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181 Sydney (Australia) to South Pacific Cruise Reviews

I did not enjoy this experience. Over crowded, badly organised from the beginning. Our first thing was the master. We had to stand around waiting for so long some of the elderly were starting to get ill. Then our first meal in the Gold ... Read More
I did not enjoy this experience. Over crowded, badly organised from the beginning. Our first thing was the master. We had to stand around waiting for so long some of the elderly were starting to get ill. Then our first meal in the Gold Pearl, was a disaster, giving us food we didn’t order. A storm meant we missed out on Port Arthur so we were in Hobart for two days. I thought they could have given us a free trip, via bus to Port Arthur, but know it was very costly. They is so much waste, food is left everywhere, I saw pizza crusts in the lift a couple of days. So many bogans on board. They should refuse service. Too cold to swim, activities lame, bingo, trivia? Beds so uncomfortable, soft foam. Piano bar only good entertainment, but be early limited seats. Steward, Guntur was the only good thing Read Less
Sail Date February 2020
We wanted to go Ovation to try it and compare. We have been RCI since 2010 and are Diamond (80 pts) later this year. Maybe. We are Platinum with Princess. We first cruised though in 1970-72. I think reviews need to have 1) a valid ... Read More
We wanted to go Ovation to try it and compare. We have been RCI since 2010 and are Diamond (80 pts) later this year. Maybe. We are Platinum with Princess. We first cruised though in 1970-72. I think reviews need to have 1) a valid comparison with other ships & 2) whether they write as a family/kids, Teens or older.......... like us. But what a disappointment...........BUT We did like the Solarium Bistro (but NO menu change at all means 3 items !!) Solarium pool under glass with bar. The rear deck on the (Cafeteria>Windjammer Restaurant.) Generally, liked the staff. Food delvery to room @ $8 US is very reasonable. I'd imagine that kids and family would like the pools, air bubble, wave rider.Dodgem cars. The usual RCI and outstanding nine piece orchestra and that rare opportunity to listen to a tight band..............thought long gone =================================== What I didn't like............ * The ship is too big. * The inside Promenade feels 1/3 the size of Explorer/Voyager class. * Shops feel smaller & most less interesting. * The pub has no Promenade seating.Its inside the pub. * Captains Promenade talk/location is not a match (Voyager class & others). * Smaller rooms maybe designed so that a large ship seems more personal but it fails. * Two level Music Hall appears under utilised for music. * This is the first time I've avoided the main dining room. Flat roof and lacking in any personality compared to other ships. * Entertainment falls short of the high standard usually on other ships but has its moments in the Theatre. * Drinks (forgetting packages) $8-10 US (say $30A for two people) for wine Mixed spirits (s Comfort &coke) abt $10 ea Cocktails- $14US ea = $28Us for two......Say $45Aust for two !! Sickness on board cruise ships still an issue although the staff try hard. Read Less
Sail Date February 2020
My 4 day cruise to Morton islands leaving sydney the 6th Feb.The service in the restaurants was great and the food but that's where it stops, too many bogans swearing and drunken people. The dress code was poor and not much ... Read More
My 4 day cruise to Morton islands leaving sydney the 6th Feb.The service in the restaurants was great and the food but that's where it stops, too many bogans swearing and drunken people. The dress code was poor and not much entertaiment during the day and found the staff not happy compared to the P& O staff. There was no control over handwashing at the buffet and before you enter the boarding on ship, the toilets are filthy and no paper towels and some hand dryers not working. I've taken 45 cruises and it's hard not to compare but this particular ship is poor compare to the carnival spirit. The cleaning of the inside lifts can be upgrade too many drinks dropped on the floor and tables not cleaned. The spa not always open at the spa & beauty place on deck 11 due to water spilling over to the corridor, the steam room dirty and some of the heat beds not working but on a good side they did refund my money. Thumbs down on this particular ship and will stick to Royal Caribbean & P&O , Princess Read Less
Sail Date February 2020
My wife and I choose our cruises based on their destinations and have cruised since 1983 on many RCCL ships, as well as other cruise lines. The Radiance class are my favorite sized ships and the Serenade of the Seas is my favorite in this ... Read More
My wife and I choose our cruises based on their destinations and have cruised since 1983 on many RCCL ships, as well as other cruise lines. The Radiance class are my favorite sized ships and the Serenade of the Seas is my favorite in this RCCL class. We had cruised on Explorer of the Seas a few years ago and thought that the Voyager wouldn't be any worse. I was badly mistaken. We booked this 14 day South Seas Island cruise and a back to back 6 night cruise to Tasmania a year ago. We have diamond status with RCCL so we get expedited embarkation which was excellent. When we entered the passageway on deck six heading for our stateroom, we couldn't help but notice that the carpeting was wet and the space smelled of sewerage and sewer gas. The crew worked daily to address the foul smell issue. When we got to our inside room we found that the Voyager had decreased the size of the room and took away the coffee table and reduced the closet storage. To get into bed we had to crawl from the foot because there was no room between the TV and side of the bed. IKedek was our room attendant and he was Johnny on the spot, wonderful! We had a late dinner seating on deck 5. We always request large table so we can meet people from other parts of the globe over dinner and get their perspectives on world events. My wife and I are in our early mid 70's. The first night two young Australian women Adele and Rebecca were seated with us and then on the second night Mel (Melinda) and Tim joined the group. These young people were absolutely delightful. They were all excellent ambassadors for Australia. Our head waiter was IPutu. He was great and made his part of the dining experience wonderful. The food was good but the menu is repeated and becomes very boring. On previous cruises we always enjoyed attending the enhancement lectures by very interesting people from Gerry Lynch a recently retired Assistant Director of the Royal Canadian Mountain Police, Erving a professor from Luther College in Iowa who gave excellent lectures on various pirates from the Caribbean to Europe and a former National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration director who gave interesting talks on our seas and sea life. No such luck on our last 20 days of cruising on Voyager of the Seas. No remarkable enhancement lectures on this ship. I can't comment on the entertainment because of my hearing impairment and the electronic headset that I checked out from guest services just gave me crackling feedback. The fitness center had good equipment but it was so small that people had to line up and wait a long time to access it. The hot tubs were cold on all but two or three days. Hot tubs provide a good place to meet people from around the world. Conversations in the hot tubs were mostly how disappointingly cold they were. The on board experience was miserable. The Voyager is one big noise center which is miserable. The Promenade is noisy and should be avoided unless you like to rummage through tawdry over priced sale items and listen to undifferentiated noise. I'm a US Marine combat veteran and have always enjoyed the veteran meet and greets where we get to talk to veterans from other countries, some allies and some former enemies. We had a few of these on this cruise. They scheduled these meetings at the promenade bar Pig and Whistle during the nosiest times of the day. After the Australians complained they moved it to deck 11at the High Note which was a little less loud with no seating. Being Diamond Club members we have a happy hour from 4:30 (1630) to 8:00 (2000) where we theoretically could meet and talk with other long term cruisers. Unfortunately, RCCL moved the club to a very small room as the number of members increased. There was no seating. The Voyager of the Seas Diamond Club is a horrible place. However, the bar tenders were excellent and worked diligently under adverse conditions to make up for the very poor conditions of the club. The library or what the RCCL calls a library does not have many books and this hold true throughout this cruise line. On the Voyager they combine a small library with a game room where people who are playing games are having fun making noise. That is good for game players but poor for readers. We went on five RCCL sponsored Shore Excursions. The excursion at New Caladonia was good, one of the two excursions on Fiji was very good the other was good. The Tasmanian excursion was fair as we couldn't understand the guide. The bus tour in Melbourne Australia was also good. All in all, our experience on Voyager of the Seas was very disappointing. RCCL just crowds too many people is too small of a space. Many of the couples we met in the Diamond Club stated they would not cruise on the Voyager again. For my wife and me, this is our first and last cruise on the Voyager of the Seas. Read Less
