Stayed at Shangri-la Sydney the night before cruising. A beautiful hotel especially the Horizon Club rooms , on high floors with great views of the harbour , Opera House and the CBD.Only a $13 taxi ride from the hotel to Wharf 5 Barangaroo.
Embarkation was at 1 pm for Riviera Deck . Arrived at large tent used as the terminal building. Handed over the large bags and was directed to the check in kiosks. Check in was fast and cruise cards and numbered embarkation ticket issued promptly. Embarkation ticket was number 16 , entry gate showed now boarding number 11. That gave us time to look around the terminal , lost count of the number of push walkers and wheelchairs. The friends we were travelling with also commented on the apparent average age of our fellow cruisers.
It took just on 1 hour to board the ship from receiving our embarkation ticket number. The actual passing through immigration , quarantine etc was swift and well organised.
We went up to our cabin , met Christopher the room steward , had a quick look at the room then went for a walk around the lounges etc.When we returned to our cabin , our bags had been delivered so unpacking was the next chore.
I discovered my reading glasses had come apart in my hand luggage. I asked Christopher where could i get them fixed , he said leave them with me and he had them repaired by the time the Life Jacket drill was over.
Sailaway was fun with cocktails and cameras in hand for the beautiful trip under the Harbour Bridge and past the Opera House.
Food on the ship was good at each venue we tried.
We found the meals in the Rigoletto dining room , second sitting 7.45pm, were somewhat rushed but each meal had so many choices it was hard to pick one dish over another.
Our favourite was The Steakhouse , with a cover charge of $20pp, great service , peaceful and steaks big enough to trip over !
The pizzeria was also very good for lunch and for dinner it had an expanded menu.
The bars were all very good with fast friendly service.
Our favourite was the Wheelhouse bar which has comfy lounges and beautiful wood surrounds.
Live music was a hit and miss for us. Our favourite was Allan and La Donna who , i agree are probably an acquired taste, but lots of fun nonetheless.
The only thing we found uncomfortable was the temperature of the air con in the common areas , way too hot for our liking , even stuffy we thought.Although there are plenty of places to poke your head out doors if you wish.
Port reviews come next apparently so I will conclude this part with disembarkation.
Most of the ports are not listed i find so, our favourites were the Hawkes Bay wine and cheese tour in Napier, the city drive and Lanarch Castle tour in Dunedin,the Storm coast drive in Wellington, the Tauranga City Drive , Elms Mission and Kiwi 360 in Tauranga naturally enough !
The cruise day through Fiordland finishing with the cruise through Milford Sound left us speechless apart from the odd " awesome" !
Well worth getting off the ship , weather permitting , its a lovely country for sightseeing.
We asked for and received 7.30am luggage tags , met in the Vista lounge at 7.20 am and were sitting back in the big tent within 10 minutes WOW.