13 Auckland Cruises for the Disabled Cruise Reviews

This was our second cruise on Celebrity Solstice and found it most enjoyable with no complaints bar two which I will go into later. Embarkation a breeze. Just board when you want, Dont follow their advisory boarding times. Their a pain if ... Read More
This was our second cruise on Celebrity Solstice and found it most enjoyable with no complaints bar two which I will go into later. Embarkation a breeze. Just board when you want, Dont follow their advisory boarding times. Their a pain if you get a late time. They dont hassle if you turn up early. Everyone was very pleasant. Complaing ONE/ Boat drill was a real pain. They made us stand in a small atrium with virtually no seating so everybody had to stand for 20 minutes so of course we couldnt see the demonstration talk come video. I eventually had to sit down on the floor due to aching back. Their were over 2800 passengers and for some reason lots of asians, americans, canadians british etc.Lots of pushing for drinks package for first couple of days, Got a bit annoying Our cabin 2507 was balcony and very spacious. Bed was great. Good sized bathroom, No complaints there. Cabin steward Rhonda was very nice and polite. Cabin electricity suitable for Aussie appliances but you will need American or British electrical plug adaptor. Ship is huge but easily naviable. Plenty of elevators. Lots of public lounges and other spaces to find quite spot for some quiet time. Ship is gears to mature passengers, not a lot for kids and hardly any at all/ Numerous places to eat. Their is set dinning or select dinning. We choose select dinning. You have to ring them to book time. You can choose size of table from two to eight people. Waiters effecient and ;polite. Their are a number of PAY restaurants. We tried the Tuscan grill the first night and not greatly impressed. We found the main dining room food just as good We found the entire crew very polite and effecient. Tables are cleared immediately. Their is no compulsory tipping but please tip them. These guys work long hours every day for upto 7 months No complaints about crew at all. Two pools. One outside. One inside. Both with spas. Two of the spas have small hoists to help disabled people into them. This ship is disabled friendly. All doors including toilets open automatically [except cabin door] In port ramps are used, no stairs. Staff will help you if required. Quite a few electricl wheelchair people on board. Tendering is not very disabled friendly. You may miss out. Lots of entertainment. I think their were four different groups playing throughout the ship during the day and evening. A lot of the daytime activities were designed to seperate you from your money! The jogging track was only 200 metres round and crowded which was a pain. Good gym if your into that. Smallish library, pretty useless really. The Oceanview buffet is where you have breakfast, lunch and dinner if you want. Multiple stations have various menus such as Asian. Western, Salads. Bread, Desserts. Carvery etc. Except for the Carvery its all self serve. I found some of the meats dry and tough. The Carvery was usually ok. Some desserts were dry as well. It can get very crowded and noisey in this place. We always found a spot out the back deck but can get breezey and cold sometimes. Disembarkation good as we were able to take all our luggage of with us and not wait for them to unload so you can get off immediately. Complaint TWO. Piped music is played throughout most of the public areas. I found this most annoying, In particuar the music at the Oceanview cafe was atrocious and sometimes sounded like a strangling cat. This ship is geared to the mature and seniors but yet the piped music to the oceanview and coffee shop was geared to the young set of which their were hardly any. Both my wife and I couldnt stand it and would eat and get out as quickly as possible. We had this problem last cruise to which I complained but apparently fell on death ears. Now for something really important HYGEINE. Last time on this ship I got the dreaded Noro virus. Confined to cabin for two days and missed a good port. This time we took no chances. Upon entering our room we used sanitised wipes to clean everything. Door handles. Taps, Toilet, TV remote, phone etc/ We did this every couple of days as the cabin attendent cleans 15 rooms so germ transfer is a problem. When you enter any eatery you must use the hand wash dispenser but I noticed some people sneak in without doing so. The most contaminated implement are the food thongs. We used hand wipes after useing them. Also take my advice and do the following. Under no circumstances unless necessary touch handrails or bannisters. Use your knuckle to touch elevator buttons. Even clean your seacard every couple of days. Countless waiters touch them. You may think Im paranoid but I am an ex paramedic and know how easy it is to get contaminated and having the noro virus once was enough for me/ I would have given this ship five stars except for the two complaints noted. Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
Chose this cruise because it was hubby’s bucket list trip to go to Australia and I wanted to go to NZ. Solstice is showing her age a bit...things are just looking a little worn...some holes in our cabin drapes, chairs in the public ... Read More
Chose this cruise because it was hubby’s bucket list trip to go to Australia and I wanted to go to NZ. Solstice is showing her age a bit...things are just looking a little worn...some holes in our cabin drapes, chairs in the public areas are a worn...that type of thing. If you look passed all those types of things then Solstice is still a beautiful ship. Food this time out for me was a bit of a disappointment. Had to send one dinner in the MDR back all together. There was a good mix of choices. They were free with the lobster on the night they served it which hubby was quite happy with. Staff were marvellous, Joaquim our cabin attendant was very good with our request to get the night light in the bathroom fixed and sorting out a different appie plate for us in the afternoon. He was very helpful and pleasant and attentive to all our needs. Martini Bar staff were lovely too. Thank you Alin! MDR staff were wonderful although I gave them such a bad tim*e trying to get them to stop calling me madam...had fun though. Entertainment wasn’t an attraction for us...we previewed the early show after dinner to see if it was something we wanted to see. Over a 16 night sailing I think we only took in maybe 4 shows. There were special ABBA or Queen music nights in Sky Lounge we attended instead. Ports were all good. Excursions for the most part were good. Some narratives were better than others. The Adelaide excursion we went on the commentator sort of stammered and repeated himself. The sound system on the bus wasn’t working right or he wasn’t talking loud enough but half the bus couldn’t hear him. I was quite surprised by the number of people with walking/travelling aides on this cruise. I know I am not a spring chicken but I found it frustrating trying to move freely sometimes because of the number of people with scooters etc. I understand now that the longer the cruise the more chance you have of that happening. So if you are young and want more action.....think on. Read Less
Sail Date February 2019
This cruise was our 'move-over' cruise from 2016, so we were upgraded to a Club Class Mini Suite. We combined this with the New Year cruise so had 25 days aboard the Majestic! We have been on many New Zealand Australia ... Read More
This cruise was our 'move-over' cruise from 2016, so we were upgraded to a Club Class Mini Suite. We combined this with the New Year cruise so had 25 days aboard the Majestic! We have been on many New Zealand Australia cruises, so for us the ship was the destination. We also had the pleasure of cruising with friends we met on the Diamond in 2010, plus introduce another friend to the pleasure of cruising. Embarkation was easy, although dropping off the luggage in the morning was a mission due to the traffic on the wharf. Also dropped off our Aussie friends at the same time (11am), who boarded and they were in their cabin before DH got home (12 kms away!) When we embarked it was fast and smooth. Ship: Lovely new ship with a slightly weird layout due to being configured to the Chinese Market. Same layout as Royal and Regal but some areas used differently. Found it easy to get our bearings and the electronic signage all over the ship was great. Vines became our pre-dinner hangout (with tapas provided) and Crooners our after dinner spot, and before and after shows as it was adjacent to the lower access to the Princess Theatre. TIP: wheelchair and walker users - there are areas on the lower level of the Theatre where you could sit and be in close proximity to the stage, which was wonderful. Cabin B433 - Accessible Club Class Mini Suite Lovely large cabin with angled balcony which was sheltered because of the forward decks being further out. Heaps of space and heaps of storage. Has a pullman bed and large pull out sofa (great for a family of four). Hardly saw the steward and the service did not seem to be any more than a standard cabin. Dining: Dined a couple of times in Club Class and then gave up as no one seemed to share and our friends were Anytime Dining, so joined them instead. BUT dined there each day for breaststroke as there was always a queue and we could go straight in without waiting. Service was amazing. Menu no different to the other MDRs. Entertainment: Great shows and entertainers. Went to all but a few, usually to the late show as it was easier and less crowded. Crooners and Vines: Barman were fantastic - great service and great fun. Crown Grill - wouldn't bother again as the atmosphere was missing and frankly the meal no better than the MDR La Mer - wonderful (try and get a window seat). Food amazing and so was the service. Our gluten free friend was well catered for. Alfredos - great Pizza and fantastic desserts. Sometimes there was a queue and a wait time on the pizza but that was no biggie. Read Less
