LET'S get one thing out of the way before we start.
Yes, you can learn the art of napkin-folding on board MS Oosterdam. Towel-folding too.
It might not be every passenger's dream to make a swinging monkey out of a hand towel, but we weren't about to judge - we were too busy propping the Ocean Bar learning how to make a chocolate martini.
To say there is an activity to suit every taste on board this mighty ship that carries 2000 passengers with ease would be a ridiculous understatement.
From seven in the morning until late at night, there is something interesting to do, and the choices are as lively as they are plentiful.
If dancing the tango is not your thing and you're not sure about hip hop or ballroom, then how about letting free your inner boot scooter and joining the country dancers?
No? Well, then learn French. Play bridge. Find out how to Photoshop like an expert. Or make a creme brulee with a world-renowned guest chef.
Then there is the irresistible option of doing nothing at all.
Cruising on Oosterdam is about pleasing yourself, which is what we did during a sailing around the North Island of New Zealand - a little slothful lazing by the Lido pool followed by too much of everything at the lunch buffet, then a "let's-banish-the-guilt" walk around the decks, before a "who-cares-about-the-guilt?" high-tea in the Vista Dining Room to the accompaniment of a tinkling piano.
As for evenings, they began with cocktails in the Crow's Nest bar with the ocean spectacularly unfurling before us, then dinner in one of the five glamorous restaurants, and because we never wanted each day to end, night caps in the Piano Bar and a discreet sing-along with the piano man.
Even when the comfortable stateroom bed called, we still wanted more, so we gave in to the beckoning of a 2am sweet treat from the 24-hour room service.
Life on board Oosterdam became so relaxing and we allowed ourselves to become so indulged, shore excursions came as a surprise.
"Do we really need to leave this luxury?" Yes, we agreed, we really should shift ourselves into some shore-side action.
Tauranga showed off its sunshine and curved boardwalk. Hawke's Bay welcomed us to its grand wineries. The Bay of Islands did what it does best: look pretty.
Each shore excursion was all the more enjoyable knowing we could sink back into the welcoming arms of the Oosterdam where a mojito and a massage were just a polite summons away.
The 2013 season offers premium cruising for outstanding value.
Choose from 10- to 28-day voyages on board MS Oosterdam.
For a cruise brochure or for more information on Holland America Line's voyages, consult a travel professional or call Holland America Line at 1300 987 322 or visit hollandamerica.com.au.
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