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14 South Pacific Holiday Cruise Reviews

We waited anxiously to board the Sea Princess at for the Christmas cruise from Brisbane. Having sailed previously on her, we were waiting to see the remodelling that had been done in Singapore - and it didn't disappoint. Her new ... Read More
We waited anxiously to board the Sea Princess at for the Christmas cruise from Brisbane. Having sailed previously on her, we were waiting to see the remodelling that had been done in Singapore - and it didn't disappoint. Her new Horizon Court was extremely fresh and welcoming - providing and array of foods (greasy and non-greasy) depending on taste. A nice addition was the Italian Cafe offering cakes and pastries and in the afternoon some sliced meats and cheese. We learnt on the cruise that the beds are finally getting an upgrade - about time. This is overdue and will provide an important to sleeping comfort. It was disappointing that many parents with children on board, forgot that they needed to provide adult supervision. I witnessed on several occasions inappropriate behaviour of children, particularly around the staircases and in the lifts (pressing every button when exiting). It was great to hear the Captain (although shouldn't have had to do) remind parents and children about the safety aspects and conduct around the ship. For those parents who were upset by these announcements - maybe look at your kids! Tender disembarkation was good at those ports requiring tenders. However, tender disembarkation is always slow, so may have upset some who had to wait for a tender. Return services from the islands was great. Overall, the cruise was value for money and very relaxing. Looking forward to sailing on the Sea Princess again soon. Read Less
Sail Date December 2015
My wife and I travelled with our family - children and grandchildren - we had cruised before but none of the others had.  The cruise was terrific in that the grandchildren were well catered for - food, entertainment, port activities - but ... Read More
My wife and I travelled with our family - children and grandchildren - we had cruised before but none of the others had.  The cruise was terrific in that the grandchildren were well catered for - food, entertainment, port activities - but you MUST remember to take you own reef shoes, goggles, snorkel and flippers - thankfully they did.  The adults enjoyed the experience and the benefits of cruising life - including the kids club and kids entertainment/activities.  Our reading said the ship had a re-furb in 2011 - our daughter suggested it was a 'soft' re-refurb as there were parts of the ship that still looked 'tired'.  Staff were polite and reasonably friendly but seemed to lack the 'zest' for their jobs - it was like they were going through the motions.  Having said that we were super impressed by our waiters in the Cascades Restaurant - they were brilliant - they were patient with the children and attentive, knowledgeable and courteous with the adults.  The same could not be said for the fee-for restaurant Chops Grille - the meal was quite good but the service left a lot to be desired, mainly due to being short staffed, very short staffed - I had no qualms about tipping in Cascades but didn't even consider it in Chops - give it the Chop.  We had anytime dining but because of the size of the group were able to secure a regular time slot but our observations were that there was always a wait to be seated if you didn't have a booking - no matter what size your party was - at better choice may have been set time where the dining room/area seemed to be slightly better - but we did have the best waiters/servers you could ask for.  My wife and I continually compared this cruise with the cruises aimed at the adult market and we did find that it didn't compare but we were there for a family holiday and in that sense - mission accomplished. Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
This was our second cruise with Royal Caribbean, but our first from Australia. We have previously done a European Cruise on a Voyager Class and a trans Pacific with Celebrity Cruises. Boarding was straight forward, we arrived at about 1pm ... Read More
This was our second cruise with Royal Caribbean, but our first from Australia. We have previously done a European Cruise on a Voyager Class and a trans Pacific with Celebrity Cruises. Boarding was straight forward, we arrived at about 1pm and only had to queue for about 5-10 minutes to check in, but the line was moving constantly. Passport control was straightforward and we found ourselves on the ship in no time. Rooms were available when we boarded so we went to check out our cabin. We had booked an aft corner balcony 8168 on deck 8, and it was fantastic. It is a normal balcony room on the inside, but the balcony itself is at least twice the width and half as deep again as a standard balcony. It is set up with 2 lounges as well as 2 chairs and a table. It was great sitting here on sea days watching the wake, and seeing the Islands slide by. The only negative would be that because it doesn't have much of an overhang above, it's quite exposed to the elements, so it got very wet when it rained and quite hot on sunny days. Our cabin attendant was fantastic, very friendly and new our names right away. He did great towel animals too :) We had my time dining, and with just the 2 of us we were always able to get a table with only a few minutes wait. We usually ate at about 7pm most nights when we went. I had heard from other people they were having issues getting seated but we personally didn't have an issue. We tried all of the specialty dining except chefs table, and as a whole enjoyed it, although I found the quality of the paid restaurants is no longer so much better than the main dining room, so found the extra fee a little steep. I probably wouldn't go to them again next cruise unless I had OBC. They have also recently changed the menus and they are much smaller than I remember. I found the General layout of this class ship confusing, I know it's a smaller ship than Voyager class but I found the shops area very cluttered, the flow of people around the ship very restricted and some things plain hidden away. For example the pub could only be accessed from midship by walking through the casino, Rita's Crabshack and Izumi were wedged up the back of the windjammer and you had to walk through them to get to the outside seating for windjammer. But then they have a huge space for a hotdog stand and another restaurant on an upper deck where you have to go outside to reach. I much prefer the layout of Voyager. Entertainment I found pretty good, I enjoyed going to the different trivia but did sometimes find them scheduled at a time when most people were at dinner. Martin was a fantastic trivia host, but there was an American guy who sometimes did it and I didn't like his style. And I often found the questions very American at times, even though there were only 200 non Australians on board. I also found the lack of a good communal space difficult for some events, on Voyager there is the ice rink area, on Radiance anything large was done in the colony club which only has a small amount of seating near the central area, otherwise you are sitting quite far back with lots of columns and balustrades in the way, it made participating in lots of things impossible. Ports were very good, I loved all the islands and we just organised our own thing in each port, which was very easy to do. Just make sure to bring your own snorkel equipment if this is what you want to do. The day we were at mystery island it was horrible weather and the crew did a great job of putting on extra activities to cater for most people staying on board. On a whole I enjoyed this cruise very much, there were some minor things wrong but nothing to ruin a holiday. I would cruise on Radiance again but I do prefer the Voager class a little more. But the things I didn't like about Raidiance is probably the things another person would love, it's just a personal preference I guess. Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
This was my first cruise, so I really have nothing to compare it to. There were 20 of us, on this xmas 2014 cruise. The Voyager was lovely, found it to be really clean, and the service exceptional. Both our restaurant attendants were great ... Read More
