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Sail Date: February 2019
My family needed a cruise suitable for our range of ages and tastes and this family friendly, low stress cruise absolutely matched our needs. Very clean ship inside and out with friendly staff and fun entertainers. We travelled from ... Read More
My family needed a cruise suitable for our range of ages and tastes and this family friendly, low stress cruise absolutely matched our needs. Very clean ship inside and out with friendly staff and fun entertainers. We travelled from Sydney, Australia to Melbourne and Hobart and then went to New Zealand getting stops at Port Chalmers, Akaroa, Tauranga and Auckland. There was a large variety of activities that suited the seniors in our group as well as the younger cousins, too. From Zumba to Bingo to jaw-dropping production shows, we were thoroughly entertained onboard. Food was easy to acquire and change to our tastes as necessary for those with food allergies. I am pleased to note that there were accessible shore excursions and the entire ship was accessible for people with mobility issues. The outside and inside of the ship were truly majestic, with details everywhere to enhance the experience for guests of any culture. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2018
Me and my partner chose to cruise with celebrity after enjoying a fantastic cruise on the Royal Caribbean Explorer of the Seas 2 years prior. We thought since the two are related and celebrity is more expensive that the experience ... Read More
Me and my partner chose to cruise with celebrity after enjoying a fantastic cruise on the Royal Caribbean Explorer of the Seas 2 years prior. We thought since the two are related and celebrity is more expensive that the experience should be even more fantastic. I have to say, we had a better time on the Explorer. Not sure whether this is because of the people on the ship... we are 25 but we don't drink and aren't party animals - But wow, this is a very sloooow crowd and the daily planner reflects that. There is literally nothing to do during the day other than go to talks where they try to sell you things. Other than that the daily features are bingo, glass blowing, spa talks on how to reduce lines and ease back pain + more activities that lets just say, I'd rather watch paint dry. if we hadnt booked such a great Shore activities I'm not sure how much we would have enjoyed this cruise... Cabins - we just had a regular interior cabin on level 8. We were unfortunate enough to have probably one of only three babies on board 4 cabins down and this one was definitely a screamer. I have to say I think every single time we were in the cabin, that baby was crying... including multiple nights. However I have to admit that's obviously not celebrities fault but it did impact the trip. also, the cabins on the Royal Caribbean Explorer of the Seas are much nicer than the solstice cabins except for a smaller bed. There is way more storage on the Explorer and the rooms are just laid out a lot better. Another little thing that is sort of silly but it's one of the things makes a cruise, we didn't get any towel animals except for the first night. That was one of the most exciting things on the Explorer! Seeing which new one we got every day! A weird damp smell also lingered the whole time... Dining in the buffet - we only ate in the buffet and included restaurant the entire trip because we usually find that that's all you need... Again, the food at the buffet on the Explorer was much superior to the food on the solstice. The breakfast did not change literally every single day. Lunch varied somewhat but barely. Most of the dinner was also the same, except for a few theme nights where they basically just had maybe 10 more dishes added. Dining in the no fee restaurant - firstly I want to say that our waitress Taisiia was amazing. She was extremely prompt, friendly and informed about the food. We also found this on the Explorer with our waiter. but once again, the Explorer had much better dinner food than the solstice. we found that the menu on the solstice was very bizarre and somewhat pretentious. The entrees were pretty much just soups and salads for the entire duration of the cruise which I guess you can mass make and not really stuff up. The mains were really hit and miss...some of the steaks were really overcooked even though we ordered them all medium rare. But then again some of the food was fantastic. it's really hard to say but it's really just a game of luck every night with the menu. But I have to say it was a process of elimination of things we didn't like most of the time... another small thing to know is that the bread options are really limited on the solstice. At dinner on the Explorer we were given about 6 to 8 different options of bread but on this cruise we only had three different types of bread to choose from one of which was bread sticks. Dessert was great but honestly it's pretty hard to stuff up dessert. Shows in the theatre- the one thing that celebrity did mirror with Royal Caribbean Explorer was the fantastic shoes on board. But I have to admit that the entertainment was only really great when it was with the solstice theatre performers. All the other extra performers were pretty rubbish other than one comedian. Most nights there were plenty of seats left in the theatre when it wasn't the solstice group performing. Pools - pool areas were nice and tidy and they did have plenty of chairs for everyone in the main pool. This was not k's in the adults only area. You'd go literally at 9 a.m. and all the chairs would have towels and things on them from people dumping them on the way to the buffet. They really should have some sort of system in place to avoid this happening as we saw chairs with no one in them for hours on end... Gym and spa - we did go to the gym a couple of days and I have to say it was pretty fantastic. Loads of equipment and weights. Plenty of cold towels for anyone and a really great Fitness classroom. we also did take advantage of the Persian room for our stay. It was expensive but we really enjoyed it. The steam room was awesome and the hot pads were really relaxing. We also did have one couples massage that was pretty good but in hindsight we probably wouldn't do it again how much money it cost. that was another thing, throughout the entire ship there were the massage ladies sitting you in chairs giving you a random shoulder rub and running you through the price list. It was a bit full on and I was really over it by the end of the trip. Shore excursions - we did 3 excursions, quad biking in the sand dunes in Newcastle, Australia Zoo and also a Great Barrier Reef snorkeling Discovery. Quad biking was definitely the highlight. this was due to the fact that there was only about 10 of us considering the general demographic on the cruise wouldn't be able to physically quad bike, plus the dunes were fantastic and the guys were amazing. Australia Zoo was ok, I mean it's just a zoo and it may have been more exciting for someone who isn't an Australian but we still did have fun and we don't regret going but wouldn't do it again. we have mix feelings about the great barrier reef discovery . Unfortunately it was the best day for it it was a really rough seas - the boat the incredibly rocky the entire time and multiple people were being sick. This gets pretty full-on since it's over an hour and a half trip to the reef. I got sick too. The reef itself was ok I have to say I don't think we were taken to a particularly beautiful part. I've done snorkeling a lot of times and there are much better spots all around Australia in Thailand and as well in New Caledonia. I was happy we went but again we wouldn't do it again. The rest of the staff were ok. The guest relations staff were pretty average an abrupt but all of the buffet and public room staff were very kind and accommodating. all in all, it was a bit disappointing and I wouldn't be cruising with celebrity again. I think I'll stick to Royal Caribbean. To give you some feedback also, my partner has cruised with multiple lines and he said that celebrity is pretty hand in hand in terms of food with P&O. Save your money, go with Royal Caribbean. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2018
We spent 4 nights sailing around the Great Barrier Reef. Most of the excursions are snorkelling the reef which was absolutely amazing.The ship was very comfortable with good size cabins and nice common areas. The food was very good, well ... Read More
We spent 4 nights sailing around the Great Barrier Reef. Most of the excursions are snorkelling the reef which was absolutely amazing.The ship was very comfortable with good size cabins and nice common areas. The food was very good, well presented and more then enough to eat. The staff were wonderful, very friendly and went out of their way to help. My mother is a weak swimmer and the trip director pull her around with life ring every time we went snorkelling. The staff was very careful to keep an eye on everyone in the water and ready to help you with your equipment. There was glass bottom boat rides as well as snorkelling at each reef. Getting on and off the boat was very easy. This has been my favourite thing we have done on our trip to Australia. I would come back just to do this cruise again. Everything went very smoothly. Highly recommend. Read Less
11 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2018
Pre cruise – A must know for upcoming cruisers, you complete all your check in onine including photo ID. HUGE tip – Book your onboard activities such as Ifly or North Star and Pixels way in advance and I am talking about 6 months out ... Read More
Pre cruise – A must know for upcoming cruisers, you complete all your check in onine including photo ID. HUGE tip – Book your onboard activities such as Ifly or North Star and Pixels way in advance and I am talking about 6 months out from your cruise. Once fully booked is near on impossible to get on Ifly onboard and North Star queues for those not booked are approx. 1 hr in the full sun. There are limited spots for the thousands of guests. It is NOT the fault of staff who I saw being abused by passengers who didn’t book and who missed out. Its up to the individual guests to do their homework. Hence my tip. Ifly was so much fun as was North Star. I am scared of heights and had no hesitation on these activities definitely one for the bucket list. Embarkation – Not a problem at Sydney from beginning to end took me approx. 20 mins. You arrive bag drop to the left enter the terminal are allocated a RCL member who checks you in. You then proceed up the gangway, get scanned onboard and that’s it. Guest services located on Deck 5 are fully manned on day one so if you have anything you need best get there early. Again many guests were rude to staff, I call them the entitled brigade, be polite the staff go out of their way to help. Cabin Access – you stateroom key is located outside your cabin on the wall. We waited till around 1pm before heading to the cabin as the stewards are turning the cabin around and need time to do that. Once inside the cabin everything was there from a welcome letter to robes etc. Depending on your status, letter or invites to certain onboard events. Ship presentation – overall immaculate. Well maintained clean easy to find your way around. Food – exceptional. There are always tables available just you need to walk to the rear of the windjammer. Never had a n issue with seating lots of selection for all palates. Shops – the promenade snakes around so I found that different, there are however so many options for shopping. Shows – Other than pixels for us, they were great. Pixels we left to the last night, which was fabulous. Royal IQ – Works well onboard, you can book in for activities see what’s happening in real time. Download before you go and log on onboard Voom – I had issues with signing in and out. Was a major pain in the proverbial. However RCL staff were on hand to help. It seems as soon as you go offshore then switch to your own data, then get back onboard cause issues. Just see staff they will help. Shore excursions – You get a letter in your stateroom telling you where to go and when to meet. For us it was the theatre and disembarkation was not an issue. Very well handled and was a smooth transition to the coaches and off to our destination which for us was Port Arthur. Well worth the tour money, organised and so glad we went. For those not able bodied don’t do this tour there is a lot of walking on unstable ground. Size – was a massive ship but easy to navigate. Lots of areas so never felt crowded my favorite was the adults only solarium. There are lifeguards on duty but parents need to monitor their own kids. Bar service – never an issue. I read heaps of negative comments but a holiday is what you make it. Staff again do an awesome job and work very hard always smiling. Photos – I found the service easy to operate and staff willing to lend a hand if you can’t work the onboard photo machines. Just don’t leave your pick-ups to the last minute as then you are fighting the crowd. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2018
