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Sail Date: December 2013
I have just got off the Diamond for the third time in 10 years . In nearly 40 days at sea , I have never had anything except wonderful service and a fantastic time aboard . The ship is going in for a refit in march and I can see that there ... Read More
I have just got off the Diamond for the third time in 10 years . In nearly 40 days at sea , I have never had anything except wonderful service and a fantastic time aboard . The ship is going in for a refit in march and I can see that there are parts that have deteriorated over time , as you would expect , but that dosn't detract from the reason that you go on a cruise , to enjoy yourself . The food was great ( i am so over eating ) the staff were exeptional and the fellow passengers were wonderful . We cruised from Auckland to Sydney with 5 port days as well as a day cruising the sounds in southern New Zealand which were very similar to what we saw in Alaska , but with better weather . We had Christmas day and New years day on board and loved every minute of it . The ship was decorated throughout and everyone was in a great mood . Honestly , some people are never satisfied .If you are going to complain about this voyage then you are either very thin skined or need to spend more money on a luxury ship . This is a 5 star vessel and lives up to it's reputation in every way . One thing I didn't know when boarding is that the casino now gives out points that build up into cash refunds on your next cruise . It was nice to get a letter before disembarking to discover that my wife and I can recive over $ 600 in cash on our next cruise ! This will go a long way to pay for our spending . Anyway , it was fantastic , and the ship is to be recomended . Read Less
Sail Date: December 2013
Being in the travel industry, I've become a "cruise ship snob." It takes alot to impress me these days as many ships and lines cut corners. Not the Diamond Princess. She is amazing. Quite large, but never felt very big. The ... Read More
Being in the travel industry, I've become a "cruise ship snob." It takes alot to impress me these days as many ships and lines cut corners. Not the Diamond Princess. She is amazing. Quite large, but never felt very big. The any time dining restaurants were the best I've seen. Four choices, all having a different theme. We met for an amazing meet and greet prior to boarding and just hung out with amazing people throughout the cruise. New Years eve in the high seas was my dream.....watching 25,000 balloons drop at midnight was spectacular. The ship was clearly incredible, but the ports were more so....Sydney soon became my favorite city. I can't wait to return to different parts of Australia and see the Diamond again. The shows were mediocre, but the food was good.......You go on this venture for the pure experience of the Aussie and Kiwi culture....Didn't disappoint. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: February 2013
We took this cruise as we had not sailed on "Diamond" before, and it started in our home town of Auckland; 20 minute drive over the bridge beats all day flying to Australia ! Embarkation ; at Princes Wharf was quick and easy, ... Read More
We took this cruise as we had not sailed on "Diamond" before, and it started in our home town of Auckland; 20 minute drive over the bridge beats all day flying to Australia ! Embarkation ; at Princes Wharf was quick and easy, probably the best of any port we have struck, and our bags were in our room within an hour of boarding. We were surprised at the low number of NZ passengers ( around 300 ) but very pleased with the large number from USA, Asia, and Europe including even Russia, who had travelled specially to see New Zealand. And met some lovely people too Accommodation; Our cabin , C303,was excellent ; our agent had found a wheelchair accessible cabin was available ( at the same price ) and we took that, super extra space and especially the bathroom, flat and huge. Also the balcony was extra big ; Caribe deck has the best balconies, Dolphin ( mini suites ) are out in the open and can be fully seen from above; Caribe is half open but twice the size of Aloha and Baja. Our steward was a bit hit and miss, we found our room one night at 9 p.m. had still not been serviced, but after complaints to housekeeping it was rectified. He was very pleasant but needed a bit of "nudging". We were impressed that a cabin steward a bit further along greeted us on arrival like long lost friends, we had struck him on another ship but he not actually been our steward; sums up the attitude of the Princess staff, all very cheerful and well trained. Dining; in some ways exemplary but at times lost the plot a bit ;the Horizon Court buffet was not up to previous ships standards, particularly at lunch when quite a bit of the food looked decidedly recycled from the night before. But plenty of seating in several areas. We selected Any Time dining for dinner, ( not available on Sun or Dawn) and found it worked very well for us, a simple reservation phone call before 4.30 p.m.. and you were seated immediately. We stuck to the "Pacific Moon" dining room as we found the waiters excellent, and by the second week the head waiter was letting us pick our own table to fit in with the best servers. Food was generally very good, with just the odd hiccup, but a lot of really nice meals. We ate at "Sabatini's " one night and that was excellent, we were celebrating our 53rd wedding anniversary and they pulled out all the stops, well worth the surcharge. Entertainment ; again, being so used to the same old, same old entertainers and shows on "Sun "and " Dawn" , the entertainment came as a pleasant improvement. The 5 production shows ( with one exception) were all new to us and very well staged; the bigger stage and facilities made a huge difference. We also had several other individual acts, especially Paul Adams, one of the best comedians we have struck on a ship. Other entertainment around included Sammy Goldstein nightly in the Crooners Bar, and all sorts of other activities, some of which we had to miss with so many port days. Overall, a good selection. Public rooms on this ship were all excellent and well suited to the various purposes they were used for , even though at times the choice of venue was a bit of a mystery ! Cruise director Brett Siborne was excellent with good back up staff. Port calls; we did not take any of the ships excursions, we generally only do that in a port that is new to us, as they are so expensive. Tauranga ; took the shuttle bus into town which was a bit dear at $15; and could probably have been just as well off walking around the Mount, but pleasant enough, a glorious day for weather. Picton; took a "Bubbly Grape " wine tour and had a fabulous day out with a group of 8 from the ship, all privately organised and worth every penny. Highly recommended. We were also very impressed that the ladies of the town had made up fresh flower buttonholes for everyone getting off the ship, a lovely touch to promote their port. Wellington; took the shuttle into town, which was not too bad at $10. A bit too far from Aotea Quay for us to walk. We wandered the beautifully updated and presented waterfront, and visited Te Papa museum which was not there when we lived in Wellington in the 1960s. Again highly recommended and we were impressed by the city as a whole. Akaroa ; anchorage port but no problem getting ashore with the ships tenders ( it does help having the black card ! ) . We took an all day tour into Christchurch, Sumner and Lyttelton port, and had a good look at the earthquake damage plus other sights and found it a worthwhile day. Dunedin; we had arranged a day out through Headfirst Travel, who picked us up from the port and took us into Dunedin Railway Station where we got on board the Taeri Gorge train; a really lovely and interesting 5 hour train ride in vintage carriages, and at less than 50% of the ships excursion. We came back into Dunedin and did the Cadbury World factory tour which was OK but rather annoyed us with its over the top health and safety regs., and 160 steps; and back to the ship in a private van as Headfirst had forgotten to pick us up after the Cadbury Tour, but sent a van for us after a phone call; back on board in time after an excellent day. Fiordland Sounds; the only cloudy day of the whole cruise, but with it flat calm conditions and a really excellent day's viewing, starting at Dusky Sound , then into Doubtful and Thompson's , and finally Milford Sound. Very close up in lots of places, and again well worthwhile. A very good commentary from the Head Park Ranger who was on board, supplemented by Captain Dino Sagani, who did a great job ( and is going to the new "Royal Princess ' in July. ) Hobart ; we walked into town and took the hop on hop off double decker bus tour; we were impressed with the very large number of vintage cottage and buildings right through the city, and all so well presented. A very nice city, and again the most beautiful weather. Melbourne ; from Station Pier took the shuttle bus into town, which terminates at the Art Centre on South Yarra, a bit out of the main CBD; but pleasant enough; we then took the free City Tram circle tour, a bit crowded with the ships people., and after a bit of retail therapy, back to the ship by the 109 tram, packed to the gunwales and standing room only and quite a long way ; but made it OK. Then into Sydney where disembarkation was a breeze( we had been processed by Customs between NZ and Hobart in another well arranged manner) and simply walked off in our own time to get a taxi to our daughter's. All in all a very satisfying experience , the beautiful weather through-out was a plus of course, but we loved the ship, as so many have said, never crowded, just a great cruise,which took us back to many new Zealand places we had not been to for a long time.. Would definitely use this ship again when she gets back into NZ waters. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2013
We arrived in Auckland a couple of days prior to the cruise. Caught the airport bus into town which dropped us off about a block from the Crowne Plaza, which was a 10 minute walk from the pier. We spent the two days recovering from the ... Read More
We arrived in Auckland a couple of days prior to the cruise. Caught the airport bus into town which dropped us off about a block from the Crowne Plaza, which was a 10 minute walk from the pier. We spent the two days recovering from the flight, touring around Auckland and eating some good fish and chips and mussels. Boarded the ship around 2 o'clock without a problem. We chose the 6 o'clock seating and were placed with 3 other delightful couples. We ate all our evening meals in the dining room. The service and both quantity and quality of food, and the presentation, were more than adequate, probably just short of excellent. The entertainment was what one would expect, with a couple of excellent comics and adequate singers and dancers. The Cruise staff was engaging, especially the cruise director, who was everywhere. We had an inside cabin up high. It was roomy enough and the steward kept it spic and span. If I had any complaints at all, it was the fact that the fitness center was too small and had a poor mix of machines. Only 2 stationary bikes in use all the time and 6 or 8 stair steppers never in use. And secondly, the coffee bar had no sugar free syrups for the Mocha or Latte for those of us on restricted diets. Other than these minor irritants, the experience was enjoyable. The itinerary was obviously the high point of the cruise. We matched up with other couples we met on cruise critic for private tours at all the stops except Wellington and Melbourne which we did on our own. The highlights were the geothermal formations at Tauranga, the Mail Run in Akaroa and the Wildlife Sanctuary at Hobart. It was a good time. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2012
This was our sixth cruise with Princess, and the experience was as usual: very good, but not quite excellent. I'll comment on the things that struck me as perhaps useful to others. Embarcation and departure were a snap, aided by ... Read More
This was our sixth cruise with Princess, and the experience was as usual: very good, but not quite excellent. I'll comment on the things that struck me as perhaps useful to others. Embarcation and departure were a snap, aided by our platinum status. We had stayed at The Sebel in Auckland (recommended -- an easy walk to the pier if your suitcases have wheels). We were in C103 (Caribe deck). This is at the bow and is actually a balcony at an ocean view rate -- the reason being that the balcony is locked for understandable reasons when the ship is underway. Since it is at the bow, the ship's movement is more noticeable, but that was fine with us. It also means rather long walks to get to the rest of the ship, but that is also fine with us -- one needs the exercise. I'd recommend the location, assuming the motion will not bother you. We chose any time dining, which works well for us. The food was good. I usually order fish for the main course, and am usually somewhat disappointed. That's understandable -- fish is less forgiving in preparation, and it's hard to prepare well on the scale required. I'm always an optimist -- and am usually not as happy as I'd hoped to be. Mind you, the fish was OK -- but not great. The cold soups and pastas, on the other hand, are usually excellent. The staff is uniformly pleasant (must be a challenge to be so cheerful so consistently). Read Less
Sail Date: December 2012
Our family enjoys cruising on Princess, this was our fourth voyage and it took us to a part of the world we'd never seen: New Zealand and Australia. There were six of us on this trip, no kids. The service, particularly in the ... Read More
