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12 Silversea Auckland Cruise Reviews

This trip should b a no brainer for SS, but it's not. To many little issues turn into stupidity. Examples, a Milk shake in US is made with ice cream and milk, they use no milk but use ice. Very difficult to explain how to make ... Read More
This trip should b a no brainer for SS, but it's not. To many little issues turn into stupidity. Examples, a Milk shake in US is made with ice cream and milk, they use no milk but use ice. Very difficult to explain how to make since there order system doesn’t allow explanations. The restaurants have a set menu, which means no different meals. Oceania, Regent, Crystal all have new menus for dinner every day, they also post outside what that nights menu is. The food is good but trying to customize a meal is difficult as you must order at least 24 hrs in advance. All, except 2 restaurants, must have a reservation, even though they are not filled. With empty tables at 8PM, you cannot just walk in. When we boarded we were told we needed an Australian Visa...but why wasn’t that notification made prior to boarding? So, request was made by Muse, but they applied to agency other than govnmt. Which charged more than double, notification was made about the problem and I was told I had to solve it. Fortunately others had same problem, so Muse handled the problem. Read Less
Sail Date February 2019
Superb from embarkation to disembarkation. My daughter took me on this cruise to celebrate a milestone birthday and I could not recommend it highly enough. She has sailed with Silversea before so I knew what to expect but it exceeded ... Read More
Superb from embarkation to disembarkation. My daughter took me on this cruise to celebrate a milestone birthday and I could not recommend it highly enough. She has sailed with Silversea before so I knew what to expect but it exceeded my expectations by a thousand percent. The service, the dining experiences, the amazing staff, the excursions, the suite, our butler and cabin attendant, the pool, the gym and all the extra little touches were beyond comparison. (I travelled on a Celebrity cruise last year and I would give that half a star (only for the excursions). Silversea would rate 10 stars if it was possible. From the room attendants, the wait staff, right up to the Captain, everyone went out of their way to be polite, friendly and helpful. Our suite was so comfortable, even including a bath! and a seperate dressing room. Our needs were met promptly and efficiently and we never felt that anything was too much trouble for the crew. Every day another new surprise greeted us. From exclusive chocolates on our beds at night to a waiter complimenting me on my jewellery and even remembering that my daughter was wearing something similar several nights before. The meals were like dining in a 5 star restaurant each time. It’s very easy to put on some weight. Silversea is expensive but it’s all inclusive, so you never feel as though someone is fawning over you just to earn a tip, which is what has happened on other cruises I’ve taken. Will definitely be sailing Silversea again. Read Less
Sail Date February 2019
Lawrence was amazing in talking about wine, so much so, fasting and not eating would have been an option. But not one beef serving was edible. We laughed at lunch when the knife could not cut the beef and the kangaroo was more tender. ... Read More
Lawrence was amazing in talking about wine, so much so, fasting and not eating would have been an option. But not one beef serving was edible. We laughed at lunch when the knife could not cut the beef and the kangaroo was more tender. Again, would go to drink wine, but fillet in Indochine tasted like liver and even cheeseburger had No beef taste. Appears Royal Caribbean’s purchase poses issues. Rueben sandwich at lunch had quarter inch non chewable pieces of corned beef. Corned beef hash was not edible at breakfast. Breakfast sausage was unchewable. Cheeseburger had less taste than fast food American Burger King. Ship is nice and new, under decorated. Line must have run out of money during process. Would return for wine lectures, but not to eat. We laughed at lunch when the kangaroo meat was easier to cut than the beef freshly cut across the Dias. But it is not funny. This is a new magnificent ship with a crew trying so hard, a great butler, and yet you chew a piece of waygu beef, on and on, and put it back on your fork, and hide it on your plate from the attentive trying staff who are trying to do their best. Lobster tail twice with so much cartilage to be inedible. Why, we wonder, when everything else seems great. Crew seems on edge. Butler was great but asked if we would rate him, as though things were in flux. He was great. Food was not. Read Less
Sail Date January 2019
We wanted to visit New Zealand and Australia at this time of the year and had heard good things about Silversea. If the Silver Shadow is an example of the Silversea cruise line, we will never travel on a Silversea ship again. The ship is ... Read More
