The captain joked that he’d secured the best parking spot possible and he wasn’t wrong – with the Sydney Opera House on one side and the Harbour Bridge on the other visitors to Sydney were given a stunning display from on top of the towering 19 deck Majestic Princess just in from New Zealand and setting off on a South East Asia tour.
It’s breathtaking just how enormous the mega liner is – it dwarfs everything in its vicinity and commands attention.
For a first timer on board such a ship such as myself it is a dazzling experience. Cabins for 3560 guests who can enjoy shopping arcades, a vast outdoor cinema, a 900 seater theatre with Broadway style shows exclusively made for it, ten superb restaurants and cafes, lifts that whisk you to a seemingly endless variety of new vistas – this is no floating hotel, it’s a mini city.
There are also four swimming pools, eight hot-tubs and spas, a karaoke suite, a casino, a fine art gallery and a massive mix of on board entertainment options managed by an efficient staff dedicated to ensuring not a moment is wasted in ensuring you “come back new” which is the Princess Cruises motto.
There was a palpable air of excitement the day I stepped aboard – thousands were embarking for their a trip that will take them around South East Asia to destinations including Singapore, Vietnam, Taiwan and Hong Kong.
Peter Walter-Smith and his wife of 47 years Sari had flown in especially from Adelaide to embark on this grand voyage. The scale of the ship with all the variety it offers as well as the varied itinerary were the great draw and they couldn’t wait to get on board.
More cautious were Joe and Julie Esposito, also from Adelaide who were taking the cruise only for a couple of days to its first stop in Brisbane. “It’s an intimidating size – we want to be sure we’re comfortable with that before we book anything longer,” said Sari.
They would be reassured by Sydney-sider John Hartley who had just left a two week trip round New Zealand.
“The service was fabulous, the ship was magnificent and even though we only had an internal cabin with no view we couldn’t fault it at all,” he said. John was with his wife Kay and sister Nola Hughes. They gave it a five out five star rating.
The crew speak 20 different languages and come from many parts of the globe including India, the Philippines and Indonesia. One I spoke to was Komang from Bali who said he was loving his first month on board as a steward and was impressed by how well the staff were looked after with opportunities to see the great destinations the ship docked in.
Among the choices for guests is the chance to engage with local experts in far flung parts. It’s the job of Michael Mihajlov as destination director to ensure they meet people who will give them insights that only someone living in the area being visited would know.
“This is designed for passengers who don’t like organised tours but who want to have an insider’s viewpoint,” said Michael. Booking early for such trips is essential – there are only 16 people able to go in each group to ensure it is a truly intimate experience.
The Majestic Princess is joined by four other Princess Cruises vessels with homeports in Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Brisbane and a new addition in Adelaide as well. There’s a huge variety of choice for your itinerary with options such as a seven night trip around Tasmania or a 17 nighter taking you out to Vanuatu and New Caledonia.
Pictures credit: Neal Harrison