Explorer Dream. Around New Zealand. Embark 29th December 2019. Disembark 05th January 2020
Firstly, this is certainly not a luxury boat, as was described to us from a Genting Cruise agent at the 2018 Cruise expo in NZ (and what prompted ... Read More
Explorer Dream. Around New Zealand. Embark 29th December 2019. Disembark 05th January 2020
Firstly, this is certainly not a luxury boat, as was described to us from a Genting Cruise agent at the 2018 Cruise expo in NZ (and what prompted us to book), and it is unlikely that we'll want to travel with Genting again.
Cabins: Whilst of an adequate size, ours with a balcony that could seat 2 chairs, the rooms had not been vacuumed prior to us embarking, and rooms were not consistently serviced throughout the cruise (ie we had to ask for a soap refil, sometimes towels were taken to be washed but not replaced, some evenings you would get your bed turned down). There was a (very very small) mini fridge onboard and a small kettle with cups so you could make your own tea and coffee.
Service: Service/waiting staff throughout the dining rooms were more often than not avoiding eye contact so as not to serve anyone. Any service had was extremely slow and convoluted (especially when it came to ordering drinks - the 'system' for ordering changed multiple times each day). Most staff carry walkie-talkies and use them all the time. This was especially uncomfortable in the Dream Dining Room - with staff chatter and the squawking of radios making it a very unpleasant experience. Entering the restaurants you're often met with someone at the door who clearly would rather be elsewhere. There was one standout exception to this; a young man called Ramli from Indonesia. At the end of the cruise we made special mention to him of his incredible service, and he just beamed with happiness. So we passed this back to him manager too. So many of the waiters could learn a lot from Ramli!
Additionally, in the Dream Dining Room, service is not consistent. On our first dinner here we were seated at a shared table (most tables are shared), and our order for the entire meal was taken. We were never asked for a drinks order, and it was difficult to get the attention of anyone to enable us to order drinks (which finally happened after the appetiser and entree courses). On our second dinner, the Dream Dining Room was booked until 9:15pm, so had a late dinner seating. This turned out to be a mistake as the restaurant closed at 9:30pm and they clearly wanted us out fast. We ordered drinks upon seating (learning from the previous experience). These didnt come. We asked where they were and were told that the girl taking out order was not the drinks girl, so were asked to re-order (even though the original girl was standing beside this new waiter!). 5min later, before drinks nor any food arrived we were told that it was the last call for drinks because the bar was closing. Puzzled, we asked how this could be, since we had been told to dine at this time. We were told just to order more drinks now and stack them up as the bar was closing (this is despite trying to order a juice and a coffee earlier in the day, and told we cant stack drinks - that they can only be had one at a time). At this particular dinner, despite a quick serving of dinner, dessert was never served - not such a bad thing as dessert is not much more than a selection of finger cakes, or a couple of slices of cheese with stale crackers.
Drinks: Drinks packages was one thing we enquired about prior to embarking, and information returned was limited. We got the sense that only water would be available onboard, therefore we pre-purchased the 'Classic' drinks package prior to embarking. This allowed for fruit juices, tea/coffee and house beer and wine. The selection was fine, however the fruit juice was the same nasty cordial served in the dining rooms - not fresh fruit juice which would cost more. As it turned out the dining rooms did have tea/coffee and cordial available free - however the free coffee was disgusting. Fortunately the package allowed for cafe coffees (much much nicer) throughout the ship. FYI we did order a rum and coke each on the final night (to use up a ship credit we got) but at 9AUD per nip + 18% gratuities + 15% GST for being inside NZ made it extremely expensive (at ship exchange rates our 2x double rum n cokes cost the equivalent of NZD57!) so if other guests are wondering what drinks package to purchase, this could be of interest!
