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About dleighb

  • Rank
    Cool Cruiser

About Me

  • Location
    DFW Metroplex
  • Interests
    Scrapbooking, Historical Costuming, Reading, Cross Stitching

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  1. I would love to see something like the Disney Magic Bands implemented on more cruise ships. Fine, make it optional for those who don't want them, but when I went to Disney, I decked mine out with a nice looking rose gold skin, and it just looked like a shiny bracelet. Plus the main RIFD part is removable, so you can opt to wear it on a chain or just put it in your pocket. I could take it off when I slept, or if I just didn't want to wear it. I could swim and shower with it, so I never had to worry about losing it. And it was so much easier than having to dig something keys, phone, wallet, etc out of my pocket and I never had to worry about the battery dying and not being able to get into my room. I didn't think I would like it. I thought it would be a pain, but it was super convenient. But just like in Disney, they are optional, so no reason that couldn't be the case for a cruise ship.
  2. dleighb

    Advice on US to Australia to New Zealand

    There are two of us, but I already reach the limit with my camera and laptop and Kindle and noise cancelling headset. I really don't know how to do light carry on. I was just under 7kg on my last trip within the U.S. It's going to be tough for us. That rule was very obviously not made with photographers in mind!
  3. dleighb

    Advice on US to Australia to New Zealand

    Thanks everyone. We ended up going through the cruise line and booking there. The airline was Qantas, and I was also being switched back and forth between full RT pricing and individual pricing. It all got very confusing. In the end, the cruise line had a comparable rate which we don't actually have to pay for right now. The flights we want going into DFW-SYD-ZQN and then a return of SYD-DFW. Apparently that still qualifies for the lower RT price even with the jaunt over to Queenstown. Now to figure out the other legs of the journey. I don't think we have very much time at all between the flights in Sydney, but at least we have US Global Entry, so we should be able to use the automatic kiosks and we should be staying in the international terminal. My research has confirmed what you all have said about the transfer between terminals being terrible. Now, to figure out how to get the weight of a DSLR camera with a zoom lens and a 17in laptop under 7kg (which is not possible BTW), and we should be good to go. Thanks for your help!
  4. We are getting ready to book our air and trying to figure out the best way to handle this. If I fly DFW- SYD-New Zealand and then a return SYD-DFW, the cost of the ticket is $1000 more per person than if I book a RT DFW-SYD and book a separate one way ticket from Sydney to New Zealand. Financially, this seems like a no-brainer. What are the logistics? I assume that I will have to go through Customs upon arrival in Sydney, collect my baggage, and then I would have to go to my airline to from Sydney to New Zealand and recheck my baggage with them. Is having to recheck my bags on the second airline the only difference? How much time should I allow between flights since I would have to do this on my own and couldn't check my bags all the way to my final destination? Is there any reason I should not save $1000 USD per person by booking this as two separate flights?
  5. BelmontBabe, you are correct. I've been researching options all day. This is harder to do when you are over a year out and can't research actual flight dates, but I want to have a plan because I've just realized that we will be leaving on the day before Thanksgiving which is one of the worst air travel days in the U.S., so I need to be ready to book my air like super early if I want to try for priority economy. I don't know if DFW SYD is a hot ticket item for people's 4-day holiday weekend, but I don't want to take chances. I also have to ease my husband into these plans and budget for them. So. . .current pre-cruise plan I am attempting to sell my husband on: Non-stop Dallas-Sydney on Qantas leaving Wed, arriving Friday because the laws of time and the international date line steal a day from me. Continue on same day to Queenstown or Christchurch. Saturday - Insane day trip tour from Christchurch to Queenstown (or vice versa) via Mt. Cook which can include helicopter trip, weather permitting. Yes, I found one! Sunday - spend day unconscious and recovering in Queenstown or Christchurch. If you had a day to spend unconscious and jet lagged, would you choose Queenstown or