Norwegian Spirit Review

4.5 / 5.0
2,125 reviews

Cruise to Middle Earth and beyond

Review for Australia & New Zealand Cruise on Norwegian Spirit
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Quicksilvermorn
First Time Cruiser • Age 50s

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Sail Date: Jan 2024
Traveled with children
Leaving Tauranga
Wellington Harbor
The pool

We chose Norwegian Spirit for the itinerary since we are huge fans of LOTR and The Hobbit movies. Taking advantage of a special fare sale that included airfare meant we could spend more time and see more than on a land tour. This was our very first cruise on any line. As a party of 4 with 2 older teens we ended up booking two rooms so everyone had enough space. I can’t say I would ever do that again - it meant two separate bills, separate air bookings and a lot of hassle.

Itinerary and Shore Excursions: The ship itself is on the smaller side but it meant being able to get into smaller harbors, which was ideal for us. Tauranga was our first port - this is the closest to Hobbiton which is roughly an hour away. Special note: Hobbiton does not book group tours with cruise lines. We had to book a land tour through Viatours and separate tickets directly with the Hobbiton website. However our Viatour operator was very helpful and gave us the best tour time to book. This was the absolute highlight of our trip. It’s a shame the cruise line couldn’t work a deal for a shore excursion to Hobbiton. Our other shore excursions were all booked through NCL - at Wellington we did the In the Footsteps of LOTR, WETA workshop tour plus filming spots around Wellington - 5 stars. At Lyttleton we did Into Middle Earth (takes you to Edoras aka Mt Sunday), super windy location but gorgeous - 5 stars. We also did Melbourne Past and Present which was a great overview of the entire town, and Caves and Wildlife Park in Burnie, Tasmania. The caves are wonderful and you get to see the glow worms - but there are many steep steps, a ladder and lots of low ceilings and narrow passages to pass through. 5 stars from us but you need to be fit. The wildlife park offers the opportunity to feed and pet the kangaroos as well as see lots of other native wildlife. You can book separate encounters up close with the Wombat, Koala and Tasmanian Devil but there were no spots available on our visit.

Staff: As for the Spirit, the staff are unfailingly cheerful and polite and make an effort to learn and remember everyone’s names. A special shout out to Rowell at the Starbucks who remembered our names and orders from day 3 on.

Cabin Review

Port Reviews

Tauranga

This is a lovely little town, easily walkable to shops and restaurants from the ship. For those who love LOTR it’s also the closest port to Hobbiton.

Wellington

Lots of things to see and do here. Wellington is a good sized town. We chose a shore excursion titled In the Footsteps of LOTR, which took us to the WETA Workshop and explored film sites around the city as Wellington has become known as the Hollywood of NZ (they even call it Wellywood).

Burnie

We were surprised how much we enjoyed Tasmania. Definitely take a shore excursion so you can take in the beautiful and quite varied landscapes. Since we were traveling with teens we did the Caves and Wildlife Park. This is a very active excursion. The kids loved it - especially the opportunity to feed and pet the kangaroos at Wings Wildlife Park.

Melbourne

A big city with lots to see and do. People were very friendly and we would’ve enjoyed having extra time here. We had a great overview with the Melbourne Past and Present tour - but there just wasn’t enough time in each location (particularly the Melbourne Museum which is huge and merited a full day on its own).

Eden (Australia)

Although the port is pretty, Eden just doesn’t offer the same kind of touring options as many of the other ports we visited. It’s an ex-whaling port. The town is uphill so you really need to take the bus. For some reason, they charged $20 for the bus ride here, where other ports offered free shuttle buses. Really just not worth it, take an excursion or stay on the ship.

Napier

A pretty town directly on the beach with lots of Art Deco buildings. Free bus from port to the visitors center where they have free maps and advice on what to see. Alternatively, take a shore excursion to the wineries, which are known as some of the best in NZ. We chose to wander around town and get ice cream.

Dunedin

A Victorian town with some amazing architecture and lovely botanical gardens. We toured the gardens and Olveston House (no photos allowed inside) - enjoyable for the adults, our teens were bored.

Dusky Sound

Absolutely beautiful views but the weather shifted and this was the only Sound we were able to see. Bad weather here equals very rough waters, so viewing all of the sounds is dependent completely on the weather conditions.

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