Our family enjoys cruising on Princess, this was our fourth voyage and it took us to a part of the world we'd never seen: New Zealand and Australia. There were six of us on this trip, no kids. The service, particularly in the Lido deck, was among the best we've ever had. The room was kept clean and tidy, the steward was quick to respond to every request. Embarkation and Disembarkation Brilliant! Our trip started and ended on a high note. We had no delays getting on or off the ship. We didn't have to sit once (in the past we've been parked for 15 minutes to a half hour.) The processing went smoothly, the folks processing our documents were not only pleasant but in a good mood. Very pleasant. When we disembarked, we had breakfast in the Lido and decided to walk down twenty minutes early to meet at the appointed spot for disembarking. When we got there, they told us to walk off the ship. Our luggage was easily accessible and in minutes we were out the door and waiting for our taxi. Ship: As this is our fourth trip on Princess, we may be getting a bit picky. The ship shows its age. The balcony furniture in our room had peeling paint. The mirror was discolored at the bottom where water had seeped in behind. But you had to look close to see signs of aging and for the most part, there was too much to enjoy to notice the signs of age. Food: We're pretty set in our ways. We do traditional dining, early seating. There was a hitch in our reservations, so our group of six was split between two tables. We caught up with the maitre d' just after getting on board and he found us a table for six in the Vivaldi Dining room. Service started out a little rocky, but by the end of the trip we felt we'd been extremely well-treated. Things got better every day. The food itself ranged from excellent to so-so. Their steaks were particularly disappointing most nights. I enjoy salmon, but their daily offering left me cold. The daily specials with fish and sea food were generally excellent. We started taking our waiter's recommendations after a few days and found she had an excellent sense of what was good on the menu. Lido Deck The service on the Lido Deck was exceptional. There was always someone there to help out, carrying trays, bringing coffee, etc. The food was as good as any we've had on Princess. In the morning, they did a top-notch job of serving eggs -- which isn't easy on a big ship. They poached, fried, soft-boiled your egg in a jiffy. And they offered specialties, like eggs benedict that were very good. At lunch they set up a daily buffet line outside on the deck offering a different themed food each day: Italian, desserts, Mexican. Those were quite good. Everyone tried the pizza, hamburger, or hot dog line at least once and no one was disappointed. Big issue: The rear section of the Lido Deck opens on the smoking area. For some reason on this ship, Princess didn't set up the doors properly to reduce the smell of smoke in the dining area. We nabbed some tables for the six of us in the stern area on the first day and expected to come back, but after a couple of days, we were chased away by the smell of smoke. Until this gets fixed, we won't be going on the Diamond Princess again. Fitness Area My wife and I hit the gym almost every day. The first day, only some of the treadmills had been turned on, so there was a line of people waiting for the few machines that were operating. There are no attendants, so exercisers started experimenting with various buttons and soon got all but one working. In general, Princess has enough equipment for runners and joggers. It looks like most people follow the 30-minute recommended maximum when the machines are full, so there is rarely a long wait for a machine. The group also took part in a few of the line-dancing and Zumba classes to keep our blood pumping. Entertainment The main stage was disappointing compared to other cruises. We saw one show with the Princess dancers and didn't go again. Two Texan artists were very good. One was a comedian and pianist, the other a tenor. The best show was a ventriloquist. Very funny with humor targeted at a cruising audience. Diamond Princess has some of their acts do the main stage once and a smaller venue for a second night. This seems like a great idea. If you like an act, you can see it again. We were, as always, delighted by some of the various performers at the lounges. The pianist at the crooner's bar, the pianist in the atrium who also played the pan flute, and the classical quartet that played in the atrium almost daily. Excursions The six of us arranged some independent tours, which worked out well, and took some tours arranged by the ship, which also worked out well. We find the independent tours tend to be less expensive and more flexible, even if you are seeing similar things. Auckland Not much to see. Tauranga Best excursion of the cruise overall. The six of us got an all-day tour of Rotorua and the surrounding area from a guide who is a resident of Rotorua. Delightful. We loved the lakes, the thermal features, and the sheep-shearing exhibition. Perhaps the highlight, though, was a picnic lunch in the town's rose garden, with fish and chips from an award-wining local restaurant. Picton This was the ship's first trip to Picton. Our group split up. My wife and I went hiking on Queen Charlotte Track. This was a ship's tour: a one-hour walk after a twenty-minute boat ride. We got to see the sound, which is beautiful, then walk through the fern forests. We loved it. They dropped us off in Picton and we caught the free shuttle back to the ship after walking around the stores. Others went to the wine country and got to taste some of New Zealand's wonderful whites, also on a ship's tour. Wellington We were in town on New Year's Day, so shops were closed. We took the transfer to downtown, then walked to the Te Papa Museum. Nice museum. Akaroa Took a cruise of the harbor, saw seals, blue penguins and Hector's dolphins, which raced alongside the boat. The weather was perfect, sunny, and the skipper was a local who moved around the deck in bare feet and told stories about his exploits as a teenager diving for crayfish. Dunedin Best wildlife day. We split up again. Three of us took a private trip that required a fair amount of walking. We went to the Royal Albatross preserve and then to a private area with sealions, blue penguins, yellow-eyed penguins and a breeding ground for fur seals (with dozens of young pups sparring with each other in the tidal pools). The walk got us a few feet away from most of the animals. The other three arranged a wildlife cruise through the ship. They were able to see most of the same animals, except the yellow-eyed penguins, from the water and the boat was able to move in fairly close to the wildlife. Hobart Petted the kangaroos. We arrived while wildfires were raging in the area. Many tours were cancelled, but our guide arranged a tour even though she was trapped by the fires and couldn't get out until the next day. She got a substitute driver and van which took us on a wide-reaching tour of the area around Hobart. We were most happy with the stop at the Bonorong Wildlife Park. This is a home for rescued wildlife. They have dozens of Kangaroos that roam the area without restraint. We got to feed and stroke them. The park participates in the Tasmanian Devil research aimed at saving the species and they allowed us to get very close to the devils, baby Wombats, koalas, and dozens of others species. We enjoyed our stop at the Cascade Brewery where we tasted a flight of their beers. The smoke ruled out a visit to their waterfalls or to the top of Mt. Wellington. Visibility was pretty bad. Melbourne We took the express bus to downtown, then took the tourist bus that showed us the highlights of the city. Very straightforward. Good place to shop. Got presents for the kids. Sydney What can you do in half a day in Sydney? We found out when we arranged a private van to get us to the airport by 1 pm so we could catch our flights. Terrific tour that included a stop at the Sydney Fish Market and a half dozen stops at the best places to take photographs of the harbor. Summary Overall we had a great time and we wouldn't hesitate to get back on a Princess cruise, though not on the Diamond Princess. While it might be a minor issue for some, the smoke in the Lido deck is a deal-breaker for us. We also left the cruise with a tremendous desire to head back to New Zealand and Australia. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2012
Pre cruise There is an Airport Shuttle from the Airport to Downtown Auckland for $14 one way. Pickup is outside Door Nine in the International Terminal and you pay the driver directly. The bus was a typical city-type bus and the driver ... Read More
Pre cruise There is an Airport Shuttle from the Airport to Downtown Auckland for $14 one way. Pickup is outside Door Nine in the International Terminal and you pay the driver directly. The bus was a typical city-type bus and the driver announced which hotels were served at each stop. Pre-Cruise Hotel was Crowne Plaza CBD which is a nice hotel- about what you would expect from a Crowne Plaza property. If arriving from the Airport on the Express bus there is a back entrance along Elliot Street. From the bus stop at 237 Queen St., take Darby St. to the pedestrian Mall on Elliot St. and turn left. The marked Entrance is through the mall on the right. We used Gray Line Tours for a one-day bus tour of the North Island that included the Glow Worm caves in Waitomo and the thermal park in Rotorua. They pick up right in front of the Crowne Plaza so it was easy to coordinate. The glow worms are inside a cave and are visible on the ceiling. After walking through the cave area, you get in a raft and silently move towards the dark cave where the glowworms are nestled in the ceiling. The scene resembles a planetarium with the dots of Glow Worms on the ceiling. In Rotorua, the Thermal Park and Maori Concert at Te Puia were nice. Included was a guided tour of the mud pots and geysers. There was also a Kiwi at the park but since they are nocturnal it was almost impossible to see it in the darkened display. A light lunch was served on the bus as well as a snack on the way back to Auckland. This is a good way to see the north island and the thermal areas for far less than a ship excursion. Embarkation- Quick and painless. We arrived just after 4 and walked through without waiting. The Ship- The Diamond Princess was extremely stable, even during heavy seas. In fact, it was far more stable than previous ships we have been on. The only noticeable issue was a "wobble" or vibration at times but even in the Tasman Sea the ship never actually rocked too much. Passengers were evenly mixed between Aussies, Brits, and Yanks, along with some groups of Russians, New Zealanders, and Brazilians. For the first time on a cruise, the beer on board was cheaper than in port. For most Americans and Canadians, the cost of many things in NZ and AUS are much higher than found at home. For example, $2.90NZD for a 16oz. Coke was about average in stores. Also, Princess had money exchange machines on board which gave a similar rate to banks ashore but the exchange fee was only $4.50USD which was cheaper than the local banks and money exchange stores. We felt the staff was more attentive and personable than ever before. We felt this was the best overall service we received of any Cruise, even though many of the Crew contracts expired midway through the cruise. My only complaint is the one way entrance and exit in the buffet which caused traffic jams as passengers backtrack to exit and collide with those moving clockwise as they enter. The Wake Show with cruise director Kelvin was excellent. Just FYI, he is moving to the Crown Princess after the next cruise. I don't know if Port lecturer Elizabeth was unfamiliar with the ports on this cruise or just wasn't good at presentations, but she was not the best for directions if you wanted to explore on your own. Typical things missing from port lectures were what times the Shuttles ran or how far it was to the central business district. She also tended to wander off topic into things not related to the port. Food- Excellent. Typical Breakfast on the buffet included Corned Beef Hash, Fried Eggs, Omelets, Pancakes/ French toast, whole fruit, Apples, Pears, Oranges, stewed Pears, Prunes, Peaches, Oatmeal and Congee, Bacon, link Sausage, and an alternative Sausage (Italian, bangers, etc.) and different variations of Fried Rice. Operating times which did not change were 5:00am-6:00am for Continental and 6:00am-11:30am for regular breakfast (although by 5:30am full breakfast was always out and available) Lunch was available from 11:30am-3:30pm and snacks (good) from 3:30pm-5:30pm. Lunch options were too varied to list but always available were fruit, excellent rolls and bread, wrapped sandwiches, a carved meat and four other main course meats, salad bar, and a dessert bar. Dinner was 5:30pm and 8:00pm for traditional seating and 5:30pm-10:00pm for anytime dining. The Buffet was open 5:30pm-11:00pm. In the MDR always available for dinner were a half pound Burger, Sirloin Steak, and grilled Salmon. There was an optional poolside buffet on sea days which alternated with Italian, Mexican, Sushi, and Soup days. On three of the sea days they provided a British "Pub Lunch" in one of the alternative Dining rooms with your choice of a Ploughman's lunch of bread, cheese and pickles, or either bangers and mash or fish and chips (beer extra). It was a nice thought, but we could have found better food in any of the dining rooms. In a change from our last Princess cruise, the soft serve at Scoops is now free during opening hours 11:00am-11:00pm Entertainment -- Mostly production shows featuring the ships dancers for the first nine days, with some comedians and Ventriloquists later in the cruise. There are three movie channels on the TV that show recent movies that were in theaters within the last year. Typically the primary MUTS movie was shown the next day on channel 21, but not listed in the channel guide. The Channel lineup was ESPN international, NFL games (during season) Australian TV (within Australian waters) an art channel, Princess TV (TV show repeats including "The Love Boat"), Fox News, MSNBC, BBC, and CNBC. In the