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All reviews milford mariner overnight cruise milford wanderer nature cruise new zealand tasman sea the bus te anau water activities slide show next morning nature guide before dinner box lunch doubtful sound south island tender boat
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Reviewed 16 June 2017

Unless the only fish you've seen are the ones in your dinner plate, you can bypass the ‘Real Journeys Night Cruise & Aquarium’ in Milford Sound, New Zealand. Take any 2-hour or so day cruise instead, preferably in the afternoon. You will have the opportunity to admire the dozens, thousands according to someone from the ship-crew, waterfalls/streams of water coming down to the path of your ship. Actually, only fewer than ten of them reach the sea, the rest are blown away converted to drops in the wind. As for the seals lazing out on the rocks, we’ve seen so many around Pier 39 at Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco, California and elsewhere in our travels to the 5 continents that we were left unimpressed.

First, you board the Milford Mariner, a ship made after the old trading scale ships, at 4:30pm, you sail going half way down the sound, actually the fiord, which is a very short distance. After a 15 minute slow sail you stop for kayaking or boarding a tender to take you closer to shore to see the small white or the tiny blue penguins except that the birds do not come out of their nests for pictures on demand, alas, so you have to wait and wait and wait for them to show up and you finally settle for some paradise or blue duckies if they happen to swim by. The time we visited was Spring for down-under and it rained, hard. Some 200 days of the year it rains in the area delivering 6-9 meters, not centimeters! which is 18-27 feet of water per year, we were told by the experts. So if you get lucky you return to the cruise ship soaking wet clutching under the raincoat you're given the trophies of some fuzzy penguin or duck pics.

Now, its time for dinner, buffet style, if you mind. A limited number of selections for the price paid, such as salad, seafood salad, yams, potatoes, rice and a couple of carved meats, dessert, coffee or tea. If you're thirsty for a soft drink, beer or wine you have to pay extra!

Pretty soon the dinner is over and you are invited to watch a half-hour slide show of the M.S. which is pictures a little more spectacular than the ones you just took. And then it's time to hit the sack. The time is 9ish pm!

The next morning we were awaken at 6 like soldiers. We had breakfast and then we were taken to the aquarium to see tiny lazy fish swimming by. No seals, no dolphins, no sharks or whales as we were left expecting to see. Just skip it and go see the Monterey Aquarium in California or the aquarium of your neighborhood.

I couldn't help comparing this "cruise" to a similar one we took in Halong Bay, Vietnam some years back and I don’t mean advertising for them. First, the ship there criss-crossed the islands till late night, thus giving us the exceptional experience of dining under the stars. Then, they offered a 1-hour cooking class at no additional cost and with audience participation, yes, it was fun, showing us how to cook Vietnamese delicacies. My wife learned to make quickly a few tasty dishes which we added in our regular menu at home. I wish New Zealanders at least offered a class aboard on how to cook their crayfish which they are so proud of. Then the Vietnamese had a 3-person band so people could dance till very late with the bar open so passengers could nuzzle over their cocktail. Oh, the dinner and breakfast buffet were endless. That’s not so difficult to duplicate on the Mariner. So along with admiring the wild beauty of the Sound one would enjoy life aboard a vintage-like ship and disembark satisfied that they just concluded a real journey full of great memories to take home.

Thank Theo V
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 12 June 2017 via mobile

Email correspondence was prompt. Expect to be treated as a faceless guest with no sympathies or personal touch to the point of being rude. Bear in mind there are no toilets pn the long bus ride to milford, and also none at their hq. Strongly suggest the elderly with special bladder needs engage smaller tours who will treat them with more respect. Our bus had to stop due to heavy snow and my 70yo mom really needed to use the toilet and asked if she could use one in the cafe across the road.

The bus driver's exact reply was, 'if you get bit by a car, it's not my problem'.

No assistance or sympathies were given but a curt reply to announce his responsibilities or lack thereof. If you just want a tour to bring u from A to B on time and a driver who can regurgitate info and jokes while driving, by all means go ahead. But i would strongly suggest to go for a smaller or another tour who treat guests better for a more pleasant experience. After all its not just about the sights but your experience and how one is treated matters.

1  Thank Mceroni
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Real_Journeys, Guest Relations Manager at Real Journeys, responded to this reviewResponded 16 June 2017

Kia Ora Mceroni. Thanks for taking the time to post this review. We are disappointed to read that that the comments and behaviour from our driver failed to live up to our usual high standards. I can assure you that this is the exception rather than the rule. Our Coach Services Manager has been informed and will be following up with the team directly to ensure we prevent this from happening in future.
Regards, the team at Real Journeys.

Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 4 June 2017

my Girlfriend booked this bus and cruise of one review relating to the bus driver being the highlight ...... that review was not wrong.

Adrian was our coach driver on the 3/6/17 and all i can say is that who ever found that man has single handily secured Real Journeys guided tours to Milford sound as the number one tourist attraction. the man is funny, polite and has honed his tour experience for his customers to be very personable. Just book it and you will understand!

Thank andrewcaithness91
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 30 May 2017

Booked multiple tours with Real Journeys by email and got prompt and helpful replies. Got discounts for the multiple bookings and for YHA membership which made the expensive tours more affordable. The Nature cruise was a full day trip and well worth the money.

Was picked up at 10am from my hostel in Te Anau for the short drive to the Real office. The tour bus had huge glass windows so brilliant views all around. The tour starts in Queenstown so by the time I got on the bus in Te Anau it was already quite full and I could not get a window seat but could still enjoy the scenery. Our bus driver cum guide also gave us an excellent commentary and we stopped to enjoy the sights on the way. The mirror lakes and brilliant snow capped mountains - wow. We even saw a couple of kea, the alpine parrots. There were lots of buses at each stop but somehow the beauty of the place overwhelmed the crowds.

Then boarded the pretty Milford Mariner ship for our cruise around milford sound. Again excellent commentary, breathtaking views. Was very lucky with gorgeous scenery best enjoyed with sunny weather. The seals are so cute, the waterfalls refreshing. Was hoping to see deer on the cliffs but it was quite hot and they were hiding. We went all the way out to the Tasman sea and back.

I had prebooked an Indian vegetarian lunch and it was the only disappointing thing on the whole trip - tasteless, the rice was a frozen block and the samosas were undercooked. Disappointed-had paid $30 for it and was really hungry.

There was plenty of place to move around the decks and got hundreds of great photos. Saw lots of birds and fish jumping around. It was very windy and sunny up top, take headgear that won't fly off, goggles and sunscreen. Went up and said hello to the captain. Friendly helpful crew.

Got back on the bus after the cruise for the long drive to Queenstown. They have space under the bus for big bags which was good because I checked out of my hostel in Te Anau, did the tour and got dropped off in Queenstown in the evening. This helped me save on a bus ticket TeAnau-Queenstown. The bus stopped at the Real Journeys office in Queenstown and then was given a free taxi transfer to my hostel.
Excellent trip, one of the best tours in NZ.

Thank wingsonwheels
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 27 May 2017

Real Journeys is one of the best companies in New Zealand to experience the eighth wonder of the World. Pure class by the family owned company. One of the best buses in New Zealand with good comfort. Well planned trip with a good lunch box. Proper stops taken to view places on the way to Milford. The cruise is amazing and the entire trip is worth it. The staff is very friendly and helps you in the best way possible. The commentator Thomas gives you proper information and also keeps you entertained while your entire trip on the cruise. Real journeys is a best way to experience the NZ must do activity.

Thank KevinT4537
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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