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Eugene Denson

Age: 72


Number of Cruises: 17

Cruise Line: Princess

Ship: Pacific Princess (New)

Sailing Date: 2012-03-1

Itinerary: Sydney to Singapore

We usually cruise on the larger ships, because the price is right. However, iike several others we met on this cruise, which was officially Segment 3 of the 2012 World Cruise, we got "that e-mail" from Princess which offered us a price we could not refuse. The cruise covered many ports we had never visited, with a bit of overlap in Japan and China, and was really excellent.

The food on the Pacific Princess was noticeably better than the food we have had on the larger ships. I believe the sheer scale of feeding 2000 people makes it difficult to give the food the attention it deserves. A ship this small - 600 passengers - has fixed seating. At our first table we were so unfortunate as to be sitting with the man who knew everything, and wasn't afraid to let you know it. As a rule of thumb when someone tells you his IQ on first meeting, you should sit at another table. Which is what we did. As luck would have it, we met a couple on the ship who were interesting, enjoyable to be with, and sitting at a table they did not enjoy. So we arranged to get a table for 4 for the rest of the cruise.

The waiters have a disturbing tendency to be cute, and I don't mean young and beautiful. They would sing, they would make jokes, and, most annoying of all, they would happily interupt a conversation to give you the menu and get your order, so they could keep to their schedule. It was all bearable, however, as good food and good company make for a pleasant meal. We did manage to keep the wine bill down by only allowing them to pour one glass for each of us, then telling them to put the bottle away for the night. If you don't do that, they will continually fill your glass until the bottle is empty, then ask if you would like another bottle.

We always book balcony rooms, despite the extra cost. There is nothing like a floor to ceiling glass door that opens onto your private outdoor space. The room was fine, a bit small, but comfortable. The safe would accomodate my 13" laptop (but nothing larger), everything worked, including the wi-fi every day but one - and when we were in Japanese waters close to land when the government shut it down.

We've been on a lot of cruises, and have had a glass of champagne at the Captain's party on most of them, That gets tedious. The only activity we attended, other than the jogging track, was a performance on board while we were in Shanghai, of an acrobatic troup. Unbelievable. We foolishly skipped the acrobatic performance in the city a few years back, but after seeing this one, we've learned our lesson. Always go see the acrobats. You will not beieve what the human body can do.

We usually do not book excursions through the ship, any more, although we did do that regularly on our first few cruises. This time we booked the Great Barrier Reef excursion through Princess, but made other arrangments in the other ports. It was an expensive disapointment. That is partly our fault, as we did not snorkel even though the equipment and opportunity were offered to us, and it turns out that you really can't see much of the reef or the fish from the glass bottom boat etc. The glass in the windows is so thick that it alters the color, and gives you a very small field of view. If you go to the reef, go and snorkel or scuba dive, otherwise you are wasting your money.

When approaching Tokyo we put up a facebook message asking for advice on guides. Friends at home were following our trip on Facebook, and one emailed her friend in Germany who emailed his friend in Kyoto, and bingo, we had a private guide who grew up in the same rural community in which we live and understood what we wanted to do when we explained it. He took us to the fish market and his friend who sells tuna gave us incredible sashimi, later after the Issey Miyake exhibit, he took us to a 10 seat sushi restaurant on a back street, and it was wondeful food - an unforgetable day. Pusan (now "Busan") was dull as we wandered around. If you want to buy things, Saigon is your city. I got a silk tie and silk dress shirt for about $13. If you want to see things, Bangkok is the place. The Grand Palace is beyond belief. Food was best in Hong Kong.

The only other thing to say is that every port we have been too was warmer than the "average" temperature for the month in which we visited it, and that has been true for years. On this trip we sailed from fairly far south of the equator to fairly far north of it, and ended up very close to it. It was warm, and sometimes hot. Except in Japan, every port had air polution problems - Saigon the least as Vietnam is not yet industrialised. Everyone was friendly and helpful everywhere, and we had no problems getting where we wanted to go or doing what we wanted to do on our own in the cities.

I would do this cruise again in a heartbeat. If you get the chance, take it. (and ask the waiter not to sing).

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