Cruising can be best described as waking up to new and exciting places every day, filling your days with a perfect mix of discovery, fun and relaxation, while having all of your needs catered to. You'll get that holiday feeling all day, every day - without any of the hassle of ever packing your bags, finding your next hotel or catching flights.
There's no denying it, cruising is something truly special. It only takes one cruise - be it here in New Zealand or somewhere more exotic - to catch the cruise bug, and it will come as no surprise that this is one experience where the guests return again, and again, and again.
First time? Here is the lowdown on cruise lines operating in New Zealand that offer this effortless and unforgettable holiday.
Choose Princess Cruises for romance
A trip with Princess Cruises is guaranteed to be one for the love birds out there - after all, this is the cruise line that rose to fame with the hit television show "The Love Boat".
Your onboard experience with Princess will be one of luxury without being too over the top. It's neither the most extravagant line nor the most pared back one, so it's a great option for first time cruisers. You've got the full range of meal options on board, from gastropubs to fine dining at arranged seating times, or flexible times that work on your schedule. Princess also prides itself on its "Sanctuary", a top-deck retreat for adults only that ensures peace and relaxation with no children allowed. With endless activities, a fitness centre and live entertainment worthy of Broadway, Princess will have you hooked on cruising in no time.
Cruise with P&O for affordability
P&O Cruises is a line that offers you everything you need from a cruise without over-the-top frills. The itinerary options from Auckland include island hopping through the Pacific and sailing around New Zealand, as well as quick three-night trips that are purely about the cruise and the onboard entertainment.
This is also a great line for kids, with dedicated kids' programmes and family-friendly activities throughout the ship. Plus, Cruise Sale Finder may even help you track down the odd kids-cruise-free deal, which is a tough one to ignore!
Go with Royal Caribbean for extravagant good times
Royal Caribbean doesn't hold back on any aspect of cruising. The line has fanciful decor, exuberant activities and warm, friendly staff in true North American style. It does offer departures from Auckland during the cruise season, many of these hopping around New Zealand before heading across the ditch. You can also get onboard in Aussie to cruise to all areas of the South Pacific on the range of Royal Caribbean vessels which homeport there.
The RC fleet is kitted out with all kinds of facilities which vary between ships but may include such delights as ice skating rinks, surf simulators, sky diving simulators, rock climbing walls and even bumper cars in the newest and biggest ships. Some call it over the top, we call it great entertainment options.
Experience Celebrity Cruises for a touch of luxury
Celebrity brings up the glam factor but is still comparatively affordable and down to earth. The atmosphere on board a Celebrity ship certainly feels more luxurious with real attention to detail in the fittings and decor throughout.
Hand in hand with luxury is fine food, so prepare to have your tastebuds pampered on board with sophisticated meal options, and the premium Luminae dining experience. Plus, one of the many activities on offer is the chance to be a Top Chef at sea and sharpen your own cooking skills. Naturally, the spas, suites and itineraries are exceptional as well, so you really can't go wrong with Celebrity when booking your first cruise.
Book with Carnival Cruises for fun
Travelling with a group of friends, or just want the time of your life? Carnival is all about fun, and it will put out all the stops to make it happen. The focus on enjoyment makes it a particularly good option for families with children, but there is no age limit on the epic waterslides and features on these ships.
You can splash about at the onboard waterpark "WaterWorks" on the Carnival Legend, or retreat to the adults-only Serenity area. And when the sun goes down, this is one cruise line known for its nightlife.
Give Norwegian a try for the ultimate in choice
Norwegian Cruise Line, NCL, has a catchphrase of "Freestyle Cruising." They are known for their ships with colourful hull murals and myriad onboard choices in dining and entertainment. If you like to keep your options open, this might be the line for you, with a whole lot of dining venues and specialty restaurants, many fun things to do, and a range of stateroom types to cater to all groups and preferences.
Norwegian is slowly becoming a more familiar character in the cruise community Down Under, with a ship sailing seasonally primarily from Sydney and occasional visits by others. If Hawaii floats your boat, they are the specialists in the island state, with a vessel called the Pride of America based there permanently.
Ready to try cruising for yourself? Book now
Many repeat cruisers will look back fondly at their first taste of the ocean life and be so grateful they gave it a try. Grab a bargain on your New Zealand cruise and look forward to looking back on this incredible first trip!