Having sailed on the Coral Discoverer (previously Oceanic Discoverer) from Darwin to Broome in 2015 our party of six decided to "do it again" ie. enjoy a nice cabin along with great service, friendly staff, great food and drink ... Read More
Having sailed on the Coral Discoverer (previously Oceanic Discoverer) from Darwin to Broome in 2015 our party of six decided to "do it again" ie. enjoy a nice cabin along with great service, friendly staff, great food and drink offerings whilst we sail and view magnificent scenery, visit historic places, walk in wilderness areas, enjoy enlightening talks and films and have a lot of fun in the process. We were not disappointed, Coral Discoveries provided just what we expected plus some, another great holiday. The weather was kind to us as it has been known to worse down south, but that can be the case anywhere on any holiday. This ship has room for 72 people and carries landing craft where you can board and go ashore without getting your feet wet most of the time, The Explorer carries all 72 people on excursions, as well there are a few kayaks available and the larger inflatables for excursions when required. We are looking forward to our next adventure with Coral Discoveries, where? who knows as they go lots of different places.. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: February 2018
We were on a South America Cruise with NCl Sun. The attitude of the staff was more to be desired. Food just ok. We tried this NCL Jewel for Cruise from Sydney to Hong Kong. Entertainment was average to below expectation. Same artists ... Read More
We were on a South America Cruise with NCl Sun. The attitude of the staff was more to be desired. Food just ok. We tried this NCL Jewel for Cruise from Sydney to Hong Kong. Entertainment was average to below expectation. Same artists rotating to take their turns. Little changed. On Sea day, the ship entertainment is dead. Nothing happening and the daily programme is the same like the previous day.Why can,t we have a movie in Stardust theatre everday or have a large screen facing the swimming pool to show recently released movies If you go on Princess Cruise lines, you have entertainment on the big screen rather than same old muscians playing the same songs. Have you ever wondered if people near the pool really listen to what they are singing about. BORING. Needs to put on an entertainment that is refreshing and enjoyable. I hope the message gets to the entertainment dept. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2018
On the strength of a seven day cruise on this small ship (70 passengers max) around the southern coast of New Zealand, we booked for the seven day voyage around the east, south and west coast of Tasmania. It was flawless. the captain, Gary ... Read More
On the strength of a seven day cruise on this small ship (70 passengers max) around the southern coast of New Zealand, we booked for the seven day voyage around the east, south and west coast of Tasmania. It was flawless. the captain, Gary Wilson, and his amazing crew provided us with an extremely comfortable and luxurious haven from which to experience the extraordinary Tasmanian coastline. We had wonderful weather that allowed us a near-perfect sail around to the exquisite Port Davey in Tassie's South West National Park for two nights in this World Heritage wilderness; a pristine and sheltered environment that hopefully will still be here for generations to come. Congratulations to all of those environmentalists over the years who have resisted government and industry attempts to debase such magical places with unnecessary development. Access is strictly controlled and it became clear when we climbed several local hills for panoramic views of the labyrinthine waterways, extending out to the Arthur Range on the blue horizon. For me, this was a highlight of the trip because of the difficulty in even reaching Port Davey and Bathurst Harbour in bad weather. A serene sail across a mirror-smooth Southern Ocean took us up the east coast to Freycinet where regardless of some light rain, we again were able to walk up to another lookout over Wineglass Bay. Then it was onto Maria Island for a dramatic (weatherwise) stroll to the fossil cliffs before an unforgettable sail down the east coast past the highest dolerite cliffs in the world on Cape Pillar -- 300 metres! It was right there that the finale arrived in the form of a 40 knot gale, making scenes of those foreboding cliffs even more dramatic. Another highlight for all of and extremely well handled by our ship, the Coral Discoverer, which again proved her stability in rough seas. We had previously been in nine metre seas on the south coast of New Zealand in this ship and knew of her capabilities. An alternative tour of Port Arthur with an amazing guide who, we suspect, is a Shakespearean actor (or should be) before our departure in Hobart on a fine, clear morning. Overall, a wonderful trip to an unforgettable and unique destination. Highly recommended! Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2018
Before i boarded, i wasn't that excited as i've read many reviews on the lack of activities. There were many key events on my 8 day journey to Hobart and Adelaide. As most Australians, we would believe that travelling to such ... Read More
Before i boarded, i wasn't that excited as i've read many reviews on the lack of activities. There were many key events on my 8 day journey to Hobart and Adelaide. As most Australians, we would believe that travelling to such areas would be terribly boring. During these 8 days, it wasn't just the scenic views of travelling to different states but it was the experience gained on the cruise itself. My family and i have encountered beautiful staff and cruisers that made this an enjoyable experience. Lets break it down to entertainment. The Royal Theatre and 270 room alternate in the most fascinating and unique shows that includes talented musicians, dancers and singers. Along with this, we could experience some comedy shows and late night trivial and music contests/game shows. Every night, my family and i would be introduced to these events and this would never have failed to impress us. These shows usually end around 11pm but that just brings the start to the casino, and the night club. For kids, theres the arcade which allows children to roam around till 1am. This facility is as safe as it gets with staff around 24/7. Theres table tennis, bumper cars, sometimes trivial games, xbox games and dodge ball/basketball. Food. Now, my favourite part of this cruise. The Windjammer was the best buffet ive ever been. Staff is great and the organisation should be incredibly considered. They are always on time, serving finest food from ranging cuisines of asian, middle eastern, european... with burgers and fish and chips to die for. Theres free hot dogs on the arcade level and free pizza thats open till 3am. Now these pizzas are serve the best pepperoni but the menu changes daily from seafood to crowds favourite of hawaiian. Lastly, theres the water slides and pools thats always open. The sun is always hitting the pool deck so its always an amazing time to spend in the waters. Theres a massage area and a massive gym. The gym here provides almost everything. This trip was too good to be true. This is my first and will surely not be my last. Note: The cabin staff was amazing. Truly will be make your trip x100000 better. They're great people and make the effort to make you cute towel animals. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2018
We took our 12 year old grand daughter on this, our 3 rd trip around New Zealand. She had a wonderful time in the kids club and had a very special birthday there and at dinner. We do prefer the smaller ship size with easier access to all ... Read More
We took our 12 year old grand daughter on this, our 3 rd trip around New Zealand. She had a wonderful time in the kids club and had a very special birthday there and at dinner. We do prefer the smaller ship size with easier access to all decks and facilities. The change in itinerary was annoying and the shorter day in Auckland was disappointing especially with the long wait to get off. The first tender port organisation was terrible and our tour group should not have been told to meet on the wharf. We were included in the very long queue, even as Elite, and the bus had to wait for people to come on the next tender. I know of one inexperienced family missed their tour completely as they did not realise the time it would take. The return trip was no better with a very long wait in the sun. The next tender port was much better organised. When disembarking we had great difficulty finding our luggage. There were no signs for each group and ours turned out to be at the far end, past all the groups leaving later. The entertainment and the food was as good as ever on Princess with the waiting staff and room steward doing a great job. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2017
Wanted to try a larger ship as travelled many times on RCL. Well despite the negativity I have read, it was not applicable. Fabulous ship, excellent memories made with lots of new and exciting friendships which I am certain will blossom ... Read More
