Crossing the Tasman like royalty on the Princess

Majestic Princess at Sea Trials
Photo of Jan Bromilow

JAN BROMILOW tours New Zealand in Majestic style

The mighty Majestic Princess dwarfs all around her as she regally eases her way out of Sydney Harbour. This huge ship will be our home for the next 12 days on a cruise across the ditch to New Zealand, covering the 6300km-round trip from Sydney.

I am travelling with my husband, Dion, and friends Christine and Bob King, admire the passing scenery from a deck bar then, once at sea, turn our attention to all the ship has to offer.

Majestic Princess was built in 2017 and boasts 17 decks and accommodates a maximum of 3560 guests. On decks five, six and seven, there are countless bars, meeting rooms, the dining rooms, library, shops, cafes and a large theatre, with a towering atrium surrounded by glass-encased elevators at the centre.

Decks 16 and 17 are the pool and outside activities areas with a giant movie screen dominating, surrounded by numerous bars, an adults-only area, gym, an assortment of sporting facilities and a massive, very confusing bistro and buffet eating venue.

On the other decks, elevators spew out guests into the corridors covered with red and blue carpets, indicating port and starboard, which lead off into a vast warren of well fitted-out staterooms featuring plenty of storage.

Following an easterly course across the Tasman Sea towards Auckland, two days at sea allows passengers plenty of time to acquaint themselves with everything the ship has to offer.

Arriving in Auckland, we take our preferred sight-seeing option of the Hop On Hop Off bus. This service visits all the major city attractions throughout the day before dropping us back near the waterfront, where we enjoy strolling around the mix of bars and cafes.

The following day, we dock in Tauranga, where we have booked a pre-arranged sight-seeing road trip with Scott Tours to Rotorua. As promised, Yvonne is waiting, with sign aloft at the entrance to the port and leads us to a comfortable six-seater van for the 90-minute drive. For $NZ140, we enjoy a six-hour tour visiting the Whakarewarewa Village with its geysers and steaming ground and a cultural show with dance and haka performed by the local residents, then savour a sampler lunch which is cooked in geothermal “ovens”.

After another day at sea, we reach the busy port of windy Wellington. There is a free shuttle service running into the city centre, where we purchase another Hop On Hop Off bus ticket. The bus is actually a 12-seater van as opposed to the usual double-decker due to the windy conditions and the very steep and winding streets. The trip was both informative and enjoyable, with plenty to see.

The pretty port of Akaroa is our next port of call, a lovely seaside town situated about 90 minutes from Christchurch. We elect to take an independent coach to Christchurch to see for ourselves how much the earthquake is still impacting the city. Dominating the centre is the cathedral with its gaping wounds, looking out towards the many empty spaces where buildings had once stood. The scaffolding propping up those that survived tells the story only too well.

Next stop is busy Port Chalmers, a 30-minute shuttle drive from Dunedin where, the Hop On Hop Off bus is again our preferred way to see the sights. The weather has changed to cool and wet and so we actually go around the circuit twice as the trip is so short! Christine then declares that she is done with Dunedin and we make an early return to the ship.

The following day is devoted to scenic cruising, taking in the towering fjords and waterfalls of Dusky Sound, Thompson Sound and Milford Sound which offer breathtaking scenery.

Then Majestic Princess turns and heads for home.

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