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69 South Pacific Holiday Cruise Reviews

The 28 day Sapphire Princess cruise from LA to the South Seas ran the gamut of service and enjoyment. THE EXCELLENT: Our mini-suite and our steward, Dionie. We had an AA mini-suite that more than fulfilled our needs and comfort and it ... Read More
The 28 day Sapphire Princess cruise from LA to the South Seas ran the gamut of service and enjoyment. THE EXCELLENT: Our mini-suite and our steward, Dionie. We had an AA mini-suite that more than fulfilled our needs and comfort and it was always serviced in a timely manner. Our waiter (waitress) Amyout was the best we've ever had in 35 years of cruising. An amazing lady. Our assistant waiter, Jeronimo, was excellent as well. The folks serving at the Savoy coffee bar were also at this level. Most of the staff on board was in this category (with exceptions to be named later) as they always were friendly and helpful. Most of our fellow cruisers also fell into this category. THE GOOD: The food was good to adequate. Nothing really exceptional but nothing awful, either. The ports were good to excellent but it would have been nice to be in the S. Pacific islands (not Hawaii) longer. I would rate the entire cruise experience as GOOD. THE BAD: Poor planning regarding Captain's Circle events. The CC party was 2,000 fellow Gold and Elite and Plat. cruisers wedged into the atrium for what? Maybe a watered down drink if you were "lucky" enough to snag one. Poor planning regarding activities on the 8 day voyage returning to LA. In some cases, the most interesting events were planned at the same time. The inability to get into the theater or Wheelhouse Bar to see the "entertainment." If you didn't get a seat and hour or more before the show, you didn't get one. The entertainment was stretched to the limit and most of the entertainers were repeaters that most of us had seen on other Princess cruises. The daily Patter was mainly advertisements for overpriced on board "sales" and services. It never listed the specialty buffets on Deck 14 held every other day or so. The only way one found out about them was to happen upon them. The Patter also tried to convey the message that there were limited taxis and transportation available in the Samoan Islands and Moorea trying to get passengers to book the ship's tours. However, there were always many, many taxis and private tour buses waiting at each port. I would imagine the Cruise Director is responsible for all of this so I guess I'd have to rate him "Bad." Noon announcements from the Bridge were given by a person with a very, very strong accent that made them completely unintelligible. Being from a bi-lingual family, I have complete empathy for his problem but the announcements were useless because of this. Two of my table mates asked me, quite seriously, if he was speaking English. THE UGLY: The Future Cruise person was the rudest, most sarcastic, most snide and unfriendly cruise line employee of any category that I have ever encountered. At a very large Cruise Critic Meet and Greet she was at her worst--and she told us she didn't care if we liked her or her methods or not because she "had a very good pension she could retire on" at that moment and nothing was lost according to her. In another instance I was dropping off my future cruise paper in the proper box (I wouldn't talk to her) and I heard her comment to a passenger as she was writing down her name, "I don't know how to spell it and, frankly, I don't care." She was unbelievable. OVERALL: My wife and I did have a good time on the cruise. We're into relaxing and taking it easy and so down time is important to us. On a trip of this length, there's lots of that. Our room steward made us comfortable in our cabin and our waitress made us comfortable at dinner and we met lots of great people and saw some beautiful islands--and it was a cruise out of LA, and that's important to us. The tours were adequate and, as usual, over priced but we knew that going in. So much of what takes place on a cruise is open to many levels of criticism depending on the individual. Would we take this particular cruise again? Probably not. However we will take Princess again and already have a 20 day Caribbean cruise on Emerald Princess booked for March of next year. Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
We always wanted to go to the south pacific and this was an affordable cruise with Holland America an round trip from San Diego. We had a great time visiting all the ports and overall enjoyed the cruise. However, we will not be cruising ... Read More
We always wanted to go to the south pacific and this was an affordable cruise with Holland America an round trip from San Diego. We had a great time visiting all the ports and overall enjoyed the cruise. However, we will not be cruising on this line again do to the demographics of the ship. If you are over 75 this is the cruise for you. Fellow Passengers: The passengers were definitely seasoned cruisers as the brochure states. We knew that the typical demographic was 50 plus. This cruise attracted passengers that fit a demographic of 75 to 90 year olds. Many people joked that this was a floating nursing home. Lots of wheel chairs, walkers and electric scooters on the ship. My husband and I do have our AARP cards however, were surprised by the age group of the passengers. We did not have much in common with the majority of our fellow passengers. Overall people were friendly and we made some new friendships. Dinning: The food was great on the ship lido and the dining room. Varied menu items. Quality was good. The only snacks available in the afternoon were deserts in the Lido. No healthy foods like yogurt, or cottage cheese or veggies. The lido also closed early at 8:00 pm then late night snack from 10 to 11 pm. The service in the lido was poor. Wait staff did not pick up the dirty dishes in front of you. Many times I had to bus our table. The service in the dining room I would rate poor. One evening I had to chase down the waiter as he forgot to take my husband's order for dinner. Food did not come out of the kitchen consistently. When ordering food sometimes more often than not, the people's food came out at different times. By the time I finished eating my husband was just being served. There is an opportunity for additional training for the wait staff. Italian Restaurant, Canaletto was fairly good it is similar to the leading chain restaurant and is not gourmet Italian fair. It was not worth the 10 dollars per person. Steak House, Pinnacle Grill -- We found that we did not need to make a reservation at this restaurant we just walked in and were seated. This steak house did not meet our expectations. The cost was $20 per person. We ordered steaks -- filet and rib eye. The rib eye was tough very hard to cut my husbands appeared to be baked not seared rare. They had to be using a lower grad of Sterling Beef. I was expecting an experience like we get when we dine at Motrin's or Ruth's Chris steak house, USDA Prime Beef. When you spend $45 for a steak you get the best. We sent our steaks back and our money was refunded. Public Rooms: We did not care for the layout of the ship -- it was very compartmental. Not open like other cruise ships. The pool area most of the time had the cover closed it was like a sauna. People would get there early and sleep in the lounge chairs all day. We spent most of our time out back of the ship at the pool. Cabin: Our inside cabin was extremely small -- the bed just fit and we had one small chair with a table. The space for clothing ext.. was limited. It would be good for a 7 day cruise but, not for a 30 day. I felt like we were hiding in the closet. I have stayed in inside cabins but never one this small. We did not spend very much time in the room so it was not that big of a deal. SPA and Fitness: The gym was adequate plenty of machines etc.. However, you had to pay extra for boot camp, spin and yoga. There were no cardio classes available -- aerobics or zumba. It was extremely hot in the gym and the staff was asked several times to turn on the air conditioning but, they said they asked the captain and he would not change the temperature. Shore Excursions: We did not purchase any shore excursions from Holland. We found them extremely overpriced. We purchased our excursions in the ports from the locals. Tendering was a challenge -- long wait times to get off the ship. Some were 1 hour from the time you got your number to get off the ship. Once again do your homework - if you are used to the FUN SHIP this is not the cruise for you. Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
Background: We're 60 year old Australians with only 8 previous cruises with which to compare. This cruise was offered to us by email 3 weeks prior at a great last minute price. Back in the 80's & 90's we had cruised ... Read More
Background: We're 60 year old Australians with only 8 previous cruises with which to compare. This cruise was offered to us by email 3 weeks prior at a great last minute price. Back in the 80's & 90's we had cruised to some of these islands. Embarkation: This is the first cruise to which we didn't have to fly as we live near Brisbane. The shuttle service offered by the nearby car storage was efficient. Embarkation went smoothly with lines moving quickly. The wait for your number to be called was reasonable considering we were early. Once on board, we were directed to our cabin where we left our hand luggage and went exploring, followed by lunch. The ship left on time at 2 pm. One of our suitcases took until late afternoon to appear. The Ship: Built in 1991 this ship was showing its age but the recent refurbishment helped it feel modern. Public areas were nicer than we expected. As it was originally the Regal Princess there was similarities to that line. There was some rough weather on this cruise with some seasickness experienced by other passengers. Perhaps a more modern ship would have handled the waves better. Cabin: Our ocean-view cabin was very pleasing and surprisingly large. With the bed head on the side wall the window view was quite good. The bed was comfortable with 4 pillows supplied. This was the first time our suitcases couldn't fit under the bed but there was a space on both sides of the window behind the curtain where we could stow them. We liked the open style walk-in type robe which had good hanging space. The shower was a generous size. One of the things changed during the refurbishment were new flat-screen TVs (a bit small). The small fridge was handy for keeping our supply of Coke & snacks cold. Our only disappointment was that the floor had obviously not been vacuumed and the plug was jammed fast in the basin. When we pointed this out to our cabin steward he apologised profusely and immediately rectified the problems. He seemed very efficient at his job. Food & drinks: Overall we found the service in the main dining room (Palm Court) to be fine but the standard of food was inferior ' maybe they were hoping more people would use the extra-charge restaurants (which we didn't use). There was a noticeable lack of seafood other than fish ' not even the usual prawn cocktails (as my DW is not a seafood lover she was happy with the quality). We were pleased with being able to choose side vegetables on the menu. Although you were supposed to book each night for dinner, we sat with a lovely couple from our Cruise Critic roll call and they were able to organise the same table and dining time for the whole cruise. It is relaxing having the same dinner companions and the same dining room staff got to know our preferences. After experiencing the long lines at the buffet (Caf' Del Sol) the first morning, we used the MRD for breakfast every other morning. The food seemed better and the atmosphere more relaxing for breakfast. We did use the buffet for lunch but wished there were separate food stations as on other ships ' trays are still supplied. Some times the line stretched almost out the door! There were rolls and French fries available outside on the deck. Food at the buffet is not available 24/7 as on Princess ships and the times varied between sea and port days. Disappointedly burgers, prawns and ice-cream were only available for a price (except vanilla ice-cream was available in the MRD at night). The only exception was on the last day at lunch when prawns were offered at the buffet ' maybe they hadn't sold enough! Coffee and tea was available 24/7 but there were no cookies at any time ' except by buying them from the coffee shop! Also we missed the freshly made waffles for breakfast offered on some other ships. There was no drink packages offered ' a can of soft drink was expensive at $2.75. Wine choices and price were similar to other cruise lines. Room service was $3 for delivery. We were pleased to see hand-sanitizers at MRD and the buffet. Also the public toilets had the main door open and/or paper towels supplied to open them. Staff and service on board: Generally the staff were friendly and polite. The service was as expected for a 3 star ship. Entertainment: We enjoyed the shows in the main theatre as we have done on other cruises. These are the highlight of our evening. The lighting and costumes in the production shows were spectacular and the performers on the stage worked hard to entertain. The