Overall... We had a lovely time on the Sun Princess, sister ship to Dawn Princess and Sea Princess. We sailed from Sydney, then to Melbourne, then to Burnie, Port Arthur and Hobart, then returning to Sydney.
We were interested to compare the Sun Princess to Sea Princess, as we'd sailed to Alaska on the Sea Princess earlier this year. Destination-wise, Sea Princess won hands-down. However, the Sun Princess racked up more points for slightly fresher decor (she will be overhauled in April 2010, apparently) and better food.
Stateroom We booked a balcony stateroom on deck 11 (Aloha). There were no suprises as the room was virtually the same as the cabin we had on Sea Princess. The only difference was the TV was a flat screen, not CRT. We were attended to by the wonderful Jerry - nothing was too much trouble (not that we were demanding...) and he was very chirpy.
We took lots of long naps on this cruise, mainly because we couldn't sleep as the ship rocked and rolled its way across the Tasman. It was very rough out of Sydney, again out of Melbourne, and on the return from Hobart to Sydney. Lots were sea sick; luckily we escaped that. Just a few sleepless nights.
Ports One word: shemozzle. Some of it down to Princess, some of it not. We were delayed out of Melbourne for several hours because explosives were detected in some cargo pallets (who new cruise ships carried cargo?!). The Captain announced to begin with that drugs had been found. That got blown out of the water (pardon the pun) when the bomb squad, complete with robots, turned up. Most passengers were back on board whilst the ship was searched, but some unlucky ones were left on the docks. Finally reunited with the ship 4 hours later and we set sail for Burnie.
Food Excellent! There were dessert buffets after lunch on the two sea days and everything looked and tasted wonderful. The Horizon Court buffet selections were fresh and tasty and there was plenty of choice. There was an Italian-themed lunch and sushi on one of the sea days. The food in the main dining room was also very good, although we gave both formal nights a miss because we didn't have the correct attire. Room service was swift and friendly and the afternoon tea was delicious. Lots of pastries in the cafe, and warm cookies in the afternoon. I put on 2kgs.
Gym A bit of a disappoinment from a treadmill perspective. They're really old and could do with being replaced. As ever, a queue to get in. No points for the ones who jumped ahead and entered illicitly through the Lotus Spa. But then, there's always a few on every ship... I jogged around the Promendae deck at around 6am on three mornings. Just me and the crew, swabbing the deck. They didn't mind me being there and even encouraged me a bit.
Pools and spas All seemed to be in use. The kiddies tended to keep to their pools and there always seemed to be room. We brought our swimmers but didn't go in, mainly because I was afrid of being harpooned. Ady Gil could have come to my rescue I suppose.
Art Auction I have to mention this because the Art Director was a pice of work (no pun intended). Rude, patronising, and completely disinterested in what she was doing. And openly sneered at the very people she was trying to cultivate. I couldn't believe my ears when I heard her "directing" the crew assigned to move the art - so dismissive and unpleasant. I'm surprised she wasn't turfed overboard but then, perhaps the sharks would have thrown her back. I believe she left Princess' company in Sydney for some R&R. A good outcome.
Laundromat Charges AUD1.00 for soap and the same again for the washer and dryer. No queues and we used them twice. No complaints.
Entertainment We didn't attend any of the shows, but heard they were good. The trivia questions were hard!!
A LOT of unhappy campers at this port. Princess operated a tender
system to get passengers to shore. Because we firmly believe early
birds get the juciest worms, we arrived at the Vista Lounge right on
time to collect our tender tickets and were rewarded by being assigned
That said, it still took us two hours to get off the ship because the
local port authorities once again held the ship up for ages, and then
there was a cluster with which tenders from which ships got to use
which part of the arrival pontoon.
Bottom line - we arrived at Port Arthur on our tender at 11am. By the
time we caught the tender back to the ship at 3pm, Passenger Services
were still calling people with tender tickets in the low 40s!! What a
Port Arthur itself was lovely and well worth the visit.
Hobart was nice. We took the Big Red bus tour, but bought tickets from
the Information Centre (not Princess) and thus saved a small fortune.
Hobart's got some lovely architecture, and quite a compelling convict
Of interest, the Ady Gil was berthed in Hobart quite near the Sun
Princess. The Ady Gil is an anti-whaling boat pitched by the Sea
Shepherds against Japanese whalers in the Antarctic. It's quite a
futuristic-looking craft - a throw back from a Batman movie. It added a
bit of colour to our day.
We had a big bowl of squid and chips on the dock (because we really
needed more food...) then rolled back to the ship. Of interest, the
ship was delayed (again) because a couple of teenaged fools decided to
spend the afternoon in the pub and didn't appear until an hour after we
were supposed to be back on board. So, contrary to all advice I've ever
been given, it appears the ship does indeed wait for late-comers. In
this instance, I reckon they wouldn't have missed (by anyone but the
Purser, that is because I'm sure their bar bills would have been huge).