Wanted to try a larger ship as travelled many times on RCL. Well despite the negativity I have read, it was not applicable. Fabulous ship, excellent memories made with lots of new and exciting friendships which I am certain will blossom beyond this sailing. Embarkation – Quick speedy and efficient. Porters were waiting on the right side for bag drop off, on entry quick health form completed, allocated an RCL member to process and onboard we went. Smooth painless and done within 20 mins from start to finish. Onboard – Guest Services – As I was travelling with a minor their seapass card has to have a spend limit put on. Quick and easy, once in the line an RCL member helped fill out the relevant paperwork and we were free to start our holiday. Safety Drill –Instructions are on the back of you cabin door and your seaspass has you assigned station. Lots of RCL staff more than happy to assist you. Dining – Amazing! Before I embarked I was quick shocked at the reviews. I am so glad they were not relevant. Food in the MDR was outstanding; I went to Italian and was suitably impressed. Every night our servers/chefs/wait staff did something new to entertain the guests. As dining is a huge factor for my family it was lovely to see such drive and effort made to ensure we had a pleasant experience. Murder Mystery Dinner – If you haven’t done it try it. Was so much fun, the actors play a part you have a wonderful dinner and figure out who did it. Well worth the money. DreamWorks Breakfast – A must for little and big kids alike, was a great laugh. Just order eggs over easy sunny side up were a little too sunny. Cabin – Well I am delighted to say I had the pleasure of staying in Cabin 1854 a Family Panoramic View that is now classed as a suite. The views were spectacular and the position right at the front behind the pool bar and above solarium was excellent. Cabin was clean, neat tidy. Cabin steward was named Angel, well he was indeed that. He was fun, respectful and did his job to a very high standard. I couldn’t take him home unfortunately something about against the rules. Hairdryer provided and US electrical ports, so BYO adaptor. Ample cupboard space for hanging or putting away clothing. Facilities onboard – shops were varied, café promenade was fabulous for coffee and library was excellent. Children’s books are also available. Entertainment – OUT OF THIS WORLD. Great shows, Jamie the cruise director and his team were fabulous. They really enjoyed themselves and the acts showed passion and drive. The move it move it parade was a hit with all passengers young and old. Ice Shows x 2 both excellent those girls and boys were fabulous. Pig n Whistle – Well everyone has their favorite watering spot and this was mine. Carlo, musician was outstanding and I mean WOW had the place rocking to his vocals and guitar work. If you are looking for romance look no further, if you want to enjoy time that someone special, like I did, this is the place to be. Soft sounds and the perfect romantic venue. Many happy memories and many friendships made. Gym/Spa - Well I have been to some gyms in my time and given the amount of food consumed, I definitely needed to work some off. Equipment great, clean and in working order. Great views to get rid of those excess pounds. Theatres – Located decks 3 & 4 easy to access and wheelchair accessible seating provided. RCL meet n Greet – Host was fabulous however many members didn’t get their invite even though they registered. For this particular sailing there was no role call and a Facebook Page was created to chat about all things cruising and RCL. Cruise critic this is something that needs attention as emails were sent to amend but was not rectified. Summary – This ship is quite large however the staff onboard were all singing. I mean right down to the maintenance people. Management have done an excellent job, a happy crew makes for a happy cruisers. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2017
We had an amazing time on this ship! So much to do and Entertainment was spot on, however, we did have some really rough seas which stopped us from going to some of the Islands which was a real bummer! We still had the best time and all ... Read More
We had an amazing time on this ship! So much to do and Entertainment was spot on, however, we did have some really rough seas which stopped us from going to some of the Islands which was a real bummer! We still had the best time and all of the theme nights were great! I Would love to go on another one again! Here is a video of our trip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fz6mTVznIVE&t=12s Perfect little family getaway! Pros: Great themed parties Unlimited YUMMY Food Walk the plank was insanely fun and would highly recommend to any thrill seekers out there! The entertainment team was on point- from the amazing nightly performances to playing taboo to keeping the party alive at night the entertainment team definitely made this trip very memorable for all the right reasons! Cons: We got stuck in a CYCLONE and could only go to one island The one island we went to had most of its usual tourist activities closed Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2017
This was our first cruise and it was with a bit of trepidation that we booked it. We made sure it was not a school holiday period as we wanted some relax time. Booked a stateroom veranda and secured a starboard room on Deck 8. Great ... Read More
This was our first cruise and it was with a bit of trepidation that we booked it. We made sure it was not a school holiday period as we wanted some relax time. Booked a stateroom veranda and secured a starboard room on Deck 8. Great location with terrific view. ( a tip though..if you want a more economical cruise you could go inside cabin as we hardly spent time in the cabin and as much as I love a drink on the veranda I'd have been lucky to have spent all up 3 hours out on it...i mean why would you when you can go to so many common areas with better views etc.) Anyway, It's fun as a first time cruiser to get to know the ship. We were still discovering various nooks and crannies up till day of our return. Must say there is so much on offer that its impossible to catch it all while relaxing at the same time. We missed several shows etc as things overlapped with dinner / drinks / chilling on deck etc. Crew are very professional. On return I rang Celebrity to provide extremely positive feedback to our room service personal who knew our names and greeted us within 1 hour of boarding. The food..well I'm sure you've heard already how one could pack on kilos ... after day 2 we made sure we regulated ourselves after 'splurging'. We dinned at most restaurants but found the all day buffet very convenient. This encouraged us to go to the gym which we did every 2nd day. What a view... serious, you get on a treadmill or bike and just look seaward. They also had some great talks on nutrition, diet etc which are very informative (though there was a few product sells). There is also yoga which is fun whilst the ship bobs in the ocean. We mostly frequently the bar at the aft which is at the lawn area,,, what a great place to chill. You lay on the lawn, play bouche with other cruisers and have some cocktails. We made sure we departed the ship on every port / destination. The tendering process can be a bit laborious due to the amount of people but that's part of the fun too..and a great way to meet people as you venture out. All up a great time and we've booked another cruise on Solstice due to depart in a couple of months. Oh and I proposed to future wife on the top deck as we cruised the south pacific one balmy evening ... how could have she refused ;) Read Less
Sail Date: February 2017
• We would like to see bad sheet change every 4 days not 7! • Table tennis area windy, some digital timer to be on the game for each machine to be fare. • Main dinner restaurant need more verity food no much choice did not ... Read More
• We would like to see bad sheet change every 4 days not 7! • Table tennis area windy, some digital timer to be on the game for each machine to be fare. • Main dinner restaurant need more verity food no much choice did not bidder to use it. • Would like to see some Turkish food in Windjammer café or in restaurant • Urgent rules for spa /sauna area, Eg before and after spa entry must have a shower. Peoples enter the spa after the Gym with sweaty body, • Breakfast in main dinner room take to long, must be buffy style. • The workers very tight, need 1 day rest 12hrs 7days 7 months they are human not machine! • The pool area very wrong designed, pool size to small for amount of peoples in the ship 3000.Can’t see the big screen because of spa cover. • Shore excursion on the ship very expansive did not use it. • The pool area very slippery when wet foore need to be slip prove. • More verity cheese need it for breakfast, Mediterranean style • In the shower need seat for elderly peoples. • 10/10 Windjammer café, enjoy flower ride ,rock climbing t/tennis, basketball area Read Less
19 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2017
Just returned from the Tassie cruise (23 – 28 Jan) and I wanted to comment on our experience (having noted some negative feedback from others on the NZ trip) We are seasoned travellers although this is only our 2nd cruise (previously ... Read More
Just returned from the Tassie cruise (23 – 28 Jan) and I wanted to comment on our experience (having noted some negative feedback from others on the NZ trip) We are seasoned travellers although this is only our 2nd cruise (previously we sailed with Carnival Spirit to New Caledonia) We were a party of 5 and all had a great time. Plenty to do and lots of options for food and beverage. Some tips/points to be aware of: (meant as helpful advice not criticism!) All prices on board are US$ and there is an automatic 18% service charge on most items you need to pay for (speciality restaurants etc.) see below: Cabins (well at least ours) didn’t have Aus plug sockets so bring an EU or US adaptor (there were 2 USB hubs for phones, ipads etc) The voltage didn’t support an aus hair dryer (the new dyson) or a hand held steamer – there was a hair dryer in the cabin though. If you have a power board or alcohol in your check in luggage it will be held in a secure area and not delivered to your room (they x ray all items) so you’ll need to visit deck 2 to collect your bags once under way. (power boards are held and given back when you get back to Sydney) - not end of world but a hassle on day one you don't need so just be mindful? Bags are checked (X rayed) when you return from shore tours and alcohol etc is kept and delivered back to you the night before you dock. There was no option/laundry room to wash or to iron your own clothes – you can get them done by room service but there is an additional charge (as around $4US for a man’s shirt to be ironed) I had some creased clothes straight from the laundry basket at home (planning to iron them when I had more time in the planning and packing mayhem pre-trip) so they stayed in the case and I made do with what I had – 1st world problem! LOL The ship holds around 5,000 guests so some shows, dining options and attractions get booked out early and queues on day 1 were massive so book on-line in advance if you can or wait a day or so and you should be able to book/see most options. A lanyard to hold your key card (ID And all charges are via the card) is useful – we saw a few cases where people had lost them (including a young kid who’s card was then used by others to charge items). Go with a happy attitude and you’ll likely have a great time (we encountered a few who were determined to be unhappy and they were!) General feedback: A very very good operation. - the boat is super modern and has some amazing features and benefits! Check in process was prompt and efficient. Room was well presented, spacious and functional and cabin staff did a great job of keeping it clean and tidy. We tried quite a few of the food options and were happy with pretty much all:- Windjammer