66 Auckland Luxury Cruise Reviews

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
Seabourn uses all manner of glorious adjectives to describe their cruises, and on our recent 17-day trip from Auckland to Sydney aboard Odyssey, they came close to their advertising. The ship, which resembles a yacht, is beautiful from the ... Read More
Seabourn uses all manner of glorious adjectives to describe their cruises, and on our recent 17-day trip from Auckland to Sydney aboard Odyssey, they came close to their advertising. The ship, which resembles a yacht, is beautiful from the outside. Inside, it's attractive, easy to get round in, and well-organized. The main dining rooms, with low ceilings, are not as well decorated as one might expect. Other public areas and outside decks are roomy. We were full, with about 450 guests, but we weren't crowded. We seldom waited more than a few seconds for an elevator. We always had space in the whirlpools and access to lounge chairs. The suites, while not huge, are very attractive and comfortable with a sofa, two chairs, a table, a bed, a walk-in closet, a very small dressing stand, and plenty of storage space. The bathrooms include a tub and shower, both small but adequate. The veranda is fine for two people. The ship, constructed in 2009, shows age in a few places but is well maintained. We had cabin 656, a perfect location. The staff, as billed, was friendly and outgoing. Some remember your name as the cruise goes on. Drinks are included in your fare, and waiters were anxious to make sure our glasses were filled. Waiters in the dining rooms were sometimes helpful, other times not. Service at dinner can be slow. The captain spoke to us daily, but if you missed his talk or couldn't hear you were out of luck. The ship should do far better at providing details about the progress of the trip. Announcements over the loud speaker are strictly limited, which is good, but the television system could fill the blanks by providing lots of information for us to access when we want. In fact, the TV was poorly utilized. Information about destinations wasn't always easily available. In Melbourne, we didn't know that hop-on hop-off buses were waiting at the end of the pier. Had we known that, we would have changed our plans for the day. Food, which has been criticized in some past reviews, ranged from good to excellent, sometimes even superb, in our opinion. The wine, also frequently criticized in reviews, was good, although we're well aware it's not $50 a bottle wine. The galley was open for tours and the chief was available to talk to. The fish, steak and pasta were excellent. You pick where and with whom you wish to eat. The main dining room, called The Restaurant, was more formal. The Colonade less so. The Colonade should be a buffet for all three meals, but at dinner it's not and sometimes it can have a rather restricted evening menu. There is also an outdoor patio grill with a limited menu for lunch and dinner, weather permitting. Seabourn touts its dishes by the famous chef Thomas Keller. It's an attempt to offer something unusual and different, and it doesn't always work. We found them to be sometimes interesting and sometimes odd. The ship perhaps should concentrate less on edgy recipes and more on providing consistently superb cuisine. Seabourn does offer a variety of special experiences. One day, on the wharf of a small town,we observed a ship official buying fish from a local fisherman. We were able to talk to both of them. The chef offered passengers several opportunities to accompany him on food-buying trips to local markets. While cruising through a beautiful New Zealand fiord, waiters bought special drinks to passengers gathered on deck. During the Super Bowl, the ship brought a television hookup to the main showroom so anyone could watch, and served a hot dog and hamburger lunch. There were misses, too. Daily newspapers were available electronically for the first half of the cruise, and then disappeared because of unspecified reasons. Shore excursions were overpriced, as on many ships, and sometimes not very well managed. The conclusion of the cruise, in Sydney, was bungled. We stayed overnight on the ship, but our dock was in a distant location well away from the central district of Sydney, the place everyone wanted to go. A free shuttle bus was provided to an entertainment area, but operated in hit-and-miss fashion without staff supervision. For how much we spent on the cruise, we deserved better at the end. Read Less
Sail Date January 2016
Wow, what an amazing lifetime experience for us. Even before we boarded the ship we were notified that we were to be upgraded to a balcony stateroom and this was the icing on the cake. From the time we embarked at Auckland everything ... Read More
Wow, what an amazing lifetime experience for us. Even before we boarded the ship we were notified that we were to be upgraded to a balcony stateroom and this was the icing on the cake. From the time we embarked at Auckland everything was perfect and so professional. We were very quick to board and no waiting around, everything went so smoothly. The staff were very friendly and helpful at all times and nothing too much trouble for them. Our room was spotless and well appointed and thanks must go to Henrick our very fine room service man who was always there to help. Although we had a table reserved at the Britannia Restaurant where the food was great, we always seemed to end up at the Kings Court a buffet syle restaurant where the selection was superb. A special treat on most days at 3.30 p.m. were the devonshire teas where most people seemed to head. The library was very well equipped with lovely books as well. All in all a great memorable trip for us - could not fault it in any way. Maybe in the future sometime we may be fortunate to have a trip on this magnificent ship again. Read Less
Sail Date March 2015
This will be as hard for me to write as it will for Silversea fans to read and I will try to be as objective and fair as possible in my comments. But when you've had an unhappy experience the devil is in the detail so while some of ... Read More
This will be as hard for me to write as it will for Silversea fans to read and I will try to be as objective and fair as possible in my comments. But when you've had an unhappy experience the devil is in the detail so while some of you may think I'm being too harsh or unreasonable and many more will disagree with me I'm going to give my honest opinion from the perspective of a Silversea first timer writing as an experienced cruiser with Crystal, Regent and Seabourn. Our first criteria when choosing a cruise is the itinerary so when I saw this Silversea Auckland-Melbourne trip it seemed ideal and the perfect opportunity to sample Silversea for the first time. These "top four" companies all aim to provide more or less the same product so while they offer a similar overall experience, their differences can make or break our enjoyment. I'm afraid ours was broken. Put simply, this was not a happy ship. That elusive atmosphere of people relaxing, socialising, making new friends and generally having a great time was missing and, apart from a few notable exceptions, too many were aloof, unfriendly, unapproachable and sometimes downright rude. There were impenetrable "cliques" who clearly regarded even a friendly "good morning" as intrusive. The uneasy mood applied to some of the staff and crew too and service seemed slow and disorganised, even chaotic at times. One got the sense they sometimes lacked proper training or supervision so that cheerful "spark" was missing and morale seemed low. The Ship : Clean and well maintained but the drab brown/maroon Art Deco theme makes the interior spaces and public rooms seem dark and enclosed. Any natural light is absorbed by the decor which doesn't help the overall ambiance. This is a matter of personal taste of course but we didn't like it. None of the public rooms were especially appealing or welcoming and there is a marked lack of natural light everywhere. The small, cramped theatre in particular is very gloomy. The artwork, some for sale at ridiculous prices, was uninspiring. Overall 7/10 The suite : Spacious with plenty of storage but again it was rather dark and dreary. Comfortable bed but no clock near it. The flat screen TVs recessed behind the mirrors are a big Minus. Poor visibility and watching yourself watching TV (especially in bed) is extremely distracting. Eeeeek! The remote control was very temperamental and you had to be at exactly the right angle for it to work. Good movie selection but the other news-only channels were limited and boring. Bathroom has a welcome full size tub and roomy separate shower stall with a great overhead cascade shower head and good water pressure. The sink design is impractical and the fiddly tap very annoying. Generous verandah. Overall 7/10 The Staff : Superficially smiling and friendly but they just didn't seem happy and on a couple of occasions were downright surly. Service was woefully slow and/or disorganised sometimes for no apparent reason. One just got the impression there was chaos behind the scenes and they were not pulling together as a "team". We still don't see the point of Butlers and on the rare occasions we needed to call ours it was hit and miss whether he responded. The cruise director, Don Fluke, was practically invisible and we never saw him around and about except during super competitive (as usual!) trivia and MCing the evening show. A good CD should be aware of the general "vibe" among his pax and be proactive in ensuring any problems addressed quickly. He should at least get out there and engage with people. I'm afraid this one wasn't doing that - he just wasn't around, only the occasional voice over the tannoy. Other senior staff and officers were equally elusive compared to others we've known. Overall 7/10 The Passengers : We met some delightful people we now consider friends, but the overall demographic was most definitely Grumpy Senior and trying to even make polite eye contact with many of them was impossible, let alone strike up a conversation. They just didn't want to know. Maybe the rotten weather and rough seas affected their ability to relax and enjoy themselves or maybe they were just snobs but it certainly put a real damper on the whole trip for us. Even when the weather improved, the sour attitude of many pax didn't. Get over yourselves and lighten up people! Overall 5/10 Dining. : the main Restaurant