65 Auckland Luxury Cruise Reviews

South Pacific Cruise on the Crystal Symphony March 3-April 6, 2018 This is a review of two segments of the Crystal Symphony World Cruise, from Auckland, New Zealand to Papeete, Tahiti and Papeete to Valparaiso, Chile. Ports of call ... Read More
South Pacific Cruise on the Crystal Symphony March 3-April 6, 2018 This is a review of two segments of the Crystal Symphony World Cruise, from Auckland, New Zealand to Papeete, Tahiti and Papeete to Valparaiso, Chile. Ports of call included two stops in Fiji, the Cook Islands, Tonga, Niue, Bora Bora, Moorea, Tahiti, the Marquesas Islands, Easter Island and Robinson Crusoe Island. Overall Crystal lived up to its reputation among the best of the upper tier of cruise lines. It is essentially all inclusive other than shore excursions, and naturally the price reflects that. Other than some minor areas for improvement, I have little reason not to rate the experience highly. As with any cruise the experience starts long before boarding as you register online and if so desired, reserve excursions and make speciality dining reservations. Unfortunately Crystal was in the middle of transitioning from their legacy web site to a new site and they made the classic rookie mistake of going live with the new site before it was fully checked out and functional. This certainly detracted from the initial impression of Crystal as this was our first cruise with them. Through several attempts over a period of weeks and exchanges of phone calls and emails with Crystal eventually everything was set. Interestingly, Crystal is one of the remaining lines that still sends paper brochures and boarding documents. For a line that prides itself on being “Green” sending duplicates of everything to a couple sharing a cabin is quite wasteful. My one other minor complaint is that none of the theme nights were mentioned in the advance information and thus we had not packed for these. These minor annoyances were all forgotten once embarkation began. Crystal has a unique process where the health forms, clearing security, registering your card and getting your cabin key are split between the terminal and onboard in stages. This spreads out the activity and minimizes congestion. It proved to be efficient and fast (helped by a passenger load less than 700) and we were quickly in our cabin, which was ready as soon as we boarded. Our luggage also arrived promptly. We had a verandah cabin on deck 9. We found it roomy enough and were impressed with the closet space, more hangars than we have seen on almost any of our previous cruises and ample drawer and shelf space so that our clothes and accessories for 35 days onboard could all be stored with room to spare. The refrigerator was larger than the standard minibar size one usually found on ships and the safe was large enough to fit two iPads and the rest of our valuables. The Symphony had only recently emerged from drydock and the cabins now feature large flat screen TVs. Regrettably our cabin still had only one 110v and one 220v outlet, a serious shortcoming in today’s wired world. The bathroom was adequate and the only minor issue was that the lighting could have been a bit better. As always my pet peeve is the light switch is on the outside, making for the usual acrobatics at night to try and turn on the light and quickly close the door without waking your partner. The balcony was large enough for the two of us to enjoy it comfortably with a nice table in between. With so many sea days on this cruise we took full advantage of the balcony. Returning to the TV, the interactive system was superb for accessing information on entertainment, dining, etc. I particularly loved the fact that any enrichment lectures you miss are available on demand or can be viewed live in your stateroom if you don’t make it to the venue. The number of TV stations is dependent on satellite coverage and so varied greatly during our voyage. Internet access is totally free and for most of the trip was surprisingly fast. Once we got into the more remote parts of the South Pacific it did slow down considerably as satellite coverage there is spotty. The pool on the Symphony is large enough to swim short laps. Obviously not Olympic size, but reasonable for a ship of this size. The one downside is that it apparently uses ocean water because it was very salty to the point that I stopped using it as my eyes were getting irritated. There is an oversized hot tub that was very relaxing after a long day of touring and I frequently had it to myself. There are three main shops onboard. All were focused on higher end merchandise (clothing, jewelry, watches) with only a token amount of souvenir cruise wear like polo shirts and tees. There was a small section of sundries. Dining is probably the most subjective and personal topic to comment on. The Symphony has switched to an all open dining format for the main dining room, called Waterside. We never had to wait for a table whether we wanted to dine alone or with a group. We found the food quite good and there were always at least 6 choices of entrees, often more. There are also several speciality restaurants including Italian, Japanese, Chinese and Brazilian steakhouse. Passengers get at least two complimentary meals in the Italian and Japanese restaurants per segment and unlimited dining in the others by reservation. In addition up until 6 pm the Trident grill serves sandwiches and other light food and the Bistro has some snacks and deserts throughout the day and evening. One nice feature is you can order off the Waterside menu for room service during their regular dining hours, plus a more limited room service 24/7. With all these options you should never go without! Our one “complaint” is that we are used to having access at night to a buffet for casual dinner if we did not feel like a sit down meal and this option is no longer available on Symphony. Without question Symphony’s entertainment offerings are world class. The resident singers and dancers are multi talented and professional and their production shows were as good as any we have experienced. The guest performers included opera singers, a famous pianist, an array of well known vocalists and more. There was no decrease in quality in the lounges either, with a magnificent violinist, pianist, a Quartet in one lounge and a dance duo in another. If none of these were to your liking, the ship also has a dedicated movie theater showing first run films. During our cruise we could see the Shape of Water, Darkest Hour, Three Billboards and many more feature films. The enrichment lectures were generally first rate. The mix included marine biologists, military generals, a CNN reporter, a cultural anthropologist, and a Hollywood talent agent/former performer. If you wanted to skip all that and curl up with a good book, the Library had an extensive and varied collection. We generally opt for doing independent shore excursions wherever possible in lieu of the ship’s offering. Due to the extremely limited infrastructure on many of the islands we visited this was not always possible, so we ended up with a mix of independent and ship’s tours. For the most part the ship’s tours did the islands justice with a good mix of culture, nature and history. One tour was a bit subpar but I feel it was more due to the limitations of what the island had to offer than the tour operator. In Tahiti we took a ship’s tour one day and a private tour the second day and I can honestly say the ship’s tour was better than the private one we arranged. As far as our port stops the one area for improvement is the research done by the shore excursion staff. For the main islands the information was adequate and with the Internet there was lots we could study on our own ahead of time. However for some of the smaller islands, particularly two atolls, there were no excursions available either through the ship or privately due to their small population and size. The information on what to do in port from the shore excursion desk was meager to nonexistent. Thankfully the local population had set up information tables at the tender pier to provide the information on nearby beaches and points of interest. It would seem that the shore excursion folks could have contacted the island tourist information center or local government for advanced information. The island of Rangiroa stands out as an opportunity missed. The beach on the Pacific side was quite rocky and had a notable undertow so it was not suitable for anything but wading. The lagoon side had clear waters and looked inviting but the only beach