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62 Princess Auckland Cruise Reviews

Diamond Princess January 22nd-February 3, 2015 I am a Platinum cruiser, and this is my 5th voyage on the Diamond, 3rd time this trip, and last time was 2012. Diamond Princess has had a recent $30 Million refit, now aged 11 years old. She ... Read More
Diamond Princess January 22nd-February 3, 2015 I am a Platinum cruiser, and this is my 5th voyage on the Diamond, 3rd time this trip, and last time was 2012. Diamond Princess has had a recent $30 Million refit, now aged 11 years old. She remains our favorite ship, in excellent condition, the food and entertainment still of a consistent and good standard. Firm recommendation to anyone wanting a good quality, big ship cruise experience. My critique, is based on my many cruises and any criticism is aimed only at seeking improvement Embarkation Ship boarded at Auckland. Received excellent boarding service assisted by being allocated the “preferred line” as a Platinum member, and getting there early! The ship in general The Diamond Princess is a lovely large ship, sister to the Sapphire which we have also sailed on. Diamond was launched in 2004, and remains in excellent shape. The refit in late 2014, added a Sushi specialty Restaurant, unfortunately charging al-a-carte prices, a large Japanese Bath house, and minor changes to the Buffet restaurant .116, 000 tons, 2700 passengers and 1200 crew. Some people aboard found the size of the ship a little overwhelming and they thought a smaller ship would be more to their liking. We can understand that but we like the larger ships with more people and facilities and choices on board. Although there were approximately 2700 passengers on board we never felt crowded. Used the Gym fitness machines each day, great to see Princess unlike Celebrity Solstice do not drown you out with music in the Gym and I also had flutter on the Casino, which offers plenty of options for those who enjoy the gambling opportunity. The Gym did not open until 7am, and I believe it should be open from 6am. Exercise before eating makes sense. An irritation and also unsafe practice, was children under 16 were allowed to use the Gym, supervised by parents. What is supervision, I saw a couple of mishaps with 5-8 yrs. olds, and kids under 16 should not be allowed in the Gym, with powerful machinery etc. Change your policy Princess, someone is going to get hurt in that environment and the Gym is not a playground. Waiting for an 8 year old to finish the treadmill, while Mum talks down the other end of the Gym is poor customer service, and I saw two tumbles from the cross trainer during this cruise by kids, one which looked quite serious e.g. bloody nose and a bruise Princess cruises add a USD 11.50 a day per person amount to your bill and that covers your tipping for the total cruise. This is done so that people employed on the ship who are not in direct contact with the ship can also receive something. If you don’t like this idea you can negotiate with the Pursers office to have the amount reduced if you wish, and envelopes for tips are available. If you are using several appliances in your cabin at the one time it might be an idea to bring an adaptor board, as there is only one general plug. This is a USA type plug so if you are coming from another country you will need to bring an adaptor. We were extremely impressed with Sky Walkers nightclub and daytime lounge, which is situated at the back of the ship 18 floors up. At night-time it is a disco after 10.30pm and during the daytime is a restful area for reading and just watching the sea. On days when the sea is rolling you can sit on the side wing and look right down the left side of the ship to the Bridge and notice the pitching motion of the ship. The chairs in sky walkers are extremely comfortable. During the daytime you can always get a seat there for reading or quiet time. The other bars and public seating areas of the Diamond were excellent, roomy and stylish. Excellent Piano playing throughout and a string quartet of females were pleasant on the eye and played great music. The library on board is too small, with the Internet facilities spilling over into the library, limiting seating. A Reasonable range of books available. The Internet café is roomy and is taking over space previously for library users. Both are needed, and the balance between books and computers needs review. As mentioned the internet café is large with lots of computers. We never had to wait to get on a machine, you pay but not unreasonable prices Floor shows in the evening, and specifically the Dance Company and singers was excellent. They did 4 presentations, equal to Conrad Jupiter’s stage show levels. The support entertainers covered a wide range from Sinatra crooner type, to Dolly Parton Remembrance show. Overall the formal and stage entertainment was of good quality, all part of your travel package Solid range of late release movies shown on upper deck or available in room. Good work here Princess, my wife watched more than a few while reclining in the cabin. Good range and up to date selection. I missed on this 12 night cruise, the formal history or geographic lectures of the past, but the live commentary on the Sounds, while cruising the Fiords, was world class Excellent range of cooking demonstrations, wine tastings excellent range of choices every day, including the usual bingo, table tennis, bridge games. Art shows were very visual. Soft freeze cone ice-cream available at no cost, a nice touch. The weather conditions throughout were favorable and no rough days at all. However motion sickness is a real issue on NZ/Aussie cruises. This can be addressed by planning e.g. good range of patches/tablets if one is prone. The reality is cruises in this part of the world are not calm, e.g. Pacific Princess 2004 we had two days of Force 6/7 seas, and reasonable sea motion is a reality in this part of the world. Dining Traditional 1st or second sitting evening dining room sitting versus anytime dining are great options. We prefer anytime dining, and there were 4 choices plus the 24 hour buffet, plus the open-air Trident grill and Pizza bar. We dined most days buffet breakfast in the Horizon, often had lunch in the traditional dining room (not available in the evening for anytime diners) and then at night, in one of the 4 anytime restaurants. Menu in each is the same as traditional dining restaurant, but we liked the change of waiters, décor and loved being able to eat anytime in the evening between 5.30pm and 10pm. If you had not booked, there was sometimes a small wait, but no great problem. Two specialist restaurants available. Sterling (steak) restaurant with $25 surcharge per person was not great value, but the specialist Italian restaurant at $25 surcharge per person was excellent. The new Sushi restaurant had great décor, but having to pay al-carte-prices, needs addressing If you are on 1st or 2nd sitting dining you must dine in the International dining room although you can book into the 4 Anytime dining rooms ( 24 hrs. change notice)if you wish for a change. If you are on anytime dining you can only go into the 4 specialist dining rooms and not the International dining room in the evening. addition The buffet at Horizon Court on deck 14 was good value, the new dessert and Asian option component done as part of the refit, adding a new dimension to this dining facility. Everything seemed fresh, lots of choice and we thought the food tasted fine. Open most hours was great. Service was good tea, and their breakfast buffet top class A nice touch was English High tea served by waiters in white gloves 3.30-4pm served daily in the Pacific Moon dining room. Room Service Available 24 hours at no charge limited menu but pleasant. Our cabin We had an inside stateroom on the 11h level.B202. Very pleasant. We made the decision not to have a balcony cabin, Apart from saving money, cruises in this part of the world are often affected by weather, rain or wind, and that limits use of the balcony. In Europe a must, but not this part of the world. The design of the cabin made good use of mirrors to enhance the feeling of light and maximize space. The open space wardrobes without doors provided plenty of hanging and excellent storage space for our requirements. The room configuration made it seem very spacious. Our main cases fitted side by side quite comfortably. Bedside lights have dimmer switches. Soaps and towels were changed twice a day. Bathroom shower pressure excellent. There is a safe in every room and our cabin had a fridge. Outside your door on the side is a letterbox with your cabin number on it so that the any newsletters or other information can be left for you. If you wish to drink bottled wines in your cabin Princess seem to have no problems with you purchasing wines or champagne and bringing them on board at embarkation (Small print says 2 bottles). You can take these wines into the dining room but you will be charged an USD15.00 corkage fee. They charge for spring water in your cabin so we always take a water bottle with us and go up to Horizon Court and fill the bottle up with fresh water from there. A minor complaint was we could hear voice transfer from Cabin B206 next door. Not impossible but a nuisance PORTS OF CALL Mt Maunganui, Akaroa and Port Chalmers were the NZ Ports. Due to our local knowledge and pat cruising did no NZ shore excursions? The Mount Maunganui mooring was right at the town centre, so walked off and explored this lovely seaside town and I walked the hill. At Akaroa I walked around the lovely Town. Port Chalmers was a great sunny day, and I discovered a local lookout and a great church, both which overlooked the moored Diamond Princess, and I found a couple of the village antique shops interesting. No stress here. Shore excursions are great and there was plenty of choice for those aboard. They are time consuming and you pay a surcharge for everything being done for you, but Princess does it well. FIORDLAND The 12 nights Diamond Princess cruise- weather permitting cruises through the Fiords. We struck a lovely day and entered Milford Sound early in the morning. Magnificent. Then visited Thompson and Doubtful Sound. We had lovely weather on this day, A magnificent part of the world, and the trip was worth it for this magic day alone. MELBOURNE The ship docks at Station Pier the port for Melbourne, which is a little way out of town. Again you have a choice of doing your own thing or taking tours. If you want to travel around on your own there is plenty to do. We would suggest you get off the ship and walk to the end of the pier near where the tram stop is. Purchase a metro pass costing AUD 6.50 per person, which allows you unlimited travel on the buses, trams and trains around Melbourne for the whole day. It will take you about 20 minutes to travel into the centre of Melbourne on tram 109. On your return to ship look again for tram 109 to Port Melbourne. About 2 stops before reaching the Collins Street - Elizabeth Street stop which is in the centre of the city you must get off the tram and go to the top of the Rialto tower for a great orientation view of Melbourne. You then must visit the famous Victoria markets about 3 stops from the centre of the city. Melbourne is a city of Parks and Gardens so a walk through Fitzroy Gardens is a must. St Kilda to the south a busy café scene is worth a look as is Lygon Street to the north a mecca for restaurants and the café society. We are very familiar with Melbourne, so this time Shirl took the Tram and went shopping, and I walked to St Kilda and back. HOBART Arrival in Hobart is at Constitution Dock about 10 minutes’ walk to the centre of town past the docks where the Sydney to Hobart yachts arrive. Again there are very good tours of the city and surrounds arranged by Princess. I visited the Tasmanian Museum. Good! Disembarkation Getting off the ship at Sydney was well organized and no issue We thoroughly enjoyed the Diamond Princess, rated by Berlitz Guide to Cruising 20015 in the top 20h best Large Cruise ship. Princess offers great all round value. A good product. Read Less
Sail Date January 2015
The meet and greet at the airport was excellent. Transfer to the ship was excellent with the driver being very courteous. Upon arrival at embarkation we were shown directly to the counter to check-in. Because we had a transfer, our bags ... Read More
The meet and greet at the airport was excellent. Transfer to the ship was excellent with the driver being very courteous. Upon arrival at embarkation we were shown directly to the counter to check-in. Because we had a transfer, our bags were taken directly to our stateroom although a little late. The cabin tags had obviously been ripped off and the staff did not know what stateroom we were in. It was only by chance that we noticed our bags sitting in a staff area on our level that we got our suitcases delivered to our room. Maybe Princess needs to find some other way of tagging bags, except by having to staple the tags onto your suitcases etc. Maybe a plastic tag where you can then write your cabin number that can then be attached to the bag. Overall check-in was smooth. All staff oat embarkation were courteous and efficient. The cabin D326, was spotlessly clean with plenty of hangers to hang clothes. The bathroom was spotless. The sliding doors to the balcony could have been cleaned. Overall cabin experience was excellent, Subin, our cabin steward was always helpful and polite. Thoroughly recommend him. The public areas of the ship were spotless. All staff were friendly and efficient. The only thing that disappointed us was the Horizon Court dining area. Plastic (melamine) cups and plates and bowls. These have to be washed just like china, can't see why china wasn't used. Food was good but not outstanding. The bread and rolls were so nice, could easily get hooked on them. Afternoon tea in the Pacific Moon was excellent - try their scones, yummmm. The overall food dining experience in the any time dining was OK. But all restaurants, apart from the specialty restaurants, were all the same. Not quite sure why the restaurants are given different names, Santa Fe, Savoy, Pacific Moon, Vivaldis, when they serves exactly the same food. It would be nice if they had one or two difference specialities each night in each restaurant. We dined in Sabatinis which was excellent. The food was very, very good. We also splashed out and booked the Chef's Table, to celebrate a birthday, and this was well worth the money. To see behind the scenes and then be served this amazing food from the Chef and great wines from the Maitre D was outstanding. Would do this again if we travelled on Princess. The Japanese bath house was very relaxing. the Lotus Spa, I would give a wide berth to. It is so overrated for the prices they charge. I had to halt my massage as I felt that the girls seemed very disinterested or gave the feeling that she was learning. Having massages on a frequent basis at home, I know when I am getting a good massage. This was appalling. At one stage the girl was leaning on the wall with her foot on the bath. After ceasing the massage after 15 minutes I was to find out that she was or had not been well. I refused to pay for the massage. I was offered an alternative the next day with an extra 15 minutes but it left a very bad feeling, so I refused. The pool areas were always clean and plenty of staff. The only thing I thought was very dangerous was glass bottles of beer being allowed into the spa baths. Not just a one off but quite frequent. Not a good habit to get into and staff should not allow this. Entertainment was a bit staid and we only went to two cabarets on the 12 nights. I really think they need to look at this. The daily activities were OK, we enjoyed the trivia games. The piano bars were the best places to be. We were quite happy just relaxing by the pool and going to the Skywalkers bar for a place to hide away from people, although you would not think there were over 2000 people on board. Overall we thoroughly enjoyed the Diamond Princess and would happily go on another cruise with them. Read Less
Sail Date January 2015
We celebrated her 10th anniversary on this cruise and we found her in great shape except for the really bad beds. As always the food was terrific, staff were excellent and itinerary incredible. Warren Smith is a wonderful cruise director ... Read More
