My wife and I chose this cruise for the itinerary 14 days taking in Vanuatu, Fiji and New Caledonia. First downfall was Cyclone Donna which killed the first 2 ports (Isle of Pines and Mystery Island) - can't lay blame or fault on the weather but I can blame Princess for not providing an update prior to embarking - other cruise lines did. You see once you are on the boat they can do anything they like in changing the itinerary and you are stuck - this is what happened to us. No one would answer our questions on embarkation but we did get a lovely letter in our cabin explaining we were sailing and they would work it out as we went but they had replaced 2 ports with Luganville - yay (not)
The ship itself is just like the unwritten demographic it is pitched at - a bit old and tired. At very least the outside desperately needs a paint to cover the rust stains. For the record my wife and I are in our 50's and we were in the youth bracket.
We had an interior cabin which was OK, until the point it flooded due to a broken tap in the bathroom which had been running for hours - full boat so we could not be relocated but all was fixed in a few hours including brand new carpet. Credit where it's due the clean up job and service was fantastic. So was the mattress, all new and very comfortable.
For dining there is a choice of traditional / anytime seated dining, some cover charge specialty restaurants or the buffet Horizon Court - the seated dining was absolutely brilliant, we chose anytime dining and had a different table and people every night - I would strongly recommend you do this for all 3 meals which brings me to the buffet which was ABSOLUTELY DISGUSTING !!! The chefs go crazy with Salt and I had tummy issues after eating breakfast and lunch on a couple of occasions - and no I didn't load up like a pig. For example poached eggs were pickled due to the amount of vinegar and rice tasted like it was cooked in dirty dish water. Good luck trying to get to a dispenser for juice as you will have to clear out a dozen food stewards first. One thing I can recommend without issue is the Stakehouse - this was terrific but it does cost $29per head (3 courses).
The entertainment was interesting but not in an entirely positive way. The production crew (singers and dancers) hardly did any shows - 5 in 14 days. We were on the Pacific Jewell at same time in 2016 and the production crew who were all brilliant did 2 shows every day. There were other acts on the Princess which were great (Amber Jade, Cameo Rascal, Adele Experience and a comedian) except for a piano smashing Gypsy wearing a Liberace jacket who was garbage. I wasn't impressed with the conduct of the production crew around the ship as all except one (Becky) did not smile or seem to know how or want to interact with passengers. I thought the best show for the whole cruise was a pub night bu it was really poorly advertised for what it was.
The Cruise Director (Neil) was a botox laden dud of the highest order. He was aloof and also did not seem to want to engage with passengers. His staff on the other hand were exceptional and I must give a huge thanks to Ian, Chris and Johnny for their excellent work and efforts to make everyone feel great and have fun - they were always happy, always smiling and quick with a joke and always made time to talk to passengers.
One thing that really annoyed me was the conflicting evening activity schedule, rather than being linear, activities crossed over by 10 - 15min and did not allow you to go from one to another - ridiculous and something blind Freddy could fix in 5 minutes. In truth it probably did make sense if you were happy to eat dinner at 5pm then toddle off to bed !
I also think there was not enough things like trivia (no music trivia at all) or the afternoon game shows or fun activities. There were a few but nowhere near as many as on P&O.
The on-board bands / music entertainers were also a bit of a yawn. The best was a band called Nexus but they are one trick ponies and only seem to be able to play one set of songs. They were good but need variety. They also kept calling for the Aussie Aussie Aussie chant which loses it's appeal after the first 20 times - find a new gimmik. The other musical acts were enjoyed by the hoard of people sleeping in the Atrium.
With regard to service here is the real roller-coaster. Most of the service staff do a great job. There is a sensational girl on the door of the Regency restaurant named Miriam smiling, friendly and efficient. She was the same for people entering or leaving. This was unfortunately tempered by A big guy who runs the International Cafe - best place to get a coffee as long as you can put up with this guys constant rudeness and short fuse. I had an issue with my cabin card and a small female pursor went to town on me saying I had put it near a phone - not true at any stage. I heard all sorts of stories about good and bad service during the cruise but the prize goes to the barman who refused to serve customers (including my wife) until he finished texting his girlfriend.
Shore excursions were typically overpriced, however a couple of things that I found exceptionally distasteful. Firstly everyone was advised there would be Princess organised "complimentary" shuttle buses to run people from the port into Latouka shopping area (2km). When people got on the bus they were asked for AUD$15 each way ! The other issue is Princess unlike other cruise lines get tour operators to put blockout days in place when the cruise is in port so they cannot be booked externally. For example the Tchou Tchou train in Noumea can be booked direct on line for 34 Euro (approx AUD$45) but is on blockout when a Princess cruise is in port. The Train was AUD$90 through the boat. Same for Amedee Island which is normally AUD$160 but was $269 through the boat and was also on blockout.
The biggest issue was port lectures and tips delivered by a woman named Leanne Fielder on the boat - in short her drivel and inaccurate information caused injuries to many passengers on Dravuni Island - it is evident she has not done what she discussed and should be dismissed immediately.
Interestingly on the last night the Cruise Director told us about a survey that would be emailed to us. He then said not to concentrate on the negative issues and rather concentrate on the positives. He must have been thinking there might be a few negative comments I suspect.
So after we left the boat in Sydney and collected our bags I discovered my main suitcase had been damaged - ripped apart ! It was obvious it had been dragged for some distance, probably under a forklift. A lovely Princess staff member filled out a damage report and handed it to me. I asked her what the process was and she said contact my insurer and then said goodbye - wonderful end !!
Princess needs to be open and honest about the demographic and clientele it services. We will definitely cruise again but not with Princess.
Cabin C509 Interior Deck 9 Caribe - nice enough and spacious for what it is. Great mattress. Storage under the bed but we were smart and took cases that fitted inside each other when empty. Always go for miships if you can as helps in rough weather and is also a little quieter
Interesting but not worth money - take a cab to Million Dollar Point cheaper and just as goodView All undefined undefined Reviews
Be prepared for steep climb up hill to lookout point - take plenty of water. There is a flat track to other side of island to the left of wharf when arriving
Be careful of people approaching you on street - say no to everything
Did some quadbiking in Nadi - brilliant experience and the highlight of our entire cruiseView All undefined undefined Reviews
Great way to do a reccy and see Noumea - expensive through ship try to book direct for half the price. If you sit at front can be hard to hear over engine noise. If you sit in rear there can be some sway and wobbleView All 68 Discovery Tchou Tchou Train Reviews