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2 Australia & New Zealand River Cruise Reviews

We booked the four night cruise on the Murray River Princess and travelled with my husband, my sister and our elderly mum. Hubby and I booked the Stateroom as we were after a bit more luxury. It had been recently refurbished with very ... Read More
We booked the four night cruise on the Murray River Princess and travelled with my husband, my sister and our elderly mum. Hubby and I booked the Stateroom as we were after a bit more luxury. It had been recently refurbished with very nice decor, including the bathroom. The Stateroom features a coffee/tea station which most cabins do not. I did think that given it's supposed to be a more luxury option, they might have supplied at least plunger coffee or a coffee pod machine so that was a bit of a disappointment given that most people these days have a coffee machine at home and have moved passed instant coffee. My sister and Mum shared a disabled cabin which is yet to be renovated and is in need of an overhaul. The concertina door to the bathroom is covered in mould on the bathroom side… a bit gross. The shore excursions were very nice, relaxed, informative and enjoyable. The woolshed tour and the winery tour were particularly enjoyable, and the Aboriginal Reserve Ngaut Ngaut was extremely interesting. We chose the optional coach trip from Adelaide to Mannum rather than driving… very handy. You can also drive and park in a secured area and pick your car up at the end if you prefer. The boat is a replica paddle steamer and is really quite lovely. Four levels on board… two with accommodation cabins, one with dining, and one a sun deck. It's a shame that there are no outdoor places to sit that are accessible for the elderly (the top deck is a sun deck with nice outdoor tables/chairs but access is via a very steep set of stairs so it's not an option for those with mobility issues). The only two outdoor areas which are accessible to all are both smoking areas so there's really nowhere to sit except in the indoor lounges which we found too warm and stuffy. The decor in the coffee lounge/games area/bar is a bit tired… seats are worn with wobbly arms, and the carpet and coffee station need to be updated. Meals were pretty plentiful but if you're a bit of a foodie you'll be disappointed. Food is a bit old fashioned as is the presentation i.e., paper doilies etc. The best evening meal by far was the final night's Seafood Buffet which was very fresh, and nicely presented. I don't really consider myself a foodie but like most young retirees, we eat out a fair bit. To be honest the food was a bit of a disappointment. The heating in the common areas i.e., lounge/bar/dining areas, was a bit too warm for us… even my 80yr old mum found it too warm. The average passenger age for our cruise would have been mid seventies with many passengers in their eighties. The crew were VERY helpful with our elderly mum, reserving four seats for us on the end of an accessible table for every breakfast and lunch to accommodate mum's walker. Entertainment was very much geared to the elderly… Bingo, Trivia etc. Dinner music was provided by a pianist/singer who played all the golden oldies… again very much geared to the elderly. Our Stateroom had an issue with the air-conditioning in that it had a very unpleasant 'sewer smell'. We tried using Glen 20 and kept the windows open constantly but it really was very unpleasant. Others on our cruise experienced the same issue. After the first two days we closed the vent and went without the air-conditioning which meant our cabin was pretty stuffy but we left the windows open and the smell was definitely less of an issue. We spoke with the ship's engineer about this problem and he said this is a common complaint when the wind is blowing a certain way. It's not a problem in all cabins however so it's the luck of the draw I guess. The star of this cruise is the Murray River which is very beautiful, and the cruise crew came in a close second… they were so helpful. I personally would have liked the option to sit on smaller tables i.e., table of four, or tables of six, for a quiet dinner instead of the 'nursing home' approach. It would also have been wonderful to have some onboard activities geared to a younger audience i.e., demo cooking with local produce (Barossa produce is awesome), Barossa wines information/tastings etc. Read Less
Sail Date August 2015
We took a Tauck tour "Cruising Down Under." This was a new tour for Tauck and they chose L'Austral starting in Auckland, New Zealand and ending in Melbourne, Australia for 12 days. Let me say that we have traveled twice on ... Read More
We took a Tauck tour "Cruising Down Under." This was a new tour for Tauck and they chose L'Austral starting in Auckland, New Zealand and ending in Melbourne, Australia for 12 days. Let me say that we have traveled twice on the Regent Seven Seas through the Panama Canal and Vietnam, Thailand and Cambodia, twice on the Paul Gauguin in the South Seas, once on the Silver Seas - Silver Cloud from Istanbul to Cyprus and twice on the Windstar – once in the Caribbean and once on the Adriatic, and NEVER had a problem. Our complaints arise with the L’Austral. The food on this ship was not up to Tauck standards. As a matter of fact it was awful. Many people on the tour complained about the food and said they would write to Tauck which I have also done. Dinner on Deck 2 in Le Coromandel was bland and uninviting. One instance of poor food was the Rib Eye Steak which was very tough, and when I complained to the maître d he said the steak was from New Zealand and therefore not under their control. Has anyone ever heard of ordering from another supplier? If so many people complained in a restaurant and the restaurant did nothing about it – it would be closed. Well the ship had a captive audience. Both Captain’s Dinners were pre-set menus. When we asked the waiter what would happen if we didn’t like the meal, he told us, “Don’t eat it.” The serving sizes were very small and of poor quality. For example, for an appetizer we had “one” scallop; the second course was “one” lobster medallion about the size of a quarter. We had monkfish one night, which was about two inches and wouldn’t feed a child. This is a French ship and we had to continually ask for a French dinner. We asked for Escargot and got it once. We asked for French Onion Soup and all the chef did was sauté onions and plopped them in beef bouillon. No crusty bread in the soup and no cheese on top. Should I have offered to give the chef the recipe for French Onion Soup? We asked for a soufflé for dessert and we were told that there were not enough cooks in the kitchen to make soufflés. Could this be possible??? On Deck 6 the casual Le Rodrigues was a buffet and was another culinary experience. The first night we chose to eat in this restaurant because we were tired and wanted a shorter dining time. One gastronomical delight was a hamburger not even fit for a dog. We were told that Tauck suggested hamburgers because most of their tour group was Americans. The average age of our group was about 65 and for the most part well-travelled people who paid a great deal for this trip. Do you honestly think we were looking for hamburgers? The rest of the buffet was sparse and tasteless. The fish was tough, the pork medallions were dry and I could get better spaghetti and meatballs in an Atlantic City, NJ buffet table. The bathroom in our cabin and in every cabin consisted of two rooms – a water closet with a bowl and no sink. You have to leave the water closet and then go into the portion of the bathroom with a sink and a shower. This is so unsanitary that I felt that I was in an airport bathroom. How could this renowned ship have a water closet with no sink to wash your hands before you opened the door to leave this portion of the bathroom? As a matter of fact there were many people on board the ship who were sick with bad colds and flu-like symptoms. The ship’s doctor said that there was an epidemic of bad colds and flu-like symptoms on the cruise before ours. It seems that the ship was not sanitized before we got on board. The Wi Fi on the ship was barely existent. If you managed to log on, you were bounced off in two minutes. We were told that their connection to the satellite was weak – well upgrade. When we were in port we were told that you could not get a connection because the buildings interfered with the connection. We were supposedly connecting to a satellite and not a tower – so how could the buildings get in the way. We paid almost $40,000 for this vacation. The most we have ever spent on any vacation and I am sure a large portion of this was due to the L’Austral. I would like to talk to the group that made the decision to use this ship and ask them if they actually took the voyage and actually ate the same food that was served to us. This ship is supposed to be a luxury cruise ship. It was not luxury but sub par. I have seen other reviews which give this ship and food a decent rating. I can't understand why.   Read Less
Sail Date January 2015

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