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Solstice Live: Australia/NZ/Hawaii, Many Pix’s, Jan. 20-Feb. 3


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At the top of these boards, it says “write a review”, so here goes, in live, blogging style. Below you can see links to our last two cruise blogs. One at nearly 159,000 views from the Med on the Solstice, while the July 2010 Norway coast review is at nearly 132,000 views. It seems that the visuals make a big, interesting difference, sharing the beauty and drama from these wonderful areas. Tell me what you like, any questions, suggestions, etc.


Our party and experiences?: We are traveling with five other couples from Central Ohio and one we hooked up with on the Norway cruise from the DC area. That adds to fun and sharing for this 14-day cruise to be with good friends and wonderful, smart people.


Our past cruising?: We have done just four cruises. Late June 2006 on 204-passenger Seabourn Spirit, Athens to Istanbul, enjoying the Greek Isles over seven days. Late July 2008 on the 940-passenger Crystal Symphony, Dover to Stockholm, enjoying the Baltics and Russia. July 1-16, 2010, was an adventure on the 296-passenger Silver Cloud from Copenhagen seeing the dramatic Norway coast, above the Arctic Circle, Land of the Midnight Sun, etc. Then, June, 2011 from Barcelona for Italy, the Croatian Coast on this same 2850-passenger Celebrity Solstice. All four lines are different and excellent with great service, fellow passengers, staff, etc. What’s best? The honest answer is . . . “It depends!!!”. Ports, schedules, timing and prices vary much, especially right now with this economy, high airlines costs, challenged dollar values, etc. You need to seek what best fits your exact personal needs, budget and interests. We enjoyed sampling a larger ship and we booked early for this early 2014 Australia-NZ trip to get the locations/rooms we desired.


KEY DOWN UNDER PLANNING QUESTION: It is a long, long way (plus costly) to get down to this unique part of the world. You do not just want to fly here, do a cruise and go back home. That's why you'll see that we planned out carefully our options and schedule for pre and post cruise. AND, you cannot do it "ALL" in Australia or New Zealand on your first trip. Big, big areas with lots of diversity and great places to experience. Fortunately, we were able to do most all of our 15 airline flights via American Airline Frequent Flyer miles, and First/Business class. That saved lots and lots of money and helps fly the long hours in better comfort.




Before arriving Sydney for our Jan. 20-Feb. 4 cruise, we departed Columbus on Thursday, Jan. 9 and had two nights and 1.5 days in Honolulu to break up these long flight times/distances, plus to be able to visit Hawaii for our first time. Then, we had three full days and four nights in NE Australia’s sub-tropical Cairns area, seeing the Great Barrier Reef, snorkeling the coral formations, hiking rainforests, visiting Port Douglas, etc. Then, going to southern Australia to visit Kangaroo Island, 70 miles southwest of Adelaide. More than half of this island has never been cleared of vegetation, and a quarter of it is conserved in National Parks, Conservation Parks, and five Wilderness Protection Areas. Our travel agent calls Kangaroo Island "the way Australia used to be before settlers from outside came”. She was right, but there is so, so much more there to learn about the wilds of Australia, it animals and birds, etc. Then, we are going this morning to Sydney on Sunday, Jan. 19 for 2.5 days before our Celebrity Solstice cruise ship departs from this super scenic harbor.


Here are the more complete cruise/port schedule during these fourteen days:


Jan. 20-21, 2014, Monday-Tuesday: Sydney, Australia; boarding cruise ship mid-day Monday, then after being docked overnight on this ship sitting next to the billowing white sail roofs of the famed (now forty-years-old) Opera House, we will sail away Tuesday at 6:30 pm. We will also be docked next to Sydney’s landmark, arched Harbour Bridge (famous for New Year’s Eve fireworks). Sydney is the South Pacific’s busiest port and one of the world’s most scenic harbors. Australia’s oldest and largest city was born in 1788 with the arrival of an initial 760 British convicts.


Jan 22, Wednesday: Cruising Tasman Sea south to Tasmania; sea day on Solstice.


Jan. 23, Thursday: Hobart, Tasmania, 8 am-6 pm docked. We will have a private tour to visit the Port Arthur penal colony with its historic reminders of its prison days, then to Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary with wombats, emus and the famed Tasmanian devil, plus a little time to sample the 90 waterfront buildings with National Trust classification. As Australia’s second oldest city, Hobart has a a population of 214,000, sets in a scenic natural harbor and is at the base of the 3,600-feet-high Mount Wellington. Does an island with a name like Tasmania sound exotic?


Jan. 24-25, Friday-Saturday: Cruising Tasman Sea to New Zealand; two sea days on Solstice.


