Sail Date: December 2013
The reason I chose the diamond princess was so I could escape all the madness that surrounds Christmas . So husband and three adult children set of and what a wonderful time it was. No worries about what to eat on Christmas Day, who's ... Read More
The reason I chose the diamond princess was so I could escape all the madness that surrounds Christmas . So husband and three adult children set of and what a wonderful time it was. No worries about what to eat on Christmas Day, who's house to go to, who to invite, who not to offend. The most relaxing and enjoyable Christmas for a long time. Food is in abundant, shows entertainment and organised activities are plenty, but also time to relax as much as you want also. The cruise staff are a pleasure to watch in action and certainly make you feel special . Nothing is too much trouble for the wait staff and again they are in abundance . recommend this cruise for anyone with children as again they have young clubs on there and all day activities. Most of the children on board were well behaved some got a little bit loud at times. The best thing was having no internet connection so everyone you met on decks did not have their face in a phone so had to make conversation with you and look you in the eye. Recommend to anyone.   Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2013
After sailing with other cruise lines in the past and having a blast, we decided to sail with Princess for the first time due to the itinery they offered over the holiday period. Biggest mistake I have ever made. I don't normally ... Read More
After sailing with other cruise lines in the past and having a blast, we decided to sail with Princess for the first time due to the itinery they offered over the holiday period. Biggest mistake I have ever made. I don't normally complain and have spent just as much time writing raving reviews on here about our other great cruises, but this was a disaster. We checked our bags in at the luggage drop off at 10 am and went and did some final shopping in Auckland and then checked in to the ship at 12pm. Check in and embarkation was quick and smooth. 2 of our three bags arrived sporadically throughout the day. Cabins are much smaller than we are used to and showers are tiny so don't even think about this ship if your a bigger person. 6 pm and our bag still hadn't arrived. After several requests to our cabin steward and the ship due to leave the dock I was told "don't worry" by our steward with quite a bit of attitude. As the ship was pulling out I call the steward to ask him to find out if my bag was at least on the ship, to this again the response I got was "don't worry". At this stage I was worried and was fed up with his flippant attitude and asked him to find my bag as this was the luggage that had all of our clothing. No more than 2 minutes later there was a knock on our stateroom door where our cabin steward was standing with our missing bag which he felt the need to throw at me and walk off without saying a word. I was dumbfounded, and contacted passenger services to complain about what had happened. And we hadn't even left the heads yet. Let's just say the service didn't get any better. The ship ran out of white wine on day 2 of a 12 day Christmas new year cruise. Most of the bars closed at 7pm and others didn't open till 5 forcing you to walk half the ship to get a drink. One afternoon I was in the Churchill lounge reading a book and felt like a drink so had to go to the casino as it was the closest bar open and asked for a glass of Pino Grigio. The girl behind the bar quite sharply responded " we don't have any" and after looking me up and down added " the only bottle of white wine we have here is $70 a bottle", as if I couldn't afford it. As we were travelling with my partners family we decided to try Vivaldi's on night 2, the head waiter was extremely rude and denied us entry to a half empty restaurant because we were on anytime dining. Last I was led to believe anytime dining means "anytime". We did find out later that Vivaldi's is the only restaurant on board that has a policy of anytime starting at 8:15pm, however the waiter should have handled it much better. All the staff with very few exceptions, seemed like it was an effort and a hindrance to carry out the simplest of tasks. Christmas Day was a non event apart from Santa being in the atrium for 2 hours for the kids in the morning there was nothing special organised. Christmas lunch was had in the buffet and the only thing that even made it slightly Christmassy was sliced ham. Dinner was a bit better with sliced turkey and pudding in the dining rooms, which made a few people on the ship, including me, sick. The choice of food was non existent throughout the cruise and felt like we ate the same things for 12 whole days and the anytime dining rooms all served the same food, which we found out later is not normally the case. The dining rooms were also extremely hot and overheard severally passengers complain. The wait staff were clumsy and frequently got orders wrong. We did, however, participate in the chefs table, which I would highly recommend as it's well worth the money. New Year's Eve also bearley happened. The top decks were blocked off from about 8 pm so no acces to the forward smoking area was allowed and all of the outdoor bars closed at 7pm. We thought we'd try sabatinis (a $25 per head specialty Italian restaurant) for New Years. Food was good but found out later that evening that the same menu was served in the anytime dining rooms at no extra charge so I would like to know what we paid the extra for. The only thing organised was a ballon drop which went off early so we missed it. The atmosphere was less than celebratory. The only place to go was skywalkers nightclub which again was way to hot and the crew pretty much took over the club once their shifts finished. It was the first New Years ever that I bearley made the countdown before I went to bed, extremely disappointed. The entertainment onboard is certainly left to be desired, if you could find it at all. There was nothing on the open decks and the quality of what was available was ammiature. For the first time ever we actually considered disembarking early. The final straw for us was on the last night. I cracked my head open getting into the pool. After having it attended to by a paramedic and being told it only required a few band aids, woke up the next morning to a blood soaked pillow. I went down to the medical centre to have it looked at before disembarking to be greeted with " oh YOUR the guy from last night" with a snide tone. After being assessed by the nurse, who was one of the few polite people on board the doctor came in and assesed the wound. Never before have I been judged so much in my life. After a clean up and some steri strips the head of security came in. Let me tell you this guy needs a job in Guantanamo Bay. Falling short of calling me a lier, he stormed out and slammed the door. I have never been so humiliated in my life. Oh and they charged me $200 for the experience. This was the worst holiday of my life and will never travel with Princess Ever again, and if you want to enjoy your holiday that you spend your hard earned money on, I suggest you don't either. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2013
We arrived in Auckland 3 days early to look around and was not disappointed it is a lovely place, come time to board the ship I was a little disappointed in the time and conditions that it took to get aboard very slow and very hot and ... Read More
We arrived in Auckland 3 days early to look around and was not disappointed it is a lovely place, come time to board the ship I was a little disappointed in the time and conditions that it took to get aboard very slow and very hot and uncomfortable , but once on board things started to change the cabin was great quite roomy and the décor was lovely very quite no noise at all even one rough night of weather and very little wind noise. The staff are fantastic right down to the lads that attend to the toilets they are so happy go lucky they truly enhance the trip our dining staff were so good I had my head waiter choose my meals for me and I was never disappointed. If I have a sour note I felt the entertainment left a bit to be desired the theatre shows were very average compared to other cruises that I have been on I walked out on three shows and I have never done that before, the smaller acts around the ships bars and so forth were quite good it was just the main entertainment. Specialty dinning was lovely Silks was a little spicy for my taste but the two others were great over all yes I would do it again. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2012
It has been close to a month since we embarked on our Crystal Symphony Holiday Cruise in Auckland, but the memories of it linger fondly. We thought we would share this review. For ease of reference, we have broken our review down by ... Read More
It has been close to a month since we embarked on our Crystal Symphony Holiday Cruise in Auckland, but the memories of it linger fondly. We thought we would share this review. For ease of reference, we have broken our review down by categories, more or less. 1. Embarkation: Embarkation was a breeze. From the moment we entered the shipyard it took less than three minutes to board the ship and registration under two minutes if that. Efficiently and quickly handled, we were on our way to the MDR for our traditional lunch of Cobb Salad and along the way we saw several familiar and welcoming faces. 2. Computer and Wi-Fi: The folks who staff the Computer University deserve a medal of valor. We were able to set up our iPads quickly to access the WiFi and though I had a bit of difficulty at first due to the demand for WiFi of all of the guests logging in at once, that soon resolved itself. Sadly, we saw several guests over the first week of the cruise who were terribly rude and disrespectful of the CU staff complaining endlessly about the WiFi connectivity and how much better it was on other ships and how it was not like being at home. To their credit the staff was consistently polite (far more than I would have been under like circumstances). Though Crystal makes numerous efforts in its materials to give guests a realistic set of expectations, some just don't get it and the rudeness was appalling. Through it all, though, the staff did their best and kept trying to please and offering suggestions. During the course of the cruise, connectivity was excellent for the most part in both common areas and in our stateroom on the 10th floor. 3. MDR, PREGO and SILK ROAD: The food was consistently excellent. Special ordered foods were prepared precisely as requested. Portion sizes were reasonable and we noted little waste of food or food left on plates at the end of the meal which is a great sign that the food was delicious and also of the desire to not waste food. The selection was always good. Service in the MDR was excellent (Kudos to Celso, Renjith, Hayley and our sommelier Kremena and her assistant Michaelangelo all of whom were top notch!) Service in Prego was outstanding as always and the food scrumptious. Service in Silk Road we found to be a bit intrusive at the wrong times and rushed, especially by the sommelier who looked like he was in a hurry to meet demand for his services. A special note about AI. We did not note any delay in sommelier service at our table for 8. Kremena was seemingly always there when a glass needed filling and extremely knowledgeable about the choice of wines being offered and other options. 