My husband and I traveled to New Zealand on the Golden Princess for a 17 night cruise from Adelaide in January 2018. We had a comfortable cabin on Deck 8 which had good storage and an adequate bathroom with a small shower. The TV reception was never very good, but we didn't come on the cruise to watch TV, so this wasn't a problem.
We dined in the Dining room each night, a vast improvement over the Horizon Court buffet which reminded me of a cheap food court in a shopping centre. We did go there for lunch, but always found it hard to get a table and felt some of the food choices were limited. Some of the food looked delicious but unfortunately didn't taste as good as it looked, the butterscotch sauce being a prime example, it was burnt. Our wait staff in the dining room were very friendly and happy to answer any questions we asked.
The entertainment was lacking. Apart from Steve Larkins who performed as Freddie Mercury, the other entertainment was ok, but not the amazing performances promised. They felt like someone in America has come up with a concept for all the cruises and the singers and dancers had to perform the shows. Perhaps they need to take into account the areas the cruises are sailing in and make the entertainment more specific to those areas. One show Let Me Entertain You went from old fashioned songs to Britney Spears, Janet Jackson and then tried to get everyone singing Sweet Caroline. Perhaps if the entertainment planners traveled out of America they might find out this song might be popular at American baseball games, but means little to a ship load of Aussies.
The ports we visited were lovely. We had calm seas and fine weather. We did do the tour to Hobbiton which we thoroughly enjoyed, and did our own thing at the other ports which worked well.
Our main disappointment with the cruise was the lack of atmosphere. We were expecting a fun cruise with lots to do. While the Princess Patter listed daily activities, they seem to be aimed at the older cruisers, which made up about 75% of the people on-board. We felt like we were on a floating retirement village, which was a view shared by others of our age (50's) who we met on board. It felt like the entertainment staff were going through the motions and lacked any enthusiasm. The Cruise Director could never get more than 5 people each night answer to 'where are my party people' when this was asked at the packed Princess Theatre which held several hundred people. In fact the best place on the ship to get a view and some peace and quiet was the Skywalkers Nightclub as no one used it.
Would we go on Princess again? It won't be high on our priorities. We will try other cruise lines to compare. We have been on Carnival in the past and had a great time. We just felt we were too young for this cruise. Princess, perhaps your slogan should be changed from "Come Back New' to "Please Come Back!".
Comfortable cabin. Lots of wardrobe space, just don't stand there when the bathroom door opens. The bathroom was small but adequate. The shower was small, we got in there no problems, but wouldn't have wanted to be a larger person. The cabin steward was wonderful and always did a great job of refreshing our cabin.
Easy to catch the 109 tram from the end of the dock into the city, only takes about 15 minutes.
A beautiful harbor to sail into. The main shopping street of the city was a short walk from the dock. A lot of construction going on so there was a lot of noise and barricades up. A few beggers around but they are not allowed to approach you so that is good. Quite a hilly city so be prepared and put your walking shoes on. Nice for a stroll around.
We did a 1/2 day trip to Hobbiton and it was wonderful. The movie set is everything you expect it to be and the gardens are beautiful. It is very well organised, so there is no wandering off on your own. A tour guide takes you around the set and then you get a drink and snack at the Green Dragon pub. The exit is via the Gift Shop (of course!) and then back on the bus. To get to the movie set you go over the Kaimai Ranges which give lovely views out over the Waikato. Pity the bus was a bit slow and clunky on the climbs.View All 53 Hobbiton Movie Set Reviews
Tenders are used to take cruisers into the port of Gisborne. Thankfully this is very well organised and we didn't have to wait for long. Free shuttle buses were waiting at the end of the dock but if you wanted a nice stroll it would have taken about 10 - 15 minutes to get to the main area of Gisborne. Lots of friendly locals and funky cafes and stores to look at. There was also a market near the free bus drop off. Unfortunately the queue to get back on the tenders to re-board the ship was horrendously long. Lucky for us there was a Fish and Chip shop opposite so we went there for the best Fish and Chips with the freshest fish and watched the line slowly crawl along. The cruise line did provide water to those at the front of the queue.
Another beautiful harbor to sail into. Give yourself a treat and watch the sail in from the heads. The city takes a long time to reveal itself, tucked away into the bay. Wellington is a hip and trend city with lots to see and do. If you like gardens take the Cable Car up to the Botanic Gardens in Kelburn, just beautiful. The best thing in my opinion is Te Papa the Museum. Located on the waterfront it is free to enter and is not like any other museum I have ever seen. No stuff "look at this old thing in a glass cabinet' in this museum. There is also a cafe onsite, but the waterfront provides many options for dining as well.
The bay of Akaroa is just stunning and the ride in on the tenders doesn't take too long. We had arranged privately to be taken around Akaroa for 1 hour by Jack in "Lucy" a 1938 open top Ford tourer, just beautiful and well worth the price. Jack is very knowledgeable about the area and takes you to some private spots for views over the township. He also knows most of the locals so there are a lot of smiles and waving during the tour. The Giants House is worth a visit, just don't make the trip before 12pm when it opens as you have to walk up a hilly street and then the driveway itself is fit for a mountain goat. But once you get there the house and gardens are stunning and a work of art. We treated ourselves to lunch at a bistro with a beautiful outside seating area in a stunning garden, with a bottle of the local Akaroa Meniscus winery Riesling. A perfect way to relax and enjoy this stunning little town, a real hidden gem, and the wine was perfect as well.
The free shuttle bus from the port takes you into the town of Dunedin, about 30 minutes in all. Dunedin is a vibrant city full of lovely old building at every turn. The train station is a masterpiece in itself and well worth a visit. We went to the Chinese Gardens, an oasis of tranquility in a city and very calming. We spent most of our time wandering around admiring the architecture and looking in the shops. There are a lot of shops catering to the tourists but there is no hard sell, so you can happily browse. We came back and had a wander around Port Chalmers, well worth a look with some retro stores and funky cafes. We sat out the back of one cafe and had a yummy pizza, can't remember their name but well worth the visit.