Sail Date December 2018
I took 18 elderly(70 up to 98) folk on the 4 day cruise as a real treat from our club. We choose the one that just went to sea as a lot had no passports and most importantly once on board it was safer than going to ports as 4 were on ... Read More
I took 18 elderly(70 up to 98) folk on the 4 day cruise as a real treat from our club. We choose the one that just went to sea as a lot had no passports and most importantly once on board it was safer than going to ports as 4 were on walkers. I found the staff were so helpful and pleasant BUT the ship was terrible. 1.No toilets on reception floor 5 th deck. 2.Shampoo ect in cabin were in big containers and some folk could not handle using them. 3.The food in the Waterfront restaurant was not pleasant mostly pasta last night I purchased a nice steak for dinner out of desparation. The selection (3) of food on the menu I felt was poor. 4.The plantation room food set up was terrible it was risky for the elderly as it is set up like a food stall area and you have to move from one to another to see selection and then stand in line to be served with children running around and folk dropping food fighting for this and that it is the worst I have ever seen. They only had one area to get it from. All other ships I have been on have had 2 smorgesboard areas to get your food from. By the time you got your food it was cold but the time you got back. I saw not trays either to carry your lunch back on and one place for utentsils. 5. There was no fresh fruit ie apples ,bananas .watermelon ect ect at all on board. I got the feeling this is a training ship as it was shabby rust appearing in places the showers ect. Though it was a great experiance for the folk that went I advise elderly to check the ships out before they go on and the Jewel give it a wide berth. P.S. Entertainment was wonderfull until the last night when a comedian it was the most disgusting performance of filth I have had to endure on any cruise I have been on the the ladies did not like it one bit the F & C words plus all the others and many groups of folk got up and left which he ridiculed it was the most discusting show I have ever had to sit through. God knows what the comedy cruise is like and glad we weren't on it. Read Less
Sail Date May 2018
Chose this cruise because of a 2 for 1 deal and I'm glad I didn't pay full price! It was my first cruise but I received no help or direction from staff during embarking the ship. We had to find our own way around. The ship was ... Read More
Chose this cruise because of a 2 for 1 deal and I'm glad I didn't pay full price! It was my first cruise but I received no help or direction from staff during embarking the ship. We had to find our own way around. The ship was old and slow. Captain announcements dragged on for ages and interrupted conversations, relaxation and sleep. Cabins were ok if you didn't want to spend any time in them otherwise they were stuffy as air conditioning didn't seem to work. Dining was limited as seating wasn't great and service from kitchen was slow. Some wait staff were great but majority useless. Very little entertainment on board and activities were age appropriate so not suitable. Singles and solos get togethers were crammed with couples and families. Service was generally non-existent. Staff were bored and paid little attention to guests. Port time were too limiting and shore excursions overcrowded and time consuming. Read Less
Sail Date February 2018
Chose the cruise because of its Itinerary. Celebrity Sandards have fallen very quickly if this ship is an indication of Fleet wide. Library had no more than 200 books most of which were in German. Food Quality and Quantity have also ... Read More
Chose the cruise because of its Itinerary. Celebrity Sandards have fallen very quickly if this ship is an indication of Fleet wide. Library had no more than 200 books most of which were in German. Food Quality and Quantity have also fallen. Where we used to receive 6 shrimp in a shrimp cocktail there are now 4. One night I ordered a steak Diane and it appeared on my plate less than one quarter of an inch thick. Likewise a Salmon filet with no more than 3 bites in total. My biggest complaint however is the use of the atrium area on deck 3 and 4 for very loud activities like dance classes/exercise classes and general dance sessions. This excessive nois affects people seeking quiet enjoyment to read play games, work on the internet or just have a coffee or a drink in one of the bars. Despite numerous complaints to Cruise direcrtor staff and Celebrity Captains Club hostess it continued unabated throughout the cruise. The Observation lounge is the proper place for dancing and dance l;essons while the Gymnasium needs to be used for exxercise classes. This is the first time I have not taken advantage of the Future cruise program as I could not find anything with sufficient incentive for booking on board and after this cruise I am not sure i will be sailing Celeberity in the future. Read Less
Sail Date February 2018
We chose this cruise because of the itinerary, rating of cruise line and were told the ship had been renovated the year before. We were hugely disappointed. The Embarkation and disembarkation went smoothly, including the stops. ... Read More
We chose this cruise because of the itinerary, rating of cruise line and were told the ship had been renovated the year before. We were hugely disappointed. The Embarkation and disembarkation went smoothly, including the stops. That's where the good news ends. The staff on the ship were not well trained. The servers had these tablets they took orders on and they had pictures of all the cruisers so they could identify us but it was more of a distraction than a help because the really didn't listen to us they were more worried about writing on the tablet than listening to our orders. I think that's one reason they got everything wrong. They got it wrong nine out of ten times. Something as simple as having my cream on the table before my coffee got cold. Every morning before my coffee was poured I asked for cream for my coffee. They poured the coffee and then I asked for the cream again and then it took ten minutes for the cream to show up. This wasn't once or twice but every morning. The quality of the food was below average. We were in Australia and New Zealand and the fruit was tasteless. Nothing tasted like it should. The pastries and desserts all tasted alike. The chef did a cooking demonstration and didn't wear gloves and he was coughing all over the food. The cabin was worn out except the bathroom was very nice with two sinks and plenty of storage but we had to ask for shampoo and body lotion replacements almost like there was a shortage. The bed felt lumpy and worn to the point of needing replacement. The ship felt clean, plenty of restrooms with plenty of anti-bacterial dispensers everywhere. The entertainment was OK,not good but OK. Kirk the cruise director was excellent. The best show of the week was two nights before this ship pulled into our last stop and he did the entire show. It was the so much fun and everyone laughed and had a good time. The shore excursions were sub par as well, there was one that we all got 50% of our charge back because it was so awful. One example was Christchurch post Earthquake. They dropped us in town at some museum and told us that the bus will leave in three hours so be back by then. No map,no directions just go off. This was not even in the center of town. This was our first time on Silver Seas and will never again cruise with them. We were not alone. There were a good number of people unhappy with the ship as we were. Possibly 25% of the people. Some that had sailed with the SS previously and were upset and disappointed. When you're spending this much money you expect more Read Less
Sail Date December 2017
My partner and I love to cruise. We have travelled on most Cruise Lines at many locations all around the world. I have been in a wheelchair for 11 years. I tried cruising for the first time just over one year after becoming a quadriplegic ... Read More
