It had taken me 4 years to get my husband to agree to a cruise. I'll never live it down, thanks to Sun Princess.
We flew from Hervey Bay to Sydney and stayed overnight at the Novotel, Darling Harbour so we could embark the following day for a 4pm sailing. We probably could have saved a night's accommodation as the Sun Princess was meant to leave White Bay terminal at 4pm on 16th October 2013 but due to "technical difficulties" (scary) we did not set sail until 2am the following morning. Having spoken to crew members during the cruise they told us that the ship is 20 years old, built for the calmer waters of the Mediterranean, was only running on 3 engines. So that is the reason it bounces about like a cork in the smallest swells, and did not power through them as I would have expected.
We missed the main reason for our cruise, Bay of Islands, due to the engine problems. Visited Auckland, Wellington, Tauranga and Dunedin. All very pretty ports and very welcoming. Then we were told we were not visiting Akaroa OR Fjordland, due to (allegedly) bad weather. So is 4 ports out of 7 good value?? I THINK NOT!!!! We had approximately 40 hours on onshore sightseeing for our cost of over $5000.00 for the cruise "that never was".
The balcony cabin was small but adequate, with a tiny bathroom. If I put both arms out I could touch each wall. The shower water was very slow to escape, and we did not always shower in the peak times. Our balcony cabin ("stateroom") was fabulous, even if the matting was dirty, allowing us to escape the aircon and have a nice view when we sailed into Port Chalmers.
The Steakhouse, which is merely a sectioned-off area of the Horizon buffet room was a rip-off at an extra cost of $20 per person and then another $10 if you wanted lobster tails. The 2 lobster tails were the size of a king prawn and must have been in the freezer for many moons. Very dry and gritty. The steak was of good quality but lukewarm when served at table.The waiters in Sterling Steakhouse were very fawning and annoying, asking 3-4 times per course "How is the meal, sir/madam?" Please leave me alone to eat my food!!
The Wheelhouse Bar was our favourite, with Joana and Mary Joy the best bar attendants we have met. They always remembered our names and our drinks. from night to night. Well done, Ladies. :)
A special mention to Artur, our Regency Dining Room waiter from Ukraine. He's a keeper.
The Sanctuary area is overpriced at $15 per person for a half-day respite from kids.
I really feel that staff should not speak together in their own language in front of customers. They obviously speak English, so don't make us feel that we are being spoken about in another language.
The staff trying to hard-sell soft drinks and coffee cards, bottled water to take shore, massages,art, wine tastings are annoying.