is pretty much what you'd find on any ship like this. Service was efficient enough but slow and it was sometimes difficult to explain special requests, eg, sauce on the side. La Terrazza, complete with traditional intimidating maître d' is the busy but dark and gloomy breakfast buffet and lunch venue and then becomes a booking only Italian restaurant for dinner, very much like the Regent Sette Mari concept. The Pool Grill serves the usual burger-type fare through the day (but no salad buffet) and then offers a Hot Rocks "cook your own" system for dinner, again you have to pre-book. There is no light supper or snack facility in the evening apart from Room Service. I suspect this move away from buffet dining generally is more about strict portion control and cost cutting than what the customers want. We didn't try the specialist restaurant Seishin so can't comment but we were given a surprise booking we hadn't asked for at Le Champagne. We were also given different bookings to those we'd asked for or at different venues to those we thought we'd booked. The whole booking system was a shambles. In any event I was told by a Silversea regular that people book everything they can on day one and then don't bother to turn up or cancel so there seem to be empty tables in "fully booked" venues. The Food. : Very average, and some very obvious cost cutting in evidence everywhere. It just lacked the Wow factor. I don't consider a dollop of tomato ketchup on three semi frozen prawns and watery lettuce a "luxury prawn cocktail", or a few lumps of rubbery Edam a "cheese selection". As for the cold, soggy "classic Silversea burger", I've had better McDonalds. Having said that we aren't foodies and and eating isn't the purpose of cruising for us so while the uninspiring, bland, over-sweet repetitive menus with few choices and meagre portions were disappointing, it wasn't a disaster. We didn't risk the lunchtime sushi which had obviously been prepared well in advance and didn't look especially fresh or appetising (or safe). And a quick question: why do we have to place a special order for simple breakfast toast? Were Noro precautions in place? If so, nobody told us. Wines were limited and average at best and it was very hard to get a straight answer from the sommeliers exactly what choices were available, let alone a real wine list. Overall 6/10 The Entertainment : Competent but predictable and boring. A 10pm start for the production shows is way too late after a long day of busy excursions so we missed most of them. Or maybe we just aren't the party animals we used to be! However, the entertainers in the bars and other more intimate venues were very talented and enjoyable. The enrichment lectures were OK. Overall 7/10 Excursions : We only did a couple but they were well organised and interesting. There seems to be enough flexibility in the system to change/cancel bookings at short notice which is a Plus. Overall 8/10 Casino : We aren't gamblers, didn't use it and so can't comment but it appeared to be closed or practically deserted most of the time. Shops : Large space dedicated to jewellery/watches and a shop selling high end cosmetics, perfumes, handbags and limited clothing. Useful things like basic toiletries, toothpaste, deodorant etc were kept hidden away in a cupboard so you had to ask for assistance. No Silversea merchandise (pens, hats, etc) available as far as I could see. Clothing prices were outrageous, $200+ for a cotton teeshirt anyone? Overall 5/10 And speaking of outrageous, let's talk about the Internet : Various packages available, all expensive. The basic Pay As You Go charge is 50c per minute. This is pure extortion, there's no other word for it in this day and age. The actual system was very unreliable anyway which makes the price even more outrageous. There was no IT assistance available except for 1 hour per day from a bored and distracted crew member who obviously thought he had better things to do. Overall 3/10 Embarkation was a breeze and took 10 mins max. Disembarkation was a 2 hour ordeal caused by bad organisation. Overall 5/10 So, did we have a good trip? Any time spent on a ship is good so in that sense we enjoyed it. The Silver Spirit handles rough seas very comfortably which was just as well because we did have some lumpy weather, although the 2-day crossing of the notorious Tasman Sea was unusually calm. But I'm afraid we were left feeling very disappointed, and yes, ripped off, as were quite a few other pax we managed to strike up a conversation and compare notes with. One couple on the whole LA-LA 64 day round trip were already wondering if they had made a huge and expensive mistake, and another was ready to jump ship well before their final destination. I don't believe we have unrealistic expectations, nor are we picky, high maintenance complainers but if something just isn't right we will say so, especially when we know other cruise lines can do it so much better. Every cruise line has its loyal followers so I'm sure my comments won't be well received by some but after this experience we won't be cruising with Silversea again, no matter how tempting the itinerary. It's back to Seabourn or Regent for us.   Read Less
Sail Date February 2015
My husband and I picked up the Auckland-Melbourne leg of this cruise February 12. Overall, we enjoyed the cruise, though there was room for improvement as noted below. The beautiful scenery of New Zealand and smooth flow of the cruise ... Read More
My husband and I picked up the Auckland-Melbourne leg of this cruise February 12. Overall, we enjoyed the cruise, though there was room for improvement as noted below. The beautiful scenery of New Zealand and smooth flow of the cruise fortunately made up for the mild to moderate service flaws we experienced on this ultraluxury small ship which competes with Regent and Seabourn. PRE-CRUISE: We spent two days prior to the cruise in Auckland . We stayed at the conveniently located Auckland Hilton, right on the pier near where the ship docked, which has a wonderful (though expensive) view restaurant called Fish. We also independently toured excellent wineries and had a gourmet lunch on Waiheke Island the day before the cruise at the fantastic and scenic Mudbrick Restaurant. I recommend allowing at least two full days for touring in and around Auckland as it is a delightful port with many options for half-day or full-day excursions, a good port choice by SS. AMBIENCE: We had been on the Spirit before in May for the Monaco Grand Prix cruise in 2014 (see my separate cruise review from then). As before, the ship was very clean, with nice lines, and is elegantly designed (though I personally do not like a lot of the artwork adorning the walls, e.g., the African works and pop photographs), and appeared well-maintained. It was quiet and nicely air-conditioned in public and private areas. The chairs in the restaurants and lounges are soft and comfortable and public areas are uncrowded. Boarding was easy and pleasant and coming on/off the ship at each port was also easy (other than in Melbourne, where it took a full hour to get off the ship for our excursion). There were many passengers already on board who had boarded in Los Angeles, or earlier, many of whom seemed a bit bored with the cruising they had done to date, but I doubt that is atypical for older passengers on long trips. Passengers seemed to be, for the most part, between the ages of 65 and 75, though some were much older. A few were in wheelchairs, some were stroke victims, some were much younger (or at least young at heart) and some were very healthy and fit appearing. I did not see (or want to see) any small children, though I read on a CC post that the captain’s wife had her well-behaved baby on board with her and on some excursions. This is not really a ship for children. Most passengers appeared to be native English speakers, either North American or British, though there were also Germans, a couple Spaniards, French, and a few Japanese passengers on board (and probably others I did not identify). Passengers were all polite, well-dressed and mostly well-traveled and affluent at varying levels, though some passengers we met seemed to prefer monologues to dialogues. Crew in restaurants and housekeeping and maintenance areas appeared to be primarily Filipino descent, though there was a mix of origins. They spoke English with passengers, and either English or Tagalog or their native languages with each other. The quality of English spoken by basic crew ranged from poor to outstanding (mostly somewhere in between). Crew smiled frequently, though some smiles were forced. Officers were European and spoke excellent English (they also obliged with a very nice bridge tour). The chef is French, from Bordeaux, and an absolute delight, very animated (he led a galley tour and a wine/food demonstration, great fun). He sets high standards for his staff, and told us he requires they take a quiz identifiying passenger names and faces, which are posted on the kitchen walls. FOOD: overall, good to very good, except for room service breakfast (the few times we ordered the latter, we often were delivered the wrong items, hot foods were served cold, or we received comical variants of what we had requested, such as an ultradiluted Tang-like pale pink liquid that was supposed to be OJ, or dry cereal but no milk) Once we ordered a room service “cheese plate” and what appeared was a plate of 10 small pieces of identical brie cheese instead of a variety (quicker to fix the plate that way). Our favorite restaurant for breakfast or lunch buffet was La Terrazza where we could choose from a variety of freshly baked breads, croissants, fruit, cheeses, meats, yoghurt, fruit, egg and sausage dishes, pizza, pasta, sushi, even European style creamed herring. We loved dining outside on the deck (choice of sun or shade). We had one excellent meal (lamb) in Le Champagne. Stars’ small plates, accompanied by a talented jazz singer and pianist, was also very pleasant, interesting. The food in The Restaurant was generally quite good though there were some tasteless pasta-in-red-sauce or rubber fish dishes ( the service was another story, see below). Unfortunately there did not appear to be anywhere to get some quick food of any kind other than through room service between 10 and 11AM, and between 11 and 12PM there is only service on the outside patio deck (not very convenient if you either have an afternoon excursion at 12:30 or 13:00, or the weather is