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cruiser_myt

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  1. South Island Wellington The port is not walking distance to so shuttle from the cruise ship will drop you either downtown near the government building or near the I-Site office near Cuba street. If you get off at the second stop near the Wellington I-site there are numerous tour buses -New Zealand Hop On HopOff. one of the buses is for the Zealandia a wildlife sanctuary not far. they pick you up and learn a great deal about native birds in New Zealand and again get to feed Kookimari birds out of your hand. they have a bus that will drop you off at the top of the hill where Wellington Cable car and Royal Botanical Gardens are. we did that as the lines are a LOT shorter at the top of the hill and the bottom. Once at the bottom you can then walk back to the other museums near the bay. The national Museum of New Zealand was free and the Gallipoli exhibit with models from WETA (lord of the rings studio) were impressive. the Wellington Museum is also worth a stop while downtown. walking up to Mount Victoria is another option time permitting Napier again there are shuttles from the port that will take you to town and drop you outside the I-site visitor center near downtown or further down the beach at the Aquarium. The aquarium supposedly is nice but we opted to spend the majority of the day there simply walking around enjoying the shop restaurants and the wonderful art deco architecture in Napier. you can't do a lot since there is an early disembarkation I think we had to be back on the ship at 1:30 PM. Again there were wine tours. There were guided tours of the city as well as walking tours. Most of this you can figure out on your own. Try and find Clive square which is a really scenic public park on the outskirts of the art deco district . walking along the boardwalk known as the Maine parade is a great way to start or end your day. The aquarium has some impressive paintings on its exterior Tauranga/Rotorua There is a bus that will take you in to Tauranga after you go through the gates of the port terminal. There two desks that will connect you with tour operators before going through the terminal gates . You can connect with tour companies and book things on the spot that will be cheaper than HAL. we opted for the Rotorua HopOn HopOff bus that will simply drive you to Rotorua that is an hour south of Tauranga. the HopOn HopOff is run by Bethlehem Coach lines. It offers a number of options stops including Whakarewarewa, Te Puia, Skyline/Gondola ride/Sky Swing, Rainbow Springs, Rotorua Lakefront and Government Gardens, Polynesian Spa, Blue Baths and Rotorua Duck Tours. Due to the time to get down there and the early disembarkation you are limited to choosing one of the attractions. we chose the Gondoloa ride and Luge and felt like big kids doing it. we wanted to go to Wai-O-Tapu the really amazing thermal area but couldn't find a tour to get there.Again no interest in wine tours or Hobbit sets. Auckland We opted for the shuttle to the airport as our flight left at 3:30 and didn't know what to expect with the gate and customs. HAL ddi little to nothing to assist with this other than take your money. NO signs showing which bust to get on and no one at the airport to assist other than the bus driver. One of my fellow passengers tumbled down the stairs of the bus. the airport is about a 45 minute drive from the port. the gates don't open until 3 hours before your flight meaning you have toi wait in the terminal for a couple hours before you can even check your bags. United did a miserable job of baggae drop and would highly recommend using ANY other airline other than them. The Duty free area is like its won shopping mall. The international terminal is a hike and if you aren't an avid walker I saw very few people assisting some of the elderly passengers. The food court is nice and worth visiting before you leave as there is nothing on some of remote terminals E11-15. hope this helps
  2. Australia and The South Island of New Zealand Melbourne we opted for the Hop On Hop Off in Melbourne shortly after leaving the port terminal gates. It got us into the city but we could of easily used the tram to get into town as the tram stop is at the end of the block from the port gates. The Hop On Hop Off bus was a mixed bag. there is a ton to do downtown and the HopOn Hop Off only has value for the more afar awy attractions. Most of the things we enjoyed were downtown Southbank, Eureka Tower and Degraves Laneway. he di make it down to the Melbourne Star Observation Tower -think large tall industrial Ferris wheel. we decided again not to take the all day trip to the mountains and didn't make it to the zoo. Other excursions didn't float our boat Hobart if you don't prebook , tour operators are set up the rod after you leave the port. we did a tour including Bonorong animal sanctuary, Historic Richmond but were not able to go to Mt Wellington.My wife being animal lover enjoyed hand feeding kangaroos in Bonorong. the Cruise doesn't disembark until late so look for places for a local dinner Salamanca Place is short walk and a nice area to check out. there are other nice restaurants in the pier area. some very expensive but nice. Fiordland Cruising the sounds at the northern most tip of NZ as part of Fiordland National park was an unexpected treat. Chris the cruise director did a great job narrating as we cruised through three different sounds. It was windy and cold. the views from the crows nest and if you have a verandah were great Port Chalmers / Dunedin There is a bus that will take you from the terminal in Port Chalmers to Dunedin to you can buy through the ship for $20 a person . they will drop you in a central area of the city called the Octagon. there a few restaurants and bar near there. There is a NZ I-Site visitor center at the north east. we walked down to the train station and then headed over to Otago Settlers Museum. Free and really well done. their is an excursion on the train but not my cup tea spending hours on a train. there is also a Chinese Garden we passed on. The Cadbury Chocolate plant is no longer an available excursion. The other excursion weren't exciting and we didn't travel to these areas for wine tours especially being around wine country on the west coast. There is not much in Port Chalmers but if you are hikers I would recommend hiking the hill above Iona Church to lookout that will give you incredible views of the city. Takes about 20-30 minutes but well worth the views at the top Akaroa /Christ Church There is a long tender from the ship to Akaroa almost 20-30 minutes. the tenders start early at 7:30AM so you have an opportunity to grab breakfast /coffee/pastries and check out the town before any excursions leave. the bus company French Connection leaves the earliest at 9:30AM and get you into Christchurch at 11. Since you need to be back on the ship by 4:30 and its a 90 minute drive to Christchurch that only leaves 4 hours to explore the town ( 11AM -3 PM). The TranzAlpine train is an popular excursion but spending the majority of time on bus and train is not my idea of fun. we went to thew Quake City museum and I would pass to have doing it again The HopOn Hop Off tram has a stop where the transfers let you off and is good way to get around the city but I found most of the stops to be more shopping ares with a only a few attractions. The Artic centre is nice attraction worth checking out as well as the cute NewRegent shopping district. there is transfer to the Gondola ride but we didn't want to spend an hour to get their and an hour to return. I'd recommend checking out the free Canterbury museum and Gardens near the bus transfer Picton there is a shuttle bus that transfers you 10minutes away from the port to downtown Picton. Alex, the HAL cruise director, really undersold Picton. just go on the wine tours .Again as someone living in wine country that had ZERO appeal. there are a few museums in town in Picton the Edwin Fox museum and a small aquarium which we passed on . there are a number of water tours worth checking out. there is one that allows you to share the water taxi that delivers mail. we opted to go to Lochmara lodge via Watertaxi. they have both an animal sanctuary and an underwater observatory. They have animal feedings that were unique - feeding Kookimari birds, eels and pigs (not necessary) .They also have some adorable baby goats. The underwater observatory was the highlight where you could see underwater crustaceans, manta rays , seabirds and other sea life.
  3. Australia and The South Island of New Zealand Melbourne - we opted for the Hop On Hop Off in Melbourne shortly after leaving the port terminal gates. It got us into the city but we could of easily used the tram to get into town as the tram stop is at the end of the block from the port gates. The Hop On Hop Off bus was a mixed bag. there is a ton to do downtown and the HopOn Hop Off only has value for the more afar awy attractions. Most of the things we enjoyed were downtown Southbank, Eureka Tower and Degraves Laneway. he di make it down to the Melbourne Star Observation Tower -think large tall industrial Ferris wheel. we decided again not to take the all day trip to the mountains and didn't make it to the zoo. Other excursions didn't float our boat Hobart - if you don't prebook , tour operators are set up the rod after you leave the port. we did a tour including Bonorong animal sanctuary, Historic Richmond but were not able to go to Mt Wellington.My wife being animal lover enjoyed hand feeding kangaroos in Bonorong. the Cruise doesn't disembark until late so look for places for a local dinner Salamanca Place is short walk and a nice area to check out. there are other nice restaurants in the pier area. some very expensive but nice. Cruising the sounds - Cruising the sounds at the northern most tip of NZ as part of Fiordland National park was an unexpected treat. Chris the cruise director did a great job narrating as we cruised through three different sounds. It was windy and cold. the views from the crows nest and if you have a verandah were great Port Chalmers / Dunedin - There is a bus that will take you from the terminal in Port Chalmers to Dunedin to you can buy through the ship for $20 a person . they will drop you in a central area of the city called the Octagon. there a few restaurants and bar near there. There is a NZ I-Site visitor center at the north east. we walked down to the train station and then headed over to Otago Settlers Museum. Free and really well done. their is an excursion on the train but not my cup tea spending hours on a train. there is also a Chinese Garden we passed on. The Cadbury Chocolate plant is no longer an available excursion. The other excursion weren't exciting and we didn't travel to these areas for wine tours especially being around wine country on the west coast. There is not much in Port Chalmers but if you are hikers I would recommend hiking the hill above Iona Church to lookout that will give you incredible views of the city. Takes about 20-30 minutes but well worth the views at the top Akaroa /Christ Church - there is a long tender from the ship to Akaroa almost 20-30 minutes. the tenders start early at 7:30AM so you have an opportunity to grab breakfast /coffee/pastries and check out the town before any excursions leave. the bus company French Connection leaves the earliest at 9:30AM and get you into Christchurch at 11. Since you need to be back on the ship by 4:30 and its a 90 minute drive to Christchurch that only leaves 4 hours to explore the town ( 11AM -3 PM). The TranzAlpine train is an popular excursion but spending the majority of time on bus and train is not my idea of fun. we went to thew Quake City museum and I would pass to have doing it again The HopOn Hop Off tram has astop where the transfers let you off and is good way to get around the city but I found most of the stops to be more shopping ares with a only a few attractions. The Artic centre is nice attraction worth checking out as well as the cute NewRegent shopping district. there is transfer to the Gondola ride but we didn't want to spend an hor to get their and an hour to return. I'd recommend checking out the free Canterbury museum and Gardens near the bus transfer Picton - there is a shuttle buis that transfers you 10minutes away from the port to downtown Picton. Alex, the HAL cruise director, really undersold Picton. just go on the wine tours .Again as someone living in wine country that had ZERO appeal. there are a few museums in town in Picton the Edwin Fox museum and a small aquarium which we passed on . there are a number of water tours worth checking out. there is one that allows you to share the water taxi that delivers mail. we opted to go to Lochmara lodge via Watertaxi. they have both an animal sanctuary and an underwater observatory. They have animal feedings that were unique - feeding Kookimari birds, eels and pigs (not necessary) .They also have some adorable baby goats. The underwater observatory was the highlight where you could see underwater crustaceans, manta rays , seabirds and other sea life.
