This was an extended family cruise to NZ, Nanna & Poppy, No2 son and granddaughter in one cabin with No1 son,wife and daughter in an adjoining cabin. The first NZ cruise for all of us although Nanna & Poppy did a Sydney to Auckland run on Pacific Sky some years back.
Embarkation:- The ship departed from White Bay and although the place is a pain to get there the embarkation was smooth and efficient with the whole process taking about 15 to 20 minutes, we were onboard just after noon. There has been a fair amount of money spent on the terminal to get it to work, what they need to do now is concentrate on the transport links.
The Ship:- It is starting to show its age in some areas but as usual it was spotlessly clean. The Horizon Court and International Cafe upgrades are good. We like this size ship as opposed to the bigger ones. There was a bit of wear and tear in our cabin but with 20 years of age, most of it spent earning money, we can't complain.
Passengers:- Quite a few 'Blue Carders' onboard so the Princess marketing must be working. As it was school holidays there were a lot of children enjoying themselves. Having done some longish cruises we prefer seeing children having a good time rather than seeing and listening to grumpy old people complaining and whinging about everything.
Staff:- Always courteous and helpful. We had Marcial and Farhan in the Dining Room and the drink stewards Carlo, Lopez and Parsain always looked after us.
Food:- Good but not outstanding. Our waiters were always willing to modify dishes when requested and everyone seemed to enjoy what they got.
Weather:- We suffered some setbacks due to the weather. We couldn't get out of Tauranga on schedule because of high winds which meant we had to bypass Napier. At Dunedin we were told the Fiordland scenic cruising would not happen because of a depression coming up from the south which would create some rather large seas. Sh!t happens as they say in the classics, although my wife did here a rather disgruntled passenger mouthing off about the Captain being a chicken, there is always a one on every cruise.
Entertainment:- The granddaughters wanted to watch the production shows so I caught a few of those and they were OK. They had The Horse Whisperer doing his thing talking about himself, his family, his travels, his friend John Denver, his, his, his, etc and a little bit about horses! The standout was the magician and comedian Adam Dean, this bloke is very, very good.Excellent tricks and he works the audience really well. Best entertainer I have seen on a cruise in many many years.
Complaints:- Only one, the duty free liquor is a TOTAL RIPOFF. When the price of a bottle of spirits is more than what Sydney Airport charges, you know you are being taken for a ride. Towards the end of the cruise they dug out some unknown brands that were imported by some mob from Albion Park NSW and started to flog those. Two months ago we got off Diamond Princess after its positioning cruise from Singapore and I purchased 5 bottles for $100, all well known brands and one of those was a bottle of Glenfiddich. On this cruise the Glenfiddich was $70 per bottle and Jim Beam $37 (Sydney Airport 2 for $55). I've kept a price list and will be visiting Dan Murphys this weekend to do a comparison for a forum post.
All in all an enjoyable cruise for us. May try to get back again to NZ and we will stick with Princess.