Cruising is on everyone’s lips at the moment. If you haven’t been on a cruise yourself, you know someone who has, someone who is going or someone who is thinking about going on one!
I’ve never really thought about cruising but just lately more and more of my friends are considering it. The thought of not moving around, of unpacking only once and being entertained along the way is appealing to many.
Princess Cruises are well known to Australians with the Sun Princess first appearing in Australian waters in 2007. She was the first ship to be based here and now sails from Brisbane, Sydney and sometimes Fremantle to New Zealand, the South Pacific, South East Asia, Papua New Guinea and around Australia.
The Sun Princess was also the largest ship to sail under the Sydney Harbour Bridge and still holds this title along with other Princess ships. Docked at Customs House in Sydney, the ship with a height of 49 metres, certainly dominated the nearby buildings.
A New Look for the Sea Princess
It was about to embark on its second voyage since a major refit in Singapore earlier in April this year and we had been invited on board to see the new look, enjoy a culinary experience and a find our a little about shipboard life.
All I can say is that I can now understand the attraction to cruising!
With 14 passenger decks and 975 staterooms for 2010 passengers, I knew the Sun Princess would be big but I didn’t realise just how big until we walked into the four story atrium that sparkled and shone ready for the influx of cruisers.
One could easily get lost but the smell of coffee and chocolate had us heading in one direction….to the nearby cafe.
Rocky, the head chef on board the ship, was justifiably proud of his Norman Love chocolates and pastries. I hadn’t heard of Norman Love but soon learnt that he is an internationally recognised chocolatier from Florida who has designed some decadent treats for Princess Cruises and their Chocolate Themed Journeys. Chocolate always wins hearts and these were no exception.
A quick refreshment and then it was time to explore….
With so many activities on board, I’m not sure how much time you would spend in your cabin but the balcony staterooms that we saw were certainly inviting. With room for a couch and work table there was plenty of space to make yourself at home. They were not the largest rooms on the ship…there are also mini suites and staterooms but I can see why the balcony staterooms are very popular.
All the beds on board the ship have been ungraded in the recent refit. The New Princess Luxury Beds designed by an famous american sleep expert have been such a success that Gerald, the ship’s English Cruise Director mentioned that people were asking to buy them for home. The pillows too!
The bed did look comfortable…..I could see myself spending a quiet morning there gazing out of the floor to ceiling sliding doors of the balcony and catching up on magazine reading! The view from this cabin was pretty exceptional today!
Just in case you are worried that you may suffer a bit of seasickness, I’m told that you should book a room mid ships on a higher floor.
Outside, one of the four pools beckoned. Surrounded by empty deck chairs at this time, it wouldn’t be too long before they were filled. This is the idyllic luxury of cruising.
Overlooked by the newly renovated Horizon Court dining area, this is where many people would spend the day. Another popular new addition poolside is the New Zealand ice cream bar where 15 cents from the cost of every scoop goes to the New Zealand Earthquake relief fund.
Too many ice creams and you’ll have to check out the gym or you could walk or run around the promenade deck. One circuit is half a kilometre!
Personally I’d forget the gym and head to the spa!
Whilst we were here, we checked out the view from the back of the boat! There really can’t be a better harbour to be docked in.
The permanent cruisers on board agreed having claimed this spot as their own!
If you’re looking for me, I’m in the spa…..
The Lotus Spa is a popular place on the Sun Princess.
With so many different treatments available, you’ll be able to try a different one every day. I’m told that you’ll need to make your reservations early for your choice of time.
We were treated to a bit of pampering ourselves trying their fabulous chocolate wrap that has been designed for their ‘Indulge in Chocolate Journeys’. With the promise of soft skin as a result, I succumbed to chocolate being lathered over my body then wrapped in alfoil like a chocolate bar…all I needed was the Cadbury stamp!! My skin was indeed soft and the back and shoulder massage that followed was heaven!
This is where you’d find me on a cruise!
The Legends Bar
If relaxing in the spa is not for the men, they can head up to the Legends Bar which lives up to its name showing all the latest sports on large televisions. You won’t miss your favourite footy or rugby team play, the latest formula one championship or Wimbledon! This new addition to the seven bars and lounges on the Sun Princess is sure to be very popular.
Restaurants and Cafes
Eating is an important part of cruising! With eight restaurants and cafes on board there are plenty of options as to where to eat on the ship. There are two main dining rooms, a new look Kai Seafood Bar, the Sterling steakhouse, a hot dog and hamburger grill, an International Cafe, the Italian Amuleto Cafe and the fabulous new Curtis Stone restaurant SHARE.
You would not believe the amount of food guests on board the sun Princess consume in seven days: 40 tonnes of food and drink; 10,000 bottles of wine and champagne, 10,000 cans of soft drink, 2500 litres of milk, 2400 bottles of water, 25,000 eggs, 500kg of bacon, 4.6 tonnes of meat, 1.4t of chicken, 500kg of lettuce, 1.3t of rice and 375kg of coffee. All this food comes from the six kitchens on board on decks 5 & 6 that have 120 kitchen staff working in them.
The recent addition of Curtis Stone’s restaurant, SHARE offers the Australian public the first taste of this highly respected chef’s cooking.
As the name suggests, the restaurants dishes are designed to be shared. You can order from the a la carte menu or choose the degustation menu…a bargain at $39 for 5 courses. It’s a new concept and after tasting the dishes on the menu, I know it will be a winner.
“Sharing food and conversations with family and good friends is the best way to eat. I love the process of passing plates amongst each other and creating meaningful connections, sharing what you like, and reflecting on your adventures during the day. It’s these moments that create memories we treasure forever.” Curtis Stone
Our lunch started with a delicious tasty plate of charcuterie and cheese, a tomato, oregano and burrata salad and my favourite, the delicious shrimp salad with lemon gel and radish.
There were also some wonderful main course dishes to share: Beef cheek pie, roasted crab legs and aioli ( Curtis Stone’s favourite!) and a Turbot with Gruyere crumb and spinach. These were served with a moreish potato gratin and black truffle cream.
Desert is always a winner and SHARE offered two of the best: A mouth watering warm bread pudding with wonderful toffee sauce and a tarte aux citron with raspberry granola and meringue. I love this sharing idea ..it would have been a tough choice otherwise!
If you’re about to take a cruise, don’t miss SHARE! It really is exceptional.
Now where was that gym!
Thank you to Sun Princess for the invitation to enjoy these wonderful experiences on the new look Sun Princess. I can now understand why cruising is the way to travel!
For more information on the Sun Princess or any of her sister ships, please head to Princess Cruises website