This was my first cruise, so I really have nothing to compare it to. There were 20 of us, on this xmas 2014 cruise. The Voyager was lovely, found it to be really clean, and the service exceptional. Both our restaurant attendants were great even knowing individually what food you liked and how to cook it before you could order, after the first night!. Our room attendant looked after the room constantly with the slightest change of mess cleaned up, as soon as you left the room. They didn't supply shampoos etc. though, which could have been included, however if you asked for them, there they were as soon as you got back to the room. The entertainment was average, with the magician being really good and funny. I didn't enjoy the singing shows that much, but some of them weren't my thing. The bars for the Quiz shows did get a bit crowded, but you did get to meet new people this way, which was a positive. The windjammer food was good, but with not a lot of variety, but then I don't eat seafood, eat quite plainly, so not really fussed if there was any extravagant choices. More service could have been provided around the pool decks, for those who drank. In the 9 days I still did not get to see the whole ship, too busy enjoying the activities, and relaxing. The café on deck five was a great food and meeting place, thoroughly enjoyed the food and coffee, and was a good viewing place for the street activities. If you didn't get enough food on this ship, you must have been blind or busy. Madagascar 3D was a highlight in the theatre, well worth watching. Overall it was well worth the money, and hardly had to spend a thing on board, would go on again. The only critism I could make was the lack of Xmas theme going on, Xmas day was in port, and when you got back on wasn't really much different to any other day, apart from the food where xmas food was available, and a tree and a few decorations. Would go on this ship again. Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
This was my 6th cruise, 1st time on Royal Caribbean. I had heard lots of good things about RC so I was a little disappointed. Firstly I agree with some of the comments others have made here; greatly under staffed in areas. Whilst the staff ... Read More
This was my 6th cruise, 1st time on Royal Caribbean. I had heard lots of good things about RC so I was a little disappointed. Firstly I agree with some of the comments others have made here; greatly under staffed in areas. Whilst the staff do their utmost, they are run off their feet. Most mornings there was a 30 - 40 minute wait for coffee at the Cafe and the quality of the coffee was appalling. My biggest complaint would have to be the quality of the food and cocktails. I purchased a drinks package prior to departing. If I had know that all cocktails are pre-mixed out of a carton I probably would not have done so. They were horrible sugary, artificial tasting crap! I tried to think up cocktails that might not come out of a carton and decided on a caprioska to be told they had no limes, then mysteriously on the last day, they had no lemons only limes!! Go figure. Even some of the food tasted like it came out of a packet. Eggs benedict served with a packet mix sauce and most of the desserts were a gelatinous packet mix concoction. Christmas lunch / dinner was a disappointment as stated by others. the entertainment was disappointing also. No sailaway parties and Christmas and New Year were celebrated in the centrium which was only a small are where a few could actually join in leaving the rest of us to hang over the railings on the upper levels watching and not being able to join in. why not have it up on the deck pools side where there was a lot more room and also not so stuffy and hot?? it didn't make sense. Having been on P&O, Princess and now Royal Caribbean I would say P&O have the best value, food and drinks. Royal do have a nice ship and Princess... I think I'll wait another 10 - 20 years before I go back on one of their cruises. Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
For our Xmas cruise my wife and I chose the Voyager as we hadn't been on RCCL since 2009 so wanted to see how it compared. Fair to say Voyager is a tad tired but that's OK because we were lucky enough to snag a "flights ... Read More
For our Xmas cruise my wife and I chose the Voyager as we hadn't been on RCCL since 2009 so wanted to see how it compared. Fair to say Voyager is a tad tired but that's OK because we were lucky enough to snag a "flights included" deal and the ice rink, etc, sounded interesting. Sadly, our travel agent failed to book early dining and when we realised the error in mid October we were told we were stuck with 2nd sitting. (Strangely, folk who booked in early December were given early dining, another yellow card for RCCL.) The flights and transfer went smoothly and as we had already travelled on the Rhapsody in 2009, our crown & anchor status saw us go straight on board for lunch. The food in Windjammer is great. Fresh and reasonably varied. Were able to go back on shore and post the late Xmas cards, etc. Boarded again about 4:00 o'clock and tried to switch to early or anytime dining but ended up on a long waiting list so filled in time till the 8:15pm sitting in our allocated restaurant, Le Boheme. This is where it really started to unravel. We found ourselves together, alone, just the two of us, on an 8 seat table and sat there for 30 minutes while the waitstaff waited to see if anyone else came along. Eventually ordered the "chef's recommendation" on the theory that, the easiest way to gauge the grub, is to eat whatever the chef puts his/her name to. Sadly, the entree that turned up about 9:00 o'clock was like a large lump of fish paste with a couple of tired looking leathery prawns thrown on top. OK, maybe the main will be better. About 20-25 minutes later, out came the pork chop (I think it was Mojo Pork Chop), went to cut a bite, it was so tough I reckon if I'd been at home, I would have used the nail gun to fix it over the hole in me work boot and it would have been good for months. Needless to say, Julia's meal wasn't much better so we gave up and walked out, much to the consternation of the waitstaff. Felt a bit guilty for the waitstaff so decided to try Le Boheme again on night 2. Jane, our waiter, took our order a bit quicker this time. After the previous experience, I was smart enough to NOT order any recommendations but Julia couldn't resist the Roast Duck. BAD MOVE. What turned up looked like something that had been cooked in the morning and sat out of Woolies rotisserie all day till late night closing. It was so tough she could hardly find any edible meat -- not what you expect on a cruise ship under the chef's name. Desert was also not great but they simply bought out a different dish. Needles to say we henceforth ate in the Windjammer. Come Christmas Day, we thought we would give Le Boheme one last try as we had already run into other passengers who had also walked out and figured even the dumbest chef would work out there was a problem and fix it. Sadly, we ordered the traditional Christmas pud and custard. When it turned up, mine was so hard that I needed a hammer and chisel to break it open. Julia's was actually burnt under the custard. The same problem was observed on several tables. Talked to guests who had been to the 5:15 sitting, they found their food was fine. Finally worked out the problem (BE WARNED) The "chef/dishwasher" was obviously cooking ALL the "special" dishes in the afternoon for the early sitting and then shoving them (hopefully) into a baine marie or slow oven for several hours until they were finally served after 9:00 pm that night . In any serious restaurant dishes that badly overcooked would not get out of the kitchen. Unfortunately, like many yank ships, they close the buffet at 9:00 o'clock so if the late sitting meal is inedible, alternatives are limited. (Eagle boys don't deliver at sea.) Basically, while we enjoyed all other aspects of the cruise, this sort of treatment of guests is enough to cause us to write off the Voyager and put a big question mark against RCCL. I'll bet RCCL wouldn't actually try this if they were in the Caribbean with American passengers but obviously don't have the same respect for Australians, especially as we are forced to prepay gratuities rather than being allowed to actually reward good service and withhold from average service.   Read Less
Sail Date December 2013
As others on this cruise have written, it was generally great, with a few negatives. Although it was full of Australians enjoying Christmas, this is basically a ship offering an American cultural experience. This means that a lot of things ... Read More
