Setting Sail on a New Zealand Cruise with the Family

I’m counting down the days to our upcoming New Zealand cruise and although I’m excited to get away, I also have mixed feelings about how this trip will pan out.

You see it’s truly a family vacation. I’m setting sail with Emma and my mum and dad! We are all sharing one cabin and I don’t know if it will all be ‘smooth sailing’.

Three generations in the same cabin, what have I signed myself up for?

Cruising New Zealand -

Mum and Dad love cruising and head off at least once a year on a cruise holiday. I can see the appeal for them. You get to visit lots of destinations without having to unpack. All meals and entertainment are included, and they make lots of friends during their trips.

Mum and Dad have always wanted to take Emma on a cruise with them once she was old enough, and now that she is 9, they thought cruising New Zealand would be the perfect trip to share with her.

I’ve been feeling pretty down these past few months so an adventure on the high seas sounded great to me, before I knew it we were all booked!

Mr Man is staying home due to work commitments, but he is very excited about his 2 week holiday at home alone! I suspect it will be takeaway and drinks out with friends after work most nights.

Milford Sound Cruise -

Image credit: Princess Cruises

What I’m looking forward to:

  • New Zealand is a beautiful place, I can’t wait to disembark and explore on our days in port.
  • The food! Two weeks of not cooking and cleaning up after every meal sounds great to me.
  • Kids Club – no explanation needed.
  • Re-connecting – Emma spending quality time with her grandparents.
  • Unplugging – There is no proper internet on the ship so I’m looking forward to a little digital detox and catching up on some reading.
  • Evening entertainment. I love a good song and dance number, the more sequins the better.
  • Hot tub! That’s where you’ll find me when I’m done with all of the above.
  • Christmas Spirit – I imagine the ship will be decorated for Christmas and I’m sure it will look magical.

What I’m nervous about:

  • No internet. It’s going to be hard to disconnect. I’ll probably purchase a local SIM card so I can check my emails while in port. Two weeks is a long time to ignore my inbox and I don’t want to come back the week before Christmas to a million emails.
  • Close quarters. I’m not going to lie, sharing a cabin with my parents is going to be a challenge. I moved out of home 20 years ago for a reason.
  • Arguments – 2 weeks with my parents 24 hrs a day. I’m sure we will all need some timeout by day two.
  • Over-eating – I’ll be packing stretchy pants because it’s going to be a challenge not to eat everything when it’s delicious and all-inclusive. At Club Med earlier this year I put on 4kg in one week thanks to the buffets. I don’t want to repeat that just before Christmas!
  • Bad/rough weather – We’ve had some crappy weather here this past week and I don’t think it’s going to improve by the time we sail. Hopefully we can enjoy NZ without it being too cold or rainy. Mum also gets bad vertigo so rough days will be rough on us all if she is unwell. Fingers crossed no sea-sickness for anyone in our cabin.

New Zealand Cruise Details

Golden Princess - New zealand family cruise

Image credit: Princess Cruises

We are sailing with Princess Cruises on the ‘Golden Princess’. It’s a pretty big ship with a capacity for 2,600 guests and 1,100 crew. That’s a lot of people.

Our cruise is a 13 night New Zealand cruise with 6 ports of call, and a day sailing into New Zealand’s fiordlands. Overall, it is 6 days at sea and 6 days in port – a nice balance of cruising and sightseeing.

With several restaurants, swimming pools, Broadway style shows, kid’s clubs, a gym, spa and lots more, the ship is  like a floating city. There will be two formal nights which Emma is very excited about, and I’ll also be celebrating my birthday on this trip.

The ship sails in and out of Melbourne, so there is no flying involved. A real bonus as I don’t have to worry about luggage allowance restrictions.

We’re booked into a balcony cabin that accommodates 4 people. The bedding configuration is two lots of bunk beds, with Emma and I sleeping on the top bunks and my mum and dad on the bottom beds.

It’s going to be squishy!

Our New Zealand Cruise Itinerary

New Zealand Cruise Itinerary

Departing Melbourne

DAY 1 & 2 At Sea

Our first two days are at sea. I expect Emma will settle into Kids Club and hopefully make a few friends to play with for the next 13 days. Mum tells me there are so many activities to participate in on ‘sea days’ that I won’t have time to read all the books I intend on packing.

Day 3 – Fiordland National Park (scenic Cruising)

New Zealand Cruise Itinerary -

Image credit: Princess Cruises

Today we will be cruising through Milford Sound which is a fiord carved out by glaciers during the ice age. Located in New Zealand’s largest National Park, Fiordland National Park, the narrow ocean inlet is lined with sheer rock faces that soar over 1,000 metres above the water.

After cruising the beautiful Doubtful Sound on our trip to New Zealand last year, I’m looking forward to this day in our itinerary. Milford sound is described as even more breathtaking with its steeper canyon like rock faces and waterfalls.

Day 4 – Dunedin (via port Chalmers)

Image credit : DunedinNZ

The ship docks at Port Chalmers which is about 13km from Dunedin. I suspect there will be a shuttle available to take us into Dunedin, otherwise we’ll catch a local bus or taxi.