My partner and I love to cruise. We have travelled on most Cruise Lines at many locations all around the world. I have been in a wheelchair for 11 years. I tried cruising for the first time just over one year after becoming a quadriplegic in 2006 and after that I was bit by the bug :). It is so much easier for my companion to pack and unpack once, as I require a lot of accessories for day to day living and lugging everything from place to place is difficult and expensive. There are few hobbies to chose from when you have little or no hand function unless they involve a small selection of sports or using a computer. The majority of activities aboard ship are accessible and it's something we enjoy on a regular basis. Cruising through Tonga or Samoa is great because we have family there! Recently, I returned to the cruise line that started it all for me, P&O Australia. Feeling amped to get aboard our ship the Pacific Pearl in Auckland for a return 10 day Pacific Island cruise with a very similar itinery to my very first cruise aboard the Pacific Star (now Peace Boat 35000 tonnes) and reminisce on how it all started. We took along another couple of friends from Germany who had a separate cabin on another deck. We met them on a previous cruise and have remained close friends. Ours was a large accessible oceanview stateroom. We were surprised by the number of children onboard, as it was not school holidays. Out of my total 23 sailings, little was I to know that this would be the worst cruise I have taken so far. I wasn't going in with huge expectations of grandeur, but I expect a clean ship! She was launched in 1989 and has sailed for many different brands, had many refits and alterations throughout her long career. Early next year she is due to move on to Cruise & Maritime Voyages in the UK. Previously P&O UK's Arcadia, she is a nice mid sized, well designed and laid out vessel. The interior design is quite hotchpotch, lacking uniformity. It seemed like the only decor that matched was the towels. Carrying a full compliment of passengers we were a crowded bunch. Our stateroom had been fairly recently re carpeted, yet it was literally rotting. The lights were full of dust. In our washroom, the silicon sealant that had been roughly applied was moldy as well as the new carpet and the air conditioning vent was filthy! I wasn't about to go charging off and making a complaint because I know how this industry works and all I would do is cost our poor cabin attendant his job. Signs of neglect were evident all over the ship and not just restricted to our stateroom. Mainly cleanliness. I understand it's not possible to keep a 27 year old ship absolutely spotless, but she is showing signs of neglect and poor housekeeping management. Accessibly was poor. The swimming pools had no disability access and the gaming tables and the majority of the slots in the casino were also inaccessible to wheelchair users with stair access only. It was hands on from day one, serve yourself in the buffet. (which is a certain way to spread Noro virus) Every other cruise line I have travelled on serves passengers using the buffet for the first 48 hours of the voyage as a precaution. The food was average, but nothing to write home about, or here for that matter. There was even a small fire in the signature Luke Mangram dining room. It was fixed in a jiffy by the well trained crew. It's not cheap to eat there though, with extra charges all over the menu. As wheelchair travellers who cannot stand are unable to utilise tender boats, I stayed on board while my partner went ashore with our friends for a short time on the beautiful island of Va'va'u in the far north of the Tongan Islands. Unfortunately, my catheter (a little tube out my bladder) wasn't draining properly and I had to urgently visit the medical centre onboard. A blocked catheter is a medical emergency and if not dealt with immediately can cause death. I was certain it was a kinked tube but as I have no hand function it was too difficult for me to rectify the problem myself. Upon arriving at the medical centre I was greeted by a locked door. Soon a nurse came and my issue was escalating. Being in tune with ones body is imperative when you are a quadriplegic. Upon explaining to the nurse what was wrong and telling her that it was a medical emergency she asked me to go and wait in a cubicle as she had to attend to a jellyfish sting. I was flabbergasted as the person hadn't even arrived and my symptoms were quckly worsening to the point where my blood pressure was easily high enough to have a stroke and rising very fast. As a result of my condition, I cannot open my hands. They are continuously balled in a fist. Fortunately I managed to wrench my trousers open and unkink the catheter hose using my wrists. This brought immediate relief and my blood pressure subsided very quickly back to normal as my bladder drained. Had the nurse bothered to read the medical emergency card I tried to show when I arrived, rather than being preoccupied with a jellyfish sting which was still coming over on a tender boat, she could have attended to me immediately and solved the problem in a few seconds. Had it not been for my own determination, some fairy dust and luck I could have died! On the third to last night of this 10 day ordeal, the shower spewed filthy water onto me while bathing, which ran straight over my catheter resulting in a urine infection. Fortunately I always travel prepared with antibiotics in case an infection occurs. The Senior doctor called our room and wanted me to come down and meet with him to discuss what happened after I reported the incident to the Front Desk but by this time it was aĺl I could take. I huddled in bed, hoping the antibiotics would take effect for a day and a night in the musty cabin with the funky carpet. I realise the ship is ageing and being pensioned off to another company in the UK soon. Perhaps that is the reason for such poor maintenance. Well good riddance! We deserve Never have I experienced such a poor quality of service and cleanliness on a cruise and we will never travel on P&O Australia again, nor will I recommend P&O Australia to anybody again. The irony is, I'm booked to go on a Holland America ship in September which will be much less crowded and it has the same parent company as the Pacific Pearl. Carnival Corporation will still get our $$. Read Less
Sail Date April 2016
Background This was our 4th New Zealand cruise. We have previously travelled to New Zealand on Celebrity (Millennium), Royal Caribbean (Radiance) and Holland America (Oosterdam). Overall comments The ship is beautiful and very good is ... Read More
Background This was our 4th New Zealand cruise. We have previously travelled to New Zealand on Celebrity (Millennium), Royal Caribbean (Radiance) and Holland America (Oosterdam). Overall comments The ship is beautiful and very good is all areas, however we did find the ship very loud. More of that later as it deserves it own section below. Ports of call Auckland The Bay Of Islands (Pahia and Russell) Tauranga (Mount Manganui) At sea Wellington Akaroa Dunedin (Port Chalmers) Dusky, Doubtful & Milford Sounds (cruising) At sea At sea Hobart At sea Sydney Pre Departure A little bit of history. With just 4 days before our departure we were considering cancelling. On doctor’s orders following complications from a previous amputation, my partner was confined to a wheelchair. Fortunately, the Doctor had recently sailed on Solstice and understood the ease of access for mobility restricted passengers onboard, and agreed to allow us to travel on the basis that we restrict walking and use a wheelchair at all times. Our travel agent then advised the airline, Emirates (for travel from Sydney to Auckland to join the ship) and Celebrity of our wheelchair requirements. Can I just say, the system works well and both Emirates and Celebrity are to be congratulated, with only one major “blip” on Celebrity’s part. (see Tendering section below) Embarkation & airport to ship transfer Check-in for both airline and ship was excellent with priority lines offered to expedite the queues for wheelchair passengers. Also amazing ground staff at Auckland Airport in the baggage claim assisted with the wheelchair whilst I wheeled the luggage. We had airport to ship transfers, so joined the line outside the terminal to check luggage back in and take the bus to the ship. The lady from Celebrity checking off names was stressed and quite “frazzled” and could not find our names on the list. She then asked us to step aside whilst she processed others behind us. Turned out the list was in alphabetical order and the name was the first name on her list. No apology though when I saw the name at the top of the page and pointed to it. There was a significant traffic delay en-route to the ship, so by the time we arrived at the ship it was nearing 4pm. This late in the day the check-in line was almost no existent so within minutes we were aboard and in our cabin (7286 – back of the hump with an extra large deep balcony). We were in the cabin for what only seemed a couple of minutes before the general alarm sounded for Life Boat Muster Drill at 4.45pm. We attended an informal Cruise Critic catch up at the Mast Bar following the life boat drill. Cabin & Bathroom Cabins are modern and nicely decorated. There is ample storage with overhead lockers, and space under the beds for suitcases. The bathrooms are well appointed with glass shower screen (not shower curtains that cling to you), plus plenty of shelve space. Cotton buds and cotton wool supplied, but no tissues (bean counters now apparently expected you to request them with your cabin attendant). Tissues didn’t appear until about 4 days into the cruise and only after we had already bought a box of our own in Tauranga. Cabin attendants – rarely saw either of them, but room maintained well, however they could have had a little more attention to detail on cleanliness. There were finger marks on wardrobe doors and inside balcony doors from previous passengers & they were still not cleaned 12 days later when we left the ship. Strangely, the teak balcony railings were initially missing from several decks in our section of the ship, but on about day 5 the beautifully varnished railings reappeared on Deck 7, but not those decks above or below. This is obviously an ongoing maintenance program onboard as we noticed the very poor condition of some of the railings that are in desperate need of attention. Food OK, this is all very subjective, but for what it is worth here are our comments. We had Select Dining which is held on the upper level of the MDR – Epernay Restaurant (very Kath & Kim name - just missing Tru and Pru... Only the Aussies will