Entertainment: One thing they did do extremely well were the shows in the Zodiak theatre. The Ship dancers and the entire production were excellent. The magic shows were a highlight too. Its definitely worth not missing any of these. There was only 1 evening where there was no show in the theatre. Every other night the shows are repeated, so guests have the option of an early show or a late show. But beware that the early show does not give you enough time to eat afterwards - as the closing time in the restaurants is not 'last seating'. Its when the restaurant is fully cleaned and empty - which begins 45mins before the end of 'service'.
Additionally, we were on the New Years cruise, which held special parties (and a special production from the entertainers) for midnight celebrations. These parties were very well done and so much fun!
Food: Very average. The buffet (at 'Lido') has plenty of selection, but is not much different to your average RSA. Dream Dining Room meals are the same as the buffet but extremely small portions (and the cuts are no better - for instance the beef steak is equivalent to your thinnest grisliest schnitzel which has been braising in its own juices for way too long). We gave the Dream dining room a second chance, but stuck with the buffet thereafter - at least you could pick your own meal, and size, and the radio squawking was not quite so bad!
Whilst food was average, there was certainly a lot of it on the ship, so unless you have special dietary requirements you wont go hungry. Be wary though if you're gluten intolerant or have any food allergies (another guest, with a son who has Celiac Disease, was in tears because they could not adequately cater for him).
Guests: This was definitely a cruise for old and young alike. It had something for everyone. The fact that there were kids and babies onboard was definitely not an issue for us (and we prefer to not holiday with kids).
We met lots of wonderful, friendly, happy, like-minded, travellers onboard.
Onboard/Offload experience: Very well done. In and out of Auckland was very swift and easy (the best I have experienced around the world). However it would be worth noting that our ticket told us to board between 6:45pm and 7:30pm on day of sailing. However as it turned out actual boarding began from about 2pm. We did go in early and after enquiring were invited to board straight away - at 3pm! If we had left boarding until later we would have missed dinner and arrived only just in time for the emergency drill. We appreciate that they probably want to stagger guests entering, but we thought it very unfair that we would have otherwise missed a whole afternoon's worth of activities.
Getting on/off at the various stops around NZ was certainly easy. There was never any rush, nor was there a need to keep us hoarded up in a theatre waiting for our ship offload time (as experienced on other liners). You got an offload ticket the night before with your set time, and you're ready to go - albeit they dont always ask for your tickets again when you go off! Just remember to take your passport or other photo ID, as this was a must for going back onboard.
Itinerary: This was a cruise around NZ, but when booking we asked where exactly it would sail there was no definitive answer back from Genting (ie do we go around Cape Reinga or not?). As it turns out we did fully circumnavigate NZ. Surely this is a bonus to be sold! Unfortunately we sailed so far out at sea that there were very few times that you could get a glimpse of the land whilst sailing (this was a real shame). Fortunately there were plenty of onboard daily activities to take your attention during the day.
The Ship: This ship was advertised as a ship that has been wholly refurbished. Onboard we were told that this total refurbishment took only 6 weeks to complete. What we saw was a very tired ship with some new carpet, and some new furnishings and fitouts in places.
On the whole: It definitely felt like everything was an up-sell on board. Only 3 restaurants were free. The rest (in the open areas of the ship) had an additional fee. Also, apart from the Bingo games (at AUD25 per game) you got very little for winning competitions onboard as a part of the daily activities - for instance I won 2 seperate activities and barely got enough tickets from each combined for a ping-pong ball with a micro sized plastic car inside - akin to what you get out of Christmas crackers!!
Finale: We have been on some lovely, luxury, ships in the past. So our expectations (and expectations set from the cruise expo agent) were high. For this reason we were extremely disappointed. Had we not sailed luxury in the past, then it is likely that our feedback would be different (we spoke to a number of other guests who had never cruised before and thought that this was a good holiday. Equally there were many guests, who like us, held the same frustrations throughout). If we were told that this is of a similar standard to P&O, or some other average ship, then this would have met expectations. Read Less