We celebrated her 10th anniversary on this cruise and we found her in great shape except for the really bad beds. As always the food was terrific, staff were excellent and itinerary incredible. Warren Smith is a wonderful cruise director and the activities were well planned and well attended. Even the seven sea days between Perth and Thailand seemed to pass way too fast. My friend and I were two of only 120 Americans among mainly Australians, who as always are great fun to travel with. She is now in dry dock in Singapore undergoing major renovations and I hope they are replacing the worn out mattresses while they install a Japanese style bath house and Sushi/Thai specialty restaurant!! Our next cruise will be on the new Regal and we are looking forward to sailing on a new ship. Read Less
Sail Date February 2014
We did the back to back Auckland-Sydney- Auckland cruise.It was the best cruise we have done [finally made it to elite on the 2nd leg,which helped & our 1st time in a balcony cabin,which made a huge difference].Before we boarded we ... Read More
We did the back to back Auckland-Sydney- Auckland cruise.It was the best cruise we have done [finally made it to elite on the 2nd leg,which helped & our 1st time in a balcony cabin,which made a huge difference].Before we boarded we were sent a couple of emails warning us of a delay in sailing due to a norovirus outbreak on the previous cruise.That turned out to be good news as there was little sickness on both the cruises we did. Embarcation was the quickest we have encountered todate [they must be getting the hang of things].The cabin was spacious,well layed out & in a great position on the ship.  great location,pretty quiet,except in real rough weather when the sliding door & walls of the cabin creak quite a bit.A spacious cabin although I don't know how large size passengers get on in the very small shower cubicles [they are the same throughout the ship].Would definitely take this cabin again. All of the crew were very friendly,helpful & seemed happy.Our 1st port of call was Tauranga where we encountered the windiest I can remember for this port,it was so bad the ship could not pull away from its berth,so we stayed until 3am & therefore missed out on the next port [Akaroa],the sea was a bit rough [so other passengers told us],but the cabin location meant we did not feel it that bad. Other than that it was smooth sailing,the shows on board were so so,although the Freddie Mercury impersonator was really good [& he was a kiwi to boot],certainly got the crowd involved.The disembarkation at the end was even quicker than when we boarded,so all in all a great holiday. Read Less
Sail Date January 2014
My husband and I had an amazing vacation on the Diamond Princes. A week or so before our cruise, we were notified that the Norovirus had struck about 60 passengers on the ship and that a full cleaning of the ship would take place before we ... Read More
My husband and I had an amazing vacation on the Diamond Princes. A week or so before our cruise, we were notified that the Norovirus had struck about 60 passengers on the ship and that a full cleaning of the ship would take place before we embarked. That was probably a blessing, as when we embarked, we were impressed on how many "Prell" dispensers were around and as our vacation began, we were happy to see that the crew was dishing out our meals at the buffet. Great start to solving the spread of disease. Good prevention measure. Prell dispenses for everyone to use as plates and silverware were handed to us individually by a crew member. I will not go into great detail as to our everyday activities, as cruising to us is the ideal vacation, and we take advantage of all the ship has to offer. We met some wonderful people. We were treated with the utmost respect and kindness by every single crew member, and were given updates as needed as far as time, weather, ports, etc. One of the things that really impressed us was the decision the Captain made to avoid a storm at sea and as a result, we missed a port, but in the end, we sailed with the least impact from the storm as possible. Even traveling 150 miles north of the storm, we had 27 foot swells, so we could only imagine had we hit the storm head on. I did feel ill after dinner, but never actually got sick. People all around were so helpful and suggested we call Medical. We did and the came to our room immediately. Turned out I was suffering from Vertigo, and lying down took care of it all. But the response was amazing and I greatly appreciated it. The big screen TV on deck was one of my favorite things, as well as the Casino. We enjoyed Bingo, but I was a bit disappointed when the next number that would have been called had not someone won the $2200 jackpot would have been mine, and the fact that my husband lost a $500 tournament by one chip, but the fun of the games and the entertainment by the crew was wonderful. The atrium entertainment was relaxing and we loved every minute we spent there. Of course, pictures and internet are there to make money, however, I think they were a bit overpriced. I believe that lower the price, sell more, make more, but that is just our opinion. All in all, we were thrilled with our vacation, with the activities on the Diamond Princess, the food was sensational, the service divine and we would not hesitate to book with Princess for our next cruise. Our room steward was the kinds, friendlies young man and showed concern when I was not feeling well. He was so pleasant and the room was kept spotless all the time thanks to him. Read Less
Sail Date January 2014
The reason I chose the diamond princess was so I could escape all the madness that surrounds Christmas . So husband and three adult children set of and what a wonderful time it was. No worries about what to eat on Christmas Day, who's ... Read More
The reason I chose the diamond princess was so I could escape all the madness that surrounds Christmas . So husband and three adult children set of and what a wonderful time it was. No worries about what to eat on Christmas Day, who's house to go to, who to invite, who not to offend. The most relaxing and enjoyable Christmas for a long time. Food is in abundant, shows entertainment and organised activities are plenty, but also time to relax as much as you want also. The cruise staff are a pleasure to watch in action and certainly make you feel special . Nothing is too much trouble for the wait staff and again they are in abundance . recommend this cruise for anyone with children as again they have young clubs on there and all day activities. Most of the children on board were well behaved some got a little bit loud at times. The best thing was having no internet connection so everyone you met on decks did not have their face in a phone so had to make conversation with you and look you in the eye. Recommend to anyone.   Read Less
Sail Date December 2013
I have just got off the Diamond for the third time in 10 years . In nearly 40 days at sea , I have never had anything except wonderful service and a fantastic time aboard . The ship is going in for a refit in march and I can see that there ... Read More
I have just got off the Diamond for the third time in 10 years . In nearly 40 days at sea , I have never had anything except wonderful service and a fantastic time aboard . The ship is going in for a refit in march and I can see that there are parts that have deteriorated over time , as you would expect , but that dosn't detract from the reason that you go on a cruise , to enjoy yourself . The food was great ( i am so over eating ) the staff were exeptional and the fellow passengers were wonderful . We cruised from Auckland to Sydney with 5 port days as well as a day cruising the sounds in southern New Zealand which were very similar to what we saw in Alaska , but with better weather . We had Christmas day and New years day on board and loved every minute of it . The ship was decorated throughout and everyone was in a great mood . Honestly , some people are never satisfied .If you are going to complain about this voyage then you are either very thin skined or need to spend more money on a luxury ship . This is a 5 star vessel and lives up to it's reputation in every way . One thing I didn't know when boarding is that the casino now gives out points that build up into cash refunds on your next cruise . It was nice to get a letter before disembarking to discover that my wife and I can recive over $ 600 in cash on our next cruise ! This will go a long way to pay for our spending . Anyway , it was fantastic , and the ship is to be recomended . Read Less
Sail Date December 2013
Being in the travel industry, I've become a "cruise ship snob." It takes alot to impress me these days as many ships and lines cut corners. Not the Diamond Princess. She is amazing. Quite large, but never felt very big. The ... Read More
Being in the travel industry, I've become a "cruise ship snob." It takes alot to impress me these days as many ships and lines cut corners. Not the Diamond Princess. She is amazing. Quite large, but never felt very big. The any time dining restaurants were the best I've seen. Four choices, all having a different theme. We met for an amazing meet and greet prior to boarding and just hung out with amazing people throughout the cruise. New Years eve in the high seas was my dream.....watching 25,000 balloons drop at midnight was spectacular. The ship was clearly incredible, but the ports were more so....Sydney soon became my favorite city. I can't wait to return to different parts of Australia and see the Diamond again. The shows were mediocre, but the food was good.......You go on this venture for the pure experience of the Aussie and Kiwi culture....Didn't disappoint. Read Less
Sail Date December 2013
We took this cruise as we had not sailed on "Diamond" before, and it started in our home town of Auckland; 20 minute drive over the bridge beats all day flying to Australia ! Embarkation ; at Princes Wharf was quick and easy, ... Read More
We took this cruise as we had not sailed on "Diamond" before, and it started in our home town of Auckland; 20 minute drive over the bridge beats all day flying to Australia ! Embarkation ; at Princes Wharf was quick and easy, probably the best of any port we have struck, and our bags were in our room within an hour of boarding. We were surprised at the low number of NZ passengers ( around 300 ) but very pleased with the large number from USA, Asia, and Europe including even Russia, who had travelled specially to see New Zealand. And met some lovely people too Accommodation; Our cabin , C303,was excellent ; our agent had found a wheelchair accessible cabin was available ( at the same price ) and we took that, super extra space and especially the bathroom, flat and huge. Also the balcony was extra big ; Caribe deck has the best balconies, Dolphin ( mini suites ) are out in the open and can be fully seen from above; Caribe is half open but twice the size of Aloha and Baja. Our steward was a bit hit and miss, we found our room one night at 9 p.m. had still not been serviced, but after complaints to housekeeping it was rectified. He was very pleasant but needed a bit of "nudging". We were impressed that a cabin steward a bit further along greeted us on arrival like long lost friends, we had struck him on another ship but he not actually been our steward; sums up the attitude of the Princess staff, all very cheerful and well trained. Dining; in some ways exemplary but at times lost the plot a bit ;the Horizon Court buffet was not up to previous ships standards, particularly at lunch when quite a bit of the food looked decidedly recycled from the night before. But plenty of seating in several areas. We selected Any Time dining for dinner, ( not available on Sun or Dawn) and found it worked very well for us, a simple reservation phone call before 4.30 p.m.. and you were seated immediately. We stuck to the "Pacific Moon" dining room as we found the waiters excellent, and by the second week the head waiter was letting us pick our own table to fit in with the best servers. Food was generally very good, with just the odd hiccup, but a lot of really nice meals. We ate at "Sabatini's " one night and that was excellent, we were celebrating our 53rd wedding anniversary and they pulled out all the stops, well worth the surcharge. Entertainment ; again, being so used to the same old, same old entertainers and shows on "Sun "and " Dawn" , the entertainment came as a pleasant improvement. The 5 production shows ( with one exception) were all new to us and very well staged; the bigger stage and facilities made a huge difference. We also had several other individual acts, especially Paul Adams, one of the best comedians we have struck on a ship. Other entertainment around included Sammy Goldstein nightly in the Crooners Bar, and all sorts of other activities, some of which we had to miss with so many port days. Overall, a good selection. Public rooms on this ship were all excellent and well suited to the various purposes they were used for , even though at times the choice of venue was a bit of a mystery ! Cruise director Brett Siborne was excellent with good back up staff. Port calls; we did not take any of the ships excursions, we generally only do that in a port that is new to us, as they are so expensive. Tauranga ; took the shuttle bus into town which was a bit dear at $15; and could probably have been just as well off walking around the Mount, but pleasant enough, a glorious day for weather. Picton; took a "Bubbly Grape " wine tour and had a fabulous day out with a group of 8 from the ship, all privately organised and worth every penny. Highly recommended. We were also very impressed that the ladies of the town had made up fresh flower buttonholes for everyone getting off the ship, a lovely touch to promote their port. Wellington; took the shuttle into town, which was not too bad at $10. A bit too far from Aotea Quay for us to walk. We wandered the beautifully updated and presented waterfront, and visited Te Papa museum which was not there when we lived in Wellington in the 1960s. Again highly recommended and we were impressed by the city as a whole. Akaroa ; anchorage port but no problem getting ashore with the ships tenders ( it does help having the black card ! ) . We took an all day tour into Christchurch, Sumner and Lyttelton port, and had a good look at the earthquake damage plus other sights and found it a worthwhile day. Dunedin; we had arranged a day out through Headfirst Travel, who picked us up from the port and took us into Dunedin Railway Station where we got on board the Taeri Gorge train; a really lovely and interesting 5 hour train ride in vintage carriages, and at less than 50% of the ships excursion. We came back into Dunedin and did the Cadbury World factory tour which was OK but rather annoyed us with its over the top health and safety regs., and 160 steps; and back to the ship in a private van as Headfirst had forgotten to pick us up after the Cadbury Tour, but sent a van for us after a phone call; back on board in time after an excellent day. Fiordland Sounds; the only cloudy day of the whole cruise, but with it flat calm conditions and a really excellent day's viewing, starting at Dusky Sound , then into Doubtful and Thompson's , and finally Milford Sound. Very close up in lots of places, and again well worthwhile. A very good commentary from the Head Park Ranger who was on board, supplemented by Captain Dino Sagani, who did a great job ( and is going to the new "Royal Princess ' in July. ) Hobart ; we walked into town and took the hop on hop off double decker bus tour; we were impressed with the very large number of vintage cottage and buildings right through the city, and all so well presented. A very nice city, and again the most beautiful weather. Melbourne ; from Station Pier took the shuttle bus into town, which terminates at the Art Centre on South Yarra, a bit out of the main CBD; but pleasant enough; we then took the free City Tram circle tour, a bit crowded with the ships people., and after a bit of retail therapy, back to the ship by the 109 tram, packed to the gunwales and standing room only and quite a long way ; but made it OK. Then into Sydney where disembarkation was a breeze( we had been processed by Customs between NZ and Hobart in another well arranged manner) and simply walked off in our own time to get a taxi to our daughter's. All in all a very satisfying experience , the beautiful weather through-out was a plus of course, but we loved the ship, as so many have said, never crowded, just a great cruise,which took us back to many new Zealand places we had not been to for a long time.. Would definitely use this ship again when she gets back into NZ waters. Read Less
