I cannot really say anything bad about the ship itself and the service the staff provide. Our stateroom on Baja deck (11) on port side was excellent. The restaurant and food/service was good. We enjoyed a couple of nights in speciality restaurants and felt we got value for money. The 11 night drink package was £440 but again we saw this as reasonable value. Some of the on board entertainment programme was decent but some poor, to be expected I suppose. A big thumbs down for the almost complete abandonment of ballroom dancing but a thumbs up for the excellent
The downsides are more to do with the cruise programme itself. Sailing out of Sydney harbour was magical, a day at sea was okay. Into Hobart, Tasmania which was a pleasant place and able to cope with 300 ship passengers. Two days at sea across the Tasman Sea to South island, New Zealand and then a third day on the boat as you sail Add to Fjiordland - just magical if the weather is good, we were lucky. Around to Dunedin - fog, we cannot go into port. The forecast is the same tomorrow so we cannot go into Akoroa. So now in a week we've had eight hours on land, start to get cabin fever. The Skipper made haste to Picton and gave us an additional half day on land. But wait, this is an industrial port and you cannot just walk off, queue up for tickets and buses. I don't remember this in the published programme for the cruise. Picton is the gateway to South island, already thronged with ferry passengers it nearly sinks under the weight of 3000 cruise passengers. Off to Napier, published six hours ashore, another industrial port, queue, ticket, queue bus - you actually get 3.25 hours shore and another 30 minutes in the bus queue to come back. This isn't feeling like a five star holiday all of a sudden.
In short, New Zealand doesn't have the port infrastructure to cope with these ships and has very changeable weather which can exacerbate the situation. This isn't exactly Princess Cruises problem but they haven't made any of it clear in the glorious adverts for this unforgettable cruise so by their omissions and therefore deceptions I hold then responsible. I wouldn't cruise again because the snapshots it provides into a country doesn't suit my needs. I would use Princess again because the ship was lovely, Id just be wise to their omissions and do a little more research. Cruise New Zealand? Why would you when there is so much to see on land.
A lovely stateroom that was well serviced by the staff. A rubbish shower curtain was the only downside. Oh and riculous charges for bottled water in the room
Stunning views sailing our. The bridge, the opera house, the ferries and Darling harbour are all worthy of a visit
Private visit to Richmond using the tourist Information bus, a fraction of the cost of the ships excursion to the same place
Gateway to South island. Abusy small town that is overrun with ferry traffic and cannot cope with 3000 cruise passengers. Book a hire car in advance of going here oryou may be disappointed. A private trip to Havelock and the Marlborough Valley were excellent
Napier is a beautiful city full of art deco buildings and a fascinating history from the 1931 earthquake. However you use an industrial port so ticketing and bus on/off required. A six hour stop turned into 3.5 hours on shoreafter the queues to get off. A 2 hour private bus tour of the city organised by tourist information proved extremely worthwhile. A big thumbs down for Princess Cruises here though
This was our first walk on and walk off stopover, what a difference it made. WE privately rented a hire car and had a 70 min drive to Rotorua, excellent visit to the Moari village and thermal experience.