Short cruises are a great way to experience life at sea. Now, I would prefer a longer one (with many sea days), but this is all I can get away for. I am with my dear friend Jessie for this cruise from Adelaide to Melbourne with a call at Kangaroo Island. Jessie and I used to work together packaging up cruise holidays with a major airlines holiday brand – so we know our cruises and love to do them.
- Embarkation in Port Adelaide
- The Ship
- The Cabin
- The Horizon Court – Afternoon Tea and Breakfast
- The Salty Dog – Lunch
- The Main Dining Room – Dinner
- Room Service – The Midnight Snack
- The Crown Grill – Specialty Restaurant
- Port of Call – Kangaroo Island
Over the years Jessie and I have been on a few cruises together but this one was actually booked back at the beginning of the pandemic. We rebooked it three times, once in 2020, again in 2021 and then again at the beginning of 2022. To encourage us to cruise, Princess were throwing all types of freebies to us – a free cabin grade upgrade, free WiFi, free drinks package (maximum 15 drinks per day at a maximum cost of $15 per drink), free specialty restaurant dining and $10 on board credit 🙂 Finally the day had come for us to get back to cruising! Read on about our trip, what we loved about it and what upsets us.
Embarkation in Port Adelaide
We have flown from Sydney to Adelaide to join the ship and when we arrive in Adelaide we grab an Uber from the airport. Its about a 40 minute drive from the airport to Port Adelaide Cruise Terminal and costs us $45 which I think is pretty good! We could have taken the airport bus to the city then jumped on a train to Port Adelaide right opposite the cruise terminal, but it would have taken a lot longer and cost about the same anyway.
Check-in is really quick even when there are more formalities and paperwork these days due to COVID. Most of it is done online – uploading your vaccination certificate and declaring yourself to be COVID free. We had done a R.A.T. (Rapid Antigen Test) in the morning and while they advise you to take a photo with a date and time stamp but don’t ask to see it. Jessie drops her bag to be delivered to the cabin, but I only have a small bag and backpack so I keep them with me. We are in the cabin within 20 minutes of arriving at the port and on deck with a drink within half an hour 🙂
The Grand Princess – 107,517 gross tonnes – was built in 1998 and refurbished in 2011. She is 290 metres in length, has a beam of 36 metres and is 62 metres tall. This 25 year old ship is starting to show a little age but still has some life in her yet.
The ship carries a maximum of 3,100 passengers with 1,100 crew on board. This cruise, being a short one and over the Australia Day public holiday, seemed at capacity and more than usual number of children than I had previously encountered on Princess Cruises. But thats ok, they stuck the kids club and to the family pools.
Ok, so we are in an inside cabin – not much to see here! It’s only a short three night cruise and we figure we will spend more time doing things on the ship than in the cabin! On longer cruises however, I do like a balcony for fresh air and natural light. We are a bit of a Lido deck fan, we have stayed in this location before. The cabins on Lido (deck 14) are forward – I much prefer forward as opposed to aft on a ship simply because the aft vibrates from the engine and moving through the water. There are also only a few cabins in this area which means less noise and passing foot traffic. Lido deck also features the outdoor pools, lots of deck space with sun lounges and the Horizon Court Buffet.
The Horizon Court – Afternoon Tea and Breakfast
Other than embarkation day where we stopped in for afternoon tea, on each morning, breakfast was had in the buffet.
As soon as we boarded we headed to the buffet for afternoon tea – just a couple of delights washed down with a Chardonnay 🙂
As mentioned, breakfast was enjoyed here each morning. The green smoothie just looks so darn healthy! The mixture of spinach, celery, cucumber and parsley was quite good but I could only seem to have just one each morning as it was quite strong in the parsley flavour.
So I go for half greasy / half Asian breakfast with a load up of Eggs Benedict, bacon, sausage, beef hash and fried ham. I’m not a fan of the Benny and although my plate is swimming in grease, I do love the beef hash.
Not the best congee I must say. It lacked saltiness and needed a few drops of sesame oil, perhaps even some shredded chicken – thats how I like my congee~
The Salty Dog – Lunch
Cheese from a bottle – who knows whats actually in it – with fake bacon bits, on my cheese and bacon loaded fries, not something I would generally eat but hey I am on holidays…
OK, so more of that bad cheese from a bottle on my fries… naughty me! The soft taco shells aren’t grilled like I expected them to be but overall they are nice. Not a strong chipotle-lime taste, I would have liked some more heat and zing of lime!
Last time I was on a Princess cruise I really enjoyed the burgers, however something had changed this time. The bun wasn’t as soft and meat tasted processed… still its a filling lunch.
Our day at sea fell on Australia Day so at lunch was a special Aussie BBQ – coleslaw and salad, pork ribs, chicken wings, steak, sausages and fried onions and eggplant- I especially liked the pork ribs!
The Main Dining Room – Dinner
For the first and second nights we booked two of the main dining rooms – Da Vinci and Botticelli. Both nights we dined at a table for six which proved interesting. We met some lovely people, but also some not so nice ones. On the second night there was a terribly racist older couple who half way through the dinner started spitting derogatory remarks about Australian Indigenous peoples. We didn’t join in or encourage the conversation but sat there in stunned silence, which may be considered just about as bad. While they were the type of people that I knew it would be very hard change their opinions, I felt complicit in their racism by not speaking up, or at least saying the conversation was inappropriate (perhaps reminding them that it is the year 2023). Quite honestly it surprised me that there are people who not only think but speak racist remarks. I felt ashamed for them and myself.