Sail Date February 2020
Ship-Voyager is a good size ship, but with the renovations, they have reduced public space for more cabins. Too many people squeezed into smaller areas. Even though it was recently refurbished, it is showing its age. Very noisy in certain ... Read More
Ship-Voyager is a good size ship, but with the renovations, they have reduced public space for more cabins. Too many people squeezed into smaller areas. Even though it was recently refurbished, it is showing its age. Very noisy in certain areas like the promenade, Schooners, Windjammer, and the library. Cabin(inside) was normal, except access to the bed was difficult on the TV side due to the bed touching the dresser. had to step over edge of bed. Dangerous at night if you have to get up. We had them separate the beds so it was open in the middle. Dinning- Windjammer too crowded. Limited seating. Food average, but good variety most days.Main dining- food was a good to very good most nights.We had MY time for 7:00, but we had to line up on Deck 3. They opened at 6:45 to MY Time, and frequently, early seating diners at 5:00 were still inside. Very slow and confusing. Even though we had the same time every night, we were put in different sections with different waiters most e very night. We did have the same waiter the last 4 nights. We purchased a 3 nite Specialty Diner Pkg. The Italian restaurant was good and the first trip to Chops was good. Out in 1 1/2 hrs. 2nd visit was a disaster. Worst dining experience EVER! Was there 2 1/2 hrs. and still hadn't got our deserts. 20-30 minutes between courses. Service very slow. After salad, waited 30 min. for 9oz filet. It was very mushy and had no taste whatsoever. After several bites, I informed the server that I could not eat it. She apologized and said they were having so problems that night. Offered another steak, but I declined. There was not a Manager around to complain too that night, but I did speak to an Officer about it the next day. I have no desire to return to Chops. On the last night of the cruise, the Maitre D gavemy wife and I a glass of champagne, without an explanation. Later I asked him why, and he said it was Because of my experience in Chops. Weird. Entertainment was good most of the time, but they scheduled some of the best on ship entertainers off on the same evenings, like in the Pub and the Schooner. Weird! Service was good to very good. Great room steward. Ports- this was the cruise that had to change about 3 Ports of call due to the Virus. It was very disappointing and many guests were upset. We understood, however and made the most of it. We did not receive any compensation, but did get a refund for RC shore excursions that were cancelled. Debarkation was a real Cluster. Ship was held up for clearance until after 8:00. We were told to go to the Tavern for a 7:30 departure on a bus transfer to airport. Speaker in the Tavern was not working and we did not hear any announcements to leave. Once we could leave, everyone was trying to get off, regardless of their time. We missed our transfer, but were put on a later one. We got to the gate at the airport as they were loading the plane for the flight to L.A. One last comment- RC needs to seriously consider a non smoking policy. IT's time! The smoking areas on 11 were very large. The entire pool area smelled of smoke. hard to avoid. many children around. They had it located between the ice cream and pool exchange areas, with a portable bar in the middle. Really? Read Less
Sail Date February 2020
Cabin and staff are fine. Entertainment apart from main shows is third rate. Food is bland and cheap. THIS IS A PROFIT DRIVEN SHIP AT THE COST OF QUALITY. Entertainment Staff appear to go through the motions and do the minimum ... Read More
Cabin and staff are fine. Entertainment apart from main shows is third rate. Food is bland and cheap. THIS IS A PROFIT DRIVEN SHIP AT THE COST OF QUALITY. Entertainment Staff appear to go through the motions and do the minimum that is required. i think i spotted the cruise director once off stage, that was when he was recording in his private studio (Live) That was a joke Ship entertainment is equal to a Thai karaoke bar. There is no specific late night club, the ship is well equipped but badly used. The Pacific is a beautiful area we do not need to visit the rectum of the pacific. Please do not visit container ports, we are not goods for trade, i know you like to think of us so Rear cabin balconies are fouled by soot from burning cheap low grade fuel. Save the waves are you joking?? COME ON PRINCESS YOU CAN DO BETTER THAN THIS AT WHAT YOU CHARGE! Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
Cruise was below average. Not worth the money we paid for. We were around 10 families with 17 room and the experience was very bad 1- the room door was broken 2- the food quality was terrible and not much varieties 3- customer ... Read More
Cruise was below average. Not worth the money we paid for. We were around 10 families with 17 room and the experience was very bad 1- the room door was broken 2- the food quality was terrible and not much varieties 3- customer service in the Lido restaurant was very bad 4- very crowded, you have to line up for everything 5- 2 Small pools and 4 tiny spas for 3000 ppl are definitely not enough. 6- you have to pay for the spa, sauna and steam room. 7- only one good show for the entire trip 8- our date of birth were stored wrong and went to fix and still weren’t fixed for all of us so I had to go again. 9- carnival hub wasn’t working probably we had to do few trips to guest service to make it work. Photos are away too expensive. Unfortunately I don’t recommend it to anyone. Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
What was to be a celebration of our birthdays turned out to be the worse cruise we ever sailed with Princess! We are platinum members and have never experienced such rude and brusque attitudes from crew members from all of our travels! ... Read More
What was to be a celebration of our birthdays turned out to be the worse cruise we ever sailed with Princess! We are platinum members and have never experienced such rude and brusque attitudes from crew members from all of our travels! From a RUDE Maitre'd---who made me cry and kept walking by looking at me and never attempted to address the situation, to rudely being awoken at 5am with hammering on steel outside our porthole window to tour desk members telling us "You should expect to interact with nature" when we were upset about finding out our tour was shared with POISONOUS SEA SNAKES!! Going to the service desk was a JOKE with the response being "I'll make a note of that" and they were not even typing or writing anything down---- which meant, We don't care what you experienced, just go away! We also paid an exorbitant amount for the soda package each and it was like PULLING TEETH trying to get a soda drink in the formal dining room and when you did finally get it---- it was in the tiniest glass!! Then you had to wait another 30 minutes to get another soda! Mind you, we had paid over $300 per person for this FRUSTRATING privilege! One evening in the formal dining room we were seated and 5 minutes later, a couple was seated at a table next to us. They ordered, ate, had mixed drinks, coffee and dessert all before our dinner plates were even cleared away!! I ordered a caffe mocha to go with my dessert, dessert came..... I waited....and waited.....and finally got up and left the dining room in FRUSTRATION!! We also did not receive the birthday celebration in the formal dining room like we have on previous cruises but by the end of the cruise, we didn't want to be in the formal dining room. Frankly, we don't know if we're going to sail with Princess ever again due to this horrible behavior! Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
