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Across the Ditch - First Days at Sea on Board Princess Cruises New Zealand Cruise

New Zealand Cruise . 2017 . Nov 16 - 17


This post is part of our New Zealand Cruise Trip Report and Itinerary. Do check out the full itinerary and our reviews here

The first 2 days of our cruise from Australia to New Zealand were ‘at sea’ days, as the Golden Princess transverses the Tasman Sea, which the Australians and New Zealanders fondly term as ‘The Ditch’.

Starting the vacation with 2 days of sea days means that we could have a good rest on board, and allowed us to catch up on sleep while waiting for the Golden Princess to arrive at New Zealand.  I actually enjoyed sea days a lot, because that would also be the time for me to explore the ship a bit and then hit the gym to burn off those calories gained from non-stop feasting on board.

It’s always great to start the day with a good breakfast!



Sea days are best for a long drawn breakfast at the restaurant because there really isn’t anything much else to do!  Order all you like, there’s plenty of muffins, breads, juices, yogurts and main dishes that you can pick from the menu!


Tip: There are several options for breakfast. One would be to order breakfast to be sent to your cabin at no fee. All you need to do is to fill up the order form and put it outside your cabin by a specified time. The next option is to go to the buffet spread at the Horizon Court or the International Café for some casual breakfast. The last option, and the one we recommend would be to take breakfast at one of the restaurants designated for breakfast. Do so early enough and you will have your choice of dining privately without anyone other guests joining your table.

Not long after we finished with breakfast, we actually found ourselves looking at the lunch options available.  Talk about non-stop eating!


Our starter of Albondigas Soup and Tri-colour Salad.


Main course of Teriyaki Chicken and Hawaiian Tuna Toast.


How can we ever stop eating when the options are this good!  We must commend the chefs of Princess Cruises on the Teriyaki Chicken with rice.  It was very nicely done and tasty, despite it being an Asian dish.

And then there’s still dessert although it is only lunch time…its ice cream and cream caramel for us.


Princess Cruises has organized a great variety of activities during the sea days to entertain passengers – the activities range from destination presentations, sports tournaments and fitness seminars to specific interests such as art and craft and health and beauty workshops, and of course the shopping showcases and jewelry talks.


We attended one presentation on the Haka Experience, conducted by a Maori ambassador, Kane. The Haka is a traditional war cry, accompanied by a posture dance, and usually performed by a group.  The vigorous movements, stamping of the feet and fierce facial expressions is rhythmically accompanied by the shouted cries of the performers, thus conveying a hostile message to invading tribes, and is meant to frighten them off.


Beyond the comforts of the Golden Princess, the sea was extremely rocky as the ship attempted to traverse the Tasman Sea.   This was to be expected as the Tasman Sea has been known to be extremely choppy and turbulent and is one of the most difficult crossings in the world.  Passengers who are prone to sea sicknesses should brace themselves for two days of discomfort until the ship reaches land.


Tip: Passengers who are prone to sea sicknesses would fare better if they choose a cabin in the middle of the ship at the lower decks as this would be the most stable part of the ship. Avoid alcohol and beverages with caffeine such as coffee. Take the necessary precautions by taking ginger pills with every meal and lie down if you feel queasy.

Our vacation was booked pretty late, leaving us with only a few choices of cabins.  We ultimately chose one which was at the very front of the ship, which made it difficult for me as I am prone to sea sicknesses.  Despite that, with a bit of medication and careful selection of food, the effects can be mitigated quite quickly.

Shopping always takes my mind off things, and so I came back from the shops with a new addition to my plush toy collection.  He’s called Stanley the Bear, and is a new arrival on Princess Cruises.

The story so far was that he came aboard the cruise ship to look for food while the ship was docked in Alaska, and then he found himself as a stowaway when the ship sailed off the waters of Alaska.  Stanley is dressed in the Captain’s garb and is extremely cute.  As it was near to Christmas, the shop also sold a set of Christmas clothes tailored made for him.


Sea days are also best to connect with each other through the common activities that we like.  To us, enjoying the comforts of our cabin that came with a great sea view and topping it off with a leisurely game of monopoly was something that we would never get to do at home.


Dinner time rolls about pretty fast when you are on a cruise ship and in fact, dinner is the one activity that most of us look forward to.

Our starter of West Australian Lobster Bisque and Tempura Vegetable Sushi.   I usually look for items marked as ‘Australian Cuisine’ and the Lobster Bisque was one of them.  It was truly fantastic and the best out of the lot. I would have many portions of it if not out of concern for that waistline.


We also ordered a main dish as a starter just to have a taste of it – the Farfelle Bowtie Pasta in Creamy Veal Sauce.  Ordering a main dish as a starter only means that the portion is a lot smaller than it would be as main dish.  Otherwise, the taste and presentation remains the same.


