We booked this cruise for our 35th anniversary, because it left and arrived back into Brisbane. The cruise was meant to be 14 days, but due to the weather it was reduced to 11 days. It could have been reduced to 12 days, but I think it was easier for the company to completely cull the South Island, rather than have to go to the South for 1 day. The ship came into dock earlier, and the staff got the night off. Normally the turnarounds are on the same day. We were told check in would be early on our departure day, so we chose to stay close overnight beforehand. We could have gotten a lift in, but the early start was too early for our friends. So our early check-in was a total debacle ... apparently a computer malfunction, so the ship didn't end up leaving until 4.30pm. We had checked out of our accommodation for our early departure, so had to find somewhere to have breakfast (along with the other 1800+ passengers), then morning tea, and so on, just waiting around for boarding. Great start we were thinking!
About the ship: The cabins were small but comfortable. We had an ocean view with a balcony. The room attendant was delightful. The bed was soft but comfortable, as were the pillows. The dining options were OK. The meal portions in the main dining room were a good size, not too large, and there was variety. The quality wasn't amazing, but it was fine, in most venues. We went to one or two shows, and they were enjoyable. We also went dancing on one night, and the band was very good. The gym was great, and thank god for the gym, it was our savior! However, there is a real push to sell the expensive Elemis detox program. This program is available online for a fraction of the cost, and there was no science behind the program that we were shown. If we could all take 2 herbal pills each day, and have them clean out our systems and eliminate everything that makes our bodies work inefficiently, I think it would be a miracle cure! In the end the science says that a good healthy diet, with exercise, and eating nutritious whole foods is the answer to good health ... makes sense to me!
The demographics for this style of cruising, didn't really fit with us. We felt like we were in the middle of a shipboard conference for the aged and/or overweight. This may sound harsh, as there were some young people, and healthy looking fit people as well, but they were definitely in the minority. We had never been on a large ship cruising, and we wanted to see if it was something for us into the future. We have been to the Antarctica on a small ship and had a great time, but based on this experience, large ship cruising is definitely not our thing. Being active, I think active/adventure type cruising would be more suitable for us.
On a final note, we also found that, although it sounds like you have a reasonable amount of time on shore days, the time disappears very quickly, and you don't get to achieve as much as you would like. We hired cars in 3 of the 4 stops, so we could be independent, and whilst we did get out and about, there is time lost getting to the pick up point, doing the paperwork, dropping the car back, getting back to the ship etc, and we calculated that if we had flown to NZ and hired a car for 2 weeks, travelled around NZ independently, staying in nice B&B's, eating great food, and getting in some active pursuits, the cost would have been around the same, we would have been in control of our itinerary ... and we would have had a 14 (not 11) day adventure!
The cabin was comfortable. A little small, as was the bathroom, but manageable. The bed was soft but comfortable, as were the pillows. The balcony was quite small. Our cabin attendant Edric, was delightful.