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29 South Pacific Holiday Cruise Reviews

We went on the 12 night South Pacific cruise from Sydney on 23 December. It was our 7th Celebrity cruise but first from Australia (all the others were from US/Caribbean ports). We have also been on Silversea, Oceania, Royal ... Read More
We went on the 12 night South Pacific cruise from Sydney on 23 December. It was our 7th Celebrity cruise but first from Australia (all the others were from US/Caribbean ports). We have also been on Silversea, Oceania, Royal Caribbean, Princess and Carnival. We are Celebrity Elite level members. Here is the good and the not so good. Cabin Attendant – Excellent – Our cabin attendant (Gabriel) was superb. He was always efficient, smiling and helpful. Our departures were noted and our cabin made up immediately. Tenders – Excellent – Tenders were used at Isle de Pines and Mystery Island. On previous Celebrity cruises tenders have been a problem. On this cruise there were only short waits and even long queues moved quickly. The reason was simple – whoever was in charge used up to 7 lifeboats to provide a high frequency service from two boarding platforms. This was a problem from past cruises fixed – let us hope the same approach is adopted on other ships. Photo Shop – Poor – Bring your own camera and take your own photos. Avoid the photo packages. On previous Celebrity cruises the photo packages were good value by skilled photographers. On this cruise we felt there was no skill or art involved and the resulting photos were poor quality camera work such as parts of heads cuts off. Delays and stresses even getting the package USB on the last night suggested incompetence. Shuttle Bus – Excellent – Noumea – Often a problem on other cruises this, like the tender issue, was solved by whoever was in charge by having plenty of buses in Noumea running a high frequency service so there were no waits. Main dining room (Epernay) – Very Good – We had recently been on much higher priced Silversea and Oceania cruises. The food in the main dining room on Solstice was better than the main dining room on each of those cruise lines although not up to the standard of the speciality restaurants on those lines. Celebrity remains the best food in the mega ship market. Service in Main Dining – Excellent – Our waiters (Valentin and Iryna) were excellent and helpful. Seating in Main Dining – Poor – We are Elite Celebrity members but for some reason got about the worst table in the middle of the bottom level of the dining room. We used to get much better tables before we reached the Elite level. At no stage were we aware of the presence of a maitre d’. Coffee – Poor – The coffee throughout the ship is terrible. Café Bacio does not live up to the hype with poor service, attitude and coffee. Coffee was bitter and too hot. Children – Being an Australian school holiday cruise the ship had over 3000 passengers with lots of children (and prams). Most were well behaved but a few insisted upon pushing all the buttons in the lifts and gangs playing chasing games around the corridors on treasure hunts posed a hazard. Smoking – As non-smokers we were pleased that overall the smoking on board was only a minor inconvenience. Walking/Jogging Track – A design flaw of the Solstice is that the jogging track runs around a deck used for sun lounges and often during the day is hard to use because people put their sun lounges across the track. Whilst not as bad as on other cruises this was still an issue and the staff did not move sun lounges off the track. Sun Lounges – Most of the passengers being Australian it was shade rather than sun that was in demand. There were plenty of lounges available in the sun and sometimes in the shade. Unfortunately there was a lot of saving of lounges by passengers who rarely used them or who put belongings on adjoining lounges to stop them being used and give themselves extra space. This did not appear to be policed by the staff. Ocean View Buffet – Excellent – Huge and at times overcrowded it is usually possible to find something to eat from the wide range. The effort made for Christmas and New Year was spectacular and greatly appreciated. Sushi – Not Good – On previous Celebrity cruises Ocean View Café had reasonable sushi in the evening. Now that is gone. Instead there is only a Sushi café on level 5 which costs extra. Embarkation – Good - Surprisingly quick and efficient. On board 25 minutes after arriving at pier at 12.30pm. Unfortunately we were not then allowed off again that afternoon to spend any more time in Sydney and had not been warned this would be the case. Disembarkation – Good - At 6.40am there was a huge line for walk offs which commenced at 6.50am and went so quickly we were at Sydney airport at 7.20am. Itinerary – OK – Australia is a long way from anywhere which means too many days at sea. There were 6 days at sea and only 5 ports on this cruise. Cabin – Clean and functional the cabins are good for the price. Hygiene – Problem – Whilst there is hand washing lotion everywhere the system for obtaining beverages (sodas, water or alcoholic) seemed likely to be very efficient at spreading disease. You have to hand your seapass to a waiter who swipes it and hands it back and then does the same with someone else’s seapass and on it goes. The system needs to be contactless with the passenger simply waving their seapass. Beverage Packages – Poor – Even if the beverage package you purchase includes the type of drink available in your minibar you get charged again if you take it from the minibar. If your package includes Coke you cannot take the can of Coke from your minibar. Your package only allows you to get one drink at a time from a bar even if that drink is water or soft drink (and each time your seaspass is handled by a staff member who is handling lots of other seapasses and bottles and glasses handled by other passengers). At times the brand of bottled water sold was undrinkable. Internet – OK – Internet costs extra still unless some minutes are included in a deal or because of your status. Speed was fair. Security – As an Australian holiday period cruise there were a lot more passengers in the 20-40 age group than on other cruises, many of them appearing to consume vast amounts of alcohol. Given the amount of alcohol consumed security did a very good job of keeping it a safe cruise. It is certainly far safer than going out in an Australian capital city at night. Entertainment – Disappointing – Apart from Aussie Boys the acts and Celebrity in house entertainers were below the standard expected out of US ports. Movies – Some nights recent release movies were shown in Celebrity Central which is a comfortable cinema. Overall we were impressed. Christmas and New Year were made special which they have not been on some other cruises we have been on. Read Less
Sail Date December 2016
My husband and I cannot speak highly enough of the cruise on the Pacific Dawn. Balcony was excellent. Service was outstanding in all areas from room service to the entertainment. We arrived home wanting to cruise again to which we did only ... Read More
My husband and I cannot speak highly enough of the cruise on the Pacific Dawn. Balcony was excellent. Service was outstanding in all areas from room service to the entertainment. We arrived home wanting to cruise again to which we did only to be disappointed on the Aria. We will go on the dawn again. Everyday we participated in some activity from going on the tender boats to the various islands and at night enjoying the karaoke and shows. Love the trivia. Food was absolutely beautiful. Staff were fantastic and so friendly. what more can I say it was an amazing cruise. Thank you for all the wonderful people we met. Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
We have just returned from our holiday aboard Voyager Of The Seas and it was outstanding. The food was varied and delicious, with a different menu every night. The service was personal and outstanding.We had 2 waiters (Imade and Leo) who ... Read More
We have just returned from our holiday aboard Voyager Of The Seas and it was outstanding. The food was varied and delicious, with a different menu every night. The service was personal and outstanding.We had 2 waiters (Imade and Leo) who were fantastic and catered to our every whim.The cabin was large and spacious and very comfortable. The entertainment and facilities were fantastic.The cabaret show was one of the best we have seen. A perfect holiday Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
I recently over Christmas travelled to Fiji and the South Pacific onboard the Sea Princess. Have cruised several times before but this was the first time onboard a Princess cruise ship. I was with my parents and my girlfriend and we had a ... Read More
I recently over Christmas travelled to Fiji and the South Pacific onboard the Sea Princess. Have cruised several times before but this was the first time onboard a Princess cruise ship. I was with my parents and my girlfriend and we had a wonderful time. Food - The food onboard was unreal! So much choice and was delicious. We ate in the buffet, the dining room and in the speciality Steak House. Did not have one complaint, was fantastic! Staff - Probably on of the best features onboard. All the staff were incredibly friendly and helpful. Did not encounter one rude or unfriendly staff member. Everyone happily greeted you and offered assistance where ever they could. Staterooms - Very clean and tidy. Everything you need is there for you. Embarkation - Was a breeze! Arrived there at our allocated time to a waiting shuttle and boarded with ease. Ship - Really nice design. Pool area is great, theatres and bars all fantastic. Entertainment - AWESOME! Had some terrific shows! They catered for everyone. Anytime you on a cruise it comes down to what you make of it. There will be people who will complain about anything however we had a very enjoyable time onboard and will definitely cruise with Princess again. Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
