I need some reviews or info from anyone who has been on a cruise to this destination. There are a few out there but so far I've only come up w/ 2 or 3.(reviews) The library is great & also the internet , but nothing like the "been there, done that".
This is a long cruise-tour, 22 days. 14 on the sea & 8 on land. Would love to hear from someone, anyone!
Frank...I've been to Australia, but never by ship. And have yet to visit New Zealand. I can't wait to get your input. For example, I've heard NZ is one of the most beautiful places on earth, but does a visit by ship do it justice? Is there enough time spent there to see the spectacular beauty? I can't wait to get your feedback to the question above.
I'd probably opt for Orient's Marcho Polo, although several ships (including Renaissance) are having extensive seasons in this area.
When I know which ports are involved I shall be able to give some sort of sensible answer, well, as sensible as I can make it.
In general NZ is a huge mixtue. Cities tend to be very small, (the population is not much more than 3 million, but very diverse. Parts of NZ are quite spectacular, mainly on the South Island, where you find a lot of mountainous scenery which stretches down to Fjords such as Milford Sound. If you are looking for razamataz NZ is not the place. Most ship visits are to the North island. Auckalnd, Bay of Islands etc. Auckland is an administration city so not very touristy. The Bay of Islands, at the very Northern Tip of NZ has a slight sub-tropical atmosphere about it and would the closest that NZ has to offer if compared to parts of The Australian Whitsundays or the Caribbean. If the ship also stops at Tauraga in the Bay of Plenty you do have time to visit the thermal region of Rotorua, which is interesting, if a bit smelly from the sulphur fumes. You always have to remember that NZ is called 'The Land of the Long White Cloud' and it is well deserved - at any time of the year make sure you have a raincoat close at hand.
Australia is as different from NZ as Canada is to Caribbean. Most ships call to the East coast ports Sydney, Brisbane, Cid Harbour (for the Whitsundays) & Cairns. Sydney most people know quite well so I don't really have to say anything. Brisbane is the capital of Queensland and is again an administration city although there are some good local trips to take, or you can get to the Gold Coast in around an hour which is probably the best option. The Gold Coast is Australia's seventh largest city and devoted to only one purpose - making travellers welcome and happy. The hundreds of kilometres of Golden beach help things along.
If you go to an anchorage in the Whitsundays a whole new world opens up. When you go out on deck in the morning you will find your ship surrounded by beautiful islands, luxury yachts and catamarans rushing around and an atmosphere that seems to say - OK so slow down for a bit this is a place where you just let things happen. On the mainland and the islands you will see how green and tropical this wonderous part of the world can be. Visit one or two of the numerous islands during the day and you will see why this region is called the world's best kept tourist secret. If you wish you can book on one of the big cats out to the Great Barrier Reef - I would be surprised if the ship hadn't at least one tour doing this. However, unless you want to do some SCUBA or snorkelling you aren't going to see much, as all the good stuff is underwater and it's not quite the same from a glass bottom boat - still it is a lot of fun just going for the ride.
Cairns is a northern city that sits and swelters in the sun. very tropical with great marine and rainforest tours. The harbour is constantly being upgraded to keep up with passenger ship requirements but I would be very surprised if and ships like the 'Grand' class could make it in. To me Cairns is the sort of place whre I would take a short tour to get to see a bit of the area, then spend the rest of the day just mooching around town. All the Australian regions you will find clean, well serviced, with safe food and water and quite a friendly mob of people you help you along.
Shopping - NZ - Wool items - small carvings
Australia - Just about everything from opals to aboriginal art.
Pricing- New Zealand - can be a bit overpriced on food items but if you stay away from the obvious traps - quite reasonable on other things.
Australia - Sydney - gets a bit expensive as they get the bulk of the tourists - so mark up accordingly. - Brisbane cheaper - good range - but you have to go looking for it. The Whitsundays - Can get expensive as most things have to be flown or shipped in - Seafood splendid at at very reasonable prices. This region really into the t-shirt sort of thing.
Cairns - Similar to Whitsundays - slightly better range - and you can finds some good bargains if you go looking. Restaurants - unless you go looking for five star it is quite reasonable and you do get to try some dishes that you probably haven't tried before.
One good thing - If you have US$ the current rate of exchange means that you almost double your spending power - and the cost of things is about the same as at home - so you can afford a little more fun
Thanks for the email, I certainly hope you are fit as your litle adventure covers a lot of territory - all very different and at a time of the year when, weather wise, anything can happen,
Auckland for three days is a little tricky. This is an administration city and not really very geared to tourism. You could go out to One Tree Hill as a day tour but don't go too far as the ship calls at other places quite close to Auckland. If you want any woollen clothing for your next winter this would be the place to get them.
Tauranga. Really a fishing town that has discovered that its proximity to Rotorua makes it a (sort of) cruise port. Set in the Bay of Plenty it's main claim to fame apart from fishing is that it grows Kiwi Fruit for export around the world. However, the real reason for the call is to let you get to Rotorua. New Zealand is really a termal time bomb and at Rotorua you get to see and smell, the geysers of bubbling mud and stuff. If you like the smell of rotten eggs you will love this place. Still you do get to see some of the Moari culture.
Bay of Islands. Depending on where you anchor you will either land at Opua or down at, cant think of the name, could be Waitangi. Visibly very attractive but you will see better in the Whitsundays. Lots of short tours to had and you can get to see the Treaty House where the Moari wars ended.
Christchurch - Wellington - Dunedin. I have to lump these together as I have only visited a couple of times and then stayed close to the ship. These are very small cities which do have boutique tours to local places of interest but I must confess I never took any of them.