As others on this cruise have written, it was generally great, with a few negatives. Although it was full of Australians enjoying Christmas, this is basically a ship offering an American cultural experience. This means that a lot of things one takes for granted are simply not available - there is NO decent coffee on board, not even at the cafe, and it is impossible to get a decent cup of tea because the water is always tepid. As far as Christmas food is concerned, there was no effort to provide a decent Christmas lunch/dinner with the normal foods Australians expect such as hot and cold turkey, sea-food salads, plum pudding and so on. It is true there was ham on one evening menu and at the buffet, but overall it didn't feel like Christmas and the constant Musak carols in every corner of the ship only was irritating. Overall, though, the food was very good to excellent, although the Mexican and Japanese offerings were just adequate and only available at night. Drink prices (without a "package") were OK but we did end up spending a great deal more on cocktails than we expected. Everything was kept spotlessly clean, the cabin service (and attendants) were great, as were most of the service staff, the Solarium pool was lovely although not big enough, the entertainment was okay to good (classical musicians were lovely) and the embarkation and tendering process was well-organised and unstressful. There really needed to be some "quiet" spaces - the pre-recorded music selections was pretty blah and some groups were loud and raucous by early afternoon. Cabin comfort was good but the bathrooms were very minimal and as noted there were no proper toiletries provided. The Royal Carribean "style" has its own logic and if you don't mind things being slightly tacky and, for Australian tastes, over the top, it was a lot of fun. Read Less
Sail Date December 2013
I'll start by saying that I am a frequent cruiser and this was my 50th cruise overall. Mostly with Princess and P&O Cruises (UK and Australia). Carnival have just started cruising out of Sydney to the South Pacific and to New ... Read More
I'll start by saying that I am a frequent cruiser and this was my 50th cruise overall. Mostly with Princess and P&O Cruises (UK and Australia). Carnival have just started cruising out of Sydney to the South Pacific and to New Zealand. My friend and I stayed a couple of nights before at the Sofitel in Sydney before we embarked on our cruise. Our hotel was close to the terminal, and we could have easily have walked to the Overseas Passenger Terminal in Circular Quay. We decided to take a cab, as it would be less stressful. I booked this cruise with an idea that it would be a different style of cruising compared to previous experiences. My last cruise before this one was on P&O Australia's Pacific Jewel. I will not return to P&O (unless the price is right!) because of their poor quality food and the age of their ships. I wanted something newer and larger than P&O can offer, and this is where Carnival fitted in nicely with newer ships and hopefully better food. Our embarkation was a breeze, we had a 12:30pm-1:00pm check in time, due to the fact that we had a Vista Suite on deck 6 (6260). We arrived by cab and our baggage was taken from us and we were shown into the terminal building. We had forgotten to fill in the departure cards, and therefore this took us an additional 5 minutes that we need not have wasted. We were shown up to the check in counter, where the VIP line was. We only waited 20 seconds before being called. There was an issue with my friends passport, as he is German and their computers didn't want to recognise it. However this was sorted and we were on our way through security and onto the ship in no time. Our cabin was a Vista Suite, and to be honest, it looked like it had been designed by a 3 year old child. There were doors that were pointless, the entrance hall seemed to be the biggest part of the cabin, as this was long and narrow. The best thing about this cabin was the Balcony and Bathroom. The balcony was huge and had 2 loungers, 2 chairs and a table on it. It was nearly as big as the cabin!! It was long and narrow, not wide and short. The furnishings in the cabin were fine, and had the correct Australian plugs etc. The beds were comfy and although in a twin formation, they were large enough for someone like myself (201cm tall). The TV's and electricals had been changed for the Australian market. Our cabin steward was to say the least, VERY average. I tipped him $50 on the first day, and asked him to take care of us, with the promise that if he did, there would be another tip at the end of the cruise. He wasn't bad, just not really efficient. I had to remind him several times to collect my dry cleaning, and also he would sometimes wait till much later to clean the cabin. On one occasion, we slept in and lazed around the balcony till 2pm. I understand that they need a break, and by 8pm the cabin still hadn't been made up. On our return at 9:30pm he was just finishing. Not satisfactory if you're in a suite. The suite does NOT come with any perks. No priority tender service from the ship, no extra cocktail parties, no offers of a dining reservation with senior members of the ships company, and no priority disembarkation. This to me was the worst part about the cruise. I know I sound like the complaining type, but honestly, if you cruise with other lines this comes as standard (even Princess and P&O, Which are under the companies umbrella). Dining was a mix of very good and awful, some nights the food was just not up to scratch, and others it was amazing. I think that the food overall was much better than P&O (Australia). the BEST thing was the chocolate melting cake... We had that every night, and shared another dessert between us. Soups were generally good, and on a couple of occasions the beef was excellent. Our table waters were AMAZING. They did a good job of making sure that each table got to order first at least once or twice during the cruise. Andrej was a mind reader, he made sure that we were always happy with our food, and once or twice went back into the kitchen to get a fresh dish, when the dish was cold. Nothing was too much trouble for him, and he made dining a pleasure. I can't remember his sidekicks name, but he was friendly and always seemed to be doing a good job. I must congratulate Andrej for his efforts. He was one of the senior waiters, and during the day he was in charge of the buffet. We dined in the steakhouse on one occasion and paid a $35 supplement to do so. The food was good, however the service was not on par with the dining room downstairs. We decided to cancel our second visit, as although the food was good (and large portions!) the poor quality of the wait staff made us change our mind. The ship can be a little visually challenging from the inside. The overall design of the ship is good, and easy to navigate around. I got very confused by the deck numbers, as normally deck 7 is the promenade, on the spirit, this is deck 3! I think the interior designer must have been on some rather large trip when he planned the interior. It took a couple of days to adjust to the gawdyness, before accepting it and just treating it as normal. The serenity area (Adults only) is a great place to hang around during sea days. There are plenty of loungers and a spa and pool. The bar was also very well used here during our cruise. Live music happened sometimes, and this was a good change from piped music that you normally get. The best thing was it was kid free. The buffet was very standard, nothing special and not really of good quality. However a special mention to the 24 hour pizza place and the free flow "Mr whippy" ice-cream machine! I also liked the fact that during the day, you could always get a lemon squash or iced tea. I purchased a soda card and felt this to be very good value at $7 per day. Our ports of call included Isle of Pines, Noumea, Lefou and Mare. We took the beach tour in Lefou as I had done this previously and found the beach to be amazing. This time however, a storm had come through and it wasn't as good as my two previous visits. We also took a tour in Mare to the beach, and this was great. In Noumea it was a Sunday, and everything was shut. I stayed on the ship and my friend ventured ashore, only to return 40 minutes later as there was nothing open. Isle of pines we just swam from where the tender landed. Nice beaches on this trip! Entertainment was actually quite good. We went to several shows, including the hypnotist. He was quite funny but was also inappropriate with the ladies during the adult only shows. I think the words.. God's gift comes to mind. Many other passengers thought he was very creepy. Comedy shows were ok,. but the live music and shows were of a better standard that expected. Overall we had a great time, some good points (waiter, some meals onboard, good ports of call) and some bad points (no suite perks, having to queue for tenders for over 2 hours! and some disappointing food on some occasions.) I've booked to go back in September with another friend of mine, this time in a Grand Suite which, hopefully is better laid out than the Vista Suite and I get a better cabin steward! Read Less