Christchurch? I am assuming that we would get out and walk about some. Yes, the cruise stops in Akoroa, but I want to do a Harbor Wildlife Cruise there, so I am not sure that I will make it into Christchurch. Is that horrible to miss Christchurch? Monday - take ridiculously early flight to Auckland which hopefully will still be available in December 2019. Pray that there are no flight delays, arrive Auckland around 10:00am and head to ship for check-in. Now, I've never flown in the morning of a cruise before. I've always thought people are insane to do that, so I may convince my husband to accept spending three nights in three different hotels and fly in to Auckland the night before. What is the worst that happens? If we miss ship sail from Auckland can we board at the Bay of Islands? I am assuming that we could. And just a recap on insane post-cruise plan: Saturday: Sydney to Cairns Sunday: GBR or Daintree Rainforest (depending on weather forecast) Monday: Daintree Rainforest or GBR (whichever we didn't do day before) Tuesday: Cairns Sydney Wednesday: Sydney Dallas It all looks doable on paper although I might have to mortgage my house again. I figure if we can do eight days in a row at Walt Disney World in the parks from open to close every day, going non-stop all day with two pre-teens in the Florida summer heat and humidity,, we can survive this. Sleep is not important! We can sleep on Christmas Weekend when we are back in the U.S.! And then maybe keep sleeping on into January!
  6. Yep. Weather is a risk. But weather is always a risk. I grew up on the Gulf Coast, so I get hurricane season. I'm going to keep my fingers crossed that since we will be there earlier in the summer, it will be like hurricane season in the states earlier in the summer. It's sometimes bad in June and July, but not like August, September, and October. So matching that to the seasons there, it sometimes happens in November/December, but more likely in January, February, and March. Maybe? Keeping my fingers crossed anyway. I'm also hoping for a clear day in Milford Sound in December which I hear is pretty hit or miss too.
  7. Okay, I'm coming back to this because it will be easiest to keep all my crazy ideas in one thread. I think I am narrowing in on post-cruise crazy trip to GBR. Sydney to Cairns on debarkation day (Saturday), GBR (Sunday), Daintree (Monday), fly back to Sydney for anniversary dinner at French Restaurant and maybe a semi-romantic after dinner night walk across the bridge because we really aren't doing much in Sydney which I know is a shame, but that's what happens when you try to have your cake and eat it too. Having your cake, eating it, and not gaining wait is just impossible, so you have to give something up. So, now on the front end. I'm really, really bummed, that I'm not going to see Mt. Cook. But then, I got this great idea, that maybe I could do a similar crazy trip on the front end of this cruise. Yes, yes. I have already admitted that I know it is insane, but I have done a lot of insane things in my life, so this would be par for the course. The trick would be convincing my husband. Below are my thought options: Arrive Auckland Saturday, fly to Mt Cook, scenic flight and bum around Mt. Cook area on Sunday, fly back to Auckland on some horrid early flight to board ship on Monday. Arrive Queenstown Saturday, one way rail or coach tour or something to Mt. Cook on Sunday. Scenic flight over Mt. Cook (would have to be afternoon and I read that clouds are more likely). Overnight in Mt. Cook for crazy morning flight to catch ship on Monday. Do one of the above options and arrive on Friday but fly to Auckland on Sunday for an overnight before the cruise. That would allow us to see a maybe a tad bit of Auckland although honestly, I think if we haven't died of fatigue and jet lag by then, we probably would end up crashing in the hotel and missing Auckland anyway. And the whole reason we are doing a cruise and not a land tour is because my husband hates packing up and going from hotel to hotel. The first option would minimize that. So, thoughts, rash political statements about my sanity or lack thereof. And, yes, I did look at flying RT to Sydney from DFW and then taking a one way from Sydney to Queenstown to Auckland but the air time simply increases too much when I am trying to use my miles on American. So a bunch of one way trips it is.
  8. So. . .it seems the majority feel that the better option is: SYD to Cairns on the Dec 14 Cairns Area 15 & 16 Return to Sydney or Brisbane on 17th for our anniversary dinner (possibly Auckland). Home on the 18th because we are already pushing it for vacation days around the holidays, and we are going to pretend that we will actually be able to work on the 19th and 20th. Ha ha ha!!!! As long as we don't die from stinging fish or box jellyfish or whatever things I've read about that are fatal in the GBR in December, then I'm game. The Cairns area does seem much nicer. Wasn't this my original idea?
