I feel like I’ve become a cruising expert. You can read about my first cruise and my second cruise experience via the respective links. As this was my third, I was well and truly prepared for everything – the potential rough seas, the dressy formal nights, every meal being an all-you-can-eat session, and being forced to go offline.

I decided to cruise again during the recent Christmas break because I’d so busy that I just wanted a holiday to relax, and I didn’t quite care where in the world I was, as long as it wasn’t at home or at the office! Plus I’ve heard plenty of good things about Diamond Princess… Although we ended up cruising with Sea Princess because the Diamond Princess cruise wasn’t a round-trip and I didn’t want to have to get off and check-in to a flight.

My biggest tip to anyone looking to cruise is to shop around. Check out websites such as Cruise 1st for awesome last minute deals. Because they feature all cruise liners on one page, researching on which to go on is easier as well. If you’ve never cruised before, you could also sample the experience via various one-night cruises.

According to a Transport for NSW media release, 265 ship visits are scheduled for Sydney this cruise season! That’s up by a third on the previous year’s 199 and almost triple the figure set just five years ago. So I guess I’m not the only one big on cruising!

Sea Princess cruise to New Zealand

The Sea Princess cruise ship way below us (pic taken at Dunedin):

The Sea Princess cruise ship at Dunedin, NZ

Surprisingly though, I think the average age of passengers on my cruise ship must’ve been in the 70’s! This does come with advantages – such as having pools and spas to ourselves! Spa onboard Sea Princess cruise ship

Food-wise, felt like a 14 day degustation where breakfasts rolled into long lunches followed by four course dinners and complimentary 24 hour room service.

Sailaway night dinner onboard Sea Princess cruise ship
Some of the dishes from the ‘Sailaway dinner’: Prawn cocktail with lemon myrtle dressing (on the Always Available menu), baked seafood parcel with lobster cream; fillet of rockfish with grain mustard sauce, baby marrow batons, herb couscous and fresh lemon; roast prime rib of beef with natural jus, grilled tomatoes and jacket potato. 
 

Healthy room service onboard Sea Princess cruise ship

healthy room service delivery

The first set of consecutive at-sea days pass easily. There’s lots to do, see and eat. In addition to that, I’d brought a few books to read and I had a wedding to plan! The gym was also pretty decent and I spent every morning of the first few days there doing intensive cardio!

Adults only sanctuary  onboard Sea Princess cruise ship

The adults-only sanctuary

Movies under the stars onboard Sea Princess cruise ship

Movies under the stars is a great concept with freshly made buttered popcorn, cookies and milk to complement the experience

Table tennis and basketball court onboard Sea Princess cruise ship

Table tennis and the basketball court kept us active

Most free time while not eating is spent outdoors on the deck or indoors at the many cafes and bars. We signed up for the coffee card which offered unlimited hot chocolates and 15 espresso-based coffees at $29. Unfortunately, no two coffees were the same, so we celebrated most port days with a real coffee. 

Coffee onboard Sea Princess cruise ship

One of the better coffees onboard

Sailing around Fiordland National Park, in particular, Mildford Sound was such a highlight. Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the pristine landscape is simply postcard perfect from any angle. Despite the mammoth size of the Sea Princess, the cruise ship seemed to just glide over the waters, without so much as a splash. The spectacular scenery kept unfolding with every corner we turned. In some areas, the water, gorges and sky blended into 50 shades of blue. 

Scenic cruising onboard Sea Princess cruise ship

Milford Sound, Fiordland Naitonal Park onboard Sea Princess cruise ship

Milford Sound, Fiordland National Park

Another highlight would have to be the themed lunches and dinners where staff go to extreme efforts to pull off incredible feasts and food displays. The Mongolian BBQ night was like a Teppanyaki buffet. Pick your own veg, protein and noodles or rice, and it would be cooked to order. The sushi party, and cake extravaganza both took my breath away. The amount of creativity that went into organising these meals was amazing. I love that something as simple as a lemon and orange could be carved and arranged into a ninja.Fruit carving ninja and sushi platter onboard Sea Princess cruise ship

Sushi party onboard Sea Princess cruise ship

The sushi party!
Cake extravaganza onboard Sea Princess cruise ship
The cake extravaganza

Mongolian BBQ night onboard Sea Princess cruise ship

Mongolian BBQ night

While all food is inclusive in the cost of the cruise, my experience from the previous cruises is that the restaurants which charge a small surcharge are well worth it. Where P&O has Luke Mangan’s Salt grills, Princess Cruises has their Sterling Steakhouse. For just an additional $20/person, we devoured premium steaks with all the trimmings! Different cuts of meat were displayed on a trolley and the waiter took the time to explain the variation in flavour of each. Options included a traditional thick cut New York strip, a bone-in New York steak, a classic filet mignon, porterhouse, and a juicy ribeye steak with heavy marbling. I even had a clam chowder in a bread bowl as a starter!

