiters/bar staff and others we came across on the cruise were, almost without exception, incredibly friendly, helpful, hard-working and above all, patient. They typically sign on for 8 month contracts during which they don't see their families, work 10-12 hours per day with ZERO days off (on disembarkation/embarkation days, our room attendant started work at 4.30am and would not finish until well into the evening), get paid an extremely modest salary and manage to keep smiling throughout. The staff do rely on gratuities to support families left behind in the Philippines, Indonesia, Africa, Eastern Europe etc, but this is not charity, it is a well-earned reward for going the extra mile that makes the difference between you having a great or poor cruise experience. In addition to pre-paying gratuities and the built in 15% for bar orders, we tipped our room attendant and waiters in cash at the end of the cruise and left additional tips for good bar service throughout. For those who object that tips are used to make up for low cruise wages, you are probably correct. But if the wage structure was higher, this would be directly reflected in your cruise price. And I have no doubt that being incentivised by tips is the primary reason service on board is as good as it is. Entertainment Perhaps we were lucky, but for the most part we thought the staged entertainment was pretty good. The comedian, Simon Palomares (ex-Acropolis Now), is one of the funniest I have ever seen. "Celine Dion" was also talented, if not really my cup of tea. The 'house' dancers and singers were also reasonably good, though variable. My daughter rarely missed a show and even when not great, it was a pleasant enough 45 mins of pre-dinner entertainment. There was also a Rock n Roll show in the Centrum. This was good but suffered from the venue, as once the show was under way many people wanted, and were encouraged to, dance, but dancing room was very limited. There was also a dance night on the pool deck - the perfect venue with abundant room, but far too much staff direction, trying to 'lead' a large contingent of enthusiastic would be party goers in complicated 'line' dance step routines. After 45 mins or so it ended abruptly leaving many people frustrated. A note to the Cruise Director - just supply good music, a bar serving drinks and a dance floor - people on holidays will go for it. If staff must be involved to show people how to have fun on a dance floor, then at least let the party continue once the 'show' is over. Afternoon movies were shown first couple of sea days and were also very good. They were repeated several times on the pool screen at night. The pool deck was potentially a great night time venue for both movies and other entertainment that was not utilised enough. The Quest adult's team event on penultimate night was a lot of fun. Participation is mandatory with everyone required to join a team. But from there the shy hung back a bit and the extroverts did most of the heavy lifting. It is amazing what a bit of team affiliation will do to inhibitions (women in particular -- the reaction to the Cruise Director's request to "show me a thong" was extraordinary). Do try and get actively involved as it is a lot of fun and no one is put on the spot to 'perform'. One event not to miss is the Captain's informal Q&A. If you didn't know that the ship's anchor weighs 10 tonnes, that RCCL spends $550m on fuel annually or that Australian cruises provision for double the amount of beer ordered on the US counterparts, then here is the place to find out. NY Eve The formal dinner was nothing special food wise, but the night got better from there. There was a mass balloon drop in the Centrum and staff handed out champagne to guests. A quick dash up to the pool deck followed where Sydney fireworks were shown on the large outdoor screen. This was also the only night on the cruise when there was an outdoor party that was just allowed to run. People loved it. The deck was full of revellers dancing until well into the early hours. I imagine that bar sales were stellar - more profit for RCCL. Everyone we spoke to afterwards commented on what a fantastic night it was and how it should be a regular feature, at least when the weather is good. There was a designated nightclub, the Viking Lounge, on Deck 11, but the music was frequently overwrought doof doof and the dance floor empty. There is a real missed opportunity here. Teenagers Our 11 and 12 year olds -- both tall and mature so for all practical purposes teenagers - went to the Teens club on day 1 and, apart from us making family dinner in the MDR compulsory each night, we barely saw them again throughout the cruise. The club activities are listed on a Teens 'flyer' available from the teen centre and Guest Services each day, and appear on paper to be impressively structured. In practice, they were a bit loosely organised, so that often the teen centre became more just a place to hang out with the group of 20 or so fellow teenagers who had also made it home. Given organizing teenagers can be harder than herding cats, this was understandable and they had a fantastic time. A couple of points for parents to note. First, whilst the teens are supposedly separated into 12-14 and 15-17 categories, this did not happen in practice and so the 'group' was aged from 11-17 (being the youngest of three, our 11 yr old is well socialised for her age and there was no way she was going to be 'stuck' with the 9-11 yr group). We were OK with this given our two kids were in there together and are comparatively sensible, but I might have been concerned if I had an 11 or 12 yr old daughter going by herself. Second, the activities run very late. Some of the parties in the teen centre started at 11.30pm and did not finish until 1.30am or so -- the u18s midnight curfew does not apply if involved in teen centre activities. Again, we were OK with this given the two were together and were sharing a cabin with our older daughter, so we were always able to keep tabs on 'check-in' time, but it could put some people off. Our 18 yr old did not have such a positive experience. Whilst there were 18-20yr meet n' mingle activities organised, she did not participate, a big mistake in our view, and tended to hang out with us or take herself off to the shows and other activities. There were a reasonable no. of 18-20 yr olds on the cruise and with a bit of effort to meet others I think that cruising with that age group would be fine. Fitness ROS has a well-equipped Gym on Level 10 that we used regularly without any crowding issues. There are six or so treadmills, four stationary cycles, a cable-weights machine with pull-up bar, free weights, assorted other weight machines and steppers. Hand towels are provided without charge and there is a water fountain. There are spin and boot camp classes available at a price which we didn't use or see. Deck 10 also houses a 400m jogging/walking track and the rock climbing wall. We used the track for running every second day at around 9am and again never experienced crowding issues. It can be quite a challenge running into the inevitable headwind towards the bow of the ship, but you fly down the sternward leg! The rock climbing wall is a bit of fun, but according to my kids, not very challenging compared to the average rock climbing centre in Sydney. You sign up for a time and sign a waiver for kinds to climb. The system seems to work pretty well and we never saw crowds. One disappointment on ROS was the absence of a basketball court. We had used this extensively on the RWC cruise and perhaps foolishly assumed this was standard, so brought with us on ROS a basketball and plastic cricket bat/tennis ball which we did not use at all. Medical We had cause to use the medical centre late one night when our eldest daughter suddenly developed laboured breathing -- cause unknown but perhaps be dust or mould spores. Located on Level 1, the centre is apparently very well equipped to deal with just about any situation and there are 2 doctors and 4 nurses employed to staff it. As it was a late night call out, which was quickly answered, the visit ended up costing $111 for the consultation plus $54 for an athsma puffer. Ironically, our youngest daughter suffers from very occasional athsma and we have puffers at home, but had not brought one along. Oh well, that's what travel insurance is for. There did seem to be quite a few particularly elderly people on board, who suffered a broken limb at some point - wrists and arms being the most common. Even though we had smooth seas for the most part, a ship is an inherently unstable and shifting platform requiring constant rebalancing at times and I guess accidents are inevitable. I would think twice though about taking anyone on a cruise who was at all frail unless they were confined to a wheel chair. Ports/anchorages Isle of Pines was first stop. Tenders seemed to work well, with early bird first-come first-served until 9am, tickets 9 - 11 and then free boarding back and forward all day. At all tender stops we waited until after 11 to avoid queuing. Snorkelling on the reef was wonderful (take your own gear though as hire options were very ordinary and sales price on the ship was expensive). Ultimately though you can only snorkel for so long and after a 30 min