Celebrity Eclipse  at Sydney.

Our cruise was a nine day cruise based around wine – Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania, and for the overseas passengers it also included New South Wales.

First impressions of our Celebrity Eclipse cabin.

Majestic Princess at Sydney

First impressions of our Majestic Princess cabin.

The cabins were similar in size Eclipse 23 sq mtrs (248 sq ft) and the Majestic was 28 sq mtrs, (300 sq ft) including the balcony in both cases for a similar cost. 
Overall, the Majestic Princess was better designed for stowage and cabin space, but Eclipse had a slightly bigger bathroom and a better shower, but the Majestic Princess shower was over a full size-bath.
At a flick of a switch the Eclipse shower allowed the water to spray one all over rather than just the traditional rose-head shower.

The Majestic had two large TVs, one facing the bed and the other in the sitting area. Eclipse only had one TV in the sitting area.
Majestic’s choice of films was far greater than the limited choice for the Eclipse

Majestic’s library was very limited, but the Eclipse’s library was magnificent with a dedicated lounge area for a quiet read.

If you get tired of reading you could always watch the silent lifts move up and down the heart of the Eclipse.

The Majestic carried 3560 passengers and the Eclipse carried 2852 passengers.

The Majestic is 330 mtr. (1083 ft) in length, and the Eclipse is 317 mtrs (1040 ft) long.
Majestic 143,700 gt and the Eclipse 122,00 gt.

When cruising with Majestic Princess we booked a mini-suite at a cost of AUD $264/night for eleven nights.
When cruising with Celebrity Eclipse we booked Aqua Class, which is the next one down from a full suite (similar ranking to the mini-suite of Majestic Princess) at a cost of $343/ night for nine nights.

On Majestic we ate each evening in the Symphony dining room and we were always asked if we wished to share a table. We were happy to do so up to a total of six people, and we met some very interesting people from the USA, Canada as well as Australia.

The Eclipse was different because we were Aqua Class, which entitled us to eat in a dedicated restaurant called Blu.

BLU Restaurant

We had the choice of eating in the main dining room or in Blu.
On our first night at Blu we expected to be given a choice of a table for two or sharing.
We were not given a choice but shown directly to a table for two in an area which had several tables for two. The tables where close enough that we did not have to shout or strain to speak to our neighbours.
The system worked well, and one could tell if a neighbour did not wish to join in a conversation – there was always other tables near.
The advantage of Blu was that we had the same staff every night and they soon got know our preferences, whether it be a particular wine for me or the sugar free tonic water for Maureen.
Maureen had never been able to obtain this type of tonic water on the Majestic. Eating in Blu for breakfast (when at sea) and dinner added that little extra to the cruise, plus the food was good. 


The above pictures show the Eclipse Ocean View Cafe, which is open for early to very late. On port days we would have our breakfast in this area.
The different types of food were spread over a large area but over each food location was a large sign indicating the type of food on offer. 
For example, they had an American Breakfast unit, muesli and fruit unit, Cheese, Lettice and cold meat unit if this was your breakfast taste, and a toast area that had various types of bread black, brown, white, crumpets, croissant, plus a range of marmaladed, various jams and savoury spreads.

The big plus for Maureen was the large choice of gluten free desserts at the Ocean View Cafe.
In the above picture is a just a few of the puddings/cake’s choice of gluten free items. Celebrity had a much larger choice of gluten free cakes, tarts, puddings as well as jellies.
Majestic offered a limited number of individual GF cakes or tarts and a few different jellies.  

To the right of the person in the white shirt is an area which is a self-serve if you wish for tea, coffee, ice water, iced tea and various juices. Staff wandered around with insulated jugs of coffee, tea, water if you did not wish to DIY. 
 Majestic had a similar system for tea or coffee, but not for juices, because they were available during your stroll    


The big difference for me was that with the Eclipse Ocean View I had to stand in the middle and scan all the notices indicating the type of food on offer, whereas Majestic World Fresh Market consisted of a number of walkways that allowed you to stroll down and scan the daily choice.

The crew in attendance on both vessels served the passenger once the food had been chosen.
I think the Majestic system was easier, but it was all a matter of personal choice.       Moonlight Sonata Restaurant.

