Diamond Princess Cruise Review by Mountains123
- Sail Date: December 2012
- Destination: Australia & New Zealand
1. Sydney - just a city tour with a free afternoon/evening - that's why you need to show up early to see everything - I do wish we had shown up a couple of days earlier than we did. 5th most expensive city in the world - bring money!! Hotel - Amora Jamison
2. Ayers Rock (Uluru) - Flew to Yulara to see Ayers Rock (note: this land tour requires several flights since AUS is the size of CONUS w/out TX - Quantas was the airline we flew and they were wonderful.) We saw Ayers Rock and Mt Olga - both sacred to the Aborigines - and watched the sun go down - amazing places in the middle of the Outback. Hotel - Sails in the Desert
3. Darwin/Kakadu National Park - Another flight to this location - Darwin is a small, but expensive city which is growing due to the nearby mining and oil industries. Kakadu is a very large park where we saw more Aboriginal sites, rock drawings, and a museum - very interesting. Also took a river cruise to see the crocs and birds with more sightings than most days. Hotels - Gagudju Crocodile/Crowne Plaza Darwin
4. Cairns/Port Douglas - Another flight - Did the Kuranda Skyrail thru the rainforest - beautiful area. Then on to Port Douglas and the Great Barrier Reef. Went out with Quicksilver who has a platform at Agincourt Reef for snorkeling (we both did this), diving, sub rides, and optional helicopter rides- beautiful day, but water was a little rough - if you tend to get seasick, take medicine; it's a 90 minute ride out and then back again. They also have suits you can rent to keep any jellyfish from stinging you and keep you from sunburning. Hotel - Sheraton Mirage Resort
5. Now fly back to Sydey and board the Diamond Princess (you will not have any free time once back in Sydney). Boarding was easy (partly because it was after 5 pm) and the send-off was beautiful in the early evening with the skyline.
Ship - overall in good shape and nicely decorated for Xmas (not overdecorated); sometimes seemed the stabilizers weren't working as well as they should; Captain and crew very nice and efficient. Captain explained what was coming up and kept us informed, and, in one small instance, the checking of a fire alarm in the crew smoking room (just a fan not working).
Cabin - Suite at fore of ship - very nice with lots of storage, living room and separate bedroom with tv in each. PLUS: Bedroom was very quiet since it was separated from the hallway. WARNING: Bath included a high tub/shower - about 5" off the floor so if you have accessability issues, this is not for you. WARNING: They lock the balcony door during sailing and you must request it being opened when in port; so if you are a balcony person during sailing, do not get this cabin. They also request curtains be drawn at 6 pm so the bridge can clearly see over the bow since this cabin is forward of the bridge.
Dining - We ate meals exclusively at the Horizon Court buffet. It's not gourmet, but we both thought it was very good to excellent with a nice variety of food and good selection of salads and veggies; they always had an Indian veggie dish which I enjoyed, as well as rotating through other cuisines. On sea days they had a special buffet just outside Horizon Court to include sushi, Mexican, Italian, and Asian Soup (my favorite). And yes, sometimes you had to share a table, but I met some of the nicest people that way. BTW, when I said the crew was efficient, they were very good and quick to pick up dirty dishes off tables. The pizza and ice cream were good, as was the afternoon tea, but they serve the scones in the buffet during snack time as well as at the tea.
Shows - IMHO the Princess Singers/Dancers were the best ship entertainment group we had seen in a long time (except for RCL's Allure of the Seas shows). We enjoyed the Princess shows the most - the other "headliners" ranged from bad to ok. Liked the 30-35 min per show format with 3 shows per night. The lounge shows were enjoyable.
Gym - Medium size, with a wait for a treadmill depending on when you went. All the equipment was working and there is a separate room for stretching and doing other exercises. (Only inside pool was used much and mainly by noisy kids.)
Library - Disappointingly small. I dislike having to go during certain times only - we are adults and other lines keep their libraries open 24/7.
