We were on the Jan 11th-23rd sailing on the Sapphire Princess. By we I mean my mother and I. This was my 4th cruise as I have previously sailed with Royal Caribbean, Holland America, and Costa Cruises.
Embarkation: We left our hotel in Sydney at about 10AM to get to the dock by taxi. There was a checkpoint at the dock so we were forced to wait while they let buses of people fresh from the airport go before us. That was a little frustrating because we like to be one of the first ones on the ship. After we were let through, we stood in a somewhat long line. We were given our paperwork to fill out in line so that helped speed up the process. When we got into the cruise terminal they had 4 check-in stations (as compared to other ports like Harwich and Civitavecchia (Rome) where they have 8+ check-in stations). The lack of check-in stations made the wait even longer. We also had to re-register our credit cards even though we had done it online beforehand that way it would speed up our process of boarding. It was an absolute madhouse trying to register our credit cards as there were no lines--just a big mass of people pushing and cutting to try to get theirs done as quickly as possible. All in all it took about 1 1/2-2 hours just to board.
Shore Excursions: We did a shore excursion in Hobart and Dunedin. Hobard was the worst shore excursion experience I've ever had! Our bus looked like it was from the 70's and our tour guide was not prepared. She read to us from a book about Tasmania over a loudspeaker that cracked every time she began to speak. She was very uninformative about her own city and lacked intrigue. We ended up going on the Tassie Tree Top Walk which wasn't as exciting as I thought it'd be. The other 3 tour group buses were waiting for us when we arrived and we were all herded together like a group of cattle. After the Tassie Tree Tops we went to some apple farm, and then to some woman's home with a garden. The only good thing about her house was the interesting toilet made of wood, and her cute little dog. We were happy when the tour was over because we learned we could bring our own alcohol on board, so we stocked up in Hobart as the next few days were at sea.