We boarded our long flight from Florida with two connections and then after a 7 hr. layover in LAX we boarded our Qantas flight for Sydney. I had wanted to fly Qantas because had heard of such great reviews from reading cruise critic. We were treated very well by Qantas with two full meals, snack bags, water, snacks in the middle of the next. Free entertainment throughout the long flight and the A380 Airbus was magnificent. With the camera perched on the tail you could look at the takeoff and landing and the entire flight the entire 14 1/2 flight. Such a smooth aircraft and no turbulence. We then arrived in Sydney on time and had managed to get some sleep on the plain so after collecting our luggage and going through Customs off to get a taxi and off to Four Points Sheraton in Darling Harbor for our two day stay to see the city before we set out on our 13 day r/t cruise to New Zealand. We were very happy with our room and were upgraded to a harbor view and were able to check in early, left our luggage and then set off to see Sydney Aquarium, Sydney Wildlife World and get our picture taken with the Koala Bear which was one of the goals I had set out to accomplish on our first day. After struggling to stay awake for about six hours we went to bed around 5:00 PM that day and then got up early the next day to see the Taronga Zoo, ride the Harbor Ferries, go to the Opera House and then walk to Botanical Gardens.
The morning of our cruise we checked out of the hotel at 10:30 am got our taxi and arrived at the Terminal in Darling Harbor to get aboard the ship. There were already about 100 people waiting but I have to say that it was the easiest and quickest and earliest we were ever able to board the ship. We were all checked in and aboard by 11:30 am. When we first saw our inside room we were a little concerned but once we had the beds separated by our room steward there was more than ample space in the cabin. In fact we had more drawer space and closet space left over. As soon as we started to leave Sydney Harbor the Captain came over the speaker system and told us that because of 25 ft waves and bad weather in the China Sea we were going to have to alter our course and go through the Cook Straights between the North and South Island of New Zealand to get to our first port. We were a little disappointed but realized that safety must always come first. Leaving part the Opera House and going under the Sydney Harbor bridge was magical and I must say is one of my favorite harbors to leave from. Two days at sea we then arrived at our first port of Dunedin.
Christchurch was our second port and we walked around the city, went to
their museum, the botanical gardens and did the Punting Boats on the
Avon River which was alot of fun. It is truly a beautiful city. We
again lucked out and had great weather for this port.
Napier was our next port and I have to say this was our least favorite
out of all of them. We did a private tour there and felt very rushed in
our 6 hr. tour. We booked with Bay Tours and went to a couple of
wineries which was nice but felt they tried to rush you too much. It
should be cut down to enjoy more time at fewer stops and other people
on the tour felt the same. We did have great weather for the port.
Taraunga was our next port and we had decided that we wanted to stay
close to town so we decided to climb the mountain in the harbor and
walk around the shops. We didn't have the energy to climb to the top so
walked around the bottom and got some great pictures and saw a seal on
the rocks and swimming around. As we were leaving the port that night
alot of people were still either climbing the mountain or walking
around it and stopped to wave at us as we left. We felt very special.
We had great weather for this stop.