Sail Date February 2013
We arrived in Auckland a couple of days prior to the cruise. Caught the airport bus into town which dropped us off about a block from the Crowne Plaza, which was a 10 minute walk from the pier. We spent the two days recovering from the ... Read More
We arrived in Auckland a couple of days prior to the cruise. Caught the airport bus into town which dropped us off about a block from the Crowne Plaza, which was a 10 minute walk from the pier. We spent the two days recovering from the flight, touring around Auckland and eating some good fish and chips and mussels. Boarded the ship around 2 o'clock without a problem. We chose the 6 o'clock seating and were placed with 3 other delightful couples. We ate all our evening meals in the dining room. The service and both quantity and quality of food, and the presentation, were more than adequate, probably just short of excellent. The entertainment was what one would expect, with a couple of excellent comics and adequate singers and dancers. The Cruise staff was engaging, especially the cruise director, who was everywhere. We had an inside cabin up high. It was roomy enough and the steward kept it spic and span. If I had any complaints at all, it was the fact that the fitness center was too small and had a poor mix of machines. Only 2 stationary bikes in use all the time and 6 or 8 stair steppers never in use. And secondly, the coffee bar had no sugar free syrups for the Mocha or Latte for those of us on restricted diets. Other than these minor irritants, the experience was enjoyable. The itinerary was obviously the high point of the cruise. We matched up with other couples we met on cruise critic for private tours at all the stops except Wellington and Melbourne which we did on our own. The highlights were the geothermal formations at Tauranga, the Mail Run in Akaroa and the Wildlife Sanctuary at Hobart. It was a good time. Read Less
Sail Date January 2013
This was our sixth cruise with Princess, and the experience was as usual: very good, but not quite excellent. I'll comment on the things that struck me as perhaps useful to others. Embarcation and departure were a snap, aided by ... Read More
This was our sixth cruise with Princess, and the experience was as usual: very good, but not quite excellent. I'll comment on the things that struck me as perhaps useful to others. Embarcation and departure were a snap, aided by our platinum status. We had stayed at The Sebel in Auckland (recommended -- an easy walk to the pier if your suitcases have wheels). We were in C103 (Caribe deck). This is at the bow and is actually a balcony at an ocean view rate -- the reason being that the balcony is locked for understandable reasons when the ship is underway. Since it is at the bow, the ship's movement is more noticeable, but that was fine with us. It also means rather long walks to get to the rest of the ship, but that is also fine with us -- one needs the exercise. I'd recommend the location, assuming the motion will not bother you. We chose any time dining, which works well for us. The food was good. I usually order fish for the main course, and am usually somewhat disappointed. That's understandable -- fish is less forgiving in preparation, and it's hard to prepare well on the scale required. I'm always an optimist -- and am usually not as happy as I'd hoped to be. Mind you, the fish was OK -- but not great. The cold soups and pastas, on the other hand, are usually excellent. The staff is uniformly pleasant (must be a challenge to be so cheerful so consistently). Read Less
Sail Date December 2012
Our family enjoys cruising on Princess, this was our fourth voyage and it took us to a part of the world we'd never seen: New Zealand and Australia. There were six of us on this trip, no kids. The service, particularly in the ... Read More
Our family enjoys cruising on Princess, this was our fourth voyage and it took us to a part of the world we'd never seen: New Zealand and Australia. There were six of us on this trip, no kids. The service, particularly in the Lido deck, was among the best we've ever had. The room was kept clean and tidy, the steward was quick to respond to every request. Embarkation and Disembarkation Brilliant! Our trip started and ended on a high note. We had no delays getting on or off the ship. We didn't have to sit once (in the past we've been parked for 15 minutes to a half hour.) The processing went smoothly, the folks processing our documents were not only pleasant but in a good mood. Very pleasant. When we disembarked, we had breakfast in the Lido and decided to walk down twenty minutes early to meet at the appointed spot for disembarking. When we got there, they told us to walk off the ship. Our luggage was easily accessible and in minutes we were out the door and waiting for our taxi. Ship: As this is our fourth trip on Princess, we may be getting a bit picky. The ship shows its age. The balcony furniture in our room had peeling paint. The mirror was discolored at the bottom where water had seeped in behind. But you had to look close to see signs of aging and for the most part, there was too much to enjoy to notice the signs of age. Food: We're pretty set in our ways. We do traditional dining, early seating. There was a hitch in our reservations, so our group of six was split between two tables. We caught up with the maitre d' just after getting on board and he found us a table for six in the Vivaldi Dining room. Service started out a little rocky, but by the end of the trip we felt we'd been extremely well-treated. Things got better every day. The food itself ranged from excellent to so-so. Their steaks were particularly disappointing most nights. I enjoy salmon, but their daily offering left me cold. The daily specials with fish and sea food were generally excellent. We started taking our waiter's recommendations after a few days and found she had an excellent sense of what was good on the menu. Lido Deck The service on the Lido Deck was exceptional. There was always someone there to help out, carrying trays, bringing coffee, etc. The food was as good as any we've had on Princess. In the morning, they did a top-notch job of serving eggs -- which isn't easy on a big ship. They poached, fried, soft-boiled your egg in a jiffy. And they offered specialties, like eggs benedict that were very good. At lunch they set up a daily buffet line outside on the deck offering a different themed food each day: Italian, desserts, Mexican. Those were quite good. Everyone tried the pizza, hamburger, or hot dog line at least once and no one was disappointed. Big issue: The rear section of the Lido Deck opens on the smoking area. For some reason on this ship, Princess didn't set up the doors properly to reduce the smell of smoke in the dining area. We nabbed some tables for the six of us in the stern area on the first day and expected to come back, but after a couple of days, we were chased away by the smell of smoke. Until this gets fixed, we won't be going on the Diamond Princess again. Fitness Area My wife and I hit the gym almost every day. The first day, only some of the treadmills had been turned on, so there was a line of people waiting for the few machines that were operating. There are no attendants, so exercisers started experimenting with various buttons and soon got all but one working. In general, Princess has enough equipment for runners and joggers. It looks like most people follow the 30-minute recommended maximum when the machines are full, so there is rarely a long wait for a machine. The group also took part in a few of the line-dancing and Zumba classes to keep our blood pumping. Entertainment The main stage was disappointing compared to other cruises. We saw one show with the Princess dancers and didn't go again. Two Texan artists were very good. One was a comedian and pianist, the other a tenor. The best show was a ventriloquist. Very funny with humor targeted at a cruising audience. Diamond Princess has some of their acts do the main stage once and a smaller venue for a second night. This seems like a great idea. If you like an act, you can see it again. We were, as always, delighted by some of the various performers at the lounges. The pianist at the crooner's bar, the pianist in the atrium who also played the pan flute, and the classical quartet that played in the atrium almost daily. Excursions The six of us arranged some independent tours, which worked out well, and took some tours arranged by the ship, which also worked out well. We find the independent tours tend to be less expensive and more flexible, even if you are seeing similar things. Auckland Not much to see. Tauranga Best excursion of the cruise overall. The six of us got an all-day tour of Rotorua and the surrounding area from a guide who is a resident of Rotorua. Delightful. We loved the lakes, the thermal features, and the sheep-shearing exhibition. Perhaps the highlight, though, was a picnic lunch in the town's rose garden, with fish and chips from an award-wining local restaurant. Picton This was the ship's first trip to Picton. Our group split up. My wife and I went hiking on Queen Charlotte Track. This was a ship's tour: a one-hour walk after a twenty-minute boat ride. We got to see the sound, which is beautiful, then walk through the fern forests. We loved it. They dropped us off in Picton and we caught the free shuttle back to the ship after walking around the stores. Others went to the wine country and got to taste some of New Zealand's wonderful whites, also on a ship's tour. Wellington We were in town on New Year's Day, so shops were closed. We took the transfer to downtown, then walked to the Te Papa Museum. Nice museum. Akaroa Took a cruise of the harbor, saw seals, blue penguins and Hector's dolphins, which raced alongside the boat. The weather was perfect, sunny, and the skipper was a local who moved around the deck in bare feet and told stories about his exploits as a teenager diving for crayfish. Dunedin Best wildlife day. We split up again. Three of us took a private trip that required a fair amount of walking. We went to the Royal Albatross preserve and then to a private area with sealions, blue penguins, yellow-eyed penguins and a breeding ground for fur seals (with dozens of young pups sparring with each other in the tidal pools). The walk got us a few feet away from most of the animals. The other three arranged a wildlife cruise through the ship. They were able to see most of the same animals, except the yellow-eyed penguins, from the water and the boat was able to move in fairly close to the wildlife. Hobart Petted the kangaroos. We arrived while wildfires were raging in the area. Many tours were cancelled, but our guide arranged a tour even though she was trapped by the fires and couldn't get out until the next day. She got a substitute driver and van which took us on a wide-reaching tour of the area around Hobart. We were most happy with the stop at the Bonorong Wildlife Park. This is a home for rescued wildlife. They have dozens of Kangaroos that roam the area without restraint. We got to feed and stroke them. The park participates in the Tasmanian Devil research aimed at saving the species and they allowed us to get very close to the devils, baby Wombats, koalas, and dozens of others species. We enjoyed our stop at the Cascade Brewery where we tasted a flight of their beers. The smoke ruled out a visit to their waterfalls or to the top of Mt. Wellington. Visibility was pretty bad. Melbourne We took the express bus to downtown, then took the tourist bus that showed us the highlights of the city. Very straightforward. Good place to shop. Got presents for the kids. Sydney What can you do in half a day in Sydney? We found out when we arranged a private van to get us to the airport by 1 pm so we could catch our flights. Terrific tour that included a stop at the Sydney Fish Market and a half dozen stops at the best places to take photographs of the harbor. Summary Overall we had a great time and we wouldn't hesitate to get back on a Princess cruise, though not on the Diamond Princess. While it might be a minor issue for some, the smoke in the Lido deck is a deal-breaker for us. We also left the cruise with a tremendous desire to head back to New Zealand and Australia. Read Less
Sail Date December 2012
Pre cruise There is an Airport Shuttle from the Airport to Downtown Auckland for $14 one way. Pickup is outside Door Nine in the International Terminal and you pay the driver directly. The bus was a typical city-type bus and the driver ... Read More
Pre cruise There is an Airport Shuttle from the Airport to Downtown Auckland for $14 one way. Pickup is outside Door Nine in the International Terminal and you pay the driver directly. The bus was a typical city-type bus and the driver announced which hotels were served at each stop. Pre-Cruise Hotel was Crowne Plaza CBD which is a nice hotel- about what you would expect from a Crowne Plaza property. If arriving from the Airport on the Express bus there is a back entrance along Elliot Street. From the bus stop at 237 Queen St., take Darby St. to the pedestrian Mall on Elliot St. and turn left. The marked Entrance is through the mall on the right. We used Gray Line Tours for a one-day bus tour of the North Island that included the Glow Worm caves in Waitomo and the thermal park in Rotorua. They pick up right in front of the Crowne Plaza so it was easy to coordinate. The glow worms are inside a cave and are visible on the ceiling. After walking through the cave area, you get in a raft and silently move towards the dark cave where the glowworms are nestled in the ceiling. The scene resembles a planetarium with the dots of Glow Worms on the ceiling. In Rotorua, the Thermal Park and Maori Concert at Te Puia were nice. Included was a guided tour of the mud pots and geysers. There was also a Kiwi at the park but since they are nocturnal it was almost impossible to see it in the darkened display. A light lunch was served on the bus as well as a snack on the way back to Auckland. This is a good way to see the north island and the thermal areas for far less than a ship excursion. Embarkation- Quick and painless. We arrived just after 4 and walked through without waiting. The Ship- The Diamond Princess was extremely stable, even during heavy seas. In fact, it was far more stable than previous ships we have been on. The only noticeable issue was a "wobble" or vibration at times but even in the Tasman Sea the ship never actually rocked too much. Passengers were evenly mixed between Aussies, Brits, and Yanks, along with some groups of Russians, New Zealanders, and Brazilians. For the first time on a cruise, the beer on board was cheaper than in port. For most Americans and Canadians, the cost of many things in NZ and AUS are much higher than found at home. For example, $2.90NZD for a 16oz. Coke was about average in stores. Also, Princess had money exchange machines on board which gave a similar rate to banks ashore but the exchange fee was only $4.50USD which was cheaper than the local banks and money exchange stores. We felt the staff was more attentive and personable than ever before. We felt this was the best overall service we received of any Cruise, even though many of the Crew contracts expired midway through the cruise. My only complaint is the one way entrance and exit in the buffet which caused traffic jams as passengers backtrack to exit and collide with those moving clockwise as they enter. The Wake Show with cruise director Kelvin was excellent. Just FYI, he is moving to the Crown Princess after the next cruise. I don't know if Port lecturer Elizabeth was unfamiliar with the ports on this cruise or just wasn't good at presentations, but she was not the best for directions if you wanted to explore on your