We like NZ and have been there on land, but wished to see the Sounds and ports offered. In the past HAL gave reasonable value for $ and "tried" to sort our differences. We are two 70yr olds and travel on ships geared for minimal children.This trip had abysmal dining and very poor entertainment and shore assistance. We could not get palatable food and found that the feedback forms gave no option for feedback so after the first form went off on day 2, I fired off another on day 5 with our contact details and problems. [ Food in Vista was too rich and/or spicy for our tastes and stomachs. Standards of dress had dropped. Children allowed unsupervised and intrusive.Wait staff abrupt/overworked. Supervisors would not listen/understand. Gassed out of cabin twice by maintenance painters. Heart monitor on bike in gym was erratic/busted and supervisor took little interest. Shore/port assistance very poor.]
In sheer frustration I fired off another feedback form on day 10. We got to be able to preorder meals with notes regarding the spices on day 12!! We got some decent food for the last 2 days!! There was never any personal feedback until one supervisor gave us a free bottle of sparkling wine on the last day - but no discussion.
As usual the cabin staff were good. The cabin was tidy but getting a little tired.
Our agent booked us into an expensive hotel in the Quay and we discovered the next day that ship was at White Bay.
Careful .... Port Chalmers has nothing. We relied on it having some fresh seafood and got gastro poisoning instead from Hummus.
We stuck around Akaroa and again we were given no information on the port and we missed a good fish place by 100ms.
We'd been to Te Papa so went up the cable car to the Conservation park. Their foliage and native birds there were very dull. Back downtown we struggled to find a decent cafe.
We'd spent a few days here before and it was much the same. It was unpretentious, clean and quirky.
The dock is near Mt Manganui and the village. They charged us for a shuttle into Tauranga which only had a line of yuppy cafes and bistros.
Overpriced and dull city. We took a HOHO bus and their highlights did not tempt any stops.
TripAdvisor etc did warn that this was overrated and it did not fail. The town gave us a free shuttle into town and then we got a local ferry to Russell, the bawdy capital of NZ. Again no fish and chips and very little on their quirky history and a lot on the maori history.
Strange but still no decent fish. We found a friendly pub with fine ales and a beaut fresh ham salad. The small market was cute.