get that joke. ) Overall the quality of food was excellent. We also love the opportunity to meet new people at each meal when sharing a table. Additionally, we had several breakfasts and a couple of lunches in Epernay. All excellent. Not sure what ever happened to the sea day Brunch that Celebrity used to hold in the MDR, as was looking forward to that. Oh well, the “bean counters” have been busy. Tuscan Grill – We only had 1 dinner here and loved it. We had a fantastic goat cheese ball salad, wonderful calamari in faux newspaper wrapping and a great filet mignon. The restaurant cover charge is $35.00 pp, but worth it. Bistro on Five – We ate here twice. It has a cover charge of $5.00 pp. Serving specialty fillings on the pancakes and toasted pannini bread sandwiches, it is just what you need sometimes instead of a heavy meal. They also offered a choice of soups and sweet deserts. Just one deterrent, see our comments on the excessive noise level within the restaurant when there is live entertainment from 2 floors down in the atrium. We ended up having to ask them to turn off the “pipped” music coming from the speaker in the ceiling above us in the restaurant so we could hear ourselves think! Oceanview Cafe – I’m not sure where I should start. Overall, the food here I can only describe as below par. Don’t get me wrong here, we did have some nice food here but; I just wonder if any of the chefs preparing the food ever actually taste it before the send it from the kitchen. The opportunity to get “hot” food here is almost impossible. By the time you select 1 item, then join the queue at a different food station to select another item, the first item is already cold. The lack of menu change within each section was almost nil. Late Evening snacks never changed. Pizza, pasta, rolls with sandwich filling, sweets & cakes. Travelling with a disabled passenger who is diabetic and on strong medication that requires small snacks at regular intervals with their 6 hourly medications can be a real challenge when suitable food types are not available. No fresh fruit or low fat yoghurt at this time of the day. It would have been nice to get a simple casserole with some plain rice as a late evening option. I was sure there used to be a special midnight buffet served in the cafe during each cruise. I remember on Millennium there was a special buffet served in the “Cosmos” or “Sky Lounge” one evening during the cruise. (bean counters back again) Room Service – We needed to order breakfast every morning for 6.00am so medication could be taken. I can only say how fantastic the room service team were. We received a phone call ahead of delivery every morning and right on time, everytime. (Fruit, yoghurt, cereal, toast and coffee/tea). Aqua Spa Cafe – We only used this one evening when the Ocean View Cafe closed and the Aqua Spa Cafe was used for the late evening snacks. Offering was very basic, and we were surprised to see that they charged for yoghurt, albeit specialty flavours. (bean counters at it again.) Tendering for wheelchair passengers. Upon check-in at Princes’ Wharf in Auckland, we were provided a “Tendering Information” sheet which was applicable to wheelchair passengers. This particular itinerary has 2 tender ports, The Bay of Islands & Akaroa. Having previously been to The Bay of Islands we did not feel the need to leave the ship, however with Akaroa being our favourite port of call, we decided to go ashore. My partner was wheeled to a separate staircase, where he had the option to stay in the wheelchair and use the disabled lift down to the pontoon at water level or walk down the stairs by himself which he opted to do. Crew members carried his foldable wheelchair down to the boarding pontoon. It all worked well, I thought at that point. I was already seated on the tender and they assisted him onto the tender and he sat behind me. I turned to look that his wheelchair was aboard and it was. There was some discussions going on behind us, and as we pulled away from the pontoon I turned to see his wheelchair sitting on the pontoon. I realised that they had off-loaded his wheelchair without letting us know. At this point I started to shout at the tender driver (Marios) to stop and go back for his wheelchair. Fellow passengers could see the situation and also started shouting, but to no avail. Marios simply said they will bring it on the next tender. Yeah right !! To separate a mobility restricted passenger from their transportation means is certainly inexcusable behaviour. Knowing that the jetty at Akaroa has no seating I got particularly agitated as my partner, who is an amputee, is unable to stand for extended periods. The upshot of all this was that once we got to the jetty, we had to sit onboard until the next tender arrived which only slowed up the movement of other passengers wanting to get onboard to return to the ship. The other arriving tender ended up having trouble trying to dock as they had to go to the other side of the jetty, they then had to retrieve the wheelchair before that tender could unload passengers. If we had been told that they were off-loading the wheelchair we would have gotten off and waited for the next tender. As timing would have it, upon our return to the ship later that afternoon, Ian the Cruise Director was lined up to get on the next outgoing tender where I unleashed my fury to him regarding the poor treatment of a disabled passenger being separated from his transportation. As I would expect from him, no apology or follow up. Entertainment & Activities Loud live music conflicts with piped music throughout the ship, particularly from level 3 in the atrium where it drifts up to all floors. No pianist in Michael’s Bar. A real missed opportunity for an intimate recital performance space. Poor string trio. High school level and not able to co-ordinate together. Most of the shows in the Theatre were high quality. Excellent violinist Jane in theatre. Loved the presentations by Dr Milos the onboard nature lecturer. Interesting and provoking historical lectures by Dr Elenor. The glass blowing demonstrations are fantastic. Karaoke – takes place in the Quasar, but the set up seems all wrong with guests entering via a front door where they have to walk in front of the performer and blocking the words on the screen. Staff need to have a better understanding of how to operate the electronic equipment. It’s a shame that they don’t list the songs by song title rather than by performer. You know the song you want to sing, but don’t know who sang it, so you can’t find it. Loud noise throughout ship Bistro on Five- Loud & intrusive noise from level 3 in the atrium was overpowering 2 floors up. We asked staff in restaurant to turn off the “Piped” music so we can talk across the table. Of an evening, loud live music from level 3 atrium can be heard in cabins on the hump (we were on level 7 and could still hear it in our cabin 4 floors up. Entertainers performing in the glass elevators of the atrium and on stairways, very tacky. Guess it works for some passengers. Ambient music around pool on level 12 is over shadowed by loud “piped” music from level 14 Mast Grill Bar especially when the bar on level 14 is closed. There was no such thing as a quiet late night coffee in Cafe al Bacio on level 5. Every time the noise from the live performance on level 3 in the atrium was deafening. I’m sure there are speakers behind the curtains on level 5 to amplify the sound 2 floors up. Good luck if you wanted to read quietly in the Library. It’s open plan to the atrium and all the noise drifts up. Same again with the card room and games area. This ship needs to conduct a total review of the impact of so many varieties of “noise” on its guests. There did not seem to be any area of the ship that was not affected where you could just sit down in total silence and enjoy peace and quiet. Not even in the library. Summary Would we sail again on this ship? Probably not. As nice as the decor, staff and service are, it is just not our style. The ship is loud, loud, loud.   Read Less
Sail Date December 2013
My daughter and I took this cruise as a back to back cruise with the previous cruise - the 12 night Australia/New Zealand which began in Sydney and ended in Auckland. In our minds, this 18 night cruise which began in Auckland, is a ... Read More