  9. All the options I see from Cairns to Auckland have me stopping over again in Brisbane or Sydney. I could still go up to Cairns, but fly BNE-LAX-DFW which still means having our anniversary dinner in BNE. That is possible and still and option. Are there any direct CNS/AKL flights that I am not finding? Because if so, that would definitely make that more appealing. I'm looking at booking a one way air and using miles for a business class ticket back (we learned once that you want your more comfortable flight on your return flight when your tired and less excited about the destination. So, I am not sure that a round trip fare is going to be that much of a big deal. Also, I plan to take an evening flight from SYD to CNS/BNE, so if the ship is late, it should be okay. Any afternoon time we have, I can find something to do I am sure. Its figuring out what to do with all our luggage that is going to be the fun thing. Maybe we can rent a car for a couple hours or something and get from the port to the airport via a sightseeing drive around town. Can't be worse than the time my mother and I were in Berlin shortly after the wall fell, and we arrived in West Berlin, and had a taxi take us to the station in East Berlin via a couple iconic sightseeing stops all in the space of an hour. That man didn't speak a word of English and we didn't speak a word of German, but somehow we managed to get it all communicated and it worked out pretty well. We may have communicated in broken French. So, tell me about snorkeling and the stinging fish in December. Should I be concerned about that or is that a bunch of hype? I don't particularly want to get stung, but I really don't want to die, so what's the deal there? I very much want to do a little snorkeling in the GBR, weather permitting. Of course, I can't truly worry about air until January of next year.
  10. Thanks for all the suggestions. I still have many months before I have to be definite about anything although I have booked the cruise with a completely refundable option. My current thought is to go to Brisbane and take day trips out from Brisbane including one to Lady Elliot Island which appears to be considered part of the GBR, so I can lay claim to having been there. Ideally we would do the overnight there option, but we are likely to have a lot of luggage that I would rather not haul from Brisbane there. Although if we stay at a hotel, maybe they could hold it it for us. There seems to be a couple day trip options out of Brisbane, so while perhaps not the most touristy city of choice, I think it might work for us. There appears to be a French restaurant or two in Brisbane that will satisfy our French meal requirement on our anniversary night and we can fly to DFW with only one stop in LAX which is standard on American Airlines (where my miles are). I would love to get up to Cairns, but I think that is getting a little too crazy and in December apparently we run a higher risk of dying from stinging fish which would put a bit of a damper on our once-in-a-lifetime trip. I might still change my mind before all this is over, but for now, that is where I am leaning.
  11. My husband and I started dating while studying French in Brussels. During that time, we made a lot of trips to France. For our first anniversary, we decided to eat at a French restaurant. Then we decided to do it again on our second anniversary. On our third anniversary, we had to cancel our plans due to a bad winter storm, so we cooked a French meal. By then, it had become a thing. Now, no matter where we go or what we are doing, we eat a French meal on our anniversary. For our 10th anniversary, I found an inn in Vermont that rotated their meals, I asked if the chef could rotate around to his French meal on the night of our anniversary. He did. That was probably the biggest challenge. The next was the one in Fairbanks, Alaska which we barely made due to our train being late. I'm still a little amazed I found that one. I also found a really good restaurant in a strip mall in Honolulu one year. We give extra kudos when we find them with French servers who will speak French with us. One year, maybe we'll actually go to France for our anniversary, but somehow part of the challenge for me now is actually finding a restaurant. If I go to France, I lose my challenge! As for the crazy travel side trip to the GBR, we live in Texas. We are used to crazy travel, and long trips. It can't be worse than our recent eight day trip to Disney World/Universal Studios where we were at the parks from open to close every day. So my choices are currently: Dec 14: Flight to Brisbane Dec 15, 16, 17: Day trips out to include one I found that will fly to the GBR for the day. Pray for good weather as it is apparently iffy in December. French meal possibly at Aquitaine in Brisbane Dec 18: Fly BNE to DFW Dec 14: Flight to Cairns Dec 15, 16: Day trips (of which there seem to be many more options of interest) Dec 17: Either fly to Brisbane or return Sydney for French meal and flight home My life would be so much easier if I could easily fly home from Cairns.