I was a cruise virgin until I spent 14 nights on the Solstice sailing from Sydney to Auckland and loved it! As a Brit, I loved the British entertainment crew - they made it for me. Seeing Santa in the Solstice theatre on Christmas ... Read More
I was a cruise virgin until I spent 14 nights on the Solstice sailing from Sydney to Auckland and loved it! As a Brit, I loved the British entertainment crew - they made it for me. Seeing Santa in the Solstice theatre on Christmas morning giving gifts to all the kids up the age of 17 was such a treat and made me feel so Christmassy even though I don't have kids myself. Had a wonderful dinner in the Epernay main dining room in the evening and the turkey and stuffing were cooked to perfection as always. New Years Eve was so lively with plenty going on that we didn't get to bed until around 4am! All of the staff were awesome and so attentive we were made to feel special All in all a great first cruise that I would definitely do again. Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
As there is only 2 of us at home and generally 1 friend for XMAS, we decided to getaway instead of trashing the kitchen and eating leftovers for 2 weeks. I am not much of an author so this will be short and sweet, but you will get the ... Read More
As there is only 2 of us at home and generally 1 friend for XMAS, we decided to getaway instead of trashing the kitchen and eating leftovers for 2 weeks. I am not much of an author so this will be short and sweet, but you will get the idea. We arrived in Sydney early in the morning and could drop our bags off after 8.30 am. That was great as our boarding time was not until 1200. We went back to the wharf at 1145 and the let us through. To get our cards and clear customs took a whole 18 minutes - brilliant. Our cabin was ready 1 hour later, plenty of room, clean and I will highlight why we picked this particular cabin later in the cabin review. The first day was probably the lowlight of the cruise, many of the bar staff were very stony faced and made you feeling uneasy about asking any questions. All except the people serving at the red frog pub. What an incredible team they have. Dining staff were our favourite, they made going to dinner a pure pleasure. Some nights we actually delayed our dining just to get a seat where Sirocco and Magdalena were serving. Any cruise line will have difficulty matching the friendliness, professionalism and general attitude of these people. Only one meal (duck) was a bit dry, but everything else was top quality, no complaints here. Outing were okay, a lot of snorkelling carried out and great marine life to see. Nothing like swimming with a huge turtle, but this cruise was for relaxation so only a few ports and that suited us The shows were amazing. Some of the dancers and musicians were used in a number of the shows and there versatility was astounding. Many nights after the show the entertainers would move to the Red Frog Pub for dancing and playing music. Great times had by all. Drink prices were about on par for cruise lines, some mixed drinks better than others depending which bar you went to, One number off on the $5000 bingo prize, hoe disappointing. Day time activities a little light one, but suited our agenda. One point I need to make is about this children, and no I am not against children on cruises, in fact it is good to see them having fun. But when I am up late at night and see groups of 8 to 13 years old girls and boys sitting on the floors outside of elevators, I get very concerned. And in no way I totally blame the cruise line for this although I feel they should make more of an issue of it. I do however fail to understand how a parent isn't concerned when there daughter is not in there cabin at 2 am on a cruise ship filled with people they don't know. Could imagine what a fuss they would make if something happened the there child. Just look for someone else to blame I guess. Overall, loved the cruise and would not hesitate to sail with Carnival again Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
My husband and I thoroughly enjoyed our 12 night cruise to Fiji, Vanuatu, Isle of Pines and Noumea on the Rhapsody of the Seas. Staff were very attentive, particularly in the main dining room. Food was excellent. Several bars to choose ... Read More
My husband and I thoroughly enjoyed our 12 night cruise to Fiji, Vanuatu, Isle of Pines and Noumea on the Rhapsody of the Seas. Staff were very attentive, particularly in the main dining room. Food was excellent. Several bars to choose from. Entertainment was very good. Cruise Director Graham Seymour is fabulous. Our Junior Suite was very comfortable with good storage and a Balcony. Read Less
Sail Date November 2014
Embarkment : no problems and very quick. Room, lovely room with extended balcony, our cabin boy was excellent and have no complaints in that area at all, room was always clean with fresh towels and turned down every night. Dining,, ... Read More
Embarkment : no problems and very quick. Room, lovely room with extended balcony, our cabin boy was excellent and have no complaints in that area at all, room was always clean with fresh towels and turned down every night. Dining,, wonderful, dining room had great meals and entertainment every night , buffet was great and 24hr pizza, entertainment, great entertainment except some shows where on at the same time as the deck parties and ended up missing one or the other. Lots of children who at times where not supervised which meant a few of injuries. Running around on a wet pool deck and stairs will do that. Overall a great cruise and I would recommended to anyone considering canival spirit. Read Less
Sail Date December 2013
Embarkment : no problems and very quick. Room, lovely room with extended balcony, our cabin boy was excellent and have no complaints in that area at all, room was always clean with fresh towels and turned down every night. Dining,, ... Read More
Embarkment : no problems and very quick. Room, lovely room with extended balcony, our cabin boy was excellent and have no complaints in that area at all, room was always clean with fresh towels and turned down every night. Dining,, wonderful, dining room had great meals and entertainment every night , buffet was great and 24hr pizza, entertainment, great entertainment except some shows where on at the same time as the deck parties and ended up missing one or the other. Lots of children who at times where not supervised which meant a few of injuries. Running around on a wet pool deck and stairs will do that. Overall a great cruise and I would recommended to anyone considering canival spirit. Read Less
Sail Date December 2013
I thought it only fitting to let other cruisers know of our experience on the Voyager of the seas coming in to view at Circular Quay was a sight to be hold she was magnificent and just added to my excitemen embarkation was a bit hectic but ... Read More
I thought it only fitting to let other cruisers know of our experience on the Voyager of the seas coming in to view at Circular Quay was a sight to be hold she was magnificent and just added to my excitemen embarkation was a bit hectic but with over 3000 passengers to get boarded it was handled well and with consideration .. We did the Xmas cruise as I wanted to be spoilt no setting up trees and no cleaning and cooking for a large family just wanted time for us for once I was hoping my expectations weren't to high.... The minute I saw the biggest Xmas tree in the promenade My face lit up and I new this was going to be a Xmas to remember.. By the way the promenade is a street replica with a pub cafes and even a sports car I just couldn't believe my eyes.. The decor was plush and the upkeep of the ship in all areas was spotless..... The staff work very hard at maintaining her glamorous look and were always ready with a smile..... Now for our cabin .. Never had a balcony before on other ships so I couldn't contain my excitement it was just as I had hoped and the bed almost the size of a king...plenty of cupboard space and every woman's wish a full length mirror.... It was spotlessly clean and the shower was surprisingly good considering your on a ship with a large amount of guests.... so I'm thinking so far everything is perfect something must be bad so decided to head up to deck 11 to Windjammers for lunch..... It's huge all manner of food from hot dishes pastas salads desserts to much to name...... With a view to die for....... The food was tasty hot when needed and cold meats and salads fresh and crisp .... This place was so good that we preferred to eat here most of the cruise... The main dining room was beautiful and a high light was when all the waiters and bar staff sang for us all . It was a sight to see and hear..... So by now you would be thinking like me there must be something bad so I will go on to the entertainment.... Well they have guest comedians singers and the ships dancers and singers were all great and enjoyed our selves at them all .... The ice skating show is not to be missed.. It was spectacular ... My favourite the parade by all the Disney Madigastertheme ... The children's faces were a wonderful sight and I thank the Voyager staff for giving me back a little bit of my child hood the staff were exceptional in all they do including games out on the pool decks rock climbing wall and mini put put....... I can't comment on the kids clubs as we are grand parents and had no kids with us but by my observation and speaking with guests that did they had a ball .... Still no negatives you ask well as I'm finally at the end but believe me I could go on for longer about this Magnificent ship but I won't ........ok there is one gripe people smoking on the none smoking side and if you tell them not to .. They don't care so rather than argue we just moved this happened a lot ..... So my one and only gripe for this whole 9 night cruise ... That's it not bad hey........ Would My husband and I sail on Voyager Of The Seas again......in a heart beat ..... So like us go with out to much expectation and let this beautiful ship surprise you.... She did me I'm still smiling Read Less
Sail Date December 2013