own. Typical things missing from port lectures were what times the Shuttles ran or how far it was to the central business district. She also tended to wander off topic into things not related to the port. Food- Excellent. Typical Breakfast on the buffet included Corned Beef Hash, Fried Eggs, Omelets, Pancakes/ French toast, whole fruit, Apples, Pears, Oranges, stewed Pears, Prunes, Peaches, Oatmeal and Congee, Bacon, link Sausage, and an alternative Sausage (Italian, bangers, etc.) and different variations of Fried Rice. Operating times which did not change were 5:00am-6:00am for Continental and 6:00am-11:30am for regular breakfast (although by 5:30am full breakfast was always out and available) Lunch was available from 11:30am-3:30pm and snacks (good) from 3:30pm-5:30pm. Lunch options were too varied to list but always available were fruit, excellent rolls and bread, wrapped sandwiches, a carved meat and four other main course meats, salad bar, and a dessert bar. Dinner was 5:30pm and 8:00pm for traditional seating and 5:30pm-10:00pm for anytime dining. The Buffet was open 5:30pm-11:00pm. In the MDR always available for dinner were a half pound Burger, Sirloin Steak, and grilled Salmon. There was an optional poolside buffet on sea days which alternated with Italian, Mexican, Sushi, and Soup days. On three of the sea days they provided a British "Pub Lunch" in one of the alternative Dining rooms with your choice of a Ploughman's lunch of bread, cheese and pickles, or either bangers and mash or fish and chips (beer extra). It was a nice thought, but we could have found better food in any of the dining rooms. In a change from our last Princess cruise, the soft serve at Scoops is now free during opening hours 11:00am-11:00pm Entertainment -- Mostly production shows featuring the ships dancers for the first nine days, with some comedians and Ventriloquists later in the cruise. There are three movie channels on the TV that show recent movies that were in theaters within the last year. Typically the primary MUTS movie was shown the next day on channel 21, but not listed in the channel guide. The Channel lineup was ESPN international, NFL games (during season) Australian TV (within Australian waters) an art channel, Princess TV (TV show repeats including "The Love Boat"), Fox News, MSNBC, BBC, and CNBC. In the evening most alternate entertainment was skewed towards music and dancing in the Explorers lounge, Wheelhouse bar, and the Atrium. Onboard activities- The sea days included the usual assortment of carpet bowling and fee-based and fee-free seminars. For New Year's, there was a balloon drop in the atrium and a second party outside on the pool deck that had steamers and similar festivities. Champagne bottles were available for purchase There is a self-service laundry on each floor for $2.00 each for wash and the same for dry. The wash/dry times listed on the machines aren't always accurate, so plan on getting back early. There was also a special on one sea day of $20 for everything you could stuff in a laundry bag. Otherwise you could opt for the usual dry cleaning at a cost consistent with most Hotels. Disembarkation -- Typical Princess Cruises quick and painless disembarkation. At our allotted time we walked off the ship. Nothing more need be said. I'll list detailed port information in the Cruise Critic port reviews. The following are Princess-specific details: Tauranga-- Docked in Mt. Maunganui at the intersection of Mall Rd. and Salisbury Ave. There were plenty of local tours offered at the I-site in the port, including a HoHo bus which at $25 compared favorably to the $15 for a round trip bus to Tauranga offered by Princess. Picton- We were parked on Shakespeare Bay. There was a free shuttle here since there is no public access to the port area. Since Picton is a small town, we took the Bus to Blenheim - it is 25 min but also easily drivable. You can book the bus in advance or get tickets from the I-site. We felt both Picton and Blenheim were about half day visits each. The I-site will book tours, buses, trains, etc. We wanted to see the Omaka aviation museum in Blenheim but didn't make it. There were rental cars available near the I-Site advertising for $25 a day. Unfortunately, the bus schedule didn't work to get there and back. In retrospect, we should have taken the ships excursion or rented a car. There were also local tours available to the museum which were half the cost of the ships excursion. These local tours were also bookable through the I-site. Wellington- the Ship docked right next to Westpac stadium. Princess offered a $10 shuttle into town, but from where we were docked, for us it was easily walkable into town. From the Stadium into City Center was approx. 1 Km. We were in town on New Year's day so a lot of shops and sites (such as Weta Cave) were closed. Akaroa- This was a Tender port. There was plenty of local vendor's dockside as we arrived, selling their tours. You can pay cash to the vendors directly or pay the dockside I-site rep with a credit card. We used Akaroa tours for the $45 round trip to Christchurch with a drop off at the I-site next to Canterbury museum. No need to take the tour to the red zone for an additional $15 unless you are unable to walk the four blocks from Canterbury Museum to Christchurch Cathedral. You can walk through most of the damaged area along the sidewalk although all the destroyed /damaged buildings are fenced off. Dunedin- docked in Port Chalmers. Princess offered a $15 Shuttle which drops off in Dunedin in front of the Robert Burns statue at the Octagon. Some passengers got off their tour buses in town and only used the shuttle one way. This was the only port in NZ that required both a picture ID plus a cruise card for access to the port and the ship. The disembarkation and return was also a bit chaotic here. Port Chalmers has maybe an hour's worth of browsing with some small shops and most importantly a New World Supermarket within walking distance of the ship. On our itinerary Hobart was the next stop with three days at sea before we arrived so the Supermarket trip for some snacks was a must. Hobart- docked right in town at Sullivan's Cove parallel to Hunter St. There is a courtesy shuttle which makes two stops; the first at the visitor's center and the second at Salamanca place. There is shopping at both Elizabeth Street and Salamanca place which were all about a 20 minute walk from ship along a marked path. We took the Princess Excursion to Bongorong Park and Richmond. We considered a rental car but the park is out of town and not clearly marked from the road. (In fact, our excursion bus driver got loss and cost us 10 minutes at the park.) At Bongarong, Kangaroos were roaming free in their compound. Free feed was available to feed them. Several Tasmanian Devils were also in enclosures. Wombats, Koalas, Emus, Wallaby's, and Purple Tongued Lizards were all in natural habitat areas and on display for that perfect close-up picture. For most fellow cruisers we spoke with, this was the highlight of the cruise. Unfortunately the ships excursions only spend 45 minutes there and everyone felt that was not nearly enough time. Richmond is included in several of the combined excursions with Bongarong and has the oldest church, oldest bridge, and a Gaol. This city was worth about 30 minutes of browsing instead of the hour spent here. Everyone on our bus would rather have spent the time at Bongarong. Melbourne- Docked at the Station Pier. There are two main methods to enter the city from the port. The #109 tram runs every 10-20 minutes from near the food store just outside the port. There is also a free one-way shuttle from the ship into town which drops off in front of the Victoria Arts Center. The free shuttle and tourist bus was actively pushed at the tourist center in the port, along with directions on how to pick up the tourist shuttles. When we were there both the free downtown visitor tour bus and free city circle tram were packed so tightly with Tourists that it was almost impossible to see anything. Both take just over an hour to make a circuit. Regardless of which way you decide to get to town, you will need a Myki card to return on the 109 Tram unless you have an excursion or private tour booked. Sydney - Docked at Circular Quay in the Overseas Terminal. A cab from the ship to our post-Cruise Hotel in the city center near Queen Victoria market was only $9. There was also train or bus service from the Circular Quay station which is only a short walk from the ship. If going straight to the Airport, the Airport Express bus runs from Circular Quay to the airport for $16 one way. There are also numerous Airport Shuttle companies that pick up from the Hotels for a few dollars less. Your Hotel should be able to book this for you. There is no end of things to do in Sydney. We had four days post-cruise and still felt we missed a lot. Read Less
Sail Date December 2012
After 17 cruises this was our first cruise on Princess. Overall an impressive line and ship. The outside cabin we elected was spacious with an unusual twist of a large open closet across from the bathroom and parallel to the cabin door ... Read More
After 17 cruises this was our first cruise on Princess. Overall an impressive line and ship. The outside cabin we elected was spacious with an unusual twist of a large open closet across from the bathroom and parallel to the cabin door instead of being located just instead the cabin behind the open door. It made for easier access and larger space. The food was on par with most other cruise lines. A minor exception was a choice of ice or hot tea and coffee are the only no additional cost beverages that appear to be on offer. But like In-N-Out Burger there are off menu items available if you ask. I saw cranberry juice and lemonade requests satisfied with no problem. The ice cream station was a big bonus on this ship. Always available at the appropriate time and not crowded. Movies under the stars with the big screen above the pool with popcorn available was also a big hit. This ship has several smaller dining rooms instead of the usual 2 large ones. We had some mixed feelings on this. Apparently Princess was trying out some different ship features when this ship was built. I heard from a well renown ship historian aboard, the Skywalkers Lounge area above the rear of the vessel did not meet expectations and is being dismantled on this class of ships. Hopefully "The Sanctuary" will meet the same fate. You will be required to use alcohol based hand rub as you enter the Horizon Grill. It's really a good thing as some lady named Nora is out there potentially spreading a nasty virus that has dry docked several cruise ships in the past! The cleanliness and the decor of the ship was superb. Not bright or garish, but simple and elegant. Tours were well organized by the staff. The tender service was very efficient despite the size of the ship. The staff were very cordial and helpful. The Cruise Director Warren and his Assistant Matt were like a comedy duo. The best pairing I've seen to date. The only negatives I have of this ship is the size of the gym or fitness area is very small for this size ship. Passengers were routinely waiting for treadmills. On the New Zealand/Australia itinerary it was cool or cold with high winds across the decks, making the normal alternative of walking around the promenade deck discouraging. The hours of the gym were also very limited with an opening time of 7 AM. Several of the most popular tours started before 7 AM. Early morning workouts are one of the most popular times for many passengers. The spin classes offered were exceptional with a great recreational staff leading them. The "Sanctuary Area" established above the spa-fitness area of the ship probably by some marketing guru at Santa Clarita for a fee of $10 -$20 day or half day is underutilized. I personally hate the decision the cruise lines are making toward putting in these cordoned off areas. If I pay the price to be on the cruise ship, I should have access to all public areas without an additional fee. I suggest on the next refurbishment of the ship, the fitness area should be expanded and the Sanctuary dismantled or at least greatly downsized. The other negative feature is the main showroom is too small to accommodate all the passengers wanting to see the early seating of their production shows. You have to arrive around 20 to 30 minutes early or you will be standing. At least 50 were standing for every show we attended. I heard this complaint from several passengers. The issue I think is with the advent of anytime dining and the prevailing age of the passengers on this ship and itinerary, most will attend the first seating. However It's a very nicely designed theater with no columns. But one of the first I have seen in years on a ship this size lacking a balcony. They need to add about another 25 seats perhaps on each side . Maybe another consideration when the ship is in for refurbishment. A few other tips about the Diamond Princess. As she typically makes long Pacific rim cruises, so very considerate of the passengers need to clean their clothing during these long voyages, there are laundromats handily available on most decks. The machines take US quarters, but there is a $1 bill changer machine in the laundry. The Washing machines are $2, the dryer is $2 , and detergent is$1.25. It will take 2 cycles of the dryer to get your clothes dry. So plan on $7.25 to wash a load of clothes. Bring several singles to avoid going to the purser. There are also 4 no charge irons and ironing boards in the laundry. There was 2 currency changing machines aboard. The exchange rate fee was about $4.50. We typically used the ATMs on shore as advised by most travel books to convert currency. US swipe designed credit cards were not an issue in New Zealand or Australia like they are becoming in Europe. In our cabin there was a wall mounted hair dryer and 2 additional 110 volt plugs. Also a small refrigerator that you could put your own drinks in. There was a 19 inch flat panel TV where you could access the line in plugs to check you camera photos or video. Standard Carnival Corporation internet packages were available, with a strong enough WiFi capability to use your laptop or iPad in your cabin. But we supplemented that with Internet cafes on shore when time permitted. The ship even had a get together listed for iPad users. I did not mention the ports on my review because this ship calls at numerous ports throughout the Pacific rim. But as others have mentioned crossing the Tasmanian Sea between New Zealand and Australia can be rough. True to form, it was so rough on our crossing the Captain had to cancel our last port of call in Southern New Zealand divert North about 800 nautical miles to the Cook's Straight between the North and South Islands in New Zealand to avoid potential 30 foot swells. As it turns out we hit three low pressure cells with the last one producing 100 MPH gale force winds and 30 foot swells outside of Hobart Tasmania. The Captain had to reduce the ship's speed to 1-3 knots at times. For a short time the ship was actually moving backwards at -0.2 knots, delaying our arrival into Hobart about 6 hours But the Captain extended our time in Hobart the lost amount and got us through a bad storm. Disembarkation was a breeze like embarkation. All in all a great cruise experience on Princess! Read Less
Sail Date January 2012
This was our first cruise with Princess and we loved it. We arrived a night before the cruise and stayed at Waldorf Celestion Apartments Hotel which was booked on Hotels.com for about $100 per night. From this hotel we walked to Sky City, ... Read More
