We booked this cruise to celebate my retirement and to visit ports we had missed on a previous driving holiday of NZ.
We booked an inside cabin on an upper deck as we have found it difficult to sleep in lower deck, outside and veranda cabins on past HAL cruises.
As trivia tragics we had connected with like-minded cruisers on the Cruise Critic Roll Call to form a team and they were a perfect match, contributing to our many victories and making the cruise fun. We collected many prizes including 4 bottles of champagne which we shared at dinner.
We also connected with members of the Cruise Critic Roll Call to organise private tours as we found the HAL tours rather expensive.
Unfortunately I became ill with the flu (contracted before we embarked) which developed into bronchitis. I made an appointment with the ship's doctor, who prescribed fluvax, antibiotics and decongestants. The bill was US$400!
We found the Lido restaurant crowded and noisy and the food was not generally to our liking with a couple of exceptions. We have no idea why it is called the Lido Market as it was no different to the Lido restaurant on the Volendam. The chairs were in need of refurbishment. We had breakfast in the Vista Restaurant a few times, the food was excellent but it usually took too long to arrive. This meant that a couple of times we had to leave before we were finished to get to a tour or activity.
We had dinner in the Vista Restaurant most of the time and the food and service was generally good although some servings were rather small and the soups were very salty. We enjoyed the menus for the Gala Nights.
We had dinner in The Pinnacle Grill a couple of times, once for Le Cirque. While the food and service was excellent, we found Le Cirque rather underwhelming as there was no special ambience, the only difference to the normal Pinnacle experience was different china and a different menu.
We missed the chocaholics spread that we had enjoyed on Volendam.
The activities were many and varied. Our favourites were the daily trivia quizzes run by the excellent Cruise Director and his assistant, and the BB King Blues Club. The band was excellent and added new numbers each day to keep their shows varied. Although we are in our late 60's we enjoy dancing to the hits of the 60s, 70s and 80s and were disappointed that there wasn't a DJ to get things moving in the Northern Lights Lounge which is set up as a disco. The Assistant Cruise Director played records for a short time, but there was no commentary and no atmosphere.
We enjoyed the coffees in the Explorations Cafe. We missed the presence of a librarian and of the library trivia quizzes and NY Times crosswords that we had enjoyed on the Volendam. It seems that the cruise line's owners are cutting down on staff and services to the detriment of passengers.
Although the weather was not good in NZ we were happy that no ports were missed and enjoyed our time ashore. We were particularly pleased that the ship sailed into Milford Sound despite rough seas and heavy rain.
The cabin and bathroom were in good condition. It was disappointing that no toiletries were provided apart from the usual in-shower dispensers.
The bed was comfortable but the pillows were flat and in need of replacement, there was no pillow menu. The cabin was extremely quiet.
Although the cabin is described as a Large Interior cabin it was quite cramped and with only one chair, no sofa and a tiny side table, we were unable to take advantage of complimentary in-cabin dining.
We drove to Rotorua and visited Te Puia which included geyser viewing, Maori arts and craft and cultural performance.
Great tour with informative and entertaining driverView All undefined undefined Reviews
Stayed on board
Met up with friends for dinner
Visited 5 wineries and a chocolate factory. Had lunch at one of thw wineries. Great driver/guide, we found 5 wineries too much and the chocolate "factory" overpriced.View All 19 Winery Tour Reviews
A pleasant cruise on a wet and windy day. Not much wildlife viewed apart from seals.View All undefined undefined Reviews
Excellent value for money 3 hour tour with great driver/guideView All undefined undefined Reviews