Australia and Oceania Things to Do Tips by Kakapo2 Top 5 Page for this destination
Australia and Oceania Things to Do: 332 reviews and 858 photos
Internet on board is an expensive pleasure.
Internet connections on board are via satellite and come at a price. You can buy a card for the use at the three or four internet terminals on the Atlantis Deck.
We calculated that one minute online cost about AU$ 3. So if you are not rich and do not have an emergency you better wait until you get ashore. There were internet cafés everywhere, and even in French Polynesia it was a lot cheaper than on the ship.
A tender lowered in the waters off Bora Bora.
This was queueing big time in front of a small desk in the Promenade Lounge on Deck 9, and annoying from the first to the last day.
Whereas you could understand that you needed tender tickets for the small shuttle boats that ferry passengers to ports where such big cruise ships cannot land but only anchor at a certain distance off the shore, it was just not acceptable that you had to queue for disembarkation tickets and then queue again to disembark with this ticket.
They were even able to create a big queue in Raiatea where we could only disembark after four-hour long negotiations in Papeete, due to the swine flu scare. Instead of letting the passengers who were ready to go off the ship when we got the all clear, they waited until all passengers had finished lunch, got off the swimming pool… you get the idea… So all 1900 passengers minus the quarantined ones were crammed together in the stairway, then the ones with the correct disembarkation tickets called had to fight their way through the crowds to the exit, queue for the temperature measuring with infrared cameras…
This ship often really felt like a prison…
Lucky me my husband queued for the tender and disembarkation tickets. You had to queue at least one hour before they gave out the tickets if you wanted to get off the ship early.
In those queues hubby and other people learnt some lessons for life. For example this one: Be only polite to people who have deserved it, not only because they are old(er). Old people, and there especially women, were the most horrible queue jumpers, some even got nicknames for being so impertinent, like a dark-haired granny they named Pushy. There were even physical fights, with elbows involved. Those people arrive one hour later than all the others and place themselves in front of the queue, and claim somebody who has been sitting in the queue for half an hour does not really queue…
Pushy BTW did not only try to jump queues on the ship, she also tried it at a car rental in Raiatea. Of course, when several people wanted to return their cars or scooters, and she arrived after all of them, she was the only important person who even had to get back to the ship in time… Unlucky her I could tell the guy at the counter in French who would be the last one to be served and not get on the first shuttle ;-)
On another occasion when Pushy and some other queue jumpers had placed themselves in good positions for disembarkation tickets, one of hubby’s queueing buddies asked for 50 tickets – and got them! So she could give them to all the people who had been queueing for an hour. Imagine these arguments and the yelling LOL
I was told the whole queueing chaos, not only for disembarkation and tender tickets, is to blame on the captain. Other people who had cruised on the same ship before said there had not been any queues, it is all a matter of organisation, and if a captain gives the wrong instructions and the staff are not properly trained, you get what we got. Queues. The swine flu scare and the norovirus epidemic were just lame excuses for the chaos.
When we got all the queues at the buffets due to the norovirus, we renamed our cruise ship into a Queues Ship.
Photo of such a queue on the intro page.
Tender shuttles between the ship and Savusavu.
If you had not booked shore excursions with P&O, you got the stamp of a second-class passenger. Those people who had booked those hugely expensive tours were ferried off the ship, whereas all others had to queue for tender and disembarkation tickets.
I am sure some of the organised shore tours were quite nice, we were not only NOT interested in them for the exaggerated costs but also because we did not want to tour around in buses with 50 people we saw on the ship all the time, and being ferried to souvenir and factory shops, and get on and off the buses, and wait until the last centenarian had taken his/her photo, and waste all this precious time. We wanted to get more authentic impressions of a country/island than in cultural dance, fire, or music or whatever show.
It proved – apart from Samoa where they had given our rental car to somebody else who wanted it for a week and not just for the day – very valuable that I had organised ground transportation from home. Some people wanted to rent cars and scooters on site, and quite a number were successful. But others did not get any rental vehicle because there just were not enough for the lot of people all arriving at the same time at the same place.
We knew where we had to go to from the wharf, so did not even have to queue for our vehicles. This was very straight forward. I would highly recommend to do it this way if you want to circumnavigate or cross the islands and get in touch with the locals.
You can be lucky or unlucky if you book organised tours on your own. We know of a couple who had booked a boat tour to a cave – but never got there because unfortunately they had picked the company that also did P&O’s shore tour, and so they had to wait until the last passenger from the ship arrived, and they were so late that they could not get to all destinations that had been on the itinerary. The only positive thing was that they paid less than the people who had booked with P&O.
Kimi went to the gym, too ;-)
We went to the gym daily on days at sea – but you had to plan the visit carefully, which meant: go early in the morning to avoid overcrowding of the ridiculously tiny room with just four treadmills, three cross-trainers, two bicycles, a few fitness machines and a selection of dumbells for potentially 1900 people.
Of course, not everybody wanted to go to the gym, lucky us and the rest of the avid sports people, and some passengers would not even have been able to pass through the narrow doors. But it was hopeless to roll out one of the mats for situps and other such exercises, or use the Swiss balls. You cannot expect to get a full workout, there are not enough machines and not enough space. Probably 50 square metres, like a generous lounge in a family home.