walk there was not a lot else to do and so we were back on board by 3 or so for a relaxing lunch in Park Cafe. Pt Vila was next stop and our first port, where we tied up to a wharf rather than anchor offshore and take tenders in. This was very efficient. We walked straight off the boat, out of the port and haggled a $120 price for a 4 hr tour with a local driver, Gavin. His van when we reached it had me a bit worried - bald tires, not a straight panel to be seen and when asked about AC, Gavin deadpanned "sometimes we just lets (sic) the fresh air come in". Despite a shaky start he was a lovely bloke - very laid back and happy to chat about life in Vanuatu. He took us to Cascade Falls, Hideaway island beach, the coffee 'factory', and we stopped at a village where he knew some people and they kindly showed us around and told us about village life. Suffice to say my kids were not all that keen on swapping. We also went duty free shopping. Fung Kwei seems to be the largest and cheapest - eg, 1L Gordon's Gin and Smirnoff Vodka were $12 each. It is also located right next to an open air Bar on the bay that sells delightfully cold draught Tusker, the very quaffable local beer. On the way back to the ship Gavin stopped at a Kava 'bar' to satisfy my wife's curiosity as to taste and affect. She concluded quickly that the latter did not compensate for the former. One thing to note is that petrol in Vanuatu is very expensive (around $1.70 a litre) and so none of the guides seem keen on going any further distance than absolutely necessary. Everything we saw in our 4 hrs was within 10k of the wharf. If you are keen on heading further than this -- apparently there are some beautiful spots further around the Island -- be very specific when negotiating. Due to a cyclone in the area we were unable to stop at Noumea, but the captain organised alternate stops in Luganville and Champagne Bay. The former is barely worth getting off the boat for and, due to many passengers and far fewer vans of any size, groups in particular were subject to some major price gouging. Champagne Bay by comparison was breathtaking and the highlight of our stops. There was little to do but snorkel off the stunningly beautiful beach (the reef at far end is best), go on a short van tour to Blue Lagoon ($10 per head -- we didn't go but others said it was worth seeing), eat lobster under the trees ($20 for half) and drink cold bottles of Tusker ($5 each). Yet everyone loved it and we were sorry to have to leave. Disembarkation Arrival back into Sydney Harbour at 6am was bittersweet. It is a beautiful location, but knowing that the party was over made it hard to truly enjoy. We were given an 8.50am disembarkation for which bags had to be in the hall by 11pm the night before - if you want to carry your own bag off you leave at 7am - so had plenty of time for one last leisurely breakfast in the WJ. The disembarkation process itself was very smooth with no delays encountered. There is no Immigration checking passports, though there are Customs officers, and so you essentially just walk straight out, into the lift or escalator and down to street level. Summary Despite the several areas highlighted for possible improvement, I think the RCCL people do a great job keeping 2200 people with different personalities and preferences happy most of the time. If there is better value for the family holiday $ I've yet to find it. Our trip cost about the same as renting a decent Sydney beach house for the equivalent peak season period. Considering that on ROS you get international transport to various destinations, only unpack and pack once, 10 nights comfortable accommodation, entertainment on tap, 30+ good meals each plus snacks, your room cleaned, bed made, sheets and towels replaced, friendly efficient service, sunshine, a pool, a gym, jogging track, rock climbing wall, self-serve ice cream, free child minding, a relaxed wife and happy kids, it'll do me. Read Less
Sail Date December 2012
Embarkation Was superb and very quick. Bags were delivered in a prompt manner. Stateroom We had a balcony on level 6 and we were pleasantly surprised with the size of the room. No free water in the room. Ships facilities They ... Read More
Embarkation Was superb and very quick. Bags were delivered in a prompt manner. Stateroom We had a balcony on level 6 and we were pleasantly surprised with the size of the room. No free water in the room. Ships facilities They were pretty good especially the adults only serenity section at the back of the boat which was free of charge. As carnival have no limit on children it was greatly needed as they were running riot. air con way too cold in common areas, requested to turn down but told that they are unable to, many people were getting sick as it was too cold. Gym was modern but weights all in pounds and extremely small weights area. Dining Empire dining room was fantastic. Dinner buffet absolutely appalling, choice between salad, sandwiches, pizza, chips and pies same every night. lunch buffet was good. loved the seaside bbq for a healthier option. Nouveau restaurant was brilliant and worth the $35 cover charge. early dinner seating 530 was too early, and late time 745 was way too late. Staff & Service Room attendant and dining room staff fantastic, bar staff and guest services not so great, hardly speak English. staffs lack of knowledge of promotions (every classic cocktail you have take your reeipt to the casino for a $5 voucher to bet at casino) Dj duh dork in the nightclub would play rap every night (same playlist) from about 1230am, was rude and threatened us when we asked for something different. One night he left the club for half an hour and let fhe music play and it sounded awful like the speakers were going to blow! Dj travis not much better, he would play requests sometimes but was also rude. Entertainment entertainment options lacking, not all nights had shows and most shows we're not up to scratch Shore Excursions Only did one in Fiji and it was fantastic, we went to savanna island for a day trip including lunch and drinks. Disembarkation Quicker than anticipated and easy to get a taxi. Summary Overall enjoyable cruise but a few things need to be less americanised and more Aussie. Green thunder not open during sea days due to high wind, open on port days. Maybe had one sea day where it was open. Probably would not cruise carnival again. Read Less
Sail Date December 2012
My wife and I sailed on the Carnival Spirit on 27.12.12 to celebrate New Years Eve. We were in a group of 14. We had a good time overall as we made our own fun. Compared to other cruise ships we have sailed on carnival Spirit was the ... Read More
My wife and I sailed on the Carnival Spirit on 27.12.12 to celebrate New Years Eve. We were in a group of 14. We had a good time overall as we made our own fun. Compared to other cruise ships we have sailed on carnival Spirit was the worst. We have sailed on 9 cruises with 4 different cruise lines. I understand this is a family ship and we were sailing in school holidays and children will be children. But many of them were out of control and ran amok along the hallways, stairs, and dining room and in and out of the lifts. They were in the Casino and in the Bars and I noticed underage drinking. Knock and run and ringing staterooms all hours of the day. I should say night. As I said children will be children and I don't hold them totally responsible. We have children and grand children. They have to be supervised by their parents and the staff of Carnival spirit. So if you want to take your children away and leave them unsupervised and no security while you wander off in the opposite direction, this cruise is for you. Food and Beverage. I would rate the food 3 out of 5. Quantity but not quality. In the bistro the food was very ordinary queuing up at different counters and then eating fatty and stodgy lukewarm food. The salad and fruit were good. The Empire dining room overall was very good but on a few occasions we did receive food that was not up to par. The dress code in the Empire dining room was not enforced. No one was encouraged or enforced to use the sanitizer in any of the food outlets. Price of beer. $7.00 for a can or bottle. $8.00 for a draught. In the pool areas and the Serenity area (adults only) "some times" a can or bottle of beer was poured into a plastic cup resulting in flat beer. Cocktails and wine were reasonably priced. No packages or happy hour for alcohol. With the exception the bar staff need to smile and appear to be happy even if there not. More training needed. Cleanliness. There were no garbage bins on the ship. There was food, cups and bottles in the lifts, stairs and hallways. Sports bar: Mostly empty on this cruise and I know why. No Aussie sports. All the sports were American gridiron, baseball and basketball. When I first walked in I noticed there were 6 different beers on tap 4 on one side and 2 on the other side. Guest what the 4 taps together on one side never worked. On the other side only 1 of the 2 worked on most occasions. Stateroom. Our stateroom was a balcony of good size with plenty of cupboard space with good amenities. Entertainment. The hypnotist was great had everyone in the audience laughing. Dancers and singers were very good. The magician and comedian were very, very ordinary. Bingo, what a joke, $30.00 a ticket and the major prize $1000.00. There must have been 300 or more people in the lounge. You do the sums. Gym. Excellent except for the unsupervised children. Lucky no one was injured that I know of. Serenity Deck. Unless you got up at the crack of dawn you had no hope of getting a pod, hammock or a partly shaded lounge. Other lounge chairs in the full sun were hard to get at most times. People would leave their towels, shirts or some other apparel on the lounge to reserve the seat. The staff tried hard by placing stickers on the seats after about 40 minutes but unfortunately this did not work. In my opinion if you are planning a cruise and there is another ship cruising in the same or similar direction as Carnival I would sail with the other ship. Read Less