Our mains of Roasted Red Snapper Leatherjack and Grilled Medallions of Beef Tenderloin, both mediocre.


The Chocolate Journeys was something that Princess Cruises introduced during their 50th Anniversary in 2015, which coincided with our cruise to the Baltic.   The Chocolate Journeys are something worth looking out for in the dessert menu, because each and every creation taste so good as they were made with the finest chocolates.

This Chocolate Hazelnut Bar with Citrus Cream that we had today lived up to its expectations.


It was topped with a nutritious plate of fruits to balance off the sinful chocolate indulgence.


We caught the earlier installment of the production show – Born to Dance.  This was performed entirely by Princess Cruises’ own crew of singers and dancers in a Broadway style, and we were told that we were the privileged firsts to catch this new production put up by Princess. There were however, technical glitches with resulted in the show being delayed for more than half an hour!  So much so for being the first!



Tip: There are usually two installments of the evening’s entertainment show and the timings are usually made known via the Princess Patter which is distributed to all cabins. Plan ahead and select the show timing that is most convenient for your beforehand and turn up earlier to grab a seat. Otherwise, you will find yourself walking into a full house and getting turned away for a show.

After that, it was an early night for us.  Better get to bed early as we had just lost an hour yesterday due to time adjustments and today, we will be losing another precious hour.

The next morning saw us having a change in plans for breakfast – instead of fighting for a private table at the restaurant, we headed to the International Café for some light pastries and of course, to use our coffee card.  To my pleasant surprise, there’s the Chocolate Journey pastries here as well…yummy!  This day already has the beginnings of being a lazy day, but I am not complaining – I fully intend to relax and recharge before we hit land.


Princess Cruises regularly holds sale events, especially on sea days, and I’ve always made sure never to miss any of them, because who knows, I may just be able to grab a cheap deal here!


Every single item here is sold at $15. This time, I’ve managed to pick out only 1 or 2 items that in my opinion, are worth more than the price.


Today, the sea looks a lot calmer, but I am still not letting down on that sea-sickness medication.


Honestly, what else is there to look forward today during sea days, except for the meal times?  I delight in seeing what’s served during meal times!  The lunch menu is of course much simpler than the one for dinner, but still, there’s plenty of choices.

Cream of Broccoli and Roast Pork Viking Style.  Yes, the cream of broccoli does sound too yucky because it is broccoli, but it does taste good.  Can’t say much for the roast pork though.


Desserts are always the favorite part of the meal, and my indulgence knows no boundaries today as we ordered all that was available -  Fruits, banana cream cake, pear jelly and an ice-cream.  The pear jelly was undoubtedly the best among the lot.


We came back to our cabin to find it decorated to commemorate our special event.


Tip: If you are celebrating any special occasions such as a birthday or anniversary, do let Princess Cruises’ staff know in advance and they will make sure it is a memorable event for you.

It was a day of doing nothing for us, and this in itself was really a great luxury.  Frankly. when was the last time you had nothing to do?  I also saw this as the best time to build some really good habits – I for one thing leveraged on this 14-day cruise to kick that every-morning-must-have-coffee habit.

The cruise was also a great means for a digital detox, as you need to pay an arm and a leg for internet connection, and so consequently, all our mobile devices became pretty useless during sea days.  But we learned to cope with the withdrawal symptoms.


Princess Cruises do make great effort to ensure that every passenger is entertained at every single hour.  Kane, the Maori ambassador conducted his hand action games in the Piazza, the delightful charade trio entertained us with their harmonious melodies, just to list a few, and when all else fails, there’s always the beautiful works at the art gallery that is for sale but for which browsing is free.


But for me, there’s nothing else more comforting than popping back into my cabin for a while to enjoy my private piece of the sea and to contemplate on life.


For dinner, we were again overwhelmed with the variety of choices – so we ordered everything that we liked – the Prawn Salad, Spicy Bean Soup with Diced Pumpkin, Australian Seasonal Vegetable Soup, and a Frosted Strawberry-Yogurt Smoothie.  The last two were the best among all.


As for mains, it was a little disappointing because there was anything that we particularly liked, so the Red Wine Braised Lamb Shank looked like the best choice for both of us.


And of course, because we were celebrating a special occasion, the maître came over with this small token and sang a song for us.


Showtime at the Princess Theatre.  This was one of those days when we didn’t plan to watch the show, but went to watch it anyway and ended up standing on the aisle which actually wasn’t allowed.


This concludes our first 2 days at sea.  Join us next as we arrive at New Zealand’s Fiordland National Park.

This post is part of our New Zealand Cruise Trip Report and Itinerary. Do check out the full itinerary and our reviews here


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