This was my 10th or 11th cruise and the first time I’ve encountered the typical cruise stereotype. I would say 90% of the guests were 70+, this itinerary definitely draws an older crowd. We travelled with our children so they kept us ... Read More
This was my 10th or 11th cruise and the first time I’ve encountered the typical cruise stereotype. I would say 90% of the guests were 70+, this itinerary definitely draws an older crowd. We travelled with our children so they kept us occupied, but had it just been my husband and I, we would have been so bored and had it been my first cruise I’d likely not take another one. The activities was targeted to the ship demographic: bridge, mahjong, knitting (!!), bean bag toss, puzzles, putting contest; to name a few. I’ve never seen anything like it. Entertainment was similar for the most part, so I only saw 2 production shows in the theatre that appealed to me and they were both very good. I also saw a comedian who I found boring, but again I don’t think I was his demographic.
We dined at both specialty restaurants, the Crown Grill was good and Sabatinis was ok. We ate all other dinners in the Bernini dining room and the food was hit or miss. Some nights good and others, bland. The staff in there were absolutely fantastic. We ate breakfast in the buffet which was good and had good variety. I noticed most nights the buffet and dining rooms served the same food. The grill by the pool served good burgers for lunch, but I found the pizza like cardboard and bland. Kids LOVED the ice cream parlour! We ordered room service for lunch several times and it was really good. The coffee is horrible, we bought a coffee card so we could get cappuccinos, they were much better but still not fabulous.
The kids club is fantastic, my daughter loved going there. The pools didn’t appear to be heated, the indoor one seemed a bit warmer but still cold. The hot tubs were busy as a result of this. There was a kids outdoor play area and splash pool up too which was nice to have. I took advantage of a spa special one sea day and had a fantastic massage and facial.
We had a mini suite which suited us perfectly. Our room did leak, along with others neighbouring us, so we had wet carpet in several areas. Our steward took care of it, who was fabulous.
The itinerary was good, we did prefer the north island ports. We unfortunately missed the Fiordlands due to poor visibility, sea and weather conditions. We did not book any excursions as they are wayyyyy overpriced with Princess. Dunedin was a $20 roundtrip shuttle from Port Chalmers. It’s a small city with not a lot to do/see. We took the public bus to St Kilda beach and then just walked down the train station and grabbed a beer at a venue on the octagon. It rained a lot. Akaroa was a tender port, beautiful harbour and surrounding hills. It is a small town. We went to the beach and walked around the town. Had fish and chips as we wanted to try the blue cod. Wellington was next which was a fantastic day. A free shuttle was provided with 2 drop off points. We got off by the parliament and walked to the cable car. Had a fantastic coffee on the walk. The cable car was only $20 roundtrip for the 4 of us. The views at the top are amazing. We walked through the Botanical Gardens to the children’s play area which was great and then took the cable car back down. Walked over to the waterfront which is beautiful. Checked out another playground there, stopped for a beer and then walked the waterfront to Oriental Bay beach and playground. Caught the shuttle back at the 2nd drop off by the museum. Gisborne was next, we rented a car at RaD for $80 which was right by the port. Drove up Kaiti Hill for the beautiful views and then to Wainui beach. From there we drove through town and out to Bushmere Estates Winery. The staff were FANTASTIC, I highly recommend visiting this winery. They prepared a table outside for us to do a tasting and were so knowledgeable about their wines. Even provided colouring, bubbles and cookies for the kids. We ended the day at the beach in town. Mount Maunganui was next, we choose to stay in town and walked along pilot bay, up Mount Drury for great views, hung out on the main beach and explored adjacent Morturiki island. Walked through the town as well along Maunganui road which was full of shops and restaurants, etc. Last stop was Auckland and it was absolutely pouring which resulted us in going to the aquarium to escape the rain. There was a free shuttle there and back in the cbd called the shark bus. It was still raining when we returned to the cbd so we just grabbed a NZ souvenir and some ice cream and that was it for Auckland.
Embarkation was busy but efficient. We were in the last time slot to board so a majority of passengers were already on the ship. Embarkation was excellent, we chose to walk off with our luggage and there was no waiting.
This was a great way to see New Zealand. We had a good time but got tired of the food and crowd. Read Less