inclement). However, with enough planning, there was never a risk of going hungry! SERVICE: Here is where we had some problems, primarily with the butler and the main dining room wait staff. Our veranda suite was immaculate on arrival and was kept in that condition the whole cruise, as before. The sheets were soft, the towels were soft and thirsty, and nothing was broken (not even the sink and tub stoppers which are often the first to go). There was both a shower and a separate soaking tub and a full supply of several kinds of toiletries, and a pillow menu. The butler did not appear until we had already been checked into our room for several hours (he apologized for being late). Having traveled with SS before, I knew what I would want: I presented him with a modest written list of requests for the room , and reviewed these with him verbally as well to make sure he understood them. It took about three days before we finally got the mini-bar properly stocked, and I took to writing out a day by day request list and leaving it on the bed to avoid confusion between him and housekeeping. On the first day I noted the mattresses on both sides of the bed were quite hard and asked if they could be flipped to the soft side (as had been done on the Silver Cloud for us in the past). Without looking, he said he thought they were already on the soft sides. I asked him to doublecheck when we went to dinner and he said he would. We returned, but there was no comment. The next day I again asked him about the mattresses, and he fired back (inaccurately) that they were already on the soft sides. Eventually my husband and I flipped the mattresses ourselves and found there were indeed softer sides (we can only conclude the butler did not want to bother to look and just made up that we were already on the soft side to save work). As a bonus, when we flipped the mattress, one side had a yellow-discolored mattress cover. There were also incidents where it appeared the butler and his assistant were determined to do things their way, no matter what, even if we did not want them done that way: e.g., they charged into our room despite a Do Not Disturb sign when just an hour before my husband had told the housekeeper that I was seasick and was resting and did not want to be disturbed. They insisted that it is their “policy” to call and if no answer then come into the room even with the sign up if they had not been in earlier in the day (and apparently even if they had just seen us and been told NOT to come in). Another incident showing a mechanical, no-judgment style was one late afternoon, when we had no sign out yet but the room had been serviced earlier. The housekeeper rang the bell and when I opened the door she was standing there holding cotton balls, indicating she wanted to put them into the bathroom. I first told her I did not need any balls, but she insisted on offering them, so I offered to take the few balls from her so I could just close the door. I was tired and did not want or need her coming into the room, but she refused to give them to me, and instead insisted on going with the balls into the bathroom, only to discover that the cottonball container on the high shelf was already full. The main dining room personnel, though sometimes good, often appeared overworked and uninterested in doing anything other than their minimum and there is a lot of “someone else will do this” attitude. They rarely came over to ask how our food was after bringing it. Our first night, we sat over a half hour without even drink offerings. On other nights, personnel would often just come over and start pouring the generic white wine of the evening for everyone if the first person said he wanted white, without asking what others wanted. One evening my husband and I joined a table set for 8, and the waiter came and poured white for everyone and ran off before I could ask for red instead. I tried to catch his eye for 15-20 minutes, but he was busy studying his tablet, not looking up at our table at all. When I finally caught him, I asked to try the red. 10 minutes later, still no wine, so I waved at him at his station when he finally looked up. He immediately knew what I wanted as he then grabbed the red of the day which he’d forgotten to bring. As it was warm, and awful, I again tried to catch his eye, and after more struggles, asked for the Connoisseur’s wine list as I knew where on the list the wine I wanted was and could quickly show him. Three people and 15 minutes later I got the list, and to save time quickly pointed out the bottle of wine I wanted which had the price clearly marked. Instead of taking the order I wanted to give, the waitress ran off, hoping someone else would take the actual order, and another person eventually came. I thought I was finally set, but then instead of bringing the wine, the first waiter came over yet again, after another 10 minutes delay, to show me that there is a price to the wine I wanted, to make sure I would know there is a charge, which was already quite obvious! As I had specifically asked for the Connoisseur’s menu, which has prices marked, I was annoyed that yet another delay was somehow justified to make sure I REALLY knew that I would be paying extra. By the time I finally got the nicer wine, I felt exhausted enough to need a stiff drink instead. Perhaps if I’d been wearing formalwear I’d have had better luck. In general, our perception was it was a long and difficult process on the cruise to order upgraded wine, either in the restaurants or in the room (where no wine menu is available – there is a food menu and a caviar menu but not the Connoisseur’s list, and to get that, you have to call the butler and start the struggles there). We would have ordered a lot more higher quality wine if it were not such a strain to do so each time. Not uncommonly personnel also exhibited a “not my problem” attitude: in La Terrazza, the big, grind-style salt shaker on our table did not work (likely due to trapped moisture). The waiter tried it, no go, and I commented to him that many of the shakers on board did not work, likely due to moisture, so perhaps they could consider adding water absorbing substances (or rice). He managed to extract enough salt for my dish from another shaker that was slighty less impacted, and then took the broken shaker and just stuck it on the next empty table (instead of removing it from the dining room to get the moisture problem fixed). Another time I noticed papers blew off a tray a waiter was carrying on the outside deck , and they looked like they were headed for the sea. Another waiter came by, looked right at the papers, which appeared to be receipts of sort, ,and kept on walking, leaving them on the ground (not his problem, apparently). In contrast, the front desk personnel and cruise/social directors were all friendly and helpful with proper executive function and judgment. The cruise consultant, however, was less friendly (other than in public, such as at the boisterous Venetian welcome), and was not in his office very often. My sense when I inquired about 2016 cruises was that he is tired of his job, or perhaps would prefer to deal with male customers or both man/woman together when they book. SHOWS: a small group of delightful, talented enthusiastic singers did a good job performing everything from ABBA to opera. I went to all but one of their shows (hint: don’t sit in the front row during the Dancing Queen number or you may land up on the stage). There was also a very talented and beautiful classical pianist Van-Anh Ngueyn whose playing moved me to tears. SPA: my husband loved the massages once I convinced him to go try them, and I loved the manicures and the pleasant lady from Latvia (Kristine )who did them (but not the world-beat pounding music that was playing there) EXCURSIONS were overall well-organized, except in Melbourne (1 hour to disembark for a tour). In Tauranga we went on the Volcanic White Island tour by Helicopter, fantastic (I hope to post pictures my husband took)! Ulva Island excursion (off of Stewart Island) is also a not to be missed walk for light to moderate hikers, beautiful and invigorating. Milford Sound was also spectacular, postcard perfect. In sum, we enjoyed the cruise, despite some annoyances, and would consider returning to SS for the right itinerary (though our next two cruises are booked with Seabourn, to test them out and compare). But we do hope that the main dining room waiter and suite personnel training will improve. I hope to post some pictures showing “best of” in the near future.   Read Less
Sail Date February 2015
This was our second cruise but our first Seabourn cruise. We chose this cruise based on the destination and Seaboun's reputation. We were not disappointed in either. We traveled with two other couples, one who had been on Seabourn ... Read More
This was our second cruise but our first Seabourn cruise. We chose this cruise based on the destination and Seaboun's reputation. We were not disappointed in either. We traveled with two other couples, one who had been on Seabourn previously. We found the size and layout of the ship to be excellent. The public areas were comfortable and we always found someplace nice to spend some time both inside and out. We enjoyed all of the bars, however we found the Observation Bar too smoky after dinner. The service throughout the ship was excellent, whether it was help with the internet (which could sometimes be a problem), making shore excursion plans, or future Seabourn travel. Our room Stewardess was delightful. Food - fantastic! The Colonnade breakfasts were everything we could want. We had breakfast in the Restaurant one day and found the service slow. We had room service twice (breakfast and dinner) and found the service and food both good. Dinners in the Restaurant were outstanding. We booked Restaurant 2 for one evening and it was a special experience. The two dinners we had in the Colonnade were excellent as well. The special meals - Chef's Market Lunch and the "Crew on Deck" - were super. Lunches at the Patio Grill were good. Our only complaint was that there is often not enough seating (especially on "Team Trivia" days) and that on the few cold days when Patio Grill was our only option after a late tour, there was no place inside to sit where it was warm. Seabourn does a good job of providing varied activities. The all-inclusive nature of the ship makes it easy to socialize and participate in activities, whether it be the "Block Party", cruising Millford Sound where champagne and drinks are offered, or the early morning entrance into Sydney Harbour with, coffee, tea, juice, and pastries available. The six members of our group enjoyed Team Trivia, Bridge, golf, needlepoint, the magician's demonstration, and the fitness center especially. We only had two complaints about our Seabourn experience, both of which have been expressed to Seabourn. The first is the issue of smoking on the verandas. This was a problem for all of us in our group of six as smoke from a nearby cabin often prevented us from enjoying our verandas. We are aware that other luxury cruise lines have banned smoking on private verandas and we hope Seabourn will address this issue as well. The second problem was inadequate self-service laundry facilities. Four machines for 450 people for a cruise of this length and this distance from most homes was a problem. Many guests traveled before and after the cruise as well. Finding an empty machine was not easy. Overall, this was a wonderful cruise experience and we hope to be back on Seabourn in the near future. Read Less