This was our first cruise with Princess and we loved it. We arrived a night before the cruise and stayed at Waldorf Celestion Apartments Hotel which was booked on Hotels.com for about $100 per night. From this hotel we walked to Sky City, The Auckland Museum and to the ship. The day of embarkation we arrived at the ship after 2PM, as they recommend and had no waiting. The Diamond Princess was lovely, larger than ships we have been on in the past. We had a cabin with a window. The room was plenty large enough for the 2 of us with adequate storage. My husband thought the food on this ship was better than other cruises we have been on. We did go to Sterling Steakhouse that cost an extra $20/person but did not think the food was any better than the regular dining room. We opted for 6PM traditional dining which I really liked. Our waiter, Jeff was with us every night and did a great job. It was also fun to sit with the same 6 people. Ports of Call: We did private tours at each stop. Tauranga: We went with Terry Tours to Kiwi 360, Lake Rotorua, Ti Puia, Government Gardens and around Tauranga. John was very knowledgeable and professional. It was nice riding in his van with just 2 other couples. Akaroa: We were originally suppose to port in Christchurch but due to the damage they have recently had we stopped at Akaroa instead. Akaroa was beautiful. Here we did the Eastern Bay Scenic Mail Run. We spent the day with the Mailman as he delivered mail all around the area. It was a lovely day with great scenery as Robin drove up and down narrow gravel roads. He is a former Conservation Ranger and gave interesting commentary. Dunedin: We did not do a tour here but we probably would have enjoyed this stop more if we had. It was very chilly so our first stop was to buy hat and gloves. We walked through Olveston, which is a 35 room mansion, the train station and the Cadbury factory. We were scheduled to do an overland excursion with the ship to Queenstown and catch the ship at Milford Sound but due to rough water the ship could not go through the fiordland so this excursion was cancelled. Tasmania: Due to rough seas and the ship having to change coarse we arrived here several hours late. I had booked an excursion with Judy at Eye See Personalized Tours. She was wonderful. She waited all morning for our ship to arrive and had made alternate plans for us. Since we did not arrive until 2PM we did not have time to go to Port Arthur. Instead we went to Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary and Mt. Field Nat'l Park. Melbourne: We did not book a tour here either and wished we had. We see so much more on a tour. We walked through the Royal Botanical Gardens, the Melbourne Goal and Queen Victoria Market. The ships captain did a good job at keeping us informed about weather and safety. When we arrived in Sydney we were picked up to begin our 7 day journey of Australia. Princess does these land tours right. All hotels and meals were wonderful and our guide Greg was fantastic!!! He kept us organized and laughing. I would highly recommend that if you are flying all the way to New Zealand and Australia you stay long enough to add on a land tour. Read Less
Sail Date January 2012
In the email we received from Princess we were asked to arrive at the port after 2:00 p.m. We arrived shortly after that time by cab and were impressed with the service. The baggage handlers took the luggage out of the cab and by the time ... Read More
In the email we received from Princess we were asked to arrive at the port after 2:00 p.m. We arrived shortly after that time by cab and were impressed with the service. The baggage handlers took the luggage out of the cab and by the time we checked in and arrived in our room, a 45 minute process, the bags were already there. The check-in was prompt and efficient. We chose anytime dining and always asked to have a table on our own. We did not have to wait and our wish was granted. The waiters were always very pleasant and the food was delicious. We ate at the two restaurants with the $20.00 service charge two evenings. The food at both places was excellent. We were a little disappointed with the decor and ambiance at the Sterling Steak house but had no complaints about either the food or service. We were much more impressed with Sabitini's. We had a lot of courses to eat our way through at that dinner but we managed to roll ourselves back to the room after dinner. We ordered room service two of the mornings when we had early tours and that was delivered efficiently at the time we requested. We ate breakfast in the dining room as we like to be served. We only ate lunch in the buffet on two occasions but found the food excellent. Our cabin steward was very efficient and our room was cleaned the sea days while we were at breakfast. When we came back after dinner our bed was turned down and the chocolate on the pillow. He was very pleasant as were all the cabin stewards we met in the hallways. The bed was hard but comfortable. We had lots of space in the open closet to store our luggage. The shower was very small and with the shower curtain and not a proper door we had water all over the floor every time we showered. The water temperature kept changing and we couldn't seem to solve that problem. We were not impressed with the entertainment in the theatre. Two of the nights an Australian singer performed and we enjoyed her talents. We went to a couple of the Princess theatre's own performers and were not that impressed with the shows. We were disappointed the final night as we expected some kind of grand finale. The lady comedian who performed needs to update her jokes as most of them were old. The cruise director was okay but not as outgoing as we have had on other cruises. We did enjoy the movies under the stars. The popcorn and warm cookies which were served were an added bonus. I attended a ceramics class and was disappointed in that. The person who was supposed to teach us was clearly not interested and I was frustrated, trying to figure out what I was supposed to do. I think she just had too much to do. The scrap-booking course was also a disappointment as it was shown in the patter to be scrap-booking but was really making a journal. The person who showed up late was the same lady who was in charge of the ceramics. She said she was there and no one showed up so she left. She was given the wrong time and we waited more than 30 minutes for her to come back. The embarkation went very smoothly. We requested a late departure as we knew we couldn't get into our hotel room but were required to be at the explorer lounge by 8:10 a.m. When we arrived at 8:00 a.m. our group was already leaving. It did not take very long to retrieve our suitcases and disembark. Other than the points mentioned above, the cruise was wonderful. We took the Maori cultural tour in Tauranga in the morning and after a rushed lunch were taken to the Agrodome for a sheep shearing and herding demonstration. We felt rushed both at the cultural tour and lunch but appreciate we had a lot to do in the time allotted. In Christchurch, we took the train trip through the Southern Alps. The views were spectacular and the boxed lunch provided was a very pleasant surprise. On the way back to the ship by coach we stopped at a farmhouse for cookies and tea. We then had another sheep and herding demonstration. In Dunedin we took the Taieri Gorge scenic railway tour and thoroughly enjoyed that tour. We went to the end of the line then back to Dunedin about 2:00 p.m. We had a few hours to shop before we took the shuttle bus back to the ship. It was a very cold day but the bus system was very efficient. That evening the ship was delayed 3 1/2 hours because of rough seas. We made the time up the next day. We had a bright sunny day when we cruised through the fjords. The scenery was breath-taking. We could see the fjords at their best. In Hobart Tasmania we took the Richmond/Bonorang tour. After a tour of the Richmond jail and some time to shop we went on to our next stop which was the wildlife centre. We really enjoyed seeing the animals there, the kangaroos were loose so we could get lots of pictures of them. The Hobart police pipe band performed at the theatre from 5:00 until 5:30 p.m. That was an enjoyable surprise In Melbourne we went to the Healseville Sanctuary. It was pouring rain and the guide had to rush us through the l l/2 hour guided tour. We had trouble keeping up with her. We went to a lovely restaurant for a delicious luncheon and wine tasting the on to another place to taste wine. The 360 degree views of the surrounding Yarra valley were spectacular. All in all, we had a wonderful cruise and tours and would highly recommend this to others. Read Less
Sail Date January 2011
Check in and Embarkation: My nephew Shankar dropped us at the Auckland terminal around 10:30 AM. The passengers were still disembarking. We dropped our bags off at 11am and checked in as a Platinum member, we got on board by 11:30 AM. My ... Read More
Check in and Embarkation: My nephew Shankar dropped us at the Auckland terminal around 10:30 AM. The passengers were still disembarking. We dropped our bags off at 11am and checked in as a Platinum member, we got on board by 11:30 AM. My wife and I went for lunch at Lido Deck. First impressions: We had an outside room on Emerald Deck (8) we went straight to our room. After we came back from lunch found our bags ready and waiting. We did a quick tour the boat and were extremely impressed with the layout and decor of the boat. We had the life boat drill which for my part of the ship was held in Wheelhouse bar, we were out of there in about 30 minutes. After this, we went to the pool deck for the sail away party. When the ship started moving, we found a choice spot above bridge on deck 16 at front the ship where we watched the impressive Auckland skyline faded away in the sunset as we sailed out. There was some drizzle when got on the ship. Later the sky cleared and could not have asked for a nicer day in Auckland. Ports: We went to four ports in New Zealand -Tarunga, Christchurch, and Dunedin and cruised through Fjord land and Milford sound. In Australia the ports were Hobart Tasmania, Melbourne and Sydney. In Tarunga we took Number 8 Farm tour which was supposed last only 3 hr, we didn't get back to ship till 4 PM a total of 5 hr. The tour guide was a retired farmer had a great knowledge about the area, and drove us all over. We purchased he tour independently after we had gotten off the ship. Next Port was Lyttleton for Christchurch. My wife Sharon's friend Marie and Murray picked at the port drove to the Center of the city. The city of Christchurch known for its beautiful garden. After doing a quick tour we went to Ballentyne Department store where we bought some beautiful sweaters made in New Zealand. Sharon has requested Captain to take our friends on the board and permission was granted. After the shopping we went back to the ship, showed the ship for our friends and had a nice lunch at the dining room. Later we took the Gondola to the top of mountain near the Harbor and got a bird's eye view of the Harbor and Christchurch. Our next port was Dunedin where Diamond Princess docked. We took Arthur's tour who met us near the dock. This was also private tour arranged by one of our friends. We visited Baldwin street, a steepest street, Otego University, Dunedin Railway, nearby Anglican Church. Then we went to Penguin Nature center to see yellow eyed Penguin colony, then went to the harbor to see the Fur seals. Afterwards we went and watched Royal Albatross nesting. Next morning, the ship sailed through the Fjord land national Park. The ship cruise through the mystic waters of the Fiordland lined with peaks 6000-7000 feet high with many cascading waterfalls which formed veils of mist spraying on the rocks and shiny Emerald green vegetation .We saw Fur seals sunning on the rocky shores and Dolphins played in waters crisscrossing our ship. The ship sailed through Dusky sound, Break sea sound, Doubtful sound, Thompson sound and finally the world famous Milford Sound is about ½ miles in widest point, the Mitre Peak raises from the water to a height of 5600 feet, the most photogenic peak. Ports in Australia. The ship took 2 days to cross the Tasman sea; fortunately sea was so calm during the day, it looks like a sheet of wet glass on which ship was gliding. We reached Hobart Tasmania which was located the Southeast corner of Tasmania. We were dropped off by bus to Information Center. We took the tour of Bonorong Wild Life preserve by Van. There we saw Koala bear, Kangaroo, Wallaby, Wombat and Tasmanian Devils, whole lots of birds native to Hobart and Australia. This also a breeding and research center for Tasmanian Devils. Later we went to the Museum where the Artifacts from Australian Aborigines and Penal colonies are displayed. We also visited Salamanca an artist colony, boutique shops where we did some shopping. Melbourne (spelled Mel-Bun) was our next port. We were dropped at the art Center. This is architecturally most beautiful and friendly city in Australia. We took a free tram which goes around the city, went to a Catholic church, and then walked to Collin and little Collin streets. There are lots of small lanes lined with small boutique shops. We also visited Shrine of Remembrance which commemorates Victoria's war dead. We walked on the river bank of Yarra river where boys were practicing their rowing skills a movie exhibit and then took a tram to our ship. Activities: The Assistant Cruise Director Tyson had dancing classes in Club Fusion on sea days and we joined his class. In addition we walked about 2 miles on seas days. My wife also joined the line dancing classes. Parnell Adams the tour Director talks were very informative and helpful. She never talked about any jewelry store or any particular store, shopping tips is general than specific. Service: The service was great. If I ever needed anything there was always someone to help out. The room was always kept clean, and there were fresh towels twice a day. Our room steward Sherwin is from Philippines was very efficient. Stateroom: The room was great; we had an outside cabin on Deck 8 which was really spacious with lots of closet space. Food: We ate in LIDO deck buffet during the port days, most of the time we ate at the International dining room. The Buffet some nice selections of food even for a Vegetarian like me. The Pizzeria, Bar Cafe had so many other things to choose from, we didn't go hungry. For evening dinner we ate at the International dining room. Our table was for 6, but there were only 4 people and our table mates are friendly and always waited for us before they ordered their dinner. The food was great! Head waiter Floriana always eager to please us with alternative menu choices. Our waiter Nila and his Assistant are well mannered and very pleasant. Both Valentine day and my wife birthday were celebrated with a glorious way with singing by, Head waiter and other waiters. I was never disappointed with what I ordered. We were always seated quickly within 5 minutes maximum. Entertainment: Most of the Production on Princess Theater was excellent quality and the singers and dancers were great. The comedian Bobby Dennis was also of very top caliber. Maurizio whom we saw in SUN Princess 10 years ago is still very popular. I At Wheel House Bar we also saw some production by Australian Artist Spring fever very funny and entertaining. Disembarkation: We had 8:15 disembarkation and custom clearance was all smooth. In all, We had a fantastic time. We really enjoyed cruising on Diamond Princess and would definitely do it again Read Less
Sail Date February 2010
We chose this cruise for three reasons: 1. It was during school holidays so the whole family was there (all four of us). 2. It visited NZ and Tasmania (which is what we wanted to see). 3. It was a twelve night voyage that spent Christmas ... Read More