other entertainers were good as was the Cruise director. Also in the atrium on 2 nights an acrobatic group from Columbia performed - they were just amazing. This was viewable from three decks with the only downsize was the lack of seating provided. The program of activities from which to choose was fine. Some of our highlights were the humorous culinary demonstration in the theatre & the passenger singing competition. We did miss not having the informative enrichment lectures offered my other lines. At the open games/card venue offered by the ship, we found 3 lovely passengers with whom we played cards every day. Shore Excursions & Destinations: We normally try to avoid shore excursions organised by ships as we feel that they were too expensive. On this cruise we were happy to do our own thing. Armed with maps & information collected before the cruise, we easily explored ourselves. Three of the 4 ports required using tenders and the delays with these were reasonable. As the weather was very wet at the 1st port, Isle of Pines (and we'd been there before), we stayed on the ship. At the next, Mystery Island we walked around the island and snorkelled. The 3rd stop was Port Villa, the only docking port where we did our own walking tour followed by shopping ' duty-free alcohol was the only thing cheap there (e.g. 2L bottle of Jim Beam for $20). The last port, Lifou Isle was disappointing as the lovely snorkelling beach (Jinek Bay) was difficult to access as the steps were washed away last year and still not replaced ' don't forget they're on island time!. The only means of accessing the beach was by a primitive ladder that had slippery and widely spaced rungs. My DW did not want to risk it. Disembarkation: Being one of the last groups to leave the ship, we were delayed way past the scheduled time of departure. Maybe disembarkation was delayed by customs. Anyway, we weren't in any rush as we only had to collect our car from storage and drive home. Conclusion: As we paid $72 each per day for an ocean-view cabin which is less than half the usual promoted special price for this cruise, we certainly had value for money. Anyone paying the usual price may have felt different. This is only rated a 3 star ship by P&O and as such is not to the usual standard of Princess or Holland America which are owned by the same company, Carnival Corporation. Australians are a bit of a captive segment as until recently P&O had no competition here. In the present economic climate this has changed but Carnival still requires Australians to book through the local agent thus missing out on discounts offered to Americans. Also P&O doesn't have a loyalty program like its sisters' lines. Being retired we could take advantage of the late special. Anyone with children would need to book early as there were 300 children on this cruise and it wasn't school holidays! In our opinion the ship, service and entertainment are generally satisfactory but the quality of the food could have improved for seafood lovers. We would recommend P&O at the right price and would sail again with them. Read Less
Sail Date September 2011
When we first saw the fly/cruise deal with Air New Zealand and the Rhapsody of the Seas on the internet we thought there must be a catch ! glad we booked when we did as there was no catch, price even (N.Z.$3250.00 each )included ... Read More
When we first saw the fly/cruise deal with Air New Zealand and the Rhapsody of the Seas on the internet we thought there must be a catch ! glad we booked when we did as there was no catch, price even (N.Z.$3250.00 each )included gratuities. We first flew to Hawaii for 7 nights in the Ohana West hotel, not a 5 star hotel but very nice, it is only a short walk to Waikiki beach, you could also board one of many free trams that stop right outside the front of the hotel, after 7 nights exploring Honolulu we boarded the beautiful Rhapsody of the seas, our boarding experience was quite smooth but I understand others had a 3 hour wait. This being our second cruise we knew to head straight up to the Windjammer restaurant for lunch and as for the rest of the cruise there was an abundance of food the selection was fabulous, the other main restaurant The Edelweiss is just stunningly beautiful, everything about this ship is graceful everywhere there are curves, sweeping gracious lines, the centrum with the incredible art piece rising through 5 stories just magnificent, back to the restaurant the service was 5 star the food 5 star the choice 5 star, thanks Cleo and Ireal for looking after us so well. I hired a Tuxedo on board, very pleased I did as the formal nights were very special, even the cabin attendants wore bow ties on formal nights. Our ports of call were Papeete, Moorea and Bora Bora in Tahiti, all very beautiful, would have to say though the shore excursions were half the price on shore than what we paid on the ship, and the snorkeling was not that great, after Tahiti we cruised back to Auckland New Zealand 14 nights altogether on this magnificent ship, would go on it again tomorrow if we could. Must mention we found as did others that the web sight was hard to navigate and it proved impossible to hire the tuxedo on line. Read Less
Sail Date September 2011
In September 2011 we flew to Honolulu from Brisbane for our first ever cruise. Having researched a number of cruise lines and destinations the Radiance inaugural voyage to Australia. The Radiance usually does the Alaska/ Hawaii cruisers. ... Read More
In September 2011 we flew to Honolulu from Brisbane for our first ever cruise. Having researched a number of cruise lines and destinations the Radiance inaugural voyage to Australia. The Radiance usually does the Alaska/ Hawaii cruisers. Sometime in July Radiance went into dry dock in Vancouver and underwent a major renovation - adding restaurants, a few single cabins and sprucing up other cabins/ main areas. The ship definitely sparkles! Our flight to Honolulu was fairly easy, despite the 5 hour lay over in Nadi, Fiji. We stayed in the airport and just relaxed/ people watched and enjoyed a rather delicious pizza. We flew Air Pacific - smallish plane but just comfortable enough for the journey. In Honolulu (we were there for 2.5 days) we stayed at Moana Surfrider - a hotel we can highly recommend! It was charming, luxurious and just went way beyond our expectations. For $365AUD for a Classic Ocean Banyon room it was worth paying more than what we would normally. It was a special occasion so we thought 'Why not!'. Excited by the cruise we triple checked our boarding passes and realised that despite the cruise guest booklet we had been emailed/ downloaded from the Royal Caribbean website stating the boarding time was 9pm (we thought that was odd) it was actually 1.30pm - though they were accepting passengers from 11am. We gave up any plans of a visit to Pearl Harbour - packed up and headed to the terminal. Boarding was a breeze! Even though we had a trainee learning the ropes to check us in it was smooth and uncomplicated. In no time we were on the ship - with our new favourite thing: the Sea Pass. Straight into our room to have a look around before we explored the ship. We had a balcony room on the 7th floor - room 7122. Perfect for us. Great size. Amazing storage and very comfortable bed. For the next 17 days we enjoyed every moment of our holiday. So much so it would be hard to pick a favourite activity. We tried every restaurant and not once let down. However some of the serving sizes are just completely overboard! Tip: if you go to Samba Grill - don't eat much that day - save yourself! The entertainment was a little cheesy but gave us a laugh. The bars were fun and we made some great friends that we enjoyed several nights out with. The pool deck can get crowded but eventually we always found a seat and enjoyed the pool that at times felt like a wave pool because of the swells in the ocean. Fun! We enjoyed a few shore excursions - taking advantage of a lot of advice to not book on the ship. There were so many options at the wharf in each port of call and usually 1/3 of the price! We highly recommend a helicopter ride over Bora Bora (about $450 for 15mins for 2 people) stunning!!! The staff on the Radiance were always on top of their game. Never once letting us down and not a grumpy one amongst all 900 of them (that we saw!). Most of the staff had never been to Australia before so they were excited about the new summer season cruising in Australia / New Zealand. We were sad to disembark in Sydney as we would have desperately loved to cruise all the way around to Perth. Maybe next time! Our photos and more in depth tips/ review can be seen on our blog. Please comment - we would love to hear your stories and answer questions. As first time cruisers we have found our passion! Just have to plan the next one :) cruiseonradiance.blogspot.com Read Less
Sail Date September 2011
Where can I start, our cruise of a lifetime on the beautiful Pacific Pearl. Right from the start let me say just how surprised I was by the Pacific Pearl and the staff on the ship. From the moment we boarded Pacific Pearl we were made to ... Read More
Where can I start, our cruise of a lifetime on the beautiful Pacific Pearl. Right from the start let me say just how surprised I was by the Pacific Pearl and the staff on the ship. From the moment we boarded Pacific Pearl we were made to feel at home and part of a great family. The staff were polite, cheerful, helpful but more importantly they were fun. From the games they played, to entertainment provided by the singers and dancers to the friendly drink and food waiters they all had time to talk and make you smile.I found the ship to be in surprisingly good shape for a ship of her age.... I could see where they have refurbished the Waterfront dinning room, the Connections Bar, Orient Bar these 3 main areas were impressive, clean, comfortable and enjoyable. Charlies Cafe in the Atrium sold a wonderful Fruit Tart and we often skipped desert in the Waterfront to have one. The pools were FANTASTIC the fact there is a pool reserved for the adults and one for the kids was great not to mention the Splash Bar... or as we call it, a swim-up bar which had a waterfall into the pool. What a great place to socialise and cool down. The Big Screen was a big hit especially with playstation gaming access and movies. The Oasis area was a comfortable area for adults only including 2 spas and cocktails at their own bar. Our accommodation was well appointed with plenty of storage space for hanging and large drawers. The plantation buffet was a sensational place to dine with the open air area at the aft of the ship, the food was always fresh and hot with a terrific variety from salads to full roast meals and deserts to die for. We had plenty of time for some Duty Free Shopping on board and the variety was exceptional. We found that the self serve Shore Tour booking operation to be highly efficient and a convenient way to keep track of on board account transactions. There are 2 ATM's available and currency can be converted via the purser prior to each port of call and the exchange rate was often much higher on the ship then in the ports well done P&O Dining at the Salt Grill Restaurant is highly recommended I was very pleasantly surprised at the size, range and quality of the food in the Salt Grill and the service and presentation was second to none. What can I say this was my trip of a life time and like any Trip or Holiday its only what you make of it, You are presented with opportunity and what you make of them is completely up to you trust me I made the most of mine and loved every minute of my Tahhiti holiday. Read Less
Sail Date July 2011
Having been on cruise in past on Royal Carribean the thought that P & O were bringing a "MEGA" to NZ was exciting so we booked not long after the cruise itinerary came out in 2009 for Jan 11 cruise. We booked top suite on top ... Read More