Sail Date February 2015
First let me say we are in our 50's, I think this is important because a review from someone my age may be very different from someone in their 70's. We are also from the US. We allowed Oceania to make our flight reservations so ... Read More
First let me say we are in our 50's, I think this is important because a review from someone my age may be very different from someone in their 70's. We are also from the US. We allowed Oceania to make our flight reservations so we flew from San Francisco to Auckland (main flight) and the captain had us in Auckland 1 hour earlier than expected. We were on Air New Zealand and I don't have any complaints. We booked Super Shuttle before we left home to get from New Zealand airport to the ship. This was an easy inexpensive way to go. Embarktion in Auckland was a breeze, disembarktion in Papeete was also very easy. We dropped our luggage off at the ship, changed clothes and bought a tour from the information desk right outside the ship. We toured Auckland for the day and we were very impressed, a beautiful city. This is our second Oceania cruise and we had an A4 cabin. We were right down the hall from the lounge so it was great to go to the lounge for coffee every morning. The cabin 9008 was starting to show a little wear with the linens but other than that no complaints with the cabin. Our cabin steward however never introduced herself and didn't tell us how to have our garments pressed for free, we found the cards at the end of the cruise. I honestly had no intention of using the service since it takes 1-2 days but it would have been nice to know. As usual with any cruise line the breakfast gets old very quickly. How about some ethnic foods for breakfast just to mix it up? A couple of nights we weren't all that impressed with dinner in the Terrace Cafe and we never ate dinner in the Grand Dining Room. We went to as many specialty restaurants as possible. We even ran into some crew from the Rivieria in 2013. Maria in Red Ginger is the best. Red Ginger is my favorite restaurant on any ship. Of course the entertainment in the Marina lounge was terrible. I have never read a positive comment about Oceania's entertainment so I can't figure out why they don't do something about the quality. I'm pretty sure entertainers who work on cruise ships don't charge an arm and a leg for their services. The ports of call were great and we booked almost every tour before leaving home. Tauranga was our first stop and we bought a tour from Learning Journeys, Michele was our guide and the tour was incredible. We stopped at a beach, the kiwi shop, the geysers and a Mauori cultural show. Her website is www.learningjourneys.co.nz. We were in a passenger van with a total of 6 passengers I believe. Our second stop was Bay of Islands and we had a tour on a Zodiac style boat with Tango Island Boat Tours. We were the only ones on the tour and it was fantastic. We had him drop us off in Russell then we took the ferry back to the ship. The tour was $260 NZD. Our third stop was New Caldonia we took a boat to Duck Island that we purchased ourselves for maybe $30 USD a piece. The snorkeling was amazing. There is a bar and restaurant there, the chairs and umbrellas were about $15 USD. Bring water shoes to get in the water it is very rocky and lots of coral. Fiji, finally we arrived and it was pouring rain. This was the only excursion we booked thru the ship the river by long boat. As we left the port we left the rain behind. We took a bus to a cultural center enjoyed a show, had lunch and then on to our river boat ride, Fiji time. We took the boat up the river about 40 minutes to a waterfall and swimming hole. The island is so friendly and the people are truly so nice. The next day we were still in Fiji just a different port, Lautoka. We had arranged a tour with others from the ship to Beachcomber Island. The water is spectacular and we had a great time snorkeling and lunching with our group. Again, water shoes are needed here for the rocks near the beach. We did have a small boat take us out to a snorkeling spot. We definitely did not want to leave. Our next stop was Samoa and when we arrived it was raining. We weren't sure what we were going to do but had found out thru the ship's Currents newsletter about Senegal Beach Resort. We called them when we arrived and they had a van picking up other passengers so we got on that van and made the drive to the other side of the island where we had sunshine the entire day and access to the resort for $60USD per person. Our next stop was American Samoa where we took a cab to 2$ beach just past Tisa's and the beach actually cost $5. The beach was larger than the one at Tisa's but had quite a bit of glass on the beach. We just spent the day hanging out and our cab driver picked us back up at the end of the day. After 2 days at sea we finally arrived in Bora Bora. This was the most spectacular port and the scenery does not disappoint. The first day we had a tour with Reef Discovery called Pure Snorkeling. Fabian was our guide for the day and he was great, loved his sense of humor. It was too bad we had to put up with a woman who had a phobia of wearing fins. This was the most spectacular snorkeling we have seen any where in the world. We went to 4 stops and if you like snorkeling book this tour, www.puresnorkeling.com. Fabian has the best office in the world. Our second day in Bora Bora we had a tour with Natura Discovery and did a 4x4 tour in a open air jeep. They do have an option for an enclosed air conditioned car but we didn't see anyone taking that option. This tour was $140 USD for two and Daniel was our guide and he did a spectacular job. He really educated us on the island and how they live. Yes, the tour is bumpy and hot but plenty of stops. We had him drop us off at a beach and caught a shuttle back to the ship. I wish I had thought to rent an over the water bungalow for the night. We met some couples who did spend the night in Bora Bora. Unfortunately we had to leave Bora Bora for Moorea where we rented a roadster for the day. Their website is www.moorea-fun-roadster.com we had so much fun and drove the entire island. We just stopped at beaches, the juice factory and shopped near the roadster shop. We wished the day had been longer. Off to Papeete where it was raining. We got off the ship that night, walked around the food trucks and found out where Avis was DT as we had a car for the next day. Avis DT was close enough to walk from the ship with our luggage. We drove the entire island stopping when we wanted and had a day room at Le Meridian. We arrived at the hotel around 2pm and hit the pool for the rest of the day. We had dinner at the hotel where the food was good and the service was terrible. We headed for the airport at 9:15 and waited for a long time to check in sweating because it is outdoors. We finally got past security where we thought it would be air conditioned but more heat. There was a place open to buy water but they only had one person working with a very long line. All in all it is our favorite cruise and a great part of the world for a cruise. The people are on all of these islands are very friendly and gracious. I was not disappointed in any of the tours we chose and really only disappointed in the entertainment on the ship and the options of food at breakfast. Oceania charges way too much for their shore excursions and transportation, I guess they are catering to those too uncertain to book their own? I would encourage everyone to look into independent excursions that are probably a fourth of the price Oceania charges. The Destination Services staff was wonderful and very accommodating. Another thing they could improve is the selection in the shops, the toiletry selection was very limited especially on over the counter medications. The ladies clothing selection was what I would term old lady along with the purses. Read Less
Sail Date February 2015
I feel compelled to reflect on my recent cruise on Crystal Symphony. It was my first time on this line, my last cruise was with Silversea and I have cruised twice on Paul Gaugin. I boarded in Auckland with no issues as a solo passenger. ... Read More