within walking distance was at the island’s one resort. Crystal could have explored making arrangements for day use of their beach for a fee, as many other cruise lines do. Beyond the all inclusive nature of the cruise, the real standout was service. Even if the ship was full the passenger to crew ratio is less than 2:1. On the second leg of our cruise because of the lower passenger count there were actually more crew than passengers! Every single crew member we encountered from the Captain to dining service to housekeeping was happy to go out of their way to help and provide an above and beyond experience. Disembarkation in Chile was quick and as easy as possible given the logistics of the port. The cruise terminal is away from the place where the ship docks so one has to board a shuttle to get to the terminal where one clears customs and security and retrieves one’s luggage. This went smoothly with one glitch. When the people from Pitcairn Island came onboard one of their sales items was pure honey. Because of the island’s remote locations the honey is certified as disease free and we were assured by both the folks from Pitcairn Island and the Symphony folks who oversaw the operation that we would have no trouble getting the honey home if we showed the certificate of purity. Not so. The Chilean Customs folks amassed a large collection of jars of honey. All in all it was a cruise to remember and I would not hesitate to recommend Crystal to anyone. Read Less
Sail Date March 2018
This is our 2nd trip on Journey but our first to NZ and Australia. The ship is an ideal size. Big enough to have plenty of activities and a good selection of dining options but small enough that you hardly ever have to stand in line for ... Read More
This is our 2nd trip on Journey but our first to NZ and Australia. The ship is an ideal size. Big enough to have plenty of activities and a good selection of dining options but small enough that you hardly ever have to stand in line for anything. Both this trip and the last trip we were on, the Adriatic Sea, the service was excellent. The crew is friendly from the cabin stewards to the Captain and other officers. The ship is tastefully decorated - common areas and the cabin. The cabin was roomy enough for our 2 week cruise. There were plenty of areas to relax in - quiet and lively, indoor and outdoors. We especially like that you normally have plenty of time in port, so you can get to know the countries and towns you are visiting. My only small criticism is the excursions seem a bit pricy so we mainly made our own arrangements. I would recommend a broader selection and more competitive pricing. They also were very concerned on making sure we all stayed healthy with hand sanitizer dispensers every where and requiring the staff to only 'fist bump' with the passengers and each other. The service really stands out on Azamara, whether you are in the restaurants, boarding the ship or just having your cabin cleaned. High grades to Azamara and we would recommend them highly. Read Less
Sail Date February 2018
This cruise was a good way to see New Zealand and Australia and Indonesia in a short time. We visited interesting places and particularly enjoyed the Ventures excursions in zodiacs and kayaks and hiking. The ship is spectacular with ... Read More
This cruise was a good way to see New Zealand and Australia and Indonesia in a short time. We visited interesting places and particularly enjoyed the Ventures excursions in zodiacs and kayaks and hiking. The ship is spectacular with excellent speakers and restaurants.The food is varied and really good although it tended to be very salty and more information about fat content and better descriptions on the menu would have been appreciated. Some favourites were the soufflés and the Japanese restaurant. The Thomas Keller was rather disappointing as there was the same menu every time and the portions were enormous.Much too big. The entertainment was superb and all the singers and dancers excellent. Very enjoyable. The only one we were not enthusiastic about was the Piano player at the Thomas Keller. The new Seabourn ship is about to launch and consequently many staff have left for it so there were a lot of staff who did not know what they were doing. The beverage service was really slow and we had often finished breakfast and lunch at the patio before getting a drink.the staff were super friendly but rather disorganized. The cabin attendant was not as efficient as she could have been too and the carpet had stains on it when we boarded. Surely it could have been cleaned? The enrichment lectures we’re mostly interesting and sometimes excellent and it was great to be able to treat children them on the cabin TV. Some of the shore excursions were not very well described and not worth the money but others were really worthwhile.We loved the ventures trips. It was disappointing that we did not have a marina day as we had enjoyed those before but swimming in the ocean was limited due to jellyfish stingers and the weather. Altogether the fitness facilities were severely lacking. A huge amount of space had been devoted to a retreat to bring in more money. This could have been used for yoga or Pilates or running track. We definitely will sail again with Seabourn . Best cruise line we’ve been on. Complaints are just nit picking really. Read Less
Sail Date February 2018
The ship is a significant upgrade over the Odyssey class ships, with the addition of The Grill by Thomas Keller, the Sushi restaurant, an enhancec Seabourn Square, among other things. Although there are a few more guests, it never felt ... Read More
The ship is a significant upgrade over the Odyssey class ships, with the addition of The Grill by Thomas Keller, the Sushi restaurant, an enhancec Seabourn Square, among other things. Although there are a few more guests, it never felt crowded. The food in The Grill and Sushi was great, as were the 3 Thomas Keller family dinners in the Collonade. Otherwise, thevfood was just OK. Our weather was not very good, but overall we still had a nice experience. Our main issues were: 1. Lack of excursions and excursion availability. On the first day after sailing,mwe discovered that almost all of the popular excursions had been pre-sold out, and the customer relations staff were unwilling to add additional excursions despite waiting lstsvof 25-30 passengers, or to help passengers make their own arrangements. We were left to book excursions usingbthe very same onshore operators that thevship used. Most disappointing, we learned that the overland excursion to Queenstown (which was to be the highlght of the cruise) had been cancelled and were given no real explanation as to why. 2. Seabourn has a internet policy that is decidedly not “all inclusive”. Plus, the internet quality is extremely poor. 3. We had a large number of onboard credits, half of which were non-refundable, with half characterized as “redeemable” (i.e. to be credited against our credit card) if not used. When bad weather prevented a stop in the port where we had been able to book the only ship sponsered excurion of our cruise, on the last day before the cruise ended, we were left with no ability to use these credits. In addition, to our surprise, Seabourn continues to refuse to give us back even the full amount of our redeemable credits. So, seabourn has taken for itself $300 or credit that was a gift to us by our travel agent. This was my fifth cruise on Seabourn. I,m not sure if or when I’ll take another of their cruises. Looking forward to a 16-day cruise to South America on Regent Explorer early next year. Read Less
Sail Date February 2018
We chose this cruise for the itinerary - Auckland NZ to Sydney AUS - and over Christmas/New Year's holidays. We've done about 50 cruises in the last 20 years on a number of lines. Most recently we took three cruises on Crystal ... Read More