Overall, it was a great cruise, probably one of the friendliest crew we have ever experienced. Positives: 1. Great crew. Very friendly especially at all the bars. 2. Very comfortable bed. 3. Free room service, very decent ... Read More
Overall, it was a great cruise, probably one of the friendliest crew we have ever experienced. Positives: 1. Great crew. Very friendly especially at all the bars. 2. Very comfortable bed. 3. Free room service, very decent menu and you now order through the TV. Very timely service. 4. Great variety of entertainment. 5 very smooth and efficient embarkation and disembarkation. Negatives 1. This is a big one, the food was okay to terrible. In the main dining room, the food was inconsistent as was the service. Some meals were good, others not so much. The issue was the quality of the food and the inconsistency. The food at the buffet was simply terrible. No variety, very poor quality (mostly Ragus and stews = leftovers). There was literally nothing made fresh for you at the buffet no matter what time of day. We attempted twice to get an omelette on three occasions but they give you a number and promise to deliver at your table. It never made on either occasion. We spoke to people about this and it was a general comment. We enjoy getting dressed up for dinner and going to the main dining room, but most times, it was simply frustrating. We are at Share once and it was terrible. 6 courses served in 45 minutes despite our constant requests to slow things down. The main meal, pork chop for two was dry and tasteless. We also tried the Crown Grill and it was amazing. One of the nest steaks I have ever had anywhere. Highly recommend it. 2. The drink package. We purchased the drink package know king that it was limited to 15 drinks. The issue is that you can now track your drinks on the medallion app and every single day we were seeing drinks being added to our total that we did not order. At one point I was at 7 then I ordered a drink and I was told that I was past my 15 and would have to pay. Whether the drinks were added on purpose or by accident I cannot say, but it was a general issue that many were complaining about. When I went to customer service they said that they didn’t have that information (I had more info on my app than they did on their system?) and could do nothing for me. There was no mechanism for correction. This whole counting business is ridiculous. Some days you have more, some days you have less. Overall, If I had to redo the cruise, I would chose another cruise line with a similar itinerary. The food and service in the main dining room was that bad. We had taken a cruise with Princess before and the food was good, so I’m not sure if it was a Ruby or the quality of food on the entire cruise line is found down. Either way I wouldn’t take a chance with Princess again. This is the first time that I was ready to get off a cruise ship and leave when it ended Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
We are loyal RC cruisers with 12 cruises under our belt and are Diamond Plus members. In 2019 we decided to try out Celebrity and were very much looking forward to going back to an enjoyable RC cruise again. We had been on the Voyager ... Read More
We are loyal RC cruisers with 12 cruises under our belt and are Diamond Plus members. In 2019 we decided to try out Celebrity and were very much looking forward to going back to an enjoyable RC cruise again. We had been on the Voyager twice before. Nothing could have prepared us for what was ahead. Our embarkation was very smooth and very excited to have some lunch before going to our Junior Suite. It was all downhill from there... We could not find anywhere to sit in the Windjammer so went to the Dining room to book My Time Dining for dinner only to find that we were moved to Deck 3 instead of Deck 5 as there are too many my time diners to cater for. Then we find that the Diamond Lounge had moved to a small room on Deck 5 with a porthole looking out on a lifeboat from a previously spacious room with views on Deck 14 which is now reserved for guests who PAY their way into it by buying a Suite. Not to mention that the popular Johnny Rockets has been eliminated to make way for "extra cabins" (ie: more money) which means more people crowded into Windjammer!!! There is now no point in being loyal to RC because they have removed the benefits. RC has now made it possible to buy your way in without being loyal!! The Ship, Cabin, Dining, Entertainment, Service, Ports and Shore Excursions are still the same, they are good, although the activities have plenty of room for improvement now. We are empty nesters and don't find children a problem when we cruise as the children's program appears to be very good. We are not sure what to do about our next cruise. Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
Let me start by saying this is our 8th cruise and normally love it so I'm not just picking holes. We Loved the Carnival Spirit so decided to go on the latest Carnival Australia Ship the Splendor. The Ship has been in dry dock for a ... Read More
Let me start by saying this is our 8th cruise and normally love it so I'm not just picking holes. We Loved the Carnival Spirit so decided to go on the latest Carnival Australia Ship the Splendor. The Ship has been in dry dock for a refit unfortunately looks like they never got anywhere near finishing it, Painting in ganways and public areas was a daily event as well as power tools and hammering . bar staff just poor the ingredients of you drink in the glass and serve it without stirring and the look you get if you ask it to be mixed, as straws are no longer provided the first sip is lemonade the next is vodka or whatever it happens to be. The lido restaurant is soooo busy and the food is generally cold and unappetizing with the exception of the Mongolian, the cafe and the indian and of course the Pizza. one morning my daughter had a pancake so dried out we could have played frisby. the 2 restaurants the golden and black pearl started off pretty well but as more people abandoned the Lido service and the kitchens became overwhelmed and food was coming out with long waits and cold. We had a cloud 9 spa cabin on deck 10 and it is the smallest I have ever had but it was clean, however whenever someone on the corridor used the toilet everyone could smell it (nice). the Spa itself was dirty in fact the windows were so bad you cant see through them, the showers didn't function properly as button are broken. The main pool area is small and has less than 100 tightly crammed sun beds they were all gone very early in the morning . probably the biggest sin is they run out of soft drinks with 3 days left. However the entertainment staff are excellent as is normal for Carnival and the main reason why people travel Carnival. Overall in my opinion this boat is perfect for a caribbean cruise where you only have one sea day in each direction but there is not enough room for the 3000+ people when you have 2 or 3 sea days each way. A point worth making is I wrote to carnival stating a lot of the above and more but there response was along the lines of i'm sorry you didn't like it the staff are new and still training so unlucky. Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
Sailed with friends for their 50th birthday. Our first cruise and I had gone with the thought that it would be like a club on water, I was correct. I was not overly impressed: lines and long wait for most meals, especially the deli, wok ... Read More
Sailed with friends for their 50th birthday. Our first cruise and I had gone with the thought that it would be like a club on water, I was correct. I was not overly impressed: lines and long wait for most meals, especially the deli, wok and Indian. As for getting a poolside seat or pod especially in adult only areha : forget it. The small pools and spas were disappointing and also crowded. Long wait to get off at our ports and on one occasion over an hour wait to get back on the boat. Paid a premium For internet and it rarely worked amd asked for a refund! Entertainment all bar the comedians in punchliner was very average ,reminded my of my daughters dance concerts. Port stops were nice especially isle pines and mare: amazing waters but the rest were nothing too exciting: noumea was a waste of time and the $55 per person ride around the island on a train was a bit Pricey, a balcony room Located on deck 9 in the middle of the boat we paid $5200 for the 2 of us, add about $700 spent on board for port excursions, drinks and some Entertainment like bingo, it worked out to be an expensive time. I’d rather go back to Bali, Vietnam or Thailand for a lot less money amd More freedom in what we do , with no lines and much better food. I’m assuming Cruising is not for me, and I won’t be rushing to do another. Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