evening most alternate entertainment was skewed towards music and dancing in the Explorers lounge, Wheelhouse bar, and the Atrium. Onboard activities- The sea days included the usual assortment of carpet bowling and fee-based and fee-free seminars. For New Year's, there was a balloon drop in the atrium and a second party outside on the pool deck that had steamers and similar festivities. Champagne bottles were available for purchase There is a self-service laundry on each floor for $2.00 each for wash and the same for dry. The wash/dry times listed on the machines aren't always accurate, so plan on getting back early. There was also a special on one sea day of $20 for everything you could stuff in a laundry bag. Otherwise you could opt for the usual dry cleaning at a cost consistent with most Hotels. Disembarkation -- Typical Princess Cruises quick and painless disembarkation. At our allotted time we walked off the ship. Nothing more need be said. I'll list detailed port information in the Cruise Critic port reviews. The following are Princess-specific details: Tauranga-- Docked in Mt. Maunganui at the intersection of Mall Rd. and Salisbury Ave. There were plenty of local tours offered at the I-site in the port, including a HoHo bus which at $25 compared favorably to the $15 for a round trip bus to Tauranga offered by Princess. Picton- We were parked on Shakespeare Bay. There was a free shuttle here since there is no public access to the port area. Since Picton is a small town, we took the Bus to Blenheim - it is 25 min but also easily drivable. You can book the bus in advance or get tickets from the I-site. We felt both Picton and Blenheim were about half day visits each. The I-site will book tours, buses, trains, etc. We wanted to see the Omaka aviation museum in Blenheim but didn't make it. There were rental cars available near the I-Site advertising for $25 a day. Unfortunately, the bus schedule didn't work to get there and back. In retrospect, we should have taken the ships excursion or rented a car. There were also local tours available to the museum which were half the cost of the ships excursion. These local tours were also bookable through the I-site. Wellington- the Ship docked right next to Westpac stadium. Princess offered a $10 shuttle into town, but from where we were docked, for us it was easily walkable into town. From the Stadium into City Center was approx. 1 Km. We were in town on New Year's day so a lot of shops and sites (such as Weta Cave) were closed. Akaroa- This was a Tender port. There was plenty of local vendor's dockside as we arrived, selling their tours. You can pay cash to the vendors directly or pay the dockside I-site rep with a credit card. We used Akaroa tours for the $45 round trip to Christchurch with a drop off at the I-site next to Canterbury museum. No need to take the tour to the red zone for an additional $15 unless you are unable to walk the four blocks from Canterbury Museum to Christchurch Cathedral. You can walk through most of the damaged area along the sidewalk although all the destroyed /damaged buildings are fenced off. Dunedin- docked in Port Chalmers. Princess offered a $15 Shuttle which drops off in Dunedin in front of the Robert Burns statue at the Octagon. Some passengers got off their tour buses in town and only used the shuttle one way. This was the only port in NZ that required both a picture ID plus a cruise card for access to the port and the ship. The disembarkation and return was also a bit chaotic here. Port Chalmers has maybe an hour's worth of browsing with some small shops and most importantly a New World Supermarket within walking distance of the ship. On our itinerary Hobart was the next stop with three days at sea before we arrived so the Supermarket trip for some snacks was a must. Hobart- docked right in town at Sullivan's Cove parallel to Hunter St. There is a courtesy shuttle which makes two stops; the first at the visitor's center and the second at Salamanca place. There is shopping at both Elizabeth Street and Salamanca place which were all about a 20 minute walk from ship along a marked path. We took the Princess Excursion to Bongorong Park and Richmond. We considered a rental car but the park is out of town and not clearly marked from the road. (In fact, our excursion bus driver got loss and cost us 10 minutes at the park.) At Bongarong, Kangaroos were roaming free in their compound. Free feed was available to feed them. Several Tasmanian Devils were also in enclosures. Wombats, Koalas, Emus, Wallaby's, and Purple Tongued Lizards were all in natural habitat areas and on display for that perfect close-up picture. For most fellow cruisers we spoke with, this was the highlight of the cruise. Unfortunately the ships excursions only spend 45 minutes there and everyone felt that was not nearly enough time. Richmond is included in several of the combined excursions with Bongarong and has the oldest church, oldest bridge, and a Gaol. This city was worth about 30 minutes of browsing instead of the hour spent here. Everyone on our bus would rather have spent the time at Bongarong. Melbourne- Docked at the Station Pier. There are two main methods to enter the city from the port. The #109 tram runs every 10-20 minutes from near the food store just outside the port. There is also a free one-way shuttle from the ship into town which drops off in front of the Victoria Arts Center. The free shuttle and tourist bus was actively pushed at the tourist center in the port, along with directions on how to pick up the tourist shuttles. When we were there both the free downtown visitor tour bus and free city circle tram were packed so tightly with Tourists that it was almost impossible to see anything. Both take just over an hour to make a circuit. Regardless of which way you decide to get to town, you will need a Myki card to return on the 109 Tram unless you have an excursion or private tour booked. Sydney - Docked at Circular Quay in the Overseas Terminal. A cab from the ship to our post-Cruise Hotel in the city center near Queen Victoria market was only $9. There was also train or bus service from the Circular Quay station which is only a short walk from the ship. If going straight to the Airport, the Airport Express bus runs from Circular Quay to the airport for $16 one way. There are also numerous Airport Shuttle companies that pick up from the Hotels for a few dollars less. Your Hotel should be able to book this for you. There is no end of things to do in Sydney. We had four days post-cruise and still felt we missed a lot. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2012
PRINCESS CRUISES DIAMOND PRINCESS When we booked our 35 day cruise, taking us some 13,000 miles from Auckland to Beijing with 16 stops in New Zealand, Australia, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan and China we wondered how Princess could meet ... Read More
PRINCESS CRUISES DIAMOND PRINCESS When we booked our 35 day cruise, taking us some 13,000 miles from Auckland to Beijing with 16 stops in New Zealand, Australia, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan and China we wondered how Princess could meet the standards we have experienced on Cunard and Holland America at a cost of only £140 per person per day on a magnificent ship and in a mini suite with one of the largest balconies imaginable. The answer is they can't and they make little pretence of trying to. That is not to say the cruise -- which we thoroughly enjoyed -- wasn't good value. But it's a distinctly downmarket product. One gets a sense of this with the first cup of coffee. The mugs in the Lido (or the Horizon Court as Princess calls it) are melamine, as are the plates. And the coffee is pretty much undrinkable. The food there is however, very good. Bland, of course, but varied and with simple things done well. I would rate their production of breakfast as highly as anything we've experienced at sea with first class eggs, excellent corned beef hash and lean English bacon alongside the crispy American variety. The Lido is really where Princess put most of their catering effort and, in their defence, they are responding to what customers want. Huge portions are the priority and day after day, meal after meal, we watched cruisers fill the enormous oval dinner plates with massive helpings. Not surprisingly, many of the cruisers were as massive as the portions they loaded onto their plates. But in the formal restaurant, things are disappointing. Formal dining may not last much longer on Princess. On the second, 8.15 sitting, we sat in a frequently half full restaurant where the service was very good but where the food was largely mediocre and sometimes simply poor. If only it had matched the quality of the prose on the menu. One night, between Hong Kong and Taiwan, the six of us ordered Rib Eye steaks which were huge in size but with so much gristle that not one of us would have paid for them in a restaurant. The beef was almost always lacking in flavour and the kitchen perpetually struggled to produce steaks or prime rib which met our requirements. One night, medium rare beef would be nearly blue and on another almost well done. Vegetables were sad, the soups inevitably uninspiring and everything was served with far too much salt. We drank so much water at dinner that we always left the table feeling bloated. There are good things about Diamond Princess. The ship is magnificent with six pools and eighteen bars and its size meant that it coped superbly with some unusually difficult weather including, at one point, 30-foot seas and a force ten gale. The staff are always well presented, always wonderfully welcoming, and we found the bar staff outstanding. The Crooners Bar produces Margaritas to die for. But the entertainment was generally very poor with puerile comedians and two Cruise Directors convinced that their job was all about presenting an imbecilic morning show on stateroom TV. Movies Under The Stars provided an exception. The picture quality was good, the sound quality excellent and this was a delightful way to watch the cinema late at night. The cabins are the usual high quality. We had D736 a mini suite but designed for disabled customers and with two beds which would not easily fit together. But by compensation we had a huge bathroom and a magnificent balcony of double the normal size and with views to the rear as well out to sea. We had just one cabin steward who had to cope with twenty rooms on his own and we soon realised that it was impossible for him to respond promptly or sometimes at all to additional requests. The customer base is a little different to our previous experiences on Cunard and Holland America. There was little formality and only a minority of men wore tuxedos on the half dozen formal nights. On the other nights smart casual really meant that anything goes, including shorts and lots of blue denim jeans worn by men who were old enough to know better. Baseball caps in the formal dining room were a common sight. So our verdict on Princess? Good value but this is an economy product. Nothing wrong with that. But if you have enjoyed the standards of lines like Cunard or HAL (even though they might cost more) you'll find Princess seriously lacking. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2012
We arrived in Auckland after a very unpleasant flight on Air Pacific using American miles, uncomfortable seats, bad service and a terrible stop at Fiji airport which was completely disorganized and inadequate. Doing it again we would ... Read More
We arrived in Auckland after a very unpleasant flight on Air Pacific using American miles, uncomfortable seats, bad service and a terrible stop at Fiji airport which was completely disorganized and inadequate. Doing it again we would rather pay than fly on Air Pacific. The Qantas return from Sydney was very comfortable on the new 380 and service was 100% better. We stayed at the Hilton Auckland on the pier adjacent to the ship-very nice and also convenient for city walking. 