We wanted to visit New Zealand and Australia at this time of the year and had heard good things about Silversea. If the Silver Shadow is an example of the Silversea cruise line, we will never travel on a Silversea ship again. The ship is very old and most definitely not the luxurious ship it's promoted, the restaurant staff was poorly trained and no one seemed to be supervising the staff, the food mediocre, not fresh many of the times as if recycled over and over. Over-all the ship did not live up to what we expected from the advertisements. We've cruised with three other cruise lines, but this was the first time we couldn't wait to get off the ship. Also, this was the first of the cruises that we've taken where the most common discussion among fellow passengers was how disappointed they were the accommodations, food and restaurant staff, and some were first-time Silversea passengers and others were passengers that have sailed with Silversea several times. After leaving the the ship and moving to our hotel, we'd still be in Sydney if we hadn't questioned why we hadn't been given our departure information to the airport. We had to call Silversea to find out when we'd be picked up. The positives of the cruise were that the the shore excursion cruise desk people, the shore excursions themselves, though expensive were excellent, the entertainment and the housekeepers were also excellent. We will never sail with Silversea again. Read Less
Sail Date December 2017
We chose this cruise because of the itinerary, rating of cruise line and were told the ship had been renovated the year before. We were hugely disappointed. The Embarkation and disembarkation went smoothly, including the stops. ... Read More
We chose this cruise because of the itinerary, rating of cruise line and were told the ship had been renovated the year before. We were hugely disappointed. The Embarkation and disembarkation went smoothly, including the stops. That's where the good news ends. The staff on the ship were not well trained. The servers had these tablets they took orders on and they had pictures of all the cruisers so they could identify us but it was more of a distraction than a help because the really didn't listen to us they were more worried about writing on the tablet than listening to our orders. I think that's one reason they got everything wrong. They got it wrong nine out of ten times. Something as simple as having my cream on the table before my coffee got cold. Every morning before my coffee was poured I asked for cream for my coffee. They poured the coffee and then I asked for the cream again and then it took ten minutes for the cream to show up. This wasn't once or twice but every morning. The quality of the food was below average. We were in Australia and New Zealand and the fruit was tasteless. Nothing tasted like it should. The pastries and desserts all tasted alike. The chef did a cooking demonstration and didn't wear gloves and he was coughing all over the food. The cabin was worn out except the bathroom was very nice with two sinks and plenty of storage but we had to ask for shampoo and body lotion replacements almost like there was a shortage. The bed felt lumpy and worn to the point of needing replacement. The ship felt clean, plenty of restrooms with plenty of anti-bacterial dispensers everywhere. The entertainment was OK,not good but OK. Kirk the cruise director was excellent. The best show of the week was two nights before this ship pulled into our last stop and he did the entire show. It was the so much fun and everyone laughed and had a good time. The shore excursions were sub par as well, there was one that we all got 50% of our charge back because it was so awful. One example was Christchurch post Earthquake. They dropped us in town at some museum and told us that the bus will leave in three hours so be back by then. No map,no directions just go off. This was not even in the center of town. This was our first time on Silver Seas and will never again cruise with them. We were not alone. There were a good number of people unhappy with the ship as we were. Possibly 25% of the people. Some that had sailed with the SS previously and were upset and disappointed. When you're spending this much money you expect more Read Less
Sail Date December 2017
chose the cruise for silver sea reputation and ports of call. too many sea days, some ports of call were a total waste of time. could have stayed longer in main ports, bali and perth. perhaps cost of ports was too high to remain ... Read More
chose the cruise for silver sea reputation and ports of call. too many sea days, some ports of call were a total waste of time. could have stayed longer in main ports, bali and perth. perhaps cost of ports was too high to remain there. would not recommend this ship or ports of call to anyone. excursion director had poor attitude and not professional. restaurants excluding pool area were excellent. staff extremely courteous and professional at all times. some managers need to learn how to deal with issues. ist cruise auckland had many unhappy cruisers, 2nd out of sydney less issues but still management needs to learn how to follow up and deal with customers this ship has aged and needs a facelift. i sailed with silver seas a few years ago and the ship was excellent, time has not been kind to this one. i would not recommend to my friends to sail on this ship. Read Less
Sail Date December 2017
We were on two legs of the cruise that started at the date listed in Auckland and completed in Singapore on 01/21/2018. We wanted to see part of Australia. It's so large you have to go at least two to three times. We added New ... Read More
We were on two legs of the cruise that started at the date listed in Auckland and completed in Singapore on 01/21/2018. We wanted to see part of Australia. It's so large you have to go at least two to three times. We added New Zealand to the itinerary because of travel costs, flights in business class are so high at that duration and distance. We're glad we added New Zealand. The shore excursions ( we planned ourselves ) were so much more enjoyable than Australia's few ports that weren't large beautiful cities. The Silver Shadow is old and needs refurbishment. The food was excellent one day and poor the next, very in consistent. The service was excellent from most individuals and poor from a few. The passengers skew old to very old "cruisee's" if I can make up a work. Too many infirm people and too many sick people coughing with colds. Some times in ports were way too inadequate, most excursions run by the cruise line were simply put, bad. Read Less