We chose this cruise for the itinerary - Auckland NZ to Sydney AUS - and over Christmas/New Year's holidays. We've done about 50 cruises in the last 20 years on a number of lines. Most recently we took three cruises on Crystal but began to notice things slipping as they seem to have lost sight of their core cruise business as they have expanded. So we were eager to see what Silversea had to offer. The service aboard the ship is uniformly top-notch. We never encountered anyone who wasn't eager to please and go out of their way to assist. The ports of call were all very interesting and the shore excursions we chose were enjoyable and informative. The ship, while recently updated, is nevertheless showing her age. Furnishings were all current and well-maintained. But it still comes across as somewhat dowdy. We did find the size of the ship to be ideal; it was easy to get anywhere easily. We dined most evenings in the main Restaurant and found the food to be well-prepared and presented. There was a bit of overlap with similar dishes cropping up on several occasions (duck, goose, etc.). The soups were superb. Bread seemed a bit less perfect and the breadsticks on the tables were usually stale. The appetizers were the least inspired - everything is either tartare or carpaccio from meats to vegetables. Nice pastas and vegetarian selections. We also appreciated the fact that the menus were delivered to our suite every evening for the next day's lunch and dinner. Lots of press given to "La Dame” (nee Le Champagne), a Relais & Chateaux specialty restaurant. This was a big disappointment in almost every sense. The service was slow and the asst waiter could not answer any questions about the menu other than to recite what was printed on the menu. Simple questions like is the glaze on the duck breast sweet or savory. Quite odd considering that the menu does not change. The Dover sole was rolled up pieces of sole, overcooked. And the lobster was adrift at sea in a puree of green peas and mint. Perhaps a riff on mushy peas but misbegotten, nonetheless. The wines served were pretty generic - we overheard passengers at a nearby table complaining that they were "supermarket” grade. In general, we found the wines served at every venue in the ship to be less than distinguished. While focused on European and local vintages, they have very little to offer in the way of Californian, South American, African or other wines. After trying virtually everything they brought out, we found ourselves longing for anything with some oomph. We resorted to purchasing wines on several occasions from the Connoisseur's list - and maybe that was the underlying intent. The room service breakfast menu is the most extensive we have ever seen and we enjoyed breakfast in our cabin (Medallion Suite) every morning. Our butler was regular as clockwork with ice and canapes in the afternoon. Our suite was extremely spacious and had an unbelievable amount of storage space in addition to the huge walk-in closet. All in all, this was one of the most enjoyable cruises we have taken - in part due to the itinerary but also to the high level of service we received. We would do Silversea again if the itinerary and schedule were appropriate but I am not certain we would venture to try "La Dame” again. Read Less
Sail Date December 2017
chose the cruise for silver sea reputation and ports of call. too many sea days, some ports of call were a total waste of time. could have stayed longer in main ports, bali and perth. perhaps cost of ports was too high to remain ... Read More
chose the cruise for silver sea reputation and ports of call. too many sea days, some ports of call were a total waste of time. could have stayed longer in main ports, bali and perth. perhaps cost of ports was too high to remain there. would not recommend this ship or ports of call to anyone. excursion director had poor attitude and not professional. restaurants excluding pool area were excellent. staff extremely courteous and professional at all times. some managers need to learn how to deal with issues. ist cruise auckland had many unhappy cruisers, 2nd out of sydney less issues but still management needs to learn how to follow up and deal with customers this ship has aged and needs a facelift. i sailed with silver seas a few years ago and the ship was excellent, time has not been kind to this one. i would not recommend to my friends to sail on this ship. Read Less
Sail Date December 2017
We were on two legs of the cruise that started at the date listed in Auckland and completed in Singapore on 01/21/2018. We wanted to see part of Australia. It's so large you have to go at least two to three times. We added New ... Read More
We were on two legs of the cruise that started at the date listed in Auckland and completed in Singapore on 01/21/2018. We wanted to see part of Australia. It's so large you have to go at least two to three times. We added New Zealand to the itinerary because of travel costs, flights in business class are so high at that duration and distance. We're glad we added New Zealand. The shore excursions ( we planned ourselves ) were so much more enjoyable than Australia's few ports that weren't large beautiful cities. The Silver Shadow is old and needs refurbishment. The food was excellent one day and poor the next, very in consistent. The service was excellent from most individuals and poor from a few. The passengers skew old to very old "cruisee's" if I can make up a work. Too many infirm people and too many sick people coughing with colds. Some times in ports were way too inadequate, most excursions run by the cruise line were simply put, bad. Read Less
Sail Date December 2017
Looking for cruise in warmer location in the winter. Never visited NZ/AUS. Heard good things about Oceania. Liked small ship. Regatta is "Old" but we did not notice any particular defects. We had two ports cancelled due to ... Read More
Looking for cruise in warmer location in the winter. Never visited NZ/AUS. Heard good things about Oceania. Liked small ship. Regatta is "Old" but we did not notice any particular defects. We had two ports cancelled due to stormy weather for safety reasons. Disappointing but beyond control of Oceania. Cost of missed tours was refunded. No mechanical problems that we were aware of. Embarkation went smoothly. We had priority boardung due to cabin location. Fairly large que for concierge class and below at the check in. Rooms onboard not ready until about 1:30 PM. Everyone ends up in the buffet line until room is ready. Cabin air conditioning somewhat loud, but not overpowering. We did not find the electric outlets a problem. All of our plugin equipment worked on 220V. Room came with a Laptop computer. This device is only useful for using the internet. It can't upload any personal files (thumb drive) or save anything like camera downloads. So, bring your own laptop if you need to do any serious work. Overall a positive experience. Would book Oceania again. Read Less
Sail Date December 2017
My wife and I chose Oceania because the company had a good reputation among some of our friends, who are seasoned travelers. We had been satisfied with previous cruise lines, i.e., Crystal, but Oceania had the best travel time for us. Our ... Read More
My wife and I chose Oceania because the company had a good reputation among some of our friends, who are seasoned travelers. We had been satisfied with previous cruise lines, i.e., Crystal, but Oceania had the best travel time for us. Our excitement of seeing the Regatta from the outside gave way to gross disappointment when first taking in the so-called renovated interior. It had a very dated appearance, reminiscent of the first cruise we took 43 years ago. This view was shared by all of our many friends, whom we were fortunate enough to meet on board. Apparently, the other Oceania ships are nicer. That being said, the ship was spotlessly clean. Our stewards were a highlight of the trip and basically served as our private concierges. Otherwise, service was a mixed bag. By in large, it was excellent throughout, but with several glitches. For example, we requested morning coffee in our cabin. The waiters were as nice as could be, yet we often had to call several times because our order had been forgotten. In another instance, a sommelier had total screwed up our bill that we had to stay for an extra 20 minutes till he tried unsuccessfully to straight it out. Many of our friends did not like the food, but we did. Helping size was small but typically we can always ask for more. We are both fish eaters and were astonished to find out that they rarely served fresh fish. As a result frozen lobsters were terrible. We complained to the head chefs in 2 restaurants, who noted that it was company policy? Yet, huge fish markets at most ports. Humm! The speciality restaurants (Polo and Toscano) were hardly special. All fluff with no stuff. Menus did not change. 2 bad entrees there! Indian and Asian buffets were exceptional with legitimate native choices. Wine was good with a large selection and rather inexpensive! Passengers were disappointed that the ship did not dock at Akoroa (Christ Church) and we bypassed Milford Sound, ostensibly because of bad weather. No fault of of the ship unless the captain made a bad choice. The costs of excursions were out of sight and inflexible. We booked only one trip with Oceania for a 10 hour drive along the Great Ocean Road in Geelong. Because my wife wasn’t feeling well, we had to cx, but they would not return money even though there was a waiting list. Shame on them! Fortunately, I had made reservations in all of the other ports with private companies at a fraction of the Oceania cost and greater flexibility We were very pleased with global Viator and local Zealandier. Both were communicative and provided great tour guides. Opting for the WiFi package saved us a lot of money, but the bandwidth was weak and no more than one device can be used at a time. Ancient! Entertainment was good to excellent, even though the showman always catered to an older audience. Enrichment activities were inadequate. The ship needs at least one nationally recognized presenter per cruise. The laundry room was a disaster! Only 3 operating washer-dryers for 600+ passengers. 3 hours to wash underwear in a small hot room with guests who paid a lot of money needing to sit on the floor! Really? The bottom line is that we like cruising will not ever use Oceania. The value is overrated! Read Less
