We are gradually settling into our cruise, being careful not to burn ourselves out in the first couple of days. On our first cruise—to the South Pacific on the Sun Princess about a year ago—we were overwhelmed with everything. This time, we were much more relaxed as the various aspects of cruising felt familiar. One of the big differences is that we have a private balcony to enjoy on this cruise.
After a full day at sea, we docked at Fishermans Wharf in Brisbane. We had booked a tour of nearby St Helena Island directly with Cat o’Nine Tails Tours. However, our tour was cancelled the previous day due to forecast inclement weather. Indeed, it was wet while we were docked, and we did not feel enthusiastic about going onshore. We will rebook St Helena Island for when we are back in Brisbane in early May.
There are lots of dining options, as well as copious bars. We like the dining rooms where we get waiter service, and rarely a bad meal. Sometimes, we go to the buffet or bistro for a more casual meal, but the food here can be a bit ordinary. The beer selection was interesting, with many international brands. Best value beers are probably the 440 ml cans of Guinness and Boddington Pub Ale. Wine is outrageously expensive, more so than on the Sun Princess, so we probably won’t indulge much. We did find a 2018 Tyrrells Old Winery Pinot Noir, se we bought a bottle (wine by the glass is way overpriced).
Every night there are shows, while there are numerous entertainers who sing and/or play instruments in the bars and the Piazza. The Piazza is the heart of the ship. We have seen two shows so far from the production cast from USA. They are leaving us in Darwin and will be replaced by a new production cast. The cruise director, who was also on our Sun Princess cruise last year, told us we were lucky to have two different production casts on the one cruise. He is probably right.
One of the best entertainers we have seen, ever, is Chris Watkins, a classical violinist and frustrated dancer (his words) from the UK. He starred in his own show, and then featured in a larger production show called Encore. We were also lucky to catch him for a short performance one evening in the Piazza. He plays a Swarovski crystal encrusted electric violin. Check out the shoes!
Dance classes are available for line dancing and ballroom dancing. The participants certainly appear to enjoy them. However, it is very crowded, and we have not yet been game to have a go.
Ian took his ukulele so he can keep up his fingerpicking and strumming practice. We heard that some cruises had a ukulele program, and by luck, our Majestic Princess cruise did. It is run by Eric Ripper, who is the ship’s videographer. There are 41 toy ukuleles available for guests, but a few people, including Ian, had their own. The first session was chaotic, and Eric did a sterling job of keeping us together on You Are My Sunshine. He has some interesting tunes planned for us, including Beatles and CCR.
We attended our very first karaoke session and loved it. Their motto is “When they’re good, its great, and when they’re bad, its better!” Not sure about the latter.
There are multiple pools and spas on the uppermost levels. The best pool area is the adults only Hollywood Pool Club. This is well patronised because of its outstanding and lavish facilities with little private suites overlooking the sea for guests to relax and enjoy. Tea and coffee are also served there at breakfast time, and a bar opens mid morning.
There are three formal nights on our cruise. The fist one was on the Brisbane to Darwin leg. We had a full night, and didn’t get back to our room until midnight. It started with the Captain’s champagne waterfall cocktail party, which is done near the start of every Princess cruise. The Cruise Director introduced the Captain and his executive team to guests. We were amazed that Princess Cruise has a Director of Environment as well as a Staff Welfare Director. Guests were then invited to pour champagne over a tower of carefully stacked glasses. When the last guest had contributed to the champagne waterfall, to Ian’s horror, the glasses were emptied of their champagne into a bucket rather than given to the guests.
It took a while, but Ian tried the gym on day 5, and Katie joined him the next day. The gym is well appointed, and extremely popular.