I did not give it a thought, and there was no warning in the P&O Cruise Guide that it could be wise to bring an adaptor plug if you go on one of their cruises. The ship’s home dock is in Australia, it sails around Australia, New Zealand and the islands of the South Pacific, and nearly all passengers were Kiwis – but the power plugs outside the cabins are not the same as in all those countries. Instead they are American and European. So I could use my laptop in the cabin only where you have a selection of Australian/NZ, European (220 V) and American (115 V). Had I known, I would either have bought a new battery for my laptop, or brought our plug adaptors from home. We have plenty of them.
The real joke, however, is not the fact that they do not have Aussie/NZ power plugs in the lounges and other general areas (everywhere where they plug in their vacuum cleaners), but that they do not sell adaptor plugs in any of the shops on board, and there are none for hire, the stewards and just no other staff do have any. At least our steward knew that the problem occurs all the time, and that one passenger succeeded to buy an adaptor in Suva – which, lucky us LOL, was the last stop of our cruise.
In whichever cabin you stay, you hear through the walls when your neighbour sneezes, talks at high voice, or does… whatever. And if it is only getting into arguments. (Also read my story: “Fun with Dick and Jane”.) Even if you have a cabin near the end of the truly long corridors, there are always enough people who think they have to chat at full volume about their adventures or boredom of their days and nights right in front of your cabin when returning from the casino at 2am. The walls are just plastic panels which do not keep any noise from you. So if you do not want to be woken up in the middle of the night, do not forget to bring earplugs. If you can’t sleep with a shimmer of light, either close your eyes ;-) … or bring those masks you get on the airplanes, as there is a gap at the bottom of the door, so the light from the corridor shines into your cabin.
While in the cabin, do not talk bad about your cabin neighbours if they are in their cabin and not deaf. They would hear every word. I might be a bit paranoid about this, but after writing down Dick and Jane’s dialogues, I only whispered when I talked about delicate topics, as I did not want to share our private life and thoughts with strangers.
Other people have not reported any such noise problems, or being able, better: being forced to hear your neighbours’ talk (and more…). We suspect the metal cable cover bars above the beds conducted the noise. On the other hand, we were surely not in the only cabin with such technical fittings…
Especially at the bow of the ship you would also want to use earplugs because you hear the crashing of the waves, chains being lifted and anchors being lowered with huge noise.
View from the door to the mock window.
We had booked an inside cabin because I am no sea eagle or sea lion, and am very respectful towards the vastness, emptiness and depth of the ocean, and thought it would be better not to see the waves in case of high seas… A big mistake, as I already noticed on the first day. You wake up and have no idea how the weather is. (Where you are does not really matter in the early stages of the cruise because you see nothing but water and the one or other albatross.) So you have to get up to the deck first to find out and eventually change your clothes. (Well, you can check if it rains or if the sun on your in-cabin TV, but you do not know if it is warm or cold. But sure, people in outside cabins do not know this either, as – for good reason – the windows cannot be opened.)
This again does not matter on a sea day, as you have plenty of time. But if you get out of the sun and back into your cabin it would be nice to see when the sun is going to set, or – in the morning – to rise. I have learnt quickly that you can close the curtains if you do not want to see scary waves… ;-) (No need to pull the mock curtains in an inside cabin LOL) So, if I ever go on a cruise again, I will surely opt for an outside cabin. The price difference is minimal.
What really annoys me is that you cannot book a certain cabin on the Upper Deck. You only learn it upon check-in – although this just confirmed the cabin number we had got in our so-called online Cruise Personaliser. And it was a cabin right at the bow of the ship which I deplored. I had wanted a midship cabin because of my fearful respect of the sea. I had NOT wanted to go one deck higher (Promenade) where I could have booked the cabin of my choice because this deck already is under public spaces, like lounges and restaurants. So in those rooms you hear tables and chairs being moved around, trolleys rolling and crashing against I do not know what, etc. Our friends who had a cabin on the Promenade Deck confirmed this. But they had a much smoother ride, as they were near midship, and they were amazed how horribly shaky our cabin was. They thought they would have thrown up on many occasions, not just the two rough nights we encountered.
The common cabins are very basic and not fancy at all. Although they are small and efficient, they are bigger than the rooms in a hotel in Tokyo I once stayed at. There I had to jump over the suitcase to get from the door to the combined bed/desk area.
Coming into the cabin, there is a well appointed He/She wardrobe on one side and the one-piece plastic bathroom on the other side. Beside the wardrobe is a semi-circular desk with four drawers which reached into the double bed we had booked, and one chair. The rest of the room was more or less occupied by our large bed, and at the end of the cabin a mock-window with a closed curtain – and not really enough space to walk at this side of the bed, just a gap to the wall. In the far corner was a small flatscreen TV on a platform attached to the wall, just under the ceiling. If you share the cabin with two more people, you sleep in two bunk beds. In the bathroom was a shower, which you could close with a curtain, a porcelain handwash basin, and a toilet with vacuum cleaning flush technology. There was even an extendable washing line in the shower, so you could do some handwashing easily. (On the corridor was a coin-operated washing machine if you had bigger washing jobs to do. The onboard washing service takes 48 hours.)
There is a hairdryer mounted to the wall above the desk – but it sent out a flame when first used. It was immediately replaced by a mobile hairdryer.
Photos 2 to 4 show other aspects of the cabin, including the bathroom.
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