My experience on the Sun Princess Dec 8th - Dec 21st had good moments and bad moments
I was on a cruise from Auckland to Auckland and I got onto the ship thinking I was getting on the ship at the 'beginning' of a cruise and getting off at the 'end' of a cruise. It wasn't until I was on the ship and noticed that my cruise card had the wrong disembarkation date on it that I discovered that I was technically on bits of two different cruises. This is something that Princess could have let the Auckland passengers in on (there were 300 of us) before we got on the ship - as most of the Aucklanders that got on were under the same impression as I was - I still would have done the cruise but it would have been better to know as I would have arrived at the terminal earlier to get onto the ship earlier.
Firstly the weather was fantastic and the crossing of the Tasman - there and back - was the smoothest trips I have ever had and I have crossed the Tasman 8 times
My cabin steward was fantastic and the head waiter, waiter and junior waiter at my table in the Regency dining room were also fantastic
The chefs/cooks in the International cafe were excellent as well
That is probably where the positive ends
I normally don't eat in the buffet but I did have to on 2 occasions and I found it to be just awful. The food was horrible and I found it difficult to find more than 3 mouthfuls of food that I wanted to eat.
That is really only where the bad started
I was on the ill-fated Norovirus outbreak cruise and I am guessing they are still in the middle of the outbreak now. The benefit of a norovirus outbreak is that everything is served to you - right down to little packets of salt with dinner. The bad thing was that the staff became so over worked that the service became surly. I understand it is so much more work having to do all of the serving BUT it's a cruise ship - it's the perfect environment for Norovirus to breed so they should be used to it or at least prepared for it (My dinner service was exceptional every night - so why couldn't the other meals be the same)
I have food allergies and I have to say that I was quite disappointed with how the kitchen handled this. I was given a menu every night for the following night by the head waiter and I thought it was so if there was something that I wanted to eat and it had the food I was allergic to in it they would change it so it was ok for me. With a citrus allergy I have issues with a lot of sauces and I found that if a sauce contained citrus they just didn't use it - which meant that a couple of times I had very dry meat or fish so I ended up having to order something else. Also a couple of times the kitchen served me food with citrus and the only reason I didn't end up with it was because of my amazing waiter and junior waiter catching the mistake before it got to me.
All the ports of NZ were awesome and being a Kiwi and getting to see places I have never seen before was great.
The entertainment was ok - the shows would have been amazing if the dancers had been a little better at their jobs. I have seen a couple of shows on other Princess ships and they were spectacular with the right dancers. The male and female singers were excellent though. They made the shows better because of their excellent singing.
As the average age of my cruise was 62 for the first half and 57 for the 2nd half the music was more suited to an older crowd so I didn't really get into all of the other shows and performers - I am in my 30's so a little bit of music for my kind of taste would have been great.
I did find the cruise director to be very funny though. I always liked his little 5 mins of jokes and banter at the end of the shows in the Princess Theatre.
One thing I did find quite annoying was the people constantly at us to buy stuff, up sell etc - telling me I really should buy a coffee card and when I would tell them that I don't drink coffee they would still try to sell me one???? Getting your photo coming off the ship, going onto the ship - they can get quite aggressive about it. Why should I have to wait 5 mins while you take photos of 10 other people when I am NOT going to buy an overpriced photo
When we arrived in Sydney this was the most badly organised port I have ever experienced and I have been on 9 cruises with lots of ports.
My mother and I booked a shuttle from the ship to Circular Quay (this was through the ship) $20 each and was a pick up at the ship at 0900 and a pick up at Circular Quay at 1400 the only other option was pick up from ship at 1000 and pick up at Circular Quay at 1500. As my mother has mobility issues this seemed like the best option as we were going to get on a train and the train is right there. First issue of Sydney is that we were directed into the Customs queue and not the transit passengers queue - I questioned it and was told we should be in the customs queue. It was already 0900 and our shuttle was leaving at 0900. We spent 20 mins in the queue and finally got out to our shuttle - half of the bus was in the queue where I was so the shuttle hadn't left yet. We didn't get on our way until approx 0930 and the driver informed us before we got on the bus that he would be dropping us off at the opera house and picking us up from the opera house at 1300. I disputed that with him and advised that we had been told 1400 for pick up. He said it was 1300 and if we weren't on the bus at 1300 he would leave without us and we would have to find our own way back to White Bay. As I got on the bus I asked a couple of people that I had become friendly with if they thought pick up was 1300 or 1400 and they all said 1400. We were not given an option to stop at circular quay as we had been advised and there is not much but the opera house where we were dropped off. I asked the driver how far away a shopping mall was from where we were and he pointed up a hill and advised 'a couple of blocks' I advised my mother has mobility issues (asthma) and can't walk up hills like that where else could we go. He advised as a favour he would drive us to the shopping mall
a couple of blocks up the road (another 12 - 15 people also took him up on this) His idea of blocks and my idea of blocks are a little different - it was about 4 or 5 kms and most of it was up hill. The mall he took us to consisted of stores like Gucci - so definitely out of my price range. We spent about 2 hours in a cafe at the mall as there wasn't anything else to do. We headed back to the Opera house and we arrived early so we didn't 'miss' the 1300 deadline. Well the bus didn't even show up until 1315
After I got back onto the ship I went and spoke to the excursion department and was spoken to by the women who I think is in charge, She advised me that it was my mistake that I got the pick up time wrong and she didn't care when I advised there was a full bus of people who thought the same as me, she apologised to me saying that she was sorry I got the wrong idea???? Ummmm really??? Not sure that is an apology - she wouldn't even touch on the fact that the driver would only drop us off at the opera house and we were advised by the 2nd bus load of people that there should have been 4 different drop off points not just one and after a number of people had complained they started refunding people who had to get taxis - but we didn't get a receipt for ours so didn't get a refund. The excursion dept would not consider refunding anyone for the actual shuttle.
I certainly hope Princess looks at that company and/or driver and re-consider their contract and the excursion department needs to look at how they speak to passengers and explain what the excursion entails and if they get it wrong they need to acknowledge it and just refund the money because of their screw up - it's not like it was a $200 excursion.
Over all I had a great cruise - I met some awesome people and had lots of laughs with them and received some awesome service from some of the crew. The bad bits wont stop me going on more cruises as they are what you make of them. I just think the bad needs to be pointed out as well as the good!!!