was the “food court” area with a wide selection of smorgasboard and made to order options (there was also a gluten free section I noticed) Plenty of healthy options and I’d be surprised if anyone left hungry or couldn’t find something they enjoyed. We had breakfast, lunch and dinner there at various stages and had no complaints – clean tables, good food, well cooked and presented and staff were friendly, efficient and cheerful. We ate at Izumi one night (Japanese) – we paid extra for this but were very happy with the food, service and experience. We chose “anytime dining” which gave us an (complimentary) option of Silks or American Icon to choose from (deck 4) – both a la carte, similar menus and again great food, service and hospitality. You can reserve tables in advance when on board but may experience a short wait on arrival during the busy dinner periods – no drama’s they’ll seat you asap and they won’t run out of food! Staff were fantastic, wine prices were reasonable (we didn’t take the drink package options) There is a free hot dog stand near the kids entertainment quarter – some options not available when we had one but still – free hot dogs!! A free pizza parlour (next to the pub on deck 4) Mmmm...Pizza! The pub staff were great – draught Heineken at $8US a pint and I like a scotch egg – theirs were fantastic! We saw both shows – Legs, live love and Pixels – both great (pre-book shows preferably if you can – we didn’t but got in on stand by as we just turned up but there was a slight wait until the reserved patrons had gotten in. Bingo was popular – mind you some were taken aback at the cost of a book of 5 for 4 games which was $49US and another session was $20 US for one game of full house for a book of 5 – we won one session though and got $500 US so happy happy happy, smiley smiley smiley!! Trivia comps were fun, pools popular with kids and adults alike and the sports courts/dodgem area popular and although there were queues they made sure they moved it along and everyone had a turn. The ifly sky dive simulator was popular and bookings essential – note there are height and weight restrictions – if you are under 6ft and weigh over 104Kilo – no go and there are also restrictions for people over 6ft so worth checking before your allotted slot if you get one? Your trip bill is automatically charged to your nominated credit card at the end of the trip (there are cash options) – be careful and check the small print as to the rate they use to convert from US $ to Aus plus they Royal Caribbean also charge a 3% fee on top (as well as an automatic gratuity of $13.50 US per person per day) We have an international currency debit card (ours is Commbank but most banks offer them) and we loaded it with US dollars at a good rate before we travelled and paid the bill in US dollars using that card which saved us a fair bit. You can check your bill by using the on-board app (check your trip booklet when you book and pay for your trip) or via the TV option in your room or at guest services - Note queues on the night before arriving back to Sydney and the morning of disembarkation were long so best to check and sort things out sooner than leave it to the end of the week if you have any queries? The spa offers some great packages and the steam/sauna option was lovely but a bit pricey at $200US a couple. To help offset the increased calorific intake (!!!!!) I used the gym each day and plenty of machines available (usual sort of stuff for most well equipped gyms) and there were a number of complimentary or pay as you go options for classes/training or seminars. We didn’t get to use the North star “eye” as it was booked solid. Plenty of on-board shopping (including Cartier and other high end stores) Bags are checked (X rayed) when you return from shore tours and alcohol etc is kept and delivered back to you the night before you dock. The boat docked in Hobart very close to Salamanca so an easy walk to some great things to see and do - there were a number of trips you can pre-book plus minibuses and private hire cars waiting to offer their services for trips to points of interest. We know the town well so did our own thing including a day trip to MONA which was great as always. In Summary – we had a great time and from the general chats we had with others they did too. Some people (only a very few) were just plain rude and grumpy but I guess a cruise can’t work miracles so read in to that what you will. A real mix of nations and everyone (most) seemed keen to have a good time and interact well with other guests. All meals were well cooked, well presented and there were plenty of options – great! – well done to the chefs and support crew – your efforts are recognised and appreciated by many. Entertainment – great – some amazing shows and plenty to keep us all amused – but still plenty of space on board to sit and relax with a book or a cocktail and people watch if you wished. Staff – excellent – not a bad word to say about any of them – each played a part in what was a great holiday experience. A big boat with a lot of people on board but very well managed and well organised – credit to the whole crew – well done and thanks! We had a 9.15am slot to assemble to leave the boat, were called at 9.20 and off the boat at around 9.30 and in a taxi - easy! Just read the info sheet they give you the night before and follow the instructions - Easy Read Less
12 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2017
I tried this ship as it was brand new, large and I wanted to see what RCL was like. The ship is impressive, with well presented cabins, lots of space and options for relaxing both inside and outside. I've never been on a ship with ... Read More
I tried this ship as it was brand new, large and I wanted to see what RCL was like. The ship is impressive, with well presented cabins, lots of space and options for relaxing both inside and outside. I've never been on a ship with so many recreational activities for kids. I even tried rock climbing. I've also never seen such a comprehensive gym on a ship and the pools were great. We travelled with a group of 6 people, all of us were over 50 with no children. Being in this category, the little pleasures we enjoy and look forward to on a cruise include good food and good coffee. Unfortunately, this ship didn't deliver any of these for us, and we were left disappointed. Talking to others on the ship, they were of the same opinion. We have previously travelled on Cunard, Princess and Holland America; all of which have wonderful food in their main dining rooms. I thought the standard on these lines is what all lines do, but soon found out that this was a bad assumption. Ovation food was akin to a home baked dinner - meat and three veg, plated as you would at home. It also tasted similar to basic home cooked meal. After discovering how bad the food was, we decided we will need to dine in the specialty dining rooms ($40-$50 per head), of which there were many. Unfortunately, everyone else had the same idea it appears, as there were no vacancies available. Also, after paying say $40 for chops grill, you would need to pay an additional $20 to get a good steak. I should note that you can pay extra in the main dining room for better food like a lobster, but I didn't as I didn't expect the meal to be presented or taste any better. Tried the windjammers buffet, it had plenty of options and was well laid out. It made for a good breakfast, but lunch and dinner was average. Unfortunately it closes early at 9pm. There is also no afternoon/high tea served. Getting a good espresso coffee was also disappointing. This was due to there being no table service, and was in a line for at least 15 minutes to place an order. Coffee only was served in disposable cups. Pastries, cakes and muffins were also substandard, and you could pay extra for some cakes if you wish. So, it was disappointing and I won't be doing an RCL cruise again. We love our cruises, but if this was my first cruise, it would have been my last. I hope other cruise lines don't start downgrading food and service to this standard, as that would be the end of doing cruises for me. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2017
Yes, there were long queues at embarkation but it's a world wide issue as port authorities ignore the need to rethink the embarkation process/facilities. All cruise lines are limited by the design of the terminals. Port authorities ... Read More
Yes, there were long queues at embarkation but it's a world wide issue as port authorities ignore the need to rethink the embarkation process/facilities. All cruise lines are limited by the design of the terminals. Port authorities need to allow for multiple entry points to the ships instead of funnelling thousands of passengers into one entry point. Enough said. Once on board, the Princess crew were all over the place providing assistance to locate our cabins. Food was already being served and it never stopped for the eleven days we were on board. The decor on the Emerald Princess is tasteful and subdued with a mix of many shades of blues and browns but lacking a little pizzazz. Nonetheless all areas and venues are clean and comfortable. Our mini-suite (D526) was immaculately clean and our cabin steward couldn't have been more helpful and responsive to our requests. As cabins go our mini-suite was very spacious and comfortable. When selecting the cabin, we didn't realise the balcony was open/visible to the decks above but worse, there was no relief from the sun. We did change the pillows for smaller ones as the standard ones were so big and luxurious we were almost smothered as our heads descended into pillow overload. The air-con all over the ship was on the cold side for my liking so make sure you take some longer sleeved items and a cardi/jacket. Of course you can buy on board! We didn't bother with the specialty dining venues (at additional cost) as the food in the main dining rooms was perfectly fine. A few misses but in the main, the options were many and varied and well cooked and presented. Still amazed at the precision and quality considering the number of passengers. We chose "anytime dining" and shared tables at lunch and dinner and we met many delightful people, some of whom we will keep in touch with. Great staff in the dining rooms too. We are not fans of buffets but when in port, it's the main eating venue on board. Food was fine. A tip for coffee lovers... there is often a long queue to order lattes etc. in the International Cafe (deck 5) despite having to purchase them. Just sit down at a table and flag a waiter who will order for you and deliver it to your table (even if you want takeaway). There is a variety of entertainment from musical stage productions, to comedy, mood music, ballroom dance lessons, line dancing, Zumba, a full gym, in cabin TV/movies, a giant screen for movies under the stars, a kids club, games on deck, art auctions, shopping sales, spa services, competitions, giveaways and if that's not enough you can attend churches services too! Excursions are not always good value for money but if you do your own thing you really need to do a lot of research beforehand and be aware if you don't get back to the ship on time, it doesn't wait for you! Some South Pacific Islands are really beautiful like Isle of PInes (not visited this trip) and Champagne Bay but Noumea is very tired looking and the locals not particularly friendly. Port Vila is run down and dirty but the people are all very friendly and chatty. Of course there is no need to go ashore as the entertainment just keeps going on board. We met many people who have cruised on Princess ships many times and some debatable incentives are offered for loyalty. There are still other cruise lines I wouldn't mind trying but I have no hesitation in recommending the Emerald Princess and may well cruise on her again. Read Less
