Sun Princess Cruise Review by dollyhouse
- Sail Date: February 2018
- Destination: Australia & New Zealand
- Cabin Type: Interior
A few days prior to sail date, we received an email from Princess, offering us a Moveover, that is, if we cancelled this cruise we would receive some very generous compensation. We were placed on a wait list for this offer. We then received a phone call the day before the sail date but unfortunately we did not see the missed call until an hour later; it was another offer of a Moveover, but the offer was unavailable by the time we had returned the phone call. In hindsight, oh how we wished we had been able to take up the offer.
Embarkation was smooth once we arrived at White Bay (a dreadful location) after the 5 hour change in boarding time, 'due to the whole ship being thoroughly cleaned', apparently. We had chosen an inside Guarantee cabin for a change.
Over the next six days we had both positive and negative thoughts about this ship, its dining and its entertainment.
First off, the much advertised and highly promoted (on their website) Enrichment and Discovery at Sea Programmes. These were non existent. Sorry, no, the Enrichment Program was in place: every single day in the Princess Patter, headed 'Enrichment', was a variation on an article about the Jeweller and the jewels that were sold in his store on the ship. And Animal Planet was also on offer: in the cabin on the TV, OLD documentaries. There were no Encounters at Sea lectures, no behind-the-scenes tour, in fact, most of the much touted activities on the website were absent.
The two shows were energetic and colourful, the male and female soloists had great voices, but the lip-syncing of the dancers throughout both performances was unnecessary; we all know they are miming to a backtrack.
Norovirus control. What a fiasco in the Horizons buffet. It is to their credit that they are trying to halt the norovirus but the attempts were either overkill or non existent.
Dining room and pool terrace: use the gel sanitiser if you want, no-one to supervise, so most did, but a number did not.
Buffet: Absolute farce. Line up to wash your hands with soap and hot water. Then be handed a plate and wrapped cutlery. Breakfast: how do you juggle a plate, cutlery, bowl and juice glass? You can't, even though a crew member told me the first morning that is what I had to do. In our case, we washed our hands, got given our bowl and cutlery, pointed out our cereal box, had it opened by the crew member, had the milk poured in by the crew member, then walked out to a table. After finishing the cereal, we had to walk back around the outside of the buffet cabinets, go in again through the cordon, wash our hands, get given a plate, point out our food, get served, then walk out to our table, get given a salt or pepper sachet by yet another crew member, then go and get in line to get our juice/coffee/tea/water, all of which were poured by a crew member. This same procedure happened at all meals.
We decided one morning to go to the dining room for breakfast. (No-one to monitor gel hand cleaning machine). Friendly companions on the table, both Australians and Americans. (There was a scattering of Americans on board). Then the long one and half hour breakfast service took place. What really annoyed all eight of us was the two stewards' attempts to sell us a champagne/orange juice starter. We all declined, then declined, then declined, then declined again: these two stewards were pests.
And a huge surprise was the large number of a particular ethnic group onboard, at least one-third. We think perhaps this is why we received the Moveover offer; the ship was overbooked. (we actually were told this was the case when we first spoke to a Princess staffer when we received the first Moveover offer). Apparently, this cruise co-incided with Chinese New Year. It was interesting to hear what I presume was Mandarin over the PA when the tender procedures were being outlined. The library became a psuedo-mah jong parlour each day; not being able to sit quietly in there and choose and read a book or magazine was sad, particularly as we had a couple of days when the decks were closed due to rough seas, so the public areas were crowded. The Internet Room was empty of users: if Princess intend to cater to those large groups who enjoy playing loud board games and loud card games, then perhaps they should remove some of the unused computers and make the room a designated Board Games area; and the Library remains a quiet area.
We enjoyed the Liars Game, the comedian 'Rash' Ryder, the marriage game, and the trivia games. INTERESTING note: we had to keep our small pencils, not return them, 'as a precaution against the dreaded virus'). During the fun art auction (interesting as a looker on to see who buys what), the bidding sheets and the information sheets had to be kept by us, 'as a precaution against the dreaded virus'. AND with regards again to the dreaded virus, to collect your photographs from the photo walls, you had to stand behind a rope cordon and point out to a crew member which photos of yours you wanted and he or she would get them for you. Presumably the crew are virus free.
The Captain kept us all informed of the conditions throughout. We made it to all three ports.
The ship overall is dowdy, there were quite unpleasant smells emanating in the Vista Lounge in certain areas and along one corridor of deck 11, that I was aware of. However, unlike a number of Australian based ships, the crew kept busy, cleaning windows, handrails, decks etc.
To sum up:
*we were disappointed in the ship overall, it lacked what we thought would be a step up from P&O Australia (lectures, enrichment programs, interesting, informative daily activities) and certainly in no way resembled Pacific Princess' offerings
*we think that the ship should have been advertised as a Chinese New Year Celebration cruise from the beginning, so that potential passengers would have some inkling of fellow passengers
*if advertising is going to be spread out among lots of different ethnicities, then the expectations of all 'groups' should be addressed so that everyone can enjoy the cruise and no one 'group' commandeer rooms or areas. The ship's very large computer room is hardly used as most people use their own devices; we would like to see a part of that large area be devoted to the playing of board games (and noisy card games) and the Library tables and chairs be replaced with more lounge chairs so that it remains a library
We would hesitate to cruise on Sun Princess again. HOWEVER, we heard lots of people, particularly first time cruisers, loved it.
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