We realise that as first time cruisers we have little to compare with this experience, but are sure that there is something to be learnt from sharing what we experienced
Our difficulty with the cruise was firstly the seniority of our fellow passengers, which was reflected in the quality and content of both the activities offered on board and the entertainment. We had a fair idea there would be few children but no idea that so many of the passengers would be over 65 years old. Any current movies were shown in the outdoor movie area, which might be fine in warm calm seas but these are not what Bass Strait and the Tasman are known! The shows were not our sort of entertainment and we knew this prior to the cruise so had no expectations of them.
Secondly, we did not enjoy the food options. The restaurant food was cleaner than that offered at Horizon Court, but there were a limited amount of vegetables served with the meal and all the food was highly salted. Again, we realise that cooking for large numbers is difficult, but we were always told that the food was great so we were very disappointed. The service was always friendly but especially in the beginning - very intrusive! We had never before encountered the "beginning cruise sales pitch" to spend even more once on board. The only food we really enjoyed were meals where we paid extra. The food then was excellent, the service polite and unobtrusive and the restaurant area quiet and peaceful.
Thirdly, we felt that while there was plenty of access around the ship and in our stateroom for a person in a wheelchair, the options for shore activities were completely limited. We had already paid for our tickets by the time this information was shared with us by our travel agent and so decided to organise our own way around the ports. This makes cruising a more limiting option when travelling, and really then the focus of the whole trip is the cruise, not the ports of call. The crew were very helpful in managing the wheelchair on and off the ship and for this we are very grateful.
We visited Auckland, Tauranga which was easily accessed on foot; Napier which had several wheelchair accessible shuttles and friendly drivers, Wellington, Akeroa which could only be accessed by tender and Dunedin which we did not visit as were ill at the time. The Fjord land area was seen from the ship
We will not rush to book a cruise in the near future at all.