26 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2017
Here's the feedback I gave Royal Caribbean on this cruise: The ship is beautifully designed with lots of natural light. There also seems to be more public space than Voyager, resulting in less queues and a much less crowded feel. ... Read More
Here's the feedback I gave Royal Caribbean on this cruise: The ship is beautifully designed with lots of natural light. There also seems to be more public space than Voyager, resulting in less queues and a much less crowded feel. I continue to find the pressure selling of everything from art to shoe inserts and supplements annoying. It's not a 'seminar' if it's really just another attempt to sell me something. It's a promotion. The techniques used for selling in the art auction are, in my opinion, highly unethical; give people a bit of alcohol and generate some mildly hypnotic frenzy. I believe this selling method would be prevented if you tried it in Australia. The stateroom was beautiful but dusty and the carpet was full of grit (sand?). The mattress was firm but okay however the pillows had been compressed to pancakes of filling with no loft or support. Perhaps take a look at the Ecodownunder brand of pillows; they come with a side zipper so that the filling can be restored or replaced. The food was outstanding (much better than Voyager) and the staff were exceptional. Sad to see Starbucks coffee has replaced good coffee and that staff have been directed to make more than one cup from a filled espresso cap. The coffee is really awful and the filter coffee in the restaurants is not much better. Fortunately this cruise had three Australian destinations; I wanted to bring coffee back on board! The chef's table was exceptional in terms of both food and service and I would highly recommend it to anyone travelling on the Radiance but why were we subjected to a very loud rehearsal right outside the dining room?! Our host apologised and told us it would only be another 20 minutes but it went on for another hour and half, and some of it was not pleasant to listen to. If you're going to charge $85 and promote something as an exclusive event then surely a quiet room is not an unreasonable expectation. The on board entertainment team are talented and joyful but why are the women put in those terrible, tired wigs? They look ridiculous and detract from the professionalism of the shows. Sad to see that two of the shows (City of Dreams and Tango) have been around since at least 2012! Isn't it time for something new? Also, can someone fix Melissa's sound please. I appreciate she has a big voice but putting echo on it and turning the volume up made it deafening. The gym is possibly one of the best at sea with beautiful views and great equipment. Good to see some free exercise classes being included in the program but why charge for the others? Surely free yoga is not a hard thing to offer. P&O now also provide a private yoga mat delivered to your room for anyone wanting to do their own yoga on deck (I packed my own mat knowing you didn't provide them). Sad to see that the jogging track still includes an unpleasant smokers area! Who wants to run through cigarette smoke! Given the diminishing number of smokers you might like to consider moving all of them to deck 5. It was also disturbing to see a smokers area right next to the pool where so many children are playing. Although this area is outdoors, the overhead cover means that smoke drifts along the deck and the smell reaches the solarium. Disgusting. Loved the cruise director's 'Thriller' classes and the final performance and also his 'great debates'. Pity the arts and crafts isn't a bit more challenging and interesting and I've often thought it would be good to see a dedicated craft room with kits available at reasonable prices so that guests could head there when it was open and find something creative to do. I've been to land based resorts that have similar and they work well. The space can be used for dedicated classes and also for self-directed craft activities. Perhaps different tables for things like jewellery making, plaster art, colouring in etc? This would also give crafty guests the opportunity to interact. Great to see the photographers have been taught to be less pushy since my last cruise with you. We bought a couple of lovely photos of the two of us and didn't feel pressured to either have more photos taken or to purchase more than we wanted. The onboard shopping experience continues to disappoint. RC once had a strong reputation for good shopping but the prices, once conversion rates are taken into account, are no better than onshore and there's some very serious issues with the way jewellery and watches are described and represented to customers. The various raffles had poor quality prizes and were clearly just a marketing tool to gather customers. The souvenirs in the shop were of good quality and probably a bit on the expensive side, but still appealing. It was great to see the inclusion of products by indigenous Australian artists. It's a pity they didn't get any mention in the Australia Day activities. The tipping policy continues to be a source of annoyance for Australian customers with lots of objections to the automatic deductions for those that didn't prepay. Once again, in Australia you'd be required to include this as part of the total price. You wouldn't be able to induce people with one price and then add a tipping surcharge without permission. The main reasons people are giving for switching to Princess over RC is the difference in tipping policy and the use of Australian currency when they are departing from Australia. I was particularly annoyed that even though I was paying $13.50 per person per day I was still hit with an enormous surcharge by the already expensive day spa. We only had one treatment there and then made arrangements for treatments on shore because the cost was around half. The pressure selling of products following treatment was also annoying. We took two shore excursions. Both involved too much time on the bus and not enough time at the destination. It would be useful if you put time estimates in the descriptions to help manage expectations. The trip to Hahndorf included a very loud and talkative driver (even though there was an onboard tour guide) who used his microphone to regale us with trivia questions, Dad jokes and stories about other countries where he's been a bus driver. I wanted to hear about Adelaide, not his personal adventures. He seemed to be allergic to any amount to quiet and the volume on his microphone was excessive, so we were all tired and annoyed following an hour and a half the Hahndorf and an hour and a half back again, particularly when we had so little time in Hahndorf. The Hobart trip was better with an excellent driver/commentator with good knowledge of the area's history but with only half an hour at the Botanic gardens this was little more than a toilet stop. Once again, knowing how much time was allocated to each activity would have avoided disappointment. The annoying thing about the Hobart trip was that there was ample time available. It was obviously a cost issue that resulted in the too-short stay at the gardens. Had I known I would have made my own onshore arrangements by taxi. It wouldn't have cost much more for the two of us and we could have actually seen something of the famous Botanical Gardens. There was a strong smell of sewerage near the entrance to the Colony Club for the whole of the cruise. This dissipated somewhat when you entered the room but remained strong enough that we couldn't stay there for any length of time. I suspect some kind of leak or ventilation problem. In spite of your marketing, around $13 per day for basic internet access is not a great deal. Princess has free internet. The arrangements for disembarkation on this trip were a nightmare. Due to the arrival of Ovation we were anchored in the harbour and tendered off. While guests were all given luggage tags and allocated departure times, there was no way for staff to verify who was entitled to be tendered and this resulted in many people lying to staff and queueing for earlier boats. The result was a time lag and a back log of angry customers, including many that missed trains home. I would recommend issuing tender tickets with luggage tags to prevent this. As an example, we were told we would be tendered off around 9.00am but in fact didn't get on a tender until 10.15 and didn't reach the terminal until 10.45. On arrival, the terminal at White Bay was a large temporary marquee which was supposed to be air conditioned but was, in fact, stiflingly hot. Passengers sitting and waiting for transfers were extremely uncomfortable. I was also concerned for the welfare of RC staff left standing in full sun in the middle of a heat wave. They should have at least had umbrellas. If asked about cruising I'd be inclined to recommend Princess over RC. I think Radiance is possibly the most beautifully designed ship given the sloped windows and the abundance of natural light, but the constant pressure selling, the tired traditional entertainment and activities, the gouging prices for the spa, the annoying tipping policy, the currency conversion hassles and the lack of free wifi all give Princess the edge. Read Less
12 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2017
this cruise chosen for itinerary and chance to visit very remote islands south of new Zealand the cruise was poor, accommodation, small and basic, food either good or bad, service mediocre. I have read salty1000 report and think he ... Read More
this cruise chosen for itinerary and chance to visit very remote islands south of new Zealand the cruise was poor, accommodation, small and basic, food either good or bad, service mediocre. I have read salty1000 report and think he must be an employee because this was not what happened on the ship. This ship charges top 5 star prices and gives 3 star value at best Expedition staff were knowledgeable but zodiac drivers were poor with no knowledge, most of the time they were dancers from the cabaret, or novice cadets The ship hit rocks off of the Snares islands and this meant returning to Bluff Harbour for emergency repairs. The itinerary was now severely shortened and specific Islands such as Antipodes and Bounty were missed, others including Mc Quarrie island went from 3 days to 3 hours or less. Everything was to blame of course except Ponant, weather, seas, laws and governments, we paid for a pre cruise tour and we did not get it, instead we stood outside of the ship in the sun waiting for the ship to be ready for embarkation Our cabins bed was a foldaway and barely adequate. the food was bland, cold and poorly served most of the time. The ships design is poor, too many disconnected areas, very little outside spaces of any note for £8000+ per person we expected more than they gave to us. NO we would not use this cruise line again, even with the on board bribe of _15-25% off of new Poanant cruises. Read Less
26 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2017