Just got back yesterday - we were really surprised at how fantastic the Cruise was! We thought only boring old farts went on Cruises - well, yes they do but lots of other fun, young people do too! The weather was cloudy/rainy for the ... Read More
Just got back yesterday - we were really surprised at how fantastic the Cruise was! We thought only boring old farts went on Cruises - well, yes they do but lots of other fun, young people do too! The weather was cloudy/rainy for the first few days but then the sun came out and it was all so perfect. We had a cabin right at the pointy end of the ship on Deck 2 - we actually loved being able to really feel like we were on a boat (think crashing waves, portholes, lots of motion from the ocean and being able to feel like the anchor was coming down right through the centre of our cabin!), even though I got seasick the first night, some free Bonine from Guest Services fixed that immediately. The staff are beyond excellent - Abdul we love you and wish you could've come home with us! The place is sparkling clean all the time, everywhere without exception. The food in the buffet was fabulous; the food in the Edelweiss dining room was beyond excellent; Chops Grille was outstanding (OMG the creme brulee on fire was to die for) and the Chef's Table was like we'd died and gone to heaven! The snorkelling at the Isle of Pines was amazing - definitely go to the left of the sacred rock - forget about the right hand side. Snorkelling at Mystery Island was awesome - walk to the far side of the island and head right towards the tip - reefs right up to the beach - awesome. Lifou snorkelling was absolutely amazing - walk straight up the hill above the little marketplace then turn left at the T intersection until you get to the empty carpark area and then aim diagonally downhill to find a whole bunch of locals set up selling chips and soft drinks, plus hiring out snorkelling gear, and a new set of steps down to the most incredible reefs I have seen (better than Australia sorry guys!). Port Vila was awesome - we opted to get a taxi to the Holiday Inn (sounds daggy - is the most amazing resort ever love love love) and spent the day swimming, going to the Spa and chilling out. Noumea was great for shoe shopping and Lemon Bay is awesome. Forget the excursions just buy a $10 Hop on Hop off bus ticket and go everywhere all day. Great cafes opposite Lemon Bay too. Entertainment was first class every night; the movies were great; the casino was crap unless you like Blackjack and Slots (we don't), the Solarium Pool area was fabulous when it was raining with the big glass roof overhead and even more fabulous with the roof completely open and the perfect blue sky above! What more can I say - we are booking our next Cruise already! Royal Caribbean get our vote every time. Cost us about $2500 for 11 days plus we only spent $350 between two of us on drinks and gifts which is pretty good even though we had several cocktails every day! Drinks start at about $5 for beer, $6.75 for Torched Cherry Cocktails and wine for about $7 a glass - cheap! If you want to feel like you're Royalty then do a cruise with RCL - the staff were unbelievable. We loved every minute. Happy to answer questions if you have specifics. Happy Cruisin'! Read Less
Sail Date March 2013
A little about us first, my husband is in his sixties and I am 55, we have cruised over 20 times on numerous lines from the 320 passenger Paul Gaugian to the Queen Mary. We cruise two to three times a year departing from different ports ... Read More
A little about us first, my husband is in his sixties and I am 55, we have cruised over 20 times on numerous lines from the 320 passenger Paul Gaugian to the Queen Mary. We cruise two to three times a year departing from different ports around the world, our cruises range from 12-22 days. This was our second cruise with HAL, our first being on the Volendam. We had booked an SY guarantee and were lucky enough to get an up-sell to a SA suite. EMBARKATION/SUITE Our embarkation point was originally to be the overseas passenger terminal in Sydney but because of issues related to the Australia Day Celebrations the ship docked in the Darling Harbour area. Passengers were informed that due to the later arrival of the Oosterdam boarding would not commence until 1.00pm. We arrived at the wharf just after 11.00am and handed in our suitcases. We were one of the first to check in as we had priority boarding however the process was delayed due to a breakdown with the computer system, once checked in it was suggested that we go for a walk and have a look at the local area and return after 1.00pm. We decided to wait it out and were allowed to board at 12.30pm, we were met with smiles as we boarded and given directions to out suite. In the past we have normally had verandah cabins and this was our third experience in a suite. Dennis and I were very impressed with our room, en suite with double basins, separate shower and jacuzzi, we fell in love with our large balcony and spent a lot of time out there. Opposite our cabin was the Neptune Lounge which became our second home over the next 11 days, the Neptune lounge is exclusively for the use of Penthouse and Deluxe veranda suite guests,we would drop in for cold drinks, coffee, tea and nibbles throughout the day and were looked after by the fabulous Diane and Essay who were always so welcoming and remembered our names from the first day! We availed ourselves of the light lunch most days and canapes in the afternoon to get us through to dinner. On our previous cruises we have not really taken advantage of room service however with the larger balcony most nights we ordered dinner from the Main Dining room menu and ate on our balcony as the sun set! It was truly magical. Room service normally quoted a wait of 45 minutes but in reality it was never more than a 30 minute wait, the food always arrived hot and very well presented. Suite guests also have the benefit of enjoying breakfast in the Pinnacle grill, a very refined and soothing experience, staff were great and always remembered our names and beverage preferences, some mornings we just enjoyed room service and ate on the balcony. We ate at the Pinnacle Grill one night and the food, ambiance and service were surreal, it was our 20th wedding anniversary and one we will always remember. ENTERTAINMENT We attended a couple of shows and really enjoyed them, we found the venue to be well laid out and never had any problems seeing the stage from the circle, drink service was very efficient. STAFF From our arrival until that sad final walk down the gangway we found the staff to be excellent, always willing to chat and ask how our day in port had been, our room stewards Ary and Bagus were excellent and took very good care of us. THE SHIP we loved the Oosterdam, loved the bright colours, art work, lamps and everything else about her, we liked that there were many little bars and no large atrium where crowds tend to gather. Thinking back the only thing I think I would change would be the lounge/cafe/library/computer room/bar at the top front of the ship, just make it a lounge with bar and move the cafe, library and computes elsewhere. We found the Oosterdam to be sparkling clean and there always seemed to be staff cleaning, yes she could do with some minor updates but we love her as she is. THE FOOD We really enjoyed the food as previously mentioned, our couple of visits to the MDR were not disappointing, we were on select dining but never had to wait for more than 10 minutes. I cannot comment on the buffet lunches as we would normally eat in the Neptune Lounge. PORTS We had six ports, we missed one due to weather, two of the ports were tender and three docked. Tender process was not a problem for us as we had priority tendering. Our favourite port was the Ile de Pins in New Caledonia, a superb beach and the softest sand. We did not do any of the ships excursions, this cruise was about lying on beautiful beaches and relaxing. THE END With heavy hearts we left the Oosterdam with promises to return, this has been one of our favourite cruises and one we will not forget. There is something about the Oosterdam that endears her to us, can't put a finger on it but we will return again for her to work her magic on us. Marina and Dennis Read Less
Sail Date January 2013
Our Australian family of 5 (daughters 18 and 11; son 12) sailed on Rhapsody to the South Pacific for 10 nights 28 Dec to 7 Jan. Whilst we lived in Asia for 10 years and have travelled extensively, only two of us had cruised before (son ... Read More
Our Australian family of 5 (daughters 18 and 11; son 12) sailed on Rhapsody to the South Pacific for 10 nights 28 Dec to 7 Jan. Whilst we lived in Asia for 10 years and have travelled extensively, only two of us had cruised before (son and me with HAL to the Rugby World Cup in NZ 2011). We had a great time and would do it again in a heartbeat. This review is long as I've tried to cover off items that I was interested in pre-cruise and I wanted to put something back for all the helpful reviews I read in organising the cruise. If you are only interested in some aspects check out the headings below. All ship board prices shown below are in $A and incl the obligatory 15% gratuity which is 'embedded' in the list price. Embarkation We live 30 mins or so drive from OPT so I drove in at 8am and dropped luggage off at the baggage handling service - very easy and efficient. This meant we could avoid booking 2 taxis and so caught the train in for boarding at @11. Whilst our tickets suggested boarding from 12, there was no issue with doing so early. The check in and immigration process took about 30 mins. Security queried our 4 bottles of wine/champagne but were fine when I explained we had 2 cabins. Incidentally, we had no problems discretely drinking these during sail away and by the pool during the cruise, and even managed to conjure a couple of champagne glasses from the bar. We were in the Windjammer for lunch by 12 or so. Park Cafe in the Solarium did not open until 1.30 and the MDR was not open for lunch (it is only open for lunch on sea days, 12 -- 1.30). We thought the food variety and quality was very good. No, it's not the buffet at the Bangkok Peninsula Hotel, but for a family holiday, met