4. SHOWS: We enjoyed the shows and especially noted that there was not a single repetition of shows during the cruise. Every night had different entertainment. We did find the decision to have some shows for late seating diners at 7 p.m. to be confusing and as a result missed a show designed by Marvin Hamlisch that we really wanted to see. That being said, the artists brought on board were wonderful and we enjoyed them thoroughly. Our only criticisum would be that we noted that members of the Crystal Ensemble of Singers and Dancers on a couple of occasions took seats in what we woulc consider prime locations in the Galaxy meaning that passengers had to find seats way along the perimeter of the showroom. The same held true on several nights in the Avenue Saloon where an entire side of the room was taken with Crystal Ensemble dancers and singers and passengers had no place to sit. As we soon learned, Mark Farris is one of the hottest tickets on the 7 seas and he could sure use a larger venue to perform but probably the intimacy of the Saloon is what makes him so great among other things like his sense of humor and his musical skills. Special kudos for the great DIVA show which was tops and excellent shows by Will Martin and by Boys in the Band. 5. MAGIC AT SEA: We recall the catty postings about the prospect of Magic at Sea before it launched that we read on these boards. Magic at Sea this time around with Andrew Goldenhersh was a GREAT experience. Andrew is a world class magician and the chance to see him in an intimate setting with 20 passengers was not to be missed. Apparently almost half of those on board concurred as his shows were full and standing room only on some instances we are told. There was nothing but class and quality in his act. Best of all, he involved willing passengers and each attendee was within a few feet of him as he performed complex effects with great finesse. Furthermore, the tickets we each received to use in the future to get access to the World Famous Magic Castle pribate club in Los Angeles were an added bonus. Being one of the hardest tickets in Los Angeles to get (you either have to be a member of the Academy of Magical Arts or know a member to get in the door), getting a free pass to get in at some time in the future was icing on the cake. We hope Crystal keeps this program going. 6. USC CINEMA SCHOOL IPAD IMOVIE CLASSES: Dave attended this class and loved it. The instructors Claudia and David from USC School of Cinema were wonderful, patient and helpful. Both spent extra time outside of the class time with Dave helping him learn how to use the iMovie program. The written materials and the hands on help which were provided were stellar. Dave intends to take the class again when he is next onboard to refine his knowledge of the program. Having two left hands when it comes to this type of technology, Dave really found the classes great and the instructors patient and easy to learn from for which he is grateful. 7. SPA AND GYM: We both had spa services and used Brian to train us privately in the gym. The spa was lovely though smaller than the Serenity. Brian was simply fantastic. He was encouraging, put us through quite a work out each time, and very positive. He is clearly knowledgeable about personal fitness and health and we cannot wait to be back on board to train with him again. Dave tried his first spinning class with Brian and found it to be very challenging. Brian was encouraging and Dave will definitely do it again thanks to Brian's kind words and feedback. 8. SMOKING: We spent less than 10 minutes in the entire cruise at the Crystal Cove. The smoke was overpowering. Similarly we found ourselves having to leave the Avenue Saloon a few times due to smoking. We realize that smoking in those venues is soon to be a thing of the past and are sure that the performers and workers in those venues cannot wait for that day to come on both ships. We did not note a lot of smokers on the Lido deck, but then again we did not go looking for them. We did note a fair amount of Crystal employees smoking at the fore of the ship and imagine a smoking ban might really impact them more than one might have thought. 9. FORMAL NIGHTS: Call us old fashioned but being in our late 50's--early 60's we do still enjoy formal nights. It is a hassle to bring all of the items required for formal dress but we are always glad we did so. We noted that folks looked very nice on those nights and even on informal nights too. We did not see more than one instance of what might be considered inappropriate attire in the MDR at dinner. We hope Crystal will maintain the Formal Nights on the cruises. 10. ALL INCLUSIVE: Being that we are not big drinkers, free and unlimited alcohol held no allure for us. That being said, we only noted one instance in the Avenue Saloon where a woman was sleeping with her head in her husband's lap during one of Mark's shows. We do not know if that was excess alcohol or fatigue but it struck us that if she was that sleepy, she should have gone up to her room. We also, as is our custom, provided gifts to some of the folks who served us for XMAS and extra gratuities especially for our butler, room stewardess, Senior Waiter, Head Waiter, Assistant Waiter, Lido and Gym personnel and a few other folks all of whom looked surprised to receive anything and were very appreciative. COnsistently during our cruise we noted smiling and happy faces among the crew. Not once did we encounter a rude or sour or unhappy crew member. 11. CONCIERGE SERVICES: We need to express our thanks publically to Gareth and Patrick at the concierge desk for their excellent assistance. They promptly and very skillfully handled multiple arrangements for us and kept us informed of their progress and confirmed everything in writing. They are the very best at what they do and very personable to boot. 12: SHORE EXCURSIONS: We enjoyed the shore excursions and only wished that perhaps a few more culinary excursions or cooking experiences could have been arranged. And we were sorry to have missed the chance to bike around Napier but did enjoy that Art Deco tour in the old Packard auto with Tony! 13. LIDO DECK: Having sailed on both Crystal ships we cannot help but compare our last cruise on the Serenity in March 2012 with this holiday cruise. The difference was most noticeable on the Lido Deck. On the Serenity (before they went AI), we were constantly asked by Lido crew if we wanted any food or drinks. We found on this cruise that we were asked about drinks from time to time, but outside of the late risers breakfast service, the solicitation of our food and beverage desires was more sporadic. It seemed like there were fewer crew on the Lido deck during lunch and afternoon than we were accustomed to. Still, the guys who approached us and helped us were wonderful and the burgers and ice cream can't be beat! 14. OUR PENTHOUSE: We've sailed both ships before and the highlight of the cruises starts when we are greeted by our dear butler IGOR BABICK who makes each sailing a special joy. He and Sheetal our stewardess made sure we had everything we needed and were charming to deal with. We cannot say enough about our cabin crew and how wonderful they are. The room is a bit smaller than on the Serenity and there is less drawer space, but when IGOR enters the room and greets us, the space is just right. 15. NEW YEARS EVE: Crystal outdid themselves for New Year's Eve. Yes second seating dinner was a bit harried, but the views and location of the catamaran near the Sydney Harbor Bridge was the best seat bar none and we were front and center. We will NEVER forget the wonders of 12/31/12 and ringing in the new year in Sydney Harbor. We doubt Crystal could ever top that excursion though we suspect that they will continue to try to do so in coming years. 16. REMI AND OUR DINING ROOM TABLEMATES: As always we asked for a late seating and a table of 8. Remi, ever the magician, put together an absolutely splendid table of dinner mates for us. We enjoyed every dinner together, periodically becoming so lost in the conversation and laughter that we practically were the last ones out of the MDR at night. We do not know how he does it, but it is a special skill. We had such a great time that we have all agreed to sail on the Northern Cape July 2014 voyage together and to request the same table and table mates again. We know we'll keep in touch with Mary, Fran, Lyn, Nancy, Cathy and Ernie and see them from time to time if our travels permit either here where we live or in their home towns and we can't wait. 17. COMPLAINTS: Aside from our observation about crew taking prime seats at some entertainment venues, we only have one other complaint and it is one which Crystal cannot do much about. As we expected, a holiday cruise has children on it and sadly, some of the children onboard had parents who were not attentive to their children's behaviors or chose to ignore it. Running up and down the hallways, playing in the elevator, trying to glide down the bannisters and running around on the dance floors was hardly appropriate conduct. We noted young children teetering on bar stools near the ice cream bar, picking through the cookies in the box there and putting cookies back that they had touched. We heard of children pushing doorbells late at night at certain staterooms. As noted above, sadly, some folks do not know how to behave and therefore do not teach their children about appropriate behavior on the ship. Again we do not fault Crystal for that and we did note several families with extremely well behaved children. Finally, as we have found to be consistently true, we ended our cruise longing to stay longer and realizing that we simply had to wait until our next cruise comes around (in a mere 130 or so days). We left the ship feeling so relaxed and having seen such marvelous places and sights, and having made some wonderful new friends and acquaintances and concluded, as we always do, that there is simply nothing better than a Crystal cruise. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2012
Pre cruise There is an Airport Shuttle from the Airport to Downtown Auckland for $14 one way. Pickup is outside Door Nine in the International Terminal and you pay the driver directly. The bus was a typical city-type bus and the driver ... Read More
