This was our first Princess cruise. Princess offered a land tour of Australia that had the cities we were interested in along with cruising to New Zealand. The tour guide was awesome and we really enjoyed the land tour. The descriptions ... Read More
This was our first Princess cruise. Princess offered a land tour of Australia that had the cities we were interested in along with cruising to New Zealand. The tour guide was awesome and we really enjoyed the land tour. The descriptions of the excursions weren't exactly accurate. Or maybe we read too much into the descriptions. The transition from plane to hotel when we arrived was very smooth. The planes and hotels on the land tour were adequate. Make sure you pack a hand scale for your luggage because Qantas is very strict on the weights! Especially for the carry ons!
The Sydney tour included the Opera House - but it was ONLY a drive by which was disappointing. We did have time after dropping off our luggage at the ship and then walked to the Opera House! This was really convenient to be able to drop the luggage off and then be able to do some exploring of the wharf at Sydney.
The cruise ship itself is so beautiful! The Piazza is the hub of activity for the cruise. They constantly have something going on so you can always participate or just watch. I did feel sorry for the diners - the specialty restaurants - they are right there and it is VERY noisy. The shops are all very, very, very expensive, top end shops and you hardly saw anyone in there. Very little that average people could afford. This ship was built for the Oriental market - and did not transition well for the Australian market! The food was bland - and most options were seafood - which is great if you are a seafood lover, but not so much if you are a beef lover. And there is NO true cream for coffee. I observed that if you got "white" coffee, it was with skim milk. If you asked for cream - it was whole milk. If you insisted on cream - you got this clotted cream that would not dissolve in coffee. Also, by using the milk in your coffee, they kept it cold so your coffee was lukewarm, at best. Very little ice in iced drinks, you have to ask for ice. Most drinks were cool or room temp. The pizzeria on board was very formal. It was good, but very formal - linen table clothes, waiters dressed formally - not what you were expecting. The dining rooms were also very formal - and our waiter was as personable as mud. Our room steward was awesome! The buffet was divided into 2 sections - one was a "bistro" that had more sandwiches, lighter fare. But the food was mainly the same day after day after day after day. And bland, bland, bland. The only time I detected seasoning was the garlic which they used a lot of! The entertainment was produced very well, but not really our liking, but it was put on with a lot of costumes, music and lights! The excursions were awesome, but usually left right after we docked and got back with only 30-60 minutes before we had to be on board. Most of the port cities did NOT have shops by the docks, so we got very little shopping done. And no of the port cities opened up for the ship - like other ports we have been in. They would open late and close early - which made it impossible for those that did excursions. Princess did do an awesome job of getting the people to their excursions - always meeting in the Theater and taken out by group to their buses or trains. Wine was VERY expensive - the cheapest bottle was $42 and only a few at that price. IF they had a daily drink special, it was not advertised - and did NOT have anyone coming by with the shot specials at dinner. Was disappointed also in the deserts - they were presented beautifully, but not much taste. Our tour group discussed this a lot - most agreed that the deserts almost tasted the same. I only saw cheesecake offered once???? It seemed that presentation was their goal! The everyday menu offered a sirloin steak that was tough and chewy. The roasted chicken was huge, but no seasoning. The fettuccine was good, but not offered with chicken or shrimp. The bread rolls were all crusty, and always the same selection - every night. I would ask for ice tea and they would give me a straw to stir in my sugar????? Finally, got them to give me a small desert spoon. I enjoyed the cruise, but a little too high end for me - I don't mind dressing up for formal nights, but didn't want every night to be on the formal setting - not with dress but with the formal, attitude of the wait staff. Are other Princess cruises like this? Read Less