I feel compelled to reflect on my recent cruise on Crystal Symphony. It was my first time on this line, my last cruise was with Silversea and I have cruised twice on Paul Gaugin. I boarded in Auckland with no issues as a solo passenger. There were lines but these moved quickly. Once on board I had the lunch in the MDR. Pleasant but nothing to rave about and I was aware of a nasty smell in the background. At 3pm the room was ready. My first impression of this entry level room...small, tidy but bland decor and light fittings that are stuck in the eighties. The wardrobe was adequate and there were plenty of hangers! Lovely. The ship had just been in dry dock and some areas are gorgeous eg Palm Court. Other areas are ok but nothing really wowed me. The atmosphere is quiet sophistication and many passengers are repeat customers who wouldn't dream of defecting to another line! Some do not have any basis for comparison ie they haven't set foot on any other ship. The main reason I won't be back is the dining arrangements. I was wait listed when I booked months ahead but was able to change this once onboard. However I did not like these fixed arrangements and you have to dine with the same folk each night basically unless you opt for dining by reservation. I liked Prego and booked for a second time on the last night. I was seated alone to my dismay..this was not enhancing my experience but was rescued by two lovely women beside me. In Silk Road a nasty smell of Lobster was evident. Gentlemen hosts. These are advertised as professional dancer hosts. I didn't think they were all that welcoming and I was the one to ask them how their day had been! Again, most odd I felt. One even corrected me on some dance steps even though I am qualified in Ballroom myself! They were never seated at any table I was on for solo passengers. I did have a problem communicating my need for a hot water bottle for pain in the evening but eventually this was resolved and I was not charged for the heating pad that I used each night. It was brand new also. I used the Spa for massages and the staff were very professional. The Spa waiting area is nothing special at all with only 2 chairs! As well there was only one nail technician for 900 passengers. I could not make an appointment . Debarkation was very good and I was in the car to my Sydney hotel within minutes. Overall the service on the ship is very good but I don't feel I will return because I like to choose when I dine and I like meeting other people each night. Read Less
Sail Date November 2014
Since sailing on the Crystal Symphony I want to sail only with the Crystal Family! I reckon that is why many people have 300 to 500 sailings with her! First of all, the staff. They are so friendly and helpful. Not a sour face in sight. ... Read More
Since sailing on the Crystal Symphony I want to sail only with the Crystal Family! I reckon that is why many people have 300 to 500 sailings with her! First of all, the staff. They are so friendly and helpful. Not a sour face in sight. Your drink of choice is remembered by them and automatically placed in front of you. The nice thing is that everything is included . Tips, drinks etc. The shows ! In 25 nights of sailing on 2 shows were repeated. Wow! In all three Bars there was live music every night. My favourite Thomas, in The Cove! The music at the sail always at the pool was a great idea! Then the talks! What Informative speakers. The dance hosts were available 3x a day! Our days were Jam packed! The cabins were very neat and tidy. The bathrooms adequate. My gripe: get rid of that tub chair and put s stool in it's place! Please! We stayed mid ships on deck 7. Close to everything. Visits to the spa is a must even if you just want to go for a steam or sauna. The shops were a delight as new stock and clothes were continuously introduced. The table for 8'for solo travelers was a great idea. Read Less
Sail Date November 2014
The whole cruise started with a computer problem at check-in. We had to wait 2 hours in the cruise terminal without proper seating abilities and not even a single water, not to speak of Champagne was offered. After check in we had to rush ... Read More
The whole cruise started with a computer problem at check-in. We had to wait 2 hours in the cruise terminal without proper seating abilities and not even a single water, not to speak of Champagne was offered. After check in we had to rush to one restaurant, where people were fighting for space to get a bite of lunch, crazy !! Coming first time into our cabin, the luggage was not there. We had to do the safety drill drill first, returning to our cabin the luggage finally was there after complaining a number of times. The we had 60 minutes for unpacking and getting ready for dinner !!! The next couple of days were nice, pleasant staff and a good service. Then the disaster started. Bad weather, 5 days of heavy storm. Scheduled stops, the main highlights of the cruise, Milford Sound and Stewart Island were cancelled. Tours did not take place, we had lo sty in shelter instead of going to the Fjordlands. No proper explanations by the Captain, no excuses, even during the stormy weather social events, supposed to be a highlight, took place, while a lot of the guests could not leave their cabin. Then three seedays to Melbourne. Suddenly on the evening before arriving in Melbourne we were told at 9.00 p.m., that we would arrive 5 hours late and the visit would have to be shortened. Again no excuse, Seaborn just wanted to catch their schedule where they had arrangement with local tour partners as they did not want to pay cancellation fees to them and us. We were treated like children. Not worthwhile a single dollar spent. we left the ship 4 night early in Melbourne, tired of the service, the communication, changes of trips and a disastrous communication from the Captain and his staff. Never again a cruise with Seabourn !!!!! Go for Chrystal !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!   Read Less
Sail Date January 2014
This cruise was part of a 30 day extravaganza to celebrate a good friends 60th birthday as well as my 65th birthday and 40th anniversary. The core part of the trip was the cruise which was picked due to its itinerary and ... Read More
This cruise was part of a 30 day extravaganza to celebrate a good friends 60th birthday as well as my 65th birthday and 40th anniversary. The core part of the trip was the cruise which was picked due to its itinerary and "Solstice" style ship which meant we could travel "Aquaclass". First we had to get to Auckland from Boston. We decided to break the air flight into pieces and spent one night in LA and then 6 nights in Tahiti (Bora Bora was fantastic). This really made the flying reasonable and we would recommend this approach for all South Pacific cruises. Once we got to Auckland, everything went smoothly in getting on the ship. Our stateroom was 1610 which is on the "Hump". Again I think most readers would like the hump staterooms on this class of ship as they offer a larger balcony and give you some great view forward as the ship sails. We never had a wind problem. Now we have travel on Equinox and Eclipse and found them both lovely so the Solstice felt like being at home. It was immaculate with a familiar very workable layout. We particularly like Aquaclass and eating in "Bleu". It is like your own specialty restaurant without the cover charge (Although I guess you do pay slightly more for the overall cruise). The smaller dining room keeps the noie level down and the friendly service is always appreciated. No request is too small. The "Bleu" staff on the Solstice was outstanding. We did eat in Murano's two nights and the Asian Garden one night. Both offered good service and great food. It was a good variation to Bleu on such a long cruise. Entertainment was exceptional which I am beginning to believe is a Celebrity specialty. Again on almost a 3 week cruise never to have a duplicate entertainer or a bad experience is a credit to whoever puts the entertainment package together. The naturalist "Milos" was great. The cruise highlight were the two "Liars Club" shows. They were just hilarious. The itinerary was awesome. The two countries are very user friendly and the ports we visited we varied and beautiful. So we can highly recommend the itinerary, the cruise line and the "Solstice" class ships. Bora Bora was pretty special too but that's a different review. Read Less
Sail Date January 2013
It has been close to a month since we embarked on our Crystal Symphony Holiday Cruise in Auckland, but the memories of it linger fondly. We thought we would share this review. For ease of reference, we have broken our review down by ... Read More
It has been close to a month since we embarked on our Crystal Symphony Holiday Cruise in Auckland, but the memories of it linger fondly. We thought we would share this review. For ease of reference, we have broken our review down by categories, more or less. 1. Embarkation: Embarkation was a breeze. From the moment we entered the shipyard it took less than three minutes to board the ship and registration under two minutes if that. Efficiently and quickly handled, we were on our way to the MDR for our traditional lunch of Cobb Salad and along the way we saw several familiar and welcoming faces. 2. Computer and Wi-Fi: The folks who staff the Computer University deserve a medal of valor. We were able to set up our iPads quickly to access the WiFi and though I had a bit of difficulty at first due to the demand for WiFi of all of the guests logging in at once, that soon resolved itself. Sadly, we saw several guests over the first week of the cruise who were terribly rude and disrespectful of the CU staff complaining endlessly about the WiFi connectivity and how much better it was on other ships and how it was not like being at home. To their credit the staff was consistently polite (far more than I would have been under like circumstances). Though Crystal makes numerous efforts in its materials to give guests a realistic set of expectations, some just don't get it and the rudeness was appalling. Through it all, though, the staff did their best and kept trying to please and offering suggestions. During the course of the cruise, connectivity was excellent for the most part in both common areas and in our stateroom on the 10th floor. 3. MDR, PREGO and SILK ROAD: The food was consistently excellent. Special ordered foods were prepared precisely as requested. Portion sizes were reasonable and we noted little waste of food or food left on plates at the end of the meal which is a great sign that the food was delicious and also of the desire to not waste food. The selection was always good. Service in the MDR was excellent (Kudos to Celso, Renjith, Hayley and our sommelier Kremena and her assistant Michaelangelo all of whom were top notch!) Service in Prego was outstanding as always and the food scrumptious. Service in Silk Road we found to be a bit intrusive at the wrong times and rushed, especially by the sommelier who looked like he was in a hurry to meet demand for his services. A special note about AI. We did not note any delay in sommelier service at our table for 8. Kremena was seemingly always there when a glass needed filling and extremely knowledgeable about the choice of wines being offered and other options. 