Late November, 2011, I joined Royal Caribbean's Radiance of the Seas for a 15-day cruise around New Zealand.
Though I had done a similar voyage a couple of years ago, I had just finished two years of study and wanted to relax.
Radiance is a big ship which accommodated over 2000 passengers. As usual, I booked the cheapest inside cabin as travelling alone means one has to pay for a twin room.
The last time I sailed to New Zealand, it had been cloudy on the day we visited and I had hoped for nice weather. Unfortunately that was not to be.
The fjords of Milford Sound and surrounds were shrouded in this rain and mist. It was so wet that the walls of the fjord appeared as sheets of running water. This had one advantage, that the waterfalls were quite awesome.
With continuing cold and wet weather for much of the cruise, the large outdoor upper deck areas and swimming pools were not used. Consequently all the passengers were crowded inside the ship all day. This meant it was difficult to find a comfortable seat or to find somewhere that was quiet.
I enjoyed the excursions on the days we were in port, in particular, Akaroa (the substitute port for Christchurch since the earthquake damage), where the sun shone and I took a boat ride and saw Hector Dolphins, and also a visit to Rotarua from Tauranga.
At Rotarua, I paddled in a Mauri was canoe, rode the cable car up the mountain and came down in a luge (toboggan) which even on the beginner slope was quite scary.
The weather in Auckland and at the Bay of Islands was dismal and very cold but I managed to take a boat trip on both occasions.
There were two bonuses to the trip:
With a medical emergency on the return trip to Sydney and an urgent evacuation of a sick passenger necessary, the ship had to detour north to Lord Howe Island. Though there was no harbour and the transfer of the patient took place on the water, we were able to see much of Lord Howe Island which looked quite spectacular despite the cloud.
Another surprise promontory was Ball's Pyramid - the largest volcanic stack in the world which rises up from the ocean floor. Would have loved to have seen it in sunlight.
Something else which was not in the small print: I left the ship with a rotten cold. This is not the first cruise I have been on when I have contracted some sort of virus. The fact all the passengers were limited to the interior of the ship for most of the voyage probably contributed to this.
In retrospect, I should have booked this cruise for January or February as November can be very cold especially in the South Island of New Zealand.
How would I rate this holiday out of Ten? I would only give it 5/10.