I've wanted to visit New Zealand for years so this was like a dream vacation. The itinerary was okay, although I would have preferred a one-way journey from Australia to NZ so there weren't so many sea days. Those passengers who enjoy the lazy days at sea vs. sightseeing might prefer this type of round-trip itinerary.
Embarkation was a breeze. We arrived early, straight from the airport and jet-lagged, so it was a relief that we had only a brief wait before we were aboard. It was nice that they were serving a buffet lunch, although the food was so disappointing we stuck to the main dining room thereafter for lunches any time it was open.
The ship is beautiful and well laid out, so it was easy to find everything.
Our stateroom 8066 was conveniently located and quiet, with no noise reaching it from the Centrum. On the plus side, the beds were very comfy, the linens soft, and although the pillows are rather hard I had no trouble sleeping. There's only one closet but even so there is plenty of storage space (closet, drawers, shelves, cupboards), and plenty of hangers. The balcony was sheltered from the winds, so we were able to eat breakfast on the balcony, or sit and read, when it was too windy to do so up on deck.
The biggest negative: the toilets don't work well!! We had to call for a plumber at least a half dozen, maybe even 8 times. At no time did we get any type of apology or even acknowledgement from RC about the inconvenience. And the hallway sometimes had a foul odor, which was so unpleasant, although thank goodness our stateroom didn't.
The shower is small, although there was good water pressure, thank goodness. There's a clothesline in the shower to hang wet bathing suits (or handwashed items) but no heat light and no exhaust fan.
There are no outlets near the bed which is so annoying for charging ereaders while reading in bed, or using a plugged-in laptop. There are not enough outlets period, so it took constant planning to keep all our various devices charged (2 phones, 2 cameras, 2 ereaders and a laptop).
This was my first time cruising with RC. I've cruised with 8 other lines, most recently on Holland America, and there were many little things that I missed and found disappointing.
There is no DVD player in the room, something my daughter really missed. She's used to checking out DVDs from cruise ship libraries and enjoying a movie in the room before going to bed, and I found the $$ charged for watching a movie to be too high. In this and many other ways I felt nickel and dimed.
There are no bathrobes.
There are no nice toiletries provided.
There are no chocolates placed on the pillows at night.
Most of the wait staff in the restaurants were very friendly, and our stateroom steward was lovely.
We enjoyed the meals in the main dining room, and the lunches there were terrific, with a wonderful salad bar. We had some breakfasts in our room and some in the buffett, which has nice English sausages but terrible scrambled eggs -- opt for freshly made omelets instead.
Coffee was sometimes almost drinkable in the main dining room, but always tasted like sludge in the buffet. The tea was pathetic too, so it was either pay for pricey coffee or go without. I'm not even fussy about coffee, but it was truly appalling. Same with the orange juice -- the complimentary OJ is so watered down, you can only get a decent glass of juice if you are willing to fork out again for the fresh-squeezed.
My daughter had just turned 18 and was distraught that she wasn't allowed to participate in any teen events, in fact they wouldn't even let her in the room, and there were no organized events for older teens/college age kids. So for her it was the loneliest of all the cruises she's been on with me, as she had no organized way to make friends and had to hang out with her mom all the time.
The airport and hotel transfers with RC were great, very convenient, clean cars, timely pickups.
We did the post-cruise stay at Sheraton on the Park, and I highly recommend this hotel.
The best shore excursion is the overnight to Queenstown. Not to be missed!