We embarked in Sydney fron the new White Bay cruise terminal, which was ok but disappointed not to be in Circular Quay. Was not allocated a cabin till checking in despite asking for a good cabin when booking a year earlier. We were on deck one , near the bow, but the cabin was ok. We were on anytime dining, the food was not great, there was only 3 nights out of 14 that we could say we really enjoyed our meal. The choice was limited, with only a couple of new items on each night, mostly the same options night after night. Service was not that good, we did eat in the lido each morning, some staff were very good, most were indifferent, not bothered. Same with the bars, some staff were excellent, especially Josef in the pinnacle bar, but some were poor. There was a 15% surcharge on all bar bills, disgusting when you consider the charge of $23 per day gratuities, we refused to pay that and opted to pay half, although wish now that we had not paid anything at all.
Entertainment was not great, most of the acts were mediocre, did a couple of quizzes, the piano bar was quite good for a couple of nights but repetitive after that. The excursion charges were extremely high, not good value for money. it was very easy to arrange excursions from the ports, the information centres were very good, helpful and a lot cheaper than the ship prices. We particularly enjoyed Napier and Picton in New Zealand. We did a tour in Rotorua with Mount Tours, booked on the dockside, that was brilliant.
All in all a disappointing experience with Holland America and would not sail with them again.
Adequate cabin, steward was very good
We had been to Sydney twice before but still found something new. We found the Anzac memorial in Hyde Park, spent a few hours there, very moving and well worth the visit. We went around the Rocks area, there was a market on do wandered around there.
There were city ambassadors at the dock who were very helpful and informative. We took the bus into Melborne and got on the hop on/hop off bus, which was very good. We walked around and found the old arcade area, there were more ambassadors around to help if you got lost. We enjoyed our day in Melborne.
We had been to Hobart before so did not take an excursion. We went ashore and went into the Maritime Museum, spent a few hours there, very good. Then found St David's Cathedral, very small but nice, walked around Salamanca Quays, lots of nice art and craft shops, very nice Glass pieces but expensive. Free Wi Fi in town so caught up with home etc. had fish n chips at Fish Frenzy on Elizabeth Pier, lovely!
Did not take the ship's excursion, had to get the shuttle bus into town, $10 each way, went to the information centre and booked a tour with them. 2hour city tour, took us up to Signal Point where the original settlers used to look for ships entering Dunedin, Wow! Absolutely stunning views, back down around the city. The driver was very good, very informative, a lovely city. Then took us to the Otago peninsular, up again, right over the other side to where we had been on Signal point, again, amazing views.
The tour was well worth it and we felt that we had really seen Dunedin.
Shuttle bus into town, small but lovely place,walked around and sat on the beach for a while, weather is lovely. Had lunch at Mikey's pub, fish and chips with a lovely glass of local wine. Not so long in port today so back to the ship early.
Off the ship had to get the shuttle into town, hop on/hop off bus provided, $52 each, a bit steep. We went around Wellington on the bus, got off at the top of the cable car. Great view, had a look around for a while then went down on the cable car ($4 each) found old St Paul's Cathedral, built 150 Years ago, all wood, fantastic building. Learnt that it was to be demolished but after an outcry it was saved, should think so too!
Went to the new St Paul's Cathedral, too modern! Got back on the tourist bus, got off at the Te Papa Museum, wow, wish we had found it earlier. Fantastic place, could spend a whole day there and not see it all.
What a fantastic welcome we had,the locals were out in force, even had fresh flower buttonholes for each passenger. Napier was destroyed by an earthquake in 1931 and rebuilt in Art Deco style. We took a guided walk, given by volunteers, very informative, then watched a film about the earthquake, very thought provoking.
Napier is a lovely town, the people are so warm and friendly, they even dressed up in the period and a jazz band was playing at the dock, the vintage cars were amazing too.
We did not take a ship excursion as too expensive, but we booked a tour at the information centre on the dockside. We booked a tour to Rotorua with Mount Tours, excellent! We went to Whakawerawera Maori Village, a cultural visit which was excellent, not just a "touristy" experience. Saw how the thermal activity affects the life of the villagers and how they live with this, the geysers were not too active but we did manage to see one playing. We were given a concert by the Maoris which was very good, a really enjoyable. Our driver, Garry, was excellent and showed us some more of Rotorua and we thoroughly enjoyed our day.