Overall, the cruise portion of our Aus/NZ trip was good. The itinerary was appealing as it included Hobart, Tasmania, and smaller centers in NZ. We arranged our own flights.
Viking Orion is a classy looking ship with wonderful, friendly fellow passengers. The vast majority were Americans, average age was a good 70. Public areas were well used but comfortable. My partner used the spa and really liked it. We were in a Penthouse Veranda and it has a minimalist decor with lots of storage, small veranda and good bathroom. Kept very clean and stocked with your choices. We did have to deal with the scalding hot/cool oscillations in the shower. This can be mitigated by turning the head on full force and adjusting the temp down until it at least it no longer sears. The bed is a king, good linens but for me way too firm. My sciatica acted up.
I'm aware of the issues around booking shore excursions by suite category but we were able to book exactly what we wanted. Spaces did free up eventually on many showing sold out originally. Unlike some reviewers, I thought the optional excursions were great! Can recommend "Kangaroos and Koalas at Sunset" in Melbourne, "Wildlife Conservation Park and Historic Port Arthur" out of Hobart, "Great Houses of Dunedin", "Sheep Station & Te Mata Peak" out of Napier, and "Geothermal Rotorua" out of Tauranga.
The food was of high ingredients quality, varied and attractively prepared. Shame, because more often than not, it was marred by too much salt, over richness and tepid serving temperatures. Kudos to the sushi, steaks and roasts, afternoon tea and service! Included wines were mostly good and generously offered. One of our Manfredi's reservations mysteriously disappeared and the restaurant manager just shrugged.
We were usually too tired for the evening entertainment but did go to the planetarium twice. Not recommended as it is really just a mini Imax theater showing short childlike films.
We had a very rough two day crossing of the Tasman Sea and then Christchurch was cancelled based on "safety first". Of course I defer these decisions to the bridge but where was safety first crossing the Tasman in those conditions, and sailing out of Wellington harbour in 100+ km/hr wind gusts? A much smaller cruise ship, the Caledonian Sky, sailed out of Christchurch to our port, Dunedin, the night we stayed put. It couldn't possibly have been as bad as the Tasman! Oh, and no compensation.
Anyway, as only my second ever cruise, and having enjoyed the Viking brand, I have decided cruising is not for me but I certainly see the appeal to the many loyal Viking passengers. We met some great people who were always interesting to talk to!
Roomy and quiet. Included pressing service was very good. TV has free movies. WiFi was quite adequate. Ask for exactly what you want in the minibar. Kept clean. All staff friendly.
We had 4 nights in Sydney before the cruise so saw much of what we wanted. Hadn't made it to Bondi Beach though, so this was a good way to see a quick tour of the highlights one last time and a take a stroll on that world famous sand. Sydney was fabulous!View All 22 City Tour Reviews
Ok drive around the Melbourne CBD with stops at the Shrine of Remembrance and park gardens. Pleasant driver with lots of local insight.View All 22 City Tour Reviews
Once in a lifetime experience of getting close to wild kangaroos and the endangered koalos. Guide was very knowledgeable and personable. Took time to answer all questions at your seat on the bus. Nice sit down snack with wine or beer.View All 12 Kangaroos & Koalas Reviews
This time an opportunity to interact with tame kangaroos in a open setting not at all like a petting zoo. Good introduction to the "Unzoo"; and also a quick look at a Tasmanian Devil at feeding time.
Port Arthur penal colony quided tour by an interesting British gentleman. Even though we had hours there, it is a vast place and you could easily spend the whole day. Excellent highlights tour and extensive hot lunch.View All undefined undefined Reviews
Very scenic drive on the Otago peninsula to a 19th century castle of sorts. Lovely fresh scones and tea to start. Very interesting guided tour full of intrigue and lore about the founding family. Also stops at an older mansion stocked with collectables, and the famous Train Station. Nice driver with a relaxed, informative tour including city highlights such as The Octogon.View All 36 Larnach Castle Reviews
Cable Car is easy to walk to and is in a good shopping district. Scenic ride up to botanical gardens.View All 31 Cable car Reviews
We did our own tour of Wellington. Te Papa museum is excellent. Give yourself 3 hours at least.View All 28 Te Papa Museum Reviews
Visit to a working sheep farm with displays of dog herding and sheep shearing. Muffin and tea break. Nice family farm and rustic settings. Steep drive to lookout, wonderful scenery even though not a great day. Visit to a bee aviary more interesting than I thought, delicious honey tasting and ice cream. Quick tour of Art Deco Napier.View All undefined undefined Reviews
Te Puia in Rotorua, Maori cultural center and geothermal valley. Erupting geysers, sulfuric steam vents and bubbling mud pools all in a Jurassic park setting. Great for the kid and science geek in you. Impressive cultural center with live displays of crafts and an unforgettable Maori welcome including a concert and haka. Extensive and high quality hot lunch.View All 40 Geothermal Springs Reviews
4 nights in Auckland at end of cruise. Nice city, lots of shopping and great restaurants. Did Waiheke Island hop on tour of wineries. Easy and much less expensive to do on your own. Ship docks right downtown next to ferries and everything you could want. Easy day tours to many natural sights.View All undefined undefined Reviews