Generally speaking this cruise was up to, and in some cases better than expectations.
FLIGHTS: Booked with Princess via Travel Agent. No choice of airline offered and took a long time to get confirmation of flights ex UK. British airways economy with it's infamous 31" leg room. Good food and service. Seats comfortable, in-flight entertainment excellent....but oh that leg room!!
ARRIVAL: Not impressed. After 22 hour flight, we had to go looking for Princess agent at airport. Then waited 90 minutes till she had all the group. Taken outside to stand for 30 minutes waiting for the bus. Luggage loaded on bus and not seen again till our cabin. Very good.
EMBARKATION: Large tent that had the atmosphere of a refugee clearance camp. Told we couldn't check in for another 90 minutes. Walked to nearby Darling Harbour, looked around, had coffee, then lunch. Back to ship at 14:00 assuming the rush would be over. It wasn't, due to hiccup with immigration computers. However we had priority boarding and that worked very well.
CABIN: Fabulous. Nicely furnished and wonderful balcony. Steward service, discreet, excellent. All the suite perks worked perfectly. Only slight annoyance was that even though there were 3 of us, only had 2 each of towels, bathrobes, slippers etc. Soon put to rights, but daily fruit and snacks often delivered for 2 people. Captains cocktail party invitations only given to 2 of us, but again soon amended after talking to passenger relations.
FOOD: Service, quantity, variety, all excellent in main dining room. However, the quality was just missing a point. UBD ordered in advance. Superb! Sterling Steakhouse, best steaks ever. Horizon Court, great variety of food for breakfast and lunch. Cafe Corniche, really good Pizza. Can't praise the waiting staff too highly. Friendly, efficient, but not over bearing.
ENTERTAINMENT: Not overly impressed with day-time activities. Evening shows with singers and dancers were most enjoyable, didn't go to 'hypnotist' 'comedian' type shows. Friends who wanted to dance the night away, very disappointed. They said that after midnight it was like walking round the 'Marie Celeste'.
ITINERARY: Excellent range of places for our day stop-offs. Showed the wonderful scenic side to New Zealand, plus some interesting towns/cities.
DIS-EMBARKATION: Beautifully handled. We were called to go ashore and within 5 minutes were in a taxi heading for our Sydney hotel.