Firstly my trip got off to a disappointing start. The airline lost my luggage which meant I was stuck in a sundress for 3 days until the next port. The staff in the shop were extremely unhelpful and rude. They had very few sizes on display and when I made inquiries basically waived their hands at unpacked cartons and said "we may or may not have something, you'll have to wait until we unpack". No offer to at least look in one or two boxes. When asked how long until they unpack, I was told 1 to 2 days!! Needless to say I brought nothing in the "fashion shop" this cruise.
The staff at the services desk were more sympathetic and did at least arrange a toiletries bag and promised to chase up with the airlines to ensure a smooth delivery of my bag... This obviously didn't happen as I had a distressed courier call me at 745 am ( we were not allowed off ship until 0800) saying no one was there to sign for my case and so he would return it to his depo.. Long story short, no communication between Princess and Airline ( and Visa versa) but I eventually received my bag later that afternoon.
Embarkation was very easy. Our mini suite was great, roomy enough for the four of us, though very hot overnight. And our room attendant lovely and attentive as usual
Our first time in a mini suite and we loved it. We had four people. My parents in queen bed and my son and I in bunks ( couch makes a bed and top bunk pulls down from ceiling) It was not too far from lifts and not noisy at all.
We caught the shuttle into the city and did a little shopping
Darwin. We caught a Taxi to the War museum which was very interesting with lots of war relics and a video about the bombing.
Though we should of lined up and got hop on hop off tickets as despite the website that says they dont go to the war museum in the mornings ( which was our plan) they make exceptions when cruise ships are in and do all stops all day.)
We then went to the Crocosaurous Cove in the city. This is a mini zoo run by a croc farm. It has lots of crocs in small cages so a bit distressing for animal lovers. But then the crocs don't seem too worried they all look well fed and the keepers seem well informed. For $$ you can be submerged in a perspex tube for a closer look. We saw a mad Englishman do this. Mostly the croodiles looked bored, but they ply them with chicken on strings so you get a few nifty photos of crocodiles jumping around. Included in entry you get to wave bits of chicken at the tiny youngsters which my son enjoyed. After this we visited an art gallery, chatted to few local indigenous artists and brought a painting, Not the galery in the mall but upstairs not far from Mac Donald's. We then wandered down through the mall back to the ship. We had intended visiting the War tunnels which are 5 minutes walk from the ship but they are only open until 1pm. Instead we walked to the other side of the dock (about 1.5km from the ship) to the Flying Doctors Museum. We were very glad we made the effort despite the afternoon heat nad humidity. A great (better then war museum) bombing interactive experience and an old plane you can climb around in amnd lots of information regarding the flying docotors history in Australia. 10 year old loved it!
Kaohsiung Taiwan. We did the Princess tour of Fo Guang Shan Monastery and then to Lotus Pond. This was a great tour. The guide was lovely though a little fast for some of the less mobile older people, but she found shuttle rides for them and we managed. The lunch was a lovely vegetarian meal. My only suggestion for this tour would be less time at the Monastery and more at the Lotus pond area as there was so much to see. If I went again I would just taxi to the pond, though make sure you get directions written down as English is not common. We spoke with people in the ship that managed to secure a taxi driver for the day and had a great time. Others took the shuttle to the city and enjoyed the shopping. I'd definitely like to go back someday.