Great Cruise for WWII History: Sun Princess Cruise Review by ssawjo
Overall Member Rating
Great Cruise for WWII History
Destination: South Pacific
Embarkation: Sydney (Australia)
On April 5, took a car to White Bay Cruise Terminal where we boarded the Sun Princess. Embarkation was easy and we were in are cabin in less than twenty minutes. We arrived at around 1 PM so that may have helped. We dropped our carry on in the cabin and had lunch in the Regency Dining Room, which was also our MDR for the cruise, table 156. We purchased the AIBP for the cruise because we had a lot of OBC to use. We felt that it was a good deal because we paid in AUD not More US dollars. It included every beverage we had onboard.
At sail away we met up with some cruise critic folks at the Sundowners Bar that I had been corresponding with for about a year. Beautiful sail away.
We had traditional dining at 1730 hours. I felt it was too early but the second seating was too late. Our table was for six and all of us were Americans. I was hoping for a more mixed group so that we could learn more about Australia and/or New Zealand. But we all got along and had a good time. We only on occasion purchased a bottle of wine at 40% off due to the AIBP. I felt that purchasing individual glasses of wine was a better bargain overall. The wine by the glass was ok at best but our assistant waiter learned what we wanted after the second day and all was good. Overall the food was good to excellent. If something was not satisfactory, our waiter, Sebastian, made it right. We ate most of our dinners in the MDR, twice in the Sterling Steakhouse (excellent), and once in the buffet because we returned late from a tour. The buffet for dinner was adequate. It was nice not to have to dress for dinner for once. We had most of our breakfasts in the Horizon Court and everything was good, except the coffee, which tasted like yesterday's dish water. We did go to the MDR once for breakfast but it just seemed to drag, so that was it for us. After eating breakfast, we usually went to the International Café for real coffee and a danish. Lunch was wherever we felt like, Trident Grill, the buffet, or the MDR. BTW, the pizza on the Sun is terrible. I can make a better frozen pizza which is what it tasted like. I miss Alfredo's from years past. Kai Sushi Restaurant was mostly empty when I walked past. Shares was a little more busy and those who ate there enjoyed it very much.
We had first cruised on the Sun in April 1997, twenty years ago with our then six year old son. It was brand new and state of the art in cruising. Now, it is dated and does need more work. However, it was clean and everything worked as it was supposed to work. The rumor on the ship was that the Sun, as well as the Dawn, were being sold to P&O Australia, dates unknown. Topsiders Bar was never open, not once. No chair hogs to speak of.
For ANZAC Day, there was a memorial ceremony on the Rivera Deck. It was conducted by the Captain and the Asst. Cruise Director and guests. It was very moving and well attended. This was on April 24 because we were sailing into Sydney on April 25.
Shows and other things:
I personally dislike song and dance musicals and the shows onboard were no different. I only go because my DW loves them. So, I force her to go to the comedians and other entertainers. They were good but not great. There was a WWII lecturer onboard, Bruce Petty, who gave a presentation in the Princess Theater about different aspects of the war, with emphasis on the contributions of the Australians and New Zealanders, and how the war was fought. He had a presentation for about 50 minutes every sea day. RANT: Why do some people think it is ok to walk into the Princess Theater about five minutes before the end of Petty's presentation, disrupt everyone, to find a seat for the next event in the theater? Rude is all I can say. There was plenty of time to get a seat and there was no rush.
There were the usual ice craving, fruit carving, cooking demo, gallery tour, etc. scheduled. Bingo of course. Cruise critic friend won $3100. He had been on since Perth and this put a dent in his bar bill.
We did not do any Princess tours. I personally arranged tours for Alotau, Rabaul, Guadalcanal, Luganville, and Port Vila. Much cheaper than anything the ship offered. I must mention that the roads on Alotau, Rabaul, and Honiara, Guadalcanal, are one big pot hole. The coast road from Rabaul to Kokopo had been mostly washed out between the Japanese Barge Tunnel and Kokopo due to a torrential rain storm the night before we arrived. We had to take a roundabout way to Kokopo that was nothing but pot holes but paved. The coast road appeared to be mostly mud. But all of the tours for Rabaul had to do the same thing. Then again, we had some beautiful views of New Britain Island and saw everything that we wanted to see. We did take the coast road back to Rabaul but it was slow, rough going.
The night before our arrival in Honiara, three warships from Taiwan arrived for a port visit. Taiwan is investing a lot of money in the Solomon Islands. It was a Saturday and the streets were full of Taiwanese sailors, mostly cadets by the looks of them. Well dressed and well behaved. But they took over most of the tour buses in town. I had arranged a WWII battlefield tour with Destsolo Tours and they had trouble getting us a van, and we needed two vans. One had inadequate air conditioning and the other had cigarette smoke residue that one of the my tour participants complained about. The town streets were packed. I have seen grid lock and this was terrible. We managed to see what we wanted to see and do the tour. In the afternoon, we were going to take a town tour but we cancelled it due to the traffic. No problem cancelling and those who wanted to do the tour wholeheartedly agreed. We had lunch in town and then went back to the ship.
We snorkeled at Doini Island and Champagne Bay. We did not snorkel at Kiriwini due to the inclement weather but we did go ashore. We dearly wanted to snorkel at Kitava Island but due to very rough seas it prevented tendering. Looking at the island I am disappointed we could not go ashore. Otherwise, it was a beautiful day at Kitava.
The tour at Luganville was a combination of town tour, million dollar point for snorkeling, and a swim a Rigi Blue Hole. We had lunch on Oyster Island, a resort that you have to take a ferry of sorts to get to. Very good food and again great beer.
The tour at Port Vila was with lelepaislandtours.com. After a visit to the big yellow house, aka duty free store, we went to this island via boat for snorkeling, a delicious barbeque lunch and more snorkeling. This was followed by a visit to a cave used by the islanders for shelter during cyclones and a visit to the village. This was the best tour of any of the ones I arranged.
In Brisbane we did a private tour and saw everything that needed to be seen. We visited the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary. We found Brisbane to be a very livable city.
Overall, a great cruise, great people, but the ship needs something. A Vines would have been nice.
One other thing. Apparently, this was Princess's last port stop in Honiara, Guadalcanal, due to insurance issues with the local tour operators. Princess did not offer any excursions on the island. There were two tour companies set up on the pier and they were very busy. I think there are other tour companies operating on the island but I am not certain. Anyway, if you want to go to Guadalcanal, P&O still goes there. Less
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