4 days was more than adequate for Auckland-there is a tower, a very fine museum, ferry rides to islands, very attractive port area with many restaurants and very expensive food-$20 hamburgers except at McDonald's and $6 coffee. Boarding for the cruise was fairly efficient even though the ship was completely full-too full. However, everything was crowded almost all the time, dining, shows, buffet-too many people for the space and services. We had to arrive for a show 30 minutes prior to get a seat and sometimes that wasn't enough. Our cabin had a partially blocked window. It was adequate but not luxurious. The Princess arrangement with the closet in front of the bathroom as a room divider works well. Probably the worst feature of the ordinary princess cabin is the tiny bathroom. I really don't know how large people manage? First port was Tauranga-very pretty-nice weather. We took a tour to the Maori area and show. Some interesting historical information, native dancing but a very informal setting in sort of a plain community center type building. Second port was Akaroa due to earthquake in Christ Church. Akaroa is a little village on an attractive bay (volcano caldera) ,however, there isn't much to do there. We took a local tour around the countryside to a cheese factory and some scenic overlooks. Third port was Dunedin-interesting city with Scottish flavor-getting to city involves 30 minute bus ride as ship is unable to navigate to inside harbor. We took a very nice guided city tour of entire area on our own from city tourist bureau. Nearby art museum had a very pleasant cafe on the street where we ate lunch. While we were in Dunedin, a cold and windy day, the captain of the ship announced that we would not be going any further south as scheduled due to a big storm and that we would not be seeing the New Zealand fjords. That was disappointing but, of course, safety is the first concern. As a result we turned back north to cross through the Cook Strait, the body of water between the north and south islands of New Zealand. The captain said this was 900 miles out of the way. So, we entered the Tasman Sea on our way to Hobart Tasmania. For two days the seas were extremely rough! The captain had to stop the ship because the waves were so high. It was a force 9 or 10 storm with 30 foot waves and extremely unpleasant and more unpleasant for those of us who were seasick for 2 days. This was my 7th trip on a big ship and the first time being sick. After 3 days at sea we finally made it late into Hobart, Tasmania. The captain gave extra time in port due to the delay, and he did keep the passengers fairly well informed. In Hobart we took a ship tour to the animal park to see kangaroos and other Australian wildlife. Interesting to see the animals up close-you could pet the kangaroos and koalas, but the park was very small and the facilities were crude and undeveloped with little muddy paths. You would expect a more developed organized setting for such a large group of visitors. Next port was Melbourne, nice port facilities, but it was necessary to take a shuttle bus into town. The shuttle services were very inefficient and apparently not prepared to take the number of people needing the service. In hindsight we would have taken a taxi which we did on the return to ship. Melbourne has a free trolley that goes around the city so we had decided to go on our own- good idea except that the trolley and the available buses were so crowded you couldn't get on or off. What should have been a good experience turned out to be mostly unpleasant on a hot day. We did make it to the big market and to Captain Cook's cottage. Melbourne has beautiful parks and I'm sure is a fine city under different circumstances. Another sea day and then Sydney. We arrived in Sydney early morning and ate breakfast as we glided by the Sydney Bridge and opera house-one of those iconic experiences. The port in Sydney is right at the Rocks and Circular Quay -very convenient for most hotels or a short taxi ride. We stayed at the Sydney Hilton-very nice ultra modern hotel and very convenient for walking around the city. In my opinion Sydney was the best port and most beautiful city. We went to a performance at the opera house, toured around the historical area on our own and went to the botannical gardens -all very attractive. However, be warned restaurant food in Sydney is considerably more expensive than comparable in U.S. This cruise, in my opinion, has too many at sea days,6. The food was typical Princess food, good and plentiful, but mostly not gourmet. The main show entertainment was very good, however, shows in bar areas were almost impossible to get into. There was a good lecturer on board who has written several books about the history of cruise ships and cruising, John Maxton Graham, and we enjoyed his lectures. Worst problem on ship was overcrowding. If we take another Princess cruise it will not have so many "at sea days" and hopefully will not be so overbooked. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2012
After 17 cruises this was our first cruise on Princess. Overall an impressive line and ship. The outside cabin we elected was spacious with an unusual twist of a large open closet across from the bathroom and parallel to the cabin door ... Read More
After 17 cruises this was our first cruise on Princess. Overall an impressive line and ship. The outside cabin we elected was spacious with an unusual twist of a large open closet across from the bathroom and parallel to the cabin door instead of being located just instead the cabin behind the open door. It made for easier access and larger space. The food was on par with most other cruise lines. A minor exception was a choice of ice or hot tea and coffee are the only no additional cost beverages that appear to be on offer. But like In-N-Out Burger there are off menu items available if you ask. I saw cranberry juice and lemonade requests satisfied with no problem. The ice cream station was a big bonus on this ship. Always available at the appropriate time and not crowded. Movies under the stars with the big screen above the pool with popcorn available was also a big hit. This ship has several smaller dining rooms instead of the usual 2 large ones. We had some mixed feelings on this. Apparently Princess was trying out some different ship features when this ship was built. I heard from a well renown ship historian aboard, the Skywalkers Lounge area above the rear of the vessel did not meet expectations and is being dismantled on this class of ships. Hopefully "The Sanctuary" will meet the same fate. You will be required to use alcohol based hand rub as you enter the Horizon Grill. It's really a good thing as some lady named Nora is out there potentially spreading a nasty virus that has dry docked several cruise ships in the past! The cleanliness and the decor of the ship was superb. Not bright or garish, but simple and elegant. Tours were well organized by the staff. The tender service was very efficient despite the size of the ship. The staff were very cordial and helpful. The Cruise Director Warren and his Assistant Matt were like a comedy duo. The best pairing I've seen to date. The only negatives I have of this ship is the size of the gym or fitness area is very small for this size ship. Passengers were routinely waiting for treadmills. On the New Zealand/Australia itinerary it was cool or cold with high winds across the decks, making the normal alternative of walking around the promenade deck discouraging. The hours of the gym were also very limited with an opening time of 7 AM. Several of the most popular tours started before 7 AM. Early morning workouts are one of the most popular times for many passengers. The spin classes offered were exceptional with a great recreational staff leading them. The "Sanctuary Area" established above the spa-fitness area of the ship probably by some marketing guru at Santa Clarita for a fee of $10 -$20 day or half day is underutilized. I personally hate the decision the cruise lines are making toward putting in these cordoned off areas. If I pay the price to be on the cruise ship, I should have access to all public areas without an additional fee. I suggest on the next refurbishment of the ship, the fitness area should be expanded and the Sanctuary dismantled or at least greatly downsized. The other negative feature is the main showroom is too small to accommodate all the passengers wanting to see the early seating of their production shows. You have to arrive around 20 to 30 minutes early or you will be standing. At least 50 were standing for every show we attended. I heard this complaint from several passengers. The issue I think is with the advent of anytime dining and the prevailing age of the passengers on this ship and itinerary, most will attend the first seating. However It's a very nicely designed theater with no columns. But one of the first I have seen in years on a ship this size lacking a balcony. They need to add about another 25 seats perhaps on each side . Maybe another consideration when the ship is in for refurbishment. A few other tips about the Diamond Princess. As she typically makes long Pacific rim cruises, so very considerate of the passengers need to clean their clothing during these long voyages, there are laundromats handily available on most decks. The machines take US quarters, but there is a $1 bill changer machine in the laundry. The Washing machines are $2, the dryer is $2 , and detergent is$1.25. It will take 2 cycles of the dryer to get your clothes dry. So plan on $7.25 to wash a load of clothes. Bring several singles to avoid going to the purser. There are also 4 no charge irons and ironing boards in the laundry. There was 2 currency changing machines aboard. The exchange rate fee was about $4.50. We typically used the ATMs on shore as advised by most travel books to convert currency. US swipe designed credit cards were not an issue in New Zealand or Australia like they are becoming in Europe. In our cabin there was a wall mounted hair dryer and 2 additional 110 volt plugs. Also a small refrigerator that you could put your own drinks in. There was a 19 inch flat panel TV where you could access the line in plugs to check you camera photos or video. Standard Carnival Corporation internet packages were available, with a strong enough WiFi capability to use your laptop or iPad in your cabin. But we supplemented that with Internet cafes on shore when time permitted. The ship even had a get together listed for iPad users. I did not mention the ports on my review because this ship calls at numerous ports throughout the Pacific rim. But as others have mentioned crossing the Tasmanian Sea between New Zealand and Australia can be rough. True to form, it was so rough on our crossing the Captain had to cancel our last port of call in Southern New Zealand divert North about 800 nautical miles to the Cook's Straight between the North and South Islands in New Zealand to avoid potential 30 foot swells. As it turns out we hit three low pressure cells with the last one producing 100 MPH gale force winds and 30 foot swells outside of Hobart Tasmania. The Captain had to reduce the ship's speed to 1-3 knots at times. For a short time the ship was actually moving backwards at -0.2 knots, delaying our arrival into Hobart about 6 hours But the Captain extended our time in Hobart the lost amount and got us through a bad storm. Disembarkation was a breeze like embarkation. All in all a great cruise experience on Princess! Read Less
Sail Date: January 2012
This was our first cruise with Princess and we loved it. We arrived a night before the cruise and stayed at Waldorf Celestion Apartments Hotel which was booked on Hotels.com for about $100 per night. From this hotel we walked to Sky City, ... Read More
This was our first cruise with Princess and we loved it. We arrived a night before the cruise and stayed at Waldorf Celestion Apartments Hotel which was booked on Hotels.com for about $100 per night. From this hotel we walked to Sky City, The Auckland Museum and to the ship. The day of embarkation we arrived at the ship after 2PM, as they recommend and had no waiting. The Diamond Princess was lovely, larger than ships we have been on in the past. We had a cabin with a window. The room was plenty large enough for the 2 of us with adequate storage. My husband thought the food on this ship was better than other cruises we have been on. We did go to Sterling Steakhouse that cost an extra $20/person but did not think the food was any better than the regular dining room. We opted for 6PM traditional dining which I really liked. Our waiter, Jeff was with us every night and did a great job. It was also fun to sit with the same 6 people. Ports of Call: We did private tours at each stop. Tauranga: We went with Terry Tours to Kiwi 360, Lake Rotorua, Ti Puia, Government Gardens and around Tauranga. John was very knowledgeable and professional. It was nice riding in his van with just 2 other couples. Akaroa: We were originally suppose to port in Christchurch but due to the damage they have recently had we stopped at Akaroa instead. Akaroa was beautiful. Here we did the Eastern Bay Scenic Mail Run. We spent the day with the Mailman as he delivered mail all around the area. It was a lovely day with great scenery as Robin drove up and down narrow gravel roads. He is a former Conservation Ranger and gave interesting commentary. Dunedin: We did not do a tour here but we probably would have enjoyed this stop more if we had. It was very chilly so our first stop was to buy hat and gloves. We walked through Olveston, which is a 35 room mansion, the train station and the Cadbury factory. We were scheduled to do an overland excursion with the ship to Queenstown and catch the ship at Milford Sound but due to rough water the ship could not go through the fiordland so this excursion was cancelled. Tasmania: Due to rough seas and the ship having to change coarse we arrived here several hours late. I had booked an excursion with Judy at Eye See Personalized Tours. She was wonderful. She waited all morning for our ship to arrive and had made alternate plans for us. Since we did not arrive until 2PM we did not have time to go to Port Arthur. Instead we went to Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary and Mt. Field Nat'l Park. Melbourne: We did not book a tour here either and wished we had. We see so much more on a tour. We walked through the Royal Botanical Gardens, the Melbourne Goal and Queen Victoria Market. The ships captain did a good job at keeping us informed about weather and safety. When we arrived in Sydney we were picked up to begin our 7 day journey of Australia. Princess does these land tours right. All hotels and meals were wonderful and our guide Greg was fantastic!!! He kept us organized and laughing. I would highly recommend that if you are flying all the way to New Zealand and Australia you stay long enough to add on a land tour. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2011
Embarkation and disembarkation was very easy. We arrived early 11am for 1pm and were allowed on at 11:45. Luggage arrived promptly. Disappointed in the buffet so never went back there. Ate all our meals in the dining room and enjoyed the ... Read More
