Brisbane to Sydney a two night sampler
This is one a number of two night "samplers" being offered by Princess Cruises on their two Australian based ships Sun Princess and Dawn Princess
Dawn Princess had been in Brisbane for two weeks for a major refurbishment and we looking forward to seeing a refreshed ship. On the website Princess.com there had been daily updates of the refurbishment . Even the propellers had been taken off and checked! Some pretty major stuff
Anyway we received a Txt from Princess Cruises Friday evening saying the ship's departure had been delayed by 3 hours as the ship would not be released from dry dock until 6pm. We were very impressed with the txt message. We had booked a 10am flight from Sydney to Brisbane on Saturday morning with the intention of going straight to ship going onboard and having lunch. After receiving the txt we decided to hire a car at Brisbane Airport and spend Saturday day time at Surfers Paradise. We had a really great time in Surfers Paradise having not been there for six years. We lived there for ten years and were amazed at the changes. So many new very tall highrise apartment towers
Anyawy we were back at the Brisbane Cruise Centre about 6pm it was very buzzy with lots of bars and restaurants and many people milling around. It was a bit difficult working out where we actually had to go to find the cruise check-in area. The taxi driver did not know and , again, as in some other ports, there was a lack of any clear signs. Hint to Cruise Lines - Have decent signs outside piers directing passengers where to go!. After walking in the right direction we found the luggage drop and headed into the cruise check-in area. The Princess preferred counter was quick and efficient There were printed apologies about the delay. The cruise line had also been running free shuttle busses into central Brisbane all day for anyone who had turned up with out getting a message about the delay
We had a drink at the quay and watched the ship be moved across the Brisbane River to the pier in front of us. At one point half way across the river the ship ceased to move for half an hour and we were getting a little concerned that it might be a hotel and a plane back to Sydney. Finally the ship berthed in front of us. That was really exciting and a great atmosphere on the pier
We eventually boarded at 8pm going via the Venetian Dining room to make sure we had a table for two and said we would be back in twenty minutes after freshening up for dinner. Our cabin on this short cruise was a BF Balcony grade cabin. On this ship the cabins are on the small side and missing the walk-in wardrobe we had on Diamond Princess. There was a complimentary mini-bar set up and a personal welcome from the ship's Hotel Director which was nice. Our one big criticism with the cabin is with the TV. It should have been thrown overboard! It was a very small old fashioned box one. Why these have not been upgraded to a flat screen is a mystery.
The ship is exactly how Princess market the cruise line here in Australia "a premium cruise experience" and all prices are in Australian Dollars and the bar prices are very reasonable.
Dawn Princess is gleaming.
New carpets in most public areas, much new and replaced marble, wood handrails had been sanded back and revarnished, paint stripped back and redone, floors sanded right back and repolished All the public room chairs and sofas have been recovered - a major undertaking. There was not a speck of dust anywhere after two weeks of work. We are both simply in awe of the housekeeping staff as you would never have known that so much work had just been carried out
The two new Princess Signature features which were added during this refurbishment are the "Movies Under the Stars" a giant LCD screen set up beneath the funnel looking back over the main outdoor pool area. The screen is massive, looks good and the sound is awesome. Having Tina Turner live at Wembley Stadium being played on this screen sure beats the usual 'sail away" band. The other new feature is the adults only outdoor "sanctuary" this looks really great and is where you can spend a quiet day with waiter service at your finger tips, massages, a small pool. There will be a daily charge to use this facility. It wasn't quite ready on this short two day cruise
The Venetian Dining room and service is very good. We had two very good evening meals. The staff were all relaxed as from what we gather many of them had had a two week holiday whilst the ship was in dry dock. The breakfast service on the first morning was stunning we had four waiters hovering over the two of us ( the ship was full ) and made us feel very special. The day of arrival in Sydney the staff seemed all over the place and we waited ages for our pot of tea. Lunch in the buffet restaurant was very good with a great range of hot and cold meals
We ordered afternoon tea to be serviced in our cabin at 4.30pm on the sunday and at exactly 4.30pm there was a knocck on the door. A very nicely presented tea tray with warm scones and finger sandwiches
The evning production show was of a very high standard. It must have been very hard work dot the cast as we went the Saturday evening after dinner and before sailing. There were maybe only 50 other people in the the theatre.
The ships library reflects the American ownership of the cruise line. No offence to our American friends but this ship is now based in Australian waters and is catering mainly to Australians and New Zealanders. The non- fiction section desperately needs some money being spent on it and make the selection of books more suited to our "down under" tastes. There was a mass of books and biographies covering all sorts of American politics but nothing about Australia, New Zealand and Australians or New Zealanders. The cruise line really needs to address this.
Unfortunately the ship encountered very rough weather for most of the one day at sea resulting in a further delayed arrival into Sydney. This delay was handled smoothly by the ships staff. The delay did mean that instead of the usual early morning arrival in the dark into Sydney we steamed into Sydney Harbour late morning on what was a picture postcard perfect winters day. In a word STUNNING. We were both very impressed with the Captain's Circle hostess that morning who arranged to get Neil off the ship the moment clearance was given as he was starting a new job! We very nearly did not go in the first place after receiving that txt but so glad we did.
Overall for us with our "sea-legs" a sensational two days at sea. We both did feel very sorry for many of those people who suffered. We will be back on Dawn Princess in November 2009 and May 2010
Neil and William