3 Sydney (Australia) Spa Cruise Reviews

RCI's Voyager of the Seas Review Background Information: From 23 November to 7 December 2013, my wife and I (both Australians, regular cruisers, in our mid to late 50s) cruised with Royal Caribbean International on the Voyager of ... Read More
RCI's Voyager of the Seas Review Background Information: From 23 November to 7 December 2013, my wife and I (both Australians, regular cruisers, in our mid to late 50s) cruised with Royal Caribbean International on the Voyager of the Seas, from Sydney, Australia, to New Zealand, and returned to Sydney via Melbourne. We had an ocean-view cabin, with an outside balcony, on the port side of Deck 6, closer to the bow and forward lifts/elevators. Summary: My wife and I found Voyager of the Seas to be a lovely ship and almost all of her crew were very polite, helpful and friendly; even the (usually unfriendly) security staff. Voyager is full of terrific features, but perhaps the best feature is the Royal Promenade on Deck 5, which is a long, 4-deck high atrium that emulates a typical British street. It includes a traditional English pub, 'The Pig and Whistle', a Sportsmen's Bar (Scoreboard), British telephone box, the CEO's red, Morgan sports car, and several shops (that are not so good; see below). Of course being such a large ship, there are many other features and facilities on board, some of which are mentioned in this review. Both my wife and I - as well as many other passengers that we spoke with during our cruise - were very impressed with Voyager of the Seas, and we would certainly return for another cruise on her, in a heartbeat. The food was excellent in the main dining room at all meals, but not quite as good in the Windjammer buffet restaurant, although there was certainly plenty of variety, and we always found something to eat that we liked. However often large crowds made it impossible to find an empty seat in the Windjammer, which required frequent announcements to ask people to share tables and to move on after dining. In some minor ways the ship is getting a little bit dated and starting to look a little bit 'tired' (especially some of the carpets), but I believe she is due for refurbishment in September 2014, which should return her to an almost new condition. Positives: There were so many positives that it would take forever to list them all here, but I'll try to cover some of the things, in no particular order, that left an excellent impression on me: * Embarkation on Day 1, at Circular Quay, Sydney, Australia, was surprisingly quick and easy. It only took us about 15 minutes from Bag Drop to actually boarding the ship. Note that we are Gold Crown & Anchor members (some passengers took much longer to get through however); * We were able to access our cabins by early afternoon and most passengers (but not all) had their suitcases waiting outside their cabins before 4pm. I learned later that boarding for some passengers was a nightmare and that quite a few did not recieve their luggage until after 11pm (but not us, I'm happy to say); * The Royal Promenade is a wonderful and innovative idea, which we thoroughly enjoyed, as did many other passengers on board. It was terrific sitting with a drink, in the English pub or in the coffee shop, listening to the delightful (mostly reggae) music of 'Vibes Nation' and watching the 'world' go by; * Kettles/tea making facilities in all cabins (possibly for the first time on an RCI cruise ship, to my knowledge) was a wonderful bonus - I only wish it was standard; * The on board (free) coffee machines produce a reasonably tasty cup of brewed coffee, which we've found to not always be the case on other RCI (and in fact, most US) cruise ships; * Cabins are very well designed and ours had everything we needed, however there were a couple of minor problems (see below, in Negatives); * Plenty of open decks for viewing the scenery, especially during entry & exit from ports of call; * The ship's decor is wonderful, although perhaps a little 'tired' - especially some of the carpets (but as mentioned earlier, Voyager may be due for refurbishment in September, 2014); * The ship's large, hanging art works, sculptures, Egyptian decorations, numerous items in display cabinets, tapestries, etc. are all excellent; * Some of the shows I saw, in the La Scala Theatre, were first class; including: Danny Elliott, the extremely talented, multi-instrumentalist & vocalist from Australia; the Boys in the Band, from Australia, and Murray Raine, the puppeteer from Australia. The ship's singers and dancers were also very good, especially in the shows on the Royal Promenade, such as the 'Island Frenzy Parade'; and some