4. SHOWS: We enjoyed the shows and especially noted that there was not a single repetition of shows during the cruise. Every night had different entertainment. We did find the decision to have some shows for late seating diners at 7 p.m. to be confusing and as a result missed a show designed by Marvin Hamlisch that we really wanted to see. That being said, the artists brought on board were wonderful and we enjoyed them thoroughly. Our only criticisum would be that we noted that members of the Crystal Ensemble of Singers and Dancers on a couple of occasions took seats in what we woulc consider prime locations in the Galaxy meaning that passengers had to find seats way along the perimeter of the showroom. The same held true on several nights in the Avenue Saloon where an entire side of the room was taken with Crystal Ensemble dancers and singers and passengers had no place to sit. As we soon learned, Mark Farris is one of the hottest tickets on the 7 seas and he could sure use a larger venue to perform but probably the intimacy of the Saloon is what makes him so great among other things like his sense of humor and his musical skills. Special kudos for the great DIVA show which was tops and excellent shows by Will Martin and by Boys in the Band. 5. MAGIC AT SEA: We recall the catty postings about the prospect of Magic at Sea before it launched that we read on these boards. Magic at Sea this time around with Andrew Goldenhersh was a GREAT experience. Andrew is a world class magician and the chance to see him in an intimate setting with 20 passengers was not to be missed. Apparently almost half of those on board concurred as his shows were full and standing room only on some instances we are told. There was nothing but class and quality in his act. Best of all, he involved willing passengers and each attendee was within a few feet of him as he performed complex effects with great finesse. Furthermore, the tickets we each received to use in the future to get access to the World Famous Magic Castle pribate club in Los Angeles were an added bonus. Being one of the hardest tickets in Los Angeles to get (you either have to be a member of the Academy of Magical Arts or know a member to get in the door), getting a free pass to get in at some time in the future was icing on the cake. We hope Crystal keeps this program going. 6. USC CINEMA SCHOOL IPAD IMOVIE CLASSES: Dave attended this class and loved it. The instructors Claudia and David from USC School of Cinema were wonderful, patient and helpful. Both spent extra time outside of the class time with Dave helping him learn how to use the iMovie program. The written materials and the hands on help which were provided were stellar. Dave intends to take the class again when he is next onboard to refine his knowledge of the program. Having two left hands when it comes to this type of technology, Dave really found the classes great and the instructors patient and easy to learn from for which he is grateful. 7. SPA AND GYM: We both had spa services and used Brian to train us privately in the gym. The spa was lovely though smaller than the Serenity. Brian was simply fantastic. He was encouraging, put us through quite a work out each time, and very positive. He is clearly knowledgeable about personal fitness and health and we cannot wait to be back on board to train with him again. Dave tried his first spinning class with Brian and found it to be very challenging. Brian was encouraging and Dave will definitely do it again thanks to Brian's kind words and feedback. 8. SMOKING: We spent less than 10 minutes in the entire cruise at the Crystal Cove. The smoke was overpowering. Similarly we found ourselves having to leave the Avenue Saloon a few times due to smoking. We realize that smoking in those venues is soon to be a thing of the past and are sure that the performers and workers in those venues cannot wait for that day to come on both ships. We did not note a lot of smokers on the Lido deck, but then again we did not go looking for them. We did note a fair amount of Crystal employees smoking at the fore of the ship and imagine a smoking ban might really impact them more than one might have thought. 9. FORMAL NIGHTS: Call us old fashioned but being in our late 50's--early 60's we do still enjoy formal nights. It is a hassle to bring all of the items required for formal dress but we are always glad we did so. We noted that folks looked very nice on those nights and even on informal nights too. We did not see more than one instance of what might be considered inappropriate attire in the MDR at dinner. We hope Crystal will maintain the Formal Nights on the cruises. 10. ALL INCLUSIVE: Being that we are not big drinkers, free and unlimited alcohol held no allure for us. That being said, we only noted one instance in the Avenue Saloon where a woman was sleeping with her head in her husband's lap during one of Mark's shows. We do not know if that was excess alcohol or fatigue but it struck us that if she was that sleepy, she should have gone up to her room. We also, as is our custom, provided gifts to some of the folks who served us for XMAS and extra gratuities especially for our butler, room stewardess, Senior Waiter, Head Waiter, Assistant Waiter, Lido and Gym personnel and a few other folks all of whom looked surprised to receive anything and were very appreciative. COnsistently during our cruise we noted smiling and happy faces among the crew. Not once did we encounter a rude or sour or unhappy crew member. 11. CONCIERGE SERVICES: We need to express our thanks publically to Gareth and Patrick at the concierge desk for their excellent assistance. They promptly and very skillfully handled multiple arrangements for us and kept us informed of their progress and confirmed everything in writing. They are the very best at what they do and very personable to boot. 12: SHORE EXCURSIONS: We enjoyed the shore excursions and only wished that perhaps a few more culinary excursions or cooking experiences could have been arranged. And we were sorry to have missed the chance to bike around Napier but did enjoy that Art Deco tour in the old Packard auto with Tony! 13. LIDO DECK: Having sailed on both Crystal ships we cannot help but compare our last cruise on the Serenity in March 2012 with this holiday cruise. The difference was most noticeable on the Lido Deck. On the Serenity (before they went AI), we were constantly asked by Lido crew if we wanted any food or drinks. We found on this cruise that we were asked about drinks from time to time, but outside of the late risers breakfast service, the solicitation of our food and beverage desires was more sporadic. It seemed like there were fewer crew on the Lido deck during lunch and afternoon than we were accustomed to. Still, the guys who approached us and helped us were wonderful and the burgers and ice cream can't be beat! 14. OUR PENTHOUSE: We've sailed both ships before and the highlight of the cruises starts when we are greeted by our dear butler IGOR BABICK who makes each sailing a special joy. He and Sheetal our stewardess made sure we had everything we needed and were charming to deal with. We cannot say enough about our cabin crew and how wonderful they are. The room is a bit smaller than on the Serenity and there is less drawer space, but when IGOR enters the room and greets us, the space is just right. 15. NEW YEARS EVE: Crystal outdid themselves for New Year's Eve. Yes second seating dinner was a bit harried, but the views and location of the catamaran near the Sydney Harbor Bridge was the best seat bar none and we were front and center. We will NEVER forget the wonders of 12/31/12 and ringing in the new year in Sydney Harbor. We doubt Crystal could ever top that excursion though we suspect that they will continue to try to do so in coming years. 16. REMI AND OUR DINING ROOM TABLEMATES: As always we asked for a late seating and a table of 8. Remi, ever the magician, put together an absolutely splendid table of dinner mates for us. We enjoyed every dinner together, periodically becoming so lost in the conversation and laughter that we practically were the last ones out of the MDR at night. We do not know how he does it, but it is a special skill. We had such a great time that we have all agreed to sail on the Northern Cape July 2014 voyage together and to request the same table and table mates again. We know we'll keep in touch with Mary, Fran, Lyn, Nancy, Cathy and Ernie and see them from time to time if our travels permit either here where we live or in their home towns and we can't wait. 17. COMPLAINTS: Aside from our observation about crew taking prime seats at some entertainment venues, we only have one other complaint and it is one which Crystal cannot do much about. As we expected, a holiday cruise has children on it and sadly, some of the children onboard had parents who were not attentive to their children's behaviors or chose to ignore it. Running up and down the hallways, playing in the elevator, trying to glide down the bannisters and running around on the dance floors was hardly appropriate conduct. We noted young children teetering on bar stools near the ice cream bar, picking through the cookies in the box there and putting cookies back that they had touched. We heard of children pushing doorbells late at night at certain staterooms. As noted above, sadly, some folks do not know how to behave and therefore do not teach their children about appropriate behavior on the ship. Again we do not fault Crystal for that and we did note several families with extremely well behaved children. Finally, as we have found to be consistently true, we ended our cruise longing to stay longer and realizing that we simply had to wait until our next cruise comes around (in a mere 130 or so days). We left the ship feeling so relaxed and having seen such marvelous places and sights, and having made some wonderful new friends and acquaintances and concluded, as we always do, that there is simply nothing better than a Crystal cruise. Read Less
Sail Date December 2012
Setting foot on all seven continents was on our "bucket list" and only one continent remained to be conquered, Australia. So my husband and I booked passage on Oceania's "Coral Seas and Australian Adventures" - a ... Read More
