We went on the Explorer Dream Christmas cruise around New Zealand. We were attracted to it because it looked different and made an early booking. Then as reviews rolled in about the initial cruise to and around Australia we grew apprehensive. We needn't have, we thoroughly enjoyed the week. Highlights included the excellent service and friendliness provided by the crew from restaurant staff to the front office team, ticket office, casino staff and our cabin steward. The staff were most concerned about my wife having to spend a day in bed after a rocky trip around north cape, and offered a range of treatments. That storm was nothing to do with the ship, it could have happened anywhere and the bridge did what they could to avoid the worst of it (a tip, try not to book a forward cabin as high as the 11th floor where we were, the ship's motion is accentuated running into a storm) The second highlight was the shows, we attended all we could and they should not be missed. Thirdly the food was good in all the venues we attended, the Lido buffet, Dream Restaurant, the Pavilion (highly recommended Chinese), and we didn't mind paying for the Mark Best seafood platter, Teppanyaki and Blue Lagoon (very good value).
And of course our visit to Milford and Doubtful Sounds was a highlight.
Dream Cruises have obviously responded to criticism received about earlier cruises. An example, disembarking in Wellington was reported to be chaotic on the first visit. For our cruise a system of ticketing was introduced which worked very well. No delays at all, nor were there with embarking and disembarking in Auckland.
"Cons" might be the short time in some ports which limited what you could do. Also the cabin we had, while very comfortable in the main, you could tell where the makeover started and stopped eg the tiles over the bathroom basin were about to fall off the wall. Also while we willingly paid the "compulsory" gratuities for the crew's sake, Dream Cruises need to recognise Kiwis like Aussies don't like paying these and its policy should be the same for all Australasian cruises. It currently isn't.
We found the "classic" drinks package was good value, although the range of wines hopefully will include more NZ ones in the future.
Overall a most enjoyable trip, thank you to the crew of the Dream Explorer!
As stated in the main review.