Sail Date December 2017
I was looking for a small ship cruise that would not have children dominating the pool and amenities so my Travel Agent recommended Azamara. Overall my wife and I enjoyed our NZ cruise very much, with superb service, unlimited cabin ... Read More
I was looking for a small ship cruise that would not have children dominating the pool and amenities so my Travel Agent recommended Azamara. Overall my wife and I enjoyed our NZ cruise very much, with superb service, unlimited cabin service, wonderful dining and a quiet veranda cabin we were set. On the down side the bathroom was too small for us and the balcony tight without room for a recliner couch. The ship had gone through a major refurbishment in 2016 (I think) so was immaculate. I would recommend upgrading to a better drinks package if you are a scotch drinker for instance. The basic beer and spirits are as described, very basic with only a choice of two beers. The pool and spa were wonderful with constant waiter service. I cannot express strongly enough the wonderful well trained staff on the Azamara Journey. My wife is sight impaired so her escort by a happy smiling staff member to dinner was always a treat. My only real complaint is the ship does not sell DUTY FREE liquour so buy your booze at the airport during transit or you will be disappointed. Read Less
Sail Date April 2017
Chose this cruise for the itinerary and the fact that it went to Milford Sound. The day we were in Milford Sound was amazing. The normally shrouded in clouds location was bright and sunny and clear, which made viewing of the glaciers, ... Read More
Chose this cruise for the itinerary and the fact that it went to Milford Sound. The day we were in Milford Sound was amazing. The normally shrouded in clouds location was bright and sunny and clear, which made viewing of the glaciers, mountains, waterfalls just spectacular. Oceania does a very good job in many areas. Food is always beautifully presented and delicious. The selections are varied. What we had issues with on this cruise were our cabin location (read below), the VERY SLOW internet, the choice of a couple of ports that were nothing ports when we could have or should have spent an overnight in Sydney or Bribane or Auckland, rather than Eden, Cooktown, which we missed anyway due to rough seas for the tender, and Darwin. Cost of a cocktail with an automatic 18% upcharge is just not right especially when a martini or Cosmo is served in a 1/2 pour baby glass unless you get it in "Martini's" lounge. Staff was outstanding. Entertainment so so. Ship was clean but they were varnishing the stair railings so you had to put up with that smell for most of the cruise. I would take another Oceania cruise as we like their itineraries and the low number of passengers. Everyone we met was well traveled and lovely. There were only 2 children on this cruise and they were on the 180 day around the world cruise. We were only on for a 23 day segment. Read Less
Sail Date February 2017
We chose the Auckland to Bali leg of the Insignia`s world cruise and were very happy with itinerary, Milford sound being a particular delight. The ship`s staff were universally helpful and friendly, the food just about the best of our 20 ... Read More
We chose the Auckland to Bali leg of the Insignia`s world cruise and were very happy with itinerary, Milford sound being a particular delight. The ship`s staff were universally helpful and friendly, the food just about the best of our 20 or so cruises, and the wine package reasonable. Having cruised on the larger Riviera we prefer the latter not least for the more roomy public areas and theatre, the latter on the Insignia suffeing from a petty flat floor and therefore restricted vews. This would have been a 5 star rating if it hadn`t been for three issues : - our package included free wifi - fortunate as this was very limited although one passenger did confirm it was better at 2.00 am in the morning. We were also restricted to only one device at a time meaning constantly switching between my wife and me - it was good to have a shuttle bus service in most ports where necessary, problem was that Oceania chose the low cost povider meaning erratic service with one wait of an hour for a 30 minute service. It was noticeable that the Princess line ship in two ports had a more regular timetable and better buses - and for a lower cost line come to that - were disembarked at Bali at 08.30, at the airport by 09.15 to find our airline desk not open until 16.00 hours resulting in a long wait in a hot airport with limited facilities and no possibility to go to the lounge which we had booked. On other cruises we have had the option to be transferred to a local hotel for the day with regular transfers to the airport, some free and other with a charge which we would have gladly paid. Not the way to end an enjoyable holiday with a long flight in prospect. Read Less
Sail Date February 2017
Our first ever cruise in October, which happened to be on Seabourn, met all of our needs and it made us overcome our fears about crowding and herding on cruises....to the point that we signed up for our second cruise while on board ... Read More
Our first ever cruise in October, which happened to be on Seabourn, met all of our needs and it made us overcome our fears about crowding and herding on cruises....to the point that we signed up for our second cruise while on board Odyssey. Two Seabourn cruises in 5 months on two different ships. We were aware that Encore was a new ship and had only been sailing for 6 weeks or so before we boarded and knew that there could be some growing pains. We booked a Veranda Suite and expected some adjustment as our previous cruise was in an Owners Suite. We can say that we thoroughly enjoyed the cruise from Suite to restaurants to excursions. The only problem that we had was crowding and seating delays in The Restaurant on two nights of the 16 day cruise. Management was well aware of the situation and worked to figure out a way to alleviate the problem for the following cruise. There were many apologies concerning the delay. Our Suite was perfectly comfortable and we were not unhappy with the space as everything was laid out to be very functional. We would book a Veranda Suite again or possible a Penthouse Suite if we needed more space. We really did not need the added space of the Owners Suite. We enjoyed our excursions and the variety of choices. There is something for city lovers, nature lovers and active travelers. We especially enjoyed the Ventures offerings and the knowledgable Ventures Staff. We chose to get out into the countryside for hiking or walking or out on the water in kayaks and zodiacs. We ate in all of the restaurants and enjoyed the variety of food and style. The new Thomas Keller restaurant serves portions that are large enough to share. Good food but too much! Sushi was a nice change for both lunch and dinner on our 16 day cruise. We had breakfast in our Suite most mornings and ordered a light dinner one evening when we had been away for the entire day. Room service was excellent. We enjoyed the 5 sea days....a vacation within the vacation. We have always been independent travelers but we chose the Pre and Post cruise hotel offering for both of our cruises. It made for seamless travel . I doubt we could have put together a better trip to New Zealand and Australia ourselves. We will return to Seabourn for our next cruise. Read Less
