I know you all probably think that I’ve spent the last four months travelling – you’d be correct in that assumption and what a few months it has been! This last stint of mine was not an intended trip as this was a holiday that the family had planned (sans me), however daddy dearest was unable to make it and of course – my savior complex quickly kicked in and I graciously offered to take his place (ha). I know, I can feel the good karma already coming my way. I spent 9 days onboard the Dawn Princess ship as we made our way down to New Zealand traveling from the south island to the north. I was a little unsure what to expect, as I had never spent so long at sea or travelled on cruise ships for that matter. Unlike the matriarchs of my family – who are Princess veterans, I was a cruise virgin and a little nervous of being out at sea.
Call me a drama queen but scenes from the Titanic started to montage inside my inventive head and I don’t mean the raunchy hands sliding down the misty window scenes. Thankfully the lovely team from Princess Cruises was incredibly accommodating and I received a warm welcome with priority boarding as I checked in with my family. The cabins onboard the Dawn Princess were definitely spacious compared to the box I had the Christmas before on our catamaran during the Yacht Week. My only complaint was the carpet was a little old and needed a clean but the crew quickly fixed this as they changed it faster than I could inhale my lunch.
After getting over my sea legs and the initial onset of nausea, it was quite easy to settle into a daily routine of heading to the gym followed by a spa and steam room session. Safe to say my New Year’s Resolution of keeping fit is off to a smashing start!
We spent the first two days at sea and experiencing endless horizons of ocean and eating exorbitant amounts of food. I think the one thing you can count on when signing up for a cruise is that you’ll never go hungry. The ship had the most attentive team of wait staff who deserve a special mention because they hands down made the experience that much more enjoyable. Vidal and Ivan were our main waiters who were so attentive that my waistline grew at least an inch during my trip – the jury is still out about whether that’s a good thing or not. Silvio and Dimitar ensured that we went back to our rooms with sizeable food babies each evening and if you should know anything about me is that I LOVE food. My man will vouch that I am not a happy camper (a grumpy sook as he calls it) when I don’t get fed and these guys kept me fed and then some and for that my tummy and I are eternally grateful.
To all those thinking of booking their next adventure with Princess Cruises should do their research of all the port days to figure out what highlights in each city is a priority. The onshore excursions offered can be quite pricey and for those travelling in large groups (like we did), this may not be feasible in terms of budget. We opted for renting vehicles at each location and getting around on our own, as I’ve never been a fan of travelling in tour groups and preferred the free exploration option. New Zealand is quite easy to navigate and people are generally quite helpful when you’re a tourist.
Sailing from the south island of New Zealand to the North was quite the experience as we went through the Fiordlands including Milford Sound – ominous and scenic are words that come to mind. True to form New Zealand weather was rather brisk so we enjoyed the views from inside. Our stop in Wellington saw me playing tour guide for our party of eight as I navigated our way to the Red Rocks to find male seal colonies. My David Attenborough moment came as I proved to my family that our 2-hour hike was not for naught as we saw three seals perched at the Devil’s Gate basking in the glorious sunshine.
Rotorua was another highlight of mine as we saw amazing geysers whilst choking on sulfur fumes and bathed in amazing geothermal pools overlooking Rotorua lake at the Polynesian Spa. Relaxing in the Priest Pool and thermal bathing in acidic water from the Radium hot spring – known for its therapeutic properties was the perfect way to wind down and great if you head to Rotorua during winter! My trip was capped off with an amazing spa experience and meal at the Sterling Steakhouse. For the meat lovers out there, this is not to be missed because the steaks that were served were mouth watering. If only I had a bottomless pit and could finish an entire steak! I couldn’t think of anything more perfect than enjoying a glass of wine whilst having a full three course meal and watching the sun set over the horizon with my family.
After 10 days of relaxing by the pool returning back to a pile of work waiting for me in Sydney doesn’t seem so daunting. A big thank you to Andrea, Martyn and Tim for being so accommodating and making my first cruising experience unforgettable! Thank you to the Paul and Joshua for the invite to the bridge and showing me the complexities of what goes on up there! Thank you to Meg for all the experiences onboard the ship!
Now – where to next?