of the other on board entertainment was fantastic, like "Vibes Nation"; * The 'Ice Odyssey' Show (of 47 minutes duration) was absolutely amazing and certainly not to be missed. Starring talented ice skaters from various countries, it's a very professional spectacular on ice; something I've never seen before on a cruise ship; * Repeat customers (Crown & Anchor members) received a very special, surprise treat, with the usual function, but it also included a preview of the ice skating show (thank you RCI, that was wonderful and very much appreciated); * Our Cruise Critic Meet & Mingle was hosted by the ship's Activities Director, Chris, with lots of lucky door prizes provided by RCI (which I didn't win!), but sadly very few CCers bothered to actually meet and mingle with other CCers. I thought that was the whole point of an M&M!!!; * A nice mini-golf (or putt-putt) course, although I didn't get to play a round of golf; * The ship also offers in-line skating, numerous games machines, table tennis, rock climbing, basketball, board games and many other games & activities for teenagers; * Use of the ship's thermal suite facilities (sauna, steam room & spa) is free of charge, which is terrific, except that they are segregated, not mixed gender (which isn't so good, compared with Radiance of the Seas' 'Thermal Suite', or Celebrity's 'Persian Gardens', or P&O's 'AquaSpa Thermal Suite' for example); * The parades and 70s Disco on the Royal Promenade are spectacular, especially the Island Frenzy Parade, and the guest appearances by larger-than-life, DreamWorks' characters from Shrek and other shows amused all the children - and even me (although I had thought this would be off-putting due to my older age - but not so!); * Guests in the inside cabins on Decks 6, 7 and 8, which looked out over the Royal Promenade seemed to be very happy with their views of all the activities below, although some complained that they couldn't hear the action. An in-room speaker, with ON/OFF/Volume control would be a great idea for those cabins, I think; * The service I received in our cabin, dining rooms, bars, lounges, Guest Relations Desk, Future Cruise Desk and elsewhere around the ship was excellent, and in my opinion, even better than the (usually very good) service on most ships that I've cruised on; * Even the (usually unfriendly) security staff that you find on most ships, were friendly and polite and had warm smiles; although I'm quite sure they could be very firm and unfriendly if they needed to be! You get the impression that they'd treat you as innocent, unless they found you guilty (rather than guilty until proven innocent); * Voyager handled the fairly rough seas very well, due to her 4 stabilisers and U-shaped hull; but strong winds do play havoc on her, due to the sail-like effect of her huge, 14 deck superstructure; as we discovered when we couldn't get into the port of Dunedin, NZ; * We always managed to get a seat for breakfast or lunch, in the magnificent, three-level, Main Dining Room (on Decks 3, 4 & 5), whenever we chose to dine there - rather than in Windjammer; and all our meals there were delicious and nicely presented by very friendly staff; * Our Cruise Director, Luke Aerowsmith (from the UK originally) was one of the best cruise directors I've encountered and he had a wonderful sense of humour. I was particularly impressed by his 'home-made' videos, broadcast from time to time on Channel 14 (especially his remake of the Titanic movie and his (fake) ad for the Sounds of the Seas CD); * Disembarkation could not have been easier, nor quicker. Ship side, it was a bit ridiculous having to go down to Deck 3 with all our carry-on luggage, to wait in Studio B, only to be told to go back up the stairs to Deck 4 to get off the ship; but shore side, we found our suitcases within 2 minutes and were through Australian Immigration and Customs within 3 minutes. All up, it took about 5 minutes from leaving the ship to exiting the OPT, which was even quicker than embarkation! Well done to all concerned. Negatives: Although the positives far outweighed the negatives for my wife and I, there were still some things that were not quite right, or which could be improved. Among these are: * We had no problems with this, but sadly, many passengers told us about their waterlogged suitcases, with drenched items & clothing inside, as their luggage must have been left on the wharf (on open pallets) when a massive rainstorm hit Sydney, prior to sailing; * Despite having a small (0.8 litre) kettle in all cabins - thank you & well done RCI, no coffee sachets were available on the ship (not even for purchase). Only a good variety of tea blends ('First Tea' brand) in sachets were available, although several tea drinkers on board complained about the taste (or lack thereof). Still, it was much better than nothing! Also, hot chocolate (Nestle dark chocolate hot cocoa mix 20g) sachets were freely available on board, which is terrific; * Voyager's excellent crew was let down by the ship's photographic section. They were quite rude, pushy and very unprofessional, and their charges were exorbitant (at $25 per photo)! My wife was hurt, when she was physically pushed out of the way once by a ship's photographer as he rushed to get a photo (I also took his photo!), and they told us that we were not allowed to use our own cameras to take photos! They lost many photos (not only a couple of our photos, but we heard many other passengers complain about this too); then, when we asked them to reprint one photo, they reprinted two (2) sets of all our photos and tried to charge us twice! We were shocked that before we could even select any photos, we had to pay a ridiculous $US 75.00 deposit; * At times, especially on cold or wet sea days, all the bars and lounges were full to overflowing, and it was occasionally impossible to find a place to sit anywhere on the ship (apart from in your own cabin), let alone being able to get to a bar to even buy a drink; * The adults-only Solarium is wonderful, except when it gets wet and/or windy. Everything was blowing around, drinks spilled, glasses blown away, and clothing was scattered all over. It really needs to be covered, either with an opening roof (vergola), or a permanent roof (as on Radiance of the Seas); * If one person in the cabin was asleep, it was impossible not to disturb them when the other person wanted to get anything out of the wardrobe, or go to the bathroom. The partition curtain is too narrow (only 70cm or 2'3" wide) and is not able to block any light from the bed. Also, the arrangement of the cabin lighting, with no individual switches, means that in order to be able to see inside the wardrobe, it is necessary to turn on all four (4) cabin lights & one (1) long fluorescent tube. The entrance light (at least) needs to be independent of the other overhead cabin lights and the light above the 2-seater lounge should also be independently controlled, but it's not; * There is an OHS hazard in the change rooms of the fitness centre. The top row of lockers can't be reached unless you stand, in bare feet, on the wet, slippery bench. All it would take would be a sudden list to port or starboard and you could come falling down and possibly break some bones (I reported this & hopefully it will be fixed soon); * There are only two (2) sets of passenger lifts/elevators - 6 lifts forward and 8 lifts aft, a total of 14 lifts in all (the crew has their own, out-of-sight lifts). Normally this was sufficient, but at times there were very long waits for lifts, up to 15 minutes, especially during port calls, show times, meal times and special events. It certainly didn't help either, when uncontrolled children got into the lifts and pressed all the buttons for every deck; * Disembarkation at smaller ports was often disorganised and (unnecessarily) very slow. It took us almost one (1) hour to disembark at Auckland and 45 minutes at Napier, due to the very long queues/lines and confusion on the wharves. This need not have been the case if they had given it a bit more thought beforehand - and I did offer them some simple suggestions for improvement; * Arriving at a port at 3pm is ridiculous. There was no need for this, at Auckland, and by the time we finally got ashore (over one hour later), the shops and all tourist facilities (like the museums and hop-on hop-off buses) were just about to close or wrap-up for the day; * Due to the smaller size of the ice rink (Studio B), numbers are limited at each performance. This generated 'panic' (for want of another word) by some of those attending. Long queues/lines formed, with some pushing & shoving, and with people trying to queue-jump. There was also anger and even yelling by some passengers (although most passengers were well-mannered and patient). This nastiness could easily have been avoided by simple crowd control methods, such as roped-off lanes, and preferably overseen by crew members, prior to the ice shows; * Despite having a switch & volume control in our cabin, for any PA announcements, we could not hear any important and useful announcements in our cabin unless we opened our cabin door. On some occasions we could only hear them from outside, on our balcony. This doesn't include urgent messages, about missing passengers, fire drills, etc., which were audible over the in-cabin speaker. However