My son and I recently had a chance to go on two cruises, one with Carnival, and the other with Princess. The review for the Carnival Cruise is in an earlier post, and when it came time to compare the two, there was no competition, our Princess Cruise won in every category.
We were incredibly blessed to be a part of the Majestic Princess inaugural cruise from Sydney to New Zealand, a glorious 13 nights, visiting both the North and South Islands of New Zealand. We visited Fiordlands National park, Dunedin, Akaroa, Wellington, Tauranga, Auckland, and the Bay of Islands.
We arrived at the Overseas Terminal in Sydney three hours ahead of our scheduled boarding time, and as Princess was ahead of schedule, they were happily boarding all the early birds, which was really nice!
The actual boarding process took all of about fifteen minutes, including the security screen and passport check, and even though we boarded so early, our cabin was already in perfect order.
Being the inaugural cruise, the ship was, as expected, completely immaculate. There are hand tufted rugs and carpets, Italian marble, spiral staircases, and wide open spaces. It feels luxurious and welcoming, there are endless glass windows allowing for natural light, and the colours used in the furnishings are rich and of the highest quality. No matter what time you are wandering the ship, there are always staff seamlessly cleaning every inch, and they are so discreet they virtually fade into the background. In the entire voyage, never once did I see a space that was dirty or grubby, or anything except flawless. I was beyond impressed.
The cabins are logically laid out, with even numbers having one corridor and one colour carpet, and odd numbers having the other corridor and other colour of carpet. The cabins are spacious and offer every amenity you could need, from Lotus Spa moistures and shampoos, to powerpoints for USA, UK and Australia.
The cabin layout is thoughtful and functional. As you walk into the cabin, you have a foyer on the right, which houses the wardrobe, safe and cupboards. The bathroom is situated off this enclave, which means that someone using the bathroom won’t disturb those sleeping, and the light won’t reach the beds.
Then you have the main section, which consists of the bed/s, two bedside tables and drawers, a full desk, mini fridge, more drawers, mirrors, phone, comfortable chair, and the TV. All of your blockbuster movies and TV shows are included for free on Princess, which is a nice way to relax before bed, presuming of course, that you get to bed. There really is not enough time for sleeping! Room service is free on the Majestic Princess, 24 hours a day, in case the munchies strike and you don’t want to get dressed.
The beds on the Princess ship are designed by an actual doctor, and are simply amazing! Every morning at breakfast people were talking about them, and if they would be able to smuggle the pillows out in their suitcases undetected! In case you are interested, you can actually buy the Princess beds, pillows and linens, which is something I will be doing once I can afford to. I honestly cannot remember ever having such a good nice sleep as I did on the Princess bed.
The cabin stewards were amazing! You are never in danger of running out of anything, especially toilet paper. Honestly, when you are down to a quarter of a roll, they change it over for you. I don’t know if the doors are somehow connected to an electronic system, but they were always in and out when we were not there, even if we had only ducked out for ice cream at midnight!
The best thing about cruising, so I have been told, is the food, and this is 100% true aboard the Majestic Princess! There are so many places to eat, and so much variety, that you will be hard pushed to try everything during the voyage. Some of our favourites were Alfredo’s, the Lobster Bar, Horizons Buffet, Concerto and Allegro.
Alfredo’s Pizzeria serves up yummy pizza, pasta, and calzones, and they even have some items that are not on the menu, like a word of mouth secret menu, which is cool. A word of warning, their individual pizza is actually the size of an Australian family sized pizza, so you may want to share one.
The Lobster Bar is set on the pool deck, and is such a nice place to relax. They serve lobster, seafood baskets, hotdogs, burgers, and there is a self serve salad bar as well. Everything here is made to order, so you can request it cooked exactly as you like it, which is great when you travel with fussy eaters.
Horizons Buffet is so big, and has multiple entries and exits, that is almost needs its own map! Every cuisine in the world is represented here, with delights such as Vegemite, pavlova, a carving station for roast meat off the bone, pastas, various breads and rolls, every vegetable you can imagine, soups, salads, and an endless array of condiments. There are hot and cold dishes, and each buffet has several variety of each item, such as mashed potato, baked potato and chips, or tomato soup, chicken soup or laksa. There is something for everyone here. The dessert bar is just delicious, and has numerous varieties of cookies, cakes, and baked desserts, along with cream, custard and ice creams. The breakfast buffet consists of waffles, pancakes, bacon, hash browns, muffins, baked beans, ham steaks and so on, as well as an omelette bar, where they will make your omelette to order.