.We boarded the Sun Princess after 5-00pm in 38C heat in an building without aircon because of a ship sanitisation caused by the norovirus. Third cruise in a row as it turned out that the virus was on board and the third ship sanitisation. ... Read More
.We boarded the Sun Princess after 5-00pm in 38C heat in an building without aircon because of a ship sanitisation caused by the norovirus. Third cruise in a row as it turned out that the virus was on board and the third ship sanitisation. Sometimes 70 plus cabins reported illness overnight and so it went for the entire cruise. A challenging time for guests and crew. But when no-one was checking that guests washed their hands on day one so perhaps no surprise. The virus struck 2 days after embarkation and cases were reported on the last day of the cruise at sea. Questions have to be asked about food hygiene and cleaning procedures as the same cloth was used to wipe down seats and the tables in the buffet as well as clean up food spills by serving staff. Also the buffet offered almost warm and sometime cool food and the servers could be seen scaping cold food from near empty platters onto fresh food. The ship itself was in good condition and our cabin A352 cramped with a small TV and was just below the pool deck which made the cabin noisy early in the morning while crew set up tables and chairs above. So much for an unrequested upgrade given to us less than two weeks before the cruise so we could not ask that no change be made as we selected our cabin 7 months ago after checking Cruise Critic cabin reviews. Dining has fallen dramatically on the Sun P since our last cruise. No pizza bar, no pizza restaurant, no free ice ream. It was ironic that PL was launching the Curtis Stone Share Restaurant in the old Pizza free restaurant space during a norovirus crises where the spin was pushing the charm of passing around and sharing plates of food. The dining room food was uninspiring with small portions. The buffet. Well one had to be particularly ravenous to even contemplate many dishes presented. Cold, poorly presented, repetitive dull food with little taste and sometimes undercooked. Couldn't really spot much difference between lunch and dinner menus.Our airline food on the flight back home was gourmet in comparison. If the buffet was competing for business at our local shopping mall they would fail miserably. A vegetarian would go without on occasion and vegans would starve,healthy choice diners and low carb enthusiasts would suffer despair at what they saw. The entertainment was patchy but the PC dancers and singers were good. Maurizio in the atrium was a breath of fresh air and pleased everyone, what a cruise treasure he is.Good cabin TV programmes. Good to see deck chairs on the prom deck although the cruise staff failed in enforcing the smoking guidelines as smokers were smoking all around the prom deck unchallenged. Service was inconsistent as all crew were busy fighting the invisible norovirus which meant some crew had two jobs at peak times in the buffet and others were filling in for ill crew. Not many smiles and friendly service on this cruise nor a Captains cocktail party for past cruisers due the norovirus. Cruse director staff were invisible as none wanted to be in contact with the infected passengers. Many past guests expressed the view that they would now look to another cruise line. We enjoyed the Indonesian itinerary and the Komodo Island tour . The other tours were overpriced and we did our own thing on shore, a wonderful experience being shown around by the locals.. Would we go again? We are thinking hard about PL now as they appear to have made so many cuts the enjoyment on board is fast evaporating. Read Less
18 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2017
We chose this cruise as it fitted in with our annual company closedown in January each year, when we must take most of our annual holiday leave. The price was great for this peak holiday time in Australia. Both the embarkation and ... Read More
We chose this cruise as it fitted in with our annual company closedown in January each year, when we must take most of our annual holiday leave. The price was great for this peak holiday time in Australia. Both the embarkation and disembarkation processes ran extremely well, no queues All food was fresh and good quality, with the dining room providing gourmet meals each night. We initially asked for extra vegetables with our meal, thereafter a separate plate of steamed vegetables was automatically provided for our table to share each night. Dining room service was excellent. The free food on the swimming pool deck was welcome, we have cruised with other lines three times & always needed to pay for food outside the dining room & cafeteria. In addition, each day a self-serve Mexican food bar was set up on that deck, enabling us to enjoy tacos & nachos - the pulled beef was yummy! WE dined in the Pinnacle Grill for lunch on two occasions. For an extra US$10 per head for three courses plus tea or expresso coffee, this was most worthwhile. The prawn bruschetta (entree) & seafood in tomato broth (main) were highlights. We were each able to take a 750ml bottle of wine aboard on embarkation, which we could drink in our cabin. To take a bottle to the main dining room incurred a corkage fee of US$18. When we visited a wine region in New Zealand, we were each permitted to take a further bottle aboard for use in the dining room, without incurring the corkage fee. A good move by Holland America. The first sitting for dining was at 5.30pm, which meant we sometimes missed dining there due to still being ashore on port days, or missed viewing the ship's departure from ports as we were in the dining room. In hindsight we would choose the later dining option. Our major gripe was with the cost on internet on board the ship, very expensive. Also quite slow according to those who did use it. Accordingly, we waited for port days to use free wifi at local libraries or cafes. However, in NZ this was not always satisfactory as it appears they are still using 3G, at times we were unable to read incoming emails & text messages, & most times could not send emails, although text messages were fine. The entertainment on board was first class, ranging from an in-house band, in-house singers & dancers, to guest comedians, musicians, & singers. There were a variety of classes especially on sea days, including a unique series of computer classes dealing with all aspects of Windows 10, & also several computer Q & A sessions .Everyone found these classes very helpful. Other activities included cooking demonstration, DIY cocktails, galley tour, fitness classes, health & beauty talks, excursion previews, just to name a few. We didn't take any ship organised excursions, mainly due to cost. As we travelled with another couple, we hired cars at two ports to travel further afield, & noticed other groups especially families, did this as well. One excursion I saw advertised privately online prior to the cruise for NZ$50 (Napier town tour 1 hr), yet the ship charged US$69 for exactly the same tour, with the same company, which was double the price (taking into account the exchange rate). This is something cruise ships need to look at closely, to encourage more use of their own shore excursions. For the cost of our cruise, we would definitely sail with Holland America again! Read Less
13 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2017
We have never been to New Zealand and Australia before, and figured out that a cruise could be a good way to get a glimpe of this part of the world. The result exceeded our expectations. We had a great cruise and visited new, interesting ... Read More
We have never been to New Zealand and Australia before, and figured out that a cruise could be a good way to get a glimpe of this part of the world. The result exceeded our expectations. We had a great cruise and visited new, interesting places. We found the route to be beautiful. The ship was nice, the cabin very comfortable, the food was excellent. We liked the informal dinning at the buffets, however we tried the dinning room as well. Both served gourmet food. The main entertainment show performed twice every evening was weak in compare to other cruises, yet the ship's artists were good. The gym was good and well equipped. The service was terrific. The staff, mainly Indonesian, has been very friendly, efficient, ready to help and fluent in English. All other ships's facilities were good, clean and well maintained. Embarkation and disembarkation were short and easy. Shore excursions were unreasonably expensive. We hated to be "captive customers" so we organized our own tours once off the ship. Whenever we docked there was a tourists office with lots of tour suggestions. Holland America should seriously reconsider its tour exursions prices. Yet another constructive comment: The channel selection in the cabin TV is poor and should be augmented. Summary: A great cruise with a great company. We will certainly go again with Holland America. Read Less
18 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2016
This is a review of a 10 night New Zealand Cruise (Sydney to Sydney) on Ovation of the Seas departed Sydney on 30 Dec 2016 returning 9 Jan 2017. We flew in from New Zealna Ste day before the cruise and stayed at the Mantra on Bond ... Read More
This is a review of a 10 night New Zealand Cruise (Sydney to Sydney) on Ovation of the Seas departed Sydney on 30 Dec 2016 returning 9 Jan 2017. We flew in from New Zealna Ste day before the cruise and stayed at the Mantra on Bond Street which is a short 200 metre walk to Circular Quay where the cruise departed from. A nice apartment style hotel with good access to all the wonderful city of Sydney has to offer. On to the cruise itself.... Embarkation Was a bit of a nightmare, we (my wife and I) had a 12.30pm boarding time and turned up at 12.30 to find a large crowd outside the entrance to the overseas terminal. They had sensibly moved the reception and initial passenger processing outside to avoid large crowds inside. So whilst that aspect didn’t take too long there were very large crowds trying to get into the next stage inside the terminal. It seems that a lot of the very early groups (11am – 12 noon) had been turned away as the ship was still being cleaned so came back at 12.30/1.00pm. This was compounded by not turning away many who had later boarding times but had chanced an early arrival to try and board in advance of their scheduled time. The upshot was that 12.30 to 1.30 turned into chaos and it took almost two hours to board. A bit of discipline and management of those who attempt to board early would have solved this. It’s understandable to want to maximise your time on board but with 4500 passengers trying to get on, sticking to the time allocated is the only way to manage the queues and being firm with those who arrive early would have mitigated this to a large extent. Cabin We had a junior suite on deck 9 and it was great, about 30% larger than a regular balcony cabin, two full size reclining sun loungers on the balcony, largest TV we’ve had in a cabin, an extra half bathroom (toilet and basin), great shower over a nearly full size bath and a jug, enabling tea to be made in the morning!! We were almost exactly midship so it was about a fifty metre walk in either direction to the lifts (waiting for the lifts is almost a full time sport onboard). Dining This was pretty disappointing. We’ve cruised on 10 previous occasions (twice with