Our travelling party consisted of two families - our friends one adult and three daughters 16, 14 and 10 and us 2 adults and four boys 15, 11, 9 and 6. Nine year old had his bday on the ship.
We arrived at Sydney Domestic airport early thinking of taking a maxi taxi if possible to the port, however once we picked up our bags we saw a guy with Princess cruises ask him a question and he introduced us to another shuttle driver who took all of us for $10 per person, which we would have probably paid anyhow as I doubt a maxi in Sydney will seat 10 pax.
We arrived at circular key at 9:30, dropped of our bags and went for a walk around Sydney along the foreshore to darling Harbour and then via the CBD to the ship. We arrived at our allocated boarding time at 12:30 and were on the ship within 45 minutes.
Went to our cabins on deck 8 (emerald) forward). We had two inside quads and an obstructed view twin. Cabins were fine.
The ship was well decorated with Christmas things and it truly made you feel within the festive season. Music played was often also Christmas themed and overall they built it up nicely through the cruise, from lighting the Christmas tree in the Atrium to ginger house making competition with the three winners being added to the ginger town display.
Christmas dinner was fine and all children received a present from Santa in the Atrium. On this cruise I also purchased the photo package for 199. We probably did not make full use of it but obtained sufficient photos to consider the expense worth while.
We tried the various dining venues on board and had an evening at share and the food was very delicious it costs $39 pp but is worth the expense (we only took the older children here) . We also spent one night at the gastro pub $19 per adult and $9 per child. The burger was a delight and so were most of the others. I suggest that all other something different so you can try.
Entertainment and activities were very good. The cruise Director 'Duke" and his sidekick ''Matt" were great, so where the shows and entertainers. We watched all the shows. We actually missed out on some of the venues which I realised at the end of the cruise so I will have to repeat :). Apparently Crooners was a place to be, but we did not frequent it, the piano player engaged well with a musical family and they put on some adhoc shows. The voice was a great show too, some very good talent, made it worthwhile. The top three were excellent singers. We attended several trivia and other things and involved ourselves whenever we felt like it. Carols with the crew was great and the Captain of the ship read out a Christmas story and was throughout the voyage informative and humorous. I also want to make mention of Dukes assistance a ships officer from France (nickname Frenchy) she was engaging with passengers of all ages, I observed her once having a great conversation with my 11 year old, and she did not know I was observing as I was quietly enjoying my drink.
New Years eve was a great party, many venues had activities and they had a countdown in the Atrium. Party hats and noisemakers where handed out during dinner at the MDR and you could really get into the spirit.
Fellow passengers on this ship was also a mix of all ages. There were a substantial amount of children on board - especially for a Princess cruise. In the two younger clubs there would have been about 150 and then probably another 150-250 teens. This made it therefore a varied demographic which was great.
We also enjoyed Vines, they had a knowledgeable waiter there Ryan from Canada who was very helpful. Tasty Tapas and Sushi was avail too with your wine order.
Our family also extensively made use of the coffee cards, several of the children had one, as they love hot chocolate, which was free and tea. So we now have two coffee cards left over that we can use for our next Princess cruise. The sweets in the Plazza caffee were delightful, Donuts, best ever, I will not eat any other donuts after tasting these.
Food overall was very good and so many choices, you can not go hungry on this ship. Loved the Pizzas, the Burger bar was great food, Horizon court good too, although getting a table was not always easy. We ate there at various times, same as the MDR and felt the food and preparation and presentation at all venues could not be criticised.
This was our first longer cruise with Princess and because we have cruised sufficient times with the company now we had reached Elite level. So we had the mini bar set up etc, but best of all was the free laundry. (by the way, if you think being Elite on board is special, just remember approx. 10% of the passengers will be at that level). Our cabin steward was great, very attentive and I made special mention of him on our survey.
The ports we visited have so much variety that it is too much to list it all, let's just say, NZ is an adventure of its own, we found it easy booking a lot of things ourselves and only did one ship shore excursion.
We will certainly cruise around NZ again and we were also very fortunate that we had excellent weather doing the Fjordlands. All the children travelling with us had a great time too and want to go again. The Emerald Princess is a great ship, very seaworthy, we had some high swell but the ship handled it very well.
Disembarkation was the sad point of the cruise as it is time to say goodbye, fortunately we were already planning our next cruise, but the process was smooth, no issue and we took a shuttle back to the airport again costing $100 even though it was a public holiday.
twin cabin, great, yes it was obstructed but still sufficient to see out and let daylight in.
They have a shuttle bus that picks you up close to where the ship docks.View All 13 Sea Life Aquarium Reviews
We hired a car and drove to Rotorua Skyline, luging and having fun. Next time though we will be exploring Taurange itself more.
Walked around Picton and explored it, it was boxing day. A picturesque and quiant little town.
We walked around, and visited several free museums, we were going to do the cable car, but the weather was inclemental so we decided against it as the view would not have been nice. Weather improved in the day but it was too late for us by then.
The guide whilst informative was disjointed, I wished he would have just stayed on the one subject before jumping to another and then back to the first one. You spend about 45 minutes at the Pub, great view and coffees etc are available. Has some interesting historic photos and details.View All undefined undefined Reviews
If travelling with children a great excursion, they get some free chocolates and also make some themselves. One note, when you arrive at Port Chalmers they have a shuttle bus at $15 NZ return pp. You are probably better off contacting a local operator who will drive you into town, then you have 3 hours free time before touring around Dunedin for another three hours for only $25. Also you can aparently pick up a local bus outside the big grey shed you are in.View All undefined undefined Reviews
Sydney is a great port to leave from.