Sail Date April 2013
Hi everyone, I just returned from my second cruise on Rhapsody of the Seas, I first sailed on her in November 2011 before she was refurbished and then again in December 2012 on the Christmas Cruise for 10 nights travelling to the South ... Read More
Hi everyone, I just returned from my second cruise on Rhapsody of the Seas, I first sailed on her in November 2011 before she was refurbished and then again in December 2012 on the Christmas Cruise for 10 nights travelling to the South Pacific, my wife is partly disabled and can't walk for long distances and needs to use a wheelchair as well as being large, so a standard stateroom is too small for her so we booked disabled stateroom 2102 on deck 2. THE STATEROOM This was a category F, lower class stateroom on Deck 2 with a window. We really liked it, it was large at 254 square feet, about 20 square feet smaller than a junior suite but without a balcony. It had plenty of room for a wheelchair and walking room around everything, features a queen bed ( 2 singles joined together which felt more like a king size bed ), ample room but the mattress was a little too firm for our liking and the pillows felt like we were sleeping on rocks, hence we had stiff necks in the morning and sore backs but for what its worth, any bed outside of your home will never be like your sweet home bed. The bathroom was very spacious featuring a large disabled shower, with a shower chair that folded down on the wall as well as a free standing shower chair, flexible and fully adjustable shower head and outstanding water pressure and temperature control, I only wish our home shower was this good. We had a fridge in our room but we had to request that at the time of booking so I could store my insulin as I am diabetic, lower class staterooms on Rhapsody do not come with fridges but they give you a minibar featuring the coca cola range and spring water WITHOUT A FRIDGE in low class, I think that's ridiculous without a fridge as standard, I mean who wants to drink warm coke! We had a Samsung 24 inch flat t.v panel in the room which was part of the ships refurb which was excellent, first cruise we did on Rhapsody we had this old 12 inch boxy Sony trinitron old school crt television which you could hardly see a thing on, the new T.Vs are a definite improvement and the channel line up was better featuring several channels plugging Royal Caribbean programming and propaganda as well as an action movie channel, Turner Classic Movies TCM, a news channel, ESPN sports, Australia Network,a channel featuring American CBS network programming which included Hawaii Five O, Cartoon Network, another movie channel and a few useless french channels, the movie channels ran in a loop replaying the same line up of movies each day, on this cruise a few Christmas themed. The channel line up and variety could be improved,but then you are meant to be out of your cabin a lot. Our stateroom attendant, "I made", a native Philipian was excellent, he could not help us enough and at times my wife was sick with back and muscle problems and stayed in the cabin, he always checked on her while I was out and about and always ready to help us. THE SHIP AND ACTIVITIES On this cruise the ship was packed to cpacity, 2260 passengers, it could get rather crowded in the Centrum, the central area of the ship which starts on Deck 4 and is 6 stories high and is the main activity hive of the ship for music and demonstrations on cooking etc. I found there was excessive art auctions on this cruise occupying the Centrum during the day, where really you wanted to sit in quiet and relax, I found the auctions annoying, there were other areas of the ship such as one of the dance lounges where this activity could be tucked away out of sight, for the record most of the auctions I heard were passed in and nobody bought the art. The Centrum was one of the main areas that was refurbished and was very nice, featuring colour changing lighting and an area above were trapeze artists from the crew perform, on this cruise they performed 3 times briefly but you really did not see that much of them. At night the Centrum was a hive of activity with dance contests and live music/singers and it was very crowded, impossible to get a seat there most nights so we went back to our cabin to relax. On the pool deck, Deck 9 another refurb was the giant movie screen above the main pool, they only played one movie on it the whole cruise at night "Finding Nemo" and the rest of the time they played tropical and ocean scenery in a continuous loop day and night. THE NEW SPECIALITY RESTAURANTS - THE THINGS THAT DON'T COME FREE Rhapsody had 3 new restaurants aboard her, Giovanni's Table, Izumi, and Chops Grill. We were fortunate enough to dine one night ( it was our 4th wedding anniversary ) at Giovanni's Table, a 50 seat Italian Tuscan style restaurant that costs $20 USD EXTRA PER HEAD TO DINE THERE. We found this well worth it, not only was the food excellent, there was mountains of it, we dined on a 5 course meal and our stomachs were bursting at the seams well before the finish of it. We recommend Giovanni's Table, its worth the extra you pay for it, its food is well above the standard of the main dining room and the buffet and we advise pre-booking this before you board the ship to get a seat as it only serves lunch and dinner ( the menu's are different for lunch and dinner ) and can only hold 50 people at a time, its located on Deck 6 at the back of the Schooner Bar. THE ON BOARD ENTERTAINMENT We found apart from the new carpet, the 1200 seat Broadway Melodies theatre on 2 levels on Decks 5 and 6 at the front of the ship had not really changed that much, as for the shows, they had several guest entertainers, the second night we had a U.S artist buy the name of Bruce Parker who sang tributes to the great crooners such as Frank Sinatra and songs from the 50's and 60's mixed in with a bit of comedy, he was really good and has worked with famous artists such as Michael Jackson on background vocals etc., that was a good show. Then there were the standard Royal Carribean dancers and singing troupe with their headliner shows which had not changed from our previous cruise, with themes such as country and western and 50's rock and roll, they were good but when you have seen it all before it can get a little tedious. Overall there was a mix of other activities during the day aimed at the older age group 30 to 60 such as scrap booking and jewellery making which my wife did, trivia contests, bingo which at $32 for 4 games was too expensive to play, belly dancing, those pain in the butt art auctions etc. I am 48 year old man and got bored on the ship and started hanging out in the casino too much but fortunately my wins mostly balanced my losses and I only ended up loosing $100 for a 10 day cruise which was not bad but the casino can be very costly and my advice is stay out and find something better to do if you can. THE FOOD Well its American style food cooked in the American Way, I had my mother-in-law with us on this cruise and she complained she did not like any of the food, the woman is a very fussy eater and whined when the meat was rare and underdone and I could have pushed her over the side as she whined too much, the food is okay, it will never win any Michelin Stars and get bagged by Gordon Ramsay but this is a middle of the range cruise line and your not paying for paying to eat top class food in a top class restaurant, its suites most peoples tastes, the Windjammer buffet can wear you down thin with the food range some nights and the fine dining in the Edelweiss Restaurant, although being better quality food, it serves a la carte small size portions that leave you wanting for more at the end but if you were still hungry after eating at fine dining, you could always go to the buffet or get room service and have a Bistro Burger which was a pretty okay hamburger that was bought to your room free of charge,its part of the complimentary food that comes in your package. As for drinks, we strongly recommend you pre-purchase the unlimited soda package before you board the ship, the packages come out about 2 months before your cruise date and can be paid online at Royal Carribean and added to your cruise. The Soda Package for our 10 day cruise was $72 USD a head but it gave you unlimited soft drink from the Coca Cola range of beverages, it was money saver for those hot tropical days when you got really thirsty. The alcoholic drinks, the cocktails ranged from about USD $7.50 to about $12 plus they automatically add a 15% gratuity or tip on each alcoholic drink you buy, this also applies to soft drink if you don't buy the soda package. Wine is very expensive on this ship with the cheapest glass at USD $13 and bottles are from about USD $50 to $295. Beer is reasonably priced, a 330 ml Corona Extra costs $5.50 usd and a 750 ml Foster's oil can costs $8, a huge beer that you can share between 2 people. OVERALL CRUISE RATING AND EXPERIENCE We did enjoy this cruise but found it a little crowded at times but as it was a peak season Christmas cruise we expected this may be the case, some things were repeats of our last cruise including part of the cruise destination itinerary, it was a good cruise but after 10 days we were a little weary of it and we need to change to another ship/cruise line and itinerary. Rhapsody is a good ship, most people will find little to complain about, the crew must be the friendliest on the seas, they perform their jobs with enthusiasm and it appeared to us they like working on this ship Read Less