  4. sure I'll put that together BTW: where are you coming in from?
  5. we didn't do ANYTHING with HAL excursions as we found the pricing for most excursions is double what you pay if you booked yourself . the only thing I would suggest is booking in advance . if you choose a cruise after departing the boat you often sitting in . a van/bus waiting for either to fill I can give you a port by port breakdown if you'd like of things to do we did and places not on the HAL excursion list
  6. My wife and I took the 33 day cruise from Honolulu to Auckland as our honeymoon cruise. My wife is a former Princess employee and we have taken cruises on a number of others cruise lines , but we decided on HAL for the cruise based on the itinerary. The Good The value based on the cost of the cruise The itinerary /ports of call - seeing the southPacific and New Zealand/Australia on one cruise was a motivating Specialty Dining - Pinnacle Grill and Caneletto were top notch Medical staff - I have to give them credit for treating some very sickly and in some cases selfish folks Explores Lounge Free chocolates/biscotti/ pastries when you order the only good coffee and hot chocolate on the ship Billboard OnBoard - very entertaining , loved the All Request shows Photo staff - great people who The Bad Logistics - overall the ship did a VERY bad job letting you know what to expect when it came to getting around when you disembarked in most ports of call.Are there free city shuttles ? how far was it to the closest city ? Really felt we were on our own in planning as Alex, excursion director, and Ross McTaggart, interim cruise director, did such a crappy job Excursions - Overpriced, most were double what we could have booked on our own, if you want to pay double because "holland America" will guarantee you won't miss the boat thats your choice , but I found the selection lacking and WAY overpriced. Health of fellow Passengers - I understand with an older demographic you often find on cruises they might not be as healthy or spry as you might elsewhere. I have real issue when people knowingly get on a ship with a health condition that will affect their fellow passengers and put on undue burden on the crew. In speaking with those in the medical center there is no concept of "medical pre-screening" for cruises and often people who aren't physically able to fly opt for cruises. the cruise was diverted twice due to health issues - Once before we boarded in Honolulu where they reportedly were asking passengers to donate blood and later we weren't able to dock in Savusavu , Fiji and were diverted to Suva Fiji for yet another medical emergency. in Sydney some of our less healthy passengers departed , they were replaced by people who knowingly came on thew ship with the highly contagious Noro virus. worse those with the noro broke quarantine going ashore endangering other passengers. they ended up stopping most food self service in the Lido because of this . they even had the crew wipe down the shuttles before passengers boarded in some ports.The captain seemed particularly annoyed by this selfish behavior of those breaking quarantine. Guest Services - Between my wife having to go multiple times to clear up Australian immigration paperwork to even worse communication when we upgraded our cabin during the second leg. we awaited on the ship over an hour because Guest services was waiting for those in our new cabin to leave , we finally heard someone else say we will just deal with getting new cards when we return. Really poorly handled. stewards/Room service - overall they did a good job , but got annoyed with them when continually entered the room when me and my wife were changing for a later 7:30 dinner seating . after verbally telling them numerous times to come after at dinner we had to religously use the "Service Please /Privacy Please" signs to maintain our privacy. Ross McTaggart - our interim cruise director left a really bad impression of HASL. he constantly made bad jokes thinking the passenger were interested in where to find FreeInternet at McDonalds than telling us more noteworthy aspects of our port of call. he made other snide comments of people sitting in certain areas in the World stage "thinking they are VIPs." the normal crusie director Chris seemed to enjoy his job a lot more than Ross. there is probably a river cruise in siberai better suited for Ross!
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