Had always wanted to visit New Zealand but was uncertain whether to spend Christmas onboard. Turned out they did make it kind of special and we were pleasantly surprised.
First of all, embarkation and disembarkation at the beginning and end of the cruise were breezy even though there were quite a few stations to go through during embarkation. Our cabin was almost ready when we got on and we could leave our hand carry there before heading to the buffet. The only complaint we had was that disembarkation at each port was announced only on the PA but not clearly signed onboard. So, if you happened to miss the announcement, you would have to ask/wander around to find the exit point. The gangway was kind of narrow and not conducive to passengers simultaneously getting off and on, which means waiting for the gangway to clear at one end before passengers could go at the other end. Having said that, the wait was usually not too long.
We ate mostly at the buffet for breakfast and lunch. There were lots of variety at the buffet, although choices did not vary much from day to day. The Bakery at the buffet was disappointing. Most days I couldn't find anything worthwhile to try. We were able to find something different to try at the main dining room every night, although I had fish more often than I thought. Lobster was on the menu only once during our 12 day cruise and it happened on Christmas eve. Lunch buffet on Christmas day was exceptional. There was seafood galore - king crab legs, clams, prawns, etc. All served cold though. There was long lineup well into the afternoon that day. Dessert was also spectacular that day with quite a few selection of huge cakes, including black forest. The cruise director and staff sang Christmas carols and created fake snow in the piazza. Instead of the usual chocolates, the cabin steward left a small Christmas stocking with extra candies on Christmas eve. All nice touches.
Nightly entertainment in the theatre was lovely, whether big productions or individual acts. As a result of the smallish size of the theatre, though, always needed to show up at least half an hour before showtime to get good seats.
We were upgraded to a balcony cabin. The balcony itself was a decent size but the cabin was the smallest we've seen. There was not even enough room for a loveseat, which means we're always lounging in bed. It's not a big deal but I imagine that means the cabin steward had to fix up the bed more often. The closet was without doors and situated just outside the bathroom with a column of enclosed shelves for storage. I quite like this set up as it is both convenient and separate from the bedroom and balcony.