Sail Date December 2012
We are a family of four, including two teenage daughter (19 & 17). This was our 13th cruise, 4th with Princess (on second on the Sea Princess) so we knew what to expect and were no strangers of the consummate host policy as well as ... Read More
We are a family of four, including two teenage daughter (19 & 17). This was our 13th cruise, 4th with Princess (on second on the Sea Princess) so we knew what to expect and were no strangers of the consummate host policy as well as the standard of other ships and lines. Our cruise visited Fiji, Vanautu and New Caledonia over 14 night on the Sea Princess and was a New Years Eve cruise. Due to Cyclone Freda we had to rearrange our itinerary and divert the bad weather, which meant we arrived late to Noumea by a couple of hours and had our Vila port delayed to one of our sea days. Some things which weren't to our liking or contained some issue: The tender service wasn't up to scratch. Accidents occurred at one of our ports (Savusavu, Fiji) which included a heavy collision causing glass damage and the tender not being tied properly to sure. The service was often slow and uncomfortable, taking up to 45 minutes once to proceed ashore. There was a strong smell of diesel and no open windows. On one occasion a window was left often at the front of the tender and the boat was speeding at a significant pace over large enough waves; when a large wave was hit, the water enter through the tender, hitting and soaking the two front rows completely a couple of times. The service over New Years was slowed, not that we minded. We enjoy our dinner and drinks service to be relaxed, yet for those of you more fussy or experienced passengers you wouldn't enjoy this. Nevertheless, this was only due to the influx of crowds due to the holiday cruise and the high standard of perfection needed to be upheld during the season. The steak in the dining room was inedible due to its toughness and the crème brulee had no crunch and was freezing cold. Beside that the food was quite wonderful. If you don't mind heading upstairs to the Steakhouse and paying 20 extra per head, it's an amazing culinary experience. We make it an event every Princess cruise we do. Unfortunately the spa was a major let down, especially compared to previous Princess spa treatments. Having been on the Sea Princess this time last year, the Pacific Princess in 2007 and The Diamond Princess in 2009, we enjoyed ALL our treatment sessions and were impressed by the prompt, enthusiastic and professional treatments. Most of our dissatisfaction was with the "manager" of the spa. She mixed up two of our appointments, writing down one time on a card, receiving a different time on our stateroom confirmation letter, and another time when questioned in person after this incident. It was all very confusing. Additionally my 17 year old sister had her neck and back massage in the salon, where other people were getting their hair done or manicures or pedicures. I don't think this venue was appropriate for a massage, and doesn't follow the relaxation mission statement the cruise promotes. This was not escaping completely. At Noumea the ship had to dock at an industrial port, not the commercial customs port in town, and we were confused as to why when there was no cruise liner at the other dock. Free shuttle buses were forced to take us, there was no way we were able to walk but the problem was waiting for one to leave the boat. The queue extended from outside the dining room all around the atrium and down in a circle. This is unacceptable. A more suitable solution which could have been initiated, even with the itinerary diversion was to ask cabins which time they want to leave the ship at Noumea and pass out according tickets, and then call them out over the PA in an orderly fashion. There were also queues for breakfast a couple of times in the dining room, which is unusual and we've never experienced on our 13 cruises. The cruise also push for group seatings and originally our family of four was put with another couple for dinner. This made them feel very awkward as I would feel in their shoes. 12 months ago this didn't happen. It's upsetting Princess are pushing this direction since they were known (and loved by us) for traditional family dining. On two occasions we found bugs in our salad, once in the buffet and once in the restaurant. During the restaurant occasion there were two bugs and one hair. We didn't cause a fuss, just didn't eat the rest, but it's not acceptable for a Princess cruise. The air conditioning onboard was hardly ever on and we found the dining room very hot. Additionally the roof in the dining room looked quite grubby and despite the ship having renovations done in April-May 2012, it wasn't to scratch. Entertainment in the princess theatre was very poor. The shows we didn't see due to their poor standard last time on the Sea Princess, but the violin act lacked professionalism and could have done without the comical sketches and lame jokes. I read on another review that "entertainment was an insult to intelligent people" which I agree, yet on the other hand other activities such as lectures, games and bingo were great and well hosted. Big props out to the guest history lectuer Dr Mark Johnson who was fabulous and very approachable- enjoyed his talks very much on sea days! Also every one of the bands were great,enjoyed them including the string trio and Princess band. However, on the other hand, the following include our highlights over our cruise: The bar and restaurant staff were all wonderful, catering to every single request you have. We enjoyed our 3 meals a day in the Traviata restaurant and the menu and the service was incredible! Our waiting staff Enrique, Kateryna and Siliva were wonderful. They went above and beyond to take care of us, bringing us extra food and new drinks without even requesting it. Very happy with the bar and restaurant waiters. Our room steward was just as lovely. He was prompt, polite, catered to our needs i.e. additional towels and dry cleaning concerns, and was a pleasure to be around. Our room was left clean all hours of the day. We had a minisuite which was excellent. Even the staterooms on board are good. The bread and pastas are made fresh which is excellent. They taste great. Our head waiters, Jose, Marius and Andrea were wonderful! They took extra special care of the guests and were superbly allocated. Enjoyed their company. Deck cadets handed out cold towels at the more hot ports so we stayed refreshed while waiting for tenders or boarding the ship. It was a clever initiative and very comforting. Well done Princess! Captain Street, was absolutely brilliant. He made lovely and kind midday announcements updating our nautical progress. He also very kind when we met him as well, and willing for a chat and photos. He also made some excellent executive decisions due to the bad weather and the developing Cyclone Freda. The deputy cruise director, Andrew, was great. He was a kind man and often got involved with the passengers, more so than the Cruise Director who could never be found. Disembarkation and Embarkation were prompt, friendly and easy, even with customs on and off. We were impressed and pleased. Shore excurions were great. Offered variety and were pleased with our ones. If you do visit Vila Vanatau, please make it a must to see the Cascades and waterfalls in Mele. They were incredible and the tour was one of our best. Honestly made our trip! The itinerary was excellent and this is where Princess excel. Princess knows the market and take advantage of beautiful ports. Our ports were lovely and we enjoyed the cultural and geographical experience, even though we have seen a few places before. They also took advantage of New Years onboard which was the reason we chose this cruise. There were tonnes of entertainment and parties onboard, an excellent evening planned. Plus their onboard booking and credit scheme over two years is a great idea and definitely something to take advantage of if you are interested in cruising again with princess. Overall we were disappointed with Sea Princess, after witnessing a flawless vacation 12 months earlier. Yet due to the personal touch of Princess and their comparison to other lines we've sailed with e.g. PnO Australia, Louis, Thompson & Norwegian Cruise Line we'd definitely sail with them again. Read Less