When at sea we had lunch in this restaurant. Only the balcony area was open for lunch, the main area opened for dinner. 

Majestic Princess had the Allegro restaurant for lunch at sea.

Majestic Princess Allegro Dining room, which had a much warmer atmosphere than Moonlight Sonata on Eclipse.

Overall to choose one vessel over another comes down to personnel choice and ‘atmosphere’. We enjoyed our time in both vessels, so it comes down to a few specific items.

On both vessels the cost per night included gratuities, drink package, and wi-fi.

The wi-fi was very good on both vessels and as cruise lines are required to sell their cruises inclusive of gratuities if the cruise starts and ends in Australia – they were equal.
If a cruise starts in Australia and ends in Singapore the gratuities are shown separate, and you can have certain amount, or all of the gratuities removed if you wish once you are on the ship. Some people prefer to tip individuals for good service.   

The drinks package is a problem for me – I am happy to pay for my drink package, by doing so I am required to pay the same amount for Maureen who does not drink alcohol. 
In both recent cruises the drink package was included in the cost and both cruises had a maximum cost of $12 per drink.
People could pay more to have access to more expensive drinks – the next level on Majestic would increase the $12 value to $22 AUD per drink. 
The Majestic Princess charged any excess over the $12 value in Australian dollars, but Celebrity Eclipse charged the excess in US dollars.
I was asked by a friend for the cost of a bottle of beer on Majestic Princess if I wished to forgo the drinks package and pay for individual drinks – on the Majestic it was AUD $ 8.75, (listed on the Majestic bar menu) I then compared this to the Celebrity Eclipse bar menu 

the picture is not very clear but for the same beer Little Creatures Pale Ale, was $15, but not AUD but USD, which at today’s rate of exchange equals  AUD $22.30 a bottle.
The same beer when bought in Sydney costs me $2.75 each if I buy by a case of twenty-four.

Excuse the pun but this leaves a bad taste in the mouth- but it does encourage people to buy the drinks package.
Both vessels had a maximum of 15 alcoholic drinks in a 24 hour period (midnight to midnight) – which is not a worry because I could not drink that amount even when I was younger.

Once we booked Celebrity Eclipse, we were allocated USD $200 per cabin, which could be spent on anything onboard or excursions, but if not used would be lost. It is not difficult to spend USD$200 even though we could not buy duty free because we were on a domestic cruise.  

In conclusion I think I would pick Princess Cruises over Celebrity Cruises due to the cabin size, the overall ambiance, and that everything is priced in Australian dollars, particularly when on a domestic Australian cruise.

But – there is always a but, – in April we will be cruising in Celebrity Eclipse for a thirteen-night cruise to Fiji & Tong, so much for my conclusion.      


Fjords or Fiordland

which ever way we spell the name they hold a fascination of beauty.

Our first view of the fiords not long after sunrise – taken from our balcony.

We had passed through the Foveaux Strait, which separates Stewart Is. from the South Island of New Zealand.
The southern seaport of the South Is. is a town called Bluff, which, when I was at sea I visited in the 1960’s.
It is known for the wind. The ship in which I sailed was unable to unload cargo because the wind was so strong that it was considered too dangerous to work the derricks. It was four days before the wind eased enough for us to unload. This was before containerisation.
If you left Bluff, it did not matter which way you went, east or west, you were making your way back to London.


The top map gives you an idea of the overall area and I have blown up the Dusky Sound area and marked the track of our cruise.

and of course, we had dolphin visitors who liked to play in our small bow wave.

The main island on our port side is Resolution Island, which was named after Captain Cook’s vessel when he visited the area on his second voyage in March 1773. 


Exit gap ahead.

After a couple of hours sailing through Dusky Sound and Breaksea Sound we entered the Tasman Sea and sailed north to Doubtful Sound.

The Tasman Sea was kind to us as we sailed north to Doubtful Sound. 

We were not the only vessel interested in Doubtful Sound.

it didn’t matter where you looked there was a photo opportunity.

We exited Doubtful Sound via Thompson Sound and the island on our port side as we left the area was Secretary Island, which is uninhabited and is one of the finest conservation islands in New Zealand. All introduced animals have been removed making it a pest free island and only the native animals & plants have been allowed free range.