Embarkation and disembarkation was very easy. We arrived early 11am for 1pm and were allowed on at 11:45. Luggage arrived promptly. Disappointed in the buffet so never went back there. Ate all our meals in the dining room and enjoyed the food. Friendly staff and good service.The only problem was finding the dining room. Very strange layout on this ship. Afternoon tea was delightful. No wine package for white wines. Itinerary was good. Only did one tour at Tauranga. Very enjoyable despite pouring with rain all day. Entertainment mixed. Crowded venues for some of the entertainment which was in one of the bars. Disappointed in the fact they had no lecture series. Disappointed in the way people dressed on formal nights and in general. Inconsistent temperatures around the ship. Some places were like an ice box. Now for the big negative. Our bed was terrible. So hard we couldn't sleep the first night. The worst bed we have ever slept on on a cruise ship or anywhere else for that matter.After complaining they put on a cheesy cheap mattress topper which had not been aired and therefore gave us a second sleepless night because of the smell. In the end they brought us old ones and 2 of them. We finally slept. Could not watch TV in bed because the TV was adjacent to the bed. You could only watch by lying crosswise on the bed. How ridiculous is that. I took my own hairdryer because I read someone complain about the one in the room on cruise critic. I was glad I did because the one they provided was useless for styling short hair. It had a rectangular outlet 2"X5"! We also took along an adapter with 3 outlets(2 provided in the room) Read that on cruise critic. If only Princess had got the bed right from the start what a difference it would have made. It has made me wary of sailing with them again. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2011
Well here we are back from our first ever cruise so far from the UK, boarding in Auckland and finishing in Sydney, What we wanted was to experience something really new so the Diamond Princess arrives in Australia. So what culinary ... Read More
Well here we are back from our first ever cruise so far from the UK, boarding in Auckland and finishing in Sydney, What we wanted was to experience something really new so the Diamond Princess arrives in Australia. So what culinary treat do we get as the restaurant theme>>>THAI. Amazing !! Who'se idea was that ?? We never got the feel of the great food experience of our being anywhere near New Zealand or Australia on board. All the boat is is a little America and that is who it caters for. We were told that is because the Americans were the majority of the passengers but that was not the case, there were 1100 compared to 1500 from the rest of the world. We also had one of the best weather days twice taking over three decks by the big screen showing American football with all the accompanying noise, plus barsscreening the matches. No thought of the odd soccer match which is recognised world wide, but no just satisfy the USA so called majority. The entertainment was very poor just the same show each time, singers and dancers with a different theme. On the plus side it's a great ship, the staff are briliiant and the drink prices are really good especialy with the after eight offers, but that is our last trip on an American owned line. We go to America regularly but do not want another little America on waterthank you very much. Richard & Lorna Read Less
Sail Date: January 2011
In the email we received from Princess we were asked to arrive at the port after 2:00 p.m. We arrived shortly after that time by cab and were impressed with the service. The baggage handlers took the luggage out of the cab and by the time ... Read More
In the email we received from Princess we were asked to arrive at the port after 2:00 p.m. We arrived shortly after that time by cab and were impressed with the service. The baggage handlers took the luggage out of the cab and by the time we checked in and arrived in our room, a 45 minute process, the bags were already there. The check-in was prompt and efficient. We chose anytime dining and always asked to have a table on our own. We did not have to wait and our wish was granted. The waiters were always very pleasant and the food was delicious. We ate at the two restaurants with the $20.00 service charge two evenings. The food at both places was excellent. We were a little disappointed with the decor and ambiance at the Sterling Steak house but had no complaints about either the food or service. We were much more impressed with Sabitini's. We had a lot of courses to eat our way through at that dinner but we managed to roll ourselves back to the room after dinner. We ordered room service two of the mornings when we had early tours and that was delivered efficiently at the time we requested. We ate breakfast in the dining room as we like to be served. We only ate lunch in the buffet on two occasions but found the food excellent. Our cabin steward was very efficient and our room was cleaned the sea days while we were at breakfast. When we came back after dinner our bed was turned down and the chocolate on the pillow. He was very pleasant as were all the cabin stewards we met in the hallways. The bed was hard but comfortable. We had lots of space in the open closet to store our luggage. The shower was very small and with the shower curtain and not a proper door we had water all over the floor every time we showered. The water temperature kept changing and we couldn't seem to solve that problem. We were not impressed with the entertainment in the theatre. Two of the nights an Australian singer performed and we enjoyed her talents. We went to a couple of the Princess theatre's own performers and were not that impressed with the shows. We were disappointed the final night as we expected some kind of grand finale. The lady comedian who performed needs to update her jokes as most of them were old. The cruise director was okay but not as outgoing as we have had on other cruises. We did enjoy the movies under the stars. The popcorn and warm cookies which were served were an added bonus. I attended a ceramics class and was disappointed in that. The person who was supposed to teach us was clearly not interested and I was frustrated, trying to figure out what I was supposed to do. I think she just had too much to do. The scrap-booking course was also a disappointment as it was shown in the patter to be scrap-booking but was really making a journal. The person who showed up late was the same lady who was in charge of the ceramics. She said she was there and no one showed up so she left. She was given the wrong time and we waited more than 30 minutes for her to come back. The embarkation went very smoothly. We requested a late departure as we knew we couldn't get into our hotel room but were required to be at the explorer lounge by 8:10 a.m. When we arrived at 8:00 a.m. our group was already leaving. It did not take very long to retrieve our suitcases and disembark. Other than the points mentioned above, the cruise was wonderful. We took the Maori cultural tour in Tauranga in the morning and after a rushed lunch were taken to the Agrodome for a sheep shearing and herding demonstration. We felt rushed both at the cultural tour and lunch but appreciate we had a lot to do in the time allotted. In Christchurch, we took the train trip through the Southern Alps. The views were spectacular and the boxed lunch provided was a very pleasant surprise. On the way back to the ship by coach we stopped at a farmhouse for cookies and tea. We then had another sheep and herding demonstration. In Dunedin we took the Taieri Gorge scenic railway tour and thoroughly enjoyed that tour. We went to the end of the line then back to Dunedin about 2:00 p.m. We had a few hours to shop before we took the shuttle bus back to the ship. It was a very cold day but the bus system was very efficient. That evening the ship was delayed 3 1/2 hours because of rough seas. We made the time up the next day. We had a bright sunny day when we cruised through the fjords. The scenery was breath-taking. We could see the fjords at their best. In Hobart Tasmania we took the Richmond/Bonorang tour. After a tour of the Richmond jail and some time to shop we went on to our next stop which was the wildlife centre. We really enjoyed seeing the animals there, the kangaroos were loose so we could get lots of pictures of them. The Hobart police pipe band performed at the theatre from 5:00 until 5:30 p.m. That was an enjoyable surprise In Melbourne we went to the Healseville Sanctuary. It was pouring rain and the guide had to rush us through the l l/2 hour guided tour. We had trouble keeping up with her. We went to a lovely restaurant for a delicious luncheon and wine tasting the on to another place to taste wine. The 360 degree views of the surrounding Yarra valley were spectacular. All in all, we had a wonderful cruise and tours and would highly recommend this to others. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2010
After traveling 22 hours from NJ and having a lovely flight business class on Air New Zealand we were excited to join our 7th cruise (a first with Princess) in Auckland - even though it was 7AM our enthusiasm was high - soon to be drowned ... Read More
After traveling 22 hours from NJ and having a lovely flight business class on Air New Zealand we were excited to join our 7th cruise (a first with Princess) in Auckland - even though it was 7AM our enthusiasm was high - soon to be drowned by the "in-hospitality" room set up by Princess for the prepaid transfer from airport to ship - We were trundled unceremoniously to a cold convention center dining room and left to "munch" at 7AM on coffee, tea, water and cookies - yes, cookies - maybe we are conservative but cookies after 24 hours of travel not a hint of a continental breakfast and worse yet, toilet facilities were 2 floors away and now, in a strange city, dead tired we were told there were restaurants etc nearby if we chose to leave the convention center - the Princess rep, Nick, was annoyed at our dismay, and we were further annoyed to find that we were literally within walking distance of the pier where there were many easily accessible places to relax and get a bite to eat - even a lovely Hilton Hotel where some of us would have gladly rented a room for the day while waiting to board rather than sit at a dining room table with no amenities and a Princess ground staff merely interested in keeping us confined. Well, we thought this is not Cunard, not Regent and not Holland American (our previous cruise providers). On board we found a lovely cabin, poor cabin service, a wonderful dining room staff and less the wonderful food,a Lido deck that was reminiscent of a college cafeteria and many sea days with nothing spectacular to do unless you paid an extra fee. Tours were outrageously high priced and offered less than one would expect for the money (many other passengers agreed). Getting a TV schedule was difficult. All in all would we cruise Princess again - NO, based again on the fact that our prepaid transfer to the airport in Sydney was a complete disaster and no one from Princess was at the airport to 'help' as promised with airport staff telling us that "they always say they will be here but they never are". Think twice before you go on the Diamond (which by the way is really the old Sapphire because the Diamond burned and the Sapphire was renamed - bad luck the ship's crew says - We say just a bad choice. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2010
Check in and Embarkation: My nephew Shankar dropped us at the Auckland terminal around 10:30 AM. The passengers were still disembarking. We dropped our bags off at 11am and checked in as a Platinum member, we got on board by 11:30 AM. My ... Read More
Check in and Embarkation: My nephew Shankar dropped us at the Auckland terminal around 10:30 AM. The passengers were still disembarking. We dropped our bags off at 11am and checked in as a Platinum member, we got on board by 11:30 AM. My wife and I went for lunch at Lido Deck. First impressions: We had an outside room on Emerald Deck (8) we went straight to our room. After we came back from lunch found our bags ready and waiting. We did a quick tour the boat and were extremely impressed with the layout and decor of the boat. We had the life boat drill which for my part of the ship was held in Wheelhouse bar, we were out of there in about 30 minutes. After this, we went to the pool deck for the sail away party. When the ship started moving, we found a choice spot above bridge on deck 16 at front the ship where we watched the impressive Auckland skyline faded away in the sunset as we sailed out. There was some drizzle when got on the ship. Later the sky cleared and could not have asked for a nicer day in Auckland. Ports: We went to four ports in New Zealand -Tarunga, Christchurch, and Dunedin and cruised through Fjord land and Milford sound. In Australia the ports were Hobart Tasmania, Melbourne and Sydney. In Tarunga we took Number 8 Farm tour which was supposed last only 3 hr, we didn't get back to ship till 4 PM a total of 5 hr. The tour guide was a retired farmer had a great knowledge about the area, and drove us all over. We purchased he tour independently after we had gotten off the ship. Next Port was Lyttleton for Christchurch. My wife Sharon's friend Marie and Murray picked at the port drove to the Center of the city. The city of Christchurch known for its beautiful garden. After doing a quick tour we went to Ballentyne Department store where we bought some beautiful sweaters made in New Zealand. Sharon has requested Captain to take our friends on the board and permission was granted. After the shopping we went back to the ship, showed the ship for our friends and had a nice lunch at the dining room. Later we took the Gondola to the top of mountain near the Harbor and got a bird's eye view of the Harbor and Christchurch. Our next port was Dunedin where Diamond Princess docked. We took Arthur's tour who met us near the dock. This was also private tour arranged by one of our friends. We visited Baldwin street, a steepest street, Otego University, Dunedin Railway, nearby Anglican Church. Then we went to Penguin Nature center to see yellow eyed Penguin colony, then went to the harbor to see the Fur seals. Afterwards we went and watched Royal Albatross nesting. Next morning, the ship sailed through the Fjord land national Park. The ship cruise through the mystic waters of the Fiordland lined with peaks 6000-7000 feet high with many cascading waterfalls which formed veils of mist spraying on the rocks and shiny Emerald green vegetation .We saw Fur seals sunning on the rocky shores and Dolphins played in waters crisscrossing our ship. The ship sailed through Dusky sound, Break sea sound, Doubtful sound, Thompson sound and finally the world famous Milford Sound is about ½ miles in widest point, the Mitre Peak raises