Generally speaking this cruise was up to, and in some cases better than expectations.
FLIGHTS: Booked with Princess via Travel Agent. No choice of airline offered and took a long time to get confirmation of flights ex UK. British airways economy with it's infamous 31" leg room. Good food and service. Seats comfortable, in-flight entertainment excellent....but oh that leg room!!
ARRIVAL: Not impressed. After 22 hour flight, we had to go looking for Princess agent at airport. Then waited 90 minutes till she had all the group. Taken outside to stand for 30 minutes waiting for the bus. Luggage loaded on bus and not seen again till our cabin. Very good.
EMBARKATION: Large tent that had the atmosphere of a refugee clearance camp. Told we couldn't check in for another 90 minutes. Walked to nearby Darling Harbour, looked around, had coffee, then lunch. Back to ship at 14:00 assuming the rush would be over. It wasn't, due to hiccup with immigration computers. However we had priority boarding and that worked very well.
CABIN: Fabulous. Nicely furnished and wonderful balcony. Steward service, discreet, excellent. All the suite perks worked perfectly. Only slight annoyance was that even though there were 3 of us, only had 2 each of towels, bathrobes, slippers etc. Soon put to rights, but daily fruit and snacks often delivered for 2 people. Captains cocktail party invitations only given to 2 of us, but again soon amended after talking to passenger relations.
FOOD: Service, quantity, variety, all excellent in main dining room. However, the quality was just missing a point. UBD ordered in advance. Superb! Sterling Steakhouse, best steaks ever. Horizon Court, great variety of food for breakfast and lunch. Cafe Corniche, really good Pizza. Can't praise the waiting staff too highly. Friendly, efficient, but not over bearing.
ENTERTAINMENT: Not overly impressed with day-time activities. Evening shows with singers and dancers were most enjoyable, didn't go to 'hypnotist' 'comedian' type shows. Friends who wanted to dance the night away, very disappointed. They said that after midnight it was like walking round the 'Marie Celeste'.
ITINERARY: Excellent range of places for our day stop-offs. Showed the wonderful scenic side to New Zealand, plus some interesting towns/cities.
DIS-EMBARKATION: Beautifully handled. We were called to go ashore and within 5 minutes were in a taxi heading for our Sydney hotel.
Long walk from main lift area for dining rooms and Horizon Court. Nicely furnished, well kept up. Only thing for 3 people, the sofa bed is not overly comfortable and you need to walk through bedroom area to access toilet and bathroom. Balcony was brilliant, loads of space and the views of course are uninterrupted and fabulous. They had a huge plant in the sitting area, we had this removed and small dining table as well, there was another one on the balcony so not needed. Still don't understand why Princess cannot give you an exact photo of this type of cabin, considering there are not that many on each ship. They provide a plan and a photo, then say this may not be exactly what you get. Not helpful.
Off the ship, through the security checks....and you're in the high street!
NZ$10 for return shuttle buses to town. Good service, no queuing.
Not Christchurch due to problems. Docked in AKAROA 80 miles away. Delightful little place. Spent the day walking and checking out the little markets. also spent time on the beach. Reasonable tender service to shore, then few minutes walk to town.