Date With a Princess ...

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April 1st 2015
Published: April 1st 2015
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We'd had a bit of a sleep in after our eventful day the day before, getting from Sydney to Auckland to begin our cruise adventure. Surfacing around 8am, we then breakfasted in the hotel dining room at 10am after checkout. We’d left our bags in the luggage room whilst we’d had breakfast and then while we walked down the street to Woolworth's (which is Countdown in NZ) to purchase a few things that we wanted to get before boarding the ship.

Heading back to the hotel, which was only a few minutes’ walk, we collected our bags and, after tagging them with our cruise labels, set off with our roll-y bags in tow, for the cruise terminal which was only about a 10-minute walk from the hotel.

As we approached, we could see the “Diamond Princess” dwarfing the dock where she was berthed, gleaming white and looking majestic in the brilliant sunshine, as we stopped en route a couple of times to take some photos of this magnificent ship whilst we could still fit her into the frame of our cameras, before continuing on to walk the short distance to the terminal.

The dock area was a hive of activity, with people coming and going and baggage being off-loaded from several tourist coaches that had just arrived as well as taxis and other vehicles. We made some enquiries as to the procedure for depositing our bags and were advised to go to Shed 10, directly in front of us, which was where we were to start the check-in process for boarding but, just at the entrance, had to drop our big bags with the baggage handlers at the bag-drop area.

For us, check-in was between 1-5pm and, by this time, it was already 12-30pm so, we left Glenn & Bon at the terminal whilst Ted and I walked the short distance up to the shopping centre to get the other couple of things we needed that we hadn’t been able to get earlier.

It was only about a 5-minute walk so, purchases made, it was then back to the terminal to begin our cruise adventure and were about 2/3rds of the way back when I had the horrible realisation that I had left our travel documents, passports etc in my small cabin bag at bag-drop which just goes to show, that even seasoned travellers can stuff-up sometimes!

I fronted up to one of the lady attendants there, admitting that I had stuffed up and, she quickly took matters in hand and contacted someone to help me with my problem.

First stop was the “hall” where they take all the passengers bags after they have dropped them off in preparation for being loaded onto the ship to be delivered to everyone’s staterooms. She said that we may be lucky, that they may still be there, seeing that we had only dropped them off about 10-15 minutes previously. No - not so lucky after all. The baggage handlers had been extremely efficient and had already loaded our bags onboard.

She then said that she would have to speak to her boss but discovered that he had gone on his break so, we would have to wait until he returned in about 10 minutes time.

We hadn’t even left the hall area when he suddenly appeared at our elbow, already knowing what the issue was and, asked me some details then took me to where they were loading the bags onto the ship and spoke to one of the baggage handlers there who took my details, stateroom no, description of the bag he was looking for and, off he went.

We were to wait back in the waiting area at the entrance to Shed 10, and our benefactor would come and find us – hopefully with my bag. He said, “if it's that simple, that’ll be good.”

We filled in our departure documents whilst we waited and after about 10 minutes, we saw him coming towards us with my cabin bag in tow. Huge relief!

Grabbed our travel documents and passports out of the bag and, then he kindly offered to return my bag back onto the ship for me instead of me now having to take it aboard myself. Talk about great service! From start to finish, all of this took a total of 20 minutes. We had arrived at the terminal around 12-30pm; Ted and I then walked up to the shopping centre and back again, reporting my misdemeanour at 12-45pm and now, here we were, ready and boarding by 1-05pm!

It didn’t take us long to go through the boarding process and security checks, collecting our cruise cards which were our payment method as well as our ID cards (for every passenger on board) and we were on board.

Our bags were already waiting for us outside our stateroom when we arrived so we were able to get those safely inside and stashed away before we went to find Glenn & Bonny. Unpacking could come later. We had a whole ship to explore!!

We had no idea where Glenn & Bon would be as we had thought that they would be waiting for us at the terminal where we had left them, when we returned from the shopping centre and we would all board together but, they had gone on ahead so, we were then at a bit of a loss as to where they would be or how we would find them among the 2,696 other passengers on board as we hadn’t pre-arranged any meeting point.

We tried sending them a text to see where they were but, mobile reception was a bit iffy and unreliable so, set off for Deck 14 (where our check-in lady had said food was being served for passengers) as we thought that’s perhaps where they would be. We had just arrived there and were walking around the pool when we saw them waving to us. Just love it when a cunning plan works!

By now, it was about 2-30pm and, we all sat and had a couple of drinks and a bit of a snack for, by this, breakfast seemed like quite some time ago now and we were feeling a bit peckish.

We had heard that there was to be an orientation tour of the ship at 3-30pm so, decided to join that after we had eaten to try and start to get our bearings a bit on this huge floating mini city. Whilst we were sitting there chatting away over our drinks and snacks, we noticed that the “Diamond Princess’” sister ship, the “Dawn Princess” was also berthed nearby.

Our orientation tour finished about 4-ish and, we then had about an hour before we had to be at our Muster Station in the Princess Theatre at 5pm for the safety drill before we sailed at 6pm.

The theatre holds about 700 people and, we all had to turn up with our life jackets – carrying them, not wearing them – to listen to the safety talk and lastly to be shown how to put on our jackets.

All of this took a bit over 10 minutes so, back to our staterooms again to stash our life jackets, having made arrangements to meet Glenn and Bon back up on Deck 14 again about 5-45pm where all the action would be taking place, to watch our sailing at 6pm.

Bon had been excited for days, as we had celebrated her 60th birthday at home a couple of days earlier with a family dinner, then took our flight to Auckland which heralded the beginning of our 12-day cruise around New Zealand and, we had kept joking that she was having a really long birthday this year and that not too many people received a cruise for a birthday present!