Pre cruise There is an Airport Shuttle from the Airport to Downtown Auckland for $14 one way. Pickup is outside Door Nine in the International Terminal and you pay the driver directly. The bus was a typical city-type bus and the driver announced which hotels were served at each stop. Pre-Cruise Hotel was Crowne Plaza CBD which is a nice hotel- about what you would expect from a Crowne Plaza property. If arriving from the Airport on the Express bus there is a back entrance along Elliot Street. From the bus stop at 237 Queen St., take Darby St. to the pedestrian Mall on Elliot St. and turn left. The marked Entrance is through the mall on the right. We used Gray Line Tours for a one-day bus tour of the North Island that included the Glow Worm caves in Waitomo and the thermal park in Rotorua. They pick up right in front of the Crowne Plaza so it was easy to coordinate. The glow worms are inside a cave and are visible on the ceiling. After walking through the cave area, you get in a raft and silently move towards the dark cave where the glowworms are nestled in the ceiling. The scene resembles a planetarium with the dots of Glow Worms on the ceiling. In Rotorua, the Thermal Park and Maori Concert at Te Puia were nice. Included was a guided tour of the mud pots and geysers. There was also a Kiwi at the park but since they are nocturnal it was almost impossible to see it in the darkened display. A light lunch was served on the bus as well as a snack on the way back to Auckland. This is a good way to see the north island and the thermal areas for far less than a ship excursion. Embarkation- Quick and painless. We arrived just after 4 and walked through without waiting. The Ship- The Diamond Princess was extremely stable, even during heavy seas. In fact, it was far more stable than previous ships we have been on. The only noticeable issue was a "wobble" or vibration at times but even in the Tasman Sea the ship never actually rocked too much. Passengers were evenly mixed between Aussies, Brits, and Yanks, along with some groups of Russians, New Zealanders, and Brazilians. For the first time on a cruise, the beer on board was cheaper than in port. For most Americans and Canadians, the cost of many things in NZ and AUS are much higher than found at home. For example, $2.90NZD for a 16oz. Coke was about average in stores. Also, Princess had money exchange machines on board which gave a similar rate to banks ashore but the exchange fee was only $4.50USD which was cheaper than the local banks and money exchange stores. We felt the staff was more attentive and personable than ever before. We felt this was the best overall service we received of any Cruise, even though many of the Crew contracts expired midway through the cruise. My only complaint is the one way entrance and exit in the buffet which caused traffic jams as passengers backtrack to exit and collide with those moving clockwise as they enter. The Wake Show with cruise director Kelvin was excellent. Just FYI, he is moving to the Crown Princess after the next cruise. I don't know if Port lecturer Elizabeth was unfamiliar with the ports on this cruise or just wasn't good at presentations, but she was not the best for directions if you wanted to explore on your own. Typical things missing from port lectures were what times the Shuttles ran or how far it was to the central business district. She also tended to wander off topic into things not related to the port. Food- Excellent. Typical Breakfast on the buffet included Corned Beef Hash, Fried Eggs, Omelets, Pancakes/ French toast, whole fruit, Apples, Pears, Oranges, stewed Pears, Prunes, Peaches, Oatmeal and Congee, Bacon, link Sausage, and an alternative Sausage (Italian, bangers, etc.) and different variations of Fried Rice. Operating times which did not change were 5:00am-6:00am for Continental and 6:00am-11:30am for regular breakfast (although by 5:30am full breakfast was always out and available) Lunch was available from 11:30am-3:30pm and snacks (good) from 3:30pm-5:30pm. Lunch options were too varied to list but always available were fruit, excellent rolls and bread, wrapped sandwiches, a carved meat and four other main course meats, salad bar, and a dessert bar. Dinner was 5:30pm and 8:00pm for traditional seating and 5:30pm-10:00pm for anytime dining. The Buffet was open 5:30pm-11:00pm. In the MDR always available for dinner were a half pound Burger, Sirloin Steak, and grilled Salmon. There was an optional poolside buffet on sea days which alternated with Italian, Mexican, Sushi, and Soup days. On three of the sea days they provided a British "Pub Lunch" in one of the alternative Dining rooms with your choice of a Ploughman's lunch of bread, cheese and pickles, or either bangers and mash or fish and chips (beer extra). It was a nice thought, but we could have found better food in any of the dining rooms. In a change from our last Princess cruise, the soft serve at Scoops is now free during opening hours 11:00am-11:00pm Entertainment -- Mostly production shows featuring the ships dancers for the first nine days, with some comedians and Ventriloquists later in the cruise. There are three movie channels on the TV that show recent movies that were in theaters within the last year. Typically the primary MUTS movie was shown the next day on channel 21, but not listed in the channel guide. The Channel lineup was ESPN international, NFL games (during season) Australian TV (within Australian waters) an art channel, Princess TV (TV show repeats including "The Love Boat"), Fox News, MSNBC, BBC, and CNBC. In the evening most alternate entertainment was skewed towards music and dancing in the Explorers lounge, Wheelhouse bar, and the Atrium. Onboard activities- The sea days included the usual assortment of carpet bowling and fee-based and fee-free seminars. For New Year's, there was a balloon drop in the atrium and a second party outside on the pool deck that had steamers and similar festivities. Champagne bottles were available for purchase There is a self-service laundry on each floor for $2.00 each for wash and the same for dry. The wash/dry times listed on the machines aren't always accurate, so plan on getting back early. There was also a special on one sea day of $20 for everything you could stuff in a laundry bag. Otherwise you could opt for the usual dry cleaning at a cost consistent with most Hotels. Disembarkation -- Typical Princess Cruises quick and painless disembarkation. At our allotted time we walked off the ship. Nothing more need be said. I'll list detailed port information in the Cruise Critic port reviews. The following are Princess-specific details: Tauranga-- Docked in Mt. Maunganui at the intersection of Mall Rd. and Salisbury Ave. There were plenty of local tours offered at the I-site in the port, including a HoHo bus which at $25 compared favorably to the $15 for a round trip bus to Tauranga offered by Princess. Picton- We were parked on Shakespeare Bay. There was a free shuttle here since there is no public access to the port area. Since Picton is a small town, we took the Bus to Blenheim - it is 25 min but also easily drivable. You can book the bus in advance or get tickets from the I-site. We felt both Picton and Blenheim were about half day visits each. The I-site will book tours, buses, trains, etc. We wanted to see the Omaka aviation museum in Blenheim but didn't make it. There were rental cars available near the I-Site advertising for $25 a day. Unfortunately, the bus schedule didn't work to get there and back. In retrospect, we should have taken the ships excursion or rented a car. There were also local tours available to the museum which were half the cost of the ships excursion. These local tours were also bookable through the I-site. Wellington- the Ship docked right next to Westpac stadium. Princess offered a $10 shuttle into town, but from where we were docked, for us it was easily walkable into town. From the Stadium into City Center was approx. 1 Km. We were in town on New Year's day so a lot of shops and sites (such as Weta Cave) were closed. Akaroa- This was a Tender port. There was plenty of local vendor's dockside as we arrived, selling their tours. You can pay cash to the vendors directly or pay the dockside I-site rep with a credit card. We used Akaroa tours for the $45 round trip to Christchurch with a drop off at the I-site next to Canterbury museum. No need to take the tour to the red zone for an additional $15 unless you are unable to walk the four blocks from Canterbury Museum to Christchurch Cathedral. You can walk through most of the damaged area along the sidewalk although all the destroyed /damaged buildings are fenced off. Dunedin- docked in Port Chalmers. Princess offered a $15 Shuttle which drops off in Dunedin in front of the Robert Burns statue at the Octagon. Some passengers got off their tour buses in town and only used the shuttle one way. This was the only port in NZ that required both a picture ID plus a cruise card for access to the port and the ship. The disembarkation and return was also a bit chaotic here. Port Chalmers has maybe an hour's worth of browsing with some small shops and most importantly a New World Supermarket within walking distance of the ship. On our itinerary Hobart was the next stop with three days at sea before we arrived so the Supermarket trip for some snacks was a must. Hobart- docked right in town at Sullivan's Cove parallel to Hunter St. There is a courtesy shuttle which makes two stops; the first at the visitor's center and the second at Salamanca place. There is shopping at both Elizabeth Street and Salamanca place which were all about a 20 minute walk from ship along a marked path. We took the Princess Excursion to Bongorong Park and Richmond. We considered a rental car but the park is out of town and not clearly marked from the road. (In fact, our excursion bus driver got loss and cost us 10 minutes at the park.) At Bongarong, Kangaroos were roaming free in their compound. Free feed was available to feed them. Several Tasmanian Devils were also in enclosures. Wombats, Koalas, Emus, Wallaby's, and Purple Tongued Lizards were all in natural habitat areas and on display for that perfect close-up picture. For most fellow cruisers we spoke with, this was the highlight of the cruise. Unfortunately the ships excursions only spend 45 minutes there and everyone felt that was not nearly enough time. Richmond is included in several of the combined excursions with Bongarong and has the oldest church, oldest bridge, and a Gaol. This city was worth about 30 minutes of browsing instead of the hour spent here. Everyone on our bus would rather have spent the time at Bongarong. Melbourne- Docked at the Station Pier. There are two main methods to enter the city from the port. The #109 tram runs every 10-20 minutes from near the food store just outside the port. There is also a free one-way shuttle from the ship into town which drops off in front of the Victoria Arts Center. The free shuttle and tourist bus was actively pushed at the tourist center in the port, along with directions on how to pick up the tourist shuttles. When we were there both the free downtown visitor tour bus and free city circle tram were packed so tightly with Tourists that it was almost impossible to see anything. Both take just over an hour to make a circuit. Regardless of which way you decide to get to town, you will need a Myki card to return on the 109 Tram unless you have an excursion or private tour booked. Sydney - Docked at Circular Quay in the Overseas Terminal. A cab from the ship to our post-Cruise Hotel in the city center near Queen Victoria market was only $9. There was also train or bus service from the Circular Quay station which is only a short walk from the ship. If going straight to the Airport, the Airport Express bus runs from Circular Quay to the airport for $16 one way. There are also numerous Airport Shuttle companies that pick up from the Hotels for a few dollars less. Your Hotel should be able to book this for you. There is no end of things to do in Sydney. We had four days post-cruise and still felt we missed a lot. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2011
