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Frances

Age: 41

Occupation:Secretary

Number of Cruises: 1

Cruise Line: Princess

Ship: Dawn Princess

Sailing Date: 2008-12-26

Itinerary: New Zealand

We travelled in a family group of 6 and overall had a fantastic time. For most of us it was our first cruise and we soon discovered how relaxing a way to travel it is. The ship was beautiful and the staff were brilliant. The obvious danger it to put on weight from all the fantastic food!
We were on the 2nd sitting in the Florentine Resturant, which was fairly empty so we had the undivided attention of our waiters Melchor and Nikolche. They tempted us into trying all sorts of foods and desserts which were wonderful. We had lobster, prawns, escargot, frogs legs, as well as more traditional meals. The desserts were plentiful and wonderful. I preferred breakfast in the Venetian Resturant rather than going to the Horizon Court buffet. I'm never convinced about the quality of food in buffets becuase of the dubious hygiene habits of other people -- but that is just me, and no reflection on the food prepared. I had tea and coffee up there and the atmosphere was energetic and nice. The pizzeria was excellent. We had pretty poor weather so I didn't eat at the outside Grill or Ice Cream bar.
We had a balcony room (A340) which was great. We fitted all our clothes into the allocated space with no problem. We slept with the balcony door open most nights to get relief from the air conditioning which was dehydrating. Our stateroom steward Edwin was lovely and kept the room beautifully. We loved the different way he folded the hand towels each day.
There is only so much you can do in a group activity, so I would have found it repetitive if we had more days at sea. We had two days on the way to NZ and two on the way back and that was enough. The craft lessons (beading) were fun and we made 3 pieces of jewellery all at no cost. The Bingo was a daily highlight at sea and was run by Dave, who was a very funny man. My brother paid for digital photography lessons which he got a lot of benefit from, but they were held in the bar so anybody else who hadn't paid could just sit down and join in - they should have been held in a private space. The movie selection was pretty ordinary - nothing new, and they repeated on the way home! Some of the live shows were a bit amateur but most were okay. The guest performers were great. I enjoyed the passemger talent show on the last night. The library had a good selection of books. We also enjoyed the Lectures at Sea by Clive, who told us all about the ports we were going to visit. That was very, very good.
Umm, very interesting but VERY expensive. We were judicious about the ones we chose to maximise value, and most days in port we did our own thing. I'm not sure who gets the profit here but it is a lucrative business. Some of the day trips were nearly $300!! I highly recommend the Nature's Wonders tour out of Dunedin, where you see the world's rarest penguin in its natural habitat. Run by a guy called Perry on his own farm, it is a great eco tour with the most breathtaking scenery of the Otago Peninsula. Also recommended is the day trip to the Trans Alpine railway out of Christchurch. You drive to Arthur's Pass and then get the train back. It takes all day but the scenery is spectacular. Don't bother taking a tour in Napier or Tauranga (Mt Maunganui) because you can do it all on foot.
Sydney - cruising Fjordland - Dunedin - Christchurch - Wellington - Napier - Tauranga - Auckland - Bay Of Islands - Sydney. New Zealand is beautiful and we were in a different port every day, which was a great itinerary. No time to get bored and always something new out the window every morning. Great Captain, Staff and Crew. We all expect to travel with Princess again.

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