Sail Date December 2012
We have just returned from a very enjoyable cruise on Dawn Princess, my partner and I travelling this time with our 80 year old mother and her friend. We had previously been on this ship 2 years ago, on the final leg of the world cruise, ... Read More
We have just returned from a very enjoyable cruise on Dawn Princess, my partner and I travelling this time with our 80 year old mother and her friend. We had previously been on this ship 2 years ago, on the final leg of the world cruise, and this cruise compared favourably. There was some difficulty with embarkation, caused from both the Qantas strike in Australia, and the delay of the ship's arrival and departure as a result of propulsion engine trouble on the last cruise. However Princess handled these problems very well, and we finally left some 5 hours late. Our inside cabin was small, but with lots of storage space, and a bathroom slightly larger than the outside cabins, and we adapted to the small space. Our cabin steward was excellent, and attended promptly to all our requirements, such as a different pillow. The public areas were mostly good, but we were disappointed with the fitness and recreation areas, which we use a lot( not a patch on the Royal Caribbean equivalent.) The entertainment was also not really up to the usual cruise line offerings, but we went along anyway as this is part of the cruise experience we enjoy. We also enjoy a pre-dinner show before the late sitting dining, but this was not offered.The staff show was very good though, as was the passenger show and karaoke final. The food was very good to excellent, with only 2 nights of the 14 in the dining room not enjoyable. Our dining waiters were all exceptionally good. The attention to a gluten-free dietary requirement was fantastic. Horizon Court food was also very good for both breakfast and lunch, and we avoided the rush by going later than the main crowd.In the ports we easily arranged our own small tours when we got to each dock, all of which were satisfactory, at a cost of between $10 and $15 a head. Princess excursions were very expensive, but good for those who aren't confident in arranging their own. Jammers Nightclub was fun, and quite busy some nights, especially after the formal parties. Disembarkation was very quick and efficient. We had perfect weather, and smooth seas for the entire cruise, wonderful service throughout, and a very enjoyable social life while on board, all of which added up to a great cruise holiday. Read Less
Sail Date November 2011
Pacific Pearl cruise P131 Sydney October 9 - 20. 'Pacific Sunsets' - 5 Ports: Vanuatu - Luganville, Wala, Champagne Bay, Port Vila; New Caledonia - Lifou. Travel to Sydney was easy via private vehicle and the parking ... Read More
Pacific Pearl cruise P131 Sydney October 9 - 20. 'Pacific Sunsets' - 5 Ports: Vanuatu - Luganville, Wala, Champagne Bay, Port Vila; New Caledonia - Lifou. Travel to Sydney was easy via private vehicle and the parking arrangements at Darling Harbour for the cruises are easy to deal with, with no cost. Embarkation process was fairly easy and painless, and seemed to go smoothly. Given that our cabin was on deck 5 midships near the Atrium we also easily located it, and subsequently had a smooth trip (mostly). The first three 'sea days' were quite smooth, as were the subsequent sailings to the ports. There was then about a day and a half of rough swell, I estimated at times up to about 8 metres, with what I would describe as about a constant 5 metre swell, thankfully not too many actual waves. The sick bags were put out and at times many people appeared to be in their cabins (based on the lack of people seen). This being my families second cruise we prepared for it this time, by taking medication as a preventative measure, and no doubt the fact our cabin was in a fairly central location helped as well. Our precautions and cabin selection certainly seemed to save us the hassle and pain experienced two years ago (granted, first cruise) of our son getting a needle. No such problems this time. I definitely recommend going for a mid level and midship type window cabin as a minimum. The 'stateroom' for the three of us (Mum, dad, child) seemed spacious enough and there was loads of drawer space for the too many clothes we took with us. I would say however, that in regard to being 'refitted' the extent of that in the cabins is likely only the flat screen Tv's. Further evidence of this was discovered on a search one day when we thought we had misplaced a piece of clothing, and subsequent pulling out of a drawer found items of clothing not belonging to us, along with photographs of people from a 2008 cruise on Ocean Village (Pearl's previous name). We have decided to try and find the people ourselves (perhaps with this websites help) through the internet. Our cabin steward was friendly and kept the cabin clean and tidy, with a good supply of towels and had the uncanny knack of hardly being seen, but tidying up as needed (even when we had the occasional sleep in). Others had some issues with their cabins, and there appeared to be more than one location on the ship where toilets had overflowed in cabins, with blowers seen in halls and from what was heard carpets replaced, but no major gripes heard in regard to this. The placement of public access toilets seems to need some work, or at least some co-ordination of the cleaning schedules, with many occasions finding a toilet being cleaned, directed to another level and that one also being cleaned (for us being midship, often quicker and easier to go to our own cabin). Not too many breakdowns of the public toilet system, though most are probably caused by persons putting items down them that they shouldn't, of course depending on where a breakdown happens it can affect cabins as well (obviously a system that needs some work). For us personally though, no real dramas with access to facilities. Kids club. Our son was in Turtle Cove, with friends also having children in Turtle Cove and Shark Shack. All of the kids known to us (7 in all) always wanted to go, and were by no means 'dumped' by the parents involved. With the ability to be able to authorise friends to drop off and pick up, along with older kids (8 and over) being able to be given sign in/out privileges (up to a certain time) the process wasn't too painful. Though the entrance to/from is fairly narrow and bottle necks occurred at times when group 'non sign in' activities had finished and the club was re-opened with the subsequent rush creating a bottleneck. Though there seemed to be no issues with a laid back bunch on this cruise. The kids seemed to like the activities, and for those that didn't want to do them, there were PlayStation's and the like. There were activities advertised for shark shack to play playstation up on the big screen on Deck 12, but apparently only a few were selected for this, which no doubt may cause dramas for some parents with certain types of children, though no major issues were heard on this cruise. Activities/Entertainment. Activities generally seemed okay, particularly for those of us into trivia (apart from the 65 cruise 'veterans' who new all of the recycled questions, but were beaten a few times). Though given the presence of children and teenagers many 'adult' type comedy shows and the like were on late, which for those of us with children meant at times missing out. I did hear some complaints of others about the lack of activities, and perhaps for those that don't like trivia, bingo or a lecture on quilling, activities would be lacking. The entertainment such as the singer/dancers put on a good show, as did the comedian. The magician/illusionist was excellent, but unfortunately was only on for one show. The 'Marquee' where shows are held has seating and sight issues that should probably be addressed. The cruise director Zoltina-J (apparently the only Australian crew member on board) was vivacious and outgoing, with an exceptional assistant director Willie, ably assisted by Gareth. The 'entertainment team' was apparently down on two members but still