Sail Date February 2017
Having taken two earlier cruises with Seabourn, on the Odyssey and the Sojourn, we were excited to sail on the cruise line's latest ship, the 600 passenger Encore. Overall, the experience was great, the crew as always was friendly ... Read More
Having taken two earlier cruises with Seabourn, on the Odyssey and the Sojourn, we were excited to sail on the cruise line's latest ship, the 600 passenger Encore. Overall, the experience was great, the crew as always was friendly and attentive, though we did have some issues with service that we attributed to this being a new ship and new crew. Ship One of our concerns in moving from Seabourn's 450 passenger ships to the larger Encore was crowding. Fortunately, this was almost never an issue. The public spaces like Seabourn Square and the pool area were enlarged, so we almost always able to grab a chair or a chaise lounge. The overall design of the ship is similar to the others in the Seabourn fleet, but classier, with more artwork and more dark woods. Cabin We has a V5 level cabin. As on prior voyages with Seabourn, we found the cabin to be exceptional, offering plenty of space and amenities. Large king size bed, seating area for 4 people, walk in closet, bathroom with two sinks, a shower and a tub - can't ask for more. While the cabin on the Encore was rated as the same size as those on the Odyssey and Sojourn (300 sq ft), we thought the Encore cabin was slightly thinner but longer. And Seabourn had replaced the bleached wood on the Odyssey and Sojourn with cherry. The 50 sq ft, balcony, with a table and two chairs, also got a lot of use. Ports and Shore Excursions Our 16 day cruise encompassed several ports in New Zealand and Australia. This was a great way to see these countries, as the distances between ports would make a land trip challenging. In New Zealand, we visited the big cities of Auckland and Wellington along with several smaller ports - Tauranga, Napier, Picton, Akoroa, Dunedin, and Stewart Island - and a cruise through the Fiorland National Park, including the stunning Milford Sound. All of the ports were interesting. The smaller ports in particular were much better than we had anticipated - each showing off their individual charm. In Australia, we visited Melbourne, Geelong (a suburb of Melbourne) and Sydney. All three stops were great; Sydney in particular deserves its reputation as a great city to visit. We purchased excursions for five ports and each one was excellent, both for what we were able to see as well as for the enthusiastic tour guides. Tauranga - we took the excursion to Hobbiton, about a 30 minute ride from the port. For fans of the movies, this is a must. An outdoor movie set of the Shire. Much larger and more elaborate than expected. Picton - we took the excursion to the vineyards of Marlborough, visiting the Cloudy Bay and Wither Hills wineries. Both stops were great. This excursion also included a stop at a local home with an elaborate English garden, which was well worth the visit. Oban, Stewart Island - we took the excursion that gives you the highlights of the island, which lays south of New Zealand's South Island. Can't say enough good things about Stewart Island. Alot of beauty, not alot of people. Geelong - we took the excursion to the Aboriginal Cultural Center; unstated in the description, we also got an overview of the waterfront and town of Geelong. Both stops were quite instructive. Geelong has a wonderful waterfront dotted with artwork. The Aboriginal Cultural Center was quite informative. Dining The Encore has two new restaurants for Seabourn - The Grill by Thomas Keller and Sushi. Both fell short of delivering an exciting culinary experience. The Grill by Thomas Keller presented dishes created by the famous chef. Having eaten at Per Se in NY and at Bouchon in Beverly Hills, we were excited about what Keller would come up with for Seabourn. While the food was excellent, it was not exciting or daring. Frankly, we missed the tasting menu from Seabourn's Restaurant 2. Sushi offered bento boxes at lunch and sushi at dinner. Being so close to Asia, the limited menu was a disappointment. The Encore's main Restaurant was bigger and more airy than on the older ships. The food, as always, was excellent. Service A word about dining service - at times, especially early in the cruise, it was slow. It seemed as if the kitchen was still getting its sea legs, so to speak. Also, at dinner, if you ordered wine, the wine steward would stop by our table frequently to refill our glasses. But if we ordered water or a soda, we could not get a refill without flagging someone down. Seabourn appears not to have assigned anyone to refill water glasses. Read Less
Sail Date February 2017
My dad was stationed in New Caledonia during WW II and I grew up sorting shells he brought home and later looking at his scrapbooks. I was delighted to see it firsthand. Vanuatu was a bonus and turned out to be a highlight. The shore ... Read More
My dad was stationed in New Caledonia during WW II and I grew up sorting shells he brought home and later looking at his scrapbooks. I was delighted to see it firsthand. Vanuatu was a bonus and turned out to be a highlight. The shore excursions were excellent, especially the ports in Vanuatu. Being exposed to different cultures is important to me and the islands seemed very authentic and much more exotic than I expected. My only criticism was the use of the naturalists. On other cruises we have always enjoyed lectures by professors and experts on the area, that included historians as well as naturalists. Some of the lectures were quite good, others were almost insultingly basic. And there was almost no information given about the history of the islands and their place in the world today. I also would have appreciated more information on the people of the islands from an anthropologic viewpoint. With a couple of exception, the naturalists were not very visible on the excursions, it would have been good to have more direct contact with them. One of the things I appreciated most was the organization on board, you did an excellent job at that, from the lifeboat drills on. The food was quite good in the second floor restaurant, not so much on the 6th floor. But the wait staff was terrific. We also had contact with the medical staff, sadly, but they were very responsive and helpful Read Less
Sail Date February 2017
We sailed on Seabourn a couple of years ago and enjoyed the ship, service and food. This experience was totally different. We booked 32 nights from Auckland to Bali. The ship is beautiful. The Owners Suite, deck nine was large and ... Read More
We sailed on Seabourn a couple of years ago and enjoyed the ship, service and food. This experience was totally different. We booked 32 nights from Auckland to Bali. The ship is beautiful. The Owners Suite, deck nine was large and comfortable. Plenty of closet space. Average sized bath room. The service was sterile. No personal feelings at all from the staff. All but a couple of the wait staff in Colonnade simply walked around in a haze trying to look busy. Only a handful of the staff seemed to recognize us after a month of being with them. Only one waiter ever remembered what we drink in the morning. The majority of them seemed bored. It almost seemed that they hired a group of people off the street and gave them a one week training session. The food was average for any cruise line and much less than satisfactory for a luxury cruise line. The coffee bar on deck seven aft was a nice addition. The Entertainment was not impressive, but at least they tried. All of the shore excursions were over-priced. The one day excursion to the Great Barrier Reef was a miserable experience. They chartered one boat which held about seventy people and filled it to capacity. We arrived at a floating dock and had to change into body suits to protect the skin from jelly fish. It was almost standing room only. Can you picture fifty people all packed into a small enclosed area with swim fins kicking behind, and in a few cases, in front of them. Not pretty. There were many unhappy people on this cruise and most of them were repeat Seabourn cruisers. The only people to receive proper attention were those who have accumulated lots of nights on Seabourn. Read Less
Sail Date February 2017
It was going to places we had never been before and we had never done expeditions before.i It met all our expectations.it was unfortunate that we missed Sandakan and spend so long at sea.likewise the last day in Manila to catch up with ... Read More
