Despite travelling Club Class in an Owners Suite, our experience on the Sun Princess was underwhelming and fell well short of our first cruising experience on the Celebrity Century. Our disappointment commenced when we arrived at Sydney’s Overseas Passenger Terminal to see the ship covered in rust. Seems Princess are using old images in their marketing material or photoshopping the iron oxide – they were busy painting the forward hull with rollers when in port at Hobart. EMBARKATION was efficient, but disappointed we were instructed to board after 2pm. One bag went missing and contents was damaged when it eventually arrived - my complaint, which should have been quickly resolved, never was. While dated, the CAPRI SUITE was spacious and reasonably well-maintained, though the saggy lounge needs replacing, the weathered balcony furniture requires attention and being aft, the cabin was noisy with ceiling light/panels shaking. SIGNATURE DINING was a disaster with Curtis Stone’s Share being positioned in a public thoroughfare with our window table vista view to lifeboats! Never bothered with Sterling Steakhouse which was a cafeteria by day that converted to “Signature Dining” at night. And same for Kai Seafood which was generally unoccupied apart from the crew. Horizons provided a bland buffet and Terrace Grill was tasteless. The standout was Club Class Anytime Dining in the Regency Dining Room with warm/attentive service, good food/wine menu and pleasant surroundings. Our personalised balcony dinner was enjoyable, but lacked 5-star touches. The ITINERARY was excellent and we enjoyed our self-guided tour experiences at Burnie, Port Arthur and Hobart. The onboard organised excursions were very expensive, targeted at international passengers who would have done better to explore themselves or organise tours onshore. As for the ENTERTAINMENT, if you like serviette folding courses, wrinkle removal lessons or late-night karaoke, this cruise is for you. We saw two shows in the Princess Theatre which were short and mainstream. Movies under the Stars was a nice touch, but cold on deck.Other venues were very quiet at night – you could have thrown a dart in the Legends Sports Bar at night and not hit anyone! As for the ONBOARD experience, the Princess shops were expensive (as expected), photography rushed and disappointing and I find it sad that the art gallery could not showcase some Australian artists on domestic journeys. So, while we enjoyed our short break, we didn’t “come back new” and we didn’t fall in love and find our forever cruise line which is a shame, because we’d like to do lots more cruising as we embark on retirement. Princess certainly lacked the special touches we enjoyed on Celebrity such as a Club Class concierge, dinner at the Captain’s table, visit to the bridge, visit to the engine room, cooking class with the chef and real Signature Restaurants to name a few. And on DISEMBARKATION, we received a warmer welcome from the Sydney Port Authority staff at the White Bay Cruise Terminal than the Sun Princess crew who appeared to be more interested in preparing for their next guests … we won’t be one.
The Capri Owners Suite C746 on the Caribe Deck 9 was spacious with an entry foyer, lounge room & bar, bedroom with queen bed, walk-in-robe, bathroom with spa bath, separate toilet, extensive storage, 2 LCD televisions and a large balcony with table for four and two deck loungers. While the décor was dated, it was comfortable, clean and reasonably well-maintained, however the sagging lounge suite is overdue for replacement, as is the weathered balcony furniture. Being at the ship’s rear the views are expansive, however it was particularly noisy with the light fittings in the ceiling panels shaking at times.
So much to see ... started at the beautiful Botanic Gardens (too many highlights, but don't miss Pete's Patch - home of ABC TV's Gardening Australia); strolled past Government House; viewed ruins of the Hobart Zoo (where the last thylacine [Tasmanian Tiger] died in 1936); meandered through the city's plentiful parks and commercial centre before enjoying lunch at Salamanca.
Wonderful town with rich history! Our self-guided, no-cost tour was easy to navigate and included Visitor Information Centre & Makers Workshop (great for artistic souvenirs); beautiful Burnie Park (with majestic waterfall and rose garden); Regional Art Gallery (impressive photographic display) and the Regional Museum (an absolute must-see with authentically recreated 1900 street scene). All topped off with a sensational seafood pizza and glass of wine at Mecca in the wonderful old Burnie Hotel.
Perfectly preserved to explore at your own pace without the need to join an organised tour. Weather can be changeable, so be prepared.