Sail Date December 2017
We chose this cruise for the itinerary - Auckland NZ to Sydney AUS - and over Christmas/New Year's holidays. We've done about 50 cruises in the last 20 years on a number of lines. Most recently we took three cruises on Crystal ... Read More
We chose this cruise for the itinerary - Auckland NZ to Sydney AUS - and over Christmas/New Year's holidays. We've done about 50 cruises in the last 20 years on a number of lines. Most recently we took three cruises on Crystal but began to notice things slipping as they seem to have lost sight of their core cruise business as they have expanded. So we were eager to see what Silversea had to offer. The service aboard the ship is uniformly top-notch. We never encountered anyone who wasn't eager to please and go out of their way to assist. The ports of call were all very interesting and the shore excursions we chose were enjoyable and informative. The ship, while recently updated, is nevertheless showing her age. Furnishings were all current and well-maintained. But it still comes across as somewhat dowdy. We did find the size of the ship to be ideal; it was easy to get anywhere easily. We dined most evenings in the main Restaurant and found the food to be well-prepared and presented. There was a bit of overlap with similar dishes cropping up on several occasions (duck, goose, etc.). The soups were superb. Bread seemed a bit less perfect and the breadsticks on the tables were usually stale. The appetizers were the least inspired - everything is either tartare or carpaccio from meats to vegetables. Nice pastas and vegetarian selections. We also appreciated the fact that the menus were delivered to our suite every evening for the next day's lunch and dinner. Lots of press given to "La Dame” (nee Le Champagne), a Relais & Chateaux specialty restaurant. This was a big disappointment in almost every sense. The service was slow and the asst waiter could not answer any questions about the menu other than to recite what was printed on the menu. Simple questions like is the glaze on the duck breast sweet or savory. Quite odd considering that the menu does not change. The Dover sole was rolled up pieces of sole, overcooked. And the lobster was adrift at sea in a puree of green peas and mint. Perhaps a riff on mushy peas but misbegotten, nonetheless. The wines served were pretty generic - we overheard passengers at a nearby table complaining that they were "supermarket” grade. In general, we found the wines served at every venue in the ship to be less than distinguished. While focused on European and local vintages, they have very little to offer in the way of Californian, South American, African or other wines. After trying virtually everything they brought out, we found ourselves longing for anything with some oomph. We resorted to purchasing wines on several occasions from the Connoisseur's list - and maybe that was the underlying intent. The room service breakfast menu is the most extensive we have ever seen and we enjoyed breakfast in our cabin (Medallion Suite) every morning. Our butler was regular as clockwork with ice and canapes in the afternoon. Our suite was extremely spacious and had an unbelievable amount of storage space in addition to the huge walk-in closet. All in all, this was one of the most enjoyable cruises we have taken - in part due to the itinerary but also to the high level of service we received. We would do Silversea again if the itinerary and schedule were appropriate but I am not certain we would venture to try "La Dame” again. Read Less
Sail Date December 2017
I have sailed solo before so this was not my first rodeo. I've done lower-end cruise lines with 5,000 of my closest friends out of Bayonne and Florida. I've also done Seabourn, which I felt compelled to give up because of their ... Read More
I have sailed solo before so this was not my first rodeo. I've done lower-end cruise lines with 5,000 of my closest friends out of Bayonne and Florida. I've also done Seabourn, which I felt compelled to give up because of their disgracefully lax smoking policies. Last year, I did a nice, long, Oceania cruise from Chile to Tahiti by way of Robinson Caruso and Easter Islands -- where I discovered that I enjoyed the hikes and bird watching more than the passengers who complained that the hikes were too long. So this year for my Christmas cruise, I chose something very different - an expedition cruise in the Sub-antarctic Islands of New Zealand. And what a wonderful trip it was. In fact, I'd call it life-transforming. I've lived and worked, biked, hiked and dived around the world but the sheer beauty and numbers of birds and plant life, stark islands, not to mention the sea lions and seals - gave me a new perspective. We traveled with people who really knew their stuff - they were not university has-beens looking for a cheap vacation providing boring lectures. These were experts of all ages, seasoned professionals and people who truly, thoroughly loved their subject-matter. The NZ Department of Conservation stationed someone on our ship to make certain that we complied with all of their stringent rules and did not adversely affect the environment - and she