Embarkation from Sydney was very easy and quick as the whole process from baggage check to immigration and boarding was very efficient .
Went straight to state room where our bags where already at the door The state roon was extremly well laid out and plenty of room drawer space for both of us ,unpacked all our clothes and then up to Buffet for a early lunch .
The sail away was held in perfect Autumn weather and sailing under the Sydney Harbour Bridge and out through the heads was dream come true for us cetainly a high light of the cruise .
We had inside cabin D716 which is through the Casino towards the stern and over the Vista lounge , Only complaint we had and that was very minor was the insulation between cabs was very poor and voices although subdued were very obvious at times , fortunately our next cab were also night owls and late risers so we basically did not disturb each other the whole trip .I did feel that the sound insulation between the cab modules has probably worn out and is in a pile of dust at the bottom of the join. The boat movement was quite obvious on this deck and location , but one got used to it , probably still prefer the front of the ship , but that's what we paid for so we accepted it . Our cabin Steward ( David ) was very efficient and as a good steward should be very inconspicuous in his operation our cab was always maintained as required .
We noticed on reading several reports on the passenger reviews of the Dawn on previous cruises that they felt that the ship was looking quite shabby , we couldn't see this so probably their standards are different to ours , she is how ever getting old and one should not be to critical at this point
The cruise is an excellent one and I believe really gave value for money , we did not organize one shore trip through the ship and apart from one taxi ride in Appia we used public transport and shanks pony , probably not the best way to see the scenery , You see one Palm tree and beach you see the lot , swimming in the Pacific is the same as the Indian so no change there. If one was into snorkeling I believe the reefs were spectacular and one canoe ride is the same as the other . Probably we are getting quite blase on a lot of things but we actually preferred the sailing days as we were able to each do our own thing . Wife played Mah Jong each day every morning from 9.00 AM until 12.30 PM , with a group of like minded Ladies , she actually was part of a core group who played each day to be joined by others from time to time , so this left me to do what I wanted to do and went to some lectures ,listened to my I Pod, talked to other passengers and generally just goofed off.
Now comes the not so good parts .The food standard on the ship in general has dropped dramatically since our last cruise some 8 months ago which suggests that there has been a big cut back in budgets in this area. The Horizon was a lot better in its selection and presentation that the formal dining rooms which seems to indicate that there are different standards or Head Chef requirements between the two areas . The main course most nights was not attractive or different and it wasn't just the fact that we had been on board for 35 days that the menu seemed the same . The standard was very much down , something that Princess will need to address urgently as complaints from many passengers echoed the same .
The Matre De and Head Waiter apart from three days before the end of the cruise totally ignored our table of 8 who attended nearly every dinner with out fail and this was brought to a head as our Junior waiter who had given us excellent service for 28 days was suddenly absent one night with out explanation from the head waiter or Matre De , we all wrote vigorous complaints and demanded from passenger services a full explanation of why this had occurred . Oh! boy the fox was in the chook shed from then on and many phone calls and explanations as to why this had occurred ( apparently the waiter was sick and under the doctor ) which was a blatant lie as we had been advised by other staff that he was replaced for a minor misdemeanor . Customer services couldn't even get that right , even then the Head waiter did not offer any explanation to us other than a mumbled "I hope you enjoyed the meal" . Things were put right the next night and we had our very efficient and approachable junior waiter back with us .
One thing that I was concerned about was the standard of dress in the evenings . and unlike the Grand Princess this policy was not enforced mores the pity .The statement does state smart casual attire and this cannot be confused with singlet's, shorts, and thongs even in the Casino .There appeared to be a group who to my knowledge did not change their attire the whole cruise and to be fair did not attend the formal presentations or visit the dining area , but continually walked through these venues to get to deck 7 Port side to have ciggie or two ,This would have not been tolerated in any club or smart hotel here in Australia , so it shouldn't be allowed on the ship , personally I think that the ships senior personnel are afraid to enforce this policy as most of the offenders were big spenders in the Casino each night , you figure .
In general we felt that the vibe of the crew in general was not there and we noticed this when we first boarded you know one can feel the body language from the start and whilst it did not effect the cruise quality some thing was not right . I believe that in Brisbane several high ranking officers were getting off and as I personally observed an incident on deck were the senior safety officer bawled out a reasonably senior crew member in front of several passengers that things were not right . This comment has been made by other blog reporters so there could be something amiss.
To generalize would we do this cruise again ? , probably ,but not until we visit a few more areas , would we cruise Princess again,? certainly , until we at least get Elite and then we will see what happens then . The biggest draw back for us here in WA is the fact that Princess only offer only three cruises each year from Fremantle and their policy of passengers joining and leaving through cruises will need to be investigated fully as the Golden goose will eventually stop laying and some smart marketing will need to be made , or nothing will be done until it is to late to rescue .
One thing that we did notice on day one was the muster drill before sailing .The most comprehensive and detailed briefing so far held on any cruise , all passengers roll call checked, attention to detail, late or missing passengers warned and asked for satisfactory explanations for non attendance and extensive crew drills each week of the cruise .obviously the Concordia incident has reflected on this general tightening up of such procedures .
Booked on March cruise to NZ ex Melbourne 2013 cant wait ."