Jan. 26, Sunday: Cruising New Zealand’s Fiordlands National Park. We will get off of the Solstice in the morning during our visit in Milford Sound and go on a two-day ship excursion with an overnight stay in Queenstown. This community, with its dramatic setting on a large lake and facing a massive, sawtooth mountain range, is known as the “crazy capital of the world”. Why? This is where bungee jumping was invented 25 years ago. Plus, many other extreme sports started or are practiced here. We will stop and see the stone, suspension bridge crossing a scenic river gorge where it all started. But, no bungee jumping for us!! We will also see an old gold-rush town, a winery and a ranch sheep/dog program. Others on our ship will sail to Doubtful Sound & Dusky Sound. Lots of natural drama and sights here with the fjords, mountains, water views, etc.


Jan. 27, Monday: Dunedin, NZ, 9 am-7 pm docked. For those doing the Queenstown excursion, we will re-join the ship in this town that means Edinburgh in Gaelic. This town retains its Scottish roots and has Victorian/Edwardian architecture, a legacy of New Zealand's 1860’s gold rush.


Jan. 28, Tuesday: Christchurch/Akaroa, NZ, 8 am-6 pm tendered. Given the slow re-building after the major earthquake damage at Christchurch, we are not visiting this town. We will be taking the TranzAlpine rail trip to Arthur’s Pass National Park in NZ’s Southern Alps. We will then sample a high-speed JetBoat ride on the twisting Waimakiriri River gorge. We will also be sampling a little of this French-styled harbor town of Akaroa where our ship is tendered in its dramatic bay setting that is surrounded by mountains and major hills.


Jan. 29, Wednesday: Wellington, NZ, 8 am-6 pm docked. Hugging the hillsides around a horseshoe-shaped bay, Wellington reminds many visitors of San Francisco. It is the NZ capital and is the southern most capital city in the world. There are a number of different museums, dining and exploring options in and near Wellington. Have not finalized our exact plan for this day.


Jan. 30, Thursday: Napier, NZ, overlooking Hawke’s Bay, 8 am-6 pm docked. An elegant, art-deco city of 55,000, it has 19 miles to the south, Cape Kidnappers. This jagged promontory is near where Captain Cook anchored in 1769. Late January is the prime time to see here the 20,000 young and mature yellow-headed Australian gannets surf the wind currents. After the beach/cliff bird visit, we will head up above to a working sheep ranch and world-class golfing resort that overlooks this coastal setting for a private lunch of local specialities.


Jan. 31, Friday, Cruising NZ eastern coast; sea day on Solstice.


Feb 1, Saturday: Tauranga, NZ, 5:30 am-4:30 pm docked. This port is nearby for Rotorua, the geothermal wonderland that is also the heart of native Maori culture. We will visit Te Puia for a Maori concert. We will be focused in Rotorua that has been developed inside a crater. The area has 16 different lakes with dramatic scenery and wonderful photo opportunities.


Feb. 2, Sunday: Bay of Islands, NZ, tendered, 7 am-6 pm. About 110 miles north of Auckland, this historic bay/island region has a charm connected with its unspoiled, simple character. Our Central Ohio group will be doing a private sailing adventure on the 60’ racing yacht named the Zindabar. We will travel around and along these scenic coastal areas, stopping once or twice for beach exploring, snorkeling, swimming and having a custom luncheon at sea. Lots of options and flexibility for seeing bird, wildlife, coastal sights, etc.


Feb. 3, Monday: Auckland, NZ: arrive 6 am, completing our Solstice cruise trip. With 1.4 million residents, 31 percent of the country's population, Auckland is New Zealand’s largest, most urban city. It has a diverse population, including large numbers of Asian and Polynesian residents.


We will have two days in and around Auckland, including Tuesday visiting via a 40-minute ferry ride to Waiheke Island for their stunning coastal vistas, as well as hillside vineyards, sweeping sandy beaches, an outdoor sculpture garden and various quaint shops/art galleries.


Home? We depart Wednesday, Feb. 5, from Auckland and fly to Hawaii (at no extra flight cost due to using Frequent Flyer miles). This helps break up the long flight distances going back home. We will have four days on the Big Island there before returning to Columbus on Feb. 10.


To come next, earlier pictures/details from Hawaii, NE Australia and the Great Barrier Reef and then amazing Kangaroo Island near Adelaide.


Don't be shy!! Feel free to share your comments, insights, questions, etc. I love this "interactive" way of communicating back and forth. Our time sailing and touring will be a little limiting for being able answer all questions quickly, but I will try my best, especially on sea days on the ship. Love to get your feed-back, comments and suggestions based your experiences in these areas.


Ready to roll!!