was a bonus insofar as understanding the local issues. And if the ship's experts did not know every detail of their subject matter, there were passengers who often knew nearly as much and were happy to give you another point of view about volcanoes and sediment and rocks and such. We had about 45 fellow passengers and all were well-educated, knowledgeable, interesting conversationalists, and generally thoughtful. Only two were smokers -- one used the electronic variety -- but they were relegated in this behavior to a small area at the stern. Among the passengers were equal numbers of Americans, British, Kiwi and Aussies -- with a smattering of others from places like Italy, Sweden and the Netherlands. One was a travel writer getting grist for her work. Others included a chemist, geologist/map specialist, a retired judge, airline CFO, captains of industry, school teachers and administrators, attorneys, a Russian tour operator, a STEM Science promoter, at least one medical doctor -- and a host of people who never really discussed their backgrounds because they were so busy otherwise. This ship had a woman captain. A woman expedition director. A woman chef. Wow. Lots of faith in women with this cruise line! And they did a great job - they looked a little stressed in the morning after rough seas and planning sessions to ensure that we had the most comfortable ride possible through swells and wind. But they did their jobs with such professionalism that I felt confident whenever I saw them at work. Which brings me to an important point -- expedition cruising is not for the faint of heart. If you get sea sick on a cruise to Bermuda, this is not the right cruise for you. This ship will pitch and roll and you will need to secure your belongings and go easy on the booze when you hit rough water - besides - you will be getting up early to get out on zodiac cruises and you want to have some sense of balance. DO NOT forget your gear for wet landings. Pay attention to the manifest and plan accordingly. But do not bother to read the recommended books -- just pack your waterproof stuff, order your parka, and show up. The outstanding crew will do the rest. If your favorite activity is shopping, then consider something else. Gambling? Maybe someone will bet you on the number of new bird species that you will see. If you want prizes from trivia games, then book someplace else -- we did have a couple of trivia contests but all you got was a wink and a smile if you won and there were no real rules and no one really cared. But this crowd really did tea - every single day. No kidding. And it was fun. Also fun - the best New Year's Eve party ever on a cruise ship. Usually you have to try and find the crew party - but the crew partied with us. Mercifully, we did not need to get up and do much the next morning as I was on the dance floor until 1:00 am. They put on a show ahead of time - none of this pretense about having entertainment professionals - just a happy bunch of amateurs - sort of like banquet night at summer camp. Next time, they should have the passengers join in and do whatever they do as well. That could have interesting results. And a shout-out to Chef Tracy and her magnificent crew of cooks and servers for making every dinner a fine experience, even if you decided to eat outside at the back of the ship and your wine glass flew off the table. Since there was a great deal of cappuccino drinking, the servers engaged in a humorous contest to develop three-dimensional designs - hearts and bears and kiwis. It was fun entertainment for meal times. Were there imperfections? Sure. Were they that noticeable - not really unless you liked to dwell on such things. There were some water issues given the age of the ship but they worked hard at correction. The butler/room steward service was such that I couldn't leave for a short time without having my shoes straightened. An older and smaller ship presents serious issues and the crew rose to all challenges. I may go again on another expedition cruise or just try one of the different Silversea ships. Either way, this cruise line has won me over. They have faith in their women employees and place them in positions of responsibility. They work hard to provide great service. They treat solo travelers with respect and the same amount of attention that they give to couples and families. Read Less
Sail Date December 2015
This will be as hard for me to write as it will for Silversea fans to read and I will try to be as objective and fair as possible in my comments. But when you've had an unhappy experience the devil is in the detail so while some of ... Read More
This will be as hard for me to write as it will for Silversea fans to read and I will try to be as objective and fair as possible in my comments. But when you've had an unhappy experience the devil is in the detail so while some of you may think I'm being too harsh or unreasonable and many more will disagree with me I'm going to give my honest opinion from the perspective of a Silversea first timer writing as an experienced cruiser with Crystal, Regent and Seabourn. Our first criteria when choosing a cruise is the itinerary so when I saw this Silversea Auckland-Melbourne trip it seemed ideal and the perfect opportunity to sample Silversea for the first time. These "top four" companies all aim to provide more or less the same product so while they offer a similar overall experience, their differences can make or break our enjoyment. I'm afraid ours was broken. Put simply, this was not a happy ship. That elusive atmosphere of people relaxing, socialising, making new friends and generally