Hmmm, red snapper mojito or beef tartare? Yoga or b-ball? Movie or massage? Chris Reed faces a cruiser's hard decisions.
First-time cruiser? Walk this way.
To the top deck to sip Champagne as you slip beneath Sydney Harbour Bridge and watch the Opera House go by. Out through the Heads and a sharp right turn for Tasmania as night kicks in. Silver service dinner. Fine wines. Gin and tonic. Feeling supersonic.
With capacity for about 2000 passengers, 900 crew, and almost a dozen decks, the Sea Princess is a beast of a boat (although there are bigger). It's 261m long (more than two-and-a-half rugby fields) and has almost 1000 staterooms, about a third with private outside balconies.
There are four pools, almost a dozen places to eat, two main show lounges and seven other lounges and bars. They show movies under the stars on a giant screen and there are activities for all ages.
I was with journalists and journalists always get treated well (at least on these kinds of trips). But over the course of the six-night cruise, and regardless of whether I was protected by the press pack, the staff provided nothing but exemplary customer service - and, believe me, I've high standards in that area. The other passengers I spoke to were equally complimentary.
We got tours of the bridge, under the command of a delightfully forthright Captain William Kent, and the galley, courtesy of Italian executive chef Antonio Cortese and maitre d'hotel Neville Saldanha.
As we left the galley, after sampling such delights as beef tartare on brioche and red snapper mojito (yum), there was a sign, at eye level and directed at staff rather than travel writers: Remember, it said, be happy, you're always on show (or words to that effect). Great customer service, see.
On an average day, the galley prepares 1700 fish, 630kg of poultry, 770kg of beef, 720kg of salad, 220kg of pasta and much, much more.
Passengers (and hopefully crew) munch through 180kg of butter and, more healthily, 2700kg of fresh fruit. They chug back 1700 litres of coffee. I was frightened to ask about the wine.
The aforementioned dishes, just two of the four we consumed in the galley, were euphemistically described as amuse bouche. I was quite full. There were several courses to come in our invite-only investigation of the culinary delights on board.
The twice-baked goat's cheese souffle rose perfectly; the risotto, prepared before us by Chef Cortese, dense with flavour. Then there was the veal. And the tiramisu. And the cheese. All matched with wine.
Although a special treat for the journos, the feast was a fine showcase for the food on board. We ate well every night, in the silver service Rigoletto Dining Room, the Sterling Steakhouse and Verdi's pizza joint. Breakfasts were table service or in the buffet upstairs. All of it was superb; all of it, bar the odd small surcharge, included in the price.
But if you do the crime, you've got to do the time and I worked some of it off in the well-appointed gym and at yoga classes. (Or was it Pilates? Can't tell the difference. It all hurts.) I swam and I had a massage. (Hot stones. Sounds painful. Felt amazing.) I even swung a golf club for the first time in years and had a bash at basketball on the top deck.
If that sounds like too much exertion, there are quizzes, talks, all manner of things to get your mind working rather than your body. And the sanctuary of the stateroom and the rolling, roiling waves.
And then another plate, another glass.
I'd intended to rise at 5am to watch us re-enter Sydney Harbour, go back under the bridge and berth. I woke up dockside. It would have been rude to spoil the last night.
Getting there: Qantas flies daily from Auckland to Sydney.
The writer cruised to Tasmania and back, courtesy of Princess Cruises.