THANKS! Enjoy! Terry in Ohio


Did a June 7-19, 2011, Celebrity Solstice cruise from Barcelona that had stops in Villefranche, ports near Pisa and Rome, Naples, Kotor, Venice and Dubrovnik. Enjoyed great weather and a wonderful trip. Dozens of wonderful visuals with key highlights, tips, comments, etc., on these postings. We are now at 158,547 views for this live/blog re-cap on our first sailing with Celebrity and much on wonderful Barcelona. Check these postings and added info at:



For details and visuals, etc., from our July 1-16, 2010, Norway Coast/Fjords/Arctic Circle cruise experience from Copenhagen on the Silver Cloud, check out this posting. This posting is now over 131,830 views.


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Terry - have a wonderful trip! Always enjoy reading your reviews. Our good friends have already booked this for next January and we are seriously considering it as well. Looking forward to your reviews. Enjoy!



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Hi Terry


Well its cruise time at last.. I do hope you have a great trip .and look after Solstice for us as its exactly two months before we fly to Auckland to join her for our trip back in the reverse direction to your cruise.



Its been a very torrid time with us both being unwell , in fact I spent Xmas eve and Xmas morning in hospital , we have had extreme heat here for the last week and there are many bushfires still going , there was a small 2.7 earthquake in the area (never felt it) and my good friend was taken ill on the way home from South Australia and ended up having a stent in his artery ....



So we feel we need a nice cruise holiday :D


So tell us all about yours please





Jean and John (Melbourne)

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Greetings, or more accurately, Aloha!, from the 50th state on our first visit to Hawaii. Flying in on American Airlines, our first impression was of seeing a sample of Maui from our plane window. Wow!! Times ten! The very dramatic mountains and landscapes of Maui were a nice welcome to this collection of islands in the middle of the Pacific. Not in Ohio anymore! After Maui, we saw Molokai at a little more distance away. Then, as completing our approach to the airport, we saw Diamond Head and the heavily built-up, high-rise driven parts of main Honolulu.


The first airport terminal impressions/surprises were of how many of these connecting airport walkways were open, allowing this previously cold Ohioan to feel the tropical warmth and fresh air. Interesting cab ride into main Honolulu, including a talkative cab driver from Thailand sharing how those from Japan now own about 65% the island. Plus, other interesting insights, comments and impressions.


After checking into our Aston Circle hotel along the Waikiki Beach, we sampled some of the areas along the beach, walked through a couple of the historic hotel lobbies/grounds. This includes the Westin Moana Surfrider that had part of its original building built in 1901 and then the Royal Hawaiian hotel with its famed pick structure and great grounds.


We had a chance to capture the sunset from this great location, sampled the music/dancing along the beach, connected with a nice couple from Australia, etc. Lots of fun and great sites for our first few hours here. Friday, it would be visiting Pearl Harbor and doing a circle tour for the rest of Oahu, including its north shore, Dole Plantation, varied beaches and coves, etc.


Below are a few of my quick pictures to prove that things look good and interesting here in Hawaii. We departed Saturday morning for Australia.


Are we missing Ohio and cold? You can answer that one!!


THANKS! Enjoy! Terry in Ohio


Celebrity Solstice Visual Highlights? From our June 7-19, 2011, Solstice cruise from Barcelona that had stops in France, Italy, Kotor and Dubrovnik, I have pull together a number of wonderful visuals of the Solstice, its features, food, entertainment, options, etc. We are now at 15,588 views for this shorter version of my larger full review of that cruise and all of the port pictures/details. Check these postings and added info at:




Here’s the first view from the balcony of our Aston Circle Waikiki Hotel room. Not a new or fancy hotel, but a great location in the heart of this famed beach area. The pink building shown under the mega high-rise is the Royal Hawaiian Hotel built in 1927 as the second destination resort on this island.:





Walking the beach areas along Waikiki Beach, it shows contrasts with the large high-rises versus palm trees and older hotels, etc.:





What is Waikiki Beach without famed Diamond Head? In real life, it is even more impressive! and soak up its majestic drama.:





Here’s one of my picture samplings for the sun setting on Waikiki Beach. I learned later that other times of the year, you cannot see this sunset this way on Waikiki. Glad our timing was so good.:





Starting at 6 pm, here is the beach-side music/dancing program across the strew from our hotel. The Aston Waikiki Hotel is the “small" 14-story one shown at the right of this large banyan tree. Pictured second is the dancer performing with these native music artists. On this dancing picture, a friend (maybe), said that I looked good in "drag". No, not even close, in so many ways!!:






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I hope you have a wonderful trip! Good thing I didn't book this trip as my mother died last week and I would have had to cancel which would have been VERY disappointing. So, looking forward to all the details. Linda


Appreciate the nice comments and follow-ups. Sorry to hear from Linda about the loss of your mother. Happy to share these details for those doing such planning for the future and/or to help bring back some nice memories from past travels in these varied areas.


Below are just six visuals from our full day of Friday touring around on Oahu.