Sail Date December 2012
In early October 2012, my Partner and I booked and paid a 20 Day Valparaiso -- Papeete Oceania Cruise sailing aboard Marina on December 27, 2012. My Partner was departing from Miami, and myself departing from Valparaiso, both ... Read More
In early October 2012, my Partner and I booked and paid a 20 Day Valparaiso -- Papeete Oceania Cruise sailing aboard Marina on December 27, 2012. My Partner was departing from Miami, and myself departing from Valparaiso, both returning Papeete -- Los Angeles on Atlas Air an Oceania charter flight. We were booked on a Veranda Suite and were offered a possible space available upgrade to better accommodations. At that point we confirmed our cruise reservations. Soon after, I received an E-Mail from Oceania offering me an upgrade "first come first served" to a Concierge Level Suite for USD$500 additional per person. Although Oceania had said the upgrade could happen at "no cost" I decided to pay the USD$1000 and confirmed the Concierge Level Suite. I specifically requested before making payment, a MidShip port side cabin and we were assured by our reservations agent that our accommodation confirmed, Suite 10094 was at MidShip. Air Accommodations, were confirmed on LAN Chile for my Partner flying from Miami to Santiago and confirmed reservations were made for both by Oceania on Atlas Air, Oceania's charter flight. Aisle seats were requested and confirmed seats were made before final payment was done. When Full payment was completed, we requested that both travelers would be E-Mailed with all forthcoming Information and confirmations. That never happened, even though we called our Booking Oceania Reservation Agent to request this .Only I, in Chile was sent all information & confirmation. When I noticed that Documents were not received in the USA, I asked my Partner to call Oceania. At that point, we were told that documents had been mailed, which we had never received. After two more calls, documents were received with the wrong information, wrong Suite number and my Air & Seat Reservations had been cancelled by Oceania. We had to fix our own Air Reservations and paid extra for the American Airlines Seat Reservations from Los Angeles to Miami. If we had not called Oceania's Reservation, before departure (having a hard time to get in touch with someone in Reservations as no calls were returned ... ), the Coos experienced in Papeete Airport would have been even more significant as experienced at the Airport in Papeete, as there was no adequate Oceania Representation. When we sailed Valparaiso, we experienced that our Suite was not what we had requested & confirmed as Midship. The Suite arrangements for two persons did not justified the square footage highlighted by the Oceania marketing material. It was very difficult for two people to have access to the Suite closet space. The closet door would open during the night. In addition, door slammings from neighboring Suites and their bathrooms would not permit a comfortable night's rest. At early morning the door slammings will be heard from the neighbors and also made from the cleaning crew. This was noticeable at all times when we were in the Suite. At the fourth Port of Call, my Partner & I developed a cold & coughing. Earlier, we had noticed that many other passengers had same problem. We went to the Medical Center to ask if there was a Virus or a possible Bacteria that was going around the Marina. As we entered the Medical Center, there were passengers being treated with medications in their hands and others waiting at the Doctor's Office. When we asked if there was a problem ... We were told that we could not be given any information as it was confidential medical information. The same answer was given to us by the person at the Reception Desk who advised that a report would be filed and we would be contacted. We were not contacted. It appeared that maybe half the passengers and some of the crew were experiencing viral/flu like symptoms. Two of the passengers had to be taken away from the ship in a helicopter. Yet, Oceania's Management had no communication to the passengers about this happening and treated it as "confidential information" and offered no special health instructions. For the end of the cruise and our arrival in Papeete, we paid for a Transfer. We were told by Oceania's Reservation Agent that as the Atlas Flight, Oceania's Charter from Papeete to Los Angeles was an evening flight, that we would be taken to a hotel where passengers paying Oceania's Transfer fee, would have a "Lounge Room" with shower available(there was a USD$10 charge at the hotel to take a shower), and the use of the Hotel facilities. The temperature in January in Papeete is humid and can be over 90F. We departed the Pier, and there was no representative in the transfer bus from Oceania. We arrived at the Radisson Hotel Papeete and were directed to a "musty" meeting room were there were small tables & chairs. With discontent, and with no Oceania Representative to ask and get advise, especially, after passengers had paid for a Transfer to a Hotel and to wait at a "Lounge Room", it was difficult for a group of more than 80 passengers to be at a Lounge Room for more than 3 hours. Thus, everyone, left the room and searched for their own accommodations around the hotel. When departure time from the hotel arrived, we were informed by the person from the transfer bus that Oceania's Atlas flight had been delayed for one hour. When we finally were transferred to Papeete Airport (a very small & Non-Air Conditioned Airport) the Bus Driver had to wait 45 minutes at the airport to let us get off the bus. When we got off the bus, there was no Oceania's Representative at the Airport to meet us & give us information. The boarding of Oceania's Atlas Charter flight was a Chaos. Departure, which was scheduled for 11:45pm did not occur until 1:45am. Although there were Oceania Representatives at the Los Angeles Airport, everyone had to run to meet our connecting flights and many had to reschedule their connecting flights Oceania Cruise Line restaurant food was good and its restaurant service crew was excellent. In resume, Oceania needs to work in giving attention to exercise and deliver what is expected and featured in their extensive "Pre-Cruise" marketing material. Oceania Cruise Line, is far away from achieving what they are promising its consumers. Read Less
Sail Date December 2012
This was our second cruise with our school friends. The last cruise was on Rhapsody two years ago. Give me Rhapsody . The boarding was great not problems. The cabin was great on the 10 deck. The cyclone was not the captains fault, did ... Read More
This was our second cruise with our school friends. The last cruise was on Rhapsody two years ago. Give me Rhapsody . The boarding was great not problems. The cabin was great on the 10 deck. The cyclone was not the captains fault, did enjoy the fireworks The meals in the dinning room were wonderful. One night we tried Chops Grille what a mistake . We were seated and no one came near us. We had to ask for drinks and our meal order was taken 45 Min's after we complained. A shame the meal in the end was very nice.But staff not helpful. The cruise was over loaded with kids whose parents couldn't care. They had no respect for other passengers. We asked a man to remove his child from the main pool, the child had a nappy on, he didn't care. He kept saying its OK. So no swimming in that pool. You couldn't get a deck lounge as it was full of parents and kids. The staff even commented that there were a lot of children on the ship. We had a great cruise with our friends We probably wont go on Radiance of the seas again. Read Less
Sail Date December 2012
Introduction Our first cruise in a little more than 10years and we picked a NYE cruise to really celebrate this year. We picked Royal Caribbean and Radiance of the Seas based on the great reviews we had read and the fact that the market ... Read More
