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twangster

Live - Standing Ovation from the Land Down Under - New Zealand, 11 Nights Feb. 2, 2020

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Ovation of the Seas, 11 Nights departing from Sydney Australia to New Zealand Feb 2, 2020

 

For many years I avoided Alaska cruises on the premise that bikinis are better than parkas.  Then I finally did an Alaskan cruise.  Just wow!  Why did I wait so long? 

 

That experience got me looking even farther from home and I realized the same could be said for Australia and New Zealand.  Learning from Alaska I decided to just do it. YOLO! 

 

I've always wanted to visit both Australia and New Zealand so hopefully this will be a rehearsal for more cruising down under.  Practice makes perfect.

 

It's a long flight to Australia,  I take off early one day and land two days later.   Somehow it ended up being 2 days and a few hours to get there with a connection.  Fortunately it takes less than 6 hours to fly home.  Strong tailwinds I guess.

 

With the time change it's already well into tomorrow there.  I can never keep that straight.   All I know is that this cruise is costing me two days of my life just to get there so I have high expectations. 

 

ov_day0-itinerary.jpg

 

This is an 11 night cruise but weather permitting we'll have one day sailing through Dusky, Doubtful and Milford Sounds.  With the three sounds all on day 9 the itinerary looks longer than it is.  Here's hoping for good weather.

 

Just one tender port so that's a plus.  I tendered on Ovation before so that doesn't concern me. 

 

With the time change it seems that Sydney always celebrates New Years Eve before North America so on that basis I'll get to watch the Super Bowl a day before you folks in North America.  I'll post the outcome here, get ready to place your bets.  Super Bowl Monday here we come.  The game starts mid-morning so there may be some day drinking involved.  At least it's on a sea day.  

 

Flying into Sydney two days prior and staying downtown my plan is to take the train into the city and sleep for the rest of the day.  Other plans include the Sydney Bridge Climb and a tour of the Sydney Opera House after which I'll either crash hard or have some gas left in the tank to explore a little bit more.  If I have time I may try to find Alice.  Maybe I'll get up early (or be up already) to watch Ovation come into port.

 

My bags are packed, I'm ready to go... 'Cause I'm leavin' on a jet plane...

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Excursions

 

I've watched the cruise planner for months and booked these very early on.  With regular checking I've managed to get several price drops and great pricing on all of them.  A big lesson here is to understand that excursion pricing can fluctuate over time regardless of announced sales or major holidays.  Check often and rebook when needed for the best deals.

 

My general strategy is book something through Royal then begin to review 3rd party options.  At the same time I check the cruise planner for price changes frequently.  In doing so I often save anywhere from $5 to $75 per person on excursions by cancelling and rebooking when I see price drops.   Quite often I end up sticking with Royal's excursion unless I see something that jumps out at me through a 3rd party.

 

Bay of Islands - Lunch cruise

 

Our first stop is a tender port.  On a large ship like Ovation I always try to do a Royal excursion at tender stops simply because it makes the tendering process seamless.  If it's anything like past tender days, my excursion will meet in the theater and we'll be escorted down to a tender used just for Royal excursions.


ov_shoreex-1.jpg

 

Tauranga - Deluxe Rotorua

 

Booked through a 3rd party this tour operator picks up right outside the cruise port area.  Only downside is a 24 hour cancelation policy so if there are last minute itinerary changes I may be out this money.  The Māori culture run deep in New Zealand heritage so this guy alone sold me on this excursion.  Can't wait to meet him

 

ov_shoreex-5.jpg

 

With watching sales the next three were good deals versus anything offered through a 3rd party and it will hopefully give me an area overview and local awareness for another future visit.

 

Napier - Hawkes Bay Panorama

 

ov_shoreex-2.jpg

 

Wellington Panorama

 

ov_shoreex-3.jpg

 

Dunedin - Taieri Gorge Train

 

I wanted to do this through a 3rd party but their times didn't work for me so I accepted taking it through Royal at a slightly higher cost for timing and convenience.  At least my sale pricing came close to the 3rd party.  It went up after that and stayed up.

 

ov_shoreex-4.jpg

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Will there be pictures ? Just wondering if you were on the snowbird cruise Canada -> Fla. in Oct 2018 and 2019 and stayed at the Québec Hilton ? 

 

Great pics ! 

Edited by NHProud

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3 minutes ago, NHProud said:

Will there be pictures ? Just wondering if you were on the snowbird cruise Canada -> to Fla. in Oct 2018 and 2019 and stayed at the Québec Hilton ? 

 

Great pics ! 

 

There shall be pictures.  However I may post them irregularly as time and Voom permits.

 

Yes/No/Yes

Edited by twangster

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What are your priorities when you cruise

photography 

excursions 

destination

the ship 

food 

making new friends 

 

from what I’m reading there seems to be lots of emphasis by other posters on liquid refreshments .  

 

 

Edited by NHProud

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following.  Going to Alaska this summer.  I want to travel in your footsteps.  We have done carribean and Canada, New England.  Ready to venture farther.

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11 minutes ago, NHProud said:

What are your priorities when you cruise

photography 

excursions 

destination

the ship 

food 

making new friends 

 

from what I’m reading there seems to be lots of emphasis by other posters on liquid refreshments .  

 

 

 

It depends.  No one answer or order of excuses to travel.

 

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I really want to cruise the New Zealand route.  

