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Expatcat

Help choosing NZ itinerary/cruise line for family

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Trying to make a final decision for a family cruise to New Zealand in January. 2 adults, 3 children (aged 7, 10 and 14). It will be our first (possibly only) time to visit NZ. We have previously cruised Celebrity (loved) and Carnival (didn't enjoy as much).

Currently we are booked in a Grand Suite on Radiance. Sleeping arrangements are not ideal - 2 kids will have to share the sofa bed and 1 on a rollaway. No stop in Tauranga so we would miss the thermal springs at Rotorua. Alternatively we could book 2 cabins on Norwegian Jewel or HAL Noordam. Both itineraries include Tauranga, and 2 cabins would give us enough beds! Pricing for all 3 options is pretty much the same (although NCL comes with some perks like the drinks package and speciality dining package).

Is Tauranga really a must-not-miss port? Will we drive each other crazy sharing the one cabin? I have done a lot of reading on these boards but my head is spinning...any advice appreciated!

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Posted (edited)

If its your only time to visit NZ then itinerary would have to take precedent. Rotorua is a huge tourist destination to see the thermal springs, Waitomo Caves or Hobbiton. 

Edited by icat2000

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I agree that itinerary needs to be your main decider.  Is Tauranga the only difference between the cruises?

 

Rotorua or Hobbiton are definitely worthwhile spots to visit, making Tauranga a great port.   With kids you might want to consider the Rotorua luge if that is an option.   Kids that age will love it.  The thermal reserves are interesting but not as impressive as the ones in Yellowstone if you’ve been there.  

 

Do any any of the cruises begin or end in Auckland?  You could always do a small road trip add-on to check out Rotorua and Hobbiton on your own.  

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Although Celebrity is my favourite and I really like Radiance and HAL is my second favourite,  I would be inclined towards HAL. They usually include more ports and the Noordam is also a nice ship. Like the others it would be the itinerary. Just note that HAL cruises usually don't include the gratuities in the fare unless they are advertising it as an included extra.

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Thanks everyone for your responses - you have confirmed what I was thinking - that it would really be a shame to miss Rotorua.

In addition to Rotorua the HAL cruise on Noordam also adds in Picton, Wellington and Napier - so a number of extra ports.

Lyndarra, I am aware that HAL is a quieter cruise line - which would suit our family. In your experience are children reasonably welcomed / tolerated by other passengers?

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HAL is more like X and Princess while NCL is more like Royal and Carnival.

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3 hours ago, Expatcat said:

Thanks everyone for your responses - you have confirmed what I was thinking - that it would really be a shame to miss Rotorua.

In addition to Rotorua the HAL cruise on Noordam also adds in Picton, Wellington and Napier - so a number of extra ports.

Lyndarra, I am aware that HAL is a quieter cruise line - which would suit our family. In your experience are children reasonably welcomed / tolerated by other passengers?

I've never experienced or heard of any objections to, or resentment of, children on HAL.

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Wellington, Picton and Napier are great stops.

 

Wellington is a great city with plenty to do.  The Gallipoli exhibit at Te Papa is brilliant and Zelandia is a lovely place to go with a family.  

 

 

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Thanks everyone. I’m also considering Princess now. It sounds like it is worth looking for an itinerary with more port stops, particularly around Rotorua. Princess are looking good as well!

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7 hours ago, ELep said:

Two staterooms = two bathrooms too. 

That’s what I’m thinking...plus enough beds that no-one has to share!

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10 hours ago, ELep said:

Two staterooms = two bathrooms too. 

 

3 hours ago, Expatcat said:

That’s what I’m thinking...plus enough beds that no-one has to share!

Double advantages, especially if connecting rooms.

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Posted (edited)

Or, if you’re  lucky, ring Princess direct you just might be able to book one of the Family Suites on Ruby Princess around New Zealand - worth a try isn’t it?

Rose

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Edited by Porky55

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We have decided on HAL Noordam...it was a tough choice but the right one for us I think! Itinerary looks great given we want to see as many ports as we can! Thanks to all for their advice!

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We did Princess at Christmas with 2 children, 7 and 3.  Other than the kids club, not much available for the little ones.  We did Hobbiton from Tauranga and it was our family highlight, everyone thoroughly enjoyed the day.  We haven’t cruised Norwegian so cant comment.  Have cruised HAL they also have a kids club, but really nothing else for the kiddos.  But you know your kiddos better than anyone, but we found our little ones, would only do a couple of hours max and the be ready to be picked up, your lot may be happy to spend more time in the kids club.  We were on Majestic and in fact it had a large number of kids on board, that they had to hire 4 additional staff for the kids clubs, as well as using entertainment staff.  All staff were great in the kids club, so no complaints, but after cruising Ovation and Voyager our kids were wanting more to do, that that on offer on Princess.

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