Galley Show/Tour - Fun to watch the chef and maitre'd joke and cook. Tour was short, but interesting. Cookbooks went for $28.
Laundry - $2 each for everything - the smallest roll of US quarters Princess will have is a $5 roll.
Shore Excursions - we took one in Hobart, Port Chalmers (Dunedin), and Tauranga - all were excellent and talked about in Port reviews.
Cruising Days - Slightly rough through Tasmanian Sea. Beautiful scenery on our days of cruising Fiordland National Park and Marlborough Sound in NZ. Get up early and keep your camera with you for some great pics. Note: Dress warmly - NZ is cooler than AUS w/more wind and rain.
Overall - Pack for warm/hot weather for the land tour with some rain gear just in case (You carrying a smaller separate bag for this part). Pack for cool, somewhat rainy weather for NZ. At this time of our cruise the exchange rate was about $1.05US to $1AUS and $1.20NZ to $1US - things can be expensive in both countries. Popular souvenirs - AUS: Aboriginal art, boomerangs - NZ: Possum/Merino wool clothing(very soft,expensive), jade jewelry, abalone shell jewelry, honey. Both AUS and NZ are beautiful countries with nice, clean cities/towns and very nice people. This is a FABULOUS land/cruise tour and enjoy yourselves! NOTE: NZ is very strict - no food/drink to be brought ashore at ports!! They check and sniff (only bottled water). Must clean shoes if you went to Aussie park/farm!! They inspect before arriving at first port. Not a big deal, but necessary from their regulations.
Port & Shore Excursion Reviews
AucklandBiggest city in NZ and we again went to the Harley-Davidson dealer to buy t-shirts. Some litter and homeless people than anywhere else, but still a nice city. We didn't do much here because it was our debarkation port and we were probably worn out after 21 days, and we bought our transfer through Princess since they have a very nice hospitality floor in the Sky Center/Convention Hotel in the middle of downtown. It is right down the street from the docks and shopping area in downtown and you can leave your carry-on luggage there and walk around. The hospitality floor included free wi-fi, water, coffee, tea, and cookies and you can relax there while waiting for your bus to the airport if you were done walking around. The drive to the airport is about 20 mins. and goes through some of the Auckland neighborhoods, very nice.View All 271 Auckland Cruise Port Reviews
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AkaroaShip actually tendered at Akaroa due to earthquake damage at Christchurch. We did not actually take a tour, just walked around. They have a small town with tours to Christchurch, see dolphins, penguins, etc. They have a nice little park with a WWI war memorial and the largest roses I think I have ever seen. That is near a site with a statue of an artist painting an open frame so you can pose as if he was painting you and your friend can take a picture over the artist's shoulder. The town is full of beautiful trees and many different flowers so do walk around. Walk down the road to the lighthouse and keep looking in the bay to (hopefully) see dolphins swimming - I did. The lighthouse is small and pretty and for $2.50NZ you can go up to the top and look out. Very beautiful, peaceful little town!View All 12 Akaroa Reviews
Larnach CastleOnce back at the train station in Dunedin, board a bus for a scenic ride up the hills to Larnach Castle (not really a castle, more like a mansion) - short tour thru the mansion and beautiful grounds. You can take the narrow stairs (you must be mobile) up to the overlook and see even more around Larnach Castle. Very interesting history of the family who built it. Note: There is no free time if you see both sights (train and castle) to do exploring/shopping.View All 10 Larnach Castle Reviews
Taieri Gorge RailwayDefinitely worthwhile to take the Taieri Gorge Railway to see some of the scenery in this beautiful country - takes you from Port Chalmers (dock) thru Dunedin thru farmland thru high hills/forest areas and back again. You are served tea/coffee there and a delicious box lunch with sandwich, salad, cheese, dessert on the way back. Train station is beautiful. Note 1: Yes, you can pick up the train in Dunedin, but you must get there first from the ship and it's about 30 mins away; if you take the ship shore excursion, so it may cost alittle more, but with less hassle and you have first choice of seats. Note 2: There is no free time if you see both sights (train and castle) to do exploring/shopping.View All 33 Taieri Gorge Railway Reviews