Having been on cruise in past on Royal Carribean the thought that P & O were bringing a "MEGA" to NZ was exciting so we booked not long after the cruise itinerary came out in 2009 for Jan 11 cruise. We booked top suite on top deck. The build up to our first ever Pacific cruise was huge and we counted the days after a long unpleasant 2010 year to board the ship on Jan 9th 2011 to sail away to paradise. Pleasantly surprised by our suite and even more so by the room steward we had Jheffery (yes that is how it is spelt) settled in for ten nights of bliss!. The weather for first few days was ok but surely hot enough and good for sunbathing on the deck, sipping cocktails, swimming etc . Day three was the hottest by far and so simply melted all day on the top deck. We were advised that day that our first stop at Mystery Island was cancelled as a tropical depression over Vanuatu had turned to cyclone and therefore unsafe for us to make land there. Then HELL broke loose , woken in middle of night in massive (confirmed up to ten metre) seas, cupboards slamming, fell out of bed, things falling from shelves, kids very frightened after realising that the ride was not going to stop and there was nowhere to go even if you could try and walk around. The ship pounded into the huge seas and slamming down into the bow and completely shuddering all night long....... we are boat people but honestly felt extremely helpless waiting for the call to muster stations which thank god didn't eventuate. The ship the next morning was of course like a ghost ship, sick bags everywhere, restaurants empty and so fourth.. the weather continued to to be foul and rough. We limped into Port Vila which itself was trashed from the cyclone, there we sat. The damage to the ship was evident, large gashes bow and stern, photo's of this saw you marched off by security smartly! Captain announced that the itinerary was cancelled and we would be heading four days at sea home to get there for the correct arrival time to begin the next cruise. Saturday morning after requesting to know what the weather was expected to do we find out that people have been leaving the ship to fly home the day before and several were sitting awaiting to leave with their suitcases as we enquired at reception. Despite demanding to talk to someone who actually knew about what was happening they refused to do that in reception instead promised to call us in our suite - obviously the topic was delicate for them. They called us within the hour to advise the trip back was expected to be the same possibly worse... the receptionist then joked "can I come with you when you leave"... interesting comment? Anyway straight away we booked flights to leave the ship the cost of which had shot through the roof over night due to heavy demand for people wanting to leave the ship. Leaving the ship was awful, we passed families, mothers, older people, many of whom were in tears as they couldn't afford the flights out and therefore had to stay on the ship for the unknown journey home. Our kids were relieved as were we to get out of the hell situation.. by this stage the ships pools were not functioning, the entertainment schedule had run out of steam and shrunk to a couple of things per days rather than the full schedule we were used to , the captain had all but stopped communications with passengers and generally staff on board had lost all interest, were tired and in need of good rest! WE understand P & O cant help the weather and accept that BUT what we cant accept is the complete lack of communication from the bridge so we set out to ask P & O the following: - could the captain perhaps have even asked if all passengers were okay the next day, made effort to provide some sort of goodwill like free doctor check for those in need, free internet to keep in touch with loved ones who were worried, free drinks, cabin credits or such like? - not a single mention was made to all passengers of the expected weather on the trip home, we only found out because we demanded to know, - NO mention was made of the further two cyclones headed down the Pacific to NZ, these hit NZ on the Tuesday 18th at midnight just when the ship was expecting to round Cape Reinga for the leg home - WHY.. simply put they needed to be back for the next cruise to depart on Wednesday. - no efforts was made to inform anyone to allay rumours or talk which was rampant on facebook, text and mobile about reports on the cyclone in New Zealand, - the mobile network on the ship was not working for anyone we spoke to , only when we got to Vila did it work hence the panic by relatives at home who couldn't get hold of anyone after hearing about the weather conditions. - not a single apology or contact from P & O on our arrival home to talk about what happened, any offer in relation to the cancellation of the itinerary - instead of a ten days cruise to different places we got a ten days taxi ride to nowhere. - not a mention of the earthquake off the coast of Lifou which we got rung and told about.. this was supposed to be our next stop, when asked at reception they knew nothing of it.. strange? - since contacting P & O we find they aren't that committed to NZ, instead have front ed with a BIG ship, lots of hype and sales activity but if you want any help you must go to Australia who don't give a damn! Port Vila was a shocker! Passengers were basically fed to the wolves (taxi drivers) when you got off the ship, the yelled at you, pulled at your clothes and basically just wanted to rip you off... older couples were prime targets waiting to happen and P & O made not a single show of effort to ensure that people were protected from this shocking display at the port next to the ship .. absolute anarchy to say the least! We are reasonable people, would rather discuss issues and sort out, but if someone puts our kids through hell like this without a single apology or recognition of the fact that they need to look after their customers and communicate then they shouldn't be in the business of tourism. Royal Carribean are coming to the Pacific now, they will have our lifelong business from now on, they have courted us on their ship "Rhapsody of the Seas" that was in Auckland couple of weeks ago and they know how to run a business like this... customers matter! We don't care about the money, we don't want money all we want is recognition and discussion about what happened.. instead we are left completely ripped off to the tune of $12,000 (cruise cost), no holiday and a letter from P & O stating take your problem legal if you wish to pursue. Our request to talk with Anne Sherry the CEO of Carnival Australia has been declined. Travel with them at your own risk, maintenance doesn't appear priority (clearly since the large atrium chandelier fell several stories to the floor some three weeks - clearly weakened by our trip one would imagine.. fortunately no poor sole killed) YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!!!! Read Less
Sail Date January 2011
We have just returned from our 9 night cruise to the South Pacific and thought we would provide some feedback. Overall our experience aboard Rhapsody was very positive and we would be happy to sail on this ship again in the future. ... Read More
We have just returned from our 9 night cruise to the South Pacific and thought we would provide some feedback. Overall our experience aboard Rhapsody was very positive and we would be happy to sail on this ship again in the future. Our initial boarding was a bit stressful. We were advised to board at 12.30pm.....however it would appear that judging by the queues, everybody else was trying to board at that time swell. In Hindsight I would avoid this peak time and come a little later...the Windjammer was open for lunch until 3.30pm so you could still grab a bite the eat then. Having said that the staff checking you in were sensitive to our family with a toddler who was getting very overtired and distressed and processed us very quickly. Departure from the ship on the final day was so quick and easy though! Fantastic! Once on board we were able to go straight to our rooms were our bags had already been delivered...very fast. We had two interconnecting rooms for our family of five and found this set up worked very well. The rooms were very clean and nicely presented. We bought along our own portable DVD player for our toddler, but the TV did have some kids programs showing as well which came in handy for some rest time. We ate breakfast and lunch predominately in the Windjammer which we found was pretty good. Most evenings we ate in the Main dining room, which was lovely. The staff really go out of their way to give you a great dining experience...not happy with your meal selection...no problem they get you another. We travelled with extended familyand kids...at all times I felt it was a family friendly Friendly staff. The ports of Isle of Pines and Lilfou Island were our favorites with good snorkeling. We would definitely take our own snorkeling gear next trip as it was sometimes difficult to get gear on the Islands. I would also recommend everyone invest in long sleeve rash tops to protect from sunburn....I can't tell you how many sunburnt people were wandering sound the ship after visiting the first Port of Isles of Pine. Once you are badly sunburnt it makes the rest of the holiday less enjoyable! X-Mas was lovely on the boat! There was a lovely big tree in the Centrum, Santa gave out presents and there was caroling. There was lots for the kids to do, the little once loved the face painting. We didn't really use the kids club so can't give any feedback there. Overall found the ship to be very friendly and relaxed. Can't think of anything else, but if anyone has any questions happy to answer them! Read Less
Sail Date December 2010
I travelled with hubby, 16 year old daughter and 86 year old mother on the Rhapsody's Xmas cruise from Sydney. We had a ball and this style of holiday is certainly value for money. Embarkation was easy, we got there at about 3pm ... Read More
I travelled with hubby, 16 year old daughter and 86 year old mother on the Rhapsody's Xmas cruise from Sydney. We had a ball and this style of holiday is certainly value for money. Embarkation was easy, we got there at about 3pm and it took about 20 mins to board. Our bags reached our rooms before we did. We had 2 outside rooms, they weren't huge but fine for 2 of us and there is lots of storage space. We have cruised twice before and this ship is the best so far. The staff are great, very helpful and friendly. The service and food in the main dining room is excellent and we really enjoyed the salad bar there for lunch on sea days. I had my birthday on board and the white chocolate cake that my mother organised for us that night was just superb. Nothing was too much trouble. We enjoyed some of the activities, particularly the trivia and the 'Feel like a Millionaire' game was very funny. Katie, the games manager, has an excellent sense of fun. Entertainment was excellent, particularly the headliners. Also felt that the variety of entertainment was good, with singers, musician, juggler, illusionist. The Rhapsody of the Seas band was excellent. Only thing I felt was of lower quality were a couple of the bands that played in the various lounges. A couple were very good, but others were quite bad - I can sing better. And sometimes they were way too loud for background music. Still there was a good variety of entertainment and I guess it cant all be excellent. Xmas Eve carols in the Centrum was a bit of a fizzer. Lovely big song book is handed around, but the carols only initially went for 20 minutes. We had to yell and beg to get more. The limiting factor seemed to be that the band didnt know many of the songs. It was good, but needed to go much longer. Give them their due, the played on for about another 15 minutes when we asked. Xmas was interesting. Obviously very American as it is an American ship - the menu was not what we Aussies would be used to, or expecting. Would have loved some plum pudding. But hey, we go on holidays to do things differently so this was fine really. The ship is big, clean and well maintained. The staff are great and the experience was fantastic. Will definately cruise with Royal Carribean again. We stayed in Sydney for a couple of days after the cruise and saw the Sun Princess arrive - very small and old looking in comparison. For the price, this was a great holiday and it is so nice to step on board and be treated so well. Looking forward to my next one. Read Less
Sail Date December 2010
1. Check In: Very smooth, I live in Sydney, so i dropped in when ship was leaving for previous cruise, and got luggage tags, immigration form & health form. We (our group was 13 pax) got at the terminal around 11.30 am and the luggage ... Read More
1. Check In: Very smooth, I live in Sydney, so i dropped in when ship was leaving for previous cruise, and got luggage tags, immigration form & health form. We (our group was 13 pax) got at the terminal around 11.30 am and the luggage handler took our bags and we proceed to the "actual" check in it took us probably 20 minutes to get inside the ship, very easy and well organised. It would be great for Royal Caribbean to provide luggage tags with set sail pass docs (to speed up the process for those who can't get the tags before the day) 2.Once inside we went to the restaurant to have lunch (we were advised that rooms would be ready by 1.00 pm) so we had lunch and about 1.00pm went to our rooms that were ready, bags were delivered soon after (around 3pm) so I was able to unpack before sailing away (last time I unpack during sailing and got a bit sea sick, so it was perfect to have bags before sailing time). 3. Rooms were on the small side,but with lots of storage, I don't regret choosing this category, didn't spend much time in it, as the social areas are so nice, not packed and many venues to hang around. 4. Service: OMG the staff are FANTASTIC nothing is too much and they are always ready to go an extra mile to serve you. 5. Entertainment: I would prefer to have more variety, it was always the same band @ pool level, with same music, so it was a bit boring, they would play for 2-3 hours per day and they would put the radio/cd/etc for the remainder of the day, I spend most of my time @ pool level and would love to have more music. The speakers needs maintenance as the sound quality was very poor. 6. 2nd sitting at dinner (8.30pm): it was perfect for us the only let down was that we would miss some activities/shows/games because it was during our dinner time. But Octavian and Carin (waiter & assistant) were WONDERFUL so no regrets here because they made our evenings very special. They had 3 night with music yes they sang for us. We went every single night to dinner it was our get together (as I barely saw my teens during the cruise), shame on some people that didn't showed up on last night to not pay the grats. Restaurant was empty, and we could see the disappointment on the waiters faces. So don't do this its very SAD. 7. Teens: We had 4 (13,13,15 & 18) had they enjoyed it??? nop.. just kidding! They are already asking when are we going again. Do I need to say anything else? And they are the type that keep saying "i'm bored" We barely saw them apart from dinner time, as we have made them come other ways I would probably just see them at check out. 8. Shops: We need to buy some pads for my daughter and none were left (just tampons) so make sure you take all you need, because you may not find it onboard. Now shopping was good, alcohol, jewellery, souvenirs were all nice and cheap, so be prepared to spend some money there. 9. Photos: we took a lot with our cameras but also bought the package for their photos, one of the photographers was very nice (the blond one) the others couldn't care less, (sorry can't remember his name) they would take one shot and not care if you had your mouth full with the food, or if the person next to you were your other half or not. 10. Check out: very smooth again, we choose to get out 9.30 (being the last ones to leave) and our bags were out there waiting for us, no confusion or anything. Read Less