My daughter and I took this cruise as a back to back cruise with the previous cruise - the 12 night Australia/New Zealand which began in Sydney and ended in Auckland. In our minds, this 18 night cruise which began in Auckland, is a continuation of the first, one big long amazing 30 night cruise on the beautiful Celebrity Solstice - but, there were some distinctions to this 2nd cruise, particularly since this was the first time EVER that the Solstice, or any Celebrity ship of the Solstice class, had come to the ports of Adelaide, Esperance or Albany in Australia. You might want to read my review of that cruise, for details about the perks of sailing Aqua Class, if you are interested - the 12 night Sydney to Auckland, which began on January 16, 2013. We are big fans of Aqua Class. In Auckland we went on a full day Celebrity shore excursion, which brought us back to the ship a few hours before the Solstice set sail. The experience of doing a back to back cruise is intoxicating - to see your fellow passengers packing up and having to leave, knowing that you get to continue on - yes, intoxicating! Though, trust me, we got our comeuppance on day 19 when it was our turn to get off the ship. It was particularly hard to leave - first, because we had at that point, been on board for a full 31 days so we got very close to many of the crew, as they do become like your 2nd family, but it was additionally difficult to leave because nearly a full third of the ship was staying on to do the next cruise which was of the top half of the Australian continent - thus, that third of the passengers was doing a full circumnavigation of the continent, pretty exciting for them. We could have done that, but we chose to back to back with the 12 night New Zealand/Australian cruise as we wanted a double dose of New Zealand. There were so many things to see in the New Zealand cities - lots of "Lord of the Rings" excursions, which particularly interested my adult daughter, but also the Maori culture is so rich in New Zealand - there were many Maori cultural centers that we wanted to visit. No offense to Australia, but the excursions there were somewhat redundant - more kangaroos, more koalas, more crocodiles - and so we wanted to spend more time in New Zealand - so green, so hilly, so lush. We very much enjoyed our day in Auckland, visiting the Takapu Refuge Gannet Colony, but especially loving the Rain Forest Express "Water Care" narrow gauge railway, which was built over 100 years ago to service a water supply pipe - gorgeous views, stunning vegetation, and lots of fun in this train that looks like a toy. We had a delicious lunch at the Soljans Estate Winery. Then, back to the Solstice and back to our cabin, the same cabin as in our first cruise - so we never had to pack up - our belongings were right there where we left them. It was a bit strange as there were no familiar faces on board, other than the friendly crew. But, after a day or so, we made new friends and never missed a beat! In Tauranga, New Zealand, we had an excellent shore excursion to the Hobbiton movie set, a must see destination for "Lord of the Rings" fans. The staff there was lovely, making an on the spot accommodation for my mobility challenged daughter - the hills around the hobbit holes were very hard to negotiate, and so one of the employees gave her a private tour on a vehicle called a "mule", which is a very small truck, but larger than a golf cart! Very nice of them to do this! The Kiwis and the Aussies are some of the friendliest, most genuine people we have ever had the pleasure of meeting. In Akaroa, we had a fabulous excursion to the Willowbank KoTane Maori Cultural Experience, an excursion which I highly recommend. This is a "one stop shopping" destination - an excellent kiwi breeding program where we saw kiwis in nocturnal settings very close to us; a nature reserve where we had intimate encounters with keas, the large native parrots (and lots of other indigenous animals here, lots!), a full blown multi faceted extended Maori show (opportunities for audience participation!) along with an excellent lunch - plus, a very nice gift shop! Our coach guide took us on an excellent drive through Christchurch where we saw very closely the horrible devastation caused by the February 2011 earthquake. The keas, I have to say, were very interested in my daughter's wheelchair, pecking away at the wheels - hysterical and very memorable! In Dunedin, we took the Royal Otago Tour shore excursion where we loved visiting Larnach Castle, the Yellow Eyed Penguin Reserve and the Royal Albatross Colony. The Penguin Reserve is NOT handicapped accessible, AT ALL - there is zero way that someone with a true mobility challenge such as needing a walker, can walk in the penguin blinds, up the paths etc - so, again, we were the happy recipients of the compassion of kind people - my daughter spent the tour time in the penguin hospital where she saw nearly 20 penguins very up close and personal! I wish I had stayed with her! I went on the traditional tour and saw 5 penguins, at a deep distance.......the time of day and the time of year were not optimal to seeing many of the penguins in their natural habitat. But how lovely of the staff at the Penguin Reserve to make sure that my daughter had such an excellent alternative experience. There was quite a bit of fog outside of Dunedin, which was rather exciting as the ship's fog horn sounded for approximately 8 hours - very plaintive to hear. Cruising through Fjorland National Park in southwest New Zealand is something that we will never forget, a once in a lifetime experience although since we did back to back cruises, twice in a lifetime for us, twice in a two week period, in fact! To wake up and have your coffee on your veranda while cruising through Dusky Sound, ahhhhh, that is the life! We were also very lucky that we received an invitation to pass through Milford Sound - the most dramatic of the 3 sounds - Dusky, Doubtful and Milford - on the heliport of the ship. Now that, yes that was indeed a once in a lifetime experience. The prior cruise, we passed through Milford on Deck 12 - the outdoor deck in front of the gym - very dramatic indeed, but a bit crowded. One of our favorite Celebrity shore excursions was out of Sydney to Tobruk Sheep Station, SY78 - excellent authentic lunch, sheep dog herding demonstrations, interactions with the sheep as well as with the sheep dogs and other farm animals; committed friendly staff. They were all so nice to my daughter who like the trooper that she is, wanted to do all of the participatory activities - the staff helped her with all of these, i.e. the whip cracking lesson - the Tobruk employee put his Aussie cowboy hat on her and he helped her hold the whip, and they cracked away, very kind and so memorable for her. On day 2 in Sydney, at the tour of the Opera House, we were surprised to see how un-handicapped accessible it was! The building was built in the 1970s and yet, unbelievably, elevators were only added 8 years ago. If you are coming to see a performance and you need to have a handicapped parking spot, you actually have to call ahead and reserve a parking spot! Perpetuating the marginalization of people with disabilities, the elevators are far from where you want to actually be, so that you have to separate from the main body of people. To the credit of the staff, we were given what was essentially a private tour, because the tour itself zips back and forth in areas where there is no elevator. Yes, it is a stunning building, but, very odd to me that a building like this, which is a societal focal point, a place for all people to join communally in the pursuit of artistic transcendence - that it was built in the 1970s, not the 1870s or earlier - with no thought to an entire vital segment of the population. People in wheelchairs don't go the opera?? Really?? We took a private excursion in Hobart, Tasmania, expertly and thoughtfully run by Eye See Personalized Tours. The owner and operator, Judy Livingston, is sincerely empathic and worked hard to make sure that my daughter was able to fully participate in all aspects of the tour. We had a fabulous time at the Bonorong animal preserve and a very moving experience at Port Arthur, the largest remaining prison from the convict days. So, this is the point in the cruise when things started to get a bit dicey, due to the high winds, and resultant high seas, which caused us to arrive in Adelaide 3 hours late. The chop was so strong that the day at sea before Adelaide for many of the passengers, was spent in the sick bay or in their rooms. I in fact posted a video online of the huge tree which is onboard the Solstice, suspended in the air in the area of the glass elevators, so that when you ride the elevators, you can see this tree growing out of a huge diamond shaped pot, suspended in the air, the ship creating a mega-terrarium of sorts! Normally, the leaves and the branches on the tree never move, but on this sea day, the leaves and branches were swaying quite dramatically! That was the most telling sign, to me, of the rough seas! Our 3 hour delayed arrival into Adelaide was not a problem for any of us that had booked a ship's shore excursion, which we had. Though we arrived 3 hours late, the captain made up the time at the other end, leaving 3 hours later than originally scheduled, so no time lost in port. Upon approach to Adelaide, despite our delayed arrival, the proverbial welcome mat was rolled out for the Solstice. Seemingly, the entire town turned out on shore and at the port building itself, where a band playing Aussie folk songs was performing for us, and a greeter on a loudspeaker was calling out to us - we had not even docked, we were still well away from the pier! Such a warm welcome! Returning to the problematic issues with Adelaide, besides the delay due to high chop, was that the docking procedure did not go smoothly - remember, I said that this was the VERY FIRST TIME that the Solstice or any ship of it's class, had ever come to this port. The gangway wasn't lining up; after docking preliminarily, the captain had to actually move away from the dock to adjust the ship 45 meters to facilitate the gangway placement - it was fascinating to watch the process from our veranda. The captain and several other officers were in the navigational bridge looking out anxiously - it was clear that they were frustrated and not happy at all! - they and everyone, were doing the best that they could. This was a new situation and all staff - Celebrity staff, and the port staff - acted professionally, calmly, and did all that they could. From our perspective, it was very exciting to be a part of something new, and to see how things go when things don't go exactly as planned. Because of the issues, only one gangway was able to be used - since the ship was late to arrive, and with only one gangway, you can imagine the congestion of everyone wanting to disembark all at the same time - but again, crew comported themselves