We have previously cruised to the Pacific Islands but not to Fiji which was where we headed to this time.
On our previous 3 cruises we had travelled by ourselves and had met heaps of people and made many new friends on board.
This time we travelled with 2 other couples and whilst we did'nt meet as many people we had a fantastic time being a group. Travelling with others has definite advantages. We had so much fun. We had our own table in the diningroom as there were 7 of us. There is safety in numbers if you want to do your own thing at the various ports. You can also save a heap of money by getting your own mini bus and getting the driver to take you to all of the major tourist spots and spend the amount of time you want rather than be part of an organised tour.
The Dawn Princess did not disappoint us. It is a large enough ship that there rarely is congestion and at the end of the cruise you are still seeing people that you have not seen before on the cruise.
The service on the ship is excellent. All of the staff were happy, friendly and nothing was too much trouble for them. As soon as you set foot on the ship the service starts and unfortunately stops as soon as soon as you set foot on shore again.
The food was to die for. Multiple venues to choose from so that if you did not want a formal sit down meal you can opt for the Buffet, pizza parlour or the BBQ on deck. The quality of the food was exceptional as was the sevice.
The cabins were the normal size, compact, clean and comfortable. Cabins are serviced at least twice a day, more if you request it. Again, the service is excellent, nothing is too much trouble. This time we opted for an inside cabin. I thought that I would miss having a window, but since we were only in the cabin to sleep, it was not a problem and I would certainly book an inside cabin again. It saves quite a bit of money especially if you are on a budget.
There were about 10 different bars on board so there was plenty of choice for where you would like to have a drink.
Drinks can be expensive, so, if you like to have a few as we did, prepare for a large drinks bill at the end of the cruise. Beers are between $5-$7 each, although we bought buckets of Becks (5 for $20) a good bargain. Cocktails were about $10 each. Wine from $7.50 a glass. Bottles from about $24 each.
If you are a soft drink only person or have kids, get the soft drink package when you get on. $144 for the cruise, as much soft drink as you can drink. This also includes Mocktails if you want what everyone else is having minus the alcohol plus smootheys and hot chocolate anywhere on the ship.
The Casino was good. We dont normally gamble, however they had lots of tournaments which were very inexpensive and gave you the opportunity to learn how all of the games are played. There were heaps of Pokies as well, for the Pokie addicts.
There were plenty of shops on board and most of the items for sale were very reasonably priced.
There was plenty of entertainment every day, so much so that you cannot do everything which is available. The shows on board were entertaining and were on twice a night so you could choose what time you would like to go.
The nightclub was also popular and suited all age groups.
The Sanctuary. When we first got on we all said that we would not pay $15 each for a four hour slot. We tried it once and we were all hooked. Private, luxurious and worth the $15. You also get served iced water, cold face towels and get your own MP3 with blockout BOSE headphones. There is also a special snack menu which is free but there is a $3 delivery charge.
The big screen on the deck was good. We didnt do movies under the stars but did watch the NRL Grand Final on it.
Kids club. Our daughter who is 15 had a great time. There were 65 other kids in her age group. She met heaps of people and made lots of friends. This cruise was in the NSW school holidays so there were lots of families with kids on board.
Don't let this put you off as you hardly noticed the kids as they were always busy off doing their own thing in the different clubs.
We had a few days of bad weather on this cruise so the boat was rocking a fair bit. We did not realy notice it too much but our friends who were on their first cruise did.
Make sure that you pack your Travalcalm and buy some wrist bands.
If you are worried about this make sure that you book a cabin mid ships as there is a lot less movement in the centre of the ship.
we did miss one of our stops due to bad weather, Druvuni Island in Fiji.
Noumea, New Caledonia.
We went on the the Yellow petite chou chou train. This was the only excursion which we booked on the cruise as we found them all to be very pricey. This was an excellent way to see a bit of Noumea. The town/city its self is pretty 3rd world. Stick to the tours or head to a 5 star resort.
We got off the ship and booked our own tour from one of the tour operators who had set up at the dock.
We went to the Zip Fiji. This is a tree top adventure on a series of 8 flying foxes. See zip-fiji.com for more info. This trip was fantastic and well worth booking on. It is very safe and your guides are fantastic.
We negotiated an extra $10 per head with our driver who then took us to a resort and a drive around for the rest of the day. Very worthwhile. We were then dropped off in the City of Suva. Again pretty 3rd world. Watch your wallets and bags if you ae walking around.
Port Denurau Fiji
The tender takes you in to this man made resort Island.
We caught the Bulla Bus to the furthest resort then resort hopped all the way back to the last one where we got the Bulla Bus back to the port. This is where all of the shops are and well worth a visit if you would like to buy some cheap clothing etc. There are also a number of diferent bars and restaurants to choose from which are all very nice. This is a very nice stop.
Dravuni Island, Fiji
This is supposed to be a stop and flop stop. We did'nt make it there due to bad weather.
Port Vila, Vanuatu
We loved this one. If you are doing your own thing, you will be mobbed by taxi drivers when you go through the gate from the dock touting for your business.
As there were 7 of us we jumped into the first vacant mini bus to go into town. During this trip we negotiated with the driver (Wilson)to hire him for the day for $200. He took us to all of the tourist destinations and waited for till we were ready to move on to the next spot. It was great and terrific value.
If you want cheap duty free grog, this is the place to buy it. It is dirt cheap, much cheaper than the ship.
Lifou, New Caledonia
Another sort of stop and flop island.
The snorkelling here was amazing so take our own gear. You can hire it but I wouldnt be too confident on the hygeine standards. There were markets there as well if you wanted to buy some local souveniers or a beer. You can also get onto a local tour here and book when you get there. We didnt bother as the snorkelling did it for us and it was free.
All in all, a geat time was had by the 7 of us.
Would I do another cruise? You bet ya. I'm hooked on cruising. You can't beat it. Would I cruise again with Princess Cruises? Absolutely, they really look after you.