Incredible weather. Between riding buses and a rental car for six weeks from Cape Reinga to Wanaka in New Zealand, the only rain I had was for about an hour driving between Greymouth and Arthur's Pass. How lucky is that ?! I saw Queenstown on a previous visit, and highly recommend it and the bus tour to Milford Sound. The road into the Sound is great.
It has been a few years since I took a cruise, mostly because I travel solo, and the cruise lines really stick it to us. A cruise advertised for $400.00 pp double occupancy somehow goes to $2300.00 when I plug a 1 into number of guests. Yes, typically I would be quoted paying for two people, and one or two added taxes. Plus once you buy a cruise, you get that "enticing" offer to bid for an upgrade. Of course whatever you bid will be doubled for us solos if accepted. This was my fourth cruise, so I have comparables. A cruise has the appeal of: having a private, comfortable, ensuite cabin; waking up in a different town or island with no concern for reserving hotels or being stuck in a room due to inclement weather; how to entertain yourself; and food.
Well, I just took the NCL Jewel from Auckland to Sydney, Feb 4-14, leaving at 1800 on the 4th, arriving at 0600 on the 14th. It had a great price for a solo traveler. BUT, somehow this was considered a 12 day trip, and they tried to get you for $180.00 per person in service charges. Plus the party leaving the cabin, and the one replacing me were charged as well, so actually $210.00 in "tips" for that 12? day trip, not per cabin, but per person in that cabin that was over three years old, so figure on a bill for $540.00 in "tips" for a couple with one child.
The ship had a jogging track, and a basketball court. No thanks, WAY too many people, of all ages, sitting out there that you do NOT want to see in next to nothing. Fortunately there was a decent gym on board, or you could get a good aerobic workout climbing the stairs between decks.
Except for when we were in the sounds, you could not sit on the bow, which to me is the best seat in the house, next to the captain's chair. "It's not safe". Yet I can go to the top two decks protected from disaster only by the same meter high railing. Yea, that's ok.
Deck 12 was ringed by a seven foot tall glass barrier that you could see fairly well through dirty glass.
Prepare your ears to be accosted by non-stop noise coming through the speakers probably called smooth jazz or freeform jazz. You can't get away from it except in your cabin, or in the library. I couldn't stand it when I was young, or now, as you can probably guess. Except for trivia games, the entertainment was almost entirely music I don't listen to, and apparently the louder, the better. Again, I felt the same way in my twenties.
All the announcements seemed to work in "for your safety". If safety is such a hyperconcern, then you should ban smoking and alcohol on board. And we know what gambling can do to some people, so you should ban it "for their safety". Will never happen though, since those are huge revenue generators. That New Zealand grown apple that was loaded in Auckland, not Shanghai, Auckland, could not be taken with you if you took that shore excursion that cost triple what it should. The same with water for pete's sake. What was I thinking, it's "for my safety".
Happy ending overall. No rain, arrived on time, my flights were on time and it was back to reality.
It had all the basics, but was tight space wise. The bathroom had a weird layout in how the toilet was placed. Storage was ok for a solo, but I have been in inside cabins with room for an upholstered chair and/or small sofa.