and exceeded any reasonable expectations. The WJ was busy but seating was not a problem. Everyone was well satisfied and the kids gave the free soft serve machine a heavy work out. There is also tasty free lemonade, sugar free fruit drinks and ice tea available from machines all over the WJ and in Park Cafe. We were given access to our rooms by about 1pm and bags were delivered to our rooms by 2pm or so. Heading out of Sydney Harbour and the Heads is an experience not to be missed. It can get a bit chilly on deck once the sun goes down, so grab a warm top as well as your camera and champagne. Cabins When we cruised last year, my son was seasick for the first 24 hours. This time I made sure we were down low and in the centre of the boat. We booked two interior cabins on level 2, one with drop down additional bedding that is lowered/raised by the attendant each day. The cost differential to get a window cabin was around $500 per person and balcony around $1000 pp. For 5 people, that adds up to quite a few Mojitos, plus we had experienced interior cabins on the RWC trip and found that we slept wonderfully without daylight streaming in at 6 am. We also spent little time in the cabins other than sleeping. Cabin size was fine for 2 adults and the kids were happy in theirs. Plenty of hanging space - take extra hangers - though not a lot of luggage storage. That said, we only found the space under the beds on the day we disembarked! We had 2 suitcases per cabin, one of which fits inside the other, so we only had to navigate around one on the side of the bed. The bed itself was very comfortable. The bathroom was small but more than adequate. We took advice from a previous poster and hung a clear shoe carrier on the back of the bathroom door. This was invaluable for storing and accessing the various minutiae of daily existence, esp with three kids asking where to find the 'X' several times a day. Toiletries are limited to soap and industrial strength shampoo so you might want to take your own. There was a kettle and teabags, but no coffee satchels. Hot choc sachets were ubiquitous in the WJ so the kids regularly took these back to the rooms to make up. One small surprise was no bar fridge in the cabin. Not much of an issue, but it meant we had to source ice for our wine / champagne through our wonderful and ever helpful cabin attendant, Igusti. Mini bar was virtually non existent - a few cans of soft drink and some snack box items. The new flat screen TV worked fine and had cruise info and room service menu (no printed copy provided) on rotation. There were a number of cable channels, but we don't go on hols to watch tele so I can't tell you much about the quality of programming. There was also a bow camera channel so you could see what the weather was like before venturing out and/ or leave it on at night if you want "natural" light in the morning. Personally, I like the dark for a rare opportunity to sleep in! It is handy though to have a phone or a watch with a back light so you can tell what time it is. Note that sockets are adjacent two flat pin US variety and two round pin European ones. Take converters and a power board. There is a hairdryer provided and towels are changed seemingly every time you use them. There are no self-serve laundries, though rates for getting individual items washed and pressed or dry cleaned were reasonable ($9 for a suit compared to $19 at my local cleaner in Sydney). We were twice offered a $15 bag wash for underwear, socks, t-shirts and shorts, the first on day 4 and again, not so helpfully, on the second last day. The bag is a good size but the turn-around time is 36 hrs or so and our gear came back pretty scrunched up. No drama for your jocks but not so good for t-shirts. Restaurants As indicated above, we thought the WJ was very good, at least for breakfast and an occasional quick lunch. We generally ate breakfast here and the omelettes were great, though you do need to line up for 5 mins or so. My wife and I like our coffee and thought that the house brew was generally fine, certainly no worse than I've had in many US diners, and widely available 24 hrs. One tip for those who want specialty (Starbucks) coffee is to buy it at the bar in the Solarium. It has the same offerings as Latte-tudes but without the 30 min queue, at least earlier on in the cruse before others discover it. We ate dinner in the MDR on all bar one night when we went to Giovanni's Table. We had My Time Dining, which is not quite as flexible as it sounds, at least on a full ship. We ended up sticking to the 7.45 booking time allotted when we checked in on line several months before the cruise. We did look to change it on board, but getting an alternative time after 6 and before 7.45 was not possible. You could turn up any time without a booking, but this could mean a wait of 20+ mins. 7.45 turned out to be quite convenient as we could enjoy a sundown drink by the pool, have time for shower/change, catch the first 45 mins of the 7pm early show - typically ran until 8pm - and then be finished dinner in time for most of the later evening activities. We thought the MDR food was also very good and did not have any issues with food quality or quantity. It may not be a Terry Durack 3 Hat candidate, but think solid neighbourhood restaurant. There was good variety and healthy choices aplenty. And you're getting a linen table cloth, friendly service - our waiters Antonio and Eric were superb and nothing was too much trouble -, time with the family, no shopping, preparation or cleaning up. My wife in particular thinks it's pretty hard to beat. The one suggested improvement we have for the MDR is that the no. of drinks waiters is increased or the coordination with food waiters is enhanced. We found that our food order would be taken promptly, but that we would often wait for 15-20 mins for a drinks waiter. I had a wine package, which was always served pronto by our food waiter, but my wife and children were after "bar" drinks, which was everything other than wine, even non-alcoholic beverages. Given that the food is included but drinks are extra, hence profit for RCCL, this seemed an unlikely outcome, but proved the case for several nights until we developed a rapport with one of the few bar waiters (helped along by a few judicious tips). Formal nights - 2, 4 (for NY eve) and 7- were respected for the most part, with suits worn by the majority of us blokes. It was great to see the number of young guys in particular making the effort and looking sharp in slim cut suits and narrow ties. No-one would say anything if you didn't dress well, but I can only imagine you would feel like the proverbial pig at the Bar Mitzvah if you weren't. Giovanni's Table ($20 pp cover charge for dinner) was a mixed experience. The food when it finally arrived was mostly excellent (the crab ravioli and veal tenderloin were stand outs, the desserts a fizzer) but it took a looooong time - 55 mins for the appetizers and then over 30 mins for each subsequent course. We also discovered a flaw in the wine package system (see more below). Most of the wines on the list are only available from the MDR cellar, so if you order from a specialty restaurant, it will take a while (30 mins for us) to be retrieved. The compounding food and drink delays left us a bit fractious, but the staff ultimately handled it all well and comped us a lunch for later in the cruise. We didn't try Chops Grill, Izumi or the Captain's Table. Park Cafe in the adults only Solarium pool area - kids could order food so long as they didn't enter the pool - was a family favourite. The roast beef rolls were as yummy as others have described, and the other pre-made sandwiches and focaccia were really good. There were also salads, cookies, cakes and packets of potato chips. At breakfast it offered bacon and egg muffins, granola/fruit/yoghurt cups and other pre-packaged breakfast fare. PC was the only option open on mid-afternoon returns from port days, and would get busy. Staff were always efficient, if a little disinterested, and we never waited more than @ 5 mins. It was open until 10am for breakfast, 11.30 - 6 for 'lunch' and then 11.30pm - 1am for late night snacks - pizza and the like. Latte-tudes had a range of Starbucks coffees and free cookies and other baked items. No coffee purchase is required for these free items as the teen contingent quickly discovered. There was a perpetual 10+ min queue at Latte-tudes and only one barista on duty. This turned us off buying coffee there on a number of occasions. As with the shortage of Bar waiters in the MDR, this was illogical staffing for a high profit margin part of the business and RCCL should re-assess this. Ben & Jerry's is adjacent to Latte-tudes. We never saw anyone buying from there, which I think reflected the extremely limited range and poor placement. As a father, I was very pleased that the decision had been made to locate a pay-as-you-go ice cream shop in the dark recesses of deck 6, but I have no doubt that business would have increased 10-fold if it was located in the pool area, where 95% of kids spent most of their waking hours, and stocked with a decent selection. Drinks Ah, few things seem to excite the passions of some cruisers more than drink prices. But seriously, how many hotels have you been to that will sell you a bottle of Peroni for $5.50 incl gratuity at a pool side bar? Frozen margaritas at $7.25 - make sure you ask for a "House Margarita" as the default is a $10.50 premium one and this happened on several occasions so you need to be very clear when ordering - and Daiquiris for $8.50 are also very competitive. Draft Becks/Stella was $6.95 for 500ml. G&T was $6.25. Very good virgin cocktails were $4.50. Cans of soft drink were $2.50. Prices are the same in all bars throughout the ship, though availability of certain items varied (eg, draft beer was only available in the Pool Bar and Schooner Bar) Wolf Blass Wine could be had for $10 per 500ml carafe in the WJ. I can't comment on the quality as we purchased the "Diamond" 5 bottle wine package for $205. At $41 a bottle this may seem a bit steep, but it included a NZ Pinot I quite like that is on the main