This was my first trip outside Australia since Covid and I didn’t want to go too far away. I’d booked this cruise nearly 2 years ago when Princess offered ‘bargains” to use up those FCC’s. Originally advertised for Nov ’21 but moved forward to Nov ’22 as we were still in lockdown previously. There were no balconies left so I got a mini-suite for less than what a balcony would normally cost.
I had never sailed from my home post of Melbourne before and I got a shock to arrive at Station Pier just before 2pm to find a long line waiting to get onto the pier and before long it had snaked round the corner into Waterfront Place. After about 30 minutes they let us onto the pier where there was quite a walk to drop off your bag and then another long queue to get into the terminal. They were letting people in in dribs and drabs. Onto the escalator, then staff at the top directing “blue lane” “green lane”. I went into the green lane where I was supposed to go which took at least an hour to get to the processing counter. I noticed people I’d been in line with just walking to security after I’d been in the line about 20 minutes. Then I observed the blue lane. There were just as many staff and not many people in blue lane. The blue lane was for those who had not fully checked in and needed help. The green lane which is falsely advertised as “faster check-in, less waiting” was about 10 times as long with the same amount of staff. Talking to others who have sailed from Melbourne previously said its not usually this bad. At least they had the common sense to provide some seating while waiting for security.
It was like being a princess on Princess to be in a mini-suite. It was lovely. I was spoilt.... with a comfy bed, couch, larger balcony and two TV's. The bathroom had a bath, not that I'd ever use it but it gave you a bit more space. The cabin stewards are always great no matter what cabin you have.
The ship docks right in town from where you can take yourself almost anywhere. I'd been to Auckland several times before so I booked a Princess excursion to "Piha Beach and Bush Eco Tour" where we drove through the leafy suburbs of west Auckland to the Arataki Visitor Centre and onto a bush walk (mainly on the flat) and the the black sand Piha Beach. The local guide was very knowledgable and I learnt about the flora and fauna and was thrilled to see some silver ferns growing naturally. An enjoyable day.
It was a lovely day in Christchurch. I've been there before. I was planning on going to the Antarctic Centre which can be easily reached by taking a bus from the Bus Station to the airport. With so much bad weather lately I decided to spend a few hours in the Botanic Gardens and walk along the river to those quaint boatsheds. The shuttle bus drops you off in Cashel Street near the Bridge of Remembrance. After a few hours I returned there and I wanted to see how they were getting along with the Cathedral and the guide recommended I go up to the fourth floor of the library for a birds eye view. Nice view, nice library, nice coffee shop. I then wandered around and took some photos including down New Regent Street, quaint little mainly restaurant/coffee shop type street.
The shuttle bus cost NZ$35 return, pricy compared to public transport but you walk off the ship, tap and go and away you go on the bus to the stop in the CBD. The ship docked at Lyttleton. I'd been there before and walked the Bridle Path(downhill) and up to the Timeball etc.