  12. We have done some pretty crazy schedules on our anniversary, so if it is possible, I'm willing to try it. In 2016, we were on a train in Alaska for for over eight hours in the snow, arriving late, with colds, but still eating our French dinner at 9pm, and then hitting the morning early for an Artic flight, and I would do it all again! That being said, I'm not sold on Cairns as the destination and will look at the possibility of Brisbane. Maybe spend the disembarkation day in Sydney (I know, not much time, but we aren't really big city people), then a later flight to Brisbane until we fly out on the 18th? There seem to be French restaurants in Brisbane, so I should be good. I would really just like to say that we snorkeled in the GBR, I don't think I care where it happens.
  13. Arriving a day early is sort of what I am thinking. I hate adding the extra day, but I would be a nervous wreck I think if I were arriving the day of the cruise. We will likely connect through LAX from DFW, so there *shouldn't* be any weather delays, but weather can always be unpredictable. And, I looked at driving and a train, and the winner is a 3 hour flight to Cairns! I always knew Australia was big, but I am learning a bit more in depth about the geography for sure. I saw that Virgin Australia flys SYD CNS. I liked Virgin America (before it merged with Alaskan Airlines), so that is looking like a decent option. Qatas looks more expensive, and I am unfamiliar with some of the other airlines. So, it looks like I need to research a hotel in Auckland, a hotel in Cairns, and a hotel in Sydney. Or for Auckland should I go with whatever the cruise ship recommends? I know they sometimes will offer a hotel option on either end?
  14. For the last 20-some-odd years, I have saved airline miles and joked they were to be used for a business class upgrade to Australia. Well, I finally have a enough to qualify (if available) and turns our our 25th Wedding Anniversary is in December of 2019, so looks like maybe I wasn't joking after all. After reading numerous threads and looking at itineraries (and expected itineraries--thanks for the Princess dates), I think that we are looking at the Celebrity Solstice on Dec 2 with a crazy added self-planned RT to Cairns in hopes of getting one day on the GBR and one day in the Wetlands. (I know, it's crazy and not enough time, but I am doing everything I think I can as I don't know when, if ever, I will get a chance to get back.) We will have our official anniversary dinner at a French restaurant in Sydney on the 17th, the night before we fly home. So, in the next year-and-a-half, tell me everything I need to know! ;p I haven't even started looking at port options and shore excursion planning, but I am sure that is coming. This will be our first non-U.S. departure cruise, and I am terribly excited. I know that people say you can't really see the AU/NZ via a cruise and that you shouldn't try to do both at one time, but I prefer this to packing up every morning and hitting the road throughout the day. I have accepted that I won't be able to see it all and will miss far more than I would like to. My first questions, of which there will probably be many more are: Should we fly out on Friday evening and arrive Sunday morning giving us a day in Auckland to recover? Or should we risk it and arrive Auckland the morning we leave? This impacts exactly how much vacation time we have to request which is why I am mulling it about now. Am I completely crazy to port in Sydney on the 14th, fly to Cairns, and return to Sydney on the 17th? I looked at flying straight from Cairns to home, but it doesn't look like I have a lot of options there. If this is a once-in-a-lifetime trip, is there anything on this route that we absolutely should not miss? I'll want to start budgeting for it now if it is expensive! I haven't booked yet, so tell me now if I'm making a mistake!
  15. Just finished up all my photos from this cruise in case anyone is interested. http://www.pbase.com/dleighb/2015_caribbean_cruise