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Compare: 12 Cruise Ships in New Zealand

Tiana Templeman

Oct 10, 2019

Read time
5 min read

New Zealand is home to towering mountains, award-winning wineries, adrenaline-pumping activities and cultural experiences. With more than a dozen mainstream ships plying New Zealand's waters from October to April, passengers certainly have a lot of choice.

This chart features a representative from the major lines, including Holland America, Princess, Royal Caribbean, Carnival, Celebrity, Regent Seven Seas, Oceania, Crystal, Silversea, P&O and Seabourn. Each of the 12 ships caters to a different type of traveller. Families on a budget might find the most 'bang for their buck' onboard Carnival Legend, while couples looking to splurge can pamper themselves with Crystal Symphony's lavish suites and all-inclusive fine dining.

Familiarise yourself with the different itineraries and exclusive New Zealand offerings to determine which cruise is best for you.

On This Page

1. Majestic Princess

Princess Cruises' Majestic Princess offers a fresh take on 'The Love Boat' line. Fleetwide staples such as Movies Under the Stars and a partnership with the Discovery Channel, which offers a slew of activities for adults and kids alike, are paired with exciting new features such as six private karaoke suites, a fully-equipped TV studio and a glass walkway that suspends passengers over the ocean. All outside cabins have balconies so you can take full advantage of New Zealand's stunning scenery.


  • Homeport: Sydney

  • Ports: Wellington, Akaroa, Fiordland National Park (scenic cruising), Dunedin, Bay of Islands, Auckland, Tauranga

NZ Exclusives

  • Visit a Maori village where geothermal resources are used to cook, bathe and heat homes

  • Learn the haka onboard at a complimentary lesson

  • Behind-the-scenes tour at Te Papa with a Maori guide

Ship Wows

  • The SeaWalk, a dramatic over-the-ocean glass walkway, which is the first of its kind at sea

  • Watch fountains dance at the Watercolour Fantasy Show. Chic Hollywood Pool Club offers all-weather swimming

2. Noordam

You won't find any rock climbing walls or quirky pool games on Holland America's refurbished Noordam, which prides itself on dining and a relaxed, traditional cruising experience. Service and food quality in the complimentary main dining room are top notch, but for-a-fee restaurants such as Pinnacle Grill (which now features a Sel de Mer seafood pop-up venue once per week) are good for a romantic dinner. The ship tends to appeal to a more mature crowd, though you will see more families and multigenerational groups on New Zealand cruises, especially during school holidays.


  • Homeport: Sydney

  • Ports: Wellington, Akaroa, Fiordland National Park (scenic cruising), Dunedin, Bay of Islands, Auckland, Tauranga, Picton

NZ Exclusives

  • Experience a traditional Maori welcome

  • Play ancient Maori games that were once used to improve the hand-eye coordination needed for hand-to-hand battle

  • Expert commentary is provided as the ship sails through Milford Sound

Ship Wows

  • Tap your feet or dance the night away at B.B. King's Blues Club.

  • Enjoy a singalong at the popular piano bar

  • Main pool has a retractable roof for inclement weather

3. Norwegian Jewel

Norwegian Jewel offers 10 free and for-a-fee eateries, almost a dozen bars and lounges and a range of accommodation options -- from inside cabins to suites in The Haven, the line's signature 'gated community'. If you love singing, this 2,376-passenger ship does not disappoint with a karaoke lounge featuring mood lighting and three private karaoke rooms. The lively dance floor in the Spinnaker Lounge features everything from ballroom and line dancing to pulse-pounding dance music.


  • Homeport: Sydney

  • Ports: Wellington, Akaroa, Fiordland National Park (scenic cruising), Dunedin, Napier, Bay of Islands, Auckland, Tauranga, Picton Golf driving while you enjoy the spectacular scenery.

NZ Exclusives

  • Wine tasting tour that also visits a local's home.

  • Spot mighty albatross in the wild at the Royal Albatross Centre.

Ship Wows

  • Entertaining acrobatic show Le Cirque Bijou

  • 4,891-square-foot, three-bed, three-bath Garden Villas

  • Circus workshop is a hit with families

4. Radiance of the Seas

With a variety of dining venues, great kids' programs and adrenaline-pumping activities, Radiance of the Seas offers Royal Caribbean's best in a more modest size, compared to its bigger megaliners. This 2,112-passenger ship features the line's much-loved Italian restaurant, Giovanni's Table, as well as Izumi for Japanese cuisine, an outdoor movie screen, rock climbing wall and a nursery for babies and toddlers. Passengers range from young couples and singles to families and active retirees.


