We had been looking for a cruise out of Australia for several years. We had previously booked two cruises which were taken for full charters so when this one became available we reserved a cabin on the day it opened. We made our own air ... Read More
We had been looking for a cruise out of Australia for several years. We had previously booked two cruises which were taken for full charters so when this one became available we reserved a cabin on the day it opened. We made our own air arrangements, using frequent flyer miles to cover the cost. We left the US on June 15 and arrived in Sydney on June 17. Our transpacific flight on Qantas was excellent. We had lie flat Business Class seats and appreciated being able to extend our legs throughout the flight.
We spent four nights at the Park Royal Hotel at Darling Harbor and would recommend this hotel for a pre-cruise stay. I had polio as a child and now use a scooter for mobility. We had an accessible room at the hotel which had easy access to both the room and the restroom. Hotel staff were personable and knowledgeable.
We purchased I-Venture cards for site seeing which did save us some money. We had a lot of rain while in Sydney and did not manage to do as much as we had planned but still greatly enjoyed our time. We boarded the Sun Princess on June 21. Boarding was very easy. We arrived early at White Bay Cruise Terminal but were taken to check-in immediately. From arrival to entering the ship took fifteen minutes at most. There were elevators from the entry level to the boarding level in the terminal. There was an airline type bridge from the terminal to the ship.
Our cabin, Baja 305, was an inside accessible room. The cabin was adequate but not outstanding. The bathroom had a ramp for entry from the cabin. Although the door to the room and the bath was large enough to use my scooter the ramp was a challenge. I prefer ships with a flat threshold between the room and the bath. The placement of the shampoo and shower gel was not properly situated. I must use the shower bench and when seated the shampoo and gel are very difficult to reach. Further the seat has a metal bar at the back so you cannot sit upright on the seat but must lean forward. This is less than ideal. The drain system around the shower worked well. The shower curtain had a difficult to use pull bar and when seated could not be easily pulled. The toilet height was satisfactory. There was a hand bar on only one side of the toilet. I prefer when there are two bars, one on each side of the toilet as that just seems safer. There was enough room in the cabin to store my scooter as well as all our clothes and luggage. We had the new comfortable mattresses. The pillows were less of a hit with us as they were too fluffy if you are a side sleeper. We both disliked how the pillows pushed up against our faces. The duvet was very heavy so we took it off at night. Using a scooter on this ship was easier than on previous Princess ships we have been on as the halls seem to be about five or six inches wider and I could pass the housekeeping carts easily. Our steward kept our room clean and well-supplied.
As this ship originated in Sydney we did expect some dining differences between the ships originating in the US. Although our waiter, his assistant, and the head waiter were excellent the food left our taste buds wishing for more. If you do not like fish and lamb this is not the ship for you. I lost ten pounds on this cruise and my husband lost seventeen. Also, taking fifty days of a seventy-five day cruise we expected a different menu each night. The menus were repeated. What few beef entrees offered were tough. Even the prime rib was tough. Only the beef fillet medallions were tender. You could, however, have all the prawns you wanted. One day we saw they were serving "Crispy Fried Chicken" at lunch. That sounded good to us until we got our meal. It was pressed meat with a strange off flavor.
During the day we especially enjoyed the trivia contests and the enrichment lectures. In the evening we were pleased to have on-demand movies in our stateroom as after full days on excursions we seldom felt like going to the planned entertainment. An assistant cruise director, Jamie from England, was especially worth commendation. He did an excellent job with trivia and other activities. One night he was the highlighted entertainer doing a selection of songs. I would say he was better than some of the "fly-on" entertainers.
Overall the service was excellent with the exception of handicap access. Who knows why but at least twice we were taken from inside the ship to pass along the promenade deck and then re-enter the ship before joining another line. This is a problem for scooter and wheelchair users as the lip across the ramps between the outside and inside promenade deck causes increased chance of tipping. I especially did not appreciate being told I was too slow going over the threshold. It would have been better to have help than to be chastised. Also, when going off or returning to the ship I was always helped on the gangway but not at the thresholds on promenade deck. I preferred to exit and re-enter the ship on any other decks.
After leaving Sydney our ship stopped in Darwin, Australia; Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia; Hong Kong; Beijing, China; Inchon, South Korea; Vladivostok, Russia; Busan, South Korea; Hakodate, Japan; Tokyo, Japan; Seward, Alaska; Icy Strait Point, Alaska; Glacier Bay, Alaska; Juneau, Alaska; Ketchikan, Alaska; Vancouver, Canada; Victoria, Canada; and San Francisco, California. Our favorites were Darwin where we took a ship's tour to see the Jumping Crocodiles, Kota Kinabalu where we took a ship's tour to a zoo, Tokyo where we took a ship's tour, and Vladivostok where we took an independent tour with "Primorye Explore". We wanted to love Beijing but the air pollution was extreme we felt like we were breathing soup. We did go to the Great Wall and Forbidden City.
We arrived in San Francisco on August 8 where we took a bus tour to the Golden Gate Bridge and then disembarked on August 9. There were only about 100 people disembarking in this port so it was easy.
Overall this is the oldest ship we have sailed on. It was nice having new mattresses and on-demand movies. However, spending more money on food and repairing the many leaks from ceilings and public restrooms would have been money well spent. Read Less