This is a continuation of our recent 2015 World Cruise summary, with volume I discussing the organisation and volume II the positives. This post will review the areas that need some work, as these areas failed to meet our expectations.
The gleaming passenger vessel we expected to board in Sydney, turned out to be an tired old girl, sadly in need of a major refit. This is nothing the crew can correct, as the scheduling is completed by management types in Head Office. It is no surprise, but within 2 weeks of us disembarking, she is heading to Singapore for a major multi-million dollar refit. We have already paid very good money to sail on this ship for 104 days, so I don’t think it unreasonable to expect all areas affecting passenger comfort to be in tiptop condition.
Let me first qualify my following remarks regarding the conditions of this ship, as at all times she appeared mechanically sound and met all relevant safety requirements. In my opinion, no customer should be subjected to such a poor ship, especially those who will be aboard for over 3 months. While I notice issues quickly, most passengers only aboard for 1 or 2 weeks would miss most of them. We noted the following issues:
- Air conditioning – the plant was incapable of maintaining a comfortable temperature throughout the ship. At times the Vista Lounge and Princess Theatre were like ice boxes. Our tablemates Bruce and Viv had a number of air conditioning issues in their cabin, specifically a lack of A/C.
- Air Ducts – the ducts must be long overdue for cleaning, as we have never seen so much dust on a ship. Judi had to change her breathing machine filters every 2 weeks, more often than we do at home. After 35 days on Emerald Princess she never changed filters once.
- Water leaks – we experienced multiple daily leaks, both major and minor. One leak required the electrical power shut off to the entire aft section of the ship. Throughout the accommodation, small squares of carpet were used instead of buckets for the numerous leaks. These were very common. The smell of damp carpet permeated the ship in a number of locations.
- Sewage Vents – throughout our time aboard we could frequently smell sewage, both inside and on the outer decks. Even during the transit of the Panama Canal, sitting on the balcony you were assaulted by the smell of sewage.
- Balcony doors – during storms the stewards had to place towels on the balcony door tracks, as most leaked resulting in rain pouring into the cabin. The wind also whistled through the doors.
- Toilets – frequently shut down. I should note that some, possibly most resulted from passenger actions. One bright spark even flushed a towel, which plugged our section for a couple of hours.
- Decks – a number of decks have detached from the frame resulting in a bounce if you stand on it. This could be rather dangerous for the multitude of passengers with mobility difficulties.
- Promenade Deck – the teak decking is sadly in need of repair, as much of the caulking between the planks is missing or leaking. Some boards are uneven, resulting in a potential tripping hazard.
- Hull – frankly it is a disgrace and is long overdue for cleaning and painting. The rust is extensive. In Kusedasi, we were docked between a RCCL & NCL ship. We looked like a tramp ship between 2 gleaming passenger liners.
- Stabilisers – we experienced some good seas but even with the flippers out, the ship was still rolling a fair bit. Interesting to note one flipper and the control system is being replaced in refit.
- Princess Theatre Electronics – we experienced a few failures with this system.
- Carpets – many showing age and overdue for replacement
- Seats – in Princess Theatre many of the seats lowered too far, resulting in you sliding forward. Many seats in Wheelhouse, Crooners and Vista had lost almost all padding and you could feel the frames.
- Lifts – numerous breakdown, with the fwd port lift not working most of the final month. Another lift overloaded with only a few passengers.
Again, the deplorable condition of this ship, with respect to passenger comfort, was a disgrace. Responsibility for this rests squarely on the shoulders of shore based management.
Second only to the condition of the ship, the food was the worst we have ever experienced on a ship. We noted the following issues:
- Temperature – most meals were served lukewarm, at best. We have even sent food back to have equally cold food served on a glowing hot plate. I can only assume the galley thinks the plate will heat the food before it arrives at the table. Some have said it isn’t the galley, it must be our waiters, but no, we experienced the same at all 3 meals in the dining room and Horizon Court.