  • Homeports: Sydney and Auckland

  • Ports: Wellington, Akaroa, Fiordland National Park (scenic cruising), Dunedin, Bay of Islands, Auckland, Tauranga, Picton

NZ Exclusives

  • Swim with wild dolphins in Akaroa

  • Ride the spectacular TranzAlpine Railway

  • Visit Manupirua Beach, which has warm thermal pools

Ship Wows

  • All-weather, indoor, adults-only pool

  • Activities include a rock climbing wall and mini-golf

  • Exterior glass elevators have great views

5. Celebrity Solstice

Celebrity Solstice has one of the best interior architecture designs at sea. While the ship's passenger-to-space ratio is standard for the industry, the ship never feels crowded. Celebrity is known for its fabulous dining and bars, but perhaps the most unique feature is the Lawn Club with a half-acre of real grass on the top deck offering some of the best views onboard in a fun, relaxed atmosphere. The space includes games such as bocce and mini-golf, and is perfect for soaking up the sun when the weather permits. Celebrity typically attracts sophisticated young adult and middle-aged couples, though you'll notice more families during school holidays.


  • Homeports: Sydney and Auckland

  • Ports: Wellington, Akaroa, Fiordland National Park (scenic cruising), Dunedin, Bay of Islands, Auckland, Tauranga, Picton

NZ Exclusives

  • Naturalist provides expert commentary as the ship sails through Milford Sound

  • Destination lecturers give talks in the main theatre

  • White water rafting down a Grade 5 waterfall

Ship Wows

  • 'A Taste of Film', which pairs a foodie-themed movie with delicious culinary bites

  • Watch artists at work at the Hot Glass Show on the top deck

  • The Alcove's private cabanas are ideal for taking in the view

6. Carnival Spirit

Full of Carnival's Fun Ship touches like the Camp Ocean kids' club and the Green Thunder water slide, [Carnival Spirit (/reviews/review.cfm?ShipID=176) is great value for families on a budget. The 2,124-passenger ship offers a variety of free restaurants, activities and entertainment. Munch on celebrity chef Guy Fieri's famous burgers or a burrito from BlueIguana Cantina for no extra charge. Competitive families also will enjoy Hasbro, the Game Show, during which groups can compete against each other in a series of games for a chance to win prizes.


  • Homeports: Sydney and Melbourne

  • Ports: Wellington, Akaroa, Fiordland National Park (scenic cruising), Dunedin, Napier, Auckland, Tauranga, Picton

NZ Exclusives

  • Wine tasting on Waiheke Island

  • Active shore excursions aimed at younger travellers

  • One of the few ships offering a trip to Matiu Somes Island

Ship Wows

  • Adults-only Serenity hot tubs are perfect for soaking up views

  • Seuss at Sea program for kids with parade, story time

  • One of the few Carnival ships to offer Bonsai Sushi

7. Regent Seven Seas Voyager

Every cabin on the 700-passenger Voyager is a suite with a balcony. The upshot: this is an all-inclusive luxury ship attracting both mature couples and affluent families. Passengers shell out up front, but enjoy included amenities such as: a pre-cruise luxury hotel stay; shore excursions; specialty restaurants; alcoholic beverages; and gratuities.


  • Homeports: Sydney and Auckland

  • Ports: Wellington, Akaroa, Fiordland National Park (scenic cruising), Bay of Islands, Dunedin, Napier, Auckland, Tauranga

NZ Exclusives

  • Boarding for Taieri Gorge Railway is available shipside

  • Expert lecturers on subjects such as the local geology

  • Unlimited free shore excursions allow for in-depth exploring

Ship Wows

  • 1 to 1.6 passenger-to-crew ratio means more personalised service

  • Dining options include steakhouse and French restaurant

  • Free unlimited Wi-Fi

8. Oceania Regatta

Oceania prides itself on fine dining and an upscale yet comfortable ambiance -- and Regatta is no exception. The 684-passenger ship features the creations of celebrity chef Jacques Pepin in the main dining room and two surcharge-free specialty restaurants. No formal nights mean the pressure to dress up for dinner is dictated by fellow passengers, not the cruise line. Regatta offers an experience that's close to luxury without being all-inclusive or priced sky-high. Passengers tend to be mature and well-travelled.


