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We signed up for this cruise about a year ago. It was a repositioning cruise from Sydney, Australia to eventually end up in Vancouver for the summer Alaska runs.
We only did the first leg. We boarded in Sydney, cruised to Auckland, New Zealand and stayed there two nights. We had four nights at sea until we reached Tahiti, Moorea an Bora Bora, where we stayed a night at each place. Five nights at sea followed until we reached Hilo, Hawaii where we stayed for one day. We ended our leg in Honolulu for a total of 17 or 18 days, depending who you talked to. We crossed the international date line and did April 10 twice. I have the papers to prove it.
Now for the details:
We flew from Indianapolis to Chicago to LAX, so that we could catch the United flight to Sydney which left at 10:00 pm. We got to LA with several hours to spare since this is the one flight I wanted to be sure not to miss. The 14 hour flight actually wasn't too bad, given that it was 1:00 AM Indiana time when we started AND the Ambien I took soon after I got on the plane. We had entertainment-- movies, tv shows, music, etc.- but I soon drifted off to sleep and slept 6 or 7 hours.
We arrived in Sydney about 8 AM. I know this because we were the first or second plane to land and 8 in the morning is the earliest planes are allowed to come in. We went through Customs-- not a big deal, there is always a line, gathered our luggage and proceeded to the taxi stand. I had been in Sydney 2 years ago and the taxi we took then cost $50 for the two of us. This time we needed a van type taxi since there were four of us. From the airport to our hotel in the Rocks area was around $80 Australian. They do take credit cards by the way.
We got to our hotel, the Park Hyatt, a bit after 9 AM. I was worried that we'd be sitting in the lobby for quite a long time since we were so early. To my surprise, they took our bags, gave us our room keys and then took us to our room and gave us a tour! They were VERY nice! The Park Hyatt is a great location for going on a cruise since it is only about 300 steps from the terminal in the Circular Quay. It has an outstanding view of the Opera House as well. It is also VERY expensive. My wife and I, as well as our friends, are all retired. We got a deal to get these rooms at the price we did. I'll post a picture taken from the pool area. From the pool area by silentdad, on Flickr
We were going to stay there for 3 days before the cruise to get over the 15 hour difference in time between Eastern time and the time in Sydney.
During those three days, we walked around the town. I must say that Sydney is a beautiful city and a great place to walk in. The food is quite expensive though. 18 dollars for a chicken sandwich and $4.50 for a coke-- no free refills. Ah, well, that's travel. We took the ferry to Manley- a seaside resort, walked to Darling Harbor so my wife could get a Hard Rock pin- she collects them- and went to Woolworth's, a store that is definitely not a five and dime store. We slowly adjusted to the time difference, saw a lot of neat things (Opera House) and took many pictures. Everyone in our group loved Sydney.
Next up: Boarding of the ship.
Here's a pic of the Terminal taken from our room. View before ship arrives by silentdad, on Flickr
Last edited by SilentDad; May 1st, 2012 at 04:27 PM.
There had been talk on CC about the long lines at the terminal and so I was a bit concerned--not much-- but a bit. About 11:00 AM, we trundled our bags downstairs to walk to the ship. The Park Hyatt staff offered to take us in a van for no charge but I told them it would probably take longer to wait in the traffic than it would just to walk over there. However, it was exceptionally nice of them to offer. They did help us down to the pier lever-- about 10 steps. Then we walked over. There were people milling around but it actually wasn't too crowded. They had a tent set just outside the terminal to take your luggage. Australians don't expect to be tipped for the taking of the bags, so we dropped them. We did have to fill out the customs form and the usual health form and there were chairs set up near the luggage tent so that we could sit down. (Note: I had found the "have you been sick" form online at CC before we went on this cruise, so we all had them filled out the night before.)
They started checking our documents at the door and we were quickly upstairs in the Diamond line and getting checked in. We went through Customs, the obligatory photo of boarding and we were on the promenade deck getting "dinged" in. In the Windjammer by noon.
No boarding problems for us at all. We ate lunch, went to the dining room to find our table and at 1:00pm, we went to find our room on deck 8-- #8512.
By 4:00pm, we had our luggage and we started stowing things away. We had plenty of time to get ready to go to supper at 6. Sailaway didn't happen until after we were at supper. We had already gone around the ship taking shots of the city from the open decks.
We had two days across the Tasman Sea to get to Auckland, said to be one of the roughest crossings that cruise ships experience. For us, no problems. They didn't even get out the barf bags. When we were on the Rhapsody, two years earlier, the bags made their appearance, so this crossing was pretty mild. Some bumps, but the waves were never over 3 meters.
Auckland is a city that is known for it's personal watercraft . One out of three residents own a boat. So as we sailed in, there were numerous sailboats out. We even had a jet skier come out and use the wake of the ship to catch air. Pretty Amazing!
