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18 San Francisco to South Pacific Cruise Reviews

The last cruise we were on was on an Oceania ship. We were spoiled and were not expecting that much from Princess. We were pleasantly surprised as it was lovely. The food on Princess is not as yummy as Oceania but everything was pretty ... Read More
The last cruise we were on was on an Oceania ship. We were spoiled and were not expecting that much from Princess. We were pleasantly surprised as it was lovely. The food on Princess is not as yummy as Oceania but everything was pretty good. The turkey dinner on Thanksgiving was surprisingly good considering how many people ordered it. We chose this cruise because our kids live in San Francisco and we were able to visit with them and then take the ship home to Florida. Embarkation was a breeze. Got on the ship around 1pm, got right on and our mini suite was ready. Loved the promenade. Many new ships don't have one anymore. Our mini suite was a good choice for us. 15 days and had plenty of room for our things. Love sitting on the balcony. Didn't go to any shows but did enjoy different music around the ship. Food was pretty good but the dining room could have a few more choices. We had anytime dinner and were seated with no problem every night. Had room service for breakfast most mornings. Wish they had more hot items, but if you write them in, most of the time they bring them. I wrote in scrambled eggs and toast and received them most of the time but not all. No big problem though. Hard working crew. Deserve extra tipping if you like particular waiters, steward, etc. Didn't go on any excursions for personal reasons but got off and walked around most ports. Disembarkation was as quick as embarkation except the lines for customs took about 1/2 hour. Don't count on making an early flight out just in case though. There were only a few kids on board. All were too young for school. All in all we were very happy with Princess and will most likely cruise with them again. Read Less
Sail Date November 2019
We had never seen the Panama Canal and this time worked well with our schedule. The shipboard entertainment in the evening was varied and of good quality. We particularly enjoyed the violinist and piano duo of Consonance and the choice of ... Read More
We had never seen the Panama Canal and this time worked well with our schedule. The shipboard entertainment in the evening was varied and of good quality. We particularly enjoyed the violinist and piano duo of Consonance and the choice of comedians, musicians and singers were excellent for such a small ship. The food was very good at all meals and at times excellent. The excursions were a mixed bag with some being excellent and good value to others being overpriced and tedious. We particularly did not enjoy the Panama Canal Railway and New Locks of the Canal. The train ride was not very scenic, the snack food supplied on board was poor and the new locks may have been ok if you were not experiencing the locks firsthand which we did the next day. It was a long ride back to the ship and a poor quality sandwich was supplied. Most people on the excursion felt the same. A Walk in the Clouds was also a long roundtrip in Costa Rica and not a particularly good walk through the forest. The Granada Carriage Ride and Boat Tour in Guatemala was terrific and we had a very informative guide, Juan, who was excellent and extremely knowledgeable. Both the carriage and boat ride were interesting and the bus we were on was the most spacious and comfortable of all the trips we took. Princess should really due more due diligence in choosing these buses; great for smaller South Americans but not so much for the more full figured North Americans! The service and friendliness of the crew was exemplary and they worked hard to ensure we were satisfied. Read Less
Sail Date November 2019
We choose this cruise for a couple of reasons. First, it was going to Hawaii during our anniversary and second, we wanted a step up from Carnival. Step up it wasn't. Let me say that we will give Princess another try, just not on the ... Read More
We choose this cruise for a couple of reasons. First, it was going to Hawaii during our anniversary and second, we wanted a step up from Carnival. Step up it wasn't. Let me say that we will give Princess another try, just not on the Grand Princess. This ship needs to retire with all the issues it had with water leaks, toilet not flushing and not just your room toilets which was so un-sanitizing, staff ignoring us and the pricing was beyond what we thought it should be for photos and such, they weren't going to make deals with you, you pay or you don't get your photos.... We weren't impressed with this cruise and It did NOT meet our expectations, in fact it was the worst cruise we've been on. This cruise had many retired people with wheelchairs, walkers, scooters and such that it was hard getting around. There were lots of folks with health issues that I'm sure shouldn't have been on this ship and I was surprised were allowed on the ship. One man whom was in the ships hospital said the waiting room was so filled with sick people trying to get in that they sent him back to his cabin after a blood transfusion. This man hit his arm on something and couldn't stop the bleeding, lost half his blood and needed a transfusion, which I had heard the announcement for donors to help save his life at midnight just two days before. I was shocked that they wanted him out of there so fast, but as he said, there were a lot of sick folks waiting to get in. My husband became sick the day before we arrived back at port and I got sick couple of days after that. It's taken me a week to get over this illness and I'm still not %100. We are in our 60's and far from being young chicks, but we are very active people so this has been hard for us to say this least... The entertainment was very good but if you wanted a seat you had to get there one hour before the show, or 30 minute for an OK seat. I've never seen so many people arrive to the theater 1 hour before the show. We learned this quick so we also got a seat, we would talk and have a drink but it was a long night having to wait. Maybe it was because these were seniors, but they get there early, it could be that the theater was small too. Our personal waiter and steward were good, but some ship staff didn't want to make eye contact with people, maybe they are uncomfortable with the elderly, or maybe of their demands, which was way more then we had even seen before. The food was good, Not great just good, except when we did the Chief's Table, now that was great, we paid $95 per person for that, but it was great. Our cabin was just OK for the money, we've gotten a bigger cabin for the money on Carnival and Love it. One thing we did find on the door knobs was feces, which luckily for us I bring along disinfected wipes. I cleaned all door knobs, handles, the toilet and shower floor, which I was happy to do as I've found the stewards don't clean as well as you think they do, they didn't past my sneaky test. I put a couple of towels on the floor after marking them with a pin only to find them hanging back on the towel racks. Now you know that floor isn't clean, but those towels from the floor were back on the rack for us to use on our faces. If it weren't for the fact that my hubby and I Love to cruise, I wouldn't take another cruise knowing some of the stuff we saw and experience, but we do Love to cruise. So what to do, well take along your own cleaner, but aware of what your steward is cleaning or not cleaning in your cabin. I order bottled water for our cabin so I didn't have to drink the water on the ship and or from the cups provided. WIPE everything down. It's not just the seniors who get sick, so just keep it clean. Pull your sheets back and make sure it clean, if you have to make it over, so be it. Please, Don't lose your coffee card or give it to a waiter and forget to ask for it back. I gave my coffee card to a waiter and he didn't give it back, as I was getting ready to leave the restaurant I realized I didn't get my card back so I went back to the table and asked for it, they said they gave it to me, now I know they didn't because I kept that card in a pouch around my neck, had he handed to me, it would have been there. I was the one made to feel was at fault by the maître d', needles to say I wasn't very upset. It took some doing but they gave me another card after taking out the 7 punches for the coffee I had, rightly so, but they should have done that from the beginning instead of making feel it was my fault. I can't believe they put their coffee at a higher importance than their customers. The regular coffee was horrible on this ship so I was grateful to have my card to get specialty coffee's. For us, the stay at ports was just OK, the excursions were way to short and didn't give us the time we wanted and needed at places like Pearl Harbor, you need a whole day there. I think they could cut the Punchbowl and City Tour from the Pearl Harbor tour in order to see more of Pearl Harbor. We were sad that we didn't really get to see more than we did. Maui was great, we did enjoy the Maui Ocean Center, although we could have used another hour or two there. My favorite at the Ocean Center was the tunnel, Loved the sea life swimming right over your head, Amazing. My favorite of all excursions was, Wailua River Cruise, Luau & Romantic Ceremony in Kauai (Nawiliwili). The river cruise was beautiful, Mother Nature was at it's best. It was the most beautiful experience we had on this trip. Jim and I renewed our vows and had a nice lunch at the luau. The walk up into the Fern Grotto was just breath taking. The food was great as well as the people. In Hilo there is a free shuttle in to the city if you sign up fast enough, but that stops at noon in order do tours with his bus which means you have to find your way back or pay a driver that may or may not overcharge you. The taxi drivers at the port where we arrived tried to over charge by saying it was $20 a person even though Princess told us it was about $12 a cab and that if we shared a cab with someone, we could split it. These taxi drivers were trying to take advantage of everyone. Lots of people were upset and were trying to figure out how to get into the city, which by the way is closed on Sunday's which was the day we arrived there. Only a few people were open their shops, so they got all the business, but was very expensive. I can't believe that Princess would bring you into a city that is closed, so unless you signed up for an excursion, there wasn't much to see or do in Hilo on a Sunday. We had already spend a lot of money on 4 excursion so had we known that Hilo was closed up on Sunday's, we may have made different plans. Sure they was a very, and mean very, small farmers market that took all of 10 to 15 minutes to go through. We didn't really care for Ensenada, Mexico. We just walked around the port area, which wasn't much and returned to the ship. They need restaurants and more shops in the port area for those that don't want to go out into the city. This city could use some lessons from Cozumel, we really enjoy Cozumel's port. We didn't get in the pools or hot tubs on the ships because there were to many people with skin issues that shouldn't have been in the pools, so we opted not to get in which was disappointing. I think as much as the ships personal tries to keep things clean and when you walk in the any eating area they ask you to use the hand sanitizer, people still don't do it. I think that what my hubby and I got wasn't from not washing our hands, but from people that were sick not taking precautions. We had one man come to our table at breakfast coughing so bad that he finally left, now I'm no doctor but if your coughing like that maybe you should stay in your cabin. As I said, this was the worse cruise we ever had, but there were some awesome times. If your young and want to be around young people, The Grand Princess isn't for you. If I had to guess how many people were seniors on this ship, I would guess that at least 75 percent of the passengers were seniors and above 75 years old. While there were other little things here and there that were good and not so good, I think you get the idea. As I said, it wasn't so bad that my hubby and I wouldn't try another ship, but they only get one more try. I do hope that we find a ship with Princess that we can say we Love. We can't do our 20th over again, but we look forward to our next anniversary cruise. Embarkation was great, disembarkation was as well. Entertainment was very good. I could tell more but you get the picture. Be safe, be sanitary. Read Less
Sail Date April 2018
Firstly, we had an amazing 34 night voyage. The crew and friends we made were the best part of the trip. The dining room, restaurants, shops, bars, casino and all of the staff working in these areas were wonderful and we wouldn't ... Read More
Firstly, we had an amazing 34 night voyage. The crew and friends we made were the best part of the trip. The dining room, restaurants, shops, bars, casino and all of the staff working in these areas were wonderful and we wouldn't change very much at all. Our cabin was excellent, although the Neptune Suite on the Noordam is no better or worse than the Owners Suite on Royal Caribbean ships we have cruised on. The food on HAL was generally better than on RCI The wine list on RCI is better The entertainment was on a par, as was the casino, although the Texas Hold-em was an electronic game not a real dealer. There were a couple of things that we found disappointing. The on-board singers and dancers could have been a lot better. The disembarkation process for suite guests could have been much better. Despite having priority we were still faced with long queues. The ship board activities were almost non-existent. This wasn't such a big issue for a long cruise as we made lots of new friends and found ways to amuse ourselves. I'd be unlikely to take a shorter cruise (2 weeks or less) with HAL. Other than the sail-away party, there were no on-deck activities either during the day or in the evening. America's Test Kitchen was very disappointing. It seemed to be focussed on people who had never cooked before. The nightclub was deserted on every night. I was told they plan to move this when the ship gets refurbished. This will be a good thing. Only BB Kings and the Piano bar had any signs of life after 9pm in the evenings. The Cruise Director and staff only seemed to appear once each day - during the morning Coffee Chat. Not sure what they did for the rest of the day, but we didn't see them. On the whole, we had a great time, and next time we consider a longer cruise we'll definitely look at HAL, though probably not the Noordam. For any cruise up to 3 weeks in length, we won't be looking at Holland America. My wife and I are in our early 50's, so maybe this isn't the cruise line for us yet. Read Less
Sail Date September 2017
I would rate the Noordam excellent for the stewards responsible for room, dining, and buffet. The ship was clean, food good and service excellent. BB King club was great. The itinerary, weather and seas were perfect for us. The problem ... Read More
I would rate the Noordam excellent for the stewards responsible for room, dining, and buffet. The ship was clean, food good and service excellent. BB King club was great. The itinerary, weather and seas were perfect for us. The problem with our balcony. An outside vent was so strong in odor we couldn't open the door for even a moment. After twelve days they finally covered it with tape and plastic that took five minutes. It fixed the problem but I still can't believe it took constant phone calls to the front desk to get them to do that. You could also smell the odor in other parts of the ship but not as strong as our balcony. If Holland would have fixed the problem when it occurred I would have been fine. Like I say it took 12 days. Sour note on the trip. Lost a lot confidence in Holland America. Read Less
Sail Date September 2017
Our previous positive cruising experience on another all-inclusive line led us to book this trip. Neither of us had been to Hawaii before for pleasure; Gerry had been there on business. We had experienced several sea days in a previous ... Read More