managed to run the activities with assistance of dance crew members. Outside activities may have suffered due to the missing two members. Dining. Plantation. The plantation is the buffet and we used it at all times for breakfast, sometimes for lunch, and never at dinner time. The breakfast selection seemed to leave very little for anyone to complain about and we had no complaints in regard to the variety on offer, with Soy milk available on request, and full cream and skim always on hand in jugs. The cutlery, trays and plates were always initially issued by a crew member and all people entering Plantation and Waterfront had to use sanitizer (a good thing upon seeing some not washing hands in rest rooms). The lunch service generally had a good selection, but the drink service left a lot to be desired. On more than one occasion it was quicker to go out onto deck 12 to the bar or a cart to order a drink and bring it back in, than wait for the at times non existent waiter to come and take drink orders. We took a few lunches in the Waterfront Restaurant and the drink service was bordering on appalling. At times, it would take 20 minutes or more just to place an initial order, and if you had managed to order and receive an initially drink, you could just about forget on ordering a second one later. There seemed to be a distinct lack of drink waiters on the lunch service, luckily they always filled up the glasses on the table with water, or you would have gone thirsty. At dinner service, ourselves and friends had the same table each night and our waiter did an admirable job along with his assistant. I say admirable as when he was with us he was very attentive, particularly to the children, but appeared rushed. A cake was also organised by him for one of the children in our group who had a birthday on board. I believe they may have been down on wait staff as well. The meals seemed generally good, but temperature was at times an issue, as was timing of entrees and mains, and I found the dessert selection disappointing. My wife requested in advance lactose free meals and this was accommodated, even on an evening when she indicated that the menu the next day had nothing to appeal, our waiter had the food and beverage supervisor approach us and organised for specific meals for my wife. We were quite happy just to go to the buffet, and certainly made no fuss about it, but they went above and beyond in providing a special meal the next night, with the supervisor coming by to check. That was exceptional service. The drink service again suffered in the Waterfront, but was not quite as bad as the lunch service. The staff and supervisors all seemed to do good jobs, and likely just a bit of tweaking is needed to improve drink service. I suspect that staff numbers is likely an issue. Other. Photographs. Overpriced. The photographs taken by the onboard photographers were overpriced, and at times poorly taken (eyes closed, come on!!). Worse still, even after people had gathered all of their photos behind one (thus saving space) and were considering possible purchase, they were all thrown out without warning, signs were then put up after the fact requesting that unwanted photos be handed in. Personally didn't do shopping on board, but I was reliably informed that everything is overpriced. Better to shop at ports (Vila) for genuine duty free. . Ports. The tender service to Wala, Champagne bay and the like was well run, a vast improvement on our Pacific Dawn experience two years ago. I would caution the value of P & O run shore excursions. Took one in Luganville, and the van was un air conditioned with vinyl seats (advertised as A/C), luckily being from a hot weather area not too much of a concern for us, but others would have issues. The 'free' walking tour (donations requested) we took on wala seemed like better value than the paid trip at luganville, with more tribes people involved and more activities shown. The water at all ports was beautifuly clear, but unfortunately a few of us got some rashes from the Champagne Bay visit, which was likely down to sea lice of sorts, not too bad though and lasted only a day or so. Vila is the place (in Vanuatu) to save any duty free shopping for. All ports on the cruise accepted Australian currency, and given we were in Vila on a Sunday we still had quite a few shops to look at, a long with self organised tours. Some may find the touting of the local taxi drivers at the port confronting, but our group of seven managed to get a good air conditioned van with a good driver for the day for a good price. Vila is a place my family and I intend to return to. Disembarkation was well organised and painless. In summary, I would say that as long as someone isn't expecting a 5 star experience, then P & O offer value for money. If someone goes on board ready to pick nits, they'll find issues, but if you go on in holiday mode and go with the flow, it's a good experience. Even those of us laid back and relaxed, notice things like poor drink service, but even then you generally manage to live with it. The ship had some creaks and groans when in the rough seas, and the cabins certainly haven't been refurbished, but I would say that for a family after a value for money experience, you can't go much wrong with P & O Australia. Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
The 28 day Sapphire Princess cruise from LA to the South Seas ran the gamut of service and enjoyment. THE EXCELLENT: Our mini-suite and our steward, Dionie. We had an AA mini-suite that more than fulfilled our needs and comfort and it ... Read More
The 28 day Sapphire Princess cruise from LA to the South Seas ran the gamut of service and enjoyment. THE EXCELLENT: Our mini-suite and our steward, Dionie. We had an AA mini-suite that more than fulfilled our needs and comfort and it was always serviced in a timely manner. Our waiter (waitress) Amyout was the best we've ever had in 35 years of cruising. An amazing lady. Our assistant waiter, Jeronimo, was excellent as well. The folks serving at the Savoy coffee bar were also at this level. Most of the staff on board was in this category (with exceptions to be named later) as they always were friendly and helpful. Most of our fellow cruisers also fell into this category. THE GOOD: The food was good to adequate. Nothing really exceptional but nothing awful, either. The ports were good to excellent but it would have been nice to be in the S. Pacific islands (not Hawaii) longer. I would rate the entire cruise experience as GOOD. THE BAD: Poor planning regarding Captain's Circle events. The CC party was 2,000 fellow Gold and Elite and Plat. cruisers wedged into the atrium for what? Maybe a watered down drink if you were "lucky" enough to snag one. Poor planning regarding activities on the 8 day voyage returning to LA. In some cases, the most interesting events were planned at the same time. The inability to get into the theater or Wheelhouse Bar to see the "entertainment." If you didn't get a seat and hour or more before the show, you didn't get one. The entertainment was stretched to the limit and most of the entertainers were repeaters that most of us had seen on other Princess cruises. The daily Patter was mainly advertisements for overpriced on board "sales" and services. It never listed the specialty buffets on Deck 14 held every other day or so. The only way one found out about them was to happen upon them. The Patter also tried to convey the message that there were limited taxis and transportation available in the Samoan Islands and Moorea trying to get passengers to book the ship's tours. However, there were always many, many taxis and private tour buses waiting at each port. I would imagine the Cruise Director is responsible for all of this so I guess I'd have to rate him "Bad." Noon announcements from the Bridge were given by a person with a very, very strong accent that made them completely unintelligible. Being from a bi-lingual family, I have complete empathy for his problem but the announcements were useless because of this. Two of my table mates asked me, quite seriously, if he was speaking English. THE UGLY: The Future Cruise person was the rudest, most sarcastic, most snide and unfriendly cruise line employee of any category that I have ever encountered. At a very large Cruise Critic Meet and Greet she was at her worst--and she told us she didn't care if we liked her or her methods or not because she "had a very good pension she could retire on" at that moment and nothing was lost according to her. In another instance I was dropping off my future cruise paper in the proper box (I wouldn't talk to her) and I heard her comment to a passenger as she was writing down her name, "I don't know how to spell it and, frankly, I don't care." She was unbelievable. OVERALL: My wife and I did have a good time on the cruise. We're into relaxing and taking it easy and so down time is important to us. On a trip of this length, there's lots of that. Our room steward made us comfortable in our cabin and our waitress made us comfortable at dinner and we met lots of great people and saw some beautiful islands--and it was a cruise out of LA, and that's important to us. The tours were adequate and, as usual, over priced but we knew that going in. So much of what takes place on a cruise is open to many levels of criticism depending on the individual. Would we take this particular cruise again? Probably not. However we will take Princess again and already have a 20 day Caribbean cruise on Emerald Princess booked for March of next year. Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