On our flight from Honolulu to Brisbane, I was watching three of the CBS-TV episodes on the in-flight entertainment, iPad flat screens.


This technology? We had a similar set-up for seeing a variety of movies, TV shows and listing to varied music on our American Airliens DFW-Honolulu. Works nice. Good technology. Not many really “new” or good movies. AA had a number of the classics, which is great. Watched Rosemary’s Baby and part of All the President’s Men. With Hawaiian Air, their mix included TV shows and I did a mini-marathon with three episodes of the new Hawaii 5-0 with the younger, more hip cast. Personally, I am a throw-back to the old and original Jack Lord version. BUT, as our guide for our tour said yesterday, these new episodes are great for the scenery. Plots are OK, but not that super. The most fun was seeing the opening show segment with various scenes around Oahu, including the Wakakii built-up, high-rise shore line, the USS Arizona, the tail of a Hawaiian Airlines plane, etc. Now having visited the main island for the first time, there is a real connection with those various visuals that we BOTH saw on the TV shows and in real life. Fun visuals memories.


On Honolulu and this “main island” of Oahu, it is a real mixed bag. Love the history and impressive setting at Pearl Harbor with the USS Arizona. Traveling the interior to the North Shore and then looping east and down along that side of the island was wonderful. What drama with the mountains and the main different beach setting we experienced. So much in and around Honolulu, however, was not very exciting. Lots of warehouse and port setting on the initial ride in from the airport. Then, riding from our hotel out to Pearl Harbor was a big hodgepodge of single and low rise housing types intermixed with medium rise buildings. Our guide told us about the high costs of housing here. So much of it, however, was rather “average” in looks and styles. Not sure living in and around Honolulu would be that nice, nor battling the traffic and congestion can be called fun.


Our two nights, including a day and a half for seeing a few of the top highlights worked very, very well. The right and best plan. Looking forward to having our four days on the Big Island. AND, in the future, doing more on Maui, Kanai and other less developed islands.


THANKS! Enjoy! Terry in Ohio


If Venice is one of your future desires or past favorites, you might look at this earlier posting that I did on the Italy board that shows many options and visual potentials for this city that is so great for "walking around", personally sampling the great history and architecture. This posting has now had 33,177 views and I appreciate those who have dropped by and tuned in.

Venice: Loving It & Why??!!




From Pearl Harbor, here are only two quick picks/highlights. First, approaching the USS Arizona Memorial with the USS Missouri on the left standing guard. Second, is the Park Ranger on the Memorial giving historic background for why and how this site still leaks about 10 quarts of oil each day from the sunken hull of this ship that cost so many American lives. Very moving to visit personally and learn more background for what led up to this surprise attack on Dec. 7, 1941.:








Here are just four samples (from many more good ones that I could share) of the beaches and sights on the North Shore and then along the super scenic eastern side of Oahu. Look nice? Can't wait for our four days on the Big Island after finishing the cruise and time in Auckland.:












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We are all arrived and got semi-unpacked in Cairns at our three-bedroom apartment in a handy location in this sea-side town. Expect some rain here today, but you need to be ready to work around those things. At 6:20 am Monday, Jan. 13, in Cairns, the sun was rising, I could see the mountains and water ways from our balcony of the condo unit we have with two of the couples who will be traveling along on our Jan. 20-Feb. 3 cruise. Can see a little of the blue sky, plus viewing out to the Coral Sea that sets to the east of this area of Far North Queensland. Remember the name Coral Sea in our history?


Personally, I would like no rain for our two and a half days in Sydney. BUT, not being in the 90's will help significantly. And, the moisture will be more scattered for our time there before sailing away on the Solstice. We'll make it work!! Have no other choice.


We did the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway up from nearby to Cairns and then came back on the historic rail train (with lots of flowing wine) that took us right into the heart of the main town. Below are a few visual highlights. We were getting a rental car for tomorrow and going up to Port Douglas, etc. Our scheduled air flight to Lizard Island in the middle of the Great Barrier Reef has been moved back to Wednesday due to weather needs. That Wednesday flight day was still up in the air as the weather conditions are still challenging.


This sky/rail trip might be a little over-priced, but it worked well for our needs on this first day in this region of Australia. From


they summarize riding the Kuranda Scenic Railway: "You’ll meander through a lush green world, a tropical paradise framed by rugged mountains and waterfalls tumbling forever into deep ravines. Authentic timber carriages transport you between Cairns and the pretty village of Kuranda, via hand-hewn tunnels and across towering bridges, through the awe-inspiring Barron Gorge. Your senses will come alive to the exotic beauty of Far North Queensland’s wet tropical rainforests, marvelling at the incredible array of plants and animals encountered all along the way." More details and background from this website.


Did not see any animals along this route, but the rest summarized correctly many of the interesting experiences. Being with friends made a big difference in doing this trip and having it be fun. It's a little long to only ride along by oneself on such a trip.