Setting foot on all seven continents was on our "bucket list" and only one continent remained to be conquered, Australia. So my husband and I booked passage on Oceania's "Coral Seas and Australian Adventures" - a twenty-one day cruise to New Zealand, Tonga, Fiji, New Caledonia, and Australia aboard Oceania's Regatta. Getting There & Embarkation Our air arrangements were made by Oceania. We had a non-stop flight from San Francisco to Auckland on Air New Zealand. What can I say, twelve hours of cramped quarters, inedible food, and stale air. This of course is no fault of Oceania. Long-haul air travel for the serfs in economy class is usually miserable. We arrived in Auckland at 4:15 am. After clearing immigration and customs we were met by representatives of Oceania. Oceania had arranged to take us to the Pullman Hotel where a much-appreciated buffet breakfast awaited us. After breakfast we waited in the hotel's lobby until about 11:00 am, when we were bussed to Princes Wharf and our waiting vessel. The Regatta makes a beautiful first impression. She is much smaller than today's popular mega-ships. She actually looks like a ship and not like a top-heavy barge with a high-rise hotel grafted onto her. Regatta is graceful, gleaming white, and ready to take on the sea. Getting on board is another story. With only 684 passengers embarkation shouldn't be too difficult. Our cruise documents indicated that Oceania assigns staggered boarding times to avoid long lines. This was not the case. It seemed as though all the passengers arrived at once. We were herded like cattle from one long line to another. Stateroom We chose stateroom 6001, a standard veranda stateroom all the way forward. If you enjoy the pitch and roll of a ship at sea this stateroom will not disappoint. Stateroom 6001 is located directly above the Regatta Lounge so you can definitely hear the muffled drone of the band playing until about 10:30pm. The balcony looks down on the forecastle so you see the crew on deck every morning getting the ship ready to dock. You pretty much have the view the captain does two decks up. The stateroom was small, but comfortable with plenty of storage and a nice little sitting area with a loveseat, table, and vanity. The bed was marvelous, good support yet soft and comfy. The bathroom was the usual cruise ship facility, compact and efficient. Our stateroom stewardess did an excellent job of keeping our stateroom spotlessly clean and our refrigerator stocked with our favorite beverages. Dining Oceania has a well-earned reputation for excellent cuisine. Main Dining Room - The dining on the Regatta is open seating. There are no table assignments or assigned dining times. This was our first experience with open dining and we were both a little skeptical. We have always enjoyed getting to know our dinner companions. I guess we have been fortunate to have wonderful tablemates for all of our previous cruises. We like the opportunity to get to know people over the course of a cruise. We also like having the same waiter each evening. It's nice to have a waiter who knows what you like and how you like it prepared. After this cruise I may be sold on open dining. My husband is still on the fence. I appreciated the option to share a table when we wanted company or to have a quiet table for just the two of us. We got to know more of our fellow passengers than we would have had we dined each night with the same people. If we were running late from a shore excursion we could take time to recuperate and prepare for dinner without the pressure of a set dining time. The dinner menu in the main dining room is continental with a definite French accent. The food was well prepared and beautifully presented, but after about a week of fine dining I found myself craving a simple meal. The herb-roasted chicken on the every day menu was just what I needed. Order it with mashed potatoes and green beans and you have an uncomplicated and satisfying meal. On sea days we enjoyed leisurely breakfasts in the main dining room. I highly recommend the lamb chops for breakfast. Toscano - Toscano is one of two specialty restaurants. We ate in Toscano three times. All three meals were excellent. The experience begins with a basket of warm Italian breads, including grissini and facaccia. You are offered a selection of flavored olive oils and balsamic vinegars for dipping. The Osso Bucco was fall-off-the-bone perfection served with a creamy and satisfying polenta. Polo Grill - My husband is a meat and potatoes kind of guy so the Polo Grill is right up his alley. Polo Grill serves up great steaks and chops. Dinner at Polo conjures up the atmosphere of the great supper clubs of the mid-twentieth century with its dark wood paneling, leather club chairs, and celebrity photos on the walls. You half expect the "Rat Pack" to walk in at any time. So if you are craving cool martinis, rare steaks, flavorful chops, Caesar salad prepared tableside, and great New York cheesecake, Polo Grill is a must. There are no surcharges for dining in the specialty restaurants, but reservations are required. You will be allowed a certain number of guaranteed reservations depending on your stateroom category. Waves - Waves is located on the pool deck and serves up hot dogs, hamburgers, gourmet sandwiches, and salads along with great crispy fries and creamy milk shakes. Waves is a great place for a quick lunch. Horizons - The window-lined Horizons Lounge is all the way forward on deck 10. Warm wood paneling, richly textured fabrics, small tables, comfy chairs, and tufted leather banquettes create a beautiful place to sit and watch the world go by. From early morning to 11:00 am cruisers will find fresh Danish, croissants and brioche along with coffee, juice, and a selection of teas. High Tea is served at 4:00 pm in this lounge and is not to be missed. There is something far too civilized about sitting in a beautiful room noshing on perfect little teacakes, savory tea sandwiches, and fresh scones with clotted cream and strawberry jam, as you watch the sea roll by. All of this is set to music of a lovely string quartet. Terrace Cafe - This is the buffet restaurant on the regatta. The food and the service are good. The tables are a little too close together and often scarce. Fellow Passengers Without a doubt the passengers on the Regatta were the most well travelled, interesting and diverse group of travelling companions we have had the pleasure to sail with. The majority of passengers were in the 65 to 75 age range. There were only two children on board. Kudos to the parents. The youngsters were very well behaved. Oceania really doesn't cater to children. There are no programs for children, teen nightclub, or daycare. I understand Oceania is attempting to attract families on their Alaska cruises by offering activities for the younger set. Ports & Shore Excursions The Destination Services department onboard the Regatta did a very good job booking and coordinating shore excursions considering many of the places we visited were not quite ready to accommodate modern tourism. Tauranga, New Zealand - We booked the "Tauranga & Maori Culture" tour. This was a wonderful experience. The excursion began with a scenic drive to a Maori meetinghouse and community center. There was a beautiful performance by the community's dance troupe. Fortunately, this was a not a glitzy "dance for the tourists" event. The tour guides and dancers were all members of the Maori community and very eager to share their culture. I was struck by how personal and warm the tour was. This shore excursion gave me a deeper understanding and appreciation for this rich and fascinating culture. Nuku'alofa, Tonga - The Kingdom of Tonga is working hard to develop its tourist industry. They are planning to build a cruise ship terminal. Currently, ships may dock at the freight terminal or tender in. The Regatta docked in the morning, but the conditions at the dock were so poor the ship moved and anchored in the bay. We chose the "Oholei Beach & Hina Cave" shore excursion. There were no air-conditioned tourist busses available at this port so we used school busses for the trip to Oholei Beach. Oholei Beach is an absolutely gorgeous white sand beach. The excursion included a traditional Tongan lunch and a dance performance in Hina Cave. I must admit that my palate didn't appreciate Tongan cuisine. I did enjoy the musical entertainment provided by the band both before and during lunch. The dance presentation was very good. Warning: In order to get to the beach and other facilities you must negotiate a very steep path and staircase. The facilities on this excursion were rustic to primitive. If you have mobility concerns this shore excursion may not be for you. Suva, Fiji - We enjoyed an excursion to the Pacific Cultural Center. The excursion begins with a scenic drive through the countryside, again, no air conditioning. The tour includes a dance and cultural performance including a demonstration by the Fijian Firewalkers. Noumea, New Caledonia - Noumea is a sophisticated pacific paradise with a French accent. We boarded the cute and very touristy "Yellow Tchou Tchou Train" for a two-hour tour of the city's highlights. This is a fun way to get your bearings and see all the major scenic attractions. The train will drop you in the center of the city where you can shop to your heart's content. Oceania provides a free shuttle to and from the city center and the ship all day long so it is very convenient to explore Noumea. Townsville, Australia - In Townsville we took the "Charters Towers Gold Rush" excursion. This is an all-day trip and the only excursion going through the outback. We had a great local guide who gave us interesting insights into Australia's past and present. The city of Charter Towers reminded me of the gold rush towns in the Sierra foothills of California. The architecture is well preserved and there is a charming 19th century frontier sensibility. After an enjoyable lunch in a local restaurant we went on to the Venus Battery gold mine. My husband took the tour of the battery and said it was very informative and a great look at the gold mining industry in Australia. Brisbane, Australia - Oceania provided a free shuttle from to and from the port and the city. Once we were in the city we discovered a great hop-on, hop-off bus. We toured the entire city for about $46 AUD. Brisbane was clean and friendly with many great places to shop and eat lunch. Entertainment The regatta is a small ship. The Regatta Lounge has a small stage area and minimal technical capabilities. The glitzy Broadway shows of the big ships simply can't be done in this venue. Frankly, I didn't miss the big production shows. The Regatta had a resident cast of four immensely enjoyable and versatile singer/dancers, as well as a first-rate string quartet, and an excellent pianist. Oceania also booked in variety acts for a night or two. If you enjoy entertainment on the more cerebral side, Oceania booked two lecturers on our cruise. Both of these gentlemen gave interesting and entertaining presentations. If entertainment for you is curling up with a good book, the Regatta provides a beautifully appointed and well-stocked library. My only complaint was that the chairs were so comfortable I kept falling asleep while reading. Disembarkation The Regatta sailed into Sydney Harbour at the crack of dawn. The Sydney Cruise passenger terminal is located near the Opera House and Ferry Terminal with a great view of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Disembarkation was swift, efficient and well organized. This was our first cruise with Oceania and we hope it will not be our last. We prefer small ships with interesting itineraries and we enjoy the feel of being on a ship at sea. We appreciate great food, attentive service, and gracious manners. Our cruise on the Regatta gave us everything we had hoped for and more. Read Less