Sail Date December 2010
Upon arrival at Sydney airport we promptly organised a transfer to the ship at the cost of $15 each via coach with Princess and this allowed us to put our bags on and not see them again until we were onboard the ship. Good value and great ... Read More
Upon arrival at Sydney airport we promptly organised a transfer to the ship at the cost of $15 each via coach with Princess and this allowed us to put our bags on and not see them again until we were onboard the ship. Good value and great service. Check-in was very well organised and we were onboard within 1/2 hour of arriving at the Wharf. A very busy process but they have got it so well organised. While waiting to go on board we sat there analysing the different age groups and parties that we were going to be spending the next 13 days and Christmas with. There were alot of elderly people going aboard which I guess you can expect, especially that time of year and maybe with NZ destination. I would say that 70% of people were over the age of 60. A bit surprising to us having sailed with P&O 3 times prior and having a younger group on board. I was a bit concerned for the first 24 hours that the older group might make things a bit boring for us "not so older" groups but after the first day you started to see how many families and younger people were on board also. There were apparently up to 400 "younger cruisers" onboard, however I failed to see that many. All kids that I seen were exremely well behaved and appeared to enjoy every moment. Once on board we were promptly met by our cabin steward Ramon, he was friendly without being too obtrusive and did a tremendous job of keeping our cabin spotless each day. My husband and I had a cabin each which I shared with our 14 year old daughter and he with our 10 year old son. We had originally tried to book a quad cabin but they were booked out and we were then surprisingly able to book two double cabins for a much cheaper price so went with this option. Rooms were a little dated but very clean and well maintained. The ship itself was extremely well maintained. I would never have thought it was 15 years old. Far superior to P&O, however, I think P&O attract younger groups which may explain why their ships do not appear to be as well maintained. The cruise director and his staff were a mix of UK and American/Canadian. It took me a while to warm to him but by the end of the cruise we thought they did a great job and provided a good mix of entertainment. The singers/dancers were high quality and very professional. I would have liked to see them mix more with the passengers more on Tropical night but that wasnt to be. The food - buffet was great quality. Breakfast was a good selection each day and there was always an ample amount available. The only criticism I would have is that with supposedly 300 kids onboard they should have had a small section catering to their needs a little more. A few chicken nuggets and maybe the odd spaghetti bog wouldnt have gone astray for those smaller children onboard who didnt like eating curries or casserole dishes. However there was a grill which provided hotdogs/cheeseburgers and chips which my daughter loved. You could also visit the Pizzeria which made nice fresh pizzas with a minimal selection of toppings and the best Tiramisu for dessert. All of which was included at no additional charge. The formal dining was great quality also. We only dined twice in there as we found it easier with the kids to use the buffet. Christmas formal dinner was my favourite with all the traditional meals on the menu and Christmas crackers etc included. The first night we went formal our meals were served very promptly but on Christmas it seemed to take forever, maybe because there were more people. This made us miss out on Santa Claus arriving which could probably have been better organised so that all children could have seen him. Because our dinner sitting was at an allocated time our kids missed out - our choice I guess, but with it being Christmas we wanted to dine formally. Overall, food was great and nothing much to complain about. Shore tours - we learnt after our first cruise never to book them on the ship. We have always done our own thing ever since - much cheaper, especially when travelling with kids. Entertainment - My son (10) loved the kids club and was keen to go there as often as he could. The staff did their best to provide entertainment. My 14 year old daughter went to the teenage group once but not knowing anyone she decided not to go back and did her own thing after that. She eventually made friends with another younger girl and they did a lot on the last few days of cruising. As mentioned earlier, the entertainment was great quality and probably one of the best I have seen on a ship. The singers were good without overdoing it and stretching themselves more than they could. The shows were tailored to suit all age groups and I think everyone enjoyed what they saw. There were also bands and quartets playing around the ship so plenty to choose from depending on your taste. They had a magician/comedian on board also which was good. They did repeat the shows to accommodate the numbers so that everyone had a chance to see. Drinks - Plenty of cocktails to choose from with a standard price of $10. All drinks included gratuity of 10% which we thought was fair. Beer/wine prices were average pub prices. Gratuity - We were charged $10 per day per person over 13 as gratuity. We were also given a cabin credit of $100 per person with our booking so this really covered the gratuities and we were happy with that. The staff work incredibly hard and long hours so we dont begrudge them getting this on top of their apparently very low wages. The only staff that could sometimes be a bit lacking were in buffet - it was always a wait to try and get a drink until I worked out it was easier to go and get one myself. Overall though the staff were only too happy to do anything for you and were very polite and courteous, especially to the children. Overall, I would highly recommend Princess as a more superior cruise line to P&O. We seen some fabulous scenery and were very impressed with our itinerary and New Zealand as a destination. However if you are looking to party party party I didnt really see much of this. Quite conservative which suited us but probably wouldnt suit the younger types unless you are travelling in a big group. Port 1 - Bay of Islands - New Zealand Lovely little town. We tendered into port and did our own thing catching the ferry across to Pt Russell. The weather was extremely foggy this day which added to the scenery and made for an interesting day. Sleeping fishing village sort of atmosphere. Great start. Port 2 - Auckland - New Zealand Excellent stop. We pre organised (online) our hop on/hop off bus tour which was a 10 minute walk from the ship. Took you around to all the top sightseeing spots and we covered a lot of ground that day including the Sky Tower, Kelly Tarltons Antarctic Discovery Centre, Mt Eden, Westfield Shopping Centre (lunch), Museum etc... quite cheap and a great way to see Auckland in a day. Port 3 - Napier - New Zealand Art Deco capital. We just walked around the town and did some souvenir shopping. Busy in the main shopping mall but not much else to do. Lovely town to just sit back and relax. Free shuttle bus into the town from the ship. Port 4 - "Windy" Wellington - New Zealand It certainly lived up to its reputation this day with 50 knot winds greeting us off the ship. Once again we pre organised a hop on hop off bus tour which we prompty found about 10 minutes walk from where the bus dropped us off. Shuttle bus cost $15 per adult return (kids were free). The hop on bus took about an hour to do the whole tour so we stayed on for the first round and decided to get off at the cable car second time round and take a ride down to the bottom. Well worthwhile and different experience. Would have done more had it not been so windy however it was still a lovely day. Port 5 - Christchurch - New Zealand We were here on Christmas day. It cost $15 each to travel into Christchurch on the shuttle bus return. We once again did our thing walking around to the main square and seeing the cathedral. We then visited the Botanical Gardens and had a quiet drink in a pub around lunch time before proceeding back to the ship in the afternoon. They have a lovely tram which takes you on a tour and gondola ride which we would have done if we had known about it. Cost $37 each. Port 6 - Dunedin - New Zealand We booked (online) the Taieri Railway Gorge trip. Far cheaper than booking through the ship however the ship does pick you up from the port and provide wining and dining. I think the cost of this tour through the ship was $239 each. We paid $90 per adult and the kids were free. Admittedly we had to catch a cab to the train station at $40 and we were on a different train but we got to see the same sights and were able to buy our own food onboard. Far cheaper option when travelling with kids and I would highly recommend it for the scenery. Port 7 - Fjordland National Park - New Zealand The weather wasnt the best with rain closing in and lots of low cloud and fog however our captain carried on and made the most of it for all of us. It was well worth while with the rain providing spectacular views of gushing waterfalls and magnificent scenerey that has to be seen to be believed. Certainly a highlight for us and we were glad not to be on the MS Volendam who apparently pulled the pin on this part of the cruise due to the weather. Read Less
Sail Date December 2010
Cruise Review Rhapsody of the Seas Dec 2010 Cabin # 2625 Embarkation went very fast and smooth. I arrived at Circular Quay early and watched the previous cruise passengers disembarking. I was able to drop my bag off at ... Read More
Cruise Review Rhapsody of the Seas Dec 2010 Cabin # 2625 Embarkation went very fast and smooth. I arrived at Circular Quay early and watched the previous cruise passengers disembarking. I was able to drop my bag off at 10.15am and went for a walk. I started the boarding process around 11am - very fast and efficient, no queuing. Buffet was available in the Windjammer. No champagne and orange juice was offered as we boarded as with other lines I've sailed with. I had been allocated 8.30pm dining and wanted to change that, nothing was available for the early sitting but I was able to change for My Time Dining once I was on board the ship. My Time Dining wasn't true My Time as they only gave me a couple of times to choose from and I was seated at the same table each night - so really only an extension of normal dining but with slightly different seating times as you weren't able to simply walk in when you're hungry. The food choice and service in the Edelweiss Restaurant I found to be very good. Looked after well by friendly staff, especially our waitress Josephine and assistant Wen. Very helpful and efficient - amazing how they remember everyone's name. Most passengers tended to get very dressed up for the formal nights. I ate a few times in the Windjammer Cafe and found the food to be varied and adequate. Wait staff very friendly. You can get eggs and omelettes made to order at the Egg Harbour (breakfast time) - never found the queue too long for this service. The Windjammer is at the front of the ship and is all glass - I think this would be a great ship to do an Alaskan cruise on. On sea days along with the menu in the dining room they also have a great salad bar. On sea days there was normally a buffet around the pool area at lunchtime. Also a couple of nights there was a midnight buffet. The Solarium Cafe was open for hamburgers, hotdogs and pizzas, chips etc. Self serve ice-cream machines in the pool area - these were worked overtime on hot days. There was definitely no shortage of food. The free coffee was terrible but always available along with various teas, iced waters and juices. On the first day you can purchase