We thoroughly enjoyed a Viking river cruise of the Rhine several years ago and were looking for an opportunity to travel with Viking again. A trip to New Zealand and Australia had been on our "wish list" for quite some time; and when we discovered that Viking was introducing a cruise to these 2 countries, we decided to make our wish a reality!
We arrived in Auckland a day in advance of our embarkation date, so we were able to explore the city on our own and begin to adjust to the time change. Our embarkation was smooth and uneventful, and the Viking Orion proved to be an absolutely incredible ship! We loved the ship's rather intimate size (just under 1,000 passengers) and Viking's careful attention to every detail. The common areas were beautiful and comfortable, and our spacious cabin (on deck 3) was extraordinary!! We had an incredible amount of storage space both in the main cabin and in the bathroom. I was totally impressed with the "hidden" makeup mirror and makeup storage area! We loved the balcony, too.
The food was wonderful with a wide array of choices, including the specialty restaurants. I would have enjoyed more local wines, especially since both New Zealand and Australia are well known for their vast variety of wines--and I was a bit surprised by the lack of local wines, given that our Rhine River cruise had featured so many wonderful German and French wines. We thoroughly enjoyed the entertainment onboard! The music shows were high quality and high energy; and in the evenings we loved listening to Daniel on his acoustic guitar. The astronomer's lectures--and the planetarium--were special favorites as well.
I can't say enough wonderful things about the staff! They were so professional and so very helpful; I made a couple of small requests for items in our cabin, and those requests were filled immediately!! The staff in the restaurants and bars were very accommodating, and their ability to learn and remember names was nothing short of astonishing!!
The shore excursions were wonderful with a couple of exceptions. The included tour at Tauranga was disappointing and not very interesting and definitely needs to be revised. Our tour of the Southern Alps introduced us to fabulous scenery and Lord of the Rings history but involved far too many hours on a bus with not enough time to see the sights. Some of our favorite excursions included the Te Mata peak/sheep station tour (Napier), the Otaga wildlife cruise (Dunedin), and the Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary (Tasmania).
We loved our cruise so much that we booked another Viking ocean cruise for October 2020! It was a fabulous experience.