The crew staff was great The captain is a rambler and does not till you the truth Food was good but the menu was not extensive changing The ion shore trips are twice the price for the same trip if you pay on board The drinks ... Read More
The crew staff was great The captain is a rambler and does not till you the truth Food was good but the menu was not extensive changing The ion shore trips are twice the price for the same trip if you pay on board The drinks package was a total rip off as are the bar prices $15 for a beer after a 18% tip and exchange rate. The exchange rate the ship gives you is poor All expenses add 18% as a tip that is not share with all crew only senior staff. You have to pay no opt out is given The islands you visit some have deals with the cruise line and they also over charge you at pine island the menu price for a beer is $8.5 but they charged us $12 then later in the day it increased to $15 because they could. The island only has 1 pub you can get to Basically the ship will rip you off all the way through They even floated around for a day so they could make sure we spent on the ship Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
We are Diamond members with RCI, they seem to want to forget about the loyal passengers and only seem interested in Suite passengers. The normal Diamond Lounge has been taken away from Diamond members and given to Suite passengers and ... Read More
We are Diamond members with RCI, they seem to want to forget about the loyal passengers and only seem interested in Suite passengers. The normal Diamond Lounge has been taken away from Diamond members and given to Suite passengers and have been pushed into a pokey 31 seat room near the Star lounge. A lot of the Diamond members had to sit in the Star Lounge. Seems like they will be altering their tier system due to the increase in Diamond members, this monster was created by RCI so we will have to see what they will do. The Diamond Lounge was a social hub where you could catch up each day, but now it may as well be closed. The gym has been moved from the front of the ship to the rear of the ship removing the inside pool and all saunas and steam rooms and reducing the size of the gym. This was a Christmas cruise which was more like the cruise ship that for got Christmas, there was no traditional Christmas dinners which having over 3,500 Australian passengers you would have thought this would be the main menu item. For the first 7 days there was no enforced washing of hands so people would walk straight in without washing their hands and spreading Noro virus to over 400 passengers, after complaining about this, hello they enforced it on the last two days putting two offices at the entry, well done Royal but too little too late. Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
Chose this cruise for a relaxing, quiet Christmas getaway. Could not have been more wrong. Boarding was short sharp and shiny. Stateroom was excellent, but that is where it ends. Parents unleashed an array of noisey, unruley ... Read More
Chose this cruise for a relaxing, quiet Christmas getaway. Could not have been more wrong. Boarding was short sharp and shiny. Stateroom was excellent, but that is where it ends. Parents unleashed an array of noisey, unruley brats on the the entire ship. Hygene supervision at the buffets was non existent, People were handling food with their hands, tasting it and returning it to the trays.YUK!!! Trying to get food from them buffet was was almost like taking your life in your hands. You would think these people had never seen food, judging by the way they pushed and shoved to get to the buffet. The food was was mediocre to say the least. If there was no salt and pepper, there was no flavor. People were active on the ship until early hours of the morning, as to be expected on a holiday. The only thing to eat was from a pizza servery that had a queue arond the ship, as did the other food servery points, but the whole ship closed at 830 pm, except for the casino. The staff are to be commended for their service. They all deserve a pay rise for their outstanding servive to the passengers. the only saving grace on the whole trip. If you plane to go ashore anywhere, dont plan on going far from the ship. Docking is at 8am, getting off will be at around 11am and you jave to be back at 415pm for the last tender. 3,800 people CANT be accommodated in that amount of time. Save money and DONT buy on shore tours on the ship. They will charge you twice as much. Get a local tour when yiu eventually get ashore, only half the price. In conclusion, this ship is promoted as a floating resort. If that were true, facilities such as food and entertainment would be available until after midnight. If it was a resort parents would be held more responsible in maintaining their children. This ship is not a floating resort. It is an over priced floating caravan park. If you are looking for a relaxing getaway, stay away from this ship. Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
We did the same cruise this time last year and are quite experienced cruisers, diamond plus. The ship is still quite attractive. Good points—- The Diamond and Concierge club benefits are still good and both hosts efficient The ... Read More
We did the same cruise this time last year and are quite experienced cruisers, diamond plus. The ship is still quite attractive. Good points—- The Diamond and Concierge club benefits are still good and both hosts efficient The food is acceptable althoughMDR lunches a bit boring. Windjammer probably better for lunch. Breakfasts were good in MDR. The Filipino, Indonesian and Indian staff are great and are the best thing about this cruise line. Bad points—- The internet is slow. The activities and entertainment have gone very far downhill. There were very few headline acts on this or the previous back to back cruise we did to NZ and few were very good. Some nights there were no theatre shows, too many had old production shows which we have seen previously. One night the only show was a Love and Marriage game show. Usually the theatre was sparsely attended. The cruise director was poor, gabbled and spoke too fast. Some of her assistants doing trivia were also difficult to understand. Whether the decline in activities and entertainment were the fault of the CD or the Company cutting costs I know not. Embarkation and Disembarkation were great thanks to ship and Sydney terminal staff. Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
Our group of friends found a good deal for a cruise and not many of us had been on one before so we took a shot at it. We found the rooms to be quite small but very clean and comfortable. Everything looked great at the start - the ship was ... Read More
Our group of friends found a good deal for a cruise and not many of us had been on one before so we took a shot at it. We found the rooms to be quite small but very clean and comfortable. Everything looked great at the start - the ship was pretty, seemed to be well kept/maintained, there seemed to be a large selection of food and activities. I'll start with the pros: The cruise offered free shows and entertainment every night. These were absolutely fantastic - singing, dancing, comedy - the production value was great and I thoroughly enjoyed all of them. The entertainers are incredibly talented and the sets and music were beautiful and I highly recommend going to see every show. Apart from the set shows, the live music in the different lounges/public areas was nice. A lot of the activities we were interested in had to be paid for so we didn't do those, except for one show "Love Riot" which was decent. The service on the cruise is stellar - our room stewardess was incredibly kind and helpful, as were all the waiters/waitresses and servers at the restaurants and "the Pantry". They seemed incredibly hard working and underpaid, and were the friendliest people I encountered on the cruise. The ship itself looked nice. As previously mentioned it was clean, well-kept and maintained. Pleasing enough to look at and comfortable enough to hang out in with friends. The rooms were clean, the beds were comfortable and room service was lovely. There are two waterslides on the cruise that were also quite fun. Didn't have to wait long to use them and they were a good length. We visited Moreton island and booked a Snorkelling Tour which was