                                                          Secretary Island.

Our final Fiord was Milford Sound – fortunately we had visited Milford Sound in a previous cruise, when I managed to take some photographs.

Our arrival at the entrance to the Sound was nearly 5.00 pm which clashed with getting ready for dinner and we left Milford Sound around 6.30 pm, which was during during dinner – talk about timetables clashing!

Milford Sound February 2017 – 

rolling mist and waterfalls wherever one looked.

The 2023 visit was a beautiful day and dry, but I did not see any waterfalls or rolling mist in any of the Sounds.

I f you ever have the chance to visit Milford Sound jump at the chance – a Sound that I found more interesting than Doubtful Sound, but Dusky Sound has a charm that is different to Milford Sound. If you do go make sure you book a late evening meal. 

Once in the Tasman Sea again it was full ahead for Sydney and the end of the cruise.      











Towards the end

Our next port was Lyttleton, the gateway to Christchurch.

Part of Lyttleton harbour

We had visited Christchurch on our last trip via Akaroa, because Lyttleton port was still out of action due to the earthquake.
When we booked this cruise we were hoping that we would visit Christchurch via Akaroa again because during our last visit Akaroa was just a transit place to board the coach for Christchurch.
Akaroa looked an interesting place with the French influence due to Jean Langlois buying land from twelve local Maori Chiefs. Langlois planned to resell the land to French settlers back in France.

The original name of Lyttleton was Port Cooper after Daniel Cooper (1785-1853) from Bolton in Lancashire UK who was convicted at Chester for theft. He was transported for life and became a very successful businessman. His life story reads like a novel.
Later Lyttleton became known as Port Victoria until 1858 when it was formalised by the Governor as Lyttleton, after George William Lyttleton.

Map of Lyttleton in 1849

Lyttleton’s main shopping street (London Street)

Because we had seen Christchurch Maureen wanted to see more of Lyttleton, the last time I visited Lyttleton was in the 1960’s and it did not look like it had changed all that much, except for the closure of a few pubs due to the earthquake.

                                                       London Street

There were quite a few passengers from the Majestic Princess who had the same idea, so we joined the queue for the local shuttle bus rather than the Christchurch shuttle. At least the Lyttleton bus was free, and the journey was less than five minutes.

We walked the shopping street – both sides – and returned to the drop-off point.

You can see how close we were to the ship -on the left is one of the shuttle buses. 

We had hoped to walk to the Time Ball clock that had been repaired after being damaged during the earthquake.

The above shows what the Time Ball looked like before the earthquake. The whole building, including the tower, was reduced to rubble during the earthquake.

 The Time Ball had been in use since 1876 and up to 1934 was the only way mariners could check their chronometers to assist in accurate navigation.
In 1934 the time ball was replaced by radio signals. 
After the earthquake all the stones were rescued and numbered and the tower was able to be reconstructed, but unfortunately not the original building.

                                                  The current Time Ball
The climb to the view the Time Ball was all too much for Maureen, so we made our way back to the ship. 

I was hoping to take Maureen to the Mitre Hotel, which first opened in 1849 but was destroyed by fire in 1875 and rebuilt.
In November 1910 Captain Robert Falcon Scott had his farewell dinner in the ballroom of this hotel. 

Captain Scott and his wife Kathleen aboard Terra Nova 1910.

In the 1960’s I had experienced some happy times over drinks in this hotel, so I was disappointed that the hotel was no longer in business, all due to the earthquake.  

The last I heard was that the owners were asking for permission to knock the place down due to the high cost of repair. 

Simple answer to a simple question – where shall we go for a drink before lunch, the Mitre Hotel is closed so we will try the Majestic.

The view was pleasant, and lunch was ready when we wanted it . . . 


Our next port of call was to be Port Chalmers for Dunedin – once again we had visited Dunedin on our last visit and decided not to repeat the experience, because last time it rained, and the forecast for our visit was again, rain.

I took the above as we approached Port Chalmers – dramatic & beautiful, but not site seeing weather.

It was raining when we arrived in Port Chalmers. We, (as did many others), stayed on board, warm and dry.   

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