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Fiordland Testimonials

Peter and Patricia, USA,

Tricia and I would like to once again say how much we enjoyed the recent trip around Fiordland. We were especially impressed with the attention to safety which I observed was a key feature at all times. 

Although we were the youngest passengers aboard we found the intimate surroundings made for very interesting conversation, elderly people have some very nice stories to tell and the group about were certainly a mixed bunch.The staff treated everyone with the greatest respect and made sure all the guest's needs were attended to. Tricia and I are used to much more vigorous action but the more passive activities that were provided made for forced relaxation and were most enjoyable.The food was glorious and we are both home now and trying to shed the few extra kilos gained on the trip. 

The genuine humor on board from the captain right through to the cooks in the galley made for lots of laughter and joyous moments and I could see that it was always coming from the right place and very real. The tours and history lessons gave me knowledge of N.Zs culture and were most enlightening. I could go on but I think you can see we had a great time on the tour and in fact, on shore. Everywhere we went in N.Z. we found the locals friendly and amiable. We will do another tour maybe next year and may bring some friends with us. Thanks again for the Tour and may all your guests be pleasant.

Jenny Kain, Hamilton, NZ,

Dear Peter,

There is no way I can thank you enough for the wonderful cruise we had with Island Escape in Fiordland from March 20th – 27th. It was a great adventure, something I didn’t think was possible for someone of my age with a few medical problems! You have certainly hit the mark with the way you have set up these cruises. The helicopter flight to the ship set the adrenaline running – mist and rain and amazing views of rock walls , tarns and waterfalls before we lost sight of the passes and flew down to follow the river to the sea. I didn’t have the champagne on arrival – I needed a double brandy by that time! However we all agreed it was a great beginning to our cruise and a real ice-breaker. 

The cabins are really comfortable with plenty of room and a very well set up shower and toilet. I loved being able to walk out the door onto the deck and watch the sun rise over the mountains – we had three wet days in which to appreciate the magnificent display of waterfalls, and two fine days to photograph the beauty of the sun rising over the mountain tops in the early morning mist. Thanks to Captain Phil and Sam I managed to catch five fish, the first fish I’ve caught in forty years I think! The meals were superb with Axel and Pablo excelling themselves on our last night with prawns, lamb, venison and the crayfish caught by Calvin with the help of Te and Chris. The two girls, Heather and Bess were incredibly helpful and kind – admirably suited to caring for the older passengers and at all times presented warm and smiling personalities, no matter what their duties. You have chosen your crew very well indeed with a good balance of young people, led by Captain Phil, able to bridge the gap between formality and informality with the passengers. 

There is nothing I would want to change with everything to do with the ship and crew – magnificent! 

I would also like to thank you for the very happy birthday spent on board – champagne and delicious chocolate mud cake! A birthday spent with a great group of people, passengers and crew in a very special part of the world. 

I really do hope I can travel again with Island Escape – it was a truly memorable experience.

Jill McFarlane, VIC, Australia,

Recently returned from really fabulous trip through Fiordland, Helicopter,caravan, bus and Island Passage, the most luxurious travel I have ever experienced. Thank you to all staff and management. Please could you pass on my thanks and apologies re outstanding help re lost wallet, specially to Ray and Leonie in Te Anau bus people. Wallet found under my bed in Q'town Heritage hotel. Sorry to all who were so helpful beyond the 'call of duty and with such good grace.

Russ and Maxine, NZ,

Hi Peter and the team Just a short update on our trip to Fiordland with your fantastic crew. This as you know was Maxine and my second trip on Island Passage and it was more than expected. Your skipper as always did a fantastic job in a very pleasant and competent way with great people skills with his general quick chats and the daily plans with full explanations on why we may not be able to do everything on our day plan . Your crew produced meals to die for and their smiles were an added bonus . Again we were spoiled beyond belief. The girls were always super happy to look after us with huge smiles and great coffee as well. Our rooms were always tidied up perfectly and ready for a peaceful nights sleep. Sean a very pleasant young achiever that handled the tender boats extremely well and great manners too. Calvin with his great sparkling smile and his cray catching ability. Peter is a new member but very pleasant young man with a huge amount of sea time always made us as did the rest of the crew very welcome on the bridge and more than happy to answer any questions . We had a magnificent time and Bill Chisholm our “entomologist “ with his talks was an added bonus for all. All the best for Xmas and the New Year. I am sure we will be looking forward to another trip next year some time.