having a great time was missing and, apart from a few notable exceptions, too many were aloof, unfriendly, unapproachable and sometimes downright rude. There were impenetrable "cliques" who clearly regarded even a friendly "good morning" as intrusive. The uneasy mood applied to some of the staff and crew too and service seemed slow and disorganised, even chaotic at times. One got the sense they sometimes lacked proper training or supervision so that cheerful "spark" was missing and morale seemed low. The Ship : Clean and well maintained but the drab brown/maroon Art Deco theme makes the interior spaces and public rooms seem dark and enclosed. Any natural light is absorbed by the decor which doesn't help the overall ambiance. This is a matter of personal taste of course but we didn't like it. None of the public rooms were especially appealing or welcoming and there is a marked lack of natural light everywhere. The small, cramped theatre in particular is very gloomy. The artwork, some for sale at ridiculous prices, was uninspiring. Overall 7/10 The suite : Spacious with plenty of storage but again it was rather dark and dreary. Comfortable bed but no clock near it. The flat screen TVs recessed behind the mirrors are a big Minus. Poor visibility and watching yourself watching TV (especially in bed) is extremely distracting. Eeeeek! The remote control was very temperamental and you had to be at exactly the right angle for it to work. Good movie selection but the other news-only channels were limited and boring. Bathroom has a welcome full size tub and roomy separate shower stall with a great overhead cascade shower head and good water pressure. The sink design is impractical and the fiddly tap very annoying. Generous verandah. Overall 7/10 The Staff : Superficially smiling and friendly but they just didn't seem happy and on a couple of occasions were downright surly. Service was woefully slow and/or disorganised sometimes for no apparent reason. One just got the impression there was chaos behind the scenes and they were not pulling together as a "team". We still don't see the point of Butlers and on the rare occasions we needed to call ours it was hit and miss whether he responded. The cruise director, Don Fluke, was practically invisible and we never saw him around and about except during super competitive (as usual!) trivia and MCing the evening show. A good CD should be aware of the general "vibe" among his pax and be proactive in ensuring any problems addressed quickly. He should at least get out there and engage with people. I'm afraid this one wasn't doing that - he just wasn't around, only the occasional voice over the tannoy. Other senior staff and officers were equally elusive compared to others we've known. Overall 7/10 The Passengers : We met some delightful people we now consider friends, but the overall demographic was most definitely Grumpy Senior and trying to even make polite eye contact with many of them was impossible, let alone strike up a conversation. They just didn't want to know. Maybe the rotten weather and rough seas affected their ability to relax and enjoy themselves or maybe they were just snobs but it certainly put a real damper on the whole trip for us. Even when the weather improved, the sour attitude of many pax didn't. Get over yourselves and lighten up people! Overall 5/10 Dining. : the main Restaurant is pretty much what you'd find on any ship like this. Service was efficient enough but slow and it was sometimes difficult to explain special requests, eg, sauce on the side. La Terrazza, complete with traditional intimidating maître d' is the busy but dark and gloomy breakfast buffet and lunch venue and then becomes a booking only Italian restaurant for dinner, very much like the Regent Sette Mari concept. The Pool Grill serves the usual burger-type fare through the day (but no salad buffet) and then offers a Hot Rocks "cook your own" system for dinner, again you have to pre-book. There is no light supper or snack facility in the evening apart from Room Service. I suspect this move away from buffet dining generally is more about strict portion control and cost cutting than what the customers want. We didn't try the specialist restaurant Seishin so can't comment but we were given a surprise booking we hadn't asked for at Le Champagne. We were also given different bookings to those we'd asked for or at different venues to those we thought we'd booked. The whole booking system was a shambles. In any event I was told by a Silversea regular that people book everything they can on day one and then don't bother to turn up or cancel so there seem to be empty tables in "fully booked" venues. The Food. : Very average, and some very obvious cost cutting in evidence everywhere. It just lacked the Wow factor. I don't consider a dollop of tomato ketchup on three semi frozen prawns and watery lettuce a "luxury prawn cocktail", or a few lumps of rubbery Edam a "cheese selection". As for the cold, soggy "classic Silversea burger", I've had better McDonalds. Having said that we aren't foodies and and eating isn't the purpose of cruising for us so while the uninspiring, bland, over-sweet repetitive menus with few choices and meagre portions were disappointing, it wasn't a disaster. We didn't risk the lunchtime sushi which had obviously been prepared well in advance and didn't look especially fresh or appetising (or safe). And a quick question: why do we have to place a special order for simple breakfast toast? Were Noro precautions in place? If so, nobody told us. Wines were limited and average at best and it was very hard to get a straight answer