We chose this particular cruise because Australia/New Zealand had yet to be checked off our bucket list AND we wanted to try out the Majestic Princess. My husband and I have cruised 20+ times with Princess and generally know what to expect ... Read More
We chose this particular cruise because Australia/New Zealand had yet to be checked off our bucket list AND we wanted to try out the Majestic Princess. My husband and I have cruised 20+ times with Princess and generally know what to expect on their ships... or at least we thought we did. We were in for a few surprises!
Everyone told us to spend our time in New Zealand and not to worry too much about Australia, so we stayed four additional nights pre-cruise in Auckland and only one night post cruise in Sydney. Our Auckland hotel (Mount Richmond) was near the airport and was a real pit. It was clean, but it was also noisy, uncomfortable, and had crappy parking. Thankfully, we were only ever there to sleep as we rented a car and drove several hours each day to take in the sights and activities available. New Zealand is Awesome! With the exception of Auckland, the cities are all beautiful. Around every corner we discovered scenery more breathtaking than what we had just seen. We visited Hobbiton in Matamata, toured the glow worm, Aranui, and Ruakuri caves in Waitomo, visited the Hamilton Gardens (in Hamilton), and of course did a general tour of Auckland. We had a great time sampling ice cream (my fave) and trying excellent restaurants in several cities. Pro tip- In NZ, they have an ice cream flavor called Hokey Pokey. I'd never heard of it and I REALLY know ice cream. It's basically vanilla with butterscotch candy pieces mixed in, and definitely worth a try.
So fast forward to embarkation day... We had purchased a transfer from the airport to the ship through Princess. We returned our rental car and reported to baggage claim to find the Princess Rep. (around 11am). The rep says "We're getting ready to load the last shuttle. Did they not tell you what time to meet us?" Um, no, they did not. In fact, I was worried that we were going too early! I guess it's good we got there when we did. So they hurry and march us to a holding area, which they sometimes do, and we wait for another 30 minutes or so before loading us onto the bus. And then the fun really begins! We're told that our transfer also includes a tour of Auckland (Yea! I'm being facetious, I could not have been less pleased). So what should have been a relatively short ride took 3 times as long. Plus the driver tells us up front she's not a tour guide, but she'll do her best. She was right, she was NOT a tour guide. Evidently, the port was overwhelmed with people boarding so they told the busses to stall. Had I known, I would have grabbed an Uber. Once we finally got to the port, it was complete chaos. The lines were not managed in anyway and it seemed like a mob without order. In retrospect, I believe 60% of the passengers on this voyage were first timers and that could have contributed to the confusion. But Princess could have done a better job.
In general, I believe most cruises are as good or bad as your attitude, so I'll just list some of the major differences that surprised us (most not in a good way).
1. No Gelato bar! Anywhere! Not even a little mini station at the end of the International Cafe. Did I mention my love of ice cream? Sad, sad day for me.
2. No Prego Pizzaria! What?! Now hubby is sad too. Pizza on deck has always been one of our favorites and it has been replaced with a noodle bar.
3. No night club. Some ships have Skywalkers, the Regal and Royal have Club 6, the Majestic has nothing. I believe I mentioned ice cream? Those calories don't disappear on their own! They did use the atrium as the night club starting at 11pm but it lacked the ambiance of a dedicated club. Just not the same...
4. The jogging track was a joke! I don't know how to describe it except too narrow, full of obstacles, and pretty much useless for jogging. You could walk it successfully, but that defeats the purpose.
5. Abbreviated menu in Alfredo's. Alfredo's is still wonderful, but they have removed the salads and most of the appetizers that we have enjoyed in the past. I hope this isn't a fleet-wide change.
6. Drink packages are only available on embarkation day. Since when?! Note to self: no matter how busy you are unpacking, attending muster drills, meeting people and checking out the ship... get your darn package the first day or you're out of luck. (Pro tip- you can still order prior to your cruise, I just forgot to do it).
7. What happened to the Princess luxury bed? It wasn't in my mini suite that's for sure! The bed was so uncomfortable I even tried to sleep on the couch one night. It wasn't any better.
8. How can the newest ship in the fleet still have the old crappy internet?! Really?? I was surprised that the medallion concept had not been integrated into this ship, but really annoyed that they hadn't at least upgraded the internet. Seriously.
9. I did check out the menus at Le Mer and Harmony, but neither really appealed to us. We do LOVE the Crown Grill though and usually go 2-3 times on every cruise.
10. I maintain that the live orchestra is one of the best things Princess has going for them. We love it! They also had wonderful entertainers including Chris Watkins who we've seen before and thoroughly enjoy.
11. Our cruise was over Halloween and they offered make-up application to those who signed up in advance. It was great! I was going as Cleopatra and they did a much better job than I could have done with it.
12. And of course, ice cream! For those who do not know, Princess makes all of their ice cream from scratch each day and they have some really interesting flavors, but they are only available in the dining room. So many new flavors on this trip!! My hubby and I have been trying and rating all the ice cream on our last few trips and I will post that list separately. :)
Beyond the above mentioned differences, everything was as expected. The food was excellent, the shows were good, I always book our tours independently and disembarkation was a breeze. Pro tip- if you book this same itinerary (Auckland to Sydney) get a cabin on the port side. We had the best views through the entire cruise!
We only stayed one additional day in Sydney but I wish we had stayed longer. Our hotel was the Meriton Suites (Campbell St.) in Chinatown. We reserved a studio which had everything you can imagine including a dishwasher and washing machine! Not necessary for one night, but cool to have the option. There was much more to do and see in Sydney than what we had time for. I guess we'll have to plan another trip! Read Less