We are 2 women. I am in my late fifties, my travelling companion in her seventies. Originally my parents (also in their seventies) were to join us for the cruise in the adjacent mini-suite, but had to cancel at the last minute due to an urgent health issue. This has no bearing on my review of this particular cruise. My companion had never cruised or left Australia before. I am an experienced traveller, often solo. This was my first ocean cruise. Previously I have cruised for up to 14 days on a small ship expedition off Kimberley WA coast and a river cruise in Russia. We are both of average fitness with no mobility problems. We chose the New Zealand itinerary over Christmas for the ports and shore excursions available around New Zealand sailing out of Sydney Harbour and the personal recommendation of at least 6 people regarding Princess Cruises.
We used the Princess Sydney Airport shuttle bus both ways. Both the embarkation and disembarkation process and passenger experience was severley compromised by poor communication, lackadaisical service and in fact misinformation on the part of Princess staff/contractors on the ground and on board ship. We had been upgraded to Club Class - thank you - but were not informed of this until we had been standing in various queues for more than 3 hours at the Sydney terminal. There was nothing on the Cruise Personaliser and we or our travel agent were not informed. We were told to get into one queue and then another and then we were appartently in the wrong queue. Honestly this mob could not run a chook raffle. We were even told at one point that they had run out of trolleys - "go and look after your own bags" - after being told by another Princess staffer that they would be looked after between getting on the bus and cabin. Then after considerable panic, some nice young man turned up with more trolleys. The beginning of the cruise was marred considerably as it took my companion the first 3 days to get over it! Disembarkation was just as disorganised. We had done everything we had been told - as always - to the letter. We were called "light blue 6" so we made our way to where we were told only to be told by Security to "wait until you are called" We said "We have been called". We made our way down to the luggage and mine went missing for more than an hour. Another woman and I were both given "lost luggage vouchers" before some sheepish young bloke turned up with my bag. As far as i know, the other woman is still waiting.
Cabin (mini-suite) OK, maitenance very poor. Shower/bath outlet blocked so showering in ankle deep water that took up to 20 minutes to drain (after 2 minute shower) - plumber materialised 48 hours after complaint - apparently no one had noticed prior to this. Speaking to other women on cruise - this is the first thing that they check - they clean their own outlet pipe of hair and other debris left by previous occupants! Yuck!!!!!
Toilet broke while room steward on time off (Day 5 Auckland). Bowl overflowing and down back wall. Managed to stop before the dirty deluge reached the carpet, after wading in - not happy. Paged steward - no answer - pager clearly not put through to anyone else. Contacted Passenger Services and demanded help - not taken seriously. Plumber took 3.5 hours to arrive. Strange little man came to mop up water - did not clean bowl. Eventually saw supervisor 3 days later, who called me a liar - not a high point Princess! Complimentary bottle of cheap wine not really appreciated after that experience!
Food repitive, average, sometimes poor - inedible - even CS Share. Room service - most times something - like milk - left off tray. Entertainment disappointing. High point of trip - the marvelous Ana (Club Class dining room hostess). Perhaps Princess need to make her a trainer in customer service and common sense!
On-shore excursions generally as expected although expensive for what is provided. Akaroa - Southern Alps including train to Arthur's Pass. As with all the excursions considerably overpriced. I might be nice to at least get a biscuit to go with the cold weak coffee. Disappointing when driver left an elderly couple behind with their bags and coats still on bus after 5 minute photo stop. They could both be clearly seen by all of the other 20 passengers on this particular bus hurrying back to whithin 2 metres of the bus front door! Driver told repeatedly, but they were left to catch up at next stop an hour or so later on another bus - not good enough! Driver's name - Gary. He was clearly seen being interviewed for the "Reflections" DVD for this cruise. In Dunedin after city tour, bemused when "complimentary shuttle bus back to ship" costs $10 NZ one way!
Bemused when on boarding found "gift for you" card for prepaid internet access. Apparently they were the "only cards that we had printed". People who had prepaid drinks packages had to ask for refunds as it was cheaper to arrange on board. Far too often there were language problems including incorrect drinks orders - or perhaps just convenient excuse for appalling service.
Most of captain's and other announcements not audible from inside room. Some were - why not all? Told by steward to "open the door". If it is important enough to make an anouncement about then it needs to be heard throughout the ship. Sometimes by the time I realised that there was an announcement going on and got to the other end of the long skinny mini-suite to open the door - the announcement was over!
The biggest bugbear was the door to our cabin / mini-suite. One or both of our cruise cards needed to be reactivated no less than seventeen (yes 17) times for the 14 days or our cruise to operate the door. Strangely the magnetic strip worked just fine for everything else - only the door was a problem! Just as well as my companion used hers to spend an awful lot of money in the ship's retail precinct. That was the only time except overnight on the bedside table away from lights etc. that she removed the lanyard from around her neck - as for both of us. She doesn't actually carry a phone and her bag did NOT have a magnet! It got to the stage that my companion would not leave the room without me for fear of not being able to get back in. We made contingency plans so that we did not miss various bookings because we couldn't get timely entrance to our room. Each foray into the queue at Passenger Services took from 5 - 30 minutes. Yes - I timed it! Yes, I, in particular do understand the concept of magnets, phones etc. as I hold post-graduate university qualifcations in medical physics. Other passengers also had problems with their doors and batteries etc were replaced - particularly if at least one of the passsengers was male! I have never had this problem before and no - I do not believe that this was our fault. Twice we were told that this would be checked out - it was not and of course on the last morning of the cruise my companion's card ceased to work yet again - right on queue!
It was particularly disheartening to see our cabin steward and one of his nasty little mates appearing to have a good laugh at my elderly companion attempting to gain entrance to her own room and failing. It may be fine in some cultures to treat middle-aged and elderly wormen as invisible - not in mine. Please remember that it is my generation and older particularly in Australia and like countries who DO have the disposable income along with the opportunity, health and fitness in retirement to use it; but we are choosey where we spend it - and we are becoming silent no more regarding poor service and downright rudeness.
"Princess Cruises - Come back New"......................
Princess Cruises - Come back broke and disappointed!
Princess Cruises - don't come back at all!
Cabin OK, not luxurious, not the cleanest i have experienced, service poor
Balcony not private or covered - clearly visible from above. Cigarette ends and icecream cones found their way on to our balcony at least twice from above.
Bathroom good but maintenance poor
Why 2 TVs in same room? Had to ask for batteries on remote to be replaced
Announcements only sometimes audible from within cabin
Problem with door - not addressed over full cruise
Beds fantastic and comfortable ++
ExcellentView All undefined undefined Reviews
ExcellentView All 45 City Tour Reviews
Marred by poor value for money, less than average catering and bus driver leaving a couple behind on purpose at one of photo stops (their bags and coats were still on bus) They had to catch up on a following bus. All of the passengers felt that this was disgusting behaviour!View All 5 Arthur's Pass Reviews
Self toured - excellent easy city to navigate
Nice little town including local markets
Very interestingView All 63 Rotorua Reviews
ExcellentView All 7 Wai-O-Tapu Valley Reviews
Self toured and walked around lovely city
The only experience from Sydney is the airport, the transfer and embarkation, disembarkation. Average is the best that I can come up with. Apart from sailing out of and back into Sydney Harbour which of course is magnificent, there is absolutely no reason to visit a place full of rude people who provide less than average to appalling service.