Planning ahead for 2020 Australia New Zealand Retirement Cruise!

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#1
274 Posts
Joined Jul 2014
I need some help planning the above cruise, please. My husband and I will be 60 in 2020 and intend to do this as our first retirement trip.

What is the best time of year to visit Australia and New Zealand.

Which line has the most comprehensive itinerary of both places or is it best to do two with a land break between them?

Which are the must see places that the average tourist may not know about?

Any other useful information you think is relevant.

I know these are quite subjective questions but any help/pointers/starting points anyone can give will be really welcome.
#2
I come from a land down under
26,716 Posts
Joined Jul 2014
Originally posted by evitacruiser
I need some help planning the above cruise, please. My husband and I will be 60 in 2020 and intend to do this as our first retirement trip.

What is the best time of year to visit Australia and New Zealand.

Which line has the most comprehensive itinerary of both places or is it best to do two with a land break between them?

Which are the must see places that the average tourist may not know about?

Any other useful information you think is relevant.

I know these are quite subjective questions but any help/pointers/starting points anyone can give will be really welcome.
Main cruise season runs Oct to April.

It is best seen by land, remember Aus is about the size of mainland USA.

A circumnavigation Cruise is great, but how much time have you got.

What are your interests.
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#3
Sydney, Australia
8,791 Posts
Joined Jan 2014
I would suggest looking at March for your cruise as it is usually the best weather then. Book a one way cruise, Auckland to Sydney.

Plan some land travel in New Zealand before the cruise to cover some of the inland places that you won't see on the cruise ie Mt Cook, Queenstown and the West Coast, all in the South Island, Waitomo Caves, Bay of Islands (if the cruise doesn't stop there, and the Coromandel Peninsula in the North Island. One week minimum, two would be better.

Trying to see Australia on a cruise is impossible. A full circumnavigation of Australia takes about 28 days. Instead spend some time in Sydney doing sightseeing around the city, including a trip to the Blue Mountains, fly to Uluru (sorry, can't help with advice there), then fly to Cairns and transfer to Port Douglas where you can do Great Barrier Reef and Daintree Forest trips. The best outer reef trips are with Wavelength https://www.wavelength.com.au/ and it's also fun to do a trip to the Low Isles with Sailaway http://sailawayportdouglas.com/. For the Daintree try Tony's Tropical Tours https://www.tropicaltours.com.au/.

If you have enough time a trip to Melbourne would also be good, it's quite different to Sydney. You could include a trip to Phillip Island to see the penguins (best done as a bus tour) or if you are OK with driving in Australia then spend 2-3 days driving down to see the Twelve Apostles then looping back inland. If you choose this option do it before going to Uluru or Cairns/Port Douglas.

The northern parts of Australia are very hot and humid during our summer so by doing the cruise late in the season then doing any Australian sightseeing you will avoid the worst of the summer heat.
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Aug 2018 - Crystal Symphony - Panama Canal from San Francisco to New York
Mar 2018 - Diamond Princess - Sydney to Yokohama
Sep 2017 - Royal Princess - Mediterranean
Feb 2017 - Celebrity Solstice - Auckland to Sydney
Nov 2016 - Carnival Legend - South Pacific
Sep 2016 - Sun Princess - Papua New Guinea
Apr 2016 - Golden Princess - Sydney to Hong Kong
Dec 2015 - Celebrity Solstice - Auckland to Sydney
Aug 2015 - Dawn Princess - Top End Fremantle to Sydney
Mar 2015 - Rhapsody of the Seas - South Pacific
Dec 2014 - Sun Princess - South Pacific
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#4
Boston area
1,482 Posts
Joined Oct 2011
Just to give you some ideas from someone who is a year ahead of you on this...

We are booked on a 14 day Auckland to Sydney cruise on Celebrity embarking March 29, 2019. We are travelling with friends. All in our late 50s.

We are doing 9 nights pre-cruise on the South Island of NZ (DIYing it) and Auckland.
And we are doing 9 nights post-cruise in Australia (Melbourne/Great Ocean Road/Uluru/Sydney as my husband has already been to the Great Barrier Reef and doesn't want to return).

It's a TON of research but we are enjoying it. Get a good guidebook, use Tripadvisor and Cruisecritic and get some ideas going. We booked in this order:
Cruise
Flights
NZ Hotels
NZ land excursions
AU Hotels and excursions
Cruise excursions

Not saying we are doing it correctly, but it will give you a start.