a soda package - think it was something like 4.90 per day for kids and 6.90 per day for adults. There is also a cafe on board where you can purchase cappuccinos, lattes etc. Also available for purchase Ben & Jerry's ice cream. I had an inside room on deck two at the rear of the ship. Originally I was concerned about the position of my cabin but felt very little ship movement in this cabin. It was the smallest cabin I have experienced but with heaps of storage space, tho the suitcases couldn't fit under the bed. The bathroom was small ....smallest shower I have ever experienced. A cake of soap was supplied but none of the normal body lotions, shampoo's, conditioners that are normally in the bathroom - this must be cost cutting. Our cabin steward Sonny was very efficient at making up our room whether we were gone for 5 minutes or 5 hours. Always a towel animal on the bed in the evening. I thought this ship maintained a very high level of cleanliness in all areas. We had a full sailing and perfect warm weather. There were a lot of children on board as it was school holidays. There were many, many deckchairs and there was never a problem finding a vacant chair. I didn't attend many of the activities on board as nothing really appealed to me. I did go to the jewellery making class and found that enjoyable. Attended the scrapbooking class but they wanted payment for doing that - have found that free on previous cruise lines. There were lots of lounges and areas where you could sit quietly if you didn't want to be around the pool. The theatre venue for the evening shows was one of the best I've experienced. I found some performances were good, some not worth staying for in my opinion. On this cruise we visited Isle of Pines, Mystery Island, Noumea and Lifou Island. Getting on and off the ship at the different spots was easy and fast. Rhapsody doesn't supply snorkelling gear and a limited number are available for rent on the islands. Would strongly recommend bringing your own goggles and snorkels. You are not allowed to take any fruit or food from the ship onto the islands. There are a number of reasonably priced tours available from the Tourist Office in Noumea. Also wi fi is available from the cafe next to the Tourist Office. Rhapsody has the Centrum in the centre of the ship (an atrium about 5 decks high). This area is great for live music and dancing. And you can enjoy this from many levels. A lot of vibration on this ship - especially in the dining room and on some of the deck chairs, never experienced this level of vibration on a ship before. Wasn't everywhere but in certain spots - no idea of the cause. Disembarkation back at Sydney went smoothly. They want you off as fast as possible of course. Bags have to be left outside room between 7pm and 11pm the night before disembarking - you do not have the choice of walking off with your own bags. All in all it was a wonderful cruise. Loved the itinerary except Noumea. Wasn't the greatest cruise ship I've been on but for the price can't complain at all. Would I go again - yes. Read Less
Sail Date December 2010
The South Pacific has always been on our list of places we wanted to visit, so when Paul Gauguin offered a deal where the third person in the cabin sailed for free, we decided to go. Our teenage son accompanied us and had a wonderful time, ... Read More
The South Pacific has always been on our list of places we wanted to visit, so when Paul Gauguin offered a deal where the third person in the cabin sailed for free, we decided to go. Our teenage son accompanied us and had a wonderful time, too. Pre-Cruise: We live in Canada so we knew that the journey was going to be a long one and, with that in mind, we decided to go a day early and stay one night in Papeete, both to recover from the lack of sleep and in case we hit bad weather on our way out. The journey was absolutely seamless. We booked our own flights to LAX on Air Canada and were first in line to check in to Air Tahiti Nui. We upgraded to business class and were very glad that we did as the wider seats and extra leg room meant that we could actually get some sleep - a first for me. Arrival in Tahiti at 5:30 a.m. is a bit of a shock to the system and getting through immigration took a very long time. We have both British and Canadian passports and I usually carry both but, for the first time ever, I had only brought my Canadian ones. This was a big mistake as the line for European passport holders was through in about five minutes, whereas the rest of us queued for a very sweaty half an hour. Once outside and garlanded with flowers, we were whisked away to the Intercontinental, Papeete. Our room was not likely to be ready until 2:00 p.m. (in fact it was ready by 11:00) so we spent the morning, swimming, exploring, and kayaking. We were very impressed by the hotel: the staff were friendly and accommodating; the facilities were spotless; and the pool by the Lotus restaurant was stunning, so much so that we didn't realise it was a pool at first. We dined at Le Lotus (the Intercontinental's upscale restaurant) and had a fabulous meal. We had four days booked at the Intercontinental Mo'orea post-cruise, so we were looking forward to a similar standard there (more about that to come). Embarkation: Boarding the ship the next day was a breeze. The van pulled up to the dock gates. Our luggage was removed and we were given a cursory health questionnaire to complete. We were then driven to the gangplank and five minutes later, glasses of champagne in hand, were being led to our suite by our butler, Abner. Suite: Having a teenager in tow, we had opted for a Grand Suite, the same level of cabin we had had on our only other cruise on Regent's Navigator. To be honest, it didn't match up, but we had known that in advance and therefore weren't particularly disappointed. What made the suite, however, was the huge, private sun deck, furnished with loungers as well as a table and chairs. We made a lot of use of this, particularly when sailing into the lagoons on the islands we visited. The service in the suite, both by Abner and our stewardess, Daisy, was exemplary. We only had to ask for something and it appeared minutes later. Our son's only complaint was that the TV was very small for the size of the room and, unlike Regent did not have 300+ pre-loaded films. If this might sound an odd worry in such a beautiful place where you would expect to be outside exploring, he likes to watch films in the evenings after dinner, rather than attend the entertainment that the ship offers. He solved this problem by making use of the extensive video library at reception Dining: We mainly took our evening meals in L'Etoile and were very impressed by the standard of the food there. My husband still raves about the moon fish he had one night. We normally ended up in a section with Hernie or Junar as our waiters and they were wonderful. My husband is wheat intolerant and instead of bread eats rye crackers. He asked for them on the first night and after that whenever we appeared Hernie would come a few minutes later with the crackers. He even did this on the one occasion when we were not seated in his section. It's this attention to detail that makes Paul Gauguin so special. Our first dinner was quite amusing as the plane from LAX carrying roughly a third of the passengers was two hours late causing them to miss dinner and for L'Etoile to be very empty indeed. The waiters had very little to do and so were up for conversation. At one point we had four waiters chatting to us. They were very taken with our son and Hernie said he had something to show us. We were a little puzzled as he disappeared and then reappeared bringing another member of staff over (a member of the bar staff we later learned) called Efren whom he thought could be our son's older brother (my son is half Chinese). The resemblance was striking and caused much amusement throughout the cruise. Breakfast we usually took in either Le Grill or Le Veranda and we thought the variety of foods offered to be good but not as extensive as on Regent. I love to eat fish for breakfast and whereas there was always smoked salmon, herrings only appeared one morning. We tried Le Grill and Le Veranda in the evening and although the meals were fine, we were not impressed enough to forsake L'Etoile for second visits. We felt rushed in Le Grill and found the suckling pig overly sweet for our taste. Our son, however, loved his surf and turf. Excursions: On some islands we did our own thing, but we used the excursion desk a few times, too. The staff were incredibly helpful, especially Pia and Vahine, and we enjoyed all the ship organised excursions we took. The highlight for us was a privately arranged tour with Patrick's firm in Bora Bora. Unfortunately and ironically Patrick was in Canada over Christmas, so we had Moretto as our guide. He certainly supplied some local colour, but was less forthcoming in terms of describing what was going on until we learned that if you asked him directly then he would describe things in more detail. The swimming with stingrays and the lunch on the private motu were very lovely. We enjoyed the watersports offered on board and at Motu Mana. My husband likes to windsurf and was looking forward to doing this but sadly although the weather was beautiful for the cruise, the winds were never favourable. Post-cruise We stayed at the Intercontinental Mo'orea and this was our least favourite part of the trip. The hotel has recently undergone renovations and the new pool area is quite lovely. On site is the sea turtle rescue centre and the Dolphinarium both of which were interesting. We had booked an overwater bungalow (a long held dream of my husband) and were looking forward to swimming and snorkeling off our own deck. This never happened. We were in bungalow 522 which faced out to sea rather than on to the lagoon. Even on sunny days, there was such a strong wind that it made the sea very rough. For two people the room would have been adequate but for three it was cramped. In the main living area there was a desk and chair, one armchair and a sofa which was attached to a wall. This was where our son slept and it was permanently made up as a bed making it difficult to use as a sofa. Normally, this would not have presented a problem as we do not spend much time in the room, but for the last two days we had terrible weather with driving rain and strong winds (our only bad weather on the trip, so I should not really complain) and by the end of the second day we were glad that we were leaving. We also found the bungalow quite damp and not as clean as it should have been. On our first day we noticed a stream of tiny ants on the bathroom counter. I mentioned this to reception who said that they would deal with it and that they came from the flowers used as decoration in the room. We asked them not to leave flowers artistically arranged on the counter and tables in future and they did not, but the ant problem never went away. I am happy to report that none of them made it home to Canada with us, not after I cleaned them out of my son's wash bag. They seemed to like Burt's Bees Lip Balm! The restaurants at the Mo'orea Intercontinental were a huge disappointment especially when compared to those at its sister hotel in Papeete. The lunch time menu never varied and had no daily specials. The upscale restaurant for the evening was very mundane. We only ate there once, choosing to eat in local restaurants instead. Most restaurants will send a van or taxi to pick you up free of charge and we made full used of this arranging it through the concierge, Josianne, who was wonderfully helpful. Aito, run by a Corsican, Jean-Baptiste, and his Tahitian wife was touted in our Lonely Planet guide book as the place to eat. Do not believe this. It may have been once upon a time, but now it is like something out of a Monty Python sketch. J-B sits at the front of the restaurant and greets guests. Once seated, absolutely nothing happened for nearly 45 minutes - no menus, no water, no offer of drinks, no interaction at all, in fact, with any member of staff. I finally managed to get the attention of a server and asked for a bottle of water. 20 minutes later it arrived. We were told that the board of specials was being used but would be brought to us. It never came. In the end, I managed to get the regular menu by going and asking the owner for it. After another twenty minutes we managed to order some wine. The owner came to open it and expressed surprise that we had wine as we had only just arrived. Smothering our giggles, we told him we would like to order and he called a server over (not one of the regular wait staff) by the woman who had been providing the live music. Since we were not the only customers on the brink of mutiny she had been press-ganged into service. We ordered the simplest meal we could - just one course each - as we couldn't bear to be there longer than necessary. It came. It was expensive but adequate. Witnessing the 30 minute wait that others were having to pay with credit cards, we paid cash and left as soon as we had eaten. Le Mayflower where we ate twice was Aito's opposite: attentive staff, beautiful food. We would strongly recommend going there - the raviolis de langouste were tremendous. Conclusion: We loved the Paul Gauguin. Would we go again - in a heartbeat. Would we stay at the Intercontintal Mo'orea again - most definitely not. We would either stay at the Hilton or travel back to Ta'ha and stay there post-cruise. Read Less