RCCL, Norwegian, P&O, Oceania; once with Princess and Cruise & Maritime) and the main dining room fare was down there with the worst we have had. That’s not to say it was terrible, just really average for the most part and the menus were much more limited in scope than on previous cruises. This may be due to the size of the ship but it was certainly way below our experience on the Rhapsody a couple of years’ back which was way up there in terms of quality. We usually like to sit at share table during dinner and a number of others were making similar observations about the food quality and scope of the menus. We ate at two of the specialty restaurants (Jamie’s Italian and Chops). My wife liked Jamie’s but I was a little underwhelmed by the quality (particularly versus the additional cost). Chops was easily the best meal we had on board and of a very good standard. Windjammer and the rest of the buffet style places were much as you’d expect with the usual crowds at the usual times. Some good aspects, I did like the 270 Café area and the fact that you could get your own style of salad and the range of sandwiches in there was good. NB - Bottled wine in the restaurants started at around $35 (with a fairly limited selection at that price point). Coffee I’m a very occasional coffee drinker, so won’t comment on the quality of the specialty (at additional cost) coffees but a ship this size should have more than three outlets providing them as the queues for “proper” coffee were always lengthy. Bars A lot of them! Prices were in line with just about everyone else, a typical order for us of a beer and a glass of wine was $15 in most cases. The range of beer and wine was again about usual; would be nice if a larger range of beer could be included other than just the usual standard and fairly tasteless range of lagers. I did discover some Sierra Nevada Pale Ale but although there weren’t many drinking it, it ran out with two days to go. All of the bars and restaurants have an individual feel and character about them (combined with some truly great artwork on board all over the ship by the way). The one disappointing bar was perhaps the one I was most interested in, Michaels Genuine Pub on Deck 4. It doesn’t have a great atmosphere being very open to the shopping and public spaces, nor any significantly greater range of beers than is otherwise available and charges additional $$ for some fairly unimaginative “pub grub”. Service The service was typically enthusiastic and really good in almost every aspect. The one slight dud note was the main dining room service. We had My Time dining so were limited to the level 4 dining rooms in the evening (the level 3 dining rooms are for those who had fixed times). Almost every night there was some kind of foul up. Either there was a miscalculation as to whether a table was free and how many seats it had available, twice our greeter couldn’t find the table they were looking for (despite carrying a map of the dining room!), wine was spilt upon ordering or the wine waiter didn’t know what they had in stock. It seemed as if they were a fairly new dining crew without any specialist wine waiters and it showed in the errors being made. They were as mentioned, really enthusiastic and keen to help, but just lacking some basic training or knowledge. Everywhere else was great and our room steward was a particular star. Fitness Centre/Gym I thought I’d put something in about this area on deck 16 as it is the best I have encountered in all the cruises we’ve taken. I used it 7 times over the ten night trip and whilst it could get busy, I never found it overcrowded, had a great range of equipment and floor space. Really top quality. Entertainment We’re not usually big on attending the production shows but those we saw on this trip were outstanding and you can see the benefits of a large entertainment staff and the quality of the lighting, sound and technology they have available. Particular highlights were the Live, Love, Legs show in the main theatre and the Pixels show in the 270 lounge (which is a great venue). Pretty much everything we saw was up with the best we have seen previously. I liked the Cruise Director Joff Eaton, who is really good at managing a crowd during the dance parties and runs a great quiz. Quick witted and smart. We went to bingo a couple of times and Roxanne the presenter of that is really good as well, the only downside of that is the price. However the cash prizes were high, attendance good and one lady won $7600 at the end of the cruise (we were one of those sweating on one number at the end….!). Onboard Activities Tried the bumper cars (excellent, despite the always large queues), the North Star (good, but you’d only do it once) and IFly the freefall experience (really fun). A good range of presentations including a really interesting one on the history of RCCL done over two separate days, a meet the captain session and a few others which were all worthwhile, well attended and run. Ports We live in NZ and (apart from Fiordland) had been to all the destinations before, so didn’t have any organised tours arranged and I can’t comment on how good or otherwise they might have been. Fiordland We had good weather (by Fiordland standards) insofar as it didn’t rain and wasn’t too cold. This a very remote and fascinating part of the world and the ship bought on a specialist on the area to provide commentary over the PA system and a presentation in the theatre throughout our passage in the three fiords. Speaking of the PA system, it would have been great if you could hear announcements in your room. I appreciate you don’t want to interrupt or wake people up, but making it available on one of the TV channels couldn’t be too hard surely? Dunedin A good destination slightly spoiled by appalling weather, cold (about 13 degrees) and wet all day. We took the bus ($15 each for the port shuttle!) into the city, took a walk round and had lunch before returning to the ship. Pity about the weather as there was a pipe band to greet and farewell the ship and it was the first visit for the Ovation to Dunedin, having had to cancel the previous stop due to bad weather. Wellington Our home town, so we called into our place to change some clothes and take care of some domestic tasks! One observation about Wellington, it was the biggest port on this voyage but we arrived at 1pm leaving only half a day to see the city. The itinerary could have perhaps gone to Picton next and left a full day in Wellington for the last port of call. The weather was great on arrival but about 3.30pm the southerly storm that followed us up from Dunedin blew in and dropped the temp by ten degrees and bought sweeping rain and wind with it. Napier Great stop, perfect weather. The city put on lots of displays and activities, loads of good transport to and from the ship and everyone we spoke to after seemed to have enjoyed it. Picton Again, great weather greeted us. This is a very small port, with the ship doubling the population of the township. I think most did winery tours or other activities but there was a nice market set up on the foreshore, we stayed for lunch at one of the pubs and spent the afternoon catching some sun on board. There was a great sail away through the Marlborough Sounds. Disembarkation Much smoother than getting on, we walked our own bags off, and upon shutting the door to our cabin for the last time at 8am were off the ship and out the terminal by 8.15am. Summary As those of you who have got this far can tell it was for us a bit of a mixed bag and on balance we probably wouldn’t do another ship of this size. Doing things and getting places on board takes time and there were loads of queues and crowds for most things. As a consequence the many positives didn’t quite outweigh some of the frustrations or shortcomings for us at least. That said, this is a really great ship for large groups (especially prevalent during this New Year sailing) and has great activities and options for teenagers and smaller children. Read Less
20 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2016
Ovation of the Sea- Syd/Tas/NZ/Syd 15th December 2016 Embarkation/Disembarkation Ironically Ch9 was doing a live telecast from the ship and they were heavily promoting it as the “ Love Boat” including the presenters heads in ... Read More
Ovation of the Sea- Syd/Tas/NZ/Syd 15th December 2016 Embarkation/Disembarkation Ironically Ch9 was doing a live telecast from the ship and they were heavily promoting it as the “ Love Boat” including the presenters heads in buoys !, it should have been a warning. Our experience has shown from “Allure” and now “Ovation” that RCL has this down to “pat” and all move fairly quickly and smoothly providing people stick to the RCL guidelines and time slots given with your paperwork, the hold ups ,if any, normally comes from Customs, having said that, both on and off the ship on the 15th/30th December was very fast for us. Plenty of Taxi’s were also available. Cabin etc Our balcony cabin was on deck 13 and it was a little longer than normal, however, it was not as wide, therefore the balcony was very small, having said that, it worked well for us, the shower in these smaller type rooms was very roomy and possibly one of the better we have experienced in the thousands of nights we have now spent at sea over the decades- there was no toiletries. We booked this cruise 8 months out to experience the ”premium ship” and the “bells n whistles”, we were told by RCL themselves at the time of booking that deck 13 was the only cabins ( at a premium) that were available, this we have since found out not to be true, deck 13 has above it the Pool and the Windjammer- therefore I would not recommend this even if it was the “last of the balconies” The “paperless” approach that is being taken left the room with NO information in relation to how to do anything unlike previous cruises where there was a iPad in your room to book shows etc.,( or the TV) this was not the case nor was our TV working and when it was fixed it did everything other than ROYAL IQ, ( there are 2 iPad’s at the elevators so you will need to line up at times) It appears there is at least 2 balcony cabin “layouts” a. with the bed closer to the bathroom and the divan next to the balcony door/window and b. the other way round. If you like lying in bed and looking at the ocean then make sure you have layout “b” although it is a tight squeeze between bed and window. A very common complaint from many women was that the toilet paper was rough and a thin single sheet of poor quality so you may consider bringing on your own, albeit it this is supposed to be a “premium ship and cruise” where you are paying up to 30% more for a similar itinerary on a similar “star” ship The TV in the cabin has a great picture, it has the normal channels HOWEVER it doesn’t offer the movie that was shown the day before and your only offering in movies is to purchase them at US$ 12 so a movie will end up costing you around AUD$ 15-18 ! there is no on board Show Channel because there is a total lack of this type of entertainment on the ship. The telephone has Chinese as the 1st language and English the 2nd as with much of the information on the ship. Ports The good itinerary ( only port lacking was Napier) started with our first port of call Hobart with all as expected, however we ran into very poor weather and had 3 days of the “premium bells n whistles” shut down while crossing the Tasman from Hobart to Milford Sound where we entered the sound