Diamond Princess 23rd December 2013 to 4th January 2014 Auckland to Sydney
The Auckland cruise terminal was very efficient. Check in and embarkation was quick and smooth. Being relative early around 11.00am we had an easy and flawless passage, being on ship within 45 minutes. The cabin was ready as soon as we boarded the ship and our steward was an absolute delight.
We quite often cruise over Christmas – New Year period to get away from the rat race. This cruise was a big disappointment.
As soon as you get on board you are hounded by staff trying to sell Wine Packages, coffee cards, soft drinks packages, wine tastings etc. not a pleasant experience. All the staff with very few exceptions seemed like it was an effort and a hindrance to carry out the simplest of tasks. Even getting the attention of a drink waiter was an effort some nights.
We had Christmas Day and New Years Eve onboard so there is a premium to pay for the extras. But! There were some very good decorations throughout the ship but no extras. Christmas Day consisted of Santa being in the atrium for 2 hours. Christmas lunch was a few slices of ham. Dinner wasn’t much better but we were offered sliced turkey and pudding.
New Year's Eve also barely happened. Some of the outside areas were blocked off early in the night for some unknown reason and the outside bars closed early. The atmosphere was less than celebratory. A balloon drop for New Years Eve was probably the extent of it. Both days are done better by other lines.
Where are the hand sanitizers? This was the third cruise line we had been on in the last 18 months and by far the least hygienic. The public areas don’t seem to get cleaned down at regular intervals and dispensers are only near the food lines.
On a previous cruise with another line you were not allowed to board the ship until you had sanitised your hands, this should be standard across the cruise industry.
Everybody knows you pay a premium for tours booked through Princess. New Zealand tours are modified to cater for the cruise industry, cutting short some journeys so that you are back on time. Those who booked private tours generally failed to meet the departure times because of the slow disembarkation of 2000+ passengers. So in that respect the Princess tours suddenly seem better value.
On this cruise we booked two tours and found them both to be excellent. A little overpriced but still worthwhile.
Akaroa: Dolphin watching harbour cruise. We were on a small boat that was moved around a lot by the swell. Quite a few people were seasick. But we did see dolphins, seals and penguins so the object was achieved.
Port Chalmers/Dunedin: Taieri Gorge Railway and Lanarch Castle. We were very impressed with the train trip through the gorge. The staff were great and very informative and the meals were good as well. Same for the castle, the driver was very good and we had a very comfortable coach. All in all a great day.
Tauranga: A very easy going port, a NZ beach town, with lots of shops and quite enough to occupy the day. We walked around and stayed in the port area. There is a great walk up the nearby knoll with spectacular views that fills in a few hours. The beaches in the area are also spectacular.
Akoroa/Christchurch: Lyttleton is still closed. Akaroa is the alternate stop and tenders are used to get you ashore. It's a very quaint harbour village. If you want there is a bus available on shore that will get to back and forth to Christchurch. Judging by the crowd at every coffee shop, café and restaurant, I figure that most people agree with me that coffee onboard is pretty bad. It’s an easy walk around the village with plenty to see for a few hours. Check out the fudge at the market, it’s fantastic.
Port Chalmers/Dunedin: We boarded the train straight off the pier and spent the entire day on a tour.
Hobart and Melbourne: I’m an Aussie so I’ve been here hundreds of times. The yachts from the Sydney to Hobart yacht race were still in town and available to walk around the piers to have a look.
The biggest disappointment! Based on previous cruises the food standard has fallen to a lower level, in all of the outlets. This is the first cruise I have been on where in the main dining room two main courses and one desert were inedible. This was a first for me to send back meals because they weren’t good enough. Plus some of the food choices at the buffet were substandard as well.
International Dining Room
I prefer to eat at a regular time, so we enjoyed the same company each night at our table. The standard of service for our table was not the best we have experienced, on a number of occasions the waiter did not deliver the correct menu item ordered and the meals were also returned. But my biggest bugbear was the head waiter made no apologies for the poor food, but just explained that she would provide the feedback to the chef.
Well below par. I’ve seen better shows at my local club. Another disappointment! The bands were very good and very personable. As a dancer it is important to me that the music caters for my feet, and to a large extent these guys did that.
I’ve got to say that ship has the best dance floors of all the ships I have been on.
This is meant to be a five star ship. But it did not meet my expectations of five stars and struggled to meet four stars. I would need to think long and hard before I book another princess cruise. The service levels were low and the cruise was not up to scratch. Our diner party, both platinum travellers, on our table were also very disappointed.