We went as a family who had never cruised before - Dad, Mum and 15 year old daughter. Having read some reviews, good and not-so-good, we were unsure what to expect but went with an open mind, not expecting an utterly luxurious ... Read More
We went as a family who had never cruised before - Dad, Mum and 15 year old daughter. Having read some reviews, good and not-so-good, we were unsure what to expect but went with an open mind, not expecting an utterly luxurious top-of-the-range experience, and we really enjoyed it! Our cabin was on deck 8 and had a window. I would describe the cabin as "perfectly adequate". The drawers and cupboards were quite old and tired, but they held all our clothes just fine, so what more could you ask?! The shower and toilet worked fine. Our 15-year-old daughter soon got involved in the teens HQ+ centre, and enjoyed herself immensely. Not all the events were to her liking, not being a PS3/Wii fanatic, but she made friends with a bunch of other teenagers and had a great time. The food was fine. We generally ate at the buffet "Plantation" for breakfast and lunch. Yes there was sometimes a queue, but it moved quite quickly and I didn't see anyone getting annoyed at the 5 minute delay. There was plenty of salads, fruit, hot food - I think the variety was good for a 10-night cruise, but I could see myself getting a little bored if I was on the cruise for a month. But then many people went to the burger place just outside on deck 12 for a burger or hot-dog, which probably adds to the variety. For dinner we preferred the more formal "Waterfront" restaurant, where the menu and the food were lovely - not Michelin-starred restaurant exquisite, but I had no complaints. There were two evenings where the food was not quite as good as I would have expected, but overall it was very good. One of the very few complaints I had was that when we had a bottle of wine saved from the previous night, they had a lot of difficulty finding the bottle the following night. One bottle was lost (but it only had maybe half a glass in it, and the supervisor presented me with two full glasses for free so that was okay), one bottle was brought out half way through the meal, and one bottle wasn't located until after we had finished our dinner, which was a bit pointless. The shows were top quality. We thoroughly enjoyed all the evening shows and found the dancers and performers to be highly professional. There was one comedian that my wife went to and found not to her liking, so she left after 10 minutes. But honestly, one bad show out of around 15 - 20 is not bad (and you've already paid for them as part of your cruise ticket, so we figured we would go to all the shows and just leave if we didn't enjoy one). The Marquee is not perfect - if you choose the wrong seat then you'll be sat behind a pillar and unable to see anything - but the secret is get there in plenty of time to choose a good seat. If the 7:30 show is packed, just go to the 9:30 show. Ports: We visited four ports. We booked a shore tour at Nuku'alofa, which was good. Vava'u was pointless - the town was grubby and litter everywhere, I don't think the locals wanted us there - apart from the people selling crafts in the stalls on the dock who were VERY pushy. Dravuni Island was magical - we walked along a gorgeous beach, went snorkeling in crystal clear water, it was fantastic. Suva in Fiji, we just went for a walk through town and visited the museum which was interesting - we did have to beat off the taxi drivers though. The 15-year-old did a Flying Fox tour (which is really more of a Zip Line) and loved it. In summary, we found this cruise very enjoyable. No, the Pacific Pearl is not a 5-star hotel, and it is not a Michelin-starred restaurant. But we enjoyed it and would recommend it. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2011
This 10 night cruise (19th Dec-29th) was only our 2nd cruise and the first time on the Pacific Pearl. What a fantastic time myself & daughter had. Being a real traditional Xmas person I was initially sceptical about spending it on the ... Read More
This 10 night cruise (19th Dec-29th) was only our 2nd cruise and the first time on the Pacific Pearl. What a fantastic time myself & daughter had. Being a real traditional Xmas person I was initially sceptical about spending it on the high seas & worried that Xmas would be a non event. I couldn't have been more wrong. The main areas of the ship were beautifully decorated in traditional Xmas style, the Xmas day menu options,festivities and religious services were perfect. Christmas day was spent snorkeling and swimming, bathed in sunshine on beautiful Dravanui Island - pure bliss. Crew: From our cabin attendant and waiters in the Waterfront Restaurant trough to the Cruise Director, I cannot praise the crew highly enough, they were fun, polite and nothing was too much trouble. They work tirelessly and always managed a genuine smile and greeting. The meals produced for the restaurant by the Kitchen crew were of very high quality, varied and delicious.We found absolutely no need to use the two on board paying restaurants, but friends who did said they were amazing. Cabin: We were on deck 10 with an uninterrupted sea views (thanks to a complimentary upgrade). The cabin was light,really comfortable beds, cleaned perfectly and adorned with new towel animals etc for a bit of fun each day. It was comfortable, well equipped & certainly spacious enough for 2 beds and two people. Shore excursions: Provided in Tonga and Fiji.The only disappointment was boxing day in Suva as most things were closed and there was little to do, but hey, everyone deserves a Xmas break. Throughout the cruise & on our excursions we were blessed with daily sunshine and lovely warm temperatures in the pacific, the rain was restricted to very late afternoons or through the night. We were also very lucky to be sailing in relatively calm seas most day. All in all a very pleasant cruise with great passengers from all age groups. Thank you to P&O would definitely recommend it & certainly would do it again. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2011
Pacific Dawn 1/10-5/10/11, This is my 2nd P&O Australia cruise and the other being a short food & wine on The Pearl. And to be fair I would struggle to do anything longer. We had an outside Cabin which was great on deck 10, but ... Read More
Pacific Dawn 1/10-5/10/11, This is my 2nd P&O Australia cruise and the other being a short food & wine on The Pearl. And to be fair I would struggle to do anything longer. We had an outside Cabin which was great on deck 10, but being up the front you noticed the swell. We were a group of 8 so made it fun as we could make it that way. The staff who smile on P&O stand out as most have sour expressions on there faces. We did have a couple of lovely waiters 3 nights in a row who helped make it memorable. Even tho there were kids clubs, they ran riot on the ship. P&O are very expensive in regards to drinks and food outside the buffet and main restaurant. can only compare to Princess, but they are preferable to P&O. the evening entertainment was average, as were the comedians. No dancing was available until midnight and with nothing going on hard to keep interested to stay awake... the bars were lovely, but the singers were terrible. Circ pacific was good tho. As was the shows. Even tho anytime dining, the restaurant was 5.30pm & 8.15 Dining which made it hard to get to shows. It was my partners Birthday and As I said we made it fun. The adults only area on the back was a great place to sit in the sun, The food was Nice, if you are a man, better to order two mains tho as it would not be enough to feed you. For the price we paid was alright, Good for 1st time cruisers as only can go up! But will look at other options for longer cruises, not P&O Australia Read Less
Sail Date: January 2011
Having been on cruise in past on Royal Carribean the thought that P & O were bringing a "MEGA" to NZ was exciting so we booked not long after the cruise itinerary came out in 2009 for Jan 11 cruise. We booked top suite on top ... Read More
Having been on cruise in past on Royal Carribean the thought that P & O were bringing a "MEGA" to NZ was exciting so we booked not long after the cruise itinerary came out in 2009 for Jan 11 cruise. We booked top suite on top deck. The build up to our first ever Pacific cruise was huge and we counted the days after a long unpleasant 2010 year to board the ship on Jan 9th 2011 to sail away to paradise. Pleasantly surprised by our suite and even more so by the room steward we had Jheffery (yes that is how it is spelt) settled in for ten nights of bliss!. The weather for first few days was ok but surely hot enough and good for sunbathing on the deck, sipping cocktails, swimming etc . Day three was the hottest by far and so simply melted all day on the top deck. We were advised that day that our first stop at Mystery Island was cancelled as a tropical depression over Vanuatu had turned to cyclone and therefore unsafe for us to make land there. Then HELL broke loose , woken in middle of night in massive (confirmed up to ten metre) seas, cupboards slamming, fell out of bed, things falling from shelves, kids very frightened after realising that the ride was not going to stop and there was nowhere to go even if you could try and walk around. The ship pounded into the huge seas and slamming down into the bow and completely shuddering all night long....... we are boat people but honestly felt extremely helpless waiting for the call to muster stations which thank god didn't eventuate. The ship the next morning was of course like a ghost ship, sick bags everywhere, restaurants empty and so fourth.. the weather continued to to be foul and rough. We limped into Port Vila which itself was trashed from the cyclone, there we sat. The damage to the ship was evident, large gashes bow and stern, photo's of this saw you marched off by security smartly! Captain announced that the itinerary was cancelled and we would be heading four days at sea home to get there for the correct arrival time to begin the next cruise. Saturday morning after requesting to know what the weather was expected to do we find out that people have been leaving the ship to fly home the day before and several were sitting awaiting to leave with their suitcases as we enquired at reception. Despite demanding to talk to someone who actually knew about what was happening they refused to do that in reception instead promised to call us in our suite - obviously the topic was delicate for them. They called us within the hour to advise the trip back was expected to be the same possibly worse... the receptionist then joked "can I come with you when you leave"... interesting comment? Anyway straight away we booked flights to leave the ship the cost