Our previous positive cruising experience on another all-inclusive line led us to book this trip. Neither of us had been to Hawaii before for pleasure; Gerry had been there on business. We had experienced several sea days in a previous cruise, so we were prepared for the down time Embarkation was smooth and professional. Using the website to book our shore excursions and to complete all data requirements saved a great deal of time and travail. All in all, we only spent about twenty-minutes from the announcement of boarding to sitting down for lunch. Baggage was delivered without incident and we were in our stateroom (as insistently named by Crystal) by 3:10 PM. The cabin (10097) was quite small; we could not both pass by the foot of the bed concurrently. The closet was adequate, but below the standard set by other lines. The carpet was faded and a bit worn, while the drapes were consistently off-track. The balcony worked quite well. No on-line library of current movies exists on the Serenity, so when the satellite TV reception was spotty (as it often was), reading or drinking seemed to be the only alternative. Dining was a hit and miss affair. The specialty restaurants lacked flair and the food was inconsistent. The buffet (the Lido) provided fresh, well-prepared food in very limited variety. Both breakfast and lunch were okay; no casual dinner service is offered on the Serenity -- a genuine mistake. Dinner at the Crystal Dining Room displayed excellent service, mediocre wines and average cuisine. The usual lobster and lamb entrees appeared as well as lots of fish. The soups were universally excellent. A note about the "Modern" items isolated to one side of the menu: they should be isolated to the moon. No mass feeder can bring off the delicate foams and molecular gastronomy promised by these items. The wines in the all-inclusive program were mid-level supermarket brands, available at my grocer for about $10 - $12 a bottle (the in-house "C" pinot noir was excellent, however). Enrichment activities ranged from world-class to galaxy-class. The sea-day lectures were meticulously researched, eloquently presented and rich with content. Most were quite well-attended. The lecturers succeeded in bringing an immediacy to topics ranging from an historical series on populating the islands through a set of eco-lectures on topics including the California Condor and the Easter Monarch butterfly. All in all, the lectures and lecturers were the finest in our memory. Entertainment, on the other hand, was cruise ship standard...which is to say very mediocre indeed. Everyone we met on the crew and staff were personable, quite articulate and often anticipated our requests. They were also stressed and tired. The thin veneer of effortless service cracked regularly. However, our stateroom was regularly re-stocked with goodies and housekeeping was excellent. Should we cruise with Crystal in the future, we will not avail ourselves of the proffered excursions. While of reasonable value, the variety lacked range. Port choice was limited by our destination and the size of the Serenity. Hilo was our favorite. Reading other reviews of the Serenity and its cruises, it seems to us that what we found is typical of the experience. While our expectations remained unmet, the cruise still lingers in a rosy glow in our memory. We cruise primarily by destination, not cruise line, so we may sail on Crystal again. Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
I booked this cruise as part of the bucket list thing. It was to be the trip of a lifetime. In some ways it delivered, not so much in other ways. We have cruised princess about 4 times and have cruised other lines approximately 5 ... Read More
I booked this cruise as part of the bucket list thing. It was to be the trip of a lifetime. In some ways it delivered, not so much in other ways. We have cruised princess about 4 times and have cruised other lines approximately 5 times. Princess has been our favorite. This is the longest cruise we have been on, the next in length being a 21 day Med cruise on NCL. We are retired in our early 50's. Embarkation: Great, no problem. Arrived at about 12, was on by 1pm. Cabin: We always book interior and we did the same for this one. It was nice and good enough for us. Our room attendant was okay, but not good, I even had to ask him to change the sheets because it had not been done for over 2 weeks!! I knew this because as I was looking for something that might be biting me I saw a small stain that was at the bottom of the sheet tucked in and when I looked again 2 weeks later, it was the same stain. Cabin Cleanliness: The bad thing about the room was that after the first day on board I got a rash all over my feet. So bad that I even visited the Pharmacist in Honolulu to see what it might be. She said I should have them clean my whole cabin from top to bottom because it was either horrible bug bites (bed bugs?) or some kind of chemical. I even bought some bleach to wash everything my self. I did tell the room attendant, what steps he took, I do not know, but when questioned he said he had done everything, but the rash continued for the whole cruise. I totally cleaned the whole bathroom myself, and wore flip flops the whole time, even in the shower. The rash moved from my feet to my stomach to my face. It was horrible. I went to the on board MD twice, but there were so many people there, I never saw him. When I got off the ship, rash went away. I have never had that kind of thing happen to me. I was so nervous I bought my own soap on land to use. It got so bad at one point I almost thought I was going to lose a toe and went to MD in La Hainia. He said the same thing as the pharmacist. I don't know what it could have been, but whatever it was had a direct correlation with the ship. Therefore I never went near the pool or hot tub because I didn't want to give it to anyone. Never got to wear my cute sandals either as I had to have all this cream on them and cover them up. Health: This was the sickest cruise I have ever been on. I would say that over 90% of the cruise was sick by the end. I actually think I got Pneumonia. I had antibiotics given to me by MD before the cruise which I had to take, but I am still sick, even after traveling in Australia for 3 additional weeks!! My husband also got an eye infection (as did other passengers) and the MD on board said it could be from the shower water? What? What are we showering in if you can get an eye infection from it. Everyone was coughing and sick. It somewhat ruined my cruise because it is hard to have any fun when you are sick. It even made me rethink cruising in the future. I am young (early 50's) and I was really sick. Many passengers had to leave the ship early due to being so sick, some were taken off in ambulances along the way. I am not even exaggerating at all. It was bad. So bad that every single port we had to go to the pharmacy for some type of medication. We spent over $200 on medicines, creams, cough drops, eye drops, everything you can imagine. We weren't the only ones either. Everyone was going to the pharmacy at every port. Food: Food was mostly good. It did get boring after 15 or so days of the same thing. Trident grill, awesome. Pizza, great. International cafe, great. I did not do any specialty dining. Entertainment: BAD. There were a few good shows the first few days but it slowly, but steadily went down. The cast was not very good. Not very many strong singers, not even very good dancers. They only did maybe 4-5 production shows the whole cruise. I wonder why they pay for them when they don't really use them every night? Then the two good shows they did do were in the Vista lounge without enough sitting. The rest of the guest entertainers were good to bad. Good being the first comedian on board and a singer. Then it went to a horrible hypnotist (so bad that his second show was canceled due to no one wanting to volunteer). There was an Elvis impersonator who was great, he did a fabulous job. The rest were comedians (some were just okay, but most were bad). Really, this was the worst entertainment I have had on any cruise. Cruise staff: The outstanding staff was cruise director Tim and asst cruise director Corey and Victoria. Corey is outstanding and anything he did was very good and funny. The rest, Maria, Dave, Inys, Megan were okay, they tried hard. The other two, youngest (a male and female), were so bad, so bad. Rude, egotistical, and really should just not be working with the public. Stop looking at yourself in the mirror guys. So bad that if they were hosting anything so few people showed up. Activities: 1. Games: On other ships/cruise lines, these games are usually packed. Games like "battle of the sexes", "the quest", they have always been so fun. I am not sure if they are not publicized enough or if this was just an older age cruise, but hardly anyone showed up. So sad because I love those type of games. The "marriage game" was handled by the young ones and they almost ruined that one too. 2. Trivia.....what can you say about trivia? It is usually fun, but this cruise was full of people who must live for trivia, so much so that they would argue and argue, yell at the cruise staff, it was a horrible display of human nature. I think it is because they had the cruise long trivia. It makes it too competitive and really defeats the whole purpose of trivia. Isn't it intended to help passengers meet other passengers? If you have cruise long trivia and are with the same team, then you don't really meet as many people as you could. It was fun to play, but not very much fun to listen to people complain about a question and yell at the host. Sad :( 3. Crafts: They had a cruise long craft class by Christine and Gordon that was very good. We made all kinds of cards and fun stuff. Hats off to Christine for all the good crafts. Loved it. They also had cruise staff directing some crafts. I liked the lei making classes. There was also other craft classes, but it was more like what I used to teach my 6 yr old girl scouts. 4. Karaoke: Usually love this, but this cruise had especially bad singers who thought they could sing and would sing over and over and over. One night someone sang "Stairway to heaven" 8 horrible minutes I will never get back. Why do they let people sing long songs like that? All the songs should be limited to 2-3 minutes. 5. They had ukulele class and hula class. They had a choir group. They both performed at some time in the cruise. Movies were good, but it is so darn cold in the theater. They should do what NCL does and have them run the same time in your cabin. They would run them later in the day, but it was during dinner or show,so? Weather: The sea was calm until about Bora Bora, but after that it was very, very rocky. So much so that it sounded like the ship was going to break in half one night, the night before the fiordlands. I have never been an such a cruise where the captain comes on and says to secure things in your cabin. One night I almost fell out of bed. Not Princesses's fault, just reporting on weather. Lots of rain. Ports: All good. We did miss Akaora because of weather. I loved every single port. I don't know if it was because I was just so happy to get off the "sick" ship............haha. Really, they were good ports. Ship: The Golden seemed to be in good shape. Some old worn spots on furniture, but it seemed like they kept it very clean. The could make better use of some space. I never saw many people in the specialty restaurants and also skywalkers was a bust. Musical Talent: Piano player was good. Singer Henry Hood, amazing and fun. Mosiac band was good and fun. The ship band was great!! Overall: Even with all the negative things, we still had fun. We have fun anywhere, doing anything. We met many people that will probably be life long friends. But, after this cruise, I am rethinking this type of vacation. It has been our favorite go to vacation, but may have to think long and hard about that in the future. All the sickness, bad entertainment, rocking and rolling............maybe it is time to stay on land. Read Less
Sail Date September 2015
Overall the experience was very good. Clean ship, good service, plentiful and good food, on board activities adequate...........but 1. The day excursions were not up to my expectations. Weather may have played a part in this review. ... Read More
Overall the experience was very good. Clean ship, good service, plentiful and good food, on board activities adequate...........but 1. The day excursions were not up to my expectations. Weather may have played a part in this review. Maui snorkeling in the crater was a poor showing of coral and/or fish, as well as the snorkeling in Tahiti and Bora Bora. Where are the fish and where is the different types of coral. Nowhere near the reefs in Fiji or the Virgin Islands. A complete disappointment and a waste of money. 2. The East side and West side excursions of American Samoa showed that there is nothing to see from a tour from the cruise ship. Really, a cemetery, a golf course and a tsunami memorial location are the best they can do. Then on the other side to Two Dollar Beach, seven buses for a beach that maybe can hold 50 people. 3. Entertainment was a bit on the weak side. Had to draw from their own singers for a couple of headline shows and from their side shows for others. 4. Fitness room was mainly running machines. Not much for the upper body fitness. Steam room was working a little over half the time. 5. Main pools were empty or not in use for over a week on a four week cruise. 6. Morning choice of juice was orange and sometimes apple. All others on request and a wait. . 7. Not much time spent in port of calls. Off ship by 9 AM, back on by 4PM. Read Less
Sail Date September 2015
We recently (3/3/2015) returned from a 22 day cruise on the Cunard Queen Elizabeth (QE) . The cruise was the San Francisco to Sidney, Australia segment of their around the world cruise. We truly expected to enjoy the ultimate in cruises ... Read More
We recently (3/3/2015) returned from a 22 day cruise on the Cunard Queen Elizabeth (QE) . The cruise was the San Francisco to Sidney, Australia segment of their around the world cruise. We truly expected to enjoy the ultimate in cruises but experienced one that was well below average. Actually it was the WORST cruise we have experienced. Based on this experience, we will never, ever go on a Cunard cruise again and strongly suggest all Americans to do the same. It started off very well with a very smooth, efficient and expeditious embarkation and from there it was downhill. There was no "Welcome Aboard" refreshment nor a warm or cold hand towel. The public spaces are beautifully decorated and maintained in a 1920's Art Deco style with the company's attitude and philosophy to match. You are assigned a dining room based on the fare that you paid for your room, with the bulk of the passengers assigned to the main dining room. There are areas of the ship that us peons are not allowed to enter. Right from the beginning you feel like a second class citizen. To add to this feeling, some of those passengers doing the entire round the world cruise seemed to look down on those of us that were only doing a segment of the entire cruise. Then onto the room, which was smaller then other cruise lines of comparable category (veranda) rooms. This provided less cabinet and drawer space. For a 3+ week cruise storage space is important. What was strikingly evident was the gross lack of amenities found compared to most other cruise lines. There were no flowers, fruit baskets, clocks, binoculars, umbrellas, beach bags, shoe shine kits, sewing kits and interactive TV. The beds for some reason seemed to cause a number of people back ache problems, our selves included. The ship was kept very cold by US standards which led to more then half of the passengers coming down with upper respiratory problems. My wife is now recovering from full blown pneumonia. One inducement to take this cruise was that the gratuities were included in the fare. Yet everything one purchased onboard, including drinks, amenities, photos, coffee, juices, water, jewelry, etc. had a 15% service charge added. It gave us the feeling that the cruise line was trying to extract every last cent from the passengers thereby covering the "included" gratuities. As another example, a behind the scenes tour of the ship was offered------for only $120 per person. Most other cruise lines provide a free bottle of chilled water when exiting the ship for the tours purchased from the cruise line. On the QE they charged $2.25 for a small bottle. Still another example of screw the passengers attitude, a bottle of Delicato chardonnay wine in the main dining room was priced at $35 plus the 15% service charge for a total of $40.35. Upon returning home, a check of the local wine store found that the retail price of that wine is $4.99 and the wholesale price about $2.40. That is one heck of a profit margin and a real assault to anyone knowing the least bit about wines. The food in the main dining room was poor to fair. To begin with the menus described the food in very unusual (for Americans) French terms such that one never knew what they were ordering. We considered that only 2 premium dinners were served in the 22 day cruise. One, a "Surf & Turf" (better described as Surf & Tough") and the other being a Surf & Surf consisting of lobster and shrimp. The other meals were just ordinary and mediocre, with a large number of lamb entrees (and we like lamb). The portions were generally small so that American men would probably leave the table unsatisfied. Never were scallops, oysters, caviar and crab served. For what this cruise cost, we were not about to pay for God only knows what one gets in the extra fare dining rooms. We tried the buffet for dinner one evening with our choice of food (their German special menu) to be cold, dried out and generally tasteless. It took 25 minutes to order and receive a glass of wine which we finally received after finishing our entrees. Lunches at the buffet were not much better. At times it was impossible to even make a decent lettuce salad and never were fresh mushroom, peppers, shrimp, anchovies and croutons available. The quality of the meats were particularly bad. Other then the 2 premium dinners, the best meals we had were lunches in the Pub. One was the "fish & chips" and the other the "steak and ale pie". The menus were definitely to satisfy the English palate. One way to improve the evening meal situation is to get to know your head waiter and have him provide the next day's menu. Then if you can't find something suitable, have him order things such as sashimi, escargot, shrimp cocktails, fillet, etc. for the following night. They were all available for the asking and mostly never on the regular menu. The bar, restaurant and hotel staffs were outstanding, accommodating and efficient. (They were tipped well in addition to the included gratuities.) The entertainment was varied and excellent, the invited performers as well as the ship's company singers and dancers. The various other musical performances were excellent. We found the guest speakers and lecturers to be outstanding presenters covering interesting and great topics. There are a couple of other minor items of note. We requested a shared table for dinner. We were assigned a table for 6, however the 3rd couple never showed up. Even after we requested a new couple be found to join us, the last 2 seats remained empty. Several nights we ate by ourselves as the second couple didn't make dinner. Also, the shore stays are way too short. Arrivals in port were usually around 8:00am and departures around 4:30 or 5:00pm. If you take a 1/2 day tour you barely have time to get back in time for dinner (early setting is 6:00pm) let alone have any time in the port. The ship had 6 formal nights which were known ahead of time and therefore acceptable. The need for men to wear a jacket, ties not required, for informal nights is ludicrous. Country club casual would have been much more appropriate for the informal nights. More English snobbery. We were told by several English passengers who had previously cruised on Cunard ships that the overall quality has gone down since Carnival purchased Cunard. Cunard should spend more time communicating to the passengers of all of the features and services available instead of spending so much time on their TV channels pushing sales of salon services, jewelry, etc. We didn't learn about the Pub until from friends well into the cruise. To begin with we thought is was just another extra fare restaurant. Don't get us entirely wrong. We had a good time, primarily because some great passengers we met and became friends with. In addition, the ports of call of American Samoa, Samoa, and Tonga were different and exciting. Revisiting New Zealand and Australia is always a joy. Read Less
