I am a retired flt. attendant with Air Canada, with 25 yrs experience. I now own my own floral design business. I have travelled extensively, and independently, around the world. I have cruised a few times before ie: Egypt, Greece, Turkey, the Caribbean. This was my 4th trip to New Zealand, to visit a friend in Christchurch. I decided to see more of the country, this time, and thought a cruise would be a good way to do this. I usually research every detail, of my trip, know exactly what I want to see and do, especially when time is limited. But because I booked this trip, at the last minute, I was unable to do so. I was also unable to book the cruise line, or itinerary of my choice, due to availability. I would have preferred a cruise with more N.Z. ports of call. My itinerary: Auckland, Tauranga, Christchurch, Dunedin, Fjordland, N.Z, Hobart, Tasmania, Melbourne, and Sydney, Australia.
-I travelled independently, by air to AKL Feb 16, and from SYD Feb 28, without using Princess transfers or hotels. Taxis to/from airports fast and easy.
-Embarkation went relatively smoothly, and took about an hour. Should have checked luggage, at pier, and gone on AKL tour. -The ship was quite impressive, 16 decks, numerous pools, diningrooms, bars. Common areas immaculate, and nicely decorated. Shops not very interesting. I would have preferred a No Smoking policy. (Smoking permitted in cigar lounge, casino, and on balconies)
-My cabin was nicely decorated, clean, quiet. Balcony a plus! (ex cigarette smoke) Refrigerator stocked with ice and water. Bathroom very clean and ample supplies/toiletries. Safe appreciated. No bathrobe. Did not use laundry facilities. -My cabin attendant very sweet and attentive. My luggage arrived in good time. Also a welcome glass of champagne. -Didn't make it to yoga or computer classes, as they were scheduled too early, or in conflict with shore days. Only activities of any interest were art auction, wine tasting. Not into Bingo or line dancing. In cabin T.V. adequate. Internet cafe too expensive, and limited assistance. Spa prices too high. Theatre entertainment ok. Classical quartet lovely. Too much "oldie goody"music for my taste. Cpts. cocktail parties festive.
-Food ample, well presented, tasty. The 2 speciality restaurants were my favorites. Personal choice dining a life saver! High Tea lovely. Never tried the buffets, ex sushi, which wasn't very impressive.(all cooked) Nice to be able to get snacks whenever. Room Service menu lacking. Only continental breakfast avail, in room. The "specialty coffee card" was one of the few deals. (as the reg coffee is questionable) Nice to be allowed to bring 2 bottles local wine onboard. Also, keeping any unconsumed wine, at dinner, for your next meal, was a plus, for a single pax. -Security,immigration, health and agriculture, policies stringent. -Everything is in U.S.$$$$ even an Australian stamp!
-Shore excursions over priced and a waste of time, for someone used to travelling independently.
-Crew were for the most part sullen, tired, uncommunicative, and rude. Of the hundreds of staff, onboard, I would say 1% spoke English as their mother tongue, which made communication a problem at times.(a surprise for an American company) Of all of the employees I came in contact with, I would be generous to say that a handful made a positive impression on me, and tried to make my cruise more enjoyable. -On the contrary, employees in one department, treated me, so inexcusably, that in the end, my vacation was ruined. The experience has left such a bad taste in my mouth that I would never travel with Princess Cruises again, nor recommend them to anyone. What ever happened to "the customer is always right"? In this case the customer was treated like a criminal, accused of lying, and publicly reduced to tears. No one was held responsible for their actions, onboard, nor since. I have had no reply to my letters of complaint or emails, other than to say that a file has been opened and there is a 4-6 week response time.
-My advice? Check your file constantly, for incorrect cabin charges. If you find an unexplained item, (ie: a $120 shore excursion "accidently" added to your bill.) have it corrected immediately. Remove the daily gratuity charge, from your account, and tip at your digression. Never take the ship's Shore Excursions, under any circumstances. They're a rip off and waste of time. Take personal choice dining. Buy everything you need, onshore, in local currency. ( including your 2 bottles of wine) Find someone to travel with, because the single supplement charge is ridiculous. Never try to find a supervisor during the Cpt's cocktail receptions. Learn to speak Romanian.