from the sommeliers exactly what choices were available, let alone a real wine list. Overall 6/10 The Entertainment : Competent but predictable and boring. A 10pm start for the production shows is way too late after a long day of busy excursions so we missed most of them. Or maybe we just aren't the party animals we used to be! However, the entertainers in the bars and other more intimate venues were very talented and enjoyable. The enrichment lectures were OK. Overall 7/10 Excursions : We only did a couple but they were well organised and interesting. There seems to be enough flexibility in the system to change/cancel bookings at short notice which is a Plus. Overall 8/10 Casino : We aren't gamblers, didn't use it and so can't comment but it appeared to be closed or practically deserted most of the time. Shops : Large space dedicated to jewellery/watches and a shop selling high end cosmetics, perfumes, handbags and limited clothing. Useful things like basic toiletries, toothpaste, deodorant etc were kept hidden away in a cupboard so you had to ask for assistance. No Silversea merchandise (pens, hats, etc) available as far as I could see. Clothing prices were outrageous, $200+ for a cotton teeshirt anyone? Overall 5/10 And speaking of outrageous, let's talk about the Internet : Various packages available, all expensive. The basic Pay As You Go charge is 50c per minute. This is pure extortion, there's no other word for it in this day and age. The actual system was very unreliable anyway which makes the price even more outrageous. There was no IT assistance available except for 1 hour per day from a bored and distracted crew member who obviously thought he had better things to do. Overall 3/10 Embarkation was a breeze and took 10 mins max. Disembarkation was a 2 hour ordeal caused by bad organisation. Overall 5/10 So, did we have a good trip? Any time spent on a ship is good so in that sense we enjoyed it. The Silver Spirit handles rough seas very comfortably which was just as well because we did have some lumpy weather, although the 2-day crossing of the notorious Tasman Sea was unusually calm. But I'm afraid we were left feeling very disappointed, and yes, ripped off, as were quite a few other pax we managed to strike up a conversation and compare notes with. One couple on the whole LA-LA 64 day round trip were already wondering if they had made a huge and expensive mistake, and another was ready to jump ship well before their final destination. I don't believe we have unrealistic expectations, nor are we picky, high maintenance complainers but if something just isn't right we will say so, especially when we know other cruise lines can do it so much better. Every cruise line has its loyal followers so I'm sure my comments won't be well received by some but after this experience we won't be cruising with Silversea again, no matter how tempting the itinerary. It's back to Seabourn or Regent for us.   Read Less
Sail Date February 2015
My husband and I picked up the Auckland-Melbourne leg of this cruise February 12. Overall, we enjoyed the cruise, though there was room for improvement as noted below. The beautiful scenery of New Zealand and smooth flow of the cruise ... Read More
My husband and I picked up the Auckland-Melbourne leg of this cruise February 12. Overall, we enjoyed the cruise, though there was room for improvement as noted below. The beautiful scenery of New Zealand and smooth flow of the cruise fortunately made up for the mild to moderate service flaws we experienced on this ultraluxury small ship which competes with Regent and Seabourn. PRE-CRUISE: We spent two days prior to the cruise in Auckland . We stayed at the conveniently located Auckland Hilton, right on the pier near where the ship docked, which has a wonderful (though expensive) view restaurant called Fish. We also independently toured excellent wineries and had a gourmet lunch on Waiheke Island the day before the cruise at the fantastic and scenic Mudbrick Restaurant. I recommend allowing at least two full days for touring in and around Auckland as it is a delightful port with many options for half-day or full-day excursions, a good port choice by SS. AMBIENCE: We had been on the Spirit before in May for the Monaco Grand Prix cruise in 2014 (see my separate cruise review from then). As before, the ship was very clean, with nice lines, and is elegantly designed (though I personally do not like a lot of the artwork adorning the walls, e.g., the African works and pop photographs), and appeared well-maintained. It was quiet and nicely air-conditioned in public and private areas. The chairs in the restaurants and lounges are soft and comfortable and public areas are uncrowded. Boarding was easy and pleasant and coming on/off the ship at each port was also easy (other than in Melbourne, where it took a full hour to get off the ship for our excursion). There were many passengers already on board who had boarded in Los Angeles, or earlier, many of whom seemed a bit bored with the cruising they had done to date, but I doubt that is atypical for older passengers on long trips. Passengers seemed to be, for the most part, between the ages of 65 and 75, though some were much older. A few were in wheelchairs, some were stroke victims, some were much younger (or at least young at heart) and some were very healthy and fit appearing. I did not see (or want to see) any small children, though I read on a CC post that the captain’s wife had her well-behaved baby on board with her and on some excursions. This is not really a ship for children. Most passengers appeared to be native English speakers, either