incredible. Definitely recommend that and keen to go snorkelling again. Very quick and easy to replace your cruise card if you lose it. Visit reception, tell them your room number and name, and they print a new one within the minute. Surprisingly no fee either. The cons: Where to begin? Each of us purchased an additional $30 package that led us to believe we would EACH get $50 of on-board credit to spend on the cruise how we liked. That was a lie. We received "$50 of cabin credit". With 2-4 of us in a room, we collectively spent an extra $420 to only receive $200 of "on board" credit. Absolutely ripped off. We spoke to reception about it multiple times to see if it was a mix up, only to be turned away and once even told "the system is down". Fees everywhere, some of them very sneaky and hidden. Large bottles of water in our room which were not free, bathrobe and slippers which were not free, everyone was automatically charged a "$1 donation" which we were not told about (only found out once we checked our accounts). The food is terrible. The main food area (The Pantry) is a cafeteria-style buffet which looked great upon first impression with a wide variety of food. Everything is set up in different sections of cuisine and set out very nicely. That's where the good impressions end though - most of the food was dry, bland and flavourless. Each night we visited a restaurant that required a reservation (The Waterfront, Dragon Lady and Angelo's) and most of the food was disappointing save for a few dishes. Despite the terrible food at The Pantry, we had some hopes for the restaurants only to be disappointed each night. The Waterfront was the best of the three - particularly the "casserole" dish entree which was really good. All the best food on the cruise had to be paid for separately - our group regularly visited Luke's for burgers and fries, and the pizzeria. Not much to do at night and strange rules. Granted, there are parties almost every night however I am not a big party person and prefer quiet nights. Attempted to play ping-pong on the first night only to be told that the ping-pong tables "close at 5pm" (??????). It's not even dark by 5pm - an Australian sunset in December is at 8pm. Pools also close early so no chance for a night swim. On the last night, three friends and I found a quiet area to sit down and talk, only to be told to move to the main outdoor deck. This is more a stab at the other cruise passengers than the cruise itself, but the people there were very loud and rowdy, smoked so much (I was coughing the entire time) and even destroying property - I witnessed people punching down and kicking signs with no consequence. We felt insulted to be told off for talking in a quiet space and then witnessing this idiotic behaviour without a peep from the crew, and eventually decided to retire to a cabin. There is very little mobile reception/service on the cruise (you could buy wifi packages that were pricey). The ship had it's own free wifi where you could access a website to talk with other people on the cruise. This was a nice feature to include however the website design is terrible. Incredibly slow and clunky, I couldn't even read all of my messages because I had so much trouble scrolling up conversations. Terrible UI and design. I'll end the review here. I had a decent time because of the people I was with and the pros I mentioned, however I will not be recommending this cruise to anyone. The cons heavily outweigh the pros and I have a sour taste in my mouth from this experience. I guess that's what you get on a "cheap" cruise. At least I got some cute photos. Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
I wanted to visit the islands in this itinerary after many years, but found that many should not have been included. Nothing to do except have a massage or have your hair braided on the beach. What a waste of port time. The ship is very ... Read More
I wanted to visit the islands in this itinerary after many years, but found that many should not have been included. Nothing to do except have a massage or have your hair braided on the beach. What a waste of port time. The ship is very rusty and for a ship just 11 years old it is poorly maintained. My Premium balcony was rusted all along the top and bottom. I thought the ship has been refurbished but apart from a new flat screen tv and bed with linen and quilt that were too heavy and hot for sleeping, there is no sign of a refurb. Staff were hit and miss. My cabin steward was unfriendly and grumpy most of the time, and the Botticelli waiters only cared for those buying alcohol. Very rude and rushed, they would put down cutlery for the next course while we were still eating the first course, as though to say hurry up we want to finish early. 3000 passengers mostly old and some quite rude is too much for a ship this size so there were crowds all of the time. The buffet became a nightmare because of the crowds and lack of tables. In port we thought there might be more space but it seems many passengers just stayed on board so the buffet became an unpleasant place. I will not be cruising Princess again. After many cruises with them this is the worst and their standards have dropped. All they want is your money and the upselling on board is tiring. The Spa staff would stand around at the elevators trying to sign you up to expensive treatments and the shop staff would have raffles just to entice you in. Never again. Read Less
Sail Date November 2019
What Princess Cruise Lines won’t tell US citizens embarking from Australia. They will try to cheat you! 1. Although you purchase everything in US dollars, your onboard credit you were promised is not in US Dollars anymore, but in ... Read More
What Princess Cruise Lines won’t tell US citizens embarking from Australia. They will try to cheat you! 1. Although you purchase everything in US dollars, your onboard credit you were promised is not in US Dollars anymore, but in AUD. We were jipped! 2. TIP: Usually the tip is mandatory/included in most cruises for US citizens, but you do NOT have to pay the fixed tip for Embarking from Australia(there may be other countries too). They make it seem as if it is mandatory fixed tip, but it is not. We spoke to some Australians who said Princess bully’s US citizens into thinking its mandatory tip, but in fact it’s not. You can personally tip what you want to who you want. We tipped the servers/crew in cash. You have to be persistent when speaking to Guest services to make this change on your account. We spoke to 2 guest services representative & they kept saying the tip is mandatory, but that is NOT true. We were able to change it after speaking to another managing representative. You could definitely choose to have the automatic fixed tip distributed to the crew & that’s your prerogative. I’m just saying you have a choice/option to opt out & it’s not mandatory. You do have to use that “tip” money onboard. It came out to about $400 AUD for the 14 day cruise. I chose to buy other things onboard with that & pay cash tip. Hope this helps. 3. Jinex Bay, Fiji - pay the $15 on the cruise line if you want to snorkel there. We tried to pay it when we got there & they denied us entry. 4. Lougenia, Fiji - (some say this is the most beautiful place in the South Pacific). princess doesn’t have any excursions to this location. when you get off the boat there’s a table that sells the tours around the island if you don’t want to pay an arm & a leg for the Princess Excursions. The lady at this table says there’s no transportation to Lougenia & no taxis. That is false. You will have to ask a few other people away from that table for a taxi to get there. We did not know this & hard lesson learned. Never got to go to Lougenia :(. 5. Service overall was subpar to other cruise lines. We had a great waiter, but everything else was below avg in our opinion. 6. By far the worst food of all cruises we have cruised with. We went with a couple who has gone on over 25 cruises & they agreed the food was horrible. 7. Twin beds don’t even come with fitted sheets. Most of the bedding slides off to the floor & we end up having to remake our bed in the middle of the night. 8. Just learn from our mistake. Don’t go on the Ruby. Read Less
Sail Date November 2019
Although the staff service, especially at the bistro, was excellent, the food after Honolulu became somehow less tasty and with noticeable less variety. Alcohol was stupidly expensive as well as other beverages. The lack of facilities for ... Read More
