Having travelled on various cruises in Europe, Asia and Australia I encouraged my elderly parents to accompany me on the cruise from Brisbane to New Zealand.
The Mini Suite was in theory, thought to be ideal for our travel purposes.
However, the bedding for the third person was little more than a camp stretcher. It had a 2" foam mattress on a frame that was faulty and collapsing in the middle.
Each day the room steward attempted to rectify. At one stage we had 3 mattresses stacked on top of each other on a piece of marine ply with blocks of timber to hold the frame in position. Each day my back became a huge problem. Eventually they did replace the bed, however, they did not take away the old lounge bed and we were unable to use the lounge area which had the new bed in the middle of the room. It was only the last 3 days of a 14 day cruise that I was able to sleep without waking with a bad back.As myparents are 88 and 86 it was also a mobility problem with the bed taking up the entire floor space of the loungeroom resulting on the elderly passengers having to enter their section through the bathroom.
The cruise did have some good points. The itinerary was very good. Particularly,Fiordland and Akaroa.
The food in the Regency Dining was up to the usual high standard as was the service. The Sterling Steakhouse was greatly improved over past experiences with food quality and service.
The Horizons Restaurant food was disappointing.
Hot food was not kept hot. It was at best tepid at times.
The range of food at Horizons was reasonable, however, not up to the expected standard as experienced on previous cruise.
The staff were very good overall. The entertainment was excellent as was the increased provision of good new release movies in the Princess theatre.
The staff at the Patisserie on level 5 were marvellous. Through their friendliness and attention to detail, the cruise was greatly enhanced. It was nice to be able to turn up at all hours and the staff knew right away each customers preferences for coffee etc or even just a friendly chat.
Overall the Cruise was enjoyable but certainly not perfect.
The Mini Suite cabin 609 was potentially suitable for my elderly parents and myself.
Unfortunately it was a DISASTER.
From the first night my fold out lounge/bed was really only suitable for a very young child.It had a 2'' foam mattress on a faulty spring camping bed.
Over the first 4 days I developed a severely bad back due entirely to the bed. The Cabin Steward each day tried to rectify the problem by adding bits of board and a newer foam mattress. The bed frame kept collapsing in the middle and was propped up with blocks of wood.
The lounge was not able to be used as the bed had to be left up 24/7
Each day attempts were made to rectify and eventually we had 3 mattresses stacked on top of each other which worked for a couple of days. Due to the movement of the ship this collapsed again and one morning after a bad night of little sleep I attempted get up and could barely walk, so great was the pain from my back.
I went to the purser and was told that staff would rectify the problem. This was 10 days into the cruise.
I arrived back at the cabin and there were 5 staff looking at the problem
They decided to bring in a new rollaway bed with a proper mattress.
This did rectify the problem of the bedding, however, we were still unable to use the lounge apart from sleeping as the bed was up 24/7.
If they had done this in the first place and taken away the faulty lounge/bed we would not have had a problem and would have been able to utilise the Mini Suite as intended. To access the Balcony I had to climb onto and over the bed and my elderly parents could not enter the lounge and had to enter and leave the cabin via the bathroom. Pretty POOR!
The city of Auckland is well set out on the Harbour.
After being on the ship for 4 days it was nice to have a good look around the City.
The tower is a must see. It was most exciting to see the jumpers on the cable from the tower.
Great city. The cable tram was a must see. It is only $3.50 to go to the top.The Tram Museum at the top is well worth a visit. On walking down from the top the pathways go through the Botanic Gardens with many photo opportunities.
Following the Gardens to walk back to the city is another 1 km passing through a quaint newly built little village.
The Wellington Harbour is very beautiful. On thing to look out for are the numerous homes which have been built with the only means of access being a cable car.
The ship was berthed right next to Westpac Stadium with a major football match in progress which gave a nice atmosphere from the top of the ship.
Now that the ship cannot visit Christchurch directly it stops at Akaroa some 80 kms away from Christchurch.
There are excursions into Christchurch where the pre earthquake shopping areas have been replaced by shipping containers which ahve been converted into shops. The containers have had windows cut into them and painted multicolours.
Much of Christchurch is now uninhabitable due to the earthquakes and continuing aftershocks.
Akaroa is a lovely port. It is accessed by tender which does limit the elderly.
It has a French influence. Shopping for something different is a highlight of Akaroa. There are numerous little cafes with local specialties.