Sail Date February 2015
We have just returned from a cruise on the Arcadia - San Francisco to Sydney - and to say we were disappointed is an understatement. Having sailed on the last world voyage of the Oriana in 2012 from Brisbane to San Francisco, we were ... Read More
We have just returned from a cruise on the Arcadia - San Francisco to Sydney - and to say we were disappointed is an understatement. Having sailed on the last world voyage of the Oriana in 2012 from Brisbane to San Francisco, we were expecting a similar fabulous experience. The Arcadia had little to offer in the way of entertainment, shops and service. It is widely known that once on board you are captive and the prices are steep, but the Arcadia did absolutely nothing to disguise or sweeten the pill. For instance: I purchased a Citizen Eco Watch in the morning and was told to come back at 3.00pm because I needed to have two links removed from the strap. I returned at 3.30pm and was told the strap had not yet been altered and to come back at 5.30pm. The job was done in two minutes while I waited. Often Bar Stewards on the pool decks spent a great deal of time chatting and were nowhere to be seen. I ordered a Tom Collins, but with lemonade and not Soda Water. This was just too hard because their computerised billing system stipulated Soda Water and it would throw their stocktaking out. It is a bit rich to charge £6 for a double Southern Comfort (without a mixer) when a litre bottle in the Duty Free Shop costs £19, bearing in mind the ship not only buys everything duty free, they get a quantity discount from the suppliers as well. In Maui the ship charged £51 for the whale watching tour. On shore, the most expensive tour on offer that we saw was US$16. The Laundrettes (on three decks with three washers and dryers each) were totally inadequate and situated in very tiny cubicles so that passengers using these facilities were squashed in like sardines. The washers took 45 minutes to complete the cycle - a ridiculous amount of time for clothes that merely needed to be freshened up. I have come to the conclusion that the enjoyment of a cruise also depends largely on the time of year and where one boards the ship as to the make up of the passengers, which of course the shipping line has no control over. For instance, sailing from Galveston on Thanksgiving on a family friendly ship can be a nightmare if the ship does not have an adult only area!   Read Less
Sail Date January 2015
After two nights in San Francisco we boarded Arcadia for our voyage through the Pacific to Sydney. First impression was that the staff looked worn out. I do understand that change-over days are hectic & tiring for them all. All went ... Read More
After two nights in San Francisco we boarded Arcadia for our voyage through the Pacific to Sydney. First impression was that the staff looked worn out. I do understand that change-over days are hectic & tiring for them all. All went reasonably well for the first four days & the food was quite acceptable but then my wife developed what we were to find out was called "Arcadia Cough", I got it a couple of days later. There were hundreds of passengers affected & the ship's shop had run out of stock of cough syrup before reaching San Francisco! Fortunately we were able to buy some from the medical section. This cough really did spoil our holiday in many ways. My wife was reluctant to go to theatre shows knowing she would most likely have a coughing fit. We chose not to join a dining table with other guests for the same reason, & we normally like to have interaction with others. The menus soon became repetitive & the entertainment just mediocre. Our grade EA deluxe balcony cabin, number A106 on deck eight, was reasonably well appointed but no bathrobes supplied. Last year on Aurora in the same cabin grade they were supplied. Also it was not possible to switch off the air conditioning, just turn it up or down; we're sure Arcadia Cough must be something to do with the air-con systems on this ship. The ports of call were a little disappointing too, Honolulu was our first stop...a horrible city! But Lahaina on Maui, our second stop, was lovely. Then five sea days before reaching Pago Pago in American Samoa, another disappointment as was the next stop in Apia, Samoa. Then on to Suva, Fiji, which was okay. Finally four more sea days to our final destination of Sydney. We only booked one shore excursion with P & O, a whale watching & lunch trip in Honolulu. Distinctly average food & an overpriced trip. We do tend to arrange our own excursions on arrival in ports, far more economical. Read Less
Sail Date January 2015
After two nights in San Francisco we boarded Arcadia for our voyage through the Pacific to Sydney. First impression was that the staff looked worn out. I do understand that change-over days are hectic & tiring for them all. All went ... Read More
After two nights in San Francisco we boarded Arcadia for our voyage through the Pacific to Sydney. First impression was that the staff looked worn out. I do understand that change-over days are hectic & tiring for them all. All went reasonably well for the first four days & the food was quite acceptable but then my wife developed what we were to find out was called "Arcadia Cough", I got it a couple of days later. There were hundreds of passengers affected & the ship's shop had run out of stock of cough syrup before reaching San Francisco! Fortunately we were able to buy some from the medical section. This cough really did spoil our holiday in many ways. My wife was reluctant to go to theatre shows knowing she would most likely have a coughing fit. We chose not to join a dining table with other guests for the same reason, & we normally like to have interaction with others. The menus soon became repetitive & the entertainment just mediocre. Our grade EA deluxe balcony cabin, number A106 on deck eight, was reasonably well appointed but no bathrobes supplied. Last year on Aurora in the same cabin grade they were supplied. Also it was not possible to switch off the air conditioning, just turn it up or down; we're sure Arcadia Cough must be something to do with the air-con systems on this ship. The ports of call were a little disappointing too, Honolulu was our first stop...a horrible city! But Lahaina on Maui, our second stop, was lovely. Then five sea days before reaching Pago Pago in American Samoa, another disappointment as was the next stop in Apia, Samoa. Then on to Suva, Fiji, which was okay. Finally four more sea days to our final destination of Sydney. We only booked one shore excursion with P & O, a whale watching & lunch trip in Honolulu. Distinctly average food & an overpriced trip. We do tend to arrange our own excursions on arrival in ports, far more economical. Read Less
Sail Date January 2015
My wife and I have just returned to Australia on the Celebrity Century arriving home last Friday 10th September . For the remaining time the Century is in service and for the benefit of those who may sail on her from Australia or Asia ... Read More
My wife and I have just returned to Australia on the Celebrity Century arriving home last Friday 10th September . For the remaining time the Century is in service and for the benefit of those who may sail on her from Australia or Asia until her sale to China next May?; I will add my thoughts on this wonderful ship. Our holiday was nothing less than fantastic and we met some wonderful people; a lot of them through the CC site over the last year before we travelled on her Firstly I will write the many plus points and then lastly a couple of negatives. We had a balcony cabin on deck 8 mid ships.in an excellent position. The condition of the cabin was pristine nothing was worn ; the bathroom spotlessly clean. The only marks I saw anywhere were a couple of scratches on the wardrobe handles; nothing you could really complain about on a 19 year old ship. The ship was in an excellent state considering it's age. Painting was ongoing even in ports. Cleaning was something that we were constantly aware of. Carpets & furniture were in good condition from what we saw; and I have a good eye for detail. The staff were very friendly and our cabin steward Munir and his assistant Rex were both worthy of extra tips even though we had pre paid gratuities. over this long voyage We chose Select dining and were really glad we did. This enabled us to sit at tables of 4 or 8 o10 Meeting new people was part of the holiday. One Dining room steward in Select stood out to us and we tried to sit at one of his tables each night; Salvatore from India . He was exceptional and once again he was worthy of a tip apart from the gratuities pre paid .A minor point; some of the dining room staff were a bit difficult to understand (not really a criticism) The food was good and varied as it was in the buffet . The menu was a bit repetitive maybe the same every 5 days or so; but this is really not a criticism as you could have the same menu each night if you wished. What was on the left side of menu or the menu for the day on right side. We liked the buffet on nights we just wanted to be by ourselves plus the fact they would cook up a stir fry or similar while you waited I am personally not into "Fine Dining" as such, As long as the food looks good tastes good and hits the spot I am happy (like a lot of Aussies) We did overhear one passenger complaining to her husband in the buffet one night. She constantly said that the food made her feel sick and how dare he bring her there to eat and said it must be where the peasants come to eat. I really feel that people like herself have no idea of the real world and how lucky we are. The entertainment was good for a cruise ship . Some shows were better than others and after 10 or 12 shows we started to tire of them even though there were some very good performers on board I thought the drinks a bit expensive but then again we allowed for that. The fact that all was in US dollars plus 15% gratuities The Captain was always about and made his presence felt and was friendly as well. He ate in the buffet and the main dining room Nothing has changed with people putting towels and books on deck chairs around the pool despite notices of the same .There were always chairs on the deck above the pool regardless. One thing we did like about the Century was the ship never seemed crowded. you could always find a chair in one of the many lounges and even the theatre where the shows were at night We only encountered maybe one day of rough seas out of San Francisco. The highlight of our trip was of course Bora Bora a magical place with pristine blue clear water and swimming with the sharks and sting rays was awesome Tender ports can be a bit slow in getting off but this is I suppose common to a ship with 1700 passengers and more from what we have experienced in the past My only criticism of the ship was the coffee served in Buffet and dining room. We found it almost borderline and probably the only area where Princess has it over Celebrity If there was a problem on the ship with accounts or whatever it was quickly rectified and the staff were extremely courteous in all our dealings and prompt to act. Now for the negative . The embarkation in San Francisco was nothing short of disgusting and my first voyage of 40 years back was better organised .To have people lined up for 2 hours to embark and half this time spent in the hot sun outside the terminal building leaves me wondering. Many were elderly there were no chairs provided to sit during this time and from what I could see about 6 or 7 staff to process 1700 in an antiquated terminal .Not a good start for us and others despite the excuse that the new terminal was not complete in San Francisco In Summary we loved our 23 days on the Century and we are sorry to see her go Read Less
Sail Date September 2014
We thoroughly enjoyed this cruise, the people we met and the experiences we had along the way. I have read another review of this voyage and find it hard to believe that we were on the same ship and same itinerary with that person. The ... Read More
We thoroughly enjoyed this cruise, the people we met and the experiences we had along the way. I have read another review of this voyage and find it hard to believe that we were on the same ship and same itinerary with that person. The only serious flaw we noted was the embarkation in San Francisco. There were clearly not enough Porters available to take Guests' bags. We were lucky -- our cab dropped us off directly in front of the porters and one grabbed the bags from the cab driver and had them on a trolley before we could protest that we were "cutting" a very long line. Once inside, the process was very smooth and we were immediately let on board. After a short wait (And the first of many Bacon Mushroom Cheeseburgers!) we were in our cabin. See the Cabin Review below for details on that. We were VERY happy with our decision to splurge on a Sky Suite for this cruise. We had Select Dining and generally had the same table with the same servers at the same time each night. The service and food were certainly up to Celebrity standards and, even though the menus did repeat after the first two weeks, there were always a few additions. One night I had only appetizers and an entree salad. There are certainly enough choice to satisfy everyone. Special thanks to Michal, Sergio and I (?) our wine server. I should mention that we really enjoy Room Service breakfast. It was delivered each morning fresh and hot by "Easy", our Butler. We especially enjoyed having a "real" table to eat at and also enjoyed eating on the balcony several times. The complimentary cappuccino was also a treat. The entertainment was quite good. We were very happy to see the "String Quartet" back for nice cocktail and background music. The shows were all very good as were most of the guest entertainers. A couple of them were outstanding -- A juggler/comedian who really does have some NEW tricks??? If you've done the backstage tour on this ship you realize how small that area is. The productions are all the more amazing because of that. The Guest Lecturers were all very good. June, the "Hawaiian Ambassador" was just that. She truly wanted to share her Aloha with the guests. Providing kits for 200+ guests to make Kukui nut leis and bracelets was certainly generous on the part of Celebrity. And her advice on how to legally get them into Australia was appreciated. (No worries, June. We declared them, showed them and were on our way. Mahalo!) Andrew Gregson was always informative and entertaining. The fact that he was traveling with his delightful wife and daughter made it all the better. His wit and style were a good introduction to Australia's laid back attitude about most things. He did quite well in spite of the handicap of having been born in Tasmania! ;) I'm having a mind block on the other two lecturers but they were both quite good. I especially enjoyed the Maritime lectures. The Activities Staff worked overtime providing a huge variety of events for just about any interest. A special shout out to David for handling most of the Trivia as well as to Jane and Gaby. I can't write about this cruise without mentioning Captain George Iatrou. This was our fourth cruise with him and he is as professional as he is charming. He is out and about and always approachable. This standard is also clearly meant to be met by all of the other Ship's Officers. We look forward to sailing with him again on Century one last time next year from Singapore to Dubai. One other person who made this an extraordinary cruise was "Fred the Astronomy Guy". We have sailed with him on two cruises and he volunteers to share his amazing knowledge of Astronomy with his fellow guests. His presentations are always well attended and this time he did a spectacular one up on Deck 14 Aft on the night of the lunar eclipse. Captain George had turned off the lights on the "X" on the stern funnel and all of the other lights up there. The views were amazing. Celebrity and/or other cruise lines need to latch on to this guy! I have read some grumbling about the Sunday port calls. We had read the itinerary and noticed that this would be the case. It was not a major problem. There was plenty to do in each port and, in fact, Papeete at least, was probably better enjoyed on a Sunday. The traffic there can be a nightmare on a work day. There has also been some comment on the use of "industrial ports". Not all ports around the world are equipped for cruise ships. In Nouméa, we were at the container port because of the local pilot's concern over winds that were expected later in the day. With very short notice, Celebrity organized shuttles to the "in town" Cruise Terminal. We knew that there would be a delay so stayed on board and, sadly, saw some very bad behavior by fellow guests. The crew was doing the best they could and there was no reason for the "herd mentality" to take over. We saw one "gentleman" repeatedly poke an officer in the stomach to make a point and another "lady" who was screaming so loudly we could hear her clearly on our balcony on Deck 12. Kudos to the crew and to CD John for trying to make the best of an ugly situation. All of this was playing out while the Officers and crew was also dealing with the death of a passenger. I could write much more but I wanted to get a review out there which I hope is realistic. We were certainly NOT disappointed by the ship, the crew or the cruise. My title says it all. Read Less