North American or British, though there were also Germans, a couple Spaniards, French, and a few Japanese passengers on board (and probably others I did not identify). Passengers were all polite, well-dressed and mostly well-traveled and affluent at varying levels, though some passengers we met seemed to prefer monologues to dialogues. Crew in restaurants and housekeeping and maintenance areas appeared to be primarily Filipino descent, though there was a mix of origins. They spoke English with passengers, and either English or Tagalog or their native languages with each other. The quality of English spoken by basic crew ranged from poor to outstanding (mostly somewhere in between). Crew smiled frequently, though some smiles were forced. Officers were European and spoke excellent English (they also obliged with a very nice bridge tour). The chef is French, from Bordeaux, and an absolute delight, very animated (he led a galley tour and a wine/food demonstration, great fun). He sets high standards for his staff, and told us he requires they take a quiz identifiying passenger names and faces, which are posted on the kitchen walls. FOOD: overall, good to very good, except for room service breakfast (the few times we ordered the latter, we often were delivered the wrong items, hot foods were served cold, or we received comical variants of what we had requested, such as an ultradiluted Tang-like pale pink liquid that was supposed to be OJ, or dry cereal but no milk) Once we ordered a room service “cheese plate” and what appeared was a plate of 10 small pieces of identical brie cheese instead of a variety (quicker to fix the plate that way). Our favorite restaurant for breakfast or lunch buffet was La Terrazza where we could choose from a variety of freshly baked breads, croissants, fruit, cheeses, meats, yoghurt, fruit, egg and sausage dishes, pizza, pasta, sushi, even European style creamed herring. We loved dining outside on the deck (choice of sun or shade). We had one excellent meal (lamb) in Le Champagne. Stars’ small plates, accompanied by a talented jazz singer and pianist, was also very pleasant, interesting. The food in The Restaurant was generally quite good though there were some tasteless pasta-in-red-sauce or rubber fish dishes ( the service was another story, see below). Unfortunately there did not appear to be anywhere to get some quick food of any kind other than through room service between 10 and 11AM, and between 11 and 12PM there is only service on the outside patio deck (not very convenient if you either have an afternoon excursion at 12:30 or 13:00, or the weather is inclement). However, with enough planning, there was never a risk of going hungry! SERVICE: Here is where we had some problems, primarily with the butler and the main dining room wait staff. Our veranda suite was immaculate on arrival and was kept in that condition the whole cruise, as before. The sheets were soft, the towels were soft and thirsty, and nothing was broken (not even the sink and tub stoppers which are often the first to go). There was both a shower and a separate soaking tub and a full supply of several kinds of toiletries, and a pillow menu. The butler did not appear until we had already been checked into our room for several hours (he apologized for being late). Having traveled with SS before, I knew what I would want: I presented him with a modest written list of requests for the room , and reviewed these with him verbally as well to make sure he understood them. It took about three days before we finally got the mini-bar properly stocked, and I took to writing out a day by day request list and leaving it on the bed to avoid confusion between him and housekeeping. On the first day I noted the mattresses on both sides of the bed were quite hard and asked if they could be flipped to the soft side (as had been done on the Silver Cloud for us in the past). Without looking, he said he thought they were already on the soft sides. I asked him to doublecheck when we went to dinner and he said he would. We returned, but there was no comment. The next day I again asked him about the mattresses, and he fired back (inaccurately) that they were already on the soft sides. Eventually my husband and I flipped the mattresses ourselves and found there were indeed softer sides (we can only conclude the butler did not want to bother to look and just made up that we were already on the soft side to save work). As a bonus, when we flipped the mattress, one side had a yellow-discolored mattress cover. There were also incidents where it appeared the butler and his assistant were determined to do things their way, no matter what, even if we did not want them done that way: e.g., they charged into our room despite a Do Not Disturb sign when just an hour before my husband had told the housekeeper that I was seasick and was resting and did not want to be disturbed. They insisted that it is their “policy” to call and if no answer then come into the room even with the sign up if they had not been in earlier in the day (and apparently even if they had just seen us and been told NOT to come in). Another incident showing a mechanical, no-judgment style was one late afternoon, when we had no sign out yet but the room had been serviced earlier. The housekeeper rang the bell and when I opened the door she was standing there holding cotton balls, indicating she wanted to put them into the bathroom. I first told her I did not need any balls, but she insisted on offering them, so I offered to take the few balls from her so I could just close the door. I was tired and did not want or need her coming into