Dunedin is thought to be of New Zealand’s architectural heritage capital with well-preserved Victorian and Edwardian architecture built on the gold rushes of the 1860s. There are several historic houses which I’d like to visit, but I don’t think Emma will appreciate them. Some describe Dunedin as the “Edinburgh of New Zealand”.

I’m looking forward to seeking out some of Dunedin’s street art (there’s a great self guided walking trail) and visiting the Dunedin Botanical Garden.

Day 5 – Akaroa


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Today our ship will anchor in the caldera of an extinct volcano. We will transfer to shore via tender (a small boat) to Akaroa – a quaint village full of French Colonial architecture, little cafes, galleries and boutiques.

Akaroa is also home to the world’s smallest and rarest species of dolphin as well as other wildlife including penguins and seals. Hopefully we will have pleasant weather that day so we can wander the village and harbour.

Day 6 – Wellington

Image credit : Graeme Murray

New Zealand’s capital city and home to Te Papa, the NZ’s national museum dedicated to the country’s unique natural environment, Maori culture, art heritage, history.

I’m excited to travel on my most favourite form of transport – the funicular! The historic Wellington Cable car has been ferrying visitor up the steep hills of Wellington for over 100 years.

Day 7 – Gisborne

Gisborne NZ

Image Credit: Ray Sheldrake

Gisborne is popular for its surf beaches and chardonnay. I don’t surf so I guess I’ll be drinking some wine! Hopefully we will have pleasant weather to explore the beach.

I’ve also discovered that there is an amazing playground at the Eastwoodhill Arboretum which is meant to be the best in NZ!  I’m sure Emma would love it. The only catch is that there is no public transport to the Arboretum which is about 30 min out of Gisborne.

I don’t want to go with the ship’s excursion (which costs $150 per person), and will probably cater to a more mature demographic and not allow for playground time. Hopefully the local tourist board can help me out with this one.

Day 8 – Tauranga

Hobbiton NZ

Image Credit: Sara Orme

This day promises to be a busy one. Tauranga is a popular seaside resort and is also the coastal gateway to Rotorua the geothermal capital of New Zealand with thermal springs, geysers and boiling mud pools.

I suspect most of the ship will be disembarking onto buses headed for Rotorua. I was a bit heartbroken that we couldn’t visit Rotorua to soak in the hot spring pools because we only have one day in the area and the whimsy of Hobbiton was calling.

The Hobbiton Movie set is located on private farmland near Matamata and is the original Hobbiton village set from The Lord of the Rings movie trilogy which was built in 1999. We couldn’t visit NZ without at least one Lord of the Rings themed adventure. I’m sure Emma will find it delightful.

It’s the only excursion inland that I’ve planned for this trip. I’ve yet to book the tour – must sort that this week.

The ship departs quite late from Tauranga, so hopefully we will have time to explore the town it for a little while before setting off.

Day 9 – Auckland

Auckland NZ

Image Credit: Chris McLennan

This will be my first visit to Auckland, New Zealand’s largest city. Located on two harbours it and with its very own bridge climb, I’m interested to see if it gives off a ‘Sydney vibe’. The ship sets sail at 4pm so we’ll probably just spend the day exploring the city at our own pace.

I’d love to try this Sky Walk on Auckland’s Sky Tower, but sadly Emma is 6 months shy of the minimum age requirement.

Days 10, 11 & 12 At Sea

The final 3 days at sea will be a nice break before we head home and dive right into the madness that is the week before Christmas!

Arrive in Melbourne the next morning – Time to regain my land legs!

So it will be quiet on the blog for the next couple of weeks while I’m ‘at sea’, but I’m hoping to share some of my experiences on my return.

If you’d like me to cover anything in particular just leave a comment below and I’ll make sure to include it in the next blog post.

Here’s hoping for good weather and smooth sailing!


  • Jennifer Marsden says:

    I am sure you will have a good time and that all will go well in your small accomodation space. I imagine the bathroom might be a bit of concern. They are very small! I went on a cruise to N.Z. Four years ago. Would love to do it again. Can’t wait to read all about your adventures when you get back.

  • Kate Lloyd says:

    Have a great time! My parents just did this cruise. 😀

  • Sheila says:

    Our daughter was four when we cruised from Vancouver to Alaska. I did not anticipate that she would find all the activity so overwhelming — even breakfast is an event. She needed quiet time in the afternoon in our cabin. Not a nap, just quiet play, while I would look at the activity list thinking of overything we were missing. Kids Club was too big and noisy for her, too. So week didn’t go quite as I had envisioned, but still had a lovely time. Your child is older, so hopefully won’t be an issue.

    • Cintia @ My Poppet says:

      Yes I suspect we will all need some ‘quiet time’ at some stage. Emma is pretty excited about Kids Club, I hope she enjoys it.

  • Nikos Taskos says:

    Amazing story Cintia, thanks for sharing! Helped me a great lot to plan my own visit to New Zealand! Safe travels!

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