We embarked in Sydney quite smoothly after a short wait without any dramas & had our bags in our room & unpacked a couple of hrs later.
As this was our first cruise with Princess we were curious as to how the ship and line would compare to others we had sailed on (HAL, Carnival, Norwegian, P&O, and Star cruises)but boarded without expectations as we know that ships based in Australia are a lot older than most.
This was our 9th cruise and we did have a great time on board, food and service from all crew was excellent, but the selection of entertainment could have been better as not all on board are over 60yrs. The timing of the shows need to be made better to suit the late 8pm sitting diners also, as most nights we could not attend the show at 10pm because we were still in the dining room and the earlier show clashed with our dining hours. The ship does need some tlc and a general spruce up, carpets stained and worn in places and the ceilings and lifts in many areas of the ship including the doorway from our balcony and others leaked when we had heavy rain. We were told the ship will be in dry dock for 2 weeks in April 2010 for refit of some kind, so maybe the above items are on the agenda.
The ships itinery was good but ship tours on board could be more reasonably priced, we organised our own with a little research prior to leaving home.
One smoking area was too close to doorway of the Riviera deck 12 so the smell of tobacco wafted through the corridor of cabins, which was unpleasant if you had a cabin there as did our friends.
WE visited other ports that do not show on your list, Lyttleton for Christchurch, Tauranga and Napier. They were all very good and had lots to offer.