the room, but she refused to give them to me, and instead insisted on going with the balls into the bathroom, only to discover that the cottonball container on the high shelf was already full. The main dining room personnel, though sometimes good, often appeared overworked and uninterested in doing anything other than their minimum and there is a lot of “someone else will do this” attitude. They rarely came over to ask how our food was after bringing it. Our first night, we sat over a half hour without even drink offerings. On other nights, personnel would often just come over and start pouring the generic white wine of the evening for everyone if the first person said he wanted white, without asking what others wanted. One evening my husband and I joined a table set for 8, and the waiter came and poured white for everyone and ran off before I could ask for red instead. I tried to catch his eye for 15-20 minutes, but he was busy studying his tablet, not looking up at our table at all. When I finally caught him, I asked to try the red. 10 minutes later, still no wine, so I waved at him at his station when he finally looked up. He immediately knew what I wanted as he then grabbed the red of the day which he’d forgotten to bring. As it was warm, and awful, I again tried to catch his eye, and after more struggles, asked for the Connoisseur’s wine list as I knew where on the list the wine I wanted was and could quickly show him. Three people and 15 minutes later I got the list, and to save time quickly pointed out the bottle of wine I wanted which had the price clearly marked. Instead of taking the order I wanted to give, the waitress ran off, hoping someone else would take the actual order, and another person eventually came. I thought I was finally set, but then instead of bringing the wine, the first waiter came over yet again, after another 10 minutes delay, to show me that there is a price to the wine I wanted, to make sure I would know there is a charge, which was already quite obvious! As I had specifically asked for the Connoisseur’s menu, which has prices marked, I was annoyed that yet another delay was somehow justified to make sure I REALLY knew that I would be paying extra. By the time I finally got the nicer wine, I felt exhausted enough to need a stiff drink instead. Perhaps if I’d been wearing formalwear I’d have had better luck. In general, our perception was it was a long and difficult process on the cruise to order upgraded wine, either in the restaurants or in the room (where no wine menu is available – there is a food menu and a caviar menu but not the Connoisseur’s list, and to get that, you have to call the butler and start the struggles there). We would have ordered a lot more higher quality wine if it were not such a strain to do so each time. Not uncommonly personnel also exhibited a “not my problem” attitude: in La Terrazza, the big, grind-style salt shaker on our table did not work (likely due to trapped moisture). The waiter tried it, no go, and I commented to him that many of the shakers on board did not work, likely due to moisture, so perhaps they could consider adding water absorbing substances (or rice). He managed to extract enough salt for my dish from another shaker that was slighty less impacted, and then took the broken shaker and just stuck it on the next empty table (instead of removing it from the dining room to get the moisture problem fixed). Another time I noticed papers blew off a tray a waiter was carrying on the outside deck , and they looked like they were headed for the sea. Another waiter came by, looked right at the papers, which appeared to be receipts of sort, ,and kept on walking, leaving them on the ground (not his problem, apparently). In contrast, the front desk personnel and cruise/social directors were all friendly and helpful with proper executive function and judgment. The cruise consultant, however, was less friendly (other than in public, such as at the boisterous Venetian welcome), and was not in his office very often. My sense when I inquired about 2016 cruises was that he is tired of his job, or perhaps would prefer to deal with male customers or both man/woman together when they book. SHOWS: a small group of delightful, talented enthusiastic singers did a good job performing everything from ABBA to opera. I went to all but one of their shows (hint: don’t sit in the front row during the Dancing Queen number or you may land up on the stage). There was also a very talented and beautiful classical pianist Van-Anh Ngueyn whose playing moved me to tears. SPA: my husband loved the massages once I convinced him to go try them, and I loved the manicures and the pleasant lady from Latvia (Kristine )who did them (but not the world-beat pounding music that was playing there) EXCURSIONS were overall well-organized, except in Melbourne (1 hour to disembark for a tour). In Tauranga we went on the Volcanic White Island tour by Helicopter, fantastic (I hope to post pictures my husband took)! Ulva Island excursion (off of Stewart Island) is also a not to be missed walk for light to moderate hikers, beautiful and invigorating. Milford Sound was also spectacular, postcard perfect. In sum, we enjoyed the cruise, despite some annoyances, and would consider returning to SS for the right itinerary (though our next two cruises are booked with Seabourn, to test them out and compare). But we do hope that the main dining room waiter and suite personnel training will improve. I hope to post some pictures showing “best of” in the near future.   Read Less
Sail Date February 2015
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