wine list for $61 and that retails in Sydney for @$25, so a reasonable mark up to $41 imho. Many others in the package were less than $41 on the main list, so it pays to do your homework. Ultimately we saved a few $, but I'm not sure we would order it again as there were limited decent selections - most of the reds were mass produced US options. The main list is much larger and has some reasonably priced Italian and other offerings that we would have liked to try but having pre purchased the package felt constrained not to. Note that there was no Aust/NZ wine package offered as I understand there was on some previous ROS cruises. I asked a number of ROS staff and no one seemed to know why. Gratuities As we opted for My Time Dining, we were required to pre-pay gratuities, which ran to around $120 per head. Whilst we do not have a tipping culture in Australia, I had no issue with paying them on the Rhapsody. The room attendants/waiters/bar staff and others we came across on the cruise were, almost without exception, incredibly friendly, helpful, hard-working and above all, patient. They typically sign on for 8 month contracts during which they don't see their families, work 10-12 hours per day with ZERO days off (on disembarkation/embarkation days, our room attendant started work at 4.30am and would not finish until well into the evening), get paid an extremely modest salary and manage to keep smiling throughout. The staff do rely on gratuities to support families left behind in the Philippines, Indonesia, Africa, Eastern Europe etc, but this is not charity, it is a well-earned reward for going the extra mile that makes the difference between you having a great or poor cruise experience. In addition to pre-paying gratuities and the built in 15% for bar orders, we tipped our room attendant and waiters in cash at the end of the cruise and left additional tips for good bar service throughout. For those who object that tips are used to make up for low cruise wages, you are probably correct. But if the wage structure was higher, this would be directly reflected in your cruise price. And I have no doubt that being incentivised by tips is the primary reason service on board is as good as it is. Entertainment Perhaps we were lucky, but for the most part we thought the staged entertainment was pretty good. The comedian, Simon Palomares (ex-Acropolis Now), is one of the funniest I have ever seen. "Celine Dion" was also talented, if not really my cup of tea. The 'house' dancers and singers were also reasonably good, though variable. My daughter rarely missed a show and even when not great, it was a pleasant enough 45 mins of pre-dinner entertainment. There was also a Rock n Roll show in the Centrum. This was good but suffered from the venue, as once the show was under way many people wanted, and were encouraged to, dance, but dancing room was very limited. There was also a dance night on the pool deck - the perfect venue with abundant room, but far too much staff direction, trying to 'lead' a large contingent of enthusiastic would be party goers in complicated 'line' dance step routines. After 45 mins or so it ended abruptly leaving many people frustrated. A note to the Cruise Director - just supply good music, a bar serving drinks and a dance floor - people on holidays will go for it. If staff must be involved to show people how to have fun on a dance floor, then at least let the party continue once the 'show' is over. Afternoon movies were shown first couple of sea days and were also very good. They were repeated several times on the pool screen at night. The pool deck was potentially a great night time venue for both movies and other entertainment that was not utilised enough. The Quest adult's team event on penultimate night was a lot of fun. Participation is mandatory with everyone required to join a team. But from there the shy hung back a bit and the extroverts did most of the heavy lifting. It is amazing what a bit of team affiliation will do to inhibitions (women in particular -- the reaction to the Cruise Director's request to "show me a thong" was extraordinary). Do try and get actively involved as it is a lot of fun and no one is put on the spot to 'perform'. One event not to miss is the Captain's informal Q&A. If you didn't know that the ship's anchor weighs 10 tonnes, that RCCL spends $550m on fuel annually or that Australian cruises provision for double the amount of beer ordered on the US counterparts, then here is the place to find out. NY Eve The formal dinner was nothing special food wise, but the night got better from there. There was a mass balloon drop in the Centrum and staff handed out champagne to guests. A quick dash up to the pool deck followed where Sydney fireworks were shown on the large outdoor screen. This was also the only night on the cruise when there was an outdoor party that was just allowed to run. People loved it. The deck was full of revellers dancing until well into the early hours. I imagine that bar sales were stellar - more profit for RCCL. Everyone we spoke to afterwards commented on what a fantastic night it was and how it should be a regular feature, at least when the weather is good. There was a designated nightclub, the Viking Lounge, on Deck 11, but the music was frequently overwrought doof doof and the dance floor empty. There is a real missed opportunity here. Teenagers Our 11 and 12 year olds -- both tall and mature so for all practical purposes teenagers - went to the Teens club on day 1 and, apart from us making family dinner in the MDR compulsory each night, we barely saw them again throughout the cruise. The club activities are listed on a Teens 'flyer' available from the teen centre and Guest Services each day, and appear on paper to be impressively structured. In practice, they were a bit loosely organised, so that often the teen centre became more just a place to hang out with the group of 20 or so fellow teenagers who had also made it home. Given organizing teenagers can be harder than herding cats, this was understandable and they had a fantastic time. A couple of points for parents to note. First, whilst the teens are supposedly separated into 12-14 and 15-17 categories, this did not happen in practice and so the 'group' was aged from 11-17 (being the youngest of three, our 11 yr old is well socialised for her age and there was no way she was going to be 'stuck' with the 9-11 yr group). We were OK with this given our two kids were in there together and are comparatively sensible, but I might have been concerned if I had an 11 or 12 yr old daughter going by herself. Second, the activities run very late. Some of the parties in the teen centre started at 11.30pm and did not finish until 1.30am or so -- the u18s midnight curfew does not apply if involved in teen centre activities. Again, we were OK with this given the two were together and were sharing a cabin with our older daughter, so we were always able to keep tabs on 'check-in' time, but it could put some people off. Our 18 yr old did not have such a positive experience. Whilst there were 18-20yr meet n' mingle activities organised, she did not participate, a big mistake in our view, and tended to hang out with us or take herself off to the shows and other activities. There were a reasonable no. of 18-20 yr olds on the cruise and with a bit of effort to meet others I think that cruising with that age group would be fine. Fitness ROS has a well-equipped Gym on Level 10 that we used regularly without any crowding issues. There are six or so treadmills, four stationary cycles, a cable-weights machine with pull-up bar, free weights, assorted other weight machines and steppers. Hand towels are provided without charge and there is a water fountain. There are spin and boot camp classes available at a price which we didn't use or see. Deck 10 also houses a 400m jogging/walking track and the rock climbing wall. We used the track for running every second day at around 9am and again never experienced crowding issues. It can be quite a challenge running into the inevitable headwind towards the bow of the ship, but you fly down the sternward leg! The rock climbing wall is a bit of fun, but according to my kids, not very challenging compared to the average rock climbing centre in Sydney. You sign up for a time and sign a waiver for kinds to climb. The system seems to work pretty well and we never saw crowds. One disappointment on ROS was the absence of a basketball court. We had used this extensively on the RWC cruise and perhaps foolishly assumed this was standard, so brought with us on ROS a basketball and plastic cricket bat/tennis ball which we did not use at all. Medical We had cause to use the medical centre late one night when our eldest daughter suddenly developed laboured breathing -- cause unknown but perhaps be dust or mould spores. Located on Level 1, the centre is apparently very well equipped to deal with just about any situation and there are 2 doctors and 4 nurses employed to staff it. As it was a late night call out, which was quickly answered, the visit ended up costing $111 for the consultation plus $54 for an athsma puffer. Ironically, our youngest daughter suffers from very occasional athsma and we have puffers at home, but had not brought one along. Oh well, that's what travel insurance is for. There did seem to be quite a few particularly elderly people on board, who suffered a broken limb at some point - wrists and arms being the most common. Even though we had smooth seas for the most part, a ship is an inherently unstable and shifting platform requiring constant rebalancing at times and I guess accidents are inevitable. I would think twice though about taking anyone on a cruise who was at all frail unless they were confined to a wheel chair. Ports/anchorages Isle of Pines was first stop. Tenders seemed to work well, with early bird first-come first-served until 9am, tickets 9 - 11 and then free boarding back and forward all day. At all tender stops we waited until after 11 to avoid queuing. Snorkelling on the reef was wonderful (take your own gear though as hire options were very ordinary and sales price on the ship was expensive). Ultimately