It was going to places we had never been before and we had never done expeditions before.i It met all our expectations.it was unfortunate that we missed Sandakan and spend so long at sea.likewise the last day in Manila to catch up with the ship was as you know terrible.Aside from this the meals onboard the service onboard were great.The cabin was very good and the daily cabin person was very helpful.The shore excursions were enjoyable.Those that involved walking for distances in forest terrain should have warned us how undulating it accurately was!! The entertainment by the locals was excellent both on land and on the wharves.Maybe for those of us who not into snorkling more could be done to find better areas for safe swimming.this was our first time with Ponant and it has made us aware of what you have to offer and we will return Not known in NZ Read Less
Sail Date February 2017
Background - My wife and I have cruised 12 times throughout the world. We live in Texas. We pick our cruises based upon the destination and ports. We do not like “days at sea” and we use cruises to see new places, in a short amount of ... Read More
Background - My wife and I have cruised 12 times throughout the world. We live in Texas. We pick our cruises based upon the destination and ports. We do not like “days at sea” and we use cruises to see new places, in a short amount of time. I was looking for a cruise that sailed around New Zealand but I did not want a cruise that crossed the Tasman Sea from Australia. Ponant was the only luxury cruise line that had such an itinerary. The cruise started in Auckland and ended in Milford Sound (and then to Queenstown). Prior to booking this cruise I had never heard of Ponant and the reviews on various sites were not great. Here is my attempt to give more information. Pre and post cruise hotels – We did not buy the Pre or Post cruise hotel options from Ponant. However, we stayed in the same hotels as these packages and arranged our own transportation to/from the ship, at a fraction of the cost. We stayed pre-cruise at the Sofitel Viaduct Harbor in Auckland. This Sofitel is a very nice hotel located right near the harbor area. We were able to take walking tours of the city, the wharf and the museums. Our cab ride to the ship took about 5 minutes. Embarkation – Once we arrived at the ship, within the check-in window of 4 to 5 pm, we were escorted directly to the gangway. We had our photo taken at the entrance to the ship and were handed our cabin card. They did not even ask for a credit card imprint. We were escorted directly to our cabin and our bags arrived almost immediately. This was the easiest embarkation we have ever had. Ship – The L’Austral can hold as many as 250 passengers. On this trip there were approximately 200 passengers and 140 crewmembers. The ship is small but seemed to have very good stabilizers, when we hit rough waters. The ship had a small pool with padded lounge chairs, a fitness center with very nice views, and several viewing decks. In addition, the Captain maintained an “open bridge” policy. If the sign was green on the door to the bridge, you were welcome to come in and watch. The ship is French. The Captain and his direct reports were almost all from France. When the ship would make announcements, the first announcement was in French and the second was in English. About ½ of the passengers were Americans. About ¼ were French. The remaining crewmembers were from all over the world, consistent with every other cruise line. Internet is available throughout the ship at a price per minute. The internet service was very slow and did not work very well, if at all. You would be better off going to cafes on shore and get free internet. Activities and children’s club – The ship had a small library and card room plus a couple of bars fore and aft. We spent most of our daylight hours on shore so we did not participate in any of the activities. The ship had a small children’s area. On our cruise there were zero children on board. Service – Our cabin steward was excellent. Our cabin was very clean and he was very timely. We never came back from a meal or excursion and found him working on the room. Our servers in the dining room were also excellent. They were very friendly and would know us by name. Dining – The ship has two dining areas. The main dining room is on deck #2 and can accommodate all passengers. The dining room on deck #6 always had a buffet set-up for the meals. This dining room could not hold all the passengers so reservations were required. We ate 100% of our dinners in the main dining room. In the main dining room, it was “open” seating. You could sit anywhere you liked. Sometimes we ate with others and sometimes just the 2 of us. Dinner service started at 7:00 each night but often we wouldn’t arrive until 7:30 or 8:00. Not a problem. Breakfast was served buffet-style in both dining rooms although you could also order eggs and omelets, as preferred. The dinners were French cuisine. At each meal you had a choice of 3-4 entrees. You could also order a generic steak, chicken or fish dish also. The only time selection was limited to one entrée was on the Captain Welcome dinner and the Captain’s Gala dinner. For these two dinners, they suggested coats and ties. The entrée was lamb one night and beef filet the 2nd night. There was always a vegetarian option. If you like French food and cuisine, this ship will thrill you. My wife loved the food. Personally, I would have preferred simple meat, potatoes and vegetables. The chocolate desserts were wonderful. Each night 8 lucky guests were able to eat at the Captain’s table. We assumed these “lucky” guests were the high-rollers in the Owners Suites. Much to our surprise, on the 6th night of the cruise, we returned to our 4th level cabin and were invited to eat at the Captain’s Table – What a wonderful man and a very special evening. Cabin – Most of the cabins are balcony cabins. The majority of the cabins are approximately 200 sq. ft., not including the small balcony. As others have mentioned, the toilet is in a small room, by itself. In the next small room is the shower and sink. In the main part of the cabin is the bed and a chair. The balcony has 2 small chairs and a small table. On most ships, we try to book cabins approx. 300 sq. ft. On this ship, that was not an option. You went from the 200’ cabin to the large suites. The cost of the cabins increases slightly as you go higher on the ship but the cabins are the same size whether on 4, 5 or 6. Try to get a cabin in the middle or towards the front for the best ride. On this itinerary, we traveled in a clock-wise direction so you really needed an “odd #” cabin (starboard side). Get “even” (port side) if taking in reverse. Entertainment – I never book a cruise for the entertainment value. This ship had 4 dancers and 2-3 singers. We did not go to any of the main evening performances. The theatre is small but could accommodate all passengers. Ports and excursions – We had $500 of shipboard credit and we used our credit on 2 shore excursions. The cruise line offered 2-3 excursions per port. The excursions were well selected but very pricey. If we did not have the shipboard credit, we probably would have arranged all of our tours ourselves. I have reviewed the ports in more detail in the Port Review section. Here are the highlights: Tauranga – Took a tour to Rotorua arranged via Zealander. We ended-up as the only guests so we got a very personal tour. Saw geysers, Rotorua Lake area, Redwoods, waterfalls, Kiwi farm and Maori show. Napier – Took a Whirlwind Tour arranged with Hawkes Bay Scenic Tours. Once again, we were the only guests so our tour was private. We saw all the sites of Napier and had a wine tasting at Mission winery. Wellington – We rode the Red Cable Car and then did our own walking tour of the city. Picton – This was the first shore excursion booked from the ship. Their vendor was Cougar Tours. We had a boat ride across the harbor and were dropped-off for a guide-led hike along a portion of the Queen Charlotte track. Very nice! Akaroa – We booked the “Swim with Dolphins” from Black Cats. The bay has Hector dolphins. We did see the dolphins but the water was too rough to swim with them. They refunded a portion of our cost. Dunedin – This was the 2nd excursion arranged from the ship. The tour took us, by bus, to the Ortago Peninsula. On this peninsula, we saw nesting Albatrosses, nesting penguins and many very young, baby seals. A great wildlife area! Disembarkation and Queenstown – The cruise ended at Milford Sound. Milford Sound is a beautiful area in the fiords of the South Island. We met the bus at 7:30 which was earlier than we expected from the printed material (which said 9:00). Disembarkation was no problem. The cruise fare included bus service to Queenstown. In Queenstown, we stayed at the St. Moritz hotel. This boutique hotel is located within walking distance to the CBD. Queenstown is a very vibrant area with many adventurous activities. We took the gondola to the top of the mountain and hiked some trails at the top. Summary ---- Overall, we enjoyed this cruise very much. The itinerary was great and I would cruise with Ponant again. In particular, we enjoyed the small size of the ship. Read Less