and sat for 6 hours having being told the day before we would be not calling into Dunedin and instead going up the west side of the south island into Wellington, then onto Picton a fantastic small port that each year keeps re inventing / improving itself for cruise passengers ( much like Napier has) and certainly a port you want you to go back to then onto Tauranga ( the locations is really the port of Mount Maunganui and you can get a “express bus” into Tauranga for $10 return. (It amazes me for over a decade they have been charging / treating tourists all over NZ that a AUD$/US$/GBP has the same value as a NZ$ and in many cases will give you back a NZ$ for change, this is so petty and shows such a poor light to visitors and why the NZ Tourist Commission hasn’t put a stop to it fails me) such is the case in this port. What I found amazing is there was no port “sail away” music in any port and what you must see is this clinical uninviting ship steam out to sea, in Tauranga a perfect opportunity was lost of promoting the ship and the perception of the cruise when we had possibly 10,000 people crowded onto the beach, docks, jetty and rooftops and a fantastic flotilla of around 50 craft that stayed with us all the way out until the pilot got off and still not one single happy party Sail Away music was to be heard, really sums up the ship, not inviting, not fun, not appealing, Then it was onto Auckland and the shock was it is a tender port ! but the worse part was still to come in that the ( I will use RCL daily Compass “we will be offering a FREE return tender service- WOW FREE TENDER AYE”) was that the tenders didn’t go into Queens Warf or Princes Warf but down into Viaduct Marina some 7 blocks away from Queens street ! Downtown Queens St is all gone ( yes even the Warehouse gone!) so maybe given 12 months there will be a more visitor useful and friendly region but at the moment those who head straight to that part of town will find it a long long walk to find all has changed. The additional problems of the tenders is that both the marine and foot traffic caused mayhem for both locals and cruisers & requires RCL to be much more firmer with Auckland Council and say it is Queens or Princes Warf or nothing to be honest IMHO. There is no Map or Information relating to ANY of the ports to take ashore. If you haven’t booked a Shore Excursion your on your own so to speak. FOOD The ship is homed in China and what we saw was the Chinese Head Chef, the Sous Chefs, Chefs and Cooks are Chinese far more than normal on a RCL cruise and to be honest it trashed the RCL brand as they simply can’t do western food, the offerings were/are the same every night and bland, and as far as cakes / sweets they have no idea, the same 2cm square cake/deserts in a different color on tray after tray, meal after meal, and as for pastries there is none, other than the “Danish” for breakfast. As a example the Napoleon slice is “pastry” and filled with some water based gunk product with no cream in sight, just not worth the calories and as for the red velvet cake it is coloured sponge and very poor. If you enjoy this part of your meal give the entire ship a miss at this stage. ENTERTAINMENT RCL have at every point of entertainment gone out to break the 80/20 rule to prove you can ruin a great brand and product in one or 2 cruises. Ovation was to be a premium cruise, on a premium brand, and what they delivered was substandard offerings at almost every point. The “bells n whistles” of this ship that people were prepared to pay up to 30% more than other cruises were, when they were working, or if you could get a booking for the few, offset by poor overall entertainment. If you are a child/teenager or part of the lycra set ( the gym is well equip however ALWAYS overly crowded) then you would have had a fair sort of time with things to do, however, as for the other 4000 passengers, you were left with Trivia every hour and THAT WAS IT in general ! , the Daily Planner ( I am sure someone called it that in jest) was so sparse of things to do that they repeated in a space of one hour the same feature ( ie Flow Rider) 3 or 4 times so the 6 or 7 items made it look like there was entertainment on the ship for most of the guests day after day. On a ship with 4600 guests the Morning Show has a following where maybe as many as six (6) people will do a shout out, or answer the riddle of the day, and that starts the Cruise Directors day with more trivia with his side kick the “Activities Manger” and I use that term very loosely, taking part and promoting her Zumba class in between the commercials to spend more money on everything you can think of. While both seem like nice people, the cruise director apart from self-promotion and a narcissistic self indulged plugging his DVD you can buy on boardwalk and what Trivia he is taking on the day is about it as there is nothing else on. The manager of the Windjammer has daily jokes & thoughts and had everyone up doing the twist so he was offering more entertainment that the Cruise Director. The entertainers and what shows there are on a 2nd or 3rd rate and not what RCL is renowned for, I guess that is because of the large Chinese numbers. Because of the lack of entertainment when there is something on the rooms are far too small to seat a ship of 4600 people, therefore you are asked to stand ( even in a 90 min movie!)if you can cram in BELLS N WHISTLES Most of these were all shut down with 3 days of bad weather and the results were disastrous. SEAPLEX-huge open floor capable of hosting everything from basketball, soccer & cricket etc and often around 200-300 people would gather to watch or participate CIRCUS SCHOOL- on Seaplex and you would have maybe up to 50 people involved DOGGEM CARS- on Seaplex and averaged the same group of people however too many breakdowns spoilt it for many. Flow Rider- fantastic ride however with only 2-20 at any given time wanting to use it again its also for a select few- you can pay for private lessens. IFLY- another fantastic experience HOWEVER on the 5th day of the entire cruise, it was totally booked out ( for your 58 second fly) and you had to really fight to even get in the hope of being so grateful to be considered as a standby- disgraceful- having said that, on the final day some had been able to get as many as 3 or 4 flys in, so the management of this was sloppy, poor & possibly not Kosher ?. NORTH STAR- again this was totally booked out and what was decided was that the 30min ride and 360 degree would be cut back to 10 mins and a up and down experience only, not the promised 360 degree experience- shabby and nothing more than a very basic outdoor experience. The problem is the ship has too many passengers with too few timeslots available for some of these experiences and I would be wary of paying such a premium cruise price to maybe get on these. BIONIC BAR – primitive robotic arms and primitive software driving it ( my wife has a “Scan n Cut” that has far more clever software) and is really below the standard of some of the other “B n W” offered on the vessel –still it is on board revenue for RCL SUMMARY Despite my poor review of Ovation, we love the RCL brand and product, however this ship is not for those that like what you normally get from RCL. The ship is not the best in “southerly” winds and is terrible in swells, the lack of entertainment is the worst we have experienced and certainly not up to a premium cruise. There was a gastro outbreak on board however little wonder when you consider the poor hygiene some of those passengers had. A excellent format was when entering Windjammer you were sent to a washing room with maybe 10 taps and soap to wash your hands, however the failure here is the staff is more interested in saying washi washi than having someone ( or video) in the room to make sure that passengers DID wash their hands or simply walk through it as many did as was the case with certain groups, and on several occasion I watched as people took the USED paper towels out of the rubbish bin and wiped their hands with them-RCL need to understand that if you have charged a premium price for a cruise then you need to offer some entertainment for the masses and not keep trying to squeeze the lemon to the point where people on principle do not want to spend any more money to go to seminars or additional charges for entertainment. The sooner Ovation gets back to her home port in China the better and let RCL Australia recover from this terribly planned season on a substandard cruise experience. Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2016
We chose this cruise as it was its first time in Australia they over emphasised the fact because when we got on our interpretation from the advertising was different the services were appauling. When we embarked we waited 3 hrs just to ... Read More
We chose this cruise as it was its first time in Australia they over emphasised the fact because when we got on our interpretation from the advertising was different the services were appauling. When we embarked we waited 3 hrs just to embark the line was huge and there was no effort to keep the line moving. We eventually got on and on one of the nights the ship movement was bad mostly everyone was sick, a ship like this isn't designed for Australian waters, during the night of a couple of the nights the noise from the ocean was bad as the walls and windows aren't sound resistent. Our stateroom attendant was very helpful all the way through and was very assitive. The food was appauling as they all had similar or same menus , windjammer was just basic and waiting for resturants was dissapointing. The cruise was good for those injured on crutches or in a wheeelchair as they would get priority. Entertainment for kids was good but to line up for activities was rediculous we waited 1 and a half hrs for bumper cars , had to book for Ifly, limited availability for roller skating sessions. Being on deck 3 was terrible as you could here everything. I would never travel on this ship again and it was my children's first time so we were dissapointed and unsure whether we would cruise again with royal Caribbean. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2016
This cruise was our 6th overall and third with Holland. We did our first 3 cruises with Princess but they were full of noisy and unruly children whose parents did not even try to control them. The staff and crew of our Princess cruises did ... Read More
This cruise was our 6th overall and third with Holland. We did our first 3 cruises with Princess but they were full of noisy and unruly children whose parents did not even try to control them. The staff and crew of our Princess cruises did not seem to care that many of the children were running amuck with no parental supervision. We found that Holland caters to a more mature clientele and that suits us just fine. I believe that there were only 5 or 6 children on the Maasdam out of 1138 passengers. The service was outstanding and the port stops were more than satisfying. I particularly want to give a shout out to the management and crew of the Lido dining room as well as the people who ran room service. We like to hike and found several very nice trails at Mauganui, Picton and Akaroa. These trails were all within walking distance of the port. I have seen some not so good reviews of the Maasdam but all I can say is that these folks would probably complain if their heads were in a vise. Read Less

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