Sail Date December 2010
Introduction: This was our first cruise under the P&O flag out of Auckland and my eight cruise in total over several years. We are both in our early 50's. Embarkation From the time that we arrived at Prince's Wharf ... Read More
Introduction: This was our first cruise under the P&O flag out of Auckland and my eight cruise in total over several years. We are both in our early 50's. Embarkation From the time that we arrived at Prince's Wharf to the time we stepped foot in our cabin it was just under 30 minutes. One tip is to grab a Customs departure card from your travel Agent or next time you are at the airport and fill this in before leaving home. This will save you time and prevent you having to move out of the line to fill in, as several people had to. The Cabin Our cabin was 11174 an Outside cabin on the 11th deck (A deck). Slightly rear of mid ship. The first Outside cabin past the Balcony cabins. It was a good position, only about 20 metres from the Aft stairwell and lifts and only one level below the Plantation restaurant and pool deck. Although immediately below the pool deck we didn't hear much noise, only a couple of times did we hear tables being dragged on deck. Our bed was a queen configuration. Comfy mattress on a slat base. our empty suitcases just fitted underneath. Our room stewart Jomon must not have been use to Duvets as it was pretty well tucked in at the bottom for the first few days, only bringing it to half way up your chest. On one side of the bed you have a small set of four draws and a lamp. on the window side is the desk that also serves as the bed side cabinet with another four draws. All the original furniture from the Ocean Village apart from the TV. The desk would be about 1.4m long with lamp and phone. this is where the one and only power point is for the room. the only other power point is above the TV, but is English. So be sure to pack a double adaptor. The window is a good size. I would guess just over a metre square. The TV is a ViewSonic 22" flat screen and has AV (RCA plugs) along with PC, HDMI and USB connections. The picture quality of the in-house TV feeds is not that great. Other furniture in the room is a single armchair and a desk chair and a small round coffee table. The walk in wardrobe has a good amount of hanger space with 14 wooden coat hanger provided, but no spring clip pants or skirt hangers. There is eight draws about .8m wide with a cupboard above that houses your safe and life jackets. There is a good amount of space above the coat hangers for bulky items or even bags. Opposite the walk in wardrobe is three side by side full length mirrors which gives a good impression of lots of space. Between the main cabin area and the wardrobe is the small built in fridge and cabinet for glasses and supplies. the fridge is a clever design in that you can stand up a tall bottle of water or wine inside it, with enough room for cans to sit behind it. Below the fridge is a locked cupboard. Not sure what it contains. Above the fridge cupboard is a couple of well spaced glass shelves that house your pool towels. The bathroom/toilet is well laid out, but certainly a one person at a time job. The shower is about 1.5m long and .8m wide. The shower rose comes out of the corner, so a little strange. The water pressure is just OK. It has a single mixer control. Has a built in shampoo and conditioner shelf. The ship provides a combined shampoo/conditioner dispenser. It is a shower curtain and not a door, but the shower seems big enough that the shower curtain doesn't cling to you at all while taking a shower. Not too much vanity area around the sink, but has mirrored cupboards both sides of the main mirror. The they three shelves in each each. All the same height, but not just high enough to hold tall cans of hair spray/deodorant. Lighting is OK, but not fantastic. One thing I liked about the bathroom was there wasn't a big step or lip to get into the room. The actual toilet is angled off the corner, but has enough leg room. the entire bathroom appears to be one moulded unit. The WiFi internet connection was good in our room. Laundrette This was located on the 6th and 10th floor and had eight top loading washing machines (on the 10th floor one) which operated on a AU$2.00 coin. Some were a little tricky and you had to open a small compartment on top to trigger the reset switch to make it start. The load took approx 30 minutes on a normal cycle. The clothes driers were free, a 30 minute cycle just doesn't get the clothes fully dry if you have a full load. The Lounges and Bars This is where you can see that P&O has spent a bit of money. The Orient (Deck 7) This has an English pub feel to it, so not too sure why it was named The Orient. Lots of nice timber panels and earth tone fabric with a variety of seat types. this bar is used a lot for the Trivia sessions and accoustic artists. The port side has a corridor, but the starboard side corridor blends into the room which is a nice idea. Tap beer is available at this bar. Connexions (Deck 7) This neighbours The Orient, but would be nearly double in size. More popular with the younger cruisers that the Orient. Home of the Karaoke and the dance style bands. Also used during the days for the lectures and demonstrations. A lot of cane furniture used in this area. Once again uses the starboard side of the lounge as the corridor. The Atrium (Decks 5,6 & 7) A busy area of the ship with housing the photo gallery and shop. Duty Free shops, Shore Tour office and Reception. Charlies coffee shop and the Mix Bar (formerly Blue Bar).The three levels are used for the Laser light shows which are worth a look at. Pacific Cirque will also perform a few smaller shows here. Pre-dinner Piano music is also played here. One slight design fault is that the Shore Tour desks are besides the Reception so you get long lines going across the front of reception for the Shore Tour booking desks, they also need to look at putting in a third desk for the busy days. Also the Sold Out Tours board needs to be displayed where people line up rather than behind the desks where the brochures are. The Marquee (Deck 7 & 8) This is an area I'm sure they will change the design of with-in the next year to 18 months. Great size stage and fantastic new giant LCD screens that they can do wonders with for stage backgrounds and to act as stage sets. But the seating layout is crazy. Upstairs the balcony rail is right at the level of the stage sightline. They have gone for lots of individual movable seats and curved three seater couches. This cuts the capacity down to around 500 maximum I would guess. The bar at the rear of the theatre has a large amount of open area in front of it which does seem a waste of space. It also has two semi spiral staircases from level 7 to 8 which takes up valuable seating space. Once the theatre fills up (which seems to be earlier and earlier as the cruise went on) passengers stand in the corridors which blocks the views of those sitting in the back. Some of the bar stools have missing foot rails and in one case has a missing seat pad. Not a major to fix, but stayed like that for the entire cruise. The sound and lighting is very good, especially with the full height LCD screens. The Dome (Deck 14) This would be my favourite venue, both day and night. Fantastic views, great wide open feeling. Very comfy seating. Nice colouring and a good size bar. Generous size dance floor on a slightly lower level. A good venue for the late night comedy and other smaller shows. Top Decks (Decks 12 & 14) Home to three swimming pools and Pacific Cirque stage area and the giant 7m LCD screen. The pools were always in use, it did take a few days until the warmer weather for the adults to start using the swim up bar pool. However the water did look a little murky for the first couple of days. I'll cover the Pacific Cirque show later on, but great viewing advantage points from several points around decks 12 and 14. There is new decking and artificial grass on both levels and new coats of paint, but some areas have missed having a touch up altogether. An example is the Splash Bar has nice new tiles on the wall behind the drinks, but if you look up at the ceiling above the counter, the paintwork hasn't even been touched, with lots of stains and marks. The Oasis (Deck 8) We got caught out here on our first visit to this area at the rear of the ship. After we sat down on the very nice padded cane sun loungers, we were asked if we would like to book in for a half or full day session. The charge is AU$10 for 4 hours or AU$20 for 8 hours. That was the first and last time we visited the Oasis. The Gym and Spa (Deck 2) Not being Gym bunnies we didn't use the Gym, but we did go and have a noisy and spoke to a few people at dinner that did use it. The comments were all very favourable and that the equipment was all brand sparkling new. However the Steam room did play up a bit and was not operational a few times. As with all cruise ships the Spa and Salon prices were very expensive. Example of one of the specials. AU$139 for a 20-20-20 sampler. 75 minute Jewel Facial AU$275, Couples Seaweed Massage AU$399 for 75 minutes The Entertainment and the Entertainment Staff We have been on five previous cruises mainly on Princess and Royal Caribbean and would have to put the quality of the entertainment as some of the best we have seen. There has been a great variety in various venues. Some of the entertainment offered was Peter Byrne (Neil Diamond) Centre Stage(The Pacific Entertainers) James Galea - I Hate Rabbits (Magician)Bobby Dennis (Comedian) Clint Paddison (Comedian) Pirates 2 (The Pacific Entertainers) Acrobatic Show (Pacific Cirque) run Away To The Circus (The Pacific Entertainers) and the normal Game Shows involving the passengers. Zoltina J. was the Cruise Director and did an excellent job. She fronted all the main shows and lead the charge when it came to getting the passengers up and dancing. Her band of staff had their own strenghts and some weaknesses, but put a lot of energy into their roles. The Hit Machine were the party band on board and played a lot of the good party hits, although they didn't look old enough to be up as late as they did. Meals We have been spoilt in the past with a huge variety of food at the buffets on other ships and did find the selection a little dull in the Plantation restaurant. The was never hot in this restaurant, in fact the fried eggs on the last morning were stone cold. However, if you hadn't cruised before outside of the Pacific you would be very happy. It never seemed a problem to get a seat in the Plantation restaurant. Only had one lunch meal at The Grill and wasn't impressed. The meal was stone cold, but heard some great feed back from others about the quality and variety. We had all our evening meals at the Waterfront Restaurant, the lunch menu was very good. Once again you can see where they had spent their money on the refurbishment. Very nicely decorated and laid out. We sat in a variety of areas and at a variety of size tables. The service standard did vary a bit and you could tell the experienced wait staff. The Pacific Cirque It is nearly worth the cost of the cruise to see these guys perform. They were top standard and caused lots of grasps from the audience. Their show on the open deck was packed out, so get their early to secure a deck chair, however because of the height of their performance all areas on deck 12 and 14 are great viewing points. Their alternative show in the atrium combined with the laser show was also excellent. Movies The cinema on the Ocean Village was taken out to make room for the new Casino. The new 7m wide LCD screen on the top deck is a good alternative when the weather co-operates. Some of the movies played were: CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF MEATBALLS ALL'S FAIR IN LOVE EAT,PRAY,LOVE ICE AGE 3 LETTERS TO JULIET MAMMA MIA THE ROMANTICS GREASE SHREK: FOREVER AFTER CHARLIE ST. CLOUD KARATE KID MAO'S LAST DANCE MARMADUKE THE SWITCH TAKERS Other activities on the big screen included Playstation and Wii competitions and a Special Bingo Game, plus a few concerts. As I said at the start, we have been spoilt by having been on a Royal Caribbean and a few Princess cruises so we were always comparing to those cruises. If you had not cruised before you would be over-whelmed. We did enjoy the cruise and met some great people and would mostly like do another P&O cruise again at some stage, but for the money we would first look at what other cruise lines had to offer. The NZ Customs and Ag Department boarded the ship in Noumea. Customs clearance was processed in The Dome on the 2nd to last day with a set appointment time. It took about five minutes if that and was a breeze. We were able to walk straight off the ship in Auckland, collect our bags and go. Read Less
Sail Date December 2010
Our cruise on the pacific pearl 30th December 2010 had finally arrived. Excited... But upon Embarkation it all seemed Chaos. This we were told was normal.People handed papers to fill one health form from p&o one customs form. ... Read More
