This was the very first cruise for me. I'm glad that my wife made all the arrangements from the flights to and from Honolulu , hotel bookings, cruise itinerary, excursions, and the visits in Sydney after the cruise. I had a marvelous time traveling with her as well as my 90 year old father and 40 yr old niece. We had adjacent cabins and the crew removed the partition between our balconies so that we could share some space there. Our cabins were on the 8th floor towards the aft of the ship.
If you have never seen New Zealand before, I would heartily recommend going the cruise ship route. It enabled us to see many points of interest without having to unpack, plus all your transportation is taken care of, and you never have to worry about finding meals for most of your travel. The Solstice is a beautiful ship and we took full advantage of many of the amenities on board including the gym, casino, showrooms, upgraded dining, Cafe Bacio, Canyon Ranch Spa, and shore excursions.
There were only a couple of negatives. While initial boarding was efficient and smooth, I can't say that the disembarkation from the ship in Sydney at the end of the cruise was the same. It seemed to be a free for all with everyone scrambling to find their luggage and go through the scrutiny of Australian immigration/customs. We never had a problem with getting into the main dining hall on a timely basis, even though we did not have reservations. Service was generally quick and attentive. I personally didn't enjoy the challenge of finding seating for the four of us during breakfast and lunch at the Oceanview buffet. It tends to get pretty crowded at those times.
I have to take a moment to praise the services of our cabin attendants Isaura and Averon. They were great. Also , nearly all of the casino personnel were very polite and professional. I would have no issue with booking my next cruise with this ship.
Having a balcony room showed its value when cruising through the NZ Sounds. The view was spectacular. Recommended .