THANKS! Enjoy! Terry in Ohio


Wonderful Kotor and nearby Montenegro? Check these postings. Have had over 17,027 views on this posting and appreciate those who have tuned-in and commented.:




For Monday in the Cairns area, we got, surprise, some rain while visiting the nearby rainforest areas. It was the sky ride to get up there, with several stop offs to explore these heavily forested areas. The first picture shows my wife and two other Central Ohio couples in our group in the heart of these large trees, plus lots of other greenery. Second is how the rain gives these fern leaves that bright and shinny look.:








Next is one of the colorful flowers in the charming and somewhat hippie-style community of Kuranda where we had a wonderful lunch and prepared for our rail ride back to Cairns. Lots of shops and interesting people in this town.:





The Kuranda rail trip took us back a different routing, plus lots of interesting scenery, dramatic waterfalls, major engineering work, many train tunnels, big bridges, etc. The rail line dates back to 1891. For our group of six, we did the upgrade to the "gold" rail seating with plenty of wine, nice food/snacks, etc., in a wonderful, old-style rail car with great service and attention by the staff The great company and nice sights (plus the flowing wine), made it very much fun on a day with on and off patches of rain.:









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Since there was interest on our cruise roll call about the Kuranda and the Kuranda Scenic Railway, here's a little more, plus better pictures on two of the other couples in our Central Ohio group for the Solstice adventure.


Even on a day with rain on and off, it worked very well to get this early sampling of Australia.


THANKS! Enjoy! Terry in Ohio



Here are a couple of pictures giving more of a sample of our Monday rainforest/rail experience, plus showing better two of the couples traveling with us on the Solstice. First, Susan and John riding on the luxury rail car. John is a former college roommate and is filling out a post card that the train provided that they will be mailing back free to the USA. Yes, those are empty wine glasses. Had about three large classes each. Made the trip very, very good and flowing with that "help"!! Plus good wine from the great vine areas near Adelaide. This picture also gives a good sampling for the interior on one of these Second are Mike and Diane with one of the wonderful waterfalls seen on this journey in the background. Third is another sample showing the rail cars making a turn with a big waterfall on the right side. Fun sights!!:











Kuranda was a fun, charming town!! Here are some more visual samples for its "style and flavor". Yes, it had lots of both, plus more "character" given its hippie past. It offers a variety of interests for travelers doing the Skyrail and/or rail trip from the nearby base of Cairns. Lots of varied shopping "opportunities", plus lots of food potentials. In the main street of this town, there are large, large banyan trees. First, it shows one of those massive works of nature in front of a cute drug and photo shop. Second, is a woodworker in his shop next to where we had a great lunch. Good talking with him, seeing his many different wood pieces. Great items he offered and learning what woods can be cut down or now due to their environmental practices there. Third is from a shop that had various leather items made from Aussie Crocodiles. There were two of these stuffed, full-sized crocs in this shop. Don't see these in Ohio or the USA too much!!:









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Speaking of "Indiana Jones", we did get to do a measure of that Tuesday while getting a car (actually a van for our group of six) to do a road travel trip up north along the coast from our charming base of Cairns. Our destinations were Port Douglas, Mossman and the scenic coastline overlooking the Coral Sea.


Below are a few of my photo samples from this Daintree Rainforest. Yes, it rained, but inside the rainforest, it caught much of that downfall and protected us somewhat/mostly. Between the roar of the river down the middle of the Mossman Gorge and the rain, it was a super great hike to see these different parts of this area we loved and experienced. During the earlier parts of the trip, they had elevated walkways that gave a different and better perspective on these sights. Despite rain on and off, it all worked well for us.


Next, Port Douglas. Today is the trip to the Great Barrier Reef, but we are awaiting word from our pilot, Greg, that all will be good for weather at Lizard Island for our flight there . . . or . . . if we have to do our back-up plan of convention boat out to these famed reef areas.


THANKS! Enjoy! Terry in Ohio



From the Daintree Rainforest and National Park, here are some samples of our exploring there. First, is one of the major waterfall, swimming locations along this river/gorge area. Second is an example of the mix of trees and other greenery growing in this unique blend of nature. Third, we were hoping to see more birds. This rooster (I think) was about all we got, but at least it was active and interesting. Fourth, we did a somewhat challenging 1.43 miles circular hike in the deep, deep of this dramatic rainforest. Lots of rocks, up and down paths, twists and turns, hard work, etc., as this picture illustrates. But we survived!! Even at our ages. Fifth, shows our group crossing the Mossman Gorge on this fairly long swinging bridge. Not Indiana Jones, but for us it was super spectacular. And, finally, the sixth picture is one of my favorites as it show John looking at one of these huge trees in the middle of this rainforest and contemplating its majesty, size and history. And I told John this morning, the picture shows his more photogenic side!:


















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Here is part two of our Jan. 14 adventure. We sampled a little of the town of Mossman with its Aussie "frontier" feel. Then, did the Mossman Gorge and Daintree Rainforest. BUT, food?? Yes, had to have lunch and get a feel for Port Douglas. This coastal town is both much smaller and more upscale than Cairns. Very nice, lots of shops and dining places, etc. Also, we drove through Palm Coast (even more upscale and smaller than Port Douglas) on our way back to Cairns. But, not as much diversity, interest, etc. Glad we stayed in Cairns. More convenient to the airport, etc.