though you can only snorkel for so long and after a 30 min walk there was not a lot else to do and so we were back on board by 3 or so for a relaxing lunch in Park Cafe. Pt Vila was next stop and our first port, where we tied up to a wharf rather than anchor offshore and take tenders in. This was very efficient. We walked straight off the boat, out of the port and haggled a $120 price for a 4 hr tour with a local driver, Gavin. His van when we reached it had me a bit worried - bald tires, not a straight panel to be seen and when asked about AC, Gavin deadpanned "sometimes we just lets (sic) the fresh air come in". Despite a shaky start he was a lovely bloke - very laid back and happy to chat about life in Vanuatu. He took us to Cascade Falls, Hideaway island beach, the coffee 'factory', and we stopped at a village where he knew some people and they kindly showed us around and told us about village life. Suffice to say my kids were not all that keen on swapping. We also went duty free shopping. Fung Kwei seems to be the largest and cheapest - eg, 1L Gordon's Gin and Smirnoff Vodka were $12 each. It is also located right next to an open air Bar on the bay that sells delightfully cold draught Tusker, the very quaffable local beer. On the way back to the ship Gavin stopped at a Kava 'bar' to satisfy my wife's curiosity as to taste and affect. She concluded quickly that the latter did not compensate for the former. One thing to note is that petrol in Vanuatu is very expensive (around $1.70 a litre) and so none of the guides seem keen on going any further distance than absolutely necessary. Everything we saw in our 4 hrs was within 10k of the wharf. If you are keen on heading further than this -- apparently there are some beautiful spots further around the Island -- be very specific when negotiating. Due to a cyclone in the area we were unable to stop at Noumea, but the captain organised alternate stops in Luganville and Champagne Bay. The former is barely worth getting off the boat for and, due to many passengers and far fewer vans of any size, groups in particular were subject to some major price gouging. Champagne Bay by comparison was breathtaking and the highlight of our stops. There was little to do but snorkel off the stunningly beautiful beach (the reef at far end is best), go on a short van tour to Blue Lagoon ($10 per head -- we didn't go but others said it was worth seeing), eat lobster under the trees ($20 for half) and drink cold bottles of Tusker ($5 each). Yet everyone loved it and we were sorry to have to leave. Disembarkation Arrival back into Sydney Harbour at 6am was bittersweet. It is a beautiful location, but knowing that the party was over made it hard to truly enjoy. We were given an 8.50am disembarkation for which bags had to be in the hall by 11pm the night before - if you want to carry your own bag off you leave at 7am - so had plenty of time for one last leisurely breakfast in the WJ. The disembarkation process itself was very smooth with no delays encountered. There is no Immigration checking passports, though there are Customs officers, and so you essentially just walk straight out, into the lift or escalator and down to street level. Summary Despite the several areas highlighted for possible improvement, I think the RCCL people do a great job keeping 2200 people with different personalities and preferences happy most of the time. If there is better value for the family holiday $ I've yet to find it. Our trip cost about the same as renting a decent Sydney beach house for the equivalent peak season period. Considering that on ROS you get international transport to various destinations, only unpack and pack once, 10 nights comfortable accommodation, entertainment on tap, 30+ good meals each plus snacks, your room cleaned, bed made, sheets and towels replaced, friendly efficient service, sunshine, a pool, a gym, jogging track, rock climbing wall, self-serve ice cream, free child minding, a relaxed wife and happy kids, it'll do me. Read Less
Sail Date December 2012
This was our second cruise with our school friends. The last cruise was on Rhapsody two years ago. Give me Rhapsody . The boarding was great not problems. The cabin was great on the 10 deck. The cyclone was not the captains fault, did ... Read More
This was our second cruise with our school friends. The last cruise was on Rhapsody two years ago. Give me Rhapsody . The boarding was great not problems. The cabin was great on the 10 deck. The cyclone was not the captains fault, did enjoy the fireworks The meals in the dinning room were wonderful. One night we tried Chops Grille what a mistake . We were seated and no one came near us. We had to ask for drinks and our meal order was taken 45 Min's after we complained. A shame the meal in the end was very nice.But staff not helpful. The cruise was over loaded with kids whose parents couldn't care. They had no respect for other passengers. We asked a man to remove his child from the main pool, the child had a nappy on, he didn't care. He kept saying its OK. So no swimming in that pool. You couldn't get a deck lounge as it was full of parents and kids. The staff even commented that there were a lot of children on the ship. We had a great cruise with our friends We probably wont go on Radiance of the seas again. Read Less
Sail Date December 2012
Introduction Our first cruise in a little more than 10years and we picked a NYE cruise to really celebrate this year. We picked Royal Caribbean and Radiance of the Seas based on the great reviews we had read and the fact that the market ... Read More
Introduction Our first cruise in a little more than 10years and we picked a NYE cruise to really celebrate this year. We picked Royal Caribbean and Radiance of the Seas based on the great reviews we had read and the fact that the market does rave about this ship wherever she goes. We also wanted a something a little more upmarket than the usual local product offered. We were not disappointed. Embarkation This was a Sunday so there wasn't a great many people around in the morning and since RCI have introduced staggered boarding by deck numbers things seemed to go smoothly. On in 30mins although directed to wrong priority queue once up escalators Staterooms 2 x Interconnecting Junior Suite's so we really had more space than an owners suite with the added bonus of 2 bathrooms, 2 x TV's, 2 x Bedrooms etc. We certainly had much more privacy than if all 4 of us had lobbed in a single Grand or Owners Suite. We obviously didn't have Concierge Services but we wouldn't have made much use of these anyway. RCI wanted another $1K per person for this cruise to make it to a single GS from our 2 x JS's! Our Staterooms were always clean and tidy and any little thing we may have left lying around was usually folded nicely when we returned. Our Stateroom Attendant, Virna, was wonderful. She remembered our names after the first afternoon and was always there in the morning with a happy 'good morning' or in the evening always interested in our activities and offering suggestions on other things we might want to do. These guys work hard, are the most visible in terms of guest interaction, and deserve the gratuities they receive and more. We indeed pre-paid ours but made sure to leave extra for Virna. One thing we did notice though was white paint spatter all over the balcony chairs and table -- obviously from the regular maintenance that takes place during longer port visits and turnaround days. They don't seem to protect the outdoor furniture from the painting activities. A Change of Itinerary Due to Cyclone Freda in the Coral Sea it was not possible to visit Noumea, Mystery Island and Isle of Pines in New Caledonia. There was a letter in our Staterooms informing us of this upon embarkation. No surprise really since we had been monitoring the situation in the few days leading up to our cruise. The good thing was though we were to remain in Sydney Harbour for our first two nights! Night 1 at the Overseas Passenger Terminal and then New Years Eve sitting just off Point Piper where we had a "money can't buy" view of the NYE fireworks. We later found out that we made all the News bulletins and Newspapers. We had all the News Helicopters circling us all afternoon on New Years Eve. The decision to shelter in Sydney Harbour was made based on safety issues and whilst politicians and the media may wish to indicate otherwise the facts are the facts. Our actual location was determined by the Sydney Ports Authority and ultimately the Harbour Master -- not our Captain. Early New Years Day we sailed out of Sydney Heads and spent the next 3 days at sea heading up to beautiful Champagne Bay in Vanuatu. A beautiful location with a picturesque beach and gorgeous aqua coloured waters. A fantastic compensation for missing our 3 New Caledonia Ports. We then headed for Port Vila and were back on track from that point. Following was Lifou which was also good but after Champagne Bay nothing could compare although the Snorkelling at Lifou was great judging from reports we had from others. Food & Dinning We found the food options on board were excellent from the Windjammer buffet, Main Dining Room and Specialty restaurants through to the cafes. There is a sufficient variety in the buffet to keep you interested for the length of the cruise. There are a lot of criticisms made about the food in the MDR but I have to say that with only one or two exceptions we found the choice, quality and quantity of food excellent. We ate there all but 3 nights and were more than happy with the results. Service on the first night was very slow but this was likely due to the ship picking up a percentage of new crew members and they needed to quickly come up to speed with the MDR routine. We travelled with our two daughters (15 and 19) who can sometimes be fussy eaters and they had no issues. Our 15 yo is also a Type 1 diabetic and once again we had no issues. The girls loved Izumi and in fact we went there for lunch one day and went back a few days later for Dinner as at lunch they don't do hot food (e.g. the hot rock). Giovanni's was OK and there was a lot of food. We couldn't have one of the appetisers