Introduction Our first cruise in a little more than 10years and we picked a NYE cruise to really celebrate this year. We picked Royal Caribbean and Radiance of the Seas based on the great reviews we had read and the fact that the market does rave about this ship wherever she goes. We also wanted a something a little more upmarket than the usual local product offered. We were not disappointed. Embarkation This was a Sunday so there wasn't a great many people around in the morning and since RCI have introduced staggered boarding by deck numbers things seemed to go smoothly. On in 30mins although directed to wrong priority queue once up escalators Staterooms 2 x Interconnecting Junior Suite's so we really had more space than an owners suite with the added bonus of 2 bathrooms, 2 x TV's, 2 x Bedrooms etc. We certainly had much more privacy than if all 4 of us had lobbed in a single Grand or Owners Suite. We obviously didn't have Concierge Services but we wouldn't have made much use of these anyway. RCI wanted another $1K per person for this cruise to make it to a single GS from our 2 x JS's! Our Staterooms were always clean and tidy and any little thing we may have left lying around was usually folded nicely when we returned. Our Stateroom Attendant, Virna, was wonderful. She remembered our names after the first afternoon and was always there in the morning with a happy 'good morning' or in the evening always interested in our activities and offering suggestions on other things we might want to do. These guys work hard, are the most visible in terms of guest interaction, and deserve the gratuities they receive and more. We indeed pre-paid ours but made sure to leave extra for Virna. One thing we did notice though was white paint spatter all over the balcony chairs and table -- obviously from the regular maintenance that takes place during longer port visits and turnaround days. They don't seem to protect the outdoor furniture from the painting activities. A Change of Itinerary Due to Cyclone Freda in the Coral Sea it was not possible to visit Noumea, Mystery Island and Isle of Pines in New Caledonia. There was a letter in our Staterooms informing us of this upon embarkation. No surprise really since we had been monitoring the situation in the few days leading up to our cruise. The good thing was though we were to remain in Sydney Harbour for our first two nights! Night 1 at the Overseas Passenger Terminal and then New Years Eve sitting just off Point Piper where we had a "money can't buy" view of the NYE fireworks. We later found out that we made all the News bulletins and Newspapers. We had all the News Helicopters circling us all afternoon on New Years Eve. The decision to shelter in Sydney Harbour was made based on safety issues and whilst politicians and the media may wish to indicate otherwise the facts are the facts. Our actual location was determined by the Sydney Ports Authority and ultimately the Harbour Master -- not our Captain. Early New Years Day we sailed out of Sydney Heads and spent the next 3 days at sea heading up to beautiful Champagne Bay in Vanuatu. A beautiful location with a picturesque beach and gorgeous aqua coloured waters. A fantastic compensation for missing our 3 New Caledonia Ports. We then headed for Port Vila and were back on track from that point. Following was Lifou which was also good but after Champagne Bay nothing could compare although the Snorkelling at Lifou was great judging from reports we had from others. Food & Dinning We found the food options on board were excellent from the Windjammer buffet, Main Dining Room and Specialty restaurants through to the cafes. There is a sufficient variety in the buffet to keep you interested for the length of the cruise. There are a lot of criticisms made about the food in the MDR but I have to say that with only one or two exceptions we found the choice, quality and quantity of food excellent. We ate there all but 3 nights and were more than happy with the results. Service on the first night was very slow but this was likely due to the ship picking up a percentage of new crew members and they needed to quickly come up to speed with the MDR routine. We travelled with our two daughters (15 and 19) who can sometimes be fussy eaters and they had no issues. Our 15 yo is also a Type 1 diabetic and once again we had no issues. The girls loved Izumi and in fact we went there for lunch one day and went back a few days later for Dinner as at lunch they don't do hot food (e.g. the hot rock). Giovanni's was OK and there was a lot of food. We couldn't have one of the appetisers we chose because the cheese ingredient had expired but they gave us an opportunity to change so all good in the end. Chops Grille was fantastic and we had a fantastic meal there and you don't have to have Steak as there are chicken and seafood selections on the menu as well. It was nice to have cooked to order food. My wife and I also did Chef's Table one night and this is an absolutely amazing experience. We had a great Sommelier (Sergey) and our Chef (Armando) worked well together and were informative and entertaining at the same time. The other 11 guests there also made it a night to remember. My 15 yo tried the Doghouse once or twice but it was a take it or leave it kind of experience. The Cafe in the Solarium area was great for snacks and we made use of this once or twice for lunch when we didn't really need anything substantial or didn't want to go to the Buffet again. Latte'udes -- the re-badged Starbucks cafe on Deck 5 has good coffee, frappes etc and free pastries but service is slow and there is nearly always a line. One of the three coffee machines broke down during our cruise and there were no spare parts on board to repair it so this just added to the problem. Believe me if you can't find something to your taste and style on this ship you simply are not trying hard enough. Activities The usual list of cruise activities from Pool games to various kinds of Trivia, Karaoke, Shuffleboard and mini-Golf tournaments as well as Dancing lessons and Crafty type things such as scrapbooking were offered. Lots of things related to health and well being to try and get you in to paying for the high priced services in the spa though which we avoided. Some of the night time entertainment was not to our taste but a few nights we really enjoyed the shows in the Aurora Theatre. The first night though, which ended up being the Captains Welcome Aboard Cocktail Party, they showed a 10minute video which was in fact a blatant advertisement for Royal Caribbean -- guys you already had our money and we were already consuming your product why was this kind of advertising necessary? There was also one night a bunch of rather intoxicated fellows near us who took to heckling the male singer who was performing and there was no security in sight to take care of this which I thought a little odd. The casual entertainers in the bars and atrium were very good and it was nice to be able to sit and enjoy a cocktail or two with great musicians to keep you entertained and help you relax. Bill (Cruise Director) and Darren (Activities Co-ordinator) did their best but really only were visible during major evening events and frankly we didn't see much of them except on the TV doing the daily activities rundown. On the second last day there was a Black Forest cake cooking "demonstration" which Bill took part in with the Captain. This was probably one of the most hilarious things I've ever seen. Captain Sidre is an excellent entertainer and to see him throw cream and liqueur around was just side-splittingly funny. A few in the audience wound up wearing some of these ingredients. Captain Sidre followed this up with a session dealing at one of the Blackjack tables the same evening -- he had the Casino staff wondering what on earth he was doing! If they have the "Love & Marriage" game on your cruise -- go see it -- it's a great night. A word about Bingo. This is only held on sea days and for all but the last day it is held in the Colony Club (last day is in the Aurora Theatre). Well the Colony Club has limited space and the Activities guys seemed to underestimate the popularity of the event. If you didn't arrive 30-45mins before ticket sales started forget thinking about being able to sit anywhere but on the floor! Tickets were scheduled to be sold from 3pm usually and Bingo itself due to start at 3:30pm. Well it never started at 3:30pm and always ended up going well beyond 4:30pm (once it finished at 5pm) and it ended up interrupting the trivia session in the neighbouring Schooner Bar when finished with all the Bingo people walking through to get to either dinner or their next activity. This can definitely be organised a little better I think. Tickets should be sold earlier in the day (the last day they started selling them on the pool deck from 11am!). Any why not make use of the Theatre every day for this event. Ports Champagne Bay (Champagne Beach to be precise) was absolutely beautiful. As we were blessed with wonderful sunny weather our whole cruise we managed to get picturesque days in all the ports. Beautiful blue and aqua waters in Champagne Bay and also Lifou. Friendly locals and plenty of space to roll out your towel, swim, snorkel and relax. Port Vila was a little different to what we remember from previous visits. The locals tout for your business shouting and yelling at the ship early in the morning offering all sorts of tours and activities. Also the days of the shipside markets are gone -- these have all been moved outside the fenced wharf compound which is a shame. A sign of the booming cruise ship market I guess. The only stupid thing that the ship did was the distribution of Tender Tickets for our visit to Champagne Bay. They only started to issue these from 08:30am at a single place on