What really put the icing on the (birthday) cake was, when they had arrived at their stateroom after boarding earlier in the day, there was a large “Happy Birthday” poster displayed on the door to their stateroom as well as two balloons attached – compliments of Princess Cruises! As well as that, when they went inside, there was another special surprise waiting for both of them – not a birthday cake but, a Bon Voyage present of a large platter of chocolate-dipped strawberries that were decorated and iced, looking like little waiters waistcoats. They looked so cute and almost too lovely to eat. These were with the compliments of our super travel agent and lovely family – Jen, Nat, Justin and the kids at home. Little did Ted and I know at the time that, there would be a similar platter waiting for us in our stateroom upon our return. What a lovely thought from all of them and a great way to get our holiday off to a great start.

15 minutes or so before sailing, we returned back up to Deck 14 so that we could watch the proceedings as we set sail from Auckland harbour bound for Tauranga which was to be our first port of call and where we would arrive the following morning. There was a very festive atmosphere on board (probably aided by the free drinks that were being provided by Princess Cruises!) as we prepared to set sail, with people dancing and celebrating and music playing as conga lines weaved in and out of the hundreds of passengers in attendance as the tugs pushed us out from the dock.

We stayed outside for awhile as the ship made her way down harbour and then out to the open sea then changed direction which meant it then got a bit windier and a bit colder so we decided we would go back to G & B’s room for drinks on the balcony before we went to dinner.

I had earlier rung the dining service number to make a reservation for dinner when we had gone back to our room only to find that it only operates between 8am and 5pm and as it was now 5-40pm at the time, thought that we’d just take pot-luck and hope for the best that we would get into the dining room without a reservation.

We sat on G & B’s balcony chatting and enjoying the passing scenery with Glenn & me taking a series of photos of the sunset and departing city skyline of Auckland before finally heading off to dinner around 8-30pm.

As it turned out, we had no trouble at all getting into the “Vivaldi” dining room, even though the dress code said “no shorts”, which Ted was wearing, plus his thongs but, they didn’t say a word.

Dinner was lovely and the dining room equally so with Vivaldi’s music playing quietly in the background and our waiters were very good and the service quite quick. Glenn, Bon and I had the special of the day which was NZ baked lamb and vegetables whilst Ted had the beef. Both dishes were very tender and nice. Dessert for Ted and me was crème brulee whilst Bon had the chocolate mousse. Glenn declined.

During dinner, our waiter asked if we had a “coffee card” and, no, we didn’t so, enquired as to what this was. 15 coffees for US$29 which were available in all the dining rooms, bars, the Horizon Buffet on Deck 14 and a couple of other places throughout the ship. Figured I would get through that many in the course of the cruise so, purchased one. It’s a bit like a loyalty card in that, once purchased and each time you order a coffee, they punch a hole in the card which relates to the number of coffees remaining.

We finished dinner around 10-15pm and then headed home with the arrangement to meet at 9-30 the following morning on Level 5 at the Atrium, without breakfast, and go ashore in Tauranga and have brunch somewhere there. None of us are doing any excursions during the cruise as they are dreadfully expensive and we’ve all been to most of the places on offer anyway so, will prefer to do our own thing each time we dock.

Additional photos below
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1st April 2015

Ahh the smell of the ocean!
Love the little waiters jacket strawberries. Do they charge for excursions etc in USD ? have always been curious. Thanks cant wait for the next blog!
2nd April 2015

Ahh the small of the ocean
Hi Cindy, The strawberries were delicious but, I felt a bit like an ogre each time I ate one as they looked so cute. :) Yes, all of the excursions were quoted in USD (as is everything on board) and were rather overpriced we felt but, if that's the only option you have, I'm sure the quality was there as everything is taken care of for you. Always lovely to hear from you. :) J xx
1st April 2015

I'm looking forward to pictures of towels wrapped to look like animals...
and, of course, the rest of your cruise!
2nd April 2015

Date with a Princess
Hi Bob & Linda, Always look forward to hearing from you and thank you for "dropping in". Alas and alack - we had no "towel animals" this time - I did look for them each night but, unfortunately none appeared such as we had on a Royal Caribbean cruise we did last year but, there were other compensations. :) We love NZ and have been there a few times but, this was from a totally different perspective. Loved the cruise and would do it again in a minute. It has more than whetted our appetite but then, it IS travel and, we need no encouragement where that in any form, is concerned. :) Jan xxx
2nd April 2015

Diamonds are a girls best friend
Hi SkiSet, looked like a fabulous trip, what an amazing ship, we have been thinking that we would like to take a trip on the Diamond Princess one day in the not too distant future. It was great to see her leaving Fremantle she dwarfs everything and she just glided past us without making a sound, if you weren't watching you would never have noticed her leaving dock! Looking forward to seeing you next week. KangarooJack x
2nd April 2015

Diamonds are a girl's best friend ....
Hi guys. She was magnificent and we would sail on her again in a minute. Everything was done with a minimum of fuss - totally everything - and they spoiled us rotten!! From the servicing of your stateroom to the mandatory safety musters to 5-star dining - even docking at ridiculous-o'clock in the wee small - you were in and docked and didn't know a thing about it unless you were up at sparra's to witness the event. She's a true jewel and her crew and attendants second to none. Really looking forward to seeing you both next week. How did the wedding go? and how does it feel being "back home" again? Everyone must be happy to see you both again. :) Lots of love as always. J, T & Co. xoxoxo

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