This review is for an Atlantis Events cruise from Auckland to Sydney with six stops on a Holland America ship, Noordam (built circa 2006). This was my first cruise. We chose this cruise because many of our friends have done them and speak highly of their experiences.
We spent two days in Auckland before departing to Gisborne, Wellington, Akaroa (Christchurch), Hobart (Tasmania), Melbourne and Sydney. Boarding problems delayed our departure, but before long we were on our way. Being my first cruise, I wasn't really aware of and didn't pay attention to the fact that we were circling an island for several hours after we left Auckland and I am still unsure why we changed course.
Atlantis Events and/or Holland America diverted the ship from making the planned stop in Akaroa (Christchurch) due to weather. Hard for me to believe that since Akaroa is a protected harbor. If you look on a map, the cruise was to go from Wellington to Akaroa and then south around the south island of New Zealand. Instead, we were stuck for three days at sea while we lumbered along at a leisurely pace to keep on schedule (i.e., not get to Hobart before we were scheduled). This significant change in schedule was, in my estimation, unnecessary, and definitely infuriating. The change in course lead to Holland America and/or Atlantis Events saving tens of thousands of dollars in fuel. We didn't get so much as a credit toward a future cruise.
Our 'Deluxe' Ocean-View Veranda room was extremely dated, featured appalling burnt-orange colors, a small sofa with tattered edges, stains and two throw pillows I wouldn't let a dog sleep on, and carpet matted down by years of traffic and little or no cleaning. The corners and edges under the desk and bed were absolutely disgusting with a visible amount of dust and small debris. Pieces of the edge of the furniture were broken and hanging. We had our bed made twice with sheets featuring large stains that looked like urine. Our friends all received the popular towel art in the form of small animals, but we never received them. Maybe we needed to spend more than the $5,000 we paid.
What's not to love about Auckland? It's a beautiful, clean cosmopolitan city and the people are so kind. The food was outstanding as was the coffee. I cannot wait to go back!
We liked Gisborne but I was our least favorite port. It was a very small town and we were only there a few hours.
We walked all over Wellington and shopped in the city center. Had lunch and some drinks. Would love to spend more time, but again, we were rushed and had just a few hours to spend there.
We had the absolute best breakfast near the port in Hobart. We then walked over to a farmer's market and then decided to rent a car and drive to the Bonorong animal sanctuary (there were six of us) near Brighton. Afterward, we drove to Richmond and had another amazing meal. Lots of fun little shops and things to see.
We loved Melbourne the most. It is a beautiful city on the water, large port, great mass transit to get into the city center for far less than an Uber/taxi ride. Incredible food, beautiful architecture, clean streets, great variety of shopping. We absolutely loved it and plan to return.