Andrew Browning,

In April I flew to New Zealand’s South Island to experience the Fiordland National Park Cruise aboard the Island Passage catamaran. The trip starts from Queenstown, which is set next to a beautiful lake surrounded by mountains. From Queenstown you get to Fiordland by air or road depending on the direction of the itinerary. For the version I did, we started with a private transfer to Te Anau followed by a helicopter flight from Te Anau to Caswell Sound. Quite an impressive start to the trip! The helicopter flight was incredible, flying over the mountain peaks and then dropping into the national park to land on the ship and sail away.

The Island Passage is a motorized catamaran with 12 staterooms and a 24 passenger capacity. The staterooms are spacious, with their own private bathrooms and plenty of storage for the voyage. The cabins are spread over three decks of the ship which you can review further on our Island Passage ship page. There are indoor and outdoor dining areas, a beautiful two-sided bow viewing area, and a bar/lounge area inside the ship. The common areas of the ship are surrounded by big windows, great for taking in the scenery.

The crew is the perfect size for this vessel with a Captain, mates, engineer, deckhands, chef and hospitality staff. The dining onboard was very impressive. The chef would review the upcoming meals in advance and passengers could let him know if they wanted something other than what he was planning to cook. This happened a couple times during the trip since there were a wide range of diets/preferences onboard.

The crew also did some free diving for New Zealand crayfish and paua.

There is fishing offered during this trip, and catches typically end up in the kitchen. The crew also did some free diving for New Zealand crayfish (the size of lobsters), and paua (known in the US as abalone). So with those plus the tuna and blue cod that we caught fishing, there were some excellent seafood options served onboard. They also had other proteins (lamb, beef, chicken, etc) as well as vegetarian options for those who wanted. From the plating presentations to the quality of the food, it was a top-notch dining experience onboard.

Fiordland itself is a wilderness area in southwest New Zealand which is best accessed/seen by small ship. The rugged, steep and heavily forested fjords do not have many trails and the road access is limited to only a couple of the ends of the fjords. Traveling aboard the Island Passage allows for unhurried exploration of the more remote fjords from the comfort of a luxury catamaran. Weather in Fiordland is typically rainy, which is what makes the area so lush and is also why there are so many waterfalls. It is similar to the weather in the Pacific Northwest or Alaska’s Inside Passage.

The fishing is a main draw for many passengers taking this trip.

Aboard the Island Passage the activities offered include fishing, walks on trails, kayak outings and tender exploration. The fishing is a main draw for many passengers taking this trip and it is done in a few different ways. The first is that when moving between the different sounds, the crew will set up a couple deep sea trolling rods off the back of the ship and passengers can reel in the catches from those. We caught a nice tuna one day, which was pretty exciting for everyone onboard. They will also do some drift fishing near the mouths of the sounds. About 8 people at a time can be fishing during the drifts. The Island Passage also carries its own fishing boat, so using that 4 passengers can go out on fishing outings away from the main vessel. I mainly did the drift fishing and it was a great time. Everyone caught fish and there was a lot of action during those times. From my own experience, first I caught a blue cod with a small shark biting my fish, and the second time I hooked a bigger shark that was difficult to reel in. There were times I thought I hooked onto the boat or the bottom or something because I could not reel it in. It was pretty wild.

For the shore walks, we went on some primitive trails for short distances through the dense forest. There were some historical huts we went to as well. Most of the trip is on the water and I found that to be the best part of seeing these areas. Because the forest is so thick, there are not many places to land or walk. The ship carries a few kayaks and stand-up paddleboards for passengers to use and those can be nice during the calm times in the fjords.

There are a lot of sea birds, including albatross that tend to follow the ship, especially when fish are being caught.

The scenery in these remote sounds is stunning. We had some mornings with very calm waters deep in the fjords. Surrounding the narrow waterways are mountains, steep cliffs and waterfalls. Nearly every inch is covered with vegetation except for where landslides have swept it away. When you go out into the Tasman Sea to go between the fjords, there are a lot of sea birds, including albatross that tend to follow the ship, especially when fish are being caught. You can also sea dolphins, typically near Milford Sound. The dolphins like the Island Passage ship because of the catamaran dual hull. They like to swim in front of the ship riding in the water being pushed by the vessel. Fur seals can also be seen in some areas of Fiordland.

New Zealand is a beautiful country and experiencing Fiordland by small ship is an excellent option to include in your overall itinerary. There is a big variety of environments to be seen in New Zealand and this is one of the highlights.


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