with aplomb, and once we were in Adelaide, we had a fabulous day, enjoying especially the Cleland Wildlife Park where we actually held a koala. Returning to the ship, because of the gangway issues, only a limited number of guests were allowed on the single gangway at a single time - so again, great congestion. The Adelaide port volunteers (the entire town came out for the Solstice, truly, so warm and welcoming!) saw my daughter get off our tour coach, with her wheelchair, and they immediately spirited her away to the front of the line so that the long line of passengers trying to get back on board was quickly to our rear. I felt badly, but compassion for the physically challenged was front and center - exhibited throughout the cruise by all crew and all port personnel, tour guides, at all times. The captain produced an explanatory video which was played in a loop on Ch. 2 on board, in which he outlined in detail the meteorological details which were causing the high chop. He explained how he needed to avoid even worse problems to our SW, which was part of the reason for the delay in Adelaide, as well as to why the chop was so high, causing many to feel discomfort on board. Details given to the passengers are always very helpful, to keep everyone in the loop, as in the absence of knowledge, hypotheses and mistruths fill in the void, which is never a good thing on a ship! After two sea days, our next port was Esperance. We had to anchor at sea, using the ship's lifeboats as tenders. Unfortunately, again Mother Nature stepped in with very rough waters, making the return tendering process rather complicated - the chop was at times, ferocious, such that the tenders needed quite a bit of extra time to get close, safely, to the ship. The captains of the individual tenders had nerves of steel and proved their excellence as quality maritime officers in the skills that they demonstrated. And for those that are mobility challenged, extra care needed to be taken due to the rough seas at the tender platforms getting back on board - but, again, the incredibly empathic and capable (and strong!) crew proved that all things are possible and everyone returned safely back to the ship, and were, if I may, all the richer for having experienced this exciting adventure! As we approached Albany, our next port of call, 6 prop planes flew over the ship in formation as a welcome. This is a charming town with a lovely center, very sweet. We did an "off the reservation" tour of Whale World - there is an animal sanctuary there that is not a part of the regular tour, which we knew about only through catching a brief reference to it on the ship's shore excursion TV channel, as it is not widely publicized. Again, the compassion of others was crucial - we asked the Celebrity sanctioned tour guide about the animal sanctuary, stating that we might prefer that to the all too realistic detailed tour of the whaling station (not for the faint of heart) - with the cooperation of the Whale World staff, we got a private tour of the sanctuary, experiencing perhaps the best kangaroo and koala encounters of the oh so many that we had, of our entire month long journey. Perth was our final port of call and sadly, the end of our month long cruise on the Solstice! As I said in the beginning, it was very difficult for us to leave as 1/3 of the passengers were staying on for the next cruise, to circumnavigate the continent. Our time though, was sadly at an end and we will forever cherish the memories of our great times on the Solstice! Before it was all over though, we enjoyed a ship's shore excursion into Perth, exploring Kings Park at length. If I am lucky enough to ever come again, I would spend a lot of time in Fremantle, the port town - very charming, modern boutiques in refurbished port buildings, lots of outdoor cafes, all very nice, subtly trendy. Some specifics about our onboard experience include a shout out to our cabin attendant who was quite fabulous - my daughter has a thing for collecting a stuffed animal in noteworthy areas; for instance, when in Australia, she picked up a stuffed kangaroo, in New Zealand she found just the right stuffed kiwi, etc - our cabin attendant joined in the fun by making sure that each animal received it's own chocolate at turndown every night. She also would pose the animals - for instance, one day when we got back to our cabin from a long shore excursion, we gleefully found that she had posed our Mickey Mouse (we had picked him up pre-cruise in DisneyLand) on the desk chair looking out the balcony door, looking through binoculars! And of course, she made excellent towel art - the towel swans, that she somehow managed to also look like hearts at the same time that they looked like swans, with our stuffed kiwi in the middle, flanked by the lamb and the kangaroo - well, there is a large photo of it in our album, oh yes, there is! It's these touches that make you feel like you are at home. Valentine's Day was on board, and in Blu as well as the main dining room and specialty restaurants, every woman was presented with a lovely red rose - a tasteful nod to the day. All of the activities staff were superb - energetic, engaging, enthused! We feel strongly that you get out of a cruise what you put into it. We got involved in the two dance clubs that practiced on every sea day and on the final day of the cruise, performed in the ship talent show - it was great fun and we made many new friends! A particular fun activity for me was volunteering to be one of the three judges on the mock Iron Chef show, where the Executive Chef battled it out in "kitchen stadium" against the Cruise Director! The entertainment was first rate - the "brought in" talent as well as the on board talent provided by the "Stars of the Celebrity Solstice" - and the many musical on board performers, that you could find anywhere and everywhere, from the afternoon through late into the night - all quite wonderful. As I have said in other reviews, the only thing that makes getting off the ship bearable is if you have another cruise booked to look forward to, and yes, yes, we will be on the Celebrity Equinox in April! We will miss the crew of the Solstice, but I trust that we will make many new friends on the TransAtlantic! Read Less
Sail Date January 2013
This was to be my wifes and my third cruise with P&O Aus, after sailing on the Pacific Sun, we had a lot of advertising about a refurbished ship, even received a cardboard ship silouette that was scented and advertised as a new ship ... Read More
This was to be my wifes and my third cruise with P&O Aus, after sailing on the Pacific Sun, we had a lot of advertising about a refurbished ship, even received a cardboard ship silouette that was scented and advertised as a new ship smell.My wife has mobility issues so opted for the wheel chair access, embarkation and disembarkation were both very efficient well done P&O, unfortunately it does not get any better.Below decks the accomadation was a drab grey colour with small framed prints, but it appeared very much like an institution not a passenger liner.Our bags arrived soon after we did, while we had lunch at the buffet.The ship sailed basically on time although there was a problem getting the ship off the wharf due to a strong wind holding the ship against the wharf, we were warned of possible 14 seas, however the ship handled the sea well.We dined at the Waterfront Restaurant, service at our table most nights was appallingly slow, 40 minutes one night to wait for the menu to arrive.Some of the menu was generic to the Sun except it wasn't as nice, it appeared that some of it was over micro waved and not very appealing,we tried to book into the specialty restaurant but this was booked out.The cocktails at the Orient Bar were terrible compared to the same drinks on the Sun, in fact the bar tender was very uncaring unless it was for the ships officers who drank there.The cruise director whilst excellent at the marquee theatre, was invisible for the rest of the cruise, her staff could not get anyone to particapte in the 'battle of the sexes' or the 'spoon diving competition', maybe if the cruise staff had turned the loud big screen tv down, more people would have heard the cruise staff.The cruise staff need to have lessons from Sandy on the Sun who was busy all day, with tv interviews of different crew members, daily quizzes, being involved with crew against passenger pool volleyball etc.The Marquee theatre has the most user unfriendly seating I have seen on the upper theatre deck you cannot see the stage as there is a rail at eye height from all points.On a more positive note our cabin steward 'Leizel' was very good.Ports of Call:  Norfolk Island it was too rough to put the tenders down here, the second cruise in a row that we have not been able to go ashore at Norfolk Island, it appears very few cruise ships can put tenders down here, so maybe P&O should reconsider this as a port of call. The other ports we called at were Noumea,Lifou, Port Vila and Mystery Island, we have previously called at these places and have enjoyed them and their activities each time we have been to them. The ship has not had a total refurbishment, apart from a big tv on the upper deck it appears very little for the passengers had been done, in saying so we did not go to the gym or casino, so cant comment on them.While we will probably cruise on P&O Aus again, I doubt it will be on the Pearl.C'mon P&O lift your game you can do better. Read Less
Sail Date June 2011
This was the first time I sailed on celebrity, and it will probably be my last. I booked with them for what I thought was a great deal for an AU/NZ cruise. I usually cruise on Carnival, and I have to say I've experienced much better ... Read More
