We chose this cruise as we wanted to cruise on the newest Princess ship in Australia, the Majestic Princess, this particular cruise fitted in with our holiday time available, and it went to both Islands of New Zealand, which we had on our Wishlist after visiting the South Island on Emerald Princess two years’ ago.
We flew in from Perth the evening prior to our cruise departing and stayed at the Adina Hotel Apartments close to the airport (fully recommend this place), and then caught the train into Circular Quay. Our first view of the beautiful Majestic Princess was breathtaking and the cruise itself didn’t disappoint!
Embarkation was smooth as usual for Princess. We were allowed into the OPT by 10:30 am and onboard by 11 am. The welcoming staff invited us to put our hand luggage in our stateroom, even though the steward had not completed his duties there, so we were able to quickly do that before doing our traditional tour of the new ship.
The ship being quite new was oustanding in its appearance! From the dazzling Piazza to the beautiful artwork and decor throughout the ship, the Majestic is very impressive. We did miss the opportunity to walk around a full Promenade deck, but there are lots of other areas to provide exercise, if desired.
We were in an starboard aft balcony stateroom and enjoyed that very much. The room was always spick and span, and there was plenty of storage room for clothes etc, with an abundance of coat hangers, much to my wife’s delight!
We thoroughly enjoyed the embarkation lunch in the Concerto dining room, thanks to CC tipsters. We were assigned to the Allegro dining room for tea at 5 pm, and used that on a few occasions, depending on the menu for the day. One negative point to note is that although booking a table for two, in Allegro the tables were so close together that it may as well have been a table for ten! Interestingly, this was not the case in the Concerto for the two lunches we ate there. So if you are looking for a quiet, intimate, romantic table for two, avoid the Allegro.
The food itself in the MDR was of usual Princess standard, with a certain sameness appearing during the two-week voyage. The food in the Marketplace was excellent, we found, with good variety and contrary to many CC reports we had read earlier it was always hot, not warm. We also tried the Noodle Bar and Alfredo’s Pizzeria and were impressed with the standard of food at both of these complimentary food outlets. We didn’t eat at any of the specialty dining places, but can understand the criticism of the location of the La Mer restaurant. Being so close to the Piazza must surely detract from the atmosphere of a Michelin Star restaurant.
We enjoyed one live show at the Princess Theatre, Fiero. It was quite full but we did find a seat, even though we arrived just before the show started. From observation, some shows did appear very popular and would have been difficult to get a seat for. Some were shown via video link to other parts of the ship. We did catch some of the live performers in the Piazza and similar places around the ship. Whilst entertaining, it wasn’t outstandingly so, we felt, but admittedly this is very much a personal preference thing. Nonetheless, it was very relaxing to enjoy a coffee and cake from the International Cafe (IC) whilst listening to some pleasant background music.
We did enrol in the Enclave at the Lotus Spa ($299 per couple). Whilst we made some use of this, scheduling to use the spa and saunas was challenging with so much happening on the ship and on shore days. We probably didn’t get the full value out of this and wouldn’t likely be tempted in the future with this. The Internet service deserves a mention—it was painfully slow! Fortunately we only used our complimentary internet time to check emails, etc, so we were largely spared the frustration! The library was small but with quite a good selection of books, and there was ample board games to be borrowed and used. Again, it was very relaxing playing Yahtzee in the adults only Hollywood Conservatory, which is well equipped with an undercover swimming pool, spa pools, and cabanas.
The service staff onboard were as usual excellent! Waitstaff in Allegro were friendly, helpful and amusing, and the behind-the-counter staff in the IC were outstanding. The front desk staff were helpful when my wife lost a piece of jewellery and it was recovered within 24 hours. Very impressive! Our steward, Maynard, was efficient and unobtrusive.
The intinerary introduced us to a new port in NZ, Tauranga, and we absolutely loved the visit here. The magnificent beach with its adjacent alfresco cafes was stunning, and the climb up Mt Manganui presented a vista well worth the effort. The only downside was that due to the late arrival time in Tauranga (10 am), the walk up the mountain was done in the heat of the day, and being a hot day it was quite physically draining. A cruise that lands earlier in the morning would make this shore excursion far more enjoyable. The other shore highlights for us were the visit in Wellington to the Te Papa Museum, which was hosting the Terracotta Warriors display. This was an outstanding exhibit! Also, we again enjoyed visiting Akaroa. This beautiful French style town has so much to see. This trip we did the lighthouse tour (thanks Tom and Clive for such an informative commentary) and visited the Garden of Tyne bush walk which had some fascinating bird life. Next time we’ll remember our binoculars and NZ bird book! The museum in town and the town library are also well worth a visit. The only negative I could make about our shore visits would be the HOHO bus in Auckland. The price for this service ($45 pp) is a rip-off, and it is one of the worst organised services of it’s kind I have encountered. Half of the bus trip was spent waiting for passengers to fill whatever seats happened to be empty (no standing allowed apparently), having to do this as they negotiated the steps on the double-decker bus without tripping over prams etc which were stored in the aisles and exit of the bus! What a schemozzle! We used this service primarily to visit the Kelly Tarlton’s Sea World display ($30 pp) which was great value, especially the penguin area and Scott’s Hut display. Given our time again, we would catch the free shuttle out to Sea World and skip the HOHO bus. Whilst on shore excursions, I must mention that we did miss Dunedin and Fiordland due to poor weather conditions, which would have been disappointing for ones who had booked with these highlights in mind. We had seen them on our last trip, so we weren’t too disappointed, and appreciated the skill of the captain and crew in ensuring a pleasant and safe cruise.
In summary, this was a memorable cruise on an oustanding ship! We have already booked other cruises with Princess, and wouldn’t hesitate to go on Majestic again.
We loved the cabin location. It was clean and new, with plenty of storage space. The only negative was a vibration in the headboard that was loud enough to disturb our sleep on occasions. We will select a different stateroom on Majestic next time.
The price for the HOHO bus ($45 pp) I feel is a rip-off as it is one of the worst organised services of it’s kind I have encountered. Half of the bus trip was spent waiting for passengers to fill whatever seats happened to be empty (no standing allowed apparently), having to do this as they negotiated the steps on the double-decker bus without tripping over prams etc which were stored in the aisles and exit off the bus! What a schemozzle!View All 38 City Tour Reviews
Our walk up Mt Manganui was a real experience with great views and birdlife. Unfortunately, the ship arrived at 10 am and the walk was in the heat of the day, so an earlier arrival would make this even better. A fantastic beach here!View All undefined undefined Reviews
We caught the free shuttle into Auckland, and this finishes almost outside the museum. The Terracotta Warriors display was fantastic, but even if that were not showing a visit to this museum would be well worth the effort as it has many interesting and varied exhibits.View All 28 Te Papa Museum Reviews
We toured the old lighthouse, where the experienced tour guides provide an excellent commentary on the history and working of the lighthouse. We also enjoyed the nearby Garden of Tyne bush walk, morning tea at the Brasserie, a visit to the town library, and the town museum. We just love this French styled town in such a unique setting!View All 1 Akaroa Walking Tour Reviews