from the water to a height of 5600 feet, the most photogenic peak. Ports in Australia. The ship took 2 days to cross the Tasman sea; fortunately sea was so calm during the day, it looks like a sheet of wet glass on which ship was gliding. We reached Hobart Tasmania which was located the Southeast corner of Tasmania. We were dropped off by bus to Information Center. We took the tour of Bonorong Wild Life preserve by Van. There we saw Koala bear, Kangaroo, Wallaby, Wombat and Tasmanian Devils, whole lots of birds native to Hobart and Australia. This also a breeding and research center for Tasmanian Devils. Later we went to the Museum where the Artifacts from Australian Aborigines and Penal colonies are displayed. We also visited Salamanca an artist colony, boutique shops where we did some shopping. Melbourne (spelled Mel-Bun) was our next port. We were dropped at the art Center. This is architecturally most beautiful and friendly city in Australia. We took a free tram which goes around the city, went to a Catholic church, and then walked to Collin and little Collin streets. There are lots of small lanes lined with small boutique shops. We also visited Shrine of Remembrance which commemorates Victoria's war dead. We walked on the river bank of Yarra river where boys were practicing their rowing skills a movie exhibit and then took a tram to our ship. Activities: The Assistant Cruise Director Tyson had dancing classes in Club Fusion on sea days and we joined his class. In addition we walked about 2 miles on seas days. My wife also joined the line dancing classes. Parnell Adams the tour Director talks were very informative and helpful. She never talked about any jewelry store or any particular store, shopping tips is general than specific. Service: The service was great. If I ever needed anything there was always someone to help out. The room was always kept clean, and there were fresh towels twice a day. Our room steward Sherwin is from Philippines was very efficient. Stateroom: The room was great; we had an outside cabin on Deck 8 which was really spacious with lots of closet space. Food: We ate in LIDO deck buffet during the port days, most of the time we ate at the International dining room. The Buffet some nice selections of food even for a Vegetarian like me. The Pizzeria, Bar Cafe had so many other things to choose from, we didn't go hungry. For evening dinner we ate at the International dining room. Our table was for 6, but there were only 4 people and our table mates are friendly and always waited for us before they ordered their dinner. The food was great! Head waiter Floriana always eager to please us with alternative menu choices. Our waiter Nila and his Assistant are well mannered and very pleasant. Both Valentine day and my wife birthday were celebrated with a glorious way with singing by, Head waiter and other waiters. I was never disappointed with what I ordered. We were always seated quickly within 5 minutes maximum. Entertainment: Most of the Production on Princess Theater was excellent quality and the singers and dancers were great. The comedian Bobby Dennis was also of very top caliber. Maurizio whom we saw in SUN Princess 10 years ago is still very popular. I At Wheel House Bar we also saw some production by Australian Artist Spring fever very funny and entertaining. Disembarkation: We had 8:15 disembarkation and custom clearance was all smooth. In all, We had a fantastic time. We really enjoyed cruising on Diamond Princess and would definitely do it again Read Less
Sail Date: January 2010
We had a group of 40 seniors from Florida who stayed 3 days in Auckland and then took the Diamond Princess to Sydney. The ship is very clean and comfortable. I would rate the food as the best I have had in 10 cruises on different lines. ... Read More
We had a group of 40 seniors from Florida who stayed 3 days in Auckland and then took the Diamond Princess to Sydney. The ship is very clean and comfortable. I would rate the food as the best I have had in 10 cruises on different lines. The ports were decent - Tauranga, Christchurch, Dunedin, Hobart, Melborne. Be aware that these ports are very much like being in the US as most AU/NZ cities have the look and feel of American cities. My only complaints on the ship were the VERY small theater and limited gym. Since we were usually some of the last done with early seating dinner, 3 nights we could not get a seat for the 8:15 show when we got there at 7:55. That was a disappointment. Also, if you want a tradmill, you will have to wait in line nearly any time of day. They did have more free fitness classes than most lines, but sorely limited equipment. The staff was wonderful....particularly food service. Lots to do on sea days.We had 30-foot waves on our crossing to Tasmania, but the captain kept us informed and the crew was very helpful. We did not try the 'anytime' dining, but some did and felt it was nice. My husband has a food allergy and the head waiter was really great about helping him and getting him the right foods. Shore excursions were quite expensive (but everything there is expensive) and ranged from mediocre to very good. Worst was Puffing Billy in Melborne. Absolutely not worth the money. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2010
We chose this cruise for three reasons: 1. It was during school holidays so the whole family was there (all four of us). 2. It visited NZ and Tasmania (which is what we wanted to see). 3. It was a twelve night voyage that spent Christmas ... Read More
We chose this cruise for three reasons: 1. It was during school holidays so the whole family was there (all four of us). 2. It visited NZ and Tasmania (which is what we wanted to see). 3. It was a twelve night voyage that spent Christmas AND new Year on board. Very exciting. This trip took place Dec 2008 and Jan 2009. It was a pleasurable experience. The buffet was extensive with delicious food, fresh produce, wonderful service. Staff were always there, no waiting around for service at the bars or with orders. Both lunch and breakfast had gorgeous meals. However it was often difficult to find tables available, and the air conditioning was often very strong in certain spots. That's okay because recently we went on a Pno CRUISE with no air con so we prefer the coldness. The service in the International Dining Room was absolutely fantastic. Our waiters were God sent and so we remained at that seating arrangement the rest of our trip. Manuel and George were funny, experienced, did everything their in paths to make us happy. They knew how to serve correctly, women first... It was very hard to say goodbye. Also,unlike many cruises today, a Baked Alaska was held. It was a fantastic experience. Also to celebrate Christmas and New Year with them was really lovely. Captains cocktails were great; Captain was lovely. All formal nights were well presented and most people dressed accordingly, that was nice. Assistant Cruise Director was fantastic, friendly and down to earth (Aussie Paul). Tours were great as well as ports of call. Tauranga and Dunedin were favourites. We spent Christmas day in Tauranga with people from a New Zealand village, it was such a cultural experience, dancing with them and pressing noses. Our favourite tour ever experienced and celebrating on Christmas day was a delight. In Dunedin seeing the Scottish castle and the intricate streets was also beautiful. And all guides were friendly, experienced and very polite. It was a pleasure to join them. New Year's was an ultimate experience! Spent in the atrium with the band playing all night, champagne, the balloon drop while sailing. And being in the middle of the Tasman meant we were first to celebrate the start of 09. It was a memorable experience and a wonderful part of our cruising days. It was great!!!!!! Shows were average in our opinion, however the Christmas show ands hypnosis act (last night) were wonderful shows. Spa/ Fitness Centre/Salon were great and did their best to accommodate us and beautify us. Our weather was good, except for two slightly rough nights, but staff accommodated well to these unpredictable changes. It was very cold for the southern hemisphere season, with the highest temp. being 19* celsius. Although we didn't let that get us down. One complaint is the Fiordland, scenic cruising which was a waste of a port. It would have been better to just put up the knots and sail quicker to Tasmania. Room was great for four people, although sofa bed was very small and uncomfortable for you siblings to share. Paintings rattled on walls. Bathroom size was decent as well as balcony space. TV programs and movies were good and up to date. Over all, dining and ports were fantastic and we enjoyed our seasonal experience on board. We thoroughly enjoyed myself and would return to the ship in the future if the opportunity arose. Plus the Princess line never disappoints. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2010
My DW and myself came off the Auckland to Sydney cruise a few days ago on the Saturday 16th January. This was our third Princess cruise and I have to say that it lived up to our expectations in that it was an absolutely wonderful ... Read More
My DW and myself came off the Auckland to Sydney cruise a few days ago on the Saturday 16th January. This was our third Princess cruise and I have to say that it lived up to our expectations in that it was an absolutely wonderful vacation experience. This is not a detailed trip report but a series of observations. The ship was in good condition with everything working fine although we did hear that for a short time the toilets on one deck were not working. The Captain informed us that the Diamond Princess goes into dry dock in October for the same modifications as the Golden. Our stateroom on the Caribe deck with a balcony was spotless with no smell of smoke. The stateroom attendant was exceptional, good service whilst being inobtrusive at the same time, nothing was too much trouble. Embarkation was exceptional in Auckland. We were dropped off by our taxi at 11:50am and we were in our stateroom at 12:15pm. The sailaway party was a bit low key but that was perhaps down to not many people attending it. We were in Anytime Dining and tended to use the Savoy dining room. We do dine early, before 6:00pm but never had a wait for a table for two. Food is subjective but we found the food to be very good, there was always something to choose. We did notice that entrees such as Texas Chilli and cottage Pie have slipped onto the menue. We like both of these dishes so it was fine for us but I'm sure experienced cruisers will see this as a little bit of cost cutting. We used the Horizon buffet quite a few times and again, found the food to be good, a large choice was always available and we could always find a clean table, even at busy times. The ship was pretty much full but it never seemed crowded, it was always possible to find a seat anywhere on the ship. Entertainement - The staff were headed up by CD Adam from Wales. We have found that the CD sets the standard for their staff and in this respect the CD's staff were very good. They always had a high visability around the ship and would chat to passengers. Adam was also very high profile aroind the ship and was the "volunteer" for all of the specialist treatments such as accipuncture. The production shows were very good althoufg even in our limites experience we had seen a few of them before. There was a new one called Piano Man which was very good and I would recommend this to everyone. Singers / Comedians were ranged from average to very good although as with food, sometimed humour is a personel thing. The wait staff in the lounges and bars were exceptional. I have found that a smile coupled with a please and thankyou and a quick chat to them is repaid by exceptional levels of service. After two nights, it was pleasing to walk into say Club Fusion ot the Explorers lounge and be greated by wait staff saying " good evening Alan, is it the usual tonight for you and your wife?" I do have to say that not all passengers treat them as well and I noticed on a number of occasions other people barking out requests to them and treating them with little or no rerspect. Ports of Call - We stopped at Tauronga, Christchurch, Dunedin, Hobart, Melbourne and lastly Sydney. Apart from Melbourne, we had not visited any of the ports so chose half day tours with Princess. These are not the cheapest way to see the cities but it is an effective use of time for first time visitors. These were very well organised and on all occasions, we were on our way at the appropriate times. We always saw a lot in the time that we had. All cities were very good and the weather was kind to us in that we did not have any rain. If we ever return, now that we have our bearings, we would see the cities by ourselves. We did have a challenging twelve hours across the Tasman Sea. We experienced 12m (40ft) swells / waves and the Captain slowed the ship's speed to 5kts and the ship road the waves / swell quite well. My DW and myself were having dinner at a window seat on deck 5 and every so often the wave would wash over the window completely. Even the dining room staff thought that this was unusual. This left us two hours late into Hobart but the ship stayed two hours later to make up for this and the trips were just put back two hours. The disembarkation process at Sydney was as efficient and effective as the embarkation process was at Auckland. Interestingly, self disembarkation was not an option at Sydney. We were in Orange group 2 nad had to meet in club fusion at 8:00pm. At 8:10pm, we were walked off the ship by Princess staff and our luggage was waiting for us. We quickly cleared immigration / customs and at 8:30 we were waiting for a taxi to our hotel. Overall we had a wonderful experience with very few minor niggles that are not worth writing down. We are now fans of Princess and have two more cruisers already booked: A Crown princess transpositional cruise from Southampton to New York in September and a cruise next January on the Star Princess from Santiago to Rio de Janeiro. If anyone has any questions, please feel free to ask them. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2009