Got to leave for airport now. More later. Even better areas and pictures!!


THANKS! Enjoy! Terry in Ohio


Super loved Dubrovnik!!! See more details and lots of great visual samples/examples at this link. Have had over 19,942 views on this posting and appreciate those who have tuned-in and dropped by.




First, here is a coastal sample of the many beach areas, mountains, etc., as we were driving north from Cairns towards Port Douglas and the Daintree Rainforest. Beach were not busy. Almost nobody there. This is their summer and many consider this region as too hot and rainy during this time of the year.:





These two pictures give a little sampling for Port Douglas. Here and in many of these towns that get lots of rain, they have covered walkways in the towns to protect people from the rain and/or sun. Got to shop??!! In the second picture, this is a phrase learning experience for Australia. "Pokies" means?? It equals slots or slot machines being there and available. See you learned something here!!:








Food? Yes, we have to eat and get ready for our dining on the cruise ship. Here we had late lunch at a local place called Salsa that overlooked the waterway in Port Douglas. Here is the chef in his kitchen getting ready to prepare our dining treats. YES! They were all super good! Want proof? Here is one of my "food porn" visual examples of the Jambalaya dish I enjoyed. And to make it more with an Aussie twist, it had crocodile sausage in it. Finally, in this dining place we had a wonderful waiter who was originally from Dublin, Ireland. He pointed me over to the wall where they had had past guests sign a plate. The signature was a little harder to read, but he explained the name . . . Bill Clinton. Signed both the plate and the menu. Then, he made sure that I noticed the date of his dining experience when visiting Salsa and Port Douglas. It was Sept. 11, 2011. But being in Australia, it was much before the terror incidents actually happened in NYC and DC. Yes, Hillary was with Bill on this Port Douglas visit. On the ship, I can provide the "rest of the story" for what happened with the Clintons when the Secret Service agents got the word about what happened back in the USA. Interesting story. More later on Port Douglas, etc.:









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and will be following you everyday.Have looked many times on Celebrity section and finally found you.Yeah.

Why did you chose that ship, itinerary,etc.Trying to narrow it down and concerned Solstice too big ,we prefer smaller.But always open to suggestions.

Let us know about Tasman Sea,hear it can be rough.

Lookd forward to your New Zealand shore exc.posts.

Thanks,enjoying my trip(on computer,for now)/:)

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Looking forward to more of your great photos as your journey moves along. Be glad you are not in Ohio - more brutal cold and snow. After tonight's predicted snow we will be more than 3 times normal snowfall in the Cincinnati area and a streak of the coldest temps in about 20 years. Our consolation is that we are headed to San Juan on Friday for 2 weeks cruising the Southern Caribbean.


Have a wonderful trip!

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Wonderful pictures Terry, thanks for taking your precious vacation time out to show all of us your trip.


and will be following you everyday. Have looked many times on Celebrity section and finally found you.Yeah. Why did you chose that ship, itinerary,etc.Trying to narrow it down and concerned Solstice too big ,we prefer smaller.But always open to suggestions. Let us know about Tasman Sea,hear it can be rough. Lookd forward to your New Zealand shore exc. posts. Thanks, enjoying my trip(on computer,for now)


Appreciate the nice comments, Ohio weather update, etc. Will answer the good questions from alexandra cruiser a little later. Lots to do and our plane to Sydney departs soon. Keep up the good posting and reactions.


More of our Central Ohio group has now arrived safely in Sidney. More on the way today, etc. Getting closer to our Jan. 20 boarding date in that spectacular harbor.


As the "advance party” down under, our third full day in Cairns really worked super well. It was the "topper" for three wonderful, full days here. We did, really, leave the best to last. Why?


The Great Barrier Reef is the world's largest coral reef system. It has over 2,900 individual reefs and 900 islands. It stretches for over 1,600 miles with an area of approximately 133,000 square miles. Just off the coast of Queensland, it can be seen from outer space and is the world's biggest single structure made by living organisms.