We chose this cruise for three reasons: 1. It was during school holidays so the whole family was there (all four of us). 2. It visited NZ and Tasmania (which is what we wanted to see). 3. It was a twelve night voyage that spent Christmas AND new Year on board. Very exciting. This trip took place Dec 2008 and Jan 2009. It was a pleasurable experience. The buffet was extensive with delicious food, fresh produce, wonderful service. Staff were always there, no waiting around for service at the bars or with orders. Both lunch and breakfast had gorgeous meals. However it was often difficult to find tables available, and the air conditioning was often very strong in certain spots. That's okay because recently we went on a Pno CRUISE with no air con so we prefer the coldness. The service in the International Dining Room was absolutely fantastic. Our waiters were God sent and so we remained at that seating arrangement the rest of our trip. Manuel and George were funny, experienced, did everything their in paths to make us happy. They knew how to serve correctly, women first... It was very hard to say goodbye. Also,unlike many cruises today, a Baked Alaska was held. It was a fantastic experience. Also to celebrate Christmas and New Year with them was really lovely. Captains cocktails were great; Captain was lovely. All formal nights were well presented and most people dressed accordingly, that was nice. Assistant Cruise Director was fantastic, friendly and down to earth (Aussie Paul). Tours were great as well as ports of call. Tauranga and Dunedin were favourites. We spent Christmas day in Tauranga with people from a New Zealand village, it was such a cultural experience, dancing with them and pressing noses. Our favourite tour ever experienced and celebrating on Christmas day was a delight. In Dunedin seeing the Scottish castle and the intricate streets was also beautiful. And all guides were friendly, experienced and very polite. It was a pleasure to join them. New Year's was an ultimate experience! Spent in the atrium with the band playing all night, champagne, the balloon drop while sailing. And being in the middle of the Tasman meant we were first to celebrate the start of 09. It was a memorable experience and a wonderful part of our cruising days. It was great!!!!!! Shows were average in our opinion, however the Christmas show ands hypnosis act (last night) were wonderful shows. Spa/ Fitness Centre/Salon were great and did their best to accommodate us and beautify us. Our weather was good, except for two slightly rough nights, but staff accommodated well to these unpredictable changes. It was very cold for the southern hemisphere season, with the highest temp. being 19* celsius. Although we didn't let that get us down. One complaint is the Fiordland, scenic cruising which was a waste of a port. It would have been better to just put up the knots and sail quicker to Tasmania. Room was great for four people, although sofa bed was very small and uncomfortable for you siblings to share. Paintings rattled on walls. Bathroom size was decent as well as balcony space. TV programs and movies were good and up to date. Over all, dining and ports were fantastic and we enjoyed our seasonal experience on board. We thoroughly enjoyed myself and would return to the ship in the future if the opportunity arose. Plus the Princess line never disappoints. Read Less
Sail Date January 2010
My DW and myself came off the Auckland to Sydney cruise a few days ago on the Saturday 16th January. This was our third Princess cruise and I have to say that it lived up to our expectations in that it was an absolutely wonderful ... Read More
My DW and myself came off the Auckland to Sydney cruise a few days ago on the Saturday 16th January. This was our third Princess cruise and I have to say that it lived up to our expectations in that it was an absolutely wonderful vacation experience. This is not a detailed trip report but a series of observations. The ship was in good condition with everything working fine although we did hear that for a short time the toilets on one deck were not working. The Captain informed us that the Diamond Princess goes into dry dock in October for the same modifications as the Golden. Our stateroom on the Caribe deck with a balcony was spotless with no smell of smoke. The stateroom attendant was exceptional, good service whilst being inobtrusive at the same time, nothing was too much trouble. Embarkation was exceptional in Auckland. We were dropped off by our taxi at 11:50am and we were in our stateroom at 12:15pm. The sailaway party was a bit low key but that was perhaps down to not many people attending it. We were in Anytime Dining and tended to use the Savoy dining room. We do dine early, before 6:00pm but never had a wait for a table for two. Food is subjective but we found the food to be very good, there was always something to choose. We did notice that entrees such as Texas Chilli and cottage Pie have slipped onto the menue. We like both of these dishes so it was fine for us but I'm sure experienced cruisers will see this as a little bit of cost cutting. We used the Horizon buffet quite a few times and again, found the food to be good, a large choice was always available and we could always find a clean table, even at busy times. The ship was pretty much full but it never seemed crowded, it was always possible to find a seat anywhere on the ship. Entertainement - The staff were headed up by CD Adam from Wales. We have found that the CD sets the standard for their staff and in this respect the CD's staff were very good. They always had a high visability around the ship and would chat to passengers. Adam was also very high profile aroind the ship and was the "volunteer" for all of the specialist treatments such as accipuncture. The production shows were very good althoufg even in our limites experience we had seen a few of them before. There was a new one called Piano Man which was very good and I would recommend this to everyone. Singers / Comedians were ranged from average to very good although as with food, sometimed humour is a personel thing. The wait staff in the lounges and bars were exceptional. I have found that a smile coupled with a please and thankyou and a quick chat to them is repaid by exceptional levels of service. After two nights, it was pleasing to walk into say Club Fusion ot the Explorers lounge and be greated by wait staff saying " good evening Alan, is it the usual tonight for you and your wife?" I do have to say that not all passengers treat them as well and I noticed on a number of occasions other people barking out requests to them and treating them with little or no rerspect. Ports of Call - We stopped at Tauronga, Christchurch, Dunedin, Hobart, Melbourne and lastly Sydney. Apart from Melbourne, we had not visited any of the ports so chose half day tours with Princess. These are not the cheapest way to see the cities but it is an effective use of time for first time visitors. These were very well organised and on all occasions, we were on our way at the appropriate times. We always saw a lot in the time that we had. All cities were very good and the weather was kind to us in that we did not have any rain. If we ever return, now that we have our bearings, we would see the cities by ourselves. We did have a challenging twelve hours across the Tasman Sea. We experienced 12m (40ft) swells / waves and the Captain slowed the ship's speed to 5kts and the ship road the waves / swell quite well. My DW and myself were having dinner at a window seat on deck 5 and every so often the wave would wash over the window completely. Even the dining room staff thought that this was unusual. This left us two hours late into Hobart but the ship stayed two hours later to make up for this and the trips were just put back two hours. The disembarkation process at Sydney was as efficient and effective as the embarkation process was at Auckland. Interestingly, self disembarkation was not an option at Sydney. We were in Orange group 2 nad had to meet in club fusion at 8:00pm. At 8:10pm, we were walked off the ship by Princess staff and our luggage was waiting for us. We quickly cleared immigration / customs and at 8:30 we were waiting for a taxi to our hotel. Overall we had a wonderful experience with very few minor niggles that are not worth writing down. We are now fans of Princess and have two more cruisers already booked: A Crown princess transpositional cruise from Southampton to New York in September and a cruise next January on the Star Princess from Santiago to Rio de Janeiro. If anyone has any questions, please feel free to ask them. Read Less
Sail Date January 2010
DIAMOND PRINCESS - FEBRUARY 2009 AUCKLAND TO SYDNEY This is the first time we have put a review on here so we hope you all enjoy itWe are two guys aged in our late 40's who live in Sydney Australia and this cruise was our 15thWe ... Read More
DIAMOND PRINCESS - FEBRUARY 2009 AUCKLAND TO SYDNEY This is the first time we have put a review on here so we hope you all enjoy itWe are two guys aged in our late 40's who live in Sydney Australia and this cruise was our 15thWe flew across from Sydney to Auckland the night before the cruise onboard Emirates great new super jet the A380. We had Business Class and enjoyed a quick checkin and headed through to the Emirates Lounge at Sydney Airport for breakfast. Sadly this was the weekend of the terrible bushfires in Victoria which made very grim news on the tv and the papers. Emirates Business class was very goodWe were at Auckland's pier about 11.30am the next day and as always with checking in for a cruise both of us were getting excited. Check-in did not open until 12 noon and one thing that Princess does need to fix is to have clear signage on where to drop your bags at this pier. This ship is in and out of Auckland all through our summers and no one was really clear on where to drop suitcases.  We are both Platinum cruisers with Princess so we were swiftly check-in and welcomed on boardDiamond Princess is HUGE The ship is one of a number of the same design which are in the Princess fleet. What look like a pair of jet engines on either side of the funnel are just decoration! Talking of size we never once had to queue during this cruise. the passenger movement is great especially getting on and off at ports. Although the ship is huge (we did get tired the first day walking from one end to the other and when exploring all the rooms - a bit of planning is needed) you have no real sense that it is so big.We had booked and paid for an inside cabin and Princess had upgraded us to an outside with a Balcony which was really awesome. Our cabin was A108 on Aloha deck. Very comfortable, good wardrobe space. adequate shower and really good bed Please note that this particular balcony cabin has a metal balcony being right at the front of the ship and not glass like most on this ship. We had a great view of the bridge and often saw the officers doing their stuff. The public areas are well spaced out with comfortably sized bars and lounges. Our favourite is Skywalkers which is located 16 stories above the sea and stretches right across the back of the ship. Sitting up there with 360 degree views was awesome. We sat here sailing the 3 hours from Melbourne City down the length of Port Philip Bay which was an amazing evening. Also we never ever felt crowded.There were always chairs available in bars, our restaurant was only ever half full, the pool areas were never crowded. Breakfast and lunch buffets in the Horizon Court were good , an ever changing range of foods particularly at lunch were well presented and tasty. Our criticisms for breakfast in Horizon Court were that it wasn't clear that you could ask for different styles of eggs or bacon to be cooked to those served in the buffet and the service in Horizon court was a bit hit and miss. This ship is based in Australian waters for 3-4 months each summer and the ship carries large numbers of Aussies and Kiwis. We did find, especially for breakfast that Princess does not seem to take this into consideration. For example things like bacon. Us two aussies arn't that keen on bacon burnt to a crisp and it took a few days to work out that we could ask for aussie bacon nice and soft!. Also they need to teach the formal restaurant staff how to serve a proper pot of tea at breakfast. We always had to keep asking for a pot of extra hot water as the tea was so strongPart of Horizon Court becomes the Sterling Steakhouse each evening (US$20 surcharge) The rest is set as an evening buffet. There is also Sabatini's Italian Restaurant which charges a US$20 per person dinner surcharge. We decided not to spend the money as we were enjoying our restaurant so much each night. The ship operates a number of other evening dinner options. There is the main dining room which operates on a traditional 1st or 2nd seating or four other restaurants one deck up which operate as they do here on land. You make a booking for a table size and time each evening. There may be a wait of upwards of half an hour for your table and they give you a buzzer whilst you head off and have a drink. We dined each night in the Vivalidi Restaurant and had a table for two every night. Elegant dEcor and loads of wood. However being called Vivaldi the waiters were attired in odd looking Italian coloured outfits most nights. Swap those for starched white tunics and it would be sensational. The quality of the food and the presentation excellent with a choice of eight to ten main course dishes each evening. A well priced wine list starting from US$22 bottle. Cocktails or Martinis are around US$6.50 We purchased a soft drink package at the start of the cruise which was great value giving us unlimited soft drinks. All the bars are great and two of the bar staff remembered our names and our drinks by the second night , not bad considering how many people were on board. One of the waiters in the Vivaldi restaurant recognised us from another cruise and asked to look after us each evening. There was a "Rainbow get together" advertised in the Princess Patter for the Wheelhouse bar the second day of the cruise. We both thought - Great! This would be a way to meet any other gay people on board. This was not hosted so it was a bit of a disaster as no one spoke and no one was actually sure who was there for the get together. A quick note to the Cruise Director solved the problem and there was a hosted drinks the next evening. Its a great way for us to make new friends and break the iceThe entertainment production shows were sensational. The ship was always full of music in the evening. A string quartet in the atrium, lounge singers in one bar, a pianist in the Martini bar. The ship is also designed to bring the outside in so you feel connected to the sea . Lots of windows where you can sit with a coffee, read a book and look out. There is a wedding chapel on board (we both thought it looked more like a funeral chapel!) and on this cruise we saw two lots of Brides and Grooms and assorted families. There is a great gym and quite a large Spa complex with an adults only outdoor pool and spa pools. One thing we both really like about Princess is they have proper wooden steamer chairs which are really comfy to lay out We had a great time in Tauranga and the local Princess Manager had arranged to get William's mother and sister onboard for lunch, that was a great treat. They were so impressed with the ship that they have booked to sail on Diamond with us doing the reverse itinerary from Sydney to Auckland this December Having lived in New Zealand for 4 years it was nice to get back into Christchurch and Dunedin. We hit a jackpot in Dunedin as there was a huge fair on in the middle of the town.The highlight for many on this cruise was the day sailing in the Fjords. Unfortunately mother nature was not kind and we had low clouds and lots of rain but its still an amazing dayMother nature was on the other hand very kind with the Tasman Sea and we had remarkably smooth passage for the two day crossing from Milford Sound to Hobart. The day after Hobart we could smell smoke, a lot of it. A mild panic at first but we soon realised that this was the smoke from the terrible fires in Victoria that had drifted out to sea. In Melbourne, as in the other ports, we paid for small charge for the princess coach into the heart of the city. Well not quite the heart. the coach drops you off outside the National Art Gallery of Victoria and if its your first time to Melbourne you need to get off the bus turn right and head over the bridge into the city. We took a tram back from the city which went right to the pier.An early arrival in Sydney and we were home. We had use of the Platinum disembarkation lounge onboard as we waited for our sequence to be called.  Then off the ship through customs and we were sitting back in our lounge room at Kirribilli looking back at our "home away from home for the last twelve days" within 15 minutesOverall a really great 12 night cruise and one that we would recommend to anyone. There was such a diverse range of people on board and also of age groups. We are back on Diamond Princess this December to do the reverse itinerary from Sydney to Auckland and we can't waitNeil and William  Read Less
Sail Date February 2009