Sail Date September 2014
This is my review of the Celebrity Century cruise from San Francisco to Sydney Australia on September 16th 2014. I start by saying that I am presently still on this cruise as I am writing this review and regardless of the negative ... Read More
This is my review of the Celebrity Century cruise from San Francisco to Sydney Australia on September 16th 2014. I start by saying that I am presently still on this cruise as I am writing this review and regardless of the negative comments I am enjoying the cruise. I have had some cruises which have been better than others but I never allow the negatives to influence my enjoyment. Embarkation Horrible. I arrived at the Port at 10.45 am only to find that it was crowded to the point where it was nearly impossible to navigate to the right area. There was no easily distinguishable area to take luggage and after eventually finding a porter I was never quite sure that the person taking my luggage was the right person to do so,. It should be mandatory for all Porters to be wearing Cruise Line Uniform (shirt and ID) so that they can easily be found. Once inside the terminal I was ushered into a roped line for Elite guests and then the wait began. I was close to the front of the line but stood there for over 30 minutes while TWO, yes just TWO customer service officers tried to process people. The sun was making it impossible for one of the two to see her Computer screen so it was taking her an inordinate amount of time to check anyone in. By now the Elite line had grown considerably and I am told that many people in the line actually stood in line waiting for over an hour. When I complained I was told that they had started the check in early that was the reason for the delay. It doesn't make any sense to start early and not be in a position to process guests in an efficient and timely manner. It certainly does not make any sense to start a cruise by keeping Elite and above guests waiting in line for such a long time. My mark for this element of the cruise experience - FAIL CABIN I was traveling single and as I end up paying for 2 I could only afford an inside cabin. I have no problem with an inside cabin. However after final payment date Celebrity reduced the price of the Inside cabins by around $700. Their policy is not to provide that same pricing to those who booked early after final payment date. What they would do is give me an upgrade to the highest level of inside cabin, That is where I have a problem as the inside they assigned me on Deck 10 did not appear to be any better a cabin than that I already booked on Deck 5. The only difference being that it was higher up on the ship which has dubious benefits but on a negative had no sofa or seating area so to sit and watch tv or relax the only option was to lay on the bed. At least the cabin on deck 5 had a small sofa!. As you would expect the cabin was clean and apart from the lack of a seating area it was fine. My mark for this element of the cruise experience- FAIL Spa and gym Celebrity have teemed up with Canyon Ranch for spa services. I hope that this is peculiar to Celebrity Century which has been sold for delivery in 2015 but prices for almost everything are exorbitant. $200 massages and many other spa services including a fee of almost $30 per day for using the spa facilities such as Sauna and steam Room make this a "stay away zone". To make matters worse, on Century the steam room and sauna's which are common on most other ships in men's and women's changing rooms disappear and appear as a 4 man ( yes a 4 man) sauna in the changing room which is free but usually full. The only way for guests to show their displeasure at the rising and exorbitant charges for spa services is to "stay away" or at the very least wait until they discount the prices once they find that usage is down. I always wonder why guests would pay $200/250 for a service they can easily get on land for less than half that price. As long as you are willing to pay then expect spa services to continue to rise. Photo services Another "stay away" area is the ships Photo services. They are persistent if nothing else in badgering you in the dining room, and around the ship to have your photo taken but once again want to charge an exorbitant $25 for a single photograph. They literally destroy hundreds of unsold photographs every cruise yet still insist in trying to pry $25 for every photo they sell. Its in cruisers hands to simply let them take as many photographs as they want but buy none. They will soon realize that we are not "money machines" and either get out of the ships all together or at the very least price the Photographs at more reasonable prices. $9.99 is more than enough and if they won't do that, simply take your digital camera and take your own. I assure you that they will look just as good and cost you little or nothing. At one stop in Bora Bora there was a sign which simply said " welcome to Bora Bora"which it appears the staff had brought from the ship. When I tried to take a picture of this sign - the first of my photo's for that day a member of the photography staff quickly inserted herself in front if the sign and prohibited me from taking a picture of the sign. Seemingly it belonged to the photo staff and could only be used as a background for pictures they took. Talk about being childish. It, a small thing but left a bad taste and certainly when I mentioned this to others on the cruise created great disbelief and a degree of laughter. I found another sign which I guess the people of Bora Bora are happy to have you photograph! Food Main Restaurant Your views on the quality of food on board a ship to a large extent depends on what you are used to eating. If you are someone who rarely cooks or who is not particularly a good cook then food on a cruise will invariably be thought of as very good. On the other hand if you are something of a foodie, eat at nice restaurants and are considered a good cook at home food on a ship could well be considered ok but not great. There is nearly always something on the menu you can eat and enjoy but it mostly lacks flavour but then how do you cook 2000 meals at a time that meets everyone's pallet. The biggest complaint I hear is the lack of imagination and a great deal of repetition in the menu. On this cruise repetition was certainly an issue but then it was a 23 day cruise. The menu was just recycled every 7 days. There were certainly some meals I enjoyed but mostly it was fine nothing spectacular but fine. Now I would guess that the majority of passengers had good service from their waiters. These guys and girls work hard and long and consistently meet or exceed your service expectations. Unfortunately the table of 8 on which I was placed did not enjoy that service. Invariably the waiter ( who was a nice young man) was on his own trying to serve 3 large tables of 8. The assistant waiter didn't appear at all for a few days and when he or someone else did it was for a few minutes and then they disappeared again. We waited a long time between courses and even after 3 of us complained to the Head Waiter it didn't get any better. The waiter seemed confused and rushed and often something asked for didn't appear until after you had almost finished your meal. Food was fine but service not at all good. Buffet What a pity. The selection wasn't great but generally the food was of decent quality and that would have been fine had it not been for the fact that most of the food was Luke warm at best and sometimes cold. This problem isn't restricted to this ship. It seems that many ships seem to have great difficulty with maintaining the temperature of the hot items on the buffet. This not only spoils the eating experience but could result in food poisoning if proper temperatures are not maintained. I am amazed that the majority seem it just accept it rather than complain. To do nothing only gives them the view that all is well when in fact it is not. Only when guests make a point of complaining when food is not at a decent temperature will they do anything about it. Specialty restaurants The Century had just one Speciality Restaurant - Murano. Now I love to eat well and over the years have had hundreds of meals at the various restaurants on RCL and Celebrity notably at Chops and Portofino. Even though I have paid for meals within the cruise price, I have never worried about paying a little more for the special treatment and higher quality food at these restaurants. However at an additional $25 and $30 that was reasonable. Now Celebrity want to charge you $50 per person plus 15% gratuity to eat at Murano, The only way to get it cheaper is to commit to 3 or 5 meal packages at discounts of 20-35%. Unless you are prepared to buy one of these packages this is another "stay away" zone. I have eaten here 4 times so far and while the service has been great and the food very good, it does not rate a 5 star category or the $50 plus gratuity extra they ask particularly as you have already paid the cruise line once for your food. My overall rating for this specialty restaurant. FAIL Ports of call This is a 23 day cruise and one which I took purely as what I hoped would be a pleasant and alternative way of travel from simply flying. Hence ports of call were not my primarily motivation for taking the cruise. There were only 6 ports - 2 in Hawaii, Papeete, Bora Bora, Fiji, And New Caledonia before reaching Sydney. Whoever planned this itinerary did a lousy job as on 3 of these Ports we arrived on a Sunday and except for Honolulu we found almost everything desolate and shops, stores, and attractions closed. With so few ports this was a big disappointment and shows poor planning by the cruise line. When we arrived in Fiji to add insult to injury the ship docked and guests had to exit and enter the ship on a gangway which was so low in the water that we had to bend almost in two to get on and off the ship. In 50 cruises I have never seen this before and hope I don't have to endure it again. With an average age in the 60's this was extremely difficult for many passengers. Ships excursions Now we come to the ships excursions. Up until recently you could get a 4 hour city tour for around $65/75 but on recent cruises this has steadily got more expensive so that it's now rare to find any excursion under $100/150. Frankly many passengers are using cruise critic to form their own excursion groups paying less than half of the ship's excursion costs for exactly the same tour. If you can make up a group of 4/6 you can often get a small taxi/van to take you on tours which you can tailor make to your needs for considerably less than that charged by the cruise line. So unfortunately here again I have to give Celebrity a FAIL for their excursions. You can still enjoy these excursions without these exorbitant costs. Now, if you simply book the best itinerary on the best ship at the best price for your specific needs and take your own photo's, only eat in the restaurant included with your price and get your massages on land or wait for discounted prices and arrange your own tours you can have a great cruise at a very reasonable price. The cruise is what you make it yourself and I can have a wonderful time without paying these exorbitant rates for on ship services which simply are not worth the money. I'm off on another celebrity cruise in January - and like this one I know I will have a great time at a reasonable cost. Shops on Board On this cruise I found the items on sale in the shops on board expensive. I also found that the essential items, toiletries, etc had a very poor selection. Given this was a 23 day cruise items such as deodorant, toothpaste, and small first aid items ( antibiotic creams for small cuts or anti itch creams for bites, sunburns etc virtually non existent). This day and age with so many restrictions on what you can bring on a flight these items are so much more appreciated. I personally don't know why people need to buy $1000 watches etc on a cruise ship but every man to his own I guess. One thing if you can carry them at the end of the cruise is the fact that bottles of spirits/ liquors etc are very cheap on board. Pity that buying an individual drink with gratuity is usually over $7.00. The jury is still out regarding the liquor packages. If you are a big drinker then perhaps $60 per day and up is a good deal but those who find these packages cheap are thus encouraged to drink far too much. I can't figure how the cruise line makes money on these packages because I would think only those people who know they will drink more than the daily cost will buy them. Boarding passes A final word if you want to get your Boarding Pass on the ship for your flight home the ship introduced a fee. I don't know how much it was as I didn't use this service but however much it costs it is simply too much!!! In summary I had a good time. Mainly because I didn't expect more than I got and as always I met some very nice people and most of the young waiters and other service personnel were truly wonderful. Keep away from the exorbitant costly on board services and you will enjoy a great trip and not get bankrupt in the process. As far as the Century is concerned- it has been sold effective some time in 2015- it will NOT be a loss to the Celebrity brand. Read Less
Sail Date September 2014
First time with P&O but definitely the last. We were celebrating our Golden Wedding Anniversary and what a let down. We first cruised for our Silver Wedding Anniversary and have cruised several times since and always been delighted, ... Read More
First time with P&O but definitely the last. We were celebrating our Golden Wedding Anniversary and what a let down. We first cruised for our Silver Wedding Anniversary and have cruised several times since and always been delighted, but the Aurora was enough to put anyone off cruising for ever. The food was very mediocre at best, extremely poor most of the time. Not a patch on the food we were served on the many times we have been with Royal Carribean. The tours were very poor and very expensive. The veranda was dirty and when we complained to reception they werent even interested. I wasnt even asked my cabin no or my name. The attitude of all the staff was very complacent. The entertainment was poor and the Headliners were very amatuerist. When we needed to use the Lifeboats as tenders in the Bay of Islands one of them didnt even work. I dread to think what would have happened if we had needed them in an emergency. Lifeboats should be checked weekly. Read Less
Sail Date January 2014
This was my 14th cruise with Princess as always it was great! Since I live in the San Francisco area I decide to do the back to back SF to Sydney and back to LA. I came across the Princess 2 for 1 sale and jumped on it making it almost as ... Read More