The Sterling Steakhouse onboard Sea Princess cruise ship

Upgraded dining, at The Sterling Steakhouse

Although, I think the dining table allocations arrangement for dinner also deserves a special mention. Taking the hassle out of making reservations, all guests are allocated a dining table and time slot prior to boarding. We’re served by the same two waitstaff at the same table, every night. The menu changes daily and if you’re not up for the table service experience, there’s always the buffet, grill or pizza bar.

Pizza bar onboard Sea Princess cruise ship

We tried everything once.

Zen and I celebrated our 10 year anniversary again on the cruise. Our waiters Ben and Alnofo sung ‘happy anniversary to you’ in the tune of ‘happy birthday to you’. It was a very cheesy moment but memorable nonetheless. Celebrating a special moment onboard Sea Princess cruise ship

Other highlights of the trip:

The atrium onboard Sea Princess cruise ship
Walked through this very grande looking atrium at least 5 times a day!
Cocktails and wedding planning onboard Sea Princess cruise ship
Cocktails and one of many attempts at starting wedding planning
Baldwin Street, Dunedin, New Zealand is the world's steepest street
The world’s steepest street at Dunedin!
Ninja jump outside the Dunedin rail station
Zen’s ninja jump outside Dunedin rail station
Rolling hills and sheep grazing - the picturesque Dunedin New Zealand
This to me, is what defines NZ. Rolling hills and sheep! (This was at Dunedin)
Beautiful Akaroa, NZ
Akaroa was a gorgeous French town
Scones, fish and chips, cheese plate at HarBar Beachfront Cafe, Akaroa Main Beach, NZ
We had a long lunch at HarBar cafe in Akaroa. Battered blue cod with shoestring fries ($22) and the cheese board ($22) featuring a selection of Kaptiti cheeses including Havarti, blue vein and brie served with grapes, quince paste, mango chutney, crackers and ciabatta bread; cheese scones and real coffee!
The Lam family at Wellington botanic gardens
I love this pic of Zen & I with my parents!
Beautiful artichoke globes at Wellington botanic gardens
Globe artichoke at Wellington Botanic Gardens
Pretty sights at Wellington Botanic Garden, NZ
More beautiful sights at Wellington Botanic Gardens plus the Parliament House!
Stunning art-deco architecture at Napier
Napier’s gorgeous art-deco architecture
Scenic rejuvenation at Polynesian Spa World, NZ
Relaxed and rejuvenated in the hot mineral waters of Tauranga
Polynesian spa world in Taraunga
Best. Place. Ever. Polynesian Spa World. 
The Redwoods, NZ
Experiencing great heights at The Redwoods
Kiwifruit farm
Stopped by at a kiwifruit farm! Who knew kiwis grew on vines like grapes?
Sea Princess at Auckland Princes Wharf
The majestic Sea Princess cruise ship docked at Auckland on Christmas Day
Reflections at Auckland
Reflections of Auckland’s Sky Tower
Family and friends at Auckland
Lunching with a former Sydneysider in her hometown in Auckland!
Coffee and Mack Attack at Bay of Islands
Coffee, Mack Attack and blue skies at Bay of Islands
Golf onboard Sea Princess cruise ship
Practising my swing
All the food onboard Sea Princess cruise ship
All the amazing food!
Our James Bond moment on formal night onboard Sea Princess cruise ship
Our James Bond moment on formal night!
One of the many talks and shows onboard Sea Princess cruise ship
Lots of talks, shows and movies…
NYE countdown onboard Sea Princess cruise ship
Pre-NYE countdown party! Any excuse to party is a good one!

Depending on the style of holiday you’re after, cruising is probably one of the most chillaxed methods particularly for families and the elderly. At certain destinations, it’d be worth spending more time on land, eating and exploring… but sometimes, a break where you don’t want to fuss over anything at all is necessary. And this was just one of those breaks.

Find out more about NZ cruises with Princess

  • I haven’t been on a cruise yet, largely because I’ve always been a very independent traveller – I like to go off on my own and explore out of the way places. A cruise always seems like it would inhibit that style of travelling.
    Love your NZ pics though – BF and I are thinking of going to South Island for a week and a half road trip in August. I think your pics of Dunedin have convinced me to stop off there – I love old buildings!

  • great pics! brings back memories. great shot of the balloons for NYE! looks like a great time to be on board 🙂

  • that sushi display is wow! looks like u had heaps of fun and you look great in that blue dress!

  • Jen

    I found balance by doing my own thing at every port versus taking one of the cruise’s tours. I definitely want to revisit NZ as we’ve only just skimmed the surface! Enjoy your South Island trip! It sounds like a wonderful plan!

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