Our cruise on the pacific pearl 30th December 2010 had finally arrived. Excited... But upon Embarkation it all seemed Chaos. This we were told was normal.People handed papers to fill one health form from p&o one customs form. Trouble was no pens or very few tables to complete these required forms. Once aboard the pacific pearl we soon became delighted. Until our luggage went missing. By evening it still had not arrived so away we went asking staff only to be sent to different decks to seek our lost luggage no joy doing that .Finally at 9pm we were informed it had been found. Great news. We were happy with our cabin which we had chosen after pouring over deck plans long before we booked our trip. Room was clean & tidy although slightly old decor.We encountered no noise problems at all from deck 9 which was great. We explored the ship over the following days in which we both enjoyed. Nightly shows were well worth going to .Excellent entertainment. Tried bingo that was fun but expensive.Plenty of free trivial quizs.sports etc. So much to do or see each day there certainly isnt any reason to become bored. Plenty of Bars to sit for a Drink & relax.Sun lounges around the pool were well occupied. Waterfront restaurant was lovely. Plantation buffet was well set out but the hot food was cold each time we went there.Shame. Staff on the pacific pearl were very friendly & helpful. Overall well had a Fantastic holiday . Read Less
Sail Date December 2010
We were tempted by the itinerary. Who wouldn't be? In particular, cruising over to the Maldives, Seychelles and Mauritius sounded very exotic. While the itinerary was exceptional, I am afraid the ship itself leaves a lot to be ... Read More
We were tempted by the itinerary. Who wouldn't be? In particular, cruising over to the Maldives, Seychelles and Mauritius sounded very exotic. While the itinerary was exceptional, I am afraid the ship itself leaves a lot to be desired. We had no issues with embarkation as is mentioned in other posts. We checked our bags in and continued shopping until we were able to board. As is typical with all cruises, we were ambushed once on board by those selling beverage packages. We were disappointed but not surprised that any wine package purchased only incorporated Italian wines. We selected the premium package and must say the wine was not what we would call premium. It was average at best and for 5 bottles at $109 Euro was a bit of a rort. Plus service charge of course!! The room was sufficient. Although I must say the bathroom was scungy with mould in the shower and behind the taps on the vanity. I did 10 rounds with the shower curtain on a regular basis and in the end decided it was a lot easier to shower without it. The toilet system is continually under stress which is most unpleasant. Many times, the toilet would not flush and there were occasions where the system was blocked. When we advised our hostess of this, she checked and advised us that this was OK, the entire level had the same problem!! For the next few hours, I needed to use the public toilets instead of our own and the smell was putrid. The choice of television stations is interesting. There is one English movie channel which plays movies at certain times of the day. Over the 3 weeks on the ship, the movies were repeated 3 times. Other selections other than European channels were Russian news being read in English and details of the ship. In other words, the TV service is what I would call substandard. Other areas on the ship are tired and dated. While the leather chairs and sofas are a nice touch, the corners are worn and overall appear scruffy. I had to laugh when on the first day I ventured out to the pool deck for a quick drink. I kid you not, the pool is about 3m by 3m. More like a plunge pool than a traditional swimming pool. You cannot 'swim' in it. I just assumed that the other pool at the back of the ship must make up for this. No! It is exactly the same size. In all my time travelling, I have never seen anything so ridiculous to cater for 1,600 guests. Our room was located directly across from the Emergency Exit. On the first and second nights, we had constant slamming doors as staff were using this exit to transfer baggage. In addition, all room service came up through this exit. Next to this exit was the cleaning cupboard. If you end up with room 7146, don't expect a good night's sleep. On the 3rd day, I approached the 'service' desk to inform them of the noise issue and to ask if there were any alternate cabins available that we may move to. The 'service' attendant stated that the ship was full and she didn't understand why I would have any issues with the noise. She said if I had an issue, I should tell the people responsible to be quiet. Hmmm, I thought that was their job. She then proceeded to tell me pointedly that noise can be expected on all cruises. Then she smiled and asked for the next guest enquiry. I guess that is what they call service. The restaurant for dinner was the only option. We found this extremely inconvenient. Dress rules apply for dinner and it would have been appropriate to offer at least one alternate option (eg, the buffet) for dinner, especially considering the total number of days the ship was at sea. A pizza bar did open at 8pm each night, but one can only eat so much pizza. The one night we opted for pizza, the dough was not cooked and the while dish lacked flavour. Truly awful. The food was average. The choices were varied and always contained vegetarian options. Seafood was available on a regular basis which was good. The best offering of the day was generally the buffet at lunch - a great deal of variety and specials. However, in the end I compared this buffet with that of a pig's trough. I learned quickly not to get in between a hungry European guest and the buffet. If you did, you were in danger of losing body parts. People consistently were rude, pushing in front and eating in gigantic proportions. Poor hygiene was on full display. The buffet obviously is unable to cater for the entire number of guests on board and it is frustrating when other guests treat this buffet as the social centre of the ship instead of being efficient and completing their meal so others could be seated. The breakfast catered mainly for the European guests on board. Toast was more like a Cruskit, but there were plenty of pastries available if you wanted. In fact, over half of the buffet consisted of these pastries. Salami seemed popular for breakfast! The quality was a lot less than what I have experienced in hotels and on other cruises. The tours were limited for English speaking guests. This was further exaggerated by bilingual guests choosing the English speaking tours. We spoke with many other English speaking guests who had many of their tours cancelled. Worse still, it seemed that the cheaper tours were the ones cancelled (by cheap I mean $50 - $80 Euro) while the more expensive tours proceeded. There was a significant lack of organisation. Many tours were late and you were not kept informed by the tour organisers - just left sitting in the opera lounge waiting for your number to be called. On one tour in Seychelles, an announcement was made 15 minutes after the due departure time that we would be ready to go in 5 minutes. We were moved out 45 minutes late. For a $184 Euro excursion, an apology or explanation would have been nice. By this stage of our trip, we knew better. The same old issues arose on our tours as happens on all of them. Ignorant and selfish guests were consistently late back to the bus. However, the worst incident of lateness was a Costa staff member. The guests waited on a bus in Reunion Island for 25 minutes for a Costa staff member and his partner. We applauded them when they finally made it back to the bus. His comment? "Don't worry, the ship won't leave without me". This pretty much sums up the attitude of the staff on board. I truly believe that they are indifferent to the experience of the paying guests. The overall disorganisation by staff came to a head two days before we disembarked. Upon arriving at Mauritius, we were instructed to pick up our passports and that we would all individually undergo a customs interview with a Mauritius official. For those heading on tours for the day, we were asked to line up from 8am. Other guests wanting to go ashore were to follow at 8.30am. Knowing this could be a bit of a debacle, we started lining up at 7.30am. Already, there were around 12 people in front of us. Quite quickly the line grew and as usual, people consistently attempted to push in and get to the front of the queue. The Mauritius officials were late which added to the hysteria. Guests were shouting at each other, different nationalities were fighting each other, age was no barrier to aggression and I actually felt scared at one point that there was going to be an all in brawl. Finally at 8am, the Costa staff placed barriers up to stop people attempting to push in. The line ended up being from one end of the ship to the other. What a disgrace. This could have been organised so much better, I cannot believe with their experience that they would not intuitively understand how this frustrated some of the passengers. But again, as I have said, I really don't think they care. Due to the cost of the tours, it was evident that a lot of guests chose to stay on board or do their own thing. We had many days at sea and I must say the entertainment budget must be very constrained. Entertainment consisted of trivia competitions (skewed towards European trivia of course), a professor providing history talks, sessions from the Spa about keeping your tan, losing your kilos or having the perfect abs (same thing every day and more or less just a sales pitch), and some religious activities. Prizes for winning competitions were limited to Costa notepads, mousepads and other cheap gadgets. We just kept to ourselves when at sea and lucky I had several books and an IPhone handy. The ship provides WiFi which is great, but at $24 Euro of 3 hours is absolutely a ridiculous price. Some other things to note: Alcohol is ridiculously overpriced - if you like a drink, be prepared for a massive bill; Don't by any means get any laundry done unless you have a spare $150 Euro; Be prepared for massive currency discounts when changing into Euro's - worse than an agent; Take hand sanitiser with you - insufficient supplies on board. The good points? The service staff and the actual places we visited. We will never cruise with Costa again. When completing the feedback forms, we were told we were in with a chance at winning a free cruise. One, I do not believe Costa would give away something for free and two, even if I won, I would be loathe to take up the opportunity. Way better cruises available for similar prices. Read Less
Sail Date November 2010
My husband and I and my sister enjoyed our trip very much especially the ports of call and the excellent weather. Overall the Rotterdam service and food were very good. Entertainment on board was only acceptable. We were ... Read More
My husband and I and my sister enjoyed our trip very much especially the ports of call and the excellent weather. Overall the Rotterdam service and food were very good. Entertainment on board was only acceptable. We were disappointed that the Rotterdam entertainers only performed a very limited number of times during the 30 day cruise. Many of the other acts were mediocre. Special mention goes to Ryan, who ran an excellent and very practical computer program in the Digital Workshops. His patience was most appreciated. Also Jo, a life stylist with the Explorer's Team, taught a wonderful program of Qi Gong and Tai Chi which was extremely well attended every day. Both of these instructors provided us with handouts so we could practice on board and at home when we returned. . We enjoyed the culinary demonstrations and sampling. The Pinnacle Restaurant, under the guidance of Sam, was a highlight. Lisa provided excellent information about the ports of call. The tours were well organized but for the most part expensive. In the Greenhouse Spa my sister and I had a seaweed wrap and massage and it was delightful. However, we were disappointed in Steiner's return policy for products with which people are not satisfied. Two products we bought, in our opinion, did not live up to their promise. When we went to return them for a refund we were told that only unopened products can be returned. We would not have known that we were dissatisfied if we had not tried it. We felt people should be made aware of this policy before they buy since the products are very expensive and what works for one person may not work for another. All in all a wonderful trip. Read Less
Sail Date November 2010
I recently went on a Christmas 12day cruise on Sun Princess departing Sydney Australia and stopping in New Caledonia and Vanuatu. I am 26. Travelled with a family of 10. All over the age of 21. Here are a few of my thoughts SEA Day 1 we ... Read More