for the useful messages that we would have liked to hear, we couldn't. I would have preferred to have the option with those, to listen or not. For example, we couldn't hear the excellent commentary about the three Sounds/fiords (Dusky, Doubtful & Milford) without wedging our cabin door open; * We found the on board shops to be quite average to poor. Most of the shop staff (although not all) were friendly and helpful, but the shops had a limited range of goods, and sizes that clearly did not fit the vast majority of the passengers (there was a lot of XS, or Extra Small, sized clothing, for example, and only a miniscule number of Extra Small passengers on board!). Radiance of the Seas offers a much better range of shopping and more variety, while P&O (Australia) offers far more choice and variety again, with items such as potato crisps, lollies/candies, ladies' hygiene products, etc.; none of which could be found on Voyager, which is more focused on selling alcohol, cigarettes, watches, handbags, jewellery, perfumes, ladies clothing and a limited range of RCI and Voyager memorabilia. I did eventually manage to find some essentials, like suntan lotion, toothpaste and toothbrushes, etc. hidden away in the alcohol shop (of course, where else?); * We missed out on the port of Dunedin, New Zealand, which was nobody's fault. The weather was atrocious and it was too dangerous to enter the passage leading to Port Chalmers. P&O's Pacific Pearl, which was also due in to the same port with us, also gave Dunedin a big miss (we felt so sorry for the locals there that day). Unfortunately this meant that we had no ports of call on the South Island of New Zealand. However, I was very impressed by the constant updates, the apologies and the detailed explanation by our friendly Captain (Captain Sverre Ryan), Cruise Director (Luke Aerowsmith) and the Local Pilot (which was broadcast on the ship's TV) as to exactly why it was too risky to go into the narrow channel. Even so, we lingered around the region for several hours, just in case the weather changed, which sadly didn't happen. So although a negative, I believe it was very well handled, totally unavoidable and no one's fault. Conclusion: I really enjoyed my cruise on RCI's Voyager of the Seas and I would highly recommend it to anyone wanting to experience a larger ship (of course there are a few ships that are bigger again!). The accommodation was excellent, the ship's facilities were fantastic (although a bit crowded at times), the food was absolutely delicious, the crew/staff members were polite, friendly, helpful, and their service was fantastic (with the exception of the ship's photographic staff). Entertainment on the ship was overall, of a very high standard. New Zealand is a lovely country to visit, and very tourist-friendly; although I was disappointed that we didn't get to see much of the South Island, other than the three (3), magnificent Sounds. Thank you Royal Caribbean; we hope to come back again to Voyager, after we try out Rhapsody of the Seas, early next year (2014). Regards, "Grey Funnel" (9 Dec 2013) Read Less
Sail Date November 2013
Everything you want in a holiday. The crew were wonderful attentive but not to pushy with sales. The food was top of the line in the empire dining room, we also decided to sample the food in th Nouveax resturant and we are very pleased we ... Read More
Everything you want in a holiday. The crew were wonderful attentive but not to pushy with sales. The food was top of the line in the empire dining room, we also decided to sample the food in th Nouveax resturant and we are very pleased we did. It was yet another step up I would not travel on the ship again without going to it. If you attend the nightclub and you must do it at least once there is food available 24 hours a day with the pizza resturant open. I did not enjoy the buffet food some was cold but the mass of bodies was just to much. We attended all the shows and without exception they were amazing. The adult only comedy was also very good. The ship is in mint condition with rooms being serviced twice daily. Well worth having a balcony room and extra couple of hundred but the views were amazing and being able to enjoy them from your own space amazing. Plenty of info on destinations, we did find it much cheaper to take tours and pay for them onshore they were only 25% of the same tour. The food prices off the ship were out of this world m wife and I ot a milk shake $21.00 we just about fell over. Would recommend this cruise to anyone. Read Less
Sail Date September 2013
