46 days was more than double the length of my biggest cruise. What was I going to do during some of the big 'sea day' legs of the journey. There were three legs of 7 days plus other legs of 3 and 4 days respectively.
We sailed from Fremantle to Singapore; Kuala Lumpur, Penang in Malaysia; Phuket in Thailand; Cochin, Goa, Mumbai in India; the Maldives; the Seychelles; Richards Bay, Port Elizabeth, Cape Town and Durban in South Africa; Reunion Island and Mauritius on a circum-navigation of the Indian Ocean
Being an older ship than others I have travelled on before, the cabins on Sun Princess, whilst being smaller were adequate for the journey.
The restaurants assigned for dining (Regency and Marquise) were very good. Friendly and attentive staff made the dining experience enjoyable. Food quality was of a high standard. A disappointment, however, was the fixed dining times.
The buffet (Horizon Court) was a disappointment. During the voyage it became More
known as The Horror Zone Court. Whilst the food was plentiful there was little change in the menu over the course of the 46 days. As is always in the buffets on other ships, the search for seats at all meal times can be frustrating when trying to sit with friends.
Verdi's Pizzeria was a welcome change from the main restaurant dining and was an enjoyable experience.
The Steakhouse at cover-charge of $20 was a disappointment. Having it as a sectioned of area of the Horizon Court did not enhance the dining experience.
The Terrace Grill provided a welcome break from other dining facilities.
Room Service was OK but only offered a continental breakfast. It seemed strange that if one had a Pizza delivered to their cabin there was a $3 charge yet no such charges for breakfast, lunch or dinner deliveries.
Bar facilities were plentiful around the ship.
Both the Princess Theatre and the Vista Lounge provided comfortable venues for the performances from the variety of entertainers performances during the 46 days.
Some of the entertainers were ordinary but on the whole they provided an enjoyment for the passengers throughout the cruise
The Shooting Stars night club was under- utilised which was due largely to the age of the passengers (70+ was the average).
A vast array of activities was provided for the passengers as outlined in the daily Princess Patter.
As is the case on all cruises internet charges are very expensive and it is understandable that because of satellite connections the service is slow and chews big chunks of time from the various price plans available, however I did find that communication by texting on my mobile was available at all times and provided a much cheaper alternative for contacting family at home.
The ports of call were many and varied. With 15 ports of call you really had to plan your shore activities.
The port facilities at many of them were not conducive to passenger ships because they were industrial ports. However, Princess Cruises through their port managers ensured that the safety of the passengers was paramount and ensured a safe transit for them through these very large port facilities.
I did a few of the shore excursions on offer by the ship and found most them to be enjoyable but extremely over- priced for what they offered. I was very disappointed in my safari drive in Richards Bay, South Africa ($289 for a full day with lunch included). It was no more than a drive on a bitumen road through a very large animal sanctuary.
As is the case on almost all cruise ships, the port lectures provided useful insights as to what to expect in the ports of call but whilst they mentioned taxis services etc. were available at the ports not enough information was forthcoming for those passengers wanting to do their own thing.
Shuttle transfers in some ports when provided, were much appreciated. Teaming up with passengers I met in the course of the cruise meant that going ashore in some ports I was able to share costs of local transport. This was the case in Durban where I shared a taxi with three other people. We journeyed out to The Valley of a Thousand Hills, a spectacular setting that offered magnificent views, a safari drive and a Zulu village. We came back to the city and spent an hour and a half at the Botanical gardens then a great lunch on the waterfront. All this for 200 Rand (approxiamately $30 per person. The best part of the day for a lot less than anything offered by Sun Princess.
In all the ports of call all offered something different and many a fond memory will remain with me forever like my visit to Robben Island off Cape Town. Here Nelson Mandela was held captive for 27 years.
The ports we visited in India were eye-openers. Chaos reigns supreme. Crowds, poverty, wealth, filth and beauty. It was all before your eyes and very hard to take in the one day in each port. The islands we visited are each impresive in their individual ways, beautiful scenery and beaches, bustling towns, great food and friendly people.
I have yet to be on a cruise where I have had to say anything negative about a ship's staff. As always they were very friendly, helpful and polite in all areas of the ship.
The one negative however, was that I was extremely disappointed with the Cruise Director. As the person responsible for the on-board entertainment and activities I feel he missed the mark with some of the scheduling of programs on the Movies Under the Stars facility. An awful lot of concert programs were run and re-run many times but attracted very few watchers as they were of artists such as Christine Aguilera, U2, The Killers etc. ,hardly the type suited for the passenger age group.
The sailing back to Fremantle over a 7 day sea leg from Mauritius seemed to go very quick and after the 46 days of our journey I didn't want to get off.
All in all it was a wonderful cruise with many highlights. I think I can get used to longer cruises.