We had been looking for a cruise out of Australia for several years. We had previously booked two cruises which were taken for full charters so when this one became available we reserved a cabin on the day it opened. We made our own air arrangements, using frequent flyer miles to cover the cost. We left the US on June 15 and arrived in Sydney on June 17. Our transpacific flight on Qantas was excellent. We had lie flat Business Class seats and appreciated being able to extend our legs throughout the flight.
We spent four nights at the Park Royal Hotel at Darling Harbor and would recommend this hotel for a pre-cruise stay. I had polio as a child and now use a scooter for mobility. We had an accessible room at the hotel which had easy access to both the room and the restroom. Hotel staff were personable and knowledgeable.
We purchased I-Venture cards for site seeing which did save us some money. We had a lot of rain while in Sydney and did not manage to do as much as we had planned but still greatly enjoyed our time. We boarded the Sun Princess on June 21. Boarding was very easy. We arrived early at White Bay Cruise Terminal but were taken to check-in immediately. From arrival to entering the ship took fifteen minutes at most. There were elevators from the entry level to the boarding level in the terminal. There was an airline type bridge from the terminal to the ship.
Our cabin, Baja 305, was an inside accessible room. The cabin was adequate but not outstanding. The bathroom had a ramp for entry from the cabin. Although the door to the room and the bath was large enough to use my scooter the ramp was a challenge. I prefer ships with a flat threshold between the room and the bath. The placement of the shampoo and shower gel was not properly situated. I must use the shower bench and when seated the shampoo and gel are very difficult to reach. Further the seat has a metal bar at the back so you cannot sit upright on the seat but must lean forward. This is less than ideal. The drain system around the shower worked well. The shower curtain had a difficult to use pull bar and when seated could not be easily pulled. The toilet height was satisfactory. There was a hand bar on only one side of the toilet. I prefer when there are two bars, one on each side of the toilet as that just seems safer. There was enough room in the cabin to store my scooter as well as all our clothes and luggage. We had the new comfortable mattresses. The pillows were less of a hit with us as they were too fluffy if you are a side sleeper. We both disliked how the pillows pushed up against our faces. The duvet was very heavy so we took it off at night. Using a scooter on this ship was easier than on previous Princess ships we have been on as the halls seem to be about five or six inches wider and I could pass the housekeeping carts easily. Our steward kept our room clean and well-supplied.
As this ship originated in Sydney we did expect some dining differences between the ships originating in the US. Although our waiter, his assistant, and the head waiter were excellent the food left our taste buds wishing for more. If you do not like fish and lamb this is not the ship for you. I lost ten pounds on this cruise and my husband lost seventeen. Also, taking fifty days of a seventy-five day cruise we expected a different menu each night. The menus were repeated. What few beef entrees offered were tough. Even the prime rib was tough. Only the beef fillet medallions were tender. You could, however, have all the prawns you wanted. One day we saw they were serving "Crispy Fried Chicken" at lunch. That sounded good to us until we got our meal. It was pressed meat with a strange off flavor.
During the day we especially enjoyed the trivia contests and the enrichment lectures. In the evening we were pleased to have on-demand movies in our stateroom as after full days on excursions we seldom felt like going to the planned entertainment. An assistant cruise director, Jamie from England, was especially worth commendation. He did an excellent job with trivia and other activities. One night he was the highlighted entertainer doing a selection of songs. I would say he was better than some of the "fly-on" entertainers.
Overall the service was excellent with the exception of handicap access. Who knows why but at least twice we were taken from inside the ship to pass along the promenade deck and then re-enter the ship before joining another line. This is a problem for scooter and wheelchair users as the lip across the ramps between the outside and inside promenade deck causes increased chance of tipping. I especially did not appreciate being told I was too slow going over the threshold. It would have been better to have help than to be chastised. Also, when going off or returning to the ship I was always helped on the gangway but not at the thresholds on promenade deck. I preferred to exit and re-enter the ship on any other decks.
After leaving Sydney our ship stopped in Darwin, Australia; Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia; Hong Kong; Beijing, China; Inchon, South Korea; Vladivostok, Russia; Busan, South Korea; Hakodate, Japan; Tokyo, Japan; Seward, Alaska; Icy Strait Point, Alaska; Glacier Bay, Alaska; Juneau, Alaska; Ketchikan, Alaska; Vancouver, Canada; Victoria, Canada; and San Francisco, California. Our favorites were Darwin where we took a ship's tour to see the Jumping Crocodiles, Kota Kinabalu where we took a ship's tour to a zoo, Tokyo where we took a ship's tour, and Vladivostok where we took an independent tour with "Primorye Explore". We wanted to love Beijing but the air pollution was extreme we felt like we were breathing soup. We did go to the Great Wall and Forbidden City.
We arrived in San Francisco on August 8 where we took a bus tour to the Golden Gate Bridge and then disembarked on August 9. There were only about 100 people disembarking in this port so it was easy.
Overall this is the oldest ship we have sailed on. It was nice having new mattresses and on-demand movies. However, spending more money on food and repairing the many leaks from ceilings and public restrooms would have been money well spent.
Not only do you get to see the crocs but you also get a bus tour through Darwin, a stop at a wildlife center and if you wish you can be dropped in town to shop or do other sightseeing.View All 20 Jumping Crocodiles Reviews
We had an excellent guide, "Jack", but should have taken an excursion that did not require me to change buses half way through the tour. Hong Kong buses cannot go to Lantau Island nor vice versa. This is a problem for the mobility impaired.View All 8 Po Lin Monastery Reviews
Cyclone Nepartak caused us to miss this port.
This tour was difficult due to the severe air pollution. It is hard to pay attention when you are having trouble breathing. The tour itself was satisfactory and the guide was good. The included lunch was OK as well. On our second day we took an independent tour in Beijing visiting both the Great Wall and the Forbidden City. We did not visit Tianimin Square as planned on the itinerary. Our guide was most intent on getting finished with our group.View All 3 Tianjin City Tour Reviews
We had a rather long bus ride to the DMZ but the ride was worth seeing this place where history has been made and is still being made today. This is one of the most highly mined areas in the world. Areas are marked telling you not to go pass this fence as there are mines throughout the DMZ. The kind of mines that explode, not those that are underground.View All 6 DMZ Third Tunnel & City Tour Reviews
The lunch was bad but other than that it was an excellent tour.View All 11 City Tour Reviews
We were docked in Seward and the Sea Life Center was excellent. We liked being able to see the birds, animals, and fish from above and below the water. There were also aquariums full of local fish.View All undefined undefined Reviews
We took the tram that went to the forest and the beach. If you are interested in doing one of the active excursions like the zip line I recommend that you do not book on the ship. Book one of the cheaper excursions and they give out coupons so you can get a lower price on one or more of the more expensive excursions.View All 72 Wildlife Tour Reviews
No waiting to buy a ticket if you have purchased on the ship.View All 263 Mount Roberts Tramway Reviews
What a wonderful tour!. We saw lots of eagles, touched crabs and spotted prawns and saw rockfish. The stories the men told of fishing for crab in the Bering Sea were fascinating and scary.View All undefined undefined Reviews
We enjoyed this tour but it is simply a city tour. We should have gone to Stanley Park on our own.View All 66 City Tour Reviews
We saw Craddarroch Castle, Mt. Tolmie, The Wharf, the beaches and the University. This was an excellent tourView All undefined undefined Reviews
We crossed the Golden Gate Bridge, went to Cliff House, and drove through the city.View All 9 Golden Gate Bridge Reviews