Sun Princess Cruise Review by Martindale333
- Sail Date: March 2018
- Destination: Australia & New Zealand
- Cabin Type: Balcony
The staff were lovely without exception. Our cabin steward was exceptional. Perhaps the only room for improvement would be in the perceived attitude of some staff in the Horizons buffet who from time to time appeared to a bit vague and disconnected from what some passengers obviously needed. The service of bar staff and waiters was usually excellent with happy repartee and conversation often thrown in.
The maritime crew were valiant in their efforts to overcome difficulties which included some patchy weather and equipment failures.
The food was generally good with the Share restaurant being exceptional.We ate in nearly all the restaurants and while the a la carte dining rooms like Marquis were of good quality, even the Horizons buffet was remarkable if you were savvy and knew about the themed dining nights. We particularly enjoyed the Korean Barbeque night. Share was a revelation. True five star dining at a very reasonable surcharge cost. Not only was the quality of the food exceptional, the method of service (feast crossed with degustation like courses) was well done and the wait staff were efficient, knowledgeable and friendly (happy smiling and helpful).
The weather bears mention in so far as the effect of nearby cyclonic conditions caused itinerary changes and cancellation of two ports (Napier and Tauranga). One night in particular with seas exceeding 5 metre swells was a real challenge for the ship crew and passengers. Hearing the elevators banging against the sides of the lift wells cused quite a bit more wear and tear on the stairs I'm sure. The Captain did well to avoid the worst weather though with some judicious detouring.
Our on shore experience was OK, though there were some reservations (shared with other passengers) about lack of wildlife in some vaunted NZ wildlife locations.A standout was the passaged thin and out of Milford Sound in brilliant cloudless sunshine (see photo). Unfortunately some of the positive potential of places like the fiords were ruined by rough weather inaccessibility. Milford Sound was our only fiordland entry. Late departures and arrivals (starting from Sydney) and again apparently weather affected, meant delays across a day from time to time. This detracted from possible daylight sailaways from major ports.
Entertainment options on board were pleasingly varied. The shows were of a good standard, the separate performers enjoyable, especially the sassy Brit repartee of Char and Philly whose portfolio of numbers was both enjoyable and very well performed. Go girls! We didn't use the casino so can't comment here.
Embarkation and disembarkation at White Bay was much better than anticipated. The dock is portrayed as without facilities yet we found the whole complex, including cafe and amenities quite useful. The processing in both directions was very efficient.
The standout issue though is the ship itself. It's old, shows its age (worn and rust evident). At one stage we observed a crew member with a bucket of rust converter and a brush spend hours coating rust stains in the superstructure of the Riviera pool deck in full view of passengers. Not a confidence inspiring activity? I have attached a photo of our stateroom balcony which is representative of the rust stain problem evident throughout the exterior of the ship.
While our stateroom was kept exceptionally clean and well ordered by our steward, it remains (as has been observed by others) both small and noticeably worn and a little tatty. The Princess website notes that staterooms (cabins) were not included in a recent refurbishment. It shows!
A 23 year old ship which, despite a claimed refurbish in 2016 (note: NOT Refit), has really had its day as a luxury cruiser. Might be better off doing the "budget" runs elsewhere in the world? Or is Aus/NZ seen by Carnival as a "budget run"????
Will definitely cruise again but not on this vessel.
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