We embarked in Sydney and found the process easy and quick. It was a sparkling Sydney day, and it was a public holiday (Easter Monday) so it seemed everybody on and off Sun Princess was in holiday mood. There was a minimum of waiting in line and the staff were helpful and ultra pleasant. We must have received 20 "Welcome Aboard" and "Enjoy your cruise with us" by the time we reached our state room. We had been up-graded from a Balcony to a Mini-suite! Nobody could tell us why, but it was a great way to start our cruise.
Our bags were lost on embarkation and there was an anxious wait leading up to departure and beyond, when the bags failed to turn up. The staff were helpful however and the bags had lost their i.d. tags in handling. They were waiting for us at Customer Services on Deck 5. No problems.
The seas were flat all the way. The food was beyond our expectations. In the Regency Dining Room the staff were first rate and the company on our table of 8 were a diverse bunch and we enjoyed their company. We conversed with anybody and everybody on board and found our fellow cruisers always pleasant and helpful. The range and quality of food in Horizons, the Pizzeria and the Poolside food outlets (ice-cream and hamburgers, or sundaes and hot dogs) was all fabulous, and except for a few small gripes, we were very happy. Will I mention the small gripes? OK - American honey tastes like golden syrup, the espresso coffee was variable quality depending who made it and where you got it - small things really.
We didn't make use of most activities, but I noticed that every day could be filled with activities if you wanted it that way. We were more content to laze by the pools, walk the uninterrupted boardwalk of Deck 7, read and laze about in our luxurious room. We did go to a show one night and the singers and dancers were energetic and pretty good. The casino was a good diversion on a couple of occasions and coincidentally, the machines were good to us. The outdoor movies were great and we enjoyed alternating between pool, spa and lounger in the balmy tropical air. Mid-night snacks, high teas, long lunches, ice cold beer, prompt and affordable room service were on tap. What a life!
In Darwin, disembarkation/embarkation was from Port facilities and went without a hitch. In Benoa, Bali disembarkation was via lifeboats after anchoring in the bay. This process is not so smooth. It took over an hour to fill the large catamaran tour boat and the process of getting on an off the lifeboats appeared chaotic and fraught with waiting and leaping over a lurching deck. The elephant ride excursion was filled before leaving port, so that was disappointing (tip: book tours when you book the cruise).
The Highlight of the cruise was the quality of the staff. They were intent on making us comfortable, especially the Dining waiters and Room stewards. The pre-port talks and information on ports was entertaining and accurate. Much appreciated.
Improvements could be made to the captains log information on the TV - there is a minimum of information provided, and no weather reports. I would like to know the names of the islands and land masses that can be seen ashore. Cruisers who want more should take an atlas or maps, but that's just me I suppose.
I personally don't like plastic mugs for coffee and lemonade. They do keep liquids hot and/or cold however, it gave the feel of a nursing home or hospital.
I personally did not like JJ Ulrich, the Cruise Director. He was never seen except when speaking with Ships Officers and on TV daily reading the list of the days activities. He is brash, hard to understand and his sense of humour, if that's what it is, is just smart arse and rude.
It was an outstanding holiday. We were impressed with the loyalty program and the benefits for repeat cruisers. We will go again because the cruising is a complete package and good value too.