Fly to Sydney for a stay of 5 nights (stayed at the Four Points by Sheraton in Darling Harbour, fanstatic) met relatives and had a jolly good time and on the 11th Jan boarded the Diamond Princess. This ship filled Circular Quay and it looked very large. No trouble in boarding, we did as asked and arrived after 2pm. Found the cabin D740 aft with a very large balcony, a bit of a waste because all we had was 2 chairs and a small coffee table, did ask if we could have a couple of sun loungers with no success. The luggage arrived in less than a hour, remarkable considering how many people were boarding. Toured the ship, found everything with no trouble. On leaving Sydney we had to wait because 140 people were flying in from Bisbane, plane was delayed, the consequence being that we were in the International Dining Room when we left, we would have loved to have seen the Opera House from the ship butit was not to be. We requested a table for two, this was granted. The food and service was good although the dining room was not full, very quiet in fact, there seems to be a tendency for Anytime Dining now. We had a look at the other dining rooms and the tables seem to be very close together. The choice on the menus for both food and wine was the typical Princess fare, all very well cooked although for the wines I was hoping for more Australian and New Zealand wines seeing where we were sailing. The waiters was extremely attentative and only too pleased to help. During the day we ate in the Horizon Court, very crowded and poor choice at times, not our favourite place. The ports were very good and we were impressed by them all although there are plenty of sea days. Melbourne was lovely, lots of sports stadiums, they were getting ready for the Australian Open, did The Puffing Billy Train, all aranged by Princess, expensive, but well worth it. Hubby is a train emthusiast so he thought he'd died and gone to heaven. Glorious scenery everywhere. Would do it again and would advise anybody to try it. We were fortunate that we had a bit of time spare and the bus driver took us a tour of the city. Very lovely city, clean and looks well planed.
The next day spent at sea, lovely sunshine and always found a quiet corner. There was plenty of activites for cruisers to try and because it's holiday time for children down under there were a lot of children so the swimming pool was always full. The nexr port was Hobart, it was Sunday, not much was open, did another Princess excursion, around the island and also visited the Royal Botanical Gardens, for a garden lover this was gorgeous, all plants we grow in this country and a small lake that looked exactly like Monet's.
The next two days we crossed the Tasman Sea expecting rough seas but no absolutly calm so another chance to sunbathe, we never saw another ship, the sea looked very calm and empty.
Next day was Fiordlan Natl Park, impressive scenery although cold when standing outside, good for photographers.
Dunedin was the next port of call and another train journey, Taieri, it was a change to see the countryside and lots and lots of sheep. Fortunately the bus driver was local and knew all the farmers so we had a running commentary of who lived where. A great ride spectacular in every way, had a packed lunch whilst on the train , another great excursion in every way.
The next port was Akaroa, a small french town where the french had a whaling station, met the grandchildren, great excitement all round. This is a very pretty place, quaint houses and a lovely beach.
Next day at sea and still no other ships, the weather was very kind to us so found another quiet spot to soak up the sun.
I haven't mentioned Entertainment, it was the usual American fare, we only went to a couple, not really to our taste.
Tauranga was the final port before Auckland and met more relatives, a nice place although I don't think we saw at its best, cold and rainy. Lovely beach, good restaurants and shops.
We finally arrived at Auckland early the next morning, disembarkation was seemless and we left to catch a place to Christchurch to spend of our holiday with the grandchildre.
We enjoyed the cruise but noticed that there weren't many other cruise ships around, only saw a very old P&O, another old Silver Seas, RCI and the Sun Princess, so theren't isn't much competition as there is in Europe.
In short we thoroughly enjoyed the cruise although have enjoyed other cruise ships better, my advice would be chose your ship with care.