Sail Date January 2017
Having travelled with Regent seven times before we knew what to expect. No irritating on board charges, signing for drinks or tips - all included. As has been the case on all other Regent cruises the staff were 100% in every respect - ... Read More
Having travelled with Regent seven times before we knew what to expect. No irritating on board charges, signing for drinks or tips - all included. As has been the case on all other Regent cruises the staff were 100% in every respect - attentive, friendly helpful and smart. The restaurant menus are excellent and even more varied. Our cabin which had been refurbished was excellent. The redecorated Compass Rose is lovely - really relaxing. Food at the 11th deck Sette Mari is fabulous - we dined there several times in the 25 days on our cruise segment. The following points for potential improvement must be read in the context that we have already booked our next Regent cruise so they are not 'showstoppers'. Excursions varied - cannot generalise but be careful as to what is chosen - do the homework! Komodo visit - good. Bali overnight - a waste of time and a big disappointment - not Regents fault. However the Bird Garden was worthwhile. Could do with an overnight in Sydney but probably too expensive with Berth fees! The lounges are unchanged and the chairs are uncomfortable but stylish - there could be more consideration to these bearing in mind the age group of the 'regulars'! The cabin balcony chairs could do with an update. Delivery of the main courses and side dishes in Compass Rose could be improved with better coordination. Read Less
Sail Date January 2017
We sailed on the January-February 2017 cruise from Aukland to Singapore. The trip was a very mixed experience, with some parts very enjoyable and others quite disappointing. On the positive side, the cabin stewards did a great job, and ... Read More
We sailed on the January-February 2017 cruise from Aukland to Singapore. The trip was a very mixed experience, with some parts very enjoyable and others quite disappointing. On the positive side, the cabin stewards did a great job, and our stateroom was always neat and orderly. We enjoyed the new menu in the Compass Rose dining room, with a wide variety of items always available and daily specials. The evening variety shows were much improved over those on our previous cruises on Regent. The enrichment lectures given by Terry Bishop were outstanding, and we would certainly look for cruises where he was featured. On the negative side, there were several problems. Regent had clearly not planned an adequate number of shore excursions, and in many ports there were just no free excursions available. Every day seemed to have long lines at the Destination Services desk of people trying to book tours, often with no success. they offered the excuse that the ports we visited did not have an adequate infrastructure to accommodate a ship our size but, in talking with local guides, it seems that they had no problem with much larger ships. Many of us felt that Regent management was just cutting their excursion budget and not booking enough tours. After all, the ports we visited in New Zealand and Australia are major cruise ship ports, and infrastructure should not be a problem. In some ports Regent tried to upsell us to paid tours, but we found better and less expensive tours on our own over the internet. The excursions we were able to get were often disappointing, often with a lot of wasted time when we were dropped off in uninteresting towns with little to do for several hours. Our stateroom was also a disappointment. The Voyager was just recently remodeled, but the work appears to have been of less than top quality. The walls in our room creaked loudly whenever the ship moved. We have been on a fair number of cruises, some on rough seas, and while some movement noise is inevitable on ships this was well beyond the ordinary or acceptable. The ship's maintenance staff was able to mitigate the noise to some extent by putting wooden shims between the walls and the ceiling, but surely better ship construction should have made these types of fixes unnecessary. Also, the ship seemed to have a large number of maintenance problems with the plumbing, with several leaks. Some days we had no water for a while and, when it came on , it was black. The Voyager lounge was closed for a while because of water leaks. Due to the leaks on our deck (7), the carpet outside our room had a mildew odor that penetrated our cabin. We were also disappointed in the specialty restaurants, both with regard to food quality and service. The meat in the steak restaurant was not of the quality we have had on previous Regent cruises and, as the trip was in major beef producing countries, this should have not been the situation. In Chartreuse, the newly named French restaurant, the main dishes were disappointing. And service was so slow, beyond leisurely, that even starting the meal at 6:30 or 7:00 we were not finished in time to get to the 9:30 entertainment on time. As this was a longer cruise we had multiple opportunities in each restaurant, and were consistently disappointed and eventually cancelled reservations as we preferred the main dining room. Finally, when we wrote to Norwegian Cruise Lines management expressing our disappointment and our inability to get the promised shore excursions, it took over a month to get a reply from them. This suggests that customer service is not high on their priority list. Read Less
Sail Date January 2017
We were on the Voyager cruise in January from Auckland to Singapore. Our cabin was on deck 7. We had 3 broken pipes on our deck and times of no hot water, no water and black water. The Voyager lounge was closed for 2 days for another ... Read More
We were on the Voyager cruise in January from Auckland to Singapore. Our cabin was on deck 7. We had 3 broken pipes on our deck and times of no hot water, no water and black water. The Voyager lounge was closed for 2 days for another broken pipe there. The library had buckets on the floor to catch water. The tours were of poor quality and poorly organized and frequently weren't available. Our cabin creaked badly and engineering put wood wedges all along the ceiling to help with the noise. Other passengers had the same problems. I could say things happen and leave it at that but when we wrote corporate of the problems they didn't care enough to respond. For the tours it seemed Regent was trying to get people to pay for tours when the free tours weren't available. On the positive side the new menu at Compass Rose is very nice. Read Less
Sail Date January 2017
This was very our first cruise (25 days) so we have nothing to compare this to. We were accompanied by friends who are experienced travelers - this was their fifth cruise on RSS which was helpful, especially getting adjoining state rooms ... Read More
This was very our first cruise (25 days) so we have nothing to compare this to. We were accompanied by friends who are experienced travelers - this was their fifth cruise on RSS which was helpful, especially getting adjoining state rooms so we could compare notes or decide where to dine. The staff was professional and polite from the moment we boarded in Auckland to disembarking in Singapore. It is difficult to describe the highlights beyond the obvious amazing ports of call. I really enjoyed the parties on the top deck and met some delightful people. We had pre-booked excursions for most of the port days and the staff was so accommodating whether it was my spouse and I or the four of us. Once I swapped an excursion with my friend she could not attend without a problem. I thought I would be bored on "sea days" but was not at all. I took part in fun group activities or did nothing but lounge at the pool deck to read or draw, even watched an occasional movie and felt like it was a good balance of my time. Zay Lynn made sure every wish came true, sometimes without even asking; having the bed made and room cleaned while we ate breakfast with amazing timing, other staff made sure I could get where I wanted to go when I was directionally challenged, the yoga classes were good, massage great, lectures were stimulating and informative. We were able to have a kitchen tour. We enjoyed a variety of foods we'd never had before and ordering specialty drinks was a treat. Our bed was very comfortable and we slept well. My husband has some food restrictions and the staff was great about getting his menu in advance and accommodated him at which ever restaurant we went to. I wish I would list all the names of the excellent staff. Sharing desserts became our tradition and ending our evening with either entertainment or preparing for the next day made this entire trip a dream come true. We would definitely cruise with RSS on another destination. Read Less