  • Homeports: Sydney and Auckland

  • Ports: Wellington, Akaroa, Fiordland National Park (scenic cruising), Christchurch, Bay of Islands, Dunedin, Napier, Tauranga, Picton

NZ Exclusives

  • Guest speakers give lectures on history, culture and nature

  • Visit Waitangi Treaty House, where New Zealand's founding document was signed

  • Enjoy a mud bath and traditional hangi at Hells Gate thermal park

Ship Wows

  • Spa run by award-winning Canyon Ranch

  • Range of cabins, from cosy insides to opulent Owner's Suites

  • Afternoon tea with a string quartet is a real treat

9. Queen Elizabeth

Cruising in New Zealand with Cunard is a royal affair on the 2,081 passenger Queen Elizabeth, with New Zealand voyages of up to 14 days available during the ship’s season Down Under. Traditions such as different restaurants for different classes of passengers, set dining times and high tea served by white-gloved waiters hark back to the Golden Age of cruising.


  • Homeports: Adelaide, Melbourne and Auckland

  • Ports: Auckland, Bay of Islands, Tauranga, Wellington, Christchurch, Dunedin, Fiordland National Park

NZ Exclusives

  • See a 1,400 year old kauri tree known as ‘God of the Forest’

  • Swim with dolphins in the Bay of Islands

  • Soak or spa in natural hot springs at Rotorua

Ship Wows

  • Old-style glamour at elegant formal nights

  • Soaking in the thermal pool in the aptly named Royal Spa

  • Daily traditional afternoon tea in the Queens Room, accompanied by a harpist

10. Pacific Dawn

With a maximum of 1,546 passengers, this ship offers a more intimate mainstream New Zealand cruise experience than most other lines. Plenty of fun can be found at the P&O Edge Adventure Park and at the ship's lively bars, especially after the sun goes down. Free dining options abound but specialty restaurant Salt Grill by Luke Mangan is worth the splurge. Pacific Dawn is a hit with cruisers of all ages who appreciate this ship's smaller size and low-key, casual vibe combined with modern Australian style.


  • Homeports: Melbourne

  • Ports: Napier, Wellington, Picton, Akaroa, Fiordland National Park (scenic cruising), Stewart Island, Dunedin, Bay of Islands.

NZ Exclusives

  • See albatross and fur seals in Dunedin

  • Active shore excursions aimed at younger travellers

  • Scenic cruising past volcanic White Island

Ship Wows

  • P&O Edge Adventure Park offers fun for young and old

  • Gatsby and Bianco theme parties on the top deck

  • Sony Virtual Reality video gaming experience for teens

11. Silver Muse

The 596-passenger Silver Muse is Silversea's newest ship. As an intimate, all-suite, all-inclusive luxury vessel, it has one of the most generous space-to-passenger ratios in the industry. There's also a crew member for every 1.3 passengers. Suites are larger than the industry norm, and bathrooms include double-basin vanities, Bvlgari amenities, full bathtubs and separate showers. Attracting mostly older adults, Muse also features high-quality dining and included extras like complimentary drinks.


  • Homeports: Sydney and Auckland

  • Ports: Fiordland National Park (scenic cruising), Christchurch, Bay of Islands, Stewart Island, Dunedin, Napier, Gisborne, Tauranga, Picton

NZ Exclusives

  • Overnight stay at beginning and end of cruise on some itineraries

  • Explorer Collection cruises feature menus curated to reflect historic expeditions

  • Speakers include noted historians, conservationists

Ship Wows

  • La Dame, the ship's Relais & Chateaux restaurant at sea

  • All accommodations are suites, most of which have balconies

  • Butler service included in every suite category

12. Seabourn Encore

Seabourn Encore offers an all-inclusive, luxury cruise experience and itineraries packed with scenic cruise areas and lesser-known ports. Even better, you don't have to worry about missing any of the views, as all the ship's cabins face the outside. Restaurants and public spaces are opulently designed, but the 600-passenger ship maintains a comfortable, country club vibe.


  • Homeports: Sydney and Auckland

  • Ports: Fiordland National Park (scenic cruising), Queen Charlotte Sound, Wellington, Akaroa, Christchurch, Stewart Island, Dunedin, Napier, Tauranga, Picton

NZ Exclusives

  • Ventures by Seabourn team lead kayak and zodiac tours

  • One of the few lines to visit Kaikoura and Charlotte Sound

  • Daily wildlife watch from the deck outside Seabourn Square

Ship Wows

  • The Retreat, a VIP area on the top deck

  • Restaurants offer dishes by Michelin-star chef Thomas Keller

  • Multiple outdoor whirlpools are perfect for enjoying the scenery

Updated October 10, 2019
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