Sydney - Anyone cruising from Sydney should arrive a few days early and explore this beautiful city. There is so much to do and see in this friendly city that you could easily spend a week. We spoke with fellow passengers who went to the Blue Mountains and had a wonderful time.
Embarkation - The process was smooth and friendly from the baggage handlers to the customs folks. We left at night and Sydney is a spectacular departure port.
The Ship - The Sea Princess is 12 years old and it is showing it's age. It seemed like there was a lot of repair happening on board. The toilets periodically refused to work. The air conditioning conked out twice. We had excellent service from our cabin steward. Cabin was on the small side and the bathroom was tiny. Storage in the cabin was adequate. Our balcony floor was covered with rust and the space under the patio door was a mess of rust and crud. Passengers were mostly friendly retired persons (60+) with US and Canadian residents predominate. The staff on the whole was pleasant and helpful. The sundecks had plenty of space and we never had to scramble for a lounge chair. The best places to sunbath are at the rear of the ship. Take strong sunscreen. At these latitudes, SPF 15 is totally inadequate.
Dining - The food was OK not great. Some nights in the dining room, the service was slow while on others it was fine. We chose anytime dining and usually sat with other passengers. A table for two usually required a wait.
For some reason, buffets on Princess are always a weak spot. The food ranged from poor to good. However, there were some speciality food events which were very nice. The buffet itself was not well laid out and one often had to exit through the already congested serving area. Service in the Horizon Court was spotty ranging from excellent to inattentive. Both Norwegian and Celebrity manage a much better layout and presentation in their buffet restaurants.
Fiordland - We came into Milford Sound early and it was a wonderful experience reminiscent of Alaska. Beautiful scenery and there was interesting commentary about each of the three Fjords we visited. Each is different and very scenic.
Dunedin - Booked a private tour here. The trip was interesting but not spectacular. Don't expect a lot of wildlife despite our tour being advertised as a nature excursion.
Akaora - This was a temporary port due to the earthquake damage in Christchurch. The setting reminded us of the eastern Columbia George between Oregon and Washington. It's a quaint little village charming in it's own way. We had reserved a spot on a sailing vessel for a harbor tour that we were very much looking forward to. Unfortunately, when we got to the dock, the crew told us that they could not assure us that we would get back in time to make the ship so we passed. Big disappointment.
Auckland - A beautiful setting for a city, Auckland is a smaller version of Sydney. The walking tour that was suggested was a very long walk. Beautiful yacht harbor near the pier is well worth a look.
Suva Fiji - Suva is on the wet side of Fiji so we were very fortunate to be there on the first dry day in two weeks! Took a shore excursion to the Pacific Pearl Resort. Nice beach, good entertainment, and friendly people.
Pago Pago American Samoa - This is a beautiful harbor. However, it is marred by two tuna canneries and a rather ram shackled town. There was litter everywhere. Unfortunately, there were no rental cars available in town that would have allowed us to get out and see the other parts of the island. Otherwise, not much to do here.
Bora Bora - A snorkel trip is a must at this destination. These are far and away the most beautiful coral reefs that I have ever seen! The natural scenery of the island itself is also magnificent.
Papeete - This is the capital of Polynesia, a city of about 100,000. I did a walking tour in the morning and took a bus trip in the afternoon. It's an interesting place with a lot of history.
Moorea - Like Bora Bora it's a spectacular island. We did the sail and snorkel tour and enjoyed it.
Honolulu - Since we did Pearl Harbor on our last visit, we rented a car and drove to the north shore. Spent some time on the beach at Turtle Bay. Worth the trip.
Maui - Rented a car here as well and spent time at one of the hotel beaches. The beach is free but you have to pay to park. Beautiful beach and still less expensive then a shore excursion. Try the cheeseburger place in Lahaina for a great lunch.
San Francisco - Got up early (5:30) along with a sizable number of other passengers to watch the ship pass beneath the Golden Gate Bridge. We all cheered when we went under!
The best shows were the local culture events in port. You have to arrive at least a half hour early to get a seat.
There were two lecture series. The first was from a stock market analyst which started interesting but quickly became repetitive. I lost track of the number of times he told us about "the best stock analysis ever". The second series which was on Hawaii and a second topic "flight" was very well done and played to a full house.
Overall - We enjoyed the ports, seeing places that we would never otherwise be able to visit. The crew was good and did the best with what they had to work with. Just wish we had a nicer ship to sail on.