we chose because the cheese ingredient had expired but they gave us an opportunity to change so all good in the end. Chops Grille was fantastic and we had a fantastic meal there and you don't have to have Steak as there are chicken and seafood selections on the menu as well. It was nice to have cooked to order food. My wife and I also did Chef's Table one night and this is an absolutely amazing experience. We had a great Sommelier (Sergey) and our Chef (Armando) worked well together and were informative and entertaining at the same time. The other 11 guests there also made it a night to remember. My 15 yo tried the Doghouse once or twice but it was a take it or leave it kind of experience. The Cafe in the Solarium area was great for snacks and we made use of this once or twice for lunch when we didn't really need anything substantial or didn't want to go to the Buffet again. Latte'udes -- the re-badged Starbucks cafe on Deck 5 has good coffee, frappes etc and free pastries but service is slow and there is nearly always a line. One of the three coffee machines broke down during our cruise and there were no spare parts on board to repair it so this just added to the problem. Believe me if you can't find something to your taste and style on this ship you simply are not trying hard enough. Activities The usual list of cruise activities from Pool games to various kinds of Trivia, Karaoke, Shuffleboard and mini-Golf tournaments as well as Dancing lessons and Crafty type things such as scrapbooking were offered. Lots of things related to health and well being to try and get you in to paying for the high priced services in the spa though which we avoided. Some of the night time entertainment was not to our taste but a few nights we really enjoyed the shows in the Aurora Theatre. The first night though, which ended up being the Captains Welcome Aboard Cocktail Party, they showed a 10minute video which was in fact a blatant advertisement for Royal Caribbean -- guys you already had our money and we were already consuming your product why was this kind of advertising necessary? There was also one night a bunch of rather intoxicated fellows near us who took to heckling the male singer who was performing and there was no security in sight to take care of this which I thought a little odd. The casual entertainers in the bars and atrium were very good and it was nice to be able to sit and enjoy a cocktail or two with great musicians to keep you entertained and help you relax. Bill (Cruise Director) and Darren (Activities Co-ordinator) did their best but really only were visible during major evening events and frankly we didn't see much of them except on the TV doing the daily activities rundown. On the second last day there was a Black Forest cake cooking "demonstration" which Bill took part in with the Captain. This was probably one of the most hilarious things I've ever seen. Captain Sidre is an excellent entertainer and to see him throw cream and liqueur around was just side-splittingly funny. A few in the audience wound up wearing some of these ingredients. Captain Sidre followed this up with a session dealing at one of the Blackjack tables the same evening -- he had the Casino staff wondering what on earth he was doing! If they have the "Love & Marriage" game on your cruise -- go see it -- it's a great night. A word about Bingo. This is only held on sea days and for all but the last day it is held in the Colony Club (last day is in the Aurora Theatre). Well the Colony Club has limited space and the Activities guys seemed to underestimate the popularity of the event. If you didn't arrive 30-45mins before ticket sales started forget thinking about being able to sit anywhere but on the floor! Tickets were scheduled to be sold from 3pm usually and Bingo itself due to start at 3:30pm. Well it never started at 3:30pm and always ended up going well beyond 4:30pm (once it finished at 5pm) and it ended up interrupting the trivia session in the neighbouring Schooner Bar when finished with all the Bingo people walking through to get to either dinner or their next activity. This can definitely be organised a little better I think. Tickets should be sold earlier in the day (the last day they started selling them on the pool deck from 11am!). Any why not make use of the Theatre every day for this event. Ports Champagne Bay (Champagne Beach to be precise) was absolutely beautiful. As we were blessed with wonderful sunny weather our whole cruise we managed to get picturesque days in all the ports. Beautiful blue and aqua waters in Champagne Bay and also Lifou. Friendly locals and plenty of space to roll out your towel, swim, snorkel and relax. Port Vila was a little different to what we remember from previous visits. The locals tout for your business shouting and yelling at the ship early in the morning offering all sorts of tours and activities. Also the days of the shipside markets are gone -- these have all been moved outside the fenced wharf compound which is a shame. A sign of the booming cruise ship market I guess. The only stupid thing that the ship did was the distribution of Tender Tickets for our visit to Champagne Bay. They only started to issue these from 08:30am at a single place on Deck 5 and the lines stretched twice around the atrium. Why oh why didn't they do this either the evening before or even the day before and have a number of locations where these tickets could be obtained. In the end when they called the relevant tender numbers for boarding there was no one checking you had the correct ticket anyway! When we arrived in Lifou I think all the passengers were a bit gun-shy as whilst they advised the first hr or so of the tenders required no tender tickets the fact was that passengers really spread themselves across the morning which meant there was never any need for tender tickets to be used for this port at all. Service Faultless. Dinning staff were really great and helpful and if you didn't like a meal then they would encourage you to choose something else. Even Guest Services who tend to get a bad rap in these forums were helpful. We had two occasions where we had items on our shipboard account that were not ours and they happily removed them from our bill. The first day we needed to get extra keys so we all had access to the two cabins and they did this in very quick time. The Activities staff were mostly OK but Kim (from Jamaica) was the standout. If you are lucky enough to have her on your cruise you will love her! Overall Radiance is a fantastic ship with lots of modern amenities and a design that means you are always able to avail yourself of an ocean view from some angle. The crew are always happy and helpful and even when I came across some of the engineering staff during my very early morning walks around the ship I was greeted with a friendly and hearty "good morning". Food was great with a variety to suit all tastes and entertainment and activities that make your cruise that much more memorable. Whilst our itinerary was somewhat altered the result was more than satisfying with being able to see the Sydney NYE Fireworks. Will definitely be looking to cruise on this ship again. Read Less
Sail Date December 2012
Well, some 2 yrs ago, we flew to Hawaii, learnt how to stand up paddle board (we now have our own) and during our stay, we did the Pride of America cruise around the Hawaiian Islands - loved it so much we are flying back there this ... Read More
Well, some 2 yrs ago, we flew to Hawaii, learnt how to stand up paddle board (we now have our own) and during our stay, we did the Pride of America cruise around the Hawaiian Islands - loved it so much we are flying back there this November, then Celebrity Cruise via Tahitian Islands, Fiji, Noumea, back to Sydney. Our 2nd cruise was with Sun Princess, departing from Brisbane (this city is now one of the fastest growing cities in Australia, so watch for more cruises departing from it), sailed under the Gateway Bridge, with Mai Tai & beer. We visited Fiji, Isle of Pines and Noumea. Food was excellent, the cabin & dining room staff were fantastic, could not fault them, so polite & helpful. I made sure they got a tip. Some of my recommendations whilst in the Ports are as follows: 1. In Fiji, take the Tivuau Island excursions, lovely day out, lots of "bula", fijian beer, good snorkeling and seafood bbq. (What else do you need in life) 2. Suva - not much, but do take the time to see the Museum - to learn about Lapita pottery, and migration of Polynesians throughout the Pacific. They have the rudder from Captain Bligh's ship. on display, and the shoe of the last white man eaten by the natives (years ago of course). Nice shops in Suva, forget the markets - a bit smelly. Try a beer in Suva Bowling Club, quiet & good atmosphere. The Grand Pacific Hotel might be finished soon, should make a nice visit. 3. Isle of Pines - this place is like "Heaven on Earth" to me, my wife couldn't get me out of the water. forget the little cafe, too busy, walk the island pathways away from the beach, most interesting. The Kanaks are such lovely people. 4. Noumea - do you own thing here, buy Explorer Bus Ticket (hop on, hop off - all day long), go down Anse Vate Beach or Baie de Citrons (means Lemon Bay), swim with the locals, then stroll back toward ship terminal, for a nice coffee in one the numerous cafes. Catch the bus when you get tired. I hope this helps someone, who is contemplating a similar cruise. Oh Yes, we had a professor from Canberra, giving wonderful talks in the Auditorium on ancient sailors, navigators, space travel, etc. (I never missed one of his talks - I think he first name was Don) Read Less
Sail Date November 2012
This 10 night cruise (19th Dec-29th) was only our 2nd cruise and the first time on the Pacific Pearl. What a fantastic time myself & daughter had. Being a real traditional Xmas person I was initially sceptical about spending it on the ... Read More