of which had shot through the roof over night due to heavy demand for people wanting to leave the ship. Leaving the ship was awful, we passed families, mothers, older people, many of whom were in tears as they couldn't afford the flights out and therefore had to stay on the ship for the unknown journey home. Our kids were relieved as were we to get out of the hell situation.. by this stage the ships pools were not functioning, the entertainment schedule had run out of steam and shrunk to a couple of things per days rather than the full schedule we were used to , the captain had all but stopped communications with passengers and generally staff on board had lost all interest, were tired and in need of good rest! WE understand P & O cant help the weather and accept that BUT what we cant accept is the complete lack of communication from the bridge so we set out to ask P & O the following: - could the captain perhaps have even asked if all passengers were okay the next day, made effort to provide some sort of goodwill like free doctor check for those in need, free internet to keep in touch with loved ones who were worried, free drinks, cabin credits or such like? - not a single mention was made to all passengers of the expected weather on the trip home, we only found out because we demanded to know, - NO mention was made of the further two cyclones headed down the Pacific to NZ, these hit NZ on the Tuesday 18th at midnight just when the ship was expecting to round Cape Reinga for the leg home - WHY.. simply put they needed to be back for the next cruise to depart on Wednesday. - no efforts was made to inform anyone to allay rumours or talk which was rampant on facebook, text and mobile about reports on the cyclone in New Zealand, - the mobile network on the ship was not working for anyone we spoke to , only when we got to Vila did it work hence the panic by relatives at home who couldn't get hold of anyone after hearing about the weather conditions. - not a single apology or contact from P & O on our arrival home to talk about what happened, any offer in relation to the cancellation of the itinerary - instead of a ten days cruise to different places we got a ten days taxi ride to nowhere. - not a mention of the earthquake off the coast of Lifou which we got rung and told about.. this was supposed to be our next stop, when asked at reception they knew nothing of it.. strange? - since contacting P & O we find they aren't that committed to NZ, instead have front ed with a BIG ship, lots of hype and sales activity but if you want any help you must go to Australia who don't give a damn! Port Vila was a shocker! Passengers were basically fed to the wolves (taxi drivers) when you got off the ship, the yelled at you, pulled at your clothes and basically just wanted to rip you off... older couples were prime targets waiting to happen and P & O made not a single show of effort to ensure that people were protected from this shocking display at the port next to the ship .. absolute anarchy to say the least! We are reasonable people, would rather discuss issues and sort out, but if someone puts our kids through hell like this without a single apology or recognition of the fact that they need to look after their customers and communicate then they shouldn't be in the business of tourism. Royal Carribean are coming to the Pacific now, they will have our lifelong business from now on, they have courted us on their ship "Rhapsody of the Seas" that was in Auckland couple of weeks ago and they know how to run a business like this... customers matter! We don't care about the money, we don't want money all we want is recognition and discussion about what happened.. instead we are left completely ripped off to the tune of $12,000 (cruise cost), no holiday and a letter from P & O stating take your problem legal if you wish to pursue. Our request to talk with Anne Sherry the CEO of Carnival Australia has been declined. Travel with them at your own risk, maintenance doesn't appear priority (clearly since the large atrium chandelier fell several stories to the floor some three weeks - clearly weakened by our trip one would imagine.. fortunately no poor sole killed) YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!!!! Read Less
Sail Date: December 2010
Introduction: This was our first cruise under the P&O flag out of Auckland and my eight cruise in total over several years. We are both in our early 50's. Embarkation From the time that we arrived at Prince's Wharf ... Read More
Introduction: This was our first cruise under the P&O flag out of Auckland and my eight cruise in total over several years. We are both in our early 50's. Embarkation From the time that we arrived at Prince's Wharf to the time we stepped foot in our cabin it was just under 30 minutes. One tip is to grab a Customs departure card from your travel Agent or next time you are at the airport and fill this in before leaving home. This will save you time and prevent you having to move out of the line to fill in, as several people had to. The Cabin Our cabin was 11174 an Outside cabin on the 11th deck (A deck). Slightly rear of mid ship. The first Outside cabin past the Balcony cabins. It was a good position, only about 20 metres from the Aft stairwell and lifts and only one level below the Plantation restaurant and pool deck. Although immediately below the pool deck we didn't hear much noise, only a couple of times did we hear tables being dragged on deck. Our bed was a queen configuration. Comfy mattress on a slat base. our empty suitcases just fitted underneath. Our room stewart Jomon must not have been use to Duvets as it was pretty well tucked in at the bottom for the first few days, only bringing it to half way up your chest. On one side of the bed you have a small set of four draws and a lamp. on the window side is the desk that also serves as the bed side cabinet with another four draws. All the original furniture from the Ocean Village apart from the TV. The desk would be about 1.4m long with lamp and phone. this is where the one and only power point is for the room. the only other power point is above the TV, but is English. So be sure to pack a double adaptor. The window is a good size. I would guess just over a metre square. The TV is a ViewSonic 22" flat screen and has AV (RCA plugs) along with PC, HDMI and USB connections. The picture quality of the in-house TV feeds is not that great. Other furniture in the room is a single armchair and a desk chair and a small round coffee table. The walk in wardrobe has a good amount of hanger space with 14 wooden coat hanger provided, but no spring clip pants or skirt hangers. There is eight draws about .8m wide with a cupboard above that houses your safe and life jackets. There is a good amount of space above the coat hangers for bulky items or even bags. Opposite the walk in wardrobe is three side by side full length mirrors which gives a good impression of lots of space. Between the main cabin area and the wardrobe is the small built in fridge and cabinet for glasses and supplies. the fridge is a clever design in that you can stand up a tall bottle of water or wine inside it, with enough room for cans to sit behind it. Below the fridge is a locked cupboard. Not sure what it contains. Above the fridge cupboard is a couple of well spaced glass shelves that house your pool towels. The bathroom/toilet is well laid out, but certainly a one person at a time job. The shower is about 1.5m long and .8m wide. The shower rose comes out of the corner, so a little strange. The water pressure is just OK. It has a single mixer control. Has a built in shampoo and conditioner shelf. The ship provides a combined shampoo/conditioner dispenser. It is a shower curtain and not a door, but the shower seems big enough that the shower curtain doesn't cling to you at all while taking a shower. Not too much vanity area around the sink, but has mirrored cupboards both sides of the main mirror. The they three shelves in each each. All the same height, but not just high enough to hold tall cans of hair spray/deodorant. Lighting is OK, but not fantastic. One thing I liked about the bathroom was there wasn't a big step or lip to get into the room. The actual toilet is angled off the corner, but has enough leg room. the entire bathroom appears to be one moulded unit. The WiFi internet connection was good in our room. Laundrette This was located on the 6th and 10th floor and had eight top loading washing machines (on the 10th floor one) which operated on a AU$2.00 coin. Some were a little tricky and you had to open a small compartment on top to trigger the reset switch to make it start. The load took approx 30 minutes on a normal cycle. The clothes driers were free, a 30 minute cycle just doesn't get the clothes fully dry if you have a full load. The Lounges and Bars This is where you can see that P&O has spent a bit of money. The Orient (Deck 7) This has an English pub feel to it, so not too sure why it was named The Orient. Lots of nice timber panels and earth tone fabric with a variety of seat types. this bar is used a lot for the Trivia sessions and accoustic artists. The port side has a corridor, but the starboard side corridor blends into the room which is a nice idea. Tap beer is available at this bar. Connexions (Deck 7) This neighbours The Orient, but would be nearly double in size. More popular with the younger cruisers that the Orient. Home of the Karaoke and the dance style bands. Also used during the days for the lectures and demonstrations. A lot of cane furniture used in this area. Once again uses the starboard side of the lounge as the corridor. The Atrium (Decks 5,6 & 7) A busy area of the ship with housing the photo gallery and shop. Duty Free shops, Shore Tour office and Reception. Charlies coffee shop and the Mix Bar (formerly Blue Bar).The three levels are used for the Laser light shows which are worth a look at. Pacific Cirque will also perform a few smaller shows here. Pre-dinner Piano music is also played here. One slight design fault is that the Shore Tour desks are besides the Reception so you get long lines going across the front of reception for the Shore Tour booking desks, they also need to look at putting in a third desk for the busy days. Also the Sold Out Tours board needs to be displayed where people line up rather than behind the desks where the brochures are. The Marquee (Deck 7 & 8) This is an area I'm sure they will change the design of with-in the next year to 18 months. Great size stage and fantastic new giant LCD screens that they can do wonders with for stage backgrounds and to act as stage sets. But the seating layout is crazy. Upstairs the balcony rail is right at the level of the stage sightline. They have gone for lots of individual movable seats and curved three seater couches. This cuts the capacity down to around 500 maximum I would guess. The bar at the rear of the theatre has a large amount of open area in front of it which does seem a waste of space. It also has two semi spiral staircases from level 7 to 8 which takes up valuable seating space. Once the theatre fills up (which seems to be earlier and earlier as the cruise went on) passengers stand in the corridors which blocks the views of