We boarded the ship late because of an emergency and it went downward from there.First, I must say that the service on this ship for the most part is excellent, except for the passenger service and captains circle desks. Their systems to ... Read More
We boarded the ship late because of an emergency and it went downward from there.First, I must say that the service on this ship for the most part is excellent, except for the passenger service and captains circle desks. Their systems to not communicate. We are past passengers and my husband has the top loyalty status, Elite. We have sailed on the Aurora (P&O UK), Canberra, Pacific Sun (once, no more) Sun Princess and Diamond Princess. I have enough loyalty points to have Platinum status. We have accumulated this in the past three years, so you can see we have been on these ships regularly, 2-3 times a year and a lot of days. From reading reviews I, too, can see the Carnival influence. Big company, impersonal. We boarded the ship late and it went downward from there. After a couple of days we sent to passenger services to check our account. Lo and behold, our on board credit was not there, along with the fact that my husband has free laundry and they were charging us for it because it was charged to my account. After three more frustrating days of going to passenger services and captain's circle desk, we were told we would not get the on board credit due from a previous cruise, because we had an Australian letter and had booked with a travel agent on line in America. It appears from discussing this with others and a travel agent, that this line is trying to force Australian residents to book through Australian travel agents, although they are not competitive. Another item I want to discuss is the discretionary hotel charge. Australian residents are against tipping and until a few years ago, cruises included tipping. Princess automatically adds $10.50 per person per day to your account unless you go to passenger services and sign a paper rejecting it. We prefer to tip the persons we see. Princess pays their staff a small salary and they depend on the rest from tipping which is the way most American businesses do it where tipping is involved. A great number of passengers do not know this and discover it when they get their statements, which is frustrating. It took us three trips to the passenger services desk to get this corrected. Because we did not embark at the original port, they were not prepared to process us as normal and we had to go later to set up method of payment. Now, after all of this, you might expect I could be totally negative about the rest of the offerings. Not so, because we totally enjoyed some of the entertainment including a singer from near where we live who was entertaining also. A second male singer who sang Tom Jones songs was also very entertaining. There were others who were not what you would expect on a ship this size and status. A 60 yr old female singer from America. She must have been good once, but has passed her "use by date". An American so called comedian, Ugh! told jokes I heard 50 years ago. Then you would expect some new production shows, but after the third time of Piano Man, it gets a bit dull. The selection of a person who gave port talks on AU and NZ was an American who lived in Hawaii and a great number of passengers on this trip were AU and NZ. Many got up and left his lecture. I have lived in AU for five years now and I knew more than he did. As far as the art auctions go, they are getting a bit old. Princess supports mainly the same artists that we have seen in the past three years, Why no some new ones? I am noticing that more and more passengers are setting up private tours. Could this be that the tours from the ship are on the expensive side? On board services can be expected to cost nearly twice what they would be on land. More and more people are rejecting having their pictures taken. The cost of pics is also very expensive. Because of our status, we get some free minutes on the internet, but their equipment is old and I suspect their systems are also limited because of the speeds. They say this is because of satellite communications, but in port, it is the same. Food is heavily laden with salt, which is not healthy. We had better food on this cruise than the last one, but still get overcooked food. The staff is encouraged to put out food just because some people will just accept it. Don't ask how I know, I just started to ask questions of other passengers and such. On our cruise in Feb/Mar 2009, we complained about the overcooked food and thereafter the staff just hovered over us, like they were frightened. These ships depend on people from countries that need jobs and basically they are treated with fear and intimidation. If the staff complains in any way, contracts are canceled or they are sent home for many months up to a year. You may say that this is their choice, but not all cruise lines do this. I will continue to search out cruises for the best price and where we want to go. The on board credit will not affect my decision, it is not worth that much. It was just a big disappointment when we did not get it when we expected we had done our part. After this, Princess may or may not get my repeat business. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2009
My wife and I started talking about a trip to Australia/New Zealand 43 years ago when we first married! Careers and 4 children delayed this trip for 43 years. The ship (Diamond Princess) was excellent and our experience on-board was very ... Read More
My wife and I started talking about a trip to Australia/New Zealand 43 years ago when we first married! Careers and 4 children delayed this trip for 43 years. The ship (Diamond Princess) was excellent and our experience on-board was very nice. We also purchased hotel transfers and extra days in Auckland and Sydney. The transfers were excellent and both hotels were 5 star. The ports, with the exception of Phillip Island, were great! We had excursions at each port and most were worth the price. The average cost per excursion was around $150-$200 per person. Fjordland National Park New Zealand was the most beautiful spot for photography with spectacular scenery. Melbourne, Australia was of favorite port because of the wonderful diversity in architecture and pristine countryside. The entire cruise/tour experience was fantastic and worth the 43 year wait. The only negative aspect of the trip was the air travel we attempted to book through Princess. Our air fare was part of the package until shortly before sailing when we were notified by Princess that the airfares previously quoted and paid were no longer available. This forced us to book air travel ourselves at twice the original price! I advice you to be careful when booking air fares through Princess. If you have the opportunity to travel to Australia/New Zealand, go, for sure! Read Less
Sail Date: February 2009
DIAMOND PRINCESS - FEBRUARY 2009 AUCKLAND TO SYDNEY This is the first time we have put a review on here so we hope you all enjoy itWe are two guys aged in our late 40's who live in Sydney Australia and this cruise was our 15thWe ... Read More
DIAMOND PRINCESS - FEBRUARY 2009 AUCKLAND TO SYDNEY This is the first time we have put a review on here so we hope you all enjoy itWe are two guys aged in our late 40's who live in Sydney Australia and this cruise was our 15thWe flew across from Sydney to Auckland the night before the cruise onboard Emirates great new super jet the A380. We had Business Class and enjoyed a quick checkin and headed through to the Emirates Lounge at Sydney Airport for breakfast. Sadly this was the weekend of the terrible bushfires in Victoria which made very grim news on the tv and the papers. Emirates Business class was very goodWe were at Auckland's pier about 11.30am the next day and as always with checking in for a cruise both of us were getting excited. Check-in did not open until 12 noon and one thing that Princess does need to fix is to have clear signage on where to drop your bags at this pier. This ship is in and out of Auckland all through our summers and no one was really clear on where to drop suitcases.  We are both Platinum cruisers with Princess so we were swiftly check-in and welcomed on boardDiamond Princess is HUGE The ship is one of a number of the same design which are in the Princess fleet. What look like a pair of jet engines on either side of the funnel are just decoration! Talking of size we never once had to queue during this cruise. the passenger movement is great especially getting on and off at ports. Although the ship is huge (we did get tired the first day walking from one end to the other and when exploring all the rooms - a bit of planning is needed) you have no real sense that it is so big.We had booked and paid for an inside cabin and Princess had upgraded us to an outside with a Balcony which was really awesome. Our cabin was A108 on Aloha deck. Very comfortable, good wardrobe space. adequate shower and really good bed Please note that this particular balcony cabin has a metal balcony being right at the front of the ship and not glass like most on this ship. We had a great view of the bridge and often saw the officers doing their stuff. The public areas are well spaced out with comfortably sized bars and lounges. Our favourite is Skywalkers which is located 16 stories above the sea and stretches right across the back of the ship. Sitting up there with 360 degree views was awesome. We sat here sailing the 3 hours from Melbourne City down the length of Port Philip Bay which was an amazing evening. Also we never ever felt crowded.There were always chairs available in bars, our restaurant was only ever half full, the pool areas were never crowded. Breakfast and lunch buffets in the Horizon Court were good , an ever changing range of foods particularly at lunch were well presented and tasty. Our criticisms for breakfast in Horizon Court were that it wasn't clear that you could ask for different styles of eggs or bacon to be cooked to those served in the buffet and the service in Horizon court was a bit hit and miss. This ship is based in Australian waters for 3-4 months each summer and the ship carries large numbers of Aussies and Kiwis. We did find, especially for breakfast that Princess does not seem to take this into consideration. For example things like bacon. Us two aussies arn't that keen on bacon burnt to a crisp and it took a few days to work out that we could ask for aussie bacon nice and soft!. Also they need to teach the formal restaurant staff how to serve a proper pot of tea at breakfast. We always had to keep asking for a pot of extra hot water as the tea was so strongPart of Horizon Court becomes the Sterling Steakhouse each evening (US$20 surcharge) The rest is set as an evening buffet. There is also Sabatini's Italian Restaurant which charges a US$20 per person dinner surcharge. We decided not to spend the money as we were enjoying our restaurant so much each night. The ship operates a number of other evening dinner options. There is the main dining room which operates on a traditional 1st or 2nd seating or four other restaurants one deck up which operate as they do here on land. You make a booking for a table size and time each evening. There may be a wait of upwards of half an hour for your table and they give you a buzzer whilst you head off and have a drink. We dined each night in the Vivalidi Restaurant and had a table for two every night. Elegant dEcor and loads of wood. However being called Vivaldi the waiters were attired in odd looking Italian coloured outfits most nights. Swap those for starched white tunics and it would be sensational. The quality of the food and the presentation excellent with a choice of eight to ten main course dishes each evening. A well priced wine list starting from US$22 bottle. Cocktails or Martinis are around US$6.50 We purchased a soft drink package at the start of the cruise which was great value giving us unlimited soft drinks. All the bars are great and two of the bar staff remembered our names and our drinks by the second night , not bad considering how many people were on board. One of the waiters in the Vivaldi restaurant recognised us from another cruise and asked to look after us each evening. There was a "Rainbow get together" advertised in the Princess Patter for the Wheelhouse bar the second day of the cruise. We both thought - Great! This would be a way to meet any other gay people on board. This was not hosted so it was a bit of a disaster as no one spoke and no one was actually sure who was there for the get together. A quick note to the Cruise Director solved the problem and there was a hosted drinks the next evening. Its a great way for us to make new friends and break the iceThe entertainment production shows were sensational. The ship was always full of music in the evening. A string quartet in the atrium, lounge singers in one bar, a pianist in the Martini bar. The ship is also designed to bring the outside in so you feel connected to the sea . Lots of windows where you can sit with a coffee, read a book and look out. There is a wedding chapel on board (we both thought it looked more like a funeral chapel!) and on this cruise we saw two lots of Brides and Grooms and assorted families. There is a great gym and quite a large Spa complex with an adults only outdoor pool and spa pools. One thing we both really like about Princess is they have proper wooden steamer chairs which are really comfy to lay out We had a great time in Tauranga and the local Princess Manager had arranged to get William's mother and sister onboard for lunch, that was a great treat. They were so impressed with the ship that they have booked to sail on Diamond with us doing the reverse itinerary from Sydney to Auckland this December Having lived in New Zealand for 4 years it was nice to get back into Christchurch and Dunedin. We hit a jackpot in Dunedin as there was a huge fair on in the middle of the town.The highlight for many on this cruise was the day sailing in the Fjords. Unfortunately mother nature was not kind and we had low clouds and lots of rain but its still an amazing dayMother nature was on the other hand very kind with the Tasman Sea and we had remarkably smooth passage for the two day crossing from Milford Sound to Hobart. The day after Hobart we could smell smoke, a lot of it. A mild panic at first but we soon realised that this was the smoke from the terrible fires in Victoria that had drifted out to sea. In Melbourne, as in the other ports, we paid for small charge for the princess coach into the heart of the city. Well not quite the heart. the coach drops you off outside the National Art Gallery of Victoria and if its your first time to Melbourne you need to get off the bus turn right and head over the bridge into the city. We took a tram back from the city which went right to the pier.An early arrival in Sydney and we were home. We had use of the Platinum disembarkation lounge onboard as we waited for our sequence to be called.  Then off the ship through customs and we were sitting back in our lounge room at Kirribilli looking back at our "home away from home for the last twelve days" within 15 minutesOverall a really great 12 night cruise and one that we would recommend to anyone. There was such a diverse range of people on board and also of age groups. We are back on Diamond Princess this December to do the reverse itinerary from Sydney to Auckland and we can't waitNeil and William  Read Less