Although the staff service, especially at the bistro, was excellent, the food after Honolulu became somehow less tasty and with noticeable less variety. Alcohol was stupidly expensive as well as other beverages. The lack of facilities for people with special interests ie Bridge was evident and unforgiven. The disembarkation and embarkation process in Honolulu was as good as for someone who couldn't organise a "root in a brothel". You couldn't have failed any more miserably. The Captain and officer were seen only once other than their "carnavale" (official appearance). However, special mention to Herminio, Dan, Jun, Zsolt, Jeffry, Jugoslav, Nino, Mihailo, Ni Kadek, Veronica, Olena, Angel, Desiree, Lupia and our cabin stewart Loyed. The quality of fruit, especially watermelon, also deteriorated after Honolulu. At one time pears were bruised and scared, rockmelon hard and tasteless "fit for pig" consumption. I don't think I'll choose Princess again not from an Australian port anyway. Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
We needed a break, but without flying half way across the world. We are Kiwis, with about 10 cruises under our belt. We love Princess. Unfortunately, at this time of year, there is only Carnival sailing out of Aussie, we had a break in ... Read More
We needed a break, but without flying half way across the world. We are Kiwis, with about 10 cruises under our belt. We love Princess. Unfortunately, at this time of year, there is only Carnival sailing out of Aussie, we had a break in work pressure, so it was now or 6 months time. We are an extremely middle aged husband and wife. We scored a good two-for-one deal, and we didnt find out until we were about to leave NZ that our balcony had been upgraded to a suite! We were quite excited about that. A quick look on the deck plans showed it was a large suite, over the back of the boat. The first disappointment with Carnival is there lack of info. We couldnt find out what, if any extras you got with a suite. No information on what we could take aboard (bottled water, for instance), alcohol packages, port excursion costs, how to book a set time dining, were toiletries supplied, you know, just basic stuff. We fly to Sydney and eagerly wait the next day. We stayed the night a couple of hundred meters away for the terminal at Circular Quay, so next morning, after a bit of shopping, we head down. We dropped out bags at the bag drop and then went back to the shops, returning a few hours later. We were a bit early from our designated time, but were told as we were suite, we could go straight on (again, would have been good to know, as we were basically mooching round, killing time). Embarkation was the usual, but the worse things were the passengers! I could not belive the amount of people that had to stop and take selfies every few steps! This was not the young either, and why oh why could they not wait until they could step aside and let the queue behind them through??? do you really need five of the walk up to the gang plank, one on the gang plank and one as you put your first foot on the boat?? are you really going to look at these photos again?? So yes, I was the grumpy person that rudely pushed past you. Have some consideration people! We found our floor, then the room. Some better signage would have helped. They could also use Princess's trick of different colour carpet on port and starboard side. It didnt really matter too much to us, as we were along the back, and you could walk right round, but it would have made things a little easier. We found our room, which was a different setup to what we were use to. You walked along a narrow part which had a desk on one side, then to a wider part that had a couch with a chair in front of the couch (really, really surplus to requirement, it just took up room), I assume the couch probably folded out to a bed, but as there were only the two of us, we never found out. The couch was quite comfy. After the desk (with its own chair)there was another table that had the fridge under it. If you sat on the couch, you would be looking at about a 16 inch TV set into about a 26 inch cabinet with another table underneath and a cupboard. No mini bar! In the middle of the cabin was the bathroom, which was a decent size and not too bad a layout. It did have a shower over the spa bath. I would have loved a bath, but it just looked a bit, well, gungy. Between the bathroom and a passage way that led to the bedroom was a small dressing room. It was like they didnt know what to do with the space, so there was a table (with a stool) and mirror there. There was also a make up mirror in the bathroom, I guess this is what makes a suite a bit different from a balcony cabin, I dont know. Then you walked into the bedroom. On one side was a double sliding door wardrobe, the same sort of TV set up in the middle and another door leading the dressing/make up room. We didnt use this door, as it opened into the room, causing a barrier that in the middle of the night you would have walked into. The cabin, while not tatty, did have a lot of wear marks, worn areas, etc. Again, it certainly felt a little gungy. There was a picture on the bedroom wall, of a pre adolescence Venus and Cupid, naked in a sexual pose. While some may have called it art, I actually found it quite offensive (and I am no prude). The murals on the walls in the corridors were of a Roman/Greek style and to me, they just did not look appropriate on a family type ship. A lot of the decor looked like the kids had gotten carried away in the crayon box. So there were heavily patterned walls and squiggly patterned carpets. It was a bit claustrophobic. The general layout of the ship was not overly difficult to find your way around, if you got off the lifts there were usually the names of the areas in bright different coloured lights above the door ways leading to the public areas. The cabins were all on some floors and the entertainment/food areas on others, so everything was grouped together. We did a couple of trivia events, but apart from the Red Frog, there didnt really seem to be any seperate areas like we were use to. The Trivia was just down one side of the boat and you couldnt really hear, unless you were close. The middle of the ship was hollow for about 7 or 8 floors, so the noise carried quite a bit. It was all a bit noisy and busy. Before cast off, we had the usual safety briefing. If you thought the rapping Air New Zealand one was bad, this was worse. We had to all go to the muster stations, which were outside, along the decks. Then we all had to line up, shoulder to shoulder, about 5 deep. Straight lines please. We then had to stand there for about 30 minutes while they (did something, I assume). We were scanned in, so I guess it was looking for those that hadnt arrived, I dont know. The usual talk took about 3 minutes, they we had to all fight our way back in. Thankfully we didnt have to take our life jackets, but it was a very degrading experience. Dinner that night was pretty disappointing. We ate at the main dining room (we were booked for 7.45, but managed to get it changed to 5.30 thereafter). I had a prawn cocktail with a nice sauce (I think it may have been bourbon flavoured?). it was a tasty sauce, I remember that much! The steak was also from the every night menu and was very average. Dessert was their "signature" dish, a chocolate cake in a ramakin with a chocolate sauce inside and some vanilla ice cream. Again, very average. I have had that dessert at a local restaurant. Still, it was only night 1 and it takes a day for everything to settle. We had an early night, as we were tired from travelling and all the excitement of getting on board, etc. Watched a little TV and a good nights sleep. The bed was reasonably comfy and it was great to have a top sheet, instead of just the duvet. The pillows were a little flat, but Hubby likes that. The next morning, we were up the the old buffet style for breakfast. There were lots of stations set up with different things. A quick walk around to see what was available and which stations to avoid (remember the old cruise joke about going on as a passenger and leaving as luggage) I found some water melon and put that on a plate, there were no trays supplied, so I useed a larger plate to hold the smaller plate. Then I found the eggs bene (the quality varied from day-to-day), further round some nice french toast, then some wee pots that you put in the butter, maple syrup, etc (or sauce or jam or whatever). By the time I had queued for each of these and found a table, it was cold. The idea is good, but it was just too hard, without jumping up and down every few mouthfuls to get the next course to have it hot. Very disappointing. I finished unpacking and sorting the cabin. The young lad had been in the day before and asked what time would we like the cabin