those sitting in the back. Some of the bar stools have missing foot rails and in one case has a missing seat pad. Not a major to fix, but stayed like that for the entire cruise. The sound and lighting is very good, especially with the full height LCD screens. The Dome (Deck 14) This would be my favourite venue, both day and night. Fantastic views, great wide open feeling. Very comfy seating. Nice colouring and a good size bar. Generous size dance floor on a slightly lower level. A good venue for the late night comedy and other smaller shows. Top Decks (Decks 12 & 14) Home to three swimming pools and Pacific Cirque stage area and the giant 7m LCD screen. The pools were always in use, it did take a few days until the warmer weather for the adults to start using the swim up bar pool. However the water did look a little murky for the first couple of days. I'll cover the Pacific Cirque show later on, but great viewing advantage points from several points around decks 12 and 14. There is new decking and artificial grass on both levels and new coats of paint, but some areas have missed having a touch up altogether. An example is the Splash Bar has nice new tiles on the wall behind the drinks, but if you look up at the ceiling above the counter, the paintwork hasn't even been touched, with lots of stains and marks. The Oasis (Deck 8) We got caught out here on our first visit to this area at the rear of the ship. After we sat down on the very nice padded cane sun loungers, we were asked if we would like to book in for a half or full day session. The charge is AU$10 for 4 hours or AU$20 for 8 hours. That was the first and last time we visited the Oasis. The Gym and Spa (Deck 2) Not being Gym bunnies we didn't use the Gym, but we did go and have a noisy and spoke to a few people at dinner that did use it. The comments were all very favourable and that the equipment was all brand sparkling new. However the Steam room did play up a bit and was not operational a few times. As with all cruise ships the Spa and Salon prices were very expensive. Example of one of the specials. AU$139 for a 20-20-20 sampler. 75 minute Jewel Facial AU$275, Couples Seaweed Massage AU$399 for 75 minutes The Entertainment and the Entertainment Staff We have been on five previous cruises mainly on Princess and Royal Caribbean and would have to put the quality of the entertainment as some of the best we have seen. There has been a great variety in various venues. Some of the entertainment offered was Peter Byrne (Neil Diamond) Centre Stage(The Pacific Entertainers) James Galea - I Hate Rabbits (Magician)Bobby Dennis (Comedian) Clint Paddison (Comedian) Pirates 2 (The Pacific Entertainers) Acrobatic Show (Pacific Cirque) run Away To The Circus (The Pacific Entertainers) and the normal Game Shows involving the passengers. Zoltina J. was the Cruise Director and did an excellent job. She fronted all the main shows and lead the charge when it came to getting the passengers up and dancing. Her band of staff had their own strenghts and some weaknesses, but put a lot of energy into their roles. The Hit Machine were the party band on board and played a lot of the good party hits, although they didn't look old enough to be up as late as they did. Meals We have been spoilt in the past with a huge variety of food at the buffets on other ships and did find the selection a little dull in the Plantation restaurant. The was never hot in this restaurant, in fact the fried eggs on the last morning were stone cold. However, if you hadn't cruised before outside of the Pacific you would be very happy. It never seemed a problem to get a seat in the Plantation restaurant. Only had one lunch meal at The Grill and wasn't impressed. The meal was stone cold, but heard some great feed back from others about the quality and variety. We had all our evening meals at the Waterfront Restaurant, the lunch menu was very good. Once again you can see where they had spent their money on the refurbishment. Very nicely decorated and laid out. We sat in a variety of areas and at a variety of size tables. The service standard did vary a bit and you could tell the experienced wait staff. The Pacific Cirque It is nearly worth the cost of the cruise to see these guys perform. They were top standard and caused lots of grasps from the audience. Their show on the open deck was packed out, so get their early to secure a deck chair, however because of the height of their performance all areas on deck 12 and 14 are great viewing points. Their alternative show in the atrium combined with the laser show was also excellent. Movies The cinema on the Ocean Village was taken out to make room for the new Casino. The new 7m wide LCD screen on the top deck is a good alternative when the weather co-operates. Some of the movies played were: CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF MEATBALLS ALL'S FAIR IN LOVE EAT,PRAY,LOVE ICE AGE 3 LETTERS TO JULIET MAMMA MIA THE ROMANTICS GREASE SHREK: FOREVER AFTER CHARLIE ST. CLOUD KARATE KID MAO'S LAST DANCE MARMADUKE THE SWITCH TAKERS Other activities on the big screen included Playstation and Wii competitions and a Special Bingo Game, plus a few concerts. As I said at the start, we have been spoilt by having been on a Royal Caribbean and a few Princess cruises so we were always comparing to those cruises. If you had not cruised before you would be over-whelmed. We did enjoy the cruise and met some great people and would mostly like do another P&O cruise again at some stage, but for the money we would first look at what other cruise lines had to offer. The NZ Customs and Ag Department boarded the ship in Noumea. Customs clearance was processed in The Dome on the 2nd to last day with a set appointment time. It took about five minutes if that and was a breeze. We were able to walk straight off the ship in Auckland, collect our bags and go. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2010
Our cruise on the pacific pearl 30th December 2010 had finally arrived. Excited... But upon Embarkation it all seemed Chaos. This we were told was normal.People handed papers to fill one health form from p&o one customs form. ... Read More
Our cruise on the pacific pearl 30th December 2010 had finally arrived. Excited... But upon Embarkation it all seemed Chaos. This we were told was normal.People handed papers to fill one health form from p&o one customs form. Trouble was no pens or very few tables to complete these required forms. Once aboard the pacific pearl we soon became delighted. Until our luggage went missing. By evening it still had not arrived so away we went asking staff only to be sent to different decks to seek our lost luggage no joy doing that .Finally at 9pm we were informed it had been found. Great news. We were happy with our cabin which we had chosen after pouring over deck plans long before we booked our trip. Room was clean & tidy although slightly old decor.We encountered no noise problems at all from deck 9 which was great. We explored the ship over the following days in which we both enjoyed. Nightly shows were well worth going to .Excellent entertainment. Tried bingo that was fun but expensive.Plenty of free trivial quizs.sports etc. So much to do or see each day there certainly isnt any reason to become bored. Plenty of Bars to sit for a Drink & relax.Sun lounges around the pool were well occupied. Waterfront restaurant was lovely. Plantation buffet was well set out but the hot food was cold each time we went there.Shame. Staff on the pacific pearl were very friendly & helpful. Overall well had a Fantastic holiday . Read Less
Sail Date: January 2010
We chose this cruise for three reasons: 1. It was during school holidays so the whole family was there (all four of us). 2. It visited NZ and Tasmania (which is what we wanted to see). 3. It was a twelve night voyage that spent Christmas ... Read More
We chose this cruise for three reasons: 1. It was during school holidays so the whole family was there (all four of us). 2. It visited NZ and Tasmania (which is what we wanted to see). 3. It was a twelve night voyage that spent Christmas AND new Year on board. Very exciting. This trip took place Dec 2008 and Jan 2009. It was a pleasurable experience. The buffet was extensive with delicious food, fresh produce, wonderful service. Staff were always there, no waiting around for service at the bars or with orders. Both lunch and breakfast had gorgeous meals. However it was often difficult to find tables available, and the air conditioning was often very strong in certain spots. That's okay because recently we went on a Pno CRUISE with no air con so we prefer the coldness. The service in the International Dining Room was absolutely fantastic. Our waiters were God sent and so we remained at that seating arrangement the rest of our trip. Manuel and George were funny, experienced, did everything their in paths to make us happy. They knew how to serve correctly, women first... It was very hard to say goodbye. Also,unlike many cruises today, a Baked Alaska was held. It was a fantastic experience. Also to celebrate Christmas and New Year with them was really lovely. Captains cocktails were great; Captain was lovely. All formal nights were well presented and most people dressed accordingly, that was nice. Assistant Cruise Director was fantastic, friendly and down to earth (Aussie Paul). Tours were great as well as ports of call. Tauranga and Dunedin were favourites. We spent Christmas day in Tauranga with people from a New Zealand village, it was such a cultural experience, dancing with them and pressing noses. Our favourite tour ever experienced and celebrating on Christmas day was a delight. In Dunedin seeing the Scottish castle and the intricate streets was also beautiful. And all guides were friendly, experienced and very polite. It was a pleasure to join them. New Year's was an ultimate experience! Spent in the atrium with the band playing all night, champagne, the balloon drop while sailing. And being in the middle of the Tasman meant we were first to celebrate the start of 09. It was a memorable experience and a wonderful part of our cruising days. It was great!!!!!! Shows were average in our opinion, however the Christmas show ands hypnosis act (last night) were wonderful shows. Spa/ Fitness Centre/Salon were great and did their best to accommodate us and beautify us. Our weather was good, except for two slightly rough nights, but staff accommodated well to these unpredictable changes. It was very cold for the southern hemisphere season, with the highest temp. being 19* celsius. Although we didn't let that get us down. One complaint is the Fiordland, scenic cruising which was a waste of a port. It would have been better to just put up the knots and sail quicker to Tasmania. Room was great for four people, although sofa bed was very small and uncomfortable for you siblings to share. Paintings rattled on walls. Bathroom size was decent as well as balcony space. TV programs and movies were good and up to date. Over all, dining and ports were fantastic and we enjoyed our seasonal experience on board. We thoroughly enjoyed myself and would return to the ship in the future if the opportunity arose. Plus the Princess line never disappoints. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2009
