We embarked in Sydney and found the process easy and quick. It was a sparkling Sydney day, and it was a public holiday (Easter Monday) so it seemed everybody on and off Sun Princess was in holiday mood. There was a minimum of waiting in line and the staff were helpful and ultra pleasant. We must have received 20 "Welcome Aboard" and "Enjoy your cruise with us" by the time we reached our state room. We had been up-graded from a Balcony to a Mini-suite! Nobody could tell us why, but it was a great way to start our cruise.
Our bags were lost on embarkation and there was an anxious wait leading up to departure and beyond, when the bags failed to turn up. The staff were helpful however and the bags had lost their i.d. tags in handling. They were waiting for us at Customer Services on Deck 5. No problems.
The seas were flat all the way. The food was beyond our expectations. In the Regency Dining Room the staff were first rate and the company on our table of 8 were a diverse bunch and we enjoyed their company. We conversed with anybody and everybody on board and found our fellow cruisers always pleasant and helpful. The range and quality of food in Horizons, the Pizzeria and the Poolside food outlets (ice-cream and hamburgers, or sundaes and hot dogs) was all fabulous, and except for a few small gripes, we were very happy. Will I mention the small gripes? OK - American honey tastes like golden syrup, the espresso coffee was variable quality depending who made it and where you got it - small things really. We didn't make use of most activities, but I noticed that every day could be filled with activities if you wanted it that way. We were more content to laze by the pools, walk the uninterrupted boardwalk of Deck 7, read and laze about in our luxurious room. We did go to a show one night and the singers and dancers were energetic and pretty good. The casino was a good diversion on a couple of occasions and coincidentally, the machines were good to us. The outdoor movies were great and we enjoyed alternating between pool, spa and lounger in the balmy tropical air. Mid-night snacks, high teas, long lunches, ice cold beer, prompt and affordable room service were on tap. What a life!
In Darwin, disembarkation/embarkation was from Port facilities and went without a hitch. In Benoa, Bali disembarkation was via lifeboats after anchoring in the bay. This process is not so smooth. It took over an hour to fill the large catamaran tour boat and the process of getting on an off the lifeboats appeared chaotic and fraught with waiting and leaping over a lurching deck. The elephant ride excursion was filled before leaving port, so that was disappointing (tip: book tours when you book the cruise).
The Highlight of the cruise was the quality of the staff. They were intent on making us comfortable, especially the Dining waiters and Room stewards. The pre-port talks and information on ports was entertaining and accurate. Much appreciated.
Improvements could be made to the captains log information on the TV - there is a minimum of information provided, and no weather reports. I would like to know the names of the islands and land masses that can be seen ashore. Cruisers who want more should take an atlas or maps, but that's just me I suppose. I personally don't like plastic mugs for coffee and lemonade. They do keep liquids hot and/or cold however, it gave the feel of a nursing home or hospital.
I personally did not like JJ Ulrich, the Cruise Director. He was never seen except when speaking with Ships Officers and on TV daily reading the list of the days activities. He is brash, hard to understand and his sense of humour, if that's what it is, is just smart arse and rude.
It was an outstanding holiday. We were impressed with the loyalty program and the benefits for repeat cruisers. We will go again because the cruising is a complete package and good value too.
Cabin B355 Sun Princess. Ante room. Huge bathroom. Nice size sitting room with sofa, easy chair and coffee table. Two TV's. Two singles making a super king size bed. Double size balcony with good furniture. Sheer luxury all the way.
The modern port facilities make it easy to disembark and reboard the ship in Darwin. Darwin is interesting because of it's historic role in WW2. It was the only Australian city to be bombed by the Japanese.
It presents an opportunity to see a crocodile and native fish in an aquarium. There is a stinger free, shark free and crocodile free swimming area near the wharf/marina and an artifical wave pool which may be worth a visit.
The city has a rural feel and the parks and significant buildings are easily identified and have well planned signage with explanations for tourists. The city is also quite dirty and littered with rubbish and the streets are populated by a kind of underclass who will beg money as you pass by. We visited on a Sunday, so most shops were closed. There were restaurants and food shops however and the pubs do nice food too. The coffee was good in the Mitchell Street shopping mall, near the news agency.
On a one day visit it is difficult to identify the most important place in Singapore to visit. One of the most picturesque activities is a ride on a Bum Boat down the river from Clarke Quay They run all day, but night time is best.
The night safari zoo was good, but don't go on a Sunday because half of Singapore was there when we went. Don't go if thunderstorms are about because the queues will be too long for the trams and the shows will be cancelled as lightening upsets the animals.
The War Memorial at Kranji is definitely worth a visit. A touching reminder of the cost of our freedom.
For the best deals in food go to the shopping malls underground attached to the MRT stations. This where the locals eat and the tourist can avoid the traps found above ground. The trains are the best and cheapest way to get around, and simple when you get the hang of it.