Ships generally fly the flag of their registry, on the Grand Princess, the Bermudan flag is flown, However, on Australia Day, both the Australian and Aboriginal Flag are flown – Take that racist couple!
OK – Back to dinner…
On the first night Jessie goes for something from the ‘Always available’ menu, the fettuccini Alfredo but mixes it up and asks for some sliced chicken with it. Jessie says it’s delicious!
The menu says – ‘Seared tuna medallion escabeche with tomato, black olive, caper berry, tarragon, rocket salad, bocconcini mozzarella‘ – however, my olive is green! (This should be the only disagreement one should have with colour). It is a lovely dish and I certainly like the pungent vinegary caper berries alongside the soft mild tuna.
The pork loin is a fancier version of Nan’s Sunday roast in both looks and taste. The only thing I leave on the plate is the asparagus as it is quite overcooked, shrivelled and stringy but the meat, the jus and mash were divine.
The cheese platter included an aged cheddar and an Edam with a small ball of blue cheese, sadly no names or regions of where they came from were provided.
On the second night, Jessie orders the eggplant parmesan. I think it looks delicious although I am surprised at the thickness of the eggplant scallops.
For main, she ordered the breaded chicken breast with prosecco radicchio cream. The chicken breast is stuffed with fontina cheese, spinach and mushroom and served with roasted potato and asparagus. I swipe some of the fontina and spinach stuffing and goodness me it tastes great!
I go for the prawn cocktail which was slightly disappointing – I should have known it would have been frozen prawns which taste watery! And there is not much flavour in the lemon-myrtle sauce and I would have preferred a Marie Rose sauce.
The grilled snapper comes with eggplant caponata, roasted fingerling potatoes, asparagus and summer squash. The fish is cooked perfectly as are the potatoes and (this time) the asparagus. However, I leave the eggplant caponata as I find it a bit too rich.
What’s the most important thing about a crème brûlée? The layer of hardened sugar on top and this one had that cracking coating and tasted quite good.
Room Service – The Midnight Snack
One evening, while Jessie continued on at the nightclub, I got a little peckish so decided to try out the room service.
There is a variety of food available and only charges are for pizza, it’s after 11pm so I can’t order pizza anyway.
I ordered a chefs salad and hot dog from the Medallion app. It states 30 minutes until delivery, but the app says ‘Preparing’ the whole time…
But wow.. exactly at the 30 minute mark there was a knock at the door and my room service was delivered. I gathered they have gotten good at room service due to the pandemic and when people are confined to their cabins if they test positive.
While the chef’s salad looks great, I wasn’t that impressed with it. The cheese, ham and turkey cubes tasted old and the eggs a little overdone for me.
The hot dog actually tasted better than how it was presented, although I probably should’ve ordered onion as an accompaniment over the relish as they were actually pickles rather than relish!
The Crown Grill – Specialty Restaurant
I am just going to tease you here…. The Crown Grill was such a highlight of dining on Grand Princess, I have decided it should have it’s own post! CLICK HERE. (Coming soon).
Port of Call – Kangaroo Island
Sorry – but I am going to tease you again! Kangaroo Island was a fantastic port of call, it also gets it’s own post – CLICK HERE (Coming soon).
When we learned someone could win $1000 playing Deal or No Deal we thought we’d better give this a go. It cost $50 for three game cards to play along. One person was randomly selected from the audience to play onstage – unfortunately neither of us – but we did come away with a couple of prizes. We both won a $5 scratch card, Jessie won three games in the upcoming Bingo session and I won a $50 casino credit. A couple of games of roulette later I had turned my $50 into $80 and cashed it out. The scratch cards weren’t winners so we popped them in the second chance barrel in the casino that was to be drawn on the last night – which turned out to be a good thing but to read about the second chance draw check out the story on The Crown Grill specialty restaurant!
One number away! I was one number away from the jackpot when I hear BINGO next to me! Sadly it’s not Jessie but the man to my right and he won a cool $1,957!
For nighttime entertainment we took in a show with the main act being Nathan Foley of Hi 5 fame. No he didn’t sing kids songs and was quite energetic on stage!
Movies under the stars was an option but there was nothing playing that I really wanted to see on this cruise…
…but there was the TV show The Love Boat playing on the in-cabin entertainment!
There was also the nightclub One5, located on deck 15. It was a great mix of people, young and not so young, and with the DJ asking for requests, he had everyone up dancing.
All that entertainment plus trivia and art actions and fun short shows can be tiring… but if you’re anything like me, this is what you most likely would have enjoyed the most, lounging around with a nice wine and watching the ocean – it really is quite mesmerising!
The cruise had moments of sheer joy, but also some moments we wish we hadn’t encountered. The food was hit and miss at times but overall we had a really great time!
Have you been on a Princess cruise post-pandemic? How would you have handled the racist couple – got up and walked away, sat in silence or called them out on it?
3 Comments Add yours
You got up to some fun things! So which do you prefer: ships or planes? And a 20 minute embarkation is amazing (it always seems to take us longer). As for that scummy, old racist couple there is a special place awaiting them.
I love them both equally of course! 😂. And yes, agreed where the racists are going!