serviced. Again, this was a little disappointing as it was a suite. With Princess, they come when you are not there, morning and evening. He hadnt come at the agreed time (we gave him a couple of hours), but did come later and we got it right for the rest of the cruise. Toiletries were not replaced as they were used, shampoo and conditioner were a dispense container on the wall. Fortunately, we had bought our own. Tea that night was better, but again the selection was pretty average. I also dont consider a mince pie find dining. Tonight, the wait staff not only had to do a great job (which they did pretty good at) serving the meal, but there were expected to do two dances between main and dessert courses. Yes, it was fun but come on Carnival, these guys had a lot to do anyway. I cant remember how big the dining room was but it was over two floors. The downstairs was booked dining and upstairs anytime. The tables were all laid out with about 3 waiters per 4 or 5 tables. Again, Princess has this better with each waiters tables set in little alcoves where they can serve the meals/drinks from. This was again very noisy with a lot of kids yelling and screaming. There were even some sitting on the tables! Yes, there had also been some at the late time the night before. I didnt make it to much of the entertainment or the outside pool decks, etc. Partly because we had our own balcony, which was the best I have ever had. It was quite wide and wrapped around to the side of the cabln. Probably had something to do with the shape of the boat. It was very, very spacious and the furniture appeared to be in good nick. There was a lot of rust on the metal parts of the ship. Unfortunately, we did have about 24 hours of 6m swells and that kept me very cabin bound, not enjoying the cruise much! That was no ones fault, but the risk you take with cruising. I do enjoy a bit of gentle rocking usually (esp at night when you are going to sleep), but this was rather excessive! Would I pay for a suite? No. For us, a balcony represents better value for money. We do tend to spend a lot of time in the cabin. We dont use the pools, so it is nice to have that fresh air. This suite did not have great views of the sea, as the windows were not all floor to ceiling and they were broken up with panals that probably had something to do with the structure of the ship. There were no other gains (apart from getting on faster) that we could ascertain from having a suite. About three days out, the disembarkation notice came round. We were expected to take our own bags off, Those needing assistance could opt for that. Again, it felt very cheap and we felt unloved. There was some info came round with shore trips, but by then we had made our own arrangements. See below. Overall, it is definitely designed with families in mind. If you like a more peaceful cruise, or something a little more refined, then this is not the line for you. We did the hop on hop off bus at Noumea. There really was nothing to see, a couple of arcade type malls, no good shopping and an expensive ice cream! A market with about 10 stalls, not very inspiring. Most people just went round and back to the boat. Ship docked at container terminal and you could not wander round. Straight off ship and onto bus or tour. AU$25pp. but the ticket on board (charge to room) before disembarking. Didnt get off a Mare as the weather was wet and not that warm. A lot of those that did, came straight back on again. Tender port. Isle of Pines was nice, nice beach that we swum at. Locals had small market with local and coconuts food for sale. Could have paid AU$50 each to go to another beach that had turtles, etc, but the local one was nice. Plenty of fish to see if snorkling. Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
Sailed on Holland America four other times. Never on prior cruises was I told we are sorry but we out out of that. On this cruise we were told sorry we are out of diet caffeine free coke White Wines, Beers, Teas, Ice Creams, Limes, wafers ... Read More
Sailed on Holland America four other times. Never on prior cruises was I told we are sorry but we out out of that. On this cruise we were told sorry we are out of diet caffeine free coke White Wines, Beers, Teas, Ice Creams, Limes, wafers for Ice Cream. I didn't pay all my money not to have the ship properly provisioned my table mates had the same problems and felt the same way, this made the overall experience poor. Both showers in our stateroom needed a plumber (three times). TV was broken, bed had no firmness,.Gym had broken equipment. Dining and room staff were good, food was good. Enjoyed Lincoln Center music. Ports and excursions were average. Embarkation went smoothly. interesting talks in the morning, Lido Pool area staff seemed lazy, other staff was good.Over all common rooms were average. Guest Services tried their best to resolve all my issues but they could not resolve the issues involving Noordam being out of so many items, I would not recommend the Noordam as I would the other Holland America ships I have been on. Read Less
Sail Date April 2019
We chose the Seabourn Encore for 2 reasons: we wanted to see New Zealand and after trying other 6 star lines we wanted to try another. The itinerary was great. We had to miss Phillip Island because of the weather. That was ok with us; ... Read More
We chose the Seabourn Encore for 2 reasons: we wanted to see New Zealand and after trying other 6 star lines we wanted to try another. The itinerary was great. We had to miss Phillip Island because of the weather. That was ok with us; we really appreciate the captain taking safety so seriously. The rest of the stops were good. Embarkation in Sydney was fairly easy. The ship is clean and well maintained. The cabin was beautiful, thankfully because we spent a lot of time there. We were surprised that there were no USP ports on a fairly new ship, nor did they have electric do not disturb signs. There were plenty of 220 and 110 outlets throughout the cabin; except for the bathroom. The sea days were boring to say the least. They had trivia at noon. There were a few “conversations” which were lectures not conversations. The onboard entertainers may have been good, but were so loud we had to leave to protect our hearing. The other entertainers were all very good and varied from singer to musicians to comedy. The food was uninspiring. The set menu was always a good option: Caesar salad, shrimp cocktail, steaks and lamb. The wine was cheap and the champagne was awful. We expected better than we got. The service was slow. We always had to ask for more water, even after we complained. A few days into the cruise you can fill out a form telling them what was needed. After a few days the restaurant manager talked to us about our problems, but nothing was done either in the main dining room or the other dining places. The bar service was just as bad. I guess, if they ignore you they don’t have to serve as often. The bar servers were uninformed about what was available. Thomas Keller was the specialty dining place, but was a limited menu and not any better than the other restaurants. They did have a nice laundry with 4 washer, 4 dryers and 3 irons and ironing boards. The gym while small had plenty of machines. Read Less
Sail Date February 2019
I chose the 3 night four day Carnival Cruise out of Sydney because it was my first cruise and I wasn't convinced I was a 'cruising' kind of person. I was right. I'm not. At least I'm not a Carnival Cruise kind of ... Read More