Celebrity Solstice - Australia/New Zealand 12-23-2012 to 1/4/2013 12 night pacific cruise With over 20 cruises under my belt, I looked at this cruise as one of the ultimate cruises to go on. Coming from "The States", it is ... Read More
Celebrity Solstice - Australia/New Zealand 12-23-2012 to 1/4/2013 12 night pacific cruise With over 20 cruises under my belt, I looked at this cruise as one of the ultimate cruises to go on. Coming from "The States", it is not often that we get to travel so far. This was our first trip to Australia. This was also our first cruise on Celebrity. I had to say our expectations were pretty high for this trip. The cruise ship especially. In short, some areas surpassed while other areas fell short. Keep in mind that this was a holiday cruise with over 450 kids on the ship. Not the typical celebrity experience. Pre-cruise 12/19 We booked our cruise through a TA with insurance. We also booked our air through choice air. Choice air was very limiting for us. I would not use them again. Difficult to deal with when Qantas pulled out of Auckland for the LAX direct flight. You can get better deal going through the airlines directly. They also had changes without communication to us. Definitely no more Choice air for us. Since we were flying from Atlanta, we would most likely book Delta next time. Now, I have to say, the Qantas Airbus 380 was an amazing plane. We flew from ATL to LAX on delta. We stayed a night at the Marriott LAX. Wonderful hotel with free transfers. We did walk about 10 minutes to go to the In-and-out. Yum! We stayed a night in LA before our overnight flight to Sydney. 12/20 We got to rest up and enjoy some time in LA. We took the 10:00 flight out. Definitely pay for the upgrade to premium economy. It is worth it. Economy is a little bigger than our economy in the US, but still looked painful for a 15 hour flight. The service on the plane was fantastic. Could not asked for a better flight. It was a little bumpy during the night due to the airstreams, but still not bad. We skipped a day due to the international date line. 12/22 we landed in Sydney. We stayed at the Marriott Quay. (Pronounced "key") Very nice rooms. Easy access to everything in downtown Sydney. We booked the bridge climb a few months prior. The express climb, same climb, but less time to prep due to groups. An amazing experience that you should not pass up. We ate at Sydney Cafe. Wonderful view! Pricey. We rode the hop-on-hop off bus for a tour. We took the ferry over to the zoo and spent some time in the zoo. US credit cards were no issue. You also have Internet access in the hotel and at several of the coffee shops around. The hotel does have a US conversion power plug. The cruise ship is set up for the different types too. You will not need to buy one. 12/23 the hotel held our bags. We took a tour of the Opera House. You definitely need to see this. Amazing. If possible, book a show. There are 5 theaters in the opera house. Concert hall is the biggest, followed by the opera hall. There are three other smaller venues too. We got back to the hotel and took a cab over to the ship. It is a relatively short walk to the ship if everyone can carry their bags. Once we checked in at the ship... We went back out to finish our time in Sydney. 12/24 the ship was still in port. We took a full day excursion to the blue mountains. It is a long drive out to the mountains. It is very pretty. I reminded me of the blue ridge mountains. The steep train ride was fun. The view of the cliff, three sisters, etc was nice. Not sure if it was worth the price. I probably would of done more in the city. If you have not seen mountains, I would recommend it. If you have seen the Grand Canyon, then skip it. We got back late to the ship while the safety drill was going. This was not a problem since we booked through the cruise line directly. Since we missed the drill, we had to go down for a 20 minute presentation the next day. We left out and had a beautiful journey from the dock. The cruise.... The ship: Celebrity knows how to build unique and beautiful modern ships. The Solstice is in excellent maintenance. The carpets are in nice shape. Very little signs of wear and tear. The feel is very modern and crisp. Stateroom Our room was on the 11th floor - room 1596. Our other family members had the room next door 1594. This floor is the Aqua class. We actually received the upgrade as a very nice gift from our family. There are no kids on this deck. You get free access to Blue dining room. You get daily water and teas in your room daily. Special soaps etc. You also get access to the front spa relaxation room at the front of the ship on the same floor. The rooms were not any bigger than the standard balconies. Is it worth it, maybe for some. You do not