Deck 5 and the lines stretched twice around the atrium. Why oh why didn't they do this either the evening before or even the day before and have a number of locations where these tickets could be obtained. In the end when they called the relevant tender numbers for boarding there was no one checking you had the correct ticket anyway! When we arrived in Lifou I think all the passengers were a bit gun-shy as whilst they advised the first hr or so of the tenders required no tender tickets the fact was that passengers really spread themselves across the morning which meant there was never any need for tender tickets to be used for this port at all. Service Faultless. Dinning staff were really great and helpful and if you didn't like a meal then they would encourage you to choose something else. Even Guest Services who tend to get a bad rap in these forums were helpful. We had two occasions where we had items on our shipboard account that were not ours and they happily removed them from our bill. The first day we needed to get extra keys so we all had access to the two cabins and they did this in very quick time. The Activities staff were mostly OK but Kim (from Jamaica) was the standout. If you are lucky enough to have her on your cruise you will love her! Overall Radiance is a fantastic ship with lots of modern amenities and a design that means you are always able to avail yourself of an ocean view from some angle. The crew are always happy and helpful and even when I came across some of the engineering staff during my very early morning walks around the ship I was greeted with a friendly and hearty "good morning". Food was great with a variety to suit all tastes and entertainment and activities that make your cruise that much more memorable. Whilst our itinerary was somewhat altered the result was more than satisfying with being able to see the Sydney NYE Fireworks. Will definitely be looking to cruise on this ship again. Read Less
Sail Date December 2012
28 DAY Round Trip from San Diego,CA to HAWAII, TAHITI & MARQUESAS (NOV. 23, 2012 to DEC. 21, 2012) We were a group of 4 couples traveling Round Trip from San Diego, CA. We all live in San Diego and looked forward to not having to ... Read More
28 DAY Round Trip from San Diego,CA to HAWAII, TAHITI & MARQUESAS (NOV. 23, 2012 to DEC. 21, 2012) We were a group of 4 couples traveling Round Trip from San Diego, CA. We all live in San Diego and looked forward to not having to deal with the airlines. The check in and embarkation went smoothly with no delays. This was my husband and my 7th cruise. First on Holland America. (Other 6 cruises were on Royal Caribbean, Princess, Norwegian, Carnival and Celebrity) Our group was probably the youngest on board(our ages 60-65). Average age was about 80ish. Our cabin(757)on Deck A was nice and we were very happy with the service from our room attendant(bringing us fresh towels 2 times daily) We also liked that the ship had 3 laundry rooms aboard on such a long voyage. In our opinion the entertainment was average. With the majority of the passengers being on the older side the activities were somewhat limited to the older generation. Bingo, golf putting games, cooking classes, crafts, chess, pub trivia, beginning computer classes, stretching classes and art shows. The shore excursions available on the Hawaiian Islands were very good. On Bora Bora we went on the "Bora Bora Island Discovery" tour and the "Shark and Ray Encounter" which we all enjoyed. The food and service in the Dining Room was quite good. My husband and I usually ate our breakfasts and lunches at the buffet which was above average. We did not try any of the specialty dinning rooms so have no opinions. The 4 ladies in our group enjoyed "high tea" every afternoon. It was excellent. Our biggest complaint was that we missed 3 of the 7 islands due to weather. I personally think that Holland should not run this South Pacific cruise this time of the year or at least let people know that there is a good chance that they will miss islands. To make up for the missed islands we were given 1 glass of wine or 1 glass of inexpensive champagne. We were lavishly credited $9.16 per person for missing Kiritmati Island; $13.11 per person for missing Raiatea Island; and $11.46 per person for missing Rangiroa/Polynesia. Wow, how generous! We spent a total of 20 sea days out of a total of 28 days. Needless to say it was not the best experience. Also, as everyone looks forward to when traveling to Polynesia/Bora Bora, we had maybe 2 days total that we could enjoy the beautiful blue waters that the South Pacific is so famous for. The food and service was not bad. This is the last cruise we will take for 28 days. 14 days seem to agree with my husband and myself. Read Less
Sail Date November 2012
Well, some 2 yrs ago, we flew to Hawaii, learnt how to stand up paddle board (we now have our own) and during our stay, we did the Pride of America cruise around the Hawaiian Islands - loved it so much we are flying back there this ... Read More
Well, some 2 yrs ago, we flew to Hawaii, learnt how to stand up paddle board (we now have our own) and during our stay, we did the Pride of America cruise around the Hawaiian Islands - loved it so much we are flying back there this November, then Celebrity Cruise via Tahitian Islands, Fiji, Noumea, back to Sydney. Our 2nd cruise was with Sun Princess, departing from Brisbane (this city is now one of the fastest growing cities in Australia, so watch for more cruises departing from it), sailed under the Gateway Bridge, with Mai Tai & beer. We visited Fiji, Isle of Pines and Noumea. Food was excellent, the cabin & dining room staff were fantastic, could not fault them, so polite & helpful. I made sure they got a tip. Some of my recommendations whilst in the Ports are as follows: 1. In Fiji, take the Tivuau Island excursions, lovely day out, lots of "bula", fijian beer, good snorkeling and seafood bbq. (What else do you need in life) 2. Suva - not much, but do take the time to see the Museum - to learn about Lapita pottery, and migration of Polynesians throughout the Pacific. They have the rudder from Captain Bligh's ship. on display, and the shoe of the last white man eaten by the natives (years ago of course). Nice shops in Suva, forget the markets - a bit smelly. Try a beer in Suva Bowling Club, quiet & good atmosphere. The Grand Pacific Hotel might be finished soon, should make a nice visit. 3. Isle of Pines - this place is like "Heaven on Earth" to me, my wife couldn't get me out of the water. forget the little cafe, too busy, walk the island pathways away from the beach, most interesting. The Kanaks are such lovely people. 4. Noumea - do you own thing here, buy Explorer Bus Ticket (hop on, hop off - all day long), go down Anse Vate Beach or Baie de Citrons (means Lemon Bay), swim with the locals, then stroll back toward ship terminal, for a nice coffee in one the numerous cafes. Catch the bus when you get tired. I hope this helps someone, who is contemplating a similar cruise. Oh Yes, we had a professor from Canberra, giving wonderful talks in the Auditorium on ancient sailors, navigators, space travel, etc. (I never missed one of his talks - I think he first name was Don) Read Less
Sail Date November 2012
This 10 night cruise (19th Dec-29th) was only our 2nd cruise and the first time on the Pacific Pearl. What a fantastic time myself & daughter had. Being a real traditional Xmas person I was initially sceptical about spending it on the ... Read More
This 10 night cruise (19th Dec-29th) was only our 2nd cruise and the first time on the Pacific Pearl. What a fantastic time myself & daughter had. Being a real traditional Xmas person I was initially sceptical about spending it on the high seas & worried that Xmas would be a non event. I couldn't have been more wrong. The main areas of the ship were beautifully decorated in traditional Xmas style, the Xmas day menu options,festivities and religious services were perfect. Christmas day was spent snorkeling and swimming, bathed in sunshine on beautiful Dravanui Island - pure bliss. Crew: From our cabin attendant and waiters in the Waterfront Restaurant trough to the Cruise Director, I cannot praise the crew highly enough, they were fun, polite and nothing was too much trouble. They work tirelessly and always managed a genuine smile and greeting. The meals produced for the restaurant by the Kitchen crew were of very high quality, varied and delicious.We found absolutely no need to use the two on board paying restaurants, but friends who did said they were amazing. Cabin: We were on deck 10 with an uninterrupted sea views (thanks to a complimentary upgrade). The cabin was light,really comfortable beds, cleaned perfectly and adorned with new towel animals etc for a bit of fun each day. It was comfortable, well equipped & certainly spacious enough for 2 beds and two people. Shore excursions: Provided in Tonga and Fiji.The only disappointment was boxing day in Suva as most things were closed and there was little to do, but hey, everyone deserves a Xmas break. Throughout the cruise & on our excursions we were blessed with daily sunshine and lovely warm temperatures in the pacific, the rain was restricted to very late afternoons or through the night. We were also very lucky to be sailing in relatively calm seas most day. All in all a very pleasant cruise with great passengers from all age groups. Thank you to P&O would definitely recommend it & certainly would do it again. Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