I recently went on a Christmas 12day cruise on Sun Princess departing Sydney Australia and stopping in New Caledonia and Vanuatu. I am 26. Travelled with a family of 10. All over the age of 21. Here are a few of my thoughts SEA Day 1 we had 4.5m swell and 50 knot winds. No one slept that night and it was my first night ever on a ship. Everyone stumbled around like they were drunk. Apparently though that is a pretty bad night to have on a cruise and after that first night the sea for the rest of the trip was fine. Even in 2m swell I barely felt it in my cabin. We stayed balcony mid ship. VIRUS About 5 days into the cruise there was a Nora virus outbreak with people getting major diareha and vomiting. Those people were quarantined but they didnt obey and the virus spread. There were alot of kids on the ship. More then normal and most of them dont wash their hands. We took extra care in washing hands and not touching balustrades or eating at the buffet. PORT OF CALLS 6 out of 10. Isle of Pines and Champagne Bay were beautiful. Port Villa was fun at the waterfalls and snorkling. Lifou and Noumea were ok. DINING 9 out of 10. The food was amazing. And the service was really good. Three course meals for Breakfast, lunch and dinner, plus afternoon tea and deserts. Good thing i used the gym. We ate in the dining room most of the time and not the buffet because of the Virus outbreak. ENTERTAINMENT Shows - 5 out of 10 The last two shows of the trip were very well done. The Sun Princess dancers are very good and the two lead singers were great as well. There is an onboard developed drama of cinderella they have done which sucks. And the international show of random cruise workers showing talents is a disaster. Music - 8 out of 10 Very talented musicians. Great to sit back with a bourbon and listen too. Theatre Movies - 5 out of 10 Old movies. Average screens and sound. Pools - 5 out of 10 There are two and they arent very big. A couple of spas around that are nice and hot though. Gym - 7 out of 10 Not alot of benches or free weights. But heaps of cardio machines and cable weights. Lotus Spa - 8 out of 10 Good staff. Very relaxing. Activities - 3 out of 10 They have lots of little activities on the ship. But they are quite boring. Casino - 8 out of 10 Excellent. Couple of poker, blackjack and roulette tables. All happy to take your money whether $1 or $1000. Sports Bar - 1 out of 10 Umm goood except NO SPORT!! Seriously how can you advertise you have a sports bar but dont play sport on it??? Nightclub - 6 out of 10 Good music until the DJ was kicked. They eventually flew someone in. But yer he wasnt that good. Jazz Bar - 10 out of 10 Excellent Jazz. Great bar to chill out in. GOSSIP Some 18 year old kids smuggled fireworks onboard from Vanuatu. The went to deck 15 and set them off which was cool to watch but they all got kicked off the boat at the next port of call. lol. The DJ for the cruise was kicked off after two days. He was supposed to be working and was drunk dancing with girls at the night club. ISSUES Internet - Internet prices are ridiculous. I got charged $50 just for Wifi use while they setup the printer on their own computer. Seriously Wifi costs them nothing. They should charge per KB download. Not per minute used. Movies - The movies shown are from 12mths ago. No new movies. Television - Most of the channels were green. This is due to it been an american ship and they are converting continuously from PAL to NTSC and they dont have the right gear to do it. Also no Australian News. Just BBC and CNN. Sport - This was a huge thing. I really wanted to watch the sport over christmas. The cricket and EPL. They didnt show any sport on any channels. They had ESPN but would change the channel when the actual sporting event would come on. Even in the "sports bar' they wouldnt show it upon request. They do not have the rights to broadcast sport on the ship and as such dont. Even when i complained they wouldnt do anything about it. They were able to receive FoxSports and Australian Channels but would broadcast. Told No - I got a little bored at nights and wanted to go play the Nitendo Wii or playstation or arcades that all the teenagers get to play but i wasnt allowed. I got kicked out. I actually got told quite a few times on the cruise even though they advertise the whole time on the ship ask us and we will make it happen. Always trying to get you to spend more money - Once your on the ship they are trying to upsell you. The first thing is they want you to pay $55 for unlimited soft drinks. Why not just include that in the cruise cost? You always get the feeling of them wanting to sell you more stuff with photos and stuff. Sometimes id just rather them leave me alone and let me enjoy the cruise. If i want something Ill come ask. ADVICE Take your own snokel and mask and maybe fins. You don't want to use the snorkels on some of the islands. They arent washed properly. Book a onland excursion with the cruise for Noumea. The rest you can do by yourself. Go see the waterfalls in Vanuatu. Everywhere else you can just walk and snorkel. Take a laptop to watch movies and maybe a Wii for extra fun. Don't make phone calls. Use skype on there expensive internet. Its still cheaper then $5 a min phone calls. FINAL THOUGHTS I would definately cruise again. Two weeks of being waited on hand and foot, not cooking or cleaning, having your bed made, turned down and towels changed and visiting new destinations without having to pack and move all the time is very very appealing. I won't go on sun princess again. Its for old people that like to sit around and do nothing. Its an old boat. I will try a newer boat. The Royal Caribeen boats look awesome. Might give that ago through the mediterranean. Maybe i was just expecting to much having seen all these wonderful looking photos. If you have any other questions i would be happy to answer any to help you make a cruising decision in the future. Read Less
Sail Date December 2009
Paid $4100 AUD including $200 on board credit for a twin room R318 on Riviera (highest level) inside cabin - bigger than the other cabins with the cutoff corners so recommend them, and recommend Riviera deck to stay on!!! couple of squeaks ... Read More
Paid $4100 AUD including $200 on board credit for a twin room R318 on Riviera (highest level) inside cabin - bigger than the other cabins with the cutoff corners so recommend them, and recommend Riviera deck to stay on!!! couple of squeaks in the wall, and the picture on the wall fell off, but who cares - absolutely did not need a window - glad I didnt pay extra - was tempted - dont bother is my opinion. You cant meet people in your room. We were only there to change clothes or pass out. Booked this before the Jewel was announced. Then semi-regretted not having the opportunity to go on a "new" ship - loved the look of the pictures they were sneaking out - contemporary and clean looking. Was concerned that the sun princess might be a bit outdated in comparison, and a bit boring for my 11 yo. Happy with the price - happy with cabin - happy with location. Food? OMG more than you knew what to do with - and never a queue issue. People that shared our table said it wasnt as good as it should be - well all I can say is they must go to a pretty fancy RSL - if you know what I mean Obviously older passengers are less active and occupied than younger people and therefore have more time to ponder and put more emphasis on events such as dining. Probably mealwise I would say that a couple more non-seafood options would be nice to pick from, for the sake of variety, and the salads could be a bit more "sexy". Other than that, very happy indeed. LOVE their BREAD ROLLS!!!! Not like Australian bread at all!!! Did a few of the buffet meals and had no probs there, but we ended up prefering to go to the restaurant for brekkie or lunch (if we had it!) because it is naturally such a nicer experience. Can't believe that more people don't do it. Excellent. Plus the high tea each afternoon is really worthwhile if you can fit it in to your schedule. The postmix softdrink is crappy - couldnt stand it - luckily I bought my daughter the unlimited kids package - which includes fresh juices and mocktails - highly recommend getting this - you can have strawberry daquiris ( and other flavours of cocktails) without the alcohol - really nice for both kids and adults. ( and you dont have to use the stoopid cup which you will toss after the sailaway) just order drink from bartender in normal glass. Chrismas eve had snowing in atrium while carols were sung with glowsticks instead of candles. Then Christmas day had a fun fair in atrium for kids and then santa with presents. Christmas lunch was a bit of a nonevent for us - many bottles of champagne by the pool with whoever sat down in the smoking area!!!! and then we nearly slept thru dinner!!!! Made it just in time and thank goodness because it was beautiful. It was our first cruise, and initial impressions were that it wasnt as nice as I was expecting - rooms a little on the tired side (but comfortable) and not that "young contemporary hip" feel like the jewel appears to have. But as each day goes by you appreciate the ship more and more. The staff were absolutely faultless. Our room was serviced 4 to 5 times a day and trust me we were messy. If you encounter "Lerrine" our fave bartender at the Riviera poolside bar you have found yourself a winner - he is what made our cruise extra awesome. Also, we were lucky to "connect" with all the entertainment crew - thanks Jen, Nat, Val, and Warren - you guys were awesome and my daughter loved you all - you made her feel special all the time. Mind you, if you want to have a great time cruising you have to put yourself out there - participate - talk to people - mingle - offer people a seat - we met soooo many people we have about 6 weekends committed visiting different people in the next 3 mths to relive it all! Friends for life thats for sure. Daughter wasnt that fussed on kids club, but i think its that difficult age - 11-12. The 13+ group seemed to have the teens into it - more mingling events, then they went off and did their own thing - and discos etc at night til the wee hours. Yes we had issues - OMG a mega altercation in the laundry over whose turn it was, then there were 3 instances of families being put off the ship due to poor behaviour of their children - everyone was of the opinion that the captain was in charge and did a good job of ensuring that idiots would not be tolerated. Yes there were novovirus cases - up to 400 i heard (but that could be absolute rubbish too). Apparently contracted by 2 passengers on first port day when they ate cooked food on one of the islands - the health warning for travellers by government is to not eat food in primitive areas without having vaccinations - yep they ate it! then passed it on to others. The ship knows how to handle it - very impressed there - and you do not know who has it as they are quarantined in cabin until cleared. Once cleared we met a few people who had it - of course they were disappointed they missed a big chunk of their cruise - but it can happen to anyone anywhere. Fortunately not to us. The important thing was that the ship was wonderful in spite of it. A father of someone we met had other medical issues, and spent 8 days in the hospital - once again - unfortunate - but he was looked after. A child had an accident on christmas eve and an emergency announcement calling for donors of a rare blood type had an overwhelming response. They could never do enough for you on this ship thats for sure. Now you are probably thinking - what has this got to do with the Pacific Jewel? Well - firstly they are both run by CARNIVAL - so once teething issues are out of the way, Jewel should be ok. Secondly, I wish to point out that you can still have a PERFECT cruise without having everything perfect. Thirdly, if you are hesitant about which cruise to go on, do your research. You need the negative reviews so that your expectations arent too high. I would definitely go on a Princess again without hesitation, however I would make sure it was in a school holiday period, because otherwise there may not be enough of a mix of kids and younger people (by younger I mean under 50) on the ship. I would like to try a P&O so am looking around now. Regarding itinerary - hate Noumea - would never get off the ship if I went there again - VILA, WALA, and CHAMPAGNEBAY were terrific. If you could get a cruise to just those 3 that would be the perfect cruise in my opinion. We had 5 days in a row of port days - that is pretty full-on and really 3 ports are enough as long as they are GOOD ports. Isle of Pines and Lifou were ok. but didnt rate compared to the other three islands. MUST DO's on ISLANDS: Outrigger canoes $5half hour, Hairbraiding $10 and massages $10 are cheapest on Champagne Bay VILA - Dutyfree cigarettes $27 (for 10x25's), and alcohol, cheapest is at the far end of the main street on the left, next to a regular bottle shop. easy to find, just with those directions lololol. Take a cheap set of reef shoes, a cheap snorkel set (flippers are a waste of time) and one of those rashie swimshirts and snorkel everywhere. Locals will tell you where to go. Give them some cigarettes for their trouble or lollies for their kids. We took bags of lollies like mini-MENTOS and school snack size chocbars and gave them out randomly to kids they loved it. And take the shampoo soap etc from the ship and give to them if you arent using it. Go back to the ship for lunch on the primitive islands. VILA and NOUMEA are ok to eat on only. So to sum it up we had a great christmas and not a single regret apart from losing too much money at the casino hahaha. Read Less
Sail Date December 2009

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