OUR STRATEGY/PLAN?: For our group of six from Central Ohio, we wanted to avoid the long, long (and maybe rough) ride on a crowed "party" boat out to an overused part of the reef. Those options are OK and kind of, somewhat, get the job done. But, we wanted a more "personal" experience and being able to see from high in the sky, the overall, outer edge of this reef. To understand the massive totality of this unique natural super-star, it would best best to also have an air view from above. We worked out with Chief Pilot Greg Letondeur of Daintree Air Services in Cairns for a private charter tour group that would fly us out to the edge of where the reef falls off into the Coral Sea and then go up to Lizard Island. We were originally scheduled for Jan. 14, but had to push back a day our scheduled plan/flight due to rain in the area and on that island. It was very iffy even that morning for if conditions would be good enough to make it worthwhile to fly up there and take the weather risks.


Where? Lizard Island!! Per Insight Guides, is is 19 miles off of the shore and 157 miles north of Cairns. From Port Douglas, it is 132 miles to north. It is a dry, mountainous island with very diverse vegetation and terrain. Its gentle beaches and clear water uniquely allows direct, easy access to the reef, coral and fish life. It is called a “pristine” site. Per Fodors, it is a 2,500 acre island with Cook’s Look at a high point of 1,180 feet where Captain Cook in August, 1770, found his way out of this challenging reef region that had “captured” him and his crew. Its coral reefs and marine life are considered among the best in the world. We agreed from our personal inspection yesterday!! Loved the snorkeling. Amazing views down below the water as we glided over such a wide range of different types of coral and sea creatures. Not just one or two types that you would see with such snorkeling at this location. Totally unique and so special with what we saw. Words cannot describe this underwater experience. Plus, learning so much about Lizard Island, background for how the natives would sustain themselves in these types of locations, Greg's 30+ years experience in the area, etc. And his Aussie humor and stories are among the best you can ever hope for and enjoy. The Great Barrier Reef has had a long history of use by the Aboriginal Australian and is an important part of their culture and spirituality.


Oh, we also had a super wonderful lunch on the beach with great food, company, wine and views that were so thrilling and exciting.


More details to come later. Plus, many more interesting of my visuals to share.


We flew Thursday on Qantas from Cairns to Melbourne and then to Adelaide to hook up with Amy and Milton from Central Ohio. Then early Friday am, we flew on Rex Air to Kangaroo Island and another "adventure" at this location. The other two couples here in Cairns flew on Friday to Sydney to meet up with Karen and Ed who arrived earlier there.


THANKS! Enjoy! Terry in Ohio


Did a June 7-19, 2011, Celebrity Solstice cruise from Barcelona that had stops in Villefranche, ports near Pisa and Rome, Naples, Kotor, Venice and Dubrovnik. Enjoyed great weather and a wonderful trip. Dozens of wonderful visuals with key highlights, tips, comments, etc., on these postings. We are now at 158,547 views for this live/blog re-cap on our first sailing with Celebrity and much on wonderful Barcelona. Check these postings and added info at:




Here are just a few quick examples from our Great Barrier Reef/Lizard Island adventure yesterday, Jan. 15. First is Susan looking through the plane window towards one of the small, isolated islands we passed over enroute to our snorkeling site. Second is only one small example of the outer edge of the Great Barrier Reef as it stretches its 1600 miles along the NE coast of Australia.:








Now, we've landed on Lizard Island, one of the most isolated locations in Australia. Chief Pilot Greg has done about 2200 trips to this location and really knows it well. Here we are on the beach getting his briefing for snorkeling in these reef areas right off of this location/beach. Second is a real lizard here when we walked from the landing strip to our beach location. Captain Cook named this island because when he landed, he saw so many lizards!! And we got to see several of them, up close. This picture was taken (safely) from about eight feet away.:








It is time for both our snorkeling efforts and to try out my new Nikon AW110 underwater camera. Not sure how and/or if it all would work OK in both important categories. Shot about 260 underwater pictures and it was very unclear when under water, what would turn out and how, if at all, these pictures would look. Just two quick samples below. Many more to come.:






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All of the good comments are encouraging me to do more!! And, you win!! See below for just a small, starting sampling from Kangaroo Island. There's lots and lots to share about this unique slice Aussie charm, wildlife, fun, adventure, etc.


There is some much to share and see here in Australia. BUT, the biggest fun, joy might be the Aussie people. Very outgoing, interesting, helpful, etc. We have so enjoyed interacting with the various people here in just our short time period, so far, on this big, big “island” called Australia. This included a fun couple from Brisbane yesterday on our train ride back from the heart of the rainforest to Cairns. They were celebrating their 46th wedding anniversary. It added to the local "color", especially as we had the comfort and luxury on the Gold car with the flowing wine, local food samples, great scenery, our Central Ohio group's company, etc.


