Should have stopped to think about it really and would have realised that any Australian home port and back to home port cruise would attract, perhaps, passenger demographics that were old and infirm by the thousand, because they cannot, ... Read More
Should have stopped to think about it really and would have realised that any Australian home port and back to home port cruise would attract, perhaps, passenger demographics that were old and infirm by the thousand, because they cannot, or will not, take a long haul flight to go cruising. This was borne out by an incredible array of mobility scooters, wheelie frames, walking sticks and broken and bent bodies from a passenger list with copious quantities of extremely old and very unhealthy people, as well as a considerable bogan element ( think body art by the square yard, caps on backward and loud boorish behaviours). We are not spring chickens at 61, but we’re comparatively juvenile in outlook by contrast. Not saying it is a bad thing, certainly for the oldies, but will never, ever do it again. Maybe I am just age-ist.
With only one Royal Caribbean cruise to compare Sun Princess with, we found the differences between our previous experience and this latest one, to be greater than chalk and cheese.
My main observations were that Princess ships leaving Australia are not tipping ships. Aussies, by their very classless nature, are egalitarian people to a fault and they find tipping an abhorrent thing to deal with, preferring instead that the onus is put on employers to treat their employees right and pay them a proportionate living wage. The Sun Princess experience suffered for it. Wait staff in the buffet, in particular, were singularly unhelpful, bordering on morose. Not so in the fine dining, for some reason . Better pay perhaps? I can only put the sullenness down to the fact that they were not getting the usual American way 18%+ tip for doing their job with a smile on their face.
Only Americans understand why they pay their menial job people so poorly that they have to rely on tips to make a quid. It is wrong in the extreme and has spawned a cancer that now runs through the hospitality industry worldwide whether or not the individual deserves a gratuity or not. That being said, it is perhaps better to not cruise from Australis and just pay the tips, if you want a decent cruise experience. Sun Princess on this point alone did not give us that desired feeling of warmth and the cruise was all the worse for it. Catch 22. Pay the tips on a proper cruise or suffer the consequences of a poor experience.
Entertainment was second rate and hardly interesting for the most part, save for Russel Twomey doing his maritime talks.
Again, if we had stopped to think that Asia in the monsoon season was a daft thing to do and also had checked out what turned out to be a very poor selection of visited ports, then would not be writing this review now.
Shore excursions were a ripoff price for what you got and we wanted no part of it. Komodo you could not even go ashore if you didn’t join the captive market thong for a best part of $200ea for 4 hours yomping around the island looking for elusive dragons. Seen them in the zoo, don’t need to spend that kind of coin trying to see them in the wild.
Food in the buffet was plentiful, but a little unappetising and , again, comparing it with Rhapsody of the Seas a few short months ago, the differences were immense in quality and range.
I have been assured by other like minded fellow passengers less than the average 90 years of age that this cruise attracted , that Princess Lines outside of Australian home ports are fine, yet the experience has poisoned my outlook. We are due to do an MSC cruise from Brasil to Barcelona in March. A much bigger and newer tipping ship. Hopefully this provides a much better option, albeit that it will be a multilingual trip and no doubt will have rabbit announcements in 4 or 5 languages which will be a little tedious, perhaps.
Overall, Sun Princess has worn reasonably well for its 25 years of service. Our cabin steward was brilliant and we did an ex gratia tip for him because he was so pleasant and very hard working.
We have a friend taking her mother on the same ship around to Melbourne leaving 11th January. It will be interesting to see what her opinion is on her return. Her mother is well into her 80’s and recovering from a life changing illness, so they may slot in just fine. For us, however, we will never cruise from Australia again on any cruise line for fear of the same experience.
I guess what I have to keep telling myself is that this was a A$2K cruise, so I suppose for accommodation and meals alone, is perhaps half decent value ( not counting the 4 days that I was confined to the cabin due to a nasty bout of food poisoning that I understand Sun Princess is no stranger to). Read Less