22nd cruise with Princess...definitely in the top 3 of our experience...great itinerary---Sydney-Melbourne-Hobart-Fiordland-Dunedin-Lyttleton (for Christchurch)-Tauranga-Auckland...Captain Sagani is the most personable Princess Captain since Captain Creighton in the late '70's---his 12 o'clock reports are informative and entertaining (people were actually listening to them!) and his sailaway comments were a hoot-"the staff captain is at the helm so fasten your seat belts"...Cruise Director Adam Goder is the best we've had since J. J. King on the old "Royal Princess"...he had a spontaneity that was a relief from the canned dialogue of some of his peers on other ships and his leadership of the cruise director staff is apparent (their rendition of "If I were not upon this ship..." at the International Crew Show was a hoot)...
there was adequate time in each port---we chose not to take any organized tours because they were quite expensive and most had long bus rides to the destinations...we heard the time spent on the bus detracted from the destinations...we did our own walkabouts in Melbourne, Hobart (I found the "Ball&Chain" restaurant that my squadron adopted in 1976...great memories even though the restaurant has been 90% made over), Dunedin (take in the railway station and the Cadbury chocolate factory-good prices on the big 200g bars!), Christchurch (do the hop on-hop off tourist tram first to get a feel for the downtown area then walk around the places you want to see in more detail), Tauranga (take the beautiful no-cost 2 mile walk around Mt. Maunganui at a leisurely pace to savor the incredible coastal scenery or if you're fit enough climb up the mountain for a great view of your ship and surrounding area)
...our cabin (E326) was amidships so we didn't feel much "motion of the ocean" which was not very severe although the Tasman Sea can be a bit rough at times...the cabin is listed as obstructed view but the obstructions are minimal...the cabin steward, German, was superb and mostly invisible as are most of the cabin stewards we've had the pleasure of getting to know
...dining was phenomenal each day---we dined in the Savoy Dining Room and specifically enjoyed the starters, soups, and sorbets---the dinner entrees did not disappoint us and the selection each evening was varied giving us many delicious options (we especially enjoyed the snapper, barramundi, halibut and shrimp)---we had a standing table for two next to a window 5:30 reservation through the head waiter in the anytime dining scheme so we could eat leisurely and stroll up to the Princess Theatre for the evening shows
...the 5 production style shows were excellent---we had seen 4 of them before but they still were immensely enjoyed---the dancing and singing cast was quite talented especially Ella---the rest of the entertainment was pretty good---an aging English comic, Bobby Dennis whose act we've seen before is still funny with his rapid fire jokes and stories, a Tom Jones tribute act from Jacques Renay that was powerful albeit a tad corny at times, Gregg Arthur did a good job reviving crooners from the past, Placido Rodriguez a so-so comic vocalist, and Ella who filled in admirably in a solo act for a female vocalist headliner who became ill and did not appear...the remaining entertainers were outstanding from long-time Princess fixture Maurizio on the keyboards, the classically talented Astoria String Quartet, lounge acts Exotique and Amante were accomplished musicians and singers
...some new (for us) wrinkles on "Diamond Princess" were enjoyed (specialty lunch buffets-Indian, Mexican, Asian, and dessert...the no-cost soft ice cream station...the no-cost waffle station all on the Lido Deck were quite good)...the cleanliness of the entire ship was greatly appreciated (all public venues including restrooms and the Horizon Court buffet were kept at the highest standard despite a small minority of passengers who could occasionally put pigs to shame)...the boutique staff were congenial and many good values could be found there...as expected, the beverage, photo, and spa services were somewhat overpriced in my opinion but participation in those activities is strictly personal choice...The Captain's Circle Hostess Loren was a delightful young lady who has a wonderful outlook on life and is one of the most congenial people on this planet...We would choose this itinerary and crew again in a heartbeat!!!!