Decided to book on the Pearl with a few friends for birthday celebrations. At first glance she shall we shall weathered and is not that impressive. The attempts made by P&O to spruce her up were fairly well done, but there were ... Read More
Decided to book on the Pearl with a few friends for birthday celebrations. At first glance she shall we shall weathered and is not that impressive. The attempts made by P&O to spruce her up were fairly well done, but there were shortfalls. Embarkation did not see us board her through the Atrium, but on the promenade deck 7 near the rear of the ship. Not really a complaint, but would have been nice to see that first. Ventured up to pool deck for a look around and went for lunch in the plantation, all in all so far so good. Went for a drink on the pool deck after that and watched the rest of the passengers file on board. Went to the cabin after that and our luggage was waiting for us,as it was my partners birthday we had a lovely balloon decoration on the door and a happy birthday message.... a nice touch. Entered the cabin and yes they are very dated, but spacious enough. Decided to check out the bathroom and unpack and this is where I was not impressed. The bathroom was very dirty, luckily we had brought on some antiseptic wipes so we gave it the once over. The drawers also had a few remnants of the previous occupants. When we had unpacked and decided to put the suitcases under the bed a pair of women's shoes was discovered along with a few condoms...... Need I say more! The Salt Grill is a must do and we had dinner there on the first night. The plantation is very much hit and miss, but the food was relatively good. No real temperature problems, but I did hear from friends that room service was lousy and the food was cold. The staff around the ship are not as friendly as I was expecting. Most seemed tired, overworked and occasionally rude. Service was very slow in the public bar areas, however was very good at the waterfront. Toilets in the public areas were a problem and locating them when first on board was a problem. No toilets in the Oasis so you have to walk through the deck mid-ship and then down a level to the ones either side of the waterfront. I found this to be a real inconvenience. Did not experience problems with blocked toilets, but the cabin one did play up once. The lifts were a nightmare and it was much quicker to take the stairs. The pool area is quite good and the movie screen a nice touch. Was good at sail-aways and with the circus show. I liked the fact they played music and the film clips, but would have been nice for the film clips to match the music being played. Movies poolside were good too. The Oasis is a nice area of the ship, but the spas are far too hot and were not working properly. Staff were asked to help, but seemed non plussed and disinterested in helping and told us to just play with the buttons. The dome was a nice enough area, but again no toilets near by being a problem. The music was not to my tastes, but I'm sure others enjoyed it. The Mix bar is very nice and my favourite of the ship. The Orient I liked as well, but did not think much of the Connexions. The shops are not that good and the duty free is terrible in my opinion. It was not that much cheaper than the shops at home. Don't get me started on the tendering process. They need to use all tenders when going to ports where they are needed. Waiting for 90 mins to get off the ship made for some cranky passengers! I feel that the ship is definitely catered to the younger crowd or people in the late teens and twenties. I am not sure if it would be entirely suitable for young families. Overall I enjoyed my time on the Pearl, but I think improvements are needed and that it is for first timers who don't have anything to compare it to. For seasoned cruisers I would try a different line. Read Less
Sail Date November 2011
We have just returned from a very enjoyable cruise on Dawn Princess, my partner and I travelling this time with our 80 year old mother and her friend. We had previously been on this ship 2 years ago, on the final leg of the world cruise, ... Read More
We have just returned from a very enjoyable cruise on Dawn Princess, my partner and I travelling this time with our 80 year old mother and her friend. We had previously been on this ship 2 years ago, on the final leg of the world cruise, and this cruise compared favourably. There was some difficulty with embarkation, caused from both the Qantas strike in Australia, and the delay of the ship's arrival and departure as a result of propulsion engine trouble on the last cruise. However Princess handled these problems very well, and we finally left some 5 hours late. Our inside cabin was small, but with lots of storage space, and a bathroom slightly larger than the outside cabins, and we adapted to the small space. Our cabin steward was excellent, and attended promptly to all our requirements, such as a different pillow. The public areas were mostly good, but we were disappointed with the fitness and recreation areas, which we use a lot( not a patch on the Royal Caribbean equivalent.) The entertainment was also not really up to the usual cruise line offerings, but we went along anyway as this is part of the cruise experience we enjoy. We also enjoy a pre-dinner show before the late sitting dining, but this was not offered.The staff show was very good though, as was the passenger show and karaoke final. The food was very good to excellent, with only 2 nights of the 14 in the dining room not enjoyable. Our dining waiters were all exceptionally good. The attention to a gluten-free dietary requirement was fantastic. Horizon Court food was also very good for both breakfast and lunch, and we avoided the rush by going later than the main crowd.In the ports we easily arranged our own small tours when we got to each dock, all of which were satisfactory, at a cost of between $10 and $15 a head. Princess excursions were very expensive, but good for those who aren't confident in arranging their own. Jammers Nightclub was fun, and quite busy some nights, especially after the formal parties. Disembarkation was very quick and efficient. We had perfect weather, and smooth seas for the entire cruise, wonderful service throughout, and a very enjoyable social life while on board, all of which added up to a great cruise holiday. Read Less
Sail Date November 2011
My husband and I flew into Sydney airport from Melbourne and how easy it was to jump on the train and head for Circular Quay Station, 20 minutes later and we were there. Getting off the train but while still on the station we were greeted ... Read More
My husband and I flew into Sydney airport from Melbourne and how easy it was to jump on the train and head for Circular Quay Station, 20 minutes later and we were there. Getting off the train but while still on the station we were greeted by the wonderful sight of Rhapsody of the Seas sitting at her mooring in beautiful Sydney harbour emcompassed by the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Opera House. We decided to first walk to the opposite side of Sydney Cove and take pictures of ROTS as she looked so amazingly clean and sparkling white. There were workers in a dinghy giving the side her paint work a bit of a spruce and window cleaners suspended by ropes freshening up some of the glasswork. (I had wondered if RCI wouldn't put much effort into this cruise overall as it was only a 3 dayer, but I find this was totally unjustified.) We got some great photos, then it was on to embarkation. Looking up the side of Rhapsody as we got up close and personal with her was just breathtaking. Embarkation went pretty smoothly, it took approximately 1 hour from dropping off our bags at the luggage site to boarding the ship. This was a little longer than I expected but the time went quickly as staff directed passengers and held you in conversation while those in front were registered. We went straight to our cabin to see the view from our balcony, which we had some luck with as we had been offered the disabilities cabin. 