A beautiful ship, and a good choice for families, but there are much better cruise choices for couples. Plus, for this number of passengers, there's really not enough space for everything they've built on the ship.
5 out of 5
The central location (Circular Quay) made it very convenient to embark. With no lines, the check-in process was quick and easy.
Food and Dining
2 out of 5
The main dining rooms were nice enough, but lack the grandeur of many other ships we've been on. It seems they've tried to squeeze as many people in as they can to the 4 MDR's. The menu's lack imagination, and feel like they are repeated every week, while the food itself is bland and poorly presented. Also, what shows up on your plate can be a surprise versus the description on the menu. The wait staff, however, are fun and excellent.
Of the 3 specialty restaurants, we loved Wonderland (a fun and imaginative experience), but really felt that Jamie's and Chop Grill failed to live up to expectations.
The Windjammer Marketplace, the main buffet, was good, but again, lacked taste or imagination. The burgers are frankly disgusting, the salads limited in options, and the place gets far too packed. In fact, you can walk around for 10 or 15 minutes trying to find a seat, by which time your food is cold. There is simply not enough seating available for the number of passengers, and there are frequent announcements for people who have finished eating to get up and get out so others can eat. The really weird thing about the buffet is that the wait staff were very prompt at clearing tables, but never wiped them down. We frequently had to go find somebody to wipe down the tables before we could sit down and eat.
As far as drinks go, it's expensive. Bottles of wine are marked up 4,5 or 6 times versus US retail prices, and the wine was virtually all Californian or Australian. Liquor and cocktails were about average pricing versus other cruises we've taken. It's easy to run up a huge drinks bill.
The thing we didn't appreciate was the lack of enforcing their own dress code rules, printed every day. Whether casual or formal dress night, people would come into the dining rooms with beach shorts and flip flops - I don't want to be looking at people's ugly dirty toes whilst having my dinner. Either take away the rules or enforce them.
3 out of 5
It seems that they simply tried to pack too much into the ship's design. It's a beautiful ship, but top heavy with lots of activities. The North Star viewing arm is wonderful in ports, but only takes 15 people at any one time, so wait times can be long if reservations aren't being taken. We didn’t do the other activities which are really designed for younger people (we are 57).
4 out of 5
The theatre shows were your typical cruise ship shows. The Two270 shows were much more imaginative though, and the digital wall is fabulous. The bands we listened to were okay and fun.
We're travelling as a couple, and our children are grown.
Service and Staff
5 out of 5
We felt this is the one area in which the cruise really stood out. The staff are excellent, fun and friendly, and it seems that moral is generally very high. This makes a huge difference to your vacation.
3 out of 5
Cleanliness is excellent but overall Ship Design is poor. There's a strong feeling that the ship just has far too much going on, and with such a large passenger capacity (5k), it makes available space a premium. There's nowhere to truly relax and appreciate some down time. It's all about the sports activities, the food, the shopping. The main pool area is small, with a good/fun children's water area, the indoor pool is often noisy, whilst we loved the Solarium, but again, space was at a premium.
The public areas were very well maintained and typically very clean.
Cabin / Stateroom
5 out of 5
Our cabin was wonderful.. Appropriately sized, with a comfortable bed and sofa, and enough drawers and wardrobe space for both of us. The bathroom was good, with a nice shower. The balcony was good, and the provision of ottomans with the chairs meant we really could relax on the balcony. Our cabin steward adapted well to our seemingly random hours, and always ensured it was very clean.
Be prepared to spend money! Whilst so much is free, thinks like drinks and wine are expensive, and shore excursions are the most expensive we've ever seen on our 20+ cruises with different cruise lines.
It was fun to cross this off the bucket list, but the ship made light of it. They gave us all a certificate for crossing the equator, but not the date line. It was weird though, being so far ahead of the world then suddenly Saturday was 48 hours long and we were behind the whole world!
This is the only port where we had booked an excursion, and we're glad we did. Everybody said you should stay on the water to appreciate the island, but wow - the views from up the mountains are to die for!
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