I chose the 3 night four day Carnival Cruise out of Sydney because it was my first cruise and I wasn't convinced I was a 'cruising' kind of person. I was right. I'm not. At least I'm not a Carnival Cruise kind of person. The embarkation was horrific. Loaded like cattle, they crammed us all into the buffet area because their determination to get in and get out as fast as possible means they get you on board before your rooms are ready. EVERYONE - and I mean every 2,124 passengers - are crammed into the buffet area waiting for their rooms to become available. There's not enough seats and tables. People are pushing and shoving. It was horrendous. That was bad enough but then we had to do the muster. Unlike other cruise lines that 'muster' in lounges in a calm and serene fashion, Carnival herded us onto decks. They forced us to stand in 34 degree heat, shoulder to shoulder FOR AGES until blasting a horn and letting us free. More shuffling in long queues as again we depart our muster locations like herded cattle. Still the rooms aren't available. The lifts aren't available either because of the baggage being brought on board so it's all stairs (with a torn meniscus so that just added salt to the wound). I'll summarise the rest because the first day was by far the worst but not the only disappointment. The spa massage was a constant up-sell. Even mid-massage so not exactly relaxing. The chat app (which isn't free) wouldn't work properly and we had to queue (again) to get help from guest services. I say help but "it's probably just your phone" wasn't that helpful. The son never managed to get his phone connected but I still paid the $9 - YES NINE - to NOT be able to chat with him while on board. Unless you're a kid or an adult with no personal space requirement DO NOT EXPECT A SWIM! There aren't pools on the boat. There are oversized spas masquerading as pools. Look closely. The promise is luxurious. The reality is the pools are TINY. They make them LOOK big buy surrounding them with overflow areas twice the size of the pool. Day two they closed one of them so that left us with 2,000 people and one 18+ pool and one family pool. Do the math! Disembarkation is the reverse order of the unpleasantness getting on. We had to rush breakfast, rush packing and rush to get off the boat by 8am. Why? Because they're ready to cram on the next load of victims of course. We left a phone in the room in our rush to get out on time. How we lost something in a room that was 2m x 1m I'll never know. The highlight was the dining room. The food was first class. Really amazing. There was a little wobble on the last night with a couple of dishes that were below their unusually high standard. If it wasn't for the food, I'd be demanding my money back. The staff are 97% wonderful. A couple of individuals who probably shouldn't be cruising but the vast majority are friendly, professional, helpful and the saving grace of Carnival Cruises. Clearly some people have no problem being crushed, and queued and rushed. I don't. I like space. I like peace and quiet and I expect a pool bigger than a spa bath.The images on their website are mis-leading. I'll post pictures of the pools. Judge for yourself. It was extremely hard to find anywhere with a calm, relaxing environment. The Sun Lounge area was my version of hell on earth. Loud DJ music, people and kids running around everywhere and everyone jammed into close quarters. Don't go expecting to have a comfy sun lounge in a quiet corner of the boat somewhere. The rear of the boat was largely devoid of crowds but there was nowhere to sit and relax so that was yet another disappointment. There simply isn't enough boat and there's too many people. Read Less
Sail Date January 2019
Having cruised with a number of different lines over the years we chose our first Holland America cruise recently because of the destinations it was going to in the South Pacific. After having been on the ‘geriatric express’ that is ... Read More
Having cruised with a number of different lines over the years we chose our first Holland America cruise recently because of the destinations it was going to in the South Pacific. After having been on the ‘geriatric express’ that is Princess Cruises (because it was going o PNG) we were a little apprehensive but told that HAL appealed to the more discerning traveller wishing to ‘experience’ fine cuisine and luxury. Interesting. We quickly noted that quite a number of the patrons did seem to be from that precious, tedious class of human beings. A mix of many races and languages with a fair few Americans. Everything on board was very much geared to American tastes and interests. (We ran a little private contest to spot somebody smiling - it took 3 days.) Example: in the middle of the hot Pacific Islands there was an inordinate number trooping off to the Dining Room all decked out in suits or tuxedos and finery. As a person who has spent his whole life wearing suits I sure don’t want to put one on while on holidays in the steamy Pacific. Despite it being school holidays there was only a sprinkling of children on board and they seemed all quiet and well behaved. Cuisine - dull to bad, repetitive with some really awful/silly concoctions. Every night meat and vegetables. Tricked up cafe level food. Very limited selection and in the buffet no self-serve. Instead a ridiculous system whereby you have to lineup (something akin to Seinfeld’s Soup Nazi), state (very quickly) what you want, (having just seen it), be served and step away. The queues grew long and people became very testy. A stupid, demeaning and inefficient system. HAL seem to be trying too hard. They produced numerous attempts at various cuisines but the result was amateurish and generally overcooked. Interestingly we noticed that only about 50% of diners washed their hands when entering. We had booked a transfer to the ship via HAL. When we arrived at the pickup point for the coach, as per instructions, there was nobody there and no coach. We searched everywhere in case we had missed something. Sometime later, back at the original pickup point, a confused mini van driver arrived and asked who we were. Apparently the coach had been cancelled and we’d somehow fallen through the cracks. No apology. Eventually, days later somebody noted the ‘inconvenience’. Incidentally we could have taken a local transfer coach for a third of HAL’s charge. Which brings us to the prices on HAL. All cruise ships tend to rip you off. You’re a captive audience. HAL have the highest prices we have yet seen. Virtually everything from yoga to meditation classes involved a fee. To add insult they place a 15% service charge on their prices at purchase. We also had a few cases of wrong items appearing on our account. Then of course there’s the gratuities where the ships adds $16 per person per day to your account. HAL operates in US dollars so for Australians by the time you add on their service charge and convert to $A and include the card fee we’re paying 50%-60% more for everything. NB Most of the ship’s photos went unsold because of the high prices. In search of a positive about the ship I can quote one that happened by default. The lifts were great and there was no waiting time. This is because there was often nobody about. At times during the evening you could walk through the ship and not see anybody. We are not party animals but what the thousands of passengers were doing I don’t know. Seeking any sort of fun or enjoyment was not for them. The ship had the atmosphere of a well furnished, funeral parlour. There was a venue called BB Kings Blues Club. Probably connected to the BBK franchise in the US. Great I thought. I really like blues. The band looked the part. Their music was tight and slick but in a Michael Jackson sort of way. The music certainly was not blues. No hint of a BBK tribute, Robert Johnson, Muddy Waters et al They played everything but - middle of the road elevator music, motown, rock and roll, some great jazzy r & b instrumentals but over two weeks never any blues. Seemed kind of pointless. The onboard cafe with complimentary coffee, tea and snacks which is such a nice feature of Royal Caribbean ships and somewhere pleasant to sit was in this case a multi-purpose games room, library, internet venue with coffee priced higher than downtown Sydney. The shows in the main theatre were mostly lifeless. With a very basic ship’s orchestra struggling along. The daily fair consisted of things like flower arranging or scrabble tournaments. There was string quartet playing Vivaldi, Brahms, Schumann etc. Being familiar with most of their repertoire I can only say that their standard of playing was not particularly good. I stayed away. We met people who were HAL groupies. They all seemed to be nouveau riche types who felt life should be quiet, erudite and dignified. A lot of it appeared a charade on their part. All cruise lines have there good and bad points. It’s just that with HAL it was 60% negative. At least the ship’s decor was in general pleasing to the eye (with some weird exceptions). Not the God-awful hideous stuff you find on say Carnival ships. The staff were all obsequiously pleasant. The crew not so much. HAL with its dubious quest for genteel travel may suit some people but we will continue to seek a happy medium between loud and vulgar and the HAL ‘experience’. Final Note: HAL sent out a questionnaire after the cruise to ascertain passengers degree of satisfaction or otherwise with the HAL ‘experience’. (Why do we have ‘experience’ everything now. You eat meals you don’t experience them, you sleep on a bed you don’t experience it ….. ) Anyway, I thought okay, I’ll give them a fair hearing, as they were keen to get feedback. The online questionnaire crashed twice. That’s when I gave up. Read Less
Sail Date January 2019

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