THANKS! Enjoy! Terry in Ohio


Here are just six quick views from my pictures on amazing Kangaroo Island, 70 miles south of Adelaide in South Australia. More touring on this very "natural" island to come later today, especially after a great gourmet dinner last night and breakfast soon to come this morning. First is an overall coastal/beach view within Flinders National Park. Second is one view of the many angles and perspectives for what is correctly called Remarkable Rocks. Third is a view of a little "action" with two seals at Admiral's Arch. Then, fourth, here is the amazing view through that famed stone arch outward towards sea/rock/coastal scenery. Fifth, is wonderful (but heat stressed) Koala. So super cute and lovable. Finally, sixth is a picture of two Kangaroos doing what they do best on the open plains of this island.:


















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Don't be shy!! Feel free to share your comments, insights, questions, etc. I love this "interactive" way of communicating back and forth.


Ready to roll!!


THANKS! Enjoy! Terry in Ohio



Hi Terry,


Looking forward to reading about your adventure and enjoying your beautiful photos ! ! !


We really enjoyed our B2B Australia/NZ & Thailand/Singapore cruise last February and we look forward to crusing on Solstice in April 2015 from Sydney to French Polynesia/Hawaii, and then on to Vancouver. Your review will help us remember our last vacation 'down under' and also get us thinking about our vacation in 2015.


Would appreciate your thoughts and comments on Solstice... the Med in 2011 versus Australia/NZ in 2014.


Thanks, Raul :)

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Fabulous pictures Terry. But you poor things, you struck our heatwave in Adelaide and on one day, the hottest city in the world:eek: KI May have been a little cooler though.


We here in SA should pay you a commission for the fabulous way you are spreading the word about our Kangaroo Island.

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Awesome pictures. I will read the script tomorrow but you take some awesome pictures. I read several of your other trips especially the cruise in the mediterrean two years ago. We went on one of the same excursions that your took. We have already done this cruise but would love to go back to Australia one day.

Can't wait for more pictures.

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and will be following you everyday. Have looked many times on Celebrity section and finally found you. Yeah. Why did you chose that ship, itinerary, etc. Trying to narrow it down and concerned Solstice too big, we prefer smaller. But always open to suggestions. Let us know about Tasman Sea,hear it can be rough. Lookd forward to your New Zealand shore exc. posts. Thanks, enjoying my trip(on computer,for now)/:)


Just checked into the Four Seasons and have a great view of the Opera House from the 7th Floor. Will post a picture, but must go out and see more of this great town.


Appreciate the good questions from alexandra cruiser. Yes, there are a number of options for doing Australia and New Zealand by cruise ship. Here were some of our key factors:


1. We had sailed on the Celebrity Solstice in June, 2011, in the Med, from Barcelona, doing Italy, etc. This ship has 2,850 passengers, but from our practical experience, it is so well designed that you do not (in most cases) feel that crowded. As noted at the beginning, we had done three previous cruises in Europe on smaller ships with a little higher-end style (and price tag to match). We were very well pleased with the Celebrity style, quality and service from the 2011 experience. And, most important . . . VALUE for the dollar. When you compare a basic room with Crystal without a balcony, it was much higher in cost than a Celebrity Suite with large balcony, etc.


2. Our cruise, what we are doing is fourteen days, offering a couple more stops in super scenic New Zealand than many others that only run for 12 days. Our visits both Napier and Bay of Islands. Not all cruise ships go to these locations.


3. This cruise has a stop in Hobart, Tasmania. That was important to us!! Why? We could have done a cruise option that went from Sydney to Melbourne. Nice and OK. But, we've done 22 different countries in Europe and have seen the "great cities" and wonderful museums. We sought to focus more on nature, scenic beauty, wildlife, etc. We'll skip Melbourne for later.


4. Timing? We didn't want to do this trip in November or December. Too busy with fall activities, college football, the holidays. Wanted to do this cruise a little later in January to avoid too much of a "crunch" with Aussies doing their holiday travels.


With a better pricing point through Celebrity, it made it easier to promote this cruise option to other friends and put together a "group" that got us a little added savings, plus proving the opportunity for much fun and festivities among all of us.


Do these info/background aspects help? Reactions and added questions?


Will report in on the Tasman Sea as we cross it. Hopefully, it won't be too rough.


Keep it coming with more good questions, sharing of your insights, comments, etc.


THANKS! Enjoy! Terry in Ohio


For details and visuals, etc., from our July 1-16, 2010, Norway Coast/Fjords/Arctic Circle cruise experience from Copenhagen on the Silver Cloud, check out this posting. This posting is now over 131,830 views.


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Hi Terry,


I am so glad you decided on the overnight to Queenstown. Your pix are stellar as usual. I was wondering if you were on your way. Another polar vortex is to hit later this week. You picked a good time to be away.


I will be reading your posts reminding me of our trip last year.


Your neighbor from the east in western PA.



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