This was my 14th cruise with Princess as always it was great! Since I live in the San Francisco area I decide to do the back to back SF to Sydney and back to LA. I came across the Princess 2 for 1 sale and jumped on it making it almost as cheap to sail back to LA as it would have been to fly home. 59 days on the Star was great! The Star Princess has been around for a while and it's still beautiful! Most everything was clean and shiny. The only area that looks worn is on the top deck where the golf course Astroturf is a bit worn. I had an inside cabin and it was clean and well maintained and the cabin steward was great. The public rooms are great and the ship is easy to navigate. The Princess Theater makes watching the entertainment great wherever you may be sitting. I used the internet cafe almost everyday and rarely had to wait for a terminal. The Food Since I have food allergies I eat both breakfast and lunch at the Horizon Court everyday. For breakfast I usually have fruit and hot cereal of which there is always an abundant supply of fruit, my favorite being the papaya of which you may have to ask for. The fruit was always fresh, ripe and delicious. For lunch I made a huge salad of which there was always a great selection of veggies to choose from. I like to put cranberry sauce on my salad and the Horizon Court staff always made sure I had some everyday. One thing I have found on cruise ships is that you can ask for almost any food item and the staff will get it for you, they almost never say no! One of the great things about this style princess ship is that the Horizon Court is in the back of the ship with plenty of inside seating as well as on the very back you can sit outside on the deck overlooking the pool and the ocean while eating on the bar/railing that has built in stools to sit on. As long as it isn't raining I dine here for every breakfast, lunch and snack for the whole cruise, it's wonderful and scenic (I was on the Golden Princess out of San Francisco on a Mexican Riviera cruise and did the same). For dinner I have always eaten in the Botticelli restaurant at the later seating. This way I don't have to rush to dinner and have the same waiter and table mates each night. All the dinners were great every night. I order a special salad, sautEed vegetables and a yam for each night, while choosing between the various fish, lamb and chicken items. For dessert I either had a bowl of berries, chocolate cake (that they made without eggs for me) or they made me an Apple Tart Tatin. Like I said if you ask they will make it for you. The head waitress and crew were always friendly and efficient, getting me everything I asked for. The Service I found the staff to be very helpful - it seemed every time I turned around there was someone with a name badge asking if they could get me something. Everyone from the Passenger Services Desk to the Deck Crew was willing to go the extra mile to help. My cabin steward had my cabin clean and well stocked all the time and she was always around most every time I was going to or leaving my cabin. The Entertainment The Emerald Princess Dancers did a good job with their shows and the ventriloquist was amazing and the special singers, comedians, magicians were fabulous! Since we were travel such a long distance and there were so many Aussies on the ship we had quite a few Aussie entertainers. The theater is great from just about any seat and one should be aware that if you sit up in the very front, you have a chance of being asked to come on stage and participate with the performer. The other entertainment was in the Explorer Lounge where I saw the juggler, a comedian and the singer, all the shows were great. Lotus Spa and Gym I hit the gym almost every afternoon - I lift weights rather than do cardio so there were no real problems waiting for the machines. The equipment was enough for me to do maintenance workouts. I was there at 4-5pm and there was never any waiting for equipment. Everything was clean and worked! In the mornings I walked the Promenade deck for an hour everyday at sea to burn some extra calories so I could eat more chocolate cake and since I never use the elevators, I didn't gain a pound on this trip! Excursions I booked tours through Princess for peace of mind regarding schedules and getting back to the ship on time. If it's a Princess tour, they'll wait for you if it's late getting back to the ship. We were always right on schedule, arriving spot on time at every port.. We were given assembly times for our pre-booked tours and they were orderly and we got off the ship without too much delay. All in all the process was organized and smooth. Disembarkation On the mornings of disembarkation I usually get up eat breakfast and find a nice lounge chair either on top deck if it's nice or down on the promenade deck and wait there for my time disembark. Princess's new disembarkation procedure works beautifully when CUSTOMS has their act together, which they did. It felt good to get back home with only a 50 minute flight to SF. Summary Being on the ship for 2 months was great and traveling to the South pacific was amazing! The weather going down was exceptional; the wind was at our back most of the way making it warm and sunny almost every day until we got to central New Zealand which was a bit cool and rainy at times. Sydney was spectacular, warm and sunny and beautiful. It was great to stay on the ship and head back to LA and not have to deal with a 14 hour flight, let alone the time change jet lag drama. The sail back was cooler and windier, the ports were great and the snorkeling was fantastic. Bora Bora was my favorite. Princess always does a great job and I've already booked my next Princess cruise in the Mediterranean this October on the Ruby. Read Less
Sail Date September 2009
My husband Greg and I, both age 52, cruised for 32 days aboard the Dawn Princess, traveling from San Francisco to Sydney. I am a deputy district attorney and he is a retired sheriff's deputy. The trip was great. It was relaxing and ... Read More
My husband Greg and I, both age 52, cruised for 32 days aboard the Dawn Princess, traveling from San Francisco to Sydney. I am a deputy district attorney and he is a retired sheriff's deputy. The trip was great. It was relaxing and fun, and overall the staff was wonderful. We really got to know the staff on a cruise this long the maitre d' and waiters, the gym trainers, photography and excursion staff, and even the shop girls. If I had it to do all over again, I would: 1. Take along my own blow dryer. The old hotel-type blow dryer in the room was terrible. 2. Bring binoculars!!! We missed a lot by not having any. 3. Ask for an egg crate mattress topper the first second of the cruise. The beds were terribly hard. 4. Bring my own laptop. I spent an obscene amount of money at the Internet Cafe just to write home. With one's own laptop, one can compose off-line and then log on to send the emails. The Internet Cafe computers will not let you compose off-line. 5. Never, ever, ever leave a valuable wedding ring out on the table in the cabin. Mine disappeared the last day of the cruise. Following is a series of "Cruise Reports" I sent family & friends during the trip. ********************************************************* CRUISE REPORT No. 1 - Day 2, DAY AT SEA At the Internet Cafe for the 1st time. It costs an arm & leg of course, 250 min for $100, which works out to 40 cents per minute. Much cheaper than pay-as-you-go for 75 cents/min. I managed to nab the last entry blank for the free drawing for up to 500 minute, but there were no more for Greg; the Internet manager said "no more entries", which is bogus. Greg marched off to the Purser to complain. The Net is pretty fast at least right now. Impressions so far: 1. Ship is very small compared to others we've been on, particularly the only other Princess ship we've experienced, Diamond Princess. 2. Our fellow passengers are mainly geriatric, as expected. We are definitely in the minority age-wise. There is a handful of babies/kids, so scarce you rarely see them. This a.m. we were wondering what happens if someone dies on ship? Is there a morgue in the infirmary? LOL. 3. We were the ONLY diners at our Table-For-8 last night. Nobody else showed up. Perhaps it was due to many people not yet receiving luggage and the Oldsters falling asleep early? Hopefully more will turn up tonight; if not the Dining Manager said he'll move us to another table. I do like our waiter, a friendly Filipino named Rolly, and assistant waiter, Percy. Most of the crew is Filipino, including our steward Edwin. 4. The cabin is small, especially compared to the one we had on the last cruise we took, Carnival, with the kids. But we managed to find places for everything. The beds were in twin formation and I at first wanted them put together, but Greg talked me out of it. There's more room as twins. If we want to get 'friendly' he'll visit (don't read that line, kids - lol - NOBODY wants to think about their parents 'doing it'). 5. We're celebrating our 15th anniversary tonight. There were balloons on our doorway this a.m. 6. The food is variable in quality: good turkey yesterday at the welcome buffet; dinner (prime rib) was basically tasteless; mushroom soup, grainy. Fettuccine wonderful, but I only ate a little as to not fill up. Not used to so much food any more. Had a good omelet this a.m. Coffee and juice - blah. 7. Tonight is first formal night and captain's cocktail party. 8. The ship is rocky and it's on the coolish side. 9. Show last night that we managed to attend (sleepy as we were) was dancers and a comedian who was not terribly funny, but all right. We had a group of folks from Perth behind us. They were fun. I signed up for a 'bulk pass' for spin classes in the gym. That will ensure that I go because I already paid! ==================================================== CRUISE REPORT No. 2 It is the 3rd day of the cruise, 2nd full sea day. We are making our way slowly toward Hawaii.... takes 5 days to sail there. The ship holds 1,950 passengers, compared to the Diamond's 2,670. It seems a lot smaller. A smaller ship is easier to navigate through, although we enjoyed the 'big ship' atmosphere of the Diamond. Latest impressions: 1. Last night we were STILL the only diners at our Table-for-8. The Maitre 'd said that two couples changed to 'anytime dining' and the 3rd never materialized. So he spoke to 2 couples at another table who have agreed to come over tonight. Hopefully we'll hit it off and we'll have some dining mates. It's very lonely eating alone every night. Particularly last night, when we celebrated our anniversary. The ship gave us wine (not very good wine, lol) and a little cake and we had nobody to celebrate with except the wait staff. :-( 2. Bad stuff: I'm going to turn the computer over to Greg for this part: ******** I arrived at the Venetian restaurant waiting for Karen and thought it would be nice to have a table next to the window. I asked the Head Waiter for one, and he said there was none available. I asked if he would mind if I looked. I went around and found an empty table by the window. I looked for the Headwaiter, caught his eye and pointed to the table with my hand. He quickly walked over to me, pointed at me and said, "I run this floor, not you!" I was horrified that he would talk to me in such a manner and I said, "Excuse me?" Then he said in a demanding tone, "What is your cabin number!?" I asked why he would need that and he said, "Obviously you are not happy with my service, so I was going to make a report of the incident." I told him that there was no need for that, because I was going to report him immediately, and I walked out. I told the front desk, who then directed me to the maitre d'. I accidentally interrupted a meeting he was having with some other staff. He and the staff were appalled that the waiter had said that and told us he would take care of it. I also met the maitre d's boss, the head of food and beverage. A nice "commander", white uniform with bars on her shoulders. She was from the Netherlands (like my grandfather). I told her about the incident, too. I hope the headwaiter is doing dishes for the remainder of the cruise. (Karen now: We ended up lunching at the Italian specialty restaurant for pizza, where we had a charming waiter who taught us a few words of the Filipino language. That helped offset the terrible experience above.) ************ 3. The beds are SOOOOOOOOOOOO hard. Hardest beds I've ever slept on!!! But I guess one gets used to most everything. As for the cabin being cool, that's partly due to the thermostat, which we need to play around with. 4. Eating: Ate TOO much. Greg says he's going to stop because he doesn't want his paunch back. We took gobs of formal portraits last night and he looks great in his 'monkey suit' tux. I am still too zaftig :-( Today we're going to walk the Promenade Deck and I have spin (bicycle) class again at 4. 5. The shows last night were 'Piano Man' and a comedian, but after dinner we took off our formal gear and decided we were too tired to enjoy a show, so we just crashed! =========================================================== CRUISE REPORT No. 3: Latest impressions: 1. We finally got Table Mates! Neville, the maitre d', came through and brought over 2 young couples from a table for 10 where 6 people were no-shows. Both were very nice. One couple. Antoine and Stacey, is from Canberra, Australia. They can't be more than 30, if that. He's in I.T. and she's a security & exchange advisor. The second young couple - Greg & Anne - are newlyweds from New Mexico. Greg was a stenographer for the White House until recently. He got to ride on Air Force One with the president. Also, a couple originally assigned to our table finally appeared, an older retired couple named Howard and Donna. So we had a full house last night, lively conversation, and a much more pleasant dining experience. Hope everyone continues to show up. 2. Last night we saw 'Piano Man' in the Princess Theater which was pretty good, and later the same comedian who was at the welcome show. He was good, not great, but good. 3. We bought a couple of formal pics that came out very nice. 4. Greg walked 10 laps around the Promenade Deck yesterday - 3 laps is 1 mile. Later he walked 4 laps with me, after I did my 2nd spin class. My butt hurts from that hard bike seat; wish I had brought my padded bike shorts, darn it darn it. 5. Right now we're eavesdropping on the Photoshop class being given here in the Internet Cafe. We're thinking of signing up for classes because the teacher seems very good. It's pricey, $25 lesson, but you can buy a package for somewhat less. (1 free if you buy 3.) 6. What's on tap for today? Free digital photo class given by one of the photogs (you can buy future classes...always a sales pitch, lol). Game of scrabble with the game we nabbed from the Game Room. My 4 p.m. Spin class. Lying around. Ah this is the life..... ============================================================== CRUISE REPORT No. 4 Back on the Internet after 2 days away. Here is my latest cruise report: We are now sailing toward Christmas Island aka Kiritimati. It was originally planned as a port call, but the captain announced a few days ago that we would simply cruise around it (he called it 'scenic cruising') because the ship would get stuck in sandbars if it tried to dock. Ergo, we are beginning 5 sea days in a row before we reach the next actual port, Bora Bora in French Polynesia. We took the cruise mainly FOR the 'sea days', so we don't mind. That said, we did enjoy our two days in port in Hawaii. Yesterday we were in Kona. We "tendered" into the small port along with the Tahiti Princess. We were very excited about our excursion, which was advertised as below: "Big Island Spectacular Helicopter Tour: A 2-hr helicopter flight will introduce you to some of the most spectacular sights on the Big Island from the air. Discover the Big Island's beauty & volcanic fury on this extensive aerial tour. Fly over Kilauea's most recent eruption sites & follow the surface activity down to the devastated village of Kalapena. View lava flows, the Puna Forest & black-sand beaches formed of lava that has been cooled by the water & ground smooth as glass by the sea. Explore the lush rainforests of the Hamakua Coast. Pass through the deep & immense tropical valleys of the Kohala Mts with waterfalls tumbling 1000's of feet - the perfect ending to your Big Island spectacular." The only part we got to do was the italicized portion, the rain forests! NO volcanoes to view, no lava! We were quite upset by the way it came about: we were met at port by the helicopter co., Blue Hawaiian Helicopters. We were all weighed to ensure we were under the 250# maximum (even with a week's of cruise food under our belts, we made it easily lol). Then a 50-min van ride to the helicopter site. Then a safety briefing, orientation, and fitting with safety devices. THEN an announcement: due to weather (rain), we would not be flying over the lava sites. They said we could either cancel completely and receive a full refund, or pay 1/2 for the "Kohala Coast Adventure" to see the rain forest and waterfalls. The latter cost was $250. We reluctantly agreed because we'd come all that way and would have wasted most of the day at port. The flight was just ok, not worth that much money for sure. We later complained to the Excursions Desk and just now found out that we're being refunded an additional $50 so the total cost is now $200 each (rather than the $439 originally paid for the whole trip). So, no lava, no volcanoes. That was the sole reason Greg wanted to do the helicopter tour. We suspect they knew when we were at the dock that they couldn't fly the lava part but didn't want to tell us then, because everyone might cancel and they'd lose all the $. A German couple we met from the Tahiti Princess wasted ALL day because they were told to delay their 10:45 a.m. flight to ours, and then were carted all the way in to the heliport, and then told 'no lava flight'. They canceled and forlornly drove back to the dock with us. Back at the dock, we visited the local Wal-Mart. I bought a $13 travel hair dryer because I hate the hair dryer in the cabin; it's an old flat hotel type that takes frickin' for-ever to dry one's hair. Wish I'd brought my own. $13 is a small price to pay for not having to hassle with that crummy ship blow-dryer. Also bought some souvenirs WAAAAY cheaper than on port. Back on ship, decided to dine at the Sterling Steak House. It's $15 per person. We were the only diners at 6 p.m. Even had a personal visit by the Maitre d', Neville. I have seen more of this Maitre d' on this cruise so far, than all my other cruises combined.....I barely knew WHO the Maitre d' *was* on the other cruises. He is a very nice man. The steak at the Sterling was wonderful. We both had 'butterflied' filet mignon, medium. It was perfect. Melted in one's mouth. You cannot get that good a cut of meat anywhere else on the ship. Dessert, raspberry crème brulee and chocolate dipped strawberries (which I got to go in a tin foil swan). The soup (clam chowder) and salad (Caesar) were just so-so. Unfortunately our dining experience was marred by something dumb that I did - during dinner, I accidentally 'formatted' my 4-gig photo card inside my camera, effectively wiping out a week's worth of cruise photos! Suddenly it said 'no image' when I tried to go back. I panicked and Greg told me that there is recovery software out there. After we ate