I chose this cruise for the deal & the opportunity to revisit the South Is & the Fjords which are amazing, the weather was perfect, raining enough for the waterfalls to be running & the weather cleared as the ship entered the ... Read More
I chose this cruise for the deal & the opportunity to revisit the South Is & the Fjords which are amazing, the weather was perfect, raining enough for the waterfalls to be running & the weather cleared as the ship entered the Sounds.
Embarkation was a breeze, 1pm & straight onto the ship in 15 mins, disembarkation was a bit slower but easy enough, off the ship by 0830 after a hearty breakfast in the MDR.
The transit across the Tasman Sea & return was smooth, the weather was perfect all the way until Day 8 when the wind & sea swell picked up as the ship headed up the west coast.
Food & Bev; i enjoyed breakfast in MDR each morning, lunch was usualy a snack in the Park Cafe which was mainly meat, salads & fruit, occasional visit to the Windjammer which provided plenty of variety but i don't think it was fresh by the time i got there around 145pm (avoiding peak hour), the Park Cafe is a better choice. Dinner was mainly in the MDR, here the dishes were a bit mixed, some nice, other's were sometimes overcooked (e.g. the fish), but overall happy with meals in MDR. The service by staff was great in the MDR very willing to please, if not happy with meal just ask for a replacement which they readily provide. The price of Alcohol drinks is a rip off, $13 USD for a glass of Cab Sav, go figure, make sure you take onboard the max. alcohol you are permitted. The drinks packages don't interest me, i have the occasional coffee or coke, water you can refill at the drinks terminal around the ship, just fill a glass & pour into your container to fulfil health requirements by not putting your bottle directly onto water tap.
Entertainment: the music around the ship was very good, 4 piece contemporary band & usual piano, guitar man in the pub, guitar & violin playing the Jazz Standards, the 2 piece Dance group. The theme nights went well, the 70-80s night & the Almost NYE party in the Centrum were good fun. The production shows in Aurora were the Piano Man & the City of Dreams, the former a bit tired the latter was a very enjoyable show. The Singers, Dancers & Show Band were excellent, they played the American Songbook in the Colony Club showing how polished they were with Count Basie style ensemble pieces. The featured artists ranged from poor to excellent for me, with plenty in the middle such as comedians etc. The Michael Jackson Experience was great, the audience could not get enough of TJ Capolla as MJ, he works hard & deserves credit for a entertaining show. Plenty of movies around the ship, top deck, the Cinema & Aurora Theatre. Plenty of dance classes to attend & learn some new moves, salsa, samba etc. The Cruise Director John Blair i liked a lot, I thought he handled the CD position very well, farewelling passengers as they disembarked was a nice touch.
Excursions & Ports; the ports are all great, we got off the boat & wandered around the ports at our own pace, the Excursions from the boat are too expensive for me, you can book ahead for train trips at Picton & Dunedin. In Wellington we were lucky to see the Terracota Warriors ( at least about 30) at the Te Papa Museum.
The ship is 17 yrs old being refurbished just a few years ago. I enjoyed the ship, its easy walking from the front to the back of ship, staff are always wiping down the handrails & cleaning the ship. The Solarium is an adults only area with a pool & spa, you can get a meal almost all day & night here, nice area to chill out. The gym is very good, all the equipment works & a good area for a stretch. The Centrum is the central place for most entertainment due to cool conditions on top deck. Plenty of sport facilities from basketball, mini golf, climbing wall.
The only enrichment was a talk from a Parks Ranger when the ship was at the Sounds, unfortunately for me i could not make out much of what he was saying even in the lecture in Aurora, i'm sure he had plenty of interesting stuff to talk about. A fellow passenger i spoke to was very dissapointed there were no Bridge games, she advertised it on the "whats on" board but got only one person interested for a game.
The Vitality Spa provide a much needed massage & a $50 voucher appeared in our room by about day 4, my companion enjoyed the massage & treatment.
The Cruise Critic meeting went well, CD John conducted this with soft drinks & snacks provided, a 10 min mix & mingle was fun, 1 min talk then move to next & so on, a good way to find someone who lives in an enjoining suburb as it turned out.
The Crown & Anchor meeting in the Colony Club was ok, the usual Captain & Crown & A speak. I thought the captain was invisible with this exception, i dont recall seeing him around the ship at all, ( i did not get to Dancing with the Stripes).
The staff were excellent, guest services, cabin steward, dining room staff, very happy with everyone i came into contact with. The Parade of Flags by all the 37 (?) nationalities on the ship was a blast, pictured below.
This is my 7th cruise with RC & i have enjoyed them all, would i go again ? yes, I'm a cruise junkie, enjoy meeting people from all walks of life & different places. Value for money RC suits my budget, but I would chose a more modern ship & try to avoid aft cabins if possible. Ovation is only 2 yr old with all the bells & whistles, Explorer & Voyager have the Ice Skating shows. Read Less