Sail Date January 2017
The ship is in excellent shape now that it has aged a bit. The cabins seem smaller than the 242 sq. feet advertised. Oceania is now being cheap with soap and shampoo--not exactly what you expect from a luxury cruise. Other than that, the ... Read More
The ship is in excellent shape now that it has aged a bit. The cabins seem smaller than the 242 sq. feet advertised. Oceania is now being cheap with soap and shampoo--not exactly what you expect from a luxury cruise. Other than that, the cabin steward was efficient. Since this is the 3rd time on the Marina for us, there were no surprises until the last day. The food and service in the specialty restaurants is superb and you can eat there almost every night if you wish. Just phone reservations at 9 AM and you will get a seat. The MDR had a lot better food than last cruise but the service is spotty. Entertainment is a weak point for Oceania. One great show featuring Tahitian dancers the last night was it. Anyone who buys one of Oceania's shore excursions has more money than brains. They were often less well done than ones you arrange through Cruise Critic roll call or by yourself and 4 times the price. Ridiculous. This was my second time in the South Pacific and other than New Zealand, prepare to be hot and humid. Its OK at sea but on land, it is really draining. Oceania's air deviation service was a total rip off. I booked to take off at a cost of an extra $350 for the 2 of us with Air France in the morning. Somehow, even though I had a seat, they were overbooked and was bumped to the flight at midnight I was trying to avoid. Complaining to Oceania's Guest Relations has resulted in no response whatsoever. With the ship overnighting in port, They basically abandoned us to fend for ourselves in 90 degree heat We missed our hotel at LAX and our connection the next morning and with all flights booked for the rest of the day, spent another night in LA. What a terrible end to what had been a nice cruise. Read Less
Sail Date March 2016
Our cruise began in Auckland and finished in our home town of Sydney this was my 4th cruise and my partners first. A first for Azamara for both but my closest taken cruise was with the mother company RCCL. It was port intensive with only ... Read More
Our cruise began in Auckland and finished in our home town of Sydney this was my 4th cruise and my partners first. A first for Azamara for both but my closest taken cruise was with the mother company RCCL. It was port intensive with only 2 full sea days which I thought was fabulous as I don't cruise to just sail about I want to see the new country that I am visiting so good on Azamara for excellent planning. So how did it compare well most of all I would have to say and was far better then on the Rhapsody mainly because of it small size. What made that better everyone was close and friendly the staff seemed to be free to talk to passengers which made the experience so much nicer then on larger ships. It made making friendships so much easier as if you talked one day you could be sure to meet again the next day on larger ships you sometimes never see people again. The food which on ships seems more important then when on land was very good quality the serves were small but when offered so many courses who needs large serves. I personally never had a bad meal. What I will comment is that although I only had one specialty meal I really couldn't see the value Prime C served very similar meals to the main dining and when paying US$25 extra pp I couldn't see enough difference to get me back again. Cleanliness our room was always kept very clean by our cabin staff. The cleaning staff were always cleaning stairways etc and the antibacterial wash was placed in all eateries as well as gangways and shorelines to try to keep all bugs at bay. The first 48hrs no one could serve themselves food until the all clear from medical staff. These measures worked as no one became ill unlike other lines in recent months. The only comment I can make is that windows were not cleaned whilst in port and they were very salt stained making clear vision difficult. I felt maybe this was because they will go into dry dock shortly and the surrounds were rusted so maybe cleaning was not so easy without spreading rust. Entertainment this is what was lacking for me. It came nowhere near RCCL most of the choices made were soloists and they were either lacklustre or not really showcased to their advantage. The production shows were good I enjoyed them as there was colour action and variety. The deck parties were also great for the same reason. I enjoyed both Polynesian performances on board as culture is what travel should be about. The Azamazing Night was a little disappointing for this reason as although I loved the quartet they had the traditional Maori culture could have played a much bigger part. Excursions well I only booked one through the ship they were terribly expensive some 3 times what private parties offer. I don't know why ships do this as if they were more realistic in price you would never look outside for better value I booked 3 outside money lost to Azamara. In fairness to them the one I did do was enjoyable organized well but at least $50 to 60 to much. I did however really want to catch one of NZ trains and the other on offer was plain straight out prohibitive for us because of the price. Room size in a word SMALL ours was the budget inside so I wasn't expecting much but is was even smaller then I imagined I saw inside some of the balcony suites and they were still small compared to RCCL. However I will say if room size is the most important thing for you maybe cruises is not something you should do as I would never spend much time in a room unless ill. Overall I think for the mature market please note I do mean not suitable for families or young Azamara offers a great deal it may seem more expensive to begin with but all is inclusive except excursion. There is no quota on drinks which I understand does happen on some lines. So plenty for all being food or drink. Yes rooms are small but currently there are enough places to sit elsewhere. I think the ship will seem much more 21st Century after the refit so those joining the Journey and soon the Quest will be pleased with what they find. I will recommend this ship to my friends and family and I would love to return in the future. Read Less
Sail Date January 2016
My husband and I just returned from 13 day itinerary New Zealand and Sydney, Australia. We loved the more intimate smaller cruise, enjoying the ship, getting on and off, longer port days all pluses with less passengers. The staff were all ... Read More
My husband and I just returned from 13 day itinerary New Zealand and Sydney, Australia. We loved the more intimate smaller cruise, enjoying the ship, getting on and off, longer port days all pluses with less passengers. The staff were all very accommodating, and kept all public areas and our room extremely clean. The specialty restaurants had more interesting choices, and executed miles above the main dining room. There were always choices for breakfast and lunch, and the grill available in the afternoon worked well for us, especially after returning from tours. It was a shame that our cruise was one of the last before going in to be updated. Luck of booking when we did. I usually book my tour excursions privately and have always found doing it this way saves substantial money. We did use the cruise tour in one port and it was very good, small number of other passengers, great guides. We would definitely book again with Azamara but only if the itinerary interested us. Read Less
Sail Date January 2016

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