We are far from being experienced cruisers having taken only two cruises. One was the 7 day inside passage Alaskan cruise on the Statendam in 1997 and the other was a 3 day cruise from Townsville to Cairns on the Coral Princess II in 2004.
The Alaska cruise was the third week of June and we were lucky with the weather. No rain and 5 of 7 days over 80 degrees. Saw several whales and had a very good time overall.
The Barrier Reef Cruise was another story. We were in NZ and AU for 67 days in 03. We were to fly from Hervey Bay to Lady Elliott Island for our Reef Experience but that was eliminated by a cyclone (8 inches of water on the Lady in one day). We had just visited Fraser Island from Hervey Bay and it was great. We decided that a repeat in 04 was in order so again did NZ and AU but this time for 59 days. Once again NZ was spectacular and we had virtually no rain for two weeks. Our Doubtful Sound trip was great and we'd been lucky the first year on Milford Sound with no rain and virtually none for the entire 17 days.
We got on the Coral Princess in Townsville and had one wild ride - so to speak. Very large waves and I came close to being sea sick. For most of the 3 days the weather was "heavy" and the amount of the reef we saw amounted to 5 minutes when the motor on the glass bottom boat gave out on the 3rd day. On the second day we did get in a half hour on a fringe reef that was nice but the end result was we really didn't experience the Barrier Reef. The boat was fine, the crew was great, the food was delightful - but no Reef.
So, we got to thinking that 07 should be the time to do it again. We found that Coral Princess Cruises has taken delivery of the Oceanic Princess and it has a 12 day cruise from Auckland to Milford http://www.coralprincess.com.au/newzealand.html It looked inviting and we figured we'd take it and then their 4 day cruise from Cairns to Lizard Island and back (on the CP II). http://www.coralprincess.com.au/g4.html to plug that Reef gap.
Well, the idea was floating along nicely until we found that CP had converted the one cabin for 3 on the Oceanic Princess to a crew cabin. We need a cabin for three and we've been getting no where trying to get them to provide for three people (we have a 32 year old son who has Down Syndrome and he just loves travelling and is always with DW and self).
While fishing around for alternatives I stumbled on what appeared to me to be my dream cruise - the Pacific Princes starting in Sydney and ending in Sydney after going right around the country counter clockwise. In fact I got very excited and have now convinced DW that we really must do it if we can.
Has anyone on the forum taken this cruise? If you have, we certainly would appreciate any info and words of wisdom that you can pass on to us.
We've been in much of Australia except for the north and north west. We've also taken the Indian Pacific from Perth to Sydney and Sydney to Perth (first trip [part of a business trip in 96] was missing Perth to Adelaide as the train was turned back due to a derailment and we were flown to Adelaide - so we had to do it again.). I thought this would be a good time to plug the hole and cover the north and north west. My feeling is that we will still have to go to the Barrier Reef after the cruise (before the cruise we would be in NZ for a couple of weeks) to get the kind of Reef experience we'd like.
The cruise is not cheap and this is where our lack of experience in cruising leaves us wondering just how flexible the prices are if one is considering something at the top end for 3 people.
We'd also be interested in comments from anyone who has sailed the Pacific Princess.
Any advice would be appreciated.
This would likely be our last visit to NZ and AU and we'd like to make it as successful as possible.
Thanks in advance