We are a family of 5, traveling with 3 daughters in their 20’s. Let me start by saying that we had a nice time on this cruise and it was a good value for the money for a holiday cruise. But there is certainly room for improvement by HAL.
First the high points. I have nothing but the utmost respect for the crew. They work incredibly hard, always with smiles on their faces. A special mention goes to Yohannes, one of the maitre d’s in the Main Dining Room. Two of our daughters are vegetarians and Yohannes,along with our waiter Suarta, worked to make sure that they had plenty of choices for dinner. While the daily menus have vegetarian options, there are special vegetarian and Indian menus from which orders can be placed the evening before. Yohannes even worked on special requests for our daughters. The quality of the food overall is a step above similar cruise lines we have been on, but the choices were limited and repetitive in the Main Dining Room. The Lido Buffet is very good for breakfast and lunch with nice choices. We really enjoyed the Dive In Grill by the pool. The Pinnacle Grill is wonderful, but the upcharge was $39 pp. I am glad we splurged on that for one evening, and wish we had gone another evening as well (there is a slightly reduced price for a package of 2 dinners pp).
Also, thank you to HAL for having a Catholic priest onboard to celebrate Mass daily. Father Joe was great. We would not have been on this cruise over Christmas without the opportunity to attend Mass.
Now the areas for real improvement. There were very limited activities on this cruise, especially considering there were 5 sea days (one was cruising the Milford Sound and other fiords). On another HAL cruise, there was the America Test Kitchen with cooking demonstrations. There was nothing like that here. Also, on the other HAL cruise, there was someone talking about the birds and wildlife we were seeing. There were no talks given about that either, other than the day through the fiords. ( There were whales and dolphins that could be seen from the ship several times but there was not even an announcement about that.). Our biggest criticism was the limited information given about the ports. The cruise director did not do any reviews each night about what to expect the next day, and certainly no in-depth talks daily. I did find a port talk listed on the first night about the North Island of NZ, but it was scheduled during our dinner! There was a port talk on Tasmania on one of the sea days, and at least that gave us some information. Usually on other cruises we could go to the TV each morning to find the cruise director talking about the ports, but we never found that on this cruise — only information on ship excursions which were on the expensive side. As one prior review mentioned, the cruise director was missing in action when it came to important port information! And he certainly did not spend any time planning activities for the guests! Believe me, this was a constant discussion among all of the other passengers we met.
Also, as pointed out by others, it appears that HAL has cut down on the number of servers in the Main Dining Room. These waiters worked incredibly hard carrying huge trays and actually running back and forth to serve their guests, but I believe that there is a failure by HAL to staff properly in order to provide reasonable waits in the Main Dining Room — both for dinner and breakfast.
The evening entertainment certainly did not cater to an audience of all ages over the holiday season. The ship’s own singers and dancers are good, but the other entertainers were meant for a much older crowd — for example, a night of music from the 50s and 60s. And we did not understand the guy with his spinning tops.
Having said that, the ports on this cruise gave us a good overview of New Zealand and at least a chance to visit Tasmania and Sydney. Our stop in Eden was cancelled due to the fires in Australia, so HAL worked to add a day in Burnie, Tasmania. Thank you to HAL for making that happen and a special thank you to the mayor, deputy mayor and volunteers in Burnie who came out to greet the ship and help organize tours for us with one day’s notice.
This cruise was a very good way for our family to get at least a taste of this beautiful part of the world.
Cabins and bathrooms are in need of an update and refresh. There was great storage, and new large TVs were just installed. Stewards were great.
Good way to see the city. Ask for discount coupon from your hotel. Take the ferry to DevenportView All undefined undefined Reviews
Just do it! This was great fun for everyone. And no real experience was required.View All 2 Kayaking Reviews
Tour operators were lined up in the city. It was easy to find an interesting experience at a reasonable price.
This is an easy city to do on your own. Get off the shuttle bus at the second stop. We toured the museum for free, took the cable car (for about $5) to the top of the hill and walked down towards shuttle stop one through the gorgeous gardens. Tours of Parliament are available but probably should be booked in advance. Make sure you stop in St Paul Anglican Cathedral. It is beautiful with a lovely gift shop and helpful people.
This tour included a long bus ride to Christchurch, so I wanted to book it thru the ship. It included punting on the river and the botanical garden. One or the other would be fine and also allow for time in the city.View All 2 Punting on the Avon River Reviews
This was first stop on tour. Winery was ok with very light lunch.View All 1 Wine Tasting Reviews
I wished we had taken a formal excursion we had to pay $20 (NZ, AUS or US) for a shuttle to town ( not provided by HAL). Difficult to see much on your own.
Took Uber to Bonorong on our own. If only 2 people take an excursion-available as you depart ship. Bonorong was great and a must see! Feed and pet the kangaroos ! Nice city to walk around.
Take the free walking tour and free harbor tour. I wish we had taken the ship’s eco tour through the harbor to see the wildlife.