This cruise was booked through an Australian travel agency well ahead of departure time, approximately 12 months prior to sailing. The anticipation of this cruise was unbearable. Our Roll Call for this cruise was one of the most informative and best that I have seen on the Internet.
The embarkation arrangements at Sydney were pathetic, with boarding time from arrival to actual embarkation of approximately 3.5 hours, all standing in a long line that never seemed to end. Princess either needs to complain to the immigration service and customs people, or hire extra staff to deal with such a large ship. Not only that, there were no Princess staff to be seen anywhere to tell passengers where to put luggage and where to line up.
However saying all this negative, the rest of the cruise was fantastic. We had freedom dining, and enjoyed eating at all the different locations. BEWARE of SABATINI'S!! unless you can stomach so much food that it is ok to be force fed 10 courses!!!!!! The food was excellent along with the service and well worth the extra $20 per head, however the amount of food is OVERWHELMING!!
Our accommodation was fine. If you are going to have a balcony cabin, make sure that you get a cabin on C deck as the balconies are much bigger than those on Lido, Aloha and Baja. We looked at a minisuite and found them to be good -- ample sitting area and a decent sized balcony (beware -- they are exposed to all other decks, and people can look down on you).
Room steward was excellent, always doing the job well and with flare. The waiters were also good at what they did, and we have noticed since our last Princess Cruise (a very long time ago!!) that the service levels have improved.
Drink prices were good, if you have kids or like soda, purchase the soda card, this was an excellent value and well worth it. The cocktails were also reasonably priced and the C.O.D was always good.
Entertainment was also of a good standard, although only went to one Broadway show. It was standard cruise entertainment. However we enjoyed the pianist and the quiz type shows (not our normal thing, but our friends made us participate, for which we are grateful).
Ports of call were good, but the Princess tours are a rip off. Much better to do it yourself unless it is impossible to do otherwise. Tours were really up to 3 times more expensive than getting a taxi to take you around.
We made excellent friends and have booked for the Diamond Princess on the Christmas cruise departing from Singapore this year.