Sail Date March 2012
I think this cruise was about as good as it gets. Here are some specifics: -Our "penthouse suite" (category B) was very comfortable and we were impressed with the walk in closet. We upgraded a couple of weeks before the cruise ... Read More
I think this cruise was about as good as it gets. Here are some specifics: -Our "penthouse suite" (category B) was very comfortable and we were impressed with the walk in closet. We upgraded a couple of weeks before the cruise from a lower category because we were offered a half price deal. However, Our cabin was the same size as the lower categories and the only real difference was butler service. As far as I could tell, the butler's primary function was to bring us six shrimp every afternoon--very good but not work $15 each ($1500 for the upgrade for 15 days). -The ship was spotless, well maintained and had great facilities. Smoking was limited to very few areas and was not an issue (one reason we chose Regent over Silversea was because Silversea permits smoking throughout the ship and, based on my conversations with them, has no plans to change this outmoded policy). -The restaurants were excellent. Compass Rose, the main dining room, provided great service and excellent food despite the number of passengers being served. The speciality restaurants--Prime 7 and Signatures--would be considered excellent on land. There was no upcharge for the restaurants or for any dish on the menu, which was great. We also enjoyed the buffet lunch by the pool and the fact the it had a different theme every day. -Entertainment was variable, fair to excellent. The classical pianist was great. The singers and dancers were very good, although the lead male singer was frequently off key. The lead female singer was great. Some of the other entertainers--an electric guitarist and a flautist--were OK.-Ports and shore excursions: We enjoyed most of them. Things were well organized so there were not long lines for leaving the ship and boarding buses. Guides were excellent. Meals on shore excursions were surprisingly upscale, considering that we did not pay extra for the excursions. -People: Our fellow passengers were well behaved and extremely friendly. We met many new friends very easily. -Staff: Regent obviously trains its people to interact with customers very well. Every employee had a smile and a greeting in the hallway, the restaurant, etc. Many employees knew our names after the first day. Service in the restaurants was so good that we had difficulty adjusting to restaurants on land. We enjoyed the captain, who had a great sense of humor and seemed to enjoy interacting with passengers. -My only criticism pertains to pre cruise details. Our names, along with the names of many other passengers, were not on the transfer list when we arrived at the Auckland airport. Fortunately, this wasn't a big deal as they put us on a hotel bus anyway. At the hotel were given a welcome letter that made no sense (it had details on transfers back to Auckland airport when we were not going back to the airport and talked about a city tour on the day after the Voyager was due to depart with us on it. Turns out there was a city tour on another day which were were supposed to be invited to, but we were not and missed the tour. One of the Regent agents at our hotel in Auckland was very unpleasant, causing us to have a bad first impression of Regent. Fortunately, that changed when we boarded the ship. Finally, getting from the hotel to the ship was chaotic. We were told to be in the hotel lobby at 11 AM, so a big crowd assembled there. We waited nearly two hours for the bus to the ship and it was very unpleasant. We were provided with no information. It seemed unnecessary to make us stand around in a densely packed hotel lobby for this long. Looking at these criticisms in context, however, the positives far outweigh these few negatives. Overall,it was an excellent cruise and Regent did a great job. Read Less
Sail Date February 2012
GETTING TO NZ: We flew to Auckland a week early on Air New Zealand using Regent's upgrade to Business Class for $999. It was worth every penny. Being able to sleep for nearly 8 hours was terrific. I tried and tried but could not find ... Read More
GETTING TO NZ: We flew to Auckland a week early on Air New Zealand using Regent's upgrade to Business Class for $999. It was worth every penny. Being able to sleep for nearly 8 hours was terrific. I tried and tried but could not find a better deal on the net.The business class seats are a bit tight on shoulder room if you are a big guy. We spent a week touring the wineries of the North Island (if you do this do not miss Lime Rock Wines in Central Hawke's Bay--best pinot noir of the trip) We spent the night before the cruise at the Hilton at the wharf. A bit pricey but the porters will take you luggage to the ship. We had dinner with 10 other Cruise Critic members the night before the cruise in White the upscale restaurant in the Hilton. Nice, very nice. EMBARCATION: Lousy but not Regent's fault. Everyone showed up around noon (instead of the listed 3pm time) and the NZ customs folks were understaffed and had computers not working properly. Spent over an hour in a room overfilled with fellow guests. Once on board it went smoothly. ON BOARD-lovely cabin (but smaller and not as well laid out as the Voyager.) Ronald, our cabin steward was the best we have ever had. Crew was very friendly and helpful. Food was always at least very good-often excellent. They would go out of their way to accommodate requests. Once I remarked to the head waiter that I loved Philippines food. He offered to have ponsit for me for lunch the next day--it was excellent. The entertainers were more than happy to sit and have a drink with you. I dined with the comedian and the violist. We got to know the Celebrity singers who were talented and friendly. If you were nice, the crew responded in kind.   My only complaint is about the pool. On the Voyage there is a staircase that leads into the water. On this ship there is only a vertical ladder with an extra large step at the top. For those of us with bad knees and/or ankles, it is quite difficult. The wine lecturer, a prof. from Cornell, was superb! Read Less
Sail Date December 2009
We arrived in Auckland the day before the cruise. We flew Air New Zealand using Regent's air program and the $999 business class upgrade, which was a steal for a flight from SFO to Auckland. We stayed at the Westin, which was not far ... Read More
We arrived in Auckland the day before the cruise. We flew Air New Zealand using Regent's air program and the $999 business class upgrade, which was a steal for a flight from SFO to Auckland. We stayed at the Westin, which was not far from the Port and was quite lovely. Embarkation was a little rough, but this was due to the fact they had only one customs agent at the Port. Once a second one showed up, the line moved fairly quickly. We boarded, went to La Veranda and had some lunch and then went to our suite, a Horizon Suite on Deck 7. CABIN The Horizon suite is a wonderful suite. The living room is separated from the bedroom, and the room has an enormous walk-in closet. The lines were Anichini; the beds had pillow-top mattresses and were amazingly comfortable. Two flat screen televisions, an iPod dock, a small safe, both Regent and Hermes bath products in the bathroom. We had the shower only setup, but the shower was large and fine for us. The balcony for the Horizon Suites on deck 7 are 175 sq ft, but it was still very large with a two seat couch, two separate chairs, and coffee table and a large table for dining. The room gets an A. DINING Open seating dining in Compass Rose and reservations required for Signatures (Le Cordon Bleu French) and Prime 7 (steak house). La Veranda was the most casual with a la carte ordering but also an antipasto buffet and desert buffet. Food fairly good across the board but we preferred Signatures. Many passengers seemed to love Prime 7. Service a bit slow at times in main dining room, but not awful. PORTS The most amazing ports were Bora Bora, Moorea, and Rarotonga, especially for those who like snorkeling. We snorkeled in all of these via Regents included excursions, and the excursions were all really good. A lot of passengers did not book the free excursions prior to sailing and then found very little was available. There was much complaining about this, but we had booked our months before the sailing. The least wonderful port was Papeete on the main island of Tahiti. We arrived there at 9:00pm and departed the next day around 3 pm. Snorkeling here was okay, but there was little time to look around. That said, many passengers were grumbling about how rundown Papeete was. ACTIVITIES There were a lot of sea days on this trip, and I worried before sailing I might be bored out of my mind. That said, Regent did a fantastic job scheduling lectures, classes, and other activities on these days. The sea days were wonderful, better than I expected. OVERALL This was an amazing cruise, and we met many passengers who had done this exact cruise on this exact ship several times previously! I would do it again but next year a different ship and itinerary will be used. There has been some grumbling on-line about fall off in service, but I only had one poor service experience with one server at dinner. I had not sailed Regent before, but I will definitely be sailing them again. The Seven Seas Mariner is a lovely ship, well-maintained, with good food, consistently good service throughout the sailing, and wonderful crew that smiles and addresses you every time they see you. Read Less
Sail Date December 2009

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