As the family were all doing their own thing we decided to take a Christmas cruise for a change around our own country. We only had a short flight from Christchurch to Auckland and on return only 3 hrs from Sydney to Christchurch. My first ... Read More
As the family were all doing their own thing we decided to take a Christmas cruise for a change around our own country. We only had a short flight from Christchurch to Auckland and on return only 3 hrs from Sydney to Christchurch. My first impression of the Volendam was gloomy and dark and felt only half the lights were on. The same in our stateroom which was a balcony cabin on navigation deck and had everything we needed. The beds were very comfortable and I slept like a baby. The Indonesian stewards were very good but had limited English, and we did enjoy our towel animals every night. A bit too much of the Indonesian thing with 2 or 3 shows and even when I went for afternoon tea one day it was only Indonesian teas and food. The food was excellent and we enjoyed Christmas night at the Pinnacle Grill. They brought round a trolley and described every cut of meat and where it was from. My DH had a T-bone steak which took up the whole plate. The chocolate volcano cake was delicious. Great service and food. We had anytime dining and had different tablemates and never had to queue. We felt as there were a big percentage of Americans on the ship who had come all this way for the NZ experience that they should have had NZ entertainers as well as the Australian singers who sang a lot of Australian songs, etc. Also none of our beautiful NZ wines. The weather wasn't very warm and the temperatures in the ship were cold as well. Definitely long sleeves day and night. We went to the late shows and there were only a handful of people there. The ports were good and the free buses, I think put on by each local council to the centre of town, were great. The seas were very rough around Stewart Island and the Tasman with 6 metre swells. Milford Sound was one of the highlights. The tendering process left a lot to be desired in the rough seas and I saw 2 potential accidents. Not enough crew supervising the tenders. All in all I felt this cruise was rather staid and sedate. 17 days was a bit long and 4 formal nights - well the novelty wore off. If you like to read in a corner then this was the cruise for you. For me, I'm back to Princess. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2009
First, I would like to mention that the Aussies & Kiwis are the nicest, friendliest and most outgoing people in the world! This review is for the MS Volendam which left December 20, 2009 from Auckland, NZ and disembarked in Sydney, ... Read More
First, I would like to mention that the Aussies & Kiwis are the nicest, friendliest and most outgoing people in the world! This review is for the MS Volendam which left December 20, 2009 from Auckland, NZ and disembarked in Sydney, AUS on January 6, 2010 (17 Nights). We visited 11 ports (including Auckland) plus scenic cruising of the While Island Volcano and Milford Sound. We had an early arrival at Auckland airport, around 5 AM and you can't board the ship until around 11:30 AM. We wanted to see Auckland, but were having some trouble locating anyone to take us around for 2 hours. Then I found http://www.tourauckland.co.nz/ on the Internet. It's Roger & Lorraine of Auckland and we made arrangements with them to meet us at the port. They were a lovely couple who took us around in their car and we felt like they were our family. We highly recommend them!!! The Volendam: This is an older ship in great condition. This is the first cruise (been on 15 +) that really felt like a vacation. The Lido Buffet for breakfast had little or no lines and no problem finding a table. That was really a relaxing way to start the day. In the lounges, or by the pool, or in the showroom, they didn't keep bothering you about drinks. Service in the Dining Room & Lido Buffet was excellent. The Volendam had lots of NO SUGAR ADDED desserts and they were REALLY TASTY! Each Night at Dinner there was ONE NO SUGAR ADDED dessert selection as well as TWO flavors of NO SUGAR ADDED Ice Cream. We took the Ship's excursions which were all good and there were no problems except for a rough tender back from Half Moon Bay. New Zealand & Australia are simply AWESOME & BREATHTAKING. Plus they are full of lovely, helpful people who seem to love to have guests. The Scenic cruising of the White Island Volcano and Milford Sound were extraordinary!! We, of course, attended the Cruise Critic Meet & Greet and met lots of lovely people. We did have VERY ROUGH seas after leaving Milford Sound on the Tasman Sea. It lasted about 10 hours. Glasses were flying off the table and chairs moving around in the Lounge. My Wife and I both became seasick. I got her meds at the Front Desk, the next morning, and she was fine by lunch time, just very sleepy. Christmas & New Years Eve were celebrated on board. Holland America went ALL OUT for New Years Eve. Party Hats & Tiaras were given to each guest. There was free champagne, Noise makers, horns & streamers. In the show lounge they had thousands of balloons tied up with netting and released them at New Years. That was a really great party. Some Extras: There were several coin operated washing machines & dryers on 4 or the decks. The pool had a sliding glass cover. There were 2 Chocolate buffets. The bathrooms had bathtubs. The Public Bathrooms were spotless and had lovely tile work. Plus there were rolled up washcloths to dry your hands with. (A very nice touch). Holland America also had FREE computer classes and some FREE cooking demonstrations. The embarkation procedure moved along quickly. The disembarkation procedure was really relaxing. No calling out colors or numbers. You just show up at the appointed time and no line whatsoever. The Australian authorities had been on board while we were at sea and took care of all paper work. Again, Holland America's scheduling resulted in this being a relaxing, no long lines procedure. Sydney Airport: We had a little time until our flight and found this sit down take out restaurant. (Trattoria Prego) Italian Food in Australia cooked by Asian Cooks?? We are from New York City so we know good Italian food. This food was simply great!!! If you're flying Qantas or Air New Zealand you're in for a wonderful (but a little long) experience. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2009
We decided to have a really relaxing Christmas and escape cooking the turkey etc., cruising in 'our own backyard' seemed to fit the bill nicely. Home to the port was a breeze as we live only 30 minutes north of Auckland, ... Read More
We decided to have a really relaxing Christmas and escape cooking the turkey etc., cruising in 'our own backyard' seemed to fit the bill nicely. Home to the port was a breeze as we live only 30 minutes north of Auckland, embarkation was quick and easy and we were onboard in time for the Mariners Lunch in the Main Dining Room. Our first impression of the Volendam was the dim lighting in both public areas and cabins but we soon got used to it, secondly the ship is looking a little tired in places but in no way did we let the fact spoil our enjoyment. Our cabin was oceanview, midships on Deck 1 (Dolphin Deck), my husband is prone to seasickness so the lower down the ship the better for him. The cabin was very quiet but in a handy position with only a short walk to the lifts. It was spotlessly clean, very roomy with plenty of storage space, wonderful comfy beds and we were very happy with it. By choice we had fixed early dining which was at 5.45pm, this was a mistake as we found it to be too early especially on port days when it was a huge rush to get spruced up. We could have changed to Open Seating dining or the Lido but we had such great table companions we didn't want to desert them. We ate breakfast everyday in the main dining room also lunch on sea days, found both menus to be good except for the Kippered Herrings at breakfast, never again!! Only ate lunch at the Lido a couple of times, plenty of variety and we did not encounter long lines. Overall our opinion of the food in the MDR was mostly very good, tasty and well cooked with plenty of choices. We did eat one night in the Pinnacle Grill, it was very enjoyable but frankly we're not sure what all the fuss is about. The evening entertainment in the Frans Hal lounge was okay, but somewhat repetative with most, if not all, acts coming from Australia - not a New Zealand act in sight!! The Christmas Day celebrations were excellent with Santa arriving and all the children getting a present also New Years Eve was a fun night kicking off in the Crows Nest at 9pm then moving down to the Frans Hall lounge at 11.30pm where the champagne was flowing and the party really began to see in the New Year. Our fellow cruisers were a mixed bunch with many Americans onboard and we met some great people and had lots of laughs. The crew and staff were excellent especially our waiters in the MDR, always had a smile and nothing was too much trouble. We did have a bit of bother with the Front Desk with amounts charged to our onboard account that were nothing to do with us, this took several trips to the Front Desk and some heated discussion before the amounts were removed - so beware and check your account very carefully. Even though we were cruising in New Zealand we enjoyed all the ports and cruising in Milford Sound, the weather was pretty cold in the south of New Zealand and once we left Stewart Island we had heavy swells before the Sounds and crossing the Tasman was definitely rocky with a number of people being ill, thankfully we were okay. The highlight had to be sailing into Sydney at 5.30AM, rounding the Heads and seeing the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House in the distance with the sun coming up - magic. All in all we had a great trip, and are already planning our next cruise on the Volendam. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2009
Background DH and I have cruised on several other lines including Holland America Lines. This was our second cruise with HAL. We decided to try a midsize ship again after two previous cruises on smaller ships. We've cruised the ... Read More