This 10 night cruise (19th Dec-29th) was only our 2nd cruise and the first time on the Pacific Pearl. What a fantastic time myself & daughter had. Being a real traditional Xmas person I was initially sceptical about spending it on the high seas & worried that Xmas would be a non event. I couldn't have been more wrong. The main areas of the ship were beautifully decorated in traditional Xmas style, the Xmas day menu options,festivities and religious services were perfect. Christmas day was spent snorkeling and swimming, bathed in sunshine on beautiful Dravanui Island - pure bliss. Crew: From our cabin attendant and waiters in the Waterfront Restaurant trough to the Cruise Director, I cannot praise the crew highly enough, they were fun, polite and nothing was too much trouble. They work tirelessly and always managed a genuine smile and greeting. The meals produced for the restaurant by the Kitchen crew were of very high quality, varied and delicious.We found absolutely no need to use the two on board paying restaurants, but friends who did said they were amazing. Cabin: We were on deck 10 with an uninterrupted sea views (thanks to a complimentary upgrade). The cabin was light,really comfortable beds, cleaned perfectly and adorned with new towel animals etc for a bit of fun each day. It was comfortable, well equipped & certainly spacious enough for 2 beds and two people. Shore excursions: Provided in Tonga and Fiji.The only disappointment was boxing day in Suva as most things were closed and there was little to do, but hey, everyone deserves a Xmas break. Throughout the cruise & on our excursions we were blessed with daily sunshine and lovely warm temperatures in the pacific, the rain was restricted to very late afternoons or through the night. We were also very lucky to be sailing in relatively calm seas most day. All in all a very pleasant cruise with great passengers from all age groups. Thank you to P&O would definitely recommend it & certainly would do it again. Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
My husband and I flew into Sydney airport from Melbourne and how easy it was to jump on the train and head for Circular Quay Station, 20 minutes later and we were there. Getting off the train but while still on the station we were greeted ... Read More
My husband and I flew into Sydney airport from Melbourne and how easy it was to jump on the train and head for Circular Quay Station, 20 minutes later and we were there. Getting off the train but while still on the station we were greeted by the wonderful sight of Rhapsody of the Seas sitting at her mooring in beautiful Sydney harbour emcompassed by the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Opera House. We decided to first walk to the opposite side of Sydney Cove and take pictures of ROTS as she looked so amazingly clean and sparkling white. There were workers in a dinghy giving the side her paint work a bit of a spruce and window cleaners suspended by ropes freshening up some of the glasswork. (I had wondered if RCI wouldn't put much effort into this cruise overall as it was only a 3 dayer, but I find this was totally unjustified.) We got some great photos, then it was on to embarkation. Looking up the side of Rhapsody as we got up close and personal with her was just breathtaking. Embarkation went pretty smoothly, it took approximately 1 hour from dropping off our bags at the luggage site to boarding the ship. This was a little longer than I expected but the time went quickly as staff directed passengers and held you in conversation while those in front were registered. We went straight to our cabin to see the view from our balcony, which we had some luck with as we had been offered the disabilities cabin. 7032 is nearly twice as big as surrounding balcony cabins and so is its balcony and ensuite. We were on the port side and so there was a great view of the Opera House, we opened the champagne and ate the choc covered strawberries we had ordered while watching the ferries going in and out of the Quay. What a great start! Alex, our steward kept our room spotless during our stay, there wasn't a time we came back to the room and it wasn't clean and freshened. He was extremely friendly, greeted us by name and was always happy to stop for a chat and to help out immediately when we needed something. Maybe it didn't hurt that we gave him a tip when we first met him, during the cruise and at the end. Make them happy and I think they will make your trip amazing. When we pulled out of the mooring at 10pm we went to the stern to watch Rhapsody back in towards the Harbour Bridge then we went forward and just absorbed the wonder of passing the city at night with all the lights and reflections bouncing off the water. The buzz in the atmosphere was electric and there was a band playing and some people dancing around the pool area. Later we went back to our cabin and watched the pilot jump back onto his boat and head back into shore. Leaving Sydney and coming back in on the final morning were highlights for us. Now for the cruise itself. I enjoyed the food in the main dinning room immensely. Some of it was very, very good and some a bit average but even the average meals were cooked well and tasty. Windjammers buffet had just about everything to suit all appetites, from diet to full on fatty, fried foods, I couldn't see how anyone could complain about the food on ROTS unless you just made the wrong choices. Windjammers at breakfast time could be a bit difficult to find a seat. RCI had sat 10 of us together for our dinner seating in the MDR and it was obvious they had taken time to organize similar ages and experience of cruising as most of those at the table were first time cruises. Excellent work! We all got on very well. Also, we had oringinally been assigned the 8:30pm seating and had requested the 6:30pm seating on our booking paperwork, we got it! Our waitress was so obliging, she remembered all our names and always had a smile on her face, her personality was just right, not over the top or pushy nor forgetful or unaccommodating. The activities were just a little bit limited for us. We don't play Bingo and don't bother much with lying around the pool as we have a pool at home but we did enjoy the trivia and the dance lessons. We went to the casino on 2 nights just for a few minutes mostly to pass some time. We had organised to meet some people through the Cruise Critic boards for a pre-dinner cocktail on the first night and enjoyed this so much that we all met each night at a different bar at 4:30, this was so much fun, made some good friends. I also realised that if we were on a cruise that was stopping at ports then the need to find activities all day long wouldn't be as necessary. Anna our cruise director certainly had the right personality for her job, very perky. I enjoyed the shows, and was quite surprised by the dancing especially on the first night, I taught dancing for many years and was aware of the complexity of the choreography and also amazed by the balance needed by the dancers on a rocking ship, even if it was ever so slight. The male dancer with the long hair, have I seen him before? He looked like a guy in the jazz class in the movie "Centre Stage". Maybe. A couple of great things happened that RCI didn't organise, on our first morning we watched Dolphins with their babies swimming below our balcony, and later in the day when we were up on the pool deck a Fighter plane from Williamstown army base did several fly overs of the ship and put on a bit of an acrobatic show for us, the sky was clear and sunny and the loud sound of the fighter was exciting as it buzzed us. You couldn't have planned a better day! We set our alarm to wake at 5:15am on the last morning and woke to the sun rising over the ocean and a beautiful view of our ship slipping in through North and South Heads. MAGIC! Disembarkation was a dream, I don't think it could have been managed better. It took all of 10 minutes to the leave the ship and start our trip home. Our bags were waiting for us and very easy to find. Would we go again on another cruise after this one?? Hmmm let me think.... I've already booked 2 more and have at least another planned. Royal Carribean have created 2 more cruise fanatics, well done! Read Less
Sail Date November 2011
This was our fourth P&O cruise and the Pearl is by far the best in our experience. The food was great, the service from the restaurant/wait staff/cabin staff was extraordinary. The teens HQ centre was new and spacious and the ... Read More
This was our fourth P&O cruise and the Pearl is by far the best in our experience. The food was great, the service from the restaurant/wait staff/cabin staff was extraordinary. The teens HQ centre was new and spacious and the activities were endless. There will always be people who put themselves on a pedestal and think that the whole world owes them a huge favour - and it seems that a lot of these people choose to go cruising. I wish they would just stay at home instead of sharing their misery with everyone else. On the last two cruises, we have got up and moved our children away from people choosing to loudly complain about trivial things. Both times it took all my strength not to tell them to go back to the mansions and butlers and 3-star Michelin chefs that must be waiting for them at home. The Chef's Dinner was an absolute highlight. Eight courses - degustation - paired with eight wines. The Maitre D'Hotel Helder Santos personally greeted us and gave us a tour of the galley before the dinner. The Executive Chef Sean Watier took the time to explain every meal that he created for us. The food was beyond anything I have had on dry land. On top of everything else, at the end of the 3 hour experience, we were given a commemorative photo of the whole dining group along with Mr Santos and Mr Watier. If I had to be critical of anything, it would be that since our last cruise two years ago, the drink service was slow in most venues and the duty-free and photography staff seemed disinterested and impersonal. But, then again, there wasn't any rush and we weren't there to shop. I would go on the Pearl again tomorrow if I could. I hope this helps potential cruisers. Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
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
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

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