My DH took me to the Cook Islands for our anniversary and WOW!!

Never seen anything as beautiful since.

Have an amazing trips and (though I don't need to say so ) take tons of pictures!!

 

Head start for you...Kia Orana is the informal greeting of "hello" 

(or more formal meaning of 'be well' or 'be healthy'.

This is used in New Zealand and the Cook Islands.

Edited by tcmagnum

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1 hour ago, twangster said:

With the time change it seems that Sydney always celebrates New Years Eve before North America so on that basis I'll get to watch the Super Bowl a day before you folks in North America.  I'll post the outcome here, get ready to place your bets.  Super Bowl Monday here we come.  The game starts mid-morning so there may be some day drinking involved.  At least it's on a sea day.  

 

Time wise, you will be watching the SB a day later than North America.  As you stated, it will be SB Monday for you vs SB Sunday for us.

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You need to take a video showing the direction the water swirls in the sink drain.  🙂

 

P.S.  Majorly jealous.  

Edited by Another_Critic

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Your itinerary looks awesome!  I am looking forward to seeing the pictures you will be posting.

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Ohhh, Twangster! This is pretty much #1 on my list of dream destinations! Unfortunately, family circumstances make a trip of this length pretty much impossible for us at this point, so at least I’ll get to sail virtually along with you. 😀

 

I’ve followed enough of your reviews so I know there will be excellent pictures, and you’re good at finding ways to post them even with less than ideal internet connections. I will be here all the way, cruising with you! 

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This looks like a fantastic itinerary @twangster.  I love your live reviews, your photography is always spectacular.  I would definitely love to follow in your footsteps but we are booked now into 2022.  2023 will be a landmark anniversary.  Maybe I can convince the wife to try this itinerary then. I'll be following this thread with jealousy in my heart.

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Wishing you good weather for the Sounds! 

We did these ports and a few others on the Radiance a few years back and looking forward to reliving some of it through your great photography. Enjoy.

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We are taking a similar cruise in February 2021 but for 15 nights.  Can’t wait and will be following your adventures!

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You will be very welcome in Australia Twangster! If you can, catch the ferry from Sydney Harbour to Manly Beach and back too. Safe travels!

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1 hour ago, tcmagnum said:

 

 

Head start for you...Kia Orana is the informal greeting of "hello" 

(or more formal meaning of 'be well' or 'be healthy'.

This is used in New Zealand and the Cook Islands.

If you are going to quote our language please have the courtesy to check your spelling.....Kia ora

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8 minutes ago, eric2011 said:

If you are going to quote our language please have the courtesy to check your spelling.....Kia ora

Sorry while in the Cook Island we tried to learn some of the local language because we wanted to be welcomed by

the locals (and we were welcomed and loved it there).  And we were taught Kia Orana.  But as I've learned in New Zealand it's Kia Ora.  Similar meanings and very similar spellings.  No harm meant...

 

Kia ora is a Māori language greeting which has entered New Zealand English. It means literally "be well/healthy" and is translated as an informal "hi" at the Māori Language Commission website Kōrero Māori. ... The word is similar to the word "kia orana" found in some Pacific Island languages and with a similar meaning.

 

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I’ll be boarding Ovation when you bring her home to Sydney so look after her for me 🙂

 

the Sounds are amazing in good weather, I hope you get it and will be following.  Looking forward to your photos as always. 

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P.S we apologise in advance for the weather! It’s going to be 39 and 45 degrees on your Sydney days (102 and 113 in Fahrenheit) so take it serious Twangster and stay hydrated with lots of sunscreen on. 

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Yep, like M-H-B says it is going to be hot, hot, hot here in Sydney on Friday and Saturday especially. If you are doing the Bridge Climb maybe try and do it early morning or very late afternoon/early evening if you can. If you are doing it Friday you can watch me sail out on Voyager at 4.00pm or on Saturday Noordam leaves at 5.00pm. Nice view of the ships leaving from on top of the bridge.

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4 hours ago, twangster said:

Other plans include the Sydney Bridge Climb and a tour of the Sydney Opera House

 

I had this cruise almost booked last year... your Dusky Sound pics and time lapse will be epic!

I did Radiance out of Sydney a few years back... I had 4 full days in Sydney... Blue Mtn, Manly beach, the zoo, bridge climb.... 

I guarantee you'll want to go back and visit Sydney... superb city and awesome people.

 

Re the bridge climb,  You won't be allowed to bring anything (ie. your camera) whatsoever up the bridge climb with you, strictly enforced, so you'll have to buy the photo package they provide you (unless rules have changed?)

 

And if you have time, and you're not afraid of heights, this is quite epic as well (your photos would be astounding from here as well... mine are incredible just with a handheld)

https://www.sydneytowereye.com.au/

 

I'll be silently following as usual... have an amazing cruise Twang 😀

 

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1 minute ago, Hoopster95 said:

(unless rules have changed?)

 

No, same rules - not allowed to bring anything.  Some things need to be experienced with the eye and not through a viewfinder.  I'm okay with that but won't have any pictures to share.

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I am doing an itinerary very similar to this in Feb '21 on the Ovation.  Can't wait to follow along with your trip!  I'm curious what you did for flights.  I am 40 days out from flights being open for booking.  Did you book with Air2Sea?  On your own?  How far ahead did you book?

 

Thanks!  Amy

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