get any discounts for the spa. You get a nice coupon book with some goodies in it though. We used the discounted laundry service twice. The storage in the room is pretty good. There are other ships with more storage from a room this size. The interactive system on the TV is the best. Lots of recently released movies that are free and available. The balconies are larger on this ship. Nice balcony with table, 2 adjustable chairs with footrests. The view is a little limited for this floor due to the overhang that goes across. Good coverage for rain though. When you are taking photos, it can get in your way. Noise in the rooms are less due to no kids. The only problem is the pool deck is above you. There will be foot traffic and sliding chairs during the early evening and mornings. Not real bad, but if this bothers you, you may want to move down a floor or two. Deck 11 is the top floor for rooms. The bump outs in the aqua class may be a better choice if you do not want the obstruction. Our room attendant was amazing, one of the best. No issues there. This met my standards for the aqua class on Celebrity. Dining rooms Ocean View cafe - this is their version of the Lido/Windjammer. This is one area that Celebrity let me down. There was no difference from this versus the many other cruise lines out there. Service was lacking here. I wish cruise lines would improve this area. They need to learn from Disney on this. Allure of the Seas is the only other ship that seemed to master this. Wait times for special foods could be reduced with more staffing. Clean-up and table service cold be improved also with more employees. They do have a bar in here so you can get quick access. We purchased a soda card. We got cans of soda with ease directly from the bars. Line cutting here seems to be a little bit of problem. You can stand there and be the next in line, yet someone walks up and they take care of them first. Come on Celebrity, you are better than that! Improve your table service. More people making drinks and more people serving drinks would help. Also, the employees here do not seem to be very happy. I saw several times where employees were arguing with other employees. That is not good. Work as a team folks. Food quality was pretty good. Best pizza out of all the major lines. Wow! Pasta bar is great, but the service is very slow. Great salads! More variety with desserts. Great ice cream and gelatos! The oriental chicken need to be improved. The fajitas are good, but you need better taco meat etc. Please improve your Mexican food station. Much better with Allure. Blue dining room - not impressed. Service was severely lacking. You had to wait to be seated during the busier times. It is all first come first serve with different servers that are killed with several tables. One time, we asked three times for a drink. This is the worse part of the ship in my view. It should be a highlight. A star for those who book Aqua Class or Suites. I got an excuse that it was due to the different cultures eating at different times than the western cultures. Adapt, compromise, adjust... Staff up and fix this. The food was better in the main dining room. Main dining room - wonderful. Charles was our matre'd. He was fantastic. He worked us in with some amazing servers. You would ask for something flexible, and they would not blink. They would serve it. Wow. Wonderful service that met my expectations of Celebrity. The food quality was very good. The drink service was fantastic. No issues here. Specialty Restaurants - wonderful choices. Our favorite that we ate at twice was The Tuscan. It is an Italian inspired steak house. These Omaha steaks were absolutely amazing. Cooked to order with perfection every time. When the place got busy, the service did from down some. Samuel, the manager, took care of anything we needed. Alexander was a terrific server. Need more dessert options. Bar service - overall, the bar service is pretty good. Easy access to drinks. The Ocean View cafe was the only area that needed improvement with this. Shopping - the shopping choices are pretty good. It is catered to the bigger spender. There are not many t-shirts, candy etc options. The art shows is a big part of the cruise. Your typical park west art auctions. Here is the deal, if you want to buy art... Just talk to them directly. They will bring out what they have and make you a deal. The best art we got were not purchased during the auctions. If they know you are serious, they will go out of their way to help you. Pools - easy access to pools and towels. You do not need to sign out for towels. They have plenty of them. The solarium is very nice. There are plenty of spas. The