we high-tailed it to the Photo Desk where the kindly photogs began a laborious process of recovering what they could with a SanDisk recovery program on their computer. (Apparently I'm not the only numskull who's done this.) For $9.99 they put my images on a CD...it took two. They saved most of my pictures. Some were lost and some were corrupted. I have a 2nd 4G card, so I'm not going to use the original card because Greg might be able to recover more at home. Lesson learned: NEVER mess with the formatting control when there are pics on the disk! (Note written to my 18-year-old daughter Stephanie....Oh Stephanie! I promised you to "G", the nice 27-year-old Hungarian photo dude, if he saved my photos....he has a lot of land in Hungary....he asked this a.m. if I'd called you! I showed him your picture and he likes you. LOL!!!!) The Wal-Mart shuttle driver in Kona told us something startling: someone on our ship died and was carried out in the a.m.! He said that was why all the police cars were on the dock. He said they call our cruises "for the newly wed and the newly dead". Remember I was wondering if they have a morgue in the infirmary for people who die on the cruise?! I guess they do! What a way to go.... Today's plans: at noon we are meeting Derek's parents' friends for lunch. (Derek is Greg's lifelong friend, best man at our wedding; his parents' best buds from Toronto are on this cruise! We've spoken on the cabin phone w/them and will meet them at last today.) Then at 1 p.m. I am taking a photo class from Will, the ship's Cockney speaking photog (who assisted the Hungarian in recovering my photos....but I have just one daughter to offer, lol). At 4 is my Spin class with the good looking sexy Aussie/Brit trainers, and tonight is 'Contemporary Country' singing and a comedy hypnosis show (probably one of those fake hypnosis things)! ============================================================ Addendum to CRUISE REPORT No. 4 Just realized I never reported on Honolulu! We assembled in the Princess Theater at 8:30 a.m. for our tour. I've certainly enjoyed the 1-hr time turning back for 3 nights in a row; that gave us the sleep we needed. We were herded out of the ship (like Dad said, with a smaller ship it wasn't like a small invasion of a country) and onto buses. Our driver-guide who called himself "Cousin Goodlooking" from Roberts Tours was very funny and informative. He used a conch shell to call us back to the bus each time we stopped. He narrated the entire trip which took us nearly 3/4 of the way around the island of Oahu. We stopped at a scenic cliff where warriors were forced to their death. Then the Dole Pineapple Factory for 1/2 hr, long enough just to roam the gift shop (I got a lovely turtle necklace). Next stop, Sunset Beach, the famous surfing beach. I wandered into the water planning just to get my feet wet, but the waves kicked up and I got soaked to my crotch. It was nice and warm! I stopped at the restroom; by then everyone else was on the bus; Greg talked the driver into driving forward and making me think I was being left. (!!) Hmmph. Then we headed to our destination, the Polynesian Cultural Center. It's smack in the middle of Mormon Town. The Mormon missionaries settled in this town called Lanai (sp) and built a large Temple and Brigham Young University, Hawaii. The cultural center belongs to them and is staffed by work-study students from the university. They're actually from Tonga, Samoa, and the other villages represented. They get room, board, a free education, and a stipend to work there; not a bad deal. It was hot hot hot there, esp during the canoe show where I sat in the blazing sun. But quite interesting. The BBQ lunch was so -so very tough chicken. We hung out at the cultural center with a young couple from Switzerland, Francesco & Silvia (or something like that) who live across the hall from us on the ship. He's a police officer and she works at a bank. The ride back was similarly narrated. We made one stop at a Kona Coffee House where we got free coffee and macadamia nut samples. Back at the dock, we roamed the nearby shopping area. Greg wanted to go to Waikiki but it was getting late so we skipped it and went back on the ship. Dinner and then we collapsed exhausted into bed! ======================================================== CRUISE REPORT No. 5 Today is the 2nd of 5 sea days as we meander toward Bora Bora. Tomorrow is 'scenic cruising' around Christmas Island. The weather has changed to *muggy*. Greg walked/ran 4 miles this a.m. & came back dripping wet from the humidity. While we ate breakfast a short time ago, it was raining outside. The weather report said 80's with 80% humidity. Yesterday we had a nice day; lunched with Derek's family friends the Irwins from Toronto, whom we found very nice. Then we watched "Kung Fu Panda" in the Princess Theater (I fell asleep during the middle...I seem to do that at movies, lol). I missed the Photo class due to lunch running long, but it's being repeated today, so I will go then. I did my Spin class/workout in the afternoon. and at 7 p.m. watched the country show (without Greg). Then dinner. Then we went to a "comedy hypnotist" show where I volunteered to participate, and from what everyone's told me, I was the life of the party! I was determined not to get kicked off like I was on Carnival for smiling. Well, I played my role very well! And believe it or not, towards the end I believe I *was* hypnotized because I was totally energized afterwards, felt 'high', and was running like the Energizer Bunny til about 1 a.m.! Today I'm the cruise celebrity with tons of people coming up to me and telling me how funny I was, and asking if I was really hypnotized. Good thing I was energized, because we ended up doing laundry til 1:30 a.m. (by then I was tiiiiiired). The dinky Laundromats here are very inadequate for the number of passengers coupled with this being a very long cruise where doing laundry is necessary. Each laundry room, just one per floor, has just TWO washer-dryer stacked combos. The Diamond had quite a few more, as did the Carnival ships we took. That room is stuffed from dawn to late evening. It's supposed to close at 10 p.m. but we used it long after that. Using the ship's laundry service would be very expensive as they charge quite a bit per piece, not per bag as Don and family enjoyed on Holland-American. At dinner we had just one couple joining us, the older couple originally assigned to our table. No sign of either young couple. The Australians have been missing in action for 3 nights. We have fun with whoever shows up. This a.m. we joined a "police & firefighters get-together" in one of the lounges. About 30 retired cops/firefighters turned up from the US, Canada, and Australia. Everyone was retired but me. I was the only deputy DA there, and only woman! We enjoyed the gathering. Most fun was a retired Jewish NYPD cop telling us about working undercover among the Hasidim. He's from Queens so was happy to hear my family hails from there, at least once they made it to the U.S. The retired NYPD cop was working for the railroad when the 2nd jet flew into the 2nd World Trade tower....he watched it happen. The ship's captain inspired cheers yesterday at lunch when he announced over the P.A. that we will now receive Fox News on the stateroom TVs. The rest of the cable is still 'out' but at least we can get some news. So we heard about the Senate vote for the bailout yesterday. No ship newspapers any more....one passenger told me she was told they cause too much 'paper waste'. I don't remember if I mentioned that we received an add'l $50 off our truncated helicopter ride, for a total of $200 each, which is a bit more palatable. Complaining apparently does work. Another lazy day today; my photo class, Spin at 4, and I guess watching the VP debate on the stateroom telly. Comedy show tonight. It is so wonderful to just relax when my usual life is so hectic and go-go-go all the time. ======================================================== CRUISE REPORT No. 6 We just finished a 2-hr 'scenic cruising' around Christmas Island, part of the Line Islands between Hawaii and French Polynesia. The captain explained that there is little to see and the prettiest way is from a distance. Apparently a lot of WW II litter remains on the island and they're not so nice up close. Also since there's so little to do people would tender over, wander about for 10-20 min. and then demand to be tendered back, but would have to wait an hr or more in the hot sun because others were still being tendered over. Also they could only bring about 60 at a time (rather than the usual 100) to avoid being stuck in sandbars. We had a great view from our own cabin. Wish we'd brought binoculars. Neighbors loaned us theirs a couple times. Hoped to see sea life but did not, other than a large sea turtle that made a couple of brief appearances. Now we begin a couple more sea days until our first port in French Polynesia, Bora Bora, where we are taking a 2-tank scuba dive. We booked tours in Papeete and Moorea as well. Yesterday was lazy....took the photo class, did my Spin class + a circuit class, had dinner and watched a comedy show (Don Ware, black comedian from L.A. - he was just ok...spent a lot of time insulting Germans and old people, lol). Tonight they're showing "Swing Vote" which we haven't yet seen, so we'll attend. People came up to me all day yesterday exclaiming about the hypnosis show and how funny I was. I was a minor celebrity! I read in a cruise review that the ship has 'egg crate' mattress toppers! I immediately asked our steward. He said he'd do what he could. At bedtime we had pillow top mattress toppers, not exactly egg crate, but they do soften the hard mattress quite a bit. We're happier. I wish I had read that particular cruise review earlier! One needs to ask for the topper immediately, apparently. A very little known fact. I'll know for next time. CRUISE REPORT No. 7 I am having a hard time keeping days/dates straight. Hmm, according to the Princess Patter it's Sat. Oct. 4th. We have been on this ship for......10 days! The big 'activity' today was crossing the equator. The ship had a big ceremony featuring King Neptune on the deck. We skipped it. I saw it on the Diamond Princess in '05-'06 and recall it as crowded, hot, and noisy. Ran into some of our dining mates later and they confirmed it as being crowded, hot, and noisy. Instead, Greg and I took a Photoshop Basic Tool Box class from the Internet teacher, part of Princess' 'Scholarship at Sea' program. It was an excellent class. Basic, but I learned a lot and Greg learned things too. We've signed up for 3 more Photoshop classes to learn things like Layers. I've used Photoshop but only know a fraction of things about it. Now it's another of those wonderful lazy, hazy sea days. Greg already did his 4-mile walk around the Promenade Deck (Deck 7). I'll attend the 4 pm Spin class and then work out afterwards. Had some excitement during Spin the other day. A passenger, an elderly German, walked into the Spin room about 1/4 of the way into the lesson. He climbed onto an unoccupied bike in the back of the room. Our instructor asked if he was joining the class & told him it cost $10. He said something I didn't understand. Then the other gym instructor, Stephen, walked over to him and explained that it was a fee class. I was directly in front of the man and couldn't see him, but heard him arguing with Stephen. It seemed he did not want to pay the fee. There was more discussion and I heard Stephen say, "You don't need to shout at me, Sir." Ultimately they walked into the main gym. I heard later that Security was called on the guy. I also heard that the passenger grabbed Stephen. However, I did not see that as they were behind me. I was later asked to give a statement to Security, as the man had complained all the way to the captain about Stephen. I felt Stephen acted completely appropriately. Apparently the guy was a millionaire German lawyer.....the Germans have a bad rep on this ship, as demanding and obnoxious. Last night we saw "Swing Vote" in the Vista lounge (they play recent DVDs...quality isn't so hot but you can't beat the price, free). Great movie and very timely at the moment. Tonight is the 2nd formal night. Entertainment is a dance show or 'Passenger Feud'...we'll probably attend the latter. ============================================================ CRUISE REPORT No. 8 This will be a short one! Fifth straight day at sea. Amazingly the days go quickly, even when one is doing basically nothing! Today I attended the 2nd of the 4 Photo classes. Learned a little about composition. Greg and I started a Scrabble game in our room that we tabled, when I had to go to class. He did his 4-mi walk around the Promenade deck while I was in class. Tomorrow is Bora Bora with a scuba diving trip planned. We have 3 ports in a row after Bora Bora is Papeete, then Moorea. We have tours scheduled in each port. Then onto Samoa, Fiji, and then New Zealand.... Last night we dressed up again for formal night. I actually enjoy the formal nights as long as they're not too frequent, lol. It's nice to get dressed up and see everyone else that way. We had a group pic taken at our table. It's nice to have a full table again. Ohhh, we have gained weight....inevitable....even with Greg's walks and my Spin classes and workouts... Skipped the shows last night.....the shows here are nothing to write home about, lol. Tonight is the black comedian who insulted the Germans and old people, with the promise of 'all new material' - we'll go see him. =============================================================== CRUISE REPORT No. 9 As I type this in the Internet Cafe, I'm watching Bora Bora fade away into the sunset. What a wonderful day we had today!!! Awoke at 6:45 a.m. to Bora Bora approaching and sat on our deck as the lush green hills came into view, along with the thatched roofs of a mega expensive hotel. We ordered room service for breakfast to save time (coffee, juice, fruit, cereal and milk.) At 7:45 a.m. we assembled in the Princess Theater along with others on tours & were seated with the 7 others signed up for scuba diving. After quite some time, our group was called & we boarded the ship's tender for the ride to the island. Immediately upon arrival we were greeted by the dive boat captain who ushered us onto his boat. Nemo Diving was their name and they were fantastic. The crew consisted of the captain (and owner) whose name was Ivan (I think) & Jean-Paul & Elise. They were French. Most charming, esp. the lissome Elise, aged 29, who had every male on the boat staring. We suited up in shorty wetsuits, put on our buoyancy vests and weight belts, and were helped with our tanks. Then we fell backwards off the boat into the water. I was more than a bit terrified about doing the latter, but they talked me through it. Elise was assigned to our group of 4 and she was great. She took special care of me and made sure I was ok. We almost immediately met up with a group of lemon and black tipped SHARKS. Yes, actual sharks, not 5' from us. They had sucker fish hitchhiking with them, which was funny. We saw many clownfish (Nemo!), a lion fish, Morey eels, and sea cucumbers. We got to pet the cucumbers and hold a big anemone. The water was warm and it was so clear. We went 65' on that first dive. It was better diving than we had ever done, including the Great Barrier Reef. We returned to the boat, had tea and cookies, and then went on a FAST motor boat ride to another spot where we suited up again and went back in (this time I wasn't so afraid of the free fall, but I did forget to hold onto my mask LOL). Back down and saw different critters including sting rays, but from a distance as to not scare them away. Lots more to see and the water was still clear. I accidentally went up too fast but we were only 35' down so it wasn't too bad. We had so much fun.......the crew was great......we saw so much...it was awesome. We hurriedly signed up for another diving trip in Moorea. We had planned to dive just once because it's pricey, but the diving in Tahiti is so awesome we can't pass it by. (We were going on a 4 WD jeep ride in Moorea...traded in those tickets for diving tickets.) We dive only on vacation, and who knows when we'll have such great opportunity again. We regretted not having an underwater camera. Another passenger took pics with his and says he'll email some to us. We bought a $20 underwater camera from the photo shop which we will use on the Moorea dive. As for the rest of the Bora Bora visit, the ship officials had warned us that the place is PRICEY. They said a coke costs $10! We didn't buy any food/drink but just a plastic ashtray for Steph's collection and some postcards and stamps set me back $25. Incredible. We looked at black pearls but definitely didn't buy any. We returned to the ship because we were grubby and hungry and had lunch at the buffet. Once back, I realized I forgot Travis' sand. He's asked for sand from each island. So as to not let him down, I went back a 2nd time on the tender about 3 p.m. I was the only one on the tender going back out that late, & got some great pics of the ship and island. They packed on the people going back to the ship.........I got my sand and got right back on. It's 6:25 p.m. now - we showered the muck off and took some departing pics. Tonight I think we will sleep VERY well. Tomorrow, we will be in Papeete. We booked a 'leisurely tour' of the sights...no diving offered. Then it's Moorea. ========================================================== CRUISE REPORT No. 10 Today we are in Papeete, which is in Tahiti. I always assumed Bora Bora was Tahiti but it isn't it's French Polynesia. Tahiti is an entire separate island. Papeete is a 'big city' compared to Bora Bora, and Moorea as