It has always been my dream to visit Australia/New Zealand and now I'll be on the Radiance with its floor-to-ceiling windows to view the stunning scenery.
My DH & I flew from Vancouver to Sydney direct on Air Canada...17 hrs ! But we survived, thanks to the seatback television.
Upon arrival, we were met by the RCI cruise line rep & arrived at the cruise terminal 20 minutes later.
Trains are also available to Circular Quay. It's about a 2 block walk on even pavement to the cruise terminal. Airporter buses will also take you to the cruise terminal.
If you don't see a longshoremen to hand over your luggage, go the the tent which will be on the far right side of the long line.
Day 1 Sydney, Australia
Muster drill is at 4:15 pm, no life jackets required.
All the entertainers onboard are from Australia. Tonight, it's comedian Martin Ralph.
Most showtimes are 7 pm for 2nd seating guests + 9 pm for 1st seating guests.
If you eat in the Windjammer which doesn't open till 6:30 pm, you'll see the 7 pm show, then eat dinner. The shows are all 1 hour.
Cruise director is Bill Brunkhorst from New Jersey, USA.
They show the same movie all day long in the cinema or the Aurora Theatre, showing at 1 pm, 4 pm, 7 pm & 10 pm.
They also have movies on the Poolside big screen. But most days, it was too cold to watch a movie there.
Tonight's movie is 'Pirates of the Caribbean on Stranger Tides'.
Dining times are 6 pm + 8:30 pm. Windjammer is open for dinner from 6:30 -- 9 pm. My Time dining is 5:30 -- 9:30 pm. It's highly recommended to pre-book your dining time online if you don't want to wait for a table. You can also specify if you want to sit with others or just by yourselves. I requested a table for 2 and we were seated at the same table every night with the same waiters, so that was nice.
Specialty restaurants open for dinner from 6 -- 9:30 pm.
Now that Radiance has the dining packages, they don't offer reduced prices for the specialty restaurants anymore, except for embarkation day where dinner is 20% off.
New Zealand is 2 hours ahead of Australia, so you will be turning your clocks back.
Day 2 -- at sea - Formal
Captain's Welcome Aboard reception, Production Showtime 'Piano Man' ( great show ).
Cinema -- Battle Los Angeles, Aurora Theater & Poolside -- The Help
Day 3 -- at sea -- Smart Casual
Headline Showtime starring Steven Fisher King ( excellent )
Cinema -- 'Soul Surfer', Aurora Theater -- 'The Adjustment Bureau'
Day 4 -- Milford, Dusky + Doubtful Sound -- Casual
Headliner Showtime -- Bernard Walz ( good ), Cinema 'Thor', Aurora Theater & Poolside'Green Lantern'
It was very windy in Milford Sound with a couple of beautiful waterfalls. I could only stand to be on deck for 15 minutes before I retreated to our stateroom balcony, bundled ourselves in our winter coats & bathrobes to watch the scenery.
Day 5 -- Dunedin, New Zealand -- Casual
Aurora Theater -- 'Cars 2'
Headliner Showtime 'John Taylor + Cherry' Illusionist ( just average )
Dunedin is a working port & you cannot just walk out of there. There is a shuttle available at $ 8 NZD each way. Travel time to the city center is 25 minutes.'
Here we took the Taieri Gorges Railway tour for $ 199 USD. It includes morning refreshment of a shortbread cookie, coffee, tea or orange juice. Lunch is a vegetarian lunch box with a small salad, small wrap, cheese & cracker, a kiwi fruit that was very difficult to eat with the flimsy spoon that was provided. Wine was also provided with lunch. If you don't drink wine, be sure to ask for something else to drink, like a soda pop, water or juice because no alternative was offered. Also, later in the afternoon, you'll be asked if you want a beer ( already included in price ). You can drink as many as you want.
We saw llamas ( white & black ), lambs, sheep, horses.
The water levels were pretty low so the gorges didn't seem that spectacular. There are 2 stops along the way. Both are shopping shops for local handicrafts. The prices are quite reasonable. The 2nd stop has more locally-made fashions. At the end of the trip, you can either disembark at the train station & make your own way back to the ship or stay on the train & it takes you directly back to the ship.
The quarantine control in New Zealand is very strict. They do not allow any food products to be taken ashore. Only water in sealed, unopened bottles is allowed ashore. They do have Quarantine officers checking as you disembark the ship. In some ports, they even had a dog sniffing your bags.
Day 6 -- Akaroa, New Zealand -- Casual
Production Showtime 'City of Dreams' ( quite good )
Akaroa is a tender port.
If you are not on a cruise line tour, you'll need a tender ticket.
But if you depart the ship before 8:30 am, you won't need a tender ticket.
Akaroa is a quaint seaside village which is 90 minutes from Christchurch. There is a free shuttle from the pier to the city center. There are also many tour operators lined up on the pier for day trips, scuba/snorkel tours. We just walked into town, about 20 minutes. If you want a cheap snack or souvenir, head to the Four Square supermarket in town. Later that afternoon, we were napping in our stateroom when we felt a violent shaking. I was too sleepy to worry about it but later the Captain announced that there was an earthquake in Christchurch. An hour later, there was another shaking.