7032 is nearly twice as big as surrounding balcony cabins and so is its balcony and ensuite. We were on the port side and so there was a great view of the Opera House, we opened the champagne and ate the choc covered strawberries we had ordered while watching the ferries going in and out of the Quay. What a great start! Alex, our steward kept our room spotless during our stay, there wasn't a time we came back to the room and it wasn't clean and freshened. He was extremely friendly, greeted us by name and was always happy to stop for a chat and to help out immediately when we needed something. Maybe it didn't hurt that we gave him a tip when we first met him, during the cruise and at the end. Make them happy and I think they will make your trip amazing. When we pulled out of the mooring at 10pm we went to the stern to watch Rhapsody back in towards the Harbour Bridge then we went forward and just absorbed the wonder of passing the city at night with all the lights and reflections bouncing off the water. The buzz in the atmosphere was electric and there was a band playing and some people dancing around the pool area. Later we went back to our cabin and watched the pilot jump back onto his boat and head back into shore. Leaving Sydney and coming back in on the final morning were highlights for us. Now for the cruise itself. I enjoyed the food in the main dinning room immensely. Some of it was very, very good and some a bit average but even the average meals were cooked well and tasty. Windjammers buffet had just about everything to suit all appetites, from diet to full on fatty, fried foods, I couldn't see how anyone could complain about the food on ROTS unless you just made the wrong choices. Windjammers at breakfast time could be a bit difficult to find a seat. RCI had sat 10 of us together for our dinner seating in the MDR and it was obvious they had taken time to organize similar ages and experience of cruising as most of those at the table were first time cruises. Excellent work! We all got on very well. Also, we had oringinally been assigned the 8:30pm seating and had requested the 6:30pm seating on our booking paperwork, we got it! Our waitress was so obliging, she remembered all our names and always had a smile on her face, her personality was just right, not over the top or pushy nor forgetful or unaccommodating. The activities were just a little bit limited for us. We don't play Bingo and don't bother much with lying around the pool as we have a pool at home but we did enjoy the trivia and the dance lessons. We went to the casino on 2 nights just for a few minutes mostly to pass some time. We had organised to meet some people through the Cruise Critic boards for a pre-dinner cocktail on the first night and enjoyed this so much that we all met each night at a different bar at 4:30, this was so much fun, made some good friends. I also realised that if we were on a cruise that was stopping at ports then the need to find activities all day long wouldn't be as necessary. Anna our cruise director certainly had the right personality for her job, very perky. I enjoyed the shows, and was quite surprised by the dancing especially on the first night, I taught dancing for many years and was aware of the complexity of the choreography and also amazed by the balance needed by the dancers on a rocking ship, even if it was ever so slight. The male dancer with the long hair, have I seen him before? He looked like a guy in the jazz class in the movie "Centre Stage". Maybe. A couple of great things happened that RCI didn't organise, on our first morning we watched Dolphins with their babies swimming below our balcony, and later in the day when we were up on the pool deck a Fighter plane from Williamstown army base did several fly overs of the ship and put on a bit of an acrobatic show for us, the sky was clear and sunny and the loud sound of the fighter was exciting as it buzzed us. You couldn't have planned a better day! We set our alarm to wake at 5:15am on the last morning and woke to the sun rising over the ocean and a beautiful view of our ship slipping in through North and South Heads. MAGIC! Disembarkation was a dream, I don't think it could have been managed better. It took all of 10 minutes to the leave the ship and start our trip home. Our bags were waiting for us and very easy to find. Would we go again on another cruise after this one?? Hmmm let me think.... I've already booked 2 more and have at least another planned. Royal Carribean have created 2 more cruise fanatics, well done! Read Less
Sail Date November 2011
This was our fourth P&O cruise and the Pearl is by far the best in our experience. The food was great, the service from the restaurant/wait staff/cabin staff was extraordinary. The teens HQ centre was new and spacious and the ... Read More
This was our fourth P&O cruise and the Pearl is by far the best in our experience. The food was great, the service from the restaurant/wait staff/cabin staff was extraordinary. The teens HQ centre was new and spacious and the activities were endless. There will always be people who put themselves on a pedestal and think that the whole world owes them a huge favour - and it seems that a lot of these people choose to go cruising. I wish they would just stay at home instead of sharing their misery with everyone else. On the last two cruises, we have got up and moved our children away from people choosing to loudly complain about trivial things. Both times it took all my strength not to tell them to go back to the mansions and butlers and 3-star Michelin chefs that must be waiting for them at home. The Chef's Dinner was an absolute highlight. Eight courses - degustation - paired with eight wines. The Maitre D'Hotel Helder Santos personally greeted us and gave us a tour of the galley before the dinner. The Executive Chef Sean Watier took the time to explain every meal that he created for us. The food was beyond anything I have had on dry land. On top of everything else, at the end of the 3 hour experience, we were given a commemorative photo of the whole dining group along with Mr Santos and Mr Watier. If I had to be critical of anything, it would be that since our last cruise two years ago, the drink service was slow in most venues and the duty-free and photography staff seemed disinterested and impersonal. But, then again, there wasn't any rush and we weren't there to shop. I would go on the Pearl again tomorrow if I could. I hope this helps potential cruisers. Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
Pacific Pearl cruise P131 Sydney October 9 - 20. 'Pacific Sunsets' - 5 Ports: Vanuatu - Luganville, Wala, Champagne Bay, Port Vila; New Caledonia - Lifou. Travel to Sydney was easy via private vehicle and the parking ... Read More
Pacific Pearl cruise P131 Sydney October 9 - 20. 'Pacific Sunsets' - 5 Ports: Vanuatu - Luganville, Wala, Champagne Bay, Port Vila; New Caledonia - Lifou. Travel to Sydney was easy via private vehicle and the parking arrangements at Darling Harbour for the cruises are easy to deal with, with no cost. Embarkation process was fairly easy and painless, and seemed to go smoothly. Given that our cabin was on deck 5 midships near the Atrium we also easily located it, and subsequently had a smooth trip (mostly). The first three 'sea days' were quite smooth, as were the subsequent sailings to the ports. There was then about a day and a half of rough swell, I estimated at times up to about 8 metres, with what I would describe as about a constant 5 metre swell, thankfully not too many actual waves. The sick bags were put out and at times many people appeared to be in their cabins (based on the lack of people seen). This being my families second cruise we prepared for it this time, by taking medication as a preventative measure, and no doubt the fact our cabin was in a fairly central location helped as well. Our precautions and cabin selection certainly seemed to save us the hassle and pain experienced two years ago (granted, first cruise) of our son getting a needle. No such problems this time. I definitely recommend going for a mid level and midship type window cabin as a minimum. The 'stateroom' for the three of us (Mum, dad, child) seemed spacious enough and there was loads of drawer space for the too many clothes we took with us. I would say however, that in regard to being 'refitted' the extent of that in the cabins is likely only the flat screen Tv's. Further evidence of this was discovered on a search one day when we thought we had misplaced a piece of clothing, and subsequent pulling out of a drawer found items of clothing not belonging to us, along with photographs of people from a 2008 cruise on Ocean Village (Pearl's previous name). We have decided to try and find the people ourselves (perhaps with this websites help) through the internet. Our cabin steward was friendly and kept the cabin clean and tidy, with a good supply of towels and had the uncanny knack of hardly being seen, but tidying up as needed (even when we had the occasional sleep in). Others had some issues with their cabins, and there appeared to be more than one location on the ship where toilets had overflowed in cabins, with blowers seen in halls and from what was heard carpets replaced, but no major gripes heard in regard to this. The placement of public access toilets seems to need some work, or at least some co-ordination of the cleaning schedules, with many occasions finding a toilet being cleaned, directed to another level and that one also being cleaned (for us being midship, often quicker and easier to go to our own cabin). Not too many breakdowns of the public toilet system, though most are probably caused by persons putting items down them that they shouldn't, of course depending on where a breakdown happens it can affect cabins as well (obviously a system that needs some work). For us personally though, no real dramas with access to facilities. Kids club. Our son was in Turtle Cove, with friends also having children in Turtle Cove and Shark Shack. All of the kids known to us (7 in all) always wanted to go, and were by no means 'dumped' by the parents involved. With the ability to be able to authorise friends to drop off and pick up, along with older kids (8 and over) being able to be given sign in/out privileges (up to a certain time) the process wasn't too painful. Though the entrance to/from is fairly narrow and bottle necks occurred at times when group 'non sign in' activities had finished and the club was re-opened with the subsequent rush creating a bottleneck. Though there seemed to be no issues with a laid back bunch on this cruise. The kids seemed to like the activities, and for those that didn't want to do them, there were PlayStation's and the like. There were activities advertised for shark shack to play playstation up on the big screen on Deck 12, but apparently only a few were selected for this, which no doubt may cause dramas for some parents with certain types of children, though no major issues were heard on this cruise. Activities/Entertainment. Activities generally seemed okay, particularly for those of us into trivia (apart from the 65 cruise 'veterans' who new all of the recycled questions, but were beaten a few times). Though given the presence of children and teenagers many 'adult' type comedy shows and the like were on late, which for those of us with children meant at times missing out. I did hear some complaints of others about the lack of activities, and perhaps for those that don't like trivia, bingo or a lecture on quilling, activities would be lacking. The entertainment such as the singer/dancers put on a good show, as did the comedian. The magician/illusionist was excellent, but unfortunately was only on for one show. The 'Marquee' where shows are held has seating and sight issues that should probably be addressed. The cruise director Zoltina-J (apparently the only Australian crew member on board) was vivacious and outgoing, with an exceptional assistant director Willie, ably assisted by Gareth. The 'entertainment team' was apparently down on two members but still managed to run the activities with assistance of dance crew members. Outside activities may have suffered due to the missing two members. Dining. Plantation. The plantation is the buffet and we used it at all times for breakfast, sometimes for lunch, and never at dinner time. The breakfast selection seemed to leave very little for anyone to complain about and we had no complaints in regard to the variety on offer, with Soy milk available on request, and full cream and skim always on hand in jugs. The cutlery, trays and plates were always initially issued by a crew member and all people entering Plantation and Waterfront had to use sanitizer (a good thing upon seeing some not washing hands in rest rooms). The lunch service generally had a good selection, but the drink service left a lot to be desired. On more than one occasion it was quicker to go out onto deck 12 to the bar or a cart to order a drink and bring it back in, than wait for the at times non existent waiter to come and take drink orders. We took a few lunches in the Waterfront Restaurant and the drink service was bordering on appalling. At times, it would take 20 minutes or more just to place an initial order, and if you had managed to order and receive an initially drink, you could just about forget on ordering a second one later. There seemed to be a distinct lack of drink waiters on the lunch service, luckily they always filled up the glasses on the table with water, or you would have gone thirsty. At dinner service, ourselves and friends had the same table each night and our waiter did an admirable job along with his assistant. I say admirable as when he was with us he was very attentive, particularly to the children, but appeared rushed. A cake was also organised by him for one of the children in our group who had a birthday on board. I believe they may have been down on wait staff as well. The meals seemed generally good, but temperature was at times an issue, as was timing of entrees and mains, and I found the dessert selection disappointing. My wife requested in advance lactose free meals and this was accommodated, even on an evening when she indicated that the menu the next day had nothing to appeal, our waiter had the food and beverage supervisor approach us and organised for specific meals for my wife. We were quite happy just to go to the buffet, and certainly made no fuss about it, but they went above and beyond in providing a special meal the next night, with the supervisor coming by to check. That was exceptional service. The drink service again suffered in the Waterfront, but was not quite as bad as the lunch service. The staff and supervisors all seemed to do good jobs, and likely just a bit of tweaking is needed to improve drink service. I suspect that staff numbers is likely an issue. Other. Photographs. Overpriced. The photographs taken by the onboard photographers were overpriced, and at times poorly taken (eyes closed, come on!!). Worse still, even after people had gathered all of their photos behind one (thus saving space) and were considering possible purchase, they were all thrown out without warning, signs were then put up after the fact requesting that unwanted photos be handed in. Personally didn't do shopping on board, but I was reliably informed that everything is overpriced. Better to shop at ports (Vila) for genuine duty free. . Ports. The tender service to Wala, Champagne bay and the like was well run, a vast improvement on our Pacific Dawn experience two years ago. I would caution the value of P & O run shore excursions. Took one in Luganville, and the van was un air conditioned with vinyl seats (advertised as A/C), luckily being from a hot weather area not too much of a concern for us, but others would have issues. The 'free' walking tour (donations requested) we took on wala seemed like better value than the paid trip at luganville, with more tribes people involved and more activities shown. The water at all ports was beautifuly clear, but unfortunately a few of us got some rashes from the Champagne Bay visit, which was likely down to sea lice of sorts, not too bad though and lasted only a day or so. Vila is the place (in Vanuatu) to save any duty free shopping for. All ports on the cruise accepted Australian currency, and given we were in Vila on a Sunday we still had quite a few shops to look at, a long with self organised tours. Some may find the touting of the local taxi drivers at the port confronting, but our group of seven managed to get a good air conditioned van with a good driver for the day for a good price. Vila is a place my family and I intend to return to. Disembarkation was well organised and painless. In summary, I would say that as long as someone isn't expecting a 5 star experience, then P & O offer value for money. If someone goes on board ready to pick nits, they'll find issues, but if you go on in holiday mode and go with the flow, it's a good experience. Even those of us laid back and relaxed, notice things like poor drink service, but even then you generally manage to live with it. The ship had some creaks and groans when in the rough seas, and the cabins certainly haven't been refurbished, but I would say that for a family after a value for money experience, you can't go much wrong with P & O Australia. Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
This ship is dark,dreary and past its use by date. Service was shocking;we had problems oredering wine with our meals,wine turning up after meal was completed for 3 nights running,waiter seemed suprised when we asked for the wine to be ... Read More
This ship is dark,dreary and past its use by date. Service was shocking;we had problems oredering wine with our meals,wine turning up after meal was completed for 3 nights running,waiter seemed suprised when we asked for the wine to be served before the start of meal.On ordering a bottle of sparkling wine waiter appeared with 1 sherry glass and 1 wine glass !! Dirty glasses were placed on our table,and left for the duration of our meal,despite asking waiter to get rid of them,these were NOT our glasses.Open sitting dinner does not work;despite going to the inconvenience of booking a table we still had to wait.We were also shocked at poor dress standards of other diners,it is not polite to wear baseball hats at the table,nor wear boardies or thongs! 5 days passed before we were approached by a waiter out on the decks,same poor service in Charlies cafe.Waiters walked round in a dream and would not give eye contact. Why does the music have to be so loud out on Lido deck?Why do we have to put up with music videos going on the screen all day long?Surely the staff could see the mass exodus when dreadful Rap,Hip Hop music was put on.If we were at a resort we would NOT want a large screen flickering all day long,KEEP the screen for night time,movies under the stars....do not inflict it on passengers. P&O you lost a lot of money from wine,beer,cocktails and coffees sales due to poor waiting staff. We also did not appreciate the very loud music from the Lido,we could actually hear it in our cabin on deck 10.The balcony was virtually unusable due to outward opening door,also the stench of cigarette smoke wafting up from deck 7 and down from deck 12,we had asked for non smoking,we should have been told smoking was on the starboard side. We spent $9.000 dollars on this cruise,and feel very cheated on our experience. Read Less
Sail Date October 2011

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