Background: We're 60 year old Australians with only 8 previous cruises with which to compare. This cruise was offered to us by email 3 weeks prior at a great last minute price. Back in the 80's & 90's we had cruised ... Read More
Background: We're 60 year old Australians with only 8 previous cruises with which to compare. This cruise was offered to us by email 3 weeks prior at a great last minute price. Back in the 80's & 90's we had cruised to some of these islands. Embarkation: This is the first cruise to which we didn't have to fly as we live near Brisbane. The shuttle service offered by the nearby car storage was efficient. Embarkation went smoothly with lines moving quickly. The wait for your number to be called was reasonable considering we were early. Once on board, we were directed to our cabin where we left our hand luggage and went exploring, followed by lunch. The ship left on time at 2 pm. One of our suitcases took until late afternoon to appear. The Ship: Built in 1991 this ship was showing its age but the recent refurbishment helped it feel modern. Public areas were nicer than we expected. As it was originally the Regal Princess there was similarities to that line. There was some rough weather on this cruise with some seasickness experienced by other passengers. Perhaps a more modern ship would have handled the waves better. Cabin: Our ocean-view cabin was very pleasing and surprisingly large. With the bed head on the side wall the window view was quite good. The bed was comfortable with 4 pillows supplied. This was the first time our suitcases couldn't fit under the bed but there was a space on both sides of the window behind the curtain where we could stow them. We liked the open style walk-in type robe which had good hanging space. The shower was a generous size. One of the things changed during the refurbishment were new flat-screen TVs (a bit small). The small fridge was handy for keeping our supply of Coke & snacks cold. Our only disappointment was that the floor had obviously not been vacuumed and the plug was jammed fast in the basin. When we pointed this out to our cabin steward he apologised profusely and immediately rectified the problems. He seemed very efficient at his job. Food & drinks: Overall we found the service in the main dining room (Palm Court) to be fine but the standard of food was inferior ' maybe they were hoping more people would use the extra-charge restaurants (which we didn't use). There was a noticeable lack of seafood other than fish ' not even the usual prawn cocktails (as my DW is not a seafood lover she was happy with the quality). We were pleased with being able to choose side vegetables on the menu. Although you were supposed to book each night for dinner, we sat with a lovely couple from our Cruise Critic roll call and they were able to organise the same table and dining time for the whole cruise. It is relaxing having the same dinner companions and the same dining room staff got to know our preferences. After experiencing the long lines at the buffet (Caf' Del Sol) the first morning, we used the MRD for breakfast every other morning. The food seemed better and the atmosphere more relaxing for breakfast. We did use the buffet for lunch but wished there were separate food stations as on other ships ' trays are still supplied. Some times the line stretched almost out the door! There were rolls and French fries available outside on the deck. Food at the buffet is not available 24/7 as on Princess ships and the times varied between sea and port days. Disappointedly burgers, prawns and ice-cream were only available for a price (except vanilla ice-cream was available in the MRD at night). The only exception was on the last day at lunch when prawns were offered at the buffet ' maybe they hadn't sold enough! Coffee and tea was available 24/7 but there were no cookies at any time ' except by buying them from the coffee shop! Also we missed the freshly made waffles for breakfast offered on some other ships. There was no drink packages offered ' a can of soft drink was expensive at $2.75. Wine choices and price were similar to other cruise lines. Room service was $3 for delivery. We were pleased to see hand-sanitizers at MRD and the buffet. Also the public toilets had the main door open and/or paper towels supplied to open them. Staff and service on board: Generally the staff were friendly and polite. The service was as expected for a 3 star ship. Entertainment: We enjoyed the shows in the main theatre as we have done on other cruises. These are the highlight of our evening. The lighting and costumes in the production shows were spectacular and the performers on the stage worked hard to entertain. The other entertainers were good as was the Cruise director. Also in the atrium on 2 nights an acrobatic group from Columbia performed - they were just amazing. This was viewable from three decks with the only downsize was the lack of seating provided. The program of activities from which to choose was fine. Some of our highlights were the humorous culinary demonstration in the theatre & the passenger singing competition. We did miss not having the informative enrichment lectures offered my other lines. At the open games/card venue offered by the ship, we found 3 lovely passengers with whom we played cards every day. Shore Excursions & Destinations: We normally try to avoid shore excursions organised by ships as we feel that they were too expensive. On this cruise we were happy to do our own thing. Armed with maps & information collected before the cruise, we easily explored ourselves. Three of the 4 ports required using tenders and the delays with these were reasonable. As the weather was very wet at the 1st port, Isle of Pines (and we'd been there before), we stayed on the ship. At the next, Mystery Island we walked around the island and snorkelled. The 3rd stop was Port Villa, the only docking port where we did our own walking tour followed by shopping ' duty-free alcohol was the only thing cheap there (e.g. 2L bottle of Jim Beam for $20). The last port, Lifou Isle was disappointing as the lovely snorkelling beach (Jinek Bay) was difficult to access as the steps were washed away last year and still not replaced ' don't forget they're on island time!. The only means of accessing the beach was by a primitive ladder that had slippery and widely spaced rungs. My DW did not want to risk it. Disembarkation: Being one of the last groups to leave the ship, we were delayed way past the scheduled time of departure. Maybe disembarkation was delayed by customs. Anyway, we weren't in any rush as we only had to collect our car from storage and drive home. Conclusion: As we paid $72 each per day for an ocean-view cabin which is less than half the usual promoted special price for this cruise, we certainly had value for money. Anyone paying the usual price may have felt different. This is only rated a 3 star ship by P&O and as such is not to the usual standard of Princess or Holland America which are owned by the same company, Carnival Corporation. Australians are a bit of a captive segment as until recently P&O had no competition here. In the present economic climate this has changed but Carnival still requires Australians to book through the local agent thus missing out on discounts offered to Americans. Also P&O doesn't have a loyalty program like its sisters' lines. Being retired we could take advantage of the late special. Anyone with children would need to book early as there were 300 children on this cruise and it wasn't school holidays! In our opinion the ship, service and entertainment are generally satisfactory but the quality of the food could have improved for seafood lovers. We would recommend P&O at the right price and would sail again with them. Read Less
Sail Date September 2011

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