Thankfully, all the guests that went to Christchurch on tours that day returned safely & we were only 30 minutes late departing Akaroa. Quite scary, though ! And the following week, they had another earthquake !.
Day 7 -- Wellington, New Zealand -- Smart casual
Headliner Showtime 'Flyright Brothers' sing the blues ( not my cup of tea )
A pedestrian path was created in 2010. Follow the signs as you exit the cruise terminal. It's about a 20 minute walk to the city center. They also have a shuttle bus for $ 8 NZD each way. You can also use the internet $ 2 NZD for 15 minutes & make phone calls from the cruise terminal.
Here we did the 9 am Cable Car + Zeelandia Sanctuary. There is also a 12 pm departure.
I chose the 9 am 'cause I didn't walk to be too hot walking around in the afternoon. However, it was still cool in the morning & the animals & birds weren't really out & about yet. We were given a 2 hour guided tour, then only 10 minutes to browse the exhibition & gift shop ( wished we had more time here ). Then at the cable car, it only runs every 10 minutes, so you much be proactive & ensure you get on the next car that comes, otherwise, you'll miss out on the time at the top of the cable car ( lots to see & do here...gardens, observatory etc ) but you'll only have 45 minutes here.
The main shopping street was bustling with people. One thing I found disturbing were children playing musical instruments in the streets. Were they really begging or just doing it for pocket money ?
Day 8 -- at sea -- Christmas day -- Formal
Santa & Mrs Claus arrived by tender at 9:45 am. All kids 17 + under received a gift. Afterwards, anyone who wanted a photo with Santa could also do so.
Day 9 -- Napier, New Zealand -- Casual/White
Headliner Showtime 'Amber Jade' Instrumentalist ( quite good )
Cinema 'Fast Five', Poolside 'Burlesque'
There is a free shuttle into Napier to the Visitor Center. We loved shopping in Napier, quite inexpensive compared to the other ports. You can also visit the Aquarium gift shop for inexpensive souvenirs.
Day 10 -- cruising Volcanic White Island -- Smart Casual
Headliner Showtime 'Jennifer Green' a tribute to Shirley Bassey ( excellent )
Cinema 'Arthur', Poolside 'Grease Sing-a-long'
Cruising Volcanic White Island approx 3 -- 6 pm. Very interesting.
Day 11 -- Tauranga, New Zealand -- Casual/70's
Headliner Showtime ' Bob Howe' Guitarist ( excellent )
Cinema 'Rango', Poolside'Smurfs'
In every port, there'll be at least one Starbucks & that's where you'll have free wireless internet ! Yippee ! Very easy to walk around here if you don't want to take excursions to Rotorua ( 90 minutes travel each way ).
Day 12 -- Auckland, New Zealand -- Casual
Headliner Showtime 'Sean Laughlin' comedic juggler ( neither funny, nor juggles much; don't waste your time )
Cinema 'Love, Wedding, Marriage', Poolside 'Camel Cowboy'
We were docked at Queen's Wharf which is a working port. You cannot walk around here. You must take the free shuttle which drops you at the port gate. From here, you can walk to the city center easily.
Day 13 -- Bay of Islands, New Zealand ( tender port ) -- Casual/50's & 60's
Tender takes approx 25 mins to the pier, free shuttle to town, can walk entire town in 20 minutes. Can also take day tours to a winery or ferry to Russell.
Headliner Showtime 'Tango Buenos Aires' ( excellent, must-see ! )
Cinema 'Limitless', Poolside 'Grease Sing-a-Long'
Day 14 -- at sea New Year's Eve -- Formal
Headliner Showtime 'Fabba' ( tribute to Abba, excellent ! )
Cinema 'Something Borrowed', Poolside ' Kangaroo Kaos Documentary'
Make a Cake Challenge ( hilarious )
At dinner in the dining room, they had hats & noisemakers for everyone.
Starting at 10 pm, all the lounges had New Year's Eve parties.
At midnight, Captain Sindre did the countdown in the Centrum, then balloons & confetti fell from the ceiling and free champagne was flowing.
Day 15 -- at sea -- Casual
Headliner Showtime 'Grant Galea' ( good )
Cinema 'Super 8', Poolside 'Vertigo, U2 in Concert'
Day 16 -- Sydney, Australia -- Casual
Headliner Showtime 'Ian Cooper' violinist ( excellent )
Cinema 'Soul Surfer', Poolside 'Captain America', Aurora Theater 'Crazy, Stupid Love'
If you are disembarking the ship today, you can only do it from 10 -- 11 am.
There's a free shuttle that goes around the CBD ( Central Business District ), route 555 every 15minutes. Take it from Stand E at Circular Quay. Last shuttle returns at 3 pm on regular days or 6 pm on public holidays. Paddy's market is the place if you like flea markets. We walked through Hyde Park and saw & heard a kookaburra. Brought that song from grade school to mind 'kookaburra sitting in the old gum tree...'
Day 17 -- Sydney, Australia -- disembarkation
Everyone will be off the ship by 9:45 am.
Enjoyed our cruise minus some frustrations with the Guest Relations staff.
In the Windjammer buffet, every day they have an Asian, Indian, make your own pizza, stations.
In the morning, they have congee; lunch, make your own soup etc.
I saw many gluten-free, sugar-free options, not so many fat-free or vegetarian labelled options.
At tea time, they have scones.l