Allegro is one of the fanciest restaurants I have ever been in. We went here for breakfast every day, and were lucky enough to get the same waitress, who remembered our drinks order from day two onwards, and had them ready once we had been seated! The waiters here place your napkins on your lap for you, and will happily show you how to make some napkin art, like a swan, fan, cruise ship or Christmas tree. The napkins are insanely good quality, which is an odd thing to comment on, but I am in love with them! They are thick and luxurious, and feel like actual linen. Gosh, I don’t even think I have sheets that are as thick as those napkins! Just glorious.
Concerto has the same layout as Allegro, and we ate dinner here most nights, preferring table service to a buffet. The nicest thing about the Allegro and Concerto is the staff. They are impeccable. They all treated my son in the same manner they treated the adults, and happily conspired with him when they took his order. They are happy to switch out anything you don’t like, and replace it with something else, and fully encourage you to order two desserts if you can’t make up your mind, so that you can try them both. I ordered a meringue layer full of cream and passionfruit drizzle on night and liked it so much, that they later sent me one to the cabin! They don’t even blink if you order the entire left hand side of the menu, as Wyatt did one morning for breakfast, just ask you with a polite smile if you would like anything else with that. I loved that, the fact that they don’t rush you or make you feel bad for stuffing your face. Wyatt loved it to, as a teenager with hollow legs, he was always eating lol.
I also need to mention that if you head down to the International Café before 8am, you can get jam or custard donuts, egg and bacon muffins, and other breakfast yummies. They go super quick though, so don’t dawdle.
The staff on the Majestic Princess are simply amazing. Nothing is too much effort for them. Do you need a pen? The service desk will happily give you a newly wrapped one, and ask if you want some paper as well. The entertainment team is a hoot, led by Andrew in the role of Cruise Director, they run so many fun activities, and during the day they are all family friendly. They host a morning show, called The Wake Show, which you watch on the TV in your room. each day they ask a question, and if you answer it correctly you go into the draw to win a prize. You collect the answer slips from the column near the customer service desk, and you can also pop in a joke or shout out. They film it the day before, so if you are still up, you can watch it on the TV from around 11pm, which is handy. Wyatt loved the Wake Show, and was super excited to actually meet Andrew in person, which was lovely.
Each day you will find a Princess Patter in your room. This is a 4 page A4 sized newsletter showcasing the following days activities and shows, and is a great place to start planning your day. It is delivered the evening before, which is handy for those of us who like to pre-plan.
We had so much fun about the Majestic Princess, there was so much to do that we averaged a total of five hours sleep most nights, and came home happy but exhausted! Some of the activities included: trivia, game shows in the Princess Live TV Studio, karaoke, line dancing, bingo, art seminars and auctions, destination talks, watercolour painting, hula hoop competitions, themed nights, live music, dance classes, shooting competitions, fruit carving, napkin folding classes, and lawn bowls to name a few. They even have their own choir, that is made up entirely of passengers, and performs in the atrium during the voyage.
There is also an internet café, outside gym, inside gym, golf course, several pools, a spa, a library, a shooting gallery, dozens of shops, a basketball court, a dozen netted ping pong tables, three kids clubs, a medical clinic, a theatre, and numerous bars and cafes.
The stage shows on the Majestic Princess were amazing. There is something for all ages, with two sessions per night. The later session is generally a little more risqué than the earlier session, for those who have children with them. On our cruise there was a tribute to Neil Diamond, a tribute to Queen, a magic show, electric violinists, dance troupes, and my favourite of all, Fiera. In fact, I loved Fiera so much, that I would book a cruise based entirely on if they were showing this performance or not. You can watch a snippet of the performance, on another Princess ship, here. This show had everything from catchy songs and star crossed lovers, to ferris wheels and actual fire. Just awesome.
There was only one thing I did not like about the cruise aboard the Majestic Princess, and that was that it had to come to an end!
Now, lets talk about the money side of things. Considering the fact that the Majestic Princess is a luxurious, all inclusive haven, I was surprised to discover, once all the figures were in, that it was actually cheaper than the nightmare cruise we had aboard the no frills Carnival ship. Another reason to stay with Princess Cruises, value for money.
As Wyatt is now thirteen, he is considered an adult, so with that in mind, theses are the prices I paid for two adults. The cruise itself was AUD$1895, and we added the soft drinks package for both of us, as well as seven all day shore excursions for both of us, which brought the total up to $2895. With the added souvenirs and extras, it came to a grand total of $3400. Total bargain! Don’t forget, when looking at your own cruise, that I booked mine twelve months ahead of time, and took advantage of some super specials they had going.
What an amazing two weeks we had. We cannot wait to go back, and won’t even bother trying any more cruise lines, we’ll stick with Princess from now on.