A good map of both countries is really helpful and is Rome2Rio.com for driving distances.
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Upcoming Cruise:
Celebrity Solstice, Australia/New Zealand, March/April 201
Roll Call link: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets...fRbCZNR-19YFqQ

Past Cruises:
Celebrity Equinox, Ultimate Caribbean, November 2015
Celebrity Xpedition, Galapagos, November 2014
Celebrity Silhouette, Eastern Med, June 2014
Celebrity Constellation, Western Caribbean, December 2012
Celebrity Equinox, Eastern Med, June 2012

My Equinox Eastern Med Trip Report:
http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showt...those+planning
#6
Brisbane
660 Posts
Joined Jul 2014
Originally posted by evitacruiser
What is the best time of year to visit Australia and New Zealand.
Australia and NZ are in three different climate zones.

Northern Australia - monsoonal tropical
Southern Australia - subtropical to temperate
NZ - temperate to subtemperate

As such there is no time of year that is best for all of them.

The best time of year for NZ is Dec to Mar, peaking in Jan/Feb. Summer school holidays for both countries are mid-Dec to the end of Jan.

My advice is to go at the best time for NZ and take whatever kind of weather you get in Australia. Which won't be as bad as most people make out.

It all depends on what you are used to. A Californian might not be troubled by the heat of Uluru in summer, but a Mainer might. A Floridian would have no trouble with Darwin's humidity, but an Oregonian might. A Minnesotan might find a NZ South Island cold snap pleasantly bracing, but a Texan might not.

The trouble with interesting places that not many tourists go to, is that they are usually too far off the beaten track for tourists to get to. A couple of suggestions:

Moreton Island - Third largest sand island in the world, 20kms from Brisbane and almost pristine bush, lakes, sand dunes and beaches.
Hinchinbrook Island - Australia's own little bit of Hawaii.
Kangaroo Island - Getting more and more popular, but worth reminding people of.
King Island - Difficult for tourists to get to.
The Kimberley - Deserves a vacation just for it.
West MacDonnell Ranges - A view of the Red Centre different to Uluru, includes Gosse's Bluff.
#7
Cairns
327 Posts
Joined Aug 2011
Originally posted by OzKiwiJJ
The northern parts of Australia are very hot and humid during our summer so by doing the cruise late in the season then doing any Australian sightseeing you will avoid the worst of the summer heat.
Travelling in March will see you arrive in the north in the middle of our wet season - its glorious if you don't let a bit (or a lot) of rain ruin your day. Its low season for us and a very different way to experience the tropics. Technically there is a risk of a cyclone and while I can't guarantee you a cyclone experience you would have to be supremely unlucky to catch one. Best way to enjoy the Tropical Wet Season is to pack your sense of humour and adventure.
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cheers

Jacinta & Robert

Sailed:
Celebrity Millennium - HK, Vietnam, Thailand, Singapore Holiday Cruise Dec/Jan 2016
Lord of the Glens - Caledonian Canal Passage Apr/May 2015
Celebrity Solstice AUS/NZ Holiday Cruise Dec/Jan 2012
Celebrity Century AUS/NZ Holiday Cruise Dec/Jan 2011
#8
Washington State
1,205 Posts
Joined Jun 2002
Following this thread to catch the tips! DH and I are doing a 30th wedding anniversary trip 12-day Sydney to Auckland January 23, 2020.
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#9
southeast USA
341 Posts
Joined Dec 2006
We are also looking at early 2020 for a cruise Sydney to Auckland, I wish we had a month, but we are probably going to be happy with 2 weeks. I would like to do a few days pre cruise in Sydney. Are you planning to do any stop overs on the way to Sydney?
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#10
Washington State
1,205 Posts
Joined Jun 2002
Originally posted by crewsgirl
We are also looking at early 2020 for a cruise Sydney to Auckland, I wish we had a month, but we are probably going to be happy with 2 weeks. I would like to do a few days pre cruise in Sydney. Are you planning to do any stop overs on the way to Sydney?
We've only booked the cruise so far. It's difficult to plan with the cruise excursion info not available yet. I've got Kiwi work colleagues, so I'm hoping they'll help with the NZ leg of the trip, but for Australia, I'm clueless.
Two weeks is probably my time frame too unless I can turn it into "work" once we finish the cruise at Auckland.
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#11
Arlington VA/London
669 Posts
Joined Mar 2008
After being on our wishlist for awhile, we were able to do a part cruise/part land vacation to Australia and NZ from the last week in February to beginning of April this year. Our focus was visiting historical and cultural places as well as some of the vineyards. Contrary to many itineraries, we flew into Perth and rented a car to visit the Margaret River area before our Celebrity cruise which departed from Fremantle. We sailed to Adelaide and Melbourne before heading to the south island of NZ for the Sounds, Dunedin, Akaroa, Wellington, Picton, ending in Sydney. We then flew back to NZ to visit Aukland, Bay of Islands, and Rotorua where we rented a car to explore. We returned to Sydney for five days before flying home. We loved all of it! We were fortunate to have warm sunny weather in Australia and even in NZ the weather was nice overall. A lot of delicious food, great wine, interesting sights, and friendly people. My biggest tip for the diy part would be to spend at least a few stops staying in an apartment/hotel room to do your laundry There were 8 sea days spread throughout the 16 day cruise but they went by fast. We did a lot of planning in a short amount of time so happy to answer questions to help you plan leisurely
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#13
southeast USA
341 Posts
Joined Dec 2006
Originally posted by lilybob
After being on our wishlist for awhile, we were able to do a part cruise/part land vacation to Australia and NZ from the last week in February to beginning of April this year. Our focus was visiting historical and cultural places as well as some of the vineyards. Contrary to many itineraries, we flew into Perth and rented a car to visit the Margaret River area before our Celebrity cruise which departed from Fremantle. We sailed to Adelaide and Melbourne before heading to the south island of NZ for the Sounds, Dunedin, Akaroa, Wellington, Picton, ending in Sydney. We then flew back to NZ to visit Aukland, Bay of Islands, and Rotorua where we rented a car to explore. We returned to Sydney for five days before flying home. We loved all of it! We were fortunate to have warm sunny weather in Australia and even in NZ the weather was nice overall. A lot of delicious food, great wine, interesting sights, and friendly people. My biggest tip for the diy part would be to spend at least a few stops staying in an apartment/hotel room to do your laundry There were 8 sea days spread throughout the 16 day cruise but they went by fast. We did a lot of planning in a short amount of time so happy to answer questions to help you plan leisurely
This sounds like a fabulous trip! And I agree, I usually like to stay in an apartment situation before boarding the cruise. 8 sea days sounds like a lot for us. Did you fly direct from LAX to Perth? I am wondering about stopping over in Hawaii for a few days on the way to AUS. Just for a bit of time adjustment. How was the jet lag factor for you guys?
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Sailed! Holland America Koningsdam Norway 2018