pools are well kept and open almost all of the time. Spa - pretty standard like all of the other cruise lines. The views in the massage rooms are not like Disney Dream or Allure/Oasis. Embarkation Easy process at the Sydney port. You check your bags. Tipped a few dollars. Walked in. The lines were not bad. Since we had two days in port, guests getting on the ship were spread out over the few days. Gratuities for the cruise were taken out each day as a daily rate. Not one big payment. Aussies do not tip typically. You need to stick with the auto deposit, pay the folks directly the same or more, or take Carnival that has a no tipping policy for their Australian cruises. These people live on tips. Seas were calm all cruise long. Even when we had larger waves, the stabilizers worked extremely well. No issues at all going over the Tasman Sea. Sea Day after embarkation - Formal night #1 Melbourne - pronounced Melbin. A very modern city. We took a tour of the city and the Animal Preserve. Great stop. Up close to the signature animals. Puffing Billy was a great train ride. Lots of flies at the winery lunch and visit. 2 Sea Days - Enjoyed the ship! Relaxed. Spa visit. Fjords and Sounds Day - Have your camera ready. Reminded me of Scotland and Alaska combined. Beautiful pictures - postcard views. Weather will vary, but still beautiful. Dunedin - pronounced "dun eat'n". A Scottish based city that we really enjoyed. We took a tour of the city, including the walk of the steepest street in the world - Baldwin St. A visit to the Botanical Gardens was nice. We booked a private tour through the Cadbury Factory in town. Wonderful. Lots of free Chocolate. The price was $16.00 each - somewhere around there. Book online ahead of time. It gets busy. Arkoa - (however you spell it) the replacement tender spot for Christchurch. The only tender spot. One of the prettiest port stops on the cruise. We took the very long bus ride up through the mountains. Lots of beautiful views. Then we travelled into the Alps. Saw a sheep show and ate lunch at a old ranch. We rode the train back down the mountain. Hobbits, Lord of the Rings, and Lion, Witch, and the Wardrobe were filmed in these areas. Outstanding, but long day. Nice little town at the port to visit. Wellington - This is a very modern city. They are very proud of The Hobbit movie here. I believe the studios are nearby this town. We toured the city. The cable car up the side of the mountain was nice. This was followed up with a visit to Zealandia. A sort of Jurassic park that is trying to recapture what life was like before humans arrived. Great photo opportunities for nature and rare animals. Another nice day at sea. (Formal night #2 - only two for this cruise.) Tauranga - Our last day was a trip to the countryside to ride a jet boat! What a blast we had! You must do the river jet boat ride if you want a fun thrill. Everyone had so much fun. Kiwi capital of the world here. Lots of Kiwi all over. This is a retirement and vacation community with lots of beaches nearby. Lots of things to do here. I wish we had more time here. Auckland and debarkation - Our end to the cruise. Debarkation was very smooth. No issues. All sorts of options for times etc. Easy customs process. Luggage service was fine. the best part is that we stayed in the Hilton Hotel. The Hilton Hotel shares the same building as the terminal. You walk out. Take a right. Walk about 50 steps. You are at your hotel! Very pricey, but nice. Ask for the conversion if you need it. The wall outlet conversion in 220. the can give you a 110 transformer if you need one. Safer for smaller appliances. Auckland was a beautiful town. We went to the Japanese steak house across the street from the Ferry Building. The hotel service was top notch. Easy access to cabs for a ride the airport. It takes about 45 minutes to get to the airport. Early morning may only take 25-30 minutes. The airport process went smooth. Amazing international terminal with lots of shops in Sydney. We flew back to LAX via Sydney. Gained back a day. First time in my life where I left at 6:00 am on a Saturday, flew 22 hours (flights and holds), and arrive the same day at 6:20 am on the same Saturday. We stayed at the Marriott LAX again. We took a $25.00 cab ride to Manhattan Beach. We ate at an amazing restaurant called Rock'n Fish. Say hello to Matt for me. Tell him the Clemson folks from GA referred you. Matt is the GM for the location. Best seafood on the entire trip. Wonderful atmosphere. Please e-mail me if you have any questions. This is a once in a life time trip for most. Enjoy it! Read Less
Sail Date December 2012

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