This was the first time I sailed on celebrity, and it will probably be my last. I booked with them for what I thought was a great deal for an AU/NZ cruise. I usually cruise on Carnival, and I have to say I've experienced much better with them before. I plan to stay away from all RCI related cruise lines. The entertainment also sucked. The comedy shows had few laughs, and there were only 1 or 2 on the whole cruise that were decent. I was bored out of my mind on this cruise.. You would think they could think of better things for you to do..but they bore you to death to get you to Gamble in the casino, and play Bingo for $30-80 a pop.. I wasn't alone. During the communal breakfasts other guests were all griping about the food. I ended up eating in the Olympic Restaurant most of the time because that is where the "best" food was...In there you can dine on Foie Gras as an appetizer. (Tip, ask for a double order.. they will never offer it, but you can ask) Now the entrees - The lobster was horrible. Very rubbery.. like something you'd expect in a cheap Chinese restaurant. The filet mignon wasn't actually on the menu, but on most nights the servers would hawk it, and say it is a "special"..well special it is.. It's terribly low quality - tough, dry, CHEAP!! I sent mine back and never ordered it again..and I love a filet mignon. I've had much better at Outback steakhouse. This is what they were serving in their specialty restaurant I remind you! The servers were very friendly.. the service was good. The rack of lamb was below average, but edible. It isn't seasoned well at all..even when I complained, all they would do is add salt & pepper to it. The chops were pretty small too. The cheese course is good, I can't comment on the quality because I'm not a cheese person, but it seemed good quality. The desserts.. Stay away from the secret surprise desert that they don't tell you about. It was very cheap bite sized crap. The chocolate souffle is authentic, and a safe choice. I can't recall some of the other ones, but they were mostly mediocre quality. The main dining room for dinner was quite bad.. the menu selection was terrible... I didn't like anything really at all they had so I avoided eating here. The best thing was on the pool deck, they had hand scooped ice cream.. There were different flavors. Breakfast was OK, but the fruit.. I had the worst fruit I've ever tasted.. Strawberries were flavorless. How that could happen I don't know. In the main dining room, the breakfast is served to you.. They don't have the waffles in their, which on the pool deck decent. Overall I was expecting alot better, but was terribly disappointed in the food on this cruise. I will add that the ship was late to almost every port we sailed to, the management was the worst I've had on any cruise I've been on. They scheduled shows and different activities in a way where you missed out on good stuff. They also scheduled a late midnight chocolate buffet right before an early morning arrival at a big destination city.. I didn't make it because I value my sleep, and I suspect others missed it too. Great way to save money for Celebrity though.. Overall I'd rate the cruise as FAIR.. It could have been worse.. but it could have been MUCH MUCH better. The service in public rooms was hit or miss... Sometimes you'd wait forever and no one will come around, other times they pester you to death. I was also overcharged more than once and had to wait for them to correct it. The shore excursions are a huge rip off.. I could do the same on my own for much cheaper. $300 to tour some chocolate cafes? I could go myself at my leisure for a $20 cab ride. In terms of bang for buck.. I admit I got what I thought was a good deal.. I paid less than $80 a day including taxes and fuel surcharges for single occupancy.. I still expected a better cruise, so the deal wasn't so great after all.. When I entered my cabin for the first time.. I noticed a big long black HAIR on the bath towel... YUCK!!!!!! Also the stateroom attendant never refilled the minibar even when I wrote a note asking him to! Not even after a week! Read Less
Sail Date November 2008
Our Trip started from O'Hare airport in Chicago, on the 15th of Jan., when the Temperature was a "bracing" -16oF. We were SOO happy to be heading to warmer climes We flew Cruise Air, as we got a very good deal on airfare, ... Read More
Our Trip started from O'Hare airport in Chicago, on the 15th of Jan., when the Temperature was a "bracing" -16oF. We were SOO happy to be heading to warmer climes We flew Cruise Air, as we got a very good deal on airfare, $1,200.pp. We were afraid at that price, Celebrity would have us on poor flights. Nothing could be further than the truth, 1 stop in San Francisco , and then direct to Auckland on Air New Zealand (13hrs). A very nice airline. Arriving in the "City of Sails"at 5:30am. Very shortly transported to our hotel..again Cruise line arranged , (To keep our great airfare we needed to use their pre-cruise hotel)The Langham. A beautiful classy older style hotel, but in the middle of the city, not too near the tourist area. They do provide a free shuttle into the more "active" areas. We were allowed to check in immediately , we were afraid we'd be in "Limbo" as their normal check in was 2pm. In fact we were offered their breakfast buffet free, which we were to get free the next morning also(Considered to be the best in Auckland.. $37.Nz pp) Slept most of the day..we're old folks ! Packet handed to us upon arrival informed us that we would be given a 2 ½ hr bus tour of the city as our transfer to the ship so we didn't do anything else about sightseeing, as I said we were very tired Were pleased with Celebrity thus far with our treatment. The next couple days...were..well not as nice, the Embarkation was very smooth, our bags had preceded us on a truck that morning, and we were CC and Capt. Club, so went to the short line, virtually no line. I was to have a wheelchair if needed as we had an accessible cabin..though I use a cane and did not have a chair. Felt walking wasn't too bad...until we had to go up the gangway which was very steep. Was exhausted as I stepped aboard, said to my DH..."sorry I didn't take that chair " (Promptly they got me into one and to our cabin..and left the chair for my use for the duration of the cruise ). Bags arrived a little late, we didn't eat ,as we'd had a light lunch at a stop on the bus tour. Then early seating in the Dining Room. We'd gotten a note saying they'd moved us to a different "better" table, which was right at the head of the stairs next to the piano...if that was better ??? Traffic going by to every table all night, and looking into the kitchen, literally no ocean view.. Could have complained as CC and Capt Club was to have priority seating, but let it go, wasn't a big deal. Meal was fairly good, but not memorable to keep in mind what we ate. Our table mates were pleasant and from enough of a variety of backgrounds and places to make the talk interesting Then after the opening show as we returned to our cabin, my DH stated he wasn't feeling up to par. So we hurried back to cabin....the beginning of 2 long days The whole evening he was distressed with the "tourists revenge", and it became obvious the next morning he wouldn't be able to do our first tour...to Rotorua..from Tauranga, said I should go anyway...but was showing some symptoms also. I called the Desk to report his illness, (as that is impressed upon you strongly in a paper you must fill out)They said he must go to the Medical at 9am when they opened and I decided to call someone who was on our private tour with us, to have them cancel both of us (at no cost thank heavens). After a long while I received a call from the Dr. Suggesting I too should report to medical. My Dh was dehydrated enough that they gave him a "Drip". Was running a fever. HE was to be sent back to cabin after the drip was empty, and quarantined for 48hrs, It was decided I was to be also, but probably not really a case like his, so only 24hrs. She also stated that "You aren't the only one..." to him. Wherever this came from, whatever caused it...We never received a DR. Bill from the Celebrity. I've had to use a medical dept before on a ship, and the bill was very high for very small services (Pills etc) Was expecting a large bill. Strange isn't it?? So Our first 2 days were spent sleeping mostly, for my DH and, when feeling better laying on our HUGE deck, or reading. Our cabin (7212) was an Aft accessible cabin and the balcony was 13'x21', cabin about the same size. It was really great to have that room during those 48hrs. Can't Imagine an inside room for 48hrs I spent most of my day after my quarantine, with him, except to go to the Cruise Critic meeting. It was nice to meet the folks on our Roll Call, but NO members of the staff of the ship attended except the Cruise Director, and another of the Activities Staff Surely different from the Azamara one when ALL the staff came including the Capt. At one time or another, and answered questions I also got to get our lunch at the Ocean Breezes Cafe, and a very nice waiter carried the tray all the way to our cabin, and out to the table on the balcony. Before this we'd done room service, and I ordered from the dining room menu...lamb shank was excellent.