This was a Hilton. There were also some condos in another building just closer to shore than this. It was early in the morning on Easter. It was funny to see people come out of their room with no idea that a ship was beside them that was just as tall as they were!! One guy who had a place on the top floor came out in his shorts, bleary eyed and scratching himself only to realize that there were people looking right at him!
We took a tour of Auckland on a bus tour organized by someone on CC that cost $25 NZ for about 4 to 5 hours of touring. Seemed reasonable to me. I got the NZ dollars from the Purser on the ship. Quite handy. We saw the surrounding countryside and stopped at a cultural museum and gardens. What my wife liked the most was someone on the tour convinced the driver to stop a local grocery. Most of the bus trooped in-- just to see what things cost. Most brought back six packs of ginger beer and yes, they did allow them to bring them on the ship since it is non-alcoholic.
We had another day in Auckland, which also was a holiday but shops were open because the ship was in.
Here's a look at the harbor. Auckland Harbor by silentdad, on Flickr
We had 4 days of cruising to reach the Tahiti area. We read, ate, played cards, drank coffee, read some more, went to lunch, napped/read and got ready for supper. Really, there was always something to do if you wanted to and the weather got warmer as we went North. Soon the pool decks were full of people. Since we had a majority of Aussies onboard , along with Americans, and a mix of Europeans, we had a variety of styles of bathing apparel. Let me just say-- Oh My! I wouldn't wear that Speedo! But it was a cheap entertainment. Some women took pictures!! They said for their co-workers. Uh huh.
I'm really enjoying your review. Looking forward to reading more and seeing other photos of your travels!
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I am also looking forward to more review and photos, too...very entertaining.
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In all likelihood I'll never take this cruise, but its fascinating reading. Looking forward to hearing about Bora Bora.
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56 great night's sleep
3 for 3 at making CoCo Cay
Loving your review so far. I would love to the same cruise you did, only going all the way to Vancouver. Maybe some day when I'm older and have some time off this time of year. Looking forward to the rest
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After leaving Auckland, we traveled almost due North and got warmer as we went. We had four days at sea to idle away-- which was no problem for us. Our schedule consisted of getting out of the room by 8 a.m. so the cabin steward could do his thing. We usually walked across the pool deck to check out the weather and the seemingly endless blue sea and then ended up in the Diamond lounge on Deck 13-Viking Crown to get a latte ( me), tea (her) and perhaps a pastry. We looked out over the pool deck and each time found ourselves wondering how we could be so lucky. Then at 10 a.m., we usually played Canasta with some ladies we met onboard. ( I usually read-unless they needed a fourth) Had a small lunch. Went to some activities in the afternoon and then got ready for dinner. A usual sea day. Life is tough.
Anyway, at the end of 4 days we reached Tahiti. It is a volcanic island which has most of the population living where we were docking, Papeete. Here's a pic. Coming into Tahiti by silentdad, on Flickr
We had no scheduled tour here, so we got off the ship and wandered around the streets near the waterfront. We went into the city market where there was a mixture of produce- like mangos, pineapples and leechee nuts and other more commercial products like pearls. The pearl shops and booths are everywhere. I enjoyed the market.
This port is the most active freight port of the three islands we visited. So, the scenery wasn't the stereotypical South Sea island look. As we walked along the streets, it seemed more and more like many islands in the Caribbean we had visited-- similar to Grenada-- since there were always those towering volcanic peaks in the background. A tour might have changed that perception . As I said, a very active port. Here's a pic of the cargo side of the port. It just goes to show that even with containers stacked up, a great background ( that's Moorea, btw) and beautiful sunset can change even the ordinary things. Tahiti Harbor by silentdad, on Flickr
After our stay in Tahiti, our next stop was Moorea which was just next door. We could have drifted over but we cruised around most of the night and pulled in early in the morning. We anchored in the crater of the volcano ( yes, it was a tender port) Here's the view from the front of the ship. Moorea by silentdad, on Flickr
I did notice one thing on these three islands. The often shown "grass huts" on stilts surrounded by water are everywhere. A testimony to how many hotel chains that are actually on these islands. Here's a view from the back of the ship. Notice huts. At anchor, Moorea by silentdad, on Flickr
Again, on this island, we had no tour planned. We waited until the tender line was short and got on for the short ride to Moorea. As we got off, there were numerous tents set up of local vendors with all sorts of things to sell-- shell earrings, pearls and other hand made objects. There was also the almost mandatory photo stop with the "chief" and the hula girls. We were told that Moorea is the place that Tahitians go for their vacations. Definitely, not as commercial as Tahiti. Mostly a place for hotels which are scattered all about the island.
We decided to hop on the "free" taxi which was going to take us to a pearl store so that we could look at their merchandise. I had visions of the 2 hour hard sale condo presentations I've been to in the past.
I was wrong. The taxi driver took us to the Intercontinental hotel and the pearl store was on their grounds. There was no pressure, nothing needed to get stamped to get back and we had free access to the whole resort. Well, this place was NICE! At Intercontinental,Moorea by silentdad, on Flickr