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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 29 July 2018

Cruised the milford Sound the trip from Te Anua was great our bus driver was fantastic and organised a helicopter flight back to Te Anau. You could not have asked for morefreindly staff ever.

1  Thank Joanne B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 28 July 2018 via mobile

Did the Milford sound scenic cruise with real journeys, highly enjoyed this cruise, crew were great and was only a small amount of us on the boat which made it very comfortable. The guide was okay needed to know a bit more local knowledge as Captain started saying stuff over her when she didn’t have anything else to say. Possibly in training to get confident for the busy season.

Would recommend this tour to family’s and couples wanting to explore this beautiful sound.

Thank JonoL93
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 27 July 2018

I did lots of research of which company to travel with for our cruise in the Milford Sounds and Real Journeys had the best and most consistently positive reviews, and they did not disappoint. They were fantastic - such great staff, perfect commentary and warm and generous facilities on board. In winter they offer you free soup and a hot bread roll and there is unlimited tea, coffee and hot chocolates.

After reading reviews, I choose a 10:30 am morning cruise over the Sounds as I had read that the morning tours are often less crowded (the busses from Queenstown usually arrive at lunchtime), and for this reason, it also meant the roads were a little quieter too. With fewer buses, it meant you had the scenic stops to yourself a lot of the time, which made them quite and that much more special.

Here are some tips you might find helpful;
- The car park in the Milford Sounds is about a 10-minute walk from the dock and check-in areas, and all of the different tour places are located in the same building. You can drive up to drop people off if you need.

- Allow a little extra time for when you get to the dock/check-in area. This is where the boats leave from and it is also the entrance to the Sounds, and it's so beautiful. There are plenty of good places for photos.

- A lunch pack can be purchased for an extra $19 per person when booking, but we took our own food as there were 4 of us so I knew I could spend less than $76 at the Te Anau supermarket.

- Additional snacks, drinks and alcohol can be brought on the boats small cafe - but you can only use cash or credit card (no debit cards or EFTPOS) as they use the old-school manual credit card payment process.

- We took the 2-hour 15-minute tour, and I was worried about how the kids (6 and 16) would like it - there is only so much scenery kids can get excited over. They spent some time out on the deck, and when they were cold and bored, they parked up at one of the booth tables in the dining area. I brought little presents for them to open (Lego and slinkies etc) and that kept them entertained, dishing them out throughout the trip rather than giving them to them all at once. I loved that the tables had a little wooden lip around the edge of it, to stop things, like Lego pieces falling off. If you were going with kids, you could also take books, drawing things, beeswax clay etc for them to do, just in case. Our boys were quite happy inside while my husband and I spent the whole time (apart from checking on them and eating) out on the deck! We 100% loved this tour, and the only stink thing about the trip is when it ended, we wished it was longer because we liked it so much.

- Back in May, I tried to book the overnight Doubtful Sound cruise but it was booked out until November! If you are planning well in advance, you should look into this cruise and save for it, apparently, it is absolutely incredible!

4  Thank ajanduc
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 19 July 2018

Visited on Friday 4th May. We were on a coach tour which included a lunch cruise on boat - Milford Sovereign. The food was nothing special but the scenery was superb, well worth doing any type of cruise when you visit Milford Sound.

1  Thank Michael-4551
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 12 July 2018

We had booked the option of the coach from Queenstown, cruise and overnight stay on the Milford Mariner, and Cessna back to Queenstown. We went on May 19, the last overnighter of the season.

Given the limited number of daylight hours, we debated whether it would be worth it. It absolutely was - we were very glad we went, even though in the end the weather didn't allow us to fly back.

In fact, the only negatives of the experience were to do with the coach ride, so I'll get those out of the way. We appreciated being picked up by taxi and taken to the bus stop to meet our coach for a 9am departure. At first, I found our driver very entertaining and informative. That wore off well before he opined at length about the government's energy policy or told for the second time an apparently libellous story about another bus driver. By the time we arrived more than six long hours later, at 3.15pm, we couldn't wait to get off.

One reason for the trip being (as well as seeming!) so long was that our first stop, a half-hour at a cafe, happened just one hour in. It's good to support little businesses along the route and all that, but we absolutely did not need to stop at that point, it just dragged the whole thing out.

Positives about the coach ride: it was clean and comfortable with very good viewing windows, it had USB charging ports and, even with the endless commentary, we were very glad not to have driven ourselves on those mostly single-lane, high-speed, often icy and winding roads. (The sharp curves are worst in the first 45 mins out of Queenstown, then it settles down.)

On to the more pleasant part: the cruise itself. By the time we arrived at the Sound, we had only a bit over two hours until sunset, with another half an hour after that til dark. It was hard to see how we would get to experience much, but thanks to the efficiency of the check-in staff and the crew, we absolutely did.

After the best safety briefing I think I've ever heard, from the very funny but extremely capable captain, we were off. We followed the advice of others on here and dumped our things in the cabin then came straight back out to enjoy the sights as we motored out into the Sound.

It was gloomy and raining on and off, but absolutely stunning. I know on sunny days Milford Sound offers picture-postcard views. But in these conditions it had an incredible sombre, primal, soul-stirring beauty. The rain created literally hundreds of waterfalls as the snow-capped peaks appeared through the low cloud. It was a real privilege to be there.

When we booked it was the height of summer and I was really looking forward to doing the kayaking option, but with the temperature down to low single digits, we took the tender (small motorboat) instead, though some hardy folks took the kayaks, freezing wet feet and all.

We had come well prepared, with wind- and waterproof jackets to go over our down jackets and thermals. We needed all of it, even with the below-the-waist tarp thoughtfully provided on the tender. It was fantastic to be out there and we got incredibly lucky, seeing a NZ fur seal put on an amazing display with a red cod it was eating. It stayed on the surface for 10-15 minutes 'playing with its food' and we got to sit just metres away and watch it. The on-board naturalist said he'd never seen anything like it. Magic.

The cabins were warm and dry, though very compact, as you'd expect on a boat.The bathrooms are especially tiny, or at least ours was, in a deck-opening double room.

You're seated at tables with other travellers and we got lucky, meeting interesting people. The food was terrific and the onboard staff, who doubled up as servers/tour guides/room strippers and whatever else was needed, were all great. (Alcohol prices were very high, but that's to be expected in what is, basically, a hotel on water in a remote location.)

The weather ended up being rough enough that the captain brought us back to dock overnight, which made me wonder how much we would really get to see in the morning, given that we were disembarking at 9.15am. But at first light we headed back out, and got all the way to the opening to the Tasman Sea.

Waves were crashing over the bow, the wind was howling, waterfalls were roaring down. Those who wanted to be warm and cosy were inside looking out. Thrillseekers like my sister were right at the bow, hanging on for dear life and grinning fit to burst, while in-betweeners like me were sheltering under the bow canopy, soaking in the experience without getting soaked. Perfect.

A lavish breakfast spread was available and the naturalist gave some judicious commentary and made himself available for chats and questions as we went along.

Poor weather meant we couldn't fly back (which meant six more hours in the coach with the same driver.) But that portion of the cost ($NZ415pp) was efficiently refunded over the next couple of days.

Even in May, with short days and inclement weather, I am so glad we did this, and the $NZ429pp cost was a bargain for such a special experience.

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