Viking Kvasir (Rhine River Cruise) 2015
Holland America Maasdam (Canada/New England) 2012
Golden Princess (Hawaii) 2010
NCL Gem (The Mediterranean) 2009
Crown Princess (Deep Southern Carribean) 2008
NCL Pride of America (Hawaii) 2007
RCCL Adventure of Seas (S. Carribean) 2006
Carnival Imagination (W. Carribean) 2002
HAL Statendam (E Carribean) 1997
Disney Cruise (Bahamas) 1996
RCCL Legend of Seas (Alaska) 1994
RCCL Majesty of Seas (Key West) 1993
NCL (SanDiego, Catalina) 1991
Emerald of Seas (Bahamas) 1986
#14
Arlington VA/London
669 Posts
Joined Mar 2008
Originally posted by crewsgirl
This sounds like a fabulous trip! And I agree, I usually like to stay in an apartment situation before boarding the cruise. 8 sea days sounds like a lot for us. Did you fly direct from LAX to Perth? I am wondering about stopping over in Hawaii for a few days on the way to AUS. Just for a bit of time adjustment. How was the jet lag factor for you guys?
We were in London so flew Etihad through Abu Dhabi to Perth. Slept on the overnight flight and arrived early afternoon. Then drove to Margaret River which was about 3 hours away. Early dinner and called it a night but felt good in the morning. On the return, flew Sydney through Abu Dhabi back to London. We had a 3 hr. layover but were able to use the lounge to shower and then breakfast. Having the longer leg behind us, the 2nd leg was not as bad as the drive from Heathrow into the city On the sea days, which were more between the Australian ports, they would bring on different entertainers for a couple of days (music, stand-up comedians, Cirque style shows) and had shows both in the afternoon and at night. More port intensive in NZ.
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#15
Washington State
1,205 Posts
Joined Jun 2002
Originally posted by lilybob
We were in London so flew Etihad through Abu Dhabi to Perth. Slept on the overnight flight and arrived early afternoon. Then drove to Margaret River which was about 3 hours away. Early dinner and called it a night but felt good in the morning. On the return, flew Sydney through Abu Dhabi back to London. We had a 3 hr. layover but were able to use the lounge to shower and then breakfast. Having the longer leg behind us, the 2nd leg was not as bad as the drive from Heathrow into the city On the sea days, which were more between the Australian ports, they would bring on different entertainers for a couple of days (music, stand-up comedians, Cirque style shows) and had shows both in the afternoon and at night. More port intensive in NZ.
Did most of the ports require tendering to shore?
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#16
Arlington VA/London
669 Posts
Joined Mar 2008
Originally posted by Shellbelle28
Did most of the ports require tendering to shore?
Just Akaroa....
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