MelbourneVery nice, pretty city. If you can walk, highly recommend walking from dock into the city - there is a very nice walking/biking path through neighborhoods/small parks and it follows the tram path. Turn right to go along the riverwalk (on either side) to the CBD. We went up the Sky Tower to see the view and take pictures - it was a beautiful, clear day. There would normally be a free CBD tram around the city, but it was not running this particular day due to a memorial for Lady Murdoch who had died earlier in the week. One interesting bridge we crossed near the train station had glass panels with all the countries that had immigrants into Melbourne. Wondered around and took the tram back to the dock ($4NZ each) - small supermarket at the dock if you need supplies.View All 166 Melbourne Cruise Port Reviews
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Sydney (Australia)Great city - lots to see! Stayed at the Amora Jamison - very nice hotel with a large room, comfortable bed, large tub and separate shower; small, but nice gym with two treadmills and water/towels supplied. Excellent breakfast buffet and great location from Opera House, etc.View All 537 Sydney (Australia) Cruise Port Reviews
First, we always find the Harley-Davidson dealer to buy t-shirts and used the subway/metro - very easy and fast. Very extensive subway system.
Went to the Harbour Bridge early evening, not the climbing tour - just walked across - still have great views and nice skyline, and it's free. Note: lots of steps.
Took the ferry to the Sydney Toranga Zoo - 15 min. ride, buy combo ticket at ferry dock and save 10%. Zoo on a hillside so expect to go uphill and downhill. Very enjoyable, including an area where you can walk around with the wallabies and 'roos. The Tasmanian Devil was cute as could be, too.
Sydney Opera House - very crowded, saw the outside, not the inside due to shows being performed in all the theaters so no tours were being done. If an inside tour is a must on your list, do this first so you don't run into this issue.
Restaurants - pricey to us - ate pasta, fish, gelato, cafeteria, and asian dumplings/noodles - all very good. If you like ginger ale, try the ginger beer (non-alcoholic).
View Cruise Critic's Sydney (Australia) Cruise Port Review
TaurangaWe took shore excursion for Maori Cultural Experience. Drive 90 minutes through the beautiful countryside with kiwi orchards and farmland. A little ways out of Rotatora? we picked up our Maori guide and continued to the cultural center - a small Maori village. Two buses - each picked a chief and we participated in a traditional Maori greeting ceremony. There are several Maori huts where the representatives explained a part of their culture - weaving, dance, wood carving, fitness, warrior displays. We then saw a show with traditional song and dances. Our lunch was a buffet with wonderful food, including the best lamb we had on the trip, and some traditional Maori dishes and a traditional NZ dessert of Pavlova. The Maoris are a wonderful people and emphasized their tradition of family and living in peace and harmony with other peoples and the environment. Note: Tauranga itself is a pretty little town and the ship docks right on the beach, not a shipping dock, where you can see the people swimming, surfing, and having picnics. There is a little free time once you get back to do some walking around or shopping in town since you docked right in the middle of town.View All 180 Tauranga Cruise Port Reviews
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WellingtonAnother pretty city in NZ. We walked around on our own - the ship docks about .5 miles from the train station and town so it's easy to walk to, although they do have a shuttle for $5NZ one way which stops in middle of their shopping district. We walked to the Streetcar and bought a ticket to go up (~$8NZ each?) - short ride, but nice. At the top, we saw the Streetcar Museum, including an old car you could get into and sit. We walked down the hill through the Royal Botanical Garden - lots of plants, not as many flowers as I expected until the Rose Garden - very nice and the Rose Garden at the bottom was beautiful. We also went to the Wellington City and Maritime Museum - free - very good displays of Wellington history and artifacts from the city and sea housed in their old Bond Warehouse - very interesting. Very enjoyable city.View All 270 Wellington Cruise Port Reviews
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