(.DH had broth ) 2nd day was an At Sea Day so we missed no more ports or tours. Napier N Z was OUR first port of Call. Almost didn't get to go there until the front desk called the DR. To ascertain my DH was actually off quarantine and free to take tour (Med. Dept. wasn't open yet ) We toured with Hawkes Bay Scenic Tours, and John Hanlon was marvelous. He loves his city and surrounding country, and it shows in his tours. The Art Deco buildings in town were very photogenic The winery tour and countryside, very different from home, and the view from MT. Te Mata breathtaking...watching hangliders soaring over the highest spot in New Zealand. Being a photographer himself, he knew the best sites to stop at Wellington, we'd decided on a quick 2 ½ hr tour with Wellington Rover...was NOT as good as expected, driver was late to pick us up, and then drove like a madman all over to try to make up time, (so he'd not miss his next tour) and very short Photo op stops. (After asking how long they'd be stopping, I usually just stayed on bus, as I have trouble getting in & out of vehicles like these mini buses). He was supposed to take anyone who wanted to go to ship, or they could spend time in town...after all but 1 couple elected to stay in town...he refused to take them back to ship It would "take too much time." Christchurch We'd elected to do a private tour in ALL ports we visited, the exchange rate made their prices very attractive, plus personal service and small groups. Here we went with "Explore Canterbury" run by the Lyttletown Shuttle service to Akaroa for a harbor cruise on the Black Cat cruiseline, and scenic tour of the Akaroa Peninsula . It was a great tour, saw many of the Hector's Dolphins, seals, sea caves etc. Akaroa is a little seaside town with a French touch, quaint houses in the style of seaside France. Beautiful views and great commentary by "Dermot", our guide. Dunedin here we went with the "Back to Nature" tour Co. We were mostly pleased, but Ian, our guide was newly back from retirement and got behind occasionally, and also spent time doing a photo or two of his own, kinda slowed us down. We'd elected to do the Royal Albatross Centere, (A disappointment, mostly videos and talks...only 3 birds in sight from their viewing area, sitting in the grass or on nests. Was supposed to be peak viewing season.) For 30$ NZ a waste of money to me. The Yellow Eyed Penguin reserve was better, except for people who are any way handicapped, you can't get to the birds (I did get to tour their "Hospital for Penguins" so saw them more close up than the others did ) These penguins are very endangered, and the reserve is trying to help that situation. First we toured around town a bit...saw the Train Station...very classic & beautiful, and Cadbury's Chocolate factory. And the"Steepest street in the world!" You know there are NO straight or level roads "Down Under"...at least in New Zealand!! That evening we left to sail to "The Sounds"...but in the middle of the night...the wind whistled and the ship started tossing back-forth AND side to side, and rain poured. The Capt. reported at 8am...74 knots an hr winds (near hurricane force) so ...we missed the first sound, couldn't get in...and proceeded to the next Sound..and as the "Grand Buffet" was scheduled ,for lunch, we all tried to eat. My DH collected a plate for me as I didn't feel I could handle the tossing deck AND a plate. The buffet seemed to go over pretty well with the others...I had no idea what all was set out. The next sound was also impossible to enter...so we decided to nap, as keeping our balance was nearly impossible. Suddenly the PA system announced we were already into Milford Sound, and we rushed to our rear balcony, each grabbing a camera, and DH also his binoculars (the ship's ones are useless). The Sound leaves one almost speechless, (for me an impossibility) Cliffs towering 2,000' over Millennium...cloud topped because of the storm. One of Nature's Wonders ! Because of that tropical storm, we were treated to Milford Sound at it's most Spectacular...100's of waterfalls, from tiny rivulets to a roaring cascade, everywhere you looked. When the sun would peek out you'd get some great sun/shadow photos. A private tour boat near the cliffs ...looks like a tiny toy as it sails near the waterfalls, on my photos you can hardly see it's there. We watched the whole trip through the sound from our aft balcony, no crowding at the rail, sitting on our deck chairs right at the railing! The experience was amazing, and so are the Photos! Then on to Australia...2 days "At Sea". After those very long tour days in N.Z. we needed the rest. We had our first formal night, (we'd been in quarantine for the first) was during these 2 days. I have to say my DH looked pretty sharp in his rented Tux, BUT a word to the wise...the shirts (2) neither one was the size we'd arranged for, one was wearable so he wore it both the formal nights left, the shoes a size too small, which he suffered thru the first night but wore his own black shoes the next one! And the tie was "floppy". Still it was his first time in a tux, , the last formal night we celebrated his 70th BD. Food was NOT as it used to be, (adequate would be generous, but company convivial)...and service quite good so we enjoyed the evening. Melbourne, again we had arranged for a private tour guide I found after much searching, for someone to take us to the 12 Apostles along the Great Ocean Rd. The Ship's tour was very pricey, and the other large companies' available tours left before we could leave the ship. I found a "We'll do the tour YOUR way" guide, in Jeff Richardson.australia-touristguide.com.au. In the end we added 2 other couples from the ship, and had a full 10 hr day. The drive along "The Road" was spectacular..The views, the Apostles and Colors Wow! and much cooler than the 114oF that greeted us in Melbourne! We had a wonderful tour and took MANY photos. Jeff had offered us an evening tour around Melbourne and a trip down Lygon Street, the center of dining in Melbourne. So after a quick shower, and fresh clothes (cool ones) we braved the evening and night tour of the city. What a great city, huge parks everywhere, much entertainment going on..in the middle of the week, including the Australian Open Tennis Classic (In that temperature!!) Thank the Lord for Air conditioned vans & Restaurants! Lygon Street was very interesting and great Italian food. It was a great evening, a highlight of our cruise. Day 2 in Melbourne we spent aboard the ship...too hot for me! After 1 day at sea, we arrived in Sydney, 5:30am. My DH went up on top deck to record our arrival but was too late to see anything but the docking. I went out on Our Balcony...marveling in the views...the "Coat Hanger" harbor bridge right off our balcony, and just a peek around the divider presented the Opera House to the right. We needed to eat fast...another private tour to the "Blue Mountains" and we were due to meet the "Anderson Tours" bus at a few minutes after we were allowed to depart the ship. The bus had passengers from hotels etc., and were waiting for us 2 couples from Millennium, I street off the dock. Our first stop was Featherdale Wildlife park, allowed about 1 hr there, got to pet/feed the Koalas and Kangaroos, and see many of the very different species from "Down Under". Next a stop at a park for "Billy Tea" and Boomerang lessons for those who wanted them! My DH took my place so he got 2 lessons...sorry but he was dismal at both tries (he does frisbee so great too!) Then on to Lunch at a Country Club, served family style, (included in tour) and we spent 3 hrs or so at "Scenic World" in the Blue Mts., taking their gondola ride to the floor of the Jamison Valley, right under the 3 Sisters rock formation. Our Guide "Bob" took us on a walk thru the temperate rainforest, on a boardwalk, explaining the Flora & Fauna...mostly Giant ferns and Eucalyptus trees. We were to ride the "worlds steepest cog railway" but JUST before we were to board, it jumped a cable up on top, and we had to return to the gondola and wait for a turn, we were therefor late for the last part of our tour, a riverboat cruise to the Circular Quay. We did finally catch another boat and ride it back, along the Parramatta River, under the bridge, past the Millennium..after a hot day the cool breeze on the front of the ferry was most welcome, and great views of Sydney. Arriving too late to dine in the MD, we opted to finish our packing, and order Room Service to eat on our soon to be missed balcony. It was a magical evening, as the whole harbor was lit up, from the bridge, the Opera House and all the ships bustling around. It was a Saturday, and dinner boats and Dancing Hall boats sailed past. Crazy People climbed to the top of the Harbor Bridge IN THE DARK! We could see their flashes going off ! What a wonderful ending to what was in the greater sense a really "Grand Adventure." Too bad it didn't end on quite such a high note...Celebrity put us all who flew out that day, on a bus to the airport...at 7:45am...no matter when your plane left! Now Sydney Airport has very few places to sit until after you check in, and you can't check in until 3 hrs before flight. OUR flight was 3:05pm...so there we were with our bags, and several other couples from Millennium trying to kill several hrs until we could at least get rid of the luggage! This was NOT well done of Celebrity especially for a CC cabin and a Capt Club elite member (one of our fellow waiting passengers). They said we could have signed up for the tour of Sydney at $69 (no credit for our free transfer w/air) or hire a taxi to take us from a hotel where we could probably PAY to drop bags for a couple hrs. What hogwash...cruise over..sweep them out the door with the trash! Flights were good though long...weather a bit warmer at home, adventure over. Read Less
Sail Date January 2008

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