well I hear. It's not that nice of a place. It's crowded, full of cars, and the downtown business section is like being in Mexico. We went to the flea market. Prices are much too high, and every stall pretty much sells the same stuff as the next. I did manage to get a nice shell necklace for $5 at a souvenir shop at Lighthouse Point. Saw the same necklace elsewhere for $20-30. (The dollar is not doing well next to the Tahitian franc, apparently.) We went on a bus tour called "Leisurely Tahiti" where we saw the main sights, including Lighthouse Point (the highest northern part), the Araphne (sp) blowhole, One Tree Hill, and other points of interest. Then we went shopping and returned to the shop mid-afternoon. Because we didn't actually dock at Christmas Island, we gained time so the captain decided to 'overnight' here in Papeete. But we didn't even like the town, so no way are we going out there at night - especially when food and drink costs an arm & leg & it's all free on the ship, lol. It was hot and muggy, and this is the DRY season. Glad we aren't here during the wet/humid season! We heard today that the German passenger who scrapped with the gym trainer was ousted from the ship yesterday in Bora Bora. The captain put him off! Glad to see he backs up his staff. The guy had no right to abuse the trainer. Tomorrow Moorea and diving, yayyyyy! ========================================================== CRUISE REPORT No. 11 We were in Moorea yesterday, which is a GORGEOUS island. The coastline is breath taking. We were lucky and our side of the ship faced the pretty part. I got some wonderful photos. We tendered to the shore bright and early (7:30 a.m. had to meet in the Princess Theater) with our diving tour. We were met by the dive staff and piled onto their boat, which was quite a bit larger than the Bora Bora outfit's boat. Once again the crew was all French perhaps it's a requirement in French Polynesia to be French to run diving outfits! We were once again divided into groups of 4 per guide. The diving was good but not as great as Bora Bora. The water was clearer in Bora Boar and the sharks were bigger. In Bora Bora, we saw huge lemon sharks; here there were just the small black tip sharks. Also the 'shock factor' of being with sharks had worn off and these little 'uns didn't look scary. We did 2 dives just like in Bora Bora, both about 60' down. My rustiness was showing on the 1st dive because I swam around too much and went through my air quickly. I tried to tone it down the 2nd dive. I guess when you only dive every 2 1/2 years, it's easy to be rusty. We got to stroke the back of a Moray eel. I tried to pet another one and Greg says it almost bit my hand off. I was just trying to pet its silky head! We bought an underwater camera from the Photo Shop on the ship for $19.99, free processing included. On the 1st dive we couldn't get it to work. Ernie, one of the port excursion guys, came along on the 2nd dive and got it to work by opening the case and advancing it. We used it down below and wondered if anything would come out. Lo and behold, they did - we got some good pics from the dive. We also purchased the video that the Dive Staff produced to prove that we really did dive in Tahiti! We didn't do anything else on Moorea but dive; I wanted to go to Belevdere (the lookout mountain) but Greg wanted to return to the ship so that's what we did. We left Moorea at 4:30 p.m. Today we spent much of the day in Photoshop class. We both learned a LOT. (Layering, photo retouching, saturation, enhancing, hue etc.) The ship computer teacher, Stephen, is really good. We were in class from 9 a.m. til after 2 p.m. with just 40 min for lunch. We had stayed up late last night and had to get up early, so once class was over we went to the room and crashed. I slept right through my Spin class time first one I've missed! But hey, isn't that what vacation is all about doing nothing if you want! Tomorrow is Raratonga, a territory of New Zealand. We have a Circle Island tour scheduled. It's another tender port, aughh....hate those tender ports.... ======================================================= CRUISE REPORT No. 12 Yesterday we went to Rarotonga. That's in the Cook Islands, which is midway between French Polynesia and Samoa/Fiji. It's the largest & by far most populated Cook Island, but I think our ship doubled their usual population, lol. Someone once quipped, "Rarotonga is like Tahiti without the French". It's a protectorate of New Zealand. Rarotongans have dual NZ citizenship and NZ pays a crapload of money to help run the place. It's a pretty island with some nice beaches. We took a Circle Tour which went around the entire island in 3 hrs with numerous stops. Much of the tour was interior so we saw loads and loads of trees! A highlight was a coconut cracking demo. Greg volunteered (well, I volunteered him lol) and learned to crack one open. So if we get stranded in the jungle some day, we won't starve. Prominent throughout Rarotonga is their fertility god. He is a squat little thing with a GIANT male member. He's everywhere! We photographed that statue numerous times. We even posed holding the local paper in front of a biggggg statue; wonder if our family paper will publish it? He graces the $1 Rarotonga coin, with Queen Elizabeth's mug on the other side. I read in my Frommer's guide that Queen Liz was none too happy to share billing with the large phallis-ed fertility god. I made sure I got one of those coins to take home! Our tour stopped at the "Perfume Factory" where they were giving out samples of a nasty herb drink called "Nana" and of coconut liquor. The former tasted nasty. The latter was very good, esp mixed with milk. Greg bought a small bottle the bottle was in the shape of that ubiquitous god - and we smuggled it onto the ship. Weather was nice. Sunny and not too hot. We wore bug spray as precaution, but did not notice any biting bugs. Dinner last night, I had filed of sole. Both times I've had sole it's been delicious, melting in my mouth, and I usually don't like fish. Last night there was a movie in the Princess Theater, "Dark Matter". I fell asleep and missed the end (just like falling asleep at home on the couch lol). Greg said it was depressing. Today we got up and raced to the Computer Cafe to attend Practice for the Photoshop classes we took. Learned some new stuff. It's fascinating. Tomorrow we'll be in Pago Pago (pronounced "PaNgo PaNgo"), America Samoa. Then on to Fiji. Greg managed to nab an empty washer and is doing our wash. It's dog eat dog to get the laundry done in the inadequate Princess laundry rooms. Happily our diving photos came out!!!! ========================================================= CRUISE REPORT No. 13 We just left American Samoa, after spending the day here. It was a bad day to visit because (1) it's Sunday and most places close on Sun. because everyone's in church there are TONS of churches here, and (2) it's White Sunday, a big day, which means anything that wasn't already going to be closed, was. White Sunday is Children's Day....like in Mother's Day or Father's Day. The kids dress in white and get gifts and don't have to do chores. (I remember as a kid asking my mom why there wasn't a Children's Day. She said, "EVERY day is Children's Day." Hmmph.) The only shopping was a sprinkling of booths behind the ship and a variety store across the street. I think the whole ship was in the variety store when we went there. We bought a bar of Irish Spring deodorant soap because our one bar is almost gone. Prices were very reasonable here, unlike Tahiti where the prices were INSANELY high. It was cool to see the U.S. Flag flying. We stopped in at the Seaport Police HQ and Greg got two patches. He's going to send SBSD patches to the Chief. We also visited the Police Dept and arranged to swap patches. Too bad Greg didn't think ahead; he could have bought a bunch of patches from the uniform store and exchanged them out throughout the world. (All cops seem to love trading patches.) Samoa is divided into two: Independent Samoa and American Samoa. We visited the latter. The Samoans are very, very friendly. On our bus tour, most everyone waved to us. Samoan men are big on the main! Shirts go up to 4XL for good reason. Most men wear skirts called lani lani. We took a bus tour through town, stopping at "Flower Pot Rock" (a big rock in the ocean with vegetation that resembles a flower pot, ergo the name). I collected sand for Travis at that beach. The bus was a primitive affair with wooden benches and open windows. I heeded the ship lecturer's advice to take a towel to sit on. Weather was on the hot & humid side in the a.m. and was more pleasant in the p.m. They warned us to expect rain, and I schlepped along my packable REI raincoat and umbrella, but there was nary a drop. We've been super lucky with weather throughout this cruise. Our main stop was for an "Ava" ceremony with dancers in native costume. Greg drank from the coconut shell the Ava drink, which he said tasted like soapy dishwasher. Perhaps it was? The captain announced that at 2 a.m. we will cross the International Dateline and lose an entire day! It's Oct. 12 right now and tomorrow it will be Oct. 14. Oct. 13 will disappear. Oct. 13 is the Canadian Thanksgiving and there are gobs of Canadians on this cruise, so the captain promised we would still celebrate their Thanksgiving tomorrow with turkey, etc. We have been turning back the clock many nights; I think tonight is the 5th time. Love that extra hour of sleep. It would stink the other direction, losing an hour each time! ===================================================== CRUISE REPORT No. 14 I'm watching the city of Suva recede into the distance as we sail away from the Fiji Islands. This was our last stop in the South Pacific. Now we're heading to the more temperate climate of New Zealand. Two sea days ahead, and then we'll be in Auckland, NZ. We were warned by the port lecturer Ronelle Adams that Suva was not a pretty place and one needed to get out of Suva to see Fiji. She was definitely right. (Janelle, btw, is an excellent port lecturer the best of any I've heard on the numerous cruises I've taken. She is independent, meaning she doesn't work for the ship, so her talks are not slanted toward shopping & spending money at 'approved' places. She gives useful advice, like to take a towel for the hard wooden benches we experienced on the bus in Pago Pago, and to not wear jewelry or flaunt money in Suva.) Our tour today was "Countryside Drive & Firewalking". I'd give it a C-. The drive took about 45 minutes through pretty countryside, with very little narration by the 'guide' whose English was hard to understand. We whisked by the local jail & prison too quick to get a photo (ok, I know that most tourists aren't into jails & prisons, but we are!!). The firewalking was in Pacific Harbor at a little village made up to look like Fiji of old. We were given 45 min. to shop in the little stores (reasonable prices, esp compared to the ridiculous prices in Tahiti). Then we were herded into an amphitheater to watch the firewalking. But we were quite far away from the 'stage', separated by a lagoon, and it was hard to see the coals you had to just accept they were 'white hot'. There was steam and such, but we expected close up viewing of RED hot coals. Then there was a lot of dancing and booty shaking and that was it, back to the buses and back to the shipyard. Not worth $79 pp. (Saw much of the same poverty we saw in Tahiti & Samoa rundown shacks with tin roofs and laundry hanging everywhere. Makes you realize how well off we are the "first world".) A better tour was of Parliament, etc. taken by Donna and Howard from our table. Greg and Anna from our table took a similar tour but paid very little because they did it from the port. Pat & Tom Irwin, our new Canadian friends, paid a buck each to ride a city bus through town. Tom said he paid less than a dollar to call home wish I had known we could do that. Once we returned to the ship, we had lunch in the Horizon Court and set out to explore downtown. A shuttle deposited us at the priciest dept. store which we quickly abandoned and walked around the various streets. Shopping was disappointing - all I bought was some sunblock - and we headed back to the ship. (I noticed that the police and the merchants all seem to be Indian. They are the "merchant" class in Fiji.) We've started playing the afternoon Trivia game with the 2 younger couples from our table, Greg & Anna and Antoine & Stacey. We lost (again). Try, try again. It's currently "half price" Internet time between 4 and 6 p.m. Nice to get a discount, esp. since we've paid (hold onto your hat) $500 so far in Internet charges, just to keep you people informed, lol. Ship entertainment lately has been pretty lame two different Australian comics. The one night before last spent the whole show doing yo yo and spinning top tricks. Greg & I always sit right up front. So naturally we get chosen.....or at least Greg does. He went on stage and helped the comic by pretending to pump up a giant top (he made faces behind the comic's back). The comic told him to cheer and "run around the audience, rip your shirt off" well, Greg did just that, to the delight of the audience. Many people commented later that he was hilarious and the best part of the show. Last night was a 'comedy magician' , Steve Hart, who did lame tricks but he was better than the yo yo/top fellow. Tonight we can choose between an Australian singer or a film I've never heard of ("Married Life"). Yesterday we celebrated the Canadian Thanksgiving with turkey dinner & the worst pumpkin pie I've ever eaten. We are now a day ahead of the North Americans and catching up to the Australians. CRUISE REPORT No. 15 - Auckland We are cruising along the coastline of the North Island of New Zealand, on our way to Wellington, which lies at the southernmost tip of the North Island. It was chosen to be the capital of NZ due to its location in the middle of the country, at the bottom of the North Island and just before one gets to the South Island. Auckland used to be the capital, but it was switched to Wellington to be more fair to the Southerners, such back in the olden days it took several days for South Island lawmakers to make it to meetings in Auckland. We learned that fact, along with zillions of others from Barry, our bus driver for our excursion yesterday in Auckland. He was great. He's been driving tour buses for 39 years after a gig as a carpenter. He talked (while driving!) almost nonstop for the 250-mile round trip drive we took from Auckland to the Waitomo caves and back. I learned all about NZ history and politics from him. Yesterday was awesome. We arrived around 7 a.m. to the large port of Auckland, parked directly alongside a luxury condominium and hotel - one could literally see inside people's living rooms in the condo complex. We boarded our tour bus at 7:50 a.m. after being cleared by NZ customs. They had a cute little beagle 'sniffer' dog to sniff your hand luggage (purses etc) to make sure you didn't smuggle food off the ship. We were also warned to bring only commercially bottled water with seal intact, which turned out to be something they didn't care about. But Greg thinks we shouldn't take chances, so I had to buy another bottle for tmr and not just fill up my bottle with ice & water from the Horizon Court like I usually do. Then we drove out of the city and into the country. NZ countryside is stunning, all green with rolling farms with lots of cows grazing bucolically (dunno if that's really an adjective, lol). Finally (about 2.5 hrs later) we reached the Waitomo caves The caves were formed 24 million years ago by the earthquakes and volcanic eruptions that created NZ. They are covered with crystal stalactites and stalagmites, discovered in 1887 by the Maori, the indigenous people of NZ. The caves have been a tourist attraction since 1889! Back in the olden days people snapped off stalactites for souvenirs; thankfully nobody can do that now. The coolest of all is the glowworms, insect larvae that gives off light to attract flying insects for food. They look like sparkling little stars in the walls and ceiling of the caves. We took a silent boat ride thru the glowworm cave (so as not to scare them off). It was so so so so so cool. Naturally you can't take photos but I bought postcards. We also walked thru one of the caves. Once we were done, we crowded the tiny souvenir shop where I bought a photo of us emerging from the cave along with an info CD on the glow worms ($20 US, cheaper than ship photos, lol). Then we drove to a country farm where we had lunch served by the family. It was excellent, meatloaf which I liked - lamb which I didn't, lol - potatoes, salad, kiwi, and a decadent chocolate cake with ice cream and berries that rivaled deserts on the ship. The 11-year-old son of the family helped clean up. He was a very polite boy named James. He let us pet his 3-mo-old pet lamb. Just as I snapped a photo of Greg with James and the lamb, my camera battery went out! It's a Canon rechargeable so I was out of luck. NO photos for the rest of the day! I felt like my hand was cut off. Greg had a perfectly wonderful camera left behind in the cabin!!!! So photo less, we toured the nearby Otorohanga Kiwi House native bird park, where we saw the 2 captive Kiwi in a nearly dark area since the birds are nocturnal. We learned that their eggs are huge, weighing about 1/5th of the females' body weight. The birds are covered with shaggy plumage that looks like fur, and they don't fly, which means they were nearly wiped out by imported predators. The rest of the preserve had other birdies. Greg had a duck nearly take off his ring! And we saw a mom and her 3 babies which would have made an awesome photo, waah. (Note to self: ALWAYS