We wouldn't have thought about a cruise except the ad in the Sunday paper seemed to good to be true. I am pleased to announce that it was true.
What an experience! The most outstanding feature was the quality of the food. It was like dining at a 5 star restaurant every night and we now have the kgs to prove it. I made a rule never to use the lift and I am sure the constant stair ascent/descent stopped a few kgs from finding the midriff. We discovered that cruising is a way of life where you can do as little or as much as you want.
Cruising is a way to 'sample' parts of the world and then retreat back to your haven to lick your wounds (hardly!)- It's a lifestyle really. Being a first time cruiser I could find nothing to complain about however we did overhear people complaining about a number of things but 'the entertainment' as the most common. Mind you there were many 'serial' cruisers on this trip so they had lots of experiences to compare to the stage I thought some were becoming serial whingers! I thought the dancing in some of the the entertainment was just superior to a high school musical but the costumes were great and I enjoyed the shows. I was disappointed that people were mean with their applause. Regardless of the standard, the performers did their best. I have to give 'Maurizio' the honour of best performer. He had so much personality and managed to get people on to the dance floor with little effort.
Each day there is morning show on your cabin TV presented by the Cruise Director. We found this informative, entertaining and amusing and it gave some structure to the operation of the ship and the wonderful staff who gives the staff a persona. One morning it was announced that the average age on the ship was 63 but I am sure the average was skewed by a minority of younger people. I would have thought the average age was 70+. This is not a problem if you are not expecting a 'party' ship (although our group of 4 managed a couple of parties and danced some nights away!). Which brings me to the price of the drinks on board. $US6-7 for a cocktail is not too bad and a bucket of beers (5 beers) was $21USD. Bottles of wine were about $US30 so we limited these (most nights!). Fortunately we were permitted to bring wine aboard at our stops so managed to have predinner drinks in the cabin which was a nice touch.
Internet prices were outrageous but no-one says you have to use it - if you want it you pay for it. Because we had so much Australian content on this cruise, I took my laptop and my Telstra USB wireless stick which worked all the way until we left Australia.
I was going to buy the soft drink pass but worked out I would be flat out drinking $USD 4 per day but we did buy 2 coffee passes. It worked out about $21USD for 15 coffees so well worth it if you like good coffee (or specialised teas). If you buy coffee without the pass it's $3 each.
Unfortunately you can not escape the necessity to wash clothes. Each deck has a laundry comprising washers, dryers, irons and ironing boards. The laundry gets very busy so I would use it around 6pm when most people were heading off to tea. The machines cost $1USD (4xquarters)which is very reasonable. I took a packet of "Colour Catcher" sheets so I could wash white and colours together. Once washed I would hang all my clothes on hangers (or on the round peg thing I bought from the $2 shop before I left) in my cabin. There is heaps of room for hanging clothers. The next day I would just put them in the dryer to finish them off if required. If we hadn't been so tight I guess we could have paid for our laundry to be done but I did encounter a lady who had a lovely white blouse ruined.
All in all it was a wonderful trip and exceptional value (we paid ie $2990 which included airfare from Brisbane to Sydney to join the cruise and Qantas flight home from Bangkok to Brisbane via Sydney).