Sail Date: January 2009
I have always wanted to go on a cruise. Unfortunatly the budget never allowed us to be able to holiday in style by cruising. We finally saved up for our first cruise! I booked the cruise from Auckland to Sydney on the Diamond Princess. ... Read More
I have always wanted to go on a cruise. Unfortunatly the budget never allowed us to be able to holiday in style by cruising. We finally saved up for our first cruise! I booked the cruise from Auckland to Sydney on the Diamond Princess. I was looking for a long cruise time, but no ships were sailing into to Sydney at this time of the year for us to able to go on a longer holiday. The Diamond Princess was more than I expected. How beautiful is she? We had a balcony stateroom. The room was a little small but I found it to be cosy and perfect for the amount of time we spent in there. My suggestion if anyone is to cruise to pay a little bit extra and get a balcony suite as I found, when you wanted quiet time from all the hustle and bustle on the ship, there was no better place to retreat to than your balcony, cruising overlooking the ocean. The crew and the staff on board were magnificent, never did we ever come across a rude or unhelpful staff member. Our steward Angelo was fantastic. Anything we wanted he would attend to in a quick and mature manner. He would always have a chat and was always smiling, totally magnificent. The bar staff and the all the staff in the dining rooms were fantastic. As I said, no one was ever rude or unhelpful. We thought the food was fantastic. The dining room menus I thought were always unique and very tasty! The horizon court food was okay, it was good to have the horizon court, as a quick option to grab something to eat anytime of the day. I found the majority of people on the Diamond Princess were a lot older than myself and my husband. This was a little disappointing because at night when you wanted to go and have a drink, dance and meet people all the bars and nightclubs were dead (maybe my expectations were too high here, maybe I should go on a Caribbean cruise if I want to party. I have heard the 7 day Caribbean cruises are one big party!) When the ship was at sea I found there was always plenty to do, yes I have to agree with other members reviews, that a lot you had to pay for, but there were things you could do that were for free and very enjoyable. The one thing my husband and I did not like about the Diamond Princess (and I am sure this is what other cruise ships do as well) was it was all about selling, be it drink packages, photos, or whatever else it was, we did not like this at all. Our overall experience was out of this world and how great is it having to unpack once!Can't wait to book our next cruise (hopefully in 2 years). Our goal in life is to experience a WORLD CRUISE, this would be our ultimate dream. Imagining unpacking once for 100 days and seeing the world, what a way to see the world, cruising would have to be the best. Beats flying from country to country, carrying luggage everywhere, checking in and out of hotels. CRUISING IS THE ULTIMATE EXPERIENCE! Read Less
Sail Date: April 2008
In order to keep this organized and simple, I have broken this review out into several categories: General Information Having been on 2 cruises prior (still a newbie to cruising really) my husband and I decided to do a cruise to our ... Read More
In order to keep this organized and simple, I have broken this review out into several categories: General Information Having been on 2 cruises prior (still a newbie to cruising really) my husband and I decided to do a cruise to our favorite place on earth - New Zealand. This was our second cruise together but the first on Princess. We arrived in Auckland the day before sailing and did independent activities prior to embarkation on the Sapphire Princess. Embarkation Embarkation was extremely easy and fast. We arrived at 215pm as I had read that if you try to get there early it is a madhouse and generally results in long lines. We chose to do a tour in the morning and arrive after 2 to see if that would help. It did, we walked onto the ship in under 10 minutes. Our luggage wasn't delivered by 5pm and my husband had to go hunting for it as they had recorded that it had been. We had seen it in the hallway farther away from our cabin at one point, but when we returned from dinner - it was gone and someone else's luggage was at our door. The situation was corrected though and after some tracking down - we had our luggage unpacked. Stateroom Our stateroom was really nice. It was technically classed as an oceanview but did in fact have a balcony that was available to use at all times. Our cabin was directly at the front of the ship on deck 10. Princess said that they locked the door when we were at sea, but that wasn't the case. The stateroom was large and roomy and had lots of storage. The shower was larger than expected and other than not having a sofa or chairs to sit in (other than the deck chair and one other tiny chair) it was great. Activities We found that the number of activities on sea days (there were 6 days you didn't leave the ship on this cruise) were seriously lacking. The crowd was MUCH older and the activities were obviously geared towards that demographic. Now I understand that there are going to be some 50+ people and generally speaking that is the vacation of choice for the more senior people, however, we weren't expecting more than 70% of the ship to be over 60. My husband and I are late 30's and on previous cruises have had a much more varied amount of age groups and activities to support them. Service The service was always pleasant and we generally received prompt and courteous treatment. It didn't feel like anyone was going above and beyond though - only that they were doing the minimum. I completely missed the little "towelgami" animals that other lines do for you and was very disappointed. Our cabin steward was very good though and accommodated all our special requests with a smile. Shore Excursions The shore excursions were VERY well organized - more so than on other lines. We assembled each day in a specified meeting place and were escorted off the ship to our transportation. It was great and the shore excursions were mostly worth the money. A couple of points to note, one was late departing due to uncontrollable circumstances, but then COMPLETELY rushed and the driver wasn't a good tour guide at all. Others told us about the local industry, housing prices, etc. He was very limited and our tour was kind of rushed. The only other negative observation about the tours was that due to the number of people on them, sometimes they felt rushed and crowded, to be expected, but worth mentioning because I hadn't thought about that. Dining Ok, so this is the one area that I have very few positive comments to make. On other cruises the food has been completely 5 star. In this case, it was very cafeteria like. We ate in both specialty restaurants as well as all meals (B, L and D) in the Horizon Court buffet and all of the other dining rooms. There was usually one good thing about a meal in the dining room (i.e. the appetizer, the main or the dessert) but generally speaking it was all just ok. Nothing was "terrible" but nothing was 5 star either. The sterling steak house was just a sectioned off portion of the Horizon Court and was just average. Sabatini's was good but again not great. All the steaks seemed to have oil on them, not sure why they'd cook steak in oil, but whatever. Room service was quite disgusting...cold and very limited. We were both very disappointed with all the food and were pretty happy when we could pay for lunch in port. On the positive side, the fresh pineapple was awesome on the breakfast buffet and we discovered (on the last day) the free ice cream at 3pm in the Horizon court. Entertainment Geared towards the older crowd for sure, we were excited that there was a comedy act on the ship - the performer must have been nearly 90 and wasn't funny at all. The magician was great but that was about all. The game shows in the lounges again weren't highly participated in so weren't that much fun. Overall it was ok - but generally we just caught up on our sleep in the evenings. Disembarkation This was again - very well organized and very quick. The only thing was that in Sydney when you disembark, it is very much - leave the ship and fend for yourself. No one from Princess in the disembarkation lounge to help - no phones to call hotel shuttles, etc. But overall pretty quick and organized. Summary Overall - it was an ok experience. It was definitely fun visiting all the ports of call, but had this been our first cruise it would have been our last. I guess it's a combination of "know your cruises and lines" and poorly executed service, dining and entertainment. That being said, I would still recommend it but only to those that want a VERY low key holiday. We will be avoiding Princess in the future only because we're not in that category yet. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2008
The trip from Auckland, New Zealand to Sydney Australia was the first time we had been on a cruise ship. When I first saw the outside of the "Sapphire Princess" at the dock in Auckland I thought "oh oh..... this is not going ... Read More
The trip from Auckland, New Zealand to Sydney Australia was the first time we had been on a cruise ship. When I first saw the outside of the "Sapphire Princess" at the dock in Auckland I thought "oh oh..... this is not going to be my cup of tea".... too big... huge... but once we were on board I thought it was a floating palace.... beautiful... We had booked an inside twin cabin... found it to be perfectly adequate. Well laid out... everything in its place. Had no problems at all.. Actually, it was quite good for an afternoon nap as you could really darken the place down and have a proper sleep. The cabin stewards were very attentive and looked after us extremely well throughout the trip. Actually all the staff on the ship were very good and very pleasant. We chose "anytime dining" and found it wonderful. The food was excellent. First class quality, fresh and well presented and of a wonderful variety. We had a few dinners in the dining rooms... The waiters were very attentive and the food was first class... Activities were sometimes "light on"....However, I particularly liked the "Scholarship at Sea" activities.... prior to each port they had a lecturer who spoke of the early settlement of the area and of the indigenous people and their culture. There was another lecturer who had been a district attorney in L.A. and he gave lectures on famous criminal trials. I really enjoyed these activities . The Casino was the usual "loser" for me... I gambled on the slot machines a couple of times... which are American and compared to Australian poker machines very boring.... they all take your money of course but the American ones are not even entertaining.... I suggest Princess really look at the alternative machines available...The entertainment at the Princess Theatre was adequate and sometimes very good. We did not do any shore excursions arranged through the ship... we did our own thing when we arrived at a Port of Call and I think it is the most economical way of organizing things.. I thought the cleanliness of the ship was a credit to the staff... It was exciting to sail into Sydney Harbour just before dawn.... We slid into the dock beside the Sydney Opera House. It looked fantastic silhouetted against the dawn sky. The city was still lit for the night and looked wonderful.... The Harbour Bridge was the backdrop. Disembarkation was slow... I don't suppose there is much that can be done about it... It is a lot of people to get off in a short time... However, overall it was an absolutely fantastic holiday... I loved it and even my husband said he enjoyed it. I thought the ship was a floating palace. Wonderful service and wonderful food. After reading other reviews it seems Princess is not the preferred line.... but for me it was impossible to fault... Perhaps I am naive... but I thought it was fantastic... and on the strength of this cruise have since sailed on a P & O cruise which simply did not compare and have now booked a cruise for next year on the Rhapsody of the Seas sailing from Sydney to North America.... so if this ship gives us as fantastic an experience as the Sapphire Princess we will be delighted. Read Less
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