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“Informative, Relaxing Day but No Dolphin Swim”

Carino Sailing & Dolphins
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Owner description: Come sailing on Carino NZ. Help to hoist sails or sit back and relax. We are the only yacht licensed to swim and view wild dolphins in the Bay. Included is an island stopover for Snorkeling tours, Island walks, beach games and BBQ lunch. Depart Paihia 9.30Am-3.45Pm daily.
Reviewed April 1, 2014

We had a great group onboard the Carino catamaran - people from Switzerland, France and Holland. The boat was roomy and the staff was super informative (thanks Scott) and friendly. We also had a researcher onboard so we got an extra lesson in dolphin observation. Unfortunately we didn't get to swim with them. It doesn't seem it was even a possibility because there was no preparation, gear, etc. Maybe we missed the talk since we were picked up in Russell after everyone else was onboard. I think it would have been a pretty cold plunge anyway. We were just told from the start of the many reasons that we would probably not be able to swim with them. It's a no-go if they are feeding, sleeping, eating, traveling with babies or retreating. Even though we immediately found several dolphins that were very active and seemed interested in us, they soon joined another pod with babies. We loved our stop on the island of Urupukapuka to swim and hike. Even though most of the hike to the top can be done barefoot, I recommend shoes for the rocky parts. Great, great view. Take a swim if you have time. Lunch followed our stop - grilled sausages and coleslaw. Beer, wine and soft drinks for sale. Then it was a nice leisurely sail back with lots more dolphin sightings. Wish we had seen more than one penguin but hey, you can't have everything.

2  Thank TravelVal
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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102 - 106 of 178 reviews

Reviewed February 25, 2014

Since we had some bad experience with tour operators down south, I put some time into researching for the best cruise/sail in the Bay of Islands. What I came up with was the Carino. The perfect mixture for us:
-spacious boat (even though it was more or less fully booked there was PLENTY of room for everyone) so no "fighting" for the best seats like on most of the big cruise boats. you can move around without "loosing" your seat.
-great crew. I read one or two reviews complaining about vanessa and her crew. Maybe she has had a bad day, but we experienced a great crew which was funny, knowledgeable and first of all very friendly.
-6 h trip with about an 1,5 hour Island stopover. Enough time to explore the bay witout a hurry and still short enough to allow for familys with small children/babys (like us) to do the trip.
- most of the time we were sailing, which is just so much more relaxing than the constant roaring of motorboats.
-BBQ-Lunch: Nothing fancy, but really tasty. Just the right thing after an exausting swim with the dolphins
- smallest boat licensed to swim with the dolphins. so if you want to get close to them without feeling like in economy class of an aircraft: this is your best bet.

What we really enjoyed: They let you have the trip you want.
If you just want to relax and enjoy the sun: You picked the perfect cruise, just lay on the comfortable trampolines at the bow and enjoy the cruise.
If you are interested in the wildlife: All of the crew are really passionate about what they are doing and enthusiastic the share their knowledge. Just ask anyone of the crew and they will happily have a chat with you. We learned A LOT about dolphins and what great creatures they are.

The rest of the trip depends a bit on luck: We are talking about nature after all.
We got the chance to swim with the dolphins, saw penguins and a large pod of dolphins on our way back to russel. So a rather succesful day. That being said: There is no guarantee to see dolphins (the chances are very much in your favour though). Still I would definitely recommend this cruise and prefer it over the "big" cruises which offer a refund or free trip, since this cruise would have been great value for money even without seeing any dolphins.

Thank 974Philipp
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 21, 2014 via mobile

This is the second time I have sailed on the carino and I loved it last time. This time I still loved the boat, the spots we visited the penguins and many many dolphins. It was all great except the service we received on boarding the boat.

On boarding I was told to hurry up and pay because we were late when in fact we had been waiting in Russell for the boat which was 10 minutes late. When asked what the problem was I was informed they had been waiting in piahia despite the fact that I had the booking form clearly stating a Russell pick up. I said that was hardly our fault and she just brushed me off.

My advice to your skipper -
If YOUR late then apologize for your tardiness, don't blow the customer up for it.
If the customer is late then be gracious but explain that the other guests have been waiting and it would be best to get underway ASAP.

Common customer service 101 is very easy and goes a long a way!

Thank Livesinnz
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
CarinoNZ, Owner at Carino Sailing & Dolphins, responded to this reviewResponded February 26, 2014

Dear Livesinnz

Thank you for your feedback, we do appreciate all comments on our tour.

Yes we were late for the Russell pickup and we do apologize for this. We had been waiting in Paihia for a booking that not reconfirmed. We ask that all guests call and reconfirm their booking for weather, lunch and departure port updates. When we do not hear from guests we wait an extra couple of minutes at each port, in case of a mix up.

We are sorry your boarding experience was not friendly, we will endeavor to fix this. We are glad you managed to enjoy the rest of the day and the two pods of dolphins encountered.

Vanessa McKay
Carino Sailing and Dolphin Adventures

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 18, 2014

What a great day!
Wonderful. friendly, highly skilled and informative crew, who really semed to care about what they were doing and were keen to share their knowledge. The Carino herself was a lovely boat and it was great to travel under sail.
The trip consisted of us sailing around the bay on th lookout for wildlife, plenty of seabirds and penguins around but no dolphins at that time. We then made our way to an island where we swam to the shore, explored the island a bit, there were some great views from the top at an old gun emplacement. Others went snorkling around the rocks before we either swam back or were collected in a dinghy. We then had some delicious BBQ sausages and salad before setting off back into the bay to continue looking for dolphins.
As we were going back my wife and I were saying what a fantastic time we'd had and what a great day it would be even if we didn't see dolphins, when a call came over the radio to say a couple of pods had been spotted. We made our way over to them and were so lucky to see a large number with a couple of babies as well. They were particularly keen on playing with the Carino's rudders!
Couldn't recommend this any more, a lovely, lovely day, great value and one of the highlights of our whole trip to NZ.

Thank Ben L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 29, 2014

Brilliant attraction, sailing (i.e. with the wind as well as an engine) around the islands, saw dolphins really close up. Informative and attentive crew. I saw another boat and thought wow, there are a lot of people on taht boat, we had a handful, perhaps 20 and it was superb as there was space to move around, no crowding and 121 time with informed hosts. Snorkling off the back deck in a bay, lunch on board, brilliant day, best value. Would highly recommend.

Thank Ian133
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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