The most important reasons we chose this itinerary were: 1) see & cruise Fiordland Nat'l Park & Milford Sound, 2) traverse the Southern Alps of NZ, & 3) visit a Maori village to experience the culture, meals, traditions, etc. of the NZ islands. We got to see only #3 because bad weather cancelled going to the ports servicing Fiordland and the Southern Alps. All the other ports were just added fluff to us with interesting wine tours in NZ that helped us forget our disappointments, but only briefly. The Sterling Steakhouse on this ship was also a BIG disappointment. It is not even a dedicated restaurant anymore....just a section of Lido Deck's Horizon Court buffet dining room partitioned off with screens. You can still hear all the kitchen noises of Horizon Court & you can hear all the conversations (including screaming & misbehaving children) of Horizon. These conditions make the "luxury" dining experience that used to be Sterling Steakhouse a total farce, and Princess still has the audacity to charge $29 per person to experience it. A total rip-off. As for the new "Share by Curtis Stone" dining experience that charges even more per person, one look at that menu tells you nothing is appetizing & there are only tasting portions, not real food items for a good meal. Our mini-suite stateroom was not stocked as it should've been upon our arrival because the steward was re-assigned to another job at the last minute, and his replacement was told the room was completely ready. When we discovered several problems with the cabin, we had to contact the new steward several times as we discovered the problems. He was very prompt & helpful, so we forgave the mistakes of which he was not made aware. The Anytime Dining was as expected & operated very smoothly, the food was excellent & served properly, but the specialty sushi restaurant (extra charges) seemed too pricey (they charge by the piece, not a flat charge), so we skipped the sushi restaurant. For my money, stick with Anytime Dining because the lamb chops served in that dining room were better than the ones served at Sterling. We also met 1 passenger from Australia who said this was his 4th cruise on Princess to try to see Fiordland & Milford Sound, and he has YET to see them after this cruise. We advised him to do like we plan to do in a future year: fly to NZ, rent a car & do a car trip of both islands to spend more time in the areas we missed & see both attractions on days with good weather. The new Luxury Bed was a little underwhelming for me after having seen all the Princess hype for the past 2 years over the new beds themselves. For my money, Marriott still has a better bed than Princess.
Balcony was very narrow, but longer than most. The wood rail was heavily spotted with white paint previously dripped from above. Balcony furniture was very dirty, so we couldn't use it. Bathroom has no storage space near the sink & you have to reach across the toilet to 2 very small shelves for toiletries needed for sink & toilet. Most toiletries have to be stored far out of reach on a ledge next to the sunken jacuzzi tub. (Did not use the tub since we are shower people, but it looked nice.) Very nice faux stained glass "window" on wall over tub. Very difficult to regulate hot/cold in the shower. Either it's lukewarm or almost scalding anytime of day. Walk-in closet is larger than previous mini-suites on other ships. I liked everything about the cabin configuration except the lack of shelves nearest the bathroom sink. Since there were 2 separate TV's, there were 2 remotes. Only 1 worked the whole time, the other was hit-and-miss. The working remote would turn on both TV's at the same time (even if it was pointed only to 1 of the sets), and the first day it even turned on & off the overhead lights in the living room area of the cabin. What a shock!! The steward said it should not do that, but it did. Hide-a-bed couch cushions looked very worn, as did a lot of other upholstered seating throughout the ship & should've been replaced at least 6 months ago. This ship is due to go into drydock in May or June to be refurbished, but they should've done it sooner. The ship looks very tired throughout. "Luxury Bed" is not as comfortable as a Marriott bed, so it underwhelmed me after staying 1 night at a Marriott prior to boarding this ship. Don't do speciality dining. All of them are rip-offs on this ship. None of them are dedicated dining rooms & have absolutely ZERO ambience, so stick with Anytime Dining if you want to come at any time for dinner. (The lamb in Anytime Dining was better than the lamb at Sterling Steakhouse!) We will be sure not to book future cruises on Sun Princess of any of her same-class ships until they meet the standards of the rest of the fleet.