I have always wanted to go on a cruise. Unfortunatly the budget never allowed us to be able to holiday in style by cruising. We finally saved up for our first cruise! I booked the cruise from Auckland to Sydney on the Diamond Princess. ... Read More
I have always wanted to go on a cruise. Unfortunatly the budget never allowed us to be able to holiday in style by cruising. We finally saved up for our first cruise! I booked the cruise from Auckland to Sydney on the Diamond Princess. I was looking for a long cruise time, but no ships were sailing into to Sydney at this time of the year for us to able to go on a longer holiday. The Diamond Princess was more than I expected. How beautiful is she? We had a balcony stateroom. The room was a little small but I found it to be cosy and perfect for the amount of time we spent in there. My suggestion if anyone is to cruise to pay a little bit extra and get a balcony suite as I found, when you wanted quiet time from all the hustle and bustle on the ship, there was no better place to retreat to than your balcony, cruising overlooking the ocean. The crew and the staff on board were magnificent, never did we ever come across a rude or unhelpful staff member. Our steward Angelo was fantastic. Anything we wanted he would attend to in a quick and mature manner. He would always have a chat and was always smiling, totally magnificent. The bar staff and the all the staff in the dining rooms were fantastic. As I said, no one was ever rude or unhelpful. We thought the food was fantastic. The dining room menus I thought were always unique and very tasty! The horizon court food was okay, it was good to have the horizon court, as a quick option to grab something to eat anytime of the day. I found the majority of people on the Diamond Princess were a lot older than myself and my husband. This was a little disappointing because at night when you wanted to go and have a drink, dance and meet people all the bars and nightclubs were dead (maybe my expectations were too high here, maybe I should go on a Caribbean cruise if I want to party. I have heard the 7 day Caribbean cruises are one big party!) When the ship was at sea I found there was always plenty to do, yes I have to agree with other members reviews, that a lot you had to pay for, but there were things you could do that were for free and very enjoyable. The one thing my husband and I did not like about the Diamond Princess (and I am sure this is what other cruise ships do as well) was it was all about selling, be it drink packages, photos, or whatever else it was, we did not like this at all. Our overall experience was out of this world and how great is it having to unpack once!Can't wait to book our next cruise (hopefully in 2 years). Our goal in life is to experience a WORLD CRUISE, this would be our ultimate dream. Imagining unpacking once for 100 days and seeing the world, what a way to see the world, cruising would have to be the best. Beats flying from country to country, carrying luggage everywhere, checking in and out of hotels. CRUISING IS THE ULTIMATE EXPERIENCE! Read Less
Sail Date January 2009
The trip from Auckland, New Zealand to Sydney Australia was the first time we had been on a cruise ship. When I first saw the outside of the "Sapphire Princess" at the dock in Auckland I thought "oh oh..... this is not going ... Read More
The trip from Auckland, New Zealand to Sydney Australia was the first time we had been on a cruise ship. When I first saw the outside of the "Sapphire Princess" at the dock in Auckland I thought "oh oh..... this is not going to be my cup of tea".... too big... huge... but once we were on board I thought it was a floating palace.... beautiful... We had booked an inside twin cabin... found it to be perfectly adequate. Well laid out... everything in its place. Had no problems at all.. Actually, it was quite good for an afternoon nap as you could really darken the place down and have a proper sleep. The cabin stewards were very attentive and looked after us extremely well throughout the trip. Actually all the staff on the ship were very good and very pleasant. We chose "anytime dining" and found it wonderful. The food was excellent. First class quality, fresh and well presented and of a wonderful variety. We had a few dinners in the dining rooms... The waiters were very attentive and the food was first class... Activities were sometimes "light on"....However, I particularly liked the "Scholarship at Sea" activities.... prior to each port they had a lecturer who spoke of the early settlement of the area and of the indigenous people and their culture. There was another lecturer who had been a district attorney in L.A. and he gave lectures on famous criminal trials. I really enjoyed these activities . The Casino was the usual "loser" for me... I gambled on the slot machines a couple of times... which are American and compared to Australian poker machines very boring.... they all take your money of course but the American ones are not even entertaining.... I suggest Princess really look at the alternative machines available...The entertainment at the Princess Theatre was adequate and sometimes very good. We did not do any shore excursions arranged through the ship... we did our own thing when we arrived at a Port of Call and I think it is the most economical way of organizing things.. I thought the cleanliness of the ship was a credit to the staff... It was exciting to sail into Sydney Harbour just before dawn.... We slid into the dock beside the Sydney Opera House. It looked fantastic silhouetted against the dawn sky. The city was still lit for the night and looked wonderful.... The Harbour Bridge was the backdrop. Disembarkation was slow... I don't suppose there is much that can be done about it... It is a lot of people to get off in a short time... However, overall it was an absolutely fantastic holiday... I loved it and even my husband said he enjoyed it. I thought the ship was a floating palace. Wonderful service and wonderful food. After reading other reviews it seems Princess is not the preferred line.... but for me it was impossible to fault... Perhaps I am naive... but I thought it was fantastic... and on the strength of this cruise have since sailed on a P & O cruise which simply did not compare and have now booked a cruise for next year on the Rhapsody of the Seas sailing from Sydney to North America.... so if this ship gives us as fantastic an experience as the Sapphire Princess we will be delighted. Read Less
Sail Date January 2008
Australia New Zealand Trip Report Well, the beginning of the cruise started with a bit of adventure and a fair amount of stress. Out journey would take us from Seattle (SEA) -> San Francisco (SFO) -> Sydney (SYD) -> Auckland. ... Read More
Australia New Zealand Trip Report Well, the beginning of the cruise started with a bit of adventure and a fair amount of stress. Out journey would take us from Seattle (SEA) -> San Francisco (SFO) -> Sydney (SYD) -> Auckland. The foreshadowing for the initial adventure was exposed when I received a flight delay for the SFO-SYD flight by two hours shortly before we departed the red Carpet lounge in Seattle. OK, no problem so far, the Red Carpet lounge agent from United put us on a later flight for Air New Zealand (no boarding pass yet though). Just one note: Red Carpet lounge in Seattle no longer offers free cocktails, wine or beer. You must pay for these...not sure what the membership value is any more... free pretzels, apples and cheese though. OK, so SEA-SFO flight is uneventful and as soon as we land in SFO, I turn on my cell phone and get another flight notification that the flight to Sydney is delayed until 9 AM the next morning! 11 hours after the original time! Now what? We went directly to the international terminal in SFO for United. They had us taken care of - they had a room at the Sheraton and dinner vouchers ready and our flight to Auckland was pushed to a later connection. Still OK. Well, we get a good night's sleep and dinner - check back in the morning and wait for the flight. So far so good - we have a 2 hour connection time in Sydney...should be enough. Well...takeoff from SFO was delayed an hour...trying to find some bags of passengers who did not board...that will now put us with a < 1 hour connection in Sydney ... and our bags are NOT tagged for the correct flight. This is starting to look ugly. The business class service on United and food has not been bad though. The stewardesses did go into the cockpit and tried to call ahead to the United airlines folks in Sydney to see what they can find out. Not sure if this is going to help or not. Made it to Sydney and we made the flight to Auckland. Air New Zealand did not want to let us board since we were less than ½ hour before the flight...but we cajoled them since we had a cruise the next day and the succumbed to pressure and let us on. The flight was cramped, but the food was good and a free movie even in Economy. OK - we made it to Auckland! But...no bags. We filed our report and trucked off to the hotel. We took the airport shuttle service that goes to all hotels 24/7. $16 NZD per person - great bargain. We arrived at the Hilton, checked in swiftly and had a great room. Without a doubt - if you want to get on a cruise in Auckland, the Hilton makes it SUPER easy. Next day..still no bags. We called ANZ - still no luck - they have no idea. So we decided to do some emergency shopping just in case - found some nice shops in Auckland - super helpful retail staff. Bit WARNING Will Robinson - the prices are expensive here in NZ! After shopping, still no luck, but we found an ANZ retail outlet - we found out we could get $100 NZD per person emergency money. We were supposed to get receipts, but they were nice and offered to just pay us cash. Cool - we have more spending money. ? Embarkation Eventually we were forced to board the ship - definitely follow the recommendations - if you board after 2:00, you will get on in 10 minutes - no kidding. If we try to board before 2:00, you will spend 1 - 1.5 hours in line. Our experience was great. Cabin Got on board - the mini suite cabin is spacious, very clean but definitely limited storage outside of the hanging closet. Everything was prepared - canapEs in the room. The champagne was not waiting, but we mentioned to our steward (Marlon) that we had hoped for it...and he asked if we would be disappointed with a whole bottle...ummm...No, that would be just fine thank you! The cabin steward has plenty of extra hangers - the closet is very spacious and you can hang everything despite the limited shelf space and drawers. On board So we checked in with the purser - made the mistake of picking a junior assistant purser and it took almost a full hour to file our missing bag report...uggh. But Princess was very helpful and they offered us toiletry kits as well as complimentary formal wear if we needed it. How nice. Fortunately, to make a long story short, our bags arrived the next day in Taraunga when we were in port and out on a tour. Whew - what a relief. They were waiting in our cabin as we returned from the day in Taraunga. Yes, it is true - the average age of this cruise is 50. But there were more kids and younger couples than we expected. Overall, we did not notice the age difference and we met a lot of interesting people from all over the world. Interesting tip for foreign travelers on US based cruise ships - book with a US based travel agency...we found that Australians, etc. paid TWICE as much for their cabin adjusted for currency conversion as the US passengers did. I don't know how they afford these vacations at those prices! The cruising of the fjords was simply gorgeous. Apparently, they get 6 meters of rain a year and the fjords are full of breathtaking scenery and waterfalls. Quite an experience - very similar to the inside passage of Alaska. Tonight we received some mystery chocolate covered strawberries in our cabin - don't know why, but a nice treat! Speaking of treats - they have a great wine list on The Sapphire - a ton of great selections of wine below $30 a bottle. No need for a wine club - the prices are VERY reasonable - not even worth bringing wine on board and paying the corkage. Although they are very lenient about bringing liquor and wine in your carry on- it is not worth the corkage to bring your own. We had a bottle every night - Bordeaux for less than $25, how can you go wrong? In addition, we also found that the bar service staff were actually not pushy - they were generally helpful and not always pushing expensive drinks. Watch out for the Tasmanian sea transit. It can be really rough. It was so rough; the Captain had to slow the ship down to 5 knots to avoid damaging the ship and the passengers. The older crowd had a hard time with all the rocking and rolling - but it made for great sleeping! Unfortunately, the stop in Tasmania (Hobart) was cancelled since we could make it in time. Somewhat disappointing, but the Captain definitely made the right decision. We spent a full 3 days at sea cruising from NZ to Melbourne since it was so rough, but we are going to be able to spend an extra night (Sat night) in Melbourne! Casino The casino was open at night, but it did not stay open late. After midnight, we were one of the few people still awake at that time of night. So, whether we wanted to stay up late or not - it was hard since we were the only ones willing to stay up. The casino staff were very friendly and overall a lot of fun to interact with. We played craps most sea days after the shows and overall, we did fairly well for the cruise - broke even for the vacation which is a WIN in my book. Melbourne has a very large casino which has different rules and atmosphere from other casinos in the world. Worth going into. The odds are MUCH better - on all games from blackjack to craps. The Crown casino in Melbourne also has a night club/disco on the top which is also very popular - especially with the crew. Shows The overall entertainment was decent. The variety of shows is good. I found the directing, choreography and creativity to be excellent. The singing was fair at best in my opinion though and the lighting was also poor. The production show of the spy movies was absolutely fantastic and extremely clever. The trick to shows is get there a half hour early - if you don't forget it...the seats are all taken. Some of the other entertainment and bands around the ship were fair. Don't come on the cruise if you are looking for Vegas quality entertainment - come for the ports and food. The Piano man was the best show and seemed to be the most popular - the costumes are amazing. The hypnotist was entertaining and the comedian was fair. If you want a good seat - get there at least a half hour early. If you want a seat at all, get there 20 minutes early. After that - you will have to catch a later/different show. They pack out. Food We ate in the international dining room every evening. We found the food quite good and the service good as well. I would not have rated the service exceptional - the overall staff were quite junior and young, but they tried hard and overall we had no complaints. The head waiter was more than happy to please and I had escargot waiting for me every night as my appetizer - only had to ask on the first night. The buffet on deck 14 (lido) for breakfast and lunch was always excellent - even though it was crowded. The variety was high and the quality very good. We also found the all night buffet to be great and tasty - Otto was always helpful and fun at midnight for our late night indulgences. It is more than burgers and hot dogs at night - something different every evening. Lobster night - it was quite good and like most people we had more than 1 serving of lobster ?. The deserts are different every day - one day they will have baked Alaskan, bananas foster, cherries jubilee - all the favorites. The staff conducts a large cooking demonstration and galley tour on the last sea day. Like all large events this will be in the Princess Theater - get there a half hour early to get a seat. Tours They are SUPER expensive here in New Zealand. Don't expect to get any deals, save money or get huge value for your money. The tour guides are great - but you pretty much pay double that you would expect in the US or Europe for that matter for the same length, quality, content, etc. We took all our tours with Princess knowing that we were paying a