Fjordland Park. I assume they mean to steam between Stewart Isand and the South Island. Very spectacular scenery although in February the snow will be absent. You may steam into Milford Sound for a bit of a look around which is very worthwhile and a photographers dream.
Hobart. Another small city, this one sits at the base of Mt Wellington. Can be interesting if you go out to Richmond which is quite historic for Australia and (I think) boasts Australia's oldest jail. If that is not your style you can always go and lose you money at Wrest Point Casino. Some very good small restaurants are scattered around the town. Tasmania was where the bad convicts were sent and has rather a brutal history.
Melbourne:After getting through the horror that is Port Melbourne you will find a city that likes to think of itself as the "Arts Culture' Australian city. Heaps of restarants and shops to to keep you amused but not really a 'fun city' (in my opinion). If you don't want to hang around town you could take a tour out to the Dandenong Ranges, which is OK and will fill in the day.
Sydney. Only one night???. Well forget all the tours and stuff. Have a quick look at the Opera House, then pay a visit to Darling Harbour which is good to get the atmosphere of the place. Then hit the bars around the 'Rocks' area behind Circular Quay. Steeped in the history of this quite dazzling city and populated by people who are a little different to the norm. DO NOT SHOP in the Rocks as it is very expensive. You really could spend a day in the Rocks just watching the world pass by your door.
Cairns in February: Probably will be very hot and sticky, with a definate change of short sharp tropical downpours. Dunk Island is just one of the many that are scattered around the Whitsundays. You will have ball. Very 'lay back and let it happen'. Plenty of beaches, ocean and water sports, then good dining and relaxed bars in the evening. You can get some quite spectacular sunsets so be prepared.
Never been to Silky Oaks but the Daintree is certainly not to be missed. Fascinating rainforest with heaps of flora and fauna and not all the little creatures are trying to bite or sting you - only some of them.
Depending on where on the Barrier Reef you are going, there are many different things to see and do but it is mainly centred around SCUBA diving and snorkelling. The water is always warm and clear so no roblems there unless you get a tropical downpour. Just make sure that the platform you are visiting has good facilities - most of them do. Plus, I have noticed that a few people get quite affected by the motion on the big cats going out to the reef so perhaps some tablets would not be amiss.
Anyhow - I just know you are going to love it. As to the rules - well No1, just take things slow and let it happen, that is the Australian way. No2 - don't shop in the tourist areas - No3 - same as No1
From the sound of Frank's reply, it sounds like my wife and I may be taking the same trip you are, albeit in November instead of February. We are taking Princess' Sydney to Auckland with a precruise tour at Silky Oaks and Dunk Island. We also plan an extra 2 nights at the end of the cruise in Auckland.
It's been pretty hard getting information from anyone that's taken these trips, even though they've already happened this season. It may not be much help at the time, but I'll post a review of the trip after we take it.
We will be traveling on the Ledgend of the Sea Auckland to Sydney 14-night cruise, on January 6, 2002. We will stay a extra 3 extra nights, at the Sydney Hotel Intercontinental, after the cruise, What are some other things that we can do from Sydney?
Frank, I enjoyed all the information you have shared. Thanks!!
Three days in Sydney Eh? - Well depending on your taste, there are heaps of things to do. Now how you go about things in January is up for some question. If you come from a hot state - no problem but if you come from a cold climate January can get a bit uncomfortable, as it is right in the middle of summer, so lots of heat can be expected and possible rain (warm rain). However New South Wales has a much dryer heat than we get up here in Queensland so it is not so oppressive, but plan take things at an easy pace.
Naturally the Opera House is a must, it is not really that impressive but at least you can say that you did it but if you elect for the full tour be prepared for a lot of walking. If you have lots of loot you can book in for dinner at the Bennalong Restaurant. Food is passable (expensive) but the view is great.
Captain Cook Cruises run super harbour tours both day and evening, the day tours give you the sights but a dinner cruise shows the city off to best advantage, Sydney really does shine at night.
If you want to get out of the city you could take a tour to the Blue Mountains (full day). Once there do not expect a huge tourist infrastructure, you go mainly for the views of the Three Sisters and the landscape which goes off into infinity. This is a long tour but it does show off the suburbs and how they fade out to the bush.
There are Good Hunter Valley Wine tours which depart daily, will cost you around US$45. For around US$50 you can combine a harbour cruise with Featherdale wild life park - that is if you want to see some cute and not so cute creatures.
Darling Harbour is a good place to spend a few hours. This used to be the old Pyrmont Wharves area and I dispatched many a cruise ship from here many moons ago) - now it is a very plush and vibrant place to go and view the inner harbour, do some shopping, have a meal and a few cool drinks.
The Rocks area behind the Circular Quay wharves is a good place to go and get a bit of the history feel of the city, (Sydney has a cruel and violent history) even though it has now gone touristy.
My suggestion. Day one - do Either Blue Mountains - Hunter Valley, then come back to the city and dine in one of the many restaurants that hug the harbour.(Or a show at the Opera House)
Day two - Do the Opera House in the morning - then to The Rocks - then over to Darling Harbour. In the evening do a dinner cruise with Captain Cook (John Cadman Dinner Cruise) approx US$50 - After that -well there are heaps of nice bars and things to while away the rest of the night.
However - having said all that - none of it may suit your taste. Not to worry Sydney is the sort of city where you can just wander and find things to do. - Even go to Taronga Park Zoo which is interesting and only a ferry ride away (great harbour views from the zoo)
The Intercontinental Hotel is OK and does have a desk where you can get any of the above arranged.