My husband & I have cruised before (P&O) but after this, we'll definitely be coming back to the Princess ships. Each has their positive points, but this cruise ticked every box.
Have the choice between allocated dinning (Regency) or free dining (Horizon), was great for us, we tried the free dinning first, but once we met our dinning companions, we got hooked. We shared a table with a group of fantastic people and we had the most entertaining and wonderful waiter staff you could ever have. Ronaldo and Jesse were fantastic, they were welcoming and friendly. What I loved was that if you got a bottle but if you didn't finish it, it was saved for a later night. Great idea!
The food was supreme. So must variety and deciding was the hardest part. There was plenty to eat and there was something for the fussy ones (like me). There was 1 night where my beef piece wasn't cooked the way that I like (very well done, no pink) and Ronaldo fussed and fussed and said I wasn't to eat it as it wasn't what I ordered. He took it away, returned with his manager, with a steaming hot piece, cooked the way that I liked. They apologized for the inconvenience.
We had room service for most of the morning, easier on port days, mainly just small amounts of fruit and bakery items. They were delivered on time, and always friendly greetings. The food was delicious and I asked for watermelon (not on the list) and they were happy to provide.
The International Cafe has the best toasted chicken sandwiches, but good luck with finding a seat. Most of the area was filled all day with 'older' passengers. I don't mean that as a rude thing, just that is what it was. There was a large portion of the passenger over the age of 50, which was fine with us, as being on holidays with running, screaming, annoying and amenities hogging children was not something we want.
There were some issues, there was technical problems when we first bored and we didn't make it to the Bay of Islands, and didn't leave Sydney until 2am, so we missed the 'sail away' party and going under the bridge.
We had great weather during our port of calls, Auckland was a sunny day, great day for cruising the harbour. Tauranga, Wellington and Napier were the same, sunny, slightly windy but beautiful city and the people were just friendly.
We did have bad weather during the last few days of the cruise, high winds stopped us from tendering at Aokora and sailing around the Fjords. Seriously, 6-9meter high waves and howling winds. Not only were the passengers a little sea sick so were some of the crew. The little 'vomit bag' were out for the last 4 days. We traveled back and up between the Cook straight.
There was nothing the captain could do about this, the safety of the ship, passengers and crew were top priority so complaining was useless, but didn't stop some. However, because of the other issues encounter, we we're credited with $200 each ship credit, which we spent on the ship. Mainly on photos.
The photographers were great people, little pricey, however they were beautiful photos, so we only brought a few of them. The entertainment crew were great, the shows were great, there was so many activities to do, Bingo, Trivia and live music.
Overall, it was a great trip, would do again, maybe in the earlier part of the year, hopefully the weather would be better.