bring a 2nd charged battery, 2nd scan disk card, and maybe a 2nd camera with you!) After the bird park we headed back, accompanied by Barry's informative monologue. He dropped some of us off near the Auckland Sky Tower, which is 1,076' high, taller than the Empire State Bldg and the tallest building in the Southern Hemisphere. For about $22 U.S. each we took an elevator to the observation deck, which commands sweeping views of the city and outlying areas. We saw the cruise ship parked at the dock. Greg found out they have a Skyjump where you wear a harness and unlike a bungy jump, you're not falling by your ankles. But it was already closed (a secret yay from me, cos it was like $150 NZ....subtract 25% for US!) Since we had no camera we enlisted a couple of passengers to photograph us. Hopefully they'll not lose the scraps of paper with my email addie on them and will remember to email the photos to us. The Sky Tower has clear glass parts of its floor where you can see to the bottom. It freaked me out but Greg gleefully walked and jumped ! on it. After we finished, we walked back to the ship. We bought water at a convenience store and I got shiny coins for my collection and to give Travis. We were the only ones at our table for dinner. We were both exhausted after the long day, so we turned in fairly early. Great day!!!! Today is a sea day and tomorrow we begin a 3-day marathon of NZ ports: Wellington, Christchurch, Dunedin, one after the other. We have a short city tour in Wellington, a wonderful train trip booked in Christchurch, and a tour in Dunedin that includes the Larnach Castle. It was cool yesterday, long sleeve weather definitely. I wore my hoodie for the first time. Today it's cool out and quite windy. Most of the deck chairs are empty. (Guess what - I have NEVER laid out during this entire cruise....neither of us have ever swam in the pools, and we've been in the Jacuzzi just once!) ======================================================= CRUISE REPORT No. 16 - Wellington The ship has just departed the harbor at Wellington, which well earned its famous name "Windy Wellington" today. We arrived around 8:45 a.m., 45 minutes later than expected. That messed up the tour schedule, compacting ours, making us lose out on climbing the bell tower at New Wellington Cathedral. :-( We chose "Uniquely Wellington" which featured the cathedral, Parliament, and Te Papa Museum. Parliament was really interesting. We were given a guided tour by a very knowledgeable & articulate young guide. We sat in the VIP viewing section for Parliament, which was not in session due to it being election time. Our guide explained the system which is similar to the UK's. Then we sat in the Maori small session room, decorated with symbols of the local Maori tribes. After a whirlwind tour of the Cathedral, we had a quickie walk thru of the Te Papa Museum which was interesting but like most museums, you can only see a fraction in the short time allotted. Then the driver dropped us off downtown. We shopped a bit and then came upon the city cable car. For $5 NZ we bought a round trip, for the 3 1/2 minute ride up the slopes from Lambton Quay to Kelbum where there is a cable car museum and the botanical garden. We looked at the museum but passed on walking thru the large garden. Then we walked around some more and caught a shuttle back to the ship. By now it was 3:45 p.m. and we hadn't eaten since 7:30 a.m. we thought we'd die of starvation. Cruise ship passengers aren't used to going without food for more than 2 hrs at a time, lol! At the port, we learned that we could buy a low cost phone card to call home. We put off eating long enough to buy the $5 NZ ($3 US) card and call Travis. It was great to hear his voice after so long. We talked to him for a while and also to Kathy, the housekeeper who's watching him. Glad to hear all is well. Then a late lunch and to the cabin, where Greg promptly fell asleep and I watched the middle-end of "Son of Rambow" on the cabin TV. (Just ran outside to try to see the pilot of the pilot boat leap from the ship to his boat missed it by a second, again! - yaaargh. Omigod it's freeeeezing outside, so cold and windy! What a change in weather from the South Pacific! Yesterday the ship's boutique was having a run on warm weather clothing by people who packed for the first part of the ship the warm part forgetting about the chilly last part. All that excess Alaska inventory got put to use.) The ship is passing these 2 really cool lighthouses, one on top of a hill and the other on the beach - saw those when we sailed in this a.m. The Internet cafe is on the opposite side of the ship from our room so that's why I'm seeing the scene in reverse now. Tomorrow we're in Christchurch.We booked a train trip that is touted as one of the top 10 train rides in the world. Will let you know if it lives up to its billing. Re ship happenings: Last night was an excellent performance by an Australian singer. Best show we've seen yet on the Princess. Tonight is a new comedian. ======================================================== CRUISE REPORT No. 17 Been very busy going from NZ port to port, so this is the 1st opportunity I've had to sit and write. Right now we're doing 'scenic cruising' through the 'primordial landscapes of Fiordland' along the west coast of the South Island. There are 14 fiords (openings) and we're cruising through 4 of them. As I type this at the Internet Cafe I can see amazing scenery outside. At 8 a.m. the captain awoke us with an announcement that we had arrived and Greg & I sleepily went to our balcony and gaped at the amazing scenery complete with waterfalls and small islands. We even saw dolphins cavorting, although mainly all I saw was the splashes WISH WISH WISH we had brought binoculars, darn it!!! We are not getting off all the sightseeing is from the ship. Commentary is being provided by a retired park ranger (Fiordland National Park is one of the largest parks in the world.) We are SO GLAD we have a balcony cabin. Starboard side has turned out to be very good for sightseeing. Now for a quick rundown of the past several days, where we visited Christchurch and Dunedin: CHRISTCHURCH: The morning began poorly. We were supposed to meet on the pier at 8:05 for our train trip, so we got up early, met up with Donna & Howard from our table who were also going on the tour, and headed to the gangway. We found an enormous queue of people there. We got at the end of the queue which snaked around into the cabin area of Deck 5. There we stood for 25 min. The Australian customs folks came on board with their 'sniffer' beagles. As we shuffled forward, we discovered that people were blithely cutting in line from the stairwells, elevators, and opposite side the end of the line became meaningless. It took forever to disembark. We complained to the Shore Excursion office for whatever's that worth. It would have been lots better to meet in the Princess Theater like they did when we arrived late to Wellington. We boarded a bus for a 2-min ride to the train station where we got on the TranzAlpine Express train. It was a special train reserved for the ship. That also began poorly because we ended up with lousy seating squashy 4-person tables where we were seated backwards. Donna wanted her and I to be at opposite sides where we could photograph each side and share pics, a good idea that didn't work out. The couple we ended up with at our table were cranky people from Florida. The woman's first comment to me was 'watch your feet, my shoes have no toes' and I hadn't even stepped on her &*^^%$# feet. No 'hello, where are you from', etc etc. Greg ended up sitting alone for some time at a distant table. There was a great table open, but it was marked 'crew area' and they refused to let us sit there, even though the crew used it for nothing more than their duffel bag-jacket storage. In the end it didn't really matter because I discovered the open area at the end of the train where the photo taking opportunities were terrific. Donna joined me and we spent 2/3s of the 2 1/2 hr train ride out there. The scenery was breathtakingly beautiful, the snow capped mountains of the Southern Alps, rolling fields, sheep. I was very glad for the $48 jacket I had bought the day before at the boutique. Once we disembarked, we boarded a coach for the rest of the tour. Greg raced ahead and nabbed the front row seats for the 4 of us, which turned out to be wonderful we got a great view ahead and to the side. (He had to fight people off who tried to take the 2 seats he was saving for D & H). We stopped at a gorgeous country home for tea (or coffee) and homemade cookies. The garden there was beautiful. Then we went to the barn area where the husband of the family demonstrated sheep shearing. First we got to watch the family dog expertly herd the sheep, and we were allowed to hold and cuddle a 3-week old lamb. Its mom bleated frantically as she ran around looking for her baby. When baby was finally released, it ran to her and suckled and then tore off together to the other end of the pasture. The drive back was as beautiful as the train views, if not more so. The interior of the South Island is breathtaking. I took so many photos my battery wore out! We drove past an area where a scene from Lord of the Rings was filmed, with broken rock tops on top off a cliff. Our visit to the actual city of Christchurch was unfortunately really truncated as we ran out of time. The driver basically drove quickly through, narrating what we were seeing, and we never were able to get out. We need to return to see the town! DUNEDIN The very next day we arrived in the Dunedin area. Like Christchurch, the ship docks about 30 minutes away at a nearby port. Christchurch's was Lyttelton and Dunedin's was Port Chalmers. Our tour was city drive & Larnach Castle. The castle was built in the late 1800's by an Australian for his wife. We found out later that other tours got to see the whole castle but we were only shown the first floor - need to chat with the Tour Desk about that. It was very interesting although it's hard to see with 40+ other people crowded with you. Then we went through the outside gardens. An extra treat (?!) was watching ducks in a pond copulate! It was basically a gang rape! Greg filmed the whole thing on his camera. The girl duck did not look like she enjoyed a bit of it - small wonder, with her neck being bitten while the male wrestled her onto the shore, did his quick business, and then sauntered off without even asking if it was good for her, lol? We piled back onto the bus and toured the city. Then the driver let us off and Greg and I literally raced to the Cadbury Chocolate Factory where for $18 NZ each we took the factory tour. (Much cheaper than what the ship's tour cost!) It was interesting and we got free samples. Then we walked to the courthouse and for watched for about 2 min a civil trial (boring). Then we ran into a Dunedin police officer who wound up giving us a private tour of the police station! He was really nice. We spent about 40 minutes there. He even let us tour the lockup and take pics. Then we went back to town and shopped briefly, and then boarded a city shuttle back to the ship. Dunedin is Gaelic for Edinburgh and has a Scottish flavor. Robbie Burns' statue is the middle of the city in the 'octagon'. A treat for me was seeing scads of school youths in their uniforms. They all look so cute. Several let me photograph them. BACK ON THE SHIP Filet mignon last night. I didn't like it my steak was kind of tough. The steakhouse's filets are much better. Entertainment was a crew talent show that was very cute. Greg was tired and skipped it. The other night there was a comedy magician. Attendance for the 10:15 p.m. show was light as usual, which seems to unnerve the entertainers. I was called onto stage to help with a card trick. I was a bit embarrassed because I had dashed to the room after dinner, torn off my clothes to add to the laundry, and was wearing whatever was handiest: jogging capris and a sleeveless top, and my Crocs. But, oh well, lol. The magician was selling DVDs demonstrating tricks; he autographed one and gave it to me for free for helping him. That really good Aussie singer is on again tonight. We will be at sea for the next 2 days. Then we're dumped out at Sydney and the cruise is over. We are looking forward to our 3 days visiting the Carters. Then it's a looooooong (17-hr or so) flight back to LA. We are looking forward to coming home, though I'm not looking forward to gong back to work! OK, that's it for now cos I want to see the fiords! =============================================================== CRUISE REPORT No. 18 It's almost over! Part of me is really sad, and part of me is glad. We are tired of living in a shoebox and not being able to move past each other in the tiny cabin. Looking forward to our BIG home again and all our own things. And not having to fight for the washer/dryers. It was a lovely day yesterday for the fiords. They are stunning. I love NZ!!! The fiords make up 5% of NZ. We heard that last year, the weather was terrible and it rained and was overcast during the scenic cruising. The captain had to bypass Milford Sound completely due to weather - and that's the prettiest one of all. We were super lucky with weather this entire cruise. Hardly any rain at all, and never during the port excursions! The ship ROCKED & rolled all night last night. It was so bad that the late show featuring 'physical comedy' was wrecked - the performer couldn't do his handstands, juggling and unicycling with the ship going every which way. Greg went to that show and I went to Lisa Crouch's 2nd performance. (She's the awesome Australian singer I wrote about the other day.) Greg left the physical comedy show and joined me at Lisa's show about half way through. He said he felt so sorry for the performer who couldn't do his act. The rocking is soothing for sleeping. Dunno if we'll be able to sleep once we get off without the rocking! Greg said, "I am not going to rock the bed for you"! Tonight is the final formal night. No way are we having photos taken not when we're fat at the end of the cruise. We had all those taken in the beginning when we were still slim. Also tonight is "New Year's Eve" even though it's not even Halloween! It sounds like we did on the Diamond Princess, when it really WAS New Year's Eve. Maybe we'll go, maybe not. It features a champagne chandelier, champagne and dancing. Wonder if you have to PAY for the freakin' champagne like they made us do on the Diamond? We went through Australia immigration this a.m. Everyone was given a time to show up. Ours was 8 a.m.! Greg went 15 min early to get in line. We got through in 15 min. All they did was glance at our cards, write Q (for quarantine) if you checked 'yes' for bringing in wood/shells/food, and stamp our passports. They didn't want to look at the wood/shells/food; that comes at disembarking. =========================================================== CRUISE REPORT No. 19 This will be short as I have only about 14 minutes left of Internet time!! Packing like crazy to get off ship tomorrow....I hate packing....trying to cram it all in especially the stuff I've collected. I love papers, brochures, etc etc. We did the final trivia contest just now. Tanked like usual. Those questions are hard! We do it with our younger table mates though sometimes Donna helps out. She's good on medical Qs, as she was a nurse. Bought the 2nd Ports of Call DVD because Greg and I are in it! Walking out of a observatory in Wellington and holding a lamb in Christchurch! Also on the train in Christchurch. One hour back tonight and we are on Sydney time. Amazing to be on the other side of the world. Jeff is picking us up tomorrow. Hope he finds us in the crowd. It 's been nearly 3 years since we've seen the Carters. We're looking forward to hanging out with them for 3 days. Gotta get back to the *&&^%$ packing they want our bags out before dinner. Love to all, =============================================================== POST CRUISE REPORT Hi all! We have safely arrived in Sydney and were off loaded from the ship this a.m. (As one comedian on the ship remarked, "You go in as passengers and go off as cargo".) It took longer than expected because the Australians want small groups which is better in the long run, because there is less commotion in the terminal. I had yellow 'quarantine' tape around one of my bags, which is ironic because that bag had very little of the 'contraband' they're interested in. The inspector checked the bags, rinsed my sea shells, and passed me on. I was worried that Jeff wouldn't recognize us but he noticed me right away! He had been there since 8 a.m. and it was 10 a.m. so he'd had quite a wait. Some unhappy news: I lost my wedding ring last night. I had taken it off in the afternoon so as not to snag it while packing. I had put it on the small shelf ledge by the bathroom in the cabin. Greg noticed it there and I said I left it there on purpose. I forgot to put it on before dinner. When we returned around midnight, it was gone. The steward said he never saw it. So it either fell into the trash bin, or................? The trash is all incinerated. The purser sent security, who did a thorough search of our cabin - they found my sewing kit and Greg's coffee card under the bed but no ring. They prepared a report but that's not going to help anything. The only hope I have is somehow it fell into my suitcase. [POST SCRIPT: The ring never materialized. Gone forever.] Speaking of rings, Greg discovered that he's lost a couple of diamond baguettes on HIS ring. Hope these are not signs of anything untoward! So now it's 3 days in Sydney and then we fly home on the 29th. Read Less
Sail Date September 2008

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