premium - but it did pay off when we did not go to Hobart. People that did not book through Princess were stuck trying to get their money back. We were automatically refunded. Taraunga We took the Maori and wildlife experience. We went to a sheep farm, saw sheep herding, sheering, etc. It was amazing on how many sheep types there are and how the dogs interact with the sheep to herd them. We also went to visit Rotoroo where we visited a Maori reservation which had the second largest geyser in the world and the largest in the southern hemisphere. It is almost always erupting and there are steam vents all over the countryside. Most homes, business, etc. are heated by the natural steam vents. They also had hot mud springs that are constantly bubbling - quite an interesting place. We learned a lot about their culture, history, etc. The guide was phenomenal and the experience very pleasant. ChristChurch This was a bit of a rainy day and we took a tour of the New Zealand Air Force museum and also a tour of the Antarctic center. The New Zealand air force has not been disestablished and until just a few years ago were still flying 40 year old A-4 Skyhawks...amazing. Christchurch is the hopping off point for almost all Antarctica expeditions and is also the headquarters of the US base for Operation Deep Freeze. We saw the blue New Zealand penguins and also toured a lot of the Antarctica operations, equipment, simulated conditions, history, etc. This was a lot of fun. Dunedin Dunedin is the Edinborough of the southern hemisphere. It was a gorgeous day and the scenery amazing. We took a classic car tour of Dunedin. This was by far the highlight of our trip. We rode in a 1964 Jaguar limousine that had been restored - it was actually the Prime Minister of Australia's personal limousine a long time ago. What a treat! We rode around in a private tour of the city - visited Speight's brewery and also some old original houses in museums from the original settlers of Dunedin. The Speight's brewery was quite interesting - they have a natural flowing spring into the brewery that over 300 people daily from the local area come to get free pure water from a tap outside the brewery. Melbourne We pulled into Melbourne a day early since we passed the port of Hobart. Melbourne is a much older city, but a very pleasant city to walk around. The ship pulls right up to the pier down town which is a nice pier and beach area with some shops and restaurants. You can catch a local tram for $2 for 2 hours or $6 for an all day pass. You can get pretty much anywhere in Melbourne on the tram within an hour. There are lots of sights to see and a HUGE casino/shopping mall/restaurant complex called Crown entertainment center. Las Vegas scale - quite a nice place. Melbourne also has a GREAT aquarium - no need to take ships tour - just take the tram and it is about $24 to get in. Some sea creatures I have never seen any where else. Very popular place and worth the visit. The second day we took a tour to a nature wildlife preserve way out in the country (Victoria). I think these were called the YaoYang mountains about 30-40 miles outside of Melbourne where we able to see Koala and Kangaroos running about in the wild - no penned in a zoo. We saw a few Koalas in the trees and then we saw hundreds of Kangaroos roaming everywhere. We could get quite close - sometimes within 15-20 feet before they would run away. We also saw some wild Emus, wallabies and all kinds of other birds in a close by aviary preserve. Sydney We pulled in early in the morning. Disembarkation was smooth - no complaints. As long as you waited for your time to be called, it was painless and smooth. However, in Sydney we did have to wait 30-45 minutes for a taxi. The lines were very long, but the pier crew worked hard to get everyone out quickly. We stayed at the Marriott Sydney Harbour - very nice hotel centrally located in the Circular Quay area. It was a great location within 5 minutes walking distance from Harbour Bridge, Opera House, The Rocks, Botanical gardens and a dozen other great sites to visit by walking. There is a ton of great restaurants, pubs and other places to eat and drink in this area. We even took a short visit to Darling Harbour and Star City for dinner and the casino in Sydney. Star City was very large, but not nearly as nice as the Crown complex in Melbourne. Overall, Sydney is an amazing city that can take a week easily to fully explore. We climbed the Harbour Bridge - this was a very fun and amazing climb. Very touristy, but an experience that will not be forgotten. The weather and views were incredible. Unfortunately, you cannot take cameras on the tour - you can only buy pictures taken by the tour guide. They actually run you through metal detectors to make sure you don't take anything unauthorized. There are a ton of low cost tours and options for getting around Sydney. Shopping is quite good in Sydney as well - prices are competitive with the US. Flight home We arrived at the airport - smooth sailing home - only 12 hours flight time compared to over 14.5 on the trip over. United service and food was good, but not excellent. Does not compare to BA - I even think NWA is better. Read Less
Sail Date April 2007
I was a virgin of the sea prior to this wonderful trip my wife Judy and I took to celebrate our 15th wedding anniversary. We flew London - LA - Auckland with no problem until a wee sniffer dog at Auckland airport caught the scent of a ... Read More
I was a virgin of the sea prior to this wonderful trip my wife Judy and I took to celebrate our 15th wedding anniversary. We flew London - LA - Auckland with no problem until a wee sniffer dog at Auckland airport caught the scent of a dried thistle in my wife's handbag! A small fine and an acceptance of our adversity was a minor hic-up. I must recommend Quantas Airlines for their service. We had three days to enjoy Auckland so we spent the first couple exploring the city by a rented car. I was expecting it to be a lot smaller than it was, the suburbs stretch quite a way from the city. if you get the chance the Coramandel peninsula is just wonderful. Embarking onto the Sapphire was quite exciting for us but turned out to be very slow and a few veterans of the sea explained to us it was usually less painless. However my first impressions were that it was a very classy boat and the staff seemed very helpful and eager to please. Our room was spacious with plenty of storage and Judy loved the balcony - she seemed to go there with every opportunity - her own wee slice of solitude and paradise. there was a safe in the room also which i thought was a great idea and unexpected. Everyone else on the cruise seemed to average about 50 years old with a few younger couples - we felt at the younger end but soon found that we had a lot in common with many passengers - even some of the children who loved to play football much to their parents annoyance. The food on board was excellent and caters for all tastes. I love steak and we had the finest one I had ever had at the steakhouse. Judy's favorite restaurant was Sabbatini's that served excellent Italian dishes. The entertainment on board was varied and overall very good. The piano player was of the highest quality but I was told by many that some of the shows were not as good as other cruise lines. I must admit i was quite happy and had a great time. The ports we visited were great. It was really exciting wondering what the next place would be like and we were getting into the cruising lifestyle. - Tauranga was the first port of call. We had pre booked a Maori/Wildlife tour via the cruise ship. This is an excellent tour and is scenic and informative. Rotorua is a beautiful place bubbling with thermal activity and interest. It seems to be the hub of maori culture and a worthwhile experience. - Wellington was beautiful to sail into. The whole city appears before you, make sure you our on deck when you come into this city. We took the Yellow Circle city buses that are $6NZD and you can hop on hop off wherever you like, the buses come every 20mins so you don't have to wait long at all. It stops at the Te Papa Museum - absolutely fantastic, we spent over an hour in this wonderful building. The Maritime Museum also is worth a look, it was amazing to see how proud an Air Force NZ had even though it was almost quite primitive. They had some of the greatest pilots during the war. Parliament house is also a great place to visit. We too k a journey on the Mt Victoria railcar (15mins) for a great view of the city. - Christchurch - We arrived at Lyttleton and took a 30minute transfer to the city center (NZ $6 each way). A lot of passengers opt for the Tranz alpine train but we decided to have a look around this beautiful city and took in cathedral Square and took a bus to the Antarctic center. This is well worth a visit and the little blue penguins were a treat. - Dunedin -this is another attractive harbor and turned out to hold the most interest. We had pre booked the Back to Nature tour via the internet. The city was settled by the Scottish and we knew our guide was also from Scotland so we were looking forward to this trip. It was great to have the company of someone who had lived down the road in Scotland but had a vast knowledge of this wonderful city. We went to Olveston house and visited many other buildings that had been preserved since the start of the 20th century. The history of this place was very interesting. We visited Lanarch Castle (not really much of a castle if you come from Scotland!) that had the most beautiful gardens in a truly inspiring location with a lone piper playing the bagpipes in the background. It made the hairs on my neck stand up - we loved it!!. We then went off road and went for a comfortable scenic drive and had a picnic in the most beautiful location. Then off to view the Royal Albatross - massive birds that apparently carry the 'souls of sailors'. One flew over Judy, it must of only been 3 meters above her. The highlight was the yellow eyed penguins - what a funny wee bird. They are really shy so we had to keep out of sight. The whole trip was a relaxed, comfortable and well organized. A++++++ Fiordland- this is one of the most beautiful places in the world. the maori legends for this area are beautiful and the spiritually of this place is mindblowing. it is an untouched rugged wilderness with steep mountains rising from the sea to about 4500ft. Waterfalls cascade of the mountains and if you get a fine day (9metres of rain a year) you will be treated to one of the wonders of the world - i have seen nothing to compare to this place. I found a secret deck on the aft of the ship and found myself at compete peace. We visited Doubtful Sound and went into Milford Sound - what a treat. There were dolphins in the fiord but I couldn't see them - you can't win them all. The crossing of the tasman can be rough so be prepared - Judy wasn't and succumbed to being sick several times because of the rough sea. It was o rough we missed Hobart! We instead had 2 days in Melbourne. We had pre-booked a tour so had to suffer the hassle of getting a refund - it turned out to be okay and we were fixed up pretty quickly. I suppose this is one of the advantages of booking with the ship but I believe you are best to book with local operators direct. Melbourne - We arrived at Station pier and the city is a good way from town but the metro pass ($5NZD gives you unlimited travel around the city on all the trams, trains and buses. The transport system here is very efficient and will allow you to get around easily. The Realto tower is definitely worth a visit because the view is wonderful. We also visited the Victoria Markets that had a great selection of little presents i could take home for the family. If you like coffee go to Lygon st, there are wonderful cafes and bars here and it is a really lively spot. Disembarking at Sydney was a bit of a nightmare because Judy had lost her wedding ring - I couldn't believe it! We looked everywhere and the staff were helpful but no sign of it. It was a sad end to one of the best trips we had had together in our 20 odd years of knowing each other. Judy was very distressed and it took a lot of tears before she came round. That night in Sydney was a tough night. One of the reasons I have written this review is to complement the Sapphire crew on their great service. They found the ring - it was found in our room and it was on judy's finger before the ship left Sydney. It is only a ring but it meant the world to us - THANK YOU Read Less
Sail Date April 2007
I normally do not get involved in writing such reviews, but felt this applicable because of some pre-cruising negative reviews for this itinerary and ship. We flew to Auckland on ANZ which was (in spite of the length) a very nice trip. We ... Read More
I normally do not get involved in writing such reviews, but felt this applicable because of some pre-cruising negative reviews for this itinerary and ship. We flew to Auckland on ANZ which was (in spite of the length) a very nice trip. We landed in Auckland and we all were immediately met by the Princess Rep. and whisked off to our hotels. We stayed at the Langham which was absolutely wonderful in every sense of the word. Auckland was so easy to get around and the hotel shuttle took you just about anywhere you wanted to go, that we did our touristy thing on our own and loved every minute of it. The Princess reps. at this hotel were outstanding and very warm and friendly......the day of embarkation went like clock work...we arrived at the Pier at around 12:20 and we were checked in and in our cabin by 1:15...THE CHECK IN PROCESS WAS VERY EFFICIENT AND WENT QUITE SMOOTHLY. We were shown to our cabin and checked out the balcony the very first thing. WOW!!!! Now for the luggage. We had it by dinner time. The life boat drill was different from most ships we have been on, but it went o.k. No one should or could have any complaints about the Horizon Court buffet...except perhaps the very long lines and waiting for a table. We decided it was just so much easier to go to the dining room to eat, which we did when we were on board for meals. The food was excellent and abundant. The variety was excellent. When our Maitre'D discovered our table loved escargot,he ordered it for us every night...Our team of waiters was just fabulous. Polite, courteous, capable and they loved to sing and frequently serenaded our side of the dining area.. The cabin we were in was very nice as was the balcony. Our room steward was excellent and always greeted us with a smile and our first names. We booked private shore excursions in Taranga with Ian and in Dunedin with Arthur. I would highly recommend both as the tours were super. Very long days, but we saw a great deal. We then booked two shore excursions through the ship. We all felt it was pretty well organized and went smoothly...my only complaint would be this: WE DROVE A VERY LONG WAY ONLY TO SPEND A VERY SHORT TIME AT THE DIFFERENT VENUES....NONE OF US CARED VERY MUCH FOR THIS....Some of the shore excursion personnel got a little short in temper with some of the people (which in my view point is completely uncalled for) however; this was an exception and not the rule...... Smooth sailing with good food, wonderful friendly folks on board and the entertainment was good....we particularly enjoyed all the comedians on board. The Princess cast did exceptional performances as well. The time to disembark came all too quickly. It was orderly and efficient. We stayed for an extra three days in Sydney and loved every minute of it.We stayed at the Four Season which is only a 5 minute walk to the Circular Quay and all the ferries. We flew United home. This aircraft was not nearly as nice as ANZ and the crew was grumpy..... c'est la vie. Not everything can be perfect, but this was as close to a perfect vacation as anyone could ask for. We are very experienced travelers and have always felt that where ever you go and whatever you do you will get out of it exactly what you put into it and we are ALL AMBASSADORS FOR OUR COUNTRY.... This was our very first cruise with Princess, but certainly not our last. We loved the ship and enjoyed everything. NEXT STOP SOUTH AMERICA AND ANTARCTICA.....BON VOYAGE Read Less
Sail Date March 2007
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