Background DH and I have cruised on several other lines including Holland America Lines. This was our second cruise with HAL. We decided to try a midsize ship again after two previous cruises on smaller ships. We've cruised the Aegean, the Mediterranean, transited the Panama Canal, one transatlantic crossing and the Caribbean. This would be our first cruise in the southern hemisphere. We used our local travel agent. Travel To Port of Embarkation We flew on V Australia from LAX via Melbourne to Auckland, New Zealand. The flight was good, except our Melbourne connection was delayed due to the crew not advising all passengers the correct location to pick up their boarding passes. LAX couldn't issue our connecting passes even though it was Pacific Blue, another part of Virgin. That was the only glitch. Hotel Info (if any) We arrived 3 days prior to boarding the ship and stayed at the Hyatt Regency Auckland, with very nice accommodations and an excellent brunch in the mornings. The location was close enough to walk on foot to the Auckland Skytower and other downtown sights. Embarkation & Stateroom We arrived at the pier in a taxi and the staff tagged our luggage so we didn't have to use the thin paper tags we'd been given by HAL. This worked out beautifully. There was no actual line to board and the staff were swift and courteous in processing us. Our outside stateroom offered plenty of closet and storage space, better than I've found on any of our other cruises. The window over the bed required a bit of maneuvering on your knees to see everything outside. The bed was comfortable as was the high quality bedding. Our two cabin stewards kept things quite clean, were mostly invisible, but always friendly when we did see them. I found dried chewing gum on the sides of my expensive leather shoes upon returning from port and our steward Novie was able to clean them perfect as good as new in a matter of hours. Ship Info We found the TV offered cruise/shore excursion updates but we've experienced better on other ships. Standard info on the stateroom desk was adequate. We did the usual "new" passenger wandering to get our bearings. We appreciaed the elevator mats changed to state the day of the week as a gentle reminder. Dining Since we had "open" dining all our evening meals were on the lower floor of the Rotterdam dining room. Service 80% of the time was very good, 5% average, and 15% outstanding. We especially enjoyed the "theme" nights: once with the chefs and staff singing and marching into the dining room and, the other night was an Indonesian theme with costumes and beautiful Indonesian dEcor. Both Christmas and New Year's Eve had special presentation meals. The vegetables were often overcooked for our taste, otherwise, food preparation was very good to excellent. The variety was good. In comparison to our first HAL cruise years ago in the Caribbean we'd rate a big improvement in food quality. Activities I won a free hydro-wrap at the Spa, which was delightful. Service The staff were polite, friendly and sincere in their efforts to attend to our needs. We only ran into one server who seemed to rush us at the end of our dinner. Many times we were engaged in conversatio with staff who always had a cheerful attitude. Entertainment The International (crew and staff) Christmas Choir sang on Dec 24, a true delight. The New Year's Eve bash was quite fun with a huge balloon drop at midnight, champagne and fun hats and noisemakers. The ballroom was packed with plenty of good singing. During the rest of the evenings the ship singers and dancers were a mixed bag, but mostly very good with plenty of high energy and enthusiasm, which made up for one female singer who struggled with some material. One stand-out performer Aussie Annie Francis was fabulous. They all did a stand-up job when the ship ran into very rough seas. Port & Shore Excursions We booked three through the ship and all were better than we expected. In Tauranga we toured the Rotorua area, in Christchurch the High Country Explorer, and in Burnie, Tasmania the Wings Animal Park. We did walkabouts in the other ports, though both Gisborne and Oban at Stewart Island has little to see. Disembarkation Our tags were in our stateroom as expected on the last night aboard. The "silent" disembarkation was a nice change from past experiences on other lines. There weren't constant PA announcements of the time. Passengers left the ship at their designated times and we didn't experience any crowds. Free carts were available for our luggage, however the taxi line was quite a wait to our hotel. Summary This was our first Christmas/New Year's cruise and 1st time down under. The only difficulty was very rough seas while crossing the Tasman Sea and leaving Oban, Stewart Island, something unavoidable when you're on the high seas. We had a wonderful cruise. In regard to the ship and its crew and staff we'd give them an A+ overall, including our dear captain who kept reminding all of us to "wash your hands!" Read Less
Sail Date: December 2008
SERVICE LEVELS VERY LOW, INCONSISTENT and WAY BELOW PRINCESS IN THIS MARKET ( The Christmas cruise on Sun Princess at the same time last year offered far superior service and all round product.) Some examples that may seem trivial but ... Read More
SERVICE LEVELS VERY LOW, INCONSISTENT and WAY BELOW PRINCESS IN THIS MARKET ( The Christmas cruise on Sun Princess at the same time last year offered far superior service and all round product.) Some examples that may seem trivial but the constant battle to get things right is not how it should be: Linen wasn't changed for 10 days and then only after several requests. It was also of very poor quality (thin, holes, stained) - no crisp white ironed sheets here! From check in it took 3 days and 10 keys!! to get ones that opened our cabin We had so many different charges on our bill that didn't belong to us it became a joke. Everyday we had to check and get them removed and then on disembarkation morning when the final bill arrived the whole lot had been put back on again! Room Service requests frequently never happened There was no information available in the cabin about what services were available - no info on things like the soda pass or wine card. Only people who had cruised with HAL before knew about them Turn down service existed of turning the corner of the bed down and putting chocolates on bed. No refresh of bathroom or room. Toiletries were also never replaced throughout the cruise except soap. Generally staff seemed undertrained, overworked and unhappy General cleanliness of cabin and ship average The only activities available for children under 18 was provided by the kids club and these were inadequate and boring. Apparently only 1/3 of the children onboard went to it regularly which left many (including mine) roaming the ship bored and taking over the lido pool. Despite politely worded requests in the newsletter that they restrict themselves to the aft pool it wasn't policed and their overwhelming presence and noise disturbed the older cruisers. Despite many complaints from the older brigade about this you rarely saw any members of the cruise "entertainment" staff on deck unless they were hosting a cocktail making function (paid) or towel animal demonstration (flogging book!). On other cruise lines they have very visible youth security patrolling day and night plus activity and entertainment staff always around The port arrangements left you believing this was the only time they had visited these ports. Despite knowing how few had taken up shoreex and would be requiring wharf to town transport they were always surprised by the numbers and inadequate services were provided which left people queuing for ages with no alternative as you couldn't walk off the port due to security reasons. The Hotel Manager's response to this was next time we'll charge for the shuttle service and arrange more buses! ENTERTAINMENT Unless it was a paid event or promoting a paid event e.g. SPA, BINGO, ART AUCTION, CULINARY EVENT, OPAL SHOWING etc there were very few activities during the day, no sailaway parties, rarely music on deck and no games you could participate in as a family. There was a daily quiz that was very dry, occasional games (adults only) and a daily cooking demonstration. Cruise Director was the worst of any I have ever encountered and refused to enhance or adapt the program to entertain those demanding more. There seemed to be an inflexible policy and "by the book" mentality that dictated the usual routine be followed come what may!. Many people we spoke with were bored, so much so that we formed our own entertainment group of different families which grew and grew and ran things that are usually run by the entertainment staff on other ships - shuffleboard and table tennis tournaments, scavenger hunts, sailaway parties etc. I contacted the Hotel Manager as I wanted to let him know how disappointed we were and that so many people were unhappy and give him the opportunity to fix it while we were onboard but he really wasn;t that interested. As I said to him we know things are different elsewhere on other cruiselines as we've always enjoyed our cruises as a family on a variety of cruiselines (Princess, Oceania, Carnival) and maybe this time we just chose the wrong ship. However for first time cruisers many would think this was what cruising was all about and will never cruise again. The ship was also so American and didn't seem to make any concession at all to the fact that the majority of the passengers weren't and that she was based in Australian waters for at least 3 months.There were many requests made by pax for some Australian and NZ news and to pick up an Australian feed on the satellite to cover the Sydney Hobart race and the Boxing Day test. They managed to organize it for 2 days while we were in NZ but after that nothing. They changed the timing of the evening shows so if you were late seating you had to go to the 7.00 show and early seating the 9.00 show. This left us with little or no choice after dinner. Usually when cruising the evening consists of dinner then the show, nightclub or piano bar - bed. The piano bar had a nightly "name that tune" but the piano man was very flamboyant and we enjoyed his performance but it certainly wasn't for everyone! With no show to go to after dinner, piano bar not suitable for all, string quartet in the Ocean Bar very placid, the nightclub run by a DJ who played questionable music, then got overrun by teenagers, nights became very boring for many. I would really hesitate to recommend Volendam to anyone that isn't sedentary and looking for entertainment.Despite big promotions for their kids club this one did not do the trick for many onboard. This was meant to be a celebratory Christmas and New Year cruise and is naturally going to attract families. Christmas was so poorly done (again compared to the event they made it on Princess last year) and didn't have any magic at all. New Year's Eve was quite a celebration on the aft deck, but with Sydney Harbour and the fireworks as a backdrop hard to get it wrong! ( Apparently it was originally promoted that the ship would be moored at Circular Quay or in the harbour to see the bridge and this later changed to put us at Darling Harbour with a much lesser view and the U.S. passengers weren't told - rumors of a class action pending!!) I have cruised on Volendam before many years ago in the Caribbean and expected so much more. I always believed HAL was just a cut above Princess but couldn;t have been more wrong. Service and standards were mediocre and indifferent. There was no excellence. On a positive note food was probably better than Princess, but presentation was below par. The cabins too were of a good size as per all HAL ships and the general layout of the ship gave it a very spacious feel with good public areas. Whinge over - but feel the cruise was a waste of a family holiday and not good value or an enjoyable experience at all. Thank goodness I know there are cruising alternatives and can only imagine they "dumbed down" the product for this market. Read Less

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