- Breakfast – my usual breakfast is porridge, which should be easy to keep hot. Alas, not so for this galley. Almost every morning it was delivered cold, until I smartened up and when ordering, requested it be reheated. One morning, I assume the galley took exception to reheating, as a very sheepish waiter delivered my plate, asking me to try it. When I gave it back, he happily returned to the galley with a smile on his face.
- Horizon Court – one night they had Brussel sprouts, yummy. Got back to the table and to no surprise, cold. The adjacent Head Waiter, immediately asked me to follow him, as he would make it right. He had the cook retrieve a new pan, which came from below the buffet, covered in Saran Wrap. Trying some from the new tray, they were even colder than the ones on display. Needles to say the cook received an earful from the Head Waiter.
- Quality of Food Products – this has deteriorated significantly, with most steaks, pork and lamb chops in the dining room being tough and/or tasteless. One night, every lamb chop at our table and every table in our vicinity went back to the galley. You required a chainsaw to cut the meat.
- Presentation – unfortunately, the only positive. Each meal is well presented.
- Vegetables – the selection of vegetables is poor, mostly root vegetables. The portion size of vegetables is also minimal. Every night we requested the waiter bring a plate of steamed vegetables.
- Steaks – were poorly cooked and were rarely cooked as ordered. They did improve later in the cruise, but still hit or miss.
- Steakhouse – our first visit, all 8 from our table attended for dinner. Four requested rare to medium and the others either well done or other meats. All steaks were well done, but since we wanted to eat as a group, we ate them anyway. The excellent Head Waiter Placido was most upset when he saw the steaks. On the 2nd visit we only had 4 and yet again the steaks were all cremated. Placido, was again most upset and pleaded with us to let him get it right. I took him up on his offer. Well steak # 2 was seared briefly, otherwise it was raw throughout. Steak # 3 came out shortly thereafter and was in a similar condition. By this time, the Head Waiter was furious with the galley and insisted they would get it right the next time. The 4th steak was delivered and he hauled the cook out to watch. As I cut it in half, he almost collapsed, as it was black on the outside and raw in the middle. At that time I gave up and requested a fruit plate.
Most definitely the worst quality of food we have ever experienced on a ship. The Wait Staff were badly let down by a very poor Chef and Galley Staff.
Another negative on this cruise, although they haven’t changed from shorter cruises, it is simply too annoying to have a photographer block your path by sticking a camera in your face every time you exit the ship, and on numerous occasions aboard.
We have no interest in their business plan, which is selling paper photographs. Having already downsized, all photos are digitised and I have disposed of all paper copies. Why would I have any interest in replacing them at $20 or $30 for each picture. Never mind the paper photos, the Scotsman finds those prices grossly inflated. If they took photos and loaded them on a memory stick, I’d consider paying $1 or $2 per photo. They also appeared outside the dining room on a few nights, catching passengers as they departed. One night they were dressed as Vikings and another they had a stuffed lobster. I can only wonder if they checked the average age on the ship, which was over 70. On a positive note, the video team were excellent and they produced an excellent reflections video for the entire cruise. With Elite 25% discount the full package of 22 disks cost $300, which I thought was fairly reasonable for some excellent work.
We, along with about 700 others signed up for a World Cruise (WC), however we feel that what we received was a Australian Coastal voyage and 4 segments. In Sydney, they had “World Cruise” posted on the big screen, but nothing else until departure Fremantle when they held a WC deck party. While it was an excellent event, it was already day 7 and everyone was invited, regardless of whether on for segment(s) or the entire WC. At no time were any events held for those of us completing the entire WC. We had expected a few lunches and even special entertainment events. Alas, nothing. Other than the WC logo, all documentation and the TV navigation screens were all set up by segment. While not a huge issue, it was definitely a disappointment.
Looking back at the entire World Cruise, are we glad we completed the entire voyage? most definitely yes. We met some great people, especially our dinner tablemates and the voyage around the world was simply spectacular, showing us some amazing similarities between civilisations that are hundreds or thousands of years old.
However, would we sign up for another World Cruise? probably not, and definitely not on an Australia based ship. In the future, we will stick to North American and European based ships.